The Rise of Rand, and the Future of Liberty

Posted on Updated on

Sen. Rand Paul, son of libertarian titan Ron Paul, and the one real “pro-liberty” presidential candidate in the 2016 Republican field, has just killed much of the Patriot Act. A politician in Washington, almost singlehandedly, has actually repealed major parts of a major program. STOP THE PRESSES. This is a Kodak moment—even more so since this same Senator is in position to potentially win a major party nomination for President. The Beltway is ablaze with discussion, reports Politico, over how Rand ran circles around the entire political leadership, in order to maneuver himself into victory.

Unlike his straightforwardly ideological father, and in light of Ron Paul’s two GOP primary race defeats in 2008 and 2012, Rand is taking the ‘undercover,’ moderate rhetoric route to running for the office. He has been leading with well-rehearsed (at times almost neocon sounding) talking points and a bit of finesse that brings in principled positions on the backend, or as an end policy result. In sunsetting the unconstitutional provisions of section 215, Rand presented an actual balance of “liberty” (ending legal bulk surveillance) versus “security” (supporting more FBI staff to investigate real leads) the establishment merely talks about—while only delivering more security.

This has not been done as a desperate fundraising ploy, as Rand is not courting his liberty base (since he’s already married to it). He’s not married to the ‘purist’ approach of his father, but to a pragmatic or finesse approach designed to help dialogue with voters, or misdirect opponents until he moves in a substantive direction. The bold Patriot Act move was not a complete 180 on his finesse tactics, it was a planned strike, as Paul knew when the bill sections were coming up for renewal or expiration. The finesse was used to keep people guessing (including supporters) until he could seize on an opportunity. It was a tactical plan, one I and other observers have believed was laid out month ago, in order to ambush the establishment.

Critical Reception

Justin Raimondo, who recently excoriated Rand over his vacillating rhetoric and compromising gestures, has noticed how rare Rand’s display of liberty principle is in increasingly authoritarian DC, or Mordor on the Potomac:  “With everyone from the President to John McCain and Lindsey Graham attacking Sen. Paul for supposedly “endangering” the national security, the Senator has not only stood his ground but he’s also articulated the libertarian position on the utter impermissibility of what our government is doing and its dire implications for the future of our republic.”

Raimondo is the chief columnist at Antiwar.com. He has been highly critical of the pragmatic tactics Rand adopted, but likes his current achievement of forcing expiration of part of the Patriot Act. He doesn’t acknowledge that one reason why Rand was able to run out the clock was the GOP leadership thought (based on his “vacillating rhetoric”) that he would cave on the issue. They didn’t know his true intent until it was too late to save Section 215. His “pragmatism” served as countermeasures to fool the bad guys on the actual substance, just as we’ve been theorizing for months.

Confronting the “Robo-hawks” or Knee-jerk Interventionists

The DC Saurons are full uproar over this disruption of their procession to the Total State. Nor is this the only breach of the Jericho walls of the US Empire, War and Surveillance state scaled by Rand, as he has also jumped on the robo-hawks of the party over the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Taking advantage of gaffes by Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio (made during friendly questioning by FOX news correspondents, no less) handling the “if you knew then what you know now” question, Rand has pressed the issue of the wrong-headed intervention, and the subsequent Mideast disasters in its wake (including the rise of ISIS).

Moreover, Rand has been pointing out, it’s 12 years later, and we’re still in Iraq. The public, including 76% of Republicans by one poll, notices this, and agrees the Iraq is a failure or will be viewed as such by history. Not that mistakes were made in engaging the war, but that the war itself was a mistake. The original decision to start the war, and all other interventions, are viewed as correct actions by the war party—hence the GOP dilemma, or delusion, come 2016.

The unending length of the conflicts have made people notice the flimsy pretexts behind the aggression, excuses which were only supposed to be temporary devices to get folks onboard, then promptly forgotten. They were never meant to stand up to the test of time. Basically, the GOP will not win back the Presidency until it runs a candidate who at least partially repudiates the original decision to invade Iraq. “Mistakes were made” or “we had bad intelligence” won’t cut it anymore, especially since the facts are more like we got lied into the war, and the data was deceptively cherry-picked. Rand is the Republican’s immediate ticket out of the Iraq problem, if they will take it.

Randian Jujitsu

Personally, I prefer the openly principled approach of his father, but recognize the political reality that Ron got nowhere with it within the GOP in two election cycles. Yet there is something to be said for good technique, when going the practical route. What I do love about Rand, at his verbal dancing devious best, is his crazy jujitsu reconstructive way of throwing neocon/war party talking points back at them, in a way that either mouse-traps their rhetoric, or blows up the mouse traps outright. One example is “we need to ensure the safety and security of Israel in the region,” to which Rand might reply “we certainly do, and one of the best ways to do that is to stop destabilizing the region by creating a more extremist jihadi Wonderland than the one we started with.” That is, stop meddling and expanding military action everywhere, which is what is fostering the Muslim extremism and blowback. This kind of exchange mousetraps the “Israel’s security” talking point.

Nine months ago, the war hawk talking point was “let’s arm Iraqis to combat ISIS, since they are eager to take on the enemy, so they can fight the battle themselves.” Then, it seems like the SECOND that support was approved, the rhetoric got ramped up to “oh my, it’s not working, so we need to put boots on the ground, and go all in!” Just like Bay of Pigs, the militarists commit us part way, then say later (when things go south) that we’re betraying the success of the mission unless we escalate. In both instances, the hawks probably knew the locals couldn’t succeed—they were just used to prop the door open for more US intervention. But 12 years in, the public is by now tired of being back doored into undeclared wars that have no proper justification, no real connection to defending our borders (other than protecting a bloated Empire), and no exit. Enter Rand as the best mainstream solution to halting this syndrome, and reining in the robo-hawks.

News Bombing and Rope-a-Dope

Rand is so far also solving the problem of how to circumvent media blackouts or marginalized coverage (which destroyed Ron Paul’s chances), by finding ways to consistently be at the center of the news. Notice the last few weeks how it’s “Rand holds filibuster” or “Candidates attack Rand” or now “Rand forces expiration of the Patriot Act,” etc. This alone will keep Rand’s poll numbers up, regardless of how the media covers him. Rand is in part playing political rope a dope, doing or saying 2-3 newsworthy things each week that draw the neocon candidates in to scold him. This keeps him front and center of the coverage, while further locking the hawks into a corner defending the (by now) indefensible (the Iraq invasion, its lies, bulk warrantless surveillance, and the lies about that).

Rand’s virtually single handed repeal of the Patriot Act already puts him in the history books, regardless that the Saurons are already busy replacing the law with its new evil sister. The media can’t avoid mentioning Rand if they are covering things like the battle over the Patriot Act, or are following another contender who is attacking him by name. This also gives a strong incentive for the corporate media to interview Rand to respond to current attacks against him—which naturally gives him the option of escalating the exchange with more buzzworthy comments, to extend the news story. This sets Rand up to clean up by the time of the debates, as he will have by then well-established talking points against all the other candidates.

It’s no less than the news equivalent of the money bomb (another invention of Paul supporters), as an end-around to any media blackout. I wouldn’t be surprised if his campaign hasn’t set up a schedule for the next 30-40 weeks, specifying a “news bomb” story he will create each week through the end of the year. Will it be enough to defeat attempts by the mainstream media and Republican establishment to marginalize Rand anyway, by arguing he is not “electable” the way a Bush or Walker, or Christie might be? But on that issue, I hold my tongue until next year, and give the Rand campaign the time to roll out and prove it can overcome the opposition, via solely running inside the big party apparatus.

Which Way Forward for the Movement?

Finally, about that ‘big party’ issue: some less enlightened people have expressed the notion that a victory for Rand Paul shows the best way for pro-liberty people to proceed is through the Republican Party, through a continuing “reform the GOP” campaign.  According to this view, Rand winning the GOP nomination would mean the Libertarian Party, or independent liberty movement is irrelevant. But do the advocates for taking this “work within the major parties” route ever drop the other shoe?

If the Rand candidacy fails, will these GOPers panic, because they know his loss renders their case for working only within the GOP irrelevant? Do the latter understand that the Paul movement was only possible because Ron (a lifetime LP member) did not compromise his libertarian beliefs while in major office, and built a national base for himself that was independent of both the GOP and LP, thus making himself a genuine unifying figure for the realists and purists to rally around? Doesn’t this kind of integrative, grassroots network based approach represent the better way to proceed, instead of running down liberty activists from one camp or the other? I say the success of the movement depends on maintaining the relevance of its activity in both the major and minor party universes. We’ll have much more clarity on these issues upon the conclusion of the Rand candidacy, but so far, maintaining a healthy independent grassroots liberty movement appears to be the preferred way going forward.

Advertisements

On Park Avenue and Income Inequality

Posted on Updated on

My progressive friend and previous business collaborator Dennis Shipman asked me to look at a popular video on the election buzzword issue “income inequality,” entitled 740 Park Avenue. The film begins by chronicling the amazing economic disparity between Manhattan’s fabled avenue of billionaires, versus the poor version of the same named avenue on the Bronx side of the Harlem River, and from there makes for a compelling expose of how the super rich (the 1%, or the top 1% of that 1%) have disproportionate influence and control over the political and economic order. The full video can be viewed here:

Below are my comments on the claims made in the video (you’ll have to view it to follow many of my responses). In general, I think the elite’s negative influence is bipartisan and systemic to the entire establishment. The 1% and mega corporations use free market concepts, Ayn Rand, and opportunity rhetoric to promote their corporate welfare, cartel capitalist, and big government/big business collusion operations—so the former then get scapegoated for the ultra rich’s sins. Since I think the video makes its main point well, my comments focus on the non-liberty aspects of it, to wit:

1) The Good–Exploration of the influence of the super wealthy on the political order. The Bad–Its breakdown of the discussion along mainstream partisan lines (‘white hat’ party here, ‘black hat’ party there) which often turns the film into a bunch of cliched Democratic talking points. The documentary makes token reference to the influence of the elite on Democratic leaders like Sen. Charles Schumer, or the inaction of Democrats when they had total power in DC, but otherwise does not draw the obvious conclusion that both major parties are owned by the elite interests. Eg, the top five corporate donors to the two major presidential contenders were the SAME people—Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, etc. The documentary is silent on this.

The Ugly–It’s also silent on the ‘deep politics’ aspects of how the rich donate—etc, many environmentalist organizations are actually funded by the Koch or Big Oil set, since the protests against new drilling keeps more crude from being available, thus the false scarcity keeps the cost of oil up, and their profits high. The candidate that got the MOST 1% money (Wall St., top corps, etc) was Obama in 2008 and 20012, not his GOP opponents. A billion dollars in campaign donor money is already lined up for Jeb Bush, and two billion already lined up for Hillary Clinton–that is, they are both in the pocket of the rich. Hillary has made millions from hedge fund investments for a decade, and pays her female staff 70% of what she paid her male staff–so how is she going to pontificate on income inequality? Even the phrase implies some class of ‘managers’ must devise ways to ‘make things right’ for the rest of us. And who exactly will be in the overwhelmingly best position to appoint such overlords, to impose those egalitarian outcomes on the population? You guessed it, the 1% ultra rich influencers! That’s why some of us find it problematic to seek centralized solutions.

2) The role of the Kochs et al in influencing mainstream policy is duly noted, especially from dropping tons of cash around through their PACs and other front organizations, but the documentary overreaches in asserting they created grassroots movements (the Libertarian Party, the Tea Party). After Koch ran on the LP line in 1980, the brothers tried to take over the party in order to co-opt its message, so as to promote their big business agenda. THE PARTY KICKED THEM OUT instead. The tea party began in 2007 as an independent, non-partisan, ANTI-rich elite group with Ron Paul and the grassroots (who took no Koch money), and by 2009 was kicking out mainly REPUBLICAN incumbents from office.

THAT’s when the Kochs and neocons jumped in to co-opt the movement, and steer it into being another GOP group. The establishment tried to do the same to Occupy, on the Democratic side, but it pushed back against this, which is why they then sought to crush it. What the rich do is seek to dominate a ‘mainstream’ they control, and either absorb alternatives into it, or push them to the sidelines. The elite either try to co-opt independent movements (left friendly or right friendly) back into the two-party puppet show, or else marginalize them, but they do not invent the grassroots movements.

3) The video relentlessly knocks the “tax cutters,” arguing taxes are essential for paying the country’s bills, and asserts “tax cuts for the rich” is a main reason why income inequality exists. In fact, the current tax system is just 100 years old, and the country got the bills paid, the roads built, etc through tariffs and fees, without taxes for most of its history. Income taxes were pushed into being by the bankers, mainly as a means of paying the interest on the debt created when the country switched to the Federal Reserve central bank system 100 years ago. There was NO welfare state (corporate or individual) when both the Fed and the tax started in 1913.

The point of the new regime was to suck money out of the middle class through monetary inflation, mountains of public debt and taxation, into the bankers and 1%’s hands. Inflated dollars, equals less consumer spending power and diminished savings. So, why doesn’t mainstream discussion about income inequality ever talk about the role of the Fed, and central banksters in devaluing the dollar? This has been a far, far more efficient (and massive) way to generate income inequality, as noted by James Bovard: “The real 1% issue is how the Federal Reserve has rigged the economic game to crucify the middle class with zero interest rates. Folks who relied on their savings have been devastated at the same time the Federal Reserve artificially inflates stock values to benefit the richest Americans.” The elite has distracted the public about this by emphasizing left-right rhetorical battles over ‘the safety net,’ or baiting the rich ever since.

4) The video interchangeably treats the GOP, LP and various fiscal restraint movements as complementary lapdogs of the elite. Despite the occasional confluence on issues, the LP was founded in 1971 IN OPPOSITION TO Republican policy, and maintains the GOP only ‘talks the talk‘ on freedom or small government, using the rhetoric to push the agenda of the rich-backed, big government interests. That elite puts up this show of opposition parties who are divided by rhetoric only, with the exception of raising wedge topics at election time (dividing and distracting the electorate on moral issues, or race). The elite want most of the WHITE and conservative  population impoverished and middle class decimated, not just the blacks, or the working poor.

The documentary also castigates Gov. Scott Waker’s battle against “collective bargaining” and public unions in Wisconsin, by lumping opposition to the union demands with catering to the elite, while dismissing liberty arguments as ‘simplistic.’ The Libertarian principle is indeed simple–i.e., there should be no introduction of force or fraud to solve problems–and believes the more effective approach, that protects rights all around, involves upholding voluntary human action. “Collective” bargaining means compulsory involvement in union bargaining, or forcing some workers who do not consent to participate into funding its activity, thus depriving them of their liberty right not to associate. That is why it is opposed by liberty advocates, irrespective of the benefits of voluntary union organizing and bargaining.

5) The documentary exposes the super rich’s existence, and their tilting of the playing field, but spends 90% of the time playing along with the partisan games by attacking the GOP. That is what I found most disappointing. The real class war is between those elite interests who benefit from a massive state to further a corporate-fascist system that only serves the big guys, versus those who only want a state big enough to protect basic rights, but otherwise leaves the playing field level to let people get things done. In the meanwhile, if the playing field is tilted, play a different game than the one the rich have rigged. Opportunity should still be pursued, but on an informed basis that avoids the crooked game the elite has set up.

Anarchism, vs. Minarchism, vs. Liberty Realism

Posted on

I often run across the perpetual idle (or sometimes fevered) debate among libertarians about what is the supposedly ‘best’ form human order from a consistent pro-liberty perspective. The two major views are anarchism (no-state, or the belief there is no legtimate civil government is the ‘real’ libertarian position) and minarchism (a view that people can legitimately delegate the defense of their basic rights to a minimal state).

Voluntaryists (advocates of non-political, non-violent strategies to achieve a free society), who typically reject electoral politics, tend to side with the anarchists in opposing any concept that there can be a legitimate government from a liberty perspective. Voluntaryists believe government has no basis for asserting its monopoly claims (as some people are not inclined to support it), and it too often (soon, or eventually) takes the form of authoritarian tyranny.

This definition presumes an approach to ‘libertarian principle’ that makes it no different than anarchism, in that it recognizes no possible legitimate basis for civil government. The minarchist view holds that the size and scope of government should be limited strictly to that large enough to protect individual rights to life, liberty and property, and no larger. This is consistent with libertarian principles, because the use of force by such a state would be defensive, thus not an initiation of force or aggression.

If individuals have a right to self-defense use of force with respect to their basic rights, then so does the government they delegate to protect those rights. In fact, one of the reasons the LP’s non-initiation of force pledge is written that way was to accomodate both the anarchists and minarchists under the libertarian umbrella, by appealing to both group’s opposition to the offensive use of force.

The pledge silently implies the defensive use of force by a minimal state is therefore legitimate, but does not go into it due to the myriad variations of opinion between anarchists and minarchists about applying or delegating this to government. The point being, there can be voluntaryists who are consistent minarchist libertarians. The attempt to define libertarianism as being innately opposed to electoral politics is in error, since libertarians support electoral politics to facilitate achieving a minarchist state, which is in fact compatible with voluntaryism.

My own take on this dispute (as a Christian Libertarian) is otherwise to introduce a bit of “liberty realism” into the fray, which incorporates the input of the fundamental document of Western civilization (the Bible), the actual track record of history, and the key factor of human imperfection (or doctrinally speaking, the sin nature).

From a biblical point of view, in practice no form of human-based governance, anarchist or minarchist, works in the long run. The real obstacles to liberty in either order is ultimately not tyranny or the State, but sin and Satan. A people that does not acknowledge God or His moral law will not find a way to navigate challenges to a anarchic system once people disagree about resolution of issues (the “who decides what private law is?” question). A lack of recognition that God is the ruler of the nations tends to defacto lead to rule by the Prince of the air and his devils, playing on the sin nature of men.

About the only successful anarchist system was the ancient Israelite history of Judges following their settling after the Exodus, which went on for several centuries before the people decided to trade it in for setting up a kingdom (in other words, due to sinfully envying their neighbors). The prophets verified their authority through miracles and correct prophecy, which helped resolve disputes without need for courts or other civil institutions. It worked because it was a theocratic anarchy based on God’s law and kingdom, which the Israelites voluntarily entered into as a matter of contract or covenant (thus eliminating the issue of disagreements over private law, or authoritarian elements associated with theocracy). The millennial kingdom following the Second Coming of Christ will likely run along the same lines.

The pattern of history is otherwise one of, with humans left to institute anarchy or government on their own, one tyranny after another, sometimes interrupted by attempts by the people to restore a free order. That order, no matter how carefully constructed or articulated in law, has tended to fall away as the people abandoned the vigilance to maintain it, or kept advancing rulers who ignored the law or limits supposedly placed on their power. Even when no order was chosen, the anarchy broke down even more rapidly, when sinful strongmen took over and seized power from within, or the land would be overrun by invaders from without.

The lesson of world history is that 6,000 years of human civilization shows we cannot rule ourselves in a manner that keeps people free either with limited civil government, or no civil government. The debate as to which is theoretically better becomes moot, in this context. God, the Author of liberty, is the secret sauce to make liberty work, in either case. In the meanwhile, a man-based minarchist government is the defacto preferred interim order from a practical perspective, as the legal limits it puts on state power tends to preserve a free order longer than a man-based anarchic order would.

I’m at the NYC Cannabis Parade May 2

Posted on

It’s been called the Million Marijuana March in past years, but the annual Manhattan event is now called the NYC Cannabis Parade and Rally, and I will be speaking at it this Saturday (May 2). The goal, as ever is to “Liberate New York City” by demanding a legal market for cannabis in New York City, along with ending the drug law regime that has served to enrich the prison industrial complex.

People interested in the cause will be meeting up on Broadway at W. 31-32 Streets from 11:00 am, but will proceed to march to Union Square South Plaza around 12:30 pm, whereupon the speakers (including moi) will give our remarks on the struggle from 1:00 onward.  stand up for personal freedom and ending the social control grid, and meet up with us to help legalize weed!

 

The Media is Useless, Pt. 2

Posted on Updated on

As stated last time, modern journalism has a curious way of avoiding covering major news stories, such that key details or dynamics get excluded, and alternative voices are buried. The way the early Presidential primary coverage has been conducted, where Big Corporate candidates Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton are treated as the only “serious” choices, even where other candidates are making major headway, is but one example. Those independent, or more authentic alternative voices within the major parties, be they progressives like Elizabeth Warren and war hero Jim Webb on the Democratic side, or liberty-leaning Sen. Rand Paul in the Republican race, seem to get mentioned only as a lead in to babbling about how they may impact Jeb and Hillary. Still other possibles discussed, like Trump, Cruz, Palin on one side, or Biden on the other, are either jokes, or treated like such.

To Big Corporate news, pushing or protecting Republican No. 1 and Democrat No. 1 is everything, while mentioning the Libertarian or “minor” parties means nothing (which is one reason they stay minor). The elite establishment doesn’t care, so long as they get their pro-Fed, pro-war, pro-surveillance candidate in, from column A or column B.  Even worse, some supposed “opposition” outlets turn out to be mainstream controlled when push comes to shove. Case in point, why does FOX News run story after story about Hillary, as if it was the neocon network’s job to promote her?

Other example: Mother Jones not long ago published a well-researched, strongly critical piece on Jeb Bush’s tenure as Governor of Florida, as one would expect from a progressive journal. Then they pulled the article from its website archive. While they (very) eventually put the piece back up, why would they have done such a thing? Could it be as simple as, they got a call from someplace connected to their funding, and got told they couldn’t keep their well-written article accessible online, if it made Jeb look bad? So for those progressives who scoff at my “two party paradigm” talk, and think the left-right battles aren’t managed, I ask them why would an “independent” left publication disappear a perfectly good critical piece on Jeb Bush, unless it wasn’t independent?

News MediaThe mainstream news media (or MSM, and by this term, I mean the “A list” consisting of the NY Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, and the four main broadcast networks) could do much better, especially those organs that have the column space or available cable time to so attempt. For one thing, they could pay attention to self-centered political figures who may happen to say true things. If Sarah Palin comes into the race, for example, and (as usual) attention whores herself, this time by way of successfully exposing Jeb Bush’s inadequacies, she should become major 2016 news. Palin and/or Cruz could work out being defacto advocates for Rand Paul in a ‘reverse triangulation‘ way. Say a Tea Party (TP) ‘firebrand’ candidate says something true, but really harshly or in incendiary fashion, drawing Bush et al into reacting to it in an extreme establishment-prone way that alienates the rank and file GOP voters. Rand then steps up, acts likes “the statesman” and expresses the firebrand position in a polished, diplomatic way, and is perceived as the true leader.

Rand did something like this in the vaccine flap, only out of sequence–he and Gov. Christie expressed the grassroots view first, which led the self-styled mainstream to react with “anti-vaxxer” spin, then causing Bush and Hillary to sound like the statesmen afterward. If a sort-of TP person like Palin ran and revived some of these debates by acting as the leading edge, sacrificial lamb who boldly states the alternative view first, Rand could benefit by responding in a measured way to the establishment’s dogmatism, and thus be on the right (lagging) edge of the triangle. (Note: “The establishment” I speak of is not rank and file Republicans or Democrats, but that motely collection of rank and file elite special interests (and media or party leadership vassals) who control both parties, and represent the MIC, banksters, AIPAC, Big Biz, etc. )

As it stands, the media’s one sided, “we’re in Big Pharma’s pocket” treatment of the vaccine story was scandalous, relentlessly putting supporters of parental choice, or for choosing natural immune health options on the defensive, while continuing to foster the corporate “we’ve got to support more vaccines” framework. The cable news networks were particularly horrible, acting as drug company enforcers of “the science is clear, there is no other side” dogma that any expression of opting out of vaccines should be frowned upon, and dismissed as a knee-jerk “anti-science” attitude.

The MSM tells us point blank that ‘there is no debate,’ while anybody who researches the alternative media for ten minutes can find out the opposite is the case. Where was any mention given to the $3 billion the US government has paid in settlement costs, to families who could prove their children were damaged by vaccinations? Or mention of the CDC’s own admission that roughly half the health care professionals in the US choose to not vaccinate their kids? Or how in Europe vaccines have been proven in court to cause autism? The MSM, particularly the 24/7 news channels, have all the time in the world to present doctors and scientists who are critical of the current vaccine regime, but devote their segments on the issue to pushing only the medical industry narrative. It is this no-choice authoritarian propaganda onslaught that is being knee-jerk rejected, not the individual choices of millions of informed parents.

The major news media has also played the “there is no other side” game when they have failed to call out political theater, as acted out by establishment celebrity tools like Donald Trump. Right after Ted Cruz announced his candidacy for President, the Donald jumped out and attacked his eligibility for the office, based on Cruz being born outside the US. The MSM latched on to the defective case Trump made by re-bashing the “birthers,” and repeating most “experts” had concluded Cruz was a US citizen qualified to run. The very appearance of the self-absorbed Trump on the political stump again was enough to nauseate most people, thus tend to poison the well concerning any topic he would deign to bring up.

Which was the intention. The point behind Trump’s “attack” was to get Cruz’s eligibility issue buried—in other words, to help Cruz. The MSM obliged, instead of calling him out as a strawman or shill, and having a real constitutional discussion of the matter. Statutorily, Cruz is a US Citizen, but Constitutionally as per its original intent, he is not a natural born citizen, thus he is not eligible to run for or serve the office of President. Regardless of Trump’s involvement, that is the end of the matter for those consistently applying the Constitution as the fundamental law controlling the understanding of the question.

As with the case of Obama, the establishment was using its tool The Donald to make the “natural born citizen” case poorly or even cloddishly, in order to preemptively marginalize those who would stress a consistent reliance on the Constitutional criteria. Trump is protecting Cruz, in other words, which is another indicator that Cruz is an agent assigned by the establishment to crowd out Rand Paul, and divide the liberty vote in the primaries. Thus proving, while the media is indeed useless to us regular folks insofar as exploring the truth is concerned, it does serve to lick the boots of its elite masters superbly.