Ron Paul could solve the deficit, but most will not buy his total program…

October 19, 2011

Even though I find the full Libertarian program impractical and not always representative of my own interests, there is a certain appeal to the ideas of Ron Paul, and sometimes I think that it is too bad he can’t break into the mainstream of presidential candidates, instead of being just a fixture at the debates (or so-called debates).

He is the only candidate that if he got his way would slash the budget and cut down on the deficit — I mean he wants to dismantle a large part of the administrative branch — that ought to save some money.

What I like best is that while he spouts off a lot of stuff that sounds conservative, unlike the mainstream conservatives that never saw a war they didn’t like (unless Obama has anything to do with it) because it makes Uncle Sam seem tough, Paul sees the current military engagements as needless and in fact unconstitutional.

And I should stop right here and note that the question of whether the president of the United States can unilaterally dispatch troops and get us involved in war has never really been resolved. Some argue that the Constitution only allows the president to ask for a declaration of war from congress and requires congress to pass such a declaration.

The case gets muddled in the reality is that there are military engagements that are short of war and the president as commander-in-chief of the armed forces needs the ability to act in a timely fashion.

It also gets muddled in the fact that if congress passes things like the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (that was used for Vietnam) and whatever the resolution was called for Bush’s War on Terror, then essentially it has passed a declaration of war.

(Just did some quick on-line research and I think the reality of things is that the president has wide latitude to dispatch troops, at least in an emergency, which he of course would define as such, and then congress, if nothing else, has the power of the purse over whether to fund military operations. But of course once something is done it is hard to stop — see my comment on my P.s. P.s. at the bottom.)

Most confusing of all is that since World War II we have come up with the question of: when is a war over? The old definition is when one side attains victory and the enemy is vanquished. We don’t seem to do that anymore. Wars become open ended.

But anyway, from what he says, Paul would bring our armed forces back home, not only from the current battlefields but from places such as South Korea and Germany where there is no war.

I’ve heard the argument that just because you bring troops home you do not necessarily save money because you still have to pay for them. Now if ever there was a specious argument, that is one. First it has to cost more to pay for troops and ordnance expended overseas and all that goes with it and it has to be more expensive to have troops billeted around the world. Second, if we are not fighting a war, we could reduce the size of the armed forces.

I am not for gutting the armed forces as the U.S. did between World War I and World War II or even after Vietnam. I would think we should maintain a fairly hefty troop strength made up of an experienced cadre of professional soldiers. We should be ready at all times. Nonetheless the force could be smaller.

We also have a lot of technology these days that does not involve actual ground troops, so that helps.

I am beginning to think, however, that there ought to be a compulsory military draft of all young people (not sure if women should be included), with them serving probably two years of active duty and then be on call for a number of years (this could do a lot for curbing youth unemployment).

I am fairly sure we would never fight another unnecessary and costly war if all people had to serve. The president and congress would face pressure.

I don’t mean to somehow conflate what I have written here with Paul’s platform. These are totally my thoughts and words.

I do think Paul could solve a lot of our problems, but I also think he can never get elected because hardly anyone wants to follow the austere and somewhat scary approach of libertarianism, where you have maximum freedom but you are all on your own. You have to remember although he calls for saving money, he and his ilk think that if you want police, you hire them. Want your house fire put out? you hire the fire department (done in some rural areas even today), you want medical care? better have your own bucks, lose your job? you better have quite a nest egg, and so on.

On the other hand, if you want to solve the deficit problem and quit expending money overseas (just adding to the national debt), Paul could do it — that is if he could get the American people behind him and thus get congress to go along. Won’t happen.

P.s.

Although I would think Libertarians generally take a hands-off approach to government involvement business and personal finance, at last night’s GOP debate I heard Paul say that the government bailed out the perpetrators (Wall Street) in the 2008 financial crisis instead of helping  the victims (the American people). Sometimes Paul takes a kind of populist approach, and that I think has given him a lot of mileage

P.s. P.s.

Anytime one calls for pulling out of a military involvement the war lovers say you are not supporting the troops, mixing up the need to ship supplies to troops in the field with overall policy (apples and oranges) — it is of course a rhetorical trap in which you can never not support an ongoing war, whether that war makes any sense or not, or no matter how we got into it, such as under false pretences or a mistake.


Ron Paul gets little respect because his politics don’t quite fit into the traditional left/right mold…

October 18, 2011

Even though he is the top money raiser in the second tier of candidates and even though he wins straw polls, Republican (really Libertarian) presidential candidate Ron Paul is not respected by the mainstream media.  A new research study shows that he only gets 2 percent of the coverage (however that is figured).

Why?

My take on it is that he does not fit neatly into or fit at all into the traditional right/left narrative of politics. He is nominally a Republican (and nearly all Republicans these days consider themselves conservative, thus right wing), but he was originally Libertarian, and I guess still is.

Libertarians scare or bother both hard-core left-wing and right-wing people. While they as a group usually seem to fall into the conservative category, they can be more liberal than the most ultra liberals in some instances. They don’t believe that government should have any business dictating people’s lifestyles — they essentially believe in gay rights and the right to use drugs. And it is my understanding that they essentially believe in open borders. While I don’t think that means they want people pouring into the U.S. to get onto welfare, they do want labor to move freely into the country.

But while Libertarians can seem pretty liberal, they scare the dickens out of anyone who thinks government should help people. Actually true Libertarians, as far as I know, don’t think government should do much more than keep records of who owns what and, I think they do believe it should provide for the common defense. But Paul and other Libertarians don’t think we have any business fighting these wars as a tool of foreign policy. I believe they would only support wars that are in our direct defense, such as if we were attacked on our own soil (okay we were attacked on 9/11, but it was a terrorist incident, not a full-scale armed invasion).

But while leftists and/or anti-war folks might like that last thing, they would not care for the following:

Libertarians don’t even believe in public police departments or fire departments. They do not favor public education and they are for sure against any kind of government-supported health care. Paul is a medical doctor and his feeling it is up to patients to pay, either directly out of their own pocket or with the help of private insurance or family members or non-governmental charity.

Libertarians also do not believe in public parks. That is a turn off right there to me.

Paul says a lot of things that seem to make sense, but even non-political people or non-political scientists use some frame of  reference when they go to vote or decide on political issues, I think, and the Libertarian view is hard to fit into the traditional American frame of reference. But that is not to say it might not catch on when people see the same old same old from the other candidates.

P.s.

I repeat what I have said many times before: the far left and the far right both actually believe in strong government, they just want it to do different things. The right wants it to protect personal wealth and to preserve a social status quo and the left wants it to redistribute wealth to the benefit of all.

The story about Paul’s lack of news coverage:

http://news.yahoo.com/ron-paul-media-blackout-confirmed-133943628.html


Time to move beyond religion and personal lifesytle and onto legitimate public policy…

August 14, 2011

UPDATE 1:

Tim Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota, is the first Republican casualty among the presidential candidates. He dropped out is the news this Sunday morning. Apparently his low-key style did not attract enough attention. Actually, I read the quote of one Iowa straw poll voter who said he liked Pawlenty but he wants to see what Rick Perry is all about. I would not know who Pawlenty was if he came to my front door (and apparently I didn’t even have his name down pat — I called him Tom instead of Tim in an earlier version of this post). That just doesn’t work in politics, not me not knowing him, but the public not knowing.You have to make a lot of noise or at least someone has to make it for you.

UPDATE 2:

So Michele Bachman won Saturday’s Iowa presidential straw poll. But the news among the pundits was that Rick Perry, governor of Texas, is in the race for president and even picked up a few hundred votes in the poll as a write in. Libertarian Ron Paul came in second. Interesting, but few among the professional political watchers give the winner and the runner-up a chance for the real contest. I imagine the Republicans will have to field someone who does not come off as too edgy or out of the mainstream, even if the public is sour on the mainstream (a contradiction I know) and probably not someone with the twang of a Southern bible-belt tent preacher, and someone with a coherent plan for public policy, other than no taxes (although no taxes is always popular) and don’t let homosexuals marry one another. While I admit that it might be wise to make sure we are spending our current tax money in a prudent and efficient manner before we raise taxes, that is largely subjective and that alone will not solve our economic problems. And keeping homosexuals from getting married solves nothing. Maybe some of these people just don’t have real ideas about balancing the budget and improving the economy and getting people back to work, that is other than no new taxes and to get rid of all those pesky government regulations on business such as clean water and air requirements and worker safety requirements, and requirements that financial transactions be on the up and up.

—————–

ADD 1: This is a scary thought, but I think the elites and moderates in politics and government, whom we all have depended upon, have so let us down by their pandering or cowering before the extremists that a desperate or disgruntled electorate might vote in someone who is not well versed in history, world geography and geopolitical concerns,  governance,  politics in general, and even the fundamentals of American democracy. We could actually wind up with someone as bad or worse than George W. Bush.

——————————————————————————————————

While I have not had a chance to digest all the Republican aspirants to the presidency, and I really want to with an open mind, right now, from what I have heard and read so far, I would say that despite the fact that President Obama’s poll ratings are down and he seems to have alienated some of his base and the far left, if one of the Republican crazies gets nominated, he probably has smooth sailing.

It’s just hard to take Michele Bachman seriously. And yet it is serious that she and others are carrying the cross of  Christianity with them on the stump — they are not running to be head of the church, but the president of the United States of America which is supposed to have religious freedom, but which is not supposed to have a state-sponsored religion.

Many pundits seem to think that once the dust settles Mitt Romney (a Mormon, not a Christian) will run away with it and others see Texas governor Rick Perry (an evangelical Christian), who just officially entered the race today, as the one the Republicans might turn to.

All I really know about Romney is that I can’t stand his fake smarmy smile and his duplicity, his style of just putting his finger to the wind to see which way it is blowing and then going that way. And worst of all he thinks corporations are human beings and have individual rights as you and I. The only way that corporations are individuals is in a narrow legal interpretation of the 14th Amendment that has to do with their standing in civil cases. The far right-wing hand-picked majority of the Supreme Court has given a wide interpretation to that and has gone far beyond what has been understood heretofore. But bottom line, Romney thinks that corporations should run the country. That basically makes him a fascist. I think if you look at the history of fascism in Italy in World War Two and Nazism in Germany in the same time period you will see what I mean.

Rick Perry I know almost nothing about, except that he suggested that maybe Texas should secede from the United States — I thought that was settled in 1865 when the North won the Civil War. I also have read that as the longest-serving governor of Texas he is credited with doing great things for that state’s economy. And I also have read that he has drastically cut government services there.

I wish that presidential candidates would keep their religion to themselves (except as voters we do want to know what if any religion they claim to adhere to). I for one have little to no interest in their religion (except I want to know what it is) unless they want to push it on me or tailor their policies to fit their own brand of religion, in which case I would surly not vote for such a candidate. Now I suppose if a candidate is a born-again Christian and he or she wants to let others of that ilk know that he or she is one of them in order to garner votes, that is okay, but it won’t get my vote.

But I will stop here and say that historically Christianity has been the main religion in the United States. And just as I would not vote for someone who makes a big deal about being Christian, I would certainly not vote for an adherent to Islam. I see how they handle most things around the world and I don’t care for it. What a conundrum.

Really, organized religion seems to be behind much of the strife in the world. Maybe it is not the religions in and of themselves that cause so much of the problems, but individual interpretations of them and human jealously and opportunists who use religion as an excuse to get their way, through that is kind of like the argument that guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

But, any way, there is much fear and discontent what with the current economic situation in the United States and the world.

It is exciting to watch how this will all play out.

I for one would like to see change — Obama did not come through with it (except Obamacare and it is difficult to know at this time what that amounts to).  I don’t know why for sure. And if he is replaced we might well see real change.

But will we like it?


Republicans have time on their side, that’s about it

February 27, 2009

(Copyright 2009)

You gotta hand it to crusty old Ron Paul, Republican (but libertarian) congressman from Texas. Regardless of whether you agree with his libertarian philosophy, surely he hit the nail on the head explaining the current dilemma faced by conservative Republicans.

With the new Democratic president, Barack Obama,  being the most liberal of liberal, they could tout their counter ideology. But they’ve lost their credibility.

Paul says they (not him) lost it by supporting George W. Bush for eight years, a president who claimed to be conservative, but did not seem to be when spending was concerned. And isn’t that what conservatives pride themselves in being? tight with money, prudent, business like.

He is hopeful that conservatives are reassessing their mistakes and trying to get back to their roots. He also claims that young people flock to his conservative/libertarian message and that he has great hope in that regard for the future.

And here is where traditional American conservatives seem to part ways with Paul and his libertarianism. Paul is against foreign military entanglements, such as the one we are involved in the Middle East (Iraq and Afghanistan).

(And I have to stop right here and say that  through the years in my contacts with various proclaimed libertarians, including an obscure presidential candidate, I have seen most of them as a little “eccentric” shall we say? a little off? outright nut cases? To be fair I’ve only met a handful and I should not be so judgmental. But I love how they confound both liberals and conservatives. Libertarians agree with conservatives that taxes need to be cut and/or kept low, but they do not believe that the government should be able to restrict personal decisions such as abortion and taking drugs. They are more supportive of small and limited government than conservatives. They also confound liberals, because many of their positions on social issues are considered liberal, but they do not see government as an instrument of social change or even social welfare. In my understanding, libertarians see government as the great record keeper of who owns what in order to keep order in society.)

While Republicans in general today were finding favor with President Obama’s decision to basically continue the Bush program of prolonged withdrawal from Iraq (with a caveat that we can always spring back into action), Paul was not shouting hooray.

Paul said we had no business going to war in Iraq. He said we bombed their homes and killed their people and that is why they hate us (and I add – remember Iraq did not attack us).

As for Obama’s increase in troop strength in Afghanistan, he sees it as total folly as well.

“Osama bin Laden’s strategy has been to bankrupt us and he has achieved that,” Paul said.

My own opinion is that our irresponsible fiscal policy (which can be blamed on both major parties and all entities, government and business and individuals) and a natural boom and bust business cycle is what has caused our present economic crisis. Certainly, the extremely expensive military actions we have been conducting have contributed or exacerbated the problem.

We don’t and should not base our military decisions solely on affordability – supposedly when we make a decision to strike militarily it is directly or indirectly based on our own security (I always have hard time swallowing the idea that we fight for world freedom – that is a side benefit, we hope).

If we decide that it is in our defensive interests to strike (or strike back) militarily, while we do have to figure out how to finance our actions, the assumption must be that we have no choice and will find the money because our own survival depends upon it (a war tax?).

But today, a Democrat is president with a big mandate behind him.

Ron Paul as far as I know has been consistent through the years. The other Republicans have not and that is what is hurting them today.

The Republican Party is in search of an identity. It needs to divorce itself once and for all from one of the most disastrous presidencies in our history and move on.

To Republicans I say: don’t worry, Obama has such a daunting task ahead of him there is no way to know whether he can be successful, and the American people are not generally patient, and the voters have short memories anyway.


Wall Street addiction cure: Just say No…

September 22, 2008

(Copyright 2008)

The WALTHER REPORT

By Tony Walther

Congressmen. Please. Just say no to the bailout of Wall Street.

In my last blog I wrote that part of me wants to just say no to the president’s latest proposal to bail out Wall Street and cost the taxpayers at least a trillion dollars.

Now, less than 24 hours later, I say, all of me wants to say that.

In reality, I do not understand economics or Wall Street ways enough to know for certain what should be done. But common sense (something I have never been accused of having, but I think I really do have, just don’t always use it) tells me that if the free market works, let the free market work. We will need to clamp down with reasonable regulations, ones that we have previously dropped, but there always has to be rules in any game.

Something I just read on another blog went like this: thanks to folks like Sen. Joe Biden, who is I believe beholding to credit card companies and such, it is more difficult for average folks to file bankruptcy. It used to be people would file bankruptcy, but be allowed to keep their house. Now people who can’t file bankruptcy due to tighter rules, just walk away from the house. The result is the plethora of foreclosures which has led to this whole financial crisis.

And John McCain is in tight with all those who pushed for deregulation in the financial sector, which also led to all of this. And Barack Obama was in tight with Fannie Mae, I understand, which was mismanaged and led to all of this.

I am now in the camp of Ron Paul, the Libertarian, masquerading as a Republican. He proposes a real free market economy where capital is generated by savings not phony paper. He also does not think we should be fighting wars of choice.

Now I once blogged that I liked what Libertarians say, but usually they are either eccentric or out and out nutcases. Well, I still think they often come across that way – but they make so much sense.

Ron Paul, of course will not be elected president. I assume either John McCain or Barack Obama will be elected.

I prefer Obama over McCain, but in many respects I think that the two are more alike than they are unalike. The reason I say that is that they are stuck with the conventional thinking, it’s just that one is more aligned with top-down Republicanism and one with bottom-up Democratism.

I heard one congressman this morning on C-Span saying that there should be no rush for the current Wall Street rescue package that the world will not come to an end if they take a week or more. I second that. I would prefer they do nothing and let Wall Street stew in its own juices. And actually I think the big money boys are clever and could pull themselves out of this mess without the help of the government. I’m sure it’s the common folk who will suffer, either way. But if there is to be a rescue plan, take it easy, feel your way through this thing congress.

Another disturbing thing I read today is that regional banks who did not take part in the Wall Street mess are going to suffer because of changes being made, something to do with the elimination of the last two investment banks (turning themselves into bank holding companies). I do not understand this, but that is the way things go. The wrongdoers get rewarded and the right doers suffer.

In summary, I am for doing nothing or very little, and Libertarianism sounds better to me all the time. My one big reservation with Libertarianism is personal, because I soon will be in need of universal health care since I won’t be able to keep paying my private insurance. I know that Libertarians don’t go in for that sort of thing. On the other hand, if the economy were run under Libertarian principles and one adhered to them in his own personal life, one might not be in need of universal health care (and besides, as I also blogged previously, I am not hard and fast on any one ideology, except my belief in representative democracy and our Bill of Rights). I can’t go back in time. And of course I am just writing all of this off the top of my head. But I have lived long enough to see both the Republicans and Democrats at work and the results, and you know, they come up with about the same thing.


Leading the people on…

July 4, 2008

(Copyright)

The WALTHER REPORT

By Tony Walther

The phones are working today. My computer files seem to be intact. And I’m not dealing with bureaucracy, because, for one reason, it’s a holiday, the Fourth of July. So, Happy Birthday America! Got the flag flying out front, which it has been doing since before Memorial Day when the wife purchased it (made in the USA).

If you read my previous blog, you know what the first three sentences were about.

Now today, I should be writing something super patriotic and inspirational, but I’ve already got a late start, so I’ll just cheat a little and run the blog I managed to retrieve from my file. I hope it doesn’t read too negative. And you will note, if you bother to read further, that I have used the term “nut case” several times. Maybe that term was too harsh. So, if you want, just read it as “eccentric.”

And now the resurrected blog, with maybe a few updates:

I really don’t want to vote for either John McCain or Barack Obama for president now that I have read of all of their inconsistencies out on the stump.

Sadly, I have to agree, politicians will say or do anything in their quest to get elected. In fact, they are forced to by the fact that they need votes to get elected and unless they say what people want to hear, they’re not likely to get their votes, that is, perhaps, unless voters are voting against the other candidate.

So, in the end, we’re asked to vote for the lesser of two evils or the liar we prefer.

And we really only have two choices, Republican or Democrat.

I mean, could you ever see a Libertarian candidate making it? No. One good reason for that is that they are usually nut cases (okay, eccentric), living in their own version of reality. If you happen to be a Libertarian, sorry to offend you, but I’m just going off of personal observation through the years. Maybe you’re an exception.

I actually interviewed a Libertarian presidential candidate once, although I can’t remember his name. At that same time, I had been covering a local election in the Sacramento suburbs in which an eccentric doctor (well actually, he may have been a nut case) was running for an officially non-partisan office, a county supervisor spot, sometimes called county commissioner in other states. He was a Libertarian.

Now at the time, and even now sometimes, I could agree in general with the Libertarian approach which really confounds those who see things as either conservative or liberal, because Libertarians are both at the same time and neither one.

But, who cares about all of that? Libertarians are usually nut cases (sorry, again). Sure they sound good sometimes, for awhile, but the ones who are true to their ideals don’t believe in having city police departments or even publicly supported fire fighters. And they don’t believe in public parks, among other things.

But, I like Ron Paul’s stances on a lot of things. He is the Libertarian who decided to run for president as a Republican, probably concluding no one would take him seriously as a Libertarian candidate (and despite internet money raising success, he still didn’t get much attention), because, well, Libertarian candidates are never considered seriously.

Oh, and remember Ross Perot? I stood a few feet away from him on the capitol steps in Sacramento when he was running for president on the so-called Independent Party ticket. Before he was introduced he was peeking around the corner of a pillar waving to some folks, big ears and all – 0oh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don’t – I’ve come and gone and, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step, cut a little swath and lead the people on (lyrics by Carol Hall). Yall, I had to drop out of the race because they was going to interrupt my lil darlin’s weddin. But I was for widdlin down big guvament, especially after I made so much money off of it in my computer business contracts, and I was against NAFTA, but for a special free trade airport me and my son was developin.

Sorry about that, I’m back – Come to think of it, the one thing that the Libertarian presidential candidate, whose name I can’t recall, told me that made sense was that they know they can’t get elected president any time soon (and that was more than a decade ago), but that if they work at the grass roots level and get elected to local offices they can build from there. The other guy, running for county supervisor at that time, well, he lost.

Today, so-called maverick McCain has decided to basically support Bush policies, and though I loved what he said about we ought to be ashamed for condoning torture, he flip flopped on that – he now supports it (as long as he’s not the recipient – been there, done that). And Obama is running to the center, flip flopping on many things such as his original stance against domestic spying – he now supports wire tapping our phone calls and computers and giving the phone companies immunity in doing so, and while he campaigned against free trade, he now says some of that was “overheated rhetoric” and it’s old news that he had secretly (although you can’t keep secrets too well, thanks to blogs) assured some Canadians that his words against NAFTA were not sincere (just for local audiences). 0oh I love to dance a little sidestep, now they see me now they don’t – I’ve come and gone and, ooh I love to sweep around the wide step, cut a little swath and lead the people on.

(Obama attempted to explain his wire tap turnaround in a blog Thursday in the Huffington Post — should I go into the side step song again? And out on the stump, Obama also seemed to give conflicting statements about his position that he would pull troops out of Iraq. On that one, I would think he would have to make the decision only after he is elected, if he is elected. So we won’t go into the side-step routine.)

Bob Barr, the congressman who led the impeachment move against President Clinton, heavily criticizing Bill’s sleazy sexual antics in the White House, is said to have engaged in his own sexual antics during at least one public gathering and reading about his political positions, he seems to be the king of flip flop and side step (you can look that up on Wikipedia and other sites). Barr is running for president as a Libertarian.

Now back in 1980, I cast my vote for John Anderson. The other choices were a B movie-grade-actor looking to become the leading man in the biggest show ever, that would be Ronald Reagan, and the ineffectual, but highly educated peanut farmer from Georgia, Jimmy Carter, running for re-election. I forget what Anderson stood for, but he sounded reasonable and credible to me at the time.

But in our system the deck is stacked against third party candidates.

What I would really like to see is a series of formal one-on-one debates between McCain and Obama – not panels, not town hall meetings, but arguments where the participants are on their own and have to make formal openings and use evidence to support their arguments and have to respond directly to their opponent and not go off on a tangent to change the subject. If you can’t hold your own in a real debate, then you shouldn’t be running for president. And it doesn’t matter who the pundits say wins a debate, because the voters are free to make their own decision in that regard and act accordingly.

And the more polished debater, and one would expect Mr. Obama to be that, does not always win in the voters’ eyes or maybe voters don’t always look for who won in strict debating points, but who they can most identify with in political philosophy.

If in doubt, I say write in Alfred E. Neuman (What Me Worry). And where is Harold Stassen when we need him?