December 23, 2007

Let's take a closer look at Ron Paul.

Here's the transcript of Ron Paul on "Meet the Press" today. He stimulates our thoughts, and he adds important dimension to the debate, so I can see why a lot of people love to encourage him. But let's focus:
TIM RUSSERT: ... [T]his is what you have been saying on the campaign stump, "I'd like to get rid of the IRS. I want to get rid of the income tax." Abolish it.... What would happen to all those lost revenues? How would we fund our government?...

REP. PAUL: .... You need the income tax to police the world and run the welfare state. I want a constitutional-size government.... To operate our total foreign policy, when you add up everything, there's been a good study on this, it's nearly a trillion dollars a year. So I would think if you brought our troops home, you could save hundreds of billions of dollars....

MR. RUSSERT: It's 572,000. And you'd bring them all home?

REP. PAUL: As quickly as possible. We--they will not serve our interests to be overseas. They get us into trouble. And we can defend this country without troops in Germany, troops in Japan. How do they help our national defense? Doesn't make any sense to me. ...

MR. RUSSERT: Would you cut off all foreign aid to Israel?

REP. PAUL: Absolutely. But remember, the Arabs would get cut off, too, and the Arabs get three times as much aid altogether than Israel. But why, why make Israel so dependent?...

MR. RUSSERT: So under your doctrine, if we had--did not have troops in the Middle East, [al Qaeda] would leave us alone.

REP. PAUL: Not, not immediately, because they'd have to believe us....

MR. RUSSERT: Do you think there's an ideological struggle that Islamic fascists want to take over the world?

REP. PAUL: Oh, I think some, just like the West is wanting to do that all the time...

MR. RUSSERT: You would vote against the Civil Rights Act [of 1964] if, if it was today?

REP. PAUL: If it were written the same way, where the federal government's taken over property--has nothing to do with race relations....

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...

MR. RUSSERT: So you think we're close to fascism?

REP. PAUL: I think we're approaching it very close....
Ron Paul supporters: Are you serious?

Let me read Andrew Sullivan's endorsement of Paul:
For me, it comes down to two men, Ron Paul and John McCain. That may sound strange, because in many ways they are polar opposites: the champion of the surge and the non-interventionist against the Iraq war; the occasional meddling boss of Washington and the live-and-let-live libertarian from Texas. But picking a candidate is always a mix of policy and character, of pragmatism and principle...

I admire McCain in so many ways. He is the adult in the field...

Let's be clear: we have lost this war....

McCain, for all his many virtues, still doesn't get this. Paul does....

The great forgotten principles of the current Republican party are freedom and toleration. Paul's federalism, his deep suspicion of Washington power, his resistance to government spending, debt and inflation, his ability to grasp that not all human problems are soluble, least of all by government: these are principles that made me a conservative in the first place. ...

He's the real thing in a world of fakes and frauds....
So I guess Sullivan is serious, but he's serious at a level of abstraction that I think is really quite dangerous.

142 comments:

theMickey's said...

Thx for the post, I missed it this am.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Ron Paul says in the interview that other countries phased-out slavery without civil wars and simply purchasing slaves to liberate them would have cost less than a civil war. His objection to the Civil War is that it was inefficient.

Revenant said...

Ron Paul is the perfect illustration of why I'm not a member of the Libertarian Party anymore.

SMGalbraith said...

It was pointed out that one of Paul's intellectual heroes was the "anarcho-capitalist" Murray Rothbard.

It's a (possibly) workable approach (if implemented incrementally) if the rest of the world embraced it. Shades of (a sort of) Jeffersonian Democracy.

Unfortunately, if the US withdraws from the world and dismantles it's arsenal (soft and hard power), I'm not sure other countries will simply shrug their shoulders and accept our removal.

In other words, if the US isn't the dominant power in the world, some other country (or countries, more likely) will replace us.

So, if you don't want the US dominating (broadly speaking) the Persian Gulf or Middle East, what country do you want replacing us?

Because like it or not, someone will.

SMG

vet66 said...

Rue, make that Ron, Paul is a myopic dreamer that has a better chance of getting mugged in a parking lot than he has of getting the nomination he seeks.

He is, to put it mildly, out to lunch and an easy mark to any grifter, religious or otherwise, looking for a sap.

George said...

Saw a car yesterday....'Ron Paul '08'...stenciled on its rear window...

Its bumper sticker? '9/11 Was An Inside Job'

I reported the vehicle and its owner to the Central Authorities for processing.

EnigmatiCore said...

"MR. RUSSERT: So you think we're close to fascism?

REP. PAUL: I think we're approaching it very close...."

He's going for the Kos/Doyle/LOS vote, I see.

John Kindley said...

I'm not necessarily a Ron Paul supporter, but I don't see anything that was quoted there from his interview as "unserious." Get rid of unjust income taxes and the government will have less power to commit injustices at home and abroad. I don't mean to keep citing Lysander Spooner (who was a fervent abolitionist), lest I give commenters the impression that's the only thing I've ever read, but the first parts of his book "No Treason" are devoted to showing that the Civil War was really about Northern business interests overcoming the South's resistance to the North's exploitation of the South. The Emancipation Proclamation, of course, was merely a war measure. From bad intentions come very bad results. Northern businesses weren't going to spend all that money (though plenty of them made tons of war profits when the interests on their loans to fund the war came due) just to free the slaves. For the most part, they could care less, and in fact were plenty complicit in slavery until the South got all uppity. So Abe Lincoln, while a great rhetorician, was not the great or even good President people make him out to be.

I don't think there's anything inherently dangerous in abstraction, or idealism (which is what you seem to mean by "abstraction"). Such idealism is necessary to move the country in any worthwhile direction. Far better than the emptiness and nothingness which seems to characterize the souls of professional politicians of both parties. When somebody advances an ideal, there's always hesitation based upon skepticism about how it would work "in the real world." But that seems like an unfair burden of proof to put upon the idealist. It's naturally impossible to spell out in advance all the details of how a radically different society might work. And realistically, if somebody like Paul got elected, it's not like he'd be able to change the world overnight. He'd still have to work and compromise with all the other schmucks who make up the government.

cvbarr said...

Dr. Paul is a nut job. His views on the Civil war are illiterate.

That he occupies even a fraction of our national attention is very American. We love and tolerate our nuts. Thank God they rarely achieve high office.

Let him retire to Texas, to the bosoms of those who elected him--God knows they paid for and deserve his service.

SMGalbraith said...

REP. PAUL: I think we're approaching it very close...."

Well, if one believes that domestically the US government is a (near) fascist one, then you would have to believe that its role in the world is also a malevolent one.

This is why many on the Left are attracted to him.

Historically, the isolationism of the libertarian Right emanated from the view that the US was too good for the world. That our involvement would necessarily corrupt us. It would lead to large defense spending, a national security state, and alliances with unsavory nations.

The Left wants a diminished role in the world for the US because they believe that we corrupt the world. Or at least, an American led by non-leftists.

Anyway, Paul makes sense. He who says: (A) the US government at home is oppressing Americans; must also say: (B) the US government internationally is oppressing non-Americans.

Which leads us to (C): Paul is a nut.

Call it (apologies to Freud) "US Civilization and its Discontents".

EnigmatiCore said...

Ann, unlike you, I did not watch it.

But on Reason.com, I see this:

"10:52: Paul's October 1988 Reason column on the drug war gets quoted: Does Paul want to legalize drugs? "I'm defending the Constitution on this issue. I think drugs are horrible. Prescription drugs are worse than illegal drugs.""

Is this out of context?

Anyone-- is this defensible? Prescription drugs are worse than illegal drugs? WTF?

Donald Douglas said...

I watched today's MTP with interest. I've put up at least a half-dozen Paul post, and as soon as they're up, boom, out come the Paulites to attack!

"He's the real thing in a world of fakes and frauds..."

That says it! I especially liked the part about how he was returning earmark money, funneled to his district, "back to my constituents."

I'm planning a little entry on this as well. Thanks for the heads up on the transcript!

John Lynch said...

People, this isn't Libertarianism. This is old fashioned Bircher, Lyndon LaRouche, militia-group, far-right insanity. It's only dressed up as libertarianism. It's the same people and presented the same way as before. It's American political extremism. Let's call it that. Notice that all the extremists like him so much. I wonder why?

Robert said...

I left the military and am now in finance. I can see why economists like him. He wants to break the stranglehold that the banks and the Fed have over us through ever increasing amounts of debt. It is something we will have to do during our lifetimes and the longer it gets put off, the worse it will be. Kudos to Ron Paul for taking the high road there. However, as a former military guy I'm dumbfounded about how ignorant he is about what the world is really like. We like to think we are not in competition anymore and there will be no big wars again, but it is just not true. Although if he was voted in, he would get read in on the classified stuff and if he is not insane I like to think he'd change his tune. Why is nobody filling the void of the libertarian with a strong foreign policy??????

EnigmatiCore said...

"but I don't see anything that was quoted there from his interview as "unserious.""

Get glasses.

EnigmatiCore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EnigmatiCore said...

"Why is nobody filling the void of the libertarian with a strong foreign policy??????"

Probably because libertarian philosophy is diametrically opposed to a strong foreign policy?

rcocean said...

It must be Sweeps week - Sullivan and Ron Paul. I listened to part of the MTP; mixed feelings. Some sensible stuff mixed up with a lot of lunacy.

Lunacy:

-Legalizing drugs
-Getting rid of the Income Tax
-Thinking you're going to Save $1 Trillion dollars by "bringing America Home". The entire DoD budget is only $600 Billion excluding the war.
-Open borders & unlimited immigration - but its OK because we'll get rid of the welfare state.
- Huckabee showing the cross is "fascism".

Sensible:

-Cutting back on our overseas commitments, since we're over-extended and need to stop policing the world & saving the Middle East for Democracy. BUT we need to be the dominant military power, and to keep the Persian Gulf Oil secure.
-Reducing the power of the Banks, the Big Corporations, and the Fed in our public lives and the economy.
-Getting rid of the Dept of Education.

John Stodder said...

And then you've got that mish-mosh emanating from the mad cow mind of Andrew Sullivan. What happened to that guy? He was the first blogger I read regularly. I wouldn't be surprised if Sullivan is the victim of a "Paul is Dead" scenario, with some imposter writing his blog since about 2004.

The tragedy of the Civil War shouldn't be fodder for Paul's cracked revisionism. The principle Lincoln was defending was a matter of survival for not just the American ideal, but America itself. If factions could use political defeat to secede from the union, if that precedent took hold, the country would have very quickly fallen apart, which would not only mean the end of the democratic experiment, but also would have opened to door for the European colonial powers to reassert control over more of the American continent.

Hanging the 600,000 Civil War dead around Lincoln's neck is just more anti-American historical masochism, and leaves the true villains, the governors of states like South Carolina and figures like Chief Justice Taney off the hook.

SMGalbraith said...

Thinking you're going to Save $1 Trillion dollars by "bringing America Home".

I scratched my head over that one, too? One trillion?

Maybe over a decade, but not one year.

After all, our military committments overseas are included in the defense authorization. And the entire defense budget is about $440 billion (excluding the war costs) and most of that is beans and bullets.

Paul's numbers just don't add up.

To be fair, no candidate's numbers add up.

SMG

AJ Lynch said...

John Stodder asked about Sullivan:

"What happened to that guy"?

That is a great question. I used to read his blog too but got tired because he invariably turned every topic into a referendum on either gay marriage or torture.

I think he is extremely frustrated because he never made it to the top tier of blogger/ pundits like Ann and Instapundit. As a result, Sullivan now has had to settle for a regular spot on Sunday's Hardball which is the mimor leagues IMHO.

Synova said...

If we *could* if it was possible to simply disengage (and I'm assuming that Ron Paul is talking about bringing *America* home and not just our troops home from Iraq) we could save a whole lot of money.

What is frighteningly unbalanced is the notion that our involvement with the world, not just military but all of it, is *optional*. That we could just chose not to participate.

Like that nutcase from San Francisco who figured we should just disband the military and let the police and coast guard protect our borders.

It reeks of the notion that ignoring bullies will stop them from hurting you. Or that being a nice person means no one will ever break into your house and steal from you. And no one would ever rape your daughter, *just because they wanted to do it.*

It entirely ignores human nature.

Libertarianism (or Objectivism) works by recognizing human nature and attempting to work with it instead of against it.

Kirby Olson said...

Someone showed up at my blog yesterday saying she was for Ron Paul. Paul was raised as a Lutheran and has two brothers who are Lutheran pastors. The woman who showed up was also a Lutheran.

I am a Lutheran, but I can't understand how leaving Israel to be decimated by its neighbors is somehow a good idea.

Interesting. He's on TV for another hour this evening. It's fun to see what this guy is about.

Meanwhile, I ask: who is the closest to the center? To me it's Hillary and Giuliani. All the fringe candidates seem like a lot of fun, but I'd like the center to win.

Robert said...

"Why is nobody filling the void of the libertarian with a strong foreign policy??????"

"Probably because libertarian philosophy is diametrically opposed to a strong foreign policy?"

I understand that. I wasn't saying this hypothetical candidate would be a Libertarian. Most of the "Why I left the Libertarian party" stuff out there talks about waking up and realizing the weak foreign policy plank won't work. I would vote for a social libertarian with a strong foreign policy in a hearrtbeat.

EnigmatiCore said...

"I would vote for a social libertarian with a strong foreign policy in a hearrtbeat."

Guiliani waves hi.

Simon said...

Mortimer Brezny said...
"Ron Paul says in the interview that other countries phased-out slavery without civil wars and simply purchasing slaves to liberate them would have cost less than a civil war. His objection to the Civil War is that it was inefficient."

Then his objection is loony. The north didn't start the civil war, and America is not other countries. My response to him is basically the same as my answer to the libertarian critics of the CRA a year ago: "To be opposed to federally-imposed desegregation [wa]s to be opposed to desegregation, unless you can convincingly explain why the South - after nearly a century of failing to voluntarily desegregate - was suddenly going to get God and do so sua sponte."

I also resent the implicit claims he makes about "constitutional-size government." Even as someone who agrees with him that much of what the federal government does today is both unconstitutional and bad policy, I think he makes exactly the mirror-image of the mistake that big government liberals make in thinking that whatever he thinks is good policy, that's what the Constitution allows and no more. The Constitution isn't deterministic enough for the term "constitutional-size government" to be coherent; the Constitution would permit many different-sized federal governments, some of which need more revenues than could be obtained without the income tax. Of cause, Paul isn't a libertarian, he's a populist, as he demonstrates by his opposition to free trade, and would thus have no objection to funding the feds based on excise taxes.

And with all due respect to John, as to the argument that "if somebody like Paul got elected, it's not like he'd be able to change the world overnight. He'd still have to work and compromise with all the other schmucks who make up the government." We see that from a lot of Paul supporters, but I find it surprising that the best argument they can muster for why he wouldn't be dangerous is that he'd be completely ineffectual.

On the plus side, I think Glenn Reynolds raises a very good point that since Paul is himself an unbearably unappealing candidate, his rise suggests that libertarian ideas are appealing enough that voters like them enough to look past the candidate himself. On the other hand, as I've said before, I'm more inclined to think that the two drivers of his candidacy are that he's the only Republican opposed to the war and an overreaction to the glut of spending and big government republicanism of the last seven years.

Stephen Snell said...

One can understand all of Sullivan's crap since 2004 by filtering it through Bush's decision not to back gay marriage. He has been pissy about that above all else, and it explains his unhinged pinballism since then. He is a buffoon.

jimbino said...

Tim Russert performed poorly. He trotted out the old canard of holding a person responsible for taking advantage of policies with which he disagrees when he challenged Ron Paul to defend his attempts to secure for his constituents their fair share of federal funds while opposing federal policies of confiscation and arbitrary transfer of wealth.

Ron Paul is of course right in responding that a person who opposes a government policy of providing, say, child tax credits, is in no way hypocritical in taking child tax credits himself if qualified. Hypocritical would be to attack another of taking the credits while taking them himself. Russert is a philosophical dwarf.

SMGalbraith said...

Ron Paul says in the interview that other countries phased-out slavery without civil wars and simply purchasing slaves to liberate them would have cost less than a civil war. His objection to the Civil War is that it was inefficient."

Well, there was a little thing called the Dred Scott decision which, among other problems, ruled that all descendants of black Africans in America were not citizens.

Even had the North purchased them, they still wouldn't be US citizens.

We needed the 14th Amendment to fix that problem.

And there was no way the Southern states were going to ratify that Amendment.

SMG

John Stodder said...

One can understand all of Sullivan's crap since 2004 by filtering it through Bush's decision not to back gay marriage.

That's obviously part of what's wrong with Sullivan, but it goes beyond that. His writing is different now. He used to be a lot smarter, and his writing used to be a lot crisper and more intelligent. I went to his original blog largely because his posts were so stimulating, whether I always agreed or not.

Now, Sullivan writes like a hack. A slightly less verbose Glenn Greenwald. A guy who uses a lot of words to say nothing. He's not the same guy.

Moose said...

Sullivan re: Bush.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

George said...

Paul is also riding the gold wave. He loathes the Fed and says it's the reason gold is spiking.

Here's a column by him on the subject from 2005.

Whether the Fed's responsible or not, saner people are betting on gold. Alan Abelson touts gold in this week's Barrons. Gold could hit a 1980 inflation adjusted peak of $2,250, if inflation surges, according to the new issue of Business Week.

No wonder some people like what Paul is saying.

This message has been brought to you by the American Gold Council.

Paddy O. said...

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.


If Lincoln had not gone to war there would be no Republic as it was originally intended. There would be two countries instead of one, and Bleeding Kansas suggests those two countries would have gone to war over who controlled the West.

Plus, Paul would not even be a United States citizen, but a citizen of the Confederate States.

So maybe he should start defending that constitution not the US Constitution which he apparently thinks wasn't good enough for his home state.

Secesh. Never a clear thinker.

rcocean said...

I would disagree that either Ron Paul, Sullivan, or the libertarians in general are "dangerous".

Paul like almost all on the far right (I'm not talking about Sully) are simply too stupid and Frivolous to be "dangerous". If Paul was dangerous, he would figure what parts of his program are popular and junk the rest. Instead, he runs around calling people fascists, wants to legalize drugs, and get rid of the income tax. Other than a few nuts, 90 percent of Americans find his program absurd.

Sully isn't dangerous, since he'll strongly oppose tomorrow what he strongly supports today. His only consistent position is Gay Rights.

SMGalbraith said...

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.

This is pure Murray Rothbard.

Rothbard: "The Civil War was, of course, much worse – the Civil War was really the great turning point, one of the great turning points in the increase of State power, because with the Civil War you now have the total introduction of things like railroad land grants, subsidies of big business, permanent high tariffs, which the Jacksonians had been able to whittle away before the Civil War, and a total revolution in the monetary system so that the old pure gold standard was replaced first by greenback paper, and then by the National Banking Act – a controlled banking system. And for the first time we had the imposition in the United States of an income tax and federal conscription. The income tax was reluctantly eliminated after the Civil War as was conscription: all the other things – such as high excise taxes—continued on as a permanent accretion of State power over the American public."

SMG

Revenant said...

I can see why economists like him.

Huh? Economists think Ron Paul's an idiot, and rightly so.

Revenant said...

Probably because libertarian philosophy is diametrically opposed to a strong foreign policy?

No, the Libertarian Party is diametrically opposed to a strong foreign policy. Libertarianism, as a political philosophy, doesn't really provide any practical guidelines for formulating a foreign policy, and thus libertarians as a group have a wide-ranging selection of foreign policy ideas.

Paul belongs to the "if we just close our eyes it will go away" school of libertarian foreign policy thought, which is why I'm deeply thankful the man will never be elected President.

Ann Althouse said...

Enigmaticore, you asked what he said about prescription drugs. I linked to the transcript:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me ask you about drugs and go back again to your '90--'88 campaign and see where you stand today. "All drugs should be decriminalized. Drugs should be distributed by any adult to other adults. There should be no controls on production, supply or purchase for adults." Is that still your position?

REP. PAUL: Yeah. It's sort of like alcohol. Alcohol's a deadly drug, kills more people than anything else. And today the absurdity on this war on drugs, Tim, has just been horrible. We now, the federal government, takes over and rules--overrules state laws where state laws permit medicinal marijuana for people dying of cancer. The federal government goes in and arrests these people, put them in prison with mandatory, sometimes life sentences. This war on drugs is totally out of control. If you want to regulate cigarettes and alcohol and drugs, it should be at the state level. That's been my position, and that's where I stand on it. But the federal government has no, no prerogatives on this. They--when they wanted to outlaw alcohol, they had enough respect for the Constitution to amend the Constitution. Today we have all these laws and abuse, and they don't even care about the Constitution. I'm defending the Constitution on this issue. I think drugs are horrible. I teach my kids not to use them, my grandchildren, in my medical practice. Prescription drugs are a greater danger than, than hard drugs.

Simon said...

rcocean said...
"Paul like almost all on the far right (I'm not talking about Sully) are simply too stupid and Frivolous to be 'dangerous.'"

Stupidity combined with power can be dangerous, though, right?

I'm not sure the characterization of Paul as the "far right" is helpful either. The Ron Paul-style self-proclaimed libertarians and the Jim Dobson wing of the religious right can't both occupy the same space. Paul might fairly be seen as occupying the extreme end of the planning-liberty axis of the increasingly poular dual-axis political spectrum, but I don't think those models are really helpful. Paul's extreme, period. Too much so for my liking, I'm afraid, and you'd think I'd be a natural constituent for someone who talks like he does.

Robert said...

Austrian school Economists like Ron Paul. We'll get a chance to see if there is a downside to Keynesian economics over the next 5 years.

Stephen Snell said...

John Stoddard,

I agree but with one possible distinction: I think Sullivan's writing went down the toilet because of the contortions required by his sudden and irrational hatred of Bush, i.e. his disdain converted him into a hack.

Moose,

Oh, you.

jenny said...

I saw this in the American Spectator three years ago and I suspect it explains a bit about Sully:

"SULLIVAN SEEMS TO harbor the hope that one can be hip and Republican. His disaffection with Bush is thus not really about policy; it's about style. Bush and his party do not understand and do not want to understand the libertarian lifestyles and political positions of the creative elites who drive the American economy.

From Sullivan & Co.'s perspective, Bush's public courting of the red state Babbits and the fundamentalist boobocracy suggests a want of taste. Sullivan can't come out and say that, so he is contenting himself by being pessimistic and snippy from the sidelines. american spectator"

Mortimer Brezny said...

The north didn't start the civil war, and America is not other countries.

That's all well and good and nice and nonresponsive.

But Paul's point was only that purchasing slaves and freeing them would have been less costly than waging the Civil War. That's not really disputable (by a sane person).

His wider point about America being the last bastion of slavery was probably that the international market for slaves had dried up, so swapping cash for slaves was feasible.

Who fired the first shot in the Civil War is irrelevant to Paul's point.

SMGalbraith said...

His wider point about America being the last bastion of slavery was probably that the international market for slaves had dried up, so swapping cash for slaves was feasible

Only if the plantation owners were willing to sell them.

And not breed them for purchase. Sell two, breed two more.

Moreover, the issues of Dred Scott and "pop sov" in the new territories remained to be resolved.

Like many of Paul's proposals, they overlook too much.

SMG

Michael said...

MR. RUSSERT: So you think we're close to fascism?

REP. PAUL: I think we're approaching it very close....

If he really thinks this, then the only rational choice would be to leave while the leaving was good.

That he is not leaving, and in fact is staying and running for office, tells me that he either isn't rational, or he doesn't believe his own bullshit.

nyomythus said...

Stunning interview -- great work by Russert.

Duscany said...

Anyone who thinks Abe Lincoln went to war to "free the slaves" hasn't read any history since the eighth grade. Slavery was a retroactive justification for the Civil War, not the cause of it.

Simon said...

Mort, I think that's staggeringly ignorant of the actual reality of the antebellum south, to the point that it doesn't warrant the time it would take to explain the history. As for who firing the first shot being "irrelevant to Paul's point," it's very relevant: if Paul's going to criticize Lincoln for going to war, it's very relevant that the south didn't leave because the war began, the war began because the south left. That reality is enormously consequential for several reasons, including the one Paddy noted upthread.

nyomythus said...

Paul represents the closing of a circle, where the paleoconservative, isolationist, 'country kook doctor' shakes hands with the Cindy Sheehan, loony Left.

Eli Blake said...

His wider point about America being the last bastion of slavery was probably that the international market for slaves had dried up, so swapping cash for slaves was feasible.

America the last bastion of slavery? Tell that to the slaves working in the royal household of Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere in the middle east.

Paul has hit on a nerve, one that most Americans are too narcisstic to see. We may choose not to see the hypocrisy in spouting 'Democracy' on one hand but supporting and sustaining unpopular and repressive dictatorial regimes like those in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia on the other hand.

But people around the world do see that, which is why they are so much more likely to detest America than, for example, the Chinese or Russians who don't pretend to be something they're not.

That said, I would only point out that Hitler hit a nerve too.

Simon said...

Duscany said...
"Slavery was a retroactive justification for the Civil War, not the cause of it."

As with Iraq, there were doubtless several motivations in Lincoln's mind, and at any given time, the one most likely to carry the public with it was the one publicly offered.

PatCA said...

Sure, let's bring all the troops home from everywhere. And when all the resultant civil, uncivil, Islamic, Tamil, Balkan wars end and the people get sick and tired of killing, everything will be fine. And think of the money we'll save!

He's a nut.

End of War?

hdhouse said...

the right wing answer to ralph.

Revenant said...

Austrian school Economists like Ron Paul.

Some do, but only the nuttier ones who are still droning on about gold standards and the evils of the Fed. For the rest, Paul's opposition to free trade is a deal-breaker; Hayek would have laughed in the man's face.

Simon said...

Eli:
"the Chinese or Russians who don't pretend to be something they're not.

I understand your wider point, and this reply isn't strictly on-point, but I continue to believe that America and Russia have no adverse interests and it is both practical and in our interests to have a warm relationship with an economically and militarily strong Russia, not least because it provides a counterweight to China. To throw that away because we have minor concerns of Putin's style strikes me as bad policy.

Revenant said...

But Paul's point was only that purchasing slaves and freeing them would have been less costly than waging the Civil War. That's not really disputable (by a sane person).

In the sense that a sane person would have better sense than to get into a dispute with someone nutty enough to believe that such a buyout would have been either possible or a good idea to do. :)

Probably the most amusing thing about that particularly nutty idea is that Congress had no power to purchase slaves from anybody, nor any authority to force those owning them to sell. So implementing the "buyout" plan, even if it had been possible (which of course it obviously was not) would have been exactly the sort of big-government violation of Constitutional principles and individual rights that Paul pretends to be obsessed with.

Eli Blake said...

Simon:

Actually, I was contrasting the view that people in the third world have of the U.S. with the view that they have of Russia and China. Many of them (especially if they live in monarchies or dictatorships which we back economically, militarily and/or politically) view with disgust our professed support of 'democracy' when in fact we are supporting regimes which repress anyone who actually wants real democracy. In contrast, the Chinese and Russia under Putin are all about promoting their own self-interest, and don't pretend to be working in the interest of the citizens of the countries where they deal. At least that is viewed as more honest than the lip service we pay to an ideal that we in reality don't support.

As far as the larger geo-political situation, there are some situations where we can look at Russia as an ally (not only against China but against Islamic extremism) but we want to be wary of allying too strongly with them. Remember it was only a generation ago that we helped create the Chinese hydra that we now face by trying to look at them a a 'counterweight' to Russia. A much more natural ally for the U.S. both as a counterweight to China and Islamic extremism is India. Indians have developed democracy on their own (not with it being forced on them from the outside) and have never been of an expansionist mindset; but they are ready to defend themselves and stand as a barrier to both Chinese and Islamic geopolitical and economic expansion.

David said...

I'd be grateful if someone could point to any country with a sizable slave population that bought the slaves to liberate them. I'm not aware of any such program. Dr. Paul is probably thinking about Great Britain, but that's not what happened. Great Britain emancipated the slaves in its colonies (there were none in England) in 1833. Compensation set by Parliament at an arbitrary total of 20 million Pounds was paid to slaveholders in the Caribbean only at rates amounting to about 42%-55% of "value." That's a much different thing and, since it was an expropriation of property, Dr. Paul would presumably be opposed.

The Civil War started when the South seceded. The South seceded because Lincoln was elected. The South objected to Lincoln because he was the abolitionist candidate of an abolitionist party. Although the Republicans would probably not have emancipated the slaves in the absence of the war, they would have stopped its spread. The South understood that that ultimately would have been the end of slavery, so it seceded.

Now, Lincoln could have let the South secede; lot's of people, including lots of abolitionists, wanted him to do so. He went to war not to free the slaves but to save the Union. In doing so, the nature of the federal government was forever changed. But to suggest that the war had nothing to do with slavery is delusional.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Probably the most amusing thing about that particularly nutty idea is that Congress had no power to purchase slaves from anybody, nor any authority to force those owning them to sell.

Where exactly does the Constitution forbid Congress from purchasing property? I hope your authority isn't those racist Civil Rights Cases, which post-date the Civil War. That would make your argument self-refuting. Further, the Louisiana Purchase took place prior to the Civil War. Lastly, in the interview Paul referred obliquely to the Slaughter-House Cases being the proper lens through which to interpret the text of the 14th Amendment, so he doesn't seem to be as strict a constructionist as you claim he is.

So implementing the "buyout" plan, even if it had been possible (which of course it obviously was not)

I suppose your own smugness convinces you, much as you like the scent of your own farts. But for those of us who have no access to the recesses of your mind, what makes such a plan obviously impossible? (Nevermind the fact that the possibility of such a plan is not at issue, rather the feasibility, given the prevailing market conditions, is.)

You seem not to know what economic feasibility means.

Mortimer Brezny said...

But to suggest that the war had nothing to do with slavery is delusional.

Who suggested this?

That's a much different thing and, since it was an expropriation of property, Dr. Paul would presumably be opposed.

Not if he doesn't think people are property. The man is a libertarian.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Compensation set by Parliament at an arbitrary total of 20 million Pounds was paid to slaveholders in the Caribbean only at rates amounting to about 42%-55% of "value."

Yes, but there isn't a fair market value to compare the compensation to if the market has dried up.

So the compensation isn't arbitrary. Or unfair.

SMGalbraith said...

Some quick Googling:

In 1860, there were approximately 4 million slaves in the US (Source).

Wikipedia (shaky, I know) states that the average cost of a slave in the US in 1850 was about $1,000 (Source).

At $1,000 per slave, that would be $4 billion dollars.

The GDP of the entire US in 1860 was $4 billion (Source).

SMG

Mark Daniels said...

What people like Paul don't understand is that Thomas Jefferson, who he sometimes seems to mimic, represented only one part of the Revolutionary War-generation's work. After liberty was secured and the Articles of Confederation proved to be a monumental failure, they completed their work by writing the Constitution. Free people, they learned, must covenant together and submit to mutual accountability in order to make a republican form of government work.

Jefferson had a romantic vision of human beings as being intrinsically pure. Washington, Adams, Hamilton, and the other proponents of the Federalist vision had a more accurate understanding of human nature.

As to Paul's ideas about Lincoln and the Civil War, I once dabbled in his notions about the avoidability of the conflict. (He seems to be in agreement on this point with that great curmudgeon of US history, Gore Vidal.) But, as has already been pointed out in this discussion, it was the South which initiated the conflict by firing on US troops at Fort Sumter, a military facility within the boundaries of a state, South Carolina.

As to buying the freedom of slaves, Lincoln tried earnestly to bring an early end to the Civil War by offering to purchase slaves held in the South. But the effort was utterly spurned by the slaveholders. ("Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America" by Allen C. Guelzo gives a terrific account of this.)

Finally, to minimize the implacable hatred toward the US of radical Islamic jihadists is, there can be no other term for it, stupid. No matter what one's feelings about the war in Iraq or its relationship to the global war on terrorism or about the deployment of US military personnel around the world, no rational person can say that al Qaeda and its allies will stop hating us or plotting against us once they "believe us."

The mystery to me is how anybody with a scintilla of knowledge of US history could be attracted to Ron Paul's ideas.

The comfort for me is that very few are attracted to his ideas.

Mark Daniels

Beth said...

Anyone who thinks Abe Lincoln went to war to "free the slaves" hasn't read any history since the eighth grade. Slavery was a retroactive justification for the Civil War, not the cause of it.

Anyone who believes that hasn't read any of the contemporaneous speeches from Southern leaders declaring, amond other things, that abolition and the Union could not co-exist. The Southerners quite clearly and repeatedly cited slavery as a key factor in their economic survival and declared that any attempt to end slavery would mean revolution.

EnigmatiCore said...

"I teach my kids not to use them, my grandchildren, in my medical practice. Prescription drugs are a greater danger than, than hard drugs."

That is nutso cuckoo.

Mortimer Brezny said...

As to buying the freedom of slaves, Lincoln tried earnestly to bring an early end to the Civil War by offering to purchase slaves held in the South. But the effort was utterly spurned by the slaveholders. ("Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America" by Allen C. Guelzo gives a terrific account of this.)

I would imagine the argument here is the price was too low and Abe tried too late.

Mortimer Brezny said...

In 1860, there were approximately 4 million slaves in the US

Wouldn't need to buy all of them to avert the war or to pay in cash, would be the argument.

Fen said...

you're going to Save $1 Trillion dollars by "bringing America Home".

So who's going to patrol the sea lanes and keep them open for trade against piracy?

Mortimer Brezny said...

So who's going to patrol the sea lanes and keep them open for trade against piracy?

Coast Guard.

Simon said...

Mortimer Brezny said...
"Lastly, in the interview Paul referred obliquely to the Slaughter-House Cases being the proper lens through which to interpret the text of the 14th Amendment, so he doesn't seem to be as strict a constructionist as you claim he is."

I missed that, but if he thinks that case was correctly decided, he really is a loony.

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eli Blake said...

A lot of this actually doesn't sound all that different from positions taken by Pat Buchanan in 1992.

I actually consider it a sign of progress in the GOP that in 1992 Buchanan was serious threat at least immediately after the N.H. primary to take down an incumbent President of his own party, but this year even in a wide-open GOP primary field, Paul is running sixth in a field where any of the top five stand a realistic chance to win.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I missed that, but if he thinks that case was correctly decided,

Any principled application of original public meaning would hold that case was rightly decided. Not to mention it is the law.

Simon said...

We're not going to get into this tonight, Mort, but I would strongly disagree that Slaughterhouse Cases is a correct interpretation within the range of the original meaning of the fourteenth amendment.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Tell that to the slaves working in the royal household of Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere in the middle east.

That's not really much of a retort. American plantation slavery was unique, in that the children of slaves were born slaves also, rather than incorporated into the household of the slave's owner. The absence of intermarriage and lack of absoption of later generations is what necessitated the birth citizenship in the 14th Amendment that Paul wants to get rid of (by limiting the interpretation of the 14th Amendment to its original meaning in the Slaughter-House Cases), and the economic redistribution attempted by the Reconstruction.

I would strongly disagree that Slaughterhouse Cases is a correct interpretation within the range of the original meaning of the fourteenth amendment.

I'm not sure how you get to that original meaning. The Slaughter-House Cases were the first judicial interpretation of the 14th Amendment, so they govern/capture its original public meaning. I would have to agree with Ron Paul that the Slaughter-House Cases are rightly decided, and the immigration issue is one reason why. Another is that it makes no historical sense to claim the 14th Amendment obviated the need for the 19th. If so, then why bother with the 19th? Let's not make hash of history.

Revenant said...

Where exactly does the Constitution forbid Congress from purchasing property?

Congress has the authority (under the "necessary and proper" clause) to purchase property in furtherance of one of its enumerated powers. Any other purchase of property is forbidden implicitly by the original text of the Constitution, and explicitly by the tenth amendment. The purchase of slaves in order to free them does not fall under any of the enumerated powers of Congress.

Further, the Louisiana Purchase took place prior to the Civil War.

The Louisiana Purchase probably wasn't constitutionally sound either. Certainly Jefferson didn't think it was; he went ahead with it anyway because he didn't think there was time to pass an amendment allowing it.

[Paul] doesn't seem to be as strict a constructionist as you claim he is.

I don't claim Paul's a strict constructionist. He isn't; he's just a nut. Paul himself, however, claims to be all about the Constitution, and that's clearly ridiculous.

what makes such a plan obviously impossible?

Because the plan requires that all the slave owners be willing to sell off all their slaves for a lower cost than the $1550 and 0.08 lives it cost the Union to free each slave. Since the free market price was already over $1650 in 1860, and since attempting to corner a market by buying up everything in it always sends prices through the roof (e.g., silver went from $2 to $54 during the Hunt brothers' attempt to corner the market), it is not possible that the market price of the entire population of slaves would have ended up being less than the Union's cost for the Civil War.

The only way to keep the per-slave price under that of the Civil War would be for the government to force slave owners, at gunpoint, to sell at below market value -- and then we're right back in the Civil War again.

Eli Blake said...

Mortimer:

I was however responding to the claim that America was the 'last bastion of slavery,' which is demonstrably untrue.

As to the slaves in the middle east, many of them are either captured as 'war booty' in campaigns against Christians in southern Sudan, or lured here by promises of work (with the implication that it will be paid work which they can leave voluntarily) from countries like Bangladesh, the Philippines and Indonesia. Also, some of the young male slaves, especially those forced to become camel jockeys, are forcibly emasculated, so that the reason their children don't become members of the royal household is because they can't have any children.

Revenant said...

American plantation slavery was unique, in that the children of slaves were born slaves also, rather than incorporated into the household of the slave's owner

Meanwhile, back in reality, Brazil -- where over a third of African slaves wound up -- practiced the same system of hereditary plantation slavery that the United States did until 1888. And of course entire native populations (kids and all) were enslaved until the 1910s in parts of South America.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Certainly Jefferson didn't think it was

And plenty of the rest of the Founders disagreed.

Congress has the authority (under the "necessary and proper" clause) to purchase property in furtherance of one of its enumerated powers.

That's fine, but your method of constitutional interpretation is fallacious. "Buying slaves in order to free them" need not be an enumerated power of Congress for that act to fall within the scope of one of Congress' enumerated powers. And I fail to see how "Congress buying property" becomes unconstitutional after the Louisiana Purchase.

it is not possible that the market price of the entire population of slaves would have ended up being less than the Union's cost for the Civil War.

No need to buy them all or to pay in cash. I also think you're taking the "free market price" as Gospel. Markets are shaped by government policies.

Mortimer Brezny said...

practiced the same system of hereditary plantation slavery that the United States did until 1888

That's not my understanding. Citation?

PatCA said...

"So who's going to patrol the sea lanes and keep them open for trade against piracy?

Coast Guard."

We help protect sea lanes throughout the entire world, not just in US waters.

Eli Blake said...

I wonder:

Did Ann wait to put up the post on Ron Paul until the last full moon before the Iowa caucuses? It is right next to Mars right now.

A night for the neocons to come out, methinks.

Good night.

Mortimer Brezny said...

We help protect sea lanes throughout the entire world, not just in US waters.

But Ron Paul doesn't think we should police the world, so that makes no sense as a reply.

Mortimer Brezny said...

I was however responding to the claim that America was the 'last bastion of slavery,'

Fair enough, I guess, except I wasn't being literal and was describing in shorthand Ron Paul's comments on Meet the Press. I understood him to be referring -- as someone else did, too -- to European nations, particularly Great Britain. Wasn't claiming, say, that no slavery has occurred anywhere in the world in any way, shape, or form since the end of the Civil War. Which would just be crazy. Perhaps I put too much stress on bastion.

Fen said...

But Ron Paul doesn't think we should police the world, so that makes no sense as a reply

So who protects our ships after they leave whatever imaginary line Paul constucts?

Fen said...

Sidenote: this is a very unique thread. Usually the Paulites come swarming into any blog that criticizes their leader. They must be slacking off.

PatCA said...

No, Mortimer, you Coast Guard response makes no sense to the argument that we patrol sea lanes all over the world. Are you saying there is no need of that, or treaty obligation?

jeff said...

"But Paul's point was only that purchasing slaves and freeing them would have been less costly than waging the Civil War. That's not really disputable (by a sane person)."

Well, I'm fairly sane, but I am at a loss to figure out how Lincoln could know what the civil war would cast before it started. Was it general consensus pre-war that it would end up costing 600,000 lives and how ever many dollars?

amba said...

Wait, I thought Andrew was supporting Obama.

Blake said...

EnigmatiCore,

Prescription drugs kill an order of magnitude more people than illegal drugs, from adverse side effects alone. (Something like 15K to 150K.)

The fascinating thing to me is which of Paul's various positions that people decide are crazy versus the reasonable ones.

I've also always sort of wondered if the guys fighting in the Civil War were fighting for (among other things) the end of slavery, doesn't that mean that was what the war was about (even if Lincoln had nefarious motives). Kind of like Iraq: If the soldiers are fighting for a free and democratic Iraq, isn't that what it's about regardless of whether Haliburton profits and W. is evil incarnate?

Fen said...

The Southerners quite clearly and repeatedly cited slavery as a key factor in their economic survival and declared that any attempt to end slavery would mean revolution.

Right, but only as an example for the larger context: state's rights vs federalism. The slavery argument was commonly used to make that distinction.

And a Hat Tip to those pesky christian conservatives who got the abolitionist ball rolling.

LoafingOaf said...

Andrew Sullivan's endorsement of Paul was smart. It got him a lot of hits and attention. Since that's what he primarily cares about (himself and how much attention he receives), it was a good move.

Kirk Parker said...

"What is frighteningly unbalanced is the notion that our involvement with the world, not just military but all of it, is *optional*. That we could just chose not to participate."

This is especially unserious (or goofball, take your pick) when held simultaneously with the notion that we should just abolish our borders.

Morty,

"Coast Guard"

For free???

Mortimer Brezny said...

No, Mortimer, you Coast Guard response makes no sense to the argument that we patrol sea lanes all over the world.

Way to keep it irrational. By the way:

"In 1790 a predecessor of the U.S. Coast Guard was established by the First Congress of the United States. This newly formed maritime force did not have an official name. Rather, it was referred to simply as "the cutters" or "the system of cutters." This small force was to enforce national laws, in particular, those dealing with tariffs. At the time, these cutters were the only maritime force available to the new government under the Constitution. After all, the Continental Navy had been disbanded in 1785. Thus, between 1790 and 1798, there was no United States Navy and the cutters were the only warships protecting the coast, trade, and maritime interests of the new republic."

...

"During the Korean War (1950-53), the Coast Guard performed a variety of tasks. After the start of the conflict, the Coast Guard established air detachments throughout the Pacific. These detachments, located at Sangley Point in the Philippines, Guam, Wake, Midway, Adak, and Barbers Point in the Hawaiian Islands conducted search and rescue to safeguard the tens of thousands of United Nations troops that were being airlifted across the Pacific. The service recommissioned a number of mothballed Navy destroyer escorts to augment the fleet (left)."

http://www.uscg.mil/history/h_CGatwar.html

Fen said...

"But Paul's point was only that purchasing slaves and freeing them would have been less costly than waging the Civil War. That's not really disputable (by a sane person)."

Why does Paul think that purchasing slaves would have averted the Civil War? There would have been a war regardless. All he would have accomplished was to make the slave trade more profitable.

"Message to Exchange. US government purchasing slave stock at 2x value. Damages merchandise selling at 3x value. Debark immediately to resupply stock."

Fen said...

My Dearest Isabell,

It is with profound regret that I must delay my homecoming for another six weeks. Father has sold one-half of our weakest, sickly and troublesome slaves to the new Ron Paul administration. I must hurry to Charleston to reinvest the profit for more suitable replacements.

Lovingly
J.A.

Synova said...

Turning the Coast Guard into a Navy so it can do what the Navy does only means you still have a Navy.

EnigmatiCore said...

"Prescription drugs kill an order of magnitude more people than illegal drugs, from adverse side effects alone. (Something like 15K to 150K.)"

And it is on this that you defend the notion that prescription drugs are worse, much worse, than illegal drugs?

When you come up with a stance that is so intuitively out-there, it is wise to re-think things to ensure that you aren't embracing the nonsensical. Or put another way, if you do not want people to think you insane, then hone your filter to keep you from taking insane positions.

Prescription drugs do not cost 150K lives a year, even if 150K people die from adverse reactions to them. That is just one part of the equation. You have to factor in all of the people who fought off disease with antibiotics, who kept their blood pressure in check, who kept their hearts from failing, etc. This number is significantly higher than the number of people who died from adverse reactions.

Yet you want to defend the notion that prescription drugs are worse, much worse, than illegal drugs?

Sorry, that is lunacy. Further, it can be applied to many things, such as "automobiles kill an order of magnitude more people than illegal drugs, from accidents alone. Ergo, automobiles are much worse than illegal drugs." No. Automobiles do no such thing. The benefits, such as improving commerce so people can live better (including having more money for food, shelter, and health care including prescription drugs), vastly overwhelm the deaths due to accidents.

Simon said...

Mortimer Brezny said...
"'Buying slaves in order to free them' need not be an enumerated power of Congress for that act to fall within the scope of one of Congress' enumerated powers."

That's true, but it rejoins Rev without actually showing your hand. I'm not taking a position one way or another here, but what power of Congress would you say buying the slaves (using something akin to eminent domain if necessary) would have fallen within the scope of?

Kirby Olson said...

This is the 100th comment on Ron Paul.

Michael_H said...

Jeez. Ron Paul makes Sean Penn sound intelligent, an otherwise impossible task.

Revenant said...

Right, but only as an example for the larger context: state's rights vs federalism. The slavery argument was commonly used to make that distinction.

The notion that the slave states really cared about federalism or state's rights is a modern myth. The slave states were perfectly happy to use the power of the federal government to force the free states to support slavery; they only cried "state's rights" when the political momentum was against them.

Revenant said...

"Buying slaves in order to free them" need not be an enumerated power of Congress for that act to fall within the scope of one of Congress' enumerated powers.

Pay attention, Morty. It isn't just that "purchasing slaves" isn't one of Congress' enumerated powers -- it is also that it isn't "necessary or proper" for carrying out any of its enumerated powers. One or the other is necessary. An act which is not an enumerated power of Congress or necessary for one of those powers is forbidden to Congress. I already explained that in the post you responded to.

And I fail to see how "Congress buying property" becomes unconstitutional after the Louisiana Purchase.

Unconstitutional acts don't magically become constitutional just because Congress gets away with a similar act. Even if the Louisiana Purchase (a) was permissible under the Constitution (and you haven't offered any argument that it was) and (b) the same type of purchase as the one you're describing here (it wasn't -- it was done via a treaty with a foreign nation) that wouldn't have the effect of amending the Constitution to allow Congress to spend money on anything it feels like.

No need to buy them all or to pay in cash. I also think you're taking the "free market price" as Gospel. Markets are shaped by government policies.

If you don't buy (and free) them all, you aren't ending slavery. "Buying them all" is a requirement for your idiotic plan to work. As for not having to pay market price, the one and ONLY alternative to paying market price is to force people to sell their property for less than it is worth. As I already explained to you, the slave states would not have accepted that.

I'm sure you'll have some inane nonresponsive response to this, but I've hit this tar baby long enough. I'll let someone else take over arguing with the "the Civil War was a mistake" fruitcakes.

SMGalbraith said...

The slave states were perfectly happy to use the power of the federal government to force the free states to support slavery; they only cried "state's rights" when the political momentum was against them.

Exactly. They wanted, among other acts, the Federal government to enforce slavery (or, more accurately, the right to bring in slaves) in the new territories under the "popular sovereignty" argument.

The goal of the South was to extend slavery into the new states. Lincoln, recognizing the disaster that this would lead to, wanted to prevent the spread of the peculiar institution and leading, over time, to its end.

The Federal government could not just simply purchase the slaves. The South's agrarian economy was dependent, to a large extent, on this "free" labor. An individual slave could cost $1,000; but purchasing all (or a majority) of them would have devastated the Southern economy.

They just weren't going to sell them. Period.

SMG

Simon said...

Revenant said...
"Unconstitutional acts don't magically become constitutional just because Congress gets away with a similar act. Even if the Louisiana Purchase (a) was permissible under the Constitution (and you haven't offered any argument that it was) and (b) the same type of purchase as the one you're describing here (it wasn't -- it was done via a treaty with a foreign nation) that wouldn't have the effect of amending the Constitution to allow Congress to spend money on anything it feels like."

Well, on a tangent, you've made the argument right there that the Louisiana Purchase was constitutionally sound. It was within the realm of foreign affairs: the President negotiated an agreement with a foreign power and the sweeping clause empowers Congress to appropriate money to honor such agreements ("[t]o make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof" (emphasis added)).

Simon said...

SMGalbraith said...
"The Federal government could not just simply purchase the slaves. The South's agrarian economy was dependent, to a large extent, on this "free" labor."

Not only was its economy based on slave labor, its social structure was to some extent built around the conception of blacks as subhuman. So even if they'd been willing to sell their slaves, that would not be synonymous with emancipation. The 14th and 15th Amendments would still have been necessary even if one argues that the 13th wasn't.

SMGalbraith said...

The 14th and 15th Amendments would still have been necessary even if one argues that the 13th wasn't.

Yes, especially after Dred Scott.

And I cannot begin to believe that the Southern states would have ratified the 14th. Much less the 13th.

So, we would have ended up - assuming the slave purchase was enacted even partially - with hundreds of thousands (millions?) of Africans in a sort of legal twilight zone. Free but with no civil of constitutionally-guaranteed rights.

This is what Lincoln meant when he said the country could not stand half slave and half free.

SMG

Crimso said...

"Was it general consensus pre-war that it would end up costing 600,000 lives and how ever many dollars?"

Absolutely not. The general consensus may have been that it would be costly (wars always are), but when you consider that 2 days of fighting at Shiloh produced more casualties than all of the previous American wars combined (and such bloodshed would be repeated over and over), it's safe to assume that very few people really had a good idea of what they were in store for.

"I've also always sort of wondered if the guys fighting in the Civil War were fighting for (among other things) the end of slavery, doesn't that mean that was what the war was about (even if Lincoln had nefarious motives)."

I think relatively few of them were fighting to end slavery (some soldiers threatened to mutiny when Lincoln issued the EP).

Fred said...

Ann, here's a response to your question on whether supporting Ron Paul is "dangerous". Hopefully it'll help you understand why the man has a cult following and why he is connecting with Americans throughout the political spectrum.

Revenant said...

Well, on a tangent, you've made the argument right there that the Louisiana Purchase was constitutionally sound.

I think that IS the argument that ended up being accepted where the Louisiana purchase was concerned, but in my opinion that is an overly broad reading of the treaty power. But in any case it wouldn't apply to purchasing slaves (unless we sold them to another country via a treaty -- which wouldn't fix the problem anyway).

Beth said...

its social structure was to some extent built around the conception of blacks as subhuman

Simon, you're spot on. And this brings us full circle: this social structure ensured that post-Emancipation we would see the rise of Jim Crow, a system that libertarians insist would have been taken care of by the market, eventually. Some day. At least in most parts of the U.S. and what the heck, where it still would exist, black people could just avoid.

The Louisiana Purchase helped drive the system along here. Pre-Purchase, Louisiana's slave and race laws were a little different from the American states; I'm not saying slavery was "better" here as I cannot imagine a worse life than being a slave on a sugar cane plantation -- but there were more provisions to allow slaves to marry, to purchase their freedom, to do other work for pay on the side, to move about in public, to gather at Congo Square once a week, and so forth. Those practices were anathema to the Americans who flooded New Orleans after the Purchase, and they started changing the way slaves and free people of color alike were treated. Once Emancipation occurred, it was only a matter of time until someone officially tested the limits (Plessy), and the American system of racial superiority was made the law of the land. I see no reason to believe that culture would have changed without similar federal interference.

Beth said...

Fen: My Dearest Isabell...

Ha!

Beth said...

The slavery argument was commonly used to make that distinction.

Revenant answers this best; the Southern slaveholders were quite happy to rely on federal power to make sure escaped slaves remained slaves and could be hunted down and returned. Had abolition not threatened the future of their economic engine, slavery, there'd never have been a war. The slavery argument was used because the South needed slaves. This notion that there was some great idealistic revolt based primarily on the urgent desire to defend "states rights" is simply revisionism.

SMGalbraith said...

this social structure ensured that post-Emancipation we would see the rise of Jim Crow, a system that libertarians insist would have been taken care of by the market, eventually

No, I don't think that's what they claim. At least, as I understand their argument.

Libertarians argue that private discrimination would have ended over time due to the economic inefficiency of the behavior.

Jim Crow segregation was a public policy, a government enforced series of discriminatory laws.

Libertarians opposed the latter - state sanctioned discrimination - but allowed (if you will) the former - privately applied discrimination.

So, a government institution could not forbid blacks from using its facilities but a restaurant could.

SMG

Beth said...

The South's agrarian economy was dependent, to a large extent, on this "free" labor.

Simon's comment on culture is relevant here, too. It wasn't just about economics and labor. The southern culture believed that white were unsuited for some types of labor. I recently was reading an excerpt from a sugar cane plantation owner's diary in which he was arguing that white people, even the lower classes of Irish workers, were unable to bear the dangers and debilitations of the cane fields, and that Africans were uniquely suited to the tasks, and could be replaced more easily if they died from the rigors of the labor.

The slaveholders created an understanding for themselves that justified their practice not just economically but morally. Abolition challenged their system of the world, and yes, it would have crashed their economic structure as well.

Beth said...

I'm sorry to go on so much -- but one more thing. If you ever come to Louisiana, drive down around Thibodaux or in the center around Alexandria and look at the cane fields, or do the same in Mississippi or Arkansas where there are cotton plantations. One thing you'll notice is that the structures on these sites aren't all ossified and kept for historical purposes. I've driven through cane plantations where workers still live in the little shacks that aren't much better than what stood there in slave times. It's not until the mid-1900s that cane production was automated, reducing the need for hand labor. The families of former slaves stayed on after emancipation, and little changed in their lives until the Civil Rights movement.

John Stodder said...

Looks like Tim Russert has done his job.

I had no idea Ron Paul had these views about slavery and the Civil War. I was not about to support him anyway, but to a lot of my more liberal friends, he was the only good candidate on the GOP side of the race. At least, 'til yesterday.

Are all the Russert haters out in force today? Doubtful.

Beth said...

smg: Jim Crow laws included private businesses, and regulated who restaurants could serve, how races had to be separated in theaters and diners and so on, to whom landlords could rent and so on. Jim Crow was not limited to government-owned facilities. I understand that libertarians argue that the private practice of Jim Crow should have been left to the market, while the gov't practice was rightly ended by law, but that ignores how enmeshed the two were. Jim Crow was a caste system, encompassing both public and private establishments, and private, individual behaviors including marriage and reproduction. There would have been no way to pull just one thread out of that tapestry and hope the rest of the thing would fall part on its own.

Blake said...

EngimatiCore,

I'm not trying to justify anything, I was just pointing out a stat of interest. It's also worth noting that alcohol and cigarettes also kill a lot more people than recreational drugs, at least according to the widely reported stats for those drugs.

I figure if you can look at the effects of prohibition and decide that's worth the cost in terms of organized crime and erosion of liberty, then you can. I don't think it's a secret.

And, actually, the prescription drug thing s a red herring, IMO. Iatrogenic deaths may be the #1 cause of death in this country, and drugs are only a part of that. (Drugs don't kill people, doctors do?) Do we outlaw doctors?

And you can't lump all prescription drugs together, either. But that's yet another tangent.

SMGalbraith said...

Jim Crow laws included private businesses, and regulated who restaurants could serve, how races had to be separated in theaters and diners and so on, to whom landlords could rent and so on.

Yes, good correction. My error or sloppiness in discussing private vs. public discrimination.

Under Jim Crow, private businesses - restaurants, theaters - in order to get a license to operate, had to segregate the races. Separate dining facilities, et cetera.

No segregated facilities, no license.

But libertarians would argue that these laws were illegal and that the state had no business telling businesses whom they could or could not serve. If they wanted to serve whites only or blacks only or two-headed people only, it was not the government's business. These are private transactions.

And that the market would correct any discriminatory practices.

But Jim Crow, when applied to state run or operated facilities, would be unconstitutional.

Private institutions can discriminate; public ones cannot.

SMG

dick said...

I found it hard to imagine the Jim Crow laws at all. I was born and raised in central Ohio and we had very little racial prejudice at all there.

In 1961 I was transferred from Fort Knox to Fort Gordon, Ga and we were transported there by bus. In Chattanooga, Tn when we got off the bus there was a rusty water fountain and a hole in the wall sandwich place on the outside of the bus station. This was in Jan and it was cold. When we went to the sandwich place they would not serve us. We were white and this was for coloreds only as was the rusty water fountain. We had to go inside and be waited on by "coloreds" sitting at a table and with the "coloreds" having a white towel over the arm to wipe the tables - and this was in a Greyhound bus station.

While in Georgia a friend and I got on a bus to go to downtown Augusta on a Saturday. The driver made a little old lady get up and move to the back of the bus so we could sit up by the driver. When the bus route ended we were in a totally black neighborhood. The bus driver refused to move the bus until the other bus arrived to take us the rest of the way and then he walked us over and saw to it that we got to ride free. On this new bus again we were put right by the driver and someone had to move. My friend from central Indiana and I just could not believe things like this still went on.

Once you got downtown whites were all waited on before blacks wherever you went. It just seemed such a foreign experience to me that anyone would treat another human that way - and this was in the time of Kennedy and just before the civil rights act was passed. I am surprised that it took so long for the riots to occur!

When I look back on this and then listen to Ron Paul, I have to wonder who his supporters actually are. No one that I would want to be associated with.

Beth said...

smg: But libertarians would argue that these laws were illegal and that the state had no business telling businesses whom they could or could not serve.

Yes, thanks, that's clear. Where I disagree with the libertarians is in believing that such private discrimination can be differentiated from the public, because of the systematic and historic nature of race bigotry. We made the right call on ending private and public Jim Crow.

SMGalbraith said...

I found it hard to imagine the Jim Crow laws at all. I was born and raised in central Ohio and we had very little racial prejudice at all there.

I was born in New Orleans in the early 1960s but my father (Marines) was transferred to the Pentagon during the Civil Rights Era. I then went to school in the north and lived there all of my adult life.

So, even though I'm a southern boy by birth, nearly all of my life has been spent outside of the region.

Anyway, about 10 years ago I moved to Alabama (just outside of Mobile). I distinctly remember right after moving here going into a Burger King to use the restroom. While doing my business (standing), a black elderly man came in and used the stall right next to me (there were only two).

It wasn't, of course, the first time a black man had used the restroom with me.

But it just dawned on me: Only about 35 years ago, the black gentleman would have been forbidden to pee next to me. And because he was in his early 70s or so, my guess is that is what happened to him as a young man.

He couldn't fucking pee next to a white man.

Read that again: Black Americans couldn't pee next to a white American.

It's so ridiculous you have to laugh. I started to laugh but then I actually started to get sick thinking about it.

Disgusting to think, isn't it?

SMG

Fen said...

This notion that there was some great idealistic revolt based primarily on the urgent desire to defend "states rights" is simply revisionism.

http://ngeorgia.com/history/why.html

"Some say simplistically that the Civil War was fought over slavery. Unfortunately, there is no simple reason. The causes of the war were a complex series of events, including slavery, that began long before the first shot was fired.

When South Carolina passed the Ordinance of Nullification in November 1832, refusing to collect the tariff and threatening to withdraw from the Union, Jackson ordered federal troops to Charleston. A secession crisis was averted when Congress revised the Tariff of Abominations in February 1833.

...the political climate changed during this "Nullification Crisis." Designations of States Rightist, Pro-Union, loose or strict constructionalist became more important than Whig or Democrat."

[...]

http://blueandgraytrail.com/features/northerncauses.html

"By 1820, Southerners had long ago given up on maintaining a majority in the House of Representatives. The growth of the industrialized North meant the distribution of seats in the House was in their favor."

Pogo said...

Theorizing on the advisability or feasability of permitting a gradual divestment of slavery via voluntary libertarian principles over against a civil war has some utility in the "What if?" corner of modern history.

But the Civil War happened, and we still deal with the twin legacies of its origin and aftermath.

So such theorizing tends to mark the speaker as unready and unable to be President in modern America. It is at best a fringe discussion, more often made by drunken work colleagues at staff parties, when hair is let down and long-hidden views are spoken, much to the detriment of all. Or by completely sober bloggers.

But not a President. Not in 2008.

Revenant said...

We made the right call on ending private and public Jim Crow.

I think a good argument can be made that the omnipresence of the racist caste system in the South made drastic government intervention necessary -- the cultural momentum needed to be broken. But I don't see any reasonable argument for continuing the state intervention today. A "whites-only" business wouldn't get enough WHITE customers to stay open, these days.

Fen said...

Would you cut off all foreign aid to Israel? PAUL: Absolutely

So no missile shield for Israel [or Japan]? Brilliant.

Fen said...

A "whites-only" business wouldn't get enough WHITE customers to stay open, these days.

Not sure. I did part of my college education in Shreveport. There was a great diner up the street on the corner. I *heard* that when Duke was running for office, they placed "Whites Only" signs in the windows [which I would have shattered had I still been there]. Liberal myth or reality? Maybe Beth can confirm.

Beth said...

Revenant, you propose more than I'm willing to debate today (gotta get started cooking), but as far as "A "whites-only" business wouldn't get enough WHITE customers to stay open, these days," I can only assume you don't travel much in my neck of the woods. There are many, many places in my state, and even my city, where a black person just would know not to enter, and that's not just in the boonies. Twenty years ago, I worked for a few miserable months at a bar just a mile from where I live now, where the black people in the neighborhood wouldn't come in; instead, they'd buy Wild Irish Rose wine from a window in the side of the building. This tradition went back generations and it just never changed. I hope it's not still happening, but it might be. Black musicians played at the bar, and at night, it was integrated with hip young people, students and tourists, of different races. But during the day, when I worked, it reverted to a working class white bar, where old longshoremen from the Irish Channel could come drink cheap beer all day. About 6, their wives would join them, wearing thin, cheap little polyester house-dresses, have a can of beer, then drag the old man home for dinner. Boy, what a depressing memory!

The fact that they had two different businesses, the day crowd and night crowd, tends to support your argument, but that's because this bar is in the city itself and had built up a music business. There are other little bars in New Orleans neighborhoods I know of now where you have to wait for the bartender to buzz you in, and they don't open the door when blacks hit the buzzer.

In any case, I don't have to drive far from the city to find all sorts of tacitly "whites only" businesses, mostly bars, restaurants and specialty shops. There's a reason David Duke makes his home on the northshore, in Covington, La. The rebel-flag bedecked pickup trucks sport stickers declaring "It's Heritage, not Hate!" but they're full of BS.

Beth said...

fen, I can't confirm that particular story, but see my comment above this one for other examples.

Beth said...

oh, Fen, I do know that during the Vietnam War, troops training near Lake Charles were greeted at local businesses with these signs: "No niggers, soldiers or dogs." If they brought that story home with them across the country, it helps explain how the Civil Rights movement won the contest for Americans' hearts.

SMGalbraith said...

I *heard* that when Duke was running for office, they placed "Whites Only" signs in the windows

I assume when he ran for Governor? Senate against Bennett Johnston?

Duke's from (or was) Metairie. That's the district that elected him to the LA State House. It's a suburb of NO and is mostly white, suburban, ~ middle-to-upper middle class.

Beth, I'd say that half of his support over the years was flat out racist. But a good 1/3 to 1/2 was out of disgust at the corruption in Louisiana politics.

To be sure, parts of northern Louisiana are still terrible (it was their votes that helped Landrieu defeat Bobby J).

But a thoroughly racist state would never, it seems to me, elect a Jindal.

Simon said...

SMGalbraith said...
"Libertarians argue that private discrimination would have ended over time due to the economic inefficiency of the behavior."

People are rational actors in the market; they will maximize their resources by seeking the best value for money. But value isn't just a euphemism for lowest price; it's the perception of overall value. That's why rational actors buy Apple computers even though they're not as cheap as PCs in either the long or short run. But as part of their value calculus, people also factor in personal beliefs, as Rev alluded to with his example of a whites only restaurant that tried to operate in this day and age: even if it served the best food in town for the cheapest prices in town, I wouldn't patronize it. That doesn't mean I'm not behaving as a rational actor, it means I assign value to my beliefs and factor that value into economic calculations (even if only on a subconscious level). Likewise, don't be so quick to assume that one who believes in white supremacy would have been so quick to be bought off by the market.

Beth said...
"[I]t helps explain how the Civil Rights movement won the contest for Americans' hearts."

I would think it's because Zinn et al are wrong: Americans are as a society a fundamentally decent, just people.

Simon said...

BTW, I do agree with Rev that the question of what needs to be done now in terms of government action on race is a very different question to what was justifiable mid-century. I think the School Cases were correctly decided (I'd have gone further, as Justice Thomas outlined in his concurrence), and I've also written to suggest that the reverence shown for the ongoing vitality of the voting rights act is misplaced and counterproductive.

Revenant said...

I can only assume you don't travel much in my neck of the woods. There are many, many places in my state, and even my city, where a black person just would know not to enter, and that's not just in the boonies.

I think there's a significant distinction between a place where members of a given race feel uncomfortable going and a place that openly forbids members of a race from patronizing it. Louisiana may be the anus of America, but even there I think people would balk at supporting overtly racist stores.

It may be that various mom-and-pop shops and neighborhood dives would be able to stay afloat by appealing to the Klan demographic. But even if that were true, what of it? So you shop at Walmart instead of Klanmart and pass on eating at McHitler's.

SMGalbraith said...

That doesn't mean I'm not behaving as a rational actor, it means I assign value to my beliefs and factor that value into economic calculations (even if only on a subconscious level).

Veblen pointed this out (in a different direction) with his observation on "conspicuous consumption."

People will purchase extravagant items - even if they're not always the "best buy" - simply to maintain social status.

I can imagine a white racist not wanting to hire an extremely qualified black applicant simply to maintain his social status (as he saw it) among his peers. It hurts his business, his bottom line, his income. But he didn't place profit as his primary goal.

I've never been a fan of economic determinism. Human are much more complex (and stupid) than they're described under such a system.

SMG

rcocean said...

I was much pleased the with President's message. His views of the systematic and progressive efforts of certain people at the North to interfere with and change the domestic institutions of the South are truthfully and faithfully expressed. These people must be aware that their object is both unlawful and foreign to them and to their duty, and that this institution, for which they are irresponsible and non-accountable, can only be changed by them through the agency of a civil and servile war. There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil. It is idle to expatiate on its disadvantages.

I think it is a greater evil to the white than to the colored race. While my feelings are strongly enlisted in behalf of the latter, my sympathies are more deeply engaged for the former. The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically, and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things. How long their servitude may be necessary is known and ordered by a merciful Providence. The doctrines and miracles of our Saviour have required nearly two thousand years to convert but a small portion of the human race, and even among Christian nations what gross errors still exist!

Although the abolitionist must know this, must know that he has neither the right not the power of operating, except by moral means; that to benefit the slave he must not excite angry feelings in the master; that, although he may not approve the mode by which Providence accomplishes its purpose, the results will be the same; and that the reason he gives for interference in matters he has no concern with, holds good for every kind of interference with our neighbor, -still, I fear he will persevere in his evil course.

. . . Is it not strange that the descendants of those Pilgrim Fathers who crossed the Atlantic to preserve their own freedom have always proved the most intolerant of the spiritual liberty of others?

Beth said...

Simon and Revenant,

We'll continue to differ on post-mid century voting rights act and laws that ensure access to most private institutions and businesses (not all -- there are private clubs that are allowed to discriminate on membership). I will continue to prefer that those shops and bars that effectively ban blacks from entering are treated as an underground society, and that we are made uncomfortable by them, and institionally reject them. They'll manage to exist nonetheless, but always in a type of shadow, with an edge of shame attached.

smg -- we could talk for days on end about race and Louisiana (oh, but please consider another metaphor for us!) and never cover all there is to consider. Race is ever present here, and there are demagogues aplenty in every corner and on every side.

Jindal lost against Kathleen Babineaux Blanco in his first run for governor--she had most of the Central and South La. vote wrapped up with her Cajun heritage, and she took the north because she's a conservative Democrat. There probably were people in North La. who rejected him for his race in those two elections, but I don't buy the theory that his ethnicity lost him the race.

I have never voted for Jindal, but(and I hope you take this for granted) not because of his parents being from India. There are plenty of other reasons not to like him. Nonetheless, I'm hoping he'll exceed my expectations as governor.

Simon said...

Beth, I think that's probably true, but we can probably agree on more than a few things. I don't think you'd disagree with my earlier statement that "what needs to be done now in terms of government action on race is a very different question to what was justifiable mid-century" as a premise; even if we'd ultimately come to different answers as to what is needed now, it seems obvious that the challenges vis-a-vis race today are very different to those at mid-century, and to the extent they require state intervention, the tools that are available (and those best adapted to the task) may well be different than those available or appropriate back then. The voting Rights Act is paradigmatic of this, for me: even if you start from the assumption that federal legislation to accomplish the ongoing purposes of VRA is necessary and proper (which I have no quarrel with, by the way), it seems to me that a different range of tools are now available, and the problem presents itself in different ways (it's as likely now to be hispanics in southwestern states as blacks in the old confederacy who are the target of disenfranchisement, including (I have to admit by policies that I support like voter ID). The beef I had with the VRA renewal was the assumption that the verbatim readoption of this forty year old tool was the best way to tackle the problems that the VRA in the abstract is supposed to deal with.

Blake said...

Yeah, McHitler's sucks. You can't "supersize" anything, you have to "eugenicize" it.

John Kindley said...

This thread motivated me to reread what Lysander Spooner had to say about the Civil War in 1867. In part:

"...[T]hese lenders of blood money had, for a long series of years previous to the war, been the willing accomplices of the slave-holders in perverting the government from the purposes of liberty and justice, to the greatest of crimes. They had been such accomplices for a purely pecuniary consideration, to wit, a control of the markets in the South; in other words, the privilege of holding the slave-holders themselves in industrial and commercial subjection to the manufacturers and merchants of the North (who afterwards furnished the money for the war). And these Northern merchants and manufacturers, these lenders of blood-money, were willing to continue to be the accomplices of the slave-holders in the future, for the same pecuniary considerations. But the slave-holders, either doubting the fidelity of their Northern allies, or feeling themselves strong enough to keep their slaves in subjection without Northern assistance, would no longer pay the price which these Northern men demanded. And it was to enforce this price in the future --- that is, to monopolize the Southern markets, to maintain their industrial and commercial control over the South --- that these Northern manufacturers and merchants lent some of the profits of their former monopolies for the war, in order to secure to themselves the same, or greater, monopolies in the future. These --- and not any love of liberty or justice --- were the motives on which the money for the war was lent by the North. In short, the North said to the slave-holders: If you will not pay us our price (give us control of your markets) for our assistance against your slaves, we will secure the same price (keep control of your markets) by helping your slaves against you, and using them as our tools for main- [*55] taining dominion over you; for the control of your markets we will have, whether the tools we use for that purpose be black or white, and be the cost, in blood and money, what it may.

On this principle, and from this motive, and not from any love of liberty, or justice, the money was lent in enormous amounts, and at enormous rates of interest. And it was only by means of these loans that the objects of the war were accomplished.

And now these lenders of blood-money demand their pay; and the government, so called, becomes their tool, their servile, slavish, villanous tool, to extort it from the labor of the enslaved people both of the North and South. It is to be extorted by every form of direct, and indirect, and unequal taxation. Not only the nominal debt and interest --- enormous as the latter was --- are to be paid in full; but these holders of the debt are to be paid still further --- and perhaps doubly, triply, or quadruply paid --- by such tariffs on imports as will enable our home manufacturers to realize enormous prices for their commodities; also by such monopolies in banking as will enable them to keep control of, and thus enslave and plunder, the industry and trade of the great body of the Northern people themselves. In short, the industrial and commercial slavery of the great body of the people, North and South, black and white, is the price which these lenders of blood money demand, and insist upon, and are determined to secure, in return for the money lent for the war...

If their object had really been to abolish slavery, or maintain liberty or justice generally, they had only to say: All, whether white or black, who want the protection of this government, shall have it; and all who do not want it, will be left in peace, so long as they leave us in peace."

Revenant said...

This thread motivated me to reread what Lysander Spooner had to say about the Civil War in 1867. In part:

Give serious thought to reading a book written by somebody else. Maybe even TWO books.