Comment: Too much work, but...

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Too much work, but...

I was gonna take a stab at this, but man, there are more fallacies and absurdities per sentence in this thing than even the typical Paul Krugman column. I only got through 3 of 9, but I'll post it here. Maybe someone with more time and patience can take up the rest of it... or we can just not waste our time on someone with such an advanced case of craniorectal syndrome.

My responses are in italics.

Why I Cannot Support Ron Paul
by Bob Klauber

I seriously considered supporting Ron Paul. He has integrity and is the first candidate in my long lifetime who is serious about, and not simply doing lip service to, keeping the US out of war.

All else being equal, I would back him. Alas, all else is not even close.

You have thus framed your argument as “I would like to oppose U.S. wars, but…” Let’s take your “buts” one at a time.

The Pros
1. Anti-war
Regarding war, he is 100% isolationist.

I already have to hit pause. What is “isolationist” about wanting to trade with people rather than bombing them or bribing their governments? You already need to define your terms here.

I am 90%. I demonstrated against the Iraq and Viet Nam wars, and agree with him on those, Afghanistan, WW I, and virtually every one of the many US interventions in Latin America. I disagree with him on WW II, Libya, and every case where a crazed dictator tries to commit genocide. (If I had a draft age child, however, this issue alone might put me in his camp.)

So you aren’t really antiwar on principle, but more like only if it doesn't affect you personally or the flimsy excuse for it doesn't appeal to you? In case you haven’t noticed, practically every U.S. intervention everywhere has been sold as stopping “a crazed dictator trying to commit genocide.” The unasked question (well, there are more than one, but let’s just take this one for now) is: Why is it the job of Americans to go off to kill or be killed in some far-off land to take on the newest Hitler of the Week? I see nothing in the Constitution about it being the job of the U.S. government to militarily intervene in other countries. We’re told constantly we need this government to defend us, and that’s why we pay its exorbitant taxes, don’t you know. Well, I don’t feel threatened by what happens in East Whereverstan, and neither should you. (If you do, maybe you can pick up my “share” of the bloated military tax bill.) At what point did “defense” morph into butting into the internal affairs of any and every country not liked by federal neocons?

Let’s look at it from another angle. Are you familiar with the Just War doctrine, where war is an absolute last resort? You think it’s OK that one guy (Obama) on his own say-so initiated death and destruction on another country, Libya, without even making any diplomatic effort at all? Regarding World War II, that’s an enormous subject but suffice it to say it is at the very least arguable Americans needed to be fed into that European meat grinder for us to enjoy peace and prosperity in this country. As for the results of the conflict, half of Europe handed over to the Soviet Union wasn’t exactly a good outcome for the unfortunate people of those countries. Check out “Human Smoke” by Nicholson Baker and consider thinking beyond the cartoon version of history we were all taught.

2. The Fed
He wants to audit and/or eliminate it. Long overdue.

Word, especially since it enables all of those wars.

3. Food freedom
He supports freedom of choice in food (though he does not seem to favor regulations against GMOs being forced on us).

You’re right, because freedom means absence of government controls. How exactly would GMOs be “forced” on you in the absence of government controls?

The Cons
1. His underlying philosophy of life
• A rabid follower of Ayn Rand, whose primary thesis was that selfishness is a virtue. Rand’s philosophy permeates his political positions.

I’ve read plenty of things written both by Ayn Rand (yes, including “The Virtue of Selfishness”) and by Ron Paul, and I think your idea that Dr. Paul is a “rabid follower,” apart from being a needlessly goofy and emotion-laden value judgment, is incorrect. Rand was an outspoken atheist (as are her actual followers, Objectivists), to take just one example, while Ron Paul is a devout Christian. How does the “rabid follower” of Rand believe in Christ? Oh right, he probably manages it because he’s not really a “rabid follower” of Rand.

Also, what is usually ignored by critics of Rand’s philosophy (who probably have never bothered to read any of her arguments but instead rely on other critics’ mischaracterizations of them) is that she advocated something she called RATIONAL selfishness, or ethical egoism. Her moral philosophy is a lot more nuanced than “OMG SELFISHNESS!!1” If you had any interest in understanding the subject, versus just coming up with a stupid “gotcha” argument, you could spend 30 seconds on Google and read here: http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/selfishness.html

I believe the contrary – that we are here to learn selflessness and serve others (which, ironically, is what Paul’s deity, Jesus, taught).

You are so noble. Serve others, unless your lying government tells you it has to go murder some of those others because there's another one of those darn “crazed dictators trying to commit genocide.” Then it’s time to serve them some bombs!

And thanks for pointing out in your own piece that you don’t really believe that “rabid follower” of Rand stuff since you acknowledge Ron Paul is a Christian. (And by the way, if you ever do learn how to use Google to do some research, try doing a search of Ron Paul and Objectivism to find out what Objectivists – the real, actual “rabid followers” of Rand – think of Dr. Paul. You’ll be pretty surprised.)

• Doesn’t accept the theory of evolution and apparently believes God created the world in 7 days.

Man, for a “rabid follower” of Ayn Rand, it turns out Ron Paul believes a lot of that crazy Christian stuff instead, doesn’t he? This is one of those red herring arguments that pretty much has nothing to do with anything but is rather designed to make the subject of a hit piece look like he’s nuts. Christians believe God created Man. This is not a secret, nor is it nuts. And the theory of evolution is just a theory. That is why it’s called a theory. For some great skeptical questions that reveal some of its problems, see the atheist Fred Reed: http://www.lewrockwell.com/reed/reed59.html.

What decisions would someone with such a world view make? Is what he says about such other things as far from the truth as this?

Is this such a wild proposition?: An adherent of one of the world’s most well established religions, whose namesake you note taught “selflessness and service to others,” a moral code you further indicated is your own, is probably going to make better moral decisions than any of the psychopaths who are vying to beat him out for the presidency.

You’re really more concerned about what Dr. Paul, a man with a track record of Christian integrity, might do with power than you are with what a Newt, Romney, or Obama, all of whom are confirmed liars and grifters (and in Obama’s case, at least, a murderer), might do? All because you’ve convinced yourself the theory of evolution is the Absolute Truth, and you imagine you know how life originated? News flash: You don’t know any such thing. No one does. So you’re in no position to prattle on about how “far from the truth” Ron Paul is.

2. The environment
• “The greatest hoax .. has been ..global warming”, says Paul. He believes internet self proclaimed “experts” rather than 97% (in an independent poll) of professional climatologists.

So that whole “climategate” thing from a couple years ago completely went by you unnoticed I guess. You know, the one where all the “scientists” (more like political operatives with degrees) were caught red-handed just cherry-picking or even outright making up data to support the anthropogenic global warming thesis? Missed it all, did you?

Look, even if it were established that the earth’s overall temperature were rising, it’s important to note that the earth and its atmosphere are complex systems. We don’t understand or even know all of the inputs and how they interact. It is not “proven” that man is somehow responsible for any change in the temperature. Even if it were proven, we don’t know (see complex systems above) exactly what the impact would be. And if it were determined to be anything worth worrying about, it is furthermore not a foregone conclusion that giving more money and power to politicians and bureaucrats would be the answer. (In fact, given how well that’s worked to “solve” every other problem, if anything, it’s a safe bet that that is NOT the answer.)

Further, despite what the people who peddle this tripe say about how “unanimous” scientists are in their belief in it, I keep running across scientists who don’t believe in it. Funny, huh?

Loss of life from runaway temperature rise would far eclipse that of any war.

Assertions and fanciful what-if scenarios are not evidence of anything.

This, IMO, is the bottom line issue of our age, and it alone prevents me from backing Paul.

Fair enough. You have this opinion, as you note with “IMO,” that a likely non-problem is really the “bottom line issue of our age.” So… I wonder what you think about such other things as far from the truth as this?

• He would abolish the EPA. The EPA has problems due to corporate/political influence, but without it, corporations would be completely free to pollute without constraint. Does this make sense?

No, it doesn’t make sense, because you apparently don’t understand the role of property rights, but believe instead that some federal bureaucracy (influenced by politics, no less! whodathunk?) is all that’s keeping us from inhaling poison and drinking death. Trouble with this opinion is it doesn’t explain how places with the least well defined or protected property rights, like the former Soviet Union, ended up being the most polluted places. (Hint: look up the old problem known as “the tragedy of the commons.”) There is actually a lot of research on the subject of property rights and pollution. Because on this subject you appear to be as lazy a researcher as you have been on everything else so far, you can find an overview here: http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/FreeMarketEnvironmentalism.html

3. Peace?
• “We had no business helping the Jews in WW II”, Paul told staffers, many times.

What staffers? When? In what context, please? You use quotation marks – is this an exact quote?

Was it peace the Jews were experiencing? How can any supposed advocate of peace and saving human life take this position?

You do know that Jews weren’t the only people who died in World War II, right? And I can’t imagine you mean to imply that the lives of Jews are somehow more important than the lives of the non-Jews who perished, either to save some Jews, achieve various military objectives, or as part of Hitler’s pogroms.

It is intellectually permissible, contra your simplistic view, to take different positions on the historical clusterf*** that was World War II. I’ll refer back to “Human Smoke” again as just one example of the moral ambiguity. Lesson: “The Good War” is an oxymoron. No war is “good.”

• He opposed stopping Gadhafi from slaughtering 100,000 people. We shouldn’t have to pay even minimum cost (some air support and no American lives) for someone else fighting for life and liberty? Is this not unbridled selfishness bearing the label of “peace”?

No, it is not unbridled selfishness bearing the label of peace. It is the unbridled naivete of some guy who thinks cheering on the spending of other people’s money and the risking of other people’s lives by the documented serial liars of Washington, D.C. somehow allows him to pat himself on the back for his own moral righteousness.

If you really believe this is what the intervention in Libya is all about, then we may as well stop talking about geopolitics and begin a discussion about something like the Tooth Fairy, where your childlike belief in myths can be channeled into something more suitable than a grave subject like war.

• His peace position is actually an isolationist position, based primarily on US interests (in the “me first” tradition of Ayn Rand). He does not truly care for peace for mankind, but rather for what is good for him and his country, and this is sold by his campaign as “peace”. He is no adherent of the “world is my family” philosophy.

Already addressed the “isolationist” thing. And I don’t really know what’s wrong with expecting the U.S. government, geographically located in the U.S., paid for by the people of the U.S., and ostensibly established by same to “insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” to, you know, have as its institutional aim the interests of Americans. I don’t see anything about any “the world is my family” philosophy in any of the founding documents. And in any case, if you really think the world is your family, why are you the one advocating that they should be bullied and bombed by the U.S. government? Maybe you have a pretty scary and violent family, but most of us don’t…

(By the way, according to your own world-is-my-family standard, why did you not want to save people dying in Vietnam, in WWI Europe, and in the other wars you say you opposed? Perpetual war for perpetual peace, baby... be consistent!)

As for your caricature of Rand's philosophy, let me say that this sort of “altruistic” posturing is indeed what she critiqued because she saw something wrong with people who perpetually called on others to make sacrifices just so they could keep engaging in their own moral self-congratulation. Guess what? So do I.