I come from Massachusetts, the heart of the Democratic Party in many ways. Home of the Kennedys -- and hardly a day goes by there when some reminder of that fact doesn't come up. My mother is a Democrat -- a Massachusetts Kennedy Democrat. That's a special breed of Democrat -- one who holds onto the romantic vision of JFK and RFK, and the whole Kennedy feeling, and wraps that around their view of the Democratic Party, then tops it off with pride in being from the veritable bastion of Kennedy Democraticism, Massachusetts.
That's what I was raised under. I supported Jimmy Carter in the 1980 election, when practically no one supported Jimmy Carter. I didn't really know why -- I was just a kid -- but I supported him by default. I remember getting laughed at in school when I expressed hope that he would win.
But there was more to it than being raised to identify with the party -- in fact, that was the smaller half of it. What's more important is that I was raised to identify with the party's values, as perceived by my mother. They were: helping people, especially the poor; representing the 'working man' and the 'little guy', and women's rights; fighting the Republicans, who served the rich; and taking care of those who couldn't take care of themselves. That's what my mom thought was important, and still does, and that's why she supported the Democratic Party, and still does.
I absorbed a lot of that. I grew up living within most of those interest groups -- we were generally poor, my mom was a working single mother of three, and I lived with three women (two sisters and my mom). And with as little money as we had, my mother "adopted" a really poor family in Mississippi, sending them a little money and care packages each month. She worked anywhere from 1 to 3 jobs at a time throughout my upbringing, and we knew well that every week was a struggle to make ends meet. In many ways, we were deep in the heart of the target market of the Democratic Party.
All that I absorbed then is still with me -- all of it except the Democratic Party. I still believe that the poor and the disadvantaged and the helpless and women and minorities and workers and anyone else holding onto the short end of whatever stick they've got should be represented, defended, helped, respected, and supported. I know what it's like to be poor (I know it all too well), and I know what it's like to work for too little money at a lame job, and to be unemployed, and to live below an acceptable level. And I know the struggle is hard -- I know all about it. I've spent most of my life in one or another of the many groups that Democrats and "progressives" continually insist we all must help.
All this adds up to make me an unusual Libertarian, because I don't scorn liberals. I identify with them. I care about almost everything they care about. I could be (and have been) called a "bleeding heart". Right now, I'm advertising to greens via Google AdWords, because I believe that my vision of the future is very similar to theirs.
Libertarians who are reading this might be pretty worried by now, but I can explain. First, let me distinguish between liberals and statist/socialists, in my usage. To me, liberals are people who care about the things and people I've been talking about. I left out the environment (because my mom wasn't huge on that issue), but that should be added too. They want those things and people protected, supported, etc. Statists are folks who believe that government should be the main means of accomplishing most anything, and socialists are people who envision a commune-like setup (enforced benevolently by government), where everyone gets an essentially equal ration of what everyone (altogether) has.
Statists and socialists are problematic -- the former moreso than the latter. But I'm fine with liberals. People on "the left" can be one, two, or all three of those things, but they aren't all necessarily intertwined.
For most people, it's about the end, not the means. To most people the means is, well, just a means to an end. They just want the end -- as quickly and cheaply as possible, please.
And there's the rub. There lies the meeting place between me (and other Libertarians) and liberals -- not to mention moderates, and many others in this country (because I think most people care about the people and things I've been talking about here).
Libertarianism -- the view of an America full of free individuals -- is the means that will deliver the end that most people envision. My vision includes help for the poor and disadvantaged. My vision is a world where people are not discriminated based on race, or sex, or anything else but their humanity and their character. My vision is one where the environment, and wildlife, are nurtured and protected. It's a vision where workers get paid a living wage, and where opportunity is ripe for the picking, and jobs are prevalent. On top of that, it's a vision of a world that's virtually crime and terrorism-free, and where the "peace for all time" that John F. Kennedy spoke of can begin to take root.
Libertarianism is the cheapest and quickest means to achieve that end, and that fact doesn't get discussed nearly enough. This is at least in part due to the fact that the Libertarian Party and the libertarian movement grew out of the conservative movement, and the majority of libertarians are probably reformed conservatives. So they've grown up despising liberals, and you can read many a libertarian screed attacking that group.
I don't attack liberals, though. I'll go after Democrats, or statists, or socialists, and those in the Greens who align with those three groups, but I consider liberals to be my political kin in many ways. I want most of the same ultimate results that they want. I just know that we're never going to get there as long as we continue to rely on government to bring us there.
It astonishes me that my liberal friends fail to see that, since almost all the liberals I know are wildly disgusted with our political system and our government, but that remains as the major difference between me and so many Greens and Democrats I talk to. They and I both see a similar goal, a similar desired result. They want to mandate it, or make it "free", or achieve the goal through regulation. In other words, they want government to do the job.
To me, it's so glaringly obvious that government is the wrong means to almost every end we desire -- there are 1000 news stories a day with evidence of that fact -- that I wouldn't think of entrusting any job I consider important to its care. Most of my friends seem to recognize that as well, in large part -- but they just can't believe in or envision a world where this or that problem would be solved without government's help.
Painting that picture -- clearly, vividly, and credibly -- is absolutely essential for Libertarians, if we want to achieve victory in America. It is far and away our biggest hurdle, and our most pressing challenge. Our proposed means are correct, I'm convinced of that -- and if you ask around, the most positive thing people say about libertarians is "I respect their principled stands", or something like that. Most of our infrastructure is in place, and we have roots and foundations across the country. Our ideas are good, our public awareness efforts are good, and more and more we are included in the political family of America. But our efforts at expressing a clear, thorough, positive, convincing vision of America -- our efforts at painting a picture of the peaceful near-paradise that most of us actually do envision -- have not been sufficient to the task.
I plan to do my part to change that, and I hope that others will follow my example, and the example of other people in the movement who see the same problem I do and are working to solve it. I think the transformation is underway, and it should be encouraged and fostered. We don't need to sacrifice our principles in order to create a persuasive vision. (If we do, then we have a much bigger problem on our hands).
The good news is that projecting that vision is the only essential problem left for us to solve. The bad news is that it is essential that we solve it. I don't expect that I, or any other Libertarian, will be elected president until we do.
As much as it may seem like I am dangerously over-diversified in my committment to all the projects I started and maintain, behind the scenes things are looking pretty good, in terms of successfully managing it all. And much of that is thanks to blog software.
Which should provide some cushion to the blow when I say that I started another weblog. It's similar in spirit to E-Actions for Freedom, in that it's another way for me to spread the word about things I see, but the content and style are totally different.
Announcing The Little Brown Reader -- a rolling catalog of the articles and web sites of significance that I've been checking out. I don't know what's going to come of it, but I think it will ultimately make things easier for me, strangely enough. My desktop is often wildly overloaded with web pages, many sitting waiting for me to post something about them-- or more commonly, waiting for me to decide if, how, where and what I'm going to post about them.
So The Little Brown Reader will serve four main purposes: 1. To build a page/site/archive of interesting items about a variety of issues. 2. To let me "dispose" of worthwhile items without having to end up writing an essay about them. 3. To provide people a look at what all I'm consuming in terms of information. 4. To store items (for me), for possible later reference or commentary.
I don't think I'd be looking at things so rosily if I hadn't finally figured out how to make "Bookmarklets" work in my MovableType software. I just got them working last night, and now I have them set up for almost all my blogs. What it means is that if I want to post an entry about a web page, now I just right-click on the page, and select which blog I want to post to. Then a pop-up window comes up with a titled link to that page sitting ready in a mini new entry form. I post whatever I want to say, click save, and there it is. Then I close that window and move on. Prior to this, posting an entry has been a much more inconvenient task. It was still handy in the grand scheme of things, but I can't even begin to estimate how much faster and easier these Bookmarklets make it.
The other big hurdle for me has been in gathering collaborators, and like-minded folks, and having easy ways to involve them, and keep them updated, etc. Group blogs and the e-mail notification function provide the boost in those areas...PNAC.info is a testament to that, and it should work well for StopCarnivore.org, among others.
The third big hurdle has been information management problems. I multitask like there's no tomorrow -- it's just my workstyle, I think -- and it's easy, indeed common, for me to get lost and/or buried while doing so. MovableType allows me to post drafts for finishing later, and lets me set up release valves like E-Actions for Freedom and The Little Brown Reader.
Many of my sites involve (in part) disseminating news and opinions about a select group of issues. In the past, information overload and lack of these new innovations made it hard to keep things flowing on all the different sites. I just wasn't able to keep up with them all. Now, I feel like I'm just on the cusp of getting a handle on it all. There's a lot more I need to do to get all the way there, but things are most definitely looking up.
This is all just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the web presence I plan to build over time, but it's surely a threshold moment in the evolution of it all.
Oh, I almost forgot that some of my glee is because I discovered a plugin that creates an easy "E-mail this entry" form on individual entry pages. It should go without saying how sweet that is -- I wish I had it up months ago.
I appeared again tonight as one of the anchors on the local cable access news, Nevada County News Hour. It's pretty cool -- my role on the show has evolved to where I'm basically the Libertarian pundit, and the main host brings me on for shows where he thinks there are big political or philosophical issues to be discussed. The way it works is that there is one main guy, Eric Tomb, and he rotates co-hosts, usually having two other people make up a panel of hosts. That goes for a half hour or more, and then usually Eric interviews another guest or two one-on-one.
Generally, they discuss local news items and the whos, whats, and wheres of it all, but when Eric has me on (once a month or so), we tend to end up talking political philosophy more often than not, and I get a pretty thorough opportunity to offer the libertarian perspective on a given issue, or a few. Eric is a thoughtful and knowledgeable guy, so he's a really good person to go back and forth with on various things.
The only problem with it, I suppose, is that we end up talking very little about the local news. ;-) This week, one issue ate up the whole half hour like it was genetically modified tomatoes. Actually, it was genetically modified tomatoes, and other Genetically Modified Organisms, that we mostly talked about, because there was a big agricultural expo/world convention thing in Sacramento recently, and the other co-host Richard Stockton had gone to it. There were big protests there, because people were concerned that this expo was going to lead to the weakening of restrictions on GMOs, and also I think there was a bit of anti-WTO flavor to it, because this was a meeting of the biggest of the big in world agriculture, and lots of world government folks.
We started talking about that, and then went to talking about genetically modified organisms and the issues around it, and the WTO and similar organizations, and then after a bit Richard started asking questions about libertarianism in general. He tripped me up a little, but all in all it went well. The Secretary of the NCLP, who usually tapes the show for me, said she thought this show was probably the best one yet. :-)
I'll have the video up on the site before too long. Sometime soon I'm going to do a video-capturing marathon, and make a library of video clips. I have quite a lot of various footage that will help people get a better feel for what I'm like "live".
A random collection of updates and notes:
I talked with George Bryant, the father of the "Homeschooling standoff in Waltham" family, about what people can do to help their cause. He says that people have been swamping the offices of the Department of Social Services and the Superintendent of Schools, and that it does appear to have had some effect. The DSS have said (and written) to him that they do not plan to seek removal of the children. Apparently, the DSS only got involved in this at the behest of the school district, after they filed a complaint. George says that the best thing to do now would probably be to contact the Mayor of Waltham, who has some authority over the School Board, and who could potentially be persuaded to pressure them to stand down, and leave the Bryants alone.
Another interesting thing George told me is that the court refused to give them a jury trial in the dispute over their children, claiming that in Juvenile Court jury trials are only held for serious and violent crimes, and that there was no precedent for having a jury trial in a trial such as theirs. Which is weird, because the 6th and 7th Amendments appear to say that both the accused in criminal trials, and the participants in "Suits at common law" have the right to trial by jury.
I've posted a "Help the Bryants" action item over at E-Actions for Freedom, with the contact info for the Mayor and the local paper there.
Late addition: Here's a recent article about the national firestorm that has erupted over this case.
Also, I added a significant update to the story about Stan Pike and his battle with his local Historical Preservation Commission. The situation has been resolved, and I posted a couple news articles about it. I also posted my response to a comment about the story that was posted at my "Contact Me" page. And by strange coincidence, I recently met someone who just moved into Stan's neighborhood, and I added a note about that too. The fully updated post is here.
I'm announcing tonight to the LPCampusActivist e-mail list that I am offering free weblogs to any libertarian campus activist out there, hosted at CampusLP.org. With the base blog software set up there, adding new blogs amounts to just a few clicks and a couple other steps. I'm considering upgarding the free site hosting software that's installed there -- the current software is freeware, and it's pretty weak. There's a really robust program called HomeFree, which costs $299 (discounted because I have a friend with a coupon). I want to see if there's much demand for something like that, and if any campus groups would be willing to kick in for some of the cost, before I go ahead with it. With the old setup, only a large handful of clubs took me up on the offer, but there were also a lot less clubs on the list back then. I've been mulling over the HomeFree upgrade for a long time now, but 300 bucks is a significant outlay.
The free blogs are a go either way, though. And hopefully we can put together a good group blog for the front page, which I've tentatively named Campus Freedom Patrol.
This came up on the LPCampusActivist list, and I think it's funny. It came as a comment on a discussion about whether there's a difference between Democrats and Republicans. I haven't had a chance to research it, so I'll just include it as it was posted:
To paraphrase a great quote from former US Senator Malcolm Wallop, Republican from WY: 'if the Democrats introduced a bill to burn down the Congress, Whitehouse and Supreme Court all in one day, the Republicans would introduce a compromise bill to do it over the course of three days'
If you follow my site PNAC.info, you probably noticed a long stoppage of new entries there. Well, it's been over for a while, in part thanks to David Lynch (not the director, as far as I know), who kept poking me with e-mails begging me to get back on the ball with it. I had gotten away from it during my mother's long visit, and then got swept into a mass influx of new members at PeoplesForum.com before I was able to get back to it. David was very persistent in his urgings for new content there, and it's to his credit that he was. New articles have been flowing at PNAC.info for a while now, and I've got a big pile of other ones waiting in the wings.
If I can take a moment to pat myself on the back, I think the editorial selection and commentary on PNAC.info has made it into a very credible resource on neoconservativism and the Project for the New American Century, and the ramifications of their policy agenda. I read a LOT of articles that are relevant to that issue, and a great deal of them never make it onto that site because they are too overtly left-wing, or anti-Bush, or otherwise slanted or tainted. On the occasions that I've posted less-objective materials, I've generally been careful to note why I felt it worthwhile to include a slanted article. But the real measure is how many articles I've turned down -- I'd say at least 3 out of every 4, and maybe more like 7 out of every 8. And I think the result has been the formation of one of the most rational and mainstream-friendly (in content, if not in form) sources of information on this topic on the Internet. The response -- in site traffic, in offers to help, and in letters of support -- has been really great.
And I want to thank everyone who has been helping this site's rating on the Top 25 Libertarian Sites page. It's working -- the site is moving right on up the ratings, likely to reach #13 by tomorrow, and well on the way to being in the top 10, possibly as soon as next month. The climb from there to #1 is a much steeper one than what it's been so far, but I'm confident that we will arrive there eventually. It's likely we'll do so soon enough so that the site will spend a few years at that position, making countless good impressions on Libertarians everywhere before 2008. I'm sure there's already some folks who have had the "Huh? Who's this guy?" reaction that I'm trying to spread around. (It's the only reaction I can really hope for upon first impression at this point, I think. It's not a bad one.)
And lastly for now, I bought 15,000 text ad impressions at the EatonWeb portal, a major portal site for weblogs. It's not as wild as you might think -- it was $5.25. Just a test run. It has barely started, so it's too early to say if it's paying off or not.
We turn now to a new chapter in the Get Off Your Butt Chronicles. An ironic one, since it's centered around things you can do without any posterior movement whatsoever.
Meet E-Actions for Freedom, a new weblog here at this site, where I will post action items -- lots of them. Say goodbye to your "But I don't know what to do!" Gone are your concerns about what to do with the copious amount of money you've been wanting to donate to freedom organizations. Never again must you end your weeks feeling guilty for not having written to your Congressperson enough.
E-Actions for Freedom is just an infant site at this point, but I think it will be growing tall and mighty pretty quickly. In some ways, it actually makes things easier for me, in that it provides a simple outlet for some of my e-mail flow. I don't have to struggle with who or what lists to forward things to, or whether to mention it here. I'll just post every action item that I deem worthy over there. I'll also be making up a lot of my own actions, as I am wont to do. I suspect that this is the start of something potentially big. If my estimates are right, there will be a couple hundred actions up there within the next few weeks probably.
There's a subscribe box there, right where it is on this page, but it's for those updates. That will be a separate e-mail list, which you're welcome (indeed, invited) to sign up for. I've got to make some changes to clarify the two different blogs, but other than that, it's off to a good start. There are three worthwhile actions posted there so far. Jump in, and tell your friends!
When I posted about the Bryant family's homeschooling showdown the other day, I couldn't get into detail about why I was so proud of them at the time. Now, as often happens, someone else has said it for me. David Limbaugh's editorial in the Washington Times sums it up pretty well. It's about control, among other things.
I particularly like his opening paragraph:
Given the poor academic track record of public education in many areas of this country, you would think the government and education establishment would be a little less arrogant about superimposing their will on home-schooling families who prefer to opt out of their system. But you would be wrong.
The Bryants were on the O'Reilly Factor a couple of nights ago. They did pretty well, and Bill was pretty friendly to them, which he tends to be when he supports the guest's cause.
Completely unrelated to that is Suppose You Wanted to Have a Permanent War, by Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute. I'll let him explain:
I’ll concede that having a permanent war might seem an odd thing to want, but let’s put aside the “why” question for the time being, accepting that you wouldn’t want it unless you stood to gain something important from it. If, however, for reasons you found adequate, you did want to have a permanent war, what would you need in order to make such a policy viable in a democratic society such as the United States?
First, you would need that society to have a dominant ideology--a widely shared belief system about social and political relations--within which having a permanent war seems to be a desirable policy, given the ideology’s own content and the pertinent facts accepted by its adherents. Something like American jingo-patriotism cum anti-communism might turn the trick. It worked pretty well during the nearly half century of the Cold War. The beauty of anti-communism as a covering ideology was that it could serve to justify a wide variety of politically expedient actions both here and abroad. The Commies, you’ll recall, were everywhere: not just in Moscow and Sevastopol, but maybe in Minneapolis and San Francisco. We had to stay alert; we could never let down our guard, anywhere.
Second, you would need periodic crises, because without them the public becomes complaisant, unafraid, and hence unwilling to bear the heavy burdens that they must bear if the government is to carry on a permanent war. As Senator Arthur Vandenberg told Harry Truman in 1947 at the outset of the Cold War, gaining public support for a perpetual global campaign requires that the government “scare hell out of the American people.” Each crisis piques the people’s insecurities and renders them once again disposed to pay the designated price, whether it takes the form of their treasure, their liberties, or their young men’s blood. Something like the (alleged) missile gap, the (alleged) Gulf of Tonkin attacks on U.S. naval vessels, or the (actual!) hostage-taking at the U.S. embassy in Tehran will do nicely, at least for a while. Crises by their very nature eventually recede, and new ones must come along--or be made to come along--to serve the current need.
Third, you would need some politically powerful groups whose members stand to gain substantially from a permanent war in terms of achieving their urgent personal and group objectives. Call me crass, but I’ve noticed that few people will stay engaged for long unless there’s “something in it for them.”
In case you couldn't guess, there's another more recent war that he's leading up to talking about.Read the whole thing. It's worth it, even though it describes a fairly bleak picture. (Well, ok, very bleak.) But, "Know Your Enemy" and all that. Also know that social trends geopolitical trends can be reversed, and laws and leaders can be replaced. All is not lost -- not by a long shot.
I've been adding this site to blog directories and webrings, and gearing up for a round of requesting link trades with a bunch of liberty-related sites. The new rings and blog places are listed on the right in their respective categories. I'm also working on some other website and blog stuff, which I'll unveil here shortly. I've got about 5 or 6 entries on three different blogs in draft mode, too. My open browser situation is getting a little out of hand -- I've got about 50 windows open. I'll be staying up late over the weekend to try and clear my plate a little. So I can heap more stuff on it. :-)
E-ThePeople has been highlighting a discussion at their site about third parties in their weekly e-mail update, entitled IS THE TIME RIGHT FOR A THIRD PARTY TO EMERGE IN AMERICAN POLITICS TO THREATEN THE REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC STRONGHOLD?
The opening premise is this:
As neither major party is fulfilling its obligation to the American public, is the time right for a new party to emerge victorious over Republican and Democrat reign?
As more Americans become disenchanted over the lack of leadership and inadequate priorities set forth by the current political oligarchies on either side, I believe people eventually look for an alternative.
Perhaps such an alternative may NOT appear prior to the 2004 elections, but I would not rule out a new party with increased public support by the 2008 elections.
A revolution started this great country and a revolution may be required to maintain its greatness.
Obviously the topic was attractive to me, and I was originally planning on replying to one of the commentors who brought out that hopeful classic, "with the right charismatic candidate...". I started trying to think up a good way to say "Look at me!" without having it sound like that. ;-)
Then I came upon another commentator, who brought out an old canard that is much more classic, and much less hopeful: "Third parties always fail." Well that got my dander up, as they say, and so that's what I replied to. As it turned out, I think it turned into a good way to say "Look at me!", without really saying that at all. Though it was posted pretty late in the discussion, so it's not really getting seen too much.
Third Parties do *not* always fail
Glenn, your comment...
"A third party movements,whether the Peoples Party, the Socialist Party, Perot`s Reform Party, the Green Party have always failed in this society."
...is not true. First, third parties in the past have been successful. The various "progressive" parties in the late 19th-early 20th centuries managed to set the platform for most of the 20th Century. Virtually all of their platform planks became law in the decades after their attempt to gain electoral control had "failed".
While Perot's party has essentially collapsed, it can hardly be said to have failed either. It inspired a re-awakening in the "outsider" political movement, and a number of new parties and efforts have spawned from its ashes. At the very least, it gave millions in this country reason to believe that something different could be possible in our supposedly "fixed" system. As long as people still remember Ross Perot's '92 run for president, people know that it is possible to break through the two-party stranglehold. And knowing that is half the battle.
Then there are the Greens and Libertarians, neither of which has failed by any measure. Both are growing in influence and organization with each passing election. Libertarians were credited with "spoiling" the election of two Republican senators in 2002, and the Greens are widely blamed for throwing the 2000 election to Bush. That's not a sign of failing parties -- that's a sign of parties which are rising to challenge the political status quo. Just ask those two Republican Senators, and Al Gore, if they think the Greens and Libs have "failed".
The Libertarian Party is going to be the country's next "major party" -- it's just a matter of time. The two parties it's competing with are over a century old...of course the change isn't going to happen overnight. In just over 30 years, the LP has gone from a handful of folks sitting in a living room, to the only party in U.S. history that has had a presidential candidate on all 50 ballots for three elections in a row. That's not failure -- that's success. It has gone from 0 elected officials, to over 300 elected officials. It runs thousands of candidates, every election, often providing incumbents with the only competition on the ballot.
And it's not going to stop. It's going to keep growing, in spite of whatever challenges and roadblocks are thrown in front of it. It's not dependent on a celebrity champion, it's not fragile and easy to take over, and it's not going to give up.
Not to mention that the libertarian movement has, much like the "progressive" movement 100 years ago, had considerable influence on the direction of public policy in the time since it was formed.
I think declaring past third party movements to be "failures" is inaccurate, and to stamp that label on current third party efforts is not just inaccurate, but short-sighted and destructively pessimistic.
This whole idea of "It's got to happen NOW, everywhere!" is part of the training that the two parties have given us -- that solutions and changes in the U.S. can just take place through the waving of some sort of national magic wand. It doesn't work that way in public policy, and it doesn't work that way in electoral politics.
If you want third parties to succeed, then pick one and support it. (I recommend the Libertarian Party -- it's your best bet, by far.) If enough people support them, then they will succeed.
If you want them to fail, then simply support the other two parties.
All this "will they, won't they" talk is largely just a distraction from those real-world options.
Be well, Be free,
The Free View -- Weblog of a presidential candidate
That discussion and a number of Democrat-v-Republican presidential polls and newspaper articles that I've seen recently have acted like an alarm clock for me, reminding me that it's time to get serious about policing the media and the debates for third-party inclusion in Election 2004. I'm going to build up a storehouse of insta-letters for third-party supporters to deluge the media and debate sponsors with. The alternative party movement should be strong enough so that we can target violators one-by-one and "persuade" them through sheer force of numbers -- phone calls, faxes, visits to the front desk, protests, etc.
The numbers thing hasn't generally worked in the past, but it hasn't been done with much force or consistency, and it hasn't generally been very creative. I think the debate hosts -- generally universities -- are extremely susceptible to persuasion through public opinion. In my experience, universities hate embarassment, and will choose the least embarassing option when given a choice. For them to insist upon third party inclusion is honorable and shows integrity. For them to kowtow to the Bipartisans, suppress democracy and open debate, and help further tilt the playing field to the advantage of the dominant parties is reprehensible, shameful, and embarrassing. Or at least it should be...and I'm going to try and help make it so.
In case you're thinking, "Oh God, he's launching another spontaneous plan," don't worry. This one's not spontaneous...it's been brewing in me for the past two election cycles. If we play our cards right, and figure out some hardball ways to make the media and establishment change their ways, we could see an Election 2008 where all eligible candidates are covered relatively equally, and Bipartisan-only TV debates are a thing of the past.
Hey -- stranger things have happened. ;-)
So to kick off the season, I wrote in to Care2.com, about their Bipartisan-biased presidential poll.
Here's what I wrote:
I was very disappointed to see that your recent presidential campaign poll did not include third party candidates and alternative options -- or even a "none of the above" on the main poll.
The Libertarian Party has at least two declared candidates for president so far -- one of them, Gary Nolan, was a nationally-known radio talk show host, and is actively campaigning as we speak. Not including them in your poll helps reinforce the two party stranglehold on our political system, and it is damaging to our democratic process. The two parties have enough of an advantage in American politics...they don't need to have you helping them tip the scales further.
I ask that you make an effort in the future to provide voters with all of the available electoral options when conducting political polls.
You can write to them too, right here.
Within the next few weeks, I'll be launching a new site centered around the mission of achieving equitable third-party candidate inclusion in media coverage and candidate debates and forums. I'm thinking ThirdPartyAction.org (and ThirdPartyActionNetwork.org), and calling it the Third Party Action Network. What do you think? Got a better domain or organization name idea? Let me know soon if you do, because I'll be settling on these things in the next week or two.
(Uniting and strengthening America by providing appropriate tools required to intercept and obstruct terrorism) =
Patriot Act of 2001 Casts Wide Net
By Frank J. Murray
The Washington Times
Monday 16 June 2003
Long-sought details have begun to emerge from the Justice Department on how anti-terrorist provisions of the USA Patriot Act were applied in nonterror investigations, just as battle lines are being drawn on proposed new powers in a Patriot Act II.
Overall, the policy now allows evidence to be used for prosecuting common criminals even when obtained under extraordinary anti-terrorism powers and information-sharing between intelligence agencies and the FBI.
"We would use whatever tools are available to us, within reason, to prosecute violations of any law," Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra said in the wake of his department's massive report to Congress describing how the USA Patriot Act is being implemented.
The information was a response to doubts, not from outspoken civil liberties groups, but from Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican and the House Judiciary Committee chairman who publicly pushed for its speedy 337-79 House passage.
"We had something to do with encouraging Chairman Sensenbrenner to express our concerns," said Timothy Edgar, American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel. The ACLU spearheaded opposition to sections that could let the government obtain vast amounts of information that infringe on constitutional rights.
"It's clear that the problems of 9/11 were the result of not analyzing information we had already collected. Creating more hay to search through the haystack is not an effective way to find the needle," Mr. Edgar said in an interview.
(Uniting and Strengthening America) + (Providing Appropriate Tools Required To Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) =
Patriot Act Use Expands
By Dan Eggen
The Washington Post
Wednesday 21 May 2003
Laws Invoked Against Crimes Unrelated to Terror, Report Says
The Justice Department has used many of the anti-terrorism powers granted in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to pursue defendants for crimes unrelated to terrorism, including drug violations, credit card fraud and bank theft, according to a government accounting released yesterday.
In a 60-page report to the House Judiciary Committee, Justice officials also confirmed for the first time that nearly 50 defendants were secretly detained as material witnesses in connection with the investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks. The government has not previously characterized how many defendants had been held.
The report, issued in response to questions from House Judiciary Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) and ranking Democrat John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), provides new details about the federal government's domestic war on terrorism, which has largely been conducted in secret and has prompted complaints from civil liberties advocates and Muslim groups.
USA-PATRIOT Act =
Security and Liberty in Balance
The Chicago Tribune | Editorial
Monday 09 June 2003
In his testimony Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee, Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft displayed poor timing and tone-deafness to rising concerns about whether the delicate balance between national security and liberty is tipping in the wrong direction.
Three days earlier, Ashcroft's own inspector general had released a 239-page report highly critical of the Justice Department for overreaching in the handling of hundreds of immigrants who were detained for weeks and months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Ashcroft's response: He's asking for broader powers.
This is a long-ago interview I did with Help Net Security about the StopCarnivore.org website, back in its heyday. That project has been growing cobwebs for a while -- once the War on Freedom started, Congress and the Administration became impossible to reason with, and Carnivore became a small part of a much larger problem. My personal battle plan shifted to a broader type of attack -- more of a long-haul strategy to rollback the War on Freedom, rather than an effort to slap down one foolish and dangerous initiative.
Which isn't to say that there's nothing more I could be doing with StopCarnivore.org. There is, and I'm going to be switching it over to group blog mode, in my effort to bring all my active websites up to speed. For each of my projects, I have a list of supporters and enthusiasts, and I hope to marshal their resources more effectively.
I say all this in case you happen to visit StopCarnivore.org, and see how outdated it is. You can see the change in attitude I just described in the tone and content of the last entries there, in the months after 9/11.
This interview came before all that darkness, when Carnivore seemed like this scary new Big Brother tool, rather than just one tool in an expanding toolbox of such items. The original article is on their website, but I'm storing it here too for safe keeping.
Interview with Lance Brown, CEO of PeoplesForum.com
by HNS Staff - 2000.
Mr. Brown is also: President and CEO of PeoplesForum.com; CIO/Technology Supervisor of Dispute Solvers/Rent-a-Court, an online dispute resolution firm; Candidate for President of the U.S. in 2008. Already a veteran political activist at age 27, Mr. Brown plans a life of dedicated service to the causes of freedom.
How much time did it take you to open StopCarnivore.org?
I bought the domain name on July 17th, and had it hosted by that night. It took about 3 or 4 days to put the site together enough to be presentable. I was trying to launch it in time for last Monday's Congressional Hearings, and I did that. The first big traffic day was Monday the 21st. I have been updating and adding to the site daily since then.
The main focus of the site is Carnivore. What is the main problem with this system?
At an academic/political level, the biggest problem is that it blatantly violates the 4th Amendment to our Constitution. That amendment specifically requires searches of only a very limited and targeted scope, and Carnivore is a sweeping violation of it.
On an "average person" level, Carnivore is wrong because it gives far too much power and control to a very dangerous agency...one which has shown its disrespect for civil and human rights, not to mention privacy, on numerous occasions. Few Americans trust the FBI, and rightly so. Carnivore gives them, and through them, any Government Agency, the potential to control, limit, and interfere with electronic communications on a mass level.
And for those with full faith in Government, Carnivore is still a bad idea. Its super-invasive nature will drive criminals, and large numbers of innocent people to use encryption in greater and greater numbers. Those companies and citizens who fear for their privacy will simply relocate, digitally, to a place such as HavenCo.
Is Carnivore a next step of the ever-spoken-about Echelon network?
As I understand it (and I am not fully educated on Echelon), any talk about the specifics of Echelon are speculation at best. I see, and I think that the more cautious and/or paranoid of us see, that Carnivore seems eerily like a physical manifestation of Big Brother - the feared "evil twin" of Governement. Why else would a tool be developed which can scan all communications, unless that was its intended use?
The bottom line is that ISPs were supplying the FBI with this information before Carnivore. It's unneeded - which makes me wonder why it's here.
StopCarnivore.org has been featured on (among others) Free-Market.net's Freedom Home Page of The Week, Freedom Action of The Week and USA Today. How much exposure did those features give to the site?
It's hard to tell exactly how the word is getting around. I didn't get a single visitor from the USA Today column online, but I can't say what happened with all the readers of the paper edition. And the Free-Market.net awards are very new. they are just starting to draw people in. Free-Market.net is a very large network, and I was very proud to get their double honor. They reach a lot of important people in the freedom movement. Word is spreading more each day: by e-mail, through links, and more and more from the search engines.
As you noted, on Monday, July 24, 2000, the House Judiciary Subcommittee held a hearing to discuss Carnivore. What was the result?
Very little really. It prompted a lot of media attention to the issue, and motivated 28 Congresspeople to petition Janet Reno to suspend Carnivore, but she has refused to do so. The FBI did a fairly good job of downplaying the danger of Carnivore, but it seems likely that more hearings will ensue. There has been an "impartial" study of Carnivore commissioned by Janet Reno, and the ACLU and EPIC are still waiting on their Freedom of Information requests to see Carnivore's code. When eityher of those things occur, we will likely see more hearings. What will happen there depends on how much the public raises their voice between then and now.
If these privacy groups receive the Carnivore code, do you think it will be the original code or a "slightly lighter" version of it?
I don't think the FBI will release the code, if they can avoid it. They will use the claim that it will threaten their efforts to invade our privacy, which is true. I think asking for the code of Carnivore is another way of showing that it's so despicable, that they can't even show us the code. I think we will get the "impartial" Government study of Carnivore, and that will be about it. If we find out about the "guts" or Carnivore, I think it will be through a "leak," either at an ISP, within the FBI, or from hackers who find and dissect Carnivore on the network. Otherwise, we will just get the Government's "impartial" perspective.
To the latest findings, is Carnivore "on-line and working" on some Internet Service Providers?
Yes, the FBI testified before the Congress subcommittee that Carnivore has been used some 26 times since last year, with 16 of those uses being this year. It was implied, if not stated at those hearings, and later in Janet Reno's refusal to suspend the system, that it is currently in use. No word was given on where it is deployed. We hope to find that out on our own.
On the site you speak mainly about the American people because Carnivore affects mostly their lives. Do you think that the problem "can" extend to the rest of the world and by what pace?
Where the Internet is concerned, I think that the problems of the U.S. are automatically world problems. The U.S is home to most of the world's Internet users, data traffic, web sites, and 'Net companies. Very few world Internet users can go for long without interacting with a server in the U.S., and as soon as they do, they could become part of a Carnivore investigation.
The United Kingdom has problems with RIP bill. RIP and Carnivore have some similiar functions.
From what I understand, RIP is almost a replica of Carnivore, with the big difference being that the UK Government is not invoking it in secret, like the FBI did last year in the U.S. In many types of Internet policy, the U.K. has shown itself to be a sterner, more regulatory twin of the U.S. So RIP is not surprising...but I hope that the U.S. will lead the way to reversing the trend of Governmant invasion of the Internet.
What is your opinion regarding ideas of buliding parallel networks that will be based on user's anonimity and privacy? Is there always another side of the coin in fully anonymouse networks? (of course there is no full anonimity)
I would prefer that there were no need for counter-measures such as anonymous networks, parallel distribution, and the like. But what it shows is that the Government's attempts to "reign in" the Internet are bound to be subverted- the scale of which will be in proportion to their invasion. The more we feel like we are not secure in our "papers and effects" as the Constitution guarantees, the more we will do to protect that security, or to evade the invaders. The bad side of this is that these networks don't allow for copyright protection, and other lawful protections that government is responsible for. I think the government is encouraging the disgruntled and threatened to go hide out, and this is not a healthy relationship between Government and Citizens.
About the "Carnivore poll" - It's well-known that an on-line poll cannot be taken seriously, but the last time we checked 6% of the votes gave Carnivore a green signal. Are you satisfied with the results?
Like you said, an online poll only means so much. But, given the little public knowledge of Carnivore, I think it's encouraging to see such a near-total rejection of it. BTW, the percent has gone from 8% in favor to 6% since we put the link on our page. :)
Since the petition involves mainly the American people, do you think that the visitors from other countries that sign the petition will be taken as valid entries? Is the e-mail address the main way to check the validity of the signed message?
I think that all the entries will be taken as valid, at least by the petition form. It is up to the recipients whether they want to invalidate some signatures on the petition. My hope is that they will not question the validity of any of the signatures, and simply be led to realize that, regardless of exact numbers, there is a widespread and vocal negative reaction to Carnivore.
Regarding your StopCarnivore.org work, have you received any threats by e-mail, snail-mail or any other way?
No, I haven't recieved any threats - mostly just helpful comments, suggestions and critiques. Of course, the campaign is still quite young. :)
Were you contacted by the FBI?
Was your site visited by the US Governement?
According to our server logs, the site has been visited by people from a number of Government Agencies, including the Department of Justice, the Washington, D.C. Superior Court, and the Treasury Department, to name a few. And so far, the Marines are the only branch of military that hasn't seemed to visit yet. I just posted a fuller list of the Agencies that have stopped by on our home page.
What are your plans for the future? It stands in your info that you plan to run for president in 2008...
I plan on fighting for freedom for the rest of my life, until everyone is free from unprovoked force, or I die, whichever comes first. Part of that plan is running for President in 2008, a campaign which I began 6 years ago. I have a number of freedom-related projects in the works, including a Free School on the Internet, and web sites such as nomoredrugwar.com, fightthefeds.org, and no1040.org, an anti-tax site. These sites are still in development. Also, I just acquired stopechelon.org, and will begin a campaign against Carnivore's International twin when the time is right. Overall, I plan to provide opportunities for people to escape the restraints, both real and artificial, that our current way of life has created upon our freedom. We live very un-free lives, all of us, and that has got to change if we are going to move forward as a species.
I've been working on techy stuff lately. I've converted two of my other sites into weblogs -- CampusLP.org and the Nevada County Bill of Rights Defense Committee. I intend to make both of them group blogs, where multiple authors can add entries. Both sites were growing stagnant and stale, and in both cases the multiple author thing can work to the site's advantage, and take some of the pressure off me in terms of making them robust sites. I'm probably going to go whole hog, and convert the rest of my remaining sites to blogs too. I find the weblog setup to be a really good way to make a well-organized and nice-looking site, and to manage it and keep it updated with new content.
I created a new Yahoo Group, in hopes of relieving some of the building pressure on the LPCampusActivist e-mail list. The list is supposed to be for activism news and tips and questions, with issue debating being strongly discouraged. But every now and then a debate on some subject comes up, and it spirals into a big debate-fest pretty quickly, radically increasing the volume of the list. Libertarians are often criticized (from within, mostly) for being a "debating society", focusing too much on talking political theory and ethics, and not enough on the nitty gritty of political action. We are generally very easy to draw into a long discussion about almost any topic relating to politics or philosophy, and that has been openly discouraged on this activist list.
So I started LPCampusIssues, a separate list intended to be the place where people can debate issues, without distracting the CampusActivist list. Hopefully it'll work. I think the list has too little nitty gritty as it is, and it seems like the debating thing has been a distraction.
I've also been checking out BlogShares, which is a fantasy stock market of weblogs. It's mostly just a diversion, but it's pretty interesting. The system is very complex and robust...very much like a real stock market. They give you 500 fake dollars for signing up, and they also give blog owners 1000 shares of their blog's stock, which has been much to my advantage. My 1000 shares of PNAC.info were worth like $270,000. :-) It might get me site traffic or recognition at some point, but mostly it's just a fun game to play around with.
And I tried digging in and cleaning up the format of the e-mail updates for this blog, but it was over my head and what I did kept producing errors, so I gave up for now. I'll try again soon on that.
They honor activists who have completed one of their three criteria -- writing 3 letters to the editor with "libertarian" in them, giving three libertarian speeches to primarily non-libertarian audiences, or working 3 "Operation Politically Homeless" booths. It was that last that I did. The OPH booth is basically an information table where you encourage people to take the World's Smallest Political Quiz, and map them on a big chart -- the one you see when you take the quiz (which you should do, if you haven't).
I feel like a Junior Light of Liberty, however, because I really should have completed all three criteria. I had one speech, and one op-ed piece, but that's not enough. It's not like I wasn't keeping busy, but I wasn't doing those things enough, and I should have been.
Which is why my hat's off to Aaron Biterman, a young Libertarian firebrand of the finest kind, who I've cyber-known (and known of) for quite a while. He was one of a double-handful of folks who completed the Lights of Liberty Triathlon, doing three of each of the requisite things. My hat's even more off (I'll lay it on the ground or something) to Jim Lark, former chair of the LP. He's done the triathlon a few years running now.
I'll be completing the triathlon each year from here on out, and I'm inviting you to too. If you don't consider yourself a libertarian, you can play along anyway. Just do three of those things expounding whatever view it is you have (as long as it's not foul and hateful), and I'll send you a Light of Activism award. How's that for a deal?
3 letters. 3 talks about what's important to you. 3 tables at the street fair or something. It's not so much...maybe 24 hours worth of your time, if you have to work a lot on your letters and speeches. Over the course of the year, that's not a whole lot to ask for, in terms of trying to make the world a better place.
And if you can handle embracing the libertarian philosophy, you can get your name on a roll of honor page like me, and get a cool certficate and other stuff. It's a little geeky, I suppose, but geeky is cool now, right? ;-)
Either way, consider this another episode in the Get Off Your Butt Chronicles. Just presenting another option for y'all.
Stan Pike's going to have to step down. I've got new heroes of the week.
The Bryant family, a homeschooling family in Waltham, Mass. is refusing to have their children take the state's mandatory standardized evaluation test. Like, seriously refusing. The state claims custody (having been granted it in 2001 because the parents didn't submit an education plan for their kids), and is threatening to take the kids away.
From the article:
"There have been threats all along. Most families fall to that bullying by the state and the legal system," said George Bryant.
"But this has been a six-year battle between the Waltham Public Schools and our family over who is in control of the education of our children," Bryant continued. "In the end the law of this state will protect us."
The Bryant children have never attended public school.
Both sides agree that the children are in no way abused mentally, physically, sexually or emotionally, but legal custody of the children was taken from Kim and George Bryant in December 2001. The children will remain under the legal custody of DSS until their 16th birthdays.
I plan to try to call the Bryants and find out if there's anything outsiders can do to support them. I know some places that will spread the word widely if there's anything that can be done.
I don't have the wherewithal right now to go into detail about why I applaud these folks so heartily, but you can read Boston Public: The Case Against Schools and my Free School on The Internet intro to get an idea of how I feel about the capabilities of this country's school system.
There's a new blog directory in town, and it seems like a pretty good one. I've already received an interesting inquiry from someone who found the campaign site there, which I'll respond to soon. (I'm going to try to do a lot of catching up on questions that have been posted and sent in, in the coming week or so.)
Blogarama's setup provides two easy opportunities for you to help the campaign out a little (or a lot, depending on how popular their site ends up being).
One is super-easy: Their "What's Cool" listing is ranked based on what sites have generated the most click-throughs to their site, much like the Top 25 Libertarian Site rankings are -- but so far the competition at Blogarama isn't nearly as fierce. Just a couple days ago, the site was way down in the 2000's, with one click-through. Now, with 9 clicks, it's in the top 600. If each of you who get my e-mail updates clicked this link, it would propel me into the top 100 "Cool" blogs there, and from there it will only be a matter of time before The Free View is showing up on the first page of those listings.
Also, Blogarama allows people to post reviews of the listed weblogs, and this is where you could really give the site a boost. Post a short or long review of the site if you like, so when it's showing up in the "Cool" listings, people will know that it's not a fluke -- that Freedom2008.com really is cool. ;-)
There's a link to Blogarama in the new "Blog Places" list in the lower right column of the site, and a link to post a review in the right column near the Bloghop ratings icons, in case you want to take action on these items in the future.
In other updates, my presentation on the USA-PATRIOT Act for the local high school Government class went pretty well, all in all, and I should have the video of it ready to upload next week hopefully. I'll post comments and critique my performance then.
You may have heard that Total Information Awareness has been re-named Terrorism Information Awareness, so it's not a scary Big Brother project anymore. (Phew!) They got rid of that spooky eyeball-on-the-world logo a while ago, and now they've decided on a less scary name, so civil libertarians all around the world can breath a sigh of relief.
If my sarcasm isn't clear enough, maybe Mark Fiore's update to his brilliant first TIA animation will suffice. His Flash animations are consistently some of the cleverest political satire around, and I think this is the funniest one I've seen so far.
TIA Two (Cuddly!)
R. Lee Wrights, editor and writer for Liberty4All (and an editor of the excellent Rational Review News Digest), wrote a commentary recently which gets at the heart of one of the keys of the philosophy of freedom: choices. I've been working on an article on this same issue, though I've been thinking of it in terms of "decisions" instead of "choices". Same concept, really -- just a different measuring unit in that realm. I often find myself using the "decisions factor" when explaining to people why liberty is important, and why it's under threat.
I'm not going to get into my version of explaining this point now, because I want to develop it fully. I had most of it recorded on my digital voice recorder, which I use quite a lot to catch my thoughts, but it went missing about a couple weeks ago, and I've about resigned myself to it being lost for good. Along with about an hour-plus of various commentary bits, ideas, and to-do items. I'm surprised I lost it -- it had become pretty much inseparable from me, like my car keys or my glasses, but I guess it slipped away (fell out of my shirt pocket, I suspect) while I was out running errands or something.
Anyway, my "Decisions, Decisions" article is ripe for the writing...I just have to carve out some time for it. In the meantime, R. Lee's "Choices" covers a number of the same ideas. I'll probably approach it a little differently, but I like what he has to say. That's true for most of R.'s articles that I read. He puts a calm and reasoned face on his pieces generally -- writing more to convert the curious than to preach to the choir, which is what all libertarians need to seek to do. Because when prepared and delivered in a calm and rational manner, most libertarian arguments and solutions make sense to a lot of people, I've found.
This campaign blog elicited a brief passing mention in an article about blogging at The Dagley Dagley Daily, an apparently new weblog started by a woman with the curious name of Janet Dagley Dagley. She appears to have some previous journalistic experience writing for AIRSPACE, the "only quarterly journal in the United States created by and for independents working in public and community radio." The blog article is a draft version of a final article which is supposed to appear in that publication later this month...it's questionable whether that article will provide a link to the site, as the blog entry does.
It hasn't brought much traffic, but it's nice to see that my efforts to make this a notable campaign blog have earned some dividends. (Though in checking the Google search results for "campaign blog" and "campaign weblog", I can see I have some work to do in that respect.)
BTW, I was correct about that weekend festival eating up most of my activist time and energy this weekend...and I have the NCLP monthly meeting to attend to tonight. We're showing Rabbit-Proof Fence, a highly acclaimed (and apparently very libertarian-themed) movie about Australian anti-Aborigine "racial purity" policies in the 1930's. I haven't seen it yet, but every review I've heard so far has ranged from "It's really good!" to "It's really great!" -- so I'm looking forward to it.
Also on this week's activism schedule -- I'm giving a presentation on the "USA-PATRIOT Act" for a local high school Government class. It's going to be the basis for their final exam, no less! And it will be videotaped for the local cable access TV station. I should be able to get the video from it onto the site at some point in the future.
Somewhere in the midst of all this, I actually work a full-time for-pay job, believe it or not. I know people joke about how we're supposed to have flying cars and all sorts of futuristic conveniences by now, but I'd be happy if they'd just figure out how to get an extra hundred hours or so into a week. ;-)
I might not get a chance to post much in the next couple days. I'm going to be running a table for the Nevada County Libertarian Party for much of tomorrow and Sunday, at the Music That Matters medical marijuana benefit.
On a more personal note, my peahen (I call her PeaMama) had five chicks yesterday. They are all doing well, and they're completely adorable. Yes, that's right -- I have peacocks. Maybe I'll post a couple pictures tomorrow. I've actually got a lot of photos and mini-movies from recently that I have been meaning to put together in a gallery, and I might be able to get to that this weekend -- but my activist/thinking energy will mostly be devoted to preparing to make the most of tabling this weekend.
While I'm revealing personal details: It was about 90 degrees in my office today -- the beginning of a few months of that sort of thing. When people say "sunny California", they aren't kidding.
Have a good weekend!
This interview with James Moore, author of Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential, contains a lot of interesting tidbits and insights into the mind behind the amazing Bush Team. It pains me a little to call the team "amazing", because I feel that most of what they've done has not been good for our country, and much of it is downright harmful, but they are amazing, in the truest sense of the word. They are awesome, in the real meaning of that word. The author Moore puts it best, I think, when he responds to the idea that he actually admires Karl Rove. He says in effect, "It's not quite that I admire him -- it's more like awe."
While much of the country has been in a glossy shock over the threat of terrorism since 9-11, I've been in stuttering shock over what the Bush Administration has been able to get the country to gobble up like it was Thanksgiving dinner. Stuttering describes the shock, not me -- sometimes it sneaks in on me with a quick jab combination, and I get that sort of dark awe laced with fear or foreboding. Call it the Cloud of Orwell, if you will. Sometimes it has more of an Armageddon vibe to it. 6 of one, half dozen of the other really. Either vision is pretty damn ugly. You probably know the feeling I'm talking about. The feeling that it's gettin' bad, and it's gettin' worse. Many of the folks I know are gripped right up with it, passing through Hopelessness on their way to Doomsayerville. They left the awe phase behind long ago, and spend most of their time in half-dread, half-fear.
But I shake it off. You have to shake it off, if you want to be of use to the world. And Karl Rove is one of the big reasons why you have to shake it off. Because he's out there being the most powerful unelected man in the country, and he is good at it. He's amazing. He's masterful, and he's super-intelligent, and he's fantastic at his job -- and he's dangerous. And wrong. And he's President Bush's right-hand man.
We have to be vigilant, and smart, and super-aware and super-outspoken, and we have to outplay Karl Rove. Because he is playing major headgames with the country and the world: trying to lock us into perpetual war, with the side effect of indefinite suspension of the Constitution; and to put us on the road to empire -- a concept which has been so thoroughly debunked by thousands of years of history that it's not even funny.
Reduced to its simplest objective form, what he is doing is persuading people more effectively than those who disagree with him are. So those who disagree with him, if they wish to prevail, would be well put to get working on the potency of their persuasion. Translation: We've got some convincing to do, so smarten up!
Know the enemy. Know thyself. Know that if you and I and everyone who's pissed off (pardon my French -- or is it "pardon my freedom" now? Did they change that one?) don't start breaking out with some mass convincing quick-like, then that dark, Orwellian, perpetual war deal is really going to become the deal, and we'll be lucky if the history books look back on this phase in terms of decades. More likely it'll be in terms of generations. Like your kids, and their kids...that sort of thing.
But it is not over yet. It's not a done deal. And giving up hope is simply not an option. The way it works is, everytime you feel like losing hope, redouble your hope instead. Deciding there's no hope is like a self-inflicted death blow. It leaves you nowhere, with nothing. By definition it means you have nothing to hope for, and that's so horrible that I could double this rant just talking about it. I'll talk about hope instead.
Hope -- the expectation that something you think is good will actually occur -- is a very powerful thing. Broken down to its smallest component, it's the thing that motivates virtually all human action. You do something because you want a result. In a small way, everything little thing you do, you do because you hope that something will occur as a result. Something that you want. Whether it's moving your mouse to the left or getting married or taking a new job -- or taking political action. It's all driven by hope.
Max out your hope. Don't give up even a morsel of it. It's your choice whether you hope for a positive future or live in dread and fear of what you see ahead. It hasn't happened yet -- it's the future, after all -- so either vision you choose is pure imagination. Pick the positive future you want -- the best one you can imagine -- and live your life bringing the world to it. It's the best you can do. The other path -- wandering along toward a darker tomorrow -- is not an option. It's poison. Shake it off.
If you're already maxed out, both in hope and energy, like I am most of the time, then you need to figure out how to amplify your efforts. Squeeze more out of it. Increase efficiency and amplitude. Get creative. Get radical if you need to. I'm issuing this wake up call to myself as well. Reading about Karl Rove, and flipping through the rolodex of scary things this administration has done, makes for a potent combo. But all he is is a master at playing the game. He can be outplayed. It's just going to take a team effort. An awesome one.
(Pass this on to your hope-disabled friends. :-)
I'll put together a collection of the scary things, as well as the successes of the hope movement, in the near future. And I'm going to work on coming up with a cookbook of recipes for actions folks can do to rattle the cage.
Moti Silberstein wrote me an e-mail recently, saying:
Even if you win the 2008 nomination what will it help everyone? You are not going to win? Wouldn't it seem better to try to bring your local government under control or even your state. We need dedicated people but nationally as a Pres candidate is a waste of time and money?
It turns out that my long-winded reply didn't really answer what moti was trying to get at, and I may post more of our discussion tomorrow, but my repsonse ended up covering a lot of ground in terms of explaining myself and the campaign, including my thinking when I started it in 1994, and a bunch of other things.
Here's my reply:
At the very least, I think my campaign will help to advance the progress of the freedom movement. The LP is going to have a presidential nominee in 2008 whether I run or not -- I think I will be the best representative available for that position at that time. And the LP should have a presidential nominee, regardless of whether that person will win or not. It's the single best opportunity the party has to state its vision to the country at large. It also earns the party necessary (and justified) credibility in politics. The LP has had a presidential candidate on 50 ballots for three elections in a row -- no other third party in history has done that even twice in a row. That means something -- it means that the LP has historically unprecedented staying power as a national third party. And that matters, in terms of the respect the party gets from the media and other entities.
Changing a country this size -- and a government this size -- doesn't happen overnight. There are and will be short-term gains to be made, and there will also be long-term victories. I've decided to focus much of my energy toward long-term gains, and primarily at the national level. Everyone who cares has to focus on some thing or things to do to advance liberty in their own way, and one way I think I can add unique value to the movement is by dedicating a significant portion of my time, over a very long period of time, toward developing a presidential campaign that will shake the foundations of the modern political scene. I think most people who know me would say that I have many qualities that lend themselves well to potentially achieving that goal. I decided long ago that it was an achievable possibility, and I have allotted a great deal of time and energy in my life toward giving it a try. My view has long been that if I *am* capable of achieving that goal, and I didn't try, I'd be cheating myself -- and everyone who would benefit from being liberated from our corrupt and dysfunctional political system.
I reasoned that there must be a certain limited pool of people who could or would possibly be able to manage to break through in the necessarily-impactful way, and manage the situation well enough to get the job done if elected. I also reasoned that for each of those people, the odds of them successfully achieving that goal were astronomically low. Many people are resigned to the view that there will never be such a breakthrough opportunity, which gives an indication of how insurmountable-seeming a goal it is. Many of the folks who could be the president we need won't ever consider even trying, and many more who do try will never make it past the starting gate. Of those remaining, many will make a misstep, or have a weakness which renders them inoperative. And only a few, if any, of the people left will have the dedication or commitment to go through the entire trial by fire that getting elected (and serving as) President is.
Which I figured leaves America's chances of escaping the quicksand looking pretty bleak.
I determined that I was one of those people who could possibly do it, and decided that I was going to devote most of my life toward trying to be the one who didn't give up and didn't fail. I decided that almost ten years ago, and I am still on course. I still think I could be the one that successfully breaks through, and as long as I believe that is a possibility, I will work to pursue that goal.
While my broad focus is on that goal, my activities consist of a wide range of political and societal efforts on many different levels. I am Chairman of my county Libertarian Party group, and I spend a great deal of time working to advance liberty (and the party) locally. I have participated in over a hundred local events of that sort in the past few years -- from organizing multiple major public events, to tabling at street fairs, to attending other political party's meetings and Board of Supervisor's meetings and rallies, to appearing regularly on the local cable news, to holding a Candidate's Forum, and a Bill of Rights Essay Contest for high schoolers...I could go on -- a lot. In the past two years or so, I've been involved in a positive way with all but one of my county Supervisors (and the two who were defeated in 2002), the local DA, the police chiefs of all three cities, the county Sheriff, the head of the local CHP, the county librarian, Nevada City's mayor, the leadership of the local Greens, Republicans and Democrats, the Superintendent of Schools, both local radio stations and all local papers -- specifically, the Editor and Publisher at the major paper, the Editors of all the others, the News Director of one of the local radio stations and the Station Director at the other, and I'm on very good terms with the Director of the local community access TV station. I'm a certified broadcaster with the local community radio station, and a certified TV producer at the local cable station.
I'm involved with my state party as well -- I was a delegate at this year's state convention in fact -- and I have been involved with a wide range of efforts involving medical marijuana, which is very much a state-wide issue -- and I have worked closely with many of the most prominent people in that movement here, from Steve Kubby to Elvy Musikka, and many more. I'm helping the Recall Gray Davis effort, and I'm almost half-considering running for the job in the recall election. (Ballot access is relatively easy for the race, and there are likely to be many candidates, because it's not a one-per-party election. The winner doesn't need to get a majority of the votes, which means that someone could potentially win with less than 10% support.)
I also keep in touch with campus organizations, both locally and nationwide. I've attended at least 5 meetings of our (not directly libertarian) local campus action group this year, generally playing a primary role in the meetings. I was a major planner in their Books Not Bombs rally this March, at which I worked a table for my local LP, along with the Chairman of the party in the next county. It was there that I met the county's most prominent gun control advocates, with whom I am on very good terms now. I subscribe to the LPCampusActivist e-mail list, where I keep up on most of the libertarian groups around the country, and offer advice from my years of experience as a successful campus organizer when possible. In my upcoming road trip, I intend to make fostering local and campus efforts one of my primary focuses. I will help groups improve and advance their efforts in whatever way I can, and I will work with them to start new groups in unrepresented locations.
Not everything I do is overtly political though. For the past three years, I've lived on the grounds of a land stewardship project, and have worked hundreds of hours clearing the land for fire safety (and to help restore the pine tree population), building trails, and doing maintenance and cleanup work, while helping to pay off the mortgage on this protected property. I volunteered at the local radio station for a while, and helped produce a late-night music show there for a while too. I'm developing a project called the Free School on the Internet, which will aim to be a cost-free alternative for families who want to escape the public school system. I hope to have the school open and showing positive results before 2008. I am also setting my sights on running a series of job fairs for the homeless in the major cities around the country -- an idea I've had for a long time. Through my non-profit organization Future Solutions, I intend to create solutions to the problems that government is so often looked to to solve. There are a lot more projects on the list, but those two will be the likely first round. I plan to gradually phase out of my responsibilities (and pay) as CEO of PeoplesForum.com and into the role of Director of Future Solutions over the course of the rest of this year. I will seek foundation funding for my Free School project, and go from there. I am quite certain that I can obtain funding to further develop that project.
I have also created a number of websites dedicated to inspiring change or action in individuals in states and localities all over the globe, and many of them have done exactly that. I will continue to create more websites of that nature. I run CampusLP.org, which offers free websites to any campus libertarian club, and plan to launch CountyLP.org, which will be dedicated to information-sharing and coordination among the county libertarian groups around the country. One of my other websites Stopcarnivore.org has had hundreds of thousands of visitors from over 150 countries. One of my newest sites, PNAC.info, had almost 15,000 visits in its first month, and another site that I'm planning (coalitionoftheunwilling.net) has the potential to attract and affect millions of people.
All of which is to say that my presidential ambitions don't detract from my efforts to achieve short-term change, on every level, in a number of ways. I have "wasted" very little time or money in the past 9 years of running for president, and most of my plans for the next decades fit the same pattern. Very little of what I do is directly related to running for president -- but it's all part of becoming the presidential candidate I'll need to be. All that stuff (and enough more to bore you to tears) is my presidential campaign, in a way.
I acknowledged long ago that any non-bipartisan presidential candidate has the game stacked against them, and I concluded that my biggest asset (besides myself) was time. Time to develop a thorough and comprehensive strategy and time to bring it together. And time to develop a thorough and comprehensive character and system of ethics, and bring that together. I plan to continue running, if necessary, until 2024 -- every 8 years. I have a deep well of skills, strategies, and ideas devoted to increasing my chances of becoming the presidential candidate this country wants and needs, and I have the dedication and tenacity to see it through the whole way. If it can be done, I aim to do it -- and if it can't, then I will have spent 30 years doing a massive amount of work to help advance the ideas and practices of individual liberty, on every level from the personal to the global. Which is the best I could hope to do with my life.
Here is the text of the first ten amendments of the U.S. Constitution, known as The Bill of Rights -- adopted on December 15th, 1791.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Thanks to USConstitution.net for the text.
I've done some work on the left column of the site, and it's a great improvement in terms of giving people more substantial information about me and the campaign. I've combined all my recent "about the campaign" posts in the upper left, and gave them a title, and I've added some new entries to the "Classic Lance" and "Useful Lance" sections.
The new entries in those sections are:
The USA-PATRIOT Axe
The Nader 2004 "threat", and those poor, pitiful Democrats
About my campaign goals (NOTE: I took this one out because it's redundant, what with the new "About the Campaign" section which includes this entry.)
Book Recommendation: Healing Our World
Taboos, skews, and contradictions
North Korea's Sensible Delusions
Lance on Regulation
I think I need to break up those entries into more functional categories soon. "Useful Lance" might be fine, but I'm stretching the boundaries of "Classic" in that particular section.
I also moved the donations link up a bit, and I'm about to put the Search box over there under the E-Mail Updates one.
The upper left action is the most interesting development, though. It's overdue, really, and I'm glad it's finally coming together. I had my blog reviewed in January, and the main flaw the reviewer found was that there wasn't any real information about me, and he didn't know if I was serious or not. I think that's fixed now.
The entries I've strung together are About Lance Brown, The Campaign "Elevator Pitch", The Longer Pitch: The Future of America is Freedom (formerly "About my campaign goals"), 10 Easy Ways to Help the Campaign, Join the On-The-Road Support Network, and Contact Lance.
What do you think? Do you think the titles work, and how does the "About The Campaign" section strike you overall? Do you see any glaring omissions? I know there's more to add to the picture -- this is just the beginning -- but I'm hoping this is enough of a picture to get people started. Let me know what you think.
I'm going to juggle the dates on those entries, so they're all bunched together in the archives and individual entry pages. None of them are really date-specific in content or creation anyway, except the On-The-Road one and the 10 Easy Ways one, and I'm going to bring the rest up to their date, probably gathering them all on June 1st. Hopefully I'm not breaking blog protocol too badly. I know -- I'll add a "first posted on:" thing at the end of the ones I move. That'll work. :-)
While the Internet is going to be a crucial component of this campaign, it's not going to be enough, and I've been planning approximately 5 years of on-the-road campaigning since way back in 1994. Well, time flies when you're having fun, and the long awaited "meatspace" portion of the campaign is coming up quick. I haven't settled for sure on a departure date, but I'm looking at November, possibly November 4th -- exactly 5 years before Election Day 2008. At some point, I'm going to have to do a grand-style campaign launching press conference, and that might be the time to do it. I hope to have my papers filed with the FEC by then, so I will be an official, on-the-books 2008 presidential candidate -- almost certainly the first one to file with the FEC. That fact, combined with my age and vigor, plus some internet-inspired pre-coverage, could amount to me actually garnering significant press coverage if I do the launch right. Meaning a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., with tons of supporters in attendance.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The bigger issue at hand is where I'm going to go and what I'm going to do when campaigning on the road -- and that's where you come in. I need eyes, ears, places to park my motorhome, pre-publicity helpers, campaign appearance hosts, audience members, campus connections, tips on good places to walk my dogs, and so on. In other words, an On-The-Road Support Network. It would be a great help if you would be part of that network, in whatever capacity works best for you.
For now, you can get on the list by sending me an e-mail request, including your name, and your city and state. As the summer goes on, I'll be building a stronger web framework for the network, and getting in touch with you to find out more about how you want to be involved. Feel free to let me know any other specifics in your e-mail, though I might not respond in detail right away.