Ron Paul’s Revolution: Looking back

On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States. It was a historic moment. The United States of America had elected its first black President. I remember listening to the president’s inaugural speech on the radio. (I was driving from the Lake Tahoe area to Santa Cruz, officially moving to the Monterey Bay along with my girlfriend at the time, who had been accepted into UC Santa Cruz while we were in Ghana.) I got chills that ran down my spine. My nipples got hard. The hair on my arm stood up, revealing goosebumps.

I had enough respect for the republic’s history to know that I was listening to one of its greatest triumphs. A member of an ethnic minority, and a group that had been viciously oppressed at that, had been elected to the republic’s highest-ranking democratic office. American society was evolving in a way that made me proud. It was cool, but my elation was tampered due to a different evolution that was going on in my own way of thinking. My thoughts about how societies worked had been radically altered thanks to the presidential candidacy of a little-known Republican Congressman from Texas: Ron Paul.

I came across Ron Paul via YouTube videos that had been shared on MySpace. I was a product of the California public school system. The public school system has two tiers: a good one for rich people and an awful one for the rest of us. I came from a single parent household. My mother had a college degree and was part of the California public school system, but we were still in the “poor” category. In California’s public schools, a binary way of thinking about civics is introduced and hammered home from the age of 5 to the age of 18. Democrats are liberals who prefer higher taxes, listen to scientists, and believe in change, while Republicans are conservatives who prefer lower taxes, listen to Protestant ministers, and believe in maintaining the status quo. This is not a caricature. I believe this is how most Americans viewed civics up until the moment Ron Paul arrived on the national scene via his back-and-forth with Rudy Guilliani.

In short, I was uneducated but enthusiastic about reading and especially history. I had no career at that point in time (I was an informal carpenter’s apprentice from March through November, and a sandwich maker during the rainy holiday season). I became obsessed with Ron Paul videos online. I watched them over and over. I had never heard arguments like his before. I had no idea that you could be a Republican and be against wars on terrorism and drugs. I had no idea Democrats could be so “pragmatic” when it came to these wars. I watched Ron Paul over and over again. Instead of trying to soundbyte his message, he spoke of responsibility and hard money and corporations taking advantage of regulations to enrich themselves at the expense of everybody else. Never had I heard such ideas before!

I was slow to follow up on his reading suggestions, though. I went almost immediately to the websites of Lew Rockwell and the Mises Institute but what I found there was too radical for me. It was too straightforward. They were speaking of things that I considered, due to my public schooling and religious background, to be taboo. There was a hint of racism in some of the articles I saw at these sights. Perhaps because of the cruddy schooling I got in California, I was at the time of Ron Paul’s revolution a left-wing conspiracist of sorts. I marched against the invasion of Iraq in San Francisco. I marched in 2003 and 2004, when opposition was its zenith. I shared Immortal Technique’s music videos on MySpace (you know the ones). I proudly spouted socialist views online and at parties. Republicans were conservatives, and therefore racists and religious bigots. The whole of the American Right was thus unfit for my company.

Yet, slowly and surely, I kept visiting these two sites. The site I visited most often, though, was Campaign for Liberty, run by Anthony Gregory. It served as Ron Paul’s official campaign website and continued to drum up support and solidarity months after Obama had already been sworn into office. The authors on this site kept imploring me to check out this ‘n’ that from the Mises Institute or lewrockwell.com or Jacob Hornberger’s Future of Freedom Foundation. It was a long, slow process. Some of the things said on these sites never sat well with me. Yet, there were also articles on Native American reservations, anti-war movements in the American past, how property rights could save the environment, and how to bring down big corporations.

I gave in. Once the intellectual floodgates were opened, I found FEE, the Independent Institute, Cato, Reason, Cafe Hayek, EconLog, and Liberty. I read libertarian thought every day. I checked Campaign for Liberty when I woke up. During this time I decided to enroll in college. I enrolled at Cabrillo College near Santa Cruz. Cabrillo is located on the beach. It attracts PhDs. My professors there had doctorates from schools like Columbia, Cal and UCLA, UC San Diego, Washington University in Saint Louis, and a plethora of other good second-tier public universities. Ron Paul inspired me to learn, to think for myself.

Next: A libertarian’s education

Bernie fans should want Bernie to lose the primary

In politics, sometimes it’s best to play the long game.
 
Pro-liberty people, and everyone else, will have two options in November. They will have Donald Trump, of farm subsidies, bump stock bans, and tariffs fame, who has overseen us first run a trillion-dollar federal deficit, and they will have Democratic Candidate-Chemical X, who is probably going to be mostly for free college, radically centralized health care, injected with nuclear levels of woke ideological steroids, and will have a “B” somewhere in their name.
 
Of Buttigieg, Beth, Biden and Bernie, only one has a grassroots, large-scale, young-and-old movement behind them, and far more meaningful for the long game of politics is going to be this movement, not the person with their name on the campaign. Leftists are fighting to capture the eternal soul of the States, and therefore the effective ones will use weapons that puncture more than flesh, build infrastructure that survives short-term failure, and mobilize voters past one election cycle.
 
The 2016 Bernie primary voters came back to Bernie at a remarkable rate. This animation is the sign of a movement, and it rings a bell for libertarians from 2008 and 2012. Now, the best case scenario for a Bernie voter is for Bernie to win the nomination. But the best case scenario for a Bernie revolutionary is for Bernie to lose the primary, far before the election.
 
If Bernie wins the nomination, he will certainly lose to Trump in the election. When he loses to Trump in the election, the Democrats will slide more toward centrism, having seen populist leftism crash and burn when it’s on the big stage. There’ll be a bifurcation of the socialists and moderates, with the socialists losing all their Sisyphean-gained infrastructure, and the establishment Democrats disavowing the radicals just like the conservatives disavowed the ethnonationalists last season (notice how right now, Bernie is the most untouchable candidate in the debates — the DNC is seeing how it goes). The momentum of the socialists’ movement will take a huge hit; it almost certainly won’t last four years later. This way, their ideas simply lose. They get close, then they give up.
 
However, if Bernie loses the nomination, another candidate will move forward and take the beating. And no one else pulls off Bernie’s brand and essentializes American socialism like he does. Bernie losing is American socialism losing, just like Labour and Corbyn’s defeat is British socialism losing; Warren or Buttigieg or Biden losing is respectively less and less symbolic. Inversely, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, and Biden taking the punch in November would seem to be a dramatic indictment of the moderate Democrats.
 
Sanders is very popular with a very young crowd. This group has the stamina for a grassroots movement that lasts. And that’s the long game. The American government-electing machine is a gigantic servo, absorbing constituent stress in armored heat baths, depressurizing with fluctuations between Democrat and GOP success, pulling in billions of minute feedback points and stabilizing itself against any revolutionary change. What happens if Sanders does get elected President this year? Four years max — there’s no way he runs at 82. And then another Republican, much, much more conservative than Trump, to undo the welfare additions. The movement dies either way if Bernie proceeds.
 
Bernie fans should want their candidate to lose the primary, so that the base feels cheated by their own, so that another candidate takes the fall against the Emperor, so that the young people voting in their first election get disillusioned with the polls — so that they decide there’s more to instituting reform than checking a box for one person every four years. The Presidency is not necessary to the movement. The influx of successful hard-leftists in lower and federal office came from Bernie’s defeat and the anger thereof — Ocasio-Cortez might never have made it to office without the group Justice Democrats, half of which the founders came directly from the 2016 Bernie Sanders for President campaign.
 
It’s obvious the analogy here. Ron Paul lost painfully twice in a row; if he had beat McCain or Romney, we probably would have had President Obama either way. But him losing to McCain — getting his voice to the millions, with coerced delegates exposing the party corruption, legions of supporters birthed out of thin air, committed to a vast litany of pro-liberty pursuits that exist to this day — was the real victory. President Paul lasts eight years maximum, and might have the prestige of Reagan today (how many Reagan-esque Presidents have we had since?). Failed candidate Paul, on the other hand, is a God.
 
I think some of Sanders’ staff, especially Briahna Joy Gray, know this on an intuitive level. They’re committed to the movement after the man, not the man. But we’ll see where it goes.
 
The most important thing this time, though, will be Bernie not making the mistake of endorsing the DNC candidate, as he did with Clinton. 

Underrated & overrated libertarian thinkers

Here is my take on Tyler Cowen’s views on libertarian thinkers who are either overrated or underrated in shaping the libertarian tradition. Please be aware that I think libertarianism and classical liberalism are two different strands of liberal thought, as argued in more detail in an earlier post here at NOL and in my latest book. Please also note that my judgement will be particularly informed by their views on international relations.

Overrated:

  1. Hans-Hermann Hoppe – completely esoteric ideas about international relations, especially his erroneous and ill-thought idea about private defence through private insurance companies.
  2. Deepak Lal – no complaints about his general work, but his praise for empires was deeply disturbing, even though he meant well. Liberalism and globalization do not need empires, no matter how civilized – in the Oakeshottian meaning – they are meant to be.
  3. Ron Paul – I admire Ron Paul in many ways, but his ideas for ‘a foreign Policy of freedom’ are not much better than Hoppe’s. ‘peace, commerce, and honest friendship’: nice Jeffersonian goals, bad underlying analysis, not least about human nature.

Underrated:

  1. Friedrich Hayek – a far more sophisticated thinker on international relations than he is ever given credit for.
  2. Adam Smith – nowadays erroneously equated with ‘trade leads to peace’ fairly tales. Yet any reader of the complete two volumes of the Wealth of Nations recognizes that the book is also a lot about war and foreign policy, as are his Lectures on Jurisprudence and even a bit in The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Together these make for a full and sophisticated position on international affairs.
  3. David Hume – basically the same as Smith.
  4. Robert Jackson – ok, I am taking liberties here. I do not think Jackson would consider himself a classical liberal or libertarian. But his writings on international relations are important and often have a classical liberal leaning, especially The Global Covenant.

Giving Up On The Masses

In 2012, during Ron Paul’s second presidential candidacy as a Republican, I felt deflated with the masses again. Again, the masses were not going to vote a libertarian into office. It was the same year in which I read Murray Rothbard’s Ethics of Liberty and Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s Democracy: The God That Failed. What struck me at that time was the realization that democracy is actually an extremely poor political system to make society become more libertarian. Democracy is not even a guarantee whatsoever for political and economic freedoms. Its success is dependent on the uprightness of the masses, but where are the masses to stand up against war, bank bailouts, taxation, police aggression etc? If the government is truly a gang of thieves and murderers, as I believe it is, then the voting masses are advocates of theft, harassment, assault, and murder.

I do not believe that the masses are ready for freedom, because freedom means taking responsibility for one’s life and actions – a frightening prospect for the masses who lack the strength to face insecurities in life. Ingrained with fear of their own and their neighbours’ incapability to live a ‘responsible’ life, they are attracted to masters who can arrange their lives for them. The masses have also never thirsted for truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master, and whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim. They want to be comfortable and cuddled to death. Thinking is too much hassle for the mass-man. The masses have moreover a love for egalitarianism and a disdain for those who are different, who are more successful and more beautiful. They hate freedom, because in freedom man naturally maintains his distance from his fellow human beings.

Being discontent with the masses and deflated in my philosophical views on politics and economics, I took Peter Thiel’s following dictum to heart: “The masses have given up on unregulated capitalism, so those who still support unregulated capitalism should give up on the masses.” Instead, I have put my hope on such technological advances of decentralization as cryptocurrencies, seasteading, 3D-printing, and localized energy conservation and production.

Some ramblings on intellectual diversity (in universities and in libertarianism)

I’ve been reading through the ‘comments’ threads this weekend and especially my dialogues with Dr Amburgey (he’s at the University of Toronto’s prestigious business school). Amburgey describes himself as a “pragmatist” or a “centrist” but nevertheless has been a fairly stalwart defender of the Obama administration (except on its egregious violations of our civil liberties) and a blistering critic of the GOP’s right-wing. Reading through our dialogues (something I wish more readers would get involved in), I believe I have found the Left’s glaring weakness in today’s world: It’s de facto intellectual monopoly in Western universities today. Aside from wanting to gratefully thank him for his support and encouragement in our project via the ‘comments’ threads, I thought I would elaborate a bit upon this notion of a lack of diversity within academia.

Intellectual diversity is almost entirely absent in the US academy today. A Georgetown University Law Professor, Nick Rosenkrantz, pointed this out as far as law schools go, but is this dearth of diversity a bad thing? I would argue that ‘no’ it’s not if you’re on the Right, and ‘yes’ it is if you’re on the Left.

Universities have long been a bastion of Leftist thought (I note that this is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if diversity is important to you, for reasons I hope to explain below). Universities are also amongst the most conservative organization in societies (think of what it takes to navigate through the labyrinth of requirements in order to become a member of the professoriate). This is not a coincidence. Leftist thought has, since the advent of socialism in the 18th century, been characterized by it’s conservatism (especially its paternalism). It’s rhetoriticians just disguise it as progressive.

At any rate, Rosenkrantz points out that the Supreme Court of the US (SCOTUS) has five conservative judges and four Leftists, which is extremely unreflective of the law school professoriate. The point made by Rosenkrantz is that law students may not be getting an education that accurately reflects how the real world works.

In essence, law students are getting straw man arguments when it comes to conservatives and libertarians instead of actual conservative and libertarian arguments. This is true, and it’s reflective of the social sciences and of business schools as well. Such an arrangement has served the American Right extremely well over the past three decades, too.

Consider this: If your organization is dedicated to teaching students about this or that, and you only give them half the story, who or what is going to explain the other half? What I’ve found is that nonconformist students (conservatives and libertarians) are very good at taking in the lessons that are taught by Leftists (including their straw men) and supplementing them with their own readings on conservative and libertarian thought. Now contrast this with the conforming student. The one who eats up everything the professor teaches and takes it as more or less the Truth.

Outside of academia, where the battlefield of ideas is much less focused, and has much more money at stake, which student do you think is likely to have an edge intellectually-speaking? The student who read all he was supposed to and then some extra to account for different perspectives, or the student who read all he was supposed to and took it as more or less the Truth?

Many universities have been slow to catch up with other organizations that have recognized the benefits of not only cultural diversity but of intellectual diversity as well.  If the Left wants to mount any sort of counter-attack in the near- or medium-term future, it would do well to open up to the idea of having more actual, intellectual diversity on its faculties.

Leftists often claim that they are losing the battle of ideas because of money (or lack thereof) but this is absurd on its face, and the longer Leftists try to win by this line of reasoning, the deeper will be the hole out of which they will inevitably have to climb.

There is also the argument that Leftists don’t really have an argument. They simply have reactions to new ideas being created and put forth by libertarians (and to a lesser extent, conservatives here in the US, who are heavily influenced by libertarian ideas).

While there is no diversity in academia there is obviously plenty of it outside. I think this shows a healthy “macro” picture, to be honest.

Universities were once independent (from state influence) organizations and that independence helped contribute to a culture that has given the West what it has today. If universities – with their rules and regulations and traditions – lose their place as bastions of Left-wing ideology, what would take their place? Think about it: The university, because of its extremely conservative traditions, actually tempers the thought of socialists, and if they come under assault then hardcore Leftism will simply find another way to manifest itself. Left-wing literature professors are one thing. Left-wing demagogues are quite another.

This ties in quite well with my other observation, in ‘comments’ threads not found here at NOL, that libertarians tend to be anti-education. Many of them justify this reactionary stance because of the de facto monopoly the Left has, but I think this reactionary stance has more to with the broader libertarian movement’s own intolerance of intellectual diversity.

The recently launched liberty.me community is a good example of this. I think about libertarianism’s recent reactionary nature in this way: Libertarianism got hot after Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential run. It got so hot that a small but very visible movement was sparked. After the initial success, though, the movement inevitably fell back into one of cliques, clichés, and group-think mentality for a great number of people excited by Paul’s message. Most people who became involved in libertarianism read one or two books recommended Paul and his acolytes. This process further entrenched them, but from there on out this large segment of the libertarian quadrant simply stopped exploring ideas and engaging in dialogue with intellectual adversaries. ‘Statist’ became a derisive term.

These new online communities have been created for the libertarian who seeks comfort in the presence of others like him, whereas consortiums like NOL (and those found on our blog roll) are a place for us to continue the pursuit for truth and the battle for hearts and minds in an open and competitive environment. As a libertarian I think these circle-jerks that crop up serve a useful social function, but I have to wonder aloud how much learning actually occurs in those places.

Identity Crisis: An anecdote.

Today is liberalism day. A day where “classical liberals” seek to take back the moniker that was lost to them over the 20th century in an attempt to avoid confusion and to help drive home the ideological difference between modern liberals (who support a strong central government for the purposes of wealth redistribution and social control) and classical liberals such as Bastiat, Locke, and Ludwig von Mises (who advocated for little to no government tyranny and emphasized the rights of the individual over that of “society”).

In my personal experience however there is a far more dangerous muddling of ideology at the core of the libertarian movement. That is to say “when should libertarians betray their own values?” Since I was exposed to the ideas of Mises, Rothbard, Hayek and their intellectual proteges Hoppe, Block, Woods, DiLorenzo, Kinsella, Murphy, Ron and Rand Paul, and so many others I have found that there is a disconnect between the values advocated by these authors and the actions taken by them and their followers. This has often resulted in so called libertarians using remarkably non-libertarian tactics to pursue libertarian goals. First let me describe one of these events from my own personal experience and then I will discuss what I think can be done to help the libertarian movement as a whole.

I was introduced to libertarianism by a friend sometime in late 2008 but it wasn’t until the 2010 Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) that I met other libertarians “out in the wild”. I was still ideologically agnostic at the time but leaned towards a more leftist (not liberal) philosophy. I had voted for Obama in 2008 in my naïve belief that “anybody but Bush” was a valid political stance and I had supported the move towards National Healthcare; but over the next few months I was argued into holding a grudging respect for libertarian beliefs and by the time we boarded the train for D.C. I had read most of Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom and listened to a single Thomas DiLorenzo lecture through one half of a pair of headphones but was paying more attention to the other end of those headphones than the lecture droning into my ear.

So as I was walking into the Marriott or Hilton or whatnot I felt less like a fish out of water and more like a lobster in a pot and hearing a page over the loudspeaker for Dick Cheney raised the temperature ever closer to boiling. My compatriot barked a laugh at me when I turned and asked if she realized how dirty I felt being the same building as a war criminal. I was assured that I didn’t need to worry since we wouldn’t be anywhere near the neo-conservatives and would instead be linking up with some friends of hers at the Campaign for Liberty booth. A few awkward greetings later we were directed to a table, given badges with names of people neither of us had ever met, and told to vote in the Straw Poll for Ron Paul and to “do everything we could to not let the badges get punched” which signified that I.D. had been used and was ineligible for further voting. I, always good at following directions, managed with some small sleight of hand to vote and preserve the integrity of the badge, my friend was less subtle and some libertarian woman who was late to the party arrived later that day to find her I.D. already punched and her Straw Poll vote already cast. This small act of fraud was our payment for access to the speeches and Question and Answer later that day.

The speeches were interesting but uneventful. Thomas DiLorenzo on Abraham Lincoln (who else), Thomas Woods plugging one of his books. Rollback, I think, but at this point I own them all and can’t quite distinguish in my memory which one he released that year. The “Southern Avenger” Jack Hunter talked about something that completely escapes my memory though we were seated directly behind him before he went up and my friend’s cellphone going off directly in his ear is one of my fondest memories.

Then we were off to the Q&A featuring Ron Paul, Judge Napolitano with Tom Woods as moderator. At this point I feel the need to point out that throughout the day my friend and I were drinking out of 1 Liter Pepsi bottles that were approximately half Pepsi and half vodka. So at this point her cheeks were more red than Limbaugh’s cheeks and all fear I had of being outed as a “liberal pinko” was removed. In fact I was feeling bold. So as the Q&A reached its midpoint and my friend asked the air “I wonder if Tom Woods is an Anarcho-Capitalist?” I found myself stand up in this room of “right wing nutters” and insert myself into the line of people queued up waiting to ask questions.

Now anyone who enjoys the occasional overindulgence of hops and gets themselves into precarious situations knows the feeling I had at that moment. “Now what am I going to do?” I was in a hall with probably three to four hundred people, a television personality and a United States Congressman on stage in front of me while on camera and I was going to ask the MODERATOR if he had fringe political beliefs that I didn’t really know anything about.

The line in front of me grew shorter and shorter and I swear my blood pressure had to have rose a dozen digits and as I reached the front of the line I stuttered through some thanks to both Ron Paul and Napolitano before turning my gaze onto Woods and requesting his permission to ask him a question instead. At this point I knew I had broken about a dozen rules of etiquette as he mentioned that he would be available after the Q&A and noticeably stepped away from Ron Paul before agreeing to my request. I was in too deep at this point. “Mr. Woods.” I paused still figuring out my phrasing. “Do you think that a Minarchist society could lead to an Anarcho-Capitalist one?” His answer was everything I could have hoped for: “Of course, or else I wouldn’t be pursuing it.” Elated, I returned to my seat and gloated to my friend.

When we returned home I immediately looked for the video on the Campaign for Liberty website. Finding the video was easy enough but for whatever reason my question, and my question alone, was edited out. My only assumption was that it didn’t convey the “party line” that Campaign for Liberty wanted to convey. To me it felt as if I, a pseudo-democrat, was too radical for this so called party of change.

Now I didn’t think about this trip for several years but as I refined my beliefs and found the Rothbardian ideology that I now how hold dear I realized what a betrayal of libertarian beliefs my experience represented. The folks running the Campaign for Liberty booth openly and actively committed fraud in exchange for both personal and political favors while the Campaign for Liberty site runners were actively suppressing the logical conclusion of their belief system in an attempt to pander to the average voter. This was the beginning of my distrust of utilitarianism and of the political wing of the libertarian movement and that distrust has not subsided in the intervening years.

But if not politics then what can we do? I favor a two-pronged approach. The first is obvious: Education. We need to talk about libertarianism as much as possible and that is why I love this blog despite not being able to muster the time to post very often. I personally cannot stand to debate on the internet but some of the comments here and many of the posters make amazing headway into what it means to be a libertarian.

The second is more complex and much more personal. I call it practical (or passive) libertarianism. It is essentially finding it in yourself to embody the ideals of libertarian thought each and every day. Terry Amburgey says that I like to “Quote Scripture” and while he means it in a mocking way it is true that I do look to the writings of Mises and Rothbard for moral guidance. I believe that libertarianism has concrete ethics that help describe what is “right” and what is “wrong” in the world of morality and I make every attempt to live strictly by them.

What does this mean? Well for me it means following the Non-Aggression principle on a daily basis. In other words not committing aggression on persons or property. It means taking personal responsibility for my actions and not attributing blame to society or other abstract groups. It means not doing the obvious things such as stealing or littering but it also means making every attempt to keep money out of the government’s hands and in the hands of individuals by abstaining from buying superfluous goods whose proceeds go directly into the state coffers. This entails not playing the lottery (a bad idea anyway), and by trying to avoid purchasing things with heavy excise taxes.

Does this mean I live like a hermit? Of course not. I have to drive so I am forced into paying the heavy New York State gas tax. I purchase consumer goods as I see fit since sales tax is unavoidable. I am gainfully employed so the Income Tax is removed for me. But I do what I can. I try to minimize the government’s impact on my life. To quote pseudo-libertarian science fiction author Robert Heinlein”

I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”

I suggest you do the same.

What the Hell is a “RINO” Anyway???

I have serious problems understanding the definition of the term ‘RINO’. The term is supposed to mean a Moderate Republican, i.e. a Republican that shares views with a Democrat. However, the term is used by so many contradictory parties that it lacks real meaning. Many people hold up President Reagan as the hard definition of a true conservative, with his quote of “the soul of conservatism is libertarianism”.

In the 2012 election, the four Republican candidates each represented a key demographic of the current Republican base. There was Mitt Romney, a Mormon westerner who had become merged with the moderate eastern Money Trust Rockefeller establishment. There was Rick Santorum, a right-wing Catholic obsessed with social issues and ready to wage a Christian jihad. There was Newt Gingrich, a Baptist-turned-Catholic career politicians who’d passed centrist legislation throughout the Clinton administration. And of course, Ron Paul, a libertarian carrying the youth vote, ironically carrying views of a politician born in the 1890s, who would have been a member of the bipartisan anti-Roosevelt Old Right coalition.

The idea of a RINO came into existence around the campaign of Barry Goldwater, an Arizona Senator, who won the 1964 nomination instead of Nelson A. Rockefeller, the grandchild shared by John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil and Senator Nelson Aldrich, who pitched the original idea for the Federal Reserve. Even though he won the nomination, Goldwater was written off as an “extremist” by many, and Rockefeller was considered a “moderate”. But what does this really mean?

As America was still very homogenous in 1964, most regions had a strong local culture. At the time, the Republican base was comprised of Midwestern Lutherans, Western Mormons, wealthy New England Episcopalians, and transient career military families. At the time, most Southern Baptists and Catholics were still largely Democrats. Goldwater winning Southern states in 1964 did not permanently secure the Solid South as red states, despite the widely toted myth. (Third party Wallace of 1968 and Democrat Carter of 1976 prove this.) As a general phenomenon, the lower-middle-class flyover demographics were known as the extremists, while the upper-middle-class city and suburban folk were known as the moderates.

Despite being categorized as a “right-wing extremist” in 1964, Goldwater still had little in common with the heartland evangelicals of today. Goldwater had no connection to fundamentalist Christianity like Governors Perry or Palin. One side of his family was Jewish, and the other side was Yankee Episcopalians, and Goldwater was an Episcopalian his whole life. Goldwater supported no legislation in regards to gay marriage, drugs, or abortion. Goldwater is directly quoted as saying, “Mark my words, if and when these preachers get control of the Republican party, and sure they’re trying to do so, there’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly these people frighten me”.

Everything Barry Goldwater predicted about the Christian fundamentalist hijack eventually came true. Now the term RINO has a whole new meaning than when two socially liberal Episcopalians were vying for the nomination in 1964. Many Republicans referred to John McCain (a career military man with no regional ties) and Mitt Romney (a flip-flopper from the far left state of Massachusetts) as RINOs or moderates. But when Obama ran against them in 2008 and 2012, his campaign spent countless efforts painting the two candidates as right-wing extremists

Since 2008, the mainstream liberal media outlets have generally painted all Republican candidates in the same stereotype: old, uncool, racist, sexist, cranky, corny, money-hoarding, miserly Mr. Scrooges, obstructing Obama’s hip-and-groovy “CHANGE”. It mattered little how moderate McCain’s and Romney’s records were, the media rhetoric implied that anyone running against Obama had a closeted agenda with the same motivations as the Thurmond, Wallace, or Duke campaigns. Vice President Biden shouted out to an audience during a debate with Paul Ryan, “Romney is gonna put you all back in chains”. The MSM saw no problem with this.

So what are the concrete issues that make or break the difference between the RINOs and a non RINO? Is it the military, war, and foreign policy? Is it economics? Is it Christian social issues? (a dead horse, as far as I’m concerned) Are the rants espoused by Limbaugh, Hannity, and other Fox News anchors the policies that anyone who runs as a Republican are “supposed” to have? Fox anchor Ann Coulter referred to libertarians as “pussies”, and implied that supporting drug legalization was RINO/moderate, by mashing  different ideologies from left and right. Everyone has different definitions of RINO.

So this brings up the question: Was Ron Paul a “RINO”? Fox News certainly said so in the 2012 election. Were Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater “RINOs”? Many Democrats who hate the Tea Party would say so today. Although one must acknowledge Ron Paul’s ultraconservative personal views, one should realize he would give power back to the fifty state governments, with the intention that each American demographic can carve out a haven. There is no point pretending that Ron Paul is a hip guy with young libertarian social ideas: his views have changed little since he was a medical student in the 1950s.

Despite this, Ron Paul had the potential to represent a purge of many issues that the left hates about the Republicans; policies relating to drugs, gays, abortion, corporate bailouts, but most importantly, the wars in the Middle East. This was only exacerbated by Rick Santorum’s extremist Christian authoritarian rants, and his comment that he wanted to “fight against libertarian influence in the Republican party”. Despite the Obama administration’s continued drone warfare allover the Middle East, the Obama 2012 campaign repeated the same 2008 rhetoric that this was Bush’s personal, Republican, corporate, Islamophobic war. Simultaneously, the other three Republicans called Ron Paul an isolationist coward for his foreign policy. Ron Paul could have been the perfect moderate with ideas compromising from both sides, and yet they trashed and defamed him every possible chance.

Unfortunately, it is the Tea Party, and not moderate Republicans or Democrats, who have been blamed for the government shutdown. Personally, I think the Republicans handling the shutdown is a poorly planned reactionary idea. This kind of political activism only works if the libertarian-leaning Republicans were to shut down the government about the wars in the Middle-East, or the incarcerations of non-violent drug offenders. Otherwise, the MSM will just paint them as quintessential obstructionist right-wing cranks, as they have done so far.

McCain’s machine of moderate Republicans have marched in lockstep behind Obamacare, in an attempt to make Ted Cruz and other libertarian-leaning Republicans look like the “extremists”, Obama-haters, and Confederate secessionists. Despite the fact that libertarians are supposed to share a good bit ground with progressives, Democrats and moderates are together pointing to libertarianism “the far right fringe”. Moderate Republicans need to keep in mind that when is all over, the liberal media outlets will put all Republicans, moderate and conservative, in the same category as tongue-speaking, back-alley-abortion-causing, end-of-times, Limbaugh-hypnotized, warmongering, theocratic neo-confederates no matter what.

If liberal Democrats prefer moderate ‘Rockefeller Republicans’, or big government Republicans, let them have each other. If they think the enemy is small town, small business people, let them feel that way. Democrats can have Republicans like the Bushes, an old New England Money Trust family, long term ally of the Rockefellers, with CIA connections and investments in the baby Standard Oil corporations. After all, when corporate exploitation, global imperialism, and war profiteering makes millions, they can cash in and use the money to look humanitarian later in life. Just don’t dress him up like a Texas good ol’ boy, and then blame flyover folk for him.

Not Reagan, Goldwater, Taft, Coolidge, Eisenhower, or possibly even Bush, Sr. would ever have done what George W. Bush did in Iraq and Afghanistan, or what Nixon did in Vietnam. (both cited for the claim: “Republicans are warmongers”) Meanwhile, Democrats Wilson, Truman, and Johnson started long wars based on the idealistic grounds of “spreading democracy”. It is the imperialist Republican war machine and CIA added to the liberal Democrat dream of international government that make a poisonous combination together.

Maybe a RINO is what we want. If RINO means secular Republican; with no evangelical Christian dogma influencing government policy, then RINO is good. If RINO means Republican who embraces science and new technology, then RINO is good. If RINO means anti-war Republican, who wants to cut military spending, then RINO is good. If RINO means socially liberal Republican, then RINO is good. If RINO does not recite unoriginal reactionary propaganda from Fox News, then RINO is good. If RINO is opposed to neo-conservative foreign policy, then RINO is good. Maybe RINO is what we need after all.

barry-goldwater-on-preachers

Ron Paul, Change Agent

From what I can tell, a “change agent” in the lingo of the conspiracy theorist is a person who seems alright on the surface but in reality is bought and paid for by the New World Order/Illuminati/Bilderbergs and whose primary function it to co-opt the opposition and channel their frustration into fruitless endeavors, so that the powers that be may effect the change they desire with virtually no threats to their plan. If someone like Ron Paul can be accused of this, of course, then no one is safe. Which is why using the term “change agent” in this way has little effect. But as an actual agent of change, Ron Paul’s record speaks for itself, I think. No, I don’t mean his legislative record, for this is rarely something anyone should be proud of, and at best serves only to condemn the person in question for the misdeeds they have committed in the name of making law and doing the will of the people. I refer to his other record. His list of achievements in public life outside of the halls of Congress.

The man has single-handedly convinced thousands upon thousands of people to adopt a more freedom-oriented outlook on life, if not also to utterly transform their worldview. And he continues to do so with his latest book, which I received in the mail today not more than a few hours ago. I’m already reading it and in the first chapter he is keen to stress the ideas that liberty and personal responsibility go hand in hand (one might term this a “Virtuous Voluntaryism“) and that an education’s structure and content must be consistent with one another in order to be effective.

I hope that thousands if not millions of people read this book (and/or others like it) and come away from it with a fresh or reinforced opinion on what needs to be done with our education system (hint, the bulk of the fight takes place outside of “the system”), which is in a complete shambles. Because that’s just how many people it is going to take to reform fix restructure completely uproot the current establishment. Doing this is an end in itself, of course. But it is also a means to a far greater goal. Children raised by the state cannot help, on the whole, but to be children raised for the state. Ron Paul forcefully drives home the point that the status quo cannot be successfully challenged without first addressing the wholesale brainwashing of what many deem to be society’s greatest asset: the children. Stop the elites and bureaucrats on this front and victory over them in perhaps every other field of battle is all but assured.

So I encourage you to read this book, to suggest to others that they read it, and once done, to share (your/their) copy with still others (could be wrong, but I think it’s WAY easier to do this with a hard copy than with a Kindle or iPad). That is what I intend to do with mine. I hope and expect to be finished with it within the week.

I Supported Ron Paul Because of Weed… So What?

When Ron Paul campaigned for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, I had no idea who he was nor did I care much for politics, let alone his. Like many recent high school grads, the extent of my interest in politics didn’t go much further than the U.S. Government class I was required to take to graduate. I was what you would call a single issue voter.

The only issue that I really cared about at the time was, admittedly, marijuana legalization. Yes, I was one of the kids that spent his days before–sometimes during–and after school smoking weed. I literally sat through school sleeping until I could leave and go smoke. You could say I was bored with my education. I tired of listening to teachers and their sometimes ludicrous assignments and consigned myself to sitting in the back of the classroom so that I would be allowed to sleep, undisturbed. Apathy dictated my high school years. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy learning, but I was bored and didn’t really give a shit.

Fast forward to the 2012 Republican primaries. It was campaign season, and the debates between Republican candidates Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul were just starting to heat up. To be honest, I was mostly interested in seeing if any of these candidates embraced marijuana legalization. President Obama had never actually opined for the plant’s legalization, but his pro-marijuana statements were enough to get many young peoples’ votes, crucial to his being elected in 2008. This somehow led to the erroneous belief that Obama would push for legalization of the plant, which never happened.

Personally, I wasn’t disappointed. I mean, it’s not like he had promised to legalize. No promises were broken. With the Republican primary race in full swing, I wanted to see whether I actually had any real hope of seeing marijuana legalized, or if I would have to wait yet another four years to get my hopes up. It was soon after that I started to pay attention to Dr. Paul.

Here was this stoop-shouldered, old Texan with a slight stutter who spoke with such passion and reason I couldn’t help but pay attention. Mostly, he talked about economic and foreign policy issues that I had little knowledge of. Even before I knew his stance on ending the War on Drugs, for some reason Dr. Paul’s honest delivery and conviction stood out to me. I knew that he had been in Congress for years, but beyond that I defected to my parents’ opinion of him: crazy.

I started to do some research on Dr. Paul’s background and found that he was a man of extremely reputable character. He was an anomaly from the get-go. Defying conventional opinion of politicians; a brief look at his voting record betrayed the saying that all politicians are liars. With voting records now published online and easily accessible, I would have been able to find out right away if he had voted contradictorily to what he said. Here was a politician that held an ideology that sometimes went against his personal views, yet defended it to the death because of his conviction in its power to affect widespread positive societal improvement.

I suppose at this point it’s important to iterate my own opinions on liberty. Mostly, I don’t think it’s proper to glorify the idea of liberty to the extent that some do, and I think that it even hurts the movement as a whole when some consider themselves missionaries of the ideology. I don’t worship liberty, but I do see it as a fundamental right for humanity—and liberty to me means the ability to make decisions regarding your own social, economic, and political lifestyle, as long as they’re peaceful.

I researched Dr. Paul online, found YouTube videos of him speaking, and was instantly hooked. Beyond marijuana legalization, I found that I agreed with everything that he pushed for: his main issues that stood out to me were a non-interventionist foreign policy, ending the War on Drugs, returning to some semblance of budgetary balance, accountability of the Federal Reserve, and free markets. As I know now, these very ideas form the primary backbone of the liberty movement. Before, liberty was just something I included in the Pledge of Allegiance and was told that it was somehow crucial to being American. I had never bothered to ask why. Once I did, I came upon entire organizations devoted to spreading the ideas of liberty. They’re dedicated to educating any who might listen on the importance of social, economic, and political freedom.

Since initially paying attention to Ron Paul and happening upon the liberty movement, I feel like it is almost my civic duty to at least inform others of these ideas, even if they disagree. These ideas are founded in reason and logic. These days, you’ll find me telling any like-minded friends who will listen how a lazy stoner like me was motivated by liberty not only to get off my ass, but to learn. I’ve come to the conclusion that the ideas are ultimately important beyond me. Although I find it wrong to tell others they hold erroneous opinions, all I can do is to try to help inform and see where that takes them. I don’t think I’m alone in finding Dr. Paul’s passion contagious. At the same time, I’m not glorifying the man, but the ideas that he manages to deliver are powerful, and it’s these ideas that are worth paying attention to.

Even though Dr. Paul did not win the 2012 Republican primary, he instilled something far more important, affecting an entire generation still in its intellectual infancy. I truly believe that these ideas will come to reach more people in the future and will affect many in the same way that they have moved me.

I think it’s only fitting that I end this article in Dr. Paul’s own words:

Ideas are very important to the shaping of society. In fact, they are more powerful than bombings or armies or guns. And this is because ideas are capable of spreading without limit. They are behind all the choices we make. They can transform the world in a way that government and armies cannot. Fighting for liberty with ideas makes more sense to me than fighting with guns or politics or political power. With ideas, we can make real change that lasts.

Libertarian Foreign Policy: A Dialogue on Imperialism

Why Dr Delacroix, I am flattered. Usually only Leftists change the subject when they are stumped. This argument must hold a special place in your heart.

As I said in a response you may have missed, our discussion is probably useful. At its heart lie the issues of credibility and criticality.

Fair enough.

Congressman Paul; volunteered in a debate that the armed forces spent “30″ billions on air conditioning in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

Um, I guess it’s up to me to let you know that you gave yourself an extra ten billion to work with here. Awwwkkward! You originally stated that Ron Paul used $20 billion, not $30 billion. It is of little concern to me that you fudged this number, though, because I know you are a dinosaur rather than a cheater. Your new criteria, once it is restored to the original $20 billion, states that air conditioning and all of the costs associated with it in both Iraq and Afghanistan account for around five percent of the 2010 budget.

That’s absurd? Really? Have you ever heard of the United States Postal Service? What about the Department of Housing and Urban Development? How about Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac? Five percent.

I note that if the US armed forces spend 6 or 7 % [or even 5%!!!] of the money I give them for military operations on air conditioning, they might have some explaining to do. That fact in itself sure wouldn’t be an argument for pulling out of either country.

You are absolutely right about that. Now, did Ron Paul use the air conditioning numbers to argue that our troops should come home, or did he use them to argue that Washington’s spending is totally out of control?

The reason I think you are desperate, Dr Delacroix, is that you are focused on such an irrelevant statement. I mean, for Christ’s sake, I Googled “Ron Paul air conditioning statement” and got a few right-wing webpages screaming that Ron Paul wanted to stop letting troops have air conditioning. Notice that they didn’t actually argue about the number Paul cited. You are quite possibly the only person on the planet who is fixated on this number.

Accusing libertarians of being dogmatic because they will vote for Ron Paul is disingenuous, too. All one has to do is go over to the ‘comments’ section of Reason magazine’s webpage to find out all sorts of opinions on Ron Paul’s policies. I suspect I know why you accuse libertarians of being dogmatic, and I will get back to this shortly.

But first, I want to make it crystal-clear that you are free to vote for whomever you like. You can vote for the guy who thinks that ObamaCare has been great for Massachusetts. You can vote for the guy who thinks the Taliban will be a part of Libya’s next government. You can vote for the guy who thinks that the earth was created six thousand years ago. Or you can vote for the guy who thinks that a national energy plan would reduce the world’s supply of oil coming from the Middle East.

Secondly, I want to make it crystal-clear that I don’t agree with everything Ron Paul says or does. I think criticism is a good thing. Instead of making an ass out of yourself by hooting and hollering about an air conditioning number he cited, though, I think it would be more constructive to talk about his opposition to NAFTA as being “managed trade.” Or his calls to eliminate birthright citizenship from the constitution. Or the racist newsletters that circulated through the South under his name in the 1990′s. Perhaps these things are enough for you not to vote for him. I hope you will be happy with one of the alternatives that the GOP offers.

But let us speak no more of intellectual dishonesty. Nor should we speak anymore of Ron Paul’s confidence in himself and his dogmatism. Allow me to illustrate this in a not-so-nice-but-illuminating-nevertheless kind of way. You said:

Your rebuttal of my answer to the constitutional issue about who can start a war makes no sense. If two joint resolutions of Congress embodied in two public laws are not constitutional measures, I don’t know what is and I am not equipped to pursue the topic.

*sniff* *sniff*

I smell something…

*sniff* *sniff* *sniff*

I. *sniff* Smell. *sniff* BULLSHIT!

I am not quite ready to make you bleed yet. I do not want to make you bleed, but your dogmatic insistence that we fight every fight around the world and your intellectual dishonesty (or cowardice) concerning the constitutionality of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are too dangerous to let pass. But first:

Congressman Paul’s carelessness in this matter he chose to discuss however is enough of a reason to mistrust his judgment. And, of course,there is always the option of saying quickly,” I misspoke in the heat of the discussion.” This kind of admission usually endears candidates to the general public doing them more good than harm. However, Paul has no doubt. I suspect he has no doubts about anything.

Yours is probably the most articulate criticism I have heard yet regarding Ron Paul’s political positions, so it merits a good, thoughtful response. Keep in mind your newfound ignorance regarding The Rule of Law and your incessant calls for an active – no matter what! – overseas presence when I present my case. Also, keep in mind that you and your readers are free to vote for the guy who wants to implement a national energy plan to reduce the world’s supply of oil from the Middle East.

The idea that Paul knows everything about anything is one that sure does look a lot like dogmatism at first glance. But Ron Paul will be the first to claim that he does not know everything. That’s why he insists that everything go through the Constitutional process – including overseas activities. That is to say, Ron Paul’s idea of dogmatism is to adhere to The Rule of Law. Imagine that!

If you can provide me some examples of him suggesting otherwise, or that he knows better than everybody else and is therefore qualified to flaunt The Rule of Law, then by all means provide it here. Otherwise, I think it would now be a good idea to focus back on the calls made by you to go to war in Rwanda, or the Balkans, or Iraq, or North Korea, or Venezuela at the first sign of trouble.

I want to take us back to issue of dogmatism and intellectual dishonesty really quickly. In a previous reply you stated the following:

On moral responsibility, I chose Rwanda of an extreme case where it would have been easy to intervene productively at little cost or risk. That’s what this country did we respect to the beginning genocide of Kosovars against a much more powerful and sophisticated oppressor.

Your words speak for themselves on the Rwanda genocide.

Your moral indignation towards those of us who would leave the problems of others to themselves may be understandable, but first I have to ask you a quick question (this will be the second time I have done so): which side of the Rwandan war should we have intervened on behalf of? I think it would be pertinent to remember that you are answering the question against the backdrop of a conversation that is centered around dogmatism and intellectual dishonesty. And please, remember that this is a conversation that is also trying to gauge the level humility that each of us has when it comes to recognizing the sheer ignorance that each of us has on any number of issues.

Or would you just simply send our troops to Rwanda with no clear-cut goals, except to stop the fighting between the Hutus and the Tutsis? I think that a demand from libertarians for our politicians to adhere to the Rule of Law hardly qualifies as dogmatic. I think that a demand from hawks for our politicians to do more overseas regardless of the Rule of Law does qualify as dogmatic. Thus to the hawk, the libertarian is dogmatic because he demands that the hawk adhere to the Rule of Law. I can see how you have become confused on the issue now.

Libertarian Foreign Policy: A Dialogue on Imperialism

As I said in a response you may have missed, our discussion is probably useful. At its heart lie the issues of credibility and criticality.

Congressman Paul volunteered in a debate that the armed forces spent “30″ billions on air conditioning in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Mr Paul as a congressman and as a presidential candidate is responsible for anything he choses to say. It matters not if the thinks he got this info from a reliable source. You and I equally do not care much about the substantive meaning of the figure. However, if it’s absurd on its face is absurd on its face, his repeating it speaks to his criticality or to his intellectual honesty. Both qualities are important in a presidential candidate, I think. And, of course, I am leery of the dogmatism of Libertarians. Sometimes or often, it makes them unable to spot absurdity. Thus, the discussion of this Paul affirmation is not absurd.

The $30 figure for air conditioning needs to be applied to operational costs of the DOD, not to the total budget. The latter includes research and development and big obligations to military personnel not connected to any campaign, veterans’ benefits, for example. Operational costs properly defined constitute about 60% of total budget. Applying these figures to 2010, a high budget year, I find that the alleged air conditioning expenses cited by Ron Paul amount to 6% to 7 % of military expenditures in Iraq and in Afghanistan, not the 3% you state. That is absurd.

I note that if the US armed forces spend 6 or 7 % of the money I give them for military operations on air conditioning, they might have some explaining to do. That fact in itself sure wouldn’t be an argument for pulling out of either country.

Congressman Paul’s carelessness in this matter he chose to discuss however is enough of a reason to mistrust his judgment. And, of course,there is always the option of saying quickly, “I misspoke in the heat of the discussion.” This kind of admission usually endears candidates to the general public doing them more good than harm. However, Paul has no doubt. I suspect he has no doubts about anything.

I suspect that Congressman Paul’s enthusiastic rigidity accounts for the fairly high poll figures he regularly enjoys. I am guessing that it is also responsible for the fact that his numbers have not moved in months of campaigning. There are zealots and there are others. Again, I regret this situation because we have so much in common in about every other area.

Your rebuttal of my answer to the constitutional issue about who can start a war makes no sense. If two joint resolutions of Congress embodied in two public laws are not constitutional measures, I don’t know what is and I am not equipped to pursue the topic.

Libertarian Foreign Policy: A Dialogue on Imperialism

What price for imperial peace?

Is it the case that you endorse and confirm the statement Ron Paul made voluntarily, on his own that he armed forces spend $20 billion a year on air conditioning in Iraq and in Afghanistan?

Dude, this is the most absurd subject to be talking about. You’re splitting hairs. You’re getting desperate! However, if I must, I endorse his claim. I cannot confirm it because I do not think I have the resources to do so. If I do have the resources to do so, I do not have the skills necessary to do so. Let’s put this in yet another perspective, since you won’t take a former Brigadier General/West Point graduate/logistician’s rough estimate seriously.

The Department of Defense’s 2010 base budget was almost $664 billion. The former Brigadier General said that $20 billion is spent on air conditioning (he included raw fuel, transport, and security in his estimate). My calculator is telling me, then, that the total amount of money spent on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan consumes about three percent of the DoD’s annual budget (if we are to take the former Brigadier General’s estimates seriously). Given that we have been occupying a state that is located in one of the hottest areas of the world, I do not think that this is such an absurd estimate. However, if you able to provide me with some official figures then I will retract my endorsement of this statement and condemn Ron Paul to a demagogic hell.

About Gingrich’s alleged misstatements, I don’t know what you mean. Please, stop treating as obvious what others may not have seen, heard of, or noticed or may not exist at all.

I confess that I have not watched any of the debates. I go to school all day and work all night. There is no rest for the wicked! Since you want some sort of proof that Newt Gingrich is an ignoramus, I will refer you to his campaign page on foreign policy – oops! I mean national security – for an example. Number 5 on his list of things to do is “implement an American Energy Plan to reduce the world’s dependence on oil from dangerous and unstable countries, especially in the Middle East.” Got that Dr Delacroix? Implement an American energy plan to reduce the world’s dependence on oil from blah blah blah. I am deliberately choosing to bypass the absurdities associated with his calls for “energy independence,” of course.

Just for your readers’ sake, I think it would be a good idea to contrast this with Ron Paul’s official statement on dangerous and unstable sources of oil. First of all, I had to go to the “Energy” page, not the “National Defense” page, to find out about his thoughts on foreign sources of oil.
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There was nothing at all said about foreign sources of oil. Not a goddamn word, Dr Delacroix. Yet you slander him as an isolationist.

However, they take us a long way from your original statement on the illegality, the unconstitutional character of these wars.

I’m going to ask you for a third time (not that I’m keeping track or anything): what part of “only Congress can declare war” don’t you understand?!

Perhaps a different angle can be used to illustrate my point on this issue: the Department of Education was created by an act of Congress, so does that make it constitutional? It’s a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question (unless you’re a Leftist, of course).

On moral responsibility, I chose Rwanda of an extreme case where it would have been easy to intervene productively at little cost or risk. That’s what this country did we respect to the beginning genocide of Kosovars against a much more powerful and sophisticated oppressor.

Your words speak for themselves on the Rwanda genocide.

Your comparison between the mess in the Balkans and the mess in the African Great Lakes region is, like your comparison between the U.S. and Libya, superficial at best.

I’ll keep this brief. The Balkans are in Europe and neighbor a sizable number of allied states, and we picked sides (losing Russia in the process) before we started bombing.

may be willing to concede that non-intervention is an immoral doctrine if you can answer me this simple question: which side of the Rwandan war should we have picked?

Libertarian Foreign Policy: A Dialogue on Imperialism

Again, the soup is too rich. I am going to let most of what you say stand except two things:

1 Is it the case that you endorse and confirm the statement Ron Paul made voluntarily, on his own that he armed forces spend $20 billion a year on air conditioning in Iraq and in Afghanistan? I ask because it’s a measure of Ron Paul’s seriousness and of his followers, with respect to simple facts.

In this connection: It’s clear that Herman Cain knows little about anything outside the country. I don’t doubt Congressman Paul knows much more. About Gingrich’s alleged misstatements, I don’t know what you mean. Please, stop treating as obvious what others may not have seen, heard of, or noticed or may not exist at all.

2 Your sophisticated musings about what constitutes the right to wage war may well be worth considering. You make good arguments that they are worth it. However, they take us a long way from your original statement on the illegality, the unconstitutional character of these wars. At the time, you sound as if you were parroting the left-wing yahoos on the topic.

On moral responsibility, I chose Rwanda of an extreme case where it would have been easy to intervene productively at little cost or risk. That’s what this country did we respect to the beginning genocide of Kosovars against a much more powerful and sophisticated oppressor.

Your words speak for themselves on the Rwanda genocide.

Libertarian Foreign Policy: A Dialogue on Imperialism

Now I got you right where I want you. Let’s start with your assertion that you are not anti-Muslim. I wholly agree with you, and reading back on our first exchange (Peace At All Costs…) it is clear to me that you were making exactly the points that you mention above. Here is what you said:

Jihadism does not mean “re-conquest” of what was once Muslim but conquest or domination of the whole world. (See the Hamas Charter on this blog). The only acceptable outcomes are conversion or living as dhimmis, second class citizens, for Christians and Jews. Pagans – that would include Santa Cruz Buddhists, as well as Hindus – can be slaughtered freely or reduced to slavery under Islamic law. In fact, any Muslims man can seize any “pagan” and make him or her a slave. Female slaves are called “concubines.”The Muslims scriptures thus clearly condone rape. The rational Muslims I know will say, “ That was a long time ago. We would not do it now.” In the meantime, the permission to act in this manner remains on the book. It can be invoked at any time and is. I don’t know for sure but I would bet that there is not a single fatwa condemning any of these outrageous acts.

I can see now that you were really attacking the notion of Political Correctness that is so prevalent in the minds of most young people these days. I don’t care what everybody else says, you are a very, very good teacher.

Moving on, let’s go over the case of Rwanda really quickly, so that misunderstandings over the doctrine of nonintervention can be cleared up. You said:

The most useful thing you did recently to help this cause is to affirm clearly that we, as a nation, have no responsibility toward the victims of mass massacres in which we could intervene at little cost and at little risk to ourselves. I refer to Rwanda, of course and not to Iraq where there was always much risk.

We have radically different moral compasses. There is an impassable gulf there.

This is not really an instance of morality. The horrors of massacres and genocide make me sick to my stomach to think about, but that by itself is no reason to send a military into an area that is suffering.

We have to think things through. For example, should we have intervened in Rwanda on behalf of the Hutus or the Tutsis? That in itself presents a great problem. You may reply with an emphatic “who cares, they are all slaughtering each other!“, of course, but then this begs the question as to what our military should do upon arrival. Showing up to a state, no matter how divided, uninvited and with the intent to make everybody play nice together doesn’t sound like my idea of a solid plan to prevent violence and bring about democracy.

On top of this, how would the rest of the region perceive this “humanitarian mission” undertaken by the West? Is it not true that most of the states in Rwanda’s region of the world are governed by former guerrilla leaders who won their power under the guise of anti-imperialism? You will no doubt respond with another “who cares, they are slaughtering each other, and if we can take a few dictators with us, then it’s all the more reason to do it!” Yet now we have created a situation that involves not just the failures of one post-colonial state, but we have drawn in regional players to boot. Instead of a civil war with minimal interference from neighbors, we have a regional problem and one that gives those ex-guerrillas more reasons to justify their brutal regimes.

In essence, instead of a small intervention with little or no costs, what we would probably get is a protracted regional war in which the republic’s safety is in no danger at all. And just think about the image of the United States around the world in a situation like this. I’m sure other states would be very understanding of our position that we are only using our military there to bring about peace, even as all-out war descends across the entire region and it becomes apparent that Washington never really had a plan in the first place, save to prevent genocide among the Hutus and Tutsis without taking sides.

I hate Ron Paul! I hate Ron Paul! I hate Ron Paul!

Ron Paul was using this statement by a former Brigadier General in regards to the air conditioning costs. Is a highly-ranked logistician and West Point graduate’s rough estimate not good enough for you? I’d be willing to condemn Ron Paul as a demagogue if you could provide me with some exact budget numbers from the DoD. Otherwise, I see no reason not to believe a former General’s lamentations regarding Washington’s profligate spending on our “nation-building” exercises.

This argument is also absurd when we remember that Ron Paul said this during a live televised debate. Even if this number turns out to be false – and we have absolutely no reason or evidence to suggest that it is – such a statement should be pretty well-ignored when we consider some of the whoppers that the other candidates have come up with. I am thinking specifically of your pets Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich.

The Constitution vs. “Congressional authority”

This is what I mean by tinkering with words. I thought it was something that only liberals do, but apparently I am wrong.

All name-calling and poo-pooing aside, I think that something important is at stake here: namely The Rule of Law. If we continue to let elites define the letter of the law as they go, then we will continue to see our liberties slip from our grasp.

Article 1 Section 8 of the constitution clearly, explicitly, and plainly states that “The Congress shall have the Power To […] declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;”

We already know what letters of marque and reprisal means because you have mocked David Theroux for it in the recent past. Yet, if you think about it, turning bin Laden over to bounty hunters seems like a mighty smart thing to do after ten years of hindsight. Perhaps Mr. Theroux is just a cowardly pacifist, but then again maybe he is concerned that Washington’s policies abroad are eroding The Rule of Law.

The Joint Resolution did indeed give the President the authority to wage war against the perpetrators of 9/11. Ooops. Here we are ten years later, and Osama bin Laden is dead. He was killed in Pakistan. Our military is now working with al-Qaeda (in Afghanistan), and that’s actually a generous way of putting it.

More “congressional authorization”: The Use of Military Force Against Iraq. Ooops. Here I think it would be pertinent to ask “what does ‘military force’ mean?” Evidently it meant removing a dictator from power within 3 weeks, and then implementing policies meant to transform Iraq into a multi-party democracy in the middle of the Islamic world. Eight years later, we are still there, and 700,000 innocent people have been murdered in the ensuing chaos caused by “congressional authority”.

I guess I’ll ask the question again: what part of “only Congress can declare war” don’t you understand?

Declaring war gives a nation and its policymakers a clear-cut goal. It eliminates the ambiguities associated with “congressional authorization” for something or other regarding foreign affairs. Declaring war is a precise and serious way of telling citizens and enemies alike that all options to come to an understanding have been exhausted. Declaring war is the most honest and straightforward way of dealing with hostile polities in the diplomatic arena, and as such, it is the most fitting way for a republic composed of free citizens to go about engaging in international squabbles.

It also eliminates the loopholes created by congressional authorization techniques, techniques that have been used for centuries by power-hungry tyrants to get around The Rule of Law.

Libertarian Foreign Policy: A Dialogue on Imperialism

Brandon: I stand corrected on the unimportant issue of whether you belong to the Libertarian Party or not. Most of your assertions could come straight out of one of the Libertarian organizations; that’s what misled me. Yet, I confess that you are not a Libertarian but an orthodox libertarian (small “l”).

I think our conversations are fairly useful to the many who are repelled by orthodox libertarians although they have much analysis and many positions in common with them.

The most useful thing you did recently to help this cause is to affirm clearly that we, as a nation, have no responsibility toward the victims of mass massacres in which we could intervene at little cost and at little risk to ourselves. I refer to Rwanda, of course and not to Iraq where there was always much risk.

We have radically different moral compasses. There is an impassable gulf there.

The second problem I have with orthodox libertarians and that you illustrate concerns the use of facts. As you know, in one Republican debate, candidate Ron Paul affirmed, under his own power, with no incitement, that the US armed forces spent twenty billion dollars a year on air-conditioning alone in Iraq and in Afghanistan. No Libertarian and no orthodox libertarian of note took the trouble to question him on this absurd figure.

You too, seem to not pay enough attention to facts that are both important and easy to ascertain. I find this common among followers of severe political or religious doctrines. Here is your latest example.

You take to me to task tersely for something we would agree is very important: not understanding the constitutional provision that places the initiation of war within the province of congressional action. In particular, you insist that I and my readers agree with you that both the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War are illegal, unconstitutional. Here are the relevant facts:

A Joint Resolution of Congress was passed on September 18th 2001. It gave the President authority to use all necessary force against against whoever he determined planned, committed, or aided the attack on 9/11. (Public Law 107-40.) The votes were: 401 – 1 and 98 – 0.

How is that for Congressional authorization?

“Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq” was passed October 16th 2002. (Public Law 107-243.) The votes were 297-133 and 77 – 23. That’s comfortably more than 2/3 majority in both houses.

It’s disconcerting to me that sometimes, you seem to get your information impressionistically only and only from the liberal media.

I am not blameless myself. My statement that “95%” of terrorist acts in the past twenty years were committed by people who called themselves Muslim was a bit overblown. That statement needs correction. See below but let me explain my mistakes.

I did not include much of Columbia in my mental count of terrorist acts because I am under the impression that there have been few intentional homicidal acts committed in Columbia not directed at one chain of command or another (not civilians). In addition, it seems to me that so many homicidal acts there are connected with the drug trade that there is little room left in the numbers for victims of terrorism as conventionally defined.

As for the Tamil Tigers, I have followed their story from their beginnings to their recent end. They were formally classified as a terrorist organization by a large number of governments. Yet I don’t think they committed a large number of terrorist acts defined as deliberate acts of violence against civilians. They were responsible for considerable collateral damage, I think, they were callous, but that’s different.

Thanks to your influence, I have become more conscious of what I mean by terrorism. It includes intentionality and blindness toward the (civilian) victims. Thus, I have revised my concept of terrorism. I will be more precise in the future.

In response to your intervention, I am reducing my estimate of worldwide responsibility for terrorism by people who claim to be Muslims from 95% to 85%. That’s a big reduction of more than 10%. Yet, it has not implications at all with respect to the substance of my argument.

And I repeat that I am not anti-Muslim but that I deplore vigorously the moral blindness of American Muslim organizations. By the way, for readers who are interested, there is a good, thick recent book by a Muslim scholar that both documents and, ironically, illustrates the same blindness: Akbar, Ahmed. 2010. Journey Into America: The Challenge of Islam. Brookings: Washington D.C.