Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Prisoner's Dilemma

One last political post, and then I really have no more to say about national politics until some genuinely significant change occurs.

I begin with the recent tempest in an e-cup involving the blogger Glenn Greenwald and a post he wrote about Ron Paul.

I don't want to go much further than that - Google "Greenwald Paul liberals" and you'll probably get the crux of the biscuit - other than to say;

1. Greenwald makes a terrific point, and
2. He managed to do it in a perfectly impossible way.

To begin with, the original post was about Ron Paul and the "problem" he presents for liberals, to wit;
"Paul’s candidacy forces progressives to face the hideous positions and actions of their candidate, of the person they want to empower for another four years. If Paul were not in the race or were not receiving attention, none of these issues would receive any attention because all the other major GOP candidates either agree with Obama on these matters or hold even worse views."
Because, as Greenwald points out, among all the Presidental candidates (and, I should add, the candidates for ALL federal offices, high and low, in the two major parties) only Paul "...stands for peace, opposes wars, believes in due process and civil liberties, distrusts the military-industrial complex, (is) devoted to individual rights, transparency and economic equality."

And y'know what?

He's right on the nail on that.

Pretty much every other warm body - from Obama to the wingiest nut in the GOP wingnut farm - is generally pro-war, anti-due-process, pro-social-legislation (read "outlawing things (or at least not legalizing things) involving gays and sex"), anti-transparency, pro-Fed/Wall-Street-bailout, and pro-Drug-War.

The entire business has blown up into this huge contretemps, with people of good intentions, good liberals all, kicking and punching each other because of this. Greenwald himself has posted a second round of the brouhaha, responding to his critics.


Here's the problem.

Paul is "right" (and Greenwald is "right" about him) - in the sense that he is anti-war, pro-due-process, pro-transparency, anti-social-legislation, anti-Fed, anti-Wall-Street-bailout, anti-Drug-War and so am I - for completely different reasons that I think I'm "right" on these issues.

But Paul is "wrong" (and so Greenwald is "wrong" in saying that he holds up a mirror to the establishment liberals in which they see ugly truths about themselves and their candidate(s)") because he's like someone who agrees with you that forcible carnal knowledge of underage girls is wrong - but not for moral and ethical reasons but because sex with underage girls is forbidden by Ubbo-Sathla, the Unbegotten Source and the Elder God has told him so in a series of bloodsoaked visions.

Oh. Yeah. That.

Paul is "anti-war" not because he has a moral, legal, or realist objection to war but because he hates the federal government and wars tend to empower the federal government.

Paul is "anti-social legislation" not because he thinks gays are people and that governments have no business nannying citizens about their personal lives but because he hates the federal government and doesn't want IT intervening - either for or against - groups or individuals. He's fine with STATES doing either or both.

Paul is "anti-Drug-War", again, not because of the effect it has had on our civil rights or sane legal policies, but because of the way it empowers the federal justice system and, again, he's fine with states locking up dopers forever and passing fucked-up search and forfeiture laws.

He'd have gleefully allowed Jim Crow to continue rather than have let the Fed intervene, he would happily see Grandma eating cat food rather than give the Fed power to disperse medical or financial aid. His ideas about economics would have made John D. Rockefeller green with envy, being straight-up libertarian and, thus, utterly nuts in a real world.


Look, let's cut to the chase. The bottom line is that the problem is that Ron Paul IS whack. He's a complete whackaloon and the virtue of many of his political positions has nothing to do with his reasons for chosing them and, in many cases, are fatally weakened by the utter craziness of those reasons.

He's a mysogynist, racist, goldbug goofball that thinks that the Articles of Confederation were a grand idea, that we should really go back to the time when banks printed their own money, and that if life were like a libertarian fantasy world where the people with all the guns and all the money were free of all outside constraints they would act responsibly instead of, as history has always shown and the rest of us know perfectly well is the inevitable consequence of unlimited power, taking whatever they wanted, raping whatever would move and shitting on what didn't.

And the really insane part is that Paul is the only national candidate taking what I would consider sane positions and he is as nutty as a fruit bat.

So the problem isn't, as Greenwald implies, that liberals are forced to attack Paul because "their" candidate(s) are a bunch of wholly-owned subsidiaries of the financial/MICC industry and "child-killing, secrecy-obsessed, whistleblower-persecuting Drug Warrior(s)".

The PROBLEM is that "The only candidate to articulate sane, realist policies in the current U.S. Presidential campaign is a total whackaloon whose advocacy is based on equal parts idiocy, delusion, vanity, and selfish greed...and I HATE what the FUCK that says about the current U.S. Presidential campaign and U.S. politics in general!"

And I think if Greenwald had phrased it that way all he'd have received would have been a chorus of heartfelt groans of agreement.

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