Somewhere in space over America lurks a satellite with a giant vacuum machine that sucks the brains out of most of us during the ever-longer, ever more asinine political campaigns.
It is utterly non-partisan, this machine; its work is evident not just in the Republican presidential debates; not just in the work of the right-wing unthink tanks; not just in the voting patterns of recent presidential elections; but also in all the spin-off prattle that these things generate.
When Republicans seeking the presidency felt the hot breath of Ron Paul, who takes libertarian leaps away from party orthodoxy, they ganged up on him as a kook and crazy man.
This prompted a few progressive pundits to write that Paul had worthwhile views on a number of extremely important issues, and that he was the only voice addressing those issues during the political season. President Obama wrongly (in my opinion) opposes those views, which puts him essentially in the same corner as Romney, Gingrich and (yes) George W. Bush.
But Glenn Greenwald and other progressives who wrote favorably about Paul's views on these issues have been subjected to vicious assaults by other so-called progressives who accuse him of advocating Paul for the presidency. As Will Rogers once put it: "I am a member of no organized political party. I'm a Democrat."
For the record, Mr. Paul opposes our wars; opposes imperialism; has called American corporatism a route to “soft fascism;” supports Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks; has praised Occupy Wall Street; opposes the Patriot Act and the surveillance and police state it has engendered; opposes the war on drugs, which wastes money and perpetuates racism; opposes unilateral foreign interventions; and has expressed views on banks and the financial system that the esteemed economist Simon Johnson says "should be taken seriously." Indeed, in 2009, Mr. Paul teamed with a Democrat, Alan Grayson of Florida, to sponsor an amendment to the sweeping financial overhaul legislation that aims to regulate the industry for systemic risks. It subjects the Federal Reserve to greatly intensified audits and oversight. The amendment advanced on a 43-26 vote of the House Financial Services Committee with both Democratic and Republican support. The vote reflected the widespread and bipartisan populist anger at the central bank's policy decisions and secretive methods of operation.
These are positions which, if mainstream Democrats had an ounce of courage, a soupcon of intellectual honesty or a pinch of loyalty to their party's traditional values, every Democrat in Congress would be espousing.
I do not, repeat NOT, want to see Mr. Paul win the Republican nomination for president. I want to see him remain in Congress where his unorthodox brand of Republicanism probably does more good than his many deplorable views on other issues do harm.
I think it's important to have someone in Congress who will stand up, as Mr. Paul did, during a session of the House of Representatives, and ask questions like the following:
• Number 1: Do the America People deserve to know the truth regarding the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen?
• Number 2: Could a larger question be how can an army private access so much secret information?
• Number 3: Why is the hostility directed at Assange, the publisher, and not at our government's failure to protect classified information?
• Number 4: Are we getting our money's worth of the 80 billion dollars per year spent on intelligence gathering?
• Number 5: Which has resulted in the greatest number of deaths: lying us into war or WikiLeaks revelations or the release of the Pentagon Papers?
• Number 6: If Assange can be convicted of a crime for publishing information that he did not steal, what does this say about the future of the first amendment and the independence of the internet?
• Number 7: Could it be that the real reason for the near universal attacks on Wikileaks is more about secretly maintaining a seriously flawed foreign policy of empire than it is about national security?
• Number 8: Is there not a huge difference between releasing secret information to help the enemy in a time of declared war, which is treason, and the releasing of information to expose our government lies that promote secret wars, death and corruption?
• Number 9: Was it not once considered patriotic to stand up to our government when it is wrong?
So-called progressives who refuse to recognize the importance of injecting these subjects into the American political discourse do not deserve the appellation they attach to themselves.