Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Reconsidering Stanhope

I see that I'm not the only one doing so.

You'll just have to take my word for it that my motivation isn't (okay, isn't just) that he bought me a drink and hung out with me and Paulie (or was it GE? -- I was pretty tired and already a bit in my cups) for a few minutes in Denver, even after I had written dismissively of him.

I ran across, or into, Stanhope three or four times at the LP's national convention. Every time that happened, it seemed to me that he was the only person in his immediate area -- and sometimes there were presidential candidates within arms' reach -- talking anything resembling sense.

When I was down on him, I wrote:

A comedian who has never been elected to prior public office running for the presidency of the United States is, and will be seen as ... a joke.

Looking back at that statement, I can't believe how badly I was missing the point. Politics is a joke. A bad one. Voters might respond well to someone who points that out to them, if he's funny when he does so.

Personally, I hope the guy makes a run at in 2012. I think he could do it without sweating all the campaign finance fuckery that worried him out of the race this time. He could just announce that he's a candidate ... and then go about his business as usual. No fundraising, just making a living talking the way he always talks anyway. Think Pat Paulsen with a bad attitude and a head full of MDMA.

It could work.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A modest proposal

The Boston Tea Party rewrites its program every two years, and will do so this October in convention. I'm proposing the following program point (rough draft -- it may change slightly) for adoption at that convention:

The Boston Tea Party supports a constitutional amendment a) repealing section 4 of the 14th amendment; b) prohibiting future indebtedness and deficit spending on the part of the federal government; and c) repudiating all federal government debt and debt service obligations accrued prior to the ratification of said amendment.

I'm normally loath to let Murray N. Rothbard argue a point for me, but in this case he's actually a good place to start.

Critiques, please.

Friday, July 25, 2008


Sorry to be absent so long -- I've been up to a good many things, most of them having little or nothing to do with this blog.

One thing that does have to do with this blog is the new KN@PPSTER site, which includes it.

After a bunch of futzing around with unsuccessful export/import schemes to move it, I started thinking (yes, yes, I know -- better to think before, but there you go again): Why go to all that trouble to achieve nothing better than losing all my incoming links and having to run the damn thing on my own bandwidth when Blogspot is so kind as to furnish said bandwidth? And unlike many, I actually like the Blogger.Com setup, so I'm just porting the blog into a full-screen iframe at the new site.

Right now, is:

- Syndicated political news contenton powered by Voxant on the front page (with brief commentary/analysis appended) and in a couple of auto-refreshing feed pages. I'm still awaiting word on my application to mochila so I can get out of Flash hell and turn the thing into a more useful news portal. Starting next week, I plan to pop three stories a day onto the front page.

- Syndicated cartoons from ComicExchange.

- Da blog.

Some time in the near future, I'll probably power up the forums module. I may also add non-syndicated news content -- real five-point-lede, etc., journalism from myself and possibly selected freelancers. Beyond that ... well, I've got some ideas. I plan to have a nice site together before I start promoting it to "the world at large," but I hope KN@PPSTER readers will check it out and help me get it up to snuff.

On the "day job" front, Rational Review News Digest just launched our mid-year fundraiser. We're down to two a year now, and this one has a gimmick in it for getting down to one. Not bad for a project that employs five people and runs entirely on voluntary contributions. If you haven't checked out "the freedom movement's daily newspaper," you should.

OK, here's the part where I hit "publish" and find out if the cool ScribeFire addon for Firefox works. Later.

[Update: Didn't work so well -- it saved as draft even though I tried to publish without doing so, and when I came over to Blogger to edit it it was full of all kinds of clutter code. Oh, well, it was worth a try - TLK]

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On Testicular Fortitude

Voter: Really, I’m a Libertarian at heart.
David Bergland: Well, when it reaches your balls, give me a call.

That's from a post at Positive Liberty by Jim Babka of Downsize DC. Best. LP. Quote. Ever.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking: Knapp's gonna give Babka what for over his treatment of the Boston Tea Party and Charles Jay's excoriation of Barr.

Nope. I want to talk about that, but not in precisely the way you might think.

It's true that I've sworn off my support for the Barr campaign, and that I've described Barr's candidacy as Dixiecrat 2008, and I stand by that characterization. Having already rhetorically positioned Barr alongside Strom Thurmond, George Wallace and Lester Maddox, I didn't feel any great need to weigh in on his Jesse Helms eulogy. Coals to Newcastle and all that.

And I do want to respond briefly to Babka on two points, so let's get that out of the way:

I don't know if this party will have their candidate on a single ballot. They appear to exist entirely for unherdable cats, hell-bent on criticizing the LP.

As it happens, the Boston Tea Party's presidential ticket is on the ballot in Colorado, will be on the ballot in Florida and Guam, and will likely manage several other states (we're looking at possibles in Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and New Jersey). We've got nine state affiliates with more organizing right now. We got started too late this year to run down-ticket slates of our own, but we're endorsing and aiding a number of independents and candidates of other parties who in turn endorse our platform. One prospective endorsee, an LP candidate, just emailed me to mention that she had received a campaign contribution just from asking for our endorsement.

Ultimately, we're not anti-Libertarian Party ... we're pro-libertarian. Conditions are such that that may be less than perfectly clear to all right now, but we'll get there.

I'm not going to apologize for Charles Jay's critique. He said some things that needed to be said -- not just because they're true, but because at this point in its existence, the Boston Tea Party very much needs to explain itself to the rest of the freedom movement. We need our fellow libertarians to understand why we're doing what we're doing.

Nonetheless, I don't think that Jim's criticism is entirely unjustified. So far, the BTP's existence and career as a party has been closely tied to various critiques of the LP. That's just a fact. There's no disputing it and I'm not going to try.

Babka refers to the BTP as a "spin-off" -- but I think maybe he's giving us too much credit. We haven't really spun off yet. Rather, we've remained, to a large degree, in the LP's orbit. Our criticisms have so far largely been leveled at the LP and its presidential candidate rather than at the status quo parties and their candidates. On the positive side, we've been happy to endorse LP candidates who meet our standards.

This election cycle is the adolescence of the Boston Tea Party.

In our infancy (from 2006 to earlier this year) we were half-in, half-out of the LP. I offered a resolution at the BTP's organizational convention which would have constituted it as an internal caucus of the LP. That resolution was rejected by the members, but we didn't go in the opposite direction that year, either.

This year, we've decided to start doing the things a "real" political party does. We've nominated candidates for office and we're working to put those candidates on the ballot. We're chartering state affiliates so that we can hit the ground running in 2010 with congressional and state legislative slates. We're establishing recruitment efforts that stand on their own and don't rely on the internal LP "dissatisfaction grapevine."

Between now and 2012, I expect that the BTP will grow into young adulthood, establish itself as a proven, permanent third party ... and of course make its best attempt to do better than other third parties have done and break into "the big leagues."

The reality is that there are now two libertarian political parties on America's electoral landscape, and that (in certain respects at least) the newer one is coming up fast in the older one's rearview mirror.

Breaking up is hard to do ... but perhaps it needn't be as painful as we're making it. Can we just be friends? OK, well, maybe not, at least for the three months and change while the LP conducts its "great experiment" and the BTP embarks on its "maiden voyage." But ...

Odds are that there will always be cross-traffic between the LP and the BTP as angry or discontented libertarians of one seek expression in the other (or, as is now the case, participate in both). It's a safe bet that the two parties will bring different approaches to the longstanding and vexing problem of electing candidates to office. Hopefully as time goes on, the two parties will learn to, well, learn, from each others' mistakes and from each others' successes instead of just going at each other.

I'm not going to promise to go easy on Bob Barr. The LP made that bed, and now it (we -- I'm still an LP member and candidate) gets to lie in it. But I can, and do, promise you that I'll do my best as a member of the Boston Tea Party to make that party about more than internecine freedom movement conflicts. We have bigger game to hunt, and we're just now getting our boots on.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blast from the Past: Deus ex (Goldberg) Machina

Everybody want to go up to heaven
but none of them, none of them want to die

Peter Tosh, "Equal Rights"

Which pretty much sums up the "conservative" position on bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: "We're gonna do it, but gosh darn, wouldn't it be nice if someday someone didn't?"

McCain's on board. Video here -- sorry, embed is disabled on it. Here's the back-and-fill Dixiecrat edition, though:

Apropos of which, a piece I wrote a few years back:

Deus ex (Goldberg) Machina
by Thomas L. Knapp
01/16/02@Rational Review

A visitor from another planet, dropped into the typical American living room, in front of the typical American television, would surely leave convinced that public policy is contrived, debated, adopted and implemented by a gaggle of talking heads who spend 24 hours a day in rotation between shopping for the most stylish double-breasted suits, commuting by limousine from one talk show studio to the next, and hobnobbing at White House receptions.

The truth, of course, is both more prosaic and more horrifying.

The typical American politician, at the federal level, is a harried hack, jetting back and forth between Washington and his fiefdom ... er, constituency ... to raise funds, whip recalcitrant allies into line, raise funds, shake hands, kiss babies and, of course, raise funds.

This typical politican, when in Washington, is too busy paying off favors to those donors and recalcitrant allies to accomplish much relating to the ideas that probably inspired his entry into politics in the first place.

Yes, he was a young idealist once. He had priorities. He wanted to help people. He wanted to make his country a better place, restore a sense of honor to its highest institutions, work with the statesmen he saw nightly on CNN to guide the great ship of state safely over the waves of the uncertain sea of policy.

Now, he scurries.

He scurries to the House chamber to cast a vote on a bill he's never read, because his party's leadership wants it. And those who don't "work with" the party leadership end up with the last office in the Rayburn building: the one behind the door marked "Custodian."

He scurries to the studio for a talk show appearance, prepared to mouth some lines whipped up by his staff, because the media demands it. And those who don't "work with" the media find themselves the targets of investigative reports, coverage custom made to benefit their next opponent for election or, worst of all, simply ignored.

He scurries to dinner with a major donor who happens to be in Washington, because money is the mother's milk of politics. He can't afford to lose that donation. Moreover, he can't afford to lose that donor's support.

At the end of the day, he scurries off to the White House in bow tie and cummerbund, works his way through the reception line, and stands around drinking weak cocktails and being ignored. If he's lucky. If he spills his martini on the envoy from Sierra Leone, there'll be hell to pay. If he doesn't show up at all, well, the president may not have time to campaign in his district this fall.

If he scurries adroitly enough -- zigging across the floor of House America to avoid the great boots of media oppobrium, political desertion and financial insolvency, zagging to catch the crumbs that fall from the randomly piled plates of power -- he can one day look forward to similarly corrupting his nemesis: the next young idealist to take a tentative step into the corridors of power.

This is the life of one cog -- the typical U.S. Representative -- in the machine called "hyperpluralism," that American governance has become.

The surprising thing about hyperpluralism isn't that it creates a divide between legitimate public purpose and actual public policy. It isn't that it chews up, digests and assimilates even the most honest public servant, making him just another extension on a conveyor belt moving toward the incinerator of totalitarianism . It isn't even that it can produce only centralization of power and deliver that power only to those least likely to either eschew it or exercise it with extreme caution.

The surprising thing about hyperpluralism is that it works at all.

When I began to write this piece it was, surprisingly enough, intended as a rebuttal to Jonah Goldberg's critiques of libertarianism. That's still my intent, but I've found another Goldberg in the woodpile. His name is Rube, and his presence shines some light on my discomfiture with Brother Jonah's ponderings.

Jonah Goldberg is the current golden boy at National Review, journal of record for "conservatism" in the Day of Dubya.

Rube, of course, is the cartoonist whose wonderful images of complex machines designed to accomplish simple tasks engaged and delighted an audience of millions.

"Conservatism" in the Day of Dubya is Jonah's application of Rube's ideas to politics.

That, of course, is the nut of the matter. Goldberg's problem with libertarians isn't that we're thin-skinned. It isn't that we're simplistic or that our ideas aren't relevant to the debate at its root.

It's that a polity based on libertarian ideas would not need an army of "liberal" Rubes to design it or a horde of "conservative" Jonahs to crawl over its superstructure, continually tightening bolts, checking welds and adding kitchen sinks, mousetraps and bathtubs to its bewildering assortment of features.

Or to explain what the hell it is that they've built.

National Review prides itself for "standing athwart history yelling stop." That pride is misplaced. All too often, the "conservatism" of Goldberg and Company is more reminiscent of the prayer of Augustine: "Give me chastity and continence -- but not just yet."

History, thus far, is the record of continuing state encroachment on individual liberty -- with occasional interruption due to technical difficulties. The piercing "STOP!" of the modern American "conservative" movement is invariably followed by a throaty, whispered "but not just yet" as "conservatives" rush to assimilate the latest development, make it their own and defend it to the death.

Contra Goldberg (Jonah, not Rube), libertarians don't suffer from "accumulated resentment at being in the backseat of the right-wing coalition." No such coalition exists, nor can it exist except on libertarian terms. The backseat of American politics is already occupied by the "conservatives," busily engaged in making babies with the "liberals."

The libertarian malady is more physiological and less petty than resentment. It's called nausea.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Two predictions

Why do I make longshot predictions? They're less likely to be correct, of course. Then again, if they are correct, you're the guy who got something right that others were afraid to touch. So:

First Prediction: When Barack Obama visits Iraq next week, an attempt will be made on his life by them terrorists. [1]

Second Prediction: Regardless of the success or failure of the attempt, the main point of subsequent blogospheric debate on the incident will be who was guiding them terrorists' hands: The Busheviks or Hillary.

Next prediction: The date of the second coming of Jebus. [2]


1. To the guys wearing cheap suits, sunglasses and earpieces: No, I'm not advocating this. Let's be very clear on that point. I'm predicting it, and the last 45 years of history say that while it's a marginal prediction due to its specificity of time and locale, it's not one absent ample precedent per se. And hey, if it doesn't happen, how about we split credit for preventing it? I exposed them terrorists' intentions, and you guys were on top of your job. Yeah, that's the ticket.

2. Only 366 shopping days 'til Jebusmas!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

What Jim Henley said

What the moment required was the wholesale repudiation of Banana Republicanism. (The moment was 2006 to this election cycle.) Because the GOP itself will regain power. If it regains power while the same lovely Unitary-Executive tools are lying around, things will be even worse next time. The only way to stop that would have been to destroy the structure of the Bush-era GWOT apparatus and its precepts root and branch -- to visit political, professional and legal consequences on its architects.

Which, as Henley points out, the Democrats are bending over backward (and bending us over forward) to not, not, NOT, under any circumstances, do, at least in the way that really matters (Henley: "political consequences only exist if the offending party loses on the offending issue").

The Democrats have effectively turned "national security" into a political Möbius strip. The Busheviks established the "we have always been at war with Eurasia (and Magna Carta)" starting point. It was Democratic compromise and complicity which cut the political surface, put a half-twist on it, and re-glued it such that both major partisan paths lead back to that point.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Leading By Example: Knapp Campaign Goes "Carbon-Neutral"

POC Thomas L. Knapp


St. Louis - Voters normally expect a certain amount of hot air from politicians, but Libertarian congressional candidate Thomas L. Knapp announced this morning that he intends to cool things down by running a "carbon-neutral" campaign.

"It's just the right thing to do," says Knapp, 41, of Greendale. "Every politician I see out on the stump has big plans for addressing climate change ... but those plans never seem to include leading by example. I want to look back in November and know that I was part of the solution rather than part of the problem."

Knapp arrived at his campaign's estimated carbon footprint by running projected travel mileage and electricity use through several online footprint calculators. "Then," he says, "I added a fudge factor to account for things like printing and shipping of campaign materials." He purchased a six ton Verified Emissions Offset credit for about $40 from a firm which in turn invests in emissions-reducing projects such as generation of electricity from landfill gas in Illinois. He plans to revisit his calculations in October and purchase additional offsets if necessary to maintain carbon neutrality.

"Libertarians believe that the market provides the most efficient avenue for addressing problems like pollution and climate change," says Knapp. "We also believe that Americans are, in general, responsible individuals who will do the right thing when they can. I switched to energy-saving CFL lightbulbs and a gasless 'reel' lawnmower without anyone in government forcing me to." His campaign platform includes ending corporate welfare that subsidizes polluting industries, and leaving far more money in taxpayers' pockets, where he predicts that it will combat climate change more effectively than it would in the hands of Washington bureaucrats.

Knapp is unopposed in his candidacy for the Libertarian Party's nomination in Missouri's 2nd US House district. He'll face off with incumbent Republican Todd Akin of Chesterfield and an as-yet unchosen Democratic nominee, in November. The Libertarian Party, founded in 1972, is America's third largest political party and has been an established party in Missouri since 1992. Their 2008 slate includes candidates for statewide office as well as congressional, state legislative and local seats.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Only 82 shopping days 'til the election ...

... and some people still haven't made up their minds yet. What are they waiting for, double coupon day or something?

... but seriously, this is the portion of the electorate that's ripe for third party picking. People who haven't picked a candidate after two years of balls-out campaigning obviously aren't thrilled with what the big guys are offering them.

W00T! (No, really!)

Last December, The Creator Susan Hogarth bestowed upon me a dandy gift: A ShuttleX PC with brushed aluminum casing, 1.4GHz Athlon processor, 256K (more or less) RAM, etc. For whatever reason, she didn't need it any more and it was (and is) more than robust enough for my needs. I remain intensely grateful.

Unfortunately, the old Linux distro on it was broken and I couldn't get any of the ones I tried to install to play nice with my ISP, even after some standup help detecting the modem, etc..

So, I've spent the last six-odd months in Windoze XP hell -- I do most of what I do on the 'net, so there was just no reason to muck around in a non-connected Linux installation. It's amazing how quickly one becomes inured to the horrors of Micro$haft's plug'n'pray "operating" systems. I had forgotten how easy, even fun, working on a desktop PC could be.

Anyway, the other day, I switched ISPs, and my first thought was "I wonder ..."

Yep! I'm posting this via Firefox ( -- gotta upgrade ASAP), running in KDE under OpenSuse 10.3. I'll be moving all my work stuff over to this partition ASAP.

Quick review: As I'm becoming accustomed to with the newer Linux distros, OpenSuse installs easily and runs, so far as I can tell, flawlessly (goodbye, BSOD!). It's fast, it's friendly ... it's home.

I downloaded and installed a couple of games just so I could report to you on ease of use -- and I'm happy to report that OpenSuse's download and installation scheme is fantastic. It's easy to locate, access and get software from numerous repositories in a manner that I've previously associated with more overtly proprietary distros like Xandros.

Not to be overly evangelistic, but if you're still futzing with Windoze, do yourself a favor and make the move to Linux. The time is now. Any good Linux distribution is available on CD or DVD for a tiny fraction of the price of the latest Redmond Wreck. It will be easier to install than any version of Windoze since at least 98 and probably 95. It will come bundled with software for everyday computing -- word processing, web surfing, etc. -- that's as good or better than what you're used to using. You'll be amazed at how much easier life becomes with Linux.

Bush, Congress v. Article I, Section 8 and 5 US 137

Which parts of "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed," and "that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void, and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument," do they not get?

Anyone willingly involved in the Busheviks' illegal wiretapping program is a criminal. That means you, George W. Bush -- and it means you, telecom company officials who caved to illegitimate authority instead of standing up for your customers' rights. Try as you might to cover up your filth like a cat in a litter box, you're entitled to no reasonable expectation it will stay covered.

You can run, but you can't hide. Big Reckoning soon come. Write it down.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Release: Boston Tea Party adds affiliates, endorses candidates

POC Thomas L. Knapp


CYBERSPACE -- The Boston Tea Party, America's new libertarian political alternative, is on the move. Since the beginning of June, the Internet-based political party has nominated a presidential ticket, chartered affiliate parties in eight states, and is now in the process of endorsing candidates in states where it lacks its own down-ticket ballot access.

The party's first slate of candidate endorsements includes Phil Rhodes for Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina and Morey Straus for State Representative in New Hampshire. Both candidates are running on the Libertarian Party's ballot line in their states.

Also endorsed is the party's only sitting elected public official, Jim Y. Casarjian-Perry. Casarjian-Perry, a Town Meeting Representative in Billerica, Massachusetts, is seeking election to the town's planning board.

"As a new party, we have our hands full seeking ballot access for the presidential ticket and building active organizations in the states this year," says Boston Tea Party chair Jim Davidson of Lawrence, Kansas. "Endorsing qualified independents and candidates of other parties is a win-win proposition -- it helps us build the party and it hopefully helps those candidates gain additional support for their efforts."

The party's national committee expects to endorse additional candidates between now and the November general election. The party requires candidates seeking its endorsement to certify that they support the party's one-sentence platform: "The Boston Tea Party supports reducing the size, scope and power of government at all levels and on all issues, and opposes increasing the size, scope and power of government at any level, for any purpose."

The party's presidential candidate, Charles Jay of Florida, will appear on the November ballot in Colorado. The party expects to achieve ballot access in several additional states. It has recently chartered affiliate organizations in Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

G8 to throw $60 billion at Africa health issues

"100 million insecticide-treated nets?" How about 100 trucks rigged out with DDT spraying equipment instead? It would be cheaper, more effective, and require fewer people to queue up in lines, bow and scrape before bureaucrats ... oh, wait, I see why now. As you were.

Space truckin' -- end of an era

Even as government projects go, the shuttle program always struck me as a costly and dangerous digression. Pursuing it pushed manned flights to points beyond earth orbit back by more than three decades, blocking humanity's reach for the stars ... or at least for Mars.

Now with the shuttle program coming to an end and a projected four-year gap (that's a government projection, so count on the gap to widen) between the shuttle and Orion, perhaps the private sector will have enough maneuvering room to make progress toward visions like this one.

At least I hope so. My goal is to die -- and, more to the point, live -- on some other rock some day.

My (current) presidential predictions

Yes, the general election is still a long way off ... which is why attempting to predict outcomes is so much fun. Besides, I'm feeling my oats, having predicted McCain's nomination eight months out when virtually everyone except me, and maybe McCain himself, thought he was done. I may revise these predictions, but I won't memory-hole anything.

Popular Vote

Based on a guesstimated 120-million vote turnout, with a fudge factor of a little less than 1/10th of 1%:

Barack Obama (D) -- 54%(63.6 million)
John McCain (R) -- 44.5% (52.8 million)
Bob Barr (L) -- 0.6% (720k)
Cynthia McKinney (G) -- 0.5% (600k)
Ralph Nader (I) -- 0.3% (400k)
Charles Baldwin (C) -- ~0.15% (200k)
Charles Jay (BTP) -- ~0.03% (25-50k)

Electoral College

Obama -- 333 electoral votes
McCain -- 205 electoral votes

Yes, I know the map below looks like hell -- I'm not an artist, I just filled in colors in a public domain image by Wikipedia author Scott5114.

Dark blue represents states won by Obama. Light blue represents "Barrbama" states -- states Obama picks up because Bob Barr takes McCain down. Red represents states won by McCain.

Final answer? No. Like I said, I may revise as things develop. You'll know I've frozen my predictions when I'm willing to bet on them. On the one hand, I still have this nagging hunch that McCain will find a way to pull it off -- but that hunch conflicts with my state-specific hunches that Obama will find a way to put Florida and Missouri in play.

NewsMax Interview: Bob Barr

"Former Georgia congressman and Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr tells Newsmax correspondent Ashley Martella why he's running for president. Hear his views on John McCain and why he dismisses criticism that he could be the spoiler in the presidential sweepstakes. He explains his reasons for turning against the Patriot Act after having voted for it while in the House of Representatives."

Monday, July 07, 2008

Pentagon to Iraqis: Guess who's still in charge?

So much for all the quacking about "freedom" and "sovereignty" and "free elections" -- the Busheviks put Nouri al-Maliki on notice that US troops will continue to occupy Iraq for as long as neoconservative cadre continues to infest the US political establishment.

New Feature: KN@PPSTER Wire Service

Short version:

I'm going to be including embedded news and commentary (fed from Voxant, at least initially -- I'm looking at other providers as well) in this blog's content stream (at least temporarily).

Long version:

- I occasionally link to interesting news stories from KN@PPSTER anyway. Monetizing that linkage will give me an incentive to do so more often (and therefore to blog more frequently). I'll probably comment on most of the stories above the embeds.

- I publish and co-edit "the freedom movement's daily newspaper" -- five days a week of political news and commentary of likely interest to libertarians, blurbed and linked. A lot of that stuff comes from the "regular" wire services ... and this embedding scheme lets me turn a dime per thousand views by linking to that stuff at one of my own sites instead of someone else's.

- I may go ahead and set up a different scheme later, where a master page (to be hosted at links out to the blog and the news/commentary embeds separately. I want to get the hang of this first.

Offhand, I expect to probably do a maximum of five stories per day -- but I'm definitely winging it here. So: Introducing the KN@PPSTER Wire Service

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The myth of the "safe district"

"Certainly, [US Representative Todd Akin, R-MO] seems as safe as any Republican can be in an otherwise bleak atmosphere for the GOP," writes Deirdre Shesgreen in today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "The 2nd Congressional District includes the high-income, reliably Republican suburbs .... Akin won the seat in 2000, squeaking through a five-way GOP primary by 56 votes and then winning easily in the general election. He has coasted to re-election ever since."

Appearances can be deceiving. Todd Akin's seat isn't nearly as "safe" at it looks.

Over the last three elections, Akin's poll performance has declined from 67.1% to 61.3% ... versus Democratic opponents who each spent less than the $5,000 FEC reporting threshold, and with third party numbers topping out at 2.1%.

Todd Akin has been losing ground versus moneyless Democrats and "paper" third party candidates for six years. So, what does 2008 look like?

As of the end of the first quarter of 2008, Democratic primary candidate Byron DeLear reported $116,000 cash on hand (most of it from his own pocket); Democrat David L. Pentland reported $65,000 on hand, most of it raised from contributors.

The Democratic "base" in the suburban St. Louis metro area is in a growth pattern, probably pushing 40%; the GOP "base" is in decline and almost certainly no longer constitutes a majority in the district; and nationwide polling says that non-"base" voters are looking hard at third party alternatives.

I've been brutally honest with my supporters, and here's my honest opinion:

No, Missouri's 2nd District won't elect a Libertarian to Congress this year. Nor will any other US House District in the nation do so.

However, a strong Libertarian campaign in my district can make a difference.

With your help, I can turn the district into a battleground.

With your support, I can force Todd Akin out for a fight. I can make him keep his money here instead of spreading it around to threatened fellow Republicans elsewhere.

Together, we can put pressure on the resurgent Democrats -- not just the candidate in this district, but the incumbents in Washington -- to live up to their rhetoric on issues like the war in Iraq and civil liberties at home. We can make them earn any seats they gain.

There's even a real possibility that we can be the "balance of power" in this district and send an incumbent home. If the election result is DeLear or Pentland 46%, Akin 44%, Knapp 10%, the story won't be that the Democrat won -- it will be that Libertarian voters made the difference.

There are voters in the district who don't want to vote for a pro-war, anti-freedom Republican ... but who won't vote for a Democrat either. We can reach those voters. We can represent those voters. We can empower those voters.

But it's going to take a little money.

I've already ordered the campaign's first batch of postcards/doorhangers. They'll be here in a few days, and will be mailed and distributed between now and the August 5th primary.

This is a critical point for the campaign. The first step is at least doubling, and hopefully quadrupling, participation in the Libertarian primary. The next step is doing the same thing in the general election. The second step will be a lot easier if the first step gets taken.

I need to have yard signs available for constituents who respond to the postcard drive. I need to have signs in front of polling places on primary day. But the money isn't there to buy them without draining the campaign bank account. I need to raise at least $500 in the next week to make this first big step happen and still be positioned to take the second step as well.

If you're looking for a time and place to make a difference, you've found it. Please point your web browser at:

... and make your best contribution today.

Yours in liberty,
Tom Knapp
Libertarian for US House of Representatives
Missouri, 2nd District

Paid for by Thomas L. Knapp for Congress -- Paula Benski, Treasurer. Approved by the candidate.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Pub plug: Ballot Access News

After years of meaning to but never getting around to it, I finally subscribed to Ballot Access News recently -- and I'm glad I did.

Why pop $14 a year for the paper version of a newsletter when you can "just read the web site?" I can think of at least two reasons specific to this newsletter:

- If you're involved in ballot access projects, or just interested in third party political prospects, the dead tree version is indispensable. So far, each successive issue has replaced the previous one in the "place for important papers" between my keyboard and monitor stand. When's the independent deadline in Tennessee? ... (crackle, crackle) ... August 21st. Can a get a third party ticket still make it onto the ballot in Rhode Island? ... (crackle, crackle) ... No, that took 18,557 signatures and was due on May 30th. I guess I may have strange interests, but trust me -- if you have BAN in front of you, you'll use it and benefit from it.

- BAN's publisher, Richard Winger, is the living authority on ballot access, and he puts his expertise at the disposal of third parties. He helps lobby and litigate for easier ballot access through the Coalition for Free and Open Elections. I've had a number of correspondences and/or conversations with him over the years. Every one of those correspondences/conversations was worth far more than the cost of a BAN subscription in terms of quantity and quality of advice ... and he's never made subscribing a pre-condition for sharing his time and knowledge.