Monday, June 28, 2010

Wayne Allyn Root's Hypocritical Whine About "Back Room Deals"

On June 23, at See the Independent Political Report, Steve LaBianca wrote (comment # 148):

"I have on good info that W.A.R. is STEAMED about losing the LNC chair election, and blames it on 'deals' cut, and lost as a result, even though W.A.R. believes that he is the favorite of the delegates!"

So apparently, Root blames his losing the Libertarian Party's 2010 Chair race on a "back room deal." This deal supposedly involved John Jay Myers endorsing Mark Hinkle, after Myers came in next to last (after George Phillies).

To this complaint by Root, Carolyn Marbry responded (comment # 186)

"Geez, here we go with more sour grapes and whining about losing… Nah, more like pot kettle black, actually.

"Look, it’s not a back room deal for two like-minded candidates to agree between themselves on a strategy of endorsement to maximize the possibility of one of them or the other being elected. This is how it’s done. That’s a strategy, not a back room deal.

"Does anybody really find it surprising that Myers’ supporters would be drawn to Hinkle over Hancock or Root, even without John Jay endorsing him? So that was mostly pro forma anyway and mostly ended up saving us one more round of voting.

"No one has suggested, at least in my hearing, that Hinkle offered Myers any sort of pay off to endorse him. If there was some kind of pay off, I’d like to know about it because that would drastically change my opinion of both men involved."

So Carolyn accurately destroys Root's whine about a back room deal. Interestingly, she then claims that Root offered a back room deal to Hancock. Carolyn writes:

"if you want an example of a REAL back room deal, though, here’s one. When one candidate goes to his exact political opposite who was dropped right before the final round of voting and makes the offer to give that other candidate’s media website a listing on and to 'make sure' that other candidate gets elected to the LNC if he makes an endorsement, THAT is a back room deal.

"To Hancock’s credit, he refused this offer.

"The 'back room deal' of which I speak was caught on film, apparently, by Root’s own film crew, so he apparently didn’t think so ill of back room deals at the time."

Root had hired a film crew to shoot a TV "reality show" about his race for Libertarian Party Chair. It has previously been reported on IPR that the show would only be shopped should Root win the Chair race. Root lost, so I guess he won't be hawking his "reality show." As if anyone in America would care to watch his ego on display.

Speaking of back room deals, what about Root (after he lost the 2008 LP presidential nomination), offering to endorse Bob Barr for president, provided that Barr would then endorse Root as his VP running mate.

That's another Root-engineered back room deal, which Root would prefer people forget. I was at the 2008 convention. The Barr and Root people hated each other. Their unity at the 2008 convention's end was pure expediency; whereas I'm not aware of any animosity between the Hinkle and Myers supporters in 2010.

Finally, David F. Nolan said (comment # 187):

"there was no 'backroom deal' made by Myers and Hinkle; Myers simply dropped out because he knew he wasn’t going to win and Hinkle was his preferred choice. The IPR straw poll the night before predicted almost exactly what would happen ... if Wayne is whining about being cheated in the Chair’s race, that’s pathetic. He wasn’t. He lost, fair and square, despite spending (he claims) more than all of the four other candidates combined."

See the full thread here.

BTW, while I've often criticized Root, largely for his pro-war views, I'm only one of many Root critics. Read this latest criticism on Root from Carol Moore.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

France Has Always Been Oceania's Ally

The Neocon Party Line regarding France has changed.

On June 25 I was listening to radio's John Batchelor Show. John Batchelor is a hardcore, pro-war Neocon. He was interviewing some guy and they discussed France's historical conduct in war.

The two men praised France's centuries-old, warrior tradition. They spoke of how France revered battlefield courage and the military spirit. They cited France's conduct in Vietnam, how France remembered and honored its Vietnam vets because, despite losing, they fought bravely.

Now, whatever the truth of falsehood of John Batchelor's analysis of French military culture, I remember that only a few years ago, American Neocons universally and incessantly reviled the French for being cowards.

What changed?

I suppose that, earlier this decade, France wasn't a strong enough supporter of American adventures in the Mideast. Then France elected the more pro-war, pro-American military, pro-Israeli military Nicolas Sarkozy. So now France is lionized.

Understand, I'm not complaining about anyone saying that this particular French administration was better or worse than that French administration. What I find laughably -- and creepily -- Orwellian is the blanket praise or condemnation by which an entire nation, culture, and history is judged, based on current events.

When a French administration, earlier this decade, failed to support American Neocon efforts strongly enough, ALL of French history and culture was to be universally condemned and despised as cowardly and evil. (Or, as the Neocons put it, "lacking a moral compass" or "lacking in moral clarity.")

But now that the current French administration is more friendly to U.S. and Israeli policy, ALL of French history and culture is to be universally praised and admired.

This is the essence of political correctness. No subtlety or nuance. (Yes, nuance is good.) This is the politically correct, knee-jerk "thinking" by which liberalism was characterized in the 1970s, and into which conservatism descended during the 1990s.

What's called "conservatism" these days is simply Orwellian parrot-speak, with the Party Line changing on a dime.

Only a few years ago, France was a nation of cheese-eating surrender monkeys. France had always been a nation of cheese-eating surrender monkeys. France always would be a nation of cheese-eating surrender monkeys.

(Neocons whined that Napoleon was Corsican, and Charlemagne was German, so they didn't count as "French" -- so the French were still cowardly surrender monkeys.)

But now we're told that France is a nation of courageous warriors. France has always been a nation of courageous warriors. France always will be a nation of courageous warriors.

Until Oceania's Neocon Party Line changes yet again. It's doing so now on Turkey. It's done several times over the past decade on Russia.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Peaceniks to Protest Rep. Brad Sherman's Office

Angela Keaton of requests that people disseminate this call to protest:

Demonstration in front of Rep. Brad Sherman's Office

Saturday, June 19th, 4:00 PM

5000 Van Nuys Blvd. (Suite 420)
Sherman Oaks, CA 91403

Please bring your signs to protest Sherman's call for the arrest of U.S. citizens aboard the Gaza Flotilla. Flyers and extra signs will be available.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pentagon Hunts for Whistleblower Julian Assange

I received this from the Google's Peace Movement Google Group:


"Pentagon officials are on the hunt for Julian Assange, Australian-born founder of Wikileaks, fearful that the website is on the verge of publishing a cache of confidential State Department cables, including an alleged video of American troops killing civilians in Baghdad. Assange allegedly came into possession of the documents and video from Bradley Manning, a US soldier who had been arrested after boasting about the leak.

"Manning, an intelligence specialist in the US army, had access to assessments from the battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as what's been described as "frank diplomatic insights" into various Middle East governments.

"Pentagon officials acknowledge they may not be able to stop the publication of the cables. According to reports at The Daily Beast, Pentagon officials would not discuss the methods used to track and find Assange, simply that they are hoping for his cooperation. Assange had been scheduled to appear in Las Vegas, Nevada last week but cancelled his appearance on the advice of counsel.

"At least one person with some understanding of how the government works in trying to shut down leaks believes that Assange might be in some danger. Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the Pentagon Papers, isn't buying government claims that the cables pose a serious risk to national security. According to Ellsberg, it may strain relations with some countries, and the United States would certainly face embarrassment, but in Ellsberg's assessment the cables represent more an issue of saving face than exposing diplomatic secrets.

"And Ellsberg is not necessarily calling for a blanket publication of all cables. Assange, assuming he is in possession of these documents, could easily look over their contents and see if any truly deserve to be secret. Ellsberg's point is a simple one. Democracies, to function, require transparency, and the American people deserve to see the honest assessments of our military exploits abroad. Assange's website provides a valuable service, and one that, no mater how uncomfortable it may make some in the State Department."

Saturday, June 12, 2010

U.S. Lt. Col. Ann Wright Participated in Gaza Freedom Floatilla

Ann Wright participated in the Freedom Floatilla to Gaza. No, she's not an Islamo-Fascist terrorist -- she's a retired U.S. Army officer and State Dept. diplomat.

According to The Nation:

"Ann Wright, longtime activist and critic of the ongoing siege of Gaza, took part in the Freedom Flotilla that was attacked by Israeli Navy commandos on May 31. A retired US Army colonel and a former high-level diplomat, Wright has served as deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Afghanistan, which she helped to open after the US invasion of 2001, as well as in several other countries, including Sierra Leone, where after helping to evacuate several thousand people during that country's civil war she received the State Department's Award for Heroism in 1997.

Wright's distinguished career came to a sudden end in 2003 when she publicly resigned from the State Department to protest the invasion of Iraq. Since then, she has campaigned against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and for human rights for Palestinians. After working with CodePink to organize several humanitarian missions to Gaza to break the Israeli blockade last year, Wright joined the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, only to see the activists' humanitarian mission terminated by Israel's raid. On June 9 she visited The Nation and gave this account of what she and her fellow activists experienced."

If you go to The Nation, you can download an MP3 interview of Ann Wright discussing her experience.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gaza Flotilla Footage Smuggled Out of Israel

I remember the anti-Communist Reaganism of the 1980s. One of conservativism's points of evidence against Communism was the Soviet State's attempt to suppress free expression. Book, photos, film footage had to be smuggled out of the Soviet Union.

Conservatives regarded it as a "given" that if people had to smuggle information out of a country, that alone was enough to indict the country's government. Didn't matter how accurate the information was -- that was for the viewer or reader to decide. Free nations did not suppress information.

Shortly after Israel attacked the Gaza Aid Floatilla, killing 9 aid workers, talk radio in Los Angeles, almost unanimously, defended Israel's attack. Soon afterwards, Israel released footage of the attack, which its defenders claimed "proved" that armed Israeli commandos were merely defending themselves against civilian aid workers.

But as The Guardian reports:

"Michalis Grigoropoulos, who was at the wheel of the Free Mediterranean, said: 'We were in international waters. The Israelis acted like pirates, completely out of the normal way that they conduct nautical exercises, and seized our ship. They took us hostage, pointing guns at our heads; they descended from helicopters and fired tear gas and bullets. There was absolutely nothing we could do … Those who tried to resist forming a human ring on the bridge were given electric shocks.'

"Grigoropoulos, who insisted the ship was full of humanitarian aid bound for Gaza 'and nothing more', said that, once detained, the human rights activists were not allowed to contact a lawyer or the Greek embassy in Tel Aviv. 'They didn't let us go to the toilet, eat or drink water and throughout they videoed us. They confiscated everything, mobile phones, laptops, cameras and personal effects. They only allowed us to keep our papers.'

Now, you can prove almost anything depending on how you edit footage. Israel had all the footage -- its own and that which it confiscated. Any conservative, or libertarian, who is consistent, would at least doubt the footage released by any government, especially if that government had confiscated its opponent's footage.

Fortunately for the truth, some footage has been successfully smuggled out of Israel. (And what does it say about a nation, that one must "smuggle" footage out of it?)

Here's some of it now:

And part two:

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Libertarian Party Platform Change on International Affairs

Carol Moore sends this old and new version of Section 3.3., International Affairs, in the Libertarian Party's national platform, which was changed at the 2010 national convention.

Some peaceniks have called the new version an improvement, but I see little substantive change.

This is the Old Version. The italicized parts have been removed:

"American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world and its defense against attack from abroad. We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid. We recognize the right of all people to resist tyranny and defend themselves and their rights. We condemn the use of force, and especially the use of terrorism, against the innocent, regardless of whether such acts are committed by governments or by political or revolutionary groups."

This is the New Version. The italicized parts have been added:

"American foreign policy should seek an America at peace with the world. Our foreign policy should emphasize defense against attack from abroad and enhance the likelihood of peace by avoiding foreign entanglements. We would end the current U.S. government policy of foreign intervention, including military and economic aid. We recognize the right of all people to resist tyranny and defend themselves and their rights. We condemn the use of force, and especially the use of terrorism, against the innocent, regardless of whether such acts are committed by governments or by political or revolutionary groups."

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Libertarian Mike Gravel: Peace Talks Must Involve Hamas

Former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, who ran for president as a Democrat in 2008, then sought the Libertarian Party's nomination, welcomed Russia as an honest broker for prospective Mideast peace talks. During a broadcast interview, Gravel said on Russia's Press TV:

"Press TV: Russia as we just mentioned, says it wants Hamas to play a role in these Middle East peace efforts, do you agree with that?

Mike Gravel: That's so important and I really want to applaud President Medvedev for what he is doing; because, this is the first semblance of somebody acting as an honest broker, which, of course, the United States is not able to do because of the Jewish influence within the country.

The States declared Hamas a terrorist group, the same thing with Hezbollah. These are not terrorist groups. They fight for their rights which is what they are entitled to, but clearly with respect to Hamas, which has been sabotaged by the Israeli government and the American government for that fact.

Now, I just think it is very significant that Russia is stepping forward in trying to involve Hamas into the only thing that will bring about a possible peace. You cannot exclude Hamas and any designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization, should be removed and not honored in the global community.

Press TV: The parties will counter a settlement without Hamas, if so, can any settlement actually be implemented without Hamas' involvement?

Mike Gravel: No, it can't. Hamas is more popular within the Palestinian community than Fatah and so it just can't and this of course is part of the Israeli tactic, to go ahead and get Hamas isolated, knowing that there will never be any peace unless you include Hamas.

Keep in mind, Hamas, was a dually elected party and it has the support of the Palestinian people. To say that whoever the Palestinians choose, that can't be negotiated with because you don't agree with them; well, that is certainly no scenario to bring about peace and that's an easy scenario, that the United States and Israel have been playing out, for 5 decades or so.

Press TV: Let's talk about these peace talks. The Palestinian party, as you well know, has started indirect talks with Israel. Where do you see those talks headed?

Mike Gravel: I don't see them headed any place constructive, until you bring Hamas to the table. The indirect peace talks… why can't they talk directly? Why does it have to be indirect?

These charades that people play, to make it look like they're seriously, trying to bring about something, well it's not a serious undertaking, and the Russian move at this point, with President Medvedev, is a serious move forward, that could realize peace, but of course the Netanyahu government is not on their agenda."

Gravel has previously advocated for national referendum elections in the U.S. Most 2008 LP delegates did not welcome Gravel's direct democracy solution to social and political problems.

Gravel has also been a critic of the growth of the U.S. military.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Aaron Starr Fails to Bribe Libertarian Party Delegates

Over at Independent Political Report, Thomas Knapp reports that at the 2010 LP national convention:

"the convention considered a measure to allow voting on bylaws measures by mail. Aaron Starr, Treasurer of the Libertarian Party, estimated that such a mailing would cost around $8000–roughly as much as an issue of LPNews. Starr, a supporter of the measure, offered to pay for the first mailing. The measure ultimately failed by a voice vote."

This is not the first time Starr has pulled this stunt. At the 2007 Libertarian Party of California convention, Starr wanted a certain measure passed. I forget what it was for -- a bylaws change, perhaps. But I do remember that he publicly offered to donate $15,000 to the LPC if the measure passed.

These bribery attempts are not especially egregious. Starr made them in public, before all assembled delegates. He was not trying to buy votes for his own campaign, but to pass measures that he said (and likely believed) were in the party's best interest. Certainly, he's free to tie strings to his donations.

Even so, these were bribes. I wasn't at the 2010 convention, but I was at the 2007 convention, and I know that Starr's offer left a bad taste in some delegates' mouths.

Libertarians, even povertarians, are not especially prone to class envy. Yet an anti-elitist sentiment permeates many conventions. A feeling that "we're all equal on the floor."

Seeing a delegate flash his checkbook to donate money earns goodwill. But seeing a delegate flash his checkbook in an attempt to buy votes for a bylaw or platform change leaves a bad taste. Votes should be won on the merits -- on the arguments one can muster based on one's intelligence and principles -- and not on who has the bigger checkbook.

At the 2007 convention Aaron Starr's offer was rebuffed. At the 2010 convention Starr's offer was not only rebuffed, but he was later trounced in his attempt to win re-election for LP national treasurer.

If Starr is wise, he'll have finally learned his lesson. When you offer to donate money in exchange for delegates' votes, the answer is likely "No."