An Intelligent Conversation on Paul’s Foreign Policy

Within the comments on a Vox Popoli post about Santorum comes a reasoned and reasonable discussion of Ron Paul’s foreign policy. At last!

Following are excerpts which I think flow together well enough. I would normally put this in “blockquote” style, but it is long so I am not quoting in favor of readability.

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SWW
I think you're essentially correct, that the foreign policy is an obstacle for many. It doesn't help that the media mostly distorts his position and attempts to box him in with gotcha questions. All in all, I think he handles it quite well.

But let me ask you, or anyone, how would you articulate the non-interventionist position any better, so that it wasn't automatically disregarded as crazy.

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Mitt’s Inspiration

One of the better parts of Romney’s shtick is his vision for a resurgent America. His campaign book is titled No Apology: The Case for American Greatness. Wikipedia explains:

The title makes reference to Romney's contention that President Barack Obama has repeatedly apologized for past American actions during trips abroad, and the subtitle to Romney's belief in American exceptionalism. The book avoids anecdotes about Romney's personal or political life and focuses much of its attention on a substantive presentation of his views on economic and geopolitical matters, including his inveighing against the resurgence of populism. Government is seen as having some valuable roles, such as fostering innovation and expanding health insurance coverage to everyone. The book largely avoids discussion of social issues.

Expansive, caretaker government? Check.
Warning against trusting the people over the elites? Check.

His two major negatives are embraced. That the current President is a scoundrel is a given. I give Romney no credit for beating that drum.

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The Devil’s Law

Although I have never seen A Man for All Seasons, I find this exchange enduringly meaningful:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

Does the end justify the means? Can we afford a presumption of innocence under threat of terror? If there is no law, what separates man from evil?

The dialog was called to mind from a question deep in the comments on a Vox Popoli post. Commenter “guest” asked, and “Beau” replied:

I am resolved to take Trenton

Professor Gingrich puts the Second Amendment in narrative context:

It’s fifteen minutes you will not mind spending. He’s an excellent lecturer.

The Battle of Trenton, which anchors this talk, deserved its place in American mythology. Determined men with a flash of daring can overcome impossible odds.

Gingrich refers to Paine’s pamphlet, The American Crisis. Thomas Paine is one of the people I want to be when I grow up. His rhetoric was as essential as Jefferson’s brilliance, Franklin’s wisdom or Washington’s integrity. Many more are familiar with these words than they are with their place in history:

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Thumping the Political Bible

Ron Paul’s supporters are regular accused of hoping for their own messiah. They’re tarred with the same brush used on the Hope-and-Change unicorn squad. Doesn’t make sense to me, because nobody wants a messiah who promises to leave everybody alone as much as possible. That’s almost an anti-messiah.

After last night’s Iowa caucus, Tam sees it like this:

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He Would Rather Have the Poor Poorer

Watch Lady Thatcher cut down the false problem of income inequality:

As the questioner framed it, “relatively less well-off” is not “absolutely less well-off”.

Economic activity is not a zero-sum enterprise. Every willing transaction makes all parties better off. Even if only 1% of the gain went to the poorer trader, the trade still makes him 1% better off.

There are two methods to ensure all parties benefit equally. Prohibit unequal outcomes, or forcibly equalize gains after the transaction. Either method reduces the number of possible transactions. Fewer trades mean less gain to be be divided. And as Thatcher says, “That way you will never create the wealth for better social services.” If you truly care about the poor, care about the poor, do not envy the rich.

The Last American Tyrant

Neo-neocon and I had a lengthy back-and-forth in the comments to her post about what Romney might do as President.

She made an excellent case for his credentials as a manager. I hold he is not what most people think of as a “manager”. He’s a consultant, somebody that managers hire. And worse to me, he abandoned initmate hands-on consulting to become a finance guy, somebody who works with bankers to manage debt and leverage.

From my comment that puts a frame around my perspective on President Romney:

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Plutocracy Rising

Conspiracy theorists are held in disregard for their crazy conclusions about hierarchies of control. The New World Order, a canonical example of conspiracy theories, is alleged to be:

a secretive power elite with a globalist agenda is conspiring to eventually rule the world through an authoritarian world government—which replaces sovereign nation-states—and an all-encompassing propaganda that ideologizes its establishment as the culmination of history's progress.

To me, that’s more than far-fetched. It presumes a god-like ability to coordinate and control conflicting factions. People don’t fall into line so easily, and local conditions are always pushing them out of line. Even God can’t seem to get everyone to agree on who He is or what He demands.

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Temple of Yesterday

Buffalo, NY abandoned train station -- interior

A temple (from the Latin word templum) is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites.

It is easy to imagine prayers offered and sacrifices made in a grand space like this. One might say commerce is the American religion. Our glory was built on rails. Every respectable town had a train station. Cities built temples of transportation.

Trade and transport are both future-oriented. People go somewhere to get something they think will make tomorrow better than yesterday.

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Romney ’08

As the righties are trying to get comfortable with Romney, I’ve read a few times that in 2008 the knock on Mitt was that he was too conservative. Off the top of my head, I don’t remember much about the ’08 GOP primary race. I liked Giuliani for whatever reasons, and when he dropped out, I must have stopped paying attention.

I have a hard time imaging Romney as “too much” of anything. McCain was the maverick, so I guess Romney could have been more conservative than that. Looking over the Wikipedia entry on Mitt’s 2008 campaign, I was reminded of this: Romney strapped his dog to the roof of his car on a family vacation.

Yup. Now I remember. That was big news for days.

Romney strapped a dog carrier — with the family dog Seamus, an Irish Setter, in it — to the roof of the family station wagon for a twelve hour drive from Boston to Ontario, which the family apparently completed, despite Seamus's rather visceral protest.

Massachusetts's animal cruelty laws specifically prohibit anyone from carrying an animal "in or upon a vehicle, or otherwise, in an unnecessarily cruel or inhuman manner or in a way and manner which might endanger the animal carried thereon."

I can hardly wait for Big Media to rediscover this damning character flaw.

As to the rest of the Wikipedia entry and evidence of Mitt’s alleged conservatism, I lost interest before finding any.

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Fragments on Foreign Policy

As I argue around the intertracks, I find it necessary to confirm, extend and adjust what I think I know. As Big Media and the Righty Establishment is apoplectic over what they think Ron Paul’s foreign policy is, I wondered what the current foreign policy of the United States claims to be. To Wikipedia!

The officially stated goals of the foreign policy of the United States, as mentioned in the Foreign Policy Agenda of the U.S. Department of State, are "to create a more secure, democratic, and prosperous world for the benefit of the American people and the international community." In addition, the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs states as some of its jurisdictional goals: "export controls, including nonproliferation of nuclear technology and nuclear hardware; measures to foster commercial intercourse with foreign nations and to safeguard American business abroad; international commodity agreements; international education; and protection of American citizens abroad and expatriation." U.S. foreign policy and foreign aid have been the subject of much debate, praise and criticism both domestically and abroad.

The essential test for all of that is: Is it Constitutional?

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A Gospel of Democracy

The People’s Economist, Walter E. Williams, writes about democracy and the Arab world:

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I’m O.K., You’re a Paulbot

During the two most-recent Republican debates, Ron Paul got to me. He said, “We all swear the same Oath.” An oath to uphold and defend the Constitution.

If we are a nation of laws, integrity to that oath is the supreme qualification to hold the office of President. Or any government office, really.

Investigating Paul’s policy ideas, I have found that the Big Media and blogosphere characterizations are inadequate when they’re not entirely disingenuous. He, above all the other candidates seems to attract ad hominems instead of criticisms.

It is difficult to find a logical deconstruction of a Paul idea, but you can barely type a “P” in the search box before a hundred hits with words like “loony” “crazy” “wackjob” come up.

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Next Stop: East Jesus Flats

Pine tree on a lonely handcar on a rail embankment

Merry Christmas.

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Christmas Present

If we had a modern George Bailey, he would be ridiculed mercilessly. The Christmas present has no appreciation for virtue. Popular culture militates against goodness.

Seasonal feel-good stories notwithstanding, cynicism triumphs. We expect corruption.

A local TV news story reports that people are foregoing Christmas Day services. Churches are responding to reduced demand, canceling the sacraments. For all the wonder and joy to be found in being with family at Christmas time, when we put that above being with G-d, we are lost.

I have transcended my personal era of humbuggery only to find that in the interim, my culture has abandoned everything I found distasteful. I have returned to an empty house.

I do not rail against commercialization and consumerism. We are rich; let us enjoy. But we have moved past even the pagan observations that hold some days special. If no days are holy, every day is profane.

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The Goal is not Democracy

Vox Day says what I haven’t had time to say:

Democracy is not, and has never been, an intrinsic good in and of itself. It is not freedom. It is not liberty. And very often, it is a very good way of ensuring that human freedom and liberty are repressed.

Democracy is only a means. The goal is liberty.

Another Kind of Harassment

Imagine the hysteria if it turns out than Herman Cain was not guilty of sexual impropriety, but instead of unwelcome Evangelism? Particularly with the new “third woman”.

Say she was a bit unstable at the outset. She found a listening ear in Mr. Cain, a Baptist Minister. Turns out the third woman was pregnant, and on the outs with her inseminator. Cain offers her a place to stay for a night, away from a tense and deteriorating relationship. He talks of G-d and the purity of her unborn child.

Amidst her own dysfunctions and a world—perhaps family—inclined toward simply erasing the problem via abortion, she began to see Cain’s advice as an intrusion. And as a payday, an escape from a life gone off the rails.

Some would call this fairytale “blaming the victim”. And it may turn out that Cain is a philanderer. But that doesn’t square so well with his biography.

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Now He Owns the Bus

I am enjoying Herman Cain’s campaign. I think his “smoking man” ad is brilliant.

As discussed over at Chicago Boyz, it weaves together several messages to several audiences. If you’re in one the targeted groups, you’ll get it.

What un-targeted groups think about an ad really doesn’t matter. Except in this case, popular media’s indignance over seeing a real live tobacco smoker actually helped the message find more of its intended audience.

Adding to that, I have heard a couple versions of Cain telling this story (my retelling, not a direct quote):

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Exiled from the Unicorn Farm

From the OccupyMN people:

In response to the news coverage over a box of bricks found on the plaza, orchestrated by a press release from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office: We would like to reiterate that we are, and have always been, a completely non-violent group. The box was brought onto The People’s Plaza by an outsider and his individual action does not represent the  views or goals of our movement.

We will continue to make our voices heard as the 99% fighting for a better world and look forward to having all of you join us here in Minneapolis.

How many outsiders does it take to drop the 99 to a 98? Doesn’t the one who brought the bricks count as a person? It’s the People’s Plaza, not the Some of the People’s Plaza, right?

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Occupy Somebody Else

I am not a percentage. I am a free man.

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