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M Carling plays word games at Last Free Voice; I owe an apology to Planetary Jim

Damn that Angela Keaton, anyway!

Not only has she gotten the LNC's panties in a twist, and led to a suspension notice that (among other things) suggests on one count that she be thrown out for being impolite on a telephone call to which there was no third witness....

Not only has the possibility of having to face down a self-admitted cougar in a halter top gotten them so hot and bothered that they apparently went out and consulted Registered Parliamentarians to insure that they could boot her off the committee for just about any old cause they dreamed up....

But no, over on Last Free Voice you can kibbitz as the LP's own Registered Parliamentarian and head honcho of the Libertarian National Congressional Committee [which, strangely enough, never seems to donate to Libertarian congressional candidates], M Carling split hairs in divination style for the amusement of the povertarian masses.

You can almost feel like Archie Goodwin, entering the sanctum sanctorum of Nero Wolfe as M blandly ponitificates on the parliamentary niceties of the 3,300th paragraph of the double-secret Libertarian Party rules, while accidentally almost admitting that M--although not an LNC member--was nonetheless in the room during the infamous Executive Session.

Here's M [on a break from assigning missions to James Bond] explaining why no explanations will be forthcoming:

Steve Meier wrote: “M Carling,

I am very curious. If you were in that Executive Session were you there under a non-disclosure agreement or did you presence in that session make it public?”

Your curiosity is not a sufficient reason for me to violate the confidentially requirement of executive session. I’m not going to play the children’s game of 20 questions with you.

Which of course raises interesting points about the sanctity of such a session in the first place (given that the records--which M Carling tells us are not properly minutes--of the meeting actually fail to record whether or not the group went into Executive Session in accordance with the by-laws, or even the in-laws. M holds that that even if the proper mechanism wasn't followed, it doesn't matter, because you would have had to challenge it then and there, so that even if it was illegal to be in Executive Session it was still illegal to blog about it because....

I'm sure that there are legitimate reasons for organizations to employ Registered Parliamentarians to help them parse the rules they wrote against Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised because they so lack a sense of common purpose that they would rather engage in petty parliamentary games than--as Gene Trosper has put it [I'm paraphrasing]--because they haven't done a damn thing recently to advance the cause of liberty.

Brian Miller puts it even more directly:

Isn’t it fascinating how so-called Libertarians — who often complain about arbitrary and capricious use of laws and rules to destroy the spirit of liberty in government — are now doing exactly the same to not only Ms. Keaton, but Libertarians as a whole?

All of which amounts to my need to apologize to Planetary Jim at the Boston Tea Party, because I initially thought his allegiance to absolute 100% transparency was something of an obsession rather than a principle. The ridiculous antics of the Libertarian National Committee from the convention forward have fully justified Jim's commitment to open governance and decision-making. Boston Tea may or may not go anywhere, but I doubt anybody will ever need even an unregistered parliamentarian to explain to people what conduct violate the Special Romulan Exclusion Rule 4A (sub-paragraph 2e).

I realize that there are still people out there who think that if Angela Keaton did blab about Executive Session that she needs to apologize. Respectfully, I think those folks are (probably unconsciously) full of shit.

What Angela has done is a public service for the Libertarian movement, by ripping the cover off of a series of at best juvenile and at worst duplicitous proceedings, and evidently thrown a monkey wrench into the process by which a variety of LP Leaders ***holds nose*** are seeking to convert The Party of Principle into a GOP Lite by sucking up to social conservatives who would consider that voting for Saxby Chambliss was a good idea.

I ramble.

I often ramble.

Surely someone organized--like a registered parliamentarian could have put this all more succinctly. On the other hand, any society or political party that actually takes the opinions of such people seriously is probably already doomed.


Anonymous said…
In this blog post, every statement and behavior attributed to M Carling appears to be reasonable and correct, so I think it's unfair to implicate him personally in your complaint against the LNC. Presumably, he is just a hired consultant doing his best to help his client understand their own rules.

As a professional parliamentarian, I've worked for many clients whose politics and/or decisions I have disagreed with, but that hasn't affected the quality of the advice I have given them. They trade with me on the free market: advice for money. What they choose to do with my advice is up to them.
Thomas L. Knapp said…

Just to clear up some points of possible confusion:

M Carling is not the registered parliamentarian who was consulted by the LNC (or the chair, to whom the opinion was addressed -- one extant question is who paid for the opinion and why) for an opinion on the conduct of suspension proceedings versus Angela Keaton. That opinion was obtained from two of the authors of the current edition of Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised.

Carling is a registered parliamentarian, but his comments as described in Steve's blog entry weren't part of a paid LNC consultation, they were in response to comments at another blog (Last Free Voice).

Carling's actual position with respect to the LNC is that he's a former member of that body who, in the opinion of a number of observers, still plays an "insider" role and has an agenda of his own (an agenda likely supportive of Keaton's removal).
Anonymous said…

Thanks for the clarification; I didn't gather that from the original blog post.

I've now read the entire thread over at Last Free Voice, including the opinion by Balch and Robert. I stand by my original statement that Carling is being unfairly treated in this blog post.

I don't know anything about the actual substantive politics behind this controversy, but it seems clear to me that Balch, Robert, and Carling have a pretty good grasp on the relevant procedural rules.

I doubt that continuing to attack this problem from a rules perspective is going to lead anywhere useful.
Brian Miller said…
Roberts' Rules remain Dungeons and Dragons for grownups... Silly rules for silly rules' sake.
PlanetaryJim said…
I concur with Brian Miller. D&D was written by a company TSR. Those of us who preferred interesting games like RuneQuest used to refer to TSR as "Totally Stupid Rules." And sometimes that meant the rules were totally stupid, sometimes it meant that the totally stupid were ruling. The parallel to adults with their RRONR is staggeringly appropriate, and I thank Brian for bringing this point to my attention. Brill. Yant.

With regard to Steve's very kind words, "All of which amounts to my need to apologize to Planetary Jim at the Boston Tea Party, because I initially thought his allegiance to absolute 100% transparency was something of an obsession rather than a principle. The ridiculous antics of the Libertarian National Committee from the convention forward have fully justified Jim's commitment to open governance and decision-making. Boston Tea may or may not go anywhere, but I doubt anybody will ever need even an unregistered parliamentarian to explain to people what conduct violate the Special Romulan Exclusion Rule 4A (sub-paragraph 2e)."

I accept that you feel the need for an apology for having been thoughtful. I do not feel that your thought was in any way offensive. In fact, it is my preference that people think things, especially things in stark contrast to positions I'm taking. Otherwise we have the severe danger of group think. Please do not feel the need to apologise. However, as you have done so in a very handsome way, I must graciously accept your apology, which I do here and now. Also, please note that all is forgiven. You are one good dude.

While I myself have so little regard for bylaws that I often don't even take the time to read them, I do have a funny parliamentarian story to relate to you. No, really, it's hilarious.

See, we had this convention in June, hardly anyone was registered with the party then - maybe forty or fifty or so? You could look it up. Anyway, we nominated Charles Jay and Tom Knapp for prez and VP. Sweet.

A little later, a parliamentarian got wind of the fact that we had a convention, and asked how it went. Well, being a pleasant fellow, always kind and polite to people I have never met, as any number of people will certainly fail to attest (-grin-), I said that I thought it was orderly and went well. I also noted that it was brief, and only had this purpose of finding nominees for the two offices. Then I mentioned that we had a more elaborate convention scheduled for October.

This pleasant-seeming parliamentarian then responded, again by e-mail, that he was a libertarian and a parliamentarian, and would be happy to help me in my role as chair to get through the October convention with a minimum of fuss. (Yeah, this story was going to be funny, Jim?)

Anyway, so I said, yes, sure, that would be nice, if we come up with some sort of issue, it wouldn't be a bad thing. So, please remind me as we get closer to the convention. And that was the last I thought of it.

So, as you can imagine, people began to improve my brief on goings on in the liberty movement. I began to actually recognise names like Starr and Kaplan, and such. I could go through a whole rogues gallery and name names based on misdeeds.

By October, I've completely forgotten the earlier e-mail exchange. When what to my wondering eyes does appear in my e-mail inbox but a message from...
you guessed it! M. Carling!

Carling wanted to know if I was ready for him to take the reins as parliamentarian to pursue our convention. And I was all, er, um, yeah, uh, huh. But, see, no, we, um, don't really have much complexity to sort. M'kay?

"A funny thing happened on the way to ..." our convention. But we got through it.

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