December 31, 2007

You Say You Want a Revolution?

Rep. Ron Paul graces the cover of Reason magazine this month, and the good Doctor gets a positive story inside by Brian Dougherty. The Wall Street Journal reports that the campaign raised $19 million in the fourth quarter.

I have been dismissive of the campaign, suggesting that the support has been quirky. I called the one-day fundraising records "gimmicks." After reading the Reason article, it occurs to me that I need to address why I will not be joining the Ron Paul Revolution. In a way, I have been waiting many years for such a candidate. "I don't want to run your life. I don't want to run the world." Shrink the government to its Constitutional size and purview. Why am I not onboard?

I guess my problem is the Constitution that Rep. Paul so ably defends. I agree with Paul on 80% of the issues. I agree with President George Bush on far less, I agree with Mayor Giuliani on less. Don't you pick the candidate with whom you most agree?

I'd open Ron's well-thumbed Constitution to Article I. The things with which I disagree most are clearly under Executive power. President Paul could close all our bases in the MidEast between Jell-O shots at the first Inauguration Ball. (This is not to say that he would drink Jell-O shots or close all our bases, but he could.)

President Nixon took us off Bretton Woods; I'm guessing that President Paul could put us back on a gold peg by Executive Order or indirectly through his nomination of a Fed Chairman. So, he takes a break from the nude Twister® game at the second Inaugural Ball, and he has already instituted the two policies I object to. We've withdrawn from the War on Terror and gone mettalist. And Sally Quinn is still sober! (This is not to say that President Paul would be playing nude Twister at an Inaugural Ball, but he could!)

The hangovers have worn off, and President Paul takes the rest of his ambitious agenda (the 80% I like) to the 111th Congress. He sits down with Majority Leader Reid and Speaker Pelosi and explains "we’re going to stop collecting taxes and paying welfare." "We're going to take all the young people off Social Security, Harry." "We're going to stop SCHIP, Nancy, It's not constitutional."

Am I the only one who remembers the howls from the AARP and the Republican controlled Congress when President Bush asked "Pretty please, could we take a couple of percent of young workers' withholdings for private accounts?" How about when President Bush wanted to expand SCHIP by only $35 billion." Dead. On. Arrival. He could veto some bills, but the 535 wanna-be-incumbents would plow him down.

All the stuff I don't want, none of what I do.

2008 Race Posted by John Kranz at December 31, 2007 1:10 PM

Of all the candidates who will provide gridlock, Ron Paul is the one who will. My friend Billy Beck is right to ask what will prevent Congress from laughing in Paul's face for four years. Meanwhile, Paul will have a serious face as he vetoes just about everything Congress sends him. Paul is the man who could finally give some Constitutional balls to the GOP, not only about spending, but about the extent of federal powers as a concept.

Odds are that Congress would override most of Paul's vetoes, laughing as they prepare to tell their constituents how much more bacon they're bringing home. If the American people then laugh at Paul's foolishness, very well. It will prove that we don't deserve the liberty that our forefathers fought for us to have. What's the alternative, a president like GWB who will "compromise" on just about everything, so that he'll avoid looking "weak" to the American people when the news continually reports on the veto overrides? Even Michelle Malkin understands the problem of compromise, which I've said before: compromise really means "watch your wallet."

Ron Paul isn't talking about returning us to a gold standard via executive power. He's talking about returning us to Constitutional money, which will require undoing what the executive branch has done, and Congress passing a law (which Paul has repeatedly introduced) to disband the Fed. Article I, Section 8 states that Congress shall have power "To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures." There's no provision for a Federal Reserve, or any other quasi-private entity to whom we pay interest while it rapes our money.

Oh, and don't give Nixon too much credit. FDR was the one who started things by forcible confiscation of gold. By the end of WW2, it was evident that the world needed to return to sound money. But while Bretton Woods was a monetary system with a great basis on gold, it was so "managed" that it was the equivalent of NAFTA and free trade. NAFTA is freer trade, but not free trade.

As C-in-C, any president has every bit of discretion to close our military bases. Alternatively, Congress has the power to withhold funding from the military. (Charlie Rangel was right, but there's that old saying about stopped clocks.) That's how the checks and balances really work. It's not about absurd "compromise," but about one branch saying to another, "No, that's against the Constitution, so I won't let you do that."

The Founders' intent was that Congress pass *specific* bills about spending specific amounts on specific things, and the President could then veto such bills. Even if Congress overrode the veto, the President could still choose not to exercise the law. The Founders had great wisdom, knowing it's preferable to have government doing too little than a government doing too much.

Andrew Jackson reputedly claimed, "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it!" This sounds similar to what I've expressed above, but it was actually unconstitutional. Jackson wasn't refusing to execute a law, but rather using federal powers that the legislative and executive branch decided they had, though the judiciary ruled they did not have such authority.

By the way, I've still never heard anyone provide a good explanation as to why we still have a military presence in Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 3, 2008 3:30 PM

The gridlock would be awesome. I'll gladly cede that point. My point is that the sweeping changes he promotes -- and that I support -- would have zero chance of surviving a veto.

I think Rangel and Company could use the purse strings to stop the military if they had the votes. But I don't see any way that Congress could oppose a President who wanted to bring the troops home.

Ergo, President Paul easily succeeds in ceding our hard won interests in the MidEast but has little chance of radical cuts in domestic spending. I'll change my close to "all of the bad and a little bit of the good" if it pleases you but I think my points hold.

Why do we have a military presence in a generally-friendly country with the world's largest oil reserves, tactical transportation advantages on the Suez Canal, in an extremely important part of the globe militarily, diplomatically, and financially, from whose shores a majority of the 9/11 attackers came, where there is a large potential for domestic unrest, which is very near to Syria, Iraq, and Iran? I don't know, let me get back to you on that.

Posted by: jk at January 3, 2008 5:16 PM

Perry, I meant my last paragraph to be moderately snarky but not nearly as much as it sounds. Please reduce by a 0.5 snark coefficient.

Posted by: jk at January 3, 2008 5:35 PM

Oh, I agreed before you said it that Paul would never return the federal government to his constitutional limits. Congress would never go along on just about everything he proposed. But other than the gridlock, it would, as I said, prove that Americans don't deserve the freedom we once had. It will force us to take a stand: are we a nation of freedom, or a nation of sheeple?

"I think Rangel and Company could use the purse strings to stop the military if they had the votes."

Strangely enough, or maybe not so strangely, a majority of the American people now oppose the Iraq war and want to bring the troops home, but Dems still don't have the balls to do so.

As I pointed out in an older thread, Saddam is long gone. Saudi Arabia has no enemies now. Who is threatening it, Egypt? Syria and Iran wouldn't dare -- they'd be bombed back to the Stone Age, and with justification. The same would happen to the Suez Canal. Our deployment abilities today don't require a *permanent* military presence in Saudi Arabia to stage any counteroffensives. There's no military justification for us to stay there. Temporarily in case of action, like the first Gulf War, yes. But not a permanent presence.

We don't need American troops to stay in Saudi Arabia to cement their society. That's not our job, and even if it were, our presence only helps destabilize things by providing an excuse for terrorist leaders (more on this later). And are you suggesting that our presence might deter hijackers, or somehow provide intelligence about them? It didn't work before; we should have no expections that it will now or in the future.

If anything, Osama and other terrorist leaders use our presence there as an excuse to recruit impressionable young men. Once again, Ron Paul and I aren't saying that "blowback" is justified, but we're saying that it *happens*. Saudi teenagers look at the men with American flags on their shoulders, and enough believe that they're an "occupying force."

Posted by: Perry Eidelbus at January 4, 2008 1:30 PM | What do you think? [4]