Sunday, December 18, 2011

[Politics] Ron Paul

I actually watched the last Republican debate. It was interesting.

At first I had a little bit of a problem of getting into it. It's kind of a culture shock. To understand the debate I first had to keep in mind that Obama is bad. Everything about him. Every single hair. He didn't make a single good choice ever in his presidency; probably not in his life. He's also bad at politics and generally dump.

Next I had to keep in mind that strength for a republican is one-dimensional. In a way it reminded me of Mr. Cameron. While I, personally, think that making other people say 'yes' is strength, he thinks that sticking his fingers in his ears and saying 'no' is strength.
While I think that winning the cold war without one nuclear explosion and then converting the Soviet Union to capitalism is strength, for a modern republican strength means “to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.“

Finally I had to get used to the constant smiling with extra-white teeth. The only guy not smiling was Gingrich and I applaud him for it. You're not on a date, dear candidates! Who wants a smiling president?!

Honestly, I'm not sure a Chinese debate would have been more of culture shock, but half-way-through something interesting happened: Ron Paul.

Against the entire hall he argues against war. Unfortunately, Ron Paul is not good at this and also a bit too old. A brilliant politician had left this silly desk very slowly and shouted into the hall as loud, but controlled, as he could “DO YOU WANT ANOTHER WAR ??”. And he had repeated that until the audience had reacted. Well, Ron Paul is not brilliant. But he is genuine. He's the only guy on that stage who sounded like he believed what he said.

Of course I disagree with his economic policies. They would lead to massive starvation and dead people in the streets. But on the other hand, he would be unable to actually do anything of what he wants to do anyway. The president of the US is only strong when it comes to war. Otherwise he is captivated in a net of checks and balances so much that action is simply impossible if the other party is on a 100% blockade. (This is assuming the other party is not suspicious of terrorism, in which case the president is now allmighty).

In a way that is the strength of the US system - and of the German system which was massively influenced by the US after world war two. The basic idea is that it's much easier to make things worse than to make things better. And this is very true. Look at England and the constant jumping from one extreme to the next.
But the basic problem of the US system is an accelerating world. Checks and balances require time - and today there often is no time.

Anyway, US Presidents can only give direction to politics by threatening to veto all other directions. And that's why I'd seriously consider to support Ron Paul. He's the only candidate who is trustworthy; something Obama is simply not with his civil liberties record.

At this point I would love to say a few words about the guy who gave “advice” in return for $1.6 million to an institution which was later bailed out by tax payer money. But that's just beyond my mental horizon. Did you know that the German head of state (not the chancellor) is under heavy pressure right now because he accepted a 500,000 € credit from a friend about ten years ago to buy his house (410,000 €). The media argue that the interest rate he payed (4%) was too low and saved him up to 20,000€. They thus suspect him of corruption. I actually agree that this was not a good decision by my head of state.

Ron Paul may be an economic idealist, but you can be certain that he mostly thinks what he says. You can be certain that he actually would fight to his last breath against corruption and hidden lobbyists. Of course I have no vote, but I have relatives, friends and even a blog. Yes - outsiders influence your elections!! Sorry ;)

"She doesn't like Muslims. She hates Muslims. She wants to go get 'em"
Look at his face, at his eyes.


  1. I think that Ron Paul is realistically the best candidate since he seems very principled, but his ability to act on principle? He seems like a nice guy, he is very old, and those two things could be problematic. I think his ideas are in the right place though: cutting foreign aid, reducing the federal government, ending overseas military activity, reducing federal power for individual right, etc, but I don't know how well he would realistically do in pursuing those ideals.

    It's one thing to say those things in a campaign, but the issues go deep. I think he's the best candidate on principle though.

  2. The most principled candidate is not the best candidate. I'd rather have someone with slightly weaker convictions who can comprehend the idea of adapting to the situation. Beside that, for Ron Paul in particular, his principles are entirely unworkable. Liberties don't come from government doing nothing, but from government doing enough to protect citizens from other, more tyrannical powers (I'm not suggesting that our current government is doing this correctly).

  3. klep hit the nail on the head. Most of the Republican canididates are Angry old White men scared that the world is changing. The ones that aren't scared are the ones that can't energize thier base. The ones that energize the base are going to turn off the middle with their fear and paranoia. I don't know who will win the election but the republicans may be the first party in america to not take down the opponent in a recession. If that happens it'll be because thier fear is in control

  4. I absolutely agree that Mr. Obama will be reelected. His opponents simply aren't good enough to have a chance. And Mr. Obama is a brilliant politician; a genius in my humble opinion.

    That doesn't mean that I think he is a very good president - I don't. But unless something extraordinary happens he will be re-elected. And it's not for the worst. Most of his opponents would be terrible if not outright evil presidents.

    That having said it's not entirely impossible that Ron Paul is the one to challenge Obama. That would be refreshing, interesting and lead to a very honest discussion about America. Everyone should prefer this to the alternatives.

  5. I didn't say who would be elected. I think it's completely open at this point. Which considering the economy is unprecedented in US history. The republicans should be running way ahead of the democrats right now.

  6. Oy Vey!

    1) Nils do you know that Mr. Obama got into a land deal where he obtained his house for much less than the actual value? And that the guy (Tony Rezko) Obama did this with was sentenced to jail for 10.5 years (albeit for other crimes, including deals with our last governor who just got sentenced to 14 years)? So your Mr. clean isn't that clean. Not to mention Michelle getting hundreds of thousands of dollars from business deals connected to her husband. But in the US most of this is pretty standard business as usual I'm sorry to say.

    2) Ron Paul is a 110% libertarian. This means he would never have gotten involved in WW2 as Japan would not have attacked since he would have sold them the oil and metals. He also would never have gotten involved in Europe. In fact he supports all countries of the world getting nukes. And being 110% libertarian you live or die by your effort, no government is ever involved. Trust me the world would be less secure with Ron Paul, not more.

    3) As for Mr. Obama winning I greatly doubt it. History says that he will most likely lose the next election, unless unemployment falls to around 7.5% and GDP ticks up to 3-4% growth by September 2012. Now the economy might do this and in that case he could get reelected. But if unemployment is 8% or above and GDP is 3% or below Obama will lose according to every other election ever run in the US.

    4) Ron Paul's supporters are the Ross PErot supports of our day. very loyal but will never get much beyond 15% of the country.

    5) Look at the 1980 election of Jimmy Carter vs. Ronald Reagan. Go to Gallup and view the historic polling of that race. You will be shocked to see what you thought you knew was inaccurate. Do that before saying Mr. Obama wins.

    6) The election will be between Romney and Obama. Forget 98% of what you see or read. Primaries come down to organization which costs money. You need boots on the ground so to speak to get the vote out. Only Romney has this right now. And all primaries before April 1st are proportional, while those after are winner take all.

    7) What proof is there that Mr. Obama is a genius or brilliant politician? Saying is does not make it so. In fact he is actually a really bad politician. Look at his record. His stimuls and Obamacare are viewed in this country as complete failures according to ALL the polls. And as I said let's wait till November. When he loses reelection will you still call him a genius?

    Finally) It's interesting to see the posts of those who are way my junior. I venture that most are under 30 or at most low 30's. I can tell by your writings and how you say things. But being much older I realized that I didn't know as much as I thought I knew when I was that age. Go back and study and read about history.

  7. And in all those years you never learnt to stay cool, Goodmongo? What I wrote is my opinion. I don't have the space and certainly not the time to give lots of 'proof'. And if I would nobody would read it as it would be TL;DR by far.

    Take what I write for what it is: an opinion with a bit of reasoning attached. I may be wrong. And so may you ;)

  8. I will say that Goodmongo is right in that Ron is 110% Libertarian, but I don't necessarily buy into his other conclusions. I think that Ron's beliefs are based on what he thinks is necessary for our country at this moment and under current conditions.

    And as for his insulting claim that you must be in your 30's and not know as much? In 10 years he will say it is people under 40. People that make such claims always think they know and they always think that their age is somehow the "limit". And I say that as a person who is very likely near his age group!

  9. Let me clarify. The majority of people in the 20's have strong opinions and an attitude of changing the world (usually for the better). I was that way and this is a pretty well documented belief.

    What happens as we age we begin to see that systems are ingrained. Change comes extremely slowly unless spurred by other forces like war, plague, famine, natural disaster etc.

    As you age you also gather a little wealth. Wealth is relative as 1 million may be lots to some but little to others. So human nature starts to take over. You realize that the system isn't changing no matter the rhetoric. You try to find ways to protect your hard work. And some others take the revolution path but history hasn't been kind to those individuals.

    It’s been this way all through history so what makes anyone think it’s going to change now? Evolution takes thousands if not hundreds of thousands of years.

    Never confuse that I think I'm smarter than anyone else. What you eventually learn is that history repeats itself and change is very slow, if it ever comes.

    Heck The Who realized this and wrote in 'Don't Get Fooled Again'. "Meet the new boss, same as the old boss." Very sad to say this but after a period of time you soon begin to realize that it's basically true.

  10. With many of these points I agree, Goodmongo. I wrote in this very post that even a President Ron Paul wouldn't really change anything.

    But there's one more point. My parents and even grandparents are like you "Nothing changes." What these generations often miss is that they have been living in extraordinary stable times during the last 60-70 years.

    Trust me, between 1850-1950 much of stuff changed for a hell of a lot of people on this planet. Yes, between 1950 and 2011 nothing much changed*. But I'm not so certain yet that this is a good forecast for 1950-2050.

    (*) Except for a cold war and its end, but that didn't really make a personal difference for somebody in the west.

  11. I'm not saying things don't change, but they change very slowely. Take individual liberties for example. Trace that through history.

    Hammurabi's Code, Magna Carta, Declaration of Indenpendence. Centures go by and the change is sually due to war, famine, plague, natural disaster etc.

    Have you ever wondered why your parents and grandparents are the way they are? Trust me everyone grows up trying to be different, but after a number of years they soon realize that they are almost exactly like their parents. Evolution is a very slow process.

    I'm NOT saying don't try. Just don't get all upset when you find out that things changed only very little.

    As for big changes from 1850 I would love to debate you on that. I think humans and human nature has changed very little. There were wars, plagues, technology, etc that greatly impacted people, but not human evolution.

  12. The nature of change is very sloth-like. However, I feel the nature of our society is trending towards faster changes I would argue, at least for social change. It took roughly 100 years from the abolition of slavery to give blacks equal rights. Change can happen quickly, people just need to stand behind it.

    Experience can be an invaluable asset, but it can also cause one to stagnate in terms of supporting changes. This is the role of youth, to get things moving, and to push reforms. A society that isn't pushed to change by some force is not going to change. Its like a kid that comes home and is pushed to to their homework. They know they have to do it, they just don't want to.

    Youth is not held back by the same prejudices developed over time by the older generations. A larger proportion of the loyalists during the revolution were older wealthy people set in their ways, not wanting to change.

    Sometimes swift dramatic change is needed in a society, and the youth are almost always the proponents of that change. Probably why Ron Paul has so many young supporters.

  13. From the 100 mile up view change comes slowly. Problem is it has tipping points so when it actually happens everyone is surprised. (well most people).

    I remember the 1980 election and Carter had the Iranian hostage crisis which was going badly and his own incredibly depressing (but accurate) speech that everyone was going to have to share the sacrifice to fix the economy. I don't personally know anyone who was surprised reagan won.

    So far Obama has a success in Iraq,a success in libya and has continued Bush's basic strategy in Afganistan with some success.
    I'm not a strong supporter but I don't think comparing him to Carter works. He's had a lot more successful foreign policy and his domestic policies look remarkably like Bush's once you look at what has actually been done. Bush designed the bailout program obama administered, Obama did healthcare, Bush did the medicaid prescription program, they've both actively pushed the envelope of war. They both support our reduction of rights to "keep us safe".

    Really Obama could just be called Bush the sequel. The only big difference between the two is bush had the "your with me or against me" and Obama just does it without the rhetoric.

    The Republicans spun Obama as a socialist and to thier horror he's stayed pretty much in the middle. The economy will be the central issue and the republicans are doing everything they can to publicly short circuit it. I just can't decide if the Democrats are incompetent or really savv politicians handing the Republicans rope. The question is whether or not moderate voters turn out and punish them or just stay home in disgust. The republicans only win if they've demoralized the middle. The democrats only win if the middle is disgusted enough to vote.

    It's gonna be an interesting election that's for sure.

  14. Goodmongo, if a sweetheart house deal is all you can find on Obama, then he really is the squeakiest-cleanest Chicago politician who ever existed. You're also being lazy: what about his mysterious pardons for drug dealers? Hasn't that come up on RealClearPolitics yet?

    As to his election chances, the correlation of re-electability and economic markers does agree with you on the whole, but there have been remarkable exceptions, like Harry Truman. Obama remains popular personally, and the Democratic party has done a decent job of portraying Congressional Republicans as the intransigent villains of the piece. If Romney does get nominated (which, contrary to your faith in machine-politics isn't a done deal; examine the story of Obama himself) conservative Republicans are not likely to be enthusiastic. Some may stay at home. And the man himself has all the charisma and debating skills of a two-by-four. You'd best hope that economic determinism holds: in personality politics the Jug-Eared Messiah will eat Romneybot for breakfast.

    As to Paul, I am disinclined to judge modern day politicians by what they may or may not have done in World War 2. World wars have a way of concentrating minds of leaders beyond their electoral promises. I need not remind you, I'm sure, how Woodrow Wilson worked out?

    Given that my primary political value is social justice, I don't think I agree with Dr Paul on a single thing, but I do respect his courage. As a man of principle (quixotic principle, but still) running on actual ideas in America, he's utterly unelectable, but I think I do respect him the most of that viper's nest of cynical triangulators we see in the "debates".

    It all makes for good theatre from one's distant perch, at least.

  15. I'm "old" and totally with you, Nils.

    Goodmongo epitomizes the old guard, "that's how it is because that's how it's always been" attitude. The aging mind remembers the past well, but has trouble understanding the present, preferring to believe the old saw that history just repeats like the seasons.

    The youth of America are overpowered by the aging baby boomer generation that will continue to demand that they get things their way, until sufficient numbers of them die.

    Hopefully they won't take the country down with them.

    I'm 48, and considered on the cusp of the BB generation, but tend to identify with younger ideals (thus my interest in gaming).

    I voted for Obama and likely will again, but Ron Paul would certainly get my attention.

    If you are young, please please take some effort to view the issues and vote.

    Excellent post, Nils.

  16. "I think humans and human nature has changed very little. .... but not human evolution."

    Our genetic nature has probably changed very little since Homo Sapiens evolved on the rift plains of central Africa, but our intellect and attitudes are not fixed at birth by our genes, they vary dramatically given environment and education within a cultural context and that has changed dramatically over the past century and is still changing. But, whilst the United States has been a cauldron of change in the liberal framing of it's establishment, and a knight in shining armor over two world wars, today it now appears to be a backwater for cultural change and international progress, held back by an ingrained conservatism, xenophobia and religious fundamentalism that many in Europe find disturbing.

  17. As for Obama being a genius here is a brand new article:

    @Sam, In December 1979 (eactly the same amount of time from the elecetion as today) Carter had a 53% approval rating. Obama is about 44% right now. Carter led Reagan by 10 full points in the June poll yet lost in a landslide. To claim it was clear uses hindsight.

    @Sam, independents (the middle) are even lower in Obama's approval then his average 44%. They are around 38% support for Obama. So double check your facts.

    @Soresu, I could have listed MANY things but wanted to keep it brief and used the house as it directly related to what Nils posted. Plus its so Chicago. (I was born there and lived there almost my entire life so I know how it works).

    @Soresu, Harry Truman was not facing an economic situation like Obama, especially since growth for the year before the election was very strong. The economy in 1948 was booming at over 6% growth. Domestic policy wins over foreign policy. Remember Bush 41 had an approval rating of 88% less than 2 years before the election but we read his lips and he lost (mainly due to Ross Perot). And Wilson was a very liberal guy so your point was?

    Personal approval rating are NOT correlated to election outcomes. Approval of the economy is. And one thing many people are afraid to say is that they might not like Obama but fear being called racist so they say they like him but then have very low approval of policies.

    If Romney picks someone like Rubio as the VP the conservatives will be charged up.

    Some reading homework. Go read about ancient Greek culture, Roman culture, and even European culture surrounding the 30 years war. Might be surprised at how things really are not new. Only the faces and places change.

  18. I was talking about being a political genius, Goodmongo. Not about being the best law student.
    And in the case that you can find a really bad speech by him: you would still miss the point.

    First, this is a black non-wealthy senator nobody knew. He ran against Mrs. Clinton. He won. This alone would make him a genius in my opinion.

    Second, he is incredibly good at not making mistakes. And if he does mistakes the only way to find them is to look deep into some republican website. Why? I don't know.

    Third, irrespective of what he actually does, his speeches are a joy to listen to. This is especially true when he is on campaign mode.
    I remember this time he was really under pressure. His pastor had turned out to be racist. Obama responded by having a speech about racism in America during the last 200 years. This speech was fu**ing brilliant in my opinion. Especially due to its content. I have no idea who wrote that speech. Point is Obama got his hands on it and took it to the public.
    He didn't even evade the accusations of racism! he evaporated them and held one of the best political speeches I have ever listened to. Now imagine Romney having such a speech .. . Or Gingrich ... while he announces his latest book.

    Last, why do you think Obama gets so much money from Wall Street? In my humble opinion that's not because they want him to win. It's because they fear he will win ...

  19. With regard to Wilson, Goodmongo, I thought my point made itself. He's rather famous for being elected on an isolationist foreign policy platform - and did indeed try to fulfill his promise to keep the US out of the war for as long as humanly possible. Events trump ideology, and I suspect it would have been thus with the hypothetical Ron Paul in the 1940s - but it is generally a mug's game to pursue hypotheticals like this. I'll just say that I'm unconvinced that his insistence on reeling back back America's imperial sprawl is quite the same as espousing head-in-sand isolationism, nor would the modern system allow him to pursue a purely isolationist foreign policy even if he tried.

    The growth rate in 1947 was flat or lightly negative. While it did rise dramatically in the two quarters before the election, there was a lot of ground to make up for. With inflation, the strikes and shortages of consumer goods, no voter in 1948 voted for Truman on account of his good handling of economy or domestic politics. Actually, there are some remarkable parallels between that election and 2012. The charismatic incumbent is gambling on a campaign against the do-nothing Congress. Romney has much in common with Dewey: awkward and hyper-risk-averse, highly unpopular with the conservative wing of his party. Gingrich and the rest are filling the role of Taft and the lesser conservative contenders adequately.

    I think your fear-of-racist-label idea is absolutely bizarre. From the very beginning, his adversaries have been using 'dangerous foreign black' dog whistles with no shame or compunction, until they realised that that particular brand of stinking mud will not stick to the aloof, intellectual president who would not look out of place in a Roman forum.

    Speaking of which, it's never a bad idea to go back and review antiquity, but I would caution you against assuming that Nils's readers are entirely unfamiliar with it.

  20. There is zero chance that Ron Paul will be president and an extraordinarily tiny chance of getting the Republican nomination.

    There is a good chance Obama will be re-elected. But there is a good chance he won't. E.g., he passed the threshold where the majority polled disapprove of his performance.

    Perhaps Europe will determine the US election. If the economic mess does not get cleaned up, it holds down the worldwide stock markets and economy. A significant turn for the better or worse will effect the economies. And the economy and voters' perception of it is expected to be a very significant part of the election.

  21. the thing that you keep forgetting goodmongo is that Obama has run fairly steady on his approval ratings for about 2 years. The republicans are trending down.

    Carter had a good approval rating because everyone thought he was the most honest moral president we'd had in a century. The common refrain I heard during his entire presidency was, "He's an honest man but he's totally out of his depth." Things like that were stated on TV and editorials. We didn't vote for him because he couldn't get anything done and the Iran Hostage crisis made him look like an incompetent.

    As I said earlier I'm not a strong supporter but whether you like him or hate him Obama has done far more than carter ever did in office. And stayed to the middle while doing it.

    I think the problem the republicans are going to have is that they are selling the middle ground as "unpatriotic socialist country". You obviously disagree but my original point was if the republicans had any cohesion they'd, by historical standards, be a good 15 to 20 points ahead of obama. But they aren't.

    My opinion is that the race will come down the wire. Which is bad for the republicans who are stuck in a moral crusade to save the universe for old people scared of change The republican base will continue to shrink as long as their platform is anti any kind of change.

    The sad thing is while the republicans earn their F the democrats are doing a solid D minus. Ron Paul most likely won't get elected but this is the kind of cycle where it could happen if events hit just right. Both parties are a mess and everyone is tired of them.

    It's really pathetic, we've eliminated diseases that were killing 100's of thousands of people every year,built a world class infrastructure, gone to the moon fought two world wars, defeated the Soviet Union, because of aids research kicked gene research 100 years ahead of where it would have been without aids, invented the internet that lets us communicate across the world in an instant, but if you listen to the republicans one recession is the harbinger of the end.

  22. Second, he is incredibly good at not making mistakes. And if he does mistakes the only way to find them is to look deep into some republican website. Why? I don't know.

    I guess you haven't heard that the MSM is in his pockect and biased.

    @Soresu, Ron Paul himself has stated that he never would have gotten involved in WW2. And he also said that he never would have cut off oil or steel to Japan as this was their motive to attack us. In fact he said this year that he never would have killed Bin Laden and thinks it was illegal to go after him. Oh and maybe you need to see some of his prior writings, the racist ones.

    As for 2012 being like 1948? Stop spouting the dem talking points. Or were you unaware that the dems and Harry Reid control the senate? And it was not 2 quarters but a full year before the 1948 election that the economy was improbving. Growth rates for those 4 quarters were 2.9, 4.9, 5.6 and 5.9% (US Dept. of Commerce). Much better then what is expected for 2012.

    @Sam ever look at the details of those approval rating? You know the part that breaks them down my race, gender and age? The only reason his approval is in the low to mid 40's, and you can go to Gallup to verify this, is because black support remains at 87-90%. his approval on actual policies are worse than his personal approval.

    As for people having fear of being called racist is because over the last three years if you challenged Obama on anything you faced the race card. Just watch MSNBC and almost every night they say that Obama's opponents are doing it out of racism. So people learn. They were practically forced into saying that they like him but don't agree with his policy.

    And exactly WHAT has Obama done, especially for the middle? The stimulus was a complete failure and hardly anyone likes Obamacare, not to mention it going to the SC where it most likely will be overturned at in part. If the middle really liked Obamacare then why did Scott Brown win in Massachuchets of all places? He won because he campainged that he would be the 41st vote to stop it.

    republicans had any cohesion they'd, by historical standards, be a good 15 to 20 points ahead of obama.

    Sam, statements like that are just plain false. No one in all US history a year out from reelection has been 15 points down. It has NEVER happened. In fact the biggest hole an incumbent president running for reelection has been in was just 4 points one year out. I know you may think this but it just isn't true. lets stick to facts please. And if I'm wrong state the race and poll, but I know you can't because it never happened.