Why I Will Be Voting for Ron Paul in 2012

Ron Paul is often described as a crank. Even folks like Ross Douthat who write basically sympathetic columns about the congressman from Texas say things like, “Paul, for all his crankishness, is the kind of conservative that Tea Partiers want to believe themselves to be: Deeply principled, impressively consistent, a foe of big government in nearly all its forms (the Department of Defense very much included.) Gingrich, on the other hand, is the kind of conservative that liberals believe most Tea Partiers to be — not a genuine ‘don’t tread on me’ libertarian, but a partisan Republican whose unstinting support for George W. Bush’s deficit spending morphed into hand-wringing horror of ‘socialism’ once a Democrat captured the Oval Office.”

Gingrich is awful and Paul is principled but Paul is still a crank. Just an honorable crank. Indeed, it’s his principles that land him in the crank category so often. Or so the refrain goes time and time again.

Conor Friedersdorf argues that the attempt by the mainstream media – including the rightwing media – to marginalize and ignore Dr. Paul won’t make the candidate disappear. And indeed, his polling is surprisingly strong in Iowa and New Hampshire and elsewhere. Conor writes:

There is nothing inherently wrong with factoring electability into the candidate one votes for in a primary, or backing a candidate who is less conservative on domestic policy because one agrees with his foreign policy views. But these are the sorts of tradeoffs and compromises that many Tea Partiers have spent a lot of time disparaging when other people were making them. A vote against Paul requires either cognitive dissonance — never in short supply in politics — or a fundamental rethinking of the whole theory of politics that so recently drove the Tea Party movement.

Andrew Sullivan, in endorsing Ron Paul, argues:

I am, like many others these days, politically homeless. A moderate, restrained limited government conservatism that seeks to amend, not to revolt, to reform, not to revolutionize, is unavailable. I’m a Tory who has come to see universal healthcare as a moral necessity that requires some minimal government support, who wants government support for a flailing recovery now, but serious austerity once we recover. I favor massive private and public investment in non-carbon energy, because I am a conservative who does not believe our materialism trumps the need for conserving our divine inheritance. I back marriage equality and marijuana legalization as Burkean adjustments to a changing society. I see a role for government where Paul doesn’t.

But Paul’s libertarianism may be the next best thing available in the GOP. It would ensure real pressure to make real cuts in entitlements and defense; it would extricate America from the religious wars of the Middle East, where we do not belong. It would challenge the statist, liberal and progressive delusion that for every problem there is a solution, let alone a solution devised by government. As part of offering the world a decent, tolerant conservatism, these instincts are welcome. As an antidote – and a very strong one – to the fiscal recklessness and lawless belligerence of Bush-Cheney, it is hard to beat. The Tea Party, for all their flaws, are right about spending and the crony capitalism it foments. So is Paul.

A lot of people have argued recently that the newfound libertarianism in the GOP is what’s corrupting it, turning it from a more moderate party into the Tea Party. The Paul Ryan budget, the obstructionism, the starving of the beast – this new hardline GOP has lost all its compassion. I’ve read too many accounts of this nature to recall where to link.

But this is wrongheaded. The real corruption of the GOP has nothing to do with libertarianism or small government. Republicans have become the party of war. The Democrats aren’t much better, true, but the Republicans have really taken war to a whole new level. In their support for the war on terror and Israel Republicans and some of their more hawkish allies on the left could quite easily propel us into a war with Iran.

Then there’s the war on drugs, torture, the NDAA and the potential indefinite detention of US citizens – not to mention the assassination of US citizens under this administration (and supported by many on the left and the right.) Hawks in the current GOP run-off will likely one-up Obama who has, in some ways at least, one-upped his predecessor.

I disagree plenty with Ron Paul. I’m not a paleo-libertarian by any measure. I think a market economy requires a welfare state simply in order to create a sustainable system. Without safety nets you set the stage for revolution. But I tend to agree with Paul on many of the symptoms of our national woe. My inner Austrian tempers my liberalism and makes me something of a bleeding-heart libertarian (and by this I really do mean bleeding-heart) and I do think a limited government is the best sort of government. One that does very little to constrain the economy or lock people up for nonviolent offenses. One that utilizes its monopoly on violence as little as possible.

When we say “limited government” we often draw different lines in different sandboxes.

I have lost faith in Obama. Yes, I think that some things in the healthcare reform legislation and financial legislation do some real good for some people. But I see a very poor trade in electing folks who give you corporate healthcare legislation in exchange for dubious, never-ending war powers.

What it comes down to for me is not spending or taxes or anything like that at all. I want peace. I want to elect whichever candidate is most likely to lead us in a peaceful direction – toward peaceful commerce and a vastly downsized military abroad. I want a candidate who will honestly and frankly assess the abuses of liberty here at home, because without our basic rights intact, how can we trust anything our government does?

For me it is hardly about left vs. right anymore or the various second-tier policy differences Democrats and Republicans may have. Yes, I care about jobs, about taxes, about healthcare and public education. Yes, on many of these issues I’m far to the left of Ron Paul. But I care more about peace.

I understand that non-interventionism is crankish and all that, but it’s a good idea and it’s time to give it a shot.

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249 thoughts on “Why I Will Be Voting for Ron Paul in 2012

  1. Pingback: Ron Paul Picks Up Andrew Sullivan's Endorsement - Forbes

  2. Obviously, I agree with most of this.  But if you’ll pardon a minor quibble on something that has become a huge pet peeve of mine lately- and let me be clear: the number of co-offenders here are legion.  You write:

     In their support for the war on terror and Israel…

    This should read, “In their support for the war on terror and Likud.”

    I am sick of conceding the notion that being pro-Israel means backing the policies of exactly one Israeli political party to the hilt while pretending like other pro-Israel viewpoints don’t exist.

     

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      • If your idea of supporting someone is to stand behind them ready to stick a knife in their spleen at moment’s notice, then yes, technically Ron Paul “supports” Israel… out of the whole Republican debates, the only thing I heard that actually makes sense and is borne out by logic was Gingrich’s commentary regarding the made-up group calling themselves “Palestinians” these days.

        Of course, in the late 1940s, my uncle was a “Palestinian” because he and his wife were harassed in britain and decided to go “to Palestine where the Jews belong”, as the Brits put it.

        Oh and, funny story… they moved to the side they were allowed to move to. 2/3 of the Mandate of Palestine was already turned into a “homeland for Arabs of the region”, a little nation called Transjordan.

        For reference’s sake, here’s what the “Partition plan” of 1947 looked like: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:UN_Partition_Plan_For_Palestine_1947.svg

        And here’s what the borders looked like after the genocidal arab-launched war was over, in an overlay format: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1947-UN-Partition-Plan-1949-Armistice-Comparison.svg

        It’s always interesting to see how many “refugee camps” are on land that was supposed to be Arab-owned in the 1947 plan, isn’t it?

        But there’s the genesis of the point that the “Palestinian People” are something of a fraud. About the only thing I’ve seen Gingrich get right this election cycle.

         

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        • Mike,

          In america, when someone puts hateful slogans on a shul, and firebombs a church, we call them racists. When someone burns and bulldozes another person’s house, because they’re not of the right color (without giving them the right to object), we call that apartheid.

          Do yourself a favor, and stand for what most Israelis want — PEACE.

          To call the Palestinians a “made up people” is to take one more step towards destroying Israel. I care not how — Israel has won all the wars so far, but she WILL NOT WIN THE LAST WAR. Already, in hundreds of places, people try to find diseases, chemical warfare to kill just jews. A few crop sprayers could kill 75% of Tel Aviv. Not to mention nuclear weapons.

          Israel must stop pissing off the edge of the diving board. Or my family dies.

          So don’t try and tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about — I’ve had all the propaganda you have, drilled into my skull. But the Israel that people dreamed of (that I dreamed of), is long dead — sold out to the religious zealots.

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    • Not quite. This is one of those things that sounds good as a talking point but doesn’t quite fly.

      Israeli politics are still defined by the failure of the Camp David talks in 2000, specifically Arafat’s rejection of more than Israel could really give anyway.

      Basically, the Palestinians and their sympathizers like to cry about apartheid but that doesn’t get very much traction in Israel and even less in America.

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  3. But I see a very poor trade in electing folks who give you corporate healthcare legislation in exchange for dubious, never-ending war powers.

    And for this comment you’re willing to help elect some asshole who will fuck everyone over in terms of health care AND continue the even more relentless Republican march of “never-ending war powers”???

    A vote “for” Ron Paul isn’t going to help prevent a Gingrich presidency. In a winner-take-all system where the most your vote counts for is making sure the best choice of those who have a shot of getting a plurality wins, a RP vote is by definition thrown into the crapper and flushed.

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    • How do you suppose the electoral system *actually* works? Ron Paul is running for the GOP nomination. If he doesn’t get it, then obviously someone else will. Which means I will be choosing between Somebody Else and Obama. That is an entirely different consideration, and I may well vote for Obama under those circumstances

      The rest of this partisan drivel is hardly worth responding to. Please do better. We have a high caliber of commentariat at the League and I’d like to keep it that way.

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      • I took it that you were stating a desire to vote for Ron Paul in the general.

        If he somehow wins the Republican nomination (fat chance, the party bosses won’t ever allow it and the rank-and-file won’t go for it), and you feel he’s a better choice than Obama, sure. Go for it. I would not consider voting for RP, Republican Nominee, a wasted vote. An insane one, maybe, but not wasted.

        However, the MOST LIKELY reading of your admonition – and I quote you, “Why I Will Be Voting for Ron Paul in 2012” – is that you intended to vote for RP in 2012 in the general election. That indicated to me that you’d vote for RP if he does what he traditionally does and runs as a 3rd-party candidate. That assumption is well borne out by your tearing into both of the two big parties in your tirade.

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      • EDK, my reading is that you’d vote for Ron Paul over Barack Obama.  If I’m reading wrong, then the OP doesn’t amount to much.

        If you would, we have an interesting exchange of places.  This Republican would vote for BHO over Ron Paul without a moment’s hesitation.  Dude’s nuts.

         

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      • E.D. Kain ceased to struggle against his bindings and thus did his shipmates know that the song of the sirens was no longer audible. Removing the beeswax from their ears, they untied him. “Where are we?”, E.D. asked and “somewhere in the Sea of Humours” came the answer. “We are on course, then… next we must sail into the Bile Strait… right into the mouth of Charybdis.”

        “But so many men have died in the whirlpool!”, his men cried. “We will surely be wiped away in a miasma of profanity laced spleen venting that has no target just a general direction!”

        E.D. steeled his gaze. “No,” he said, “We will take the bile of Charybdis head on.”

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  4. What a wonderful article. I have found to be in the same place where you are. With Ron Paul, I do see that he is very very anti government, but he is also anti-fed, which is an important thing to see considering how most of our big problems comes from the Fed’s ability to create money and inflate our currency. This is a disaster to have and should not go on further, otherwise we have a ponzi-scheme robbery of America’s wealth. Inflation is a hidden tax, and yet most americans dont even realize the threat from the Federal Reserve. It’s as if its an institution untouched. Mainly, the big things I like about Paul, and perhaps what his platform is all about, is bringing the troops home, which will create a boom in our economy similar to what we’ve seen back in 1950’s and also his stance against the federal reserve. Whether he audits or eliminates it, all I want right now is some serious reform!

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      • That’s actually a typical (and interesting) situation, especially given how strongly RP emphasizes it.

        It’s gone largely uncommented that the last time monetary policy issues dominated the political sphere and Bryan was the Demo nominee, the populist angle was soft money. But today it’s almost exactly the opposite.

        The point being, today’s hard money economic populists are expressing lack of confidence in government. Their reasons for that pov are not ridiculous but I don’t think we can afford the economic naivete.

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  5. Ron Paul reminds me too much of Jimmy Carter, another deeply principled and consistent man.   Ron Paul is against many things worth being against in this wicked world.   Trouble is, it’s hard to see what he’s <i>for</i>.

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      • I voted for Carter, too.   Won’t make that sort of mistake again.   He’s made a much better ex-president than president.   These Principled Guys are too brittle to be effective politicians.   They make too many blunders and they surround themselves with manifestly unfit advisors.   Griffin Bell…. jeebus.

        Let’s not forget it was Carter who deregulated the Savings and Loans.   Reagan benefited from it, leading the nation on a colossal fiscal toot.   Poor Bush the Wiser was left to clean up the garbage and wet-vac the vomit out of the carpets.

        Ron Paul’s grasp of foreign policy is nil, as was Carter’s.   It was Carter, more precisely Zbig who got us involved in Afghanistan.   For all of Carter’s supposed plain dealing and deep principles, he did it all in secret, backing a fearsome collection of sinister ministers we would later have to fight later.   Carter was just out of his league.

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        • Amen to that brother. Our esteemed Mr. Kain was likely too young to really remember the Carter years. It was much worse being an adult then and watching all the simultaneous slow-motion train wrecks that constituted his presidency. I’m still 4 square in favor of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington even as president. I just don’t want Mr. Smith actually doing anything while he’s there. ;)

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        • Which is why ideological purists should never get their hands on the levers of power.

          As pissed as I am at Obama for his constant compromising, I also recognize that sausage making is actually a legitimate part of a free and representational society.

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          • LOL, wherever did you get the idea that Obama was an ideological purist? I’ll grant that some of his speechwriters may be, but BHO is cut from the cloth of machine politics and is a steely eyed pragmatist to the core.

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            • I disagree, WSmith, since unlike the “ideological” Reagan, BHO refuses to work with the congressional opposition.  Tip O’Neill raised taxes, not Reagan, but that’s how our system works.

              BHO’s style is passive-aggressiveness, is all, but this doesn’t make him less of an ideologue.  We’ll never know what would have happened if he hadn’t lost the House in 2010.

              Thank God.

               

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              • Tom, I really meant it more in line with what BlaiseP said (infinitely better of course) below.

                Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, is a bare-knuckles politician, possessed of a certain low cunning, not so much a man of principles as of strategy, adapting and learning from his mistakes.

                BHO plays for keeps and never plays fair (why should he?_). If anything that was Reagan’s problem, perhaps he could have won the war (if not all the battles) by being less flexible, we’ll never know. On the other hand, he was more than willing to sacrifice his domestic agenda on the altar of his foreign policy. He had an evil empire to destroy after all. ;)

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                • Yes, damn that never compromising Barack Obama for offering a plan to cut the deficit that had the same revenue/spending ratio that Republican’s originally put forward at the beginning of 2009.

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                  • More partisan bloviating from the red-colored glasses brigade. Perhaps you can tell me the author of this quote and what was the context? “Elections have consequences… and I won”.

                    For those not partisan blind to the truth, a fine discussion can be had here.

                    Pause a moment while Jesse and Chris scramble to find /current/ examples of BHO supposedly being non-partisan AFTER he got his proverbial ass handed to him in the mid-term elections. The GOP has an elephant as its symbol for a reason. Long memories.

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                    • Pretending to vote is not voting. I’m still trying to add up the number of Democrats who voted FOR Obama’s OWN budget, but all I ever get to is ZERO. No Democrats will even allow the bills already passed in the House to come to the floor of the Senate. Non-partisan politics my ass. I’ve had this discussion on LoOG already, with plenty of documenting links, no reason to do it all over again.

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                    • Ward,

                      I get the sense that you, like many conservatives, are calling Obama overly partisan because he actually proposed an alternative to the Republican proposals.  I have to say–and here I’m going to put on my professional hat, as well as remind you that I’m not a Democrat–that I don’t think Obama’s been overly partisan at all.  Part of presidential leadership is using whatever tools will move the final proposal your direction, and if that includes painting your opponents as rigid ideologues then that’s what it includes.  And the fact is that the Republican majority in the House was very uncompromising, and painted Obama as the partisan because his compromise didn’t come far enough over to their side–that is, he compromised more than they did, yet he gets criticized for being too partisan.  And that’s just wrong.

                      I’ll add that I’ve discussed this a lot with a friend of mine who’s both a political science prof and a Republican political insider (former legislative director on Cap. Hill, campaign manager, and a state party delegate), and he’s of  pretty much the same opinion (except he has a higher regard for Obama’s bargaining skills than I have).

                      I truly think you’re seeing this from a “within conservativism” perspective that colors your judgement.

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                    • Ward, I see what you did there: change the target from Obama to the senate. That’s clever! Except Obama still talked to the Republicans on the budget/deficit, and on the supercommittee, and so on. Whether the senate votes with him is irrelevant to Tom’s absurd statement above.

                      By the way, I consider this to be one of Obama’s many flaws.

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                    • Also, the budget that all Democrat’s voted against was out of date as it had been superseded by the new proposal Obama made in April of this year. But, Ward won’t mention that part.

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                    • I think talking to the other side when the other side isn’t going to listen is a flaw. No matter how many times Obama invites Republican’s to the White House to talk, they’re going to block every program of his. Better not to waste the time.

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                    • Jesse,

                      It’s amazing how many things there are on which we disagree. ;) I hope I’m not getting on your nerves too much; I don’t intend to, and I’m not trying to attack you.  I see you as a good guy.

                      I believe in always keeping the lines of communication open; as small as the odds are of getting them to listen that way, they’re still higher than if you close off communication.  Plus it enables the president to play the presidential role in a way the public likes, so there are political benefits even if the other side’s ears remain tightly closed.  And it puts the onus on the other side if they refuse to talk.  Plus, there’s an important element of establishing and maintaining functional traditions–a tradition of president and Congress not talking would be bad, whereas a tradition of them talking is good.

                       

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                  • “I’m still trying to add up the number of Democrats who voted FOR Obama’s OWN budget, but all I ever get to is ZERO.”

                    It’s worse than that Ward. The D’s are trying to get the GOP to enter some kind of dysfunctional codependency. The D’s (at least some of them) know they have to cut spending but they’re unwilling accept accountability for that so they’re hoping the GOP forces them into it and then gives them some tax hikes as a birthday present.

                    Fortunately, the GOP isn’t buying. The D’s need to get their ducks in a row of what they think they want, and then we’ll negotiate according to what we want. But if the D’s need to come up with something plausible on its own terms before they show up at the table.

                    There’s been a lot of fun at the expense of Herman Cain, Rick Perry or Newt over the last 2-3 months and the truth is they are pretty much a comedy of errors. Notwithstanding that, the Demos psychodramas are even worse and those of you planning on enabling them in November, it’s just lame.

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                • I get it, WSmith, but I disagree with the analysis as too facile and cynical.  First, BHO is no Bill Clinton, and attempts to paint them together in the same brushstroke is nonsense.

                  I oppose BHO’s ideology, no surprise there.  And unlike Clinton, BHO is a True Believer.  But “ideological” is a pejorative; one could use “principled” instead, and I can grant BHO that as a virtue, even if I’m not down with his principles.

                  That’s he’s “pragmatic” is a criticism that could be leveled at any president from his flank—you can’t always get what you want, you’re not the king, not even FDR, with his huge congressional majorities.

                  Just as most Supreme Court cases aren’t 5-4 [many are unanimous or nearly so], 80% of life is just showing up.  My biggest objection to BHO’s presidency [esp after losing the House in 2010] is that unlike Clinton [and Reagan], he would rather stand on principle than do his job as president, which is to lead, and to work with the Congress he has, not the one he’d like.  One year plus away from the 2012 election was far too soon to go to scorching the earth.

                  Better for his re-election chances would have been to govern, not campaign.  Better for the country, anywayz.

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                  • Tom, you mistakenly believe Obama is interested in governing the country. Obama is letting his speechwriters govern the country while he works on this golf game and fund raising prowess. He knows how to campaign and how to give a speech (written by others). Who knew anything more would be required being leader of the free world?

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                    • I’m not that cynical, WSmith. Of course BHO wants what’s best for America [as he sees it].  He just can’t find his way to achieve what’s possible and compromise on what he can’t. [Unlike, again, Clinton and Reagan, who were effective presidents.]

                      What has BHO offered the GOP House—duly elected, mind you—in return for more taxes on the rich?  Dick.  Speeches before sympathetic crowds attacking the GOP.  This is the problem.  This is not good governance.

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                    • “What has BHO offered the GOP House…in return for more taxes on the rich? ”

                      A balanced budget? Healthier economy? A pool of consumers who don’t spend every dime on health care, but spend it on consumer goods instead? A pass on that tumbrel ride they so richly deserve?

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                    • “Obama is letting his speechwriters govern the country while he works on this golf game and fund raising prowess.”

                      Almost. He let Ezra Klein make the big calls while he played golf and watched ESPN, at least until the midterms.

                      And he’s also overrated as a campaigner, as I suspect we’re going to find out this fall.

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                    • Seems wardsmith’s on vacation from reality again.

                      And it’s easily 4 years, not three, since the Big Fat Druggie and the wingnut noise machine started trotting out their worst. The very talking points wardsmith spews are just plain worthless tripe. “Fawning mainstream media”?

                      Every morning I turn on the radio to try to get a traffic report and I can either listen to the crappiest FM stations in existence, or I can wade through the vitriol of people whose 60-IQ blitherings are the same crap wardsmith is just parroting here. It’s enough to make a guy puke.

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                    • Knowing I’ll regret answering any blather at all coming from “Mike” I would like to ask anyone else to explain to me how AM talk radio equates to MAINSTREAM FISHING MEDIA?

                      Now we could call CNN Mainstream Media and I could use the “uninformed, out of touch, or irresponsible.” so-called question as a case in point, but like the “thrill down my leg” statement, the Left sees no fouls whatsoever in this basketball game. I for one am incapable of being that intellectually dishonest with myself, but again this will be lost on the lefties present.

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                    • Bingo. I wish this Obama existed. A matter of fact, statements like ward’s want me to have an actual liberal partisan in office of the same level as someone like Reagan or Dubya and see how conservatives would react.

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        • “He’s made a much better ex-president than president.”

          As bad a President as he was, he was an even worse ex-President.

          President Carter’s ex-Presidency foreshadows the crisis of legitimacy we’re in the middle of now. He never really accepted the American people’s judgment to get rid of him (and for that matter he never really got over Edward Kennedy’s primary campaign against him).

          If it were up to him, this would be the United States of North Korea where we would all sing the praises of the Dear Leader as he goes on his way bringing peace to all the nations.

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  6. One question that should be asked:  What will a given Republican nominee’s campaign do to change the second Obama administration?

    I would hope that a Paul nomination would push Obama toward greater respect for civil liberties.  We all know it isn’t going to move him on healthcare or the fed.

    Compare this now to a Gingrich nomination.

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    • Answer:  not much, if at all.   Obama, like Bill Clinton before him, is a bare-knuckles politician, possessed of a certain low cunning, not so much a man of principles as of strategy, adapting and learning from his mistakes.

      If Obama hasn’t done much about civil liberties, it’s because he understands his enemies will call him Soft on Terror if he does.   Obama, like Lyndon Johnson, has staked his entire political career on his domestic policy, alienating much of his base:   LBJ’s Civil Rights Act cost him the South and created the modern redneck GOP in the process.

      Unlike LBJ in Vietnam, Obama has gotten us out of Iraq on schedule.   But LBJ was a haggler, willing to horse trade, granting and calling in favors, not above using Hoover’s FBI to keep tabs on his enemies.   Ultimately, LBJ just refused to go on with the charade:  his conscience got the better of him.   Obama has no such problem:  for him, a conscience would only make him vulnerable in the face of an implacable GOP enemy completely divorced from reality, intent upon his destruction whatever the cost.

      Obama is preparing his fields of fire carefully.   Ron Paul is merely a Useful Idiot, a Don Quixote.   Be not merely good, be good for something, such is my advice for Ron Paul.   Returning this nation to the gold standard is the height of economic ignorance.   Eliminating all those agencies, ignorant twaddle, yet another attempt to not only heave out the babies with the bath water but the bathtub itself.   It is a miracle Ron Paul has the brains to stand upright and hold a pan of biscuits in front of him at the same time.    Obama need not oppose anything Ron Paul might say:   the man only opens his mouth to exchange feet.

      Gingrich is already in self-destruct mode.  The GOP wants a man of the people, some avuncular figure with stage presence, not some bloviating idiot in love with the sound of his own voice.   If they could, the GOP would disinter Ronald Reagan and perch his stinking corpse upon the platform and worship him.   Romney’s toast, Monsieur Flippe-Floppe has played his lone ace and lacks any trump cards, backing away from every position which might have made him a remotely appealing candidate.

      No, Obama’s not going to change any of his positions based on who the GOP nominates, any more than Bush the Dumber did in the same predicament facing his second term.   While the GOP engages in intramural war, he will continue to supply all the ammo necessary to keep that fight good and hot.

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    • +1.

      I’d actually add that a Paul nomination would push Obama toward greater respect for civil liberties in 2012, perhaps even more so than between 2013-2016.  There’s been a number of polls out that show that Paul does better against Obama than any other contender for the GOP nomination.  This is because Paul gets a good amount of support from disaffected liberals.  These disaffected liberals would probably be fairly easy to bring back into the Obama camp if Obama suddenly became Mr. Civil Liberties, and there would be no risk of losing any other votes by doing this since Paul would be their only other option (failing, of course, a third party run by a Romney or a Bloomberg type).

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      • Sorry, you’re giving people way too much credit. The reason Paul is close to Obama at all is all the normal low-info person knows about Paul is that he’s for small government, wants to end the wars, and lets you smoke pot.

        Give Obama six months and $1 billion dollars to inform the American people of Ron Paul’s position on Medicare, Social Security, student loans, and the like and it won’t matter if Obama tortures a 9-year-old on live TV. You may not like it, but dem’s the breaks.

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        • I don’t think this is quite right.  The low-info voters supporting Paul over Obama are mostly going to be Republicans of the “anyone but Obama” variety.  The liberals who support Paul are not low info voters at all.  To the contrary, they’re the comparatively small liberals who are most passionate about civil liberties issues; I’ve yet to meet such a liberal who was anything other than obsessively informed.

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          • No, my point is that you’re an “independent” low-information voter who’s unhappy with Obama, you may choose Paul because hey, you don’t like the wars either and hey, you may smoke a little with your friends at a party in the backyard every so often.

            On the other hand, the same independent low-info voter isn’t going to be a great fan of a guy who wants to make massive cuts to the federal budget and severely reform Medicare and Social Security.

            So yes, some liberals may vote for Paul over Obama. But, far more moderates and even conservatives will support Obama. The truth is, we’re political junkies. 80% of the population has little knowledge of anybodies policies in the Republican field aside from maybe knowing Romney passed a health care plan in Massachusetts and Rick Perry let illegals go to college.

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        • Obama has a tactic of firing on his opponents at point-blank range.  He did it in Illinois to Alice Palmer.  He did it to the Hildebeest.  He did it to McCain.

          The one election he ever lost was to Bobby Rush.   He lost that election by putting on airs and acting like some Hahvahd Eeelite, which he was.  When Bobby Rush attacked him for these traits, Obama stupidly acceded to the charges, saying he represented a new generation of black elites.  Bobby Rush crucified him.

          Obama never repeated that mistake:  thereafter, he developed his Black Accent and learned to sound like a man of the people.   Same thing happened to Bill Clinton after his first term as governor of Arkansas.   No more the Pointy-Headed Innerleckshul, Bill Clinton went back and perfected his stage act.

          Ron Paul and his earnest disciples and all that fine anti-this and anti-that rhetoric will come to nothing.   Ultimately, they must sell America on Ron Paul’s ability to lead this country through an uncertain future.   A long shopping list is not a substitute.

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          • Dubya, same exact story, Blaise.  Nick Kristof in 2000:

            “It was 1978, and the 31-year-old Mr. Bush was trying to get a start in politics by running for Congress here in West Texas. A candidate forum was under way, and his rival was needling Mr. Bush with an oft-repeated joke in which he was the punchline, a yarn that reinforced a perception of him as a spoiled rich kid from back East.

            Kent Hance, the Democratic candidate and a smooth-talking good old boy, was telling a yarn about working in a field along a rural road. Then along came a fancy car.

            “It was a Mercedes,” drawled Mr. Hance, raising his eyebrows, and the audience tittered knowingly at the hint that Mr. Bush was the kind of man more comfortable in a Mercedes than a pick-up. “The guy rolled down the window and wanted to know how to get to a certain ranch.”

            Mr. Hance recounted how he’d given the man directions, telling him to turn right after a cattle guard, a metal grate ubiquitous in rural roads to keep livestock from straying. “Then,” Mr. Hance continued, “he said, ‘what color uniform will that cattle guard be wearing?’ “

            The audience roared with laughter, and just to be sure that the voters got the connection with the Connecticut-born Mr. Bush, Mr. Hance said he had noticed something else about the Mercedes: “It had Connecticut license plates.”

            Mr. Bush lost that race for Congress. Yet the story of his entry into politics, and particularly of that campaign, suggests that it left a deep imprint on him, one evident today as he campaigns for the White House.”

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  7. I’m a little confused. The election is still about a year away. Alot of what was said here reminded me of Andrew Sullivan’s (excellent) endorsement of Ron, but he was endorsing him in regard to the upcoming Repub primaries. As far as we know, it it still more likely than not that Ron will not have a place on the November 2012 ballot. This ringing endorsement seems premature for where we are in the election cycle, or maybe I’m misinterpreting your intentions?

    As for non-intervention, I’m also a bit baffled about why so many people seem to think a President Paul can unilaterally institute this policy. He could do some things around the edges–say, offer up a review of defense bases that need to be closed like they did in the ’80s or put in extensive, though entirely non-binding, defense cuts to the Presidential budget that’s submitted every February–but our rule-bound governmental structure ensures that no Pres can just walk in and pull a 180 over D.C. Look at Obama and Holder, they wanted to move Guantanamo residents to the U.S. and put major terrorist suspects on civilian trials, but Congress blocked them from doing so. I will say, though, that I feel much safer about our prospects of not invading Iran or Pakistan with a President Paul. But, even then, if some crazy event happens, he will need a metric fuck ton of fortitude to resist calls for such a military response.

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  8. If I were a Machiavellian DNC operative, I’d be siphoning Democrat funds to Ron Paul’s campaign already. He won’t win the nomination as the RNC candidate and will act as an excellent spoiler running as the independent he (really) is to draw votes away from whoever the RNC does select. Then Obama wins with a vote that will essentially match his current approval rating of 41%. Is it too early to call the trifecta on this one?

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  9. E.D.,

    Good post.  You lay out a great case for supporting Paul on the issue of war/peace.  And I couldn’t agree with you more.  This is an area where the President has a lot of room to to maneuver as he pleases and is important for our vote.  I am also not a paleo-libertarian, but is Paul really dangerous on those issues?  I don’t see congress legislating to eliminate the fed, or cut 1 Trillion next year or a lot of the other issues that make Paul more extreme than I would like.

    Do you think there is a valid argument for people who support Paul’s foreign policy but not domestic policy that the legislative will effectively curtail his worst excesses?

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    • Not as much as you’d think.

      Things Ron Paul would like to do that he could get away with by Executive Order or presidential fiat:

      – Abolishing the EPA
      – Abolishing the Department of Education
      – Abolishing the Department of Energy
      – Abolishing the Department of Commerce
      – Abolishing the Department of Homeland Security; mostly abolishing those agencies that got swept up into it (like FEMA) as well.
      – Shipping a ton of military troops (National Guard mostly) to the border to appease the redneck racist fringe
      – Abolishing the IRS (let tax fraud run wild whee!)

      So, I’m not sure how much a “legislative inertia” would stop him.

      As for the rest of his positions, a lot of them are just insane. The idea of the “tax-free employee-owned company” designation is just RIPE for tax fraud schemes. Destroying the Federal Reserve is probably the one thing that Congress would laugh him out the door at.

      As for his stance on Social Security, he’s as nuts as most of the right-wing. The whole “opt out and stuff your money where you want” thing ignores the basic problem of any such system, which is that the end results aren’t something the public will go for – inevitably, a large number of people will see their carefully hoarded “retirement” crash in the latest stock market / invest market fraud, just as happened after too many years of Republican rule and the repeal of Glass-Steagall recently. Those who opted out of SS would mostly be on the street, and society would have to decide: allow them to be free riders, or make them die in the gutter?

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          • Potentially, but in practice it tends to be harder than that.  Keep in mind that Reagan wanted to abolish the Dept of Ed, and appointed a guy who was supposed to do that, but never succeeded.

            Three problems stand in the way.

            1. The appointed secretaries tend to go native.  They may come in disliking the department’s mission, but all those who work there tend to be sincere believers in it, and once the new sec. starts hearing them daily, they tend to buy in.

            2. Political appointees tend to have a shelf-life of around 18-24 months.  The permanent staff are, well, permanent.  Political appointees always learn how difficult it is to move people who just intend to wait you out.  Remember how Rumsfeld wanted to make the army more technologically sophisticated and smaller?  He served an unusually long time in his office, and yet all he got was the technology and no downsizing.  The permanent staff of the Pentagon was all happy to accept the gizmos, but had all kinds of arguments against down-sizing and ways to delay (not to mention, of course, Rumsfeld shooting himself in the foot on that score by invading Iraq).

            3. Each agency has its own constituency that stands to lose if its eliminated.  When the agency is threatened, that constituency turns to its Senators and Representatives and voices their strong displeasure, and the Senators and Reps in turn tend to echo their constituents’ concerns.

            I have little doubt a President Paul would want to get rid of these agencies, and that he would try, but I’d bet my eyeteeth he’d fail.

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            • I don’t disagree largely with what you said, but here’s my point. Dubya did a lot of damage to institutions as the MMS and FEMA through his appointments and he supposedly kind of believed in those things.

              So, my worry isn’t that the DOE or EPA wouldn’t exist after Paul’s four years. My worry would that they’d be in shambles after those four years.

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              • Well, I can’t argue with that.  And following that line of thought, I suppose a President Paul’s best strategy would be not to appoint someone he though was competent enough to actually kill off the agency, but to appoint someone thoroughly incompetent to do anything at all with it.

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                • I’d make the argument that anybody Ron Paul thinks would be a good pick to head the Department of Energy would be a horrible person to run the Department of Energy, but then somebody might claim I’m saying no libertarian could effectively run the Department of Energy. :)

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                    • Yes, yes, the government badly investing in a solar company is equal to the total of the Teapot Dome scandal, Watergate, Whitewater, Iran-Contra, and the entirety of the Iraq War.

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                    • If I were a partisan like you, I’d be running from this as well. I mean, it isn’t all THAT damning, only $16 of 20 Billion in loans the DOE has guaranteed were to Obama related companies. The next shoe to fall of course will be the remaining failing companies, no doubt there are emails going out as we speak demanding these folks not lay anyone off until after the next election, kind of like the ones that Solyndra got before the 2010 election.

                      It matches your intellectual ability however that your best response was a tu quoque argument.

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              • At the risk of sounding way too unicorns and rainbows:  the other argument is that to the extent a President Paul is able to pare down some of these agencies without gutting them (legislation won’t allow it), it might increase their competence because they are focusing on few, important issues.  I would have no problem with a slimmer DoE or EPA that were more effective at doing less things.  Instead of chasing after political power via the white house.

                I know, I know, I’m a dreamer . . .

                 

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                  • Jesse,

                    To the extent that the DoE is a funnel of taxpayer money to rent seeking companies, I could do without that.  On the other hand, I support their oversight of our nuclear arsenal.  To be blunt, I have almost no idea of all the things that fall under the EPA.  I would hazard a guess that few people do.

                    Perhaps the EPA is in ship shape with little waste and is entirely focused on carrying out its duties as written in legislation and spends very little time playing political power games.  My gut instinct (having worked for the feds – not the EPA) is not.

                    I wasn’t trying to have a scope of government argument, per se here.  I am merely stipulating that sometimes agencies (and businesses and people) need a kick in the pants politically and budget-wise to really focus on core competencies.  And that in the long run those shocks can be good things.

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                    • Renee, the EPA has done such a great job with the Superfund, how could you not trust them with everything else? I’ve had the great good pleasure of living within 80 miles of a Superfund site, which puts me in good company given that 90% of Americans share this geographical anomaly. Like them, I too could watch nothing whatsoever get done by the EPA through the 25th anniversary 6 years ago. The EPA /has/ done one good thing however. They’ve drastically slowed down the addition of new sites into the Superfund database so their inept incompetence at dealing with same wouldn’t look quite so bad. But hey, why let facts get in the way of a good scam?

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                    • Superfund is one of the laughable Republican gifts to the rich – these days it’s all about making the taxpayers pay for the environmental abuses perpetrated by the Republican robber baron masters. Reagan annd Bush Sr hamstrung it through the 1980s when it required the industries responsible for the waste sites to pay for the cleanup, and in the 1990s one of the first thing the Republicans did once they took Congress was to eliminate the “polluter pays” language to let the robber barons off scot free.

                      Feel free to blame the EPA for “incompetence” all you want, wardsmith, anyone who’s bothered to look at the history sees it as Republican interference.

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                    • Jesse,

                      In other words, cutting for the sake of cutting.

                      I can see how it might look that way to you, but your dismissal seems a little too quick for me.

                      From my experience (which is, granted, biased based on my world view), government agencies are like biological systems:  they seek viability and growth.  To do so, they constantly seek out new ways to justify their existence and increase their scope.  Perhaps you have heard of turf battles between agencies – there is a reason for that.  This is not a rant against bureaucrats, it is simply in the nature of what systems do.

                      Is trimming trees and bushes in a garden  ‘cutting for the sake of cutting’?  I suppose you could view it that way.  But I don’t see gardeners as malicious – I see them as caretakers.  Is it possible to trim a bush so far that it dies?  Yes, and I did not advocate eliminating these agencies or their functions.  (In fact, the whole point of what I wrote is that it is extremely unlikely that that would happen).  But the notion that all cuts are bad just because they are cuts is as goofy as the notion that all government agencies are evil because they are the government.

                      It was my stipulation that cuts may actually increase the health of these agencies . . . I suspect you disagree.  That’s cool.

                       

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                  • , You’ve done a brilliant job of articulating (from an insider’s perspective) exactly what I feel to be the primary disease of bureaucratic bloat. Mike most certainly didn’t click on the link I provided, nor would he be inclined to read anything therein, he’s only looking for “points” to score in the mental masturbation game he’s playing.But if this is truly /our/ government, it isn’t them vs us, but us vs us.

                    I’ve already posted this elsewhere, but you just can’t repeat the truth often enough – government bureaucrat job security if off the charts, you are indeed more likely to die than quit (or be fired). I say this as someone whose father worked decades for the Atomic Energy Commission and was directly and intimately involved with nuclear testing and had the highest security clearance a civilian can have. But over time he quite literally couldn’t stomach (severe ulcers) the bureaucracy around him. He quit to enter the rough-and-tumble of business life and economically would have been much better off to have stayed in the gov’t – but he was never happier than on the outside, being his own man.

                    I can’t think of a single gov’t agency that wouldn’t improve dramatically with a little pruning (or a lot). Even a woman with already beautiful tresses can be prettier after a visit to the hairdressers.

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                    • NOAA’s fine. the Weather Service is fine. Most of the places bought/run by scientists are relatively low in terms of bureacracy, cause scientists self-govern pretty decent, and nobody wants to kill the golden goose. That, and no scientist wants to be a petty bureaucrat.

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  10. Eric,

    I am waiting on the Paul fans to descend upon you for daring to criticize their man.

    They have a remarkable track record with you.

    :)

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  11. Answering James above.

    calling Obama overly partisan because he actually proposed an alternative to the Republican proposals

    First off, why don’t you show me exactly what ‘Obama proposed alternative’ you have? Links would be most helpful here, no hand waving allowed. And I mean a real Obama proposal, not something from Reid or Pelosi’s camps.

    As a “professional” and a teacher on the subject, I recommend you watch and more importantly really listen to the full speech that I only linked a snippet of above. Especially in the last third of his speech, he gives legitimate executive branch advice and criticism of this president. There’s a good reason that our best presidents have actual executive  rather than merely legislative experience.

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      • Perhaps ex-governor Corzine (D) could give some instruction to him on leaving someone on the hook for $billions? And if you’re talking ARC, I think you need to go back to school and learn the difference between millions and billions. But if you want crony politics, it don’t get any better than the penal colony New Jersey has been for the past 6 decades.

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    • And I mean a real Obama proposal, not something from Reid or Pelosi’s camps.

      What is that supposed to mean, Ward?  Did the Republicans propose something that was not in line with their party’s leadership?  On what basis do you single out the president and say only he shouldn’t propose something in line with his party?

      Did you rip on Bush for proposing budgets that satisfied his party leaders in Congress, and not the Democrats?

      Really, I don’t care which presidents and which party affiliations we’re talking about, applying your argument is silly. That’s not how presidents behave, and it’s disingenuous to criticize Obama for behaving like prior presidents.

      I can’t see that you’re asking both sides to play by the same rules, and that’s my primary critique of ideological politics.  An important role for me as a professor is to try to get students to judge each side by the same standards.  Would you be criticizing Obama if he were a Republican facing a Democratic House, and he proposed something from the Boehner or McConell camps?

      Judge each side by the same standards–that’s all I’m saying here.

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      • James, the criticism on the table is that Obama is a do-nothing president. I had some hope for you when you said he had a proposal (although frantic Googling didn’t help me find anything). That’s why I asked for a link. Executive branch officers don’t just “punt” to their legislative branch if it happens to be in power. Or are you going to tell me Johnson just pushed through something his fellow southern democrats were oh so anxious to pass?

        Did I rip on Bush’s fiscal policies? Hell yeah I did, I was one (of many) voices saying they were spending money like Democrats. Then in 2007 the Democrats took over, and began… spending money like Democrats. Unfortunately the electorate punishing the GOP didn’t solve the inherent spending problem, in fact they got worse. Let’s count the ways shall we?

         

         

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        • James, the criticism on the table is that Obama is a do-nothing president.

          It is?  I did not get that from;

          • BHO is cut from the cloth of machine politics and is a steely eyed pragmatist to the core
          • BHO plays for keeps and never plays fair (why should he?_).
          • Pause a moment while Jesse and Chris scramble to find /current/ examples of BHO supposedly being non-partisan AFTER he got his proverbial ass handed to him in the mid-term elections.
          • Non-partisan politics my ass

          Although in all fairness, there is also this;

          • Obama is letting his speechwriters govern the country while he works on this golf game and fund raising prowess.

          I think perhaps there are two issues on the table, no?  I’m not particularly in disagreement with you on the do-nothing par.  But I will not that you’re not exactly right about executive branch officers not “punting”–they can just appear to punt, while actually exercising a hidden-hand presidency, ala Eisenhower.  While I’m not persuaded, my Republican insider/poli sci prof friend pitches a damn good argument that this is the strategy Obama’s using (although not as effectively as Ike, because he doesn’t have the national hero/non-partisan status Ike did).

          But you do seem to me to be condemning his partisanship in a way that appears to be judging him by different standards.  And your criticism of Bush budgets doesn’t undermine that impression, because you’re criticizing him for not being partisan enough!

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          • Hardly enough here to respond to. I’m reasonably certain you’ve heard the term Campaigner in Chief before?

            So I’m going to say I’m in complete agreement with you that Obama is a do-nothing president with the caveat that doing nothing excludes being a partisan spokesman for your party under the guise of “campaigning”.

            In terms of actually governing the country? Do nothing fits. Obama is by no means a principled idealist in the mold of say, Ron Paul (the subject of the OP as I recall) but rather a cardboard cutout of the perfect political vehicle for the Democratic party. The whole budget strategy of the Democrats was to have the Republicans be the adults in the room and get criticized for it. With a compliant MSM (including non-airwave outlets mind you like the NYT, magazines and so on) they have largely succeeded in perpetuating that meme. Only the wonks dig deeper to get at the truth of this (and it takes a LOT of digging, see MSM above).

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            • Ward,

              Presidential scholars date the advent of the permanent campaign from the Clinton presidency.  It didn’t diminish during the Bush presidency.  It hasn’t diminished during the Obama presidency.  Odds are, it won’t diminish under the presidents that follow Obama, regardless of party.  It’s the new normal, and in many ways is just a natural extension of the practice of “going public” that was an innovation a century ago.

              And while I remain not fully persuaded that Obama is trying to exercise a hidden-hand presidency (I think he wasn’t prepared to be president, didn’t actually expect, until late in the primaries to get it, and has never really been sure what he wants to do with it, other than to just “be” the president), I think the argument has to be taken seriously by anyone who wants to be taken seriously in discussing Obama’s presidency.

              Keep in mind people thought Eisenhower was a do-nothing president, too.  While Obama’s clearly no Eisenhower, the reality of a hidden-hand presidency is precisely that it looks from the outside just like a do-nothing presidency.  But as my friend points out to me, the President determines whether and which of his subordinates go to Capitol Hill to testify and lobby, and a lot of the President’s Capitol Hill work has been done through his subordinates.

               

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                    • Here is the problem that I have, Tom.

                      It seems to me that 1994-1998 is one data point and 2002-2006 is another data point. They both strike me as about as equally relevant as each other in any given discussion of what modern Republicans are like… but 2002-2006 is weighted a little bit heavier due to it being a bit more recent and there also being a Republican President at the time.

                      Here’s where the rubber meets the road for me:

                      I have no reason, none, to believe that the Republican Party as it exists today believes that it should be acting the way it did in 1994-1998. (In talking to Koz, I sometimes get the feeling that he doesn’t see a difference in how the Republicans acted between 1994-1998 and 2002-2006.)

                      Given that I don’t get the feeling from the Republican Party (and Koz makes a great instantiation of the Republican Party for this reason alone) that they feel like they did anything wrong, that their behavior was something “unRepublican”, or anything worth *ACKNOWLEDGING* (let alone apologizing for!), I don’t get the feeling that the Republicans have changed since 2006 in the direction of 1998.

                      That feeling is, as far as I can tell, unshakable. (But it’s not like many on the right have argued against it… more like they point at the D’s and say “well, they’re *EVEN WORSE*!!!!” as if that were indicative of virtue on their part.)

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                    • Ah, Proxmire’s golden fleece awards. Remember them well (and the umbrage he took from his fellow Democrats for it). He did give us the proverbial $600 toilet seat outrage and the $25,000 golden fleece of his own (his hairplugs). I’d definitely put him up there with my favorite Democrats cut from a mold that no longer seems to exist. His last two campaigns he famously refused any campaign contributions and spent less than $200 getting himself re-elected. This during an era when the laws were written to allow a congresscritter to keep (tax free) any excess unspent campaign moolah. When will we ever see anyone like THAT again?

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                    • JB, I have no problem with “throw the bums out.”  I shed nary a tear in 2006, or in 2008.  You gotta believe me on this.  I took it like a man.  It might be the only hope for democracy.

                      Pick your set of bums in 2012, and throw ’em out.  I’m good either way; you seem to be a reasonable man.

                      Then throw them out 2 or 4 or 8 years after that.  It’s the only way we can keep the bums out.

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                    • Tom, you’re on a roll–“sending like drunken Kennedy’s”–God that was funny!    I suspect that most people on this site just never get your sense of humor. I, for one, do.  ” Locusts will eat the whole damn farm!

                      Keep me laughing, I beg.      God created Liberals  to make sane people laugh.  And are they funny. May they never leave–how would the human race survive without the laughter they cause?

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        • I love how you retardicans can hold so many disparate views of Obama at once.

          At the same time he’s a “do-nothing president”, who “plays too much golf” (far less golf than either your hero Reagan or Bush Sr did), he’s also responsible for health care reform, responsible for credit card and banking reform, and oh don’t forget, he’s “leading this country down the road to socialism” even though he’s a “do nothing president who doesn’t lead.”

          Do you even LISTEN to yourselves? Or is the daily Two Hours’ Hate from the Big Fat Druggie just that powerful a brainwashing?

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  12. Pingback: Ask a Republican — The League of Ordinary Gentlemen

  13. Jesse: Is Solyndra overblown?  Of course, because it hits partisan and ideological (green energy = those damn hippies) buttons.  However, that doesn’t change that it is an indication of the larger problem behind government intervention in energy.

    We currently subsidize in some form or another oil, gas, ethanol, etc.  We should subsidize nothing.  No special breaks, no guaranteed loans, no intervention on energy companies’ behalf overseas, absolutely zilch.

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    • I’d prefer that over the current situation, even though I think the most fair thing to do would be to end all tax breaks and subsidies for oil and coal now and only extend those tax subsidies and credit for as long as the oil and coal companies had them. :)

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  14. This post, as well as Ron Paul’s surprisingly good standing in the polls (especially Iowa), is tempting me to vote for Paul over Gary Johnson, who is my preferred candidate by a mile. But he may as well not even be running.

    Ron Paul winning the Republican primary would be “good for America.” Civil liberties abuses and illiberal executive power grabs will barely be mentioned in the general election otherwise.

     

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  15. It is remarkable seeing people who claim to care deeply about liberty stray anywhere near Ron Paul, as his policy proposals will significantly decrease the aggregate amount of liberty in the United States, by simultaneously making most of us much poorer and throwing freedoms protect by federal fiat back to the states who are unlikely to be anywhere near as friendly to minority concerns as the federal government is.

    It is an ugly thing to say and I’m not entirely certain that it is true given the importance of alleged importance of liberty to Paul’s supporters, but what they seem to constantly crave is more freedom for themselves, and if that means minorities and gays and women suffer (which they will), then so be it.

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    • It’s remarkable to me that the status of the middle class in America is more important to liberals than the actual lives of foreigners who our Democratic and Republican leaders gleefully drop bombs on.

      Nor am I sure how Paul’s policies would – in aggregate – decrease liberty in the US. I’m not particularly taken with state’s rights thinking, but even then I can see many ways that rolling back the federal government could actively increase liberty. Ask any medical marijuana dispensary operator in California.

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      • I believe the “actual liberals” you’re referencing were part of a massive anti-war movement that was repeatedly shat upon by the powers-that-be, both Republican and sometimes Democrat alike. I’m baffled as to how you can claim that those liberals (the ones to the left of Obama) are somehow themselves pro-war. That those same people then proceed to also care about the dwindling American middle-class, a group who Ron Paul frankly seeks to plunge into outright economic subjugation, is equally baffling. Who are these liberals that you’re referencing?

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        • As for Paul’s non-economic policies…a return to a state’s rights first model, as advocated by Paul, would almost certainly lead to the functional end of abortion access (and, potentially, birth control access) for the vast majority of American women, as well as rolled back voting rights, reintroductions of plainly biased sodomy laws in numerous US states, and plainly draconian treatment under other laws that the federal government has prevented states from fully implementing. So while I appreciate that some cancer patients in some states would be able to smoke marijuana (and I genuinely do appreciate this about Paul), I wonder if you’re not discounting these other losses of liberty because they plainly do not affect you personally.

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          • Sam:

            You wrote of those who think that Ron Paul would increase liberty: ” what they seem to constantly crave is more freedom for themselves” and that ” remarkable seeing people who claim to care deeply about liberty stray anywhere near Ron Paul, as his policy proposals will significantly decrease the aggregate amount of liberty.”

            That those who support Ron Paul do so in no small part because it would  indisputably mean an end to the indiscriminate dropping of bombs on foreigners would seem to contradict your theory.  Obama has been rather a failure in this regard, no?

            Erik is merely pointing out that, even assuming your characterization of the effects of a Ron Paul presidency is correct (and I think a lot of folks would dispute that), you’re still left with:

            1. Obama, who indiscriminately bombs foreigners but at least protects domestic liberties pretty well (according to your view and definition), versus

            2. Paul, who would not indiscriminately bomb foreigners, but also would not (in your view) protect domestic liberties.

            You cavalierly assert that 1 is ok for liberty, but 2 would be disastrous for liberty, and that anyone who thinks 2 would be good for liberty is clearly concerned only with their own liberty.

            That’s what Erik is responding to.

             

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            • Mark,

              I believe the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are slightly more complicated than you are describing them, but I acknowledge that the deaths of innocent foreigners is a terrible thing. Obama gets no pass for what he has done, although he does deserve a more thorough understanding of why he has done it (including the fact that he started neither war and has winded one down: Iraq).

              I, however, remain suspicious that the majority of those supporting Ron Paul are doing so because they are carefully invested in his foreign policy. In fact, I would describe those backing Paul for his position there to be in the minority. I think it is far more likely that those supporting him are doing so not because they are peaceniks (a fine thing to be), but because they see personal benefit coming their way as a result of his election. I doubt that E.D. Kain (or you, perhaps) are members of this majority of Paul supporters, but do you really believe that there is an enormous crossover between the anti-war protestors of the early 2000’s and the Paulite supporters now?

              Meanwhile, I find it preposterous to willfully ignore what a Paul presidency might mean to huge swathes of this nation’s people. Fine if you prioritize others ahead of Americans but surely what a Paul presidency would mean WITHIN the nation he is proposing to govern would matter at some point.

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              • What precisely do you believe Ron Paul will do… not what he may want to do, but what he can actually accomplish politically… that will result in something that will affect huge swathes of the nation’s people (presumably negatively).

                I’m just curious as to your list.

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                • He’d immediately ground this nation’s government to halt, either by signing legislation designed to whither on the vine various federal programs or creating an endless government shut down with his veto pen. So either he gets his $1 trillion in immediate cuts right away (which wrecks the American economy) or he shuts down the government (which wrecks the American economy).

                  He’d appoint judges whenever and wherever possible who would undo Roe-vs-Wade. (And without Roe-vs-Wade, states can suddenly get into the business of legislatively passing personhood laws that would undo access not only to abortion, which is bad enough, but birth control too.)

                  He wouldn’t use the federal government to protect civil rights like voting, because he doesn’t believe the federal government should get involved, so outright voting restrictions implemented across the United States by Republicans desperate to keep minorities from voting would either go unchallenged or they’d run into the same judges he had appointed to undo Roe-vs-Wade, judges unlikely to be any more sympathetic to minority voters than they are to women).

                  He would allow for states to re-introduce anti-sodomy laws, again by promoting judges who would overturn decisions like Lawrence-vs-Texas, allowing for state governments to crack down upon gay citizens. He would do this, like so many other plainly anti-liberty things, under the auspices of letting states have the freedom to make their own decision, refusing to recognize that states have frequently been AWFUL laboratories for the blossoming of civil rights.

                  That’d be what he would consider a good start.

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                  • Shortest possible: I find most of what you put here to be extremely implausible.

                    He’d immediately ground this nation’s government to halt, either by signing legislation designed to whither on the vine various federal programs or creating an endless government shut down with his veto pen.

                    He’d have to have an override-proof veto.  All the political theater aside, I don’t see Congress taking too kindly to being told how to spend money any more than the Supreme Court takes to kindly to being told what cases they can take.

                    So I don’t find this terribly credible, personally (note: I’m not voting for the guy myself, I just think this scenario isn’t plausible enough to choose not to vote for him on these grounds).

                    So either he gets his $1 trillion in immediate cuts right away (which wrecks the American economy) or he shuts down the government (which wrecks the American economy).

                    Even granting your first point (which I didn’t), one can make the case that the American economy is already wrecked and in order for it to actually start a real recovery, it needs to go through the pain.  I’m unfortunately a believer in this particular point myself.  However, this pales into insignificance because Congress isn’t going to let it happen.
                    He’d appoint judges whenever and wherever possible who would undo Roe-vs-Wade.

                    He would never get a SCOTUS candidate who would overturn Roe past Congress.  Not ever.  There could be three Democrats left in Congress and they’d fillibuster this if they ever wanted to regain any sort of political power in the country.  If it was 20 years from now and the political landscape looked different, this might be an issue.  As it stands, not so much.

                    (And without Roe-vs-Wade, states can suddenly get into the business of legislatively passing personhood laws that would undo access not only to abortion, which is bad enough, but birth control too.)

                    If Mississippi (one of the more reliably antiabortion states in the nation) fails to pass a personhood amendment by a wide margin, I think this is another bit of political calculus you can safely table as, “about as likely as a snowstorm in Death Valley on July 4th weekend”.

                    He wouldn’t use the federal government to protect civil rights like voting, because he doesn’t believe the federal government should get involved, so outright voting restrictions implemented across the United States by Republicans desperate to keep minorities from voting…

                    I’m going to pass on this paragraph because it’s too complicated to untangle briefly.  You need to do a bit more lifting here.

                     He would allow for states to re-introduce anti-sodomy laws, again by promoting judges who would overturn decisions like Lawrence-vs-Texas, allowing for state governments to crack down upon gay citizens.

                    Since there are a number of gay members of the League who might be better placed to assess this one, I’ll let them speak to it.  Also: I don’t think “overturning Lawrence vs Texas” is quite as straightforward as you think it is.

                    Also, Burt might even cover Lawrence vs Texas soon, so there’s that.

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                    • As we have seen with Obama, our government is built for gridlock and glacial change.

                      President Paul would be hemmed in and motivated by the same factors of coalition building and re-election calculus as anyone else.

                      Not that he couldn’t do some tremendous damage in the meantime, but sweeping changes on the scale of libertarian dreams just aren’t in the works.

                      Try shutting down one single military base, and you will leave blood on the floor of Congress.

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                    • 1. Paul’s appointments would be as big a deal as anything, and as everybody knows, Republicans have an easier time of getting hardline conservatives onto the bench that Democrats do of getting mainstream liberals.

                      2. The likelihood of getting 2/3s of the Congress to agree on anything – even apple pie – is practically nil. Thus, getting 2/3s of them together to override Paul’s vetos of budgets strikes me as unlikely, given that you’d need moderate Republicans, moderate Democrats, and the few hardline liberals to all agree on a budget.

                      3. If Roe-vs-Wade gets axed by the Supreme Court, you don’t need Constitutional Amendments to state Constitutions anymore. You just pass it through the legislative body and get the governor to signoff. Mississipi’s residents were asked this time; without Roe-vs-Wade, there’d be no reason to do that anymore.

                      4. Paul has always been hostile to civil rights laws, believing the market is more likely to fix these problems than governments are (despite all evidence to the contrary). Now you’re telling me he’d go to bat to protect the voting rights of people that he has generally spent a career being hostile to and people that are unlikely to reward his defense of their freedoms with votes?

                      5. The point about the judges stands on sodomy laws and marriage laws too. He supports the Defense of Marriage Act publicly. He abhors Lawrence-vs-Texas decision. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_positions_of_Ron_Paul#Sexual_orientation_legislation) The way you get around those is appointing judges who are friendlier to the rights of states because you know what laws those states are going to immediately pass if they get the opportunity to do so (like laws that crack down on unwanted or unappreciated citizenry.)

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                    • Paul’s appointments would be as big a deal as anything, and as everybody knows, Republicans have an easier time of getting hardline conservatives onto the bench that Democrats do of getting mainstream liberals.

                      Everybody knows this?  This is standard political wisdom?  Whelp, count me as a nobody then, I guess.

                      How many “hardline conservatives” by your count, are currently on the Court?  Identify them, please?  When were they appointed, by which Presidents, and with what sort of confirmation vote?  How many “mainstream liberals” are on the Court?  Identify them, please?  When were *they* appointed, by which Presidents, and what sort of confirmation vote?

                      2. The likelihood of getting 2/3s of the Congress to agree on anything – even apple pie – is practically nil. Thus, getting 2/3s of them together to override Paul’s vetos of budgets strikes me as unlikely, given that you’d need moderate Republicans, moderate Democrats, and the few hardline liberals to all agree on a budget.

                      I will bet you, right now $1,000 that if a sitting President vetoed a major federal government spending bill and then vetoed the next bill spent to his/her desk, the poltical dynamic between the President and Congress would be so starkly different from what it is today that coalitions in Congress would look like nothing seen in the last 50 years.  Maybe the last 100.  This sort of inter-branch feuding hasn’t been seen since FDR tried to stack the Court.

                      Decision-making processes that are embedded by long standing organizational culture are radically altered when extreme scenarios occur.  I can’t imagine anything more extreme than a President blanket-vetoing any spending bill that didn’t cut the Federal budget in half.  Congress would collectively crap all over said President.

                      Political calculus aside, partisan politics aside, I know enough about how organizations respond to crisis and extreme scenarios to make that prediction with a high degree of certainty.

                      3. If Roe-vs-Wade gets axed by the Supreme Court, you don’t need Constitutional Amendments to state Constitutions anymore. You just pass it through the legislative body and get the governor to signoff. Mississipi’s residents were asked this time; without Roe-vs-Wade, there’d be no reason to do that anymore.

                      Roe vs. Wade will not be axed by the Supreme Court within our lifetimes.  The political fallout to the Democrats would effectively kill it as a major party.  As long as there is one Senator who votes (D) on party platform standards the Court will never be stacked this way.

                      4. Paul has always been hostile to civil rights laws, believing the market is more likely to fix these problems than governments are (despite all evidence to the contrary). Now you’re telling me he’d go to bat to protect the voting rights of people that he has generally spent a career being hostile to and people that are unlikely to reward his defense of their freedoms with votes?

                      This point is still too squishy to engage.  I have to accept far too many assertions to even get to the point where I can untangle your point.

                      Here’s why I don’t think this is an issue, to be honest.  Every single politician in the United States knows what the demographic trends are for the country.  Every single national-level politician in the United States pays attention to trending in their constituency.

                      The number of GOP positions that have demographic entrenchment that will protect them from charges of eliminating the voting rights of minorities dwindles each election cycle.  By 2020, a national political party that doesn’t account for this is dead meat.  Read this, for more.  Keep in mind, that’s based on the demographic trends of *voters*, not simply citizens or residents.

                      5. The point about the judges stands on sodomy laws and marriage laws too.

                      Honestly, IMO this is part of the culture war that is lost on the conservative side.  I just don’t see your worst case scenario being close to likely.

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                    • On this appointments issue, you’re treating Paul as one who would make appointments just like most conservatives, without any regard for individual civil liberties, because of his views on states’ rights.  That strikes me as more than a little myopic – if he has emphasized anything in his speeches over the last five years (outside of the Fed perhaps), it has been the issue of unconstitutional detentions by the federal government, warrantless searches and wiretaps, etc.

                      It’s probably safe to assume that he’d be at least equally interested in appointing judges who would be reliable civil liberties votes on those issues as he would be in appointing judge who would be reliable supporters of states’ rights on other issues.

                      Suffice to say that the set of people who are:

                      1. Strong civil libertarians on the GWOT; and

                      2. Strong supporters of states’ rights; and

                      3. Capable of being confirmed by the Senate for a judgeship of any sort

                      …is an exceptionally small group of people.  The overwhelming majority of folks who fit in group 1 and are capable of being confirmed by the Senate are liberal Democrats; the overwhelming majority of folks who fit in group 2 and are capable of being confirmed are conservative Republicans.  If his emphasis these last five years on civil liberties means anything at all, he’d pretty much have to try to appoint at least as many liberal Democrats as  conservative Republicans.

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                    • Patrick:

                      -Four hardline conservatives (Roberts and Alito[Bush II], Thomas[Bush], Scalia[Reagan]). One moderate conservative (Kennedy[Reagan]). Three moderate liberals (Breyer [Clinton], Kagan and Sotomayor[Obama]). One hardline liberal (Ginsburg [Clinton]). Meanwhile, I’m not sure as to why the confirmation votes matter. They were all confirmed. Isn’t that all that matters?

                      -If Roe-vs-Wade was overturned, I’m highly suspicious that the Democrats would be ruined as a party. Where would aggrieved voters turn to? Republicans? They very party that had stripped women of a right make healthcare decisions as it relates to their own body?

                      -It is fine to look at and note long-term trends, but what happens today, what happens tomorrow, what happens next week and month and year I’d argue is more important than what politics looks like 10 years from now. Those 10 years do, after all, matter. So, for example, even if gay marriage and anti-sodomy laws are lost causes for conservatives (and they probably are, mercifully), short term implementation of bad designed to ruin lives and families can still occur, and would do so with President Paul’s implicit support.

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                  • He’d immediately ground this nation’s government to halt, either by signing legislation designed to whither on the vine various federal programs

                    This assumes such legislation would actually pass. I find this highly unlikely for a variety of reasons.  Suffice to say that a Ron Paul win would probably have the opposite of coattails, because: 1. he doesn’t exactly have a good relationship with any portion of the GOP or conservative establishments; and 2. largely because of that, in order to win, he would need to get a lot of votes from liberals frustrated with Obama.  He is not someone who can get the votes of many centrists.

                    or creating an endless government shut down with his veto pen. So either he gets his $1 trillion in immediate cuts right away (which wrecks the American economy) or he shuts down the government (which wrecks the American economy).

                    This is more likely, and a wholly valid concern.  Indeed it is why I’m personally not entirely certain I would vote for him in the general election.  That said, it’s conceivable that any intransigence by Paul on this would have the effect of getting a lot of Republicans to suddenly become huge fans of big spending bills such that these bills would become veto proof.

                    He’d appoint judges whenever and wherever possible who would undo Roe-vs-Wade.

                    My understanding on this is that he’s denounced the idea of a Roe  litmus test on judges, but I admit that I could be wrong.  Regardless, on this point it’s tough to see that he’d be any worse than any of the other Republicans.

                    He wouldn’t use the federal government to protect civil rights like voting, because he doesn’t believe the federal government should get involved, so outright voting restrictions implemented across the United States by Republicans desperate to keep minorities from voting would either go unchallenged or they’d run into the same judges he had appointed to undo Roe-vs-Wade, judges unlikely to be any more sympathetic to minority voters than they are to women).

                    Again, I don’t see how he’s worse than other Republicans on this point.  Indeed, my suspicion is that he’d be better.  After all, this is someone who has openly stated that he would like to appoint Dennis Kucinich to a cabinet post.  Frankly, I would not be surprised if he tried to get a Greenwald-style liberal appointed as AG, as there are not many Republicans that come to mind who would be interested in doing the sorts of things Paul wants to do to the FBI, DHS, etc.

                    He would allow for states to re-introduce anti-sodomy laws, again by promoting judges who would overturn decisions like Lawrence-vs-Texas, allowing for state governments to crack down upon gay citizens.

                    Again, I’m not seeing how he’s worse on this than other Republicans.  At least he can say that he voted to overturn DADT.

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                    • Good grief, I’m not for any of the other Republican candidates. I certainly hope I haven’t accidentally suggested otherwise. They’re awful. My point is simply that people invested heavily in the idea that a Ron Paul presidency will lead to an aggregate increase in total liberty might be wrong, for at least some of the reasons that I’ve laid out all over this and other threads.

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                    • My point is simply that people invested heavily in the idea that a Ron Paul presidency will lead to an aggregate increase in total liberty might be wrong

                      Oh, sure.  Everybody might be wrong.  You’re using a lot of “would” and “will” yourself, though :)

                      Certainly most people who voted for Obama didn’t think that he’d follow GWB’s unitary executive, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, etc. policies and expand them, either.

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                    • Had you written this:

                      My point is simply that people invested heavily in the idea that a Ron Paul presidency will lead to an aggregate increase in total liberty might be wrong,

                      in the beginning, instead of this:

                      It is remarkable seeing people who claim to care deeply about liberty stray anywhere near Ron Paul,his policy proposals will significantly decrease the aggregate amount of liberty in the United States…what [Paul voters] seem to constantly crave is more freedom for themselves, and if that means minorities and gays and women suffer (which they will), then so be it.

                      then I suspect there would not have been much pushback. Certainly, there would not have been any pushback from me.  If there was pushback from others, then I probably would have in fact leapt to your defense.  The original statement comes across as “you’re a self-centered asshole who doesn’t really care about liberty if you support Ron Paul, or indeed “stray anywhere near” him.'”  This reads as a personal attack on anyone who supports Ron Paul in any manner (for either the primaries or general) or even anyone who would so much as entertain the possibility that Paul would be a better President for liberty than Obama.  Moreover, given the reasons why a good chunk of people, especially around these parts, have a lot of sympathy for Ron Paul are closely related to the whole “won’t bomb foreigners” issue, it comes across as extraordinarily glib, effectively suggesting that issue is minor.

                      By contrast, the more recent statement comes across as “you might want to think about this a little more, and here’s why…”

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                    • Mark,

                      Your point is taken. I would like to emphasize that in a situation in which Paul did have the ability to implement his policy proposals fully (a compliant and supportive Congress, etc), his politics would lead to an aggregate decrease in liberty for millions.

                      Of course, Paul would get absolutely decimated in a national election (something he is unlikely to get to anyway, at least as a Republican candidate), this conversation is more theoretical than anything.

                       

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              • I, however, remain suspicious that the majority of those supporting Ron Paul are doing so because they are carefully invested in his foreign policy….I think it is far more likely that those supporting him are doing so…because they see personal benefit coming their way

                Of course the way this is phrased, it’s clear that you’ve made your conclusion and there’s no response that could cause you to adjust your opinion.

                So what’s the point of even bothering to discuss it anymore?

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                • James,

                  I have made a conclusion that can be easily changed. We’re talking on a website, not carving answers into stone tablets. If you have evidence you’d like for me to consider, by all means provide it and I will.

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                    • You’re the one claiming that most Paul supporters aren’t that interested in foreign policy.  I think it’s incumbent upon you to provide evidence first.

                      No, what he says (as you quote him) is, “I, however, remain suspicious that the majority of those supporting Ron Paul are doing so because they are carefully invested in his foreign policy….I think it is far more likely that those supporting him are doing so…because they see personal benefit coming their way.”  Now, granted, he shouldn’t conclude the latter part without evidence, but at the same time he isn’t claimin it is true; he merely thinks it is more likely than not, and not saying that because it is true, we should all believe it.  But that’s not even the claim you’re taking up: with respect to what you raise, namely what he says about how many Ron Paul supporters support Paul “because they are carefully invested in his foreign policy” (whatever that means – I think he meant and should have said, “primarily because of his foreign policy views”), he simply says he is skeptical about claims that that number is a majority of supporters.  If you want to show him and us that it is a majority of supporters, you need to do so.

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                    • To be fair, I’d like to find polling on this, because I’m reflecting my interaction with the Paul supporters that I have met, people who have tended to be focused on economic, rather than foreign policy, reasons for endorsing the man. Perhaps the people I’ve met are the outliers and the people here are the dominants in the group. I’m certainly willing to acknowledge such a thing if we can find the numbers somewhere.

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            • Except Obama doesn’t indiscriminately bomb foreigners.  He attempts discrimination, and in war there are errors.  Further, you may differ with  his criteria for discrimination, but it is cavalier and unsupportable to say that he indiscriminately bombs anyone.

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  16. It’s remarkable to me that the status of the middle class in America is more important to liberals than the actual lives of foreigners who our Democratic and Republican leaders gleefully drop bombs on.

    This.

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    • Would you guys mind listing the things that it would be okay for liberals to feel are more important than the al lives of foreigners who (sic) our Democratic and Republican leaders gleefully drop bombs on?  What kind of liberals do you guys think are being talked about here?  And is the list different for people who aren’t liberals?  If not, why are we talking about liberals?  Erik talked about liberals and the middle class, but of course liberals care about the economy generally, many of them more than these peoples’ lives.  They care about other things more than these peoples’ lives beyond that.  As do lots of other people.  Is all of that wrong (or, “remarkable” – one can remark on anything) too?  it seems to me that Erik’s “middle class” reference just happened to feed into James’ well-established stalking horse.  Erik might have phrased it differently and gotten a different, or no, response from James; I don’t know how James’ system of judging other peoples’ priorities works exactly.  Care to make this a little more systematic, guys?

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      • Michael, my phrasing is a direct response to the incessant refraining from liberals over this post. I apparently don’t care about poor or working Americans, minorities or women because of this post. Well then.

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        • I don’t have a problem with your phrasing, Erik, as I said, I just think what it precisely was had something to do with why your point elicited James’ vigorous assent.

          I haven’t read the whole thread, but I have my doubts that people are telling you they think you don’t care about these things, but rather that they are emphasizing to you what they think are the costs of support for Paul for priorities they think you do care about.  There’s no reason to pretend those don’t exist.  And frankly, looking over the thread, I don’t even see where tht is happening all that much.  Sam says that if you care about liberty for Americans, Paul doesn’t advocate for as much of it, as Sam thinks liberty is rightly understood, as he is often said to do.  Sam really doesn’t deal with where dropping bombs fits into that, and nowhere does he say you don’t care about poor and working Americans and American women.

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      • Mark,

        I’m not sure, from a moral standpoint, anything can is legitimate to care about more than not killing innocent foreigners.  If we’re being serious about moral arguments, it’s hard even to justify valuing an American’s life over a non-American’s life, right?

        But being somewhat more pragmatic, I’d be fine with liberals being more concerned about our government killing its own innocent citizens than they are about killing other country’s innocent citizens.  And of course many are.

        But I pretty much draw the line there–there are precious few things that we should care more about than the killing of innocent people.  That doesn’t mean I am saying the only principled option is a vote for Paul–I’m just in agreement with E.D. that in response to his OP, “but what about the middle class” just doesn’t cut it.

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        • What about liberals being concerned that Paul’s insistence that foreign aid be zeroed out would cause substantial problems abroad for affected populations? Zeroing out USAID’s budget, cutting all foreign aid that doesn’t fit specific GOP priorities and essentially gutting the ability for federal government agencies to conduct trivial (from an American pov) efforts abroad that have a tangible effect on people’s lives from immunization efforts to simply letting State do its job to provide grants is a substantial cost. The budget of aid is tiny compared to DoD’s, but the marginal impact of a dollar spent there is bigger than a marginal dollar spent bombing someone.

          Also the assumption that  intervention in it of itself is always an unmitigated negative is just that, an assumption. It may not be popular here, but the jury is out on the overall impact of intervention.

          I find this post on intervention at Minerva to be an interesting take on the subject.

          http://duckofminerva.blogspot.com/2011/12/intervention-and-prudence.html

          There’s also the simple fact that the US doesn’t practice foreign policy in a vacuum. The moment US footprints abroad go down there will be a scramble to replace that influence. The security environment DOES get impacted by perceptions of power politics, and “peace” in the way of US non-intervention and disengagement from abroad (outside of no questions asked “free trade” promotion) would have substantial impacts on the calculations of various leaders on the cost benefit analysis of certain policy choices.

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          • I’ve always had it explained to me that American Citizens (and Churches!) will still be allowed to send money to the foreign countries of their choice.

            (I asked “what about Palestinian Charities?” in these discussions and got waved away for trolling.)

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            • Hi Jay. By the way, LTNS, hope all is well.

              Charities are great. I’m a big fan of them.

              That said, they won’t command nearly as much resources or concentrated combinations of expertise and money that say the CCP’s “aid” in Africa would.

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              • This is disputable.

                After the Tohoku earthquake/tsunami:

                “In many countries, both government and private aid campaigns have been organized to offer money and support to the victims and general populace of Japan. Social buying sites have launched on-line campaigns in which several million dollars were raised for relief organizations working in Japan.[103] As of 3 April 2011, the Japanese Red Cross had received over $1 billion in donations in response to the disaster, and dispatched more than 200 emergency relief teams to the disaster zone. However it received criticism from some quarters for not yet having dispensed any cash aid to survivors.[104] The American Red Cross said that it had received $120 million in donations from the US public.[105] The Singapore Red Cross and Japan Association said that, as of 31 March 2011, residents of Singapore had donated S$ 3.15 million for disaster relief.[106]

                The federal government, on the other hand, donated about $80 million in supplies, but also provided a lot of logistical support in the way of military ships and personnel.  However, I don’t believe (personally) that a President Paul would refuse to have the U.S. military provide logistical support in a similar case, as they’re already there and basically a sunk cost (of course, Paul would have a smaller military, so there’s that).

                Private donations after the Indonesian tsunami in the U.S. outweighed government donations by a factor of two.

                IIRC, Haiti’s earthquake response was similar.

                Now, those are all responses to disasters as opposed to ongoing poor conditions on the ground, absolutely granted.  But the contention that private donations won’t take up the slack is not supportable.

                On the other hand, the contention that they will isn’t supportable, either.

                A credible stand would be to roll back many of these things but be prepared, in principle, to potentially put them back.  It is definitely the case that NGOs can operate more effectively in many cases than governmental organizations because they are generally closer to whatever problem they’re trying to solve.

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                • My contention isn’t that private donations won’t pick up the slack of reduced governmental aid on a monetary basis. Rather that private donations can’t make up the CAPABILITIES that governmental aid provides and thus would eventually be made up by other state actors than the United States.

                  Operation Tomodachi had a substantially greater impact on the Tohoku’s aftermath than the sizable Red Cross donations ever did. Likewise one can argue that the Haiti relief efforts would have foundered if not for the logistical support provided by the US Navy.

                  Development isn’t my specialty, but from talking to my friends who deal with it as a career, it’s also pretty clear that NGOs suffer a lot from divided/dissipated effort and a general inability to coordinate on larger scale problems that are difficult to solve.

                  Further a lot of NGO efforts abroad do take a lot of support from local consular or embassy officials who have a good deal of local expertise. If anything the diplomatic cable leaks showed us, it’s that State has some pretty intelligent people working on the ground.

                  As a broader issue, there’s a substantial subset of international norms that have developed over the past half-century under American-centered multilateralism that would be undermined with a rapid, precipitous drop in American participation in IGOs, foreign aid and security commitments. The Right To Protect, whatever one may think about it (and I know it really irritates some non-interventionalists) has changed the cost-benefit analysis of certain actors in terms of how they deal with things like lost elections.

                  The likelihood that the void created by the US in the international system and the subsequent scramble for influence will lead to “peace and trade” is slim. Partly because there’s no unitary actor capable of filling the entirety of the gap that a lack of US intervention capability would create.

                  Instead we’re more likely to end up with limited spheres of influence where there’s power blocs that created limited interactions within them. Arguably China’s overall foreign policy and trade behavior has been geared towards this “bloc creation” policy rather than a true embrace of free trade. It’s worth noting that their reluctance to join TPP is a result of not wanting to pay the regulatory cost of joining a free trade pact (as in accept the conditions of freer trade).

                  I understand the ambivalence towards the current international system where the US seems to intervene with bombs and drone strikes far too often. I have a deep suspicion and dislike of it, too. But to suggest throwing out the entire international security structure it’s part of would lead to “peace” or “free trade” is to engage in a sort of magical thinking.

                  Granted, Ron Paul talks in such flowery, aspirational language that encourages that sort of thinking. But it’s no more realistic than the fevered imaginings of Paul’s Neocon competitors in the Republican primary.

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                  • Also…

                    I’m willing to go on the record as being a Sino-Skeptic. China’s record is spottier than its gaudy numbers suggest, and certainly from an aggregate liberties in the world point of view, I would be loathe to see even more Chinese influence.

                    Somehow I don’t think Ron Paul would convince the CCP to stop treating the world like their resource shopping center, much less do things like cordone off cities of 20,000 people and erase them from the internet in the hopes the problems there would go away.

                    Remember Congressman Paul has repeatedly expressed his admiration for how “capitalist” the Chinese are…

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        • Did anyone say, “but what about the middle class” in response to his post?  I’m looking at the thread, I don’t see it.  But of course, “what about the middle class?” is arbitrary now – you’ve just made clear no part of our material politics should legitimately be more important to voters than the killing of innocents abroad short of the killing of American innocents, whereby you find the morality of the majority of Americans’ expressed policy priorities lacking – presumably deplorably so.  In other words that your moral sensibilities, and those of a number of other major contributors (or ex-cpntributors) here are simply too good for the reality of modern American politics.  It’s good to be clear about these things.

           

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          • In other words that your moral sensibilities, and those of a number of other major contributors (or ex-cpntributors) here are simply too good for the reality of modern American politics.

            Um, no.

            Obviously a liberal can, and many are, both against blowing up innocents abroad and for taking care of the middle class at home.  My support for Erik’s statement was in fact motivated by Mike’s comment.

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            • But you say it would be wrong to prioritize anything other than stopping killing of Americans over killing of non-Americans (innocents).  Presumably this would preclude voting for anyone who won’t at least rhetorically put stopping these things ahed of looking out for the middle class, etc. -.  But large majorities of voters would do just that – indeed would vote for someone who won’t even commit to the former in any way, so long as they emphasize the latter.  I’m not seeing where I’m wrong.

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              • …”the latter” … or some other domestic priority.  In other words, you didn’t say, “You know, you’re right, it’s okay if you care about these material or domestic concerns more than the killings, so long as you at least care about the killings.”  That’s exactly what I asked you to come back to if it was what you meant.  What you said is that it is not justifiable to care about anything else more than that.  Are you rethinking that?

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              • Michael,

                There’s a missing distinction between comparing things one on one and comparing sets of things.  Perhaps I haven’t made clear that my criticism is ranking anything above not killing innocents in a one-on-one comparison, but that criticism doesn’t necessarily hold when we’re comparing baskets of values offered by alternative candidates.

                Let’s say not killing innocents has a value of 10.  Everything else has a value of less than 10.  But 6 things valued at 2 would still outweigh the one thing valued at 10.  And if the candidate who has the highest probability of achieving that value of 10 also has in his basket things that actually have negative values (from the individual voter’s perspective), then it’s rational to vote against him.

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                • Okay, but that really raises the question of what in the heck you guys are referring to about someone in this discussion (or elsewhere?) doing that.  Who in the fishing fish are you referring to?  I see a couple people  (maybe only Mike)here saying that Erik, presumably based on what they take from his writings to be his set of value orderings, would be insane to vote for Paul.  Okay, he could be wrong about Erik’s valuings (clearly, the point of the post is to say that he very much is). Sam says anyone rightly concerned with liberty would be crazy to do so.  In any case we can conclude that, for them, all the 5s and 2s and 6s and 1s outweigh the – whatever, 9.3 –  of Paul’s anti-war pledge.  But where are you getting that anyone here is saying they put “the status of the U.S. middle class” alone above their concern about the killings.  They might – I’ll admit it’s a close call for me – but I don’t see where anyone is so indicating.

                  Nor do I agree that it’s particularly remarkable that many people do this, if only because issue-concern polling results routinely show that they do.  i guess I just accept it.  Guess what: they also care more about the mental trauma that American soldiers sustain while they are over there than the poor bastards who lose limbs and eyes and lives.  We’re a cruel lot, what can I say.  I don’t find it remarkable at all.  I see a lot of cruelty around me just in the way we treat each other here – no surprise we can show it for people a world away who aren’t like us whom we never actually meet.  But at the same time, I do find myself consoled that we have a few gems among us like yourself, Mark, and Erik.

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                  • …And I realize by raising the polling, I might be answering y own question about what you’re referring to.  If so, fair enough, though why are we targeting our ire at liberals.  these results hold for various if not all groupings (to the extent they are cross-tabbed ideologically), I believe.  I was under the impression you were referring to something in this thread, or at least some “real” people we know as people.  But for no particularly good reason, I suppose. I think the polling kind of makes a mockery of the idea that this view is remarkable, since it shows it is commonplace.  I suppose if it is remarkable simply for being deplorable, then that fits the bill.  But again, why is it remarkable  (or whatever it is) that it applies to liberals in particular?

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            • Not sure I know what part of Mike’s comment motivated you, or what that is meant to explain to me.  As I have said, I also don’t know what motivated Erik to bring in the issue of the middle class in particular.  I don’t see that being voiced by liberals in this thread.  In any case, Mike was confused about Erik’s intentions for the general election.  i can’t see how that would have motivated your response.  That kind of leaves, “If he somehow wins the Republican nomination (fat chance, the party bosses won’t ever allow it and the rank-and-file won’t go for it), and you feel he’s a better choice than Obama, sure. Go for it. I would not consider voting for RP, Republican Nominee, a wasted vote. An insane one, maybe, but not wasted.”  What’s that got to do with Erik’s mention of the middle class?  Mike could be concerned about anything at all here to make him think a vote for Paul would be insane.  We just don’t know.  I don’t really understand how you connected that to Erik’s observation.

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              • Michael,

                Well, maybe we read him differently.  But frankly, the Democrats have had a damned hard time coming up with a candidate who in fact was both middle class and anti-war, so I think it’s a fair comment on Erik’s part.

                But I’d rather leave it at that.  You haven’t been unfair in pushing me on this, so I don’t want to sound like I’m walking away in a huff, but a work-related issue has me boiling mad right now, and I’m afraid I’ll unfairly make you or someone else here the target.  I get the points you’re making, and they’re fair enough.

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                • Not at all, I totally understand.  Good luck with all that.  I’d just say one thing for the benefit of the other readers: the Democrats haven’t really tried to come up with an anti-war candidate, because they’re not, or haven’t been in this era, an anti-war party.  They have a marginally attached anti-war tail, and it definitely doesn’t wag the dog.  The Democrats at best are an anti-some-wars party, and, by a narrow margin, Iraq was one of those.  The party by and large supported the idea of extending and intensfying the war in Afghanistan and broadening it to Pakistan under certain circumstances (not as extensively as Obama has done, however), while steadily withdrawing from Iraq, when they were choosing their last candidate, and that drove their choice of Obama.  He’s delivered roughly what he promised the party, even though when he was being chosen no one knew the economic straights in wich he’d be forced to contend with this policy instruction the party gave to him.

                  What’s more, I think some who participated in the Democrats’  nomination contest can be rightly accused of being for the war they said was the right war when it was politically convenient and not for it when it came time for their party to fight it while running the government.  Not me, but some.  (At the same time, if Americans are committed to withdrawing from Afghanistan forthwith, I’ll not stnd in the way of their judgment, and I don’t think Obama should either.)  The point is that Democrats have not come up with an anti-war candidate, because the number of people trying to do that in the War on Terror era have never yet outnumbered those trying to nominate either “our guy can deal with wars theirs started better than theirs” candidate, or a “he’ll end the wrong war and focus on the right war” candidate.  The politics of the Democratic party has, generally speaking, not been anti-war, but rather anti-iraq war up until this point.  It certainly has become more anti-war since Obama took office, but I don’t think they have much purchase on him on this score in terms of nominating a different candidate on this account, since he has pretty much just been doing what they told him to do last time around.

                  Erik Kain was and is not a Democrat, but I believe he was not uninvolved in the contest over who would be the Democratic nominee in 2008 (always please correct me if I am wrong in anything I understand you to have said or done in the past.  This is my understanding – it may be wrong.)  I think he agreed with some reservations with the idea Obama put forward that we needed to recommit to the war in Afghanistan (to some extent, and the extent Obama has pursued that is more than enough to legitimately repulse anyone who went along with him on that at that time in my view, by all means).  Again, I recall these things from vague references here at the League in the early days – I hope i will be corrected if I have this wrong.  In this, I think Erik represents quite well the evolution in thinking among many Democratic identifiers (which he is not) on this question.  But the party is not in a position to be responsive to this evolution this year, and the result is that Ron Paul is benefitting because of a principled stance he’s been consistent on for many cycles.  I can only respect both people like Erik (and Erik himself) and Mr. Paul that they are taking such clear actions pursuant to  their views.  The only thing I would object to is a suggestion that the Democratic Party faced an intra-party imperative to nominate anti-war candidates over multiple cycles and have failed to be responsive to it, which is suggested by the phrase “have had trouble nominating an anti-war candidate.”  As even Erik’s own path on this matter demonstrates (again, unless I am mistaken about his past views), the political environment for the Democratic party was not at all so clearly indicative of a general antipathy to war as a response to 9/11 as he is now in his own mind, and as the general political environment has begun to move toward being since Obama took office.  There has been a shift.

                   

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    • Here’s my suggestion: let’s do both. We can stop blowing people up over there, and use the money we would have spent blowing people up to fund programs that benefit the poor and middle class here. On top of that, we can even use some of that money to make the lives of people elsewhere a bit better, too, so that they don’t hate us as much, making it much less likely that some idiot here will feel the need to blow them up.

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      • Rightwing Republican answer:

        “That’s crazy talk! Don’t you know what would happen if we didn’t militarily control the world? The Communists would take over! There’d be Socialism all over us just like Obama is trying to force on us now!”

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      • This is indeed the position of many (most!) people who do talk a lot about the middle class, and who care more about the middle class than about the brown people gleefully Democrat Republican leaders bombs drop on etc.  They care about both, which is why it’s actually not really all that remarkable at all that the priorities are 1. 2. 3. 4.,  1. 2. 3. 4.,  1. 2. 3. 4.,  or 1. 2. 3. 4.  They’re there.  The rest is gotcha play.

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        • What’s more, many people who do care about and talk about the middle class a lot and might even remind Erik in a thread like this what he gives up by making the focus of his anti-war commitment support for Ron Paul rather than activism toward bringing around a party that is closer to his views on a greater range of other issues (though Jason makes a good point that a Paul nomination could have that effect, so Erik could argue tht is what he is doing) could conceivably care more about these foreigners than they do about the middle class.  It’s logically possible.  It’s not as if Erik himself has written that much more about the latter than the former over the past year himself.

          (incidentally, I recall Erik being for continued if not escalated war – dropping bombs included – in Afghanistan during the early debates about whether Obama should follow through on his promise to recommit to that war in the early months of his administration, not that he’s not entitled to change his mind.  I hope he’ll correct correct me if I’m wrong in that recollection).

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  17. I’ll take a cranky old buzzard in the WhiteHouse any day. Dr. Paul won’t back down from his principles that are supported by the US Constitution for some supposed political or  lobbyist favor.

    You know exactly were he stands and how he will vote. I can plan my business and life around a known quantity like that.

    Dr. Paul has my vote.

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    • Obviously you’re not very familiar with Paul’s record.

      He’s been quite adept in the last 20 years at slipping his earmarks into bills he knows will pass by overwhelming majorities, and then “voting against” the bills in a meaningless gesture, knowing he’ll still get his earmark because everybody else will vote for the bill.

      It’s a win-win: his lobbyists get what they want, and he gets to claim he’s the “taxpayer’s best friend” because he “votes against” spending bills that have earmarks in them.

      Dishonesty in government is nothing new, and Ron Paul’s a stellar example of saying one thing while doing another.

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      • It seems you are not familiar with what a ear mark is and how the definition has been distorted. Do a little honest research on what Dr. Paul has said about it.

        If you are for just blindly giving money to the federal government and not knowing were it goes you are entitled to your opinion.

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        • The moment you referred to him as “Dr. Paul”, you revealed yourself as one of his koolaid-drinker cultists, but what the hell, I’ll play along.

          Here’s a solid list of his earmark requests. Yes, these are all “earmarks” in the honest sense of the term.

          Here’s the 2010 list.

          Here’s the 2009 list.

          Here’s the 2008 list.

          Like any politician, Ron Paul is a big fat fucking liar, which is why you have to watch his ACTIONS and not just what the cultists refer to as “what dr. paul has said about it” while wetting themselves thinking about him.

           

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          • Your are slightly amusing in your assumptions of who or what I am by the language I us. Anger in yourself or trying to provoke it in others only confuses issues.

            You have your point of view I have mine. Thanks for the links. I am open to what appears to be the truth in discussions.

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            • The wording “Dr. Paul” is a dog-whistle for the True Believer cultists to signal each other. Syboleth, if you will. (Shibboleth). I have yet to meet a non-cultist who uses it.

              As for the rest, the truth is right there. Ron Paul talks a good game, but his actions don’t back it up – he freely places earmarks, e.g.requests for federal funds, into bills that he knows will overwhelmingly pass even if he votes against them. It’s a way of dishonestly padding his record; he gets the pork for his district while claiming he “votes against” pork, through the magic of meaningless votes.

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              • Learned a new word and expression today, thanks.

                Your view  that Ron Paul is any less what he claims because he knows how to play the political game and be so dead set against him because of that, is a bit confusing.

                You still have not addressed the issue of government spending and how it should handled. Do we as a people just give our money to the government and not have it tracked? Ear marks are a way to do that.

                Are you saying that he will not try to stop the excessive spending of our government, bring home our troops from around the globe, follow the US Constitution more closely?

                Why are you so dead set against the way Ron Paul acts as a politician?

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                • Ron Paul claims to be against earmarks.

                  However, he freely puts in earmarks – and by most accounts, his requests for earmarks dwarf the requests of many other representatives from his own state and party.

                  That he “votes against” his own earmarks is of little importance. If he believes that they are valid requests, they should be in bills of their own, not tagged to “must pass” or “will overwhelmingly pass anyways” legislation.

                  If he doesn’t believe they are valid requests, then he shouldn’t try to put them forth.

                  What he DOES is, simply put, dishonest.

                  Are you saying that he will not try to stop the excessive spending of our government, bring home our troops from around the globe, follow the US Constitution more closely?

                  I am saying that Ron Paul, President, is a different animal from Ron Paul, Congressman. Mostly because as a Congressman he can get away with certain dishonesties and rarely, if ever, be called on them.
                  Further, you just trotted out three of his true-believers’ dog whistles without explanation. “stop the excessive spending of our government” – I do not believe that our government’s spending, as a whole, IS excessive. Therefore, this is an invalid argument. “Bring home our troops from around the globe” is a great catchphrase, and long term I believe we should be less militarily engaged in the world, but we always have to face the realities of the power vacuums and issues that will be left behind as we withdraw and do so in a thoughtful manner (for instance, if we had a unilateral withdrawal from all corners of the globe tomorrow, what happens to Taiwan?).
                  “Follow the US Constitution more closely” is such a stupidly vague strawman that it barely merits mention.

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                  • I have run across folks that debate or discuss issues such as you before. You are not very genuine is your addressing the issues or discussion points of others, unless you perceive them to be inline with your view point or world view.

                    I’ll go with one of my original statements. You have your point of view I have mine.

                    Thanks for the Shibboleth reference, is was interesting.

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                  • If he believes that they are valid requests, they should be in bills of their own, not tagged to “must pass” or “will overwhelmingly pass anyways” legislation.

                    That’s not the way Congress works.

                    What he DOES is, simply put, dishonest.

                    I’d say it’s not entirely principled.  That’s not the same thing as being dishonest.

                    I am saying that Ron Paul, President, is a different animal from Ron Paul, Congressman.

                    No argument there.  This actually should be the case, I’d say.  If someone acted the same way as a Congressperson as they did in the Presidency, they’d be either a very bad Congressperson or a very bad President.

                    I do not believe that our government’s spending, as a whole, IS excessive. Therefore, this is an invalid argument.

                    Er, no.  You can say you don’t find it to be compelling, but that doesn’t make it invalid.  I’ll note: most people believe that government spending (as currently done) is excessive, although they dispute which areas are “excessive” and which are “necessary”.

                    Bring home our troops from around the globe” is a great catchphrase, and long term I believe we should be less militarily engaged in the world, but we always have to face the realities of the power vacuums and issues that will be left behind as we withdraw and do so in a thoughtful manner.

                    Sure.  Ron Paul, on the other hand, can’t unilaterally remove us from NATO, nor can he break standing treaties.  Even as President, he simply couldn’t just issue an order for every overseas military member to report home, tout de suite.  So, given this, is it better (in your opinion) to have a President who defaults to, “Close everything that can be closed and bring everyone home that we can”… or one who defaults to, “Only close something if we can be absolutely sure that we’re not leaving behind a power vacuum.”  If the second, differentiate your standards for measuring a power vacuum.  I’m taking the same issue with this stance that I often take with Koz: without knowing how you measure “necessary foreign military bases”, you can always say, “This base is necessary”.  I don’t like moving goalposts.  Plant a stake in the ground.  What constitutes a “necessary military base”?

                    (for instance, if we had a unilateral withdrawal from all corners of the globe tomorrow, what happens to Taiwan?).

                    Answer your own question.  What happens to Taiwan?  Explain, and offer a justification for your prediction.

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                    • “I’m taking the same issue with this stance that I often take with Koz: without knowing how you measure “necessary foreign military bases”, you can always say, “This base is necessary”.”

                      That’s kind of a stretch. On the other hand, you can also say, this base isn’t necessary. In the present context, eg, you can say that NATO isn’t necessary.

                      Why did we have NATO? Mostly to prevent Europe from being overrun by the USSR. Is that still a threat? Well, yes but just barely. So, you can say that if Russia really wants to invade Western Europe, they are on their own. For the independent states in eastern Europe, we could probably negotiate something directly among, say Russia, US, Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary. They might rather have that than NATO anyway, especially since some of them don’t like the stuff we’re supposedly doing on their behalf, eg, START. That done, you can disband NATO.

                      That doesn’t get us to completely small, rationalized defense/foreign policy posture, but we can start taking away the layers of the onion.

                      And the same works for spending policy too.

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        • Apparently, my prior content with links to “Doctor” (who hasn’t practiced in decades) Paul’s earmark history has been stuck in “moderation.” Why is it that OpenSecrets.org triggers your moderation sensor?

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      • Full disclosure:  I am not a gold bug, nor do I advocate going to a gold standard.

        Having said that, I read Ron Paul’s A Case for Gold a couple of years back.  I had also thought that gold based currency is, as you so delicately put it, moronic.  Although it did not convince me of the ‘case’, I thought he presented a pretty coherent, sane argument.  So while I am still opposed to the view, I no longer find it in the realm of quackery.

         

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        • Did I call him a quack? No, he is at best unable to see the problems in his own ideas.

          Do you know how much profit one could make, if one destabilized the dollar? Now picture half of that profit going into an “extract gold from seawater” scheme. See, gold’s actually kinda plentiful, if dispersed.

          But I tell you, his system wouldn’t WORK. (and the fact that schmart guys know it, says something about how smart Paul is, or perhaps how closeminded he is)

          Paul–70% Sane, 30% WTF? Seriously, gyns laugh at him for “never having seen” a medically necessary abortion. ROFL laughing (I think the general conclusion is that he practiced very little)

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          • Looking at his history – I don’t know that I’d call him a quack, but he certainly never did much practicing.

            1961 – got MD.
            1961-1968 – Medical internship at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
            1968 – moved to texas, set up a medical practice
            1971 – Started campaigning and running for office.

            Time actually spent as an OB/GYN? Roundabout none. Hasn’t “practiced medicine” or had a valid medical license since 1976.

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            • Hasn’t had a valid medical license since 1976.

              This is why, properly, you should not address him as “Doctor”.

              On the other hand, 1961-71 is ten years.  Internships certainly count as medical practice in my book (even discounting medical school, which is no picnic).  Ten years is a credible amount of time to build enough domain expertise to be called a practitioner, if not an expert.

              So no, I wouldn’t call him a “Doctor”.  On the other hand, I wouldn’t belittle the M.D., either.

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              • Internships certainly count as medical practice in my book (even discounting medical school, which is no picnic).  Ten years is a credible amount of time to build enough domain expertise to be called a practitioner, if not an expert.

                Except that the records show pretty much none of his internship work was in OB/GYN, which is the field he claims to be a specialist in(a field he claims specialization in largely so that he can use it in an “appeal to authority” argument on the abortion issue).

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          • No – I was insinuating that I thought he was a quack!  But, regarding gold, have revised my opinion.

            I’m not sure what system you mean by his.  I think there are a ton of problems with going from where we are to a gold based currency.  Perhaps that is what you are commenting on.  What he convinced me of, though, was that a gold based currency had advantages and our current system has disadvantages.  He convinced me that economic history is not clean or simple to pronounce verdicts like:  the gold standard didn’t give us the flexibility to get out of the depression.

            If you think Paul is a moron, I probably won’t convince you otherwise.  But I would (no longer!) call his views on gold moronic.  Unrealistic?  Perhaps.

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  18. Is the reason liberals are being so often mentioned in this thread simply because the current president is a Democrat? Because if recent history is any indicator, I’m really suspicious about calling American liberals the warmongers of the political spectrum.

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    • To the extent that Democrats are liberal, Democratic presidents have on their record in the last several decades: Cuba, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, the Iraq “No Fly Zone,” Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq II, the “surge” in Afghanistan and the expansion of that war into Pakistan, and Libya. The Republicans have Vietnam, Cambodia, Libya, Grenada, Iran/Persian Gulf,  Panama, Iraq I, Afghanistan, and Iraq II. I’m forgetting some of the smaller conflicts and military actions, but you get the point. Granted, the two Iraq wars and Afghanistan are bigger than all but Vietnam (which, in terms of casualties, dwarfs them all), but the point is, Democrats may not have kept up with Republicans completely, but they’ve done their best to keep up when it comes to war.

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  19. Chris,

    At whose feet do you lay the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan? Even if we were to acknowledge that ones of those two was somehow more “correct” than the other (and perhaps we shouldn’t do such a thing), Iraq was a disastrous war championed by the Republican Party. Turning around and acting as though liberals have been this nation’s warmongers for the last ten years strikes me as a bit daft. Liberals protested in huge (and entirely ignored) numbers in the run up to Iraq, rightly recognizing that the proposed war was a tremendous crock of shit. This thread though keeps referencing liberals though, as though Iraq was theirs, and not a fundamental underpinning of almost the entire conservative movement post 9/11, is baffling.

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    • I lay Iraq primarily at the feet of the Republicans, though many Democrats voted for it. In the comment above, I was thinking only of presidents, though.

      Iraq was a Republican war that was continued, though in the form of a slow draw down, by a Democrat. Afghanistan is a Republican war that was expanded by a Democrat. Also, Democrats by and large were in favor of the war in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002.

      I don’t think Democrats have been as bad in the warmongering department in the last decade, but they’ve only had 3 years, and they’ve expanded Afghanistan and Pakistan, and then there’s Libya. Again, it’s not as big as Iraq II, but it’s not nothing, either. Democrats are just lesser warmongerers.

      I should note that I was protesting Afghanistan in January 2002, and Iraq during the leadup. I’m not a liberal, though.

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      • Iraq was also ended by that Democratic president prior to your writing this, on the schedule he said he’d follow.  It’s a little incomplete to say it “was continued” without also saying that it “was ended,” or that “a total withdrawal was completed as promised, albeit on a timetable I still found to be too slow.”

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  20. On a more general note, I think what troubles me about Paul support is that it too presupposes presidential omnipotence, or at least some sort of fantastic premise that he’d be able to substantially change the culture of the GOP in such a way to allow him to do things in a positive direction in terms of trade or intervention.

    Rather, the circumstances under which a Ron Paul Administration would exist, would more likely be under a Republican majority in the House (with many of the current Tea Party/Paul Ryan bits involved), and a majority in the Senate (who would likely find some procedural way to end the filibuster) auger conditions where his most outrageous domestic policy priorities would be supported by Congress and his most reasonable positions (drug war, downsizing US commitments abroad) would instead be undermined in the face of the neocon wing of his own party.

    I could see him signing into law a repeal of Dodd-Frank, a repeal of ACA, Ryancare, a budget with a zeroed out budget for USAID, nominees for cabinet posts that would try to gut agencies like Energy, Education, HUD or HHS (which are publicly on his chopping block) and also curtail the powers of the EPA while being stymied in efforts to close down bases, reduce prison sentences for drug offenses or the like.

    Further under these circumstances we’re likely to have substantial GOP majorities in many states. In an environment where DoD’s civil rights division is likely to be curtailed and efforts to override state policy on issues like drug legalization, same-sex marriage or simply police and judicial behavior, the Arizonas and Alabamas of the country might become more routine.

    I may indeed be too pessimistic. But I don’t really see a lot of good coming from Ron Paul. He hides the worst impulses of the GOP under a veneer of non-intervention and anti-war language. The latter is where he’s out of step with much of his party, particularly those who hold the levers of power in Congress.

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    • “On a more general note, I think what troubles me about Paul support is that it too presupposes presidential omnipotence, or at least some sort of fantastic premise that he’d be able to substantially change the culture of the GOP in such a way to allow him to do things in a positive direction in terms of trade or intervention.”

      I’m finding that this is the central issue of our political culture now, more topical than some other things that are more ideologically volatile. I don’t care as much as I did about what a candidate wants to do. Above all else I want to have some idea of what he can do.

      That’s why I’m supporting Mitt.

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      • If you’re trying to persuade, you might go on a bit.  It seems to me that Obama accomplished just about exactly what Mitt accomplished in their government executive capacities, except on a much larger scale, dealing with institutions much more predisposed against such action.

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            • I fear you’re right. Most politically engaged people, think of ends first and means second, which in an ideal world is the way is ought to be. Tim from the left wants to provide job opportunity for black people. The administrative burden to companies and universities is ancillary. Joe on the right wants to have a strong United States national defense. The treaty obligations and military pensions are ancillary.

              Since the New Deal, the feds have tried to make so many policy priorities that the cumulative ancillary implementation details are a big glob of cholesterol in our cultural body, financial body, and political body. That puts substantial constraints on what can be done that neither the left nor the right is handling particularly well at the moment, but especially the left.

              Because Ron Paul is such an outlier in American political discourse, Nob correctly perceives that much of what RP and his supporters want won’t be done whether he is elected or not. The sclerosis in the body politic will in many cases be stronger than RP’s ability to act as President. My point is that applies to all the candidates more or less.

              Put shorter, it used to be that the reason for the federal government’s actions was that important political actors wanted them done. I don’t believe that’s true any more. Most of the things the federal government does (and the states too) happen due to inertia, even the important things.

              That Ron Suskind book from a couple of months ago is a canonical example (one that Elias was agitated about and covered here on the League more than once). I’m not completely sure I believe Suskind, but let’s put that aside for now. In any case, the story was that Sec Treas Geithner and a few other economic policymakes captured President Obama wrt bank policy and a few other things. Basically, President Obama (who I view as a intelligent but disengaged man) didn’t have enough personal knowledge or expertise to evaluate what Geithner told him, so by default he was forced to acquiesce to Geithner’s policies.

              Mitt Romney has the intelligence, expertise, engagement, and commitment to sort through all the crap and clean the stables. And I fear he’s the only one who does (for me, Hunstman is #2 and Santorum is #3) As this campaign has gone on, I have become more and more impressed with Romney’s abilties and focus.

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  21. The first college that I went to was Brazosport College in Lake Jackson, Tx., home of Ron Paul.  This was when Tom Delay was the Rep. there, and people loved him.  Anyone at all could call Delay’s office for whatever reason, and there would be results.  Delay got things done, and he took care of his people.

    Lake Jackson is a company town.  It was built by Dow Chemical to house its employees at the Oyster Creek site, the place where the Brazos flows clear into the Gulf.  It’s awful murky a bit upstream, but fairly clear downstream.

    Lake Jackson is a town owned and operated by Dow Chemical in very way except on paper.  They made sure the paperwork was all clear.

    But I really have to wonder about Ron Paul, just because of where he’s from.

    And I think someone needs to explain the bi-metal compromise and Bretton II to him.

    Other than that, just a crank, though an endearing one.  Keeps reminding me of Ross Perot for some reason.

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  25. Is it me, or do I detect a pattern here?

    First, he has a history of placing earmarks on sure-to-pass bills so as to get pork for his home district.  Then he votes against them, enabling him to declare he’s never voted for an earmarked bill.   Even though he’s earmarked, let’s see $398 million in earmarked requests in FY10 and $127 million in FY11 alone.

    This enables him, of course, to state one thing while doing another.  He even admits this is his strategy.

    The pattern is exposed when we see that he facilitates the publishing of all sorts of bigotry and conspiracy-laden kookiness under his name.  Then he denies writing or knowledge of them.

    The Obvious Pattern:

    1. State one thing (no earmarks, no bigotry).
    2. Enable others to do something contrary-wise (pass those earmarks on sure-to-pass bills, publish bigotry-laden articles under his name).

    I wonder what other things he speaks out against  but quietly supports?

    Report

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