Ron Paul on Meet the Press

Republican candidate Ron Paul is on Meet the Press. (live-blog)

He wants to get rid of the IRS and income tax. We could save hundreds of millions if we had a sensible foreign policy. The goal is to cut spending.

We should bring our troops home and save hundreds of millions of dollars. We don't need to be starting wars or to be the policemen of the world. We can defend this country without troops in Germany, Japan and other places.

Presidents don't have the authority to declare war. Only Congress can declare war.

What if Iran invades Israel? They aren't going to, that's like asking what if Iran invaded Mars.


Israel's leadership encourages Americans to go into Iran and bomb it. He would cut off all foreign aid to Israel and to the Arab countries. Israel is dependent on us and we should end it.

September 11: They don't attack us because we are rich and free but because we are over there. Al Qaeda's determination comes from us being over there and being provoked.

The incentive for Osama to recruit suicide bombers would end once we left. Al Qaeda has more members now than before 9/11. Why produce the incentive for them?

We have 700 bases in 130 countries. There are radicals on each side. He blames not the American people but the people who hijacked our foreign policy.

Wars, including the war against drugs and the war against terrorism make it tougher to sell liberty and the constitution.

We don't need more Patriot Acts, more real id cards, more suspension of habeas corpus, we need more freedom.

He's not against the FBI doing investigations, just their invasion of our privacy. He's against the CIA having secret prisons and engaging in torture.

He's not against public schools. Denies that he called for it in 1988, says that's a mis-statement.

Social Security: We need to take care of the people who are dependent on us. We shouldn't turn people out in the street.

He's never voted for an earmark, but he's put them in bills for residents of his district. Says Russert is confused. The whole process is corrupt. He votes against it and wants to change it but when Congress passes it, that's the system and it's ok to take advantage of it, like tax credits. (Note, this was his most confusing, contradictary answer.)

Term limits: Russert says he ran on them. He's been in Congress 18 years. Paul says he didn't run on voluntary term limits, but he supports compulsory term limits. Voluntary limits are different than compulsory ones.

Immigration: Russert says in 1988 he wanted no immigration policy and said we should welcome everyone who wants to come here and work. Paul tells Russert he also said there may be a time when it becomes an invasion. He's changed his mind now because it's an economic issue and immigration is making us more of a welfare state.

He wants to amend the Constitution to say children born in the U.S. of undocumented persons shouldn't be given citizenship.

All drugs should be decriminalized at the federal level. They should be treated like alcohol. Criticizes federal arrests of medical marijuana patients in states where it is legal. Drugs should be regulated, if at all, at the state level. He thinks drugs are terrible but the states should deal with it.

On the civil rights bill: Opposes it as a property rights issue. Says the law has nothing to do with race relations. His opposition is based on the issue of the feds taking private property rights.

Civil War: We shouldn't have gone to war. There were better ways of getting rid of slavery. 600,000 died. The Government should have bought the slaves and released them, it would have been cheaper.

He once supported Ronald Reagan and now says he was a failure in many ways. He called Bush I a bum. He didn't vote for Bush II. He once resigned from the Republican party. Russert asks why he is running as a Republican. He represents Republicans and wants to make the party stand for what it used to stand for. Says he represents Republican ideals more than the other candidates running.

He has no plans to run as an Independent if he doesn't get the nomination but he won't rule it out.

On Huckabee's Christmas commercial and his response to it -- he quoted Sinclair Lewis, "When fascism comes to this country, it will be wrapped in... a cross." (The Sinclair Lewis Society denies Lewis ever wrote that.) Says he hadn't seen the commercial at the time, it was a spontaneous comment, having been told Huckabee used a cross in the commercial. Explains that we are close to fascism in this country, not Hitler-type fascism but corporate type fascism.

The end.

My thoughts: He's a dangerous nut. He only wants to end the war on drugs on a federal level. His endorsement of a Tancredo-type amendment to the Constitution to deny citizenship of children born in this country to the undocumented is appalling. There are better ways to restore our civil liberties than a vote for Ron Paul.

Update: The transcript is here.

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    Ron Paul isn't playing with all 16 registers (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by MacLane on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 05:22:58 PM EST
    Libertarians like Ron Paul want to elevate private property to the highest good, even though the notion of private property is essentially unanalyzed, and there are other goods, such as public goods, besides private property. He also has to deny global warming because he cannot explain how to privatize the ozone layer or the oceans.

    Privatizing everything in existence creates a problem for would-be leaders like Ron Paul. A president has three tasks before him, all of which stem from the essence of politics, which is staying in office (this is from "The Logic of Political Survival," by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, et al). "First, they choose a tax rate, which generates government revenue and influences how hard people will work. Second, they spend revenue in a manner designed to keep incumbents in office,  particularly by sustaining support among members of their winning coalition. Finally, they provide various mixes of public and private goods."

    For Ron Paul to stay in office, he will have to ensure that the sale of government property, such as the electromagnetic spectrum, will go to members of his winning coalition--those people who "control enough of the instruments of power to keep the elected leader in office." This is incompatible with libertarian principles. Moreover the process is unsustainable: once the former public goods become private goods, most of the members of his winning coalition will not benefit from them. Indeed, the new owners will probably hold them out of use on speculation.

    In a democracy, winning coalitions are large, and have to be maintained via public goods, since private goods are expensive. Paul would reduce the number of public goods to a level incompatible with sustaining support among his winning coalition.

    So the political case for Ron Paul is hopeless.

    Whatever one thinks of Paul (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by kovie on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 03:50:55 AM EST
    His rise in popularity is both a good and bad thing to me. It's good in that it signals the disintegration of the modern GOP coalition between fundies, neocons and corporatists, and the growing dissatisfaction in the party among the rank and file with its leadership and policies. It also signals growing centrist and swing voter dissatisfaction with the GOP, given his broad base of support. And it's also good in that it indicates a growing populism and political activism in the US that was long overdue, kind of like what Dean meant for the left in '04 (I don't mean to equate the two, but there are clear similarities in what each represented as a political phenomena and a popular reaction to bad governance and leadership).

    But it's bad in that Paul's radical libertarian brand of populism is quite dangerous, especially given the far-right nativist and white supremacist lunatic makeup of much of his support base. Whenever government fails, or is seen as failing, populism grows. Some of it is quite positive and healthy, e.g. the progressive and labor movements in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, or the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 50's and 60's. But some of it can be quite bad, even devastating, e.g. the rise of populist-supported fascism in the 20's and 30's in Europe, or the current rise in racist nativism in the US. And Paul is clearly aligned with the latter element, if not by his choice, then certainly by theirs.

    Paul himself is likely going nowhere. And like I said there are some good things about his rise. But the movement and sentiment that he's helped spawn, and is himself symptomatic of, are quite troubling. BushCo have not just awaken the slumbering left and self-satisfied center, but also the dangerous far-right.

    Is he the rough beast?

    what ron paul neglected to mention (3.50 / 2) (#7)
    by cpinva on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 04:30:10 PM EST
    is that, as paul krugman noted, getting rid of the income tax, and replacing it with any other tax, will still require some kind of gov't agency to administer it. so, basically, he wants to replace the IRS with something else, just not called the IRS. and the difference is?

    this is the single most comprehensive overview of ron paul's positions i've seen. i thought he was bonkers before, now i know he is.

    That would be true... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by jorlowitz on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 10:42:58 PM EST
    That's a fair and astute point, and it would certainly apply to schemes such as a national sales tax (Fair Tax).  So it's a good point, except for the fact that Ron Paul doesn't want to replace the Income Tax.  He wants to get rid of it, and replace it with NOTHING.  

    That probably sounds impossible, but it's really not as radical as it sounds.  In fact, US government expenditures could be fully funded at 1990 levels with ZERO income tax.  How is that possible you ask?  Well, bring back several hundred THOUSAND soldiers from around the world and stop pursuing needless wars of foreign aggression, subsidies for industries that don't need them, and general bureaucratic excess and you can the idea.  Note this does NOT mean gutting social services like Medicare and Social security for people who have already paid into them.  Ron Paul has NEVER voted to take money from the social security fund, unlike many other politicians who claim to protect it.  What Paul would do is give people the option to opt out of social security from an early age an invest their money safely as they choose.  What about people who didn't pay in at all?  Well, this is a problem that would have to be handled either by government reserves or by private charity.  But either way, there might be a lot more money floating around if the gov.t was always taking it away.

    Doesn't sound so bad...


    ron paul, (3.00 / 2) (#17)
    by cpinva on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 04:44:18 AM EST
    as near as i can tell, is an intellectual light weight and fraud. he did offer substitutes for the income tax, recognizing that revenues still need to be generated. the flat tax and national sales tax/value added tax were among the options. he either purposely ignored, or was ignorant of, the need to administer them.

    economically, he lives in a mushroom world; put in a dark room, and growing in dung.

    on foreign policy, he lives in a fantasy world: if only we'd just bring everyone home, and seal our borders, no one would bother us. the world does not now, and hasn't ever (hence, "to the shores of tripoli") worked that way. he's either lying, or ignorant beyond words.

    on the domestic side, he's ignorant of U.S. history: the south attacked the federal fort, in charleston harbor, shortly after lincoln's inauguration, not the other way around.

    lincoln, and others, had tentatively proposed buying the freedom of the slaves, and sending them back to africa. slavery would be outlawed from that point on. it never made it any farther, the south attacked. he either knows this and lies, or doesn't, and is wholly ignorant of what any school child should know.

    but i do hope he runs as an independent, taking away just enough votes of disaffected republicans, to cause a landslide for the dems.

    The problem with buying the slaves and (none / 0) (#19)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 08:00:21 AM EST
    shipping them back to Africa was that they weren't for sale (again.)

    actually, like any (none / 0) (#20)
    by cpinva on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 12:27:49 PM EST
    chattel, they were always for sale, if the price was right. however, that wasn't the sticking point, the total abolition of slavery was; the entire cause of the war to begin with was slavery, period. every secession document listed the continuation of slavery as the primary cause for seceding. take slavery out of the equation, there is no civil war.

    it was the "pre-emptive" strike, by the south carolinians, that destroyed any chance of peacefully eliminating slavery from american shores.


    And they weren't for sale (none / 0) (#21)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 05:32:34 PM EST
    because they couldn't be replaced without changing the whole culture and society.

    The only thing I have never been able to understand is why the poor whites bought into the equation.


    Same Reason (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by squeaky on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 05:57:29 PM EST
    That the poor whites buy into the GOP.

    Now bad. (none / 0) (#25)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 10:49:10 PM EST
    So the poor whites during the Civil War thought that the 1861 Repubs were going to tax them to death and take away their squirrel guns????

    Who knew?


    I think it more fundamental then that (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Molly Bloom on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 11:04:52 AM EST
    The reason poor whites vote GOP today and went to war in 1860 was lack of healthy skepticism and a strong belief in what authority figures told them -especially when that authority figure told them what they already believed and wanted to hear.

    A test of your belief. (none / 0) (#35)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 08:51:36 AM EST
    Do you also believe that is the reason that poor blacks listen to Jessee and Al?

    Do you also believe that is the reason Moslems listen to radical Imams and riot and kill??


    People tend to listen... (none / 0) (#36)
    by Dadler on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 09:13:43 AM EST
    ...to those who make them feel less insignificant.  Poor whites bought into it, and bought into it for a long time (many still do) because it told them "Hey, you may be poor, but you're still superior to blacks."  With other groups, the psychological dynamic is much the same.  We all want to feel like we're better than someone else, even more so if we feel ourselves so low on the social ladder that we can't even imagine the top of it, much less see it.

    Also, I once again recommend.... (none / 0) (#37)
    by Dadler on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 09:20:54 AM EST
    ...the book THE POLITICS OF WHITENESS by Michelle Brattain, for a really astute look at the modern history of racial politics in the south.

    good question. (none / 0) (#34)
    by cpinva on Thu Dec 27, 2007 at 07:24:28 AM EST
    honestly, i don't know. my gut reaction, taking into account not only the direct cost of the war, for both sides, plus the opportunity costs (lost productivity of those killed/injured, lost productivity of assets lost/used in war production, etc), i would say yes. oh, add in the cost of the following 150 years of racial strife to that equation as well.

    that, however, is just my gut reaction, not based on actual hard number crunching. i suspect that sometime, somewhere, an actual cost/benefit analysis has been done, perhaps by some economics doctoral candidate, as part of their thesis.


    Israel, Iran and the Bomb (none / 0) (#1)
    by chris2008 on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 12:01:59 PM EST
    Ron Paul could have handled that topic better.  In general, I felt that Ron Paul wasn't that prepared overall for the interview.  Ron Paul was lacking precision and specificity compared to someone like Barak Obama.

    Publically, Israel's leadership hasn't advocated directly that the US bomb Iran.  Although many right-wing Israelis have advocated that Iran be bombed to stop it from ever being a threat to Israel's dominance in the region:

    Benyamin Netanyua (former and possibly future Israeli PM) makes the case that Iran should be bombed

    Israel's Likud party says that Iran should be bombed

    These calls within Israel for action on Iran have been mirrored by Israel's right-wing supporters in the US:

    Joshua Muravchik: "Bomb Iran"

    Norman Podhoretz: "The Case for Bombing Iran"

    Podhoretz secretly urged Bush to bomb Iran

    Thus this is better described as an example of "diaspora politics", where a transnational group of people who share similar interests advocate for the accomplishment of shared goals:


    Thank you (none / 0) (#2)
    by Maggie Mae on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 12:05:40 PM EST
    My thoughts: He's a dangerous nut.

    Someone close to me, recently, sent me a form email asking me to join them and contribute to Paul's campaign.  Couldn't believe a life-long democrat was sending me that.  Found out they changed their registration, just so they could vote for Paul in the primary.  The reason?  Paul wants to get rid of the Federal Income Tax and the Federal Reserve.

    I know there is no way of reasoning with my friend.  I just have to wonder when Paul loses will they change their registration again, or just let it ride.  Will they look for another candidate or not vote at all?  

    What will Paul supporters do when he's out of the race?  Will he ever get out of the race?

    a dangerous nut (none / 0) (#3)
    by chris2008 on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 12:10:41 PM EST
    "My thoughts: He's a dangerous nut."

    I don't find that phrase particularly resonant.  I think Guiliani, with his focus on Iran and toughness, is a much more dangerous nut.  Huckabee also comes across a Christianist (to use a phrase from Andrew Sullivan.)

    Ron Paul on the other hand sticks to fairly well defined libertarian principles (he doesn't make these positions up on the fly as one would expect from a nut, rather he holds positions that are libertarian), although like I said in a previous post, I don't think he displayed a lot of precision in his on-the-fly thinking in this interview.


    Or he is a fanatic (none / 0) (#4)
    by Molly Bloom on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 01:16:54 PM EST
    with long held positions AND a dangerous nut.

    Ron Paul essentially is advocating a return to a 19th century pre McKinley laissez faire economy. Evidently he didn't get to far in history and does not know one of the biggest  downside to that is that it creates a dynamic of he who has the gold rules. I realize someone will say we are already there. However, the answer to a fire isn't more accelerants.  


    Correction (none / 0) (#5)
    by squeaky on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 02:34:06 PM EST
    Sully did not invent the term Christianist. Tristero who posts at Hullaballoo (digby) did in 2003. Perhaps someone used it before Tristero, but it was not Sully.
    In an analogy to Islamism, I would propose the term "Christianism" to describe a political ideology inspired by Christianity that advocates the replacement of a secular government with one that is profoundly informed by a self-styled "literal" interpretation of the Bible. By this definition, Rudolph is perhaps best described as a radical "Christianist," a man inspired by Christianity to effect social change through violence.

    "Christianism" is without a doubt an ugly neologism. However, it is a mistake to describe as "Christian" people and groups like Robertson, Falwell, Christian Identity, and those who are even more radical in their mission to transform the US into an explicitly fundamentalist "christian" state. This confuses Christianity, a religious belief, with a purely secular agenda. Furtheremore, it is highly misleading to ignore the hijacking of Christianity and its symbols by the Rudolphs of the world simply by repressing any reference to their Christian inspirations and calling them "anti-abortion terrorists" or some similar name.



    Thank you for blogging this. (none / 0) (#6)
    by jerry on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 02:49:28 PM EST
    This is more information that I've gotten on Ron Paul than anywhere else.

    War on Drugs (none / 0) (#8)
    by Ben Masel on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 04:35:18 PM EST
    "He only wants to end the war on drugs on a federal level." does not accurately represent his position. My take is that AS PRESIDENT he'd only be able to end it at the federal level and would have to respect the decision of any State that didn't follow suit.

    he's right about some things (none / 0) (#10)
    by eric on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 05:46:51 PM EST
    I don't like him, but he is right about some things.  And unlike anyone else, he has the guts to speak out.
    He is right about the war, terrorism, and Israel.

    He really resonates with some people.  It is odd.

    Anyway, I do hope that he runs as an independent.

    The political cost of ending the war is too high (none / 0) (#12)
    by MacLane on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 06:36:27 PM EST
    Once a democracy starts a war, it is harder for its political leaders to end it than if an autocracy starts a war. The leaders of a democracy are likely to suffer in upcoming elections if they lose the war or withdraw. We saw this happening to the Republicans. The Democrats are subject to the same conditions for satying in office, so we saw a reversal of their mandate to end the war.

    That will be true for Ron Paul as well, unless he intends to convert the U.S. into an autocracy once he gains office, or else limit the size of his winning coalition to the point that private goods will be sufficient to pay them off. Then he could afford politically to withdraw.

    Withdrawal's one of the few things (none / 0) (#24)
    by Ben Masel on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 09:47:47 PM EST
    he could do unilatterally. Taxes, abolishing FDA, etc all require Congressional approval.

    Rescheduling of Controlled Substance can also be done by Executive order, subject to Congressional overide.


    You guys have Dennis (none / 0) (#13)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 06:56:33 PM EST
    The Repubs have Ron...

    I think you had first choice.

    I'm a lifelong Democrat (none / 0) (#15)
    by ThePresidentialCandidates on Sun Dec 23, 2007 at 11:52:33 PM EST
    I'm a lifelong Democrat who supports Ron Paul in 2008. Why? The mainstream democrats are a huge disappointment to me. I was hoping that Barack Obama would be a real change. Someone who speaks the truth. But he's not. Hillary Clinton is barely left of the neocons on many important matters. John Edwards... I just don't trust the guy. Furthermore all of them just represent more politics as usual.

    I may not agree with Ron Paul on everything but the more I read about how positions and the logic that he lays out, the more I am swayed by it. Furthermore he is so right on foreign policy and civil liberties (he's so much stronger on these issues than the mainstream Dems that it's not even close) that to me that Trumps everything else, easily. Really do we really just want more of the same with Hillary Clinton or do we want REAL change with Ron Paul. The guy represents real freedom. He represents the people of America actually having a voice in our Government again. It's truly a beautiful thing.

    To me this election is about whether you are just another political shill or if you have a real conviction for freedom. I'm becoming quite disgusted by the so called "liberals" pot shots on Ron Paul... It makes me think they are no better than the neocons on the other side. Let's talk about ideas, let's use reason and logic. Let's not try to pinpoint one or two topics and try to SCARE people into not thinking further.

    RP and evolution (none / 0) (#23)
    by Al on Mon Dec 24, 2007 at 08:36:42 PM EST
    In the debate where 3 Republican candidates raised their hands to indicate that they don't believe in evolution, RP kept his hand down. But then he said that evolution is just a theory, and he doesn't accept it. (Is there an emoticon for rolling eyes?)

    So I think RP is just an opportunist who tries to tell people what they want to hear.

    What better ways to restore our civil liberties? (none / 0) (#27)
    by Honyocker on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 10:35:02 AM EST
    How dissapointing.  Shrugging off Ron Paul as a "dangerous nut" is an intellectualy lazy way to try and marginalize him without actually having to think about what he says.

    So, to the blogger: Ron Paul "only" wants to end the drug war at a federal level?  The other candidates promise nothing other than more of the same war on drugs, so what's the problem?  The federal drug war apparatus props up an otherwise unsustainable drug war at the state level.  Do away with the federal drug war, and the state level drug war will wither away.

    It would also be helpful if you could give example of the "better ways to restor our civil liberties" than to support the one candiate who actually stands up and says that your (and my) constitutional liberties matter.  What better ways?  Start a blog?  Vote for Hillary?  Come on, the only way to ensure the government respects our constitutional liberties is to have a constitutional (one with enumerated powers) government.  There is only one candidate who even understands what that means.  

    Who's Better? (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 11:09:24 AM EST
    On the war on drugs and freedom and civil liberties? Dennis Kucinich, who has no chance. Sorry, but Ron Paul is not the answer.  I hope he runs as an Independent and drains votes from the Republican nominee.

    Kucinich also marginalized (none / 0) (#30)
    by Honyocker on Tue Dec 25, 2007 at 12:20:24 PM EST
    given, Dennis Kucinich is a good example (though liberty always gives way to a bigger role for the state in our lives, even if it is a "kinder, gentler" nanny-state).  Kucinich is also a good example of another marginalized candidate.  Wing-nut, nut job, etc. are examples of the pejorative terms used against him by his detractors on the right (while Ron Paul gets it from both sides).

    The only real debate (absent the war in Iraq, which is significant, but not as significant as the future of constitutional liberties in the U.S.)between the Democratic and Republican frontrunners is in what direction, and at what rate, the size and scope of the federal government will grow.  Either way, our liberties will have to continue to give way.

    Vonnegut said..... (none / 0) (#33)
    by kdog on Wed Dec 26, 2007 at 10:19:58 AM EST
    the problem with the office of the president is only psychopaths want the job...so lets agree that every candidate is "nuts".

    As for the danger quotient of each candidate's nuttiness, Ron Paul seems the least dangerous.  A Paul administration promises peace through the end of empire bulding, and greater civil and economic freedom for the individual.  Sounds good to me, and less dangerous than the rest of the nuts.

    I have issues with some of his positions, but he promises me greater freedom, and that's enough to get my vote.  Like a lot of younger people, I'm not looking to be cared for and nannied from the cradle to the grave, or to subsidize arms manufacturers who would not be in business if not for the feds....I want to be left alone to live my life and make my way.  Only Paul seems to understand this...which is why he's gaining so much support from the youth.