Steve G.

Posts Tagged ‘Mike Gravel’

Why I Reject Mike Gravel’s National Initiative

In Activism, Democracy, Libertarian, Local Politics, Minorities, Personal Responsibility, Spending, US Government on February 10, 2010 at 6:37 pm

For some time now, Mike Gravel, a former Democratic Senator representing Alaska, has been advocating the National Initiative for Democracy (NI4D).  It was, in fact, the main focus of his 2008 campaign for the U.S. presidency.

The NI4D is a proposal, put forward by The Democracy Foundation, to create ballot initiatives at the U.S. federal level, that is, allow the American people the power to propose and vote on laws directly, bypassing the politician in Washington.  Along with Gravel, Ralph Nader and Tom Knapp have also endorsed this proposal.

Gravel makes this sound good, claiming that the people can, under his proposal, repeal the many egregious laws foisted upon us by the political class.  He provides a solidly libertarian defence, saying that this initiative will “stem[] government growth.”  Writes Gravel,

American citizens can gain control of their government by becoming lawmakers and turning its purpose to public benefit, and stemming government growth—the people are more conservative than their elected ofcials regardless of political party.

With all due respect to Mr. Gravel, whom I still consider to be a hero for his role in ending the draft and the Vietnam War, I reject the NI4D proposal.  While it’s not the worst proposal in the world, it fails to address the fundamental problem of governance vis-à-vis the natural, inalienable rights of the individual.  It does not promote true self-government, but rather erects an illusory self-governance.

We need to devolve all government power, not simply down to the state level, not simply down to the county level, not simply down to the level of the local community (although that would certainly be a step in the right direction), but all the way down to the individual level.  No person should be able to have power over another person’s life except insofar as the second person chooses to allow the person to have said power, and for a duration no longer than the second person allows. Unfortunately, democracy allows majority factions to rule over minorities, and as such, I have to reject democracy in favour of individualist anarchism.

Now, by anarchism I certainly do not mean that chaotic state of existence we call lawlessness or anomie.  By anarchy, I merely mean that state of existence in which no person is considered to legitimately rule over the person or justly-acquired property of anyone else.  My anarchism is clearly a libertarian anarchism, for I consider such actions as rape, murder, and the theft or unconsensual destruction of someone’s justly-acquired property as violations of natural law, what I call “natural crimes.”  Of course, one is justified in using defensive force, if one so wishes, against these “natural criminals,” so long as the defensive force used is proportional to the initiatory forced employed by the criminal.

Benjamin Tucker, the nineteenth century individualist anarchist most famous for his newspaper Liberty, defined anarchists as

simply unterrified Jeffersonian Democrats.  They believe that “the best government is that which governs least,” and that that which governs least is no government at all.  Even the simple police function of protecting person and property they deny to governments supported by compulsory taxation.  Protection they look upon as a thing to be secured, as long as it is necessary, by voluntary association and cooperation for self-defence, or as a commodity to be purchased, like any other commodity, of those who offer the best article at the lowest price.  In their view it is in itself an invasion of the individual to compel him to pay for or suffer a protection against invasion that he has not asked for and does not desire.

Gravel correctly notes, in his defence of the NI4D, that “[g]overnments throughout history have been tools of oppression,” but he then incorrectly adds: “they need not be.”  The state is an inherently oppressive, inherently aggressive institution, for all states, in order to be states, either must steal the products of someone’s labour, must dictate how people may live their lives and spend their money (even when said people are acting entirely nonviolently), or must use aggression to prevent private security agencies from having an equal footing under the law with itself.  If the state were to cease doing these three things, then it would cease to be a state, but would instead become simply a private charity or firm.

In an address delivered in 1877, the venerable liberal Lord Acton stated,

It is bad to be oppressed by a minority; but it is worse to be oppressed by a majority.  For there is a reserve of latent power in the masses which, if it is called into play, the minority can seldom resist.  But from the absolute will of an entire people there is no appeal, no redemption, no refuge but treason.  The humblest and most numerous class of the Athenians united the legislative, the judicial, and in part, the executive power.  The philosophy that was then in the ascendant taught them that there is no law superior to that of the state, and that, in the state, the law-giver is above the law.

If the NI4D is established, people will be no freer than they were prior to its establishment.  All that will have changed is that the individual will gain a single, minuscule vote on matters of dire importance, a vote that will be completely overwhelmed by the combined votes of the others.  In other words, the individual will still be under the tyrannical control of others, will still be a victim of oppression.

If people are reticent in telling George Bush and Barack Obama, “No, you don’t have a right to run my life,” how much less willing will they be to say that to the supposed vox populi?

In summation, the National Initiative for Democracy sounds nice, but it won’t give people the freedom to control their own lives, all it will give them is a vote in the control of the lives of their neighbours.  Worse yet, because it will create the illusion of self-rule, of self-government, it will discourage people from fighting for their own liberation, and as such, is a highly anti-libertarian and counter-revolutionary idea.

—Alexander S. Peak

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Voices from LFV Mailbag: Austrian Economist on the LP Convention

In Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics on May 31, 2008 at 6:43 pm

I received the below article, written by Austrian Economist, in the LFV inbox. Please note that the article does not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of LFV or its contributors.

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The Poison of Purity: How Steve Kubby’s Loyalty Unraveled the Libertarian Party

(This is not meant to be anything more than an analysis of the LP presidential vote and what COULD have been, or perhaps what SHOULD have been.)

There was a point during the Libertarian Convention on Sunday at which all was not yet lost to Bob Barr and his Republican-lite sympathies.

You may have seen the eccentric pro-Mike Gravel signs encouraging delegates to “Fight Senator with Senator” or comparing Barr’s career accolades with those of Gravel. Signing the Patriot Act or ending the Draft? Defense of Marriage Act or releasing The Pentagon Papers? Hmmmm… Sufficed to say, it was amusing and poignant. Less amusing was proto-fascist and turd-for-hire Stephen Gordon ripping these signs down in the supposed “Free Speech Zone”.

On the first ballot, there were a few surprises. One: how Barr would seemingly flatline around 160-ish votes. Two: Mary Ruwart’s dedicated acolytes, pushing her into a similar vote range. And third, how Wayne Allyn Root had more support than many gave him credit for. But there was still plenty of room to wrangle support scattered throughout the delegation. Or so one would have thought.

Second round, Jingozian and Smith are out. Endorsement to Gravel from Jingozian, no major surprise following his introduction speech for Gravel. So then Kubby is low man on the totem poll. Here’s where things get interesting. Earlier that morning, I have it on good word that Kubby indicated to the Gravel campaign that he wanted the Senator to “be the standard bearer.” Very encouraging news. So where was this sentiment when he gave his concession speech & endorsement for Ruwart? In the end, Kubby chose friendship over principle, which is cute, but ultimately meaningless and irrelevant. THIS was the lynchpin moment of the election, the crux when Libertarians got it so damn wrong.

Let’s examine how things MAY have played out if Kubby made the principled decision of what he knew was best. The following scenario is narrated in the sequence of the convention voting. So, Kubby’s endorsement of Gravel not only rattles his own supporters, but as a long-time voice, icon, and martyr in the party, it bolsters the growing impression of Gravel as the most effective candidate.

Next round. Phillies is now in less of a quandary, and can contribute to the continual Gravel-anche of support. As a centrist himself, this is a major statement that Gravel is the glue to preserve and promote the Libertarian party. That would make THREE endorsements to Gravel, none to anyone else.

Suddenly, Gravel has leapfrogged Root in the votes, putting him in a position of leverage and influence. Root is amenable to Gravel, and recognizes what he brings to the party. Like everyone else, Root wants nothing to do with Barr. He strikes a deal and gentlemanly agreement with Gravel, yielding an enthusiastic endorsement. Gravel will serve as elder statesman of the LP, and Root a promising future voice (with good tutelage, not Barr’s indoctrination).

Given Root’s endorsement, Gravel is suddenly in 2nd place, either behind Ruwart or Barr. Were he behind Ruwart, those previously for Barr would recognize Gravel’s star-power and Libertarian pragmatism, thus shifting his way. Were he behind Barr, any purist would swing Gravel’s way, as would the 100-odd Root supporters. Regardless, he’d muscle out the final vote.

BOTTOM LINE—had he made the final ballot, Gravel would likely have succeeded in securing the nomination. Sadly, the LP fell prey to its worst vice, that of self-importance and self-indulgence. Delegates put themselves in the precarious situation of either nominating a shady Republican-goon or a lackluster, pedantic spokesperson who essentially condoned child pornography in writing. Let’s not forget the prominent article the morning of the vote that dealt with Ruwart and child pornography. Whether or not it came from the Barr camp, the LP would have been OBLITERATED the moment Ruwart received the nomination. Ultimately, could the choices have been any more stupid?

Personally, I voted None of the Above, because either vote would essentially destroy the LP, which it has now gleefully done to itself. Were a gun to my head, I’d probably have voted Barr, since scruples can be forgiven far more readily by the American people than a tolerance for pederasts. I wouldn’t like doing it, but hey, a gun’s to my head, so that’s already a violation of Libertarian principles (har har).

All that said, I congratulate the Libtards for failing to capitalize on the first (and potentially last) great opportunity to come your way. Whether that chance comes again, I know not. But I’d encourage you to aggressively court Jesse Ventura as your 2012 candidate. Otherwise, just go onto the NAMBLA listserves now and save yourselves the trouble.

Gravel was right all along… the LP could continue to be an irrelevant, half-a-percent party. Had they elected Ruwart, this would’ve been the case. At least with Barr, you’ll get national media, albeit inconsistent with your core values. In essence, you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t, and screwed every which way but loose. The LP may now be remotely viable, but has compromised any integrity in order to do so.

There really isn’t much else that can be said. In a democracy, the voice of the people reigns supreme. Gravel readily recognized this is his most humble, accepting words following his defeat. Yet apparently, the democracy of the LP yields sleazy mustaches and utopian anarchists. Neither of which I enjoy, and neither of which I could bring myself to vote for.

Now we see that Kubby is calling for Libertarians to support Barr/Root. Coming from a guy who firestarted the convention with the statement that Barr had yet to “wash the blood from his hands” as a bellicose, anti-medical marijuana czar, that’s an abrupt change of heart. I don’t begrudge this at all… I like Kubby and hope that he can salvage what is now a party ripped asunder. Too bad he is playing smart politics after-the-fact, when he could have made the wise decision when it actually mattered.

Remember—you did this to yourselves, so shame on you all, and better luck next time. The road to irrelevance is a gleefully indulgent path, for sure! Gravel’s words might be well-advised next time around:

“We are Americans first, and Libertarians second.”

Sadly, some didn’t get that memo.

G.E. in Denver III: Gravel vs. Starchild (and Andy)

In Economics, George Phillies, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Mike Jingozian, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Steve Kubby, Wayne Allen Root on May 23, 2008 at 5:28 am

Next was Q&A. One of the first questions was asked by Starchild. I don’t know the proper pronoun to use here, and I don’t want to be offensive, so I’ll say SC. SC asked the candidates, [note: please assume all quotes are paraphrased], “Do you believe the core of libertarianism is that you should be able to do what you want with your own body, life, and property, so long as you infringe on no one else?” They (Link, Mary Ruwart, Kubby, Gravel and Jingo all raised their hands). “Okay, then how can some of you support coercive taxation to fund education.” It was targeted to Gravel, of course.

I’ll skip the blow by blow and tell you that Gravel and Starchild had a rather length exchange. Stardchild kept SC’s cool, but dismissively (and deservedly) shook SC’s head and smiled at some of Gravel’s outlandishly statist propositions, but Gravel got fuming mad, shouting down SC. Gravel said you can’t have liberty without education and that without government schools, everyone would be dumb. And of course, we are too dumb now precisely because government schools are too decentralized. SC pointed out Gravel’s many contradictions which made the old man rage. “What do you want?” he asked, “voluntary education?” YES!, the crowd roared. “Show me where that has worked,” Gravel demanded.

At this point, Andy got into the act. “Right here in this country,” he said. Gravel disagreed. Andy set him straight. “FINE!” Gravel barked. “You want to go back to the 18th century, go right ahead.” Andy rejoined: “It’s not going back to the 18th century, it’s going back to freedom.” (That was a direct quote). The crowd erupted in cheers while the Maoist Gravel cohort sat on their hands.

Finally, Jim Duesning made Gravel shut up and let Steve Kubby speak. “There’s never a justification for using force to achieve goals,” he said. Short and sweet. Jingo said the same thing (he may have said it before Kubby, actually), and I waned to ask him how he saw protectionism as non-coercive.

There were a lot of questions on which Gravel’s anti-libertarian colors were exposed. At one point, he literally ridiculed libertarians for never getting anything done. Mary Ruwart pointed out that libertarians have changed people’s attitudes. This did not register with Gravel, who thinks change can only come through coercion.

A gentleman asked a question about the Fed and central banking. Link had disappeared by now and no one noticed. Jingo recalled a conversation with the Liberty Dollar founder (Bernand something) and agreed with him that a competing currency would destroy the Fed in a less tumultuous manner than an outright abolition. Jingo pointed out that saying “let’s allow competing currencies” seems completely logical to average voters.

Kubby and Ruwart gave predictably sound answers. Kubby pointed out that the dollar’s value, when compared to the loony, has halved. Ruwart blamed regulations for gold-standard-era depressions.

Gravel’s answer was thoroughly statist. He said gold and silver were dumb because Russia and South Africa had all the gold and silver (as if that matters). He then lionized that great libertarian, Abe Lincoln, as the pioneer of fiat money, with his government-issued greenbacks. Gravel thought it was great that these helped fund the War Against Southern Independence. He wants more authority for the government over money.

Oh, and I should mention that Jim Duesning said, “I wish George Phillies were here to answer this question.” Phillies, of course, supports the Fed’s monetary fascism. It was the second potshot at Phillies. Earlier, someone asked, “Where’s Bob Barr?” Duesning said all candidates had been invited and that anyone who did not think 9/11 needed an investigation, who trusted the government, was not a libertarian. He specifically mentioned the names Phillies, Root, and Barr (although allowed for as how they may have had legitimate commitments to other events).

Andy asked the next question: What do you think of the Fair Tax and the NAU. No one really talked about NAU, but a FairTax debate erupted, with Gravel supporting it strongly. Kubby made a whole new set of arguments against the FairTax that I had not even considered — as if that even needed to be done! Mary Ruwart said, “the only FairTax is NO TAX.” The crowd liked that. Gravel rambled on about how the LP was a “half-percent party” because of things like this. He is Dear Leader, and if we only follow him, we will win. What a hollow victory that would be.

There was some other mild drama, although I don’t remember when. A weird guy tried to take the stage, and Jim Duesning had to have him thrown out. “Don’t make me come off this stage!” he yelled at the dude. I felt bad for Duesning. He put on a good event.

G.E. live from Denver: Part 2 – Libertarians for Justice

In Daniel Imperato, Humor, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Mike Jingozian, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Steve Kubby on May 23, 2008 at 5:02 am

I left off last time just as I was about go to to sleep, having had only four total hours the past two days. I did, and woke up four hours later, just in time for the Libertarians for Justice event. I chatted with some nice “Truthers” (I hate that word but don’t know a better one). There is no doubt that there are unanswered questions that need answering.

Anyway, I lost track of time, and when I went into the actual event, Mary Ruwart was speaking. I had missed Jim Burns. Ruwart gave a nice Ron Paulian speech, but the crowd had not warmed up yet.

Next up was Imperato. He was wearing some kind of papal knight accessory. He said he had an office next door to the Twin Towers and that he had friends who jumped out of windows. He said his employees heard bombs go off in the basement, but that he thinks they were planted by the terrorists. The cover up, he says, is to protect the bureaucrats who failed. Plausible enough. Then he goes into how the reason Muslims hate America has to do with Jacob and Esau, and that Christopher Columbe, a Jew, consecrated America as a Judeo-Christian land (no mention of the fact that “Columbe” never set foot on North America). George Washington also took his oath of office on the exact spot of the Twin Towers, according to Imperato, and Muslims attacked out jealousy . . . Jealousy over the Jewish people’s “shrewdness” at “controlling Wall Street.”

I can’t remember who came next, but I’m pretty sure it was Jingzian. Mike Jingozian is a really good speaker, and he did a great job. Seems like a nice guy. Not 100% libertarian, though. Also puts on airs. Presents self as expert on foreign policy and finance and is mildly condescending.

When Gravel came to the stage, there were cheers all over the place. I thought maybe the general audience “Truthers” were fans of his, but in reality, he had packed the crowd. He went on about his Maoist “Direct Democracy” and offered a free signed copy of his book, Citizen Power, to any delegate who agreed to read two chapters. Gravel’s big message was that the Libertarian Party is full of overly principled morons who’ve never accomplished anything, and that he can win if we give him the nomination. We have our heads in the clouds, he argues. Gravel is big on “power” (his word). He says Nixon should have been put in jail, and wants to use subpoena power (presumably on citizens as well as government officials) to get to the bottom of 9/11. When he was done speaking, there was huge applause and then, when he left, so did about 1/3 of the crowd.

This was unfair to Steve Kubby who went on next. Wow, Steve looks a lot better (not to sound Donderian) in real life than in his pictures. He looks very healthy and he is an excellent public speaker. He got the crowd riled up unlike any of the others before him, despite its smaller size. He dealt with the matter at hand, and limited his comments to the demand for an investigation. The crowd liked that.

Then came Alden Link. Yeah. He talked about socialist energy policy — he approves. Bragged about the solar panels he’s having installed on his house. Said the military-industrial complex was a good thing, for it kept us safe. But then talked very libertarianly and knowledgeably about ending the Drug War.

DRAMA ALERT!!!

That was supposed to be it, but then John Finan arrived. He seemed normal enough. He’s a handsome guy (I swear this is not Dondero posting under my name) who would be a believable as a business titan in a movie. His speech was fairly straight forward — although he did say he would get on Oprah, Letterman, and Conan O’Brien if made the nominee. He didn’t really address the issue at hand. Then, when he was finished, Jim Duesning (leader of Libertarians for Justice) stood next to him on the podium and, completely innocently, said (I’m paraphrasing) “I’ve just been informed that John Finan has not signed our pledge calling for an investigation. I have this glossy page right here, and this fancy marker, would you like to sign right now?”

It seemed to be that Duesning was giving Finan a nice little publicity opportunity here, but Finan did NOT take it that way. He took the mic from Duesning, he gladly gave it to him, and said (again, paraphrasing), “What do you think of me being put on the spot to sign this? Should I sign it?” The crowd was, surprisingly mixed. “I WILL NOT BE AMBUSHED! I WILL NOT BE PRESSURED!”

I should also mention that, while Finan’s speech seemed normal enough, after the following events, some of his gestures and facial expressions took on a Mussolinian context.

Duesning snatched the mic back from him and was like, “I’m giving you a chance to sign this or not.” Finan tried to grab the mic, but Duesning wouldn’t let him have it. Finan screamed in a booming voice, “I DON’T NEED A MICROPHONE! I WILL NOT BE PRESSURED!” And then made was looked like a Nazi salute and walked off stage, still carrying the apparently precious silver marker. “Give back the marker,” Duesning demanded. “I’m keeping the marker!” Finan declared.

Wow.

Eventually, a little lady in a red shirt stormed across the room saying she had paid for this event and the marker and demanded it! Finan passed it to a guy sitting down, who gave it to the lady. He was then escorted out of the conference hall.

And that wasn’t the end of the drama… (to be continued)

Voices from LFV Comments: Steve Perkins convention update

In Daniel Imperato, George Phillies, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Wayne Allen Root on May 23, 2008 at 2:12 am

Just got back from dinner, to change clothes and take a break before seeing what’s happing with hospitality suites. Other candidates are starting to show a presence… Root in particular has been wandering around working the floor pretty hard. I just met Gravel, and it’s kinda funny… usually with make-up and lighting and so forth, people look better on TV than they do in real life. Gravel, however, looks about 10-20 years younger and healthier in person than he does on TV. He also has a booth running now that’s about as large and professional-looking as Barr’s.

The approximate order in which I’m seeing buttons and signs is: Barr, Imperato (?), Root, Gravel, Ruwart, and Phillies. I’m not sure who’s running against Dixon for LNC, but it seems like three-quarters of the delegates are wearing Dixon stickers.

It seemed like almost all the volunteers and workers with the Barr camp are either: (1) Ron Paul activists who moved over, or (2) Stephen Gordon.

It’s really strange running into people that I only know from the blogosphere, and noting the difference between that and the real world. I’ve argued a ton with Knapp online, but met him in person and found him to be really cool guy.

I found out about an hour after I checked in that my state affiliate could have gotten my press credentials if I’d thought to ask (oh well).

Jacqueline Passey: Endorsements

In Candidate Endorsement, Christine Smith, Daniel Imperato, George Phillies, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Libertarian Politics 2008, Mike Jingozian, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Steve Kubby, Wayne Allen Root on May 20, 2008 at 7:55 pm

The following is posted with the permission of the author, Jacqueline Passey. You can view the original on her website here.

Endorsements: Wayne Allyn Root, Steve Kubby, Mary Ruwart, or George Phillies for President; adopt the World’s Smallest Political Platform

The Libertarian Party national convention is this weekend in Denver. I won’t be going, but I know at least one delegate reads this blog, so I’m posting my endorsements for candidates and issues in the hopes that they are at least somewhat influential in the delegates’ decisions.

First, to give my endorsements the necessary context, I should explicitly disclose my history, positions, and biases: I’ve been involved in the LP since 2000, including working as the Executive Director of the Libertarian Party of Washington State (2001-2002) and running as a Libertarian candidate for Washington Secretary of State (2004), but I’ve been less active since the 2006 election. I’m a minarchist, but I welcome anyone who supports reducing the size, scope, and power of government as a member of the Libertarian Party and libertarian movement even if they don’t share my exact vision of what Libertopia should be. I think that the Libertarian Party has the greatest chance for success in local races (state legislature and lower) and thus the role of the national party and Presidential candidates should be to first do no harm (do not say or do anything wacky that will hurt local candidates), and second, help recruit and develop a pool of Libertarian activists, donors, and voters that local candidates and organizations can tap into.

To get caught up on the candidates and issues, I read their websites, their Wikipedia biographies, searched YouTube for videos of them speaking, and sought out opinions and gossip from other Libertarians on blogs. I’ve also had personal interactions with George Phillies and Mary Ruwart, and I heard George Phillies and Steve Kubby debate at the LP Nevada convention last year.

GOOD CANDIDATES

Unfortunately, none of the candidates this year really excite me. However, there are a few that I think would help our party grow if they won the nomination:

Wayne_new2Wayne Allyn Root:

Pros: Moderately famous for his gambling TV shows/books and Millionaire Republican personal finance book. He’s a very good speaker and smooth with the media, as shown here. Has raised the second most money of the “good” candidates”.

Cons: He only recently made the switch from the Republican Party and is a little on the conservative side. He also seems to have already alienated a lot of people within the LP, although it’s not clear to me what exactly he did to get their panties in such a bunch.

StevekubbySteve Kubby:

Pros: Relatively famous politically. He was successful in getting California Proposition 215 (Medical Marijuana) passed, so we know he has the connections and resources to get things done. He would probably get media attention for being a convicted felon, but this is a good thing because it would show the stupidity of the Drug War. He’s been campaigning for 2 years. Consistently libertarian positions.

Cons: Most Americans are more concerned about other issues than the Drug War right now, so Kubby’s biggest strength is sort of wasted this year. Despite campaigning for 2 years he hasn’t raised much money.

Marypicture1Mary Ruwart:

Pros: Is an excellent speaker and communicator. Is moderately famous within the libertarian movement. She’s able to explain fairly radical libertarian positions and policies without scaring the crap out of people. Running a woman for President or Vice President this year might win us more media attention than we would otherwise get. She’s been involved with the libertarian movement for a long time so we all know her pretty well by now. Consistently libertarian positions.

Cons: She entered the race pretty late and hasn’t raised much money or probably built much of a campaign yet. She doesn’t seem to know how to dress appropriately for a Presidential candidate. Please, Mary, go get some black or navy suits and wear them to all future events instead of that hideous gray thing.

George_philliesGeorge Phillies:

Pros: George is probably the most sane/mainstream candidate for the nomination — he consistently advocates reducing the size of government, but in incremental ways that are actually politically viable. Has raised the most money of the “good” candidates. He’s a long-time member and activist in the Libertarian Party, so we all know him pretty well by now. He “gets it” that the Presidential campaign should be a recruiting tool for building the party and helping elect local candidates. He’s been campaigning for 2 years.

Cons: I think George might have a touch of Aspergers Syndrome — those of you who have met George know what I’m talking about. He’s not at all notable outside of the party.

I wish that George was working as the campaign manager or strategist for a prettier, more charismatic candidate instead of running for the nomination himself. Regardless of who wins the nomination, I hope that George stays involved in the Presidential campaign, because I think he’s got the right mix of libertarian ideology and strategic pragmatism that we need to run a party-building Presidential campaign.

MEDIOCRE CANDIDATES:

I don’t think these candidates would either help or hurt us that much:

Christinesmith_2 Christine Smith:

Pros: She seems to have consistently libertarian positions on all the issues. She’s a decent public speaker as seen here. Although I generally wish that female candidates would dress more conservatively, she pulls off the red suit look well. Running a woman for President or Vice President this year might win us more media attention than we would otherwise get.

Cons: She’s just not that notable — it’s too bad that she decided to jump into running for President, because she would have made a great candidate for local office if she actually wanted to be elected to something. She desperately needs a web designer to improve the look and feel of her campaign website.

Other: She shares a name with a Playboy Playmate (NSFW Google images search). Inevitably, some people will get the two mixed up — not sure if that will help or hurt her campaign. 🙂

MikejingozianMichael Jingozian:

Pros: Seems comfortable speaking, as shown here. Long-time member (claims he joined the LP in 1980). Founder and CEO of a successful small marketing company. Managed to score a Wall Street Journal blog post about his campaign (“A Small Business Owner for President“). I think his internet-focused campaign strategy is a smart idea given the LP’s lack of resources for conventional campaigning. Has raised the most money of the not-bad candidates. Hasn’t done anything to motivate people to write nasty things about him on blogs.

Cons: That no one is writing nasty things about him on blogs indicates that he’s not campaigning hard enough or being taken seriously as a candidate. Complete lack of notability — again, he should have run for local office instead of President. Campaign literature is way too cluttered and too focused on negative things.

LinkAlden Link:

Pros: Seems innocuous. The positions he describes on his website are fairly consistently libertarian.

Cons: I had never heard of him and didn’t know he was running until I did one last check of the LP’s website to make sure I hadn’t missed anyone. Has he raised any money or spoken anywhere? His website is pretty sad.

Jim_burnsJim Burns:

Pros: Seems to have consistently libertarian positions (although I couldn’t bear to finish slogging through all the text on his website, so there might be something that I missed). Strategically-minded.

Cons: I couldn’t find much about him so he doesn’t seem to be campaigning very much. Seems a bit nutty. His campaign website was difficult to find and is pretty lame. Keeps referring to himself as an “old, bald, fat white guy,” which may be accurate but is not the winning campaign rhetoric we should be looking for. He’s so very earnest that I want to pat him on his little bald head, but I don’t want him representing our party.

BAD CANDIDATES:

I think these candidates would be harmful to our party and I would be very disappointed if any of them were nominated:

BobbarrBob Barr:

Pros: As a former elected Congressman, he’s much more famous than most of the other candidates. His experience in public office gives him credibility, and demonstrates that he is able to run an effective campaign. His campaign website is very professional-looking.

Cons: HE’S NOT A LIBERTARIAN. He’s still really a Republican at heart, and he’s running to get Republicans to vote and help down-ticket Republican candidates (via), not to build the Libertarian Party. He’ll never be accepted by many libertarians due to his support of the Drug War, Defense of Marriage Act, and Patriot Act while he was an elected Congressman — he may give lip service to libertarianism now, but his actual legislative record on libertarian issues is abysmal. He waited until the last minute to officially announce, which seems to me like a slimy tactic to avoid giving Libertarians adequate time to investigate and debate his candidacy before the convention. I don’t trust him or his supposed change of heart (he doesn’t even declare his current positions on drugs or gay rights on the Issues page of his website) — this is a guy that we helped defeat for re-election in 2002, and now he sits on the LNC and is seriously being considered for our nominee for President?! Ron Crickenberger must be spinning in his grave.

MikegravelMike Gravel:

Pros: As a former elected Senator, and as a former candidate for the Democratic Presidential nomination, he’s much more famous than most of the other candidates. His experience in public office gives him credibility, and demonstrates that he is able to run an effective campaign. His campaign website is very professional-looking.

Cons: HE’S NOT A LIBERTARIAN. The only reason he’s running for the Libertarian Party nomination is because he couldn’t win the Democratic Party nomination. He is campaigning for socialized medicine, which would be a massive increase in government. Need I say more?

Bob Barr and Mike Gravel are examples of one of the worst threats to third parties — major party candidates who can’t get along in their own party and decide to leave and try to co-opt a third party’s ticket. We saw this happen with the Movimiento Libertario in Costa Rica (which was the most successful Libertarian party in the world to date). There, the co-opters were successful, and the Movimiento Libertario doesn’t even call itself “libertarian” anymore. Let the fate of the ML serve as a cautionary tale to US Libertarians — don’t be so excited over the prospect of an experienced and proven “electable” candidate from a mainstream party that you ignore their ideology.

Imperato2008Daniel Imperato:

Pros: He seems to be putting a lot of effort into his campaign.

Cons: He’s not actually a Libertarian, he’s just a slut for third parties — he’s also tried to win the Green Party, Reform Party, and Constitution Party nominations, and seems to just want to be on the ballot regardless of whose ticket he’s on.

PLATFORM:

I support the World’s Smallest Political Platform (click the link to sign the petition):

“The Libertarian Party supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope or power of government at any level or for any purpose.”

I support it because I know from experience that opponents and media can and do go to the national Libertarian Party website, dig up something wacky from the platform, and use it confront local candidates in potentially winnable races. So while I personally don’t object to much in the current or old platform, I think it is a handicap and not a help for winning elections at the level we can realistically win them at. Let our CANDIDATES define their own platforms individually, based on the issues that THEY want to campaign on, instead of having to fend off questions about issues not related to the office that they’re running for or about positions much more radical than they themselves espouse.

________________________________

Jacqueline Passey is the former Executive Director of the Washington state Libertarian Party, and former LP candidate for Washington Secretary of State. Blog enthusiasts likely remember her from her 2006 blog entry covering the Nevada LP presidential debates, amusingly titled “Two whackjobs, a convicted felon, and George Phillies”. That blog entry set into motion a short-lived “memogate”, in which a memo from then-LP Executive Director Shane Corey, referencing her blog and asking whether the LP can offer better candidates, was leaked into the blogosphere.

Ms. Passey lives in Las Vegas with her husband and dachsunds, and is currently working on her Master’s Degree at UNLV. Her current blog is “Jacqueline Gets Her Geek On”.

LP candidates’ cash on hand as of 3/31

In Christine Smith, Daniel Imperato, George Phillies, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Mike Jingozian, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Steve Kubby, Wayne Allen Root on May 10, 2008 at 11:35 am

According to the FEC reports, George Phillies is by far best prepared to “hit the ground running” with an LP nomination, based upon cash on hand as of the end of the first quarter of 2008.

This is true even if Barr announces, based upon his website report, since Phillies has over twice as much cash on hand and has his campaign already well underway. Barr’s site, on the other hand, reflects that he barely has enough to pay his staff, and doesn’t yet even have enough to open (much less set up) his office; so it can be reasonably assumed that Barr has the equivalent of no cash on hand, and none in the foreseeable future given his estimated immediate expenses.

Phillies $118,716

Ruwart $6,765

Jingozian $4,002

Smith $1,634

Imperato $695

Kubby $339

Root $37,834

Gravel -$2733*

*Last quarter 2007. FEC warning letters for failure to file Q1 2008 report.

Comparison of FEC candidate reports

In Christine Smith, Daniel Imperato, George Phillies, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Mike Jingozian, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Steve Kubby, Wayne Allen Root on May 9, 2008 at 5:22 pm

Not to be confused with LNC numbers (in which they include funds sent to their wacky “Liberty Decides” contest, which should not be counted since it’s actually a donation to the LP and not to the candidate), here is information from the Uniform Financial Report, filed with the FEC, for each candidate for the Libertarian Presidential nomination.

Mike Gravel has has not yet made his April filing, so I have included his numbers from December. Also, Daniel imperato appears to have a corrupted computer file, as explained in the notes, so his totals are not given; and Bob Barr had no exploratory committee as of 3/31 so his total for that date is zero. Otherwise, all candidates are compared as of their March 31st FEC filing.

Mike Jingozian
Others $ 13,090
Total $228,525

George Phillies
Others $ 16,727
Total $198,254

Wayne Allyn Root
Others $ 34,409
Total $ 59,410

Christine Smith
Others $ 16,244
Total $ 16,244

Steve Kubby
Others $ 16,219 (inferred from previous filings))
Total $ 16,219

Mary Ruwart
Others $ 5,655
Total $ 10,655

Bob Barr
Others $ 0
Total $ 0

Mike Gravel
Others $447,880
Total $521,396

Daniel Imperato:

Imperato filing appears to have a corrupted computer file. His most recent report claims his receipts for the quarter ($39,574) are larger than his total receipts for the cycle ($12,500), which is impossible.

LP.org reports candidate FEC filings as of today

In Christine Smith, Daniel Imperato, George Phillies, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Mike Jingozian, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Steve Kubby, Wayne Allen Root on May 6, 2008 at 7:35 pm

LP Candidate FEC Filings

LP Presidential Candidate FEC and Liberty Decides ’08 Filings

Wayne Allyn Root
LD ’08: $15,764.00
Individual: $29,988.00
Candidate: $4,421.90

Daniel Imperato

LD ’08: $10,474.00
Individual: $0.00
Candidate: $0.00

Michael Jingozian

LD ’08: $8,490.00
Individual: $13,090.79
Candidate: $0.00

Mike Gravel*^
LD ’08: $895.00
Individual: $447,378.97
Candidate: $0.00

Steve Kubby**

LD ’08: $1,280.00
Total: $2,951.22

Alden Link

LD ’08: $885.00
Individual: $259.00
Candidate: $4,225.00

George Phillies
LD ’08: n/a
Individual: $16,727.75
Candidate: $81,527.01

Mary Ruwart***

LD ’08: $1,060.00
Individual: n/a
Candidate: n/a

Christine Smith**
LD ’08: $2,460.00
Total: $16,244.00

Bob Barr (still in Presidential exploratory phase):

Total Reported by Candidate Web site: $53,163.64

Most Individual Contributions Raised: Root
Most Personal Money Invested: Phillies

*Numbers reflect previous campaign for President in different political party
**No electronic report available. Only total available is net contributions that do not separate individual contributions and candidate contributions
***No FEC report available
^Candidate had failed to file April Quarterly Report when data was compiled

(LD ’08 totals current as of May 5, 2008. FEC Filing data taken from Election Cycle-To-Date totals from candidates’ April Quarterly filing. This information can be viewed at www.FEC.gov.)

Posted by Andrew Davis at May 6, 2008 12:52 PM

ENM responds:

Perhaps I am somehow confused, but in their wrap-up of “Most Individual Contributions Raised”, they list Root as the winner. Yet, isn’t Gravel’s $447,379 a LOT more than Root’s $29,988?

I still have to respect the heck out of George Phillies for putting so much of his money where his mouth is, so I think he should wear the “Most Personal Money Invested” win as a badge of honor.

I still think “Liberty Decides” is both a rip-off for the candidates, and misleading to voters. I have had to explain over and over again, to people across the net, that LD’08 has no bearing on a candidate’s actual chances of getting the nomination, because it’s nothing but a fundraising tool for the LP; and that if they contribute money to a candidate through LD’08, the candidate they choose doesn’t actually get the money. Argh.

“None of the Above” gets five votes in Indiana straw poll

In Barry Hess, Christine Smith, Daniel Imperato, George Phillies, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, Mike Jingozian, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Steve Kubby on April 28, 2008 at 12:07 am

While George Phillies and Bob Barr tied for first place in the Indiana State LP Convention straw poll, five people still voted for “none of the above”.  The NOTA vote is especially interesting, given that the convention is less than a month away.

All told, 48 people voted up to three times each.  Phillies and Barr each got 22 votes, Gravel got 20, Ruwart 19, Jingozian 16, and Root 16.

Imperato, Hess, Smith, and Kubby got single digit totals, but still polled lower than “None of the Above”.  Others – Link, Finan, Burns, Hollist, Milnes – received no votes.  At this point, many if not all of those candidates should drop out of the race and endorse one of the frontrunners, since it seems quite clear that they have no chance of becoming the LP nominee.

I cannot help but wonder if the NOTA votes are holding out for Ron Paul to run on a third party ticket (which seems extremely unlikely at best) or if they simply don’t like any of the candidates who have declared.

Submit Your Questions!

In Congress, Democrats, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Libertarian Politics, People in the news, Politics, Presidential Candidates, US Government on April 23, 2008 at 12:50 am

On May 3rd, I will be conducting an interview with J.Skyler McKinley for my Blog Talk Radio Show, “Live From Court Street”. Skyler is the National Press Secretary for the Mike Gravel for President Campaign. Elfninosmom conducted a great interview with Mike Gravel himself a few weeks ago here at Last Free Voice, where we learned a lot about the latest libertarian convert.

Now that a few weeks have passed, I wanted to find out what direction the campaign is heading as we inch closer to Denver. Will Bob Barr’s eventual “official” announcement cause any concern for the Gravel team? Has Mike faced any hostility from libertarians who have spent years pouring their hearts and souls into the cause of freedom, while on the campaign trail? Does the Senator have plans to remain active with the party should he fail to gain the nomination? I know these are questions I would like to see answered. How about you, the readers? Is there a question you would like the National Press Secretary to answer?

If you have any questions, please leave a comment. I’ll select a few. Since this is a live show, you can also call in and ask your question directly. The show begins at 7:30pm Eastern on May 3rd and the interview with Skyler will be at 8pm. If you would like to interact during the segment, you may do so at 646-200-0234.

To listen live on the 3rd (or any Saturday), visit http://www.blogtalkradio.com/livefromcourtstreet.

Online access to Heartland Libertarian Convention

In Christine Smith, Democrats, George Phillies, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Media, Mike Jingozian, Politics, Presidential Candidates, War, Wayne Allen Root on April 5, 2008 at 6:17 am

The Heartland Libertarian Conference has provided audio of a meet’n’greet with the candidates today.

They will also offer a live broadcast of today’s debates, starting at 11:00 am EST; since it is on blogtalk radio, interested parties will be able to listen to it afterward, if necessary or desirable.

Here is the notice (with thanks to Steve Gordon at Third Party Watch)

Friday and Saturday Night we will broadcasting live from the Heartland Libertarian Convention in Kansas City, MO.

Friday night show is from 6:30 Pm till 8:30 Pm. We will be interviewing Local, State,and National Libertarian Candidates. Saturday 10:00 AM till 12:00 PM we will be broadcasting live the Libertarian Presidential Debates. Concluding with speeches from Bill Redpath, National L.P. Chairman and Our Keynote Speech from Former U.S. Representative Bob Barr. Tune in from 1:30 till 3:30 PM [on Saturday] to see if Rep. Barr will enter the Presidential race.

Thank You,

Teddy Fleck
www.blogtalkradio.com/showmelibertarians

The Mike Gravel campaign will be videotaping the debates for public distribution, according to Skyler McKinley of the Gravel campaign. As soon as we have access to those videos, we will post them here.

The candidates participating in tomorrow’s debates are Mike Gravel, George Phillies, Wayne Allyn Root, Christine Smith, Mike Jingozian, and Mary Ruwart. This will be the first debate for Senator Gravel since he announced that he was leaving the Democrats behind to seek the Libertarian Party nomination; as well as the first debate for Dr. Mary Ruwart since she announced her candidacy.

LP Presidential Candidate, Senator Mike Gravel, Interviewed By Newsweek

In Barack Obama, Censorship, Democracy, Democrats, Iraq War, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Media, People in the news, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Republican, US Government, War on April 1, 2008 at 12:11 am

Senator Mike GravelSenator Mike GravelLP Presidential candidates normally don’t get this level of media exposure, ever. Senator Mike Gravel’s switch to the Libertarian Party is causing a great deal of positive mainstream media attention. Below is an excerpt from the Newsweek interview, posted today. I will note that Last Free voice beat Newsweek to the punch, interviewing Senator Gravel within 48 hours of his decision to run as an LP candidate.

After the crowded presidential primary shrunk from eight Democrats and 11 Republicans to only three viable candidates between the two parties, what’s a spurned presidential hopeful to do? Well, if you’re Ron Paul, you ignore John McCain‘s inevitability and keep running anyway. If you’re former U.S. senator Mike Gravel, you switch parties.

Last Monday, the former Democrat swung by the Libertarian Party‘s national headquarters and defected. “We handed him a [membership] card on the spot,” says Shane Cory, the party’s executive director. Two days later, Gravel formally announced he would run to be the Libertarian candidate for president, joining a field of 15 others. Cory wouldn’t comment on Gravel’s chances at the convention, which will take start in Denver on May 22, but he did say that Gravel’s party swap has garnered some much-appreciated exposure for the Libertarians.

Gravel spoke to NEWSWEEK’s Sarah Elkins about the 2008 race and why he’s still running. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: You’ve been a Democrat for your entire political career. Was it a tough decision to switch parties?
Mike Gravel:
It had been eating at me–believe me–ever since I was a senator [he served from 1969 to 1981]. When I was in the Senate, I was a maverick and, at the end of my term, I was not particularly happy with my progress in terms of partisanship with the Democrats and Republicans. So when I left office, I stayed away from partisan politics altogether. But when I decided to get back in the game and to get my message out to the American people about the National Initiative [a political movement that would allow ballot initiatives at the federal level], I had to pick a party that would allow me to get into the debates … But of all the parties I was probably closest to the Libertarians.

It sounds like you’ve been interested in leaving the Democratic Party for some time. Why didn’t you make the move sooner?
It wouldn’t have made any sense for me to enter the race as a Libertarian. [As a Democratic candidate], I got into the debates and got a fair amount of visibility up until General Electric [which owns NBC] along with the Democratic Party leadership, said they would get me out of the debates. And they did. GE said I did not meet their criteria for participating in the debates. I think it’s very interesting that a defense contractor said I had to meet their criteria in order to participate in the MSNBC debates. We’ve really come down in democracy when a defense contractor can decide what the American people hear from a candidate. It was a [Democratic National Committee] sanctioned debate, so we complained to the DNC and found out that Howard Dean had agreed to it and that not a single one of the other Democratic nominees raised a finger in protest, meaning that they were totally tone deaf to the censorship of the military-industrial complex.

So you didn’t consider running as a Libertarian from the get-go?
I would have preferred to run as an independent or Libertarian or Green Party, but I knew that none of those candidates would have gotten any traction. So I used my position as a legitimate Democratic candidate to get my name out there.

You still have to win the Libertarian primary in order to run as the party’s candidate.
I am probably the most well known and certainly the most experienced in terms of running for president and as a government official. I have 16 years of experience in elected office and have been a senator, and I have a great deal of foreign-policy experience.

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You can read the very interesting three-page interview excerpt with Newsweek here.

From the comments section …

In Activism, Immigration, Libertarian, Libertarian Party-US, Music, Politics, Protest on March 31, 2008 at 11:06 pm

I have no earthly idea why anyone would think this is a song that libertarians would enjoy – and perhaps the person who posted it doesn’t realize how libertarians view immigration, and just looked for blogs where “immigration” was a tag – but we received a comment on the “A Conversation With Mike Gravel” article, asking us to post this video.

Senator Gravel is for completely open borders, of course, so either this gentleman read the entry and disagreed with that stance, or didn’t read the entry and made the assumption that Senator Gravel is against immigration. It’s really unclear at this point why he posted it here; perhaps he will stop back by and fill us in on his motivations.

That being said, I am a big proponent of the arts, and like to support struggling musicians and songwriters whenever I can. So I thought I’d be a nice gal and post it as he requested; and perhaps in exchange, some of our readers may wish to educate this gentleman on libertarian views of immigration.

Here is the comment, as received:

Hi,

Can you please place a link on your website / or blog; to this Take Back Our Country Song it’s a patriotic song that is very inspiring, and truthful. I wrote this song after being fed up with what I see happening in my neighborhood and to our country daily on the news.

I am just an ordinary citizen that went away to serve at age 19. And I am sick and tired of the lies and chaos our ELECTED SELLOUT OFFICIALS has put this country into. So I wanted to do my part, as a soldier of the USANG, I wrote this song and put it on this video.

My state Louisiana was hit hard by hurricane Katrina and hundreds of illegal aliens moved into our community took away jobs that we Americans were ready to do, and now crime has gone thru the roof. I am sick and tired of these people in my neighborhood and hanging out on our street corners. WE MUST DO SOMETHING TO PUT A STOP TO THIS!

Please check out my video Take Back Our Country Song on YouTube.com here’s the link. And FORWARD it to everyone on your email list. This is my way of fighting back and giving back to my country.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yl6Ol64aGMY

Please, I served my country in the US Army National Guards, and I hate what’s happening to our country. We must do all we can to Take Her Back!

Thank you,
Richie Collins
http://FalseArguments.net

Take Back Our Country

The YouTube description of the song is as follows:

Get your copy of the Take Back Our Country song burn it to a CD and get ready to PLAY IT LOUD on May 2008 this is the next planned march of the SPAM (Spanish People Advocacy Movement)! WANTED: Established Male Artist, Establish Male Bands wanted to sing this song! Let’s negotiate you putting this song on your next album release! I am not a singer; I need someone to sing this song for me with a band….etc…. Send me your videos at, mrcfunds@bellsouth.net but you got to get the song first.

This is my way of doing my part to fight this illegal invasion of our country. This video is a National Boycott against illegal immigration and everything it stands for. All Legal People of this land know there is a right way and a wrong way to do things. And “The American Axis of Evil” know they have done this wrong! (The American Axis of Evil 1. The President 2. The Congress 3. Anyone who thinks illegal immigration is ok, this is done all for GREED. You don’t sell out the country that I served in proudly USANG FOR MONEY! HOW MANY BILLIONS DO DICK CHENEY need? This is harming this nation. Most of our United States Representatives have allowed these illegal aliens to linger in our country. WE THE LEGAL PEOPLE of the United States demand that you DEPORT everyone that has entered illegally! They must come in this country the right way! Please join me at my Blog and to get your copy of Take Back Our Country go to http://www.falsearguments.net

Thoughts? Comments? Criticisms?

A Conversation With Mike Gravel

In Civil Liberties, Congress, Constitutional Rights, Courts and Justice System, Crime, Democracy, Democrats, Drug War, Global Warming, History, Iraq War, Law, Libertarian, Libertarian Convention, Libertarian Party-US, Medical Marijuana, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Second Amendment, Taxation, US Government on March 28, 2008 at 1:21 am

Mike GravelEarlier today, I had an opportunity to speak by telephone with Senator Mike Gravel, a presidential candidate who has switched from the Democratic Party to the Libertarian Party. Senator Gravel welcomed my questions, and I had a very positive impression of him. He is extremely well spoken, and quite passionate about many of the issues near and dear to the Libertarian Party.

My purpose, of course, was to ascertain why he decided to switch parties, and whether he truly holds Libertarian views as opposed to only conveniently holding libertarian views in order to get the LP nomination. I quickly discovered that his most basic belief, which he has provably held for over 30 years, is thoroughly libertarian: the right of the American people to bypass and even overturn Congress and the President, when those elected officials act in contradiction to the will of the people.

Senator Gravel believes that “the American people are not empowered to do anything, and this is wrong.” He therefore believes Americans should have the ability to directly make laws through federal ballot initiatives. At present, many states allow citizens to present laws directly through initiatives which, if supported widely enough, will be placed on the ballot to potentially become law; an example of this is Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana in California. Senator Gravel believes citizens should be able to do the same thing on the federal level, under his National Initiative For Democracy.

The government is a tool, the people can use it. But if the people have the direct power to use it, then you’re going to see the government as a real tool, not the tool you have when the special interests determine how the tool of government is handled, by the lobbyists, who pay for the campaigns, who manipulate you to vote for them. That’s the process that has to change.

When he says that the government has the duty to release information to the public, so they can make sound decisions, he is not blowing smoke, nor is he promoting something he hasn’t already done himself. During the Vietnam War, Senator Gravel released the Pentagon Papers, reading thousands of pages into the Congressional Record, so that Americans would finally know the truth behind that war; and his defiance, by informing Americans of information which was previously viewed as classified, was a pivotal moment in American history.

Under his National Initiative For Democracy we, as citizens, could end the war, end the federal income tax, or pass a federal law allowing Americans to carry guns openly; we could make any law we want, as long as there is sufficient citizen support for it. Senator Gravel says that “the real power in this country does not lie with the leadership, with Congress or with the President; it lies with you, the American citizen”. This program would in fact become an important part of the checks and balances system, which Senator Gravel believes should have been in force from the beginning, so citizens could more easily keep Congress and the President in check.

Of course, when he was running for President in the Democratic Party, the Democrats weren’t very happy with that idea. I asked the Senator whether they oppose it because it threatens their power, or if they oppose it because they believe the average American is unable to make sound legislative decisions. He immediately replied, “Both.” He went on to explain that “the average person in Congress believes they are more intelligent than the average American, and there are a few in Congress who are very intelligent; but at the same time the average American is smarter than the average Congressman, and perfectly capable of making sound decisions.”

His suspicion of the leading presidential candidates was made clear when he said, “Don’t trust anyone who says they have all the answers. Nobody has all the answers; I don’t have all the answers. But the American public knows what is best for them, and I trust them to make those decisions.”

Talking war with Senator Gravel, for someone my age who lived during Vietnam, is like getting into a time machine, and going back to the last destructive war this country faced, when he forced a filibuster to end the draft, and thus end the Vietnam war. Senator Gravel was a maverick, and he defied Congress again and again.

As you may recall, even before we sent troops to Iraq, he warned the American public that there were no WMDs in Iraq. I asked him why, in his opinion, President Bush lied about the presence of WMDs. “Oil. He wanted to get control of the oil, and it’s all just more American imperialism and the military-industrial complex.” He went a step further, and agreed that Bush and Cheney should not only be impeached, but that they should face trial for war crimes. “Americans must stop thinking we’re above the law,” he stated. He believes that the United States should stop getting involved in foreign conflicts altogether, and “stop being the world’s policeman”.

Senator Gravel is completely against the War on Drugs, which he categorizes as a failure. “We spend 50 to 85 billion dollars a year on a drug war that does no good to anybody other than criminalizing people who shouldn’t be criminals. We have 2.3 million people in jail right now, and half of them shouldn’t even be in jail …. if you want marijuana, why not go to a package store? A fifth of gin will do more damage to you, to your health, than will a pack of marijuana. As for the rest of the drugs, why not legalize them and regulate them? We put addicts in jail when they aren’t criminals, but there they learn to be better criminals, to steal and commit crime to feed their habit. It’s a public health problem, and we need to solve it as a public health problem, and save all this money we’re spending to keep people in jail for drugs, $30,000 a year for each of them.”

He is therefore in support of decriminalizing and regulating all drugs. “If you need to get some coke, go to a doctor and get a prescription. If you’re an addict, you’ll have to register so we can help you. But the way we do it now, we catch you with drugs, we throw you in jail, and you don’t get any help.”

With regard to whether legalizing all drugs would increase addiction, he states, “That’s what they told us about alcohol, during Prohibition. Alcohol is more addictive than marijuana. Should you go to jail for having marijuana, when you don’t go to jail for having whiskey and alcohol? It’s a stupid policy, it’s gutless, and it’s damaging our inner cities. Seventy percent of the people in jail are African-Americans, and most of it is for drugs. It’s gutless on the part of our leaders to not solve this, to not treat it as a public health problem rather than a criminal problem ….. For those who say we have a drug problem, yeah, we have a problem, and it’s with stupidity at the highest levels of our government.”

As for those in prison for drug offenses, he would educate nonviolent drug offenders – whether it’s a college degree or technical training – then grant them a full pardon so they can not only be released from prison, but also have the tools they need to immediately become fully productive members of society.

He is for Second Amendment rights, saying “I have a weapon, and I’ll fight to keep it.” Insofar as how openly Americans should be able to carry weapons, he referred me back to the federal ballot initiative, saying that the American people should decide that issue.

When I asked him about reducing the size of government as well as its spending, he agreed that it has gotten completely out of hand, and that severe cutbacks should be made. The first steps would be dismantling the IRS (which would no longer be needed with his national sales tax program), and the “War On Drugs” arm of the DEA (since all drugs would be legalized). He also believes that “if we empower the people to make laws, they will shrink the government.”

I could actually hear the thrill in his voice when one question pointed out that libertarians are, by and large, for open borders. He believes that we have so many illegal immigrants here because our own laws caused them to not have work available in their own country; he states that 1.3 million farming jobs were lost in Mexico when NAFTA was passed. For that reason, he believes repealing NAFTA would cure most of the illegal immigration, as more jobs are created in their home countries. As for those who are already here and don’t want to leave, he wants to simply “put them on the path to citizenship.” He believes that we should create completely open borders, similar to what is in place in Europe, whereby citizens could cross into or from Canada or Mexico, with no questions asked.

It is undeniable that the federal government is deeply in debt, and must raise revenue. Senator Gravel, however, is opposed to the income tax, since it over-taxes the poor and middle-class, and grossly undertaxes the wealthy. He therefore proposes dismantling the IRS altogether. He would replace the income tax with a 23% sales tax, and give a rebate each month to every American family to pay for necessities. Senator Gravel believes that this would allow the poor and middle class, who spend mostly on necessities such as food and housing, to have far more disposable income. He believes this program will create the same amount of federal revenue, but in a manner which is far more fair to the poor and working class.

“I don’t know whether it’s a step to end taxation, but at this point it is a good way to fund needed revenue. Right now we tax income and investments, and investment income is taxed at a lower rate than income. We don’t tax the wealthy, and that’s what’s wrong with our system.” He again reiterated that the American people could make the final decision regarding whether federal taxation should eventually end, through his ballot initiative program.

Senator Gravel believes that Social Security funds should be left alone, rather than used by the government for other purposes as is now the norm. At this point, most Americans have already paid into Social Security. He wants everyone’s Social Security funds invested in the free market, and he wants everyone to get an accounting of their money and interest earned, just as if they had invested it with a bank; and if they die before spending what they have invested and earned, he believes that the surplus in their Social Security account should go to their heirs.

As for private investments, he believes his sales tax program with refunds for necessities will give the average American the additional funds needed to save in an IRA or other investment vehicle, as additional retirement savings to supplement what they have already put into Social Security.

He is aware that many libertarians are against Universal Health Care, but believes his plan will meet libertarian standards. He came up with the idea of a Healthcare Security System 30 years ago. Senator Gravel pointed out that he knows the healthcare system “up front and personal”. One year, he ended up with over $150,000 in healthcare costs, and went bankrupt as a result.

He believes the Democratic health care plan, wherein businesses are forced to provide health insurance for their employees, is “the wrong way to go, because it is not the responsibility of businesses to provide healthcare; their job is to be competitive in the global marketplace.” So instead, he wants to enact a Universal Single Payor Voucher plan, similar to the plan which the Veterans Administration has in place. Every American would be given a health care voucher. The vouchers would have a very modest co-pay, and a very modest deductible. Americans would have their choice of hospitals, their choice of doctors, and a choice of five or six plans. There would be no exclusions for preexisting conditions.

He doesn’t think we need to raise taxes in order to provide health care for all Americans; we just need to make our healthcare system considerably more efficient than it is at present. He believes that if we computerize healthcare records, it will streamline the system, because he says 30% of healthcare cost is in paperwork. He intends to provide every American with basic healthcare services, and if they want more or different coverage, they can choose to buy additional or supplemental plans in the free market.

He is aware of Ron Paul’s belief that the Federal Reserve is responsible for the inflationary effects which are harmful to poor and middle-class Americans. Senator Gravel wants to reexamine the Federal Reserve, and study the gold standard with an eye toward a global monetary system, which will better protect the value of our money in a global marketplace.

Senator Gravel was pivotal in shepherding the Alaska Pipeline though Congress, but at this point he would oppose any effort to drill for oil in the Alaskan Wildlife Preserve. He states that instead, he wants us to end our dependence upon oil within five years. His goal would be to replace oil with alternative energy sources.

I asked Senator Gravel if there was any one moment – a light bulb moment, if you will – in which he realized that he was a libertarian. He stated, “Not really. It’s an awareness that goes back 30, 40 years, that the best way to to change things was from inside, within the power structure. Now, it’s time for a change. I am joining the Libertarian Party to become its presidential nominee. I can take the Libertarian Party to a level they’ve never been before. I am against war, I am against taxing income, I am against the war on drugs. I am for smaller government, open borders, and the ability of the American people to self-govern. I am a libertarian. I scored seven out of seven on Reason’s “Seven Ways To Win Votes” – I am for internet gambling, for medical marijuana (but I go much further than that, by decriminalizing all drugs) …. so I’m more libertarian than Ron Paul, because he scored lower. And I will work very hard as the Libertarian Party’s candidate, I will get the libertarians the national playing field they need to grow. And not just libertarians, either. I will raise the playing field for all third parties.”

All in all, Senator Gravel impressed me as sincere, intelligent, and passionate about libertarian issues. I did not at all get the impression that he is a pseudo-libertarian; I think he’s the real deal, because his actions even decades ago indicated that he is a libertarian. He left the Democratic Party because he realized that they are not receptive to his ballot initiative plan, and are not in agreement with his healthcare plan, his opposition to the War on Drugs, and many other issues. He has the presence, he has the speaking ability and dynamic personality, and he has the name recognition and contacts to place us on a more even playing field.

The Democrats’ loss may very well be our gain.

Senator Gravel suggested that those interested in more information about his views read his book “Citizen Power: A Mandate For Change”, which can be ordered online here. It is also available on Amazon.com, but their new book price is actually several dollars higher than the price on his website. Amazon’s description of the book is as follows.

As author of Citizen Power in 1971, Senator Mike Gravel determined that much of what he wrote then is apropos in America today; hence, the release of Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change that reflects the accuracy of his evaluation of problems then, his current position on a number of issues facing America now, and the process that Americans can undertake to become empowered as lawmakers in partnership with their elected officials. Most chapters of Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change present material from the original book, as well as new information and revised positions. The exceptions are Chapter 2: The National Initiative, and Chapter 7: The War on Drugs. All other chapters cover similar topics in both books, but with the senator’s fresh insights for today’s world. Each chapter ends with how the National Initiative, once enacted, could help solve the problems presented in that chapter. The Table of Contents is as follows: Chapter 1 – Now It’s the Citizen’s Turn Chapter 2 – The National Initiative Chapter 3 – America’s Failure in Education Chapter 4 – Tax Reform – The Fair Tax Chapter 5 – The Health Security System Chapter 6 – National Environmental & Energy Policy Chapter 7 – The War on Drugs Chapter 8 – Crime & Punishment Chapter 9 – The Shroud of Secrecy Chapter 10 – American Imperialism Chapter 11 – Global Governance Chapter 12 – Who Stole the American Dream?

All three customer reviews give the book five stars. There is a “look inside the book” feature, and based on that material and given that it was originally written in 1971, then updated recently, I don’t think there is any real question whether Senator Gravel is a libertarian. Based upon his statements in that book, it appears that he was a libertarian even before there was a Libertarian Party.

Here are the reviews:

It’s all about lawmaking!,

February 25, 2008
By Goodrich (Dearborn, MI USA) – See all my reviews

Those who still want Mike Gravel’s original Citizen Power, but can’t afford to pay over $200 for the few rare copies that are available, will be pleased with the new Citizen Power: A Mandate for Change. In some chapters, Senator Gravel has incorporated substantial excerpts from his original book and then updated his thoughts on each issue, often admitting that his position on a certain issue in the 1970s was naive and that he now views that issue with a mature mind. This is a refreshingly candid look at a presidential candidate’s positions on key issues facing the American people today. Most importantly, however, is Chapter 2 and supplemental appendices about the National Initiative, which Senator Gravel and some of the nation’s top constitutional scholars crafted to empower citizens as lawmakers; after all, lawmaking is the cornerstone of democracy. All subsequent chapters address how the National Initiative for Democracy (NI4D)would work to alleviate problems, such as healthcare and education.

From ending the war on drugs to restructuring the UN,

March 8, 2008

Senator Gravel has produced an engaging book! He presents complex and difficult issues facing the US and the world in understandable prose and proposes solutions that call for transformational change. In response to a legislative process controlled by corporations and special interests Gravel proposes the National Initiative on Democracy that would empower the people to legislate through direct democracy in national referendums on issues. In response to ineffective global governance Gravel calls for a restructuring of the UN including an end to veto powers for the permanent members of the Security Council. I was delighted to see his position on American exceptionalism. Granted that we are #1 in the world in the numbers of people in our prisons, on many key measures such as education, healthcare we are far from being the best in the world. I was most pleased by the optimism of Mike Gravel’s vision for the future of America in the world. He sees solutions to problems such as global warming, energy, and national security through greater cooperation with other countries. The beginning of his space policy statement on page 59 is particularly encouraging: “SPACE REPRESENTS A LIMITLESS FRONTIER for humankind. Laws modeled on the Law of the Sea need to be agreed upon to make energy, natural resources, and knowledge available in a manner that fosters greater cooperation, rather than greater competition, among all nations. In keeping with this spirit, space must not be militarized.”

Gravel’s Populist Manifesto,

March 19, 2008
By D. Douglas (California) – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

An eloquent and lucid political manifesto by an increasingly refreshing, honest and prudent politician.
Citizen Power showcases a myriad of power-to-the-people proposals, and sways from your politics as usual demagoguery, while Gravel’s prose is filled with solemnity and earnestness, contrary to his political opponents.
The book’s motif is the National Initiative for Democracy, a populist program that will enable ordinary citizens to become legislatures, moreover eliminating large bureaucracies and big government lapdogs.
An emphasis is brought upon the military-industrial complex and its draconian, unproductive results. Suggesting the ultimate disintegration of the latter, if not grave consequences will ensue
Gravel’s proposals on education is most interesting, and offer an ingenious subsidiary, if utilized in orthodoxy, to our failing educational system.
The War on Drugs chapter was dismaying at least, and produced a sharp contempt for the activities our government continues to perpetuate.

I have probably forgotten important topics of this book, and my review is ultimately asymmetrical and lackluster. I can only recommend this fine book, so you can make your own judgments and discoveries.

Senator Gravel was kind enough to state that, if any of our readers have additional questions, I can phone him again to get those answers. Therefore, if you have any questions which aren’t answered here, post them and in about a week I will give him another call to get your answers for you.

Gravel announces Libertarian presidential run

In Congress, Global Warming, Guantanamo, Health, Iran, Libertarian Party-US, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Science, Taxation, Torture, US Government, Veterans, War on March 26, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Mike Gravel

A Personal Message from Mike

I wanted to update you on my latest plans before news gets out. Today, I am announcing my plan to join the Libertarian Party, because the Democratic Party no longer represents my vision for our great country. I wanted my supporters to get this news first, because you have been the ones who have kept my campaign alive since I first declared my candidacy on April 17, 2006.

The fact is, the Democratic Party today is no longer the party of FDR. It is a party that continues to sustain war, the military-industrial complex and imperialism — all of which I find anathema to my views.

By and large, I have been repeatedly marginalized in both national debates and in media exposure by the Democratic leadership, which works in tandem with the corporate interests that control what we read and hear in the media.

I look forward to advancing my presidential candidacy within the Libertarian Party, which is considerably closer to my values, my foreign policy views and my domestic views.

Please take a moment to make your most generous donation to my presidential campaign today. $10, $20, $50 — whatever you feel you can afford.

I want to thank you all for your continued support.

_______________________________

So, what are Gravel’s views on the issues? Here are some issue statements from his website:

The War in Iraq Senator Gravel’s position on Iraq remains clear and consistent: to commence an immediate and orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops that will have them home within 120 days. The sooner U.S. troops are withdrawn, the sooner we can pursue aggressive diplomacy to bring an end to the civil war that currently consumes Iraq. Senator Gravel seeks to work with neighboring countries to lead a collective effort to bring peace to Iraq.

One of the leading opponents of the Vietnam War, Senator Gravel was one of the first current or former elected officials to publicly oppose the planned invasion of Iraq in 2002. He appeared on MSNBC prior to the invasion insisting that intelligence showed that there were indeed no weapons of mass destruction, that Iraq posed no threat to the United States and that invading Iraq was against America’s national interests and would result in a disaster of epic proportions for both the United States and the Iraqi people.

Today, more than four years into the invasion, the death toll of U.S. troops has climbed over 3,300 with over 50,000 more permanently maimed, some having lost limbs, others their sight. Tens of thousands more are afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and urgently need psychological care. The Iraqi civilian death toll nears three-quarters of a million, and still there remains no end in sight to the bloodshed.

As President, Senator Gravel will call for a U.S. corporate withdrawal from Iraq and hand over reconstruction contracts to Iraqi businesses which will empower Iraqi nationals to reconstruct their own country.

The National Initiative for Democracy Mike fully supports the National Initiative for Democracy. The NI4D is a way to bring legislative power back to the people. In many states, citizens can put measures on the ballot and Mike believes as citizens of the United States we should all have that power.

Iran and Syria Senator Gravel opposes a military confrontation with Iran and Syria and advocates a diplomatic solution to the current situation.

Global Warming/Climate Change Senator Gravel believes that global climate change is a matter of national security and survivability of the plant. As President, he will act swiftly to reduce America’s carbon footprint in the world by initiating legislation to tax carbon at the source and cap carbon emissions. he is also committed to leading the fight against global deforestation, which today is second only to the energy sector as a source of greenhouse gases. However, any legislation will have little impact on the global environment if we do not work together with other global polluters. China, India, and under-developed nations all work together fighting climate change can only be effective if it is a collective global effort. As President, Senator Gravel will see that the U.S. launches and leads a massive global scientific effort, integrating the world’s scientific and engineering community, to end energy dependence on oil and integrate the world scientific community in this task.

Progressive Taxes – A fair Tax Senator Gravel’s Progressive Fair Tax proposal calls for eliminating the IRS and the income tax and replacing it with a national sales tax on new products and services. To compensate for the tax on necessities, such as food, lodging, transportation and clothing, there would be a “rebate” to reimburse taxpayers. This would be paid in a monthly check from the government to all citizens. The focus on taxing new goods would also help tackle the global climate change problem.

Healthcare Senator Gravel advocates a universal healthcare system that provides equal medical services to all citizens, paid for by a retail sales tax (a portion of the Progressive Fair tax). Citizens would pay nothing for health benefits.

Reproductive Rights Senator Mike Gravel supports a woman’s right to decide if and when to have children. He also supports a woman’s right to make the difficult decision about abortion without interference by government authorities. Comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education, including accurate information about contraception, can always be provided in order to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions. Parity in health insurance and access to specialized family health care services, including family planning education, would also benefit the health and welfare of infants and children, who need and deserve to be wanted and loved.

Immigration Senator Gravel favors protecting our borders and monitoring the flow of immigrants into our country. He also favors a guest worker program and setting up naturalization procedures that would fairly bring immigrants into legal status. America must address the root cause of illegal immigration. Any discussion of immigration must include NAFTA and the concept of “free trade.” The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been a disaster for the working class of both the U.S. and Mexico and a boon to the international corporate interests. A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that over 1 million U.S. jobs were lost as a result of NAFTA, a third of them manufacturing jobs. In Mexico, 1.3 million farm workers lost their jobs in the same period. This has led to a wave of immigrants looking for work in the U.S. Reforming unfair trade policies spawned by measures like NAFTA will stimulate job growth on both sides of the border.

LGBT Rights Senator Gravel supports same-sex marriage and opposes the Defense of Marriage Act. He supports expanding hate-crime legislation and opposes laws that allow discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or one’s gender identity or expression. Senator Gravel strongly opposes the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” legislation on the grounds that it is unconstitutional, as it restricts the rights of gay Americans. He opposes any state or national constitutional amendment that restricts the rights of the gay community.

Social Security Senator Gravel wants to put real money, rather than borrowed money, in the Social Security Trust Fund. He advocates investing it properly and identifying the interests of individual beneficiaries so they can know what their retirement fund is and leave surplus funds to heirs.

Education Access to public education is a bedrock American value. Why is it then that the United States ranks 49th in literacy and that an estimated 30% of our students don’t graduate from high school? Investing in education provides a pathway to a thriving national economy, to individual and family economic opportunity, and to the reduction of poverty. A successful education system requires the commitment of families, the community, and government. It’s time to re-order our national budget priorities in order to improve the American education system. Parent education and access to preschool programs such as Head Start need to be expanded so that children from low income families are equally ready to benefit from elementary school. Universal pre-kindergarten would also enhance readiness. Encouraging our students to be the best they can be will require flexibility from the federal and state governments, within school systems, and from groups with a stake in educational success. Flexibility may mean extended school days and summer learning opportunities or extended school years. It may mean online and broadcast courses to provide access to highly qualified teachers. It may mean charter schools to address the needs of local communities, smaller classes, enrichment programs for students at risk, and vocational options. One thing we know for sure: No Child Left Behind has left too many children behind. It needs to be reformed and adequately funded. It needs to acknowledge the need for a fuller curriculum that encourages critical thinking-not just math and science test-taking. A high school diploma should be the minimum goal for all students; without it, our children will be condemned to a substandard economic existence.

Veteran’s Affairs As President, Senator Gravel would ensure that veterans receive full funding for their most important needs, including healthcare that is indexed to the increasing cost of care and medicine. He would make sure that all soldiers receive a full medical diagnosis to assess what their individual needs would be. He would also make sure that the VA system is fully financed and has sufficient well-trained personnel to provide the finest care that is available. As the Senator says, “We can do no less and we will do much more.” Mike Gravel is the only military veteran in the democratic race.

The War on Drugs The War on Drugs has been a failure. It is time to end prohibition and start treating addiction as a public health problem. This has ravaged our inner cities, and we are losing an entire generation of men and women to prisons. We must regulate hard drugs for the purpose of treating addicts, which would emphasize rehabilitation and prevention over incarceration. We must decriminalize minor drug offenses and increase the availability and visibility of substance abuse treatment in our communities as well as in jails and prisons. The United States incarcerates more people and at a higher rate than any other industrialized nation in the world. Some 2.3 million Americans are now behind bars. This tragedy must end.

Net Neutrality Net Neutrality aims to keep the Internet free from large companies, which are trying to limit the number of web sites their customers can view and the speed at which they can view them. Senator Gravel guarantees a free and open Internet with unlimited access to all sites. He will do this by supporting legislation and regulation that keeps you in control of your Internet usage and promotes free speech.

Human Rights Senator Gravel is adamantly opposed to torture, indefinite detention, and the deprivation of lawyers/speedy trials. He opposes the Military Commissions Act, flagrant ignorance of the Geneva convention, and Guantanamo.