Tag Archives: elections

The 2016 Game of Thrones Election

Between Cersei Clinton and Walder Trump

 

Ron Paul Raised More Money Than Anyone But Romney

Yesterday, Ron Paul effectively bowed out of the presidential race by not spending any more money on the states that haven’t had primaries yet. But the remarkable thing is that he raised almost 36m$ for this election; Mitt Romney raised almost three times as much (87m$), but Newt raised only 22.5m$ and Santorum, 22.6m$. (Obama raised more than all of them combined — almost 200m$ so far.) So Ron Paul came in 2nd as far as cash goes, but 4th as far as delegates go: Romney has 966, Santorum 264, Newt 130 and Paul only 104. The effect, it would seem, is that Paul is more popular with the people who donate to elections. Unfortunately for him, money doesn’t win elections. Yet fundraising ability is still a great predictor for election outcome, because donors are investors in campaigns, and no one likes to throw their money away.

 

The fact that Paul raised so much money probably means that a lot of people agree with what he’s saying, which makes sense given that a majority of Americans might actually be Libertarian — whether they know it or not. In any case, it must feel very good for him that after 40 years of campaigning and prophesying, the Libertarian platform has gained enough ground to make him a household name. Given that his popularity has been driven substantially by young people — not to mention celebrities from Kelly Clarkson to Vince Vaughn to Snoop Dog — who want to see the TSA abolished, pot legalized, wars ended, and disappearing entitlements revamped, it seems likely that the movement will continue to grow.

 

See also:

From The LA Times and The New York Times, via Slashdot

‘Mad Men’ On Romney

Mittens Romney‘s father, George Romney, was CEO of American Motors Corporation (which in the ’80s became the Jeep part of Chrysler) until 1963, when he became Governor of Michigan; he followed this by being the Secretary of HUD in 1969 and then retiring in 1973. Since Mad Men is set in the ’60s, during George Romney’s governorship, the writers decided to weigh in on this year’s elections, in a 1966 kind of way: Betty’s new husband, who is a campaign adviser for New York politicians, at one point says on the phone:

Well, tell Jim His Honor’s not going to Michigan.

[pause]

Because Romney’s a clown and I don’t want him standing next to him.

From YouTube, via NPR

Mr. Romney Sounds A Lot Like Mr. Burns

 

From MAD Magazine, via Neatorama

Fun With Newt

Firstly, it turns out that back in the ’70s, Newt Gingrich used to look exactly like Dwight Schrute.

 

Rainn Wilson, the actor who plays Dwight, must’ve also thought this was funny because for a while, he changed his Twitter picture to an old one of Newt.

 

Secondly, The Onion is reporting that a time traveler from the year 1998 has appeared earlier this week, warning people that in his time, Newt Gingrich is a nefarious, adulterous hypocrite:

WASHINGTON—Saying he came bearing an important message from the past, a stranger from the year 1998 appeared on the Capitol steps Thursday and urged voters not to elect Newt Gingrich president in 2012. “In the late 20th century, Newt Gingrich is a complete disgrace!” said the time-traveling man, warning Americans that 14 years in the not-so-distant past, Gingrich becomes the only speaker in the history of the House of Representatives to be found guilty on ethics charges, and is later forced to resign. “In my time, he shuts down the federal government for 28 days because his feelings get hurt over having to sit at the back of Air Force One. Gingrich gets our president impeached for lying about marital infidelities when, at the same time, Gingrich himself is engaged in his own extramarital affairs. And for God’s sake, he divorced his first wife after she was diagnosed with cancer. Won’t anyone listen to me?!?” When asked about Donald Trump, the time-traveler said he had no information on the man, as no one from 1998 cared about a “washed-up fake millionaire.”

 

And finally, someone made a YouTube video called “You’re A Mean One, Newt Gingrinch,” which mostly highlights how much Newt hates kids and his wives, but set to the theme music of How The Grinch Stole Christmas:

Via Happy Place, The Onion, and YouTube

Ron Paul Is Raising Cash To Abolish The TSA

The latest of Ron Paul’s moneybombs has a goal of raising 250k$ as a rally to end the TSA — in the unlikely event that Ron is elected. This comes on the heels of Ron Paul’s son, Senator Rand Paul being detained by the TSA on January 23rd. (Rand is short for Randal and used to go by Randy — he is strangely not named after the libertarian queen, Ayn Rand.) The naked body scanners at the airports, which are notoriously unreliable, picked up an anomaly in his leg, so the TSA wanted to do a pat-down. Rand refused and offered to go through the scanner again, but the TSA wouldn’t have any of that. Eventually, they let him go through security again, but not until he missed his flight.

 

Ron Paul introduced legislation in Congress in 2010 that would remove immunity for federal employees (like the TSA’s) from actions that regular people can’t take — actions like groping and taking pictures with x-ray glasses. He reintroduced the bill in the current Congress.

Ending the TSA is nothing new, either: thanks to the well-documented theatrics of airport security, a petition to abolish the TSA was the fourth most popular petition on the White House’s website; the head the TSA answered the petition and said he thinks his job matters. The Congressman who created the TSA though, disagrees; as do Congressional Republicans, who called for an overhaul of the mammoth failure of an agency.

If you want to donate to the End The TSA Moneybomb, you can do so at Ron Paul’s 2012 campaign website.

See also:

 

From Ron Paul, via USA Today

Ron Paul Is A Prophet Now

A video of Ron Paul giving a speech on the floor of Congress in April of 2002 has been going around, because it’s five minutes of him making roughly a baker’s dozen predictions about major events of the following decade.

Let’s see how he did:

Mr. Speaker, our government intervention in the economy, the private affairs of citizens and the internal affairs of foreign countries leads to uncertainty and many unintended consequences. Here are some of the consequences about which we should be concerned:

I predict US taxpayers will pay to rebuild Palestine — both the West Bank and the Gaza, as well as Afghanistan. US taxpayers paid to bomb these areas, so we will be expected to rebuild them.

Accurate, but also just common sense. We give a lot of aid and weaponry to Israel, which uses them to bomb Palestine, and we also give a lot of aid to Palestine. The Afghanis are so poor, they definitely can’t be expected to pay for reconstruction themselves, and a functioning country is in our interest so that it doesn’t become a breeding ground for terrorism again.

 

Peace of sorts will come to the Middle East, but will be short-lived. There will be big promises of more US money and weapons flowing to Israel and to Arab countries allied with the United States. US troops and others will be used to monitor the peace. In time, an oil boycott will be imposed with oil prices soaring to historic highs.

Somewhat accurate. Again, a lot of this is common sense: peace comes and goes in the Middle East, and America provides a lot of money and weapons in the area, as well as most of the global peacekeeping forces via the UN and NATO. While there was no oil boycott, the price of oil did skyrocket in the middle of the decade, for a variety of reasons. But Iran has been threatening to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, through which a lot of the world’s oil flows, so he could be proven completely right.

The price of oil peaked in 2008

 

 

Current Israeli-United States policies will solidify Arab Muslim nations in their effort to avenge the humiliation of the Palestinians. This will include those Muslim nations that in the past have fought against each other. Some of our moderate Arab allies will be overthrown by Islamic fundamentalists.

Mostly inaccurate. The only part that came true was the overthrow of Arab leaders in the Arab Spring, but it had nothing to do with American policies or Israel and everything to do with the global recession. While he predicted the effect, he didn’t predict the cause, and therefore the roots of the prediction tree are poisonous. Also, Arab leaders are pretty routinely overthrown, so again, it’s common sense to say that it’ll happen again soon.

 

The UN will continue to condemn, through resolutions, Israeli-US policies in the Middle East and they will be ignored. Some European countries will clandestinelly support the Muslim countries and their anti-Israel pursuits. China, ironically assisted by American aid, much more openly will sell the militant Muslims the weapons they want and will align herself with the Arab nations.

Somewhat accurate. This is more common sense: the same story has been repeating for years. European companies love doing business with Arab countries because they have a lot of money. China, as a growing economy thirsty for energy, has to align itself with Arab countries in order to guarantee its energy supply. It should be noted that when he says that China is assisted by American aid, he probably doesn’t mean direct aid, but rather that a lot of American money ends up in Chinese factories.

 

United States, with Tony Blair as head cheerleader, will attack Iraq without proper authority in a major war, the largest since World War II will result.

Accurate. This may not have been that hard to see coming a year before it actually happened, but is still kind of impressive.

 

Major moves will be made by China, India, Russia and Pakistan in central Asia, to take advantage of the chaos for the purpose of grabbing land, resources and strategic advantages sought after for years.

Somewhat accurate. No “major moves” have taken place, but Russia has been dealing with Iran a lot, especially with respect to their nuclear ambitions, and to a lesser extent, with India. China and Pakistan have become close allies. Pakistani terrorists attacked India in 2006 and 2008.

 

The Karzai government will fail and US military presence will end in Afghanistan.

Inaccurate. Assuming that by “fail” he meant that it will be overthrown, or that at least he would be voted out of office, those things did not come to pass. The US military presence is also still there, but it does stand to reason that it will end at some point.

 

An international dollar crisis will dramatically boost interest rates in the United States. Price inflation with a major economic downturn will decimate US federal government finances amid exploding deficits and uncontrolled spending. Federal reserve policy will continue at an expanding rate with massive credit expansion, which will make the dollar crisis worse. Gold will be seen as an alternative to paper money as it returns to its historic role as money.

Accurate. This prediction is one of the most impressive, in that he foresaw the Great Recession. The cause wasn’t an international “dollar crisis” as much as an international money laundering crisis vis-à-vis the securities repackaging, but it’s close enough. The price inflation that came with the housing bubble contributed to the recession, which caused national debt to more than triple due to deficits and uncontrolled spending. The price of gold more than quadrupled since 2000.

 

 

 

Erosion of civil liberties here at home will continue, as our government responds to political fear in dealing with the terrorist threat by making generous use of the powers obtained with the Patriot Act.

Accurate. This may have been just libertarian common sense, but since the Patriot Act came into being, America has become heavily surveilled and the law itself has been abused all along to encroach on our civil liberties.

 

Many American military personnel and civilians will be killed in the coming conflict. The leaders of whichever side loses the war will be hauled into and tried before the International Criminal Court, for war crimes. The United States will not lose the war, but neither will we win. Our military and political leaders will not be tried by the International Criminal Court.

Somewhat accurate. Many civilians were killed in the Iraq war — in the hundreds of thousands — but not that many American soldiers. No one was hauled before the International Criminal Court (ICC), though Saddam was tried. America did neither lose nor win the war, though it did succeed in reshaping the country. And of course, no American leaders were tried by the ICC.

The reason he mentioned the ICC so much was probably because it was a hot-button issue back in 2002, which is when it came into being. The court only has jurisdiction in countries that have signed the corresponding treaty, which the US has never ratified; at the time of Ron Paul’s speech, there was a lot of debate on the subject.

 

Map of the ICC member states; those in green ratified the treaty, those in orange signed it but did not ratify

 

The Congress and the President will shift radically toward expanding the size and scope of the federal government. This will satisfy both the liberals and the conservatives. Military and police powers will grow, satisfying the conservatives. The welfare state, both domestic and international, will expand, satisfying the liberals. Both sides will endorse military adventurism overseas. This is the most important of my predictions.

Accurate. The government has expanded dramatically in the decade after 9/11. The military, due to fighting two wars. The federal police apparatus was consolidated under the new Department of Homeland Security (formed several months after this speech), and its powers have grown, alongside with local police. The country is well on the way to becoming a panopticon, in which police can see everything  through the use of red-light cameras, scanners on police cars, and even flying drones.

The welfare state has also expanded, partly due to the ever-aging population that requires more government aid, partly due to the passage of the healthcare overhaul, and partly due to the high unemployment rate, which has required extensions of unemployment benefits.

And both sides endorsed military adventurism in Libya.

 

Policy changes could prevent all of the previous predictions from occurring. Unfortunately, that will not occur.

In due course, the Constitution will continue to be steadily undermined, and the American republic further weakened. During the next decade, the American people will become poorer and less free, while they become more dependent on the government for economic security.

Accurate. In the ten years following his speech, we have undoubtedly become poorer and less free, thanks to the Great Recession and the Patriot Act. And due to the volatility of the economy and high unemployment, government is the single biggest source of economic security.

 

The war will prove to be divisive with emotions and hatred growing between the various factions and special interests that drive our policies in the Middle East. Aggitation from more class warfare will succeed in dividing us domestically. And believe it or not, I expect lobbyists will thrive more than ever during the dangerous period of chaos.

Accurate. The Iraq War was almost as divisive as the Vietnam War. And class warfare culminated in the Tea Party and Occupy Movements.

 

I have no timetable for these predictions, but just in case, keep them around and look at them in 5 to 10 years. Lets hope and pray that I’m wrong on all accounts. If so, I will be very pleased.

 

In the end, is he a prophet? Obviously not: his more specific predictions (on the middle East, Afghanistan) betray his fallibility. And some of them were simply common sense. But many, including the most important ones, were almost clairvoyant: the Iraq War, the Great Recession, the rise of the police state, the government’s financial problems, the Occupy Movement. All of these could not have been predicted by mere chance.

Clearly Ron Paul has no superpowers, but it’s also clear that he does have something: excellent powers of observation and logic that allowed him to make a remarkably accurate guess at the general direction in which the country was heading.

 

From YouTube

Money Doesn’t Buy Elections

It’s fairly obvious that the candidate with the most money usually wins the election, but it turns out that the money is not responsible for the win. In other words, this is a “correlation does not imply causation” scenario: while there really is a correlation between the size of the war chest and winning the election, the war chest does not cause the victory. In general, there are three ways to explain the correlation:

  • Maybe the large war chest causes the victory
  • Maybe the victory causes the large war chest
  • Maybe both the victory and large war chests are caused by a third factor

The second one can be thrown out, since the victory happens after the war chest has been amassed, so the option is impossible. Most people, however, forget about the third option and hence the logic goes “if victory can’t cause the war chest, then the war chest must cause victory.” In this case though, the answer actually is the third option: candidates that are likable get more donations and win elections. That third factor causes both outcomes.

As much as he tried, Steve Forbes couldn't buy an election

 

We know this, because a story on Marketplace points to a study in which the researchers looked at Congressional elections and tried to isolate the effect money had on the outcome of the election. The result: doubling their spending got candidates a mere 1% more of the popular vote. They also point to would-be politicians who spent a lot of money but never got anywhere, like Steve Forbes and Meg Whitman.

So the thinking that money buys elections is a fallacy of our brain wiring: the size of campaign donations are just a predictor of how the candidate will do in the general election, because donors are just a sample of the general population.

From Marketplace

Not Living In A Nanny State Is Now A Radical Idea

On Monday, eight Republican presidential candidates showed up for a Tea Party debate in Tampa, and Ron Paul The Libertarian was among them. Everyone’s favorite CNN anchor, Wolf Blitzer, moderated the event and asked Ron Paul the following question:

“A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides, you know what? I’m not going to spend $200 or $300 a month for health insurance because I’m healthy, I don’t need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it.

“Who’s going to pay if he goes into a coma, for example? Who pays for that?”

Ron Paul’s answer was along the lines that freedom is all about making your own choices and taking the risks (and rewards) associated with them. But since his choice was to not pay for insurance, do we let him die? His answer was that it’s not the government’s job to take care of him, and pointed out that when he started practicing medicine in the ’60s, before Medicaid, people in the hypothetical guy’s position would get taken care of by family or charitable organizations like churches. Which is a very important distinction that’s been lost recently: government is a subset of society, not society itself. In other words, when Blitzer asked the question

But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?

what’s important to note is that it is not the same question as “should the government let him die?” The government is not the one and only institution in the country. As a society, of course we should not let him die, but as Ron Paul pointed out, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s the government’s job to help him. Other institutions, like charities and churches, have a specific mandate to help those in need and rolling their function into the government’s purview should not be a foregone conclusion.

Naturally, a lot of people in the authoritarian left are up in arms about Ron Paul’s answer, because to them the nanny state is the ideal solution. And to their credit, it does seem like an attractive one: instead of paying taxes AND health insurance, why not just pay taxes and have the government handle everything? It’s a lot less of a headache for everyone, plus no one falls through the cracks. Of course, there are a couple of problems with this line of thinking:

  • The same logic is easily extended to other services. Besides healthcare, we all need food and shelter, so instead of paying rent and groceries, why not just pay more taxes and get those things for free? Imagine having a guaranteed house and being able to walk into a grocery store and walking out with whatever you need without ever pulling out your wallet. If we all paid 80% in taxes and got all the essentials paid for by the government, we wouldn’t have to worry about anything, and still have walking-around money. Except, who decides how good of a house you get, or if you can get Nutella at the grocery store, or how often you can see a doctor? Your mom the government, not you. And how hard will you work, knowing that you won’t get a better house, food or health plan because you’re working harder? The reason America won World War II and the Cold War was because of our fantastic economy, and nothing else.
  • Over the past 50 or so years, Western governments have generally been good. They more or less do what’s right for the people without crushing too many freedoms. So we tend to live in that bubble and forget that this is an exception, not just with respect to other present-day governments (China, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia), but to human history (the Roman Empire, the feudal system, the Soviet sphere, Nazi Germany, etc). And without the proper safeguards in place, there is absolutely nothing to keep good government from turning evil.

Take a look a Venezuela: Chavez turned it into a nanny state by nationalizing the country’s profitable oil industry and using that money to pay for all kinds of social programs. Then he basically installed himself as dictator. Would it have been as easy for him to take power, were it not for the fact that the entire population depended on him for everything from healthcare to food subsidies?

Historically, Americans have depended on their government for very little besides national defense. But since the Great Depression and the idea of a safety net that arose from it, that has been changing a great deal. We now depend on the federal government for retirement, food subsidies, student loans, mortgages, highways, and for a large and growing number, even healthcare via Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA. And the more and more services that get added to the government’s menu, the harder it will be to slap away the hand that feeds us.

The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits. (Thomas Jefferson)

We’ve come a long way from Thomas Jefferson. Below, is the video of the exchange between Blitzer and Ron Paul, who will not be the next president, if for no other reason than he does not look presidential.

From NPR