A few weeks ago, an unknown Ron Paul’s supporter (or supporters) created a stir with a video attacking John Huntsman. Reuters reports:

Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman and members of his family expressed outrage on Friday at an advertisement targeted at his adopted daughters by a group supporting rival Ron Paul.

An online ad authored by “NHLiberty4Paul” shows footage of Huntsman with daughters Gracie, who was adopted from China, and Asha, adopted from India, when they were infants.

“American values. Or Chinese,” the ad asks to a soundtrack of Chinese music. It calls Huntsman “the Manchurian Candidate” and ends with an image of Huntsman dressed as China’s former communist leader Mao Zedong, and the words “Vote Ron Paul.”

Here’s the video, and I definitely recommend watching it:

So what is Ron Paul’s response?

Paul, a Texas congressman, disavowed the ad during an interview on Friday on CNN, but said he could not control the actions of all his supporters.

“I couldn’t even hear it, haven’t looked at it, but people do that, and they do it in all campaigns,” Paul said.

(Update: Apparently, Ron Paul’s campaign did attempt to sue to discover the author of the video, but they were rebuffed by the courts.)

Unfortunately, Ron Paul has a long history of tolerating these and other varieties of racist, homophobic, and otherwise disreputable supporters. He distances himself in tepid terms, and refuses to condemn them in anything remotely like the strong language that they deserve. That’s why he’s got problem after problem with downright frightening supporters.

Ron Paul’s 2008 campaign had such problems in spades, particularly for refusing reject donations from neo-Nazis. In this 2010 campaign, Ron Paul’s campaign welcomed the endorsement of a Christian dominionist pastor in Iowa who — consistent with his overall theology — advocates the death penalty (!!!) for homosexuality. (Please go read the whole story, because it’s quite remarkable.) The announcement on Ron Paul’s web site welcoming this fothermucker’s endorsement was deleted, but as far as I can tell, Ron Paul never repudiated the endorsement.

Moreover, Ron Paul has never adequately explained or repudiated the viciously racist and homophobic comments in his newsletters.

How should the lunatic fringe be handled in a campaign? Consider the reaction of Bob Barr’s campaign to a racist endorsement when he ran for president in 2008 on the Libertarian Party ticket:

The Barr campaign is not going to be a vehicle for every fringe and hate group to promote itself. We do not want and will not accept the support of haters. Anyone with love in their heart for our country and for every resident of our country regardless of race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation is welcome with open arms.

Tell the haters I said don’t let the door hit you on the backside on your way out!

I’m not a fan of Bob Barr, but *pow* *pow* *pow* — that’s how it’s done!

Instead of doing that — or anything like it — Ron Paul tolerates dangerous idiots, only setting them at arm’s length when exposed by the media. This pattern of actions reveals something amiss with Ron Paul’s character and judgment, I fear. He’s not a racist, I don’t think: he’s said and done too much too clearly against that. So is he just willing to tolerate and pander to dangerous nonsense in the hope of a few more votes? I don’t think that explains the pattern, not when he sticks to his guns on economics.

I suspect that a major cause of these problems is that he’s got a serious but mostly hidden penchant for conspiracy theories. This fascinating NY Times article explores that in some detail. For example:

In a 1990 C-Span appearance, taped between Congressional stints, Paul was asked by a caller to comment on the “treasonous, Marxist, alcoholic dictators that pull the strings in our country.” Rather than roll his eyes, Paul responded, “there’s pretty good evidence that those who are involved in the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations usually end up in positions of power. And I believe this is true.”

Paul then went on to stress the negligible differences between various “Rockefeller Trilateralists.” The notion that these three specific groups — the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations and the Rockefeller family — run the world has been at the center of far-right conspiracy theorizing for a long time, promoted especially by the extremist John Birch Society, whose 50th anniversary gala dinner Paul keynoted in 2008.

Wow, just wow. By all means, go watch the video for yourself. He just smooth talks right in and out of the conspiracies.

Judged by the standards of a rational epistemology, conspiracy-theorism is nearly at the bottom of the barrel. The mind of the conspiracy theorist is in complete disarray, utterly unable to evaluate evidence or stick to facts. It’s engaging in a constant process of invention, and then confusing those inventions with facts.

For that to be the basic psycho-epistemology of the US President… well, that would be frightening.

Ron Paul on Israel

 Posted by on 4 January 2012 at 8:00 am  Election, Foreign Policy, Politics, Ron Paul
Jan 042012
 

In this video, Ron Paul talks about Israel and Gaza:

Two things:

First, it’s appalling that he’d speak to the state-controlled Iranian television at all. By doing that, he sanctions a repressive dictatorship and avowed enemy of the United States.

Second, he’s not just saying that we shouldn’t be meddling in Israel’s problems but instead leave her to manage her own self-defense as she sees fit. He explicitly criticizes Israel on moral grounds, citing her as the aggressor in the conflict, and he sides with the Palestinian terrorists.

Oy vey.

Ron Paul on Foreign Policy

 Posted by on 23 December 2011 at 8:00 am  Election, Foreign Policy, Politics, Ron Paul
Dec 232011
 

Recently, I spent some time watching videos of Ron Paul speaking on foreign policy, particularly Iran. Ever since my webcast discussion of his views, I’ve wanted take a closer look, because my sense is that his views are not merely mistaken, but reveal some deep error in his principles.

In a recent editorial — What Ron Paul Thinks of America — Dorothy Rabinowitz writes:

Ron Paul’s efforts on behalf of Iran’s right to the status of misunderstood victim continued apace. On the Hannity show following the debate, Dr. Paul urged the host to understand that Iran’s leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had never mentioned any intention of wiping Israel off the map. It was all a mistranslation, he explained. What about Ahmadinejad’s denial of the Holocaust? A short silence ensued as the candidate stared into space. He moved quickly on to a more secure subject. “They’re just defending themselves,” he declared.

So is that a fair recap of his views? Well, you can see for yourself in the following videos.

(1) Iowa GOP Debate: 11 Aug 2011

(2) Ron Paul with Sean Hannity: 22 Sep 2011

(3) Ron Paul with Sean Hannity: 15 Oct 2011 (?)

(4) Ron Paul on Fox News Sunday: 6 Nov 2011 (?)

(5) GOP Debate: 15 Dec 2011

(6) Ron Paul with Sean Hannity: 15 Dec 2011

So what do I think of all that? Oy, that’s a bit hard to untangle. Mostly, however, I see deep-rooted moral equivalence.

Ron Paul flatly refuses to draw any distinction between (mostly) free countries like the US and Israel and repressive dictatorial theocracies like Iran. He seems to think that every government is legitimate, including governments run by batshit-crazy terrorists who repress their own citizens and threaten their own neighbors. Hence, he supposes, every regime is entitled to defend itself against its perceived enemies, including with nuclear weapons.

That basic view — that moral equivalence between nations — is why Ron Paul repeatedly stresses the sheer number of nukes possessed by various countries — without any regard for the principles, policies, or even sanity of the regime. That’s also why he regards Iran has having just as much right to the “respect” afforded to nuclear regimes as does Israel. Perhaps worse, he can’t even fathom that Iran might be allah-crazy enough use nuclear weapons offensively against other nations (i.e. Israel, then America). He’s not just ignorant of that possibility: he’s willfully blind to it.

Ultimately, the serious threat posed by Iran and other totalitarian Islamic regimes could easily become reality under any Ron Paul presidency. He would open the door to the slew of state-sponsored terrorist groups seeking to destroy America and establish a global caliphate. As I said in my webcast discussion, if you think that Obama can destroy the economy with more controls, you’re right… but just think about the economic devastation inflicted by a nuke in Manhattan. Iran doesn’t need a land army to do that — just the nuclear weapons that Ron Paul urges us to permit Iran to develop.

Contrary to Ron Paul’s moral equivance in foreign policy, other nations ought to be judged based on their respect for rights. A nation that respects rights is not a threat to other free nations — and likely would be an ally. Dictatorial nations must be clearly identified as such, then monitored for threats. Serious threats should be swiftly and decisively eliminated. Ron Paul will not do that, not because the threats don’t exist, but because he refuses to see them.

Even when military action would not be proper, dictatorial regimes should be identified as morally illegitimate, clearly and forthrightly. Any American president with a shred of love for liberty ought to say to despots, “Your regime is despotic and vicious. Your power is unjustly obtained and unjustly exercised. Your citizens, if they value their lives, ought to rise up in revolt, then establish a constitutional government based on the principles of individual rights.” Ron Paul won’t do that, not even to Iran, because he doesn’t draw moral distinctions between nations.

What will Ron Paul do instead? He suggests that America befriend Iran, a barbaric theocracy openly seeking to destroy us. After all, he says, we used diplomacy with the USSR and China, so why not use it with Iran? Basically, he wants America to adopt a stance of weakness and cowardice — even now, while the threat is merely potential and could be defused at minimal risk to American lives.

Ron Paul’s views on these matters are so fantastically twisted that I can’t even regard them as any kind of “foreign policy.” He’s willfully blind to the proper moral principles and to the basic facts — and hence, he would be the best possible ally of our sworn enemies. Although I’m far more concerned about domestic than foreign policy in this election, Ron Paul’s foreign policy is so bad as to disqualify him, in my view. America would not survive four years with him at the helm, I don’t think.

 

In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I took an early look at the 2012 election, then surveyed four GOP candidates — Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Gary Johnson. I’ve posted all five questions as videos, and so here they are!

The first question was:

What’s your view of the upcoming 2012 election? By what standards do you judge the presidential candidates?

My answer, in brief:

In a presidential candidate, I’m not looking for either John Galt or “Anyone But Obama.” I’m looking for someone who will do more good than harm to the cause of liberty in America.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

The second question was:

Should I support Mitt Romney for US President? What’s the proper evaluation of his principles and record on the budget and the debt, health care, foreign policy, immigration, the drug war, abortion, and gay marriage? Does Romney deserve the vote of advocates of individual rights in the primary or the general election?

My answer, in brief:

Mitt Romney is a smooth talker, but his proposal reveal that he has no understanding of individual rights or the economic problems facing America. He’s no better than Obama – and likely worse, because the opposition will vanish. I cannot recommend voting for him in the primary or the general election.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

The third question was:

Should I support Newt Gingrinch for US President? What’s the proper evaluation of his principles and record on the budget and the debt, health care, foreign policy, immigration, the drug war, abortion, and gay marriage? Does Gingrinch deserve the vote of advocates of individual rights in the primary or the general election?

My answer, in brief:

Newt Gingrich is explicitly theocratic, and a major threat to the separation of church and state. He advocates and practices “active governance,” meaning right-wing social engineering, not liberty. Like Obama, he is enamored of bold transformative ideas, which could be okay or horrible for liberty. I cannot recommend voting for him in the primary or the general election.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

The fourth question was:

Should I support Ron Paul for US President? What’s the proper evaluation of his principles and record on the budget and the debt, health care, foreign policy, immigration, the drug war, abortion, and gay marriage? Does Paul deserve the vote of advocates of individual rights in the primary or the general election?

My answer, in brief:

Ron Paul is not even libertarian, but a neo-confederate conservative Christian, albeit with some grasp of basic economics. He’s a rationalist, driven by ideology, and not open to facts. He would be very dangerous to elect as president, not just for actual policies, but as a supposed advocate of liberty. I cannot recommend voting for him in the primary or the general election.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

The fifth question was:

Should I support Gary Johnson for US President? What’s the proper evaluation of his principles and record on the budget and the debt, health care, foreign policy, immigration, the drug war, abortion, and gay marriage? Does Johnson deserve the vote of advocates of individual rights in the primary or the general election? Also, should supporters of Gary Johnson vote for him on a Libertarian Party ticket?

My answer, in brief:

Gary Johnson is not John Galt. However, he’s fundamentally oriented toward facts, plus he has good basic principles about liberty. Alas, he was shut out from the race by the media and the establishment GOP. I recommend voting for him in the primary, as well as in the general election, if he runs as the Libertarian Party candidate. I still reject the Libertarian Party, but a protest vote can be delimited to endorse him and not the party.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

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