Ron Paul’s Freedom Ain’t Free

Up until this point I was still watching Paul with great interest.  After all, you don’t really see a politician saying such wonderful things about freedom and transparent government out loud in public.  He and his supporters were also quite sympathetic figures given his treatment in the media.

Then I found a few very worrying positions of his.  On civil rightsGay rights.  Most recently separation of church and state.

It looked as though this was a candidate whose rhetoric was full of fundamental contradictions.  But his supporters made a passionate case for him, and in some instances an eloquent case.  Then he seemed to take a step forward on gay rights.

But it is in contemplating his position on church and state, education, civil rights and such that the fundamental flaw in his candidacy becomes glaring apparent.  His insistence on States Rights (and removing the power of the federal government on a number of issues), while on the surface appealing, is in reality opposed to the freedom he supposedly champions.

The cry of “States Rights” has always been a shallow argument, and August slices right through it like Zatoichi:

But the most frequently-used references to “states’ rights” seem to have, shall we say, and alterior motive, don’t you agree? The Declaration of Independence flat-out says that all men (and in modern times we’ve accepted that means all people) are equal, and yet whenever there’s some kind of equality people acquire, a lot of people suddenly feel the states should have the right to disagree with the founding document upon which the entire structure of American government is based upon.

This is nothing more than a dodge.  At best, it is an appeal to latent yearning for racist days gone by

August goes on to deliver the final blow:

So really, why should abortion be a “state’s right” to determine? Either you think abortion should be illegal or you don’t. Is there a particular reason you think it’s a crime in Wyoming but but in New Jersey? That goes the same for the death penalty and gay marriage… exactly what does geography have to do with this stuff?

Here is the problem with Ron Paul.  Championing States Rights is really advocating for States Rights over Individual Rights.  It places where in America you live above civil rights we have strove as a country to protect.

It also seriously trashes important aspects of what government provides.  Like education.  There are a lot of problems with the US education system.  One of them is rampant inequality in the quality of education provided.  Removing a federal authority and leaving this up to the states is not going to help that problem.  Leaving laws regulating discrimination up to the states is not going to help anything.  Put these together, and that troublesome aspect of affirmative action, race based admissions, will be legal again, but in a form not seen since before the civil rights movement.

Abortion will only be legal in some states.  Gay marriage?  In even fewer.  In some states Christianity will become the basis for the law.  What’s to stop them?  The magical free market?  This would presume everyone in a state that, for example, outlaws abortion and gay marriage suddenly decides to leave based solely upon those particular rights.  It presumes that the economic effects of removing those rights would devastate the state they were enacted in.  It presumes much, and goes on little.  When you look at history, you see a struggle to protect the rights of the minority.  Removing those protections people fought so hard to ensure will have one clear effect those rights:  It will damage or eliminate them.

This is why a Ron Paul presidency would be so good for corporations, and bad for things like unions and child labor laws.  Removing regulations only sounds like a way to bring about more freedom.  In reality, some regulations are necessary to protect against the abuse of the powerful.  This is the truth Ron Paul does not reflect.

This is why it would be a mistake to vote for Ron Paul.


Giulliani: The Worst Candidate For America

Who would support Rudy Giulliani?

I know he tends to do rather well in the polls, but seriously.  This man is substantively worse than Bush.  That takes a lot.  Whether you look to the right or the left, he seems to have more than his share of detractors.  Sometimes these are high profile detractors who absolutely tear him into the shreds he’d make of our constitution (Matt Tiabi of Rolling Stone via Century of the Common Iowan):

Rudy giuliani is a true American hero, and we know this because he does all the things we expect of heroes these days — like make $16 million a year, and lobby for Hugo Chávez and Rupert Murdoch, and promote wars without ever having served in the military, and hire a lawyer to call his second wife a “stuck pig,” and organize absurd, grandstanding pogroms against minor foreign artists, and generally drift through life being a shameless opportunist with an outsize ego who doesn’t even bother to conceal the fact that he’s had a hard-on for the presidency since he was in diapers. In the media age, we can’t have a hero humble enough to actually be one; what is needed is a tireless scoundrel, a cad willing to pose all day long for photos, who’ll accept $100,000 to talk about heroism for an hour, who has the balls to take a $2.7 million advance to write a book about himself called Leadership. That’s Rudy Giuliani. Our hero. And a perfect choice to uphold the legacy of George W. Bush.

Wow that’s harsh!  And its all the better since it is dead on accurate.  But wait, there’s more!

Yes, Rudy is smarter than Bush. But his political strength — and he knows it — comes from America’s unrelenting passion for never bothering to take that extra step to figure shit out.

This one line is a blistering criticism of American politics.  And its aimed right at one of its most deserving beneficiaries.

Those supporters he does attract buy right into the fearmongering Rudy has implemented in place of a campaign strategy. (The Amboy Times):

Clinton didn’t “get it” after the first WTC attack, and today’s dems still don’t get it after 9/11. While the President tries to focus on fighting AQ, the left has focused on Gitmo, undoing the Patriot Act, surrender in Iraq, and sensativity towards Muslims. The Dems want to stop terrorism, they really do, but they’re not willing to risk losing any troops, opposing Islamic dictatorships, or basicly offending anyone.

Rudy Giuliani said if a Democrat is elected president in 2008, America will be at risk for another terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001.

But if a Republican is elected, he said, especially if it is him, terrorist attacks can be anticipated and stopped.

One should expect such grade A bullshit from a front-runner, but even so!   If Fred Thompson is Bush’s heir apparent, Giulliani is the rabid younger prince straining for the throne.  Given his abysmal record on civil liberties, the war, and by extension our national security, a Rudy candidacy would be one in which we’d expect a lot of blood.  The blood of protesters.  The blood of our soldiers.  The blood of those our nation invades, tortures, and kills.

More than any other candidate, Rudy Giulliani is the Caligula in this race.  While other candidates may have positions you disagree with, Rudy fundamentally represents the anti-thesis of American democracy (Glenn Greenwald) :

Now, NR‘s Rich Lowry, who attended a Giuliani event in New Hampshire last night, reveals statements made by Giuliani explaining his views of presidential war powers that are at least as extremist and disturbing as the ones revealed this weekend:

Rudy to Bush: Ignore Congress? Rudy was asked about the Iraq supplemental. He said he finds it “irresponsible and dangerous.” Then he began to muse about, after a veto, “would the president have the constitutional authority to support them [the troops], anyway?” He said he’s a lawyer so he wouldn’t offer an opinion “off the top of his head,” then he proceeded to do just that.

He seemed to suggest that Bush could fund the Iraq war without Congress providing funding, but it was confusing. In an interview with a New Hampshire TV reporter after his remarks, he seemed more categorical and said, since the war had been authorized by Congress, the president has “the inherent authority to support the troops.” But he added, “You have to ask a constitutional lawyer.”

It really should go without saying that (as even Bush supporter Rich Lowry recognizes) these comments ought to be a major media story. One could even argue that, standing alone, they are office-disqualifying. Particularly in light of Giuliani’s belief in process-less arrest of American citizens, this really is a complete repudiation of how our government works, of the most basic and unquestioned constitutional principles of our republic. Literally.

The Giulliani candidacy might as well make its slogan “America, you’re under arrest“.

Ron Paul’s Big Religion Problem

Ron Paul doesn’t understand the problem with an official state religion, and by extension, a vital part of our constitution.

He supports public displays of religion:

“In case after case, the Supreme Court has used the infamous ‘Separation of Church and State’ metaphor to uphold court decisions that allow the federal government to intrude upon and deprive citizens of their religious liberty.”

Ron Paul further complained in that speech that the government ought not to be blocked from establishing official prayers in schools and at public events, and promoting the Old Testament as the source of American law in courthouses through the exclusive display of the Ten Commandments. In doing so, Ron Paul sided with radical right wing Christian zealots who seek theocracy, like Judge Roy Moore from Alabama.

Official school prayers and putting the 10 commandments on display at a courthouse are not about individual displays of religious liberty.  That is pure hogwash and he is too smart a man not to know it.  When your school institutes prayer as part of the school day, it endorses religion.  When a court shows the 10 commandments, it is loudly proclaiming a particular code of conduct as the basis for the justice administered within.  No, this debate is about following to the letter and the spirit this line from the constitution:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

This is a clear as day prohibition against officially recognizing religion.  No God Zone observes:

But how well does he know the Constitution? He wrote:

The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution or the writings of our Founding Fathers. On the contrary, our Founders’ political views were strongly informed by their religious beliefs. Certainly the drafters of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, both replete with references to God, would be aghast at the federal government’s hostility to religion.

Let us put aside for a second his opposition to “rigid separation between church and state” and concentrate, not on Constitutional theory, but on Constitutional facts. Mr. Paul claims that the Constitution is “replete with references to God”. Now replete means abundantly supplied or filled. So if the Constitution is abundantly filled with references to God how many are there? Let’s get precise. How many times is God mentioned in the Constitution?

Zero! And if you don’t believe me you can go check Ron Paul’s own congressional website where he has a copy of the text. Go to the page and read it yourself. It is worth reading now and then. But if you don’t have time do a page search for “God” and see all the abundant references on your own. All zero of them.

Let’s look again at this gem:

The notion of a rigid separation between church and state has no basis in either the text of the Constitution

How about the first amendment?

No God Zone wonders what is going on here:

But the fundamentalist Right is busy pushing a revisionist view of American history in order to fit with their theocratic agenda. And apparently Ron Paul is willing to help. But assuming he isn’t then why the lie? Ron Paul has read the Constitution, he brags about his in depth study of the Constitution. He has the Constitution on his website. So why claim that it is filled with references to God when there is not a single mention of God anywhere in the document? He knows better.

Yet let’s turn again to Ron’s own words, as he joins in the fabricated War on Religion crowd:

Through perverse court decisions and years of cultural indoctrination, the elitist, secular Left has managed to convince many in our nation that religion must be driven from public view. The justification is always that someone, somewhere, might possibly be offended or feel uncomfortable living in the midst of a largely Christian society, so all must yield to the fragile sensibilities of the few. The ultimate goal of the anti-religious elites is to transform America into a completely secular nation, a nation that is legally and culturally biased against Christianity.

Liberals are not trying to turn America into a secular nation.  It is one by design.  We are trying to keep religion from becoming the basis for the rule of law in this country.  This was never about “fragile sensibilities” and it is nakedly disingenuous to suggest that it is.  It is about adhering to the constitution and protecting the rights of individuals.  Both points Ron Paul goes to great lengths to identify with, and both points he clearly fails to apply when it comes to religion and the first amendment.

America is not a Christian nation.  It is a nation that provides protections to allow people of any faith and no faith to act freely.  The last thing this country needs is another president who would try and change that.

Because the First Surge Worked So Well

The Washington Post is reporting plans for another surge in Iraq:

Gen. Peter Pace, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that the Joint Chiefs may consider increasing the current level of U.S. forces in Iraq. You heard that right: Come September, we could be looking at Surge II.

Where are these troops going to come from?

The political cost to Republicans of Bush’s continued insanity is harsh.  From DemFromCT (DailyKos):

Republicans are feeling the heat. From the LA Times:

Republicans say they hope passion about the Iraq war will cool by the time 2008 ballots are cast. But they acknowledge that if the election were held tomorrow, the war would be a ball and chain around the GOP ankle.

This is inconsistent with the reality of the war:

What the press simply won’t write is that Iraq is not going to get better, and there’s zero chance Bush will change course without being forced to.

The Republicans have their head deep in the ground on this one.  Come 2008, barring successful heroic efforts by the Democrats to end the war, this ball and chain will be even heavier.  Meanwhile this war continues to be a bloody burden around the neck of America.  The Republicans are working overtime to keep the war alive and thwart any attempts to end it:

Why are Republicans in the Senate obstructing an up or down vote on ending the disastrous war in Iraq? They are threatening to filibuster a measure that a majority of the Senate supports that would set a date to begin bringing American troops home. The last time that conservatives thought it was crucial to use obstructionist tactics all night long to tie up legislation was 1964 when the fought tooth and nail against Civil Rights Act.

Republicans are playing Nero fiddling around with stalling tactics while Iraq burns and American troops die.

Thankfully the Democrats are fighting back:

Thank God that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is calling their bluff. He has said that he will have cots brought into the Senate chamber and keep senators in session all night long if needed to get a vote on troop withdrawal. This is the kind of gutsy move needed to show the public just how out of touch the Republicans have become and how they are working to defeat any effort to bring the war to an end.

Back to the second surge:

Here’s how it could happen: In September, Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker produce their “report” to Congress. President Bush then ponders the options. (And we know he isn’t going to throw in the towel.) And then the case is made — and there is a certain logic to it — that keeping forces at the same or higher levels would help the U.S. and Iraq reach their goals more quickly.

So one option then would be Surge II. These guys have guts.

That same twisted reasoning will never let us out of Iraq.  That’s not guts, it is fullblown DSM-IV psychosis: utterly detached from reality and unable to function in society.  Petraeus has said that force alone will not end the conflict.  Another surge will do nothing other than prolong the war and put more people’s lives in danger.

Bush and his Republican cronies will not give this up without a fight.  It is all the more urgent that we bring that fight to them and do not let up.  We need to end this war and bring our troops home.