Saturday, May 31, 2008

Libertarian Party of California: "We Suck!"

San Fernando LP Chair Ed Bowers was so unhappy with his fellow California delegates (more of whom voted for Nevadan Wayne Allyn Root than for homeboy Steve Kubby) that Bowers insisted on posing for this photo.

"Notice that I wrote we suck," said Bowers, stressing that his message was inclusive of both the Reformers who supported Root, and the Radicals who stayed home rather than attend the Denver convention. This latter group includes Bowers's own brother, Los Angeles County LP Secretary David Bowers.

Curiously, though Root is the self-proclaimed "King of Las Vegas," Root, his wife, and their 16-year-old daughter were all California delegates.

Even more curiously, not one of the six Nevada delegates voted for Root. All six voted for Mike Gravel, later switching to Mary Ruwart.

I asked the Nevada delegation why none of them supported their fellow Nevadan, Root. The delegates smiled and said that everyone was asking them that question. They then explained that they knew nothing about Root. Root had not bothered to attend the Nevada LP convention, and never asked them for their support.

I asked the delegation about rumors that Root might run for mayor of Las Vegas, or for Nevada's Senate seat, on the LP ticket. The delegates knew nothing of such plans and seemed unexcited about a potential Root candidacy.

Considering the Nevada delegates' cool attitude toward Root, I suppose I can understand why Root carpet-bagged his family into the much larger California delegation.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Last Minute Anti-Ruwart Lies on the Convention Floor

Someone (or a group of someones) was spreading ugly and outlandish anti-Ruwart rumors on the convention floor during the voting. Before the 5th ballot, after Senator Mike Gravel was dropped, I asked Mike's daughter, Lynne Moiser, to vote for Mary Ruwart. 

I'd been supporting and advising the Gravel campaign during the previous week, since they were new to the Libertarian mindset and convention process. Lynne said she'd go along and vote for Ruwart, since I'd been nice to the Gravel campaign. 

But Lynne also told me an unsettling rumor. She said she'd heard on the floor that the "Washington Post was about to break a story that the Libertarian Party was nominating child pornographer Mary Ruwart." That false and ugly accusation about Ruwart was old news, based on an out of context quote from a book by Ruwart that had been unearthed by George Phillies. Both Wayne Allyn Root and Christine Smith had pounced on Ruwart at the time, asking for her to withdraw. The rumor was known and disregarded by Ruwart's supporters. However, Lynne was new to Libertarianism. She was unfamiliar with our blogs and channels of communication. This false rumor was news to her. And this Washington Post twist was entirely new. So, the Washington Post was "about to break a story" about the LP was nominating a child pornographer? Really? Where did that come from? Well, an effective lie needs to be specific. It's more believable that way. Clearly, someone was spreading lies on the convention floor, when only Barr, Ruwart, and Root remained on the ballot -- in that order. Which camp was spreading these lies? Barr or Root? Root was in last place (behind Ruwart) and his campaign has a history of playing the "child pornographer " card against Ruwart. But there's no hard evidence either way. That's how lies work. They emerge, do their damage, then disappear down the memory hole. Sadly, there's no price to pay for spreading lies late in the game. By the time the lies are exposed and confronted, the balloting is long since over. Yet for the record, it seems likely that at least one of the candidates on the LP's Barr/Root ticket (or their campaigns) was playing dirty tricks on the convention floor. Which of these men wanted the nomination that bad? Either way, it's sad. Very sad.

Massachusetts LP Revolts Against Barr/Root

On May 27, as I was leaving for Denver airport, a member of the LNC (who shared the van ride with me) told me that the Massachusetts LP is in revolt. Their members are refusing to gather petitions for Barr/Root.

Thus, the LP must now spend money on professional signature gatherers in MA, when previously they'd relied on volunteer signature gatherers.

I wonder how many Libertarian voters Barr/Root will lose? Many Libertarians are saying that they will not vote for Barr/Root.

If Republicans "go home" to McCain by the time November rolls around (as usually happens), it may be that Barr/Root underperform Badnarik.

Libertarian Party's Antiwar Resolution

One bright spot of the 2008 LP national convention was the passage of an antiwar resolution. It was introduced by Los Angeles County LP Vice Chair Bruce Dovner on Monday, May 26, and passed by the delegation.

Bruce has now emailed me his resolution, as passed at the national convention:

"Whereas the War in Iraq was sold to the American people based upon lies, exaggerations and half-truths,

Whereas the War in Iraq was prosecuted for the private interests of the Administration and its cronies and was not, and is not, in the national security interests of the United States,

We call for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq as quickly as can be safely accomplished."

So it's official now. The LP is an antiwar party. I especially like the wording. Very strong and uncompromising.

Curiously, I've not seen this antiwar resolution in any LP press releases. I hope that "oversight" will be rectified.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Christine Smith's Meltdown

Many have called newbie Libertarian presidential candidate Christine Smith "delusional" and worse. Although behaving in a condescending "purer than thou" manner, she never enjoyed any widespread support among Purists or Radicals. They much preferred Mary Ruwart, Steve Kubby, or even Mike Gravel.

For months, Smith had been claiming to be "the frontrunner by any metric." Yet she got only 6 votes on the first ballot. Talk about a reality check!

During her "concession speech," Smith went ballistic, attacking Barr for "hijacking" the LP. I'd have enjoyed seeing Smith's psycho performance. She always irritated me, her being a newbie yet presuming to lecture to Purists on what it means to be a Purist.

Sadly, much of the California delegation was out in the hallway voting on the next ballot while Smith was freaking out live on C-SPAN. So I missed the show.

I wish I had some photos or videos of Smith's meltdown. All I could find was this post-meltdown video:

Smith's performance was boo-worthy. But the Barr contingent who did the booing were the proverbial pot calling the kettle black.

Prior to Smith's antics, the Barr people led a placard parade past the C-SPAN cameras while LP Chair Redpath was speaking. Very rude. The Barr folks were behaving just like ... well, like Christine Smith.

I'll post more on the convention later. I haven't had much time while at the convention itself. I made my last post from a molasses-slow Verizon "high-speed wireless broadband" internet connection. (High speed. Yeah, right.)

Meanwhile, Smith continues her immature tantrum on her blog. (I suspect she herself wrote those "emails of support" from her imaginary fans.)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Libertarian Party Convention Report

I'm at the LP convention now, on the floor. A delegate just asked about a rumor that Bob Barr's campaign is stacking the floor with "hired delegates."

* Thursday.

Storms in Denver. My American Airlines plane sits on the LAX tarmac for nearly an hour before takeoff.

The LP arranged for a shuttle to take us from Denver airport to the hotel. $22 round trip -- cheap! Our driver got lost briefly; seeking a shortcut, I guess. We took a bumpy ride along a dirt road, cows to one side, before we reached a dead end. Two cars were (idiotically) following us, and were likewise forced to turn around at the dead end.

* Thursday night.

The 9/11 Truth movement sponsored an unofficial debate. Lots of free popcorn. Three flavors.

Daniel Imperato came off as a real loon. Here is his explanation of 9/11, as best I remember it (not an exact quote, but a condensed paraphrase): "9/11 began when Jacob grabbed Esau's heel, thus did the Jews steal the Arabs' birthright. Since then, Arabs have been trying to regain their birthright. Christopher Columbus was a Jew who discovered America. When Washington was inaugurated, he established the United States as a Judeao-Christian nation. The Jews worked hard to control international finance. The Arabs "woke up" to this Jewish control, realized they'd built nothing, and so they established the United Arab Emirites. The Saudis launched 9/11 and attacked the U.S. at the exact spot where Washington was inaugurated in order to divide the U.S. from God (making it no longer a "nation under God"). As a result, the Saudis now control American finance, having taken it away from the Jews."

Imperato bragged of all his international connections, and how as president he can use that to help the U.S.

George Phillies runs a great hospitality suite. Great sandwiches. Free alcohol and soda (although I only drank water and coffee). Someone praised the jelly beans.

Imperato's statement made for much fun gossip at Phillies's hospitality suite, everyone passing it on and laughing about it. One wonders, does Imperato have a clue as to how "out of touch" he is with the LP?

Also at Thursday's debate, one of the presidential candidates (Jeffers? Johnson?) refused the sign the 9/11 Truth group's pledge (basically a call for further investigation). He was thus asked to leave, then ordered out. "I paid for this event," one large woman said as she had the candidate escorted out.

Starchild challenged Mike Gravel, asking if any of the candidates supported "initiation of force." Gravel didn't understand the question, answering if someone got unruly (alluding to the ejected candidate), it was proper to throw that person out of the room. Starchild clarified, redirecting Gravel to his position of using state funds for education. Gravel got snappish, saying that (a paraphrase), "Sure, if you want an uneducated country, you could have that, but to have a functioning democracy you needed an educated citizenry." Libertarians challenged Gravel, saying that the free market can provide that. Gravel didn't agree. "Sure, if you want to go back to the 18th century."

Gravel also suggested that the LP hadn't achieved anything in all its years, and thus we needed to get real (and by implication, nominate him). Ruwart stepped in and listed the LP's achievements, mainly that of "changing hearts and minds."

I later spoke with Gravel's people, noting that Gravel needs to show more respect to his audience. He must learn to "respectfully disagree."

Ruwart came off well, and I shifted closer to her after the debate.

[Just now, Alicia Mattson was giving a pitch for the Platform Committee's majority report. Angela Keaton demanded to know whether the minority report would get equal time. So Redpath allowed Rob Power to give a one minute pitch.]

As of Saturday morning, I still haven't given away my token. A presidential or VP candidate needs 30 tokens to be get time for nominating speeches. And tokens from 10% of delegates to be permitted in Saturday night's C-SPAN debate.

Also at the Phillies hospitality suite, last night, I met a delegate from Massachusetts. A Druid neo-Confederate. His sister is a lesbian, and so he can't stand Bob Barr. This delegate hates "religious bigots and homophobes. But he also thinks the Confederacy should have won the war!

I insisted that, even allowing for all the arguments against the North and Lincoln, the increase in government, the "unconstitutionality of the war," that the slaves "would have been freed anyway in about 40 years," that some blacks owned slaves (and I've heard all the -- often irrelevant -- neo-Confederate arguments) the result of freeing the slaves immediately (1863 or 1865, either way) morally justified the Civil War.

This delegate countered by saying that Lincoln "enslaved the South" -- and that blacks were better off under slavery -- !!!

A Druid who hates religious bigots and homophobes -- but who thinks blacks were better off under slavery. Only in the LP!

I should have known better than to argue with this man. Neo-Confederates are as stubbornly closed-minded as global warming believers.

* Friday.

By-Law stuff in the business session.

Bruce Cohen has been sitting in the Wayne Allyn Root booth. All the presidential candidates have booths. Even Alden Link. (Well, not Robert Milnes.)

Bruce has been scowling at me whenever he sees me. He also has a dog. A big white thing. I asked Bruce how me manged to get that dog into the hotel ballroom.

"We walked," said Bruce. "You should try it sometime." (A joke?) Then Bruce added, "My dog is even more pro-defense than I am."

That evening, I met Mike Binkley and Richard Venable at the hotel bar. Richard has been collecting Vice Presidential tokens for Gail Lightfoot. Gail showed up, and I gave her my VP token.

* Friday night.

Another unofficial debate. Ten candidates. A large crowd (must be over 100), cramped in a hot room. Virtually everyone except Bob Barr. I speculate this will backfire on Barr. Others agree. Libertarians don't like candidates who act "above it all."

Gravel's performance has improved. Friendly, not snappish. Jim Burns came off very well. Stately, less doddering, wisely libertarian. Christine Smith was hyper, her attitude matching her new "purer than thou" attitude. Kubby came off well.

Ruwart knows current events and history. So does Gravel. Ruwart mentioned that the Taliban had offered to turn over Osama bin Ladin to Bush, on condition that bin Ladin receive a fair trail. Bush declined, he invaded Aghanistan, and to date Bush has still failed to bring bin Ladin to justice.

Gravel observed that the Patriot Act has not drafted overnight. It had been waiting in the wings.

Root was energetic as ever. He reiterated that Obama was in his Columbia graduating class. Root also said that, were he to be nominated, he'd be the first Jewish presidential candidate from a major political party. Root suggested that this too would be a great media talking point.

I don't see that the LP is a "major political party." Bob Weber said to me that Marrou was Jewish, so Root wouldn't even be the first Jewish LP presidential candidate. Root's ignorance is matched only by his willingness to say anything if he thinks it'll win him the nomination. He's grasping at every imagined advantage, however irrelevant. I think Root is getting desperate, now that Barr is in the race.

Anthony Gregory, ever the ultra-purist anarchist, even found problems with Ruwart and Kubby (such as Kubby's reverence for the Constitution, a statist document). Gregory said that, of all the candidates, he thought Jim Burns was the best; the most libertarian.

After the debate I wandered through Bob Barr's reception. Barr was sitting by a table, chatting with people as they came up. He saw me, and invited me to have some food. I sat and talked with him.

Barr seems better in person than what I'd heard about him. I'd read (on, I think it was) that Barr was open to war on Iran. Barr denied this, saying that he'd been to Iran, he knew Iran, and war was unnecessary. He also denied wanting to send U.S. troops into Latin America to fight the war on drugs. Barr thought the only reason to send troops into Latin America would be to liberate Americans captured by terrorists.

I then went in search of the Ruwart party, held "outside, across the street." By the time I found it, all the food was gone. So I went to Phillies suite. Only fruit and jelly beans left. People from all campaigns congregating here. Root and Gravel buttons in evidence.

Outright Libertarians told me that Barr was busing in about 300 delegates for Saturday. "It's not a conspiracy theory," I was told. "It's a fact."

As of Friday, there were about 520 credentials delegates. About 550 Saturday morning.

* Saturday morning.

Platform debate going on. Scott Lieberman joked that he hoped that there were ambulances waiting outside, due to the expected bloodbath. Everyone expects much contention. Not so bad so far. At least it's civil.

I'll decide who gets my token in a few hours. As of last night, I'd heard that Phillies has about 40, Gravel 25-30, Barr over 100. Smith was asking for tokens at the debate, so that a real libertarian would be able to participate on C-SPAN.

One of Ruwart's people told me this morning that it's close; he's not sure yet. I'll check with them later today. If Ruwart sill needs tokens, I'll likely give it to her. If not, I may give it to Gravel.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mike Gravel: The Best Antiwar Candidate

There are no perfect candidates. I compromise. I determine the big issues. Then I select the candidate who can best promote those issues.

War without end is the big issue of our time. This Orwellian "decades-long war" against a shifting laundry list of nations to "rid the world of evil" itself. After 9/11 nearly all the world sympathized with us. We've since thrown away that goodwill, creating new enemies, stretching our military and weakening our security.

Antiwar is pro-defense.

Civil liberties is another big issue. But that ties into the war. James Madison wrote: "If tyranny and oppression come to this land it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy." And: "No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

American voters overwhelmingly oppose our current and (now being planned) future wars. The LP must market itself as the antiwar party. This would be popular with voters and pro-liberty. Pragmatic and principled.

George Phillies, Steve Kubby, and Mary Ruwart are all excellent on peace and civil liberties. I've voted for Phillies and Kubby in the past. I can enthusiastically support any of these three should they be our nominee.

Mike Gravel is equally good on peace and civil liberties. But he surpasses them on media and voter credibility. He is a past US Senator from Alaska. And though he is new to the LP, he is not new to effective peace activism.

To quote Gravel: "In 1971, I waged a one-man, five-month filibuster that forced an end to the Vietnam War draft. I released The Pentagon Papers, the top secret Pentagon study about how three presidential administrations lied to get us into Vietnam. I risked my political career and possible jail, but I decided that if our democracy is to survive, Americans must know what their government is doing. The Supreme Court sided with me."

The media knows and respects this. Other LP candidates can't match such credibility.

Gravel sought the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this year. Likely voters (the sort who watch early presidential debates) saw Gravel share the stage with Clinton and Obama. These likely voters already perceive Gravel as a "real" candidate.

Here's what Gravel said during one televised debate: "This is fantasy land. We're talking about ending the war. My God, we're just starting a war right today. There was a vote in the Senate today. Joe Lieberman, who authored the Iraq Resolution, has authored another resolution, and it is essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran.... I'm ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it ... Obama was not even there to vote."

Ever want to tell off Hillary to her face? Or Obama? Gravel did. Before a national audience. See it on YouTube:

Wayne Allyn Root says that Obama was in his Columbia graduating class, and that, although he never met Obama, this is a good talking point. Yet Root's ancient "Obama connection" pales beside Gravel recently debating Obama face-to-face. Before millions of Americans.

Root endorsed McCain/Lieberman before joining the LP as a pro-war candidate in 2007, then "converted" to non-interventionism. Yet at the California LP convention in February 2008, he said he'd emphasize economic issues. So even if his conversion is sincere, he still won't (unless he's changed again) make antiwar his flagship issue.

The LP should discuss the economy. But the economy ties into the war. Wars have bankrupted nations. Federal borrowing has ballooned. Fat chance of any tax cuts with those looming debt and interest payments.

We cannot discuss the economy without mentioning the war. We cannot attract voters by nominating Basil Fawlty.

Only Bob Barr approaches Gravel in terms of media and voter credibility. Yet while Barr has grown since joining the LP, he's still not "pure enough" for many libertarians. We need a candidate who's both pragmatic and pure.

I regard Gravel as Purist Lite. Not perfect on every issue, but excellent on those that matter. A pragmatic purist.

If you're a delegate to the upcoming LP convetion, and you have your own "dealbreaker" issues, please visit Gravel's campaign at the convention. He may already support your key issues. He's pro-choice on abortion, pro-gay marriage, anti-drug war. He wants to abolish the IRS, and the personal and corporate income tax (and replace them with a Fair Tax, i.e., national sales tax).

Pretty damn pure. But not so "extreme" as to "scare away" voters.

Undecided? Please give your token to Gravel, so he may participate in the Saturday debate. Hear what he has to say.

When it comes to ending our wars (thus strengthening our security and economy) and protecting civil liberties, I believe Gravel is as principled and more effective than any of our other candidates.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

May 2008 California Freedom

I'd submitted the finished May 2008 issue of California Freedom on April 27, but for some reason, it's still not up on the website. So I make it available online here.

Below I also reprint one of the articles in this May issue:

Libertarians Protest 4,000th U.S. Troop Killed in Iraq

by Lawrence K. Samuels

Monterey Libertarians for Peace, Monterey CodePink, and the Peace Coalition of Monterey were among the estimated thirty participants in an antiwar protest on March 24 at Windows-on-the-bay, in Monterey, CA.

The protest was organized in response to the death of the 4,000th U.S. soldier in the ongoing Iraq War. Large signs displayed on the grass mourned the mounting casualties, while Hanan Shawar, coordinator for Monterey CodePink, wore "bloodied" bandages to emphasize the horrors of war.

Protesters urged support for the troops rather than the war. They hoped to prevent the U.S. government from further betraying the idealism and bravery of U.S. service men and women by sacrificing their lives in a needless and unconstitutional war.

Passing motorists honked their approval of the protesters' antiwar message.

Shawar has for the past several years been a key partner with Monterey Libertarians for Peace in organizing antiwar efforts.
Lawrence K. Samuels is Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Monterey County. He co-chairs Monterey County Libertarians for Peace with Prof. David R. Henderson, an economist with the Hoover Institute. Samuels's email:

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Mike Gravel Would Be a Decent Libertarian Candidate

Former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel is now running for the LP presidential nomination. The LP could do worse. Gravel has a longtime antiwar record, opposing the draft during the Vietnam War and reading The Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record.

Until recently, Gravel was running for the Democratic presidential nomination. He got in some good jabs against pro-war Hillary Clinton.

Some people have titled his below video as Hillary Cackles. People Die.

See, I'm no purist. Mike Gravel, Steve Kubby, George Phillies, and Mary Ruwart would all be acceptable LP presidential candidates for me.

But no Root, please. And no Smith or Barr, either.