The Ron Paul moment

The mainstream media is beginning to wake up to the likelihood that Ron Paul will do very well, if not win, in the Iowa Republican caucuses.   Remember, Iowa is a caucus, not a primary, which means voters must be willing to go to the local town hall and hang around for at least an hour to case their vote.  Having participated in a caucus, I can tell you that undecided voters are likely to be swayed by passion, which Ron Paul voters do not lack.  And Ron Paul is more popular with Democrats and independents than the megalomaniacal Washington insider, Newt Gingrich.

If Ron Paul wins Iowa, which I believe he will, he goes into New Hampshire with tremendous momentum.   Right now, the likelihood of a close race in New Hampshire is very good.   What happens next?  Nobody really knows, but Ron Paul needs to be considered a player in the Republican race, not the wacky also-ran of Republican elite fantasies.

The purpose of this post is to make the case for voting for Ron Paul and also take a stab at describing what a Ron Paul presidency will look like.   Full disclosure:  four years ago, I thought Ron Paul was a crazy isolationist.  I was a big Mitt Romney supporter in 2008.  But I no longer believe Mitt Romney will make the reforms necessary to make a difference for the country.  In the meantime, I have listened to hundreds of hours of Ron Paul speeches via podcasts.  I have read several of his books and the books of his favorite economists and philosophers (Mises, Bastiat, Rothbard, Hayek).  And of course I have read his economic plan, which balances the federal budget by 2016 and is, in my opinion, the only serious plan being proposed by any of the presidential contenders. Please read on.

Given this is a religious site, I would like to begin by addressing the issue of Ron Paul’s religion and any possible hints of him being an “anti-Mormon candidate.”  To sum up, there is absolutely no evidence of him positioning himself as taking advantage of anti-Mormon sentiment.  It is true that he has spoken to evangelical pastors and voters regularly.  But as a libertarian-leaning candidate, who is in favor of drug legalization and against federalizing moral issues, his appeal is somewhat limited.  He is also very private about his religion, having been during his life Episcopalian, Lutheran and Baptist.  Every once in a while he appeals to scripture to make a point, but it is certainly not central to his campaign.  Here are a few key quotes that are think are relevant (taken from this article).

As Paul told Beliefnet in 2008:

some evangelicals get a little bit annoyed because I’m not always preaching and saying, “I’m this, I’m this, and this.” I think my obligation is to reflect my beliefs in my life. I like the statement in the Bible that when you’re really in deep prayer you go to your closet. You don’t do it out on the streets and brag about it and say, “Look how holy I am.” If a person has true beliefs and is truly born again, it will be reflected in their life.

Another exchange from that interview, which on the whole is required reading for those deeply concerned with the matter of Paul and religion, goes like this:

You caught some flack recently for quoting Sinclair Lewis on the Fox News Channel in response to a Mike Huckabee’s TV ad that appeared to feature a cross. You said that “fascism would come to this country waving a flag and bearing a cross.”

Unfortunately, that came up in dealing with Huckabee and it wasn’t directed [at him]… that ad came out and I hadn’t seen it and they asked me about the cross and that thing flashed across my mind.

Do you regret saying it?

Well I regret those circumstances, [but] the position is well taken. I think people should be cautious… because of people using [religion] and the insincerity. But I have not been judgmental. As a matter of fact, I’ve been strongly defending people. Even Mitt Romney—I don’t defend the pros and cons of Mormonism, but I hate to see him picked on because somebody saying “I don’t agree with the Mormon religion.”

 

To sum up, with Ron Paul, you get the perfect position on religion:  he wants to practice his religion the way he prefers to do so, but he is not out proving to everybody how religious he is, and he is perfectly OK with you practicing your religion however you want to.  And, he has refused to even hint at the anti-Mormonism that was behind the Huckabee, Perry and (perhaps) the Gingrich campaigns.  Joseph Smith and Brigham Young would be proud.

Just one more point that may be relevant to readers:  Ron Paul, a doctor who has been a congressman from Texas off and on since the 1970s, has been married to the same woman for more than 50 years.  He has five children and 18 grandchildren.  There are no hints of any “bimbo eruptions” hiding in Dr. Paul’s past.

Fiscal conservatism.

If you are a fiscal conservative, there is no candidate with a better plan than Ron Paul.  I will link it again here.  I encourage you to look at it yourself.  The highlights:

  • $1 trillion in budget cuts in the first year, and a balanced budget by 2016.  Lest you think $1 trillion would take us back to the 19th century, I would point out that we will still have a budget of $2.7 trillion, ie, the same size as 2006.
  • No significant cuts to Medicare and Social Security.  Let me repeat that:  no significant cuts to Medicare and Social Security.
  • Most of the cuts come from freezing discretionary spending and getting rid of five government Cabinet positions…and of course cutting military spending and foreign aid (more on that later).
  • Cutting the corporate tax to make it more competitive internationally (we have the highest corporate tax in the world, which would help explain the lack of jobs).
  • Repealing Obamacare and other job-killing regulation.

As I say, Ron Paul’s plan is the only way that addresses our $15 trillion debt in anything close to a serious way.  But it is worth pointing out that Dr. Paul has said literally hundreds of times that he will be the president, not a dictator.  Just because he proposes something to Congress does not mean that it gets passed (Obama’s big spending budget was voted down 97-0 this year).

So, what can we realistically expect from a Ron Paul presidency?  At best, he will get half of what he wants, and this only if Republicans re-take the Senate and House in 2012.   So, the $1 trillion in cuts almost certainly will not happen.  At best, perhaps a few hundred billion.  But the president sets the tone, and he can veto spending bills and regulation, and this will make a huge difference in changing the business environment in the country.

Let me be very clear:  there are trillions of dollars in the world right now looking for a safe haven for investment.  Europe is a basket case.  Asia is better and is getting a lot of the investment.  Some is flowing to Latin America and Africa.  But the investment is not flowing to the United States right now because of the regulatory environment and anti-business climate created by the Obama administration and the congressional Democrats.  If you want to know why unemployment is stuck as high as it is, you need to think like a businessperson.  Businesspeople want a safe return on their investment.  Because of excessive regulation and taxation, the United States does not allow anything close to a safe return.  Ron Paul will change this, and the unemployment rate will plummet.  This is something that I can guarantee:  a Ron Paul presidency will spur a hiring and investment boom not seen since the 1980s and 1990s.

Foreign policy

Ron Paul will make the biggest change in US foreign policy since the 1920s, when Harding and Coolidge changed direction after eight years of Wilsonian adventurism.  He will immediately bring troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq (most are expected to be gone from Iraq by the end of this year, but we still will have many thousands there to protect the embassy).  He will move to close most if not all of our military bases overseas.   All thinking people are wondering why we still have troops in Germany protecting one of the richest countries in the world.  It is simply insane to continue to expect US taxpayers to protect central Europe.

As I argue in this post at BCC, the truly conservative position is to adopt Ron Paul’s foreign policy.  There is nothing conservative about US taxpayers spending hundreds of billions of dollars patrolling the world and sending money to foreign dictators so they can exploit their people.   We simply can no longer afford it.   Defense is central to the role of the federal government, and defending our country is an honorable and important role for the military.  But we do not defend our country by keeping thousands of troops in more than 100 countries worldwide (did you know we are now sending troops to Australia!!??  Australia, which has been going through an economic boom, cannot defend itself???!!!!).  And, I would like to note, even under Ron Paul, Defense spending would go slightly up from 2013 to 2016 (look at the Ron Paul plan linked above).

The Fed

Make no mistake about it:  Ron Paul sees the Fed as one of the greatest sources of misery in the history of the United States.  He favors a return to the gold standard and abolition of the Fed.  But he also believes that in the short run this is not possible politically.  So, he wants currency competition, which means the legalization of the use of silver and gold as currency.  Utah recently passed a currency competition law.  Of course, he wants a full audit of the Fed, which nobody should oppose.  Regardless of what you feel about the Fed, it is important to see what central bankers are doing with the currency.  And the information that has come out is alarming, to say the least:  $7.7 trillion in money for big banks, loans to overseas banks including Qaddafi’s bank in Libya, back-door deals for the politically connected.  If you believe in secret combinations, the Fed is the biggest one in existence.

Social issues

Dr Paul is an OB-GYN and has delivered thousands of babies.  He is anti-abortion.  He tells a heartbreaking story about witnessing an abortion in one hospital room in which the baby was taken out still breathing and crying and dumped in a trash bin (will God ever forgive us?).  In the next room over, a baby the same age was delivered prematurely, and 10 medical specialists worked to keep the baby alive.

But even somebody as pro-life as Dr. Paul refuses to federalize the abortion issue.  He opposes a Constitutional amendment against abortion.  He believes that like other key issues abortion is something that should be left to the states.  Dr. Paul will certainly appoint federal judges who support his view, and it is possible that some day Roe v. Wade will be overturned at least partly because of judges he appoints.  But, it is worth pointing out that if you are pro-choice and live in a more liberal state, abortion is likely to be legal in such states even after Roe v. Wade is overturned.  Abortion will become like the death penalty, ie, individual states will adopt a variety of different laws.

On same-sex marriage, Ron Paul says he is personally against gay marriage but does not think the government should get involved in the issue.  He is opposed to federalizing the issue, although he supports some aspects of the Defense of Marriage Act, which allows states to adopt their own policies on same-sex marriage.

Civil liberties

Ron Paul wants to abolish the TSA and privatize airport security.  Yay!  He is against the Guantanamo detention center.  Yay!  He is against the use of torture.  Yay!  He is against the Patriot Act.  Double yay!  He favors allowing states to legalize pot and other drugs and would certainly decrease federal involvement in drug busts.  Yay!  He is the only major Republican candidate to speak out in favorably about the Occupy movement (I oppose what they stand for, but I love free speech).  Yay!  In short, Ron Paul has read and internalized the Constitution and does not want the government to oppress you.  What’s not to like?

In terms of actual policies, I believe you would see a noticeable change in federal policy during a Ron Paul presidency.   At the very least, the federal government would be less visible and less oppressive.  What a relief that would be.

I could go on, but this post is already quite long.  To sum up:  a Ron Paul presidency would bring real hope and change.  We would get spending under control and there would be an economic boom.  And the federal government would become much less oppressive.  Ron Paul offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a true transformation. I hope you can join me in supporting him.

 


 

 

 

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B has had three main careers. Some of them have overlapped. After attending Stanford University (class of 1985), he worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. In 1995, he took up his favorite and third career as father. Soon thereafter, Heavenly Father hit him over the head with a two-by-four (wielded by the Holy Ghost) and he woke up from a long sleep. Since then, he's been learning a lot about the Gospel. He still has a lot to learn. Geoff's held several Church callings: young men's president, high priest group leader, member of the bishopric, stake director of public affairs, media specialist for church public affairs, high councilman. He tries his best in his callings but usually falls short. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

96 thoughts on “The Ron Paul moment

  1. For those concerned about Ron Paul’s foreign policy (that he’s not hawkish enough), consider the following from today’s Washington Post:

    “Unlike his fellow top-tier candidates Gingrich and Romney, Paul served his country in uniform, as an Air Force captain…. According to…[FEC] reports from the third quarter of this year, Paul has raised more money from active military personnel than all other GOP competitors combined, and even more than President Obama.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/five-myths-about-ron-paul/2011/12/07/gIQAu3vOiO_story.html

    Interesting that Ron Paul gets so much support from active military, in spite of (or perhaps because of) his foreign policy positions. Chickenhawks like Romney and Gingrich like to bluster about attacking Iran and standing up to China, but the people who would actually HAVE TO GO TO WAR agree more with Ron Paul on this issue.

  2. As an Independent (moderate), I LOVE Ron Paul’s foreign policy, and desire to check on the Federal Reserve. I cannot stand another Hawkish president ( Gringrich would call on Bolton? Seriously?!? ).. Anyways. Yeah. I’d vote for him.

  3. Before getting a chance to comment on this particular post, just wanted to say I caught the last half of the debate tonight, and I found myself most impressed with Paul. I think a lot of the questions went his way, and he responded very well.

  4. I think some good things about Ron Paul. But I have to respectfully disagree with your optimistic conclusion about the effect of a Ron Paul presidency on this country. As with Obama, Paul is not “the one”. Obama can’t make the oceans receed, and Paul can not impose policies which rely on adherence to principle to be effective to a people who have lost their principles.

    I’m not saying Paul is bad by any means, but I continually come to the conclusion that our nation requires a virtuous (and not just moral virtue) citizenry before we can really think about the seas of entitlement and spending to decline. Only a virtuous citzenry, based on the kinds of principles Paul espouses can bring real hope and change.

    And that is the rub. I don’t see how Paul’s election can actually bring that. He’ll be elected in the midst of politics as usual, with opponents having to tear him down regardless of what he says or does as part of the “opposition”. Of course the same is true for every President (Obama included). At best, I see Ron Paul as having this fore-runner type potential. Where 20 years from now people can hopefully look back and see that he renewed a movement, that took decades to get enough steam to move ahead with real mass appeal.

    The only chance Paul stands of getting the nomination, or even elected, is a sorta of anti-government vote, the opposite of Obama’s election fervor. Where the people say, “enough is enough, the politicians all lie, and this Paul guy at least isn’t feeding us a line of crap.” But that’s not really a conversion to Paul’s principles but an acknowledgement that all the other politicians are fundementally flawed and Paul seems to be sticking to something.

  5. This is all wonderful except Ron Paul doesn’t really want to be president, he just wants to run for president. He wants to be heard, get his message out. I’ll give him this, though: unlike a couple of other candidates, he doesn’t appear to be running to enhance his personal fortune.

  6. Chris, I agree with you that it is a mistake to expect one man, ie the president, to make the changes necessary. The expectations for Obama were completely out of whack compared to the actual results. We need to go back to the idea that the president has a few enumerated powers and that his role is to let America run itself. Ron Paul is the only candidate who has the humility to understand this. And Don’s point is correct: Ron Paul does NOT want to be president. George Washington did not want to be president either, but he was convinced to serve for the good of the country. I think choosing a person who is not power hungry is important. (I would add that I don’t think Romney or Huntsman are power hungry either — they are running out of a sense of service). Think about it: would anybody reading this WANT to be president? It seems like the worst, most pressure-filled job in the world.

  7. I think Ron Paul’s too extreme to even win the primaries, let alone the general election. I also think he would have an impossible time seeing any of his ideas come to fruition, no matter how noble they may be, because of Congress.

    I also want to comment on the idea that we’re sending troops to other first-world countries to “defend” those countries. Frankly it’s not true. We send troops there so they can be closer to the action. Having troops in Germany and Italy, for example, allows us to be much closer to the Middle East, and yet our troops can still be surrounded by their families and other Americans in a safe environment. The idea that we’re in Germany or Italy to defend those countries is, quite frankly, silly. Germany, for example, mandates that all its young men serve in the military (or spend longer periods of time serving in other positions). They’re quite capable of defending themselves. Unlike Germany and Italy, I don’t have enough first or second-hand knowledge about Australia, but I’m fairly certain we’re there for the same reasons we’re in Europe–because it’s convenient for us, and not because it helps the country we’re in.

  8. “From next year, U.S. troops and aircraft will operate out of the tropical city of Darwin, only 820 kms (500 miles) from Indonesia, able to respond quickly to any humanitarian and security issues in Southeast Asia, where disputes over sovereignty of the South China Sea are causing rising tensions.”

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/16/us-usa-australia-idUSTRE7AF0F220111116

    It’s not about defending Australia. It’s making sure U.S. interests are protected in Southeast Asia.

    Also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Defence_Force

  9. Tim, the purpose of the US Defense Dept should be to defend the United States. The only action we should be worried about is the action in defending the US from attack. Even if you want to say that we should be able to patrol international waters, that involves having a good Navy (which we do) and agreements with our allies that we can refuel at their bases. It does not mean, and it should not mean, that we need to have our own bases on foreign soil.

    Even if you say that the military should be around the world for humanitarian purposes, you must consider the issue of cost. Is it more important for the US military to respond to a tsunami or is it more important for the military to be at home helping with disasters here? Given that our deficit is $1.2 trillion-plus, we need to choose, we can’t do both.

  10. WRT Tim’s comment that Ron Paul is “too extreme”: I find it a constant point of confusion and irritation that presidential candidates who believe in expanding U.S. debt, maintaining or increasing federal regulations, spending our blood and treasure around the world, and paying for all of it by increasing the monetary supply are considered “mainstream”, while those who want to seriously tackle our debt, reduce the size and scope of federal power, take a moderate, sensible approach to national defense, and promote sound money are considered “extreme.”

    we truly live in a looking-glass world.

  11. Geoff B.,

    I don’t disagree with you about what the scope of our military should be. I just don’t think it’s right to characterize it as “defending” other first-world countries. Most of those first-world countries have a competent military (and probably a military size that’s closer to what ours should be) and can take care of themselves just fine.

  12. Good post, Geoff.

    I do not agree with idealogical libertarianism. But even I’d have to admit that Paul would be incapable of abolishing the constitution to create a libertarian state. So electing a Libertarian may not be such a bad thing since its likely to get me a lot of what I want to see.

    Of course I’d have to first have proof that he’s a serious candidate (i.e. I only mean by that that the members of a democracy are ready for that sort of radical change — i.e. balanced budgets. :) )

  13. Let me start by saying that I am huge Paul supporter. I canvassed for him in 2008. I donated to his campaign. I think he is the only thing approaching an honest person on the stage at Republican debates and I think that he is one of a very small handful of consistent American politicians generally. I love Ron Paul.

    However, I don’t think he will ever get elected. The Republican party bosses don’t want him and they won’t accept him. Perhaps a super strong showing in early primaries will incite him to run as a third-party candidate (further guaranteeing the nearly-certain Obama victory), but I can guarantee Republicans will do all they can to keep Paul out. They will happily accept Romney over Paul if those are their options.

    In the impossible event that Paul does get elected, I think it will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Every bill effectively will have to go back to Congress for veto override. If you think Washington is in grid lock now, just wait until Paul and his cabinet come in. The media will flip out and people will riot. I expect it to be the start of serious American strife that will ultimately lead to civil war.

    We all know that strife is coming. We all know the current situation is tense and conducive to such eventualities. The only question is what will spark it off. Once things start, people are forced to choose sides and fight whether they like it or not. I think a Ron Paul presidency would be a major factor in sparking violence not because Ron Paul is evil, but because Ron Paul is good, and the population of this country is evil and will not tolerate a good leader.

  14. I’m not libertarian so I wouldn’t want Paul as President. But as others noted the founders put in enough checks and balances with the Congress and the courts such that Paul would have a very hard time doing a lot. The danger would be in protecting the United States. I don’t like a lot of the policies that Bush and Obama have put in place especially with the TSA. However Paul would go way beyond that and arguably make the US an much more open target for terrorists. I think we’ve overreacted on the terrorist front but Paul would go too far the other direction in my opinion.

    That said I’m very glad Paul is running. I don’t think he’s qualified in the least to be President. But he brings a needed voice to the discussion. It’s too bad Fox ignores him or when they pay attention ridicules him so badly.

    Newt, I think we can all agree, would be a disaster.

  15. About a decade ago, I worked in the U.S. House.

    I had the chance to observe Rep. Paul and I’d like to share some observations.

    First, he was utterly and completely irrelevant. He was ignored by everyone — Republicans and Democrats. Why? Because he was considered kind of nutty (in a mental sense).

    Second, he has never — in over 20 years — had a single, significant achievement. Folks talk about Michelle Bachmann in the same terms. But, Paul has a multi-decade record of non-achievement.

    Third, Paul is known as a hypocrite. He rails constantly against federal spending. But, he constantly seeks earmarks, especially transportation ones, for his district. Of note, he often votes against bills that he has provisions in — In my view with the expectation that the bill will pass and he can still posture.

    Fourth, Paul has a complete inability to work with anyone. He has a rather nasty personality. A President has to deal with lots of different folks. Paul had trouble dealing with his own 20 person staff, let alone the rest of Congress.

    Fifth, I’ve seen some of the material in Ron Paul’s newsletter (he used to have a subscription one). In it are articles by racists with a heavy dose of antisemitism.

    Finally, I’ve personally heard Paul talking on the way to floor with an aide about which way to vote. The gist of the conversation is which way would generate the most cash for his fundraising operation.

  16. I can address at least some of that. Obviously, much can’t be done about the personal anecdotes and hearsay unless someone has equally credible anecdotes and hearsay to counter. I don’t.

    #2: I think his record and consistency itself is an accomplishment. I think his presidential campaigns have been accomplishments that have raised awareness for libertarian principles significantly. While he may not have authored any critical legislation, I see this again as a failing of everyone else, not Dr. Paul. It’s hard to operate in an environment where you have a fundamentally divergent philosophy from everyone else who controls that environment. As a Mormon, this shouldn’t be difficult to understand.

    #3: I’ve heard Dr. Paul address this one on Meet the Press in the 08 campaign. While he believes that taxation on individual income and excessive federal power is morally wrong, he feels it’s his duty to ensure that his constituents get *something* for all that money they spend. I don’t think this is hypocritical at all and I believe it’s a consistent position. If you’re paying 30%-50% of your income to the government, you deserve a representative that will fight for your reasonable interests even if he disagrees with the fundamental idea of income tax. The point is that you’re getting robbed anyway, so he may as well try and get something for it.

    It should be noted that the earmarks I’ve heard referenced at least are not things like entitlement programs or ongoing commitments, but independent expenditures for things that will directly benefit his district, like federal money to help clean up ship wrecks off the coast (Paul represents a coastal district in Texas). This seems like a reasonable tit-for-tat approach; while you may disagree with heavy personal taxation, you may as well try to make the best of it if you’re forced to contribute anyway and get a thing or two back.

    #5: The newsletter scandal was dug up last cycle and I think most reasonable people write off the criticism as hypersensitive politically correct mumbo jumbo. For what it’s worth, Paul claimed he was ignorant of some of the writings and terminated the author when he became aware (presumably a staff member was editing the paper) and officially distanced himself from the negative comments made. Not a major problem imo, especially when you compare it to the problems of most of the other candidates.

  17. The newsletter situation will be played and replayed and replayed by a compliant left-wing media always on the lookout for any hint of “racism” when it comes to conservatives (but always willing to turn a blind eye to such behavior by those on the left). It will be difficult, but not impossible, for Ron Paul to overcome this. I still think he is more electable than the Mormon who will be slammed and slimed by Obama surrogates (magic underwear, polygamy, etc) and the serial philanderer Gingrich.

    As for the other claims by “Steve” (whoever he is), anonymous comments left on a web site telling personal anecdotes are meaningless. Anybody who has heard Ron Paul speak for more than a few minutes can see that he is the most honest, plain-spoken politician we have had in the U.S. in a long, long time. We need a lot more people like him.

  18. Geoff –

    I worked for a member of Congress. A very conservative one.

    I have been around Mr. Paul numerous times, including walking over to votes with him and an aide (and the member I worked for). I feel that I have a pretty good feel for his personality, intellect and how others perceive him.

    You can dismiss what I am expressing as a personal opinion. But, I doubt you will find many who have worked on Capitol Hill who would disagree with my perceptions.

    I have had the privilege to be around some highly capable folks on both sides of the aisle. There are plenty that I would trust with the levers of power (though I might disagree with their individual philosophical positions) — Erskine Bowles, Sam Nunn, Mike Leavitt, Leon Panetta, Dick Armey, Elizabeth Dole, etc.

    Rob Paul is not in the same league.

    My own sense is that his followers see what they wish was there — rather than the reality.

    In the next few weeks, GOP voters will speak.

    P.S. The racist newsletters are more disturbing than represented. The apparent writer, according to the Libertarian publication Reason was Ron Paul’s former Chief of Staff, Llewellyn Rockwell. He was never fired. In fact, he continues to be intertwined with the Ron Paul campaign even today as an outside adviser.

  19. What’s most interesting to me about the newsletters is how unlike they are from Paul’s speeches, books, and other writings. If he’s a racist, then why doesn’t that show up in his remarks on the House floor? Why can’t anyone find any hints of bigotry in his personal life? Why has he so strongly come out against prejudice as anithetical to individual liberty?

    The worst that can be said about Paul vis-a-vis the newsletters is that he showed poor judgment in letting someone else use his name 30 years ago. If that’s the worst thing his opponents can dig up on him, then he’s way ahead of every other candidate of either party.

  20. Mike, as you know, I was pretty suspicious of Ron Paul four years ago. As I say, I have listened to literally hundreds of hours of his speeches, read his books and read the people who inspired him politically. There are simply no hints of racism anywhere, except in these newsletters, which were not written by him but were part of some very bizarre political strategy by a few of his supporters.

  21. I think that in general there is no reason to assume a house member has the experience necessary to be President. I’m even a bit leery of having Senators as I tend to think they struggle more than Governors do – the difference between running an executive branch versus what a Senator does. I know the standard reply is that there are staff who do those things. But while having a President who micromanages too much is bad (Carter) so too is it bad to have one who isn’t involved enough (I’d argue Bush). Now Governor vs. Senator doesn’t necessarily tell us how someone will govern. (Look at Bush) I think it is pretty informative though which is why Cain and Bachmann were to me excluded right off the bat.

    Paul is running a kind of educational campaign and I don’t mind that. However I’d never want him near the White House simply because independent of his views I don’t think he has the skill set to be President and run the executive Branch.

  22. Clark, there is some truth to this. Certainly Obama’s lack of experience is one of the reasons for his failing presidency. But recent history has also shown that being a governor is somewhat meaningless (Bush? Perry?). It is extremely rare for a member of the House to be elected president. I don’t think it has happened since the 19th century. So, if you want to use that as a disqualifier, then fine.

    My personal feeling is that given our many economic problems the most important skill set a president can have is political ideology. Bush was supposedly a conservative, but he gave us a Medicare expansion, No Child Left Behind, TARP and a huge expansion of the government. There is a solution that helps the poor, brings prosperity and avoids corporate welfare, and that solution is the free market. Without the right ideology, you always get drawn in to unnecessary foreign wars, and Ron Paul will not take us there. That is enough for me.

    Look at it this way: who is the best pure administrator out there, the person you would hire to run your enterprise? There is no doubt: it is Mitt Romney. But when Mitt actually was the governor of something he: 1)raised taxes repeatedly 2)signed an individual mandate for health care 3)promoted global warming alarmism. He was a good administrator but his ideology was simply off. It is more important to have the right philosophical approach, imho.

  23. Ron Paul still is a crazy isolationist. What’s changed is not his views, or your understanding of his views, but your views. You’ve moved to what I would call a utopian, even a crankish, position on violence and the state.

    Anyway, I pity you to see you enthusiastic about a candidate. I would have thought you old enough by now to not get your hopes up that the candidate you prefer would make it anywhere. Or that the candidate you prefer would turn out to be much like what you thought.

  24. Adam G: Ron Paul is not an isolationist; he’s a non-interventionist. There’s a world of difference between the two. That you don’t seem to grasp this speaks more about your views than it does about Paul’s.

    As I wrote earlier, all the candidates except Ron Paul want to expand the size, scope, and cost of the federal government, not deal seriously with federal spending and debt, and want U.S. to be the world’s police force and the instigator of a war with Iran. And Ron Paul is called “crazy”? Alice, meeting the looking-glass.

  25. The problem is, Mike, that most non-interventionists only want to act when it appears there’s no alternative. I though Gingrich had a pretty good slam on Paul on this point regarding homeland security. Paul gave a pretty good answer for his opposition to things like the Patriot Act. Gingrich then replied that he would instead act to prevent terrorist attacks rather than merely respond to terrorist attacks. I’ve not yet heard a fully compelling response to this from the Paul camp.

    I think even regular conservatives think we’ve gone overboard in our anti-terrorism. But there’s a big difference between having some common sense in our programs versus what it appears Paul is advocating. I think that goes as well for international situations. One can think both Bush and Obama are overreacting in an expensive and inefficient manner. However one also might think that it’s important to try and prevent problems before they become big. I have zero faith in Paul’s ability to deal with say tensions in Pakistan.

    I opposed McCain because as much as I didn’t care for Obama I felt like McCain would make things far worse than even Bush did. I feel the same way about Paul. And frankly foreign affairs is the #1 issue that the President deals with.

  26. Geoff (25), the problem with just appealing to a governor is that governors have different powers in different states. In Texas in particular the Governor is fairly weak. So I’m not sure Texas Governor is a good background. In other states (say the northeast) they have more power. I also think that Governor is at best a first order approximation. You really have to ask what they accomplished as Governor.

    Merely espousing a policy tells us little about what someone would actually do since most promises made during Presidential campaigns are never even attempted let alone fulfilled. (I actually think Obama is somewhat the exception since to the shock of both moderates and liberals he largely did what he said he would do as opposed to what people projected on him) I should add that this is yet an other place where Romney has so much trouble. All we can point to in terms of how he’d govern is his four and a half years in Mass. But that’s not exactly exciting to most Republicans and even Romney has run against it. Had Romney more conservative accomplishments I think he’d be doing better in the polls.

    I should note that Bush never ran as a true conservative but as a moderate. He was pretty clear about this in the campaign. I think most of us just didn’t pay attention so we got medicare expansion and the expansion of the dept. of education. But there were pretty clear signs in the campaign as to how he’d govern. I’d even argue there were pretty clear reasons then to think he’d be problematic in terms of foreign policy. It’s just that at the time it appeared like foreign affairs didn’t matter much so no one cared about him there. (And he’d run as being much, much more modest on foreign policy than either Clinton or his father)

  27. C’mon Clark, you have expressed in the past the many problems with drug laws, ie, it is impossible to *prevent* people from dealing drugs and taking drugs. The exact same thing applies to law enforcement and terrorism. You don’t prevent crime by putting a cop in front of everybody’s home — you prevent it by creating a good court system, by allowing people to defend themselves and by having swift justice for the bad guys. The exact same thing happens with terrorism: you prevent terrorism by determining a)why are the terrorists acting b)allow common-sense ways for people to defend themselves while protecting civil liberties and c)prosecuting bad guys. We are doing none of these things with our current policy.

  28. Mike Parker,

    ‘isolationist’ is a slur for non-interventionists (or, put the other way around, “non-interventionist” is the new word folks of that persuasion have started to use now that ‘isolationism’ is discredited). No doubt my use of the term isolationist does reveal much about my bad character, political views, and childhood bed wetting, but in this case I was just repeating the term that Geoff B. used in his OP.

    I agree with you that Paul is the only candidate who appears to take our spending problem seriously. Doesn’t mean I have to think his views on foreign affairs are sound or even reasonable.

    Or on abortion, marriage, or immigration, for that matter. (Paul is the candidate who opposes a border fence on the grounds that it will be used to keep Americans from fleeing to Mexico. Bonkers.)

    Most voters tend to find a candidate they like because of a strong position on some issue–spending and the Fed, e.g.–and then they rationalize everything else about the candidate. I don’t. A jaundiced eye is the only proper means for examining politics, I believe. Which makes for unexciting campaigns where I’m not enthusiastic about any candidate, but that’s as it should be.

  29. Clark, you are contradicting yourself in comment #30. You say:

    “Merely espousing a policy tells us little about what someone would actually do since most promises made during Presidential campaigns are never even attempted let alone fulfilled.”

    And then you say:

    “I should note that Bush never ran as a true conservative but as a moderate. He was pretty clear about this in the campaign. I think most of us just didn’t pay attention so we got medicare expansion and the expansion of the dept. of education. But there were pretty clear signs in the campaign as to how he’d govern.”

    So, which is it, are all politicians liars or not?

    I tend to think it is the latter, ie, some politicians like Ron Paul will actually do what they say they will do. But you can believe what you like.

  30. Adam G, I think writing in George Washington is a very sane position. He still is one of our best presidents ever. My personal policy is a bit different: I tend to vote for the person on the ballot who is closest to my philosophy and has a chance to be elected. In the Colorado caucuses, that is Ron Paul. In 2008 that created a horrible choice between Obama and McCain, and McCain was *slightly* closer. If the choice is Obama vs. Gingrich in 2012, I honestly don’t know what I will do.

  31. I don’t think I said all politicians are liars Geoff (33). I said in general you can’t assume that just because a politician espouses something means they’ll do it. The reasons for that are pretty clear. A President has only so much political capital and thus can achieve only so much. Typically they go after their top three or four goals and the rest don’t happen. Sometimes they’ll say things because they think that then but quickly change their mind. (Most Presidents have taken a harsh rhetoric against China in their campaigns and end up continuing the status quo for instance) Gingrich changes his mind so often I wouldn’t put too much stock in what he says – but we know that based upon his history.

    However while I don’t think mere rhetoric without background tells us much I don’t think we can simply discount the rhetoric. It does tell us their general view on matters. That is it does tell us something about their basic stances. Further if there are topic they constantly talk about I think we can safely say they’ll try to accomplish them. However there are so many checks and balances in our government that even if they attempt something it doesn’t mean it’ll happen. For instance Bush made a big deal in 2003 of social security reform. However everyone should have realized he didn’t have a hope of getting it past both the house and senate. But I think from the 1999 campaign we should have known how he viewed medicare expansion and the department of education. So we shouldn’t have been surprised what happened in the spring and summer when he encouraged the house and senate to pass laws in that regard with a very cooperative Democratic side.

    So I don’t see that as a contradiction. I just think too many people think that because a candidate says something they’ll be able to do it. Rather I think you should look at their rhetoric as a guide for what they’ll attempt to do. Thus I think it safe to say Romney won’t govern as a Rockerfeller Republican but really will attempt to pair back Obamacare and govern fairly conservatively It’s hard to say right now what his priorities will be but I think it safe to say his book on his economic policies will be his guide. But I also think that if there is a conservative majority in the House that he’ll have to meet them halfway on matters. His economics will almost certainly be neo-Keynsian rather than full bodied Austrian since you need only look at who his economic advisors are. (Mankiw) But he’ll adopt a low taxes, low spending mindset without going as far as the other conservatives in the nomination campaign advocate.

  32. Just to qualify that last post somewhat. While I don’t think politicians are intrinsically liars I do think they’ll move more towards their base in the primaries, tell the base what they want to hear knowing that most of what they say they’ll never implement. However they will clearly have some priorities and with respect to those priorities I think we have a good idea about how a politician will govern. I find the rhetoric in the main election more trustworthy than that in the primaries though.

  33. Adam G, I think writing in George Washington is a very sane position. He still is one of our best presidents ever. My personal policy is a bit different: I tend to vote for the person on the ballot who is closest to my philosophy and has a chance to be elected.

    I don’t always vote for George Washington. When I vote for a lesser, living man, I use your metrics, plus executive experience/governing competence, and character.

    For me, Paul is a mixed bag on the philosophy section but leaning towards positive since the budget is so important this time, appears to have good character, and fails the other two metrics. Though I did vote for him in the 2008 primaries, since McCain was no great shakes on any metric– plus Paul’s habit of bringing up the Constitution gave me great pleasure.

  34. If any of the current candidates are isolationists, it’s people like Romney and Gingrich, who insist on marginalizing countries they don’t like and continuing policies that generate hatred for the United States around the world. When we treat the world with suspicion, the world is happy to reciprocate. This cuts us off from friendship, trade, and peaceful relations.

    Ron Paul advocates a position he calls “Mutually Assured Respect”.

    Mutually Assured Respect would result in the U.S.:

    • Treating other nations exactly as we expect others to treat us.

    • Offering friendship with all who seek it.

    • Participating in trade with all who are willing.

    • Refusing to threaten, bribe, or occupy any other nation.

    • Seeking an honest system of commodity money that no single country can manipulate for a trade advantage. Without this, currency manipulation becomes a tool of protectionism and prompts retaliation with tariffs and various regulations. This policy, when it persists, is dangerous and frequently leads to real wars.

    Mutually Assured Respect offers a policy of respect, trade, and friendship and rejects threats, sanctions, and occupations.

    http://original.antiwar.com/paul/2011/12/09/mutually-assured-destruction-vs-mutually-assured-respect/

  35. Well, MP, if you think the Golden Rule and neighborliness should be the lodestars of foreign policy, you are welcome to it. Me, I think the New Testament isn’t always a how-to manual even in domestic politics.

  36. Actually, I do. When we treat other nations as adults and with respect for their sovereignty, they’re a lot less likely to despise us and desire to harm us.

  37. It seems to have worked pretty well with China. Until the early 1970s the U.S. tried to undermine Chinese legitimacy and didn’t even formally recognize them as a state. Since Nixon’s attempt at rapprochement, we’ve created a mutually-beneficial economic relationship, and China has made great strides away from Maoism and toward capitalism and a middle class. Because of this, we’re very unlikely to attack each other and China is more likely to move toward democracy now than it ever has been.

    Imagine if we could do the same thing with Cuba or Iran. Bring a little prosperity to their people, show them we’re not the great evil they say we are, and maybe see some moves toward a more liberal society.

    Couldn’t be any worse than the mess we’ve created with our aggressive foreign policy stance.

  38. Some of these comments illustrate that Mark Steyn’s depressing After America world will be pushed forward from many directions. Exhausted conservatives joining hands with leftists to give up the good fight, fade into oblivion, and turn the show over to France and China.

  39. “Once things start, people are forced to choose sides and fight whether they like it or not.”

    Jeff, your comment brought to mind the scripture… “And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety. “

  40. John Mansfield: If you’re accurately summing up Steyn, then his position is both factually incorrect and illogical.

    Authoritarians on the left are just as enamored with the military-industrial complex and U.S. shows of force as authoritarians on the right. An obvious example of this is the Obama administration, which has aggressively followed the Bush administration’s playbook, play by play. In fact, since WW2, there hasn’t been an example of a Democrat in the White House who hasn’t used the U.S. military to expand his foreign policy objectives.

    And this nonsense about America “fading into oblivion” and “turning the show over to France and China” is merely the frantic nightmare of frustrated neoconservatives who still argue that Iraq had WMDs and that we can “win” in Afghanistan if only we have the resolve. It’s a massive pipe dream that most Americans have come to see as an enormous waste of money, lives, and good will.

  41. Mike (38), I think that highlights the problem with Paul though. Let’s take concrete examples. Do you think his plans, such as they are, for Iran are workable? Do you think his strategy with regards to Israel is workable and will reduce tensions in the mideast? What will he do with regards to Russia? What are his plans for the missile defense that Russia objects to? What’s his strategy vis a vis Chinese expansion in the asian pacific which is such a worry to Japan, Australia, Thailand and elsewhere?

    I’ve not read everything Paul has written on this so I don’t claim to know his specific policy pronouncements. But I can say that most of these places will have a much higher probability of going to hell unless the US is involved. While I oppose the type of actions Bush and now Obama are conducting I think there’s a big area between that overreach and the withdrawal and non-intervention that Paul espouses. Merely saying, “befriend Iran” isn’t much of a policy. While I agree that fears over nukes in Iran are overstated (the results of them having them not whether they will have them) I find Paul’s answers to be deeply scary. I think there are enormous distinctions between China and Iran. Further Paul overlooks what Nixon got China to agree to in order to open up.

  42. Clark: Do you think [Ron Paul's] plans, such as they are, for Iran are workable?

    Yes, very much so. Especially considering that, in 2003, Iran reached out to the United States and offered a “grand bargain” that put everything on the table: Iran’s support for terrorism, its nuclear program, even its hostility towards Israel. In exchange, Iran asked Washington for security guarantees, an end to sanctions and a promise never to push for regime change. The Bush administration, eager to remake the Middle East, foolishly ignored this offer. I don’t think it’s too late to approach the Iranian leadership and bring up these issues again.

    Do you think his strategy with regards to Israel is workable and will reduce tensions in the mideast?

    Considering that much of the hostility toward the U.S. in the Middle East stems from our unconditional support for Israel? Yes, definitely.

    What will he do with regards to Russia?

    He has said (on Russian television) that he wants to continue peace relations with Russia, but not threaten them.

    What are his plans for the missile defense that Russia objects to?

    Google says he’s opposed to it on issues of cost and necessity.

    What’s his strategy vis a vis Chinese expansion in the asian pacific which is such a worry to Japan, Australia, Thailand and elsewhere?

    Try here: http://bit.ly/s6Oi1a

    In short Paul is aiming for the Jeffersonian ideal of “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.”

  43. Mike you aren’t going to get me defending the Bush policy towards Iran after 9/11. I agree they blew a lot of opportunities and that in particular David Frum’s “Axis of Evil” quip was deeply counterproductive. That said, I just think it erroneous to assume Iran is China circa the Nixon era. Further Nixon’s treatment of China was deeply rooted in Real Politic and not ideology (as Paul’s is). Now if you could convince me that Ron Paul was following Real Politicks and could make a carefully defended case in terms of international relations and political science I’d be much more sympathetic. However neither Paul nor his supporters tend to make that argument.

    The biggest problem, of course, is that Bush’s screw up was nearly 12 years ago and events have changed in the interim. You can’t simply rewind the clock to 1991. There is simply a very, very different status quo right now both in terms of politics within Iran not to mention it’s plays outside their borders (such as Iraq and Lebanon). More significantly the entire playing field of the middle east has changed with the Arab Spring. Iran justifiably worries about its internal stability and I’d be very, very uncomfortable with a guarantee of regime if democratic protests manage to reemerge in Iran.

    Don’t get me wrong. I do advocate better and more open communication with Iran. However let’s also be honest. That was one of the policies of Obama and it failed primarily because they wouldn’t do it unless we let them have nuclear weapons.

    Now if the Paul position is that Iran should have nuclear weapons and that we shouldn’t interfere in the least with their easily producing them. If that is Paul’s position (and it sure seems like it is) then you should realize that most people – even those thinking the nuclear issue is overhyped – will see that as a deeply problematic position for a person to run on President for.

    Effectively you are saying that the policy of the US should be that anyone can get nuclear weapons if they want them and no one should interfere. I personally find that extremely scary for world safety.

  44. To add, if the US adopted such a position I think all we’d do is guarantee that Israel attacks Iran thus leading to a pretty destabilizing war in which we’d almost certainly be drug in regardless of what Paul thinks on the matter.

  45. “In exchange, Iran asked Washington for security guarantees, …”

    What is it you like about security guarantees to Iran that you don’t like about security guarantees to Taiwan, South Korea, etc.?

  46. What is it you like about security guarantees to Iran that you don’t like about security guarantees to Taiwan, South Korea, etc.?

    Apples and oranges. Iran is asking for a guarantee that we won’t attack them preemptively. Taiwan and South Korea are asking us to go to war if they’re attacked.

    With regard to Israel, they have 200 to 300 nuclear weapons and one of the most tactically and technologically superior armed forces in the world. They are more than capable of deterring a direct attack from Iran.

  47. Mike, you assume that relations between Iran and Israel would proceed like relations between the USSR and the US during the cold war. Why? That doesn’t seem a justifiable assumption. I’d think the closer model would be Pakistan and India. I tend to think that religious fundamentalism on both sides really changes the equation. The deterrence effect predicted by game theory in the cold war simply doesn’t apply in the same way due to a very, very different calculus of what happens after such a war.

    Whether we think it rational or not, Israel see Iran having nuclear weapons as an existential threat. If both sides see the US basically pulling out that changes the real politic type calculation by both sides. How would Israel react in the Iranian supported Hezbollah forces end up in a clash with Israelis on the border? More to the point how much internal control would Iran have over their nuclear weapons? (I think this is a big worry in Pakistan as well)

    The assumption that because something is superficially similar to past circumstances doesn’t entail the logic of the forces at work is the same. Once again I’m not saying one can’t make a compelling argument here. I am saying that Paul and his supporters tend not to make it which illustrates something about his choices. Honestly it reminds me far too much of George Bush. Paul may be the opposite in terms of use of force (although I’d note Bush’s pre 911 rhetoric was closer to Paul) yet it’s the simplicity of thought and a kind of wishful thinking about outcomes that scares me.

  48. If the US were to announce that it was basically adopting a friendly, neutral policy (ie, Switzerland) toward every country, it would increase, not decrease, the pressure for Israel and Iran to deal evenly with each other and arrive at some kind of peace agreement. Make no mistake about it: the only reason the Arabs and Iran would do this is because of Israel’s military power, not because their hatred of Israel would diminish. But the point is that Israel had a sufficient military deterrent (with many missiles that could potentially kill millions, a competent military and good intelligence). So, from Iran’s perspective, it can’t destroy Israel. All people, even supposed crazy millennialists like the Mullahs, are interested in self-preservation. They may claim they want martyrdom, but none of them want all of their relatives and friends to be wiped out. Iran has tremendous economic pressures, and the mullahs live in fear of a general uprising. So, Iran has reasons to seek peace with Israel. But because of our overwhelming presence, we are the “fifth wheel” inserting ourselves into the discussion. The parties rely on the US to find solutions rather than find them themselves. The best thing that could happen for peace would be a massive change in US policy that allowed the countries involved the dignity to resolve their own problems without relying on us.

  49. Every nation’s leadership believe in self-preservation. Yet in most wars, one side loses, and it usually leads to the total or at least partial destruction of the losing country’s leadership (either directly or through internal unrest). Conclusion: self-preservation isn’t the magical key to rational and pacific behavior.

    In fact, the whole premise here is self-defeating. You argue that countries act rationally and pacifically when given the chance. You also argue that the US isn’t acting rationally and pacifically but that it has the chance to.

  50. Would we feel differently about the Israel/Iran nuclear issue if the players were the US and Cuba? If Cuba wanted to build a nuclear power station, then possibly a nuclear weapon, would we keep the idea of “Mutually Assured Respect”

    As Americans, we tend to downplay tensions in other countries because the problems are always “over there”.

  51. Geoff, it simply isn’t the case all people are primarily interested in self-preservation. It’s true that even terrorists leaders aren’t apt to want to be a suicide bomber. But it’s not hard to get oneself in bad situations.

    I don’t quite follow the reasoning for how the US pulling out of support of Israel would lead to middle east peace. Sounds like wishful thinking of the sort Bush used to think Iraq would lead to democracy like falling dominoes.

  52. Adam G.: Conclusion: self-preservation isn’t the magical key to rational and pacific behavior.

    When nuclear weapons are involved, it changes the game. Those who wield them have, up to this point, realized that to use them means total annihilation of both sides.

    It also makes a difference when we’re talking about leaders of nations versus a handful of fanatics in a cave. In the 30 years since they came to power, Iran’s leaders have shown a great deal of restraint and made rational choices. They are not fanatics like al-Qaeda.

  53. Interesting from Time magazine:

    The barrage of aired attacks on Newt from all sides seems to be having the desired effect, plummeting his favorability by 19 points in the last week, and Paul, certainly one of the aggressors, is picking up the pieces. Gingrich still leads with 22% of the vote and Romney has held steady in high teens, but Paul has clawed his way up within the margin of error, claiming 21% support among likely Republican caucus goers. And what remains of Gingrich’s lead appears to be soft. Just 54% of his supporters tell PPP they’re certain to vote for him, while 77% and 67% say the same of Paul and Romney respectively.

  54. Mike – the US and USSR have come close to nuclear war several times. I think you have more faith in the power of deterrence than I do. It sounds like you think nukes ensured safety in a kind of deterministic fashion. I think they helped keep the US from war but think it was still a touchy thing. Our ability to survive the cold war was as much luck as anything. That’s not a contest I’d want to repeat again.

  55. TIME’s numbers (reported by Clark #61) support PPP and Rasmussen:

    According to Public Policy Polling’s most recent survey of likely Iowa caucus-goers, the current numbers are:

    Gingrich 22%
    Paul 21%
    Romney 16%
    Bachmann 11%
    Perry 9%
    Santorum 8%
    Huntsman 5%
    Johnson 1%

    In New Hampshire, Rasmussen is reporting these numbers:

    Romney 33%
    Gingrich 22%
    Paul 18%
    Huntsman 10%
    Perry 3%
    Bachmann 3%
    Santorum 3%
    Other 2%

    http://www.tomwoods.com/blog/rasmussen-and-ppp-paul-on-rise-in-iowa-and-nh/

    Clark: I agree with your #62, and would prefer not to go back to Cold War MAD policy. But keep in mind that Iran has no nuclear weapons, has repeatedly said they don’t want nuclear weapons, there is scant evidence they’re pursuing one, and (even if they did get a few) the United States has thousands. Deterrence can be an effective policy with them, especially if we back off militarily (we surround them on land and sea) and give them less reason to be afraid.

  56. I think there are two very separate issues that need to be considered. This responds to Frank’s number 58 and perhaps some of the other comments.

    1)What should Israel’s policy toward Iran be? If you read Sun Tzu and Clausewitz and St. Augustine and most great thinkers, there is agreement that nation-states pursue their own self-interest. So, if I were an Israeli I would be pretty freaked out about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But the issue is, nation-states almost never go to war thinking they are going to lose the war (you could argue about Japan in WWII, but that is certainly an exception, and at the very least you would have to admit there was a division within the leadership). So, given that Israel has 300 or so nukes, what could Iran possibly be thinking? The Mullahs want to remain in power, and they are literally surrounded by enemies. The Arabs are ancient enemies, as are the Russians and the Turks. And as Mike has shown they are literally surrounded by US military bases. So, even if you believe the Iranians are all crazy suicidal maniacs, they really don’t have much to gain by fighting with Israel and they actually have a lot to gain by making peace with Israel. But, even if this does not happen, I think we can agree that if we were Israelis we would concentrate on self-preservation and would continue to oppose an Iranian nuke and would complain and fight Hezbollah. In any case, Israel fighting for its self-preservation is what Israel will do.

    2)The completely separate question is: what should the US position be? We are a separate nation-state than Israel with different interests. We need to protect our borders, ensure our survival, etc. And if we narrow down what our interests are, it is logical to arrive at the conclusion that our obsession with Iran and the rest of the Middle East is more self-destructive than constructive. We are spending trillions on an area of the world that is not a vital national interest, especially given all of the new oil deposits being discovered in the Americas and Africa. If we developed oil at home, we would wean ourselves completely off of Middle Eastern oil within a few years. So, we can best be a friend to Israel by a)allowing them to pursue their own national interests and b)getting out of the way so that they do and c)pursuing what is in our best interests, ie, getting out of the Middle East as quickly as possible and d)developing our own energy sources in the Americas.

    So, to answer Frank’s number 58, if you are Israel then Iranian nukes are worrisome, just like Cuban nukes would be worrisome to us. But if you are the U.S., not so much. They have no intercontinental deliver system and would not be a direct threat to the U.S.

  57. As for polling, here is a complete look at the latest Iowa polls:

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/ia/iowa_republican_presidential_primary-1588.html

    I tend to trust PPP most of all because it includes Democrats, who will be voting in Iowa (mostly for Ron Paul). In any case, remember support for most of the candidates is not deep, whereas with Ron Paul it is. I feel more comfortable than ever with the prediction that Ron Paul will win Iowa and be close to the leader in NH.

  58. Does Ron Paul want to end marriage as a civil status, or in other words, get the government out of marriage?

  59. Two comments on Geoff’s #66 (with which I agree):

    • Iran’s rhetoric against Israel and the United States serves a very specific purpose: To rally its people to support the leadership. When you, as a state leader, can blame something external for all your problems, it keeps your people from focusing on your own deficiencies (of which the Iranian leadership has many).

    Food shortage? Blame America. Electrical grid unreliable? Zionist infiltrators. Explosion at a gasoline refinery? The C.I.A. did it. And when the U.S. really does do something (like fly a stealth drone that gets shot down over Iran), it simply provides proof that the Americans are out to get you.

    We in the West underestimate the power that rhetoric and a personality cult can have. It’s normal for Iranians to shout “Death to America!” at Friday prayers in Tehran. We all want someone to blame for our problems.

    (The same applies to North Korea, which has the strongest personality cult of any modern nation.)

    • The Iranians are a proud people with a proud history. The Persian Empire was the greatest world power 2500 years ago. Many Iranians are fervent nationalists, and are frustrated that their great country appears so weak and helpless in the face of American aggression. They can’t even produce enough gasoline to meet their domestic needs, despite having some of the world’s largest proven oil reserves (5th in the world, behind Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Iraq). Their army, navy, and air force would, at best, barely be able to defend against regional opponents (their 8-year war Iraq in the 1980s was fought to a stalemate).

    Nuclear power would give the Iranians the ability to provide power for their own people. A nuclear weapon would put them in the top tier of nations who possess them, and buy them some of the respect and national pride they so desperately long for.

    Lifting U.S. sanctions and allowing free trade with Iran would improve the standard of living of its people, show them that the United States is not their enemy, and give their people some of their national pride back. The U.S.’s Iran foreign policy for the last 32 years has accomplished nothing; it’s time for a drastic change. (The same applies to Cuba, BTW.)

  60. John Mansfield says:
    December 13th 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Does Ron Paul want to end marriage as a civil status, or in other words, get the government out of marriage?
    69
    Geoff B. says:
    December 13th 2011 at 3:05 pm

    Federalism, John M. Federalism.

    The income tax isn’t going anywhere. Should there be some recognition of marriage in the income tax? Certainly, and the kind of marriage that should be incentivized is the real, socially valuable kind. (Note: the income tax is constitutional).

    Second, federalism requires some mechanism for deciding what acts of one state must be recognized in another. Our Constitution provides a mechanism: congressional legislation, i.e., the Full Faith and Credit Clause.

    This is what the federal Defense of Marriage Act does: it defines marriage for federal tax and other purposes, and it specifies that constitutionally no state need give full faith and credit to same-sex marriages contracted in another state.

    Most proposed marriage amendments simply constitutionalize DOMA.

    So, Ron Paul is either socially liberal, being weaselly by pretending to punt to the states, or else is really ignorant of this particular area and is just chanting ‘federalism’ by reflex. I plump for option no. 3.

  61. Here is Ron Paul’s position as far as I understand it:

    –Thinks marriage is between a man and a woman
    –Thinks the government should stay out of it and that marriage should be between the people involved and whatever church they want.
    –Favors the provision in DOMA that allow states to protect their own marriage laws if they choose (therefore supporting federalism).
    –Opposes a federal constitutional amendment.
    –Supports states-rights on marriage issues.

    I am probably missing some nuance somewhere.

    I agree with Adam G that this position raises some possible contradictions and problems. But then so does my position, which is that local governments (not federal governments) should have some role in the institution of marriage. Nobody’s perfect.

  62. AdamG #72: Instead of guessing what Ron Paul’s stance on marriage is, and then attacking him for taking the position you reject (a classic straw man argument, BTW), why not just read what Paul has written on the subject?

    “I personally identify with the dictionary definition of marriage: “The social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live together as husband and wife by legal commitments or religious ceremony.” If others who choose a different definition do not impose their standards on anyone else, they have a First Amendment right to their own definition and access to the courts to arbitrate any civil disputes [resulting from a private marriage contract].”

    Ron Paul, Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues that Affect Our Freedom, 185

    And Geoff is right: Paul supported DOMA and condemned the Obama administration’s decision to abandon it.

    http://theiowarepublican.com/2011/ron-paul-condemns-obama%E2%80%99s-decision-to-abandon-doma/

  63. Geoff, wars aren’t always rational. Look at WWI and innumerable other wars. Each step may be rational but things just get out of hand. While I don’t think Iran getting a nuke is the end of the world I think you underestimate how Israel in it’s current mindset will react.

    Oil is a commodity. Probably within a decade the US will be producing more than it brings in. Most middle eastern oil goes to Europe. However because it is a commodity what happens in the mid east oil supplies affects oil prices everywhere. Likewise as we saw in Europe relative to our housing bubble economies no nation is an island. To think we can just withdraw and become independent and everything will be all right ignores the realities of international finance and trade.

  64. Mike, even the UN thinks they are developing nuclear weapons. If you honestly don’t think they are then I’m not sure what there is to talk about. This really isn’t akin to Bush and his WMDs. To say there is scant evidence is just not reasonable.

  65. Apparently Ron Paul is now in statistical dead heat with Gingrich in Iowa. I think he is another anti-Romney rather than pro-Ron Paul, but at least I can get behind him. Please, please, please don’t be Gingrich or Perry.

  66. Geoff B.,

    There are indeed possible contradictions and problems. For one thing, most versions of the Federal Marriage Amendment just make DOMA constitutional so it can’t be overturned by ACLU lawyers and their cronies on the bench.

    So if you support DOMA but are opposed to any Federal Marriage Amendment, presumably you put a lot of confidence in the restraint and constitutional fidelity of federal judges. Which is kinda surprising for Ron Paul.

    I have no patience with the ‘get government out of marriage’ position, at least not by people who claim to be in favor of marriage. It’s unthinking, reflex libertarianism. I see the following problems with it:

    1) it makes sex a matter of contract, which logically should lead to legalized prostitution, child prostitution, etc. While radical libertarians favor this, sensible people, including libertarians, should not. Do we really want a husband suing a wife for damages because she failed to give him the contractually stipulated number of orgasms last month? Do we really want claus

    2) Since Americans don’t usually negotiate detailed contracts when they get married, judges would have to decide the rules for marriage when any legal problems arose (property ownership, terms of dissolution, mutual rights and duties, what consitutes a marriage in the first place). So ‘getting the government out of marriage’ wouldn’t really solve anything. In fact, most of our marriage laws already rose this way. So the ‘getting the government out of marriage’ argument is really an argument that for some reason we should wipe our established marriage laws away and leave people guessing until judges have come up with new ones. Why is this a good idea?

    3) In any case, getting the government out of marriage is impossible unless you separate marriage from childbearing and childrearing. This could only work in a world where the State takes your children away ro raise them. Some libertarian utopia, that. Because, otherwise, in justice and in pragmatism we can’t just let two parties make important contract decisions for a third party–their child. There will have to be rules about what sorts of agreements can or can be made and judicial review of what is just. In other words, just like now. So ‘getting the government out of marriage’ turns out to be a mirage. Pretty much like now except with, presumably, legalized polygamy, incest, and SSM.

  67. Mike, nothing really to disagree with there nor does it invalidate what I said. The IAEA report isn’t strong but the UN thinks they are working on nuclear weapons. Even the rhetoric out of Iran defends their right for nuclear weapons.

    I certainly don’t think a nuclear weapon is imminent. Which is why policy on this is necessary now. Once they get close it becomes rather pointless and we end up more in a situation akin to North Korea. I certainly agree that a lot of the rhetoric on nuclear weapons is pretty overheated – especially in the campaign of folks running. But I think I stated that originally way back in (46).

    My question though was about none of that. Rather my point was about whether we should just say, “hey – go pursue nuclear weapons. We won’t do anything if you do.” And that’s what I’m objecting to. Paul adopts a fairly laissez faire attitude towards international relations I find really troubling. To say Paul is problematic is not to say the status quo is good. (Obama has largely followed Bush’s doctrine with a few small modifications)

    If international affairs are your big issue though you should support Huntsman. He’s (a) an expert here (b) wants a much more restrained US policy and (c) even wants us out of Afghanistan as soon as possible. All that without the problems Paul offers.

  68. Adam (80), I think you’re creating a false dichotomy. I think even non-libertarians like myself can want the state out of the marriage business and make the state concern solely based upon contractual law. To throw out the idea that there would be lawsuits over the amount of sex seems silly though. Why do you think anyone would make that part of their contract? Likewise children can’t enter into contracts and the state already has special protections for children. So you really are throwing out some silly examples that don’t even apply.

    The bigger question should be whether the state’s already involvement in marriage is appropriate in the form it takes or whether it should be separately decided as a matter of contract law. But that you simply don’t adress.

    The issue is whether the religious aspects of marriage should be a matter of the state. For the issue of child raising and so forth the state can simply ask if people are contractually bound together to ensure a stable environment for children.

    Get the state out of religion in this issue. Effectively we have state regulation of religious ordinances.

  69. To add if your concern is simply there being de facto contracts the state accepts when people get a state marriage certificate then I don’t see the concern. Simply formalize such contracts and enter into them exactly the same way people do now. You can even make a law stating that this applies for existing marriage licenses.

    No one is saying the state can’t be involved in such relationships. We’re just saying that it shouldn’t be a matter of marriage. The same thing already happens if people get married religiously but never get a marriage license. It’s the llicense which provides the legal obligations. All that can remain. People just want to remove the religious aspects from the state.

  70. AdamG #80:

    There are indeed possible contradictions and problems. For one thing, most versions of the Federal Marriage Amendment just make DOMA constitutional so it can’t be overturned by ACLU lawyers and their cronies on the bench.

    So if you support DOMA but are opposed to any Federal Marriage Amendment, presumably you put a lot of confidence in the restraint and constitutional fidelity of federal judges. Which is kinda surprising for Ron Paul.

    Paul’s position on this is consistent, and I agree with it: The federal government should have no say in regulating marriage because the constitution reserves that power for the states (per the 10th Amendment). Nationalizing marriage law would only expand federal power and cost. Rather, each state should be allowed to set its own laws, and DOMA gives them the right to accept or reject other states’ marriages.

    In their crusade to ban gay marriage, social conservatives have become hypocrites: “Protect states’ rights, except in areas where I don’t like what people in other states are doing.”

    Clark #81:

    Rather my point was about whether we should just say, “hey – go pursue nuclear weapons. We won’t do anything if you do.” And that’s what I’m objecting to. Paul adopts a fairly laissez faire attitude towards international relations I find really troubling.

    That’s not what Paul is arguing. His point, as I see it, is two-fold:

    (1) Iran is a regional problem that should be dealt with by other nations in her area. Israel and Saudi Arabia want us to do their dirty work by keeping Iran under control. That’s not in America’s interest and it shouldn’t be up to us to pay for it.

    (2) By antagonizing Iran we continue to foster hatred for America in the Middle East. We create the very enemies that we then have to go and destroy. If we pull back, protect American interests (narrowly defined), and allow Iran to deal as an equal with its neighbors, then hatred for America diminishes, Iran feels less threatened, and the chance of conflict decreases.

    In any event, as I’ve already argued, Israel is more than capable of defending herself, and doesn’t need American help. Benjamin Netanyahu even said so himself:

  71. Mike but your (1) amounts to the same thing if Paul wants to keep the US out. He simply has wishful thinking that somehow Saudi Arabia and Israel would be able to do what the US is doing. As I said this sort of wishful thinking reminds me in a very scary way of Bush.

  72. Just to be clear – I’m not anti-Paul. I’m glad he is there raising these issues. I just don’t think he’s a serious candidate. However if I had to chose between Paul and any of the pack of Gingrich, Bachmann, Cain and perhaps even Perry I’d take Paul. I’d even take Paul over McCain last time around. But that’s kind of damning with false praise.

    It’s too bad Johnson didn’t get any traction as I think he is a serious candidate with more libertarian leanings. And he was a successful governor of New Mexico. Quite an accomplishment when you think about it.

    I think Huntsman gives the best of all worlds though. He’s for a much, much more restrained foreign policy but is experienced and thoughtful enough to not go overboard. He also is more of a fiscal conservative than many (certainly Romney or Gingrich). His problem has been a horrible style that alienated most of the base along with one of the worst run campaigns in some time.

  73. The newsletter situation will be played and replayed and replayed by a compliant left-wing media always on the lookout for any hint of “racism” when it comes to conservatives (but always willing to turn a blind eye to such behavior by those on the left).

    Problem is Geoff, it’s not the Left that’s playing this up. Whenever I drop by the Official Utah Republican Facebook group for some good old fashion schadenfreude over the primaries, it’s the people that should be supporting Ron Paul that are repeating the newsletter story over and over while complaining about how weak he is on foreign policy and will let other countries walk all over us. Then they go on to defend the flavor of the week anti-Romney.

    I think most liberals are smart enough to realize it will be Gingrich or Romney. The Right Wing media and GOP elite will make sure Paul isn’t the candidate.

  74. Some of the reasons Geoff is so into Paul is exactly why he would have a tough time in the general election. He needs too many votes from the neocons in the party to be able to stand up in front of them and convince them that it’s ok if Iran gets nukes. And if Fox News and Rush feel like he is even close to winning, they will make sure everyone hears those kinds of things before the primary is over.

  75. Clark #86: I completely agree with re. Gary Johnson. I was very excited when he made his announcement, and since have watched in despair as he’s been shunned and blocked by the RNC. It’s hard to believe that a man with his record would be treated so poorly.

    My great fear (and I speak as a registered Libertarian) is that Johnson will bolt and run as a third-party candidate. He’s been making statements recently that this option appeals to him. If that happens, it pretty much kills his chances at running as a Republican in 2016 or 2020. I think he perhaps just needs more time and exposure. (That, and not having to run alongside Ron Paul, who shares many of his views.)

    http://reason.com/blog/2011/12/12/gary-johnson-the-libertarian-party-is-mo

    jjohnsen #87: The Utah Republican Party is dominated by social conservatives and neocons. Paul only got 3% of the GOP vote in the 2008 primaries. (It didn’t help that Romney, a Mormon favored son, was running; he got almost 909%.) I canvassed for Paul in Utah that year, and it was very discouraging to run into so many people who thought he was anti-military. (Utah is one of the last states where support for the 2003 Iraq invasion is still above 50%.)

  76. My previous should read that Romney “got almost 90%.”

    Although, if the Utah GOP could have given him 909%, they would have.

  77. Clark,
    you appear to be agreeing with me that ‘getting the government out of marriage’ would still leave the government heavily involved in relationships and child-rearing. I don’t see why you think this rebuts my point, since its one of my points.

  78. I loved your reasoning on why you support Dr. Paul.

    As an active Latter-Day-Saint I see Ron as the only candidate whose policy will help the Church reach it goals of expanding missionary work into country were we do not have a missionary presence. President Monson as asked us twice since becoming President of the Church to pray for the opportunity to expand or missionary efforts through the world. I see Ron a an answer to those prayers. Ron’s foreign policy on non interventionism will do more to open up countries like Cuba and North Korea to missionary work than anything else.

    A careful reading of the Book of Mormon war chapters will reveal that the Nephites never fought a battle on Lamanite land; they always fought defensive battles on Nephit land. Sounds just like Ron’s foreign policy.

    The Church is not going to send missionaries into a war zone where the may be harmed or even killed. If we want to send missionaries through out the world we need to end all of the unconstitutional wars so the Church can send in missionaries.

    Ron is right on the Fed. In the Temple Endowment we learn of Satan’s plan to [control the world by financial and military means].* A better description of a central bank could not be given. Ron understands the death and injustice that a central bank inflects on people better than any other candidate and will work to bring about its demise.

    I agree with the statement by President Uchtdorf that the Church of Jesus Christ has the answers to the worlds problems. I believe the best way to get that answer out to the world is to expand missionary work. The best way I see to get missionary into other lands is to elect Dr. Ron Paul

    I had the honor of voting for Ron in 1988 – hoping for that same privilege in 2012.

    Ken

    *[Edited from Bro. McKee's original phrasing.]

  79. Ken, I think there’s a big difference between a central bank and power hungry people attempting to control everything. Sounds like a little too much like classic conspiracy theories. I think there are a lot of problem with the Fed but I see no strong evidence we ought throw it out rather than reform it.

    The issue about missionaries is compelling. However if a US pullback leads to many more people becoming so much worse off I don’t think that would justify it in the least.

    Regarding war, you are excluding OT wars though. In any case one can reject Bush styled foreign policy without embracing a Paul styled policy. Also Afghanistan was wrapped up with an attack on American soil. One can still criticize the policy of course.

    Adam, my main criticism was over contracts involving sex. My point is that a lot of current system is de facto contract. I just think people should have more freedom over the contracts. For the record I don’t like law being indexed to marriage. To me it smacks too much of social engineering.

  80. Clark, how would you reform the Fed and deal with problems like bailing out failing European banks, fractional reserve banking and rehypothecation being done by banks?

  81. The law has to be indexed to something and since children are involved, what it indexed to will have social purposes (“social engineering”). Our society does not currently have de facto enforceable prostitution contracts.

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