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More on Paul and the Newsletters

James Kirkchick returns to this subject (my first post is here), this time for the Weekly StandardThe Company Ron Paul Keeps.

The literal money graf:

a subsequent report by Reason found that Ron Paul & Associates, the defunct company that published the newsletters and which counted Paul and his wife as officers, reported an income of nearly $1 million in 1993 alone. If this figure is reliable, Paul must have earned multiple millions of dollars over the two decades plus of the newsletters’ existence. It is incredible that he had less than an active interest in what was being printed as part of a subscription newsletter enterprise that earned him and his family millions of dollars.

The piece contains some additional examples of the outlandish contents of the newsletter, including:

No conspiracy theory was too outlandish for Paul’s endorsement. One newsletter reported on the heretofore unknown phenomenon of “Needlin’,” in which “gangs of black girls between the ages of 12 and 14″ roamed the streets of New York and injected white women with possibly HIV-infected syringes. Another newsletter warned that “the AIDS patient” should not be allowed to eat in restaurants because “AIDS can be transmitted by saliva,” a strange claim for a physician to make.

Paul gave credence to the theory, later shown to have been the product of a Soviet disinformation effort, that AIDS had been created in a U.S. government laboratory at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Three months before far-right extremists killed 168 Americans in Oklahoma City, Paul’s newsletter praised the “1,500 local militias now training to defend liberty” as “one of the most encouraging developments in America.” And he offered specific advice to antigovernment militia members, such as, “Keep the group size down,” “Keep quiet and you’re harder to find,” “Leave no clues,” “Avoid the phone as much as possible,” and “Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”

and

on the subject of the 1993 World Trade Center attack, concluded, “Whether it was a setup by the Israeli Mossad, as a Jewish friend of mine suspects, or was truly a retaliation by the Islamic fundamentalists, matters little.” In 1990, the newsletter cast aspersions on the “tens of thousands of well-placed friends of Israel in all countries who are willing to wok [sic] for the Mossad in their area of expertise.”

There is also the ongoing association between Paul and radio host/conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones:

In the four years since my article appeared, Paul has gone right on appearing regularly on the radio program of Alex Jones, the most popular conspiracy theorist in America (unless that distinction belongs to Paul himself). To understand Jones’s paranoid worldview, it helps to watch a recent documentary he produced, Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement, which reveals the secret plot of George Pataki, David Rockefeller, and Queen Beatrix, among other luminaries, to exterminate humanity and transform themselves into “superhuman” computer hybrids able to “travel throughout the cosmos.” There is nothing Jones believes the American government isn’t capable of, from “[encouraging] homosexuality with chemicals so that people don’t have children” to blowing up the Space Shuttle Columbia, a “textbook psychological warfare operation.”

Indeed, one need not take Kirchick’s word for Jones (dare I say) zaniness,* just surf over to Jone’s web site.

I must confess, I find some appeal in the notion that Paul represents a straight-talking, non-interventionist, principled alternative to the current GOP field (the problem, of course, is what the precise nature of those principles are).  And there is an argument that he could be, therefore, a reasonable protest vote (a case that E. D. Kain made this week:  Why I Will Be Voting for Ron Paul in 2012 and earlier by Andrew Sullivan:  Ron Paul For The GOP Nomination).  However, as sympathetic as I am to both Kain’s and Sullivan’s arguments, the more about Paul’s associates that I read (and I don’t know what else to call those who wrote for his newsletter—it was either him, or people he associated with), the more disturbing I find the situation and thus I find the idea of voting for Paul in the primaries to be less and less palatable.

*Actually, zaniness doesn’t even scratch the surface.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    Yeah this should be a deal-breaker. I’ve had people write for me or ghost for me and none of them have promoted racist lunatic or paranoid theories. It just doesn’t happen unless you let it or actively encourage it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  2. Yeah, “Don’t fire unless fired upon” clearly means “Go truck bomb a federal building”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  3. @Stormy Dragon: Did anyone say that it did?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  4. Although I would note: the suggestion is still that one ought to be prepared to fire on law enforcement,

    You don’t find that problematic?

    (Not to mention the rest of the sentence you quoted: ” but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.”)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  5. @Steven L. Taylor:

    You don’t find that problematic?

    Yes, but I see the problem as the increasingly out of control law enforcement in this country. The fact growing numbers of people see the police as something they need to defend themselves from is a rational, if disturbing, reaction to that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  6. @Stormy Dragon: We can agree that there are serious problems with law enforcement. However, the notion that we must prepare for war with them is more than a bit fringe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  7. @Steven L. Taylor:

    If you think he meant a literal war, yes. But the “let it begin here” suggests it was meant metaphorically; I’m not sure you start a literal war within a newsletter.

    However the broader idea, that we must prepare to resist the police isn’t all that fringe. If you look at, say, the UC Davis Pepper Spray incident, the whole reason so many people were taking the side of the protestors is because they were seen a rightfully resisting lawless police officers.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. @Stormy Dragon:

    “I’m not sure HOW you start”, even. (BTW, what happened to the edit button?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. de stijl says:

    tens of thousands of well-placed friends of Israel in all countries who are willing to wok

    Jews do love Chinese food ; – )

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. G.A.Phillips says:

    However, as sympathetic as I am to both Kain’s and Sullivan’s arguments, the more about Paul’s associates that I read (and I don’t know what else to call those who wrote for his newsletter—it was either him, or people he associated with), the more disturbing I find the situation and thus I find the idea of voting for Paul in the primaries to be less and less palatable.

    He also went on a crazed frothing rant the other night during the debate.

    Actually, zaniness doesn’t even scratch the surface.

    Hey….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. Mr. Prosser says:

    It seems to me that since Paul has no real interest in being president the whole program, including the newsletter, is marketing. The more outlandish the content the more sales, either because it reinforces fringe beliefs or because people want to read it for its outlandishness. Either way, the man is just another grifter making a buck.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  12. Matt says:

    The newsletter stuff is genuinely problematic and turns me off, the Alex Jones stuff doesn’t bother me. I like that Paul has continued to appear on his show, even after the Kirkchick’s of the world got all lightheaded. I love the “ongoing association” from Steven’s post and the “Paul has gone right on appearing regularly” from the article, as if Jones is some kind of pedophile Nazi (rather than someone who simply believes pedophile Nazis run the UN, ha).

    To sum up my feelings about Ron Paul, I’ll paraphrase Tom Woods (another unsavory Paul associate), I’m glad there’s someone out there going against the Hillary-Clinton-to-Mitt-Romney spectrum of Allowable Thought.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  13. @Matt: I consider Jones to be a kook (although he has every right to engage in all the kookiness he likes). My personal preference is for people who aspire to be president to not encourage kooks.

    Granted, actual mileage may vary in regards to assessing kookiness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  14. Nikki says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    many people were taking the side of the protestors is because they were seen a rightfully and peacefully resisting lawless police officers.

    FTFY

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Peacewood says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    My personal preference is for people who aspire to be President not to encourage kooks.

    Among the GOP candidates, who has repudiated the “Obama is a socialist” meme? Who has spoken out forcefully and consistently against birtherism? Who has denounced the borderline-racist portrayal of Obama as a “Kenyan anti-colonialist”?

    If the above is truly your preference, Steven, you have ruled out the entire GOP field.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  16. @Peacewood:

    If the above is truly your preference, Steven, you have ruled out the entire GOP field.

    I was unaware I had ruled any of them in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. Linton says:

    The Paul newsletter bothers me about as much as the Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers stuff with Obama, which is to say not much at all. Dig a little bit and you’ll find some pretty nutty associates of almost any politician. Think how bizarre some of the views of the speakers from Rick Perry’s prayer rally were.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  18. de stijl says:

    @Linton:

    The Paul newsletter bothers me about as much as the Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers stuff with Obama, which is to say not much at all. Dig a little bit and you’ll find some pretty nutty associates of almost any politician.

    Neither Jeremy Wright nor Bill Ayers spoke for Obama. Neither Jeremy Wright nor Bill Ayers spoke or wrote under the imprimatur of Obama.

    Wright was the preacher at the church Obama attended and Ayers was some dude that was on the same committees and boards that Obama served on.

    Listening to a sermon is not the same thing as giving a sermon. Serving on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago does not make Obama a Weatherman.

    Equating Paul’s relationship to the newsletters to Obama’s relationship to Wright and Ayers is not just disingenuous, but dishonest. They are not the same.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  19. Linton says:

    @ de stijl:

    I recognize the difference. But the only equating I did was to express the degree to which I was bothered by either.

    I’m not trying to dredge up the Wright/Ayers controversy, I voted for Obama in 2008 (a pretty easy choice that year). My point is that there are fringe people and ideas that pop up to varying degrees in the background of most politicians. Funny enough, Wright also espoused the same “AIDS was created in an American lab” theory that was also mentioned in a Paul newsletter.

    That Paul should have been more involved in the newsletters that carried his name is unquestionable, and that is definitely more potentially damning than who his preacher was. But I have seen nothing, so far, that proves he wrote the offending content. Until I see otherwise, and I’m definitely open to more digging on the matter, I accept Paul’s denials of authorship. His words as a candidate now and his record as a politician are more important to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  20. de stijl says:

    @Linton:

    But I have seen nothing, so far, that proves he wrote the offending content. Until I see otherwise, and I’m definitely open to more digging on the matter, I accept Paul’s denials of authorship.

    Why? It’s his newsletter. It’s his offensive content.

    This is not the type of crap you get to blame on some over-eager minion and make it go away.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  21. Linton says:

    @de stijl:

    I just found and looked at an image from one of the newsletters. The format is a little different than I expected. It is indeed written as if it is coming from his typewriter. I was under the impression from some of the articles I’d read that it was a newsletter with his name in the title and a bunch of articles without bylines.

    Like I said above, I’m open to more digging on the matter. Paul isn’t my candidate, although I’ve had respect for some of his debate stands, so I’m not terribly motivated to defend him beyond what I’ve already said. I still think it’s possible that it happened the way Paul claims. But congrats to you, because I’m way more skeptical about it now. Because of the format it is written in, this definitely calls for more investigation by some news sources with a little more power.

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