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I just ran across an article that said hurricane Sandy reminds us how much we rely on governments to protect us. It even used the storm to say arguments criticizing the nanny state are wrong-headed. Geez. One doesn’t know where to start with statements like that. The government doesn’t protect us: we protect us. We establish various public institutions to carry out numerous cooperative activities, just as we form private institutions to carry out other cooperative activities. We don’t say that business corporations protect us, as if they have some sort of life apart from us. Neither should we ever regard government as some kind of abstract, protective entity that exists apart from us.

Yet we seem to have an in-built instinct to regard government as a replacement parent. When we leave home, who will take care of us? When we’re on our own, don’t we need someone to watch over us and help us out when trouble comes? The world is dangerous, and we don’t want to be alone.

If you’ve read The Jeffersonian long enough, you know this way of thinking is dangerous in the extreme. The state as it has developed is not your friend. Of all the threats you will face in your life – from nature, from criminals, from financial uncertainty, from people who act like your friend but turn out to be otherwise – an over-powerful, out of control state is the biggest threat of all. Little Red Riding Hood, acting by herself, could not escape the wolf – no matter how the wolf dressed up.

Consider other stories to see how deeply we crave and appreciate protection, both as children and as adults. Hansel and Gretel is a particularly scary tale, as an evil stepmother conspires to force the poor woodcutter to take his children out into the woods to abandon them there. Only the children’s ingenuity, courage, and perseverance save them: no one else will do it. Children love this story, frightening as it is, because brother and sister defeat the wicked witch on their own. They stick together and find a way out.

Hansel and Gretel had no guardian angel – not even their father would protect them under pressure. Cinderella was equally miserable, except her stepmother kept her close by. As Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters exploited her, abused her and ostracized her, she kept a cheerful outlook and hoped for better times to come. Her fairy godmother, equipped with all kinds of supernatural powers, arranged for her to meet the prince, so that one day she should be queen. Cinderella did have someone to look after her, and her guardian spirit came through.

The more we look for this theme of protection from harm, the more we find it in our stories. Lassie was so popular with children and families because its theme so consistently told this story. The heroic collie would brave anything to protect Timmy. Lassie rescued the vulnerable little boy from fire, flash floods, kidnappers, or whatever else might bring ruin. The dog looked out for Timmy and brought him through every danger.

One of the most compelling stories for young people in American literature, To Kill a Mockingbird, relies on this theme. “Hey Boo,” says Scout as she recognizes Boo Radley standing in the corner. He has just rescued Scout and her brother Jem from Bob Ewell, who aimed to kill them as they walked home from a Halloween party. “Heck, someone’s been after my children,” says Atticus when he calls the sheriff. Shortly afterward, Atticus thanks Boo: “Thank you for my children.” Mr. Radley – the amazing guardian angel, the mysterious neighbor who stayed inside until he heard the children cry for help – responds in silence.

Dumbledore and Harry’s parents through all seven Harry Potter books, Odysseus when he returns home to Penelope in the Odyssey, Moses’ leadership of his people in Exodus: we can find this theme of protection and bravery everywhere. Our favorite stories show the theme’s power to compel our hearts and our attention.

Let’s return to government and the kind of protection it offers. You won’t find stories on that theme in our literature. I recently completed Barbara Tuchman’s A Distant Mirror, a book that – like her others – has a lot of wisdom in it. By her account, the French serfs in the fourteenth century wanted so much to see their king as their protector. They knew the king and his nobles exploited them. Taxes, warfare, robbery, all kinds of injustice flowed from society’s top ranks down upon the poor. The underclass resisted and revolted, several times. Even so, they hoped the king would come through to protect them. The king even dramatized his protective role at public festivals. Despite all contrary evidence, the people perceived the king, ordained by God, as the sovereign power who could redeem them from apparently inescapable misery.

Here’s the last instance I want to mention, a story filled with so much horror for grown-ups they cannot stand to face it. Some months ago I watched a film titled Explosive Evidence, which investigates why two steel framed skyscrapers in the World Trade Center exploded on September 11, 2001, and why one skyscraper imploded. A segment toward the film’s end explores why people resist the conclusion that gravity did not bring these buildings down. “It can’t be true,” they say. One woman, when she realized how the buildings fell, took a long walk outside her office building. She said she could not stop sobbing as she walked block after block.

She became so upset because until then, she had thought of government as her protector. The idea that it could be anything else wrenched her world view, forced her to see that it did not necessarily act as a replacement parent. She felt as Hansel and Gretel felt when they overheard their stepmother persuade their father to take them into the wilderness to let them starve. But for that bit of eavesdropping Hansel would not have brought bread crumbs with him. From beginning to end, Hansel and Gretel managed to save themselves because they learned the truth, about their own home and about the witch’s home. Like the woman in Explosive Evidence, we must recognize the truth about where we live, and use our wits to save ourselves.

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I am tired of Barack Obama asking me if I’m in. I’m tired of Michelle Obama asking me if I’m in. I don’t want to be in.

First of all, when did voting for president become comparable to a poker game? That’s the only circumstance I can think of for the phrase, “Are you in?” It doesn’t apply to swimming, or shopping, or even travelling. It means, “Are you ready to put up some money to play?” It’s nice the Obamas ask you to donate money right after they ask if you’re in.

As I think about it, the phrase asks, directly or indirectly, “Do you want to give me money?” This from a campaign that does not have any good ideas about how to remove us from the crisis we are in. As our foot hovers over the quicksand of revolutionary violence, our leader and his wife ask with smiling internet faces, “Are you in?” Click the Donate icon now to show us you care, because we care about you. Join with others who are happy and don’t know why.

I keep saying in these articles that we don’t have much time. Our time of turmoil has already begun, but big changes usually take generations to play out. Barbara Tuchman, in A Distant Mirror, writes about the Hundred Years War. It actually did last a century. Rome’s empire underwent construction for longer than a day – for many generations, in fact. Neither did it fall in a day, as Gibbon reminds us. Similarly, our great civilization will not fall in one generation, but it will end eventually. Nothing is permanent. We as citizens have to manage this transition the best we can.

So we have to ask, how should we deal with a state that has become sclerotic, self-serving, and corrupt? Think of Jabba the Hutt, who ran a criminal empire through his toadies and assassins, who entertained himself with slave girls and ate anything in sight. When Luke Skywalker returns from his training with Yoda, he confronts the gangster with cool confidence and insight: “This is your last chance, Jabba.” The gangster laughs and sends him through a trap door to fight his pet monster. Not long afterward, Leia strangles him.

The insight we need is that this government is vulnerable. Its parts don’t trust each other. Its parts don’t communicate well with each other, partly because they don’t want to. They don’t want to partly because they don’t trust each other. Its parts engage in conflicts and self-protective activities that weaken the whole. The government – including the parts intended to strong-arm people – is not as strong as it appears to be. Like so many corrupt, vain leaders, it has no moral core, and its weakness becomes apparent only after it disintegrates.

The problem with so many theories of revolutionary change – theories from communist movements in particular – is you must use force to achieve your goals. Look at the long-term success of communist movements and ask yourself if they got it right. The movements failed, either before or after they acquired power. Reasons for failure vary. The key reason movements that use force fail is that they do not have legitimacy. When you acquire power by force, you wield it illegitimately.

Machiavelli wrote at length about how criminals like Stalin dressed up as rulers use power. In Italian politics at the time, you could not turn your back for a minute. Think of how the Corleones in The Godfather lived. Remember the security at the wedding in the opening scene? Machiavelli stated the first law of Italian politics in The Prince: In a world where people are cruel and untrustworthy, you likewise must use cruelty and force to achieve your object. If your object is to hold power until someone stronger and more ruthless knocks you off, it’s not bad advice. If your object is to wield legitimate power, to lead because others want to follow you, Machiavelli’s recommendations about use of cruelty and force could not be worse.

At the moment, our government and its leaders do not understand this point about Machiavelli. They do not grasp that their government is illegitimate, nor do they grasp that people perceive it that way. Not everyone perceives it as illegitimate, but enough do. Others are going to. The government’s pattern of behavior will force them to see it. That’s what happened to me. When it tortured people in the open – not once but all over the world – then defended the practice as legitimate, I asked, “What else is this government doing, in secret?” The answers to that question reveal a state more immoral and self-serving than you might imagine.

We have to prepare for the day when more people see that our government works for itself, not for us. That’s the definition of corruption: taking people’s money and using it to enrich yourself, pretending to serve other people when you actually serve yourself. That’s what people in China mean when they say communist party officials are corrupt. That’s what we mean when we say our government is corrupt.

So many people do understand how corrupt our government has become, but in general our country seems resigned to it. Certain groups, like the Tea Party and Occupy movements, display a sense of urgency about the problem, but given the reception these groups have witnessed, we might conclude that others don’t see what they see. Or we might conclude they see corruption, but don’t feel they can do much about it. That sense of resignation won’t last.

Yesterday on the radio I heard a gentleman named Thomas Cleary speak about Chinese history. Through millennia the cycle has been the same: complacency and corruption follow a period of stability and order. During periods of order, public officials try to honor Confucian principles of virtue and service. Corruption makes the rulers’ authority illegitimate, until stresses from within the kingdom and without bring a period of anarchy, confusion and suffering. At last a new ruler, often a military one, establishes a new dynasty, and the cycle begins again. Cleary noted that this cycle marks almost all societies.

We are a relatively new society, with less history than the Chinese. If Cleary is right, corruption is well advanced in our cycle. We see signs of weakness due to corruption, signs of resistance to authority, confusion about the future, and of course suffering. If you doubt the last point about suffering, think of the millions of unemployed men and women who sit at home today waiting for a phone call that will never come. Think of families who have lost their homes. Think of thousands of servicemen who come home from war to families who don’t know how to receive them or care for them, who after they escape death in battle crave it at home.

So our president asks me if I’m in. No, I’m not in. I’m an active opponent because you and the state you represent don’t deserve my loyalty. You and all the power you have gathered into the executive branch are going to fail. That is, the government you represent won’t persist in its current state. Don’t ask me for my money anymore. Meantime, citizens, let’s think about how we can hasten this period of transition to reestablish legitimate authority. We have better communications now than the Romans did. The pace of societal evolution has picked up.

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People are naturally wondering why Justice Roberts changed his mind as the Court considered the decision it would render on the Affordable Care Act. Some news analysts suggest Roberts wanted to protect the Court’s reputation, and changed his vote with that thought in mind. He remembered how much criticism the Court received after it decided in favor of Bush in Gore v. Bush in 2000. He did not want to make a mistake of similar magnitude again, nearly twelve years later.

That is a bad way to make Supreme Court decisions. When you can’t please everyone – in fact, when you know you will displease a multitude no matter what you do – you can’t fall back on poor reasoning to try to save your reputation or your skin. Caution is a virtue in politics, but it is not always a blessing.

So we have to ask, how can misplaced caution be sound reasoning for a judge? The huge mistake the Court made in 2000 was being too sensitive to the public’s desire to get the whole election process over with. “We want results!” the journalists said, “We can’t let this sad business in Florida drag out.” However messy Florida’s recount, though, the Court had no authority to adjudicate a tie in that state’s presidential vote. Only Florida’s secretary of state, and the rest of the state’s electoral apparatus, held that authority. The Court should not have stepped in, and its reputation suffered because it did.

For the ACA, the Court’s place was to adjudicate the issues brought before it on appeal. We don’t pay Supreme Court justices to consider public opinion, though. We want them to craft opinions based on the Constitution, or on our Constitution and our political traditions if the Constitution alone does not give clear guidance.

Crafting an opinion that pays even a smidgen of attention to public opinion is a blunder one doesn’t expect from a chief justice. Roberts knew he would displease a lot of people no matter what he did. That’s all the more reason he should have based his opinion on sound legal reasoning. Apparently Justice Kennedy tried hard to persuade Roberts not to change his mind – that is, to side with the Court’s conservatives. I wish we knew the reasons Kennedy gave in his arguments.

The Court faced a difficult political problem. First, ACA supporters and opponents are as deeply divided as any two groups can be. Compromise did not seem possible during the legislative struggles of 2009, and it certainly has not become more likely over time. ACA supporters say the Court should not strike down a law this consequential merely because it is imperfect. ACA opponents say the Court should not uphold a law that is so imperfect it is bad law.

Roberts recognized this problem, of course, and his majority opinion reveals his response to it. The two factions – ACA opponents and supporters – each wanted the decision to go their way, and their initial reactions to it would be based on whether their side won or lost. Over the longer run, though, people will judge the Court based on the quality of its reasoning, not whether the referee found for the home team or not. To find for the home team – that is, uphold an existing act – Roberts had to call a penalty a tax. To take a lemon and prescriptively redefine it as a pomegranate in order to get the outcome you want is just slipshod and not worthy of any court, let alone the Supreme Court.

Since we’ve been talking about the politics of the Court’s decision, we should consider its impact on the presidential campaign. Obama has a difficult problem now. Romney and the Republicans want to make a big deal out of the ACA between now and November. They already have. Obama can take the attacks in silence for four months, or offer a vigorous defense of the Act. Given the results of the 2010 congressional elections, he has chosen not to defend the act, except in court, for the last year and a half. If he suffers in silence this summer and fall, he stands a good chance of losing in November. Offering a vigorous defense might appear more risky, but may yield his best chance of a second term.

My own negative judgments of the ACA are well developed in other posts. I imagine I would not be so critical of Roberts or his reasoning if I liked the ACA and wanted to see it preserved. In fact, the Democrats cannot be altogether pleased with the Court’s decision. The majority opinion found that the Constitution’s commerce clause does not give Congress authority to mandate purchase of health insurance. The commerce clause is the justification the Democrats have used to give legitimacy to the law’s the individual mandate.

As the Court rejected the commerce clause rationale, it changed the mandate’s fine for non-compliance from a penalty to a tax. Congress has authority to lay taxes of any kind, so the Court found that the individual mandate and the ACA more generally meet constitutional requirements. Nevertheless, Democrats have never wanted to defend the individual mandate’s fine for non-compliance as a new tax. As one article said today, the Democrats just want to change the subject, even though they won. If they can’t change the subject, or find some way to placate voters’ anger about the ACA, they’ll have to undergo a long and painful presidential campaign.

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One year, five months and three days from today we’ll observe the fiftieth anniversary of Jack Kennedy’s death. He died in a Lincoln Continental on Elm Street in Dallas. The time was 12:30 pm on November 22, 1963. An assassin blew his brains out.

Let’s be accurate: clinically speaking, JFK died in Parkland hospital about half an hour after he was shot. For practical purposes, he died in the car. The body takes a little while to shut down. He arrived at the hospital in time for the doctors at Parkland to pronounce him dead after he arrived.

It’ll be interesting to see what books about the assassination come out during the next year and a half. We have already seen a lot of good research published during the last ten years. We all hope the quality of upcoming books is equally good.

A recent book I’ve been reading on my Kindle is titled The Girl on the Stairs: My Search for A Missing Witness To The Assassination of John F. Kennedy, by Barry Ernest. This book deserves a review of its own, but I want to mention it here to introduce something else I’ve been thinking about.

If you pick up The Girl on the Stairs, you’ll see quickly how much time Ernest spends evaluating the Warren report, both in his research and in his writing. He cares about his subject, and his treatment of the Warren report is as careful as any I’ve seen. He wants to understand why the Warren Commission wrote it the way it did, rather than some other way. The missing witness, Victoria Adams, is central to Ernest’s story, but the Commission’s report dominates his analysis even more.

If you pick up a couple of other books published during the last several years, Brothers by David Talbot and JFK and the Unspeakable by James Douglass, you’ll find references to the Warren report much more sparse. These authors take up the assassination in a different way. They are not as concerned with forensic evidence as is Barry Ernest.

The forensic evidence, so poorly analyzed by the Warren Commission, is an important part of the assassination story, but it isn’t the only part. It’s also not the most important. The most important evidence and the most important analysis, in any criminal case, is to tell a story that establishes motives for the murder. Douglass in particular takes care to do that. Forensic evidence can tell you what happened. It cannot tell you why it happened.

So what have I been thinking about? I’ve been thinking about motives for the 9/11 attacks. As we evaluate the evidence related to that crime, we want to analyze it so as to tell a story about why it happened. We want to know why all the people involved with the crime carried it out. Based on evidentiary analysis we have to date, we don’t know that.

I hope we can take a longer look at this problem in future posts.

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President Obama likes to brag. I guess it’s part of the job. Presidents have to speak up for themselves: no one else will do it. I didn’t watch the State of the Union address, but I hear he’s at it again. He saved the U. S. auto industry by keeping General Motors and Chrysler in business. Let’s take the case of General Motors. He fires the CEO while the company is nominally under stockholders’ control, uses our money to keep its doors open while it files for bankruptcy, and boasts that through his decisive action he saved our country’s automobile industry. I’ll bet Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns,  Countrywide, IndyMac, and hundreds of other banks small enough to fail wish they had received the same favor.

This love from Washington put the General Motors marketing people in a tricky position. After their shotgun bankruptcy, they wanted to let the country know they were back, without actually acknowledging why they were back. In all of the dozens, or perhaps hundreds of GM commercials I’ve seen over the last two years, in all the muscular public relations material they churn out about how Chevy runs deep, and Chevy trucks run even deeper, I don’t remember one ad thanking the taxpayers for their generosity. Well perhaps one of the early ones slipped a bit of gratitude in. If the taxpayers bailed out my business, I don’t suppose I’d publicly thank them, either.

Let’s not make a mistake about what’s going on when the leader of a political party saves one automobile manufacturer while he lets so many other businesses close up for good. You want to send a message to your supporters that you are not going to let them down. The UAW and public employee unions are a reliable source of money and votes. If you were a Democratic politician, would you let the UAW go out of business?

The same goes for the teaching jobs Obama thoughtfully saved with his so-called stimulus funds, also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or even more euphemistically as a jolt to the economy. When you see the Treasury open up its vaults with semi trucks backed up to the doors, think again about what is going on. The Treasury made big payoffs to organized groups who support Democrats. The White House PR operation has relentlessly touted the jobs they’ve saved. You have to make up a number to make it sound good. No government statistician can accurately count created jobs. How could you even distinguish created jobs from uncreated ones? One thing you can do in a crisis is spend lots of money. Whatever else you say about it later, say it worked.

The same goes for all the green initiatives the Democrats funded when they came into office. Solar panels at Solyndra, electric car batteries at Ener1, wind power, high speed rail: one business initiative after another receives millions of dollars. These are business initiatives that would have received private capital long ago if they had good prospects. In fact, they did receive private capital, and they didn’t turn a profit. That’s why they needed an infusion of taxpayer money from the Treasury, right? Public money would yield a different result because it comes in such large quantities. We’ve seen the results: bankruptcies and boondoggles, not business success or new jobs. While the federal government uses all its regulatory muscle to kill nuclear power, it funds new technologies that cannot replace established technologies in the near term.

All of these funding initiatives have something in common. They reward Democrats’ reliable supporters, people who will come to the polls and reelect President Obama when November comes around. We worry lest the money that flows into politicians’ campaign coffers should corrupt public policy, but even worse is the amount of taxpayer money that flows out of the Treasury to reward favored groups. If donors want to buy a lot of television ads to get their favorite politician elected, I’m not sure that’s a form of political speech we want to restrict. If elected politicians want to spend taxpayer money to reward favored groups, we want to extinguish that form of political corruption immediately. We citizens did not pay taxes to see the money used as a reward for favored groups.

If you belong to a union, run a well connected renewable energy firm, or belong to some other favored group, you’ve had it good under the Democrats. If you’re among the millions of people who lost a job during the country’s economic collapse, and you don’t belong to a favored group like the United Auto Workers or the American Federation of Teachers, forget it. The government pays unemployment benefits until everyone forgets about you, while you watch your family’s prospects and spirits shrivel. Meantime your own hopes of ever getting a good job again, of ever buying another home or improving your children’s prospects, dry up as well. Talk about the American Dream: you just saw it shoveled out the door in the form of political corruption.

Does that sound a little too bitter? It’s not bitter enough, by my reckoning. Suppose Obama says in his campaign rhetoric, “Look, here’s how the system works. You turn out the votes, and I pay you off. It doesn’t matter where the dollars come from – you’ll get some.” At least that would be honest. Instead, he pays off his supporters with our tax money and claims he’s creating jobs! In my memory, other politicians who’ve made it to the White House managed to be less blatant about the operation.

The country faced a large-scale collapse when Obama took office, so he thought he could mount a large-scale payoff, give it a marketing name like the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and call that job creation. You just have to make your supporters believe that what you did worked. If you claim you saved or created one million jobs, who’s to challenge you? No one, except the Occupy Wall Street protesters, a disfavored group if ever we saw one. After some equivocation, the mainstream media let Occupy Wall Street wear the establishment’s black stamp of public disapproval. The Tea Partiers know the process.

So now we listen to President Obama tout his party’s success in his third State of the Union address. The Democrats have acted just the same as the Republicans, except they pay off different groups. If after all the corruptions we’ve witnessed, the Democrats still claim they saved the auto industry, and by extension most of the manufacturing sector of the U. S. economy, let them. Let them call it job creation! The millions of families who have lost their jobs and their homes, who have that pressing sense of insistent, low-level anxiety about the future that saps your energy and your hope, know better.

Note though that the payoffs did work, but not as the Democratic tout machine claims they did. The Democrats still enjoy support from public employees’ unions. They still enjoy support from the envrionmental movement. They might even enjoy support from General Motors. To take one instance of prominent political conflict, go to Wisconsin to ask teachers and other public employees which party they favor. Ask how they’ll vote in the governor’s recall election. Those voters know which side their bread is buttered on.

Then ask an unemployed engineer, a new college graduate with loans who can’t find work, or any of the millions of people who are idle now, who want to work but can’t. Ask them who they support. They’ll likely reply that they don’t support anyone who gives away their money. They just want government to stop doing things to impede small businesses that want to grow. Given the choice between fairness or equality or whatever the latest Democratic buzzword might be, and a job, a person will take a job every time. When the White House claims that it wants jobs, too, you have to give it credit for believing its own talking points. Look at its actions, and you can see what it actually wants. It wants reliable support from Democrats in the next election – and it’ll give away your money to get it.

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Ron Paul’s Truthfulness

Well we’re coming into the home stretch now with the Iowa caucuses only a week and a half away. The journalists have Ron Paul in their sights, as he’s looking strong in both Iowa and New Hampshire. Can they blow him out the way they’ve blown out every not-Romney before him? And why don’t they blow out Romney? Do they roll over for him? We know how much the media love smart candidates!

Have you noticed some of the adjectives the reporters have used about Paul lately? The best one I’ve seen is batty. That’s better than nuts. You also see fringe, extreme, and consistent. The last one is not generally meant as a compliment, as the reporters usually suggest that Paul is consistent in his foolishness.

Let’s see how foolish this man is. Here are some of the predictions, observations, prescriptions, and warnings for which Ron Paul is called batty:

  • Paul warned that if the Federal Reserve enjoys unchecked power, what Andrew Jackson called the money power would capture our government in Washington. With the 2008 financial collapse and its aftermath, we see that it has already happened.
  • Paul has said that if we continue to act the way we do overseas, we will make more and more enemies. People who were not our enemies now hate us because we have killed their family members, imprisoned them, tortured them, humiliated them, frightened them, and made war on them until everything that sustains them is destroyed. This observation about the effects of our foreign behavior is so obviously true that the criticism directed at Paul for saying it tells you something. It tells you some people are blind when it comes to discussions about their own country.
  • Paul has criticized the so-called drug war on many counts: it doesn’t work, it’s immoral, it grants government more power than it should have, it doesn’t work, it’s costly, it suppresses both personal freedom and personal responsibility, and in addition to everything else, it doesn’t work. People used to be aghast at this kind of critique. If we don’t fight drugs, then what do we fight? If drugs are permitted, everything is permitted! Interestingly, Paul’s position on drugs has not become a big issue for reporters. Perhaps he is not ahead of his time on this issue any more.
  • Paul predicted that if we let the national government grow in power and authority – with no effective checks on its ability to control money, time, lives, commerce, institutions, tools of surveillance and communication, weapons, and all manner of personal choices – it would destroy our democracy. It has already happened. Long established traditions die slowly – that is true of democratic traditions as well as democracy’s institutions. By now, though, we can say that Paul has been right. He has been so emphatically right on this point that one wonders if even he thinks he could revive our democracy were he to win the presidency.

Let’s end with these four points. Read Andrew Sullivan’s endorsement of Ron Paul. The next time you read a reporter who mocks Paul’s ideas, who says he is dangerous and a harbinger of chaos, ask yourself why a person who has been right so often should be charged with battiness. Remember this paraphrase of Jesus’ famous saying in the New Testament: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd.”

If Paul’s ideas seem odd to you, forget about it. Forget about what other people think. Concentrate on Ron Paul’s truthfulness. If you can’t focus on that, no one will be free: not now, not ever.

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In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks. ~ Spencer Bachus, U. S. House of Representatives

The death-knell of the republic had run as soon as the active power became lodged in the hands of those who sought, not to do justice to all citizens, rich and poor alike, but to stand for one special class and for its interests as opposed to the interests of others. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Today we want to consider the idea of state capture. What does this concept mean, and why should we care about it? State capture occurs when one class or group or interest asserts enough control over the state, that the state acts on behalf of that group rather than for the polity as a whole. Given the mortal threat state capture poses to a democratic republic, we want to recognize it when it occurs, understand its consequences, and know how to respond to it.

When the founders of our republic praised the checks and balances in our Constitution, they pointed not only to the branches of government, but also to constitutional balances that would prevent one faction, among competing interests, from obtaining too much influence. Historically, democratic republics quickly fail if one powerful interest manages to gain control of some significant portion of the state’s organs of power. These organs include the treasury, the army or the military more generally, the judiciary, the executive, or even basic administrative functions. Once the external faction has control, it is hard to dislodge.

Democratic checks on state power quickly disappear after state capture occurs. In fact, state capture indicates that the equipoise essential to pluralist democracy has already disappeared. If checks and balances among groups outside as well as inside the state remain effective, state capture cannot occur. When one group captures the state, or a portion of it, democratic controls and processes that compel a state to act in the interest of all groups – or at least to balance the interests of all groups – suffer a serious setback.

Why should we even think about state capture in the United States? Don’t we have a Constitution where that kind of thing cannot happen? Think again. State capture occurred in the United States in 2008, when large financial firms used taxpayers’ assets to ward off bankruptcy. The firms committed fraud, lost trillions as a result of their activities, and drew on public resources to protect themselves from ruin.

During the collapse of 2008, we heard phrases like moral hazard, too big to fail, and Washington looks out for Wall Street but not for Main Street. If you hear these phrases often enough, they begin to obscure what actually happened. State capture actually happened. A financial panic unfolded, and financial firms responsible for the panic took what they needed from us to protect themselves. The firms that practiced fraud could not have rescued themselves had they not asserted sufficient control over the United States Treasury and the assets in it.

Now we come to the last question: how should democratic citizens respond to state capture? If they respond with confused apathy, the new status quo experiences no challenge. If they respond with conventional regulations and appeals for stricter oversight, they are unlikely ever to redress the balance of power that went awry when the state suffered its initial defeat. To redress the balance of power – to assure restoration of democratic checks on the state and the entities that captured it – citizens must replace the government that allowed itself to be captured in the first place.

That is not easy. No group relinquishes power voluntarily. No group, having captured a key arm of the state’s apparatus, will give up its advantages without resistance. Similarly the state, even if it knows it suffered a defeat, rationalizes the errors that led to its ignominy. It is compromised and cannot self-correct. To return to democratic control, the state must have new leadership. To give the state new leadership, citizens must replace both leaders and the institutions they lead. History does not hold a promising outlook for citizens who try to do less.

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When you think of America’s populist leaders, who comes first to mind? You might think of William Jennings Bryan, Eugene Debs, Huey Long, Martin Luther King, George Wallace, or Ronald Reagan. More recently you might think of Sarah Palin. These leaders vary a great deal in their styles, their origins, and their policy prescriptions. One thing they hold in common is an appeal to people’s resentment of established public authority – the way it ignores their problems, their needs, and their aspirations.

That brings us to Sarah Palin’s reference to real Americans. Remember how quickly race came into the argument after Sarah Palin used that phrase at the Republican convention in 2008? Nothing about those words had a racial overtone: not the context of meaning within her speech, not the setting or the audience for the speech itself, not Sarah Palin’s background or intentions, not anything. Yet the moment she uttered those words, partisan attackers announced: these are code words for white Americans. In Sarah Palin’s world, they said, blacks and other minorities aren’t welcome. She’s speaking to all the racists out there, and this is how racists speak to each other: in code. That’s the conservative agenda – to preserve America for real Americans.

Let’s think of an alternate way to understand these words. Legislators and leaders in Washington fall out of touch with the people they serve. They live in a bubble that shields them from common concerns, such as finding work, paying bills and taxes, raising families in safe communities with good schools, and so on. Real Americans are people who face these problems every day.

Their leaders, well-intentioned or not, seem bent on acting against the interests of people they serve. They don’t understand what real Americans need, because they don’t actually listen and they don’t seem to care about giving people with these sorts of problems a voice. Real Americans are people without a voice. Sarah Palin is popular because she gives them a voice.

Some populist leaders have been racist, just as historically, some populist resentments have derived from racist sentiments. But we’ve had many populist leaders who were not racist, and people experience many resentments disconnected from race. Similarly, racists may or may not follow populist leaders. Populism and racism have no natural affinity, no necessary connection at all.

Martin Luther King was a populist leader whose appeal went to members of all races. John C. Calhoun was a racist leader who appealed to a narrow base of resentful people who could hardly be called populist. Labor unions and other populist workers’ movements welcomed people of all races. The Ku Klux Klan and other segregationist organizations exemplified racist movements that were certainly not populist.

Let Sarah Palin talk about the concerns of people who feel left out. Let’s give everyone a voice. Especially, let’s not tar populist leaders as racists who speak in code. It’s a type of dishonesty we don’t need in this age of propaganda.

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People want to believe in their government. They want to trust it, rely on it, follow its lead, contribute to its health. They take pride in it. After all, they own it.

When your government turns on you, when the institutions you thought worked for you begin to prey on you, your trust erodes. The same thing happens when your government lies to you, justifies or hides its misdeeds with all kinds of dishonesty and propaganda, and engages in criminal behavior. Your first reaction is dismay, then anger, and in the end a conviction that the government is illegitimate.

We came close to a situation like that in the 1960s and 1970s. Ronald Reagan grasped its seriousness. He understood that many looked to him not so much for specific policy changes, but for leadership that would restore the government’s legitimacy. He supplied that leadership, and citizens granted him leeway to accomplish a lot of changes in both foreign and domestic policy. People looked to him for leadership, and he delivered.

Obama faced a similar situation, except that he came into office with a progressive outlook rather than a conservative one. Many voted for him not because they favored his policy prescriptions, but because, after a decade or more of partisan, broken, dishonest government they wanted a leader who would make them proud of their civic institutions again. If President Obama had fulfilled the promise of his campaign to provide that kind of leadership, voters would grant him the freedom he needed to enact at least some of his progressive policy solutions.

To follow this course, Obama needed to continue giving inspirational speeches after he was elected, starting with his inaugural address. Instead he used his inaugural address to deliver a mild scolding, suggesting we all ought to be somewhat displeased with our behavior. More measured words followed: careful self-editing so as not to say the wrong thing before a press that loves to play gotcha. Absent was the free-flowing oratory of the campaign. In place of the old-time religion, we had a stern father who didn’t smile.

A year later, in January of 2010, Obama had a critical decision to make. How would he respond to the election of Scott Brown, Republican from Massachusetts, to the United States Senate? Brown’s election took away the Democrats’ 60-vote super-majority in the upper house. How would Obama handle the health care bill now that the partisan breakdown in the Senate was 59-41? Would he back Nancy Pelosi’s hardball plan to push the bill through, or would he judge that public trust and legitimacy ranked higher than legislative victory for his party’s health care policy?

We know how Obama chose, and we’ve seen citizens’ reaction to his choice since he made it. Dismay and anger have turned into alienation so deep, many hold the government in contempt. That is a long way from the pride people hoped for when President Obama stood up to take his oath on January 20, 2009. People looked to him for leadership, not business as usual. A year later they received another backroom deal, victory for the Democrats and dismay for everyone else.

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Ballot Access News:

Alabama Representative Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) has agreed to introduce a bill to lower the number of signatures needed for minor parties and non-presidential independent candidates. He has been in the legislature since 2003. Thanks to Steven Gordon for this news.

Posted to IPR by Paulie.

Disclosure: I am a member of the executive committee of the Libertarian Party of Alabama. I have also personally gathered tens of thousands of signatures to get the Libertarian Party of Alabama on the ballot in 1998-2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008, as well as recruited and managed other petitioners. As a result of our work in 1998-2000, LPA was able to overcome the highest retention requirements in the nation (20% in a statewide race) and run 58 candidates for office in 2002. I have also personally lobbied legislators for ballot access reform in our state.

In other news discussed at the LPA exec comm meeting yesterday:

Cam Ward’s bill mentioned above also has a possible sponsor in the Senate, Trip Pittman (R-Baldwin County).

In addition to the ballot access bill, Independent Alabama is working on a proportional representation bill with Rep. Demetrius Newton, (D-Jefferson County). Proportional representation would move the state from a winner-take-all system for electoral votes to a proportional allocation of the statewide presidential vote. Currently, the state has nine electoral votes, so any party or independent presidential candidate that gets one ninth of the statewide vote would get a presidential elector. It would also help the Democrats, since Alabama is currently a solidly reliable Republican state in presidential elections – as well as help the entire state of Alabama, since currently, with the state’s electoral votes being a foregone conclusion, national candidates and national media have little incentive to pay attention to Alabama.

Independent Alabama will meet at 6 PM this Tuesday, Jan. 27, at 2330 Highland Ave. in Birmingham (the LPA headquarters and the law firm of Cleveland and Cleveland building). Directions.

Also this Tuesday, at 7:30 pm, there will be a meeting of the UAB (Birmingham) Students for Liberty. Heritage Hall room 124 at UAB. LPA Vice Chair Mike Rster will be attending (and possibly speaking – I’m not sure on the latter). I will try to attend both meetings if possible.

Also on the LPA legislative agenda, No2REAL ID and no to National Animal Identification System (NAIS). It was reported that Liberty House in Madison, Alabama is working on this issue. We are also hoping that Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC), an opponent of “REAL ID,” will address it in his keynote speech to the Alabama Republicans.

The Alabama Homebrewers Association and Free The Hops are working on getting legislation introduced and passed, and have several meetings coming up in different parts of the state.

We also heard from Jesse Adkinson, who is working with Alabamians for Tax Free Food, a new organization that is working to repeal grocery sales taxes in Alabama. Currently, the group only has a web presence on LinkedIn, a social networking site.

Jesse explained that the current bill in the legislature is less than ideal from the group’s perspective, since it offsets cuts in grocery taxes by making federal taxes non-deductible on state income tax forms. The bill has support from the legislature’s Black Caucus. We discussed the possibility of friendly amendments, as well as ideas about working on repealing grocery taxes at the county and city levels, including an effort already being organized in Birmingham. Additionally, we floated the idea of also working to repeal sales taxes on medicine, although no concrete action on that has yet taken place.

Members of the LPA are working with Project HOPE and the Alabama Committee to Abolish the Death Penalty.

We are also helping start a new group, Alabamians for Transparent Government. Among the issues we hope to work on: Putting itemized state and local government expenditures online. An Alabama Right to Know bill is being introduced by State Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur) and Rep. Mike Ball (R-Madison) that will include:

1) Transparency in government spending. A searchable database of all state expenditures; contracts; legislative grants; and state grants.

2) Requiring electronic filing of campaign contributions and expenditures.

3) Disclosure of all public officials or family members of public officials who are employed by the state, or who have a contract with the state, county or a municipality.

Further innovations could include live web casts of the public’s business so that any citizen could view key legislative budget-writing committees at work, key public boards and commissions, perhaps even the governor’s cabinet meetings.

In the past, Alabama Arise and coalitions of the state’s newspapers have worked on pushing for open meetings and enforcement of state sunshine (open meeting) laws.

We heard from several candidates who are interested in getting on the ballot as Libertarian candidates: Scott Glennon in US House District 5, Jason Granholm in US House District 3, Leo McDermott in US House District 1, and our previous write-in Governor candidate, Loretta Nall, who is planning to run in Alabama House District 81. Loretta reports that current incumbent, Democrat Betty Carol Graham, has not had a challenger for her seat in over a decade. More information about these candidates in a separate upcoming post.

Loretta also updated us on legislation. Alabama compassionate care (medical marijuana) legislation will be introduced this term by Jefferson County Democrat Patricia Todd, who Loretta believes will be more proactive in pushing the legislation than the bill’s previous sponsor, Democrat Laura Hall of Madison County.

Our next Compassionate Care meeting will take place on Jan. 31 from 1-3 pm at the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge (same place as last time) located at 4th Ave N and 17 st. This will be our last meeting before the legislative session starts so it is important that y’all be there with as many people as you can round up.

Pass this invite along to everyone you know and I hope to see you on Saturday Jan. 31.

If anyone needs further info I can be reached at 256-625-9599 or lorettanall@gmail.com

Best,
Loretta Nall

The address above is in Birmingham. The meeting will focus on citizen legislative lobbying training.

Among other legislation she has been monitoring, Loretta pointed out HB 59, by Democrat Chris England (District 70 – Tuscaloosa), which would allow for expunging drug arrests from arrestee’s records, a bill to introduce Initiative and Referendum by Republican Mike Ball of Madison County, and a bill to stop police from disarming citizens during emergencies by Democrat Marc Keahey of District 65 (Choctaw, Clarke and Washington counties) as legislation to support.

On the flip side, Loretta recommended that we work to stop Republican Attorney General Troy King‘s crime package, which includes a proposal to mandatorily test all pregnant women in Alabama for illegal drugs, and put them in prison as well as take away their children if they test positive. Additionally, King’s legislative would make parole application more difficult, further worsening the state’s prison overcrowding crisis.

Loretta’s report on King’s package:

All,

Here is the 2009 legislative package of bills that Attorney General Troy King wishes to pass this session. There are some very bad bills here that we need to KILL until they are DEAD! DEAD! DEAD! The ones that need killing the quickest are in bold.

AG King’s 2009 legislative package to fight crime

* Revisions to the Community Notification Act, known as the Adam Walsh Act, sponsored by Representative Ken Guin and Senator Wendell Mitchell.

This bill provides greater protection to the public by providing for more effective monitoring of convicted sex offenders, including their online activities. There would be greater information sharing between all levels of government, so that sex offenders could be more effectively tracked and monitored. The bill adds YMCAs and Boys and Girls Clubs to those facilities of which a sex offender may not live within 2000 feet. It updates Alabama law to cover technological crimes such as video voyeurism. It makes it a crime for someone else to help a sex offender circumvent the notification and registration law. Numerous additional safeguards and restrictions are included. Most of these changes in this proposed legislation are required by federal law, and noncompliance would cost Alabama loss of certain federal funding.

* Online Solicitation Bill, sponsored by Representative Steve McMillan and Senator Myron Penn.

This bill moves the law forward in two important ways. First, it specifies that attempted solicitation of a child victim is a crime, regardless of whether an actual child is involved. Currently, the law is not clear that a person can be charged with soliciting a child by computer if the person being solicited is, in fact, a law enforcement officer, and not a child. Second, it expands the law to make clear that it is a crime to solicit a child not just by computer, but by any online method to ensure that new technologies are covered. The class B felony of soliciting a child by computer could be charged if a person who is at least three years older than his victim believes he or she is soliciting a child less than 16.

* Chemical Endangerment of an Unborn Child Bill, sponsored by Representative Frank McDaniel and Senator Lowell Barron.

Currently, unborn children whose mothers abuse drugs have no protection of the law. This bill redefines the crime of possession of a controlled substance, to include also the presence of a controlled substance in a person’s body. Therefore, pregnant women who test positive for a controlled substance would be subject to a class B felony. The sentencing judge could suspend the sentence and order a drug treatment program upon a first offense.

* Notoriety Bill, sponsored by Representative Cam Ward and Senator Zeb Little.

This bill also has two primary goals: to provide better opportunities and enforcement of restitution for victims of crime, and to prevent criminals, particularly those on death row, from profiting from the notoriety of their crimes. If felons created artwork or any thing of value and attempted to sell it, the profits would be seized to compensate their victims. The bill would establish mandatory minimum compensation for capital murder at $50 thousand, and for a second or more rape conviction at $10 thousand. The Attorney General could ask a court to seize the offender’s assets to satisfy the restitution order, and prison officials could seize any outgoing mail to search for anything of value that could be used to satisfy restitution to victims.

* DUI Revisions, sponsored by Representatives Marc Keahey and Spencer Collier and Senator Rusty Glover.

This toughens penalties for DUI offenders, especially the very worst, and closes a loophole that kept courts from considering DUI convictions that were older than five years when they were sentencing repeat offenders. Penalties would be increased for all offenders, and those who repeatedly drive while drunk–with four or more convictions–would be sentenced to serve at least six months in jail. Penalties would also be enhanced for the “extremely intoxicated” driver, whose blood alcohol content is more than double the legal limit.

* Nolo Contendere Bill, sponsored by Representative Jamie Ison.

This bill helps keep criminals from hiding their out-of-state criminal records from Alabama Courts. Alabama law currently does not recognize “nolo contendere” or no contest pleas made in other states, where the defendant does not actually plead guilty to the crime but accepts a conviction by not contesting the charge. For example, during the 2005 trial of Jeremy Jones for a brutal rape and murder, prosecutors were barred from informing the jury of his evil past, which included three separate nolo contendere pleas to sexual assault. Attorney General King has named this The Lisa Marie Nichols Justice for Victims Act, in honor of the victim that his office convicted Jones for killing. The proposed law treats allows the State to use the nolo contendere plea to impeach the testimony of a witness, to count as an aggravating circumstance in sentencing for a capital murder, and for enhanced penalties under the Habitual Offender Act.

* Families to be Present at Executions, sponsored by Representative Billy Beasley.

Under current law, only two immediate family members of the victim may be present at an execution. This bill would increase that number to eight immediate family members. It would also allow for the presence of the prosecuting district attorney or his or her representative, and one officer from the arresting branch of law enforcement.

* Concurrent/Consecutive Sentencing and Parole Eligibility Reform, sponsored by Representative Cam Ward and Senator Ted Little.

This law would give real meaning to each consecutive sentence, in determining when an inmate becomes eligible for parole consideration. Currently, the law treats consecutive and concurrent sentences the same if the sentence is more than 30 years. Under Attorney General King’s proposal, each sentence would be measured separately and for each sentence, the inmate could not be considered for parole until he or she had served one-third of the sentence or ten years, whichever is shortest.

* Photo Voter ID, sponsored by Representative Greg Canfield and Senator Larry Dixon.

Voter fraud continues to be a serious problem throughout Alabama, and this bill is designed to stop the fraud and corruption that plague Alabama elections. Any person voting in person or by absentee ballot would have to submit valid photo identification. The photo ID would have to be a driver’s license or state ID card from the Department of Public Safety, passports, or other photo ID cards issued by the federal or state governments.

* Felon Voting Bill, sponsored by Representative Randy Wood.

This legislation would resolve any confusion over which convicted felons are ineligible to vote because their crimes may have involved moral turpitude. Attorney General King proposes the simple remedy that all convicted felons lose their civil and political rights-including the right to vote-and sets aside any question of whether the particular felonies involved moral turpitude. Convicted felons would not be able to vote unless and until they successfully applied to have their rights restored by the Board of Pardons and Paroles. This is a proposed amendment to the Constitution of Alabama, and would have to be ratified by the voters of Alabama.

* Reporting of Gunshot Wounds to Law Enforcement, sponsored by Representative Billy Beasley.

Under existing law, except under limited circumstances, health care providers in Alabama may not initiate reports to law enforcement about gunshot wounds and stabbings without written consent of the patient. This bill would mandate reporting by health care providers, and would supersede any privilege under state law such as doctor/patient privilege.

* Cock fighting Legislation, sponsored by Representative Cam Ward.

Cock fighting is one of the most serious forms of animal cruelty and Alabama law in this area is antiquated and inadequate, providing at most a $50 fine. This bill would make it a class C felony to fight cocks, own, train or keep cocks for fighting, keep a cockpit, or promote cock fighting. There would be a stiff fine of up to $1,000 a day for the owner or operator of the cockpit, or, up to three times the gross receipts derived from cock fighting. Property purchased with profits from cock fighting, or used in connection with cock fighting, would be subject to forfeiture. Furthermore, it would be a class A misdemeanor to be knowingly present at a cock fight.

* Bid Law Reform.

This bill would provide more transparency and accountability in governmental transactions. Current law allows certain municipalities to make purchases from elected officials, employees or board member. As a safeguard, this law adds a requirement that two items be filed with the State Ethics Commission: a written finding that conditions of the law had been followed, and a copy of the contract. Any contract that was in violation of the law would be voided, and any public official who knowingly authorized such a contract would be subject to a class C felony. Current law provides certain exemptions to bid law; if a governmental body entered into a contract without submitting it for bid, it would have to clearly state in writing what exemption was used and the report would be open to public inspection. Additional reforms would help to ensure honesty and integrity in Alabama’s public contracts.

* Attempting to Elude Law Enforcement, sponsored by Representative Spencer Collier and Senator Rusty Glover.

This legislation seeks to reduce the number of individuals who flee from law enforcement, particularly by means of a vehicle. Intentional flight from law enforcement would start as a class B misdemeanor, but it would become a class C felony if a motor vehicle is used, and it would be a class B felony if the flight created a risk of injury or death to bystanders. This bill is a high priority for law enforcement and would keep our streets safer for the citizens of Alabama. Attorney General King has named this bill in honor of Montgomery police officer Keith E. Houts who was shot and killed in 2006 while making a traffic stop.

* Civil recovery for Illegal Gambling, sponsored by Representative Randy Wood.

Under existing law, there is no specific provision for a civil cause of action to recover monetary penalties for illegal gambling devices. In the past, owners and operators and others who profit from illegal gambling activities have considered the payment of criminal fines as a cost of doing business. This law provides a strict liability that would make their costs much higher than the potential profits. These new penalties would be used in conjunction with existing criminal and civil causes of action.

Loretta reported that King has stopped his efforts to put teeth into Alabama’s Sex Toy ban since she sent him a blow up pig. Many LPA members believe that now is the time to get on the offensive and work to repeal the sex toy ban completely. Loretta reports that she has more blow up pigs to send to members of the legislature, and other props ready to go.

One additional issue some LPA members are working on is to help stop and repeal mandatory smoking bans on businesses.

In other business, we approved Leo McDermott as interim District Chair for the Mobile area, which previously seceded from the state party several years ago. A concern was raised that Mr. McDermott disagrees with the Libertarian Party’s official non-interventionist foreign policy position. I asked Mr. McDermott if, as the party’s regional representative, he will be able to separate his personal views on foreign policy issues from those of the party. He said he would. Given his answer, I made a motion to accept Mr. McDermott as the interim Mobile District chair, and it passed unanimously.

Ballot access report from Andy Jacobs:

I recently finished a fundraising letter which I e-mailed to a bunch of Libertarians around the country. George Phillies posted this letter on one of his websites and is going to feature it in the next issue of his newsletter.

We have an agreement with a woman named Christy whom we have worked on campaigns with in the past to help us with our fundraising efforts. Christy moved to Tennessee a few months ago and is also planning to come down to Alabama to gather signatures after the fundraising bears more fruit. Christy is in the midst of a move to another apartment and plans to start working on the fundraising after she gets settled. She also recently ordered one of those Magic Jack internet phones which will help with her fundraising efforts.

Here are some pictures of Christy and me at a third party debate that
was held in Nashville, Tennessee last year. Note that neither of us
supported the views of all of the candidates in the debate, but we
did support the concept of having an open debate with candidates that held a variety of views.

http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com/2008/10/pictures-from-third-party-debate/

I recently finished organizing a big fundraising list from which Jake,
Christy, and I will be making calls. We have one or two other
people who may join us in the telephone fundraising effort. We may
also put together a fundraising letter to send to potential donors via
regular mail.

Gaining full party status in Alabama is a major undertaking and will
prbably take a while to complete. Keep in mind that in the last
election cycle it took the Libertarian Party of North Carolina 3 1/2
years to gather the 69,000 (and something) valid signatures for them
to regain ballot status. Alabama requires around 40,000 valid
signatures for full party status, but keep in mind North Carolina has
almost double the population of Alabama and that the Libertarian Party
of North Carolina is bigger than the Libertarian Party of Alabama.

Note that we are also trying to raise enough money to get ballot
access efforts going in some of the other states were we can legally
start ballot access petitioning this early. For far too many years
the Libertarian Party has been doing ballot access in an inefficient
manner and we are trying to change this. The way that I see it the
Libertarian Party can either start now and do things in an efficient
and intelligent manner, or the Libertarian Party can put it off and
pay more later and do things in an inefficient and stupid manner
(which is more likely to end in failure).

If anyone here has not done so yet, I encourage you to make a
donation to get ballot access going in your own state. Here’s the link…

http://www.al.lp.org/pages/contribute

Be sure to type ballot access in the box for how you want your
donation to be spent.

If everyone in the Libertarian Party of Alabama could kick in say
$25-$100 each it would help jumpstart the Alabama LP ballot access
drive as it would show Libertarian Party members outside of Alabama
that Alabama Libertarians are serious about getting back on the
ballot. If anyone out there is going through financial hard times
even kicking in just $10 or $20 would help.

Every member of the Alabama LP should also be given copies of the
ballot access petition for 2010 and 2012. Contact Paulie as he has copies of them. Sign the petitions yourself and at the very least get your family and friends to sign them.

Andy

I outlined the framework of a business plan for LPA ballot access and field organizing:

> It will cost $180,000 over 3.5 years for field organizers and fund raisers, plus about $20,000 in overhead such as maintaining the HQ (over 3.5 years). [Total $200,000]

This is far more than we have raised previously; it will get us statewide ballot access for all races in 2010 and 2012.

In addition to getting about 40,000 valid signatures for each year
(about 60,000 raw) we want to:

  • Database contacts and give out thousands of brochures/fliers/business cards for the party.

  • Get thousands of voters to sign postcards to their state
    legislators to improve our state’s ballot access laws, and for the other legislative issues we are pushing.

  • Start county chapters in all 67 counties, or as many as we can.
  • Start campus groups at every college in the state, or as many as we can.
  • Hand out fully informed jury rights information in every county.
  • Register thousands of voters and spread information about restoring ex-felons voting rights to as many people as possible.
  • Help organize and build single issue lobbying groups in every county on issues such as: compassionate care (medical marijuana), No to REAL ID and National Animal Identification Systems (NAIS), Proportional representation, Government transparency, Repealing the grocery sales tax, Free the Hops, ending the death penalty, Ending mandatory smoking bans for businesses, Ending the ban on sex toys, and other issues we identify in the course of field organizing throughout the state.
  • Identify and recruit teams of candidates to run as a slate of Libertarian candidates for local and state office in each and every county.
  • Market the Libertarian Party door to door to small businesses
    throughout every single county in the state.

Let’s take the lemons that the state legislature has handed us in the form of prohibitive ballot access barriers and turn them into lemonade!

Paulie

This business plan needs a lot of work; if anyone reading has experience with writing business plans and would like to help, please let me know how to get a hold of you in the comments.

We would like to turn it into a presentation-quality business plan folder which we will distribute to attendees at the upcoming LSLA/LNC in Charleston, SC, Feb 27-Mar. 1st.

We would also like to send an email fundraising letter based on this plan to the thousands of opt-in subscribers to LPA chair Steve Gordon‘s company, LibertarianLists. We are also interested in finding out more about other lists we can borrow, rent or purchase to raise money for implementing this plan as it progresses.

During the course of the meeting, Steve had to turn the gavel over to Vice Chair Mike Rster because for a portion of the meeting because he was being interviewed by CNN.

After the meeting ended, Steve was just starting to help me with writing the business plan when he had to leave unexpectedly, due to his grandfather having his feeding tube pulled. Condolences and best wishes to Steve Gordon and his family.

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I’ve returned from the great adventure I call “LP-SPAN” and here are my thoughts on the technical side of the issue. It is my hope that we can take this and build on it to make the next round of LNC insanity even better in terms of the broadcast quality. All suggestions are definitely appreciated. This is most definitely a work in progress.

The equipment:

I was using a Microsoft LifeCam either attached to a clip on the top of my laptop or on its independent pole. The camera allows pan and zoom IF you use the Microsoft software. However, the Justin.tv feed doesn’t allow that. No idea if Ustream does. I also had trouble with lighting issues in the room, especially the projector screen glare.

For future, I’d recommend a real videocam on a tripod, which should be able to create a better view and video quality. Personal experience suggests a bird-watching scope tripod over a camera tripod for lightness and ease of use. Plus mine has super-high elevation so it could pan over the crowd. Background lighting

The laptop was sitting on a tray table I had brought along since the room didn’t have any tables except for catering or the meeting table. It caused shaking of the cam at times when I tweeted, and the hunchover caused havoc on my back over time. I was hurting badly until Rachel gave me a much-needed back rub. “Bitchin’!” J

I’d recommend not having the camera attached to the laptop or at least set up in a way that it doesn’t shake. That and having a good setup so the laptop is the proper height to the user.

I’d also recommend a good omnidirectional microphone set up where everything can be caught well. The mic built into the webcam also caught my comments and occasional whispers, and a lot of extra noise. At SD the board table was in a cube with an open center, and the mic in there would have been best. I didn’t have that and it would have been a big help.

The testing:

I made sure that I understood how it all tied together and I did some test runs at home to make sure. That made a big difference come show time. However, the differences between my den and the meeting room were vast. I’d recommend testing in the meeting room if at all possible, because of the acoustics and lighting.

I tried the Justin.tv feed with the laptop’s webcam, then the external one recording, then with outside people and trying to embed.

Embedding the live feed was also a challenge. I had Todd Barnett on the phone helping to troubleshoot on his end. It helps to have someone on the receiving end to evaluate the reception. Ditto during the meeting. The justin.tv feed had a chat room built into each feed window, and that made getting the feedback easy, which came in handy when the connection got bad. Justin.tv does NOT work with WordPress well, unless Todd and I just missed something, which is certainly possible. I got it to embed at blogger/blogspot just fine. Other embedding notes are appreciated.

We also encountered a horrible screeching when we were testing, until we figured out that it was caused by the laptop speakers output being picked up by the webcam mic and creating a nasty feedback loop. The solution was to mute the speakers. Wear headphones when adjusting the microphone volume.

The Feed:

First, I was on the hotel’s wireless connection, which at times was very slow. The more people that were logged into the network, the slower it got. If you can, use a wired connection to ensure the connection rate stays consistent.

Second, it is extremely important to have someone on the other end provide feedback on the reception. On my end, the display on the popout window was far different than the one in the main window. Here the chat box was invaluable, and I was lucky to have multiple people giving me feedback.

Third, Justin.tv gave me the option to record as we broadcast. Do it. It saves off the pieces online for later download. I’d suggest stopping and restarting the recording at various spots to break it up into manageable segments instead of one long one. I always made sure to check the bandwidth between recordings because of the wireless, but I don’t think that may be necessary on a wired connection.

The twitter:

It’s a great tool to do this live. Yes, the 140 character limit can be an issue at times. I’d recommend two tweets, both in the gallery rather than on the board, who should focus on what is going on anyway. Plus, it removes any issue about “decorum” or “executive session”, but the tweets should be as neutral as possible. The advantage of two is that one can pick up what the other missed, which is an area I had trouble with at times. I’d also suggest that if you can’t get on a wired connection, then see if the tweet can be done on a Blackberry. The wireless connection problems that plagued the feed connection also slowed down the tweets. It may be advisable to have whomever is tweeting be different from the camera operations.

All in all, my rig was a little crude, but it was something. I don’t see this as too difficult, just taking a little getting used to. If you test beforehand and practice, it goes better.

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Maybe the LP will nominate this guy next time around.  Seems like a modest improvement to me.

Old, Grizzled Third-Party Candidate May Steal Support From McCain

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Earlier today, Paulie Cannoli wrote to suggest the rather clever idea that the membership figures were probably stimulated when many states adopted a bundled marketing concept, where joining the state party got you national membership at the same time. Apparently, that deal has gone away, and most states are now collecting membership fees independent of the national party.

Another thought that he mentioned was that the Harry Browne campaign may have been counting as members everyone who contributed at least $25 to the campaign, during those tawdry days of corruption when the national LP headquarters staff was nearly identical in material respects to the Harry Browne campaign staff. See my letters and L. Neil Smith’s editorials on this situation during the relevant period (1996-2001 or so) on ncc-1776.org for details.

Here is a graph derived from figures found on groups.yahoo.com/group/lpradicals in their files area. No doubt the party loyalists among the so-called LP Radicals are going to remove those files in order to prevent any further conversation about the figures. But, we have this lovely graph.

Whether I get it to display, I dunno.

Now, Microsoft Excel is not very good at graphing. The data peaks at 33,017 or so in December 1999 and the data set ends at November 2007 with a value of 14,017. That’s where I get my calculations found at http://bostontea.us/node/304 – in case the graphic doesn’t display here.

Since the end of April, when I joined as member 30 on the current site (the 2006 membership database having been lost due to a server problem), the Boston Tea Party has grown to encompass 417 people. During the last few months, 533 people have joined our group on Facebook, which seems to be a major source of new members, alongside the recent addition of Google ads. Many of those Facebook friends were invited by me with the note that “The Boston Tea Party is the fastest growing libertarian party in America. We are adding state affiliates and endorsing candidates from other parties who agree with our smaller government platform.”

But, you know what? It looks like the Boston Tea Party may be the only growing libertarian party in America. The LP is shrinking.

In the last few months, we’ve endorsed or nominated about 30 candidates, most of whom are either members of the LP and running as BTP candidates, or members of the LP running as LP candidates. Some, such as founder Tom Knapp, are doing both – he’s the BTP vice presidential nominee this year, and he’s running for Congress in Missouri as an LP candidate.

We’ve also had quite a lot of enthusiasm for running favorite son vice presidential candidates in states such as Colorado (Dan Kilo), Florida (John Wayne Smith), Arizona where our write-in registration lists Barry Hess, and Utah where our write-in registration lists Marilyn Chambers, the actress who was Charles Jay’s running mate in 2004 on the Personal Choice Party ticket. I should note that our Voter Guide suggests people in states that forbid write-in voting for president choose to write in Marilyn for vice if they seek to protest this limitation on their political sovereignty.

During this same time, we have added twelve state affiliates. In two of those states, Florida and Colorado, we’re on the ballot. In Florida, we are officially recognised as a party, so people living there may choose to register as Boston Tea Party voters. Finally, thanks to Paulie Cannoli, we were able to collect signatures to put our candidates on the ballot in Tennessee, making three states for our first presidential candidate. (John Hospers, the LP’s first presidential candidate in 1972, was on the ballot in two states. We don’t expect our vice presidential nominee to earn any electoral votes, though.) I’ve also been approached privately about several LP state affiliates which would like to consider affiliating with the Boston Tea Party, as well. It has been a very exciting time, and the growth in our party has been fantastic.

My friend Tom Knapp asked me to help him earlier this year, and I admit that it took me some time to find my feet. No doubt, I was helped enormously by a number of events in the LP, such as the choice of Bob Barr as presidential nominee by a narrow majority on the last ballot in Denver. A number of missteps by Barr and his team, as well as the raging controversy over whether Angela Keaton should be allowed to communicate LNC activities to her constituents, have added vigor to our party.

Most of the recognition and credit for the growing membership of the Boston Tea Party goes to the members who have chosen to join us. Membership is free, so it is never an economic choice. It is a matter of choosing to agree with our platform. Or not. And a great many have chosen to agree. I thank them.

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I’ve previously listed the LP candidates here, here, here and here. Now, George Donnelly has turned this list into its own website with graphics and continuous updating. George explains:

An Effort to List all LP Candidates

We Libertarians need to know how many candidates we’re fielding for office. Which states are fielding full slates? no slates? Who are the candidates, what do they look like, what is their history, what are their positions and motivations?

This is all very basic but, before Libertarian Party Candidates (LPC), you could not find all this information in one place.

It’s important to see how well (or poorly) we Libertarians are doing at challenging the Republicrat duopoly at the ballot box. Hopefully LPC will serve as a measuring stick and as an incentive to run more and better candidates in 2010, 2012 and beyond.

Background

When Paulie pointed out in July of 2008 that LP.org doesn’t list all the Libertarian Party candidates running for office, it piqued my interest. How can we expect people to support and vote for Libertarian candidates if they don’t even know who they are – or even that they exist?

So, after chatting with Paulie, I decided that Libertarians might like a website where they can find all LP candidates in one convenient place.

Thanks to Paulie, the state parties and others that have collected the raw information presented here. All I did was design the site and enter the data.

Future Years

The site was built in a hurry during my spare time in the last couple weeks of July 2008, but I plan to significantly improve it for 2010 and beyond. Your sugestions and comments will help make that a reality.

Please Share your Feedback

Please feel free to contact me, George Donnelly, at me@georgedonnelly.com with any suggestions, ideas, complaints or whatever. I’m open to developing the project in new directions. I’m also interested in other strategies to advance the cause of liberty.

According to the site, the LP is running

* 15 for US Senate
* 109 for US House
* 5 for State Governor
* 4 for State Lt. Governor
* 1 for State Treasurer
* 3 for State Attorney General
* 2 for State Auditor
* 22 for Other State Offices
* 42 for State Senates
* 216 for State Houses
* 3 for Local Executives
* 26 for Local Legislatures
* 6 for Judge
* 12 for Sherriff or Constable
* 78 for Other Local Offices
* 546 Total LP candidates

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Rasmussen
reports that

Libertarian voters make up 4% of the nation’s likely voters and they favor Barack Obama over John McCain by a 53% to 38% margin. Three percent (3%) would vote for some other candidate and 5% are not sure. These results, from an analysis of 15,000 Likely Voter interviews conducted by Rasmussen Reports, challenges the conventional wisdom which assumes that strong support for a Libertarian candidate would hurt John McCain.

In June, Rasmussen Reports asked 15,000 Likely Voters if they were fiscally conservative, moderate, or liberal and if they were socially conservative, moderate, or liberal. This created a total of 16 possible combinations (not sure was a fourth option for both questions). However, 87% of voters fit into one of seven combinations. Libertarians, defined as fiscally conservative and socially liberal, are the smallest of these seven combinations.

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From Liv Films, an editorial about gay marriage, fat marriage, eating lobsters, and more. Mona of Liv Films was the “Ron Paul Girl,” but most of their recent work has been non-political. LMFAO (laughing my fat ass off)….

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originally posted by GE at IPR. Headline by Fred Church in the comments.

In response to House GOP leader John Boehner’s comments to Reason‘s Dave Weigel — that conservatives considering a vote for Bob Barr “might as well vote for Barack Obama” — the LP has issued a press release with harsh words for the GOP and its leadership.

Libertarian Party spokesperson Andrew Davis said that Boehner’s comments “reflect the same fallacy of thought that has put America in its current situation, with neither Republicans or Democrats offering the solutions voters want to hear.”

Davis also said Boehner’s comments were “a symptom of the same delusion that cost Republicans control in 2006.”

Read the entire release here.

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Press release posted on the LP Radicals yahoo group. Starchild has had various offices in the San Francisco and California LP, and is one of the spokespeople for this initiative.

The San Francisco Department of Elections announced today that the measure prohibiting city officials from spending money arresting and prosecuting people for prostitution, and mandating equal legal protection for sex workers, has qualified for the November ballot. Of 500 signatures randomly sampled and checked by department personnel, 80 percent were found to be valid. “This is a happy day for San Franciscans who want government to focus on fighting real crimes like homicides and robberies, and are tired of seeing resources wasted in a futile effort to police consensual sex between adults,” said Starchild, a sex worker activist and spokesperson for the campaign. “We’ve cleared the first hurdle.” By the Elections Department’s tally, supporters had turned in 12,745 signatures of registered San Francisco voters on July 7.

The campaign to decriminalize prostitution will hold a kickoff rally and press conference to formally announce the results on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. in front of the Polk Street entrance of City Hall, with
speakers to likely include Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who was a signer of the petition to put the measure on the ballot along with two of his board colleagues. “It is way past time that the
recommendations of the Board of Supervisors 1996 Prostitution Task Force were implemented,” said the measure’s proponent, Maxine Doogan. “Criminalizing sex workers has been putting workers at risk of violence and discrimination for far too long.”

The prostitution reform measure joins two other voter-submitted measures on the local Nov. 4 ballot, along with eight measures put on the ballot by the mayor or members of the Board of Supervisors, with many others expected to be added in the next several weeks.

Starchild – (415) 621-7932 / (415) 368-8657 / RealReform@…
Maxine Doogan – (415) 265-3302 / MistressMax@…

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Back in November, I made the following comments at
Loretta Nall Sends Troy King Appropriate Sex Toy
:

But reasonable people would not include the Alabama legislature, which in is great wisdom passed a law banning dildos, vibrators, and other weapons of mass stimulation.

Not content with the law as it stands, Alabama Attorney General Troy King wants the legislature to make the law even more draconian.

I remember Troy from college. He was always a little weird. He used to write frequent letters to the CW, which described in detail his disgust with homosexuals hooking up in public toilets (well before Larry Craig), a subject he seemed to be intimately familiar with, and exhorted readers to go eat at Cracker Barrel, which at the time was under fire for a policy of discriminating against having gay employees. Troy always seemed just a little too obsessed with homosexual perversion.

Alert readers may remember that Loretta Nall sent Troy King a blow up pig:

My suspicion now seems likely to have been confirmed.

Loretta explains

This is not about being gay. This is about being a hypocrite…of the highest order

There is an official denial of the rumor about Troy King now….so I can say what the rumor is.

According to rumors flying around for the last week Troy King, our
rabidly homophobic
, anti-sex toy, Sunday School teaching, pro-execution Republican Attorney General is GAY! And I don’t mean that as in happy either. I’d bet he is anything but happy right now. In fact, according to two sources he is about to resign. [..]

I have been sitting on this story for about a week. Truth is I am SORE from having to sit on it so long….but not as sore as Troy King is.

Loretta elaborates:

I have some friends in pretty high places in Alabama politics so I called one of them up with the juicy details. They told me they heard a rumor about his sexual orientation some six months ago from a former reporter with a large, credible newspaper in Alabama. I also know that reporter and knew them to be very credible. The rumor at the time was that Troy’s mystery man was his old college roommate who he gave a position to when he took over the AG office in 2004. Supposedly when Troy was out of town so was lover boy.

The story then became that the mystery man was a young man who had just graduated from Troy University and was the Homecoming King(no pun intended) (God that gets confusing…Troy King with the homecoming king who graduated from Troy) and that was who the wife walked in on. Then a few weeks later Troy and his boy toy from Troy were spotted at the YMCA (not kidding) engaging in….ummmm….inappropriate activities. Yeah…at the YMCA…made famous by the Village People. Apparently Troy has no inkling of what it means to be ‘discreet’.

I’m betting they are both true. If Troy King can be a closet gay and Alabama Attorney General at the same time then there exists in this universe the infinite possibility for him to be a promiscuous, closet gay, Alabama Attorney General. But apparently closet and promiscuous don’t go so well together. But, hell, no one is claiming that he’s smart are they?

As far as the significance of this story, Loretta explains:

There are so many things that make this a delicious story. Gay Sex, high ranking elected officials who are rabidly anti-gay in public but turn out to be gay in private, they get caught at the YMCA (of all places), the whole sex toy incident, the ‘below the belt’ legislation that Troy has made a focal point during his time in office, his desire to be the guy who injects death row inmates with deadly chemicals. I bet this is why he objects to DNA testing, ya know? Wonder where all they would find his DNA? It’s really not much different than what Bill Clinton did with Monica Lewenski…except Troy is a Republican and his mystery partner is GAY!! Lordy, does it get any better than this?

Head On Radio Network is one of several sites making video and musical parodies which take advantage of Troy King’s embarrassment.

Another one is found at the myspace page for Mock 5

Alabama Queen

Troy King has refused to comment on the allegations, claiming that his kids would be subject to teasing.

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Nothing new since the last time I posted this; just keeping up my commitment to keep it on the front page since I will be posting more articles today. I still haven’t been able to figure out how to make it work properly. Help would be appreciated.


Well, I figured out how to put it in the sidebar – but not how to put my site code. Help on that would be appreciated.

Blogosphere of the Libertarian Leftgm
Ring Owner: Thomas Knapp Site: Blogosphere of the Libertarian Left
Free Site Ring from Bravenet Free Site Ring from Bravenet Free Site Ring from Bravenet Free Site Ring from Bravenet Free Site Ring from Bravenet
Get Your Free Web Ring
by Bravenet.com

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Candidate Endorsement: Chris Bennett for Vice President

Chris Bennett[NOTE: Originally posted on Last Free Voice]

As you are hopefully all by now aware, longtime LFV contributor Chris Bennett is seeking the LP’s Vice Presidential nomination. While he would have my support simply for being an LFV contributor and a great guy, there is so much more to his candidacy that I have decided to formally endorse his bid for the LP Vice Presidential nomination.

Chris is 35 years old (will be 36 on August 30th) and lives in Springfield, Illinois. He graduated from Heritage High School in Littleton, Colorado. As an interesting aside, Chris was classmates with Matt Stone, co-creator of “South Park”.

Chris has been married to Evonne Bennett for eight years, and they have two children, Brandon (age 7) and Charity (age 9). He will graduate in May from the University of Illinois at Springfield, with a degree in Political Studies, and a minor in Economics. As such, there should be no question that he has the education to back up his candidacy, especially when compared with other LP candidates (including many of those seeking the LP’s Presidential nomination).

Chris also has the actual experience to back him up. As a libertarian activist for the last 16 years, he has volunteered on four presidential campaigns, three of them Libertarians. He was Scheduling Coordinator for the late Aaron Russo during his 2004 presidential campaign, and was also heavily involved in the Marrou and Badnarik presidential campaigns. He is currently the Legislative Chair for the Libertarian Party of Illinois, where he has fought for better ballot access for third parties in one of the most difficult ballot access states in the country.

Chris announced his candidacy right here on Last Free Voice last year, and his platform is as follows:

I will not make promises I can not keep. I do not have 200,000 dollars in future contributions and I am not endorsed by a famous dead person. However there are some promises I will keep:

I am strongly against the invasion and the “police action” in Iraq and will help push for an anti-war resolution at the Denver Convention.

I am against a fair tax and I will continue to fight to decrease the tax burden for all Americans.

I will continue to fight to restore our civil liberties and constitutional rights and fight to eliminate the Patriot Act, the Real ID Act, the Military Commissions Act and the North American Union.

As an African-American, I will use my candidacy to recruit more minorities and women into the libertarian movement.

As a soon-to-be college graduate, I will continue to convince younger voters and non-voters that the Libertarian Party is the future not the two “boot on your neck” parties and use my candidacy to re-energize libertarian college campus and local organizations across the country.

If I am nominated, I will help/assist state parties on getting our presidential ticket on their respective state ballots.

If I am nominated, I will assist serious Libertarian candidates running for office in all facets of their campaign across the country.

The days of a dormant Libertarian Party VP candidate are over. Our VP candidate should be as active as our Presidential candidate and I will proudly work with whoever you choose as our Presidential candidate in order to spread our message of liberty and freedom to the American people.

Chris has been working hard to spread the word about his candidacy, and in fact he is one of the few Libertarian candidates to get attention from the mainstream press. Even better, he received FRONT PAGE attention in a major newspaper, the Springfield State Journal-Register.

By BERNARD SCHOENBURG
POLITICAL WRITER

Published Monday, October 15, 2007

At 6-foot-9, Chris Bennett is hard to miss. And his political aspirations match his height.

Bennett, 35, a senior at the University of Illinois at Springfield, is hoping to become the vice presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party.

“The days of a dormant Libertarian Party VP candidate are over,” said Bennett in a news release announcing his quest last week. “Our VP candidate should be as active as our presidential candidate and I will proudly work with whoever you choose as our presidential candidate in order to spread our message of liberty and freedom to the American people.”

Bennett was soft-spoken as he explained in an interview how he realized, after working on Bill Clinton’s primary campaign in 1992, that he didn’t really believe in Clinton’s platform.

“I just didn’t like how he wanted more government in more stuff,” Bennett said. “I didn’t like government having more control over the health-care situation, as Hillary tried to do and she’s proposing to do now.”

So, Bennett said, “I went soul searching.”

“The Republicans didn’t feel right,” he said. “They never really do reach out to minorities or a lot of women. And the Democrats, it just seems like they were taking the black vote for granted. So I decided ‘I’m going to search for another party.’”

Bennett had seen a Libertarian Party convention on C-SPAN. The convention included an African-American candidate for the presidential nomination, Richard Boddie.

“He was saying stuff that I really agreed with,” said Bennett, who is black.

Bennett now has been a Libertarian activist for more than 15 years, including working as scheduling coordinator during the late Aaron Russo’s 2004 attempt to be the Libertarian nominee for president.

“For the longest time, I used to carry a Constitution in my back pocket,” Bennett said, “so if anybody wanted to get in a philosophical, constitutional argument, I could whip out my Constitution.”

Bennett doesn’t think the country’s leaders are adhering to the Constitution, including going to war in Iraq without a formal declaration of war. Among his platform planks are “restore our civil liberties and constitutional rights,” including elimination of the Patriot Act and a proposed federal “Real ID” identification card. He said both invade people’s privacy.

He’d like to see lower taxes, with eventual elimination of the Internal Revenue Service.

Bennett frequently posts on Web sites, including one called

lastfreevoice.com, often in strong language.

“Jesse Jackson has taken up the anti-gun issue only because he failed as a ‘civil rights’ leader and pushes his new agenda to re-invent himself,” Bennett claims in one entry. “Just remember Hitler forced his people to give up their guns and look what happened; millions died in concentration camps. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; I’ll defend those values with my gun to protect my right to bear arms.”

Bennett said he actually doesn’t own a gun, but believes in the right to own one.

He’s also taken off on television preachers who get rich through their appeals.

“TV evangelists are the scum of the Christian community,” he said, writing about recent allegations of misspending by Richard Roberts, son of Oral Roberts. “Isn’t it immoral to steal from your contributors for your own lavish lifestyles …? Who do they think they are — the GOVERNMENT?”

And in an essay chastising Democrats for not doing more to get U.S. troops out of Iraq, he refers to the president as “Fuhrer Bush.”

Bennett is pro-life on abortion, which goes against the Libertarian platform. But he thinks other Libertarians may be coming around. He also thinks steps should be taken to legalize drugs.

A native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Bennett moved to Littleton, Colo., at age 9. He’s been married to his wife, Evonne, for 71/2 years, and they have two children. He moved to Springfield in 2005 to attend UIS.

While he said rural or suburban Libertarians might not be keyed into the issue of race relations, those from urban areas are, and he thinks the party is good for African-Americans.

In addition to ending discriminatory drug laws, which he blames for too many blacks being in prison, the Libertarians’ anti-tax sentiment would also help, Bennett said.

“If we lower taxes, people would be more able to get the house that they want or be able to contribute to their church or their social organization a little bit more,” he said. People could also “save for a rainy day.”

“I know a lot of people who would like to start their own IRA account, but they can’t because they’re taxed so much,” Bennett said.

Clearly, Chris interacts well with the media, and is able to get across his point intelligently, but also in a way that the average person can easily understand.

For the above reasons, I endorse Chris Bennett, without reservation, for the Libertarian Party’s Vice Presidential candidacy.

This brings me to another point. Chris is in desperate need of donations, to help him get to the Libertarian Party Convention in Denver. As a family man working his way through college, with a wife and two children, he is far from wealthy. Not only will he need the funds for travel and hotel, plus incidentals such as food and beverage, he will also need the funds to print brochures, to hand out to the delegates in order to get the votes he needs.

We all give money to other candidates, whether Ron Paul or Steve Kubby or George Phillies, or someone else. We need to start giving money for Chris’s campaign, because unless he can afford to get to Denver, he will be unable to continue his campaign. It would be a travesty if a qualified candidate such as Chris was not seriously considered for the LP’s Vice Presidential nomination, solely because he lacks the funds to attend the convention. We can do much better than that, especially with a candidate who has proven his worth. If we all pitch in, we can get Chris to Denver.

You can make donations to Chris’s campaign by clicking here, or you can click directly on the “donate” link on his website, which will take you to the same place. You can donate by credit card, debit card, or by setting up other payment arrangements via PayPal.

While I normally would never ask anyone to donate to a specific campaign, I’m making an exception in this case. Chris is “one of us”, a valuable and respected member of the blogosphere, a valuable and respected contributor to Last Free Voice, and a valuable and respected member of the libertarian movement, who has given freely not only of his time and expertise on other campaigns, but also has managed to engage in hands-on activism while in college and trying to raise a family.

Chris is not just another libertarian on the internet, waxing philosophical about libertarianism, who suddenly decides he should be nominated to represent the LP in a lofty position; nor is is a Johnny-Come-Lately to the LP who suddenly decided he should be nominated for for the Vice Presidency; he has actually made many years of sacrifices which benefit us all, and he has the experience and education to back up his campaign for the Vice Presidency.

Unlike many candidates, Chris is not looking to raise millions. He has set a goal of $3000 to attend the LP Convention, and since I used to live in Denver, I can assure you that it’s a very reasonable goal, especially since it will also cover the costs of his campaign brochures.

I have made a commitment to donate $100 to Chris’s campaign, to help him get to Denver. If only 29 more people match that commitment (and I know there are many others who can afford to do so), Chris will have met his goal. However, even if you can only spare $10, or $20, or $50 – or if you can give the legal maximum of $2300 per person, or $4600 per married couple – you can rest easy with that donation, knowing Chris is a tried and proven libertarian, and a candidate who has actually earned that donation through his many years of activism on behalf of libertarians everywhere.

Please, help spread the word. Let’s raise the funds necessary to get Chris to Denver!

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Tim CouchI’m not exactly sure why someone who sits on a state legislature (where he represents about two and a half obscure rural counties out of 120 counties in the state) thinks that he can legislate what everyone in the world does, but

Kentucky Representative Tim Couch filed a bill this week to make anonymous posting online illegal.

The bill would require anyone who contributes to a website to register their real name, address and e-mail address with that site.

Their full name would be used anytime a comment is posted. If the bill becomes law, the website operator would have to pay if someone was allowed to post anonymously on their site. The fine would be five-hundred dollars for a first offense and one-thousand dollars for each offense after that.

Representative Couch says he filed the bill in hopes of cutting down on online bullying. He says that has especially been a problem in his Eastern Kentucky district.

Ah, eastern Kentucky, home of one of this blog’s all-time favorite criminals, the Duct Tape Bandit. LOL. That probably answers my original question in this thread.

Aside from the logistics, in that it is absolutely impossible for a state legislature to legislate the behavior of everyone on the internet – no matter how hard they may try – is this a good idea?

Even though I covered the Megan Meier controversy to a great degree, I think it is a horrible idea, and I’ll tell you why.

What happened to Megan Meier was an anomaly. That poor young girl was mentally ill, as evidenced by the fact that she was prescribed not just anti-depressants, but also Geodon, an anti-psychotic. Her adult neighbor Lori Drew was well aware of this, so what she did to that child is absolutely unconscionable, whether one believes she is responsible for Megan’s death or not.

While I realize there are people who have mental illnesses on the internet – and sometimes I wonder if the majority of people posting on the internet have a mental illness – the internet is not a nanny, nor should anyone expect it to be. It is also not a place for children, or the otherwise weak at heart. It is definitely rated “R”, so no one who couldn’t get into an R-rated movie shouldn’t be here in the first place, unless they have parental guidance.

Some other parts of the internet are rated NC-17, some are rated X. With some websites, you don’t even realize you are going to an X-rated site until you are already there (another problem, but responsible internet users simply don’t click on unknown links in the first place).

I can write an article as ElfNinosGreatAuntTilley, and as long as I don’t harm anyone in the process, it is not a crime for me to do that. The right to anonymity is a basic right. It is a right which I exercise everytime I log onto this blog. It is a right which I exercise in my personal life on a fairly regular basis. The fact of the matter is that no one is entitled to know my name, in real life or on the internet. I’m not doing anything wrong, and in fact I do a lot to help others in life, but I like my privacy.

Why do I think it is important for me to post under a pseudonym? There are several reasons, all of which I feel are perfectly valid.

I used to regularly bust scammers on Quatloos, cooperating with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to get these slimeballs behind bars where they belong, and in that capacity I angered some extremely dangerous people. Once I even angered a man who was a dirty ex-NYPD cop, and a former enforcer with the Colombo crime family (yes, the mafia). He had stolen millions from people in a scam wherein he pretended to be a loan company for people who can’t get conventional loans, and he would charge them a large up-front fee. He did his best to ascertain my real identity, and made multiple threats of physical violence against me, including both murder and rape.

In a situation like that, I have two choices. I can either bust the guy under a pseudonym, and be able to sleep at night, or I can do so under my real name, and end up moving every few months. I choose to stay put.

As most of you are aware, I am a professional writer, and I write about true crime as well as criminology issues. However, I didn’t sign up for the publicity which comes with that. I have a unique name, and I don’t want people coming onto this blog to ask me the same questions I’ve been asked (and answered) a million times, and harassing my friends who visit this blog; yet I have every reason to believe they will do that, because that’s what they did when I had a professional website. I just want to be me when I’m here, and I want others to feel comfortable posting here as well.

Tim Couch may not think those are valid reasons for me to not use my real name on the internet, and he’s entitled to his opinion. At the same time, I didn’t elect him, and I don’t live in Kentucky, so his opinion could not possibly be more irrelevant to me.

The fact of the matter is that there are more than enough laws already on the books to handle any situation which might arise on the internet, regardless of whether the person is using their real name or a pseudonym. There are laws against stalking, harassment, obscenity, and other problems. Sure, it might not be easy to find the perpetrator, but it’s not always easy to find perpetrators in real life either.

There are laws to cover what Lori Drew did to Megan Meier, too, if the authorities would use their heads. She could be charged under child abuse laws, stalking laws, harassment laws … the list goes on and on. I don’t know why they decided to not charge her, but that doesn’t mean she couldn’t be charged if the prosecutor wanted to do so. Of course, now a federal grand jury is considering charges against her for wire fraud, since she used a false name on MySpace for the specific intention of stalking and harassing another person (though that’s a Catch-22, since Megan Meier also falsified her age with her mother’s permission, as she was otherwise too young to have a MySpace account). It’s not a problem to use a false name in and of itself. It only becomes a problem when someone uses a false name in order to commit a crime, which is something the vast majority of people on the internet will never do.

So, in a nutshell, I think Kentucky State Representative Tim Couch needs to worry about things which are actually under his control. He is not in a position to legislate the internet, since he is just a state legislator. He has, like a typical politician, grabbed onto a controversial issue to get publicity. Even if his law passes, he is only giving his constituents a false sense of security on the internet since the law would not apply to anyone outside that state; he’d do a far greater service to his constituents if he introduced a bill to fund a public information program about the internet, or requiring that children in his state be educated about the dangers of the internet. He knows or should know that he has no jurisdiction to legislate the internet. If he doesn’t know that, he isn’t smart enough to be making laws in the first place.
_______________________________

Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan

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Alden Link is a Libertarian candidate for the Libertarian presidential nomination. He’s an older gentleman, and his main emphasis seems to be on nuclear power. He claims that nuclear power plants can produce enough gasoline to end our dependence upon foreign oil.

I’m no scientist, but I don’t understand how nuclear power plants can produce gasoline. Perhaps someone reading this can explain if the following is possible:

A nuclear power plant has the energy to produce about 15 thousand barrels of gasoline a day.

Given the following equivalents:
• 1 watt equals 3.4 british thermal units (BTU)
• 1 nuclear power plant produces 1,000,000,000 watts
• 1 barrel of gasoline contains 42 gallons
• 1 gallon of gasoline is equal to 125,000 btu
• 1 day has 24 hours

1) 1,000,000,000 watts / hour x 3.4 btu = 3,400,000,000 btu/hour
2) 3,400,000,000 btu/hour divided by 125,000 btu/gallon =27,200 gallons per hour
3) 27,200 gals./hour divided by 42 gallons per barrel = 647 barrels/hour
4) 647 barrels per hour x 24 hours = 15,542 barrels of gasoline per day

The raw materials needed for this process are carbon from recycled atmospheric carbon dioxide and hydrogen from water. This process is therefore non polluting and actually cleans the air

The United States imports about 13,000,000 barrels of oil per day. Some of it is used to run electric generating facilities. Most is used as motor fuels.

If the US builds 900 nuclear power plants for converting energy to fuel we would be energy independent. and not need ANY imported oil. More power plants than that and we could export petroleum products.

____________________________

Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan 

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Clinton and ObamaAccording to The Smoking Gun, Jose Antonio Ortiz stabbed his brother-in-law, Sean Shurelds (who was flown to a hospital, where he was admitted in critical condition) due to a disagreement about Hillary Clinton vs Barack Obama.

Yes, you read that right.

Apparently Shurelds supports Obama, and Ortiz supports Clinton. While the two were in the kitchen of someone’s home (it is unclear whose home) Shurelds told Ortiz that Obama was “trashing” Clinton, and Ortiz responded that “Obama was not a realist.”

While for most people that would be pretty much the end of the conversation, not so with these two, for whom those were not just fighting words, they were stabbing words. Ortiz and Shurelds argued, began to choke and punch each other, and eventually Ortiz grabbed a knife and stabbed Shurelds in the abdomen.

Ortiz then went back to doing the dishes, including, of course, the knife he had used to stab his brother-in-law.

Not at all surprisingly, Ortiz has a case of selective memory (not unlike the typical politician), and conveniently denies any memory of the stabbing incident. He has been charged with felony aggravated assault, as well as two misdemeanor counts. Bail has been set at $20,000.

I’m sure Clinton and Obama are proud to have supporters who are willing to go that far for their chosen candidate. Or not.

__________________________

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Carmen Kontur-GronquistVoters in Arlington, Oregon, are very, very angry. That’s not unusual, since there are very angry voters everywhere these days.

What is unusual is the reason why they are angry.

Apparently their Mayor, Carmen Kontur-Gronquist, had some photos taken to send in for a fitness magazine, and in them she was dressed in her bra and panties. This all happened before she became Mayor, incidentally. A relative posted the photos on MySpace, hoping to find the single mother a date.

I didn’t see a thing in the world wrong with the photos; the most controversial of them is posted at top left. Basically, she’s showing off her rock-hard abs, and if I had abs like hers, I’d be showing mine off too. So what. Those photos are no different from any other photos for a woman’s fitness magazine, because I used to read some of those periodicals myself, back when I was into bodybuilding and fitness. In fact, her photos actually showed a lot less than they usually show in those magazines. Those types of photos are not at all sexual in nature, though, because they are intended only for other women to see, as inspiration in their fitness routines.

The people of Arlington, however, are absolutely outraged over those photos, and they actually threw her out of office for it.

When I first heard this story back when it first broke I thought, no way would a town actually recall their Mayor for posing for a fitness magazine. After all, Arnold Schwarzenegger made his living as a bodybuilder, and even posed fully nude multiple times, and he’s the Governor of California.

I was wrong, because they did recall her. The vote was 142-139 in favor of throwing her out of office.

If we are still so backward in this country that we’d throw a woman out of elected office merely for posing for a fitness magazine, covering more than the average bathing suit covers, are we really ready for a female president? Or would Congress impeach her the first time they see a picture of her in a bathing suit?

What do you think? Is it just that one town, or is most of American that narrow-minded? Given this, are we ready for a female president?

______________________

Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan 

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Daniel ImperatoThere has been a discussion over at Third Party Watch, regarding whether Daniel Imperato should be listed as a Libertarian on the official Libertarian Party website. Among other statements by Stephen Gordon, owner of TPW, he didn’t call the media to cover a Libertarian presidential candidate debate, due to the participation of Mr. Imperato.Just as some brief background, Mr. Imperato is either a liar of unimaginable proportions, or insane. I haven’t decided yet, mostly because I honestly don’t care one way or the other about his candidacy since he will never in a zillion years become President, or even the Libertarian Party’s nominee. Yet his wackiness also isn’t interesting enough to keep my attention for more than a minute or two.I started to respond on that blog, then decided to do so here instead, so my thoughts on this issue aren’t buried in the comments section of someone else’s blog. I am so disgusted with the Libertarian Party and its powers-that-be that I don’t care if they know it. What follows is that response.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If it were not for “Liberty Decides“, Imperato would still be just the butt of jokes among those of us who follow the lunatic fringe in politics. Without “Liberty Decides”, he would have forever remained an obscure Independent candidate whose only supporters were the voices in his head.

The Libertarian Party, however, recognized Imperato as a fully qualified Libertarian presidential candidate on their website, in “Liberty Decides”, which is nothing more or less than a moneymaking scheme for the LP since it does not stop candidates from buying their way to the top; and there is absolutely no accountability regarding the dates, amounts, or identities of contributors. Yet Imperato is not even a Libertarian candidate, even by his own admission, since he filed with the FEC as an Independent.

It is pathetic that no one invited the media just because Imperato was there, since it robbed the legitimate Libertarian candidates of much-needed exposure (especially true when it cost them $500 to participate, not to mention travel and lodging costs). Wackjob or not, I think Imperato would only have made the other candidates look even better, so perhaps you should have invited the media anyway. It’s not like it’s going to be shown on the evening news, after all. The only people who would be interested at all are libertarians, and insomniacs.

However, since you decided not to alert the media due to Imperato’s participation, someone in authority at that event should have alerted the media themselves (again, because they charged the candidates $500 each for the opportunity to participate). If they and you both thought Imperato was just too far out in left field to invite the media, you could have simply said, “We’re sorry, Mr. Imperato, but you’re registered with the FEC as an Independent, and thus you are not qualified to participate in this debate as a Libertarian. Here is a refund of your participation fee”.

How hard is that?

In my opinion, the LP has made a mockery of the party’s entire presidential candidate process. Not only did they ignore their own candidates in order to support a candidate from another party who repeatedly said he was not interested in becoming the LP’s nominee, but they also rolled out the red carpet for a wackjob who isn’t even registered with the FEC as a Libertarian candidate (and did the same for a lot of candidates who aren’t filed with the FEC at all).

The entire situation is an embarrassing mess, but it didn’t need to happen at all. Nevertheless, no matter how I view it, the LP is entirely to blame by lending Imperato credibility where he otherwise would have none.

Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan

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The Libertarian Party has started a new fundraising campaign called “Liberty Decides ‘08“. Basically, all Libertarian presidential candidates who have met certain guidelines (age-qualified, member of the LP, filed with the FEC, and raise at least $5000 for ballot access) are listed for competition (with one exception, since Dr. George Phillies chose to decline participation). People then “vote” for those candidates by making a donation in that candidate’s name. Each vote equals $1, so the more you contribute, the more votes you get to cast.There is no requirement that the donations/votes come from a registered member of the LP, or even that the voters claim to be a libertarian (many libertarians are not registered with the Libertarian Party, since that would remove their right to vote in many state primaries). The Libertarian Party will keep 60% of the money collected, while the eventual presidential nominee will get the remaining 40%, to be used in promoting the Libertarian Party.

There are a number of glaringly obvious problems with this competition.

Right off the bat, I can tell you that there are candidates listed there who have not raised $5000, period. However, if they left out candidates who hadn’t accomplished that yet, there would only be three candidates listed. I’ll get to those candidates in a moment.

There is no indication how many individual contributions each candidate received, and the competition is not set up to gauge support in that manner. This is important for several reasons, not the least of which is that there is no way to tell if the candidates received contributions from others, or if all their funds came from them. While at first glance it would seem unethical for the candidates to contribute to themselves in a competition, since that normally would be viewed as rigging the results, there is in fact nothing stopping the candidates from using their own funds. The rules quite specifically state, “Donations from the candidates will be counted towards funds raised”.

Given that three of the candidates have a great deal of money (specifically the ones sitting in the top three right now) there is absolutely no way for anyone to tell if those candidates simply contributed to themselves, though it definitely appears that they have done exactly that. Furthermore, allowing candidates to contribute to themselves places the wealthy candidates at an unfair advantage, and explains the current results.

The current frontrunners are Wayne Allyn Root, Mike Jingozian, and Daniel Imperato. However, I have seen no indication whatsoever that those three have any significant following. Quite the contrary, since all three have been subjected to a great deal of negative opinion from libertarians.

Imperato in particular is a candidate who has no discernible support, and his “press releases” are met with a great deal of laughter and derision, including from Yours Truly. Many others across the blogosphere have voiced their concern that Imperato may not be completely sane, though he does have enough money to rig the competition with ease. He is now in third place, undoubtedly due to contributing to himself.

Root is new to the LP, and even still has a website called “Millionaire Republican”; as a result he is viewed with suspicion, and is considered to be a Republican by most. Furthermore, Root is running on what is primarily a pro-gambling platform, since he is a Vegas oddsmaker. While libertarians believe gambling should not be illegal, one cannot run a presidential campaign on that stance alone, and some of his other ideas are hardly libertarian. For example, he is pro-war (and as a matter of fact, regularly uses his initials, which spell “WAR”, in place of his name), whereas libertarians adopt a strict non-interventionist policy. Root is currently in first place, also undoubtedly due to contributing to himself.

Jingozian is simply not very well known. I recall reading his site back when his candidacy first came to my attention, and I got the distinct impression that his views are a cross between the Greens and the Libertarians. Few libertarians will support a fusion candidate. By necessity Green goals require governmental intrusion upon our property rights, whereas libertarians believe the government’s only proper activity is to protect our rights. A successful businessman, Jingozian is in second place, also undoubtedly because he contributed to himself.

That the three wealthiest candidates – who have no chance of actually gaining widespread support among LP members – would appear to be winning was a completely foreseeable situation, given how the competition is designed; and it is inevitable that those candidates will contribute to themselves, then use that poll to falsely state they are a “frontrunner” in the race for the LP nomination. It is equally strange that, based on my own estimate of those candidates’ personal wealth, they are in exactly the order I would expect.

That’s a very serious problem, not only because misrepresentations about their own support among LP members might mislead people who are not already familiar with the candidates, but also because as discussed, those candidates who are winning have some decidedly un-libertarian ideas which will undoubtedly reflect very poorly on the LP as a whole.

This poll may also have a very strange effect on the Libertarian Convention. If delegates vote pursuant to what their constituents want, they cannot in good conscience ignore an official LP poll, especially since they may not realize that the wealthy candidates are contributing to themselves, as that information is not available on the same page as the competition. The actual rules are contained in a PDF file.

As much as I disapprove of the LP keeping the majority of the contributions for itself, and stipulating that the other 40% must be used to the LP’s advantage, that does explain why they are allowing candidates to contribute to themselves since there are three wealthy candidates who would get little if any support otherwise.

Another matter of concern is that, according to the rules, the poll counts funds raised since each candidate announced their campaign, including any funds raised by an exploratory committee. That gives an advantage to candidates who announced early, though as it is that early advantage is canceled out by the wealthier candidates who contribute to themselves. Again, it is impossible to ascertain the amount of actual support each candidate has during the course of the competition, which negates any possible usefulness the competition might otherwise have.

Last but not least, even in a poll where actual money is involved, “None Of The Above” rated fourth (for those of you not familiar with the Libertarian Party, delegates can actually vote for NOTA rather than to nominate a candidate). Quite honestly, I think it’s a very popular choice in this presidential election, and if not for the three wealthy candidates contributing to themselves, it would be ranked firmly in first place. NOTA is almost $2000 ahead of the next most popular candidate, which is “Future candidate”; in other words, those contributing to this competition (not counting the first three who are obviously contributing to themselves) by far prefer none of the candidates. NOTA and FC, if placed into one category as it should be, would be roughly equivalent to the current third-place competitor who contributed to himself, and firmly in first place if the three wealthy candidates were discounted due to contributing to themselves.

That says a lot.

Can the serious LP candidates overcome this negativity, based in a lack of excitement about the announced candidates, and a great deal of excitement about Ron Paul, who is running as a Republican? I honestly don’t know, but I somehow doubt it. The LP may end up not nominating a presidential candidate for 2008.

_______________________

Sources:
Last Free Voice
Libertarian Party
Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan

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moneydecides2.jpg

The Libertarian National Party has a new program, Liberty Decides ’08 designed “to promote our pre-nomination presidential candidates as they engage in a competitive process. To participate in the program, candidates must cross three thresholds: meet the LP bylaws requirements; file with the FEC; and raise at least $5,000 for the LP or LP state parties for ballot access.

Once qualified, candidates will be ranked by the funds they have raised for the program and promoted through the Internet, mail and LP publications.”

40% of all donations to this program will be set aside in a special fund to be used for expenditures coordinated with the candidate who does eventually win the LP nomination in convention. The remainder of the funds will be used to help the LP move forward with core issues such as media, ballot access and member recruitment.

One candidate has declined to participate, noting that the money does not go to help the candidates now, when they need help the most, and only 40% will go to the eventual nominee – whoever that may be – not necessarily the candidate that the donors click on to contribute in the name of.

Further controversy ensued when, in an early version of Liberty Decides, this candidate was included without his consent, and a silhouette of Ron Paul was used as a “Future/Unannounced Candidate.” The silhouette was removed, as was the objecting candidate, but in a controversial and widely talked about move, the LNC voted unanimously to invite Ron Paul to seek the LP nomination for President if he does not get the Republican nomination.

Some candidates are more positive about Liberty Decides.

Some other Libertarian activists have criticized Liberty Decides, notably Susan Hogarth, who wrote:

It would be a much more useful tool for Libertarian activists and likely convention delegates (you know, the folks who actually select the LP nominee) with two simple additions, which I mentioned yesterday:

1) some indication of how many individual donors each candidate has (and, ideally, how many of them are Party members).

2) some indication (other than a link to their websites) of positions.

Susan shares her thoughts about Liberty Decides here, here,
here, and
here.

Despite the criticism, the LNC expressed support for Executive Director Shane Cory and Liberty Decides at its recent meeting in Charleston.

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Christine Smith put out a
somewhat controversial
essay which said that, unlike some other libertarians, she would not compromise principle.

The first time I saw it was on the LP Radicals yahoo group, and given that I have recently volunteered to help the caucus members make more informed decisions about the various LP Presidential candidates, I thought of a few questions to ask.

They have been up for several days, and I also since posted them on several other yahoo groups on which Christine Smith posted the same message. I am hoping that the candidate sees the questions and responds to them. Several people have said that she is not very good about getting back to people, but this is the first time I have personally tried to get a hold of her, so for now I will keep an open mind.

I’m guessing she’s just been busy, so I hope maybe posting them here will help bring these questions to her attention.

OK, here they are:

I have gathered there are no issues on which you think the 2004
platform was too extreme. Is my understanding correct? If not, what do
you think may have been too extreme?

Are there any issues on which you think the 2004 platform was not
libertarian enough? If so, what issues, and what was inadequate about
them?

Do you think the platform should be about the length of the 2004
platform or that of the 2006 platform? Somewhere in between? Longer
than both? Shorter than both?

What issues, if any, do you think are the most glaring omissions?

When did you join the Libertarian Party?

Prior to running for President, in what ways were you involved in the
Libertarian Party or libertarian movement? What other libertarian
movement groups have you been involved with, and what was the extent
of your involvement?

In what ways do you plan to be involved if you do not get the
Presidential nomination?

If you lose the Presidential nomination and are offered the VP
nomination, would you consider it?

Have you ever run for office with another party or as an independent
candidate? If so, where and when, and for what office?

Have your views changed during this campaign? If so, on what issues
and why?

Do you plan to share all contacts your campaign generates with the
national party? Would you characterize your present working
relationship with LPHQ and/or LNC to be friendly or somewhat adversarial?

Do you have any significant involvement in issue organizations or
political coalitions which intersect with libertarianism but also
include significant numbers of non-libertarians? (for instance, Steve
Kubby has been active in medical marijuana legalization and the drug
policy reform movement; George Phillies is active with his local ACLU
chapter; Wayne Root claims he can reach out to internet gamblers on a
large scale).

Steve Gordon has criticized your position on the middle east wars,
claiming that you said that you would evacuate the troops and leave
their equipment behind. Is that an accurate description of your position?

Do you believe the national party platform (past or present) would be
adequate to serve as your campaign platform, or do you plan to have a
separate campaign platform if you are nominated?

Are there any innovative ways in which you hope your campaign will
work to surpass all previous LP Presidential results, and what do you
think your chances are of doing that?

How much of an emphasis do you plan to put on working with local
candidates and building state and local LPs? Ballot access? Youth and
college outreach?

Have you spoken to large crowds not just of
libertarians? (For example, Steve Kubby spoke at Hempfest, estimated
attendance 50,000, and I believe George Phillies said he spoke at
MassCann, which is also a large legalization event).

Also: have you played a significant role in passing any legislation
that actually made people more free? (Steve Kubby helped write and
pass prop 215, California’s medical marijuana law).

UPDATE:

As I mentioned, Steve Gordon also has
some questions
for Ms. Smith which he has been trying to get her to answer through several phone and email attempts for several days.

Steve Kubby has some concerns, too.

Hopefully we’ll hear back!

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According to this network’s website:

New England Cable News (NECN) is the largest regional news network in the country, serving more than 3.6 million homes in over a thousand cities and towns throughout New England.

Launched on March 2, 1992, NECN is a partnership between the Hearst Corporation and Comcast Corporation. NECN is available exclusively to New England cable subscribers, providing 24-hour access to breaking news, sports, weather, and traffic. The network’s original programming includes NewsNight, an in-depth news analysis program with Jim Braude; The Chet Curtis Report, a review of the day’s tops stories; Sports LateNight, a sports news and daily wrap-up program; New England Dream House, a home improvement program; and TV Diner, a restaurant review program with Billy Costa. NECN also airs three business-targeted programs—CEO Corner, New England Business Day, and This Week in Business. The news channel is the only station in the region to regularly produce its own documentaries.

NECN serves a six-state area encompassing Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Rhode Island. The network broadcasts from its studios in Newton, Mass, and additionally maintains bureaus in Manchester, New Hampshire; Hartford, Connecticut; Worcester, Massachusetts; Portland, Maine; and Burlington, Vermont.

NECN is distinguished as a leader in the industry, having received several awards for broadcast journalism excellence including the George Foster Peabody Award, the Alfred I. duPont–Columbia Journalism Award and the Scripps Howard Foundation Award. The news channel was twice named News Station of the Year by the Associated Press, and for two consecutive years was named Television Station of the Year by the Gabriel Awards.

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Something stinks in the Sooner State.

Oklahoma voters were the only voters with no choices for president on their ballot except Bush Skull and Kerry Bones in 2004, and Oklahoma is one of 5 states that doesn’t permit write-ins, so Oklahoma voters who wanted to vote for someone other than Bush or Kerry in 2004 completely lost their right to vote (Source: Ballot Access News). In order to be on the ballot, an independent candidate or alternative party has to get signatures equal to 5% of the last vote cast, which is the hardest standard in the country, and they have to get 10% of the vote to keep their place on the ballot, second behind only Alabama with 20%. Half of the state legislative races go completely unopposed. The Oklahoma Supreme Court refused a challenge to this edict, and the feds have no jurisdiction.

Currently, there is an
effort
underway to change this crazy scheme by initiative, but Oklahoma makes it hard to get issues on the ballot by initiative. Statute initiatives must get the signatures of 8% of the voters, which is among the highest percentages among states which allow citizen initiative, and constitutional amendments need 15%, tied with Arizona for the highest percentage required by any state that allows constitutional amendments by citizen petition according to a chart by
National Voter Outreach. The signatures have to all be gathered within 90 days, and then the State Supreme Court can hold up approval for the vote to take place by over a year.

After you gather the signatures, you have to print the names of everyone who signed on the back of the page. Imagine having to do that several hundred times after you get back from a hard day of asking people to sign and getting run out (or attempted) of every location imaginable, public and private, or having to flip the page over and ask busy people to print their name a second time for every single signature – especially when working on more than one issue. Yep, it sucks, and is one of the most asinine rules I have encountered in petitioning in 27 states plus DC over the past ten years. And there are some very asinine rules out there, such as New England states requiring signatures from every city to be on a separate page, and Massachusetts ruling that any tiny tear, food stain, stray pen mark or writing outside the box disqualifies a whole page of signatures.

To make matters worse, in a decision in the case of Yes on Term Limits v. Savage, U.S. District Court Judge Tim Leonard upheld a challenged Oklahoma state law (in effect since 1969) banning out of state residents from being ballot petition circulators and signature-collectors there. Who, exactly, is a state resident? People move all the time. Some more frequently than others. Some people don’t predictably live in one place long enough to get a mortgage or apartment lease, so we prefer to live in motels or stay with friends (I resemble this remark). Some people don’t even have a place to live at all. Does that mean we should lose our right to petition the government for redress of grievances?

Shortly after this ruling, as Brian Doherty reports at Reason Magazine,

longtime libertarian political activist Paul Jacob was indicted on felony charges in Oklahoma for conspiracy to defraud the state, along with Susan Johnson of National Voter Outreach and Rick Carpenter of Oklahomans in Action.

It isn’t Jacob’s first time with the guns of the state aimed at him. He served five months in jail in 1984, after a year on the run, for refusal to register for the draft.

In his interview about the arrest with Brian Doherty, Paul Jacob explains:

(more…)

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Ron PaulHat tip Presidential Politics ’08.

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, a former Libertarian Party presidential candidate, has raised a staggering $5 million for the third quarter of 2007.

Dr. Paul, currently a Republican Congressman from Texas, is an obstetrician who has a very large grassroots following, especially among libertarians. To many that libertarian support is even more stunning, considering that Dr. Paul opposes abortion, whereas the Libertarian Party does not hold such opposition. However, completely in keeping with libertarian principles, Dr. Paul advocates immediate withdrawal from Iraq, at one time angering Rudy Giuliani during a debate when he suggested that the 9/11 attacks were “blowback” from previous US activities in the Middle East.

Wolf Blitzer broke the fundraising news on his CNN show “Situation Room” with the following statement:

Some stunning political news this hour concerning Ron Paul: The Republican presidential hopeful is low in the national and state polls, but now, when it comes to campaign cash, he’s standing very tall.

Ron Paul’s campaign reports that the congressman from Texas raised five million dollars over the past three months. That’s in the same neighborhood as what rival John McCain is expected to report, and it’s five times what former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee reportedly raised. It’s also more than three million dollars more than Paul raised over the first six months of this year. Paul can partially credit his big bucks to a strong following on the Internet.


Blitzer was not the only political pundit to express astonishment at this unexpected development. A similar sentiment was expressed by other news organizations, including MSNBC and ABC.

ABC World News Tonight is flying to New Hampshire to interview Mr. Paul for tonight’s episode. Earlier today, ABC called Ron’s totals “jaw-dropping.”

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Sorry folks, been too busy to post. But I thought I’d post this since no one else has yet. Our own Michelle Shinghal on Tucker Carlson, thanks to posts by our fellow blogger Steve Gordon.

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Dennis Kucinich peace sign

To be quite honest, I haven’t given Dennis Kucinich much thought as a candidate, but after reading this, I think I’ll check him out.  I have to like a candidate whose supporters have such a good sense of humor.

While the poll put out by Ron Paul’s LibertarianLists.com web site is highly self-selected, we at Libertarians for Kucinich are excited to announce a poll that is even more rigorously self-selected.

Our latest baseline data indicates that Dennis Kucinich has an infinitely higher support level than Ron Paul among Libertarian Party voters — 66.67% versus 0.00% for Ron Paul.

Even more interestingly, when Ron Paul is run in a hypothetical election against more liberal members of his party, such as Pat Buchanan, Libertarians continue to support Kucinich by a consistent 2:1 margin.

In fact, 2 out of 3 Libertarians recommend Dennis Kucinich as part of a healthy political diet.

Now, we know that the Libertarian Purists and the Ron Paul campaign alike will attack our methodology and point out that our margin of error is 35%. However, they are just being political and are angry that our rigorous poll has 65% correctness.

Below are the poll percentage results:

1) Which of the following candidates would make the best president of the United States?

a) Dennis Kucinich — 66.66%
b) Ron Paul — 0.00%
c) Doug Stanhope — 33.33%
c) Some other Libertarian purist who will never, ever win — 0.01%

2) Which of the following is the greatest political tragedy of the 21st century?

a) We still lack a national health care plan — 33.33%
b) The federal government is overruling the rights of states to ban guns — 33.33%
c) Eric Dondero — 33.32%
d) The USA PATRIOT Act — 0.01%

3) Which of the following is the least unappealing option?

a) A night of sweaty debauchery with Hillary Clinton — 33.32%
b) A night of sweaty debauchery with Karl Rove — 33.32%
c) Are you serious? — 33.32%
d) Paying my income taxes — 0.03%

4) If Ron Paul loses the Republican Party primary, which one of the following actions would you support?

a) Having Ron Paul declare his undying support for Dennis Kucinich for president — 33.33%
b) Having Ron Paul get real and understand that only Dennis Kucinich could bring us Liberty in Our Lifetime ™ — 33.33%
c) Having Ron Paul donate his life savings to the Kucinich for President Campaign Committee — 33.34%
d) I am a purist Libertarian pantywaist who intends to vote for Phillies or Smith — 0.00%
e) I support Daniel Imperato and forgot to take my lithium this morning: — (-0.01%)

5) Who is the hottest?

a) Shane Cory — 33.33%
b) Stephen Gordon — 66.65%
c) Daniel Imperato after 11 drinks and a Social Security reform speech — 0.01%

6) Which is the most reliable way to get unbiased statistics about politics?

a) FOX News — 0.01%
b) CNN — 0.01%
c) LibertarianLists.com — 0.00000000000001%
d) LibertariansForKucinich.com — 99.967%
e) Other — 0.0000001%

7) If Dennis Kucinich loses the Democratic primary, should the Libertarian Party change its bylaws to allow him to become the Libertarian nominee?

a) Yes, because we need Dennis Kucinich in the White House! — 33.33%
b) Hell yes, because Dennis’s eyes see through the lies! — 33.33%
c) Are you kidding?!? Of course! — 33.32%
d) I am a Libertarian purist who hates real progress and thus am opposed to this incredibly good idea you’ve brought up — 0.01%

Many thanks to Libertarians For Kucinich for the laughs!

Hat tip Stephen Gordon.

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I’d like some help with setting up an internet forum of some sort to hook people up with shared rides, group rooms, camping, hostels, cheap motels, and other ways of getting to the Denver LP National Convention affordably.

A lot of what happened in Portland may have had to do with the fact that it was a long drive for most people, and one of the more expensive places to fly to, and partially as a result of that, the lowest attended LP national convention since the early 1970s. Furthermore, the people who are unable to afford these things are more likely to be radical and left-libertarians, although that is far from universally true.

Anyway, if anyone wants to help with setting this up, please let me know in the comments.

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Less than six months before its 2008 presidential primary, election officials in one of the country’s most important swing states admit electronic voting machines are seriously flawed and can be easily tampered with.A 35-page report released by Florida’s Secretary of State says that hackers can easily change votes without a trace in Diebold optical-scan machines used in 25 of the state’s 67 counties.

Conducted by Florida State University, the thorough study found that an adversary could easily use a pre-programmed computer card to swap one candidate’s votes for another or create a “ballot-stuffing attack” that multiplies votes for a candidate or issue.

The statewide investigation was ordered shortly after an election supervisor in Tallahassee’s Leon County conducted a test that exposed serious security problems with the expensive machines because they could easily be hacked.

In fact, a renowned nonpartisan election watchdog called the revelation the most serious hack demonstration to date because the Diebold machines succumbed so quickly to alteration of votes.

Florida officials spent millions to purchase the unreliable high-tech voting machines after its punch-card voting system attracted national attention in the 2000 presidential election. The controversial dimpled, pregnant and hanging chads held up a final count in the election and the U.S. Supreme Court had to actually step in.

Incredibly, the controversy continues in the Sunshine State as the 2008 presidential election approaches. Florida is a key state with an early presidential primary (January 29) that could dramatically alter both parties’ presidential nominating campaigns. Yet, even after spending millions of taxpayer dollars for new equipment, officials can’t guarantee that every vote will be accurately counted.

Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation’s public life. To view the Judicial Watch Internet site click here (www.judicialwatch.org).

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Here is an organization I hope everyone will get more active in supporting…I received a notice
from its chairman, Mark Rutherford, through facebook.

July 23rd I’ll be flying to Atlanta and having dinner with current Libertarian Party of Alabama Chairman Stephen Gorden, Deborah Gordon and a very influential national political figure. Stephen and I will be introducing Atlas!PAC to this influential person. Please invite fellow libertarians to join Atlas!PAC. Although we just started, we’ve already sent four Libertarians for campaign training to Washington, D.C. and our sponsorship of the Region Three Convention will enable several student libertarians to receive fund raising training free of charge.

Spread the word! Atlas!PAC is finally helping libertarians do the practical things needed to get elected.

Remember, I’d rather have Libertarians on the inside then the outside. You can changes things easier from the inside.

Mark W. Rutherford
Chairman
Atlas!PAC

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The following links are permanent, because they are based on the candidate’s FEC registration number, so those interested in such things may want to bookmark them (or bookmark this page, whichever is easier). Each candidate page lists links to contributions, reports, and all kinds of interesting things.

What I found most interesting of all, though, is that the much-touted Wayne Allyn Root is not even registered with the FEC as a candidate, libertarian or otherwise. Dondero isn’t registered with the FEC for his alleged run against Ron Paul, either.

George Phillies: One contributor has donated over $1000. It appears that Dr. Phillies has donated much more to his own campaign than what I originally thought. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s interesting if his own contributions are being counted in overall contributions for the quarter for comparison purposes with other LP candidates.

Steve Kubby: Three contributors have donated over $1000 each; two of them have given $2000. Kubby has not contributed any funds to his own campaign, and that’s okay too.

Christine Smith: One person has contributed $2000. Ms. Smith also received an individual contribution from someone who works for the Oregon LP. She has not contributed to her own campaign.

Mike Jingozian: Jingozian has received no contributions.

Alden Link: Link is registered with the FEC as a Republican presidential candidate. He has received no contributions.

Bob Jackson: Jackson has received no contributions.

Daniel Imperato: Imperato is registered with the FEC as an Independent. He has received no contributions.

Barry Hess: Not registered with FEC

Wayne Allyn Root: Not registered with FEC

Robert Milnes: Not registered with FEC

Dave Hollist: Not registered with FEC

John Finan: Not registered with FEC

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