Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Perry veers into Ron Paul Territory

Monetary policy is treasonous, according to a Republican candidate expected to do fairly well at this point. It's going to be interesting to see what bloggers I follow approve of/cheer this. It makes me wonder why I waste any time with people that think like this (which is of course not to say that all Austrians/libertarians do). You can only argue with ideologues for so long - then it's time to focus on other things. Most of the people that are attracted to this sort of thing (and talk of tyrants/statists/central planners/fascists/traitors, etc.) do it because it's anti-establishment and counter-cultural. It's worth confronting because these narratives can put people like Rick Perry, Ron Paul, or Michelle Bachmann in power (maybe not during a normal election, but during a very tough time like this) that actually believe this and would be very bad for the country.

Andrew Sullivan says talk like this disqualifies someone from being president. I agree. The scary thing is I could see everyone in the field except for Huntsman and Romney saying something like this.


  1. Rick Perry does a lot of grandstanding, does he not? Such as his secession comment?

    I am not alarmed. Come on, here in the Third World, while the governments are already moderately anti-business, politicians who bear their teeth, foam at the mouth, and threaten to do even worse things to the "capitalists who are eating this country",.etc typically never follow on their threats.

  2. http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-august-15-2011/indecision-2012---corn-polled-edition---ron-paul---the-top-tier

    Anyway, I think comparing what Paul has said about the Fed to what Perry has said in this soundbite is not a terribly useful comparison.

    Andrew Sullivan also thought the Iraq war was a good idea. That's what I think of old Sullivan.

    "Most of the people that are attracted to this sort of thing (and talk of tyrants/statists/central planners/fascists/traitors, etc.) do it because it's anti-establishment and counter-cultural."

    And you did this bit of arm-chair psycho-babble based on what exactly?

    "...and would be very bad for the country."

    Obama is bad for the country. Unfortunately when he loses he'll be replaced by the likes of Romney or Rick Perry.

  3. Your opening sentence is a lie, and thus the rest of your blog post dedicated to looking down at such brainwashed simpletons based on the opening lie, is invalid.

    When you quote someone, you have to actually quote them. Not summarize. In the video you embed in this blog post I noticed Perry said, "printing more money at this point...would be almost treasonous."

    Compare and contrast that with your interpretation which you masquerade as a direct quote.

  4. Robert Fellner,

    Well, really what Perry is saying here is bad monetary policy or partisan monetary policy is almost treasonous. Since Obama gets to ramble on about how those who oppose his positions are putting party before country I'm not quite sure what is offensive about Perry's remarks; they are saying essentially the same thing.

  5. Robert - I'm not lying about anything and I don't appreciate being accused of that. I also don't think anybody is being brainwashed just because I don't think they've taken what I consider to be a poor position on an issue, and I also never said anything about them being simpletons. What I've said is that the "end the Fed" position is a trendy one and that explains a large portion of the movement. How you got "brainwashed simpletons" from that is beyond me.

    The more egregious thing is not the policy position these people have - it's the devotion to personalities. You can't criticize Ron Paul by name or put even a little pressure on him without being overwhelmed by people who buy into the Ron Paul personality cult. Look at what happened to Andolfatto for his post criticizing Ron Paul's views on monetary policy. It's the personality cult that is more bothersome than the problematic policy views.

  6. Gary -
    One can fail to prioritize the country without being treasonous. Why are words like "statist", "fascist" and "traitor" and their variants whipped out so easily? Usually those sorts of excesses bother you, but apparently not uniformally.

  7. Robert Fellner,

    Anyway, what is and is not beyond the pale for commentators says more about the prior political commitments of the person making the "beyond the pale" claim than it does about the politician.

    The fact is that liberals make "treason" claims all the time themselves: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/10/thomas-roberts-treason-congress_n_923114.html

    So what this really is a partisan response to a partisan claim. Nothing to see here; same shit different day (except for the partisans - who either see it as Perry standing up for what is right, or as the greatest threat to the republic since Bork nomination).




  8. Daniel,

    You know, when the Governor of Wisconsin was annoying that state's public union employees the word fascist was whipped out often (same with Puerto Rican governor Fortuno's efforts to reform Puerto Rico's government) along with equally unsavory terms; it is just part of the discourse. And no, I am not being selective; they aren't "excesses" - I very rarely find anything "excessive" about free speech.

  9. Gary - regarding your Thomas Roberts link - what exactly is that supposed to prove? The Roberts comment is as bad as the Perry comment. What's your point?

  10. That this sort of rhetoric is in the eye of the beholder.

  11. Daniel,

    For evidence of that one need look no further than Paul Krugman:

    _We don’t have proof yet that this was political, but the odds are that it was. She’s been the target of violence before. And for those wondering why a Blue Dog Democrat, the kind Republicans might be able to work with, might be a target, the answer is that she’s a Democrat who survived what was otherwise a GOP sweep in Arizona, precisely because the Republicans nominated a Tea Party activist. (Her father says that “the whole Tea Party” was her enemy.) And yes, she was on Sarah Palin’s infamous “crosshairs” list._

    I'm curious, has Krugman even backtracked on this since writing such an utterly moronic statement?

  12. "Printing more money at this point is almost treasonous." DK reports it as he said, "monetary policy is treasonous."

    You have substituted the whole (monetary policy) for one action of it (increasing the money supply.) Most importantly is the qualifier "almost." If something is almost finished, we know it is not finished. If something is almost round, we know it is not round. That's why we don't say, it is treason. It's not. It is almost treason.

    I almost donated money to Obama's campaign. If you then write a blog post saying that I said I donated money to Obama's campaign, I would call you a liar then too. That's not true. In fact if you reported Perry as saying, "monetary policy is not treasonous" while you would still be misquoting him, it would be more accurate than what you wrote.

    Note: I am not saying it would be accurate. I said it would be more accurate than what you wrote. See the difference and why it matters?

    If you simply posted your reply to me in the comments section as the original blog post, there would be no problem. I'm not sure if I agree or disagree with it, but at least it doesn't use a lie to frame and then base its entire argument on.

  13. Oh - "almost" was your only concern? That amounts to me being a liar?

    Fine - point granted. My objection to Perry remains, and my objection to being called a liar over something so trivial remains too.

  14. Robert Fellner,

    Well, more to the point, Perry doesn't say monetary policy is treasonous, he is basically arguing that it would be almost treasonous to pursue a particular kind of monetary policy - one which benefited the Obama Presidency. He could be criticizing the sort of effort undertaken by FDR in 1936 to boost his electoral chances.

  15. Daniel,

    Well, Paul Ryan may be about to cast his hat into the ring, so that would steal some of Perry's thunder.


  16. Rick Santorum weighs in: http://blog.chron.com/txpotomac/2011/08/rick-santorum-to-rick-perry-were-not-in-texas-anymore/

    Then again: http://articles.philly.com/2006-08-12/news/25396279_1_santorum-terror-plot-terror-threat

    Now just out of curiosity I looked at the language of Texas' treason statute (though there are few examples of such, it is possible to be tried at the state level for treason - the one example that comes readily to mind is the trial John Brown) and here is the pertinent language that I found:

    "Treason against the State shall consist only in levying war against it, or adhering to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort; and no person shall be convicted of treason except on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court."

    Note that this is not any sort of enabling language; these are just the bounds within which Texas can work to move toward a conviction for treason. The language is similar to what is found in the US Const. I had wondered if Texas' definition of treason was substantially different from that found at the federal level.

    Anyway, I doubt that Perry was getting at the legal definition of the term treason; he probably meant its use in the broader sense of betrayal. Thus we see people who claim that X is a "traitor" (has committed an act of treason) against their favorite sports team, their community, their ethnic group, their religion, etc.

  17. Robert,

    One of things you have to remember is that liberals will not brook any criticism of their worldview, which includes the notion that a strong central bank is somehow central to the workings of a civilized society. You challenge that orthodoxy and they flip out.

  18. Dead Man's Party -
    I think you'll find that liberals are considerably less preoccupied with central banking than most libertarians are, and this isn't central to their view at all. Even those who are aware of it aren't uniformly defensive of a strong central bank: look at Grayson, Kucinich, Sanders, etc. Some of the most leftist liberals around debunk your claim.

    I'm not sure what you qualify as "strong". I don't necessarily need a "strong" central bank or even a central central bank myself (ie - much more could be delegated to district banks if we wanted to go that way). I just don't see any reason to abandon it.

    It's like microwaves or tupperware. My grandparents got along fine without it for a while. I don't stake any orthodoxy on it, but what possible reason could there be to convince me we should forfeit the use of these innovations? Just because people find you utterly unconvincing doesn't mean they're dedicated to some orthodoxy.

  19. Daniel,

    "I think you'll find that liberals are considerably less preoccupied with central banking than most libertarians are..."

    That's belied by the fact that any time anyone criticizes central banking liberals lose at least one of their testicles due to the outrage which ensues.

    The primary difference between a microwave and central bank is that I can choose whether I want the former or not (I don't own one of the former - I'm not a huge fan of shitty food).

  20. Dead Man's Party,

    Modern conservatives and liberals are at heart "institutional conservatives"; that's not surprising - those institutions serve their respective political parties well.

    For those outside of that party apparatus institutions like the federal reserve, etc. are far less important, so criticizing their existence becomes more plausible. To a lot of people, being outside of that party apparatus, outside the party system as it were, is simply dangerous - their lies fascism is a common enough argument I hear. Indeed, it lies behind much of the paranoia the establishment has about just anything they can't control or otherwise put their stamp on.

  21. Dead Man's Party,

    More to the point, neither the modern liberal nor conservatives asks the primary question of Montaigne - que sçais-je? - instead they ask how does this (e.g., idea, fact, etc.) fit into the institutional framework which I defend?

  22. Go away Silas. I'm not in the mood to deal with people who accuse me of having a "latent tyrant" in me. Or a statist. Or whatever else.

  23. And proponents of democracy aren't in the mood to deal with someone who tells people they can't criticize inflationary monetary policy while being qualified to be president.

    Call it what you want, that's a very distorted opinion of democracy.

  24. I don't get why you defend the Fed so much. It's been an unambiguous failure for a century.

  25. http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-august-15-2011/indecision-2012---corn-polled-edition---rick-perry-announces-his-candidacy

  26. The Republican nominee is going to be the one that can be most like Ron Paul without being though of as being like Ron Paul.


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