By Matthew Rothschild on November 23, 2011

The most astonishing thing about the latest Republican debate was the roster of questioners from the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.

It was an all-star cast of scandal-ridden Republicans from administrations past.

First came Ed Meese, Ronald Reagan’s Attorney General, who was up to his eyeballs in Iran-Contra. I didn’t even know that Meese was still alive.

Then came Paul Wolfowitz, one of George W. Bush’s chief neocons, who pushed the Iraq War within hours of 9/11.

And finally there was David Addington, Cheney’s counselor, who played a role in the outing of Valerie Plame and who justified waterboarding.

Watching these scandalabras was like having a recurring nightmare.

OK, on to the candidates themselves.

A lot of the pundits scored the debate a victory for Newt Gingrich, but he seemed more pompous than usual to me. And aside from his defense of immigrant families that have been in the United States for a long time, he didn’t say much that was new.

The real winner, to my mind was Ron Paul.

I didn’t agree with him on a lot of really big things, like his idolatry of the free market and his urge to destroy the welfare state.

But he was right on the money about ending America’s “needless and unnecessary wars.”

He stood up for all of our civil liberties and opposed the Patriot Act.

And he was great when he called the war on drugs “a total failure” and came out for medical marijuana.

It’s time the pundits took Ron Paul seriously. The Iowa voters sure are.

The most outrageous comment of the whole debate, by the way, belonged to Mitt Romney. In defending his stance that that the U.S. should not “cut and run” in Afghanistan and Pakistan, he cited a revealing and hideous example: “Indonesia back in the 1960s.” Said Romney: “We helped Indonesia move toward modernity with new leadership.” That new leadership was the dictator Suharto, who killed between 500,000 and one million of his own citizens with the help of the CIA.

A little follow up from Wolf Blitzer would have been nice there.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Police Use Excessive Force against Occupy Movement."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).


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