A place of indeterminate subject, goal, and merit.
My iOS6 update just finished five minutes ago. Gotta say, the truly
Apple has been under fire since last week’s launch of iOS 6 and its new, in-house Maps app — and now Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has published an open letter in which he admits that the new app “fell short” of the company’s high standards.
Number-crunchers over at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics realized today that between April 2011 and March 2012, there were 300,000 more jobs created than originally estimated. If this upward revision is correct, President Obama is now in the green for job growth, having overseen a net gain in roughly 100,000 since taking office. This has just been an astonishingly bad week for Mitt Romney. source
“I don’t think there’s anything behind it. He hasn’t produced any evidence. I’m telling you authoritatively, speaking on behalf of the governor, that those charges are untrue, they’re baseless, and there’s nothing to back them up. And again, this reminds me of the McCarthy hearings back in the 1950s.”
~ Romney campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstrom, likening Senator Harry Reid’s speculation about his candidate’s tax payments to the anti-communist House Committee on Un-American Activities, helmed by then Senator Joe McCarthy. Reid recently related, in an interview, an unverifiable account of a former Bain Capital investor telling him that Romney had paid an effective 0% tax rate for ten years, a charge which the campaign has decried, highlighting lack of evidence and the inability of anybody to confirm such a notiion. This is entirely true — Harry Reid could, if he desired, fabricate the whole conversation to slander Romney. The Romney campaign’s rebuke, though, is weakened by their holding the key to dismissing this rumor. Despite Fehrnstrom’s true statement that Romney has met all the legal requirements on tax disclosure, he’s maintained a tight grip on all but the last two years of his returns, contrary to the level of insight voters typically have into a candidate’s tax history. Reid knows this, and therefore has backed Romney into a corner — unless he’s willing to release possibly damaging details about his tax history, he can’t disprove such rampant speculations, either.
Hello, tumblrers. After a long hiatus (fueled by my employment with The Daily, which ended on Tuesday), I’m finally going to start running this place again. I’m not entirely certain what will begin to grace the space, though if my past inclinations hold true it’ll be a mixture of politics, current events, culture, and whatever fantastical whimsy crosses my sweaty little brain. I’ll also continue (as I did throughout my tenure at The Daily) as a staff writer for Short Form Blog, so be sure to look alive! If what you crave is the meandering observations of a shiftless secularist, which, let’s face it, I’m sure you all do.
Lindemonium: The Knicks’ newly-discovered phenom Jeremy Lin scored more points than Kobe tonight in his national television debut against the Lakers, a 92-85 win. 38 points, kids. This kid’s a monster.
The Warriors had this guy and they cut him to make room for DeAndre Jordan, who they then failed to assign because the Clippers matched the offer sheet. It never ends for Golden State.
The last few weeks have seen a tide of support for Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul (he of, in my estimation, the most dedicated supporters in America) rushing through the state of Iowa, where caucusing is to take place on Tuesday. As is the typical (and, I would argue, not unfair) practice in the political media, with loftier polling numbers and expectation comes heightened scrutiny, however. And in the case of Paul, the most damning of all scrutinies is not especially new — that’s right, I’m talking about the newsletters.
The reaction to the newsletter story on the part of Ron Paul’s online contingent has mostly been, I think it’s fair to say, one part dismissive and two parts outrage. The latter doesn’t necessarily betray the former; one of the staples of the Ron Paul experience, as a supporter, is decrying a perceived media bias and consequent slights against his candidacy. I would grant that this is true, but not for the occasionally hysterical reasons that are trumpeted. I don’t think, for example (as many Paul backers on Twitter have blared) that the media overlooks him because he’s a “threat” to them. Perhaps the implication is that the media fears a shakeup of the status quo, or that somehow Paul’s example and influence would cause a sea change in the nature of the political-media complex. In either case, I think this relies on a faulty impression of the mainstream media, especially popular among supporters of political underdogs. A Ron Paul nomination, in reality, would not be bad for the media. Frankly, I bet most outlets would see it as a boon, given the blinding contrast between Paul and President Obama (i.e. conflict), and the volatile (i.e. interesting) landscape such an event would create. The reason he’s previously been overlooked is, at the risk of sounding simple, that no serious political observers think he has any chance of securing the nomination.
This is not a fair way to cover such races, since it can cause a self-fulfilling prophecy — he/she of little media coverage has a much harder time gaining traction, and the inverse is also true. But there is a die-hard contingent of Paul’s base who seem determined to take this as validation in and of itself, as a rallying cry that he’s simply too independent, and too free, and myriad ‘forces’ are thus aligning themselves to defeat him. The consequence of this thinking is that, in analysis of the patently racist, conspiratorial, and nativist newsletters published under Paul’s name in the 80’s and 90’s, it’s the knee-jerk defense rather than intellectual honesty that’s been ingrained.
I’ll start by dispatching with a few of the most common rebuttals I’ve seen offered by Paul supporters (who, I will stress, are obviously not homogeneous — I’m sure there are droves who reason with this honestly, though I had trouble finding many in the run-up to this writing). For starters, the age of these newsletters comes into discussion quite a lot. This seems to me like the easiest argument to dispel. Unless the implication of “hey, this is stuff from twenty years ago” is to argue that Paul once held those views but has shed them over course of time, it’s simply a non-sequitur. The age of a racist screed has no bearing on its racism, or questions about who the author was, or whether somebody had prior knowledge of the document in question. This is just white noise to blur the facts in play, and time shouldn’t be wasted on it.
There’s also a claim (one that Paul himself has emphasized when challenged on this) that questions regarding these newsletters have been ‘asked and answered.’ But if this is true in any sense, it’s only because the questions have not been sufficiently pointed or probing. The hard truth is, Paul’s excuses now in 2011 simply do not square with what he’s said in the past. In fact, his prior statements are such that I think it fairly obvious he’s been lying. For example, from last month:
“I didn’t write ‘em, I disavow ‘em, that’s it. …I never read that stuff. I was probably aware of it ten years after it was written. And it’s been going on for twenty years that people have pestered me about this.”
First of all, for Paul to claim he was only aware of this ten years after the writing (acknowledging his prefacing it with “probably”) is wildly inaccurate. We know this because his newsletter contained racist sentiments (in addition to the other groups he smears, homosexuals and AIDS patients among them) well into the 1990s — and Paul himself acknowledged he knew of such an article from 1992, during an interview with the Dallas Morning News in 1996. The offending passage (which is a great deal tamer than many of the others):
“If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet of foot they can be.”
Paul’s response, which is in no way surprised, outraged or bewildered when (by his claim) he suddenly learns of racist content in his newsletters:
“If you try to catch someone that has stolen a purse from you, there is no chance to catch them.”
That’s a full-throated endorsement of a racist passage, in a newsletter written in Ron Paul’s name (and in his voice, at times referencing his family, and his town of Lake Jackson, Texas), which by the timeline he now attempts to pass off would have been one of the first times he was made aware such a thing was written. Is this even remotely believable? Is it believable that a non-racist, when possessing knowledge of such virulent nonsense, would not immediately issue a mea culpa, denounce it, and try to mend fences going forward? If Paul supporters want to exalt their man as a free thinker, an independent and a truth-teller, that he’s evidently shifted and lied about this issue over the years should give them pause. And if they indeed hold to the values of free thought and following evidence where it takes you, they should be rigorously demanding answers from Ron Paul, not accepting the repetition of evident falsehoods.
Furthermore, he also claims he doesn’t even know who wrote them. This, considering his illustrated willingness to distort and shift his story, is instructive. Unless you take him at his word (which would still indict him of something pretty dire — employing a ghostwriter without informing your readers, and not even knowing who it is, is truly shoddy work and intensely unethical), we’re left to ponder two possibilities. First, he wrote those newsletter himself, and as such there is no other, real author to name. Or, they were indeed written by somebody else, and by divulging the name Paul would allow journalists to root through that person’s catalogue of writing, and their political affiliations, which could damage Paul by association. Why, they might ask, did he hire this person in the first place?
Whether or not Paul wrote the words himself, though, is ultimately irrelevant. It might produce a sort of grim yet enthralling effect to know that, yes, the man you see standing on the debate stage talking about free markets and liberty actually sat down and wrote that 95% of D.C.’s black males were “semi-criminal or entirely criminal,” but the tacit approval is no less damning. In being sure he knew about them, (which as illustrated above, and in the regular meandering excuses he’s made, seems obvious), you really know all you need to.
One insistence from the Ron Paul crowd that I think does bear some weight, and should be mentioned, is that some of the policies he’s been espousing on the campaign trail could cause very positive change in the lives of minority groups. His vigorous denouncement of the war on drugs, for example, and the brutal racial inequalities and prejudices with which it’s been waged, certainly doesn’t sound like the platform of a secret racist. I would not deny this.
However, this point merely leads the informed voter to an honest, yet uncomfortable question: if I elect somebody who may be a racist in their heart, yet by virtue of their strong political ideology won’t govern as a racist, am I okay with that? I wouldn’t necessarily condemn somebody for answering yes; there are honest and reasonable arguments going both directions, and if some amount of grappling has been done I think I could respect however the decision came out. But to fail to even consider the question staring right in your face is to not reason honestly about a question that thoroughly deserves it.
A lot of cake. A lot of reasons to celebrate. A lot of big news. In celebration of our birthday tomorrow — we started on January 1, 2009 — we thought we’d share a few anecdotes from the past year. The past twelve months of this silly experiment of telling people the news with big numbers and short blurbs has been a pretty exciting one, and we certainly gained a ton from this year. (In fact, we just hit our 20,000th follower this evening. Whoo!) There were many highlights and lowlights, and we wanted to reflect on a few of those. Hop over to the jump to see them in Summary Sandwich form.
It was early in 2011 that I joined up as a writer with ShortFormBlog, and it’s easily been the most productive and educational year of my life for just that reason. A tremendous thanks to Ernie Smith for bringing me on board, and for being a really superlative editor, Seth Millstein (for pitching me in the first place, to say nothing of general friendship), Sami Main, Justin Jones, and the inimitable Matthew Keys. Working with all of you to varying degrees this last year has been a real delight. Happy birthday to us!