Saturday, January 19, 2008

McCain is Psycho!

I'm probably going to catch hell for saying this, but I don't think McCain's position on torture has anything to do with morality.

He signed a confession of war crimes, for Christ's sake. How could he stand up now and say that torture yields accurate intel?

Notice that on all the other issues, he's twice the son of perdition. A quarter million troops in Iraq? Make it half a million, ha ha! Stay there fifty years? Make it a hundred, ha ha ha! And what about the Iran NIE? Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha HA HA HA HA HA HA!

You would never guess from his cheerfulness that he's talking about events that will result in the loss of lives of thousands of innocent people. His psychosis goes well beyond insenstivity and far, far into sadism.

He reminds me of the Joker: twisted smile, sick sense of humor, superficial cheeriness broken by eruptions of rage whenever he perceives a slight -- which is all the time.

How dare I make such a comparison with a man who has suffered so much? Well, you'll remember that falling into a vat of acid didn't make the Joker a better person . . . .

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Newslettergate: Did Dondero Do It?

Ron Paul's campaign is being pressured to release the name of the subordinate who altered his newsletter to include racist comments. I have a suspicion that it is the very person who is the most active in pointing the finger at Paul, and who has positioned himself to gain the most from doing so.

The suspect's name is Eric Dondero. A former member of Congressman Paul's staff, Dondero split with Paul in 2004 in a disagreement over post-9-11 foreign policy. Dondero claims he resigned, but Paul says, "Eric Dondero was a disgruntled employee who was fired."

Since his 'resignation,' Dondero has become chair of a group called Libertarian Republicans. From that perch, he seems to be the major voice in promoting the 'newsletter scandal,' which has been haunting the blogosphere for months now and finally reached the status of print media, in the infamous New Republic article by James Kirchik, 'Angry White Man,' which was published on the day of the New Hampshire presidential primary, so as to maximize damage to the Paul campaign (can you say, 'hit piece?').

Dondero may well be the source for much of Kirchik's article, for he knew Paul during the period in which the newsletters were written. As he writes at

I started on his [Ron Paul's] staff in 1987 during his Libertarian Party Presidential campaign. I served throughout 87 and 88 as his Personal Travel Aide. Ron and I campaigned in over 40 states, including Alaska.

In 1992, I organized Ron's Presidential Exploratory Committee . . . .

In 1997, Ron hired me as his Senior Aide and District Representative . . . I served in that capacity til February of 2004.
The chronology has a gap in 1990, when Dondero graduated from Florida State University and might have sought out his old boss, then in private medical practice. Whatever, at some point he regularly saw the fax headers to the final drafts of the newsletter, as he reveals in a comment posted on the Reason Magazine web site:

The ghost writer was 80% Lew Rockwell.

There were a few others like Gary North from time to time. And even some super RP insiders like Nadia Hayes, Jean McCiver and Marc Elam contributed, and also did some heavy editing out of the Nasa Blvd. 1 office in South Houston and Elam's office on Fuqua.

But I'd say 80% Rockwell.

When I say Rockwell, that also included his interns and helpers like Jeff Tucker, Mark Thornton, and such.

But I remember the faxes of the Newsletter drafts always came from Lew.
When I first read this, I thought: Lew Rockwell? The man who runs, the most popular libertarian site on the internet? Say it ain't true, Lew!

Then that last line echoed in my mind:

"But I remember the faxes of the Newsletter drafts . . . . "

At the time, Dondero had only been Paul's travel aide. Doubtless he had travel-related faxes, but why keep a precise mental tabulation of who was faxing newsletter drafts?

Wasn't that kind of Not-In-His-Job-Description?

Suppose I work in your office, or at least visit a lot in hope of being rehired. Suppose you are faxed drafts of your newsletter, which you mark with editorial changes and leave in the outgoing tray. Suppose I know how to imitate your handwriting. Suppose I am disgruntled . . . .

Dondero's disgruntlement seems to have affected his memory. Take how he has conveniently 'remembered' Paul's bigotry. Early last year, Dondero wrote: "I've been asked by others if my former boss is an Anti-Semite. My answer is an emphatic NO. I am half Jewish. I am familiar with Anti-Semites. Ron is not one of them." But in reaction to the Paul-as-Bigot attack of 'Angry White Man,' he now declares: "Good article. Quite accurate and consistent with what I personally observed in my 12 years working for Ron Paul."

If Dondero 'observed' so much bigotry, why did he stay loyal for so long? It's not as if Dondero was shy with Paul. Here he lays it on thick about how he was once Paul's Best Friend Forever:

I can honestly say that the Congressman was more than just my boss, he was also my friend. We had a good understanding, after years of working together, and were very good Travel mates. Him and I would literally spend hours in the car traveling from one event to another, during campaigning and for District events. We would debate everything under the sun, in a friendly and fun sort of way. Our differences were always over abortion - I am Pro-Choice, he is firmly Pro-Life, and over foreign policy - I am Pro-Defense, he has always been more Non-interventionist. But we always maintained our friendship.
If Paul was a bigot as Dondero alleges, and if their differences were 'always' over abortion and foreign policy, doesn't that mean that Dondero agreed with Paul's bigotry? Or maybe, it means that Paul was never a bigot, and Dondero is making it up as he goes along -- just as did the Mystery Newsletter Writer.

As to why Dondero would alter the newsletters, I think he did it out of frustrated ambition. In illustration of just how consuming his ambition is, Dondero's website mentions that he is now a candidate for Paul's seat in Congress (with friends like these . . . .). Could it be that Dondero was overly ambitious all along, and in the early 90s felt things weren't moving fast enough for him -- and so occassionally snuck in a few newsletter remarks without approval, in a surreptitious effort either to promote his own writing skills or just as a sick prank?

While we contemplate that, wouldn't it be interesting to know how the racist comments in the newsletter match Dondero's own views on race?

Perhaps we can't answer that directly, but we do know that ever since 9-11 Changed Everything, Dondero has become a rabid (there really is no other word) supporter for Rudy Giuliani. And Giuliani seems to attract the Type:

John Deady, co-chair of New Hampshire Veterans for Giuliani, who said: "Muslims need to be chased back to their caves." (December 2007)

Peter King (US Congress, R-NY), member of Rudy Giuliani's Homeland Security Advisory Board, who said: “Unfortunately, we have too many mosques in this country." (September 2007)

Bernard Kerik, Giuliani's former Correction Department Commissioner and nominee for Director of US Department of Homeland Security, who was charged with racial discrimination for passing over for promotion an African American subordinate six times. The case was settled out of court by the city of New York for $125,000. (2007)

Richard Stanek, chairman of Minnesota Law Enforcement for Rudy, who was forced to resign as Minnesota public safety commissioner and director of homeland security when it was discovered that he had a long history of using the 'N-word.' (2004)

Arthur Ravenel, Jr., Giuliani's campaign co-chair in South Carolina, who referred to the NAACP as the "National Association for the Advancement of Retarded People.' (2000)

Rudy Giuliani, starring in a video that compares welfare recipients to lazy animals (which just happen to come from Africa). (2000)

As can be 'observed,' Dondero doesn't have a problem with Giuliani's present-day 'racial insensitivity.' With that in mind, let's compare the literary styles of the Mystery Newsletter Writer and Eric Dondero.

"If you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be," wrote someone in Ron Paul's newsletter. "Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the 'criminal justice system,' I think we can safely assume that 95% of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal."

Sarcastically zooming from histrionic anecdote to universal ethnic slur -- who writes like that? Well, Dondero does. Here's a blog entry of his present-day 'crime reportage,' in which he sarcastically exploits a double-murder in Dallas as an argument to de-legitimize Muslim grievances toward US intervention:

Two teenage girls were brutally murdered by their Father - Yasir Abdel Said, a Dallas Taxi-cab driver last week. He hunted them down, and reportedly shot both of them execution style . . .

. . . Yaser Abed Said, was no doubt thinking about the War in Iraq, and US Troops stationed in Afghanistan the moment he put a bullet through the heads of both of his two young daughters.
Whether or not he ever had ethnic prejudices, the Ron Paul we have come to know today would never condemn an entire ethnic group. But today, Eric Dondero, Saint Rudy, and all the other neocons proudly exploit ethnic fears. Isn't neocon foreign policy itself based on the racist generalization of attacking the entire Muslim world in retaliation for the actions of a small group of madmen?

Maybe Dondero didn't write those newsletter comments, but it would have taken a racist, and while Ron Paul doesn't fit that profile, Eric Dondero does, and all too well.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"I spent $25 million and all I got was this lousy primary."

Ron Paul was a promising candidate with good potential. Polls showed that a third of Republicans were against the war and that would have been enough to win primaries -- so where did all those people go when votes were counted?

It's not that Ron Paul was repellant to the Republican base. Compare his consistency on abortion, illegal immigration, and gun control with the rest of the flip-floppers in the presidential race. No, it wasn't issues that did Ron Paul in.

Nor was lack of money. That's for sure.

Someone will say, "The MSM was against him." But Fox News aside, the MSM was sympathetic. Tucker Carlson, Pat Buchanan, and George Will expressed support. Chris Matthews, Joe Scarborough, and Wolf Blitzer were warm and polite. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were enthusiastic hosts. And when you appear twice on Jay Leno, you can't say you're being overlooked. So let's not blame the MSM.

So who can we blame for his lackluster performance?

His own staff, that's who.

Take a look at this link: Graniteprof. It reports ad buys for the biggest TV station in New Hampshire, WMUR. John McCain's campaign spent $1.1 million in ad buys, while Ron Paul's spent only $270,000. McCain outspent Paul on advertising by a factor of four. Could that have anything to do with why McCain received four times as many votes?

True, ads have to be purchased months in advance, but even as early as the end of the third quarter last year, Paul had millions more in the bank than McCain. So 'long lead buy time' is not an excuse. Something is not right here.

You see that by looking at the jaw-dropping lack of professionalism in the ads themselves. Here's the infamous first one, and I'll let the Youtube comments speak for us all: "ROFL, this ad is hilarious!" "really fake sorry but it is" "Best Candidate. WORST AD EVER!"

Ron Paul graduated from medical school, served ten terms in Congress, and has written several books. Since he isn't an idiot, why is his campaign acting like one?

The campaign skimped on ad buys. The ads it bought were amateurish, a sure sign the money wasn't spent on production values. So what was the money spent on?

Maybe you think it went into organization, but nope. Here's a pro-Paul blogger who ominously entitles his entry, "Getting Ron Paul elected in spite of the campaign":
The push to collect enough signatures to get Paul on the ballot in Virginia was a success, but only because the grassroots local guys worked their asses off. The national office told them everything was taken care of, and it wasn’t until very late in the drive that people realized nothing was being done whatsoever. Ballot access is not some trivial detail - it is the number one priority of an electoral campaign to get the candidate on the ballot!
. . . Apparently there are many, many more examples of no brainer campaign tasks being dropped or bungled.

It sounds like the plot to The Producers: run a campaign, collect contributions, and deliberately fail -- and under current campaign spending laws you're allowed to keep the remaining funds for personal use. Paul himself was reluctant to run for President and long ago rejected his Congressional pension as 'immoral,' so he appears above reproach. But too often his staffers have put themselves first, campaign and candidate second. Sadly, there's a long history of Paul choosing staffers of such questionable loyalty.

You may have heard of Eric Dondero. He was a Paul Congressional staffer for years, who broke with Paul over post-9-11 foreign policy and has since become a real thorn in the side, even running for Paul's Congressional seat. The point: does it speak well of Paul's personnel judgment that he hired such a disloyalist for his staff?

When asked about Dondero's betrayal, Paul said, " . . . if Eric Dondero is the only thing I have to worry about, then I don't have a lot to worry about." That may be all too true. Dondero, after all, was never tainted financially.

With that in mind, this article of his says something we should heed:

Rep. Ron Paul’s 1988 Libertarian Presidential campaign started with great promise: A former four-term Republican US Congressman running on the ticket of America’s third largest party. But it ended in failure and even scandal. Many were predicting over 1 million votes—a Libertarian record. Paul ended up with 435,000. On the money front it was even more of a downer. By some estimates over $3.5 million was raised. Most of it was squandered on full-page NY Times ads, escapades to the Republican National Convention, and lavish luncheons for visiting Libertarian luminaries. On Election Day scores of Lawyers, and Accountants raided the Ron Paul for President Campaign Headquarters and closed down the campaign operation. Campaign Manager Nadia Hayes was arrested by the Nassau Bay, TX Police Department and later convicted for embezzlement of roughly $140,000.American Libertarian magazine November 1988 described the situation: “…a bizarre twist tough-talking campaign manager Nadia Hayes was sacked the day before the election. And the much awaited last minute campaign media blitz largely failed to materialize….

Déjà vu. What does this say of Paul's inability to discipline his staff?

We see the same underlying problem in the scandal about those 1990s newsletters that were published with Paul's name on the header and racist remarks within. Paul claims he never saw the remarks and blames a staffer. Coming from any other politician, I'd call this evasive, but knowing how Paul consistently lets his staffers walk all over him, it's not surprising it happened or that he refuses to this day to name the staffer -- on the advice, of course, of his staff. They do look out for their own, no matter the cost to the candidate, and the candidate invariably allows himself to be dragged under.

This is not a man in control of his destiny. That was manifest on day of the New Hampshire primary, when his sole public response to the erupting scandal was to repeatedly chant "It's old news" as he walked to his car. That he's talking about it at all tells us that deep down he knows that suppressing information is wrong. And yet he allows his staff to intimidate him into official silence.

How vulnerable is Paul to staff bullying? Tucker Carlson writes of a likeable, intelligent, and yet pathologically flawed personality:
He can't stand to tell other people what to do, even people who've shown up looking for instructions. On board the campaign's tiny chartered jet one night . . . Paul and his staff engaged in an unintentionally hilarious exchange about the cabin lights. The staff wanted to know whether Paul preferred the lights on or off. Not wanting to be bossy, Paul wouldn't say. Ultimately, the staff had to guess. It was a long three minutes.
When there's a scandal in the Rudy Giuliani campaign, Giuliani has his fingerprints all over it. But Ron Paul? A man who can't tell his staff to turn on a light probably is in the dark about his campaign finances, too.

The staffers aren't just out to loot the campaign and undermine the candidate, they're also out to get the volunteer movement too. A glaring example occurred in July 2007, when the New York Times Magazine published an article that quoted a letter sent from a Meetup group head to the national campaign headquarters, describing the typical Ron Paul Meetup as full of people who ". . . consider each other ‘wackos’ . . . ." At the time, the media flap was over whether the slur was valid, but let's not forget something far more sinister: somebody on the staff leaked a confidential letter, thereby feeding the reporter the 'wacko' angle. There can only be one motive for the leak. The official campaign staff wanted to discredit the independent volunteer campaign as much as possible.

We're the wackos? We're not the ones publishing racist newsletters or being convicted of embezzlement, are we?

Why would the official campaign staff want to discredit volunteers? Perhaps, because they fear that someday we might go over their heads and talk to the candidate about what they're doing, and that's the end of their power.

As long as power is in their hands, they'll only use it for the sake of power. We're the ones who raise the money and get things done. Look on Youtube -- we even produce better ads than they do, on zero budget! They may have twenty-five million dollars -- the money we raised -- but in terms of campaign visibility, it's like they're not even there. We volunteers are the ones who are making the Revolution happen.

That's something to think about, assuming we still want anything to do with the campaign. Or is it time to leave candidate and staffers to their decades of complementary dysfunctions, and transform the movement we've created into something larger than any one personality?