Showing posts with label Ron Paul. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ron Paul. Show all posts

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Perry & Romney Evade Issues, Reveal Constitutional Ignorance

Before giving the my first test each semester, I have a humorous – but very serious – discussion with my students about how to think critically and attack essay questions.

“If I ask you, 'which is more expensive, per ounce – the lemon or the orange?', the following are not appropriate answers:

“I think oranges are too expensive”
“I really, really like oranges!”
“I actually prefer limes in my drinks.”
“Do oranges grow anywhere except Florida?”

Students often laugh at this, but it is a very common college freshman approach on an essay test to write ‘something’ about the subject, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with answering the specific question that was asked. Sometimes it is because the student is evading the question, because they don't know the answer; other times, it is a serious inability to engage in critical thinking.

It is, apparently, not an error limited to college freshman: it appears to be standard operating procedure among Republican Presidential candidates…an error (or tactic) that is exacerbated by their frightening ignorance of basic constitutional law.

At a campaign stop last week, in Iowa, Rick Perry was asked to reconcile his support for limited government with a state anti-sodomy law that was on the books while he was Governor. The questioner mentioned Lawrence v. Texas, a 2003 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court voted 6-3 to strike down the law, in effect legalizing private consensual sexual activity of any flavor. Perry was governor at the time of the court decision.

Perry rambled the following answer:

“I don’t dislike government, I just want government to work” [not an answer]. “We have a federal government that is out of control from the standpoint of spending [not an answer]. And, you know, I wish I could tell you I know every Supreme Court case. I don’t. I’m not even going to try to go through every Supreme Court case. I’m not a lawyer.[ignorance of basic constitutional law decided while he was Governor of the state which was the subject of the decision]. But here’s what I do know. I know they’re spending too much money in Washington, D.C., and $15 trillion worth of debt is on that young man right there [not an answer]. We can sit here and play I-gotcha questions on ‘What about this Supreme Court case?’ [you should know this, Rick] or whatever, but you know and I know that the problem in this country is spending in Washington, D.C. It’s not some Supreme Court case.[Fail]

Later, when asked by reporters if he knew what the Lawrence v. Texas case was, Perry answered, “I don’t. I think I explained … that pretty good there, that I didn’t understand it. I’m not taking the bar exam.”

That was at least a direct, honest answer to the question. It also revealed startling ignorance.

Last night at St. Anselm’s College in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney pulled the same “I prefer limes in my drinks” non-answer.

The exchange began when ABC anchor George Stephanopoulos asked whether Romney believed that the US Constitution contains a Right to Privacy. The question was clearly seeking his opinion on the 1965 case, Griswold vs. Connecticut, in which the Supreme Court invalidated a Connecticut statute that prohibited birth control, even between married adults. This decision established a right to privacy (especially in family matters) in the Bill of Rights, and has been cited for almost 50 years by the Court in subsequent decisions ranging from reproductive rights to home education rights. Here is the exchange:

Romney: “George, this is an unusual topic that you’re raising [non-answer; buying time]. States have the right to ban contraception? [No, they don’t, due to Griswold vs. Connecticut]. I can’t imagine that states would want to ban contraception. If I were a governor or a legislator in a state, I would totally oppose any effort to ban contraception [non-answer]. So you’re asking -- given the fact that there’s no state that wants to do so -- you are asking could it constitutionally be done? We could ask our constitutionalist here” [pointing at Ron Paul, and buying more time].

Stephanopoulos: “I am asking you, do you believe states have that right or not?”

Romney : “George, I don’t know whether the state has the right to ban contraception. [Ignorance]. No state wants to. The idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do that no state wants to do is kind of a silly thing, I think [continued Non-answer. Attack the questioner rather than answer the question].

Stephanopoulos : “You went to Harvard Law School, you know very well …”

Romney: “Has the Supreme Court decided that the states do not have the right to ban contraception? [startling ignorance]”

Stephanopoulos: “Yes, they have. 1965. Griswold vs Connecticut.”

Romney then went on to a rambling non-answer about how Americans have the right to amend the Constitution, and that he favors amending it to ban same-sex marriage [an obvious, “ I-prefer-limes-in-my-drink response]. “But I know of no reason to talk about contraceptions…Contraception, it’s working just fine, just leave it alone" [non-answer].

Stephanopoulos: “Do you believe the Supreme Court should overturn it or not?”

Romney: “Do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v Wade?” “Yes, I do.” [Not even limes any more...he jumps to Kumquats now…]

Kudos to Ron Paul at this point: Stephanopoulos posed the question to Paul, who succinctly answered that the 4th Amendment of Constitution's Bill of Rights includes a right to privacy in the home, and the Commerce Clause, regulating commerce among the states, overrides a states effort to prohibit goods, including contraception.

It really doesn’t matter to me how Perry reconciles his small-government philosophy with his state’s former anti-sodomy statute. Nor does Romney’s stance on Griswold vs. Connecticut matter to me. There is no conceivable way I would vote for either of them. But their failure to grasp basic constitutional law, and their inability – or refusal – to offer direct answers to the questions asked calls into question their fitness to be the Chief Executive branch official of the United States Government.


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Iowa Caucus Analysis: Romney Loses, Even as he Wins

The Republican Iowa caucuses are over, and 122,255 votes were recorded as follows:

Mitt Romney 30,015 (25%)
Rick Santorum 30,007 (25%)
Ron Paul 26,219 (21%)

Trailing behind these three were Newt Gingrich with 16,251 votes, Rick Perry with 12,604 votes, and Iowa native Michelle Bachmann with 6,073 votes.

In dividing their votes largely between Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Ron Paul, caucus goers starkly represented the three philosophical ‘factions’ comprising the GOP, as well as age and income differences. Our conclusions from the votes and the exit polls:

Ron Paul won 50% of those in the 17-24 year old category, 45% of those in the 25-29 year old bracket, and 34% of 30-39 year olds. The younger the voter, the stronger the support for the messages of libertarianism and/or non-interventionism. Paul did well in all college towns.

He also won a majority of voters making under $30,000 annually by more than a 2:1 margin over all the other candidates, and won voters making less than $50,000 by a slim (2%) margin over Rick Santorum. He increased his win from only one county in 2008, to 18 in 2012, with his largest margin in Jefferson County (49%) – home of the Maharishi School of Management and center of Iowa’s peace-oriented Transcendental Meditation community.

Perhaps most importantly, Ron Paul won caucus-goers who were self-described independents, moderates, liberals, and first-time caucus-goers. Every national campaign knows that the battle for the Presidency is won by attracting the great ‘moderate middle,’ something neither Romney nor Santorum were able to do in Iowa.

Rick Santorum’s popularity exploded in the two weeks leading up to the caucus, and appeared to galvanize Iowa’s strong Evangelical Christian vote, winning many of the counties won by Mike Huckabee in 2008. He took the majority of those in the 40-64 year old age bracket, who often represent a more socially conservative, ‘family values’ voting bloc that has been ascendant in the GOP since the 1980s.

Santorum won over 61% of the vote in Lyon County, and won neighboring Sioux & O’Brien counties with more than 40%. These counties, in Iowa’s northwest corner, are some of the most conservative counties in Iowa, and are home to large, ‘Dominionist’ Reformed Churches that teach that government and laws should be structured on Biblical principles.

The biggest disappontment of the night was reserved for supporters of Mitt Romney – even though he won, statewide, by 8 votes.

Representing the old establishment blue-blood wing of the party, Romney won only one age group – seniors over age 65.

Four years ago, in the 2008 caucuses, Romney won 29,949 votes (25.2%) and took 24 counties. Last night, he won with 30,015 votes – also representing 25% of the vote cast. In other words, with four years and a supposed $10 million dollars of advertising under his belt, Romney was unable to expand his base even a tiny bit, increasing his vote by a mere 66 voters.

On the Iowan map (see bottom of post), it appears that the fact that he matched his performance four years ago was due largely to increased organization in a few key locations:

In the eastern part of the state, (which Romney won solidly in 2008 ) Romney lost 7 counties he won in 2008 to Ron Paul, and 1 to Rick Santorum, without picking up any new ones.

On the western border (the Missouri River counties), where Romney also did well in 2008, he lost 4 of the 7 he had won in 2008 to Rick Santorum, picking up only one new county.

It was in the middle of the state – particularly the growing Des Moines – West Des Moines area, where the GOP establishment organized for Romney - that Romney was to pick up 5 counties over 2008, while still losing one to Rick Santorum.

Make no mistake: Romney’s base is aging and shrinking. In spite of 4 years of campaigning, organizing, and spending, he was unable to expand his showing beyond his 2008 performance.

Perhaps Democratic operative James Carville said it best when describing voters attitudes towards Romney:

“It’s like trying to give a dog a pill. They keep spitting it out.”


Monday, January 02, 2012

Why Iowa IS Relevant

Are the Iowa caucuses “relevant?”

Yes. Perhaps now more than ever.

In the interminable weeks and marathon of debates leading up to tomorrow’s Iowa caucuses, pundits and media gurus have been raising the question as to whether the Iowa caucuses will be relevant “if they turn out wrong.” There is no doubt that Iowa Republicans are more likely to reflect agricultural interests and Evangelical Christian fervor than the rest of the nation; but over the last 30 years, the Republican Iowa caucuses have been an accurate snapshot of political temperament in America.

First, it has accurately reflected the mood of the national Republican Party.

In 1980, George H. W. Bush (32%) and Ronald Reagan (30%) virtually tied; libertarian-oriented Congressman Phil Crane took an additional 7% of the vote. The caucuses almost pre-ordained a Reagan-Bush ticket, and foreshadowed a growing conservative-libertarian bloc within the GOP.

In 1988 (Reagan was unopposed for his second term in 1984), the winner was Bob Dole(37%); televangelist Pat Robertson took second with 24%, and George H. W. Bush limped in at third place with 19%. Once again, Iowa taught an important lesson: while George H.W. Bush went on to win the nomination and the election against Democrat Mike Dukakis (in a record-low turnout year), Iowa signaled that Bush was headed for trouble, and would be limited to a one-term Presidency. At the same time, Robertson’s second place finish indicated the growing power of the religious right within the GOP.

In 1996, the winner was Bob Dole with 26%. He went on to win the Republican nomination that year.

In 2000, George W. Bush won with 41%. He went on to win the Republican nomination that year.

In 2008, Mike Huckabee won with 34% of the vote. This win reflected the continuing strength of social conservatives and the religious right in the GOP. The eventual winner of the nomination that year – John McCain – drew only 13% of the vote. His lackluster performance in Iowa found its fullest expression in the general election, when he was defeated by Barack Obama, losing formerly “safe” GOP states like North Carolina, Indiana, and Virginia. Interestingly, Mitt Romney took second place in Iowa that year (25%), foreshadowing his own strength this year.

Second, as a “swing state,’ it has been a bellwether in the national election.

Iowa has voted for the winning candidate in the general election in four out of five of the last Presidential elections, and 7 out of the last 10 Presidential elections. In other words, in recent years, it has become even more predictive of the national outcome. One can point to its racial makeup or economic base as 'unrepresentative,' but the objective facts are that Iowans laregly have their finger on the pulse of elections, rather than simply being a "red state" or a "blue state."

But lastly, the current ‘winnowing process’ that has resulted in a virtual three-way race between Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and a late-surging Rick Santorum, is an accurate reflection of the current makeup – and divisions – within the Republican Party.

On Jan 23, 2011 – just about a year ago – we published an analysis
of the tripartheid nature of the Republican Party as reflected in elections for leadership with the state of New Hampshire Republican Party. We wrote,

In the wake of yesterday's election of Jack Kimball over Juliana Bergeron as New Hampshire State Republican Chair, many news articles have attempted to present this as a battle between "two sides." And in America, we tend to simply battles into just two sides: Republicans vs. Democrats, Packers vs. Bears, Yankees vs. Red Sox, Toby Keith vs. The Dixie Chicks. But the reality behind the scenes is that the state GOP can be divided into at least three different factions, and the direction the party - and the State - will take is a function of how those coalitions come together - or fall apart - on individual issues.

In brief, the three main factions are The Establishment Yankees, The Theocrats, and the Libertarians

Nowhere have three factions become as starkly clear as in Iowa in the last week.

Mitt Romney is the clear establishment favorite: The son of former Michigan Governor George W. Romney, he holds a joint Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard. He was the co-founder and head of Bain Capital, a highly profitable private equity investment firm. With the possible exception of Jon Huntsman, Romney represents the Republican Establishment Blue-Blood tradition.

Ron Paul, a twelve-term Congressman from Texas, is perhaps the single most recognizable voice in the libertarian wing of the GOP. Consistently voicing libertarian positions, Paul often votes against his Republican colleagues on issues involving civil liberties, militarism, and spending. In 1988, he ran for President on the Libertarian Party ticket; He was one of only 66 Congressmen (out of 435) to oppose the original Patriot Act, and one of 26 Republicans to oppose its extension this past year. A veteran, he alone among the Republicans has opposed sanctions on Iran and has called for significant slashing of America’s international military budget.

Rick Santorum represents the clearest and most extreme personification of theocracy in the United States. A strident evangelical Christian, Santorum is actively seeking to galvanize Iowa’s Pat Roberston voters as he openly campaigns on behalf of a “Christian America,” vowing this past week to invalidate all same-sex marriage that have already taken place, and winning endorsements from Bob Vander Plaats, Chief Executive of the Family Leader, and Chuck Hurley, President of the Iowa Family Policy Centre. In an overture to the Second-Coming crowd, he vowed a direct military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

In the last week, the media have used the words “irrelevant,” “overhyped,” and “unrepresentative” in describing Iowa and it’s voters. They have used all sorts of facts and figures about race and religion to try and prove their point. They also question what an unexpected (or “undesirable”) outcome could mean.

But in spite of their nay-saying, the three front-runners - Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum – are an entirely accurate representation of the elements of the current schizoid Republican Party, and the results of the Iowa caucuses for the last thirty years have been highly predictive of the American political mood.

Iowa *is* relevant.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Progressive-Libertarian Coalition: Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich & Noam Chomsky

Will the American People throw off the false Left-Right Paradigm and the Republican-Democratic Duopoly?

(Let's hope so...)

Monday, January 07, 2008

How Ron Paul blew it in New Hampshire

I will vote for Ron Paul on Primary day here in New Hampshire. I have been a Ron Paul fan for a very long time. But he and his supporters have snatched defeat out of what could have been a stunning showing, and its a shame.

The Republican Party has lost its principles and its soul. The GOP used to be the party of low taxes, fiscal responsibility, states rights, and a small-is-better philosophy when it came to the federal government. The Bush Empire has turned all that on its head, running up fantastic deficits, enacting Steel Tariffs, imposing No Child Left Behind on the states, and strengthening the power of the federal government to unprecedented levels through the Patriot Act and related provisions. Surely, somewhere, some Republican must be willing to stand up and declare that the Good Guys have actually morphed into the Evil Empire. For his entire career, Ron Paul has stood squarely in the true liberty-loving tradition of the Republican Party. And for that reason, I will cast my vote for Ron Paul in the Primary.

He has raised mind-blowing amounts of cash on the internet, drawing on the passion of the younger generation that tends to live on the net. But his numbers are not catching on much past the 10% mark in polls, even here in libertarian New Hampshire. Why is that?

Its not because of a media blackout. It's not because of a conspiracy against him.

It's because with all the issues he could have chosen to seize on, he chose the wrong ones: Immigration and The Federal Reserve System.

Someone needs to inform the political operatives that no one here in New Hampshire cares much about immigration. It's a virtual non-issue. New Hampshire is about as far from Mexico as you can get and still be on American soil. The immigrants who do arrive are by and large French-Canadian, and have been part of the New Hampshire social fabric for several hundred years. Further, all of the Republican candidiates are tripping over themselves trying to be the most mean-spirited, anti-immigration candidate...and no one here cares. Worse, Ron Paul is unable to differentiate himself from the pack on this issue. And even more troublesome, is that his position represents a retreat from the libertarian notion of greater freedom and less government.

Worse still is the near obsession that Dr.Paul and his followers have surrounding the Gold Standard and the Federal Reserve System. Dr. Paul has called for the abolition of the federal Reserve and a return to the gold standard. The more I hear him talk about this issue, the more convinced I become that he truly does not understand what he is talking about:

Dr. Paul has staked out this position because of the deblitating effect that inflation has on household savings. And he is correct: inflation destroys savings and value. What he doesnt seem to understand is that the United States has not seen high inflation in generations, and that is due largely to the effectiveness of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Every industrialized nation in the world has a "Central Bank." Most third world countries do NOT. Nations with these central banks experience low inflation (rarely double digits). In fact, the US inflation rate has been a mere 2% to 5% over the last few decades. (The seventies were an exception). Meanwhile, third-world nations without a central bank regularly experience inflation of 30%, 80%, 100%, or more.

The Role of the Federal Reserve System is to control inflation. They have done it, admirably. Authority for the System lies in the Constitution's clause giving the Federal Government the right to coin money.

The falling value of the US Dollar (which Dr. Paul has lamented) has been GOOD for New Hampshire: it means that the Chinese, and the Europeans, and next-door Canadians can now afford to purchase US goods, helping the manufacturing, retail, and tourism sectors upon which the New Hampshire economy is based. Ron Paul's lament about the falling value of the US Dollar carries little weight here: Retailers saw more Canadians crossing the border to buy US goods than ever before, *because* of the falling US Dollar.

And no one gives a crap about the Federal Reserve except college-aged idealists. Yup, that's right. Here in New Hampshire, people are concerned with fuel oil prices, health insurance, social security and pensions, jobs, and taxes.

Ron Paul could speak powerfully to Granite Staters about issues that are important to them. Instead, he has been sidetracked by non-issues.

And as a result, pragmatic New Hampshire voters will select John McCain (who is *not* seeking to be THE anti-immigration candidate), and who's frank talk about REAL issues resonates well with this state.