Monday, July 27, 2020

For Those Who Are Convinced That Trump Has "Slashed Regulations" ...

Number of federal regulations as of January 12, 2017 (one week prior to Donald Trump's inauguration as president): 1,079,601

Number of federal regulations as of July 20, 2020: 1,083,225

Source: RegData U.S. Regulation Tracker

Friday, July 24, 2020

Finally, After All These Years ...

... I'm in Facebook Jail for the first time. Got a 24-hour sentence.

My offense: Posting "false information about cures, treatments, and tests for COVID-19."

By linking to this podcast on Rational Review News Digest's Facebook page.

Yes, really.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Kind of a Bizarre Claim ...

Melanie on last night's Free Talk Live muses that the federal abductions in Portland might be a way of collecting/debriefing plants and confidential informants, because:

If you're doing undercover work in a Black Bloc, you can't be like "I gotta go home and cook some spaghetti, I'll be back in three hours. Like, you can't just leave ... you can't be like oh, I got a doctor appointment."

In my limited experience with Black Bloc types, au contraire. They're a semi-spontaneous aggregation of people with similar motives, not a highly organized cult with every member required to account for every second of time. Most of them are upper class or upper middle class high school/college age kids who do in fact go to doctors, at least occasionally go home for meals with family even if they theoretically live in a communal flop with a bunch of roomies (although it's probably their mothers doing the actual cooking), etc.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Contra Schneier

Bruce Schneier, at The Atlantic:

Internet communications platforms -- such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube -- are crucial in today’s society. They’re how we communicate with one another. They’re how our elected leaders communicate with us. They are essential infrastructure. Yet they are run by for-profit companies with little government oversight. This is simply no longer sustainable. Twitter and companies like it are essential to our national dialogue, to our economy, and to our democracy. We need to start treating them that way, and that means both requiring them to do a better job on security and breaking them up.
Emphasis mine, on the only part that refers to any conceivably "legitimate" government interest whatsoever in how these platforms operate.

The fix for that is not government regulation of the platform, or "breaking up" the platforms.

The fix for that is restricting government actors' use of the platforms.

Create a government-financed, government-operated, and government-secured platform that 1) may only be published to by government officials, and 2) is the only platform government officials may publish to, with 3) harsh criminal penalties for e.g. presidents who get caught tweeting while in office.

The rest of us can read it, if we want to. And when it's not being brought down by hackers, as will be a frequent occurrence with any government-secured platform (which is one of a number of reasons to keep government's incompetent hands of the platforms Schneier wants those hands to fondle).

Friday, July 17, 2020

Separation of Church and Walmart?

There's a word for believing something despite a dearth of evidence that what you believe is true.

That word is "religion."

And just to be clear, I'm fine with religion. I have religious beliefs myself, and I support the free exercise of religion.

If Walmart's directors decide to put a cross in front of every store and require me to kneel, genuflect, and say five Hail Marys before entering, I'll either kneel, genuflect, and say five Hail Marys before entering or not enter.

Ditto wearing a mask.

If Walmart's directors really, truly believe that masks magically ward off COVID-19 and care sooooooooo much about my health that they require me to wear a mask or not enter their stores, I'll wear a mask or not enter their stores.

But if they're doing so because that belief is part of an official state establishment of religion, that's a different matter. See Amendment One.

I don't support forcible separation of church and Walmart, but I do support separation of church and state.

Or, at the very least, treating Walmart as a tax exempt institution like other churches.

Monday, July 13, 2020

OK, It's Suggestion Time

With YOUR support and financial assistance, I've completed two terms on the Libertarian Party's national Platform Committee.

I think two terms -- at least in a row -- is enough.

When I look around this party, I see many of the same faces, doing many of the same things, as when I joined the party in 1996.

For example, offhand, I noticed no fewer than three former chairs of the Libertarian National Committee, dating back as far as that year of 1996, running for LNC positions this year.

There's something to be said for institutional memory.

There's also something to be said for getting the hell out of the way and newer/younger activists take the wheel.

I'm not saying I'll never, ever, ever seek to serve on the platform committee again, but it seems like a break is in order.

I've been a regional alternate on the LNC. I've served on the Judicial Committee. I've served on the Platform Committee. I've also been a county committee member, county committee vice-chair, county committee chair, state executive committee member, and state rules committee member. I think I may have served a term as a county secretary, too, but I honestly don't remember. That's not counting the number of times I've been a candidate for public office, or a volunteer or staffer on a campaign for same.

National committees I haven't served on include: Bylaws and Rules, Advertising & Publication Review, Affiliate Support, Audit, Awards, Ballot Access, Candidate Support, Convention Oversight, Employment Policy & Compensation, Historical Preservation, Information Technology, Blockchain, Convention Voting Process, Membership Support, and Youth Engagement.

Some of those committees I'm more interested in, some less so. Some of those committees I'm more qualified for, some less so.

I'm going to go ahead and veto Audit, Employment Policy & Compensation, Blockchain, and Youth Engagement. None of those play to any particular strengths I have.

I'm not an IT expert, but I'm not sure how much of one I'd NEED to be to serve on the Information Technology Committee. I may ask one of the current members about that.

I've bellyached about Convention Oversight enough that I feel obligated to help do the work at some point ... but that work involves some significant financial commitment, since it involves visits to potential convention sites, etc.

Since you guys are my party activism financiers, I'm asking ... what do YOU think I should do? The national committees above are not my only options. I might do something with my state or local party, or non-party movement stuff. I'm interested in your opinions.

Is It Just Me, Or ...

... was it only a few months ago that Republicans were posturing as favoring "choice" and "local control," and even, to some degree, encouraging homeschooling vis a vis education?

Not that the educrats are any more sympathy-inspiring. They don't want the schools they work at to open, but they don't want to go get other jobs, either. We're supposed to just keep the lights on at the schools, keep paying them their salaries, etc. because REASONS.

2022 Libertarian National Convention Bleg

At some point during this convention cycle, a delegate list that included email addresses got out into the wild. There was some controversy over it.

I'd like to have a copy of that list, and I'll tell you why in advance:

Last Thursday was supposed to be the first day of the Libertarian National Convention.

But an in-person minority hijacked the event, disenfranchised the online delegate majority, and conducted fake convention business for a full day before straightening up, flying right, and letting the convention get started on Friday morning.

What should have happened is this:

The instant the minority bullied the chair into silencing -- and refusing to count the votes of -- the majority, the majority should have called the coup ringleaders' bluff, constituted itself as the 2020 Libertarian National Convention, and proceeded, online, to adopt the credentials report and start doing business.

If that had happened, the ringleaders would have likely knocked their bullshit off most ricky-tick, as they probably wouldn't have relished an extended battle in the government courts over who the party's officers were, who got the bank accounts and the building, etc.

But realistically, in order for that to have happened there would have needed to be a certain amount of pre-built infrastructure ... including a way to quickly contact as many delegates as possible, then get them through a credentials process and into a virtual room.

Hopefully we will not have these kinds of problems in the future. But instead of just hoping it doesn't happen, I'd like to be prepared in case it does happen. So if anyone has that list and is willing to provide me with a copy of it, I'd appreciate it (there's a contact form link at the top of this site).

If I get a copy of the list, I promise not to abuse it. I won't spam anyone, or try to sell anyone anything, or use it to solicit subscribers to my newsletter, or anything but archive a copy of it so that if delegates need to be contacted for convention purposes as described above, they can be.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

A Very Brief Recap of the 2020 Libertarian National Convention ...

... specifically my tiny part in it.

First, THANK YOU to everyone who supported my efforts to serve on the Libertarian Party's 2020 platform committee.

I tried to do a good job for you. I think I made it to every electronic meeting, but I was late to at least one (road work on my route home delayed me -- my fault).

Here's our final report.

I think it's some damn good work, which is not the same thing as saying that I agree with every comma in it. I'm proud to have been involved in its creation, and I hope it lives up to any expectations you had of me performance-wise. Now ...

Its contents were not heard/considered/voted on by the national convention delegates.

Why? Because at least one third plus one of those delegates resolutely refused to do their fucking jobs, that's why.

In most years, at least some work remains undone when the national convention adjourns. We have hard deadlines for getting out of the meeting facilities, some delegates have planes to catch, etc.

This year, for the first time ever, such problems were irrelevant. We have electronic participation, so we could have added additional working sessions to the agenda on weekends to come and finished every bit of the party's business -- not just platform, but bylaws as well (some of that did get done).

But when the time came to suspend the rules to so amend the agenda, at least 1/3+1 delegates effectively announced that they had lied when they told their state parties that they were willing to buckle down and actually do the work.

Those delegates squatted over, and took a giant shit on, a whole bunch of work done well and in good faith by tens of their fellow party members on the platform and bylaws committees.

Not only would they not do the job they promised to do, they wouldn't let anyone else do it either.

If they had any integrity, they'd never ask to be selected as national convention delegates again.

But, then, if they had any integrity, they wouldn't have pulled this shit, would they?

Or the shit that some of them pulled on Thursday, when 1/5th of the delegates bullied the convention chair into silencing and ignoring the other 80% of the delegates for nine fucking hours of fake convention business before pretending they were doing to body a favor by magnanimously "allowing" that other 80% of the body to exercise its clear and unambiguous rights per the call to convention.

Did some good stuff happen? Sure. The officer and at-large LNC elections didn't turn out too badly. I haven't seen Judicial Committee results yet, but I'm hopeful they'll be nice as well.

I'm grateful to the Libertarian Party of Florida for selecting me as an alternate to the convention, and for seating me as a delegate on Sunday. This was my eighth national convention as (at some point) a delegate.

Really, the event wasn't more than 85%, maybe 90%, raging dumpster fire.

But it might have only been 50% raging dumpster fire if the online delegates had constituted themselves as, and started doing business as, the real convention the instant they got muted on Thursday. The in-person mutineers should have quickly been informed that they were headed down a road that ended in litigation over the party's assets, and invited to hit the brakes ASAP.

One of my priorities for the future is making damn sure that that can easily and seamlessly happen in any future such situation.

See you in Reno in 2022!

Saturday, July 11, 2020

The 2020 Libertarian National Convention is currently set to adjourn at 1pm tomorrow.

That would mean not getting the convention's business done.

And it is COMPLETELY unnecessary, unlike past conventions when we had facilities rental expiration to worry about and most delegates had planes to catch.

THIS year, 80% of the delegates are online, most of the rest COULD be online, and even if NONE of the rest CHOSE to join the online delegates there would still be a quorum.

So instead of adjourning at 1pm tomorrow, we should finish our business.

ALL of our business.

EVERY election. EVERY bylaws proposal. EVERY platform proposal.

If it takes until August 1st, it takes until August 1st.

But if we stop messing around and get to work, realistically we can be done by Monday evening or Tuesday noon.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

If You Are a Libertarian National Convention Alternate, PLEASE SHOW UP!

Susan Hogarth was just explaining the voting procedure:

Everyone, including delegates AND alternates, gets to vote.

If all the delegates from a state vote, then the alternates' votes don't count.

But if not all the delegates from a state vote, then the alternates' votes count in one of two ways:

1) If the state chose a "ranking" scheme, then the ranking alternates' votes count (i.e. two delegates don't vote; the top two ranked alternates' votes count); OR

2) Random alternates' votes are selected by the app for missing delegate votes.

As the convention drags on, there will likely be a number of delegates who get tired, or need a break, or whatever, and who miss votes.

So your alternate vote may very well make the difference. And you can do it from your computer/phone at home.

Brief Platform Committee / National Convention Update

In a few hours, the second "sitting" of the 2020 Libertarian National Convention will gavel to order, both in Orlando and online.

The party's platform committee had its final meeting yesterday. It was a bit of a technical clusterfuck insofar as it was similarly "hybrid" (some participants in a room in Orlando, some online), and fortunately nothing got done.

I say "fortunately" because the last couple of meetings have been all about attempts to get the committee to undo its own previously passed proposals based on "OH MY GOD, NO, WE CAN"T BE QUITE THAT LIBERTARIAN, SOMEONE MIGHT GET THE VAPORS!" responses to the member survey on those proposals.

That undoing actually got accomplished with respect to a proposal on doing away with government law enforcement. As of yesterday, I've signed onto a minority report on that proposal, the entire content of which is:

Why? Because stupidity and cowardice should incur costs that erase their perceived benefits.

Neutering a well-written, carefully crafted, thoroughly debated original proposal on the subject, just because some people might find it upsetting for the party to openly debate prospectively getting too libertarian, was stupid and cowardly.

So now there's a minority report to get announced from the stage, presumably upsetting the same people the proposal wreckers were trying to appease and therefore at least partially undoing the perceived benefit of the stupidity and cowardice.

Will future platform committees pay heed to that lesson and resist the temptation to become stupid and cowardly near the ends of their terms? I don't know. But hopefully that will be the case.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

I Wonder ...

... how much paid-for travel demand is on the airlines' books, and what the effect of that will be on seat availability when most people decide that they need to -- and that it's safe to -- travel by air again?

When one airline canceled my May flight to Austin (for what was supposed to be the 2020 Libertarian National Convention) and I canceled the return flight with another airline (no need to fly back if I wasn't flying there), I ended up with some future flight credit (maybe not enough to ever redeem -- the flights were insanely cheap, and on airlines I don't normally use).

Tamara and the kids were going to fly this week, but decided at the last minute to drive instead, to make it less likely that they'll get caught up in some sudden and stupid interstate quarantine change. So now we've got a nice balance with the airline I usually fly on from that cancellation.

Public panics tend to end as suddenly as they begin. When this one ends, I expect that seat demand will quickly outstrip seat supply, meaning my credited balances won't go as far, if I can find a seat at all. For a little while, anyway.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

Two Terms That Sometimes Get Conflated or Confused

"Epidemiology" is the study of the incidence/distribution/spread of disease, with an eye toward finding (usually statistical) correlations that might aid in containing disease.

"Public health" is a political movement advocating for technocratic rule by, among others, epidemiologists.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

A Brief Platform Committee (and Convention) Update

In my last post on these subjects, I noted that I was getting iffy on attending the "second sitting" of the Libertarian National Convention for several reasons.

At some point I stopped being iffy and decided that no, I'm not going to Orlando. I'm something like 29th alternate for my state, so it's not like I'm desperately needed. My family will be traveling, which means that if I was traveling too there would be a bunch of pet care nonsense to make arrangements for, etc. And so on and so forth.

And now there seems to be a pretty good chance that the Orlando event won't happen (if you're not up on that situation, hit me in the comments).

BUT: The platform committee will be meeting both electronically and physically if the Orlando event does happen. So I can participate that way.

We had a meeting last night, with basically a two-part agenda:

  1. Deciding whether to modify some of our already passed proposals to appease the "oh dear god, no -- the party can't be libertarian on that, what will Fox and Friends think?" crowd who responded negatively to them in the delegate/member survey (offhand, police abolition, gender identity, and intellectual property were the big ones); and
  2. Formally adopting our report for publication (deadline -- today), which we didn't really need to do, since each element of the report has been formally adopted.
By the end of a 3 1/2-hour 2-hour meeting, we had managed to

  1. Amend the previously passed police abolition plank into something I guess is still pretty decent;
  2. Become thoroughly enraged with each other to a degree that might have entailed physical violence if the meeting itself had been physical.
  3. Adjourn.
So yeah, the usual ;-)

Just because the report is being published today, that doesn't mean there won't be any more work by the committe, on the proposals. You can keep up with everything at the committee email reflector.

Thanks For Asking! -- 07/01/20

Because they sent me a free t-shirt and I really like it, I hereby declare Libertas Bella the sponsors of this month's Ask Me Anything thread:

  1. Ask Me Anything (yes, anything) in the comment section below this post!
  2. I'll answer in comments (or in some other format and point to that format in comments)!
  3. Bonus/Gratuitous/Extraneous Exclamation Marks!!!!!!!!!!!