Wary of Gary

Wary of Gary.

Let me start off by saying that I would like nothing more than to be able to support a Liberty candidate and vote for him this November. I have tried so hard, many times to get myself in the mood for Gary Johnson. Each time I was kidding myself.

You should know that you are free to comment and argue with me, but the purpose of this post is not necessarily to convince people not to vote for Gary Johnson, but just to further explain why I am not going to do so. This may seem unnecessary, but seeing as how this blog had hitherto been given the expressed purpose of supporting Ron Paul, in its own limited way, and that I will be ramping up the volume and frequency of posts, I feel obliged to explain why none of these posts will be featuring support for Johnson’s candidacy, and will instead be more issue-oriented (with the occasional hit piece on Obama or Romney).

So. What exactly is my problem with Gary Johnson? I’ll tell you. It’s not that he’s not a nice guy. It’s not that I doubt his sincerity. It’s not that I would prefer Obama or Romney.  And it’s not just the very few (or perhaps there are more than I initially anticipated) things that he and I disagree on.  But it is, in part, the things he, at times, seems focus on. I can’t listen to the guy without him blah-blah-blahing about gay marriage, taxing marijuana, flip-flopping on everything from heroin to NAFTA, and plenty of other meaningless distractions, all the while that they are mostly distractions he is still going in the wrong direction or not near forcefully enough in the right direction. Sure, he brings up the wars, the Pentagon budget, says he wants to bring the troops home, audit the fed, things like that. And the strange thing is I don’t necessarily disbelieve him. I just think that these things, the real issues, the real issues, the real issues, would be put on the back burner, or more so than they should be. It’s the economy stupid! And as long as you are going to talk about and do things that have virtually nothing to do with the economy, the very least you could do, if you want my support, or my vote, is talk about and do these things in a way I can agree with.

I have said that I would vote for Gary Johnson if he would address some of my concerns satisfactorily. When I originally listed them, I was mainly waxing rhetorical. In my mind, I was (and still am) certain that Gary would answer almost none of them to my satisfaction, which is why those particulars (re-listed below) were ever sticks in my craw in the first place.

What is it about Gary that makes me lose hope of he and I ever seeing eye to eye on these things?

I have seen and heard enough interviews where these things were touched on. None of the interviewers were anywhere near as precise on these issues as I was with my list. Nor would one think there should be a need for them to be so. You see, libertarians make a name for themselves being very rational and analytical about things. So when some radio host or some high mucky-muck in the freedom movement/free market blogosphere asks Gary Johnson, straight up: Do you support humanitarian interventionism? (just one example!), and he opens his mouth and fumbles but you think he’s eventually going to say something rooted in some clause of the Constitution or some fundamental libertarian axiom, and then he basically says “yes,” without hardly a qualification (and then one usually appealing to emotion), and changes the subject to his stance on the current wars, which are winding down and unpopular anyways, and therefore happens to be the same stance as 70% of the American public, who, and I hate to sound like an elitist, are some of the most vacuous and bloodthirsty people on the planet, I am forced to choose between two options in terms of what I can think of him: He is either weak willed (worse yet, a coward) or he is a complete ignoramus.  And let me tell you, I am not sure which one scares me more: Is he afraid of alienating the average Libertarian Party member who is a bleeding-heart socially liberal utilitarian minarchist (nothing necessarily wrong with any ONE of those things, or even a mixture of two or three, but I am not the biggest fan of the overall combination), or does he really know less about basic libertarianism, noninterventionism, and economics than some kids I know who aren’t even old enough to vote?

There have been times when I listen to him speak and after a while I am just cringing in dreadful anticipation of what answer he is going to give next. Don’t get me wrong, the man is a great orator when he gets a softball interview, which is just about all of them these last two months because his handlers won’t let him talk about the real details of the real issues with real people anymore. They already milked that cow and she’s bone dry.

Or maybe I shouldn’t blame it all on his handlers, maybe I should blame it on the fact that because Ron Paul is out of the picture and this is an exciting election, the media, even its libertarian wing, has chosen to fawn rather than vet. 

Anyways, lets delve into those particulars again:

1. Does his pro-choice stance mean he would uphold the Tenth Amendment or ignore it and further erode it?

Gary has stated that he thinks each state should decide. This is a stance I can live with and may even be the best of all possible political alternatives. Except…

Johnson is really in no position to alienate the pro-life vote, so it would stand to reason that he would bring up the states’ rights argument, that he says he adheres to in this case, just a tad more often. Unfortunately for him, he usually just says that he PERSONALLY BELIEVES in a woman’s “right” to choose up until the fetus is “viable.” He needs 15% polling nationwide to get in the debates with Obama and Romney, something I would have hoped for even if I was not going to vote for him, just to get some of his alternative views in the public square (his opposition, though at times mild, to things like the Federal Reserve, suspension of habeas corpus, the income tax, ObamaCare, executive orders, undeclared wars, budget deficits, entitlements, welfare, eminent domain, the UN, bailouts, gun control, etc.). I suspect after alienating a good portion of his potential base, the Ron Paul supporters, he will not get into the debates, let alone win the presidency. We basically have three pro-choice guys running. One is Planned Parenthood’s bosom buddy. Another has ties to abortion mill disposal companies, and has had every conceivable stance on the issue (except this one). And the other, while opposing public funding of abortions, and possibly in favor of states’ rights on the issue (thereby appointing judges who might overturn Roe v. Wade), still would not make life a priority in any way, shape, or form because a) he personally is pro-choice and b) he is against states’ rights on the marriage question and who knows what else.

Here is one article I read that says it is okay to vote for a personally pro-choice candidate because the president, not even through the courts, has absolutely no effect on policies regarding abortion: Abortion, Religion, and the Presidency by Laurence M. Vance. Mr. Vance is essentially arguing that you can vote for the lesser of two evils if the evil in question has no policy consequence. I would buy that argument if I knew for certain that that same candidate would reduce abortions through some indirect mechanism (states’ rights), if given the opportunity to do so, even if he is unwilling or unable to use more direct mechanisms (executive order, signing a law banning abortion, advocating an amendment banning abortion, or appointing judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade).

There are three ways to implement a states’ rights solution to abortion. One is to overturn Roe v. Wade by appointing pro-life or pro-states’ rights justices. Another is to pass a law taking jurisdiction over abortion away from the courts, thus invalidating Roe v. Wade and any other federal court’s decision in the past or future that overturn state laws against abortion. Both of these ways are direct. The third way is simply by refusing to prosecute or punish the states that choose to ban abortion, even if Roe v. Wade is technically still in effect. The President can direct his Attorney General, Justice Department, and other relevant officers to not go after states that nullify federal law or court decisions. Johnson has not clearly stated that would do any of these things. And until he does, no pro-lifer should even consider him. I hope he clarifies whether he would do these things or not. There are so many issues that he has made unclear or conflicting statements on.

2. Does “humanitarian intervention” mean things such as Letters of Marque and Reprisal and Spanish Civil War-type volunteerism (which is illegal these days) or does it mean more undeclared or unjust wars, unilateral or otherwise?

He still has never gone into detail on this, besides, just recently, specifically as it pertains to Kony. I mean, are we just supposed to make the assumption that he’s alright just because of the L that comes after his name? I thought that sort of thinking was what gave us the two-party duopoly! My gut instinct is that Gary really would send in taxpayer-funded US troops. He would probably go to Congress and get a Declaration of War first, and would probably define the mission, engage the enemy, win, and then pull out. Probably. This would therefore be a “legal” war, but by no means a “just” war. Ron Paul (yes, I know, he is not running anymore, but that has nothing to do with the point I am making) on the other hand would only go to Congress if we were attacked first, and then presumably in an even handed way. And if Congress on its own, with no prompting from the Commander-in-Chief, was to unjustly, but legally Declare War, Ron Paul as Commander-in-Chief would probably weigh the two following options: Resign or carry it out as quickly and painlessly as possible. Gary, so far as I can tell would weigh these two options: Carry it out because there is a humanitarian reason to do so or don’t carry it out because there is no humanitarian reason to do so. And need I remind you that George W. Bush campaigned on a humble foreign policy and gave us two quagmires and a world ready to explode. How much more should we be wary of someone who has stated they would go gallivanting across the globe in search of monsters to destroy (or am I wrong in thinking that is the corollary of using trained killers in a humanitarian fashion)? All other things being equal of course.

Gary Johnson did say, and I think this is only a recent thing as a result of pressure put on him by the Ron Paul vote, that he “think[s] Kony could have been more effectively dealt with by letters of marque and reprisal.” And while I could go on about why Letters of Marque and Reprisal are preferable to sending in the troops, the reality is that volunteers acting on their own, expecting no aid from the US government, whether their mission succeeds or fails, would be even better, especially in a situation that has nothing to do with US national security. Letters of Marque and Reprisal would have been the perfect thing to go after Osama bin Laden with, but in the case of Kony, this would be no different than the president having private mercenaries doing his bidding, taking out whomever he deems unfit to continue living. That kind of power in the hands of Johnson would probably not be of too much concern, but to establish that precedent would be unwise, especially in light of the fact that assassinating United States citizens, no charges, no trial, is an accepted prerogative of the executive office these days.

3. When he says, “end the war on drugs,” does he mean, “decriminalize all substances” on the federal level and let the states and individuals decide for themselves, or simply, “legalize marijuana, which we can then tax and regulate like we do alcohol and tobacco,” well?

He means the second one, which I am fundamentally in disagreement with.  I don’t think the Federal government should even be regulating alcohol and tobacco.

4. Is his love for liberty rooted, at least partially, in a hatred for injustice and tyranny, or is it more from a utilitarian, the-greatest-benefit-to-the-greatest-number philosophy?

I already know the answer to this. And as with most other questions, it is the second answer.

5. Should the federal government only prosecute and punish crimes actually listed in the Constitution, or just about any crime that may be a real or perceived problem?

You know, counterfeiting, piracy on the high seas, treason, and international crimes? Gary has never even touched on this issue, one way or the other, to my knowledge. This is a much bigger deal than most people give credit for, and though it is related to the drug issue, is a lot broader than that.

6. Will states be allowed to ignore laws they deem unjust or should the federal government take measures to prevent this, whether through the courts, the legislature, or the executive branch?

Gary has spoken about nullification, but this seems inconsistent with his view of marriage. He wants a nation-wide law providing for one, all-inclusive definition of marriage, all the while maintaining separation of church and state, but why bother with such laws (which, like provisions of the Civil Rights Act, are in clear violation of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, as well as the Fourteenth, which is often misinterpreted in the same way that the Thirteenth is to give the children of illegal immigrants automatic citizenship, that is to superficially uphold the letter of the text through modern interpretation while completely ignoring the spirit of the text through original intent) on the one hand, when you support nullification on the other? It makes no sense!

7. Is getting rid of the income tax and replacing it with the Fair Tax part of a broader plan to eliminate all taxes unnecessary to the legitimate constitutional functions of government, or is it an end in itself?

I’m serious. Taxation is theft. Period. But I have further questions: Does getting rid of the income tax mean abolishing just the IRS and the tax code, or does it include abolishing the Sixteenth Amendment? This question has not even been asked, let alone answered. Given that fact, I would say it is because Gary does not want to waste time on politically inexpedient policy issues that bear no immediate fruit when all he has to do is say something popular. When most people hear abolish the income tax, they just assume you mean permanently. And perhaps in your heart of hearts you do, but that doesn’t cut it. Johnson has basically said (and here is the link) that he would push for the Fair Tax whether the 16th Amendment was gotten rid of or not, which to me is plain stupid. If you are not for completely abolishing one tyranny before you “replace” it with another, how can you guarantee that further down the road there won’t be both at once? You can’t. Especially not as the Government’s need for revenue increases, exponentially no less, with each passing year, thanks to our national debt and unfunded liabilities and the high interest rates that are inevitable in the future. In my book, bad things should not be replaced with slightly less worse things. Once you have gotten rid of the bad thing, that should be the end of it. If that is an impossibility, it should still be the stated goal. Why compromise before you are even asked to? As H.L. Richardson wrote in Confrontational Politics, ”When the liberals step dialectically backward, the conservative attack must be intensified, not diminished.” This means don’t stop pushing just because you have gained some ground. It applies equally to all corners of the political compass, not just “liberals” and “conservatives.”

And those are my concerns and observations, and they are subject to revision. In any case, I do not think Gary Johnson will win, so as I have said before, the only reasons for someone who otherwise is not enthused to vote for him, are, to help him get matching funds, which in my opinion is not a worthy goal unless you plan on handing them back directly to the Treasury or better yet the taxpayer; or to send a message. Sending a message is a great idea. Unless of course, it is the wrong message. And what message would I be sending by voting for Gary Johnson?

I would be sending a message to the Libertarian Party that they can go ahead and keep sending in watered down libertarians and I will loyally support them because I don’t mind watered down libertarians and enjoy sending messages that are about how much I like sending messages rather than actually getting a real point across.

I would be sending the Republican Party a message that says I would vote for whoever they nominate as long as he has more in common with Gary Johnson than he does Barack Obama, which, though that hypothetical person would absolutely be better than Romney or Obama, is absolutely not true and therefore not a message I want to send.

I would be sending the Democratic Party a message that says I would vote for whoever they nominate as long as he has more in common with Gary Johnson than he does Mitt Romney, which, though that hypothetical person would absolutely be better than Obama or Romney, is absolutely not true and therefore not a message I want to send.

I am neither willing nor able to send any of these messages, all of which would emanate from a vote for Gary Johnson. This obviously does not apply to those who would be voting for Johnson for other reasons (like agreeing with his positions) or who think that sending messages that they may not entirely agree with is their civic duty or a dire necessity.

And what weight does winning (whether you define that as winning the election, changing the game, or simply as sending a message) have against violating one’s conscience? If I were slightly more of a compromiser, and if I thought Gary Johnson could win, something I did briefly think was possible, perhaps that would be heavy enough of a thing, for me to consider going against my conscience and making that expedient choice. But so long as there is no likely reward (a win), why would I, hypothetically more of a compromiser, even bother sticking my neck out? It would be pointless.

That is only a hypothetical; I like to think that I would not compromise like that, even with a chance at success. So if I find out on November 7th that Gary Johnson could have been a game changer or even a winner had he just one more vote, I will still not regret the decision I made to write-in Ronald Ernest Paul, M.D.

And in case you don’t believe me, here are some links that went into my decision:

Has the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had an overall benefit for the US? – 2012 Presidential Election – ProCon.org

Gary Johnson disappoints:LP candidate doesn’t understand libertarianism – Richmond Libertarian | Examiner.com

The Humble Libertarian: Gary Johnson vs Ron Paul: The Respective Cases for Ron Paul & Gary Johnson in 2012

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Gary Johnson to Announce His Run for the Republican Presidential Nomination

Is Anybody Out There? I Am Back, With Thoughts on the Upcoming Election. « keimh3regpeh2umeg

Gary Johnson’s false claims spinning out of control – Washington DC Conservative | Examiner.com

Ron Paul or Gary Johnson? Division In the Liberty Movement | The Unconventional Conservative

Gary Johnson’s Foreign Policy: Libertarian or “Strange”? – Hit & Run : Reason.com

Gary Johnson, the Statist Alternative to Libertarian Ron Paul » Scott Lazarowitz’s Blog

“Where Is His Spine?” – Scott Horton & Tom Woods Discuss Gary Johnson – YouTube

Gary Johnson – “Libertarian” Candidate – is Out of His Element « Antiwar.com Blog

Gov. Gary Johnson: I Smoked Marijuana from 2005 to 2008 | The Weekly Standard

Interview: Is Gary Johnson a “Fake” Libertarian? | Washington Times Communities

TheDC’s Jamie Weinstein: Gary Johnson’s strange foreign policy | The Daily Caller

Why I Am Writing In Paul And Not Voting For Johnson « keimh3regpeh2umeg

Gary Johnson Is Seeking the LP Nomination | Lew Rockwell’s Political Theatre

There Is Still No Such Thing As a Fair Tax – Laurence M. Vance – Mises Daily

Somin on Gary Johnson and Ron Paul: A Reply — The Libertarian Standard

The Flat Tax Is Not Flat and the FairTax Is Not Fair by Laurence M. Vance

Ron Paul vs. Gary Johnson on foreign policy – Bob Zadek Show – YouTube

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Gary Johnson Does the National Press Club

Will Young People Choose Johnson Over Paul? « LewRockwell.com Blog

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Gary Johnson as a Lightweight Libertarian

Gary Johnson vs Ron Paul on the issues of the 2012 Presidential election

Yes, Gary Johnson Endorsed Humanitarian War | The Weekly Standard

The Consumption Tax: A Critique – Murray N. Rothbard – Mises Daily

Lustful Foolishness Does Not Mix With Principles in [Market-Ticker]

Gary Johnson: Caveat Emptor by Justin Raimondo — Antiwar.com

Tribalistic Libertarianism | Strike-The-Root: A Journal Of Liberty

Gary Johnson: Keep Guantanamo Open « LewRockwell.com Blog

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: How Libertarian is Gary Johnson?

EconomicPolicyJournal.com: Ron Paul versus Gary Johnson

Ron Paul vs Gary Johnson in 2012 Presidential Candidates

‘This Is a Libertarian?’ | Lew Rockwell’s Political Theatre

Gary Johnson’s Libertarianism « LewRockwell.com Blog

Getting It Straight on Johnson « LewRockwell.com Blog

Sarah Palin and Gary Johnson « LewRockwell.com Blog

Don’t Criticize Gary Johnson? « LewRockwell.com Blog

Give Jon a Dollar: An Open Challenge to Gary Johnson

Lessons from a Bloated Budget by Laurence M. Vance

Gary Me Not On The Lone Prairie, by L. Neil Smith

A Libertarian sales-tax party? « Notes On Liberty

Gary Johnson Gary Johnson; Libertarian failure.

Harry Browne – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Gary Johnson: Statist » Scott Lazarowitz’s Blog

Paul vs. Johnson | The American Conservative

Gary Johnson Gary Johnson supports NAFTA

Can a Tax Be ‘Fair’? by Laurence M. Vance

Free Trade versus Free-trade Agreements

BIG-GOVERNMENT LIBERTARIANS

Two Visions « LewRockwell.com Blog

If I Were Gary Johnson | Tom Woods

WHY THE PRO-NAFTA HYSTERIA?

http://www.lprc.org/tenpoints.html

Gary Johnson 2012?! – YouTube

What I Learned From Paleoism

Libertarianism lite

STOP NAFTA!

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Is Anybody Out There? I Am Back, With Thoughts on the Upcoming Election.

Is Anybody Out There? I Am Back, With Thoughts on the Upcoming Election.

I have been on a sort of hiatus these last few weeks. I was not able to attend to this blog as I created another one that took up most of my spare time. It’s focus was to possibly bring about any one of four things,

1) Have Gary Johnson and Jim Gray both resign in favor of Ron Paul. Gary Johnson would then get back on the Libertarian ticket as the Vice Presidential nominee. Within about a day I realized that this option was not viable because of the Sore Loser laws. Ron Paul “lost” running for one presidential nomination so he could not legally run for president in several states.

2) Have Jim Gray resign in favor of Ron Paul. This option soon came to the forefront as it maximized support without all the legal challenges and loss of ballot access that would occur were Ron Paul to run for president on a post-primary ticket. The effort had until Monday, September 17th to lobby Doctor Paul to tell the Libertarian Party, Gary Johnson, and Jim Gray that he wanted to be on their ticket. Given that that was today and nothing has happened, it appears that this effort has failed.

3) Have Gary Johnson promise to pick up Ron Paul for a cabinet position. Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Treasury, Fed Chairman, what have you. This will be the main focus of my other blog in the weeks ahead. Unfortunately, Gary Johnson has already indicated that he was not likely to do this. There is still time to change his mind and to lobby Ron Paul to accept such an offer, though. This may not even be allowable, so I will be looking into it before I go any further in that direction.

4) Have Ron Paul give an endorsement, preferably conditional, to the Gary Johnson ticket. This could turn out to be the most fruitful option, but quite possibly the least likely given Ron Paul’s seeming commitment to not endorsing anyone. He did endorse all third party candidates in 2008, but that was before he made inroads into the GOP. The progress from these inroads is debatable in my opinion, but I understand why he might be reluctant to jeopardize it.

Having said all this, I stand by my words: I do not plan on voting for Gary Johnson in November. But I would like to qualify those words: Unless Ron Paul is on Gary Johnson’s team. Even then, I would have trouble voting for Gary Johnson, for reasons I will touch on below. A cabinet pick would be the most tempting, followed by a conditional endorsement, and then an unconditional endorsement.

The conditions I would like to see have to do with Gary Johnson’s serious need to clarify several, major points, namely:

Does his pro-choice stance mean he would uphold the Tenth Amendment or ignore/further erode it?

Does humanitarian intervention mean things such as Letters of Marque and Reprisal and Spanish Civil War-type volunteerism or does it mean more undeclared or unjust wars, unilateral or otherwise?

When he says, “end the war on drugs,” does he mean “decriminalize all substances” on the federal level and let the states and individuals decide for themselves, or simply “legalize marijuana, which we can then tax and regulate like we do alcohol and tobacco,” well?

Is his love for liberty rooted, at least partially, in a hatred for injustice and tyranny, or is it more from a utilitarian, the-greatest-benefit-to-the-greatest-number philosophy?

Should the federal government only prosecute and punish crimes actually listed in the Constitution, or just about any crime that may be a real or perceived problem?

Will states be allowed to ignore laws they deem unjust or should the federal government take measures to prevent this, whether through the courts, the legislature, or the executive branch?

Is getting rid of the income tax and replacing it with the Fair Tax part of a broader plan to eliminate all taxes unnecessary to the legitimate constitutional functions of government, or is it an end in itself?

There are other things I wonder about him that are very important, but those listed above are the potential deal-breakers. If he picks the first option in the majority of questions, some being more important than others, I just might vote for him. If he picks the second one in the majority of questions, not only will I not vote for him, but I will continue to be critical of him, being hostile when necessary. Some of these questions have been asked before. But the way they were asked, or the time allotted was not conducive to a meaningful answer.

A lot of conservatives are not too happy about Romney, but they justify voting for him in several ways, most of which are absurd on their face. One of these is that “we will hold him accountable, if he does something we don’t like, we’ll hold his feet to the fire.” This sounds just wonderful. Heck, if I thought it would work, even I would vote for Romney. And I absolutely hate the guy! But anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the Reagan administration, George W. Bush, or the Class of ’94 should reject such folly outright. I say, if you can’t get someone on your side BEFORE the election, cast any thought of voting for them aside. Do not vote for them. Not in the primary, and certainly not in the general election. The same goes for Gary Johnson, which is why I listed the above conditions.

In any case, whether I end up supporting him or not, I do hope Gary Johnson makes it into the debates. I would support ANY third party candidate getting into the debates, even a Communist, because ending the two party monopoly is just as important to advancing the cause of liberty as having a good candidate is. I just don’t think it will happen without Gary Johnson first convincing all (or much more than just “most”) of the Ron Paul vote to support him. 15% is a hard threshold to attain, let alone maintain, especially when most people that might otherwise consider voting for you think getting rid of Obama is priority number one.

Brokered Convention, Vote Of No Confidence

Brokered Convention, Vote Of No Confidence.

It seems that Willard Mitt Romney will be the Republican Party nominee. The RNC and GOP establishment have too much to lose, have spent too much time and money and favors, to allow any other outcome, barring some sort of miracle. The Paul Ryan pick was meant to shave off as many libertarian-leaning Republican voters as possible, in spite of the fact that Ryan, by and large, is either a phony or a lightweight.

Romney’s hard delegate total is 1463. He has a plurality in 43 states. For Santorum it is 234 and 6. For Paul it is 122 and 3. For Gingrich it is 137 and 2. 1144 delegates are needed to win the nomination and five states are needed to be entered into nomination. Romney and possibly Santorum will be nominated because they have the required plurality in at least five states. If just 320 of Romney’s delegates decide not to vote for him, a brokered convention is guaranteed. 320 seems like a lot. But think about it: how many of those are not Romney supporters? Its only 22 percent of the total. And if only two states that give a plurality to someone besides Paul cooperate with with the three Paul plurality states, Paul’s name could be entered into nomination, in spite of the RNC’s efforts to destroy Ron Paul’s pluralities in Maine and Louisiana, which border on the criminal.

But here are some factors that could turn things around. But because most of them are long shots, they probably won’t. Besides, not all of them are compatible with all of the others.

1. No delegates are bound. While, technically each state Republican Party can make its delegates sign pieces of paper promising to vote for Mitt Romney, these “contracts” are not necessarily enforceable in Tampa. And even if they are somehow punishable under state law in the home state of the delegates, I can’t imagine the legal ramifications being all that great. Furthermore, Federal law, RNC rules, and the courts forbid compelling people to vote for a candidate, although once again, there may be ramifications such as getting kicked out of the GOP or being discredited and then replaced with more “cooperative” alternate delegates.

2. Some of Romney’s delegates and possibly some of the alternates are in fact Ron Paul supporters. Some or all of these may have been required to promise to vote for Romney, but once again, there are loopholes that could get them out of doing so without getting punished too bad.

3. I suspect that most of these Ron Paul supporters, whether they are “bound” to Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, or Rick Santorum, would be willing to not vote for whom they are “bound” even if the consequences are great.

4. Gingrich and Santorum delegates are still to vote for Gingrich and Santorum, unless they are released. If they are released, most of those that aren’t closet Paul supporters will probably vote for Romney. But there is hope: many non-Paul supporters, particularly in the Santorum camp, dislike Romney almost as much as the Paul folks do.

5. There are 100-200 delegates still in play, depending on which count you use. They are not “bound” to anyone yet. These delegates could change any number of things, for better or for worse.

6. A brokered convention will not hurt the GOP’s chances in November, which at the moment, are dismal. It will, however, hurt Mitt Romney and the establishment. And frankly, they deserve it. Party unity is all fine and good, but who says a brokered convention precludes an eventual outcome that is even more united behind a candidate? No one but those who actually like Romney and think he can win should be wary of the prospect of a brokered convention.

7. Rand Paul is still on the inside. I have always wondered why he endorsed Romney when he did. His father was still in the race, still picking up delegates. Why not wait until after Romney is actually the nominee? He promised, when running for office in Kentucky that he would support the 2012 GOP nominee, and it seems he kept his promise. Not to mention that his endorsement gave the Paul folks at least some leverage that they otherwise wouldn’t have. But until Romney is actually the nominee, Rand Paul is free to renege without actually breaking his original promise. This could come in the form of a vote of no confidence. If Rand and perhaps others (Maine Governor Paul LePage, South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, perhaps) were to rescind their endorsements at a crucial point (for Rand, this could be his floor speech), it could spell disaster for the establishment and Romney-Ryan. But not necessarily for the GOP’s chances in November.

8. Even if they are unable to command enough of the vote to deny Romney the nomination, those few anti-Romney delegates and alternates at the convention, were they to stage a walkout before the first ballot, could ruin the convention. Especially if they are enough to destroy the quorum.

9. Ron Paul may yet be recognized as having a plurality in five states, in which case, his name could be put to nomination. While the vote for him may pale in comparison to the vote for Romney, his name being available for the first round of voting could deny Romney more votes than he would otherwise be denied. On the other had, the Contests Committee has decided to strip Paul of his plurality in two of five states. The Credentials Committee has upheld one of these. But who knows, maybe something will happen. Maybe someone has an ace up their sleeve. Maybe enough Romney delegates will be replaced by Paul alternates to give him a plurality in five states. Maybe there is some way  some Gingrich and Santorum voters will nominate Paul so as to give him the plurality. If I am correct, you don’t actually have to have won delegates, and they don’t actually have to be your supporters to nominate you. If the majority of delegates from just two of Gingrich and Santorum’s combined plurality-states decide to nominate Paul, it could give Paul the five states needed. Maybe with the right amount of stalling and maneuvering something will happen. Unfortunately, this may not work with the above mentioned walkout.

10. But what about a walkout after Romney wins the nomination? This may seem to be in poor sport, but it might just send the right messages to the right people at the right time. I don’t know what would result from it, but I doubt it would be nothing.

11. Romney needs Ron Paul’s endorsement more than anyone else’s if he is to win in November. Grover Norquist, for one, has said as much. But the establishment, were they to admit this, would have to make some serious, and I mean serious, concessions. This is not going to happen, of course. Not the least of reasons being that the establishment may not even want to win in November. Certainly not at the price of limiting their interventionism, mercantilism, monetarism, and corporativism. So Romney will not get the Ron Paul endorsement, and as a consequence will be that much less likely to defeat Obama in November. Of course, Romney might lose even with the Ron Paul endorsement, because, other factors aside, many Paul supporters would still not vote for Romney.

12. Some elements of the establishment may actually want a brokered convention. Romney is like that. I would have cold feet too. But if it happens, they might not be able to control it. Which is why they will stay in the mainstream fold until they are given more reason to despise Romney (a vote of no confidence by some key endorsers might do the trick) or expect someone else of their liking will pick up the pieces.

Of course, this is mostly just fantasy. But the Paul people have pulled off some astonishing feats in the past. Why underestimate them now?

Real Isolationism: Part Five

Real Isolationism: Part Five.

Isolationism, Noninterventionism, and Interventionism are three relatively broad terms used, sometimes accurately, to describe foreign policy ideas in the United States of America. Isolationism and Noninterventionism are the two most often confused, and under the blanket term, Isolationism, are said to be the cause of a number of tragedies America has faced over the years, most notably World War II. This of course, is largely false. In the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, there were some hardcore “Isolationists” to be sure, who refused to get along with other nations, or accommodate them even slightly. But such persons were never in the majority in power and influence. And there were also your Noninterventionists of many stripes (ranging from those who favored a loose-knit “league of nations” or even a world court to those who favored more traditional relationships with other nations, which also is the Constitutional view). But for the most part, on both sides of the aisle, you had your Interventionists (who today are composed mostly of pragmatists/realists, neoconservatives/idealists, and special interests/war profiteers).

You had your Wilson/FDR/Truman Democrats and your TR/Dewey/Eisenhower Republicans. These were the ones pushing for both World Wars, the downright vengeful Treaty of Versailles, the unamended Covenant for the League of Nations, NATO, and the UN. Last time I checked it was the Interventionists that succeeded in getting their ideas pushed through, which then failed to accomplish the great deeds used to justify their respective ratifications or initiations. Peace in Our Time? Nope. War to end all wars? Nope. World safe for democracy? Nope. Nothing to fear but fear Itself? Nope. Rendezvous with destiny? You betcha!

[This may seem out of place, but I though I should mention it as another ill-effect of interventionist minded policy: There is even a theory that the Federal Reserve System (1913) was created 1) to pay off England’s war debts in WWI (1915), and 2) appear to lesson the tax-burden associated with going to war, so as to make any future wars less unpopular with the taxpayer. No war can last long or have meaningful impact if those funding it refuse to continue doing so. But I don’t like to delve too much into conspiracy, so I will leave it at that.]

In this piece, number five of my series, which has thus far been slow-going and casual, I intend to examine the three broad schools of foreign policy in regards to diplomacy and its effects and purposes, and compare them in a similar manner to that in my pieces on immigration and travel. So, without further ado, I give you…

Diplomacy

Pure Isolationism: Peace can be attained by cutting off all ties with other nations and their agents. Because foreigners are different, their goals are not our goals. Therefore, diplomacy will inevitably result in compromise of our values and our resources. This is true whether we send our agents or entertain theirs. Even where a conflict can be averted or alleviated to the benefit of both sides, diplomacy represents compromise and weakness. The nation will be tainted as a result, and likely singled out to be destroyed or taken advantage of.

Pure Noninterventionism: Diplomacy should be used to further our interests insomuch as they do not compromise our principles, our sovereignty, our liberty, or our security. Peace can best be achieved through “honest friendship with all nations and entangling alliances with none”. Conflict (and its cause, entanglement) should be avoided at all costs. If one arises, undue, drastic measures should not be taken during or after it. Relations should be normalized as quickly as possible. We should not act arrogantly or unilaterally. Where such action may work in limited cases, at specific times, against certain targets, the result will likely be cost prohibitive and dangerous, to the aggressor and victim both, in relations with other nations or the nation in question in the future.

Pure Interventionism: Aggressive actions, including war or the threat of war, can work as well or better than mere diplomacy in furthering the interests of America and in preserving our status as the world’s lone superpower. Security and military strength are the chief sources of peace, even if other nations, and the rights of our own citizens, have to suffer for it. Whether a nation invades, bombs, threatens to invade or bomb, is capable of invading or bombing, or will be capable of such sometime in the future, that nation must be either made into a military ally or attacked, even preemptively. The deciding factors as to which should be 1) how much more our interests could be furthered under one scenario than the other, and 2) how culturally similar or different they are to us. France, for example, is one nation that is positive on both criteria, and Iran is one that is negative on both criteria.

While “peace through strength” is an axiom all should cherish, the nature of that “strength” is different in each of the above camps. The isolationist seeks peace through the strength of ignorance and the interventionist seeks peace through the strength of hubris. It is the noninterventionist that seeks true peace through the strengths of forbearance and charity.


Real Isolationism: Part Two

Real Isolationism: Part Two.

In my May 7 post, I attempted to define the three basic schools of thought in American Foreign Policy. The three are isolationism (best manifested by economic protectionism and closed borders), noninterventionism (best manifested by free trade and diplomacy), and interventionism (best manifested by mercantilism and war). I gave some standard definitions as well as my own elaboration. At the end of the piece I asked a question. I will attempt to answer it in each of my next few pieces. The question is, Which ideology has the most in common with isolationism? Noninterventionism or interventionism?

I will start with a subject, be it commerce, conflict, immigration, or whatever, and state faithfully what the mainstream position of each camp is, contrast and compare those positions, and then, to the best of my ability, determine whether the noninterventionist position or the interventionist position is closer to isolationism. I will do all this in terms of what the policies are, as well as their consequences (intended or not), their ideological origins, and their underlying fallacies.

It is important to note that not all within each of these camps will always adhere to a specific position within their broader categorization.

Take interventionists. Some interventionists like bombing countries unilaterally. Others like to bomb countries multilaterally. Some like to bomb first, ask questions later. Others like to slap sanctions on, wait for the other side to react, and then bomb. Some like to bomb Muslims. Others like to bomb communists. Some like nukes. Others like more conventional arsenals. Heck, some don’t even like to bomb at all, ever. Why should they when there are so many other points at which they could intervene?

How about isolationists (assuming there are any)? Do they all want to slap tariffs on other nations? And if so, to “protect” certain industries, to counter some other nation’s tariff, or to prevent them from surpassing the United States in some way? Do they all want to shut the borders down completely? Or do some just want a fence with some amnesty and some deportation for those already here? And there are probably a few that don’t want a fence, just mass deportation and enforcement of laws on the books. How about that part of the 14th Amendment that grants birth right citizenship? Don’t some isolationists want to repeal that? All of this without even discussing the differences between undocumented aliens, legal residents, and illegal immigrants, which happen to all be different classes. Aren’t some isolationists able to detect these and other nuances?

And then there are the noninterventionists. They can’t really even have their own name! They are just anti-whatever interventionists are usually for, right? Rather, they are deceitful isolationists. Or so goes the conventional wisdom (an oxymoron if you ask me). And I know what else people are thinking. To them I counter: Au contraire, they most certainly are NOT all pacifists, anarchists, skinheads, and States’ Rights nutjobs!

Trust me. I know.

Real Isolationism: Part One

Real Isolationism: Part One.

There is a lot of hype out there concerning the “isolationism” to be found in certain sectors of the Republican and Libertarian parties, as well as in the Liberty movement at large. And who is pushing it? Everyone. Neoconservatives. Republican Establishmentarians. Statist Democrats. Single-Issue Voters. Beltway Libertarians. Pundits. Theocrats. Army Brats. Welfare Rats. Swing Voters. Knee-Jerk Conservatives. Pre-Millenial Dispensationalists. Tea Party Turncoats. The Occasional Occupier. Spokesmen For Our Middle East “Allies”. YouTube Trolls. Powermongers. Powerbrokers. Disgruntled Former Employees. The No-Labels Crowd. And of course, Humanitarians. This is not to say that all members of all these groups toss the term about loosely or with malicious intent, but merely that these are the quarters in which I have encountered this behavior to a greater or lesser extent.

In this piece and the next few, I will attempt to demonstrate that there is no such thing as pure isolationism in today’s world (and I suspect that there never was), and that many of those that use it as a derogatory epithet are in fact among the greatest isolationists to ever set foot on the United States political landscape.

Before I go into attack mode, I would like to define my main terms. In so doing, I will be aided by 1) Merriam-Webster, 2) New Oxford American, 3) Wikipedia, and 4) my own understanding.

ISOLATIONISM

1. a policy of national isolation by abstention from alliances and other international political and economic relations.

2. a policy of remaining apart from the affairs or interests of other groups, esp. the political affairs of other countries.

3. the policy or doctrine of isolating one’s country from the affairs of other nations by declining to enter into alliances, foreign economic commitments, foreign trade, international agreements, etc., seeking to devote the entire efforts of one’s country to its own advancement and remain at peace by avoiding foreign entanglements and responsibilities.

4. Someone with isolationist sentiment or tendencies would want one or more of the following: No alliances. No diplomatic relations. Heavy arsenals. Defensive wars only, probably on our own borders. No trade, protectionist tariffs, or strictly managed trade. Walled borders manned with machine guns to keep out both immigrants and foreign workers. Travel restrictions. Limitations on overseas money transfers. A pure isolationist, of Fortress America fame, would presumably desire all of these things. I don’t know if such a person ever existed, although I have run across comments on “conservative” blogs and news sites, that come pretty close. Often times the kind of people that want to shut down the borders also want pre-emptive military interventionism, and those that want strictly managed trade oppose tariffs.

NONINTERVENTIONISM

1. the state or policy of not intervening.

2. the principle or practice of not becoming involved in the affairs ofothers.

3. a foreign policy which holds that political rulers should avoid alliances with other nations, but still retain diplomacy, and avoid all wars not related to direct self-defense. This is based on the grounds that a state should not interfere in the internal politics of another state, based upon the principles of state sovereignty and self-determination.

4. A strict noninterventionist opposes protectionism, preemptive, offensive, aggressive, and territorial wars, and sanctions; but advocates orderly immigration, market allocation of international labor, free trade, diplomacy, the right to travel, and unrestrained property rights.

INTERVENTIONISM

1. the theory or practice of intervening, specifically governmental interference in economic affairs at home or in political affairs of another country.

2. favoring intervention, esp. by a government in its domestic economy or by one country in the affairs of another.

3. a policy of non-defensive (proactive) activity undertaken by a nation-state, or other geo-political jurisdiction of a lesser or greater nature, to manipulate an economy or society. The most common applications of the term are for economic interventionism (a state’s intervention in its own economy), and foreign interventionism (a state’s intervention in the affairs of another nation as part of its foreign policy).

4. An interventionist might favor any or all of the following in dealing with real or perceived threats, and in some cases allies: Nationalism (including variants of protectionism). Mercantilism. Sanctions. Exploitation of ethno-cultural conflicts. Nation building. Long term occupation. Preemptive wars. Internationalism. Imposition of foreign values. The severing of diplomatic ties.

I will end this first part with a question: Which ideology has the most in common with isolationism? Noninterventionism or interventionism?