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December 27, 2011 3:18 pm

Why Jews Should Listen to Ron Paul

avatar by Gabriel Martindale

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Ron Paul at the 2007 National Right to Life Convention. Photo: R. DeYoung.

At the beginning of the month the Republican Jewish Coalition, in a demonstration of typically self-defeating pettiness, barred Ron Paul from appearing at the event they had organized to let Jewish Republicans hear what the primary contenders had to say. It seems from their explanation that they simply thought it would be a waste of time to invite him because Jewish voters would never support him. Perhaps this is because of his strong stance in support of wearing Shaatnez or his 30 year record of advocating driving on Shabbos (or was that conservative Judaism, I get confused so easily), but the main reason seems to have been his “misguided and extreme” views on foreign policy, specifically Israel and Iran.

Now, I feel no particular reason to defend Ron Paul’s foreign policy, not least because I don’t agree with it. It does, however, seem to me preferable to the “mainstream” Republican policy of spending hundreds of billions of borrowed dollars on bringing democracy to Arab countries that patently aren’t capable of any form of political organization much more civilized than that of Bonobo monkeys. I also can’t understand why some people are so blockheaded as to be unable to see that whatever Israel loses from a suspension of military aid is outweighed to the point of total insignificance by the end of American aid to the Palestinians, who will be unable to maintain their 40 year youth bulge, instantly solving the ‘demographic crisis’ that, allegedly, makes it necessary for Israel to create a gangster kleptocracy on its eastern border ruled by the Mugabe-esque thugs of the PA, whose leader has, literally, a PhD in Holocaust denial. However, better is not best and I’d far prefer America to follow a frugal and sober foreign policy, something like what John Huntsman is offering, that would rationally weigh up the best way to respond to the vagaries of that farrago of thuggery and crime called international relations, unencumbered either by the childish utopianism of Neo-Conservatism or the self-flagellatory Blame-America-First-ism Ron Paul picked up from Murray Rothbard.

To exclude one candidate, though, for having a simplistic and unrealistic foreign policy and then let six other candidates talk about their simplistic and unrealistic (and eye wateringly expensive) foreign policies, seems to me plain stupid. However, my objection to what the Republican Jewish Coalition did is more fundamental than that. The real problem is that by ruling out Ron Paul on foreign policy grounds alone, the RJC demonstrated it has absolutely no clue whatsoever why millions of people who support Ron Paul do so.

I’m not a doctrinaire libertarian, in fact I’m not any kind of libertarian at all; if you put me in  a room with Ron Paul or one of his diverse supporters, we could easily find a thousand and one things to disagree about. I couldn’t possibly claim to be any sort of representative for Ron Paul’s support base, but I am perhaps in a position to explain why someone like me can line up with people of very different ideological persuasions. The reason is really very simple and just as pertinent to Jews as anyone else, so here goes.

In 2008 the global financial system collapsed. Just think about that for a few seconds. No-one, underwater cave dwellers excepted, could have failed to notice what happened, but far too many people haven’t really processed the events of that fateful year because if you think that, say, extending a payroll tax cut for two months is of any consequence at all whatsoever, you need to pay more attention. But, anyway, back to the story.

Stunned by the speed with which this enormously sophisticated and complicated edifice simply fell apart, governments and central banks embarked on the most ambitious programme of monetary ‘stimulus’ the world has ever seen. First came the bank bailouts and nationalisations, carried out with unseemly panic and haste, hundreds of billions of dollars being poured into broke firms before anyone could work out what was going on. Next, central banks slashed interest rates either to or near zero, finally fulfilling one of the more outlandish suggestions of John Maynard Keynes. Then, deciding that the conventional open market operations weren’t up to the task at hand, central banks embarked upon Quantitative Easing, in which new money was produced not, as usual, for some other macroeconomic goal, but simply to increase the amount of money in circulation.

Economists from both the Monetarist and Keynesian schools of thought were called in to provide theoretical justification for this orgy of intervention. This gave rhetorical cover for politicians and allowed economists to pose as technocratic saviors of the world, but what happened had little to do with any theory (even ones as flawed as Keynesianism and Monetarism). In reality, the people in charge noticed that the house of cards was tumbling down and just threw money at it and when they ran out they printed up some more and threw that too and kept on throwing until it stopped. Of course, implicit in world leaders abandoning ‘free-market principles to save the free-market system’ (as George Bush put it), was the assumption that economic growth could return within, at most, a few years; Ben Bernanke really believed that if the Federal Reserve had done the same in 1929 there would have been no Great Depression.

Well, four years on we know that it didn’t work; the most radical experiment in monetary stimulus in history has achieved nothing more than keeping what was left of the global financial system on life support. And that’s not the half of it because to achieve this modest goal, it wasn’t enough to stop there. QE1 turned into QE2 and, before too long, QE3, rock bottom interest rates – sold as an “emergency” measure – are still with us and, of course, bank bailouts are becoming as regular a feature of political life as public sector union strikes. The last one ($638 billion dollars!) was just last week, announced, as has now become typical, after the fact without even the fig leaf of democratic accountability that the first round of bailouts had. And they keep doing it for one simple reason: because they know that the second they stop, we go straight back to where we left off in September 2008 and will watch helplessly as one bank after another goes down just like Lehmann Brothers. If there’s one thing that has become obvious it is that, when push comes to shove, political elites will go to any length whatsoever to prop up the fetid, rotting system. Far from sobering up as the panic of 2008 recedes in the memory, the voices on both Left and Right arguing for yet more monetary expansion are becoming quite unhinged, while those few powerful figures, notably in the German government, arguing for some (not much) restraint are being stigmatized as psychologically ill.

Let’s turn back the clock a bit further to the time before the crash. No-one back then was advocating part nationalization of the banking industry and printing money with gay abandon. It appeared to be a golden age, with the fall of Soviet Union, the ‘end of History‘ had arrived in which the liberal-democratic welfare state with a free market economy (except for a central bank) had solved the big questions about how to organize society. Politicians argued, of course, about gay marriage, and the war in Iraq, and marginal tax rates for the wealthy, but the more fundamental questions were off the table; the only people who thought there was anything radically wrong with the system were extremist cranks. Centrist politicians like Gordon Brown claimed to have ‘ended boom and bust’, and after decades of trial and error, it seemed that financial wizards like Alan Greenspan had all but abolished the ills of price inflation and recession, ushering in the ‘Great Moderation‘, which promised sustainable prosperity for all.

Dissenting from this consensus was a motley gang of malcontents. On one side were the true believers in a centrally planned economy: socialists, Stalinists, syndicalists, social-nationalists, Maoists, Trotskyites, Trotskyists, national socialists and the rest, blissfully impervious to the results of the 100 year experiment in their daft theories that was the 20th century.

On the other were the Austrian economists. Austrian economics is a rich and fascinating school of sociological analysis, but for the big questions its theses can be summed up quite neatly. Recessions are caused by booms; booms are caused by credit expansion; credit expansion is caused by fractional reserve banking, in which (to put the best possible spin on this fraudulent practice) banks keep a small fraction of the money they need to pay out the current accounts of their customers, with the rest being lent out.

Fractional reserve banking must lead to the misallocation of resources, but its effects are limited in a free banking market where banks have to act very conservatively or go broke. Governments can make it easier for the banks to inflate in and almost always do so, since they are chronically short of cash and need someone to lend it to them as cheaply as possible. The first step (logically speaking, though this does correspond reasonably well to the history of the U.S since the Civil War) is to impose and support a small cartel of banks who can inflate more radically without smaller competitors redeeming their liabilities and sparking bank runs. The next step is to have a central bank manipulating interest rates, acting as a lender of last resort and regulating the system so the bankers can inflate in tandem without any of them going too far, or not far enough. The final piece of the puzzle is to remove all constraints on the central bank’s freedom of action by replacing the currency with a pure fiat system, backed by no commodity whatsoever, not even in theory.

No amount of ‘scientific management’ of the monetary system, though, can abolish the fundamental laws of economic activity any more than the government regulation can alter the law of gravity. Central banks cannot abolish recessions: they can only prolong the boom and the longer the boom, the bigger the bust.

There were precious few people making this argument during the glorious years of triangulation politics. In academia there were the stalwarts of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, written off in the halls of learning as fruitcakes and cranks; on television there was the redoubtable Peter Schiff, written off as a fruitcake and crank and, last but not least, in Congress there was Ron Paul, written off as a fruitcake and crank.

And they were dead right.

That is why I want Ron Paul to be the next President of the United States and not his opponents who, whatever their other ideological or personal charms, thought the global economy in the noughties was fundamentally sound when he was telling anyone who would listen that it was a basket-case on the point of collapse.

However, that’s not all. Those Austrian-school economists who predicted the recession also told us that bailouts, Quantitative Easing and record-low interest rates (plus all the fiscal ‘stimulus’ too) would not bring economic recovery. They also tell us something very frightening: there is no way out of this crisis, except a very deep recession, for only that can liquidate the malinvestments of two decades of boom. It is the recession that should have happened when the dotcom bubble collapsed, added to the recession that should have happened when the housing bubble collapsed, plus the recession needed to repair the damage caused by the last three years of reckless monetary expansion. For every second that those in charge manage to prolong the boom (a boom, you will observe, that is not even bringing about prosperity any more), the recession will be that bit harder. Clearly, a politician who predicted the crash, who predicted that stimulus wouldn’t work and who wants to minimize the damage it is causing should be in charge of setting policy, not shouting from the sidelines.

Yet, we have still not fully described predicament of the western world, for there is one way out other than recession and that is an inflationary collapse of the currency. This is the course that we are currently committed to, for governments and central banks will do whatever it takes to prop the banking system up which, in the end, must mean taking their respective currencies down with it.

The consequences of hyperinflation simply do not bear thinking about. The examples of the 20th century are bad enough, but there is good reason to think a repeat would be even worse. Traditionally, when people abandon a currency spiralling into worthlessness they fall back on a combination of using other currencies and barter. On the first count, the most likely candidates for collapse are the Dollar, the Euro and the Pound and if they fall, taking the many dollar backed currencies with them, large swathes of the globe simply won’t have an alternative currency to hand. On the second count, a barter economy is not simply massively inconvenient, it also means losing the price-system. The price-system the product not of some Einstein but the spontaneous co-operation of billions of individuals, is by far the most sophisticated tool for economic planning known to man,  and the sole reason why capitalism has proved such a phenomenally successful system for creating wealth. Without it the amazingly sophisticated mechanisms human beings have derived for delivering a dizzying array of goods all around the world to where they are wanted will just fall apart. Take away money from a primitive feudal economy and life will go on, take it away from a intricate modern economy which can, for example, supply ample food for cities of tens of millions of people and … kaboom.

Now, possibly, Bernanke and co. will pull back before the brink, they are not mad, though their theories certainly are, and when inflation moves into double digits they could decide the cost of propping up the banking system is too great and pull the plug. If so, we will get the recession the Austrian economists say we need now, but it will be bigger, harder to get out of and will come without the important compensating factor of falling prices that, in the past, made depressions tolerable. That, remember, is the best case scenario, it’s also quite possible that the political pressure will be so great that, at the crunch point, central bankers will go full tilt and push us over the brink.

Avoiding either disaster is, I would have thought, as much in the interests of Jewish Republicans as anyone else. To be blunt, it won’t do much good having America backing Israel to the hilt if America is in precipitate economic collapse. If you want to halt Iran’s regional ambitions, having the western world implode on itself doesn’t seem the best way to go about it. By refusing even to let Ron Paul speak over issues that, frankly, are totally trivial when placed alongside with financial apocalypse staring us right in the face, the Republican Jewish Coalition have shown that they haven’t got a clue and have placed themselves firmly on the wrong side of history.

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  • Margaret

    Speaking as a kindergarten economist who saw the American Banks about to crash before they did and was sneered at by my broker for suggesting same, I put it to you that if the American banks had reverted to a barter system there would have been no crash.
    Hegel’s thesis and antithesis that inspired communism also seems to inspire the world economic cycles. Ironically the soviet communists many decades ago in an effort to prove that capitalism would ultimately fail, assigned a trusted soviet economist whose name has slipped my mind, to study capitalist economics. Discovering worldwide economic waves that extended 50 years, he spent the rest of his life in a soviet siberian gulag for coming up with the uncomfortable truth that after an apparent capitalist collapse the wave would then rise into a boom.
    My training in kindergarten economics I gratefully acknowledge to have come from my businessman father who insisted that only local produce was bought even tho it was more expensive and also that we patronize only his customers. In a small place this worked. It was almost a barter system. It meant that no money left the area. We might not have got any richer but we certainly got no poorer.Plus no one was out of work.
    But in a free economy people don’t think of the general good. They consider price if they are poor and quality if they are rich. For quality or for low price they might need to bring in from elsewhere. So money would leave the area and you’d have to produce to provide the money. What if the local item was too expensive or unattractive all the effort put into its production is wasted and people lose their jobs. Then more money has to be found to pay them benefits. Finally the cost of living so escalates that everything is too expensive to produce and everything has to be bought and brought in. Nobody thinks that buying a made in China label will cost him/her his/her job. Then the crash will come. The expertise that we threw away can’t be retrieved.
    Some people here including myself have starting planting fruit in our gardens. At least if we go to war those people will not completely starve.
    The spiritual/moral dimension has been ignored. Biblical prophecy predicts a declension before the end times which we are certainly in. All the nations of the world have turned on Israel-Biblically predicted. The next to happen is a war with the north. Isn’t it interesting that Putin has said that if anyone touches Iran they Russia will attack that entity.Then China is supposed to march west and cross the Euphrates which will dry up. China has also given support to Iran. BUT GOD IS GOING TO SAVE ISRAEL MIRACULOUSLY.
    So Gabriel don’t fret too much about the monetary system.There are other things round the corner.

  • tom hammons

    one more thing Gabriel. U mentioned the dollar being propped up by the fed. Can u give us some links or articles or your opinion what is going to happen when the “dust” finally settles? again, i am very curious about this. when will this take place?

  • tom hammons

    I just want to say that this was one fine damn piece of writing! If it (the article) had been a woman walking down the street, I would have ran over to ask her out for dinner. It gave me a better understanding of the Federal Reserve. The real question I would like to know, but I don’t think will ever get an answer is: who the hell owns the Fed and just how much did they make off of the world. Clearly there are other central banks around the world doing the exact same thing? Can you help me out GM? Anyone else? I am fascinated by these secretive, huge-ass banks.

    • Gabriel

      On the Fed, I suggest reading ‘The Creature from Jekyll Island” and Rothnbard’s works on the subject. On what will happen when the dust settles, unfortunately Austrian economics does not allow us to make specious pseudo-scientific predictions like the Keynesians, but for educated gueses look at Peter Schiff on Youtube.

  • Haim Shalom

    I am an Israeli who is a keen follower of US politics. I am absolutely convinced that Ron Paul hates Israel, and I think that he probably hates Jews too. But this article is correct in at least one thing – this is about the election for the President of the US. All US citizens (Jews or not) should be voting on the question – what is best for the US? Given that the biggest issue is economics, that should be the way you judge your candidates. If you are an extreme libertarian heartless capitalist who believes the weak should starve, you absolutely should vote for Ron Paul.

    • Gabriel M

      If you are grasping thief who thinks it is morally licit to threaten people at gunpoint, take their money and spent it on your own personal consumption then, of course, you can vote for any of the candidates except Ron Paul.

      It is easy to caricature other positions, what is a bit harder is to actually sit down and try to understand the mechanics of the business cycle or study the nature financially unsustainable and systematically corrupt welfare state. The beneficiaries of the government largesse are not the weak, but, ont he one hand, super rich bankers and, ont he other, the feckless and indolent. Those who lose out are productive citizens, rich and poor alike.

  • Alba

    JUst like there were those who did not want and could not see the evil growing in Germany in the ’20s and ’30s, and were saying that “it’s not so bad” or “they won’t do anything to us” and EVEN, most synagogues, KEPT ON RECITING THE BLESSING FOR THE CHANCELLOR THROUGHOUT THE ’30s, some EVEN AFTER KRISTALNACHT… Today we have the same kind of ignorant ostriches who prefer to ignore this defense of Iran and attack on Israel by Ron Paul ON IRANIAN TV:

    • tom hammons

      I saw your link, and Ron Paul was not attacking Israel. If anything, your video defended Israel by exposing the self-dependency that they have own foreign aid. Natanyhu himself,, said we should stay out of their affairs. Simply put Ron Paul would be the best President for Israel. Seriously, Israel kicked butt in the 6 Day Way! Keep America out, so they can kick butt again.

    • Gabriel

      I agree that, assuming it is feasible, a strike should be made against the Iranian nuclear weapons programme. However, I suggest you take up your anger with the neocons who ran American foreign policy between 2001-8 and chose to divert their attention instead to fruitless utopian wars that have increased Iran’s regional power and aided the spread of Isdlamic extremism.

  • Alter

    Even the underwater cave-dwellers did in fact notice that the monetary system ‘collapsed’…, whatever, as the author said so dramatically.

    However they did also notice two other glaring facts that the author has not (does not, will not, can not, whatever), and remains silent. (Pardon, I did not waste precious time reading the rant word by word. A simple “search” does not raise the relevant words for either.)

    1. Ron Paul repeatedly says that the US govt is responsible for the 9/11 attack. Even if we are benevolent and say that he only means US foreign policy, how would billions to Arabs incite their hate? Remember, he is saying this while campaigning. What does he say behind doors or in a newsletter?

    2. The stimulus money. This whole bail does not, unfortunately, debunk Keynsian economics. Simply because the money did not actually go to anything like a stimulus. Eacept, of course, the massive flow to Govt down to the local level, which then hired multitudes of SEIU members. Payola for voting, nnopw and forever, for the party. The party. So the stimulus went to The Party. Circuitous route.

    Follow the money. Keynes was blessed by The Party. The ensured he not be contradicted.

    • tom hammons

      Show us proof where he repeatedly says the U.S. is responsible for 9/11. There is none. Will not be none. And, there was none. Case closed.

  • the Jewish Press published an article with a title, something like, ‘Ron Paul Calls for the Abolishment of Israel’. i read the article and it did not substantiate the title. it was a maze of hearsay and what the author thought was logical conclusions.

    • belle

      Typical of most articles about Ron Paul when it comes to Israel. They are scared of losing the billions of dollars we give them every year. Ron Paul is right to say that all foreign aid should be discontinued and the money should stay here at home. That’s one of many reasons I support him. Ron Paul 2012.

  • my picture of American involvement with Israel is the picture of Clinton unifying Arafat and Rabin. Israeli’s think they have to do what America says. Ron Paul thinks Israel should be independent and that they have a right to defend themselves.
    it is hard to know whole truth – but it seems to me that America has some dependence on Israel. it should be a two way relationship. when Israel no longer takes handouts, it can get compensation for the help it give America. technological, spying assistance… whatever it is. let the free market rule the relationship.

  • Mike W

    Now that it has come to light Ron Paul said that he would not have sent in troops to help save the Jews of Europe from Hitler do you stand by your endorsement? Do you really want a President with this kind of value system?

    “I asked Congressman Paul: If he were president of the United States during World War II would he have sent American troops to Nazi Germany to save the Jews? And the Congressman answered: No, I wouldn’t.”

    “I wouldn’t risk American lives to do that. If someone wants to do that on their own because they want to do that, well, that’s fine, but I wouldn’t do that,” Shapiro wrote.,7340,L-4167841,00.html

    • Gabriel M

      FDR did not send in troops to save the Jews. In fact the allies specifically and repeatedly chose not to bomb railway lines leading to concentration camps, even though they knew it would save millions of lives. Possibly, this was because Britain, and to a lesser extent America, preferred that they die rather than make trouble by emigrating to Eretz Yisrael afterwards. For much of the war the British continued to shoot down ships of Jews trying to flee there.

      The Americans entered WW2 to resist German and Japanese imperial expansion. I would say that this was the right decision, but it’s simply fiction to say it went to war to save the Jews and use that as an argument against Ron Paul.

      • mdsd

        But Paul says that is why the US went to war. And he repeatedly says and said that he wishes Israel did not exist. He ignores reality such as the 6,000 uranium refinery plants in Iran, and the fact of Jews and Israel having almost nothing to do with WWII. He ignores the professed and confessed killers of 9/11, and prefers to blame the US, which had little to nothing to do with the murderous atrocity we sustained. He is living in cloud cuckooland in all matters foreign, and his intelligent seems dented and in permanent disrepair, unfixable by bailout or logic. he is hopelessly utopian when utopia is in another galaxy from the one Earthlings inhabit.

        He is also 77, and that is far too old for running a state with the complexity and demands of the presidency. He should go and join Obummer and play golf, retiring permanently, where he would stay out of problematic public pronouncements.

        • Robert Smith

          Paul did not suggest that the USA entered WW2 to save Jews. The question was put to him in hypothetical form. It is only in the last decade that the idea of intervening in other countries for humanitarian reasons has become fashionable. That doesn’t make it right.

    • belle

      He said no because it is unconstitutional. Roosevelt did nothing to save Jews in Europe either, but he did sacrifice hundreds of thousands of American lives…and for what? He allowed Stalin free reign over eastern Europe to kill more Jews! If Roosevelt had allowed Jews to emigrate to the US, and Australia had allowed them in, millions would have been saved.

      The Constitution says to “provide for the common defense” not provoke military actions around the world and sacrifice American men and women. The military-industrial complex has caused the deaths of millions – including Jews.

    • tom hammons

      these references that you use link back to blogsites or articles written about blogsites that so happen to be written from the mouth of a fired senior aid, Eric Dondero, that when given his interview to help vindicate Ron Paul from racism and prejudice but just gave incendiary comment after comment. It strikes me odd that a man like Paul would be labeled as bad! When you actually read true journalism or nonpartisan websites that present the facts in a nonbias fashion, Ron Paul is like Thomas Jefferson!!!! To say otherwise, would be just wrong. The man embodies state’s rights like Jefferson. People research, research, research. do not be afraid to question your ethos.

  • salvage

    Ron Paul is a racist crank with a rather limited grasp of reality, his foreign policy is to not to have one, his domestic policy is akin to what they have in Somalia.

    He is an idiot that only bigger idiots would vote for much less listen to.

    • Gabriel M

      Ron Paul’s domestic policy is similar to that which m ade America to the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world.

      • salvage

        You mean the New Deal? The GI Bill? No, I don’t think so.

        • Gabriel

          Neither the New Deal nor the GI bill made America the most powerful and wealthy nation in the world, as a simple look at a timeline would confirm.

      • belle

        You are right but you are spitting in the wind. All too many Jews care about is sending billions of American taxpayer dollars to Israel to wage war and destruction.

  • Jay Freeman

    I agree with Sayid that you should not refer to Arabs as monkeys. Whatever credibility in your arguments you weaken them with such insults. You should know that I speak as a secular Jew who supports Israel in various ways. At the same time I respect moderate Palestinians and understand their anger and frustration. I do agree with many of your economic points but I think Ron Paul might do great damage to our welfare state in the US. Its not a big welfare state compared to Europe but it would be decimated under a Ron Paul presidency.

    • Gabriel M

      Well, I didn’t call Arabs monkeys, I said that some Arab countries, i.e. Iraq, can’t form more civilized political arragements than monkeys. Other Arab countries, like Jordan or certain Gulf States, have quite civilized political arrangements. A quick read of the history of Iraq would amply confirm my point, e.g. the 1953 revolution, or the Farhud. Currently, after 10 years of American money being poured into the country, Iraqi cabinet ministers are operating death squads against each other.

      Nevertheless, I will admit that the language chosen was unfortunate and probably detracts from the general point being made.

      If the moderator could change the sentence to “patently are worlds away even from minimally civilized forms of political arragements.” I would appreciate it.

      • Robert Smith

        If you had insulted Jews as you insulted Arabs by calling them monkeys , the ADL would make sure you never worked again. I’m not criticising you. I’m criticising the ADL.

        • Gabriel

          I didn’t call Arabs monkeys, but, that said, I’m no fan of the ADL.

  • Sayid

    How much money will you get to call the Arabs monkeys who cannot rule themselves, I don’t think you ever read history, but you can’t be blamed as Americans are born stupid, to prove a point that your a coward can you call the Jewish people monkeys I don’t think so as they will end your daily bread, so crucify those with no power base in your part of world.

    The problem with the Internet is, even those who are mentally challenged can post, unfortunately.

    • Jerry Kret

      Well that was an irrelevant comment amounting to “you’re wrong because you are stupid and american”.

      A quick look at the author’s profile reveals that he is british and probably a lot smarter than you based on his attendance at Oxford and Cambridge universities, reading history!

      “The problem with the Internet is, even those who are mentally challenged can post, unfortunately.” Amazing how some people have absolutely no self-awareness.