Wednesday, August 22, 2007
These are a bit hard to make out, so on one side we have: The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama; Grand Illusion, which attacks Giuliani's record after 9/11; Living History by Hillary Rodham-Clinton; A Woman in Charge about HRC; Winning the Future by Newt Gingrich, who isn't running, by the way; Four Trials by John Edwards and Character is Destiny, a collection of short stories gathered by John McCain. On the other side, we have: A Mormon in the White House?, which is, admittedly, a slobbering defense of Romney; Between Worlds by Bill Richardson, Her Way, an unauthorized but mostly sympathetic biography of HRC; It Takes a Village by HRC; Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama and finally, Leadership by Rudy Giuliani.
So where does that leave us? Out of thirteen books total, we have six books actually written by Democratic presidential candidates, two books about HRC, and one book attacking a Republican candidate. That's nine out of thirteen, almost 70%, of the campus book store's "On the Candidates" series for the Democrats (including one that's just attacking a Republican). On the other hand, we have two books written by actual Republican presidential candidates (and of course, they couldn't put Leadership on there without having Grand Illusion on the other side. Not that I'm a fan of Giuliani, but still.), one book by a Republican who isn't running for president, and one book defending a Republican presidential candidate.
Now, maybe this isn't evidence of liberal bias on campus. Maybe it just means that the Republicans on campus have better things to do than read books by/about presidential candidates. You know, stuff like studying, working, or maybe doing shots of whiskey out of a stripper's navel. But take this into context with the actual school books required for some of the classes. I recall seeing a book by leftist icon Mumia Abu Jamal, many books on the negative impact of industrial civilization on the environment, and a virtually countless, mind-numbing array of race- and gender-baiting books decrying the evil that is the White Male Power Structure(tm). The only thing missing (and I probably just didn't see it) was the complete works of Noam Chomsky. And I haven't even mentioned the bulletin boards all over campus, which are an eclectic mix of job advertisements (including one for the Democratic Party of Kentucky. None for Republicans.) and seminar fliers for topics like "Black Lesbians" and "Ten Things Men Can Do To Stop Gender Violence." I'm considering whether I need to invest in an armored codpiece to protect against impending emasculation.
I'm still very excited to be back in college, and I'm enjoying the university setting so far, despite the minor annoyances of megaphone-wielding fratboys hawking their juvenile social clubs and the milieu of clueless hipsters who think pink and blue hair, combined with enough piercings to look like they just lost an intense battle with a tackle box, will make them a unique individual, just like all their friends. I am, however, beginning to wonder how Republicans, conservatives, libertarians and other non-lefties manage to make it through four years of college with their sanity intact. But, I figure if I can handle four years of daily ass-chewings, intense physical training and multiple deployments to hostile climates with hostile residents, college will be a walk in the park.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Friday, August 10, 2007
Dr. Paul and I talked briefly about why so many veterans are supporting Ron Paul, and I pointed out that, having taken an oath--and pledged our lives--to uphold and defend the Constitution ourselves, we have a tremendous amount of respect for elected officials who take that oath seriously. We also discussed the multi-billion dollar arms deal Secretary Rice plans to offer several countries in the Middle East, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain. Aside from the fact that we're arming oppressive and unstable regimes in the most highly unstable region of the world, we also get the added benefit of instigating an arms race in the Middle East. Does anyone seriously think that Iran will have any choice but to seek The Bomb if surrounded by extremely well-armed, unfriendly neighbors? Does anyone seriously believe Khomeini and Ahmadinejad incapable of procuring any of the thousands of nuclear weapons in former Soviet-bloc nations--Iran's back yard?
Another topic of discussion was immigration. Dr. Paul pointed out that we don't need new laws, we need to enforce the laws we already have, and maybe stop sending our border guards to Iraq or prison. He also said that the best way to deal with immigration is to take away the incentive of entitlement programs for illegals, including birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants--a deliberate distortion of the 14th Amendment. He also pointed out that Ron Paul voted for building the border fence. I was a bit distracted by my Kentucky Hot Browns (a delicious open-faced turkey sandwich with cheese and bacon, highly recommended!) and didn't hear who said the word, but someone referred to the border fence as "Berlin-esque." I had to laugh a bit at that, not because it's an absurd comparison, but because I said to a friend of mine a few days ago that if we'd built a fence back in the 1980s, we could have had the grotesque spectacle of Gorbachev saying, "Mr. Reagan, tear down this wall!" I'm fully aware that something must be done about the border situation, and as much to protect us from Islamic terrorists as to stem the tide of illegal immigration. I just wish it didn't take a wall to do the job, and I'm completely unconvinced that a fence will be effective without ending entitlements for illegals, vigorously enforcing immigration laws and stepping up the Border Patrol.
I asked about abolishing the Federal Reserve and, if not returning us to the Gold Standard or 19th-Century bimetallism, at least moving us toward a commodity-backed currency. Dr. Paul said this could possibly be accomplished by changing Legal Tender laws so that private currencies could compete with Fed notes. This is an interesting idea, and I'm not going to pretend I have the economics acumen to know exactly how this would work, but I certainly think it's something worth pursuing. I expect President Paul would probably have a team of economists (of the Austrian school variety, naturally) working on this on January 20th, 2009.
I also asked about what a Ron Paul cabinet might look like, given that he has mentioned (in a television interview in New Hampshire, sorry no link) George Mason University economics professor Walter Williams as a potential VP. Unfortunately, this isn't something Ron Paul has really focused on, and I can certainly understand why. After all, we're still many months away from the primaries, and the primary focus (no pun intended) now needs to be on building a campaign, not building an administration. Still though, I'd love to hear some name-dropping. Judge Andrew Napolitano for SCOTUS, maybe?
Another gentleman asked about what a severe downsizing of the federal government--our nation's largest employer--would mean for the economy. He made the unfortunate mistake of offering up IRS agents as an example, since Ron Paul would close down the IRS almost immediately, if he could. Dr. Paul answered that government is fraught with inefficiency, and is not the best delivery agent for any goods and services. This is a good point; many of the services offered by our government--and the jobs that go with them--should be moved to the private sector. I also pointed out that something like 1/4 of our federal employees are due to retire in the next four years. You don't have to put them out on the street, just don't hire replacements. And I couldn't resist having a bit of fun with the example of IRS agents. I mean seriously, who cares if tax collectors are unemployed? I get a little misty-eyed just picturing a tax man wearing one of those barrels like you used to see in cartoons and panhandling for change. But we don't have to throw them all out in the street; probably at least half of the bastards at the IRS ought to be thrown in jail.
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Mr. Guariglia has written a rather sad excuse of a hit piece attacking the foreign policy concept of blowback. This piece is noteworthy only in that it's the first time (AFAIK) that someone has actually tried to seriously address Ron Paul's foreign policy stance. It seems that the "ignore" phase is over with; neoconservative pundits are now in attack mode. Seriously though, if this is the best they can come up with, we've already won.
People like Nick Guariglia, Rudy Giuliani, and Bush's entire administration are willfully self-deluded if they believe the terrorists hate us for the 1st and 19th Amendments and Baywatch. Guariglia's intellectual bankruptcy is evident by the fact that he resorts to ad hominem attacks against Michael Sheuer--who spent many years of his life studying bin Laden and fundamentalist Islam--rather than actually addressing his points. Here are some facts, with cited sources (Guariglia doesn't seem to be familiar with these) which clearly contradict this "feel-good" neoconservative explanation for terrorism.
The initial target [of al-Qaeda after Afghanistan] was not the U.S. but the governments of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which al-Qaeda claimed were corrupt and too beholden to the U.S. It was only after the Gulf War, by which time bin Laden had moved his operations to Sudan (he would later be forced to shift back to Afghanistan), that he started to target Americans. (TIME Magazine, Nov 4, 2001)
[Usama bin Laden] … stresses grievances against the United States widely shared in the Muslim world. He inveighed against the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, the home of Islam’s holiest sites. He spoke of the suffering of the Iraqi people as a result of sanctions imposed after the Gulf War, and he protested U.S. support of Israel. (The 9/11 Report, section 2.2: Bin Laden’s Appeal in the Islamic World)
[F]or over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.
The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim. (Usama bin Laden’s 1998 Fatwa)
U.S. policies and actions are increasingly seen by the overwhelming majority of Muslims as a threat to the survival of Islam itself. (Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force)
Muslims do not ‘hate our freedom,' but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-sided support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the longstanding, even increasing support for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan, and the Gulf States. (Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force)