Sunday, August 31, 2008

Eric Schansberg actually takes tough questions from voter!?

The Jackson County [Indiana] Banner recounts the town meeting recently held by 9th Congressional District Libertarian candidate Dr Eric Schansberg at which he (gasp, sputter) actually stood up and just answered people's questions.

After his prepared statement, Eric threw the floor open to the voters:

The first question Dr. Schansberg fielded was about illegal immigration. Though not his “favorite issue”, he said policy should be to deal with the reason immigrants enter the country illegally. “We need to penalize employers who hire illegal immigrants,” he said.

He went on to say that he’s a fan of legal immigration, though the process often deters people from legally moving into the country. “I’m for a high wall and a large gate. We need to streamline INS procedures. If you want people to do the wrong thing, make the right thing hard to do,” he said.

He was questioned about the Fair Tax and the flat tax, both of which he said are “improvements”. Another person asked about opening a new 9/11 investigation, which the candidate effectively dodged by saying he “hadn’t studied it enough to comment”.

Another questioner asked if he supported subsidizing alternative fuels. “As a Libertarian, I don’t want to take your money.

There’s no Constitutional basis for it. There’s no reason to ever do it in my worldview,” he said. “Why not keep your own money?”

He went on to say that the weak dollar can be turned around, with a change of leadership and more conservative policy from the Federal Reserve.

“Bush and Congress have been spending like drunken sailors. Actually, they make drunken sailors look like spendthrifts,” he said.

On the education front, he was to the point. When asked about No Child Left Behind, he replied, “Get rid of it.” He explained that he favored a system where competition can exist, like a charter school system. “Any competition is a good thing. If you inject competition, the market will take care of itself.”

What I liked about this coverage is Stephen Crawford of the Banner didn't pull any punches: when Eric ducked the question on a 9/11 investigation, Crawford called him on it. In other words, he treated the Libertarian just like any other politician. What I also like is the fact that Crawford didn't go out of his way to note that only a small group of voters showed up for the event (a fact that has also plagued Schansberg's Demopublican rivals). Good job, there.

What I liked about the town meeting itself is what I said at the beginning: no filters and damn little hyperbole on the part of the candidate.

This is what I think, this is why I think I'm a better choice than my opponents.

Probably too boring for some, but the grunt work of democracy can be that.

Politics in America hits new lows: Sarah Palin's children and God sending Gustav to New Orleans

I'm not even going to post about either of these stories beyond this:

If you want to read about progressive and liberal Democrats tying themselves up into knots trying to avoid sounding like they actually purchased subscriptions to celebrity tabloids, then visit Delaware Liberal and look through the bars. [Please note that both at DL and the DKos these are the same people who ran with the completely unfounded Sussex County story of a young Muslim girl being harassed over Barack Obama's religious affiliation, and who--even when the story was discovered to lack foundation--did damnall little to set right the avalanche of abuse they lit off.]

If you want to see that the Democrats have now fully invited God into the political arena on their side (after spending years condemning the GOPers--and rightly so--for doing just that), then visit Becky the Girl in Short Shorts.

But in both cases take a barf bag with you.

From one family's potential personal tragedy to the ongoing tragedy of the people living on the Gulf Coast, it has all now become fair game for both major political parties.

And they wonder why over 40% of American citizens don't even turn up to vote.

Let me be clear: if you're chortling over Republican discomfiture at the scheduling of their convention during a hurricane rather than quietly donating to the Red Cross or your church relief fund, you're scum.

If you would love nothing better than to see a political opponent's family (Sarah Palin's) unravel in pain and agony on the front pages of the tabloids and in the blogs, you're scum.

The same is true if you joined in trashing Elizabeth Edwards, or partook in attacks on Barack Obama's children.

In the grand world of big government, heartless corporations, and individual victimization, you can't be responsible for much any more, but you are responsible for your own compassion and empathy.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Brian Shields' new blog: The Mourning Constitution

Regular DE Blogosphere commenter (and Libertarian) Brian Shields has taken the plunge with The Mourning Constitution, increasing the quotient of individual liberty and rational discourse in the Delaware blogosphere.

Go. Bookmark. Read. Argue. Enjoy.

Welcome, Brian.

If we're going to fight a war for oil, can't we at least do it competently?

Or should we just sit back and watch as China feeds its authoritarian, human-rights-abusing, environmentally disastrous government a big helping of light Iraqi crude?

See, as a Libertarian I applaud the right of the Iraqi government to do what the hell it wants to do with the oil that is a sovereign Iraq's property.

But as a good American imperialist (in the manner of GHW Bush, Bill Clinton, Dubya, John McCain, and even Barack), damn it, I expect that when my government literally sends in the Marines, Will Rogers-style, that we get to keep the goddamn oil we rightfully stole.

The idiocy of the Sarah Palin media-fest (and other delusions of Demopublican candidates)

Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska and now Senator John McCain's pick as his Veep, has been undergoing the usual media anal exam, which is a singularly unpleasant if accurate metaphor to use for the highly partisan examinations of the new candidate's qualifications.

Of course, no Democrat finds her qualified (with the possible exception of Hillary Clinton), no Republican has any problem with here (except if the Republican in question thought he was about to get the nod), and the media doesn't know what the hell to do with her except criticize her career aspirations as causing her potentially to neglect her children (thanks, John Roberts).

What this all overlooks is the non-partisan fact that none of the four individuals running is actually even remotely qualified to be President of the United States.

That's the disgusting true story of the election of 2008.

We have three Senators running--members of the only governmental organization with a lower approval rating that the current Presidential incompetent (or did I mean "incumbent"?; nah, just leave it).

In fact, that's pretty much the only way a Senator can get to be President of the United States, unless he runs as Veep and is lucky enough (Harry Truman, LBJ) to succeed a dead boss into office. JFK is the exception that proves the rule: he only beat the most unpopular sitting Veep in two decades by the skin of his ass and several thousand Chicago voters extending their pallid hands from their coffins to vote for him.

Senators who lost: Barry Goldwater, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, [former Senator], Ted Kennedy [in the primaries] Walter Mondale, Bob Dole, [former Senator] Al Gore, John Kerry. Particularly the Democrats have this tendency to become befuddled by Senators, nominate them, and then lose with them.

On the other hand, former Governors do quite well: Jimmie Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Dubya. In fact, the only real losers as governors have been Carter in his second election (and it was a damn sight closer than most people today recall) and Michael Dukakis (who appears to have been a good governor, but not even that could overcome that stupid photo in the tank, and that painful answer about his wife being raped).

In fact, over the past 4-5 decades, former Governors have, with only Carter as an exception, gone on to become two-term Presidents. Why?

One reason is that governors actually have a tangible record of what they could and did accomplish in an Executive position. Senators have a record of posture and nuance, of deals made and bargains struck. And they don't actually run anything more than a committee or two.

Now back to our four unqualified candidates (and remember, please, I'm an equal opportunity despiser, because I'm not voting for any of them):

In order of experiential seniority:

Senator Joe Biden--despite the fact that I disagree with his perspective--probably has legitimate claim to the foreign policy knowledge necessary to be Secretary of State, but not President. Why do I say that? Joe has the knowledge to carry out a plan, but not the insight necessary to develop one. It was Joe Biden who wanted to send a few billion dollars to Iran right after September 11, Joe Biden who wanted to balkanize Iraq into three countries [hint; if it was not a justified invasion, Joe, then where's our mandate for carving up the country in bold defiance of UN positions?], and Joe Biden who wanted our soldiers, SEALs, and Marines committed in a bloody, long-lasting war of attrition in the mountains of Afghanistan.

On the domestic front, Joe Biden does not bring any whit of moderation or balance to the Executive Branch, being consistently rated (depending on who is doing the rating) as one of the top five most Liberal Senators (along with Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and Russ Feingold [holding the Paul Wellstone Chair]). He is far enough to the Left that he will have tremendous problems--just like his boss--in working with centrist Democrats.

And he has exactly zip zero nada Executive experience either in the public or private sectors.

But his teeth have been bonded.

Senator John McCain (who is actually junior to Biden) can claim to have been a Wing Commander in the US Navy; unfortunately, that was over 35 years ago. His grasp of foreign affairs is as shaky as his willingness to use force unilaterally is firm. He has no Executive experience in government or the private sector.

Governor Sarah Palin (you could flip a coin for her and Barack to settle last place) at least has been a Governor for about as long as Barack Obama has been a Senator. Unfortunately, where libertarian-leaning Republicans see a small government enthusiast, I see a pure social conservative. How does she do under fire? Who the hell knows>

Senator Barack Obama has no foreign policy experience, no Executive experience, and--despite the ardent claims of his backers--no legislative record to speak of. He has charisma, the usual set of faceless corporate Democratic backers, and--as Hillary Clinton says--"a speech he gave in 2002."

It is a sign of our desperation that millions of people are seriously considering entrusting the leadership of the most powerful nation on Earth either to a man with a good speech and no experience, or a man with 35-years' membership in the world's most well-publicized debating societies.

Irony: we had Governors on both sides with plenty of experience: Bill Richardson, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee--and yet the voters rejected them.

The real story of Election 2008 is that there are no well-qualified candidates running for President.

[And, no, Waldo, don't hand me the Abraham Lincoln/James Buchanan example, again. Even the complexities of the Civil War are not a valid comparison with today's world. I realize that any one of these four could abruptly blossom into the Greatest Leader of Recent Memory--it has happened before--but I really hate to have to count on that.]

Here's the real rub: if the presidential candidates are cyphers--and to a large extent I think the top two are moreso than their Veeps--then what we should be looking for is the shadowy people in the background.

Who are (surprise, surprise) the same people on both sides who have been there for the past three decades.

You might as well vote based on whether you want to elect the first woman or the first African-American to national office, because there really isn't a rational reason otherwise to support any of them....

Friday, August 29, 2008

Yeah, that's going to be me this weekend

OK, so I must be a plutocrat like John McCain because my wife and I saved and invested carefully enough to afford a condo in Lewes. (I got Tony Rezko to buy the one below me for more than market value, so that it all evened out.)

No internet. No cable TV. No Greek temples facades that I though (honest!) when I first saw it looked more like and old set from The Price is Right.

And no more idiotic posts about Sara Palin from any direction.

I'll have internet connections at night on occasion, so I will check in here and post occasionally.

But mostly I'll be enjoying the ill-gotten fruits of capitalism before the taxman comes and takes it all away.

Barack Obama deconstructed

This link is for those of you who visit from out-of-state, and may not have any idea that Duffy exists.

A line-by-line, devastatingly accurate commentary on Senator Obama's speech at the DNC,

News Journal covers LPD Convention

It's not up on the website yet, so I can't link to it until later, but on page 3 of the Local section in today's NJ Beth Miller covered the Libertarian Party of Delaware convention, mentioning all of our candidates.

Go check it out.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

When fuzzy dice become probable cause...

There are a lot of places you could go to read this story, but nobody will tell it better than RC at Big Bend Bikers for Freedom:

Federal Court Rules Driving with Air Fresheners is Suspicious.

Federal appeals court rules that motorists can be stopped for 30 minutes and searched if they are nervous and use an air freshener.

Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson IIIA federal appellate court ruled last week that police can delay a routine traffic stop as long as necessary to conduct a search for drugs. In its decision, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the validity of a thirty-minute traffic stop in Maryland because the arresting officer claimed the nervous driver had an air freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror and had previously been spotted driving in a run-down neighborhood.

O.K. so if you want to read the rest of this gig you can go here. But do you really need to?

Cause like here's the gig, when the courts decide that nervousness+air freshener=sufficient cause for stop and search then no more needs to be said.

It's one of the reasons we took a few days off from posting. When the citizenry of this country feel like it's o.k. for police to search your ass because you got a damn air freshener hanging from your rearview mirror well then hell, everything we write on this here little site is pissing in the wind.

[Shaking winky to get the last few drops off...]

Remember, RC, the warning signs have been there all along.

Electing Tyler Nixon: Gerald Brady and the Unions

Here's an interesting question for voters in Delaware's 4th House District.

Fact: Gerald Brady is employed as the Executive Director of the Delaware AFL-CIO.

Fact: Gerald Brady has solicited and received over $5,000 in campaign contributions from unions (including the Delaware AFL-CIO) over the past two years.

In 2006:
Delaware AFL-CIO--$600
Political Education Committee, Local 1238 IBEW--$300
ABC Educational Fund Local 27 [Baltimore MD]-$100

In 2007:
FOP State PAC--$200
PAC Local Union No. 451 --$200
Local 42 PAC Asbestos Workers --$300
Delaware Building Trades --$200
Bricklayers & Allied Crafts Local 1PA/DE PAC Fund--$600
Plumbers & Pipefitters Local No.74 PAC--$600
Wilm Police/Fire Pension Task Force--$100
ABC Educational Fund Local 27 --$100
F.O.P.State PAC Fund--$400
IUOE Local 542 --$400
Carpenters Local #626 --$600
IBEW Local #313 --$300
Politial Education Committee, IBEW local #1238--$300

Grand total (not including what Gerald has socked away so far in 2008): $5,200

Now the question: How is it not a conflict of interest for the Executive Director of the Delaware AFL-CIO to be soliciting and receiving campaign contributions from the organizations he is paid to coordinate?

Democrats--both liberal and progressive--are encouraged to try their hands at this one.

There will be a test later.

Libertarian/Republican Tyler Nixon for the Delaware House of Representatives!!

Let's Be Like Europe: And ban fire extinguishers

This one is several months old, but is one of my favorites from Nanny Knows Best, chronicling the folly of creating a Progressive State in England wherein the government has the power to use force to DO GOOD.

And the good they're doing? Banning fire extinguishers because you might try to use them (so help me) to put out fires:

It transpires that those appliances that you and I assume are there to help us fight fires, fire extinguishers, are a clear and present danger to our health and safety.

That at least is the view of Nanny's chums in Hamilton Townsend, managing agents for a block of flats in Bournemouth.

A risk assessment (pass the sick bag) was recently carried at Avon House and Admirals Walk by a buildings risk assessor, these people make a very nice living on the back on Nanny's rules and regulations (under the Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 the managing agents of every private block of flats must hire professional assessors to carry out a risk assessment).

The risk assessor recommended that the fire extinguishers be removed, as they are dangerous.


Seemingly these extinguishers may delay householders from escaping a blaze, and may be dangerous if they are used by untrained opportunity for some wide boy to charge us money to "train" us to use these things!

Rather bizarrely this report has the support of Dorset Fire and Rescue Service, to the extent that extinguishers have already been removed from the two blocks.

The hapless residents of Admirals Walk were informed in a letter from their managing agents that:

"unless all residents are trained to operate the fire extinguishers, there is no legal requirement to maintain these in communal areas of residential blocks".

Pete Whittaker, the protection policy manager at Dorset Fire and Rescue, said:

"As part of the assessment, the assessors now look to see whether fire extinguishers are actually required in that particular block. In some cases, they are no longer needed and provide more of a hazard being there.

We do not want to encourage people to leave their flat to fetch a fire extinguisher from a hallway and then return to a blaze. We want people to get out safely.

Obviously in some cases, an extinguisher could come in useful in a communal area but with new building regulations, every escape route should be completely fireproof. It very much depends on the individual property and what the assessor believes is the correct course of action."

Yeah, this is exactly the kind of empowered government we need to bring to America.

[The scary part is that if you check back here in a couple of months, some twit will actually have left a comment gently explaining to me that the British authorities are correct: average citizens shouldn't try to use complex equipment in dangerous situations--or run with scissors.]

A Libertarian Contract with America in 2010? Some backstory

George Donnelly, who did what LP national has yet to do in putting up a website dedicated to tracking our State and local candidates, has another idea.

He's interested in creating a Libertarian version of the Contract with America that Newt Gingrich used so successfully in 1994 to support our candidates in 2010.

Here's a smattering of George's intro (more designed to incite conversation than to be a close expression of his own beliefs):

The Republican Contract with America is generally believed to have not only helped the Republicans take over the House in 1994, but also put President Clinton on the defensive....

The Concept Of Accountability Was The Only Revolutionary Aspect.

But it was a real softball. The only revolutionary aspect to it was the implication that politicians might be accountable to their constituents.

Significant Pledges To Shrink Government

So, I propose a Libertarian contract with America, and one with real teeth - significant pledges to take action that will directly shrink government and increase freedom for people in these United States.

I have tentative plans to run for an Eastern Pennsylvanian Congressional seat in 2010, so this is not an academic exercise.

The Pledges

Our contract would not be a stack of limp-wristed procedural nonsense no one cares about, but instead actions that, if successful, would bring America back from the precipice it currently finds itself hanging over.

There follows George's initial attempt at a rough draft at such a contact (you'll have to go visit his site to check it out).

In this spirit, I sent George a fairly lengthy, rambling reply about the background to the original Contract with America. George suggested that I post it, so that we could hold this discussion in public for comment from anybody. Most of it follows below, but not quite all. To be honest, I fell asleep in the middle of a sentence, and when I went back and reread the last paragraph it was obvious that I was heading downhill. So I have exercised editor's privilege and dumped that part.

It's not formal, and it doesn't have a neat ending, but I think it does begin where we need to begin:

Let’s talk about an LP Contract with America [LPCon hereafter].

While I think it is a great premise, I have to start from my background as a historian, and note that your apparent disdain for how “soft” Newt’s original Contract was could be a misreading of what the Contract with America was meant to be and do, and the care with which Gingrich had it structured and promoted. So bear with me: I’m going to do a history lesson. Quite possibly you know much or all of this, but it will be new to other people we draw into the discussion.

The original Contract with America had two distinct roots: one ideological and one political, and it owed a tremendous amount of its success to a combination of fortuitous timing and a great deal of cold political calculation.

Ideological root: The Contract stemmed from the basic ideology of Gingrich’s college course “Renewing American Civilization.” Basically Gingrich crafted an historical narrative that based successful periods of American history on specific conservative values (small government, individual liberty, strong morals), and interpreted the period from the mid-1960s-1994 as an anomaly in our history—a time when we moved away from founding principles [with the exception of the Reagan years].

Gingrich developed his backstory, his faux historical narrative in smooth terms, having one sound-bite version and one more academic-sounding. He taught the course numerous times from the 1980s forward, and conceived of a multi-point strategy for disseminating those values. This is that strategy (from Nigel Hamilton’s Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency):

1. Knitting together trade associations and activist groups that agree the want to replace the welfare state into an active movement.

2. Developing a national news media strategy that explains the concept of renewing American civilization so reporters, editors, and citizens can understand it.

3. Getting Republican activists committed to renewing American civilization, to setting up workshops built around the course, and to opening up the party to every citizen who wants to renew American civilization.

4. Identifying, publicizing, and knitting together Republican elected officials at the city, county, and state levels who are already developing specific building blocks to transform or replace the welfare state.

5. Identify, recruit, encourage, publicize, and knit together the activists in business, community service, and government who are already instinctively applying the principles of renewing American civilization.

Eventually, some but not all of the key underlying ideas of Renewing American Civilization would go into the Contract with America, but it is important to stop and think about the overarching concept behind it. That concept was two-fold:

1. A movement between definable historical states of society: from the Welfare State to the Opportunity Society.

2. A contention that this change was non-ideological; Gingrich claimed that it was instead pragmatic—i.e., change was necessary because what we were doing (in a very nuts and bolts sense) was not working.

Let’s break away from the intellectual foundation to the political opportunity.

We tend to forget—because he so got his shit together in a political sense from 1995-2000—that Bill Clinton’s first two years in the White House were pretty much an unmitigated disaster.

1. He had only won by a plurality and there was a huge Perot vote out there that nobody could predict which way it would go; therefore Clinton had questions of political legitimacy to deal with.

2. Both his foreign policy and his economic policy were driven by committee without a strong hand either from Clinton or a chief of staff; therefore the man who had been elected on a clear campaign promise (“Putting People First”) was seen as drifting during his initial term. There was a lot of talk by 1994 that Clinton would be a one-term President.

3. The timing of the Contract with America: Gingrich announced it immediately on the heels of the defeat of Hillary-Care. Clinton still had not realized how badly he had been damaged in the health care debacle, his own party was in disarray, and as a result the GOP came out looking like the only organization in town that actually had a plan.

The takeaway here: a large measure of the success of the Contract with America had as much to do with perceptions of failure on the part of the Clinton administration and the immediate failure of the healthcare initiative. Without those aspects, the impact of the Contract would have been seriously diminished.

The Contract itself was a carefully crafted political document.

It is important to recognize that to Gingrich the Contract was never anything more than the means to an end: electing a GOP majority [in fact, he anticipated it would not bear fruit until 1996].

As such he subordinated almost all ideological concerns with the Contract to concerns of pragmatic politics; to wit:

He decreed that no item could be included in the Contract unless that item was polling with at least a 60% approval rating around the nation.

That’s why he left out abortion, school prayer, etc. As much as Gingrich wanted those things, he knew that they didn’t pass the 60% rule. When Gary Bauer came to Gingrich and demanded one of the ten planks be turned over to social conservatives, Gingrich told him no, explaining that the Contract was a vehicle to get into power, and that they’d take on those issues later. In the meantime, he hit up Bauer for $1 million to help promote the Contract.

Gingrich also had the wording of the Contract carefully tested: he didn’t want to use ideological terms like “liberals,” and he found out that to most people the term “government” included their town or county governments, which they mostly approved of. So, instead, he used the word “Washington” everywhere he could, and created the self/other dichotomy of “Washington” versus “the rest of America.”

There was significant theater involved: Gingrich got 375 GOPers on the Capitol steps with him to announce the Contract: Congressmen, Senators, and candidates.

There was massive advertising money involved: Remember the hardback book on the Contract? I probably still have a copy around somewhere.

Go back to timing: Gingrich intentionally launched the Contract in a mid-term election, because conventional wisdom is that the Party in the White House almost always loses ground in mid-terms; so even if the Contract had little effect there was a good possibility of some GOP pickup that he could claim as victory.

My point: the Contract with America was radical in terms of political theater and nationalizing the House elections for the first time in recent memory. It was not radical at all in terms of what it called for; Gingrich carefully restricted it.

So what implications to I draw regarding an LPcon?

1. The mid-term election of 2010 is the best time to use this strategy. There should generically be incumbent backlash, and we wouldn’t have major national candidates sucking all the air out of the room. Further, I predict that (a) the GOP will still not have solidified any real message; but also that (b) it is very likely that either an Obama or a McCain presidency will be in its roughest period.

2. We cannot match the numbers the Gingrich could turn out in terms of candidates, nor do we have even the faint possibility of acquiring the kind of power that comes with a House majority. The stakes we are playing for are much smaller: good percentages and maybe one or two seats actually won. However, with a properly organized recruitment campaign we could have 50, 75, or 100 candidates running on an LPcon, and if we could get a press conference image somewhere like in front of the National Constitution Center with 100 candidates behind the unveiling, we’d get press.

3. We cannot match the resources Gingrich had at his command, because we simply don’t have the money. My dream would be to have $500K in the bank and be able to give a $5000 campaign donation to every candidate who signed up; but that calls for some heft fundraising over the next two years and a centralized control I’m not sure the LP could ever muster.

4. But the most difficult conclusion I draw is that to be successful such an LPcon has to be the vehicle for winning and not the vehicle for ideology. This is certainly a real tough sell among Libertarians, who tend to see winning as selling out, or broadening the message to reach non-Libertarians as abandoning core principles. I share some of those feelings, but I am not insensible toward looking carefully and critically at tactics that could actually change the face of American society.

OK with respect to the actual LPcon, what does this mean?

First, my conceptual frame (paralleling Gingrich’s welfare to opportunity) would be something along the lines of moving from the old Cold War doctrine of containment to the Reagan doctrine of rolling back Communism. That “roll back” would be achieved either through (a) resistance to new State incursions or (b) initiating new limitations on government.

Remember, if we’re running 50 or 100 candidates we’re not even talking about a majority if everybody wins—so it is difficult to talk persuasively about what we would accomplish. But that leaves us plenty of room to talk about what we would block.

Thus there is a part of me that would phrase the whole LPcon in purely negative terms.


“We will not support any defense appropriations that do not include scaling back America’s vast overseas empire of bases by at least 50%.”

“We will not support any legislation or regulation that employs ‘Federal blackmail’ to coerce the States into adopting mandated policies like reduced speed limits, increased drinking ages, or Real ID.”

-------end of that email but lacking real end-----

excerpt from George Donnelly's reply:

I remember liking the CWA because (1) it was specific about what they would do with my vote and (2) the concept of accountability was introduced in a big way. Most candidates are vague about what they'll do and don't commit to much.

I agree with the pragmatic aspects. I don't necessarily consider running on popular issues to be pragmatic, in the negative sense of the word.

If the job of a Representative to the US Congress is to represent the interests of his/her constituency, then isn't there a certain amount of principle involved when he/she advocates for those interests?

What we can add to just advocating for perceived interests of course is some backbone and a filter that doesn't allow "bad" proposals to get through, among other things.

Kind of vague, I know. I'll work on expressing that more clearly.

Regarding fundraising, I was thinking we might want to setup a PAC, come up with some original appeals for funding (see Sean Tevis, Dem candidate for KS state house) and direct people to the PAC website where they could donate once and it would be distributed in some fashion among the candidates who have signed on.

I absolutely agree about being a vehicle for winning and not ideology or education or just earning the difference between the top 2 candidates in our races and declaring victory.

I'm a fan of Ayn Rand, so my principles are rather radical. I take the
initiation of force prohibition extremely seriously.

But I think incrementalism is the way to reach my goal. I like your idea of finding where voters are and leveraging that in order to take some small steps towards greater liberty. That is a great idea.

Do you know any good sources for that kind of polling data?

If people can't grasp that we just will not get from here to total liberty in one fell swoop then we can do this without them. I am
certain we can write a platform/contract that hits those sweet-spots without compromising principles.

The ideas in my blog post were just what occurred to me in order to get a discussion started. I'm not necessarily attached to them at the hip.

I feel strongly about social security, medicare and medicaid though. The entitlements are going to eat us alive if we don't do something about them soon.

I wonder how much support there is out there for allowing people to just opt out of social security, for example.

I wonder how much we want to tend towards taking safe-ish positions that give the glow of the CWA and instead focus our resources primarily on just campaigning well?

It's not something that inspires me especially, but we want to play this to win.

----end of George's response-----

Comments? This needs to be an ongoing discussion, here there and everywhere.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Too big to be allowed to fail: Amtrak, Chrysler, United Airlines . . . Republicans and Democrats?

You'll probably never hear this one in the MSM, what with Bill trying hard not to spit every time he says Barack's name, but....

It appears there is a legal case to be made that neither John McCain nor Barack Obama should be on the ballot in Texas come November 4.

Apparently, Texas changed its law a couple years back to require names to be submitted to the Secretary of State not 60 days before the election, but 70 days.

And there is some uncertainty as to whether the GOPers and Dems even submitted placeholder petitions, with the intent to substitute actual names after their conventions. [They could easily have submitted Obama and McCain as the main candidates, but the law requires VPs as well.]

I suspect that either (a) we will discover retroactively that they filed something; or (b) a carefully purchased Texas judge will simply set aside the law ala Frank Lautenberg's illegal replacement of Bob Toricelli a few years ago in New Jersey; or (c) at the very worst they'll find a way to call the legislature back into session to amend the law.

Because, quite simply, even if the Republicans and Democrats actually did screw up and fail to obey the law, there is no way in hell they are going to let Bob Barr walk off with 34 Electoral votes.

Which raises a really interesting point about our nation of laws, not of men.

Why is it that States are allowed to jerk around third parties--Libertarians, Greens, Constitutionalists, Independents--on all sorts of ballot access technicalities, and to use every trick in the book to keep them locked out of the process, but can't wait to bend over and grab their ankles if the Demopublicans (God forbid) miss a filing deadline, a replacement deadline, or mess up some other technicality?

George Orwell had the answer in Animal Farm: "All animals are equal. Some animals are more equal than others."

Take heart, Democrats and Republicans--voters really ARE stupid enough to believe what the government tells them

The latest story about the TSA Gestapo wanting to grope a woman with an underwire bra didn't interest me half so much as some of the comments:

Carolyn said...
Happened to me once in Detroit airport right after 9/11. Humiliating and unnerving. So now I have a special bra with no underwire that I always wear when I fly. Clothing manufacturers take notice: use plastic for underwire rather than metal!

Thanks Carolyn--we'll just change all out clothing choices to get permission to fly.... said...
Just a suggestion...

I have stopped wearing large metal bracelets and necklaces as well as belts with large buckles when I travel to expedite my time going through security. To avoid any problems, perhaps all of us who are well endowed should forgo the underwires on travel days--a sports bra or non-underwire might be the solution to avoid those pesky pat downs.

Yeah, limabean, it's obviously OUR problem.... said...
doesn't that woman realize it's for her own (and everyone else's) safety? What's a little pat-down compared to that? Let's get real here folks!

petra also believes that when the government told us there were WMDs in Iraq.... Never mind.

Citiroze said...
Well, I feel that if something you're wearing or packing sets-off sensitive equipment..., then it needs to be checked--rightfully so.

In the interest of safety, I feel that the inconveniences of a few justify the overall safety of the whole. It really is that simple. SAFETY FIRST.

Add to this the fact that the system isn't perfect, so there will inevitably be some glitches, frustrations, and seemingly over-the-top behavior along the way.

Besides, until there can be an "Intention Scanner" for everyone wishing to board our federally regulated highways, by-ways, and airways, then understand that public safety is the goal! And, if you miss a flight in the process of checking-out something suspicious, it's unfortunate, but rather necessary in my book!!

What every good progressive should want: an Intention Scanner. And not just for air travel but highways, too!

citirose, someday read Philip K. Dick's Minority Report or David Drake's Lacey and His Friends.

Well, never mind, you wouldn't get it.

So much for thinking the average American voter might realize that both Obama and McCain are peddling large loads of crap.

More Georgia conservatives turning toward Allen Buckley

Jim Wooten of the Atlanta Journal Constitution notes that another well-known Georgia conservative has deserted Senator Saxby Chambliss for Libertarian Allen Buckley:

[Joe] McCutchen, of Ellijay, is widely known and highly regarded in conservative and Republican circles as a passionate advocate for fiscally responsible government. Pork sends him up the wall. Hidden debt dumped on the grandchildren invites his wrath. He’s loyal to Republicans until they cross him on core principles. Then he’s gone. “They’re nice guys,” he says after identifying members of the Georgia congressional delegation, “but I can’t vote for them.” In the U.S. Senate race, he’ll vote for Libertarian Allen Buckley, convinced that incumbent Saxby Chambliss is a big spender, particularly on farm programs.

Columnist Wooten goes on to praise Buckley's fiscal plans:

Buckley will appeal to fiscal conservatives, regardless of their party affiliation. The 47-year-old lawyer and certified public accountant is the voice of the Depression-scarred generation that feared debt and believed that it’s immoral to consume at the expense of children and grandchildren. It’s a rather quaint notion in a self-indulgent age where splurging for immediate consumption is the national sport. Debt? Why worry? The Republican Party was once largely filled with those who considered it their civic duty to come in and tidy up the mess created by free-spending Democrats. At some point, however, they came to conclude that there was no long-term majority to be built being the fiscal disciplinarian. For the most part, they have surrendered.

As Buckley correctly notes, neither Democrats nor Republicans can muster the political will to make cuts. Buckley has charts, drawn from the General Accounting Office and other authoritative sources, spelling out the looming “economic catastrophe.” Between 2000 and 2006, the financial exposure from Medicare, Social Security and other health and pension obligations increased from $20.4 trillion to $50.5 trillion, he says. That amounts to $400,000 per full-time worker.

Analysis of the GAO’s budget simulations by the Peterson Foundation finds that in two decades the 18.3 percent of GDP that the federal government consumes won’t cover interest on debt, Social Security and Medicaid, he says, with accompanying charts.

But in the end Wooten himself--while admiring McCutcheon and others who have made the switch to Buckley--can't do so himself:

Can he win the Senate race? No. At most he can take enough votes from Chambliss to deliver victory to Democrat Jim Martin. Given Republican Senate prospects elsewhere, Democrats could wind up with a filibuster-proof majority. That would be enough to swing the courts far left and to create any entitlement liberals want.

No thanks. The stakes are too high.

Ross Perot taught me a lesson about third-party candidacies. None for me.

I was going to comment on how this incredibly stupid ending essentially spoiled the whole piece, but a reader did it for me:

Wooten’s article is a perfect summary of why you small-government conservatives will never be taken seriously.

Because, in the end, you’ll always vote for the Republican candidate anyway! The party leadership KNOWS they can take you for granted, so they do.

Spewing online or talk radio about how angry you are at Big Spending, while steadfastly refusing to actually do anything about it, means you can be ignored. The GOP owns you; you’re their property, their beeyatch, just like the Religious Right has always been.

Because they know, for all your whining, you’re not gonna do anything about it.


The damnable thing is that if everybody in Georgia who admits that Allen Buckley is right about our impending financial collapse actually voted for him, he'd win.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Libertarian Republican picks up story of LPD fusion nominations

Most of the time Eric Dondero and I don't see eye-to-eye on many issues, but I appreciate his picking up the Libertarian Party of Delaware fusion nominations of Tyler Nixon and Jesse Priester in a larger post at Libertarian Republican about fusion candidacies nationwide.

Thank, Eric.

Scotty Boman shows up in Michigan polls

As we move closer to Election Day, Libertarian candidates are starting to show up in the polls. This is not necessarily because they are suddenly gaining adherents from zero, but because the pollsters have started to include them.

Michigan's Libertarian Senatorial candidate Scotty Boman, for example, has been working away, but only recently has his name been included in polling in the State's 7th and 9th Congressional Districts, where he is pulling down 2% and 3% respectively.

Statewide polls still have not included Boman, but are consistently showing a 5% vote for Other, a category including Boman, Green Party candidate Harley Mikkelson, Taxpayer Party candidate Mike Nikitin, and Natural Law Party candidate Douglas Dern. Mikkelson, Nikitin, and Dern, however, only score a combined 1-point-something in the 7th District and a combined 3-point-something in the 9th, which suggests that Boman's numbers are probably running in the 2-3% range across the State.

Bob Barr, on the other hand, appears to be tanking. In June, Zogby had him at 6%; in July Greenberg-Quinlin-Rosner put him at 3%; and in August Epic-MRA dropped him to 1%. This is possibly not so much due to anything Barr is or is not doing, but represents a break away from third-party candidates in a tightening Obama-McCain race [several polls suggest Obama's strong 7-point lead has dropped to 2 points; this equates with the 5 points Barr has lost].

Georgia conservative blogger drops Saxby Chambliss for Allen Buckley

From Daniel at Down Right:

I finally found him. I have finally found someone who will actually stand up and answer the tough question of our national debt. As I have stated many times, my generation is facing a personal debt of $175,000 per person if we don’t do something fast, and Allen Buckley, the Libertarian candidate for Senate in Georgia, is offering a solution....

[there follows an excerpt from Buckley's financial plan]

Although I have stated previously that it is important to keep Democrats out of office and is usually best to vote for a Republican, I plan to support Mr. Buckley in November. It is absolutely necessary to address this problem, and Buckley’s campaign, if nothing else, will attract attention to this failure in Washington. By cutting spending, pork projects, entitlement projects, and a few government agencies that are unnecessary, people like Allen Buckley can put America in a position to succeed in the future. I’m excited that this has already gained attention on the AJC’s website, and I hope it continues to gain traction.

Monday, August 25, 2008

But, of course, it's OK when we do it....

From Al Jazeera this post of Dubya warning Russia not to recognize the breakaway Georgian provinces:

The US president has warned Russia not to recognise Georgia's two breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

George Bush said on Monday that Russia's leadership should "meet its commitments and not recognise these separatist regions".

"Georgia's territorial integrity and borders must command the same respect as every other nation's, including Russia's," he said.

Bush's statement came after Russia's parliament passed resolutions calling for the recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states on Monday.

Without commenting on the relative merits of Georgia vs South Ossetia/Abkhazia, I'd only point out that we were quite willing to recognize Kosovan independence in February 2008 against Russia's protests when it suited our foreign policy agenda.

And, of course there's Joe Biden's old plan to break up Iraq into three countries....

So the rule of international law is to be: Sub-national independence movements may only be recognized by the US. All other such recognitions are examples of territorial aggression.

Which goes a long way toward explaining why we need 7-800 military bases on foreign soil to enforce this doctrine.

Libertarian Party of Delaware gaining coverage nationwide

Since the Saturday LPD convention, we've been gaining considerable attention both in-State and nationwide.

Last Free Voice ran our press release in its entirety.

Ballot Access News picked that up, and did its own story on our use of fusion candidacy.

George Donnelly's Libertarian Party Candidates 2008 has now updated the Delaware page to show Tyler Nixon (Tyler, I screwed up with the upload of the photo; he'll add that tomorrow) and Mark Anthony Parks; they'll add Jesse Priester as soon as he sends his info

Mike Matthews at Down with Absolutes has picked up my revelations about the special interest fundraising bonanza enjoyed by Tyler's opponent Gerald Brady.

The News Journal has promised me coverage within the next day or so.

Pretty good so far; but let's see what else we can do.

Explaining the difference between the 2nd and the 4th Amendment to our Liberal friends

jason at Delawareliberal posts the following about Democrat Jack Markell's latest plans:

Today Jack Markell joined community leaders and public-safety advocates Monday to release his plan to make Delawareans safer in response to the recent escalation of gun violence.

I have just skimmed it so far, but I really like these practical common sense steps which DON’T INFRINGE ON ANYONE’S 2ND AMMENDMENT RIGHTS.

One of the proposals was the following:

LAUNCH A “PARENTAL CONSENT TO SEARCH AND SEIZE PROGRAM”: to help police and parents work together to stop youth firearm possession. Through such an effort, police will seek permission from a homeowner to enter a home in search of illegal firearms belonging to juveniles and, if found, the illegal firearm is confiscated but no gun possession charges are filed. When this was tried in St. Louis, consent was given nearly all the time and half the searches turned up firearms – with 510 weapons seized and taken away from youths during an 18-month period.

Yeah, Jason, you're right: this proposal to confiscate illegal firearms doesn't violate the 2nd Amendment--it only trashes the 4th.

You remember the 4th Amendment, don't you, Jason?

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Here's why, by the numbers, why this is such a bad idea:

1. If the police had a reason to believe that a juvenile in a specific house possessed an illegal firearm, then they'd be able to show probable cause and get a warrant. You recall warrants, don't you Jason? They are those things that the FISA sell-out allowed the government to get away with not having used. You know, when you bitched about shredding the Constitution and all that?

2. If the police don't have a reason to believe that a juvenile in a specific house possesses an illegal firearm, then the only way they could be doing such searches is either through area sweeps or profiling. In other words, this gives the police the ability to conduct fishing expeditions based on no evidence acceptable in a court of law.

3. There is a reasonable presumption that most parents agree because the police represent the power of the State, and that especially poor people and minorities will have good reason to believe that saying "No" to such a supposedly voluntary search is without potential consequences, not the least of which will be getting labeled by the police as uncooperative.

4. The plan suggests that any firearm found would be confiscated without charges being filed. This is (technical term, wait for it) utter horseshit. Even if the police officers believe this, there is no way they can actually carry through. Why? Three situations:

A. The weapon is identified as one that has been used in a felony. Even if the police are somehow barred from using the weapon itself as direct evidence in court, they now have a pointer to a suspect that they otherwise would not have had.

B. Eventually the information regarding these weapons will become public knowledge. Therefore, let's assume that the weapon in question has been used in a homicide but the police can't make the case because of evidentiary laws. However, nothing will stop the relatives of the homicide victim from filing a wrongful death lawsuit.

C. If the weapon is illegal and was obtained through theft or illegal sale, the police may not be able to charge the juvenile, but have now been empowered through a relaxation of 4th Amendment protections to go after the person who sold the gun, or who lost the gun and did not report it.

Thus, in multiple situations this program will inevitably lead to prosecutions and lawsuits that occur because the 4th Amendment has been almost fatally wounded.

5. Perhaps the scariest part about this is the open-ended nature of the violation of the spirit of the 4th Amendment. If weapons, why not drugs? If drugs, why not stolen property? What we are doing here is moving the bar a very long way from presumed innocent until proven guilty toward a need for you to demonstrate your innocence rather than for the State to prove your guilt.

Frankly, Jason, this is such a Constitution-shredding idea that I'm surprised even you bought it.

But I guess if you raise that red-flag term "guns" in front of a Statist Liberal, you can pretty much trick them into surrendering just about any rights you want to take away.....

Hell Doth Freeze Over: Michael Munger now in THREE debates

From the Munger campaign:

On Saturday, an invitation arrived from UNC-TV. Mike has accepted the invitation to participate in two debates on public television, Sept. 24 and October 8.

This adds momentum to the effort to include Dr. Mike in ALL the debates. Previously Dr. Mike was invited to one debate, in October, at Queens College in Charlotte. The campaign staff was apprehensive that one candidate would cancel at the last minute and thereby scuttle the event. So the UNC-TV invitation is especially welcome: the terms of the debate say that the event goes on, even if “not all” candidates accept. This means it would be very risky for Bev (say) to decline, giving Mike and Pat a show of their own.

We still have other debates and events that are excluding Dr. Munger. Please visit the campaign website for information on how you can help.

Meanwhile, BlueNC, the leading Progressive Blog in the Tarheel State, finds itself now taking a Libertarian candidate seriously, even when they disagree with him. Latest is their discovery that Mike Munger's position on immigrants receiving in-state tuition is completely different from the major party candidates. What's the post called? Sanity on Immigration from Mike Munger.

Three debates, more newspaper coverage, radio appearances....

What Mike Munger is proving is that a well-rounded Libertarian candidate with good public presence and a command of policy issues can be competitive if we can ever find a way to raise the money to promote him.

Allen Buckley jousts with Neal Boortz about Fair Tax on CNN

Here are the clips, thanks to Brian Shields

CNN Video:

Video 1:

Video 2:

The first step is to get your ideas considered mainstream enough to be included in the daily norm of political discourse.

That's what Allen Buckley is achieving.

McCaiin and Obama's America: Not just into military empires

We all know that the hundreds of US military bases across the world are draining our taxpayer dollars while extending the reach of a Statist, Corporatist, interventionist foreign policy.

But did you know that the Drug Enforcement Administration trains people to break down doors and shoot dogs (or whatever they do) in this many countries:

Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Canada, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Paraguay, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, Suriname, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Turks & Caicos Islands, Haiti, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Thailand, Mongolia, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caldeonia, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Wallis & Futuna, Western Samoa, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Malaysia, Kiribati, Nauru, Philippines, Burma, South Korea, Brunei, East Timor, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, Laos, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Greece, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Bahrain, Chad, Dijibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Libya, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Oman, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Russia, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, Czech Republic, Germany, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, Western Sahara, Channel Islands, Ireland, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom, Azores, Balearic Islands, Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Gibraltar, Portugal, Principality of Andorra, Spain, Spanish Enclaves (Ceuta & Melilla), Algeria, France, Monaco, Morocco, Tunisia, Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Italy, Malta, Montenegro, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Netherlands, Poland, Austria, Belarus, Hungary, Moldova, Slovak Republic, Ukraine

No? Think of this knowledge as another public service of Delaware Libertarian [courtesy Drug War Rant], and imagine a Federal budget without the war on drugs.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Electing Tyler Nixon: What Needs to Be Done

For the State of Delaware, and for the Libertarian Party of Delaware, I consider the race between Libertarian/Republican Tyler Nixon and Democrat Gerald Brady to be the most important contest of the year.

So at the risk of being Verbose [thanks for stroking my ego, Shirley], I am going into some detail on what it will take to put him in office.

Here's the key comment Tyler made on Saturday at the LPD convention:

“It’s time for government to stop regulating the American people, and time for the American people to start regulating their government.”

He went on to talk about the Wilmington/New Castle County Instant Ticket program, under which bureaucrats can walk onto your property and assess you an instant $50 fine, which you can appeal only to the agency writing the ticket.

"This is the concept of judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one," Tyler told delegates, "and from every perspective it's simply wrong."

By his actions in supporting HB 161 [See Delaware Way's Misguided Bill is a Bad Deal for Wilmingtonians], Tyler's opponent, Democrat Gerald Brady, has indicated he thinks it's perfectly okay to levy these sort of unaccountable fines on Wilmington residents.

Aside from championing limited government and individual liberties, Tyler has demonstrated a long-running commitment to open government at all levels ["As long as there's a desk drawer veto, there is no Democratic process"]; renewable energy ["It's frustrating to see politicians come in a cherry pick the credit for wind power, when some of us have been working on this for years"]; and eminent domain abuse ["It's not really your property if the government can seize it for virtually any reason at all"].

These are ideas, and Tyler's is the passion for change that we need in the Delaware General Assembly.

But what's it going to take to put him there?

First, let's talk about the votes.

Brady beat Gary Linnarducci in 2006 with 54.9% of the vote (4053-3317); that's a 736 vote margin. Linnarducci won 6 of 19 precincts, but that's somewhat deceiving, as four of the nineteen precincts showed fewer than 50 people voting.

This was actually not a stellar performance for the Democrats, as the registration in the district is 44.4% Dem, 32% GOP, and 23.6% "Others" [including 35-50 registered Libertarians]. Thus, of 6,839 registered Democrats, at most 4053 turned out to vote for Brady, probably less. Of course, it was an off-year election.

In 2006, 9526 voters turned out in the 4th District election, going Republican (DiPinto) by 57.8%. But ticket-splitting is obviously popular in the District, as John Kerry racked up 60.2% of the Presidential vote while Mike Castle received 71.4%, and Ruth Ann Minner took 54%.

Two big lessons here: (1) Given the nature of this year's Presidential contest, expect a high voter turn-out, meaning that Tyler will certainly need at least 5,500+ votes to win; and (2) he will need a way to distinguish himself personally from Gerald Brady, and convince not only Republicans, but also Independents, Libertarians, and even a few hundred Democrats to pull the lever for him.

The second thing you have to know is that it's all about the money, although it's not all about the money.

Let me explain. Financial reports for the 2006 election show that Republican Linnarducci out-raised Gerald Brady. His repeatedly amended reports suggest that he raised in total something like $23-26,000. Between his primary race and the general election, reports here, here, and here suggest that Brady raised in total something like $18,000.

Again, however, appearances can be deceiving. Linnarducci had to work pretty hard at his fundraising, with the average contribution running around the $150-200 range. For Brady it was a different story; his was a campaign primarily funded by special interest groups, unions, and out-of-state donors. Some salient examples:

Exxon Mobil Corporation--$500
ALTRIA Corporate Services-$600
National Communications Inc--$600
Delaware AFL-CIO--$600
Delaware People {??}--$300
DEL PAC--$600
WSFS Financial PAC-$100
Hammer & Nails Club--$600
Political Education Committee, Local 1238 IBEW--$300
ABC Educational Fund Local 27 [Baltimore MD]-$100
John Corrozi [Landenburg PA]--$600
Christopher and Maria Buccini of New York City--$1200
Louis Capano Jr and Louis Capano III--$1200
Total: $7300

The Hammer & Nails Club, by the way, is the PAC representing the interests of Delaware's largest corporate builders.

The Delaware P. E. O. P. L. E. Committee is a shadowy Democratic fund-laundering PAC that claims in 2006 to have taken in between $11-16,000 in donations, all but $200 of which was in amounts under $100, thus exempting it from reporting who was giving what. The Delaware P. E. O. P. L. E. Committee then wrote big checks to Democratic candidates around the State.

While we don't have current reports for Brady in 2008 yet [he didn't face a primary challenge], he continued apace through 2007, raising another $16 K, again heavily relying on special interests, unions, and out-of-state donors; again some highlights:

FOP State PAC--$200
Winner Auto Group--$600
AIA Delaware PAC--$100
Del Healthcare Assn Health Exec Action League--$100
PAC Local Union No. 451 --$200
Local 42 PAC Asbestos Workers --$300
Delaware Building Trades --$200
THE PAC--$100
Artesian Water--$100
Delaware PEOPLE--$600
Bricklayers & Allied Crafts Local 1PA/DE PAC Fund--$600
Delaware Racing Association--$600
Del Bank PAC--$100
DELPAC Assn of Realtors -- $100
Plumbers & Pipefitters Local No.74 PAC--$600
Henry Topel & Co.--$600
Wilmington Trust Corp PAC --$100
Alford Hamilton Associates --$100
Delaware Standdardbred Owners Assoc --$200
Civic Affairs Construction Council --$100
Wilm Police/Fire Pension Task Force--$100
ABC Educational Fund Local 27 --$100
F.O.P.State PAC Fund--$400
NCC Chamber of Commerce--$200
Beverly Bove Atty at Law--$100
Maxwell & Assoc --$100
Meissner Marketing Consulting --$100
United Distributors of Del LLC--$200
Sunoco Inc, Corporate Political Contributions--$200
IUOE Local 542 --$400
Carpenters Local #626 --$600
IBEW Local #313 --$300
Wilmington Professional Associates--$100
Politial Education Committee, IBEW local #1238--$300
Doctors for Emergency Service P.A. --$100
Staves Landing, Inc. --$175
DSEA Advocacy Fund for Children & Public Education--$200

Wow! There doesn't appear to be a union local, corporation, or other special interest that Gerald Brady hasn't visited in the past year with his tin cup. That's $10,175 from the special interests just in 2007 [and I'd point out that I didn't have time to run down the affiliations of some of his larger individual contributors--again, quite a few of whom hail from out of state.

Nor, interestingly enough, can I find a Brady report of a $200 contribution from Verizon that the corporation says it sent him in 2007. Hmmmm.... [Kind of makes you wonder what else might be missing, and later . . . amended, doesn't it?]

So while his coffers are certainly bulging (there's no reason to think he suddenly stopped making the rounds in 2008), we already have enough information to ask voters of the 4th District:

Exactly who is Gerald Brady representing? You, or the special interests paying his campaign bills?

But ill-gotten or not, those funds will give Brady a huge--potentially prohibitive--edge in retaining his seat, unless we find some way to help Tyler equalize the situation. I'll be offering some ideas on that in the next few days.

Meanwhile, the other resource Tyler desperately needs is volunteers. The only way to get out those potentially friendly votes [when Barack Obama and Joe Biden will be doing surrogate work for Brady without even thinking about it] is to hit the bricks and canvas the district. House by house. Assume for sake of argument that there are an average of two voters per house, and that Tyler has the list of all registered Republicans and Others. If he needs 5,500 votes, he'll have to hit 2,750 houses in the next six weeks. That's 458 house per week. Assume that he can put in 4 hours a day four days a week and 8 hours on each weekend (notice I did allow him to sleep), that means he's at absolute best got 36 hours a week to hit 458 houses, which is 13 calls an hour. Can't be done by one man, even as charismatic as Tyler.

Haven't got money? What about time? Are you willing to walk with Tyler, learn how it's done, and maybe even go solo for a few hours?

If we could find twenty volunteers who would each agree to do 10 hours of canvassing for Tyler in the next six weeks, that would be 200 extra hours, and potentially the chance for his message to hit another 2-3000 voters.

Suppose that we hit 3000 registered Republicans and got 20% of them who didn't vote last time to come out for this election?

That would be 600 votes--most of the difference that Linnarducci lost by in 2006.

We could help make this happen; we could really have our first Libertarian in the Delaware House of Representatives.

But that would mean that every Libertarian who came to the Saturday convention would have to get off his ass and volunteer 10 hours for Tyler.

I'm willing: I will commit right now to donating at least 10 hours in September and 10 hours in October to helping Tyler canvas his district.

Will you?

Let's Be Like Europe: Starting a New, Occasional Series

Europe, as Progressives never tire of explaining to us when speaking of health care, or education, or snails for dinner, is the gold standard of civilization.

If it works in Europe, and we're not doing it, it's another reason that all values but Progressive values (governmental force in the service of an ideology) are bankrupt.

So, in the interest of furthering America's understanding of the European Statist Utopia, here's a post from Nanny Knows Best about the latest British good government idea: taking fat kids away from their parents:

David Rogers, the LGA [Local Government Association] spokesman on public health, said:

"Councils are increasingly having to consider taking action where parents are putting children's health in real danger.

Councils would step in to deal with an undernourished or neglected child, so should a case with a morbidly obese child be different?

If parents place children at risk through bad diet and lack of exercise is it right for a council to keep the child's health under review?

It is vital that councils, primary care trusts and the NHS work with parents to ensure children don't end up dangerously overweight in the first place.

There needs to be a national debate about the extent to which it is acceptable for local authorities to take action in cases where the children's welfare is in jeopardy."

Of course this would mean ignoring not only civil rights but modern science, as the genetic link to obesity is now beginning to be understood.

But facts should never stand in the way of good public policy, eh?

Just ask linguist and Progressive political guru George Lakoff, the ultimate advocate that truth matters far less in politics than how you frame you position to make it attractive to voters.

Which, given that Lakoff has been providing such advice to the Obama campaign, is hardly surprising, is it?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Top ten reasons to take the Libertarian Party of Delaware seriously

10. Because we timed our convention to occur simultaneous with Joe Biden's announcement as Barack's VP pick, thus insuring we would be able to hold our deliberations unbothered by all the large, intrusive camera trucks that usually mark our affairs.

9. Because even when we found out that the East End Cafe in Newark was out of Colorado Sauce for the wings, we toughed it out and didn't leave.

8. Because Shirley Vandever came to our convention, and we bet she didn't come to yours.

7. Because we haven't nominated Mike Protack or Rick Atkins for anything.

6. Because our new State Chair actually has access to real office machinery.

5. Because Mark Anthony Parks, our candidate for the US House is younger than a fossil (Castle) and smarter than even an attractive box of rocks (O'Donnell).

4. Because we figured out a way to hang our banner (yes, damn it, we have one) from the mike stands on the stage when we couldn't reach the ceiling.

3. Because we had at least five times as many delegates in attendance as the Independent [Protack] Party of Delaware [and none of them was Liz Allen].

2. Because we actually held our convention in a known postal location that you can find with Google, Yahoo, or a GPS, unlike the Independent [Protack] Party of Delaware.

And the number one reason why you should take the Libertarian Party of Delaware seriously is ....

1. Because Tyler Nixon sought and accepted our fusion nomination. In many cases the party is expected to give cachet to the nominee; in our case, being associated with a candidate of quality recognized by kavips, delawaredem, and others from almost every political perspective in Delaware actually (I hope) gives us and our ideas some of his cachet.

Libertarian Party of Delaware holds convention, nominates three candidates

Our official press release:

“It’s time for government to stop regulating the American people,” said attorney Tyler Nixon, accepting the Libertarian Party of Delaware’s fusion nomination in the 4th House District (Wilmington), “and time for the American people to start regulating their government.” Nixon, already the Republican candidate for the seat, was one of three individuals nominated by the Libertarians at their annual convention on Saturday in Newark. He identified government transparency, eminent domain abuse, and renewable energy as key campaign themes.

Fusion nominations, legal in Delaware despite an attempt to kill the practice last year, allow candidates to accept the endorsement of two or more parties in the same race.

Nearly two dozen delegates also voted to nominate Mark Anthony Parks of New Castle County as the Libertarian candidate for the US House of Representatives. “Ron Paul’s candidacy energized me,” he said. “His campaign convinced me that people would respond to the message of personal freedom.” Delegate Brad Thomas called Parks “a man who thinks carefully about the government’s impact on the lives and freedoms of everyday citizens.”

“I’m going to wage as vigorous a campaign as my resources will allow,” Parks promised.

Jesse Priester, the GOP candidate in the 23rd House District in Newark also received a fusion nomination from the LPD. “The Libertarian ideal is personal freedom,” Preister said, “and that’s my ideal as well.” He cautioned that effective politicians must work with the system as they find it, however, not as they would like it to be. “That’s why I’m making the establishment of Sunday bus service into Newark one of my issues.”

The convention elected Jim Rash of Milford as State Chair, Paul Thompson of Pike Creek as Vice Chair, and re-elected Brad Thomas of Newark as Secretary-Treasurer.

“We’ve built a strong foundation today for communicating our message of personal freedom and limited government,” Rash told delegates. “From this point forward we need to be a strong presence in policy debates at every level.”

In May, Vice Chair Thompson represented Delaware at the national Libertarian Party convention in Denver, where the party nominated former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr for President. Barr, who broke ranks with the GOP several years ago, has become an advocate of curtailing government intrusions against individual civil liberties and a critic of Bush administration foreign policy.

Criticizing both major party candidates for not protecting the freedoms of American citizens, Barr is polling 3% nationwide, but scores 5-11% in ten “battleground” states, where only a slim margin separates Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.

Pointing to Ron Paul’s internet-based fundraising, “Libertarians across the state and across the nation will have to depend heavily on new media,” said Steve Newton, publisher of the Delaware Libertarian blog.. “Libertarians in North Carolina and Texas are proving the power of blogs and meet-ups to challenge the major parties.”

Convention delegates also chose Rash, Thompson, and Brian Shields of Seaford as presidential electors.

Established in 1970, the Libertarian Party is the nation’s third-largest political party.

------end of press release------

Also in attendance (doesn't this sound like a wedding announcement?) was our good friend Shirley Vandever, the Delaware Curmudgeon, who emailed me after the fact: I am inspired to change my registration to Libertarian so I can be a more active member. Now the $10 million question: How do we get Tyler Nixon elected?

Good question. We'll be taking up that quest in depth right here real soon.

Our Libertarian National Committee Representative for Region 5, Dr. Jim Lark, also drove up for the convention, hung out afterward, and exchanged a lot of ideas. I give the LNC a lot of crap here, so consistency requires me to report when they do something good. It's about a five-hour drive each way for Jim, and he was enthusiastic to the max. I think our delegates got a big boost out of seeing someone from the LNC at the State convention.

Special thanks to Tom (who always lets me know when I have forgotten the really important stuff), and to two people who have kept the Libertarian flame alive here in Delaware during the worst of times: Tim Spong and Bill Morris.

Dear Jessica, THIS is protected speech: Get over it

Waldo brought my attention to this one, although I disagree strongly with his sweeping generalization in the opening line:

Christians are innovative when it comes to ducking responsibility for their bigotries.

This is the poster placed all over campus on an Ohio community college by an atheist group promoting its next meeting:

It brought out the predictable narrow-minded rejoinders that the people behind the poster were mocking religion:

Student aide Jessica Hodge said she felt the poster would “pollute the minds” of her children, ages 2 and 5, if they saw it.

“It looks like soft-core pornography,” she said. “I don’t think they’re making a statement at all. They just want to shock everyone.”

A Christian, Hodge said she doesn’t try to force her opinions on others. Questioning religion is fine, but mocking it isn’t, she said.

As another Christian who believes in the First Amendment, Jessica, I need to explain to you that mocking religion is perfectly fair game. And I'd also point out that at ages 2 and 5, if they're normal, your children will be incapable of seeing a sexual message in this picture because they are developmentally incapable of doing so. But even if they were, who gave you the right to have the world re-ordered to fit your particular child-raising practices.

This is also protected speech:

If you don't recognize it, it's Andres Serrano's Piss Christ.

The image below, also, by Dutch artist Theo Van Gogh, even though it resulted in a fatwah calling for his death:

Tasteless as you may find his poster, Chris Weaver of the atheist group is exactly right: most Christians have never heard of the Secret Gospel of Mark, nor considered its implications for Christian theology or the history of the early Church. Sure, possibly it is an invention and not a real scrap of the Gospel of Mark--but if Clement of Alexandria believed it was real, that says something that heterosexual only Christians would find exceedingly . . . uncomfortable.

Moreover, Jessica, as John Boswell's Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe argues, the modern construct of homosexuality and Christianity as somehow incompatible is just that--a modern construct not consistent with a long Church history of welcoming all sorts of people.

Contrary to your need to make the world simple and sterile for your children, American society has a need for vigorous consideration of ALL ideas, even in provocative terms. Even in mocking terms.

Christianity can stand it.

The question is whether or not some Christians can.

The Constitution protects us from the establishment of religion, but not from the establishment of political parties

So, under the Federal tax check-off system, $34 million of our tax money is going to fund the Dem and GOP conventions.

Thirty-four million dollars of US taxpayer money is going to fund the Dem and GOP conventions?

That's $34,000,000--not Federal matching funds but an outright grant of my tax dollars--going to fund the f**king political conventions of two American political parties--neither one of which I belong to?

So pretty much what this boils down to is that while the Catholic Church can't get tax money from Presbyterians, Mormons, and Jews to fund itself, the Republicans and Democrats get to take tax money from Libertarians, Greens, Socialists, and Independents not to meet Federal matching fund requirements, but to pay to drop the goddamn balloons on the heads of Barack Obama and John McCain.

OK, somebody--anybody--explain to me how this is one whit more ethical than an established church.

This man is the poster child for universal health care in the US?

His name is Gibson Glass, and his interview led off Al Jazeera's coverage of the issue of health care in America:

Gibson Glass, 58, enjoys his jogs though New York City's Central Park.

But he is not just running for fun. Gibson is one of more than 40 million Americans who does not have health insurance.

So, for Gibson, regular exercise is a form of health insurance. He is a freelance picture framer, and he says he simply cannot afford to pay about $600 each month on insurance.

He says that the United States' healthcare system is "totally messed up" because, as he puts it, "everybody should be able to afford health insurance, whatever their income, and I have a pretty good income, I just can't afford it."

Gibson has worked out the odds and is making a rational decision, based on his circumstances.

Seven years from now, when he is 65, he will qualify for Medicare, government-funded healthcare for the US's elderly.

But sometimes, a rational decision for one person would not be viewed quite the same by others.

Gibson can't afford $600/month for health insurance, so the government should provide it, right?

Well, actually, not. Not what he says in the next segment of the article:

In the meantime, he would rather spend his precious money on going to the theatre and concerts and seeing friends for dinner.

These are things that give his life quality, and, as he says, "make him a healthier person".

So what Mr Glass is actually saying is that I am supposed to subsidize his health care so that he can afford to eat out and go to concerts.

Sure, Gibson, I'll be glad to.

Score one for Ted Kennedy, Dick Durbin, and Russ Feingold

None of whom are among my favorite Senators, but when they get it right, they deserve the damn credit.

[And, oh yeah, Sheldon Whitehouse, who I have to admit I've never heard of.]

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — A Justice Department plan would loosen restrictions on the Federal Bureau of Investigation to allow agents to open a national security or criminal investigation against someone without any clear basis for suspicion, Democratic lawmakers briefed on the details said Wednesday.

The plan, which could be made public next month, has already generated intense interest and speculation. Little is known about its precise language, but civil liberties advocates say they fear it could give the government even broader license to open terrorism investigations.

Congressional staff members got a glimpse of some of the details in closed briefings this month, and four Democratic senators told Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey in a letter on Wednesday that they were troubled by what they heard.

The senators said the new guidelines would allow the F.B.I. to open an investigation of an American, conduct surveillance, pry into private records and take other investigative steps “without any basis for suspicion.” The plan “might permit an innocent American to be subjected to such intrusive surveillance based in part on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, or on protected First Amendment activities,” the letter said. It was signed by Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

When liberals are protecting civil liberties from the encroachment of arbitrary government power, Libertarians need to be standing beside them.

Friday, August 22, 2008

And as for all those claims that Medicare is the model for universal health care. . . .

. . . and argue that its administrative costs are minimal and fraud is low. . .

Now have to deal with a Federal Inspector General's report that shows an entirely different picture, as reported by that obvious reactionary spin-sheet The New York Times:

Medicare’s top officials said in 2006 that they had reduced the number of fraudulent and improper claims paid by the agency, keeping billions of dollars out of the hands of people trying to game the system.

But according to a confidential draft of a federal inspector general’s report, those claims of success, which earned Medicare wide praise from lawmakers, were misleading.

In calculating the agency’s rate of improper payments, Medicare officials told outside auditors to ignore government policies that would have accurately measured fraud, according to the report. For example, auditors were told not to compare invoices from salespeople against doctors’ records, as required by law, to make sure that medical equipment went to actual patients.

As a result, Medicare did not detect that more than one-third of spending for wheelchairs, oxygen supplies and other medical equipment in its 2006 fiscal year was improper, according to the report. Based on data in other Medicare reports, that would be about $2.8 billion in improper spending.

That same year, Medicare officials told Congress that they had succeeded in driving down the cost of fraud in medical equipment to $700 million....

Medicare reported to Congress that, for the fiscal year of 2006, AdvanceMed’s investigations had found that only 7.5 percent of claims paid by Medicare were not supported by appropriate documentation. But the inspector general’s review indicated that the actual error rate was closer to 31.5 percent.

That's 31.5%!?

Yeah, that's the basis for universal health care.

Wow! People really are starting to take Michael Munger seriously

I know, I know, Libertarians aren't supposed to use the "W" word, and we're wackos who only play the part of spoilers.


I've already covered a commenter on the Progressive blog BlueNC coming out for Dr Michael Munger, the Libertarian candidate for Governor of North Carolina, over Democrat Bev Perdue....

...and the GOP-leaning Meck Deck discussing why Perdue should be happy Munger wasn't invited to the last debate.

Now, two other sources chime in.

Here's Bryan C. Hanks of the Kinston Free Press:

It does in North Carolina. According to this SurveyUSA Election Poll, Libertarian Mike Munger is “complicating” the governor’s race. While Bev Perdue leads Pat McCrory 47-44 percent, Munger is pulling down 5 percent (with 5 percent undecided).

My take: And yet, they’re not allowing Munger to debate with Perdue and McCrory. The Libertarian Party is an official party again in North Carolina — despite what the Republicans and Democrats have done to destroy the party. The party has a gubernatorial candidate and is being shut out by the mainstream media in debates. What are the Rs and Ds afraid of — that folks will begin to follow the Libertarians and siphon money and votes from them?


More significant, I think, is this from Freedom Democrats:

LP Candidate for North Carolina Governor Mike Munger will get one chance to debate Pat McCrory and Bev Perdue in person, but in the interim, it's been interesting to observe how much respect Munger has been getting from local mainstream media in his quest to inject his relevancy into the NC gubernatorial race.

If you ever wandered how a Libertarian Public Choice Theorist might govern a State, click here to listen to Munger's hour long shadow debate critique on 101.1 FM talk radio of the recent McCrory v Perdue Gubernatorial Debate. Frankly, Munger is likely correct that more people tuned into his critique over 101.1 FM than actually viewed the original debate on local television.

If Munger had 2 times the funds of either major party candidate to get his message out over paid media, I think he would a legitimate shot to win. As a resident, I can attest to the fact that North Carolina has become one of the more interesting political demographic mixes you will find in any State. A Libertarian like Munger, if he had the money, could pull together a coalition from the Research Triangle, Mecklenburg county, the ideologically progressive areas in the western part of the state(where issues like ending the death penalty and drug decriminalization would peel off voters), and could attract significant votes from both the african american and exploding hispanic communities. In a 2-way race, not a chance. But in a 3-way race with money, a chance.

Despite NC having the highest percentage influx of immigrants the past decade of any State, there is little if none of that Ron Paul type of xenophobia in the NC LP. And the there is very little of the Paul type social conservatism in the party either. The uniting issues among NC libertarians are coercive municipal annexation, high personal and corporate taxes, Real ID, and State waste.

Which again raises the question of what the hell the national Libertarian Party is doing with the money it should be funneling into State and local races like Mike Munger's?