Steve G.

Archive for the ‘Libertarian Party-US’ Category

LEE WRIGHTS FOR PRESIDENT 2012 EXPLORATORY COMMITTEE

In Activism, Austrian Economics, Constitutional Rights, Corruption, Drug War, Iran, Iraq War, Libertarian Party-US, Media, Middle East, Minorities, Music, Nanny State, Police Brutality, Presidential Candidates, War on December 4, 2010 at 4:37 pm

For more information:
Brian Irving, press secretary
Phone: 919.538.4548
E-mail: press@libertypoint.org

Wrights pledges a ‘wise and frugal’ principled campaign
BURNET, Texas (Dec. 4) – In the four months since R. Lee Wrights began exploring the idea of seeking the Libertarian presidential nomination he has become even more convinced how critical it is for the Libertarian Party to be the anti-war party in 2012.

“The Democrats have not just completely failed to stop the ever expanding cycle of war, they continue to enlarge the cycle,” he said. “When the Republicans take control of the U.S. House, there will be no one left to speak for peace, no one but Libertarians,” Wrights said.

“When I announced formation of an exploratory committee on July 4, I said the Libertarian message in 2012 must be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war.” Wrights said. “Since then many Libertarians have told me they agree, and some have signed on to the campaign to help make it so.”

Thomas Hill, of Charlotte, N.C. has known Wrights for 10 years. He agreed to chair the exploratory committee because he said Wrights has proven to be a consistent and principled libertarian.

“He has never been afraid or ashamed of the axiom of non-aggression,” Hill said. “A true patriot through and through, Lee loves our great country and sincerely wishes to not only restore our once great Republic but to guarantee all men and women are truly free to live their lives and pursue their peaceful and honest dreams.”
“You cannot lead a nation into peace and prosperity while constantly initiating aggression against other nations,” said Norman Horn, who signed on as webmaster. “War is the ultimate evil and must be vigorously opposed by all true libertarians.”

Other members of the committee include: Brian Irving, press secretary; Robert Butler, treasurer; Julie Fox, assistant treasurer; Sean Haugh, events coordinator; Zachary Smith, campus coordinator, and; Katie Brewer, social media coordinator.

Wrights said he intends to run a campaign that will mirror the way a Libertarian president would govern. “I plan on running what Thomas Jefferson would probably call a ‘wise and frugal’ campaign,” he said. “It will be professional and well-run, a campaign all Libertarians can be proud of, but we won’t waste money on frills and we will rely heavily on grassroots activists.”

He said he is determined that whoever wins the 2012 nomination is totally committed to proclaiming the message to stop all war. To that end, Wrights has pledged to commit ten percent of all donations to his campaign to gain ballot access in all 50 states.

The committee also wants to ensure the 2012 nominee is equally committed to running on an unequivocal libertarian platform. “We need a candidate who is not ashamed nor afraid to proclaim the true libertarian message of individual liberty and personal responsibility, without compromise, without watering down and without pandering to those who are afraid of freedom,” said Irving.

Wrights, a Winston-Salem native, is a writer and political activist living in Texas. He is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All.
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The Libertarian Party’s Quest for Ballot Access and The Sin of Onan

In Activism, Candidate Endorsement, Corruption, Democracy, Democrats, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Local Politics, Politics, Republican on February 3, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Onan… spilled his seed on the earth, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

Ballot access is a major goal of the Libertarian Party, so much so that we seem to be more concerned with keeping or gaining ballot access for whatever election is next rather than with any Libertarian actually winning in whatever election is before us today. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballot_access) Ballot access seems to have become that tail that wags the dog in third-party politics. Yes, it is important to have our candidates on ballots, but doing that should not come at the cost of using our resources, time and efforts to actually get Libertarians elected to higher offices than city councils, county commissioners and Justices of the Peace.

Without actually quoting any specific messages or e-mails to me by others, I will say that when I have asked my state Party Leadership for Party help with my own election, I have been told that, rather than focusing resources on any specific race, they don’t want to show “preference” for any candidates or any particular races because “it wouldn’t be fair”. I was told that “with 193 races, we can’t play favorites”. I say that it is because of attitudes like that which have resulted in NO major or significant election wins in almost 40 years. When election results are tallied, we crow about how significant we are because Libertarian candidates got 5% of the vote here and 7% of the vote there. Getting 5% of the votes in an election is still losing that election.

The reason I used the infamous line about Onan is that what we are doing as a Party is “spilling our seed on the earth” instead of creating any actual elected officials. I have a feeling, in fact, that Libertarians have been telling each other for so long that is it so important to view the percentages of our loses as victories that I think that there will be a lot of anger, resentment and even hatred showered on the first Libertarian to actually win a notable office. In Irving Janis’ ground breaking book on ‘Groupthink’, he tells us this story:

Twelve middle-class American men and women wanted to stop smoking, and attended weekly meetings at a clinic to discuss the problem. Early in the sessions, two people stood up and declared that cigarette smoking was an almost incurable addiction. The group agreed. The, one man stood up and said “I have stopped smoking and, with a little willpower, so can the rest of you.” Immediately, the other group members began to abuse him verbally, and the meeting ended in chaos. The following week, the dissident stood up again and said that he could not both attend all of the required meetings and stop smoking; so he had returned to smoking two packs of cigarettes as day. The other members welcomed him back into the fold with enthusiasm but no one mentioned that the original purpose of the group was to help each other stop [emphasis in original] smoking. Their new aim was maintaining the status quo at any cost.

I think that, deep down in their subconscious minds, the leadership and long term activists in the Party have become so inured to losing elections that they have accepted a cognitive dissonance in which they delude themselves that they are accomplishing great things by simply showing up to the ball, as it were. Ballot access in NOT what we need to be working for; getting Libertarians elected to significant offices IS what we need to be working on. We HAVE to “fertilize some eggs” and then nurture them maturity, so to speak. If we do not and cannot accomplish that, then what the Hell good are we to America, our states and our communities?

Maybe the Libertarian Party’s candidates NEED to be spending time standing in front of the local Wal-Mart and grocery stores collecting signature to get ourselves on ballots. Maybe we need to be holding open meetings to let people who aren’t Libertarians talk to us instead of holding rallies that are only open those who already think like the rally organizers do. Maybe we need to create “Election Coordinators” to be officers on, if not paid staff of, both our state and our national executive committees? Maybe we need to start from the ground up, do the necessary work, and use the necessary resources to get electable candidates INTO office. Maybe we need some humility instead of fancy offices in Washington. We do not need to attract the rich and powerful even though doing so makes us proud of ourselves; we need to make it where everyday people can walk in off of the street and ask us who we are and what we stand for.

Onan spilled his seed on the earth because he did not WANT to make his brother’s widow pregnant with his child because it would then be his brother’s child instead of his own. The Libertarian Party is spilling its seed on the earth and, whether or not we admit that don’t really want “progeny”, that is the reality that comes with distributing our resources far and wide without there being any chance of those resources paying off for us in the end. We throw our seeds on “rocky barren places where they can find no purchase”.

The current Libertarian Party Bylaws state that:

The Party is organized to implement and give voice to the principles embodied in the Statement of Principles by:

(F)unctioning as a libertarian political entity separate and distinct from all other political parties or movements;

(M)oving public policy in a libertarian direction by building a political party that elects Libertarians to public office;

(C)hartering affiliate parties throughout the United States and promoting their growth and activities;

(N)ominating candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States, and supporting Party and affiliate party candidates for political office; and,

(E)ntering into public information activities.

Notice that the bylaws say that the method authorized by the Party to move public policy is BY getting Libertarians elected to public office. Without getting Libertarians elected we, by our own words, cannot try to move public policy simply by existing as a Party. In addition, the burden of “chartering affiliate parties” falls on the organization itself, NOT upon the people. It is a requirement of our bylaws that the Party itself create (a pre-requisite for chartering, I assume) the affiliate parties. Simply hoping that people will come to US and want to form local Party affiliates is neither effective nor in line with what our bylaws say. As with an elected candidate, the burden is on us, as a Party, to earn the votes / support of the people. It is not THEIR responsibility make things easy for us. By the way, note that maintaining ballot access is NOT one of our stated purposes.

In Texas, the charter for our state Party says that the State Executive Committee will be composed of the elected state Party officers and two representatives from each of our state’s 31 Senatorial districts. That means that there should be 62 district representative members sitting on our state Executive Committee. Instead of 62, there are (according to the available information on the LP of Texas website, http://lptexas.org/content/state-leadership) only 19, with only 6 of the 32 districts being fully represented by two members. This means that only 13 out of 31 districts have ANY representation on the Executive committee at this time and that ALL of the current representatives on the LPTEC are from high population areas of the state. Not a single representative member of the LPTEC speaks for rural area or even moderate population centers.

Like the government of the State of Texas, it seems as if both the National and, at least, the Texas Parties exist simply because they have existed and they function on nothing more than their own small inertia. As one of my political heroes, Pat Paulsen, said;

Vote or get off of the pot.

I have said before that, until we get serious about ACTUALLY being a contributing part of the American political scene, until we actually manage to win some real elections we have become and will remain nothing more than a lunatic fringe wandering in the wilderness telling ourselves that we matter. So, I ask every Libertarian and libertarian who reads this to ask themselves one simple question… “Will I be content to just “spill my seed on the earth” again this year?

Rhys M. Blavier
Romayor, Texas

“Truth, Justice and Honor… but, above all, Honor”

© Copyright 2010 by Rhys M. Blavier

Thank you for reading this article. Please read my other articles and let me know what you think. I am writing them not to preach or to hear myself think but to try to create dialogs, debates and discussions on the nature of our government and how we can build upon and improve it based on what we have seen and learned over the course of the 225+ years of The American Experiment.

Wilhoit Declares for Alternate Regional Representative

In Activism, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics on January 20, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Wilhoit Declares for Alternate Regional Representative
By Scott M. Williamson

I, Charles Wilhoit, hereby announce my candidacy for the position of Fourth Region Alternate Representative of the Libertarian National Committee (LNC).

I am a Recruiter by nature as well as by reputation. I am proud to say that I recruited Scott Williamson as a candidate for LNC Regional Representative from Region Four. I promised Scott that I would do everything possible to help him achieve his goal, both in being elected in St. Louis and in doing what he promised in his candidate announcement.

I decided to become a candidate to be a more active supporter for Scott. I choose to be in the Arena, not just the Cheering Section.
I share Scott’s goal completely. I agree with everything he said in his candidacy announcement. We are independent of each other as candidates, yet we are a Team in spirit. If elected, we promise that one or both of us will attend every LNC meeting. I have no intention of being a mere “Stand By” Representative. I will be Scott Williamson’s working partner.

Charles Wilhoit is a graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy and is a Captain, U. S. Navy (Retired). During his 29 years of active duty he commanded three ships, a Destroyer Squadron and one shore activity. Charles is past Chair of his county Libertarian Party, a past Chair of the Libertarian Party of Tennessee (LPTN) and currently serves as Chair of the LPTN Membership Committee. He was once a candidate for the Tennessee State Senate and for Governor of Tennessee.
To repeat Scott’s own words: “I look forward to continually hearing your ideas and working with you to bring about a libertarian society. Together we can change the country. I ask for your support and look forward to meeting you in St. Louis, if not sooner.”

Why Redistricting is the Most Important Issue for Texas in the 2010 Elections

In Activism, Congress, Corruption, Democracy, Democrats, Fraud, Green Party, History, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Local Politics, Politics, Republican, US Government on January 20, 2010 at 9:31 am

What good does it do a man to have the vote if he has only one person that he can vote for?

All political power is inherent in the people and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit. The faith of the people of Texas stands pledged to the preservation of a republican form of government, and, subject to this limitation only, they have at all times the inalienable right to alter, reform or abolish their government in such manner as they may think expedient.
Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution of the State of Texas

In 2011, the next Texas legislative session will tackle the subject of redistricting for the first time since Tom Delay and his partners in political crime forced the people of Texas to live with our incredibly gerrymandered map. Its purpose was to benefit the Texas Republican Party, harm the Texas Democratic Party and, as much as possible, remove the niggling little possibility that Texas voters might actually have the power to affect or influence the results of major elections here. Even the Democratic districts that were left were pretty much safe seats. Delay, Dick Armey and the rest of their merry little band of Machiavellis stuck their grubby little fingers into the mix and, like gods manipulating their computer game minions, succeeded in putting every voter in Texas into “political reservations”. No longer would the simple voter be allowed to mess up control of our state by dominant political machines. In short, what we have in Texas is Party-controlled government. In practical terms, the state of Texas and the two major Parties (preferably the Republican Party) would be (and are) the same thing.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that political machines haven’t always been in charge of Texas (anyone remember Archer or George Parr, “The Duke of Duval County”?). It is simply that before the 1990s, they weren’t as obvious, and they didn’t really care about national influence. It was corruption by Texans, of Texans, for Texans. Any influence that could shovel federal money to us courtesy of our Congressional leaders like John Nance Garner, Sam Rayburn, LBJ, Jim Wright and all of the rest was still corruption by, of and for Texans. There was no intention or desire to tear the rest of the nation down or rip it apart as it seems like is happening now. The thing is, for corruption to flourish, the politicians must be able to promise that they will continue to hold power and maintain the corrupt systems. That is what we have now; entrenched Party corruption. This is why I believe that, regardless of the economic crisis, the healthcare crisis, the ethical crisis, the war crisis, and every other of the many crises faced by Americans, as a whole, and Texans specifically, the single most important issue for Texas voters in 2010 is: “What the Hell will our political districts look like now?

I love Texas. I really do. It is the land of my birth and, no matter how many times I leave it, it’s the land I always return to. Unfortunately, Texas politics often embarrass me. I am not alone in this. There is an old saying here that goes: “Lock up your house and barn; watch your wife and children. The Texas Legislature is in session and nothing is safe.” There are too many things in Texas politics about which to be embarrassed (if not to laugh out loud about in their ridiculousness), too many to list, or even count. Our state constitution, itself, is probably the main one; a document so badly written that the only thing which keeps it from being the single worst one in The United States is the fact that Alabama’s state constitution might actually be the worst one on the entire planet. It is easily the worst one in The United States (http://blavier.newsvine.com/_news/2009/04/06/2646073-we-must-amend-the-constitution-now-), but having the 50th worst constitution out of 51 contenders is nothing to be proud of. A close second to the embarrassment which is the Texas Constitution is arguably our propensity to re-elect incumbents to pretty much any office that they run for.

Texas is a land whose people pride themselves for their fiercely independent spirit. Texas is also a state which avows its hatred of the very idea of a professional political class so much that the annual “salaries” for all legislative offices (including that of the Lt. Governor) is only $7,200 (http://www.laits.utexas.edu/txp_media/html/leg/features/0205_01/compensation.html, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/TT/mkt2.html). Keep in mind that it wasn’t until 1975 that Texas voters voted to raise those salaries from $4,800 up to $7,200… an increase of 50% (it was also at this time when members of our legislature were given a per diem AND could get mileage reimbursement at the same rate that state employees do). Texas government was designed to discourage the rise of a professional political class. Of course, in reality, it also keeps people without other sources of income (i.e. – the poor and the lower middle class) from being practically able to hold such offices. Thus, our fondness for keeping people in elected office is not only an embarrassment, it is rank hypocrisy on a statewide level. Now, I have so far basically said that we here in Texas have a “tendency” to re-elect the same people into government offices time and time again but, at this point, it is merely undocumented hyperbole. Fair enough. Go to the restroom, get yourself a nice beverage and make yourself comfortable because this is going to take awhile. Ready? Good.

(NOTE: If you are not interested in reading through the statistical information I have compiled, please feel free to skip the paragraphs between the two lines below and the two lines after the statistical paragraphs. The information in those paragraphs is included in this article (1) for those who, like me, find such information interesting, and (2) to cut off the need for comments such as “how do you know”, “what are you basing you opinions on”, and “prove it”. Thank you for your understanding on this.)

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To start with, here are some statistics about state level elections in Texas from the 2008 General Election:

The Executive and Judicial offices up for election that year were Railroad Commissioner, three places on the Texas Supreme Court (and yes, we actually elect our Supreme Count members which, of course, makes them political creatures who need to raise election funds instead of allowing them to neutral arbiters of the law) and two places on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (in fact, we elect ALL of our judges here). All seven of them were retained by the incumbents. For those of you who want to keep track, that is seven for seven, so far, or 100%.

For the Texas Congressional delegation, we had one U.S. Senatorial and thirty-two U.S. House seats up for grabs. It shouldn’t surprise you to know that for those seats, all thirty-three incumbents ran for re-election. Want to know how many of them won re-election? Thirty-two of them were sent back to Washington. One of the incumbent Representatives (a Democrat in his first term, if you want to know) was voted out. The score now is thirty-nine out of forty, which comes out to 97.5%.

In the Texas legislature, there were fifteen seats in the Texas Senate and all one hundred and fifty seats in the Texas House up for election. For the Senate seats, all fifteen incumbents ran. Five were re-elected and one was defeated. If you wonder about the other nine seats, don’t worry. For those seats, the incumbents were completely unopposed and, under Texas law, didn’t even need to show up to the actual elections because they are automatically declared the victors (Texas does not have a “none of the above” option for our ballots). Score, fifty-three out of fifty-five now, giving us an incumbent ratio of 96.4%.

For the Texas House seats, one hundred and forty-tw0 out of one hundred and fifty incumbents ran for re-election. After the primary results were in, nine incumbents had been defeated for nomination by their party. Five more were voted out of office in the General Election. One hundred and twenty-eight incumbents were then returned to the Texas House and, out of those one hundred and twenty-eight, seventy-four of those “won” their elections without facing any challenges by their major opposition party, which means that 49.3% of the total seats in the Texas House were filed by people who simply walked into the House unobstructed. This makes our incumbent win record one hundred and eighty-one out of a possible one hundred and ninety-seven (91.9%). With all of these Texas races, out of two-hundred and five elections, one hundred and eighty-one continued to be held by the person who held them before the election, which is a total ratio of 88.3%. (http://www.bipac.net/page.asp?content=texas_elections&g=TEXAS)

Now, let’s take a look at our candidate line-ups for the 2010 election cycle, shall we? Before we even start, I want to point out that, out of 219 races I have analyzed, only two, yes TWO, will have primary contests from all three parties (Democratic, Libertarian and Republican). Only 0.9% of the highest offices in Texas will have the nominees for each race selected from more than one contender in each party. Those two races are for the nominees of each party for Governor and for District 5 on the State Board of Education. Really! Take a moment to think about that. Out of all of the state’s Executive, Judicial and Legislative offices, only one will have three nominees who will actually be determined by the people. (NOTE: For the sake of accuracy, I want to point out that the Texas Libertarian Party selects its nominees by convention but, for simplicity’s sake, I will use the term primary through this article to indicate the need of any party to select its nominees from a slate of several contenders.)

The Texas Executive offices up for grabs this year are those of Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Comptroller, Land Commissioner, Agriculture Commissioner and Railroad Commissioner. Now, not only is the race for Governor the only Executive office in which there will be three nominees chosen by primary elections, the incumbent in the office of Comptroller (the State’s only financial officer after our elimination of the office of State Treasurer) is only going to be challenged because a Libertarian (our own Mary Ruwart) has filed to challenge the incumbent. The Democratic Party is not running ANYONE for the office. This means that if it wasn’t for the Libertarian Party, the person who is responsible for all financial duties for the entire state of Texas would be the guy who turned in his notarized form; that would have been all it would have taken.

On the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, two of the incumbents are also only being challenged by Libertarians. For the eight seats on the Texas Board of Education, only three of the races have candidates from all three parties. Three of seats only have the incumbent party challenged by Libertarians, although the incumbents in all three of those seats do face primary challenges from within their own Party. The District 4 seat is only being sought by the incumbent… no challenges by either the Democratic or Libertarian Parties and no primary challenge, so he gets to simply walk in.

Neither of our two US Senate seats is up for election this year and, out of out thirty-two seats in the US House, all of the incumbents (20 Republicans and 12 Democrats) are seeking re-election. Of those thirty-two races, only the Republican and Libertarian Parties have candidates for all thirty-two. The Democratic Party only has candidates in twenty-four of those races (which means that one out of every four of these races, the Democratic Party isn’t even showing up for), and in one race, the Constitution Party also has one candidate running.

Of the thirty-two Congressional races, only twelve of the incumbents will face primary challenges from their own party (38%), nine Republicans out of twenty (45%) and three Democrats out of twelve (25%). Of the combined thirty-two races, the only challenges to seven of the Incumbents or the Incumbent’s Party are from Libertarians (22%), and one is from the Libertarians and the single Constitution Party candidate (03%), for a combined eight of the thirty-two seats… again, one out of every four. For all of the Parties, there are eleven Republican Party primaries (34%), five Democratic Party primaries (16%) and twenty Libertarian Party primaries (63%). Thus, out of a total of ninety-six possible primaries, there are thirty-six (38%) and, if you only count the sixty-four possible primaries for the Republican and Democratic Parties, there are only sixteen…which is, yet again, only one out of four. Out of THESE, there are only two races which will have primary challenges for all three parties (2.1%).

For the Texas State Senate, out of sixteen races, fifteen incumbents are seeking re-election (eleven Republicans and four Democrats). Of the sixteen races, the Republican Party has at least one candidate in all of the races, while the Democratic Party is only competing in eight of them, which (for those of us who can count) is only one out of two (50%). The Libertarian Party has candidates in nine of the races for a 56% presence. Of the incumbents running for re-election, only six out of fifteen (40%) face Primary challenges in their own party; four Republicans out of eleven (36%) and one Democrat out of four (25%… again).

In none of these races is there more than one candidate from any of three Parties facing a primary election… which is exactly 00%. In only one of the races (06%) are there two parties which will have primary contests. Out of a total of forty-eight possible primary contests there are only eleven (23%). This means that of sixteen possible primaries for each Party, the Republican Party has six (38%), the Democratic Party has two (13%) and the Libertarian Party has three (19%). For the General Election, only two of the races (13%) will have candidates from all three Parties, six (38%) will have only Republican and Democratic candidates, seven (42%) will have only one of the two major Parties (Republican or Democrat) running against a Libertarian candidate, and one (06%) will have a completely uncontested incumbent.

Finally we get to the Texas State House of Representatives with its one hundred and fifty seats at stake. 94% of the incumbents (one hundred and forty-one out of one hundred and fifty) are running for re-election. There are seventy Republicans and seventy-one Democratic incumbents running, which means that only nine of the seats are guaranteed to have a new person in them. The Republican Party is fielding candidates in one hundred and twelve of the races (75%), the Democratic Party is running in ninety-three of the races (62%) and Libertarians are contesting sixty-four of the races (43%).

Out of the one hundred and forty-one incumbents running, only twenty-three (16%) face primary races…sixteen Republicans (23% of seventy) and seven Democrats (10% out of seventy-one). Of the potential four hundred and fifty possible primary elections, there are only fifty-nine (13%), which is thirty-nine Republican primaries (26% of one hundred and fifty), ten Democratic primaries (07% of one hundred and fifty) and ten Libertarian primaries (again, 07% out of one hundred and fifty).

From all of the one hundred and fifty races, only twenty-seven (18%) have at least one candidate from all three parties. Twenty-nine of the races (19%) have only candidates from both the Republican and the Democratic Parties. Thirty-seven of the races (25%) only have one or more candidate from the Libertarian Party opposing one of the two major Parties. Of the one hundred and forty incumbents running, forty-six of them (33%) of them are completely unopposed (twenty-one Republicans out of seventy for a 30% ratio and twenty-five Democrats out of seventy-one for a 35% ratio). Out of the one hundred and forty-one incumbents running, eleven of the races have the incumbent’s party unopposed by candidates from either of the other two parties 08%). This includes six Republican contests out of seventy (09%) and five Democratic races out of seventy-one (07%).

Now, can you figure out what is the most horrifying statistic which can be made from the above paragraph? I’ll give you a couple of minutes to re-read it. {da da da da da dum} Have you figured it out yet? If it wasn’t for the Libertarian party, ninety-four out of the one hundred and fifty races for seats in the Texas House (63%) would have either the Incumbent or the Incumbent’s Party with no, let me repeat that, with NO opposition. Out of all of the two-hundred and nineteen total races in 2010 that I have broken down, that comes to one hundred and fifteen races (53%) in which there is only a challenge to an incumbent or an incumbent’s Party because of candidates from the Libertarian Party. Do you, like me, think that percentage is WAY too high?

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So, why have I written almost 2,000 words in eighteen paragraphs taking up most of three pages to numb you with statistics that barely a handful of people would even think about? Why have I spent most of my waking hours over two full days making myself blind(er) and giving myself a migraine to have these statistics to write about? It is very simple. Political districts in Texas are so frighteningly gerrymandered (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering , http://www.thefreedictionary.com/gerrymander) that almost every seat for every state office in Texas (by which I mean, every elected office which has a specific political district that is smaller than the entire state… US House, Texas Senate and Texas House) is basically considered a safe seat for either a particular candidate or a particular political Party (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Safe_seat) . They are considered so safe that few of them are challenged for and MANY fewer of them still are lost. That should be unacceptable to any person who believes in a democratic form of government.

Both the Republican and the Democratic Parties (especially the Republican Party over the last decade) have worked and legislated to not only make it infinitely easier to stay in office than it would be in a system in which voters have the true power over our government, they make it almost impossible for any new parties to challenge their political hegemony. Even if the two major parties hate each other, it is still in the best interest of both of them to keep the playground closed to other kids, as it were.

The Texas state Constitution makes these requirements for legislative districts (Article III, sections 25 and 26):

(25) “The State shall be divided into senatorial districts of contiguous territory according to the number of qualified electors, as nearly as may be, and each district shall be entitled to elect one senator, and no single county shall be entitled to more than one senator.

(26) “The members of the House of Representatives shall be apportioned among the several counties, according to the number of population in each, as nearly as may be, on a ratio obtained by dividing the population of the State, as ascertained by the most recent United States census, by the number of members of which the house is composed; provided, that, whenever a single county has sufficient population to be entitled to a representative, such county shall be formed into a separate representative district, and when two or more counties are required to make up the ration of representation such counties shall be contiguous to each other; and when any one county has more than sufficient population to be entitled to one or more representatives, such representative or representatives shall be apportioned to such county, and for any surplus of population it may be joined in a representative district with any other contiguous county or counties.

Now, take a look at (1) the current c0ngressional districting map for Texas (http://congdistdata.tamu.edu/USCongressionalDistricts.pdf), (2) The current Texas Senate districting map (http://www.laits.utexas.edu/txp_media/html/leg/features/0400_04/plans01188.html), and (3) the current Texas House districting map (http://www.laits.utexas.edu/txp_media/html/leg/features/0400_02/planh01369.html). You tell me whether or not you think that these districts are gerrymandered or if they meet the requirements of the Texas Constitution.*

[*By the way, when I was doing my Google searches for the Texas state government district maps, two of the results that popped up were “Dante’s Inferno – Circle 8 – Subcircles 1-6 – Cantos 18-23” and “Dante’s Purgatorio – Terrace 5: Avarice And Prodigality”. Do any of my readers find that as unbelievably funny as I do? Just curious.]

To have a functioning democracy, it isn’t enough to have the right to vote. We must also have both a selection of candidates from which to chose AND the power to determine who WE want in office rather than who the Parties want. Right now, for all practical purposes to be a candidate for any of the offices which I have covered, you must have all of your paperwork in the hands of the Texas Secretary of State on the first business day of January. This allows candidates to be listed on the ballots in time for the state primary elections. Parties like the Libertarian Party have to use conventions to determine their nominees which use a slightly different schedule than the primary schedule, but the filing deadline is the same.

So, what is it about our elections, as described by me up to this point, which rob voters of power over our elections? First, there is no opportunity for citizens to see which races do not have any competition and then work to raise more candidates. This means that even the two major Parties are stuck with whoever met the filing deadline. Second, while minor Parties (Libertarian, Green, etc.) have to use a convention method to choose their candidates, those candidates STILL have to have their paperwork filed by the January filing deadline. This means that the convention delegates can ONLY “choose” candidates who met the filing deadline. They have no opportunity to control the process and, except in elections when they have more than one member of their party to choose from, are stuck with whoever had their paperwork in on time. There are processes to declare a write-in candidacy or to get on the ballot as an unaffiliated / Independent candidate, but are not practical means in the state of Texas to give the voters more choices or options besides those who handed in a notarized form by the first business day after New Year’s.

To truly be in control of who represents them in their governments, the process has to be designed to remove the power of the Parties over the process. We need districts which are completely non-partisan and politically neutral. We need to make it easier for more candidates to get on the ballots. We need enough candidates running for every office that all of the Parties will need to actively campaign to win their Party’s nomination in the primaries and conventions before they campaign for the actual office. We need to examine different methods of voting which put control of the outcomes in the hands of the electorate. (http://blavier.newsvine.com/_news/2009/04/21/2714028-the-laboratory-of-democracy-alternative-voting-methods-approval-voting-re-edited) We need to reduce the costs of filing for office by independents and others who do not have the backing of a Party which has ballot access, and of running a campaign for office. We also need to remove the bureaucratic barriers which make it difficult to even be on the ballot.

The thing is, if we were to solve all of the issues which I have raised, we will end up with better people in office. While many people complain about the lengths and costs of campaigns by candidates for the office of President, there is one good benefit of the process, which is that it hones a candidate’s skills and message, AND gives the press time to learn more about the candidates than the candidates might want us to know. Winning an election to become the President of The United States does not make a candidate a victor, it makes them a survivor. The other main benefit to the voters making changes to our election process is that we will end up with officeholders with a wide range of beliefs, skills, and knowledge. Diversity is not found in the color of someone’s skin, their gender or their sexual orientation; it is found when you have people with differing beliefs working together to create our laws and operate our governments. Homogeneity of ideas is the worst enemy of true diversity.

As much as people of any particular ideology might think that having people holding the same ideological beliefs as they do in every office would create a perfect government, they are wrong. Good decisions are not made when everyone agrees; they are made when people with differing beliefs can work together and challenge each other to make the best decisions. (http://blavier.newsvine.com/_news/2009/06/11/2918292-groupthink-as-a-political-mental-illness-part-i, http://blavier.newsvine.com/_news/2009/06/15/2933680-groupthink-as-a-political-mental-illness-part-ii) I recently ran across a blog, called ‘Divided We Stand, United We Fall’, which has apparently been around since 2007. It has some very good stuff in it but I want to point my readers to a particular article on that site (http://westanddivided.blogspot.com/2007/07/curing-libertarian-political-impotence.html).

This is why I say that the SINGLE most important issue for the Libertarians in the 2010 election is the redistricting which will be done by Texas (and the other states) in 2011. Unless we can literally change the political map next year, we will simply spend another decade as a fringe party which has no REAL impact on our laws or on the operation of our government. This is the case that the Libertarian Party needs to be making to the citizens of Texas, as well as to voters all across The United States. We need to make sure that the voters in every district know that, while they have no power to determine who gets elected by voters in other districts, they can still have an impact by choosing to send Libertarians, in those districts which have Libertarian candidates, or people of differing ideologies that the current prevailing ones as their representatives in Austin and in all of the other state capitals. NONE of many problems can be fixed if we don’t have the best people in office to work on them. If we cannot make them understand the importance of redistricting as a way for THEM to have more power over those in political office, then we will fail them. Voters may get the “government that they deserve” but, if we can’t give them real choices about who they can vote into office, they will never have to opportunity to deserve a better government.

For more information, please see http://texaspolitics.laits.utexas.edu/6_printable.html.

Rhys M. Blavier
Romayor, Texas

Truth, Justice and Honor… but, above all, Honor

© Copyright 2010 by Rhys M. Blavier

Thank you for reading this article. Please read my other articles and let me know what you think. I am writing them not to preach or to hear myself think but to try to create dialogs, debates and discussions on the nature of our government and how we can build upon and improve it based on what we have seen and learned over the course of the 225 years of The American Experiment.

Williamson Declares for Regional Representative

In Activism, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, People in the news on January 13, 2010 at 8:01 pm

Williamson Declares for Regional Representative
By Scott M. Williamson

With tax revolts springing up through the grassroots, medical marijuana initiatives sweeping the country, and a renewed commitment to ending Real ID, the Libertarian Party has an exciting future ahead. As the liberty message catches on, our party has a unique opportunity to grow and elect candidates nationwide. To harness this political energy to advance the drive for liberty in our country, we need new energy on the Libertarian National Committee.
Scott
Last month, I contacted State Party leaders and grass roots activist. I said I was listening. What did you want to tell me? You told me ballot access, outreach, local campaigns, and activist training were at the top of your agenda. I’ve heard your message. I believe I can help set our party on the path that you asked for. I am excited to announce my candidacy for Regional Representative for the current region four.

Our National Committee’s first responsibility is a fiduciary one. Committee members have a moral obligation to insure the party’s money is spent wisely. It is not only how much money you spend, but what you are spending the money to do. As a Regional Representative I will seek to change where the LNC spends our money. More of our money should be spent on the work of politics. A key issue is transparency, donors need to know where their money is spent.

You can lose an election and win a campaign. In many states we gain ballot access if a candidate wins a percentage of the state wide vote. If we spent money in these states on statewide campaigns we could gain ballot access in that state. This could lead to spending less on ballot access in Presidential election years and free up more money for campaigns and for ballot access in those states where it is the hardest to gain ballot access.

As your regional representative I will continue listen to what you have to say. By keeping in regular contact with state and local leaders and sharing your good work with the party as a whole, I will facilitate communications between the states in our region, so you can adopt what is working from other states and avoid things that are not working.

The hard work of politics is done by those who volunteer their time and money. It is you the local activist who spreads the message of individual freedom and personal responsibility. It is you the local activist who digs deep into your own pockets to support candidates and issues. Our National committee should be helping you more. The National Committee should provide online, free, usable brochures, web page templates for our candidates, and training for people who want to run for office or campaign for an issue.

As we continue to reach out to those at tax revolts, antiwar rallies, gun festivals, and audit the Fed groups we will expand our party membership. We need to harness the talent and experience we already have in our party and offer training to those who wish to join us in our fight for freedom.

These are just a few ideas that will set us on the paths you advocated in your letters and phone calls last month. I am excited about the future of our party and have the energy to help lead the way. I look forward to continually hearing your ideas and working with you to bring about a libertarian society. Together we can change the country. I ask for your support and look forward to meeting you in Saint Louis, if not sooner.

The current Region 4 includes Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Scott Williamson is currently the S.T.A.R Representative of Outright Libertarians USA, Chair of Outright Libertarians Nashville and the Secretary for the Libertarian Party of Nashville and Davidson County. He is often a guest on Queer Talk Radio and Out and About TV political round table where he promotes the libertarian philosophy to the GLBT community. Scott holds a degree in Political Science and resides in Nashville, TN with his partner Brian Rhinehart. Scott Williamson can be contacted at scott.williamson01@comcast.net

The Cost of Doing Business

In Activism, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Spending on December 29, 2009 at 10:27 pm

When I moved my family from Michigan to Nashville three years ago one of the decisions we had to make was where we were going to live. We could have chosen to live in the heart of the action and moved to a loft in down town Nashville. We chose to spend half as much and move to a neighborhood. Sure, when we go to see a ball game or attend a play we have to fight traffic and drive downtown. In the long run, by living away from downtown we free up thousands of dollars a year to spend on other things.

If you run a business or run a household you know that we make economic decisions daily. Often the issue is not how much you spend; it is how you are spending it.  By spending money on one thing you now have less to spend on other things. This is a lesson Libertarians have been trying to teach government for years.

In order for the Libertarian Party to have moral authority to teach this lesson it is imperative that we make sure as a party we are wisely spending our own money. Federal Election Commission December report shows the LNC pay’s $10,928.89 a month for office space.  To put this into some perspective, a sustaining member pays $25.00 annually for their membership; it takes over 437 sustaining members a month to pay the rent on our Washington, D.C office. If you are a sustaining member, it took you and 5,245 others to pay the rent on our national office in 2009.

Just like that loft in Nashville, the Watergate office puts us right in the heart of the action. But, could this money have been spent more wisely? If the Ron Paul campaign taught us anything, it has taught us that donors care more about your web address then they do your office address.  The Milken Institute publishes a “cost of doing business” index every year. Recent findings by the institute showed the average cost of office rentals in all fifty states and ranked the state of Virginia in the exact middle. The average monthly office rent in the State of Virginia is $1.72 a square foot.  The monthly cost of our Washington, D.C. office is $4.00 per square foot.  If you were to move the D.C. office into Virginia (which is within driving distance to Washington D.C.) the party could conceivable free up close to $80,000 annually to spend on other things.

The FEC December report also shows the LNC spent a total of $0 on candidates in 2009. Several states grant automatic ballot access for the party if a candidate for a state wide office obtains a certain percentage of the vote. We can lose an election and win a campaign. When our state candidates gain a certain percentage, the national party is often rewarded with ballot access for our presidential candidate.  What if the party spends less on an office and more on our candidates, on ballot access and outreach? It is within the realm of believability that by financially supporting state wide candidates we could end up spending less on ballot access in some states. By having to spending less on ballot access in some states we could spend more on candidate’s campaigns and ballot access in other states. You can imagine how this ripple effect could turn out.

I am not advocating moving the national office into Virginia. In the electronic age we live in, the national office could conceivable be located anywhere. South Dakota ranked the cheapest place to have an office at a monthly rate of $1.15 a square foot. I am advocating a serious look into the expensive cost of running an office out of Washington, D.C. I am advocating that we as a party look at how we spend our money. Most importantly I am advocating we spend more on the real work of a political party, outreach and campaigns, and less on having an office in Washington D.C.

Scott Williamson is currently the S.T.A.R Representative of Outright Libertarians USA, Chair of Outright Libertarians Nashville and the Secretary for the Libertarian Party of Nashville and Davidson County. He is often a guest on Queer Talk Radio and Out and About TV political round table where he promotes the libertarian philosophy to the GLBT community. Scoot is currently considering running for LNC Regional Representative.  Scott holds a degree in Political Science and resides in Nashville, TN with his partner Brian Rhinehart. You can read more by Mr. Williamson at www.outrightnashville.com; and, you can contact Scott at scott.williamson01@comcast.net.

A Modest Libertarian Proposal: For Secessionists, Separatists, Radical Anarchists, Anti-Government Absolutists, Conservative Neo-Republicans, Randian Objectivists, Tea-Baggers, “Me, First & Last” Social Darwinists, and Conspiracy Theorists

In Corruption, Democracy, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, literature, Personal Responsibility, Politics on November 30, 2009 at 12:57 pm

I did a LOT of driving this last week-end, a LOT. This gave me a great deal of time to think and process recent experiences. One conclusion that I did arrive at is that if a group of people gather together for a common cause (other than masturbation) and then spend their day in a mutual masturbation circle jerk, they will have accomplished nothing.

On Saturday, I went to a libertarian gathering which seemed to be more about libertarians telling themselves how successful they have been at furthering their cause even if they haven’t been able to actually get anyone elected to a significant office. There were no strategies or concrete ideas for getting anyone elected or for spreading the libertarian idea to a wider audience. While I met some good people, I found that the main value for me to have made the trip was in observing and listening to the others there. What I did not hear were any words which spoke of libertarianism as being about anything except “me”. One speaker even lived up to the cliché view of what current libertarians are when she spoke about reading Ayn Rand and realizing that caring about others or helping to make the world a better place has no value.

On Sunday, I drove to my old home town to help some friends do some work on a house. This house has been a special place for a long time. In 1972, a group of college friends found a place to live in off-campus. During the 70s, it was pretty much a commune for the local science fiction group. For probably 15 years it was home to a rotating group but the house was always there for us. For most of the last 20 years, it has been the permanent home to a few of the gang but the house has remained a constant in the lives of many. I moved away and moved on with my life but 17 years later I came back and the group still gathered at the house on regular annual times. I have never lived there or even spent a night there but, when the message went out that there would be a work day on the house, I was there. I gained nothing, at least in objectivist terms, by helping out but it was a small gesture of thanks for what the house and the people who have lived there have meant to me.

The stark contrast between how the two days were spent was startling. A second conclusion I arrived at is that I think that there is more to be gained by working together to build a better world around us than there is from seeing the world as a place where it is ok for the strong to prey on the weak. The week-end reinforced what libertarianism meant to me when I was first attracted to the movement.

Thirty years ago, I had the profound honor of hearing a man named Ed Clark speak at Texas A&M University, courtesy of the Memorial Student Center’s Political Forum committee. Rudder Theater was full that night. There were many there who were, like me at age 20, preparing to vote in our first Presidential election (and for me, my first government election as I briefly lived in the United Kingdom in 1978 – 79). This man was the candidate for a new political party, and was that Party’s first candidate to be on the ballot in all 50 states. The Libertarian movement and idea was getting some national attention because of how “radical” and fresh it was. They had a vision of a limited government which would combine the best facets of conservative fiscal policies with progressive social policies. In a radio interview, Clark described libertarianism as “low-tax liberalism”. Hearing him speak in person was a remarkable experience for me. Not only were his ideas progressive and forward-thinking, they were inclusive and logical.

To this day, I still call myself an Ed Clark libertarian. Unfortunately, the Party pushed Ed Clark and his liberal / moderate wing out during their 1984 convention. If you ask people today what a libertarian is, most of what you will hear are descriptions of a radical, conservative, neo-Republican lunatic fringe group. In 1980, it looked like the Libertarian Party might, one day, have a legitimate influence on American government. Coming up on 2010, it looks like we have crawled beyond the fringe to create our own unique brand of American political lunacy, on a par with the Anti-Masonic “Know Nothing” Party of the 1800s. With this in mind, I want to make a modest proposal to all of those who hate government, despise paying any taxes, want to “be off of the grid” and want to be left completely alone by every government.

We will GIVE you a 5,000 square-mile plot of land in Alaska. Not enough? How about 10,000 square miles? We will set aside that land and will legally declare it to be independent of the United States of America or of any other nation of the world. It will be free land on which you can settle and create your own society with a complete absence of government. You will not be subject to any law or be a part of America in any way… no taxes, no military service, and no government interference of any kind. We will also shoulder the costs to relocate anyone who wants to leave the United States to participate in this experiment. This will be a one-way, one-time ticket. We will take all of you to the border of your new homeland and let you enter it freely and of you own volition. Further, we will assume all of your debts, (up to, say, $25,000). If your debts are greater than that, so what? You will be moving to a place where you will be free from debt collectors. What will your credit score matter up there? We will arrange for the sale of your American property, both to free you from the burden and to help pay for the costs which The United States will incur on your behalf so that you will not be beholden to any other person or nation. In short, we will do everything necessary to help you sever all ties between you and the United States. We will give you what you are asking for in its entirety. You can be completely free from any and all government control or responsibility. By doing this for you, however, there would be a lot of changes that you would need to be aware of.

Remember, infrastructure is created by governments. There will no roads, electricity, water, sanitation, waste removal, hospitals, medical care, medicines, schools, postal service, police or fire departments, judiciary, defense, phones, internet or any other public “improvements” other than what you will be able to create for yourselves. In your new haven, there will be no government, no law, no order, and no society which you do not create for yourself.

We understand that you don’t like anything that is “tainted” by being provided to the general public, and / or bought or created through the use of “Federal Reserve Notes” (and yes, this week-end I heard someone talking about their new business and saying that they would not accept “Federal Reserve Notes”). So you will not be allowed to take any United States currency with you because you will not, of course, need it. You will not be allowed to incur any additional debt through credit so, in preparation for your move, you will be limited to dealing on a cash only basis. If you want to convert it all to gold or silver or gumdrops, you can, but remember, you will have to carry everything you will take in with you. I assume your economy would be based on the barter system. I will be curious, though, about what you will be able to barter with to get AT&T to provide you with communications capabilities, as one example.

Your American citizenship will be permanently revoked, as will those of any of your families, dependents, and friends who join you. As such, you can never again vote in any American election. You can never again enter the United States without proper documentation and / or visas. If you try, you will be subject to being arrested and deported back to your homeland, the same as any other illegal alien, you know, like Mexicans. You will never again receive any government payments, benefits, healthcare (federal or military) or assistance which would “force” you to possess any documentation, utilize our immoral currency or rely in any way on the government which you hate so much. This means that you will never receive any social security payments, Medicare, retirement funds, insurance payments, not even the annual payout made to citizens of Alaska because, of course, you will be citizens of your own non-nation. Oh, and about that land, you will each be able to possess as much of it as you can take and hold onto. You will have the absolute freedom to make your land your own BUT you will not, of course, be given any actual legal title to the land because to give you such title would require a legal and judicial system… and you wouldn’t want that either, would you, because they are also creations of government.

While I suppose that we could allow you to take in a suitcase of your own clothes (whatever you can carry), to fully honor your John Galt desires, we would not allow you to take any tools or other products created by our industrial mass production system. You see, we would want to respect your wishes to not allowing you to be burdened with anything so ignoble as having been purchased with “Federal Reserve Notes”. Maybe we could provide some of you with forges but how you would carry them into your new nation without tools or carts made by tools that you have made for yourself, I don’t know. Even if I had the answer to that, though, you wouldn’t want to know it because you want be pure, untainted and left entirely to your own devices. Each of you, after all, is John Galt.

Of course, you would be completely landlocked by the United States but that, again, would only be out of respect for your demands for complete independence and your wishes to have no “foreign entanglements”. We would thus ensure that you would be free of the temptation and taint of dealing with other nations or, even worse, with the United Nations. No, you will be completely and entirely free. You will be given your own country and cut off from any influence, hindrance, or assistance from anyone outside of your own borders. Imagine if “Escape from New York” was about turning Manhattan into a self-contained country instead of a prison… but without all of the inconvenient reminders of civilization and development like buildings and roads.

We will give you all of it. All you would have to do is give up everything else… oh, and allow those of us who do not believe as you do, those of us who do not share your vision of an anarchist “Heaven on Earth”, free to carry on our ridiculous desire to actually improve the society that we are part of. You will all agree to leave us alone in this immoral world which we believe can be improved. We leave you alone and you leave us alone… for ever (or until you all die off). Do we have a deal?

Now, for those of us who are left when the dust of the mass migration settles, let’s work together to figure out how to make the government we do have better. Let us create a fair and equitable tax system. Let us work on the problem of creating a society which benefits all of the people. Remember, political and philosophical extremes create unworkable absolutes. Some of us believe that the only way to make the system better is by working within it. We can have less government, lower taxes, and a beneficial society. All we have to do is be willing to work for it.

I, for one, will not abandon my fellow Man. My desire for a limited government does not mean that I reject the idea and value of government altogether. I believe in government and I believe that it can be improved, that it can be designed to function effectively. Remember, we get the government that we deserve. In a free society government is the creation and responsibility of a free people. If our government does not work properly, it is our fault for not caring enough to figure out how to make it better. It is also our responsibility to make government work for the people it serves, not be served by the people who work under its system. I am willing to stay here and do what I am capable of doing to make it better for EVERYONE… even those who don’t believe as I do. How many of you out there will help me? Can we work together to create a practical, rational and realistic idea of libertarianism and, from there, a practical, rational and realistic idea of libertarian anarchy which can be “sold” to those outside of our movements? I think that we can and I, for one, am ready to start trying.

Rhys M. Blavier

Romayor, Texas

Truth, Justice and Honor… but, above all, Honor” 

© Copyright 2009 by Rhys M. Blavier

HOW SERIOUS IS THE LIBERTARIAN PARTY ABOUT BEING TAKEN SERIOUSLY?

In Congress, Democracy, Democrats, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Local Politics, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Republican, US Government on November 25, 2009 at 1:53 pm

When I was 20 years old and preparing to vote in my first Presidential election, a man came to speak on the campus of Texas A&M University about his new party and his campaign for the Presidency. That man was Ed Clark, the first Libertarian candidate on the ballots of all 50 states. He spoke of a vision of government which combined fiscal responsibility with social humanism. Ed Clark made such an impact on my personal view of politics that now, 30 years later, I still call myself an Ed Clark Libertarian. Unfortunately, since then I have watched the Libertarian Party move to the far-right with no coherent message to the point where, instead of creating a viable third party in American politics, it has become seen a ‘lunatic fringe’ of the extreme far-right, religious conservative wing of the Republican Party, a neo-Republican Party, if you will. After 30 years, it has still never made a serious impact on American politics at either the national or even the state level. The fault is our own but, I personally believe that could be realistically changed… starting with the 2010 elections.

Right now, politics in America might be more volatile than it has been at any point in its history since 1860. The Republican Party faces the real possibility of splintering into two or more parties; divided by their extreme far-right Christian conservatives who view politics as a religious struggle with them battling for the glory of heaven by exerting “his will’ on Earth. Because this faction is fighting what they see as a battle for the next world, they see those who “oppose” them as inherently evil. They cannot compromise in what they see as a very real battle between “good” and “evil”. As such, they can be counted on to focus their efforts on stopping the “advance” of “ungodly” issues in America. They will even turn on their own, on other Republicans, who they see as weak in the face of their enemy… and make no mistake, they see those who do not agree with them as true enemies.

This internal conflict within the Republican Party, however, offers the Libertarian Party a very real chance to become a viable alternative party for the American voters. To do that, however, requires us to change ourselves into a viable party. Over the course of the last 30 years, the Libertarian party has moved backwards instead of forward. What was once seen as party with an interesting view of what government could be has become a perceived lunatic fringe of right-wing tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorists. We, ourselves, have marginalized our Party in American politics. We have no one to blame for our lack of achievement other than ourselves. As such, only we can change the perceptions of us by the American voters. To do that, we need to develop a strategic plan for 2010 and the following decade. We cannot possible devise winning tactics if we do not have an overall strategy for ourselves. We also need to give the American voters confidence that if they do elect any of us that we can participate and function in a real world government.

So, what are some things that the Libertarians need to do or change to become a viable third party in America? One is that we need to move beyond having a general philosophy about what government should be and become a political movement with an actual vision of what government can be AND an actual plan for how that can be accomplished. The question isn’t why SHOULD voters support us, it is what keeps them FROM supporting us. Remember, no voter owes a candidate or a party their vote; it is up to a candidate or party to earn their votes.

Another is that we need to stop running candidates for Executive offices until we can support those candidates by holding enough Legislative seats to help them. Politics, like life, is a gamble. Not only should you never make a bet you are unable or unwilling to lose, you should never make a bet you are unwilling or unable to win. Realistically, if ANY third party or independent candidate were to win the Presidency or a Governorship without having any Legislative support, their administration would be a complete failure. In addition, that failure would become generalized as an argument against ever again voting for candidates who are not party of one of the governing parties. It would actually damage us rather than help us.

Yet another is that we have to stop spreading our very limited resources so thin that we accomplish nothing. Imagine that we are farmers trying to grow a crop, like roses. Roses require a LOT of water in order to grow and become something that can be sold. What we have is a very limited amount of water. It would be better to focus on a few plants instead of trying to raise all of the plants by spreading our water so thinly that NO plants have enough to grow. Now, let’s ask ourselves “What is the quality of the roses that we raise?” In order to increase the resources we can use to raise more roses in future years, we need to be able to sell a few today. We need to develop a “long game” strategy for the future.

On the national level, we need to be focusing on a realistic few races for Legislative office, and we need to start doing so immediately. It would also be better to win seats in state legislatures this year than it would be to win Congressional seats in 2012. Why? In one word, the answer is ‘redistricting’. Most states with more than one member of the US House of Representatives seem to have mostly gerrymandered safe districts, which makes it almost impossible for candidates who are not from the two main parties to win. We need to have legislators at the state level that can fight for non-partisan maps with NO safe districts. This is a very real way to tell the voters that their legislators work for THEM. I advocate a map which starts in each corner of a state and only looks at numbers of voters to create compact, regularly shaped districts without regard to race, creed, color or party. This would create districts that cannot be seen or used to promote ANY specific person or party. The reasons for this should be obvious. Not only will it help us in the future by giving third-party candidates a fair chance to win, it will also allow us to demonstrate that our primary interest is in giving power back to the voters.

We also need to understand that it is not necessary to win a majority, or even a plurality of seats to make a difference. Let’s look at Texas, as an example. Texas is in political turmoil right now. It functions on inertia… there is a government because there has been a government and it operates because it has operated. It is too big of a juggernaut to stop and it is simply rolling over everything in its path. The Texas Republican Party is eating itself right now. Our sitting Governor, Rick Perry, will have to fight against one of our two Senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison, just to win his own party’s nomination. This is not only internally destructive, when you understand how Texas operates; it is absurd because, constitutionally, Texas has a weak Governor system. The two most powerful offices in Texas government are the Lt. Governor, who presides over the Texas Senate, and the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. So, Texas has a strong legislature to really run the state, but that legislature only meets every other year and for a very limited number of days. In addition, the 2009 legislature threw out the sitting Speaker and chose a new one in a tough internal battle. At the state Senate level, our Lt. Governor is likely to try to get Kay Bailey Hutchison’s seat in the US Senate. Texas is in political crises and, as the White House Chief of Staff so famously said, never let a crisis go to waste.

Right now, the 150-member House is almost evenly divided between the Republicans and the Democrats. The Texas Democratic Party right now is going to make a serious effort in the 2010 elections. They are actively recruiting candidates and have already held week-end long ‘mini-camps’ to educate potential candidates AND campaign staffs on how to campaign, how to fundraise, what the legal requirements are, fill out the forms, etc. These camps also allow potential candidates and the state party staff to get to know each other. They only need a few seats to wrest back control of the state House and they are determined to accomplish that. In a situation like what is facing Texas in the 2010 elections, if we could elect just 5 members of the state House, neither party would be likely have a majority. If we could elect just 2 members to the state Senate out of the 31 seats (half of which are up for election in 2010), we would have almost 7% in that body. If we could accomplish those two challenges, we would have a say in what happens in Texas AND the chance to work for a politically neutral district map.

The LP needs to be PRO-active about the 2010 election. If we wait until the state conventions in July 2010 we shouldn’t even bother. We need to get out AHEAD of the political season and start the discussions ourselves so that they will take place on our terms. We need to lead the discussions rather than respond to them. We need to have state and national party leader who are actively speaking around the state and promoting what our party offers that is different than what the other parties offer. All of our focus needs to be on the state legislatures this election. To make a difference, we have to be able to say WHAT we will do, and then DO what we say. It isn’t enough to be against what the other parties do, we have to offer a vision of what we CAN do. We need to find 5 – 10 House candidates and 1 – 5 state Senate candidates in 3 – 5 states to put our national efforts behind. It isn’t enough for these people to become known in their own districts… all of them must become known statewide. The people need to have speaking engagements across the state now, and they need to be speaking to full houses, not nearly empty rooms. They need to be where people are. This will not only help recruit new members and other potential candidates, it will get these people in the news where they can be seen by the voters in their districts as BEING recognized throughout the state.

We need to formulate strong, serious and realistic plans and timelines for what will be done between now and the election. We cannot keep operating on the serendipitous hope that voters will choose us because, gosh, we aren’t the other guys. We need to find a few key issues that the state candidates will uniformly speak to. Beyond that, we need to find candidates who cover different interest areas, different experiences and bring different skill sets to the table. We need to offer our disparate candidates as a real slate, working together. Even if we do this, however, we still must operate with the recognition that we can NOT win more than a handful of seats, at best. That is ok, though, because it GIVES us a message and a strategy.

Our candidates must offer very real differences between our party and the status quo. Remember, we are fighting inertia here. Without an extreme effort to shift that inertia, voters will continue to do as they always have. We need to also remember, we that cannot beat the Republicans by being Republicans. Right now, we have more in common with the Democratic Party than we do with the Republicans. We need to find common areas upon which to build cooperation. We have to make the voters see benefits to bringing us to the table. I think that in districts that are represented by good men and women of the Democratic Party, we should consider not running candidates against them and, instead, do what we can to help them. For the bulk of the legislatures, we just want to be allowed in… which will NOT happen with Republican wins and/or majorities. WE need to be seen as a unified and MAINSTREAM team that is working to make a better government than what we currently have. We need to also be seen as the team that can bring the other loose members of the political community (greens, independents, etc.) to the table where, through us, they can be part of the process. If we do that, for example, then we can garner statewide support (particularly financial support), and possibly nation support for simple district elections.

Libertarianism must end its stunted childhood. To become meaningful, we must move it beyond a simply philosophy into a practical vision for realistic government. As we move forward, we must ask AND ANSWER some difficult questions, including:

  • There WILL be government, so how can we improve it?
  • There WILL be taxes, so how can we make them beneficial rather than draconian?
  • A movement can NOT succeed simply by being against things, so what are we FOR?
  • What IS the role of government?
  • What IS the purpose of laws?
  • FOR whom do we speak?
  • TO whom do we speak?
  • How do we become perceived as BEING inclusive and NOT exclusive?

Ronald Reagan famously stated that “Government is not the solution to our problems; it IS the problem.” When he said that, he identified government as something that CANNOT be seen in any kind of a positive way. The idea that we need to promote is: “Government is not the solution to our problems; it is the problem, WHICH WE MUST LEARN TO SOLVE.” That change turns it from being a negative declarative statement into a positive challenge which we can all be unified behind as we work to build something better for the future. Our challenge, as a party, is to figure out how to make the government change so that we will have one that serves the people rather than one which terrifies them.

Sincerely,

Rhys M. Blavier

Romayor, Texas

P.S. – I asked my step-father, a center-right Republican, to look over my first draft of this. He gave me this comment from his perspective:

As an outsider to the Libertarian party, I would be more likely to vote Libertarian if the candidates did not look like mass murderers. The male candidates that I remember had long necks with Adam’s apples that looked like basketballs. The women were over 300 pounds with greasy, stringy hair. They had jobs like gooseberry farmers or manger of a gecko rescue center. What I’m trying to say is that they looked like some kind of fringe people and had no background for the positions for which they were running. Granted, there are some in Congress that makes me wonder what the people who elected them look like.

P.P.S. — Since I originally wrote this, on a recent Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert demonstrated his mastery of satire as a way to point out how ridiculous things in this world or or my seem to be. In one of his stories this week, he was talking about candidates and the third one he named (the spot of shame in comedy) was “… and the Libertarian Party’s last Presidential nominee… Drinky Bird” while behind him flashed a picture of a classic Drinky Bird in a top hat toy and the caption “Drinky Bird ’08”

The Powers to Raise and to Spend Taxes (Liberal Libertarians Discussion Topic #01)

In Boston Tea Party, Charles Jay, Congress, Corruption, Democracy, Economics, Fraud, History, Law, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Politics, Pork, Spending, Taxation, Thomas L. Knapp, US Government, War on April 15, 2009 at 7:29 pm

The single greatest factor behind the rise and development of the English Parliament was taxation. What very quickly developed, and what lasted until the British Monarchy lost its functional power as a part of government and became a marginalized figurehead position (which happened over the course of the 1800s) was that the power to SPEND tax money was separated from the power to RAISE tax money. Under that system, only Parliament could RAISE tax money but only the Monarch could SPEND tax money. If the Monarch wanted to spend anything (for wars, his houses and mistresses, public building projects, anything) they had to convince Parliament to raise the necessary tax monies and give those money to him 9or her). Likewise, if Parliament wanted money spent on anything in particular, they had to convince the Monarch to agree to spend raised money in such ways. The inherent conflict within the system required negotiation and compromise from both sides. Sometimes one side would be more powerful than the other and would dictate to the other. Likewise, Kings would often not actually spend money as they agreed to. THOSE situations would lead to further conflicts in the future. Sometimes the Monarchs would simply get sick of their Parliaments and would dismiss them and not call another to replace it, but then the King could not raise any money. In those situations, the losers would usually be the common people who were hurt by both sides.

One of the main sources of conflicts between Monarchs and Parliaments (as in ALL nations) was the exorbitant costs of the wars which the Monarchs would want to fight. Because of the unique circumstances of both WWII and the Viet Nam war, Americans now think that wars create profit. They do not. Wars are and always have been burdensome drains on the public coffers. Monarchs want wars for various reasons, but those wars HAVE to be paid for… even in a dictatorship… and, historically, most wars bankrupt their nations as well as the other nations involved. Look at the current situation with our undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let’s not even get into the cost to human life or to property, let us just look at the actual fiscal cost to fight them, clean them up, care for our veterans afterwards, intelligence… all of it. The problem is, in America, because of the way the power to raise and spend tax monies is allocated, the dialogue is usually focused on questioning the patriotism of those who disagree with one side; on attempts to gain power by individuals, parties, factions, ideologies or branches of government; or is hurting our ability to deal with OTHER national priorities by saying we can’t question the money we spend on our wars so we cut the pennies in order to be able to keep throwing away the dollars.

So… in all of the discussion we hear these days about taxes, we are still simply talking about the ‘symptom’ of actual taxation rather than trying to explore the root causes of the actual problems. To ME, the issue is not whether or not taxes are too high, or if they are properly spent, it is that there is no incentive or system in place to DISCOURAGE spending OR raising tax money. If you give the people who have the power to SPEND your money the additional power of determining how MUCH of your money they can take you have the fox guarding the hen house. To me, before we talk about the very real issues of tax codes and policies in America, we need to talk about the basic powers involved in the fundamental issue of taxation.

Here is my personal idea, to start the ball rolling:

01.) ONLY The House of Representatives should have the power to RAISE tax monies. The functions of government which deal with raising and accounting for the expenditures of those monies should be placed under the authority of The House… the people’s house of government. I think that the IRS is the wrong organization for our nation but before it can be dismantled, we need to figure out something to take its place because its ROLE is, and will be necessary. We can NOT destroy something which has such a key role in the operation of our government (whether it SHOULD or should NOT HAVE that role is irrelevant… it does and it must be dealt with as a reality). The House should be completely in charge of our nation’s checking and savings account. This would result in Representatives keeping THEIR jobs in large part based on how they keep taxes low.

02.) ONLY the Senate should have the power to SPEND tax monies. The functions of government which deal with purchasing, contracting, supervising, etc. the expenditures of those monies should be placed under the authority of The Senate. The Senate should be completely in charge of our nation’s checkbooks, passbooks, and ATM cards. This would result in Senators keeping THEIR jobs in large part based on how much swag they can send back home.

03.) The President should be the mediator that coordinates the efforts of the two house of Congress and makes the deals. The President would also be the one who would make sure that all agreements between the two houses on both the raising AND the spending of tax monies would be followed to the letter. The President would be the one who makes sure that every side is honest with the other. The President would also be the one who signs off on all agreements (budgets) and certifies them as satisfying all sides and being in the best interest of the American people.

04.) All three parties involved (The House, The Senate and The Executive Branch) would have complete and unrestricted access to all records, notes, documents, EVERYTHING made or kept by any of the other parties regarding ANY issue regarding or relating to taxes. Further, all finalized, ratified and signed budgets and expenditure agreements shall have full force as LAWS for their durations and any violations of any parts if those agreements and budgets can be prosecuted as such, with the individuals responsible for those violations… ALL individuals at ALL levels up and down the ‘food chain’… being PERSONALLY accountable and liable for those violations (whether it is a Senator, the members of a specific committee, or a clerk who signs a check… EVERYONE is accountable and THUS has the motivation to be honest and above board about all actions and decisions regarding taxes).

05.) All three parties involved (The House, The Senate and The Executive Branch) would create a non-partisan, non-governmental committee or board, to which they will all appoint an equal number of members, which has the power and authority to review and mediate all agreements and violations and to make final and binding non-partisan decisions regarding the same when there are ANY questions about or challenges to finalized agreements or budgets which deal with tax monies and their expenditures. Each state would also get to choose one or two members of this board. Obviously all of the exact details would need to be carefully studied and worked out.

06.) SOMEHOW, The Federal Reserve and The National Bank (and any other such relevant entities) would be brought back under full federal control and incorporated into this who system… somehow.

No matter what our own personal and unrealistic idealistic vision of our government is, taxes are real, they are not going to go away and they ARE necessary. What WE need to do is to try to figure out how to make the system work better and fairer so that it can be a positive factor in our society rather than one which puts us at each others. throats.

Ok, those are my initial thoughts. What can anyone else contribute? How can anyone else make these ideas better or give us different ideas which are better? What can we do with this?

Recommended Readings for people interested in this topic are:

1.)For Good and Evil (Second Edition): The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization
By: Charles Adams (Tax Scholar and Historian, Cato Institute Fellow) http://www.amazon.com/Good-Evil-Second-Impact-Civilization/dp/1568332351/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224912619&sr=1-1

2.)Those Dirty Rotten taxes: The Tax Revolts that Built America
By: Charles Adams (Tax Scholar and Historian, Cato Institute Fellow) http://www.amazon.com/Those-Dirty-Rotten-taxes-Revolts/dp/0684871149/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1238470625&sr=1-1

Rhys M. Blavier
Romayor, Texas

© 2009 by Rhys M. Blavier

Thank you for reading this article. Please read my other articles and let me know what you think. I am writing them not to preach or to hear myself think but to try to create dialogs, debates and discussions on the nature of our government and how we can build upon and improve it based on what we have seen and learned over the course of the 225 years of The American Experiment.

To discuss this topic, the discussion thread is going on here: http://blavier.newsvine.com/_news/2009/04/15/2688338-the-powers-to-raise-and-to-spend-taxes-liberal-libertarian-discussion-topic-01

Barr on DOMA 12 years later

In Civil Liberties, Congress, Constitutional Rights, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Personal Responsibility, Politics, US Government on January 5, 2009 at 2:57 pm

From the Los Angeles Times, 1-5-09:

No defending the Defense of Marriage Act

The author of the federal Defense of Marriage Act now thinks it’s time for his law to get the boot — but for political reasons, not in support of gays.
By Bob Barr
January 5, 2009
» Discuss Article
In 1996, as a freshman member of the House of Representatives, I wrote the Defense of Marriage Act, better known by its shorthand acronym, DOMA, than its legal title. The law has been a flash-point for those arguing for or against same-sex marriage ever since President Clinton signed it into law. Even President-elect Barack Obama has grappled with its language, meaning and impact.I can sympathize with the incoming commander in chief. And, after long and careful consideration, I have come to agree with him that the law should be repealed.

The left now decries DOMA as the barrier to federal recognition and benefits for married gay couples. At the other end of the political spectrum, however, DOMA has been lambasted for subverting the political momentum for a U.S. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. In truth, the language of the legislation — like that of most federal laws — was a compromise.

DOMA was indeed designed to thwart the then-nascent move in a few state courts and legislatures to afford partial or full recognition to same-sex couples. The Hawaii court case Baehr vs. Lewin, still active while DOMA was being considered by Congress in mid-1996, provided the immediate impetus.

The Hawaii court was clearly leaning toward legalizing same-sex marriages. So the first part of DOMA was crafted to prevent the U.S. Constitution’s “full faith and credit” clause — which normally would require State B to recognize any lawful marriage performed in State A — from being used to extend one state’s recognition of same-sex marriage to other states whose citizens chose not to recognize such a union.

Contrary to the wishes of a number of my Republican colleagues, I crafted the legislation so it wasn’t a hammer the federal government could use to force states to recognize only unions between a man and a woman. Congress deliberately chose not to establish a single, nationwide definition of marriage.

However, we did incorporate into DOMA’s second part a definition of marriage that comported with the historic — and, at the time, widely accepted — view of the institution as being between a man and a woman only. But this definition was to be used solely to interpret provisions of federal law related to spouses.

The first part of DOMA, then, is a partial bow to principles of federalism, protecting the power of each state to determine its definition of marriage. The second part sets a legal definition of marriage only for purposes of federal law, but not for the states. That was the theory.

I’ve wrestled with this issue for the last several years and come to the conclusion that DOMA is not working out as planned. In testifying before Congress against a federal marriage amendment, and more recently while making my case to skeptical Libertarians as to why I was worthy of their support as their party’s presidential nominee, I have concluded that DOMA is neither meeting the principles of federalism it was supposed to, nor is its impact limited to federal law.

In effect, DOMA’s language reflects one-way federalism: It protects only those states that don’t want to accept a same-sex marriage granted by another state. Moreover, the heterosexual definition of marriage for purposes of federal laws — including, immigration, Social Security survivor rights and veteran’s benefits — has become a de facto club used to limit, if not thwart, the ability of a state to choose to recognize same-sex unions.

Even more so now than in 1996, I believe we need to reduce federal power over the lives of the citizenry and over the prerogatives of the states. It truly is time to get the federal government out of the marriage business. In law and policy, such decisions should be left to the people themselves.

In 2006, when then-Sen. Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, he said, “Decisions about marriage should be left to the states.” He was right then; and as I have come to realize, he is right now in concluding that DOMA has to go. If one truly believes in federalism and the primacy of state government over the federal, DOMA is simply incompatible with those notions.

Bob Barr represented the 7th District of Georgia in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003 and was the Libertarian Party’s 2008 nominee for president.

New Activist Tool

In Libertarian Party-US on December 22, 2008 at 11:36 am

I was casting around for ways to get useful feedback on the Libertarian Party’s website and the policy statements it contains to the Party leadership. I decided that a public forum where the website’s articles, polls, press releases, etc. can be discussed in a focused manner without personal rancor would be a good idea.

Thus, lp-discuss.org.

I hope folks will try it out, make suggestions for improvements, and make it into a useful feedback mechanism for the LP’s leadership. I expect some break-in issues as this is the first time I’ve used Geeklog (which seems to be VERY easy to work with; an impression I dearly hope is not illusory).

Thanks in advance for any suggestions, and for trying out the new space!

LPNY Chair Eric Sundwall to appear on “Break The Matrix”

In Activism, Libertarian Party-US, Media, Politics, Press Release, War on December 18, 2008 at 6:25 pm

From http://www.breakthematrix.com/node/31103:

Join us tomorrow for a Splitscreen show on Wake Up America Show channel 1

9am eastern Join us for an interview with Eric Sundwall http://ericsundwall.com/ to discuss the Libertarian Party, its principles and the direction of the party.

http://www.breakthematrix.com/content/Eric-Sundwall-NY-Libertarian-Party…

10am eastern Join the BTM Book Club as we feature Thomas Woods and Murray Polner a Transpartisan team who have written a great new book “WE WHO DARE TO SAY NO TO WAR”

http://www.breakthematrix.com/content/Thomas-Woods-Murray-Polner-Book-of…

These interviews will be conducted on the splitscreen so don’t miss it and we will see you in the chat room

Be a Leader in Liberty!

Kurt Wallace

My Last Hurrah

In Activism, Barack Obama, Congress, Iraq War, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Media, People in the news, Politics, US Government, War on December 13, 2008 at 1:21 pm
My Last Hurrah This will be the last “Vortex of Freedom” show. I will be starting a new show after the New Year. The topics and subjects will vary.

Show is tonight from 11:00PM-12:00AM Eastern.  Call-in number is (347)-215-7969 or listen live on Blog Talk Radio.

Haugh: LP Whistleblower?

In Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics 2008 on December 10, 2008 at 4:11 pm

Sean Haugh posts a tell-all (or tell-most) article at Liberty For All, Lee Wrights’ blog, about sexual harassment issues at the national HQ in ’05, involving M. Carling, who had served as an LNC regional rep and is now serving as the LP’s parliamentarian.

Sean mentions that he started the article in ’05, killed it out of party loyalty, and is now publishing it in light of the Keaton charges for the same reason – party loyalty.

I am not sure if this post goes against the LP staff policy of not posting on ‘blogs. I am also not sure what, if any, efforts Haugh took to have this addressed privately with the LNC before going public with it. He ends with a strong indictment of Chair Redpath:

The message is loud and clear.  With Bill Redpath as our Chair, it is open season on women in leadership or on staff of the Libertarian National Committee.  People such as Keaton who crusade against sexual and gender bias within the party will be run out of town on a rail.  Meanwhile, men who have a history of real sexual harassment will be protected and even promoted by Bill Redpath.

EXCLUSIVE: More LP Executive Session Info Leaked

In Activism, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics 2008, Personal Responsibility, Politics, Protest on December 9, 2008 at 10:45 pm

This is the letter I just sent to the LNC.

*****

December 9, 2009.

To the LNC:

In open session on Sunday, December 7, LNC Region #7 Representative Rachel Hawkridge was observed inadvertently mentioning Executive Session material. She immediately realized her mistake and publicly apologized.

It is in the best interest of the LNC to not pursue any sanctions of any sort against Ms. Hawkridge in this matter, because it will open another can of worms the LNC does not want to deal with. Please remember that I was present, not only broadcasting the meeting over the Internet, but also recording the broadcast and Twittering it out as well, where the Twitters were captured and blogged. In terms of what happened, I am an expert witness, and the events in question are well-documented.

That recording indicates that while Ms. Hawkridge undoubtedly leaked Executive Session material, she was not the first to do so. That would be the Treasurer, Mr. Aaron Starr. I also noticed it myself and Twittered the event.

To quote myself directly from the Twitter feed, in chronological order, typographical errors and all:

Starr just leaked that ES was about “staffing changes”. You draw the conclusions. 11:20 AM Dec 7th from web

Hawkridge also leaks ES on “staff cuts.” Mea cupla for her. But Starr already did it earlier. 11:37 AM Dec 7th from web

The words on the Twitters are quoted accurately, and the taped evidence of the open session confirms it, and is easily available to the public for viewing.

The difference in the words is irrelevant, as anybody who watched the budgetary part of the open session could plainly deduce that the “staffing changes” Mr. Starr refers to is the “staffing cuts” that Ms. Hawkridge refers to—the worst-kept secret in the room, in any case.

The only other difference is that Ms. Hawkridge expressed remorse for her accident and immediately apologized. Mr. Starr neither indicated remorse nor apologized. The conclusion is easily drawn that Mr. Starr’s actions were intentional and contemptuous of the rules. If they were not intentional, then Mr. Starr’s lack of awareness of leaking Executive Session material indicates an incompetence level unworthy of the office of LP Treasurer, and Mr. Starr ought to consider resigning in favor of someone more aware.

If the LNC chooses to pursue action against Ms. Hawkridge for an accidental slip of the tongue, then it is obligated to pursue more severe action against Mr. Starr for a deliberate one—perhaps even the actions sought in the most recent deliberate instance, meaning those sought in the shameful kangaroo case brought against Ms. Keaton, which if I recall correctly, was suspension from the LNC.

So the LNC is faced with four options.

Should action be pursued against Ms. Hawkridge and not Mr. Starr, then the membership will conclude it to be further evidence of a “purge” within the LNC—the very thing that further erodes the credibility of the LNC as a leadership body.

Should action be pursued against Mr. Starr and not Ms. Hawkridge, then the membership will conclude it to be Justice for past issues which may or may not have any bearing on the current situation.

Should action be pursued against both Ms. Hawkridge and Mr. Starr, then the membership will conclude it to be consistent but evidence of further unproductiveness, further eroding credibility of the LNC as a leadership body.

The only tangible and credible option left is to drop both matters completely and move on to much more important matters, perhaps with an appropriate public apology by Mr. Starr for his transgression.

At the end of the public comments section that day, I warned the LNC that while videotaping the meetings could produce evidence of liability, it could also provide exculpatory evidence, and that it all depended on how the LNC conducts itself. Here we see a perfect example of what I was referring to in how the body conducts itself. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a video is worth a million pictures.

I am very sure the LNC does not wish to further expand on its current public relations disaster by pursuing this now or any time in the future. It is in the best interest of the LNC to simply let both matters drop, and I strongly encourage that route of inaction. Discretion is the better part of valor, and sometimes it is best to let sleeping dogs lie.

Sincerely,

Michael W. Seebeck

*****

Ironic, though, it bounced on Sullentrup, who had his email changed recently.  They can’t seem to get contact info for the officers updated very fast, but they wasted no time at all in removing Ms. Keaton from the page…and Mr. Squyres, who has also resigned, remains up as well.  Nice priorities!

Technical notes from the LNC “LP-SPAN” broadcast

In Activism, Corruption, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics 2008, Politics, Protest on December 9, 2008 at 2:42 am

I’ve returned from the great adventure I call “LP-SPAN” and here are my thoughts on the technical side of the issue. It is my hope that we can take this and build on it to make the next round of LNC insanity even better in terms of the broadcast quality. All suggestions are definitely appreciated. This is most definitely a work in progress.

The equipment:

I was using a Microsoft LifeCam either attached to a clip on the top of my laptop or on its independent pole. The camera allows pan and zoom IF you use the Microsoft software. However, the Justin.tv feed doesn’t allow that. No idea if Ustream does. I also had trouble with lighting issues in the room, especially the projector screen glare.

For future, I’d recommend a real videocam on a tripod, which should be able to create a better view and video quality. Personal experience suggests a bird-watching scope tripod over a camera tripod for lightness and ease of use. Plus mine has super-high elevation so it could pan over the crowd. Background lighting was also a factor as the projection screen glare and the lights in the ceiling behind everyone made the picture quality poor.

The laptop was sitting on a tray table I had brought along since the room didn’t have any tables except for catering or the meeting table. It caused shaking of the cam at times when I tweeted, and the hunch-over caused havoc on my back over time. I was hurting badly until Rachel gave me a much-needed back rub. “Bitchin’!” 🙂

I’d recommend not having the camera attached to the laptop or at least set up in a way that it doesn’t shake. That and having a good setup so the laptop is the proper height to the user.

I’d also recommend a good omnidirectional microphone set up where everything can be caught well. The mic built into the webcam also caught my comments and occasional whispers, and a lot of extra noise. At SD the board table was in a cube with an open center, and the mic in there would have been best. I didn’t have that and it would have been a big help.

The testing:

I made sure that I understood how it all tied together and I did some test runs at home to make sure. That made a big difference come show time. However, the differences between my den and the meeting room were vast. I’d recommend testing in the meeting room if at all possible, because of the acoustics and lighting.

I tried the Justin.tv feed with the laptop’s webcam, then the external one recording, then with outside people and trying to embed.

Embedding the live feed was also a challenge. I had Todd Barnett on the phone helping to troubleshoot on his end. It helps to have someone on the receiving end to evaluate the reception. Ditto during the meeting. The justin.tv feed had a chat room built into each feed window, and that made getting the feedback easy, which came in handy when the connection got bad. Justin.tv does NOT work with WordPress well, unless Todd and I just missed something, which is certainly possible. I got it to embed at blogger/blogspot just fine. Other embedding notes are appreciated.

We also encountered a horrible screeching when we were testing, until we figured out that it was caused by the laptop speakers output being picked up by the webcam mic and creating a nasty feedback loop. The solution was to mute the speakers. Wear headphones when adjusting the microphone volume in advance.

The Feed:

First, I was on the hotel’s wireless connection, which at times was very slow. The more people that were logged into the network, the slower it got. If you can, use a wired connection to ensure the connection rate stays consistent.

Second, it is extremely important to have someone on the other end provide feedback on the reception. On my end, the display on the popout window was far different than the one in the main window. Here the chat box was invaluable, and I was lucky to have multiple people giving me feedback.

Third, Justin.tv gave me the option to record as we broadcast. Do it. It saves off the pieces online for later download. I’d suggest stopping and restarting the recording at various spots to break it up into manageable segments instead of one long one. I always made sure to check the bandwidth between recordings because of the wireless, but I don’t think that may be necessary on a wired connection.

The twitter:

It’s a great tool to do this live. Yes, the 140 character limit can be an issue at times. I’d recommend two tweets, both in the gallery rather than on the board, who should focus on what is going on anyway. Plus, it removes any issue about “decorum” or “executive session”, but the tweets should be as neutral as possible. The advantage of two is that one can pick up what the other missed, which is an area I had trouble with at times. I’d also suggest that if you can’t get on a wired connection, then see if the tweet can be done on a Blackberry. The wireless connection problems that plagued the feed connection also slowed down the tweets. It may be advisable to have whomever is tweeting be different from the camera operations.

All in all, my rig was a little crude, but it was something. I don’t see this as too difficult, just taking a little getting used to. If you test beforehand and practice, it goes better.

It is my hope that anyone else who does this will report back here and add their own thoughts as well.

Barr campaign ends in major debt while his PAC continues to fund Republicans

In Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics on December 5, 2008 at 9:39 am

You can look up Barr’s filings here:

But just a few notes. He seems to have ended his campaign in major debt – with $38,478.79 cash-on-hand, his debt is $233,327.41. Yes, a quarter-million dollars, about 20% of his total fundraising effort. It’s itemized here, but I’ll also reproduce the itemization:

Campaigner Pro 2379 Holly Lane Ste 210
Ottawa, ON K1V 7P2
, ____
12 6057.34 Software
American Express PO Box 981540
El Paso, Texas 799981540
12 44057.28 Campaign Expenses
Gillis Express Mailing 9208 Enterprise Ct
Manassas Park, Virginia 201114809
12 433.95 Direct Marketing
All Points Packaging & Distribution, In 1650 Marietta Blvd NW
Atlanta, Georgia 303183645
12 1149.42 Online Order Fulfillment
Press Well Services, Inc. 9204-B Vassau Ct
Manassas Park, Virginia 201114849
12 1756.13 Printing
UPS PO Box 7247-0244
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19170
12 1362.05 Shipping
McKenna Long & Aldridge PO Box 116573
Atlanta, Georgia 30368
12 39414.69 Legal Fees
Terra Eclipse 9043 Soquel Dr
Aptos, California 95003
12 35566.87 IT
Mr. Shane Cory 5 Burwell Place
Stafford, Virginia 225547828
12 20105.82 Political Consulting
Dr. Robert B. Stuber 11401 Little Bay Harbor Way
Spotsylvania, Virginia 225518904
12 4000.00 Political Consulting
Mr. Steve Sinton 1923 Fields Pond Glen
Marietta, Georgia 300681575
12 4000.00 Political Consulting
Lisa Franzman 21 N. Kalaheo Ave
Kailua, Hawaii 96734
12 2160.00 Rent
Russ Verney 6812 Summer Meadow Ln
Dallas, Texas 75252
12 15000.00 Political Consulting
Wayne Allen Root PO Box 725007
Atlanta, Georgia 311392007
12 4797.81 Campaign Expenses
James Bovard 1348 Templeton Place
Rockville, Maryland 20852
12 47000.00 Authoring Fee
Doug Bandow 7901 Cliff Rock Ct
Springfield, Virginia 22153
12 6466.05 Political Consulting

And, lest we forget, his PAC is still active. And still funding at least one Republican (Greg Ball) mere weeks before the election.

Georgia LP passes resolution against LNC’s proposed Keaton suspension

In Activism, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics 2008, Politics, Protest on December 2, 2008 at 12:09 am

The following is a Resolution passed by the Libertarian Party of Georgia this evening, with regard to the LNC’s Resolution of Discipline regarding LNC At-Large Representative Angela Keaton:

Resolved, the Libertarian Party of Georgia expresses its deep disappointment with the Libertarian National Committee in its continued activities regarding Angela Keaton and it neglect of its proper Party duties, and expresses a desire that the LNC get back on proper course for the LP by actually working for the growth of the Party and advancing public policy in a libertarian direction, instead of engaging in self-destructive, alienating, embarrassing, and pointless internal squabbles.

You can read about the LNC’s Resolution of Discipline here, including a PDF of the actual Resolution.

Call to Arms: Resolution of Discipline against Angela Keaton

In Activism, Boston Tea Party, Crazy Claims, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics 2008, Lies and the lying liars who tell them, Politics, Protest on December 1, 2008 at 10:15 pm

The charges against Angela Keaton have finally been disclosed (well, leaked, LOL) and Stewart Flood is behind them.  He wrote it, and he plans to present it on Saturday.

Grab your popcorn, folks, because this one is a doozy.  Strangely, it reflects far more upon Stewart than it does on Angela.  After reading it over, it’s my opinion that Stewie needs both a humor implant, and a life.  It must have taken him forever to dig up all this crap on Ms. Keaton, and most of it obviously was just a joke on her part, an exaggeration on his part, and/or taken completely out of context.  The rest I’ll have to check into, but as far as I’m concerned, just glancing over it based upon what I have seen, the charges are a joke.

Of particular interest is the allegation that Ms. Keaton provided material support to another political party (assumably the BTP).  What exactly was Bob Barr doing, both when he sat on the LNC and was the LP’s presidential candidate, while his PAC contributed thousands to Republican candidates, if not providing material support to another party?  Why wasn’t he brought up on disciplinary charges? 

The resolution is to suspend her, but the suspension will be rescinded if she submits a written apology to millions of people within seven days, on about 20 differerent alleged “offenses”, to be published in LP News.  This is clearly in my opinion nothing but an attempt to humiliate her, given the very weird nature of the charges, and force her to bend to the demands of the reformers.  

So, here’s your assignment, LFV contributors and readers.  Dig up all the dirt you can on every single person she has allegedly harmed, according to the resolution.  I know there’s a lot out there, because I have received a lot of it over time.  I’m talking everything, from Stewart allegedly claiming to have been a Unabomber suspect, to men on the LNC calling Angela a “fucking bitch”.  Post it in comments.  

Here’s the “Resolution of Discipline”:  resolution-of-discipline-for-angela-keaton

Beatin’ Keaton

In Libertarian Party-US on December 1, 2008 at 5:29 pm

It seems the fate of elected Libertarian National Committee member Angela Keaton is the main event on the LNC agenda this weekend.  Perhaps the LNC, meeting a month after the Libertarian Party ticket receieved 0.4% of the national popular vote, elected zero senators, zero members of Congress, and zero governors, when an incumbent president and vice president may be guilty of war crimes, and when an incoming president has the potential to become a latter-day Franklin Delano Roosevelt, feels there is nothing more pressing to be discussing.

I cannot speak to the charges against Ms. Keaton, because, at least from what information I have seen, no one knows what they are.  Even in a court system many Libertarians decry, defendants are told what they are being asked to defend themselves against.  The LNC seems set on Guantanamo-style prosecution.  Maybe 9/11 really did change everything.

I have never met Ms. Keaton (nor anyone on the current LNC, except for a brief introduction to Dr. Mary Ruwart years ago), but we have had many friendly exchanges online and I consider her a friend.  Because of that, even if I did know what was alleged against her, I might have a hard time being objective about it.  It does seem to me that the months-long public discussion over her fate has been intended to pressure her into resigning.  If I were her, I would probably do so — not because it’s the right thing to do, but because I have the intestinal fortitude of a particularly nervous kitten.  I am prone to hyper-sensitivity and to take slights personally, which is part of why I am not running for LNC or any other office.  Ms. Keaton, thankfully, is made of sterner stuff.  I hope she will not resign, and in fact will continue her run for the 2012 presidential nomination, even if — or especially if — removed from the LNC.

According to Dr. George Phillies, Bob Barr headed a political action committee that contributed money to non-Libertarian candidates who faced Libertarian rivals during Barr’s tenure on the LNC.  I do not believe Mr. Barr was suspended or removed for these actions.  Therefore, I hope when the LNC considers whatever allegations are raised against Ms. Keaton, it will use this precedent as a low bar.  Is anything she may have done worse than actively working against the Libertarian Party’s candidates while on the LNC?