Saturday, September 8, 2007

Thompson, bin Laden, Paul, Stossel, and 9/11

The two major video releases of this week were surely Fred Thomspon’s declaration of his presidential candidacy and Osama bin Laden’s declaration of his continued existence and his opposition to global warming and high taxes.

The very same night that we were doing our Debate at Lolita Bar about Islam, bin Laden was unveiling a new message to the West and Thompson was on Leno saying just enough conservative things to allow people to see him as the new Reagan if they so choose — and Republican primary voters are certainly eager to, so he may well end up being the Republican nominee and our next president.

The Republican candidate would have to be nightmarish indeed for me to prefer the likely Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton: the Clintons tried to socialize a seventh of the economy last time they were in the White House, and they seem likely to try again; meanwhile, Hillary’s arrogance seems undiminished, and at least one of my acquaintances, who shall remain nameless, can personally attest to the Clintons’ willingness to use their small army of thuggish private detectives in ways that bend the law to intimidate their opponents. (And I’ll just briefly note that Bush gets treated like the Anti-Christ for wanting roving wiretaps to more easily follow terrorists, but the Clintons sought the same powers even before 9/11, pretty openly hoping to use them for routine tax investigations and the like, which didn’t seem to freak out the press and activists in quite the same way.)

I am still worried, though, that Thompson may (not so unlike Reagan after all) be better at rhetorically hitting the right notes than at proposing specific, drastic changes that will reduce the size of government. In particular, though he has admirably called for extending the economy-boosting Bush tax cuts, he also refuses (last I knew) to vow that he would never raise taxes.


Bin Laden’s newly-released video, unlike Thompson’s, promises Americans that if we all just convert to Islam and abolish democracy, we will pay no taxes at all, merely a 2.5% Zakaat tithe — but he also praises leftist Noam Chomsky (the linguist who has sold so many books to so many tattooed college students thanks to his history of bashing America while, for instance, defending the Khmer Rouge, the brutal communists who massacred a third of Cambodia’s entire population in the 1970s, about the most devastating political movement that has ever existed — but very anti-capitalist, which is what matters to the perverse [and boring] Chomsky). So, ultimately, even if bin Laden picks up some Al Gore supporters due to his newfound opposition to global warming, I think the embrace of Chomsky will hurt him at the polls with moderate and right-leaning voters. And there’s the mass-murder thing.

One amusing thing about al Qaeda and al Qaeda in Iraq, by the way, is their willingness to be so frank about their goals that even, say, Noam Chomsky would have a hard time spinning them as some sort of “indigenous freedom fighters.” Calling them freedom-hating, democracy-hating mass-murderers probably sounds like Bushian rhetoric to some — but if you read bin Laden’s own words, he says they’ll keep killing us until, for instance, we make homosexuality punishable by the death penalty and stop teaching women to read. His willingness to talk about other issues that spring to mind — like global warming — shows that he’ll seize upon any issue that he imagines might give him traction, but it would be naive to think that the West bending on one or two small issues — tweaking our policies toward the Palestinians, for example — is going to make our enemies tolerate us.


So we can resign ourselves to a long, tough fight — or perhaps take the radically non-interventionist path preferred by one of Thompson’s rivals for the GOP nomination, Ron Paul, and just stay out of the Middle East morass altogether. As I’ve alluded to before, I am in the odd position of being something of an agnostic on military matters at precisely the juncture in our history when they do the most to determine many people’s political allegiances (and thus, in a way that many would find paradoxical, I find myself drawn to Paul as a first choice in the primaries but to the tough-talking Thompson, or even Paul-lambasting Giuliani, as a second choice).

I don’t expect any project run by a government, including a war, to go well, but neither am I comfortable with Paul’s almost Chomskyan talk of Iraq being an “illegal” war, drastic rhetoric that risks encouraging our opportunistic (and hardly law-respecting) enemies. But Paul — like bin Laden — takes a much clearer position on wanting to end taxation than Thompson does, and I think econ is much more clear-cut than foreign policy, so I’m still rooting for Paul, who’d do so much so decisively in domestic policy that I can’t let the already-ambiguous foreign policy issues drive me away from him, even if those issues now define his candidacy in many people’s minds.

(Speaking of domestic policy issues, my old boss, ABC News’s John Stossel, who Ron Paul once said he’d like to have as a vice presidential running mate, is scheduled to host what will no doubt be an engaging retort to Michael Moore and other fans of socialized medicine, next Friday, Sept. 14, at 10pm Eastern and Pacific, 9 Central and Mountain [I think] — so watch that. My own reaction to Moore’s recent health documentary appeared on HealthFactsAndFears, the blog I edit at work — and the Stossel Unit and my current employers, the American Council on Science and Health, each recently lost a friend and advisor on science/medical issues, Stossel associate Rick Rue passing away far too young and ACSH Advisor Saul Green, critic of alternative medicine, leaving us at a ripe old age, both now missed.)


Perhaps I shouldn’t even joke about comparing bin Laden directly with American political candidates — so to atone, let me note that Paul is not only unsympathetic to bin Laden but voted for the Afghan war, though he now questions whether that was wise. Further, despite an erroneous report to the contrary by Michelle Malkin, Paul is not even sympathetic to the so-called 9/11 Truth movement, which claims the U.S. had advance knowledge of 9/11 (though many in the Truth movement like Paul — but then, as I noted in an earlier entry, so do a couple of living, breathing John Birch Society members I glimpsed at a Ron Paul Meet-Up, and that doesn’t mean Paul agrees with the JBS about everything — such as seeing Eisenhower as a communist agent).

If you want to hear really thorough criticism of the 9/11 Truth movement, though, the place to be on this Tuesday for the sixth anniversary of the attacks is at the World Trade Center site, where blogger Karol Sheinin — one of my co-hosts at the monthly Manhattan Project bar gatherings for non-leftists in New York media (a rare breed in need of succor) and, as it happens, a Thompson fan — will lead a protest against the 9/11 Truth people, a surefire formula for some interesting man-on-the-street conversations.

If Karol succeeds in destroying the 9/11 Truth crowd, I suppose it could cost my man Paul some support, but, in all seriousness, he has plenty of other, more mainstream supporters — though I was disappointed recently when I noticed he was being praised on a site called, which I at first thought must be a site dedicated to “fusionism,” the half-century-old effort to unite conservatives and libertarians, but turned out to be a site for believers in the scientifically unverified process of cheap “cold fusion,” so it’s a bit like being endorsed by the trade association for perpetual motion machine makers — but hey, Wesley Clark said during his presidential campaign that he anticipated faster-than-light travel being possible one day, and that didn’t seem to hurt him in the polls. Sigh.


Joe said...

I am voting for Ron Paul. Fred Thompson does not intereste me at all.

disinter said...

Conservatives Against Fred Thompson

Mark said...

We need to bring our troops home NOW; remove them entirely from any Arab nation. Then having our troops and especially national guard back home go after securing the boarder. Making sure we stop the SURGE into America, instead of surging our guards and border patrols out to middle east, to inspire more hate. Once we do that we out to go after are corrupt politicians that are taking all of our liberties away here, they are the terrorists.

I don’t see any candidate, except Ron Paul, wanting that. No one in Washington wants to listen, I want to vote every congressman out of office.

William Stegmeier said...

Let’s see if Fred passes the “Three strikes and your out” policy:

1. He’s a lawyer. (A trained liar)

2. He’s an actor. (He follows a script written by others)

3. He’s a member of the CFR. (One world global elitist)

Looks to me like Fred is out!

Joe said...


Usama bin Laden has died a peaceful death due to an untreated lung complication, the Pakistan Observer reported, citing a Taliban leader who allegedly attended the funeral of the Al Qaeda leader. DEC. 26, 2001,2933,41576,00.html

CNN REPORTS: Bin Laden Denies Involvement Sept 16, 2001

270+ 9/11 ‘Smoking Guns’

Found in the Mainstream Media


Explosive Testimony:


Giuliani Told “World Trade Center was gonna collapse” 3 min video:

The Third Stage 23 minutes

WTC7: The Smoking Gun of 911 16 minutes

David Ray Griffin: 9/11 The Myth & The Reality

Flight 77: The Flight Data Recorder Investigation Files 54 min.

‘911 and the British Broadcasting Conspiracy’

How the Towers Fell – Richard Gage Architect 2hr Presentation

Firefighter John Schroeder Tells the Truth About 9/11 47 min

September 11 Revisited: Were Explosives Used?

Firemen and Emergency Workers Testimony

Kean, Hamilton did little more than lend their Names, The Investigation was all PHILIP ZELIKOW:

SPIN: The Art of Selling War 22 min 37 sec – May 16, 2007



Website for Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth

Pilots for 9/11 Truth

Scholars f..CONT..

Joe said...

..CONT..or 9/11 Truth

Patriots Question 9/11

Veterans for 9/11 Truth

911blogger: The latest TRUTH about 911


PowerPoint Presentation

9/11: Re-examining the 3 WTC High-rise Building “Collapses”

The AE911Truth PowerPoint multimedia slide presentation!

• 318 slides — Proceed at your own pace!

Richard Gage, AIA


Oral Histories

The Sept. 11 Records

A rich vein of city records from Sept. 11, including more than 12,000 pages of oral histories rendered in the voices of 503 firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians, were made public on Aug. 12. The New York Times has published all of them.

The oral histories of dispatch transmissions are transcribed verbatim. They have have not been edited to omit coarse language.

118 Firemen/First Responders report “bombs” or “explosions”


270+ 9/11 ‘Smoking Guns’

Found in the Mainstream Media

bret said...

Hey. I’m a lawyer-in-training. It isn’t that you are trained how to lie, in fact, you are repeatedly told to tell the truth (thanks Watergate). It is, however, a very manipulable system that attracts born liars. There are plenty of honest lawyers, of course, just like there are honest government employees – but you never hear about them on the News, do you?

As a Ron Paul supporter (I am actually an anarcho-capitalist, but Paul is close enough for government work for me) you might say I am in the wrong career field. You might be right. Here’s to the day when laws don’t fill up entire libraries with arcane codes, and we can truly live in freedom and peace.

Scott said...

Like you, I also support Paul mainly for economic reasons and tend to be somewhat agnostic on foreign policy. Still, I have fond memories of a day (the Reagan era, for example) when we might forcefully challenge a great enemy (the Soviets, for example) without the cost of a permanent hot war. Whether a pure non-interventionist policy is optimal remains to be seen, but clearly, the hyper-interventionism of the present administration is an unwarranted extremism. Those of us who might prefer a more modest interventionism – one without no-win undeclared wars designed to continue endlessly – appreciate that a Paul presidency would do much to move us back toward this middle ground. While Paul’s rhetoric is perhaps quite stark, one can imagine that his actual policies would be moderated by the realities of our dilemma and by the natural compromise that is the process of working with a Congress with far less non-interventionist views. In fact, a Paul presidency might just lead us to the optimal foreign policy. Certainly, it can’t be worse than “stay the course”.

Todd Seavey said...

If it’s any consolation to the lawyer, I always tell libertarians, if they ask me, that I think _all_ of us who are not already embarked on some other career should become politicians or lawyers, since libertarianism is, after all, a philosophy about how the law should be and the law will be made by politicians and lawyers in the end, not by puppeteers and jazz musicians, much as I might like a world with more musicians and fewer politicians. Let the statists become puppeteers and musicians while we work to reverse the authoritarian tide in law.

(Similarly, let the statists be the ones who stay away from the polls in a huff when they don’t get an ideal candidate, while we continue to vote so as to steer things toward the least-statist available options. It’s not like non-voting libertarians will receive medals for purity from the ghost of Lysander Spooner in heaven or anything.)

Lysander Spooner (the ghost of) said...

I just took you off my medal list, Seavey.

John said...

A correction on Paul and 9/11 is in order in light of the incomplete comment that “Paul is not even sympathetic to 9/11 truth.” Paul respectfully disagrees 9/11 was an inside job, but has indicated his openness to a new independent investigation, especially of Bush/Cheney (as do 51% of the public according to a Zogby poll last week).

A previous Zogby poll showed 67% percent believed there was a government a coverup on the issue, so it is at least misleading to say 9/11 truth is not ‘mainstream” at this point. Paul simply wants the emphasis to stay with his non-interventionist approach to foreign policy, not get lost in the details of coverup debates.

Todd Seavey said...

So if we take these poll numbers seriously (usually a bad idea), about 16% of the population thinks there _was_ a government cover-up but _doesn’t_ want it investigated? Those would have to be some very strange poll respondents (though poll numbers suggesting a third of Democrats believe Bush had advance knowledge of 9/11 are strange enough on their own).

(I’m reminded of poll results back at Brown — even liberal Brown — that suggested that the number of people who considered abortion murder was so large that one would have to conclude that many people who believed in the right to abortion also believed it is murder — not an impossible position, but odd…or evidence that people say the first thing that springs to mind, depending on how survey questions are worded. As Kent Brockman so aptly put it: “Election ’96: America flips a coin!”)

D------ said...

I’m for Brownback, though I know he doesn’t have much of a chance.

Although I’m not a Libertarian, I’m not horrified by Ron Paul. I do think the Iraq war was a mistake. I also think we can’t remake the world in our image. Is there a real constituency out there for right-leaning Libertarianism?

(Thompson and Romney would also be acceptable to me.)

Let’s say Ron Paul won the GOP primary and got elected president somehow.

How would he govern with the Roberts Supreme Court (with Kennedy as the deciding vote between the judicial activist and judicial restraint wings) and either a Pelosi-Reid led Democratic Congress or a Republican one?

Contrary to what he says now, I imagine he would have to compromise to get things (even reducing government, spending, and taxes) done? He can’t just abolish whole agencies by executive order. He would need the consent of Congress.

Todd Seavey said...

As an interesting practical outcome, I suspect we’d basically see government by super-majorities in Congress if Paul were president, which is to say, Congress would largely _not_ cooperate with him — they make the laws, he only executes them — but would at least be forced to pass every bill (that was objectionable to Paul, that is, pretty much anything that maintained current spending, regulation, and taxes) by veto-proof majorities. And I don’t see that as such a bad or divisive outcome, since, after all, it would mean that only very-broadly-popular, bipartisan legislation would get passed. Ron Paul: a uniter, not a divider.

And who knows, maybe they’d actually play along to some degree, seeing a chance to fix some genuine problems while pinning any unpopular or “extreme” consequences on him.

If I were in his shoes and made it into the Oval Office, I’d probably recommend an Omnibus Repeal Bill (abolishing most Cabinet agencies, regs, etc.) that included massive raises for Congress contingent on them voting for the Bill. Let’s see how quickly they’d “discover” libertarian principles in their hearts then.

Avery J. Knapp Jr. said...

Todd, you used to work for Stossel? Reading Stossel’s first book convinced me that Republicans didn’t go near far enough in limiting government (in fact actually grew it) and opened the path I took towards the freedom movement…and Ron Paul.

nicole said...

i’ll save you time and answer your debate question now. no the ivy league is not superior. just pretenious. and phoney.

Abe said...

The whole Thompson phenomena is lost on me. His hype factor is gargantuan. This is a two-dimensional candidate whose run will crash and burn faster than the experimental candidacy of Howard Dean.

Ron Paul is so fringe-friendly it’s almost endearing. Almost. He doesn’t talk about the world as it exists, an ability which after all is what defines a conservative.

As for Bin Laden, I was scared al Qaeda would unleash devastation in Iraq as the Petraeus report neared. The fact that all they could do was release two videos is the greatest evidence of U.S. success in the war on terror.

I adore John Stossel, but he has to lose the stache if he wants to run.

Todd Seavey said...

An associate of a guy I met at a friend’s wedding recently claims to have seen some Ron Paul activists gathered outside a Fred Thompson event in Iowa recently, and she saw one guy wearing a Halloween-type shark costume and asked him if he was a Paul supporter, to which, the story goes, the man said: no, those Ron Paul people are crazy, I’m just a guy standing on the sidewalk in a shark suit.

On the 9/11 issue: we’ll get to the bottom of that Nov. 7 at Lolita Bar, when 9/11 Truth activist and author Sander Hicks will debate anti-Truther counter-protester and blogger Karol Sheinin (that’ll be one month after we settle the Ivy League question, which is Oct. 3).

And on that note, it’s about time I posted a page of more thorough links to my rather diverse acquaintances.

Ali T. Kokmen said...

For what it’s worth, a few weeks back Ron Paul was the guest on the light-hearted NPR news-quiz show “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.” The brief chat with the host was reasonably fair and amusing. At one point, the host said something like, “Well, you’re against a lot of the stuff the Federal Government does, but there are things we like about it. If you’re elected will you, y’know, abolish the President’s Council for Physical Fitness in Elementary Schools and stuff like that?”

To which Paul thoughfully replied, “Well…not overnight.”

The whole thing is probably available on the NPR or Wait Wait… website

Diana said...

Ron Paul has this weird logo that I see everywhere in Austin.

I don’t know what his focus group or marketing team or whatever was thinking because it looks frighteningly square yet anarchistic yet hippyish all at the same time.

Todd Seavey said...

I think “frighteningly square yet anarchistic yet hippyish all at the same time” is a pretty apt description of libertarianism in general, so I’d say the (very decentralized and often unofficial, a la the Dean movement) Paul campaigners hit the nail on the head with that one.

That’s the logo I saw at the (mostly left-) anarchist convention I went to here, quietly hanging above the heads of a young crowd that would probably be happy to set fire to any Republican candidate on principle.

Ali T. Kokmen said...

In another example of the strange bedfellows Paul brings together, recent “news” reports of Barry Manillow’s cancellation of an appearance on “The View” (because of his dislike of their perky but controversial conservative panelist) mention in passing his support of several presidential candidates such as Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama, Joe Biden…and Ron Paul.

Todd Seavey said...

“Don’t fall in love (revolution)…don’t fall in love (revolution)…don’t fall in love (revolution)…”

(Except I think you should, of course.)

bofors said...

9/11 was an inside job.

Richard Gage’s talk “How the Towers Fell” proves this:

Watch it, learn the truth and spread the truth!

toddseavey said...

I’ll host a debate on that topic Nov. 7, 2007, as noted in the right margin of my front page, so perhaps the whole issue will be settled then…