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Posts Tagged ‘ron paul’

Lunatic Ron Paul

Veteran SEAL sniper Chris Kyle was murdered by a troubled veteran in Texas. So many aspects make this a sad story.  That Kyle survived tours of combat only to be killed at home.  The loss of a devoted family man and father and husband.  The demons that surrounded his killer and led him to this insane action.  The fact that Kyle was trying to help the shooter through camraderie and some time at the gun range to deal with his demons. 

Now lots of people have come to have various views on Iraq.  I came to realize it was a mistake, particularly insofar as we didn’t leave nearly immediately after capturing Saddam Hussein.  Others thought it not only a mistake but also unjust, though I found this argument a little over-stated. The pre-war Iraq regime always had the air of an “outlaw nation.”  Whether a bad idea or not, our men fought on the whole very honorably in Iraq and today in Afghanistan.  And our enemies, on the whole, were and remain fanatical, nasty, terroristically-inclined Islamic nut jobs that deserve little sympathy. In other words, the war was a mistake, but not because it was particularly immoral for our men to be killing those whom they killed, but because it did little to advance our national security.  Yes, there were many mistakes, tragedies, and cruelties that always surround war.  I have been criticized for pointing out some of these cruelties undertaken by those who dishonor the uniform when they occurred.  We need not have a childish and completely romantic view of things.  But natural affection and sympathy and honor for our fighting men is a natural sentiment.  The War in Iraq was undeniably a time of sacrifice, courage, and technical prowess by our men, as exemplified by Chris Kyle. 

Only a small minded man like Ron Paul, then, would so habitually and unthinkingly insult Kyle and his memory after his murder.  Paul said on his Twitter feed that “Chris Kyle’s death seems to confirm that ‘he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.’ Treating PTSD at a firing range doesn’t make sense.” The last part makes some sense as a matter of prudence, but this was an exceptional situation with an exceptionally troubled young man.  Clearly, based on Kyle’s practice, lots of veterans find time among fellow veterans and the familiar feel of firearms to help them regain a sense of power and control over their lives.  More important, this nasty comment is typical of Ron Paul who, though he has some good ideas, never seems to be able to help himself from venturing into kooky and nasty territory.  Paul’s instincts are unnatural and unpatriotic. He is perhaps the worst standard bearer for a paleconservative outlook in national life.

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I can sort of understand the Ron Paul phenomenon. I too think the government has grown out of control big, that the Federal Reserve is a mistake, that the Welfare State is bad–both for being expensive and for encouraging idleness–and that our military is spread too thin and our foreign policy commitments are too great.  But why am I so viscerally opposed to him?  Why do I dislike him so much?

Well, a lot of reasons. For starters, he is not of presidential timber. He has no real record of leadership, rhetorical or otherwise.  He has all the ideological purity of a crackpot, along with all of the related ineffectiveness.  Consider how much more effective the numbers-based Paul Ryan has been in showing that our country is about to head over a cliff.

He also consistently shows bad judgment.  His politics overlap with my own at times.  But you don’t see me writing about Race Wars or talking about the virtues of the Articles of Confederation much over here.  Why?  Because I live in the real world, I realize that politics is about assembling coalitions, and I know that tone matters.  We need to be sober, prudent, and intelligent, particularly in public life.  We need not alienate whole classes of people for no good reason. We need not allow our concern for truth and candor to come at the expense of fellow feeling for our countrymen and the less fortunate. Ron Paul has none of these qualities.

Finally, he is all too comfortable with monstrous whack jobs such as 9/11 Truthers.  He shows a skepticism of the government that lends itself to idiotic pacifism and the embrace of our foreign enemies.  Part of leadership is telling the real whackos to bugger off.  Paul has shown no courage to do this, because, truthfully speaking, he mostly agrees with them.

So, while I like a few things he believes in, and I don’t think you need to embrace Bush’s invade-the-world-for-world-peace interventionism that is so fashionable as of late, I still think Paul is a huge idiot and I’m surprised he’s rising to the heights he has so far in the GOP primary.

Clearly much of this has to do with fears that Romney is hopelessly unreliable and wishy washy.  Perhaps.  Romney’s not me, and I know that.  But he’s also not crazy, disorganized and immature, and not being crazy, disorganized, and immature are the first requirements of being president.

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While I don’t always agree with him, I do think Charles Krauthammer is one of the most articulate observers of foreign policy and often makes a great deal of sense, particularly when he’s adhering to realism and not getting distracted by his monomania on certain Near Eastern countries.  His discussion of why the Democrats persisted on their Armenian gambit is quite sensible:

So why has Pelosi been so committed to bringing this resolution to the floor? (At least until a revolt within her party and the prospect of defeat caused her to waver.) Because she is deeply unserious about foreign policy. This little stunt gets added to the ledger: first, her visit to Syria, which did nothing but give legitimacy to Bashar al-Assad, who continues to engage in the systematic murder of pro-Western Lebanese members of parliament; then, her letter to Costa Rica’s ambassador, just nine days before a national referendum, aiding and abetting opponents of a very important free-trade agreement with the United States.

Is the Armenian resolution her way of unconsciously sabotaging the U.S. war effort, after she had failed to stop it by more direct means? I leave that question to psychiatry. Instead, I fall back on Krauthammer’s razor (with apologies to Occam): In explaining any puzzling Washington phenomenon, always choose stupidity over conspiracy, incompetence over cunning. Anything else gives them too much credit.

It’s really true that many of the bad things that big organizations do can be explained conspiratorially, when really a combination of bad luck, group think, and sheer stupidity often turn out to be the real causes.

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I recently completed Diversity: Invention of a Concept, by Peter Wood. This is the first of several book reviews I’ll be writing of books generously sent to me by my readers.

Diversity has become one of the defining ideals of our age, surpassing in certain respects our earlier commitments to formal equality, liberty, the rule of law, and merit. The diversity concept, unlike more exotic ideas such as multiculturalism, is important because it has spread outside the academy into the world of business and politics. Every mainstream institution from Hollywood and the art world to the education establishment and business trumpets its commitment to diversity. Yet diversity has undergone little criticism. Unlike affirmative action, which was earlier justified as a form of reparations for white injustice to blacks, diversity is a “feel good” idea that purports to benefit everyone, even members of the majority. Minorities advantaged by affirmative action obviously benefit by receiving positions and admissions they would otherwise not receive. But privileged groups also benefit according to diversity’s partisans because they are now exposed beneficially to different perspectives, ideas, and cultures.

Earlier works such as Dinesh D’Souza’s End of Racism (1995) and Alan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind (1987) dealt with narrower issues: the continuing social problems facing black Americans and the decline of standards in the academy respectively. Both of these works were authored in an age when diversity was less accepted as an aspirational ideal than it is at present. Wood’s contribution is unique. . . .

(more…)

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Noah Sweat in the Mississippi legislature giving perhaps the most skilled “political” speech in history:

My friends,

I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey.

If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.

But;

If when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman’s step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.

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General Petraeus advocated a surge. Then he, inexplicably, said it was working so well that it was time to change course again and reduce the surge. I discussed this illogic here. Andrew Bacevich–Army veteran , BU Professor, and father of deceased Army Lieutenant KIA in Iraq–explains the political roots of Petraeus’ backing down from his earlier enthusiasm for the surge in this article in the American Conservative:

If Petraeus actually believes that he can salvage something akin to success in Iraq and if he agrees with President Bush about the consequences of failure —genocidal violence, Iraq becoming a launching pad for terrorist attacks directed against the United States, the Middle East descending into chaos that consumes Israel, the oil-dependent global economy shattered beyond repair, all of this culminating in the emergence of a new Caliphate bent on destroying the West—then surely this moment of (supposed) promise is not a time for scrimping. Rather, now is the time to go all out—to insist upon a maximum effort.

There is only one plausible explanation for Petraeus’s terminating a surge that has (he says) enabled coalition forces, however tentatively, to gain the upper hand. That explanation is politics—of the wrong kind.

Given the current situation as Petraeus describes it, an incremental reduction in U.S. troop strength makes sense only in one regard: it serves to placate each of the various Washington constituencies that Petraeus has a political interest in pleasing.

A modest drawdown responds to the concerns of Petraeus’s fellow four stars, especially the Joint Chiefs, who view the stress being imposed on U.S. forces as intolerable. Ending the surge provides the Army and the Marine Corps with a modicum of relief.

A modest drawdown also comes as welcome news for moderate Republicans in Congress. Nervously eyeing the forthcoming elections, they have wanted to go before the electorate with something to offer other than being identified with Bush’s disastrous war. Now they can point to signs of change—indeed, Petraeus’s proposed withdrawal of one brigade before Christmas coincides precisely with a suggestion made just weeks ago by Sen. John Warner, the influential Republican from Virginia.

The article is worth reading in full. The idea that the Bush administration can dress up its helter skelter lack of strategy in Iraq is much more insulting to the uniform than any propaganda peddled by moveon.org and company.

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Ace reports an extraordinary story that I’d like to hear the disciples of judicial process and civil liberties for terrorists in the Democratic Party respond to:

Last May, Iraqi terrorists kidnapped three American soldiers.

American intelligence officials searched for cyber-signals about the kidnapping… and actually found them. They found the kidnappers talking to each other on-line.

However, they had to stop listening because the signals were passing through an American-based server and under the law that meant there could be no eavesdropping without a warrant.

So they stopped listening in on foreign terrorists holding kidnapped American soldiers.

For ten hours, officials worked to get “emergency authorization” to resume eavesdropping.

His post, and the evidence in support, is worth reading in full. In an earlier post entitled Wishful Thinking and Terrorism and another here, I’ve discussed some of the issues surrounding this issue.  In short, my view is that combating terrorists located overseas during a time of war, when combined with emerging communications technologies, demands flexibility and less judicial process than the fight against peacetime, domestic criminality. It would be nice if the Democratic Party would grow up and quit acting like this war to protect America from terrorism (and also the exigencies of protecting our troops fighting it overseas) can be carried on effectively without some flexibility in the executive branch and its agencies. Process is not free. We accept this domestically because we, American citizens, might be caught in the law enforcement net. But for terrorists communicating overseas with one another or their agents in America, there are few valuable interests at stake. If any American is talking to Khalid Sheik Mohammad, I want someone in the CIA listening as a matter of course.

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