Sunday, January 22, 2012

Who is the Least Bad Candidate?

Last time around, when it was effectively down to three, I concluded somewhat tentatively that it was Obama. He seemed a little less bad than Hilary Clinton and had one big advantage over McCain—when Obama did bad things, we, people who supported free markets, wouldn't get blamed for them. And I thought there was at least a chance that he would do some good things.

Ex post, I was probably wrong, although it is hard to be sure; we will never know how bad the other two would have been. The one part where I was right was his advantage over McCain. If a Republican president had run an enormous deficit, insisted on his right to treat anyone he could label as a terrorist as outside the normal protections of the law, expanded the Afghan war, and ended up with the same economic results as Obama, it would have been harder to bring the Tea Party movement into existence and elect a considerable number of its candidates in the midterm elections.

We now have another presidential election coming up, and the same question. If we include Ron Paul in the candidate pool, the answer is pretty easy. While I have some reservations about his ability to function as President, given no experience as an executive, his policy positions are closer to mine than I have any reason to expect of a serious candidate. In particular, on two biggies, ending the War on Drugs and shifting to a non-interventionist foreign policy, he is on the right side. It's true that his monetary policy seems to assume that producing money will continue to be a government monopoly (those who know more about it are welcome to correct me if I am mistaken), although he wants to tweak the details a bit, so in that regard, if I correctly understand him, he shares the socialist views of the other candidates. But one can't have everything.

I suspect however that, as most commentators believe, Ron Paul has very little chance of getting nominated, let alone elected. His real function in this election is to force the Republican party—ideally both parties—to shift in a libertarian direction, by demonstrating that there are a lot of votes there, and at the same time to increase public support for policies currently supported by neither party. 

Besides, including him makes the choice of least bad candidate an uninteresting one.

I am inclined to eliminate Santorum as well, since he also seems at this point very unlikely to get the nomination. That leaves us, yet again, with a pool of three, this time consisting of Gingrich, Romney, and Obama. Which is least bad?

It is a hard question. If we consider politics purely as a source of entertainment, Gingrich is an easy winner—he would be more fun to argue with than either of the others, and is likely to put on a better show. But the same things that make him interesting also make him frightening. I don't think a candidate who believes that the President and Congress ought to have the power to overrule the Supreme Court, as he apparently does, is exactly what the country needs. And I could imagine him coming up with a lot of other original—and dangerous—ideas. He is obviously smart and articulate, and it is possible that, once in power, his bite would be better than his bark, but I am not sure I want to risk it.

Romney is easier to evaluate. Pretty clearly, he is a liberal Republican currently pretending, for political reasons, to be a conservative Republican. In terms of the policies he would prefer, given the choice, I doubt he would be very different from the current incumbent—perhaps a little worse on military matters. Think of him as Obama light. Which leaves me wondering if perhaps I should again choose Obama as the least bad, at least if the Republicans succeed, as they well may, in taking both houses of Congress. 

On the historical evidence, practically the only time the federal government runs a surplus is when one party holds Congress and the other the White House. While it is probably true that Obama is, as one commenter put it, not a Kenyan but a Swede, that his ideal is to make the U.S. into something more like a European welfare state, he is also a Chicago politician, unlikely to let his principles get in the way of his politics. Faced with a congress controlled by the other party, a substantial minority of it in favor of a sharp reduction in government expenditure and regulation, he might well decide that his best strategy is to outflank the Republicans on the right. He has already made a few gestures in that direction, in rhetoric if not yet in substance.

That could, of course, mean being even more willing than they are to reduce liberty in the name of fighting terrorism. But it could also mean trying to reduce government expenditure and regulation wherever doing so is not too politically expensive—most obviously the military, which Romney is quite unlikely to cut, but perhaps in other areas as well. And it is at least possible, although not likely, that if the Republicans do not learn from the lesson Ron Paul is teaching, Obama will, that he will conclude that a shift in a libertarian direction somewhere, perhaps drugs or foreign policy, is a sensible tactic to create a Democratic majority.

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52 Comments:

At 2:19 PM, January 22, 2012, Blogger DR said...

Along those lines, you might want to consider the race Obama vs Romney vs Ron Paul running as a third party or independent.

Obama almost assuredly wins. In this scenario the vote tallys are probably 45% Obama, 40% Romney, 15% Ron Paul.

But the combination of Romney and Ron Paul leads to massive Republican turnout. Also the pool of people voting will lean very libertarian as Paul brings them out. This means a big win for Republicans, and especially for Tea Party Republicans.

Hard line deficit hawks in Congress force bigger budget cuts than a Romney administration would push on its own.

 
At 2:28 PM, January 22, 2012, Blogger David G said...

David,
I think you are fundamentally misreading Obama. He isn't driven by politics, he is driven by ideology.

Contrast his performance with Bill Clinton's. When Clinton was faced with a bad mid-term election he moved to the center. Obama has doubled down and moved left.

You also worry about Gingrich unilaterally ignoring the Supreme Court when Obama has already demonstrated a willingness to overrule Congress and ignore the court. To this point, the 2012 election has been the only check on Obama's actions. Think what he would be like as a lame duck.

 
At 4:24 PM, January 22, 2012, Anonymous Max said...

"If a Republican president had run an enormous deficit, insisted on his right to treat anyone he could label as a terrorist as outside the normal protections of the law, expanded the Afghan war, and ended up with the same economic results as Obama, it would have been harder to bring the Tea Party movement into existence and elect a considerable number of its candidates in the midterm elections."

If a Republican had continued Bush's policies instead of Obama, half the country would have opposed them, if only for partisan reasons. Now opponents of the War on Terror are marginalized because both parties are fully invested in it.

"It's true that his monetary policy seems to assume that producing money will continue to be a government monopoly (those who know more about it are welcome to correct me if I am mistaken)"

Even non-libertarians know that Paul is a hard money, Austrian economics guy. His campaign book is called "End the Fed". Clear enough?

 
At 4:36 PM, January 22, 2012, Blogger David Friedman said...

Max points out that Ron Paul is a "hard money, Austrian economics guy," and has a book titled "End the Fed." That doesn't answer my question, which is whether he wants to leave money in the hands of government. His support for the gold standard is what I referred to as tweaking the details a bit. The gold standard is usually proposed as part of a governmental monetary system.

 
At 5:05 PM, January 22, 2012, Blogger DR said...

@David's comment,

Could you expand on what you mean by private vs public money. I've read your 1982 comment in Cato on the subject, and I understand the context in an anarcho-capitalist framework.

But I don't see how you envision private money in a system with anything like the current government that exists. Specifically the state must denominate tax liability in some currency. (And if issuing debt in some currency, implicitly pegging future tax liability to it).

Whatever currency it chooses to denominate tax liability in, whether public fiat money, gold, some specific private money, becomes the de facto public money. As long as government taxes/spending make up anywhere near the concentration of economic activity that they do now, then any risk averse economic actor has a very strong incentive to hold government money.

In some sense you can already see this affect today. In most developed nations there are few to no capital controls and no constraint on people or corporations holding any currency they wish. Yet you see any overwhelmingly strong bias for people and corporations to hold their liquid assets in the domestic currency.

In short as long as you have a large government, its choice of currency to denominate tax liability in will always give said currency a huge competitive advantage.

 
At 5:14 PM, January 22, 2012, Blogger the_real_zano said...

Ron Paul supports currency competition.

 
At 5:38 PM, January 22, 2012, Blogger Franny said...

Paul's currency competition proposal is very different from a gold standard. I'm not sure if he would prefer a gold standard if he could impose his will but the competition proposal is certainly a low risk first step.

 
At 9:11 PM, January 22, 2012, Blogger David Friedman said...

I take it back--Ron Paul appears to be happy with competing private currencies.

 
At 4:35 AM, January 23, 2012, Blogger TheVidra said...

DR makes a very valid point regarding how tax liability (and I would add payment for government services) would obstruct a true currency market with competing currencies. Here's a proposed solution: each state issues its own currency, and pays for services in its own currency, but can use vendors from across the country (where practical). Any one of the 50 currencies is legal tender throughout the country. This way, the states adopting the soundest monetary policy (short of deflation, which would make them come out as losers) would attract the best vendors, the populace would have choices, and so on... not sure if this would be valid. Also not sure how to implement it, so perhaps an intermediary step would be the gold standard (perhaps that was Ron Paul's idea), but I think the gold standard has many inadequacies - especially lack of flexibility of the money supply to reflect the true value of all things produced in society (which can fluctuate or grow from year to year).

 
At 4:50 AM, January 23, 2012, Blogger TheVidra said...

To respond on topic :) I would really really really hope to see Ron Paul run as, or endorse, a third party candidate (Libertarian or Constitution Party) in the general election, with the risk of almost certainly having Obama elected again. His popularity with independents, libertarian-minded Republicans, and even some moderate Democrats (unless the "he will leave the poor in the streets to die" rhetoric prevails) will probably earn him a decent chunk of votes, making libertarians the power-makers in the political process. It would also punish Republicans for straying from their small government principle, and punish American taxpayers as a whole for their political views. But all this is mere fantasy, since Ron Paul said repeatedly he wouldn't run as a 3rd party candidate.

 
At 6:53 AM, January 23, 2012, Blogger SheetWise said...

Bill Clinton was easy, because he never meant anything he said. He parroted his supporters, but in anything other than trivial matters he ignored them. Hillary was more dangerous -- she actually believes the things she says.

In this regard, I see Mitt as Bill -- he would be inconsequential (say what you need to say, do little, allow the recovery to happen). Paul would be more like Hillary in the sense that he really intends to promote and implement the policies he has stated. Since you have to take Paul at his word (he's not lying), he's out.

We expect politicians to lie. Many of us were shocked to learn that Obama was not lying. Mitt is, which makes him a lot more electable.

Gingrich is the wild card. I have no idea what he believes -- and I believe he is capable of believing anything. He's not as strong on economics or fundamental values as he is on history and rationalization -- but he's clearly the most reflective candidate.

Mitt has already stated that he relies on Greg Mankiw for economic advice -- and that's enough to tell me that he hasn't got a clue.

I'm leaning toward Gingrich simply based upon his ability to assimilate issues, and the only thing that scares me is his hubris (his is simply more obvious, it's certainly not unique).

 
At 7:30 AM, January 23, 2012, Anonymous GregS said...

Someone already pointed out that Ron Paul supports competitive currency, so I guess I’ll second that. He spells out his position in “The Revolution.” He states that simply allowing people to use gold would be a good first step; I think that would be a nearly sufficient first step. Even having a single competing currency would do a world of good. Having more would be better, but I suspect the first competing currency we add would have a larger impact than any subsequent additional currencies.
His book is worth reading, by the way. I thought it would be a terrible “campaign trail” book, but I was pleasantly surprised. I consider myself pretty well versed in economic and libertarian literature, but he added a few things I didn’t know. For example, “all cash, no Medicare, no insurance” is a viable business model for a medical practice. It saves enormously on overhead, and as a result this model can supply medical care even to the very poor. (A $100 office visit get chopped to something like a $35 office visit when you fire the billing clerks and avoid the “negotiating with 3rd party” overhead costs.) He also points out that there was sufficient pro bono and charity work to supply medicine to the poor before Medicare and Medicaid. I’ve heard him say so before. That’s the kind of thing that an enterprising media analyst might fact check; it would be embarrassing to Paul if he were claiming something that is historically not true. It’s telling that such fact checking hasn’t taken place.

 
At 7:34 AM, January 23, 2012, Blogger Stephan Kinsella said...

Agree with most of this post (assuming you did settle on Obama being the least bad--I was not clear on this). But: Paul a socialist on money? I don't think so. I believe he is in favor of a free market gold/monetary system.

Also, re this: "I don't think a candidate who believes that the President and Congress ought to have the power to overrule the Supreme Court, as he apparently does, is exactly what the country needs."

It seems to me that this is just a version of the very Jeffersonian idea of Concurrent Review: that each of the 3 branchs of the fedgov has an independent obligation to comply with the Constitution, meaning the Supreme court *can* overturn laws it believe are unconstutitonal, but it is not *supreme* in this regard; the President has a constititional obligation to veto, or even to refuse to execute, laws that he believes are unconstitutional even if the Congress enacts it and even if the Court blesses it; and each Congressman has an obligation to vote against any law that he believes to be unconstitutional, even if hte Court blesses it.

 
At 7:43 AM, January 23, 2012, Anonymous Roger said...

I wonder if this is a realistic strategy question that Republican leaders might face: If you thought you could win with Ron Paul on the ticket or lose without him, would you rather lose than win? If you're objective is power, might you have more power losing the election than winning it with a candidate that wants to dramatically reduce the power wielded by both parties?

 
At 1:34 PM, January 23, 2012, Anonymous StrangeLoop said...

If you read Vanity Fair's excerpt from the new book "The Real Romney," you might reverse your characterization of Romney (i.e., he is a conservative opportunistically disguised as a liberal). Or, at the very least, it portrays a much more complicated model than "just a liberal."

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2012/02/mitt-romney-201202

 
At 2:40 PM, January 23, 2012, Blogger Jacob Oveson said...

I disagree with your assessment of Obama, in political analyzation. I believe that he is the farthest thing from Clinton, who pushed the democratic party to the center half-way through his first turn, becoming more moderate, as Obama has only pushed the democratic party further and further leftward. I think Obama has got to be the very worst option by a very large margin.

 
At 4:56 PM, January 23, 2012, Blogger David Friedman said...

"Many of us were shocked to learn that Obama was not lying."

When did we learn that? On medical marijuana, I think it's clear that he has not acted as he said he would. Similarly on transparency. And on Guantanamo. On medical care, in a debate with Hilary he argued against a mandate, but in office he supported one.

 
At 5:41 PM, January 23, 2012, Anonymous neoclassical_libertarian said...

David Friedman,

Ron Paul, apart from his racist newsletters which I have read completely, has one of the most moronic beliefs in economic and social policies.

He wants to cut $1 trillion in the *first year.* Wouldn't this contract aggregate demand so fast that it will take the country into a deep downturn? Even the right-wing AEI criticized Paul on this.

He wants to repeal the personal income tax--some 8% of GDP and the biggest source of tax revenue--without putting forward any plans of 1) how to cover the more than $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities and 2) ending the Social Security and Medicare systems in their entirety.

Moving on from economic issues, his nutty stance of wanting to repeal Roe vs. Wade is equally troubling. He wants to put states' rights ahead of the individual rights of women and allow the state of Texas to ban abortions.

I wonder how someone like you can even consider this southern white redneck and pseudo-libertarian as the less worse candidate. In contrast to Ron LOL, even lefty Obama looks like Reagan--and Gingrich looks like Goldwater.

 
At 6:45 PM, January 23, 2012, Blogger SheetWise said...

"'Many of us were shocked to learn that Obama was not lying.'

When did we learn that?"

You mentioned ~3.5 in your question ;)

 
At 6:59 PM, January 23, 2012, Anonymous Allan Walstad said...

On Ron Paul's "racist newsletters": Paul says he did not write the objectionable material (which comprised a very small part of the total), did not realize that stuff was going out, and disavows it. Unless he's lying, which doesn't seem to fit his style, the worst that can be said is that he concentrated too much on his medical practice and didn't pay enough attention as publisher to what the people he had working for him were sometimes writing.

On his "moronic" beliefs regarding social policy: Openly advocating an end to the insane drug war by itself makes him far and away the most enlightened candidate on social issues.

On his "moronic" economic policies: He wants to terminate the banking-cartel monetary meddling that produces booms and busts and facilitates massive deficit spending. That by itself makes him far and away the most enlightened candidate on economic issues.

On cutting a trillion from the budget immediately: This would not be necessary if the R's and D's had not got us into the fix we are in. It would still leave us with a deficit! After WWII spending was cut dramatically and the benighted Keynesians predicted economic disaster, what we got was growth. Invocation of "aggregate demand" ought to be generally recognized by now as the hallmark of claptrap that it surely is. What matters is reallocating labor and resources to more productive uses, and a great way to do that is to shrink the government and let the market work.

On repealing the income tax: Anybody who cares one hoot for liberty ought to cheer that. It's not just about the money, it's about the getting federal government's nose out of our individual lives. Paul suggests meeting the needs of people dependent on Social Security and other programs in the short term with the aid of savings from imperial military expenses, while moving long-term to end those programs by giving young people the ability to opt out.

Paul doesn't believe that laws pro or anti abortion properly fall within the federal government's jurisdiction, and I tend to agree. People who talk of nothing but a woman's right to choose conveniently neglect any possibility that that a baby 6 inches from clearing the birth canal might have the slightest right not to have its brains sucked out, or, having been ejected while viable, might deserve something other than being tossed in a bucket to expire.

Not sure what a "neoclassical libertarian" is -- maybe to libertarianism what a neocon is to conservatism? Talk about phony!

 
At 8:14 PM, January 23, 2012, Anonymous RKN said...

Some of the things Paul would want to do as president I suppose can be accomplished by executive order, but many can not. And he's unlikely to get those latter things passed by either house filled with representatives who don't share his libertarian ideals. I agree with Allan Walstad, bringing a fast stop to the dismal drug war and our tacit role as Team World Police is enough to get my vote. If I decide to.

 
At 5:34 AM, January 24, 2012, Anonymous Dick White said...

In my judgment the single criterion for rejecting Obama is Obamacare not only for its direct effect on health care but also its indirect effect on government control in future legislation. Currently it is the law of the land and other than some tweaking, Congress is essentially powerless to stop it. Of course, the Supreme Court could ride to the rescue but I see no otherwise distinguishing virtues of an Obama second term that would recommend relying on judicial salvation.

 
At 9:00 AM, January 24, 2012, Anonymous neoclassical_libertarian said...

Allan Walstad tells us why he is a certified Paulturd.

It's so hilarious how you Paulturds defend this creationist, anti-choice nut regarding his racist newsletters. If you can't manage your own newsletters, how the hell can you manage your own country? He hasn't officially repudiated his newsletters. In fact pseudo-libertarian Paul defended his own racist writings in 1996:

http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/12/27/395391/fact-check-ron-paul-personally-defended-racist-newsletters/

And he made the following statements on his newsletters:

"The federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS (my training as a physician helps me see through this one)."

http://twitpic.com/8a284e

"Am I glad I voted in Congress against an expensive federal holiday for this man [MLK]."

Here's his promotional personal note to his racist subscribers, saying:

"you may have my newsletters for an unprecedented 50% off ($49.50)!"

http://twitpic.com/7xe4ze

And his writings from an earlier book he wrote were a preamble to his racist newsletters:

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/30/in-early-book-rep-ron-paul-criticized-aids-patients-minority-rights-and-sexual-harassment-victims/

What are you going to claim: he didn't write his own book?

So let me get this straight, Paulturd:

(1) Your creationist pseudo-libertarian starts his own racist and homophobic firm to publish newsletters.

(2) Personally writes some of the stuff, especially the ones against MLK, gays, and AIDS patients--stuff you can also find in his own book.

(3) Personally defends the racist claims about black males being 90% of all the criminals in DC.

(4) Makes a million dollars in profits at 50% discount of just $49.50 a subscription LOL.

(5) Suddenly when it comes to reaching an audience that is not merely white christian Texans, he completely changes the story and says he disavows them--contradicting his actions.

(6) The pivotal point: Paul never released an official statement repudiating all of this newsletters. He never donated his profits to charity.

 
At 11:01 AM, January 24, 2012, Blogger Andreas Collvin said...

neoclassical_libertarian,

So, you are actually questioning Ron Paul being a libertarian, when you are having a hard time grasping the concept of liberty yourself.

What's a neoclassical libertarian supposed to be anyways? Can't see that it's anything other than a left libertarian (questionable whether neoclassical implies that, but whatever), who wishes to impose limitations on freedom by frowning upon wage labour, violating freedom of contract. Evidently, you cannot see the relationship between lack of freedom and taxes, otherwise you would not have issued the lowering of taxes as a problem. Taxing basically means that you don't own, not only the harvest of your labour, but the labour/process itself leading up to it, undermining the incentives to invest your own time and energy towards your own aims.

I don't doubt for a minute that you can dig up crap about Ron Paul, but if you look at what he is promoting, I'd say that's the best protection AGAINST prejudice having an impact on society in big, is to get rid of every government program, aiming at social justice, by affirmative actions, only establishing that there's a _need_ to treat people differently.

You sound like any other mainstream social liberal here in Sweden. Stop bastardizing Libertarianism.

 
At 11:04 AM, January 24, 2012, Blogger David Friedman said...

‪neoclassical_libertarian‬ said...

…In fact pseudo-libertarian Paul defended his own racist writings in 1996:

http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/12/27/395391/fact-check-ron-paul-personally-defended-racist-newsletters/

You don't say which of the quotes there you consider racist. The only one that seems to me to come close is the claim that 95% of black males in D.C. are "semi-criminal or entirely criminal." The figure looks high, even with a broad definition of "semi-criminal," but one would want to know what statistics he is basing it on.



And he made the following statements on his newsletters: 

"The federal-homosexual cover-up on AIDS (my training as a physician helps me see through this one)."

http://twitpic.com/8a284e"

The page you link to shows only the first page of the newsletter and does not contain the passage you quote. What it does show is that Ron Paul is describing the views of another physician, not claiming to have independent evidence that they are true. His own comment on those views is: "Since the feds lie to us about everything else, I think this is something we should at the least consider."

What part of that do you regard as objectionable? And why are you giving words, in quotes, that are not in the source you cite (I don't know if they are on a later page of the newsletter, not shown, or if so how you found them)?

…

And his writings from an earlier book he wrote were a preamble to his racist newsletters:

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/30/in-early-book-rep-ron-paul-criticized-aids-patients-minority-rights-and-sexual-harassment-victims/

Which of the statement quoted in that article about his book do you disagree with?

Clearly you don't like Ron Paul, but I don't see much justification for your passionate attack on him.

 
At 11:13 AM, January 24, 2012, Blogger David Friedman said...

A little googling finds the quote about AIDS, not in the newsletter that the poster gave a link to but quoted in various sources as from a solicitation letter for the newsletter. The link is useful, however, as providing evidence about what Ron Paul, or whoever wrote the actual quote if he didn't, thought was misleading about the federal account of AIDS.

The newsletter linked to, incidentally, provides some evidence of sloppy scholarship by Ron Paul, since he gives the standard, very dubious, account of where "ring around the rosy" came from as historical fact.

 
At 12:51 PM, January 24, 2012, Anonymous Allan Walstad said...

I guess one of the problems of running an open and tolerant blog is the likelihood that eventually you get visited by obnoxious 12-year-olds with an attitude and too little fresh air. Oh well.

 
At 1:51 AM, January 25, 2012, Anonymous neoclassical_libertarian said...

And another problem with having an open minded blog is the amount of Paulbots, with the maturity of Justin Bieber fans, that show up to defend anything uttered by an old racist Texan. No amount of *contextualizing* can acquit him of his racist associations.

Professor Friedman,

Here's the entire source for the newsletters. You can find the newsletters based on topic: "MLK," "Jews," "Jared Taylor," "Needlin'" etc.

A quick list of the most controversial newsletters is the following:

http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/9110-a-collection-of-ron-pauls-most-incendiary-newsletters

The racism and homophobia were pretty prevalent in the newsletters, representing a consistent theme. Even if he didn't write them, he made a lot of money from them. He wrote to readers to subscribe. He acknowledged the via interviews.

 
At 1:53 AM, January 25, 2012, Anonymous neoclassical_libertarian said...

The entire source for the newsletters:

http://rpnewsletter.wordpress.com/

 
At 3:54 PM, January 25, 2012, Anonymous Nightrunner said...

> his policy positions are closer to mine than I have any reason to expect of a serious candidate

Tells you something about yourself, no?

 
At 5:25 PM, January 25, 2012, Blogger Will McLean said...

Leaving aside the old newsletters, Paul seem to be uncomfortably willing to promote myths about the Civil War era that are false but comforting to people that regret that the CSA lost.

http://willscommonplacebook.blogspot.com/2012/01/ron-pauls-srategic-ignorance.html

 
At 6:28 PM, January 25, 2012, Anonymous Allan Walstad said...

Freeing the slaves was one of the best things that ever happened to/in the US. And the Civil War was undoubtedly the worst. 600,000 killed was 2% of the entire population of the country at the time. For comparison purposes, 2% of today's population would be over 6 million, or more than 2,000 times the number of lives lost in the 9/11 attacks. The fact is that slaves were freed elsewhere without violence, often by compensating the owners. That Lincoln may have favored compensated emancipation before the war does not change the fact that he chose to prosecute such a deadly and destructive war. Does anyone seriously think that the Confederates were interested in overrunning and subjugating the North? Lincoln also behaved tyrannically against Northerners, trampling the Bill of Rights, imprisoning people who disagreed with the war. And his own statements clearly indicate that freeing the slaves was not the reason for prosecuting the war. One can reasonably disagree with Paul, but only the most willfully ignorant would seek to portray him as ignorant on the history itself. And just his opposition to the insane war on drugs, which imprisons a much higher proportion of blacks than whites, ironically makes Paul a better friend to minorities than our current president.

 
At 10:13 PM, January 25, 2012, Anonymous Neoclassical_Libertarian said...

After all of that baloney, all you could bring up was Paul's position on the War on Drugs? Sure, he touts his position as being pro-black. Note, that's only in public. If you are a person who is less than intellectually capable of grasping the simple fact that racists change behavior in public, then no wonder you are a certified Paulturd. After reading through all the perverted thoughts about MLK, the Civil Rights movement, homosexuals, and AIDS patients, it is conspicuous that this man is a megalomaniac in private.

Uh....wait...

http://biggovernment.com/jsshapiro/2011/12/26/exclusive-ron-paul-in-2009-i-wouldnt-risk-american-lives-to-end-the-holocaust/

 
At 4:33 AM, January 26, 2012, Anonymous martin said...

After all of that baloney

And why exactly is that balony?

it is conspicuous that this man is a megalomaniac in private.

Uh....wait...

http://biggovernment.com/jsshapiro/2011/12/26/exclusive-ron-paul-in-2009-i-wouldnt-risk-american-lives-to-end-the-holocaust/


Sure, the fact that he would *not* intervene proves he's a megalomaniac...

 
At 7:39 AM, January 26, 2012, Blogger en said...

Interesting how a monetarist called an Austrian a socialist on money.

 
At 7:39 AM, January 26, 2012, Blogger Will McLean said...

Lincoln's goals were to preserve the Union and to end slavery as soon as possible by constitutional means.

The CSA's goals were to preserve their ability to own their fellow Americans, enslaving them with coercive violence, forever.

Their theoretical justification was that they had a right to leave the United States and take the territory they occupied with them, but nobody had a right to leave them.

To achieve their aims they started a war by violently seizing Federal property.

 
At 12:13 PM, January 26, 2012, Anonymous Allan Walstad said...

Will McLean: "Lincoln's goals were to preserve the Union and to end slavery as soon as possible by constitutional means."

Judging by his well-known letter to Horace Greeley, the second goal you claim for him (if it was his goal at all) had zero priority relative to the former. Lincoln made it quite clear that if he could preserve the union by not freeing the slaves, he would have not freed the slaves.

Regarding the "attack on federal property" line, referring to the ejection of federal troops from Fort Sumter: The British built forts in the colonies. Were they entitled to keep them after the colonies declared their independence? Fort Sumter as a justification for Lincoln's war of territorial control, for the viciousness with which he prosecuted that war (Sherman's march to the sea, anyone?) is simply risible. And by the way, Lincoln's generals soon took that same viciousness to the western plains in their wars of extermination against native Americans.

Nobody is defending slavery. But simplifying the point to its core, if the Southerners were bad guys it doesn't make Lincoln a good guy, and it doesn't justify the deaths of 600,000 people.

 
At 12:39 PM, January 26, 2012, Blogger David G said...

"Fort Sumter: The British built forts in the colonies. Were they entitled to keep them after the colonies declared their independence?"
Allan,
Continued occupation of British forts in the Northwest Territory was one of the causes of the War of 1812. Cry as you will, the attack on Ft. sumter was clearly Cassus Belli.

The Confederate States didn't need to secede. There is some thought that they actually started the fighting to prevent a reconciliation. Nevertheless, having started the war, they accept the consequences of the war.

Lincoln's goal to preserve the Union was simple. He believed that once started, it would not stop. Please note the states that seceded from the Confederacy. OLincoln believed that a bloody war was a better alternative then the Balkanization of North America.

 
At 2:29 PM, January 26, 2012, Blogger Will McLean said...

The CSA could have tolerated the Federal occupation of Fort Sumter indefinitely, as the Spanish tolerate the British occupation of Gibraltar.

As to the Greeley letter, he's saying that preservation of the Union is his top priority as a matter of duty. The context is that Greeley wants him to emancipate immediately, and Lincoln wants to use it as an ultimatum. If he can get all or some of the slave states to give up the rebellion he can always seek emancipation later.

 
At 2:36 PM, January 26, 2012, Blogger Will McLean said...

As a practical matter, Lincoln's priorities are correct. If he fails to preserve the Union, then the CSA slaves end up in another sovereign state, where he has no ability to emancipate them.

 
At 5:21 PM, January 26, 2012, Blogger Will McLean said...

Allan Walstad:

"On Ron Paul's "racist newsletters": Paul says he did not write the objectionable material (which comprised a very small part of the total), did not realize that stuff was going out, and disavows it. Unless he's lying, which doesn't seem to fit his style, the worst that can be said is that he concentrated too much on his medical practice and didn't pay enough attention as publisher to what the people he had working for him were sometimes writing."

I don't know what his style is. Having material published with your name on it, written by someone else, and which you never review is a style I do not understand.

 
At 5:52 PM, January 26, 2012, Anonymous Allan Walstad said...

David G, have you noticed yet that your comment regarding British forts supports my position? Yes of course, having separated from Great Britain, the united states were not prepared to put up with continued British occupation of forts in their territory. Same with CSA and Sumter.

"Lincoln believed that a bloody war was a better alternative then the Balkanization of North America." Geez, I guess we better invade Canada and Mexico, huh? Otherwise we are faced with the continuing "Balkanization of North America." Gimme a break.

Will McLean: "The CSA could have tolerated the Federal occupation of Fort Sumter indefinitely...." Suppose for a moment that's true, i.e., that a union fort strategically dominating a southern harbor could reasonably have been tolerated. Do you comprehend the difference between evicting soldiers from one fort versus prosecuting a 4-year war to the tune of 600,000 dead? Sumter was gone -- with how many casualties? THEN Lincoln had the choice of pursuing or not pursuing one of the deadliest, most vicious military campaigns in history, for the purpose of maintaining territorial control. He said yes to that, and so do you, apparently.

The Greeley letter is only one of many examples of Lincoln's own statements making clear that freeing slaves was not a priority for him. Your attempt to explain away the obvious is laughable -- this stuff is way too well known to argue about, even with all the Lincoln hagiographies. I wonder if you are aware that William Lloyd Garrison, who really WAS an abolitionist, favored northern secession from the South?

 
At 7:23 PM, January 26, 2012, Blogger David G said...

Allan,
If you want the other country to dismantle or surrender its fortifications, you have to win the war. That's been a standard part of peace treaties for a long time. The British agreed to evacuate the Northwest forts in the Treaty of Paris in 1783 but didn't until the War of 1812, when we actually had the power to contest them.

As to invading Canada and Mexico, we did. Canada repelled the invasion and we took what we wanted from Mexico. Now imagine two large unfriendly countries with competing interests in Mexico and competing for influence in Alaska.

As to the other points in your post, you keep stating that Lincoln was not interested in freeing the slaves. Why then,did South Carolina need to secede? The South first attempted Blackmail (If Lincoln wins, we're out of here.) When that failed, they tried armed robbery. They wanted a war to prevent reconciliation, thinking it would be quick and easy. (To be fair, almost everyone did.) It turned out to be long and bloody and they lost. Too bad.

 
At 6:16 AM, January 27, 2012, Blogger Will McLean said...

Garrison was very like a 19th c. Ron Paul, a deluded crank who had some admirable goals but thought that his own simple solutions to hard problems would be politically practical and effective.

 
At 6:55 AM, January 27, 2012, Anonymous Allan Walstad said...

David G: Interesting how far you are willing to go to maintain an untenable position. So, according to you, it was perfectly fine for the British to keep forts, regardless of their location in the united states (not to mention their treaty obligation to vacate) until they were evicted militarily. How casually you talk of settling things by war, treating 600,000 dead as though it were a soup-is-warm, soup-is-cold matter.

Will McLean: At least Garrison didn't opt for a war that killed 2%of the entire population of the country. Everyone is well aware that the electoral results of 1860 revealed a totally fractured country, and Lincoln's victory portended northern supremacy which, yes, would likely lead to the end of slavery in the South, as well as economic domination by the industrial North. If you were cognizant of a bit more history, you would realize that North or South Carolina had already threatened secession in 1833 -- over tariffs, not slavery. No one is defending slavery, but the South with less than half the population and little industry posed no long-term threat to the North, while you, like David G, continue to sneeze at the 600,000 who did not have to die.

I think the positions are clear enough for us (or me, at least) to move on.

 
At 7:44 AM, January 27, 2012, Blogger David G said...

Allan,
The British refused to honor their treaty obligations and vacate the Northwest forts until we honored our treaty obligations and paid the money we owed to british merchants and displaced loyalists. It was a point of contention but not the cause of the war.

You are right, 600,000 people didn't have to die. You are deluded as to who is responsible. The South didn't have to secede. There was no political will for emancipation. The political battle had been expansion of slavery to the territories. The Slave faction had been the agressor in the controversy for the previous 40 years.

Imagine the politics in the US after secession if it is allowed to stand. "I don't like the results of this election (vote, appointment, etc.) so I'm leaving.

Once Secession happened, war was inevitable. It might not have been in 1861 but it would have happened at some point. South Carolina started it for its own domestic political issues and got wat it deserved. Remember the old description of SC, "Too small to be a country. Too large to be an insane asylum."

 
At 9:28 AM, January 27, 2012, Blogger Will McLean said...

Two named former employees have now said on the record that Paul saw the newsletters before publication:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/01/no-one-left-to-lie-to/252123/

 
At 6:28 AM, January 28, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the source Will McLean gave: <> What's racist about any of this?

 
At 6:29 AM, January 28, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the source Will McLean gave: "Paul was quoted in the Dallas Morning News that year as defending a newsletter line from 1992 that said 95 percent of black men in the District are "semi-criminal or entirely criminal" and that black teenagers can be "unbelievably fleet of foot."

"If you try to catch someone that has stolen a purse from you, there is no chance to catch them," the newspaper quoted Paul as saying." What's racist about any of this?

 
At 8:15 AM, January 28, 2012, Blogger Andreas Collvin said...

Then again, who would be the bigger racist; the one with diluted ideas, or the one making sure that those diluted ideas actually make a difference. And not in a good direction btw. As Sowell put it - it's not the masses that want affirmative actions, they pretty much want to be left alone, doing their thing, but rather, the elite wanting to do the thinking for everyone else.

 
At 11:56 PM, February 04, 2012, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ron Paul has a simple 3 part solution to legalizing constitutional forms of money:

1) repeal all sales taxes on gold & silver

2) eliminate capital gains tax on gold & silver

3) enforce contracts that require payment in gold & silver

 
At 3:10 AM, February 08, 2012, Blogger Doc Merlin said...

"It's true that his monetary policy seems to assume that producing money will continue to be a government monopoly (those who know more about it are welcome to correct me if I am mistaken)"

No, he has proposed bills allowing individuals to legally issue their own money on several occasions.

 

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