Archive | May, 2007

Ron Paul on The Daily Show

Like Anthony Gregory, I was disappointed when Jon Stewart’s coverage of the Republican debate studiously avoided all mention of Ron Paul and the Paul-Giuliani exchange on 9/11.

Well, a Ron Paul clip finally appeared on Stewart’s show tonight – but not in the way I was hoping. A clip was shown of Paul complaining about how easy illegal immigrants have it – and Stewart went on to make fun of this viewpoint.

Now I agree with Stewart against Paul on this issue – but why is it solely on this issue that Paul gets a mention? C’mon, Jon, play fair.

Ron Paul in the Debate, Part 2

Ha!  Looks like Ron Paul has raised his profile considerably.  As before, here – pending the official transcript – are my summaries of Paul’s answers in tonight’s GOP debate. Once again, these are paraphrases, not direct quotes:

1. You voted against the war initially and now want to withdraw; 70% of Republicans disagree with you. Are you running for the nomination of the wrong party? Answer: the Republican base has shrunk thanks to the war, so that 70% represents a smaller group of people. The important 70% is the 70% of the American people who oppose the war. In 2002 I introduced a resolution to vote yes or no on a declaration of war and Congress wouldn’t do it. I opposed the initial war because I knew it would be a quagmire. When Reagan sent the Marines into Lebanon he said he wouldn’t be intimidated into leaving but a few months ago, after the terrorist attacks, he did pull them out,. In his memoirs he explained that he’d changed his mind and come to realise he’d underestimated the irrationality of Middle East politics; we need the courage of a Ronald Reagan.

Ron Paul 2. Name three programs you would eliminate? Answer: All these departments – Education, Energy, Homeland Security. The Republicans put in Homeland Security, a monstrous bureaucracy as inefficient as FEMA. But in order to cut taxes we have to change our philosophy about what government should do. We can’t cut taxes effectively so long as we still want to spend trillions of dollars on a massive welfare state, on policing the world, etc. Follow-up: You’d abolish the Department of Homeland Security in the middle of a war? Answer: We were already spending billions of dollars on homeland security prior to 9/11 and it didn’t prevent the attacks; inefficiency was the problem. Adding another huge, expensive, inefficient level of bureaucracy makes things worse.

3. You’re the only one on this stage who opposes the war. Are you out of step with your party, and why are you seeking its nomination? Answer: The Republican Party has lost its way. The conservative wing was always anti-interventionist: Taft was against NATO; Bush ran on a promise of a humble foreign policy, anti-nation-building, anti-global-policing; Republicans were elected to end the Korean and Vietnam wars; it’s the Constitutional position; the founders’ advice was to pursue friendship with other nations but avoid entangling alliances. We should negotiate, talk, trade with other countries; we lost 60,000 soldiers in Vietnam and lost the war, and now we invest there. We shouldn’t go to war so carelessly. Follow-up: Is noninterventionism still a viable position after 9/11? Answer: 9/11 was a response to our previous interventions. We’d been bombing Iraq for a decade; we’re now building 14 permanent bases there and an embassy bigger than the Vatican. If China were doing this in the Gulf of Mexico we’d be upset. Follow-up: Are you suggesting we invited the 9/11 attacks? Answer: I suggest we believe their reasons are what they say they are; also bin Laden says he’s delighted our soldiers are over there where they can be targeted more easily. Giuliani intervenes: As NYC mayor during 9/11, I’ve never before heard such a shocking claim that we invited 9/11 and I ask Ron Paul to withdraw it or clarify whether he believes it. Paul’s reply: I believe the CIA is correct when it warns us about blowback. We overthrew the Iranian government in 1953 and their taking the hostages was the reaction. This dynamic persists and we ignore it at our risk. They’re not attacking us because we’re rich and free, they’re attacking us because we’re over there. (Later on Tancredo also attacked Paul, saying that regardless of what our foreign policy was or whether Isarel existed, the terrorirsts would still attack us because they view it as a religious imperative. Paul did not have a chance to respond.)

4. President Bush says his tax cuts helped the economy stay strong after 9/11; in such-and-such a hypothetical terrorist scenario, would you do likewise? Answer: It’s definitely good to cut taxes, but we also need to cut spending because deficits are harmful. As for all this talk about torture as “enhanced interrogation,” it sounds like Newspeak. The President already has the authority to deal with terrorist attacks. In the wake of 9/11 we gave the President authority top go into Afghanistan; now bin Laden is sitting in Pakistan, our supposed ally, and we’re in Iraq instead. I don’t know why we’re discussing a hypothetical crisis instead of the actual one.

References to Paul in candidate interviews by Hannity & Colmes after the debate:

Warmonger Giuliani: Paul’s comment reminded me of the Saudi prince who accused us of inviting 9/11, and I returned his contribution. They’re not attacking us because of our foreign policy, they’re attacking us because of our freedom of religion and freedom for women; the recent Fort Dix incident proves it. I never expected to hear this from a Republican. If you’re confused about this, if you can’t face reality, you can’t lead.

Warmonger McCain: I thought Giuliani’s intercession against Paul was appropriate and excellent; we should never believe we brought on this conflict.

In the interests of timeliness I’m posting this now, while coverage is still running. If there are more references to Paul, or if Paul himself gets interviewed, I’ll post the info in the comments section.

More Spencer Nonsense

A recent New York Times article (conical hat tip to Sheldon Richman) repeated the usual guff about Herbert Spencer. I just sent in the following response:

[I just saw that the NYT won’t publish letters previously published, so check back here later.]

[Addendum: Okay it’s later.]

Everything You Need to Know About Comics

Bat Signal 1. Batman got his powers (including his special “batty sense”) through being bitten by a radioactive bat.

2. Robin got his powers through being bitten by a radioactive robin.

3. Man-Bat was a bat who got his powers through being bitten by a radioactive man.

4. Black Canary was a canary who got her powers through being bitten by a radioactive black person.

5. Green Lantern was a lantern that got its powers through being bitten by a radioactive environmentalist.

Ron Paul in the Debate

Those of my readers who didn’t catch tonight’s Republican candidates’ debate may be wondering what Ron Paul said. I imagine there’ll be a transcript online soon, but in the meantime here’s a quick summary. (Keep in mind that with ten candidates on the stage, each answer could only be a few seconds.)

1. (For Paul specifically.) Paul was asked to explain why his fellow Republicans are wrong on the war. Noting that 70% of the American people also oppose the war, Paul said that noninterventionism was the traditional American position; that it had worked politically for Republicans with Eisenhower ending the Korean War, Nixon ending the Vietnam War, and Bush defending a humble, anti-nation-building foreign policy; and that if the country does go to war it should be with a Constitutionally-mandated declaration of war and not for political reasons.

Ron Paul 2. (For everyone.) Should the Constitution be amended to allow non-native-born citizens to be President? No.

3. (For Paul specifically.) Should the IRS be phased out? Yes, immediately; and to do it we need to cut back on spending and policy; no more policing the world.

4. (For everyone.) Should Roe v. Wade be repealed? Yes.

5. (For Paul specifically.) How can the small-government Goldwater side of conservatism be reconciled with its big-government aspects? Paul said we need to be consistently pro-liberty and that overdoing military aggressiveness actually weakens our national defense; we won the Cold War but now we’re worried about third-world countries with no real military.

6. (For Paul specifically.) Do you have any experience making important decisions in crucial situations? Paul said yes, but in medicine more than in politics; his most important political decision has been opposing the war.

7. (For everyone.) What’s your stand on stem cell research? Paul said this is one of the many areas where people think the federal government should either prohibit it or subsidise it, but the Constitution authorises neither.

8. (For everyone.) Name a tax you’d repeal. Paul said since he’d already repealed the income tax he’d now focus on the inflation tax: by increasing the money supply the government transfers money from the poor and middle class to Wall Street; the solution is sound money.

9. (For everyone.) Do you believe in evolution? This was by show of hands, and I couldn’t see whether Paul was one of the ones who raised his hand no or not.

10. (For Paul specifically.) Do you trust the mainstream media? Paul said he trusted some of them but trusted the internet more, and that government should not interfere at all with the internet or with freedom of expression generally.

11. (For everyone.) Do you favour a national ID card? Paul opposed it as inconsistent with a free society; the government is supposed to protect our privacy from itself and not vice versa.

12. (For everyone.) Should Scooter Libby be pardoned? No; he was instrumental in the campaign of misinformation that led to war.

13. (For everyone.) In the Terri Schiavo case, should Congress have acted or let the family decide? Although this question was for everyone, responses were cut off before Paul had a chance to answer.

14. (For everyone.) Would it be good for America to have Bill Clinton back in the White House? Paul said no, he voted to impeach him the first time.

15. (For everyone.) I missed what this question was, but it seemed to be about what further general policies the candidates would follow as president. Paul said he favoured the traditional noninterventionist foreign policy of Robert Taft; that he would protect privacy and oppose warrantless searches; and that he would oppose any violation of habeas corpus.

The best one-liner of the night, albeit unintentionally so, was from John McCain, who said (with regard to hunting down bin Laden): “I will follow him to the gates of Hell.” I believe it – and they’ll walk in together.

Freeing Slaves and Healing the Sic

In an 1820 letter, English libertarian anarchist Thomas Hodgskin, arguing that economic prosperity and equity depend more crucially on the freedom of labour than on material resources, wrote the following sentence (quoted in Élie Halévy’s book on Hodgskin, p. 78 of the English version):

No circumstances of soil, capital nor ingenuity will ever make the distribution of wealth the same in the United States of America in which slavery is unknown and in our Empire in India.

Evidently taking this passage to make the bizarre assertion that slavery did not exist in the United States in the year 1820, the editor (not Halévy, whose French version leaves the passage as is, but his English translator, A. J. Taylor) has inserted a “sic” in brackets after the phrase “in the United States of America in which slavery is unknown.”

Broken chains In fact this is one of my pet peeves, a false sic. There is nothing wrong with the sentence; contrary to appearances, it does not make the bizarre assertion it appears to make.

Why not? The answer is one that libertarians in particular should appreciate. Hodgskin was writing at a time when the term “the United States of America” was a plural name and not a singular one, applied to a collection of sovereign states joined in federation and not to a unitary, consolidated nation. Thus the phrase “the United States of America in which slavery is unknown” refers not to the entire entity known as the USA but to that subset of states in the USA that had abolished slavery; the “which” is thus restrictive.

As I noted above, there is no sic in Halévy’s French text. That’s because Halévy understood Hodgskin’s phrase perfectly, rendering it into French as “dans ceux des États-Unis d’Amérique où l’esclavage est inconnu” – “in those of the United States of America in which slavery is unknown.”

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