Monday, June 30, 2008

PSA




The image of Bob Barr above is used pursuant to the Creative Commons License under which it was released by author Stephen P. Gordon on behalf of the Bob Barr Presidential Campaign. The other images (of, from left to right, Strom Thurmond, George Wallace and Lester Maddox) are in the public domain.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Vince Miller, requiescat in pace


Vince Miller was a true mensch and it has been a distinct privilege to have worked closely with him for the last few years.

As president of the International Society for Individual Liberty, Vince rescued key components of Free-Market.Net, where I had previously worked, when it went bankrupt.

In late 2004, he approached me and my compadres at Rational Review News Digest about taking over daily production of Freedom News Daily -- one of those FMN components and, so far as I know, the Internet's longest-lived libertarian daily news publication (it absorbed the older "Libernet" newsletter in the late 1990s). We've been happily publishing FND as a co-branded edition of RRND ever since.

Last year -- I believe it was in March -- my family and I were honored to spend a couple of days in Chicago with Vince. This was the first time I had met him in person. We discussed the future of FND and of ISIL's web presence, had lunch with Joe and Diane Bast of the Heartland Institute, and saw some of the Windy City's sights together.

I wish I'd spent more time with Vince at the Libertarian Party's 2008 national convention in Denver. He was working the Laissez Faire Books booth (ISIL recently acquired LFB, which had been on the brink of ceasing operations, and is bringing it back); I was working on multiple LP campaigns. We never made time for a good long sitdown ... and now we never will.

Vince appeared hale and hardy in Denver, but shortly after his return home to Benicia, California, he fell ill with respiratory problems. The initial diagnosis was pneumonia, but that was eventually corrected to "Valley Fever" -- a fungal infection native to a nearby area of California -- coupled with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome. Hospitalized, Vince was moved to ICU, breathing with the aid of a ventilator, and then things began to go even more wrong -- first kidney failure, then liver. A last-ditch attempt to treat the Valley Fever with steroids failed, and Vince died at about 8:15 am on Saturday.

I -- and I'm sure I can speak for the RRND/FND staff on this -- miss him already, and the freedom movement will miss him sorely for many years to come. Vince was one of the good guys, and one of the guys who got things done. ISIL, and before that the Libertarian International (which he founded and eventually merged into ISIL), live on as monuments to his work for human liberty. I remain stunned by his sudden passing, and apologize for my lack of eloquence. He deserves a better obituary, and I'm sure he'll be the subject of many.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Congressional campaign update


Earlier this week we [1] put in the order for the campaign's first batch of postcards. FYI (and I'm not being paid to say this), Pure Postcards has been a joy to work with through the selection / ordering / payment / proofing process, and we expect the final product to be beyond satisfactory. These cards will be mailed out (and used as doorhangers) in late July to help maximize participation in the Missouri LP's August 5th primary.

By the time the cards go out, I hope to also have yard signs in hand. Those will be given out to constituents who want to display them, set up in publicly visible "free placement" areas, and put out in front of polling places on primary day (then gathered back up for re-use). I'm trying to puff up Ye Olde Campaign Funds before ordering the signs, as I don't want to run the bank account dry getting them.

On The Issues

I've been populating the campaign web site's issues area over time. The latest position paper, primarily because the issue seems to be assuming a high profile in the Libertarian Party at this particular moment, is on immigration. Intro / teaser:

"Know-Nothingism" is a perennial trend in American politics. It's a convenient tool for drumming up baseless fears and turning those fears into money and votes. Unfortunately, even a few Libertarian candidates for public office have yielded to the temptation to exploit it.

Unlike my opponent, US Representative Todd Akin, I decline to cater to the politics of fear. I support the most "open border" policy possible. Peaceful individuals should be able to cross the border "through the front door" at any port of entry with no more scrutiny than you or I receive when we board a bus or enter a bank ...


Read the whole thing here.

Other new stuff in June:

- I endorsed articles of impeachment versus President Bush and Vice-President Cheney, as proposed in the US House of Representatives by Congressman Dennis Kucinich [D-OH].

- I posted my veterans' issues position paper, which calls for privatization of veterans' health care, full concurrent receipt of benefits, and an end to the pernicious "Feres Doctrine."

- I posted my position paper on marriage, which calls for equal protection of the law and an end to marriage apartheid.

Coming Up

- A "meet the candidates" event on Saturday, July 19th -- sponsored by the Missouri Libertarian Party and featuring LP vice-presidential nominee Wayne Allyn Root, as well as Missouri's statewide, congressional and state legislative Libertarian candidates. That event runs from 12:30-3:30 pm at the Best Western Airport Plaza Inn and Conference Center, 4530 North Lindbergh Boulevard in Bridgeton, Missouri. Come on out!

- Naturally, I expect to actively campaign over the July 4th holiday weekend. I haven't been invited to march in any parades. My tentative plan is to attend the public fireworks display in St. Charles -- one of the largest and most well-attended in the St. Louis area, where there will be much kissing of hands, shaking of babies and foisting of campaign fliers upon unsuspecting voters.

What You Can Do

- Subscribe to the campaign's low-volume email newsletter.

- Join the campaign's Facebook Group.

- Throw money!

Yours in liberty,
Tom Knapp
Libertarian for US House
Missouri, 2nd District




Notes

1. No, that's not the "royal we." I'm just the candidate. The campaign includes myself, an outstanding treasurer (Paula Benski), my significant other and kids (all veteran campaign canvassers, door-knockers, etc.), and numerous supporters and contributors. And speaking of treasurers and such, the "paid for by" disclaimer below is just self-protection from campaign finance bureaucrats. No, I am not charging the campaign for something I wrote and posted to a "free" blog.


Paid for by Thomas L. Knapp for Congress -- Paula Benski, Treasurer. Approved by the candidate.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Of our elaborate plans, the end ...


Right after the Libertarian Party's 2008 national convention, I wrote:

I've already taken a few hits -- including from long-time friends an allies -- for my own appeal for party loyalty. To those who are disappointed or angry with me, I have only this to say:

Yes, "my party right or wrong" has limits. If Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root don't run a convincingly pro-freedom campaign, that's on them and I'll act accordingly. However, my implicit agreement with the other delegates was that I'd support our caucus-expressed judgment as to which candidates WOULD most likely run such a campaign, and now that that judgment has been rendered, I'll support it until and unless I am presented with convincing evidence amassed after the fact that it was in fact a defective judgment.


I'm sorry to have to report that that "until and unless" has come to pass:

- Last Thursday, Barr came out in favor of nationalized/socialized oil exploration (the kind inevitably followed by corporate welfare-gifting of discovered resources).

- Yesterday, Barr made an appeal on behalf of using state tax policy for social engineering purposes.

- And today, in a truly bizarre fundraising letter, Barr played the Know-Nothing card, effectively screaming from the rooftop: "Support me -- I'm not as LIBERTARIAN as John McCain and Barack Obama on immigration."

Canthiddit, canthiddit, canthiddit, suhwingbattah. Steerikethuree ... yerouddaderr.

I apologize to anyone who may have followed my errant lead on this. I was wrong. Some suggested resources by way of making up for it:

- L. Neil Smith's recommended approach
- Mike Blessing's Provo Campaign plan

An idea with several fours in it ...


... from Steve Newton: Celebrate July 4th by sending a total of $40 to four Libertarian candidates.

The four candidates Steve specifically recommends are good, solid choices -- Michael Munger in North Carolina, Allen Buckley in Georgia, and Scotty Boman and Jason Gatties in Michigan -- but any four will do. My own list of recommendations would include not only those four, but (among many others) Indiana's Rex Bell, Morey Straus of New Hampshire, Rob Hodgkinson of Kansas, and Wes Upchurch of Missouri.

Ten bucks to a single candidate may not sound like a lot, but it really is. Ten bucks might mean 100 black and white photocopied fliers, or gas to and from an event across the county, or five yard signs. It does make a difference.

Friday, June 20, 2008

TNR: A brief fisk


It's just barely possible that Michael Idov makes it to the third sentence of his article on last month's Libertarian Party national convention before things fall apart. I don't know if he got the first two sentences right or not because I wasn't in the Capitol Bar with Christine Smith when he was. But based on the subsequent bits, I wouldn't bet the ranch on his accuracy.

Back in the hall, a few purists stage a desperate drive for Kubby as the v.p.


It took two ballots for Root to prevail for the veep nomination, and then he did so with 289 votes to Kubby's 255. Counting Dan Williams's 14 votes, that got Root to 51.7%, only 1.7% over the required majority and a slimmer margin than Barr managed. I'm not sure how Kubby's 45.7% can reasonably be described as "a desperate drive" by "a few purists." In fact, the most "desperate" of the "purists" were probably the ones who schlepped off to cry in their beer, plot revolution, whatever ... and that almost certainly cost Kubby the VP nomination.

The idea -- to stick Barr with the least compatible Number Two


Other parties "balance their tickets" by nominating a moderate and a radical, an easterner and a southerner, whatever. Apparently Libertarians aren't supposed to do that.

"Compatibility" isn't much of a criterion; Appeal to diverse constituencies is much better. Pairing a former drug POW with a former drug warrior would have made for great media. It would have highlighted the fact that Barr has changed, and given him opportunities to explain why and how. Pairing a long-time party activist with a relative newcomer would have addressed a real concern in the party itself. A Californian and a Georgian make for nice geographical and cultural diversity on the ticket.

None of this is intended to come out of Wayne Root's hide, btw. He won the nomination in an honest head-to-head contest ... but it wasn't Root versus a few "desperate purists," and it wasn't about "compatibility."

After more than a few people loudly declare their intention to defect on the spot, Steve Kubby goes onstage and pleads with them to stay.


Actually, Kubby's appeal to the exiting radicals was made outside the hall. Jesus, Idov, were you even in Denver?

Boston Tea Party, a fast-swelling offshoot composed of frustrated anarchists


... with a more moderate platform than the LP's ...

Today's "Sore Winner" prize goes to Brian Holtz for his critique of Idov's article, which wanders for a bit before dragging the aging, smelly, rotten red "Mary Ruwart, child pornography buff" herring around the block yet again. I'm not sure why. It was dishonest and shameful the first 50 times. Now it's just boring and irrelevant.

Novak and Carney: "McCain's Libertarian problem"


From this week's Evans-Novak Political Report:

The key question on the libertarian side of the ledger will be the strength of former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr, the Libertarian nominee. ... Barr sees his strongest region being the Mountain West, where Nevada and Colorado sit on the edge of the McCain-Obama battle. Barr could tip those states in Obama's direction if he gets just 2 percent. ... The fear of Barr swinging his home state Georgia to the Obama column is overblown.


Actually, Nevada and Colorado could swing on less than 2%. They're just that close now.

A strong libertarian campaign -- especially one with a Nevadan on the ticket -- focusing on two issues that have particularly vexed Bob Barr could easily make the difference.

Same-sex marriage: Both states have incorporated marriage apartheid into their constitutions in the 21st century (Nevada with 2002's Question 2 and Colorado with 2006's Amendment 43). However, significant portions of Nevadans (33%) and Coloradoans (44%) opposed those measures.

Marijuana, medical and otherwise: Both states allow medical marijuana. Significant portions of Nevadans (44%) and Coloradoans (40%) voted for broader legalization in 2006.

If Barr is interested in seizing the balance of power in Colorado and Nevada, he might do well to come out strong on these issues -- and ditch the Dixiecrat-style "states rights" reservations he's previously attached to them. What works in "the Solid South" doesn't necessarily work out west.

It's a safe bet that at least 2% of Colorado and Nevada voters:

a) support marriage equality;

b) support cannabis legalization;

c) consider both issues important; and

d) fit into the "true conservative" demographic that Barr (like Ron Paul before him) has geared his to appeal to so far.

I have to disagree with Novak and Carney on Georgia. Although most polls have shown McCain well ahead in that state, the latest InsiderAdvantage/PollPosition poll [PDF] has them in a virtual dead heat ... with Barr's share covering the spread ten times over!

That poll may be an outlier or it may indicate the start of a lasting trend, but let's be honest here: The outcome in Georgia probably hinges on black voter turnout, and Barr has a tough row to hoe there. The most interesting crosstab on the poll above is that Barr's support among black voters (Georgia's population is 30% African-American) is statistically insignificant (it registers as 0.0% in the poll).

I'm not sure he can do anything about that ... but the things he might do are the right things to do anyway (apologize for consorting with, and repudiate, the white separatist "Council of Conservative Citizens," concentrate on the drug war, throw the "states rights" nonsense overboard, etc.).

My bet is that Georgia's going to be a close state this time. It will probably come down to how well the Democrats do their job of getting African-American voters to the polls for Obama ... and quite possibly to whether or not Barr can hold his ground and maybe even take some more ground between now and November.

- Cross-posted at Independent Political Report

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Release: Boston Tea Party presents presidential slate for Colorado ballot


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
06/18/08
POC Thomas L. Knapp
media@bostontea.us
314-750-6993

BOSTON TEA PARTY PRESENTS PRESIDENTIAL SLATE FOR COLORADO BALLOT

DENVER -- America's new libertarian political party submitted its 2008 slate of electors to Colorado's Secretary of State Tuesday in anticipation of contesting this November's presidential election.

Wes Pinchot , chair of the state's Boston Tea Party, turned in the name of Charles Jay as that party's 2008 presidential candidate. Because of logistical problems in securing paperwork for national BTP vice-presidential nominee Thomas L. Knapp, the party's veep candidate here will be Colorado's own Dan Sallis, Jr.

Also submitted were the names of nine constitutionally mandated electors, who will cast votes in the Electoral College if the Jay/Sallis ticket carries the state in November.

The Boston Tea Party was founded in 2006 around a one-sentence platform: "The Boston Tea Party supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose."

The party's 2008 presidential slate was nominated Sunday and Monday in online voting, the culmination of a process which began in May with a Denver meeting of the party's national leadership. Colorado is the first state in which the party's ticket has qualified for the ballot. Party leaders say they also expect to seek ballot access in Florida, Louisiana, New Jersey, Tennessee and Utah.

The party's web site is located at http://www.bostontea.us.

-30-
about 220 words

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Release: Boston Tea Party nominates 2008 presidential ticket


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
06/16/08
POC Thomas L. Knapp
media@bostontea.us
314-750-6993


BOSTON TEA PARTY NOMINATES 2008 PRESIDENTIAL TICKET


CYBERSPACE -- The first American political party to hold its national convention online has now nominated a presidential ticket online as well. In a 24-hour polling process on June 15-16, the Boston Tea Party's members chose media consultant and content developer Charles Jay as their 2008 standard-bearer.

"I look forward to the challenge of spreading a message that directly relates to increasing freedom and liberty," said Jay, 47, of Hollywood, Florida. "The Boston Tea Party's platform and program represent the true fulfillment of what the Founding Fathers envisioned."

Jay received the support of 76% of voting Boston Tea Party members in a nomination poll conducted using "approval voting," in which voters may support more than one candidate. Second-place finisher Robert Milnes polled 14%, while "None Of The Above," a required polling option in all party selection votes, received 24%.

"As someone who is not a professional politician, I see this as the continuation of an amazing journey," said Jay, who appeared on Utah's ballot as the 2004 nominee of that state's Personal Choice Party. "A tremendous learning experience and a great collaboration between people who are committed to decreasing the size, scope and power of an all-too powerful government."

Thomas L. Knapp of Missouri, the party's founder, received the vice-presidential nomination in a four-cornered race with Todd Andrew Barnett of Michigan, Chris Bennett of Illinois and NOTA.

The Boston Tea Party was founded in 2006. This is its first electoral outing, and its ticket is expected to appear on the ballot in several states.

-30-

about 250 words


Party Web Site: http://www.bostontea.us
Presidential Campaign Web Site: http://www.cj08.com
Vice-Presidential Campaign Blog: http://www.myfrontporchcampaign.com

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A brief note on providence


If an earthquake swallowed up Disneyland tomorrow, we'd no doubt hear from Pat Robertson and assorted other usual suspects the next day, to the effect that the disaster was a direct result of Disney's policy of extending insurance benefits to the same-sex spouses of employees.

So, I'd like to put my own ministerial credentials to work for just a moment and speak in similar ex cathedra terms:

No, last night's deadly tornado does not represent divine murder in retribution for Boy Scouts of America's evil and immoral policies of discrimination against homosexuals and unbelievers.

I am, however, greatly interested in hearing Robertson et al's explanation for it.

Selah.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The three reasons why ...



... I'm up for this.

The first reason is the Boston Tea Party itself. It's my baby. I created it, and it just seems wrong not to tag along for whatever ride it may take me on. Vanity? OK, fine -- I'm relentlessly clawing my way to the top of the "exceedingly minor historical footnote" pile. I hear there's a free set of steak knives or something waiting up there.

The second reason is that, having consulted my various fiduciary duties, etc., I've found no real conflict. There's no possibility that the Boston Tea Party will be on the Missouri ballot this year, so I'm free to campaign for Congress as a loyal Libertarian (which will be my first priority in any case), and to support the LP presidential ticket, here. I'm not a member of the Libertarian National Committee, nor am I LP staff, etc. [1] And I don't plan to run against the LP ticket, even if I campaign in one or more of the few states where BTP ballot access looks possible. Anyone who'd consider voting for me (and the BTP ticket-topper, of course) would likely be from a small population which has already examined and rejected the LP ticket in any case.

I'd run against Obamacain, except that that sounds way too much like some weird club drug I'd like to try if I could find a trustworthy dealer. So instead of running against anything, I'll try running for something -- hey, how about freedom? I think maybe I've heard that somewhere before.

The third reason is the people who've asked or encouraged me to do so (intentionally or unintentionally, jokingly or seriously, on this ticket or any other). No, there aren't hundreds, or even dozens, of them. Just a handful, and if they want to be named they can name themselves. Here you go, folks. Remember the old saw about being careful what you wish for.

1. For those of you who are no doubt already clawing at your monitors and screaming "hypocrite!" at the top of your lungs ... stipulated. What else ya got?

Antiwar.Com Pledge Ring HQ


[Disclaimer: As of the establishment of the Antiwar.com Pledge Ring, I am not, and never have been, employed by Antiwar.com (if they ever offered to hire me, I'm sure I'd jump on such an opportunity, though -- so don't take this as a denial that I ever will work for them). I am not receiving any financial compensation from Antiwar.com for setting up or administering the Pledge Ring, nor do I have any reason to believe that Antiwar.com does, or will at any time in the future, endorse or approve of the pledge ring. It is entirely a personal project of mine, intended to create a third party quid pro quo for pledging to Antiwar.com - KN@PPSTER]

The long and short of it: The Antiwar.com Pledge Ring is a web ring. It is open to participation exclusively by those who pledge and pay a contribution of at least $5 per month for the support of Antiwar.com. I've said elsewhere why I believe they need and deserve such support (Google it if you're not already convinced).

Here's how to join:

- If you haven't already done so, get thee to http://www.antiwar.com/donate and set up your monthly pledge.

- Forward a copy of the "thank you" email you receive (or, if you're already a pledger, the email receipt for your latest pledge payment) to me at awcpledgering at rationalreview dot com. At the top of the forwarded message, include the URL you'll be participating in the ring with.

- Click on the "join" button in the Ring Doomaflitchit and follow the instructions, including insertion of the ring code on your site.

Once I've seen the documentation of your pledge AND you've gone through the "join" procedure, I'll approve your site ... unless.

The unless is this: No "hate" sites, and I reserve the right to exercise my own personal discretion as to what constitutes same. If you're publishing racist, anti-semitic (I do NOT define all anti-Israel/pro-Arab material as "anti-semitic," btw), xenophobic, homophobic or otherwise nauseating material, consider the "not welcome" mat out. No refunds (you're not giving ME money, after all), no notice, just the old heave-ho. You're welcome to pledge your financial support to Antiwar.com, but I won't be part of promoting your site.

FYI, the default Bravenet-provided ring code for insertion on your site isn't very blog-sidebar-friendly. Feel free to use the following instead, first replacing all instances of "(siteid)" with the unique identifying number included in the code that Bravenet gives you. Works the same, but it compresses to less than 200 pixels wide on demand and fits nicely in most sidebars (and doesn't separate into two blocks like it's doing for some unknown reason in this post). See the sidebar for an example of how it looks (and note -- you're probably going to have to screw with line breaks to get this code to work -- sorry about that, but I couldn't figure out any way to keep it from flowing out into the sidebar without inserting artificial breaks):

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

More progress: Barr on Iraq


Bob Barr before becoming the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nominee:

[S]ignificantly reduce the US economic and military footprint in Iraq.


This phrasing appears in numerous articles around the web (search for it!). I can't tell if the original appearance, on Barr's web site, has been memory-holed or if my Google skills just aren't up to the task, but I recall that that appearance avoided the use of the term "withdrawal."

Bob Barr as the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nominee:

The next president should commit to a speedy and complete withdrawal from Iraq, and tell the Iraqi people that the U.S. troops will be going home.


Title of the article? "Tell Iraqis no permanent bases, says Bob Barr."

Works.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Raising the Barr, part 2: Iran


Hat tip to Susan Hogarth for calling attention to this (on the LP Radicals discussion list):

Jun 10
Press Conference, "Time to Talk with Iran"
West side Terrace of the House Canon Office Building
10:30 am Edt


This is a unique opportunity for Bob Barr to truly shine as the Libertarian Party's presidential candidate. Barr, who graduated from high school in, of all places, Tehran, can claim a familiarity with the Iranian people and culture that no other candidate of any party comes close to ... and he can bring that familiarity and a libertarian policy perspective effectively to bear on US foreign policy vis a vis Iran.

Quoth Barr, as late as last year:

Should Washington simply sit back and leave Iran alone — free to support terrorist groups and regimes in other countries, including Iraq, and to develop a nuclear capability? Of course not. Even considering that our lengthy and continuing occupation of Iraq has greatly strengthened Ahmadinejad, the United States has a clear and legitimate stake in what happens in Iran and with regard to matters in which that regime is involved elsewhere. ... Positive steps could include strengthening economic and political pressure on Iran, and increased efforts to quietly but actively build on the deep base of political understanding that already exists among a large segment of the Iranian population (and including the more than one million Iranian-Americans).


Hopefully his perspective has changed since then. Hopefully he has realized -- as the American experience versus, among others, the Cuban Communist regime and the Iraqi Ba'athist regime prove -- that not only do sanctions not work, they have precisely the opposite effect of that allegedly intended. They entrench tyrants and allow those tyrants to continue in power.

The quickest way to remove the mullahs from power in Iran is also the approach dictated by libertarian foreign policy prescriptions: Lift all sanctions, bring down all trade barriers, and announce that the US will henceforth treat Iran (or, to put a finer point on it, Iranians) as ... friends!

It was American support for the Shah's regime that allowed him to rule autocratically -- and that produced the Islamist backlash which led to the revolution and the ascent of Ayatollah Khomeini. The Iranian people are not, by inclination, backward. It is only American sanctions and sabre-rattling which have allowed the mullahs to continue in power by brandishing a powerful foreign enemy at their subjects.

Lift the sanctions, declare friendship ... and the theocratic regime in Iran would be lucky to last a year. Hopefully Barr will unveil exactly such a program next week.

Verney lays it down; Bo Diddley, like a Cadillac 8


The only thing these two items really have in common is that I noticed them both first at Hit & Run.

First, a word (or 78) from Bob Barr campaign manager Russ Verney:

The Barr campaign is not going to be a vehicle for every fringe and hate group to promote itself. We do not want and will not accept the support of haters. Anyone with love in their heart for our country and for every resident of our country regardless of race, religion, nationality or sexual orientation is welcome with open arms.

Tell the haters I said don't let the door hit you on the backside on your way out!


Good on Verney (and Barr). Not just the perfect line in itself, but a giant step toward undoing damage that other campaign did to the freedom movement.

Also at Hit & Run, Jesse Walker notes the death of Bo Diddley. Reqiescat in Pace to a man who sometimes made it work with two chords and the truth.

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