Archive for June, 2008

Some memories and thoughts

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Some of my fondest memories of working on the Paul campaign are from my first days on the job in Arlington.  Kent and a couple others had just come back from a week in Iowa, while Lew and Ron were still there for the final week leading up to the straw poll.  The office was half empty, but those who were there were hard at work.  I, meanwhile, was trying to figure out where to start, having just moved down from Connecticut and still sleeping on a friend’s apartment floor out in Falls Church.

Like anyone immersed in new surroundings, I spent a lot of time that first week soaking in everything going on in the office, and in particular, the interactions between my new coworkers.  But what I remember most about that time was how different the work environment was compared to that at my previous job.

That difference came from Kent Snyder.  Kent went out of his way to make sure that I felt comfortable in Virginia, frequently checking in on how things were going.  Most days, he’d take me out to lunch or dinner, and spend time explaining things that were going on in other areas of the campaign.  And he did all this not because he had to, but because he cared.

I can’t ever recall a time when Kent asked me (or anyone else in the office) to do something without it being followed up with a sincere ‘thank you.’  I’m sure he never fully realized how his gentle nature affected people, but it did immensely.  Kent was a diamond in the rough for whom kindness came naturally.

When I think back about Kent, this is the quality that I remember more than anything else.  Sure, there was the calm, steady hand with which he guided the campaign.  There was the fact that he worked for a salary that was way below market value.  (He knew, as we all did, that Ron had far less name recognition and money than other candidates.)  But Kent’s personal dedication to each and every staffer, to Ron, and to the ideas about which we all feel so passionate, was unparalleled.

While we’ll all remember him for different things, I will never forget Kent Snyder — the person — and how much he cared for those around him.  If I can become just half the man that Kent Snyder was, I will gladly feel as though I’ve done the job that I was put here to do.

Rest in peace, Kent.  You’re already sorely missed.

Kent Snyder, RIP

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Ron Paul 2008 Campaign Chairman Kent Snyder has died from complications related to pneumonia. It is hard to find words right now, but I wanted everyone to know how much this sweet, earnest and committed man meant to Ron, the staff, and the movement. The battle for human liberty and human dignity have lost a giant. Please join me in praying for his family, friends and many admirers.

Kent, along with Lew Moore, gave me my first shot in national politics and I will always be profoundly grateful.

Below are some links that any one wanting to know more about Kent might find helpful.

Tucker Carlson Interview

Conservative Roundtable

Kent’s Writings for Free Market News

Freedom 21 Radio Interview

To donate to the Kent Snyder Family Medical Fund, please visit http://www.kentsnyder.com/

A Good Day At the US Supreme Court

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

Today the Supreme Court ruled on three cases. I can’t speak to the third, but two - one on free speech and one on the Second Amendment - are victories for individual rights.

In Davis v. FEC the court invalidated the so-called “Millionaires Amendment” of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance speech regulation.

While BCRA does not impose a cap on a candidate’s expenditure of personal funds, it imposes an unprecedented penalty on any candidate who robustly exercises that First Amendment right, requiring him to choose between the right to engage in unfettered political speech and subjection to discriminatory fundraising limitations. The resulting drag on First Amendment rights is not constitutional simply because it attaches as a consequence of a statutorily imposed choice. Id., at 54–57, and n. 65, distinguished. The burden is not justified by any governmental interest in eliminating corruption or the perception of corruption, see id., at 53. Nor can an interest in leveling electoral opportunities for candidates of different personal wealth justify §319(a)’s asymmetrical limits, see id., at 56–57. The Court has never recognized this interest as a legitimate objective and doing so would have ominous implications for the voters’ authority to evaluate the strengths of candidate competing for office. Finally, the Court rejects the Government’s argument that §319(a) is justified because it ameliorates the deleterious effects resulting from the tight limits federal election law places on individual campaign contributions and coordinated party expenditures.

Importantly, the Court outright rejected the speech rationing theory that fundamentally underlies the entire McCain-Feingold scheme. McCain’s speech regulations have always had to claim they were designed to combat corruption, when corruption was more a smokescreen for McCain self-professed goal of getting money out of politics (i.e. speech rationing). Now if only the Court will reexamine the dubious anti-corruption justification.

(For more on campaign finance regulations and speech rationing I recommend this article by Constitutional lawyer Erik Jaffe.)

In the second and more high profile case the Court ruled in DC v. Heller that indeed the Second Amendment does include an individual right to bear arms. Importantly, the five member majority was clear and unambiguous:

1. The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home. Pp. 2–53.
(a) The Amendment’s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause’s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms. Pp. 2–22.
(b) The prefatory clause comports with the Court’s interpretation of the operative clause. The “militia” comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense. The Antifederalists feared that the Federal Government would disarm the people in order to disable this citizens’ militia, enabling a politicized standing army or a select militia to rule. The response was to deny Congress power to abridge the ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms, so that the ideal of a citizens’ militia would be preserved. Pp. 22–28.

Welcome Justine Lam

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

RonPaulBlog.com would like to welcome its newest contributor, Justine Lam.

Justine was the eCampaign director for Ron Paul 2008, and played a critical role in the campaign’s unprecedented success harnessing the Ron Paul grassroots online and raising money online.  Justine was also recently named a Rising Star by Politics magazine:

 Prior to her role on Republican Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign, Justine Lam had never worked for a politician-and she’s not sure she ever will again. “It was about the ideas and the message from the get-go,” she says. After college, Lam spent a few years in the non-profit world. She met Paul in 2004, while she worked at George Mason University’s Institute of Humane Studies. Looking back, did she ever envision herself working for a candidate even then? “Never, ever, ever, never,” she says firmly. But Paul was a different kind of politician, and Lam says he spoke to her political philosophy. As the campaign’s second hire, she was tasked with setting up most of the traditional campaign infrastructure, but in her free time she would scan the social networking sites and read the blogs. “He had a lot of support online, and it only made sense to use that.” Lam developed online strategies that encouraged supporters to network and raise money outside of the campaign’s website. The result: a record for the most money ever raised by a candidate online in a single day, and arguably the most successful netroots campaign in political history. Lam says she’s been approached by the Republican National Committee and other GOP groups inquiring about her post-Ron Paul plans. “Something has to really appeal to me emotionally for me to do it,” she says.

As someone who worked with Justine, I know I’m looking forward to reading her insights.

A Ron Paul Democrat?

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008

Over at Taki Mag, Dylan Hales looks at the South Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Bob Conley:

Maverick Conley bolted the GOP a few years ago over amnesty, war and trade policy and was a vocal supporter of Ron Paul’s presidential bid.

[...]

Accidental or not, the unique candidacy of “Flattop Bob” Conley may be just what the doctor ordered for the second stage of The Revolution. A Democrat, in the cradle of secession, who asks that we help fight the neocons and advance “the cause of liberty” by supporting his candidacy. I like the sound of that. 

I have my reservations about Conley, but he surely is better than Lindsay Graham, an early supporter (and creepy admirer of John McCain) who is rumored to be McCain’s top choice for Attorney General.

Also, if Republicans start to see Ron Paul voters moving over to support Democrats, they are more likely to reform their own ways to try to attract Paul supporters (than if they only abandon the two parties for large L Libertarians like Bob Barr).  

Given that the Republican Party - unlike the Democrats - have a history of a limited government, anti-interventionist wing (i.e. Robert Taft), it is likely that only the threat of losing those voters to Democrats will cause the Republicans to re-embrace the Old Right philosophy.  For that, the candidacy of Bob Conley can only be a good thing.

American Foreign Policy

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

So sad but true…

Trans-Texas Corridor Dies an Ignominious Death

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008
Paul Calls TTC Decision “A Major Victory For Texas”
by John Pape

Area congressman Ron Paul (R-Lake Jackson) has hailed the Texas Department of Transportation’s decision to abandon plans for the Trans-Texas Corridor as” a major victory for Texas.”

Paul’s congressional district includes portions of Fort Bend County, including much of the Cinco Ranch area. Just over a week ago, TxDOT announced that it will drop plans to develop a mega-highway across much of Texas in lieu of improving the existing US Hwy. 59 into a full, controlled-access interstate highway. Paul credited public outcry over TTC plans as the reason for the transportation department’s change of plans.

Continue Reading…

The Nader of 2008…

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Yesterday the AP wrote an article about the potential for Bob Barr to be “the Ralph Nader of 2008.”

Sure, the sum of John McCain and Bob Barr’s vote totals could end up being enough to win the presidency, despite McCain losing to Obama, but it is foolish to assume that absent Bob Barr, McCain would receive those votes.

The AP, and other commentators who spout this “Nader of 08″ garbage, fail to realize an important point: elections are not about voter preference, they are about who you are motivated enough to go to the polls and vote for.

Political parties don’t spend millions of dollars to ensure that their candidate is preferred, they spend millions to get out the vote (GOTV).  So long as we don’t have mandatory voting (and let’s hope we never do), elections are not a zero sum game… then the McCain + Barr = Obama calculus simply doesn’t add up.

Frustrated conservatives who might vote Barr are going to do so because they aren’t persuaded to give their vote to McCain (or Obama).  Voting for a candidate who you know won’t win - such as Bob Barr or Ralph Nader - isn’t something that people will do lightly, and the decision to do so says far more about McCain then it does about Barr.

If McCain loses, it will be because of his own failure to get out the conservative base.  Years of betraying conservative values and contempt for the Republican grassroots will be the reason otherwise likely Republican voters may take the step of going to the polls for Barr.

Don’t believe me, just look at the list:

  • McCain-Feingold free speech restrictions
  • Opposition to tax cuts and using class warfare rhetoric to oppose them
  • Joining with Ted Kennedy to push for amnesty for illegals
  • Joining with Joe Lieberman to impose regulations on carbon emissions that will devastate the economy

In other words if McCain does lose by a small margin, the real ”Nader of 2008″ will be McCain.