August 28, 2011

Yellow Journalism At Its Worst

I recently read an article on Alternet by Adele M. Stan entitled 5 Reasons Progressives Should Treat Ron Paul with Extreme Caution -- 'Cuddly' Libertarian Has Some Very Dark Politics, the byline of which reads "He's anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-black, anti-senior-citizen, anti-equality and anti-education, and that's just the start." I read it with an open mind wondering if perhaps I should rethink my support of Dr. Paul for president, but it turns out the article is one of the worst pieces of poorly-researched yellow journalism I've seen this side of Fox News. It is clear that Addie Stan failed to do even the most basic fact-checking before rolling out a bloated party-line attack ad. The half-truths, confabulations, and outright lies contained within it irritated me enough that I posted the following response:

THINGS THIS ARTICLE MISREPRESENTS:

Ron Paul is NOT anti-woman. Dr. Paul is a licensed physician who practiced obstetrics and gynecology prior to entering politics, assisting in the delivery of more than 4,000 babies over the course of his medical practice. He does personally hold socially conservative Christian values and believes that life begins at conception, but unlike many others in the Republican party he believes the federal government has no right to impose his socially conservative values on the entire nation. Dr. Paul consistently opposes a federal ban on abortion and believes quite reasonably that the question should be left up to the states (video here and here). Dr. Paul voted against the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, a bill designed to criminalize the transportation of pregnant minors across state lines with the intention of the minor obtaining an abortion. Dr. Paul voted against the misleadingly titled Population Planning Bill, a bill designed to forbid dispersal of aid funds to international women's health groups that also perform abortions even though they are already prohibited from using those funds to cover abortion services. Dr. Paul also voted against the equally misleadingly titled Child Custody Protection Act, another bill intended to prohibit the transportation of a minor across state lines to avoid parental notification laws and obtain access to abortion services. Those are pretty progressive politics for a socially conservative pro-life Christian.

Ron Paul is NOT anti-gay. MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell proclaimed, "[w]ithout Ron Paul in this race, we would never hear one sensible thing said about marriage equality on the presidential debate stage... and no American politician is in a position to change more minds about marriage equality than Ron Paul. He is not speaking to the converted; he is speaking to conservative Republicans, he is speaking to evangelical Christians, he is going into the halls of the staunchest opponents of marriage equality in this country and he is telling them a truth so clear and so powerful that he is surely changing minds." Dr. Paul opposes a federal ban on gay marriage, and believes "[a]ll voluntary associations, whether they're economic or social, should be protected by the law." In fact he doesn't just believe it, he expressed it on Fox News at a Republican presidential debate broadcast when he would have had much to gain politically from pandering to evangelical homophobia. Dr. Paul voted against the Same-Sex Marriage Resolution, a 2006 joint resolution proposing a constitutional amendment providing that marriage in the U.S. consists only of the union of a man and a woman and that federal and state constitutions can not be construed to require marriage or legal incidents of marriage be conferred in other unions. Dr. Paul voted to repeal the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. When interviewed by arch-conservative John Lofton on his evangelical right-wing radio program The American View, Ron Paul eloquently defended a position of tolerance for people of all sexual orientations in a situation when it would have been politically beneficial for him to confirm the bigoted views of the listening audience. LOFTON: "Let's shift gears here to another topic: Homosexuality. Do you believe it's a sin?" PAUL: "I'm not as judgmental about that, probably because of my medical background." LOFTON: "Do you believe that God says it's a sin?" PAUL: "Well, I believe a lot of people understand it that way, but I think everybody's God's child too, so I have trouble with that." Repent America, an evangelistic organization in the extreme theocratic right wing that is "focused on the public proclamation of the Gospel to further the Kingdom of God") have even used this interview in attack ads against him because he does not believe homosexuality is a sin.

Ron Paul is NOT anti-black. Nelson Linder, President of the Austin chapter of the NAACP, a member of Dr. Paul's constituency who has known Dr. Paul for 20 years, unequivocally dismissed charges that the Congressman was a racist and stated that the reason he was being attacked as a racist in the press was that he was a threat to the establishment (audio). Ron Paul is the only candidate from the two major parties who has consistently opposed the "War on Drugs," which the NAACP has rightfully denounced as the last bastion of institutionalized racism in America. Dr. Paul is the only candidate from a major party who has vowed to issue a Presidential pardon to all nonviolent drug offenders (1:38 into this video), the disproportionate majority of whom are disadvantaged minorities unfairly targeted by law enforcement for the color of their skin (A black man's view on Ron Paul being racist: Part 1, Part 2).

Ron Paul is NOT anti-senior citizen. Dr. Paul voted for the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act, a bill designed to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower drug prices for drugs for people enrolled in Medicare part D. Dr. Paul voted for the Social Security Benefits Tax Relief bill, a bill that lowers the percentage of Social Security benefits subject to taxation. Dr. Paul voted for the Social Security Lock Box bill, a bill that implements procedural safeguards that make it more difficult to allocate Social Security surpluses for other programs. Dr. Paul voted for the Social Security Account Protection bill, a bill that provides 90% of any federal surplus for Social Security. Dr. Paul IS for a strict interpretation of the constitutional limitations on the power of the federal government, including the power of the federal government to raise revenue and regulate interstate commerce. Dr. Paul is also one of two members of Congress who refuses to accept a Congressional pension.

Ron Paul is NOT anti-equality, and to even begin to claim it without a shred of evidence is patently absurd on the part of the author. Even a cursory glance at his voting record over his twelve terms in Congress clearly demonstrates that his highest priority as a legislator is limiting the power of the government to violate the civil rights and liberties of all Americans. For specific refutations, just read the preceding paragraphs refuting the spurious claims of misogyny, racism, and homophobia.

Ron Paul is NOT anti-education. Dr. Paul voted for the College Student Relief Act of 2007, a bill that lowers interest rates on student loans. He voted for the Academic Achievement for All Act, a bill allowing states to receive K-12 federal education funds in the form of block grants. He voted for the Education Flexibility Partnership Act of 1999, a bill allowing all states to apply for waivers from federal education regulations previously required in order to obtain funding for disadvantaged students, technology assistance, teacher training, and vocational education. He voted for the HELP Scholarships bill, a bill that would allow states to provide scholarships for children of low-income families to attend private schools of their choosing. These are not the actions of a legislator with an anti-education agenda.

Ron Paul is NOT in league with Christian Reconstructionist theocrats who would make laws respecting an establishment a religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Dr. Paul voted against the National Day of Prayer Resolution, a concurrent resolution to "recommend that United States' leaders call for national days of prayer and urge all Americans to seek God through humble prayer and fasting."

THINGS THIS ARTICLE REPORTS ACCURATELY:

Ron Paul IS anti-war. He has consistently opposed interventionist foreign policy and American imperialism since the very beginning of his political career, as can immediately be confirmed by looking at his voting record. Then listen to what he himself has to say on the topic.

Ron Paul DID oppose the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for exactly the reason quoted in the article: "The Civil Rights Act of 1964 not only violated the Constitution and reduced individual liberty; it also failed to achieve its stated goals of promoting racial harmony and a color-blind society." Dr. Paul DOES NOT oppose civil rights and fully supported the Act's repeal of Jim Crow laws, but he was deeply disturbed by the expansion of the power of the federal government over the behavior of private individuals.

Ron Paul DID co-sponsor a bill to overturn Roe v. Wade, for the same reason he voted against a Constitutional ban on abortion: he believes it to be out of the jurisdiction of the federal government.

A number of UNATTRIBUTED newsletters with Ron Paul's name in the title did come out in the early 1990's containing baldly racist and homophobic material. His response to that material is telling : "The quotations in The New Republic article are not mine and do not represent what I believe or have ever believed. I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts." This can easily be confirmed by looking into publications and recordings directly from Ron Paul himself from both before and after the newsletters in question, including the following three-part recording of an educational program about juror's rights from 1989, in which Dr. Paul expresses his reading of and admiration for staunch abolitionist Lysander Spooner while simultaneously defending the principle of jury nullification of unjust legislation: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Ron Paul DOES support an end to the federal government levying taxes to provide social assistance programs, based on a strict interpretation of the role of federal government, because of his fundamental agreement with Thomas Jefferson "[t]hat to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical." (A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, Chapter 82 (1779). Published in The Works of Thomas Jefferson in Twelve Volumes, Federal Edition, Paul Leicester Ford, ed., New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1904, Vol. 1, pp. 438–441.)

Ron Paul DID deliver the keynote address at the 50th anniversary of the John Birch Society. Dr. Paul used this opportunity to speak out against imperialist American foreign policy, the war on our own people called "The War on Drugs," the overarching reach of the federal government into our personal life, and the devaluation of American currency. Incidentally, Ron Paul is not nor ever has been a member of the John Birch society.

THINGS THIS ARTICLE FAILS TO MENTION:

Ron Paul voted against the USA Patriot Act, and against every single one of the Patriot Act extension or reauthorization bills. Dr. Paul also voted for a movement to amend the Patriot Act to eliminate provisions that violate the civil liberties of American citizens.

Ron Paul repeatedly speaks out against the use of torture and government assassination of enemies of the state (more documentary evidence: 1, 2, 3). Dr. Paul voted to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. He also voted for the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, a bill which was designed to increase the oversight and accountability of the intelligence community and mandate that no person in the custody of an element of the intelligence community shall be "subject to any treatment or technique of interrogation not authorized by the United States Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations." Though I have no documentary evidence to support my theory, I believe his opposition to torture may be predicated by his experience as a flight surgeon in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.

Dr. Paul voted against the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which specifies that enemy combatants are not able to invoke rights under the Geneva Convention and prohibits courts, justices, or judges from hearing or considering writs of habeas corpus or any other action filed by or on the behalf of detained enemy combatants.

Ron Paul voted for the Reporter's Source Confidentiality Guidelines, a bill that prohibits the federal government or a communications service provider from requiring a reporter to disclose writings, recordings, photographs, or the identity of a source without due process of law.

Dr. Paul voted against the Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act, a bill that expanded the definition of "agent of a foreign power" to include a person who is "reasonably expected to possess, control, transmit, or receive foreign intelligence while such person is in the U.S.," allowed the President to authorize surveillance without a court order, allowed the Attorney General to authorize emergency electronic surveillance prior to obtaining a court order, and prohibited a court from imposing a penalty on any person for an activity relating to an element of the intelligence community between the period of September 11th, 2001 and 60 days after the enactment of this act, whether or not such an act was found to be criminal.

Ron Paul voted for the Patients' Bill of Rights, a bill which authorizes cooperative partnerships between employers and insurers, creates tax-free medical savings accounts, and expands the size of health insurance pools in order to provide alternative means of giving healthcare coverage to uninsured employees.

Ron Paul voted for the Backup Paper Ballots bill, a bill that provides grants to state and local governments for making backup paper ballots available in the November 2008 election to prevent irregularities in balloting due to errors or tampering with electronic voting machines.

Ron Paul voted for the Prohibiting Funds From Being Used in Contradiction to the War Powers Resolution bill, an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act that prohibits any funds made available by that act from being used in violation of the War Powers Resolution.

Ron Paul voted against the Ending Moratorium on Deepwater Drilling Rigs that Meet Certain Safety Standards resolution, an amendment that exempts applicants from the moratorium against deepwater drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf if they meet specific requirements.

Ron Paul voted against the Human Cloning Prohibition Act of 2001, a bill that would prohibit all forms of human cloning regardless of purpose, even for important medical advancements.

Ron Paul opposes federal regulation preventing Americans from purchasing raw, unprocessed, and organic foods. Dr. Paul introduced the Raw Milk Freedom Bill, HR 1830, to protect the freedoms of small producers and their customers against abuses by the FDA.

CONCLUSION:

The article would more accurately be titled "Reasons Progressives Should Treat Adele M. Stan with Extreme Caution." The author clearly has not engaged in sufficient fact-finding prior to publication; Ms. Stan makes spurious claims and engages in ungrounded ad hominem attacks against Dr. Paul based on rumors and innuendo which evaporate when subjected to proper scrutiny. It's certainly good advice that all concerned citizens should always exhibit extreme caution when selecting elected representatives, including Ron Paul. The best place to begin is to look at his voting record, and then perhaps you should listen to what the man actually has to say from his own mouth, rather than what third parties say he has to say. There is not a single member of either Chamber of Congress who has been a more resolute defender of civil liberties and the rule of law than Dr. Ron Paul. His record speaks for itself.