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James Kirchik has been digging through some of Ron Paul's old newsletters. It's not a pretty sight.
Finding the pre-1999 newsletters was no easy task, but I was able to track many of them down at the libraries of the University of Kansas and the Wisconsin Historical Society. Of course, with few bylines, it is difficult to know whether any particular article was written by Paul himself. Some of the earlier newsletters are signed by him, though the vast majority of the editions I saw contain no bylines at all. Complicating matters, many of the unbylined newsletters were written in the first-person, implying that Paul was the author.
I voted for Paul for President in 1988, primarily because I tended to vote Libertarian in the eighties. If these existed at the time, and I'd read some of them, I might not have. Of course, I've never been a big fan of the Von Mises Institute, either.
[Update a few minutes later]
Having read in more detail, let me amend the above from "might not have" to "certainly would not have."
[Update a couple minutes later]
A Ron Paul supporter in deep denial. And as Glenn asks, "Did Paul write this? Was it ghostwritten under his name? Is it better if the answer is the latter?"
[Update late afternoon]
Here's the campaign's response.
I'm willing to believe that he wasn't the author, and even that he didn't endorse the newsletter, but I find it troubling that he let this stuff go out under his own name for so long. The fact that he takes "moral responsibility" for it now is nice, I guess, but it really makes one question his judgment. And his campaign continues to attract many unsavory elements of American politics, including 911 "Truthers," who he seems to be unwilling to denounce.
[Update on Wednesday evening, after an Instalanche]
There was more discussion on this in a post this morning, from Virginia Postrel. There's an update from her there as well.Posted by Rand Simberg at January 08, 2008 12:11 PM
What are your issues with the Von Mises Institute? Is it the Austrian economic philosophy or the anarcho-capitalists?Posted by Orville at January 8, 2008 12:32 PM
Neither. It's the same whiff of paranoia, gold buggery, and conspiracy mongering that comes out in the Ron Paul stuff.Posted by Rand Simberg at January 8, 2008 12:41 PM
Nobody who ever got a mailing touting subscriptions to the Ron Paul Letter in the late '80s or early '90s should be remotely surprised by any of this. I don't think Ron wrote a word of it, but I also don't think he ever cared what people were publishing in his name as long as it kept the money flowing.Posted by Jay Manifold at January 8, 2008 01:10 PM
I frequent the Mises.org blog and I don't see paranoid ravings or conspiracy mongering there. Yes, they do take some economic positions that are outside the mainstream Keynesian economic philosophy. Rothbard's anarcho-capitalism is a bit too extreme for me, but not all small "l" libertarians go that far either.
I'd like to see a more thorough fisking of The New Republic article as I suspect it is a politically motivated hit piece.Posted by Orville at January 8, 2008 01:18 PM
RP has been painted as an anti-semite by others and it has not stuck. If he was a Jew hater, why would he have a long association with the Mises Institute? Von Mises was a Jew, as was Murray Rothbard.
I might also point out that Margaret Thatcher was a devotee of Friedrich Hayek, one of Mises' early pupils, and some of Reagan's advisors studied his writings as well.Posted by Orville at January 8, 2008 01:34 PM
I frequent the Mises.org blog and I don't see paranoid ravings or conspiracy mongering there.
Actually, I haven't paid much attention to it in years. And I'm a big fan of Hayek. And Von Mises himself, for that matter.
As for Ron Paul's anti-semitism, I've no idea whether he is or not, but he doesn't seem to denounce it much, and many of his supporters are. As Jay notes, he's seems more interested in keeping the money flowing, and not very interested in where it comes from.Posted by Rand Simberg at January 8, 2008 01:37 PM
And that is different from any other politician? :-)Posted by Orville at January 8, 2008 01:40 PM
I think it's different in scale. Paul seems to attract more than his fair share of whack jobs, from all over the political spectrum.Posted by Rand Simberg at January 8, 2008 01:42 PM
One man's whack job is another man's (ALGORE) global warming advocate.
My point is that this is typical election year politics. You just wait and see if Hillary's Henchpeople don't dig some mud up on Obama if she loses two more primaries.Posted by Orville at January 8, 2008 01:45 PM
You just wait and see if Hillary's Henchpeople don't dig some mud up on Obama if she loses two more primaries.
Oh, they no doubt already have it. You know that now that Begala and Carville are on the team, they're just trying to decide how and when to release it.Posted by Rand Simberg at January 8, 2008 02:01 PM
Getting down into the weeds a bit, the temperaments of Friedrich von Hayek and Ludwig von Mises were as different as night and day. I don't think an association with Mises is the question, but rather some of the more, er, creative memes finding a home in an ostensibly libertarian campaign.Posted by Jay Manifold at January 8, 2008 02:32 PM
You knew this was coming, People have been bringing this up for *years* now.
Yes, it reduces Ron Paul in my mind, but I notice that the Author of the piece himself says he doesn't think that Ron Paul is Racist. But that he's a cynic and wants to stir the pot. Keep that in mind, the person who wrote the piece admits that he's doing it just to screw with Ron Paul and his supporters.
Now, with the timing of the article, and the very light on details about bylines and other attributing information, toss in the author's attitude, and shouldn't you at least wonder if you're dancing to his tune? cause you are at least tapping it out with your foot. :)Posted by mark at January 8, 2008 02:55 PM
If by "dance to his tune" you mean "point out things about Ron Paul of which many of his supporters may be unaware" on the day of a key primary, yes. That's exactly what I'm doing.
That's one of the things that the First Amendment is all about, John McCain's disdain for it notwithstanding.
In case you didn't figure it out, I'm not a supporter of his campaign. And this isn't the only reason.Posted by Rand Simberg at January 8, 2008 03:08 PM
I frequent the Mises.org blog and I don't see paranoid ravings or conspiracy mongering there.
The founder and president of the Von Mises Institute is Lew Rockwell, an association and advisor to Ron Paul, whose writings on foreign policy seem to be even more extreme than Paul's. He portrays Iraq under Saddam as a demi-paradise and the US as the primary threat to world peace. To his credit, he does seem to keep most of that stuff off the Von Mises Institute website and confined to his own site, lewrockwell.com.
In the past, Rockwell was vehemently anti-immigration (as is Paul), though he seems to have toned that down lately. The Von Mises Insitute itself claims to take no position on immigration, but even that is strange since Von Mises firmly condemned the "racist nativist" agenda of closed borders.Posted by Edward Wright at January 8, 2008 05:16 PM
He can't denounce the troofers. If he does, Alex Jones won't have him on his radio show anymore.Posted by Bill Maron at January 8, 2008 08:38 PM
Don't let a Bush psy-op smear Ron Paul.
Don't let a Bush psy-op smear Ron Paul.
That's hilarious. Do you nut cases really think that this kind of inane and insane paranoia helps your cause?Posted by Rand Simberg at January 9, 2008 05:01 AM
Let me see if I have this correct:
Ron Paul, a man intelligent enough to get through medical school, claims that others wrote this garbage under his name for years and he didn't know about it?
Is he a liar or an incredible moron? For the life of me, I don't see another realistic possibility. Neither of those options recommend him for the presidency or any other elected office in my opinion.Posted by Larry J at January 9, 2008 08:05 AM
I'm having trouble reconciling Ron Paul's anti war and anti intervention position with recent adds where he advocates sending special forces to hunt down terrorists wherever they hide.
This stuff is no different than the stuff i read a few weeks ago claiming that Ron Paul is a creationist. Like the creationist issue, I consider this issue to be irrelevant. His personal beliefs are irrelevant because he is libertarian. He does not believe in using government power to impose them on the rest of us.
This stuff is really quite a red herring.
Besides, I thought TNR pretty much blew its wad as a credible news source over the whole Beauchamp affair.Posted by kurt9 at January 9, 2008 11:14 AM
Granted, it would have been better for a more credible media outlet than TNR to publicize this, but when they're quoting newsletters that have been in existence for 15+ years, at least it's pretty easy to verify that they're not making it up.
For whatever reason, Ron's entourage has always attracted conspiracy theorists. I remember one mailing for his newsletter that included graphics of the new currency that was about to be introduced, including a $25 orange-colored bill with FDR's portrait. That was around, I don't know, '92. Funny, I haven't seen any of those around.Posted by Jay Manifold at January 9, 2008 11:37 AM
I remember one mailing for his newsletter that included graphics of the new currency that was about to be introduced, including a $25 orange-colored bill with FDR's portrait. That was around, I don't know, '92. Funny, I haven't seen any of those around.
Don't you see, Jay? It just proves the power of Ron Paul! Thanks to his warning, the government feared to roll out the new currency, because they knew we were on to them.Posted by Rand Simberg at January 9, 2008 11:47 AM
Clearly, the Neocon Zionist Conspiracy has been anticipating Ron Paul's rise for years, and has been putting racist slurs in his mouth for two decades.Posted by at January 9, 2008 02:40 PM
if this shows anything, it indicates that Ron Paul is an oppourtunist to the extreme. Money is his God and his values may not be anything but means to an end. I'm sure he would make a wonderful President.Posted by Ron J at January 9, 2008 03:09 PM
There's more than a whiff of paranoia in the stuff I've read from the newsletters, but there isn't very much that I'd consider outright racist (or anti-semitic). There's a bunch of stuff that you're not supposed to say in polite company, but to say, for example, that a group that votes 90%+ for a party with bad economic policies holds bad economic opinions isn't actually racist. Much, though not all, of the rest of that stuff is like that. So maybe 5% of what we're supposed to be shocked about is actually racist, and the rest is racist if you're a liberal, but not if you're a conservative. I'd say that's not good for a libertarian, but not that terribly bad either.Posted by Anthony at January 9, 2008 03:11 PM
I never knew that Mises.org was part of the Lew Rockwell Blob.
That explains why I never liked their opinion pieces, despite a fondness (like Rand's) for both Hayek and Mises (and similarly, a distaste for Rothbard).Posted by Sigivald at January 9, 2008 03:32 PM
Kirchick's article seems to be plagiarized from (of all things, for TNR) some old (1993?) posts at FreeRepublic. Kind of par for the course that when TNR gets a "scoop" journalistic misconduct is at the root of it.
Rand and all: FR, like the Paul campaign, was once home of a lot of whackjobs. After 9/11 the "Jooz-did-it" crowd were shown the door by the site owner, Jim Robinson. Most of them (creeps like Michael Rivero) resurfaced among the twoofers and in the Paul campaign.
Maybe Ron Paul is not as big a creep as the guys supporting him so rabidly (spamming polls, sending hate mail, etc). But you know, when Robinson had a "creep problem" he dealt with it -- summarily and ruthlessly. Michael Rivero is still a whackjob, but not at FR any more.
There's a lesson in that for Dr Paul but he seems to be in the write-only mode insofar as lessons are concerned.Posted by Kevin R.C. O'Brien at January 9, 2008 03:42 PM
Kirchick's article seems to be plagiarized from (of all things, for TNR) some old (1993?) posts at FreeRepublic.
It seems unlikely that Free Republic existed in 1993. The web barely existed in 1993. Not that this means that it wasn't taken from there, but that date can't be right.Posted by Rand Simberg at January 9, 2008 03:51 PM
I just can't wait until that Ron Paul wacko is out of the campaign and we can focus on real conservatives, like John McCain and Rudy Giuliani. Er, wait...Posted by Frank N Stein at January 9, 2008 04:15 PM
The TrackBack URL doesn't work. Please fix it.Posted by Tinian at January 9, 2008 04:29 PM
Raphael, actually, hexapodia is the key insight.Posted by Robin Goodfellow at January 9, 2008 04:42 PM
shouldn't you at least wonder if you're dancing to his tune?
Shouldn't you at least wonder if it's time to change the record? The exact same comments keep popping up on blog after blog that's talking about this...
I thought TNR pretty much blew its wad as a credible news source over the whole Beauchamp affair.
They got in trouble there, and rightly so, because they didn't present any evidence and then tried to cover up their error. Here they've presented the evidence, and plenty of it.
There's more than a whiff of paranoia in the stuff I've read from the newsletters, but there isn't very much that I'd consider outright racist (or anti-semitic).
"Order was only restored in L.A. [during the riots] when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began." That's not racist?Posted by Jim Treacher at January 9, 2008 05:57 PM
I'm unhappy with this stuff, what with RP's negligence in the early 90's and tone-deaf first response Monday. But I still want him to do well. Even Kirchick agrees he's not actually racist, and he's the only credible fiscal conservative in the race.Posted by CTD at January 9, 2008 06:13 PM
I clicked the link from Insty expecting to find something different, but all I found was a very basic post and comments similar to those I've found elsewhere.
Unfortunately, no one seems able to not support or restrict their support for Paul at the same time as being curious about the backstory of the TNR piece. My helpful start at my name's link.Posted by Details at January 9, 2008 07:25 PM
What's more the pathetic? BEING an anti-semite and racist...
Or PRETENDING to be a racist or anti-semite to scam money and votes from real anti-semites and racists.Posted by Quandry at January 10, 2008 06:36 AM
Jim Treacher wrote:
No, actually, that's not racist. If I recall correctly it's what actually happened, or at least what was reported at the time in the MSM.
And even if I don't recall correctly, what's racist about it? The rioters were all black, and you don't imagine they had jobs, do you? It stands to reason that all or nearly all the rioters were on welfare - surely that's obvious enough not to need any evidence. So is it racist to say that they stopped rioting in order to collect their checks rather than for some other reason?Posted by Milhouse at January 11, 2008 12:32 PM
Non-sequitur alert. Why should Mises having been a Jew stop the Mises Institute from being antisemitic? I mean the entire Christian Church, all denominations, is named after a Jew, but that hasn't stopped it from having a long history of antisemitism.Posted by Milhouse at January 11, 2008 12:36 PM
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