Tag Archives | Terror

Ron Paul in the Debates, Part 3

Once again, summaries (paraphrases, not exact quotes) of Ron Paul’s answers from tonight’s debate.

Introduce yourself briefly.

I’m a Congressman from Texas in my 10th term; I’m the champion of the Constitution.

How soon should we leave Iraq?

Ron Paul The sooner we leave, the better; it was a mistake to go in and it’s a mistake to stay; if you get the diagnosis wrong you should change the treatment. We’re not making progress; there were no weapons of mass destruction; we went in under a UN resolution and not because we were threatened; we’re more threatened by staying than by leaving.

You voted for the bill calling for a 700-mile fence between the U.S. and Mexico. Do we need a similar fence for Canada?

No, and anyway the fence was the least of my reasons for voting for that bill. Border security and enforcing the law are important. I’m against amnesty. If you subsidise something, you get more of it. We subsidise illegal immigration with amnesty, birthright citizenship, and publicly-fund education and health care. We do need immigrant workers, but if we had a genuine free market they wouldn’t be the scapegoat.

If you think English should not be the official language, raise your hand.

Paul didn’t. [I’d like to ask Paul where in the Constitution it says we should have an official language. – RTL]

As a former Libertarian candidate, how do you view issues of church and state?

The First Amendment says Congress shall make no law. We shouldn’t have laws made at the Federal level; leave it to local people, local officials, the state level. We don’t have perfect knowledge and shouldn’t have some central authority in Washington telling us all what to do and imposing a one-size-fits-all solution on everybody and ruining things for the whole country, as in Roe v. Wade.

In 2005 President Bush signed an energy bill giving tax breaks and subsidies to oil companies; at a time when they’re making record profits is this appropriate?

The profits as such aren’t the issue; they would be fine if they were earned in the free market. I object to their receiving subsidies and R&D money. But any discussion of energy policy has to deal with foreign policy; we’re fighting in the Middle East, we overthrew Mossadegh in Iran, because we succumb to the temptation to protect the interest of the oil industry.

Should the military’s policy on gays be changed?

I think the current policy is a decent one. The real problem is that we see people as groups instead of individuals. We don’t have rights as gays or women or minorities; we receive our rights from our Creator as individuals. If homosexual behaviour in the military is disruptive it should be dealt with; but if heterosexual behaviour in the military is disruptive it should be dealt with too. Apply the same standards to everybody.

If you think gays should be able to serve openly in the military, raise your hand.

Paul didn’t. [Why doesn’t this contradict what he just said above? – RTL]

Would you pardon Scooter Libby?

No. [Candidates were asked to stick to one-word answers. This didn’t stop Giuliani from blathering on forever. – RTL]

My brother died in Iraq. What can you tell me?

We’ve been doing this for four years and it’s not working. We’re losing 100 men and women a month, over 1000 a year. If we want the Iraqis to take up the responsibility, we need to give them an incentive. We should stop patrolling the streets; that’s a job for the police, not for the army. Yes, we should promote our goodness overseas, but through setting an example and encouraging emulation, not through the barrel of a gun and through armed force as the neocons believe. Woodrow Wilson also told us we could promote democracy that way; we’ve seen that it doesn’t work.

What is today’s most pressing moral issue?

The recent acceptance of the promotion of preemptive war. In the past we declared war in defense of our liberty or to aid someone. We’ve now rejected the just war theory of Christianity; and tonight we even hear candidates who are not even willing to rule out a preemptive nuclear strike against a country that has done us no harm. We should defend our liberties and rights, but not try to change the world by armed force, by starting wars.

What has the Republican administration done most wrong?

Bush ran on a platform of a humble foreign policy, no nation-building, not policing the world. Instead we’re spending a trillion dollars a year to maintain the power of our empire around the world. We need that money for education and medical care here.

How can the GOP reach out to disaffected moderate Republicans?

(Almost everyone got to answer this question, but not Paul.)

P.S. Having grumped earlier about Jon Stewart’s dissing of Ron Paul, I owe Stewart a nod for his excellent interview with Paul last night.

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.

Three Bad Things in Decreasing Order of Importance, Followed By a Good Thing

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

Your tax dollars at work Who are those guys in Guantanamo, and what awful crimes have they committed, really? Check out these interviews: audio here, transcript here. (Conical hat tip to Reed Richter.)

Apparently President Bush was a sex slave during World War II. At any rate, he has accepted the Japanese government’s apology for the treatment of wartime sex slaves, which he could hardly have done had he not been one …. (Conical hat tip to Elizabeth Brake.)

Tom Sawyer’s Island is one of my favourite parts of Disneyland; it’s a nice break from the rest of the park, inasmuch as it has no rides or special effects, just places to play and wander. Well, apparently Disneyland is about to ruin it.

On a brighter note, portions of a lost work by Alexander of Aphrodisias, the foremost ancient commentator on Aristotle and a pretty smart thinker himself (his book On Fate rocks), have been discovered. (Conical hat tip to LRC.)

Clanking Glory

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

In his 1967 book Containment and Change, New Left leader and former SDS president Carl Oglesby (about whom I’ve blogged previously) wrote the following still all-too-timely passage. (If it sounds a bit like Rothbard, well, Rothbard’s Transformation of the American Right shows up in the footnotes.)

The corporate state has effective control of key elements of the communications system, exclusive control of the primary ganglia of political and economic power, and access to a matured nationalist ideology pregnant with violence and capable of justifying any reasonably sophisticated or adroit authoritarian action against organized dissent. … [T]he central feature of the fascist state is the political alliance or identity of big government and big business, and the power of such an alliance to work its will without significant restraints ….

Carl Oglesby The one and only basic question which Americans now have to ask themselves is whether or not they want to be politically free. … The superstate … may give of its bounty to those who will ritually humble themselves before it. But the state cannot give political freedom. It is neither in the nature of the state that it can give political freedom nor in the nature of political freedom that it can be given. Political freedom is not a license to be purchased or petitioned from a higher power. …

This central question is not clarified, it is obscured, by our common political categories of left, right, and center; it is not clarified, it is obscured, by the traditional American debate about socialism versus capitalism versus the Keynesian mixed economy. The socialist radical, the corporatist conservative, and the welfare-state liberal are all equally capable of leading us forward into the totalized society. Whether central planning should be conducted by government or corporate hands is a question whose realism has disappeared. The urgent question is about the locus of power in the community: Is it in the state or is it in the people? And in our American time, our American place, the main principle of the radically humanist politics is this: Any decision not made by the people in free association, whatever the content of that decision, cannot be good. … The primary task of the humanist is to describe and help to realize those political acts through which the power of the central authoritarian monolith can be broken and the political life of man reconstituted on the base of the associational, democratic, nonexclusive community. …

This is not merely a leftist’s challenge to other leftists. As much as it is in the grain of American democratic populism, it is also in the grain of the American libertarian right.

The right wing in America is presently in a state of almost eerie spiritual disarray. Under one and the same banner, joining the John Birch Society, out on the rifle range with the Minutemen, chuckling through the pages of the National Review, the conservative right wing of imperialist, authoritarian, and even monarchist disposition enjoys the fraternity of the libertarian right wing of laissez faire, free-market individualism. These two groupings could not possibly have less in common. Why have the libertarians conceded leadership to the conservatives? Why have the traditional opponents of big, militarized, central authoritarian government now joined forces with such a government’s boldest advocates?

They have done so because they have been persuaded that there is a clear and present danger that necessitates a temporary excursion from final values. They should know better. They should know that for the totalitarian imperialists there is always a clear and present danger, that it is pre-eminently through the ideology of the Foreign Threat, the myth of the tiger at the gates, that frontier and global imperialism and domestic authoritarianism have always rationalized themselves. …

Garet Garrett It would be a piece of great good fortune for America and the world if the libertarian right could be reminded that besides the debased Republicanism of the Knowlands and the Judds there is another tradition available to them – their own: the tradition of Congressman Howard Buffett, Senator Taft’s midwestern campaign manager in 1952, who attacked the Truman Doctrine with the words: “Our Christian ideals cannot be exported to other lands by dollars and guns. … We cannot practice might and force abroad and retain freedom at home. We cannot talk world cooperation and practice power politics.” There is the right of Frank Chodorov, whose response to the domestic Red Menace was abruptly to the point: “The way to get rid of communists in government jobs is to abolish the jobs.” And of Dean Russell, who wrote in 1955: “Those who advocate the ‘temporary loss’ of our freedom in order to preserve it permanently are advocating only one thing: the abolition of liberty. … We are rapidly becoming a caricature of the thing we profess to hate.” Most engaging, there is the right of the tough-minded Garet Garrett, who produced in 1952 a short analysis of the totalitarian impulse of imperialism which the events of the intervening years have reverified over and again. Beginning with the words, “We have crossed the boundary that lies between Republic and Empire,” Garrett’s pamphlet unerringly names the features of the imperial pathology: dominance of the national executive over Congress; subordination of domestic policy to foreign policy; ascendency of the military influence; the creation of political and military satellites; a complex of arrogance and fearfulness toward the “barbarian” and, most insidiously, casting off the national identity for an internationalist and “historic” identity – the republic is free; the empire is history’s hostage.

This style of political thought, rootedly American, is carried forward today by the Negro freedom movement and the student movement against Great Society-Free World imperialism. That these movements are called leftist means nothing. They are of the grain of American humanist individualism and voluntaristic associational action; and it is only through them that the libertarian tradition is activated and kept alive. In a strong sense, the Old Right and the New Left are morally and politically coordinate.

Yet their intersection can be missed. Their potentially redemptive union can go unattempted and unmade. On both sides, vision can be cut off by habituated responses to passé labels. The New Left can lose itself in the imported left-wing debates of the thirties, wondering what it ought to say about technocracy and Stalin. The libertarian right can remain hypnotically charmed by the authoritarian imperialists whose only ultimate love is Power, the subhuman brown-shirted power of the jingo state militant, the state rampant, the iron state possessed of its own clanking glory. If this happens, if the new realities are not penetrated and a fundamental ideological rearrangement does not take place, then this new political humanism which has shown its courage from Lowndes County to Berkeley will no doubt prove unworthy of more than a footnote in the scavenger histories of our time. And someone will finally have to make the observation that the American dream did not come true, that maybe it was quite an idle dream after all and the people never really had a chance. The superstate will glide onward in its steel and vinyl splendor, tagging and numbering us with its scientific tests, conscripting us with its computers, swaggering through exotic graveyards which it filled and where it dares to lay wreaths, smug in the ruins of its old-fashioned, man-centered promises to itself.

Last Throes

[cross-posted at Liberty & Power]

Brindisi column Writing of the defeat of the Byzantine forces at Brindisi in 1156, John Julius Norwich observes:

It was the same old lesson – a lesson that should by now have been self-evident, but one that the princes of medieval Europe seemed to find almost impossible to learn: that in distant lands, wherever there existed an organized native opposition, a temporary occupying force could never achieve permanent conquest. Whirlwind campaigns were easy, especially when backed by bribes and generous subsidies to the local malcontents; when, however, it became necessary to consolidate and maintain the advantage gained, no amount of gold was of any avail. … The outcome of the recent campaign – however promisingly it had begun – had not been unlucky. It had been inevitable.
(Byzantium: The Decline and Fall (NY: Knopf, 1995), pp. 115-116.)

Anscombe in Alabama

At the end of this week I’m off (if traveling a few blocks from my office counts as “off”) to the Austrian Scholars Conference, where I’ll be giving a paper on Austro-libertarian themes in the work of Elizabeth Anscombe. Here’s the first paragraph:

Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe (1919-2001) – better known as Elizabeth Anscombe, Liz Anscombe, or G. E. M. Anscombe – was one of the foremost figures of 20th-century Anglophone philosophy, making important Elizabeth Anscombecontributions to philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, and moral philosophy. Yet this monocle-wearing, cigar-smoking, multilingual Cambridge don and mother of seven, a Catholic social conservative who ate out of tuna cans while lecturing and once intimidated a mugger into leaving her alone, who shocked the right with her antiwar activism and the left with her anti-abortion, anti-contraception activism, and who coined the term “consequentialism” (she was against it), is far less well known among Austro-libertarians than among professional philosophers. The aim of this paper is to show why Anscombe deserves the attention of Austro-libertarians.

Read the rest here.

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