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Intellectually dishonest James Kirchick

James Kirchick of the New Republic - home of the odious Jason Zengerle - offers "Angry White Man/The bigoted past of Ron Paul", an attempt by the Beltway establishment to sink his candidacy by revealing excerpts from his old newsletters. Apparently much or all of it was ghostwritten, and the campaign tries to portray him as a (per Kirchick) "naive, absentee overseer, with minimal knowledge of what his underlings were doing on his behalf". To a good extent that doesn't wash, and many of the quotes provided are indeed very questionable in and of themselves. (The Ron Paul campaign responds to the TNR piece here. See also the response from Thomas DiLorenzo (not Lew Rockwell as previously stated), in which he implies he might sue Kirchik for libel; the article implies that DiLorenzo is a neo-Confederate due to a conference he spoke at, when the conference actually dealt with the pre-Civil War northern secessionist movement.)

However, other quotes from the TNR piece beg for context, and others are craftily spun in order to make Paul look as bad as possible. Consider this:

That same year [1990], citing a Christian-right fringe publication, an item suggested that "the AIDS patient" should not be allowed to eat in restaurants and that "AIDS can be transmitted by saliva," which is false.

There are at least three things wrong with that.

1. Per the Red Cross (link):

There are no known cases of saliva by itself spreading HIV... However, because there could be a risk of blood contact during prolonged open-mouth kissing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends against doing this with a partner who has HIV.

So, outright calling it "false" isn't exactly honest, not that TNR has much familiarity with that concept.

2. In 1990, how many studies had been done on transmission via saliva? In 1990 - when the excerpt was written - was it still a very open question? [UPDATE: a search of the contemporaneous NYT and medical literature at pubmed.gov shows mixed results, with some saying it could be transmitted via saliva and some saying it's very unlikely; one HIV+ person was convicted of attempted murder after biting someone.]

3. Just because someone "cites" something doesn't mean that they agree with it.

Did Kirchick make a "mistake"? Or was he intentionally trying to deceive by confusing what we (mostly) know now with what was known in 1990?

Kirchick goes on:

The newsletters are chock-full of shopworn conspiracies, reflecting Paul's obsession with the "industrial-banking-political elite" and promoting his distrust of a federally regulated monetary system utilizing paper bills. They contain frequent and bristling references to the Bilderberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, and the Council on Foreign Relations--organizations that conspiracy theorists have long accused of seeking world domination. In 1978, a newsletter blamed David Rockefeller, the Trilateral Commission, and "fascist-oriented, international banking and business interests" for the Panama Canal Treaty, which it called "one of the saddest events in the history of the United States."

I guess that reasonable people can disagree on whether the CFR and other Rockefeller-linked groups are just friendly social groups or whether they do attempt to run matters, but I suggest being very suspicious of hacks who try to claim the former. As for the Treaty, consider this:

...the White House in late 1977 directed the well-connected former chairman of the finance committee of the Democratic National Committee,
S. Lee Kling, to set up the "Committee of Americans for the Canal Treaties, Inc." (COACT). To anyone not aware of Kling's past or his mandate from the White House, COACT seemed like a grass­roots, nonpartisan effort on behalf of the treaties... the list of COACT members in­cluded David Rockefeller (chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank)...

DR was also there in 1999 when Carter officially handed the Canal over (link), and he has a link to the co-negotiator of the treaty (link).

And:

What's more, Paul's connections to extremism go beyond the newsletters. He has given extensive interviews to the magazine of the John Birch Society, and has frequently been a guest of Alex Jones, a radio host and perhaps the most famous conspiracy theorist in America.

Being interviewed by someone doesn't mean you agree with everything they say. And, while Alex Jones is a bit of a showman and does have some far-out-there ideas, others are not. And, unlike someone like Kirchick, he's willing to buck the establishment.

Note also this email he sent to a RP supporter a few weeks ago:

I don't think Ron Paul is a homophobe; I'm just cynical and enjoy getting supporters of political candidates riled up. If you were a Giuliani guy I'd have called him a fascist.

The recipient goes on to call Kirchick a "muckraker, a charlatan, and a hypocrite"; as for the part about "dishonoring" TNR with his presence, I'd say he fits right in.

UPDATE: John Gibson of Fox News did a radio interview with Kurchik here. It contains this absolutely incredible statement:

"When someone mentions the Trilaterial Commission in nefarious terms, you know that they're a little kooky... ...The Bilderbergers, that's a real out there conspiracy theory..."

Then, he pretended that Bohemian Grove was just a "men's social club in Northern California".

This guy is a complete establishment suck-up and apologist. While some of the theories about those groups are indeed out there, pretending they're just happy friendly social groups is something that no one who isn't just trying to suck-up should engage in. Also, he appears to be a fan of Rudy Giuliani; at the last link Rudy gives an award to David Rockefeller and mentions all the groups with which he's been associated, including the CFR and the Bilderbergers.

TNR has released some scanned copies of the newsletters here. I'm going to leave it to others to look through all of them but the first one in the "Conspiracies" section is from 1978 - well before some of RP's supporters were born - and it contains highlighted sections that apparently we're supposed to shocked at, such the fact that David Rockefeller is linked to politicians and the news media or that the true owners of the Panama Canal are not just the supposed owners. So? Another one in that section, a solicitation letter, is so over the top that I'm almost positive that Ron Paul himself didn't write it, and I don't think too many politician write their own solicitation letters.

UPDATE 2: This has got to be a joke. Little Green Footballs - added as a show of support to this site's "blogroll" after some incident a few years ago and just now removed - offers "Ron Paul's Personal Details in Racist Newsletter" (link). Apparently the fact that whoever wrote a paragraph knew that Ron Paul had grandchildren strongly implies that the author was Paul himself and not a surrogate.

UPDATE 3: Andrew Sullivan - someone who wouldn't last more than a week as a pundit if he allowed open comments - flees the ship for USS McCain:

After the awful news about Ron Paul's ugly, repellent past newsletters, I find myself rooting again for the man who was my second choice.

UPDATE 4: Via this guy in the comment at http://volokh.com/posts/1199830642.shtml#311903 consider this from their documents page:

A 1989 newsletter compares Salman Rushdie to Ernst Zundel, a Canadian Holocaust-denier.

The 1989 PDF (link) only "compares" their cases and points out liberal hypocrisy, calling out TNR by name (probably why they highlighted it; bolding added):

Would the New Republic, which has been sickenly pompous on Rushdie and in its hymns to secular humanism, defend things it would find heretical? The answer is no. This liberal magazine has past defended Canada's "anti-hate" law, which was used to fine and jail a Canadian author, Ernst Zundel, who questioned the historical reality of the Holocaust. Liberal newspapers like the Washington Post and the Boston Globe have also praised the Canadian law and this prosecution. I'll believe Establishment liberals are really committed to free speech when I see Norman Mailer and his cohorts wearing "I am Ernst Zundel" buttons and holding readings of his works. I personally am offended by writings advocating fascism, socialism, Communism, and other forms of special-interest big government. Many people understandably find Zundel's writings offensive. But his case is no different in principle from Rushdie's except that Zundel is poor and in jail, and Rushdie is rich and protected.

Other tags: jimmy carter

Politics · Tue, 01/08/2008 - 12:21 · Importance: 4

Tue, 01/08/2008 - 21:24
Franklin

OK, so you're an apologist for racism. Noted.

Tue, 01/08/2008 - 22:12
mudburn

I don't see what the big deal is with the newsletters. I read through the quotes pajamas media shared, and, although they are reproduced out of context, there didn't seem to be anything inherently evil or racist or anti-semitic in them as alleged. "Franklin" and others would probably think I'm an apologist for racism -- no that's just a rhetorical construct meant to impact readers apart from evidence to support the allegations.

Tue, 01/08/2008 - 22:37
Infiniite

Ron Paul is finished. Good riddance. Will he participate in any upcoming GOP debates? No.

Tue, 01/08/2008 - 22:41
Galileo Galilei
www.wisgop.com

Ron Paul opposes the racist war on drugs. The real racists are those that support the drug war.

Tue, 01/08/2008 - 23:25
Sharon

Different day, same lies. These vicious lies have been spewed before by those who are intent on stopping Ron Paul's message of freedom and liberty. They have been repeatedly debunked and no "real" journalist would be associated with such an obvious attempt to smear such an honorable statesman as Ron Paul. Guess what, we(his supporters)know him to be an honest man, unlike the author of these lies and we will only strengthen our efforts to get him elected. Nice try, though. You just might have fooled those who are unwilling, or too lazy, to find the truth.

Wed, 01/09/2008 - 02:01
Lysander
fittobepres.com

It says nothing about us, nothing about Ron Paul, nothing about this campaign, nothing about this movement, nothing at all interesting except there was an old-right sentiment years ago in the equivalent of blogs back then. The passion we have today is totally different -- like he leads in passion at Fit to be Pres [1]. GO PAUL.

Links:
------
[1] fittobepres.com/index.php?action=fit_main

Wed, 01/09/2008 - 03:30
...::joe::...

Cannot stand the lies that some of these news outlets have no problem leaking. I could care less about any of this but the lies have to stop. This country needs to quit lying to itself and face the mirror. It is time to balance budget, quit killing, quit racism, stop hating, and start taking responsibility.

Wed, 01/09/2008 - 08:11
SVHillbilly

RP must be presumed guilty until proven innocent.

Wed, 01/09/2008 - 11:07
Travis

Just type the words "magazine factual errors" into a wikipedia search and it'll show you its article on the New Republic with 98% relevance to the search query. The New Republic's article raises important questions about Ron Paul that I do not take lightly but do a little research on this magazine and you'll find several journalistic scandals. This magazine has been a strong supporter of the war in Iraq (and many other wars/military actions going back to WWI) and I can't help but wonder if releasing this article on the day of the New Hampshire primary was a strategic move to damage a strong opponent of the war.

Wed, 01/09/2008 - 13:26
Michael

about that Rushdie/Zundel comparison, Eugene Volokh said something similar about freedom of speech and criticized Canada's stupid laws: Calling Speech Restrictors "Enemies of Free Speech" Can Now Lead to Legal Liability in Canada http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eugene-volokh/calling-speech-restrictor_b_74330.html it's kind of funny that some guy on his blog would make a big deal out of Paul's support for freedom of speech and his criticism of liberals who are very selective when it comes to defend that freedom.

Wed, 01/09/2008 - 15:24
StevenJosephRotolo

Ron Paul is not absolved of any wrongdoing. If I had a newsletter called The Steven Rotolo Freedom Report and didn't put a disclaimer to the fact that the opinions expressed in the report do not necessarily reflect those of Steven Rotolo, then the reader should assume that if I didn't write the content, at the very least I agree with what's in them. And in the end I would be resposible for the dissemination of those views. This is not just one or two articles here and there, this is over 20 years of pretty nasty stuff... the dude should've been wise to it and now he should categorically disown it and repudiate every single author by name....

Wed, 01/09/2008 - 16:28
Tanstaafl
age-of-treason.blogspot.com/

I love it when people mess their diapers over racism.

Wed, 01/09/2008 - 18:17
petty bourgeois

I didn't see anything that offensive or objectionable or "racist", whatever that means.

Wed, 01/09/2008 - 18:37
falange

Advocates of the Permanent Warfare State(like TNR) have no moral room to criticize purported "thought criminals" like Ron Paul. I can't think of any way in which he(Ron Paul) can be said to have blood on his hands-unlike TNR.

Wed, 01/09/2008 - 22:28
JD

At the risk of repeating myself from blog to blog, IÂ’m amazed that a lying, Neocon racist like Kirchick can call one of the most decent men in American politics a racist and a bunch of braindead, PC-addled sheep fall into line. Let's not put lipstick on a pig. The Neoconservatives are mass murderers that have killed far more innocents than anyone that they criticize.

Wed, 01/09/2008 - 23:21
Paul

James Kirchick, who wrote the piece graduated from Yale last year & won the 2006 National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Excellence in Student Journalism award. I hope he knows what he is getting himself into, after writing this hit piece.

Thu, 01/10/2008 - 02:01
...::joe::...

The term "racist" is grows more repugnant each day. If you are in a room with 20 black people and 20 whites and someone says, "Hey, there are the same amount of whites as blacks in here!", and the senior editor for The New Republic has his finger in the air saying, "Fucking Racist!" The term cannot carry weight these days. If you are white and ignore a black, RACIST! If you are a black and you ignore a white, RACIST! If you are mixed race and you do not claim to be more black or more white, RACIST! This society needs to grow up.

Thu, 01/10/2008 - 02:04
...::joe::...

In fact, it would really help if all of the ignorant people in this country would just stop feeding in when they hear the term "racist" loosely thrown around.

Thu, 01/10/2008 - 02:50
TempTarheel

At least Reason Magazine has repudiated Ron Paul. I remember watching him on CSPAN in 1988. Was an idiot then and is an idiot now. The gold standard? An embarrassment to Duke University.

Thu, 01/10/2008 - 13:07
falange

_At least Reason Magazine has repudiated Ron Paul. I remember watching him on CSPAN in 1988. Was an idiot then and is an idiot now. The gold standard? An embarrassment to Duke University._ Among the advocates for a return to the gold standard is none other than Alan Greenspan. I'm not a fan of Greenspan(he's the father of the current mortgage crisis), but he is rather...uh..mainstream. http://www.gold-eagle.com/greenspan.html

Thu, 01/10/2008 - 13:27
falange

Here's a video of Steve Forbes and Donald Luskin endorsing RP's economic views: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cilwld5fj48 More idiots?

Sat, 01/12/2008 - 21:27
Brandybuck
www.usermode.org/blog/

''Then, he pretended that Bohemian Grove was just a "men's social club in Northern California".'' It is just a men's social club. Correction - elite exclusive men's social club. Leonard Read (Mr. Libertarian himself) once attended.

Sun, 01/13/2008 - 00:31
Simon Owens
bloggasm.com

Ron Paul doesn't believe in Evolution. Any candidate that is willing to reject the consensus of the entire scientific community is not fit to be making monumental presidential decisions that would require advice and direction from that scientific community.

Mon, 01/14/2008 - 21:57
...::joe::...

"...willing to reject the consensus of the entire scientific community..." Who cares!? Science is not logic so it is just another philosophy. People seem to forget that.

Wed, 01/16/2008 - 05:13
Cedric

Jamie Kirchick is a racist.

Thu, 01/17/2008 - 02:36
Baube

I would put a lot more weight behind TNR's allegations if they didn't do so much 'editing' of the content of the newsletters. In addition, they only provided the original scans of selected pages of the documents. Why not post the entire thing? Has anyone seen the documents in question in their entirety? I would personally love to read them. Here is a good example of TNR editing for maximum effect: TNR Posted this "quote": "Opinion polls show only 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions." The newsletter ACTUALLY said the following: "Opinion polls show only 5% of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty, the end of welfare and affirmative action. I know many who fall into this group personally, and they deserve credit—not as representatives of a racial group, but as decent people." I'm sorry but that (full version) is quite simply NOT a racist statement. However, the version that TNR certainly appears to be racist. That is spin or smear any way you look at it. How many more examples of this are going on here?

Thu, 01/17/2008 - 13:45
...::joe::...

The ongoing discussion regarding a racial group is in itself, by definition, racist. Ron Paul said it himself, that the only way to to abolish racism is to stop looking at groups, and start looking at humanity. By classifying blacks as such, we are being racist already. Anyone want to try and dispute that? Besides Ron Paul, Carlos Mencia is the only person who I have seen publicly take this stand; and it is hard for most to swallow.