Monday, June 30, 2008

The Kn@ppster hits a nerve: Apparently fervent Barr supporters have NO sense of humor

Several Bob Barr supporters are giving Tom Knapp a work-out over at The Kn@ppster, not just because he dropped his endorsement of the Barr/Root ticket, but because he posted this image:

And, of course, we wouldn't want to forget the boiler plate legalese:

The image of Bob Barr above is used pursuant to the Creative Commons License under which it was released by author Stephen P. Gordon on behalf of the Bob Barr Presidential Campaign. The other images (of, from left to right, Strom Thurmond, George Wallace and Lester Maddox) are in the public domain.

Doing a sort of six-degrees-of-Kevin-Bacon thing, it is Richard Viguerie who links Barr to George Wallace, with his 1976 attempt to take over the American Independent Party, which had been created originally as a vehicle for the segregationist Governor of Alabama. Wallace and Maddox, of course, were fellow massive resistance governors following Brown v Board of Education of Topeka KS, and spiritual descendants of Senator Strom Thurmond's Dixiecrats in the 1948 election.

Here's how Rock Howard's objection to Knapp's visual editorializing went:

As someone who grew up in the deepest nether regions of the Deep South, I find your posting to be tasteless and offensive. You are effectively attempting to label Barr as a racist by using a geographical stereotype. As a libertarian who happened to grow up in Dixie but hated the racial stigmatism that went on there, I have but two words for you: Bite me!

Oh one more thing. Your blog and all of your work are dead to me now. I will be actively spreading the word that people should not waste their time with your news digest and other claptrap. Needless to say I will not advertise there ever again nor donate to support what is apparently a bunch of hypocritical small tenters.

And--as usual, without equivocation--the Kn@ppster replied:

Actually, the "new Dixiecratism" uses homosexuals and immigrants, rather than blacks and "outside Communist agitators," as its bogeymen of choice.

Yes, I am "labeling" Barr as a Dixiecrat -- because I believe on the evidence of his own words and actions that that's what he is.

As far as the size of tents is concerned, I'm more than happy to share a tent with anyone who consistently calls for less, and less onerous, government.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am a strong proponent of bare-knuckles, George-Carlin-type comedic and satiric ridicule, and that I can't stand people who think the lumps that their candidates excrete don't have an odor.

Give 'em hell, Tom.

Tyler Nixon up and running!

I have been good. Really, Tyler, I have.

I have resisted the urge to talk about your candidacy here for--well, let's just say a long time.

Now that various other Delaware bloggers have officially broken the story, I can send people here.

Delaware Libertarian is proud not only to be associated with Tyler, but to endorse his candidacy without reservation (a much longer post to that effect coming soon).

I keep wanting to say other things, and keep remembering that I can't ... yet.

So, truth in advertising (as if it's not obvious): I'm not only endorsing Tyler, I'm helping out with his campaign, if only in smallish ways around the edges.

Damn, it feels good to be able to talk about this (at least the small amount we can talk about ... yet).

That's it--I'm done (with Bob Barr)

While I will make no apologies about arguing in favor of a strategy that pushed forward the Libertarian Party candidate to disrupt the outcome of the general election, I have never made a secret about my own disdain for Bob Barr's past (and even present).

Despite the arguments of Waldo, Knappster, and others, I held course, because in general Barr was running what appeared to be a pragmatic Libertarian campaign.

OK, so shitcats don't change their stripes; and here is how Bob Barr is now spinning the Defense of Marriage Act:

[W]hat makes me a Libertarian is the fact that I deeply and truly believe in the Libertarian platform and what resonates with most Americans, and that is to shrink the size of the federal government.

Let’s take just one example there, the Defense of Marriage Act. The Defense of Marriage Act simply stands for the proposition that each state can set its own definition of marriage and can’t be forced to adopt a different definition of marriage forced on it by another state.

That’s a very conservative principle reflecting the fundamental notion of states’ rights in our country.

I refer you to the comments section of that post at Last Free Voice for relevant responses by Tom Knapp, Brian Miller, Steve Kubby, and George Phillies. Brian Miller is in pretty much the same position I'm in, but the others--and Waldo--certainly have the right to say, "I told you so." Knapp's response most clearly agrees with my own position:

Yes, I realize that attempting to portray DOMA as having libertarian features, and basing that claim on a “states rights” argument, is nothing new with Barr.

What I found noteworthy about this particular instance of it was not the content, but the context.

To the best of my knowledge, Barr’s characterization of DOMA as not-un-libertarian in particular, and his appeal to “states rights” in general, has generally been defensive/reactive:

Q: How can you claim to be a libertarian … DOMA.

A: Well, if you look at DOMA this way, it’s actually libertarian, states rights, yada yada.

This time, Barr hit on DOMA and states rights virtually unprompted — not to defend his record on DOMA as not wholly unlibertarian, but to hold out DOMA’s “states rights” basis as definitional to what libertarianism IS.

If this is a trend and not an outlier, Barr is going proactive and explicitly harnessing his campaign to the cause of re-defining libertarianism as Dixiecrat states rightsism.

There are so many things wrong with Barr's statement that I lack the energy to beginning listing them.

From this point forward I will continue to cover Barr's campaign and its potential to influence the general election, but I will deal with Barr in exactly the same fashion I deal with Senators McCain and Obama--as fairly as possible regarding candidates for whom I will not vote. Speaking of voting, the question remains: what the hell do I do now? Move to Massachusetts or New Hampshire so I can vote for George Phillies?

From this point forward I will also continue to cover Libertarian candidates in State races. People like Dr Michael Munger, Allen Buckley, Scotty Boman, Tom Knapp, and Jason Gatties will bear the standard.

But Barr? Not the snowball's chance in hell anymore.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Wes "I promise I won't start WW3, honest" Clark attacks John McCain's military record?

It looks like the first of the big-time Hillary surrogates, retired General Wesley Clark, has packed his rucksack and headed over to Firebase Barack:

Gen. Wesley Clark, acting as a surrogate for Barack Obama’s campaign, invoked John McCain’s military service against him in one of the more personal attacks on the Republican presidential nominee this election cycle.

Clark said that McCain lacked the executive experience necessary to be president, calling him “untested and untried” on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” And in saying so, he took a few swipes at McCain’s military service.

“He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn't a wartime squadron,” Clark said.

“I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.”

Aside from the fact that the last comment is one of the sleazier to issue from the mouth of an Obama surrogate in the past few weeks, there is a larger issue in play.

For Clark, who has been little more than a Democratic PAC fundraiser since he was forcibly retired by--of all people--Bill Clinton--to start questioning anybody else's military judgment is potential evidence of just how worried the Obama folks are about the strength of McCain on national security issues.

Especially since the general consensus of most military analysts is that Clinton retired him because he damn near started World War 3 with the Russians in Kosovo. The best coverage, ironically, was posted in The Nation back when Clark entered the 2004 Presidential race (I'll warn you that this is a long excerpt, but it's worth it):

Call it Clark's "High Noon" showdown. It's an incident that deserves scrutiny because Clark's claim to be an experienced leader in national security matters is tied, in significant part, to his record in the Balkans.

On June 12, 1999, in the immediate aftermath of NATO's air war against Yugoslavia, a small contingent of Russian troops dashed to occupy the Pristina airfield in Kosovo. Clark was so anxious to stop the Russians that he ordered an airborne assault to confront these units--an order which could have unleashed the most frightening showdown with Moscow since the end of the Cold War. Hyperbole? You can decide. But British General Michael Jackson, the three-star general and commander of K-FOR, the international force organized and commanded by NATO to enforce an agreement in Kosovo, told Clark: "Sir, I'm not starting world war three for you," when refusing to accept his order to prevent Russian forces from taking over the airport. (Jackson was rightly worried that any precipitous NATO action could risk a confrontation with a nuclear- armed Russia and upset the NATO-led peacekeeping plan just getting underway with the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo.)

After being rebuffed by Jackson, Clark, according to various media reports at the time, then ordered Admiral James Ellis, the American in charge of NATO's southern command, to use Apache helicopters to occupy the airfield. Ellis didn't comply--replying that British General Jackson would oppose such a move. Had Clark's orders been followed, the subsequent NATO- negotiated compromise with the Russians--a positive element in the roller- coaster relationship between Moscow and Washington, which eventually incorporated Russian troops into peacekeeping operations--might well have been undermined.

In the end, Russian reinforcements were stopped when Washington persuaded Hungary, a new NATO member, to refuse to allow Russian aircraft to fly over its territory. Meanwhile, Jackson was appealing to senior British authorities, who persuaded Clinton Administration officials--some of whom had previously favored occupying the airport--to drop support for Clark's hotheaded plan. As a result, when Clark appealed to Washington, he was rebuffed at the highest levels. His virtually unprecedented showdown with a subordinate subsequently prompted hearings by the Armed Forces Services Committee, which raised sharp questions about NATO's chain of command.

As a Guardian article said at the time, "The episode triggers reminscences of the Korean War. Then, General Douglas MacArthur, commander of the UN force, wanted to invade, even nuke, China, until he was brought to heel by President Truman." Of course, the comparison is inexact. The stakes were not as high in the Balkans, but Clark's hip-shooting willingness to engage Russian troops in a risky military showdown at the end of the war is instructive nonetheless.

Indeed, it is believed in military circles that Clark's Pristina incident was the final straw that led the Pentagon to relieve him of his duties (actually retire him earlier). Clark had also angered the Pentagon brass--and Secretary of Defense William Cohen in particular--with his numerous media appearances and repeated public requests for more weapons and for more freedom to wage the Kosovo war the way he wanted (with ground troops). At one point, according to media reports, Defense Secretary Cohen, through Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Hugh Shelton, told Clark to "get your fucking face off of TV."

I have always maintained that Barack Obama is vulnerable as the poster child for defense/industrial complex lobbyists, as being dangerously inexperienced in foreign policy, and as unwilling to give up the doctrine of preemptive war (although McCain shares that obvious delusion with him).

Eventually, even some of Senator Obama's supporters are going to figure out that his opposition to the invasion of Iraq was driven by ideology rather than sound policy judgment, and that with a fifty-fifty chance in an up or down vote anybody can get lucky.

The only thing that trotting Wesley Clark out now does is highlight just how much of a novice Senator Obama really is, if he expects this nutcase to gain him anything by attacking McCain's war record.

Unless it was really a rehearsal to see how Clark would go over as a Veep....

And that's truly frightening.

North Carolina ballot access and party registration = Demopublican facism

I'm sure that Ryan McTeague Beckwith of the Raleigh News and Observer thought this was funny:

The number of registered Libertarians has more than doubled.

But don't get too excited — it's only gone from 5 to 11.

As recently as Monday, the State Board of Elections reported only a handful of people registered to the political party, which was only re-recognized in late May.

Deputy elections director Johnnie Mclean said that the state board only recently got the forms together to allow people to re-register, so it will take a while before the party bounces back.

No word yet on whether Mike Munger is one of the 11.

And I'm positive that Dr Michael Munger, the Libertarian candidate for North Carolina governor is pissed:

1. Even though we spent $200,000, plus all those volunteer hours, the state does not yet have the forms to register. I just downloaded the forms the Wake County BoE, and even their ELECTRONIC forms are not yet changed. How long does it take to upload a new form? It is just a few BLOCKS from the SBOE to the Wake County BoE. They are just not trying. Why isn’t that the news, Ryan? Why don’t you have a post that says, “State drags feet, prevents Libertarians from being able to register.”?

2. There were 13,000 registered Libertarians in the state of NC in 2005. They were stripped of their registration by the state. The state is supposed to restore those registrations. But they are not going to do that, because they say that too much time has passed. Why do some people (Ls) have to register multiple times, and others (Rs and Ds) only once? How many Rs and Ds would have reregistered, do you think, within a week of learning that they had been stripped, and had to start over? Why isn’t that the news, Ryan? 13,000 registered Libertarians are denied a basic right, even after their party has done everything the state says they must do, to qualify?

3. The League of Women’s voters claims that they want to make sure candidates are legitimate before allowing them in the debate. But:

a. I had to spend $200,000 to get the signatures. Same signatures we already got 7 times previously!

b. We have to pay filing fees, but the state will not allow us to have a primary. So, no publicity and no chance to campaign. The Rs and Ds get millions of free dollars of ads.

c. I tried to put up some road signs. State highway workers took them down as soon as I put them up. I asked one guy. He said, “We only leave those up near an election.”

Why isn’t that the news, Ryan? How can I campaign? I poured all my money down a rathole, and the state won’t honor its commitment to reinstate previous registrations. And when I do put up road signs the state takes them down. I don’t even know what the rules are. As soon as we pass one hurdle, the state makes up another one.

Why isn’t THAT the news?

This is outrageous, to the point of being anti-American.

I'm working on what can be done about it from a distance. Obviously, here in Delaware, where Delmarva Power owns half of our legislators and the Governor feels free to veto an eminent domain bill, we're not doing a hell of a lot better than the Tarheel State. I don't expect the North Carolina authorities to give a damn about people outside the State, when they really don't care about democracy for their own citizens.

But this is not an issue that should just concern Libertarians: doesn't the diminishing of democracy for those we don't agree with diminish us all?

At the very least, for my non-Libertarian friends in the Delaware blogosphere (who have all always supported open government), I hope some of you will stop by Mike Munger's website and let him know you're as outraged as he is.

Does Allan Head know the truth when it bites him? North Carolina Bar Association spokesman admits Michael Munger exclusion was intentional

Two weeks ago I posted an update on the North Carolina Bar Association's decision to exclude Dr Michael Munger, the ballot-qualified Libertarian Party candidate for Governor, from their June 21 debate.

This included the response made by NCBA Executive Director Allan Head to an inquiry by NC attorney, Lenoir City Council Member, and Libertarian T. J. Rohr regarding the NCBA's decision not to invite Dr. Munger:

Mr. Head: With regard to the annual meeting, 10 months ago we invited all announced candidates, Those coming accepted our invitation. I believe Dr Munger did not qualify until May 22nd. By that time we had confirmed the other candidates and firmed up times for our convention Saturday morning that is full of award recognitions, elections, a Judicial candidate’s forum, as well as gubernatorial and senatorial forums. We could not add another award or candidate if we wanted to. So, I hope that speaks to your concerns about the forum. We did not decide “…..not to include him,” by the time he contacted us, rather late in the game, there was not enough time to accommodate him.

Now, in an article from the Greensboro News-Record posted at Crazy for Liberty, we discover that Mr. Head's answer was apparently not the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth:

But a spokesman for the N.C. Bar Association, which is hosting the first nontelevised debate of the season, said Munger was intentionally not invited.

"The focal point all along has been on the candidates from the two major parties," said Russell Rawlings, a spokesman for the association, which is holding its forum June 21 in Atlantic Beach.

This had already been noticed by the intrepid T. J. Rohr, who points out

Hey, I'm the Libertarian/attorney/city councilmember who wrote Mr. Head. There was another article in the Greensboro News & Record that quoted the Bar Association's head of communications to the effect that they only ever looked at the two major parties for their debates. I called to talk to him (after Mr. Head refused to correspond with me anymore) to find out who had made that decision. He was very defensive and put out with all the criticism the NCBA had gotten. He said that I, and the other people who had been contacting them, were beating a dead horse and doing more harm than good. He said that we had raised their awareness of the Libertarian Party, and that if we'd just stop complaining, next time they might change their minds. What garbage.

I have to admit that, until Crazy for Liberty published the Greensboro News-Record story I didn't really get what T. J. was saying--hence this post to correct it.

And what better way to end it than to quote the self-serving statements of Mr. Head himself, as well as the obviously unimportant boiler-plate that appears on the NCBA website, which appeared in my open letter to the Executive Director:

I refer you to what was said, upon the instance of your installation as NABE President, to be one of your favorite quotations, from Elihu Root: “It is only through the power of association that those of any calling exercise due influence in their community.”

Your organization has denied that "power of association" to a qualified candidate with an important message for North Carolina voters.

I also refer you to your own statement upon accepting the NABE Presidency: "I try to live what I say is important.”

Here is what your own website suggests is important to the NC Bar Association:

While the public interest was not mentioned in the first draft of the constitution, the proposition was very soon recognized, and incorporated into the by-laws of this Association, so that programs and activities will include and acknowledge the public interest. It is my firm belief that this must always be foremost in our minds. Otherwise, we are but another trade group organized for self-centered and often selfish and provincial purposes.

How is the public interest served by the association representing more than 80% of the attorneys in North Carolina choosing to exclude one of the three ballot-qualified candidates for governor?

An open, democratic electoral process with reasonable ballot access and access to public forums will never exist in this country until people like Mr. Head, Mr. Rawlins, and everyone involved in the NCBA's despicable decision to exclude Dr. Munger from their debate--and then, apparently, to offer at least two conflicting versions of their decision-making process to the public--are repeatedly outed for their anti-democratic tactics.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

June 28, 1963 - JFK Remarks to Irish Parliament

On the 45th anniversary of President Kennedy's historic visit to Ireland, I thought I would share a clip from his speech to the Irish Parliament.

It was less than 5 months before Kennedy was assassinated and there were many indications he was going to be doing some major house cleaning in the intelligence agencies and with the military, leading into a second term. Of course, we'll never know.

Kennedy's rhetoric that summer, up to his death, took on greater dimension in his advocacy of peace and freedom while promoting a cautious path to disarmament and de-escalation.

Considering the state of the world in 1963, statements like this speak volumes about the character of Kennedy's leadership :

"Indeed, across the gulfs and barriers that now divide us, we must remember that there are no permanent enemies. Hostility today is a fact, but it is not a ruling law. The supreme reality of our time is our indivisibility as children of God and the common vulnerability of this planet."

We hear all about the "soaring rhetoric" of a certain big time politician of today, who is oft tossed in with the likes of President Kennedy. Not even I believe just this short clip so crisply demonstrates.

It must have been an incredibly exhilarating time to be involved in politics in the 1960's, until it became a parade of one horror after another.

Kennedy need not be lionized or idealized to see what talented, bright, and conscientious leadership was lost to our country when he was cut down.

Being an Irish-American I can't help but feel a sense of pride about my roots when I watch this.

Kennedy's whole visit is documented in audio and video you can find at the Irish TV website.

I know it's not the Daily Kos or anything....

.... but I just figured out that way back on May 21, 2008, quoted me in an article concerning the Libertarian presidential nomination and the controversy over Dr Mary Ruwart's positions on age-of-consent.

The ever-so-slightly-out-of-context quotation probably won't win me any friends among the radicals in my own party:

Ruwart's is a classic libertarian take — a defense of free will (even for "child performers") and an attack on government prohibitions of any kind. It's also political poison. As libertarian blogger Steve Newton put it, Ruwart and her allies run the risk of turning the party into "the poster child for NAMBLA and the aluminum hat brigade."

The complete post, Dr. Mary Ruwart explains why she should not be the Libertarian Presidential Candidate, was more measured than the ten words that Time chose to excerpt, but it was a good line, and I stand by the original post.

The only problem I have is this: if they quote you on a big-time site (and without a link, damn it), and you don't know it happened, isn't that pretty much a tree falling in the forest that nobody heard?

Especially since nobody in Delaware seems to have ever seen the story.

Ah, well....

Just for my friends at Delawareliberal and Delaware Watch....

There really is a blog that calls itself Libertarians for Obama.

And while I think he's wrong, he's not a nutcase.

Libertarians for Obama? Hillary supporters for McCain?

If anybody thought the fun was over with the primaries . . . think again.

Tom Knapp: Libertarian for Congress, Missouri's 2nd District

The main thing I like about Tom Knapp is that he is honest enough to follow logic where it goes, and he's willing to change his mind when the facts call for it.

Tom initially argued that Libertarians should rally around Barr/Root because they represented the party's legal selection and should have the chance to prove themselves by running a real Libertarian campaign.

He gave them three strikes and then withdrew his endorsement.

I don't agree with him, but I respect the hell out of him for, first, taking and unpopular position, and--second--when the facts proved his position wrong (by standards he had set himself), he didn't waffle. He said, "I was wrong."

As a Libertarian candidate for Congress, Tom is not mincing words, either.

Here he is on immigration:

"Know-Nothingism" is a perennial trend in American politics. It's a convenient tool for drumming up baseless fears and turning those fears into money and votes. Unfortunately, even a few Libertarian candidates for public office have yielded to the temptation to exploit it.

Unlike my opponent, US Representative Todd Akin, I decline to cater to the politics of fear. I support the most "open border" policy possible. Peaceful individuals should be able to cross the border "through the front door" at any port of entry with no more scrutiny than you or I receive when we board a bus or enter a bank (which, if you think about it, is considerable scrutiny -- surveillance cameras are endemic to American society now and facial recognition software linked to databases of known criminal suspects is becoming more and more common).

And foreign policy:

Like all of you, I watched in horror as the World Trade Center Towers fell on 9/11. Like all of you, I thirsted for revenge against the vicious terrorists who murdered 3,000 innocent civilians. And, like all of you, I support defending the United States against those who would destroy it.

Unfortunately, our politicians used 9/11 as an excuse to continue and escalate the very policies which made those attacks not only conceivable, but inevitable. Rather than reconsidering a century of error, they chose to carry that error into a second century.

As well as marriage rights:

I oppose the political exclusion of families from the equal protection of the law, regardless of the gender composition of those families. It is logically impossible to be "pro-family" while simultaneously demanding that government suppress families.

My strong preference is for government to get out of the business of "defining" marriage -- and licensing it -- altogether. Marriage should be treated as a civil contract with no sexual orientation or gender identity exceptions by government, and any religious or spiritual ramifications should be left to those involved, in consultation with their chosen religious or spiritual advisors, to consider.

So long as government does "define" and license marriage, it is not constitutionally empowered to do so in ways that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Missouri's 2nd District is listed by most pollsters as safe Republican, the seat currently being held by neo-con Todd Akin, and the Democrats reduced to offering a motley collection of has-beens and stumble-bums in opposition.

Here's what Representative Akin is proud of having helped Dubya accomplish:

Congressman Akin supported the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. This legislation protects creditors from those who previously used bankruptcy as a tool to cheat their way out of debt....

With Rep. Akin's strong support, Congress passed and the President signed the "Real ID" Act...

Class action and broader lawsuit abuse reform are important for economic vitality and job creation. Congress has enacted a measure that specifically reforms current law related to class action lawsuits. It allows such suits to be moved from state to federal courts, reducing the potential for abuse of settlement awards by juries....

Akin has generally had a stranglehold on this district, polling in the 60-65% range in every election. Tom Knapp is moving forward in an attempt to engage him vigorously on the issues. An unrepentant neo-con who actually brags about helping to pass Real ID can only be met by someone with an equally unequivocal message.

How do you measure victory in such a race? Tom Knapp is seriously running to win, but I am equally sure he knows the score. What I am looking at here, however, is a Libertarian fully capable of offering a real alternative to Akin, who might well be able to shave a good 5% off his usually strong numbers.

Tom is another Libertarian worth your donation on July 4; I hope you'll consider his campaign.

Oh, yeah, and if I didn't mention it, he's a former Marine NCO--which should tell you everything you need to know about whether or not he's tough enough to go the distance.

Delaware's Disgraceful Democratic Governor Does Dirtiest Deed

Like clockwork, the public interest black hole known as Ruth Ann Minner, in service to her manipulative backroom cronies, has vetoed landmark legislation protecting property rights.

I suspected all along that she would pull this move. The fact that she did it on the last possible day, a Saturday no less, says it all about how anti-citizen, monied interests and their political whores will use any manipulation possible to thwart overwhelming public sentiment.

SB 245 passed unanimously in the House and with only one nay vote in the Senate (Democrat leader and union bootlick Tony Deluca).

I sincerely hope the legislators over-ride her veto on Monday.

January can't come fast enough for Delaware. We will be rid of our own version of the Bush administration, with its insidious autocratic power operators and its moronic puppet of a front woman.

I pray people wake up and realize what the Democrats are doing to this state. God help us this state elects Minner understudy / 3rd-rate political careerist John Carney as Governor. Four more years of these people will be the final blow reducing our state to a moribund provincial backwater, run into the ground by the worst and dullest of sorts.

Monday at 4:30pm at the Christian Mall Park-and-Ride free buses will be taking anyone who wants to go to Leg Hall to fight for this legislation. They will return by 8pm.

UPDATE - Another Bus Location Added: 3: 45 pm The bus will depart the crossroads shopping center, Route 9, New Castle Ave. (park near the laundromat).

If you think you can go, please contact Ed Osborne to RSVP by 7pm Sunday 6/29 @ 302-636-0450 or 302-723-1488.

Jason Gatties proves that he is a class act

Jason Gatties, Libertarian candidate for the Lake Michigan College Board of Trustees, has asked that this weekend, in lieu of donations to his campaign, people please send their money to cyclone victims in Myanmar (or, for old farts like me, Burma). [h/t to Last Free Voice]

Funny, I can't imagine Barack Obama, John McCain, Bob Barr, Ralph Nader, or Ron Paul doing the same thing.

Oh, wait, I don't have to imagine it: they didn't do it, or anything remotely like it.

Unfortunately, some Libertarians could not resist using Jason's principled call to indulge in their own partisan fund-raising activities.

So Jason, I'm going to both listen to you and ignore you. I promise you I'll send at least fifty bucks to the relief campaign, but I'm still sending you the ten bucks I promised.

We're Americans. We can do more than one right thing at a time.

Think about what might have happened if all the presidential candidates had gotten together and announced that for one day they were turning over all their donation receipts to Myanmar relief.

That might be change I could believe in.

I'm not holding my breath.

Thanks, Jason, for setting a standard.

Libertarians, Conservatives, and States' Rights: Distinction and Difference

I have been reading lots and lots of candidate web pages lately, and I am struck by how many times Libertarians and so-called "Ron Paul" Republicans take refuge in a States' Rights doctrine with respect to issues like gay marriage or abortion.

Here's one fairly representative example from the site of Chris Dyer, GOP candidate in Nevada's First Congressional District:

I believe that all human life is sacred. I believe matters regarding abortion, homicide, the death penalty and euthanasia should be handled by the voters of the states, not the federal government.

Let's add in a Libertarian for balance, Michael Benoit in California's 52nd Congressional District:

I can not find in the Constitution where the federal government has any authority in this area, and therefore conclude that it should be left to the states.

Please note: this is not a post about abortion. Truth in advertising: I unequivocally support abortion rights for women. I know that other Libertarians don't. This is a post about the use of States' Rights as an argument or blind by Libertarian candidates.

There are two issues to consider here. The first is the Constitutionalist argument that the 9th and 10th Amendments really should mean something, and that any reversion of right from the Federal government to the State governments moves power and authority closer to the people--which is a good thing. There is a certain merit in this position, but--strictly speaking--it's not a Libertarian position at all. Whether the State happens to be the State or the Federal government, or even your town council, if that entity is exercising aggressive power it is something that Libertarians should oppose.

It is also arguable that the state governments are, in many cases, potentially more oppressive and given to undue influence by special interest groups. In Delaware, for example, we actually have a proposed Constitutional amendment (proposed by one Democrat and one Republican--therefore bi-partisan)--to outlaw not only gay marriage but also civil unions. Thanks to heavy union influence we have a prevailing wage law for state construction that diverts millions of dollars each year from school construction alone. And because our corporations buy and sell local politicians for trivial amounts of money by Congressional standards, we have no virtually accountability for chemical plants to pollute groundwater.

Through the years I have come to realize that when most (I won't say all because there are exceptions) politicians want to relegate a sensitive social issue to the States, they really mean something closer to, I oppose this [if it's abortion rights or gay marriage], but I don't want to have to say it outright. Instead, I'm going to say it should be left to the states.

That's what Bob Barr has done on gay marriage, and that's one of the slimiest of his positions.

Because everybody really knows what he personally feels about those disgusting queers getting together with rings to destroy western civilization.

And that, unfortunately, is what a lot of "Ron Paul" Republicans and social conservatives say when they're trying to get votes from Libertarians who ought to hear alarm bells going off in their heads every single time.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Props to Dana Garrett for calling out Senator Obama on FISA

Love him or hate him, over at Delaware Watch Dana Garrett shows integrity by calling out Senator Barack Obama in no uncertain terms regarding his wilt on the FISA bill.

That fact that Obama has disappointed Dana on this issue will not change his support for the presumptive Democratic nominee, but I wouldn't expect a single issue to do so.

I've tried to set a similar standard here: say the good and the bad about the candidates when it's merited, so I appreciate him doing the same.

Here's my whimsical challenge for you, Dana. You've done several posts critical of John McCain's personal life (the infamous c**t episode, etc.). I agree that there's plenty there to criticize. But how about reading about McCain's adoptive daughter Bridget, and letting us know what you think about that aspect of his life? I certainly wouldn't expect it to change your position on his politics, but I also don't think it hurts to take a break from the partisanship of the hour to acknowledge that even our opponents also have honorable sides to them.

But even if you don't take me up on that, Dana--thanks again for the honesty.

Benoit, Druck, Casey: Three Libertarians for Congress

In my recent posts about Freedom Slate '08 I explained why I would not be donating to the multiple-candidate fund-raiser.

However, there are four Libertarians who stand to benefit from that operation, and it is important you know about them.

I've already endorsed and written extensively about LP Georgia Senatorial candidate Allen Buckley, so today is reserved for Michael Benoit, David Casey, and Dan Druck.

Michael Benoit is a dedicated Constitutionalist (not to be confused with Constitution Party member) running for Representative in California's 52nd District. His issue statements are brief, but to the point (although they are usually more explicit about what he opposes rather than what he supports).

Here's a brief, 2-minute taste of Michael:

He comes across indeed as a solid, Ron Paul-type Libertarian, with all the good and bad points that image suggests. He'll need the RP support running against GOP powerhouse Duncan Hunter.

Here's why I want to like David Casey, LP Candidate for Congress in Texas's 24th District: he actually answers questions about what he thinks. When I first visited his website there was no section delineating his position on same-sex marriage; today, because people asked him about it, there is:

Over the weekend, my inbox was filled with many, many letters from constituents belonging to The Center for Moral Clarity, a Christian grassroots group, looking for answers to questions dealing with the recent same-sex marriage ruling in California. They asked the following questions:

1. Do you support the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, or would you support granting marriage rights to same-sex couples?

2. Will you be honest and open about this position in this fall's campaign?

The following is/was my reply:

1. I support each state to have their own hand in deciding the path that they wish to take. Our nation is a union of 50 states, each with their own constitution. The federal government is not in place to decide the morals for each and every one of us.

Therefore, as a representative of my congressional district, I would not find it within my powers carefully defined in the U.S. Constitution to demonize or object to the actions of a state government. I do not believe this is a federal matter at all. If the voters of California choose to accept same-sex marriage as a fact in their state, that is their right.

2. I will be as open as I possibly can, and will post my answers to emails on my website as well.

You know what? I don't agree with his position, but I damn sure appreciate a man who will actually answer a straight-up question. And when you read the answer, it's clear that Casey knew it was not what The Center for Moral Clarity wanted to hear.

That alone makes David Casey worth checking out. (I'd put a picture here, but I couldn't pull the one off his website.)

Dan Druck is running for Congress in Illinois' 14th District. Dan's website is less developed than the other two, so there's not that much depth in the issues. As a Libertarian he appears pretty much a social conservative--again in the Ron Paul mode--but his explicit call for abandoning American imperialism is important to me.

For an interview of Dan, check out Nolan Chart.

There are solid Libertarian candidates like these out there across the nation. Later this weekend I'll try to tell you about some of the Libertarians that Freedom Slate '08 wants to spend your money to defeat.

Via Satellite Uplink from Mom's Den...

Very enjoyable segment, Shirley, David, and Mike!

When the moderator asked "Is it better to be right or be read?", I thought David was going to answer "Better dead than red..."

The New Economy......

Wha-wha-wha-what? Well, if you are lucky you too can be the slave of wealthy foreign born millionaires. Hopefully your new masters will treat you with kindness after your 401K goes belly up.

How Many Americans Actually Work?

When we ask the question on the surface it seems simple enough. Americans work. We like to work. We take satisfaction from our work. Right?

Yes, by and large we do.

But if you Google how many Americans are working in full time jobs you find that the numbers are not what we would expect. It was at this point that I cracked open Dr. Henry Liu, one of the economists I had a chance to study with and unlike the Friedman flat earth folks offered a sobering and starling statistics from the 2007 Department of Labor and BOE statistics:

Socialize Risk to Deliver Privatized Profit

Like their flawed attitude toward risk, the authorities in charge of regulating financial markets and the economy apparently think that inflation-fighting structural unemployment spread over the whole economic system is not damaging to the economy as long as the resultant profit is privatized and concentrated on a preferred selection of financial institutions, even if the privatized profit is achieved by externalizing the cost of risk to the entire financial system through structured finance. Free-market capitalists obviously think that socializing risk or unemployment is not dreaded evil socialism, only socializing profit is.

Drop in Labor Force Participation

Over third quarter of 2007, total payroll employment changes have averaged 44,000 new jobs per month, well below the monthly average of 147,000 new jobs between January and May. In August, employment in manufacturing, construction, and local government education declined, while job growth continued in health care and food services. The civilian labor force edged down to 152.9 million, and the labor force participation rate decreased to 65.8%. The declines were largely due to a drop in labor force participation among teenagers; their participation rate fell to 39.7%. Total employment in August was 145.8 million.

Wait a minute. I had to do a double take when I saw these numbers. That means that since we started on the road of socialized risk privatized profits outside of the generally accepted local market principles of capitalism, or even socialism, we have about half the people employed?That means that we have an average rate hovering around 50% of Americans are unemployed or underemployed!

Well sort of but not quite.Taking into account that these are only workers of working age, in a population of 310-320 million people, it could mean either half the population are retired or children, or too young to work.

No. I checked again.This includes a potential work force of 210 million people. So if we take 210 million people and divide it by 145 million in full employment we see that only 70% of all working age people in the United States are working. Among those a full 20% made up people working at or below the poverty line of $8,900.00 per year that is 29,000,000 people who when we add their families and children made up about 55,500,000 people.

Among the group those who made more than $100,000.00 per year were .09% of the total work force or 103,500 working people. Those who do not work but relied on capital gains for incomes between $100,000.00 to $300,000.00 were not included. Politicians were also not included in this list.

Is it any wonder there is a credit crisis?

Anyone want to discuss this?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Breaking: the Protack/IPOD story garners national (blog) attention

Hey, I can't let Delawareliberal with all its new connections think it is the only piece of Delaware politics hitting the national scene.

Both Ballot Access News and Third Party Watch are now covering the squabble over Mike Protack's nomination by the Independent Party of Delaware. Floyd McDowell is specifically cited, and being a nice guy I threw Liz Allen's name into the mix (you can thank me later, Liz).

...shall not be infringed.

As a Political Theory/American Government major at Georgetown University I took numerous courses from my mentor, Professor George Carey. Carey is a brilliant mind and one of a few if not the only conservative-leaning professors at the University. Freshman year (fall '89) I somehow lucked into being randomly assigned to his American Government intro course.

Carey is no ideologue but a conservative in the intellectual, libertarian, constitutionalist, and federalist senses. I owe him more than any other teacher I have ever known.

He is one of the foremost authorities on the Federalist Papers and wrote a companion book called The Federalist: Design for a Constitutional Republic.

Anyway, in Fall '94 I was in Carey's colloquium Theories of Judicial Interpretation. One day he announced that an upcoming meeting would be in a different room with a surprise special guest. He had said it over several classes but I had forgotten about the special guest when the day arrived.

In walks Justice Antonin Scalia. He spoke for about 30 minutes and spent the rest of the class answering our questions. He was very down-to-earth, witty, and gracious, even staying past the end time to answer a few more.

My question to Justice Scalia : Will the Supreme Court ever take a case and make a clear ruling affirming the 2nd Amendment as an individual right?

He was very candid about how the issue is divisive and highly politicized (at the time the Clinton gun control push was in full swing). He said the Court has long avoided addressing it directly and that he didn't think this would change in his lifetime, or at least his tenure. It was sort of a "wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole" response.

Since that time I have vehemently disagreed with many of Scalia's decisions - in fact, almost all of them since December 2000. But this time he really really got it right.

I am glad the prediction he gave me 14 years ago proved his own hand, no less.

With the recent flow of affirmations of individual rights coming out of 5-4 decisions, I am beginning to think this conservative-liberal majority ping-pong on the Court is working out quite nicely for libertarian jurisprudence.

Political Economy in Laymen's Terms

I got this in the mail today and through you might enjoy it. I thought it was funny.

Political Economic Models Explained with Cows - 2008 Update

SOCIALISM- You have 2 cows.You give one to your neighbour.

COMMUNISM- You have 2 cows.The State takes both and gives you some milk.

FASCISM- You have 2 cows.The State takes both and sells you some milk.

NAZISM- You have 2 cows.The State takes both and shoots you.

BUREAUCRATISM- You have 2 cows.The State takes both, shoots one, milks the other, and then throws the milk away...

TRADITIONAL CAPITALISM- You have two cows.You sell one and buy a bull.Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows.You sell them and retire on the income.

SURREALISM- You have two giraffes.The government requires you to take harmonica lessons

AN AMERICAN CORPORATION- You have two cows.You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows.Later, you hire a consultant to analyse why the cow has dropped dead.

ENRON VENTURE CAPITALISM- You have two cows.You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax exemption for five cows.
The milk rights of the six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Island Company secretly owned by the majority shareholder who sells the rights to all seven cows back to your listed company.
The annual report says the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more.You sell one cow to buy a new president of the United States , leaving you with nine cows.No balance sheet provided with the release.The public then buys your bull.

A FRENCH CORPORATION- You have two cows.You go on strike, organise a riot, and block the roads, because you want three cows.

A JAPANESE CORPORATION- You have two cows.You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk.You then create a clever cow cartoon image called 'Cowkimon' and market it worldwide.

A GERMAN CORPORATION- You have two cows.You re-engineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

AN ITALIAN CORPORATION- You have two cows, but you don't know where they are.You decide to have lunch.

A RUSSIAN CORPORATION- You have two cows.You count them and learn you have five cows.You count them again and learn you have 42 cows.You count them again and learn you have 2 cows.You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

A SWISS CORPORATION- You have 5000 cows. None of them belong to you.You charge the owners for storing them.

A CHINESE CORPORATION- You have two cows.You have 300 people milking them.You claim that you have full employment, and high bovine productivity.

AN INDIAN CORPORATION- You have two cows.You worship them.

A BRITISH CORPORATION- You have two cows.Both are mad.

AN IRAQI CORPORATION- Everyone thinks you have lots of cows.You tell them that you have none.No-one believes you, so they bomb the **** out of you and invade your country.You still have no cows, but at least now you are part of a Democracy....

AN ISRAELI CORPORTION- You have two cows. You forget to support the Likud party in the elections so the state takes both cows and charges you tax and interest for the time you had them.

AN AUSTRALIAN CORPORATION- You have two cows.Business seems pretty good.You close the office and go for a few beers to celebrate.

A NEW ZEALAND CORPORATION- You have two cows.The one on the left looks very attractive

Update: Freedom Slate '08 collects money for the opponents of EIGHT Libertarian candidates

It was wrong when Bob Barr, as a sitting member of the Libertarian National Committee, headed a PAC that donated thousands of dollars to Republican candidates who had active Libertarian opponents.

And if you unknowingly donate to Freedom Slate '08, you will be doing the same thing.

Eight of the Republican candidates who will receive money from donations to Freedom Slate '08 have ballot-qualified Libertarian opponents.

Here are the Libertarians you will be sending money to the GOP to oppose:

Lorenzo Gaztanaga, 2nd Congressional District, Maryland
Thibeaux Lincecum, 4th Congressional District, Maryland
Darlene Nicholas, 5th Congressional District, Maryland
Ronald Owens-Bey, 7th Congressional District, Maryland
Jim Duensing, 1st Congressional District, Nevada
Sean Patrick Moore, 2nd Congressional District, Nevada
Joseph P. Silvestri, 3rd Congressional District, Nevada
Edward Choate, 3rd Congressional District, Tennessee

[These names compiled from the list of ballot-qualified candidates reported in DC Political Report.]

About many of these candidates I know nothing, other than that they are fellow Libertarians who have taken the time and trouble to file for election.

There is also the following:

The Libertarian Party of Maryland supports and endorses the four candidates mentioned above.

Jim Deusning, whom Freedom Slate '08 would have you oppose, is the State Chair of the Libertarian Party of Nevada.

One of these individuals--Thibeaux Lincecum, 4th Congressional District, Maryland--has an amazing website. On it, in the usual issues section, Lincecum not only shows his positions on the issues, but lists those of his opponents. It is worth checking out the segments on the Drug War, Same-sex Marriage, Gambling, Immigration, and the Deficit to see which candidate--Lincecum or Republican Peter James (who is supported by Freedom Slate '08)--appears more Libertarian to you. I think the answer is pretty obvious, but, hey, what do I know? According to anonymous in the last post I am a moron for investigating the issue, and according to disinter (who plans to send Libertarian opponents $1,000 in the best Bob Barr fashion), I am a neo-Libertarian apologist. I think that means I get to replace Keanu Reeves in The Matrix IV, but I am not quite sure.

I am sure of this: No matter what you feel about Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root at the top of our ticket, there is no justification for crapping on eight down-ticket Libertarians in Maryland, Nevada, and Tennessee the same way Barr crapped on Allen Buckley in Georgia.

If you want to donate money to support Allen Buckley, Michael Benoit, Dan Druck, and David Casey--the Libertarian Party candidates who stand to benefit from Freedom Slate '08--I suggest you do it individually through their own sites.

That way, these Libertarian candidates will actually receive all the money you donate, and you will be able to support them without sending money to the GOP opponents of other Libertarians.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Always do your own research: Why I won't be donating to Freedom Slate '08

I've been surprised at the number of Libertarian blogs (including some I hadn't read before) who picked up my post Forty Bucks for four Libertarians on July 4? [I'd particularly like to thank ElNinosMom at Last Free Voice and G.E. at Independent Political Report; by the way, GE, think you could get Austin to fix the login procedure so I could actually comment over there?).

What interested me the most however was this exchange in the comments a LFV.

disinter wrote that instead of following my $10 for each of four candidates strategy

you could donate here:

To which Art Torrey responded,

Took a quick look - and I could be wrong, however NONE of those names looked like any that I recognized from past LP involvement - and most of the organizations mentioned were recognizeable RP groups….

Nothing “wrong” with that per se, but my impression of a lot of RP folks is that they tend to be heavily on the social conservative side, and often times much more problematic from a Libertarian standpoint than RP himself is (which is bad enough by some standards) -

No attack on any of the candidates named, I’m not familiar with them, so I make no comment, other than to advise caution…

Also note that according to the note at the bottom of the page, this is a commercial fund raising venture, with a private company getting an unspecified share of the take raised via that website - again, nothing wrong with that, it’s free market in operation, but you might consider whether the candidates might get more “bang for your buck” if you donate directly to them rather than going through a third party that will keep some of the booty…

And disinter replied (omitting the version that posted incorrectly for the one he corrected):

Took a quick look - and I could be wrong, however NONE of those names looked like any that I recognized from past LP involvement -

Nope, and every one of them are more Libertarian than Bob Barf.

and most of the organizations mentioned were recognizeable RP groups….

Yes, they are all Ron Paul Republicans - that are more libertarian the the LP’s prez candidate.

If you're a regular reader, you know I'm a skeptic. So I went to Freedom Slate '08 myself, and examined the web sites of all 23 candidates, each of whom has signed an agreement with FS '08 to give that web site a portion of the proceeds rather than receiving every dollar you send. [This, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing; for some of these candidates a percentage of money they'd never otherwise see is certainly better than nothing. I've just always hated professional solicitation organizations.

More to the point, however, is the slate of candidates.

Only four of twenty-three candidates who will benefit from your donations are actually Libertarian candidates (Allen Buckley, Michael Benoit, Dan Druck, and David Casey).

One of the twenty-three candidates (Dave Brownlow) is a Constitution Party of Oregon candidate.

One of the twenty-three candidates (Allen Stevo) lists himself as an Independent.

The other seventeen of twenty-three candidates who will be receiving part of your money are Republicans. disinter claims that they are Ron Paul Republicans, and several of them make that claim on their sites.

However, there are some more disquieting items to consider.

Several of these candidates (and if you want to know who, you're going to have to your own research or else spend your money blindly) put forth immigration policies that are on a par with, or even less Libertarian, than that recently promulgated by Bob Bar.

Several of them are inflexibly anti-abortion rights and willing to use the power of the State to enforce their views.

Very few of them actually talk about social issues like same-sex marriage or the war on drugs, and more than a few describe themselves as conservative rather than libertarian/

Worse still, of the seventeen Republican candidates, seven of them (Peter James, Delia Lopez, Collins Bailey, Mike Hargadon, George Lilley, Chris Dyer, and Dean Santoro) do not describe themselves as GOP candidates anywhere on their sites that I could find. [It is possible I missed it, but I went through multiple pages on every site.] I actually had to Google each of them to get their filing status to discover that they were GOPers.

I know that eight years of Dubya has trashed the Republican brand, but I remain profoundly wary of somebody who will run as the candidate for a party he or she is not willing to identify. Certainly Ron Paul has made no bones about the fact that he is a Republican; and I admire him for that honestly.

I just wonder how somebody stands up for your rights in Congress if he or she cannot even admit to being a member of an unpopular political party.

As for the three Libertarians aside from Allen Buckley (about whom I have already written much and endorsed), I know little or nothing about Dan Druck, Michael Benoit, or David Casey. I will, however, remedy that deficiency and have a report by the weekend at the latest.

As disinter suggests, voting for individual candidates who will advance the cause of freedom without respect to party labels is a legitimate strategy.

This year, however, it's not mine--for three reasons.

Reason one: I'm still interested in building a national Libertarian Party, not reforming the GOP. To do that I need to encourage people who actually have the courage to run as Libertarians if that's the value set they endorse. Moreover, at this point I simply don't know if those seventeen Republicans, one Constitution Party member, and one Independent have Libertarians running against them. So, no matter what, I would not even consider donating to them until I was absolutely sure I was not engaging in the same behavior that Bob Barr displayed when he chose to give money to GOPer Saxby Chambliss over Allen Buckley in the Georgia Senate race.

Reason two: I hate the United Way. Really. When I give to charity (or political candidates) I want all the money to go to exactly the causes or the candidates I prefer.

Reason three: it's hypocritical for me--or other Libertarians--to deride Bob Barr for his waffling on same-sex marriage, the war on drugs, or the Patriot Act, and then blindly send money to candidates who--in many if not most cases--have not published stands on those issues. From a reading of the positions of at least four or five of these candidates, there is absolutely nothing in their position on social issues that sounds even vaguely Libertarian. And I am--I'd hasten to point out--such a pragmatic Libertarian that a lot of people have trouble thinking of me as one.

So I won't be sending my pitiful pittance to Freedom Slate '08, and if my opinion sways you at all, neither will you.

Damn it, pick out candidates you have actually researched.

Don't be another mindless lemming. There are already millions of them sending money to the Demopublicans.

Dear Mr. President.....

Dear President Bush,

You are not the decider. Congress is as per Article I section 8 of the Constitution. Enjoy the end of your term in office.



Georgia Senatorial Candidate Allen Buckley takes aim at Saxby Chambliss

Libertarian Allen Buckley has issued three new press releases, taking the fight directly to goofball (and Bob Barr funding beneficiary) Saxby Chambliss.

This is excellent strategy, as multiple, weak Democrats are still fighting among themselves over the nomination, and--in a mark of rare journalist fairness--the Atlanta Journal-Constitution always accords Buckley equality with Chambliss in stories about the Democratic fracas (particular kudos to staff writer Jim Tharpe):

The five Democrats face each other in the July 15 primary for the right to run against Chambliss and Libertarian Allen Buckley in November.

So Buckley is the only person out there right now free to focus on the abominable Chambliss record--and he's doing it.

Two of his press releases focus on a Libertarian strategy for supporting a conversion from fossil fuels to hydrogen fuels and on the Chambliss failure to even comprehend the problem (he comes out and calls Saxby's position crazy).

The third release deals with Buckley's support for grassroots property-tax reform, and the rather obvious absence of his GOP competition from that field.

Active campaigning is one of the reasons I intend to support Allen with at least a little of my hard-earned cash.

How about you?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

An explanation for "Libertarian" Republicans: the success of the Surge in Iraq has nothing to do with victory

Eric Dondero's Libertarian (huh?) Republican is making a great deal these days out of belated MSM reports that the Surge in Iraq has reduced daily violence and apparently increased social stability.

Here are Eric's concluding sentiments:

Liberals are falling all over themselves nowadays to admit they were wrong on the Surge. So much so, in fact, that as Brooks points out, they've taken to the line of it's time to bring the boys home due to that success.

The only hold outs these days seem to be the Anti-War Libertarians who still to this day stubbornly refuse to acknowledge Bush's success in Iraq: Ron Paulists,, Anthony Gregory, Justin Raimondo, Eric Garris, Thomas L. Knapp, Doug Bandow, Dave Boaz, the Cato Institute foreign policy team, Reason Magazine, and many others on the leftside of the libertarian movement. They just can't bring themselves to admit they were wrong.

I'd guess that I qualify in Dondero's book as a Left Libertarian, despite the fact that I'm a military historian, spent 21 years in the US Armed Forces, and nearly a decade working on homeland security issues.

And while I'm sure that Reason, or Cato, or Thomas Knapp will eventually explain it for him, the advantage of being a small-time operator is the flexibility to respond quickly.

The Surge was and is a tactical/operational change in the tempo and focus of American operations in Iraq, intended to be time-limited in terms of resource commitment to achieve a specific end: creating an atmosphere of temporary stability for the US-backed Iraqi government to get its act together.

I do not dispute the tactical insights of General Petraeus, the courage and abilities of my brothers and sisters with boots on the ground, or even the fact that the surge has achieved its short/medium-term goal.

None of which changes the following:

Long-term prospects for stability in Iraq, especially in the fantasy pro-US Iraq that was to be the lynch-pin of a grand strategy to remake the face of the Middle East are no better than they were three years ago because the long-term dynamics of the situation have not changed. Iraq is organized into a weak federal government system that is inherently ill-equipped to maintain internal peace in the cultural dynamic of three major ethnic/religious groups caught within the artificial confines of a common nation-state. The stability prospects of this state are poor regardless of the presence of Al Qaeda or other outside influences.

The effectiveness of the Surge has not in any fashion reduced the influence of Iran in the region. Quite the contrary, the Surge has, by making the Iraqi government look even more like American lapdogs, convinced many moderate politicians throughout the Middle East that some sort of independent counterweight to Western influence. Moreover, the increasingly unilateral nature of Israeli posturing toward Teheran continues to erode both stability and US credibility in the region.

There continues to be absolutely no evidence that "fighting the terrorists over there keeps us from having to fight them at home". The lack of large-scale terrorist action against US territory is attributable not to operations in Iraq, nor even primarily to many of the more ridiculous security measures adopted domestically (taking off my shoes in the airport); the primary deterrent to Islamic terror in the US remains logistical. Men who spend their days sitting in caves pulling fleas out of their blankets, no matter how many laptops or Swiss bank accounts they have, cannot maintain a significant operational tempo against the continental US. They can at best try for long-shot gamble every few years.

The fact that a specific tactic within the context of the war is working is not an ex post facto justification of an interventionist war in the first place. In other words, if it was neither advisable nor ethical to conduct a near-unilateral intervention in Iraq, then--guess what?--even winning the war doesn't make it right. What it does do is make the use of unilateral American military might more seductive to politicians, corporations, and ideologues of all stripes.

There are more reasons, but I'll let it rest there.

The point, for our Republican friends who mistakenly think they're Libertarians, is that the hard-won tactical victory won at significant cost to my brothers and sisters in green is a barren one, that will rank with other squandered victories like Operation Junction City (Vietnam, 1967) or Huertgen Forest (ETO 1944).

Forty bucks for four Libertarians on July 4?

Here's what I would like to propose to my fellow Libertarians, especially those who are skeptical/hostile toward the top of the Libertarian ticket this year.

I'm cheap, and we've got a household of six people and two cats to consider, so large political contributions are out of the question.

On the other hand, even I can pry loose a measly forty bucks on Independence Day (or the day before; see below).

And here's what I plan to do with it:

Send $10 to Dr. Michael Munger to support his campaign for Governor of North Carolina (but I'm sending it to him on July 3, because that's the date of his money grenade--see the left side of the blog).

Send $10 to Allen Buckley to support his campaign for Senator in Georgia (hoping to offset the Barr PAC's $3,000+ donations to Saxby Chambliess).

Send $10 to Scotty Boman to support his campaign for Senator in Michigan (if he gets $500 from this, maybe he can go to court to add a "W" to his name, which would be worth at least another 25,000 votes--inside joke, eh).

Send $10 to Jason Gatties to support his campaign for the Board of Trustees of Lake Michigan College (because, as a state-supported professor I really wish our trustees were elected).

You might think that $10 doesn't make a damn bit of difference to these candidates.

But you'd be wrong.

It's not even so much the money as the profound message you'll be sending them that other Libertarians around the nation are watching their races, rooting for them, and want to help build a different kind of national political party.

These, by the way, are my candidate picks, people I've researched and can support. Feel free to find your own--but find four candidates around the country that you're willing to support.

And if you're flush--or willing to forego the second keg before the fireworks--send them each twenty bucks.

I can't really think of anything better to do with the money this year.

Battle of Carabobo

Today is the commemoration of the Battle of Carabobo on June 24, 1821 when Simon Bolivar broke the back of the Spanish empire in the Americas with the help of his British and Irish Regiments against the forces of the Spanish General field Marshall Miguel De Torre.

It was one of the single most decisive victories of the entire Napoleonic era and led to the removal of royalist Spanish forces from Colombia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Paraguay while San Martin liberated Argentina and Chile, Uruguay! A land mass as large as 3/4 of all of North America was effectively set free between 1810 through 1842!

Just as our Declaration of Independence set in motion the freedom of the Americas from English colonial power, the Battle of Carabobo effectively helped end Spanish colonial domination by European powers of the western Hemisphere!

Following his victory, and with the establishment of a congress for Gran Colombia here was Simon Bolivar's statement:


The oath I have just taken in my capacity as President of Colombia represents for me an act of conscience, which further places me under the obligation to submit to the laws of my country.

Only a profound sense of respect for the will of the people could compel me to submit to the onerous position of Supreme Magistrate. The gratitude for so doing which I feel emanates from the representatives of the people, moreover, imposes upon me the pleasant duty, to continue in the service of my country, to defend, with my possessions, my blood and my honour, this Constitution, which cements the Rights of Man, joining them in the cause of freedom, the public good, and glory. The Constitution of Colombia, together with her independence, will constitute the Holy Altar on which I shall make the necessary sacrifices. For her I will march to the very edge of Colombia to break the chains which bind the sons of Ecuador, and, making them free, invite them to join her.

Sir, I hope that you will authorize me to join together, in beneficence, those peoples which nature and Heaven have made our brothers. Once this work, born of our wisdom and my zeal, is done, nothing will remain for us to achieve but peace, so that we may give to Colombia its rest and its glory. Therefore, Sir, I preach you ardently, do not show yourself deaf to the call of my conscience and my honour, which bid me loudly to remain solely a citizen. I feel the necessity of quitting the Presidency of the Republic, which the people hold as the Master of their Hearts. I am the son of war; a man brought to power only by dint of combat; fortune has kept for me this rank and victory has confirmed me in it. But these are not the titles consecrated by justice, good fortune, and the will of the people.

The sword which has governed Colombia is not the scales of justice, but the whip of misfortune which, sometimes, Heaven lets fall to Earth to punish tyrants and boastful nations. That sword serves no purpose when there is peace, and this should be the last time I am permitted to wield it; so I have sworn to myself, because I have promised it to Colombia, and because there can be no Republic where the people cannot wield power. A man such as myself, is a dangerous thing in a popular government; my existence is a clear and present danger to the sovereignty of the nation.

I would wish to be a citizen, a free man, so that all may be free men. I prefer the name of Citizen to that of Liberator, for the latter being born of war, the former is born of law. I beseech thee, Sir, I should give up all my titles, if in exchange I could procure but one: that of The Good Citizen.

Simon Bolivar

Senator Quayle, I knew George Carlin, and he was no Tim Russert (thank God)

Perhaps I am in the unappreciative minority, but I seriously consider the loss of George Carlin to be a more important passing than the death of Tim Russert (see Waldo, I was listening [reading?]).

Russert contributed to the incessant 24/7 political news cycle that has become more and more depressingly shallow as it becomes wider and wider.

George Carlin--to an extent that modern comedians from Jay Leno to Steve Colbert have failed to advance--taught us all to have more of a sense of humor about our sacred cows.

George Carlin (in a way that no one of his contemporaries except possibly the early Richard Pryor or the Firesign Theater) taught us that ridicule of our morals, our religion, our enemies, and our most sacred beliefs is not only a good thing (and funny), but is also a necessary component of a functioning democracy.

Here's what George taught me:

I have a friend (in this case not Waldo) who drops by here from time to time, who is a professional colleague. Several years ago he converted to Seventh-Day Adventism in what was not a death bed conversion, but more aptly described as a marital bed conversion. For those of you who don't know, Seventh-Day Adventists, aside from missing the Saturday morning cartoons because they are in church, don't eat meat, eggs, or the small white boxes that Chinese take-out arrives in.

My friend, however, follows the ancient Biblical prescription (it's in his Bible; it's just in pencil) that "chicken consumeth in a Subway restaurant uponeth a sandwich when eating with a colleague and thy wife is out of towneth is not considered to be meat in the eyes of God."

One day I found him at the office photocopier squinting over a document with incredibly fine print.

"Ah," I said. "Near-sightedness. First symptom of egg-white deprivation."

You are not allowed in our society to make fun of people's bizarre religious habits, any more. And George let us know in our pomposity that this is a bad thing.

This cultural cowardice about religious humor actually keeps us from examining important questions about the impact of religion. Atheist authors like Sam Harris (The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation) and Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) generally lose their readers--even potentially sympathetic readers--because they write about religion with the fanatical, joyless fervor of Cotton Mather with a wedgie.

Nobody wants to read them (except equally devout and humor-challenged atheists) because they are tedious and boring.

You can't even make fun of Islam or terrorists these days, despite the fact that there is a lot of material out there, and the even more pertinent fact that it might have a positive impact on our conflict with Islamic extremists. Dean Ing wrote a prophetic SF novel (Soft Targets) about 25 years ago, in which he argued that the best way to deal with terrorists in a free society is to subject them to public ridicule.

Think about it for a moment. We're seriously taking off our shoes in airports (and I'm here to tell you there has been NO upsurge in the sale of Odor-Eaters) because a bunch of guys whose idea of a good time is f**king goats in a cave in Tora Bora have declared a jihad against the greatest nation in the world where every eleven-year-old boy with internet access can find pictures of Britney Spears with no underwear before she porked up.

So yeah, these nineteen guys (who spent their last months stuffing ten dollar bills into the g-strings of transvestite stripers while praying five times a day in the general direction of a big black rock in a city with no air conditioning) managed to hijack four planes and kill a lot of Americans.

What did we do? We made them into some kind of fearsome, mystically powered evil ninjas who could materialize anywhere and by blowing up their feet could bring us to our knees.

What should we have done? How about we point out the fact that these guys were geeks and losers, and that if any of them had ever had the moxie to get laid they'd have known that they should have picked a religion that promised you seventy-two experienced, double-jointed nymphomaniacs instead of whining virgins who still have veils over their faces for reasons I think we all know.

And if this offends you, in the spirit of George Carlin, I have two words for you.

Tough shit.

Greens grapple with the same issue of building a real political party

At Z-Net (via Third Party Watch), Dr. Kim Scipes, a sociologist at Perdue University North Central and Green Party member, discusses the same transformation for that party as I have been discussing here: how to turn an issue-oriented movement into a real political party.

Intriguuing--ideological differences aside--Scipes makes many of the same points that I've been making about the Libertarian Party, especially that such a party has to be built by running credible candidates for major Federal offices at the State level:

Yet I'd suggest there is a way forward. First of all, a snowball has a better chance in hell than a Green president has in being chosen this year. And even if a miracle happened—and it truly would take a miracle—we couldn't back her/him up in Congress to get anything done. And the American people know this—as do, I suggest, most Green Party members.

However, I think where there is the best chance to win—and there are many factors—would be in Congressional races, especially if a Green can win in a district where both mainstream candidates are conservative.

Winning a Congressional seat would increase Green exposure dramatically, especially in any state where it happened. And it's "high" enough in position where it would draw attention.

So, what makes the most sense to me as a way to proceed is this: individuals who want to run can do so upon meeting the respective State party's requirements, but they have to be dependent on their own resources. However, where the Party should focus its members' efforts, its resources (including financial), and its energies is where there are the largest congressional district concentrations of Greens in the state and where good candidates can be recruited to run: and then the Party needs to organize these members to make a strong run.

All I can think of to add here is the modest note that great minds think alike.

Just thought you'd like to know. . . .

. . . that one of the countries on the UN's list of the ten least stable nations in the world is a nuclear power.

The list (with the worst at number one):

1. Somalia
2. Sudan
3. Zimbabwe
4. Chad
5. Iraq
6. Democratic Republic of Congo
7. Afghanistan
8. Ivory Coast
9. Pakistan (the one with the bomb, if you didn't know)
10. Central African Republic

The other grim irony on this list is that the only three countries on this list outside of Africa have one thing in common: US military and/or political intervention since 2001.

Funny, that.