July 21, 2019

The GOP Can’t Complain When Ron Paul Supporters Cry Foul

It’s still early in the Republican primary season. Only 9 of the 41 primaries/caucuses have occurred. The nomination is a long way from being decided. Any one of the four remaining candidates can not only still win it, but can still win it by a landslide. Large victories on Super Tuesday and in the California, New York, and Texas contests can all but nullify any value of victories obtained so far. So why do the candidates fight so hard to win in small states like Maine and Nevada?

The answer is momentum. Right or wrong, most voters are in some way affected by their perception of whether each candidate has the ability to win, rather than strictly by their political positions. Republican primary voters consider two questions. Can he win the nomination? Can he win the general election?

Thus, victories in these early and – from a quantitative perspective – meaningless primary contests are valuable to candidates purely for the effect they may have on the minds of voters in bigger states.

Ron Paul has chosen to focus his campaign on the caucus states, where he can acquire delegates even if he does not finish first in the contest. That strategy seems to have been successful so far, as Paul has locked up delegates in excess of his percentage of the straw poll votes. However, he and his supporters also know that he needs a win in at least one state to avoid going into the big contests with the disadvantage of not having one.

Paul’s best shots to win so far have been the caucuses in Iowa, Nevada, and Maine. Since long before the voting started, Paul’s supporters have had their eyes on these states due to the receptiveness there to Paul’s ideas and the conduciveness of their caucus processes to Paul’s strong political ground game. Paul finished in striking distance of first in Iowa and lost by less than 200 votes in Maine. He finished far behind Romney in Nevada, but was in contention for a very respectable 2nd place finish. He ended up finishing a close third to Newt Gingrich.

Coincidentally, those three caucuses where Paul had the best chance to win are the only three states where some sort of controversy or irregularity has arisen in the election process. The latest of these was in Maine, where the Washington County caucus was postponed due to a relatively benign (for Maine) weather forecast of 1-3 inches of snow. The Ron Paul campaign’s official statement pointed out that the Girl Scouts went ahead with one of their events in the very same county.

Washington County is one of Paul’s strongest in the state. It will hold its contest on Saturday February 18 and a lopsided victory there and in other towns that have not yet voted could conceivably allow Paul to win the state. However, Paul will have been denied the real value of his victory – the post-election, nationally-televised victory speech where all of those future primary voters see him firing up a raucous crowd of supporters.

In addition, Maine GOP Executive Director Michael Quatrano says that the Romney win on Saturday won’t be reversed even if Paul does end up finishing with more votes based upon the remaining counties. This is in stark contrast to Iowa, where Rick Santorum was announced as the winner several weeks after a Republican Party victory. Why the different treatment? It’s a legitimate question to ask.

It is not reasonable to assume that this all adds up to some sort of dark conspiracy against Ron Paul. There are many possible explanations, the simplest one being ineptitude. At the same time, it is naïve to deny that Paul’s campaign is opposed by the party establishment or to believe that this process is ever squeaky clean in any election year, regardless of who’s running. As government privileges give the two major parties a virtual monopoly on the political process, all primary elections should be watched closely for signs of corruption or fraud.

One shouldn’t rush to judgment on a charge that serious in a presidential election without compelling proof. That proof hasn’t been presented by anyone so far. However, when irregularities continue to occur and only in states where Paul has a good chance to win, an odor starts to arise that doesn’t smell like coincidence anymore. If this trend continues, then the GOP leadership shouldn’t complain if Ron Paul supporters start crying foul.

There are three contests left before Super Tuesday: Arizona, Michigan, and Washington. The Washington caucuses are Ron Paul’s best chance for a victory. Fairly or not, the pressure is on the Washington GOP to ensure that no appearance of impropriety occurs during this contest, especially if Ron Paul is in contention for the win. There is one way that they can avoid contributing to an unnecessary controversy. Run a clean and transparent election. Follow your own rules and don’t make any suspicious changes to procedure. Given the GOP’s performance so far this election cycle, one more coincidence will turn that funny odor into a downright stench.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Ron Paul Is Dangerous? Americans Must Start Thinking for Themselves

American politics in the 21st century is about soundbytes, image, and spin. That’s the only way for candidates to try to reach 300 million people in the time that they will likely be in front of them on any given day. For some candidates, the soundbyte is the length and breadth of their views on the issue. For others, that is not necessarily true. In any case, the issues that they speak to are issues of substance and there is no way to form an opinion about them unless you think them through.  That might seem like stating the obvious, but here’s the rub: almost no one is thinking about issues that could profoundly affect all of us for the rest of our lives.

What most Americans are doing is repeating the soundbytes and buzz words that they hear from talking heads as if they were indisputable fact. Maybe some of them are. Maybe some are not. What is crucial is that every individual think about them critically. That means challenging the veracity of those statements and determining for yourself if they stand up to the most vigorous intellectual attack that you can mount against them.

Ron Paul’s opponents use soundbytes to discredit him and Ron Paul does likewise. He has accused Newt Gingrich of “serial hypocrisy” and accused all of his opponents collectively of being “shitzus” on cutting spending. No one should accept those allegations as true without looking into the evidence for and against them and determining for himself whether or not they are true. Part of that process must be the intellectual exercise of taking the position that they are not true and saying to Ron Paul, “Prove it. Newt Gingrich is not a hypocrite just because you said he was in a 30-second TV ad. Where is your proof? I’ll consider it and get back to you.”

I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance of mine as we prepared for a class that we take together. He asked me who I was supporting for the Republican nomination and I said that I was supporting Ron Paul. He immediately smiled and said that Ron Paul was too “crazy” for him. Not one to go on the attack just because someone disagrees with me, I calmly replied, “I hear that a lot. Which of his policies do you think are too crazy?”

I was not surprised by the blank stare that I received in response. That was followed by some stammering and searching for an answer. He finally said that it was Ron Paul’s stance on regulations. I asked, “Which regulatory issues do you disagree with him on?” More of the same stammering and searching and finally the answer was “Well, I haven’t caught up on the issues this time around yet, but I remember hearing him talk about a regulation a while back. I can’t remember which one.”

Out of the tens of thousands of pages of federal regulation, he had heard Ron Paul’s views on one of them and had concluded that he was crazy. Not misinformed. Not wrong. Not even very, very wrong. Crazy. Does that sound like a reasonable conclusion to you?

Let’s be honest. This gentleman just made up the whole “stance on regulations” answer to cover for the fact that he had no answer. He had no idea why he thought Ron Paul was crazy. He had heard it on television in a five second soundbyte, had accepted it as true without even four seconds of critical thought, and was now repeating it to other people who for the most part will do likewise.

However, the “Ron Paul is crazy” narrative is losing its effectiveness. It is getting harder and harder for his opponents to make that charge stick. After predicting the stock market crash of 1987 four years in advance and predicting the housing market collapse five years in advance, Ron Paul has emerged as the only candidate who is not crazy by Albert Einstein’s definition (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result).

So Paul’s opponents need a new buzz word. I’m sure you’ve heard it. Ron Paul is now “dangerous.” Not wrong. Not very, very wrong. Not even “crazy” anymore. Now he’s dangerous. That’s an extraordinary claim. I can’t say that I remember it ever being used against another politician. I don’t remember any politician being called “dangerous” during the Cold War, when the Russians had 40,000 nuclear weapons pointed at every major American city. But that is the word that Paul’s opponents use to describe him now. One should immediately wonder why.

Of course you have heard this word repeated by every journalist and talking head as if it were true just because some enterprising young campaign staffer put it out as a talking point. That is fine. That is how the game is played. What is important is that you don’t immediately believe it just because you heard it on television, even if you heard it from a lot of people. Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. You have to at least challenge the claim before you decide.

The new “dangerous” tag is based upon the argument that Ron Paul will not preemptively bomb or invade Iran to try to stop them from developing a nuclear weapon. His political opponents (including the other Republicans and Barack Obama) uniformly state that “We cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”  The establishment candidates also assert that Iran will have a nuclear weapon as early as a year from now. That means that whatever the U.S. government is going to do about it must happen now.

Q. What exactly is the danger of electing this man? A. He will “allow” Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.

Q. What can the United States do to stop another nation from developing a nuclear weapon? A. Bomb or invade them immediately and destroy their capacity to build it.

Q. What if Ron Paul was president and Iran did develop a nuclear weapon? What would happen next?

Here is where most people completely shut down and stop thinking. The standard answer is that Iran will “wipe Israel off the map” or, even more irrationally, that they will “take out an American city.” Now, I know why Ron Paul’s political opponents say those things and we’ll get to that in a minute. What I’m concerned with is this: How could any rational, average American believe them?

Let’s say that Iran does indeed develop a nuclear weapon by January 2013. They would still be decades away from an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States. However, they may be able to use it against Israel. What happens next?

Nuclear weapons are a terrible thing. I think that most people wish that they didn’t exist. I know I do. But let’s acknowledge reality. Iran could not “wipe Israel off the map” (something Ahmadinejad NEVER EVEN SAID, by the way) with one nuclear weapon. They could kill a lot of people. On the other hand, Israel has 200-300 nuclear weapons. They could wipe Iran off the map and would do so the minute that Iran launched their missile. Every square inch of Iran would be incinerated before Iran’s nuclear missile ever reached Israel, if it got there at all. That is a fact that no reasonable person could dispute. That’s without even broaching the subject of what would happen to Iran if they showed any sign of aggression toward the United States. Think about it. To say that Iran is a danger to Israel or the United States is crazy.

That raises another question. If it indeed is crazy that Iran could ever threaten either the United States or Israel, why would so many politicians and talking heads be saying it? Could it possibly be that these politicians have something to gain if the United States goes to war with Iran?

Is it possible that politicians, supported by military contractors and financial institutions that together make trillions of dollars on these wars at your expense are saying this because they want to keep making more money? Or is it more likely that even though these people will “just happen” to profit immensely from a war with Iran, that they are both sincere and correct that Iran with one nuclear bomb is a threat to Israel and the United States, that between them have tens of thousands?

Ron Paul has argued that the war rhetoric today about Iran is identical to the war rhetoric about Iraq in 2002-2003. Is he right? Aren’t the same people who told us that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” telling us the same thing now about Iran? Aren’t all of the same elements of the argument about Iraq present in the arguments for war with Iran? They are evil. They want to destroy Israel. They are developing weapons of mass destruction. There is even the same time limit. “They may have one as early as a year from now.” That’s just what they told us about Saddam Hussein. There is no time to think it over. Within a year there will be a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv, possibly New York City. Haven’t we heard all of this before? Isn’t it insane to accept the same claims from the same people without question?

Conversely, isn’t Ron Paul telling us the same thing that he told us about Iraq? Exactly why should we believe the people that lied to us or at least were dead wrong about Iraq and dismiss the one man that told us the truth and was dead right about Iraq? How long will we go on doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? Isn’t that crazy?

Dangerous. That’s what you are going to keep hearing about Ron Paul. There is no reasonable argument to be made that Ron Paul’s foreign policy is dangerous. This is an act of desperation by people that are deathly afraid that Ron Paul is going to put them out of business (not just the war-making business, but a trillion dollars of other government waste that he’ll end in his first year as well).

They aren’t appealing to your reason. They are appealing to your emotions. They are trying to strike an irrational fear in you that will cause you to reject Ron Paul, support one of their candidates, and support another unnecessary war that they will profit from at your expense. Again. Just like Iraq. However, there is one thing that you can do to avoid being fooled again.

Think about it.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Is the Patriot Act Unpatriotic?

Republican presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul had an interesting exchange at the National Security Debate hosted by CNN on November 22nd. Not surprisingly, Gingrich supported the Patriot Act, going so far as to say that it should be “strengthened.” Paul argued that “the Patriot Act is unpatriotic,” because the legislation undermines American liberties. He thinks it should be abolished. Both men did well making their points and each got enthusiastic applause from their supporters. But who was right?

At first glance, it might have seemed as if Paul had stumbled into a “gotcha” by bringing up Timothy McVeigh. In supporting his assertion that one must never give up liberty for security, Paul argued that Timothy McVeigh, the terrorist who blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, was prosecuted, convicted, and executed under the existing laws, without the “tools” that the Patriot Act provides to law enforcers. Gingrich replied:

“Timothy McVeigh succeeded. That’s the whole point. Timothy McVeigh killed a lot of Americans. I don’t want a law that says after we lose a major American city, we’re sure going to come and find you. I want a law that says, you try to take out an American city, we’re going to stop you.”

Paul responded:

“This is like saying we want a policeman in every house, a camera in every house, because we want to prevent child beating and wife beating. You can prevent crimes by becoming a police state. So, if you advocate the police state, yes, you can have safety and security and you might prevent a crime, but the crime then will be against the American people and against our freedoms and we will throw out so much of what our revolution was fought for. So don’t do it so carelessly.”

It is likely that uncommitted observers – those not passionately for Paul or Gingrich – thought that both men made good points and that the right answer is “somewhere in the middle.” To be moderate is always viewed as being more reasonable. But is that really true? I believe that the question debated here between Paul and Gingrich is a fundamental question and compromise is impossible. To use a well-worn but appropriate cliche, Gingrich wants America to cross the Rubicon. Once we do, there is no going back.

The crux of the matter is preemptive government. Not just preemptive war, but the ability of the government to act preemptively in any situation. Paul takes the libertarian position that is based upon the non-aggression principle. Government force may never be employed against anyone until that person has invaded the person or property of another. Gingrich takes the more Hobbesian-conservative position: if the government is not all-powerful, we will all be killed.

If “patriotic” means the love of one’s country’s ideals, the highest being liberty for Americans, then you have to agree with Paul. That’s because not only is non-aggression the libertarian position, it’s the founding principle underlying the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. The meaning of the word “liberty” is to be free from coercion, which is free from other people initiating force against you. Once the government or anyone else is legally empowered to do so, rather than limited to responding with force in defense against an aggression that you’ve already committed, then liberty as Thomas Jefferson understood it is gone.

Non-aggression is the concept expressed in the statement that “no person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” In other words, the government can’t use force against you until it is not only asserted but proven that you have committed an aggression against the person or property of someone else.

If you’re reading this to mean that the government is powerless against individuals until after they’ve committed a crime, then you’re correct. That is the price of liberty and there really is no way to compromise it. Force must always be initiated by someone. To be free means that it is never initiated against the innocent, at least not with the endorsement of the law. A person is innocent until they actually commit a crime. You cannot prosecute someone for what might be in his mind – at least not in a free country. As Paul argued, once you throw out the principle of liberty, you have invited the police state, complete with ubiquitous surveillance, unwarranted searches, curfews, and the rest. It is astounding how much of it is already in place in a nation that calls itself “the land of the free.”

The obvious concern with this line of reasoning is that it would seem that to be free, one must set oneself up as a sitting duck for criminals and terrorists, powerless to resist them until it is too late. Ed Meese cited the “42 terrorists attacks, amied at the United States…thwarted since 9/11,” and went on to say, “Tools like the Patriot Act have been instrumental in finding and stopping terrorists.”

I don’t know how Meese arrived at that number, but it doesn’t jibe with reality. I suspect that it includes all of the entrapment schemes that have been perpetrated by federal law enforcement officers, whereby an undercover agent poses as a terrorist and approaches a mentally unstable person for the purpose of convincing him to participate in a phoney terrorist plot. Once the hapless “terrorist” agrees, the undercover agent arrests him and charges him with a crime.

All of the attempted terrorist attacks that the American public know about since 9/11 have defeated the Patriot Act and other security “tools” insituted since that crime was committed. The shoe bomber and the underwear bomber were both overpowered by private citizens acting in their own defense, after the would be terrorists had defeated the security measures within the Patriot Act and the TSA. Even on 9/11, with the federal government already in charge of security, albeit without the “tools” of the Patriot Act, the only crime that was prevented was the one that would have been perpetrated using Flight 93. Again, it was private citizens acting in their own defense and defense of their neighbors that thwarted the attack. While they were unsuccessful in defending their own lives, they prevented the loss of many, many more.

This illustrates another fundamental element of liberty – the right of each person to be allowed to provide for their own defense. The right and duty of each individual to defend themselves to the best of their ability replaces absolute power in the hands of the government. Consistent with this idea, Paul has been a staunch advocate of the 2nd amendment, while Gingrich, although he supports the right to bear arms in rhetoric, also voted for the Lautenburg Gun Ban and the Criminal Safezones Act, sponsored by Nancy Pelosi.

Gingrich tries to qualify his position on the Patriot Act by drawing a conceptual line between criminal law enforcement and national security. He says that “criminal law – the government should be on defense and you should be innocent until proven guilty. National security – the government should have many more tools in order to save our lives.”

In other words, if the government decides that “national security” is threatened, you are  no longer innocent until proven guilty. He also says that Americans must “build an honest understanding that all of us will be in danger for the rest of our lives.”

Do the math.

This exchange between Paul and Gingrich represents a fundamental choice that the American people have to make. They can take personal responsibility for their security and take power back from the federal government or they can hand unchecked power to the federal government along with their liberty. There is no “centrist” or “moderate” position, because once the principle is conceded, liberty is gone.

As Benjamin Franklin warned, the choice between liberty and security is a false one. No, there were not nuclear weapons in 1755, but to think that the existence of nuclear weapons changes the principle is counterintuitive. Franklin spoke those words in 1755 because the same choice existed then as now. Those who sacrifice liberty in the hopes of greater security deserve neither and will get neither. The most immediate threat to one’s security is always the closest one – the government itself.

In deciding who was right in this debate, Americans are really deciding whether liberty is something they cherish or whether Franklin, Jefferson, Adams and the rest were wrong. If they were wrong or if we’ve decided that there is something fundamentally different today that trumps those timeless principles, let’s at least dispense with the notion that we live in the “land of the free.” At the next sporting event, let the singer end with “o’er the land of the secure, and the home of the safe.” It may not be pleasing to the ear, but neither is Gingrich’s plan for a “secure” America.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

© Thomas Mullen 2011