Thursday, March 31, 2016

Election 2012: Johnson Switches Tracks from Islamophobia to Cake Slavery

From the Fox Business preview of a debate between Gary Johnson, John McAfee and Austin Petersen (three of the also-rans trying desperately to wrest the Libertarian Party's 2016 presidential nomination from the hands of its rightful recipient, Darryl W. Perry):

"I think that if you discriminate on the basis of religion, I think that is a black hole," Johnson said. "I think you should be able to discriminate for stink or you're not wearing shoes or whatever. If we discriminate on the basis of religion, to me, that's doing harm to a big class of people."

When Austin Petersen, one of Johnson's opponents in the forum, asked the former governor if a Jewish baker should be required to bake a Nazi wedding cake, he said: "That would be my contention, yes."

There's really only one word for this guy:

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/31/16

This week's AMA thread, and the podcast to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

Yes, running late with the thread -- and no blogging this week since the podcast, either. Sorry about that -- I've taken up some new duties for one of my clients. They shouldn't be a huge burden once I'm used to them, but it's pretty much taking me all week to get used to them. So, the usual:

  • Ask me anything -- anything! -- in the comment thread below this post; and
  • I'll answer in the comment thread, on this weekend's podcast, or both.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 72: Tibor Machan, RIP

This episode of the KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:
  • Thanks For Asking! (The Darryl Perry sex tapes and my time machine failure of imagination);
  • Tibor Machan, RIP

Show links:

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Ted Cruz-Gary Johnson Connection ... And it Ain't Pretty

For some time, inquiring minds have wanted to know: What's up with Gary Johnson versus TEH MOOOSLIMS?

On the day he announced his 2016 presidential campaign, he made it a point to tell no fewer than three reporters in three different interviews that as president he would sign legislation to ban burqas. He semi-retracted that the next day, pretending that he'd only said it once and in answer to a question and throwing out some "burqas are bad because Muslims can beat their wives" weirdness (he's still doing that, as you'll see in the video below). But it pretty clearly was something that had been on his mind for some time, that he wanted to talk about, and that he thought would be a good lead-in to another presidential campaign.

Since then, whenever Islam or Muslims come up in his public appearances and debates, he goes into a weird sort of glossolalia, spouting weird stuff about "sharia law" as if he knows what it is and has done some kind of hard policy thinking about its implications. It's pretty obviously that he doesn't and hasn't, as he made abundantly clear in Pennsylvania last weekend when a Muslim debate moderator asked him some basic questions on the topic:

Will Coley of Muslims4Liberty has, for obvious reasons, been following this matter with some interest. "I've been watching Gary since we first met in 2010," says Coley in an email exchange with yours truly. "He seemed a rather calm and rational fellow, we did a couple events together, and that was about it. This year however I noticed a troubling trend, of Gary adopting some of the right's more insane rhetoric, particularly in the area of Muslim and Middle Eastern policy."

On closer examination, Coley connects Johnson's focus on -- and complete disconnect from reality with respect to -- Muslims to one person: Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. of the Center for Security Policy.

I think Coley may be on to something.

In his keynote address at last October's FreedomFest NYC, Johnson bragged that he's "shariah-phobic" -- a term associated for years, both positively and negatively, with Gaffney.

When challenged on his knowledge of sharia, Johnson urges debate audiences to "Google sharia versus the Constitution." Give it a try. The first link such a search brings up is to a PDF from Gaffney's Center for Security Policy. The next three top links all cite Gaffney and/or CSP. In the debate video above, Johnson basically just ticks through Gaffney's talking points in that paper.

So, does the name Frank Gaffney ring any bells? If you just can't place him, here's a little help:

Ted Cruz on Monday night defended his decision to include an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist on his foreign policy team.

"Frank Gaffney is a serious thinker who has been focused on fighting jidahists, fighting jihadism across the globe," Cruz said of the Center for Security Policy founder.

How serious is Gaffney as a thinker?

Well, he claims that both "conservatarian" anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and Hillary Clinton adviser Huma Abedin are secret agents of the Muslim Brotherhood.

And that the US Missile Defense Agency's logo "appears ominously to reflect a morphing of the Islamic crescent and star with the Obama campaign logo" as an "act of submission to Sharia by President Obama and his team."

And that Barack Obama may be a Kenyan-born Indonesian Muslim.

In other words, cuckoo for Coco Puffs[TM] in a big way.

I'm can't say I'm surprised that he's advising Ted Cruz on national security.

But I'm somewhat dismayed that he's also a Libertarian presidential candidate's chief source of information on a major world religion, so much so that Johnson seems to have either had the bejabbers scared out of him and become completely deranged like a character in a Lovecraft story, or else thinks that he's onto a gimmick he can use to get Libertarians to hide under our beds and write checks to his campaign committee.

My Latest Political Bet

I decided to get out of my Joe Biden positions at PredictIt. As you may or may not remember, I reported to you awhile back that I had invested $10 in Biden -- 100 shares, purchased at five cents per share, of Biden to be the Democratic nominee, and 250 shares, purchased at 2 cents per share, of Biden to win the November presidential election (these shares can be bought and sold right up until a deadline near the specific event; when the event takes place they pay off at a buck per share if you're right, you lose your money if you're wrong).

Last week, I sold the 250 "Biden is elected president" shares for 3 cents each, turning my $5 into $7.50 (minus a quarter in fees).

Today, I sold the 100 "Biden is the nominee" shares for 4 cents each, taking a $1 loss.

I did both more out of boredom than anything. I've been checking my PredictIt portfolio pretty much every day and things never seemed to swing more than about that much in either direction, so time to move on with a $1.25 net gain -- 12.5% in 2 1/2 months.

I just invested $10.92 in 14 shares of "Sanders to win the Hawaii caucus" at 78 cents. Sure, that will just make me a little less than three bucks after fees, but from where I'm sitting it looks like a pretty good bet. And if I'm right I'll be up 40% instead of 12.5%.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Tibor R. Machan, 1939-2016

Tibor R. Machan, 2006Overnight, my Facebook feed started displaying notices that Tibor Machan has died. Assuming those notices are true -- and I have no particular reason to believe they aren't, even though I've been unable to confirm them via news stories, etc. -- the world is a little less bright and a little less wise this morning.

I don't remember when I first "met" Dr. Machan (yes, Dr. -- he always told me I didn't have to call him that, but he did earn a Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of California -- Santa Barbara), but he was one of the first libertarian philosophers I noticed after my youthful infatuation with Ayn Rand. We corresponded on and off for years, usually when one of us felt the need to disagree with the other and hash some topic out (one of the great things about him was that he took time to do that with me and, I assume, others). I hosted his blog from 2009-2014, although near the end of that time he had started migrating his new essays elsewhere for reasons he never mentioned. He contributed generously to Rational Review News Digest.

His life story is insanely inspirational -- he was born in Hungary just before the outbreak of World War II. When he was 14, his father (who, IIRC, leaned hard right, maybe even to the extent of collaborating with the Nazis during the war) hired a smuggler to get him out of the country; he arrived in the US at 17. Within a decade, he had a college degree. Within a decade-and-a-half he had three college degrees and went in with some others to buy a libertarian newsletter called Reason, which he edited for two years.

And that was just for starters.

If you never bothered to acquaint yourself with Tibor R. Machan while he was alive, you missed out. But all is not lost. He wrote, edited or otherwise contributed to a stack of worthwhile books and he has essays scattered all over the web.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Maundy Thursday Musing

Who was Jesus' most loyal disciple?

Matthew 26, verses 20 thru 25:

20 Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.

21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?

23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.

24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.

25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.

John 13, verses 21 thru 28:

21 When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

22 Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake.

23 Now there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.

24 Simon Peter therefore beckoned to him, that he should ask who it should be of whom he spake.

25 He then lying on Jesus' breast saith unto him, Lord, who is it?

26 Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon.

27 And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.

28 Now no man at the table knew for what intent he spake this unto him.

Try reading those two sections absent the supernatural overtones it's tempting to read into them or to buy as built into the narrative -- possession by Satan, prophecy by Jesus, etc. What remains is a leader assigning a really, really dirty job, but one that had to be done, to one of his followers. And he did it, even knowing that as a result he'd go down in his sect's history as the definitive traitor.

The rest of the disciples weren't even sufficiently dedicated to stay awake and keep watch at Gethsemane.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Grinds My Gears: "Work"

I subscribe to Writer's Digest magazine. If you write, and especially if you write for money, doing so is a worthwhile investment (about ten bucks a year for the digital edition) in maintaining and improving your craft.

Like most publications, Writer's Digest has "partners." That is, advertisers. And in the information age that means more than just each page consisting of 3/4 content and 1/4 display ads. It means I get email.

In particular I get email -- nearly, if not actually, every day -- from something called American Writers & Artists, Inc.  AWAI constantly tries to sell me their magazine (Barefoot Writer), their courses on copywriting, etc. I almost fell for one of their pitches some time back, but after spending some time checking out reviews, I became convinced that they are essentially a "writer niche" version of a get rich quick scheme. Buy one thing from them, they're back a week later with the "next level" that this time will actually have all the good stuff in it that you thought you were buying last time. Like that.

Here's the subject line of an AWAI email I received this morning:

Thomas, want to quit work and get paid to write?

Wow. Just ... wow!

I'm supposed to believe that these people are the living experts on how to make a living as a writer. At the same time, I'm supposed to believe that writing isn't "work." Writing is lying on a méridienne eating bonbons and occasionally randomly pecking away on a laptop and checking my ever-increasing bank balance while an expensive dog, or perhaps an expensive mistress, hovers nearby to hang adoringly on my every move.

If only.

Trade secret time. I probably shouldn't even consider sharing this with you, lest I face severe sanctions from my comrades in the Super-Secret Cabal of Writer Types. But I'm going to anyway.

Writing is work.

Not back-breaking work like digging ditches (which I've done).

Not, for the most part, on the same plane of intellectual effort as nuclear physics (which I've not done).

But definitely, beyond doubt, work.

Especially if one bothers to do it well.

That is all.

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/23/16

This week's AMA thread, and the podcast to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

How it works:

  • Got a question? Ask me! Just ask anything (anything!) in the comment thread below this post.
  • I'll answer your question in the comment thread, or on this weekend's podcast, or both.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Cool Show, But a Bit of Disinformation

On yesterday's "Freedom Works" -- the Paul Molloy Show, on WTAN 1340 AM in Tampa, Florida, Libertarian National Committee political director Carla Howell appears and discusses the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination race with Paul. Nicely done, and you should give it a listen.

But there is one problem with one piece of information Carla shares.

In describing the nomination process, she says that delegates to the Libertarian National Convention are free to vote their conscience -- that is, to support whichever candidate they think best -- unless their state parties have passed measures requiring them to support a particular candidate on the first ballot.

That's incorrect. The Libertarian National Convention rules explicitly prohibit the "unit rule" under which delegates are bound as a group to vote a certain way. Every delegate is free to vote for his or her choice of presidential candidate on every ballot.

Just wanted to get that out there.

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Question That REALLY Bugs Me

I've had no fewer than two people suggest to me today that if anyone did indeed access the dark web child porn site "Play Pen" from the Free Talk Live studio's computers, the claim used to justify a raid on said studio, their prime suspect is Christopher Cantwell.

I can't say I disagree. That's the first name that popped into my head, too.

But if so, I'm wondering whether he did it because he's a perv, or because he works for someone. Perhaps someone in Washington. Because I've heard both those things suggested, too. And not just lately.

I suppose it could be both.

My Presidential Endorsement: The Text Version

Heavily edited and cleaned up from the audio version (beginning at about 12 minutes in to this week's podcast):

I admit that I was first stuck on None of the Above in my preferences for the 2016 Libertarian presidential nomination, primarily because I expected a "coronation" of Gary Johnson. I didn't necessarily believe that NOTA could win, but I thought that we could get more media coverage of the opposition to Johnson by having NOTA pull 30-35% of the delegate vote than by having some other candidate lose to Johnson.

I've become convinced that NOTA does not and will not enjoy that level of support. I'm still opposed to Gary Johnson, and I'll go into why there are candidates I can't support below, but first:

I endorse Darryl W. Perry for the Libertarian Party's 2016 presidential nomination, and for election to the office of President of the United States.

Disclaimer: Darryl is the primary sponsor of The KN@PP Stir Podcast, but that is not why I am endorsing him. In fact, I specifically told him that a sponsorship didn't buy an endorsement, and of course he didn't expect it to. He's not that kind of guy. He sponsors the podcast because he supports my work. It is reasonable to think, and I freely admit, that having known and worked with Darryl for many years does contribute to my reasons for endorsing him. All that said ...

I endorse Darryl, to begin with, from a simple premise: If the Libertarian Party is going to run a presidential candidate in 2016, it should run a libertarian candidate. And Darryl is a libertarian.

Depending on how big your definition of the libertarian tent is, you might also classify some of the other candidates as libertarians, and I won't contest that classification. But if we're going to talk about which candidate is most libertarian -- if we tick through the Libertarian Party's platform and Statement of Principles -- none of the other candidates is even in Darryl's league when it comes to representing what our party stands for. It's just that simple.

Secondly: Darryl speaks well. He acquits himself well in debate. He can defend libertarian positions. I believe that he will represent our party well on television and especially on radio, as he is a long-time co-host of one of the top talk radio shows in America, Free Talk Live, which ranks 38th on Talkers magazine's 2015 "Heavy 100" list and runs on more than 170 stations worldwide.

He has a good speaking voice. He knows how to use it. He knows how to debate. He knows how to argue. He knows how to present libertarian positions in an understandable, attractive and euphonious manner.

Hands down, Darryl is a good candidate.

Now, let's look at the other candidates.

The elephant in the room -- literally -- is Gary Johnson, former Republican governor of New Mexico. Governor Johnson defrauded the Libertarian Party.

In 2012, one of the issues hovering over his campaign for the LP's nomination was his campaign debt, which he reported to the FEC as $152,000, characterized as manageable, and told the party it could get him a government welfare check (FEC "matching funds") to defray. He lied. We nominated. Months later, after the nomination and after the general election, he amended his FEC report for April of 2012. His actual debt as of that time, it turns out, was $1.078 million, not $152,000. His 2012 campaign remains $1.4 million in debt and his "repayment" proposal is to just screw some of his creditors and "pay" others with uses of his mailing list.

Governor Johnson is horrible on media. He comes off like a young Rodney Dangerfield who isn't funny. He looks embarrassed, he looks tense, he looks sweaty, he has trouble talking ... he's not much of a mediagenic candidate.

And then of course there's his tax plan, the "Fair" Tax, which calls for every man, woman and child in the United States to be put on a federal government welfare check for life (the "prebate" scam). Not very libertarian. So scratch Gary Johnson.

Then we have Austin Petersen, who openly repudiates the Non-Aggression Principle, which is the Libertarian Party's lodestar, embodied in its Statement of Principles. You even have to certify to become a member of the LP that you do not advocate the initiation of force to achieve social or political goals. I just don't see how we can nominate a candidate who openly says he opposes what we stand for and expect anyone to take us seriously for any reason. So scratch Austin Petersen.

Then we have the back of the pack -- the various weirdos who show up wanting our nomination, like Derrick Michael Reid, who posts photos of himself in an 1870s US Army cavalry uniform, advocates having 10-year-olds view public executions so they grow up right, and insists that if we nominate him he'll sweep all 50 states in November. Yeah ... enough about those guys.

That leaves us with two.

One is Dr. Marc Alan Feldman. He's a good guy. I like him. He's been a Libertarian Party activist for several years. He's run for office as a Libertarian. I don't agree with all of his positions, I don't find him an especially dynamic speaker, etc., but if the Libertarian Party nominates him I think I can live with that. I don't find him embarrassing, anyway.

John McAfee, I believe, is our best bet for lots of media, lots of coverage, lots of attention. He seems to be a fairly solid libertarian. He has some deviations -- for example, he wants to create a new government "Office of Digital Transformation" to cover cyber war issues which I don't agree with -- but they're not nearly as bad as Johnson's "Fair" Tax hooey and weird obsession with sharia law and so forth. If McAfee is the nominee, I can support him, promote him, work for him if he needs my help, and vote for him in November.

But still: It all comes down to who is the best candidate.

When I go to Orlando as a delegate to the 2016 Libertarian National Convention and it comes time to decide who will represent the Libertarian Party on the national stage this summer and fall, I will proudly and unapologetically cast my first ballot, and any subsequent ballots until he wins or is eliminated from contention, for Darryl W. Perry. He's that good, both objectively and by comparison to the other choices we have.

If you intend to be a delegate, or if you know some delegates and believe they value your opinion, I encourage you to take a closer look at Darryl and throw your support behind his candidacy and campaign.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 71: My Presidential Endorsement, Among Other Things

This episode of the KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:
  • Thanks for Asking! (libraries, journalism credentials, Libertarian Party stuff, Tom Paine and Hulk Hogan);
  • Why I Support Darryl W. Perry for President;
  • The FBI raids Free Talk Live's studio.
Show Notes:

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Podcast Delays

I seem to be having Internet issues tonight. That doesn't mean skipping this week's podcast entirely (at least I don't think it does), but it's just not quite coming together tonight. Sorry about that.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Got to Admit It's Getting Better

I'm watching the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania's presidential candidate debate via livestream. Something happened a few minutes ago that I don't think I've ever seen before:

The candidates were asked to state their opinions on "intellectual property."

Of the four candidates participating, two -- Darryl W. Perry and Dr. Marc Allan Feldman -- came out as opposed to the whole stupid idea.

One -- Gary Johnson -- waffled but at least called for cutting down on the practice of the state granting monopoly privileges over ideas.

Only one of the four actually supported "intellectual property." Unsurprisingly, that one was patent attorney Derrick Michael Reid, who also supports forcing ten-year-olds to watch public hangings and thinks he can win all 50 states in November if nominated.

So, two against, one partly against, and one batshit insane.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/16/16

This week's AMA thread, and the podcast to follow, are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

Ask me anything -- ANYTHING! -- in the comment thread below this post and I'll answer in comments, on this weekend's podcast, or both.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Grinds My Gears

Lots of similar headlines, all with the one word in them:

Hacker Pleads Guilty to Stealing Celebrity Nude Photos

Nope nope nope nope nope.

He actually pleaded guilty to "a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and to one count of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information."

And he didn't STEAL anything. He COPIED some stuff. There's a difference.

Sic semper evello mortem tyrannis?

Today, US Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio (with help from some other members of their club) are attempting to figuratively do unto Donald Trump in Florida, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina and Ohio what Marcus Junius Brutus the Younger et. al literally did unto Julius Caesar in Rome 1,972 years ago.

It occurs to me that in a more sane world, the Ides of March would be a beloved international holiday and that consequently there might be fewer aspirants to such power.

Monday, March 14, 2016

PSA: Why the Fight Over Encryption is Important

Not that I have to tell you ("you" being the probably incredibly technologically competent average KN@PPSTER reader) that.

But still, on the off chance that you just don't really GET the whole FBI vs. Apple thing, I think John Oliver does a pretty damn good job of explaining it while keeping it all funny and interesting. And hey, it can't hurt my traffic to have John Oliver hanging about. So:

Preach it, Brother Caplan!

Bryan Caplan on "The Microaggressions of Immigration":

The microaggression label is narrowly tied to leftist identity politics. Support for the concept, however, is far broader. With the possible exception of Mormons, what group doesn't leap at the chance to decry the slightest of slights? On-campus, of course, we usually hear about straight cisgendered white males committing racist, sexist, homophobic, and transphobic microaggressions. Off-campus, however, I see a totally different pattern: Natives lamenting the microaggressions immigrants commit against our national identity.

The most obvious case: Americans routinely grouse when immigrants publicly speak languages other than English. They get even more annoyed when they have to "press 1 for English" on an ATM machine or customer service menu. Offending Americans is the furthest thing from the immigrants' minds; they're just going about their business. But natives take offense anyway: "In America, we speak English!"

Which of course, leads to a YouTube video that I never tire of embedding:

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 70: The Libertarian Party Can't Afford Gary Johnson Again

This episode of the KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (does Nick Gillespie support free speech zones?);
  • Why the Libertarian Party can't afford to nominate Gary Johnson for president again.

Show notes:

Friday, March 11, 2016

Some Thoughts on Traveling

The 2004 election cycle burned me out on doing a lot of travel. Tamara was running for the LP's vice-presidential nomination and for Congress, which meant going to a number of state conventions, the national convention, campaign events, working for the Badnarik campaign even after she was defeated for VP, etc.

In our old Ford Aerostar van, we traveled with a five-year-old and a three-year old from St. Louis to (I'm going by memory here and may miss some spots) Kansas City, Tulsa, Chicago, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Hot Springs, Chattanooga, Atlanta, Hannibal (Missouri), Hermann (Missouri), other spots in Missouri, and Austin. All of those except Indianapolis and Cincinnati, which we did on the same weekend, were separate trips.

Since then, the only really long trips I recall making were a van ride with a bunch of Georgians from St. Louis to Denver and back, then the drive down from St. Louis to Gainesville when we moved at the end of 2012. And since that last one, until this week I hadn't gone more than about 50 miles from Gainesville. I can't say that I really wanted to, either. Not that I didn't want to see new places, but getting to those places just seemed like more trouble than it's worth. Until Ken Willey, chair of the Clay County Libertarian Party, invited me to their monthly meeting.

Jacksonville and Orange Park aren't much farther than 50 miles, but on the trip up there I took a longer bus route because I figured I'd rather sit on a moving bus all day than arrive seven hours before the event (I attended the Clay County, Florida Libertarian Party's monthly meeting) than arrive in Orange Park at noon and either sit there for seven hours or expect Ken to entertain me all day. So I took Greyhound from Gainesville to Ocala, then Ocala to Orlando, then Orlando to Jacksonville, then a local bus to Orange Park. Eight hours. And it was kind of fun.

Thanks, by the way, to Ken (who picked me up at the bus drop-off and took me to the meeting) and to Darcy Richardson (who came to the meeting, then arranged for lodging in Jacksonville so that I could sleep in a bed instead of at the Greyhound depot). I had a great time and I appreciate all the work I put you two to.

So now, I've kind of got the travel bug back. I'm starting to think of places I'd like to go and excuses to go to those places. Which, as you can probably figure out, means "think of something cool that libertarians would like well enough to finance."

So I'm thinking. If anyone has any ideas, let me know. Speaking engagements, maybe? Some kind of campaign for political or party office? Personal escort service for your friend who can't find a date? I'm not proud.

One thing about traveling has changed for me, and one thing hasn't.

The thing that has changed is that now if I travel by bus, I've got Internet access via free wi-fi. So far the experience is that it works sporadically and not especially well, but I think if I went on a lengthy tour around the country or whatever, I could get work done on the buses (or buy one of those "hot spots" that gives you wi-fi-to-cell Internet access in your car).

Except for the thing that HASN'T changed, which is that I hate working on a laptop with a tiny keyboard and a touchpad in the middle instead of a mouse on the side. But I think I can deal with that. Next trip, my carry-on bag contents will include some kind of hard flat surface -- a lap desk, more or less -- and a full-size keyboard and mouse (when I go to conventions and such where I have a room of my own, I usually take a full desktop rig). The only deficit that will leave is an extra display (I prefer to work with two monitors, something I thought sounded crazy until a couple of years ago but that I find it painful to do without now). Greyhound features more room between seats and so forth these days than it used to, so I should have room to do things up fairly right. The Greyhound buses also have power outlets next to each seat. Very nice.

What would be really nice is if Greyhound still offered their "unlimited travel" passes -- a flat fee and you're good for a week, or a month, or whatever period you bought for. But that seems to have been discontinued.

Thanks For Asking! -- 03/11/16

This AMA thread (and the podcast to follow) are brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

Yes, the thread is up two days late. Why? I was traveling on Tuesday and Wednesday and just spaced it. I have an email reminder sent to me each week, and I did get it, but I got it while using a little laptop over a spotty wi-fi connection on a bumpy bus ride and did the whole sad "mental note to self to do this as soon as I get off to the bus and to my desktop machine at home" thing. Which, of course, I then immediately forgot for a day and a half. So anyway, the rules ...

  • Ask me anything -- anything! -- in the comment thread below this post; and
  • I'll answer in the comment thread, on this weekend's podcast, or both.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

I'm Not Really Watching the Republican Debate

Just catching bits and pieces here and there.

Why is it that in every debate they all seem to want to spend at least 15 minutes running for president of Israel?

Gary Johnson 2012 Inc.: Mere Financial Irresponsibility ... or Criminal Fraud?

Former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson wai...
Gary Johnson waiting to speak at a Campaign for Liberty event at CPAC. (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia)
Disclaimer #1: I am not an accountant, let alone a forensic accountant, nor am I an expert on campaign finance law.

Disclaimer #2: I've discussed what I'm about to tell you with at least two people who take an ongoing interest in campaign finance, especially with respect to third party politics. Those two people are George Phillies, a long-time Libertarian Party activist, author of a book  (Funding Liberty) about the finances of Harry Browne's presidential campaigns and a forthcoming book on the finances of Bob Barr's 2008 presidential campaign and Gary Johnson's 2012 campaign (as well as numerous other books on divers topics); and Darcy Richardson, author of numerous books on third party and independent politics. THIS POST DOES NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENT THEIR VIEWS, but they do deserve acknowledgement for calling to my attention, and helping explain, some of the anomalies I'm going to show you.

Here's a short version of the narrative I've been preaching for some time now vis a vis Gary Johnson. It's still a somewhat correct narrative, but there have been a couple of important changes to it that make Johnson sound worse, not better. I'm starting off with sort of the "best case scenario."

In 2012, Gary Johnson ran for president as a Republican and racked up six figures in campaign debt before dropping out of the Republican Party, declaring his candidacy for the Libertarian Party's nomination, and dismissing questions about his campaign debt by assuring Libertarians that that could help him get a government welfare check ("matching funds" from the Federal Elections Commission) to erase that debt. He got the nomination, he got the welfare check, then he ran his general election campaign seven figures into debt -- debt which remains unpaid to this very day -- all while campaigning as the "fiscally responsible" presidential candidate.

Like I said, that narrative remains substantially true, except where things are even worse than it makes then sound. Explaining how much worse and why requires a sort of timeline.

* On April 20, 2012, Johnson's campaign committee filed its FEC report for campaign activity up through the end of March 2012. That report declared that the campaign had outstanding debt of $152,373.85.

* Two weeks later, in early May Johnson received the Libertarian Party's 2012 presidential nomination.

* Later that month, in the campaign's FEC report for the period up through the end of April, it reported a similar debt level: $150,181.35.

* Between receiving the LP's nomination and the end of 2012, the Johnson campaign received approximately $550,000 in "matching funds," courtesy of US taxpayers.

A break from the timeline for one important point of information: When a campaign receives federal taxpayer money in the form of "matching funds," it is required to use that money to pay off campaign debt BEFORE using it for other things.*

No problem. The campaign's debt as of April/May 2012 was only about $150,000, so that left a lot of Uncle Sugar's money to do other things with, right?

Well, no, because now we come to the next point in the timeline:

* In early 2013, the campaign filed AMENDED versions of the April 2012 report in which it disclosed that its debt as of that time had been not about $150,000 after all, but had actually exceeded $1 million.


The idea behind an "amended report" is that mistakes were made on the previous version that need to be corrected, or that new information has become available which can be used to make the reporting more accurate.

If you believe that the $850,000-$900,000 discrepancy between the Johnson campaign's initial reports and the amended versions was an innocent accounting mistake, I'd like to hear from you in comments because I'm just not seeing how that idea passes the smell test.

The far more likely explanation is that the Johnson campaign defrauded the Libertarian Party's convention delegates by lying to them about its debt levels in order to get the presidential nomination -- and that the Johnson campaign also defrauded American taxpayers in order to get a large spendable windfall.

If the campaign's debt had been accurately reported in first place, those "matching funds" would have disappeared to liquidate it and would have fallen far short of doing so. Even with "matching funds," the campaign would have left the 2012 national convention mired in nearly half a million in admitted debt. And, very possibly, without the party's presidential nomination.

Instead, the campaign only had to spend $150,000 paying off its alleged debt, leaving it with $400,000 in ready cash.

If the FEC is paying attention -- and I suspect it is -- Hillary Clinton may not be the only 2016 presidential candidate with a grand jury in her future.

* Thanks to a pseudonymous commenter for pointing out that that claim is incorrect. While "matching funds" can only be used to pay for qualified pre-nomination expenses, that is not the same thing as requiring them to be used to pay off debt for such expenses before e.g. the campaign reimbursing itself for qualified expenses which it has already paid off.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Nil Sine Troglodytarum?

Every four years, the Libertarian Party chooses a presidential candidate. And every four years a boatload of candidates show up looking for the party's presidential nomination. Some of those candidates are "serious" candidates, and some of them are, well, somewhat less "serious."

The $64 question for the people and organizations whose actions and events feed into the nomination process is: Which candidate is which kind of candidate? Which candidates should we pay attention to, invite to state party conventions and candidate debates, and otherwise offer a little bit of limelight (such as it is in LP circles) to?

Answers to that question range from "invite anyone who has declared his or her candidacy -- it's only fair to give everyone a look" to "invite only the candidates who meet some arbitrary set of standards we set" to "don't actually INVITE any of them, but if any do show up, give them a few minutes of speaking time and let whoever's interested set up candidate-centered events that don't get any kind of official recognition from our organization."

This year, at least one candidate has not been invited to the Colorado Libertarian Party's state convention (scheduled for this coming weekend). The non-invitation was not an oversight. It was an explicit decision by the Colorado LP's executive committee. Not only did they agree not to invite Austin Petersen, they agreed to, insofar as their official capacities are concerned, ignore him.

Here's a story on the non-invitation. Here's another.

I'm skeptical of the claim in the first story that "[t]his is the first time that a state Libertarian Party has refused to invite a Presidential candidate who has been recognized by the national party."

Why am I skeptical? Three reasons:

  1. "Recognized by the national party" isn't a very well-defined term. Every four years the Libertarian National Committee argues over which candidates will be listed on the web site and why. The criteria change over time, and there's almost always a minority of dissenters from those criteria.
  2. State parties have their own criteria for "recognition." For example, John McAfee was not invited to participate in last weekend's candidate debate at the North Carolina Libertarian Party's convention. Why? Because only the candidates listed on the ballot for tomorrow's presidential primary were invited, and McAfee declared too late to be on that ballot.
  3. This is the Libertarian Party's 12th presidential election cycle. Given 50 state parties, that would mean 600 state conventions over the years. The total is not actually that high because there haven't always been Libertarian Parties in all 50 states, but "several hundred" is a reasonable, if vague, estimate. While I haven't dug through archives to prove it, I'm reasonably certain that some state LPs did not invite Daniel Imperato to their state conventions in 2008, or Jeffrey Diket in 2004, or Charles Collins in 1996. And so on and so forth. I picked those three because I remember their names and recall that they did attend the national conventions in the years they ran; Collins made the debate stage, Diket received speaking time (and yelled at the delegates, live on C-SPAN, that they were baby-killers and didn't deserve to win), and I am pretty sure Imperato at least got the minimal nominating speech time in Denver. All of those would seem to me to constitute some reasonable minimum of "recognition by the national party."

The situation with Petersen is somewhat different.

To the extent that there's any real polling in this LP cycle -- e.g. the post-debate straw poll at the Alabama/Mississippi convention -- Petersen is currently in third place behind Gary Johnson and John McAfee, from a fairly large field (12 candidates now? Something like that).

Petersen has a background with the Libertarian Party (he worked at LPHQ circa 2008).

Petersen's campaign is registered with the Federal Elections Commission and, as of end-of-year 2015 reporting, claimed to have raised and spent more money than the other campaigns.

And Petersen's explicit published platform is, in my opinion, the second "most libertarian" after Darryl W. Perry's.

So, why doesn't Colorado want him?

Well, apparently the other Colorado LP board members agree with Caryn Ann Harlos that Petersen is not a legitimate candidate for the nomination because he openly repudiates the Non-Aggression Principle as codified in the LP's statement of principles.

Harlos believes that nominating Petersen would violate the statement of principles and would therefore, as an action of the national convention, be valid for appeal to the party's Judicial Committee. And she further believes that the LPCO treating Petersen as a legitimate candidate would be a violation of both the national bylaws and the state party's bylaws.

I agree with Harlos on the import and meaning of the Non-Aggression Principle and the statement of principles. I disagree with her legalistic interpretation of the national bylaws and believe that the delegates have the rightful power to allow Petersen's name to be placed into nomination, to listen to what he has to say, and to nominate or not nominate him.

But where the invitation is concerned, hey -- who the Colorado LP invites to its convention is the Colorado LP's business and no one else's.

And I think there's a good case that Petersen falls into the same category as Imperato, Diket, Collins et. al, even though he's so far proven more persuasive and successful than any of them.

The category in question is: Troll. Per Wikipedia:

In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for their own amusement.

Does the definition fit the candidates I'm describing? Not perfectly. But better than that glove fit OJ Simpson's hand by a damn sight.

Until Austin Petersen decided to run for president as a Libertarian, he was an adamant "I Stand With Rand" Republican.

His campaign so far has been  a smirky, smarmy, patronizing, one-liner-laden troll stroll.

For example, last month, over the course of less than a week, he went from 1) claiming that unless contributions came in NOW NOW NOW, he might not be able to make it to several state conventions, to 2) claiming that he had offered to charter a private jet to take himself and two other candidates (McAfee and Johnson) to Washington for a debate (Johnson declined in favor of existing commmitments). Does anyone really believe he went from too broke for Greyhound to so flush he could charter a G-4 in a week?

So far as I can tell, Petersen's entire angle is using the LP's presidential nomination contest to build his name recognition and personal brand. He's not the first person to do that (we've had actual nominees do it), but his motivations and public statements make his motivations clear enough that it's at least understandable that one or more state LPs might decide "we're here for the real candidates, not the publicity-seeking also-rans."

Still, I do have to say that if I sat on a state LP's executive committee and the question came up, I'd vote to invite him to participate. To the extent that this campaign has "tiers" of "seriousness," while he may not be a former governor or an eccentric multi-millionaire, he's also not just some weirdo running around in an 1870s cavalry uniform and babbling about how children should be made to attend public hangings to l'arn them somethin'.

I doubt that Colorado's executive committee will reconsider its decision at this late date, but I hope they do. And if they don't, I kind of expect (and kind of hope) that Petersen will show up anyway and, if denied time on a stage with other candidates, just spend time talking one-on-one with likely national convention delegates.

And I guess that's my two cents on the subject.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 69: Yes, This is my Favorite Number

This episode of the KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

  • Hey, I'm "on tour" this week!;
  • Thanks For Asking! (headline hots and nots; Joel keeps picking at the C4SS scab; don't look, Ethel! No, really, don't look, Ethel; Adam Kokesh, Larken Rose, Donald Boudreaux and JD Rockefeller);
  • My vice-presidential non-announcement, a question for John McAfee, and an endorsement for Libertarian Party chair.

And That, as They Say, is That

Usually when a political type talks about running for office and starts an "exploratory committee" or puts out a poll or whatever, the idea is to either demonstrate the existence of a base of support or to create a wave of support.

Of course, I'm not the usual political type. When I threw up an Internet poll last Tuesday on whether or not I should seek the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination, the idea was to show three people who had suggested I do so that it would be a bad idea.

I think the poll results establish that it would, indeed, be a bad idea.

The post was only read 93 times. Only 16 people bothered to cast votes, and only one person went even farther and contacted me by email to tell me I should run.

There's no way to spin that other than "complete lack of interest." The post/poll was flogged to thousands of my own Facebook and Twitter friends/followers, and I saw it flogged to some of my friends'/followers' friends/followers too.

The trial balloon was made of lead, thank God. No veep campaign for me!

Sheldon Richman on Donald Trump

From his latest "TGIF" column:

For decades the Republican leadership (committed to corporate privilege and costly empire) encouraged a base of jingoists, protectionists, nativists, and other "politically incorrect" types, whom it then largely took for granted. The leadership wanted their votes, but not their opinions. It never expected those folks to one day embrace a presidential candidate who said aloud whatever they were thinking. So it underestimated Trump and now is in big trouble.

If that was Richman's main point it would still be well worth a read. But he takes it an entirely different, and equally important, direction. So get thee hence and take it all in.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Not Exactly a Tour ...

... but I'm going to be traveling around northern Florida for Libertarian Party purposes next Tuesday and Wednesday, so I figured I'd throw my itinerary out so that anyone with a burning desire to meet me has a chance to do so.

I'm heading from Gainesville to Orange Park to attend the Clay County Libertarian Party's monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 8th. That's at 7pm at the Brick Oven Pizzeria & Gastropub, 1811 Town Center  in Fleming Island. If you're in the area, come on out!

The thing is, I'm taking the long way there, via Greyhound.

I have a layover in Ocala from 10:10am to 10:40am on Tuesday.

Then another layover in Orlando from 12:15pm to 1:10pm.

And a third layover in Jacksonville from 3:40pm to 4:45pm.

OK, so we're only talking about 30-60 minutes in each place, not accounting for buses running late, boarding times, etc. But hey, if you think you might be in the immediate neighborhood, hit the contact form, let me know and we can hook up for a few minutes.

On Wednesday, I'll be returning via Lake City, where I'll have a two-hour-plus layover from 10:20am to 12:40pm. Same thing -- if that's your area and you'd like to have coffee or whatever, ping me!

Note: Yes, that first bus trip is an eight-hour counter-clockwise circle to go someplace about 60 miles away. I could have taken the same route both ways, but that would have put me in Jacksonville with seven hours of nothing to do. So I figure I'll see some bits of Florida I haven't seen yet, maybe get some work done if the bus has wi-fi, etc. And the bus tickets were both the same price. Huzzah.

Friday, March 04, 2016

The Light Begins to Dawn?

New at Cato: "Was the 'Libertarian Moment' Wishful Thinking? A Debate."

Anyone who was paying attention and not heavily into the project of working through a really huge stash of euphorics knew it was wishful thinking as soon as we heard the phrase, of course. Looks like the stash may finally be running out.

A Question for John McAfee

In mid-2013, in an interview on Fox Business, the following exchange took place:

Neil Cavuto: Are you a Republican, are you a Democrat, independent, how do you describe yourself?

John McAfee: What would you think, you think I'm a Democrat with my views on guns and everything else? No, sir, I'm a Republican.

Here's an embed of the segment [update: Sometimes the embed loads, sometimes it doesn't -- here's a direct link]. The exchange begins at about 1 minute and 45 seconds in:

McAfee is now seeking the Libertarian Party's 2016 presidential nomination. Inquiring minds want to know: When did he stop being a Republican?

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Ted Cruz's "Border-Adjustable Business Flat Tax"

I was just listening to him talk about it on the GOP debate. Here's his tax plan.

"Border-Adjustable Business Flat Tax" is TedCruzian for "import tarriff that's not quite as high as the Smoot-Hawley rate that completely cratered the American economy between 1929 and 1932."

Endorsement: Re-Elect Nick Sarwark as Chair of the Libertarian National Committee

The 2016 Libertarian National Convention is less than three months away. Among items on the agenda will be election of new (or re-election of old) Libertarian National Committee members and officers.

I'm aware of three candidates for the position of chair: Current chair Nick Sarwark, Brett Pojunis of Nevada and Mark Rutherford of Indiana. I support re-electing Sarwark to the position. Here's why:

  • With the LP, more so than the "major" parties, the chair is often called upon to be the party's public face, especially when we're not in the middle of a presidential campaign. The quality and quantity of the Libertarian Party's public communications has improved dramatically over the last two years with Nick as that face. More statements on burning public policy issues. Better and more interesting statements on burning public policy issues. More and better media interviews. He makes the LP look good.
  • Since I first became involved with the Libertarian Party, I've noticed a lot of emphasis on the LNC, often manifesting more in the breach than in the observance, concerning something called "collegiality." That is, per Merriam-Webster, "the cooperative relationship of colleagues." My continuing impression of Nick (going back to long before his chairmanship) is that this is something he works very hard to cultivate and personify. When he disagrees with others (definitely including me sometimes), he goes out of his way to not be disagreeable about it, and to give all sides a fair hearing.
  • On the other hand, he's no pushover. He stands up for what he believes without, so far as I can tell, attempting to subvert the rules or the process to get his way, unlike some other players in the Libertarian Party's internal dramas.
I consider Nick a friend, but that's not why I'm endorsing him for re-election. I'm endorsing him for re-election because his first election to the chairmanship was one of a couple of major factors that motivated me to get involved in the party again ... and because he has subsequently done the job in such a way as to convince me that that decision was not a mistake.

I'm not going to try to convince you that Nick has solved all of the Libertarian Party's problems. He hasn't, nor could he have been expected to. But he's definitely tried to be an active participant in finding those solutions, and I think he's succeeded.

Nor am I going to spill any ink in this letter of endorsement on what I perceive as deficiencies in the other candidates' cases for their election to the post. If that discussion has to take place, it can happen in blog or Facebook comments or whatever. I prefer to keep the endorsement itself entirely positive and entirely about the endorsed candidate.

Nick Sarwark deserves a second term as chair. Let's re-elect him.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

An Un-Scientific Poll Concerning Something I've Sworn I'd Never Do (Again)

When one person privately suggested it to me, I pointed out that I've sworn in the past that it. Would. Never. Happen.

When another person privately suggested it to me, I again pointed out that I've sworn in the past that it. Would. Never. Happen.

A third person just privately suggested it to me. Maybe it's time to start playing hard to get instead of being so Shermanesque. But please, help me go back to the latter.

I most specifically want to hear from those who've already materially supported my congressional campaign. I won't be bailing on that unless they say I should.

And I think the idea is kind of bizarre.

On the other hand, I enjoyed running for vice-president in 2008. And I'm relatively free to travel these days (if the campaign can afford to send me places). And I clean up OK when I really try (which I would). And I'm told I acquit myself fairly well in debates.

So: It. Will. Never. Happen.


[Note: I see that for some reason in the first answer I used the word "presidential" where it should have said "congressional." Sorry about that. The poll can't be edited, and I'm not going to create it from scratch again. This whole thing is kind of disconcerting and I probably wouldn't even be pursuing it if I hadn't just loaded up on espresso. So I'm typo-prone]

El Neil Endorses

The whole piece -- as is the case with anything by L. Neil Smith -- is well worth taking your time to read. So please go do so. I'll wait to discuss it until you're done. And while I do, I guess I'll put on some music to keep me company.

OK, so you're back, right? What did you think?

I'm surprised. Not dismayed, just surprised.

I kind of figured that if Neil endorsed, he'd endorse Darryl W. Perry rather than John McAfee.


Well, Darryl is far and away the most "purist"/"radical" candidate in the race, and L. Neil Smith both is, and tends to prefer, the genuine libertarian article.

Also, Darryl's campaign finance plan is, in part, a page torn from the 2004 campaign to "draft" Smith for the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination.

I was the self-designated HMFIC (you can look that up if you want) of said "draft" campaign. I was also the self-designated treasurer, specifically so that I could be the one to risk legal sanctions by sending the Federal Elections Commission a note along the lines of "this is the first and only report you're going to get, no matter how much money we raise and spend; if you don't like it, go piss up a rope." IIRC, we raised somewhere in the $3k range, all of which came in the form of in-kind contributions -- people ordering copies of Neil's Lever Action essay collection for placement in public libraries.

Darryl's campaign is accepting donations only in the form of cryptocurrencies and precious metals, and he's sent a similar letter to the FEC.

So they seemed like a good match to me, but heck, what do I know? McAfee is my own third pick, behind NOTA and Darryl, and I do agree with Neil that he'd make a damn good candidate.

Quick Report on Garrison Center Pickups

So far I've identified 61 February reprints of Garrison Center op-eds in "mainstream" newspapers and non-libertarian political publications.

Not bad -- the number for January was 63, but of course February's a short month and I missed a column on Saturday due to illness, personal emergency, etc. So I'd say the trend is holding or maybe even improving slightly.

And there's that "so far" thing, too.

Like I said, I counted 63 pickups for January ... as of early February. When I went back yesterday to look for pickups in February, I found more January pickups that hadn't been indexed by Google yet when I previously searched (and reported results). How many? IIRC, four. And it's likely that over the next month or so, I'll find some more February pickups, too.

So, as of right now, Garrison seems to remain on track to hit 750 pickups this year (versus 545 for the 11 months of 2015 that it was in operation).

This assumes, of course, that recurring support for my work (excluding the angel donor who's been "carrying" me while I hit YOU up) continues to increase so that I can justify continuing to do this rather than doing something else. Thanks to Chuck Coffer, whose $5 per month pledge has brought the total up to $60 versus the $250 per month goal.