By Fred McKissack, Jr.

Welcome to the front-runner fish bowl, Ron Paul.

In this bowl, all eyes are on a candidate, and past words, thoughts and deeds are fed back from an unceasing media machine that parses every utterance and wince.

Recently, Paul has gotten tripped up on some racist writings attributed to him 20 years ago that were published in newsletters bearing his name. Paul says he didn’t write or edit the words in the newsletters and that they do not reflect his views on race.

He not only looks unbelievable, since he didn’t put up a stink at the time about the asinine drivel being espoused in his name, but he looks just as brazenly avaricious as the bankers, traders and financiers he excoriates on a daily basis. The newsletters were a profitable business that fueled his congressional war chest, so it’s no wonder he closed his eyes and daydreamed away the bile.

It’s not only the “liberal” media ripping into Paul’s past. Just a few days ago, the National Review’s Rich Lowry, in an op-ed for the New York Post, tried to bury the Texas House Republican by asking if Paul could become “the first marginal, conspiracy-minded Congressman with an embarrassing catalog of racist material published under his name to win the caucuses?”


Paul may be the most entertainingly embarrassing candidate to receive airtime since George Wallace in 1968. Like Wallace, Paul’s base consists of millions of disaffected whites who see Paul as their savior.

Apparently, many of his supporters are not offended by the file-cabinet load of ridiculous statements published in the Ron Paul Political Report. These include saying that 95 percent of black Washingtonians were criminally inclined, referring to Martin Luther King Jr. as a pedophile and the national holiday honoring him as “The Hate Whitey Day” and calling the great Congresswoman Barbara Jordan a “half-educated victimologist.”

His first inclination was to say that things had been taken out of context. In what context could any of this sound even remotely intelligent, factual and above reproach? Now Paul disavows the controversial comments and leaves the issue at that.

Yet, instead of taking this time to look like a leader and make a bold statement about race and classical libertarianism or even openly discussing why he foolishly overlooked the vitriol sprayed from his newsletters, Paul instead did the familiar tragic-comic wiggle of a wannabe front-runner in the fish bowl and hoped for the best.

In a way, of all the intellectually dishonest and villainous things written in the newsletter, I was particularly offended by his attack on Jordan. She was a champion debater at Texas Southern University, a graduate of Boston University School of Law and one of the most righteous, intelligent and heroic voices I can remember from the Watergate hearings.

For those who don’t know her or have forgotten her, I suggest going to YouTube, typing in her name and listening to how erudite and eloquent she was in a country still pulling away from its Jim Crow past.

Jordan acted and sounded like a leader. Paul isn’t even in the same league.

Fred McKissack Jr. is a former Progressive magazine editor and editorial writer who lives in Fort Wayne, Ind. He can be reached at

You can read more pieces from The Progressive Media Project by clicking here.


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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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