Monday, June 18, 2007

A Ron Paul Update: They Haven't Marginalized Him Quite Yet


In May, I posted an article on my blog, in response to the reactions to U.S. Rep. Ron Paul's performance in one of the GOP debates, called, "It's Scary When Ron Paul Comes Across As The Sanest GOP Candidate." I'll repeat, as a qualifier, Ron is a walking anachronism when it comes to domestic policy. This is a guy who would abolish the Department of Education. Yes, he's serious.

But, there is something about this longtime Texas congressman that the MSM, and even Fox News, try as they have, are unable to dismiss. He represents a small minority of libertarian paleoconservatives who somehow had sense enough to be against the Iraq misadventure from Day One.

Here's some of the latest that's come across the MSM about him: This from Saturday's Washington Post:

On Technorati, which offers a real-time glimpse of the blogosphere, the most frequently searched term this week was "YouTube."

Then comes "Ron Paul."

Rep. Ron Paul, one of the most obscure GOP presidential hopefuls on the old-media landscape, has drawn more views of his YouTube videos than any of his GOP rivals. ...

The presence of the obscure Republican congressman from Texas on a list that includes terms such as "Sopranos," "Paris Hilton" and "iPhone" is a sign of the online buzz building around the long-shot Republican presidential hopeful -- even as mainstream political pundits have written him off.

Rep. Ron Paul is more popular on Facebook than Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). He's got more friends on MySpace than former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. His MeetUp groups, with 11,924 members in 279 cities, are the biggest in the Republican field. And his official YouTube videos, including clips of his three debate appearances, have been viewed nearly 1.1 million times -- more than those of any other candidate, Republican or Democrat, except Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

No one's more surprised at this robust Web presence than Paul himself, a self-described "old-school," "pen-and-paper guy" who's serving his 10th congressional term and was the Libertarian Party's nominee for president in 1988.

"To tell you the truth, I hadn't heard about this YouTube and all the other Internet sites until supporters started gathering in them," confessed Paul, 71, who said that he's raised about $100,000 after each of the three debates. Not bad considering that his campaign had less than $10,000 when his exploratory committee was formed in mid-February. "I tell you I've never raised money as efficiently as that, in all my years in Congress, and all I'm doing is speaking my mind."

That means saying again and again that the Republican Party, especially when it comes to government spending and foreign policy, is in "shambles." ...

Republican strategists point out that libertarians, who make up a small but vocal portion of the Republican base, intrinsically gravitate toward the Web's anything-goes, leave-me-alone nature. They also say that his Web presence proves that the Internet can be a great equalizer in the race, giving a much-needed boost to a fringe candidate with little money and only a shadow of the campaign staffs marshaled by Romney, McCain and former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

An obstetrician and gynecologist, Paul is known as "Dr. No" in the House of Representatives. No to big government. No to the Internal Revenue Service. No to the federal ban on same-sex marriage.

"I'm for the individual," Paul said. "I'm not for the government."

If he had his way, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Education, among other agencies, would not exist. In his view, the USA Patriot Act, which allows the government to search personal data, including private Internet use, is unconstitutional, and trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement are a threat to American independence.

But perhaps what most notably separates Paul from the crowded Republican field, headed by what former Virginia governor James S. Gilmore III calls "Rudy McRomney," is his stance on the Iraq war. He's been against it from the very beginning.

After the second Republican presidential debate last month, when Paul implied that American foreign policy has contributed to anti-Americanism in the Middle East -- "They attack us because we're over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years," Paul said -- he was attacked by Giuliani, and conservatives such as Saul Anuzis were livid. Anuzis, chairman of the Michigan GOP, threatened to circulate a petition to bar Paul from future Republican presidential debates. Though the petition never materialized, Anuzis's BlackBerry was flooded with e-mails and his office was inundated with calls for several days. "It was a distraction, no doubt," he said.

The culprits: Paul's growing number of supporters, some of whom posted Anuzis's e-mail address and office phone number on their blogs.

Ron's not a guy I would seriously favor for president. But he's bringing a refreshing honesty to the GOP race, and I hope he can stay in the fray for several more months.

Manifesto Joe is an underground writer living in Texas. Check out his blog at Manifesto Joe's Texas Blues.


Anonymous said...

"This is a man who would abolish the Department of Education."

This Department has only been around since the Carter administration. What does it do, except suck your tax dollars like an overweight vacuum cleaner?

Ron Paul is on the right track.

Bret Moore said...

I agree. As a product of the Public Education system, I think I'm qualified to say it sucks. (The loans for law school are OK, but I'd rather see taxes reduced dramatically and then I would have had the ability to save enough prior to going.)

I don't understand what is so outlandishly crazy about, you know, efficiency. I mean, we're not all still driving Hummers with Gas prices hovering around $3/gal, are we?

Manifesto Joe said...

When posting a routine follow-up on R.P., I didn't remotely expect anything like this, the number of comments. But this is turning out to be fun. Since we have so many free marketeers proctoring this site, here's one for y'all, originally posted as a reply to comments:

Wow, what happened here? A lot while I was asleep and at work.

Something I feel compelled to add to the exchange: One of my grandfathers was an illiterate who was put to work in the tobacco fields of North Carolina at age 7. This was 1897, a year in the heyday of economics as it is prescribed by Congressman Paul's beloved Ludwig von Mises Society. He wasn't an exception. In cities, there were children that age operating machines in mills and factories because their fingers were supple, and they were less likely to get their little arms caught in the gears.

That "godless socialism" of the 20th century made an awful lot of difference in my family, and I don't feel a trace of guilt. My parents made it to high school, but college was a privilege they could scarcely hope for. I have a master's degree, and it does not trouble me that some corporate cutthroat may have had to wait an extra year for his BMW so a hillbilly's grandson could get an M.A. in 6 years instead of 12. And now, in a higher tax bracket, I can help someone else like I was -- but only after the war machine takes much more of it.

I am giving Ron Paul his due for opposing this stupid war. But the laissez-faire economic view he embraces was discredited 75 years ago. It is only the self-interest of an economic elite that has kept this silly and ironically enslaving ideology alive all this time. You want to be bought and sold in the marketplace every day, like a commodity? By all means, let's go back to 1897.

Anonymous said...

I've posted responses in other blogs, but free markets were never really discredited. They were mistakenly blaimed for the Great Depression, and that was the source of the New Deal programs and increased economic intervention. The use of children in things like coal mining sounds like its more of a job from criminal law, though.

We now know (and Ben Bernanke admits) that the worst economic disaster in the history of the industrialized world, the Great Depression, was caused by the Federal Reserve shrinking the supply of money by 1/3 over a period of a few years.

Marc McDonald said...

>>>free markets were never really >>>discredited.

Uh, how about the California utilities deregulation fiasco? As I recall, that cost the taxpayers and consumers over $70 billion.

Oh, and then there was the deregulation of the S&Ls back in the 80s, all in the name of the "free market." That little boondoggle cost the taxpayers over $400 billion.

One other thing: the GOP and the billionaire class that controls our economic and political system pay lip service to wanting a "free market" system for America.

But these people wouldn't know a true free market system if it ran over them on the highway.

What they really want is a socialism-for-the-rich system that pays billions of our tax dollars in corporate welfare to the likes of the Fortune 500.

Anonymous said...

If you think Paul is somehow ignorant of a free market, I think you need to read what he's written a bit more closely. He's been speaking out against corporatism and corporate welfare for decades.

The savings and loan failures were, if I'm not mistaken, caused by criminal acts with linked financing. Thats illegal and fraudulent, so I'm not sure how that example is related to free markets?

California's crises was nowhere near true deregulation. Certain price setting measures were in effect on retail prices. When demand exceeded what people thought it would, wholesale prices went up, but retail prices remained fixed. So energy was sold for less than it cost to make and deliver, and naturally the supply was exhausted, e.g. brownouts. No surprise there, price controls never work. From what I understand, no one anticipated the high demand and Enron's criminal behavior (which was, by the way, discovered by the market).

Still, at least the criminals went to jail. Thats more than you can say for people who gauge the taxpayers in the name of many socialist programs...

Adrienne said...

To Marc McDonald, that's called corporatism or a corporatocracy or even regulatory capture and I think that they all are evil. When businesses use the government as a machine to control their competition, it is no longer free market capitalism. The self-maintaining system that proponents of laissez-faire are always raving about is destroyed under such conditions.

You're right though- we did have a free market system once and the corporations figured out how to buy out the decision makers in our society despite the efforts of intelligent people. 'Regulation' started as a means to control their competitors (the Fed) and caused the greatest, worldwide economic catastrophe in history. It's debatable whether this was an accident or intentional. But from there, things just got worse. Now interests are so entangled you can't tell who works for who.

I'm not qualified to offer suggestions towards how to keep business out of Washington- you can't just pass a law, because our law makers are already compromised. But I'd guess that it would involve something along the lines of forcing politicians to run like Ron Paul does- individual campaign contributions only.

I just want to point out that you're getting confused with the con men in Washington who offer you the world for your vote and your tax dollars... then pocket the money and run. It's a trick and a sham.

I feel the same way about people who promise free health care for everyone. An ideal so powerful, how can you not help but be emotionally driven to support such a compassionate and humanistic cause? But I'm wary about politicians who promise sugar and hand out poison. Even the best of intentions is not enough when the plan doesn't work.

Unfortunately, poor planning, poor management, and a few bad apples in power will always undermine and take advantage of our attempts to straighten out our government and our society. They're like leeches.

Most American people have some pretty concrete ideas on what they want from their government. I think the fact that Ron Paul is popular with both Rep. & Dem. flavors is an interesting development. I at first attributed this to his stance on Iraq, however I think there's something more powerful at work here. I think Americans identify with an honest and straight-forward person. I think we find him refreshing. I'm going to vote for Ron Paul in the Rep. Primaries because I believe in libertarian principles. But I think most people who are interested in him are really voting for decency and morals in Washington. It's the best way to spit in the face of the fakers in power.

He's a dissenter. Even his own party shakes their heads at him. Because they know he's one of those that are immune to the machine. And if it weren't for the decentralized nature of the Internet, they would have drowned him before he ever got past that first debate. :)

Just my thoughts.

Adrienne Pass

Marc McDonald said...

To G:

What the f*ck are you talking about?

The S&L and California deregulation fiascos were BOTH examples of the unbridled free market in action (and both examples of how the free market can be a spectacular failure that is enormously costly to working-class Americans).

Before both fiascos, "free market" advocates were promising all kinds of wonderful things would happen. When disaster ensured instead, the "free market" crowd quietly tip-toed away from the mess they were responsible for and claimed that their "free market solution" somehow wasn't responsible.

Look, if you want to advocate free market solutions to all of society's needs, knock yourself out. But don't then try to turn around and deny your failures. The free market is NOT a solution to everything.

You "free market" fanatics try to claim credit for all kinds of things that the free market had NOTHING to do with. And when it comes to the massive failures that the free market approach has been responsible for, you people deny responsibility and quietly tip-toe away from the fiascos that you played a role in.

Anonymous said...

Joel Achenbach with the Washington Post has also called Ron Paul "The Only Sane Person In The Room". That sure sounds like a pretty ringing endorsement.

Anonymous said...

I'm talking about, well, exactly what I posted. Unless I'm mistaken, the savings and loan fiascos were a problem with fraud, criminals. Its not the job of the market to catch and prosecute criminals, that is (generally) the government's job. You won't hear me say we should have so little government (or some other sort of legal force) that law and order break down. Law and order are requirements for any market system to work, otherwise you'd have free-market guys setting up shop in Sierra Leone.

From what I understand of both cases, the altered regulations allowed some people to game the system in ways no one expected or was prepared to deal with. I don't understand how that is related to market failure. Markets don't work without law and order.

Neither the power utilities nor the savings and loan were unbridled free markets, though. They weren't even close. Both industries still had many restrictions on them, with the utilities having a fixed retail price for power. So when the demand for power increased, the price did not increase with it. Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas and Electric literally had to sell, by law, power for a cheaper price than they bought it for. Why would the resulting bankruptcy be surprising?

You won't hear me say markets never fail. They can fail, they aren't perfectly effecient. But their power and decision-making structures are not only tempered by customer-accountability and trial-and-error, but they are more decentralized than government-planned industries, and so less vunerable to a single set of bad choices effecting the entire industry.

Anonymous said...

For info and some examples of working electricity markets, go here:

Local Ale said...

The Cal Engery Deregulation fixed prices. To call that a "free market" is a lie on your part.

Someone is complaining that their grandpa had to work in a field instead of sit in a public school and learn about the freaky stuff they drill into kids these days.

Someone is complaining that its better to have Third World Cambodians stitch their Nikes together, rather than natives.

This proves "the free market doesn't work?" Wake up, folks.

Mike Wagner said...

Why just pick on the Dept of Education (which, by the way, educates NOBODY)?
Ron Paul has also proposed aboloshing the Dept. of Energy, Commerce, Labor, Homeland Security and virtually the entire "alphabet soup" of Federal agencies.
TO be free means that the government doen't run your life. To be free means to be free of government.
The Federal government that the founders wanted us to have was so limited in its scope that the average citizen was not supposed to be aware of its existance. We were supposed to be governed by state and local governments which are smaller and closer to the people.
Image life without the income tax. If we could get Ron Paul in office, and support him in the Congress, we could downsize government to the size it was when GWB first took office and repeal the income tax - an replace it with NOTHING! No fair tax, NOTHING!
Question: think about your FAVORITE Federal program (other than defense) and ask yourself if you could do without that program if it meant you would never, ever have to pay income tax again.

Marc McDonald said...

To G:
Both the S&L and California energy deregulations were authored by free market advocates.

In both cases, these free marketers promised that wonderful things would happen if their plan passed. Instead we saw two of the biggest fiascos in U.S. history.

Free marketers are always running around, urging that America deregulate anything and everything.

The problem is, (as the late great Molly Ivins once pointed out), "When you go around deregulating everything, sooner or later, you'll find out why things were regulated in the first place."

Manifesto Joe said...

To the menagerie of fools, too many to name individually:

You are either very disingenuous, or very naive. There are hardcore, doctrinaire socialists on one extreme, and on the other, you. You have a fundamental misconception that somehow wealth can be divorced from state power, and that established wealth will not inevitably use its natural influence to compel state power to perpetuate that wealth. You are making the same mistake, ironically, that people on the very extreme left make: thinking that humans are ultimately reasonable, benevolent, will act as they should, etc. Have you read anything about what the U.S. economy was like during the Gilded Age, the heyday of your economic ideology?

There is one simple reason why there is no longer widespread child labor in the U.S. One reason why public education, yes, even such as it is, is now universally available. One reason why when someone gets hurt on the job, they don't just get put out on the street with an arm cast on, and tough shit, buddy. One reason why when someone has a catastrophic illness, they aren't just left to be evicted and starve, and their kids along with them. One reason why when someone gets too old and sick to work, they can at least afford a tin of Little Friskies. One reason why anybody can require the barest subsistence wage when they show up for a job.

It's called "government." And it's virtually inevitable. Ask somebody in Somalia what it was like to live without it. If you like low taxes, try sunny Guatemala. See what the roads and schools are like there.

I'll take my chances with a modern Western mixed economy, thank you. At least it can be monitored, checks and balances, etc. No, it isn't going to be clean or perfect. Nothing associated with the naked ape is ever going to be, and especially not a "free" market.

At least I've gotten a chance to respond thusly to the smug, ignorant likes of you, rather than being made into some beast of burden like some of my forebears were. You are either liars or fools. I hope that in most cases it is the latter.

Anonymous said...

Go Ron Paul! Go Ron Paul! God Bless Ron Paul! Ron Paul for President 2008!

Ron Paul in CNN debate on June 5, 2007!

"In the time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act" GEORGE ORWELL

Anonymous said...

You mention the S&L crisis, Paul, and Austrian economics in the same breathe, but you should educate yourself first - From a recent New York Times article:

"Under the banner of "Freedom, Honesty and Sound Money," Paul ran for Congress in 1974. He lost — but took the seat in a special election in April 1976. He lost again in November of that year, then won in 1978. On two big issues, he stood on principle and was vindicated: He was one of very few Republicans in Congress to back Ronald Reagan against Gerald Ford for the 1976 Republican nomination. He was also one of the representatives who warned against the rewriting of banking rules that laid the groundwork for the savings-and-loan collapse of the 1980s."