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Tag: Ron Paul

Top Posts in 2012

The top 10 posts on Selfish Citizenship in 2012 were:

  1. Open Letter to Gary Johnson
  2. On Foreign Policy, American Founders vs. Ron Paul
  3. 6 Causes of India’s Mega-Blackout, Lessons for US
  4. Bipartisan Deal – Status Quo Continuing Resolution for FY 2013
  5. Top Three Reasons to Vote Obama for President
  6. Top Three Reasons to Vote Romney for President
  7. Angry Libertarians
  8. Cannibal Culture
  9. Not an Emergency, but a Suicide Attempt
  10. The Last Goode Democrat

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The Republican Hydra

This year’s Republican nomination process was interesting, because the candidates who contested through the process represented distinct ideological perspectives.  Thus, they are proxies for the relative strength of contesting ideas within the Republican Party.

The ability of candidates with these clear distinctions to maintain the contest as long as they did may be attributed to an increase in protection of free speech rights from the Citizens United decision (see post “Super PACs: Shedding the Bad Rap” by Ray La Raja on Riding the Tiger).

In order of their relative electoral strength, the candidates and their ideas were as follows:

Mitt Romney, the victor, is the standard bearer for pragmatic stewardship, which is the dominate ideology of the Republican Party.

Rick Santorum evangelized for the religion right.  His electoral failure demonstrates the weakness of the theocrat faction.  For all their huffing and puffing, they are a minority within the party.

Newt Gingrich’s government reform platform expressed the agenda of the neoconservatives.  Republicans proclaimed him the candidate of ideas, and most Republicans don’t like ideas.

Ron Paul was followed by the ‘libertarians’.  While I disagree that Ron Paul is an advocate for freedom and limited government, his mistaken and passionate supporters label him so.  Based upon his supporters’ narrative, Paul’s showing demonstrates the electoral weakness of advocates of limited government within the Republican ranks.

A relevant mention is merited for Rick Perry, who championed the neoconfederates and was quickly booted from contention by the party of Lincoln.

Given the results on the primaries and caucuses, the Republicans have demonstrated themselves to be primarily a pragmatic party, not a conservative party.  This supports my frequent contention that those that complain loudest about RINOs as not really Republicans, but they hope that they can pretend to be the dominate voice in the party without being challenged for their fraud.

Because pragmatists oppose principles on principles, Romney’s policies will be implanted in his mind by those who do express ideas.  The changes brought into being during his potential Administration will be big government reforms from the neoconservatives, who will give empty promises that big government will be changed into better big government.  Meanwhile, the religious right will be thrown sufficient policy concessions to keep them obedient within the Republican coalition.  However, those that advocate limited government will be given rhetoric without implementing policies.

For an examination of the neoconservatives as the ideological bastard love children of Leon Trotsky and Plato, I recommend C. Bradley Thompson’s book Neoconservativism: An Obituary for an Idea.

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Obama Kills an American Traitor

In addition to just praise for the CIA and our military, President Obama deserves praise for today’s killing of traitor Anwar al-Awlaki. Anyone who disputes the justice of this killing is evading the facts from reality. However, there is a separate point that is worthy of discussion: Does the process for targeting Americans turned traitorous terrorists overseas offer adequate protection for the target’s individual and constitutional rights?

Looking at this concrete example, we see that this was not a case of the executive branch going off reservation and freelancing. Serious consideration has given to understanding and assessing statutes passed by the legislature and rulings by the judiciary to ensure that the procedural rights found in our Constitution and statutes were adhered to (see Washington Post article). Further, in this particular case, the judicial branch ruled that the Obama administration was acting within the executive’s political discretion.

However, in these types of cases, are our current statutes adequate for instituting procedural rights and controls to protect the individual rights of American citizens evidently involved in terrorism and rebellion against the United States? I think that is a question worthy of congressional investigation and possibly additional legislation. For example, are the procedural rights and controls to protect Americans from having their phones tapped more than those of the President ordering their killing?

This is a case in which Rep. Ron Paul, the Republican candidate, demonstrates his utter failure in his current position, which demonstrates why he should not be President at the risk of him attempting to rule by decree. MSNBC reports that Paul condemned the killing of al-Awlaki as essentially the murder of an American by his own government. Yet, Rep. Paul was a member of Congress during a period of time that everybody knew that President Obama had ordered the killing of al-Awlaki; as a congressman, what did Paul do to spark congressional action to implement procedural rights and controls by statute? As a congressman, his job is more than voting no against almost every bill on the House floor; is the extra-judicial premeditated killing of an American citizen not sufficiently important to spark Rep. Paul to action instead of hollow rhetoric?

Further, in the case of Rep. Paul, in that MSNBC piece, he is quoted as saying that “Al-Awlaki nobody ever suggested that he was participant in 9/11.” Contrary to the point of the ignorant Paul, Awlaki has been tied to giving aid to and having direct contact with 9/11 hijackers in San Diego. Given that these facts were reported by the 9/11 commission, it is shocking that Rep. Paul, a candidate for President, should appear to be ignorant of them.

Shifting to the statement of another Republican candidate, former Gov. Gary Johnson said that the case raised serious questions about whether al-Awlaki’s constitutional due process rights had been violated. As a presidential candidate, Johnson should be better informed and speak beyond platitudes to addressing specific policy issues. Frankly, he missed a good opportunity to either be informed on an issue or shut up when he is not.

What should candidate Johnson have said, informed by my prior observations?

Al-Awlaki was a vile traitor and today he received justice. I praise the CIA, our military, and President Obama for this action to protect the individual rights of all Americans.

However, I have to be honest and point out that President Johnson would have handled this situation differently; although, it would have had the same net result. When presented with this plan to kill an American turned traitor and terrorist, I would have asked for more diligence in protecting due process rights of an American citizen. It should not be the President alone without direction from the legislature and review by the courts to decide that a traitorous American should be killed by our government. I am not suggesting that a criminal conviction is required; however, if the executive branch requires court review to listen to his phone calls, then there should be some judicial protection when the President signs an unconvicted American’s death warrant.

While the courts have ruled upon al-Awlaki’s case and validated this death sentence of a traitor and terrorist, and the executive branch acted to fully consider the constitutional protections of Al-Awlaki, I think that the Congress has fallen down on this issue of establishing protections for Americans’ rights. Given the foreknowledge of this action, I question some of my fellow Republicans also running for our party’s presidential nomination: “As current legislators, what have you done to insure that statutes were enacted to protect the rights of Americans targeted for killing based upon allegations of being traitorous terrorists?”

As President, I would have started by doing as President Obama did; however, I would have done more to spark the Congress to act so as to protect the rights of Americans subject to such allegations and penalties.

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Answering the 14th Amendment Question

The other day, I wrote about the question that I would ask the Republican candidates for President. Today, I will answer that question as that will unpack it a bit and make the deficiencies of various candidates more evident:

I do agree that certain “Republican” candidates sound more like Jefferson Davis than Abraham Lincoln.

In some cases, they express anti-American sectionalism such as Gov. Perry endorsing secession, former Speaker Gingrich attacking federal civil rights law by endorsing essentially literacy tests as a qualification for voting, and Rep. Paul sounding like President Thomas Jefferson’s contemporary critic Rep. John Randolph of Roanoke.

Speaking about the antidisestablishment advocates, they express a hostility to the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment in the name of an appeal to a democratic trampling of individual rights…they would make failed former Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan proud.

To be specific, this error in constitutional interpretation is expressed on the Supreme Court today by the anti-conceptual orginalist doctrine advocated by Justice Scalia.

Let me attempt to summarize my own view briefly…I agree with President Jefferson who advocated a role for the federal courts as a power to protect individuals from abuse by a state. Through the leadership of George Mason and James Madison, our constitution was enhanced with a Bill of Rights identifying civil (procedural) rights that were so fundamental, although not exclusive, that the government may not infringe them. After the Civil War, the 14th Amendment guaranteed citizens the protection of due process and equal protection of the law against abuse by a state. Through Supreme Court decisions, this has been interpreted as a federal guarantee of fundamental rights (the incorporation of aspects of the Bill of Rights) such that individuals are secure in their individual rights from abuse by state action.

Many Republicans recently cheered when the Supreme Court incorporated the 2nd Amendment as a check against overreaching state and municipal gun control laws. Yet, as if ideas and principles do not matter, many of these same Republicans (some currently running for the Presidency) oppose the incorporation of the 1st Amendment’s establishment clause. Given the history of ours states abusing Christians of various sects, including the sects of these same people, they have failed to learned the lessons of history, which led to disestablishment–the separation of church and state.

Some may say that these are a lot of words that do not amount to much, so let me concretize it with a couple of examples of protections against state power that you risk taking for granted:

* buying condoms in Connecticut (Griswold v. Connecticut 1965)
* marrying the person you love in Virginia, even if you are of a different race (Loving v. Virginia 1967)
* attending school as a Jehovah’s Witness without getting beaten up for failing to pledge allegiance (West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette 1943)
* just compensation for property seized by the state (Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad v. City of Chicago 1896)

While I could go on, these examples demonstrate the principles and consequences of those who seek democratic state governments unchecked by federal constitutional protections for individual rights.
* they promise to make abortion illegal, and they will take your condoms
* they seek to revoke the voting rights of blacks, and they will decide who you can marry
* they command praising the Christian god, and they will oppress the wrong kinds of Christians
* they take a citizen’s property for Pfizer’s benefit today, and they will take your property as a gift to the collective tomorrow

Related to court appointments, I would not advance advocates of Justice Scalia’s anti-conceptual originalism nor Justice Breyer’s subjectivist living constitution model; instead, I would nominated judges who appreciate that the purpose of government is the protection of individual rights and that our Constitution, civil rights statutes, our laws, and regulations are to be means to that end.

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“Republican” Presidential Candidates vs. 14th Amendment

For tomorrow’s FoxNews/Google Republican presidential debate, YouTube was soliciting questions; unfortunately, I did not make the effort to construct a video question…such a hassle to find a period without ambient noise; yes, little girls I refer to you.

However, I did have an idea for a question, for which I wanted to understand the answer. As a visual, consider a war weary picture of President Lincoln with the following scripted audio, spoken with my own personal drawl:

In this here Republican candidates’ debate, I am surprised to see participants who are not Republicans, but are in fact neo-con-federates! Yes, Perry, Gingrich, and Paul, I am especially referring to you. Much has been and should be said about the 10th Amendment; however, some of y’all’s rhetoric is outright antagonistic to the 14th Amendment. As someone who puts yourself forward as the nominator of the federal judiciary, please expound upon your view of the 14th Amendment, equal protection, due process, and the incorporation of the Bill of Rights as a check upon the abuse of individual rights by state authorities. In praising recent decisions about the incorporation of the 2nd Amendment by the Supreme Court, please do not neglect the more vital Establishment Clause from the 1st Amendment.

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On Foreign Policy, Our Founders vs. Ron Paul

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvo8Sc6l5PQ]

It has been asserted that Ron Paul’s foreign policy is consistent with that of our Founders.  Let me list some of the actual foreign policies of the early American government so that supporters of Paul can reconsider whether he is actually consistent with them.

•     As an ambassador overseas, John Adams undermined foreign governments by giving aid to revolutionaries; further, he sought to promote American constitutional republicanism as superior to the monarchies of Europe and democratic proposals of French intellectuals.

•     As Minister to France, both Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe sought to increase American trade with France in part to weaken Britain. Jefferson offered detailed reforms to French laws that were necessary to rollback intrusive economic regulation.

•     American governments consistently made it a matter of policy to obstruct sovereign native tribes’ relations with European powers; manifestations of this policy include:  the War of 1812, Jackson’s invasion of Spanish Florida during the Monroe Administration, and a policy of pushing Indians west of the Mississippi that began in the Washington Administration.

•     A key policy plank of the Democratic – Republican Party before 1801 was a strong alliance with and preference for post-revolutionary France as part of a policy to expand republican governments in the world.

•     As President, Jefferson secured the purchase of Louisiana by advising the French that their failure to transfer New Orleans and navigation of the Mississippi to the Americans would result in war.

•     During the Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe Administrations, Spain was under threat of war with America over Spanish West Florida; during the Napoleonic wars, an American invasion of Spanish Florida was considered so as to prevent it from falling into British hands.  As President, Monroe invaded Florida twice to suppress piracy and the Seminoles.

•     During the Jefferson Administration, the United States engaged in regime change in Tripoli.

•     The Monroe Doctrine opposed further colonization by Europeans in the Americas.

•     Madison and Monroe both championed colonization in Liberia by freed American slaves.

•     During the Jefferson and Madison Administrations, American trade with Britain and France was subject to a series of federal restrictions to prevent such commerce.  The stated object of these policies was to compel Britain and France to change their own policies.

I do not find such early American foreign policies to be consistent with an evaluation of a non-interventionist American government that “didn’t pretend to know all the answers” while staying out of other people’s business.

For a study of early American foreign policy, I recommend the following definitive biographers:  Douglas Southall Freeman on Washington, C. Bradley Thompson on John Adams, Dumas Malone on Jefferson, Ralph Ketcham on Madison, and Harry Ammon on Monroe.  I am looking forward to reading Samuel Flagg Bemis’ volume John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy; while it is out of print, it can be found and I have it.

On Jefferson in particular, Malone’s account of his time as Minister to France, Secretary of State, and President demonstrates that Jefferson established principles for American foreign policy that have been consistent to the present.

Foreign policy is just another area in which Ron Paul is anti-Jeffersonian.

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