I've all-but 100% decided that I'm not going to go to Burning Man this year. There's a whole collection of pros and cons and factors which have led me to that decision, but I don't think it'd be terribly interesting if I detailed the whole decision-making process. Every version I envision would spiral into a long drawn-out thing. This year I was planning to do a campaign camp there, so that was the main value that I weighed on the "pro" side. Ultimately I decided that missing this year wouldn't be that much of a loss in that respect, and that the combined weight of what the trip would keep me from accomplishing here at home, plus a number of negative factors, outweighed the pros. I say all-but 100% decided because there's still a short period of time where divine intervention or outrageous fortune or something could shift the scales enough that I might go, maybe just for a few days (instead of the full week). I doubt it though.
Now that I've effectively decided not to go this year, a monstrous and daunting to-do list of Burning Man-related things floats conveniently away. In previous years that I've gone, BM has consumed as much as $2000, and the better part of both August and September timewise (in preparation, then re-assimilation). Remarkably, I'd say it was worth it all those times -- and I unreservedly encourage anyone who's thinking about going to do so if they can -- but there's still a big wave of relief associated with not having to deal with it this year.
I'm still surveying the new, simpler near-future that lays before me, but one shift will likely be that I'm going to try and hit the road in some form sooner. Not sooner than Burning Man, but sooner than I was going to do post-Burning Man. This will probably amount to a shorter trip (like to Southern California to meet with the South Park guys (if they're willing) perhaps, and back), to test out my motorhome-with-pets model, followed by a longer trip across the country and back. So far I'm thinking that longer trip will include stops in Colorado, to meet with friend and libertarian colleague Troy Dayton, and also Mark Richer, the owner of PeoplesForum.com's web hosting company Ableminds -- who, strangely enough, I have never met in person after 5 years of doing business together. I'll also be stopping in North Carolina, where I have a sister, a brother-in-law, and a niece and nephew that I haven't seen in too long. And I'll spend a while in Massachusetts, where I have a matching set of that list of relatives, plus my mother. (As well as friends in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and I think Connecticut.)
That's probably a sketch of the first leg right there, though I'm pretty flexible. The main objective of the trip is to get a good feel for living, working, and functioning effectively out of the motorhome that I intend to use as my "campaign bus" for the next year or two -- and to see what I need to do to really make the most of it and smooth out the bumps. I'll be glad to meet with some folks along the way, but I don't necessarily expect to be fully functional, and I'll be doing a lot of adjusting to the RV lifestyle.
After a while in New England, I'll head back to my house here, which I hope to keep residency at for the indefinite future. The shape of the trip back is wide open at this point, and depends on a multitude of factors -- how long I've been on the road by then, how well the west-east trip went, and lots of others.
This is all just starting to take its newly-adjusted shape, but I'm guessing/hoping that the first short test trip will be in September, and if that goes o.k., the cross-country test trip would be in late September or October, and the return leg would start right about when it starts feeling like winter in the Northeast -- November or so.
If all that goes well, I could do a full-bore campaign loop starting early next year, which would include helping with a few spring semester openings at some colleges, followed by haunting the 2004 primary states (and events) through spring.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Amazon.com 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
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 http://freedom2008.com. 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)
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:
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.
My goal is to focus the role of government solely on eliminating unprovoked acts of force, fraud, and theft. This means defending our citizens from physical harm, enabling individuals to defend themselves from fraud and corporate mishandling, and returning justice to the justice system.
The Tool of Government Force
The government is not in a position to solve social ills, moral dilemmas, or personal problems. The government is the hand of force, installed to protect and defend its citizens from unprovoked acts of harm.
"Government is not reason, it is not eloquence - it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington
We all learn in childhood that using force is wrong - you can't take Johnny's toys, because they are his toys. And we all know that fighting, or beating someone up, is no way to solve a problem, or to convince someone to change his or her ways. If you don't like how Johnny plays, and you can't convince him to play your way, then you simply don't play with Johnny. But you may not force Johnny to play your way. This is a simple fact of life: the first use of force is never the right way to solve a problem.
And yet we have now grown used to having the tool of government force to divide our belongings as it sees fit, or, in theory, as "we" see fit. And we have authorized the tool of government to invoke first use of force against a wide array of people whose habits we disagree with.
Would beating Johnny up stop him if he was eating paste? Probably not. And if so, it would undoubtedly seed a resentment in Johnny that would be unlikely to go away. Yet we as adults readily agree to the jailing and looting of those citizens who we think aren't doing smart things with their time.
And so it goes in our country today, as the government literally acts as The People's Bully, pushing us around and reassigning our money for our supposed best interests. But who in Washington knows YOUR best interests? I submit- no one. Only you know the right way to spend your time and money. Only you know the best way to act, worship, or seek your personal happiness.
People Not Government
Many would like to credit the government's many "betterment plans" with the outstanding growth, prosperity, and progress that we have seen in the past century.
The government's efforts have undoubtedly provided support and relief to many people and minority groups in the past century. And it has played a vital role in the prosperity of certain chosen industries. But the greatest responsibility for the success of the U.S.A. lies, as always, with its people. Where would our politicians be without their populace? It's a trick question. They'd be in Washington, insulated from the real world. Just like they are now.
I believe that the amazing advances in this country in the past century have come in spite of the government's involvement, not because of it. I further believe that government interference has done an unfathomable amount of damage, and has muted progress in many areas. Natural and clean fuels, natural medicines and alternative therapies, and mass transportation are but a few of the areas where governmental meddling has had a detrimental impact. The War on Drugs, institutionalized racism and religion, and the politicizing of home and family are other ways in which the government has intervened, to the point of permanently disfiguring our sense of community, and the concept of "brotherly love."
A Model of Prosperity
The Internet is a fantastic example of how the private sector is a better actor than the government in economic matters. It operates with relatively little government interference, and is a model of prosperity like none before in history.
What is irrefutably the most free community in human history, the Internet, is also the most successful, advanced, and prosperous in human history. It is no coincidence. And the prosperity only came to be when the private sector "took over" the Internet from the government. The 'Net has been around since the 60's, but it didn't get cool until Netscape, Microsoft, CompuServe, AOL, and the rest of us got online, and made it cool.
The government had it for 20 years and didn't do much of anything with it, except for advancing the military, and fostering an elite intellectual core through the universities.
More Government Means Less People
It is the people - the individuals, to be more accurate - of any community that make it great. They do so with a handicap, which is the amount of interference the government places into their lives.
The more the government runs the country, the less the people do. Government, like any institution, seeks to advance its own interests. We all do. But the government's interests are not the interests of any single one of us.
The Candidate's Offer
If you are willing to give more and more of yourself, and more and more of everybody else's self, away to the government, until we have no People, only Country and Government, then you should probably vote Democrat or Republican (it doesn't matter which) until they dissolve as parties, and our country dissolves with them.
If you would like to take a shot at saving us from ourselves and our government, and you think it might be o.k. if everybody was left to do what they want as long as they don't hurt anyone, please support my campaign for president in 2008. I believe that I have the foresight, dedication, and media savvy required to be a viable candidate. In the coming months and years, I will prove that to you.
Additionally, I believe that a very young candidate could inspire an unprecedented wave of new voters. My outsider and maverick status, which I warmly embrace, should also bring out large numbers of disgruntled voters and first time or reluctant voters. Plus my 14-year long campaign provides me with plenty of time to build up a well-coordinated and recognized campaign effort, and to prepare myself to be a candidate, and a President. I assure you, my campaign will be like none ever seen before in America. It will have to be, and I am fully devoted to making it so. I am intent on providing the people of the United States (and, by extension, the "free world") a way out - an escape hatch, if you will - from the frightening embrace of Big Brother which is already beginning to squeeze our collective ribs.
At age 30, I have already proven my ability to challenge authority effectively, to motivate and inspire a community, and to provoke a large-scale reconsidering of the dominant social paradigm in a given target area. I am an effective public speaker, organizer, and leader. And I have the spirit, charisma, and energy to inspire the country to want to choose the way out, instead of simply "the lesser of two evils".
That popular phrase, used so often when voting time comes around, tells more about the sad state of our "democracy" than anything else. A "lesser of two evils" is still an evil. What can our future hold for us when the only "serious" choices in an election are both considered evils?
I have chosen to devote my life, and my personal skills, talents, and energies toward seeking a peaceful way for Americans to escape from the chains that we have all grown up thinking are a normal part of our outfit as citizens. Wearing chains is not man's natural state; and just because the chains of today's America are often clothed in rhetoric, and plated gold, doesn't change the fact that they are chains that bind, and they are a weight that we no longer need to carry. I will die before I will give up the fight to bring justice back to the Department of Justice, to return independence to Independence Day, and to give this great country back to the people who have earned it.
The future of America is freedom -- we just need to rise up and make it so. When the time comes, I hope you'll rise up with me.
Most of my spare energy lately has been devoted to getting my two new websites up and running. They're pretty much fully functional now, though they'll be growing and developing with each passing day. I've got to do some more promoting of them, though word is starting to spread. I'm getting the feeling that the PNAC.info site is going to become a major attraction as time goes on. And though it may be too late to bring a halt to this particular unnecessary and atrocious war, I have a sneaking suspicion that there are other U.S.-led wars coming up just over the horizon. And HowToStopTheWar.org will be there, compiling and rating ideas for the anti-war movement.
I'm never one to lose hope -- if George Bush has proven nothing else, he's proven that in this day and age, there no limit to the outrageousness that can be achieved through modern media politics -- and there are still at least a couple billion people on the globe who want this war to stop right now, so HowToStopTheWar.org isn't giving up just yet, even on the Iraq War. There's talk of a special "Uniting for Peace" session at the UN, which could override the U.S. veto power and push through a resolution demanding a cease-fire or some other form of restraint. Obviously that wouldn't phase Bush much, but it would make an vivid statement, for the sake of history if nothing else. And it's important that the world continues to stand in firm opposition to Bush's plans for expansive aggression. Hopefully the folks here in this country will catch on eventually. It's certainly not a fight that can be given up on.
My other new project has just begun to flap its wings as well: PNAC.info is sparingly up and running. It's part of my two-pronged mega-effort to direct the efforts of the anti-war movement toward something that will actually build support for the movement and/or stop the war.
My latest project HowToStopTheWar.org is up...just barely. Got any good ideas about peace actions that will actually help bring an end to the war? Post them there!
The casual reader might get the impression as of late that all I've been doing is surfing the news and ranting about it. Nothing could be further from the truth. Behind the scenes, I'm a regular busy beaver of activism. I've been meaning to post some update/summaries of what I'm doing on the ground here, but I know that I'll end up wanting to tell the stories fully, which would make each entry take a half-hour or so (and there's maybe 15 different stories).
For now, I'll post a quick list of the stuff I worked on in February. My next ten days are going to be hectic in terms of activism, and the next two weeks after that will be hectic in terms of work, so I can't say for sure when I'll be posting in-depth stories.
In February, I:
--Participated in a Nevada County Green Party meeting about the USA-PATRIOT Act and other threats to civil liberties (Feb 3)
--Hosted a planning meeting for the Nevada County Bill of Rights Defense Committee (Feb. 10th)
--Made a short presentation about the Nevada County Bill of Rights Defense Committee at the county Republican Central Committee's monthly meeting (Feb. 12th)
--Presented at an "Introduction to the NCLP" meeting hosted by a local restaurant owner (Feb. 13th)
--Took part in a meeting between the President of Sierra Students for CHANGE and the Provost of Sierra College's Grass Valley campus (Feb. 20th)
--Attended an organizing meeting for the Sierra Students for CHANGE's "Books Not Bombs" student strike and all-day rally, which is happening this Wednesday March 5th (Feb. 25th)
--Helped edit the March newsletter of the Nevada County Libertarian Party, which comes out tomorrow
On top of that, I've been doing lots of work in putting together a special "Law Enforcement and The War on Terror in Nevada County" forum, which is coming up on March 11th. This is a major event that I'm putting together as a private citizen (i.e., not under the rubric of an organization).
Some of the parts of organizing this have been:
--Arranging a venue-- the Center for the Arts, which is hosting the event for free (we'll take donations for it).
--Contacting local media-- the local newspaper (The Union) will be covering it, and one of the local radio stations (KVMR) will be broadcasting it live! This means it will also be broadcast live on the Internet. :-)
--Making contact with the following law enforcement agencies: California Dept. of Homeland Security, California Highway Patrol, the F.B.I. Sacramento Division, the Nevada County Sheriff's Office, the Grass Valley Police Dept., the Nevada City Police Dept., and the Truckee Police Dept.. This has gone really well so far -- the F.B.I. is sending the Special Agent In Charge of the Sacramento Division, which covers 34 counties in northern California; the County Sheriff is coming; and the Lieutenant Commander of the local CHP office is coming. I expect most of the rest of the agencies to confirm early this week. There will also be an attorney from the National Lawyer's Guild and/or the ACLU. Additionally, our County Librarian will be on the panel.
--Finding a moderator/facilitator. I made a major score here-- the editor of the local paper The Union is going to be the moderator. Not only is it great to have a major local figure as moderator, but I expect this will get the event put the event of the front of the plate in The Union's newsroom. :-)
This promises to be sort of a landmark event in our county, and I'm really excited at how well it's coming together.
There's more little details of what I've been doing, but that's a pretty good outline. So far, I have two events coming up in each of the next two weeks: tomorrow (later today) is a Green Party showing of the Bill Moyers NOW segment on the "Patriot Act II"; Wednesday is the Books not Bombs rally, at which I'll be staffing tables for the NCLP and the NCBORDC (as well as helping out Darlene, the organizer/MC); next Monday is our NCLP showing of "Hidden Wars of Desert Storm", and next Tuedsay is the law enforcement forum I mentioned above.
Phew! It feels good to get all that out! I'll try to give some more background when I find the time.
I've been brewing up an idea for the past week or so. It's still just the beginnings of an idea really.
I think I should try to get a Super Bowl ad for the campaign. It's one sure-fire way to break through all the clutter and let America know that "Freedom is Still an Option". Not only is the Super Bowl watched by 500 million people (or so I've heard), but the ads during it are a news story unto themselves. There are features done about the Super Bowl ads for the week or more before the bowl, and a couple days afterward. I'm sure I don't really need to even explain this, because most everybody knows that the Super Bowl ads are basically the Holy Grail of ad spots. So I'll just share with you the few bits of ideas and notes I've got so far.
--One 30-second ad will probably cost about $2.5 million dollars next year. I'd guess that will be closer to $4 million by 2008...maybe not that much. I'm focusing on next year for now. I hope to raise the money for the ad through targeted donations-- people donating specifically to pay for the ad. I think if I can sweeten up my web presence here, and present a compelling offer, it could easily become one of those things that gets spread around the Internet, and a lot of people would support it just for the "sticking it to The Man" aspect of the idea. I'm not counting on just those folks, but I really think it could grab people's attention as a sweet opportunity to shake things up. Plus there might even be some folks who'd like to help this particular outsider presidential candidate break through the muck. ;-)
--It would take 100,000 people donating $25 to pay for the ad. Call me an optimist, but I think 100,000 people is a feasible number of folks to raise $25 from. Actually...really call me an optimist, because 100,000 seems like a pretty small number of people in the grand scheme of things. (Not that I won't value their support in a big way.)
--The ideal result would be to have a Super Bowl ad each year between now and the big election, which would make 5 consecutive years of ads there. With no other campaigning at all, that would probably be enough to get me name recognition in most American households, what with the media flurry that would precede and follow each year. Of course I won't be doing "no other campaigning at all." I'll be doing lots of other campaigning pretty much the whole time.
--It's entirely possible I might not be able to raise enough money to get an ad for next year. If not enough was raised the first time around, the pot would just keep growing until the next year, or until it's enough to buy an ad. In a worse (but not worst) case scenario, I ought to be able to at least raise the money by the 2008 Super Bowl. It could end up that I raise enough to do one every other year, or 2 out of the 5.
--Next year would really be a big one, though, because it would be just bare weeks before the 2004 primaries, and could pave the way to me being able to haunt the primary season really well. If, through an effective enough ad (and my own skills and presence), I can become a mini "media darling" of politics at the end of January 2004, I could probably get camera coverage along with the 2004 pack of candidates. Particularly if I outshine or upstage them whenever possible. If for no other reason than they wouldn't know quite what to do with me, or what to think. A carefully orchestrated "haunting" tour could get a lot of media coverage, and help seal my recognition as one of the candidates to watch in 2008. When Election '04 ends, and in the next week the pundits start going "So, who are we looking at for 2008?", I want to make sure they all include me on their list. Even if it's as an oddball candidate, or "that young guy", or "the Super Bowl Ad guy". It's very important that my name gets on the radar as soon as the radar is turned on, and stays there for the duration. It might not be vital, but it's pretty close to it. A Super Bowl ad in 2004 would almost guarantee that my name would be on the commentators' lips on November 3rd, and a lot of media would probably attend my campaign launch press conference that day. Add the primary haunting efforts in, and I could earn a presence in the 2008 polls as soon as they start (in 2004). I would, after all, have already raised almost $3 million dollars, which might even make me the leading fundraiser at that point. That would open some eyes for sure. With that kind of a kick start, I should be able to pretty well get media attention most places I go from there on out. Especially if I continue to follow up with subsequent Super Bowl ads in the subsequent years.
--The kicker: I'm going to try to convince the guys behind South Park to create the ad. They're both self-described libertarians, they're just about my age (i.e., peers), and they love to shake things up. If I can get them to believe in me, and I think I can, then maybe they'd do an ad for me. If they did do an ad, it would greatly enhance my ability to raise money for it.
That's a lot more notes and bits than I planned to lay out. Now I went and hyped it all up, and I haven't even checked on what might be the biggest hurdle -- the TV network. If you know someone with serious clout at CBS or Viacom, drop me a line, ok?
My picture's in the paper today. Not a photograph of me -- a picture I took yesterday.
I went to a local peace march yesterday. I was running a bit late, and they had already begun when I got there. In my effort to catch up, I cut through downtown on foot, and ended up just in front of the marchers. I had brought my digital camera, so I figured I'd make good of the situation, and I climbed up on a fence to take a few pictures. Later, I got a chance to take a couple more from a different elevated position.
After the march was over and almost everyone had gone home, the photographer for the local paper showed up. Apparently no one had notified them (don't blame me -- wasn't my march! :-)), and they just found out by random luck, and too late, obviously.
The photographer and remaining peacefolk (myself included) tried to salvage the situation by doing a simulated march -- essentially a posed picture where the 9 of us walked across the street a couple times. Nobody was really happy about it, and the march's organizers lectured the photographer to make sure the caption was going to accurately reflect what the photo was (i.e., that it wasn't the real, full-blown march).
Instead, I offered my photos as a possibility. The photographer was understandably reluctant about it, and when I offered at first I let him take a pass. But after we did the posed pictures I mentioned, I didn't feel at all good about leaving it at that, and I pressed him harder on how to get my pictures considered instead. The newspaper's office is closed on Sundays, so I knew I wouldn't be able to get mine in on time unless I found the way in. Eventually, the photographer said I could follow him there, and to make a long story short...well, here you go -- they used one of mine.
The page will go into the archives (and require a fee) after a while, so here's the pic and caption for posterity:
Protesting for Peace
About 100 peace advocates march along Church Street in Grass Valley as part of the "Sunday Stroll for Sanity." The march is in response to "the country moving into war as if there is no dissent," said Diane Rosner, organizer of the march.
They dissed me on the credit, which surprises me because I typed in the caption and credit at the paper myself. It's no big deal -- my concern was getting an accurate picture published, not expanding my photojournalism fame -- but it's weird. The caption is exactly as I typed it, but my name got lost in the mix somewhere I guess. I suppose it could be that the staff rubbed me out out of jealousy, but I'd like to assume the best. I can prove I took it, in case you don't believe me -- here's the original.
I've been unavailable for the past couple days because my company's web site has been having uptime problems, and that's a major no-no. We have a pretty constant presence of people discussing things at our site, and many of them spend time there basically all day, every day. So any downtime results in immediate and extended frustration of our members. I've been spending a lot of time dealing with that. Also, I had this message almost ready last night, then lost my DirecWay Internet connection for a few hours. Thus, the recent gap in my messages.
[Lance note: This piece was written in response to the body of general naysayers who think my campaign has no chance, and that I should "grow up and get serious" with my life.]
Most people have resigned themselves to the idea that their life has little meaning, and that they are unable to affect any substantial changes. The idea of "The American Dream," or indeed of achieving any ideals, is questioned more than it is believed.
I have essentially set my sights on the highest ideal- "to save the world." I do not necessarily think that I can pull it off, but I think that we need someone to try that has a chance. I am a uniquely talented, creative, and intelligent individual, with a prevalent ability to lead, and to communicate well. I have considerable energy and relentless determination; what's more, I want to do it, and am perfectly willing to devote my life to my plan.
My cynical side tells me that we truly are running out of time in many ways, and that no serious action is being taken to address the situation. While almost everybody wants things to get better, and many are achieving that here and there, it is going to take really big changes, and the coming together of a number of factors, to stop the Downbound Train. And the forces currently in power aren't going to get us there.
The changes needed to restore an honest reason for hope in this country must come from an outsider, with a broad body of support, and a solid, unflappable campaign with the proper financial and political momentum. The likelihood of that happening is shamefully slim. But many people will try. They will inevitably fail (myself included) -- unless they get everything right.
Quite honestly, I think I could be that "outsider." And I have padded in an extra 14 years to make sure I've got everything right. And if I don't win in '08, I plan to come back in '16, and again in '24 (leaving enough time between runs to avoid becoming a Bob Dole or Lyndon LaRouche). In 2024, I will have spent over 30 years actively working on achieving my lofty ideals (And I'll only be 52!) I will inevitably have a body of supporters. And I will have inevitably influenced thousands (I should hope millions) of people's thoughts about liberty, and the Two-Evils system of government.
And while I can only muse about whether or not I will ever be President (or save the world), I have absolutely not a single shred of a doubt in my mind that I will have done something productive with my life.
Taking a Political Leap of Faith
Bill Clinton is very good at assembling minds in order to assemble policies, but he lacks the quality of discernment. He is a slave to the polls, and thus a slave to a very confused, concerned, malleable, misinformed and frightened population. He has no political theme other than to keep his approval rating above 50%. Republicans and Democrats alike put together their platform based on "the numbers" and try to design a plan that will attract the majority of voters. They then exploit those chosen demographic groups to sway them to embrace their particular potluck of planks.
I, on the other hand, am playing the "game" a bit more riskily. My platform will be molded around principles, and I will gamble that I and those like me will be able to make those principles popular enough to get my platform supported with the least amount of voter manipulation possible. We will surely conduct polls, but not to find out which group of people we need to customize a platform plank for. Polls will be used to find out who we have not convinced yet.
The principles I embrace are freedom and individual liberty, and I wish to design a platform that provides for the absolute maximum amount of individual liberty possible in a free, safe, prosperous society.
This will not change based on any polls or feedback, period. My methodology may change, my approach may change, my image may change. But I will advance a platform in 2008 based on what I appraise to be the strictest possible adherence to the principles of freedom and individual liberty possible in America.
If I build it, and they don't come...oh well. But I'm hedging my bets that a guy who has defended liberty and eschewed heavy-handed government for his entire adult life will be able to find a place in politics in 2008-24.