The Unicorn from Planet Paul (And Other Mythical Beasts)

“Tell me about the Old Ways, ” Merlin asked…”Mab and Frik spoke of them as if everyone knew what they were, but Merlin had little idea of what the Old Ways involved save having the magical powers to do precisely as one chose….”

“In the old days, we were worshiped,” Mab whispered dreamily, staring down into her cup of wine.  “No king ruled save with our consent – and in return, we saw to it that there was no lack.  Everywhere there of plenty and contentment….”

But Mab’s stories of a golden age of plenty and contentment only confused Merlin further.  If everything had been so wonderful in those days, why had anybody turned away from the Old Ways to follow the New Religion?…

Time passed, and Merlin became more involved in his studies.  He reluctantly mastered the Twenty-Seven Basic Incantations for Most Purposes…learned about Atlantis…how to use mandrake root and unicorn horn, about reading palms and reading minds….

“Frik?” Merlin asked one day.  “How do you know if you’re living a good life?”  “Good?” the gnome asked blankly.  “You know,” Merlin prompted.  “How do you know if you are doing good?  Living the right sort of life and acting with justic and mercy toward everyone?”  Frik removed his bifocals and polished them brikly on the tail of his gown.  “What does justice have to do with anything?” Frik demanded irritably.  “Oh, Master Merlin, I do hope you’re not too attached to those sorts of ideas about good and justice and right.  They’re for humans, not for wizards.”

—- Exerpts From “Merlin, The Old Magic”, by James Mallory

For several weeks now, it has been my intent to present a cogent response to ARL contributor M. Ragazzo’s sincere plea to vote one’s conscience and to give Ron Paul his due, and otherwise fair, consideration.  As the Iowa caucuses are now rapidly approaching, it is time I got to it.

One benefit of waiting so long, of course, is that a number of candidacies have, by now, either self-imploded or merely withered on the vine.  The field has narrowed considerably and, among those lost on the field of battle, it seems likely that our friend M. Raggazo need not fear further “epiglottal episodes” on account of Cowboy Rick.  As for several other “promising” and occasional front-runners, notably the Pizza King and the Octomom (more accurately triviginti-mom), it seems that the sunrise has become a cold, distant, and lonely idea. 

This leaves, it now seems, for our more serious consideration:   the Mormon Ken Doll, the Human Brain, and the Unicorn from Planet Paul.  Let’s take them each in turn.  I’ll keep this pithy, I swear.

The Mormon Ken Doll:  Problem:  He’s not really a principled conservative, he simply plays one on TV.  Yes, he’s got real world business experience (and good posture and lovely hair).  But, he’s from one of the top 3 police states in the union and is well-practiced in the art of pandering with reassuring voice modulation.  Should the Mormon issue bother anyone?  Maybe, but I’d first like to see his underwear drawer and ask him to explain his feelings on the subject of extraterrestrial sex….but well, you know, just out of idle curiosity, not in the interests of religious persecution.

The Human Brain (AKA “the Puppet Master”):  Problem:  Yes, his head IS apparently sized proportionally to his intellect, and yet we may be seeing an over-compensation of sorts for the diminutive size of other parts, say of his character, for instance.  This is, I’m afraid, a classic “the ends justify the means” sort of guy, and I’m not the only one who thinks that he might well be  as progressive as they come.  (Step back John McCain, there’s a new rough-rider in town.)  The sort of loopy, circular-logic, pragmatism that has become the hallmark calling card of the progressive movement is always and forever sure of its ability to fix each and every human problem…using the just the right recipe, the right technology, the right combination of social engineering programs, the right “magic bullet”.  Just give it rest, please.  Everyone needs to sleep once in a while and, at some point, you’ve just got to leave people to their own little lives, ugly as they are.  We’re not puppets, for God’s sake.

The Unicorn from Planet PaulOK, here’s the meat of my response to our friend M. Raggazo:  So it turns out that, among those crowded around at Arthur’s famous table, Merlin was really the one to keep your eyes on, Lancelot and Guenevere not withstanding. According to some storytellers, its little wonder that Merlin was cooking up potions using the ground and powdered horn of the mythic unicorn, a beast whose death would curse its killer unless he demonstrated an appropriate purity of heart.  Some would have it that it was Arthur’s tragic error to have killed the unicorn in a mistaken belief that it would bring luck to the kingdom.  In any regard, Merlin’s potion, as we now know, has been an utter disaster.  But, here today, we must wonder if these mythic creatures really exist and, perhaps more critically, if they’re really worth all the fuss. 

In the case of this particular unicorn, I am particularly concerned with Paul’s lack of nuanced understanding of all things beyond the constitution or the budget, namely foreign policy in general and the middle east in particular.  Significantly, he has no demonstrable loyalty to our single best ally in the whole world:  Israel.  However pure he might be to straight-up libertarian dogma (and he is that, I’d have admit), there may be something lacking in the realm of his critical thinking skills, not to mention maybe his heart. 

As such, this unicorn’s horn starts to look a bit like a stage prop ….on an aging war-horse, to be sure.  And, practically speaking, it might be worth reiterating my prior qualms about “the purely libertarian case”.   To my thinking, it has always been undermined by its hard-core dogma and limited scope.  While ostensibly revering the constitution, it nonetheless inevitably eschews the theological underpinnings of natural law.  While ardently defending fiscal prudence and sound money, it pretends that the nation’s legitimate interests must stop at the border. 

As usual, for me, there is a lot of tasty appeal to the libertarian sandwich, until you start laying in slices of indigestible moral agnosticism.   As for Paul, I can’t really explain his failings on Israel (or almost any foreign policy issue) except to suggest that it sometimes does simply come down to dogma.  But, here, the mere form (or evolved traditions) of libertarianism is nothing compared to the true essence and defense of liberty itself. 

That, after all is supposed to be the whole purpose of our government and, thus, the whole point of this election.   Sadly, each candidate that is likely to represent me has missed the point, seeming capable only of telling stories and casting spells.

HT

PS – Today, this update from ZH, which reports that Paul has soared in recent Iowa polling, now within 1% of the lead slot and Romney still well behind in third place.  M. Raggazo could get a fair chance in this first round of the shootout.

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15 responses to “The Unicorn from Planet Paul (And Other Mythical Beasts)

  1. Pingback: Thela Hun Ginjeet: The Return To Planet Paul | A Reasonable Life

  2. Thanks Harry for the post about my champion of the moment. If you agree with Paul more than 50% of the time and you write off the other two front runners as a Ken Doll and a huge brain with no principles does that mean you are voting for him?

    Also, he is not anti-Israel, nor isolationist. I admit he is labeled as such. Being leery of sending troops and aid to other countries hardly qualifies as being isolationist. It sounds more like the old saying, “mind your own business” to me.

    He treats Israel the same way he treats all other countries. He believes we should treat them fairly, trade with them and let them take care of themselves (which, I suspect, many people who actually live in Israel also think we should do.) Now if you think that we should give Israel more special treatment than all other countries because they are the chosen people, that sounds like dogma and I’m not sure what I think about that. You may be right. But I’m just not sure yet. I’ve got to think some more – if I can find the time.

    • M>

      Hey, it was fun…I needed to think through the choices anyway. As usual, it isn’t an ideal field. As you (and Mr. White) know, I happen to share quite a few perspectives with Ron. But, I think we ought to be realistic about even our least objectionable choice. And, yes, at the moment, that might be Paul, despite my concerns.

      Regarding Israel, I believe we have few, if any other, friends like them. I also think that they really need a friend. If or when we ever back off to simply “treating them like anyone else”, I’m quite certain they will come under attack again. Personally, I don’t want that on my conscience and I’m not really comfortable with leaders that seem to think that it’s not our responsability, especially if our involvement is a significant barrier to it happening.

      Ron Paul may not be strictly “isolationist” (though he’s close enough by any reasonable measure), but he gives us virtually zero help in understanding under what circumstances he’d use military force. I don’t have that problem with all sorts of subjects. Try: I’d use force to repel violent acts against my person, my family, my property, my friends or my neighbors and their property. See how easy it is?

      In regards to Israel, it’s as easy as saying that any material threat to their sovereignty and security will be dealt with in the most appropriate manner, up to and including the use of military force. They are our friend and an ally and that’s simply how we treat the enemies of our friends. So, it’s a bit hard to make sense of a candidate that would suggest that Iran (whose leaders have clearly stated their desire to wipe out, kill, eliminate, exterminate, and push into the sea one of our closest allies) can be reasoned with, absent the threat of force. Really? On what planet? (Eerrr, on Planet Paul, it seems.)

      While Christians (I believe) should have other reasons to support Israel, I’d take the very same position if we were talking about Canada. But, hey, everybody just loves Canada, don’t they? It’s just a cosmic coincidence that so many are so willing to throw Jews to the wolves. That is a mistake I’m not willing to make, support, or ignore.

      HT

      • “We give $3 billion a year to Israel in loans; and we give $12 billion or more in assistance to Israel’s self-declared enemies. Some of these are countries that say they will drive Israel into the sea…Foreign aid does not help Israel. It is a net disadvantage. The borrower is servant to the lender and America should never be the master of Israel and its fate. We should be her friend.” – Ron Paul

        More:
        http://www.newsmax.com/InsideCover/paul-israel-support-wead/2011/12/07/id/420247

      • M>

        Sure, I understand all of that (and I’d already read that interview, by the way). Those costs may be preferred, however, to alternatives that result in millions of deaths. (You’ve read my more recent post on the subject, I hope…) Would I like to see these threats neutralized such that it didn’t cost us or anyone else $15+ billion per year? Absolutely. My question is what is it worth to you (or Ron Paul) to prevent direct military involvement or, worse still, another holocaust?

        This current situation, after all is said and done, is what “diplomacy” ends up being all about. We buy off our enemies rather than fight them. It is objectionable, but, I ask, is it preferable to the alternatives? I just happen to believe that it is naive to think that our involvement somehow propogates the tension. This particular one isn’t going away, let’s be honest about that, OK?

        As for friendship, lending support to a friend (be it advice, labor, tools, spare gas or lumber, money, or Hannukah cards) is just what friends do. It doesn’t make anyone a servant or master in the relationship. Call it a partnership if you will, but it’s more than merely a “trading partnership”.

        More importantly, it is simply wrong to suggest that it’s some sort of modern Imperialism. I mean, what exactly do we get out of it, by the way? Given our dependence on foreign oil, we’re walking a pretty fine line over there with our support for Israel. But, the true measure of friendship (a term that Ron Paul throws around rather casually) is when you do something like for someone without strings attached, without expecting some kind of reciprocity, and knowing it might make your life a bit more difficult.

        Now, if that’s what Paul means, then that’s what he ought to say. But, he’s mostly talking about removing our assistance (to them and to everyong else), isn’t he?

        Any reasonable observation of our relationship with Israel would recognize that they don’t kowtow to us, though, clearly, they heed our advice if/when they can. They are not our servant, not by a long shot, nor are we their masters. And, if you really want to know where they’re coming from, I recommend you watch Netanyahu’s speech to congress this last year. Now, I would far prefer it if we had a president that demonstrated such basic values, but at least we have friends that still do.

        Speaking as a Christian now, surely it can’t escape your own attention that the subject of Israel, almost more than any other, simply inspires the most deranged perceptions of reality. Why do you think that is? I mean, think about the manner of craziness that took hold of what, throughout most of history, was perhaps the most rational country on the planet: Germany. At it’s root, this might just be a spiritual issue (and one that the bible clearly speaks to). Germany wasn’t the first, nor will it be the last to suffer this particular “derangement syndrome”.

        Principles have to hold true when they are both easy and hard to live up to. As I’ve said, I appreciate the principle of being leery of “foreign entanglements”. Moreover, I think we have fallen short of a perfect record in this regard. But, there are other principles too: of loyalty to friends, of compassion and of standing up for those that are unfairly victimized. I, for one, think we should have at least given more serious thought to the situation in Darfur, where there was virtually no direct US interest is involved. Helping to maintain peace in the middle east (which does benefit us) and helping to protect the security of an ally there? That’s seems like a no-brainer to me.

        Just my opinion, of course.

        HT

      • This is good for me as usual, Harry. Thank you. I’m learning again – largely that I don’t know what I think yet and that I should do more research.

        I wish these things were no brainers for me, but they’re not. It is a no-brainer that I want to help people, including Canadians and Jews. But how to do it is not a no-brainer for me. Though, I am slowly being converted to the idea that giving people the freedom to help themselves and making sure I don’t abuse my own freedom is the best way.

        So here are my questions:

        – Is it right to take tax money from citizens and give it to poor people?

        – In the long run, does it actually help poor people to be given handouts by the government?

        – Does the government really know how to help poor people?

        – Does it levy taxes and distribute benefits well or wisely?

        – If the government takes away aid to poor people who depend on the government, will the poor people be exterminated?

        – Do desperate people who ask for money from the government know what is good for them?

        I feel like you would answer “no” to these questions. And I am leaning that way myself, lately. But:

        – What if those poor people are in other countries?

        – What if those poor people “are” other countries?

        – Does the government distribute tax money to people in other countries wisely and fairly?

        – Does the government distribute tax money in the form of paid soldiers to other poor countries wisely?

        – Do poor countries who ask for money from the US government know what is good for them?

        – Does dependence on handouts from the US help poor countries in the long run?

        – Does our government really know how best to help other countries find peace?

        – If the government stops giving money and soldiers to poor countries who depend on the US, will those countries really be exterminated?

        (My answer to these questions is a very brave and helpful, “I don’t know yet.”)

        Thanks again.

      • M>

        Glad to know you’re engaged in this, really. I think it is a useful conversation and, though I might ocassionally project a certain “pugnacious assurredness”, it is as often as not somewhat in jest and, in any regard, I’m quite comfortable and happy with having my positions challenged.

        So, you ask some really good questions here, some that I too have thought and considered. I’ll give you my best take on them. First, we are in likely agreement regarding most forms of institutionalized domestic “welfare”. I’ve come to accept, with some reluctance, that through self-financed insurance premiums, we might devise a limited number of hopefully-benign safety nets, unemployment insurance being the most useful example I can think of at the moment. Social security (and the almost certain coming of means testing for that poorly managed and insolvent program) is more problematic, but let’s just leave that topic for another day.

        But, yes, in general, I tend to agree that “welfare” programs, of the institutional/governmental sort, tend to foster dependency and create more problems than they ever solve. Again, I’m a bit more optimistic with financial assistance for skilled training and education, though I believe that the public school system is, itself, an outright disaster…again, another topic for another day.

        As we’ve discussed before, a lot of this comes down to how we might define the “legitimate role of government”, and here I mean, specifically, the federal government. Local governance can and should have a whole other range of duties, designed, one might hope, in a manner appropriate to the needs and concerns of individual states and communities. The Federal Government, on the other hand, is largely intended to oversee two primary issues: a) domestic relations among the union’s various states and b) the provision of a unified face or front in matters relating to foreign nations.

        The keystone concerns, in any regard, ought to conform to those as set forth in the preamble to the constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

        Of course, it has been the, admittedly vague, “general welfare” clause that has caused much confusion over the years, being adaptable to almost any purpose. But, if I might paraphrase all of that, I would state it thusly: The Federal Government’s job is to make sure we all play fair with one another, that we do all that we can to protect and defend the lives, property, and liberty of our citizens, and, yes, to promote the cause of liberty in general.

        Though our founders were rightly concerned with foreign entanglements, they also were quite practical regarding the formation of strategic alliances as needed. Whether or not they would every have imagined or allowed us to become “the world’s policeman” is, of course, an open question. This role, of course, was a direct result of the cold war, which – with some degree of historical accuracy – I might argue might never have happened had we successfully abstained from the seductive allure of (in order of importance): central banking and other elements of the progressive agenda, and, yes, very possibly “foreign entanglements” too, specifically WWI, where the snowball we’re dealing with now really got it’s start.

        But, let’s leave all of that for another day as well, except to say that we would have, in any regard, probably had to deal with the threat of communism (both Chinese and Soviet strains) and a Nazi/Facist Europe no matter what we did or didn’t do. It’s merely a matter of when and how much. As the saying goes, “you can pay me now or you can pay me later”, but it’s usually going to be much more expensive further down the road.

        As a matter of historical record, all of these same political forces were (and, of course, still are) also quite animated here in this country. Resisting them here is, of course, hard enough, but the question remains as to whether or not our “interventions” abroad had any positive effect. My take is that, absent our intervention, in WWII and later at least, these manifestly evil regimes would have killed many millions more than they did.

        I know that it’s very difficult to prove a negative (much like all those jobs Obama has “saved”), but given the demonstrable willingness and capacity for those regimes to kill their own citizens, I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest they would hardly have been more kind to conquered subjects and territories. Most of the “cold war”, after all (including, as specifically intended, Vietnam) was strategically planned to “contain” the nasty, virulent, and lethal threat of global communism. It is true that, given enough time, such regimes will self-implode (as they have done), but not before they consume millions of lives.

        So, my response to your questions regarding both “foreign aid” and/or “foreign entanglements” should reflect, first and foremost, an obligation to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”. That means resisting, by every possible means, those forces that would deny or obstruct the basic foundations of liberty, mostly here at home, but would necessarily include legitimate foreign threats, even when we’ve not been directly (on US soil) attacked militarily.

        Now, whether or not those threats could, or should, include merely economic concerns (i.e. cheap oil) is, for me, an open question. That said, our (and the world’s) present dependence on oil, does actually frame that problem squarely in the “survival” column; it’s no longer merely a matter of simple affluence. Higher oil prices, as a result of instability in the Middle East or any other reason, will result in the death of thousands, if not millions, of poor around the globe.

        In any regard, I believe that, should we choose to abdicate what has been, admittedly, a fairly active role in, let’s call it “moderating”, world affairs, we must recognize the potential consequences. It is reasonable to question the efficacy of our methods; my prior comments were intended to serve as a reminder that, as usual, things might be a whole lot worse than they are. For some inexplicable reason, we’ve developed a knee-jerk cultural perspective that assumes that America’s rise to “superpower” status was, somehow, evidence of corrupt means or intent and that, ipso facto, the exercise of that power has been similarly corrupt, done solely for the benefit of corporate interests, for instance.

        I’d not hope to justify each and every inept foreign policy stance or act taken since WWI, but I would nonetheless tend to more generally defend the notion that, insofar as our government has reflected any traditional values held by the American people, it has attempted and generally been able to, in as efficient a manner as is possible for any bureaucracy, to protect the interests of liberty (here and abroad) and to minimize the scope, cost, and collateral damage of war. That’s a big bite, I admit, but I believe that it is easily defended on the basis of the historical record, which I’ve cited often enough.

        Finally, remaining at the heart of this discussion is the issue of Ron Paul’s vision of foreign policy, ostensibly in keeping with that of our founders, and, perhaps more specifically, in regard to allies such as Israel. All I can add to what I’ve already said, is that modern foreign policy “requirements” are necessarily colored by a range of issues that our founders didn’t have to contend with, notably: energy dependence, ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons, 100 years of central banking, continually creeping foreign and domestic socialism, Islamo-facist terrorism (actually they did, but that’s yet another potential divergence), to name a few.

        Typically, we justify “foreign aid” on the basis of some percieved “national interest”, though it may only be the development of a future trading partner that can provide us with strategic resourses or, less directly, by lending stability to an otherwise fragile market. This notion, of course, can be legitimately extended to include – with some foresight – the risk of contagion to areas where our interests are more tangible. In this manner, of course, we might justify helping to “keep the peace” in the middle east merely on the basis of our (or our trading partner’s) dependence on foreign oil. Naturally, I would hope that such involvement would reflect some higher order principles above and beyond the mere economic.

        Where Paul makes me really uncomfortable, such as he did in a post-debate interview last night, is in repeatedly excusing the demonstrable genocidal rhetoric of Israel’s enemies (suggesting it is merely an “understandable” desire for “regime change”) and arguing a dour and patently revisionist view of our (American) “imperialism”, which includes, presumably, illegitimate adventures in “regime change”. You can’t have it both ways, Ron, sorry.

        And, yes, Israel is, to me, both a special burden and obligation. On the one hand, you could argue (as I suggested recently) that our strategic partnership serves no direct interest, especially since it clearly aggravates a number of key foreign oil producers. I would argue that, left to it’s own, Israel would, in very short order, be forced to do everything in it’s (surprisingly considerable) power to defend itself from (again) demonstrably genocidal threats, as it has already had to do in 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973. At some point, especially if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad get’s his wish, this trend will turn really ugly and, very possibly, nuclear. So, even if we don’t actually care about the Jewish people or their sovereignty, we might care about what a nuclear war in the middle east will do to our ability to, say, grow food, let alone drive to the supermarket.

        For what it’s worth, Israel is not poor. Far from it, it is one of the most prosperous nations on the planet, with per capita income of more than $31,000 (we’re at nearer to $40,000). And, there’s a reason for that. As Netanyahu correctly notes in the speech I mentioned, they are an island of freedom in a literal and figurative desert of Islamic despotism. Israel itself was just as bad, by the way, before 1948, a land that nobody really wanted until they had it and improved it. But, yet another topic for another day.

        Sometimes we join “strategic partnerships” for all sorts of reasons, good and bad. We help those who we like and who are good partners and, sadly, sometimes we “buy-off” those who can cause us lot’s of trouble. That’s diplomacy and, as I suggested before, as ugly as it is, it may be preferred over some much uglier alternative. I just hope we have leaders (and voters) who can tell the difference.

        HT

      • I’m learning a little history now too and understanding the situation in the Middle East slightly better. But I am still trying to apply principles.

        I still can’t help but compare the questions:

        Do entitlements work?
        (Can we afford them? For how long?)

        Do they work abroad?
        (Can we afford them? For how long?)

        If the principle (which I was introduced to by you) that hand-outs and government social engineering and meddling don’t work, is true, I don’t understand how we can answer “no” to the first question and “yes” to the second.

        It is said that the circumstances abroad are more serious and thousands of lives are at stake. Then isn’t a solution (meddling) that is a mistake at home, an even bigger mistake abroad?

        Tell me if this is a bad analogy:

        There are eagles that eat my ducks.

        Should I feed the eagles in order to keep them satisfied and not hungry for ducks? How long should I keep this up?

        Should I hunt down all the eagles and try to clip their wings?

        Should I build a more defensible duck house?
        (And shoot any eagle caught attacking it.)

      • M>

        Here, I’ll respond to both your recent comments at once. First, I know we (generally speaking) have gotten very uncomfortable with “naming” evil for what it is. For one thing, we’ve become convinced that (even as Christians) that we ought not “judge” anyone, which I don’t believe was ever the real intent of the relevant scripture…sort of a typical problem of interpretation and application, much like with the Constitution. We absolutely “must” judge and are expected to judge, though perhaps “discernment” is more apt description here, when it comes to resisting evil. (Still, we need to be ever mindful of our own judgment that is coming too, a factor that should guide our own behavior, don’t you think?)

        As you know, I have absolutely no qualms about “calling a spade a spade” when it comes to certain “judgments”. That’s partly because our survival often depends on our “judgement”. Just as often, even the least rigorous of moral codes, if actually applied consistently, will often agree. So, we often – just as Satan prefers – find ourselves on the “horns of a dilemma” where we must choose between the ostensible “evil” of going to war where millions will almost certainly die and not going to war where, we speculate, even more will die. Hell of a choice, pun intended.

        But, this is the same terrible dilemma we face, to one extent or another, with all of the difficult and contentious choices: abortion, gun rights, taxation, welfare, divorce, drug laws, you name it and you’ll find the water muddy and our own vision clouded by a range of emotions, thinking – both rational and irrational, propaganda, good or bad authorities, and personal experience. So, discernment becomes rather criticaly important. As does having actual facts, good and trustworthy authorities to help guide us, and clear thinking habits.

        That the Islamo-fascist movement is evil is, to me, just as self-evident as recognizing it in the KKK…a comparison that you might recall that I’ve used before. Some things are “no-brainers”, as I called it recently. And, for the record, “self-evident” is an appropriate label for something that any “clear thinking” human ought to recognize, as our founding fathers did.

        I am quite leery of needless haste in any endeavor that will cost a lot of money, or lives, or possibly my soul. I would hope for that in a president, of course. I don’t want someone who’s ready to fight over every “little thing”, so long as he/she is ready and willing to do so when it is the best of many bad choices.

        Now, I’ve never been completely satisfied that invading Iraq was absolutely necessary. But, I really don’t know and I’m glad that I didn’t have to make that choice. I do know that they – Iraq – had a (valid and legal) treaty obligation to allow weapons inspectors complete and unobstructed access, which they didn’t provide. Words, too, have consequences and if heads of state (in Iran or wherever) clearly state an objective for genocide and the desire to develop weapons to fulfill that objective, I’m inclined to take the threat rather seriously. Sometime, evil actually hides itself better than that, requiring a little better discernment, but, as I said, some things are “no brainers”. That Ron Paul can’t seem to muster any sort of discernment, when so little is required, is the source of my concern.

        As to your eagles and ducks, I thought I’d sort of addressed those questions, if a little obliquely. Let’s try it this way, our “aid” to Israel is, to my thinking, neither welfare nor an entitlement. It is simply cost-sharing in a mutual strategic alliance. They do things that we can’t (or don’t want to) do, and we help them in ways that are mutually beneficial. I don’t know enough of the exact manner of disbursements or payments to them, but would be happy to look into it. All I can say, is that we’re appeasing their (and our) enemies and helping to balance the books with them and ensure that they have a strategic edge. I’d rather it not be necessary, but, it may still be better than the alternative…and by that I mean war, not just walking away from the situation and hoping for the best.

        Here, I’ll use a recent event in our own neighborhood as a relevant example. We have a similar “mutual aid alliance” in our neighborhood, as I would hope that you know. Now, there was recent evidence of gas thefts, of which you may not be aware. Those having been directly affected did go “on alert” and held joint communication and response “exercises”. Hopefully, these exercises and changes in security proved to be a successful deterrent, as one possible return visit may have been interrupted. No shots were fired, as yet, and, of course, we hope that these preventive steps will keep that from happening. Of course, you were a beneficiary of these effots, even if completely unaware of the risks or the costs associated with them. Thus, some of your strategic partners paid more than others. So far, at least, the thefts appear to have abated. And, let’s just hope it stays that way.

        Now, wouldn’t it be lovely to discover that the thief was someone living in the neighborhood and that the thief wasn’t so easily deterred. What then? What if the thief decided to more brazenly challenge our security efforts and rights to our property, causing all sorts of mayhem and spiteful damage, when we weren’t looking, or trying to sleep, or away on vacation. What if the “official” police were powerless or otherwise unwilling to intervene and stop it? What if you were the target, but not me? Should I care? Should I help? And, what kind of help should I offer? Mere advice? Wishing you “good luck”? Is that the measure of “friendship”?

        It seems that you may be tempted (as Ron Paul clearly is) to think that, conceptually, it shouldn’t be my problem and that any help that I extended to you wouldn’t really help you stand on your own two feet and, heck, you probably did something to deserve it anyway. I mean, puuuuuhleeeeeeeeeeeze. That (Paul’s default position, with Israel, at least) may be closer to saying that a woman deserved the rape because of whatever….apparently being Jewish, in this case. Sometimes evil has to be clearly and assertively labeled and resisted. Count me in on helping. It’s just that simple. Evil never, ever, “just goes away”.

        Enough for now…

        HT

      • M>

        Well, a few more thoughts have come to mind. First, I didn’t answer your question, “can we afford it?” Unfortunately, we are getting very close to not being able to afford anything, let alone the necessary and legitimate functions of the federal government. Having frittered away so much of our nation’s treasure on programs that were never “necessary” or “legitimate” (i.e. Constitutional sanctioned), here we are, having yet another dilemma to address.

        Anyway, I also thought it would be a good idea to revisit your question regarding “feeding the eagles”. Personally, I’m more or less in agreement with you (and probably Ron Paul) on this one. What passes for “diplomacy” in this country, all too often, is nothing more than appeasement. I’d rather, of course, have developed our own oil and natural gas resources and become, to the best extent possible, more energy self-sufficient. To the extent that we’ve engaged in appeasement for the sake of expediency and cheap oil, it won’t accomplish much in the end.

        It also doesn’t or won’t help Israel all that much. But, these really are the dividends of “false”, though much lauded, accomplishments of the middle east “peace process”, Carter’s supposed success with Begin and Sadat. I’d rather, as I’ve alluded to, that we simply communicated clearly to nations like Egypt that: you attack our friend and we’ll come down on you like the hammer of God. I might still help arm Israel (or any other ally) if I thought it would be necessary, just as we did with Brittain in WWII. That’s just cheap insurance.

        As I’ve said, on prior occasions, there is an awful lot on the line here. I don’t know if you’ve ever bothered to read it, but I addressed some of this (in a Woodshed article), but this is simply the latest stage of the age-old and constant irrational hatred for the Jewish people…don’t you ever stop to wonder why? Surely, you know…it’s – again – one of those “self-evident” truths. The bible foretold that Israel would become a “cup of trembling” and a “burdensome stone” for the whole world, long before Muhammed had his little carpet riding dream and even longer before we had any real use for oil.

        But, here we are and the desire of some to exterminate the Jewish nation continue with as much, even more, passion as ever before. Believe me, it’s going to get even more “burdensome”. Heck, don’t believe me, believe your Bible. I mean, we can be simply “pragmatic” about “foreign entanglements” and just “wash our hands” of the whole mess, right? None of our concern, right? Sometimes you have to take a stand, choose a side. Just so we know that we’ll be judged on what we don’t do as well as what we do, and washing our hands isn’t going to help much.

        HT

      • Also, RE: Ron Paul and Iran

        I understand being irritated by people downplaying evil or danger in the world. For example, I am slightly irritated by people who love to defend sharks. Not because I think sharks are evil, but because it does no one any good to deny that they can be dangerous. Big sharks do eat people. It happens. They are not benign cuddly sea creatures. I don’t hate them. I don’t think we should kill them all – but they are sharks and they have lots of teeth.

        Likewise, there are bad guys out there.

        That being said I am reluctant to name them. When it comes to humans, a fight between two people is rarely entirely the fault of one side or the other. Rather, they are both somewhat to blame. At least, that is the case with my children.

      • I am extremely appreciative of the mutual aid in our neighborhood and am keenly aware of how much I am in debt, countless pies by now, to you and most all of my neighbors. More pies now that I’ve learned I’ve been protected from thieves I didn’t even know about.

        So, first, thank you.

        I am so grateful to live in a neighborhood like we do and would strive to make the world a larger version of C Street if I could. I would not hesitate to help any of my neighbors in need. Don’t have any doubts about that. And I do hope for more opportunities to give back. (I’m not sure how much backyard concerts count.)

        I completely, totally, one hundred percent agree that we must take care of our friends, families and neighbors and defend them from evil. I am not even remotely tempted to say that if your household is attacked that it’s your problem only. And I’m gratefully secure that you and my other neighbors would come to my aid as well if I were attacked.

        But I also don’t want or expect you to try and fix all my problems, or support me indefinitely, or to try and solve conflicts I may have with
        others by giving them money. You can’t get sustain the habit of paying ransoms very long. Especially if you happen to be broke. It’s enough that I know you’ll be there if I am attacked. If I can go to you for advice and occasional lending of pies, that’s a nice bonus. But I hope you’ll cut me off once I become a too dependent a burden. Because, the libertarians have taught me, once I reach that point, your aid isn’t helping me in the long run anyway…is it?

        I’m not sure if this applies to Israel and Iran – but that’s what I’m trying to figure out. I appreciate your consistent and thorough responses to my questions which are written off the top of my head. I’m not hard on either side on this question. Less so after our exchanges.

        I must retire from these comments for awhile because I’ve found myself thinking about these things at times I shouldn’t.

        “Papa, you just put toothpaste on the hair-brush.”

        “Sorry, I was thinking about Iran.”

        Merry Christmas Mr.Tuttle

      • M>

        Merry Christmas to you Mr. Ragazzo. We’ll talk more, I’m sure.

  3. Imagine.

    -HDW

    • Well, that was interesting. In TEXAS….Texas….texas….

      Whatever the impression my review of the top candidates might have given, it was not my intent to support of any particular military occupation or action. Quite the contrary, I probably agree with Mr. Paul, possibly even a bit more often than 50% of the time. And, that really is the issue. One gets the strong sense in Pauls recitations of the libertarian creed that he’s incapable of developing nuanced positions on anything.

      I undertand his economic positions to generally agree. But, there is little (if any) persausive power in his dogma and, sadly, his debating skills are hardly better than Rick Perry’s. In fact, you have to dig quite deep into the available literature to get a sense of his actual character, the land of nuance. Unfortunately, it takes that kind of work to glean that, probably, he’s not anti-Israel.

      In regards to foreign policy more generally, there is little question that the traditional isolationist libertarian stance (no matter what the video says it is or isn’t) would have saved us from any number of useless, wasteful, costly, and counter-productive “foreign entanglements”. Perhaps jsut as often they would have required that we sit on our hands while our own people and/or their property, our friends and/or their property, or any number of innocent were victimized by actually evil people, organizations, or nations. If all you have is dogma, you’ll never have the tools needed to tell the difference.

      All too often, modern-day libertarianism is most ardently defended by nothing more than a bunch of legalistic Pharisees, utterly without nuance or, at least, the ability to communicate that they understand the underlying principles to their hard and fast rules. (I noted their particular failings on the subject of natural law, as but one example.)

      In the end, I’d like to like Paul, I really would. I just wish he’d make it a little easier.

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