Sunday, April 29, 2012

Boot Root at the Libertarian Party Convention

I've long blogged about the Clintonesque (even Stalinesque) Libertarian embarrassment that is Wayne Allyn Root.

So have many others. The problem with Root is not in digging up his dirt, but in keeping track of it all. (So much slime, so little time!)

Now longtime libertarian activist Carol Moore has amassed and organized Root's misdeeds from around the internet, compiling them into a webpage and PDF pamphlets. She urges delegates to the 2012 Libertarian Party convention to print and distribute her material.

Moore's Boot Root webpage begins by saying:

Since the mid-1990s various groups and factions of Libertarian Party members have been pushing for the Libertarian Party to become more "respectable," "mainstream," and "middle class," and less radical, outrageous and/or low income.

The party is being destroyed by people who don't care if they drive out members and reduce the number of candidates as long as those remaining are respectable, mainstream, middle class - or as Wayne Root puts it "high quality."

These people have fought to continue gutting the platform of meaningful libertarian content, including the non-interventionist foreign policy planks, and to drive more "hardcore" libertarians out of leadership positions on the national and even state levels.

They have tried to centralize power so that a small group of mainstream, middle class libertarians could control the whole party from the national level. They have been increasingly successful, using their higher incomes, allegiance to power over principle, and attendant political machinations to get their way.

That's just the beginning. Read it all at Moore's Boot Root page.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Are Rich Neocons Buying the Libertarian Party?

One of the Libertarian Party's many factional splits is that between its Povertarians (libertarians with little money) and wealthier members. Exacerbating matters is that these two groups tend to have different political priorities.

Povertarians are more likely to be Radicals, emphasizing peace and civil liberties. Rich Libs are more likely to be Reform types: pro-war, pro-Root, and more interested in economics. Thus, they are more likely to find common ground with Republicans, conservatives, and even Neocons.

I'm sure there are rich Radicals and poor Reformers. Ron Paul is no Povertarian, yet many (most?) Radicals love Paul.

But as a general rule, wealthier libertarians are less Radical. As radical activist Carol Moore once told me in an email, it does seem the pro-war libs have all the money.

For better or worse, money does help one excert influence beyond one's numbers in the LP.

Now, if you're crying "class warfare" or "Communist!", kindly stuff it. I know about true Communism firsthand. Trying to level the playing field, so that all libertarians have an equal voice in the LP irrespective of their wealth is not Communism. If you think it is, go back to searching for Obama under your bed.

How do wealthy libertarians buy excess influence within the LP? Here are some examples:

1. Joining more than one state LP.

Yup, I just learned that it's possible for someone to belong to more than one state LP.

At Independent Political Report, Marc Montoni writes at Comment 139:

"Carling is a member of several state parties, and in every one where he participates, it seems controversy follows.

"Not due to Carling, who showed up at our Virginia convention in 2003, but due to an attempt at sabotaging our presidential ballot-access in 2004 by a disgruntled former member, the Virginia LP eventually adopted a qualification for members that they must both reside in and be domiciled in Virginia. In other words, now, if someone moves out of state, the mere act of moving out of state is an ipso facto resignation of membership. Not being a member disqualifies one from holding LPVA office, also.

"In any case, I would advise all state LP’s to adopt requirements for members to be resident and domiciled; and probably registered to vote as well.

"Pick a state, and stay there!"

Montoni is referring to M Carling, an LP stalwart with many state and national titles under his belt, and (I believe) a Root supporter.

At the 2008 California LP convention, Wayne Allyn Root flew his entire family in from Nevada to get them credentialed as California LP delegates, including his then under-age daughter.

I second Montoni's suggestion and agree with the Virginia LP. You should be domiciled in the state whose party you wish to be a member of, and should only be a member of that state's party.

2. Expensive convention locals.

Perhaps the most infamous example of this is 2006's controversial California cruise convention.

Another example is the aborted 2010 Hawaii convention. Aaron Starr approvingly posted that his significant other was so thrilled that she did "cart wheels" upon learning the 2010 LP convention might be held in Hawaii. (Honolulu ranks as one of America's most expensive cities on many lists, and that's not including travel expenses to get there.)

Fortunately, more sober heads prevailed and the 2010 convention was held in St. Louis.

Then there's the 2012 Las Vegas convention, with is actually in a hotel outside of Vegas. Radicals have complained that cheaper cities, and even hotels within Vegas, were available, if one had tried to find them.

Instead, the LNC not only chose a venue that was more expensive than need be, but one that was most convenient for Root's supporters (Las Vegans who might drop into the convention and fill up empty delegate slots).

Expensive convention locales are a great way to price out Povertarians, who are more likely to be anti-Root Radicals.

3. Convention floor fees.

Some Povertarians say that it should be free for delegates to attend a convention. Delegates are already paying for their travel expenses and hotel room, and should not have to pay extra to do party business in the convention hall.

Others say that "There's not such thing as a free lunch." It's unlibertarian for wealthy libs to subsidize Povertarians' use of the convention hall.

That makes sense on the surface, but as one person (I think it was George Phillies) observed, the LNC's only task within the Bylaws is to run the national conventions. LNC membership fees should fund the convention. Only if there's any money left, should the LNC fund other stuff. Delegates are already "paying" by attending, and should not have to pay double for a convention hall that their LNC fees should already have covered.

Someone else (I think it was Thomas Knapp) wrote that by holding conventions at expensive venues, it's really the Povertarians who are forced to subsidize the hotel expenses of delegates who wish to vacation at pricey venues. (Because hotels offer discounts if you hold a convention there.)

Floor fees, like expensive convention venues, are another way to price out Povertarians. Some will come and subsidize the vacationers, but others can't afford it, and thus can't participate as equals in running the LP.

4. Bribery

I'm not talking about anything illegal or against the rules here. But sometimes, a wealthier lib will offer a large donation to the LP, provided that delegates vote his way. Aaron Starr did it at the 2007 California LP convention and 2010 national convention. I'm sure others have done likewise.

Povertarians, naturally, can't buy votes with cash. They can only hope to persuade with principles.

Perhaps some libertarians will see this post as class warfare or Communism. And I suppose that an argument can be made that "the market" should decide whether party rules that allow for the above behaviors should be permitted.

Fair enough. And to the LP's credit, Starr's offers were rebuffed.

But my commentary is part of the "marketplace of ideas." And I think the LP has a moral obligation to keep its expenses down, and its rules written, so that people of every economic background can equally participate in the LP.

Isn't that the best way to "grow the party" -- which most Reformers claim they want to do?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Myth of True Communism

When my anti-Communist satire, Vampire Nation, was first published some dozen years ago, I began receiving complaints from self- identified Communists.

A common accusation within their emails and postings was that I had misrepresented Communism, because, they said, Communism as it had been historically practiced was not True Communism.

They claimed that True Communism was beautiful and wonderful, and brimming with love and fellowship and warm feelings for all humanity.

I replied to their arguments with an article, that I've now reprinted, called: The Myth of True Communism.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In Defense of the Libertarian Macho Flash

I followed libertarian politics long before I began writing about it. One of my first articles on the subject appeared in the May 2001 issue of Liberty magazine.

I enjoy looking back on these "blasts from the past" to see where my predictions came true, where I was off the mark, and to what extent I may have changed in my outlook.

In my article, "In Defense of the Libertarian Macho Flash," I advised Libertarians to not dilute their principles in trying to win elections. I told them to instead use the LP as an educational tool. I believed then, as I do now, that the LP will never become a major political party, no matter what it does, and so it should instead focus on its only real strength: education.

I've now uploaded my 2001 article, which you can find here: In Defense of the Libertarian Macho Flash.

(Above photo of wrestler Randy "Macho Man" Savage.)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Pragmatic Defense for Radical Libertarianism

One longtime debate within the Libertarian Party is: Should the LP hide its "extreme" positions so as not to scare voters?

Should the LP dilute its policy proposals into something nicely wishy-washy?

Reform Faction types (what I call "Big Government Libertarians" because of their support for America's wars and empire) say that the LP must extensively downplay its positions, which they say are too "extreme, absolutist, radical, purist, and anarchist." A more moderate message will "win votes" and thus bring us in at least a little bit of liberty. America's wars and economic sanctions will continue, murdering 100,000s of women and children. But on the other hand, we might be able to abolish that mandatory seatbelt law. (Whoopie!)

But Los Angeles libertarian Ted Brown offers a strong argument in favor of the LP promoting a Radical message. Brown explains that you have to demand a lot, to get a little. (The squeaky wheel gets the grease.)

Brown says:

"In politics, you have to ask for a lot and be willing to accept a lot less.

"For example, you should demand a $1 trillion budget cut. More moderate types will say, that's a bit much, but let's cut $100 billion. But if you only demand a $100 billion cut in the first place, you're likely to get way less than that.

"The same goes for drugs. I advocate full decriminalization of all drugs, where they can be advertised on TV and sold at Rite-Aid in colorful packages. More moderate types will be horrified, but will say, we can't do that, but we can legalize and regulate marijuana. If I only sought the legalization and regulation of marijuana to start with, I wouldn't even get that.

"The moral of the story is, the LP must be there to advocate the most radical freedom-oriented solutions. Otherwise we are unlikely to see any change in our direction at all."

Brown's remarks may be found on Independent Political Report, Comment 52.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Gary Johnson Is Pro-War

Gary Johnson is no Ron Paul.

Unlike the stridently antiwar/anti-interventionist Ron Paul, Gary Johnson (the former New Mexico governor seeking the Libertarian Party's 2012 presidential nomination) has been vaguer about his foreign policy views. As if he were trying to be all things to all people, afraid of offending peaceniks and Neocons alike.

But a recent Daily Caller interview exposed some of Johnson's views.

According to the Caller:

[W]hen pressed on foreign policy topics throughout the interview, Johnson gave answers that didn't always seem to add up and were often, at best, unorthodox positions for a man who has been painted as a non-interventionist.

While Johnson positions himself as a strong antiwar candidate who wants to cut the defense budget by 43%, he told TheDC that he supports America's efforts to aid African troops in tracking down Lord's Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony and that he wouldn't rule out leaving behind American bases in Afghanistan.

Johnson said that while he wants to end the war in Afghanistan, that doesn't mean he would necessarily stop drone attacks against terrorists in Pakistan or Yemen, even though he believes they create more enemies than they kill.

"I would want leave all options on the table," Johnson said. "But there’s an unintended consequence when it comes to drone attacks in Yemen. Yeah, you take out the al-Qaida stronghold, but you also wipe out the other half of the block. That makes Yemenis against the United States for the rest of their lives and all their descendants."

But if Johnson plans on leaving Afghanistan, how does he plan to leave the option of a drone campaign against al-Qaida elements in Pakistan on the table?

"So now you have the U.S. bases that exist in those areas, do we shut down those military bases? Perhaps not," he suggested.

Now listen to Johnson contradict himself:

"I would completely withdraw our military presence," he expounded. "Does withdrawing our military presence from Afghanistan mean that we would still have a base open in Afghanistan if they allowed us to keep a base open? Perhaps."

Johnson adds that the U.S. should stay in the Middle East. Which means we should keep funding Israel and fighting its enemies. Or as the Daily Caller reported it:

Johnson said that while he favors withdrawing or reducing American forces based in Europe and the Far East, the Middle East is a region of the world the U.S. should remain in.

As the interview progresses, Johnson seems ever more confused. Although, I suspect he's not so much confused as trying to be all things to all people.

But despite Johnson saying he thinks that the Middle East is a region of the world the United States should maintain a military presence in, he contended that there are "no military threats" to the U.S. anywhere in the world.

Not even in the Middle East? So why does Johnson think the U.S. should remain in the Middle East? Is it because he believes that a candidate must support Israel to get favorable media attention (as Wayne Allyn Root has claimed)?

"As I'm sitting here right now, there are no military threats against the United States," he said, stipulating that America should be "vigilant" against terrorist attacks on the homeland."

Does this mean that Johnson supports America's growing National Security State, with its TSA, invasion of privacy, and all. If not, what specifically does Johnson mean?

Johnson also supports "humanitarian wars."

Last year, The Weekly Standard reported that Johnson told the publication that he supported the concept of waging wars for humanitarian reasons despite wanting to cut the military budget by nearly half. Asked whether he stood by that, Johnson said he did.

"I don't want to close the door that if any of us were president of the United States that we would sit idly by and watch something like the Holocaust go down," he said. "I don't want to close the door on the United States involving themselves and putting a stop to that. Can we spend money on that? Yeah, I think so." ...

One intervention Johnson said he supports is the U.S. mission to help capture Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord's Resistance Army, which Johnson believes is arguably the "worst terrorist" group in the world.

"Based on what I know, yes," Johnson said, indicating his support for the mission to capture Kony. "Based on what I understand about it, that arguably this is the worst terrorist group that's been on the planet for the last 20 years."

That last statement is an interesting soundbite. It can be taken to read that Johnson thinks the Lord's Resistance Army is worse than al-Qaida. I have no idea if it is, but I can see how the conservative Right can beat Johnson over the head with that quote.

Read the entire article.

Finally, if you've read this far, here's an interesting video I found about Gary Johnson. Make what of it what you will: