Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Key to Ron Paul's Success

While there is a tendency for Ron Paul supportes to argue that his amazing statistics in terms of money-raised, and his recent surge in the polls (which is impressive given his initial status as a third-tier candidate) is just that he has a good message, it is, I think, more complicated than that.

The fact of the matter is, despite the de-centralized nature of the Ron Paul for President campaign (i.e. including the informal campaign, not just just the official one), it did not come out of nowhere.

The idea that Ron Paul simply spoke truth and suddenly people listened, while attractive, and not entiurely false, is not the whole picture.

Yes, Paul has good, attractive, ideas (I would argue that 90% or better of the time he has the right ideas), and that is what has attracted people to him and is the ultimate source of the enthusiasm for him. However, the idea that without any infrastructure, formal or informal, that he could have had the single biggest internet fundraising day of any candidate (or the bigges one-day fundraiser of any sort for a Republican if you count only actual donations and not pledges) is simply incorrect and, if you think about it, ludicrous.

What it comes down to is that the infrastructure for the Paul campaign has been building since at least 1999, when LewRockwell.com went online. Or perhaps even earlier in the mid-1990s when Antiwar.com was created. Or maybe in 1982 when the Ludwig von Mises Institute was founded.

The point is that for a long time, people have been working to build up a movement for Austrian economics and against foreign interventionism. This movement has slowly built up the infrastructure needed to support a movement toward freer markets, sound money, and non-interventionism abroad. We (by late 2000.early 2001 I had become one of them) already had enough infrastructure in place by 9/11/01 to be able to provide a counterbalance to the pro-statist forces that dominated the debate over the next year, and we were poised to strike at the arguments for the Iraq War and to critique the war in real time when it happened. (Not that I am happy for the Iraq War as a chance to pimp my political positions; but given that the war was going to occur, it was good that we were ready when the time came to disseminate our critiques of the policy).

Pat Buchanan's presidential runs, to some extent, and the founding of The American Conservative, came from a similar persuasion, at least on foreign policy, and wound up overlapping with much of the movement by the time TAC got off the ground. Definitely TAC is one of the more prominent publishers of paleolibertarians, and can be thought of as containing part of the extended infrastructure of the Austro-libertarian movement.

The point is, by the time that Ron Paul decided to run for the 2008 presidential election, there was already a large infrastructure (yes, I like to use that term) of supporters for the types of policies he espouses. These people were well-connected by the internet, and many of them were looking for someone to lead the movement or to run for president to try and make their ideas policy (and ultimately of course, we were/are looking for people to run for other political offices as well). To some extent, this grass-roots campaign selected PPaul as their standard-bearer and are the ones who encouraged him to run.

So what Paul has done to a large extent is tapped into the grass-roots infrastructure that already exists to support his ideas. Yes, he did this largely simply by expressing his ideas, which the grassroots agreed with. But, ultimately, were Austro-libertarians not already connected and semi-organized through the efforts of Llewellyn Rockwell, were anti-interventionist conservatives not united by The American Conservative, were both anti-interentionist libertarians not gathered by Antiwar.com, were not a thousand other similar sites up, all interconnected into a community, he could have railed all day against the Fed, the income tax, and the war and virtually no one would have noticed.

What does this prove, in the end? Well, if Paul's campaign wins the nomination, or even just does incredibly well in the process, it shows that organizing a grassroots movement around ideas, even "fringe" ideas with little following, can pay off - big time. So don't be discouraged if you fight for what you believe is right and it seems lonely. It seemed lonely for the Austro-libertarians at one time. But not anymore.

That is all.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Some Paul Proposals Too Good to be True?

Michael Dobbs questions the feasibility of Paul's income tax proposals.

This is a real concern. Not that I think that Paul is being dishonest, but he may have been using erroneous statistics initially and his actual budget plans may not have been formulated completely yet. However, if he does well enough in the coming weeks to become a real contender in Iowa and New Hampshire, I am confident that this type of thing will come up enough that he will become more specific.

In any case, I am still supporting Paul and have confidence that as he has more exposure his positions will, of necessity, get more polished and specific.

And none of this negates the great work he has done getting his issues (non-interventionism, sound money) a hearing that they would otherwise not get.

Added: And as some of the commenters in the thread pointed out, Paul would work toward the gradual reduction (moving toward elimination) of government health care spending and presumably a reduction of our military outside of the narrow issue of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Granted, I don't think that we could get rid of the income tax during one or even two Paul terms, unless of course we raised other taxes greatly, and I do not think that we could eliminate all income-based taxes (e.g. Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes) without some increase in our customs, tariffs, and excises, but I think that Paul would push us in the right direction.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Andrew Sullivan.

That is all.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Devil is in the Details, and in the Dollar

Ron Paul on dollars and war.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to bbartlog on the comments at Henley's blog.

That is all.

How Cute

Dick Morris worries that the Rudy Giuliani might not get the GOP nomination.

As a Rudy-disliker, I am happy with this, of course.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to Daniel Larison.

That is all.

The Editors at National Review Don't Get It

Being worried about Federal Reserve policy and its recent rate cuts, they neglect to understand that this is the problem with the Federal Reserve itself.

The rest of the world saw this capitulation to the market’s nervous Nellies as inflationary, and became less willing to hold dollars. If the Fed had acted correctly, responding to the state of the economy rather than to a state of mind, the dollar would be stronger today, and closer to its intrinsic value.

What does "the intrinsic value" of the dollar mean? The dollar is worth what you can get for it. If the dollar loses value, it loses "intrinsic value." There is no platonic dollar to which our dollar aspires. People often accuse goldbugs of not understanding money and of thinking that gold has some magic value that makes it "real" money (we don't, but that's an issue for another day). Obviously, some fiat-bugs have this problem.

Small deviations from free-market principle can have outsized consequences.

Government-imposed fiat money is a deviation from the free-market. Honestly, I fail to see how one can characterize any of our government's policies as "small deviations" from the free market. Unless one is an anarchist or severe minarchist, one will invariably be offering rather large deviations from the free market. It is ridiculous to portray the free market as delicate and at the same time advocate a large, activist government at any level.

In particular, once you accept a large, ultimately government-controlled bank as the institution which controls the supply of currency, how you can discriminate betwen their policies as free market and non-free market is beyond me. Arguing that its policy should respond "to the state of the economy rather than to a state of mind" is arguing about how it should interfere with the economy, not about whether it should.

That is all.

Surging On

Larison on the surge.

I think he makes some excellent points.

That is all.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Good Point at TPMCafe

One big reason for the housing crisis (specficially in this case the crisis for African-Americans), is that we were encouraging people to buy homes who shouldn't have done so - at least at the time (alternately, we encouraged those who had reason to buy a home to buy a bigger home than they could reasonably afford.

There's a great comment on the post pointing out that a house is a depreciating asset (i.e. not an investment in the traditional sense). This is why it is stupid to buy houses with the intent of making money on them. Yes, it is a good idea to make certain that when you buy a house, should the need arise you can sell it and so not "eat" the entire price of the house; but buying a house primarily with the intent to sell it when the price rises is, in most cases, insane. And in any sane economy, very few people are in a position where doing so is a reasonable plan.

That is all.

Monday, November 12, 2007

More on the Gold Standard

I'll have to try to discuss these articles later, you know, after I discuss all of the other things I planned to discuss but never got around to.

Jim Henley, Megan McArdle, Tyler Cowen.

Suffice it to say, I agree with Ron Paul and disagree with those cited above.

That is all.

Inflation

Mike Whitney and Ron Paul discuss the problems with our current monetary policy.

That is all.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Mitt's, Huck's, and Arthur Branch's friends are trying to repeat the November 5 success of Ron.

Thanx and a tip o' the hat to LewRockwell blog here and here.

That is all.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Kucinich vs. Ron Paul

I have read a lot of people asking why Ron Paul is getting so much support but not Dennis Kucinich. After all, Kucinich's idea are not that much more "wacky" than PAul's, and he is also antiwar? Why the tremendous appeal of Paul to conservatives (and perhaps some liberal crossovers) but no such appeal for Kucinich?

I think there are several reasons, but the primary one is that Dennis Kucinich is not really to the Democrats what Paul is to the GOP. Kucinich is more like their Tancredo, a more purified. distilled version of what hte other Democrats believe, or claim to.

All of the Democrats in the race are antiwar or pretend to be (you can determine who you think is which for yourselves). At best, Kucinich can claim to be the more genuine liberal, sort of a reverse of Alan Keyes in 2000. Dissatisfied Democrats can still get a half-loaf with the other candidates with a better chance of winning.

But on the single most important issue of the last few years, the Iraq War, Ron Paul is the only candidate to speak up for the right wing antiwarrior. People who cannot stomach the Democrats but who want a humble foreign policy have only one choice. Listening to Paul at a Republican debate is far more electrifying than listening to Kucinich, because he stands against the entire pack of competitors.

Kucinich and Paul? Kucinich is, as far as I can tell, a good and sincere person, albeit one whose ideas are far more left-wing than mine. But he is not the Democratic version of Paul.

That is all.

When Farah's Right, He's Right

On the Robertson sell-out.

I totally agree with him about hte family channel. Some of the movies and shows they have shown on there since Robertson sold it do not belong on any network calling itself "family."

Granted, I am not denying that I watch some racy shows (Rescue Me, for example). But FX does not claim to be "family-friendly." I think that Robertson has sold everything out for power and influence.

That is all.

More on Constitutional Plan B

Ballot access for the Constitution Party as of 10/31/07, according to Ballot Access News:

us_nl1007a

Changes:

Petitioning for Missouri and Arkansas is done.

Iowa, South Dakota, and West Virginia are all further along in their petition drive, although this does not change the map color at all.

That is all.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Once More About Andrew Sullivan

A few months ago I wrote:

It is obvious from the context that he considers any Christian who actually believes the Bible to be a "Christianist," one who perverts Christianity into his own political philosophy, whereas authentic Christianity, in Sullivan's mind, is apparently that which okays whatever his "personal experiences" tell him is okay.

Well, in a recent post, Sully approvingly quotes a reader:

Your reader is right to say that Jesus came to bring division to the land. The problem with this fellow is that he is on the wrong side of the divide. Jesus did not condemn homosexuals. He stands with them, not against them... I empathize with your reader's dilemma in attempting to be a good Christian while asserting the immorality of homosexuality, but in the end, this is not possible. He is trying to be good. Unfortunately, he is simply wrong, as are those portions of the Bible which make such charges.

In other words, to be a good Christian, you must reject certain portions of the Bible. How you determine what these portions are is not mentioned, but I have a feeling that any passage that doesn't celebrate every possible sexual expression is fair game.

There is also more of the inane equating of love with approval:

[Jesus] stands in radical contrast to these attitudes. He did indeed bring about division, by rejecting intolerance and embracing the approach of unconditional love.

Jesus never preached unconditional approval of all personal behavior, which is what this person is equating with love. Nor was he particularly tolerant. In fact, in areas where he reinterpreted Old Testament Law (reinterpreted from the standard interpretations present at that place in time) he often interpreted it more strictly than was common in Israel at that time. (Don't look with lust, don't yell at your neighbor).

If this is apparently what passes for Christian teaching amongst a lot of people in the U.S. today, we are in for some serious problems.

That is all.

Strange Case

This is a strange case. Apparently, a judge decided that raping a prostitute constituted simple theft.

The argument for this, of course, is that she had already agreed to have sex with him, he just made her do it without getting paid, so in essence he simply took her money away. Yes, a woman can change her mind, but she didn't change her mind about the sex except to the extent that she didn't want to do it without pay. So in essence, the only difference between what she would have done and what he forced her to do is the lack of pay.

I think the relevant distinctions here are (a) the man took out the gun to force her to have sex rather than after sex in order to force her to leave without getting paid. So in essence, he didn't rob her of money, he forced her to do work after she said she would not. Forcing service under the threat of bodily harm is more akin to slavery than theft. (b) He forced to have sex with four men when she had only agreed to have sex with two. Seeing as she had never consented to having sex with more than two men, it cannot be said that she would have if he had paid her; therefore, the net effect may have been more than just taking away her revenue.

That is all.

Dishonesty at WorldNetDaily

The gist of the facts presented in Aaron Klein's article on WorldNetDaily are that by going to foreign countries and bad-mouthing our president, celebrities are doing things that plese terrorists.

But Aaron Klein's use of the term "urging terrorists on" obviously gives the implication that these celebrities are actually telling terrorists to attack us, which is a lie.

There is also the not-so-subtle implication that criticizing Bush is tantamount to supporting the terrorists.

Despicable.

That is all.
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