Ron Paul's Reagan

Dr. No's Texas tussle with Rick Perry papers over some interesting libertarian disenchantment with the Great Communicator.

Rarely does a single political commercial reveal as much about a presidential campaign as the ad unveiled this week by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas).

Here is audio-visual near-proof of a crucial difference between Paul '12 and the rEVOLution of '08: This time the libertarian Republican is in it to win it. The production values are upper tier, the choice to attack Texas Gov. Rick Perry indicates a candidate trying to elbow his way past other grassroots-pleasing types, and the Reagan-good, Gore-bad message of bedrock conservative principle is plainly tuned to tickle the ears of mainstream Republicans.

But there's a fascinating gap in the ad's chronology, one that is a good deal more complex than the choice at the commercial's end between "Al Gore's Texas cheerleader, or the one who stood with Reagan." Ron Paul, like many small-l libertarians, was indeed an early and enthusiastic supporter of Ronald Reagan's presidential ambitions...in 1976. By 1988, when Rick Perry was still a Democrat who supported and endorsed the-then Blue Doggish Al Gore, the initial libertarian enthusiasm for "Reagan's message of smaller government and lower taxes" had disintegrated into acute alienation over the Great Communicator's tangible record of growing government, debt, and foreign entanglements.

Rick Perry and his supporters this week are firing back at Paul's Reagan-repudiating record, quoting from his 1987 resignation letter from the Republican Party and other comments from Paul's 1988 Libertarian Party run for president. These gotcha attempts actually bolster Paul's credentials as a limited-government conservative, and highlight an important libertarian critique of Reagan (and by extension, the modern GOP) that has mostly been washed away by decades of Republican nostalgia for The Gipper.

Paul's '87 resignation letter lays out the bill of particulars:

In 1976 I was impressed with Ronald Reagan's program and was one of the four members of Congress who endorsed his candidacy. In 1980, unlike other Republican office holders in Texas, I again supported our President in his efforts.

Since 1981, however, I have gradually and steadily grown weary of the Republican Party's efforts to reduce the size of the federal government. Since then Ronald Reagan and the Republican Party have given us skyrocketing deficits, and astoundingly a doubled national debt. How is it that the party of balanced budgets, with control of the White House and Senate, accumulated red ink greater than all previous administrations put together?...

Tax revenues are up 59 percent since 1980. Because of our economic growth? No. During Carter's four years, we had growth of 37.2 percent; Reagan's five years have given us 30.7 percent. The new revenues are due to four giant Republican tax increases since 1981.

All Republicans rightly chastised Carter for his $38 billion deficit. But they ignore or even defend deficits of $220 billion, as government spending has grown 10.4 percent per year since Reagan took office, while the federal payroll has zoomed by a quarter of a million bureaucrats....

[B]ig government has been legitimized in a way the Democrats never could have accomplished. It was tragic to listen to Ronald Reagan on the 1986 campaign trail bragging about his high spending on farm subsidies, welfare, warfare, etc., in his futile effort to hold on to control of the Senate.

Instead of cutting some of the immeasurable waste in the Department of Defense, it has gotten worse, with the inevitable result that we are less secure today. Reagan's foreign aid expenditures exceed Eisenhower's, Kennedy's, Johnson's, Nixon's, Ford's, and Carter's put together. Foreign intervention has exploded since 1980. Only an end to military welfare for foreign governments plus a curtailment of our unconstitutional commitments abroad will enable us really to defend ourselves and solve our financial problems.

There's plenty more in there about inflationary monetary policy, the drug war, arms-for-hostages, insufficient tax reform, failing to abolish the Selective Service and various federal departments, and so on. Conclusion? "There is no credibility left for the Republican Party as a force to reduce the size of government. That is the message of the Reagan years."

As the GOP presidential candidates prepare for their quadrennial pilgrimage to the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, the Paul/Perry fight over Reagan's legacy is certain to come up in the debate. It would be an excellent occasion to revive two underappreciated points: That Ronald Reagan in the mid-1970s really was a rhetorical "radical for capitalism" (at least by the heavily debased standards of mainstream American politics), and that his presidential record was considerably less impressive than advertised on restraining the growth of government.

For evidence of the former, look no further than Reason's classic interview with Reagan in July 1975. His ideas about libertarianism were a mixed bag to be sure, but, well, here's how he answered the first question:

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  • Gilbert Martin||

    Reagan never claimed he was a libertarian to begin with.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Well, in his interview with Reason, Reagan said that "libertarianism is the heart and soul of conservatism".

  • yeah...||

    then in the very next paragraph he said:

    "Now, I can't say that I will agree with all the things that the present group who call themselves Libertarians in the sense of a party say, because I think that like in any political movement there are shades, and there are libertarians who are almost over at the point of wanting no government at all or anarchy. "

  • ||

    libertarians != Libertarians

  • BigT||

    Maybe you missed this quote from RR:

    "If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism"

    And Reagan certainly claimed to be conservative.

  • Matt Welch||

    Both quotes, oddly enough, are CONTAINED IN THE ARTICLE.

  • ||

    RTFA?!? U mad, bro?

  • Bill||

    What article? :)

  • ||

    That's funny. I never follow links to articles here, because I thought they all led to porn. Isn't that what libertarians are all about, drugs and porn?

    Just kidding, Matt.

  • ||

    I quit following links because they didn't lead to porn.

  • Jeffersonian||

    I was hoping for a rickroll

  • Tyler||

    This is why I like Match Welch, not one snarky comment in the whole thing.

  • rts||

    He seems to be saving his snark for the comments.

  • ||

    Oh sure, Matt classes up the place a bit, but there is little I enjoy more at Reason than a giant snark-filled article from Nick.

  • anti-KMW||

    it's possible to go overboard with the snark and cross into juvenilia

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Commie-bustin' ain't cheap, Doctor. I don't know if I like the idea of a President Ron Paul donning his green eyeshades and crunching numbers while the Reds are bearing down on us.

    But I will credit Paul with not running from the spendthrift Republicans by sticking his dick in some Democrat's campaign - UNLIKE SOME OTHERS I COULD NAME.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    ZING!

  • kinnath||

    This cannot be said enough times.

  • ||

    What, are you going to blacklist them for being gullible and naive? They've used gallons of pixels since then criticizing every freedom limiting thing the One's done since taking office.

    Let's list the fools out here:
    Bailey, Bartlett, Brin, Cavanaugh, Chapman, Newmark, Pinker, Sager, Scalzi, Sirius, Stanhope, Weigel, Bagge (Not McCain), Carey (Not McCain)

    Most of these people don't even work for Reason.

    They're reporters, not goddamn philosophers, and their votes didn't count for shit. Any single one of their articles probably had more impact on the way this country is run than their poorly thought out vote.

  • ||

    'Tis why their known as liberaltarians in some circles.

  • Realist||

    Or ...they're...

  • ||

    Youngsters today have no idea what we were facing down for threats in the early eighties. The old Soviets were ready to throw 30 mech divisions into the Fulda Gap. We literally had nuclear landmines buried in parts of West Germany because we couldn't start to match their forces in '80.

    Even in small-war stuff we sucked. We totally blew the hostage rescue in '79. You can be good or cheap - not both.

    I also can't complain on a personal level. All that good stuff we built to fight the Soviets kept me alive in '91 when we fought a Soviet equipped army in Kuwait and Iraq.

  • T||

    No, we never had nuclear landmines, OS. SADMs are prohibited by treaty, and even though we had dimensions down to the millimeter and weights down to the tenth of a kilo, we didn't have any in inventory.

  • ||

  • MWG||

    Wow.

    I've seen people refer to this post here on H&R, but actually reading some of the responses to the question of who Reason staffers will be voting for was pretty shocking.

    "Barack Obama...because he shows an intelligence and temperament that suggest he will govern more pragmatically than ideologically..."

    Seriously Chapman?

    Shikha's response was the best.

  • ||

    Fill in the empty vessel with your wishes and dreams.

    I never understood why any libertarian would vote for Obama. His statism and socialism were visible from Earth orbit.

  • MWG||

    This^

    Wouldn't it just be better to not vote at all (Some I do (or don't) with pride btw).

    How any libertarian could see potential in 'The One', particularly those who lord over us here at Reason, is beyond me.

    Very disappointing.

  • ||

    Well, it was less shocking then, because Obama's utter shittiness wasn't seen yet, but it still causes one to...uh...doubt the predictive abilities of some reason staffers.

  • ||

    [Well, it was less shocking then, because Obama's utter shittiness wasn't seen yet..]

    I see, they were attracted by, what then?? His brief senate record, voting "present"? His associations with Marxists? His church affiliation? The fact that nobody ever heard of him in college, high school, or adolescence??

    He wasn't shitty because he was an emptly suit, yet these thought him appropriate for POTUS??????

    Who are you/they shitting??

  • ||

    u mad, bro?

    Lighten up, Francis. I sure as fuck didn't vote for him (or anyone), so I'm not sure why you think I'm shitting you; you actually seem like you might be shitting yourself/your pants right now over this.

  • ||

    I think that he wasn't anything was his main appeal, because he was running against someone who was something and something most of the staff didn't like very much. He was also running against a party whose policies had made them grossly unpopular to most everyone, much less libertarians.

    Modern American politics has very much become an exercise in voting against people you don't like. Other than Perry and possible his close friends and relatives, nobody in this country of 300 million want him to be the next president. He nevertheless might be the next president because a fairly large amount of people want to vote against Barack Obama and a sizable, but smaller, group of people want to vote against Mitt Romney.

    Obama had a core of people who truly wanted _him_ and only him to win, but he won mainly because a much larger group of people wanted John McCain and the Republicans to lose. Unfortunately for him, he is now faced with the prospect of having the roles reversed (as the 2010 elections already showed) and suffering accordingly.

  • yonemoto||

    Uh, I knew his presidency was inevitable. Used to go to the UofC back when he was elected state senator. we knew he was a shoo in for the presidency, just, not so soon.

  • ||

    It was pretty obvious he was a hard leftist. But I don't think anyone thought he would not track to the center after the midterms

  • ||

    The guy is on empty suite, socialist, statist, Keynsian disaster. He was the same thing 5 years ago. Failure to see this requires one to be examined for a condition referred to as a cranial rectal inversion.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Shikha's response was the best, undoubtedly. (Penn Jillette's wasn't bad, either). I voted for Babar, and regretted it when he went to work to get the loot Baby Doc stole from Haiti back to him. Duplicitous, indeed. I don't regret voting for Bednarik (sp?), and Browne (x2), but Babar's despot pandering pissed me off.

  • BigT||

    Tim Cavanaugh

    1. Who are you voting for in November? Barack Obama. All my life I've been waiting for a black president; Obama's not monumentally unqualified, and his solid-if-boring book at least had some unkind words for teachers unions. Also my kids like him."

    Timmmmeeeeeeeeeee is an avowed, open, witless racist.

  • barfman||

    *barf*

  • ||

    "Commie-bustin ain't cheap"
    Well everything I bought today at the store came from Communist China.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    OT: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech.....test=faces

    NASA, apparently, needs more astronauts. 61 isn't enough for staffing at most three on the ISS, and doing ground testing of "future vehicles," whenever those are supposed to come out.

    NASA is my pet agency, but this is ridiculous.

  • ||

    You know, that raises a good question: Do SpaceX and other new space outfits that will actually be providing manned access to space need NASA astronauts? Meaning, astronauts employed by NASA? Or could they provide their own?

    I suppose some NASA guys for the ISS and some other NASA projects make sense, but why not some privately employed astronauts?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You want them to hire cosmonauts instead, you commie bastard?

    As for NASA, I suppose it depends on how they're defining astronaut. Perhaps it's a job title that encompasses a certain combination of skills or possession of a specialized skillset, like pilots and engineers and scientists. A NASA HR definition that sounds to us like the NYC teachers' rubber room, Armstrongs and Aldrins sitting around collecting a paycheck.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    (Meaning the job title astronaut doesn't necessitate slipping the surly bonds of Earth.)

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    That's what I was thinking. Or, how about this: NASA trains their new astronauts, but most or all are actually employed by private companies. The companies foot part of the training bill, and NASA contracts with the private astronauts for missions. Seems win-win to me.

  • ||

    I'm in. After all, NASA does have the facilities and expertise for training astronauts. Maybe they should spin off their astronaut arm?

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Astronauts, Inc? I'd invest in that.

  • ||

    They could supply astronauts worldwide--to government and private manned spaceflight alike.

    You know, this isn't a bad idea. Maybe call it Astronautica?

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Astronautix is taken. Astronautica wouldn't be a bad name.

  • ||

    Astronautica it is until a better name is suggested or registered as a trademark.

    Astronautarama?

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Astronauticschool?

  • ||

    Astronauticomical!

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Astronaut/clown school. Pursue your dreams, with a backup plan!

  • ||

    Always have a backup plan.

  • k2000k||

    My vote is for Astromastro

  • ||

    Astromaestro? Not bad.

    There's always Astronautghy. For training pilots to the space brothels.

  • ||

    Oh, wait. Maestronaut.

  • ||

    Is "Government money suck hole" already taken or something?

    Jeez. You know what facilities you need to train people for space travel? An amusement park with a few big coasters and an olympic swimming pool that's 20 feet deep. Anything else is overkill. I say, move the space program to the San Fernando Valley, combine it with porn and call it "Space Nuts."

  • ||

    Oops, I meant "Government Money Suck Hole, Inc."

  • Raven Nation||

    Yeah, why pay to train your own astronauts when you can have the gummint pay for it. I think it was Poul Anderson who created a sci-fi future where a private company bought a mountain in Bolivia, set up their own spaceport & went their own way.

  • Brett L||

    "The Man Who Sold the Moon" by Robert Heinlein. Featured a captain of industry who partially funded building a "ski jump" style launch pad on Pike's Peak by promising to etch the name of a soda company on the moon in letters that could be seen on Earth with binoculars. As well as planting diamonds on the pilot so he could start a gemrush to ensure demand. Great story. Believe Harriman (the tycoon) got to the moon eventually, but they wouldn't let him go in the initial story.

  • Raven Nation||

    I think you're right: my memory is that Harriman got to the moon but his rocket crashed & he died on the surface. Of course, that was when Heinlein started introducing his history as myth narratives with different timelines.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Harriman died in Requiem. He bought a rocket and went, even though he knew it would probably kill him. I haven't read TMWSTM or reread Requiem recently, which is really egregious considering what a Heinlein fan I am.

  • ||

    yes and it wasn't exactly revisioned history fiction, at the time most of the stories that follow that timeline were written, they took place in the future

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Slightly back on topic, Reagan pronounced the shuttles "operational" after STS-4. One could blame him for the underwhelming testing program that caused the losses of STS-51L and STS-107.

  • T||

    What, they weren't gathering performance data on the 46 flights between 'operational' and 51? Please.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    STS-51L was the 25th shuttle flight. The naming convention from STS-9 through challenger was the first digit indicated year of shuttle flight (1-1981, 2-1982, 3-1983, ...) and the second indicated launch site (1-Kennedy Space Center, 2-Vandanburg AFB). The letter indicated the number in order. The flight schedule was moved around, so some flights flew with numbers incorrect for their year. STS-62A was the first flight from Vandanburg, scheduled next after Challenger. Upon investigation of the SRBs, the Thiokol engineers realized that, if metal SRBs weren't safe, than the fiberglass ones to be used on Vandanburg flights (to allow a greater cargo to be hauled to polar orbit) weren't worth risking, so no shuttle ever flew from Vandanburg.

    Additionally, the 20 flights' data was essentially ignored. All sorts of things should have been raising eyebrows, but the "Gods of Apollo," as Michael Mullane put it, couldn't be worried by it.

    http://www.mikemullane.com/RidingRockets.htm

  • Citizen Nothing||

    Don't blame me. I voted for Ed Clark.

  • kinnath||

    Ditto

  • ||

    I voted for Reagan. Only in 1984--too young to vote for him in 1980.

  • ||

    Me too. The last time I voted for a candidate I liked in a general election.

  • ||

    I've voted LP almost exclusively ever since.

  • ||

    For the presidency, that is.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Same here.

    My conservative friends make the tired, old criticism that I'm wasting my vote. However, reviewing the performance of the phony conservative Republicans that actually got elected, that's a feature, not a bug, of voting Libertarian. And the Republicans that didn't get elected were certainly worse than the ones that did. At least when a Republican gets elected and then proceeds to betray his voters, I can always say I didn't vote for him.

    I do plan, however, to resign from the Libertarian Party for a few days around the time of the Republican primary.

  • ||

    I was too young to vote in 1980, being only 9 years old and all, but since I lived in Chicago, I'm pretty sure at least one vote for Carter was cast under my name in some precinct somewhere.

    Nowadays I no longer live in Chicago, but I'm certain my vote lives on there.

  • ||

    I didn't vote in '80, even though I was old enough. I was stupid and impressionable then and would have likely voted for Anderson, since he was the official media-ordained underdog. Voted for (still stupid and impressionable--Zod forgive me) Mondale in '84 and Paul in '88.

    Straight Libertarian since.

  • ||

    Mondale? Whatever were you thinking?

    I voted for Clinton in 1992, which is the only time I got the crazy in presidential politics (Reagan in 1984 was me being 18). I was tired of Reagan and Bush, thought we could use a little move to the center, and, if you want the real truth, was pissed off that people in Minneapolis (where I lived at the time), were regularly referring to two educated Southerners as "the Two Bubbas."

  • ||

    Also, Gore at the time didn't seem so crazy. Just goes to show that the Senate is a hotbed of sophistry and illusion.

  • ||

    I told you already: stupid and impressionable.

    I was still a drooling liberal, dutifully parroting everything the talking heads said what we should think about Reagan.

    I still feel the shame of that vote to this day, clinging to me like a bad smell.

  • ||

    I wasn't old enough to vote. If I could, though, I would have voted for Bill the Cat/Opus.

    This time, why not the worst?

  • ||

    While I didn't vote for Bill, I was part of Opus' so-called "Net Wars" program, a strategic defense plan to encircle the globe with $500 billion in small bills.

  • ||

    For some reason, that just made me think of the storyline--intended to show the stupidity of the war on drugs--where Oliver made a tonic from Bill's sweat that regrew hair in bald men, but had the unfortunate side effect of causing them to spontaneously go ACK! It was made illegal, so they made retarded amounts of money selling it on the black market, and were then (violently) raided by the DEA.

    Berke was amazing back then.

  • ||

    Fun stuff.

  • fish||

    And way ahead of the curve with respect top computer hacking/hackers in popular culture.

  • ||

    Weirdly, I almost posted ACK! THBTH! on my Facebook feed yesterday, sitting in miserable traffic on the way home from work. I hadn't thought about Bill in years, but it just popped in to my head.

    I figured about 7 people would get it, since my friends trend young.

  • ||

    I have that cartoon on my wall near my desk.

    Vote Bill the Cat -- 'Desperate times call for desperate measures.'

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Bill the Cat ran? I haven't read that Bloom County segment.

  • ||

    Bill ran multiple times. Meadow Party ticket. I'd link to some of the better ones, but it's almost impossible to find specific Bloom County panels online.

  • Rev. Blue Moon||

    I liked the one where Steve Dallas turned into James Watt.

    "I've got a black, a woman, two dips and a cripple"

  • ||

    I loved the ad for Bill where it says "he's one of you" and then lists several things that Bill's been, one being "He's been a redneck Northern liberal ethnic pro-life Jewish fixed-income no-nukes gun nut" and then another few with as equally crazy descriptions. Man, I wish I could find that online.

  • ||

    Looks like someone is trying to create a Bloom County search engine. Needs volunteers to help transcribe the text from images of the panels.

  • ||

    That is admirable, but will be an extremely laborious project. Really good OCR is probably a better bet.

  • ||

    By transcribing just one panel a day, you can preserve this important strip for future generations. Won't you give?

    Someone already did it for Calvin & Hobbes.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Really good OCR is probably a better bet.

    I take it you mean "far better than Adobe's version" b/c Acrobat's OCR sucks.

  • MammalsAreEvil||

    the quality's not great but...
    He's one of us.

  • MammalsAreEvil||

  • ||

    Awesome, thanks dude.

    "...and he's been a woman named Freida."

  • PersonalJustice||

    fyi that was Limekiller not Steve Dallas

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.....Limekiller

  • ||

    So did I.In 1988 I voted for Ron Paul.The first I was able to it was for John Hospers in 1972.

  • Steven Smith||

    Indeed, the best-ever performance by the large L Libertarians in a Presidential election came in 1980, when Ed Clark ran as much against the GOP standard-bearer that year as vs. Carter

  • O2||

    reagan raised taxes a number of times.

  • MWG||

    Seriously!?

  • kinnath||

    In 1980, I thought Ron Reagan had the right ideas on economics, but I also thought his foreign policy ideas were going to bring us to conflict with the Soviet Union.

    Eight years later, the Soviet Union was all but dead and Ron Reagan had crushed what ever constraints might have existed on federal spending.

    I've never understood why modern Republicans view him as a saint.

  • ||

    Rightly or wrongly, Reagan defenders will point out that Republicans never had full control of Congress during Reagan's Presidency. During much of it, Democrats controlled both Houses.

    So, the argument goes, Ron compromised with them as much as necessary and Tip O'Neil never delivered the promised spending restraint.

    There are limits to Presidential power.

  • kinnath||

    Reagan choose to push the Soviet Union into oblivion by escalating the arms race. He gave the Democrats vast amounts of social spending to get the funding to crush the Soviets. For this, he is a hero to a big chunk of the Republican party.

    I believe he did exactly the wrong thing. The Soviets were already dying. He should have spent his political capital getting the federal spending under control (by wielding a veto pen if need be).

  • ||

    I remember 1980 pretty well. If they were dying, the were hiding it really really well.

    The cracks were evident, but they had a mind-boggling huge military - which scared the piss out of everyone. We are just lucky they decided to use it on Afghanistan instead of West Germany.

  • kinnath||

    I need to run, but I love to chat about this.

    I was working a joint US/Russian engineering project from 1994 to 1998. Their technology was total crap. The country was falling apart from the inside.

    They may have had a huge army, but I'd be shocked if more than 40% of it was really operational at any given time.

  • ola||

    They may have had a huge army, but I'd be shocked if more than 40% of it was really sober at any given time.

    There, fixed.

  • ||

    Apparently, our intelligence either wasn't great (closed society and all made our job tougher than theirs, after all), or our defense people realized that they'd gain little announcing to the world that the USSR wasn't actually an expansionistic threat (nukes aside, of course).

  • ||

    our defense people realized that they'd gain little announcing to the world that the USSR wasn't actually an expansionistic threat

    DING DING DING

    Gotta keep the money flowing, and saying "that big threat isn't a threat" doesn't do that.

  • ||

    It's hard not to believe that was a factor, but, to be fair, I don't think our intelligence was great, either.

    Knowing what the U.S. is up to is a little easier--just subscribe to Popular Mechanics. Besides, the Soviets' ability to plant misinformation is legendary--look how they fooled the world into thinking Eastern European women were unattractive. Insidious, those Communist propagandists!

  • ||

    Gotta keep the money flowing, and saying "that big threat isn't a threat" doesn't do that.

    Well, duh. How else are you supposed to close the mine shaft gap?

  • ||

    We got the shaft!

  • kinnath||

    I remember reading many articles in the mid 90s describing the utter failure of the intelligence communities to recognize that the Soviet Union was dying from the inside out starting as early as the late 70's.

    So when Reagan was elected in 1980, it was the prevailing wisdom that the Soviet Union was a menace to world peace. I don't blame Reagan for taking the actions that he took.

    But by the mid-90s, it was obvious that we severely damaged our own economy to kill a country that was already dying.

  • ||

    The prevailing wisdom in the 70's was better red than dead. People thought we were going to lose that war, especially after Nam and Watergate.

  • BigT||

    The Soviets had crude technology, but they had tens of thousands of tanks and rocket launchers. The scenario we feared was a rapid armored offensive in central Europe, which would have crushed our vastly outnumbered forces. I saw some of this equip in W and E Germany in 1984. Chilling.

    Overthrowing the USSR was the most significant event of the 20th century, worth the awful price.

  • ||

    In 1980, our technology wasn't much better than the Soviet's. The M1 Abrams was just going into production in 1980, and some M60's were getting the A3 upgrades. That left a lot of crappy old M60's and Sheridan's in our combat units.

    The Bradley Fighting Vehicle went into production in 1980. It would take several years to fully replace the M113 death trap.

    The Blackhawk was just entering service in 1980. The F117 Stealth Fighter didn't make its first flight until '81. We didn't even start getting Humvees until 1984.

    Almost all the kick-ass gear people associate with the American military wasn't around in 1980. We were using worn out Vietnam junk to face the Russian's junk.

  • ||

    Vietnam junk? As a wireman, I was using WWII vintage communications gear. Then there was the shelter half I kept in my ruck. I think that was WWII vintage as well. Helmets, Jeeps, trucks, some of the Howitzers. Shit. Ivan looked 10 feet tall.

  • Otter||

    Hindsight is 20/20. One thing the article didn't bring up was the fact Reagan was shot in March 1981. Many books and interviews reported that his outlook changed following the shooting; from Nancy becoming more protective (not letting Reagan be Reagan), to Reagan himself believing he survived the shooting because he was destined to something great. His approach to domestic legislation became more compromising instead of confrontational possibly because of the shooting. This result of the shooting could have been what caused Ron Paul to become disillusioned with the Reagan of 1982 as opposed to the Reagan of 1976.

  • ||

    There are limits to Presidential power.

    Not any more!

  • kinnath||

    +1

  • ChrisO||

    Problem is, Reagan wasn't willing to fight for spending cuts the way he was willing to fight for tax cuts. The thinking was that increased tax revenue from a growing economy would pay for the spending increases, but that never worked.

    Republicans have always caved when it comes to actually fighting for spending cuts. 1981, 1995, and probably 2013.

  • ||

    I agree, although we will never know if it would have matter even a little.

  • ||

    Quite so. Unfortunately, historically, the tension between those who want to use political power to give away that which others have, and those who want to keep what they have, usually ends in something very ugly. After great upheaval. I can't wait.

  • Fluffy||

    Here's the deal:

    It's not really possible to combine the three pillars of Reagan Republicanism (libertarianism, the religious right, aggressive nationalism) in one person. Not even in Reagan.

    When someone comes out and tries to act as if they are that Unifier, they're bullshitting about something and giving short shrift to (at least) one element of the troika.

    With Reagan, it was the religious right. He pretty much played them.

    So with any GOP figure, you have to look at the individual politician and ask yourself, "Who's getting lied to the most here?"

    It's usually the libertarians who are getting lied to the most.

    For me to get behind a GOP candidate, I have to be able to decide they're lying to the religious right the most. I need a GOP candidate where I can say, "Their appeals to libertarians are half bullshit; their appeals to the nationalists are half bullshit; their appeals to the religious right are 90% bullshit." That was pretty much Reagan's math and I can deal with that.

  • ||

    What were Reagan's appeals to libertarians that weren't bullshit? Because it wasn't the drug war, or fucking with other countries (beyond the USSR), or anything else I can think of.

  • ||

    I think Reagan would've liked a less intrusive government, but he never really went there, wanting a powerful government to deal with the Soviets.

  • ||

    O Rly? The kind of less intrusive government that takes the drug war to 11?

    Reagan was a nanny statist in his own way. He is remembered fondly because he was charismatic and presided during a period of unprecedented growth and optimism that directly followed a period of stagnation and severe pessimism. The 80s were good times. And he was President. The late 90's were good times. And people tend to remember Clinton pretty fondly now, too.

  • ||

    Yeah, well, he was a confused old man.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Yeah, well, he was a confused old man.

    You know, maybe I like them a bit plump, but I still don't think Monica was all that bad looking.

  • ||

    You sicken me, chubby chaser.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Sorry, here's a nice, fit girl for you, Epi.

  • ||

    That's from your personal collection, isn't it. You disgust me.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Srsly, bro? Had to look that up for the tennis fan. She's obviously not nearly chubby enough for me. I like sports that don't take so much meat off the bone, like golf.

  • ||

    Most tennis chicks are not hot. They're either tanks like Clijsters or the Williams sisters or have atrocious faces like Schiavone or are just bland or plain. Your Sharapovas, Kournikovas, or Ivanovics are rare. Even Steffi Graf, who had a nice body, had a really bad nose that messed up her face.

  • BakedPenguin||

    That's why I watch women's golf. Apparently, it's a "boring" sport. Of course, it has Suzann Pettersen, Cristie Kerr, Ai Miyazato, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Michelle Wie, Morgan Pressel...

    I'll take "boring".

  • fish||

    Eeewww.


    (got her number?)

  • ||

    And people tend to remember Clinton pretty fondly now, too.

    Like we have a choice.

    I have to admit, I do miss the 80's. The big problems seemed simpler and easier to manage than they do today, plus, I was in my 20's, smoking a lot of weed and having lots of sex.

  • ||

    Clinton revisionism is foolish. He was a poor president, and the only thing that kept him from doing silly, lefty bullshit was the 1994 election. Which kicked his ass, big time. He, being the totally political creature that he is, immediately started pretending to be a small government conservative ("The Era of Big Government is over!").

  • k2000k||

    I have some issues with Reagan, like the drug war, but I am sympathetic to his desire to beat the Soviets. At the time we still thought they were a major threat, we now know that they were simply a strong breeze from collapse, and he stuck to those guns. Either way Reagan, for all his flaws and inconsistencies was a better president than Clinton, Bush II, or Obama. Though he could have been so much more too..

  • SIV||

    I wish Reagan had governed like his 1964 GOP Convention speech.Toppling the Soviet Union and freeing 100s of millions of people w/o any significant violence is an accomplishment which far outweighs any of the disappointment of his presidency. That was essentially a single-handed accomplishment to boot.

  • ||

    All true, but he presided over (mostly) good times. The Soviets were a memory, the economy was rocking and there was this cool new thing called the Internets.

    Of course, the 90's also gave us Courtney Love, so it wasn't *all* gravy.

  • CatoTheElder||

    It's really silly to attribute a huge productivity boost from technology to the a knucklehead who happens to occupy the White House. The '80s were great because of guys like Bill Gates, not Bill Clinton and because of stuff going on in places like the Silicon Valley, not the Potomac valley.

  • ||

    It's absolutely maddening how much the media and the public in general anthropomorphize everything into one single individual who has little to nothing to do with what they're anthropomorphizing. Presidents don't run the economy. They don't develop technology or new goods and services. They don't make us happy or sad--not by themselves, anyway.

  • ||

    Substantively? Probably very little. I think most libertarians who think of Reagan fondly are responding to rhetoric (or less kindly, being lied to). He often used rhetoric that was very libertarian. That makes him easier to defend than your average Democrat, who's rhetoric is decidedly not libertarian. It's easier for a libertarian to feel benevolent about someone who says things like 'individuals are what make America great' rather than things like 'our collective investment in our common infrastructure is what makes America great' (obviously not a direct quotes, but a general attitude/impression).
    -K

  • Fluffy||

    I get what you're saying about the drug war, but if Reagan gave a speech where he said:

    1. I hate me some welfare queens!

    and

    2. I want to stop abortion and put prayer back in schools!

    (and there were some speeches like that)

    ...when he said #1 he was talking to libertarians and telling the truth. When he said #2, he was talking to the religious right and in my estimation he was bullshitting them. He never did dick to try to make those things happen. He went out there and took a world of political shit to try to make #1 happen. He lost in the end, but he took all of that "Ketchup is a school lunch vegetable" shit on the chin trying to get some budget cuts done.

  • ||

    To be fair, spending cuts were about impossible the way Congress operated. And I think it's absolutely true that Reagan was not really planning to do anything for the religious right other than mutter some platitudes.

    Unfortunately, he sold out on his small government values (if he really had them) in too many ways to be given a pass. I believe he did that largely due to his Cold Warrior ways, but there's really no telling for sure.

  • NadePaulKuciGravMcKi||

    Why are the Neocons acting like guilty criminals?

  • Robert||

    If any of you have figured out how to govern without compromise when you have no iron fist to wield, I'd like to read it.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Have a very homogenous group of politicians control the presidency, a supermajority in both Houses, and every seat on the Supreme Court.

  • MWG||

    IOW Reagan was like every other politician.

  • ||

    I don't expect them not to compromise. I just don't want them to compromise about the things I care about. It would be nice to find someone who doesn't compromise about reducing the size of the government just once during my lifetime. About halfway through and hasn't happened yet.

  • cavalier973||

    Use the Presidential pardon. Anyone convicted of cheating on their Federal Income taxes? Pardoned. Anyone in jail because of the drug war? Pardoned. Anyone in jail because they killed a grizzly bear that threatened their family? Pardoned. Anyone facing a fine for causing a scene at a TSA porno-scanner and feel-up checkpoint? Pardoned. Is anyone facing penalties for violating laws that themselves violate individual liberty? Pardoned.

  • ||

    RR was first and foremost a cold warrior. Seen in that context, all the criticism over his foreign policy and military build-up loses some of its force. On the domestic side, every attempt to "cut" government was met with an onslaught of hand-wringing and rending of clothes by the Democrats (and some liberal Republicans) and their then, all-powerful liberal media monopoly. Does anyone remmember the ketchup as a vegetable nuttiness? How about Watt's Interior department trying to destroy the Earth and our very way of life, mania?

    I sort of think RR would have been better today. More outlets for his views, and no Soviet Union to fight.

  • ChrisO||

    Reagan was also a New Dealer. He never even brought up the subject of entitlement spending, which people even back then knew would eventually grow into the monster it has become.

    If the Republicans take control in 2013, I see them making the same mistakes all over again. Ultimately, almost every American wants a subsidy and doesn't want to pay for anyone else's subsidy. Probably only a societal crash breaks up that cognitive disconnect.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    You thinking of going Galt? There used to be a site called How to Go Galt, but it disappeared about a year ago.

  • CE||

    There used to be a site called How to Go Galt, but it disappeared about a year ago.

    Covering their tracks, no doubt.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Funny.

    You'd think they'd leave the line open, though...

  • BakedPenguin||

    There used to be a site called How to Go Galt, but it disappeared about a year ago.

    They lost wireless access in that part of Colorado due to new FCC regs.

  • ||

    Well, actually, he and Tip O'Neill "saved" social security. Don't you remember? Of course, they were just putting off the inevitable by pushing SS to later years. And stealing SS maoney for the general fund didn't help. Oh yeah, and they didn't do crap about medicare.

    As my post above notes, great upheaval is bound to occur. Gold, Lead and MREs.

  • ||

    I argued in another thread that the Soviet Union kept us focused. They focused us on our big difference (freedom). And because they were such a massive threat, smaller ones like Islamic terrorists, were shrugged off or disposed of quietly.

    We didn't resort to strip searching grandma at the airport after the Pan Am bombing. We just lobbed a few bombs at Gaddafi and moved on.

  • ||

    There is something to this. If they had started doing what the TSA does now, critics of it could have said "you're making us just like the Soviets!" or "even the Soviets don't do that", and it would have had quite an effect at stirring negative public opinion.

    Now, it's For Your Safety(TM), and criticisms are ignored, because the only way it really resonates with the public is when they get strip searched or see a video of a child crying while being searched.

  • ||

    Totally agree. I was in the Army in Germany in the Baider/Meinhof days. I did not give two shits about the Red Brigades, et. al. Our unit was worried about the Fulda Gap, and laying cheese charges in roads (ROADZ!) before the T-72s came rolling thru.

  • PR||

    yes. this was the time period when the grannies eating cat food meme was born, later recycled by Al Gore into the grannies taking cat lipitor meme, which gave us medicare part d.

  • ||

    Well shit, that stuff works! Ever see a cat with high cholesterol?

  • Carnac the Magnificent||

    :: Places Letter Against Forehead ::

    "It's Obama's fault"
    "Obama is a poopie head"
    "Obama sucks"
    "Obamageddon!!!"
    "Obama blah blah...WAAAHHH!! WAAHHH!!"
    "We need to return to small government ideals."

    :: Opens Letter and Reads Question ::

    "Summarize each GOP participant's responses during tonight's debate"

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    1. Herman Cain
    2. Newt
    3. Jon Huntsman
    4. RICK PERRY!!!!
    5. Bachmann
    6. Ron Paul

  • ||

    Obama is smart
    Obama makes jobs
    Obama saves the planet
    Obama brings peace and harmony with our enemies
    Obama doesn't smoke
    Obama wants new civil discourse

    Open letter, read question: What is on the teleprompter?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Is there going to be live blogging of tonight's debate? Has this been asked?

  • Matt Welch||

    We will have an open thread here, and various staffers (not me, alas) will be live-Tweeting (and those addresses will be mentioned in the open thread, at least in theory).

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    WHERE IS MY LIVE BLOG?

    Rick Perry is talking right now. TALKING!

  • Matt Welch||

    The beatings will commence.

  • Joe M||

    I'll be here again, snarking hard.

  • Gotta Love the Unions||

    Hip-hop hot shot Jay-Z is getting hammered by carpenters for using nonunion labor for the facelift of his Manhattan club 40/40.

    But the carpenters union, which erected five inflatable rats outside the Chelsea joint this week, has gone too far by shouting the N-word at management, according to Jay-Z's rep.

    "The union is trying to bully 40/40 to hire union workers. They were shouting racial slurs. It was really inappropriate protesting," said Lauren Menache, a spokeswoman for the Brooklyn-born singer.

    The union members used the "N-word" during protests and in phone calls to 40/40 management, said Menache.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/gos.....other.html

  • bart||

    I think the point about Ron Paul using Perry's criticism as an opportunity to really stress his principles is a good one.

    Ron Paul, would do very well to stress that in the debate tonight.

    I also think he needs to reframe attacks on some of his more "extreme beliefs" as either second term agendas or beneficial to the economy. Basically, if it doesn't help the economy, it doesn't matter and is therefore a second term issue.

    The more he keeps the focus on getting government out of the way of a real recovery - the better he will be received.

  • ||

    Reason = Weekly Standard

  • Vee comment||

    Weakly reasoned

  • ||

    Sorry Neocon.

  • Joe M||

    Great article. I had been thinking the exact same thing about Perry's supposed big "comeback" by revealing Paul's 1987 resignation letter, that it was a stupid move which only bolstered Paul's small government bona fides. Even back then he was attacking Keynesianism by name.

  • ||

    Paul's small-government credentials among this group (leaving aside poor, ridiculously screwed Johnson) are tremendously overwhelming. Since there's no Cold War to win, he's got a pretty good argument here. The only issue we have of really serious importance in 2012 is getting the government back under control, which would go a long way to fixing our economy. Paul is the only candidate (again, sans Johnson and maybe the LP candidate) for doing that.

    Perry's a joke. I don't trust him to roll back anything of importance. Paul will try so hard to shrink government that his own party will try to impeach him.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    I can see two good courses of action for Johnson:

    1. Be Ron Paul's Vice-President. If he offers now, and Paul accepts, then they can combine forces early.

    2. Drop out of the Republican race and register as a Libertarian. It would be like Bob Barr, except he would just be saying the same things as always, instead of a sudden change in direction.

    Of the two, I prefer option 1.

  • ||

    The libertarians in the GOP are making some small headway, so I'd prefer that they stay there to mess up the statist status quo.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    There's the dilemma: try one more time to pull the Republicans towards libertarianism, or just leave and try somewhere else.

    If neither Paul or Johnson get the nom, though, I'm voting libertarian and going crazy advertising the fact.

  • A Serious Man||

    Indeed, at the very least Ron Paul is paving the way for his son Rand, who while not quite as appealing as his dad is still better than virtually everyone else in the GOP.

  • ||

    I think Rand has a pretty good chance of being president some day, particularly if things keep heading south.

  • Joe M||

    Rand Paul has the 2020 vision!

  • k2000k||

    He is a little more Hawkish than his old man, but by and large their views are very similiar.

  • k2000k||

    I agree. Given the structure of American politics it doesn't make much sense to go the third party way. Rand Paul articulated it well when a libertarian told him on air how much he loved his views but was floored why he stayed in the Republican party. His answer, to put it simply, was that it is easier to change the political ideology of the Republican party than to try and bring the libertarian party to prominence.

  • Joe M||

    I'm still holding onto this silly fantasy of Sarah Palin endorsing Paul, just to say "fuck you" to the establishment.

  • ||

    That's mildly possible, though I doubt she'll do it.

  • Joe M||

    But who else would she endorse? I suppose Perry, since he is supposedly as "Tea Party" as she is, in that they both tried to get in front of the parade after it was already moving.

  • Koan||

    "Who are you voting for in November? Barack Obama. All my life I've been waiting for a black president; Obama's not monumentally unqualified, and his solid-if-boring book at least had some unkind words for teachers unions. Also my kids like him." - Tim Cavanaugh, October 2008

  • ||

    Yes, he was and is monumentally unqualified. Jesus, Tim, what were you thinking? He was less qualified than the VP candidate for the Republicans.

  • ||

    See? And you gave me shit for my Mondale vote.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    "Also my kids like him."

    Worst reason ever. Seriously. That says nothing about the quality of the candidate. It only says whether the kids think said candidate is of good quality.

  • BigT||

    "All my life I've been waiting for a black president;"

    Racism is a worse reason.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Okay, guys, I'm proud. Two hours and 120 comments in, and not one glib- or fib-ertarian. The trolls must be taking an off day.

  • ||

    Mom decided they'd better play doctor in the bathtub with each other and take a break from the computer. After all, growing kids with Down's syndrome need diversity in their daily activities!

  • A fan||

    White Indian must have found some firewater.

  • fish||

    ....or finally run out.

  • A Serious Man||

    Do the administrators on this site ban people from commenting?

  • Max||

    Matt Welch's Ron Paul:

    "Has Paul really disassociated himself from, and "taken moral responsibility" for, these "Ron Paul" newsletters "for over a decade"? If he has, that history has not been recorded by the Nexis database, as best as I can reckon. The first indication I could find of Paul either expressing remorse about the statements or claiming that he did not author them came in an October 2001 Texas Monthly article -- less than eight years ago.

    So what exactly did Paul and his campaign say about these and more egregious statements during his contentious 1996 campaign for Congress, when Democrat Lefty Morris made the newsletters a constant issue? Besides complaining that the quotes were taken "out of context" and proof of his opponent's "race-baiting," Paul and his campaign defended and took full ownership of the comments." -- Matt Welch

  • ||

    I just hope Paul doesn't lose his way if he's elected. Imagine what sort of damage an ideological defection to statism by Ron Paul would cause.

  • k2000k||

    He won't do that. But I do think we have to be realistic about the changes he can implement. The damage done by the progressives has been done slowly over the course of a century. It will take a very long time to unroll all that. I think the most realistic outcome, if he gets elected, is that he will reduce our roll overseas, though not completely pull us out of all our military obligations but will end or expediate the end of the two wards we are fighting. We probably won't get a balanced budget, but he will vetoe or withhold a lot of spending increases. Perhapes the best thing he could do would be to give an executive order to end TSA searches, put a mortorium on the most egregious parts of the patriot act, and use his position as the head Cop of the USA to put some serious pressure on the FED.

  • ||

    I was thinking more along the lines of unicorns in which he at least partly restores the republic, but I guess dreams of liberty really fuck up my perception of what's realistic and what isn't.

    Still, I hope he pulls a rabbit out of his ass and somehow manages to sway the government entirely to his cause.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Take David Stockman out to the woodshed.

  • CE||

    Some Reagan quotes that libertarians might like:

    Concentrated power has always been the enemy of liberty.

    Government always finds a need for whatever money it gets.

    Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.

    Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.

    Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.

    Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.

    Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hit man.

    Man is not free unless government is limited.

    No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!

    The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

  • ||

    Let's hope Paul doesn't reproduce Reagan's failings, eh?

  • Max||

    Ron Paul is a fucking racist! How libertarian is that?

  • fish||

    So don't fucking vote for the man!

    Shit max we know you don't like the guy!

  • ||

    We're all racists, you see. Don't you get it, Fish? You're a RACIST. Because Ron Paul's a RACIST. Racist, racist, racist, racist. Racist. And, for something new, racist.

    I hope that my repetition of the word racist in this post is enough to dissuade Max from posting shit again about it.

  • Tony||

    "I'm not racist, I put absolutely no thought whatsoever to nonwhite people!"

  • ||

    Everyone who did not vote for ObamaMessiah is a RACIST!!!

  • fish||

    That is so racist!

  • A Serious Man||

    Cool story, bro.

  • Doug||

    The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

    My personal favorite.

  • ||

    Reagan wasn't perfect, and he wasn't a "libertarian" but he was dang good president.

    He might have physically increased the size of government, but was he as aggressive as Obama in regulating our lives? We're like two years away from being forced to buy government mandated healthcare.

    Reason staff might insist that the tea party is wannabe libertarian, but they certainly seem to share their ideological purism. Select a great American president, and behold, not one of them is "libertarian". The ACLU would have charged Lincoln with treason for his decisions during the Civil war.

    In its raw, bare bones form, libertarianism is TOUGH sell to the mainstream voters. "I'll shrink our military, lift tarriffs on foreign competition, abolish the civil rights act, toughen immigration policies, support pro life causes, legalize drugs, and rationlize terrorist attacks as a natural response to our interventionism" - that's enough to piss off 90% of liberals and 50% of conservatives.

    Rand Paul is enormously popular among conservatives because he packages popular libertarian ideas with conservatism. It's time for the son to rise, methinks.

  • Tony||

    RR was a great libertarian president, and to the extent that he could get away with it, we're all suffering the consequences.

  • ||

    I take it there's no debate thread.

  • ||

    I need words for a drinking game tomorrow night. I was thinking:

    outsourcing
    manufacturing
    green

  • ||

    I need words for a drinking game tomorrow night. I was thinking:

    outsourcing
    manufacturing
    green

  • ||

    fair-share
    infrastructure
    underprivileged

  • ||

    "notions of fairness" is also a fav of his.
    notice he will never identify whose notions of fairness he is referring to.

  • ||

    You just opened up one, Tulpa.

    BTW, enjoy not being my FFL bitch for another 24 hours. After that, PWNAGE!!!

  • ||

    Oh God, RP gets a softball question right down the middle on federal regulation and replies with an incoherent mess.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You're splitting the debate thread audience! Others are live blogging on the next post up.

  • ||

    The thread up there has nothing to do with the debate..

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    There's a debate on?

  • ||

    Bachmann says she can get the GOP to 60 senators to repeal Obamacare. OK, whatever.

  • Nike Blance Sneakers||

    Bachmann says she can get the GOP to 60 senators to repeal Obamacare. OK, whatever.

    Good idea.

  • Wintermute||

    Nick, it was great you got Stockman to share his brains and experience with us, but you walked over an intriguing thing he was about to say at 38:25.

  • ||

    Ron Paul: "People live near the ocean because FEMA exists."

    AAAAAAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA

    Oh man.

    So good.

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA

  • ||

    Maybe paul's campaign is learning that the majority of conservatives have no clue whats going on. If they hear something often enough they begin to believe it. No background knowledge is necessary

  • Mortimer Duke||

    One of the biggest regrets in my voting life was not discovering Harry Browne until after the election of 2000. I miss him so.

  • kicksneakerboxes||

    good

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