Tuesday, January 03, 2012

What is it that Ron Paul fans fail to grasp?

Andrew Sullivan (not a blogger I have the greatest respect for, but that I do find entertaining), seems unable to understand that Ron Paul's conspiratorial policies are exactly what makes him appealing as a candidate. Kevin Drum, writing for Mother Jones, notes the following about Ron Paul:
"Bottom line: Ron Paul is not merely a "flawed messenger" for these views. He's an absolutely toxic, far-right, crackpot messenger for these views. This is, granted, not Mussolini-made-the-trains-run-on-time levels of toxic, but still: if you truly support civil liberties at home and non-interventionism abroad, you should run, not walk, as fast as you can to keep your distance from Ron Paul. He's not the first or only person opposed to pre-emptive wars, after all, and his occasional denouncements of interventionism are hardly making this a hot topic of conversation among the masses. In fact, to the extent that his foreign policy views aren't simply being ignored, I'd guess that the only thing he's accomplishing is to make non-interventionism even more of a fringe view in American politics than it already is. Crackpots don't make good messengers."
To which Andrew responds:
"And yet many, many voters who watch and listen to the man do not see a crackpot. They see the only person in public life prepared to tell the truth: that America cannot afford its current military-industrial complex and entitlement state; and that America's lurch after 9/11 toward authoritarianism and empire has been disastrous for our interests and liberties."
Selectivity at its most obtuse. Andrew claims that he only likes Ron Paul for his "good positions" (something I am not entirely sold on, seeing how Andrew spilt plenty of digital ink on the Sarah Palin/ Trig conspiracy, and justifying the Bell Curve). I have no doubt that some of Paul's supporters like him for his "legitimate," and understandable critiques of the Federal Government and interventionism. What Andrew seems unable to grasp is that some Americans believe terrible, crazy things. Significant percentages of the US public believes the American government was involved or had prior knowledge of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Only 4 in 10 Americans believe in evolution. Shit, one in five Americans believe the sun revolves around earth! Why Andrew thinks that this same group of people would not also support a crazy, racist, conspiratorial crank is beyond me. Andrew has it backwards; it is Paul's craziest ideas that provides his most forceful draw. If people were simply drawn to him for traditional libertarian ideals and limited intervention abroad, they could have supported Gary Johnson.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Guest Post: Who Keeps Shitting The Bed?

 Horace Brickley is an author that has fashioned an extensive body of work in a rather short period of time at his blog, Horace Brickley's Assault on Virtue. He is currently a teacher, working in Taiwan. This is his take on the 2012 U.S. election.

Like most Americans, politics is a dirty word around me. The choices given for elected officials is less like choosing between “cake or death” and more like choosing between Chinese water torture and water boarding – one is clearly worse than the other, but both are just awful. The upcoming presidential election is going to be one of those moments. We Americans, if we even bother voting in this catastrophe, are going to be given three options: a disappointing incumbent that spends money that doesn't exist anywhere, whatever caricature of a politician that survives the Republican primary, and opting out (or throwing away a vote on a third party candidate). None of those options sound reasonable, but that is the downside of a Republic. Our involvement in government is merely choosing the person whom we believe will fuck up the least, and complaining through any reasonable or unreasonable medium that we can find to express our discontent.
The two reasons I departed from America, for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time, are the steep drop in opportunities for educated adults, and my fears of what is to come for the citizens of a declining America. No candidate in Republican primary has addressed either of those issues with anything resembling critical thinking. The tax-cut religion of the Republicans is not going to produce the miraculous effects that the old-guard Republicans hope for, and the front-running candidates are some of the least qualified human beings to run a Subway, much less a nation hemorrhaging from debt.

Here's a breakdown of the candidates:

Rick Perry: He's the Tim Tebow of politics. He makes just as many mistakes as Tebow, and Jesus seems to be the major running theme of his political ideology. “If we just add more Jesus, then everything will work out.” He's done, however, so onto the next of the people that won't be president next year.

Michele Bachmann: She's like Christine O'Donnel's marginally-less-crazy aunt. If Sarah Palin could spell twice as well, then she'd be Bachmann. The only person involved in the primary that is crazier than Bachmann is Bachmann's husband. She's not only not presidential, but she's like personified dark matter - nothing good can come from her.

Hermain Cain: He's no longer in the race because he got grabby, or because he wasn't man enough to stand up to the heat. Either way, his policies had a degree of ignorance that can only come from someone too proud to read a history book or “The Idiot's Guide to Economics.” The 9-9-9 plan, or the revised 9-0-9, was an even less realistic plan than Steve Forbe's flat tax idea back when Forbe's proved why running a corporation does not qualify someone to be president.

Ron Paul: Let me put this out here, Ron Paul isn't crazy. He's not, at all. The problem with Ron Paul is that he does not care about the consequences for his policies. “Fend for yourself” is what he preaches, which is easy to say when you aren't dependent on an entitlement system. No one knows exactly what would happen if Ron Paul became president, and no one ever will because he's absolutely unelectable. Road Warrior comes to mind when I think about a Ron Paul presidency, but in actuality he would just be a loud, lame duck president that oversaw a political structure that ignored his pleas for drastic reforms. He'd be as useless as a president as Vincente Fox.

Jon Huntsman: The only remotely qualified person of the lot, but he doesn't have the bravado or the clout to win anything more than Employee of the Month at the State Department. Huntsman can't even raise enough money to run one national ad, much less mount an entire campaign. His whole effort looks more like a clever ploy to write off “Running for President” on his 2011 taxes than an actual attempt to win a nomination.

Mitt Romney: Romney reminds me of an affable class president at a local high school. He really doesn't give a damn what comes out of his mouth, or what he said last week, what Romney wants is the office. He probably hasn't thought that much about what he's going to do as president, or whether or not anything that he does will have a positive effect. Romney just wants to sit in that chair and hear himself called “Mr. President.” He's a flip flopper of the strongest degree, and it reeks on him, as if he's pleading with the Republican base, “Just tell me what you want me to stand for guys!” He claims he understands the economy, but he wanted to see Reaganomics applied during the recession. Eesh.

Newt Gingrich: Gingrich is like the smart guy you always debate on issues with and you never win the exchange, but you know full well that you were right and he was wrong. His obvious intelligence aside, his stances on the issues are dumb.
He wants to:
- remove regulations on financial industries
- make a Federal ban on abortion
- remove funding from Planned Parenthood and stem cell research
- reduce the size of government and eliminate entitlement funding (not a bad thing, but how will he implement it)
- make unemployment benefits four weeks (because he's a consummate realist)
- wants to eliminate capital gains taxes and reduce the corporate tax rate to 12.5% (so the government can bring in even less money) 
- use a Reaganomics-style plan, like Romney.
In other words, he's wrong on the economy, and if you are a social liberal like me, then you know Uncle Newt wants to get all up in your personal business. He's got all the classic Republican stances without any of the charisma. Gingrich wants to reduce the size of government, but he wants to maintain a strong international presence and doesn't seem to want to reduce the size of the military. Those two stances conflict on a major level. The size of government and the cost of government cannot be seriously reduced without reducing the size and role of the military abroad. There is some sort of logic break inside Gingrich's head, and it doesn't look like it will mend before the election.

Those are the current candidates, but I feel like I should mention Chris Christie. Christie is actually Tony Soprano, and, sadly, that makes him the most qualified person to hold office. Unfortunately, America hasn't had a genuinely fat president since Taft, so that's a no go for the American people. We are too vain to elect such an out-of-shape president when he's standing next to the svelte and presidential Obama.

So, what is the purpose of all this? Why did I even bother heckling the Republican candidates? I don't hold allegiance to Obama because he's been a failure at virtually everything he's done. He squandered the super majority he had on an ill-conceived, and unaffordable, attempt at universal healthcare, and the only thing he's been consistently good at is war, which he ran against. Last year I voted early for 2012 president: I voted with my feet and left America for Taiwan. America's my first country, and just like my first girlfriend I'll always have fond memories of our time together, but for now we aren't hanging out because she went nuts.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

How to Start a Revolution

I watched a new documentary on Gene Sharp tonight on Current TV, and the power his words have had in inspiring democratic, revolutionary discontent. The trailer for the film can be seen below, and should be sought out by anyone who reads this blog.

In Sharp's influential work, he writes the following words, which should ring true to all revolutionaries in the Muslim world.  
"The oft quoted phrase “Freedom is not free” is true. No outside force is coming to give oppressed people the freedom they so much want. People will have to learn how to take that freedom themselves. Easy it cannot be. 

If people can grasp what is required for their own liberation, they can chart courses of action which, through much travail, can eventually bring them their freedom. Then, with diligence they can construct a new democratic order and prepare for its defense. Freedom won by struggle of this type can be durable. It can be maintained by a tenacious people committed to its preservation and enrichment." 
They will however have the support of democrats elsewhere, in whatever form we can provide. They are not alone in their struggle for liberty and justice.

Live Blogging the Iowa Caucus

I will be posting live updates during the Iowa Caucus on Tuesday via twitter from 5pm to 9pm Pacific Standard time. You can follow me at @RolandDodds. See you there.