Monday, June 11, 2012

Rand, Rick, Romney and the Republicans, What is a Libertarian to Think?

So it seems I should expand on last weeks lambasting of Senator Rand Paul for his coming out to support Mitt Romney.  There was some very valid criticism of my work, and all over the internet over the issue.  This ranges from Rand is not his father, Rand has to be a team player to ramp up his 2016 shot, or Rand is playing the game on a whole different level, changing the GOP from the inside.  I went so far as to make a comment to my post (mirrored to the reddit comments) over what I was trying to express.  In that comment I repeated the idea that if you were not going to go off the reservation and support the candidate that encompasses well more than half of what you believe and stand for and is still running for president, than the principled thing to do was keep your mouth shut, not endorse anyone.  I went on to ask exactly what are the establishment Republicans in general, and Mitt Romney specifically willing to budge on to try and encompass and incorporate the liberty movement and the libertarian minded.  Rand says he had a nice little chat with Mitt, and he sees some common ground.  My point was that if that was the case, then the proper way to come out for Mitt would have been a joint press release or press conference where Mitt specifically said ANYTHING that would show he was going to try and move the Republican party towards some measure of supporting limited, constitutional government that exercised some fiscal responsibility.  What is the policy area, what is the crumb ready to fall off the table that liberty people could say: “because Rand has stepped in here I will now hold my nose and vote Mitt because I know that in the next four years we will see movement on……?”  Anyone who needs to be dissuaded from this pie-in-the-sky notion of bringing about change from inside only needed to watch the news this weekend.

Rick Santorum, whom I loathe on a cellular level (here, here and here) did his turn on the Sunday shows, telling us how he would be willing to take the VP call.  If that was not a scary enough thought, we hear about what he is going to be doing at the convention.  For months everyone has been talking about the Ron Paul campaign’s ‘long ball’ strategy, taking over state delegations, and bringing about some real change, or at least a significant brawl, at the convention.  Mr. I Hate Libertarians is saying that he is going to the convention and throwing his delegate weight around to make sure that the Paulites can not disrupt the wonderful conservative vision that is the 2012 Republican platform and plank.  Wonderful little nuggets about protecting marriage from the gays and buying hundreds of new super ships, none of that should be changed or modified according to this jack-hole theocrat.  Libertarians take a great deal of flack, they are considered crazy or naïve because they can’t compromise, ideological rigidity should keep them out of the seats of power.  I personally understand the concept of needing to compromise in order to govern, but where is the compromise in Santorum’s world.  He is going to the convention with the intent of denying Ron Paul supporters any voice in policy or plank construction.  Rand says that he spoke with Mitt and he sees some common ground with him.  Now, if this is not a simple naked pander by Rand to gain for himself (which is fine for him, but don’t try and sell me a line about him being a super principled warrior for liberty bringing down the system from the inside) then let us see how well the establishment Republicans understand the concept of compromise.  Rand says there is something there, let Mitt prove it to everyone.  How about a plank position, something along the line of:
The Republican Party is committed to the concept of limited government enshrined by our founders in the constitution.  To that end this party and its presidential nominee are committed to taking no offensive or preemptive military action against any nation without a rigorous, open debate in congress and a formal declaration of war. 
Compromise.  Paulites want no part of interventionist foreign policy, most are strict adherents to non-aggression in general.  A plank like this would annoy them to no end, but in an actual, open dialogue you could say this is a limiting principle that has been sorely lacking within our government and its overuse of executive power.  Rand said in the Hannity appearance that he and Romney talked about this very issue.  Rand could stand up and say “look here what we can accomplish by working together in the big tent!” and try and deliver his father’s most ardent supporters into the fold for 2012.  We keep hearing that four more years of Obama would be worse than Mitt, but prove it, show some movement towards accepting the liberty folks into the fold.  Can anyone actually imagine Mitt coming out to support the above statement?  A simple, conservative reading of the constitution and how it limit’s the ultimate power of state, dragging the populace into war.  Could Mitt say those words?  Hell, forget Mitt for a moment, can you imagine the apoplexy Santorum would be thrown into if this plank was even forwarded in a committee much less to the convention floor?  The Republican establishment would not sign on to this.  National Review and the American Spectator would have any Republican’s head on a pike for even mentioning such a silly idea that the President can’t bomb whomever he wants whenever he wants.  The ultimate sacrilege!  This would be worse than acknowledging gays are American citizens too.  And what I am talking about here is the most mundane of compromises, one side saying on occasion this country will kill people when the cause is openly debated, considered and voted upon, and the other says this country cannot kill people indiscriminately unless the cause is openly debated, considered and voted upon.  Really not that controversial and what the constitution demands.  And the Santorums of the party would make sure even this mild compromise would be a fight to the death, the Goldwater/Paulite/Libertarian factions forever purged from the rolls.

So, if we are having the discussion about changing hearts and minds, correcting the course this country is on, you have to start with the Santorum, Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann wing of the Republican Party, which is almost the whole party.  There are millions of Paul supporters who are energized about changing our country, and the afore mentioned folks are 100% committed to keeping them from doing just that.  Those of you who think Rand is making a play to tear it down and reform the Republicans from the inside need to start there.  Do we just wait for all of them to grow old and die?  Those who think this convention free-for-all will bring about a dynamic change need to explain how Santorum and his ilk are going to be outmaneuvered.  Those of you with the long ball strategy need to give a time frame.  By the time this convention comes around I will have three sons under age 5, will we see a Republican party that believes in limited constitutional government by the time they can vote?  Big tent nice play, slowly moving towards a goal is a reasonable strategy, but we would be truly naïve to believe that that Mitt Romney is the transitional form in that evolution.  In a competition between Rand Paul and Rick Santorum for VP pick (which will never happen) either amongst Romney’s handlers or on the convention floor, who wins?  You know the answer.  Romney would rather alienate the entire liberty movement, wherever it resides, over alienating the Bomb Iran crowd or the Fence of the Homos set and risk losing a Red State.  That is what annoyed me so much about the Rand endorsement.  The whole “laying the groundwork for 2016” thing only works if Romney gets his clock cleaned, and in such a way that the metrics say Rand draws in more diverse votes than he pushes away established demographics.  In terms of holding the liberty movement for that long you have to answer this whole “team player” horseshit.  By this logic it means that Rand would have openly and actively supported Santorum if he had won the nomination, and if you are a libertarian we know Ricky would sooner stab you in the eye with a shrimp fork than ask for your vote.

Principled people take a stand even when it is tough, politicians make excuses.  I hold out no hope for changing the Republican or Democratic parties.  They will be spending ONE BILLION DOLLARS between them just to capture the presidency, and not because they have some highly principled plan to pull this country out of its fiscal tailspin, but because seriously entrenched interests need servicing.  Anyone who has read my Gary Johnson piece will be familiar with my line “changing the color of the horses does not mean the merry-go-round is actually going to get anywhere” and I will stick with that philosophy.  The liberty movement and the Paulites should not be scrounging for crumbs, shoehorning themselves in the big tent, or obediently waiting for a reward for their loyal support, which will never amount to any more than a pat on the head by the Romney types.  For those who say it is crazy to step out of our two-party dynamic, ask them if they are voting Federalist, Democratic-Republican or Whig this time around.  Things can and should  change on occasion, and a little chaos to shake up the complacency of the Elephant/Donkey divide would not be that bad right about now.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Rand Paul, a Politician Plain and Simple

Rand Paul came out last night on the Sean Hannity program to endorse Mitt Romney for President.  Examine that sentence.  Start with appearing on the Sean Hannity program; the biggest asshat of a neo-con, statist double-speak douche ever to be on television.  The man who would bomb all the scary Islamo-fascists everywhere, any that are missed can be locked up and water boarded, while sharing cells with pot smokers and anyone who would deny America’s deeply Christian National heritage. The “true conservative values” man Hannity starts out by joking about how Ron Paul won’t appear on the show anymore, anyone want to venture a guess as to why that is?  What possible reason could there be for appearing on that show to do this?

In the appearance we get to see some of that steely resolve and dedication to constitutional principles that Rand has become famous for.  Somehow Mitt has convinced him that he is on board with an audit of the Fed?  Where is that exactly?  Romney has essentially toed the establishment line that the bailouts of Wall Street prevented a depression and blah, blah, blah…I’ve never seen anything Romney has ever said or done that indicates he would support this idea for a second.  Even if he did, why does Rand have to come out with it first?  Is there a quid pro quo on the horizon?  Will Romney make a statement about it, ever, or does that just sit out there?  Giving his campaign website a quick perusal shows no highlighted “audit in the Fed” tab anywhere.  Rand says that Romney is behind the REINS Act, which does seem to be the case.  Problem of course is that this act, while seeming to be some super-duper check on the Executive regulatory authority wouldn’t be needed if these clowns passed actual laws to begin with, instead of vague pieces of tripe to be filled in later.  Reading the thing it just seems like a way to stop environmental regulations while providing loopholes for “National Security”, of course, specifically exempts the Federal Reserve (see point one of your logic there Rand), and obviously is an unconstitutional legislative veto, because they strip the judiciary's ability to review.  We already know our nitwit legislators don’t read most of the drivel they pass to begin with, we now expect them to approach some complex regulatory issue with an open and informed opinion?  Seems like a way to protect the bacon, and given how many times Rand mentions Kentucky coal in this thing, that is obviously the intent.  Don’t like the overreach?  Make the case for eliminating the agency or passing a law that changes the power structure, not a mechanism for stopping the regulation of your pet campaign contributors.

Rand goes on to somehow justify this support by telling us that Mitt will respect the war-making dichotomy enshrined in the constitution.  Where exactly are we to see this in anything the Romney has ever said?  Is Rand saying that Mitt would never consider bombing Iran’s nuclear program sites without a formal declaration of war by the U.S. Congress?  That would be the way it is supposed to be.  Where is Mitt’s statement to that effect?  Mitt supports limiting the Executive’s war making ability?  Can I get a press release?  Public statement?  The only difference that Mitt has tried to portray between himself and Captain Drone Killer Obama is that he would bomb more people in more places with more troops all while spending a locked in amount of GDP on defense, forever!  $600 billion is not enough for Generalissimo Mitt; more planes, bigger more expensive ships, even more boots on the ground.  No notion anywhere of something reasonable and easy to justify, like not spending money on protecting the British, Germans or Japanese from non-existent threats (I don’t count starving North Korean conscripts or Godzilla as an existential threat requiring air bases).  Patrolling the commons, especially with what he is intimating will be thousands of ships, will keep the peace.  But he will make sure to ask Congress for permission before using those assets to blow something up?  Where is the limiting principle?  How about something simple, near and dear to every liberty minded individual, Senator Paul’s claim to fame, rolling back the national security state?  Where does Mitt stand on the PATRIOT Act?  NDAA?  Gitmo?  Someone, anywhere, have a sense of what Mitt thinks about these things?  Will the TSA be REINed in (please catch the pun if you will) with Mittens in the White House, or will everything still be terrorism under his watch?

There of course is huge speculation all over the place about what the real meaning of this endorsement means.  Rand or Ron as VP?  I’d bet three toes on my left foot and a testicle that is not in the offing.  Executive office for either or both?  Much more likely, but what short term position could justify this?  Where would they be placed, needing of course Senate approval, that they would be allowed to actually affect policy in a way that seems to be an anathema to the core principles (if there are any) of a Romney administration?  If this is not a naked pander in an effort to get Ron Paul's supporters to vote for Romney then what could it be?  Seems to be a team player supporting the team, getting something in return (unregulated coal mining) the way any regular old hack politician would do.  If the intent was to draw support for Romney from the Paulites (of which I am not one, I freely admit) then there needs to be a really big push on Romney to say anything that shows he believes something outside the basic M1A1 Republican plank of: stuff the gays back in the closet, deport all the local brown folk, and bomb the foreign brown folk all while loving stroking the bible.

Rand has shown a real rhetorical flourish on the floor of the Senate for standing up for liberty, talking a real good game.  The issue I have always had with his father was the “too-cute by half” practice of larding up bills with as much bacon as they could bear and then voting against the bill, you know, on principle.  Principles, if they are to mean anything, need to be adhered to when it is tough, and unexpected.  Otherwise they are props, platitudes used by politicians to gain advantage and quickly forgotten until needed again.  There is not a damn bit of difference, in terms of liberty, fiscal responsibility, and the concept of limited constitutional government between Romney and Obama.  This idea that Romney is the lesser of two evils is crap shoveled by people like Hannity, not a reality.  The Republican party is an amalgam of rent-seeking defense contractors and bible thumping Christian Nationalists that talk a poor game about “limited government” in an effort to keep the libertarian minded on the reservation, patting them on the head saying “don’t worry your naïve little head, just vote for us and we will do something, someday, to maybe, possibly down the road placate your delicate sensibilities”.  It’s crap, always has been and always will be.  Santorum, Gingrich Romney and the rest prove that.  If there is to be a real movement towards liberty then the Republican party needs to step up and say how they are going to change the way they have governed for over a decade, or the liberty minded need to abandon them once and for all.  Compromise is important for governing, but compromise entails both sides moving towards a mutually acceptable goal, and the establishment Republicans have no interest in actually limiting the size and scope of the giant ATM machine that is the Federal government.  I understand if Rand didn’t want to step off the reservation with an endorsement outside of the Republican party, and lose his key to the Republican washroom in the Senate, that makes sense.  Real principles though would have had him keep his mouth shut in this case.  As a Southerner he should be familiar with the old saying “don’t piss down my leg and tell me its raining”.  Politicians do that, and what he did last night was a perfect example of that adage played out for all to see.

UPDATE: Expanding the thought in the next piece here

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Well Said Mr Johnson

As political Ads go this one kind of knocks it out of the park.  What real choice is their come this November?  Vote Team Blue and go broke making sure that no one ever even considers entitlement reform, or vote Team Red and go broke by making sure we lock defense spending in at 4% of GDP.  I would rather have a real discussion about the future of this country and what we need to do to reclaim our economy and our principles.  And like the ad says, if we end up not liking it we can always go back to borrowing trillions in order to drop bombs, lock up drug users, bailout the politically well connected and pass out checks and services in order to garner votes.