May 31, 2003
10 Easy Ways You Can Help the Campaign

Here are ten ways you can help the Lance Brown for President campaign, in mere moments, by just moving your hands around a little.

1. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues

Pass on one of my articles or e-mail updates, or just send your contact list an excited e-mail urging them to check out the site. Time and the Internet are two of this campaign's greatest assets -- time, to build momentum, and the Internet, to connect and communicate easily. Combine the two and spread the word!

2. Join the On The Road Support Network

Click here to read more about this. I'll be on the road pretty steadily for the next 5 years, starting soon. It will go a lot better if I have folks out there who are willing to lend support along the way.

3. Shop at my affiliate bookstores

I've got affiliate program accounts with and Laissez-Faire Books. I'll put up more robust ways to make use of these soon. For now, just buying something via those two links will help raise some money for my road trip and FEC filing.

4. Post or send a testimonial

Testimonials are one of marketing's best tools. I can say I'm great all I want, but it doesn't mean much coming from me. However, if you say I'm great, or whatever you might be moved to say about me, that means a lot. I've already got some really good testimonials posted over in the left column, but "the more, the merrier" definitely applies here. If you've got something to say about me and you don't mind if I spread it around, then post it as a comment here, or send me an e-mail ( and let me know it's o.k. to publish your comments (and name, city, state, if that's alright -- or tell me if it's not).

5. Submit the site to directories and links pages

I know there's a lot of places out there that have links pages or directory categories where this site would fit in, but I can't find them all -- and even if I could, I don't have time to submit the site to all of them. And even if I did, I think in many cases it's better if a third person suggests a site -- it's similar to the testimonials thing.

6. Alert the blogosphere

Surely you've heard about blogs (weblogs) -- you're reading one right now. The blogosphere -- the world of blogs, as it were -- is getting more powerful every day. And it's already quite mighty. Blogs are getting the word out to tens of millions of people, and often something exciting, strange, or funny can spread around the blogosphere in a matter of days -- and suddenly, everybody knows about it. Well, my campaign could be said to be exciting, weird, and funny -- a blogosphere hat trick (or trifecta, or triumvirate, if you prefer). This is another of those things where it's better for you to spread the word than for me to do it. I'll do my fair share of blog-o-introductions and hand shakes, but the real power to spread the blog-o-fire is in your hands.

Here are sites with lots of blogs: Wanderlust | | | Blogdex | Popdex | Blogger

There's now a whole section of blog places in the right column.

7. Make a graphic/button/banner

I'm not the most talented when it comes to designing graphics. I can get by, but I have a bad eye for color combinations, and most of the other stuff graphics gurus do well. I also haven't thought of any super-grabbing banner, button, or image link concepts. That said, I could certainly use some images for people to use if they want to link to here. It's a missing link in my quest to build a full-featured campaign site. I know that for some people making these things is real easy -- if you're one of those people, then this would qualify as an easy way to help. :-)

8. Link to the site

So simple, yet so effective. If you have a place where you post links -- be it your own site, or on a web forum or wherever -- post one to Easy as pie, and twice as sweet.

9. Improve my ratings at rankings sites

There are a number of places that list sites in order of the rank they earn by generating clicks and visitors.

This site is #10 and rising on the Top 25 Libertarian Sites list. You can help that rating by clicking on the Top 25 Libertarian Sites link or graphic often. (Plus right now, of course.) With your help, I'll spend a few years at the top of that list before 2008.

Blogarama has a similar system, but with a more general audience, topically speaking. This site is currently (updated: 8/4/03) #22 of 3030 sites in the "What's Cool" section, #112 in "What's Popular", and #1 in the Politics category! Your clicks on the Blogarama link here or in the right column will help boost our "What's Cool" rating, and help keep the site as the #1 Politics site. ("What's Popular" is based on how many people click on this site's listing there.) You can also post a review of this site at Blogarama, by clicking here.

And, while I'm not crazy about the formatting of the "Blogster Top 25" list (which actually lists the top 50) -- and it hasn't generated many visits so far -- it can't hurt to keep moving up that list, which your click here will help with. The site's #34 now. (updated: 8/4/03)

You can also rate the site more critically at BlogHop: One (best) | Two | Three | Four | Five (worst). The higher-rated sites get displayed more prominently at their site.

There's a graphic or link in the right column for each of these. Talk about easy ways to help my campaign! How much easier could it get?

10. Donate Money to the Campaign

Upcoming costs include filing my official papers with the FEC, my upcoming 5-year campaign road trip, and presentation materials for my campaign camp at Burning Man in August. [note: I'm not going to go to Burning Man this year after all.] I've been funding this campaign out of my own pocket for 9 years, and I'll continue to pour all I can into it for as long as I need to. I've been keeping the requests for donations mellow all this time, because I don't think it's been very reasonable to expect people to fund something that's not only super-unconventional, but which until recently has been very far away. I'm still keeping the request mellow, but it's going to be time to start really raising funds soon. Fair warning. ;-)

If you want to get warmed up, you can drop some money in my Paypal hat:

Posted by Lance Brown at 11:35 PM
May 28, 2003
Atlas Shrugged and me (and a movie makes three)

There is no book which has had a greater influence on me than Atlas Shrugged.

I first read Atlas when I was 15. My favorite teacher ever, Jim Duquette, was a major fan of Ayn Rand -- a rarity among high school educators, I believe. He was a rarity in almost every way possible -- a truly extraordinary teacher. Fearless, funny, super-energetic, a little bit crazy, strict but soft, demanding yet understanding. He had such a zest for life, and for learning, and for, as he said, "getting at the meat" of things. He passed away last year, and I regret that it had been years since I had visited him or talked with him. He ranks as one of the top 5 influences on my development, and probably will hold that standing for the rest of my life.

A big reason why I treasure Mr. Duquette so much is because he introduced me to Ayn Rand. When I read Atlas Shrugged, it was like I was reading an epic permission slip for me to be what I had become -- confident, individualistic, unrelenting in pursuit of my achievements, and unbending to the pressures and whims of others.

I had long been a bit of a self-imposed outcast among my peers -- I was very smart, I was cocky and sarcastic, and I was unique almost to a fault.

An example (and you're going to think I'm really weird): For most of my youth from 5th grade on, I wore button-down "dress shirts". (Eventually this evolved to unbuttoned dress shirts with a t-shirt underneath, which is quite often still my major mode of "fashion".) Anyway, in 6th or 7th grade I decided for some reason to start rolling one sleeve of my shirt up, while leaving the other down. If I had to explain it now, I'd say I was challenging the norms and expectations of my peers -- a fancy way of saying I was just doing it to be weird, which is what I thought of it at the time. I wore my shirt like that, every day, for quite some time -- I can't recall if it was weeks or months, but it was quite a while. When people would ask me why I had one sleeve rolled up and the other down -- and they did ask me, regularly -- I would usually respond with, "Why do you have both sleeves rolled down (or up)?" The answer was, of course, that they were conforming to the norm, and some would say something to that effect -- "Because that's how you're supposed to wear them,", or "Because that's the normal way to wear them." Most, however, would just express frustration, or say "You're weird." That was not the first or the only time I was weird on purpose, but I remember it the best of all of them, because it was so overt, and because it was really a significant test. The pressure to conform is practically almighty in K-12 school, and at some level as a child, I recognized that I had no interest in submitting to such a thing. Which isn't to say I never followed a trend, or felt embarassment, or conformed to what my friends and peers wanted of me -- I did each of those things sometimes -- but more often than not I consciously or unconsciously resisted those pressures, and I sought to look, act, and speak up in a way that broke the norms, or challenged the expectations of those around me. I can't begin to estimate the number of times I was told "You're weird." Or, for that matter, the number of times I saw the look in a teacher's eyes that indicated that I made them nervous -- not fearful of physical harm, but nervous because they knew they did not control me. Sort of an "Oh my God, what do I do with this one?" look.

And it was hard, being like that. Challenging people is either my nature or I learned it very young, because I've been doing it for as long as I can remember -- and most of the earliest stories of me are stories of me disobeying or resisting in some way. And if you've been through school, you must know how hard it is to not be accepted, or to stand up against peer pressure. I basically made an effort to not be accepted, and stood up to peer pressure every time I could. And it was hard. I'm not complaining -- I'm just sayin'.

But then I met Ayn Rand, through a little huge book called Atlas Shrugged. And Ayn taught me that being unique, standing out, achieving and being smart, and resisting peer pressure were all good things. She taught me that pursuit of my happiness -- in the broadest sense of the term -- was supposed to be my main objective, and it wasn't my job to do what others wanted me to do to make them happy. She gave me permission to be me -- she showed me me, in the characters of her book, and she showed me the people who had tried to mold and control me as well. She laid out clearly what was wrong with what they were trying to do, and why it was right for me to do what I was trying to do.

But that was only half of the bargain, and the other half of the bargain almost certainly helped me more than the first. Part A of the bargain, which I had intuited all my life, was "you get to do what you want, you get to decide if you're right or wrong, and being selfish is not just OK -- it's the right thing to do." That's the "permission to be me" part. But for Part A to work, you have to do Part B -- you have to live morally. You get to decide if you're right, but you have to actually be right. You get to do what you want, but you have to do the right thing. Being selfish is the right thing to do -- as long as you are living a good and productive and moral life.

Part A of the deal went pretty quickly for me. I had already been training to be an utterly unique egomaniac for a long time. I got my permission slip, and just went back to being weird me, with that much more zest. And as you can tell, I never looked back. But Part B has become a lifelong journey.

Up until then, I was basically winging it. I didn't have a philosophy to speak of -- I just did what I felt like doing. I didn't have much of a moral structure -- I knew the basics, like don't hurt people, etc., and I had honesty as a characteristic deeply ingrained in me, but that was about it. I didn't have any rules for myself, unless you count "be weird" and "make trouble" as rules. ;-)

Ayn Rand didn't so much teach me the rules -- she showed me why there are rules, and why it's important to figure them out and follow them. Ayn Rand's philosophy is called Objectivism -- it's a whole school of philosophy that started with her -- and its two main premises are essentially (I paraphrase heavily), "Reality is. Deal with it.", and "Human achievement rocks!"

The extension of "Reality is. Deal with it." is that there is a system to how things work, from the physical to the psychological to the philosophical to the sociological and so on. The system is knowable and definable thing. That's "Reality is." Ayn Rand says it most often as "A is A." "Deal with it" means that your job is to follow the rules of the system in the correct way. Not the rules that are handed down from people, or written in rulebooks and religions -- the natural rules. In other words, doing what's right -- what you, as an entity in a system defined by rules, are supposed to be doing.

It's not as lame as it sounds, because what you're supposed to be doing is maximizing you -- being the most you, the unique you, that you can possibly be. That ties into the other premise of Objectivism -- "Human achievement rocks!" Ayn believed that mankind was pretty damn amazing, and that when unleashed -- when let free -- humans are capable of phenomenal achievements. She thought that when individuals work toward their greatest achievement -- doing what it is they love best, and doing it the best they can -- that the greatest good could be achieved. She thought that that was the proper moral system.

I couldn't agree more. Practically since the first year I read it, people have been telling me that I would grow out of my "Ayn Rand phase", and now as often as not people will try to look down their nose and say "Oh, I used to really like her when I was young/a teenager/in college, but then..." Fill in the blank -- "...I grew out of it", "...I got out in the real world and learned that it's not always black and white like she says", "...I grew to realize that sometimes you need to compromise..." , etc.. Well it's 15 years later, I've read the book 4 or 5 times now (once every few years), and my "Ayn Rand phase" is getting along just fine -- showing no signs of stopping. So as not to offend all the people who told me I'd grow out of it, I'll continue to entertain the idea that it's just a phase -- but just between you and me and the world wide web...I think it's permanent.

I don't agree with everything Ayn Rand said or believed in, I don't necessarily hold all the same values that she held, and her and I come from very different backgrounds and as a result see the world in a very different way -- but I believe that most of the tenets of her philosophy are true. I think she was right a lot more than she was wrong. And I value Atlas Shrugged as much as or more than I ever have in the past. If someone demanded a one-book-only essential reading list from me, it would say Atlas Shrugged. I'd probably put a smiley face next to it.

(There's a lot of clarification and explanation I'd like to stuff into here, but it will have to wait for another entry. I could go on at quite great length about this topic, and likely will in due time.)

On that note, onto the news that prompted this entry: it looks like Atlas Shrugged is finally going to be made into a movie. People have been trying to make that happen for over 30 years, and there have been three and a half failed attempts during that time, most recently in 2001. But it sounds like some pretty hardcore folks have hold of it now -- people with money, names, and serious dedication to making it happen. The screenwriter has done bunches of big-name book-to-movies, and has read the book 4 times in the past 6 months. They're talking about making it big budget, with known stars -- the whole shebang. And they're all into it because they are into Ayn Rand's vision, and sharing that vision with as big an audience as possible.

I'm trying not to get too worked up about it just yet, but this would be pretty sweet if it pans out. Atlas is an enormously popular book -- I'll never tire of the fact that it ranked the second most influential book in an important survey, after The Bible. The idea of getting tens of millions of people all worked up about it via a big Hollywood movie makes me smile. I don't want to start musing about the potential impact it could have until I see more confirmation that it's actually going to happen. But, woo hoo! :-)

Some articles (each as good as the next, all with worthy tidbits):

The Objectivist Center: Film Company to Bring "Atlas Shrugged" to the Screen

Box Office Mojo: 'Atlas Shrugged,' Take Five

Box Office Mojo: 'Atlas Shrugged:' Who is James Hart?
(about the screenwriter)

And Miss Liberty's Film and TV World has an Unofficial Atlas Shrugged Movie Homepage which has been following the development of the project for some time.

If you want, you can buy the book and help support my campaign:


Posted by Lance Brown at 02:18 AM
May 25, 2003
The Campaign "Elevator Pitch"

I am serious in my presidential ambitions. I started my campaign in 1994, and I decided to devote most of my life to it. Within the next year I'll start touring the country, and will be doing so for most of the next 5 years. I intend to win the Libertarian Party's nomination in 2008, and to combine their 50-state ballot access and large body of supporters* with my own supporters -- college students, Green-libertarians, netizens, homeschooling families, and other constituencies. For the most part, I plan to target the "other" hundred million eligible voters -- the people who are sick of both the Democrats and the Republicans, and who have just about given up on the whole system. For the most part, the "Lesser of Two Evils" voters and party loyalists won't vote for me (or any truly independent candidate), so I'll be targeting everybody else -- which fortunately is a majority of Americans. I intend to offer them a genuine chance to break out of the malaise that (we all know in our hearts) has infected our government and political system.

There's a lot more to the plan, but those are the broad strokes.

* I don't mean to imply that I aim to "take over" the Libertarian Party, like Pat Buchanan did with the Reform Party. I am a Libertarian Party member and local leader, and I am running under their banner because I believe in the LP's goals and values, and I believe that Libertarian principles are the best guideline for America's future. I also believe that the Libertarian Party is the most active, successful, and well-organized third party in more than a century in America. As minor as their successes may seem in relation to the Bipartisans', the LP is the only third party that is anywhere near what could be called national political success.

Posted by Lance Brown at 03:26 AM

This article (called "Patriot Raid", by Jason Halperin) gives the "USA-PATRIOT" Act some perspective -- a first-person one. He experienced a raid while eating dinner at a restaurant in New York City, where the agents involved claimed the "USA-PATRIOT" Act as the legal cover for the raid and their conduct during it.

If you know anyone who says, "Don't worry about the Patriot only applies to terrorists and immigrants...if you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about...the Patriot Act is just providing law enforcement with the tools it needs...", make them read this article. Twice if necessary. Make them acknowledge the reality of it. If they want to continue thinking the above thoughts, fine. But they need to make sure they aren't playing fast and loose with Pastor Martin Niemoller-style excuses and evasions.

The USA-PATRIOT Act means machine guns in your face, and boots kicking in doors where you are, doing your innocent and ordinary things. Not just the terrorists and the guilty, not just the immigrants and the You, sitting there in a restaurant eating dinner. Jason Halperin is you and me and everyone else.

As I see it, the only Niemollerism left upon acceptance of those realities is the idea that "none of those people were harmed; the raid was just a necessary inconvenience in the War on Terror. It's a small price to pay for security from terrorism. 'Loaded guns pointed in faces, people made to crawl on their hands and knees, police officers clearly exacerbating a tense situation by kicking in doors, taunting, keeping their fingers on the trigger even after the situation was under control.'? Well, this is a war -- it won't be all fun and games." Fine, keep thinking that if you want -- and maybe you won't be in the restaurant (or store, or apartment building, or intersection) when one of these raids goes wrong. (And raids do go wrong. That's undeniable.)

I suppose there is one other very slender thread of evasion left that says that it was still a predominantly minorities-focused raid. I guess that could provide folks in the White Belt with a thin veil of false assurance. (I just made up the term "White Belt" as far as I know -- hopefully it's clear I'm talking about the many swaths of America which have a very small minority population. I mean no disrespect to Caucasians. Many of my friends are Caucasians. ;-))

I'm on the far western edge of that belt myself -- the minority population here is about 5%. It's a pretty liberally-minded place, and I've never noticed any remarkable amount of racism here, but in regard to the War on Terror I think there's definitely a sense that we're kind of out of that loop. We have no major metropolitan areas or "high-value" terrorist targets, and we hardly have enough Arabs or Hispanic folks to speak of. (I think the mainstream perception that War on Terror enforcement mostly involves those groups is pretty dominant.) Most people here probably think that nobody in Nevada County is going to be hauled away, raided, or hassled by the FBI, CIA, INS, or the Department of Homeland Security. And they probably think that nobody here is getting searched or surveilled without probable cause and reasonable justification.

I bet that a lot of people, White Belters and otherwise, think those things in the process of processing the thoughts that lead to the "OK"-ing of the "Patriot Act". Well, they need to read Jason Halperin's story. And they need to read Pastor Martin Niemoller's regrets. It doesn't take much puzzling to put those two pieces together into a bigger picture. If you can knowingly, with full awareness, look at that bigger picture and still say, "Yeah, let's go for it!", then fine. You're entitled to your opinion. Though I utterly oppose your view, I won't begrudge you your reasoned and thought-out opinion.

But it's time to set the evasions aside. Dump the "It won't happen to me", the "If you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about", and the "It only applies to terrorists and immigrants." Those are fake reasons -- you don't get to use them. If you're going to help propel the bandwagon that's driving us toward this new, disturbing America, at least be honest about it. With us, and with yourself.

Posted by Lance Brown at 01:18 AM
May 24, 2003
Keepers of Bush Image Lift Stagecraft to New Heights

Much to my dismay, and the dismay of many others, the Bush Administration has proven itself to be utterly masterful at managing its image and message, and, as a result, the American populace.

Here's a New York Times article about the work behind the always-perfect visuals accompanying major appearances by the President. Most of it's just standard image marketing amped up to a level of near-perfection, but there's one bit in there that's pretty freakin' sleazy. (I'm referring to when they covered up "Made in China" stickers on crates at a factory for a speech by Bush about his economic plan.)

Posted by Lance Brown at 11:33 PM
May 21, 2003
The Daily Show: Bush vs. Bush

I found a funny-but-sad Daily Show segment on the Comedy Central website. It's a simulated interview/debate conducted by Jon Stewart between Governor George Bush and President George Bush, and it painfully illustrates the extreme 180 that Bush has done in his views on foreign policy between the time he was campaigning and now. Basically, what he said then is the opposite of what he says (and does) now.

See for yourself:

Bush vs. Bush

Posted by Lance Brown at 11:53 PM
The surprising truth about heroin

This is a fascinating article by Reason editor Jacob Sullum, about the myths and realities of heroin and addiction. The short summary is that heroin is not nearly as addictive and harmful as most people (myself included) are inclined to believe it is. The long article, excerpted from Sullum's new book, Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use, features lots of examples of casual and responsible heroin users. It also has a lot of analysis of what constitues "addiction", "dependence", and other terms that are used in relation to repeated drug use.

I consider myself to have a pretty liberal and un-propagandized view of drug use, and I found that this article opened my eyes to a more tolerant way to look at use of "hard" drugs -- particularly the poster child of "addictive drugs", the big H.

The surprising truth about heroin and addiction.

In 1992 The New York Times carried a front-page story about a successful businessman who happened to be a regular heroin user. It began: "He is an executive in a company in New York, lives in a condo on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, drives an expensive car, plays tennis in the Hamptons and vacations with his wife in Europe and the Caribbean. But unknown to office colleagues, friends, and most of his family, the man is also a longtime heroin user. He says he finds heroin relaxing and pleasurable and has seen no reason to stop using it until the woman he recently married insisted that he do so. ‘The drug is an enhancement of my life,’ he said. ‘I see it as similar to a guy coming home and having a drink of alcohol. Only alcohol has never done it for me.’"

The Times noted that "nearly everything about the 44-year-old executive...seems to fly in the face of widely held perceptions about heroin users." The reporter who wrote the story and his editors seemed uncomfortable with contradicting official anti-drug propaganda, which depicts heroin use as incompatible with a satisfying, productive life. The headline read, "Executive’s Secret Struggle With Heroin’s Powerful Grip," which sounds more like a cautionary tale than a success story. And the Times hastened to add that heroin users "are flirting with disaster." It conceded that "heroin does not damage the organs as, for instance, heavy alcohol use does." But it cited the risk of arrest, overdose, AIDS, and hepatitis -- without noting that all of these risks are created or exacerbated by prohibition.

The general thrust of the piece was: Here is a privileged man who is tempting fate by messing around with a very dangerous drug. He may have escaped disaster so far, but unless he quits he will probably end up dead or in prison.

That is not the way the businessman saw his situation.


Read the full article here.

Posted by Lance Brown at 11:11 PM
May 19, 2003
Vacation time's over

My mom went back home today, and I should be able to get more work done on the computer now. I hadn't seen my mom in quite awhile, so her long visit (18 days) kept me quite occupied. I've got a lot of catching up to do now in terms of my usual day-to-day work. On the other hand, Mom was a great help with helping me tame my bachelor pad, and my swirling dervish of an office. I'm a learning junkie workaholic, with a fairly constant flow of new and different ideas -- all of which adds up to lots of paperwork, lots of notes and plans, and significant amounts of accumulation of the detritus associated with a multi-tasking oriented lifestyle (i.e., a mess). There's nothing quite like a mom for motivating the dispersion of detritus. ;-)

I don't mean to make it sound like the cleaning and all that was the main reason I enjoyed seeing my mom. My mother is my favorite person, and I love her dearly. It was great to spend a lot of time with her, and to share my life in California with her. (She's never seen me here -- had never been to California in fact.)

We went to Yosemite National Park yesterday, and I have a bunch of photos and mini-videos from there I want to post, but it'll have to wait until tomorrow. I drove about 18 hours since yesterday morning, and I've slept about 16 or 17 hours since Thursday. It's Nappy Time for me.

Things should start picking up around here soon.

Posted by Lance Brown at 11:40 PM
May 17, 2003
The Nader 2004 "threat", and those poor, pitiful Democrats has a decent story about Ralph Nader's potential 2004 bid for the presidency, and how it's causing a painful split in the hard left -- between those who have utterly given up on the Democrats and who support Nader, and those who are scared enough of Bush madness (and trusting enough of the Dems) to say that the Greens should stay out of the 2004 presidential race so as to avoid a repeat of Nader's 2000 "spoiler" effect. Many Greens are worried that if Nader runs it will make even more people resent the Green Party for "helping" Bush win, again.

The issue brings up a lot of thoughts in me. I don't think Nader should run, but it has nothing to do with the "spoiler" potential. I don't think he should run because I think he's proven that he's unelectable, and without some revolutionary new gimmick or campaign plan he's likely to get even less votes than he did last time. I think that would be the case even without the spoiler worry, which will be much more acute this next time around. The simple truth is that Americans have had plenty of time to get to know Ralph Nader -- he probably has almost 100% name recognition -- and have decided that no way do they want him to be president. He's likely to suffer a similar fate as Harry Browne, who ran for a second time in 2000 with virtually the same method and message as in 1996, and got a lot less votes the second time around. You can't try to sell people something they didn't buy the first time, without making any major changes to it or syour sales technique, and expect to get a better response.

I think it must be hard for presidential candidates to see that from their first-person perspective, but it's brutally obvious from the outside looking in. Ross Perot proved it, Harry Browne proved it, and Nader will prove it if he runs in 2004. Even if he could increase his vote capture a bit, it's pretty much inconceivable that he could get it anywhere near the high-30% he would need to win against Bush and a Democrat. Of course, it's highly likely that the same could be said for any other person who might run in his place, but at least a new face wouldn't have a proven track record of having no chance of winning, as Nader does. He certainly isn't going to win over any Republican voters, and I don't think he'll sway any Democrats unless he's got 30-40 million voters outside of those two groups who will rise up en masse, he is a 100% guaranteed loss as a presidential candidate. And I don't see even a shred of a hint that Nader could find a way to invigorate a mass of that size into voting for him, unless he has some sort of really, really amazing tricks up his sleeve. Even then, I think it's clear (as I said) that most Americans have evaluated Nader over the past 30+ years and simply don't want him to be president. I kinda like the Greens, and I even kinda like Nader, and for both of their sakes, I hope he does the right thing and steps away. The Salon article mentions that folks have urged him to run for Senate or Governor -- I think that would be smart, and useful. He almost certainly wouldn't win those either, but he could actually do some good by running for one or the other. I don't see any good coming from a 2004 Nader presidential candidacy, especially considering the anti-Bush nervousness on the left, and the spoiler resentment factor. Even an utterly unknown nobody Green would do more good than him in that spot.

That said, I think the "spoiler" whiners are just that -- whiners. If the Democrats can't field a candidate who can win in a competitive race, against whoever else wants to run, then they don't deserve to win. Nader didn't hand Bush the election -- Al Gore and the Supreme Court did. If Al had simply won his own home state, nobody would be talking about Florida 2000, or the "spoiler effect". During last year's Minnesota Senate race, Working Assets (the liberal advocacy phone company folks) sent out an action alert urging people to press upon that state's Green Party Senate candidate to drop out, so as not to "spoil" Walter Mondale's bid for the seat. I found it pathetic, and I wrote them a scathing letter to that effect. If the Democrats can't win races because a competing liberal party is "stealing" a couplefew percentage points worth of voters, they should just pack it up and quit.

Greens (and Libertarians, and whatever other parties) have every right -- and it could be said, a responsibility -- to run as many candidates as they can, and as hard as they can. Any votes those candidates get aren't "stolen" from the Bipartisans -- they are earned, and earned hard at that. They should be applauded, not castigated -- and certainly not bullied out of the race. The word "pathetic" just keeps running through my head over and over when I think of folks whining about third party candidates earning votes that the whiners seem to think belong to the "major" party candidates. It's not just pathetic, it's backwards and wrong-headed. The proper conclusion to reach, when one sees that a Green is garnering enough votes to make a difference in a given race, is that lots of voters don't want to vote for the old party sell-out politicians. If Democrats want those Green votes, they should work to earn them -- not try to stifle or bully the candidate that is earning them. If the Bipartisan candidates are so great and wonderful, they should have no problem earning all the votes they need. The only reason people are worried about Nader running is because they know that none of the Democratic candidates in the field right now is likely to be able to beat Bush by a comfortable margin, if at all. That's a problem with those candidates, and with the Democratic Party itself -- it's not Nader's fault. Focusing on "winning" Nader's electorate over by simply taking their guy out of the race is ignoring the real problem, and it's lazy politics. And I feel I must say once more -- it's pathetic. It feels strange to pity a behemoth, half-of-a-political-monopoly major party that's been around for over 200 years, but that's what I feel. I pity the poor, dying, lost Democratic Party -- the weakling giant that fears an unelectable, 3-percent-getting guy, while ignoring the problems and failures that have made it so weak.

I fear Bush and the Republicans as much as the next guy, but if the Democrats expect to ride in and save the day somehow, they better focus on figuring out how to do it on their own merits -- whatever those might be.

Posted by Lance Brown at 01:30 AM
May 15, 2003
Vote on marijuana decriminalization at

FoxNews superstar and all-around hard-to-like guy Bill O'Reilly has a poll on his web site right now asking if marijuana use should be decriminalized in the U.S. When I got an e-mail letting me know about it, the author said that "no" was winning. "Yes" is now winning, as it should be. Help make sure it stays that way -- go to and scroll down a bit. The poll is on the right side.

There's no telling how long the poll will run, so get your vote in now -- and spread the word! O'Reilly is a huge TV news personality, generally known to be a conservative, and openly and firmly against any loosening of drug laws. This is a good opportunity to challenge the O'Reilly paradigm.

Posted by Lance Brown at 11:17 PM
Ramsey Clark C-Span speech on the Dangers of Militarization and more

I saw a speech on C-Span late the other night by former Attorney General (under President Johnson) Ramsey Clark, the man behind (which I knew), and the founder and Chairman of International A.N.S.W.E.R. (which I didn't know). The speech was great -- it was all about the dangers of what Bush has gotten us into post-9/11. It'd be silly to try and capsulize it here, especially since it was two days ago that I saw it, but I agreed with most of what he had to say...and the Q & A session that followed the speech was even more enjoyable (and less capsulizable).

The video is online, like most of C-Span's past programming, but I couldn't find a page to link to that featured it per se. However, this link should take you to a video search results page where the speech is the second result listed. I'd post the direct link that that page offers, but it's a RealMedia stream pop-up link, and I doubt I can get it to work right coming from here. So just go to that C-Span search results page, and click on the "U.S. Militarism Threatens the Destiny of Humanity" link. The speech is dated 5/12/2003. That should be enough to point your way there. It's really a speech worth hearing.

Posted by Lance Brown at 12:00 AM
May 13, 2003
New friend: Dane Carlson and

I'm overdue in giving props to Dane Carlson, creator of the new libertarian community blog He noticed my list of e-zine and list subscriptions, and gave it a mention, as well as adding me to his blogroll.

Dane appears to be a weblog guru -- his site says "We can help you build a weblog that'll make you rich, famous, and beautiful." The home page is unlike any I've ever seen, though. It's a sole page, with no links to click in, and no contact information or credits. Pretty weird. I'm not objecting, though -- Dane seems pretty cool, even with his weird home page. ;-)

I'm blogrolling Libertyfilter, and joining it too. It's got lots of promise. I just heard that Dane was inspired to start the site by George Bush's May 1st proclamation honoring "Loyalty Day", which, unbelievably, is a holiday in the U.S. -- the home of the Declaration of Independence, and the Revolutionary War that sprung from it.

Remember, you're either with us or you're against us -- by which I mean you're either down with Loyalty Day, or you're down with Libertyfilter. For the time being, you're still free to choose. Pledge allegiance to the Homeland, or pledge allegiance to liberty.

Sounds more like a no-brainer than a choice to me, but I'll let you decide for yourself.

(More on Loyalty Day coming soon.)

Posted by Lance Brown at 03:28 AM
May 11, 2003
My PF taglines

I run a discussion website called If you've been involved in online discussion forums, you may know that some of them allow people to choose a user picture, and what's generally called a "tagline" -- a second line of information that goes under the name. Usually it's a quote, or some sort of descriptive info about the person, or sometimes a website they like. Well, I just came up with a new tagline at PF, and I really like it. I was going to just mention it in passing, but I happen to have saved my previous taglines (since I stopped using the boring "CEO/Editor-In-Chief" or some variation on that), and there are some cool quotes and stuff in them, so I figured I'd share them with y'all. Not all of them are political, but they all provide a little insight into my attitude and personality.

In most cases, my tagline and picture have not been connected. I've used pictures of myself, or of my pets. More recently though, as my discontent with the Bush Administration has mounted, I've taken to posting more aggressive user pictures, and often in concert with a tagline that works with the picture. I'll post the associated pictures when relevant. I'm going to go from oldest to newest, so the more aggressive stuff will be at the end, with my new (and possibly favorite) one being last. Here you go:

"My interest in the future is because I am going to spend the rest of my life there." -- Charles F. Kettering

"Instead of telling our representatives there ought to be a law, let's tell them there ought to be a freedom." -- Mari Werner

"Loyalty to the country always; loyalty to the government when it deserves it." -- Mark Twain (via Utah Phillips)

"No tears to cry; No feelings left; This species has amused itself to death." -- Roger Waters

"The government's current rush to abandon any pretense of social responsibility ought to make this painfully clear: what the state supposedly giveth it promptly taketh away as soon as the balance of social power shifts." -- Ellen Willis

Believe in butterflies; if they can fly a thousand miles, imagine what you can do.

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." -- Alan Kay

I get knocked down, but I get up again

I'm the sysop your mother warned you about.

a day alive is a good day

Note: Then the war on Iraq started, and so did my aggressive tagline/picture combos.

I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the global empire of America. And to the militarization for which it nation, under Bush, unstoppable, with occupation and domination for all. Praise Allah!

Note: The above picture is an image from the CIA's website, under the title "Terrorist Busters".


member of the coalition of the unwilling

And my current combo, inspired in part by Stan Pike:

member of the coalition of the unwilling

Posted by Lance Brown at 11:40 PM
May 10, 2003
Rebel to Control-crats: "How Do You Like it Now?"

I love this guy, my hero of the week.

Angry homeowner paints a colorful protest

Stan Pike believes that if you can't beat City Hall, you can at least go down swinging -- and in his case, that means with a paint brush.

The Avondale Estates man lost his bid Monday night to get that city's Historic Preservation Commission to approve his plan to add a rounded front stoop to a house he's renovating on Kensington Road.

Pike said it was the second time in two months that he had wrangled with the board over changes to the house.

The commission didn't like the proposed designs for the house, Pike said. No member of the commission could be reached for comment. City Manager Warren Hutmacher said commission meeting minutes don't show why the commission rejected Pike's request.

Pike stewed about it Tuesday, then went to work Wednesday morning.

He called two painters. By day's end they had painted the front of the house lime green, then added large, purple polka dots.

Full story...

A guy here in Nevada City mounted a similarly-motivated protest a while back. He had wanted to renovate and repair his mother's house, which he owned (I don't recall if she had died and it became his, or if she was living there). He tried to get permission to improve the house, but the Planning Board rejected his request -- Nevada City has some pretty strict "historical preservation" restrictions on making any sort of changes to buildings in town. It was a big Gold Rush town -- this whole area is known as "Gold Country", and they are big on making sure it continues to look as much like the old gold rush town as it can.

Anyway, as I recall, this guy had made reasonable efforts to get permission to basically make the house, which was old to the point of not being useful by modern standards, a functionally modern house, and he was refused.

So, on a Saturday morning, he had the house demolished. It caused quite the uproar, and as you can imagine, all sorts of tittering commotion among the control-crats -- who, I believe, sought to penalize him for destroying the house that they wouldn't let him fix.

When I heard about it, I had a seriously enjoyable laughing session. Just as I did when I read about Stan Pike's stunt in the story above. I am big-time anti-authority, and the primary reason for that is that I'm big-time anti-control. And I really, really enjoy seeing people find creative (and blazingly un-ignorable) ways to buck the efforts of those who seek to control them. I'm actually considering starting a simple website to honor folks like Stan Pike, and others who come up with truly daring ways to break the chains of administartive conformity. Maybe I'll just make it a page on this site.

It might be a stretch to associate my favorite Ice-T quote with something relatively dry and boring like planning boards and housing renovation permits, but Stan Pike's stunt brought it into my mind anyway. If for some reason you haven't read all my posts here, or my biography (which doesn't exist), I'll remind you of the quote in question:

"You try to keep us running, and running faster -- but I'm not runnin' from ya, I'm running at ya."

The picture of Stan's house has become my new user pic at, and it fits surprisingly well with the new tagline I chose a few days ago, even though the tagline was inspired more by the war in Iraq and the Bush mal-Administration. More on my PF taglines and picture in my next entry.

UPDATE: Stan's house and story got national attention -- he was even on the Today show on NBC -- and sparked a broad support movement in his hometown, where like-minded folks were wearing green and purple, and putting purple polka dots made from paper plates on their houses in solidarity.

He was successful in his recent appeal to be allowed to put in his rounded stoop, and the house has been re-painted in a more traditional color pattern. Here are a couple of more recent news stories about that situation and its resolution:

MAY 14, 2003
Polka Dotted Paint Job Shakes Up Quiet Avondale Neighborhood

JUNE 4, 2003
Purple Polka Dots Vanish after Avondale Man Wins Appeal

Also, I should comment on the item posted by a woman shortly after the Stan Pike article hit big.

Here is what she posted in the comments area over here:

I came across your web site in a search on Stan Pike. He should not be anybody's hero and I am on a personal mission to inform the public of that. He is not fighting what the media is portraying. He is trying to undo the volunteer efforts of 6 hard working, educated people who actually have no power over him. He could have built whatever he wanted to without repercussions. People do it all the time. His approach to this has been purely spiteful and plain disrespectful.

I did a little research and then responded to her comment by e-mail. Here is my reply:


My research indicates that the Historic Preservation commission actually does have the power to approve or deny requests for renovations or modifications, as indicated in the Avondale Estates municipal code (link).

To quote the ordinance:

"Sec. 5-249
The preservation commission shall be authorized to:
(3) Review applications for certificates of appropriateness, and grant or deny same in accordance with the provisions of this article;"

And then there's this (link):

"Sec. 5-300. Conformance with certificate of appropriateness.
(a) All work performed pursuant to an issued certificate of appropriateness shall conform to the requirements of such certificate. If the work is not performed in accordance with such certificate, the preservation commission shall issue a cease and desist order and all work shall cease.
(b) The governing body or the preservation commission shall be authorized to institute any appropriate action or proceeding in a court of competent jurisdiction to prevent any material change in appearance of a designated historic property or historic district, except those changes made in compliance with the certificate of appropriateness or to prevent any illegal act or conduct with respect to such historic property or historic district."

So what am I missing? The commission members may certainly be volunteers, as you say. I'm not sure what that has to do with the matter at hand.

Are you saying that Stan was not even required to submit an application to the Commission? And if that's the case, then why did the Commission hear his application and issue a finding? Wouldn't the appropriate thing have been to tell him he wasn't required to request approval, and send him on his way with their blessing?

I assume you are in the locality where this occurred. I'd welcome an explanation of your assertions, as they seem to contradict the information I'm seeing in the Avondale Estates ordinances, as well as the information that's been reported in the news.

Have you gotten any of the news sources to issue corrections? Most every news agency will issue a correction if they have factually misrepresented a story.

I look forward to your reply.

Be Well, Be Free,

Lance Brown
Freedom Activist

{contact info}

----end reply------

Sarah has yet to reply to me, and no further information has come before me to substantiate the claims of hers that I disputed.

On one other note, a new member of has just recently moved to Stan's neighborhood, and promised to give him a pat on the back for me if he ever meets him. :-)

Posted by Lance Brown at 11:59 PM
May 08, 2003
My (many) e-zine and list subscriptions

(Note: Yes, there's been another two-day lag after I said I was getting back on the ball...but I don't have excuses this time. I've simply been plugging away at this enormous entry for two days, and I didn't want to back away from it and just post some filler news item. Hopefully you'll find it to have been worth the wait.)

Ever wondered where I get my news and information? Sure you have. Well, most of it comes to me via e-mail -- lots and lots of e-mail.

Following is a partial list of the e-mail update lists I'm subscribed to, with comments, descriptions, and sign-up info. I don't read all of these e-mails all the time -- I'm pretty sure that would be impossible, but I do my best to keep up with them as much as I can. They are listed in no particular order...maybe I'll prioritize or categorize them sometime if I can. Also, believe it or not, this list is incomplete. I'm going to make this a permanent link on the left somewhere, so feel free to check back and see if there are any changes or additions. Enjoy!

Small Government News -- Updates from Carla Howell, former candidate for U.S. Senate (2000) and Governor (2002) and Michael Cloud, 2002 candidate for Senate in Massachusetts, my birthplace. They were also behind the 2002 Small Government Act, a ballot initiative to end the income tax in Mass., which surprised everyone by almost passing, with 45% of the vote.

FreedomWire-- Updates and commentaries from Harry Browne, Libertarian Party candidate for president in 1996 and 2000. Harry's commentaries are always intelligent, well-written, and all-around worthwhile.

The Liberty Committee -- Founded by U.S. Representative Ron Paul, a Republican who's the closest thing to a libertarian that we have in Congress, The Liberty Committee is dedicated to bringing freedom into Congress in any way it can. Updates are usually either action items or new commentaries or speeches from Ron Paul.'s monthly newsletter -- I've lavished praise on many times in the past, and I will surely do so in the future. They are a libertarian portal, with a vast wealth of resources, information, and links related to liberty, as well as a bunch of valuable services like e-mail lists, monthly giveaways and more. -- and just about everything they do -- kicks butt. There's a spot to subscribe in the middle column of their home page, a little ways down the page. almost ran aground a few months back, and was saved by the International Society for Individual Liberty, a group that kicks a fair amount of butt as well.

Freedom News Daily (from -- This is simply the best daily news e-zine I've ever seen. Good and bad news about freedom from all over the Internet, every day. I can't read it every day, because I bury myself in news stories and commentaries when I do, but even just scanning their headlines and summaries provides a major dose of awareness about news and ideas around the world. If I had to pick just one e-zine to keep getting, this would be the one, without question. If I could think of more superlatives and praise to heap on it I would, but for now let's move on. Hopefully you get the point.

Rational Review News Digest -- When was near the brink of disappearance, they laid everyone off and shut down many of their services, including Freedom News Daily, for a while. Tom Knapp and others from quickly picked up the ball and started the Rational Review News Digest. Freedom News Daily is back, but RRND continues. I haven't had a chance to compare the two, but you can check out the listings on the home page for each and see for yourself. I can say that RRND did a good job of filling the void left by FND during its downtime. You'd do well to sign up for either, or both.

Future of Freedom Foundation Updates -- FFF is a think tank of serious libertarian thinkers and researchers, led by Jacob Hornberger. They work to "advance the libertarian philosophy by providing an uncompromising moral and economic case for individual liberty, free markets, private property, and limited government." (<--from their mission statement) Serious, intelligent, and uncompromising are the hallmark characteristics of their work -- though they have taken to including links to libertarian-themed maybe they're not so serious all the time. Anything written by the principals of FFF is bound to be unflinching, passionate, and hard to refute.

Jacob Hornberger -- Mentioned above, Jacob used to send out non-FFF e-mails for a while. He was a contender for the LP presidential nomination in 2000, and for a long while he maintained a relentless pursuit of allegations of impropriety on the part of Harry Browne and his associates, particularly Perry Willis. He was eventually proven at least partly right (you can see the LP's news on that here and here, and can see many links about the whole controversy via this Google search, but he did some damage to his standing within the LP in the course of his pursuit. I tried to go to his home page,, where all his writings about his were collected, but as you'll see if you click that, it now redirects to an FFF page featuring his many FFF writings over the years. I don't know if he'll be sending out more updates to his personal list, and I can't see a way to sign up for them, but I guess I'm subscribed to his list if it still exists.

Steve Kubby/Pot-TV -- There's so much I could say about Steve Kubby. Former LP candidate for Governor in California. Medical marijuana refugee in Canada. Major rabble-rouser and revolutionary. Co-host of online show Pot-TV News/The Kubby Files. Personal friend of mine. That's just scratching the surface. Visit to see lots more about Steve and his wife Michele, and subscribe to his updates (down at the bottom of the page) if you want to see how someone fights the system, again and again, in a truly remarkable way.

Reason Express -- Published by Reason Online, an extension of Reason magazine, one of the most popular and reputable libertarian publications in the world. There's always something worthwhile in Reason Express.

Liberator Online -- The Advocates for Self-Government focus mostly on preaching to the converted -- trying to help libertarians become more effective communicators of libertarian ideas. Their e-mail update, the Liberator Online includes (among other things) "Ask Dr. Ruwart", a Q & A feature with Mary Ruwart, author of the fabulous Healing Our World), "Persuasion Power Points" by the above-mentioned Michael Cloud, plus all sorts of libertarian movement news and other goodies. They claim the Liberator is the world's largest-circulation libertarian e-mail newsletter, and with 56,000+ subscribers, they are probably right. (The Advocates also host the World's Smallest Political Quiz, a semi-famous short quiz which places people on a four-axis political "map". If you've never tried the quiz, you should.)

Libertarian Clips -- Another publication from the Advocates for Self-Government, Libertarian Clips is a weekly or daily update which lists stories from all over which feature the word "libertarian" in them. It's a neat service.

Freedom Page of The Week -- This update, which is pretty self-explanatory, was put out by It seems to have gone idle since's temporary shut-down of a few months ago, but hopefully it will rise again. You can check out the past editions at the link above, and apparently you can still subscribe to it, and join me in waiting with bated breath for its return.

Liberty Action of the Week -- This is another former service that was picked up by one of the laid-off editors there (Mary Lou Seymour), now under the rubric of Rational Review. It's pretty obvious what it can subscribe at the bottom of the page linked above. -- This liberal-leaning group sprouted up from the rubble of the Clinton impeachment hooha, and has grown into quite the massive e-force since. I'm not always (or even often) on the same page as them, but they are jammin' activists with increasing clout (claiming over 2 million (!) subscribers), so I stay tuned into what they are up to.

Ralph Nader/CitizenWorks -- I'd be surprised if Ralph Nader and I agree with each other on more than 50% of things, but he's a substantial anti-establishment force, and an expert rabble-rouser and organizer. There's a lot about Ralph Nader I like, and there's a lot I can learn from him. Plus, as you'll see as this list continues, I keep my eye on plenty of groups that aren't necessarily on my side.

NFRA Updates -- I couldn't tell you how I got on the National Federation of Republican Assemblies' e-mail updates list ("The Conservative Republican E-mail Newsletter"), and I can barely stand to read their e-mails, particularly now that GOP fever is sweeping the nation, but I poke my head in every now and then just to see what they're spreading. 9.5 times out of 10, it's stuff I want no part of.

ACLU Action Updates -- If you're conscious and over the age of 15 or so, you probably know who the ACLU is. Their action updates have been particularly important during the post-9/11 war on freedom. I've been subscribed to this list for almost 3 years now. You can sign up in the upper right corner of their home page.

LibertyWire -- Updates from the American Liberty Foundation. The ALF was founded by Harry Browne and Perry Willis, with the goal of marketing libertarian ideas through mass media -- primarily TV and radio. They raise money for individual ad campaigns on select issues. Their first foray was television ads about the 2nd Amendment and self-defense; those were followed up by radio ads on a similar theme, and more recently, radio ads against the war in Iraq. Their updates announce their campaigns as they come, and also feature frequent commentaries from Harry Browne and others in the ALF. You can sign up near the bottom of their home page.

Libertarian Party of California Updates -- These updates let me know of important California action items, LPC campaigns, etc.

Libertarian Party Updates-- The LP sends out a wide variety of items to their update list -- press releases, upcoming media appearances, fundraising appeals, action items -- basically this, that, and the other thing as relates to liberty on the national level. Which isn't meant to downplay the value of their updates -- I very much enjoy and would recommend them.

LPCampusActivist -- This is a moderated Yahoo Group list where college and high school Libertarian clubs share ideas, suggestions, and news about campus organizing. Philosophical and political discussion and bickering is kept to a minimum, so folks can focus on the actual mechanics of effective campus-based activism. Campus activism is near to my heart, and every now and then I blast out a nice beefy e-mail of tips and suggestions that I picked up from my experiences at UMass/Amherst. In between, I like to hear what everyone else is up to. I'll be spending a lot of time working with campus LP groups in the next few years-- much of my campaign will be focused on college campuses and helping out college clubs around the country.

Alliance for Separation of School and State -- This organization is dedicated to just what it sounds like -- breaking the ties between government and schooling. Personally, I find the idea of government being the primary provider of education not only nonsensical, but disturbing. Isn't that the kind of thing we would cite as evidence of a controlling dictatorship, like Saddam Hussein's or the former USSR? Seems so to me. The Alliance's founder Marshall Fritz has been having serious health problems, so communication from them has been less regular than it used to be, but I enjoy hearing from them when I do. You can sign up for their updates in the lower left of their home page. If you're down with their mission, also make sure to sign their "Proclamation for the Separation of School and State". You get a nice certificate if you do so. :-) I have mine hung up on the wall here in my office. Weekly News -- This is a jam-packed weekly update of news relating to, well, educational freedom. Homeschooling news, outrageous bureaucracy news, 'Net education news, etc. You can see the latest update here, and this link will pop-up an e-mail you can send to subscribe. News -- Updates from "the home for individualist feminism on the net." This ain't your mother's feminism -- it's better. ;-) There's a subscribe box down a bit on the right of the home page.

Joe Banister/Freedom Above Fortune -- Joe Banister is a former IRS cop, who was converted into a fervent opponent of the IRS through research he did while working there, and due to the treatment he received when he tried to engage his superiors about his discoveries. It's hard to explain in short form, but basically he concluded that the IRS was conducting itself in a way that seemed to conflict with the Constitution and the law, and thus his service was in conflict with his otah of office. He was rebuked for his efforts, and consequently resigned and devoted himself to exposing and confronting the agency he once loved and respected. There are lots of links on the side of the mailing list signup page where you can learn more about Joe and his efforts.

We The People -- I've talked about Bob Schulz a few times in the past -- he's the hardcorest of hardcore anti-IRS crusaders. Through the We The People foundation, he relentlessly seeks answers to a long list of questions concerning the constitutionality of the income tax. I can't get into it all here, but there's plenty of information on his site. His updates are great to get, if only to see how a remarkably bold person goes about challenging one of the most powerful agencies on the planet. Sign up here.

Arianna Huffington's Column -- You've probably heard of columnist/pundit/author Arianna Huffington. I don't always agree with her solutions, but I almost always agree with her critiques of politicians, and her columns are amusing and well-researched. She's probably my favorite syndicated columnist, and the only major one whose columns I subscribe to by e-mail.

Michael Moore's List -- If you don't know who Michael Moore is, you might want to check your pulse. Bowling for Columbine, Stupid White Men, TV Nation/The Awful Truth, Roger & Me -- sounding familiar now? Michael and I are often pretty far apart when it comes to issues and solutions, but I love rabble rousers -- and few people rouse the rabble as impactfully as Michael Moore.

Butterfly Gardeners Association -- I'm not really a big butterfly fanatic, though my appreciation of them has grown through my contact with Alan Moore and the BGA. I don't recall how I first came in contact with Alan, but I've been on his list for years now. It's not all about butterflies. Check out the site and see what you think. There's a link there to e-mail Alan and get on his list.

Nevada County Green Party's GoWeGo list -- I get along well with the Nevada County Green Party, even though a lot of folks would say I should consider them rivals. I do consider them competition, but not rivals. We've worked together in the past, and I've worked with individual Greens on almost every major local event I've been involved in in the past couple years, including the Funeral for the Bill of Rights, the Public Forum on Law Enforcement and the War on Terror. Their "GoWeGo" e-mail discussion list (named after a chant Ralph Nader coined in response to an audience saying "Go, Ralph, Go!") is one of Nevada County's best forums for activism news, both local and national.

Peace Center of Nevada County list -- See above, more or less...except that Utah Phillips is a founder and major player in the Peace Center. Their list, activities, and crowd are frequently in concert with the local Greens, but they're distinct organizations with different leadership.

The Week Online from DRCNet -- Put simply, the best drug law reform e-newsletter I've seen. I've been getting it for years. Subscribe here.

NRDC's Earth Action -- I don't always agree with the Natural Resources Defense Council's urges for action, but as I've mentioned, that's not always a prerequisite for me when it comes to e-mail subscriptions.

Libertarians for Peace lists -- Libs4Peace is the anti-war, non-interventionist conscience of the Libertarian Party. It's not an official LP group -- just a group of Libertarians (myself included) focused on making sure the LP strictly adheres to its principles in regard to war and defense policy. They have two lists -- a regular discussion list and an organizing list. There's a link at the top of their home page to the listserve signup info.

The Lighthouse - This weekly newsletter from the Independent Institute contains a few good stories about current events from a libertarian perspective, plus information about their excellent events and activities. You can subscribe from the Institute's home page, or The Lighthouse's subscribe page.

Self Improvement Newsletter from -- Nothing political here, just self-help tips, inspirational quotes, book and product reviews, and the like. offers a number of e-mail lists, which you can choose from here.

TruthOut -- I've talked about TruthOut before -- they serve up a healthy handful of dissident commentaries and news items that probably won't be on the nightly news. I just got on this list a few months ago, and I'll probably stay on it forever. I donated some money to them a while ago, and more recently signed up as a monthly pledger. Sign up here.

Burning Man updates -- Burning Man is an extraordinary annual event that takes place in the desert in northern Nevada for a week at the end of August. It's simply impossible to summarize properly, but let's say it's an experiment in temporary community based on self-expression and participation. There's nothing else quite like it on earth -- and that's an understatement. They send out e-mail updates weekly all year, leading up to the big week at the end of August. Check out the extensive web site here, and sign up for the e-mail updates here. Maybe I'll see you there!

GOP Team Leader -- I heard about the GOP Team Leader program a couple months ago when there was a semi-scandal due to team leaders submitting non-original letters to the editor, and I signed up so I can see what the Republicans are feeding their stalwart. Don't worry, I haven't been -- and won't be -- converted. File this one under the "know your enemy" column. And, for the sake of balance, I just signed up for...

Democratic National Committtee Updates -- See above. The more propaganda I'm aware of, the better!

E-The People's Newsletter -- E-ThePeople features political forums, as well as tools for starting petitions and writing letters to public officials. their e-newsletter provides an overview of what's going on at their site. To get their updates, sign up as a member.

NetPulse -- I just talked about NetPulse from PoliticsOnline in my last entry. Great stuff.

NorCal Libertarians -- This is an e-mail list for Libertarians in Northern California.

SacLPS -- This is the e-mail list of the Libertarian Party of Sacramento County, near-neighbors of mine.

IGreens -- IGreens is an individualist environmentalist news service based in the UK. You can sign up a little ways down their home page.

Act For Change -- This is an action items e-mail list published by Working Assets, the liberal-cause-supporting phone company. They got on my bad side when they urged folks to pressure the Green candidate for Senate in Minnesota to drop out of the 2002 race so he wouldn't "steal" Walter Mondale's votes and cause him to lose. I often disagree with their action items, but that one really ticked me off. You can get their Democrat-shilling updates by signing up. (It's free -- you don't need to sign up for the phone service.)

PSR Security Alerts -- PSR is Physicians for Social Responsibility, a coalition of health professionals looking to combat nuclear proliferation and other manifestations of violence, in the name of protecting human life. Their site breaks down by topic, and I'm signed up for their alerts pertaining to national security issues. You can sign up here.

Human Rights Actions from Amnesty International -- Pretty self-explanatory. You can sign up here.

I'll continue to revise and extend this entry as I am reminded of other lists that I'm on. I know there are more, but not surprisingly it's hard for me to remember them all of the top of my head.

Posted by Lance Brown at 03:21 AM
May 05, 2003

I posted a couple days ago saying I was getting back into the blogging swing of things...then had a two day lapse in posting. I have some good excuses, though, which I've prepared in list format, to make them look more important (don't worry, there's also something useful in this post, after the excuse list):

1. The other day, I started writing up a post about the recent ruling on the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, and it developed into a long piece about "bipartisan", and how that's code for "really bad for the country". I didn't get it finished, and it drew late so I saved it to finish sometime soon.

2. The next day (yesterday), I hurt my back -- creamed it really -- while doing some major outside spring cleaning, and didn't get a whole lot done at all that night. That carried over into today, with me resting a lot and being kind and therapeutic toward my back. (It's back is feeling much better.)

3. Today my new notebook computer showed up via UPS, and I've spent the past many hours getting it set up with my software and Windows Updated and such. Good and necessary stuff, but time-consuming.

So there you have it. I also caught up reading's NetPulse e-zine, which is a killer resource for anyone interested in online campaigning -- what works, what doesn't, and what's being used by who, and to what effect. It's chock full of news and resources about e-campaigning...if you run a campaign and want it to be 21st-century-compatible, you'd be foolish not to sign up for NetPulse, which you can do on PoliticsOnline's home page, or at the NetPulse sub-area. Those folks have so much to offer relating to online campaigning that it's almost too much.

Posted by Lance Brown at 11:59 PM
May 02, 2003
William Bennett, the Gambling Moralizer

I've had a number of distractions keeping me from posting new entries-- I've got a dumpster rented for the week and am doing some dramatic spring cleaning; my mother has come to visit from Massachusetts and I've been preparing for that; and then when I was finally ready to get going again, my blog software wouldn't let me in because something broke when my web host installed an upgrade of some sort.

All that's mostly in the past now (though the dumpster's here for two more days, and my mom's here 'til the 19th), and I'll try to get back in the swing of things. In that spirit, here's an article about William Bennett, the U.S.'s top public moralizer. Apparently, Mr. We-Must-Be-Better-People has a major gambling itch, and he scratches it with much gusto, dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars on his habit. In fact, the Washington Monthly article claims he has lost a total of 8 million dollars to his diversion of choice.

From the article:

Bennett says he has made no secret of his gambling. "I've gambled all my life and it's never been a moral issue with me. I liked church bingo when I was growing up. I've been a poker player."

It's never been a moral issue with him...but I'm sure there's at least a few people who would disagree, and strongly.

The article again:

Heavy gambling, like drug use, can lead to divorce, domestic violence, child abuse, and bankruptcy. According to a 1998 study commissioned by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, residents within 50 miles of a casino are twice as likely to be classified as "problem" or "pathological" gamblers than those who live further away.

I'm no big moralizer. I do believe that people should do good, and I do think there are ways to live badly and screw up one's life, and that it's generally better to avoid going down that path, but I sure don't make a living urging and forcing people to do so. Bill Bennett does, though -- from being a hard line Drug Czar, to implementing character education in schools, to writing book after book about virtue, to starting foundations and doing speaking appearances. And it strikes me as ironic at best -- hypocritical at worst -- that Mr. Morality whiles away the hours at the big-money slot machines.

At the least, it'd be nice if he'd apply his own abuse standard to others:

"I play fairly high stakes. I adhere to the law. I don't play the 'milk money.' I don't put my family at risk, and I don't owe anyone anything."

If we ended the drug war, there would be millions of currently-criminal people who would be able to offer the same reasonable-sounding justification for their own less-than-productive habits.

Or maybe he could try applying this standard:

When reminded of studies that link heavy gambling to divorce, bankruptcy, domestic abuse, and other family problems he has widely decried, Bennett compared the situation to alcohol.

"I view it as drinking," Bennett says. "If you can't handle it, don't do it."

Wow, imagine that! People making their own decisions about whether they can handle their hobbies/habits responsibly. I guess if we were all as upright as William Bennett, we wouldn't need all these laws to make us become good people. But we're for now we'll just have to keep looking to moral paragons like Bennett to help keep us on the straight and narrow. Maybe we can figure out a new Czar job he can have. Or at least we could get him a long-term suite at the Bellagio. After all, he's given us so much -- and by "us" I mean, of course, the gambling industry.

Here's another story about this from MSNBC.

Posted by Lance Brown at 11:59 PM