Monday, September 08, 2008
Guest blog by Angela Keaton
[Note: I received this a couple of hours ago by email, marked "for distribution." My comments follow. For those who have no context at all from which to evaluate this piece, you might want to bone up from three sources: Related entries at Independent Political Report and Last Free Voice dated this previous weekend, and Angela Keaton's Twitter entries for the same time period. Even with all that, you're probably going to still find it confusing unless you're one of the few who make a habit of closely observing the Libertarian Party, and specifically the Libertarian National Committee, in action. I can't make you be interested, but if you are, I'll try to help with sorting things out in comments. Ask away - KN@PPSTER]
After my first night of more than four hours of sleep, I have a little, a wee little, clarity. I'm also more objective now that I have a little distance and some protein. In the meantime, I have agreed to nothing but to listen and contemplate the advice of others.
That said, I have much fondness and appreciation for all of you. Each of you should do what is best for your activism. You were included on this thread because you are champions of anything peaceful. I will be fine. We should be laughing. Our detractors are clowns. As I am fond of saying, getting kicked out of the LP is like fired from a titty bar. It doesn't go on your permanent record. No one in the outside world cares.
Mush over, now back to matters at hand:
Everyone needs to take a step back and evaluate the whys as much as the what. We are in an ideological and structural meltdown. While it is fun to speculate which mommy issues M Carling might be laboring under or what went so wrong in Aaron Starr's potty training, this is about whether we are part of the libertarian movement or merely an adjunct to the GOP death machine.
We will never have peace from those who wage war. When my support is coming from unexpected places like Admiral Colley who said he wanted a resolution like Hogarth's since Atlanta, we need to be reminded what is at stake. Among my high crimes is my refusal to raise money for a ticket which includes a mildly repentant war monger, initials Wayne Root.
As to the events of yesterday:
Have not been able to keep up with volume of emails and blog post generated by the LNC meeting. Everyone has a version of events, usually self interested or representing a collective concern. Particularly among those who are now eyeing what may be empty seats on the LNC. No plans to respond to every claim of "factual error" since the level of posturing and feigning "fairness" is getting silly even with my taste for the absurd. People can see that for what it is. Further, I was not allowed to see the last set of proceedings so I have nothing to go on but my impressions of the credibility of those reporting. Still quite unclear about much of it.
After the meeting adjourned, agreed to listen to Ruwart, Hawkridge, Wrights and Fox in a private lunch yesterday. They have certain concerns, not the least of which is losing my vote on the LNC. This is serious since Haugh (who has been very fair to me) pointed out that if I leave, Mattson is likely my replacement. That weighs heavily on me. Mattson is a conservative with all the baggage that term carries as suggested by Rockwell's brilliant speech at the Rally for the Republic. (I'm dropping the term "Christian Right." It's offensive to our many libertarian Christian brethren.)
While this is not confirmed, Mattson is the sixth place finisher and I am the "weak link." It would be nearly impossible to knock Ruwart off the LNC without a mass exodus from the LP. If I'm gone, they have gotten rid of one pesky anarchist without alienating authentic libertarians who will hold their noses and vote for the ticket.
Now, I will only be allowed to stay if I tender an apology on the narrow action of writing about Carling and Redpath's statements during the executive session with a promise that I never reveal anything said in executive session again. I violated a rule that I think is unjust. I don't know how sincere I can be but if Wrights, Ruwart and Hawkridge need me in a plan to return the party to the movement, I will consider taking one for the "libertarian wing of the Libertarian Party." Besides, as party stalwarts like Gene Hawkridge and Ernie Hancock have said, the best one can do is object to executive session before the session and on the record.
Also, Hawkridge asked that I write a detailed but non inflammatory statement about the various forms of harassment sexual and bullying from Carling and Starr. Need to run this by Doherty, my mother and our lawyer first.
Now for the "shocker." Cory has a very different version of his conversation with Carling as well as his take on charges by Starr and Carling that Cory and the Barr campaign have not cooperated with the LP. There is a dispute between what is the former Root campaign and the Barr camp over donor lists and access. I'm merely a prop in this drama. Very likely, Cory and I will speak man to man this week in DC. If he did not make those statements to Carling, Cory is the one who deserves the apology from me for not extending the courtesy of at least asking him whether he made such statements.
Meanwhile, don't let the minor differences amongst us to divide us. Sullentrup has not only slandered Knapp repeatedly but is actively encouraging a schism. Don't allow such a little man a great victory.
Let's get the "Sullentrup slandering Knapp" thing out of the way right now. Mr. Sullentrup and I have had several disagreements over the years, and there have definitely been times where I've been in the wrong and he's been in the right, including the particularly big one that anchors his continuing his obsession with me and his decision to publicly describe me as a "felon."
While that description is technically inaccurate (as he well knows, having tried unsuccessfully to use the claim to remove me from party office in Missouri), I'm not going to whine about it. If it makes Bob Sullentrup feel better to talk smack about me to everyone he runs into (and I've had numerous reports from friends about him accosting them for that purpose), I don't begrudge him that.
Nor should anyone else allow Sullentrup's obsession with little old me to obscure the facts of the matter. Which are:
- Since at least as early as 2001 (the last time I was involved closely with LNC matters as an alternate) and quite possibly earlier, the LNC has become progressively more secretive. Specifically, they've gone from full to abbreviated minutes; they've removed many of their documents from the Internet entirely, and converted others to PDF to make them less easily searchable and readable; they've abused "executive session" frequently to discuss matters other than specific litigation or personnel discipline in camera.
- Concurrent with this trend has been another trend -- centralization of power within the LNC which seems to center these last few years around two bad actors, Aaron Starr and M Carling. There are always cliques on any board, but this one seems to have coopted several members (including chair Bill Redpath and secretary Bob Sullentrup) entirely, while managing to put together temporary operating majorities on the board for particular issues and a permanent operating majority in the executive committee for whenever it wants to make things happen without consulting the larger board at all.
- The "Keaton Affair" is just a continuation of these two trends -- a continuation aggravated in intensity by the fact that she neither minces words nor prettifies facts. She is hell's own ultraviolet flashlight in a room full of vampires and their light-sensitive livestock. She tells people what's going on with the LNC, and that body is increasingly terrified of people knowing what it's up to.
- There are other aggravating factors: At least one LNC member seems to have a personal/romantic obsession with Keaton and doesn't handle rejection well. Another sustained a head injury back in 2001 when he was hit by a car and has become increasingly mentally unstable (and visibly so) ever since. It's exactly the kind of mix of individuals that makes for taking uncomfortable situations and turning them into improv takes on the war room scenes from "Dr. Strangelove" instead of into opportunities to reconsider the merits of what they've been doing.
The LNC has increasingly become collectively obsessed with being "in charge" of the Libertarian Party ... even to the exclusion of fulfilling its largely custodial obligations to that party and instead wasting its time (and the members' money) on things like meritless trademark applications, frivolous and malicious litigation to remove obstacles to its own illusory hegemony (that stuff goes back to at least the 1990s and the "Cisewski Affair"), etc.
The longer these trends continue and the more bizarre they get in expression (and spending somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/3 of a weekend meeting during a presidential campaign on on a Vyshinksy-style show trial in an attempt to shut one of the committee's members up to the membership is king hell bizarre), the more likely it becomes that the only way to correct the situation will be for the state parties to dissolve the LNC and find or create another affiliation mechanism.
The LNC is playing a dangerous game of chicken with the LP's membership ... and it's driving a 1974 Pinto with four flat tires and a leaky radiator. They've mistaken Angela Keaton for just another pretty grill. They haven't yet realized that there's a Mack truck behind that grill and that it's bearing down on them at about 80 mph.
Posted by Thomas Knapp at 1:48 PM