Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thanks to the Libertarian National Committee ...


... for doing the right thing and dumping the registration fee requirement for delegate floor access and voting rights at this year's Libertarian National Convention.

Without belaboring any "who was right, who was wrong" points, thanks especially to those LNC members who may have been on a fence of conscience, or who supported the fee but felt constrained by direction of the affiliate parties they represent to take it down for the moment. There was a train wreck waiting to happen there and they helped put the brakes on.

I expect that we'll see a bylaws amendment proposal at the convention itself to specifically provide for registration fees / floor fees (or more explicitly forbid them) in the future. While I'm worried about the possible legal problems that the LP might be in for if we adopt a registration fee, that doesn't mean it's a necessarily a bad idea and I hope we can work through the issue more amicably than we were able to when it was -- at least in the opinion of many, myself included -- a matter of bylaws compliance versus bylaws violation.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Instead of Instead of a Speech


No, the headline is not a typo. "Instead of a speech," etc., was part of the working sub-title of a speech I was scheduled to give at the Free State Project's 2010 Liberty Forum in Nashua, New Hampshire next month.

The Liberty Forum is a fine event with a great reputation for being incredibly fun and productive, and I hope that as many of you as can go, will go. Without going into excruciating detail, a combination of travel plan troubles and health issues has driven me to cancel my appearance there.

I was planning to use my speech there to make a specific announcement. Since I won't be making the speech there and then, I'll go ahead and publish the first part (still in rough draft, but it gets the point across) here, so as to get the announcement out:

Good morning/afternoon/evening!

My name is Tom Knapp and, as your schedule notes, my talk today has a long, unwieldy title: "What Is To Be Done? The futility of traditional politics: Why the Libertarian Party fails in its mission and how it can renew itself to become the vanguard of a successful American freedom movement."

Let's shorten the title a little. It will be easier to remember that way. Let's change it to "Instead of a Stump Speech, by a Man Who's No Longer Running for President."

With those words, I'm attempting to convey this announcement: Effective immediately, I'm no longer seeking the 2012 nomination of the Libertarian Party or the Boston Tea Party for President of the United States. Announcement ends.

I can see that most of you didn't know I was running for President when we walked in here.

I can see that a few of you who did know are relieved to learn that I'm no longer doing so.

I'm pretty sure that not a soul walked into this room, heard my melodious voice, and said to himself "now THERE is a man of presidential timbre!"

So, enough of that, anyway. This speech isn't about the fact that I'm no longer running for President, but it is at least in part about WHY I'm no longer running for President.

When I sat down to write this speech, I didn't know I'd be writing this speech. I thought I was writing the introduction of my presidential campaign book. But my son's hamster's wheel squeaks, and for that reason I ended up writing this speech instead of that book.

I'm sure you've heard the analogy of third party electoral politics to a hamster on a wheel -- it runs and runs and runs, but never gets anywhwere. It's a great analogy. And every time I sat down to start my campaign book ... squeak ... squeaaaaaak ...

I had to go look, and when I did I discovered that my son's hamster is different with respect to the analogy.

He doesn't just run on the wheel. He runs on the wheel for about five minutes, then he stops, gets off, walks to the front of the wheel and looks. He looks at the wall of the cage, then he looks back at the wheel. Then he looks at the wall of his cage some more, and looks at the wheel some more. Then he gets back on the wheel and starts running again.

From analogy to cliche: The definition of insanity -- or possibly the result of having a brain the size of a pea -- is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

As a libertarian political activist, I could handle being a hamster on a wheel. But when the full weight of the fact that that damn wheel hadn't taken me anywhere and that it was never GOING to take me anywhere landed on my consciousness, I was forced to choose between the insanity of returning to the wheel and the saner approach of taking a closer look at the cage wall and thinking about how one might actually chew through it.

As a side note, the hamster died last week.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Superfrap Mobile/Micro/Live-Blogging Bleg


Update, 02/27/10: I've had to cancel the New Hampshire trip, and see no reason to ask my readers for help getting a device to liveblog a trip I won't be taking. Um ... as you were, as it were - TLK /end update

After looking at various cell phone and text messaging options, I'm right back to a device I mentioned awhile back: The TwitterPeek.

Before, I just liked it. Now I have a reason to bleg my readers for it. Here's the skinny:

I'll be attending at least two "away from keyboard" events this spring -- the Free State Project's 2010 Liberty Forum in March, and the Libertarian Party's national convention in May.

I expect both of these events to be things where I'll have little time to sit down in front of a desktop or laptop computer and make lengthy reports. What I will be able to do is text message or tweet about them, if I have a handy device for doing so. My cell phone does not meet the description of "handy" -- last time I tried that, I spent more time fumbling with the phone than getting the scoop to y'all.

I thought about getting a better phone, etc. -- and I still may -- but the $99.99 TwitterPeek comes with six months of service ($6.95/month after that). I'd like to have it. If I do, then I'll just use my phone to take/send pictures, not to actually do the blogging on.

I think I can give better mo/micro/live-blog that way. Not just at these two events, but for the foreseeable future. I may even attend events that I wouldn't otherwise have bothered with if I can effectively mo/micro/live-blog them.

If you think that sounds worth supporting, then check out my Kickstart Pledge Drive to raise the Ben Franklin for it in $10 per person increments. You only pay your pledge (you'll get instructions on that when the time comes) if ten people join to make the thing happen by March 1st. Otherwise, it just goes away.

Bonus rounds:

- For $199.99, I can get the thing with "forever" service -- no monthly fees, ever. If you're the magnanimous person who's willing to match the original $100 with $100 of your own to make that happen, email me.

- If you want to just get the thing (either version) for me directly and have me cancel the pledge drive, see my Amazon wish list in the right sidebar. Both versions are on it.

If I don't have the money to order the TwitterPeek by March 1st, I'll try to find some other way to mo/micro/live-blog these events ... but I don't think it will work as well. So, think it over.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Question for cell phone know-it-alls


I don't carry a laptop, and I'm not interested in buying an expensive phone with an expensive contract.

On the other hand, I'm occasionally in places, or at events, where I'd like to tweet or moblog extensively, and thumbing text messages into a small phone keypad is just a pain in the ass.

So, here's my question: Is it possible (and if so, how hard would it be) to pair up a cheap Bluetooth keyboard with a cheap phone (I'm looking at the Motorola E815 and the LG VX8300)?

I want to keep my total device expense under $100 ... hopefully way under $100. My prepaid cellular provider is selling the Motorola for less than $50 and the LG for damn near nothing.

I don't plan to use my phone to browse the web or as as a game machine or MP3 player or anything like that. I just want to be able to talk on it (occasionally!), text message from it and take/send pictures with it. They don't even have to be especially good pictures (the Motorola has a 1.3 megapixel camera; the LG's camera is VGA).

The idea is that I generally tweet/moblog from settings where I'm at liberty to sit down and spread devices out in front of me for a time. I'd be happy to carry a keyboard, especially if it's one of those foldable jobs, with me, if I could plug that keyboard into my cell phone and start updating Twitter/TwitPic, Blogger or Facebook via text message using it, instead of holding the tiny phone in both hands and scrolling through letter combos. I'd rather not carry a laptop for such things (and my current, wonderful laptop is "headless" -- the screen doesn't work and I use it as a monitor-connected desktop -- in any case).

The last time I live-blogged an event using my phone, I had to pay more attention to the "typing" than I was able to give to the event itself. With a real keyboard attached, that would change in a big way. So ... can I do that?

If not, I may go ahead and spring for something like the Cricket MSGM8, but frankly that's more phone (and more phone service!) than I need and the tiny QWERTY keyboard looks almost as aggravating and time-consuming as a regular phone keypad.

LP bylaws amendment proposal (delegate allocation)


Article 11, Sections 4 and 5 of the Libertarian Party's bylaws reads as follows:

4. Affiliate Party Delegate Entitlements:

Each affiliate party shall be entitled to send delegates to each Regular Convention on the following basis:

a. One delegate for each 0.14 percent, or fraction thereof, of the total Party sustaining membership in that affiliate; provided that at least one such delegate must be a resident of that State or District.

b. One delegate for each 0.35 percent, or fraction thereof, of the votes cast nationwide for the Libertarian Party candidate in the most recent presidential election, cast in that affiliate's state.

5. Delegate Allocation:

In order to be counted for delegate allocation, sustaining membership applications must be sent to the National Headquarters by either the individual member or the affiliate party and received or postmarked no later than the last day of the seventh month prior to the Regular Convention. The Secretary shall make a count of the sustaining members qualified under the requirements set forth here and shall compute the delegate allocations for the affiliate parties. Notification of the sustaining membership totals and allocation totals shall be sent by the Secretary to the Chair of each affiliate party no later than the last day of the sixth month prior to a Regular Convention. A list of the names and addresses of all delegates and alternates chosen by each affiliate party shall be sent to the Credentials Committee no later than one month prior to start of the first general session of the Regular Convention. Amendments to such lists may be made by the affiliate parties and submitted to the Credentials Committee until the close of the Credentials Committee meeting preceding the Convention. The number of alternates' names submitted shall not exceed the greater of 50 or the number of delegates allocated. Failure to submit a listing of delegate/alternate names and addresses, as prescribed within these Bylaws, shall cause no delegation to be registered from that affiliate party. By seven-eighths vote, the Convention may approve additional delegates and alternates whose names and addresses are submitted to the Credentials Committee during the Convention.

I'd like to see it moved (in the bylaws committee's report, or from the floor) that the following replacement sections be adopted:


4. Affiliate Party Delegate Entitlements:

Each affiliate party shall be entitled to send delegates to each Regular Convention on the following basis:

a. Two delegates for each state.

b. One additional delegate for each US House District in each state.

5. Delegate Allocation: The Secretary shall make a count of the US House Districts in each state and shall compute the delegate allocations for the affiliate parties. Notification of the allocation totals shall be sent by the Secretary to the Chair of each affiliate party no later than the last day of the sixth month prior to a Regular Convention. A list of the names and addresses of all delegates and alternates chosen by each affiliate party shall be sent to the Credentials Committee no later than one month prior to start of the first general session of the Regular Convention. Amendments to such lists may be made by the affiliate parties and submitted to the Credentials Committee until the close of the Credentials Committee meeting preceding the Convention. The number of alternates' names submitted shall not exceed the number of delegates allocated. Failure to submit a listing of delegate/alternate names and addresses, as prescribed within these Bylaws, shall cause no delegation to be registered from that affiliate party. By seven-eighths vote, the Convention may approve additional delegates and alternates whose names and addresses are submitted to the Credentials Committee during the Convention.

Some effects of this change:

- The LP's national convention delegate representation would mirror the Electoral College, which in turn mirrors America with only slight distortion (due to the "base" delegate number).

- The maximum number of possible delegates would remain stable and known in advance for a decade at a time (congressional districts are re-allocated pursuant to the US Census). If this amendment were in place at this time, the maximum number of delegates to the LP's 2010 convention would be 538.

- The maximum number of delegates would be smaller than at present (1000+). As it happens, the lower number correlates more closely to the number of delegates who actually show up (for example, 600-odd delegates were present on the floor in 2008 for the presidential nomination vote). This would allow convention planners to procure smaller, cheaper meeting facilities instead of renting a bunch of empty extra room for delegates who could theoretically show up, but who in practice never do.

- Three other sections of the bylaws (Article 8, Section 2c; Article 11, Sections 7b and 7c), which refer to sustaining membership statistics, would also need to be modified to get rid of "as determined for (Convention) delegate allocation(s)" language.

Friday, February 19, 2010

And then sometimes Bob Barr does the Libertarian Party proud


No, I am not a Barrista (as anyone who's read this blog regularly knows). But when he speaks truth to power in front of an audience that isn't interested in hearing that truth, how can one help but applaud?

Either we believe, as lawyers, as lawmakers and as citizens, that there is value in laws, that laws that are passed have meaning and have a purpose, or we don't .... I don't think that we should go down the path of allowing our leaders to have their cake and eat it too. There's nothing magical about military tribunals .... We can try them, we should try them. That is precisely what ou[r] law provides for. And the first time we're faced with a situation we say, 'Oh, we want to have them to go to the military, let them torture them for a while.' It's not advanced interrogation techniques. Waterboarding is torture.

Of course he got booed by an allegedly conservative audience at an allegedly conservative event ... for what may have been the most quintessentially conservative policy statement made at that event.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Holidays of the Cult of the Omnipotent State


1) Every day is Mardi Gras.

2) Lent? That's always coming ... tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Test post -- trying out Blogger's blog-by-phone hangamajigger.

Proposed Missouri LP resolution against the national convention poll tax


As a district representative on the Missouri Libertarian Party's executive committee, I've asked the party's chair to add the following resolution to the agenda for the committee's next meeting:

Whereas, the national bylaws of the Libertarian Party set forth the qualifications of delegates to the party's national convention; and

Whereas, those bylaws do not provide for the assessment or collection of any fee from delegates as a condition of floor access or full participation in business sessions; and

Whereas, the delegate apportionment formula specified in the bylaws is primarily based on the number of sustaining, i.e. dues-paying, national party members in each state;

Be it resolved that:

The Missouri Libertarian Party opposes in principle the assessment of "registration fees" or other charges to delegates for floor access and participation in the business sessions; and

The Missouri Libertarian Party calls upon the Libertarian National Committee to adopt a policy of routine budgeting from sustaining membership dues for the provision of meeting facilities for its national conventions;

The Missouri Libertarian Party calls upon the Libertarian National Committee to require that activities and facilities related to the party's national conventions but not part of the bylaws-mandated business sessions be self-supporting on the basis of payments from willing customers or sponsors rather than on the basis of subsidies extracted from delegates.

Similar resolutions are under consideration by several other state parties. If yours isn't one of them, please feel free to season the above to taste and move it at your next ex comm meeting or state convention.

One reason I'm publicly posting this is to go ahead and dispose of some of the arguments I expect to hear versus the resolution. Another is to help other concerned Libertarians in other states do likewise. I'll do so after the jump -- not all at once, but in successive updates as I get around to it.


Thursday, February 11, 2010

St. Louis County Libertarians pass death penalty moratorium resolution


At its monthly meeting last night, the St. Louis County (Missouri) Libertarian Central Committee resolved as follows in support of the Moratorium Now! Campaign:

Resolution for Moratorium on Executions while the Death Penalty is Studied


Whether our group supports capital punishment or not, we recognize that the death penalty system is fallible and that mistakes can happen.

Therefore, we support a moratorium on executions while a study commission examines the death penalty to insure that:

1. Innocent people are not being wrongly convicted and sentenced to death;

2. Race, poverty, gender and victim profiles are not more important to the prosecutor's decision to seek death than the details of the crime;

3. Defendants in Missouri who receive a death sentence are receiving competent legal representation;

4. Death sentences are applied in a fair, consistent and just manner as the execution of a human being is an irreversible punishment;

5. Death sentences are not applied in a racist manner.

Be it resolved that the St. Louis County Libertarian Central Committee calls on the Governor of Misssouri and our Senators and Representatives in the General Assembly to take the necessary steps to impose a moratorium on executions and establish a study commmission to examine the current death penalty system. Based on the findings of the commission we endorse rules, policies and procedures which:

Eliminate the risks that innocent persons may be executed.

Ensure that death penalty cases are administered fairly and impartially in accordance with basic constitutional guarantees, such as the right to due process of law.

Guarantee competent legal representation to every capital defendant.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Focus Group Time!





"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" -- A Threat to National Security


Captain Joan E. Darrah (USN, Ret.) served as a naval intelligence officer for nearly 30 years.

Prior to her retirement, Captain Darrah served as chief of staff and deputy commander at the Office of Naval Intelligence.

Captain Darrah is a lesbian.

She describes the effect of "don't ask, don't tell" in an op-ed piece published yesterday on CNN Opinion.

Captain Darrah's article describes the actual impact of the policy on her -- and it's not pretty -- but it doesn't describe one of the potential impacts of that policy on any airman, soldier, sailor or Marine who's forced by the policy to live a secret life, and that potential impact's corollary impact on national security.

If you're forced to keep a secret from your employer, you're vulnerable to extortion.

And if you're vulnerable to extortion, your employer is vulnerable to you.



Thursday, February 04, 2010

One point five for three


On January 14th, I wrote:

- The earliest the governor of Massachusetts can certify the results of a special election is on the seventh day following the vote, or January 26th (General Laws of Massachusetts, Chapter 54, section 116).

- Of course, he can't certify those results until he receives the local certifications of Massachusetts's cities and towns. Those election authorities have 15 days to certify their own totals and forward them to the Secretary of State (op. cit., Chapter 54, Section 112), who in turn conveys them to him.

- In other words, it could be February 3rd before the certifications even reach Governor Deval Patrick's desk, and it could be later than that before he acts on them.

Patrick certified the election results this morning, and Brown was sworn in today.

The Democrats delayed his seating (in precedent, a clear election result and a letter from the state's election authority is usually enough to get a new Senator seated), just like I said they would. That delay wasn't accompanied by as much tumult on the Hill as I expected. We'll get to why in a moment.

Also as I predicted (implicitly here at KN@PPSTER and explicitly in comments at Patterico's Pontifications), temporary appointee Paul Kirk continued to vote in the Senate until his replacement was sworn in. Once again, this didn't prove as controversial as I expected. Once again, more on that in a moment.

Finally, I predicted:

If the day ever comes when Scott Brown's ass warms a seat in the US Senate chamber, that day will come after the reconciled ObamaCare bill has been passed and sent to the White House for signature.

I got that one flat wrong.

Two out of three ain't bad, but I really consider it 1.5 out of three for the simple reason that I over-estimated the controversy that would arise from the results that I correctly predicted. Although some conservative pundits pounded the "seat him now, don't let Kirk vote" drum, Senate Republicans (i.e. the ones who could have forced the issue into conflict and spotlight) didn't get particularly agitated about the whole thing.

Why? Simple -- because I was wrong on item #3 above.

If it had looked like the Democrats were about to steamroll ObamaCare through in some way, Senate Republicans would probably have forcefully argued for seating Brown and against Kirk continuing to have a vote on the Senate floor.

But ... the Democrats either couldn't get their act together, or else they didn't want to.

There were various talks about how to get the bill passed, but nothing happened that a) looked likely to get it done and b) would have been prevented by getting Brown's ass into that chair.

Having the House pass the Senate version of the bill so that it could go straight to President Obama was discussed. If that had happened, Brown's seating would have been immaterial to it.

Another process discussed ("reconciliation") only requires 51 votes in the Senate. Once again, it didn't matter whether or not Brown took his seat if they went that route.

As long as Brown wasn't going to be Vote #41 to block passage of ObamaCare, and as long as the delay wasn't clearly a matter of Harry Reid lording it over them, Senate Republicans were content to let the matter slide, at least to some reasonable point in time. Yesterday marked that point. It was the date by which the local election authorities in Massachusetts had to certify their end of the returns, to that Patrick could do his bit.

I didn't see that happening. But hey, I've batted lower than .500 before.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Buttrick v. Root


Hat tip to Mike Renzulli (via the LP Radicals list) and Freedom's Phoenix, which just posted video of a speech given by Maricopa County, Arizona Superior Court Judge John Buttrick at the 2009 "Freedom Summit."

What qualifies Buttrick to opine on the future of the Libertarian Party? Well, he's a Libertarian. He's been a party activist for decades. That should be plenty, but there's more -- in November of 2008, he got more votes for retention as a judge in one single Arizona county than the LP's presidential ticket got nationwide.

Buttrick's speech was supposed to be a debate with Wayne Allyn Root -- the Libertarian Party's 2008 vice-presidential candidate, failed CEO, and candidate for chairmanship of the Libertarian National Committee.

Root ducked the event. Smart move. Watch the speech if you want to know why. Buttrick's talk begins about nine minutes in, but the extended intro by Ernie Hancock is worth a listen, too.



Update, 02/04/10: Wow ... I actually stopped listening to this video at the end of Judge Buttrick's formal speech and skipped the Q&A. Bruce Cohen clued me in to the fact that I'm mentioned in the Q&A and that Judge Buttrick wrote in the Boston Tea Party's 2008 presidential ticket -- presidential candidate Charles Jay and Arizona "favorite son" VP nominee Barry Hess (I was the BTP's national VP nominee and appeared on the ballot in Tennessee). Very, very cool -- and I agree with his comments on the BTP in general, by the way.

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