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23 December 2007


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J.T. Davis


Thank you for the response.

I guess my question would be this: If Ron Paul's vision is to retreat to Fortress America by bringing all the troops home from every overseas post, and pull out of NATO and the UN, do you think that would prevent any future 9/11 type acts of terrorism? He seems to think so. I think it is good to see this being discussed by a Republican on TV but I wonder if we encourage a rather simplistic view of the complexity of our current situation. That's what I'm getting at, I guess.


"I have always wanted Marcus Aurelius to run for president. I am still waiting. pl"

Be careful what you wish for. We might start a Draft Col. Lang petition.

Michael Murry


The Corporate Oligarchy [no scare quotes required] or Rupert Murdoch, et al, (if you prefer example personifications) have invested monumentally in monolithic communications control (they call it "vertical integration") which typically produces such overpriced and lousy products as Tim Russert and Chris Matthews. Deputy Dubya Bush and Senator You-Know-Her (currently) from New York provide only two additional personifications of the oligarchy: in their case, its revolving-door corporate/political/corporate component. I can provide any number of other names and titles but find doing so both tedious and redundant.

In his opening comment, Pat Lang alluded to the "steering" of public choices into essentially take-it-or-take-it commands. I only added that upstart (dare I say "rabble-rousing"?) candidates like Mike Huckabee indicate by their very existence that the hugely expensive "steering" has not materialized as expected. This obvious and enormous loss of bought-and-paid-for influence dismays those who have tried to purchase it. Ron Paul represents less of a threat to the Corporate Oligarchy than Huckabee because he mostly enunciates the "free-market" (i.e., "visible hand") dogmas that in reality always translate to lavish "free lunch" subsidies for the Corporate Oligarchy.

I obviously support neither the Huckabee/Paul upstarts (because of their discredited party affiliation) nor the Bush/Clinton family profiteers from "public service." As a symbiotic group, they combine to shamelessly exploit pre-scientific, religious ignorance and in so doing have helpd to reduce large segments of America to little more than medieval peasant serfdom. I can fully understand the peasant/serfs getting angry at their mistreatment, but if they continue to cravenly tolerate, if not champion, the Corporate Oligarchy's rampant militarism instead of insisting on first-rate public educations for all of America's people, then I see no useful purpose in their justifiable anger.

One quote from "Dr." Ron Paul sums it all up for me:

"I think it's a theory -- a theory of evolution -- and I don't accept it."

To which ridiculous drivel Professor Daniel Dennett has replied:

"To put it bluntly but fairly, anyone today who doubts that the variety of life on this planet was produced by a process of evolution is simply ignorant -- inexcusably ignorant, in a world where three out of four people have learned to read and write."

If a supposed physician like Ron Paul does not understand how a virus rapidly mutates and evolves so as to make exterminating it nearly impossible, then I wouldn't want him diagnosing the common cold, let alone managing the federal government of the United States.


Col: As an immigrant, I can tell you there is nothing more dangerous to rational American foreign policy than allowing an immigrant or, heaven forbid, an emigree to lecture Americans about their obligations to fix the immigrant's/emigree's country of origin. Look at the track record: the neo-cons and the Cuba Lobby. And now we have the Armenian Lobby in getting in the act. Notice none of the three vocal lobbies--Israeli, Cuban, or Armenian--actually advance an necessary American interest. They lobby for their own ethnic self interest.


Michale Murry,

Nothing, or little, threatens the Oligarchy, except their own suspected incompetence/corruption these days. It ain't my father's Oligarchy. See W.


I am dramatically less impressed with Stewart et al, both the man and the genre. I find myself embarrassed to be watching it. The laughs come easily enough to me in the first minute or so. And then I start thinking to myself: What the F are you doing laughing at this stuff? You watching a show about the end of the Republic. It ain't funny.


Now that my forebears have been dubbed "Industrial Slaves" I must point out it only took a generation or two for them to run this fine country or at least the cities where the money was.. What will occur with the Hispanics in a generation or two....

After watching Ron Paul speak to a group of likeminders in South Carolina I saw the surface scratched and it was not appealing. As normal in most young people they jump at the 1st appealing candidate, thus Ron Paul's backing has not seen a full vetting, it will and he will fall in the first month. My concern is he will be inflated with grandiosity and become the spoiler as the 3rd candidate in the big match.

W. Patrick Lang


I think it is likely that the same thing will happen.

Your ancestors and mine...pl

W. Patrick Lang


I think Dr. Paul (whom I talked to once for all of two hours)is a charming, intelligenct man whose sympathies I share but whose possible willingness to carry principle to the point of execution contrary to the needs of common sense is worrisome.

There is a difference between being against foreign adventure and a stated desire to "take down" American participation in the international bodies which still hold some promise as instruments of moderate policy.

Dr. Pauls says that he favors an "intermediate" policy of some kind as a practical matter. I would like to hear more about that. pl

J.T. Davis


Dr. Paul has "softened" much of his platform to make it more "centrist" and moderate. If a Clinton does it, we call it "triangulating". Dr. Paul comes from the far right of today's GOP. The Republican Liberty Caucus:


Their 2000 Position Statement can be found here. I think Dr. Paul was the Top Dog (Chair) of the RLC at that time:


You can see it has been moderated a bit. These folks have always attacked the neocons from the right.

Alan Wolfe wrote a 2004 article in The Chonicle of Higher Education about the Schmittian and Straussian influences in today's GOP:


This is apparently a handwritten fundraising letter from Dr. Paul:

"I don’t need to tell you that our American way of life is under attack. We see it all around us — every day — and it is up to us to save it.

The world’s elites are busy forming a North American Union. If they are successful, as they were in forming the European Union, the good ‘ol USA will only be a memory. We can’t let that happen.

The UN also wants to confiscate our firearms and impose a global tax. The UN elites want to control the world’s oceans with the Law of the Sea Treaty. And they want to use our military to police the world."


There are also some rumors that some folks want to see Dr. Paul retire from congress, move to NH and run for governor, giving the NH Free State Project a much needed boost. I suppose he can do that after a 3rd party run, unless he gets to the WH.

J.T. Davis

"pl...There is a difference between being against foreign adventure and a stated desire to "take down" American participation in the international bodies which still hold some promise as instruments of moderate policy."

This is my concern. While I was doing some research on Washington's farewell address I came across this piece by Patrick Garrity in the National Interest:

"Patrick Garrity, "Warnings of a Parting Friend (US Foreign Policy Envisioned by George Washington in his Farewell Address)," The National Interest, No. 45, Fall 1996"

He concludes:

"Certainly, to be true to themselves, Americans cannot ignore the safety and happiness of other nations and peoples. We must continue to have "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind." But certain, too, is it that Americans will not be true to themselves if they allow the pursuit of virtue to justify behavior on their own part that in others they would readily recognize as imperialistic or hegemonic, and if they define American interests in such a way as to demand the nation's intervention virtually everywhere and in all matters. It is worth bearing in mind that while this is the bicentennial of the Farewell Address, it is only a few years since the bicentennial of the French Revolution, an event whose impact on international politics should serve as a standing reminder of the danger of embarking on a crusade, even - or especially - one undertaken in the name of the best democratic and republican principles.

We now come full circle: As the Farewell Address argued, American foreign policy rightly begins with efforts to secure the country's basic material interests of security and prosperity. But these interests should be defined, or formed, through a domestic political process that has "our justice" as its end. Washington's advice to pursue American interests, guided by America's sense of justice, in order to command the nation's fortune in the world, remains sound. This formula, rightly understood, provides the United States with the right reasons for overcoming both excessive inwardness and immoderate activism."


I'm pretty much in agreement with this position. If it was General Washington's, so much the better.


Ron Paul is one of the reasons I still have faith in America. I certainly don't agree with him on everything (particularly his rather Luddite foreign policy), but I'm inherently inclined to support those outside the standard partisan mainstream, particularly those with a Libertarian bent. I'm a political animal, but not a partisan one - a distinction that few today seem to appreciate, much less agree with or even acknowledge as a potentially valid viewpoint.

I also have to admit that I was profoundly affected by Peter McWilliams in my youth and a streak of Libertarianism has run through me ever since.

As an avid Sunday-morning talking-head show watcher, I would agree with what appears to be Col. Lang's position - that the Russerts of Washington and other so-called "elites" perpetuate the two-party oligarchy running the US and do nothing to further real political discourse in America today. I've learned to be skeptical of virtually everything the Russerts of the world and others who are supposedly politically "anointed" prognosticate.

I have to say, though, if true, that Ron Paul's comments on the civil war are not very bright. To begin with, "buying" all the slaves in the south assumes that their owners would willingly part with all of them. It's unlikely, to say the least, that selling off what amounts to the South's principle economic capital and thereby committing economic sepuku is a choice the southern states would willingly make. As much as it is difficult to comprehend today, the sad fact is that slaves represented a significant capital investment and the idea they could all be "bought up" and therefore freed is rather ludicrous from an economic standpoint alone. The economic incentives from such a situation would lead to the importation of slaves from "markets" (such as South American) where human capital was comparatively cheaper, or, at worst, it would reignite the Atlantic slave trade. That's only one economic argument - it's not like the northern states would have supported the levies necessary to fund such an adventure. All-in-all, it's rather ridiculous that the Civil War could have been avoided by essentially allocating monies - in fact, "throwing money at the problem" is an issue that continues to plague government today.

What's certain is that this election cycle will be, at the very least, the most interesting in a long time, and will hopefully signal a change to break the two-party system once and for all....

W. Patrick Lang


1- The importation of slaves was forbidden by US law after 1808 and virtually ceased after that date except for the activities of smugglers who were pursued by both the the US and Britich navies (Britain after the 1830s). Black Americans encountered in 1860 were much more likely to have been born on US soil than white Americans. This was in stark contrast to the situation in the West Indies and Brazil where slave populations tended to decrease without further importation. In fact the natural rate of increase in the numbers of black Americans was so great that further importation of Africans was not desired because of the difficulties in adapting them to life in a new environment.

2- You are correct about the large investment in capital that slaves represented in the South but compensated emancipation in the US would have replaced that capital and made it possible to hire labor. pl



The government had no problem taking people's gold; I'm pretty sure we could take their slaves too if we wanted.



"One quote from "Dr." Ron Paul sums it all up for me:

"I think it's a theory -- a theory of evolution -- and I don't accept it."

To which ridiculous drivel Professor Daniel Dennett has replied:"

We have lost our way in this materialistic universe and forget reality is as much made up of the perceiver as well as the perceived.

"Final Cause. Lastly, Aristotle describes the final cause. Final cause explains the cause of something in terms of its conceived end, or the purpose why it is made. According to Aristotle, final cause is “the end (telos), that for the sake of which a thing is done”. The Final Cause is that for the sake of which a thing exists or is done, its purpose and instrumental actions and activities. The final cause or telos is the end to which something must serve."

full disclosure- i have a B.S. in physics and know enough biology to tell you that bacteria DNA is circular so is human mitochondria and they are thought to be bacteria symbiotes.

Moral- Don't be so quick to judge.

J.T. Davis


First of all, thanks. Now I know you can embed hyperlinks and use html. I have been researching libertarianism for several years and the one thing most libertarians agree on is best summed up by Prof. David Friedman, Milton Friedman's son: "There may be two libertarians somewhere who agree with each other about everything, but I am not one of them."

This sentiment has been echoed by conservatives from Russell Kirk to Jonah Goldberg. Noam Chomsky identifies as a "libertarian socialist" so you know you've got trouble. I think this is one of the best collections on the web:

Critiques of Libertarianism

Some of the links are out of date but google can usually find the target article or essay.

and will hopefully signal a change to break the two-party system once and for all...

Sadly, (and I beg the Colonel's indulgence for this long copy and paste) this phenomenon needs to be understood by more Americans. Very few are aware of it unless they have studied Poli Sci. We are stuck with two parties unless and until we alter the structural and institutional components of our electoral processes that result in the two party system and it had little to do with intent. On the contrary, most of the founders wanted nothing to do with political parties or the factionalism they saw tearing Europe apart in their day. They thought they had designed a system to avoid them completely. They couldn't foresee everything. The law of unintended consequences, eh?

Duverger's Law is a principle which asserts that a plurality rule election system tends to favor a stable two-party system.

The discovery of this tendency is attributed to Maurice Duverger, a French sociologist who observed the effect and recorded it in several papers published in the 1950s and 1960s. In the course of further research, other political scientists began calling the effect a “law” or principle. Duverger's law suggests a nexus or synthesis between a party system and an electoral system: a proportional representation (PR) system creates the electoral conditions necessary to foster party development while a plurality system marginalizes many smaller political parties.

How and why it occurs
A two-party system often develops spontaneously from the single-member district plurality voting system (SMDP), in which legislative seats are awarded to the candidate with a plurality of the total votes within his or her constituency, rather than apportioning seats to each party based on the total votes gained in the entire set of constituencies. This trend develops out of the inherent qualities of the SMDP system that discourage the development of third parties and reward the two major parties.

The most obvious inhibiting feature unique to the SMDP voting system is purely statistical. A small third party cannot gain legislative power if it is based in a populous area. Similarly, a statistically significant third party can be too geographically scattered to muster enough votes to win seats, although technically its numbers would be sufficient to overtake a major party in an urban zone. Gerrymandering is sometimes used to counteract such geographic difficulties in local politics, but is impractical and controversial on a large scale. These numerical disadvantages can create an artificial limit on the level at which a third party can engage in the political process...

A third party can only enter the arena if it can exploit the mistakes of a pre-existing major party, ultimately at that party's expense. For example, the political chaos in the United States immediately preceding the Civil War allowed the Republican Party to replace the Whig Party as the progressive half of the American political landscape. Loosely united on a platform of country-wide economic reform and federally funded industrialization, the decentralized Whig leadership failed to take a decisive stance on the slavery issue, effectively splitting the party along the Mason-Dixon Line. Southern rural planters, initially lured by the prospect of federal infrastructure and schools, quickly aligned themselves with the pro-slavery Democrats, while urban laborers and professionals in the northern states, threatened by the sudden shift in political and economic power and losing faith in the failing Whig candidates, flocked to the increasingly vocal anti-slave Republican Party...


Col. Lang,

I understand what your saying about the law, but I think that unless another labor pool was somehow created to replace the Slaves the economic incentives to import more would be too great. Each slave purchased and taken "off the market" so to speak, increases the value of every remaining slave. At some point, slaves would become so valuable that smuggling would be worth the risk to many, to say nothing of kidnapping former slaves or "recapturing" them and selling them again.

And anyway, how would such an enterprise be funded? Would those in the northern states be levied and would they accept such levies? What happens if a southern State or slaveholder refuses to sell? Could the Federal Government have compelled them to do so and would the Supreme Court at the time have upheld such a law as constitutional, even if it could be passed? Maybe, but the practicalities seem dubious at best and we really haven't even touched the social issues or where these newly-freed slaves would go and what they'd do. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the economic incentives (which would likely last a generation or more) necessary to induce the south to give up slaves is a burden the northern states would not willingly bear, particularly if they are to receive little benefit in return.


The government had no problem taking people's gold; I'm pretty sure we could take their slaves too if we wanted.

Who is "we?" "We" at the time included slave-holding States and they held a not insignificant amount of political power.


Thanks for the links and quote. My libertarianism is primarily focused on legislating morality and criminalizing consensual activities.

You are right to point out ties between our electoral system and the two-party system, but that is a wall I will keep bashing my head against even if the hope of breaking it down is remote.

W. Patrick Lang


"another labor pool was somehow created to replace the Slaves"

It would seem clear to me that the freed slaves and European immigrants would provide that pool. pl


In the old days, a few influential party bosses in smoke filled political clubs across America decided who would best represent their party in the race for president. That role has largely been subsumed by the Tim Russerts, Maureen Dowds, and Adam Nagourneys of our modern world. Now THEY have the power to make or break a candidate, and they are not shy about weilding this power, as Bob Somerby of the Daily Howler has single-mindedly documented these past seven years. (He has devoted his blog to an in-depth study of how and why these titans of the press sank Al Gore's chances and practically handed the presidency to G.W. Bush in 2000.)

Regarding Ron Paul on MTP. His comments on Iraq (and Iran) were, as always, refreshingly candid. But historians have had a field day with his Civil War commments (especially over at Edge of the West), noting that Lincoln did not start the war "just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic." As Ari Kelman says, "You have to know even less about history than Tim Russert — I wouldn’t have thought it possible — to say such a ridiculous thing. Or you have to be a bit too willing, eager even, to marry libertarian political ideology with neo-Confederate historical revisionism. Just to be clear: Lincoln went to war to preserve the Union. That’s it. End of story. Full stop."

For more, see: http://edgeofthewest.wordpress.com/2007/12/23/ron-paul-very-gradual-emancipationist/

W. Patrick Lang

John S

Having listened to the exchange between Russert and Paul, I don't remember Paul having mentioned Lincoln. Perhaps he did. My impression was that he was speaking of the possibility of the war not having occurred if the policy of the Federal government prior to the Lincoln administration had been one of a gradual, nationally funded compensated emancipation.

I suppose that having that opinion marks me as being as ignorant as Dr. Paul and inclined towards historical revisionism.

"End of story?" There are no ends of stories on this site. If you wamt to pronounce dogma on any issue you might consider doing it elsewere.

It sounds as though you and a number of other correspondents are rather pleased with the great war among Americans. pl


Col Lang

Actually, it was Tim Russert who mentioned Lincoln. Here's from the transcript:

MR. RUSSERT: I was intrigued by your comments about Abe Lincoln. “According to Paul, Abe Lincoln should never have gone to war; there were better ways of getting rid of slavery.”

REP. PAUL: Absolutely. Six hundred thousand Americans died in a senseless civil war. No, he shouldn’t have gone, gone to war. He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic. I mean, it was the–that iron, iron fist..

Maybe there may have been better ways to get rid of slavery, I don't know --- I am no historian and admittedly not something that I have ever really given much thought to. But what little I do know about the Civil War is that South Carolina seceded and the war started once Confederate artillery began shelling Fort Sumter. That's when Lincoln called for troops and I'm not sure what other choice he may have had...

And I certainly agree with you about "end of stories," perhaps I should have truncatec that quote.

J.T. Davis


I have to wonder if the "great war among Americans" wasn't almost a foregone conclusion. Even if we managed to extinguish the spark that did ignite it, another convenient torch could have set the blaze. It was bubbling just below the surface from the day the Federalists and Anti-Federalists started going after each other in that descent into the abyss of factionalism that the founders hoped to avoid. It is still going on today with the states rights faction that Ron Paul represents. In fact, they are darn close to neo-seccessionists. Maybe we should seperate into three or four larger provinces under some weaker federal authority. I can almost see that but can you imagine 50 little Americas of vastly individual state character?


If Paul said that evolution is just a theory and that he doesn't accept it, then...well, he has opposed himself to science, pure and simple. Not good.

However, and it's a mighty big however, wars that cost the lives of 600,000 Americans and result in over a century of hatred and injustice...well, one, I think, has to have an open mind. I, for one, am reluctant to simply say the Civil War was a good thing. Of course, the minute one says that one has an open mind about the Civil War, one is accused of supporting slavery. How very, very simplistic and ridiculous.

Which brings us to today. As Col. Lang indirectly pointed out, unless he has Chinese forebears, African Americans are not the only people in the world who have been subjected to inhuman treatment. As you buy your next flat-screen TV, consider what the life of the person in China who made it is like.


I would add that the Catholic Church accepts evolution.

W. Patrick Lang

JT Davis

This is the discussion that I was hoping for. Thank You. pl

Michael Murry

Again, I heartily endorse valid criticism of corporate media pundits who browbeat their television guests in search of "gotcha" sound-bites -- and so on and so forth. Yet my agreeing with such criticism doesn't mean that I endorse the victims of such rude treatment when they in effect work to advance the long-running reactionary attack on American education and scientific literacy. This, I claim, Dr. Ron Paul (along with Mike Huckabee and too many others) has done in cynically pandering to the "anti-evolution" crowd of parochial religious zealots who have tend to vote Republican despite the sage advice that my late mother imparted to me way back in the 1950s: namely, that "a vote for a Republican is a vote against yourself."

For those who objected to my comments about Dr. Ron Paul's stated disbelief -- or assertion of non-acceptance -- of Evolution through Natural Selection, I further respond by noting what Richard Dawkins wrote in The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design: namely, that "the Argument from Personal Incredulity is an extremely weak argument." Put another way by the scientist/philosopher/logician Charles Sanders Peirce: "Facts are hard things which do not consist in my thinking so and so, but stand unmoved by whatever you and I or any man or any generation of men may opine about them."

I began my own study of evolution in high-school biology and physiology courses back in the early 1960s; continued them in university zoology and anthropology courses; and have read widely concerning the subject for more than three decades. I can confidently say that evidence validating Evolution -- like that validating Einstein's General Theory of Relativity -- continues accumulating at an accelerating rate. To date, no assertions of personal incredulity couched in the politically coded lizard-language of "only a theory" has effectively challenged, much less superceded the immortal work of either Darwin or Einstein.

So, again, I object to Dr. Ron Paul's calculated political pandering to anti-scientific irrationality -- or "Teaching the Controversy," as the political theologians call their favorite form of sloppy sophistry -- and find it entirely reprehensible that someone who calls himself a physician would stoop to such discredited dialectics.

To those who claim that they "know enough about biology" to discount Evolution, I can only reply that they don't know anywhere near enough and seriously need to learn more. As well, they ought to abandon the debating-school tactic of arguing from personal incredulity, since what they claim to disbelieve has no status in the scientific world that America seems oddly determined to reject in favor of politicized superstition.

Dr. Ron Paul's anti-evolutionary statements constitute nothing more than politicized superstition when he derides Evolution as "just a theory." He could just as easily denounce the Photo-Electric Effect and Relativity (special and general) as "just theories," too. That discredited dialectial canard ought not to work in junior-high school anymore.

Dr. Ron Paul has chosen to speak in coded ignorance when he disparages scientific Evolution as "only a theory." Evolution exists as a fact of life in this universe, as does Gravity and the Photo-Electric Effect. Dr. Paul has every right and opportunity to put forward a scientific theory of his own to supplant Evolution as the fundamental organizing principle of life on Planet Earth. Yet he continues "Teaching the Controversy," as the religious attackers of science in America call their disguised attack on reason in our country. He does so with apparently no understanding of what science means by "theory." Dr. Paul uses the term in politically-coded lizard-language to imply "guess," or "opinion," which does not accurately or fairly represent what "theory" means in the scienfic world of reality. By "theory," science (and the scientifically oriented layperson) mean a hypothesis (i.e., a prediction) of cause-and-effect relationship expressed in operational terms that might conceivably validate or refute the hypothesis. If Dr. Paul doesn't know this important semantic distinction, then his statement of personal incredulity reflects inexcusable ignorance and makes of him a fool. If he does know it, but chooses to pretend that he doesn't in order to win votes in the Republican Party primary elections, then that makes him a charlatan. I wouldn't want either as President of the United States. We've already got one of both now; and I would think much better of Tim Russert and Chris Matthews if they had just politely pointed out this awful truth to Dr. Paul.

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