View Full Version : Ron Paul Roundup (11-07-07)

11-07-2007, 11:59 AM
Ron Paul Roundup (11-07-07)
by RS Davis (http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=194780914&blogID=326370895&Mytoken=E0D52281-BC19-453A-90441F9FAEA9A86327593719)

Hello Freedomphiles! This is practically going to be another "Money Bomb" edition, because it is all about Guy Fawkes Day. Even when they don't think they are talking about the money bomb, the only reason they are talking about Paul at all is because he raised $4.2 million in one day, setting a fundraising record.

Now, it's going to get nasty. You will see some things in here today that might totally piss you off. By all means, follow the links and comment. But a word of practical advice - logic, reason, economics, and history are on our side. When you have the truth as your ally, you don't have to stoop to base methods of debate, like namecalling and flame wars.

Yesterday you hit Ron Paul with a money bomb. Today, while cruising the fallout, hit his detractors with respectful truth bombs. The meaner and more condescending they get, the nicer you should get. Respond to a slap with a hug, to a punch with a smile, to a hit piece with a friendly reminder of the facts.

That is the way we will win.

Okay, let's get started. We'll get the bad shit out of the way first, and there's no better place to start than with the snarky one-off by CBSNews' Kevin Drum:

But look: can we stop pretending to be political infants, even if we happen to be bored this week? It's cheap and easy to take extreme, uncompromising positions when you have no actual chance of ever putting them into practice, so Paul's extreme, uncompromising positions really don't mean a thing. They don't reflect either well or badly on him. They're meaningless, and I wish grown adults who know better would stop pretending otherwise. Ditto for his "record breaking" fundraising day, which is just a function of (a) the growth of the internet as a political money machine and (b) the curious but well-known fact that technophiles are disproportionately libertarian.

But I will say this: if Ron Paul really is suddenly a "serious" candidate, then I expect him to start getting some pointed questions at the next debate. In the last Republican debate I saw, this noted truth-teller gave a strange and convoluted answer about his economic policies that the audience plainly didn't understand. Next time I expect to see some straight talk about how we should return to the gold standard and get rid of the Fed. This should be followed by a question about whether he supports the free coinage of silver at 16:1. Then some questions about the tin trust.

I find the irony delicious. All anyone ever wants to talk about is how money buys elections. That is, until Ron Paul gets some money. And of course there's the whole fact that Kevin Drum has no idea what he is talking about.

An immedeate switch from the Fed's fiat money to a commodity-based currency would throw this country into a recession. One of the things I really like about the Paul campaign is their brilliant idea to avoid this. They would simply introduce a competing, gold-backed currency into the situation, and then let the market decide which - or if both - will survive.

Clearly, I think the gold-backed currency would rule, but this way it would happen as naturally and painlessly as possible. We already have the infrastructure to work with competing foriegn currencies like the Yen, the Canadian dollar, Euros, etc, so there should be no problem in dealing with competing domestic currencies, either.

Does that answer your question, Kev?

Chris Fillizza of The Washington Post had a fair analysis:

Putting aside the semi-creepiness of choosing Guy Fawkes Day to make an online fundraising statement, it's worth looking closely at what Paul's haul means in the broader context of the race.

First and foremost, it's a stunning achievement. Paul was widely seen as a political gadlfy when he entered the race, but through skill, luck or a little of both he has built himself into an Internet phenomenon. Paul raised $5.3 million between July 1 and Sept. 30 -- nearly as much as Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and nearly five times as much as former Gov. Mike Huckabee (Ark.) -- and his one-day take eclipsed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's one-day haul of $3.1 million (although Romney received commitments of $6.5 million).

The practical impact of Paul's surprising fundraising strength is that he will have the money to be on television in early states in a major way from here on out.

He goes on to say that he doesn't know how this support will pan out at the ballot box, and look, our man is still a longshot. But nobody really knows how this support is going to play out. All the polls we've seen so far have been asking Bush voters for whom they will cast their vote. Paul is bringing in Democrats, Independents, Libertarians, etc - we won't know how many votes that will translate to until it is all said and done. I, for one, cannot wait to find out.

The Boston Globe has some insight from Paul himself on how this may play out:

"If someone is willing to send you money and invest all this time and energy, you would think they would invest the energy necessary to register and come and vote," Paul told MSNBC.

Paul noted that many of his supporters are independents and that some states make it easier than others for independents to vote in Republican primaries.

"I think it does depend on the state, it depends on how we spend the money now that we have it in the bank, and how we advertise, and how we motivate the people to come out," he said.

Editor and Publisher, which bills itself as "America's Oldest Journal Covering the Newspaper Industry," is wondering if this money bomb is going to get Dr Paul more respect from the MSM:

Love him or hate him, it's hard to deny that the media has paid little attention to Rep. Ron Paul and his quest for the Republication nomination for president. The libertarian-oriented congressman from Texas -- who is anti-war, anti-immigration and anti-abortion -- got his "Colbert bump" and has been part of most of the GOP debates but has drawn little notice overall, partly because of his standing in the polls and longshot chance at winning the nod.

On the other hand, he has drawn an enthusiastic following and raised a surprising amount of money.

That may change after he raised a record amount of money for any candidate in a single day on the Web yesterday. The New York Times covered it today, though many other mainstream outlets did not.

Well, it's generally a positive piece, but his position is again misrepresented - Ron Paul is not anti-immigration.

Speaking of the rest of the world, the good doctor is making international news, as well. The Guardian UK is also reporting on the money bomb:

Cullen said Paul does not appear to be pulling support away from any of the leading Republican candidates, and that his backing is coming from new or disaffected voters. It's an assessment the Paul campaign does not dispute.

``My hunch would be that a lot of the new donors who are coming in are people who have not been involved in politics,'' said Jonathan Bydlak, Paul's fundraising director.

A check of Paul's Internet support shows a vast array of fans. Libertarian sites sing his praises, as do anti-war veterans and voters angry at the Internal Revenue Service and at what they perceive is government intrusion.

It's a thorough piece, actually. Pretty good stuff. Again, it might be time for a gentle reminder that Paul is not an isolationist, and perhaps we can educate them on the difference between a non-interventionist and an isolationists.

This stuff is to be expected, though. Nobody was paying attention to Paul last week. So, they aren't going to have a nuanced understanding of his positions. Now that they are paying more attention, we need to make sure they are seeing it correctly.

Some, though, don't care about the details - these are not people making honest mistakes, but people who specifically want to discredit Ron Paul (see left) before more people get a good understanding of him. These next few weeks will be very crucial, and these people are going to do everything they can to capsize the boat. We have to meet these people head on.

My man Andrew Sullivan is doing just that today, highlighting some of the more egregious attacks and the more bitter responses:

You will notice the Bushies' defensiveness and smears. As the call to rescue the GOP from big government at home and militaristic belligerence abroad resonates, especially with the next generation, you will hear Paul described as "nutty" and anti-Semitic and fringe and marginal and on and on. A classic anti-Paul post can be found on Powerline, the pro-torture, more-war-please Cheney faction of the blogosphere. Money quote:

Republicans should respond to voters who find Ron Paul appealing with a cold shoulder.

They don't even want the voters and money that Paul is bringing into the GOP - because their power - and the big spending, war-mongering authoritarianism they favor - is threatened by this revival of grass roots conservatism. What I find energizing is how Paul has managed to talk many on the "left" into appreciating the benefits of smaller government and limiting executive power. What they now share with the paleocons and the crunchy cons and the conservatives of doubt is a resistance to and skepticism of the imperial impulse to control countries we do not understand and to indefinitely occupy whole regions of the world to defend ourselves against an enemy that knows no geographical boundaries.

He also goes on to mention one of the stories I was going to bring to you, so now is as good a time as any to do that. Glen Greenwald of Salon.com gives one of the most fair analyses I've yet seen of Dr Paul, and even while it is critical, it is honest and true:

So there is at least something in Paul's worldview for most people to strongly dislike, even hate, if they are so inclined. Yet that apparent political liability is really what accounts for the passion his campaign is generating: it is a campaign that defies and despises conventional and deeply entrenched Beltway assumptions about our political discourse and about what kind of country this is supposed to be.

While Barack Obama toys with the rhetoric of challenging conventional wisdom, Paul's campaign -- for better or worse -- actually does so, and does so in an extremely serious, thoughtful and coherent way. And there are a lot of people who, more than any specific policy positions, are hungry for a political movement which operates outside of our rotted political establishment and which fearlessly rejects its pieties, even if they disagree with some or even many of its particulars.

Moreover, circumstances often dictate political priorities. Individuals who historically may not have been attracted to "limited-government" rhetoric and all of the specifics it traditionally entails may find that ideal necessary now after six years of endless expansions of intrusive federal government power.

Regardless of one's ideology, there is simply no denying certain attributes of Paul's campaign which are highly laudable. There have been few serious campaigns that are more substantive -- just purely focused on analyzing and solving the most vital political issues. There have been few candidates who more steadfastly avoid superficial gimmicks, cynical stunts, and manipulative tactics. There have been few candidates who espouse a more coherent, thoughtful, consistent ideology of politics, grounded in genuine convictions and crystal clear political values. Here is what Jon Stewart said to Paul on The Daily Show:

You appear to have consistent principled integrity. Americans don't usually go for that.

There is never a doubt that Paul actually believes what he is saying, nor is there any doubt that what he believes is the by-product of critical and rational thought grounded in genuine political passion.

That line on The Daily Show cracked my shit up when I first heard it. I swear, whether its being the first to interview Ron Paul or taking Chris Matthew's to task, Jon Stewart is an American Treasure.

Another Salon.com piece is wondering - as you will see many wondering in the coming weeks - who the hell are Ron Paul supporters anyway?

And you can wonder, who are these people? Where did they come from? Is this stream of names some kind of roll call for techno-libertarian America? Because that's supposed to be the explanation for all this, right? Geeks skew libertarian, and so the technically savvy swoon for Paul, a one time Libertarian Party candidate for president. From its initial emergence, the Net has always provided a nurturing home for libertarian sympathizers. That equation may have been diluted as the Internet became more mainstream, but the passion still lingers: In a very straightforward way, the Ron Paul campaign represents the revenge of libertarian cyberspace. We have the technology, we can rebuild society! Better, stronger, less government!

So I started Googling. A Guy Averett in Mesa, Ariz., contributed to Ron Paul on Tuesday morning. There's a Guy Averett in Mesa, Ariz., who builds replicas of Star Wars droids as a hobby. It requires some serious work to get geekier than that...

...So, scratch the Ron Paul roll call, and sure enough, you don't need to go far to run into a libertarian. And since libertarians have traditionally been more at home on the Internet than most people, it shouldn't be too surprising to see a libertarian candidate enjoying fundraising success, particularly once his campaign started gaining real notoriety. But why? Why do libertarians thrive on the Net?


By the nature of their work, programmers count on being able to precisely manipulate reality through their manipulation of code. When it works, when the computer does as it is told, it is an intoxicating experience, as anyone who has written so much as a "Hello World" script knows. Absolute power! It's the best! And if something goes wrong, it's not because there was something wrong with me, it's because there was something wrong with the code. So tweak it, figure out the correct algorithm, and all ambiguity will be erased, all problems solved.

If only such clarity could be applied to human society! If only we could figure out the right set of rules to maximize freedom and prosperity for all. Libertarians take, as a starting point, that the fewest rules, or the least government, result in the cleanest code and the best results. They look at the messiness that is government as currently practiced and they are horrified and enraged. For many Ron Paul supporters, judging by their voluminous comments all over the Web, the Constitution is the code -- or more precisely, a strict constructionist interpretation of the Constitution that doesn't allow for its hijacking by busybodies of the left or right. Get back to basics -- get rid of the cruft, the ambiguities, the illogic. Paul's political positions -- antiwar, states' rights, antiabortion, anti-death penalty, abolish the Federal Reserve, go back to the gold standard -- are clear and unambiguous. The code for expressing those views is easily written.

I honestly hope there are this many dedicated libertarians in the world, but our poll numbers in past elections wouldn't seem to indicate that. It may all be changing, though, as Americans are becoming less enamoured with the megastate. All these years that we libertarians have been warning people that power used by someone you like can also be used by someone you don't like, and finally, we have G-Dub and his neocon cronies in the White House. Maybe they will listen to us in the future.

Yeah, and maybe Barbara Streissand will club a baby seal. I think libertarians may be destined to simply be the Cassandras of the American Political system.

Anyway, in keeping with the theme of who the hell are Ron Paul supporters, let's look now to SignOnSanDiego.com (did you know that San Diego is German for "a whale's vagina?"), where Chris Reed describes the Ron Paul Revolutionistas as "libertarian lite:"

Ron Paul -- Ron Paul! RON PAUL! -- yesterday recorded the biggest single day of fund raising by any Republican candidate ever.

I realize that a lot of this has to do with Paul being the strongest anti-war candidate in the race. But a lot of it also has to do with the fact that he fills another political void, too.

There is a huge group of Americans who have no comfortable home in either major party: the tens of millions of us who are fiscal conservatives skeptical of government -- people who will never warm to Dems -- but also a group which is deeply uncomfortable with religious conservatives' sway over the GOP and who don't like the authoritarian streak in the Bush administration.

I hope he's right. In the meantime, reason magazine's David Weigel is talking about David Frum's complete lack of understanding:

Meanwhile, David Frum's take on Paul's 11/5 fundraising is really stupendously wrong. Here's his first argument.

It is worth recalling that in the much lower-intensity race of 2000, Ralph Nader raised over $8 million for his presidential bid. It would be interesting to know how many of today's Paul donors were Nader donors then... the United States is a very big and rich country, and that its political fringes are likewise big and rich.

The "Paulites=Naderites" bit is too silly to address, but comparing $8m over one year with $4.3m in one day—that's not apples and oranges, it's apples and nuclear submarines. And if you start from January 2007, Paul has raised $15.5m. He's probably going to triple Nader's haul by the end of the campaign. And Nader was an internationally famous consumer activist with 40 years in the spotlight. When this campaign started Paul was an obscure congressman who'd occasionally light up the House floor at 11 p.m.

Howard Dean in 2004 attracted 318,000 individual donors who donated 454,000 times for a total of almost $40 million... True, Dean did not do it in one day. But almost all that money arrived in a single quarter.

No, he didn't. He raised $2.6m in the first quarter (of 2003), $7.6m in the second quarter, $14.8m in the third quarter, and $16m in the fourth quarter.

My conclusion from this is that Ron Paul is actually underperforming his potential. I'd guess that he would do much better if he dropped the gold standard stuff, and ran a pure anti-war campaign, spicily seasoned with 9/11 paranoia.

And Dr. Paul, when did you stop beating your wife? Frum's missing out on one of the campaign's big surprises: people actually respond to the "gold standard stuff." I have a few theories why, but I'm still shocked when I see hundreds of college students whooping when a presidential candidate pledges to kill the Fed.

Of course I am saddened to discover that many thousands of Americans have rallied to a candidate campaigning on a Michael Moore view of the world.

Yes, just like Michael Moore. Coming next Fall: Michael Moore's Recess. America's favorite guerilla filmmaker makes the case for abolishing the Department of Education!

Okay, check out some bullshit from Jeremy Pelofsky of Reuters:

Republican presidential longshot Ron Paul became an Internet fund-raising sensation this week by bringing in $4.3 million in 24 hours through a Web drive by supporters.

The fund-raising by Paul, a Texas congressman who is the only Republican to oppose the Iraq war and who has argued for a limited government, was almost as much he took in from July to September. During that time period, he raised $5 million.

But Paul has been outpaced by Republican rivals who have raised tens of millions of dollars. Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, raked in more than $6.5 million during a daylong telephone marathon in January.

Seriously. Do some fact checking, dude. The $6.5 million were pledges, not donations. If Jeremy worked a chicken-counting house, he'd surely be fired for counting pre-hatched chickens.

Sheldon Alberts writes on The National Post about Ron's supporters:

What gives? Analysts say Mr. Paul's mad-as-hell message has struck a chord with a motley group of devout Internet followers, predominantly from the Republican party's disaffected libertarian wing.

They include economic protectionists, fiscal conservatives who recoil at Bush-era overspending, foreign policy "non-interventionists" and small-government types who support Mr. Paul's plans to shut down the federal education, homeland security and energy departments.

"Every family has a crazy uncle which they tend to isolate, but the beauty of the Internet is all the crazy uncles in the country can find each other," says Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

I guess I'm a crazy uncle, then. Before you lambast Sheldon, remember, he didn't say that - and it's incredibly quote-worthy. To see another side of Sheldon, look at my final entry today, a piece he wrote for Canada.com called Republican Ron Paul: Who's Laughing Now?

During the early Republican presidential debates last spring and summer, the leading GOP candidates treated Texas congressman Ron Paul a bit like a libertarian nutbar. He was someone to be tolerated or mocked - and even the Fox News moderators acted like he was a distraction to endure until they could ask the big guns important questions.

The U.S. media, it must be said, initially treated him something like the Republican Dennis Kucinich - an interesting oddball, but an oddball nonetheless.

Why? Because alone among the Republican candidates, Paul is strongly against the war in Iraq and is highly critical of an American military presence anywhere in the Middle East.

During a debate in South Carolina last summer, Rudy Giuliani played schoolyard bully when Paul said he believes the causes of anti-Americanism in the Middle East are rooted in U.S. foreign policy.

Paul stood his ground. And he's clearly found a following - if not among Republican voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, then among the libertarian right and (perhaps) the anti-war left on the Internet...

...And he's got a strong following among economic conservatives furious with President Bush's big-spending habits over the past seven years. It may be that Paul's supporters are not concentrated enough to help in the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3. And he still doesn't have enough money to last much beyond Iowa or New Hampshire if he doesn't pull decent numbers in early January voting.

But he's dangerous enough that Republican insiders are worried, at least a little bit, about a third-party candidacy in 2008 that could bleed votes from the party's nominee. Here's the column I wrote recently in the National Post about Paul. Judging from the letters it generated - even from readers south of the border - his followers are intensely motivated and easily stirred up.

11-07-2007, 12:09 PM
Very nice. I had read many, but not all of those pieces.

11-07-2007, 12:37 PM
Very nice. I had read many, but not all of those pieces.

Thanks! I do one of those almost every day on my blog, as well as other stories of a libertarian nature.

- Rick