Russert vs. Ron Paul

Tim_russert_hi_2 It seems clear that the "pundits in chief" of American television have in mind to "guide" American voters to the election of a candidate who, in their collective "wisdom," is appropriate to the office of president of the United States. 

It should be no secret that the "chattering classes" on the left and right coasts believe that they are far wiser than the peasantry residing in "fly over country" in between (or among) their citadels of exalted brooding.

The various preferences of the media Machiavellians are pitifully obvious to those unfortunate enough to need to watch (endlessly). 

Christopher Matthews, (MSNBC) (when not abusing and bullying guests) makes it clear that his first choice would have been Giuliani (a man from the "civilized" northeast) but, (sigh) if that is not to be, then Obama will fulfill the civil rights yearnings of his soul.  In pursuit of that goal, there is nothing that he will not say, endlessly, boringly, repetitively against the Clintons.  God help anyone on his programs who disagrees with this "program."

And then, there is Tim Russert, host of "Meet the Press."  Tim holds forth there with an authority reminiscent of the doctrine of papal infallibility and a clear belief that none dare confront him. 

Today, his "guest" was Dr. Ron Paul, the previously obscure physician and congressman from coastal  Texas.  This man has the effrontery to insist that the US Constitution is still an effective document, that the federal government has too much power, spends too much money and that Abraham Lincoln might not have been as wise as the hagiolatry surrounding his name mandates as belief. 

Somehow, unbelievably, the masses huddled outside the major cities of America resonate to what Paul says. His message of minimalist government and foreign policy, civil rights for all and a return to balanced budgets appeals to many.  To the consternation of the "professional pols" money floods into the Paul "campaign" over the internets.  Thus far, this flow of small contributions is not reflected in polling, but, as my favorite political consultant (my wife) suggests, this may be the result of people being reluctant to tell pollsters that they will vote for Paul

With regard to Paul’s various "heretical" opinions, Russert poured forth a continuous stream of questions at so rapid a rate that it became clear that the purpose was a hope that the "guest" would stumble over himself in attempting to answer.  The purpose of this approach seemed to be destructive rather than constructive.

Both Russert and Matthews are products of schooling that should have done better by them.  pl

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87 Responses to Russert vs. Ron Paul

  1. bob randolph says:

    I watched a 15 minute MSNBC program recently on the Republican campaign in Iowa which went the full 15 minutes without mentioning Ron Paul and with only one mention for Mike Huckaby, and that about his supposedly anathemic Merry Christmas “subliminal cross ad.” The Washington Post has flipped out over the prospect of Huckaby’s becoming a serious contender for the nomination.
    It will soon be hard to ignore the fact Paul is creeping slowly up the ladder as his views become more widely disseminated, and that Hope’s second coming is the most gifted politician since Bill Clinton. What do those fellows drink in Arkansas.
    Merry Christmas to all (and thanks to the Huck fo making it permissible to bring that greeting out of the closet)

  2. Cieran says:

    And let’s not forget how Cheney used Russert as an accomplice in the VP’s disinformation campaign regarding Iraqi WMD programs.
    Anyone who has suffered through “Meet the Press” readily appreciates that Russert is a propagandist, not a journalist. And during the Scooter Libby trial, Cheney’s communication director testified under oath to the ease with which the VP manipulated Russert to get the neocon story out with the administration’s chosen spin.
    Why such so-called journalists deserve First-Amendment protections is something I will never understand.

  3. Bobo says:

    Have faith that the huddled masses will overcome the bombastic duo and friends and elect an individual who will learn to lead us as President of the United States.
    Problem though is the bombastic duo will still be around with friends. Now if we all turn the boob tube off during their times we may all win.

  4. rjj says:

    It is holiday time. This is for the self-indulgent.

  5. inquire says:

    These may be the last elections where these particular pundits have any influence. Anyone <30 hasn't the faintest clue who the Sunday morning oligarchy are nor do they have faintest desire to find out.
    As the geriatrics push on towards increasing insignificance those favoured by this <30 crowd (ie. Ron Paul, Obama, Kucinich) will continue to be ignored by these bombasts. The younger generation (if they participate at all) will choose based on the Stewart/Colbert, blog/youtube/facebook campaigning rather than than the lumbering whistle stop Sunday morning dinosaurs.
    In short, the days of relevance for the insufferable Russerts, McGlaughlins, Mathews et al. are frighteningly numbered, and your essay only helps to point this out.
    (p.s. lets hope there is a grand return of stewart/colbert before in time to return the political fire to this <30 crowd before its too late to have an effect on the primaries/election. Colbert's abortive run should be evidence enough of the weight this Comedy Central institution wields in American politics - one greater in numbers than all of Sunday morning (but much less in terms of wealth or political clout)).

  6. Cujo359 says:

    I disagree with Ron Paul on, well, most issues, actually, yet I think it’s sad that there aren’t more Republicans like him. If there were, we might not have to worry about becoming a police state, and just maybe we wouldn’t have to wonder if we’re ever going to get out of Iraq.

  7. Kevin K says:

    Chris Matthews did a nice, but short segment with Ron Paul in October.
    That intro clip from the debate is great.

  8. Farmer Don says:

    Hello to all, and Merry Christmas from Canada.
    We flew down to phoenix a couple weeks ago for the warm weather, and while there saw a group of people with “Join the Ron Paul Revolution” signs getting the attention of passers by. Also so lots of “Google Ron Paul” signs on lawns, (or the gravel that passes for lawns in Phoenix).
    Anyway, when this weeks TIME magazine came. the frount cover’s theme was, Job still open for Republican Pres. Candidate. In five pages, I didn’t see Ron Paul mentioned once. The next article was about trailing candidates who would probably be quitting. He wasn’t mentioned there either.
    I guess he must fit some where in between!

  9. The corporate oligarchy for whom the likes of Russert and Matthews shamelessly shill has more to fear in the “resonance” evoked by Republican Mike Huckabee than anything long-shot Republican Ron Paul represents. As Chris Hedges points out over on Robert Scheer’s “Truthdig” website:
    “The Christian right is the most potent and dangerous mass movement in American history. It has been controlled and led, until now, by those who submit to the demands of the corporate state. But the grass roots are tired of being taken for rubes. They are tired of candidates, like Bush or Bill Clinton, who roll out the same clichés about working men and women every four years and then spend their terms enriching their corporate backers. The majority of American citizens have spent the last two decades watching their government services and benefits vanish. They have seen their jobs go overseas and are watching as their communities crumble and their houses are foreclosed. It is their kids who are in Iraq and Afghanistan. The old guard in the Christian right, the Pat Robertsons, who used their pulpits to deliver the votes of naive followers to the corporatists, is a spent force. Huckabee’s Christian populism represents the maturation of the movement. It signals the rise of a truly radical, even revolutionary force in American politics, of which Huckabee may be one of the tamer and less frightening examples.”
    Personally, I’ve had more than enough of my fellow Americans “resonating” to the choreographed, subliminal gesticulations cynically beamed at them out of glowing television screens. I’d really like to hear of — and from — a few who can read, write, and think.
    I don’t have anything against those Americans like Ron Paul who reside along Americas’ third, or “bottom,” coast any more than I resent Americans who live on the other two coastal seaboards. Neither do I see any reason to exalt the resentful American villagers of the so-called “heartland” who avidly embrace religious superstion and ignorance and then feel abused when those with real wealth and education divide and exploit them using their own “faith” as the handiest and cheapest tool for the job.
    Whatever Ron Paul claims to represent, he won’t get anywhere near the Presidency of the United States as long as he has an “R” for “Republican Party” next to his name on any national ballot. That reactionary brand name has discredited itself among the general populace for a generation, at least. This salutary development probably comes too late to save the late Republic from utter ruin, but perhaps some slim hope still remains. Not while America remains stupidly mired in Iraq and Afghanistan, though.

  10. Will says:

    Chris Matthews “Tweety Bird” is infuriating as host w/ his constant interruptoins, asking questions and supplying his own answers, not giving guests the opportunity to reply, but he has his endearing qualities.
    he was against the iraq misadventure from the start, has hinted that cheney should be tried for waging agressive wars. he is not a guiliani man, but has criticized the NYT for burying its retraction of the the Guiliani Judith police detail fund story on page 35 while the original was on page 1. He was merciless on Irvin Lewis “Scooter” Libby during his trial.
    It was the Russert question that torpedoed Clinton during the Philadelphia debate. Ron Paul acquitted himself well on Meet the Press. The questions presented to him were no less penetrating than the ones thrown to the other candidates. Guliani, the week before was sent reeling. Russert was the star witness in the “Scooter” case- deflating Scooters’ concocted version of events.
    Both Paul and Huckabee talk about doing away with the income tax. they are derided as kooks. Yet Steve Forbes proposed a flat tax and he was taken seriously. Quite unfair.

  11. Will says:

    Nevertheless, the Col. core criticism of MTP and HB is devastating. The TV programs do not advance any policy discussions. They are not PBS or NPR caliber, or that matter SST :).

  12. jonst says:

    Paul was priceless I thought. He had the termidity to stand by his previous statements. At least the one’s correctly attributed to him. This strategy (for strategy read ‘integrity and intellectual honesty’)of Paul’s threw Big Tim off his normal game. He did not know, nor does he know, what to do with a person who will reject, or disagree with, the false implications drawn from previous quotes, that Tim hurls like so many thunderbolts from on high, to the guests on his show. Tim is used to hurling the thunderbolts and watching the guest begin to tap dance. Paul refused to dance. You could almost see big Tim saying to himself, ‘but this line of attack ALWAYS works!…What the hell is going on here?’. For those boxing aficionados, Big Tim had a look on his face that, somewhat, reminded me of the look Mike Tyson had on his face by the end of the third round or so of his fight with Buster Douglas.

  13. Steve French says:

    From what I’ve seen Paul is much more popular in the city than outside. Granted Atlanta (where I live) is an extreme case of a small urban core with a large metro area, but I would imagine that most of his eventual vote will come from more urban areas.

  14. It’s obvious why Paul is raking in the money. His delivery wasn’t very good, though. Case in point was how he handled the earmarks issue. His position is clear as a bell: the money is flowing in anyway, because that’s the system we’re working under today, so might as well get some of it for his constituency! Gee, he’s a Congressman trying to get things for his constituency…pass the smelling salts! But he fumbled while trying to explain it. He could have done better.
    I understand his positions, and agree with a lot of them, but I didn’t think his delivery was as strong as some of my fellow SST readers think.
    The Katrina quote hit a nerve for me, though. I understand where he’s coming from concerning those who have the money to purchase beachfront ocean properties and then complain when the hurricanes wash them away. The poor residents of New Orleans weren’t in the same situation.
    Most importantly, any one of us could have an honest-to-goodness DEBATE with Ron Paul about what the role of government should be. I suspect he slips and slides around on the issues a little depending on the current political climate. He is a politician, after all. For the most part, though, I think he’s about as honest a politician as anyone can expect. And all I ask for is enough honesty to allow a real debate.
    Speaking of bloated foreign policy debacles Ron Paul is against…got an offer for Iraq but it’s not looking worth the trouble. I thought of our discussions here at SST about DoD contractors during the interview. This position is direct field support of the Marines in “Western Iraq.” (They wouldn’t get any more specific about the locations). The company is providing operators/maintainers for a Marine Corps tactical comms system it developed. I would be embedded with a Marine unit sleeping, eating and working along side them. Here’s the point that stuck out to me: we contractors would provide the continuity of technical proficiency between rotating Marine units. The Marines come to Iraq for six months at a time, but the contractors are there for at least a year. So my job would be to help the Marines learn to operate and maintain their own system, while keeping it running myself, across multiple MC rotations.
    We could talk for hours about the problems with that. In fact, the guy interviewing me was retired Navy and we both agreed that there are major, major problems with how the support forces (REMFs) are being trained today. More specifically – not trained sufficiently.
    I could go on for hours, but will stop here.
    Happy Holidays.

  15. David J says:

    Another example of guiding the American voter was the incessant replaying of the “Dean Scream” by the press.

  16. jonst says:

    The powers that be will shift the Stewart’s and Colbert’s, whomever,to Sun to replace the “lumbering whistle stop Sunday morning dinosaurs”. And then the former can go about their business becoming the later.
    Michael Murry,
    Is the ‘corporate oligarchy” really concerned about Huckabee? Or is Huckabee their latest beard?
    By the way…did anyone catch the Obama ‘foreign policy spokesperson on C0-SAPN this AM? His name was Greg Craig? God, he was terrible. I heard nothing new or enligthning from him. Same old AIPAC bromides.

  17. rjj says:

    I could not find that Jon Stewart Chris Matthews interview on either YouTube or the Comedy Central Daily Show.

  18. And he decried the Civil War, calling it a needless effort for which hundreds of thousands of Americans paid with their lives. He rejected that the war spelled the end to slavery in the United States, saying that the U.S. government could have simply bought the slaves from the Confederate States of America and freed them.
    Wash Post Article
    Hmmm. I didn’t see this portion on NBC’s website. I’ve been reading that he said some off the wall things. The clips I watched were pretty straight forward policy issues – Social Security, foreign intervention, taxation, etc.
    The article above says he is not ruling out running as an independent. Now that will be interesting.

  19. GSD says:

    My perusing around the hamlets of NH indicate that Ron Paul has a pretty significant rural following too.

  20. inquire says:

    “The powers that be will shift the Stewart’s and Colbert’s…to Sun…And then the former can go about their business becoming the later.”
    Highly, highly unlikely. Stewart/Colbert are top earners for comedy central, and thus neither the audience, the talent, nor the network would want this to happen. In fact, they have a good degree of creative liberty and financial clout at the network. Can you imagine Meet the Press putting all their shows online a la Comedy Central putting the entire Daily Show archive online for free? this is a whole new beast (for the most part). If anything, these two main streams of broadcast political discourse will only diverge further as time goes on. For example, see Stewarts’ progression over the last 5 years – he has become more trenchant in his criticism and conviction. He was almost timid and fawning of the adminstration post-911 to 2004ish, but since then has turned the show into a viable vector of attack against the foolish media and corrupt partisanship.
    Chris Matthews being highly offended on the Daily Show (see link below with video included). Matthews has also appeared on the Colbert Report on a few, less memorable, occasions.

  21. J.T. Davis says:

    I would be very interested in your serious critique of Ron Paul’s foreign policy ideas, now that we are in the mess we are in, can they get us out? We can only guess how it might have played out if he had been in office on 2001 instead of Bush, I’m not interested in that, but your serious take on his FoPo. And Merry Christmas, Colonel.

  22. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “And he decried the Civil War, calling it a needless effort for which hundreds of thousands of Americans paid with their lives. He rejected that the war spelled the end to slavery in the United States, saying that the U.S. government could have simply bought the slaves from the Confederate States of America and freed them.”
    Actually, that is not what he said. He said that the federal government could have bought all the slaves they wanted in the commerical markets and freed them. The context would be, I suppose, that if this had been the policy (compensated emancipation)BEFORE the war then there might not have been a war.
    Now, unless you are in sympathy with Thaddeus Stephens, Senators Wade, Sumner et al who believed that the South was simply evil and should be scourged to expunge sin, then Paul’s argument would seem to have some weight when put in the scales against the awful devastation of the war.
    If you are on the side of the Republican radicals in this matter then you should deal with the fact that the northern states had permitted slaveholding until they decided that industrial “slaves” were better found in Ireland. pl

  23. J.T.Davis says:

    Sorry for the second post, Colonel, but didn’t the fact that he Dr. Paul had no idea of the number of troops we have deployed overseas trouble you? And he pretty much said Iran has no army to speak of. That’s not quite true, is it? I think I undesrtand the point of your post and second it, and I enjoy the biting sarcasm immensely, but many of us do look to you for guidance in this area and I am one of those folks. I have read your assessments of Hill’s and Barack’s FoPo. I am very interested in a critique of Paul’s. We can all make fun of Pumpkinhead (Russert). He’s got it coming.
    And a Happy New Year to you and yours, Colonel.

  24. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I am generally a non-interventionist in other peoples’ affairs. Mostly I hold this position because of the practical difficulties involved in trying to re-route history in the interventionist way. As someone has observed, I, also, do not think the US is a suitable platform for imperialism. We lack the instinct for it. I tried to explain that to Khalilzad once and he ended by shouting at me in public that I, like so many other “native Americans” lacked an understanding of our responsibilities. He was correct. pl

  25. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I don’t think Dr. Paul is much of a “detail” man. I am inclined to think that he has a good heart but would be a bit adrift when he actually had to run things.
    I have always wanted Marcus Aurelius to run for president. I am still waiting. pl

  26. J.T. Davis says:

    Thank you for the response.
    I guess my question would be this: If Ron Paul’s vision is to retreat to Fortress America by bringing all the troops home from every overseas post, and pull out of NATO and the UN, do you think that would prevent any future 9/11 type acts of terrorism? He seems to think so. I think it is good to see this being discussed by a Republican on TV but I wonder if we encourage a rather simplistic view of the complexity of our current situation. That’s what I’m getting at, I guess.

  27. J.T.Davis says:

    “I have always wanted Marcus Aurelius to run for president. I am still waiting. pl”
    Be careful what you wish for. We might start a Draft Col. Lang petition.

  28. jonst:
    The Corporate Oligarchy [no scare quotes required] or Rupert Murdoch, et al, (if you prefer example personifications) have invested monumentally in monolithic communications control (they call it “vertical integration”) which typically produces such overpriced and lousy products as Tim Russert and Chris Matthews. Deputy Dubya Bush and Senator You-Know-Her (currently) from New York provide only two additional personifications of the oligarchy: in their case, its revolving-door corporate/political/corporate component. I can provide any number of other names and titles but find doing so both tedious and redundant.
    In his opening comment, Pat Lang alluded to the “steering” of public choices into essentially take-it-or-take-it commands. I only added that upstart (dare I say “rabble-rousing”?) candidates like Mike Huckabee indicate by their very existence that the hugely expensive “steering” has not materialized as expected. This obvious and enormous loss of bought-and-paid-for influence dismays those who have tried to purchase it. Ron Paul represents less of a threat to the Corporate Oligarchy than Huckabee because he mostly enunciates the “free-market” (i.e., “visible hand”) dogmas that in reality always translate to lavish “free lunch” subsidies for the Corporate Oligarchy.
    I obviously support neither the Huckabee/Paul upstarts (because of their discredited party affiliation) nor the Bush/Clinton family profiteers from “public service.” As a symbiotic group, they combine to shamelessly exploit pre-scientific, religious ignorance and in so doing have helpd to reduce large segments of America to little more than medieval peasant serfdom. I can fully understand the peasant/serfs getting angry at their mistreatment, but if they continue to cravenly tolerate, if not champion, the Corporate Oligarchy’s rampant militarism instead of insisting on first-rate public educations for all of America’s people, then I see no useful purpose in their justifiable anger.
    One quote from “Dr.” Ron Paul sums it all up for me:
    “I think it’s a theory — a theory of evolution — and I don’t accept it.”
    To which ridiculous drivel Professor Daniel Dennett has replied:
    “To put it bluntly but fairly, anyone today who doubts that the variety of life on this planet was produced by a process of evolution is simply ignorant — inexcusably ignorant, in a world where three out of four people have learned to read and write.”
    If a supposed physician like Ron Paul does not understand how a virus rapidly mutates and evolves so as to make exterminating it nearly impossible, then I wouldn’t want him diagnosing the common cold, let alone managing the federal government of the United States.

  29. Matthew says:

    Col: As an immigrant, I can tell you there is nothing more dangerous to rational American foreign policy than allowing an immigrant or, heaven forbid, an emigree to lecture Americans about their obligations to fix the immigrant’s/emigree’s country of origin. Look at the track record: the neo-cons and the Cuba Lobby. And now we have the Armenian Lobby in getting in the act. Notice none of the three vocal lobbies–Israeli, Cuban, or Armenian–actually advance an necessary American interest. They lobby for their own ethnic self interest.

  30. jonst says:

    Michale Murry,
    Nothing, or little, threatens the Oligarchy, except their own suspected incompetence/corruption these days. It ain’t my father’s Oligarchy. See W.
    I am dramatically less impressed with Stewart et al, both the man and the genre. I find myself embarrassed to be watching it. The laughs come easily enough to me in the first minute or so. And then I start thinking to myself: What the F are you doing laughing at this stuff? You watching a show about the end of the Republic. It ain’t funny.

  31. Bobo says:

    Now that my forebears have been dubbed “Industrial Slaves” I must point out it only took a generation or two for them to run this fine country or at least the cities where the money was.. What will occur with the Hispanics in a generation or two….
    After watching Ron Paul speak to a group of likeminders in South Carolina I saw the surface scratched and it was not appealing. As normal in most young people they jump at the 1st appealing candidate, thus Ron Paul’s backing has not seen a full vetting, it will and he will fall in the first month. My concern is he will be inflated with grandiosity and become the spoiler as the 3rd candidate in the big match.

  32. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I think it is likely that the same thing will happen.
    Your ancestors and mine…pl

  33. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I think Dr. Paul (whom I talked to once for all of two hours)is a charming, intelligenct man whose sympathies I share but whose possible willingness to carry principle to the point of execution contrary to the needs of common sense is worrisome.
    There is a difference between being against foreign adventure and a stated desire to “take down” American participation in the international bodies which still hold some promise as instruments of moderate policy.
    Dr. Pauls says that he favors an “intermediate” policy of some kind as a practical matter. I would like to hear more about that. pl

  34. J.T. Davis says:

    Dr. Paul has “softened” much of his platform to make it more “centrist” and moderate. If a Clinton does it, we call it “triangulating”. Dr. Paul comes from the far right of today’s GOP. The Republican Liberty Caucus:
    Their 2000 Position Statement can be found here. I think Dr. Paul was the Top Dog (Chair) of the RLC at that time:
    You can see it has been moderated a bit. These folks have always attacked the neocons from the right.
    Alan Wolfe wrote a 2004 article in The Chonicle of Higher Education about the Schmittian and Straussian influences in today’s GOP:
    This is apparently a handwritten fundraising letter from Dr. Paul:
    “I don’t need to tell you that our American way of life is under attack. We see it all around us — every day — and it is up to us to save it.
    The world’s elites are busy forming a North American Union. If they are successful, as they were in forming the European Union, the good ‘ol USA will only be a memory. We can’t let that happen.
    The UN also wants to confiscate our firearms and impose a global tax. The UN elites want to control the world’s oceans with the Law of the Sea Treaty. And they want to use our military to police the world.”
    There are also some rumors that some folks want to see Dr. Paul retire from congress, move to NH and run for governor, giving the NH Free State Project a much needed boost. I suppose he can do that after a 3rd party run, unless he gets to the WH.

  35. J.T. Davis says:

    “pl…There is a difference between being against foreign adventure and a stated desire to “take down” American participation in the international bodies which still hold some promise as instruments of moderate policy.”
    This is my concern. While I was doing some research on Washington’s farewell address I came across this piece by Patrick Garrity in the National Interest:
    “Patrick Garrity, “Warnings of a Parting Friend (US Foreign Policy Envisioned by George Washington in his Farewell Address),” The National Interest, No. 45, Fall 1996″
    He concludes:
    “Certainly, to be true to themselves, Americans cannot ignore the safety and happiness of other nations and peoples. We must continue to have “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind.” But certain, too, is it that Americans will not be true to themselves if they allow the pursuit of virtue to justify behavior on their own part that in others they would readily recognize as imperialistic or hegemonic, and if they define American interests in such a way as to demand the nation’s intervention virtually everywhere and in all matters. It is worth bearing in mind that while this is the bicentennial of the Farewell Address, it is only a few years since the bicentennial of the French Revolution, an event whose impact on international politics should serve as a standing reminder of the danger of embarking on a crusade, even – or especially – one undertaken in the name of the best democratic and republican principles.
    We now come full circle: As the Farewell Address argued, American foreign policy rightly begins with efforts to secure the country’s basic material interests of security and prosperity. But these interests should be defined, or formed, through a domestic political process that has “our justice” as its end. Washington’s advice to pursue American interests, guided by America’s sense of justice, in order to command the nation’s fortune in the world, remains sound. This formula, rightly understood, provides the United States with the right reasons for overcoming both excessive inwardness and immoderate activism.”
    I’m pretty much in agreement with this position. If it was General Washington’s, so much the better.

  36. Andy says:

    Ron Paul is one of the reasons I still have faith in America. I certainly don’t agree with him on everything (particularly his rather Luddite foreign policy), but I’m inherently inclined to support those outside the standard partisan mainstream, particularly those with a Libertarian bent. I’m a political animal, but not a partisan one – a distinction that few today seem to appreciate, much less agree with or even acknowledge as a potentially valid viewpoint.
    I also have to admit that I was profoundly affected by Peter McWilliams in my youth and a streak of Libertarianism has run through me ever since.
    As an avid Sunday-morning talking-head show watcher, I would agree with what appears to be Col. Lang’s position – that the Russerts of Washington and other so-called “elites” perpetuate the two-party oligarchy running the US and do nothing to further real political discourse in America today. I’ve learned to be skeptical of virtually everything the Russerts of the world and others who are supposedly politically “anointed” prognosticate.
    I have to say, though, if true, that Ron Paul’s comments on the civil war are not very bright. To begin with, “buying” all the slaves in the south assumes that their owners would willingly part with all of them. It’s unlikely, to say the least, that selling off what amounts to the South’s principle economic capital and thereby committing economic sepuku is a choice the southern states would willingly make. As much as it is difficult to comprehend today, the sad fact is that slaves represented a significant capital investment and the idea they could all be “bought up” and therefore freed is rather ludicrous from an economic standpoint alone. The economic incentives from such a situation would lead to the importation of slaves from “markets” (such as South American) where human capital was comparatively cheaper, or, at worst, it would reignite the Atlantic slave trade. That’s only one economic argument – it’s not like the northern states would have supported the levies necessary to fund such an adventure. All-in-all, it’s rather ridiculous that the Civil War could have been avoided by essentially allocating monies – in fact, “throwing money at the problem” is an issue that continues to plague government today.
    What’s certain is that this election cycle will be, at the very least, the most interesting in a long time, and will hopefully signal a change to break the two-party system once and for all….

  37. W. Patrick Lang says:

    1- The importation of slaves was forbidden by US law after 1808 and virtually ceased after that date except for the activities of smugglers who were pursued by both the the US and Britich navies (Britain after the 1830s). Black Americans encountered in 1860 were much more likely to have been born on US soil than white Americans. This was in stark contrast to the situation in the West Indies and Brazil where slave populations tended to decrease without further importation. In fact the natural rate of increase in the numbers of black Americans was so great that further importation of Africans was not desired because of the difficulties in adapting them to life in a new environment.
    2- You are correct about the large investment in capital that slaves represented in the South but compensated emancipation in the US would have replaced that capital and made it possible to hire labor. pl

  38. eaken says:

    The government had no problem taking people’s gold; I’m pretty sure we could take their slaves too if we wanted.

  39. Will says:

    “One quote from “Dr.” Ron Paul sums it all up for me:
    “I think it’s a theory — a theory of evolution — and I don’t accept it.”
    To which ridiculous drivel Professor Daniel Dennett has replied:”
    We have lost our way in this materialistic universe and forget reality is as much made up of the perceiver as well as the perceived.
    “Final Cause. Lastly, Aristotle describes the final cause. Final cause explains the cause of something in terms of its conceived end, or the purpose why it is made. According to Aristotle, final cause is “the end (telos), that for the sake of which a thing is done”. The Final Cause is that for the sake of which a thing exists or is done, its purpose and instrumental actions and activities. The final cause or telos is the end to which something must serve.”
    full disclosure- i have a B.S. in physics and know enough biology to tell you that bacteria DNA is circular so is human mitochondria and they are thought to be bacteria symbiotes.
    Moral- Don’t be so quick to judge.

  40. J.T. Davis says:

    First of all, thanks. Now I know you can embed hyperlinks and use html. I have been researching libertarianism for several years and the one thing most libertarians agree on is best summed up by Prof. David Friedman, Milton Friedman’s son: “There may be two libertarians somewhere who agree with each other about everything, but I am not one of them.”
    This sentiment has been echoed by conservatives from Russell Kirk to Jonah Goldberg. Noam Chomsky identifies as a “libertarian socialist” so you know you’ve got trouble. I think this is one of the best collections on the web:
    Critiques of Libertarianism
    Some of the links are out of date but google can usually find the target article or essay.
    and will hopefully signal a change to break the two-party system once and for all…
    Sadly, (and I beg the Colonel’s indulgence for this long copy and paste) this phenomenon needs to be understood by more Americans. Very few are aware of it unless they have studied Poli Sci. We are stuck with two parties unless and until we alter the structural and institutional components of our electoral processes that result in the two party system and it had little to do with intent. On the contrary, most of the founders wanted nothing to do with political parties or the factionalism they saw tearing Europe apart in their day. They thought they had designed a system to avoid them completely. They couldn’t foresee everything. The law of unintended consequences, eh?
    Duverger’s Law is a principle which asserts that a plurality rule election system tends to favor a stable two-party system.
    The discovery of this tendency is attributed to Maurice Duverger, a French sociologist who observed the effect and recorded it in several papers published in the 1950s and 1960s. In the course of further research, other political scientists began calling the effect a “law” or principle. Duverger’s law suggests a nexus or synthesis between a party system and an electoral system: a proportional representation (PR) system creates the electoral conditions necessary to foster party development while a plurality system marginalizes many smaller political parties.
    How and why it occurs
    A two-party system often develops spontaneously from the single-member district plurality voting system (SMDP), in which legislative seats are awarded to the candidate with a plurality of the total votes within his or her constituency, rather than apportioning seats to each party based on the total votes gained in the entire set of constituencies. This trend develops out of the inherent qualities of the SMDP system that discourage the development of third parties and reward the two major parties.
    The most obvious inhibiting feature unique to the SMDP voting system is purely statistical. A small third party cannot gain legislative power if it is based in a populous area. Similarly, a statistically significant third party can be too geographically scattered to muster enough votes to win seats, although technically its numbers would be sufficient to overtake a major party in an urban zone. Gerrymandering is sometimes used to counteract such geographic difficulties in local politics, but is impractical and controversial on a large scale. These numerical disadvantages can create an artificial limit on the level at which a third party can engage in the political process…
    A third party can only enter the arena if it can exploit the mistakes of a pre-existing major party, ultimately at that party’s expense. For example, the political chaos in the United States immediately preceding the Civil War allowed the Republican Party to replace the Whig Party as the progressive half of the American political landscape. Loosely united on a platform of country-wide economic reform and federally funded industrialization, the decentralized Whig leadership failed to take a decisive stance on the slavery issue, effectively splitting the party along the Mason-Dixon Line. Southern rural planters, initially lured by the prospect of federal infrastructure and schools, quickly aligned themselves with the pro-slavery Democrats, while urban laborers and professionals in the northern states, threatened by the sudden shift in political and economic power and losing faith in the failing Whig candidates, flocked to the increasingly vocal anti-slave Republican Party…

  41. Andy says:

    Col. Lang,
    I understand what your saying about the law, but I think that unless another labor pool was somehow created to replace the Slaves the economic incentives to import more would be too great. Each slave purchased and taken “off the market” so to speak, increases the value of every remaining slave. At some point, slaves would become so valuable that smuggling would be worth the risk to many, to say nothing of kidnapping former slaves or “recapturing” them and selling them again.
    And anyway, how would such an enterprise be funded? Would those in the northern states be levied and would they accept such levies? What happens if a southern State or slaveholder refuses to sell? Could the Federal Government have compelled them to do so and would the Supreme Court at the time have upheld such a law as constitutional, even if it could be passed? Maybe, but the practicalities seem dubious at best and we really haven’t even touched the social issues or where these newly-freed slaves would go and what they’d do. I may be wrong, but it seems to me that the economic incentives (which would likely last a generation or more) necessary to induce the south to give up slaves is a burden the northern states would not willingly bear, particularly if they are to receive little benefit in return.

    The government had no problem taking people’s gold; I’m pretty sure we could take their slaves too if we wanted.

    Who is “we?” “We” at the time included slave-holding States and they held a not insignificant amount of political power.
    Thanks for the links and quote. My libertarianism is primarily focused on legislating morality and criminalizing consensual activities.
    You are right to point out ties between our electoral system and the two-party system, but that is a wall I will keep bashing my head against even if the hope of breaking it down is remote.

  42. W. Patrick Lang says:

    “another labor pool was somehow created to replace the Slaves”
    It would seem clear to me that the freed slaves and European immigrants would provide that pool. pl

  43. JohnS says:

    In the old days, a few influential party bosses in smoke filled political clubs across America decided who would best represent their party in the race for president. That role has largely been subsumed by the Tim Russerts, Maureen Dowds, and Adam Nagourneys of our modern world. Now THEY have the power to make or break a candidate, and they are not shy about weilding this power, as Bob Somerby of the Daily Howler has single-mindedly documented these past seven years. (He has devoted his blog to an in-depth study of how and why these titans of the press sank Al Gore’s chances and practically handed the presidency to G.W. Bush in 2000.)
    Regarding Ron Paul on MTP. His comments on Iraq (and Iran) were, as always, refreshingly candid. But historians have had a field day with his Civil War commments (especially over at Edge of the West), noting that Lincoln did not start the war “just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic.” As Ari Kelman says, “You have to know even less about history than Tim Russert — I wouldn’t have thought it possible — to say such a ridiculous thing. Or you have to be a bit too willing, eager even, to marry libertarian political ideology with neo-Confederate historical revisionism. Just to be clear: Lincoln went to war to preserve the Union. That’s it. End of story. Full stop.”
    For more, see:

  44. W. Patrick Lang says:

    John S
    Having listened to the exchange between Russert and Paul, I don’t remember Paul having mentioned Lincoln. Perhaps he did. My impression was that he was speaking of the possibility of the war not having occurred if the policy of the Federal government prior to the Lincoln administration had been one of a gradual, nationally funded compensated emancipation.
    I suppose that having that opinion marks me as being as ignorant as Dr. Paul and inclined towards historical revisionism.
    “End of story?” There are no ends of stories on this site. If you wamt to pronounce dogma on any issue you might consider doing it elsewere.
    It sounds as though you and a number of other correspondents are rather pleased with the great war among Americans. pl

  45. JohnS says:

    Col Lang
    Actually, it was Tim Russert who mentioned Lincoln. Here’s from the transcript:
    MR. RUSSERT: I was intrigued by your comments about Abe Lincoln. “According to Paul, Abe Lincoln should never have gone to war; there were better ways of getting rid of slavery.”
    REP. PAUL: Absolutely. Six hundred thousand Americans died in a senseless civil war. No, he shouldn’t have gone, gone to war. He did this just to enhance and get rid of the original intent of the republic. I mean, it was the–that iron, iron fist..

    Maybe there may have been better ways to get rid of slavery, I don’t know — I am no historian and admittedly not something that I have ever really given much thought to. But what little I do know about the Civil War is that South Carolina seceded and the war started once Confederate artillery began shelling Fort Sumter. That’s when Lincoln called for troops and I’m not sure what other choice he may have had…
    And I certainly agree with you about “end of stories,” perhaps I should have truncatec that quote.

  46. J.T. Davis says:

    I have to wonder if the “great war among Americans” wasn’t almost a foregone conclusion. Even if we managed to extinguish the spark that did ignite it, another convenient torch could have set the blaze. It was bubbling just below the surface from the day the Federalists and Anti-Federalists started going after each other in that descent into the abyss of factionalism that the founders hoped to avoid. It is still going on today with the states rights faction that Ron Paul represents. In fact, they are darn close to neo-seccessionists. Maybe we should seperate into three or four larger provinces under some weaker federal authority. I can almost see that but can you imagine 50 little Americas of vastly individual state character?

  47. Enobarbus37 says:

    If Paul said that evolution is just a theory and that he doesn’t accept it, then…well, he has opposed himself to science, pure and simple. Not good.
    However, and it’s a mighty big however, wars that cost the lives of 600,000 Americans and result in over a century of hatred and injustice…well, one, I think, has to have an open mind. I, for one, am reluctant to simply say the Civil War was a good thing. Of course, the minute one says that one has an open mind about the Civil War, one is accused of supporting slavery. How very, very simplistic and ridiculous.
    Which brings us to today. As Col. Lang indirectly pointed out, unless he has Chinese forebears, African Americans are not the only people in the world who have been subjected to inhuman treatment. As you buy your next flat-screen TV, consider what the life of the person in China who made it is like.

  48. Enobarbus37 says:

    I would add that the Catholic Church accepts evolution.

  49. W. Patrick Lang says:

    JT Davis
    This is the discussion that I was hoping for. Thank You. pl

  50. Again, I heartily endorse valid criticism of corporate media pundits who browbeat their television guests in search of “gotcha” sound-bites — and so on and so forth. Yet my agreeing with such criticism doesn’t mean that I endorse the victims of such rude treatment when they in effect work to advance the long-running reactionary attack on American education and scientific literacy. This, I claim, Dr. Ron Paul (along with Mike Huckabee and too many others) has done in cynically pandering to the “anti-evolution” crowd of parochial religious zealots who have tend to vote Republican despite the sage advice that my late mother imparted to me way back in the 1950s: namely, that “a vote for a Republican is a vote against yourself.”
    For those who objected to my comments about Dr. Ron Paul’s stated disbelief — or assertion of non-acceptance — of Evolution through Natural Selection, I further respond by noting what Richard Dawkins wrote in The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design: namely, that “the Argument from Personal Incredulity is an extremely weak argument.” Put another way by the scientist/philosopher/logician Charles Sanders Peirce: “Facts are hard things which do not consist in my thinking so and so, but stand unmoved by whatever you and I or any man or any generation of men may opine about them.”
    I began my own study of evolution in high-school biology and physiology courses back in the early 1960s; continued them in university zoology and anthropology courses; and have read widely concerning the subject for more than three decades. I can confidently say that evidence validating Evolution — like that validating Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity — continues accumulating at an accelerating rate. To date, no assertions of personal incredulity couched in the politically coded lizard-language of “only a theory” has effectively challenged, much less superceded the immortal work of either Darwin or Einstein.
    So, again, I object to Dr. Ron Paul’s calculated political pandering to anti-scientific irrationality — or “Teaching the Controversy,” as the political theologians call their favorite form of sloppy sophistry — and find it entirely reprehensible that someone who calls himself a physician would stoop to such discredited dialectics.
    To those who claim that they “know enough about biology” to discount Evolution, I can only reply that they don’t know anywhere near enough and seriously need to learn more. As well, they ought to abandon the debating-school tactic of arguing from personal incredulity, since what they claim to disbelieve has no status in the scientific world that America seems oddly determined to reject in favor of politicized superstition.
    Dr. Ron Paul’s anti-evolutionary statements constitute nothing more than politicized superstition when he derides Evolution as “just a theory.” He could just as easily denounce the Photo-Electric Effect and Relativity (special and general) as “just theories,” too. That discredited dialectial canard ought not to work in junior-high school anymore.
    Dr. Ron Paul has chosen to speak in coded ignorance when he disparages scientific Evolution as “only a theory.” Evolution exists as a fact of life in this universe, as does Gravity and the Photo-Electric Effect. Dr. Paul has every right and opportunity to put forward a scientific theory of his own to supplant Evolution as the fundamental organizing principle of life on Planet Earth. Yet he continues “Teaching the Controversy,” as the religious attackers of science in America call their disguised attack on reason in our country. He does so with apparently no understanding of what science means by “theory.” Dr. Paul uses the term in politically-coded lizard-language to imply “guess,” or “opinion,” which does not accurately or fairly represent what “theory” means in the scienfic world of reality. By “theory,” science (and the scientifically oriented layperson) mean a hypothesis (i.e., a prediction) of cause-and-effect relationship expressed in operational terms that might conceivably validate or refute the hypothesis. If Dr. Paul doesn’t know this important semantic distinction, then his statement of personal incredulity reflects inexcusable ignorance and makes of him a fool. If he does know it, but chooses to pretend that he doesn’t in order to win votes in the Republican Party primary elections, then that makes him a charlatan. I wouldn’t want either as President of the United States. We’ve already got one of both now; and I would think much better of Tim Russert and Chris Matthews if they had just politely pointed out this awful truth to Dr. Paul.

  51. J.T. Davis says:

    I think I am in the future province of the PNW, as I currently reside in Northern California. Some Californians, and even some Washingtonians and Oregonians might lean more to joining with Utah, Idahoans, Nevadans, Montanans and Wyomingites, but this is not the usual discussion among secessionist movements, forming more sensible and logical larger groupings with geographically and demographically like minded regions or provinces. At various times Californians have discussed secession from the union or even splitting the state into two or three smaller states. Giving free reign to the imagination I can see 4 to 8 separate cantons or provinces that make some sense from our current America. For a number of reasons, aside from the fact they are not part of any contiguous geographical region, I see Alaska and Hawaii wanting to remain “independent”. Northeast and southeast are likely to want to go their own way. Pacific Northwest and Southwest plains states as well. Perhaps two more in the northern and southern interiors, the fly-over states. Most secessionist movements seem to want to balkanize or just get away in protest. They think on too small of a scale, often planning on having people move to a single state, like New Hampshire and start a new republic. This idea of provinces or cantons along the swiss model does appeal to me but I rarely hear people speak of it. There is another approach or line of attack which involves looking hard at the constitution itself, calling for a new constitutional convention. This type of national conversation would be a good way to open up a dialogue and expose these kinds of ideas to greater numbers of Americans. Professor Sanford Levinson was just on Bill Moyers’ program last week (you can watch it online here) discussing his book:
    Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (And How We the People Can Correct It)
    Quite a few folks saw the program and that sparked some interest and debate at their appropriately named law blog: Balkinization
    Prof. Jack Balkin started the blog so it’s just an odd coincidence.
    I’m not entirely opposed to constitutional tinkering. I’m just unsure if this is the best time in our history to do it. Now I sound like a conservative.

  52. Babak Makkinejad says:

    JT Davis:
    Do you know if the states of the United States retain the right to initiate the process of formation of the Continental Congress?
    If they do, what is that process and the conditions under which they may do so?
    In case that the Continental Congress is seated; what will be the status of the Constitution of the United States and the laws promulgated under that constitution?
    Was that right given up when the United States Constitution became effective?
    If that right still obtains, why did not the South go that way?

  53. Cieran says:

    Enobarbus37 wrote:
    If Paul said that evolution is just a theory and that he doesn’t accept it, then…well, he has opposed himself to science, pure and simple. Not good.
    He claims that he’s a limited-government strict-constitutionalist, too… but then he sponsors legislation that would define human life as beginning at conception, which further demonstrates that he hasn’t a clue about how the physical world works, including the all-important birds-and-bees parts!
    And while I can’t seem to find much on the details of embryology and reproductive biology in the U.S. Constitution, Ron Paul apparently finds enough in that enlightened document to pander to the theocrats in his political base.
    Like nearly all modern politicians, Ron Paul talks a lot better than he walks.

  54. Arun says:

    African Americans are not the only people in the world who have been subjected to inhuman treatment. As you buy your next flat-screen TV, consider what the life of the person in China who made it is like.
    IMO, it shows an extreme non-comprehension of what slavery meant. In this example, the person in China is not removed from his place of living, his language or his culture.

  55. Enobarbus37 says:

    Should the South have been allowed to secede?
    All I can say is that, during the siege of Richmond, 50% of the African American population of Petersburg was free. That number was growing, not diminishing.
    Yes, the life of the cotton plantations was an abomination: a peculiar mirror image of the imagined grandeur of the French Aristocracy by isolated farmers from Scotland.
    But cotton would not be King forever. Just as oil will not be King forever, and the life of the Saudi dictators and amoral plutocrats will disappear too.

  56. W. Patrick Lang says:

    The African Americans of the Civil War era were as far removed from the homelands of their ancestors as any white Americans.
    As for their languages, the ancestors had come from so many peoples that they had no language in common.
    Their culture? If you have lived in the American South you should know that their cultures are as richly represented in the “blend” as anyone else’s. pl

  57. Arun says:

    The African Americans of the Civil War era were as far removed from the homelands of their ancestors as any white Americans.
    Again, I see only gross incomprehension here. Whatever the culture of white Americans was, it was made of their own choices. It was not ripped away from them. For the African Americans, one of the main pieces of knowledge about themselves is the knowledge of an absence.
    Hitler killed a lot of Jews but could not eradicate their self-knowledge of their culture. But this happened in the case of the slaves.
    I think colonized peoples where the colonial power attempted to rip away the native culture might have a somewhat better comprehension of this.

  58. Will says:

    1. the role of president james buchanan in setting off the civil war is crucial. he lobbied for the supreme court decision that overturned congressional compromises limiting slavery’s expansion in the territories thus heating up the rhetoric & opening up wounds. yet, he had been quick to send troops to Utah against the Mormons. Reminds one of Dumbya, addressing the wrong problems & invading wrong countries.
    As far as evolution, no doubt natural selection can work in a mechanical way & limited circumstances, but there are gaps. In general, i agree with Thales, credited to be the first scientist, that thought the gods may have created the world, they leave its everyday functioning to natural law which man can discover.
    But there are huge gaps, and IMO there is more to this universe than a limited view. in fact it is an interfering multiverse and linear time is quite a “linear” concept.

  59. Enobarbus37 says:

    IMO, it shows an extreme non-comprehension of what slavery meant. In this example, the person in China is not removed from his place of living, his language or his culture.
    Look, let’s get something straight. Slavery was genocide. It was as bad as any chapter in the history of mankind. Six million Jews died in the holocaust? It is relatively easy to calculate that ELEVEN million African Americans died as a direct, not indiret, result of slavery.
    Let’s get something else straight. I did not write the Constitution of the United States, which embraces slavery and gives disproportionate power to slave states…and gives disproportionate power to former slave states today.
    The question is whether a war costing the lives of 600,000 young people and not in any way reducing the tsunami of racism in the United States was the only solution. I believe I am allowed to think there may have been alternatives.
    In medicine there is an expression “res ipsa loquitur”. I personally am not happy with the history of the United States since the Civil War. If the armed forces of the United States were segregated until the 50’s, how does that represent progress?
    And, because I happen to know many Chinese people, I will tell you that the average Chinese factory worker lives far, far from the land he grew up on, and is in most cases speaking a language he did not speak natively.

  60. J.T. Davis says:

    I really don’t know. I’ll have to research that but my hunch is probably not. That is not to say there isn’t a right of secession. As it turns out, I am just now watching Dr. Paul on MSNBC being dragged over the hot coals trying to defend his MTP Lincoln comments. He just brought up Di Lorenzo’s book on Lincoln, The Real Lincoln, and Lysander Spooner. I’m refreshing my memory on Lysander Spooner, who Dr. Paul claims was an abolitionist who supported the south, not Lincoln. I am familiar with Di Lorenzo’s thesis but haven’t read the book. You can tell by looking at the reader reviews at Amazon that it is a contentious thesis: All 5 star or 1 star reviews. That’s polarization.
    One of the claims that folks like Walter E. Williams make (and possibly Di Lorenzo, but I can’r be sure) is that many black slaves fought willingly on the side of the south. Walter Williams has even put a number to it:
    Mr. Smith calculates that between 60,000 and 93,000 blacks served the Confederacy in some capacity.
    I don’t have to tell you that this is a controversial claim. I

  61. W. Patrick Lang says:

    JT Davis
    Williams is quoting Dr. Smith, an American University professor.(both men are black)Dr. smith has long maintained that African American Southerners served with (but not in until the end) the Confederate Army. I talked to Smith a lot when doing research for TBC. It is not really controversial any longer that a lot (how many I do not know) of Blacks (both free and slave)served in such capacities as: bandsmen, teamsters, cooks, officer’s orderlies,pioneer troops in engineer labor units, etc.
    There are several well documented accounts from the federal side of Union officers who were prisoners of war and observed Lee’s army in the field. They report seeing several thousand blacks with the Army in the capacities I mentioned above. These blacks are reported as uniformed in the collection of odds and ends gnerally worn by the rebel infantry but interestingly without the metal buttons that bore unit or state insignia. They were also armed. (a common enough thing on Southern farms)
    After Gettysburg, one striking event was the use of many of these men as guards for Northern PWs being marched south to Virginia. This created quite a reaction in a lot of Pennsylvania villages.
    The status of these auxiliary “troops” was that of contract employees of the Confederate War Department. Records of these people exist in the US National Archives.
    After the war the “restored” governments of the former Confederate states created pensions for their former soldiers. These black men were eligible for such pensions, albeit at a lower rate. This was most unjust.
    There are any number of photographs of former black confederates attending “United Confederate Veteran” and “Association of the Army of Northern Virgina” conventions.
    I have read a number of first person accounts in which it is mentioned that some light complexioned individuals with “home town” connections were simply allowed to enlist as white.
    Blacks were allowed to serve as seamen in the Confederate Navy throughout the war.(CSS Alabama, etc.) This was also true of the US Navy and had been a commonplace before the war in that service.
    At the end of the war the Confederate Congress passed legislation allowing black enlistment. These troops were in training when the war ended. pl

  62. Andy says:

    Col. Lang,

    It would seem clear to me that the freed slaves and European immigrants would provide that pool.

    You’re probably right to a certain extent. Be that as it may, I still maintain my position that it’s very unlikely, at best, that the northern states would have funded such an enterprise. The incentives would have to be significant to induce the slave-holding states to voluntarily participate and it’s not clear what benefit such outlays would provide the north (short of possibly avoiding war, of course, but few at the time understood the costs the civil war would bring).
    Then there is are important details. Would the money be paid to the slave-holding states, slave -holders or the slaves themselves? If payments are not made directly to slaves, how does one ensure they are fairly compensated, if compensated at all? The bureaucracy required to implement such a large income redistribution plan would be, ISTM, quite significant and the opportunity for graft and corruption vast.
    Is it possible that such a plan might have worked and avoided war? Yes, I think it’s possible based on hindsight – not very practical, not very likely – but still possible. The question really is if contemporaries would see it that way, particularly with no idea of the civil war’s cost and its reverberations that we still feel today. From my perspective, it’s hard to see how those contemporaries would make that choice.

  63. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Your “confusion” over the idea of whom would be compensated is absurd. It leads me to think that you are merley a “provocateur.”
    As to your doubt as to whether or not the North would have been willing to pay for compensated emancipation I would point out to you that in the pre-war years the South would have been paying as well. With regard to the North, did they think slavery was a serious matter or not? you can’t have it both ways.
    You need either to do some more research and thinking on this or knock off the baloney. pl

  64. T.S. Wittig says:

    I am enjoying the debate on the civil war. Thank you everyone.
    To me the appeal of Dr Paul is simply that he is engaging in the national discussions that we should be having but are not. In a better version of today, he would be campaigning to have “Live Free or Die” on more license plates rather than for president / national savior.
    Forgive my treatise Col, but it is important to recognize that we are in a significant transitional era in our history, on par with the Founding and the Civil War/Railroad/National Expansion Era. Throw in the end of the Cold War, the shift from a manufacturing to a service economy, the rise of IT, globalization, the global erosion of the state, and whatever other pet issue in this perfect storm, and our country is, to use one of your favorite words Colonel, “changing,” but in what direction is yet uncertain.
    In this context it seems like we as a society and country should be talking about at least the following questions:
    1. What is our place in the world?
    2: What is the shape of our economy?
    3. How centralized should the United States become?
    4. Why are we so fat?
    I think Dr Paul raises some interesting points about 1, 2, and 3.
    For example, given our global position, do we really want an empire (tempting to some, but no), or do we want to shrink down to a self-sufficient regional power as Paul seems to argue (also tempting, but no), or do we update our post-WWII strategy to build and tweak the international system to both promote our ideals and our national interests? Most people seem to want the latter, but four thousand meet the presses later no viable options have been fielded.
    Or, is a service oriented economy really sustainable? Can all of us really be consultants and contractors? Should we actively export our management and service expertise, and have Americans literally run the world that way? How best can we use all this great infrastructure to actually make things? In this vein, I thought his positions about an open immigration policy and unilaterally dropping tariffs to zero are interesting, although probably not tenable.
    And, do not the internet and mass education mean we could allow citizens to increasingly “stand aloof” from the government rather than simply accepting that the creeping centralized national security state as either inevitable or necessary? Paul’s libertarianism speaks to these questions, but again doesn’t give very workable answers.
    I could go on with more questions I have and I wish I hear debated. But, good for Ron Paul. He may be wrong on a lot of things, but at least is talking asking the right questions, and using his brain unlike intellectual fat a**es like Russert.
    Happy Hogmanay!

  65. Cieran says:

    My thanks to you and your cohorts here for this fascinating discussion on the Civil War.
    Last night, I found myself watching Martin Ritt’s classic “The Molly Maguires”, and I couldn’t help but view this film almost entirely through the lens of your comments about Irish immigrants as industrial slaves. The film is set in 1876, but the story makes it clear that the de facto slavery of the Irish mineworkers had begun decades earlier.
    I hadn’t seen this film in years, and had forgotten the strong performances of Sean Connery and Richard Harris as two hard-luck Irish immigrants with very different strategies for rising out of indentured servitude towards a realization of the American dream. And it’s full of interesting questions about the history of U.S. domestic terrorism.
    So thanks to you and your community of scholars for informing my movie-watching. There’s nothing I like better than learning new ideas in my old age.

  66. Andy says:

    Col, Lang,
    I don’t see why you would think me a provocateur, particularly in this discussion which, to me anyway, is comparable to any number of “what if” alternative history scenarios – intellectually interesting but not much else. What purpose could I possibly serve by stirring up trouble here? Is there any basis beyond disagreement and my ignorance of pre-civil war America that would indicate ulterior motives on my part?
    As to the question of who gets paid, my larger point in bringing that up is that details matter in such endeavors. It’s one thing to suggest that a particular course of action is possible or even desirable in concept but implementation is another matter entirely – particularly on an issue as divisive and immense in scope as slavery.
    I have said the concept might be possible – I just can’t envision how it could be successfully implemented. I fully admit the cause may be my own lack of vision, ignorance on the history, some other bias or all of the above. Perhaps someone with more expertise on the subject could fill in some of the details and educate me and others on how it might be implemented?

  67. Andy says:

    T.S. Wittig,
    Some very good questions that I think really get to the heart of the matter. My view is that the US currently lacks direction and a strategic vision for the 21st century. Both Clinton and Bush have taken us toward a unilaterally interventionist America – something that hasn’t worked out to well for us (to say the least). Americans are bitterly divided over what role our nation should play and how we should play it.

  68. I’ve been noodling through this Civil War issue for a few days. Of course, arguing over “could have beens” is really only for entertainment. Regardless, here are my thoughts as a southerner.
    The South is much more complex than the rest of the country is able to understand. If you grew up in the South, you understand it. If not, good luck at trying to figure it out. The Southern culture was, up until the last 40-50 years in my opinion, the most mature and well-defined culture in this country. Although I’m sure small sections of New England gave it a run for its money. But I’ve never lived in New England.
    First thing to remember is that the Civil War still means something to a lot of Southerners. Not as much as the years pass. But moreso than the rest of the country. Whenever someone says “America has never lost a war on its own soil” they are wrong. Southerners have. We lost. It doesn’t bother a lot of us that we did. For others, it means something. They feel at war today with the rest of the country. They’ve felt like their culture has been under attack ever since these folks showed up after the Civil War:
    There are lot of proud people down there. They are proud of their traditions and ancestry. I’m proud of mine. My family fought in the Revolution, the War of 1812, and in the Civil War. Some were slaveholders. Most were not. Although my GGGrandfather fought for NC in the Civil War, his son helped build the Republican Party at the turn of the century in his county and was very well respected by the African-American community. His son, my grandfather, on the other hand was a staunch Democrat and was as racist as they come. Interestingly, he took after his mother who’s ancestors were slaveholders rather than his father who’s family never owned slaves (as far as we know). Imagine a husband who was tolerant and a wife who was a racist trying to live together today.
    Fact is, though, many of us Southerners are proud of our heritage and culture while rejecting racism and its slavery past.
    So, here’s my take on Ron Paul’s 1-2 minute discussion about the Civil War. First off, I’ve never heard this argument before. It’s not like we sat around talking Civil War history every night on the veranda while sipping our mint julips and using y’all in the singular (don’t get me started on that!) when I was growing up. I found his argument off the wall. Maybe “buying” the slaves and freeing them would have worked like Ron Paul said it did for the British Empire. From my miniscule research though, it looks like lots of planters suffered from that plan. So I’m not so sure the Southerners would have accepted it. That’s all a moot point anyway. We all know the reality.
    Personally, I think he is talking directly to his southern constituency. That doesn’t automatically mean he is trying to garner racist votes. I don’t know what’s in his heart, and he could very well be a racist. Who knows? But just because he’s talking to the only folks in this country who lost a war on our own soil doesn’t mean he’s a racist. Southerners are no different from other folks – we don’t like outsiders coming in and telling us how to live. Ron Paul is talking to us. Apart from African-Americans and a smattering of “lefties,” I cannot think of anyone else in the country who really cares about his views on the Civil War. Hell, most Americans can’t even tell you what century it was fought in, much less what started it and how it influenced politics for 100 years.
    This was a “gotch-ya” by Russert. A Yankee, I might add. So for Ron Paul’s constituency, he was doing nothing more than telling that Yankee whatfor!
    (BTW – Russert isn’t a Damn Yankee, just a Yankee. A Yankee is someone passing through on their way to Florida. A Damn Yankee stops and decides to live here!)

  69. J.T. Davis says:

    I knew Walter Williams was black, didn’t know about Smith. I don’t find this hard to believe at all, free blacks, or even black slaves serving in the CSA in some capacity. It makes perfect sense that some might choose to do so. In a way it makes FDR look bad for interning the Japanese during WWII but I can also recognize the danger some may have faced at the hands of white Americans, so I don’t scoff at all claims that it may have done for their protection, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team not withstanding. As I said, I haven’t read DiLorenzo’s book but I came across this review by a fellow at the Claremont Institute, It’s brutal.
    I’m no economist but I have read a good deal here and there that is unflattering, to say the least, about the Austrian School economists, and that is pretty much who we are talking about here, be it DiLorenzo, Williams or Dr. Paul. I also take the Austrian’s historical analysis with a grain of salt because they still sing the praises of Harry Elmer Barnes over at Lew Rockwell and often promote other revisionist histories and historians, some bordering on conspiracism, such as Stinnett’s “Day of Deceit”. He claims FDR had foreknowledge of the attack on Pearl Harbor and allowed it to happen. I always try to err on the side of the structural and institutional analysis rather than the temptation towards conspiracism. We have too much of that today, But I would be curious to hear your historical analysis of the political and economic causes of the civil war.

  70. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Thanks for asking.
    As David H. has said. it is my view that CWZ is correct and that the South is a much more complex place than Northern folk generally are willing to admit or know. The images of the South in most American films, etc. are cartoonish and trivial. It is usually only when the South is protrayed by a foreign director or author that a complex picture of good and bad emerges. I guess I qualify as a “foreign writer,” since I was not raised in the South. I think of films like “Driving Miss Daisy,” and “Doc Hollywood” in saying that. In general, the North has declined to accept the idea that the South is a separate cultural area. This was visible as far back as the early 19th century. I would direct you to “Albion’s Seed” or Grady McWhiney’s “Cracker Culture” for demonstrations of both the separateness and the long maintained attitude in the North that a “New South” is aborning. That opinion was strongly argued as far back as the 1830s. The Northern attitude usually is that Southerners are merely backward, ignorant, inbred, etc.
    In fact, the patterns of settlement and the origins of the colonists seem to have foreordained the emergence of two regions with markedly different cultures which, probably inevitable were going to be rivals and somewhat hostile to each other.
    This drama was played out in 19th century American history through a long struggle over power in the federal government and increasingly in the US Senate.
    I think it took real skill to prevent the break up of the union created in the US Constitution, skill that we ran out of in the 1850s.
    I agree with whomever said it in a comment that Lincoln went to war to save the Union. Where the commenter and I probably differ is that I feel sure that Lincoln favored a “union” in which the power of the states was much reduced. The South believed that in 1860, and that is why they “went out.” They did it because they believed that in Lincoln’s version of the Union, in the context of ever growing Northern industrial and demographic power, the South would become a dominated cultural region held in contempt by the “others.”
    If you listen to the TV newsy rubbish, you will hear people say that Huckabee (not my choice for president)seems an intelligent man underneath the Southernness and backwoods humor. Were the Southerners of 1860 incorrect in their belief in where they would end if things went on as the trend indicated?
    Once again, the race thing in the South is and was a lot more complicated than the South haters want to believe. I wonder how many people who will read this will know that there a lot of free black people in the South before 1860 and that quite a few of them owned slaves. My novel is to some extent concerned with this complexity although I hope it does not descend into didacticism.
    I think that the continuing importance of the Civil war lies in the crisis that erupted then over the nature of the American state and the limits of power in that state and its different parts.
    That struggle is still very much with us. pl

  71. Andy says:

    Col. Lang,
    Agree very much with this:

    I think that the continuing importance of the Civil war lies in the crisis that erupted then over the nature of the American state and the limits of power in that state and its different parts.
    That struggle is still very much with us.

    I find much to agree with in the rest of your comment as well.
    Additionally, CWZ provided some great commentary on Southern culture.
    It reminded me of a conversation I had many years ago while visiting the Shiloh battlefield. I was walking back to the parking lot and began talking to a young mother and her daughter. After a bit, she asked if I was a northerner or a southerner to which I replied “neither” since I was raised in the west (and not California, which is kind of like the West’s version of Florida – a regional anomaly). I explained to her that I considered myself a westerner and did not have a dog in the North vs South fight.
    It was only recently that I learned through my brother’s genealogical research that my family actually has deep southern roots – the mountain west portion of our history began in the early 1990’s. Before that it was Texas after the Civil War, Mississippi before and during the war and North Carolina in the late 1700’s which is the further my brother has been able to trace so far. My direct paternal ancestor was part of the 17th Mississippi and survived the war.
    Such knowledge certainly has given me a new appreciation for the South and the history of the Civil War.

  72. Andy says:

    In my last comment “1990’s” should be “1900’s.” Apologies for the typo.

  73. J.T. Davis says:

    Some of us Yankees can even manage to go duck hunting without killing the dog or shooting ourselves in the foot. And Cheney’s from Wyoming so we don’t consider him as real Yankee.
    If you listen to the TV newsy rubbish, you will hear people say that Huckabee (not my choice for president)seems an intelligent man underneath the Southernness and backwoods humor.
    This is true about the way The DC Villagers treated Carter, and even Clinton to a some extent.
    David Broder is said to have made this comment about Clinton to Sally Quinn (she’s a southern gal): “He came in here and he trashed the place and it wasn’t his place.”
    This attitude is starting to anger people from many regions of the country.
    I’ve never been south of the northern part of Virginia but I do read and can’t imagine any intelligent person could read the great writers and playwrights from the south and come away poorer and thinking the southern mind or culture is in any way backward or ignorant or inferior to the north’s. I’ve been to some parts of New Jersey where it’s not too difficult to find backward and ignorant. Culture? Forget about it. The southern culture is distinctly different and different cultures should be perserved if at all possible. Once they are gone, they are gone for good. As far as movies go, I thought Ang Lee’s “Ride With the Devil” was a damn good film about the Kansas-Missouri border wars. According to Wiki it failed at the Box Office because of the positive portrayal of a black man who rode with Quantrill:
    The film was intended to be a summer blockbuster, costing over US$35 million to produce (a large sum for most Westerns). However, despite majority positive reviews by film critics it received negative press after screenings because of the portrayal of a Black Confederate guerrilla by Jeffrey Wright in a role based on Free Black John Noland who rode with Confederate raider Quantrill. It was released on around 140 screens in the U.K. for a limited run and made barely over £100,000. It was then released without any promotion on 8 U.S. screens for a limited run of only three days (January 20-22, 2000) fetching only $64,000. The scheduled home video release of the movie was delayed four months so the distributor could alter the cover art and remove Jeffrey Wright’s image from the front video and DVD and as of 2003 had yet to turn a profit.
    It is based on the novel Woe to Live On, by Daniel Woodrell and the screenplay was written by James Schamus.

  74. Cieran says:

    As a damned yankee myself (i.e., someone from the north who moved south and then had the temerity to marry one of the flowers of southern womanhood), I have found the appreciation of southern culture to be fundamentally important in understanding how this great nation works.
    I recently read Jim Webb’s “Born Fighting”, and would include that amazing book in my short list of must-reads on American culture. Webb’s recollection of Scots-Irish culture and its history in America reads like a good novel while it uncovers various threads of Americana from circa 1700 AD to the present. That man is a true American treasure.
    Senator Webb’s book is a great way to learn how to respect those important parts of America that the corporate pundits denigrate (or ignore altogether).

  75. Grimgrin says:

    I just think that America would not exist today if it hadn’t had it’s civil war when it did. A generation or so earlier and the North would not have had the strength to win. A generation or so later and the Maxim gun and barbed wire would have been in common use, and the war would likely have been an even bloodier stalemate.
    As for the issue of slavery, it reminds me of how after the invasion of Iraq the Bush administration started talking up “democracy and freedom” when the war had been sold as dealing with WMD’s and Al Quaeda connections. The Civil War was about whether the ultimate authority in the United States of America was with the States or with the Federal government. Slavery was the moral purpose that got attached to the war post facto. It’s also an efficient way of delegitimizing the cause that confederate soldiers fought for, and states rights in general.
    On thr original topic I agree with the assessment of Dr. Ron Paul as identifying the problems but coming up with bad solutions. Though I have to say that w.r.t. the mainstream media this (admittedly Canadian) west coast liberal hates those assholes as much as anyone else here.

  76. jonst says:

    Agree with you re Webb’s book. If you are interested, Kevin Phillips does an excellent job on Scots-Irish in The Cousins’ Wars. And he does an even better job on the same subject in American Theocracy. Ties in the Afrikaners, Northern Irish Protestants, and the Southern Baptists, post civil war,and what Phillips indicates is their omnipresent, multi generational, sense of martyrdom, and ‘chosen people’ mentality. I don’t know in the end that he ‘makes a sale’, I don’t know enough about the subject matter. But it is a very provocative thesis.

  77. “Some of us Yankees can even manage to go duck hunting without…shooting ourselves in the foot.”
    Obviously you haven’t been drinking enough. Where’s the fun in that? The more advanced civilizations understand that whiskey and firearms are best enjoyed together.
    “As a damned yankee myself (i.e., someone from the north who moved south and then had the temerity to marry one of the flowers of southern womanhood),…”
    Pass the smelling salts, someone’s stolen one of our Belles!
    On a serious note, Southern culture is being absorbed into the great white noise of modern America just like the rest of the country’s unique cultural pockets. I’m originally from Atlanta. It still had some southern traits when I was growing up in the 1970s. Now, it is just another American city. Towns like Raleigh are not far behind. These folks are disappearing fast:
    High Tiders
    And these folks are pretty much gone forever:
    I’m more saddened than angry when we lose yet another old subculture anywhere in our country.
    Some people get angry, and they vote accordingly.

  78. J.T. Davis says:

    Obviously you haven’t been drinking enough. Where’s the fun in that? The more advanced civilizations understand that whiskey and firearms are best enjoyed together.
    You may be right. It’s better to shoot one’s self in the foot than shoot one’s friend in the face.
    When you are duck hunting, a little nip to keep out the cold is fine by me.

  79. Cieran says:

    Thanks for the tip re: Kevin Phillips’ books. His “American Theocracy” is sitting on my read-me-next shelf right now, right behind Gibson’s new novel “Spook Country” (I find that alternating fiction and non-fiction helps preserve some semblance of my sanity).
    But I’m currently reading my favorite Christmas present: Richard Rhodes’ new book “Arsenals of Folly” on the subject of the nuclear arms race. Like Rhodes’ other books on nuclear topics, it’s an engaging and technically-accurate read. It’s also chock full of the usual neocon suspects, including Cheney pushing for regime change… in the USSR!
    These people need to learn some new material…

  80. jonst says:

    You’re welcomed! Presently, I’m reading “Cybercrime: Digital Cops in a Networked Environment”, for work. And, “The Dead Shall Rise Again”, about the Leo Frank case.
    If you think of it….I would be interested in hearing what you thought of the Gibson work. I have it on order.

  81. Cieran says:

    If you think of it….I would be interested in hearing what you thought of the Gibson work. I have it on order.
    Will do!
    And with any luck, Monday’s UPS delivery will bring “The Butcher’s Cleaver”, which is up right after Gibson in the fiction queue. It’s great to have a few days off over the holidays to get caught up on my reading!

  82. W. Patrick Lang says:

    I see some mention in this discussion of the CW and its politics of “might have beens,” “the saddest of all words” etc.
    My interest in the war has nothing to do with that. I find the war and the cultural matrices that produced it and were produced by it to be an admirable mirror in which to judge ourselves and what we have, in fact, become, and are still becoming. pl

  83. Arun says:

    From the NYT, Eric Foner:
    “As slavery expanded into the Deep South, a flourishing internal slave trade replaced importation from Africa. Between 1808 and 1860, the economies of older states like Virginia came increasingly to rely on the sale of slaves to the cotton fields of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. But demand far outstripped supply, and the price of slaves rose inexorably, placing ownership outside the reach of poorer Southerners.
    Let us imagine that the African slave trade had continued in a legal and open manner well into the 19th century. It is plausible to assume that hundreds of thousands if not millions of Africans would have been brought into the country.
    This most likely would have resulted in the “democratization” of slavery as prices fell and more and more whites could afford to purchase slaves, along with a further increase in Southern political power thanks to the Constitution’s three-fifths clause. These were the very reasons advanced by South Carolina’s political leaders when they tried, unsuccessfully, to reopen the African slave trade in the 1850s.
    More slaves would also have meant heightened fear of revolt and ever more stringent controls on the slave population. It would have reinforced Southerners’ demands to annex to the United States areas suitable for plantation slavery in the Caribbean and Central America. Had the importation of slaves continued unchecked, the United States could well have become the hemispheric slave-based empire of which many Southerners dreamed.
    Jan. 1, 1808, is worth commemorating not only for what it directly accomplished, but for helping to save the United States from a history even more terrible than the Civil War that eventually rid our country of slavery.”

  84. W. Patrick Lang says:

    This is Foner’s long standing opinion. He, like many others, have created a strongly backed, ex post facto case for support of the holocaust of the Civil war.
    In fact, the CSA government did nothing during its four years of existence to re-open the international slave trade.
    With regard to the domestic existence of slavery the constitution of the CS reserved the right to the states of legislation concerning its existence.
    An alternative view to Foner’s holds that the CS, like Brazil, would have gradually abolished slavery. It was obviously an institution that had to be done away with. pl

  85. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Here’s an interesting economic analysis from the Austrian perspective, titled, “Slavery, Profitability, and the Market Proces” by Mark Thornton. I don’t consider myself Rothbardian but the essay presents some strong arguments and is a good read:
    The article references some of the luminaries of Southern historians — Kenneth Stamp, Eugene Genovese, and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese — a woman I have come to respect, particularly since the mid 1990’s when she took some enormously unpopular academic stands.
    The works of C. Vann Woodward — particularly Origins of the New South — were required reading in my household when I was growing up. Highly recommended, although it focuses on the South at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th Century.
    Actually, from what I can recall, Wallerstein’s works led to a new historiography that revised much of Southern history. Looks like there is a push back now against the new revisionist school. Suits me.
    Quick anecdote that may have some relevance both in the 1860’s and perhaps today when analyzing US foreign policy. My father told me a story once and it goes something like this: When the Union army was ravaging Tennessee, some soldiers captured a “rebel”. He was barefoot and starving. And it was obvious he did not own any slaves. Finally one of the Union officers asked him, “Why do you people fight like hell?” And the Confederate soldier looked up, gave him a stare, and said, “Cuz’ ‘yer here.”

  86. Cieran says:

    As per your suggestion, here’s my take on William Gibson’s new book: it’s GREAT! It’s got many similarities (and some identical characters) to “Pattern Recognition”, and it’s really funny and astute. I heartily recommend it!
    I’m also sad to report that Amazon has delayed my shipment of “The Butcher’s Cleaver”… if only we could get one of our “change-centric” presidential candidates to mandate some changes to Amazon’s logistics systems to get my Col. Lang book on time!

  87. excemeOwest says:

    I risk to seem the layman, but nevertheless I will ask, whence it and who in general has written?

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