Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Gary Johnson AND Scott Gesty on the radio in Delaware

Two firsts:

Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson will be doing a live interview on the Al Mascitti Show on WDEL 1150AM at about 10:20am tomorrow morning (November 1).  Al assures me that if you cannot listen live there will be a podcast up soon thereafter.

The same day--Thursday, November 1--will see the first-ever Libertarian radio advertisements, specifically for Scott Gesty, candidate for the US House, go live on WDSD 94.7FM throughout the day.  Scott will not only talk about his own campaign, but will speak on behalf of Libertarian candidates across the state.  This is the first time, so far as we know, that a Libertarian campaign has raised enough money to do any radio advertising.  (Honorable mention to Will McVay, who was running as a Republican at the time he purchased ads before the September primary.)

Listen to both!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Gary Johnson TV ad now running in six or seven states

President Obama institutionalizes Catch-22

Warrantless surveillance are unconstitutional.

But President Obama's Justice Department has taken the position that you lack the standing to challenge the law unless you know for sure you are under surveillance.

And you cannot know if you are under surveillance because that's a matter of national security.

So if you, as a presidential administration that hates civil liberties as much as the last two (and presumably the next one) have, then all you have to do to insulate yourself from constitutional challenge is to prevent anyone from being able to bring a lawsuit.

Where is Yossarian when we need him?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Uh oh

My house is marked with the little red icon; the storm track for the center of Sandy is the blue line.
Aw shit.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

If you're gonna have "first vote sex," have it with Gary Johnson

Some light reading for hurricane shut-ins: North Korea executes General . . . with mortar round

This, I just had to post:

A North Korean army minister was executed with a mortar round for reportedly drinking and carousing during the official mourning period after Kim Jong-il's death. 
Kim Chol, vice minister of the army, was taken into custody earlier this year on the orders of Kim Jong-un, who assumed the leadership after the death of his father in December. 
On the orders of Kim Jong-un to leave "no trace of him behind, down to his hair," according to South Korean media, Kim Chol was forced to stand on a spot that had been zeroed in for a mortar round and "obliterated."
And then, I thought (more soberly), couldn't this be considered a low-tech drone killing ordered by an unaccountable chief executive against one of his own citizens without due process?

Watch extended Scott Gesty interview at Libertarian Progressive

Thursday, October 25, 2012

We really do live in a one-party state--and it is not going to be Republicans who change that

As we approach the last two weeks in the election season, it is important to take note of the various party offerings.  There are 183 ballot-qualified candidates in Delaware, including the Presidential tickets.  Here's the breakdown:
92 of them are Democrats (50%)
57 of them are Republicans (31%)
23 of them are Libertarians (13%)
5 of them are Greens (3%)
5 of them are IPODs (3%)
1 of them is Unaffiliated
We can learn several things from this.

First, we are already a one-party state when the total of all the non-Democrat candidates in four other parties is required equal their offerings.

Second, the Republicans continue to decline, accounting for fewer than one-third of the candidates running this year.  They are not even running sufficient candidates to retake the General Assembly if they win everything.  Nor are they managing to raise money for their candidates--c'mon, $60K to run for governor and you are a major party candidate?

Third, the Libertarians have established themselves as THE third party in Delaware.  In at least half a dozen cases, the races are between Libertarians and either Dems/GOPers with no other candidate.  Once you account for Jill Stein and her running mate, the Green Party ticket consists of only candidates for US Senate, US House, and Governor. They aren't running a single candidate for other state offices.  The IPOD currently (to be bluntly honest) consists of Alex Pires' self-funded vanity campaign (or is it a movie?) and four paper candidates.

Fourth, despite the growth of the Libertarian Party in terms of candidates and public attention, the LPD will NOT become a significant force in Delaware politics until we win SOMETHING.  So between 2014 and 2016 it is incumbent on Libertarians to identify, train, and financially support candidates in districts where we can be competitive.

Proof that being a General does not exempt you from being an idiot

Gen. Mark Hertling:
I'm wearing the glasses
so that you cannot tell
that my head is hollow.
A case in point:
Speaking today to the Defense Writers Group, Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, the commander of the US 7th Army said he believes it is too early to tell whether the multi-year occupation of Iraq “created an ally” in the new Iraqi government. 
“I don’t know what’s going to happen in Iraq,” Hertling said, “I’m hopeful for increasing positive signs.” He went on to complain that America is “not feeling particularly appreciated” for the eight year occupation of Iraq, which killed hundreds of thousands of people by even modest estimates.

I bet he thinks all those people with relatives blown to shit by our drones in Pakistan, in Yemen, and in Honduras are equally ungrateful.

And a little John Carney astro-turfing for good measure . . . .

Last night I pointed out that over 30% of the respondents to WDEL's debate poll had selected Scott Gesty as the winner of the debate.  John Carney finished third.  Tom Kovach obviously had his supporters organized, because he was in first place.

Here were the numbers at 10:40 pm yesterday:

WDEL Listener Survey
Who won WDEL's U.S. House debate?
Tom Kovach 45.9%
Scott Gesty 30.2%
John Carney 21.9%
Bernie August 2.0%
Total votes: 351
Obviously somebody clued in the Carney people that dear old John was looking foolish, because about 3:00pm this afternoon around 700-800 Carney votes abruptly appeared on the site:
Amazing, huh?  Especially since the WDEL site allows you to vote as many times as you want from the same computer (I just checked).

So picture the poor Carney intern who was told, "And don't go home till the Congressman is ahead, damn it!"

State GOP Chair John Sigler gets his victim on . . .

To be clear, I do agree with the GOP that Brian Pettyjohn's name should be placed on the ballot in the 19th District.  With a candidate withdrawn for over 100 felony charges and a duly nominated replacement, democracy is not served by playing politics with ballot access here.

Hi, I'm John Sigler, and I hate the
idea that anybody in America
could be disenfranchised at the
polls unless they're poor, black,
hispanic, Libertarian, Green,
Constitution, IPOD . . . .
I mean, you've got to have
standards, don't you?
That said, it is comical to hear John Sigler whine thus in the current GOP email blast:
Time is of the essence, and the Democratic machine in Dover is trying to squash our voice completely in the legislature. We must not let this happen! 

I cannot urge you enough to donate. No political party should be disenfranchised in our state, and the future balance of power in Dover hangs in the balance!
Now let's get this straight:  this is John Sigler crying, "Don't disenfranchise us!" right?

John Sigler of the same Delaware GOP that . . .

. . . voted to make ballot access more difficulty for Greens, Libertarians, and IPODians by raising the necessary registration totals . . .  
. . . voted to end fusion candidacies . . . 
. . . jerked around Libertarian candidates like Johnny Machurek and Margaret Melson with empty promises of support if only they would desert the LPD for the GOP (but really had no money or resources he was willing to commit) . . . 
. . . belongs to the same GOP that has fought to disenfranchise Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, Oklahoma, and other states . . . 
. . . belongs to the same GOP that consistently tries to keep minority and poor people from voting in places like Pennsylvania . . . 

Yep, it's that John Sigler.

Because with the Delaware GOP disenfranchisement is only an important issue when it happens to them.

For the folks who insist on seeing major differences between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. . .

. . . and who insist that those of us who think they are pretty much the same are only pursuing a "third party strategy" of equivalence. . .

. . . this editorial cartoon in today's News Journal suggests that our meme might be catching on:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WDEL Listener poll on US House debate: Scott Gesty beats John Carney

Too bad we didn't get this kind of "polling data" before the UD debate, huh?

WDEL Listener Survey
Who won WDEL's U.S. House debate?
Tom Kovach 45.9%
Scott Gesty 30.2%
John Carney 21.9%
Bernie August 2.0%
Total votes: 351

Totally apolitical--just unbelievable

. . . is not a photograph.

h/t Kids Prefer Cheese

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Margaret Melson gets some major head-to-head coverage against Pete Schwarzkopf

The Cape Gazette again proves to be the most open news organization in the state toward carrying third party news and candidates.

A teaser that shows Margaret can hold her own with anybody:

Q: With redistricting, Dewey Beach has become part of the 14th Representative District. Do you support town officials in their efforts to reduce public drunkenness and promote a family-friendly environment?  Why or why not?Schwartzkopf: I believe in home rule – decisions should be made by the elected people closest to the problem or situation.  I will respect that philosophy and handle issues and complaints right up to the town limits of Dewey and let their elected council members handle the town.  I will always be prepared to lend assistance should they request it.  I love Dewey, and I think that the town leadership should draw a line in the sand and move forward seeking a partnership with the business community to address the issues of the day.
Melson: I support efforts to reduce public drunkenness on the basis of public safety and property destruction. These laws exist.  However, I find it patently absurd that someone would move next door to a nightclub and be shocked that it is loud at night and there are drunken people. No one forced you to buy there. It is your responsibility when you are purchasing property to be aware of the surrounding environment.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The class of right-wing sites masquerading as Libertarian

From the comments on a post about Sandra Fluke at Libertarian Republican:

Yep, that's class.

Sun rises in south: WNJ actually covers Libertarian candidate Wendy Jones

Credit James Fisher of the WNJ with including Wendy Jones in his coverage of the 6th Senate race:

Jones, 53, of Milton, is a school bus driver and volunteer mentor at an elementary school. It’s an uphill battle – Libertarians hold no statewide offices, and campaign finance figures show her race is nearly expense-free. Jones has joined the other candidates at several public forums and made the case for her candidacy of limited government, entrepreneurship and gun rights. On the campaign trail, she tells voters too many manufacturing jobs have fled the state, pointing out that even the state’s license plates are imported. 
“Delaware needs to focus on Delaware,” she said at a candidates’ forum. “Money needs to stay here.”

Saturday, October 20, 2012

UPDATED: We need help to get Scott Gesty on the radio

UPDATED--Jesse McVay of Dover has agreed to match the first $350 donated.  There is no excuse not to toss in your contribution.

We're almost there.

The radio spot is cut, we're negotiating with stations, and you can hear it here.

But we still need about another $700 to go with our plan.

Help us spread the message that there is a Libertarian alternative to more of the same in Demopublicans John Carney and Tom Kovach.

Visit Scott Gesty's website today and make a donation.  I did.

Andrew Groff gets good debate coverage in Cape Gazette

Check it out.

A teaser:
Groff said the federal government should stop investing trillions in wars overseas and instead tend to its problems at home to improve the economy.  “If we had zero budgetary spending, we would still have deficit spending,” Groff said.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Maybe the University of Delaware should sub-contract security for its next debate to the Boston Police

. . . because the BPD could take the harassment of legitimate protesters to a whole new level for Ralph Begleiter and crew:

If News Journal staff ever paid attention to third parties, they'd know the answer to their own question

Today the editorial page of the News Journal laments the fact that candidates from neither wing of the Demopublican Party have provided answers to the question of what to do about illegal drugs:

We have heard candidates take tough stands on what they will do to criminals who get caught. But they said little to nothing about the drug business that is causing the violence. 
In Wilmington, where the violence is the greatest, there was little discussion of what to do about drug trafficking. Should the laws be changed and how? Should drugs be legalized or decriminalized? Should the penalties be changed? What kind of alternatives should be made available? 
We are not endorsing any of these views. But it is curious that all that most candidates have done is rant against crime. Where are their solutions?
If Libertarians had been allowed to debate at the University of Delaware this week, or if the News Journal had ever noticed press releases or announcements of campaign activities from the LPD through the last three months, the editors would know that one party actually has proposed specific solutions to these problems.

Libertarian candidates in Delaware are running on a platform that calls for legalization of marijuana.  We note that it costs roughly $30,000/year to keep a non-violent drug offender incarcerated in Delaware, and that more than one-third of our state's prisoner population fits into this class.  If marijuana were legalized and regulated like wine, we would not only eliminate that strain on our prison system and our budget, but we would have plenty of money left to treat those who actually had addiction problems (at a cost of around $9,000/person/year instead of $30,000).

Legalizing marijuana would, in one fell swoop, put a high percentage of Wilmington's drug traffickers out of business.

Our candidates for General Assembly and statewide offices have all advocated such a change.

But legalization (which is on the ballot in places like Colorado and Oregon this year) will not be sufficient without changes in Washington DC.  The Feds (primarily the Drug Enforcement Agency) under President Obama's directives, refuse to pay attention to state laws about drugs.

For example:  Delaware passed medical marijuana, but cancer patients still cannot access it.  Our doctors are afraid to prescribe it, and no suppliers will step forward because they are afraid of the DEA.  Our congressional delegation has employed the silence of cowards with regard to this issue.

This year the only candidate for Federal office will to discuss the failed "war on drugs" is US House candidate Scott Gesty.  But Scott can't discuss the issue and get it into the political discourse as the News Journal editors wish because . . . their own paper refuses to cover third party candidates.

You do not have to support or vote for a candidate or party to need them in the news or in the debates.  You need them there to raise the uncomfortable issues that Demopublicans do not want to talk about.  Democrats won't talk about drug legalization because it makes them look soft on crime.  Republicans won't discuss it because their evangelical base would abandon them.

If there were Libertarian candidates on the stage, Demopublicans would have to deal with this issue.

On the State level it will take Libertarians (as, indeed, it took Libertarians on the national level) to push the issue of drug legalization to the forefront.

So, editors of the News Journal (several of whom are among my personal friends and associates), if you want specific answers to uncomfortable policy questions, how about covering the candidates willing to provide them?


Obama prosecutors say we don't need no stinkin' Constitution.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

UD spins debate exclusions . . . by lying about them

This saga continues to be interesting.  Here's what WBOC reports the UD spokesman as saying about Green US House candidate Bernie August and the debate in which he was arrested for protesting:

NEWARK, Del. (AP) - A spokeswoman for the University of Delaware says a Green Party candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives was arrested after participating in a disturbance before a debate at the university. 
University of Delaware spokeswoman Andrea Boyle Tippett says candidate Bernie August and another person, Desmond Kahn of Newark, were arrested Tuesday evening and face disorderly conduct charges. Kahn also faces a resisting arrest charge. 
The two were part of a group that stood up to chant and speak at the start of the debate at the university's Mitchell Hall. 
Two other candidates for U.S. House were debating, but August had not qualified to debate. The university says he did not apply.
My initial favorite part of this article is that Bernie and Desmond were "participating in a disturbance," which is a nice way of not ever having to say the word "protest."

Why is this important?  Because you protest either for or against something, so if the word is used then the story pretty much has to tell you what their issue was.  You will note that this AP story doesn't.  Bernie and Desmond apparently just got up to disturb the debate because they did not like Ralph Begleiter's tie, or something.

But it's the last paragraph that contains the actual lie, and it's fairly obvious to any close reader, because the two sentences are not even internally consistent.

First we are told "August had not qualified to debate."  Then we are told, "The university says he did not apply."  It's interesting, isn't it, that they know he was not qualified, even though he never applied!?

The reality is this:  back in the summer the University of Delaware and Delaware First Media sent invitations to all ballot-qualified candidates, and attached a sheet that said, basically, but being ballot qualified is not enough.  It listed so-called "national" debate qualifications, from the Pew Debate Project.  (As I have already shown with extensive reference to the Pew study, the University of Delaware has cherry-picked the parts of the study it likes, in particular deference in this case to the Democratic candidates who all sit on its advisory board.)  The candidates were told that they could only apply for inclusion if they met these qualifications.

Here are the easiest ones:

Your party must have gotten at least 40,000 votes for a candidate for the same office in the last election. 
Your candidate must have raised over $120,000 in donations of $50 or more from over 850 people. 
Your candidate must produced a recognized poll that shows the candidate with at least 10% of the vote (such polls cost about $4-5,000 to commission).
The paper with all these qualifications tells ballot-qualified candidates that they need not apply for inclusion in the debate unless they have proof that they meet at least one of these standards.  I know that both Greens and Libertarians contacted the people running the debate to try to influence them to change the standards and allow all ballot-qualified candidates to debate.  In other words, the Greens asked that Bernie August and Andrew Groff be allowed in, and the Libertarian Party of Delaware attempted to get Scott Gesty in.

Except that the UD position is now officially that Bernie August neither qualified for nor asked to be included in the debate.  They were asked.  And every time they were asked, UD officials like Ralph Begleiter replied blandly that they would not be allowed to debate until they met the inclusion rules.

I guess to actually condemn the UD spokespersons for lying would require that they knew this; in all honestly, Ralph probably never told them.

Here's the thing, and here's why the UD/DFM debates are completely different from debates sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Delaware, or the League of Women Voters, or the Chamber of Commerce, or WDEL (all of which invited everybody, by the way) . . .

All the aforementioned organizations are private, and while I may not like their debate policies, they are private entities and they can do what they damn well please.  But. . .

Both UD and Delaware First Media only exist because public dollars, both State and Federal.  The University of Delaware receives significantly more than $100 million each year from Delaware, and tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars more in Federal funding.  I don't know how much tax money DFM gets, but an NPR station broadcasting from DSU campus "in conjunction with the University of Delaware" (as Begleiter put it), is certainly also heavily dependent on public funding.

So this debate was paid for with my tax dollars, Bernie's tax dollars, Scott Gesty's tax dollars, and your tax dollars.

And Ralph Begleiter and Micheline Boudreau used our tax dollars to discriminate against ballot-qualified candidates for public office.  They used our tax dollars consciously and intentionally to support the prospects and exposure of some political parties over others.

That, folks, is hardly "non-partisan."

Virtually everything Mr. Begleiter said on stage about the importance of debates and inclusive political discourse was a sham, because the only inclusive political discourse he is interested in occurs between Democrats and Republicans, and he is quite comfortable not only threatening his audience with arrest, but in having police officers forcibly remove ballot-qualifed candidates of opposition parties.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sean O'Sullivan commits journalistic malfeasance, or incompetence, or something . . .

. . . in reporting on last night's US House debate between fellow members of the Demopublican Party John Carney and Tom Kovach.

First, he reported that the two
squared off in front of about 400 people
Fact check:  more than one-quarter of the seats in the theater were empty.  Even counting all the folks associated with the debate (hosts and hostesses, police, etc.), there were only 267 people sitting in the theater as Ralph Begleiter got up to tell the audience he would have anybody arrested who said anything or used their phones.  [This is not an estimate; I counted the crowd twice, head by head, after they closed the doors; 267 was my highest count.]

[If you did not count reporters, police, and debate functionaries, the count of actual audience members was in the 225 range.]

Then he reported on the ruckus at the beginning of the debate:

The debate got off to a rocky start, as more than a dozen people in the hall began shouting to protest the exclusion of Green Party and Libertarian candidates from the debate. Their message, however, was drowned out by the introductions of the candidates by moderator Nancy Karibjanian of Delaware First Media. 
According to university officials, 17 people were removed from the hall and Green Party candidate Bernard August, of Newark, was charged with disorderly conduct. A second man also was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. 
The disruption did not seem to faze the candidates or moderators and was not mentioned during the debate, which also was broadcast nationally on C-SPAN.
And Bernie August even
wore a suit to the debate!
His sequence is wrong here.  The protest began prior to Karijbanian's introduction of the candidates.  It began with Green US House candidate Bernard August getting up, walking into the aisle and announcing, "Mic Check!" which is the hallmark of the Occupy movement.  August then introduced himself as a ballot-qualified candidate, protested the exclusion of third parties, and began to announce an alternative debate outside the hall, when. . .

A man in a suit walked up to him, said, "Come along, sir," and twisted his arm behind his back, pushing him back up the aisle.  It is important to note that this gentleman did not ever identify himself as a police officer, and wore no badge.  I understand that we are supposed to assume he was one of the police officers Begleiter referred to earlier, but several of the candidates also brought their own security, and there was really no way to be sure.

As uniformed police and other men in suits began telling other protesters to leave, almost all did without incident.  One man, reading a prepared statement and standing about three-quarters of the way back in the cheap seats, continued to speak.

A man in a suit ordered the people near him in the row to move, and then walked up behind him.  He said, "Come on, sir."  Again, he did not identify himself as a police officer.  He may or may not have been the same man who forced Bernie August out of the hall; I couldn't tell.  (I was sitting within four feet of this confrontation.)

The protester ignored him and continued to read his statement.  The gentleman in the suit now grabbed his wrist in a "come-along" and twisted it hard behind his back.  Ironically, this didn't work (maybe the guy was double-jointed or maybe the guy in the suit wasn't really a cop and did not know how to do it); the man kept reading his statement.  His voice never changed as if in pain.

Clearly frustrated, the man in the suit now attempted awkwardly to put the protester in a headlock, and the protester passively resisted him.  By now a uniformed State Trooper had arrived, and the two of them bodily pulled the protester out of the row and dragged him (in a headlock with both arms twisted behind his back) out of the hall.

Several other people left at this time.  I cannot vouch for the figure of 17 because I was watching the two arrests, but it seems to be about right.  To have charged the second protester with resisting arrest when the man did not identify himself, and could not be clearly identified as a police officer seems troublesome.  Again, I have to emphasize that during this whole affair the only man I was sure was a police officer was the uniformed State Trooper, and the protester was already in a headlock and effectively blinded by the time he approached.

By the way, both of these men were held in custody for several hours.  I believe that Bernie August was not released until after 1:00am (he was "arrested" at about 6:00pm).

So what about the debate?

The WNJ reports first:

Kovach, president of the New Castle County Council, said he supports some aspects of Obamacare, including preventing insurance companies from discriminating against pre-existing conditions and allowing people up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance.
Carney defended the program as the “only choice” and the only hope for reining in health care costs. The way to do that is to pay providers for “results, not procedures,” he said.
This is both inaccurate and misleading.  Carney actually said parts of Obamacare had been poorly written and needed to be scrapped or replaced.  He specifically noted reporting procedures and said he had strong doubts about the long-term viability of the individual mandate.  He strenuously argued that the $750 billion taken out of Medicare was "savings" and not "a cut," but also said (listen up, doctors) that providers should be paid even less than they are being paid now.  Kovach actually raised the question of cost containment, and how spreading the cost over a larger population was not the same thing as cost containment, but that clearly went over the reporter's head.

With regard to education:
The two also disagreed, somewhat, on education policy, with Kovach slamming federal programs and claiming that grant money did not make it to the classroom.
Carney countered that he favored a limited role for the federal government in education but said federal dollars were needed to help struggling schools.
Kovach specifically challenged anyone to prove that any Race to the Top money had made it into classrooms.  Carney actually said that Federal funds should be be focused on poor children (which would be a neat idea if it ever really happened).

[Carney's best line of the night, by the way, came in response to a moderator set-up line about most people having assumed he would easily win the gubernatorial election back in 2008, which he met with a heartfelt snort of derision and a comment to the effect [paraphrasing here] that anybody who'd thought that obviously got it wrong.]

There are two takeaways here:  one is that you really can't trust a lot of the reporting on events like this, because even the candidate summaries were wrong.  Where the reporter accurately quoted either candidate, he quoted minor points rather than the main thrust of their comments [specifically, Carney's repeated reservations about large sections of Obamacare, which he totally ignored].

The second takeaway is even more important:  we have now reached a point in Delaware politics where a nonviolent protest at a public university sponsored event led directly to what many observers would consider to be an excessively physical police response.  Ironically, this happened the same day that the Green Party President and Vice-President candidates were also arrested outside Hofstra University and handcuffed to chairs for eight hours to keep them away from the presidential debate stage.

And yet, left unexamined in both local and national media is the question of whether or not (a) these exclusions were in the best interests of democracy; or (b) if the use of police power to silence ballot-qualified third party candidates is something we, as the American people have come to accept as the new normal.  Next year I expect the UD police to bring nightsticks.

As for the quality of the reporting here, let me just suggest that it matches what you might have gotten several decades ago in the Deep South:
Two negroes were arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest at last night's Klan meeting . . . .

I can't wait for the fact checking in new week's foreign policy debate

. . . because I'm sure somebody will call out President Obama for his falsehoods that we have left Iraq militarily and are committed to leaving Afghanistan militarily in 2014.

Maybe Bob Schieffer will pull a Candy and get up in somebody's face . . .

No, never mind. Forget I mentioned it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What I saw at the UD/DFM debate. . . .

About 30% of the seats in the theater were empty. . .

About 10% of the remainder left after the US House lovefest between Carney and Kovach, probably so they could catch the presidential debate.

After Ralph Begleiter got up on stage and said this is the part of democracy where we have to hear from the candidates, they need to be able to get their messages out, because that's why we have debates--

[of course he carefully eliminated half the ballot-qualified candidates]

--and we have police here to cart out anybody who uses their phone or claps or says anything--

[which is roughly when Green US House candidate Bernie August jumped up and Occupy Delaware went into "Mic Check" action with about 15 protesters standing up and shouting about exclusion.  There were more protesters than police, so it took about four minutes to get them all out of the hall, some of them dragged in headlocks.  All the people in the VIP seats pretended not to see.]

Then John Carney and Tom Kovach sat on the stage and gave each other deep political tongue for an hour. . .

Both of them said they would like to eliminate significant parts of Obamacare while keeping pre-existing and coverage for 26 year old children, but Carney wants to cut reimbursements to providers even further, and doesn't know if the individual mandate should stand as written. . . Kovach pretty much the same. . .

Carney thinks we shouldn't be nation building in Afghanistan but both agreed that we should be able to send troops anywhere we need to. . . no matter what the people there think about it.

Kovach promises to raise taxes if necessary, so does Carney

They differ on education but frankly neither of them knows what they are talking about . . . .

Frankly, if they hadn't said you couldn't leave before the end of the debate I would have left, because it ended up as really big . . . who cares?

Monday, October 15, 2012

When the New York Times picks up on Gary Johnson's impact on the election . . .

. . . you know that things are getting more serious.

Middletown provides an excellent example. . .

. . . of how government finds itself pressured to use zoning and licensing regulations to pick winners and losers in business.

Why our foreign policy sucks--quick hits

1.  As I started reporting yesterday, we are involving ourselves in yet another civil war in Africa--this time in Mali--that ought best to be left to France and her ECOWAS allies to deal with.  But no!  We have declared the fundamentalist Islamic separatists in northern Mali (who are fighting both the government and the indigenous Tuareg population) to be Al Qaeda of the Mahgrib!  We must stop the people feuding over these hundreds of square miles of useless, parched, semi-arable land, because if we don't they will trade in their camels (not a stereotype, they have camels) for nuclear weapons and be on our shores tomorrow to kill our women and rape our goats.  Or if not tomorrow, at least by next Tuesday.

2.  The Syrian civil war points out yet two more reasons why it is utter idiocy to take sides in local civil wars:  (a) the Syrian rebels that we have been backing are now not just fighting the central government, but also attacking Syrian Christians; and (b) most of the weapons we are sending them (don't tell!) via the CIA et al are . . . ending up in the hands of fundamentalist Islamic jihadists.  How do I know that, by the way?  Because our government admits it.  So we instantly know the real situation must be even worse.

3.  President Obama and Governor Romney may both be floating the fictional year of 2014 to get out of Afghanistan (show of hands, how many of you believe them?), but the Brits have their own ideas.  Domestic pressure to get out of the central Asian hellhole (domestic anti-war pressure?  wonder what that's like) is increasing, has the UK now mulling a partial or even complete pull-out in 2013.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The US and our militarized foreign policy

The US has now added Jordan as the latest place that we have deployed troops, which--although White House officials talk about it--is still a secret according to the Pentagon, which won't talk about it.

Meanwhile, while rabid military interventionist are using the dog whistle of Al Qaeda creating a new base in northern Mali to encourage continued American military interventions in Africa . . . .

. . . France is organizing an internal diplomatic and military effort from the ECOWAS allies in Africa to intervene.

Let's point out a couple details here for the uninformed:

1.  France, with the world's 8th most powerful military, has far fewer logistical difficulties operating in this area, far more diplomatic and economic ties to the area, and much more influence with most African nations.

2.  The government of Mali accepted the offer to deploy ECOWAS forces in the northern provinces in September, just three days before the US attempted to stall the deployment until that government (the people fighting AGAINST the fundamentalist revolutionaries in the north) agreed to new elections.

So here is a prime example of where a Libertarian foreign policy would come in handy and make far more sense than our current muddling through:

1.  We should not be contemplating an expansion of our military operations in Africa when one of our allies, France, which has fully adequate military and diplomatic capabilities in the region, is both willing and capable of doing so.  If France needs financial or diplomatic support, fine.  But there is no reason for American lives to be placed on the line in the remote hellhole.

2.  Likewise, we should not be telling the government of Mali that the cost of keeping fundamentalist terrorists from a reign of terror in the northern part of the country that the cost of an intervention which the French are arranging and the African states are conducting is new elections.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Firedog Lake: Political censorship in Delaware

Firedog Lake takes up both the Ralph Begleiter/UD debate exclusions of third parties and the Wilmington News Journal's refusal to publish candidate responses of third party candidates in its voter guide.

From a personal standpoint, here's the scoop on media and third parties in this state (from worst to best):

1.  The News Journal.  With the exception of the story about the UD debates, the News Journal has refused to cover any third party news other than Alex Pires.  They refused to print an announcement of the Libertarian VP candidate Jim Gray coming to DSU, despite the fact that they received press releases from both the LPD and DSU Public Relations.  Although I have several friends on staff at the WNJ, it has clearly been the most hostile major media outlet to third parties this cycle.  (I would give Delaware First Media this title, except that I don't consider them major media.)

2.  WDEL radio.  Some good news:  they invite all candidates to their debates.  Then the bad news:  for months their Electionwatch page was a complete and utter travesty, and the fact that I complained publicly about it is probably why it now lists IPOD and the Green Party but not the Libertarians.  Repeated requests to WDEL news and talk show hosts about the possibility of interviewing Jim Gray when he was here were not refused--they were just never answered.

In other words, two of the major media outlets in New Castle County simply refuse to cover third parties no matter what.

3.  Delaware State News.  Their platform is difficult to work with, but they have been much more willing to cover third parties than their cousins upstate.  A recent piece on the US House election focused on John Carney and Tom Kovach, but also gave considerable space to Libertarian Scott Gesty and Green Bernie August.  They covered the Libertarian/Republican controversy in the 32nd District between Will McVay and Ellis Parrott.

4.  WHYY television.  Co-sponsor of the debate with WDEL that allowed everybody in, and also did a ten-minute interview with Jim Gray when he was in Dover.

5.  WGMD radio.  WGMD News has been good about covering Libertarian press releases/news stories (and has proven capable of passing on my more "puff" efforts).  WGMD also covered the Sussex Libertarian Party Meet and Greet, and the staff there was trying to pull off an interview with Jim Gray but we couldn't make the logistics work.

But the grand prize goes to

6.  The Cape Gazette.  The CG has treated the Libertarian Party with total parity compared to the other political parties.  They ran an extensive article on our Libertarian candidates back in June, and have consistently been willing to pay as much attention to our press releases as they pay to the Democrats and Republicans.  For example, they have covered the following:

--Libertarians at the State Fair for Delaware marriage equality
--US House candidate Scott Gesty on education reform, ethanol mandates, and debate exclusions
--35th State Rep candidate Ronnie Fitzgerald receiving the endorsements of Delaware Right to Marry and the Delaware Liberty Fund

They have also been generous in printing letters from pro-Libertarian writers.  The interesting thing about the Cape Gazette is that they don't pick winners and losers for the voters--they seem to view their enterprise as informing people as much as possible about everything going on.

Damn shame other "news outlets" don't feel the same.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Cape Gazette covers Libertarian candidates

Two items current in the Cape Gazette:

A letter to the editor supporting Scott Gesty for US House.

A short piece covering the endorsements received by Ronnie Fitzgerald.

Things I learned from the Vice-Presidential debate

Joe Biden, when he's almost but not quite grinning and looking straight at the camera . . . looks a lot like William Shatner.

Paul Ryan drinks an awful lot of water.

And, oh yes, both men are the interventionist warmongers I thought they were.

Other than that, pretty boring actually.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

If you claim to be a Libertarian, and you support Mitt Romney, here's even more evidence that one of you is an idiot

First, a nonsensical piece by yet another conservative GOPer hack (Brady Cremeens, rhymes with "cretin," I think) out to make all us Libertarians feel guilty that because they nominated an idiot, if we don't vote for him, it's our fault Barack Obama gets re-elected.

And the paragraph by paragraph refutation at United Liberty.

And now the reality:

Today Mitt Romney announced that he supports the Patriot Act, but he doesn't know enough about the NDAA to say whether or not he would support indefinite detention.  He also implied that he supports torture for information gathering.

Yeah, that's right.

I could tolerate a man who understood the issue and didn't agree with my position.  I could even respect him.

But what do you do with a guy who wants to be President who hasn't even (apparently) bothered to examine critical legislation?


And if you support him?

Delaware Right to Marry joins Delaware Liberty Fund in endorsing Libertarian Ronnie Fitzgerald in the 35th

Wow.  Talk about breaking open some doors.  Two major LGBT groups endorsing a Libertarian for the General Assembly.

Here's the text of the endorsement:

Delaware Right to Marry endorses Ronnie Fitzgerald, the Libertarian Party candidate for the 35th Representative District (Bridgeville/Greenwood/Lincoln), the seat currently held by Republican Rep. David Wilson. Ronnie is Rep. Wilson's sole challenger this year.Ronnie is a Harrington native who now lives with his family in Greenwood, where he owns the small business he founded 5 years ago, "A Better Gutter, LLC," a seamless guttering and leaf guard company. If elected to the Delaware House, Ronnie will fight for marriage equality for same-gender couples and other equal rights for the LGBT community. Ronnie told us simply, "Discrimination is wrong, especially on a statewide sanctioned level." The Delaware Libertarian Party's 2012 platform is very clear that the right to civil marriage should be granted to same-gender couples as long as the state is involved in marriage, and Ronnie Fitzgerald has pledged to uphold that plank. 

Ronnie lives and breathes small business, having worked for many years at his father's business, "Fitzgerald's Logging," until Mr. Fitzgerald Sr. passed away in 2003. Having launched his own business several years later, Ronnie understands the need to support small business in the First State with smarter regulations and a reduced tax burden wherever possible. His top priority as a State Representative will be "to find ways to reduce taxes and fees on small business to encourage hiring and job growth" in Delaware.

Ronnie married his high school sweetheart, Amy, and sixteen years ago they moved to Greenwood, Delaware to raise their children. They have an 18-year-old son and a 15-year-old daughter. Ronnie understands that same-gender couples should have the right to make the same commitments to each other and society, as he and his sweetheart did years ago. As long as the state is performing marriages for straight couples, then it is inherently unequal for a separate system of civil unions to exist for those couples.

Ronnie's opponent, Rep. David Wilson (R-Lincoln), voted against civil unions in 2011 and sponsored one of the "poison-pill" amendments designed to derail passage of S.B. 30, the civil unions bill, through the legislature. If you want responsible fiscal policies and a voice for small business but you want to move Delaware forward into the current era on social policies, the choice is clear. If you live in the 35th Representative District, please consider voting for Ronnie Fitzgerald on November 6th.

Bill HumphreyStatewide DirectorDelaware Right to Marry PAC

Gary Johnson not fading in polls--could be spoiler in as many as 10 states

Here are the current poll numbers for Libertarian Gary Johnson compared to the respective leads for either Obama or Romney in several states:

Ohio:  after the outlier 10.6% showing for Johnson in an earlier poll, CNN shows him now at 3%, which exactly covers the difference between Obama and Romney.

Pennsylvania:  Obama's lead over Romney has shrunk to 2%; Johnson is currently polling at 3%.

Colorado:  Obama leads Romney by a razor thin margin of perhaps 1%; Johnson is currently polling at 7%.

Nevada:  Obama leads Romney by 4.6%; Johnson is currently polling at 3%.

New Hampshire:  Obama leads Romney by 6%; Johnson is currently polling 7%.

Virginia:  Obama leads Romney by 1-2%.  Johnson is currently polling 4%.

Wisconsin:  Obama leads Romney by 6.6%.  Johnson is currently polling 6%.

In North Carolina and Florida the polls so far do not include Johnson, but in Florida where he is the only other name on the ballot, the polls shows show the race between Obama and Romney virtually deadlocked, with about 8% preferring "someone else."  In North Carolina the polls show the Romney/Obama difference at about 1% either way; Libertarian candidates in NC in 2008 picked up more than 3% of the vote.

Three observations:

1.  Johnson right now is threatening Mitt Romney more than Barack Obama; his numbers are not fading a month out from the election, but holding steady in the 3-4% range.

2.  Statistically, with 10 states in potential "spoiler" play (and I haven't counted Oregon or New Mexico), there are very good odds that his vote on November 6 will tilt the election one way or the other.

3.  The Johnson campaign must grow the vote by another 1-2% before election day.  3-4% will spoil some states, but 5% is necessary to qualify for Federal matching funds in 2016.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fusion Centers: the rest of the country figures out they were a boondoggle


But we exposed the problem in detail three years ago.

Gary Johnson appearing poised to play spoiler in Virginia

PPP has the Virginia race thus

Obama 48%
Romney 44%
Johnson 4%
Goode 1%
Stein below 1%
Goode's early support seems to be evaporating.

Johnson's support is extremely interesting if you look at the poll's internals:

The perils of socialized medicine (and just because it's Monday)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The fact that they asked him the question is what's news

ABC asks RNC Chair about possible impact of Gary Johnson on Romney's chances.

Libertarian math for Republicans: 20,606 is bigger than 20,601

Despite all Republican dirty tricks, Tom Stevens and the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania appear to have qualified five more signatures than necessary to put Gary Johnson and Jim Gray on the ballot in the Keystone State.

This means that PA voters will now have four choices available to them for President (in alphabetical order):  Gary Johnson, Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and Jill Stein.

In order to achieve this, the Libertarian Party has had to spend tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, and show up with dozens of volunteers (all of whom paid their own way) every day for weeks to examine contested signatures.

Whether you happen to be at all Libertarian or not, those volunteers won an important battle for democracy in America, and put one more dent in the locked door that Republicans and Democrats have tried to slam shut against fair and free elections in this country.

Many deer apparently died for our sins

. . . and the cool part is that Congressman Paul Broun of Georgia is not only running unopposed, but also sits on the House Science Committee.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

President Obama's October Surprise?

. . . sending drones or special operations troops into Libya to do retaliation killings for the death of Ambassador Stevens . . .

I love this paragraph from The Daily Beast:
The choice facing Obama is difficult. On one hand, any military action could alienate the new government in Tripoli and carry risks if the intelligence turns out to be wrong. There is also a risk that any decision on this front will be seen as a political gambit with less than a month before election. On the other hand, a successful special-operations strike or drone hit could rally the nation around the president.
Notice the new normal?

Not a single raised eyebrow at the idea that President Obama would not be deciding whether this was the right thing to do or not in terms of ethics, the country, or our grand strategy, but that his election chances will be a paramount consideration.

What offends me is that liberals across the nation are still pretending (or worse, excusing) their incumbent President from actions worse than those undertaken by the Bush administration in terms of civil liberties, military adventurism, and degradation of the rule of law, just because they prefer his social policies.  As far as they are concerned, President Obama doesn't even have to show up for the foreign policy debate, because they really don't care how many Pakistani, or Yemeni, or Afghani, or Somali, or (soon) Libyan children get caught in our crossfires. . .

. . . and the idea that they actually give a shit about the death and wounding of my brothers and sisters in the US military in Mr. Obama's wars of choice is also wearing pretty thin.

Libertarians who don't get it (or who have ulterior motives)

fauxLibertarian Republican publisher Eric Dondero makes no bones about his motives:  he wants to elect Mitt Romney.  He has this insane idea that there is a major difference between the two statists running for president.

As such, even though he pays lip service to supporting a larger voter turnout for Governor Gary Johnson, he's really only interested in Libertarians being a useful adjunct (he would say "ally") for the Republican Party.  So you have to be really careful about anything he publishes about the Libertarian presidential campaign.  For example, reading LR you'd never have any idea that Republicans were playing dirty tricks and using every legal maneuver in the books to force their "ally" off the ballot.

So when you read anything at fauxLibertarian Republican you have to realize that it is all agenda-driven, and the agenda is NOT a pro-LP, pro-Gary Johnson agenda.

Nonetheless, a brief post by Bruce Cohen, former Chair of the Orange County CA Libertarians deserves some attention, because it both highlights fauxLibertarian Republican's dishonest approach to "supporting" Gary Johnson and legitimate misunderstandings among many real Libertarians about the Johnson campaign:
Gary Earl Johnson is not doing as well as expected: In fundraising, in appearances and in polling.The way for him to become relevant...To become interesting to the media...And American voters...Is to threaten to take a battleground state away from Obama. Libertarians will be thrilled if he uses Marijuana as a wedge issue. Pot smokers are a large enough voting block to swing it in Oregon.I say to the Gary Johnson campaign, the way for you to do something good for the LP and for America, much less for your own efforts is to go hard against Obama in one or two swing states.How about Oregon and New Mexico for starters?Gary! Do America a favor and take down Obama. Or go down trying.
This is a fascinating post that deserves both fisking and parsing.

In what way is the Gary Johnson campaign not doing as well as expected, Bruce--and by whom?

The campaign has painstakingly raised several million dollars, almost entirely from small donors.  Did you somehow expect that million-dollar donations were going to roll in for a third-party candidate until after he had broken through?

Appearances?  You have to be kidding, right.  Gary Johnson and Jim Gray have been crisscrossing the nation, appearing nonstop at every possible venue.  While Gary has not cracked regular coverage on A-list media (and note that even Ron Paul, with ten times his funding never did, either), he has attracted more press coverage in local, state, alternative, and internet media than any other Libertarian candidate in history.  He's been on Fox, CNN, the Daily Beast. . . .  USA Today published his answers to debate questions; WaPo and Newsday called for his inclusion.  Three debate sponsors pulled out thanks to grassroots pressure from his campaign.

Polling?  He's disappointing in polling?  Some polls show him at double digits in the battleground state of Ohio, others at 6% nationally.  Even Eric admits that
With an electorate the size of approx. 120 million, a 1 to 2% showing for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson amounts to nearly 2 million votes, way above the all-time high of 922,000 for the LP.
So if he's on target for an all-time LP record, he's disappointing, eh Bruce?

From this disappointment, Bruce goes on to argue that what Gary should really be doing is running hard against Obama in a swing state like Oregon, that he should make himself a single-issue candidate in order to tilt the balance in one state.

What an idiotic strategy, designed only to improve Mitt Romney's chances and not to improve the Libertarian Party's.  (By the way, it is again interesting that Eric Dondero has already published a post pointing out that Gary Johnson is very likely to swing North Carolina from Obama to Romney--guess Bruce doesn't read the blog.)

So what Bruce Cohen is doing--besides pimping for Eric Dondero and pro-Romney "Libertarians"--is arguing for the Libertarian Party to never try to be a national party, never try to run a national campaign.

What the Gary Johnson campaign is doing that has NEVER before happened in the Libertarian Party is building a truly nationwide effort with coordinators and events in virtually every state, with earned media aplenty, with true grassroots organizing. . .

An example from Delaware:  when Bob Barr (Eric's idea of the true "Libertarian") ran in 2008 he did nothing in Delaware.  Even if you wanted them, you couldn't find signs, or bumper stickers, or a campaign, much less an event.

This year Gary Johnson skyped into the Libertarian Party of Delaware convention, and Judge Jim Gray actually came to Delaware State University to address and excited crowd, doing radio and TV interviews while he was here.  You can actually see Gary Johnson signs around the state (when embittered Ds and Rs don't knock them down, which has happened), and third party candidates are getting a "coat tail" effect.  The Jewish Federation of Delaware reversed its longtime exclusion of third party candidates from its debate; state media has even covered the controversy of the University of Delaware holding to political apartheid in its debate.

That would not be happening without Gary Johnson, and more specifically the Gary Johnson 2012 campaign.

And Bruce (like Eric) knows this.  So why is he writing what he knows is not true?

Because he doesn't care (in a Wayne Allyn Root sense) one damn bit about electing Gary Johnson, or making Libertarians a national force in politics.

He cares about electing Mitt Romney.

Don't forget that for a second.

It's just another sign of the success our campaign is having:  the Republicans can no longer count on having fiscally conservative, socially liberal folks on their side, because now there is an alternative that doesn't depend on homophobia, endless war, and massive deficit spending.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Does it matter if Mitt Romney won the debate by cheating?

Here are the rules:
"No props, notes, charts, diagrams, or other writings or other tangible things may be brought into the debate by any candidate."
Now watch the video:

The Nation: Gary Johnson and Jill Stein should debate, and maybe Romney shouldn't

In a particularly interesting article, The Nation columnist John Nichols makes two compelling points about the exclusion of third-party candidates from public debates.

First, after having listed Gary Johnson, Jill Stein, and Virgil Goode as the leading alternative candidates, he points out that using electability as a standard is a two-edged sword:
There’s not much chance that any of the three will be elected. But at this point, there’s not as much chance as there once was that Romney will be elected. It would be absurd to disqualify Romney on the grounds that he’s falling behind in the polls, just as it is absurd to disqualify candidates who are on the ballot but have not gotten the exposure that might run their numbers up.
Then there is this embarrassing note:
Only the most crudely authoritarian states erect the sort of barriers that the United States maintains to entry into the debates by so-called “minor-party” candidates. 

Delaware Liberty Fund endorses Libertarian Ronnie Fitzgerald in 35th State Rep District!!!!

Delaware Liberty Fund is a marriage equality PAC that is quite influential in some circles of state politics.

This year the DLF has endorsed thirty-eight candidates.  Not surprisingly, 36 of 38 were Democrats.

DLF endorsed on GOPer, Mike Ramone, based on his support for civil unions last year (it does make me wonder why they didn't stick with Joe Miro in the 22nd District, who also voted that way), and--for the first time in history, DLF endorsed a Libertarian candidate.

Ronnie Fitzgerald in the 35th District is a longtime, staunch Libertarian, who has never been afraid to put his efforts where his principles lie.  He worked for many hours at the Delaware State Fair soliciting signatures for the Delaware marriage equality petition.  He is well-deserving of this particular endorsement, and his success in gaining it represents a major step forward for the Libertarian Party of Delaware, which nominated a credible candidate in a district where the Democrats could not find anyone to run.

Way to go, Ronnie!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

So I read J. K. Rowling's "The Casual Vacancy" before I looked at any of the reviews . . .

. . . because I wanted to know what I thought of it, not what I thought of it in the light of what they thought of it.

Here's what I think:  it is in many ways a depressing book.  Few of the characters populating the fictional town of Pagford (and its extension into The Fields) are sympathetic.  Both irony and message are often layered on with a trowel, and all the sex in the book is just about as inviting as the scenes of domestic violence.

Yet there are flashes of well-crafted noir humor, deftly drawn character sketches, and scenes that you can feel as well as see in your mind's eye.  Rowling's ability to limn the internal mental lives of the abused Andrew; or Krystal, the daughter of the addict/prostitute; or of Sukhvinda, the "average" daughter in an over-achieving family who cuts herself--these are characterizations that haunted me after I put the novel down.  (Unfortunately, Stuart/Fats, who Rowling uses as one of the main viewpoint teens throughout the novel, is far less believable, and the gorgeous Gaia does not ever rise above cardboard, except when she befriends Sukhvinda.)

(Spoiler below)

The absence of the rule of law: Mr. Obama's administration--some quick hits

1.  Soon drones will not even require a human operator to kill people.  They will be able to decide for themselves, relieving Mr. Obama of those tedious "kill sessions," while creating Skynet.

2.  Just because the US Congress voted to cut off funding for sending troops back to Iraq does not mean that Mr. Obama is going to stop.  He will take the money from elsewhere and--as usual for this administration--ignore the Constitution.

3.  In other laws that he does not like, and thus will ignore, Mr. Obama tells defense contractors he will pay their fines and legal fees for delaying required notices of lay-offs to workers until after the election.

One of the right's favorite memes is "Obama as Jimmy Carter redux."

This is clearly inaccurate.

Richard Nixon would be a far more appropriate choice as a precursor example.