Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Midterm Report Card

My "From the Editor" column, which appears in the November-December 2007 issue of California Freedom:

This is my sixth issue as editor. Half a year. An appropriate time to self-assess my achievements and shortfalls.

My biggest disappointment is that California Freedom is not reaching members quickly enough for my satisfaction. My first issue (June) was fast on the heels of May, but later issues took longer. It's been a rocky road.

In June our printer dropped CF because our account wasn't large enough. LPC Executive Director Angela Keaton began a frantic search for a new printer that could do the job in time for the July issue, and within our budget. She came through, as always.

But then the post office created additional delays regarding our non-profit, periodical rate postal permit for the new printer. Angela worked to cut through the postal red tape.

An Executive Director (by whatever title) facilitates the efficient delivery of CF. She maintains the membership database, keeping track of who's joined the party, who's paid up, who's lapsed. She forwards the current mailing list to the printer. She collects dues from members and payment from advertisers. She sends complimentary copies to advertisers and contributors.

In August, Angela left. She was replaced by LPC Secretary Beau Cain, who's been working hard on the database, learning what needs to be done. (Read about Beau's work and his call for volunteers in this issue's "Welcome to YOUR Office.") Treasurer Don Cowles now handles CF's financials, sending invoices and making payments. They've both done a fine job.

Days before Angela left, CF's layout editor, Muffet Brown, announced that she was resigning to pursue other work. She expected September to be her final issue, but upon hearing of Angela's departure, she agreed to stay on a bit longer, in order to ease the transition.

I expect to take over the layout work and am learning Adobe InDesign. (Kudos to Mike Laursen for generously lending the LPC a copy for my use). For now, Muffet is doing the layout, though her new work takes priority over CF which she continues to do largely as a favor to the party.

The post office continues its slow pace. Some members report getting CF up to a month after it leaves our Georgia printer. One ExCom At-Large Member suggested we hire a local printer. That would speed delivery, but might increase costs. It's expensive doing business in California.

But delivery is only one stage. Producing CF involves four separate stages. First, I write and edit the paper. When that stage is mostly complete, Muffet begins the layout, followed by my proofing its text. In the third stage the layout file goes to the printer, after which Muffet proofs the colors, and Beau confirms the current mailing list. Then the post office takes over.

Hopefully, merging editorial and layout in a single person will speed things up.

How can you help? By submitting articles, letters, photos, and cartoons. This is a combined issue partially because I haven't gotten many submissions. (I need you to write articles, not send me ideas for someone else to write.)

Maybe you've not written anything because you don't think you're good enough?

Don't "not submit" because your piece is not perfect. Just write it. I'm here to edit. Almost nothing has been published these past six issues without my meddling--from minor punctuation changes to extensive rewrites. I've had people submit raw outlines that I've polished into articles. I expanded a single paragraph into a short article, and trimmed 2,500+ word submissions to under 700.

Don't delay because your piece is not perfect. Someone promised me an article last June, and has since periodically informed me that he's "still working on it."

I'm grateful to John Briscoe, Norm Westwall, Lawrence K. Samuels, and Elizabeth C. Brierly, all prolific contributors. In addition to her own pieces, Elizabeth routinely submits material from the Independent Institute and (like Lawrence) has directed me to other contributors.

But though I'm unsatisfied with CF's current delivery speed, many of my goals I have achieved:

* I wanted greater coverage of the most important political issue facing our nation and state: the current and future wars. Mission accomplished.

* I wanted to encourage discussion and debate of philosophical and party procedural issues. Done.

* I wanted a larger and livelier "Letters to the Editor" section. Done.

* I wanted greater coverage of libertarians in the arts. Done. Most past issues have profiled a Hollywood Libertarian. (But I need your help on this -- if you know of any libertarians in the arts, please inform me so that I can promote them!)

* We've also increased our advertising sales. Since I've taken over, CF has lost one advertiser, but gained two.

I hope to have speedier delivery of CF by spring 2008, after the holiday madness and convention chaos have subsided. I also expect to attend our state convention in San Diego. Look for me and let me know what you think.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I'd Support Paul/Kucinich in 2008

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that
Dennis Kucinich would consider Ron Paul
as his VP running mate. Meanwhile, Kucinich's wife states that Kucinich might accept running as VP under Paul.

I am opposed to Kucinich's domestic policies. My dream ticket is Paul/Kwiatkowski.

However, should Paul run as an independent, a Paul/Kucinich ticket is something that Libertarians should seriously consider. Paul will likely never win the presidency with just Republican support; not enough Republicans support him.

Additionally, Paul's support spans the spectrum. And he'll need to tap into this wide spectrum of support -- from left, right, and center -- to win on an independent ticket.

Yet despite admiring Paul, many of Paul's leftist supporters worry about Paul's libertarian economics. A Kucinich VP could cement Paul's support among the left, convincing them that Paul isn't that "scary."

As someone who's never voted Democratic in his life, I can vote for a Kucinich VP if that's the price of getting Paul into the White House. I've held my nose for worse tickets in the past.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

California Freedom Gets More Expensive to Print

I'd like to inform Libertarian Party of California members that the cost of printing California Freedom will increase next year, due to an increase in the cost of newsprint.

This is Not Good, as printing and postage are already some of the larger expenses for the LPC.

As it is, I'm not pleased with the slow delivery of California Freedom. The October issue was mailed early last month from Georgia, and I have yet to receive my copy here in California.

Of course, that's the post office's fault.

I discuss the slow production and delivery problems of California Freedom, and possible solutions, in greater detail in the Nov/Dec issue. Which hopefully will be online soon.

In the meantime, below is an email that I (and, I assume, other LPC staff and officers) received from our printer, who in turn attaches an email he received from his newsprint supplier. I post it in the interest of transparency, and keeping LPC members fully informed of events within the LPC.


Dear Greater Georgia Printers Customer,

Attached is a letter from our newsprint supplier concerning price increases for early next year. These increases come on the heels of a $25 / ton increase in September.

The 2 largest newsprint manufacturers, Abitibi and Bowater, have merged and it is feared they can now control the price and supply of newsprint. There are plans to shut down or convert some mills which will take thousands of ton capacity off the market.

We will not be able to absorb these increased costs so I am sending you this for your 2008 budget planning.

Over the next few weeks we will be looking at our pricing and see where we need to be to remain profitable.

Your business is appreciated and we will work to remain competitive in this era of low profit margins.

Please let me know if you have any comments or concerns.

Bobby G. Miller, Jr.
General Manager
Greater Georgia Printers, Inc.
Crawford, GA 30630


Dear Valued Customer,

Today we are announcing a $60 /mt increase in our North American 48.8 gsm newsprint price. In an effort to be sensitive to our customers’ business, we will be implementing the increase in a staged manner - $20 January 1st, $20 February 1st and $20 March 1st.

Equivalent adjustments will be made for 45 gsm. Also effective January 1, 52.0 gsm will be priced the same as 48.8 gsm and will not be yield-adjusted.

We have undertaken a range of steps over the past few years to respond to the new market reality. The recent combination of Abitibi-Consolidated and Bowater is the most recent move to take costs out of our organization to meet the challenge that lies before us. Both predecessor companies had significantly reduced costs and AbitibiBowater has set an aggressive synergy target for the new company. Unfortunately, cutting costs alone will not return our Company to profitability.

In the last year, as pricing has fallen substantially, we have faced continued increases in fiber and energy input costs. At the same time, the U.S. dollar has continued to weaken compounding the negative impact on our financial results. We are absolutely committed to be a long term, high quality supplier of newsprint to our N.A. customers. As such, returning the revenue side of our business to an acceptable level is a critical component of our long term viability.

If you have any questions regarding this increase or any other matters, please feel free to contact myself or your sales representative. Your business is important to us and we appreciate the opportunity to serve you.


Colin Keeler
Vice President
North American Newsprint Sales

Monday, November 12, 2007

The 1914 Christmas Truce of World War One

You may have seen Paul McCartney's music video about the Christmas Truce of 1914, when enemy soldiers in World War One stopped fighting, crossed the trenches, and celebrated Christmas together.

The song (whose title I forget) appeared on McCartney's Pipes of Peace CD. But this historical event has also been written about in Christmas Truce: The Western Front December 1914 and in Silent Night: The Story of the World War One Christmas Truce, and recounted on the CD, Silent Night, Holy Night: The Story of the Christmas Truce.

Do you know any "Christians" who eagerly support our current wars? These books and CDs will make wonderfully appropriate Christmas gifts -- a great way to remind them that there's more to Christianity than bombing foreigners who never attacked us.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Johnny Rotten downplays "Anarchy"

I've never been an anarchist, but I've met several anarchists in the LP. If you're one of them, you may be interested to read what the Sex Pistols's Johnny Rotten recently told Los Angeles City Beat:

"Anarchy is mind-games for the middle class. It’s a wonderful philosophy if you’ve got the spare time to indulge in it. It’s more like French abstract art than reality, because ultimately you would destroy everything. What’s the point of that if you’ve got nothing to replace it with? Anarchy is a problem. It’s not a solution. But it’s worthy of some thought."

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Voters for Peace Pledge

Voters for Peace is asking people to sign their peace pledge, by which you pledge to only support federal candidates who'll promise to end the war in Iraq and prevent future wars of aggression. The War Party will likely ignore it, but still, it's an easy and inexpensive way for you to promote peace.

If you want to go a step further, Voters for Peace also sells peace merchandise on their site.

And they accept online donations.