Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Saying Good-Bye

This will be my last post on Beating the Powers that Be. A new blog Conservative Times is coming out that I will be a part of that will eventually evolve into a new journal of traditional conservative thought with some friends of mine that I met at the John Randolph Club Meeting.

My life right now is about joining with others to work together whether its at work or at home. The blog was abut selling a book and I'm simply not famous enough nor work for a larger publication to do my own blogging to have the kind of impact I wish to have. By joining with other bloggers, I can do so and use my time more effectively.

This article I found on My DD confims my thoughts on the subject:

As a blogger, one of my specialties has become the regular production of "meta" posts on the blogosphere (browse MyDD's meta and blogosphere archives here). For a long time, this specialty included regular attempts to estimate the size of the cumulative, daily audience of the political blogosphere. Since late 2005, I have seen a mounting array of evidence to suggest that political blogosphere traffic has reached a plateau, and that the nature of the political blogosphere is shifting away from a top-down content generation model toward a bottom-up audience generated model. While it is possible that the traffic evidence could be countermanded by a rising tide of traffic in during the long, slow build up toward the 2008 Presidential election, the sheer amount of evidence is becoming hard to ignore. A new era in the world of online politics is dawning.

Take a look at some of the evidence. For example, since early September of 2005, when it first reached three million daily page views on weekdays during the height of the Katrina debacle, The Liberal Blog Advertising Network has only increased in traffic by adding new members or by temporary, election related traffic frenzies. Otherwise, the combined traffic of its members has remained flat. Also, the largest progressive "blog" in the world, The Huffington Post (which is not in the LBAN), has also experienced stagnant traffic for some time now. Late 2005 was also the last time any new progressive political blogs with exceptionally large audiences were founded, as Glenn Greenwald and Fire Dog Lake entered the scene around then. Even apart from looking at individual blogs or even at the progressive, political blogosphere as a separate entity, both Gallup and Pew released data last year that strongly suggested the daily audience of all blogs had become flat after a long period of uninterrupted growth. . Further, the expected surge around the Connecticut Senate primary and November elections not withstanding, blogs and the right and the left experienced traffic problems during much of 2006.

While this is not conclusive evidence of the political blogosphere reaching an audience plateau over the past year, it does strongly suggest a plateau has occurred. Current estimates of a daily audience of 4-5 million for progressive political blogs, and an occasional audience of up to 13-14 million for all political blogs, are now appearing in multiple sources. While this gives the progressive blogosphere a substantial, at least 2-1 edge in both daily and occasional traffic on the conservative blogosphere, since our traffic is now stagnant I am not ready to toot our horn when pointing that out. Just as I once proclaimed that the aristocratic right-wing blogosphere was stagnating, it now seems that the community oriented left-wing blogosphere is stagnating as well.

Despite these numbers, I believe it would be a mistake to argue that "the death of political blogging" is imminent (I put that phrase in scare quotes because I can't even begin to count the number of times I have been asked about what will result in the death of political blogging). Instead, I believe this means is that the world of online political content generation is moving away from the top-down model of an individual, independent blogger producing the majority of new content for a given website--a model which was dominant through most of 2002-2005. Now, the paradigm is shifting toward a more networked, community-oriented model where a much higher percentage of the audience participates in the generation of new content. Blogging, including political blogging, is still quite healthy, as long as it encourages user-generated content and relies on a group of main writers rather than a single individual. However, the days when an individual blogger can start a new, solo website and make a big national splash are probably over. The blogosphere and the netroots are transforming, not dying off.

Take, for example, Dailykos. According to resident statistician jotter, while overall site traffic on Dailykos slightly declined in 2006 compared to 2005, user participation in the generation of new content on the site actually increased by 20%. This shifted the overall reader to content generator ratio within the Dailykos audience from about 25-1 in 2005, to just 15-1 in 2006. That is a substantial shift for only one year, and demonstrative of larger trends. Looking at the websites ranked in the top fifteen in terms of page views the Liberal Blog Advertising Network, only two and a half, Political Animal, Eschaton and the Talking Points Memo side of the TPM netowrk, are still primarily single-blogger operations (those also happen to be some of the oldest political blogs around). Further, while political blogosphere traffic has remained generally flat over seventeen months now (apart from election-related spikes), social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook have continued to expand at the same exponential rates that the political blogosphere once expanded (although MySpace is starting to flatten out as well). It is entirely possible, if not likely, that the growth social networking sites continue to experience while even community oriented progressive blogs remain flat was mirrored in 2003-2005 when group and community-oriented progressive blogs rocketed past top-down, individual-based, no comments allowed, right-wing blogs in terms of traffic. Even though it is benefiting a small number of large websites, the ability websites such as YouTube or Facebook give their audience to produce their own content has allowed those websites to perpetuate their viral stage of growth and development much longer than websites which offer fewer avenues for community-generated content and networking.

In addition to the end of the era of the highly successful solo-blogger, I forecast that this development toward user-generated content will carry two other important ramifications for the political blogosphere. First, the already extreme gap between the political engagement of netroots activists and rank-and-file voters will grow even wider. With more people not just consuming political information online, but helping to generate it, netroots activists will continue to consolidate as a sort of "elite influential" subset within the American political system. Second, in order to remain successful, more than more political blogs will transform into full-blown professional operations that can be considered institutions unto themselves. In addition to community development, they will more frequently produce difficult, original work (beat reporting, investigative journalism, professional lobbying, national activist campaigns, original video, commissioned polls, mass email lists, etc.) that until now have been mainly the province of long-established news and political organizations. Competition from other high-end blogs will continue to raise the bar in this area, as the days of thriving on punditry alone are further confined to diaries and comments off the front-page.

Phew. This is not going to be easy, and it may all collapse if blogger can't find better revenue streams. After all, you can't run a professional organization and upgrade your user generated content options without money to pay programmers and full-time employees. Many wags compared the collapse of Howard Dean's Presidential campaign in 2004 to the dot.com bust of 2000, but the real bust could happen in a more traditional economic sense two or three down the road. I know hat I won't stop trying to find ways to keep the progressive political blogosphere moving forward, but I can't deny the difficulties that lay ahead."

Thanks to all those who come here and read my articles and have posted here as well. Please join me at my new site, www.conservativetimes.org to my articles, posts and other musing along with those many other talented writers and people with something interesting to say.

Good Bye and Farwell!

Political Power and the Rule of Law by Rep. Ron Paul

Political Power and the Rule of Law
by Ron Paul

With the elections over and the 110th Congress settling in, the media have been reporting ad nauseam about who has assumed new political power in Washington. We're subjected to breathless reports about emerging power brokers in Congress; how so-and-so is now the powerful chair of an important committee; how certain candidates are amassing power for the 2008 elections, and so on. Nobody questions this use of the word "power," or considers its connotations. It's simply assumed, in Washington and the mainstream media, that political power is proper and inevitable.

The problem is that politicians are not supposed to have power over us – we're supposed to be free. We seem to have forgotten that freedom means the absence of government coercion. So when politicians and the media celebrate political power, they really are celebrating the power of certain individuals to use coercive state force.

Remember that one's relationship with the state is never voluntary. Every government edict, policy, regulation, court decision, and law ultimately is backed up by force, in the form of police, guns, and jails. That is why political power must be fiercely constrained by the American people.

The desire for power over other human beings is not something to celebrate, but something to condemn! The 20th century's worst tyrants were political figures, men who fanatically sought power over others through the apparatus of the state. They wielded that power absolutely, without regard for the rule of law.

Our constitutional system, by contrast, was designed to restrain political power and place limits on the size and scope of government. It is this system, the rule of law, which we should celebrate – not political victories.

Political power is not like the power possessed by those who otherwise obtain fame and fortune. After all, even the wealthiest individual cannot force anyone to buy a particular good or service; even the most famous celebrities cannot force anyone to pay attention to them. It is only when elites become politically connected that they begin to impose their views on all of us.

In a free society, government is restrained – and therefore political power is less important. I believe the proper role for government in America is to provide national defense, a court system for civil disputes, a criminal justice system for acts of force and fraud, and little else. In other words, the state as referee rather than an active participant in our society.

Those who hold political power, however, would lose their status in a society with truly limited government. It simply would not matter much who occupied various political posts, since their ability to tax, spend, and regulate would be severely curtailed. This is why champions of political power promote an activist government that involves itself in every area of our lives from cradle to grave. They gain popular support by promising voters that government will take care of everyone, while the media shower them with praise for their bold vision.

Political power is inherently dangerous in a free society: it threatens the rule of law, and thus threatens our fundamental freedoms. Those who understand this should object whenever political power is glorified.

February 6, 2007

Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.

Presidential front runners will surrender America's sovereignty

This post comes from Rev. Chuck Baldwin, VP candidate of the Constitution Party in 2004. Basically we have a field of turkeys running for President.

---Sean Scallon

Looking at the potential presidential frontrunners for both the Democrat and
Republican parties reveals that virtually everyone of them would surrender
America's borders. Not one of the presidential frontrunners from either
party would protect our borders against illegal immigration. Just the
opposite. They would continue George Bush's policy of wide open borders,
including his determination to grant amnesty to illegals. In other words,
when it comes to protecting our borders, there is not a nickel's worth of
difference between the two major parties' leading presidential contenders.

Democratic presidential frontrunners include John Edwards, Barak Obama, and
Hillary Clinton. Republican frontrunners include John McCain, Mitt Romney,
and Rudy Giuliani.

In fact, virtually every Democratic candidate, and even the vast majority of
Republican candidates, would provide no relief to America's border problems.
And, yes, that includes Sam Brownback and Newt Gingrich. Notable exceptions
include Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, and Tom Tancredo, with Tancredo at the head
of the class.

Obviously, should Hunter, Paul, or Tancredo miraculously win the White
House, the push for a North American Union (NAU) complete with a NAFTA
superhighway and a trilateral, hemispheric government, would be stopped dead
in its tracks. For this reason, the GOP machine (and the insiders who
control it) will never allow someone such as Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul, or Tom
Tancredo to obtain the nomination.

It's time the American people faced a hard, cold reality: no matter who the
two major parties nominate in November 2008, the push for open borders,
amnesty for illegal aliens, and the NAU will continue unabated. In other
words, anyone one believes that unimpeded illegal immigration (and related
issues) just might be the biggest threat to our national sovereignty and
security (and count me as one who does) will not be able to vote for either
the Republican or Democratic nominee in 2008. It's time to start preparing
for that reality now.

Does that mean that Republicans should not do everything they can to help
Tancredo, Paul, or Hunter gain the nomination? Of course not. If the vast
majority of the GOP rank and file would get solidly behind these three men,
one of them might have a chance of succeeding. However, the track record of
the GOP faithful is not very reassuring.

Instead of supporting principled, uncompromising men of integrity, such as
the three men named above, Republican voters will doubtless buy into the
party mantra of pragmatism and help nominate another spineless globalist
such as currently occupies the White House, which will leave us exactly
where we are now.

So, here is the sixty-four million dollar question: What will principled
conservative voters do in 2008? My hope and prayer is that after failing to
receive their party's nomination, Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo, and Duncan Hunter
(or at least one of them) will leave the party and bring their (his)
followers to the Constitution Party (CP). In all likelihood, the CP will
have ballot access in over 45 states. It is already the third largest
political party in the country and is currently the fastest growing
political party in the nation. A national leader such as Paul, Tancredo, or
Hunter would provide the CP with a very attractive alternative to the
globalist candidates being offered by the two major parties.

By nature, I am not a single issue voter. However, I am sensible enough to
realize that there are currently a handful of issues that will literally
make or break America's future. And right now, the illegal immigration and
emerging North American Union issues are at the very top of the list.
Further failure on these issues will mean the end of America as we know it.
And I mean very soon.

Regardless of what Hunter, Paul, and Tancredo ultimately do, Republicans,
Democrats, and Independents who believe we must protect America's borders,
stop the burgeoning North American Union, and secure our national
sovereignty must be prepared to abandon the two major parties' presidential
nominees in 2008 and support an "America First" third party candidate. Even
a virtually unknown candidate with limited experience, but someone who
understands the issues and has the backbone to do what is right, would be
head and shoulders above what the two major parties are currently shoving
down our throats.

Better start preparing yourselves for it now, folks.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Who's side is Bush on?

This article comes from Rev. Chuck Baldwin

---Sean Scallon

During President Bush's State of the Union speech there was someone he would not dare publicly recognize. Even though he knew she was there, I'm confident he never even bothered to look up at Gallery 5, Row B, Seat 9, because sitting in that seat was Monica Ramos, the wife of imprisoned former Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos. She was the invited guest of Republican California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

Representative Rohrabacher is incensed at Bush's Justice Department for
imprisoning Ramos and former Border Patrol agent Jose Alonso Compean for
their actions in the shooting and wounding of a Mexican drug smuggler.

In case you missed the story, the two BP agents intercepted a Mexican drug
smuggler who brought more than 700 pounds of marijuana (that we know of)
across the border into the United States. In the process of attempting to
capture the criminal, he pointed something at the agents, and they opened
fire. He was apparently hit in the buttocks, as he turned to run. However,
the smuggler appeared to not be injured, as he continued to run swiftly back
into Mexico and into a waiting van. Both van and smuggler raced out of
sight. The smuggler's weapon was not found.

Why, you ask, were the two agents imprisoned (for a term of more than 11
years each, no less)? For firing their weapons and not filing the proper
paperwork. You read it right.

"TJ Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, a union
representing 1,500 agents, argued failure to report the discharge of a
firearm is an administrative offense that, at the most, merits a five-day
suspension," reports World Net Daily.

"How that translates into 11-and 12-year prison terms is beyond me," Bonner

Making matters worse, the Mexican drug smuggler was even granted full
immunity by the Justice Department and brought back at U.S. taxpayers'
expense to testify against the agents. He is even being allowed to sue the
two agents for over $5 million for having his "civil rights" violated. No,
he is not an American citizen. He is a Mexican criminal who entered the
United States illegally for the express purpose of smuggling drugs.

More than 70 lawmakers signed a petition pleading with President Bush to
pardon the two agents. To no avail. Agents Ramos and Compean began their
prison terms on January 17.

Representative Rohrabacher called President Bush a "disgrace" for refusing
to pardon the two BP agents. About Bush, he said, "This is the worst
betrayal of American defenders I have ever seen." He further said, "He
[Bush] obviously thinks more of his agreements with Mexico than the lives of
American people and backing up his defenders."

Rep. Joe Wilson said, "Convicting Ramos and Compean is a slap in the face to
every American who respects the rule of law and expects our government to
enforce its own laws."

However, the story gets even more bizarre. Writing for World Net Daily,
Jerome Corsi reports, "New evidence suggests prosecuting U.S. Attorney
Johnny Sutton of El Paso lied about how the government found the fleeing
illegal alien Mexican drug smuggler, Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, according to a
Border Patrol advocate closely following the case of former agents Ignacio
Ramos and Jose Campean.

"Contrary to claims, no Mexican attorney was involved as an intermediary
offering to reveal the identity of the drug smuggler and bring him back to
the U.S. in exchange for given immunity to testify against Border Patrol,
contended Andy Ramirez, chairman of Friends of the Border Patrol.

"'It's shocking how much lying Johnny Sutton has done about Aldrete-Davila,'
he told WND."

Ramirez said emphatically, "If the truth about how the government got their
hands on Aldrete-Davila had been told to the jury, there is no way the jury
would have believed a word of his story that he was unarmed."

Obviously, much of the prosecutor's cased hinged on the testimony of the
drug smuggler that he was not armed. In the end, the jury had to decide in
favor of a U.S. Attorney and a Mexican drug smuggler or the two Border
Patrol agents. Pathetically, they chose to believe the Mexican criminal and
the collaborating U.S. Attorney.

Worse still, President Bush ignored the pleas of members of Congress and the
thousands of American citizens begging him to pardon the two agents.

In response to Bush's decision to leave the two BP agents behind bars,
Rohrabacher's spokeswoman, Tara Setmayer, said that the "lives of two brave
men, her husband Ignacio Ramos and Border Patrol agent Jose Compean, have
been destroyed by an inexplicable policy of open borders and amnesty this
administration has toward our southern border.

"If the Bush administration cared about securing our borders, these two law
enforcement officers would not be behind bars, and U.S. prosecuting
attorneys wouldn't be prosecuting Border Patrol agents while drug smugglers
go free."

Congressman Rohrabacher even went so far as to say, "He [President Bush]
talks about being a Christian, but he has shown no Christian charity." He
went on to say that because of the decision of Attorney General Alberto
Gonzales and President Bush to prosecute the two Border Patrol agents, "The
word is out that the southern border is undefended. Border agents won't dare
to draw their weapons, and the drug cartel will double their effort to drive
a wedge in our border."

Makes one wonder whose side George W. Bush is on, doesn't it?

(c) Chuck Baldwin

Does Romans 13 demand we pay our taxes

This article comes form Doug Newman and is a welcome rebuke to those Christians who wish to use the Bible to justify tyranny.

--Sean Scallon

By Doug Newman

January 28, 2007

Jimmy writes:

“… as acts 5:29 says we are to obey God rather than men, and when a government such as the Nazi regime comes into power and tells us to report all Jews in hiding, that government has become un-Biblical and may be rebelled against, but what about less extreme examples? Take, for instance, the incremental destruction of our economic liberties, such as the creation of the income tax, and the Federal Reserve. How can we complain about the income tax when Romans 13:7 tells us to pay taxes?”

I replied:

Thanks for writing. Romans 13:1-7 (1) is the favorite Scripture of control freaks everywhere. However, to read it as demanding total obedience to earthly authorities is absurd. Christianity is an intellectual exercise. We are to love God with our hearts, souls and minds. (Mark 12:30)

No Scripture stands isolated from the rest of God’s Word. Disobedience is a common theme throughout Scripture. To cite just a few examples:

The three Hebrew children endured the fiery furnace rather than worship Nebuchadnezzar’s God. (Daniel 3)

Daniel is thrown into the lions’ den for defying King Darius. (Daniel 6)

Jesus was crucified on political charges – i.e. treason – for claiming to be God and therefore a counterforce to Caesar. (Luke 23:2)

Peter and John defy the authorities’ decree that they not teach in Jesus’ name. (Acts 4:18-20, Acts 5:29)

Christianity was an outlaw religion for the first few hundred years of its existence.

Several of Paul’s letters – Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon -- were written while he was in Roman jails.

The Prophet John wrote the book of Revelation while in exile on the Isle of Patmos.
Moreover, while we hear time and again that “America was founded on Christian values”, no one ever tells us what this means. While some Founders were Christian and others were not, their worldview was far more biblical than almost anything we find in the contemporary church. Not only did they say all kinds of nasty things about King George III, many were big time scofflaws! Among them were smugglers, tax resisters and militia members who engaged in shootouts with their own government!

This government was nowhere nearly as large, costly and intrusive as our current government. The people were taxed at less than three percent, there was no war on drugs and no Royal Department of Education. I hope this answers your question about "less extreme examples."

The Declaration of Independence, while not an explicitly Christian document, appeals to a God who takes an active concern in political affairs. When the 56 signers pledged their lives, fortunes and sacred honor, they were dead serious. Many paid huge prices so that you and I could live and breathe in freedom.

Consider also the northerners of good conscience who harbored runaway slaves in the 1850s in defiance of the fugitive slave laws. Consider Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat to a white man in Alabama in 1955.

Consider all the people who risked their lives either resisting or fleeing from Nazism and Communism.

Consider the underground churches in many countries throughout the world which exist in direct defiance of their governments. The spirit of the early church lives!

The First Commandment states that “You shall have no other Gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) “No other Gods” includes earthly governments.

I am not an expert on various translations of the Bible. However, I invite you to look at Romans 13:1 in the New International Version and then in the King James Version.

NIV “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

KJV “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”
The concept of “higher powers” is far stronger than that of “governing authorities”. The governing authorities of this world are not exempt from God’s Judgment. The governors of this world have a Governor. (Psalm 2)

Jesus tells us to “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.” (Matthew 22:21)

Concerning this passage, a few observations:

Jesus never gets specific about what is Caesar’s and what is God’s. Indeed, He never assigns any duties to Caesar.

The contemporary church would have you think that this Scripture means “Render unto Caesar everything Caesar demands and then sit down and shut up.” They never discuss particulars. Jesus’ words are a charter of liberty while contemporary church teaching is a recipe for slavery.

In America, Article 1, Section 8 of our Constitution delegates 18 specific duties to Caesar. The Tenth Amendment forbids any other federal activity. The distinction between what is Caesar's and what is not is very clear.
There you have it: this idea that Christians should always do as told has no practical or scriptural basis.

Let us now address the issue of paying taxes. Romans 13:7 says, “If you owe taxes, pay taxes.” But do we owe taxes? I caused quite a stir on some message boards recently when I asked: “Please show me the law requiring us to pay income tax.” Click on this link to see the responses I received.

I personally have not had the fortitude yet to test this, but numerous people have. And some have paid dearly. Some have done jail time. (2) This is just a partial list, in no particular order, of people who have either spoken out about the absence of a law requiring us to pay income taxes, questioned the supremacy of the IRS over the church, exposed the fraud of the Sixteenth Amendment or who have challenged the absence of such a law directly by not paying income taxes: Irwin Schiff, Sherry Peel Jackson, Ed and Elaine Brown, Rick Stanley, Devvy Kidd, Robert Schultz, Bill Benson, Joseph Bannister, Larken Rose, Rose Lear, Vernice Kuglin, Whitey Harrell, Marcella Brooks, Larry Becraft, Greg Dixon, Gene Chapman, Kent Hovind, Robert Raymond and – most prominently – Aaron Russo.

If you are not seen Mr. Russo’s phenomenal documentary “America: Freedom to Fascism”, you need to. It chronicles his quest to find out if there is in fact a law requiring Americans to pay taxes on their incomes. No one ever cites the specific law.

When the matter has gone to court, the defendants have almost always had the deck stacked against them. Years ago, a defendant would have the opportunity to a trial by a jury that had far greater power than today’s juries. Jurors had the right to judge not only the facts pertaining to a case, but also the law relevant to that case. If so much as one juror thought the law was unconstitutional, immoral, stupid or even non-existent, the juror could vote to acquit and the defendant would walk.

Again, I have not had the audacity to test this myself. However, I am profoundly convinced of this: some day I will commit some act of civil disobedience. I do not know when or where or what the details will be. However, I see it coming.

In I Corinthians 7:23, Paul exhorts us not to “become slaves of men.” A slave may be described as someone who labors involuntarily for someone else’s benefit. A tax on income is a form of slavery.

In America’s Constitution, the “things that are Caesar’s” are few and defined. Hence, the cost of funding these activities is quite minimal and non-intrusive. The principle of direct taxation on one’s labor was abhorrent to the Founders.

The Founders’ vision of a minimal state was consistent with a worldview that was heavily influenced by the Bible. Even though God ordained civil government – Romans 13 – such government had to be severely limited. Christians have a King, but His Kingdom is not of this earth. (John 18:36) A Christian’s true citizenship is in Heaven, and not on earth. (Philippians 3:20)

Jesus sent His followers out “like sheep among wolves” and instructed them to be “shrewd as serpents.” (Matthew 10:16) The world will be hostile to Christians. This hostility will take many forms. It is your duty as a Christian to navigate through this world wisely, to discern the endless wiles of the enemy and to stand firm until the end in the face of evil. (Matthew 10:22)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Support the Troops by Ending the War -- Rep. Ron Paul

Support the Troops by Ending the War

by Rep. Ron Paul

I have never met anyone who did not support our troops. Sometimes, however, we hear accusations that someone or some group does not support the men and women serving in our armed forces. This is pure demagoguery, and it's intellectually dishonest. The accusers play on emotions to gain support for controversial policies, implying that those who disagree are unpatriotic. But keeping our troops out of harm's way, especially when war is unnecessary, is never unpatriotic. There's no better way to support the troops.

Since we now know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and was not threatening anyone, we must come to terms with 3,000 American deaths and 23,000 American casualties. It's disconcerting that those who never believed the justifications given for our invasion, and who now want the war ended, are still accused of not supporting the troops! This is strange indeed!

Instead of questioning who has the best interests of our troops at heart, we should be debating which policy is best for our country. Defensive wars to preserve our liberties, fought only with proper congressional declarations, are legitimate. Casualties under such circumstances still are heartbreaking, but they are understandable. Casualties that occur in undeclared, unnecessary wars, however, are bewildering. Why must so many Americans be killed or hurt in Iraq when our security and our liberty were not threatened?

Clichés about supporting the troops are designed to distract us from failed policies, policies promoted by powerful special interests that benefit from war. Anything to steer the discussion away from the real reasons the war in Iraq will not end anytime soon.

Many now agree that we must change our policy and extricate ourselves from the mess in Iraq. They cite a mandate from the American people for a new direction. This opinion is now more popular, and thus now more widely held by politicians in Washington. But there's always a qualifier: We can't simply stop funding the war, because we must support the troops. I find this conclusion bizarre. It means one either believes the "support the troops" propaganda put out by the original promoters of the war, or that one actually is for the war after all, despite the public protestations.

In reality, support for the status quo (and the president's troop surge) in Iraq means expanding the war to include Syria and Iran. The naval build up in the region, and the proxy war we just fought to take over Somalia, demonstrate the administration's intentions to escalate our current war into something larger.

There's just no legitimacy to the argument that voting against funding the war somehow harms our troops. Perpetuating and escalating the war only serve those whose egos are attached to some claimed victory in Iraq, and those with a determination to engineer regime change in Iran.

Don't believe for a minute that additional congressional funding is needed so our troops can defend themselves or extricate themselves from the war zone. That's nonsense. The DOD has hundreds of billions of dollars in the pipeline available to move troops anywhere on earth – including home.

We shouldn't forget that the administration took $600 million from the war in Afghanistan and used it in Iraq, before any direct appropriations were made for the invasion of Iraq. Funds are always available to put our troops into harms way; they are always available for leaving a war zone.

Those in Congress who claim they want the war ended, yet feel compelled to keep funding it, are badly misguided. They either are wrong in their assessment that cutting funds would hurt the troops, or they need to be more honest about supporting a policy destined to dramatically increase the size and scope of this misadventure in the Middle East. Rest assured one can be patriotic and truly support the troops by denying funds to perpetuate and spread this ill-advised war.

The sooner we come to this realization, the better it will be for all of us.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The More the Merrier….Not the Case with the GOP Presidential Field

When it was leaked out that U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex) was forming an exploratory committee to run for the GOP nomination for President, the excitement and electricity on the internet was enough to give full power to Baghdad. Paul has long been a favorite among many on the information super-highway for his paleolibertarian views on foreign and domestic policy and his opposition to the war in Iraq. Many were enthusiastic about the possibility of Paul gaining a broad coalition of support among libertarians, "real" conservatives and maybe even a few leftists as well to form a new electoral coalition.

Unfortunately all that euphoria had to be tampered because just a week later another favorite of the internet political posting crowds, U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Col.), decided that he was going form his own presidential exploratory committee.

I'll give my endorsement of Paul over Tancredo near end of this article. But once again it shows that when it comes to nominating a presidential candidate, too many cooks can spoil the broth on the GOP side. History has shown that anti-establishment or other sincerely conservative candidates have been hurt by the divisions caused when there are too many presidential candidates and not enough pool for them to swim in.

There really hasn't been united conservative backing to one presidential candidate since Barry Goldwater in 1964. Some may ask what about Ronald Reagan but truth be told when Reagan ran for president in 1968 and 1974 many southern Goldwaterites who become ensconced in the party after 1964, supported Richard Nixon in 1968 and in 1972 and Gerald Ford in 1976. Indeed, it was those very persons, like Mississippi's state Republican Party Chairman Clarke Reed, that ultimately gave Ford the nomination. Even when Reagan ran in 1980 there was a candidate to his right, U.S. Rep. Phil Crane (R-Ill.). Crane was the favorite of intellectual conservatives because they didn't think Reagan had the brain matter for the job ("Its not that Reagan lacks principals," one conservative joke went. "It’s that he doesn't understand the one’s he has.") and thought that if his candidacy collapsed, which nearly happened thanks to the inept leadership of campaign manager John Sears, then Crane would be left to pick up the pieces. Of course Reagan's candidacy didn't collapse and Crane was out the door after New Hampshire. There were Republican candidates like John Connally and Bob Dole in 1980 who were seen as reasonably conservative, but whose ties to a discredited GOP establishment at that time ruled them out among conservative voters.

The apparent unity within the old conservative movement cracked in 1986 and by the time of the next GOP nominating contest in 1988, several factions had their own candidates. In subsequent years, those divisions have only grown worse and the number of candidates has grown each time. However, each of these candidates are or have been trying to swim in a pool that simply doesn't have enough water to hold all of them.

What makes a person decide to run for president after all? It would seem that raising the money required to win along with the travel and hard work required would make it too daunting a task for a mere mortal. Walter Mondale thought spending all that time "sleeping in Holiday Inns" was too much for him back in 1974. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) formed an exploratory committee this year and quickly pulled the plug on it when he realized he couldn't win. And yet others are willing the make the sacrifice even though they don't have snowball's chance in hell of being president because modern presidential campaigns are not as taxing as you might think. Federal matching funds provides some cash to work with. You've got all sorts of free media nowadays to get your message out. You can live off the land in a low budget campaign to try and gain delegate or two to make a point at the convention. You can even use such a bid to gain attention for yourself for the gigs to come. John Kasich was an also-ran GOP candidate in 2000, but that didn't stop him getting his own show, "Heartland," on Fox News. Alan Keyes became a talk-radio host after his losing campaigns. Some loser candidates have parlayed their losses into cabinet posts like Bruce Babbitt or U.S. Senate campaigns like Elizabeth Dole or statewide office back home like Gerry Brown. Bob Kerry became a college president. You never know what awaits you even if you only gain 1 percent of the vote in New Hampshire. And of course if lighting does strike, as it did for an unknown former Georgia Governor named Jimmy Carter back in 1976, you too can be president.

So this new environment means that lots of candidates can run for president and all the factions in the GOP and the conservative universe gives them the rational. Unfortunately, all these candidacies accomplish is making it easier for the powers that be, both in the Republican and conservative establishments, to maintain their status and their control of the political scene.

The thing I despise most about political reporting and punditry is the fact that that such reporters and pundits lazily continue to mouth stereotypes and formulas and generalizations about voters and voting habits that have long ceased to be, if in fact ever were. This is especially true with the Republican primary electorate. Supposedly the GOP primary electorate is heavily conservative, which is true compared to moderate or liberal GOP voters, but such reporting doesn't delve into the kind of conservatism such voters espouse. GOP nominating history has shown time and again that most conservative candidates are usually not nominated and yet reporters and pundits seem blind to this fact and report about each candidate in reference to their support from the "conservative movement" or support among social conservatives, economic conservatives and national security conservatives and so forth.

Yet if support among social conservatives was the most important aspect in the Republican presidential nominating process, then we would have had GOP nominees Robertson, or Bauer or Keyes. If support among economic conservatives were important, then we would have had GOP nominees Kemp or Forbes. If strength among libertarian, anti-government conservatives was critical, we would have GOP nominees Gramm and or Kasich. If national security credentials made the difference among GOP primary voters, then we would have had nominees Haig or Dornan.

All of these candidacies just go to show how the divisiveness in the nominating process hurts candidates who have the opportunity to put together broad coalitions of support, especially those candidates who have a real opportunity of shaking things up in Washington. I speak of course of Pat Buchanan. In 1996, a little-known former UN ambassador and twice failed U.S. Senate candidate from Maryland, Alan Keyes, didn’t let his electoral failures or lack of notoriety keep him from somehow thinking he was presidential timber. Had Keyes not been around in Iowa, Pat Buchanan would have beaten Bob Dole in the caucus there and, with a win in New Hampshire, could have rolled his way to the nomination. Three years later in Iowa, Buchanan not only had to contend with Keyes once again, but former Reagan White House aide Gary Bauer. Instead of supporting someone whom he had very little disagreement with, Bauer decided to run himself because "Pat's had his turn. Now it's my turn," or something to that effect. Bauer was going to be Pat with a smile face, without all the nasty rhetoric or old newspaper columns that said bad things about Israel or women or whoever else was offended. He began to try and outdo Buchanan on the issues of economic nationalism, immigration and globalism while also coming out for more subsides for Iowa farmers. The end result was Buchanan saw his vote totals at the Iowa Straw Poll cut in half. Instead of being a top tier candidate along with George Bush II and John McCain, he began to run for the Reform Party nomination and the rest is history. Way to go Gary! You did the establishment's job quite nicely.

Not only that, but many within the conservative establishment of special interest groups, think tanks and political consultants on both coasts stay away from such boat-rockers like Buchanan for fear their own status could be compromised if they support candidates that aren’t given the seal of approval within in the establishment university they exist and work in. No one wants to be an outcast when trying move with the powers that be.

Of course such history doesn’t stop potential GOP candidates who should know better from pandering to such conservative factions which only further splits up the vote into atom-sized measurements. There are three good examples of this:

--- In 1988, Delaware Gov. Pierre S. DuPont ran for president with the reputation that all governors have of being a "moderate." So much so that the campaign staff of George Bush I feared that he could cut into Bush I's vote totals and threatened his chance of winning the GOP nomination. But DuPont decided to run like a whole-hog conservative, making a speech attacking the "moderate" wing of the party and even proposing a plan to privatize Social Security. Bush I advisers reacted with glee at their good fortune and DuPont wound up with six percent of the vote in New Hampshire.

--- In 2000 publisher Steve Forbes, coming off a solid run in his first try for the presidency in 1996, decided, like any good businessman would, that a certain segment of the GOP audience, namely social conservatives, didn't like his product very much, meaning himself, and decided that he would target himself to this audience until they came around. When they did, he would win the Republican nomination. The upshot was the audience that helped propel Forbes in 1996: economic conservatives and young, libertarian-leaning Republicans along with independents, felt abandoned by Forbes and rushed head-long into the waiting arms of John McCain. The end result was that Forbes slugged it out with Alan Keyes and Gary Bauer for the social conservative vote and saw his campaign end a lot earlier that year than it did in 1996.

--- Heading into 2008, both McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney have been pandering and tailoring themselves to the conservative voting bloc. McCain, like Forbes, is trying to convince that certain segment of the GOP base to come around to his side by trying to kiss and make-up to their so-called leaders like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, leaders that he once attacked as "agents of intolerance." Romney is touting his anti-homosexual marriage credentials. This, of course, is the old Richard Nixon strategy of running to the right to win the primary/run to the center to win the general election. Unfortunately, in a day and age where voters are more cynical about politics and distrustful of politicians in general and when Google and You Tube can catch your words in previous speeches or debates, such attempts at positioning can backfire. McCain is trying to convince a GOP electorate that still mistrusts and despises him that he's really one of them even to the point of supporting an unpopular war just so he can be seen as supporting a President who’s becoming unpopular with Republicans. Meanwhile, Romney's old debate tapes back from 1994 when he ran for the Senate against Ted Kennedy show this Mormon saying he would outdo Kennedy when it came to promoting homosexual rights and defending abortion. Romney's says he's seen the light, but you have to wonder if such conversions have come about the minute he announced his candidacy and what serious Mormon would say such things

Either way, it's this pandering that adds more swimmers to an ever-shrinking pool to splash in leaving little water for candidates that either do not have the money or bases of support outside of a few thousand hardcore followers. GOP primaries voters are not at all that different than anyone else for wanting to be on the winning team, being bandwagon fans or jumping on the train as it leaves the station. So whichever leading candidate jumps out ahead of the others after the first few primaries and caucuses, will more than likely be the nominee. And left behind will be another large group of candidates like messers. Brownback, Romney, Gingrich, Huckabee, Tancredo, Cox, Gilmore, Hunter, Thompson and any other joker who wants to jump into an empty, mud-filled hole without their clothes on.

But before we dump Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee onto the ashbin of history, we should ponder their candidacies for a just minute. Both claim to be the champions of social conservatives but they’re not running as fire and brimstone candidates. Brownback plans to spend a night in jail to highlight one of his main issues, prison reform. And Huckabee, who reportedly plays a mean bass guitar, says the U.S. should open its borders and allow in as many Hispanics from south of the border as possible because that will give the U.S. a chance to make up for past racism. Gee, are these fellows vying for the Jesse Jackson wing of the Republican Party? Actually what they are vying for are younger Christian evangelicals, Roman Catholics, (Brownback converted from Methodism to Catholicism so we’ll see if any “Rum, Romanism and Rebellion” sentiment still exists alongside anti-Mormonism within the so-called “religious right”) fundamentalists and Pentecostals who are fed up with being nothing more than back-seat drivers in the GOP coalition and who are fed up with being defined as voters only interested in abortion and homosexuality. They want to talk about different issues like the environment, like wealth disparity and poverty, like prison reform, and like immigration and Huckabee and Brownback are here to service them. They truly are “compassionate conservatism’s” bastard children.

The problem is that the trollops that bore them are in the food processing industry and who reap big benefits from open immigration policies that both Brownback and Huckabee have supported over the years. Indeed, Arkansas-based Tyson Foods has been instrumental in taking Huckabee from being an obscure Baptist preacher to being governor and he’s rewarded them with by helping Tyson import their workforce from Mexico and Central America into Arkansas. Brownback too, has extensive ties to the food industry going all the way back to when he was Secretary of Agriculture in Kansas and they have backed his career. And while Huckabee and Brownback, along with Romney and maybe even former Virginia governor and RNC Chairman Jim Gilmore, slice and dice up the social conservative vote, the issue immigration could well sink the “compassionate conservatives” in the race. As more and more rank-and-file Republicans oppose any kind of liberal immigration policy, those who support such policies are not going to be on the top of their voting lists. Indeed, immigration could well supersede abortion as a GOP litmus test issue and you heard it here first well before it will be reported in the corporate press or by corporate political writers and pundits.

Tom Tancredo has said he doesn’t think he’d make a good presidential candidate, or even president for that matter, doesn’t think he has a chance of winning it all. But he’s running anyway because he thinks the immigration issue is not being given the proper attention it should from the declared GOP candidates and he sees a vacuum of support for his kind of restrictive immigration policies. Certainly it is a vacuum he hopes to fill using Minutemen activists as his supporters, especially out West. And while many, including myself, have supported Tancredo and realize that without him in Congress we would already be in the process of providing amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, this writer is backing Ron Paul for President in 2008 come what may.

Tancredo’s candidacy is one-trick pony and he knows it. He gave up the opportunity to run a winning campaign for the U.S. Senate in his home state of Colorado, which would gain him a bigger platform and wider audience for his views, and instead decides to go on a fool’s errand. On top of that, he isn’t the only GOP candidate opposed to mass immigration or guest-worker bills in Congress because so is U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Cal.). And no doubt Hunter will be trying play up his opposition to such proposals in order to gain a niche as the anti-immigration candidate. Plus, they both support the war in Iraq. They are virtually the same kind of candidate. So while they’re busy chopping up their shares of vote into pieces like so many outside the establishment, it’s time for people who are serious conservatives, serious libertarians, and even a some serious liberals, those who are on the outside looking in on the powers that be, to give serious look at Ron Paul.

Ron Paul wants to make a serious bid for the White House (meaning no non-major party runs if he doesn’t win) by running for the GOP nomination.Not only does he support decentralization policies such voters can agree with (or at least on most issues anyway), his candidacy, if successful, could represent the beginning of a new movement and or voting coalition of such aforementioned groups who’s primary interest it is to dismantle the empire that’s led us into a bloody and disastrous war, that tries to enforce its values on people who don’t want such values imposed upon them (right or left depending on the community in question), that steals our money for its own vainglorious and unconstitutional pursuits and tries to steal our legitimate freedoms bit by bit. A successful Paul candidacy will destroy the cancer of centralism. This goes way beyond being a protest candidate or running just to “educate” voters in a shell. So much potential can come from Paul’s candidacy that can benefit so many. Paleos of all stripes can join hands with regular Republicans, libertarians, so-called “crunchy conservatives” and liberals for such a movement and members of non-major parties like the LP or CP and maybe even the Greens could leave their enclaves in their respective states and join with a man who doesn’t have to recant his support for this illegal war because he’s opposed it from the beginning. Much this sounds like dreaming I know, but I also know that by the fall of 2007, Ron Paul will be the only Republican candidate (assuming Chuck Hagel doesn’t run) having opposed an unpopular war that will be unpopular with a majority of Republicans. That’s a powerful position to be in with campaign that’s going to be dominated by the war whether the politicians like it or not. Considering the other options out there and considering what could become of a successful Paul campaign, it’s time to support someone standing proudly on shore rather than wallowing in the mud with the other also-rans.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Bong 4 Jesus Madness

This is the latest article from Doug Newman

--Sean Scallon

Bong 4 Jesus Madness
By Doug Newman

When I was growing up somewhere in the swamps of Jersey, I had a friend who would sometimes ask the following when things were blown out of proportion: “Do you have to make a federal issue out of it?”

I was reminded of this when I read that the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of Morse and the Juneau School Board et al. v. Frederick.

The case began in early 2002, when Joseph Frederick, a high school student in Juneau, Alaska, went on a school field trip to watch the Olympic Torch as it passed through town en route to Salt Lake City. It was there that he unfurled a banner that read “Bong hits 4 Jesus.”

Isn't this just free-spirited high school mischief?

Deborah Morse, the high school principal, did not think so. Even though Frederick displayed the offending, seditious, end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it banner off of school grounds, Morse suspended him for ten days.

This was just the beginning of the "Bong hits 4 Jesus" madness. Frederick eventually sued in federal district court on First Amendment grounds. The court ruled in favor of the school district. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court and ruled in Frederick’s favor.

Enter Kenneth Starr, the former US Solicitor General and Whitewater prosecutor who was very active in pushing for Bill Clinton’s impeachment. He has convinced the Court to hear this case. He will represent the school district.

Starr, who is now dean of the law school at Pepperdine University, wants the Court to have the chance “to clear up the ‘doctrinal fog infecting student speech jurisprudence.’"

Did I miss the Big News? Did they catch bin Laden?

How about clearing up the doctrinal fog infecting the Bill of Rights?

The Bill of Rights is really a bill of prohibitions on federal intrusions on the rights of thee and me. If federal judges actually read the first ten amendments to the Constitution, we would live in quite a different America.

Free speech – protected by the First Amendment – would be secure. Your rights to do things such as have your bong hits and to opt out of government education -- protected by the Ninth Amendment – would be secure. Federal intrusion in education – forbidden by the Tenth Amendment – would be non-existent. No doctrinal fog here.

In short, your right to do as you willy-nilly pleased as long as you did not harm anyone else would be secure from the predations of control freaks left and right. Your right to be left alone would be secure.

A YouTube video made the point that the ACLU is defending Frederick’s right to unfurl a banner that included the name of “Jesus”. At the same time, a stalwart of the Christian Right has his trousers in such a wad that he has convinced the Supremes to hear the case.

If the mere mention of “bong hits” sends these Holy Joes over the edge, how about Genesis 1:29?

"And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth,
and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." (KJV)

"Every herb bearing seed" means exactly that: "every herb bearing seed". This includes hippy lettuce.

It is enough that – in a post-9/11 America -- what was left of the Constitution was sent through the shredder under the guise of fighting terrorism. (Most of it had already been finished off in the name of the War on Drugs.)

In the future – in a post-“Bong hits 4 Jesus” America -- will everyone who has just a little too much fun wind up before the Supreme Court in order to clear up someone’s "doctrinal fog”?

I opened with a question asked by a friend from New Jersey. I will close with a question once asked by a friend from Arizona:

“Lord, when’s the Big Rock gonna hit?”

Ron Paul and Free Republic

I met Dr. Dan "Red" Phillips at last year's JRC gathering in Rockford and we've corresponding ever since. He's a writer like myself to I'm happy to put his pieces on my blog like this one on Ron Paul and Free Republic:

--Sean Scallon

Since the beginning of the Bush administration genuine conservatives have been taking a beating, but now there is hope. Friday 12 January 07 finally brought some good news for the conservative movement and the cause of authentic conservatism and constitutionally limited government! Rep. Ron Paul has set up an exploratory committee for a possible presidential campaign for the GOP nomination in 2008. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Rep. Paul, he is a Republican Congressman from the 14th District of Texas. In the Congress he is a bright shining light of limited government in a bastion of big government darkness. In an age when many Republicans have embraced the cause of activist, “big government (sic) conservatism” at home and abroad, Rep. Paul has been keeping the limited government faith. (Of course “big government conservatism” is an obvious oxymoron.) Rep. Paul’s, who is a physician by trade, support of constitutionally limited government has earned him the moniker “Dr. No,” because he so often votes against big spending bills. Rep. Paul, in an era marked by the abandonment of core principles, has remained a genuine constitutionalist.

For awhile, I have had to set back and listen to conservatives debate whether Sen. McCain or Gov. Romney was the least objectionable candidate. Or even worse if that is possible, I had to listen to speculation about whether Mayor Rudy Giuliani could win the Republican nomination. Almost in despair I listened as conservatives mentioned amnesty supporters Sen. Brownback and Gov. Huckabee as possible conservative alternative candidates. I wondered to myself and also aloud, “Has the conservative movement really sunk this low?”

As I have indicated before, I am a serious political junkie. The problem is there has seldom been a candidate that I could whole-heartedly endorse. My paleoconservative and constitutionalist beliefs would not allow me to enthusiastically support such obvious moderates as Dole in ’96 or Bush in ‘00 and ‘04. In fact, I felt like Bush’s embrace of “compassionate” big government (sic) conservatism was more in line with the editorial page of the New York Times a la David Brooks than it was with main street small government conservatism. And his foreign policy was certainly not small government conservatism. It was big government Wilsonian liberalism.

So when I heard about Rep. Paul’s announcement, I was ecstatic. I immediately went to a few e-mail groups I belong to to share the good news, but good news travels fast. Many were already aware. Since Rep. Paul’s announcement, the conservative blogosphere and conservative internet sites have been on fire with the news of a possible Paul candidacy. Finally there is a candidate who is right on all the right issues, a candidate I can whole-heartily endorse. I have already priced tickets to Iowa and New Hampshire.

Rep Paul is right on spending, he is right on taxes, he is right on the border, immigration and amnesty, he is right on life, and he is right on guns. Unlike many “federalist” conservatives, he understands the importance of decentralization and State’s rights. And given the current situation in Iraq, he understands the importance of a truly “humble” foreign policy. Bush campaigned on a “humble” foreign policy but gave us Jacobin revolution instead. Rep. Paul understands that the only foreign policy consistent with small, limited government is non-intervention. His foreign policy is the policy of the Founders. His is the foreign policy of authentic, historic conservatism. His is a foreign policy of humility that recognizes the limitations of fallen man. His is not the foreign policy of revolutionary Jacobin transformation and overthrow. Political Science and History 101 should teach us that Jacobin style transformation is a policy of the left, not the right.

Rep. Paul’s campaign is really the answer to prayer for many conservatives. Here is a paragraph I wrote from a previous column. This column first appeared 9 Jan 07.

Based on the reaction to the Baker commission and talk of surges, the official Right does not look like it will be abandoning its embrace of neo-con interventionism any time soon. The base is still broadly supportive of the policy. None of the potential GOP presidential candidates in 2008 are anti-war. Senator Hagel (R-NE) could probably be described as a realist, but the base hates him because of it. Both possible paleo-esq candidates, Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), are pro-war. Front-runner Senator McCain (R-AZ) is the loudest voice calling for more troops. (Rep. Ron Paul, are you listening?)[emphasis added]

I am not trying to take credit for his decision to run. I just want to demonstrate that Rep. Paul’s potential campaign really is for many of us, the best political news in a long, long time.

So I was eager to share my excitement with my paleo friends, but I was also interested to see how some of the more militantly (no pun intended) pro-intervention sites were dealing with the news. So I went to the “Mother of All” pro-intervention sites, Free Republic.

I went to Free Republic and searched “’Ron Paul’ President.” There were already a few threads. One had 40+ replies, and it is the first one I looked at. I only got to look at the 40+ reply thread briefly before it was deleted. In it, some clueless Freeper had written “Paleoconservatism = fake conservatism.” Of course, this infuriated me. Statements like that are either the result of ignorance or are a deliberate attempt to smear and distort. No thoughtful, well-informed person could make such a silly statement. The rap against paleoconservatism is that it is too conservative: that it rejects certain modernist, liberal assumptions. It can not simultaneously be too conservative and fake conservative. That makes no logical sense. So I replied with the following:

“Paleoconservative = fake conservative”

You have got to be kidding me. The paleocons are the only true conservatives. It is actually not them who need a pre-fix. Neocons and the mainstream conservatives who have bought their rhetoric are liberal Wilsonian interventionists. Interventionism is inconsistent with small government conservatism. Look at what the right in this country believed before the Cold War. Contrary to the myopic belief of some “conservatives,” human history and conservative history did not start 50 years ago. Perhaps you should take a look at Washington’s Farewell Address.

For that statement I joined the large and proud legion of those who have been “banned” by Free (sic) Republic. I recognize the above statement is unpopular with many on the “right,” especially the Free (sic) Republic style “right,” but it is certainly a defensible position. It is a position held by many respectable conservatives/rightists. It is not a lone or eccentric opinion. So why did it warrant my banning? Clearly I was not banned for foul language or personal attacks or some other legitimate reason. I was banned because I expressed what Free (sic) Republic determined to be wrong think. It is really very sad. There was a time when invoking the past proved your conservative bona fides. Now it seems at Free (sic) Republic that invoking the past is wrong think. How dare I worry about what Washington and the Founders believed, at Free (sic) Republic all that matters is what the Dear Leader believes. I will leave it to the readers to determine if “Dear Leader” refers to President Bush or Jim Robinson, the founder of Free (sic) Republic. Or come to think of it, has anyone ever seen “Jim Rob” and President Bush in the same room together? Hmmm …

Anyway, after my banishment, I returned to the website to check on the status of the thread I had attempted to post on. In good Orwellian fashion, it had been erased as if it had never existed. Ron who? Perhaps there was some problem with the thread such as foul language that caused it to be deleted, but I doubt it. I suspect the problem with the thread was the same problem with my comment; it expressed wrong think. Other Ron Paul for President threads remain. I really have no idea what makes the difference. Maybe it has to do with who is moderating at the time or whether the non-interventionists are getting the better of the interventionists.

I sent “Jim Rob” two e-mails asking him for an explanation for the thread being deleted and why my innocuous comment warranted banning, but he has yet to reply. I’m not holding my breath.

I discussed this situation with many people via e-mail and several replied that they thought Jim Robinson and the Free (sic) Republic crowd feared Ron Paul. Ron Paul does have a tremendous amount of support among the grassroots base. He is an articulate spokesman for the principled non-interventionist position. He does have the potential to unite people from across the political spectrum and draw in a lot of third party activists and those who have previously given up on the system. But I honestly don’t think Jim Robinson and the boys at Free (sic) >Republic fear Ron Paul. What they fear is honest, open, and intelligent debate. Who needs paleoconservatives with their pesky ideas and concern for the past constantly invoking Washington’s Farewell Address and the Founders and making all those learned references to Jacobins, the left-wing and the French Revolution? It is so much less taxing on the brain to read over and over again “Kill all the Islamo-fascists,” chant “regime change,” “creative destruction,” and “benign global hegemony” and lap up the rest of the revolutionary, left-wing faith that passes for “conservatism” these days.

But the actions of the thought police at Free (sic) Republic are not a sign of strength. They are an indication of weakness. Their position of the more foreign intervention the merrier (Let’s take out Iran and Syria while we are at it) is rapidly deteriorating and becoming increasingly untenable. When the War first began they could count on a lot of support and consent on the mainstream right. But as things have gone poorly in Iraq as the conservative war critics predicted (I take no joy in being right about that), they are in an increasingly smaller minority. Their interventionist strategy is opposed by more and more Americans on the right, left, and center. I’m not arguing that public opinion is always right. It isn’t. But no one is buying their strategy anymore. They are spending all their time talking to each other and shouting down, or banning, dissent. Again this is a sign of weakness, not strength. And it is a sign of intellectual atrophy. They certainly can not prove that their interventionist ideas are from the right, because they manifestly are not. And they can’t defend their leftist position beyond mindless slogans and accusations. “Kill them Islamo-fascist!” “You’ve got your head buried in the sand.” “Pacifist.” “Appeaser.” “Neville Chamberlain.” “Cut and run.” “Surrender.” And my very favorite of all, the completely mindless “I would rather fight them over there than fight them over here.” Can you tell I am a veteran of these wars?

Well Jim Rob and the boys can mindlessly continue to backslap each other and cheer on global Jacobin revolution and hoot down all those who dare to call them on their left-wing ideological crusade, but fewer and fewer on the right are buying it. It is my hope that a Ron Paul campaign will continue to chip away at the pro-war “right,” and restore some integrity to the word conservative and return the conservative movement to its Old Right, anti-interventionist roots. Global revolution is not now, nor has it ever been conservative. Run Ron run!

Dr. Dan E. Phillips is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Georgia. He specializes in the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse. He can be reached at Phillips_de at mercer dot edu.)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Maine rejects Real ID

I always love it when a state or locality tells the Feds to go to hell and I am happy to tell about it as this article appeared on Yahoo.com this morning.

---Sean Scallon

Maine overwhelmingly rejected federal requirements for national identification cards on Thursday, marking the first formal state opposition to controversial legislation scheduled to go in effect for Americans next year.

Both chambers of the Maine legislature approved a resolution saying the state flatly "refuses" to force its citizens to use driver's licenses that comply with digital ID standards, which were established under the 2005 Real ID Act. It asks the U.S. Congress to repeal the law.

The vote represents a political setback for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Republicans in Washington, D.C., which have argued that nationalized ID cards for all Americans would help in the fight against terrorists.

"I have faith that the Democrats in Congress will hear this from many states and will find a way to repeal or amend this in the coming months," House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat, said in a telephone interview after the vote. "It's not only a huge federal mandate, but it's a huge mandate from the federal government asking us to do something we don't have any interest in doing."

The Real ID Act says that, starting around May 2008, Americans will need a federally approved ID card--a U.S. passport will also qualify--to travel on an airplane, open a bank account, collect Social Security payments or take advantage of nearly any government service. States will have to conduct checks of their citizens' identification papers, and driver's licenses likely will be reissued to comply with Homeland Security requirements.

In addition, the national ID cards must be "machine-readable," with details left up to Homeland Security, which hasn't yet released final regulations. That could end up being a magnetic strip, an enhanced bar code or radio frequency identification (RFID) chips.

The votes in Maine on the resolution were nonpartisan. It was approved by a 34-to-0 vote in the state Senate and by a 137-to-4 vote in the House of Representatives.

Other states are debating similar measures. Bills pending in Georgia, Massachusetts, Montana and Washington state express varying degrees of opposition to the Real ID Act.

Montana's is one of the strongest. The legislature held a hearing on Wednesday on a bill that says "The state of Montana will not participate in the implementation of the Real ID Act of 2005" and directs the state motor vehicle department "not to implement the provisions."

Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's Technology and Liberty Project, said he thinks Maine's vote will "break the logjam, and other states are going to follow." (The American Civil Liberties Union has set up an anti-Real ID Web site called Real Nightmare).

Pingree, Maine's House majority leader, said the Real ID Act would have cost the state $185 million over five years and required every state resident to visit the motor vehicle agency so that several forms of identification--including an original copy of the birth certificate and a Social Security card--would be uploaded into a federal database.

Growing opposition to the law in the states could create a political pickle for the Bush administration. The White House has enthusiastically embraced the Real ID Act, saying it (click for PDF) "facilitates the strengthening by the states of the standards for the security and integrity of drivers' licenses."

But if a sufficient number of states follow Maine's lead, pressure would increase on a Democratic Congress to relax the Real ID rules--or even rescind them entirely.

A key Republican supporter of the Real ID Act said Thursday that the law was just as necessary now as when it was enacted as part of an $82 billion military spending and tsunami relief bill. (Its backers say it follows the recommendations that the 9/11 Commission made in 2004.)

"Real ID is needed to protect the American people from terrorists who use drivers licenses to board planes, get jobs and move around the country as the 9/11 terrorists did," Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, said in an e-mailed statement. "It makes sense to have drivers licenses that ensure a person is who they say they are. It makes the country safer and protects the American people from terrorists who would use the most common form of ID as cover."

New York Times article on Ron Paul

Please enjoy this New York Times op-ed page article on Ron Paul from Bruce Bartlett that was published back on Jan. 23

--Sean Scallon

Not Your Average Republican Presidential Candidate

By Bruce Bartlett

The other day, I went by to visit Congressman Ron Paul, Republican of Texas. My first "real" job in Washington was working for him when he was initially elected to Congress in 1976, and I wanted to see how he was doing. Little did I realize when I made the appointment that I would be talking to a candidate for president.

I remember clearly when I first heard of Ron. It was in an article in The Washington Post on April 5, 1976, which said that he had just won a special election. My memory was that he had said he was to the right of Barry Goldwater, which sounded pretty good to me. But rereading the article, I see that Ron had not said this; it was his opponent, Bob Gammage, a Democrat. The charge was not altogether true, as I eventually discovered.

I was looking for a job at the time, so I sent a resume and a couple of articles I had published to Ron’s office and about a month later got an interview with him. I remember that his office had a complete set of books distributed by the Foundation for Economic Education, in Irvington, N. Y., the most prominent free market think tank in the United States at that time.

This was a good sign because I had published two articles in the foundation’s journal, The Freeman. I think Ron was impressed by this, so he hired me as a legislative assistant. I spent most of my time monitoring his principal committee, which was then known as the House Committee on Banking and Currency. With inflation climbing through the roof, it was an interesting assignment.

Ron saw the roots of the inflation problem in fiat money – currency not backed by gold or other tangible assets. At the time, this was a controversial position. But there was no denying that inflation had accelerated in 1971, when the United States cut the dollar’s last link to gold. This meant that the Federal Reserve Board was no longer constrained by how much it could increase the money supply, which increased rapidly along with inflation.

Although few economists supported a return to the gold standard, as Ron did (and still does), his critique of the Fed for creating the inflation problem dovetailed with that of "monetarists" like Milton Friedman, the late University of Chicago economist. At that time, most economists thought something other than the money supply was the main cause of inflation – budget deficits, higher prices for oil engineered by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, bad harvests, whatever.

The Fed chairman at that time was Arthur Burns, who had been Friedman’s teacher at Rutgers and Columbia. I remember being impressed by Burns’s appearances before the banking committee, in which he would take long pauses to fiddle with his pipe before answering questions – giving himself time to think and using up his questioners’ time as well. Burns’s performances were masterful, but unilluminating. He always found some way to blame inflation on something other than Fed policy.

Since Burns was a Republican who had been appointed by Richard Nixon, criticizing him wasn’t really in the Republican playbook. But Ron was adamant that inflation had no other cause than too much money and that Burns could stop it if he wanted to. Most economists now agree with this view. That period of inflation ended only when Burns’s successor, Paul Volcker, slowed growth of the money supply.

In other ways as well, Ron was not your average Republican or a typical member of Congress. Most Republicans reflexively voted whatever way the White House told them to – Gerald Ford was still president, and party unity was the order of the day. And most congressmen hate being on the wrong side of a lopsided vote. But Ron voted his conscience and was often the only "nay" vote out of 435.

Since Ron is a medical doctor, he became known as "Dr. No," which delighted him. He hadn’t run for Congress as a stepping stone to becoming a lobbyist, but to define the political spectrum by showing how a consistent libertarian would vote. This meant being for the free market and against gun control – conventional right-wing positions – but also being in favor of drug legalization and nonintervention in foreign affairs – more commonly left-wing positions.

This is still Ron’s philosophy. It is why he has consistently opposed the war in Iraq, making him something of a darling among those on the left who see no connection between Ron’s free market views and his antiwar position. But to him and other libertarians the issues are one and the same. They’re against unjustified government intervention at home or abroad.

Unfortunately, Ron was defeated in the general election the same year he was first elected. But he came back two years later, in 1978, and served until 1984, when he ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination to fill a U.S. Senate seat in Texas. In 1988, he was the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate, garnering 432,000 votes nationally.

In 1996, Ron was re-elected to Congress in a different district. (Tom Delay had his old district.) The Republican leadership wasn’t too happy to have him back, however, because they had persuaded the Democratic congressman in Ron’s new district to switch parties with a promise that he would run unopposed. But Ron had made no such promise.

Ron upset the Republican leadership’s plans to get other Democrats to switch party and embarrassed them by winning the Republican nomination and the general election. When he came back to the House, his fellow Republicans denied him the seniority to which he was entitled because of his previous service, and generally treated him as an outcast.

Other members of Congress might have been bitter over such treatment, but not Ron. He didn’t give up a successful medical practice to be a congressman because he craved the perks of office, but because he had a point to make. As long as he can continue making it, he is perfectly happy.

When I asked Ron why he kept running for office despite having little to show for it in terms of legislation or other tangible accomplishments, he said it was because he enjoyed the job. He gets to say what he thinks, meets interesting people, and shows that honesty and adherence to principle are not the political albatrosses that most politicians think they are. It’s worth noting that in 2006, when Republicans were losing control of Congress, Ron got 60 percent of the vote in his district.

One thing that came through to me as I was talking to Ron was his similarity to Ronald Reagan in a key respect. Reagan always said that he had already been a success in life before deciding to run for president – he had been a big Hollywood star, of course. Because being president didn’t define him as a person, it was easier for him to cope with the pressure of being in the White House.

Ron Paul had been a successful surgeon who delivered some 4,000 babies before giving up his practice. So like Reagan, he does not regard his current position as the pinnacle of his career. To him, serving in politics at the national level is more a privilege than a job.

During my visit, Ron had to leave for a vote, and that prevented my asking him about his future – according to press reports he has formed an exploratory committee to seek the Republican presidential nomination. Obviously, this is a long shot, but at least he has the advantage of being the only announced candidate in either party who has already received a political party’s presidential nomination.

In any other year, one would automatically dismiss Ron’s chances as quixotic at best. But 2008 is shaping up as an unusually fluid year politically, with no clear front-runner in either party, and new candidates emerging almost weekly. And the Internet has leveled the playing field in many ways. It may be a year when anything can happen.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dream it all up again

Here's one piece of some short originality. It's part of an email letter I wrote today:

"Dr. Fleming had interesting article in the February edition of Chronicles that said that the elements of movement are out there, what it takes to bring together is hate and fear and that ideas are really an overrated aspect of politics compared to sense of "what's in it for me." I think a lot of it is true to a certain extent, but I would just dismiss the idea people because they have shown that small bands of persons working together and motivated by ideals can take over a party like the Goldwaterites did to the GOP or the McGovernites did to the Dems and neoconservatism did for U.S. foreign policy. Now this sense of control may very well illusionary and it may be true that the idea people need the politicians to engineer their takeovers, but again, it has happened.

"Let's face it, demographics and changes in society did much to power the conservative movement as "ideas" did. Any movement is a reflection of the people in it or involved and what motivates them. It may be that hate and fear ultimately motivates a person vote when you boil it down, but voters also WANT to believe they are voting for the right reasons even if they are not. You could spin together a movement made up of those who are traditional, don't like big government or high taxes, want something about immigration on the premise that 1). U.S. foreign policy endangers U.S. security with foreign alliances, 2). Immigration must be controlled for economic, social and environmental reasons, 3). Reducing the size of the federal government preserves liberty and increases reliability of government services; 4). Communities should be allowed to develop as they see fit "Let Utah be Utah and let San Francisco be San Francisco." 5). The West's traditions and heritage must be preserved. This kind of movement should be anchored by "Crunch Cons" types but be able to reach out to ordinary conservatives, libertarians paleo or otherwise, and even leftists concerned about the environment or who are "Power to the People" types. Economically it should be encompass professionals but also manufacturers and farmers. Socially it should encompass most Christians but with an emphasis on Orthodox faiths, European ethnic groups but also traditional Hispanics and traditional African-American as well. It should encompass conservationalists as opposed to environmentalists.

"In short, it's a naturally conservative movement opposed being ideologically conservative."

Indeed what's needed is to dream it all up again. What's needed is to move conservatism away from being an ideology back to beaing a state of mind.

--Sean Scallon

Ron Paul interview with Reason Magazine

Here is an interview Ron Paul gave to Reason Magazine. Yes I know I promised some original stuff for today but it may have to wait until tomorrow. Until then chew on this.

---Sean Scallon

Paul for President?

The maverick libertarian Republican talks on war, immigration, and presidential ambition.

Brian Doherty January 22, 2007

Excitement spread like wildfire last week across the libertarian web: Ron Paul has entered the presidential race! Even the mainstream press took notice. As we’ll see in the interview with Rep. Paul (R-Texas) below, the excitement may have been premature.

The reason for the excitement is understandable: Ron Paul has been the most consistent successful politician advocating the limited-government principles that he sees embedded in the Constitution. Part of his appeal, to a voting base that we can safely presume isn’t as libertarian as Paul is himself, is that of the very rare politician following his own conscience and mind with steadfast integrity. Indeed, Paul is not afraid of aggravating even parts of his libertarian constituency when he thinks it’s the right thing to do, as on immigration (where he’s against amnesty and birthright citizenship, and for increased border control) and his vote this month in favor of prescription drug negotiation.

I first wrote at length about Paul in a 1999 American Spectator profile. Its discussion of Paul's nature and appeal is worth revisiting, even with some old details. Just remember, he’s continued to win his reelection since 1999. In 2004, the Democrats didn’t even bother running anyone against him. And in 2006 he won with 60 percent of the vote.

Though his name rarely appears in the national press, his face almost never on Sunday morning news shows, in 1996 he was third only to Gingrich and Bob Dornan in individual contributions to Republican House members. Though he hasn’t managed to get any of his own bills out of committee since re-entering the House in January 1997, he’s considered a vital asset by a large national constituency of libertarians, goldbugs, and constitutionalists. He’s defied one of the holy shibboleths of electoral politics—Thou Must Bring Home the Bacon—by being a consistent opponent of agricultural subsidies in a largely agricultural district…..

Ron Paul has been defying standard political rules since he first won an off-term House election in 1976--a post-Watergate year when new Republicans weren’t widely embraced. He lost the regular election in ‘76, but came back to win in ‘78, ‘80, and ‘82, then left the House for an ill-fated go at the Senate seat won by Phil Gramm. He ran for president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 1988. He was a hero to a national constituency of hard-core skeptics about the State—the one successful politician who was always steadfast even on the less-popular aspects of the live-free-or-die libertarian philosophy. He’d talk about ending the federal drug war when speaking to high school students. In 1985, he spent his own money to fly and testify on behalf of one of the first draft-registration defiers to go to trial, not blanching when confronted with the hot-blooded youngster’s use of the phrase “Smash the State.” He might not use that verb, the sober obstetrician, Air Force veteran, and family man said, but from his first-hand experience with how the U.S. government disrespects its citizens’ natural liberties, he could understand the sentiments.

I talked to Paul Thursday afternoon by phone about presidential and congressional politics. Here is an edited transcript of our talk.

Reason: Does launching an official exploratory committee necessarily mean you will end up launching an official campaign?

Ron Paul: Last week it leaked that we were getting ready to organize an exploratory committee—I haven’t even officially announced that yet. If I find with the exploratory committee that there is some support out there, that we can raise the money you need, then [I’d] declare that [I’m] running.

Reason: Now that it has leaked, what have you thought of the response so far?

Paul: I think it’s been impressive. I’ve been pleased and surprised.

Reason: Who are some of the staff and supporters behind the committee?

Paul: I’m not going into any of that now--we haven’t even officially made the announcement! It was leaked info and I’m still in the process of organizing a team. [In an AP story, Kent Snyder is identified as chairman for the exploratory committee.]

Reason: What would you anticipate the major issues you’d emphasize in a presidential run, if it comes to that?

Paul: Everything I’ve talked about for 20 years! I think the biggest thing for Republican primary voters is that most Republicans are turned off right now. They’ve had a beating and are reassessing their values. They have to decide what they believe in. The Republican Party has become about big government conservatism, and Republicans need to hear the message they used to hear: that conservatives are supposed to be for small government.

Reason: You appeared at a bipartisan press conference today on a resolution regarding possible war in Iran….

Paul: Walter Jones (R-N.C.) has a resolution he’s introducing, sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, saying that the president can’t go into Iran and spread this war without permission of Congress. I don’t know the total number of supporters, but we had a real nice bipartisan group, seven or eight members of Congress, split between Republicans and Democrats. I thought it went well. [The resolution has 12 co-sponsors.]

I think the feeling [on the Hill] is getting more against the war every day. Republicans have generally benefited from being on the other side of war issues, and lately we’ve been pressured into supporting pre-emptive war, and it has hurt us politically. The Old Right position was [antiwar] and through the 20th century conservatives in the Republican Party have generally been trying to keep us out of war, and we’ve generally benefited by this. Eisenhower was elected to end the Korean War. Nixon was supposed to end the Vietnam War and in 2000 Bush ran on a policy of “no nation building” and not being the policeman of the world. He criticized Clinton on Somalia. It’s a strong tradition for Republicans to be on the side of avoiding military conflicts. Democrats have generally been the international instigators.
Reason: One of the Internet rumors is linking you with Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Col.) in a possible joint run…

Paul: Tancredo? No. We’ve never talked about anything like that.

Reason: And another rumor is that the GOP run could be a lead-in to some sort of third party run…

Paul: A third party run? No.

Reason: Have you noticed any differences about being in the minority party in Congress again? Will that affect you?

Paul: Well, the Republican Party leaders are acting in a very defensive manner--which they’ve earned! It probably doesn’t change what I do very much. I’m just as likely to get Democratic support in things I want to do as from Republicans. Republicans were too determined to support the president rather than thinking things through and standing up to his requests to expand government internationally or to expand entitlement program at home. They’ve just gone along here.

Reason: Do you think the losing Congress will liberate more Republicans to revolt against the administration?

Paul: That’s the other Republican politicians’ dilemma: They don’t want to annoy some Republican voters, but at the same time realize that it’s not very popular to have to defend the war. When you see someone like Brownback [R-Kan.] scurrying away from the war….there’s a big change in attitude [in the GOP] and Republicans are starting to remember where they came from and that they don’t have to be supporters of war. I think a year from now there will be a lot more Republican antiwar people around.

Reason: Do you expect the Democrats to do anything substantive to stop the war?

Paul: I think we’ll see more rhetoric than a real desire to do [something specific]. We’ll see hiding behind just saying that “we don’t like this, Bush made a mess, but we can’t cut the money because then we won’t be supporting the troops.” I think that’s a cop out. There’s plenty of money to take care of the troops, billions of dollars in piles.

Reason: What did you think of Rep. Joe Biden’s declaration that there’s really nothing Congress can do to stop the war?

Paul: I think Biden is absolutely wrong. The Constitution gives more responsibility to Congress in dealing with foreign policy than to the executive. The only thing the president can do is be commander in chief after being given directions to pursue. If we had followed the rules he wouldn’t have been able to do a thing, with no declaration of war. How can the commander in chief fight a war that hasn’t been declared? If Congress had not been so complacent in its responsibilities….The war in Vietnam finally ended by definancing, but tragically after 60,000 Americans died. Congress has lots of responsibility, for defining policy, raising an army, buying equipment, the whole works. For Biden to say that–that’s avoiding the responsibility of doing what we can do.

Reason: Have you had much interaction with the larger active antiwar movement from the left?

Paul: Not really. I have a lot of people who correspond with me who come from the left, but I don’t go to their events since there’s so often more on their plate than just the war. They have an agenda I don’t endorse. I’m interested in reviving that spirit that says conservatives and limited-government constitutionalists can support the antiwar position, can be comfortable without aggressive foreign policy.

Reason: What do you have to say to libertarians who disagree with your immigration position, such as on amnesty, birthright citizenship, and a concentration of federal money on border security?

Paul: If they don’t agree, they’d have to be anarchists, and I’m not. I believe in national borders and national security. My position is, take away incentives--why are states compelled to give free education and medical care? I don’t endorse easy automatic citizenship for people who break the law. They shouldn’t be able to come reap the benefits of welfare state. I don’t think libertarians can endorse that. I think removing the incentives is very important, but I don’t think you can solve the immigration problem until you deal with the welfare state and the need for labor created by a government that interferes with the market economy. We’re short of labor at the same time lots of people are paid not to work. Take away [illegal immigrants'] incentives. I do believe in a responsibility to protect our borders, rather than worrying about the border between North and South Korea or Iraq and Syria, and I think that’s a reasonable position.

Reason: Some of your libertarian fans were also upset about your vote on government price negotiations for Medicare drugs….

Paul: The government is already involved in giving out prescription drugs, in a program that the drug companies love and spend hundreds of millions lobbying for, this interventionist program. The drug corporations love it. Should government say something about controlling prices since it's a government program? I want to cut down spending, so why not say that government has a responsibility to get a better bargain? Both choices were horrible, but the person who complained on the Internet did not understand the vote. I don’t vote for price controls, obviously, but if government has to buy something—even if they shouldn’t be buying it!--they have a responsibility to get the best price. But most importantly, we shouldn’t be in that business [of buying drugs].

Reason: When can we expect an official announcement about your presidential plans?

Paul: It’s going to be several weeks. We want to get our ducks lined up, be better prepared to line up committees and all the things we didn’t get together before the information about [the exploratory committee] was leaked. I was impressed with how quick it leaked, and the reaction, O man!

Reason: Any reaction from your congressional colleagues or Republican Party types?

Paul: Not a whole lot. I didn’t expect them to say too much. I mean, they mention it—it’s not like they refuse to talk about it—but it’s not the hottest subject around. It’s much hotter on the Internet.

It will have to be a grassroots campaign and rely on the internet. If we don’t learn how to use that to its maximum benefit, we won’t have a very viable campaign. We’ll be able to raise significant amounts, but obviously we’re not getting money from corporate giants and we’re not apt to raise $100 million. Money is pretty important, but it’s not the final issue. There are other ways of running, more so today than ever before, new ways of reaching people in an economical manner. Obvious you have to get a certain [minimum amount] of money, but right now I have no idea of the number.