Tuesday, July 11, 2006

SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER . . . FROM INSIDE THE HALLS OF POWER

I'm attaching a link here to a speech that Representative Ron Paul of Texas gave before Congress. Frankly, it's amazing, in that you'd never believe an elected representative holding national office would say what he says in 2006. Paul's an odd bird in today's world, a real Libertarian, ironically opposed to all justifications for the power of the federal government in which he serves. I talked about him here a month or so back.

Anyway, I really urge you to read the entire speech. It's a stunning display of intelligence, honesty and guts. Even if you disagree with aspects of his politics (and likely you will), there's no way you can't be impressed with his general points about the America was live in, today in 2006. A few highlights (by no means exclusive):
* Since the use of power to achieve political ends is accepted, pervasive, and ever expanding, popular support for various programs is achieved by creating fear . . . . Often government caused the problem in the first place . . . . FEMA originally had a small role, but its current mission is to centrally manage every natural disaster that befalls us. This mission was exposed as a fraud during last year’s hurricanes; incompetence and corruption are now FEMA’s legacy . . . . The economic impossibility of this system guarantees that the harder government tries to satisfy the unlimited demands, the worse the problems become. We won’t be able to pay the bills forever, and eventually our ability to borrow and print new money must end. This dependency on government will guarantee anger when the money runs out.

*
Short wars, with well-defined victories, are tolerated by the American people even when they are misled as to the reasons for the war. Wars entered into without a proper declaration tend to be politically motivated and not for national security reasons . . . . The lack of a quick military success, the loss of life and limb, and the huge economic costs of lengthy wars precipitate anger. This is overwhelmingly true when the war propaganda that stirred up illegitimate fears is exposed as a fraud. Most soon come to realize the promise of guns and butter is an illusion. They come to understand that inflation, a weak economy, and a prolonged war without real success are the reality . . . . But no one is allowed to ask the obvious. How have the 2,500 plus deaths, and the 18,500 wounded, made us more free? What in the world does Iraq have to do with protecting our civil liberties here at home? What national security threat prompted America’s first pre-emptive war? How does our unilateral enforcement of UN resolutions enhance our freedoms. These questions aren’t permitted. They are not politically correct.

* I personally am convinced that many of our wars could be prevented by paying stricter attention to the method whereby our troops are committed to battle. I also am convinced that when Congress does not declare war, victory is unlikely. The most important thing Congress can do to prevent needless and foolish wars is for every member to take seriously his or her oath to obey the Constitution. Wars should be entered into only after great deliberation and caution. Wars that are declared by Congress should reflect the support of the people, and the goal should be a quick and successful resolution.

* The major obstacle to a sensible foreign policy is the fiction about what patriotism means. Today patriotism has come to mean blind support for the government and its policies. In earlier times patriotism meant having the willingness and courage to challenge government policies regardless of popular perceptions.
(Emphases added). Again, I strongly suggest you give it a read. You'll be amazed that a member of the House actually gave this speech.

9 Comments:

Anonymous Applesaucer said...

Hear, hear!

It's hard to believe that a guy like Ron Paul can get elected. Makes me want to visit his district, hang out at a saloon and talk to some of his constituents. Seriously.

Applesaucer

9:56 AM  
Blogger DED said...

Thanks for the link Mike. It's always good to hear that Ron Paul didn't abandon his Libertarian principles even though he had to leave the party. The Republicans would do well to remember their small gov't roots rather than this authoritarian crap they're killing the Constitution with.

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Applesaucer said...

"The Republicans would do well to remember their small gov't roots..."

Small government roots? With all due respect, from the day Lincoln occupied the White House, the Republican Party has been about BIG government, particularly at the federal level. In fact, Democrats were the party of small government -- as a major point of distinction between them, on the one hand, and Federalists, Whigs and Republicans, on the other -- until the late 19th Century

Sure, there were the '33-52 and '64-80 interludes when, as a mostly-minority party, Republicans TALKED about small government, but, really, Republicans mostly objected to the nature of Democratic redistributionist policies. Now that they're back on top, Republicans are showing their true colors.

Applesaucer

10:27 AM  
Blogger Thrillhous said...

It's always great to see a congressman speak candidly. Seems like most of them think they have to keep their real beliefs private, lest they offend some constituency or other.

That said, I don't agree with many of his points. Many of his generalizations simply equate democratic rule with that of republicans (i.e., they're both incompetent and corrupt), which is patently false. FEMA, for example. It was a dumping ground for useless appointees from its inception until 1992, when Clinton put a real emergency expert, James Witt(I think), in charge. By 2000, FEMA was widely regarded as one of the best and most effective agencies of the gov't.

You can probably guess that I agree with applesaucer as far as the "triumphs" of small gov't go. 18 of the last 26 years have featured small gov't conservatives, and all they did was enact gigantic expansions of the federal gov't.

Everyone likes the sound of small gov't, but nobody lives by it. We tried it, and the Great Depression showed us just how foolish it is.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

The never ending blather about government being too big is an exercise in futility. It means nothing, proves nothing and accomplishes nothing worthwhile.

It's been a favorite pastime and posturing play of Republicans for decades, which says something about their lack of intellectual honesty and common sense.

What is important and what we all should be staying on top of is:

1, What do we want our government to do?

2, How do we want our government to do the things we expect of it?

3, Is the government big enough to handle 1 and 2 with reasonable efficiency?

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

SW-

But what if the answer to question one is, "as little as possible," and the answer to number two is, "as cheaply, and in as non-meddlesome way, as possible"?

Question three then becomes absurd.

3:15 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

mike, I'm not trying to be contentious, but I don't see how what you're saying follows. The only way it makes sense is if people really want almost no government services.

In my experience, it's never hard to find people who will say that's what they want. But let them find themselves or people they care about in need and their story changes.

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

SW-

Local government (whether state, county, municipality) can serve many of the same functions as the Fed Gov. And do it more efficiently, more cheaply, with greater oversight, and with a far more representative flavor than a bloated federal government.

I'd like to see the Fed Gov stick to Defense (in the true sense of the word, not the way we've used it since changing the name from Dept. of War to Dept. of Defense) and not much more.

4:38 PM  
Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

OK, Mike, I can see where you'd say that and appreciate that there's some truth to it. I'm just not willing to go so far in that direction.

BTW, as you said, Rep. Paul makes some excellent points. I heard him making a speech earlier this year, during one of those evening reserved-time periods C-SPAN carries. (Not a floor debate, in other words.) It was a fascinating presentation.

5:58 PM  

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