Friday, April 30, 2010

The Libertarian Party Can't Afford Wayne Allyn Root

A month from this coming Wednesday,over Memorial Day weekend, St. Louis, Missouri will host the Libertarian Party's 2010 national convention.

The order of business for that convention includes the election of a new Libertarian National Committee: Officers (chair, vice chair, secretary, treasurer) and five at-large representatives. Regional representatives will also be selected through caucuses of the states composing the regions.

I am supporting and/or endorsing some candidates for some positions, and will probably write an "omnibus" article on those recommendations between now and the convention. This article, however, is dedicated to one candidate, and it is most manifestly not an endorsement.

My case against Wayne Allyn Root for chair is simple and consists of two claims which I invite my fellow delegates to investigate. Those two claims are as follows:

1) Wayne Allyn Root is a liar

When I say that Root lies, I don't mean that he tells inconsequential little "white lies" -- pretending that the Major League Baseball franchise of whatever city he's speaking in is his favorite or whatever. He tells big, ballsy whoppers for his own political benefit ... and he tries to cover his tracks to keep the truth from coming out.

I've specifically and irrefutably documented one of those lies. I've presented the lie itself on video, and I've presented both the still-existing evidence that it's a lie, and contemporaneous references to the parts of the evidence that he memory-holed to cover the lie up. Click here for that evidence.

Having caught Root lying once, I have to wonder what else he might be lying about. I take every statement he makes with a grain of salt. And you should too.

That includes his ... well, equivocal is the nicest way of putting it ... statements regarding his intention to seek or not to seek the Libertarian Party's 2012 presidential nomination. Click here for more on his conflicting utterances.

2) Wayne Allyn Root's record as a CEO is dubious at best

Don't trust me on this. Trust Wayne Allyn Root himself.

As CEO of W Technologies, inc., formerly Global Sports & Entertainment Inc., formerly GWIN Inc., formerly IMSCO Inc., formerly IMSCO Technologies Inc., formerly Winning Edge International, Inc., Root signed that company's filings with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Here are some high points from the company's last SEC filing, a form 15-12G ("Securities registration termination") dated October 28th, 2009:

Accumulated deficit: $29,394,197

Stockholder equity: -$936,202

From Note 2 ("Going Concern"): "The Company has no established ongoing source of revenues sufficient to cover its operating costs and allow it to continue as a going concern."

From Note 5 ("Current Portion Long-Term Debt"): "In September of 2006 the Company entered into a $655,000 short term loan with a private investor. ... As of July 31, 2009 the outstanding balance on the note was $538,520. This note is in default. ... On September 26, 2007 the Company amended the existing Laurus Master Fund, Ltd note .... As of July 31, 2009 the outstanding balance on the note was $146,728, and is in default. ... During the year ended July 31, 2007 the Company received two loans from J. Wright totalling $60,000 .... As of July 31, 2009 the outstanding balance on the note was $55,000 and is in default."

The Libertarian Party has been walking a financial tightrope for nearly a decade now.

The chair of the Libertarian National Committee is the party's Chief Executive Officer.

Is this the kind of record we're looking for in a CEO? I hope it isn't.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bleg: C4SS April fundraiser

As I've mentioned here fairly frequently, I work with the Center for a Stateless Society as its "senior news analyst."

The "senior" part means that I've been with C4SS for longer than some of the other "news analysts." The "news analyst" part means that I contribute two op-ed columns a week, for which I am compensated.

So, this is not a disinterested bleg. But I think it's a justified one. More on why after I flash the fundraiser graphic:

Two reasons (of many) why C4SS deserves your support:

- Most libertarian think tanks and policy institutes are either avowedly minarchist, or soft-pedal any anarchist tendencies, or at best keep the anarchist stuff to a minimum in their mix of offerings. C4SS is unabashedly anarchist. We put the "delenda est" in "Carthago delenda est" -- substitute any state you like for Carthage. That's a niche in the libertarian ideological eco-system that needs to be filled. We're filling it.

- In The Ethics of Liberty, Murray N. Rothbard warned the libertarian movement against "right opportunism" and "left sectarianism." One possibility he apparently didn't anticipate was that the movement would come under the sway of a curious "right sectarianism" -- a sort of reactionary fetishism. Kevin Carson (who also works with C4SS) has described one symptom of this sectarianism as "vulgar libertarianism." I've described another symptom as "bourgeois libertarianism."

To put a finer point on it, a large segment of the libertarian movement has effectively self-ghettoized itself into a niche on the political "right" in various ways, rejecting the movement's original position on, and rich history in, the political "left."

If the reactions of these ... hell, I'm tempted to call them "self-hating libertarians," but let's be polite and just go with "right libertarians" ... to C4SS is any indication, we're beginning to break down the ghetto walls.

We're articulating the "libertarian class theory" of Comte and Dunoyer; the insights of Molinari on non-state provision of "public goods;" the bankruptcy of the notion that a state-regulated, mixed industrial economy ("capitalism") is compatible with free markets.

And so on and so forth.

The howls from within the ghetto are increasing in volume, if not in coherence. Only time will tell whether the ghetto residents choose to exit the ghetto at our end (where we're busting a hole in the wall to help them escape), or at the other end (where the boxcars are waiting).

Or heck, maybe they'll convince us to come into the ghetto. I doubt it, but hey, you never know.

Either way, busting that hole in the wall is a worthy endeavor, and I hope you'll help keep us in sledgehammers, so to speak.

Monday, April 26, 2010

National Review plays catch-up

Kevin Williamson in the May 3rd edition of National Review:

Properly understood, there were no Reagan tax cuts. In 1980 federal spending was $590 billion and in 1989 it was $1.14 trillion; you don't get Reagan tax cuts without Tip O'Neill spending cuts. Looked at from the proper perspective, we haven't really had any tax cuts to speak of -- we've had tax deferrals. ... a poorly applied supply-side analysis has infantilized Republicans when it comes to the budget. They love to cut taxes but cannot bring themselves to cut spending: It's eat dessert first and leave the spinach on the table.

My description of the GOP's approach circa 2005:

I'm going to pretend to give you a tax cut, while actually simply deferring huge tax increases, so that you can hope you die before your grandchildren have to dig out of the hole I'm leaving them in.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Mark Your Calendars!

Hat tips -- AllahPundit, Dan Savage and Michael C. Moynihan.

Culture war between South Park and radical Islam? I can't draw worth a damn, but hey, I'm in.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Rogue State Alert

Via ReadWriteWeb:

North Carolina has asked online retailer to turn over the names and addresses of every customer who has made a purchase on the site since 2003 and what they bought. ... last year, the state passed a law that required retailers like Amazon to collect tax in the state if they ran marketing affiliate programs, which Amazon does. Amazon responded by shutting down Associates in N.C. ... Despite the program's shutdown, N.C. wants to find ways to collect back taxes on sales that took place before the law went into effect.

So the state government shuts down a bazillion small (in most cases very small) businesses that bring money into North Carolina, part of which is even captured in sales taxes and such when it's spent locally.

Then those same politicians want the company that made those small businesses possible in the first place to violate its customers' privacy so that it can engage in a little ex post facto looting.

Fortunately, Amazon also sells the hardware for dealing with contingencies like this. Shame nobody in North Carolina can collect the sales commissions on it.

In a nation ruled by swine, all pigs are upward-mobile — and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: Not necessarily to Win, but mainly to keep from Losing Completely. We owe that to ourselves and our crippled self-image as something better than a nation of panicked sheep ... but we owe it especially to our children, who will have to live with our loss and all its long-term consequences. -- Hunter S. Thompson

Monday, April 19, 2010

Title win!

Quoth William Saletan at Slate:

Sarah Palin thinks Barack Obama is a wimp. She's been going around to Tea Party rallies, invoking the spirit of revolutionary Boston and castigating Obama for failing to exalt American power and punish our adversaries. She seems blissfully unaware that the imperial arrogance she's preaching isn't how the American founders behaved. It's how the British behaved, and why they lost. Palin represents everything the original Tea Party was against.

True as far as it goes (but not the whole story; let's not pretend that Barack Obama has failed to shoulder -- reluctantly perhaps, but dutifully and with no apparent sense of irony -- The White Man's Burden).

But the real gold is in the title -- a neologism which I hope grows legs:


Sunday, April 18, 2010

"Burnham 3:16 says I just fooled your ass"

Jacob Weisberg extends and revises his perpetual lamentation on the causes of ineffectual government:

If Responsible Republicans are in fact nearing extinction, I think we can identify the crucial event that signaled their demise. It was a December 1993 memo by conservative strategist and commentator William Kristol. Kristol's advice about how Republicans should respond to Bill Clinton's 1993 health care effort -- and a series of follow-up memos he wrote in 1994 -- pushed the GOP away from cooperation with Democrats on any social and economic legislation. His message marks the pivotal moment when Republicans shifted from fundamentally responsible partners in governing the country to uncompromising, hyperpartisan antagonists on all issues.

What Weisberg is missing here is that all this theater is exactly that -- theater.

Politics in the modern American one-party (disguised as two-party) state is the functional equivalent of professional wrestling.

The Republican Party prefers to play the heel faction, and who can blame them? It's a lot more fun to chase your opponent around the outside of the ring with a folding chair than to just, you know, pin him or something.

Also, the babyfaces are expected to stay "good" after they win their belts, and that's just a drag.

In any case, at the end of the match (or, in some cases, a longer dramatic cycle) the outcome inevitably emerges according to the Managerial Consensus script. These guys all get their paychecks from the same bosses.

A movie marketing no-brainer

I admit it: I've never seen Wall Street. Always meant to, never got around to it. The only thing I know about the movie is that Gordon Gekko says "greed is good," a saying that's worked its way into American culture in various ways.

Now I hear that a sequel -- Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps -- is set for release this September, and I'm ready to watch the original.

But it's not available from Netflix as a streaming title.

Amazon Video on Demand, yes. Netflix streaming, no.

If I was the maker of this new movie, I'd want to get the old one in front of as many people as possible, including me.

I'm not going to buy it on DVD. I'm on a "quit bringing permanent space-consuming stuff into the house" kick.

I'm not going to pay Amazon $2.99 to watch it when I'm already paying Netflix a monthly fee for unlimited streaming of thousands of other titles (I think the number was 17,000 and climing last time I noticed).

Maybe I'll add the DVD to my Netflix queue. Maybe I'll get around to seeing it before the sequel debuts, and maybe I'll like it enough to pony up for a theater ticket to see that sequel on the big screen.

Maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe I'll just keep watching whatever looks good in my Netflix streaming queue, and pretty much forget about Wall Street because seeing it isn't as easy as waving the Wii-mote at my TV screen and watching something else.

I don't know what the process is for getting a movie into Netflix streaming, but if I was producing a sequel for the big screen, I'd put getting the original onto as many small screens as possible at the top of my "to do" list. I'm just sayin' ...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

New Project: The Sedition Trust

Ever since I first read F. Paul Wilson's An Enemy of the State (and that was many years ago), I've been intrigued by the idea of the "Sedition Trust."

In the novel, the trust is a long-term endowment on the part of the Kyfho ("Keep Your F---ing Hands Off") sect, the purpose of which is to seed the known universe with the ideas of anarchism.

The recent low-key kerfuffle over left-statist columnist Sara Robinson's claim that right-wing statists are engaged in "sedition in slow motion" (you can read my take on that claim at the Center for a Stateless Society) got me thinking about the whole Sedition Trust concept again. I see that I'm not the only one who regrets the non-existence of such a project. Joseph Stromberg voiced a specific iteration of that regret 10 years ago:

There are continuity and discontinuity in the anti-war tradition. Unhappily, no one thought -- two centuries ago -- to set up a Sedition Trust like that in Paul Wilson’s novel, or even a George Washington's Farewell Address Society, to provide continued intellectual leadership for the cause.

Well, it's never too late to address the need, is it? But I'm going to throw some of my own ideas (not necessarily improvements, but divergences at any rate) into the mix.

Instead of a centralized endowment, let's go with a de-centralized collaboration. I'm starting it off with a Facebook page and a "category" tag on this blog. Rather than thinking of those two things as a functional "headquarters," I'm hoping that they'll serve as connection points for interested people to find each other. By all means, feel free to set up your own nodes if you want to be part of this thing -- the whole point is that you don't need anyone's permission. The more distributed the thing is, the harder it will be to shut down.

Instead of a single publishing operation, a formal distribution network, etc., this Sedition Trust will hopefully be composed of multiple ad hoc projects pursued by those who come up with them.

The prototype project I'm thinking of goes something like this:

You notice that there's an event coming up that represents an opportunity for, or a neighborhood that seems primed for, some preaching of the anti-state gospel.

So, you set a goal ("let's distribute 100 copies of Thoreau's Civil Disobedience at the Greater East Armpint, NJ gun show!").

Then you invite others to participate -- perhaps a ChipIn Widget to raise money for the purchase of books, a Facebook event page to get people together for the pass'em out action, etc.

Then you get it done. Then you move on to the next opportunity.

Meanwhile, others are doing similar things in other places.

That's my version of the Sedition Trust. Feel free to join it, or to create your own.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Strawman Takedown Digression

Every once in awhile, it's worth taking time to permanently dispose of an argument which has precisely zero merit, but which pops up frequently (usually in "shorthand title" format so that its weakness isn't immediately visible each time it's used).

The shorthand title strawman I'm going to take down this time is "silo abandonment."

"The abolitionist," writes Murray Rothbard, "is a 'button pusher' who would blister his thumb pushing a button that would abolish the State immediately, if such a button existed. But the abolitionist also knows that alas, such a button does not exist, and that he will take a bit of the loaf if necessary – while always preferring the whole loaf if he can achieve it."

That's one quote of many on the subject, by the way. The whole "button" thing apparently started with a remark by Lawrence Leonard Read, concerning wage and price controls, in the 1940s; Rothbard took it to its logical anarchist conclusion.

In purported reply to all of which Robert Capozzi sniffs:

All coercion ends tomorrow. There is no national defense, no police, no courts. Further, there is no way to enforce contracts, save individuals taking matters into their own hands. All transit systems stop. All airline travel stops, for there is no air traffic control. Most water and sewage systems stop. Street lights go off. Nuclear missile silos are abandoned, or commandeered.


Silo abandonment is the most extreme implication of [the Non-Aggression Principle] I can think of. Those who staff the nuclear silos are paid in "stolen" dollars, therefore those positions should be abolished and the silos abandoned.

There's a lot wrong with Capozzi's replies (not least, the fact that he ignores millennia of existence proofs of, and a century-and-a-half of scholarly literature on, the fact that defense, police, courts, contract enforcement, transit, travel, and water service can be provided for sans state), but I'm going to stick to "silo abandonment" here because it's the argument he seems to consider most compelling. Suggest any measure that cuts the size, scope or power of government to a non-trivial degree rather than simply empowering "serious" "pragmatists" to feel that they've contributed a new twist to the Rube Goldberg Theory of Governance, and Bob will immediately blister his thumb keying the "silo abandonment!" macro he's apparently set up on his PC.

His use of "silo abandonment" as an argument against abolitionism, the Non-Aggression Principle, the hypothetical Button What Disappears the State, etc., is a strawman. Let's run his hypothesis through some skeptical examination. Hypothetically:

You're one of the members of the military team controlling a Launch Control Center or its associate Launch Control Facility for Minuteman ICBMs.

One morning you're kicking back, sipping coffee and watching CNN before your rotation on whatever duty you have, when the BREAKING NEWS logo appears and some talking head pops on to inform you that the US government no longer exists.

Why? How? Who cares? Maybe Congress unanimously voted to permanently adjourn and the President said "screw you guys, I'm going home." Maybe some unidentified enemy spiked the ink at the federal paycheck-printing center with a powerful but non-human-to-human-contagious virus and all government employees who aren't isolated at a missile facility are now dead. Doesn't really matter. The state's gone, and there you are in your little room.

So, what are you going to do? Most people think that if the state disappears, society will fall into carnage and chaos. I doubt it, but let's assume you think that.

You can:

a) Try to hitch-hike to Minot, North Dakota on your own;

b) Hang out with your well-armed friends behind a set of blast doors, nibbling away at a food stockpile that will probably last you several years (having been designed to sustain you after a balls-out missile exchange with the Russkies), while the world falls to pieces everywhere else.

You can:

a) Strike out with nothing and hope to make it from scratch in this brave new world of chaos; or

b) Hold on to the $7 million missile, warhead of unknown but probably large value, and millions of dollars worth of associated equipment which the vanishing state has abandoned to your care and de facto ownership until someone happens along who wants to buy it (and probably rent your services to maintain/operate it).

In Bob Capozzi's world, you're ... well ... stupid. Before the ring of "no more state" has cleared your ears, you've abandoned safety and security for unknown risk, and you've thrown away potential wealth, preferring actual poverty. And not just you, but the entire LCC/LCF crew. Not one of you has the brains to pour piss out of a boot with instructions written on the heel.

In the real world (even a real world with a "make the state disappear" button), highly unlikely.

For one thing, I'm betting you made it through at least third grade before the Air Force handed you the keys to an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. You're probably able to figure out for yourself that if things really are going to shit outside, it's better to stick with a food stash, some blast doors, an M-16 and some friends than go with the backpack and "Boise or Bust" sign. And you're probably able to figure out that if things aren't going to shit outside, your current situation is still likely better than going solo (for one thing, what if the reports are wrong -- court martial for Absence Without Leave!).

For another, your presence on this particular crew indicates that you're the kind of person who's got a group loyalty thing going. Anybody who's willing to live like a mole in a hole in the middle of nowhere to babysit a government rocket probably isn't the "walking away at the first opportunity" type.

So, what else ya got, Bob?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Podcast recommendation

If you're interested in the history of the libertarian movement -- a niche not especially well-covered in print, although Brian Doherty's Radicals for Capitalism is a good start -- you're going to love Jeff Riggenbach's new podcast series, The Libertarian Tradition.

Each week, Riggenbach (courtesy of the Ludwig von Mises Institute) offers a life/work overview of a movement figure or figures -- including some who, if not forgotten, are almost certainly under-valued in the present day. The podcasts can be streamed in Silverlight or downloaded as MP3s. Check'em out.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

McCain v. Hayworth

If John McCain had gone after Barack Obama the way he goes after JD Hayworth, he'd be POTUS today.

Hat tip -- The P/Oed Patriot [sic].

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Friday, April 09, 2010

Exit Stevens

Associate US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has notified the White House of his intention to retire, having publicly mulled the idea for awhile.

His replacement? That's always the $64 question, isn't it?

Is there anyone President Obama could nominate and not have the GOP all up on his ass about it? I don't think so -- although it would be fun to listen to a few weeks of Republican griping about "that communist, Robert Bork" or "that hippie, Andrew Napolitano."

I suspect he'll pick a woman. There are two on the court at the moment, but Ginsburg's health has been going downhill for awhile; eventually there will be a 5-4 gender mix on the court, and I'm sure he'd like to be the guy who keeps pushing it in that direction.

He'll probably pick a sitting or former judge, and almost certainly a lawyer, even though there's no legal requirement that he do so.

The smart money is on Solicitor General Elena Kagan, but he'd be better off holding her in reserve as a compromise after his first appointee gets knocked around the ring.

The way I see it, he might as well go for broke first -- take the initiative, put the thing into circus mode from the git-go at his instigation instead of on the Republicans' timetable, let the Republicans throw their tantrum, then walk it back.

The sacrificial lamb I have in mind is an Associate Professor of Law at Northwestern University School of Law and Director of Northwestern's Children and Family Justice Center. She's passed the New York and Illinois bar exams, but doesn't hold a license to practice law. She's a well-known and thoroughly vetted public figure (the subject of books and documentary films, even), and her husband is well-known as a Friend of Barack.

How's that for an attempt to overload the GOP's outrage breakers?

Monday, April 05, 2010

Murder Most Foul

There's simply no other way to describe it. Even setting aside the illegality of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, these killers violated their own rules of engagement (here's a card [PDF]; here's a flowchart [PDF]) in the initial engagement -- then, in cold blood, gunned down unarmed civilians and children as they attempted to evacuate the wounded.

See the Collateral Murder web site for more information -- and support WikiLeaks, the site that outed this atrocity despite the best attempts of the Bush and Obama gangs to keep it under wraps.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

A Tale of Two Waynes?

Wayne Allyn Root, February 14th, 2010:

“People ask me: "You're running for national Chair, will you run for President in 2012?' Let me give you an honest answer: I think this party right now is too disorganized to ever do well in a presidential election. And I don't think, until I can get elected chairman and build it and organize it and be CEO of this party for a few years, I don't think it’s worth it running for president, or senator, or anything else -- you'll get 1% of the vote. I want to seriously run for president, after I’ve been national Chair, in 2016, after I've built this party, and we really are structured and organized, and I have a chance to actually get 5, 10, 15 million votes.

That statement occurs at about 4 minutes, 30 seconds into this video, taken at the California Libertarian Party's 2010 state convention.

[hat tips -- Independent Political Report and California Freedom]

Wayne Allyn Root, date as yet undetermined:

I'm the Libertarian vice-presidential candidate, be the presidential candidate in 2012, and hope to be the Ross Perot of 2012.

Later in the same video ...

I was the vice-presidential nominee in 2008. I plan to be the presidential nominee in 2012.

The video above was uploaded to YouTube on March 29th, a month and a half after the California LP convention speech.

I've written to the video's creator to find out when the interview took place. It's possible that that was before the California convention speech -- possible, but not likely, and certainly not long before that speech.

How can I know that? Simple: In the interview, Wayne references the financial collapse of Greece, and he does so in a tone that indicates he expects the viewer to know what he's talking about. While there have been low-key rumblings about Greece's debt load and economy for years, the matter didn't become a major news story until late February or early March of 2010.

So, is Wayne Allyn Root running for the Libertarian Party's 2012 presidential nomination or not? There seem to two extant, mutually exclusive answers to the question floating around out there ... and unfortunately Wayne himself can't be trusted to answer the question truthfully.

Apple to Adobe: Flash is the weakest link, buh-bye

The New York Times is going to HTML 5.

Contra the linked article, Google won't be running Flash 5 trials on YouTube in the future -- they already are (I've been enrolled in the beta program for some time).

One commenter believes that HTML 5 won't supplant Flash until Windows users substantially ditch MSIE 8. I'm thinking it's the other way around: If Microsoft wants to remain a major browser player, it had better get MSIE 9 out the door most ricky-tick before all its customers wander off to Chrome, Firefox, Opera, etc., never to return.