Browsed by
Tag: republican

Rejecting the Purveyors of Pull: The Lessons of “Atlas Shrugged: Part II” – Article by G. Stolyarov II

Rejecting the Purveyors of Pull: The Lessons of “Atlas Shrugged: Part II” – Article by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
October 13, 2012
******************************

Atlas Shrugged: Part II is a worthy successor to last year’s Part I, and I am hopeful for its commercial success so that John Aglialoro and Harmon Kaslow will be able to release a full trilogy and achieve the decades-long dream of bringing the entire story of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged to the movie screen. The film is enjoyable and well-paced, and it highlights important lessons for the discerning viewer. The film’s release in the month preceding the US Presidential elections, however, may give some the wrong impression: that either of the two major parties can offer anything close to a Randian alternative to the status quo. Those viewers who are also thinkers, however, will see that the film’s logical implication is that both of these false “alternatives” – Barack Obama and Mitt Romney – should be rejected decisively.

While the cast has been replaced entirely, I find the acting to have been an improvement over Part I, with the actors portraying their respective characters with more believability and emotional engagement. Samantha Mathis, in the role of Dagny Taggart, showed clearly the distress of a competent woman who is ultimately unable to keep the world from falling apart. Esai Morales aptly portrayed Francisco d’Anconia’s passion for ideas and his charisma. Jason Beghe also performed well as Hank Rearden – the embattled man of integrity struggling to hold on to his business and creations to the last.

The film emphasizes strongly the distinction between earned success – success through merit and creation – and “success” gained by means of pull. The scene in which two trains collide in the Taggart Tunnel is particularly illustrative in this respect. Kip Chalmers, the politician on his way to a pro-nationalization stump speech, attempts to get the train moving through angry phone calls to “the right people,” thinking that all will be well if he just pulls the proper strings. But the laws of reality – of physics, chemistry, and economics – are unyielding to the mere say-so of the powerful, and the mystique of pull collapses on top of the passengers.

As the world falls apart, the film depicts protesters demanding their “fair share,” holding up signs reminiscent of the “Occupy” movement of 2011 – “We are the 99.98%” is a clear allusion. Yet once the draconian Directive 10-289 is implemented, the protests turn in the other direction, away from the freedom-stifling, creativity-crushing regimentation. Perhaps the protesters are not the same people as those who called for their “fair share”  – but the film suggests that the people should be careful about the policies they ask for at the ballot box, lest they be sorely disappointed upon getting them. This caution should apply especially to those who think that Barack Obama’s administration parallels the falling-apart of the world in Atlas Shrugged – and that Mitt Romney’s election would somehow “save” America. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If there is any character in Atlas Shrugged who most resembles Mitt Romney, it is not John Galt. Rather, it is James Taggart – the businessman of pull – the sleek charlatan who will take any position, support any policy, speak any lines in order to advance his influence and power. Patrick Fabian conveyed the essence of James Taggart well – a man who succeeds based on image and not on substance, a man who has a certain polished charisma and an ability to pull the strings of politics – for a while. James Taggart is the essence of the corporatist businessman, a creature who thrives on special political privileges and barriers to entry placed in front of more capable competitors. He can buy elections and political offices – and he can, for a while, delude people by creating a magic pseudo-reality with his words. But words cannot suspend the laws of logic or economics. Ultimately the forces of intellectual and moral decay unleashed by corporatist maneuvering inexorably push the world into a condition that even the purveyors of pull would have preferred to avoid. As Ludwig von Mises pointed out, the consequences of economic interventionism are often undesirable even from the standpoint of those who advocated the interventions in the first place. James Taggart is ultimately pushed into accepting Directive 10-289, though his initial plans were much more modest – mostly, a desire to hang onto leadership in the railroad business despite his obvious lack of qualifications for the position. Mitt Romney, by advocating James Taggart’s exact sort of crony corporatism, may well usher in a similar overarching totalitarianism – not because he supports it now (in the sense that Mitt Romney can be said to support anything), but because totalitarianism will be the logical outcome of his policies.

Because, in some respects, Ayn Rand wrote during a gentler time with respect to civil liberties, and the film endeavors to consistently reflect Rand’s emphasis on economic regimentation, there is little focus on the kinds of draconian civil-liberties violations that Americans face today. The real-world version of Directive 10-289 is not a single innovation-stopping decree, but an agglomeration of routine humiliations and outright exercises of violence. The groping and virtual strip-searching by the Transportation Security Administration, the War on Drugs and its accompanying no-knock raids, the paranoid surveillance apparatus of large-scale wiretaps and data interception, and the looming threat of controls over the Internet and indefinite detention without charge – these perils are as damaging as an overarching economic central plan, and they are with us today. While not even the most socialistic or fascistic politicians today would issue a ban on all new technology or a comprehensive freeze of prices and wages, they certainly can and will try to humiliate and physically threaten millions of completely peaceful, innocent Americans who try to innovate and earn an honest living. Obama’s administration has engaged in this sort of mass demoralization ever since the foiled “underwear” bomb plot during Christmas 2009 – but Romney would do more of the same, and perhaps worse. Unlike Obama, who must contend with the pro-civil-liberties wing of his constituency, Romney’s attempts to violate personal freedoms will only be cheered on by the militaristic, jingoistic, security-obsessed faction that is increasingly coming to control the discourse of the Republican Party. There can be no hope for freedom, or for the dignity of an ordinary traveler, employee, or thinker, if Romney is elected.

I encourage the viewers of the film to seriously consider the question, “Who is John Galt?” He is not a Republican. If any man comes close, it is Gary Johnson, a principled libertarian who has shown in practice (not just in rhetoric) his ability and willingness to cut wasteful interventions, balance budgets, and protect civil liberties during two terms as Governor of New Mexico. He staunchly champions personal freedoms, tax reduction, foreign-policy non-interventionism, and a sound currency free of the Federal Reserve system. Gary Johnson was, in fact, a businessman of the Randian ethos – who started as a door-to-door handyman and grew from scratch an enterprise with revenues of $38 million.  And, on top of it all, he is a triathlete and ultramarathon runner who climbed Mount Everest in 2003 – clearly demonstrating a degree of ambition, drive, and pride in achievement worthy of a hero of Atlas Shrugged.

Ayn Rand never meant the strike in Atlas Shrugged to be an actual recommendation for how to address the world’s problems. Rather, the strike was an illustration of what would happen if the world was deprived of its best and brightest – the creators and innovators who, despite all obstacles, pursue the path of merit and achievement rather than pull and artificial privilege. Today, it is necessary for each of us to work to keep the motor of the world going by not allowing the purveyors of pull to gain any additional ground. Voting for Mitt Romney will do just the opposite – as Atlas Shrugged: Part II artfully suggests to the discerning viewer.

Is it Evil to Vote for a Lesser Evil? Steele’s Response to Stolyarov – Part 1 – Article by Charles N. Steele

Is it Evil to Vote for a Lesser Evil? Steele’s Response to Stolyarov – Part 1 – Article by Charles N. Steele

The New Renaissance Hat
Charles N. Steele
October 2, 2012
******************************

Mr. Stolyarov gives a thoughtful reply to my contention that given a choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, Romney is the lesser of two evils.  I respond, but find I must do so in two parts.  Mr. Stolyarov makes two kinds of arguments in his reply to me; one is a philosophical one on the ethical nature of voting and the second an empirical one about Romney and Ryan.  In this note I address Mr. Stolyarov’s philosophical argument.   I ask many questions here – please note carefully that most of them are not rhetorical.

Mr. Stolyarov’s philosophical argument concerns the moral responsibility one bears in voting: “[E]ven a true incrementally lesser evil is still evil and does not warrant one’s support. One key consideration in casting one’s vote is one’s share of moral responsibility in what would transpire if one’s candidate of choice (even half-hearted choice) gets elected.”

At first glance this seems a reasonable argument – after all, wouldn’t we think that, for example, German citizens who supported Hitler’s regime bore a good share of responsibility for its crimes?  And in general, if people vote for candidate A over candidate B, it’s reasonable to think they bear some responsibility for empowering A’s platform over B’s.  But the more I contemplate it, the less I understand the nature of  this “moral responsibility” voting, for three reasons.

1. When we vote, we vote under conditions of uncertainty about what the candidates will do should they win.  Two reasonable people might differ in their expectations over what opposing candidates might do if elected, even if the candidates are truthful.  And candidates are often less-than-truthful about what they will do if elected; sorting out what is and isn’t true is not necessarily straightforward.  Consider a presidential election between A and B.  If candidate A wins the election and what subsequently transpires is counter to what the voter in good faith expected, what is the voter’s moral responsibility?  Further, we also don’t know and will never know what B would have done.  Does that matter?  Might not a vote for what proved to be A’s bad policies have prevented B’s worse ones?

In many cases these issues are small, but not always.  And certainly in times of major institutional transitions, or economic crises, or other important changes, they are likely to loom large.

2. If one votes for a candidate who wins, does one then share responsibility for everything the candidate does?  When we vote for candidate A, we get the “entire package.”  We can’t limit ourselves to voting for her/his positions on some issues but not others.  Suppose one agrees with candidate A on fiscal policy, but disagrees on foreign policy, and conversely supports B on foreign policy and opposes his fiscal policy.  In order to decide between candidates, our voter must judge which issue is more likely to be of central importance in the next term, as well as which one is more important for the voter’s overall vision of what should be done.  For that matter, the voter might think that B’s fiscal policy is a more serious flaw than A’s foreign policy, but also believes institutional barriers (e.g. Congress) will largely block B’s fiscal policy while nothing would block A from pursuing the bad foreign policy, and hence reasonably vote B.

3. How much difference does one’s vote make, anyway?  The quote from Mr. Stolyarov suggests that if candidate A wins, a person who voted for him shares some responsibility for what transpires.  But suppose A wins with a very large margin of the vote.  In that case, there’s nothing the voter could have done to stop what transpires.  What is her/his responsibility then?  Conversely, suppose instead A loses, so nothing transpires from the vote and presumably no moral responsibility attaches to the voter.  How does anything differ in these two cases, with respect to the voter’s culpability?  I can’t see that the voter has behaved differently in the two cases; shouldn’t moral responsibility be the same?  Perhaps not, but the why not?  And how would the responsibility differ in either case had the voter instead stayed home and not cast a ballot?

Similarly, in every presidential election in which I’ve voted, I voted in Montana.  In none of these was the vote close enough for mine to have mattered, but that’s irrelevant.  Montana’s three electoral votes simply do not matter for the national outcome, so no matter what happened, my vote had no connection at all to what subsequently transpired.  Does this mean that I’m exempt of all moral responsibility when I vote in a presidential election?  Why or why not?

These three points involve “disconnects” betweens one’s vote, the outcome of an election, and what subsequently transpires.  It strikes me that these disconnects weaken the moral responsibility a voter holds.

Mr. Stolyarov does address some of my concerns (particularly those of point 2) when he observes “It may therefore be justified to vote for an imperfect candidate who could do some incremental good, but not for a candidate who would commit incremental evil – in the sense of reducing liberty compared to the situation that existed prior to his election.”

It’s clear, then, that Mr. Stolyarov is not committing the Nirvana fallacy.  But I still find his point quite problematic.  It is not always obvious what constitutes “incremental good/evil” on net, or how we identify an overall reduction in liberty.  Let’s simplify this case by assuming there’s only one voter and no uncertainty about what candidates will do if elected, so that there are no disconnects between the vote cast and the political consequences.  Again, the voter faces a choice among presidential candidates, but now her/his vote determines the election and s/he knows exactly what political consequences will transpire.

If A’s positions on issues X and Y reduce liberty, and his position on issue Z increases it, how is the voter to weight A’s net effect on liberty?  (Assume for sake of argument there are no other issues.)  Is A automatically disqualified because of his position on X and Y?  Or could his position on Z conceivably be sufficiently beneficial for liberty to outweigh the harm done on the first two?  I would think so, and I suspect Mr. Stolyarov agrees.  (Again, I should note that in some cases any reasonable person should be able to weigh these relative harms and benefits and get the same answer.  But in some real world cases reasonable persons might strongly differ.)

But also, doesn’t it matter against whom A is running?  If candidate B is worse, much worse, on all three issues, should not the voter choose A over B, regardless of whether the net outcome from A is positive?  (I would think so.) Alternatively suppose instead candidate B drops out of the race to be replaced by C, and C is superior on all three issues.  Shouldn’t that lead our voter to reverse himself and support C?

This seems quite sensible to me, but Mr. Stolyarov seemed to rule it out:  “There is no doubt in my mind that Mitt Romney would commit numerous incremental evils – and there is no justification for supporting him in any way, even if his transgressions could be predicted with certainty to be less severe than Obama’s.”  It should by now be clear why I find this position problematic.

On this point, Mr. Stolyarov agrees with my earlier assertion “real progress in expanding liberty will come from economic, technological and social processes, NOT from electoral processes. If elections and political processes do anything in this regard, it will be simply to respond to and formalize advances made by civil society.”  But he then concludes: “But if this is the case, then there is no point supporting anything other than the very best available option in any election.”

I can’t see how that follows.  In our one voter example, suppose candidate A will take the nation slowly towards a totalitarian state, and B will take it very rapidly.  Would it not be preferable to choose A over B, to buy time for countervailing processes to act?

All of these examples suggest – at least to me – that a voter might reasonably and morally vote for a candidate who will minimize damage to liberty, even if the voter has only reasonable expectation of this.

Mr. Stolyarov does have another point worth noting in this matter.  He suggests we vote for the best candidate, even a third party candidate who has no chance of winning: “[A] single person can send a message by refusing to play along with the two-party system. If enough of us begin to think this way, then the libertarian voters will become a force to reckon with, a credible threat to the two main parties that unsatisfactory candidates will be disfavored no matter what. As an added bonus, if enough people in general begin to vote based purely on their conscience, then the whole ‘lesser of two evils’ trap would disappear, the two major parties would need to rapidly evolve or would disintegrate, and government could become truly representative.”

Maybe so.  I certainly hope so.  But note that this is a strategic argument and quite different from the argument about a voter’s moral responsibility.  I find the moral argument to be unhelpful in this discussion.

In part 2 of my response I will try to make the case that Mitt Romney is indeed the lesser of two evils when compared to Barack Obama.

Dr. Charles N. Steele is the Herman and Suzanne Dettwiler Chair in Economics and Associate Professor at Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan. His research interests include economics of transition and institutional change, economics of uncertainty, and health economics.  He received his Ph.D. from New York University in 1997, and has subsequently taught economics at the graduate and undergraduate levels in China, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and the United States.  He has also worked as a private consultant in insurance design and review.

Dr. Steele also maintains a blog, Unforeseen Contingencies.

A Republic, Not a Democracy – Article by Ron Paul

A Republic, Not a Democracy – Article by Ron Paul

The New Renaissance Hat
Ron Paul
September 23, 2012
******************************

Early September 2012 marked the conclusion of the grand taxpayer-funded spectacles known as the national party conventions.  It is perhaps very telling that while $18 million in tax dollars was granted to each party for these lavish ordeals, an additional $50 million each was needed for security in anticipation of the inevitable protests at each event.  This amounts to a total of $136 million in taxpayer funds for strictly partisan activities – a drop in the bucket relative to our disastrous fiscal situation, but disgraceful nonetheless.  Parties should fund their own parties, not the taxpayer.

At these conventions, leaders determined, or pretended to determine, who they wished to govern the nation for the next four years amidst inevitable, endless exaltations of democracy.  Yet we are not a democracy.  In fact, the founding fathers found the concept of democracy very dangerous.

Democracy is majority rule at the expense of the minority.  Our system has certain democratic elements, but the founders never mentioned democracy in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, or the Declaration of Independence.  In fact, our most important protections are decidedly undemocratic.  For example, the First Amendment protects free speech.  It doesn’t – or shouldn’t – matter if that speech is abhorrent to 51% or even 99% of the people.  Speech is not subject to majority approval.  Under our republican form of government, the individual, the smallest of minorities, is protected from the mob.

Sadly, the constitution and its protections are respected less and less as we have quietly allowed our constitutional republic to devolve into a militarist, corporatist social democracy.  Laws are broken, quietly changed and ignored when inconvenient to those in power, while others in positions to check and balance do nothing.  The protections the founders put in place are more and more just an illusion.

This is why increasing importance is placed on the beliefs and views of the president.  The very narrow limitations on government power are clearly laid out in Article, 1 Section 8, of the Constitution.  Nowhere is there any reference to being able to force Americans to buy health insurance or face a tax/penalty, for example.  Yet this power has been claimed by the executive and astonishingly affirmed by Congress and the Supreme Court.  Because we are a constitutional republic, the mere popularity of a policy should not matter.  If it is in clear violation of the limits of government and the people still want it, a Constitutional amendment is the only appropriate way to proceed.  However, rather than going through this arduous process, the Constitution was in effect, ignored and the insurance mandate was allowed anyway.

This demonstrates how there is now a great deal of unhindered flexibility in the Oval Office to impose personal views and preferences on the country, so long as 51% of the people can be convinced to vote a certain way.  The other 49% on the other hand have much to be angry about and protest under this system.

We should not tolerate the fact that we have become a nation ruled by men, their whims and the mood of the day, and not laws.  It cannot be emphasized enough that we are a republic, not a democracy and, as such, we should insist that the framework of the Constitution be respected and boundaries set by law are not crossed by our leaders.  These legal limitations on government assure that other men do not impose their will over the individual, rather, the individual is able to govern himself.   When government is restrained, liberty thrives.

Representative Ron Paul (R – TX), MD, was a three-time Republican candidate for U. S. President. See his Congressional webpage and his official campaign website

This article has been released by Dr. Paul into the public domain and may be republished by anyone in any manner.

Rand Paul’s Endorsement of Romney versus Ayn Rand’s and Murray Rothbard’s Historical Grudging Endorsements – Post by G. Stolyarov II

Rand Paul’s Endorsement of Romney versus Ayn Rand’s and Murray Rothbard’s Historical Grudging Endorsements – Post by G. Stolyarov II

The New Renaissance Hat
G. Stolyarov II
September 2, 2012
******************************

A September 1 post on the Facebook page of The Capitalism Institute reads: “I fully understand the hatred of Romney by libertarians who believe he’s a liberal in sheep’s clothing. That’s perfectly understandable. What I don’t understand is the notion that Rand Paul has somehow become an enemy of the liberty movement in the eyes of many because he endorsed Romney. Murray Rothbard once endorsed George Bush, Sr. Ayn Rand once endorsed Nixon.”

Yet I see Rand Paul’s endorsement of Mitt Romney as qualitatively different from the endorsements by either Ayn Rand or Murray Rothbard in previous election cycles. I think Ayn Rand unfortunately fell into the “lesser of two evils” trap when endorsing Nixon.

In particular, the following statement of Ayn Rand’s (quoted from this article by ARI Watch) is interesting: “If there were some campaign organization called ‘Anti-Nixonites for Nixon,’ it would name my position. The worst thing said about Nixon is that he cannot be trusted, which is true: he cannot be trusted to save this country. But one thing is certain: McGovern can destroy it.

Rothbard’s endorsement of Bush, Sr., was also grudging. Rothbard wrote this: “Yes, gulp, I’m down to the grim, realistic choice: Which of two sets of bozos is going to rule us in 1993-1997? No one has been more critical of George Bush than I, but yes, dammit, I am working my way back to the President.

If Rand Paul had explicitly stated that he was an “Anti-Romneyite for Romney” or stated that no one has been more critical of Romney than he – then I would have had more respect for his approach to this matter. At present, though, his comments after his endorsement of Romney have not at all highlighted Romney’s weaknesses or areas where Romney and Rand Paul disagreed. If Rand Paul had merely endorsed Romney to support “the lesser evil” in his mind, then I would still not share his opinion, but his mistake would be understandable. His actual endorsement of Romney, however, was not so grudging or reserved. Furthermore, he may have seen some (as of yet unrealized) personal political advantage from it, whereas neither Ayn Rand nor Rothbard had any personal political ambitions.

Additionally, since 1972 and even 1992, the two major political parties have come far closer together, to the point where Obama and Romney are virtually indistinguishable in their policy stances, even though they try to augment minutiae through volatile (and often outright deceptive) campaign rhetoric. Therefore, the contrasts that Ayn Rand drew between Nixon and McGovern – and those that Rothbard drew between Bush, Sr., and Clinton – cannot be drawn between Romney and Obama.  Voting for either party can no longer help “save” the country from the other (if it ever could, which I also doubt), because the same perils would befall us either way.

Republican National Travesty – and What to Do Next – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Republican National Travesty – and What to Do Next – Video by G. Stolyarov II

The Republican National Convention was a farce, in spite of courageous actions by Ron Paul’s supporters, including the Nevada delegation which Mr. Stolyarov helped elect as a State Delegate.

The change of rules by the Republican National Committee turns the Republican Party into a rigid oligarchy, with no chance for grassroots activists and ideas rising to prominence.

Mr. Stolyarov expresses his thoughts about where friends of liberty should focus next. Breaking the two-party system and supporting Gary Johnson for President, while also working outside the political system to improve individual freedom through technology.

References

Gary Johnson 2012
– “RINOs Boehner & Sununu Booed As They Change The Rules In A Major Power Grab” – Video – August 28, 2012
– “Evidence Shows RNC Rigged Vote on Rule Change at Republican Convention 2012?” – Texas GOP Vote
– “Call Off the Global Drug War” – Jimmy Carter – June 16, 2012
– “A Cruel and Unusual Record” – Jimmy Carter – June 24, 2012

Cleveland Passed the Test of Character and Statesmanship – Article by Lawrence W. Reed

Cleveland Passed the Test of Character and Statesmanship – Article by Lawrence W. Reed

The New Renaissance Hat
Lawrence W. Reed
July 31, 2012
******************************

As usual, this year’s presidential campaign will test the popularity of two men. It will also tell us a lot about each man’s character, even if we think we already know all there is to know about them both. At this writing, some pundits are predicting a photo finish, maybe even a repeat of the 2000 Bush-Gore cliffhanger. Whatever the next few months produce, every presidential contest gets me pining for my personal favorite of the 44 men who have held the office—Grover Cleveland, America’s 22nd and 24th president.

Until 2000, the last time a close election produced a split decision in the popular vote and the Electoral College was 1888. Cleveland, the incumbent Democratic president, had been through a close one once before. In 1884 he won New York by just 1,200 votes—and with it, the presidency—but a switch of 601 votes in that one state alone would have swung the election to Republican James G. Blaine. Four years later Cleveland bested Benjamin Harrison by about 100,000 votes out of 11 million cast nationwide but he lost in the Electoral College 233–168. Because the contest was tight in a number of states, a slight shift in the popular vote plurality would have easily won it all for Cleveland.

Alyn Brodsky, in a biography entitled Grover Cleveland: A Study in Character, records that when reporters asked to what he ascribed his defeat, Cleveland smiled and said, “It was mainly because the other party had the most votes.” He did not equivocate. He did not whine and fret that he won more popular votes than Harrison. The “votes” to which he referred were the ones that really matter under the rules of the Constitution—Electoral College votes.

Cleveland handled his defeat with dignity. No recounts, no lawsuits, no spin, no acrimony. His grace in defeat was all the more remarkable considering that the loss meant he had to relinquish power he already possessed, not merely accept failure to attain it. He would not tolerate his political allies making an issue of the discrepancy between the popular and Electoral tallies. There was nary a hint of a “constitutional crisis” because the Constitution was Cleveland’s “controlling legal authority.” Cleveland retired to private life until he ran again in 1892, when he beat Harrison decisively, becoming the only American president to serve two nonconsecutive terms.

One reason the American people accepted the 1888 outcome in stride was that the federal government of that era just didn’t matter like the one of today does. Cleveland famously vetoed a bill to send federal money to drought-stricken farmers in Texas with the admonition, “Though the people support the government, it is not the duty of the government to support the people.”

In Cleveland’s day chronic budget surpluses at the federal level of government animated many a political contest, in stark contrast to the massive and endless deficits of today. While some people thought a surplus should be spent, Cleveland thought it was evidence that taxes were too high: “When more of the people’s sustenance is exacted through the form of taxation than is necessary to meet the just obligations of government, such exaction becomes ruthless extortion and a violation of the fundamental principles of a free government.”

Adjusted for inflation, the Obama administration spends more in one day than the first Cleveland administration spent in an entire year. Washington claims more than a quarter of national income now; in 1888, it managed to get by on about 3 percent. The two sides that will slug it out in the fall know that control of a gargantuan apparatus of money and power is at stake, and the temptations to pull out all the stops to win will be immense.

Even more emphatically, it was the character of Grover Cleveland that made the 1888 outcome a virtual nonevent. In so many ways he was a political oddity even for the Victorian times in which he served. Time and again he refused to do the politically expedient. For example, as a mayor, governor, and president, he rejected the spoils of victory and appointed the best people he could find—often earning the wrath of friends and party bigwigs because they didn’t get the nod. As biographer Brodsky puts it, “Here, indeed, was that rarest of political animals: one who believed his ultimate allegiance was to the nation, not to the party.”

Cleveland never lusted for public office. A prominent New York newspaper endorsed Cleveland for president in 1884 by declaring “three reasons” for voting for him: “1. He is an honest man. 2. He is an honest man. 3. He is an honest man.” He was, by all accounts, as utterly incorruptible when he left office as he was when he first assumed it. “Public office is a public trust” was an original Cleveland maxim.

Cleveland didn’t schmooze and slither his way through smoky backrooms to political power; nor did he exercise power as if he loved it for its own sake. He did the public’s business honestly and frugally and otherwise left us alone. It would not have occurred to him to so covet power as to fear private life. Trashing either the system or a good man’s character to obtain or hold on to public office was, to Grover Cleveland, unthinkable.

Every statesman is also a politician but not every politician is a statesman. Cleveland was so quintessentially statesmanlike that it hardly seems appropriate to note that he was also a politician. He certainly didn’t seek office for the thrill of it or for the power and notoriety it brings. Politics was not the meat grinder of principles for Cleveland that it is for so many others.

The Statesman

What qualities define a statesman? He or she doesn’t seek public office for personal gain or because it’s the only job he or she knows how to do. Like ancient Rome’s Cincinnatus or America’s own George Washington, the statesman takes time out from a life of accomplishment to serve the general welfare. He stands for a principled vision, not for what he thinks citizens will fall for. He is well informed about the vicissitudes of human nature, the lessons of history, the role of ideas, and the economics of the marketplace.

The statesman is a truth-seeker, which means he is more likely to do what’s right than what may be politically popular at the moment. You know where he stands because he says what he means and means what he says. He elevates public discussion because he knows what he’s talking about. He does not engage in class warfare or in other divisive or partisan tactics that pull people apart. He does not cynically buy votes with the money his taxes take from others. He may even judge his success in office as much by how many laws he repealed or vetoed as by how many he passed. (Cleveland vetoed more bills than all his predecessors combined.)

Grover Cleveland is my model candidate and model president. I’m betting that this fall’s campaign will only make me miss him all the more.

Lawrence Reed is the president of the Foundation for Economic Education.

This article was published by The Foundation for Economic Education and may be freely distributed, subject to a Creative Commons Attribution United States License, which requires that credit be given to the author.

Rand Paul’s Betrayal of the Principles of Liberty – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Rand Paul’s Betrayal of the Principles of Liberty – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Rand Paul’s endorsement of Mitt Romney on June 7, 2012, shows him to be more of a pragmatic politician than a principled friend of liberty. Mr. Stolyarov, a long-time supporter of Ron Paul and a Ron Paul delegate in Nevada, expresses his disappointment as well as his thoughts as to where friends of liberty should go from here.

Mr. Stolyarov endorses Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, for President in 2012, and also outlines three areas in which freedom has a better chance to make progress in the near term, as compared to political activism. These areas are (1) progress in personally empowering technology, (2) voluntary innovations for achieving liberty, such as the seasteading movement, and (3) improvements in health care and longevity.

References:
Rand Paul’s endorsement of Mitt Romney
– “Penny Freeman, former staffer in tears over Ron Paul betrayals” – Interview with Penny Freeman by Adam Kokesh – June 8, 2012
– “Ron Paul campaign concedes: the rEVOLution endures” – Eric Field – The Examiner – June 8, 2012
– “Ron Paul Delegate’s Account of 2012 Nevada State Republican Convention” – Video by G. Stolyarov II – May 6, 2012
Gary Johnson’s Campaign Website
– “Gary Johnson: Be Libertarian With Me

An Open Letter to John R. Phillippe, RNC Counsel, Regarding the Nevada State Republican Convention

An Open Letter to John R. Phillippe, RNC Counsel, Regarding the Nevada State Republican Convention

May 3, 2012

Mr. John R. Phillippe Jr.
Chief Counsel
Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington, D.C. 20003

SENT VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL TO jphillippe@rnchq.org

Dear Mr. Phillippe:

I am writing to you to address the erroneous interpretation of the Nevada Delegate Binding Rules for 2012, which you expressed in your May 2, 2012, letter to Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald. Your interpretation of these rules manufactures a meaning that is not present in the rules’ plain text. I emphatically urge you to recall your letter and to issue a formal apology on behalf of the Republican National Committee for your advocacy of a course of action that would clearly contravene the rules that have been developed in a fair process, as well as the outcome at the State Convention that would result from the legitimate decisions of duly elected delegates.  Please note that the present communication is an open letter and will be available on the Internet to a broader audience.

Your letter suggests that the delegates that are allocated in proportion to the final results of the February 4, 2012, Nevada Presidential Preference Poll must “actually support” the candidate for whom they would be pledged to vote on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention. You go beyond this to suggest that a delegate pledged to a particular candidate must be “approved by an authorized representative of the candidate he or she professes to support” and that, if this does not turn out to be the case, “grounds for a contest may exist.” Your letter continues in stating that you “believe it is highly likely that any committee with jurisdiction over the matter would find improper any change to the election, selection, allocation, or binding of delegates, thus jeopardizing the seating of Nevada’s entire delegation to the National Convention.” In short, you explicitly state that the Republican National Committee would consider overturning the results of a procedurally fair delegate election at the Nevada State Republican Convention, if the election does not produce the hoped-for outcome of a majority slate of Romney supporters. This is unacceptable and entirely contrary to a system that is supposed to produce a representative government in accordance with general rules developed in a fair process and agreed upon in advance.

Before I demonstrate the specific errors of your position, allow me to be forthright regarding my motivations. I am a duly elected delegate to the Nevada State Republican Convention. Furthermore, I write this letter while having no ambition to be nominated as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Tampa. I do, however, intend to attend the State Convention and cast my votes for the prospective national delegates whom I consider to be the most worthy and principled among the options available. Since I will not personally become a national delegate, I do not have any ulterior motives in this communication. I only desire fair adherence to the legitimate delegate-selection process.

I proudly acknowledge that I am a supporter of Ron Paul and a person committed to procedural fairness and adherence to the rules as actually written. Following a set of rules agreed upon in advance through an equitable procedure is key to a system that avoids arbitrary decision-making and arbitrary power concentrated in the hands of a connected oligarchy. To be non-arbitrary, a process must be adhered to, irrespective of the particular outcome it generates. To only adhere to a process when it generates one’s favored or expected outcome is to turn the process into a mere veneer for a particular agenda.

I think I can speak for other supporters of Ron Paul when I say that there is no intention among any who wish to become delegates to the National Convention to do so in a manner that violates the rules of the Nevada State Republican Convention. Any insinuation that anything other than complete fair play may be the intent of a sizable portion of the delegates to the State Republican Convention is deeply offensive to these men and women of conviction and integrity – who have followed all of the rules of the process up to now and do not intend to suddenly stray from that course.

It is instructive to examine what the actual rules – rather than your deeply erroneous interpretation thereof – state. In your letter, you cite Sections 1, 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4 of the Delegate Binding Rules for 2012, without actually reproducing the text of these sections. A detailed analysis of the text will show that it is incompatible with your viewpoint.

Section 1 Text: Pursuant to § 15(b) of the Rules of the National Republican Committee, in Presidential election years, National Delegates and Alternates shall be allocated proportionally based  on the final results of the Nevada Presidential Preference Poll, rounded to the nearest  whole number. National delegates shall be chosen at the Nevada Republican Convention by election. Any candidate who receives less than the percentage required for one Delegate will receive no Delegates.

Comments: This section only discusses how and in what proportions National Delegates and Alternates shall be allocated to a candidate, not whether such Delegates and Alternates must “actually support” the candidate to whom they were allocated. Nothing in the language of this section would suggest that a test of a Delegate’s thoughts or beliefs would be required as a precondition for a Delegate’s selection or allocation to a particular candidate. There is already a rigorous test for selecting a National Delegate. It is voting by the other delegates at the State Convention.

Section 4.2 Text:The NRP Secretary shall allocate National Delegates to the candidate of their choice by first allocating the three automatic delegates (Nevada Republican Party Chair, National Committeeman and National Committeewoman) to their preferred candidate.

Comments: The interpretation of this section should not be controversial. There are to be three automatic delegates, who will each be allocated to the candidate of his or her choice. Please note that there is also no test stated in the section regarding what must be done to verify that a particular candidate is these delegates’ “preferred candidate.” Your interpretation states that “The three RNC members, who are automatic delegates, should each be allocated and bound to their preferred presidential candidate.” I would like to clarify that the words “bound to” only apply to the first round of voting at the Republican National Convention. There is no requirement in any set of rules for any National Delegate to be bound to any candidate on a subsequent round of voting. This distinction is critical.

Section 4.3 Text: The NRP Secretary will next allocate the three prospective delegates from each congressional district receiving the highest number of votes to their preferred candidate to comply with RNC Rule 13 (a) (3).

RNC Rule 13(a)(3) Text (pp. 14-15 of the linked document): “Subject to the provisions of Rule No. 16, the membership of the next national convention shall consist of:

(a) Delegates. […]

(3) Three (3) district delegates for each Representative in the United States House of Representatives from each state.”

Comments: Section 4.3 and RNC Rule 13(a)(3) say nothing about delegates being subjected to a loyalty test for a particular candidate. They simply state that three delegates shall be allocated for each district in such a manner that there would be three delegates for every Representative in the US House of Representatives.

Furthermore, the text of Section 4.3 states that “The NRP Secretary will next allocate the three prospective delegates from each congressional district receiving the highest number of votes to their preferred candidate” [Emphasis added]. Note that this applies to delegates “receiving the highest number of votes” in an absolute sense – not “receiving the highest number of votes among the delegates who support a particular candidate”.

To repeat: It is clear from the text that the delegates that must be allocated are those delegates that receive the highest number of votes in total, not the highest number of votes among those who support a particular candidate.

For instance, suppose delegates who support Mitt Romney were to receive the 2nd, 4th, and 5th-highest vote totals, while delegates who support Ron Paul were to receive the 1st, 3rd, and 6th-highest vote totals for a particular Congressional District. Furthermore, suppose that the allocation of delegates were required to be such that two delegates would be bound to vote for Romney, and one delegate would be bound to vote for Paul at the first ballot of the National Convention. It is clear that the highest total vote-getters would need to be selected as National Delegates – i.e., the 1st and 3rd-place finishers who support Ron Paul and the 2nd-place finisher who supports Mitt Romney. The 1st-place finisher would have the choice to be allocated to Ron Paul, the 2nd-place finisher would presumably choose to be allocated to Mitt Romney, while the 3rd-place finisher would be bound to vote for Mitt Romney in the first ballot of the National Convention, despite his or her support for Ron Paul. It would emphatically not be the case that the NRP Secretary would be permitted to bypass the duly elected 3rd-place finisher, simply because of that finisher’s sympathies for Ron Paul, and select the 4th-place finisher who is sympathetic to Romney to attend the National Convention as a Delegate.

Your letter is thoroughly mistaken in stating that “A nomination to fill a Congressional district delegate slot shall only be in order if the person’s preferred candidate has available delegate slots to fill. The preferred means to ensure that no presidential candidate receives more than his allocated slots is to conduct the congressional district delegate selections sequentially, and if a candidate has reached his allocation, no further nominations for delegate candidates who support said presidential candidate shall be in order.”

Your statement is contrary on its face to the plain text of Section 4.3 and would have the effect of disenfranchising the delegates at the State Convention in casting ballots for the National Delegates of their choice. The application of your interpretation would have the effect of ignoring delegates who obtain higher absolute vote counts, in favor of some who obtain lower absolute vote counts, simply on account of the ideological positions expressed by such delegates. This ideological particularism is contrary to the principles procedural fairness which underlie any meaningful electoral system and which are essential to the American system of representative government.

Section 4.4 Text: The Secretary will then allocate the remaining delegates for each candidate, beginning with the prospective national delegate for a given candidate receiving the most votes, followed by the prospective national delegate for said candidate receiving the second highest number of votes and continuing in descending order of votes received until the number of delegates and alternates earned by each candidate in the Presidential Preference Poll has been allocated. The delegate slots for each candidate will be filled by the prospective national delegates receiving the highest number of votes, and the alternate slots will be filled by the prospective delegates receiving the next highest number of votes after the delegate slots are filled.”

Comments: Section 4.4 addresses the allocation of National Delegates, other than the automatic delegates and the delegates for each Congressional District. The text clearly states that “The delegate slots for each candidate will be filled by the prospective national delegates receiving the highest number of votes, and the alternate slots will be filled by the prospective delegates receiving the next highest number of votes after the delegate slots are filled.” This again refers to the highest number of total votes cast, not the highest number of votes cast for delegates who personally support a particular candidate. There is again no mention of any kind of loyalty test in order to become a “national delegate for a given candidate”. Rather, this section would allow delegates who receive the highest number of votes to have the first preference regarding which candidate they will be allocated to. If the Ron Paul delegate slots are exhausted by many of the highest vote-getters, then the next-highest vote-getters would need to agree to be bound to vote for Mitt Romney on the first ballot of the National Convention, irrespective of their personal views regarding the candidates. The personal views of these vote-getters should not determine their eligibility if they have been duly elected by the delegates at the State Convention.

Your interpretation is thoroughly in error in stating that “At-large (statewide) prospective delegates should be elected by determining how many delegate slots each presidential candidate has available after processes 1 and 2 above have been completed, and allocating to each available slot the highest vote-receiving prospective delegate that supports the candidate with an available slot. So, for example, if Ron Paul has 2 slots available after processes 1 and 2 above, the two highest vote-getters that support Ron Paul should be allocated to him. And if Mitt Romney has 4 slots available after processes 1 and 2 above have been completed, the 4 highest vote-getters that support Mitt Romney should be allocated to him.”

Your statement above is directly contrary to Section 4.4, which clearly requires that the delegates allocated to all candidates be the absolute highest vote-getters. Contrary to your example, if Ron Paul has 2 slots available after the automatic and District delegates have been selected, and Mitt Romney has 4 slots available, then the top six absolute vote-getters must become the National Delegates, such that two of them are bound to vote for Ron Paul in the first ballot of the National Convention, while the remaining four are bound to vote for Mitt Romney in the first ballot. The highest absolute vote-getter would have the option to select to be bound to either Paul or Romney – and then a similar option would be offered to the second-highest vote-getter. Once any two of the highest six vote-getters have selected to be bound to Paul, the delegates in the remaining slots among the top six vote-getters would be automatically bound to Romney on the first ballot.

Section 5 Text: All National Delegates and Alternates, ex officio, At Large and Congressional District, shall be required to vote for the Presidential Candidate to whom they are bound. This requirement applies only to the first candidate vote at the Republican National Convention.

Comments: While your letter inexplicably omits mention of Section 5, this section is indispensable to understanding the context of the other provisions cited above. If the requirement of voting for a particular candidate only applies to the first vote at the Republican National Convention, then a loyalty test for that candidate cannot make sense and cannot be countenanced. The rules explicitly permit the delegates to vote their consciences after the first round of the National Convention, if subsequent rounds are necessary. Requiring a loyalty test would effectively bind the delegates on the subsequent rounds, contrary to the letter and intent of Section 5. The duty to vote for a candidate on the first round must not extend to the duty to think a certain way or to an inexhaustible claim on the delegates’ future decisions, actions, and beliefs.

Conclusion

I again urge you to acquiesce to the principles of objectivity, fairness, and a literal reading of the rules – and, accordingly, to withdraw your letter of May 2, 2012, and to publicly apologize on behalf of the Republican National Committee for urging and lending an official air to the clear contravention of a fair process and of rules developed pursuant to such a process. If you do not withdraw your letter, then it will be legitimate to perceive your and the RNC’s actions as an attempt to interfere with a neutral and impartial process, simply because the outcome of that process may not be to the liking of the Mitt Romney campaign. To only respect the rules when they are in one’s favor is deeply contrary to every principle on which the American system of representative government stands. Such a double-standard would nullify the will of duly elected delegates and replace it with the imposed preferences of a self-appointed oligarchy of kingmakers. I hope that you will find the strength of conviction to step back from this dangerous precipice.

Sincerely,

Gennady Stolyarov II, CPCU, ARe, ARC, AIS, AIE

Editor-in-Chief, The Rational Argumentator

Deceptive Anti-Ron Paul Robocall in Nevada

Deceptive Anti-Ron Paul Robocall in Nevada

On May 2, 2012, Nevada Republican State Convention delegates received this robocall from the following anonymous number: (800) 525-4610

Please LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video if you detest the misinformation spread about Ron Paul by anonymous robocallers.

MESSAGE TRANSCRIPT

“…message. The state Republican convention this weekend is up in Sparks. Ron Paul supporters are trying to steal all the national delegates and overturn the results from the caucus in February. This is wrong. We do not need Ron Paul campaign staffers from DC telling us who our national delegates are going to be. It’s up to you to be in Sparks this weekend at the Nugget to stop this nonsense. Let’s stand together and stop Ron Paul’s political operatives from taking our choice away. Thank you, and remember to attend the convention in Sparks this weekend. I will see you there. Good night.”

“Taking our choice away”? Ron Paul is the only reason we still have a real choice in the race for the Republican nomination!

Ron Paul’s Wins in Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, and Elsewhere – Video by G. Stolyarov II

Ron Paul’s Wins in Minnesota, Colorado, Iowa, and Elsewhere – Video by G. Stolyarov II

“When will Ron Paul win a state?” ask the mainstream media. Well, now he has a clear majority of delegates in Minnesota, and the Paul-Santorum unity slate in Colorado has also attained a majority. In Iowa, the state GOP has been transformed by the entry of Ron Paul supporters into the highest positions. Other caucus states, including Nevada, are due to have their own conventions.

Mr. Stolyarov points out that there is no longer *any* way in which the mainstream media could claim to accurately reflect the truth about this Republican primary season.

Remember to LIKE, FAVORITE, and SHARE this video in order to spread rational discourse on this issue.

References
– “Ron Paul Wins in Iowa and Minnesota, Romney in a Panic” – Doug Wead – April 23, 2012
– “I Think Ron Paul Just Won Iowa!” – Rachel Maddow – April 23, 2012
– “Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders” (the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on strip searches) – Wikipedia
– “CISPA is the New SOPA” – Article by Ron Paul – April 24, 2012
– “A Barrage of Assaults on Internet Freedom” – Article by G. Stolyarov II – April 11, 2012
– “A Barrage of Assaults on Internet Freedom” – Video by G. Stolyarov II – April 13, 2012