Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sean Hannity is a Statist.

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In the last few days, Ron Paul has made a couple of appearances on Sean Hannity's shows, first his radio show and then his TV show. On both occasions he brought up a statement where Ron Paul was asked a leading question about the popularization of Paul's beliefs making statists like Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin obsolete. Paul was quoted in response to that question saying that they aren't really limited-government people, but instead make a living fooling people into believing so. Hannity, naturally, took exception to this while Paul politely redirected the question to comment on his colleagues who label themselves "conservative".

Sean further went on and on about how he deplored the rise in government run medicine, the rise in George W. Bush's deficits in his latter years and misappropriated money as evidence of his very un-statist-like nature.

However, Ron Paul did tell Hannity at the end of a radio interview last fall, "That proves you’re not owned by the establishment part of the Republican Party." (link) Sounds rather complimentary to me. I'm not quite so lenient.

The reality is that Sean Hannity is indeed a statist. He believes in using centralized force to achieve purely political goals. He makes no bones about being very interventionist in his foreign policy in countries that pose no imminent danger to our country. Hannity backed W's venture into Iraq. In fact, he went as far as to say, "You know, we have every right to go in there and frankly take all their oil and make them pay for the liberation." (YouTube Link) Does that sound like limited-government?

Never mind his thinking process is outrageous to invade a country, kill hundreds of thousands of their citizens, and then demand payment for it. That's not too far removed from breaking into an abused kid's home, killing the parents and saying, "Now pay me for freeing you of your tormentors," shortly after camping on his couch while he screams for you to leave.

"Well, that's military," you might say, "he has a point on killing those who may someday, somehow, without any resources, want to kill us." Okay, then surely he's limited-government in his social views.

Well, Hannity does not seem to favor the legalization of gay marriage, which is just another way of saying that the government has an obligation to prevent two consenting adults from taking advantage of the same legal rights that others have solely because of the group society places them in (I come from the view that they're individuals, not two people in a group). Mr "Conservative" also favors the use of force on individuals who choose to use particular drugs, namely those the state forbids. (YouTube link)

That's essentially what statism is. According to Google, it's a "political system in which the state has substantial centralized control over social and economic affairs". You see, Hannity is a conservative, limited-government fanatic so long as those limits favor his personal ideologies such as drug use and marriage. He favors government profiling in airports, which is another way of saying the government should be allowed to collect information on each of us and then say which US citizens can and cannot travel. If that's not what he means then the program he suggests makes absolutely no sense. Of course, he flip-flops on whether he supports wiretapping on citizens, the Patriot Act and such other things that limited-government advocates need not think twice about.

Apparently, Sean also favors government forcing a health care savings account. (YouTube link) To be fair, I'm not entirely sure if he's recommending that Americans *should* have one, or if he wants the government to replace the current medicaid/care programs with savings accounts. The former is simply advice, the latter is more statism, and frankly, he's already over his limit. Not that statists care about such things.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Stats on CNN Anderson Cooper Debate 10-18-11

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Welcome to the wild wild west. There were some hay makers thrown, Mitt Romney mocking Rick Perry's past debate performances, Perry countering with allegations of Romney hiring illegal immigrants, as well as Ron Paul repudiating the field on state's rights & Occupy Wall Street. Jon Stewart will have a blast with this one. Herman Cain was either defending his 999 tax plan or turning the conversation to food. Pizza, fruits and breads, the man is a veritable kitchen of "alternative energy" possibilities.

Who received the talking time? Romney, as usual, however, with Jon Huntsman sitting this debate out there was more time to go around and it would seem it benefited the rest of the usually-ignored candidates. Mitt spoke 15:11, or nearly 21% of the total talk-time, Rick Perry got in 11:01, but Ron Paul finally got into double figures with 10:05. While this is a bump up from his previous high of 9:19 (MSNBC/Politico Debate), the real shock was that a day after putting out the most ambitious budget plan of any candidate, to cut one Trillion dollars in his first year of office, there was hardly any mention of it by Anderson Cooper except in passing to ask about cutting military spending. Instead, there was a lot of bickering about Herman Cain's 999 tax plan, which he did nothing to defend other than distract the issue.

While Romney and Perry once again dominated the majority of the Republican candidates' speaking time, their feud did nothing to help their image and may end up as time poorly spent. When a new topic finally popped up, Yucca Mountain, you could hear a pregnant pause as everyone held their breath waiting to see what Ron Paul had to say. A telling moment that shows the field is not confident in their philosophy, as they don't have one unless "just get elected" qualifies.

Tracking time was the most difficult yet with all the temper tantrums on display, so the time is tracked at some points twice, adding a few seconds to the total time as it was double counted in places. Also, these brief roughshod exchanges are counted in one turn talking rather than broken up into 5 turns each, as they only comprise milliseconds here and there. Here are the statistics on how much each candidate spoke and engaged during the debate:

Total Talk % of Talk Time
Romney 15:11 20.78%
Perry 11:01 15.09%
Ron Paul 10:05 13.80%
Bachmann 09:58 13.64%
Santorum 09:50 13.46%
Cain 09:06 12.45%
Gingrich 07:53 10.79%
Total 1:13:04 100.00%
*Note: This is uninterrupted talking time, except for audience cheer/applause in the middle of a response as this goes against their official response time. Does not include opening self-introductions.

Turns Talking %
Romney 18 19.78%
Perry 15 16.48%
Cain 15 16.48%
Ron Paul 12 13.19%
Bachmann 11 12.09%
Gingrich 10 10.99%
Santorum 10 10.99%
Total 91 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Gingrich 07:14 12:12
Bachmann 06:56 08:29
Santorum 05:50 19:49
Ron Paul 04:38 13:01
Cain 04:27 12:02
Perry 03:57 09:02
Romney 03:20 08:25

Questions Responses Follow-ups
Perry 8 7 0
Bachmann 7 3 1
Gingrich 7 2 1
Cain 7 7 1
Santorum 7 3 0
Romney 6 11 1
Ron Paul 6 6 0
Total 48 39 4
*Note: Followups are moderators asking for another response directly after a question. Responses are candidates taking shots at each other.

Quote of the night: "If you want better competition, better health care, you should allow the American people to opt out of government medicine...we need more competition in medicine...as soon as you go to the government, the lobbyists line up, the drug companies line up, the insurance companies line up.." - Ron Paul

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ron Paul's First Compromise? An Unbalanced Budget.

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Ron Paul has dropped his latest atomic bomb on the rest of the candidates: his proposed budget. Taking a chainsaw to the Federal budget, he manages to cut a trillion dollars in his first year by deleting five cabinet departments. Department of Energy, Education, Interior, Commerce and HUD (Housing and Urban Development), plus numerous other departments within various governmental sections. He also accomplishes this by stopping the wars and bringing home our troops. Expect the rest of the field to emulate his latest move at any moment. The man is on a roll.


Ron Paul is about to be a victim of his own success. The man of conviction has seemingly made his first compromise. Understand that a Ron Paul compromise looks nothing like the compromises of other candidates. This isn't Barack Obama campaigning to restore civil liberties and then assassinating a US citizen. This isn't Mitt Romney passing Romneycare and then condemning the same program under his rival. It's not even Rick Perry clamoring for state's rights and then proposing an amendment to force states on how to handle marriage. It's Ron Paul taking three years to balance the budget instead of one.

Many Ron Paul supporters will decimate me for pointing out something they view as trivial. I won't let my support be so blind. I was taught to have political principles, and that by ceding the principle I cede the point. Ron Paul taught me that.

On his own 2012 campaign website Ron Paul states:

"As President, Ron Paul will lead the way out of this crisis by:
* Vetoing any unbalanced budget Congress sends to his desk."

It's at the top of his list. This is a compromise. Perhaps it is splitting hairs, but Ron Paul is a man of conviction. If he'll veto a congress-passed unbalanced budget, why should he be submitting a proposal that doesn't live up to his own standard?

In the continuing age of political corruption, Ron Paul has managed to set himself up as the man of philosophy and principle by such valiant moves such as rejecting a congressional retirement plan and in this new budget proposal he even makes the symbolic gesture of cutting his own salary by over $360,000 by going from a Presidential salary of $400,000 down to an everyman average of $39,336, that's principle.

Ron Paul, find $313 Billion to cut out of year one, it's a small price to keep your impeccable name intact.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bloomberg WaPo GOP Debate Statistics on Candidate Talking Time

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Out with the old and in with the...old? Back by popular demand, Mitt Romney was the man of the hour, nearly doubling the talking time of the nearest candidate Rick Perry. Speaking for 16:10 (mm:ss), Mitt Romney's face-time took up over 25% of the total time given to candidates for talking. Rick Perry, with 8:49 (and still good enough for 2nd most spoken), has truly fallen from grace when no one is taking shots at him anymore, 0 responses, as opposed to the 4 responses from the last debate with Fox. Also, he's not garnering the most opportunities to speak, 11, though still getting better treatment than some such as Ron Paul, who only had 5 turns talking, 1 of which he self-created.

In terms of polling, Romney, Cain, Perry and Paul are the only consistent candidates polling in double digits, with Perry quickly spiraling down in recent polls. However, rather than letting Ron Paul speak the philosophy that's garnered such a huge following, there were two entire segments where he did not speak at all, waiting 26 minutes and 30 seconds between turns talking. I guess the economy isn't the only sector living in a bubble.

Romney was the biggest winner, statistically speaking, by receiving a whopping 18 talking opportunities, 6 of which were followups from the moderators. In terms of fleshing out the newest storyline, however, Herman Cain joined the pack of lead dogs by getting ahead of Perry in turns talking (14) and a number of opponents' attacks prompted 3 responses and 3 followups in addition to his 9 direct questions, overall talking for 7:36, which is 4th overall, behind Romney, Perry and Bachmann (8:17).

Who waited the most between pontifications? Rick Santorum, thankfully, waiting nearly 15 minutes on average. Behind Santorum Huntsman and Ron Paul waited 11:48 and 11:38, respectively.

However, why Huntsman, Santorum and Gingrich are still in these debates is beyond me. The lifeless corpse of their campaigns shows they have no funds, and they have no following. The 17 minutes of time talking they took could have been better used by speaking to the people who are raising money and polling well. Not that Cain is raising any money, but at least he's got a few weeks before he's forgotten again in the polls.

Either stick with the "this is any man's game" theme, and let Gary Johnson in as well, or delete them from the debates. The stats show you're picking our frontrunners for us, and giving the illusion that Paul deserves less talking time than Gingrich, Huntsman and Bachmann, who are all polling behind him.

For a debate revolving around economics and politics, there wasn't a lot of math or thought involved. On second thought, that is the theme of our government, so maybe it's a highly evolved satirical take? Well played Bloomberg, you almost fooled me.

Here are the Debate Statistics:

Total Talk %
Romney 0:16:10 25.63%
Perry 0:08:49 13.98%
Bachmann 0:08:17 13.13%
Cain 0:07:36 12.05%
Gingrich 0:06:19 10.02%
Huntsman 0:05:47 9.17%
Ron Paul 0:05:13 8.27%
Santorum 0:04:53 7.74%
Total 1:03:04 100.00%
*Note: This is uninterrupted talking time, except for audience cheer/applause in the middle of a response as this goes against their official response time. Does not include moderators' time for questions/interactions.

Turns Talking %
Romney 18 24.00%
Cain 14 18.67%
Perry 11 14.67%
Bachmann 8 10.67%
Huntsman 8 10.67%
Gingrich 6 8.00%
Ron Paul 5 6.67%
Santorum 5 6.67%
Total 75 100.00%

Avg b/w Talks Longest Wait
Santorum 0:14:48 0:24:28
Huntsman 0:11:48 0:25:52
Ron Paul 0:11:38 0:26:30
Gingrich 0:09:26 0:29:02
Bachmann 0:07:39 0:13:44
Perry 0:06:15 0:20:06
Cain 0:05:23 0:15:35
Romney 0:04:47 0:14:43

Questions Responses Followups
Romney 11 2 6
Perry 9 0 3
Cain 9 3 3
Bachmann 7 0 1
Ron Paul 4 1 0
Gingrich 4 2 0
Huntsman 4 2 2
Santorum 3 1 1
Total 51 11 16
*Note: Followups are moderators asking for another response directly after a question. Responses are candidates taking shots at each other, with the exception of Gingrich responding unprompted twice to no one in particular, and Paul once as well.

Are these numbers what you were hoping for, or was your candidate slighted? Shout out in the comments.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Occupy Austin's Objectives Under the Microscope

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As stated and apparently ratified on their "official" site:

  1. This movement is about democracy. We demand that the government be truly responsive to those it represents. We demand an end to the massive corporate influence blocking the voice of the people by eliminating corporate personhood and limiting monetary contributions to political campaigns and lobbying.
  2. This movement is about economic security. We demand effective reforms to prevent banks and financial institutions from causing future economic crises.
  3. This movement is about corporate responsibility. We demand strict repercussions for corporations and institutions who cause serious financial damage to our country and its taxpayers.
  4. This movement is about financial fairness. We demand tax reforms to ensure that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes.
I don't disagree in totality, nor in sentiment. I just think there's some things that are missing the mark. Asking to limit lobbying sounds good, it sounds like a reasonable populist demand, but lobbying is really only the ability to talk to our government, and I don't care to see any limitations on that as it may affect my ability to talk to my representatives. Then who gets to do the talking? Those in high places. I think it becomes a feedback loop of further corruption.

I would be in favor of placing some extreme spotlights on our Elected Officials though. Whether it's a log of everyone they meet with, a webcam in their office or some kind of forced email newsletter people can subscribe to that details everything they do in legislation, from new legislation (and who actually wrote it) to what they voted for or against. I'd particularly be in favor of legislation that said something like "for every XX number of pages in proposed legislation there must be XX number of days before voting is allowed".

Goal #2 is a little vague. Asking for "reforms to prevent banks and financial institutions from causing future economic crises" can be taken in a lot of different ways. My assumption is that this is a request for more regulations to watch the "big bad wolves". My view is that the free market is the only true regulator when coordinated with a legal system that upholds contracts and property rights. There were tons of regulations in place before the housing collapse, there were people who saw the housing bubble before it happened, there were people begging regulators to look at Madoff long before he got busted. None of that mattered, because regulators are either sloppy, bought, or overwhelmed.

What does matter is that you have a Federal Reserve pumping money to whomever it pleases. The domestic monetary policies are the source for our current mess, an unending expansion of credit creates an unsustainable boom leading to the inevitable bust. Now, if the goal of #2 is to audit and impede the Fed and repeal legal tender laws allowing the market to set interest rates and choose currencies, then I'm game.

Goal #3 is vague as well. I wholeheartedly agree, there should be repercussions for corporate irresponsibility. I call it bankruptcy. I desperately hope the Occupy Austin crowd is not Pro-Bailout and Pro-Stimulus, because it would be a terrible lack of consistent principles. That covers both George W. Bush & Barack Obama, they both did their fair share of bailing out. So voting for Obama again is a mistake, as well as anyone looking to carry Bush's torch. However, looking to pass any laws that attempt to make it worse for companies going bust is ripe with the potential for further corruption.

Goal 4 sounds solid as well, depending on your view of that goal's intent. "We demand tax reforms to ensure that corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes." If tax reforms mean that "rich people pay more", I think it'll fail. By principle, I favor equality. I think it's fair and equal for everyone to pay the exact same tax percentage/rate. I think the more complex you make a tax code the easier it is for the elite to take advantage. I would support the goal to erase the existing tax code in favor of something uber-simple. Whether that means making states collect the income tax (thereby eliminating the IRS) or just reducing it to a flat rate, I'd support that, hopefully it'd be a transition out of the income tax altogether.

I love that people are so passionate to protest. I think civil disobedience is a great way to raise awareness. I also think our country has a great democratic system in our Republic, we can choose our officials. So voting is the most constructive way of bringing change. I think this movement's alleged stated goals are good and bad, depending on your views of what they really mean.

The same fire that heats your home will burn it down. The streets are fuming, let's find the hearth.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Response to Brent Budowsky: Ron Paul is a Big Bank's Nightmare

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Brent Budowsky recently criticized Ron Paul supporters for being "8-year-old crybabies", which, honestly, is how some Paul supporters conduct themselves. For these Paulites every slight is a conspiracy by the NWO and the way to respond to these slights is to kick and scream with ad hominem attacks that would make Rick "Christian by faith, Darwinian by military right" Santorum proud.

To be fair, Brent, you do cover Ron Paul far more often than anyone else dares to, and you are very evenhanded while doing so, in your own economically-uninformed way. So, I do appreciate you pulling Ron Paul out of the media quarantine for the occasional update on his campaign and standings. However, in my experience, far more Paulites are rather lucid and methodical in understanding the issues and where arguments fall flat in their philosophic underpinnings.

Now, which of those respond to your column? No idea.

What I do know is that Brent Budowsky has clearly demonstrated his supreme lack of economic understanding of what Ron Paul represents.

First, Budowsky wrote: "The very bad news for Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Chris Christie and those Republicans who take big money from big bailed-out banks as donations, and then carry their water in Washington, is that they will be exposed again." If Ron Paul is a corporate shill this will be the first anyone has heard of it, and before you can be "exposed again", please refer me to your writeup that exposed Ron Paul for being in the pocket of corporations for the first time. Paul wanted banks to FAIL, as determined by the non-cronyist free market. By that same token he wants them to succeed. When the market chooses, that's the people who are choosing. This means no subsidies, no bailouts. A corporatist nightmare.

So, to then claim "The fact is that Ron Paul supports a very extreme version of laissez-faire economics that is God's gift to big banks." is absolute nonsensical at best, and punditry flatulence at worst. Austrian Economics, which is the school of economics that Paul subscribes to, does not allow for a housing bubble to occur. To understand this you have to know that financial bubbles come from pure credit expansion that leads to a gold-rush in speculation for a product the market isn't truly calling for, which means the prices are rising artificially (you can't pump in money and not see inflation, just ask Healthcare and Higher Education) and are destined for an implosion once the credit expansion stops or the resources are found to not be in supply as the market assumes.

What credit expansion? The Fed's credit expansion. In coordination with the CRA, Fannie & Freddie. In Ron Paul's view, banks would never have received their handout that led to the collapse.

May I recommend Thomas Woods' "Meltdown" for starters? As evenhanded as you do often come across, finish it up by gaining the economic view that actually predicted the housing bubble, as Ron Paul did.

Then you'd also see why your next statement is a non-issue: "The issue is that his approach is what let the banks get away with murder, which caused the bailout in the first place, and after the bailout he continues these same extreme laissez-faire policies that tolerate rip-offs like the new Bank of America fee."

Ridiculous. The only cause of the bailout were the politicians voting for it. That, and the Federal Reserve handing it out without any oversight whatsoever, because we all know that Ron Paul favors complete secrecy by the Federal Reserve. (That's sarcasm. For the uninitiated, Ron Paul has made it his 40 year crusade to topple the Fed.)

Oh, and you do realize no one is forced to stick with Bank of America, right? Leave the bank, and stop acting like an 8-year-old crybaby.