I am largely apolitical. I have certain strongly held beliefs, but I am disenchanted with the American two-party political system. It doesn’t represent me. I find the Democrats as absurd as the Republicans, just in different ways. (And don’t get me started about talk show hosts. I listened to Rush Limbaugh a couple of weeks ago for the first time in years. The man is a fucking idiot. It scares me that he holds such influence over his listeners.)

Kris is sometimes frustrated because I don’t keep up-to-date on current events. I don’t know what has happened to whom. I do catch headlines via the web, and I’m forced to listen to Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! every Saturday. (Kris is addicted.) But most of my political decisions come from reading statements in the voter’s pamphlet or from ignoring the crap and reading interviews with candidates.

Though it’s a long time before the 2008 Presidential elections, it has been difficult to miss the fact that the campaigns have already begun.

To date, the only candidate on either side that has appealed to me is Barack Obama. He first came to my attention (and to the attention of many) through his speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Why do I like him so much? Because he cuts through the bullshit and supposes a United States that is actually united and not split in two. From the aforementioned speech:

The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we got some gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

Right on.

I admit that Obama’s dream of unity may be a fantasy. The United States was built on a divided platform. Despite what some would have you believe, there’s rarely been a unity of purpose in this country. Our Founding Fathers did not all stand for the same thing, and when people claim otherwise they’re either ignorant or willfully trying to deceive you.

Still: Unity — that’s a nice goal. I like it. So Barack Obama has been my candidate of choice. Everything I’ve read by or about him has re-affirmed this. He’s an intelligent, thoughtful man. He truly believes in building unity, not just politically, but in daily life. When I listened to Rush Limbaugh a few weeks ago, he was ranting about how those who support Obama do so out of “white guilt” (or was it “Liberal guilt” — I can’t remember). This is ludicrous. Most of the time, I barely remember that Obama is black, and it has no bearing on whether I like him and will vote for him. (Rush used to argue that women voted for Clinton because they thought he was sexy, which is just as stupid.)

But I didn’t start this post because of Rush Limbaugh or Barack Obama. I started this post because I just read a piece this morning that has put a Republican Presidential candidate on my radar. I have no idea who Ron Paul is but I’m going to find out. Here’s a piece from FoxNews.com. Radley Balko writes:

The reaction to the showdown between Rep. Ron Paul and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been fascinating. Paul suggested that the recent history of U.S. foreign policy endeavors overseas may have had something to do with terrorists’ willingness to come to America, live here for several months, then give their lives to kill as many Americans as possible.

Perhaps, Paul suggested, the 15-year presence of the U.S. military forces in Muslim countries may have motivated them. For that, Giuliani excoriated him, calling it an “extraordinary statement,” adding, “I don’t think I’ve heard that before.”

Let’s be blunt. Giuliani was either lying, or he hasn’t cracked a book in six years.

The “blowback” theory isn’t some fringe idea common only to crazy Sept. 11 conspiracy theorists. It doesn’t suggest that we “deserved” the Sept. 11 attacks, nor does it suggest we shouldn’t have retaliated against the people who waged them.

What it does say is that actions have consequences. When the Arab and Muslim world continually sees U.S. troops marching through Arab and Muslim backyards, U.S. trade sanctions causing Arab and Muslim suffering and U.S. bombs landing on Arab and Muslim homes, it isn’t difficult to see how Arabs could begin to develop a deep contempt for the U.S.

Why does this get my attention? Long-time readers know. I’ve been saying this same thing for nearly six years. On September 11th and 12th of 2001, I took it upon myself to do extensive research. I visited scores of web sites and printed out articles about Osama bin Laden and the Muslim complaints against the United States. I compiled a binder full of information. In April 2004, I posted a summary of this info in an entry entitled How did we get here?. At the time I wrote:

The results of this research still form the basis for my understanding of the situation in the Middle East. My opposition to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq isn’t so much because I think our actions are evil — though I do think this — as I think they don’t address the core issues. The people we’re fighting are only going to be satisfied if we remove all of our presence from the Middle East and if we decrease our support for Israel.

[A] U.S. withdrawal is not going to appease anyone now. We’ve gone over and thrown our weight around too many times; now people might just fight back for the sake of fighting back. This is true. But at one time, it would have been a significant step toward pacifying the anger fomenting against our country.

The Middle East has been a source of cultural turmoil not just for decades, not just for centuries, but for millennia. Think about that. Millennia.

It’s ignorant to think that we can go over there with our military might and moral rectitude and somehow make things right. We’re better off worrying about our own neighborhood.

So when I hear that Ron Paul, a man I know nothing about, has the balls to stand up and speak the truth, he earns my attention. Not one politician has said this stuff in the past six years. I’m going to go read more about him. Between Paul and Obama, I may actually break from my stance of always voting for the strongest third-party Presidential candidate.

Well, maybe not.

11 Replies to “Barack Obama and Ron Paul”

  1. John says:

    I’ve not heard of Ron Paul either, and now I’m going to have to do some research.

    J.D., I agree with you that the two-party system is broken (I’ve written about this at length elsewhere, but damned if I can find it now), but voting for a candidate that doesn’t have a realistic chance of winning accomplishes little if anything. How can we start a party for intelligent moderates? :-/

    You’re also right about our inability to change what’s happening in the Middle East. Any change in that conflict is going to have to come from within.

  2. Jeff says:

    Here’s a good article about this subject… written by Pat Buchanan of all people… http://news.yahoo.com/s/uc/20070518/cm_uc_crpbux/op_332799

  3. J.D. says:

    Thanks, Jeff. That Buchanan piece is awesome. I love the extended story, about how the pundits thought Guliani had won the debate and Paul lost it, but how their own polling numbers showed the opposite. Outstanding.

  4. Dave says:

    As someone who was once a staunch Republican I can easily say that the Republican party of today is not the Republican party I once belonged to and grew up with. That is for two reasons. First, Republican is no longer synonymous with politically conservative viewpoint. I say “politically” because a politically conservative position has a certain view on the function of government. Specifically that the best government is the government which governs least. Sound familiar? Instead, while the Republican party may still be characterized as “conservative”, that term is widely understood as that which is resistant to change and is aligned with a particularly polarized view of evangelical Christianity.

    Second, somewhere along the line the Republican party became a tool for big business. Too be fair, the Democrats ended up being the tool for organized labor. A politically conservative viewpoint of government’s role vis a vis business is to ensure a level playing field. It is not to supervise the transfer of taxpayer wealth into private corporations.

    Between the things listed above, the Republicans gradually drifted away from the core conservative principals.

    On the other hand, the Democrats haven’t fared much better. The politically liberal position has always been that the best government is that which helps people by spreading the costs of advancement over the entire tax base and thereby subsidizing advancement. While that may be a valid position to take in a society with a significant amount of excess wealth, it does not justify the type of overspending (ie, spending beyond the current level of income) that it naturally lends itself to. Once again, to be fair the Republicans have in the last 25 years done their level best to actively compete with the Democrats on this, apparently avoiding the “tax and spend” rhetoric by simply opting to “borrow and spend.”

    Not only that, but both the Republicans and Democrats have presided over what can only be termed as the largest rollback of civil liberties and rights that the United States has ever had the misfortune to live through. Although the Clinton administration participated, they weren’t as bad as the Bush administration has been. In some ways, however, I fault the Democrats more than the Republicans. Sadly, I expect chicanery from the Republicans. I didn’t expect the Democrats to simply roll over and accept it. Nor did I expect the media (the liberal media, mind you) to roll over on it’s back and beg for a little belly scratching from the administration and I’m bitterly disappointed all the way around.

    That’s why I’m proposing a new political party- the Realist Party. Here’s the platform so far:

    1. Legislators can only vote on the legislation that they’ve actually read.
    2. Legislation can’t be more than one page, front and back, 12 point type, double spaced, and can only deal with one subject at a time.
    3. If the government wants to spend money it must have to have that money already in the treasury and to borrow money it has to be up for a national election.
    4. If you’re a foreign national and you’re in this country without our permission, be prepared for the plane flight home.
    5. If you’re employing a foreign national who doesn’t have permission to be here be prepared for the $1k per day fine and the cost of the above mentioned plane flight.
    6. The Social Security Administration will start checking on how it is that Juan Rodriguez can have the same social security number and be simultaneously working in 100 different companies.
    7. For those unemployed and seeking welfare, congratulations! Please call the Social Security Administration to obtain a list of many employers who are now happy to see you. Be advised that this means you will actually have to stop complaining about everything and do some work.
    8. For those Americans tired of paying low prices for food, products and services- Congratulations! With the illegal immigrants now out of the picture you can start paying Americans a wage that they’ll accept to do the work that they wouldn’t do before.
    9. All business of the public will be conducted in English, not Spanish, Russian, Thai, Chinese or Ebonics.
    10. We don’t bomb anyone that doesn’t bomb us or our allies first. Please be advised that we have bigger bombs than most people.
    11. We are not the world’s policeman. The purpose of our military is to kill people and take their land or keep you from invading us. That’s what they’re going to be used for. It the rest of the world wants us to kill someone, keep in mind that will leave one big smoking hole.
    12. As Americans we need to remember that using the military to solve problems requires at least three things: People to hold guns, the guns that are being held, and something at which to shoot. This in turn requires money, money, and the understanding that the people we’re shooting at will shoot back. Don’t assume they’re all crappy shots just because they’re not using laser guided bombs.
    13. It’s not the government’s business what I do to myself or with another consenting adult. It’s not my neighbor’s business either. If you want the government to regulate that type of thing, go to China, Cuba, North Korea or Russia- they’ve gotten very good at it.
    14. Who you marry is a problem for you and your church, not your elected officials so stop bothering them with it.
    15. Those hard (but vaguely flexible) plastic packages that no one can open without a can opener are now banned. A pleasant little cardboard box will do just fine, thanks.
    16. Floride is good for your teeth. We’re going to put it in the water. Get over it.
    17. If your company’s profit is $39 billion per year, your industry probably don’t need a subsidy. Plan accordingly for your next year’s operating budget.
    18. Cuba’s probably not a significant threat to Florida and hasn’t been since 1962. But they make a good drink. Normal trade relations will begin in the near future, starting with the rum. Get over it Miami.
    19. If you want free health care you’re going to have to pay more taxes. We’re ok with the government paying for your health care, but recognize that there’s a price to pay for it. You decide.
    20. If you want Social Security to stay solvent for the next 75 years the retirement age goes up to 71 and everyone pays the Social Security tax on the first $250k they make each year. And no, we don’t get to spend it on other stuff just because it’s sitting there.
    21. If you’re receiving disability because you can’t work, you obviously don’t need a cel phone with a color screen because talking on a phone is something that people are paid to do and therefore if you can talk on a phone you can get a job and aren’t disabled.
    22. Burning petroleum is bad for “X” reason (you pick one, we don’t care which ’cause they’re probably all correct). Those subsidies that we used to give to the oil company are now going to be used to figure out how to create energy from a renewable source. Fusion looks pretty good- cheap fuel and no radioactive goop to deal with. Sorry anti-nuke folks.
    23. Zeppelins are a much cooler form of air transport than jets and can lift more for less money. We’re going to subsidize zeppelin development for cargo lifting and general travel. It might take a little longer to get from point A to point B, but you all need to relax a little anyway.
    24. The speed limit for passenger cars is 75 mph on the interstate freeways. The speed limit for any vehicle with a curb weight in excess of 3500# is 60 mph and they can’t travel in the far left most lane.
    25. Companies that make things and pollute can do that so long as the President, CEO, corporate officers, board members and their families live right in the plume of pollution that the company creates.
    26. We like free trade and our policy of free trade is that for any given country our trade policy is exactly the same as their trade policy. If they want to trade with us without tariffs, subsidies, taxes, etc., we’re happy to do that on our end, too. Keep in mind that we’re going to have to stop paying farmers (among others) to not grow food and let them compete in the global market.

    What do you think so far? You in the party?

  5. Jason says:

    JD, if you’re looking for a 3rd way in politics, why not start by plugging for a moderate, sensible approach to solving the nation’s health care crisis.
    The presidential candidates (Mr. Paul and Mr. Obama included), are treating our health care problems as a problem with insurance, and using politically palatable bumper-sticker mandates (If I read right, Paul, a Libertarian doctor, is advocating tax policy that effectively subsidizes the insurance industry!).
    The Archimedes Movement, and Oregon Senate Bill 27, is advocating for a system where existing public tax dollars finance a defined set of effective health benefits. This is in contrast to our current insurance and health insurance systems, where effectiveness (or cost-effectiveness) doesn’t usually matter.
    I’m interested in your thoughts (and those of your readers) on this legislation. If you support it, let your Senator know, as this legislation is at a crucial phase in the Oregon Senate. If it succeeds, look for it on the floor of the U.S. Senate in 2009.
    p.s. I do like Paul’s straight talk and Obama’s unity talk, but they both miss the boat on this issue. Furthermore, I must say Paul’s approach to immigration reform would be more understandable were he a Native American and not a descendent of immigrants unwelcome to many of the continent’s original inhabitants.

  6. pdxWoman says:


    I have no party platform. I have no answer for the troubles created by our 2-party system. What I have is this: YOUR BLOG ROCKS! Where else can I find insightful political commentary, a side of tasty clams, and pictures of cute fuzzy animals?!

    Seriously, though, I am in agreement about the inadequacies of the 2-party system. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you not to “waste” your vote on 3rd party candidates. If no one ever votes for a 3rd party, we’ll be stuck with what we have forever. The only wasted vote is the one you don’t cast!

  7. pdxWoman says:


    I have no party platform. I have no answer for the troubles created by our 2-party system. What I have is this: YOUR BLOG ROCKS! Where else can I find insightful political commentary, a side of tasty clams, and pictures of cute fuzzy animals?!

    Seriously, though, I am in agreement about the inadequacies of the 2-party system. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you not to “waste” your vote on 3rd party candidates. If no one ever votes for a 3rd party, we’ll be stuck with what we have forever. The only wasted vote is the one you don’t cast!

  8. asdf says:

    Oh hell, no.

    They hate us because we are free. Over there, not over here. Mushroom cloud. Aluminum tubes. Ungrateful. Unhinged. The world’s most dangerous people, the world’s most dangerous weapons. Can not be permitted. We’re number one. We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do. Cheese-eating surrender monkeys. when the final history is written on Iraq, it will look like just a comma because there is, there’s a strong will for democracy. let history decide. ~smoke~ ~popping sounds~ ~ small flames~

    Personally, after seeing the past 6.5 years I’d like to see someone who is not an ideologue in the whitehouse. Someone who reacts to observations and changing conditions. Isolationists are only right 2/3 of the time.

  9. Clackablog says:

    [Editorial addition to fix sidebar] Well, Ron Paul WAS the strongest 3rd party candidate… the LP candidate of 1988, after getting extremely weary of the unprecedented deficits incurred by Reagan.

    Because he has his district in his hip pocket, he had such clout as to rejoin the RP on HIS terms.

    A worthy candidate, and definately neither a Demopublican nor Republicrat.

    From your friendly neighborhood Oak Grove blogger, Clackablog, also KiloSeven, and founder of Operation Dice Drop.

  10. Ellis_Wyatt says:

    has the balls to stand up and speak the truth,

    Pal, you have NO idea. There’s a lot more truth for you to find out, if you’re just hearing about The Good Doctor now. I’ve been watching him for years. He’s gonna win.

    Welcome to the revolution.

  11. Ellis_Wyatt says:

    has the balls to stand up and speak the truth,

    Pal, you have NO idea. There’s a lot more truth for you to find out, if you’re just hearing about The Good Doctor now. I’ve been watching him for years. He’s gonna win.

    Welcome to the revolution.

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