In its opinion sections, the Daily Caller continues to publish whatever garbage leftist columnists send to it, including a recent utter garbage, written of course by the utterly-discredited leftist libertarian Jack Hunter, who doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
Firstly, it is ridiculous for him to lecture anyone on the true meaning of “conservatism” and the definition of who a conservative is, because he doesn’t understand these definitions himself and is NOT a conservative. Secondly, no, Ron Paul, as we shall see, is DEFINITELY not a conservative (let alone the most conservative presidential candidate), and calling him one is false and insulting to every REAL conservative, including myself.
Thirdly, despite Hunter’s claims that:
„Paul’s Pentagon cuts, which aren’t much different from what Sen. Tom Coburn has suggested, are necessary to streamline our military and tackle our debt problem.”
His cuts are very much different from what Sen. Tom Coburn has suggested (in terms of specifics – Paul provides no specific proposals in his budget plan, while Coburn does – the fact that Coburn’s proposals would be utterly disastrous is a different matter), and NO, they are NOT necessary to “streamline” the military and tackle the debt problem. It is unclear what Hunter means by “streamlinling the military”; if by that he means reforming it, he’s wrong, because 1) budget cuts are NOT necessary to reform the military and would actually impede the task; and 2) Paul has proposed NO specific reforms of the US military and the DOD, just a huge budgetary cut.
Hunter then used Tom Coburn as a shield for Paul:
“Coburn has allies besides Paul in this fight, or as National Review’s Jamie Fly writes:
FreedomWorks, a Washington-based group that purports to speak for the Tea Party movement, issued its own “Tea Party Budget” containing the recommendations of its debt commission. They suggested enacting defense-spending reforms previously proposed by Sen. Tom Coburn that would result in almost $1 trillion in savings over ten years.”
Coburn is an utterly discredited anti-defense libertarian, so if I were Hunter, I would not even mention his name. I’ve actually read and analyzed his proposals, and have written about them extensively (for example here and here). They would be utterly disastrous if implemented. He proposes to cut the USAF’s ICBM fleet by 200 missiles, from 500 to 300; cut the ballistic missile submarine fleet from 14 to 11; cut the carrier fleet and the number of carrier wings; cease the production of combat-proven (in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya) V-22 aircraft; unilateral cuts in the already-too-small nuclear stockpile; cancel the F-35’s B and C variants just as they are getting back on track; cancel the PTSS anti-ballistic-missile satellite EW program; delay the next-gen bomber program until the mid-2020s (when it will be too late); cancel the production of amphibious assault vehicles; implement many more damaging cuts; and do all of that for purely budgetary reasons, not because of any military factors, in isolation from any military issues. The cuts to the ICBM and SSBN fleets alone would dramatically reduce and weaken America’s nuclear deterrent and possibly even encourage a Russian nuclear first strike on the US.
Yet, as damaging as Coburn’s (and Paul’s) defense cuts would be, they would utterly fail to balance the budget. $1 trillion in defense cuts over a decade is $100 bn per year – just 1/15th of the annual budget deficit. This would mean unilateral disarmament in exchange for a tiny reduction of the budget deficit.
Hunter then lied further that:
“There’s a reason that Paul is the only presidential candidate who has been able to offer $1 trillion in cuts. He is the only candidate willing to address the black hole that is Pentagon spending. After entitlements, “defense” spending is the largest part of our budget. Still, Paul allows for a military budget four times the size of China’s and larger than President Bush’s 2005 military budget.
This is what Morris calls “dismantling the military.””
Firstly, the claim that “Pentagon spending” is a “black hole” is both false and insulting. It is a blatant lie, just like most of what Hunter writes. The DOD’s budget is NOT a black hole – it is always passed by Congress as a specific, limited amount of money – limited both in terms of the topline and in terms of what it can be spent on. It is not a “black hole”, but rather the #1 Constitutional DUTY of the federal government, as stated by the Constitution in its Preamble and the fourth section of its fourth Article:
“The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.”
The Constitution actually PRIORITIZES national defense and elevates it above all other issues. Of the 17 enumerated prerogatives of the Congress stated in Art. I, Sec. 8 of the Constitution, 9 (i.e. more than half) deal with military matters.
Hunter even denies that the Pentagon budget is defense spending, calling it “defense” spending with a quotation mark. His claim that after entitlements, military spending is the largest part of the federal budget is technically true, but only because entitlements by themselves consume a full 58% part of the federal budget – leaving little money for everything else, including the military, which must content itself with a mere 19% share. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, the Federal Government devotes just 19% of its budget to its #1 Constitutional duty. And as the military budget is whacked further and entitlements continue to grow on autopilot, these proportions will get even worse for the DOD and even better for entitlements.
The military budget is a tiny portion of federal spending – just 19% of the total, 4.51% of GDP (lower than it was throughout the entire Cold War except FY1948), and just $2,100 per capita, less than it was throughout the entire Cold War, including the Reagan years. Calling it a “black hole” is a blatant lie. Cutting defense spending is NOT necessary to balance the budget, as both the Heritage Foundation and the Republican Study Committee have shown.
Paul’s budget plan would allow for only a $501 bn defense budget, less than 3.5% of GDP and the lowest proportion since before WW2 (excluding the late Clinton years). Moreover, it allows for NO funding of the DOE whatsoever, not even for its defense-related programs, which presumes that they would be moved to the DOD. Their budget for the current FY is $17 bn under the FY2012 NDAA, so that would leave only $484 bn as a core defense budget, not $501 bn. This would be barely $3 bn higher than Bush’s FY2005 core defense budget (which was $481.08 bn adjusted for inflation to today’s dollars) and MUCH SMALLER than his TOTAL FY2005 military budget, which included GWOT spending (which was $87 bn in nominal dollars in FY2005 and whichPaul would end completely and immediately if it depended on him). Last but not least, under Paul’s plan, defense budgets would not, after FY2013, even keep up with inflation, which means they would be cut in real terms STILL further.
Moreover, whatever total figure the defense budget was in FY2005 – seven fiscal years ago – is totally irrelevant as to what it should be today. The defense budget must be determined SOLELY on the basis of the the threat environment of today and the one expected for tomorrow, not according to some past budgetary figure. But Hunter, as a guy totally ignorant about defense and budgetary issues, doesn’t understand that.
The claim that it would be four times larger than the PLA’s budget is also utterly false. China’s military budget for FY2011 was $185 bn; to be four times larger, Paul’s defense budget would have to be 4x$185 bn, i.e. $740 bn, which is not going to happen (and $740 bn is not needed, ca. $550 bn should be enough). But equally importantly, in China, things are 3-4 times cheaper than they are in the US, meaning that if PPP differences are accounted for, China already has a larger defense budget than the US.
Furthermore, let’s not forget that Paul is the chief GOP defender of the sequestration’s mechanism and its defense cuts totalling $1.065 TRILLION, which, if implemented, WILL gut the military.
Cutting defense spending significantly to balance the budget would be a foolish mistake. It would be penny-wise and pound-foolish. It would save little money in the short-term and zero in the long term, because eventually, America’s military weakness would encourage aggression and launch America into another war that would be costly in terms of both money and blood. America’s current military spending, at 4.51% of GDP, is a small and worthy investment in preventing war.
As George Washington rightly said, “timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it.” He was also right to warn of “the uncertainty of procuring a warlike apparatus at the moment of public danger.” It’s much better to prepare for war and to prevent it rather than arming yourself post factum, when war has already begun.
Last but not least, if Paul is going to implement Tom Coburn’s defense cuts proposals, or anything similar, that IS going to gut the military for the same reasons I listed in my critiques of Coburn’s proposals, while failing to reform the DOD. So Dick Morris was right – Ron Paul DOES want to dismantle the military – as does veteran pacifist Barack Obama (who is, like Paul, an ardent supporter of the sequestration mechanism). That is a fact.
Then, Hunter invoked Russell Kirk: “But since we’re discussing conservatism, let’s take a look at what Russell Kirk had to say about this subject.” He quoted Kirk’s objections to Operation Desert Storm.
Kirk had reasons for his concerns. But with regard to Desert Storm, they were unfounded. That operation was limited in scope and objectives. Its only goal was to kick Saddam Hussein’s military out of Kuwait and cripple it. Once these goals were achieved, President Bush the Elder brought US troops back home. He didn’t say “Oh, let’s go further, take Baghdad and topple Saddam Hussein, because the opportunity has presented itself!”
Conducting Desert Storm was the RIGHT thing to do. There was no way that the US could’ve tolerated Saddam’s drive to dominate the entire Middle East and his threat to Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest reservoir of oil. It had NOTHING to do with 9/11, which was perpetrated by Al-Qaeda, which was hostile to Saddam Hussein.
But don’t waste your breath telling that to Hunter, who bombastically (and falsely) claims that
“For basically every position Morris calls “liberal” or “radically left-wing” you can find some of the most prominent and respected names in American conservatism agreeing with Paul.”
Which is a lie, because there are many issues (e.g. defense, foreign policy, abortion, traditional marriage, etc.) on which there isn’t a single prominent, respected conservative who agrees Ron Paul. This is ESPECIALLY visible on the issue of defense, which is understandable that in order to be a conservative you MUST support a strong defense and generous funding for it. Providing generous, adequate funding for a strong defense, not constraining it with disarmament treaties, making sure that the military is adequately trained, housed, AND equipped with the most modern and most lethal weapons America can produce – this is an INTEGRAL, IRREMOVABLE part of conservative philosophy (as opposed to libertarianism) and is the biggest difference that distinguishes us conservatives from libertarians (including Ron Paul).
“Morris’s mistake is definitional. What Morris calls “conservatism” is simply the current conventional Republicanism. One does not necessarily equal the other. Ask Barry Goldwater. Ask Ronald Reagan. Ask Ron Paul.”
Ron Paul is not an authority on anything, let alone on the definition of conservatism, because he’s not a conservative. As for Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan – both of them fervently supported a strong defense and a hawkish foreign policy; Goldwater’s policy might’ve even been a little too hawkish (in 1964, he said he would drop a nuclear bomb on Northern Vietnam). Both of them would’ve strongly opposed, and campaign against, Ron Paul if they were alive today (sadly, they’re not).
Moreover, defense spending and the war in Iraq are hardly the only aspects of foreign policy on which Paul is completely at odds with conservatism and conservatives – he’s completely at odds with us conservatism on the entire FP spectrum.
So whom does Hunter quote as an authority on conservatism and its history? None other than the extremely-leftist, anti-defense, anti-Republican, Soros-supported J Street propagandist Peter Beinart of the liberal TDB:
“Here’s where Morris and Gingrich really show their ignorance. Writes The Daily Beast’s Peter Beinart (…)”
Not that I care about what Beinart says, but I’ll refute just one of his Coolidge quotes, namely that “The people have had all the war, all the taxation, and all the military service they want.”
In fact, the public does not support defense cuts: according to multiple polls conducted last year, 57% of Americans oppose any such cuts, and 82% opposed any defense cuts by the Super Committee and the sequester. Military service is voluntary in the United States, yet more people join the military’s ranks than the DOD can accept.
Hunter then lied, trying to whitewash his boss, that:
„Much has been made about the fact that Paul criticized Reagan in 1988 and bolted to run third party out of disgust with the Republican Party. Yet, Paul’s beef was not that he was against the Reagan Revolution, only that it had failed to live up to its promise in terms of shrinking government. Paul was one of only four congressmen to endorse Reagan in 1976. So Paul was one of Reagan’s earliest supporters — and later his criticism was that Reagan wasn’t “Reagan” enough.”
That is utter garbage. That is NOT what Ron Paul was saying at the time. What Paul REALLY criticized and bashed Reagan for were, almost exclusively, his defense buildup and his staunchly anti-Communist global foreign policy. THAT is what Paul bashed Reagan for. THAT is what most of Paul’s farewell letter to the GOP in 1987 was about. Paul, of course, repeated the “defense is a big government project” lie in his letter a few times, and Hunter repeats it like a robot to this day. But it doesn’t change the fact that Hunter’s claim was a lie. Paul couldn’t care less about the size and scope of government; all he cared about was gutting America’s defense.
As for the false claim that the Reagan Revolution “had failed to live up to its promise of shrinking government”, it’s also a lie. Ronald Reagan cut the EPA’s budget by 22% in his first year and reduced spending as a share of GDP, while massively cutting taxes, abolishing wage and price controls, deregulating the oil and railroad industries, abolishing the ban on nuclear fuel recycling, eliminating tons of needless regulations, laying off thousands of bureaucrats in the DOD and further thousands in other agencies, reforming welfare programs, etc. Of course, he did not achieve everything he had hoped for, e.g. abolishing the Education Department and the DOE, which he always advocated. But there is a limit to what a President can achieve without the Congress on his side. Throughout his entire tenure, Reagan was fought fiercely by a House (and from 1987, a Senate) dominated by liberal Democrats such as Tip O’Neill. Reagan was merely a President, not a dictator.
Nonetheless, Ron Paul, together with his buddies Murray Rothbard and Lew Rockwell, slandered Ronald Reagan in the worst possible terms. Leaving aside Paul’s slanderous 1987 letter and his infamous 1988 interview with the Dallas Morning News, Rothbard and Rockwell, with Paul’s tacit approval, called Reagan a “warmonger” and called on the Congress to impeach him and remove him from office. When Reagan left office – but with all honors and with a high popularity rating – Rothbard called him a cretin and claimed that his tenure was “eight dreary, miserable, mind-numbing years”. This was the same Rothbard who was Paul’s intellectual father.
„To this day, Paul remains to the right of Reagan on government size and scope — hardly a “left-wing” position.”
No, he does not and he never was. Ron Paul is to the left of Reagan on these issues. He supports massive pork projects and defends them. He supports transferring tons of money out of the defense budget and into entitlement programs to appease the entitlement class. He also believes that states have the right to impose Big Government and any violations of individual liberties on their citizens – even those perpetrated by the California state government. He’s PERFECTLY FINE with Big Government – as long as it is imposed by states and not the federal government. To those who object, he says “leave your state”. In that regard, he’s indistinguishable from other Big Government Republicans like Mitt Romney.
Hunter then shamefully used Ronald Reagan, whom his boss and his buddies regularly slandered throughout the 1980s and later, as cover for his lunatic boss:
“But where Paul did admire Reagan in the mid-to-late ’80s is where Newt Gingrich and other Republican hawks most certainly did not. When Paul says today that we should always exhaust all diplomatic efforts before going to war — with Iran, for example — Paul’s Republican critics call him “weak” or an “appeaser.” They said the same about Reagan. When Reagan met with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985, Gingrich called it “the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Chamberlain in 1938 at Munich.””
Firstly, Ron Paul never admired Ronald Reagan, especially not during the mid-to-late 1980s, when he constantly spat on him together with his buddies Rothbard and Rockwell. Secondly, Ron Paul is not saying „exhaust all diplomatic efforts before going to war” – he’s saying „no wars ever, not even if America is attacked, because America is always to blade for all of the world’s problems”, as evidenced by his opposition to going to war in Afghanistan in 2001 and his criticism of the US entering WW2. All of his rivals, on the other hand, are saying „exhaust all non-war options, but IF these efforts fail, we MUST be ready to go to war with Iran IF NEED BE.” As George Washington said, „to be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of keeping the peace.”
Thirdly, it is absolutely ridiculous to compare the rational, and, by Soviet standards, liberal Gorbachyov (Hunter can’t even get his name right) to the irrational mullahs ruling Iran, led by Ali Khamenei, and their irrational puppet speaker Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Gorbachyov was willing to make significant concessions and to liberalize the Soviet society. More recently, he has called for free elections and for Putin’s immediate resignation. He did not try to use force to keep Warsaw Pact states subjugated; he agreed to a peaceful dissolution of the Pact. OTOH, the irrational Iranian mullahs are suicidal and fanatical. They have repeatedly stated their desire to attack Israel and the US. They are co-responsible for 9/11 and are the bigest sponsors of Islamic terrorism in the world. If Reagan were President today, he wouldn’t have tried to reason with them. He would’ve dealt with them the same way he dealt with Colonel Qaddafi:
“Despite our repeated warnings, Qaddafi continued his reckless policy of intimidation, his relentless pursuit of terror. He counted on America to be passive. He counted wrong. I warned that there should be no place on Earth where terrorists can rest and train and practice their deadly skills. I meant it. I said that we would act with others, if possible, and alone if necessary to ensure that terrorists have no sanctuary anywhere. Tonight, we have.”
Wasn’t it the Libyan intervention that caused Rothbard and Rockwell to call Reagan a “warmonger” and call for his impeachment?
In any case, Hunter’s pathetic attempt to use Ronald Reagan as a cover for his boss and claim that Paul was a “Reagan admirer” is false and insulting. As are his lectures about the meaning of conservatism and the claim that Paul is a conservative and the most conservative Presidential candidate in the last 50 years – an honor that belongs undisputably to Reagan. Yet, Hunter not only falsely claimed that Reagan was merely “arguably the second most conservative candidate”, he claimed that Ron Paul advocates “strict constitutionalism:
“It could be reasonably argued that Reagan was the second-most conservative person to run for president in the last 50 years after Paul, whose strict constitutionalism no doubt continues to create controversy.”
That is also a blatant lie. Ron Paul is no adherent to constitutionalism. If he was, he would’ve accepted the ENTIRE Constitution as it is, instead of cherry-picking parts of the Constitution that he likes and rejecting those that he doesn’t like, such as the Constitutional authorizations of, and REQUIREMENTS FOR, a strong defense – which Ron Paul ardently opposes – and the Fourteenth Amendment, which incorporated the Bill of Rights against the states, thus protecting individual liberties. Paul ardently opposes both, which means he’s no constitutionalist and no adherer to the Constitution.
Ron Paul is not a conservative. Not by a long-shot. As Dick Morris has said, he’s an ultra-left wing politician who merely happens to agree with conservatives on a few issues.
But even a blind pig will find an earful of corn once in a while.
If you support defense cuts – let alone those massive defense cuts that Paul and Coburn advocate – you are not a conservative. Not by a long shot.
If you support a foreign policy of isolationism or appeasement, you are not a conservative.
If you believe that Big Government and abortion on demand are okay, as long as they’re imposed by state governments, you are most certainly not a conservative.
Mr Hunter, your lectures about conservatism could not be further from the truth.