Friends of Ron Paul in Japan

A Semi-Retraction on the Power of Third Parties

November 20, 2008
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The Friends of Ron Paul is about to go into dormition

Yes, the election is over and neither the Good Doctor nor any of his prefered candidates (Chuck Baldwin, his first choice, or the others) are posed to occupy the White House. Surprise, surprise! However minor party candidates did make some good points whenever the media deigned to listen to them.

Sorry about Montana
And yes, I was wrong about the ability of the minor parties to play the role of spoiler in the national presidential election, and even non-swing states. Hanna Montana has undoubtedly had more influence on the trajectory of American culture and politics than the Libertarian Party of Montana. And that goes double for my “Pensacola Pivot” which was supposed to throw Mississippi and Georgia to Obama. Even without the extra electoral votes the GOP got a good drubbing…now whether it will get the message is the question.

But wait, there’s a silver lining in…guess where?

In Alaska the Alaska Independence Party seems to have made the difference unseating incumbent (and felon) Stevens. And you thought the AIP was only good for Palin-bashing! Well yes, for that too…because now it looks like she will have to spend her time up in the Frozen north actually governing rather than basing herself from a hoped for senate seat in Washington.

Perhaps, after all, there is justice in this world. And, even more miraculously, perhaps the efforts of minor parties can play a (need I say minor?) role in bringing this about.


A great place for Ron Paul fans to hang out

November 11, 2008
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Courtesy of Jeffrey A. Tucker Of course, the ezine which was started as a blog by

the man who used to be Ron Paul’s chief of staff

Or as the Gadsen Flag would put it…join or die!

I confess! I’m glad that Obama won!

November 6, 2008
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Confessions of a Ron Paul supporter and Chuck Baldwin voter

Yes there are several good reasons to celebrate an Obama win…if not quite an Obama presidency:

1. Skin deep but not entirely superficial, he will be America’s first black president.  True, as a libertarian I think it would be better not to have a presidency…or at least a very weak one such as under the Articles of Confederation.  But if we have one, it should be open to people of all colors.  Congratulations Mr. Obama!

2. The intelligent and diligent Obama campaign has rid America (at least temporarily) of two of the most obnoxious icons of the political class: Hilary Clinton and Mad Jack McCain.  Unfortunately this election cycle has also raised up the rather idiotic Ms. Palin.  Oh well, two steps forward one step back.  Congratulations anyway Mr. Obama and staff!

3. To the extent that this election was a referendum on the Bush presidency, providence and the American people evidently used the Obama campaign as an instrument to shame the man who used emergencies and executive powers to shread the Constitution and erect a right-wing socialist state.  True, Obama’s presidency may turn out to be a left-wing version thereof but the precedent was initially set by Bush.

4. Obama is an ideologue.  What, you say, this is supposed to be a good thing!?  Well of course, not if he leads us into far left kookoo land.  But what if he changes his ideology, as idealists are know to do.  (As indeed, this writer been know to do in the past.)  Keep in mind that members of the political class in general and presidents in particular are notorious for doing exactly the opposite of what their voters gave them a mandate to do.  Socialism will only be continued and deepened if reality cooperates…which Austrian economics predicts it won’t.  Historical note:  Half of Eugen Bohm-Bawerk’s students followed him into free market economics, the others became what was known as the “Austro-marxist” school.  Idealists cross the line all the time and I suspect that Mr. Obama has an old textbook packed away somewhere with the title “Karl Marx and the Close of His System” by Eugen Bohm-Bawerk.  Marxist professors in Eastern and upper Midwestern universities often assign it to their students to refute its refutation of socialism.

Mr. Obama, can you refute the refutation of the refutation?  I know that sounds rather heroic, but after all they’re calling you a hero these days.  And if that is a little too abstract consider this: Jimmy Carter, that most “leftist” of presidents, actually reduced government more than any president since WWII, including Regan.

How I’m calling it: Obama wins it plus the “third party pivot.”

November 4, 2008
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How I’m calling it:

As the “virtual incumbent” malaise sets in, I don’t expect an Obama landslide in the national tally.  He will probably break the 50% barrier but not by much.  Where I expect the landslide will be in the electoral vote, with Obama winning at least half a dozen more states than Kerry did in 2004.  If Obama wins less than 50% in the popular vote the only difference is that you won’t hear any more demands from the left to abolish the electoral college…a good thing in itself!

So how do I expect this to work?  Well lets look at the states that I expect to go for Obama:

Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Ohio in the Northwest.  Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, and Iowa in the Midwest.   California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii in the Pacific.  Colorado and New Mexico in the Rockies.

What about McCain?  West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana and Missouri in the Ohio/Mississippi region.  Alabama and South Carolina in the deep south.  Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah the West and Plains.

So far a very ho hum prediction…here’s where it gets interesting.  I think Virginia will go for Obama while North Carolina will go for McCain, which again, isn’t all that surprising.  McCain should also hold on to his own state of Arizona, and Palin’s Alaska.  But I am calling Florida for Obama, and get this: Georgia, Mississippi (!), and Montana I am putting in the Obama column.

How on earth could this be?  I’m calling it the “third party pivot” but its more simple to say that Bob Barr will deliver Georgia to Obama, Chuck Baldwin will be the spoiler in Mississippi, and Ron Paul (!) will do the same in Montana.

And you didn’t even think Ron Paul was running did you!?  Well, actually he didn’t want to, at least in Montana…but in accordance with an archaic election law he is running there on the ticket of the Constitution Party…an organization he doesn’t even belong to!  I would like him to win the electoral votes as well…but I’m afraid that there will be just enough votes to make the difference between Obama and McCain.  North Dakota, with very similar demographics to Montana, will probably go for McCain…simply because Ron Paul is not on the ballot there.

So what’s the point.  After all, Obama has a win even without Georgia, Mississipii, and Montana.  The point is that when Republicans start to figure out what hit them, they’re going to need some signposts along the way back to sanity and putting a winning coalition back together.  Those three blue states surrounded by red, surrounded in turn by blue will be the pointers saying: Let the Ron Paul freedom coalition back into the game…or the GOP is RIP!

A few more nuances.  Why do I predict no comparable effect by Nader on Obama’s electoral take?  Because the Nader vote is too thin and geographically uniform.  In contrast there are regional clusters of Barr, Baldwin, and Paul  supporters, i.e. ex-Barr constituents disenfranchised by redistricting in Georgia, the “Bible Belt” running through Mississippi and the Florida panhandle for Baldwin, and the “libertarian belt” (gee, what else could you call it) running along the 49th parallel.  Also, I see ethnic and cultural differences among the white population of the southeast with people in the highlands (“hillbillies”) somewhat more likely to vote for McCain, and people in the lowlands (“rednecks” et al) somewhat more likely (!) to vote for Obama.  So Virginia goes for Obama because there is a West Virginia, but the Carolinas go for McCain because there is no east and west Carolina, only a North and a South.  Or something like that.  I suppose one could dispute these ethnological niceties endlessly.  However I am more interested in seeing the results develop through tonight and tomorrow…and see if my hypothesis holds up.

Surprise Sweep by Chuck Baldwin Very Unlikely! (You heard it first here)

November 3, 2008
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The Superiority of Voting For Principle Over Not Voting at All

As I have said in comments on several other blogs, I felt the that the most principled vote for libertarians and paleoconservatives in 2008 was for Chuck Baldwin.  Many in these philosophical camps have advocating not exercising the franchise, faced with the choice of a left-socialist and a right-socialist.  However not voting, which leaves no trace, doesn’t suffice to register a protest.  It will be interesting to see what the total votes of third parties will come out to in the next couple of days.  A high vote would express a dissastisfaction with the present two party system.  On the other hand a non-vote could be interpreted as either apathy or protest, an ambiguity which of course the supporters of the system would interpret to their advantage.

As much as I respect the persons and positions of the non-vote strategists, this is likely to be a bad year for them.  This campaign has generated tremendous energy, particularly among the Obama side, but also among the Republican base after the nomination of Sarah  Palin as McCain’s running mate.  Hopes that a mounting historical trend of nonparticipation in the electoral process would delegitimate the political system are likely to be dashed in the immediate future.

About Baldwin I have no regrets.  The Constitution party is a half-baked idea who’s time has yet to come, and probably never will as long at it is run by factuous amatures.  But Baldwin addressed issues with dignity and using the rhetorical conventions which were once the halmark of the American republic.  Even on those issues where I disagree with him he has argued with logical coherence…never pandering to his audience, but rather trying to evoke in them a renewed committment to higher principles.   In short, a political strategy which is guaranteed to result in defeat, since it over-, rather than underestimates the intelligence and morality of the electorate.  John McCain has persued the opposite strategy…and he is going down in defeat anyway…taking his honor with him.

For that reason I don’t consider my vote for the Baldwin/Castle ticket wasted…quite the opposite!

Bonfire of the Vanities: 2008

October 23, 2008
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Pico and Savonarola

I find myself deeply conflicted when I watch the news of the financial collapse.  There is a part of me which likes to see the wicked get their deserts.  If I were to give this subpersonality a name, Savonarola would be as good as any.  The United States is suffering today from its own love affair with an enjoy now, pay later, economy, a love affair which has turned sour as all worldly loves tend to do.

In Medici Florence at the end of the 15th century something similar occured. People who had been living beyond their means suddenly found themselves forced to make a virtue of poverty due to social upheaval.  Enter Savanarola, your typical “mad monk” of the Black Legend.  It would seem that this charming fellow, if the reports are to be believed, wanted to make a bonfire of the accomplishments of the Italian Renaissance.  As soon as a revolution placed him in power he became the original “liberation theologian” liberating the Florentines from their priceless artworks and incunablia.

Burn baby burn!  There is something purifying about a fire, an indeed any human calamity.  When we see the sinners punished it gives a sort of vicarious thrill does it not?  It must or,  for example, CNN would not be featuring a TOP TEN WANTED LIST of America’s miscreant financial elite.  The flames are cracking and the hour of revenge is at hand.  My inner Savonarola is waxing rightous.

But there is another part of me which watches in horror at the destruction of my nation’s wealth.  Fundamentally, I am not a Savonarola, but a Pico de la Mirandola.  Like the latter man, a scholar and an epicure, I take a chivalrous attitude towards the works of human art.  There is no production of the human mind so vulgar or pagan that I would not wish to salvage it for the critical inspection of posterity.

And in today’s bonfire there is much which cries out for salvation.  As the mendacious mogels of mortgages go up in flames many an innocent bystander is being scorched as well.  The psychology of markets, the interlocking of interest rates and the clearing of prices ensure that many people who saved and made sound, even ethical decisions are being hurt by the unscrupulous trend-setters.  Hard working employees of mismanaged companies are the fired without notice as executives cushion their fall from grace.

But the flames are not easily appeased.  Too much fuel has already been fed to them, and they are spreading through the forum.  In the end Pico decides to his lot in with Savonarola.  “Yes, let it all burn!  These vanities have dragged us down into hell.  Let them perish…if only we can escape with our naked souls and our freedom intact!”

And so it all went in…the paintings and the sculptures and the books.  It will be sad indeed if the analogy holds true and America is stripped as bare as Florence was in the aftermath of Savonarola.  But the tragedy didn’t end there, for eventually Savonarola himself went the way of the vanities, and Pico too disapeared.

We’ll just have to wait and see if history persists in repeating itself.  Meanwhile, in my inner world, Savonarola and Pico are locked in furious struggle.  And I suspect I am not unique in that respect.

Why the Libertarian “remnant” must support Chuck Baldwin at all costs!

October 22, 2008
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The “remnant”

It seems as if everybody is a “libertarian” these days.  Have you ever smoked pot…you’re a libertarian.   Do you want to pay less taxes?  You’re a libertarian.  Do you think that after bailing out the financial class to the tune of 700 billion (which they maintain is necessary to avoid a crash) some inquiries should be made as to the propriety of golden parachutes?  Congratulations, you’re a libertarian!

Libertarinanism is mainstream today.  Ask Bob Barr…who thinks the US military should get out of Iraq…but not necessarily Pakistan or Colombia.  Ask Tyler Cowen who thinks government should be allowed to expand at or less than the rate of growth of GNP.  (With negative growth, that may be a proposal for drastic reduction in the near future!)  Ask Joe the Plumber!  And these are the good guys!

In contrast, a bad guy would, I suppose, be Alan Greenspan who masqueraded as both an economist and a libertarian on the strength of his personal relationship (not as tight as Nathaniel Brandon’s, but good enough) with Ayn Rand.  Thank you Mr. Greenspan for almost single handedly destroying the American economy!  No, we don’t expect you to know anything about the Austrian bussiness cycle theory…because you never studied Austrian economics.  But you are a self described classical liberal aka “libertarian”…can you define that?

The oracle replies, “Yes, a classical liberal is someone who, at least at heart, thinks  that it is best for the banks to maintain low interest rates.”

Thank you, we are astounded and illuminated, to the extent that we have no reply….except….

True Libertainism

(Or classical liberalism, if you will) is the belief that there is a natural law which superceeds any law promulgated by a parliament, congress, or diet.  If a legislative body passes a law which, say, permits anyone to murder someone with red hair, then, according to a libertarian, that  law is immediately void.  It is not voided by judicial review.  The extra-natural law edict is a dead letter and of no force.

The principle of obedience to natural law is, I humbly submit, of more fundamental importance than low interest rates, or even the principle on loans!

The mainstream libertarians are for the most part utilitarians, tinkering with the notion of limiting a government which has long since gone beyond any sane limit in terms of expenditure, infringement of civil rights, or executive centralization.  Only a small “remnant”, to use the phrase of Albert J. Nock, has the historical perspective to realized that the natural law justification of the state has long since been violated.

The Man and the Party

The closest thing to a libertarian party in existence today is the Constitution Party, which is fielding the Baldwin/Castle ticket in this season’s presidential contest.  There is a certain amount of odium attached to this party from the perspective of libertarians.  It is rumored that it is a stalking horse for theocrats.  But hold your Savanarolas a minute and take a look at the facts.

Yes, at one time there was a “theocrat problem” in the Constitution party.  There was a point at which an extremist wing was trying to purge the party of all but Protestant fundamenalists.  These people lost and they lost big.  Today the Baldwin/Castle ticket is canvasing the support of all people of good will…Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, Jew….Righteous Atheist….anybody!

Like Thomas Aquinas seven hundred years earlier, Chuck Baldwin recognizes the existence of two layers of truth, natural and revealed.   Whether god is a unity or a trinity, what direction to pray in, and the number of divine commandments, if any, are theological questions which can only be answered within the context of particular faith communities.  However the existence of natural law, the inviolability of the person and property of one’s neighbor, is a manifest truth which doesn’t require faith in a theological sense.  It is this principle of natural law, not any sectarian confession, which the Baldwin campaign stands for.

All the other parties are pushing utilitarian theories in accordance with the class interests which they represent.  So what do you want…low interest rates, high interest rates….or are you acutally interested in in truth and justice?  If the latter you are one of the “remnant” who will be voting for Chuck Baldwin this season.

You may not be voting for a winner, but to borrow another phrase from Albert J. Nock, you’ll be “Doing the right thing!”

Not Even Funny: The Bananarepublican ticket flouts its vulgarity in comic venues

October 19, 2008
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Patronizing the Opposition, Loosing the Base

Just when you thought the McCain/Palin ticket couldn’t call its plays any worse…they’ve decided to pal around on the comedy circuit.  Oh yes, we know what they had in mind.  One of the strong points of the ticket is supposed to be the image of “just folks.”   I’m not sure that military brahmin McCain can pass muster as a latter day Sad Sack, but the Governor of Alaska as Little Miss Average certainly was the real thing.  But by going from the butt of prime time comedy to full time participants  they may have finally overplayed the cracker barrel cousin card.

McCain apologized twice on the Letterman program for a previous no show.  Is this supposed to demonstrate his humility?  Any one who thinks so can also be excused for thinking that the momentary suspension of his political campaign had any effect on America’s economic debacle.   As far as Palin’s humiliating appearance on Saturday Night Live is concerned, the less said the better.

Pehaps some people in their respective staffs remembered (giving them more credit for acuity than they probably deserve) the gracious and enjoyable appearace of Rep. Ron Paul on Comedy Central.  If so, the analogy was a mistaken one.  Comedy Central was sympathetic to the Good Doctor from the outset, and Paul’s genuine (not feigned) humility showed through in its usual light handed way.  If there is a lesson to be learned here, and from Palin’s appearance on SNL in particular, it should be phrased as a general political rule: Don’t accept invitations from media where the chief intention is to humiliate your candidate.  Of course Palin’s handler’s cant understand the distinction between a journalistic interview where their candidate might disgrace herself unintentionally and intentional degradation.  That sort of thing is painful to watch.

And have not doubt about this: the base is sure to be offended too.  The crackerbarrel cousin set has a fine nose for the distinction between “just josh’n” and being made a fool of.  The SNL skit was of the latter ilk.

There are only two candidates major or minor who have the gravitas which contemporary Americans crave…no matter how much they may claim to love their MTV: Barry Obama and Chuck Baldwin.  On various grounds I prefer the latter.

Barr?  No gravitas there I’m afraid.   Nader?  Perhaps humorous in the sense of another SNL spinoff: “Groundhog Day.”

“I Believe Every Crisis Creates Opportunity!”:Sarkozy aka Napoleon IV rears his ugly head!

October 16, 2008
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Can Europeans be better NeoConservatives than Americans?  Yep, they’re gonna Party like its 1787!

The European council has just finished its deliberations “with complete success.”  What a contrast between the long faces of Bush, Paulson, Bernake and Co.. and the smiling faces of the representatives of Europe’s technorati.    Since the gloom and doom has pretty much spread itself around the world in equal measure, what strange variable has caused this burst of euphoria among Europe’s unelected leaders?

In the US of A, the economic contraction only facilitates the further entrenchment of the federal government as the arbiter of human destiny, through the Economic Stabilization and Recovery act of 2008.  But in Europe where a federal system is still nothing more than a gleam in its wannabe founder’s eyes, the economic crisis is creating the kind of precedent that Shay’s rebellion offered for the US federalists in 1787.  The gloating techno-elite is talking in only slightly veiled terms of a reinstatement of the Lisbon treaty, Europe’s equivalent of the document which, produced by the constitutional convention, became the constitution of the United States.

Someone lightheartedly suggests, “I am sure that President Sarkozy would like to become the first leader of Europe.”  Sarkozy makes no objection.

Somewhere in the North Atlantic an entire country is sinking.  Nobody pays any attention to the distress signals.  Sarkovsky continues with his Cartesian sang-froid.  “We should be thinking about many things…how many currencies we should have in the world….”  Everything is up for grabs, the time of the great promulgations is at hand, a time to utter edicts which will decide the course of future generations.  The European Commission acting as a Committee of Public Safety…who’s head will stay on who’s head, and prevail to think the thoughts of the future human race…if we decide, indeed, to call it “the human race”?  

And, (this being in the thoughts, not the spoken councels, of the Eurocrats) as for that small country sinking in the North Atlantic.  That too can be made use of!  Even the American federal government could not come about without making examples of certain recalcitrants.  These Icelanders…how much they resemble South Carolina in the time of DeToqueville!  Let them become an Autonomous Republic of the Russian Federation!  That will teach anyone who refuses the terms of our Union!   And while the American incident was post facto to union, ours will be ex ante!  You see, we will outdo the Americans in the end!

Corageous Christian Pacifist Lawrence M. Vance Endorses (almost) Chuck Baldwin

October 13, 2008
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“The Lesser of Two Goods”

Author and writer on moral theology Lawrence Vance has penned an incisive analysis of presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin’s politics on the Lew Rockwell site:

I would like to say that this is an endorsement by Vance of Baldwin, but for technical reasons only fully comprehensible to theologians in Pensacola FL, Vance eschews the formal term “endorsement.”

Let’s face it, for us ordinary sinners (libertarians and whatnot) Pensacola FL is a pretty scary place, stuck as it is out on the Gulf Coast between the hard place of military discipline and hard rock of its flourishing and fundamental churches. So Mr. (I think he is a lay-theologian not a Rev.) Vance has come to the aid of us backsliders and philistines, with the assurance that his fellow Pensacolan not only has no intentions of establishing the Kingdom of God by edict…but that his version of liberty under the constitution is actually more reasonable and practical than anything that the Libertarian Party has managed to come up with in recent history.

Let’s face it, a lot of hand holding and reassurance is in order. If you have ever been to Pensacola you’ll realize that it is nothing so much as a miniaturized and modernized version of ancient Constantinople. It was said that in Constantinople of the fifth century that if you went to a baker, in stead of the price of bread you would have to defend your understanding of the Trinity, if you went to a barber the small talk was all about the economy of the Incarnation, and if you had your shoes repaired you were liable to stumble on the cobbler’s opinion on valid apostolic succession. Likewise a rigorous Pensacola lay-theologian like Lawrence Vance does not allow loose language like “endorsement” to pass his lips, for it might put the rest of us under obligation to vote for Chuck Baldwin at penalty of near-mortal sin.

Endorsement or none, one gets a very edifying view of Baldwin from Vance’s article. Interestingly enough the two Pensacolans are not close friends, which eliminates the “favor” factor. And Vance being Vance: he rails against military service in wartime as intrinsically evil and sinful…that in a town crawling with naval service men, we can eliminate the “fear” factor as well! So Vance’s quasi-endorsement (remember the Ron Paul’s was really only “qausi” as well) is not only made without fear or favor…but is an attempt to overcome fear itself. The fear, by libertarians, of Pensacola Baptists.

Given that our choice in the major parties is between a stealth Socialist and an aging bipolar militarist, it is time to confront our fears. So listen all you lifestyle libertarians out there, take a swig of Jack Daniels or a puff of marijuana, screw up your courage and vote for the preacher man!

The republic you save may be your own.

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