Monday, November 12, 2007

Neiwert Attacks Ron Paul's Record

Dave Neiwert currently has a post up attacking Ron Paul's record and pointing out areas of concern for Progressives on issues other than the war. Now, I have found some of Neiwert's previous attempts to attack Paul to have been far off base, as I argued in the comments to this post by my friends at Comments from Left Field.

Moreover, much of Neiwert's current post on Paul's record is filled with the usual Progressive misunderstanding of small "l" libertarian positions on things ranging from abortion (where there is substantial disagreement amongst many libertarians) to employment discrimination to the electoral college. However, Neiwert's post contains several items that should be of concern to small "l" libertarians when it comes to Paul's record. The more I learn about things like this, the more lukewarm my support of Paul becomes. Frankly, I'm surprised at the extent to which typically reasonable people like Andrew Sullivan have ducked their heads in the sand when it comes to these types of issues.

Anyhow, the more troubling (for libertarians) findings of Neiwert's post:
1. Support of Flag-Burning Amendment to the Constitution
2. Support of a bill to make all Iranian students in the US ineligible for any form of federal aid. While libertarians should be opposed to most forms of federal aid, a libertarian position does not give the government license to discriminate in its provision of the federal aid.
3. Support for Constitutional amendments that would deny citizenship to people born in the US unless their parents were citizens or lawful permanent residents.

As I said above, Neiwert's objections are primarily from a Progressive point of view, and in most cases show a tremendous lack of understanding of the basis for Paul's more libertarian points of view. Still, the above items are cause for concern amongst true libertarians and classical liberals.

Also, something especially worth pointing out again: Neiwert has repeatedly insinuated that the gold standard position is inherently rooted in anti-Semitism, ignoring the fact that there are a number of different types of "goldbugs," only one of which has the roots he associates with the gold standard. Now I myself am not a devotee of the gold standard. However, Neiwert fails to realize that the abandonment of the gold standard is a relatively recent event in history, that the most prominent line of support for the gold standard runs through an ethnic Russian Jew (Ayn Rand) and a refugee of Nazism (Ludwig von Mises). It also ignores the fact that the original President of the NAACP, Moorfield Storey (who later successfully argued the landmark case Buchanan v. Warley), was a critical advocate of the gold standard. Given that Paul named his son after Rand and famously has a portrait of Mises in his Congressional office, I would suggest that it is this strain that most influences his thought on the gold standard.

Also worth pointing out: the most famous early advocate of overthrowing the gold standard in the US was the legendary white supremacist (and creationist) William Jennings Bryan.