The world turned upside down

upside down world by Richard0 – Catching

Noble: Let’s Have Perpetual War, But No Earmarks, Please
[Via Eunomia]

His dovish stance on the war on terror and his support for earmarking (the gateway drug to huge spending) won’t wear well with newly inspired activists worried about federal spending and the debt. Either you are a fiscal conservative, or you’re not. Unfortunately, Ron Paul is not at the most basic level. ~Sean Noble

This nicely captures the incoherence of the Republican anti-Paul critique. In this view, Paul is far too hostile to the warfare state and the tremendous costs it imposes on the public, which are not just fiscal but extend to lost civil liberties as well. Somehow, this is seen as incompatible with being “worried about federal spending and the debt,” as if military spending had nothing to do with either one. Despite his career of voting against pretty much every expansion of government and constantly voting for spending reductions, Paul is deemed insufficiently fiscally conservative because he has defended the use of the dreaded earmark. Earmarks are the targets of people who like to pretend they care about spending so that they can avoid advocating genuinely unpopular spending cuts. So-called fiscal conservatives who obsess over earmarks but ignore real entitlement reform, which would be almost all of them in Congress, have no business lecturing anyone about fiscal responsibility or fiscal conservatism. Obviously, if Ron Paul does not qualify as a fiscal conservative, no one does.


I started as a Republican 34 years ago and have been a moderate most of my life. One of the things I really disliked about Bush was he, along with the neocons, somehow made me a liberal because i was against the war, against the huge increase in military-industrial complex spending, against the lack of oversight of the Executive branch, against subversion of the Bill of Rights, against torture, against the corrupting influence of corporations in the political process.

Daniel and I may disagree on many things. I am not a Ron Paul fan at all. But we absolutely agree on this point:

It has never made much sense to me that there can be people who are furious with “big government” for excessive spending but who simultaneously have no problem vesting the same government with virtually limitless power to seize, detain, wiretap, attack and kill just about anyone it wants to target. […] Noble’s “worried” activists are people who are very familiar with the old line about a government big enough to give you everything you want, but they seem not to understand that the same danger of unchecked power is even greater when it applies to the government’s power to spy on communications, imprison and mistreat suspects, and start wars.

If more of the GOP wrote like this, I could see much greater areas of overlap in our political discourse. Unfortunately, so very few of the conservative leadership seems to want to do this.