Quotulatiousness

January 26, 2014

The New York Times profiles Rand Paul

Filed under: Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:19

An interesting view of Rand Paul by Sam Tanenhaus and Jim Rutenberg:

As Rand Paul test-markets a presidential candidacy and tries to broaden his appeal, he is also trying to take libertarianism, an ideology long on the fringes of American politics, into the mainstream. Midway through his freshman term, he has become a prominent voice in Washington’s biggest debates — on government surveillance, spending and Middle East policy.

In the months since he commanded national attention and bipartisan praise for his 13-hour filibuster against the Obama administration’s drone strike program, Mr. Paul has impressed Republican leaders with his staying power, in part because of the stumbles of potential rivals and despite some of his own.

“Senator Paul is a credible national candidate,” said Mitt Romney, who ran for president as the consummate insider in 2012. “He has tapped into the growing sentiment that government has become too large and too intrusive.” In an email, Mr. Romney added that the votes and dollars Mr. Paul would attract from his father’s supporters could help make him “a serious contender for the Republican nomination.”

But if Mr. Paul reaps the benefits of his father’s name and history, he also must contend with the burdens of that patrimony. And as he has become a politician in his own right and now tours the circuit of early primary states, Mr. Paul has been calibrating how fully he embraces some libertarian precepts.

[...]

Since becoming a national figure, Mr. Paul has generally stayed on safer ground. His denunciations of government intrusion on Americans’ privacy have been joined by lawmakers in both parties and have resonated with the public — though no other member of Congress as yet has joined him in his planned class-action suit against the National Security Agency.

He has renounced many of the isolationist tenets central to libertarianism, backed away from his longstanding objections to parts of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and teamed with members of the Congressional Black Caucus in calling for an easing of drug-sentencing laws. He recently unveiled a plan for investment in distressed inner cities.

Much of that is in keeping with the left-right alliance Mr. Paul promotes, an alternative to what he dismisses as a “mushy middle.” Such partnerships, he says, “include people who firmly do believe in the same things, that happen to serve in different parties.”

Of course, no profile of Rand Paul is complete without including his early influences, including his musical tastes:

Rand was engrossed in his own course of libertarian study: He received a set of Ayn Rand novels for his 17th birthday. And he followed the rock band Rush, some of whose lyrics had libertarian themes.

Gary L. Gardner Jr., a high school friend, said: “I remember even back then being on a swim team bus and a Rush song comes on. I think it was the song ‘Trees’ — and he said, ‘Man, listen to the words of this, you know those guys have got to be conservative.’ ”

“The Trees” tells the story of maples, overshadowed by tall oaks, that form a union to bring equality to the woods “by hatchet, ax and saw.”

Rand Paul influences

The pantheon of libertarianism includes economists like Mises and Friedman and the novelist Rand; Mr. Hess, a former speechwriter for Senator Barry M. Goldwater; Mr. Rothbard, an economic historian and social thinker; Ron Paul, congressman, presidential aspirant, father and “hero”; and Rush, whose lyrics were infused with libertarian themes.

January 23, 2014

Rand Paul as 2016 frontrunner

Filed under: Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:36

It’s probably a case of The Atlantic needing to get extra pageviews, but here is Peter Beinart making a case for Rand Paul being the frontrunner for the 2016 Republican nomination:

To understand the Kentucky senator’s hidden strength, it’s worth remembering this basic fact about the modern GOP: It almost never nominates first-time candidates. Since 1980, George W. Bush is the only first-timer to win a Republican nomination. And since Bush used the political network his father built, he enjoyed many of the benefits of someone who had run before. It’s the same with Paul. In both Iowa and New Hampshire, he begins with an unparalleled infrastructure left over from his father Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

Start with Iowa. Last May, Rand Paul gave the keynote speech at the Iowa Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner. How did he secure this prize invitation? Because the chairman, co-chairman, and finance chairman of the Iowa Republican Party all supported his father. Rand Paul’s not the only potential 2012 candidate who will inherit a political infrastructure in the Hawkeye State. Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee also have networks left over from prior runs. But their supporters don’t play as influential a role in the state GOP. “RPI no longer stands for the Republican Party of Iowa,” noted a recent article in Politico, “but for Rand Paul, Inc.”

Because the Iowa GOP will elect new leaders next spring, it’s unlikely “Paulestinians” will so thoroughly dominate the party leadership in 2016. But Craig Robinson, former political director of the Iowa GOP, says that’s actually to Rand Paul’s advantage, since it will free up some of Iowa’s most powerful Republicans to run his 2016 campaign. The Iowa caucuses are, famously, a test of organization. And for that reason, Robinson argues, “Rand Paul has a huge advantage in this state. There’s an organization built that has grown and been able to be maintained for four to six years. That’s a headstart. There’s no other candidate who has something like that.” It’s “almost like having the advantage of having run before.”

Despite his organizational strength, Ron Paul’s libertarian views capped his support in Iowa, preventing him from winning over more traditional conservatives. But in 2016, Rand Paul will be less of an ideological outlier than his father was in 2012. That’s partly because he has avoided some of his father’s edgier views. (He’s more supportive of foreign aid and sanctions against Iran, for instance.) And it’s partly because more Republicans now share his suspicion of the national-security state. Last summer, more than 40 percent of House Republicans voted to curb NSA data collection. “Rand has a much broader appeal than his father,” Robinson says. Polls reflect that: A survey last December for the Des Moines Register found Paul with a lower unfavorability rating among Iowa Republicans than either Christie or Jeb Bush.

If Paul is, arguably, the early leader in Iowa, he may be the early frontrunner in New Hampshire as well. While Ron Paul placed third in Iowa in 2012, he placed second in New Hampshire, losing only to Mitt Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts and a national frontrunner with a vast financial edge.

May 4, 2013

Ron Paul on the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act”

Filed under: Business, Economics, Government, USA — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:28

As you probably guessed, he’s against it:

David French, Senior Vice President of the National Retail Federation, the major industry group lobbying for the so-called “Marketplace Fairness Act,” (more aptly named the “National Internet Tax Mandate”) recently commented that “…the law [governing Internet sales] today is a 20th-century interpretation of an 18th-century document…” Mr. French’s comments are typical of those wishing to expand government power beyond the limits established by the United States Constitution.

[. . .]

The National Internet Tax Mandate overturns the Supreme Court’s 1992 Quill v. North Dakota decision that states can only force businesses to collect sales tax if the business has a “physical presence” in the state. Quill represented a rare instance where the Supreme Court properly interpreted the Commerce Clause. Thanks to the Quill decision, the Internet has remained a tax-free zone, though some states require consumers to later pay taxes on products they purchased online. This freedom has helped turn the Internet into a thriving and dynamic sector of the economy, to the benefit of entrepreneurs and consumers.

Now that status is threatened by an alliance of big business and tax-hungry state governments seeking new powers to force out-of-state business to collect state sales taxes. Far from updating the Constitution to fit the needs of the 21st century, the National Internet Tax Mandate is a throwback to 18th century mercantilism.

The National Internet Tax Mandate will raise the costs of doing business over the Internet. Large, established Internet companies, such as Amazon, can absorb these costs, whereas their smaller competitors cannot. More importantly, the Mandate’s increased costs and regulations could prevent the creation and growth of the next Amazon.

December 30, 2012

“We Have Passed The Point Of No Return”

Filed under: Economics, Government, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:22

Zero Hedge recommends that everyone listen to outgoing Congressman Ron Paul’s analysis of the fiscal cliff negotiations:

In a little under three minutes, Ron Paul explains to a somewhat nonplussed CNBC anchor just how ridiculous the charade that is occurring in D.C. actually is. This succinct spin-free clip should be required viewing for each and every asset-manager, talking-head, propagandist, and mom-and-pop who are viewing the last-minute idiocy of the ‘fiscal cliff’ debacle with some hope that things will be different this time. “We have passed the point of no return where we can actually get our house back in order,” Paul begins, adding that “they pretend they are fighting up there, but they really aren’t. They are arguing over power, spin, who looks good, who looks bad; all trying to preserve the system where they can spend what they want, take care of their friends and print money when they need it.” With social safety nets available to rich and poor, there is no impetus for change and “the country loses,” but Paul concludes, the markets are starting to say “there is a limit to this.”

December 26, 2012

QotD: Those who have given up liberty for “security”

Filed under: Government, Liberty, Quotations, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:13

Furthermore, do we really want to live in a world of police checkpoints, surveillance cameras, metal detectors, X-ray scanners, and warrantless physical searches? We see this culture in our airports: witness the shabby spectacle of once proud, happy Americans shuffling through long lines while uniformed TSA agents bark orders. This is the world of government provided “security,” a world far too many Americans now seem to accept or even endorse. School shootings, no matter how horrific, do not justify creating an Orwellian surveillance state in America.

Do we really believe government can provide total security? Do we want to involuntarily commit every disaffected, disturbed, or alienated person who fantasizes about violence? Or can we accept that liberty is more important than the illusion of state-provided security? Government cannot create a world without risks, nor would we really wish to live in such a fictional place. Only a totalitarian society would even claim absolute safety as a worthy ideal, because it would require total state control over its citizens’ lives. We shouldn’t settle for substituting one type of violence for another. Government role is to protect liberty, not to pursue unobtainable safety.

Our freedoms as Americans preceded gun control laws, the TSA, or the Department of Homeland Security. Freedom is defined by the ability of citizens to live without government interference, not by safety. It is easy to clamor for government security when terrible things happen; but liberty is given true meaning when we support it without exception, and we will be safer for it.

Ron Paul, “Seeking Total Security Leads to a Totalitarian Society”, Eurasia Review, 2012-12-26

November 19, 2012

“Ron Paul is the San Antonio Spurs of Congress”

Filed under: Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 13:21

I don’t follow NBA teams, but David Boaz is making a valid point here:

One thing nobody ever points out is that Ron Paul is the San Antonio Spurs of Congress. When they won their third NBA championship in seven years, Washington Post sports columnist Mike Wise praised the resilience of the Spurs, who kept coming back to win without ever being quite a Bulls-style dynasty. He said the Spurs “had their crown taken away twice since 2003 and got it back both times.”

Similarly, Ron Paul is the only current member of Congress to have been elected three times as a non-incumbent. Given the 98 percent reelection rates for House members, it’s no great shakes to win three terms — or 10 terms — in a row. It’s winning that first one that’s the challenge. And Ron Paul has done that three times.

He first won in a special election for an open seat. He then lost his seat and won it back two years later, defeating the incumbent. After two more terms he left his seat to run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate. Twelve years later, in 1996, he ran again for Congress, again defeating an incumbent, this time in the Republican primary. Some political scientist should study the political skills it takes to win election to Congress without the benefit of incumbency — three times.

Like many libertarians, I’ve had my differences with Ron Paul on trade agreements, immigration, gay rights and federalism, and his failure to repudiate the associates who put his name on their bigoted newsletters. But as long as he keeps recruiting people, especially young people, to the cause of limited constitutional government, sound money, and non-intervention, I’m glad to see him making an impact.

November 18, 2012

Rand Paul versus Gary Johnson

Filed under: Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:30

The question is who will take on the role that Ron Paul is stepping down from — unofficial leader of the libertarian movement. Christopher McDaniel thinks that Gary Johnson is the right man for the job:

So who will take up the mantle for Ron Paul’s movement? Who is most likely to be the one that takes liberty to the next level? Conventional wisdom would say that his son, Senator Rand Paul (R-K.Y.) makes the most sense. He has maintained a voting record that is generally consistent with his father’s record. The main source of contention among Paul supporters, however, was Rand’s willingness to endorse Mitt Romney in the general election. While Rand’s decision was likely motivated by a promise to speak at the GOP Convention, and thus political exposure nationally, many of his father’s constituents feel like Rand deserted his father just when he was needed most. Despite his exposure from the convention, Rand has to deal with big stars in the GOP like Marco Rubio and Chris Christie. It seems unlikely to me that Rand Paul can make a serious run at the presidency from inside the GOP.

[. . .]

Gary Johnson is the one I see galvanizing the liberty contingent and make real inroads in the political system for the Libertarian Party. He managed to garner 1% of the popular vote in 2012 despite really only gaining traction in September and October. Gary has an excellent resume. He is a very successful businessman who won successive terms as governor of New Mexico, a decidedly Democrat heavy state, as a Republican. One of the more popular numbers that Johnson advocates like to point out is that he took a $500 million deficit in New Mexico and made it a billion dollar surplus by the time he left office. Unlike Paul and Amash, Johnson left the Republican Party and has committed to the Libertarian Party for the future. Johnson does not come without his detractors, however. Most notably, hardcore Republicans do not like the fact that he is pro-choice and for repeal of DOMA. However, as Johnson puts it, “I’m more liberal than Obama and more conservative than” Republicans. With his apparent commitment to running in 2016, it seems Gary Johnson plans to take the liberty movement and use it to turn the establishment upside down. Here’s to hoping he can do just that!

October 28, 2012

On foreign policy, Romney and Obama sing from the same hymnbook

Filed under: Government, Media, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:42

At Reason, Sheldon Richman explains why there seemed to be so little difference between President Obama’s foreign policies and those of Mitt Romney:

If we needed evidence of the impoverishment of American politics, the so-called debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney gave us all we could ask for.

We normally expect a debate to highlight some disagreement, but in American politics disagreement is reserved for minor matters. The two parties — actually the two divisions of the uniparty that represents the permanent regime — agree on all fundamentals. If you need proof, observe how the establishment media treated Ron Paul, who challenged the permanent regime’s basic premises on foreign policy, civil liberties, and monetary control. He dug too deep.

It’s been noted, mostly by humorists, that Romney continuously expressed his agreement with Obama across a range of issues: drone warfare, Iran, Afghanistan, even Iraq. He tried to manufacture differences by suggesting that he would have done more sooner. But this all sounded flaccid; Romney seemed desperate to draw some contrast with a foreign policy that he embraces.

What does Romney really believe? Who can say? What we do know is that he’s taking his foreign-policy advice from a team of neoconservatives, formerly of the George W. Bush administration, who helped dig the hole the country is in.

September 27, 2012

Gary Johnson profile in Businessweek

Filed under: Liberty, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 00:01

He’s still struggling to get on the last three state ballots (Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Oklahoma), but Gary Johnson does offer a very different vision than BaraMitt Obamney:

Gary Johnson was governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003. He made a name for himself by vetoing 750 bills that didn’t meet his standards for thrift. Before that, Johnson made a fortune in construction, starting as a solo Albuquerque handyman in 1974 and selling his 1,000-employee company, Big J Enterprises, for $10 million in 1999. Johnson likes to ski, hike, and cycle. He has completed 75 triathlons and climbed Mt. Everest while healing from a broken leg. Also, he is running for president.

While Representative Ron Paul (R-Tex.) carried the Libertarian flame all the way to the Republican convention this summer, it’s Johnson, not Paul, who’s on the ballot as the Libertarian candidate in 47 states — and making his case in courts to get on in the remaining three. (According to Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, Pennsylvania is likely, Michigan a maybe, Oklahoma almost impossible.) “No other third party is going to come close to that,” Johnson says.

Johnson began the race as a Republican. His antiwar, pro-gay marriage, pro-marijuana legalization message could not get traction in a primary race led, at one time or another in the polls, by every other candidate — except Paul. “I thought it was going to be hard to marginalize two people talking about the same thing,” says Johnson. “I just got excluded.” (During a Fox News [...] debate he did manage to get into, Johnson drew applause when he said, “My next-door neighbors’ two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration.”) So Johnson became a Libertarian. While the party has no one in national office, it’s good at getting on ballots. “They know how hard ballot access is, and they’ve got people who have been doing it for years,” says Micah Sifry, author of Spoiling for a Fight: Third-Party Politics in America.

August 14, 2012

Brian Doherty on the Ron Paul Revolution

Filed under: Liberty, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 08:36

An excerpt from Brian Doherty’s new book Ron Paul’s Revolution in the National Post:

Paul is a remarkably successful politician made of contradictions. Though a longtime Republican congressman, he’s built his reputation on such wildly liberal stances as ending the drug war, halting wars in the Middle East and scuttling the Patriot Act. Despite this, in 2010 and 2011 he’s won the presidential straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the seedbed of young right-wing activists.

He’s got traditional conservative bona fides, too. He’s for ending the income tax and killing the Internal Revenue Service, and for stopping illegal immigration; he also thinks abortion should be illegal. Despite this, right-wing politicians and thought leaders from Giuliani to Bill O’Reilly to the Weekly Standard’s William Kristol deride and despise him.

Paul’s appeal is a curious mixture of populist and intellectual. He attacks the elite masters of money, banking and high finance at the Federal Reserve and Wall Street. But his philosophy on politics and economics was forged through decades of self-driven study of abstruse libertarian economists such as Ludwig von Mises and the Nobel Prize–winning F. A. Hayek.

He’s a staggeringly successful politician by some measures — the only congressman to win a seat as a nonincumbent three separate times. He continues to be re-elected to the House election after election, almost always by a higher margin than the time before. He does this while violating most traditional rules of politics. He doesn’t strive to bring home the bacon. His 14th District in Texas is highly agricultural, rife with rice and cattle farmers, but he always votes against federal agriculture subsidies. In a district with 675 miles of coastline, struck violently in 2008 by Hurricane Ike, he votes against flood aid and the Federal Emergency Management Agency — even calling for the latter’s abolition on national TV. He vows to never vote for any bill for which he doesn’t see clear constitutional justification. Yet by some people’s standards of a “successful legislator” he’s a bust — nearly every bill he introduces never even makes it out of committee.

May 27, 2012

Ron Paul’s Ten Principles of a Free Society

Filed under: Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 11:03

From Ron Paul’s book Liberty Defined, posted at The Daily Paul:

  1. Rights belong to individuals, not groups; they derive from our nature and can neither be granted nor taken away by government.
  2. All peaceful, voluntary economic and social associations are permitted; consent is the basis of the social and economic order.
  3. Justly acquired property is privately owned by individuals and voluntary groups, and this ownership cannot be arbitrarily voided by governments.
  4. Government may not redistribute private wealth or grant special privileges to any individual or group.
  5. Individuals are responsible for their own actions; government cannot and should not protect us from ourselves.
  6. Government may not claim the monopoly over a people’s money and governments must never engage in official counterfeiting, even in the name of macroeconomic stability.
  7. Aggressive wars, even when called preventative, and even when they pertain only to trade relations, are forbidden.
  8. Jury nullification, that is, the right of jurors to judge the law as well as the facts, is a right of the people and the courtroom norm.
  9. All forms of involuntary servitude are prohibited, not only slavery but also conscription, forced association, and forced welfare distribution.
  10. Government must obey the law that it expects other people to obey and thereby must never use force to mold behavior, manipulate social outcomes, manage the economy, or tell other countries how to behave.

May 16, 2012

The real reason for Ron Paul’s surprising announcement

Filed under: Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 09:52

Edward Morrissey thinks the reason Ron Paul won’t be contesting any more primaries is that he’s already achieved his real aim:

On Monday, the Republican nomination fight finally got reduced to a single candidate. This might surprise people who believed that the departure of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum had already made Mitt Romney the official nominee. But until Monday, Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) had continued to raise funds and campaign in upcoming primary states.

That changed with a statement from the candidate himself — or at least it changed somewhat. Unlike Santorum and Gingrich, who suspended their campaigns entirely, Paul has instead decided not to contest any more states. Paul explained that his efforts in the rest of the nomination process would focus on consolidating his delegate gains in states that had already held their contests. “Our campaign will continue to work in the state convention process,” Paul explained in his message. “We will continue to take leadership positions, win delegates, and carry a strong message to the Republican National Convention that Liberty is the way of the future.”

[. . .]

So what is the real endgame? Some wonder whether Paul wants to stage a demonstration at the Republican convention, which he adamantly denied last week. Rumors have also circulated that Paul would flex his muscle to get the rules changed and unbind all delegates at the convention, but he doesn’t have that kind of muscle, and it wouldn’t result in a Paul nomination even if he did. Paul’s delegates will have an impact on the party platform, which most believe is the object of Paul’s strategy, but party platforms don’t really have that much practical impact. Few people read them, and even fewer candidates feel bound to them.

Most people miss the fact that Paul has already achieved his end game, or is within a few weeks of its conclusion. The aim for Paul isn’t the convention, which is a mainly meaningless but entertaining exercise in American politics. The real goal was to seize control of party apparatuses in states that rely on caucuses. With that in hand, Paul’s organization can direct party funds and operations to recruit and support candidates that follow Paul’s platform, and in that way exert some influence on the national Republican Party as well, potentially for years to come. Paul hasn’t won every battle in that fight, but Minnesota will probably end up being more the rule than the exception.

May 10, 2012

Reason.tv: Ron Paul’s young voter fanbase

Filed under: Economics, Liberty, Media, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 07:36

May 3, 2012

Reason.tv: Brian Doherty on Ron Paul’s Revolution

Filed under: Economics, Liberty, Media, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:39

“Ron Paul invented the notion of a populist, activist, modern movement thats transpartisan” says Reason’s Brian Doherty

Brian Doherty sat down with ReasonTV to talk about his new book and how Ron Paul has changed politics in America. Doherty wrote about the evolution of the libertarian movement in his 2007 book “Radicals for Capitalism: A Freewheeling History of the Modern American Libertarian Movement”. He has been following and writing about Ron Paul and his movement since then. Doherty examines Ron Paul’s influence in a new book out May 15, “Ron Paul’s rEVOLution: The Man and the Movement He Inspired”.

April 8, 2012

L. Neil Smith’s Open Letter to Rush Limbaugh

Filed under: Economics, Liberty, Media, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas Russon @ 10:44

From today’s edition of the Libertarian Enterprise, L. Neil Smith’s open letter to Rush Limbaugh:

Dear Mr. Limbaugh,

I began listening to you early in the Clinton Administration. For years you’ve said you’re playing with half your brain tied behind your back “just to make it fair”. For the same number of years, I’ve been saying (admittedly to a much smaller audience), that if you ever untied and started using the other half of your brain, you’d be a libertarian.

That was all in fun (although I do believe it). But what I have to tell you now is intended quite seriously. I’ve been involved in the libertarian movement for 50 years, since 1962, when I was 16 years old — almost before the word “libertarian” was in common currency. In all of that time, we libertarians have learned to handle the Left, better, I think, than the Right does. Partly that’s because we aspire to many of the same things that they do — except that we really mean it.

(more…)

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