I've been meaning to mention that I was named "Crasher of the Month" at Bureaucrash this month. Don't worry- it's a good thing. ;-)
I've only got a couple more days of glory on the home page, but I'll presumably be listed in the section on the right of this page for the foreseeable future. FWIW, My member page at Bureaucrash serves as a pretty good mini-bio of me, at least as far as my current activities go.
I've been following the blog coverage of the John Miller/Randy Barnett "Get Libertarians in the GOP tent" discussion, and finding cool new liberty blogs in the process. I made new friends in Michael Gersh at Zero Base Thinking and Alina Stefanescu at TOTALITARIANISM TODAY (I really like the name of her blog-- and she called my Boston Public article a "must read"!)
They'll all be in the blogroll soon...Alina and Michael are already.
I went on a blog-promoting mini-rampage yesterday and today, and in the process came upon some diary and blog review sites. Rogue Reviews says that if they see gaps in the updates, they look for a "plausible explanation, such as a vacation or an emergency". After reading their scoring sheet (and others), I determined that my main weaknesses are design (obviously), and gaps. I looked at the little November calendar and realized it was even gappier than I thought.
I've already explained one gap-- the power outage of Nov. 6-8, but I let the more recent gaps go unexplained. There's a reason, too. What happened is that my company, PeoplesForum.com has hired a new CEO, replacing me. I was the one who hired him, or at least the one who moved the idea through its paces. Anyway, in the past two weeks, the transition has started taking hold, which has meant extra energy being devoted to that for a while. We spent a lot of time preparing and planning the announcement to our membership and the "changing of the guard"-- which went about as smoothly as we could have hoped. That preparation and planning work was going on during the Nov. 11-14 gap, and then we actually announced and put the transition in full gear during the Nov. 16-18th gap.
The reason these explanations didn't get posted in a timely fashion is that I didn't want to "leak" the big news here before the members at PeoplesForum.com found out-- mostly because I didn't want them to find out from here. Web communities are sensitive things, and I wanted to be sure the change-over went as smoothly as possible, part of which involves doing the announcement right. The announcement was last Monday the 18th, and I had a lot of other stuff I wanted to get posting here, so I didn't get around to breaking the news. Until now.
In the end, I don't think I did the greatest job with the actual content of the announcement, but it was safe. It could have been a lot more enthusiastic, and a lot less cautious and defensive...I just had a hard time figuring out exactly what to say and how to say it.
One of the things that both running for president and and running a web community have instilled in me is a deliberative process that guides my writing and message posting, and to a lesser extent, my speaking. Most of the time, I think pretty hard about the words I use.
I'm not going to get into trying to dissect the parameters of that process right now, but the basic guideline, I think, is a desire to be clear and unmistakable in my communications. One of the reasons is that I live with a fairly constant filter, which operates under the theory that anything I say can and will be used against me in the court of public opinion.
So far in my 6 years of publishing my thoughts online, I've posted probably 1,000 pages or more of my words, and it's all "on the record". Between now and 2008, I'll probably post another 4,000 pages worth, or more. I also hope to write a few books between now and then, probably adding another 1,000 pages. These are pretty wild guesses, but I think if anything they might be low estimates. That is 6,000 pages of stuff (and thank you in advance for reading all of them) that some reporter someday could shove in my face and ask me to explain or justify. I try as hard as I can to take this into account in all my words and actions-- it's actually been a very helpful self-improvement tool, which I'll talk about more someday.
It didn't help, however, with my announcement on this big change. I guess it was just such a huge and strange change-- I've been CEO of PeoplesForum.com, which I co-founded, for 4 years. The guy who I chose to replace me (Dan Shafer) is indisputably more qualified, and having him at the helm is a great relief to me, in many ways. But it's still a huge and strange change in my life, and I think that explains why my announcement effort was a bit off. It was just hard to decide what I wanted to say.
I just realized that this amounts to another weak announcement of the Big News at my company, and I'm going to write up a rockin' and hoppin' one tomorrow and post it as its own enthusiastic message. This one's a bit too introspective to really be called an announcement. ;-)
John Miller writes in a New York Times op-ed about "the libertarian problem" that is plaguing the Republicans ("A Third Party On The Right"). I have to tell you, this is the kind of stuff I love, love, LOVE to see. Not because I think it could give Republicans a much-needed wake-up call, as Randy Barnett at National Review Online hopes. I love it because it concedes the obvious but little-stated reality that the Libertarian Party is having a profound effect on the Two Parties.
I don't particularly care about the off-chance that Republicans might wake up and get religion, so to speak, as regards libertarianism. Randy Barnett thinks they can win back that key margin if they try hard enough, and he lays out a list of proposals on how Republicans could become "more libertarian" and "keep libertarians inside the tent".
The reasons I don't care much about the "wake-up call" factor are both centered around the fact that it's not going to work. Reason one is that most Libertarians aren't ever going to go back to whichever Two Party they came from. They will never trust the Democrat or Republican parties to properly respect freedom. Both parties are so far off the path, and have been for so long, and so willingly, that it's absurd to think that either of them will change enough to bear any legitimate claim to the title of "libertarian".
It used to be that Democrats favored violating certain (largely economic) freedoms, and Republicans favored violating certain (largely personal) freedoms. Now they work in concert, "in the spirit of bipartisanship", to violate freedoms on both sides of the aisle. The majority of the party leaders and representatives don't even bother to hide the fact that they're basically partners with the other party. They can barely speak a sentence without the word "bipartisan" in it.
Most people who are pulling the voting lever for Libertarian candidates see this farce for what it is, and it would take a titanic (as in massive) shift-- not the Titanic (as in the ship) shift the Bipartisans are embarking on -- to convince them otherwise. Both parties will continue to lose increasing numbers of voters to Libertarians...the tide is not going to start shifting the other way any time in the foreseeable future.
Which brings me to reason two that the "wake-up call" is a relative non-issue: they aren't waking up. Not even close. A quick look at Randy's proposals bares the lie. It reads like "Republican Talking Points From Oppositeland". Half of his proposals are things the GOP is rabidly opposed to, particularly at this juncture-- stuff like respecting privacy and the Bill of Rights, not to mention backing off prohibition, of all things. Really, the whole list is dreamland stuff. The Bush Administration is the biggest thing to hit U.S. government since F.D.R., and if King George has his way, it'll be the biggest thing since Lincoln. Republicans are headed firmly away from all the supposed "republican" qualities that people admired about them-- free markets, leave-me-alone-ism, states' rights, you name it. The only "Republican" quality they seem to be firmly holding onto is serving Big Business. And that's not even a rightfully republican stance. Oh, and war-mongering. Of all the Rebublican stuff they decide to stick with, it's those two.
And, back to the point, they're not sticking to the old-school "republican" things Randy Barnett suggests. The only one of his points that has any possibility of coming to light is the appointments of libertarian-ish judges, but given the Administration's overt desire to steamroll civil liberties, gut the balance of power, employ a police state of indefinite duration, and generally eliminate privacy, my hunch is that the judge-nomination-sifter will probably catch most of the libertarians and toss them out. Way too inconvenient in times such as these.
Republicans who want to bring Libertarians "back into the fold" (and for the record, I didn't come from that fold) are wishing in the wrong direction. It's not that the Republican Party needs a revitalizing dose of pure-bred Libertarians -- it's that the Libertarian Party needs an infusion of libertarian GOP defectees. The Republican Party is hopelessly damaged, and the Libertarian Party is inspiringly pure. It's clear which way the tide should be heading, and it should be clear that it will continue to head that way.
I posted a comment yesterday on an article by James Crabtree of VoxPolitics, and he was kind enough or impressed enough to give me a mention up on page 1. Thanks James! You won yourself a link in the blogroll.
Just came across the Libertarian Issues Index, which seems to be a pretty comprehensive set of resource links to explanations of libertarian viewpoints on all sorts of topics. I'll have to check it out more, but it definitely looks like a worthwhile set of links.
I've finally got all the old "Views" articles converted to archived blog entries. Take a look at the Archives section - it goes back years now. There's mad gaps, and the things there are cobbled together from all sorts of different origins. I've tried out different ways of building and updating the site/campaign over the years, and have definitely lapsed from time to time, due more than anything to the fact that I didn't have a good system that allowed me to get in the habit of making regular updates about different things. Obviously, I can't lean on that excuse anymore...so I'll probably lean on various problems in my personal life, and my inherent wordiness, if I get irregular from here on out. ;-)
I've mentioned before that my propensity to go on and on when I get going often keeps me from making consistent updates. Right now, I have about three posts I want to write, but I know each one will probably eat up an hour or more. Tonight I opted for working the old stuff into the archives, because I'm thinking about submitting this site for review at various blog/diary review sites, and I want it to be pretty and smooth. Then I'll add some of my pending articles, and start wowing the blog world. Or something like that.
Anyway, about the "new" old articles that are now in archives:
There are three articles that came from my very first website/column (at Angelfire), called "So Here's What I Think". That'd be "Leave Everyone Alone", "On Gay marriage", and "How to Make Prisons Work". Then there are various pieced-together "articles" from my time at Salon TableTalk in 96/97. There's a stand-alone article I wrote called "Boston Public: The Case Against Schools" from 2000. There's also the old "The Free View" e-mail updates, which ran for a while in 2000 and 2001. There's my extended answers to The World's Smallest Political Quiz. There's probably some other stuff too... dig in!
This humble blog was mentioned in a political blogs summary at MSNBC's Weblog Central. Cool! It didn't really bring much traffic (it was one of a whole bunch of links in the feature), but it marks (I think) the first "official" recognition of this site as one of the campaign blogs out there.
Also cool is how many visitors are being drawn in through searches at Google and Yahoo and the like. My "Daily Show Rocks" post pulled in a bunch of folks, for instance. This bodes well...I can only imagine how much search traffic I'll be getting once there's years and years of posts here.
Also notable...the number of searches for some combination of "president 2008" seems to be on the rise, which makes sense. Each election that passes makes the '08 election come closer into focus. There'll be a huge surge in that sort of thing once '04 rolls around. Hopefully I'll still be the top listing for that search...it'd be nice if seniority was a factor in search listings. :-)
In case it's not obvious, traffic at the site is up. Last month was a record month -- double the traffic of many previous months -- and this month's total is on target to top October's. The numbers are still tiny, but they're growing.
Detective Dan Nichols saw it -- and issued an official release on behalf of the Branch County (Michigan) Sheriff's department warning people about it.
(The Onion is a parody/satire "news" site, if you didn't know. Dan Nichols didn't.)
Here's a cool article at Reason magazine. It's an interview with Vernon L. Smith, an experimental economist who was just awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. An experimental economist is someone who tests economic theories via experiments with real people. In effect, they set up certain economic scenarios and see how people react.
The interesting part is that Vernon Smith started out as an avowed socialist, and now describes himself as a libertarian.
I particularly like this quote:
"Whether we're talking about politics or economics, or even social interaction," says Smith, "the best systems maximize the freedom of the individual, subject to the constraint of others in the system."
(I've just finished reading the interview -- I had posted this while I was still reading it -- and it gets pretty economically technical in the latter half, then comes around to talking about the socialist-to-libertarian conversion near the end. The middle is pretty technical and potentially boring.)
The government is going to disturbing new lengths to get recruits for the military.
I could say a lot about this, but the article covers most of it. One thing that's particularly disturbing is this:
The military complained this year that up to 15 percent of the nation's high schools are "problem schools" for recruiters. In 1999, the Pentagon says, recruiters were denied access to 19,228 schools. Rep. David Vitter, a Republican from Louisiana who sponsored the new recruitment requirement, says such schools "demonstrated an anti-military attitude that I thought was offensive."
19,228 schools denied military recruiters access. The "No Child Left Behind" law (which apparently aims to live up to its name in more ways than one) overrules the judgment of the officials at all of those schools-- on behalf of who knows how many hundreds of thousands of kids. Think about that-- how many local decisions that one small part of that law overrules. It makes me shudder. The unnecessary use of that much force against that many people. Ugh.
It also smacks of the same thing the cigarette companies are so often accused of-- getting 'em while they're young and impressionable, and in this case, captive. In both cases, the "product" the advertisers are "selling" is one that could lead to the future death of the given young person. At least cigarette companies don't resort to forcing high schools to give them their mailing lists.
The local Libertarian Party here, which I'm the Chair of, got a little bit of press recently, for a presentation we had, featuring author/economist David Henderson. Hopefully I'll be able to get video of the event itself up on the web (I've never done that before) -- it was a really good talk.
Here's the blog entry where I link to the article. I'm sending you there because the article link will change over time, and I don't want to have to change it in two places.
The Daily Show had a really funny animation on their post-Election Day show. It's a parody of the old "Schoolhouse Rock" Saturday morning cartoons, making fun of the midterm elections. Not this specific election, just midterm elections in general. It's definitely worth watching for a half-nostalgic/half-sarcastic chuckle.
Sorry I haven't been posting here as much. That power outage was a doozy, and impacted my daily schedule a lot. I ended up being without power for about 50 hours, which is pretty crazy. I had to throw out everything in my fridge and freezer, which is pretty lame. I was using candles and my stovetop as my primary heat source, which is pretty...well, resourceful, actually. ;-)
I'll try to get back on track ASAP.
cool site: http://www.googlism.com/
"Googlism.com will find out what Google.com thinks of you, your friends or anything!"
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Let me just make one thing clear: I am not convicted omaha. ;-)
I've been away for a couple days-- partly because the power has been out here for over 24 hours. I'm currently running off of a generator-- computer, satellite internet, and TV. It's good preparation for my upcoming life in the motorhome.
It's election day today (duh), and I'm going to be spending most of my day studying up on all the big races so I can be well-informed, because...
I'm going to be a panelist on our local community access TV station's live Election Night coverage. Woo hoo! It's not the biggest deal, but it's pretty cool. It's one of the biggest productions of the year at the local TV station and it's going to be nice to be part of it. Unfortunately, it's not webcast or anything, so unless you're in Grass Valley, you're out of luck.
Time has a cool cover feature (last month's now, I think) on "The New Politics of Pot". It's pretty good, and encouraging for the legalization movement. Check out the results on the "Should marijuana be legalized?" poll.
At the Economic Club of Washington, DC, discussion on the 2002 Election Outlook, Republican pollster Robert Teeter openly admits that the two parties worked together to basically split the country up evenly (by redistricting/gerrymandering)-- and says they have basically succeeded. He says the latest numbers (percentages) they came up with are 38-38-16. He wasn't clear on what that "16" was composed of-- I assume it's everything in the "other" column. Which begs the question: Where's the other 8 percent? Thirty-eight plus thirty-eight plus sixteen is only ninety-two. Thirty-eight plus thirty-eight means twenty-four percent is not with them.
You can check the forum out at C-Span's Campaign 2002 page. It's a little dry, but there are some interesting things divulged-- particularly in the abovementioned Mr. Teeter's remarks. It;s called: "Peter Hart & Robert Teeter Economic Club of Washington, DC, discussion on the Upcoming Election".
I've been having trouble playing the clips on C-Span's site, but it may be just me.
How weird am I? When I came to realize I wasn't going to be home until 10 PM, I was at first bummed because I would miss tonight's episode of South Park on Comedy Central-- but then I was relieved and a little excited when I remembered that there would be campaign 2002 debates airing on C-Span. ;-)
Alas, when I got here, all they had on was Jeb Bush vs. Bill McBride in the Florida gubernatorial debate. Standard bipartisan shenanigans.
I saw a really interesting forum on C-Span the other night. I'll write about it a little tomorrow. I did about 11 hours of driving, and I'm pretty beat.