Friday, December 5, 2008

Because absudity is obviously foreign to registered parliamentarians....

... I will do this in stilted, legalistic prose, for the benefit of Dan Lynch, M Carling, and anyone else who didn't get it the first time.

My original post--M Carling plays word games at Last Free Voice--was an obvious failed attempt to point out that the recourse to hair-splitting, rule parsing, and divination through entrails is the symptom and not the problem.

Recourse by Bill Redpath, Stewart Flood, et al to registered parliamentarians in pursuit of their removal of Angela Keaton from the Libertarian National Committee has far less to do with Angela's actions than who she is, and who she represents within the Libertarian movement.

Moreover, the charges themselves and the so-called evidence provided are indicative to virtually any objective observer as a trumped up body of un-Libertarian half-truths and irrelevancies that anyone--perhaps even a registered parliamentarian or a social conservative hell bent on acquiring his own political party--can discern.

But just in case....

Let's examine the charges leveled by Stewart Flood [h/t IPR], which have seriously dwindled since his original laundry list.

First charge:

An apology for being in breach of a board member’s fiduciary duty of loyalty to the Libertarian Party, publicly declaring her disinterest in the party, providing material support to another political party and seeking to undermine the success of and attempting to injure the Libertarian Party and its public image.


Before we get down to cases, please note how this charge differs from the others in that within the specific cases Stewart does not cite LP Policy rules violations, but a board member's fiduciary duty not to embarass the LNC. Funny thing, that fiduciary duty, let's see what Stewart implicitly thinks it entails:

An apology to the members of the Libertarian Party for seeking to undermine the success of and attempting to injure the Libertarian Party and its public image by posting on her blog in July 2008, “Friends don’t let friends join the LP” and on September 5, 2008, “The LP is hopeless”


This means that Stewart Flood is asserting once an individual is elected to the LNC they not only give up the right of freedom of speech, but the right to criticize the organization in any form that other members of the LNC just don't like. But the key element here is one of motivation, and the LNC assuming the right to infer motivation without any testimony, defense, or explanation.

In point of fact, Stewart Flood does not believe that Angela Keaton was attempting to injure the Libertarian Party..

How can I know that? Simple: Stewart said so in his November 2007 complaint about Angela Keaton's 38-second telepone call that he presents in his summation of evidence. In that letter, Stewart characterizes Angela as one of a "number of people who strongly believe that I and others invaded the party and are secretly working as republicans to destroy it."

Here, therefore, is the problem for charge specification number one: Angela's conduct in posting phrases critical of the LP on her blog may have been in poor taste or questionable judgment, but even the guy bringing the charges believes that Angela thinks she's DEFENDING the party, not HARMING it.

Ooops.

Second specification to charge one:

An apology to the members of the Libertarian Party for violating the fiduciary duty of a board member by joining and providing material support to a competing political party while serving on the board of the Libertarian Party .


What utter horseshit. While sitting on the LNC, Bob Barr (at the very least) leant his name to a PAC that provided direct financial support to Republican candidates with Libertarian opponents. Members of the LP professional staff are said to have provided donor list information to the Ron Paul campaign for the GOP Presidential nomination, and thousands of Libertarians across the nation were tacitly encouraged to change their voter registration for the purpose of voting in closed primaries. What did Angela do? Cover her breasts with a Boston Tea Party T-shirt and sign up with an entity that actually--gee whiz--endorsed and worked for a whole bunch of Libertarian candidates across the country.

Groundless, and only worthy of a personal vendetta, considering the conduct that the LNC has allowed to pass heretofore with tacit approval.

Third specification to charge one:

An apology to the members of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire for attempting on August 21, 2008 to sabotage the party’s attempt to win the right to candidate substitution for future elections.


Again the issue should properly be motivation. Stewart contends that Angela is attempting to sabotage the party's attempt to win the right to candidate substitution for future elections, but the evidence that he provides actually proves that Angela had no such motive. Indeed, Angela's words indicate her motive in opposing this lawsuit quite clearly--she believed it to be a personal attack on George Phillies:

Given that the Libertarian Party has ballot access in New Hampshire, the only motive behind this suit is to slap (or should that be SLAPP) Professor Phillies over his unwillingness to partake in a particularly loud and--given the non-existent fund-raising and public relations--not terribly productive activism. Perhaps if the same members who fret so over having a different set of names on the ballot, spent a fraction of that worry actually doing constructive activism, one could impute sincerity.


Aside from her motivation to protect one of the more prominent and well-respected Libertarians in Massachusetts and the country, in opposing this expense, Angela was obviously--by the widespread comments throughout the blogosphere--representing the interests of her at-large constituency.

So, again, while one may differ with Angela's interpretation, there is no question that Stewart's imputed motive is completely false--and again, his own evidence collection proves that he knows that.

Specification three to charge one:

An apology to Wayne Allyn Root and the Libertarian Party for attempting to injure their public images by knowingly publishing on June 13, 2008 false assertions that an indictment o...n charges of fraud was pending against Mr. Root.


Actually, once again, Stewart misrepresents the evidence. Angela's statement on June 13, 2008, does not say that she believes an indictment is pending, that she believes the charges, or that she's attempting to hurt his public image with that reference.

Here's what she said:

...if the party can survive Andre Marrou, it can survive a possible Root indictment....


This sentence is an analysis of a contingency, not an attempt to injure the Party or WAR--and again, if Stewart has read his own evidence, he knows this.

Specification four to charge one:

An apology to the members of the Libertarian Party for misusing donor data to contact major LP donors and falsely telling them that the Libertarian Party had defrauded them


Again, let's look at what Stewart's evidence actually says. On 8/21/08, in reference to George Phillies and the New Hampshire suit, Angela says

I don't wish to explain to donors why money is going to punish a long-term party stalwart.


On 11/6/2008, Angela wrote:

I have started to contact the donors that Mr. Starr and I visited to apologize for my role in any deception on the part of this body with regard to the actions of Cory, Barr, Redpath, and others. The money was accepted under fraudulent circumstances. They thought they were giving to the Libertarian Party to propagate Libertarian ideas in the form of Libertarian candidates.


Several points here: these statements are only problematic if Angela can be shown to have been lying about what she believed. That's what the falsely telling them means. If as the bulk of Stewart's evidence proves, Angela sincerely believes there is a movement under way to subvert the Libertarian Party into a GOP-lite alternative, then there is nothing FALSE about her statement.

Observation number two: only Angela, Aaron Starr and the donors are actually witnesses to what was said to them to get them to donate. It may or may not have been fraudulent; Stewart presents no evidence whatsoever to contradict Angela's assertion.

Observation number three: Stewart presents only one passing reference to Angela contacting donors, and absolutely no other evidence that she actually did so, or that she said anything false to them.

Show the evidence, Stewart, if you got it.

Charge two:

An apology for exhibiting a pattern of reckless behavior and poor judgment, potentially exposing the LP to harassment lawsuits, creating an uncomfortable environment for staff and fellow LNC members, and potentially discouraging groups of people from joining the LP.


Let's take a look at what Angela did.

An apology to LP staff member Casey Hansen for violating the LNC Policy Manual Article 1, Section 8.D and risking sexual harassment accusations by blogging on September 6, 2008, “Nice staff piece of ass, Casey. Dark, young and easy prey for a cougar like myself.”


Folks, I may not be a registered parliamentarian or anything, but I have been working in labor law and with sexual harassment issues for two decades.

Here's what Stewart and the rest of the LNC apparently doesn't know about the way it works: you cannot have sexual harassment without a victim, and it is incumbent upon the target of the language to tell the person that they are offended by the language (or action). Moreover, if they do so, and the individual does not repeat the language (or action) then there is no sexual harassment.

Sorry, Stewart, but sexual harassment refers to a pattern of behavior, and you have not even presented evidence that Casey disapproved of the comment, disliked the attention, or ever told Angela so.

Specification two to charge two:

An apology to Aaron Starr and the Libertarian National Committee for violating LNC Policy Manual, Article 1, Section 8.D (which prohibits harassment of LP staff or fellow LNC members with racial epithets and derogatory posters, pictures, cartoons, or drawings) by posting on her blog on June 16, 2008 a photo-shopped image of herself and Mr. Starr portraying him in Darth Vader costume and Hitler moustache and identifying him as “Darth Herr Vader”


Stewart, bend your mind around two facts here. One: there is a legal difference between harassment and protected political speech in the form of satire or ridicule of a public figure. Two: as a fund-raiser for the third-largest political party in America, Aaron Starr has entered the public arena and is a legitimate public figure.

Again: is membership on the LNC regarded as subjecting the elected representatives of the Libertarians who voted for them to an unspecified politically correct speech code?

There are some really tightly clinched sphincters around here, no?

Specification three to charge two:

An apology to the Libertarian National Committee for violating LNC Policy Manual, Article 1, Section 8.D and risking sexual harassment accusations by posting on her blog on September 6, 2008 sexual comments regarding several LNC Members and one candidate for the Executive Director position


See the notes above for specification one. If any of these folks thinks they can make an accusation of sexual harassment stick, based on Angela's blog, then let them file the suits. Stewart presents absolutely no evidence in any form that any of these individuals ever objected to what Angela wrote. An affadavit would be nice, Stewart. It would at least be worth more than your outraged middle-class sexual sensibilities.

Specification four to charge two:

An apology to Southerners and Christians for violating LNC Policy Manual Article 1 Section 8.A which states, “All collective deprecation, whether alluding to sex, race, color, national origin, disability, age, religion, or any other protected category, must be avoided. Every person is a unique individual, and as the Libertarian Party is the Party of Individual Liberty, this injunction should doubly apply”, for posting on her blog on June 13, 2008 referring to an LP member from the South as a “hillbilly” and further stating, “All those Christian types married to their uncle cousins look the same to me.”


As a Southerner (born and raised in Virginia) and a Christian (baptized by dunking in Catholic baptismal font at age 45) I resemble this remark. To find the Libertarian Party, which in most of its various platforms has objected to Federal protected categories of personhood, somehow objecting to editorial blog content is ... too rich.

More to the point, Stewart, I'm insulted that you seem to think there are only hillbillies in the South.

Charge three:

An apology to the Libertarian Party for violating the confidentiality of the September 7, 2008 Executive Session with a blog post on the same date and also for violating the confidentiality of a February 2008 Executive Session with a blog post on June 15, 2008


This is the only charge that even has prima facie merit, but even that's pretty shakey.

If an individual believes that Executive Session is being utilized to hide actions inimical to the organization's goals as that individual understands them, or that the organization may be engaging in fraud, then there is no moral reason for that individual to feel bound by any injunction of confidentiality.

More to the point, there is a burden of proof to show that the specific information that the individual has revealed is proprietary or that its release was harmful to the organization. Such proof has not been presented in Stewart's so-called evidence.

Charge four:

An apology to Stewart Flood for threatening by phone on November 6, 2008, “I could have things done to you.”


Beyond Stewart's memorandum, we have absolutely no evidence that this conversation actually transpired, and there is no obligation for Angela--barring legal charges by Stewart--to comment on them. I hope she doesn't. Stewart imputes more content to what he admits is a 38-second telephone call that sounds reasonable, and by his own admission, Angela never said she was threatening him. He says he asked that question multiple times in 38 seconds. He never says that Angela answered him.

I could have things done to you is a statement that may mean I could sue you, or I could embarass you publicly, or even I could bring you to orgasm in a public place.

Stewart presents no evidence whatsoever that Angela's words either promised or implied physical violence beyond his own paranoid inferrence that

There are a number of people ... capable of "doing something" if Ms. Keaton were to encourage them.


Presumably these people are Libertarian Party members.

The evidence that Stewart did not in fact believe this to be a credible physical threat is that he did not report it to any law enforcement agency. He merely whined about it.

You want to know, everybody out there (including you registered parliamentarians) why the current Libertarian National Committee wants to be rid of Angela Keaton and those Libertarians who support her?

Maybe this Keaton quote will help:

I have sex with other women. Lesbian sex. Dyke sex, Gayelle. Queer.


In a party that nominated the co-author of the Defense of Marriage Act, had a VP candidate who believes individual States should have the right to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, and which did not raise one damn finger to prevent the passage of Prop 8, Angela Keaton and the assembled povertarians, anti-war activists, and assorted queers who support her represent a problem to be solved, and not a constituency to be respected.

I fully realize that this defense of Angela Keaton is basically mental masturbation, but the essence of the Libertarian movement is value the individual. Angela is a very valuable individual, who has done more work toward individual liberty than most of the people who will be sitting around the room tomorrow pretending that what Stewart Flood has assembled is actually evidence of anything other than the fact that Angela's right: Bob Barr, Russ Verney, and Richard Viguerie are buying themselves a political party.

George Wallace would be so proud.

4 comments:

Waldo said...

I dunno Angela Keaton from Adam's housecat, but Jesus fucking Christ, you nominate Bob Barr and that nitwit Root and you're worried about the image and reputation of the party? Fuck all.

PlanetaryJim said...

Concur with Waldo. I have also taken the time to review the 23 pages of "evidence." Some of it is blatant cut and paste work - with scissors and tape and a copier, it seems. At least two pages repeat content from two other pages, and one page has no content that is not on another page.

I also found the one page that only has Angela's e-mail address and phone number rather absurd.

All but about three of the so-called charges are covered under the LP's platform at 1.1 calling for free expression. Angela happens to be clever and witty at using her freedom to express herself.

The three remaining bits are completely covered at platform 1.2 noting that there can be no wrongdoing without a victim. None of the staff who were mentioned on her blog as being sexy has stepped forward to claim victim status. Flood admits that he didn't believe he was in any danger of being assaulted, therefore he was not a victim. And the other statements, as you note, create no harm done.

I think the best picture on this thing was on Donnelly's blog where he shows a group of baboons jumping up and down and hurling feces. If this thing against Angela fails, it just makes the LNC and its insider clique (Flood, Karlan, Starr, Redpath, Carling, Sullentrup, etc.) look like apes.

If it were to succeed, it would suck all the fun out of the party. I mean, really, if LNC members can't put Hitler mustaches on the faces of their former friends, what good is the LP? If I'm not to be allowed to dance, you can keep your revolution.

ChrisNC said...

I believe that the parallel to Bob Barr is most damning. Flood himself declined the opportunity to fill that regional rep seat (as he is certainly entitled to do), allowing Bob Barr to join the LP and immediately ascend to its interconvention governing body. This is the same Bob Barr who continued to raise funds for Republican candidates, even when they had Libertarian opponents. Where is Flood's concern about BARR's "fiduciary responsibility" of loyalty to the party?

Brian Miller said...

Notice how all the arguments about Roberts' Rules; charges of "violations of fiduciary duty" from people who have pissed and crapped all over their fiduciary duty before setting it ablaze; ad nauseum all have a common thread -- they don't care what you think.

The membership doesn't matter.

The members -- including successful candidates like Marakay Rogers here in Pennsylvania -- are to be ignored.

If you don't agree with the little cabal, you're a childish povertarian. You're not serious, you don't understand the Master Plan that will drive "us" (not including YOU) to success.

So really, this entire affair is a proxy battle for a larger question:

Is the Libertarian Party a mental masturbation vehicle for a small connected clique to feel important and expel those it deems troublesome, or is it a political party that comments on real issues and is accountable to its membership?