Conservative Political Commentary

[Under the Radar?] Anti-socialist, anti-communist, anti-globalist, pro-Constitution, and usually with an attempt at historical and economic context (This blog was given its name before I decided it was going to be a political blog.)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ron Paul Deserves Serious Consideration in the Presidential Race

Ron Paul, member of the United States House of...Image via Wikipedia
 Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), Presidential Candidate
The fiscal and monetary mess America finds herself in these days, daily aggravated by the current administration and the Federal Reserve, brings positive attention to the candidacy of Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX). The establishment and the media usually try to portray him as a fringe candidate or “cult” figure who need not be taken seriously, and really try to ignore him entirely. But that is a tactic that won’t work as his principles become more widely known.

There is much about Ron Paul’s candidacy that is appealing, and to a lot of people. It’s true that his devotees are very highly motivated and loyal. But his presidential candidacy, if it is to have a chance at success, must reach people who know little to nothing about him, or are just beginning pay attention to him. Certainly he had been calling attention to the nation’s financial troubles well before they reached a crisis stage.

Also, Ron Paul calls for strict adherence to the Constitution and wonders why this should make him seem extreme. Let’s take a look at some of his main positions on issues. He has shown himself to be a principled and consistent advocate on these things, and can show documentation and make convincing arguments for most, if not all, of his stands. One may agree or disagree, but one doesn’t have to be in doubt about what he thinks.

1. He is a proponent of individual liberty. This is supposed to be a purpose of the Constitution and yet his detractors think that this is somehow unseemly, and are too willing to ask Americans to give up liberty in exchange for promises of security. As a libertarian, one might expect individual liberty to be high on his list of priorities. It certainly is not high on President Obama’s list. The top thing on his list seems to be expansion of government size and power.

2. He believes in protecting property rights. This is another aspect of the Constitution which has been too often ignored, but the right to own and use one’s private property is a fundamental principle of freedom. As Thomas Jefferson said, “He who is permitted by law to have no property of his own, can with difficulty conceive that property is founded in anything but force.” [1]

3. He believes in protecting life. Dr. Paul is a physician who has delivered many babies and has an understanding of not only the physical beginning of life, but also the tragic brutality of abortion. His concern extends to all stages of human life.

4. He understands the facts of economics: the futility of deficit spending, the dangers of fiat money, and the unsustainability of America’s current economic trajectory. A hit piece on Rep. Paul and Austrian School economics appears at The Daily Caller, but its points are well refuted by some who commented on the article.

5. He wants to phase out our central bank, the Federal Reserve, and get America back to the gold standard. Otherwise, we will never see the end of the boom-and-bust cycles, constant inflation and thereby, devaluation of the dollar. The ability to create money out of thin air must lead in due course to monetary collapse. Paul would like to restore to Congress its constitutional duty to deal with monetary policy, which they have handed off to the Fed, whose main interest has been in protecting big banks.

6. He opposes our constant wars. In addition to Iraq and Afghanistan, we now have military operations in Libya, Yemen and other places, possibly soon to include Syria. These wars are either not approved beforehand by Congress, or not being fought with a view to winning, or both. These wars are a constant and huge drain on financial and other resources, and especially human life, and mostly fail to actually advance our vital interests. I believe he would want to maintain a strong defense capability, but he certainly is not interested in forced nation building around the world, or trying to maintain an empire.

7. He would end foreign aid. Most of it is wasted on regimes that oppress their people and don’t wish us well either. I would rather maintain some support to countries, such as Israel, that are our actual allies, so I would disagree with him here.

8. He would scale back government regulation. He does not recognize the Executive Branch as having legislative power. He would help the states to claim their constitutional rights and responsibilities.

All these things and others, to me, represent legitimate conservative views that deserve serious consideration. The media say Paul has no chance of becoming president. Despite a virtual media blackout on Ron Paul, even though he was barely edged out in the Ames, Iowa Straw Poll by Michele Bachmann, he did manage to appear on Piers Morgan’s TV program (interview video here), and also was defended on The Daily Show by Jon Stewart.

To say the least, the election of Ron Paul as president would be something of a shock to the establishment (like the Tea Party?) He would make some fairly fast changes in our government, but he would still have to deal with Congress and the bureaucracy. I think he would be far better in the White House than Mr. Obama.

There are some good GOP candidates. The campaign will give each of them a significant test. I believe that Ron Paul deserves consideration as a leading candidate. He will get his message out, whether the MSM wants him to or not. It is true that the establishment has some fear of him. They have a vested interest in the status quo. Maybe Ron Paul just makes too much sense.

[1] Thomas Jefferson, to Bancroft, 1788. Quoted by Patriot Post 08/17/2011.
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Our Tax Dollars at Work: Obama’s Bus Tour

Not Obama's bus
No one doubts that an incumbent officeholder has some advantages when running for re-election. President Obama, of course, has the power of his office working for him during the presidential campaign. But to what extent is this advantage ethical or even legal? It would surely be hard to get anywhere with legal action against Obama’s campaign activities, but one might question a couple of the excesses. I mean (1) his supposed need for  two taxpayer-funded buses costing $1.1 million each on which to make his (2) taxpayer-funded campaign tour.

The following video, via Dakota Voice tells something about this:

The president has carped and lectured on excesses of spending to private jet owners, Las Vegas vacationers, etc., but he has seen no reason not to send Michelle and friends on a vacation to Spain, where they had to clear public beaches to allow the First Lady’s group to frolic in the sand, nor to use Air Force One for personal “dates” with the First Lady in New York, Europe, or wherever.

I haven’t heard from anyone who doubts that the President’s “listening tour” is simply a campaign tour, or that the ultra-fancy bus is a campaigning vehicle. The expenses of these things should be paid for by political supporters, not taxpayers in general.

Of course, the president can also get free TV time whenever he wishes, but by now, he may be reluctant to use it too much, since each appearance lately seems to be followed by a drop in the stock market, and also his poll numbers.

I suppose the president believes in public funding for (his) political campaigns. But where does this cross the line? Of course, all this is a minor issue compared to the economic threats currently facing our country. But Obama’s tactics do not seem to represent financial caution or much concern about the public treasury.

Further reading:

Emily Miller, “MILLER: Obama’s Bus Force One,” 08/15/2011, The Washington Times.

Illustration: Public domain image courtesy of The Crittenden Automotive Library.
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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Don’t Blame Me, I’m Just the President

Official presidential portrait of Barack Obama...Image via Wikipedia
President Barack Obama
News item:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Monday he inherited many of the country's problems with high debt and deficits when he entered the White House, sounding a theme likely to dominate his 2012 re-election campaign.
* * *
President Barack Obama would have us believe that he’s doing, and has done, his dead-level best to get America’s economy back to where it should be. But he’s been obstructed by everyone else, especially those Tea-Partiers, GOP leaders, and European problems, not to mention the Japanese tsunami, and probably global warming.

There are numerous issues on which Obama and Company are so wrong that the U.S. economy is being wrecked, or, as Ben Stein mentioned a year or two ago, they’re standing on the economic oxygen hose and the patient is getting worse.

“A Theme Likely To Dominate His 2012 Re-election Campaign”
In 2008, Mr. Obama campaigned as one who seemed to have the answers, knew the best strategies, and, while criticizing the Bush Administration, offered no hint of thinking that they had created any problems that he couldn’t overcome. Yet now, Bush is going to be blamed as Obama runs for a second term? He’s going to have to spend eight years undoing Bush’s damage? Seems that will be his message, according to Reuters.

“Tea Party Downgrade”

A recent Democrat talking points memo had David Axelrod, John Kerry, and others putting forth the phrase “Tea Party Downgrade,” as though the intransigence of the Tea Party is what resulted in the credit rating downgrade of U.S. securities by Standard and Poor’s. The agency followed up on Monday, August 8, 2011, with downgrading Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and other federal institutions. The explanation for blaming the Tea Party for any of this is the ludicrous claim that they refused to “compromise,” and that, as Axelrod stated, the ratings agency was looking for revenues. Standard and Poor’s explicitly said that they weren’t addressing that aspect, but they were concerned with the increasing debt, and the lack of any viable efforts to get it under control.

I suppose it’s George W. Bush’s fault that the Democrats in Congress have not passed a budget in over two years, and that the budget Obama submitted would have accelerated spending and the deficit. Congress could not support it. Nor could they support a bill to increase the debt ceiling without regard to the deficit or spending cuts. Republicans, meanwhile, have submitted actual plans, Paul Ryan’s, and the Cut, Cap and Balance proposals, for instance. All of which were said to be DOA in the Senate and/or on the President’s desk. Tea Partiers were trying to do what they were elected to do, and in the end were influenced by Speaker John Boehner’s fear of allowing a default, and got into line to vote for the insipid plan that finally passed. But at least they held the line on taxes, a not-insignificant thing.

“The Grand Plan”
Obama wanted a “grand plan.” That way, he could put off any cuts until two years down the road (slowed acceleration of spending being regarded as a “cut”), get significant tax increases quickly, and spend several hundred billions more in “stimulus.” But of course he bears no responsibility for the credit rating downgrade. If you believe that he doesn’t, perhaps you’d be interested in a bridge for sale in Brooklyn. But even the “grand plan,” never saw the form of an actual proposal written down on paper. So of course the President couldn’t be held to anything he might have said.

If you listen to the president and his helpers, you get the idea that our economic problems would be solved if only those corporate jet owners and the “rich” would pay their fair share. Not mentioned is the fact that the top percentiles of earners pay the overwhelming majority of income taxes, and about 47 percent of American workers pay no income tax. But the problem is not taxes. The problem is spending. You can be sure that if taxes were increased today, Obama would quickly find ways to spend every cent of any increased revenue (and not toward retiring the debt), and soon revenues would actually be lower because the economy would shrink even more.  Liberals will never reduce spending and they will always want higher taxes. This should be axiomatic by now. Promises of future reductions are made, but never fulfilled.

So far, there have been no spending cuts, and the Democrats are calling for more spending. Somewhere, John Maynard Keynes is probably smiling. But most of us are not.
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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Thoughts on the Federal Reserve and the Banking Cartel (OK, a Rant)

Mayer Amschel RothschildImage via Wikipedia
Mayer Amschel Rothschild

“Give me control of a nation's money and I care not who makes her laws.”   – Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812), “founder of the Rothschild family international banking dynasty….”

The well-known formula for making money, “buy cheap and sell high,” is practiced to the extreme by the Federal Reserve, which has monopoly control of the nation’s currency. They literally “make,” i.e., create, money out of nothing, and then loan it out at interest. As Ron Paul has reminded us, the U.S. owes $1.6 trillion to the Fed (a “debt” which he has introduced a bill to cancel). A nice business to be in, and the private banks that own the Federal Reserve system likely wouldn’t trade it for anything. The big banks are able to rely on the Federal Reserve for bailouts, if needed, allowing them to keep their earnings privatized, but socializing their losses, i.e., charging them to the taxpayers, if they get into trouble from, say, high-risk transactions.

And the Fed and the Treasury Department are all too ready to come to the rescue if needed, as they did in 2008. They even forced some banks to take money whether they wanted to or not. That way, they could keep secret the identities of banks that were actually in big trouble. The bailouts also included some foreign banks. One can’t help wondering why Lehman Brothers was allowed to fail, but others were not.

Well, that’s water under the bridge now, I suppose, except it really isn’t. Nothing prevents further bailouts, and there are still entities “too big to fail.” It must be nice being part of a cartel where profits are assured, and if for some reason they don’t happen, government, or the Federal Reserve, or both, step in to save the day. Within months, the situation is well in hand, and executives who drove the organizations to near-bankruptcy are (with some exceptions) back to receiving their large bonuses, and waiting for the next bubble to burst.

With the government’s gracious assistance, the Fed has to its credit numerous booms and busts, the Great Depression, the abolishment of the gold standard (and therefore, the end of sound money), the confiscation of citizens’ gold, the dollar’s continuing shrinkage in value, the meltdown of 2008, big bailouts, the dollar’s currently threatened status as the world’s reserve currency, and the current sour economy that shows very little sign of improving much any time soon. Yet the computers of the Fed continue to create whatever quantity of money might be desired, often with the stated hope of creating inflation. The ideal level of inflation is zero. Anything above that steals purchasing power from everyone who holds dollars. The ideal interest rate is that set by the free market. The artificially low rates rob savers of any appropriate return on savings, yet retains high-interest costs of commercial bank credit, e.g., credit cards, etc.

It seems the government wants everyone in a state of fear or anxiety over what government fiscal and domestic policy is going to turn out to be, leading to the likely conclusion that the government authorities are perfectly OK with the economic and social turmoil they create, as long as it helps increase and bolster government control of the economy, and expands citizen dependence upon government. I have about given up on thinking that either the Fed or the Obama Administration is really interested in improving the economy, and am inclined to think that they are accomplishing what they set out to do, that is, impoverish and control people more and more. If this is not the case, they must be hopelessly inept. But they are very willing to cooperate and plan things together, things which now threaten to topple our currency and our economy.

I am optimistic that, with strong and sustained effort, this trend can be reversed; but there will be no cooperation from the Fed or the current administration, and success is far from assured. It’s either staying optimistic or studying those conspiracy theories more.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Is This the Best We Can Do on Debt Right Now?

President Barack Obama confers with Federal Re...Image via Wikipedia
President Obama and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke

The debt-limit deal appears to be about par for the course of the incumbent federal government:

     1. Cuts that border on being meaningless
     2. Debt-limit increase that will encourage Democrats to demand more spending
     3. Creation of a “super committee” to recommend cuts. Remember Obama’s debt commission?
     4. Postponing actual cuts until after the 2012 elections
     5. Does nothing to make America’s credit rating look any better. If ratings agencies continue their AAA rating for U. S. debt, it just makes the agencies look like they’re in the pocket of the government.
     6. There is very little to encourage the financial markets, outside of forestalling an immediate, formal default – but for how long?

The only Tea Party victory seems to be that there were no new taxes in the measure, and this seriously offends leftists. President Obama says, not to worry, he’ll still demand tax increases, especially on those awful corporate jet owners and those “rich” people earning $250,000 or more per year. This is one area where the House GOP can put its foot down, if it has the will to do so.

The deal, in essence a kick-the-can strategy, is perhaps the best that could be expected with the current Administration in power. As long as liberals are in power, there can be no actual meaningful spending cuts, and there will always be strong pressure for higher taxes. They must fund their beloved projects and keep introducing new ones.

Meanwhile, the “non-political” (but really very political) Federal Reserve continues its secretive strategy of creating from thin air trillions of dollars to eventually bring us hyperinflation. Neither the Obama Administration nor the Fed cares a whit about “transparency,” as they feel their operations are beyond the understanding of the public, who aren’t interested anyway. But that view is becoming less and less justified.

Note the video via The Daily Bail, in which it is pointed out that presidential candidate Obama lied seven times in under two minutes:

Sure, no more secrecy.

Via the same site, a video with some input about the secrecy of the Fed, whose so-called Inspector General seems to know little to nothing about what the agency has been doing, months after the fact of some multi-trillion-dollar transactions. Or if she knows, she’s not talking about it.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is correct in saying that the budget/debt/deficit problem will not be solved while Barack Obama is in office.

The only real opportunity to fix this extremely serious problem will happen when Republicans take control of not only the House, as now, but also the Senate and the White House. Even then it will remain to be seen what actual steps will be taken that are more effective than letting the situation fester until we see a currency collapse. But with liberals in charge, such an eventual collapse appears inevitable.

Whoever the GOP nominee turns out to be, he or she ought to listen to Ron Paul and the Austrian School economists on these issues. We have some promising candidates who were not on board with debt limit increase, and who have knowledge of what needs to be done. Michele Bachmann and, of course, Ron Paul himself, come to mind. Either of them would operate within the Constitution far more than the does the current regime. It will take an extremely tough and forthright conservative campaign to drive home the extreme danger of four more years of Obama, and an unfettered Federal Reserve, to the American people.

If the GOP fails, we are in for four more years of massive unemployment, higher prices, out-of-control spending, higher taxes, and an economy that will likely take two or more steps backward for every small step forward, with collapse hanging over America’s head like the sword of Damocles. Also more regulation of everything, more endless wars we don’t win, far less personal liberty, and even further lowered standing in the world.

Other than that, everything would be fine.

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