Saturday, July 14, 2018

A Couple of Suggestions for Trump at and after Helsinki

I've already suggested that Trump and Putin pick up where Reagan and Gorbachev left off.

But I think yesterday's stunt by Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein, obviously aimed at discrediting/derailing the summit, is actually an opportunity for Trump to combine good foreign relations with domestic housekeeping.

First, Trump should pardon the indicted Russians, who will never be extradited anyway, as a gesture of international goodwill.

Second, Trump should appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Mueller and Rosenstein for possible violations of the Logan Act:

"Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both."

Indicting those Russians certainly amounted to "intercourse" with officers or agents of a foreign government to the extent that they were informed of the charges, directly or indirectly. And the clear aim was to "influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States," in part by handicapping the chief executive's exercise of his foreign policy brief.

Yes, it's true that in the 220 years since the Logan Act was passed, no one has ever actually gone down for violating it. But perhaps brandishing the weapon would make Mueller and Rosenstein a little less inclined to continue with the amateur frat-boy stuff.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Another Anniversary

July 13, 1793. Any thoughts on this one?

Thursday, July 12, 2018

My Florida Gubernatorial Endorsement

The Libertarian Party of Florida isn't running a candidate for governor of the state in this November's election. I have mixed feelings about that.

On the one hand, I always want to see a Libertarian on the ballot. As Donald Trump would say, sad!

On the other hand, the lack of a Libertarian option on the ballot does leave me unencumbered by party obligations and therefore free to wholeheartedly endorse the Reform Party's candidate, Darcy Richardson. Happy!

No one who knows me will find this endorsement surprising -- after all, when Darcy came within one vote of being the Reform Party's 2016 presidential nominee, I came within one vote of being his running mate. He's been a long-time supporter of my political campaigns and projects, and I've been privileged to work with him on some of his.

Darcy is neither a partisan Libertarian nor an ideological libertarian, but he does love peace, and freedom, and people, and ideas, and politics, and I've seen less libertarian candidates on Libertarian ballot lines (including presidential and vice-presidential lines).

There is no doubt in my mind that Darcy has more knowledge, wisdom, and work ethic in his little finger than all of the Democratic and Republican candidates for governor put together.

And while we might disagree on details, there's also no doubt in my mind that as governor his first and only priority would be helping the people of Florida become the freest and most prosperous people in America.

He would zealously guard our civil liberties as best he understands them, and that understanding usually tracks closely to libertarian ideals.

While his economics are, I dare say, of a "democratic socialist" tendency, in reality that makes him more of a free marketeer than incumbent Rick "Corporate Welfare is my Middle Name" Scott or any of the Republicans or Democrats running to succeed him.

In fact, I think of several issues of civil liberties, foreign policy, and economic importance on which Darcy almost certainly excels all other candidates in this race. To name three:

  • Favoring open relations with Cuba, an obvious and important trading partner only 90 miles off our shore, instead of supporting the damaging US embargo that Obama was moving toward ending after half a century but that Trump has re-committed the US to;
  • Opposing efforts to artificially boost the economy of Israel at the expense of Florida consumers and producers, such as with legislation exempting Israeli companies from US laws against fraudulent origin labeling (supported in Congress by Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis);
  • Opposing the immigration police state, which ensnares the entire state of Florida in the "constitution-free zone" stretching 100 miles from our borders and coastlines, and acting to protect Floridians and our guests from the thuggery of federal immigration forces.
I'm sure Darcy will correct me if I'm wrong on any of those positions.

I hope that Florida Libertarians will join me in voting for Darcy Richardson. He's far and away the best choice for those who love freedom.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Happy Burr-Hamilton Duel Day!

On this day in 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr put Alexander Hamilton, aka "Publius," a principle author and advocate of the American Counter-Revolution, down like a rabid dog.

Too bad he didn't do it in 1786.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Trump Hands Americans Yet Another Tax Hike

Oh, he pretends it isn't a tax increase on us, mind you. It's on those pesky furriners, in this case, them there Chinese:

The Trump administration on Tuesday announced a package of tariffs targeting Chinese exports valued roughly at $200 billion.

A senior administration official called the package about equal to China's total export value with the United States, CNBC reported.


The list of goods targeted by the tariffs has not been made public or approved yet, but the official cited by CNBC said that parts of it target the country's 'Made in China 2025' initiative to boost key industries such as technology.

Who pays tariffs? The buyers of the goods the tariffs are levied on. Also known as "you and me." Chinese manufacturers will presumably be able to sell less stuff to us because it will cost more, but it's American consumers who will pay those higher prices.

I don't like anything governments do, but if I ran China, I'd do two things:

First, announce an end to all tariffs on American imports.

Second, announce a complete embargo on Chinese exports to the US, effective immediately. Those container ships waiting to leave Shanghai packed full of iPhones, Lenovo computers, 99 cent flip-flops, and weird shit ("Free! Just Pay Shipping!") from Drop anchor, boys, you're going nowhere for now.

The latter would hurt, but it would probably only hurt for a couple of weeks before Americans grabbed their last remaining (Chinese-made) tiki torches and cheap (Chinese-made) pitchforks and descended on Washington to put the fear of God into Donald J. "The Tax Man" Trump.

All You Need to Know About the Kavanaugh SCOTUS Nomination ...

... is that it's mostly about the midterm elections. Trump hopes it will get his base riled up, and the Democrats hope the same thing about their base.

That's not a remark on Kavanaugh himself, but rather on the timing of Anthony Kennedy's retirement. If it had happened more than a year before an election, maybe there would have been a slightly more genteel process. Less than six months before an election, it was going to be a mud-wrestling match no matter who he nominated.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Thanks For Asking! -- 07/09/18

I'm starting to feel all podcasty and stuff again. No guarantees, but something tells me there's an episode coming.

Refresher course:

  • Ask me anything -- yes, anything -- in the comment thread below this post (or, if you want to support the show, from the Earn Dot Com link in the sidebar at the outrageous cost of a buck);
  • I'll answer in comments, on the podcast, or both (or by email via Earn Dot Com if you want the answer to be private, which seems to me to kind of defeat the purpose).
Ready, set, ask.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

One Thing I'd Like to See on the Libertarian Party's Next Presidential Candidate ...

... if that candidate is male, anyway, is a beard.

From 1860 to 1913, only two presidents (Andrew Johnson and William McKinley) were clean-shaven. Then, as quickly as it had come about, the "presidents must have beards, or at least mustaches" standard went away. The last major party presidential candidate to wear a beard was Charles Evans Hughes in 1916. A mustache, Thomas E. Dewey in 1948.

But beards and mustaches seem to be back in a pretty big way the last few years.

It's not a big deal, mind you, but if I was looking at two candidates who were equal in all other respects, I'd pick the guy with the beard over the guy without one (although, frankly, I'd probably pick a woman with the same qualifications over either of them).

Friday, July 06, 2018

Flattered to be Asked, But ...

At this year's Libertarian National Convention, several friends asked if I was considering running for election to the Libertarian National Committee. I did consider running for my region's alternate slot, but two things quickly put me off that:

  1. Steven Nekhaila, the alternate last term, was running (unopposed, I believe) for the main position. Steven is from Florida, and I think it's best to have the alternate be from a different state than the main rep.
  2. I learned that three other candidates (one from Tennessee, one from Georgia, and one from Florida) were running for alternate. All women, and I also think that ceteris paribus, diversity is a plus. So I didn't throw my hat in. Victoria Paige-Lee of Tennessee won.
So, I have had at least three people (two at the convention, one since) ask if I might run for LNC in 2020.

The answer is "probably not." My reasons:

  1. It is the affirmative duty of the LNC to support the presidential/vice-presidential campaign so long as that campaign is run in conformity with the platform/principles of the party. 2016 demonstrated that I don't always agree with the LNC on whether or not that's the case. I'd rather not be on the LNC at a time when there's an active campaign I have to support but potentially might not be able to support. So when and if I run, it will likely be in an off-year.
  2. Serving on the LNC is expensive. Several physical meetings a year around the country, etc. Not saying I'll never do it, but if I do it will have to be after a large increase in my personal income, or after having recruited donor pledges to cover the expense. And I have better things to ask people for money for between now and 2020 than putting me on the LNC.
I am, however, already thinking of making another run for platform committee. I enjoyed that work, and think that I made a positive contribution this time. We'll see.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Security Theater is All About Getting You to Get it Backward

There are any number of versions of the story that contain this flaw, but I'll go with an opinion piece incorporating it -- Jim Geraghty at National Review.

Title: "How an Anti-ICE Activist Shut Down Liberty Island"

Sub-Title: "Notice Which Side of the Immigration Debate Is Forcing the Evacuation of Liberty Island"

Some text, emphasis mine: "What better way to ensure that a lot of people have their Independence Day ruined than to perform a dangerous political stunt that requires the evacuation of Liberty Island?"

None of the above claims are true.

It wasn't an anti-ICE activist who shut down Liberty Island. It was the US Parks Police.

They weren't "forced" or "required" to evacuate the whole place just because one activist climbed part of the Statue of Liberty, any more than Therese Patricia Okoumou was "forced" or "required" to do the climbing.

Okoumou and the police both did the things they did because they decided to do the things they did, and they both decided to do those things for the same reason: To attract attention to their respective causes.

Okoumou's goal was to call attention to the plight of abducted and separated immigrant families.

The goal of the police was to convince us that everything, everywhere, all the time, constitutes a threat to our safety that only they can be trusted to deal with at the expense our time, money and obedience.

Guerilla street theater on one hand, establishment security theater on the other.

The crowds (the "public") should have told those police offers barring doors and ordering evacuation to either get out of the way of their enjoyment of "public" property, or get trampled.

My Occasional Plea to the LNC on National Convention Scheduling/Location, Nth Iteration

I love Libertarian National Conventions. There's nothing better than spending several days in the company of a thousand or more Libertarians.  Thanks to this year's Convention Organization Committee for making it a great one. That said:

  • We always schedule our conventions for holiday weekends (Memorial Day or 4th of July). We don't need to do so (people who want to come will find the time), and doing so disadvantages our CANDIDATES, for whom those weekends are campaign event musts. Someone running for Congress or whatever needs to be glad-handing at a community festival over Memorial Day and/or visiting voters at their local parades and fireworks festivals on Independence Day.
  • We should go back to having conventions in odd years, so that our presidential slate is loaded for bear and hunting votes while the Big Two are still deciding who their nominees are going to be. And preferably in Iowa or New Hampshire so that we're nominating our candidates under an already existing political media spotlight on the Big Two's early caucus/primary stomping grounds.
  • Those odd-year conventions should happen some time after Labor Day, perhaps as late as November. From a financial standpoint, I suspect we can get better deals on convention venues when we aren't competing for space and accommodations with other organizations that hold their events on holiday weekends. More venues will be hungrier for our business at non-holiday times.
The 2020 convention is already set (Memorial Day weekend in Austin, Texas).

I'd love to see the 2024 presidential nominating convention take place in November of 2023 in Manchester New Hampshire, or in Des Moines or the Quad Cities on the Iowa/Illinois border.

Post-Convention Note: Concerning Joshua Smith

Joshua Smith was not my first choice to chair the Libertarian National Committee. Not because of the rumors swirling around him (e.g. alt-right entryist or even Nazi), but because I wasn't on board with his "four-part plan" and did question whether or not he was well qualified to be CEO of an organization with a seven-figure budget.

Smith's supporters were his worst enemies. I talked with him via Facebook several times during the campaign and was privileged to meet him and talk with him several more times in New Orleans. He strikes me as sincere, dedicated, and libertarian.

He lost the race for chair, but was elected at-large to the LNC -- and yes, I voted for him.

Like some say, elections have consequences. He's on the LNC. I hope that those who opposed Josh for chair, or for LNC, will spend the next two years watching what he does there instead of holding on to grudges from the previous fight. If he fails, or if he turns out to not be what he strikes me as, so be it. But let him take his best shot at this instead of pouting and writing a zero on his score card beforehand.

That is all.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

A Strategic Note for the Libertarian Party

The 2018 platform of the Libertarian Party now states, vis a vis "Free Trade and Migration":

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders.

It used to say some other stuff. That other stuff is gone now and I'll try to remember to never mention it again.

The party now has a powerful tool to do the thing a political party needs to do, which is:

Find an unrepresented constituency whose goals agree with your principles and go after that constituency instead of trying to poach people who don't agree with you from your competitors by compromising your principles.

America has two "major parties" which oppose immigration freedom. Its third largest party now gives full-throated support to immigration freedom.

The Republicans and Democrats are Coke and Pepsi.

For a decade or more, the Libertarian Party has contented itself with being a slightly different variety of cola.

Now we're Dr. Pepper. Or maybe even a nice craft IPA. Or whatever. We are finally positioned to go after the people who don't already have a party offering them what they want on this issue. Let's do that, hard.

Home Sweet Home

I got back home from New Orleans about 4am and went to bed immediately. Now that I am back in the land of reasonably reliable Internet access, I will probably post a number of separate thoughts on how the 2018 Libertarian National Convention went. Quick ones, in no particular order:

  • I ran for Judicial Committee, coming in 8th of 21 candidates for seven seats. THANK YOU to those who voted for me, and those who didn't. I'm gratified to have enjoyed the trust and confidence of the former, and thankful that the latter saved me from a situation in which I would have had to STFU at times (had I been elected, I wouldn't have wanted to publicly comment on internal party controversies that might end up before the Committee.
  • Going into this convention, I had a bad feeling. I didn't publicly air that feeling, but everything had a "Portland II" air about it for me. There were numerous opportunities for the party to damage itself with poor decisions and I had a gut instinct that it would take full advantage of all those opportunities. Instead, it seems (I have to go over minutes, etc. to check later) to have avoided all of them.
  • Three caucuses, two of which I am a member, made their mark in a big way this time. The Audacious Caucus and the Povertarians (I'm with both) at least partially broke the stranglehold of Respectability Politics on the party's internal work (including but not limited to advancing James Weeks to a second ballot for vice chair), and I think will have an impact externally vis a vis the 2020 presidential nomination. The Libertarian Socialist Caucus (I am not a member) managed to put an avowed communist on the debate stage as a candidate for chair. If that sounds like a bad thing to you, think again. I'll be talking more extensively about that as time goes on.
  • It's always great to see old friends, and to make new ones, and even to be friendly with old opponents.
As usual with national conventions, I over-estimated both the technological environment and my available time when it came to doing blog and/or podcast coverage FROM the convention.

The convention wifi was horrible -- NOT the fault of LPHQ staff, btw, Ken Moellman is both tireless and competent, but he can't make a giant hotel get its own shit together; if you're going to host events with thousands of participants for the love of God build a decent network! -- so podcasting was out of the question unless I bought and brought my own hot spot, which would have been another $100-$200 including the bandwidth to do that. By the time I got back to MY hotel and MY room connection each night, I was worn out and so I just did quick updates.

I don't party like I used to -- as late as 2010 it wasn't unusual for me to be hobnobbing straight through from the end of one business session to the beginning of the next. I must be getting old. Tamara and I spent an hour or two each night walking around and finding dinner (walked down Bourbon Street, etc.), but frankly I was just glad to get something like a full night's sleep each night.

More later. Time to get back to the "real" work that has gone waiting while I was out "partying."

Monday, July 02, 2018

Update from New Orleans

So, here's what's going on, and it's not an unusual story.

The wifi at the hotel is just awful, and the only thing keeping my voice from coming apart is the occasional application of 1) bourbon or 2) moonshine being handed out by the Mississippi delegation (Danny Bedwell for US Senate!). Between those two things, podcasting just isn't in the cards.

I've tried to blog a few high points here and comment occasionally over at Independent Political Report, but realistically between the Internet and actually doing convention stuff, I am getting back to my hotel room worn out and posting these short updates.

I wasn't present for ALL of the bylaws work, but my impression is that both that and the platform work have generally been positive. High points on platform were 1) adoption of the immigration proposal that I've been belaboring for a year or so now and 2) adoption of the new plank on sex work.

That last one seems to track a general party trend that I will just describe using one of the slogans I'm seeing and hearing:


There's a shift in the party that this convention is bringing to light. It is, in my opion:

1) A distinctly leftward shift; AND

2) A distinctly populist (real, not peckerwood populism) shift; AND

3) A shift toward understanding that we will never, ever, ever displace the two old parties by trying to figure out how to look exactly like the two old parties.

Those are all good things. I'll plan on writing about them more ... after I get home and have two monitors, a full-sized keyboard, and the kind of time I don't have while being a Libertarian conventioneer all day long.

Food for Thought

This year, the Libertarian Socialist Caucus put up a candidate for the chairmanship of the Libertarian National Committee -- and managed to collect enough delegate tokens to put that candidate on stage to debate the other candidates.

Anyone still want to argue that libertarians are just conservatives who want to smoke dope?

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Thanks to Many People

Starting with the members of the Libertarian Party's platform committee who passed a proposal to delete the final sentence of immigration plank, as follows:

We support the removal of governmental impediments to free trade. Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. Economic freedom demands the unrestricted movement of human as well as financial capital across national borders. However, we support control over the entry into our country of foreign nationals who pose a credible threat to security, health or property.

And then to Starchild, who moved successfully on the convention floor to consider this proposal first instead of last (as it would have been per the committee's ordering of proposals in its report on the basis of votes cast for it).

And to those who spoke in favor of it, including but not limited to Libertarian National Committee chair Nick Sawark, who turned the gavel over to the vice chair so that he could debate as a regular delegate.

An of course, to the delegates who voted for the change.

When I ran for platform committee, my only campaign promise on the issues (as opposed to promising to attend all meetings and such) was to work for this change. Mission accomplished, but not by me -- by all of you.

Here's What Happens When Bylaws Provisions Don't Get Full Debate

The national convention just raised the dues of any sustaining member who renews his or her membership early.

It didn't MEAN to do that, but it did it, because instead of debating the proposal in question, the vast majority voted to close debate early on a "move the previous question" call, and then voted yes on something they hadn't bothered to understand the effect of.

Bylaws Debate May Seem Boring and Tedious ...

... and, in fact, it is.

But it's also necessary. If you are interested in how the Libertarian Party works, follow the bylaws process.

You can do that at Independent Political Report, where there's both a live stream of, and a thread for discussing, the convention.

Yes, I am in New Orleans

And yes, I intend to blog/podcast from the 2018 Libertarian National Convention.

BUT! The hotel wifi situation is beyond FUBAR and I am posting this from my phone. Hopefully I can get some Internet access figured out later this morning. If not I will try to update from my own hotel in the late evening.

Three Column Modification courtesy of The Blogger Guide
Some graphics and styles ported from a previous theme by Jenny Giannopoulou