John Stossel Again

Awhile back I did a post about John Stossel and the drug war.

Well, he’s done it again. Click the following link to read John Stossel on legalizing drugs.

Gay Marriage and the Ron Paul Girl

I just thought this was funny. The Ron Paul Girl on Gay Marriage:

Repent Sinners! – Gay Marriage in CA – video powered by Metacafe

Ron Paul and the Campaign for Liberty

Huge news in the Ron Paul movement. With his presidential campaign effectively over, Ron Paul announced the Campaign for Liberty. If you support Ron Paul, please join.

What I like most about it is the mission statement, and that the first item is: Promoting candidates for public office who share our commitment to freedom.

Moving the Ron Paul movement forward means going from one candidate for President to ten or more candidates for Congress, and down the road to hundreds and then thousands of candidates. These candidates will support the Ron Paul message of genuinely smaller government, more freedom, constitutional principles, sound money, and a non-interventionist foreign policy.

One of my tag lines for Steven Vasquez is “Don’t leave Ron Paul alone.” I love the fact that the movement is coming around to this idea. We need more than one Ron Paul. There are already some credible candidates like Vasquez. The more the merrier. And if Ron Paul can generate buzz, and most of all, funding, then we can seriously challenge the socialist establishment that is perpetuated by both major parties.

The Exaggeration Crisis

America faces an alarming crisis of epic proportions! Yes, I’m exaggerating, and that’s the problem. Everyone is exaggerating everything.

I saw this ad about the “climate crisis”:

Okay, it’s a little funny. But when did the climate change/global warming issue become a crisis? Even in the most extreme scenarios the biggest changes will take decades to occur. I always thought a crisis was something where the problems are happening now. Hurricane Katrina caused a crisis. If all the fears come true, then global warming might cause a crisis (or many crises) in the future. But it ain’t a crisis yet.

Now we’ve also got the tomato crisis. There’s some outbreak of people getting salmonella, and they’re pretty sure it’s coming from contaminated fresh tomatoes. This is national news, and many are calling it a crisis, including the USA Today (it’s several paragraphs down).

If I’ve got the numbers right, this has made a hundred or so people sick, with maybe a dozen hospitalized, and one guy actually died. This guy dying is of course a tragedy for his family and friends (and for him). But that does not make it a national emergency! One article I read (I can’t remember where) said that thousands of people get sick every year from contaminated fresh tomatoes. So how did this become a crisis all of a sudden?

And then I was watching some national news program and the newscaster referred to the flooding problem in the midwest as “heartbreaking devastation.” I’m feeling a little bit like Andy Rooney, but is there ever any devastation that isn’t heartbreaking? Maybe there’s a crisis of people building homes in flood zones, but am I really supposed to feel sad for the people who do that, when they get subsidized for their risky behavior with my tax dollars?

How about the federal government subsidizing those of us who don’t live in flood plains, earthquake zones, hurricane prone coastlines, or tornado alleys. I’m sure they’ll get around to it.

Trevor Lyman Rocks!

Just a quick note about one of the greatest Ron Paul supporters, Trevor Lyman. Trevor is the guy who organized the two money bombs, raising something like $10 million for the Ron Paul presidential campaign. That’s not all he did but that’s what stands out most to me and probably others.

Basically, Lyman channeled lightning twice. He’s doing some interesting stuff going forward. Along the lines of his earlier success, he’s organizing a money bomb for congressional candidates: My man Steven Vasquez is one of the candidates who’s in on it. If it goes well we’re hoping that the candidates endorsed by Ron Paul raise maybe $500K apiece. That would be a big deal. But even if it’s only $50K each it’s still a lot for our race.

The other interesting thing Lyman is working on (that I know of) is This is an attempt to overcome the problem of the mainstream media. I’m more optimistic about the chances of another money bomb, mainly because I think it’s worked before where the BTM idea is a little more challenging. But I’m rooting for him on both.

I actually had the pleasure of talking with Trevor a few days ago. This is one of the neat things about Ron Paul. A regular guy like me can talk to people at the highest levels of the movement. I’ve had conversations with Lew Moore (RP campaign manager), Joe Becker (campaign attorney), Tom Lizardo (congressional chief of staff), and now Trevor Lyman.

What I loved about Lyman was his underlying nature. He’s just a regular guy. He doesn’t think he’s anything special or that he knows more about things than anyone else. He still has that humility that is so lacking in others (including myself).

With a guy like Trevor Lyman, all of us in the Ron Paul movement should be hoping he channels lightning a few more times.

Dan Rather Discovers Chomsky

Just a quick note here. I saw Dan Rather’s criticism of the mainstream media just now. Nice to see he figured something out. Too bad he didn’t read Noam Chomsky sooner. I read Deterring Democracy more than 10 years ago. Pretty much everything Rather says in his comments could be pulled from that book alone. And Chomsky has said quite a bit more. Not that I agree with him on everything, but he’s pretty good on the media.

Who Wants To Be A Candidate?

Candidates don’t just appear magically. There are a variety of reasons why people get into politics and why others stay out.

On the negative side, those who step up in the political arena face the substantial risk of personal attacks. No one likes hearing others saying bad things about them. So you have to have a thick skin to play this game. On the bright side, once you’ve been in it for a while you realize that your friends don’t pay any attention to the attacks, and some may even appreciate you more. One of my best friends was seriously planning to go after someone with a baseball bat for what he’d said about me. It was an outrageously nasty attack, but of course I stopped him.

Still, many people see the nasty side of politics and that convinces them to stay out of it. This is probably not a good thing for democracy. I certainly feel that our opponents in the last Guilderland election went over the line. But they may think the same of me – even though I’m convinced my criticisms of them were fair and not at all personal.

Another thing that keeps people away is lack of interest. I’ve never understood this. Politics is not only fascinating – it’s really important. Government takes about half our money, and has an unfortunately big impact on our lives in so many other ways. To me, public service is a duty. Everyone should not only vote, but volunteer to help with elections, either for a candidate, a party, or for the election system itself. Election inspectors are the unsung heroes of democracy, and many feel that it’s getting harder to find volunteers for these roles.

I could go on about why people don’t get in. Why do they?

Some people are really motivated on one or more issues. That can drive someone to give it a shot. I think most of these people burn out quickly. Running on an issue only works if most voters care about it as much as you do, and they usually don’t. The one-issue candidate usually has a blind spot to this reality.

The most successful candidates rarely run on issues. Here in Albany Paul Tonko is running for Congress and his website doesn’t mention a single issue. He must be a shoo-in. :-)

If you’re thinking that power and money are big, so am I. Compare someone who’s driven by a desire for power instead of concern about an issue. The power-seeker wants to win, and works to figure out what the voters want so they can focus on what matters to them. For the truly power-hungry, the issues don’t matter at all.

There may be a spectrum of the issue-oriented on one end and the power-hungry on the other, with some on one end, some on the other, and plenty in the middle. Based on my experiences, there is are big chunks at both ends. I’m closest to the libertarians, many of whom are completely unable to compromise in the slightest on any issues.

I’ve also met quite a few political operatives. These are people who typically work for the party machinery. They will play just about any issue in whatever way will work best for getting more votes, and have no qualms about using personal attacks – as long as they work.

The hard truth is that the power-hungry have an edge. They will do whatever it takes to win. They also find it easier to work in teams.

Those focused on issues tend to fight with each other on the points where they disagree. Libertarians are a great example. In NY at least, they do so much of this that they never make an impact. There are even some who want to do badly in elections because they don’t want people with other ideas to ruin their party. I wish I was kidding. But I’m hopeful that the new state chair, a friend of mine, will find a way around this. But leading libertarians is like herding cats.

So the challenge for the rest of us is to find ways to work in teams, work smart, and work harder than the power-hungry. We have to listen to the voters and figure out what’s on their minds. We have to speak to those problems.

And we have to be wary of ourselves. We have to remember what motivates us, and be faithful to our own principles. If, in the end, the voters aren’t on the same page with us on the issues, then we have to accept that. In a democracy, the majority is supposed to rule.

It becomes a much harder slog, but our task then is to persuade. My friends at LEAP are doing just that now on the drug war, much as the abolitionists and suffragists did long ago. Another good example is the anti-abortion movement. While I disagree with them on the issue, I respect those in that movement who focus on persuading others that abortion is wrong.

I didn’t realize how long this was going to become when I started. Seems like a good place to stop for now. I’ll ruminate and maybe do more on this in the future.

Ted Kennedy and Universal Health Care

I’ve been scratching my head about the Ted Kennedy brain surgery thing. Here’s a guy from Boston who works in Washington DC. New York City is in between the two. And he goes to North Carolina to get the surgery done.

It’s my impression that both Boston and New York City have outstanding doctors. Not that they’re all great, but there’s plenty of good ones. Some people in the Albany area will go to one of these places if they have a serious medical problem. I remember my dad going to Boston when he had a brain tumor. I’d guess that the Washington area also has some pretty good docs.

So why does Kennedy go to Duke? I’m guessing that Doctor Allan Freedman is the best brain surgeon in the whole world, and it’s not even a close call. We can all respect Ted Kennedy’s desire to have the best.

A bigger issue is what this says about universal health care, one of the great challenges we supposedly face these days (if you’re listening to national politicians anyway). Our current medical system has a variety of things going on: Medicare for seniors, Medicaid for the poor, mostly private health insurance for most people with jobs, and a big chunk of people with no insurance.

Oh, and there’s one more … the congressional health plan. That’s where congressmen and senators get to go to the best doctors in the world, skipping ahead of everyone else waiting to see them, and the taxpayers pay for the whole ride. I’m betting Kennedy didn’t have to pay a copay or deductible for his surgery.

So here’s a simple proposal for any universal health care plan. Make sure that members of Congress and the Senate have to be in that plan. They get the same deal as the rest of us. Yeah, that’ll be the day.

Jeff Gaul

This post was about Jeff Paul, related to the Ron Paul and Steven Vasquez campaigns. As I promised in my final comment, it is now time to take down the post. I’m deleting the comments as well, though I have preserved all of it in case it becomes necessary. I will leave up the embedded interview with him, as that’s out there anyway.

Paul Tonko: The Truth Starts to Come Out

Paul Tonko is running for Congress here in the Albany area. He’s gotten a lot of favorable local press for little reason. Now some negative news appears, but so far not in the local papers. Wonder if they’ll pick this up.

Check out this story about Paul Tonko on I think the site works with the Syracuse Post-Standard, and that may be the source of the article.

Do we really want another guy in Congress who’s just going to milk the system? Someone who’s going to take money out of our pockets and hand it to wealthy landowners?