Patterico's Pontifications

1/11/2008

Matt Welch vs. Radley Balko vs. Ace on the Ron Paul Newsletters

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:52 pm

I haven’t written anything yet about reason magazine’s reaction to the Ron Paul newsletter scandal, but with Matt Welch coming online today with his piece, I thought I’d add my two cents.

Readers here will not be surprised that I find Matt’s take on it to be much more rational, insightful, and appropriately skeptical than Radley Balko’s reaction, which was pretty much taken apart by Ace of Spades here.

Radley’s piece is not altogether nonsensical. Much of his piece rejects the bile in Paul’s newsletters and criticizes Paul for not taking a strong enough stance rejecting them. That’s fine, as far as it goes.

The parts of Balko’s piece that irritate me are the parts where he is credulously willing to impute good motivations to Paul right now, based on the fact that Radley likes Paul’s policies. No kidding. For example:

First, a few caveats. I think Paul’s prone to nutty conspiracy theories, but I don’t think he’s a racist, at least not today. Perhaps there was a time when he held views that I and many people reading this site would find repugnant. But I certainly don’t think that’s the case now. Paul’s temperament and demeanor in public does not suggest he’s the kind of person capable of writing the bile Kirchick quotes in his article. Paul’s position on the drug war alone—which he has acknowledged disproportionately affects minorities—would do more for blacks in America than any proposal any of the other candidates currently has on the table. Paul has also recently rescinded his support for the federal death penalty, also due to its disproportionate impact on blacks. Those two positions alone certainly don’t indicate a candidate who fears “animal” blacks from the urban jungle are coming to kill all the white people.

Look, just because Radley Balko thinks that the repeal of drug laws would help blacks doesn’t make it a) true or b) what Ron Paul thinks in his heart of hearts. I have seen plenty of violence committed against minorities by people on drugs — and I haven’t seen anyone make a convincing case yet that repealing drug laws would decrease usage. I believe the contrary to be true, and most opponents of the drug law acknowledge that increased usage is likely to be a side effect of decriminalization, at least at first. So, repealing drug laws would spring some minority drug dealers from prison — don’t worry, Radley, here in California, Arnold is going to spring them early anyway — but would probably end up getting more innocent minorities killed. Radley might be comfortable with that trade-off, but I’m not. (I’m not sure he recognizes that there would be a trade-off, frankly.)

But put all that aside. My question for Radley is simple: were you shocked by the content of these newsletters? Because you seem to be — and there are a lot of us who just weren’t. The fact that you seem a little taken aback suggests to me that your love of Paul’s policies blinded you to the reality of Paul’s unsavory associations and what it said about him.

For a good explanation of the difference between Balko and Ace, check out this exchange. Balko says:

Any time you’re a fringe candidate cobbling together support from those who feel disaffected and left behind by the two-party system, you’re going to end up bumping elbows with a few weirdos.

And Ace responds:

True enough, but when you’re cobbling such support from Stormfront, Alex Jones’ Prison Planet lunatics, Truthers, etc., perhaps you ought to step back and ask if this is the sort of coalition you’re comfortable associating yourselves with. I haven’t seen such a motley collection of mutants and malcontents since the Cantina sequence in Star Wars.

For a much more skeptical take, see Matt Welch’s piece today. Matt sets emotion aside and goes straight for the facts, as revealed by Nexis:

Has Paul really disassociated himself from, and “taken moral responsibility” for, these “Ron Paul” newsletters “for over a decade”? If he has, that history has not been recorded by the Nexis database, as best as I can reckon.

Matt gathers together a lot of damning quotes that collectively show that Ron Paul knew about the problem over the years and refused to disassociate himself from it.

My message to libertarians is simple: now you know about the problem with Ron Paul. If you similarly refuse to disassociate yourselves from the problem, despite this knowledge, I will feel no pity for you if your movement gets tarred by the stain of this event.

Even if you think that decriminalizing drug laws would be the greatest thing for black people since the end of slavery (a proposition I find highly dubious), you should follow Matt’s lead and not Radley’s. Don’t defend this guy. Not now.

UPDATE: Christoph points to a newer Balko post that is more critical of Paul.

Thermostat Outrage Over . . . For Now?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:23 pm

Bradley J. Fikes reports:

The California Energy Commission will remove a proposed mandatory control feature from thermostats required in new homes, Claudia Chandler, the commission’s assistant executive director, said Friday.

The control feature, specified in an upcoming revision to building codes, would have required so-called Programmable Communicating Thermostats to be installed with the air conditioning systems of new homes. These thermostats would have deferred in emergencies to a radio signal broadcast by utilities, removing control from customers.

After public protests, Chandler said, the commission decided to remove the mandatory provision from the proposal for the “Title 24″ energy efficiency standards. Staff will make the recommendation at the energy commission’s Jan. 30 meeting, and the new proposal would be taken up at a later meeting.

High fives all around.

The way this is written, though, it doesn’t sound like the proposal is being killed — just delayed . . . unless I’m misreading Bradley’s article. Maybe he can fill us in.

O. J. Simpson’s Bail Revoked (Updated)

Filed under: Crime,Current Events — DRJ @ 11:59 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

Adam Housley of Fox News reports that O. J. Simpson’s bail has been revoked and Simpson has been taken into custody in Miami by a bail bondsman. Here’s the full report:

“▪ OJ Simpson’s bail is revoked

▪ He will be back to jail from Florida

▪ He’s flying back today from Miami to Las Vegas and arriving early evening

▪ He’s been taken into custody by Miguel Pereira, bail bondsman of You Ring We Spring Bail Bonds

I got the tip late yesterday and have been holding it, making sure the bail bondsman made it to Miami and that he would actually be taken-in without an incident.”

UPDATE – From an AP report:

“O.J. Simpson is in custody in Florida on allegations that he violated terms of his release on bail by calling one of his co-defendants in a Las Vegas armed robbery case, a court official said Friday.

Prosecutors allege that Simpson, identifying himself as “Miguel,” telephoned Clarence “C.J.” Stewart on Nov. 16 and expressed frustration with Stewart’s testimony at a preliminary hearing, court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer said.”

— DRJ

About That Story

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:58 am

I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment on the case that has landed the L.A. County D.A.’s office in the paper for the past few days. Nor do I have any intention of hosting a discussion about it. But I think it’s appropriate to say this: Samer Hathout, the D.A. whose name keeps popping up in all the stories, is a dedicated and smart D.A. I have worked with her and I respect her. So does everyone else I know.

I think she deserves to have someone say it publicly.

Guilty Pleasure Link of the Day

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:41 am

You know the old saying: if you don’t have anything nice to say, start a website.

John Ziegler, outgoing KFI talk show host, followed this advice. He doesn’t have anything nice to say about KFI’s John and Ken — and he says it here. (Via Roderick.)

There’s nothing particularly edifying about watching one guy viciously snipe at some other guys.

But it is pretty entertaining.

L.A. Times: 60 Million People Live on Less than $2,555 a Year?

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:03 am

The L.A. Times editorialized in December:

If tranquillity is best assured by “a more equal distribution” of the nation’s wealth, we have much to fear. Our schools are faltering; our healthcare system leaves millions without access to doctors. Many are homeless or face the loss of homes. Some seethe at illegal immigrants who compete with Americans for jobs. In our America, 60 million people survive on $7 a day.

Annie Jacobsen was skeptical of that number, and wrote a fascinating piece about where this statistic came from. She notes that, if you accept this number, it means that fully 60 million live on less than $2,555 a year — even though the U.S. Census Bureau says only 37 million people live in poverty.

So, 23 million live on less than $2,555 a year . . . but aren’t in poverty?

If you think about it for just a second, it makes no sense. Nevertheless, Annie decided to hunt down the origin of the statistic.

The immediate source was a writer who calls himself “very liberal” and describes himself in this way:

“William Brandon Shanley, iconoclast, dreamer of dreams, hatcher of schemes, shatterer of graven images and neocon socio-war-mongering-psychopaths!”

Of course, that doesn’t make him wrong, so Annie kept digging. What was his source?

Annie Googled the phrase and also found it on the World Socialist Web Site. Ultimately, it traced back to the New York Times, which had given the number based on IRS data, which is based on reported income — which does not include, say, welfare or food stamps.

Ultimately, Annie clearly demonstrates that the figure is bogus — just by exercising a little skepticism, and showing a willingness to check things out that don’t ring true.

Isn’t that what Big Media is supposed to be doing?


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