Thursday, May 31, 2007

Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day, 05/31/07

You knew it wouldn't take long for Little Miss Malice to start popping out of the envelope, didn't you? And the winner is ...

Oh, but have no fear. The background checks for the massive illegal alien shamnesty will be so much better at detecting fraud and weeding out the bad guys. Really, just trust Bush/McCain/Kennedy/Chertoff/Graham. Because, you know, they know so much more about "reality" than we do.

Well, Michelle, we've gone into your dissociative disorders before, haven't we?

And what, pray tell, does Malkin have her panties in a wad about this time? This (and, for good measure, let's include this version ... you'll see why in a moment):

A Milwaukee police officer was arrested Wednesday by federal immigration agents on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant who assumed the identity of his dead cousin a decade ago, officials said.

Thing is, there's no evidence in either of the articles that Morales is a "bad guy."

On the contrary -- although the Journal Sentinel article refers to the program that Morales entered the police force through as having produced some bad eggs, it doesn't identify Morales as one of them. Neither does the TV channel's article.

The Journal Sentinel seems to keep pretty close tabs on the misdeeds of various Milwaukee cops. Presumably if Morales had been accused of taking bribes or drug trafficking, raping the citizens he was sworn to serve and protect, or maybe knocking out a driver's window with a nightstick, then chasing him down and shooting him to death, the article would probably have mentioned it.

But the article didn't mention anything like that. Nor, for that matter, had Morales seemingly attracted the Journal Sentinel's attention before at all (at least Google shows nada).

That's not absolute proof that Morales is a "good cop," of course, but Little Shelly has always tended to throw down her mattress in the "give those fine officers the benefit of the doubt" camp ... until now, when she learns of one whose papers might not be in order.

A few questions and answers for our beloved little wet firecracker:

Q: How many thousands (tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands?) of taxpayer dollars were spent building this case against one of Milwaukee's finest?

A: Too friggin' many.

Q: How many ICE man hours were spent on Jose Morales that could have been spent on someone else -- maybe someone with an Arab name, a questionable visa status and a possible al Qaeda connection?

A: See above.

Q: How much does Morales's apprehension, suspension, and possible deportation (which, btw, lowers the head count of trained Milwaukee police officers, however temporarily, by one) enhance "homeland security?"

A: Not one iota.

Got an Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day tip? Hit me!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day, 05/30/07

Today's winner (for a statement from yesterday) is Cao's Blog, with this little ditty:

The military's purpose is to defend our nation from enemies both foreign and domestic. We should not allow the cultural Marxist forces to further corrupt it in an attempt to carry out their counter-culture revolution.

I agree with Cao that the Clinton administration's tinkering with the "combat exclusion rule" was poorly done and that it "helped lower the standards on physical tests in order to accommodate women." But that's beside the point, because Cao & Co. aren't advocating higher general standards and objective individual assessments versus those standards. They're just demanding a return to the less "diverse" form of that old "cultural Marxism" that dominated the US military prior to the Clinton gloss: Complete exclusion of the "class enemy" (those possessed of vaginas) from combat jobs.

[S]tudies show that the average woman is a fraction of the size of a man, and her total body strength is 60% or so of that of a man ...

Yeah ... so? Using these studies as the basis for assignment of Military Occupational Specialties is pure collectivist bullshit. The woman seeking assignment to, say, Marine Corps MOS 0311 (basic infantry"man") isn't "the average woman." She's a real person with an actual, measurable size and an actual, measurable physical strength.

So: Set a standard based on the performance requirements of the MOS -- or make the most stringent MOS standard the standard for military service, period -- and measure the applicant against it already. If she measures up, she's in -- and if he doesn't, he's out. Simple, fair and based on individual ability rather than on political correctness of the left- or right-wing variety.

Speaking of which, let's make the other uniform standards -- hair length, work dress, whether or not you can pierce your ears, etc. -- um, uniform, too. If there's a reason for them, everyone should adhere to them. If there's not a reason for them, then nobody should be required to.

Got an Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day tip? Getcher fame and fortune here.

It's beginning to look a lot like a daily feature

"Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day," that is. No promises -- I've been known to run hot and cold on the whole daily blogging bit -- but it seems like a reasonably good idea. After all, there's no dearth of ridiculous material in the general blogosphere, and if I get desperate for stupid statements to feature I can be confident that Little Miss Malice has my back at all times.

So, some guidelines. Yes, tips are wanted and will be credited. But please, read the guidelines before firing'em off.

Guideline the First -- This is Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day, not Incredibly Stupid Statement From Six Weeks Ago. I'm flexible, but only so much. I don't have a problem going back up to 24 hours or so. Don't send me stuff from 2003, mkay?

Guideline the Second -- Nobody's safe. I expect this feature to "lean right" in terms of targeting, at least at first -- let's face it, the left has just plain been more sensible (or at least less mind-blowingly irrational) than the right over the last few years -- but when lefties (or libertarians!) go all bizarro, they're fair game too. Blogs I like won't be spared, either. Or non-blogosphere sources, although blog statements will be the presumptive sources of choice.

Guideline the Third -- Don't just send the statement, send the link. Duh.

Guideline the Fourth -- Specify the form of your hat tip -- i.e. "Joe Sixpack," "Joe's Blog," "anonymous," whatever -- and whether or not you'd like a link (and if so where to).

Guideline the Fifth -- Send it here.

That's the Half-Moses with a twist on this one, folks. Let's have fun and see what happens.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day, 05/29/07

Wow. Just ... wow. Over at The Wide Awakes:

Voting is the ultimate exercise of personal freedom.

WTF? When you vote, it's usually over one of three things:

- Who is going to govern you (and everyone else). Now, perhaps you think that you (and/or others) need to be governed ... but even stipulating, for the sake of argument, to that proposition, necessity doesn't magically turn an exercise in submission into an exercise of personal freedom.

- What rules you (and everyone else) are going to be bound by. Once again, it's possible that you think there should be limits to freedom, and that the best way to decide what those limits are is a referendum ... but once again, we're talking about an exercise in reciprocal restraint, not an exercise of personal freedom.

- Who's going to pay for all this governing nonsense and how (i.e. taxes, bond issues and such). I suppose that voting "yes" on a measure to repeal a tax or "no" on a new tax or a tax increase might resemble an exercise in personal freedom (setting aside the question of whether or not the voting implies consent to the tax if the election doesn't go your way, and what that says about your mindset) ... but it really seems a lot more like a mass dine-and-dash episode in which everyone tries to stick everyone else with the check.

"Ultimate exercise in personal freedom?"

Making love with someone similarly inclined would certainly make my short list.

Taking my money to any store I choose and buying whatever I want there would too.

Voting? Um, no. Hell no, not even if I get to dip my finger in purple ink and ululate for the camera afterward.


It is difficult to know what [a hypothetical President] Gore would have done after 9/11 but I think it more than possible that he would have lobbed a few cruise missiles at Afghanistan trying to take out Bin Laden and gone the United Nations route.; sanctions, resolutions, and words of solidarity couched in the usual apologetic tones of "So sorry we can't do anymore." Regime change would have been off the table. And Bin Laden would not only have been free and on the loose, but hugely emboldened and the biggest hero in the Arab world since Saladin.

In other words, pretty much what we have now, but cheaper by 3,000-odd American lives, uncounted Iraqi lives and hundreds of billions of US taxpayer dollars. Perish the thought.

The post is generally interesting and sometimes thought-provoking, though, and it's about Bryan Caplan's new book, The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (let's see if that automated Amazon thingie does its duty here -- if not I'll come back and manually link). Caplan is a libertarian ass-kicker of the first water ... see his home page for all kinds of good stuff, and don't miss the Libertarian Purity Test (153 ... I am not worthy).

Monday, May 28, 2007

Incredibly Stupid Statement of the Day, 05/28/07

And the winner of our first presentation of this new award is ... Dr. Clifford Thies, with this howler from a piece comparing Rudy Giuliani to George S. Patton over at Libertarian [sic] Republican.

I get the idea that Rudy sees the War in Iraq as part of the War on Terror, the way the Korean War or the Vietnam War were parts of the Cold War. If this is so, we will win because freedom is productive, and we can sustain an overwhelming military force out of a few percent of our GDP, whereas they're incapable of sustainsing [sic] any kind of economy at all.

Apparently Dr. Thies was absent from history class on the day that it was explained that the US lost Vietnam, that the war in Korea has remained in "temporary ceasefire" and stalemate for more than 50 years now, that China and a number of other countries remain in communist slavery, and that the USSR collapsed in spite of, not because of, US maintenance of "an overwhelming military force" (and exactly in the way and for the reasons predicted by libertarians from the 1950s on, including but not limited to Murray N. Rothbard and L. Neil Smith).

Also of interest -- but not part of the Stupid Statement award, since it came from Giuliani's mouth and not Dr. Thies's pen, since it's just a lie and not a stupid statement, and since Giuliani's propaganda machine is smooth enough that it's not surprising that Dr. Thies wouldn't know why Giuliani doesn't spend much time in his old city any more:

[Giuliani] offered his condolecenses [sic] for the families of the students and alums of the Citadel who have fallen in the War on Terror, and said he knows their hurt having lost so many policemen and firemen on 9-11.

He didn't "lose" those policemen and firemen -- he sacrificed them to his own incompetence and corruption. Giuliani's not fit to kiss the shoes of those who have lost their loved ones to the idiotic policies of people like himself, let alone compare himself to them.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Rudy Giuliani: Unfit For Command

This piece was originally published at Free Market News Network. This version has a slightly different title and includes some minor edits.

Rudy Giuliani's pointed exchange with US Representative Ron Paul at the May 15th Republican presidential debate has been quite the hot topic, and while Giuliani scored some cheap points that night, over time both public and punditry seem to be rightly concluding that Giuliani came out of the exchange looking worse than when he went in.

While it's encouraging that that exchange has contributed to a better understanding (on the part of everyone except, apparently, Giuliani himself) of the implications of US foreign policy, the incident puts the spotlight on a practical, rather than ideological, matter: Giuliani's essential incompetence and obvious unfitness to serve as Commander in Chief of the armed forces of the United States.

The Paul-Giuliani brouhaha clued us in to Giuliani's fundamental unwisdom on issues of foreign policy, military policy, war and terrorism. As "America's Mayor," he's been allowed -- nay, encouraged -- to conceal his poor mastery of those issues for the last six years under a halo of faux moral clarity. Rudy's halo is now showing its tarnish; while the moral high ground is a great place to pitch one's tent, at some point we also expect those who want to run things to demonstrate that they understand what the hell is going on and why.

The President of the United States is both Commander in Chief of the armed forces and the interface between those armed forces and a Congress awaiting information. The President must understand the threats America faces in order to evaluate the readiness of the armed forces to respond to those threats; to pass that information to Congress with applicable budget recommendations; and to sign or veto the appropriations and other legislation applicable to military readiness which Congress places on his desk. And, finally, as Commander in Chief, he must competently dispose the troops at his command to meet those threats. Having proven his unwillingness or inability to grasp the former, Giuliani has likewise proven his incompetence to act on any of the latter.

While the Paul-Giuliani exchange was informative in this respect, it was by no means the first clue. Giuliani's record of executive incompetence in comparable positions goes back at least 14 years, to his campaign and first days as mayor of New York City.

Giuliani's election as mayor -- like his exit from that office -- took place in the shadow of a terror attack on the World Trade Center. Coming into office less than a year after the 1993 WTC bombing, one of Giuliani's obvious priorities was (or at least should have been) to turn the "lessons learned" from that attack into concrete preparedness measures against future such attacks.

How did Giuliani handle his duties?

He located the city's "crisis management center" in the World Trade Center complex ... the site of the first attack and the likely target of future attacks ... Ground Zero. On 9/11, that command post (in WTC 7) had to be abandoned due to fire. Yes, New York City survived the collapse of its government's primary command and control center ... but how many New Yorkers didn't? How many died because Giuliani's crisis managers were busy relocating during a crisis which deserved and demanded their full attention?

It's unclear whether Giuliani simply failed to follow through on another recommendation, or declined to do so due to patronage contract concerns, or allowed himself to be ignored by his underlings in New York's "first responder" services ... an equivalent relationship, for practical purposes, to the relationship between the Commander in Chief and the armed forces. In any case, the recommendation -- that police, fire and other "first responder" units be equipped with compatible radios and use a common communications channel when responding to large-scale emergencies -- was not implemented. As a direct result of this failure, more than 100 firefighters in the north tower of the World Trade Center did not ... could not ... receive the police department's warning to evacuate that tower before it collapsed.

Adaptive preparedness is obviously not one of Giuliani's strengths, even when things don't have to be figured out from scratch. As mayor of New York, he didn't just fail to anticipate the unknowable -- he failed to respond appropriately to the known, and the cost of that failure was an unknown number of human lives -- the lives of men and women under his command, and the lives of the civilians whom those men and women were dedicated to serving and protecting.

Is there any reason -- apart from his claims of moral superiority to the enemy of the moment -- to believe that Rudy Giuliani would prove more competent as Commander in Chief of the US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, US Marine Corps and US Coast Guard than he was as the executive who disposed of the efforts of the NYPD and FDNY?

Another important factor in determining whether or not a candidate is qualified to fulfill the duties of Commander in Chief goes to character rather than to competence. We expect that the Commander in Chief will forge a strong bond of trust and loyalty with the troops he ultimately commands. Even if some of the troops don't find wisdom in the decision to go to war (a decision which, of course, is supposed to be made by Congress), it's important for those troops to believe that the President will keep good faith with them.

Example: For more than 30 years, the US has resolutely sought the return of US military personnel lost in Vietnam. Investigations and expeditions have been mounted to determine whether or not POWs remain alive and in captivity, and to recover the remains of the dead. The American promise to its troops is that "none shall be left behind," and the President of the United States is expected to be the personification of that promise. The troops are assured that if they are wounded in battle, a grateful nation will provide them with the best care available and honor them rather than turn its face from them upon their return. Once again, the President is the face of that promise.

Compare and contrast those promises with Rudy Giuliani's comportment as mayor of New York City after 9/11.

According to Wikipedia, citing the New York Daily News, "[b]y April of 2007 it was reported that Giuliani had been forced to limit his appearances in New York City due to the increasing protests by family members of 9/11 victims, particularly police, fire and other emergency workers."

Why? Some of the reasons are listed above: Giuliani's "troops" learned on 9/11 that their leader had failed them. The aftermath was no prettier.

Once the recovery of valuable property from Ground Zero was complete, Giuliani issued orders to put a rush on remaining cleanup operations, leaving the bodies of many -- including New York City emergency workers -- unrecovered.

While America's soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines accept that their bodies may never be found if they are killed in the line of duty, they believe ... and they need to believe ... that no effort will be spared when it comes to finding them, dead or alive. They assure their families ... and they need to be able to do so ... that whether they return with their shields or on those shields, they will return and that their commanders will see to that.

Rudy Giuliani robbed his "troops" of that kind of assurance. He robbed the families of the fallen of a closure which it was his duty, as the executive, to guarantee. He broke that faith as mayor. Would he keep it as Commander in Chief?

Giuliani's post-9/11 haste also precluded enforcing, authorizing and funding appropriate health and safety measures in the toxin-laced atmosphere of the atmosphere around Ground Zero. Declaring the air in the area "safe" in blatant contradiction to the known facts, he placed the health and lives of his troops (the Ground Zero cleanup crews) at unnecessary risk ... and left his successors to deal with the (literal and figurative) fallout.

In the aftermath of 9/11, Giuliani showed one face -- the face of the superior moralizer who commands support -- to the American public. He showed quite another -- the face of the corrupt power-seeker with no compunctions against sacrificing the lives, welfare and honor of his "troops" to his personal political interests -- to those whom he presumed to "lead."

It is seldom possible to establish a prospective Commander in Chief's good character and high level of competence beyond reasonable doubt; but to accept the application of a candidate whose record reflects equal measures of bad faith and gross incompetence, would be sheer insanity. Rudy Giuliani is unfit for command.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Principles, purposes and parties

I hadn't intended to reply to Dr. Carl Milsted's latest piece, "Party of Principle -- the Inherent Contradiction." We've been around similar trees several times.

But, what the hell. Third Party Watch excerpted Dr. Milsted's article, and, as I am wont to do I got mouthy in the comments, and ended up writing what looks to me like a fairly well-rounded article. I also think that a couple of older pieces (preceding, I think, Dr. Milsted's public debut as a "reformer") might be of interest on the topic. My own thinking has evolved some since writing them, but they are here and here if you're interested. And now, that extended comment (with one edit, noted by a strikeout and replacement -- I mixed up two related words myself!):

Here's the thing: Dr. Milsted has it wrong from the second paragraph, as soon as he posits winning elections as a "purpose" of the LP.

"Winning elections" is not a purpose. It's a goal, the achievement of which is supposed to advance the purpose.

The purpose of the Libertarian Party is "to implement and give voice to the principles embodied in the Statement of Principles."

Dr. Milsted may not think that is the appropriate purpose of a political party. For that matter, I may not think so, either. Nonetheless, that is the purpose of the Libertarian Party. If you don’t believe me, read the bylaws for yourself.

The purpose mentioned above is followed by the word "by," and that is followed by a list of various activities which the party is to engage in to achieve its purpose.

Listed goal #1: "[F]unctioning as a libertarian political entity separate and distinct from all other political parties or movements ..." This goal has arguably been achieved in spades, and it has contributed to the purpose (giving voice to, etc.).

Listed goal #2: "[M]oving public policy in a libertarian direction by building a political party that elects Libertarians to public office ..." The LP has made some progress on this goal -- not nearly enough, but some.

Listed goal #3: "[C]hartering affiliate parties throughout the United States and promoting their growth and activities ..." The Libertarian Party has, or at least had (I've heard that some have become defunct, but don't know it for a fact) affiliate parties in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Most of us would freely admit that the "supporting their growth and activities" part of the goal has been achieved unevenly over the years.

Listed goal #4: "[N]ominating candidates for President and Vice-President of the United States, and supporting Party and affiliate party candidates for political office ..." This would presumably really be a subsidiary goal of #2. The LP has engaged in various support activities for its candidates, from "candidate training" seminars to ballot access assistance, over the years. Whether the goal has been routinely satisfactorily achieved is a matter of opinion.

List goal #5: "[E]ntering into public information activities." Once again, how well this goal has been achieved is a matter of opinion, and that opinion has varied over time and between individuals.

BUT ... let's get back to listed goal #2.

The only reason to have that goal is to use it to fulfill the PURPOSE of the party.

Dr. Milsted frequently attempts to smuggle in the subsidiary goal as the purpose, because if he can do so, he doesn't have to discuss the purpose ... something he doesn't want to do, since the purpose is at odds with many of his stated goals.

The purpose of the party is to "implement and give voice to the principles" of the following:

We, the members of the Libertarian Party, challenge the cult of the omnipotent state and defend the rights of the individual.

We hold that all individuals have the right to exercise sole dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal right of others to live in whatever manner they choose.

Governments throughout history have regularly operated on the opposite principle, that the State has the right to dispose of the lives of individuals and the fruits of their labor. Even within the United States, all political parties other than our own grant to government the right to regulate the lives of individuals and seize the fruits of their labor without their consent.

We, on the contrary, deny the right of any government to do these things, and hold that where governments exist, they must not violate the rights of any individual: namely, (1) the right to life -- accordingly we support the prohibition of the initiation of physical force against others; (2) the right to liberty of speech and action -- accordingly we oppose all attempts by government to abridge the freedom of speech and press, as well as government censorship in any form; and (3) the right to property -- accordingly we oppose all government interference with private property, such as confiscation, nationalization, and eminent domain, and support the prohibition of robbery, trespass, fraud, and misrepresentation.

Since governments, when instituted, must not violate individual rights, we oppose all interference by government in the areas of voluntary and contractual relations among individuals. People should not be forced to sacrifice their lives and property for the benefit of others. They should be left free by government to deal with one another as free traders; and the resultant economic system, the only one compatible with the protection of individual rights, is the free market.

If you read the above to prohibit (for example) coercive taxation, you're reading it right. Dr. Milsted doesn't have to like that, but that's the way it is.

"Winning elections" is a laudable goal -- but unless winning elections "implements and gives voice to" the above, it does not support the purpose of the Libertarian Party.

Dr. Milsted wants the party to have a different purpose than it does, among other reasons because he disagrees with many of the implications of its current purpose ...

... but his way of advocating that is dishonest: Instead of hitting the issue head on, he chooses to pretend that the party already has a different purpose than it does, and hope that nobody calls him on it until can present the transformation of the party as a fait accompli and let the broken rules fall under their own weight.

Oddly enough, I agree with Dr. Milsted on a number of things.

For one thing, I believe that the Libertarian Party should rethink its purpose early and often, whether it chooses to change that purpose or not after doing so.

For another, I believe that the Libertarian Party should seriously consider whether or not the various subsidiary goals listed in its bylaws are compatible with and/or advance the purpose. To take it a step further, I believe that the LP is in a three-way, not two-way (as per Milsted) bind. It's trying to use "educational" tactics and a reformist strategy to support a revolutionary purpose.

Dr. Milsted would ultimately like to see the purpose of the party changed, and its tactics and strategy brought into supportive line with that purpose. He shouldn’t be ashamed to say so.

On one point, he is right: We are never going to achieve the goal purpose in question by "winning elections," nor will we "win elections" routinely and ubiquitously if we approach elections as "the" way of achieving the stated purpose. Translation: In the current system, American majorities aren't going to vote for the agenda outlined in the Statement of Principles, nor for a platform which is correctly derived from that Statement of Principles, nor for candidates who unabashedly advocate said Statement and said platform.

The LP needs to change its purpose, or change its tactics and strategies for achieving that purpose, or change the system. Maybe some combination of the three. Dr. Milsted (surreptitiously) advocates changing the purpose. I'm torn between changing the tactics and strategies or changing the system. The difference between Dr. Milsted and I is that I don't try to pretend that the purpose is something other than what it is. That pretense has been going around for some time, and like all pretenses, it serves only to confuse the issues.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

If you can't beat'em, shut'em the hell up

No, I still don't support Ron Paul's campaign for the Republican Party's presidential nomination -- I've never voted for a Republican for president and don't plan to start now; I'll stick with my own party and my own candidate, thank you very much -- but ...

He done good.

Real good.

So good, in fact, that the Osama-Enablertarian wing of the Republican Party is desperate to get him off the stage for future debates.

Sean Hannity smirked his way through the whole "text message us your vote" commercials during the thing, but pretty much blew his stack in the post-debate show when he had to tell Ted Danson Norm MacDonald whatever that blow-dried idiot from Massachusetts's name is that the Rudy McRomneys were getting their asses kicked by the Texas Tornado. You suck, Hannity.

But, you know, who can blame the Bushevik America-haters for wanting Paul gone? Sure, the hand-picked Faux "News" audience of Republican Surrealist groupies erupted in bellicose applause at Rudy Giuliani's admission that he's clueless about the causes of 9/11 and prefers to remain so, and keep everyone else equally ignorant, and thereby keep the 9/11-induced gravy train running for his "security consulting" business and his presidential aspirations ...

... but the rest of America, including the 70%+ of us who live in the real world, was watching too. And we just can't have that, see? When the Republican Surrealist line conflicts with reality, the penalty for mentioning it is a pink slip if you're lucky (or a ball gag and an economy class ticket to Gitmo if you're not and if they think they can get away with it).

The GOP is circling the drain, for the same reason the Whigs went down it. For the Whigs, the problematic, divisive issue was slavery. For the Republicans, it's foreign policy.

The Whigs had a flat wrong platform on slavery; the GOP circa 2007 has a flat wrong platform on foreign policy.

The Whigs were unwilling to correct themselves on slavery and unable to keep their dissenters loyal to the party line; the GOP circa 2007 is unwilling to correct itself on foreign policy and unable to keep its dissenters loyal to the party line.

Abraham Lincoln ended up leaving the Whigs and helping form the Republican Party after:

- Giving a stirring proto-Ron-Paul oration in Congress on the Mexican War. Excerpt courtesy of Wikipedia: "God of Heaven has forgotten to defend the weak and innocent, and permitted the strong band of murderers and demons from hell to kill men, women, and children, and lay waste and pillage the land of the just."

- Finding himself on the receiving end, in his congressional district, of proto-Rudy-Giuliani comebacks (op. cit.): "[T]reasonable assaults of guerrillas at home; party demagogues; slanderers of the President; defenders of the butchery at the Alamo; traducers of the heroism at San Jacinto."

Paul already left the Republicans once, for the Libertarian Party -- and if, as seems likely, he is forced to leave again in search of a sane platform, he'll likely take a significant segment of the dying GOP with him.

I'm sure the paleo gorge rises at the comparison of Paul to Lincoln, but hey, gimme a break -- I'm on a roll here.

The cherry on top: Osama-Enablertarian Republican Eric Dondero has announced his intention to run for Paul's US House seat. This is a winner all around!

- If Paul decides not to run again and if the Republicans can't find a man, woman, child or three-legged goat to contest the primary with Dondero, the GOP loses yet another seat in Congress, accelerating its demise.

- If Paul decides to run again, Dondero wastes his time and energy getting his 2% of the primary vote instead of on his more generalized campaign to destroy the Libertarian Party, the libertarian movement and western civilization.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Striking the Root, part one

As I've previously disclosed, I recently resigned my position as campaign manager for Steve Kubby. My resignation was primarily a result of fallout from my comments about another candidate for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination, Wayne Allyn Root.

In case I didn't make it clear enough the first time, I don't have a problem with this, and I don't think anyone else should, either. The correctness or incorrectness of my evaluation of Root wasn't and isn't the issue. The issue was that I acted unprofessionally. Kubby, the candidate I work for, wants to run a positive campaign -- a campaign based on how his issues positions, campaign approach, name recognition, etc., stack up against those of his opponents. What he doesn't want to do is get in a personality-oriented shit-slinging match with those opponents. To the extent that I'm thought of as speaking "for" Kubby, I did him a disservice and a clear dissociation of Kubby from that disservice was 100% the right thing to do.

Now, however, I'd like to get back to the subject of Wayne Root himself. I'm going to say some things that are not nearly as negative about him, but some prep is required for that. If you just can't bring yourself to wade through this whole post to get there, then at least go to the bottom and get to the reasonably positive part. But first:

I'm not going to apologize for "shooting first and asking questions later." For one thing, that's not what I did. I put a reasonable amount of research into the factual claims I made. For another, for better or worse, we need to realize that 99% of voters perceive candidates on the basis of the worst, rather than the best things that can be said about them if those things are even facially accurate.

Really. Play some word association or "first thing that comes to mind" games:

If I say the name "Joe Biden," the first word that comes to your mind is likely to be "plagiarism." It's unlikely that you (probably a reasonably informed American if you're reading a political blog), let alone the "average voter," are going to tell me how many terms Biden has served in the Senate (he's on his sixth), what important legislation he's been responsible for creating or sponsoring (the Violence Against Women Act, the creation of the office of "drug czar," the RAVE Act, etc.), or possibly even what state he represents (Delaware). Hell, I had to look up all of those things except the last one myself.

If I say the name "Bill Clinton," you're probably going to think about Monica Lewinsky before you think about welfare reform.

If I say the name "Newt Gingrich," you're probably going to remember that he filed for divorce from his wife while she was in the hospital with cancer, not that he led the charge for the "Contract With America."

Nixon went to China. Nixon ended the war in Vietnam. Say his name, and 99% of the people you say it to will remember Watergate first.

It's just natural, folks.

As Libertarians, we're in an even worse position than those guys. They have some negatives to get past, but they're much more likely than "third party" candidates to get exposure above and beyond those negatives so that they can pitch their resumes to the voters and try to get over the wall and into contention. "Third party" candidates are lucky to get noticed at all, and if their first exposure is negative, they're going to be dismissed, not kept in hand for further consideration.

My operating theory, at this point, is that the immediate perception Wayne Root creates among voters is going to be more negative than positive ... but I'm willing to be convinced otherwise.

It's not that I think gambling is bad (I've written a book on roulette myself). I don't even believe that most Americans think that gambling is bad. But I'd be willing to (ahem) bet that most Americans would immediately discount a gambling business figure as a political candidate. Why? Because even (maybe especially) those Americans who gamble regard "the house," the bookies, the touts and such as shady guys who make their living from rooking the gullible.

It's not that I object to infomercials or telemarketing, either. Not all infomercials are scams, and not all telemarketers are scammers. But, once again, I'd bet that "scam" is one of the first words that the average American would blurt out if asked to play word association and then given the word "infomercial" or "telemarketing."

As Libertarians, we concern ourselves a lot with what's right and wrong, and with what's factual or incorrect. Those things are important. But another thing that we don't concern ourselves with as much, and that's just as important, is what voters BELIEVE to be right, wrong, factual or incorrect. We have a very limited window of opportunity to convince voters that our positions, which go against everything they've been taught, are correct. If we start with a negative "knee-jerk first impression" factor, we're slamming that window down on our own fingers.

If I hadn't said the things I've said about Wayne Root, someone else would have. As a matter of fact, some others did. And we have to ask ourselves what will be said about Wayne Root if his campaign gains any momentum and starts attracting attention outside of the small circle of LP activists who are concerned with it right now. Will "the public" react positively or negatively to a Root campaign? Will the public's reaction be good, or bad, for the Libertarian Party and for the cause of freedom in America?

BUT ... here's the thing. I've heard from Wayne Root personally. We've emailed back and forth a couple of times. I'm more than willing to stipulate to a few things about him:

- That he's a "good guy" with lots of friends who like and trust him;

- That he's a family man who genuinely loves his wife and children;

- That he does have some important media credentials above and beyond the infomercial arena ...

... and I'm asking YOU to help ME take a harder look at Wayne Root and make sure that I'm not giving him an undeserved bad shake with respect to the respectability of his business dealings and the impression that those dealings might create with the voting public.

Harry Browne once said "it's easier for you to accuse my sister of being a hooker than for me to prove that I don't even have a sister." Harry was right, although I trust I've made the case above that perception is an important thing aside from the accuracy or inaccuracy of the in-depth factual basis for the perception ... something we need to take into account when evaluating candidates.

If I'm wrong about Wayne Root, I want to know. And if I'm convinced that I'm wrong about Wayne Root, I'll make my admission of error just as publicly as I made the error itself. I don't have any personal investment in slagging the guy. For me, this is all about what's good for the party and the movement.

Don't take this as an offer of future endorsement -- I disagree with Root on a number of key political issues, and also see many of his prior political associations and statements as negatives -- but I'll cover those in another post, and they're also "fair game" for his opponents. If I've been wrong about Root in the narrow area I've so far hit on, I owe it to him, and to you, to correct myself and to apologize.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

A plug for the ol' day job

I don't mention Rational Review News Digest much here, but I probably should -- it's my "day job" and has been for more than four years.

Claire Wolfe calls us "the Net's very best libertarian news site."

My late friend John Stone, whom some of you may remember as a frequent commenter here on Kn@ppster -- and who didn't tell very many people that he was a retired Air Force colonel -- compared RRND favorably to the Defense Department's daily "Early Bird" roundup, which covered foreign policy and defense issues. I seem to recall that "Early Bird" ceased publication a couple of years ago. We're still kickin'.

We call ourselves "the libertarian movement's daily newspaper."

What, precisely, is Rational Review News Digest?

It's a daily "roundup" of news and commentary, available on the web or via email. It's produced "by hand" (by myself and four fellow editors -- R. Lee Wrights, Steve Trinward and Mary Lou Seymour gathering material, with Brad Spangler handling tech support) rather than via automation/aggregation.

A normal edition of RRND includes summaries of, and links to, 25-30 news stories, 30-40 political commentaries and 5-10 radio shows/podcasts/videos. We also run a weekly issue "symposium" for reader comment and debate, and a movement events calendar.

We've produced RRND every non-holiday weekday since December 23, 2002 (with the occasional "weekend special edition"). This morning's edition was our 1,145th.

Email subscriptions to, and web viewing of, RRND is "free" up front -- but we rely on the financial support of our readers to keep the thing going ... and we're running our quarterly fundraiser right now.

As a side note, our VERY FIRST contributor, from way back in 2002, is also a Kn@ppster reader -- hi, Fred!

Anyway, check out RRND. If you like it, read it. If you really like it, throw a few bucks our way. It helps, and I appreciate it.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Business as unusual

Disclaimer: This is NOT an official communication of Kubby for President. It is a personal statement which was not approved, or even seen, by the candidate prior to its publication. I assume sole responsibility for its content -TLK

I just got off the phone with Steve Kubby a few minutes ago. At his request (and per my longstanding desire), I have tendered my resignation as his campaign manager.

If the above sounds a lot like "Knapp got fired," yeah, pretty much ... but let me plainly state that I fully concurred with Steve's judgment, and was more than happy to resign a title which I never wanted to hold in the first place. If I'd thought he was making a mistake, I'd have argued the point and forced him to fire me if he wanted me gone.

Gone, by the way, I am not. I still support Steve's campaign, I expect to continue working with Steve's campaign in various roles, and I'm not available to any other presidential campaign in any role.

I'll discuss the straw the broke the camel's back in a moment, but first, a recruiting pitch for my own replacement: If you are a political professional with campaign management experience, the Kubby campaign needs you. I became campaign manager over my own objections, because there was no one else to do the job ... and it is a job that very much needs to be done.

I stand by my claim that Kubby is, as of this time, the only remotely plausible candidate who has so far declared for the Libertarian Party's 2008 presidential nomination. What he needs is a political professional who can take a very strong core team of volunteers and create a successful campaign organization. I'm not that person, and I never was. If you think you may be, drop me a line and I'll put you through to The Man as part of an interview list.

I can't over-emphasize this: The Libertarian Party is in danger of throwing away what could be one of its best presidential election opportunities ever. A number of factors, internal and external to the party, are driving us in that direction ... and right now the only counter-force to that trend is Steve Kubby.

That could change with the prospective entry of new candidates, but it hasn't changed yet -- and we can't afford to just wait and hope for the best. Right now, Kubby is the only horse on the track for those who care about the party's future.

And now, for those of you wondering what my resignation is all about, three words: Wayne Allyn Root. In particular, my public comments on him and his candidacy, starting with this one and this one.

When I first agreed to work with Steve, and then when he hit me up to assume the title of campaign manager, one of my clearly stated conditions was that I remain free to express my own opinions. In the case of becoming campaign manager, I had frankly hoped that that condition would be a deal-breaker (have I mentioned that I didn't want the job?), and it should have been. But it wasn't, so here we are.

Steve Kubby wants to run a very "high road" presidential campaign. He wants to talk about the issues. He wants to talk about what he has to offer to the Libertarian Party and what the Libertarian Party has to offer to America. He's happy to lay out his vision next to the visions of his opponents and trust his fellow Libertarians to choose wisely.

I think that he's spot-on with that desire and that approach ... but I'm not a high-road kind of guy. I call it like I see it, and sometimes what I see isn't pretty. I also place my estimate of the interests of the party and of the movement ahead of the interests of any candidate, including whatever candidate I happen to be working for, and that sometimes means that I deem it necessary to say things the saying of which might damage, rather than benefit, a candidate I support. Which, in a nutshell, is a hell of a reason for me to not be given management of a presidential campaign. I'm glad Steve agrees.