This post is by way of addendum to Eric Parks' recent article The last exit ramp on the road to unlimited government. I find Eric's post noteworthy not least because it reminds me of how undiscerning and crude people have become in the face of the most blatant violations of justice and the rule of law. The position taken by the Institute for Justice (see Eric's post) is a pleasant exception, deserving wide dissemination.
On a different level, this post on Hayek's thesis that in a politicised society the worst get to the top forms part of the background to Eric's observations.
I like the author's definition of a statist, i.e. a person passionately asking for leadership by the worst:
“Someone who learns nothing from human nature, economics, or experience, and repeats the same mistakes over and over again without a care for the rights and lives of people he crushes with his good intentions.”
Even the worst features of the statist reality, Hayek showed, “are not accidental byproducts” but phenomena that are part and parcel of statism itself. He argued with great insightfulness that “the unscrupulous and uninhibited are likely to be more successful” in any society in which government is seen as the answer to most problems. They are precisely the kind of people who elevate power over persuasion, force over cooperation. Government, possessing by definition a legal and political monopoly of the use of force, attracts them just as surely as dung draws flies. Ultimately, it is the apparatus of government that allows them to wreak their havoc on the rest of us.
It is ironic but perhaps sadly appropriate that Attorney General Eric Holder would choose a law school, Northwestern University, to deliver a speech earlier this month in which he demolished what was left of the rule of law in America.
In what history likely will record as a turning point, Attorney General Holder bluntly explained that this administration believes it has the authority to use lethal force against Americans if the President determines them to be a threat to the nation. He tells us that this is not a violation of the due process requirements of our Constitution because the President himself embodies “due process” as he unilaterally determines who is to be targeted. As Holder said, “a careful and thorough executive branch review of the facts in a case amounts to ‘due process.’” That means that the administration believes it is the President himself who is to be the judge, jury, and executioner.
As George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley wrote of the Holder speech:
“All the Administration has said is that they closely and faithfully follow their own guidelines — even if their decisions are not subject to judicial review. The fact that they say those guidelines are based on notions of due process is meaningless. They are not a constitutional process of review.”
It is particularly bizarre to hear the logic of the administration claiming the right to target its citizens according to some secret selection process, when we justified our attacks against Iraq and Libya because their leaders supposedly were targeting their own citizens! We also now plan a covert war against Syria for the same reason.
I should make it perfectly clear that I believe any individual who is engaging in violence against this country or its citizens should be brought to justice. But as Attorney General Holder himself points out in the same speech, our civilian courts have a very good track record of trying and convicting individuals involved with terrorism against the United States. Our civilian court system, with the guarantee of real due process, judicial review, and a fair trial, is our strength, not a weakness. It is not an impediment to be sidestepped in the push for convictions or assassinations, but rather a process that guarantees that fundamental right to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
I am encouraged, however that there appears to be the beginning of a backlash against the administration’s authoritarian claims. Just recently I did an interview with conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham who expressed grave concern over using these sorts of tactics against Americans using the supposed war on terror as justification. Sadly, many conservative leaders were silent when Republican President George W. Bush laid the groundwork for this administration’s lawlessness with the PATRIOT Act, warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention without trial, and other violations. Similarly, as Professor Turley points out, “Democrats previously demanded the ‘torture memos’ of the Bush administration that revealed poor legal analysis by Judge Jay Bybee and Professor John Yoo to justify torture. Now, however, Democrats are largely silent in the face of a president claiming the right to unilaterally kill citizens.” The misuse of and disregard for our Constitution for partisan political gain is likely one reason the American public holds Congress in such low esteem. Now the stakes are much higher. Congress and the people should finally wake up!
In a politicised society crime and corruption can be conjured away by political will. Our highly politicised Western societies have become infested with excessive levels of legalised crime and corruption.
So much so that I think 'too crooked to fail' is the motto that summarises the present state of Western societies -- fraud and contempt for the truth abound and define success of the few at the expense of the duped and complicit majority:
In a pure capitalist system, an institution as moronic and corrupt as Bank of America would be swiftly punished by the market – the executives would get to loot their own firms once, then they'd be looking for jobs again. But with the limitless government support of Too Big to Fail, these failing financial giants get to stay undead forever, continually looting the taxpayer, their depositors, their shareholders and anyone else they can get their hands on. The threat posed by Bank of America isn't just financial – it's a full-blown assault on the American dream. Where's the incentive to play fair and do well, when what we see rewarded at the highest levels of society is failure, stupidity, incompetence and meanness? If this is what winning in our system looks like, who doesn't want to be a loser? Throughout history, it's precisely this kind of corrupt perversion that has given birth to countercultural revolutions. If failure can't fail, the rest of us can never succeed.
The firm changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an ax murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence.
What are three quick ways to become a leader? a) Execute on the firm’s “axes,” which is Goldman-speak for persuading your clients to invest in the stocks or other products that we are trying to get rid of because they are not seen as having a lot of potential profit. b) “Hunt Elephants.” In English: get your clients — some of whom are sophisticated, and some of whom aren’t — to trade whatever will bring the biggest profit to Goldman. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like selling my clients a product that is wrong for them. c) Find yourself sitting in a seat where your job is to trade any illiquid, opaque product with a three-letter acronym.
Of course, I know Ron Paul (´s credentials and philosophy) a lot better than Gary Johnson ('s). If I faced an either-or-decision, I would support Ron Paul over anyone else - but this does not mean that I am adverse to Johnson.
In fact, there is much to be said for Johnson, not least that he attracts support from people (a) I admire and (b) personally like - (a) and (b) holding true with respect to Laura, (a) applying to the Coyote, who has this to say in his blog, today:
I decided today to volunteer for Gary Johnson’s independent libertarian run for President. I have always been a Johnson supporter, and was disappointed that he did not get more attention in the debates and nomination process.
Yes, I know folks will be saying that if Gary Johnson does well, it will just be guaranteeing an Obama victory. You know what? Given the choices, I don’t care. My other choices seem to be the guy who pilot-tested Obamacare and Rick Santorum, perhaps the only person the Republicans could have found with a deeper authoritarian streak than Obama. You know those 2×2 matrices where one leg is “government intervention in social issues” and the other is “government intervention in economic issues?” Where libertarians are low-low and Republicans and Democrats are each in one of the low-high boxes? Did you ever wonder who was in the high-high box? Well, Obama has moved pretty strongly into that space. But Santorum staked it out years ago. He is right out of the John McCain, I-am-nominally-for-small-governemnt-but-support-authoritarian-solutions-for-a-range-of-random-issues school.
In fact, I might argue that freedom and small government would be better served by an Obama second term that the yahoos likely to gain the Republic nomination. First, there is nothing worse than having statism and crony capitalism sold by someone who is nominally pro-market (see either of the Bushes as an example). Second, Republicans are much feistier about limiting spending and regulation in Congress when in opposition. They tend to roll over for expansions of state power when they have a fellow Republican in the White House — just compare spending of the Republican Congress under Clinton vs. Bush. Medicare Part D, anyone?
Four more years of Obama in the Oval Office would be better, in my view, than four years of Gingrich there: each man is mad for power; each man’s Promethean opinion of himself is quite the opposite of what a realistic self-opinion would be; each man is a font of economic idiocy; and each man’s principles are such that each would – recalling Mencken’s description of FDR – fatten up a crew of missionaries on the White House lawn for slaughter if he thought that endorsing cannibalism would get him more votes. Yet the countless nutty and destructive policies that Pres. Gingrich would likely implement would inevitably be described by our crack mainstream press as “laissez faire” – thus creating more public misunderstanding. (Of course, four more years of Obama in the White House might also be better than four years of Romney there….)
I tend to think that the stereotypical augury about the lesser evil has hardly more substance to it than the fact that it does help to keep the system going. What is left out of the picture is that there is more than one way for politicians to produce intolerable levels of damage. Both Obama and Gingrich are sure to maintain those levels.
Take a rest from the slime and the slimeballs, Rep. and Dem. Enjoy a nice piece of kinetically supported music:
Actually, as a child I did see, smell, and touch this kind of sea foam on our visits to South African sea resorts. It looked just like this:
There is a global war on rational energy use going on, see only these two posts on German anti-energy madness at NoTricksZone - here and here. However, the anti-energy, anti-economy war is simply the result of the wealthiest states of the world using their wealth to indoctrinate generation after generation to ensure they do not understand, hate, and destroy the sources of their wealth.
There is a high cost of maintaining the statist creed amongst the broad populace.
Warren Meyer, the Coyote, writes at Forbes on Keystone XL:
Ostensibly, Obama made the decision to block the pipeline because of concern over contamination of the Ogallala Reservoir, a vast underground water source that makes much of Midwestern agriculture possible. And I am sure there are folks whose concerns are narrowly about the Ogallala or other enivornmental and NIMBY concerns along the proposed route. But the US has tens of thousands of miles of petroleum pipelines, many cris-crossing this same general area. There is nothing unprecedented or unmanageable about this particular line. Had these routing issues been the actual problem, the Obama Administration could easily have approved the line with conditions or route modifications.
But local environmental concerns were merely the public pretext for a decision that is much more troubling. Opposition to the pipeline began to rally among radical environmental groups long before any of them had the first clue about the pipeline route. The real goal of these groups was not to protect water along the pipeline route, but to make it impossible to develop new sources of oil in Canada. Unable to stop Canadian oil drilling and tar sand extraction programs, environmental groups are now trying to block any pipeline that is proposed out of the oil producing regions.
Some would argue that these opponents aren’t anti-energy, they just want to shift energy use from fossil fuels to “green” energy like wind and solar. This is either disingenuous or unbelievably naive. The Keystone XL pipeline would have single-handedly carried more energy to the United States than the sum of all the green energy projects funded by the Obama Administration. And it would have done so entirely with private funds rather than the Administrations increasingly ill-fated and ham-handed attempts at venture capitalism with taxpayer funds. The fact of the matter is that, for the foreseeable future, opposing fossil fuels is equivalent to opposing energy use.
The Keystone decision only makes sense in the context of a general push to limit energy supply and roll back our industrial economy and all its amazing gifts. Part and parcel of this same effort has been the growing opposition to natural gas fracking. Fracking is an underground procedure that has been used safely and succesfully for decades to extend the life of older oil wells. Fracking is one reason that serial predictions of older fields “running out of oil” have been repeatedly incorrect.
Recently, though, fracking has presented the promise of substantially inreasing our domestic energy supply by opening up new shale formations previously thought to be impossible to produce. With this new promise, anti-growth, anti-energy environmentalists have suddenly taken notice, and are gearing up to try to kill this exciting (and ironically quite clean) new energy source.
All week long, I've been quietly noticing a change in tone across the media waves and blogosphere. Suddenly, the bloggers aren't all calling Ron Paul nuts. The media is telling us that he is important in the race. Sarah Palin even mentioned that the party needs to embrace his support and listen to what he is saying, and she didn't get ostracized for it.
Also, the debates have been a little odd. Romney is the only candidate that Ron hasn't gone after. Ron was also the first to defend Romney against the Gingrich/Perry attacks on capitalism.
So, during a blog-n-brunch this morning, DH and I happened to read Smitty's piece, and an idea formed - one that made my eggs flip one more time. What if Rand Paul is on Romney's short list of vice presidential picks?
As always, here's the thing: Who can bring more voters?
Rand Paul is a staunch pro-life Christian conservative, with one amazingly beautful wife and several adorable kids. He can bring in Social Conservatives who might otherwise shy away from Romney's Mormon faith.
Of course, he's also the heir apparent to almost the entire libertarian wing of the GOP, which happens to be the only wing that's actually growing at the moment. (It also raises a whole lot of money.) And while part of that growth is in the youth who don't tend to vote as often as we would like, another sector they're capturing is the independents, and those are the votes that the GOP desperately (and I do mean desperately) needs to capture if they stand any chance at all in ousting Obama.
But here's the kicker: Rand Paul is also a legitimate TEA Party conservative. And not the pathetic GOP inflitrated, Gingrich supporting Judson "I want to make a million" Phillips type of TEA Partier, either. Nope, Rand brings the people who actually are sick to death of the spending and actually do want less government, not just more control of big government.
So I ask again - who can bring more voters? Who else can bring the unification ticket to fruition?
I hear the names Nikki Haley and Marco Rubio bounced around, and while it's true they could bring some female / Hispanic voters in, as well as the TEA Party, are there enough of them to swing the election?
Of course, there's a down side. It's entirely possible that such a move, if it were to happen, could actually be the GOP's way of getting pesky Rand Paul out of the Senate, opening the door for a more "agreeable" Senator to fill the chair.
But we know that Ron Paul is a historian, and as such we can assume he knows that the Vice President is also the President of the Senate. If memory serves me, up until Spiro Agnew left the Vice President had an office in the Senate and spent a good deal of his time actually driving the legislation that the executive branch was pushing for. Sarah Palin even mentioned that she wanted to return to that model if she was elected to that office. Is it possible that Romney would let Paul assume that role, which would be especially fulfilling if the GOP regains the Senate majority?
Practically speaking though, while I find it more than just a little amusing that they might be forced into it, would the same GOP that fought hard to keep Rand Paul out of the senate would, in less than two years, suddenly hand him the second highest position of power in the land? It seems like an awfully risky move for a party that's not known for adapting well to change.
There's certainly more than a few Ron Paul suporters who would never vote for Romney, period. But to be perfectly honest, I'm suddenly not sure that I'm among them. After all, the Bush/Rockefeller wing of the party was swept in on Reagan's coattails. Would it really be so wrong for us to return the favor?
This is a question a lot of the fans of the Republican Congressman from Texas have been asking themselves for the last few weeks. The overall strategy of the Ron Paul for President campaign has been difficult to discern in many ways.
For instance, why does it seem like Ron Paul is attacking every other candidate in the race from Perry to Gingrich to Santorum to Huntsman but using kid gloves on the strongest candidate - Romney? Why does Paul not seem to be bothered at the prospects of a third place finish in Iowa or a likely second in New Hampshire?
I believe the Ron Paul campaign is moving in much the way that the campaign team originally planned when developing its strategy probably some time in early Spring. To understand the campaign strategy I believe it is important to understand how unconventional Dr. Paul's plan is compared to the traditional Republican presidential campaign. It is also important to recall the nature of the 2008 campaigns for the Democratic and to a lesser extent Republican parties.
Reason to Run for President Ron Paul is not your typical Republican candidate running for president. In fact, I'm not sure any candidate of any prominence recently has run not be president as much as a way to promote a message. Presidential campaigns are a way to bringing new ideas to the party's grassroots. This is probably a clumsy way of accomplishing this goal, but for someone as far out of the mainstream of his party and leadership as Paul is, it is really the only way to express his views on foreign and monetary policies.
This singular motive completely changes your strategy for waging a presidential campaign and, I think, explains the unusual nature of the Paul campaign. It fundamentally alters how you approach debates, advertisements, and campaigning within states. It is also completely different from the traditional Republican campaigns where one looks to score some early decisive wins, show an ability to raise money, and then finish off your rivals on Super Tuesday.
It's about Ideas, not the Office If your goal is to change the way the party and the country look at issues then your focus is on more than the short term goals of a presidential campaign. Clearly, it would be best for your promotion to win the nomination but a realistic view of the electorate - especially the Republican electorate - would show that Paul's ideas are out of the mainstream. They are growing in prominence (just look at his showing at the Iowa Caucuses from 2008 to 2012 with over 100% growth) but they are at most a large minority within the party probably no more than 25%.
Assets in Place Despite what many inside the media perceived, Ron Paul had massive assets coming into the campaign. To outsiders, Paul was seen to have a few rabid fans and a large donor base who were small contributors. What they missed was the Campaign for Liberty.
Launched in 2008, the Campaign for Liberty was a way to keep Ron Paul supporters from 2008 engaged with the Congressman's activities and help promote his views within Congress. This was best exemplified with the push and eventual passage of the Federal Reserve Audit in both the House and Senate. But more importantly, the Campaign for Liberty provided the superstructure for converts to Paul's crusade to network with each other and plan... for 2012.
Although not affiliated with any official Ron Paul campaign, the Campaign for Liberty was the resting home for all of Paul's campaign apparatus which he would need in a 2012 bid for president. Not surprisingly, a strong emphasis was placed on building up the Iowa and New Hampshire Campaign for Liberty teams and successfully getting friendly people put in place within the local and state GOPs. For instance, unofficially, the Paul camp had achieved securing over half of the county GOP chairs or leaders and many on the state's central committee in Iowa.
Most important to realize is that the Campaign for Liberty is a truly national organization with its reach in every state. This means that Paul has de facto campaign bases in each and every state making him competitive on a national scale - not just early primary and caucus states.
An Unorthodox Approach Because of his unique assets and his even more unusual goals, Rep. Ron Paul, I believe, is engaged in a very unorthodox presidential campaign. He recognizes that although his message is very popular and growing within a section of the electorate - it is by no means a majority position. His plan then is to wage a long drawn out process that relies more on looking towards delegate acquisition than on outright victory - perhaps even winning a single state.
Clearly, winning all the delegates in a state is a goal and will very likely be accomplished in many of the caucus states where Paul's organization and zealous supporters will have the most impact. Winner-take-all primary states are the least desirable for a campaign like Paul's where they feel their message will be viewed in a hostile manner by a majority of the GOP base who receive much of their information from the establishment and its mouthpieces like Levin, Savage, Hannity, and Limbaugh.
The established portions of the party will resist Paul's forces and will probably succeed in many of the caucus states, especially as it becomes more obvious what Rep. Paul is up to. Overall, the primary focus is gaining delegates to gain prominence going into the convention.
The Not-Romney Candidate What is becoming increasingly clear, is that the Paul campaign is looking to become what has been termed the "Not-Romney" candidate. Tea Partiers, and the Republican base is definitely disappointed with Romney as their nominee. National polls have shown him to struggle breaking above 30%. Romney represents the liberal East Coast establishment candidate similar to John McCain (who although from Arizona was the epitome of a big government squishy Republican).
The Paul campaign recognized early on that the only candidate that would compete long term was Romney. Therefore, they looked to eliminate the 'chaff' in order to become the de facto 'Not-Romney' candidate. The sooner they can take down the other candidates, the better as it allows them to accumulate a larger share of the delegates.
The Other Not-Romney Candidates A quick look at the other candidates trying to make the race a two man race shows how Paul's strategy has been working perfectly. Cain is out. Bachmann is out. Huntsman looks increasingly like a one state wonder who will drop out soon. Perry is limping into NH polling at 1% and around 5% in SC. His future is dim. Gingrich can potentially last a few more weeks but with little funding his earned media will dwindle and he will possibly last a few more states through Florida but he is not on the ballot in his home state and has no funding to compete in a national super Tuesday contest.
That brings us to Santorum who has no funding or organization and will attempt to use his social conservative credentials to sell himself in the South. He will be target number one from the Paul campaign as he is the one who could potentially carve into their delegate count on Super Tuesday if he is still viable - especially if his funding picks up and he is able to run more television spots in Florida and beyond.
I believe the Paul campaign is looking to make the race a two man race as soon as possible. This is probably their schedule:
Since the other candidates by this point will have lost nearly every contest to Romney their funding and ambition will have dried up and they will be unable to push on to Super Tuesday. Only Paul will remain as the alternative. Obviously, they will endorse Romney to get a plum cabinet spot and Paul will be all that's left.
From there, Paul and his forces will be an enormous thorn in the side of Romney unless he cuts Paul a deal. Whether that is a prime speaking spot at the convention, a VP slot for Rand, a cabinet position, or some other combination. Romney is a man who deals and will want to save his resources and shift his campaign's focus against Obama as soon as possible. This strategy, although not a 'winning one' is one that will have a lasting legacy and impact within the Republican party.
...increasingly even fervent adulators of the walking teleprompter, the eager facilitator of totalitarian rule, are beginning to get it. In July 2008 I wrote:
... the Colonists severed their ties with Britain, and the United States of America were founded to make sure that people like Obama and their confused and dangerous thinking - basically copying European social democracy / socialism - could never hold sway over the nation.