Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Few Confessions of Failure in 2011 by The Dismal Political Economist

Hey, He Can’t Be Right All the Time

As much as he loathes the tradition, it is generally accepted that those who pontificate should, at the end of the year confess their sins.  The sins are those times when either through omission or commission, a pontificator was wrong.  The Dismal Political Economist has several of those, including a big one.

First up is the fact that we substantially overestimated the electoral abilities of Texas Governor Rick Perry.  After winning numerous gubernatorial races in Texas we assumed that Mr. Perry was a good and experienced and difficult to defeat campaigner.  The thinking was that he would be a formidable, even the favorite candidate because he could bring together fiscal and social conservatives.

He is in Texas, a strong and formidable campaigner.  But unlike fine wine, Mr. Perry does not travel or age well.  Once on the national scene his command of issues in Texas made him largely impervious to attack on that subject, but his lack of knowledge or even concern about national and international affairs made him seem weak, and ignorant and uncaring of basic U. S. and world economic issues.  He was not ready for prime time, and the Republican debates and subsequent close examination of Mr. Perry by voters and the press alike showed this.  When the history of the 2012 Presidential race is written Mr. Perry will be a non-event.

Another place where The Dismal Political Economist was wrong was in castigating the European Central Bank for not supporting the sovereign debt of nations like Spain and Italy.  These countries have a chance to recover economically, but only if the interest rates on their government debt are kept under control.  The ECB had repeatedly said they would not intervene in government debt markets to support debt of those countries.

It turns out the ECB has implement a work-around.  Instead of lending directly those countries the ECB is lending money to private banks to buy government debt.  In this way it is indirectly supporting the debt of those countries.  This is not the best way to do things, but it is better than what the announced policy was.  Interestingly the Germans who opposed direct intervention by the ECB in sovereign debt markets do not seem to object to the current ECB policy.

With respect to Groupon, The Dismal Political Economist condemned the greed of the owners for not taking a $6 billion offer from Google and instead taking their chances in the public markets.  The stock has dropped, and while the decline in value is large it may not have been a mistake to turn down the Google offer.  If the owners can get out while the getting out is good they will be fine.  If they wait and hold their stock, well, The Dismal Political Economist may turn out to have been right after all.

The really big error that The Dismal Political Economist made in 2011 was not taking Ron Paul seriously and not helping to expose him for what he is.  Because he was not and is not a viable candidate for the Republican nomination, we took him at face value, a seemingly misguided old man who longed for simple Libertarian ideas.  This is not Mr. Paul at all, and that should have been pointed out.

It turns out the Mr. Paul is a racist,  is homophobic and a likely anti-Semitic radical. The proof is in newsletters and fundraisers he authored, or at least went out under his name.  Mr. Paul has disavowed those missives, and even claimed he didn’t write them, read them or know of their existence, a claim which only his most dedicated followers can believe.  But a close former associate of Mr. Paul has told a scathing story. 

Eric Dondero is

Fmr. Senior Aide, US Cong. Ron Paul, 1997 – 2003
Campaign Coordinator, Ron Paul for Congress, 1995/96
National Organizer, Draft Ron Paul for President, 1991/92
Travel Aide/Personal Asst. Ron Paul, Libertarian for President

And the interesting thing is that he tries to write in support of his former boss with words and sentences that in actuality condemn Mr. Paul.  Here is Mr. Dondero on Mr. Paul’s attitude towards gay and lesbians.

“Bobby,” a well-known and rather flamboyant and well-liked gay man in Freeport came to the BBQ. Let me stress Ron likes Bobby personally, and Bobby was a hardcore campaign supporter. But after his speech, at the Surfside pavilion Bobby came up to Ron with his hand extended, and according to my fellow staffer, Ron literally swatted his hand away.

Again, let me stress. I would not categorize that as “homo-phobic,” but rather just unsettled by being around gays personally. Ron, like many folks his age, very much supports toleration, but chooses not to be around gays on a personal level. It’s a personal choice. And though, it may seem offensive to some, he has every right in my mind to feel and act that way.

Yep, if those two paragraphs don’t define homo-phobia, nothing does.  On racism Mr. Dondero tries to defend Mr. Paul by ignoring the newsletter stories where Mr. Paul castigated African Americans. As for being anti-Semitic, there is this

He is however, most certainly Anti-Israel, and Anti-Israeli in general. He wishes the Israeli state did not exist at all. He expressed this to me numerous times in our private conversations. His view is that Israel is more trouble than it is worth, specifically to the America taxpayer. He sides with the Palestinians, and supports their calls for the abolishment of the Jewish state, and the return of Israel, all of it, to the Arabs.

Now one can be a strong critic of Israel and Israeli policy, as The Dismal Political Economist is and not be anti-Semitic (The Dismal Political Economist is Jewish) but the above statement is not criticism, it is a call for the destruction of the Jewish state and of the Jews who inhabit it. 

So in the end Ron Paul is not the harmless grandfatherly anti-government gentleman he portrays, he is a bigoted man whose ideas do not belong in main stream politics.  The Republican party should be condemned for allowing him to rise to prominence, but The Dismal Political Economist cannot do that, because he too ignored Mr. Paul and did not investigate or publicize his views.  So the GOP gets a pass here, but Mr. Paul and the voters of his district who knew him well and still elected him, no pass.  And as for that group of Jewish Republicans, tell us once again why you want to belong to a political party that not only tolerates the bigotry of Mr. Paul, but in some ways promotes him as Presidential material.

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