Juan Williams Exposes The Racist Euphemisms Used By Republican Candidates

Juan Williams exposes the racism in the GOP campaign at The Hill:

The language of GOP racial politics is heavy on euphemisms that allow the speaker to deny any responsibility for the racial content of his message. The code words in this game are “entitlement society” — as used by Mitt Romney — and “poor work ethic” and “food stamp president” — as used by Newt Gingrich. References to a lack of respect for the “Founding Fathers” and the “Constitution” also make certain ears perk up by demonizing anyone supposedly threatening core “old-fashioned American values.”

The code also extends to attacks on legal immigrants, always carefully lumped in with illegal immigrants, as people seeking “amnesty” and taking jobs from Americans…

The former Speaker has declared that black people should demand jobs instead of food stamps. And he has proposed having poor students work as janitors in their high schools. Regardless of how they were intended, poor people and minorities sense that with those comments Gingrich is winking — some call it “dog whistling” — at certain white audiences by intimating that black people are lazy, happy to live off the government and lacking any intellect.

With comments like this, I wonder how long Williams will remain at Fox. Apparently exposure to ideas at NPR has made a difference. Getting outside of the right wing bubble from time to time might do wonders for other conservatives.

I’ll undoubtedly receive a response from a Republican insisting that he is not racist because he will claim that it is true that blacks are just interested in food stamps and immigrants take American jobs. I’ve certainly received a lot of defenses of Ron Paul’s racist newsletters based upon such logic. The Republican leadership provides a form of legitimacy to such prejudices.


Republicans Have The Weakest Final Four Ever

The Republicans are down to the final four, but it is possible none of them can win. After losing in South Carolina, Romney is now trailing in Florida in several polls. Romney is helped by the fact early voters made up thirty percent of the vote before the South Carolina primary. As many of these votes were cast during the week leading up to the South Carolina primary when Gingrich was surging, Romney did not necessarily do all that well even in that vote.

After the South Carolina primary I heard a number of predictions that Romney would still win, citing past primary battles where conservatives opposed a front runner who ultimately prevailed. This year might be different. Between the liberal social issues he supported in the past, his promotion of a health care plan similar to Obama’s, and his rejection of Reagan when he was in office, there is plenty for Republicans to never forgive. Romney’s religion further reduces his ability to win in a party where bigotry is common.

On top of these problems, Romney has now lost his two major selling points–inevitability and electability. Losing in Florida would put an end to any claims of inevitability. The attacks on his years at Bain Capital and his mishandling of the calls to release his income tax returns cast serious doubts as to whether Romney is competitive in a national election. His offers to release a single return from 2010 only raises further questions as to what he has to hide. His tax shelters in the Cayman Islands and speculation that many years he paid far closer to zero percent than the fifteen percent he claims, make him a weak candidate in a year in which many voters from both parties are fed up with Wall Street. It also doesn’t make it easy for Romney to run against Obama after his repeated admissions that the economy is getting better under Obama, even if he tries to deny Obama the credit.

Newt Gingrich did well in South Carolina, but his victory speech showed what a weak candidate he would make once his claims are challenged. His attacks on the elites raise the question as to who is an elite if Newt Gingrich isn’t.  I would love to see some reporters challenge Gingrich to name exactly what Obama has done which is so radical. At least Gingrich has now added Saul Alinsky’s name to the list of items to use in Republican drinking games. Never mind that Obama was eleven when Alinsky died.

At the moment it looks like we have a two way race between Gingrich and Romney, but it is possible that Santorum might win over more of the conservative vote outside of the south. He might start receiving large contributions from the shirt-hanger manufacturers. There is a danger for Santorum that Gingrich will get so much momentum out of wins in South Carolina and Florida that Santorum will be forgotten. Still, if I was Santorum, I would stay in the race as it is possible that Gingrich could self-destruct at any time. Delegates might also be split four ways with Ron Paul also having a shot of picking up a handful, possibly preventing anyone from winning enough delegates to win before the convection. In such a case, I can easily see Santorum throwing his delegates (if he accumulates enough) to whichever candidate would add him to their ticket. It would be interesting to see if the Republicans could still maintain the myth that they are a party of small government with a Gingrich-Santorum ticket.

Romney In Serious Trouble In South Carolina

In covering primary and caucus votes I’ve held to two principles: 1) polls, especially in early contests, are meaningless until just before the actual vote, and 2) each vote has the potential to change the dynamic of the nomination battle making polls of  subsequent events open to considerable change. These principles were clear when John Kerry and Barack Obama used come from behind victories in Iowa in 2004 and 2008 to defeat the previous front runners for the Democratic nominations. This year, South Carolina has the potential to derail the campaign of Mitt Romney.

The script was supposed to read that South Carolina would be Romney’s third consecutive win, making his nomination inevitable. While Romney very well can still go on to win, this script is now in doubt. Newt Gingrich has overtaken Romney in late polls, while Santorum has been given the win in Iowa. A loss tonight would make Romney one out of three.

Romney has taken some serious hits, including questions about his years at Bain Capital, his admission that he only pays 15 percent in income taxes, his money in the Cayman Islands, and his poor response to questions about releasing his income tax returns. Added to clear demonstrations that Romney has no convictions or ideas as to how to govern, even if he still should win the nomination it is questionable whether he can compete in a general election campaign.  Exit polls from South Carolina are showing that voters are looking for the candidate with the best shot at beating Barack Obama, but the old conventional wisdom that this is Romney might no longer hold. At this point Newt Gingrich, with all his faults, very well might be the Republican’s most competitive candidate in a general election campaign–which should be very scary for anyone crazy enough to want to see a Republican in the White House.

I wonder how much more momentum Santorum might have received if he had been declared the winner at the time of the actual vote. His initial placement in second place, along with the endorsement from portions of the religious right, appear to be insufficient to make him the major non-Romney candidate in South Carolina. The main difference is probably that Gingrich, from neighboring Georgia, is better able to play into the fears and prejudices of southern Republican voters. It is doubtful the revelations of his infidelity and request for an open marriage would hurt him at all. The morality of the religious right is in no way related to the morality of decent, honorable people who reject their archaic world view. Many in the religious right hold a strange world view where the paternalistic display of power by Newt over his previous wives would be seen as favorable, and Gingrich’s attack on the press for discussing this would be an even bigger plus. Rights of women and the concept of a free press are two ideas which are foreign to them.

The campaign also got down to the final four this week, first helping Romney and then non-Romney. There is a tremendous benefit to being declared first even before the GOP race allows winner take all votes in April. While Jon Huntsman never caught on, it became possible that his votes could make a difference in allowing Romney to hold on to first place in what was then a five way race. Rick Perry’s endorsement of Newt Gingrich helps balance that vote. The question in upcoming states will be whether Gingrich and Santorum divide the conservative vote, while Ron Paul, who has zero chance of actually winning, siphons off enough additional votes to allow Romney to come in first.

Should Romney have a strong showing today he will become very difficult to beat. However, should Gingrich win then the polls showing Romney with leads in Florida and other states might no longer have any meaning. A win for Gingrich in South Carolina would give an entirely new narrative in the Florida race. Romney’s national lead has fallen to ten points in the latest Gallup tracking poll. That poll was a five day rolling average taken between January 15 and 19. Romney’s position at the end of that period  could even be worse., after leading by twenty-three points at the start of the week. Romney could fall even further if he loses in South Carolina, possibly leading to a loss in Florida, or at very least keeping the race going into more states.

Conservative Group Backs Rick Santorum

Mitt Romney remains the most likely candidate to win the Republican nomination, but there has been another event which could lead to the less likely scenario I discussed after the Iowa caucus which makes Rick Santorum the nominee. A group of social conservative activists met in Texas and, after three ballots, voted to back Rick Santorum. If, and this is a big if, conservative voters in Republican primaries were to fall in line behind this endorsement, Santorum could win.

There are obviously many obstacles in Santorum’s way. Romney is helped tremendously by the fragmentation of the conservative vote. Newt Gingrich, who did poorly in the first two contests, is running closest to Romney in many polls in South Carolina and does not appear likely to leave the race. Andy Borowitz calculates that “Newt Gingrich has now been in the race longer than any of his marriages” and, based upon his past behavior, does not believe Newt will leave the race unless it gets cancer.

Ron Paul, whose support is increasing in South Carolina,  is helping Mitt Romney by accumulating a block of delegates which are irrelevant towards choosing an actual nominee. It is not clear what Paul’s end game is, but I certainly do not see him throwing his delegates to Santorum.

There is a question as to whether this is the right year for Santorum, who is far better known for his reactionary views on social issues in a year in which economic issues dominate. However, as Republican economic policy consists primarily of repeating ideas which never work in the real world, it shouldn’t be difficulty for Santorum to learn to speak to Republican voters on the economy. Santorum might also be hindered by a Dan Quayle level of intellect, but that did not stop Republican voters from nominating George W. Bush.

A big question remains as to whether any of the more conservative candidates can emerge to the point where they can come in first place when the nomination battle moves to the winner-take-all stage in April. Even if a single conservative cannot beat Romney consistently, if different ones manage to beat him in different states there is a chance, although small, that the campaign could even be taken to the convention.

Quote of the Day

“Nation, unless you live in a cave, I’m sure you’ve heard that yesterday’s New Hampshire primary was won by Mitt Romney. And if you do live in a cave, I’m guessing you voted for Ron Paul.” –Stephen Colbert

The Impact of the Iowa Caucus

The 2012 Republican Iowa caucus had far less impact on the race than the 2004 and 2008 Democratic races which propelled John Kerry and Barack Obama to victories in their party. The biggest question is whether we are seeing a repeat of the 2008 Republican caucus, with Rick Santorum playing the part of Mike Huckabee. Santorum benefited from being the last non-Romney candidate standing, surging with too little time for media scrutiny to harm his campaign. His eight vote loss to Mitt Romney might be analogous to Mike Huckabee’s win if it turns out to be an isolated win for a social conservatives. There is an outside chance that Santorum might capitalize upon this win to become a strong enough anti-Romney candidate to pull an upset. If conservatism was really a small-government movement a supporter of big-government such as Santorum would have no chance, but deep down many Republicans must realize their small government rhetoric is all talk. Even the Tea Party members (who have always been dominated by social conservatives) gave Santorum support.

The biggest difference between 2008 and this year is the desire of conservatives to prevent a replay of 2008 and allow someone they see as more moderate win the nomination. Newt Gingrich now wants an anti-Romney alliance with Santorum, but this looks a lot like a losing candidate trying to remain relevant. Gingrich might destroy Romney, and in the process destroy the GOPs chances at winning the general election. It is about time Gingrich does something useful.

Meanwhile conservative leaders are meeting in Texas to attempt to find a consensus conservative candidate. Good luck finding someone who adheres to the conservative line on most issues and doesn’t come across as bat-shit crazy to moderate and independent voters in a general election.

The biggest loser was obviously Michele Bachmann who dropped out of the race. Rick Perry almost left the race. As he has been raising money better than he has been debating, he might as well remain in the race. As volatile as this race has been, he could still maintain hope of becoming the surviving anti-Romney candidate down the road.

If measuring against expectations, Ron Paul also turned out to be a loser. After appearing to have a chance to win, or at least come in a close second, his third place left him virtually forgotten behind the close Romney-Santorum battle. Besides, there are few states where Paul has a chance to pick up many votes in a Republican primary.

Overall it was an unimpressive night for Republicans, who suffered from low turn-out, and for Mitt Romney. Romney spent years and millions of dollars to show that he could not appeal to any more voters than four years ago. Derek Thompson calculated how much each candidate spent per vote. Rick Perry spent the most per vote at $478.40.  Mitt Romney spent $154.90, Ron Paul  $103.30, Newt Gingrich  $89.84, Rick Santorum  $20.50, and Michele Bachmann spent $3.95 per vote. Santorum clearly got the most for his money.

It seemed that there were far more people tweeting about the caucus last night than participating. Some say it is unfair that such a small number of people could potentially choose our president. That is no where as bad as the 2000 election when the election was decided by nine people on the Supreme Court.


Once Again, Ron Paul’s Views Would Promote Conservatism and Even Authoritarianism, Not Liberty

Ron Paul’s opposition to virtually any action by the federal government means that he is on the right side of issues where government is wrong, including infringements upon civil liberties and waging unjust wars. His extreme support for states’ rights should not be mistaken as a philosophy which would increase liberty. Paul opposes the extension of the Bill of Rights to the states in the Fourteenth Amendment and has on many occasions indicated that he would find infringements upon civil liberties by the sates to be acceptable. He does make an exception to this usual support of states’ rights by treating abortion as murder nationwide.

While many libertarians and civil libertarians have seen through Paul’s faux-libertariansm, especially since his relationship to white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups were exposed during the 2008 campaign, some remained deceived by Paul’s rhetoric. Glenn Grenwald is the latest to write in favor of Paul without really understanding his views, while continuing with his pattern of exaggerating  and distorting Obama’s faults.

The issues regarding Paul were discussed at length in 2007 in the lead up to the 2008 campaign. In early 2008, while substituting for Steve Benen at his former blog, The Carpetbagger Report, I cross-posted a summary of my previous posts to show it would be a mistake for liberals to support Ron Paul. (Steve has since moved on to The Washington Monthly.) The previous post remains relevant and I will repeat the bulk of it below:

Seeing Ron Paul debate his fellow Republicans on Iraq, and even criticize their lack of respect for civil liberties, brought Paul justifiably favorable attention. This has included the support of some liberals who have not looked carefully at Paul’s views beyond these issues. Paul has lost a considerable amount of respect the last few days after an article in The New Republic reported on the racist writings in his newsletter, but there were reasons for both liberals and libertarians to question Paul even before these revelations.

To bring those up to speed who might not have followed the events of past week, The New Republic‘s exposure of racist writings in Ron Paul’s newsletter was the final straw after which many libertarians who had previously ignored Paul’s past realized they must disassociate themselves from Paul if they wished to retain any credibility. I have quoted the responses of several libertarians here and here. Paul’s defense was that the articles were ghost written by others and that he had not read the articles. He also claimed that he disagreed with the views expressed.

Back in November I discussed how libertarians were beginning to dissociate themselves from Ron Paul, and even half jokingly suggested that Reason would eventually do so on its cover to differentiate themselves from Paul’s markedly non-libertarian views. This week Reason clearly did realize the danger to their reputation in being linked to Paul. This led to Reason doing investigative work to debunk Paul’s defense.

Reason has reviewed public statements from Paul over the years which are quite incriminating. At times Paul defended the writings, and the context of the news reports suggests Paul was aware of them even if a ghost writer assisted him. For example, the May 22, 1996 Dallas Morning News contains this (emphasis mine): “Dr. Paul denied suggestions that he was a racist and said he was not evoking stereotypes when he wrote the columns. He said they should be read and quoted in their entirety to avoid misrepresentation.”

This hardly sounds like someone who is either denying that he wrote the articles or denying that he agrees with what is published. My post on this topic yesterday includes another quote from a libertarian, Megan McArdle, which further debunks the arguments of many of Paul’s supporters, as well as dismissing the question of whether it matters if Paul is personally a racist or enabling racism.

I’ve been following Ron Paul at Liberal Values for quite a while. Initially, despite some disagreements, I found aspects of his campaign to be of interest. Besides his views on Iraq and civil liberties, I saw Paul’s campaign as a sign of the general anti-government sentiment in the country, which liberals would be wise not to ignore. As I continued to follow Paul, and reviewed his writings well before The New Republic did, I found many disturbing aspects beyond the questions of racism.

One policy I generally followed in my criticism of Paul’s views was to hold him to a standard of supporting freedom, but generally ignored disagreements based upon basic libertarian views. We might disagree with Paul over issues such as eliminating certain government programs, but in discussing libertarians that goes with the territory. Such disagreements with liberals are to be expected. Objections are much more interesting when they pertain to areas in which the so-called libertarian’s views are contrary to principles of individual liberty.

Paul’s views are far better characterized as social conservatism with extreme support for states’ rights as opposed to libertarianism. Despite his reputation as a libertarian, Paul is actually hostile towards First Amendment rights where they conflict with his religious views. Besides the Iraq war, and related abuses in the “war on terror,” the greatest threat we now face to civil liberties comes from the religious right.

As I’ve previously noted, Paul has incorrectly claimed that, “The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers.” He has also supported keeping “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, has co-sponsored the school prayer amendment, and supported keeping the Ten Commandments on a courthouse lawn. Paul has both criticized secularism and claimed that the founding fathers envisioned a Christian America. Paul has supported the Sanctity of Life Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, and the Marriage Protection Act.

Paul’s views on abortion show both his lack of respect for the rights of the individual as well as how he is willing to ignore his principles on federalism to promote his personal views. Besides supporting the federal ban on so-called partial birth abortions, Paul has supported federal legislation to over ride state law which differentiates between a zygote and a fully developed human. I would expect someone with training in Obstetrics to be concerned about such scientific nonsense, but this is less surprising after hearing his views on creationism versus evolution.

Ron Paul supports a Constitution which is quite different from that envisioned by the framers. Besides failing to understand the intent to form a secular state, Paul’s views on federalism stem from a lack of understanding of the plan to have over-lapping sources of authority with blurred jurisdiction between federal and state power. Paul ignores the reasons why the framers supported a stronger federal government following the failings of the original Articles of Confederation.

The fight for liberty is an on going process, with the American Revolution and later establishment of our democracy being steps along the way. Few would return to the conditions of our early days when slavery was allowed and women were denied the right to vote. While some of the founding fathers wished to have the Bill of Rights extended to the states, this was a battle which had to be left for a later date. The Fourteenth Amendment ultimately extended such rights, but this view is rejected by Paul and many of his supporters.

The consequences of these views are of tremendous consequence. While traditional views of liberalism and libertarianism deal with rights as being inherent in the individual, Paul’s view of states’ rights leads in practice to a situation where state governments trump the rights of the individual. I discussed this a couple of weeks ago from the context of Paul’s view that state governments have the right to ban flag burning. Similarly, Paul’s views would have prevented the federal government from taking action against Jim Crow laws. With the Bill of Rights not being seen as applying to the states, any violation of our Constitutional liberties might be justified if coming from a source other than the federal government.

This also explains why extremist groups such as the white supremacist Stormfront have endorsed Ron Paul. They understand that, even if their views might differ from Paul’s personal views, Ron Paul’s philosophy of government would allow them the chance to impose their views upon others. It is far easier for extremist groups to receive a majority vote in a local area, or even an entire state, than nationally. A campaign which started with well-deserved opposition to the Iraq war has turned into one where the main freedom they are defending is the freedom to discriminate and oppress. Paul’s refusal to return a contribution from Stormfront founder Don Black was the point when many first recognized that there is something seriously wrong with Paul and his supporters who defend this. In addition, to see that he shares the xenophobia exhibited by his fellow Republicans, check out this ad which he ran on illegal aliens and those people from “terrorist nations.”

I’ve been criticizing Paul on these issues for several months. Thanks to all the talk around the blogosphere among libertarians following the story in The New Republic I find that some libertarian sites (such as here and here) have raised very similar objections.

Since this was posted additional contradictory statements from Paul have been publicized, further demonstrating the lack of credibility of his denials of involvement with the racist and homophobic material published under his name.  More material has been posted here under the Ron Paul tag. Also see the rebuttal to Greenwood written at Lawyers, Gun$ and Money, including this accurate assessment of the consequences of Paul’s beliefs, tying in his racism and extreme view of states’ rights:

It’s wrong to think of Ron Paul’s racism and his libertarianism as two distinct parts of his political persona, when in fact they are deeply tied together. White supremacists understand what Glenn, apparently, does not; the absence of Federal authority makes it easier for private actors and local governments to repress the civil and political rights of minorities. Paul’s libertarianism emerged in a regional and cultural context that was deeply hostile to Federal efforts at integration. The newsletters give strong indication that none of this is lost on Ron Paul. A notional President Paul is just as likely to use the powers of the office to gut Federal enforcement of a wide range of civil liberties protections as he is to do any of the things that Glenn would like him to do.