Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Why I won't vote for Ron Paul

Some of Ron Paul's positions -- like opposition to the war in Iraq, the War on Drugs, and the Patriot Act -- appeal strongly to liberals and conservatives alike, and many internet activists have flocked to him as a candidate that can bring a real revolution to Washington.

But the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. For Ron Paul, the ideology of "individual liberty" overrides the liberty of physical individuals, and also overrides physical fact. Sacrificing individuals to ideology and denying concrete fact to maintain an abstract idea have caused great harm in human history, and I won't encourage more of it.

I don't demand that anybody agree with me with 100% ideological purity before I work with them on anything. I'll gladly work with Ron Paul in opposition to the war in Iraq, the War on Drugs, and the Patriot Act, and in any other common cause. But I don't think making a man President who rationalizes imposing his own morality upon others under the ideology of "states rights" to be any improvement over a man who rationalizes imposing his own morality upon others under the ideology of "God's will."

Specific examples:

  • Ron Paul supports using state force to make a woman bear a pregnancy to term against her will. He (and his followers) rationalize this as "supporting individual liberty" on the grounds that
    1. It is state government using force to tell a woman what she can do with her own body, not federal government.

      Whether my neighbor, my church, my city, my state, or my federal government imposes on my liberty, it is still an imposition on my liberty.

      And Paul's voting record in Congress is inconsistent with this. He introduced federal legislation (the Sanctity of Life Act) to define human life as beginning at conception. He voted in favor of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act which federally overrides state abortion laws. Ron Paul, an "unshakable foe of abortion" in his own words, is perfectly willing to use federal power when it aligns with what he considers to be right.

    2. It is protecting the individual liberty of fetuses. By making abortion legal, argues Paul, "the State simply declares that certain classes of human beings are not persons, and therefore not entitled to the protection of the law. The State protects the 'right' of some people to kill others, just as the courts protected the 'property rights' of slave masters in their slaves."

      There is an obvious difference between a slave owner claiming rights over the body of another person, and a woman claiming rights over her own body.

      I do consider the lives of fetuses to be important, and I want to protect them. That is a major reason for opposing making abortion illegal. It is simply an ineffective way to preserve fetal lives. To care about actual, physical human beings is to seek practical ways to actually save lives. To make abortion illegal is to sacrifice real people -- both women and children -- to abstract principle. That is a besetting human evil, and my personal pet peeve.

  • Ron Paul opposes equal rights for non-heterosexuals. Again, his rationale for how this supports individual liberty is contorted, and his actions aren't even consistent with that rationale. .
    1. States should be allowed to decide their own laws without interference from the federal government.

      Yet Paul says he would have voted in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law declaring same-gender messages cannot be recognized as valid by the federal government, and need not be recognized as valid by any state, even if the marriage was licensed by another state. Again, Paul is only opposed to the federal government when it enforces something he does not agree with, like a woman's control over her own body or a person's right to marry regardless of gender. He will readily use federal power to enforce morality that he does agree with.

    2. Any state has the right to "pass laws concerning social matters, using its own local standards, without federal interference." Therefore the Supreme Court should not override state anti-sodomy laws or state restrictions on right to marriage.

      But the 10th Amendment states that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." (Emphasis added.) Those who holler about "states rights" always seem to skip that last clause. If a state government claims powers over individuals that exceed the legitimate interests of government, it is the right and proper use of federal power to step in and protect individual right This is in accordance with the Preamble which declares the intentions of the Constitution: "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."

    3. Defending personal liberty means protecting the right of individuals and groups to discriminate against others.

      This is Paul's rationale for opposing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), and why he thinks the Boy Scouts have the right to not let gay men be scoutmasters or gay boys be scouts.

      By these rationales, state governments could pass legislation banning the very existence of the Boy Scouts, and Ron Paul could not object. I would, personally. I think that the rightful role of government is to protect the fullest freedom of any individual that is consistent with the equal rights of others. That means, sometimes, protecting us from other individuals.

    4. The military policy of "don't ask, don't tell" should be maintained, because homosexuals should not be treated any differently than heterosexuals.

      But homosexuals are not treated the same as heterosexuals under the current policy. Nobody is discharged in the military for openly declaring themselves heterosexual, for showing up at a social function with a partner of the opposite gender, or for being known to have performed sexual acts with a member of the opposite gender.

      Ron Paul says "if there is homosexual behavior in the military that is disruptive, it should be dealt with. But if there's heterosexual sexual behavior that is disruptive, it should be dealt with." His support of "don't ask, don't tell" demonstrates that he considers all homosexual behavior to be disruptive. He opposes the use of "the power of the state" to enforce morality that he does not agree with, like the equal rights of both homosexuals and heterosexuals. He supports the use of "the power of the state" to enforce morality that he does agree with, like the unacceptability of homosexuality.

  • Ron Paul opposes Network Neutrality, claiming that it is "regulating the internet."

    Laws against rape and theft are "regulating human activity" also, but I've never heard a libertarian object to them. Prohibiting ISPs from handling internet traffic in a discriminatory manner, like degrading the performance of one website while giving priority to another, is a regulation that protects equal individual rights, like laws against theft and rape do.

  • He opposes embryonic stem cell research. Supporters claim he only opposes federal funding of such research, consistent with his "smaller government" principles.

    But Paul introduced the "Cures Can Be Found Act" of 2005, which would provide tax credits for "qualified" stem cell research, storage and donation, specifically excluding any facilities that use embryonic stem cells. Once more, Ron Paul supports using the federal government to support what he agrees with, he is only against using it to support what he doesn't agree with.
There are more problems with Ron Paul's positions, described in detail at EMPTV. Some of them I have to research further, because Paul may have indeed been misrepresented. For instance: Asked if he supports "bring abstinence education funding onto equal ground with contraceptive-based education," Paul said "yes." Since he doesn't think there should be any federal funding for any education, including contraceptive-based sex education, this "yes" answer may simply mean he does not support funding abstinence-only education either.

There are some criticisms of Ron Paul I consider totally invalid:
  1. That he is a racist, based on quotes from a 1992 newsletter written by someone else.

  2. That he is a white supremacist, neo-nazi, conspiracy nut based on the ravings of some Ron Paul supporters. Oh come on. If the postings of some nuts on Daily Kos does not make Daily Kos a "hate site" then the ravings of some Ron Paul supporters does not make Ron Paul a nut.
There is quite enough in Ron Paul's own words to take honest issue with.

Dennis Kucinich Jumps the Shark

I agree with Andrew Sullivan (and not for the first time). Dennis Kucinich has jumped the shark.

I do not consider Dennis Kucinich's siting of a UFO to put him in La-La Land, but proposing to take Ron Paul as a running mate does. Close examination of evidence indicates that there are, indisputably, some Unidentified Flying Objects -- flying objects sighted that haven't been identified. Close examination of Ron Paul's statements indicates that he will sacrifice living individuals to the ideology of "individualism" any time they come in conflict.

Dennis, Ron Paul doesn't deserve your support.

And this will "balance the energies"??? Isn't the New Age dead yet?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dr. Wes, Messiah

The concept of a "warrior of peace sent from God" is not exclusively Jewish/Christian. The concept was real to Wes at age 7, strongly influenced by Hawaiian traditions. His experiences as the "Fort Devens Messiah" can be followed in reverse chronological order on his blog, Runoff. I've constructed this list for those who want to read it in chronological order.
  1. Fort Devens Messiah
  2. Fighting For Peace
  3. Peace Takes Some Hits
  4. Victory
  5. Soldier Like Me
Very young children can be heroes.

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