I don’t follow “professional” “sports” all that closely and didn’t really know who Sean Taylor was, but it seems to me that if some white celeb athlete had gotten shot to death in his home in an intruder situation (whatever it turns out to be), we wouldn’t be reading the equivalent of his rap sheet. So yeah, the black sportswriters have a point.
Archives for November 2007
Tonight it will be good clean all-American politics (with any Muslims who happen to show up sent to the back of the bar). I hear that Seattle Dan and Seattle Tammy will be making a rare appearance.
Tonight’s theme song: Why Did I Choose You? by Barbara Streisand.
Not in Seattle? Check out the Drinking Liberally web site for dates and times of a chapter near you.
Erica C. Barnett was a guest on The Stranger’s “Dear Science” podcast, which is hosted by Jonathan Golob, who was himself a guest on “The David Goldstein Show” just recently.
Here’s my transcript of the clip.
But the downside of [light rail developement from Seattle to Tacoma] is that in Tacoma, the rail line they were takiing about building was going out to relatively undeveloped area. And so, then you’re kind of spuring sprawl. Is it a good thing that your spuring sprawl that’s served by rail? Or would it be better to go to somewhere that’s marginally developed and build that up? Which is what’s happening in the rest of Seattle. Tacoma is south of Seattle, and that’s the part of the project was controversial.
Erica did get one thing right. Tacoma is south of Seattle.
Jonathan Golob continues:
Yeah, it was a long extension through semi-rural areas.
Do these people even live in Washington state? Do they read maps? Do they get out of town much?
SW King County is inside the Urban Growth Boundary, which means that it isn’t- by definition– rural. Carnation is rural. Eatonville is rural. Federal Way is fuck-all else, but it ain’t rural.
Listen to the podcast. Besides this, Golob does a good show and it’s worth listening to.
Even if he’s never been to Federal Way.
I’ve made no secret of my disdain for the special session Gov. Gregoire has called for this Thursday to reinstate I-747’s vindictive one-percent cap on regular local levies. From a policy perspective, a hard cap on revenue growth below the rate of inflation is simply irresponsible. From a political perspective, this cowardly and ill advised capitulation not only makes the governor look weak at a time she needs to project strength, but it will make it very difficult for some in the Democratic base to generate the kind of enthusiasm Gregoire might need if Dino Rossi doesn’t stumble. I’m just sayin’.
Of course, the governor doesn’t deserve all the blame, as I doubt she would have called this special session if she didn’t believe she had the backing of the Democratic leadership. Here we had a golden opportunity to debate and propose progressive property tax reform that would truly benefit those homeowners who need it most, and Frank Chopp and company seem happy to just quickly sweep the issue under the rug and get back to the business of expanding the Democratic majority. Um… to what end?
That said, there does seem to be some good news coming out of the state Senate, where more than a few Democratic senators are voicing their concern over rushing through the governor’s emergency legislation. After talking with several senators and staffers, it appears support is now coalescing around a proposal to temporarily reinstate I-747’s limits through January of 2009, giving the legislature the time to hold the kind of public hearings the initiative never received, while fully debating various alternatives. This is a proposal I and many other tax fairness advocates could support, as it provides adequate time for careful deliberation. It is also a reasonable and responsible compromise that allows Democrats to reject I-747’s permanent reinstatement without handing Gov. Gregoire and embarrassing defeat.
Under one scenario being discussed, the legislature would ultimately put a referendum on the 2008 ballot, giving voters a choice between the existing one-percent cap and a comprehensive package that might include a circuit breaker or property tax homestead exemption that targets substantial benefits to the majority of homeowners. Personally, I’d rather legislators just do their job and legislate, but I can understand the political advantages of a referendum.
But whatever the final package, it couldn’t be much worse than what the governor is proposing: a below-inflation cap and a deferral program that provides only a short term bandaid, and to very few households. The problem is not that our taxes are broadly too high, but that they are too regressive, imposing the greatest burden on those who can afford to pay the least, and unless we address this core issue, our state and local governments will never be able to adequately address the many pressing issues facing the citizens of Washington state.
It’s always exciting posting to HA, so when preparing notes for this entry last night I felt a slight roll and jolt, I figured it was just Goldy and the gang egging me on. Turns out there was a mild 4.0 earthquake on the peninsula at 10:18 p.m., and if you did not feel it, you probably weren’t sitting in front of your computer and have a lot more interesting life than I do. O the sacrifices we endure to supply you with your morning fiber. Turns out there has been a passel of teeny quakes in recent days, which you can read as a buildup to The Big One or minor ventings so as to avert The Big One. I prefer the latter, it being loads easier to prepare for The Little One (get in front of the computer and wait till the coffee mug stops shaking).
Maybe Mother Nature was trying to nudge me to say something positive, like Dick Cheney’s irregular heartbeat being fixed. Now if they could just do something about his irregular heart. Or how about this: The mayor’s war on the homeless being put on hold. Our friends at Real Change have been all over this like…well, like cops on an encampment, with Rev. Rich Lang issuing a
Be the first mayor to be bluntly honest, and plainly practical in ending the problem of homelessness.
Forget about these half measured machete attacks.
Stand up to the problem, and implement the final solution.
Be bold Greg. Just kill the poor.
Rich may be facetious, but you have to wonder if Nickels isn’t just spreading holiday cheer while waiting for the spirit of Christmas to recede before going back to his same old ways. What exactly is a “more uniform protocol for dismantling the camps,” as one of his lackeys put it, if not cop talk for clearin’ ’em out.
Or perhaps some will find glad tidings in a proposal to defer up to 25 percent of property taxes, supposedly enabling middle-class homeowners to keep the roofs over their head. And this at a time when property values are actually going down? Is there another election coming up already? We saw this movie in California with Prop 13, and it weren’t pretty. Maybe one of our enterprising media will look at the detritus of tax deferral down there and ask, Could it happen here?? D’ya think?
And of course, for all us Mac users, the best news is that Windows Vista has been declared the worst software in the world, apologies to Keith Olbermann (double apologies if he’s a Windoze user).
Try as I might, though, I could not come up with the positive spin on the stock market tanking (down more than 10 percent in six weeks), the worsening recession, or the fact that the Seattle Marathon doesn’t actually give money to charity, which has The Times mad as heck and not going to take it much longer! But let’s close on a cheerful note: Writer Stephen King has suggested that Jenna Bush be waterboarded so Dad and his henchman can have a first-hand, trusted-source determination of whether it constitutes torture. Perhaps no image can better inform our preparations for this season of goodwill to men.
…die by the density sword.
Boo fricken’ hoo.
So the scribes at The Stranger are density-a-go-go, but then bellyache when developers want to tear down a series of low-slung, one story buildings that just happen to house their favorite bar. All of this in a part of town that’s in high demand for housing.
You can’t lecture people to accept density and then, uh, not accept density just because they’re tearing down your favorite bar.
So to help them through these tough times, give the staff at The Stranger some suggestions for their next hip booze joint. Put ’em in the comments.
Not too much bullshit this week, or if there was, I was too busy celebrating Thanksgiving to notice.
* Anyway, I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving as much as the President.
* And I hope you also enjoyed your make employees get up at 4:00, or earlier day.
* Our Saudi allies sure are, um, what’s the word after shittastic?
* Lou Guzzo has some ideas about race.
* Some say the Tri-City Herald’s editorials are unhelpful.
This is an open thread
TIME correspondent Joe Klein has once again humiliated himself while trying to report on what’s happening with the FISA bills and the attempts by civil libertarians to ensure that the government gets warrants before listening in on domestic phone calls or other forms of communication. As Glenn Greenwald and others have continually pointed out when it comes to Klein, he often allows his particular bias against those who find it valuable to defend civil liberties to seriously cloud his ability to ascertain the facts on these topics.
Greenwald’s latest two posts are here and here, while Klein continues to make lame excuses for his error, saying things like “I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who’s right” (which would be a good excuse if it wasn’t easily verifiable by simply reading the Democrats’ bill to determine that his source was lying to him). Greenwald is also interested in why TIME’s editors seem fairly unconcerned that someone who has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about on this subject – and continues to take the word of Congressional Republicans and their staff at face value even though he’s allegedly the “liberal” columnist – is still getting this half-assed nonsense published in one of America’s most prominent magazines. Count me in that category as well. Watching Joe Klein devolve from being a fairly balanced writer years ago when I was a TIME subscriber to the odd Lieberman-ish hack he’s become today has been pretty sad.
Ryan Singel at Wired has even more.
In talking about congestion pricing on my show Saturday night, I couldn’t contain a brief outburst over how our local media and political elite continue to take seriously the Discovery Institute’s transportation proposals in light of its embarrassing role in promoting
Creationism Intelligent Design. My frustration stems not simply from the fact that Intelligent Design is ridiculous anti-science, or that it is part of a well planned and executed multi-year campaign to undermine science education in the US at a time we face growing global economic competition… but that it has been promoted in such a shamelessly dishonest manner.
The Discovery Institute has proven again and again that it makes no distinction between scholarship and propaganda, and that there is no ethical boundary it will not cross in the interest of foisting its Christianist agenda on the American people. This blatant disregard for the most basic rigors of academia — or even fair play — was highlighted recently by a virologist/blogger who discovered that DI fellows had stolen and manipulated a Harvard University/XVIVO video for use in their own presentations, without attribution, permission or license.
Here is the original Harvard/XVIVO video, “The inner life of a cell”, with its scientifically accurate narration intact:
And here is a clip from a Discovery Institute presentation that features an excerpt of the video, now redubbed and retitled “The Cell as an Automated City.” Notice how the presenter describes the video as “state of the art computer animation,” implying that it is somehow the work of the institute:
As ERV points out in
his her post, this isn’t just a naive case of copyright infringement. The Discovery Institute has plenty of lawyers on staff and on retainer, so they sure as hell know that scrubbing the Harvard/XVIVO copyright and credits off the video is not only dishonest, but illegal.
Maybe they think it is ‘okay’ because they gave the animation a new title (‘Inner life of a cell’ became ‘The cell as an automated city’) and an extraordinarily unprofessional new narration (alternate alternate title– ‘ Big Gay Al takes a tour of a cell!’). Harvard/XVIVOs narration, all of the science, is whisked away and replaced with a ‘surrealistic lilliputian realm’– ‘robots’, ‘manufacturing’, ‘circuitry’, ‘nano moters’, ‘UPS labels’. Maybe they think it is ‘okay’ because they turned all of Harvards science into ‘MAGIC!’
Hmm. From my point of view, as a virologist and former teaching assistant, this isn’t just copyright infringement. This is theft and plagiarism. Taking someone else’s work without their consent, manipulating it without their consent, pretending it supports ID Creationists distorted views of reality, and presenting it as DI’s work.
ERV further points out that if the DI fellows responsible for this were at
his her university, they would be expelled for their plagiarism.
But this is just business as usual at the Discovery Institute, and it raises a question: if the Discovery Institute can’t be trusted to produce independent academic scholarship on its signature issue, Intelligent Design, how can its Cascadia Center be trusted to produce independent academic scholarship on regional transportation planning? Of course, it can’t, and the media, business and political elites who ignore the institute’s established track record of distorting scholarship and science in the single-minded pursuit of its own private agenda, are little more than willful dupes.
Our region’s transportation planning is too important to be trusted to a faux “think tank” with such a shameful and embarrassing record, and every time one of our local media outlets unskeptically cites one of its reports or recommendations, it grants the Discovery Institute credibility it simply does not deserve. Unlike a real think tank, the Discovery Institute produces “scholarship” to support its existing agenda, not the other way around, and thus it cannot and should not be considered a trusted partner in planning our region’s transportation future.
Shoppers, start your computers! It’s Cyber Monday, the day when Christmas hordes supposedly rush to the office to log on and snap up all those bargain gifts they were too crazed, lazy or calculating to buy on Black Friday. At least, that was the original impetus back in the day, when the vast majority of home connections were dial-up and office offered faster broadband.
Today, of course, the disparity no longer exists. So I’m thinking Cyber Monday is on shaky ground too. I’m thinking bargain hunting is much more iterative, you know, do the search, grab the killer deal, put other stuff on the wish list. Monday really has nothing to do with it any more. Besides, with the network cops monitoring your PC ever so much more closely, is it really a smart idea to spend the day surf-shopping?
Anyway, we’ll see what the data says. My experience was always this: Big Prediction, Day-After Declared Success, Unexpected Falloff and finally, when all the actual stats get analyzed and nobody’s paying attention, online shopping not such a big deal after all.
In addition to killer deals, here’s the deal on killers. This just in from Perugia: the boyfriend did it, according to the German guy’s lawyer, who has the almost Coenesque name of Walter Biscotti (thereby ruining my afternoon tea accompaniment). But the big news is yet another homicide, a 20-year-old Eastern Washington lad dragged to death behind a pickup for four miles in an apparent case of miscommunication.
Normally I’m not so drawn to the ugly side of life. It must have something to do with all the holiday cheer of this, the merriest of seasons.
In normal news, the P–I notes the upcoming legislative session by asking whether “tax fatigue” really exists (best wild guess: it doesn’t, but voters are frightened by incompetence and the economy). I dunno, HA readers: What do YOU think?????!!!!!
I did get one early Christmas gift today: Racist hypocrite (but otherwise good ol’ boy) Trent Lott is resigning. Having my own but not wanting to spoil the fray, I look forward to postings on various theories why. And finally, a clip from
yesterday’s last week’s Seahawks game has climbed way up on the DIGG and YouTube ratings, certain to outrank even the thrilling conclusion (the other QB fumbled on the 2-foot line!) to yesterday’s fiercely contested gridiron clash in the fabled 2007-8 season annals of ‘Hawks replays. Herewith:
Tonight on “The David Goldstein Show”, 7PM to 10PM on News/Talk 710-KIRO:
7PM: Are we prepared for pandemic flu?
“Radio Kos” returns to KIRO, as Daily Kos front page editor Greg Dworkin — better known as DemFromCT — joins us by phone to talk about the latest news on avian flu, and what we need to do to prepare for the next global flu pandemic. While the flu pandemic of 1918-1919 was killing an estimated 40 million worldwide, Seattle was relatively spared when Mayor Ole Hanson shut down schools, theaters and other public places… and was run out of town in the process. Are we willing and able to do the right thing when the inevitable happens?
8PM: Are we ready for a state income tax?
In a recent editorial the Spokane Spokesman-Review wrote that “since Eyman fancies himself a defender of the powerless, he ought to advocate an income tax.” Yes, that was in the Spokesman-Review. If some of our most conservative editorialists are beginning to call for progressive tax restructuring, isn’t it time our Democratic legislators call for it too? we’ll ask that question, but first we’ll talk with Cheri Marusa, one of many former Dino Rossi donors who are now giving money to Gov. Chris Gregoire.
9PM: Do atheists need Sunday school?
I was a born atheist, but that didn’t stop my equally non-believing parents from sending me to Hebrew school to learn my religious and cultural heritage. Was that experience necessary to shaping my moral and ethical universe? Will my own daughter’s lack of a formal religious education make her less moral? Do children need something to reject?
Tune in tonight (or listen to the live stream) and give me a call: 1-877-710-KIRO (5476).
What is it about Northwest-tangential murders this holiday season? We’ve got the UW student whose boyfriend now says she’s not the murdering type, although that’s the most flattering thing he can come up with. We’ve got the basketball player in Brazil, whose family and friends think he was murdered despite what the cops say. And now we’ve also got the twin murder suspect connected to Graham, Pierce County, through a prison pen-pal wife he married after being released by a judge appointed by presidential candidate Mitt Romney whom Romney now says must go. Heckuva job, Mittney!
And you thought nothing could dampen the seasonal joy of $22 DVD players and $59 digital cameras. Actually, the august and usually boosterish New York Times had a real downer of a Page 1 story yesterday on just that point: “Bargains draw crowds, but the thrill is gone,” containing such heresies as “the mood was more desperation than celebration,” “the merchandise is blah-humbug,” “exasperated consumers left the store in anger” and “sparse crowds” in upscale shops “were scary.” Contrast that with the still-boosterish Seattle Times’ local banner A1 head: “Splurge Surge,” and a story that gives mall–by-mall rundowns on shopper frenzy (“this truly is the shopping Olympics”) with nary a discouraging word. So the question is, are we living in a shopping bubble here in the Northwest, where sweetness ‘n light still rule the day? Maybe it’s all those Canadian shoppers cashing in on the dollar’s woes (do they still call their own version loonies, or are they taking themselves more seriously these days?)…or maybe we’re just lagging behind the national temperament. Or could it be that shoppers who are tightening budgets and downscaling and feeling frustrated at bait-and-switch are simply unseen by local media?
Anyway, back to Murders on Parade. For a little holiday cheer my wife and I went to see “No Country for Old Men” in hopes that the Coen Brothers of “Fargo” and “Big Lebowski” had somehow rediscovered their touch. Unfortunately, and despite the aura of universal raves (96 on Rotten Tomatoes), 2 1/2 hours of uninterrupted senseless homicide somehow failed to lift our spirits. Only one visual hearkens back to the comic relief that the CBs of old used so adeptly. And as for proclamations that this film is a cinematic metaphor for the post-9/11 world, um, er, pointless killing is a metaphor? Maybe Javier Bardem is a Dick Cheney with hair. I do have one question: Can people actually walk around in public carrying cattle stun guns? Which brings us to my wife Cecile’s assessment of the film as her own definition of a “dick flick.”
But even man-god Jesus would have a hard time recommending “No Country for Old Men” as a movie for the season putatively celebrating his birth. As for metaphors, perhaps it will do for our current Northwest siege of dead and dying…escapism be damned.
Tonight on “The David Goldstein Show”, 7PM to 10PM on News/Talk 710-KIRO:
7PM: The Stranger has a science writer?
A promising HIV vaccine trial based out of Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center goes awry, actually increasing some subjects’ chances of developing AIDS. Stranger science writer Jonathan Golob (yes, The Stranger actually has a science writer) takes a break from explaining hangovers and female orgasms to join me by phone to discuss the ramifications of this failed trial.
8PM: Saturday night comedy with Justin Rupple
We continue our experiment with live comedy as local comedian Justin Rupple joins us for the hour to give us his unique take on current events and the world around us.
The usual liberal propaganda.
Tune in tonight (or listen to the live stream) and give me a call: 1-877-710-KIRO (5476).
Against possibly my better judgement here, I’m going to post my thoughts about Ron Paul. Recently, two of my favorite bloggers, Glenn Greenwald and Dave Neiwert, butted heats over what’s happening with Paul, who he really is, and what his surprisingly successful candidacy means in this election cycle. The fact that neither one of them was being dishonest about Paul, but both found that the other person’s perspective was odd – almost offensive – really demonstrates the minefield that Paul’s candidacy has become.
From Neiwert’s perspective as an expert on white supremacist groups and related far-right extremism, he’s seen Paul as a fellow traveller with these groups for years. His post here details some of the history of those connections. Where I find some agreement with Greenwald is that Neiwert seems to be attributing the popularity of Paul’s far-right libertarian message with an ascendance of far-right racism. There’s obviously an element of that in his support, but the reason that Paul is becoming so popular today has very little to do with racism. When you think of left vs. right as being a struggle between more government and less government, Paul is certainly the most far-right candidate in the Republican field. But in that context, far-right is far from being analogous to racist. And when Paul says, “Well, they’ll be disappointed if that’s why they’re supporting me,” I tend to agree with him in some respects. But his history of ties to the groups that Neiwert has been following also amounts to a legitimate reason to doubt him, especially when he starts sounding like Lou Dobbs on immigration.
In recent decades, “states’ rights” has often been synonymous with the movement to keep the federal government from eliminating policies of segregation that existed in the American south. Many people today believe that ending these policies was a valid and proper use of the federal government, but Congressman Paul has doctrinaire views of the Constitution and what limits it places on the federal government. There’s no reason to conclude that he arrived at these views out of racism, but adopting that ideology certainly aligned him with those whose animosity toward federal power is rooted in the belief that the federal government is foisting “multi-culturalism” on the individual states. And as a Congressman from Texas, it’s very likely that this was some element of his voter base. Whether he needs to disavow this support now in order to appeal to more voters is really the big question, although so far, his candidacy doesn’t seem to be slowed by it at all. And this has nothing to do with racism.
The Bush Administration has made it abundantly clear that the idea that Republicans are more federalist, or support the typical conservative notions of small government, has long been an illusion. Both Democratic and Republican administrations have supported the strong use of federal power whenever it suits their needs. And while most Americans (myself certainly included) don’t have a well-developed legal understanding of the ins and outs of federal power vs. state power, we all recognize circumstances where the federal government oversteps its bounds and needs to be restrained.
Following drug policy and related topics for years, two circumstances quickly come to mind, and help shed some light on why the idea of “states’ rights” means something very different to someone who’s not old enough to remember the civil rights era (the same people who are also driving Paul’s amazing fundraising success online). The first is the federal drinking age. Under pressure from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 forced states to stop selling alcohol to those under 21. Before this, some states had already moved their drinking age to 21, while others had not. Ideally, this could have set up a situation where the states could compare experiences and determine whether raising the age to 21 was a good idea. Instead, you now have to rely on anyone who’s gone to college in the past 20 years to tell you how much of a disaster this policy is.
As any sane person would expect, raising the drinking age did nothing to stop underage people from drinking. All it did was force the drinking underground, hidden from authorities and other potential supervision, where the likelihood for people to be irresponsible or end up in dangerous situations went up substantially. Why was all of this was done? Because both the Reagan Administration and activist groups like MADD elevated the philosophy (launched by Nixon) that drug use and related moral failings were a federal concern, one for which states needed to have their own judgements overruled if they weren’t sufficiently in line with the moral majority in Washington DC.
The second circumstance involves what’s been happening over the past decade with various state medical marijuana laws. Despite the fact that some states decided to legalize the use of medical marijuana, the federal government just ignored these actions and kept enforcing the antiquated federal law that treats marijuana as a dangerous drug with no medical value. A cancer patient from California eventually took her case against the federal government to the Supreme Court, and the Court’s liberal majority ruled that the federal government had the right to take medicine away from cancer patients because they believed that the federal government has the right to regulate interstate commerce. And still today, the DEA and the Justice Department still very actively try to prosecute people involved in providing medical marijuana to patients who need it, and Congress continues to give them the A-OK.
Of course, these instances are only part of why Ron Paul’s campaign is resonating so powerfully, especially among younger voters. Many people see him more generally as the candidate who believes most fervently in the power of free markets, which has a big appeal to young voters (especially techies) and isn’t necessarily seen as an extension of the “states’ rights” philosophy. But his opposition to federal power is the message that has carried his success, thanks primarily to a Bush Administration that’s given us a disastrous foreign military occupation, warrantless wiretapping, the Military Commissions Act, the Patriot Act, massive increases in federal spending, and federal agencies whose corruption and politicization are only outdone by their incompetence. And it certainly helps that many of the leading Democrats have, at best, been wishy-washy in their oppostion to these things. Ron Paul is not. He speaks with the kind of certainly that appeals to voters who see the political situation in Washington, DC as the perfect storm of special-interest pandering, a thoroughly inept media, and poll-driven fecklessness leading to perpetual incumbency.
While his message is resonating, and I find myself truly admiring the run he’s having, I definitely have my doubts about both him and his overarching philosophies. For one, his very firm constitutional basis for determining “states’ rights” isn’t so cut and dry in my mind. While I can easily run through a number of instances where the federal government needs to back off and let states deal with their own affairs, I don’t think that the federal actions that went into ending segregation in the 1960s, or the decision to legalize abortion, were a mistake. I tend to draw the line over whether the the federal government is protecting individuals from a particular state law or protecting the state from its own decision-making. This is its own separate post, and one for which constitutional scholars would probably have a field day (especially if I related it to my support for Roe v. Wade). Either way, I find myself somewhat stuck between Paul’s more extreme view of a very limited role for the federal government and the Democrats’ slow evolution away from their own more extreme beliefs in federal power (every Democratic candidate now wants to reverse the Bush Administration’s policy towards medical marijuana patients in states where it’s legal). As a pragmatist, I admire the intellectual foundation of the Constitution and the results its achieved but I also wonder whether the realities of our 21st century existence means that we can’t always apply 18th century thinking to 21st century problems.
At certain times, I’ve tried to play devil’s advocate with those who try to claim that Paul is a racist. I like to point out that Paul’s desire to end the federal drug war would likely do more to help minority communities than anything any of leading Democratic candidates have stated they’ll do. In the past, I’ve tended to think of this when I think of Paul’s claims that his racist supporters would be disappointed with him as President. The drug war is the single most damaging force in America’s black communities today. Our drug laws, combined with our enormous prison system, has been the driving force behind the devastation of many of our inner cities. It fuels the gang culture, drives the market for illegal guns, and still manages to put millions of non-violent people in prison, many of whom would be good husbands and fathers if it were not for laws that serve no other function than to put more of them in jail. Listen to the loud ovation Paul received at a recent Republican debate in front of a largely black audience when addressing these issues. It’s impossible to watch that clip and then make the argument that Ron Paul is the candidate who speaks for white supremacists.
But where I have major doubts about Paul center around his views on immigration. Earlier, I referenced this article he wrote in 2006, and I have trouble squaring that with some of his other views. As much as he talks about and gets support from people who champion free markets and the free flow of goods and labor, his views on immigration sound like he’s been hanging out with Lou Dobbs. Even worse, in order to make his argument, he touches upon an argument that has often been used as justification for maintaining the federal drug war:
We must reject amnesty for illegal immigrants in any form. We cannot continue to reward lawbreakers and expect things to get better. If we reward millions who came here illegally, surely millions more will follow suit. Ten years from now we will be in the same position, with a whole new generation of lawbreakers seeking amnesty.
This kind of bad logic has often been applied to the drug war in order to justify the federal prohibitions. Repealing the drug war is basically “rewarding lawbreakers”. And by Paul’s logic here, the fact that these lawbreakers would be rewarded will serve as an enticement for millions more to break the law. All of this relies upon the false belief that our laws have any effect at all in these circumstances. They never have and they never will. As we learned during alcohol prohibition, and we’re re-learning now with other substances, prohibitions don’t work when you’re dealing with basic human desires. And the immigration issue deals with primary human desires for survival. What’s most disappointing about Paul’s stance on immigration is that he fails to even mention the affect that drug prohibition has been having in Mexico and fueling the current migrations north. It indicates to me that while his overarching philosophies have often pointed Paul in the right direction on these issues, he still sounds like he’s sometimes flying blind and not getting the big picture for issues that should be clearer to him.
Paul’s candidacy and the rabidness of his supporters is having an interesting effect on this election season. He’s clearly the best candidate on the Republican side, but whether or not he appeals to Democrats probably depends on whether people think his refreshing certainty on views that strike the anti-Bush anti-war chord (ending the Iraq War, repealing the Patriot Act, etc) outweigh his anti-progressive views on whether the federal government should be counted on for addressing some of the major problems we face (global warming, health care, etc). It’s easy to mock him for believing that the free market will protect endangered species, but is that really any more ridiculous than believing that we can defeat drug traffickers in Mexico? As a nation, we’ve drifted towards a point where certain absurdities have been mainstreamed, while others are marginalized. In times of great fear and insecurity, we tend to find comfort in believing that government can accomplish things it can’t. And when those fears and insecurities manifest itself in mythmaking about the power of government, someone like Ron Paul needs to come along to right the ship.