Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Survey says (redux)

The second LibertarianLists survey of libertarian attitudes on the 2008 presidential election has wrapped up. Posts with numbers from Steve Gordon at:

- GordonUnleashed
- Last Free Voice
- The Free Liberal

I'm not sure how much of this data we can take to the bank. It's a smaller sample, and at least two and probably three or more campaigns attempted to "slam" the poll. It went down like this:

The Kubby campaign did let its supporters know, in low-key fashion, about the results of the first survey and the existence of the second. We didn't do "action alert" type stuff ... until the last day of the survey, when I received a forward of an email sent out to supporters of Wayne Allyn Root, urging them to vote for Root in the survey.

Having seen that it was going to go down this way instead of relatively free of "hyping influence," I popped out a "go thou and do likewise" email to the Kubby newsletter list. That makes two campaigns. I'm told, but have not yet been able to confirm, that the campaign of George Phillies reacted in a similar fashion.

So, take the numbers with however many grains of salt you think that's all worth.

If the numbers are accurate, they're reasonably interesting:

- Of the Libertarian Party candidates, Wayne Root wins among all survey participants (i.e. not just LP members, but Republicans, independents and members of other parties). Since the nomination is the first big hurdle, I'm not wigging out over that. But it does look like Root, for the moment at least, continues to rate placement in the "top tier" (if a group of candidates all clustered at the sub-5% level can be called "top tier" with a straight face).

- Among self-identified LP members, the three "pack leaders" were all clustered within five votes of each other: Phillies with 20 votes, Kubby with 17, Root with 16. The whole spread between Phillies and Root is 0.8%, so I don't see that any useful information can be divined there.

- Now it starts to get interesting: The votes from self-identified definite or likely delegates to next May's 2008 Libertarian Party national convention. Phillies picked up 10.37% of this group; Root, 8.89%, Kubby 6.67%. The sample is exceedingly small, making for a higher margin of error (the percentages I just gave you come to a total of 35 votes), but nobody wants to hear that his candidate is last in delegate count.

So, why are my toes tapping? Well, I happen to know that George Phillies has done at least two direct mail pieces, and I have good reason to believe that the recipients of those mailings are mostly former (and likely future) LP convention delegates. So far as I know, Root hasn't done mailings to that target group yet, and I know to an absolute certainty that Kubby hasn't.

If Phillies really is at 10% +/- with likely delegates after hitting them twice by direct mail, and if two opponents who haven't even dipped into that spring yet are within 4% of him ... well ... he's done, folks.

- The next questions are broken out in Gordon's tables to reflect the sentiments of LP members (not necessarily convention delegates, but members), and to measure "the Paul impact."

The first question assumes that as of the LP's national convention, Ron Paul is no longer a factor (i.e. he isn't going to win the GOP nomination and he isn't seeking the LP's nomination). On that question, the big winner is "undecided" with 54.69%, followed by Kubby (11.18%), Phillies (8.78%) and Root (6.19%).

The second question assumes that Paul is still very much a competitor for the GOP presidential nomination (chances are that by May Paul will either be obviously the nominee or obviously not, so for all practical purposes this is the "Ron Paul is the GOP nominee" question). Once again, Kubby bests his LP opponents, but it's that damn 1.x% muddle again: Kubby 5.59%, Phillies 4.79%, Root 4.19%. NOTA polls between Root and Phillies, and "undecided" pulls 23.35%. Here's the winner, with 50.5%:

Would try to change the bylaws in order for Ron Paul to receive the Libertarian Party nomination or become engaged in some sort of effort to draft Ron Paul as the Libertarian presidential nominee

... which, though it be ashes in my mouth, I must admit seems to confirm the strategic wisdom of Kubby's recent decision to endorse Paul. He's (pardon the pun) the elephant in the room.

Of course as mentioned I'm not especially sold on the validity of this survey. I'm reasonably comfortable that "the Paul factor" as represented is somewhere in the range represented; and as with the last, I think that Steve tried to get as unskewed a picture as possible of the real numbers; but the "slamming contest" may have affected things on the LP side, and at least two other developments (Kubby endorsing Paul and Root slagging Paul as "soft" on "Islamo-fascism") would have played in the survey, if at all, toward its tail end.

It's the possible "slamming factor" that keeps me from finally writing Christine Smith out of the "serious candidates" circle. She polled well behind Kubby, Phillies and Root again this time, and behind Barry Hess (no campaign site that I know of, no announcement that I know of ... but he keeps turning up like a bad penny) as well. But I don't have any information that she played the "slam" game, so it's entirely possible that absent the impact of that she would have polled in the same range as the current "top three."

Thanks to Gordon and the folks at LibertarianLists for continuing to try to get real data on what's happening in the LP's 2008 nomination race. Whether ultimately successful or not, the effort is worth making.

We could say we knew him when ...

... but it wouldn't be true.

For a long time, I was pretty sure I had met Drew Carey once. The first time I watched The Drew Carey Show, I had one of those "I know this guy from somewhere" things going -- and when I found out he'd served in the Marine Corps Reserve, I connected that to a recollection (maybe true, maybe false) that my regiment (24th Marines) and his (23rd Marines) had been at the Marine Corps Base near 29 Palms, California at the same time, and in turn to a memory of a chubby jarhead cracking jokes in the chow line.

Turns out, the memory is entirely false, at least insofar as it concerns Carey. His tenure in the Corps was 1980-86, mine was 1984-95. Yes, there are two years of overlap there, but the 29 Palms incident would have taken place in 1989, and during the period of overlap I was in one of three places Corps-wise: Boot camp, Infantry Training School, or drilling with my own unit in Missouri. I doubt that Carey was in any of those places at the same time I was. And if the Marine Corps snapshot in his Wikipedia entry is any indication, he wasn't a food blister (not that there's anything wrong with that anyway -- I could stand to lose 50 pounds -- but in the Marine Corps, the fat kid tends to stand out).

So I don't know the guy, never knew the guy, never even met the guy. Bummer. Thinking I had met him did add a little something ... I dunno, frisson? ... something like that ... to my enjoyment of two already-great shows, The Drew Carey Show and Whose Line Is It Anyway?, though.

All of which is neither here nor there, except that if I'm going to blog about Drew Carey, I want to it to be longer than "Drew Carey is so f**king cool, and he just got picked to host The Price is Right." Some people do one-sentence blog posts. Me, I'm one of those War and Peace types.

Now, to the bullet points:

- Drew Carey is so f**king cool, and he just got picked to host The Price is Right!

- In another article about Drew Carey being so f**king cool and getting picked to host The Price is Right, Carey notes that he just finished filming some documentaries "for the Reason Foundation's upcoming web site." I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty f**king cool.

- I may not know Drew Carey, but my 5th grade teacher claimed to have dated Bob Barker in college. How f**king cool is that?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

And now for something completely different

POC Thomas L. Knapp


Fort Bragg, CA -- Citing overwhelming support from his own party's members and lackluster response to Libertarian presidential campaigns, Steve Kubby today endorsed US Representative Ron Paul's campaign for the Republican Party's 2008 presidential nomination. Kubby, a candidate in his own party's presidential contest, made the endorsement in an interview from his home in Mendocino County, California.

"I am not, and have never been, a Republican," says Kubby, 60, best known for his work for cannabis legalization and on behalf of medical marijuana patients. "For me, the Libertarian Party has always been, and remains, our last best hope for achieving freedom through the American political process. And until recently my position was that the Libertarian Party needed to stick to its own guns, stake out its own territory. But sometimes a special situation comes along."

Recent polling shows Paul garnering the support of about 70% of LP members -- and the LP's front-runners, including Kubby, clustered together in the 2-3% range among those same members. That polling, Paul's much higher media profile, and fundraising reports showing that Paul has raised nearly 100 times as much money as any of his Libertarian competitors, convinced Kubby that this is just such a situation.

"I'm still running for president," says Kubby. "My campaign's first television commercial will debut shortly. I'm continuing to debate my opponents, attend public events as a candidate, and appear on talk radio to make my case. There are important things that need to be said, and I'm saying them. Dr. Paul and I disagree on some issues that I want to skyline, and I firmly believe that I'm the best candidate to represent the party next November. But when 70% of your own party believes so strongly in a candidate that they're willing to cross party lines to support him at least until he's out of the running, you owe it to them to back their play."

Kubby states that if his fellow freedom activists' long-shot bet pays off and Ron Paul becomes the Republican nominee, he will withdraw, ask the party to nominate "None of the Above" at its national convention, and work as a volunteer on Paul's general election campaign. "And I'm urging my fellow Libertarians to approach this in the same way," he says. "But at the same time, I'll continue preparing to give the LP the best presidential campaign I can give it if that doesn't work out."

about 400 words

Web references:

Source interview

Kubby for President

Ron Paul 2008:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The truth is out there ... but is it waaaaaay out there?

In a previous post, I used the "logic" of cui bono -- who benefits? -- to "prove" that US Representative Ron Paul's campaign for the Republican Party's 2008 presidential operation is a Karl Rove False Flag Operation®.

Given the fact that I do believe the Paul campaign to be a Bad Thing For Liberty, I shouldn't have been too surprised that most people thought I actually believed the "Ron Paul is a Roveian Mole" theory myself instead of taking the piece for what it was: An expose on the implications of the "logic" with which certain 9/11 "Truth" advocates claim to have "proven" that the 9/11 attacks were an "inside job" carried out by the US government or elements thereof.

OK, so, it was a failed piece in terms of its real objective. Sorry about that. I guess perhaps the better way is to just take the bull by the horns directly:

"Truth"ers, here's your chance. If you think that 9/11 was an inside job, feel free to prove it.

Some Stipulations and Parameters

Hopefully Mr. X or another legal student or professional will correct me if I'm wrong here, but the usual elements in making a criminal case against a defendant or defendants, in the absence of full-motion video showing the person committing the act while repeatedly yelling "yes, this is me, Joe Blow of 116 Main St. Apartment 5, robbing this bank of my own free will," include establishing motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake or accident and, to the extent that it may show conformity with the propensity for commission of a particular type of crime, the character of the defendant.

I am willing to stipulate up front to the element covered by cui bono? material, i.e. motive. Yes, you heard me right -- free pass on proving motive. I'm willing to agree that the US government, and/or subsidiary parts thereof, benefited from 9/11 in various and sundry ways, that those benefits were reasonably predictable, and that therefore motive was present.

I am also willing to provisionally stipulate to the element of character. In other words, I am willing to agree, unless evidence to the contrary is presented, that any particular goverment employee or agent named as a suspected actor, conspirator of facilitator in the course of this debate is exactly the type of rat-bastard-son-of-a-bitch who wouldn't think twice about murdering 3,000 people for political or pecuniary gain, or that any particular government agency, department or other operating group is composed entirely, largely, or in key respects, of said rat-bastard-sons-of-bitches.

What's left to prove, then, is:

- Opportunity
- Intent
- Preparation
- Plan
- Knowledge
- Identity
- Absence of mistake or accident

This is a blog, not a court of law, so "beyond a reasonable doubt" is not the standard. I'm willing to settle for "a preponderance of the evidence." Or, hell, any evidence at all.

But ... keep in mind that "disproving the official account" is not the same thing as "proving your case." Just because Colonel Mustard didn't do it in the library with the candlestick, that doesn't mean that Miss Scarlet did do it in the parlor with the knife. FWIW, I have some problems with the "official account" myself. But there's a huge gulf separating "problems with the official account" from "George did it."

So, to those other elements:

- Identity: Even if you can prove that Mohammed Atta and 18 al Qaeda accomplices didn't carry out the 9/11 attacks, that's not the same thing as proving that G. Gordon Liddy re-activated The Plumbers for the job. The only way to prove your case by excluding other actors is to conclusively exclude all other actors. There are a lot of actors in the world -- enough to make that method pretty unrealistic. If you're going to identify a particular actor as the culprit, you're probably going to have to do so by means other than exclusion.

- Intent: A lot of "Truth"ers I've talked with tend to get motive and intent mixed up. Just because someone would have benefited by doing something, that doesn't mean that that person decided or intended to do that thing. You're going to have to do better than cui bono? on this one.

- Preparation and plan kind of speak for themselves: Explosives don't magically appear at the point of use. Large groups of people don't spontaneously organize on the morning of an incredibly complex crime just happening to know their jobs and equipped with the gear to carry out those jobs. There are paper trails, emails, phone messages, prior meetings, rehearsals, etc.

- Knowledge: This one's likely to get dicey, given that the US government maintains a large intelligence apparatus for precisely the purpose of gathering information on the intentions, capabilities and plans of various actual or potential enemies. Still, demonstrating that a particular government official or group of such officials had detailed knowledge of when or how the 9/11 attacks would transpire before they transpired would be a start. The wrangle would then be over where they got that knowledge and to what use they were putting it, which would have to be established through reference to other elements of the case.

- Identity: Some more stipulation is, I think, called for here: If you can present even moderately persuasive evidence that, for example, Government Agent X was seen parachuting to the ground from Flight 93 on the morning of 9/11, I'm willing to provisionally stipulate that it was in fact Government Agent X and not his evil twin brother who did so -- the burden of proof will be on the defense to prove that Government Agent X was actually sunning himself on the beach in Puerta Vallarta that morning, right next to a convention of photojournalists who happened to take multiple snapshots of him showing off his 24-inch biceps, washboard abs and FBI Special Agent badge.

- Absence of mistake or accident: I think we can all stipulate that 9/11 was no accident. Within the context of overall events, however, it may need to be proven that this or that particular action was taken with malicious intent rather than that it was a screwup or a coincidence. Of course, the more screwup/coincidence claims arise, the less convincing they will be in their totality.

Alrighty then -- the prosecution has the floor for opening arguments. Anyone caring to argue on behalf of the defense, feel free to chime in as you like.

UPDATE -- I just realized (and I'm sure some commenter would have quickly noticed) that I left out an element: means. Consider that element stipulated to in general. If the US government does not dispose of the money, weapons and human resources to pull off the 9/11 attacks, no one else does either. As far as whether any particular means were available and/or used, that would still need to be proven (i.e. if you claim that "four military versions of passenger aircraft were available at Area 51 on 9/10, and turned up missing on 9/12," you're going to need some evidence for the assertion).

Monday, July 16, 2007

My Ron Paul conspiracy theory

A hypothetical timeline:

- Wednesday, November 8th, 2006: Karl Rove wakes up on the couch in his White House office, where he's caught a couple of hours of sleep after a long night. His first order of business is to have a look at the latest vote totals from the previous day's election. Those totals confirm the projections from before his nap -- the Libertarian Party has "spoiled" elections in Missouri and Montana, costing the Republicans their already razor-thin majority in the US Senate.

- Thanksgiving Weekend, 2006: Rove sits down for a post-Thanksgiving breakfast with several key party leaders to discuss "the Libertarian problem." Over steak and eggs, it is decided that enough is enough: The Libertarian Party must be destroyed. Over the last four election cycles, LP candidates have cost the Republicans at least four Senate elections -- one in Washington, one in South Dakota, and the two key seats in the 2006 election. And with 2008 looking bad for Republicans anyway, it's definitely a good time to take out the trash.

What's needed? A Republican candidate who's well-positioned put the Libertarian Party down like a sick dog, with the assistance of the LP itself, or at least of the LP's "base" of members, supporters and prospective candidates (and, as it has transpired in reality, with the financial support of the LP's founder, at least two members of the Libertarian National Committee, and even the LP's lawyer).

- December, 2006: Ron Paul's phone rings.

I've made no secret of the fact that I believe Ron Paul's Republican presidential campaign to be a bad thing for the libertarian political movement in general, and for the Libertarian Party in particular.

What I haven't said before is that I believe that's the point -- that the objective of Paul's campaign is the destruction of the Libertarian Party and the co-opting of the libertarian political movement by a political party which will never serve that movement's goals.

My evidence for this belief? I admit that I don't have much -- when you get right down to it, there's not a lot more evidence for this than there is for the belief of many Paul supporters that the US government was behind the 9/11 attacks, or that the Federal Reserve is a communist conspiracy.

Then again, if those conspiracy theorists are honest -- if they find the evidence for what they believe convincing -- then they're going to have to believe this as well.

The "evidence," of course, is mostly of the cui bono? -- "who benefits?" -- variety.

We know that the Libertarian Party is not benefiting from the Paul campaign. Recent polling shows about 70% of LP members supporting a Republican presidential campaign over any of their own party's candidates. The idea that that could be good for the LP -- or any other political party to which it happens -- is ludicrous on its face.

We know that the larger libertarian movement isn't benefiting from the Paul campaign, either -- because Paul has assiduously avoided selling himself as a "libertarian," choosing instead to brand himself a "conservative" during his presidential run.

And we know that the pattern of Paul's activities over the last 20 years has amounted to a gigantic fleecing of various constituencies, including but not limited to the libertarian movement and the Libertarian Party. At any given moment, Paul may have sold himself to various donor pools as a "libertarian," a "constitutionalist" or a "small government conservative" (he's a little cagier when selling himself to the racists, usually stopping short of flatly identifying himself as one, and blaming unnamed "ghost writers" for saying things differently than he would have when he gets caught doing so) ... but he's arguably functioned in office as a slightly cranky, but otherwise fairly typical, Republican congresscritter.

Paul has drained untold millions out of the libertarian movement and the Libertarian Party over the years by talking a good line and casting strategic votes on the floor of the US House against spending bills -- bills that he knows will pass without his vote; bills he's already packed with pork that he can take credit for with his corporate sponsors and his home-district constituents, while denying responsibility for when he addresses the various pools of "small government" donors he's been playing like a fiddle for so long.

So ... why would Ron Paul bring his 20-year gravy train to its final stop with the 2008 election? Why would he destroy one of his key campaign funding mechanisms after such a benficial and long-standing, if parasitical, relationship? Why would he cash in his chips and take a flier on a GOP presidential run, when he could just as easily keep fleecing the yokels already in hand? Cui bono?

Well, he's 72 -- any way you cut it, he's nearing the end of his own political career. It's time to start planning for posterity, and the incentives in such planning often differ from those germane to previous endeavors. This, his final campaign, sets the stage for future speaking engagements, book deals, columnist or commentator positions, and other lucrative projects. And let's face it -- even a small segment of the Republican "base" disposes of more such opportunities, with more money in play, than the entire Libertarian Party apparatus does ... especially if Paul can drag some of his existing libertarian fans out of the movement and into the GOP behind him.

The Republican Party obviously stands to benefit if Paul's campaign guts the Libertarian Party, either destroying it outright or eviscerating its ability to field "spoiling" candidates in congressional races for even a few election cycles ... which is exactly what's happening. And it's that benefit to the GOP that makes it likely that he was recruited by Rove or some other GOP operative, with a quid pro quo on the table to seal the deal.

If I had to guess, I'd guess that part of that quid pro quo is in the way of keeping Paul's US House seat in the family. I predict that when Ron Paul, Jr. steps forward to claim his father's seat, the Republican power structure will stand aside for him instead of putting up a "party machine approved" primary opponent. It's also possible that various Paul family members or associates will be tapped for executive branch posts -- probably not on the Cabinet level unless it's Paul himself, but hey, "Deputy Assistant Undersecretary of Agriculture for the Wool and Mohair Program Inspectorate" isn't half bad as either a paycheck or a launching pad for a favorite nephew or a long-time friend -- or provided with sinecures by grateful GOP corporate contributors.

The sad thing is that even if Libertarians stop what they're doing, think things over, recognize what Paul is doing to their party, and stop supporting his assault on the very foundations of the American freedom movement, it's unlikely that he can be stopped per se. He'll probably drive his doomed campaign train right through the Republican convention regardless of his chances and regardless of the impact, and the LP will probably have an even crappier election year than usual, regardless of what LP members do. The damage is going to be severe, and it's going to take years to recover from.

The best we can hope for is that LP members will return to sanity sooner rather than later -- before, rather than after, Paul's campaign collapses -- and start rebuilding their battered party. Paul can damage us, but he can't destroy us. We can only do that to ourselves.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Survey says ...

Steve Gordon and LibertarianLists just completed their first survey of libertarian attitudes toward the 2008 presidential election. The results are being fed out in chunks at various places on the Internet, including (so far):

- Gordon Unleashed
- Last Free Voice
- The Free Liberal

The good news:

This Space Intentionally Left Blank

The bad news:

- Ron Paul commands overwhelming support from the survey pool. 69.62% of respondents list him as their presidential preference ... and support for Paul is higher among self-identified Libertarian Party supporters than among Republican respondents. From the total pool, 67% of respondents identify themselves as Badnarik 2004 voters.

For the record no, I don't think that Paul supporters "stuffed" or "slammed" the poll. The situation really is that ugly.

- Paul's support level relegates all LP candidates to single-digit percentages, such that even the "pack leaders" -- George Phillies (2.71%), Steve Kubby (2.01%) and Wayne Allyn Root (2.01%) are scrunched within 0.7% of each other. Christine Smith trailed the pack, coming in at just under 1%.

In raw votes, George Phillies was the "winner" by 14 votes, but it's hard to make a case that any of the LP candidates did better than miserably or that any of them stood out. None of them received as many votes as Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson or "other."

Kubby did excel the other LP candidates in name recognition and "favorability" numbers -- the former by a good margin (Kubby's name recognition was nearly 50%, Phillies's just short of 40%, and Root's less than 20%). On "favorability," the candidates were once again clustered very closely.

As a Kubby supporter, I can't say that anything in the survey comforted me greatly. At this point in the campaign, I'd hoped to see him positioned as the clear front-runner (at least in the LP field), not bogged down in a cellar mud-wrestling match with two other contenders.

The bottom line:

The LP and the libertarian movement are in deep trouble. None of the LP's candidates have made a significant impact yet, large segments of the party are defecting to a conservative Republican dark horse with no chance of winning the GOP nomination and every chance of continuing to damage the freedom movement in the process of failing to do so, and this trend looks likely to continue through at least next spring.

Even if Paul drops out of the GOP race in February or March -- not a safe assumption, as he seems like the type to go all the way to the Republican Party's national convention as an ineffectual protest candidate, draining libertarian support from productive activities all the while -- there will likely be a reasonably effective "draft Paul" movement in the LP.

And even if that movement is unsuccessful, there may be an organized "NOTA" campaign prompted by Paul's GOP campaign but going on after that campaign ends.

And even if by some chance the LP does manage to nominate a libertarian presidential ticket (as opposed to a Paul ticket or NOTA) despite these obstacles, it looks likely to be a badly underfunded campaign in a year when a well-funded LP campaign with the right candidate (cough ... Kubby ... cough) would almost certainly mean real gains for the party at the polling place and in the public sentiment.

There are bright spots, existing and upcoming, that the survey doesn't reflect, but I'm not terribly optimistic that they'll be enough to break the Ron Paul cult's death grip on the freedom movement's throat. Unless we (or others) find a way to do that, and soon, 2008 is going to go down as a year of lost opportunities.

Gordon's/LibertarianLists' next survey is available here. Weigh in!