Monday, April 27, 2009

Speechifying: R. Lee Wrights in Knoxville


The Libertarian Party of Tennessee had their 2009 state convention this last weekend in Knoxville. Tennessee puts on a great convention -- I've been to a few of them -- and I wish I could have made it to this one.

R. Lee Wrights, at-large member of the Libertarian National Committee, did make it to Knoxville. Here's his speech, which addresses the ongoing attempt of a rebel cabal on the LNC to illicitly remove him from the committee. It's audio only, courtesy of Allan Wallace. I understand that there may be a video version coming as well from another attendee, but this will do just fine for now:

free video hosting
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If you were a 2008 national convention delegate (an actually credentialed one, i.e. one who went to Denver and was seated), please sign the delegate appeal to the Judicial Committee to suppress the cabal's attempted coup. If you're a sustaining member of the national Libertarian Party, please sign the membership appeal. If you were a delegate and are a sustaining member, please sign both. It's your party -- defend it!

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

My two latest at C4SS


"The best defense," 04/24/09:

Two things you get when your government spends so much on "defense" are more enemies and more wars.

Politicians are loath to just leave a military establishment as large and expensive as that maintained by the United States lying around -- soldiers in domestic barracks, ships in domestic ports. They want to use it, if for no other reason than to provide a continuing justification for its existence. Theodore Roosevelt's "big stick" isn't something politicians can bring themselves to carry at their sides while speaking softly ... rather, they're constantly tempted to wave it around while yelling at the tops of their lungs.


And "Think globally, bully locally," 04/27/09:

"Would you tell me please, Mr. Howard," asked Benjamin Martin, a fictional character loosely based on Revolutionary War figure Francis Marion and portrayed by Mel Gibson in The Patriot, "why should I trade one tyrant 3,000 miles away for 3,000 tyrants one mile away?"

In the film -- and in the making of America’s Revolution against Britain -- the question was whether rule by a domestic elected legislature was really any better in principle than rule by a distant foreign king.

The same question can still be reasonably posed in cities and towns across that same America more than 200 years later. While "states' rights" claims and other arguments in favor of decentralization and localized rule are characteristic of the American political tradition, local government often makes the best case against delegating power to government at all."

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Inside baseball


For the long versions, see:

Independent Political Report: Here, here, here and here.

Idaho Libertarian Times: Here.

Liberty For All: Here and here.

Short version:

- The secretary of the Libertarian National Committee, acting on behalf of an internal LNC cabal fast developing a reputation for this kind of weird shit, has attempted to unilaterally remove an at-large representative from the committee, even though the bylaws governing the committee's operations clearly require a 2/3 vote of the committee to remove one of its members.

- The chair of the LNC is actively supporting the cabal's rebellion against the Libertarian Party with parliamentary rulings intended to suppress operation of the bylaws in favor of the cabal's writ. Therefore the fight to suppress the rebellion must now be conducted by appeal to the party's Judicial Committee.

- An appeal requires petition signatures from 10% of credentialed delegates to the last Libertarian National Convention (if that's you, click here to sign said petition), or 1% of sustaining members of the Libertarian Party (here's that petition).

If you're both a sustaining member of the LP and were a credentialed 2008 national convention delegate, you can sign both petitions.

Do the right thing.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Good times


The Missouri Libertarian Party held its 2009 state convention on Saturday in Jefferson City -- a nicely done event with 40-50 attendees and topical breakout sessions and talks with LP leaders including Mark Rutherford of ATLAS PAC, Libertarian National Committee vice chair Michael Jingozian and Austin Peterson of LPHQ.

Since I'm new at this county chair business, I attended the breakout sessions on county committee matters conducted by state chair Glenn Nielsen. The state party has been building some fantastic infrastructure to make it easier for our county parties to maintain a seamless organizational existence: County subdomains on the lpmo.org server, a VOIP phone system that forwards calls to county party contacts so that "the number" doesn't change just because the contact people do, etc. Cool stuff.

Then, of course, there was the business session, i.e. state committee meeting. Under Missouri law, the Missouri LP is governed by a state committee consisting of two representatives from each state senatorial district. In practice, that committee meets once a year and delegates a good deal of its authority to an executive committee the rest of the time.

On the agenda this year were a couple of amendments pertaining to "getting our papers in order" so that our bylaws match our incorporation papers. Those passed without controversy.

Two other bylaws amendments which I opposed -- see here for the details -- were discussed at length and with a little heat at times, and failed to secure the 2/3 vote needed for passage.

The party then elected new officers ... or, rather, re-elected the sitting chair (Glenn Nielsen), vice chair (Cisse Spragins) and treasurer (Paula Benski) with no opponents seeking to unseat them. Secretary John Schultz declined to run for re-election, and Barry Albin ran unopposed to fill that seat.

We also caucused by US House District to select the new executive committee reps. I don't have a full list of those results handy just yet. I'm now a full representative from the 1st District (I was an alternate last term), along with St. Louis County vice chair Julie Stone.

Many of the attendees chose to drive home rather than stay Saturday night, but by my count ten Libertarians hung around long enough to drop into the Knapp 2012 hospitality suite for beer, food and political chat. I had also liberally salted the event chairs with campaign literature during the day's business.

I don't know if I came out of the weekend's activities with any delegate votes I didn't have going in, but it was a good time in any case -- it's always fun to re-connect with fellow Libertarians from around the state whom I work with on a regular basis but usually only get to see once or twice a year.

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Killing us softly


My latest at the Center for a Stateless Society:

The [Waco] massacre evokes the memory of the Nazis' assault on the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943, the British army's attempt to disarm unruly colonists in 1775, and the Crusaders' firing of the Cathedral of St. Nazaire in Beziers in 1019 (the proximate event cited as inspiration for papal legate Arnaud Amalric's dictate: "Caedite eos! Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius" ("Kill them all; for the Lord knoweth them that are His").

The unfortunate truth, however, is that the Waco massacre was small potatoes in the scheme of things. It was distinguished by its raw brutality, by the fact that it took place in the glare of media attention, and by the fact that its perpetrators found themselves publicly accused of their crimes and compelled to attempt to justify their actions.

In fact, the state kills far more than 76 innocent men, women and children every day, day in and day out, year after year -- and those killings go, for the most part, not only unpunished but for all practical purposes unnoticed.


Click here for the full piece.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Campaign-O-Rama!


Photo by Daniel Millay
It should have been obvious to me that using KN@PPSTER as a presidential campaign site wasn't going to work, even from the start. That became more clear to me when I began planning campaign events and had to think about how attendees at those events would react after I (hopefully) wowed them in person, with professional literature, etc., then sent them here.

So, time to head back into "real campaign site" territory. It's skeletal -- I've just started populating it with some relatively recent articles and haven't buckled down to getting my position paper suite together yet -- but it's there (and thanks to an in-kind contributor, the header image is great!).

Some updates:

- This weekend, I'll be attending the Missouri Libertarian Party's state convention and hosting a hospitality suite Saturday evening at the convention hotel. If you're attending the convention, or just happen to be in the Jefferson City area, drop in for a drink and some conversation!

- OK, folks, you're finally going to get a book out of me. Working title: Unnecessary Evils: Handbook for a New American Revolution. I'm already writing away at it and expect to publish it next spring.

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More on the Tea Parties


From my latest at the Center for a Stateless Society:

90% of the signs at the St. Louis Tea Party were anti-state -- "End the Fed!" "Repudiate the Debt!" "Taxes are theft!" -- and if we got 90% of what those signs asked for, we'd be 90% of the way to a stateless society.

But ... Waiter! There’s a fly in my tea!

The other 10% of signs didn't just miss the point, they skewed the message. The "secure the borders" signs. The signs advocating new tax schemes ("fair" taxes and "flat" taxes mostly). The signs accusing President Obama of cutting government expenditures on "national defense" (unfortunately, his budget proposal includes an increase in "defense" funding).

The Tea Party movement must make itself thoroughly anti-political and anti-state. Else it will be stillborn ... or end up actually fueling the growth of the state.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Some notes on the St. Louis Tea Party


The family and I went down to Kiener Plaza in St. Louis this evening for the St. Louis Tea Party event. Even arriving a half hour or so before the scheduled starting time, we were at the outer edge of a large crowd.

I've attended a number of demonstrations, protests, marches, etc. over the years in the St. Louis area, and this was one of the largest I've seen ... bigger than most of the anti-war events, for example (and I'm not saying it to put the anti-war events down -- I participated in many of them). The crowd was too big (and too unevenly spaced, packed in like sardines near the stage area then thinning out some toward the edges) to get a reliable crowd estimate, but my low-side Scientific Wild-Ass Guess is somewhere between 3,500 and 5,000. Much bigger than I expected -- big enough that the Libertarian Party types should have had a designated pre-event meeting spot so that we could find each other. The St. Louis County LP chair brain-spazzed on that piece of prep. I'm going to slap him around for it the next time I see him in the mirror.

There's been a lot of rumor mill stuff about GOP "astro-turfing" of the Tea Party movement, but I saw nothing to indicate that the St. Louis event had been co-opted by any party machine. Most of the signs I saw were handmade and there were a diversity of agendas in evidence. "Fair" Taxers. Campaign For Liberty folks. Freelance "End the Fed" activists. Anti-cigarette-tax activists. Some Know-Nothings. Some "Bikers for Freedom." Various Libertarian Party and non-party libertarians.

Can't say I agreed with every message I saw being offered, but that's the thing -- this event was eclectic. There was no ideological uniformity to it, other than that the general mood was anti-tax, anti-big-spending, anti-bailout. If it was a GOP "astro-turf" attempt, it failed miserably. And I don't think it was ... the "official" event flier included a reading list recommending a book by Murray N. Rothbard. Not exactly Newt Gingrich/Sean Hannity material. I only saw one sign favorably mentioning Fox "News." I saw several that pointedly laid the blame for the economic implosion as much at Republican feet as at Democrat feet.

The only counter-protester I saw on site (I ran into a few more -- poseur-punk-commie types, you know the kind I'm talking about, probably suburban upper middle class kids trying to expiate their angst by acting poor and oppressed -- coming as I was going) was a guy wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt and a facemask and carrying a sign that read "Tax the Rich -- Quit Whining and Pay Up." He was one of only two masked demonstrators I saw. The other one was wearing an Obama mask and smoking a cigarette ... I didn't catch his message.

The crowd was too big and too loud for me to hear much from the stage except during a facsimile of respectful silence during an opening prayer and the singing of the national anthem. The only significant snippet I caught was more anti-"astro-turfing" evidence -- something about liberty not being the possession of any party.

The event struck me as much more genuinely grass-roots than the mostly carefully orchestrated lefty events I've been to in St. Louis over the last nine years. If this at least semi-spontaneous uprising coalesces around a non-partisan (or at least non-"major"-party) populist agenda, it could mark a major shift in American politics. I'm not holding my breath, but I am holding out hope.

Update: Organizer Bill Hennessey says 10,000 people were there. Elsewhere (a Pajamas Media "short," if I recall correctly), I saw a Park Service Police estimate of 6,000. In my experience, law enforcement tends to lowball some and event organizers tend to estimate a little wishfully. Still, from the photo at the link above, I'd say that 8-10k is not out of line at all, and that my own SWAG of 3.5-5k was way low - KN@PPSTER

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Big government is the biggest business of all


My latest column is up at the Center for a Stateless Society. Teaser:

The House and Senate are still wrangling over details, but rough numbers are already in place: The US government’s budget for fiscal year 2010 will land north of $3.5 trillion.

That’s big business. How big? Big.

The federal government employs 2.7 million civilian workers at an average wage of more than $63,000 per year. That’s not counting more than 1.4 million active duty military personnel and more than half a million reservists and National Guard members.

Nor does it include the many state and local government employees whose salaries are routed through Washington in one way or another. Altogether, government at every level directly employs about 20 million Americans — and millions more work for businesses which rely on government contracts for much of their revenue.

The "customer" — you — ultimately picks up the tab, of course. For fiscal year 2010, your bill from the federal government comes to nearly $18,000.

Yes, you read that right.


Read the rest there.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Lights! Agora! Camera! Anarchy! Action!


Sez J. Neil Schulman:

Recently I have been focusing my attention on taking my 1979 novel of American economic meltdown and consequent libertarian revolution, Alongside Night, off the backlist shelf where it has been sitting for many years. By expanding its story into new media -- in particular a new screenplay intended to be my second outing as a film director -- I intend to launch Alongside Night into the mass pop culture, where its expanded audience can decide if they want the world to continue in the direction of one-world fascism, or make a break with the current trends and declare themselves for individual liberty.


If you haven't read Alongside Night, you need to. If you've read it, no time like the present (really!) for a re-read.

Click here for more information on the book and for various purchase/edition options. I just bought the PDF edition (we already have the hardback at home, but it never hurts to have a backup), and it looks well-done -- Schulman is, among other things, one of the pioneers of e-publishing.

If you're coming to the Boston Tea Party's "meatspace gathering" in Kansas City this May, bring your copy along. I understand Neil will be there to screen his first feature film, Lady Magdalene's, so you might be able to swing an autograph.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Another prospect ...


The more I see of the guy, the harder I kick myself in the ass for just instantly writing him off in 2008 and hope that he'll consider another tilt at this thing. Ladies and gentlemen ... Doug Stanhope:



Stanhope is listed in the "field" in the latest lp-discuss straw poll.

Hat tip: Starchild.

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Where's Tom?



The campaign calendar is starting to come together a bit. Here are some places I expect to be -- and hope to meet you -- over the course of the next year or so. I'll update and/or replace this post as necessary.

- 04/15/09: St. Louis Tax Day Tea Party. With other St. Louis area Libertarians, I'll be participating in this protest against Washington DC's fiscal irresponsibility. 6:30 pm at Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis.

- 04/18/09: Libertarian Party of Missouri, 2009 State Convention, Jefferson City, Missouri. I'll be attending this event as an LPMO member. I'm not, as of this time, scheduled as a speaker. I'm looking into the possibility of hosting a Saturday-night hospitality suite.

- 05/30/09-05/31/09: Boston Tea Party "Meatspace Gathering", Kansas City. I'm a scheduled speaker at this one. Details TBA.

- 07/18/09-07/19/09: Libertarian National Committee meeting, Renaissance St. Louis Grand & Suites Hotel, St. Louis, MO. I am not a scheduled speaker at this time, but look forward to meeting Libertarians from around the US who attend to observe and/or participate in their party's national committee business sessions.

- 10/23/09-10/25/09: Libertarian Party of Illinois, 2009 State Convention, Collinsville, IL. I'm not a scheduled speaker at this time, but plan to attend. Hospitality suite and other details TBD.

- 05/28/10-05/31/10: Libertarian National Convention 2010, Renaissance St. Louis Grand & Suites Hotel, St. Louis, MO. I anticipate attending as a Missouri delegate, as well as hosting hospitality/campaign events.




Paid for by Knapp 2012 and approved by the candidate

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The Big Red Machine for President?


I don't know why it never occurred to me before: Glenn Jacobs, a/k/a "Kane" to wrestling fans, for President?

Jacobs's name appears in the "field" in the latest round of polling at lp-discuss. Someone who will remain nameless except to say that her initials are Susan Hogarth has been thinking about this more clearly than I have.

I was privileged to meet Mr. Jacobs last May at the Libertarian Party's national convention. Very personable guy. Obviously large and muscular, with definite presence -- but not personally imposing in any kind of bad or threatening way (unless he wants to be, of course). I didn't know he was "Kane" until R. Lee Wrights, who introduced us, clued me in. He said he reads KN@PPSTER. I suspect he was just being polite.

Intelligent? Yep! Persuasive public speaker? Yep! Libertarian? Most definitely. Here he is (if the embed works -- either way, see the original article at Homeland Stupidity) addressing the New Hampshire Liberty Forum:



The guy can speechify. He knows his stuff. And there might just be a tombstone piledriver in your future if you're not paying attention. What's not to like?

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Taxation with representation still sucks


That's the title of my latest Center for a Stateless Society column.

Teaser:

In a market transaction, each party to the transaction receives full expression of his or her values -- either all parties believe they benefit, or the transaction doesn’t take place. In a state transaction, the political class substitutes its own values for the values of those it claims to "represent," having coercively separated the wealth to be spent from the "represented." And while it has its powers of coercion handy, it generally makes additional use of them in negotiating the terms of the transaction itself. From front to rear and top to bottom, a state transaction is inherently designed to benefit the political class at the expense of everyone else. "Representation" is a fiction, or at best a scheme of misdirection.


Here's the whole thing.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

New LP straw polls


The second round of straw polls for Libertarian National Committee chair and 2012 Libertarian presidential nominee are up at lp-discuss.org.

I'm pretty sure that lp-discuss webmistress Susan Hogarth intends to settle into a pattern of weekly polling rounds with variable matchups beyond "field preference." Interestingly, this round puts me up against an opponent in one of the "head to head" questions.

Please vote -- whether you vote for me or not -- and please ask other L/libertarians you know to vote as well. These polls aren't scientific and aren't magically going to become scientific, but more participation should increase the seriousness with which the results can be reasonably taken (among other things it takes more effort to stuff a poll with lots of legitimate participants).

For those who care one way or another about my own prospects, I placed fourth, with 11.59%, in the first round of presidential nomination polling.

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Further adventures with Puppy Linux


Upgraded my Puppy Linux box from 4.1.2 to 4.2 ("Deep Thought") yesterday.

Time to upgrade: About half an hour, including downloading the ISO, burning it to a CD, rebooting from that CD, and letting Puppy update the existing installation. No muss, no fuss, no problems, no panic attack situations.

Flawless victory!

[Note: The first time I had occasion to open a Microsoft Word file in Puppy 4.2 (using AbiWord), it didn't display well. My first assumption was that the file was corrupted, but then I found this at the Puppy Linux site ... a one minute fix and bam, works perfectly!]

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Let the non-scientific polling begin!


Susan Hogarth's got a couple of polls running over at lp-discuss.org: One for the Libertarian Party's 2012 presidential nomination, one for Libertarian National Committee chair, 2010-2012.

Non-scientific, yes -- but that doesn't mean they lack value. Absent active fraudulent stuffing and such, they might tell us something about which actual or prospective candidates either inspire spontaneous support, or can mobilize "organized" support in the form of poll participation.

Yes, I am a presidential nomination candidate. Yes, I am asking you to vote in that poll. I won't presume, at this early point, to plead with you to vote for me in it unless you're already predisposed to do so or unless you really find me the most attractive candidate from among those offered.

In the poll for chair, however, I am going to ask you to support a particular candidate. That candidate is Jim Lark. Dr. Lark hasn't announced that he's running for chair, and I have reason to believe that it would take a good deal of persuasion to get him to do so. Now's the time to get with the persuading, and the poll seems like as good a place as any to start.

My endorsement of Dr. Lark for chair is, believe it or not, entirely non-ideological. In point of fact, I endorse him for chair because I believe -- on the basis of past performance -- that as chair he would refuse to allow faction fights to turn the LNC into a perpetual three-ring circus.

To put a finer point on it, for example, I don't believe that "the Keaton affair" would have happened had Dr. Lark been at the head of the LNC table last year -- not because I believe that he unquestioningly supports Angela Keaton and all of her works (indeed I very much suspect that he doesn't), but because he proved in his first chairmanship (2000-2002) that he won't tolerate the degeneration of LNC meetings into faction cage matches ... regardless of which faction or factions are looking for a fight.

I see a number of other qualified prospective candidates on the poll list, some of them close friends. My endorsement of Dr. Lark is not intended as a slight against any of them -- if he doesn't run, I'm going to have a hard time picking a candidate to support. But if I had to pick a first choice for chair from any list, no matter how long and full of distinguished names, I'd pick Jim Lark without hesitation.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A comforting musical interlude


Today, I become a non-smoker for the first time in something like 23 years. Feh.


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YANG!


[Yet Another New Gig!]

Starting today (who starts a job on April Fool's Day? ... scary!), I'll be publishing two columns a week as a news analyst for the Center for a Stateless Society.

Here's the first one.

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