I'd love to read any comments that any of you have. You can post a comment on any message here by clicking the "Comments" link at the bottom of the post.
Also, I'm entertaining suggestions for a new name for this blog. I added "weblog of a presidential candidate" into the title because I think it makes for a much more interesting link in the listings at Weblogs.com, Blo.gs, and organica.us. However, at Weblogs.com, you can't even read the whole title because it runs past the width of their display table. So it's "The Free View - weblog of a presidenti" -- which almost gets the point across if you think on it enough, but it's certainly not as clear or grabbing. I've also read general recommendations that it's better to keep your blog's name short. I've thought of just chopping off "The Free View", but "Weblog of a presidential candidate" by itself seems to me to be bland, or generic, and self-aggrandizing. (I'm not sure why I find it less self-aggrandizing with the three extra words, but I do.) I originally had that second part listed as the description, and not in the title at all, but I think the extra weight it brings to the title listing on those blog sites is worth adding it on.
So basically, I can't think of a way to make the name shorter without compromising its strength or uniqueness. If anyone has a suggestion I'm interested in hearing it. Or maybe the name is fine as it is. I'd like to hear that too, if it's true.
You'll notice that links to months from a year ago or more are showing up in the archives listing for this blog. It's because I've invented a time machine and am going back to do some catch-up work periodically. If there's anything better than having 14 years to prepare for the presidency, it's having 14 years that you can live over and over again! ;-)
Actually, the real reason is that I am adding to the blog lots of old messages from when I was blogging without blog software (back in the "Glimpses of Freedom" days). Moveable Type allows me to backdate them, which is way cool. Once I finish with the old blog posts, I'm going to do the same thing with my "Views" pages. Those have been presented as having way too much relevance on this site. I've got them set up like they are supposed to be organized issue statements of some sort, when really they are much more like blog posts-- either snippets of conversation drawn from discussion forums, or impromptu opinion pieces. Most of the people who come to this site and veer off of the home page go to one of the views pages. Also, it's those pages which get most of the search engine hits-- or at least it was before I set up this blog.
(Weird aside: A couple nights ago, I had written a few notes in the MT posting window, which I planned to develop into full messages later. One of those notes was "Michaal Cloud's hunger strike". I didn't post or save the message, just left it sitting in an open browser window. Then, yesterday, when I was writing up my entry on Michael Cloud, I did a Copernic search for "michael cloud" "hunger strike", to see if I could find a news story on it. I only got like four results back-- none of them news stories -- but one of the results was my web site! It spooked me out for a little while, but then I realized that I had mentioned Michael Cloud in a different post, and then Bob Schulz's hunger strike elsewhere.)
Anyway, it's been a bad set up to be sending people to those few pages like they are some sort of Grand Platform or something. They make much more sense filed as various entries in the blog from years back. That's their proper weight. Every now and then I pull up a bunch of those Views pages and I mark them for repair or revision, but it's sort of like trying to revise a shack into a big beautiful house. Those posts aren't bad, they're just kinda crude and informal. They don't need to be re-worked really, just de-prioritized. And then maybe re-worked sometime later.
I have some issues with the idea of changing history, though, which makes me resistant toward making any sort of substantial changes to old stuff I've written. It feels a little like I'm trying to hide the truth, or hide from my origins or something. If I didn't mean for it to be written that way, then why did I write it? That kind of thing. Though in reality, most of the views pages weren't written as is. The majority of them are cobbled together from snippets of my conversations at Salon's TableTalk discussion area in 1996 and 1997. That's one of the main reasons some of them read so jerkily, and I've just never been able to figure out how to smooth them out very well.
So that's the story behind the mysterious resurrected blog posts. I think it's going to make for a much more balanced site. Of course, it means I'll have to come up with some replacement primary pages to send people to-- good ones this time -- sooner rather than later. But that's long overdue anyway, so it's all good.
LP Candidate for Senate in Massachusetts Michael Cloud has been ignored, in typical status quo fashion, by most of the MA media, for most of his campaign. He's the only opposition to Democrat John Kerry, and yet papers have reported that Kerry is running unopposed.
It really blows my mind, this view. I mean it's not like reporters don't have the resources to discover that Cloud is running. He's on the ballot, in the voter's package that's mailed out to everyone. These reporters are seeing that he's running, and simply blanking it out-- apparently believing in some way that Michael Cloud does not exist, or is not a candidate, or does not oppose John Kerry. This mentality boggles my mind-- I find it to be really unhealthy. And that mentality is the biggest reason why third parties have a hard time breaking through.
It's basically the same mentality that kept black people down for so long. After slavery, blacks were still relegated to second-class citizenry, if that. Their educational options, their economic options, their mobility, and their voting rights were all restricted-- not to mention their safety. And then people would come along and complain blacks were less educated, or poor, or whatever else.
It's ridiculous logic-- just as ridiculous as the logic that says that third parties don't matter to voters, while intentionally hiding third party candidates from those very voters. The media makes conscious decisions that have the effect of reducing the vote total of third party candidates-- and they justify their choices by the small vote totals of those candidates. They take polls which exclude third party candidates-- and justify their approach by saying third party candidates don't matter to the people. Then they take it a step further and say the candidates can't be in debates because they don't register high enough in the polls.
Insanity. Putting an end to the two-party mentality is high on my list of things to do in my lifetime. I'd like to see a campaign next election cycle of a couple million people ready to put extreme pressure on the debate holders and media outlets. It would be so refreshing to see an election where all the candidates on the ballot were given an equitable amount of exposure.
(NOTE: I don't generally support codifying that premise into law. I think the effort to have an informed democracy can take place through voluntary means. We don't need to make laws telling people what they can say about who, when, how, and how often. Not to mention a little thing called the First Amendment, which could certainly be read to say that telling people what they can or cannot say is a no-no. I don't buy the theory that "political speech" is somehow excepted from the First Amendment-- it seems to me that political speech is the primary type of speech that amendment was made to protect.)
So anyway, Michael Cloud's not taking it sitting down. He went on a hunger strike against the media's blackout of him, and it's starting to work. I don't know if it raises my hope, or my cynicism, or both. On the one hand, it shows that where there's a will, there's a way-- if you try hard enough, you can get attention. On the other hand, it shows that the media is willing to ignore a candidate if he's merely a well-spoken, intelligent candidate who's raised $200,000-- but if he goes on a hunger strike, they'll jump right on that. Pretty twisted.
This episode of Pot-TV has a GREAT interview with Peter Christ, a retired police captain and one of the directors of LEAP - Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. I love, love, love to hear law enforcement officials speak out against the drug war-- I think there's nothing more powerful for countering accusations that legalizers just want to get high legally, than a well-spoken law enforcement official. This Peter Christ guy is well-spoken, and vociferous. He was really on target.
The interview is after the main news updates, several minutes into the show. If you've got a prohibitionist friend in the house, have them gather 'round and listen in.
I know Steve and Michele Kubby. They are two of the most tireless and outspoken defenders of marijuana rights in the Western Hemisphere. Steve is a bona-fide revolutionary, and Michele has supported him (and then some) every step of the way. Their Pot-TV program is just the latest in a long chain of bold and provocative efforts to challenge the dominant paradigm. And it's not all they're up to-- not by a long shot.
My friend Troy Dayton works at a company with his friends in Colorado that is doing really well by doing something really cool.
The company is called Renewable Choice, and what they do is help distribute the energy created by wind farms, by convincing people to switch over to renewable energy. People still get the power coming into their house from their current provider, but the utility company gives energy credits to companies that produce wind energy. Customers pay a little bit more for the wind power, and the market shifts away from fossil fuels and toward renewable energy a little bit.
And hopefully not too many birds get chopped up. :-|
This article explains it all pretty well.
Big ups to Troy and the Renewable Choicers! Helping the environment via the free market. Gotta love it.
This is exactly how it's supposed to happen (apart from the government created utility monopolies that exist currently). Renewable Choice has got a tough sell in some ways-- they are asking people to switch to a more expensive power provider. But people care about the environment-- and Troy and Co. are searching those people out one by one-- as I said, helping to shift the market for energy to a healthier state. Plenty of people are probably willing to pay a few bucks extra a month in order to reduce the consumption of fossil fuels and the creation of the waste that comes from them. Apparently so, since Renewable Choice and similar companies seem to be doing really well. And as that new industry gets more support, it grows and becomes more competitive, and prices fall, and so on.
(BTW, I've never used the phrase "big ups" before. It just came bubbling out of me. I'll try not to make a habit of it. ;-))
I don't know if you've heard of Bob Schulz and his We The People project, but if you haven't yet, you proably will. This guy is by all accounts a super-hardcore freedom activist. He started as an outspoken anti-income-tax guy-- one of the school of folks who insist that folks aren't required by law to pay taxes, that the income tax amendment was not legitimately passed, and so on. He has taken out a series of full-page ads in major national papers, he has gone on a hunger strike to demand a hearing before a congressional inquiry, and he has organized a national petition for redress of grievances.
The latest escalation by Schulz is the Freedom Drive, a massive caravan of protesters which will travel across the country from west to east, gathering more and more protesters along the way, and culminating in a gathering of folks who will await the answer from their Congresspeople on the Washington Mall. If/when no answer is received, Schulz is promising unspecified dramatic actions.
I have to go right now, so I can't expand much more, but Bob needs financial help to finish pulling off this whole Freedom Drive thing. He appears to be a very serious freedom fighter, devoting most of his life and liberty to the cause of increasing the liberty of others.
"99.99% effective at preventing friends"
I'm putting a link to these guys in the blogroll.
Just came upon the web address for California's Libertarian candidates. If you're in California like me, you can check out most of the candidates, and get to their websites, from there.
In the spirit of my previous entry, I encourage you to visit the sites of any of the folks or organizations I've mentioned here and contribute whatever you can to help them with their last-minute blitz of advertising. Supporting the pot legalization folks in Nevada would probably be the money best spent, or else the initiative to end the income tax in Massachusetts. Even if you don't live in either of those states, those initiatives could set major precedents if they pass-- and either one of them would end up being one of the major election-day success stories. And they are both close enough to potentially win. The Nevada folks have TV ads they are running, and the Massachusetts folks have radio ads, and both of them will run as many ads as they can afford between now and Election Day. Give 'em a hand if you can.
If neither of those floats your boat, you could throw some support behind Ed Thompson in Wisconson, John Babiarz in New Hampshire, Clyde Cleveland in Iowa (he's a "green Libertarian" like myself), Tara Sue Grubb in North Carolina-- or any of the Ladies of Liberty in North Carolina for that matter.
Or if you prefer to reach out in your home area, you can check your state LP's website and pick a candidate from there.
I know and you know that most of these folks aren't going to win this time around, but they are forging the way for candidates in the future. Progress for a third party comes slowly, but it does come. The Libertarian Party does a little better with each election, and I expect this one to fit that pattern well. The difference made by having talented gubernatorial candidates in the debates is hard to measure, but it can't be overstated either. When people see, election after election, that Libertarians stick to the same principles, and fight for freedom on all fronts, eventually they are going to see the LP as a choice worthy of their support.
So hook these folks up with some dough-- they're fighting for you!
The other state ballot initiative I am watching closely is in Nevada. They have an initiative there that would legalize (not decriminalize, but actually legalize) marijuana possession for adults. It's sponsored mainly by MPP, The Marijuana Policy Project, through their affiliate Nevadans for Resposible Law Enforcement. It's apparently running pretty close in the polls. It's basically a dead heat between Yes and No.
It would be utterly amazing if this initiative passed. I'm pretty sure that in Nevada, they have it so ballot initiatives need to pass twice before they become law-- so this would just be the first step in the process -- but holy cow, would it be a big step!
I'm pasting in the latest letter I got from the campaign, asking for a last-minute fundraising rush to counter their opposition, which still has a sizable bankroll with which to buy ads. Nevadans apparently vote for two weeks before election day, and then again on election day-- so people are voting on this initiative as I write this.
If you have any spare cash, and a desire for the advancement of marijuana legalization and/or an end to the insane War on Drugs, please consider donating to this campaign now.
Here's the letter I got from Rob Kampia, MPP's Director:
Dear Lance M. Brown:
If you were thinking about donating again to the Marijuana Policy Project's ballot initiative campaign in Nevada, would you please visit http://www.NRLE.org right away? There are only 12 days left until November 5. And you're not going to believe how close the vote is so far ...
The latest statewide poll of 600 Nevada voters -- completed on Tuesday night -- shows that our ballot initiative is still trailing by a mere 44% to 46%, with 10% undecided. We have been 2% down since the polls opened statewide on Saturday.
Since Saturday, approximately 7,000 voters in the Las Vegas area have been voting daily. (The county government issues daily reports on how many people are voting, but not how they are voting.)
With every day that passes, about 3,430 votes are falling into the "yes" column in Las Vegas, and about 3,570 votes are falling into the "no" column. The same trend is true on a smaller scale in Reno and the rural counties.
With every day that passes, we fall another 140 votes behind in Las Vegas -- and a total of about 200 votes behind statewide. As of last night, the cumulative voting from Saturday through Wednesday probably puts us a total of 1,000 votes down statewide, out of about 50,000 votes cast.
The good news is that we are still hanging on by our fingernails in this bold campaign to end the arrest of all adult marijuana users in Nevada. When we launched this campaign back in April, who would have thought that we could defeat the federal government and the Nevada police on this issue?
But there is bad news, too. Our opponents are sitting on $100,000 of the $200,000 they have raised for their TV ad campaign. They are going to use their remaining $100,000 to blitz the Nevada electorate with deceptive TV ads next week, and they need only maintain their 2% margin over us during these last 12 days to defeat us.
Our strategy, in the meantime, is to make up the 2% deficit and take the lead by November 4, because literally half of the Nevada electorate votes on November 5. Quite simply, we can do this if we outspend our opponents two-to-one on TV next week. I reported to you on Monday that our campaign needs to raise $100,000 from you and other supporters this week. The $100,000 worth of TV ads we had already reserved for next week, plus a new $100,000 from this e-mail list this week, will mean that our TV ad blitz will double our opponents' blitz next week, taking us to victory on November 5.
Since Monday, our e-mail list and the Libertarian Party's e-mail list have generated an astounding $24,500 for the Nevada campaign, leaving us in need of only $75,500.
Would you please visit http://www.NRLE.org to donate some of the
remaining $75,500 that is needed to finish off this campaign and achieve victory on November 5?
A donation of $10 will mean that 600 Nevada voters will see one of our TV ads one time each; a donation of $50 means that 3,000 voters will see our ad once. And a $250 donation -- which will pay for 15,000 voter impressions -- can be tax-deductible by visiting http://www.NRLE.org/donate.html and checking the appropriate box.
To give some perspective on how important the final $100,000 is to this campaign, please consider this: The final $100,000 will ensure that all 835,000 potential Nevada voters will see one of our TV ads eight times each.
This initiative to end the arrest of all marijuana users is by far the best opportunity we have ever had to end marijuana prohibition anywhere in the U.S. And this initiative has received generous support from passionate MPP members and other allies in all 50 states ...
Since we launched the Nevada campaign, 4,346 people in all 50 states have donated financially to this effort. Unfortunately, 29,388 people on this e-mail list have not donated anything.
I want to thank you in advance if you decide you are able to make a last-minute donation. Money equals TV airtime. Thank you!
Marijuana Policy Project
P.S. By donating $250 or more now, you will receive a videotape of the TV news coverage and all TV ads from the Nevada campaign. Better yet, we are making a special offer whereby donations of $250 or more can be tax-deductible.
P.P.S. Our first-ever national conference will begin three days after Election Day in Anaheim, California. To join us for what will hopefully be a victory celebration, please register at http://www.mpp.org/conference .
P.P.P.S. To donate through the mail, please send your check to MPP's Nevada Campaign, P.O. Box 77492, Capitol Hill, Washington, DC 20013.
I saw John Babiarz, the LP Gubernatorial candidate in New Hampshire, in a debate today. I've been catching debates on C-Span most nights, at least when they look interesting.
Babiarz was one of the best LP candidates I've seen in a debate this season. His voice isn't great, and he had kind of a stilted, nervous way of talking. I guess the easiest way to convey it is that he seemed a little "nerdy". But the stuff he was saying sounded good. He didn't sound wild and extreme like some Libertarian candidates I've seen. Partly this was because he was slightly less than pure in his libertarianism, but a lot of it was just due to his reasonable-sounding manner. He didn't say "I'm going to abolish the state Department of Education", he said, "I'm going to concentrate on local control for our schools." And so on with other issues. He talked about abolishing the state property tax, and sounded really compassionate about it.
He handled himself very well on most of his answers, and he turned both of the questions that the other candidates asked him to his advantage. He also got to do the last final statement, and he used it well. He asked voters if they wanted to have a state that was ruled by the two parties, or whether they wanted to have a tripartisan state, "with me acting as a referee between the Democrats and Republicans," pledging fiscal restraint and stuff. I thought that was a really cool way for a third-party executive office candidate to frame the choice. I'm not getting the exact phrasing right enough to make it sound as cool as he did, but the referee analogy was the core of it. It seemed appropriate too, because the two main candidates seemed more extreme and kind of jacked up on themselves...and I assume the NH Statehouse is loaded with bipartisan shenanigans.
One of the other things that distinguishes him from some other Libertarian candidates is that he didn't sound, for lack of a better word, obsessed with freedom. I can't pin it down exactly, but he didn't sound as one-track-minded as Libertarians sometimes can. Though as far as I can recall he opted on the side of freedom in every answer, it didn't feel like he was beating you over the head with it. He didn't sound like a radical, a conspiracy theorist, or anything like that. He seemed like a reasonable, compassionate, intelligent, kinda nervous guy.
BTW, you can watch any of the debates that C-Span has shown so far, on their Campaign 2002 Debates page. This one's not up there yet, but it looks like maybe they go up on the site the day after they air on TV, so it'll probably be on there tomorrow. I'm going to watch it again, because I think John Babiarz has something to teach me -- and other Libertarian candidates -- about presentation.
There are two state ballot initiatives this year which excite me a lot-- and neither one is in my state.
The first is the initiative to end the income tax in Massachusetts, which actually is sorta my state-- it's my original home state. The initiative is primarily sponsored by Carla Howell, the Libertarian candidate for Governor, and Michael Cloud, the LP senatorial candidate. It's called the Small Government Act. They have really been working relentlessly on both the initiative and their individual campaigns for the past year or more. The initiative is reportedly running at 40% in the polls, despite the fact that pretty much every voice of influence in the state is against it-- the big politicians, the interest groups, etc.. I expect they're freaking out a bit, at the prospect of losing $9 billion of the people's money. They all insist there's simply no way to reasonably operate the government with only $14 billion a year.
I think Carla Howell's response to them is pretty hard to fight-- she basically counters that Michael Dukakis' administration in the mid-late 80's had a budget that was half of the $23 billion of the current administration-- and Dukakis was a big government Democrat. IIRC, his budget was about $12 billion. Adjust that for inflation, and you probably get something like $15 or $16 billion. But it's at $23B now. It sounds to like she's just asking folks to trim off the all the bloat. Everyone knows government is big and inefficient-- the reason it is is because it can be. Generally, voters gripe and groan, but they keep voting the same type of folks in, thinking they have no real choice, and those folks continue to raise the budget each year.
No one expects that Carla Howell will win the Governor's race, so MA voters still have "no real choice" in that situation. But what they could do is vote one of the two "major" candidates in as Governor, but then force that Democrat or Republican to really slim down the government. Both of the two main candidates act like they couldn't possibly cut $9 Billion from their budgets. But what if they had to?
CHICAGO — The U.S. government is antsy about a Canadian report that recommends the legalization of marijuana.
(Good. They ought to be antsy)
I got an inspirational article sent to me via e-mail today, from Marc Brandl, the LP's Campus Coordinator. It was sent through the LPCampusActivist Yahoo Group. It's from the Washington Post. The title and tone of the article are discouraging on the surface, but if you look close you can see the good parts.
Check it out: Young Voters' Disengagement Skews Politics
Here's the good parts:
The study shows that young adults hold beliefs quite distinct from those of their parents and grandparents -- more conservative in many of their views of government, more tolerant in many of their social values -- and yet are not expressing them at the polls.
Disaffected and relatively nonpartisan, the country's 45 million young adults are a constituency-in-waiting -- if candidates could capture their imagination.
While they are less prone to vote, younger people have distinctive ideas about what the government should, and shouldn't, do.
In particular, younger people are markedly more enthusiastic than older generations about privatizing what have been public responsibilities.
Those same young adults, however, hold other attitudes that traditionally have been regarded as liberal. They are more tolerant of diversity than previous generations and more resistant to government interference with personal choices.
Fiscally conservative, socially liberal? Sounds like libertarian to me. This bodes well for my hopes of gaining office. If I can properly reach and invigorate those young voters-- convince them that they can actually affect changes that ascribe to their values, with their votes --I'll have an edge over the major party candidates, who are unlikely to be able to or bother to try and reach those people. I can just picture them trying, and I have a hard time seeing young people falling for it, unless one of the candidates happens to be particularly young, which isn't likely. I don't think either of the two parties is likely to advance a presidential candidate younger than 40 any time soon. Particularly not when they are focusing so hard on seniors as an electoral base.
Ralph Nader managed to electrify a goodly number of young folks, but I think his appeal is fairly unique, and also fairly limited. I could be wrong, but I think his political star is falling. He's gotten a boost from all the corporate scandals, and he certainly isn't resting on his laurels, what with CitizenWorks and his "Democracy Rising" rallies. And most Greens seem to still be behind him. His problem is that most people have heard him, thought about him, and decided against voting for him. Unless he's going to pull in many millions of new voters (which he hasn't done in his past two runs), he's basically got to convince those 100 million people who didn't vote for him last time. And without reinventing himself, I just don't see what would get too many millions more to get behind him. Of course, he does have Michael Moore on his side, and Michael is broadening his own body of supporters. To the extent that Moore supporters can be transformed into Nader voters, there might be something to work with there. I wouldn't count Ralph Nader out yet, but I wouldn't count on him either. He'll get some stuff done, but I don't expect he'll bring about any major change-- and I don't know what the Green Party is going to do once they give up on him as their big name spokesperson/presidential candidate.
I can't imagine that they would nominate Ralph again in 2008. '04 maybe, but not '08. I wonder who will step up after him for the Greens-- i.e., who I'll be running against in 2008 if I win the Libertarian nomination. If they somehow find someone stronger than Nader, then I will have a much rougher time tapping into that younger voter base, as well as other bases that are appealing to outsider candidates. If they come up with someone not as strong as Nader, I could become their outlet for political release, if I position myself right.
Just a short entry. I'm about to go to bed. I just took the night's last walk with the dogs, and there's a close-to-full moon. It's really intense to walk around here when the moon is full. First of all, I live out in the boonies, so any walk around here is pretty cool. All nature, all the time. During the day, the loudest sound around is the birds. At night, it's crickets and frogs, when they're in season. No traffic noise, no neighbor noise...we do get the occasional helicopter or plane going by, which is pretty disruptive given the relative calm, but I don't think we have them at night. i can't recall ever hearing one at night at least.
So anyway, back to the full moon. It's just really cool, because you can see all around, and can sense all the nature stuff around you sleeping. And everything's still, but it's really light out. It's like having night vision, and walking through a big camp where everyone's asleep. Except cooler, because walking through a big camp would be boring. Still, the sense of observing a quiet, sleepy scene with a sort of special vision is the same. It's like having access to a secret world that most people can't see.
Anyway, it's hard to describe, but standing up on the hilltop, looking around at miles of quiet trees in the bright moonlight, is a cool sensation.
That's about it for tonight, except I will leave you with something to ponder:
Aaargh. I just lost a huge message-- a review of Bowling for Columbine. It's so painful. It was a pretty good post-- I put a LOT of thought and time into it. The movie merits it. But not enough thought to copy it and save the text before I submitted it. I'm used to PeoplesForum.com, where you can go back and your text is still in the message box. For some reason Movable Type's interface doesn't work that way, and when you go back, the form is reset and the boxes are all blank. I had actually just noticed that phenomenon in the hours before I wrote this lost message, but my relief in having finished it (it was practically a small essay) was great, and I was too eager to hit that satisfying "Save" button (which posts the message). The tragedy has another layer, in that I took a moment to think about doing a spell check on my post before posting it, which would have involved copying and pasting it into an e-mail, and thus saving it. But I decided against it.
Oh well. Lessons learned the hard way are the heart of good character. At least that's what I'm hoping. ;-)
I just wanted to let you know, because I said yesterday I would be posting something about the movie, and I didn't want you to think I had flaked on it.
I'll try to replicate my epic review of Bowling for Columbine sometime soon, but not tonight. Trying to remember it as it was written is too painful, because of course it doesn't sound as good, and I can't remember parts of the flow and stuff. I'll just have to try and outdo it with a new effort...soon.
I was forwarded an e-mail release by John Perry Barlow, founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and former songwriter for the Grateful Dead. He's got some stuff to say about the war and "King George", and is urging people to turn out for the October 26th anti-war rallies. His statement is more compelling than I make it sound. You can check it out here.
One thing that I found worthwhile about his letter was that he had some heavy criticism for the International A.N.S.W.E.R. group which is organizing the main rallies. I remember seeing their rally post-9/11, urging a nonviolent response and preservation of civil liberties. In most cases, it appeared that they meant well, but they are a very broad and undefined coalition, and that was clear watching their rally. Each speaker had a different issue they were trumpeting, and few of them semed to have a direct connection to the "war on terrorism". Certainly, there was no clear message to be ascertained, except for maybe "say 'no' to the system"-- whatever system you see as the problem. Which is an alright theme-- I'm generally down with anti-authority sentiments, to be sure, and certainly against systems of control, manipulation, and abuse of people-- but it lacked cohesiveness, even coherency.
I think for a movement to be really powerful it's got to be rooted in something. Generally it's principles, or a desire to accomplish a specific goal. The best movements are grounded in both. Emotion, urgency, hand-waving, and screaming "No!" to those in control is all well and good, but a movement won't stick unless it makes sense. Movements-- real movements, not special interest lobbying-- need to change minds. Movements seek to take a minority viewpoint and make it a majority viewpoint, through education, demonstration, debate, publicity, civil disobedience, etc. And this brings us to the problem with A.N.S.W.E.R. (aside from the problem Barlow claims, which is that it's a communist front organization). A.N.S.W.E.R. does not seem to have a specific viewpoint, which they hope to bring from minority to majority status.
If they have a message, it is presumably found in their acronym of a name. It stands for: Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. Looking back to the month after 9/11, it's easy to see how the name of their group and their ultra-basic mission statement came about. They were spearheading the indignant masses who were flailing to respond somehow to the outpouring of war talk (and action), the post-9/11 war on civil liberties, and the and racial divisiveness that was abounding-- the clash of cultures if you will, between the West and the Muslims. So in a context of October and November 2001, their message seemed to be just about right: Act Now (because the warlords and tyrants sure aren't waiting around) to Stop (the impending) War and End the Racism that has come about due to fear of Muslims and such.
And so maybe they were right on last year, at least in their goal-- to react against the sudden majority call for war and state-sanctioned racism. And given the fact that folks with the liberal viewpoints on war, minorities and civil liberties were pretty much shaking in their boots in the couple months after 9/11 (or at least a little worried, as I was), it's no suprise that everybody and their grandmother hopped on the coalition bandwagon-- just as they did with the In Defense Of Freedom statement, and most other petitions and efforts that came about in that time.
I guess A.N.S.W.E.R. is simply the product of circumstances, a natural outgrowth of the times. The default bandwagon for the underdog team. I just hope they find a way to focus their efforts, and particularly their message. Martin Luther King Jr. did not succeed because he got hundreds of thousands of people to march in the streets and in Washington-- he succeeded because he took a principled stand, and had a clear message, which he delivered eloquently. When people saw him, or heard of something associated with him, they knew exactly what he stood for and why, they knew exactly what he wanted and why, and ultimately, they were unable to avoid knowing that he was right. Martin Luther King won by changing people's minds-- one at a time, and millions at a time. That's how it's got to be done.
I'm not convinced that the rallies on October 26th are going to really change anyone's mind. The only potential for that, I think, is if the rallies are so utterly huge that it changes people's minds about how big the resistance to war is. And that could possibly result in some people pondering why there's such big resistance, or even deciding to resist themselves, if they were on the fence. But I highly doubt it's going to make anyone who supports the war decide to be against it. It's not going to make any racists become non-racist. It's not going to have any effect at all on the state of our civil liberties, except possibly in the negative, as the crowds and/or violence will be used as an excuse to suppress dissent and dissenters.
I don't mean to get down on A.N.S.W.E.R. or any of the groups in the various anti-war coalitions. I'm actually one of what seems to be a minority who thinks that rallies and marches can still be effective tools of activism-- and I'm delighted when I see people motivated and passionate enough to get of their butts and demonstrate. I just see a lot of problems with the current approach that has manifested in the "dissident mainstream". Then John Perry Barlow got me thinking about A.N.S.W.E.R., and the rest just came spilling out.
I would guess that more minds will be changed by John Perry Barlow's letter than by the rallies on Oct. 26th. Still, I do think it's important that there are rallies and protests against the various wars (on civil liberties, on Afghanistan, on Iraq, etc.) that our "leaders" have brewed up for us, and I'm glad A.N.S.W.E.R. is trying to meet that need. Well, maybe I'm not glad A.N.S.W.E.R. specifically is doing it, but I'm glad someone is. :-)
The Libertarian Party is going to be running a national ad on medical marijuana in these last weeks before the election. I think it's great that the LP chose helping to end the insane War on Drugs as a strategic goal, and I have been pleasantly srprised to see how enthusiastically they've embraced that goal. They played a role in the Jun 6th protests at the federal buildings around the country, particularly in Washington, D.C.. They took part in the big medical marijuana rally here in sacramento last month. They had their "incumbent killer" campaign which targets the biggest drug warriors for removal. And now this national medical marijuana ad.
Check it out: Libertarian Party Medical Marijuana Ad
I think the LP is going to earn a lot of respect for its aggressive push to end the War on Drugs. It's a great vehicle for growing the party, in influence and in numbers-- and it's a great issue overall. It's been particularly on my mind the past few days, because of that debate at PeoplesForum.com, which I linked to a couple days ago, and which is still sort of going on.
I should probably talk about "Bowling for Columbine", Michale Moore's new film which I saw last weekend, at a special screening attended by none other than Mr. Moore himself-- right here in Nevada City. But alas, not tonight. The hour is late, and I've got sleep to be gettin'.
I added a new feature over on the right here-- the Blogroll, managed (for the time being) by Blogrolling.com. There are links there to a few weblogs of folks I know, or know of.
The Bureaucrash Dispatches are done by my friend Jason Talley at Bureaucrash, a libertarian-leaning guerrilla activist network.
Wil Wheaton was the narrator's childhood character in the movie Stand By Me, and was Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He's got what is now a pretty famous blog, but that's not why I'm linking to it. I'm linking to it because Wil is generally a libertarian and a pacifist, and outspoken in his views. I also think it's cool that he makes show business feel real-- takes it down a notch off its pedestal, almost-- with his stories of interviews and jobs and behind-the-scenes stuff. He just seems like a pretty cool guy in general. Up front and straightforward, with a sense of humor and humility. Good stuff.
Tara Sue Grubb is a young woman who's running for Congress in North Carolina. She had 15 minutes of fame in blog-land a few weeks back for being "the first Congressional candidate with a blog" and for her emphatic opposition to the P2P Bill being advanced by her opponent, long-time incumbent Howard Coble. I don't have links handy, but there are links to stories about her on her site-- plus, of course, her own blog.
The last link in the list is actually a few links-- it's the code for LibertyLoggers, a freedom-oriented blog web ring. The arrows on the right and left of the words there will take you forward or backward in the ring.
It was the fourth or fifth major debate I've watched this season, and it confirmed for me again the value of having third party candidates included in campaign debates. Watching those debates is such a breath of fresh air compared to two-party-only debates. With many issues, the extra candidates are the only ones talking about a different approach to the given problem-- and frequently, they poke or prompt the duopoly candidates into having to talk about or face issues that wouldn't otherwise get raised.
I saw a Massachusetts Gubernatorial Debate recently, and it had three other candidates besides the Democrat and Republican-- Libertarian Carla Howell, a woman from the Green Party, and an Independent. And while it did devolve into a sorta two-party thing once or twice, for the majority of the debate the two major party candidates were being jostled and challenged in a way that you never see in a two-party debate.
Back to this Wisconsin debate tonight-- I know I'm biased toward the little guy in general, but Ed Thompson and the Green candidate (Jim Young) both appeared to be smarter choices for governor than either of the two major party guys. The two big guys spent most of their time either reciting age-old platitudes that every politician before them has said, or whining about or disparaging the other big guy. Yawn.
Meanwhile, Ed and the Green guy seemed like real, thoughtful people with their eyes open, eager to help. The other two seemed like two power brokers, competing for power.
So, I didn't get around to writing a second message yesterday. The NCLP meeting last night ran a lot longer than I expected, as did my post-meeting errand running. I ended up eating dinner at like 1 AM. Most of the rest of my night was spent working at PeoplesForum.com-- mainly, writing this huge post about the Drug War and its negative effects on drug users. (The part I'm talking about is a little way down in the message, after my short replies to "CSC" and "THX").
The basic thrust of my post (at least the bulk of it, the part addressed to "Paula") is that no matter what the harmful effects of a given drug are-- I use heroin in my example-- the drug war just compounds those effects, while bringing on other, new, negative effects.
I state this much more expansively in that message at PF. I've been getting involved in some pretty heavy duty debates there lately. The problem is, I get too involved. It's like I said a couple days ago-- I have too many words trying to get out. Once I turn on the faucet, huge streams of words come out.
And before that starts to happen here, I'm going to take off for now. ;-)
I'm heading out soon for the monthly meeting of the Nevada County Libertarian Party which is tonight at 7:00. We're talking about the state and county ballot initiatives and our party's endorsements. I think it might be a short meeting, and I may try to see if anyone wants to stick around and watch a couple particularly libertarian South Park episodes. South Park is actually one of the most popular libertarian-themed social phenomena out there, though it's not often recognized as such.
The episodes I'm thinking of showing are "Don't Sue People Panda", "Harbucks", and possibly "Big Gay Al gets banned from scouts". I don't know if those are the real titles (I doubt it), but they all have overt libertarian-oriented messages amidst the typical South Park zaniess, satire, and rudeness.
I have no idea what the people at our meeting-- mostly older people, parents and grandparents-- might think of South Park, but I might give it a shot.
I'll post more later tonight, after the meeting.
This is my first blog post in a very long time-- 9 months. It's been a pretty difficult year for me, and the focus of my time has been largely personal and professional, leaving less time for activism and campaign work. I'm trying to shift to a better balance of the three main aspects of my life-- namely, achieving manageable stability in my personal life and with my job, and in doing so, clearing out extra time and energy to re-devote to my activist goals. At the same time, I have to make sure I don't get back into the cycle I was in, when my efforts at activism and non-profit work consumed so much of my time that my personal and professional life suffered.
An interesting development has come about over the past few months. In late June, I was given notice that the place I live is being sold, and my "landlord" (he's not really a landlord-- it's a long story) began to try to drive me out of here. I'm still here, but I do expect to be leaving soon. I've explored lots of options of where to go from here since June, and without belaboring the details of that process, the end result was that I decided to buy a motorhome and live in it.
In many ways, this is not a new idea. Since I started my campaign in 1994, I have planned on spending the years between 2003 (or 2004) and 2008 basically on the road the whole time. When this year rolled around, that part of the plan started feeling a lot more concrete. After 8 years of being a fairly abstract future plan, my fabled "5 years on the campaign trail" was finally next year.
When I first began to get wind of the possibility that my current home in Nevada City could be sold, I began to muse that maybe I should just start that part now, instead of waiting. I had been planning on living at this place for another year or more, and going to on-the-road mode near the end of 2003 or beginning of '04. And it seemed kind of silly to move all my stuff to another house, for what would amount to less than a year. I really grew to dislike moving by the time I got to this place, and I made a decision to stay here if possible until I was ready to hit the road. Anyway, when I first pondered it, back in March or April, I decided I wasn't ready, at least in the short term, and that it would be 6 months to a year before I could realistically pull it off. The prospect of the place actually being sold anytime soon seemed a distant likelihood, primarily because my "landlord" (a majorly sketchy guy) was involved. So I shelved the idea.
Fast forward 6 months, and here we are. I've overcome my objections, my mother generously helped me out with a loan so I could purchase an old RV, and I should be out of here within a month or so. My first major destination is the East Coast, to visit my family, which I haven't seen in over two years. Massachusetts then North Carolina, or vice versa. I haven't decided.
From there-- who knows? I hope to roam the country following hot spots of libertarian activism, and visiting colleges to help out campus groups, and eventually to give speeches and rally millions to the cause of liberty. Still, I'm considering the next few months as a trial run-- a chance to see how the lifestyle fits, and learn the basic ups and downs of full-timing, as it's called in the RV world. My biggest concern is for my pets. They're coming with me-- three cats and a dog-- and they will present my biggest challenge on the road, I think. I strongly hope that I can make it work, and I think there's a good chance of it, but it's a colossal shift in lifestyle-- for me and for my pets. So we'll have to see how it goes. If there's problems I hadn't figured on, there's Plan B and C and D all waiting in the wings, and plenty of time to make adjustments.
It feels good to be back on the blog. I've installed Moveable Type blogging software, so my blog is now fully functional, and much easier to use on my end. I'm really going to work on making it a habit to post something here at least once a day. My problem isn't a lack of things to say, but more an abundance of them. I could probably blog 24-7 if I let myself.