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Monday, August 23, 2010

Slick Paulitician

by digby

I know everyone is terribly impressed by Ron Paul's statement supporting the so-called mosque, but it really should be noted that within that statement is a bunch of towering bullshit as well.

First of all, he says that the politicians are all fiddling as the economy burns, which is debatable since the politicians have been mostly issuing terse waffling statements in between campaign stops and golfing outings. And anyway, as Greenwald points out today, this is a real issue whether we want it to be or not and it speaks to some very dangerous and important cross currents in American political life. It's not a distraction.

Moreover, Paul's commitment to fixing the economy is hardly something to emulate. After all, he is wholly against any further stimulus, regulation of the financial sector or even allowing some tax cuts to expire on the wealthiest Americans even as they reap huge rewards from the taxpayer bailouts. So, unless he thinks that the congress would be busily working to dismantle the Fed and reinstating the gold standard if this mosque wasn't being built, I'm not sure what he's talking about.

He says that this should have offered conservatives an opportunity to make an argument on the grounds of property rights. Of course, that same argument tracks with his boy Rand's view that we should allow any bigot who owns a restaurant in the area to refuse to serve Muslims because it offends his delicate sensibilities, so I'm not sure that's the best one to use in this circumstance. This argument is a red herring. What's at stake here is pluralism vs know-nothingism --- and good old fashioned decency.

Obviously, I agree with him that this is useful to the neo-conservative imperial wet dream, but Paul neglects to discuss the economic incentives involved -- namely our addiction to oil and the capitalist "producers" who profit from it. That seems to me to be a fairly important omission and it renders much of his otherwise inspiring anti-neocon rhetoric a little bit flat. Neo-cons are, after all, cons for a reason and it's the same reason that animates Paul's entire libertarian laissez-faire philosophy. Freedom defined as $$$ often leads to this sort of repressive activity. I wonder why?

Finally, there are his arrogant accusations against unnamed liberals as "sunshine patriots" who are supposedly agitating against the mosque:
But many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam, the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia.

There are certainly timorous Democratic politicians like Reid and Weiner, among others, who have taken a cowardly position on this mosque. But "the left," both amateur and professional, has been alone in the country standing up to this madness and it's outrageous to lump them in among the racist, xenophoic neanderthals on the right. It's vintage libertarian arrogance --- they position themselves as superior to all sides even if they have to make stuff up (although in Paul's case it's always important to remember that he is, after all, a Republican.)

His shot at Pelosi is just a lie:

Paul would benefit from paying attention to the news a little more closely.

The House Speaker is now treading on a slippery slope by demanding a Congressional investigation to find out just who is funding the mosque—a bold rejection of property rights, 1st Amendment rights, and the Rule of Law—in order to look tough against Islam.

Er, no. While Nancy Pelosi did call for "transparency" about the mosque's funding, the only "investigation" she got behind (and not necessarily a Congressional one at that) was one into the funding of the mosque opposition. Just replace "the House Speaker" with Rick Lazio, Peter King, or George Pataki, and it makes more sense.

I am happy that he spoke out against Islamophobia. I would have hoped that it wouldn't be an unusual position for members of either party and the fact that it is, is simply disgusting. But Paul is otherwise full of shit, as usual.

Give me Senator Merkley's unambiguously principled, moral stand any day. Or for that matter, Greg Sargent, who took on one of his own paper's treasured op-ed right wingers by name to defend the mosque. There are people out there who are taking the right position for the right reasons.

This isn't tough. The anti-Muslim xenophobes are just dead wrong. And it's not because they don't respect property rights. It's because they don't respect common human decency.