Wednesday, March 26, 2008

But seriously, folks ...

In the shadow of recent events, I was initially tempted to run a ... non-traditional ... campaign for Congress: Use KN@PPSTER as my campaign site, maybe walk around the district in a toga and Viking helmet engaging in Socratic dialogues with invisible friends, that kind of thing.

That temptation quickly passed, however. I've put too much blood and sweat into the Libertarian Party over the years to waste a campaign cycle on terrorizing the LP's empty suit faction. I am, after all, a professional.

So, I've pulled out my most respectable head shot -- it's 11 years old; I'll have to get a new one ASAP, and I'll probably break down and ditch the beard -- for the campaign web site, and just threw my first punch at the incumbent. I hope to have the web site fully developed (major position papers, etc.) in the next 10 days or so.

Right now, I'm trying to work up a campaign plan, and I'm wrestling with the issue of whether to run a sub-$5,000 campaign (no FEC reporting to mess with) or try and raise $10-$20k and go balls-out. Either way, I'm already talking with a prospective treasurer and will have a fundraising plan together shortly.

Monday, March 24, 2008

It seemed like a good idea at the time ...

Res ipsa loquitur:







Yes, really.

I decided to do it about thirty seconds before I did it -- due to a family emergency, the candidate I had recruited to run in Missouri's 2nd District wasn't able to make it down to Jefferson City to file, and I was there anyway (with Tamara, who's taking another shot at the 9th District), and one thing led to another ...

Rumors of a legal name change to Subcomandante Hada Spliff are entirely without basis and should be disregarded.

Let's get it on.

Update, 03/26/08 -- Working on the campaign web site now.

Better than a boycott

I sympathize with calls for a boycott of the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing -- but it seems like the least effective way to highlight Communist China's oppression both inside and outside its borders. I think I have a better idea.

Instead of declining to watch the Olympics, or threatening not to buy goods and services from the sponsors of Olympic TV coverage, etc., why not use the games to showcase the causes that the Communist Party would rather people didn't hear about?

As the Sydney Morning Herald puts it, those sponsors "fear a backlash," and that's all well and good, but how about a positive incentive instead of a negative one?

Instead of writing to (for example) Coca-Cola and threatening to switch to Pepsi, why not write to them and ask them nicely to donate their purchased commercial time to feature The International Campaign for Tibet, or Falun Gong, or Dream for Darfur, or Human Rights Watch, or Reporters Without Borders, or Amnesty International? They could still stick their corporate logos on the ads, but they'd be making the sale with a positive contribution worthy of reward, rather than by supporting the thuggery of Beijing.

Boycotts make sense sometimes, but in this case it seems to me that what's called for is the one thing the Communists can't stand: An open airing of the issues, right in their faces.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Missouri LP tries to nix Chief Wana Dubie candidacy

In a 2 1/2 hour teleconference today, the executive committee of the Missouri Libertarian Party voted to revolt against the explicit instructions of the party's state committee -- on behalf of which it acts and to which it is accountable -- to usurp authority which the party's bylaws expressly deny it; to declare itself an election law enforcement agency of the state of Missouri; and to use that self-arrogated authority to make convictions for victimless crimes a disqualification for seeking public office as a Libertarian.

The purpose of all of this? To keep someone off the ballot whom the state would have thrown off anyway upon any individual's request for an investigation of the matter (and at least one of the measure's supporters has previously made such requests regarding others, namely me, albeit on the basis of incorrect information).

We (I have to include myself -- although I abstained on the basis that the entire affair was out of order from the start, I'm not giving up my seat on the executive committee as there may be more such battles to fight) gave the Libertarian Party a black eye today.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mary Ruwart enters presidential race

Press release, from her campaign site:

Contact: R. Lee Wrights

Ruwart Enters Presidential Race

Burnet, TX -- Two months ahead of its national convention in Denver, the Libertarian Party's already crowded field of candidates grew by one on Friday as Dr. Mary J. Ruwart announced her candidacy for the LP's 2008 presidential nomination.

Responding to an informal draft effort conducted by party activists, the author of Amazon.Com #1 bestseller _Healing Our World in an Age of Aggression_ launched her campaign web site and announced plans to begin addressing state party conventions and other political events with the intent of challenging Republican candidate John McCain and the Democratic Party's as yet unnamed nominee for the support of America's voters.

"Libertarians have been waiting for a candidate who can change the tone of American politics," says campaign manager R. Lee Wrights. "Dr. Ruwart is that kind of candidate. She's a unifier and a motivator who can communicate our message of freedom and be heard."

Running on a theme of "Healing America," Ruwart -- a Ph.D and former Assistant Professor of Surgery with a background in pharmaceutical research -- proposes to withdraw US forces from Iraq, drastically reduce federal taxes and spending, and deregulate health care to increase access and quality.

"Only liberty can heal the rifts that divide and impoverish America," says Ruwart, 57. "Freedom breeds compassion, tolerance and prosperity. Coercion breeds conflict, fear and poverty." In _Healing Our World_ and _Short Answers to the Tough Questions_, she propounds a caring, rather than combative, approach to promoting the Libertarian Party's political agenda.

Ruwart earned a BS in biochemistry and a Ph.D in biophysics from Michigan State University. She has served on the Libertarian National Committee, as well as the boards of the International Society for Individual Liberty, the Fully Informed Jury Association and the Michigan chapter of the Heartland Institute. She lives with her husband, Ray, in Burnet, Texas.

Dr. Ruwart may have announced from Texas, but she announced in Missouri -- on Gary Nolan's talk radio show, "The Drive," out of Columbia.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dems 2008: Defeat from the jaws of victory?

When I placed my bet in Dean Barnett's "John McCain Dead Pool" last May, I went long:

January 20th, 2009 -- simultaneous with taking his hand off the Bible and thanking the Chief Justice.

Barnett? Smug. Me? Facetious. I did think that McCain would end up with the GOP's presidential nomination, but I didn't think he had a prayer of winning in November. Now it's starting to look like I may end up with the prize (one of Hugh Hewitt's doorstops paperweights books).

A new CNN poll shows McCain in a dead heat with either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama for the presidency. A new Gallup poll gives him high favorables in his own party compared to Clinton's and Obama's favorables in their party.

How did we get from "whomever the Democrats nominate will romp in 2008" to "wow, the Republicans may not be quite dead after all?" I can name that tune in two notes: Hillary Clinton.

If Clinton gave a tinker's damn about the Democratic Party's prospects, she would have taken the stage at some point during her ten-primaries-in-a-row losing streak and announced her withdrawal. She would have thrown her support behind Obama and turned him loose to campaign like John McCain is campaigning now: As the nominee apparent of his party.

Thing is, Hillary Clinton doesn't give a tinker's damn about the Democratic Party's prospects as such. To her, the party is nothing more or less than a taxicab: Its sole purpose, as she sees it, is to take her where she wants to go (in this case, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue). And if it won't take her there, she's perfectly happy to run the meter and empty the gas tank rather than let it take someone else there.

It's looking more and more likely that the Democratic nomination contest will go all the way to a convention bloodbath -- and if it does, "dead heat" will be a fond memory. Hell, give McCain five months of free play and Reagan versus Mondale 1984 will be a fond memory. If Clinton lets that happen, she can title her post-campaign memoir It Takes a Village Idiot.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


A few months ago, I noted that the Boston Tea Party was essentially moribund/inactive, and accepted the offer of Jim Davidson to serve as replacement chair and try to get things going again.

In my opinion, that attempt has failed -- I couldn't even get a majority of the national committee to rouse themselves and vote yea or nay on a motion to schedule the organization's 2008 national convention as required by the bylaws.

Accordingly, I have resigned from the BTP's national committee. Three days without even an acknowledgment from any other member of that committee or any news that anyone's interested in reviving the organization, confirm to me that the Boston Tea Party has assumed room temperature. With no organization to exercise rightful claim to it under the bylaws, I deem the domain name to have to reverted to my control, and have put it up for sale at auction.

Third parties: Late, for a very important date

This year, the Constitution Party's national convention is scheduled for April. The Libertarian Party will convene to nominate its 2008 presidential slate in late May. The Green Party won't choose its ticket until July.

This may not seem unusual (the Republicans and Democrats usually hold their conventions in August or even early September), but third parties and "major parties" face very different sets of obstacles in publicizing their presidential prospects.

The Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have been the subject of fawning media coverage for close to two years now. They've been debating each other on prime time television for nearly a year. They've battled each other in highly-publicized primaries and caucuses all over the nation. Everyone knows who John McCain is. Everyone's heard of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

I'm not one for silver bullets -- no one thing will put third party candidates into contention for the presidency -- but some changes just make sense. One of those changes is nominating earlier. My recollection is that the Libertarian Party used to nominate its presidential candidates the year before the election. Andre Marrou was nominated for president in 1991. Ron Paul was nominated in 1987. And so on, and so forth. It was only in 1996 that the LP moved its nominating convention into the year of the election itself.

Late nominating conventions handicap third parties. We can't expect the kind of pre-nomination media coverage that "major party" candidates get. The sooner a party positions itself behind a nominee, the sooner that nominee has access to the party's full pool of presidential contributors and can get to work reaching beyond the party to the American public. It's all well and good to hope that a pre-nomination third party candidate will "break out" and catch the mainstream media eye ... but it seldom works out that way.

This year, the LP and Constitution party nominations are very much up in the air only a few weeks ahead of their national conventions, with credible rumors of two possible late entrants (Bob Barr and Mary Ruwart) in the LP race, and Alan Keyes mulling a Constitution Party bid. And while Cynthia McKinney is probably a lock for the Green nomination, she's not yet free to take that for granted and start running her general election campaign with the assurance that her new party will remain behind her.

These parties' nominees will only have a few short months to go from zero to general election speed. They'll be facing "major party" opponents who've enjoyed 24/7 media coverage for the past year, coverage which will only intensify as November draweth nigh -- and even post-nomination third party candidates are doing well to wrangle 1% of the mainstream media's attention during the general election cycle.

It's time for third parties to re-think their nomination convention timing. While an election-year convention has some media potential, that potential probably doesn't outweigh the benefits of giving our nominees a full year in the general election campaign saddle.

Cross-posted at Third Party Watch

Friday, March 07, 2008

Black flag red meat

All it took was some cop wryly describing a couple of fleet-footed border fugitives as "anarchist types" to get them Pajamas (media) all in a wad: OmigodOmigodOmigod the anarchists Omigod they're out there Omigod and they're gonna get us Omigawwwwwwwd!

Errrrr ... yeah.

Body count from the (possibly) anarchist attack on a local military recruitment headquarters of a rogue state which is known to possess weapons of mass destruction and engage in illegal wars of aggression:

Zero. Goose-egg. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Body count from that rogue state's rogue war on another rogue state which was rumored to possess weapons of mass destruction and hadn't been in any position to engage in any illegal wars of aggression for the previous 12 years:

~10,000 rogue "invadee" troops killed in the invasion.

~4,230 rogue "coalition" troops (including 3,974 American soldiers) killed in the invasion and occupation.

~1,000 rogue "coalition" contractors killed in the occupation.

Depending on whom you believe, somewhere between 50,000 and 1 million civilian casualties of the invasion and occupation.

But of course it's those anarchists who have Michelle Malkin squatting and peeing herself in abject terror.

That's how it is with the Republican Surrealists, of course -- this week some publicity-seeking knothead's friggin' smoke damage is 9/11 all over again. Next week, we'll be back to "not a single domestic attack in seven years, guys, and all you had to sacrifice were ten trivial little amendments. Stay the course -- if we don't fight them over there, we'll end up fighting them in Times Square."

Monday, March 03, 2008

Single issues and Libertarian candidates

Over the course of Steve Kubby's presidential campaign, a number of opponents have tried to peg him as a "single issue" candidate -- the single issue, of course, being medical marijuana. And, while he's certainly talked about all the other issues that presidential candidates need to address, Kubby has stressed his background of political success in that policy area.

Over the course of Wayne Allyn Root's presidential campaign, most of the "single issue" pegging has been done by Root himself. Although he talks about other issues, a good part of his campaign rhetoric has been focused on stressing his background in the gambling industry and on his purported ability to reach the high percentage of Americans who are offended by the online gambling ban.

Time to run some numbers.

Harris Interactive on gambling:

Ninety-five (95%) percent of U.S. adults who are online say they have never spent money playing at an online casino, 94 percent say they have never spent money playing online multi-player poker, and even more (97%) say they have never spent money betting on sports online. ... U.S. adults who are online are also divided over a ban on gambling over the Internet in the United States. One-third (34%) say they are in support of banning it, another third (32%) would oppose it, yet another third (34%) would neither support nor oppose it.

Various polls on medical marijuana, on the other hand, bottom out at 60% public support, and top out at 30% opposition. The Harris poll in this collection shows 80% of Americans in support of medical marijuana, only 17% opposed. And while 3% of Americans have ever bet on sports online, 47% have smoked marijuana.

Of course, there's more to these issues than just raw support:

- There's the question of whether the potential constituencies need to look to a third party for support, or whether they are already represented by the major parties.

- There's the question of the character and reputation of those who seek the LP's presidential nomination in order to represent those constituencies.

On the first question, it could go either way -- US Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) got 11 co-sponsors for his bill to repeal the online gambling ban last year, and will continue to make it an issue. The Democrats are angling for repeal of the ban, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade is probably going to weigh in favor of repeal. American gamblers and their supporters have strong major party representation and a strong likelihood of prevailing without any help from the Libertarian Party.

Medical marijuana advocates enjoy less powerful representation. The Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment failed 262-165 in the US House last year -- and that failure was the fifth in a row. It's damn near impossible to get a Democratic or Republican politician to go on record in favor of medical marijuana. Medical marijuana patients and their supporters have weak major party representation and no likelihood of prevailing except under the auspices of a third party.

There's no real comparison on character and reputation:

Steve Kubby has a long record of fighting for the rights of all Americans. That fight has often been concentrated on the issue of medical marijuana, but his rhetoric has been strongly and broadly pro-freedom. He has gone to prison and into exile fighting for liberty. He has negotiated as an equal with US Attorneys General on behalf of patients' rights. He has played a key role in the passage of pro-freedom legislation, he has assisted pro-freedom candidates in actually getting elected to office, and he has successfully faced down local and county governments in order to protect the medical marijuana movement's gains.

Wayne Root, on the other hand, has no substantial record of political success or of fighting for freedom prior to his presidential candidacy. On the contrary, his political background is in hosting Republican Party fundraisers, contributing to Joe Lieberman's authoritarian US Senate campaign in 2006, and endorsing an anti-freedom McCain-Lieberman presidential ticket for 2008. On the business end, Root represents the armpit of the gambling industry and the far-out infomercial/telemarketing fringe of American enterprise. Even if some substantial portion of the 3% of Americans who bet on sports online might be moved to seek third party representation, it seems unlikely that Root is the ideal candidate to approach that constituency with.

If we're going to go "single issue," medical marijuana far outpolls, and draws in far more likely supportive voters, than online gambling. If we're going to pin "single issue" on our candidates, Steve Kubby is clearly a superior standard bearer as compared to Wayne Allyn Root.