Justin Raimondo Is A Decent Person

I never thought I'd say this, but Justin Raimondo is a decent human being. Ron Paul, however, is not.

Whatever sympathy I may have once shared for the Paul campaign has been completely lost. Now, more than ever, is the time to loudly and publicy withdraw support from the Ron Paul campaign.

Thousands of students from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Muslim countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, and elsewhere come to this country and bring home with them the ideas of liberty, tolerance, and fair play that are the predominant themes of our culture. Barring them would be politically foolish, economically counterproductive, and a prelude to much worse.

It saddens me to write this, and yet I cannot be silent in the face of such a brazenly ugly attempt to cash in on barely disguised anti-Muslim sentiment, especially since his proposal would penalize large numbers of perfectly innocent people, young people whose only “crime” is to want to come to America. ...

This is about allowing legal immigration – and, specifically, of a type that benefits us in many ways, economically and in terms of the good will generated throughout the world at a time when we sorely need it.

Will you remain silent in the face of this monstrous campaign? Will you continue to support this ugly nativism and anti-Muslim (and Mexican) racism as the Paul campaign besmirches whatever decency libertarianism may have left in the public eye?

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My commie friends

I've got friends who to this day support Fidel Castro, and who are, in every aspect of their personal lives that I can observe, decent people. And as far as I was able to see, my antisemitic great uncle in Buenos Aires with Nazi sympathies was a decent human being. So, no, I don't personalize political positions. If somebody has an unsavory political position, I don't decide that they are not decent people. If I did that I would have to disown my parents, my extended family, and friends I have known most of my life. But aside from the practical implication of it, I simply do not think of a person's political views as part of his personal moral character. Rather, his actions as an individual decide this.

Personalizing politics this way does not work for me, and in fact turns me off. And having the right politics does not get a person any closer to heaven. An absolute bastard could be a libertarian and still be an absolute bastard. Take me for example.

Words are cheap. Soul-stirring rhetoric and four bucks will get you a latte at Starbucks.

Constant, I agree with the

Constant, I agree with the general point you're making, but I hold politicians themselves to a higher standard; it's their job to know better. Paul of all people, who sells himself as a man of principle, can't get away with the excuse that he's just playing politics to the basest and ugliest elements of the American electorate. And as Raimondo argues, this isn't even playing smart politics: it's just encouraging the same sort of anti-arab war mongering and Islamic-chicken-littleism that Paul is notorious for fighting against.

Whatever you may think of the man personally (and I have met him in person), this should be the last straw for supporting his campaign.

Their job

I'm not entirely sure what the basis of your complaint is. I don't think it is the "job" of politicians to "know better", for the simple reason that the vast majority of politicians don't "know better" and they're not getting fired for that. My job is pretty much defined by whatever it is a person typically needs to do, and does, in order to keep from getting fired from my position. To say that it is their "job" to "know better" is to idealize the government, and I simply don't. The government's job is to rob us, the job of the politician is to win votes, and so on. I don't idealize either the government or the politicians. So, I am neither surprised nor offended that a politician fails to live up to an ideal which I simply do not hold him to. I dislike the government not because it has betrayed its special governmental obligation to me to be a good government, but because it is an entity like any other which is violating my rights. If anyone, anyone at all, did to me what the government does to me, I would dislike that person for that reason. So it is not on account of living up to a special "job" that I dislike the government.

Nor do I think that his position on immigration necessarily goes against his own principles as he understands them. Maybe it does, but I would need more evidence. Hoppe has similarly "un-libertarian" views on immigration, but I believe that Hoppe believes that his position is principled (and not, say, pandering). Why not Ron Paul as well?

Nor am I particularly shocked that Ron Paul's principles are not the same as mine. That is hardly earth-shattering news. I think very few people in the world - and this includes people who devote their intellectual lives to working out principled stances on things - share my principles. So, no surprise, no shock, no particular offense here either.

The remaining basis of your complaint seems to be that you think Ron Paul represents libertarianism, and you don't think he represents it very well. So it's actually a public relations issue that you have with Ron Paul. You don't want people to get the wrong idea about libertarianism, because libertarians are generally for open borders. And you fear that if libertarians support Ron Paul as the least of all the evils, then people will think that libertarians are for tightly closed borders. Maybe. But I don't really see any great danger of that happening. The Ron Paul brand does not seem to me to be very closely associated in the public eye with libertarianism. And anyway people understand that picking a politician is about liking him more than the alternatives, not about endorsing every point of his platform.

It's an question of division

It's an question of division of labor. I don't expect the average joe to know that much (or care that much) about what is the correct political position, because the average joe shouldn't have to know that kind of stuff; it isn't his job. But it is the job of professional politicians, or people who specialize in that industry, so I judge them by a higher standard. Paul especially so, since the rest of his rhetorical package would seem to be imply that he knows better than even the average politician, and not just the average joe. That's what makes it especially disappointing and makes me especially critical of him.

This isn't merely a critique of his position on immigration. Notice that even Raimondo agrees with Paul generally on immigration. This is a critique of his position on issuing student visas to legal immigrants from "terrorist countries." This is much worse, and much less justifiable from any remotely libertarian position, than a general anti-immigration stance.

The infamous ad

The infamous ad:

I have been bashing Ron Paul to french libertarians for a while, and I became increasingly aggressive a month ago. My criticism of Ron Paul as an anti-immigration was mostly perceived as exaggerated, and his position shrugged upon as "not a big deal" when not embraced.
A few days ago, this ad came as an incredible I-told-you-so. Not only does it show that immigration control is a central point in Paul's campaign, it also shows Ron Paul isn't a libertarian at all. He may share some libertarian values, but deep inside he thinks like a collectivist.
I had a post a while back on judging people based on virtues rather than acts. I now believe I can easily despise Ron Paul on both. Not that many people in his situation would approve of such a distasteful ad.

Why not bash commies, or somebody like that?

If you want to bash somebody, why must it be fellow libertarians like Ron Paul? Oh, that's right, he "isn't a libertarian at all." Echoes of the Stalinist/Trotskyist divide. Such a shame to see it happen to libertarians. Libertarians form a tiny little island of political opinion, and you want to shove a large chunk of that little island into the sea. Just keep in mind, Ron Paul isn't the only libertarian who has different views from you on something you care about.

Audience

Why would I waste time bashing commies to libertarians ? I bash commies to socialists, socialists to democratic socialists, democratic socialists to right-wing democrats, right-wing democrats to classical liberal and so on...

Doesn't make sense

I can't make sense of your approach and Micha's approach as some sort of coherent thing. Micha writes:

the Paul campaign besmirches whatever decency libertarianism may have left in the public eye?

The audience that Micha is talking about is "the public eye", which is not "libertarians". Micha isn't worrying about Paul besmirching libertarianism to libertarians. But you...are? Or...what?

The issues are linked. Ron

The issues are linked.

Ron Paul has visibility, therefore, libertarians want to try to piggyback on it to spread libertarian ideas. The easiest way to do that is to say : "we endorse Ron Paul !" A more specific, more elaborate message will not work. Ads like this show how destructive this endorsement can be. Libertarians thought they could spread libertarian ideas, as the cost of introducing some confusion (Ron Paul is not perfectly libertarian) and they now end up linked with an outrageous ad. I have been bashing Ron Paul to libertarians because I felt it was a big deal, that they would dearly pay the price of their display of support. My warning was often brushed off because they did not see immigration as central to Ron Paul's message. To them Ron Paul was merely just offering a pragmatic solution without a lot of conviction or ideology. When they saw the ad, I think many of them realized they were wrong and the potentially negative effects of their support.

It was no secret

Based on the key policy criteria, Ron Paul is my top choice and Fred Thompson, if I recall, comes right after. I don't remember exactly what criteria I used, but a while ago somebody put out a convenient table that listed the positions of all the candidates on various issues, and I ranked the issues that mattered to me most, and Ron Paul clearly came out ahead of most of the other candidates, and I think Fred Thompson did pretty well too.

I knew, and I know, that Ron Paul is not the open-borders type. I'm pretty sure it was there in the list as well, because I recall being aware of it. Immigration policy was probably not my top criterion, and so it did not change my view. And it still doesn't. So I'm just unimpressed by the supposed "I told you so" about this commercial, which merely restates Ron Paul's position on this issue.

Of course, the point of the exercise that I went through was to see what candidate I would rather see in the White House. It was not to use Ron Paul as a kind of public relations tool. I'm not even sure how I would do that. I have often told people I was a libertarian, and if they asked I gave specific policy positions, but I have never said, "if you want to know what a libertarian is, look at Ron Paul". Do people do that? I guess if people do that, then that's probably a mistake if they don't agree with his whole platform. But do people really do that?

My vision of people picking Ron Paul as their favorite is that they think he best fits their policy preferences, and he certainly best fits mine. I knew about his immigration position, but it's not the only issue that I care about and probably not the most important to me.

It's not about picking a

It's not about picking a favorite, it's about endorsing, campaigning, writing articles, etc.

Walter Block for example wrote articles on LRC praising Ron Paul, actually groveling.

Under President Paul’s administration (I have to
confess that I really like the sound of that phrase. I think I’ll
repeat it: President Paul’s administration. Perhaps this sounds
even better: President Ron Paul’s administration. Or maybe this:
The Administration of President Ron Paul? Okay, okay, back to business,
now.

I am almost certain that Walter Block doesn't think of Ron Paul as a coherent libertarian. So why such a cheerfull support ? Publicity, the hope that linking libertarianism to Ron Paul's campaign will do more good to libertaranism through spreading than it will harm it through confusion.

I always thought it would do more harm. Now that this ad aired, I find that more rather than less people agree with me on this.

This has nothing to do with Ron Paul being the best candidate, he doesn't have a shot anyway, it's about media access to libertarian ideas. If I could I would probably vote for Ron Paul, but I don't respect him and I believe it is counter-productive to cheer for him.

Many libertarians who gave money to Paul's campaign are waking up realizing their money has been used to spread not libertarian ideas, but a populist, authoritarian, collectivist attack on free immigration.

 

No groveling allowed

Okay, some people grovelled and other people gave money to Ron Paul, and they might regret it now (or they might not - depends). While I am critical of the grovelling and the funding, I guess I wouldn't word my criticism as an attack on Ron Paul as an evil man or whatever, but I would warn against falling into a cult of personality. The warning is not really about Ron Paul at all. He's a human, and therefore he is unlikely to truly embody anybody's ideal. The warning is general: avoid getting sucked into a cult of personality.

I am what I would call a fan of Hoppe, another of those closed-border libertarians. I have several of his books, and I have listened to many of his lectures, and I find him stimulating. I think I count as a fan. But I am not an adherent or follower. I don't buy his argument for immigration control. Nor do I buy his argument for monarchy as compared to democracy (briefly, the monarch as owner of the country will take the long view while the democratic politician is intrinsically shortsighted - the point seems valid, but it is not enough to persuade me to prefer monarchy), though I do find it - as usual with his arguments - stimulating, interesting, novel.

So I think it is probably possible to be a fan of Ron Paul, without being a devotee. I am not, because I don't really know anything about him. I noticed that the Mises Institute came out with a book of his writing, so I suppose he might be something like Hoppe, but I don't really know because I haven't read any of it. But maybe somebody has and is a fan.

And I think it is perfectly possible for someone who supports open borders, to nevertheless find sufficient value a closed-borders libertarian's other ideas to be ready to support him and to praise him generally. People praise and support people with whom they do not entirely agree all the time. Cult of personality is bad, but not all support of this sort is cult of personality.

I happen to also be a fan of

I happen to also be a fan of Hoppe's work, without buying his argument on closed border. I also do not share Hoppe's conservative values, at least not to the same extent. I value cosmopolitanism more than him and believe in the benefits of looser social norms than he does.

Hoppe is a principled thinker whom I disagree with. Ron Paul is a different matter. He is a politican to start with, no matter what his supporters say. 

 

I didn't voice my attack as an attack on Ron Paul but an attack on the support, I took a shortcut by saying I bashed Ron Paul but I was actually careful enough to attack his support. It is not only the cult of personality I was after, but also the odd faculty to look the other way for the issue of immigration. Even an anti-immigration like Hoppe should despise the kind of collectivist argument put forth by Ron Paul (welfare and terror).

This ad makes it hard for those people to look the other way.

As a practical matter

As a practical matter, I think the ad has essentially zero impact on the noosphere, because it is just one more drop in a sea of nativism. So I don't see it as particularly harmful. It might be harmful if people associate nativism with libertarianism, but as I mentioned elsewhere, I don't think they are likely to do that. Meanwhile, I have seen a bit of Ron Paul through Youtube and he seems to like to talk about a lot of topics, which is a good thing if you want libertarian messages to get out there. My main worry about him is that his demeanor screams "oddball crackpot", so even if he spouts pure libertarianism, that's not necessarily a plus for libertarianism.

Paul for President as propaganda

Constant: I have never said, "if you want to know what a libertarian is, look at Ron Paul". Do people do that? I guess if people do that, then that's probably a mistake if they don't agree with his whole platform. But do people really do that?

I don't know whether anyone's done that, but a lot of people have given money to the campaign, or put up signs and banners ("Ron Paul 2008," "Ron Paul Revolution," "Google Ron Paul," etc.), or made personal endorsements of Ron Paul's campaign, all of which they've justified on the grounds that Ron Paul's campaign literature, debate answers, etc. promote libertarian ideals, and so getting more attention for his campaign will, in turn, educate more people about libertarianism and perhaps persuade more people to embrace it.

Presumably that's only a good argument to the extent that Paul's campaign actually is promoting libertarian ideals. If the money, for example, goes to produce nasty nativist-statist propaganda rather than propaganda that actually promotes libertarianism, then the money may be going towards promoting Ron Paul, but it's not going towards promoting, or educating people about, libertarianism.

Seen him speak, visited his site

It's not all immigration all the time. The one ad doesn't constitute the whole of his message over the past months. So if the desire is that Ron Paul get a lot of libertarian messages out, be happy, because he did. If the desire is that Ron Paul embody the pure libertarian, well, it's not really any surprise that such a desire is disappointed.

Come on. The campaign

Come on. The campaign message of Ron Paul boils down two three things:

- Get out of Iraq

- Increase border protection

- Less taxes

Of course he takes issue with the fed for example, and that's good, but that does not constitute his campaign message. U.S. presidential campaign are simplistic, maybe one or two campaign ideas and that's it.

Not sure how you define his "campaign message"

I define his "message" as "what he says", and in the Youtube clips of him that I've seen, he says a lot of things. Maybe those don't count? Admittedly, I am not in a position to observe his "campaign", in the sense of his paid political advertisements, because I barely watch television. I only saw this one because a blog link stuck my nose in it.

I endorse this message

I praised Ron Paul for just that here. I guess I'm not a decent person or a purist libertarian, but I didn't claim to be one either.

I won't bother answering on

I won't bother answering on moral grounds to your utilitarian point because an internal criticism is always mor effective.

Do you really think not granting student visa is going to stop terrorism ? Well the 9/11 terrorists had visas... correct.

I suggest we stop building 110 stories towers as well. The cost is minimal, we can do very well with less than 110 stories tower. Since the 9/11 highjickers targetted 110 stories tower, it obviously couldn't happen again with this policy in place.

What the terrorist are losing if student visas are refused to them is a mere opportunity cost. There are tons of possible terrorists plots, the possibilities are endless. They can get in easily by sea in Maine, get a student visa in Canada and cross the border in the mountains, they can get in with a tourist visa, they can attack US abroad, they can come without a visa and hijack the plane they're riding to the US, they can...

Cutting F1 or J1 is a joke... Ron Paul wants to stop foreign intervention, but he still needs to look tough on terror, so he went that way: Oh I won't wage war but I'll fight terror at the border. It's certainly a better strategy, it will probably have no effect on terrorism as opposed to a negative effect, but it's still laughable.This is fear mongering at it lowest.

 

Let's continue on utilitarianism. Out of 300,000,000 people, about 1 person a day has died every day in the US of a terrorist attack since 9/11. Compare this (since you claim you can) to the economic loss of immigrant labor from Mexico, on the cultural loss of foreign students.

 

The Internal Critique Is Much, Much Stronger Than You Suggest

Taken from my friend Tim Swanson's follow up post to Raimondo's on anti-war.com blog:

Regarding the 19 hijackers, while several of them applied for student visas, none of them originated from countries currently defined as a terrorist state by the State Department. The sole hijacker that applied for and actually used a student visa, Hani Hanjour, was from Saudi Arabia. All of the others used B1/B2 visas (tourism, business travel).

As the official GAO report states (pdf):

Of the 19 hijackers, 18 received a total of 21 visas for temporary visits for business and pleasure, and 1 received 2 student visas.

In short, the general concept proposed in the ad would not have prevented these hijackers from receiving visas; this, despite the fact that most of the visa applications raised numerous red flags.

Do you really think not

Do you really think not granting student visa is going to stop terrorism ? Well the 9/11 terrorists had visas... correct.
I would expect that it would require more than just student visas. Visas of all sorts would have to be restricted.

I suggest we stop building 110 stories towers as well.
The obvious result would be 109 foot story towers, which are only a marginally less attractive target that 110 story towers, not that towers are the only target anyways. I've never cared much about sprawl, so I'm not as opposed to limiting the heights of buildings, but I don't see much point in it.

What the terrorist are losing if student visas are refused to them is a mere opportunity cost.
Making them lose opportunities sounds good to me. We haven't had an attack in a while, so it seems to me they are sensitive to disruptions caused by our government's policies, even if most of them are ineffective. From what I've heard, the part of their plans that took the most effort and time was acquiring visas, so apparently it was an important part for them.

There are tons of possible terrorists plots, the possibilities are endless.
There are tons of possible things to do once they are here, not so many easy ways to get to that point.

They can get in easily by sea in Maine
They have declined to do that, and once they were here their status would be illegal. They'd stand out more than Mexicans without papers as well.

get a student visa in Canada
If it's easy to do that, no big loss for the vast majority of harmless ones that can't get visas here.

and cross the border in the mountains
I think there was one guy who tried to get in from Canada, the Millenium bomber, but he got busted before he could carry out his attack.

they can get in with a tourist visa
Those should be restricted as well.

they can attack US abroad
What the hell are we doing there anyway? Paul's plan is to bring everyone home.

they can come without a visa and hijack the plane they're riding to the US
Fool me three times, shame on me, after that Flight 93. I don't think they'll try the same plan again. A plane that originates outside the U.S and isn't supposed to be travelling there would be even more obvious.

Ron Paul wants to stop foreign intervention, but he still needs to look tough on terror, so he went that way
I did say the benefits is a less harmful policies are the best part. People are going to demand something be done, and Paul can use this as a stick to beat the Bushes who tried to wrap themselves in the mantle of anti-terrorism but declined to do this, would would be a much more effective way of stopping terrorism than bombing Iraq or making color charts.

it will probably have no effect on terrorism
You just said it was an opportunity cost? That's not nothing.

This is fear mongering at it lowest.
I was about to say Korematsu was lowest, but then I remembered how often mass-murder occurs.

Compare this (since you claim you can) to the economic loss of immigrant labor from Mexico
That's a different issue. I endorse restricting immigration from there for different reasons than terrorism. I'd be fine with a Gulf State style guest-worker system though, as Lant Pritchett has advocated.

on the cultural loss of foreign students.
Hahaha. I'd be hard pressed to think of something more piffling. Isn't that the angle defenders of affirmative action usually take? If a bunch of students decide to attend Canadian universities for the cultural contributions of these students I might rethink things but right now I just laugh. I'm willing to give up a good number of annual lives for fatty foods and fast cars, but not that.

I'd be hard pressed to think

I'd be hard pressed to think of something more piffling. Isn't that the angle defenders of affirmative action usually take?

I am talking of the loss for foreign student of American culture. But "screw them" I guess...

Without a visa, getting in the US is very easy, carrying an attack is also easy. What's not is working, renting an appartment etc... the terrorists don't really need to do that.

It's so easy

I am talking of the loss for foreign student of American culture.
America pumps out its culture to a far greater extent than any other country, and while I think D'souza is a loon, I agree with Nathan Rabin that a lot of Americans have an over-inflated sense of the greatness of their culture and how much muslims need exposure to it. I'm playing the world's smallest violin for Sayyid Qutb the Third not getting a chance to experience a frat-party and seeing if it's as bad as the 1950s church social his granddad told him about.

But "screw them" I guess...
I'm weighing their experiences in America against the increased probability of attacks and negative effects of other policies that would be enacted in the place of visa restrictions and finding them wanting.

Without a visa, getting in the US is very easy, carrying an attack is also easy.
Then al Qaeda must really be a bunch of morons, because they didn't take that route, even though they later stated that was the hardest part of the plan and took the longest time. How do you know how easy it is to carry out an attack?

What's not is working, renting an appartment etc... the terrorists don't really need to do that.
Isn't that just what the 9/11 hijackers did? Tried to blend in like normal folks?

Just because the 9/11 did

Just because the 9/11 did something doesn't mean they have to do it that way next time. As I said  you are only removing some  opportunities to them, and actually very few.

I do not whish to list all the possibilities here for sincere fear of a visit of DHS but it is extremely easy for an intelligent person to come up with terrorist attacks, no less spectacular than 9/11,without ever needing a visa.

 

There's another argument, even if border control successfully stops terrorist, it is useful only if there are attacks.

Ron Paul does have a good way to fight terrorism, withdraw from foreign intervention. Terrorists don't target freedom" otherwise they'd also attack Luxembourg and Switzerland. They don't, for a reason.

When you consider Ron Paul's border control effects  on terrorism, you have to consider them combined with the  effects of stopping foreign intervention. Even if additional border control stops 50% of potential terrorist attacks, they would be so few without foreign intervention than the benefit of border control becomes minimal

 

Then al Qaeda must really

Then al Qaeda must really be a bunch of morons, because they didn't
take that route, even though they later stated that was the hardest
part of the plan and took the longest time. How do you know how easy it
is to carry out an attack?

I've wondered a lot about this question. Do you remember the D.C. sniper a few years back? 1-2 dudes, pretty rudimentary training, extremely low cost, nearly impossible to stop and arrest, mass public terror and fear. Why don't we see more tactics like this? I honestly have no idea.

I'm also not so sure why you think terrorism is such a grave threat that you think it's worth doing much about. Couldn't we save a lot more lives and money by, I don't know, decreasing speed limits or better drivers education classes? Even if you place very little weight on the value of immigrants' freedom to travel and expose themselves to U.S. culture, surely even this small cost isn't worth paying to just slightly reduce the odds of a future terrorist attack. 9/11 just wasn't that important, apart from a symbolic gesture.

I also often wonder why

I also often wonder why there is so few terrorists acts when the payoff is so high and the cost so small.

Imagine a sniper who would announce everyday a type of victim : today, it'll be a blond woman... today it'll be a bearded man... today a black teenager, etc etc. Can you imagine the mass hysteria and the impact on people's life ? Imagine a bombing of a single McDonald. Cheap, easy, and ten folds self-financing considering the stock market reaction.

I can think of thousands of cheap plans and I am sure Al Quadea has give it much more thought than I have. I can think of a few reasons why there are so few terrorists attacks.

- They need to be spaced out to be effective, otherwise people adapt to them, treat them as mere accident with little impact on their lives.

- They are harder or costlier to carry out than I would expect.

- The people who would be doing this kind of things are closely watched, therefore it is more dangerous for them to make a move than the random person I assume in my expectations.

- Terrorists fear retaliation on their home country.

- There are secrete implicit or explicit truces between the US and terrorists.

 

Important disclaimer: I really hope I don't give the wrong idea to wrong persons, the loss of human life is always a tragedy. I fortunately don't think my ideas are original enough to actually make a difference in a sociopath's life.

Benefits of non-intervention

I do believe that non-intervention will make us safer in the long run. But I don't believe it works its magic so effectively and instantaneously. Bush has done a hell of a job of mucking about and pissing people off, but we have not been attacked since. The U.S has been pissing people off for a long time, and people aren't going to suddenly change their minds when some new guy comes in. They didn't care that Bush was replacing Clinton and talking about a "humble foreign policy" with "no nation building", nor did they take a shining to Clinton when he assisted their comrades in the Balkans (a lot of al Qaeda guys were involved there). Having a Good Guy in charge does not make bad actors decide to quit the jihad business and get a real job, especially considering how long a memory people have in those places. The neocons in America seem impervious to any intrusion of reality in their demands for attacking other countries and I agree with Tyler Cowen that "However bad is our model of the terrorists, I suspect that their model of us is even worse". As I discussed in my link to the blog, I want the restrictions to be temporary and be removed when there is no longer a significant threat, but I don't imagine that's going to take place instantly.

As I discussed in my link

As I discussed in my link to the blog, I want the restrictions to be
temporary and be removed when there is no longer a significant threat,
but I don't imagine that's going to take place instantly.

I'm curious what you think makes a threat "significant"; what are your criteria? Do you consider 9/11 significant? Why? And how do we determine when a threat is no longer significant? Is it simply dollar value of threat multiplied by risk of threat? If so, what sort of dollar value do you consider significant, and how does this compare in your policy calculus with other, more mundane threats like environmental, traffic, health and everyday safety threats? Because it's pretty obvious to me that terrorism is far, far down on the list of things worth worrying about.

Was 9/11 significant?

Do you consider 9/11 significant?
Yes. The direct results weren't chopped liver, but the main reason it was significant were the results in policy changes. People basically went crazy and much stupidity resulted. I would also say the terrorism problem is a bit different from other ones in that there are thinking actors who are attempting to maximize damage to the U.S (admittedly not as their highest goal, but that's currently the idea) including by getting us into quagmires and can react to counter policies enacted against them.

When I ask whether you think

When I ask whether you think 9/11 was significant, I obviously don't mean to ask whether policy overreactions are significant. That's precisely what I'm arguing against; that we shouldn't treat terrorist attacks as significantly as we do, through unnecessary wars and border/immigration lockdowns. How is the (admitted) insignificance of 9/11 an argument for increased restrictions on student and tourist visas?

The extended phenotype of terrorism

I don't think 9/11 by itself was insignificant, I would want a government to try to prevent that sort of thing. It was overblown, but that doesn't mean it didn't really matter. Also, even with President Paul the reaction to such a thing is going to be overwhelming pressure for idiotic policies. Reducing the impact of terrorist events to merely the direct effects is going to require more than electing a new politician but a new electorate. I think an unnecessary war is a huge cost (and various homeland security measures below that), and visa restrictions not nearly so.

Bumpersticker Idea

That would make a good bumpersticker: "New electorate in 2008!"