Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christine Smith's Unfocused Christmas Ramblings

Christine Smith has posted more silliness on her blog. A "Christmas message" full of fluff and nonsense, signifying nothing other than that she's not ready for prime time.

Apart from the embarrassingly silly photos of this presidential aspirant frolicking in the snow (buried in snow up to her waist in one of them), there are her unfocused ramblings. Smith tells us that many people begged her to stay in the presidential race, that she likes Ron Paul, then she heaps praise on Christmas, and non-religious people, and liberty, and compassion, and Frederic Bastiat.

Smith writes: "For me, Christmas is all about liberty...all about freedom."

It may be for her, but it's an inaccurate understanding of Christmas. Liberty is good, and Christmas is good, but Christmas is not about freedom -- unless Smith means that Christ freed us from sin. But Smith never mentions sin in her post. Perhaps she imagines that Christianity is a celebration of doing your own thing?

She goes on to explain: "[Christmas] is a celebration of love, and love, by my definition, is the opposite of fear...and thus a celebration of love, Christmas, is inherently a celebration of liberty."

For the record, I am both a Catholic and a libertarian. It's my assessment that Jesus was apolitical. One can be a socialist or a libertarian, and be equally Christian. Jesus permits one to "render unto Caesar" because Jesus' kingdom "is not of this Earth." We may choose socialism or libertarianism while on Earth. The ancient Hebrews chose monarchy. I choose libertarianism, but it's not an inherently Christian choice. (Murderous totalitarianism is anti-Christian, but most forms of government are not -- sorry, fellow libertarians.)

Smith writes: "[Christmas is] also a time when libertarianism flourishes whether people realize it or not. People and businesses voluntarily give to charities and individuals, with compassion being the motivator. It's a lesson for all those who cling to their fundamentally immoral socialistic programs: people care, people freely give, people will care for one another - and we don't need Big Brother stealing from us to supposedly give to the poor on our behalf."

That's a nice sentiment, but again, it's inaccurate to say that "libertarianism flourishes" because altruism flourishes. Libertarianism allows for altruism, but does not require it. A society that shuns the poor, and one that voluntarily helps the poor, can be equally libertarian. One may behave as Scrooge or Mother Teresa and be equally libertarian (although not equally Christian).

Libertarianism is not compassion. It allows for altruism, and it allows for selfishness. It makes no judgment. In "selling liberty," some libertarians claim that a free society is more generous to the poor than is a socialist society. This may or may not be so, but it's a sales pitch. Let's not confuse the pitch with the philosophy. Only a dishonest or intellectually confused libertarian would do so.

There are, of course, intellectually dishonest people in the LP. Those who bend the philosophy to make it more palatable to the public. There are also intellectually weak-minded people in the LP. This happens when "getting votes" and "attracting members" become more important than educating the cadres and the masses.

There's much feel-good mush interwoven into Smith's unfocused "Christmas message." She tells us: "There are Christian libertarians, Jewish libertarians, pagan libertarians, agnostics and atheists...there are as many type libertarians as there are unique individual beliefs in this world, and this fact reinforces for me the intrinsic rightness of liberty. Because what we share in common is our focus on liberty, and for me, liberty recognizes, respects, and honors each individual's choice to worship or believe as they so choose. Liberty is the state of true love for mankind, giving all the ability to live life as they so choose free from intrusion and regulation."

Smith's is a standard politician's message (albeit written without benefit of a skilled speechwriter or editor). She hits many positive "talking points" but fails to convincingly tie them together. Liberty is good. Christmas is good. Compassion is good. If you don't believe in Christmas, that's good too.

Smith's "Christmas message" is intellectually insulting to both Christianity and libertarianism, because it dummies down both. Whether Smith does so out of ignorance, expediency, or poor communication skills, I don't know. I suspect all of the above.

Other libertarian bloggers have found Smith to be lacking in intellectual rigor. Maybe that's why Smith's "Christmas message" name-drops her reading list. She writes: "This year has found me discovering the many writings of Frederic Bastiat, Leonard Read, and Hayek. I cannot begin to explain the joy I feel at finding them."

I guess it's nice that Smith feels such joy, but I really don't give a damn about her -- or any other candidate's -- feelings. It reminds me of "compassionate conservative" Bush spending the 2000 race rambling about his feelings, always wanting to "tell you what's in my heart." In a candidate, I want a principled person with a clear understanding of, and commitment to, the Constitution. Not some squishy mush-head spouting a stream-of-consciousness about her feelings, even if she does pepper her ramblings with positive words like "liberty" and "freedom" and "compassion."

There's much nonsense when Smith's rambles about her feelings, some of it as embarrassing as her snow frolic photos: "I celebrate this re-awakening of the basis of libertarianism within me...my heart sings and I am flying again as a result."

Fly away, snowbird! Fly away!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Ron Paul "New Year's Eve" March

Organizers are planning a series of Ron Paul marches on New Year's Eve -- in cities throughout America! The idea is to generate media buzz by creating a "media bomb" of an event.

Find out how you can participate in a Ron Paul march in your city.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Angela Keaton's Liberated Space Interviews Me

You can download me at Blog Talk Radio, or listen to me here.

The focus of the show was "libertarian and the arts." We discussed Vampire Nation, among other things.

Angela thought the show went well.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Libertarians for Peace" Chain Cheney

California Freedom's January 2008 issue features an article by Lawrence K. Samuels of Monterey Libertarians for Peace. I've reprinted his article and photos below:

" 'Impeach for Peace,' Say Monterey Libertarians"

by Lawrence K. Samuels

"Monterey Libertarians, Monterey CodePink, and student peace activists of every political stripe rallied at Monterey's Window-on-the-Bay on December 8th to demand the impeachment of the entire Bush administration.

"Organizers -- which included local Libertarian leaders -- dubbed the event an "Impeach for Peace" rally. Participants plastered the park with four-foot-high Impeach signs and pink Peace symbols. The rally culminated with a faux Vice President Dick Cheney, who was handcuffed and donned in prison uniform.

"Support from motorists was incredible; very different from just a few years ago. This author witnessed many drivers honking their horns, smiling and displaying thumbs up."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christine Smith, the Hollow Newcomer Who Wants to Lead

Several months ago, Libertarian presidential candidate Christine Smith's website was mostly vague, feel-good fluff. More recently, she's created some buzz in the blogospshere by posting some radical, purist stuff.

Only, Smith’s words ring hollow to me. I don’t believe she means anything she says, so I won’t comment on their content.

Why don’t I believe her? Because, as far as I know, she’s a newcomer to libertarian activism. If she’s sincere, where was she all these years?

Smith should shut up, and listen, and learn.

Even were I to agree with Smith (not saying I do or don’t), she’s hasn’t earned the right to lead any charges. She’s earned no LP stripes, and unlike Ron Paul or Karen Kwiatkowski, Smith also lacks any great accomplishments outside the party.

I don’t believe Smith is sincere in her newfound passion for libertarian purism. Sorry, I ain’t buying her, regardless of what she’s selling.

Coincidentally, I hear that pro-war "Libertarian" Wayne Allyn Root has begun to soften his war message. Like Smith, Root is "evolving" as he campaigns. Like Smith, Root is a newcomer (author of Millionaire Republican). And as with Smith, I don't trust Root.

Nothing wrong with "evolving." But if you're a newcomer, and you're still figuring out what you stand for, you're not ready to run on top of our ticket. Humility and sincerity should compel you to step aside -- without having to be asked -- and support someone more experienced and grounded in his or her beliefs.

But then, neither Smith nor Root strike me as humble types. They're campaigning for their own egos, not for liberty

At least Steve Kubby and George Phillies have proven their libertarian stripes over the years. Neither are exactly impressive figures, but I'd prefer either as LP presidential candidates.

(Smith's newfound purist boilerplate beats Root's neocon-tainted rhetoric, but I doubt Smith's sincerity.)

Of course, I'm still hoping that Ron Paul or Karen Kwiatkowski, or someone of comparable gravitas, integrity, and credibility enters the LP race before the 2008 Denver convention.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Wild Oats Libertarian "Creeped Out" by Wayne Allyn Root

My PorcuPeace "Libertarians for Peace" button is attracting much attention in liberal Santa Monica. Yesterday I blogged about the Starbucks Libertarian who commented favorably on my button. Today I'll describe the Wild Oats Libertarian.

Both incidents occurred over the past couple of months. Both times the clerk was a twentysomething white male.

While two people initiating comments do not make for a scientific poll, it's noteworthy that no women or people of color commented on my button. After all, women and people of color do work at Starbucks, Wild Oats, and other stores that I frequent. But apparently, the word "Libertarian" does not spark their interest, even when connected with a peace sign.

As with the Starbucks Libertarian, the Wild Oats Libertarian liked most of what he'd heard about the party's ideas, but he wasn't active in the party. He had heard Wayne Allyn Root on the radio, and found Root to be "creepy" due to Root's belligerent war stand.

Wild Oats Libertarian was glad when I told him that Root would likely not get the LP presidential nomination. He was curious as to who else was running for the LP nomination. He'd only heard of Root.

Small wonder, since Reich-Wing Radio has been interviewing Root, and only Root, for many months now. Neocon Radio trumpets Root as "Libertarian presidential candidate Wayne Allyn Root," as if Root were already the LP's official candidate. No balance, no "We Report, You Decide." Not only does Neocon Radio not interview Root's opponents for the LP nomination, it doesn't even mention that Root has opponents for the LP nomination.

I explained to Wild Oats Libertarian that many of us in the LP were hoping that Ron Paul would enter the LP race. He liked that.

Wild Oats Libertarian is pro-peace. He summarized his philosophy to me, which is that we all need to learn non-violence, but that unfortunately many of us haven't "evolved" to that point yet. He's hopeful that humanity will keep "evolving" to a point of "universal nonviolence."

So Wild Oats Libertarian has a very New Agey philosophy, which is not uncommon in Santa Monica, nor at Wild Oats. If you've ever been in a Wild Oats grocery, it's full of organic this, and organic that, and Putumayo World Music CDs, and incense, and green-friendly detergents and toiletries.

Starbucks Libertarian didn't seem so New Agey.

I'm glad that libertarianism is appealing to twentysomethings, though we still need to locate these people and recruit them into the party. Wearing Libertarian buttons seems to help. It attracts their attention so that they initiate contact. Chances are, they've never met a party activist or officer before.

Unfortunately, it seems the LP's appeal is still almost exclusively to white men. Young white men to succeed the mostly middle-aged, white men who currently run the party. We must still figure out how to bring in more women and people of color.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Starbucks Libertarian Wants Stronger Top Tier Candidates

A guy working at Starbucks recently complained to me that the LP is "too disorganized." (Are they barristas if they're male, or barristos?)

This Starbucks worker had seen my PorcuPeace pin (which says "Libertarians for Peace") and he said he liked it, so I asked if he was a Libertarian. He said he liked some of the party's views, but didn't much like the party. I asked why, and he said it was because the party was "too disorganized."

His word. We're "disorganized."

I asked why he thought so, because it seems to me that the party is nothing if not organized. We've all levels of organization, from regions, to counties, to states, to national. And at every level, we have officers, websites, internal elections, delegates, bylaws, supper clubs, meetings, conventions, and ... well, there's really no one better at rearranging deck chairs than a Libertarian. We're still rearranging deck chairs long after the Titanic is underwater.

So this Starbucks worker replied, "I guess what I mean is, you guys never run any serious candidates." He then went on to explain that our presidential candidates were nobodies.

"So you think we should run more prominent people for president?" I asked.

"Well, or even for governor, or senator," he replied.

So that's "the word on the street" about the party. Although anecdotal evidence proves very little, it's nice to occasionally get a sense of what our supporters think of us.

This guy was a twentysomething white guy, working in a Starbucks in Santa Monica, California. He likes some of what he's heard about us, but all he knows about us, looking in from the outside, is who are top tier candidates are. The rest, he doesn't pay attention to.

This is noteworthy, because one recurring complaint in LP circles is that the party wastes too much resources on national elections. Those who hold this theory believe the LP should opt out of presidential elections, and run no one. Instead, we should focus on local elections, which in theory are easier to win. Then build a "farm team" of local office holders, who would then run for higher office. From school district board member, to state assembly, to senator, to president. So holds the theory.

LPC Southern Vice Chair Zander Collier III is a proponent of this "localist" theory.

I disagree. I stand with those who hold that presidential elections are great advertising. National elections are a great way to get on C-SPAN and attract attention. Ordinary people expect a real political party to run presidential candidates. They judge us by the prominence of our top-of-the-ticket candidates.

Zander Collier has told me that none of our national efforts have translated into votes or party growth. Yet who's to say we wouldn't be weaker if we didn't run national candidates?

My conversation with Starbucks Libertarian reaffirms the theory that the Average Joe only pays attention to "major office" elections, so unless we field candidates for those offices -- strong candidates -- we'll be invisible to "the man on the street."

Starbucks Libertarian likes our ideas, but he doesn't actively support the party because it's "too disorganized." Apparently, he assumes the LP didn't want to run its poor past candidates, but that it did so only because it was "too disorganized" to find serious candidates.

My conversation with Starbucks Libertarian (which occurred a month or so ago; I only now got around to blogging it) supports the theory that the LP would greatly benefit from running Ron Paul for president. Paul's a serious name candidate, whereas the LP's current declared candidates are a joke.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ron Paul Meetups Whoop Competition

Here's a cute image I found on the internet, just today. I don't know how accurate it is, but I assume it has some basis in reality. It certainly wouldn't surprise me if it were true.

IMPORTANT: You must click the image to get it to work.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Libertarians Prefer Ron Paul to the LP's Declared Candidates

None of the LP's presidential candidates excite Libertarians, much less "ordinary" Americans, as does Ron Paul. I know one California LP stalwart who kinda likes Kubby, but reserves his enthusiasm for Paul. I prefer Phillies to Kubby, but I want Paul. (My second choice is Karen Kwiatkowski, who likewise isn't running, yet.)

Why are the announced LP presidential candidates failing to excite the membership? How did we attract such a sorry bunch? Alas, it's true. And if you think that I've left the Libertarian reservation, consider the following:

On December 9, Stephen Gordon reported on ThirdPartyWatch.com that "In a move most unusual for this body, the Libertarian National Committee just adopted a resolution encouraging Ron Paul to seek the Libertarian Party presidential nomination ... The resolution recognized Paul’s standing and history with the Libertarian Party. It also recognized a renewed passion that Paul has ignited across America ... The motion was raised by former Congressman Bob Barr and approved unanimously by the body."

That's right, the LP's leadership has practically endorsed another party's presidential candidate. Unanimously.

Gordon quotes from the resolution: "In the event that Republican primary voters select a candidate other than Congressman Paul in February of 2008, the Libertarian National Committee invites Congressman Ron Paul to seek the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party..."

So the LNC recognizes that our current presidential candidates are, well, they're not exactly Ron Paul, are they?

Many Libertarians are thrilled with America's excitement over Ron Paul, particularly the enthusiasm he inspires among youth. I've heard LP members theorize that once Paul loses the GOP nomination, his supporters will swarm to the LP, especially if Paul runs on it. (They'll even come, if not swarm, if he doesn't.)

I agree. But some Libertarians have postulated a "dark side" to the Paul phenomenon. They think that Paul is competing for "our" money. One party pundit wrote that 70% of all LP member donations are going to the Paul campaign, the remaining 30% to all LP parties and candidates (national, state, and local). I suspect this pundit pulled that 70% out of his a--, but I agree that some of the money that went to Paul would have gone to us.

Not everyone thinks so. A longtime L.A. party officer (and Paul contributor) opined to me, "Yeah, right. As if all that money would have gone to the party.)

In any event, the whole thing may be mute. Within hours of the LNC inviting Paul to seek the LP nomination, Paul declined. A few Libertarian bloggers are already attacking the LNC for their resolution, claiming that both Reformers and Radicals are upset with the LNC over this.

I disagree. The LNC did good.

Neither do I blame Paul for declining the LNC's invite. He's still in the GOP race.

But should Paul court the LP presidential nomination at the May LP convention, I'll still vote for him. And I suspect most delegates will as well -- both Reformers and Radicals.