Monthly Archives: May 2008

Random Thought For The Day: When Will They Start Hating Us ?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the best sign that libertarian ideas have become a real threat to the status quo in the Republican Party will be when the right-wing screed machine starts attacking libertarians.

The minute you hear Limbaugh/Hannity/Levin talking about a Bob Barr or Ron Paul with the same irrational vehemence they usually reserve for anyone who dares to attack the Bush Administration — take a look at what they’re saying about Scott McClellen — we’ll know we’ve arrived.

Personally, I hope it comes sooner rather than later. Because the moment they start attacking individual liberty , they’ll be revealed for what they truly are — statists.

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States Rights — Petty Oppression Better Than Widespread Oppression?

I’ve long said that I only support democracy so much as democracy improves individual rights. Likewise, I only support federalism and states rights so much as they improve individual rights. Federalism is a means, and liberty is an end.

And as this story shows, local government doesn’t always lead to more libertarian ends than we get from Washington:

BLACK JACK, MO (AP)
Another unmarried couple is being told by a suburban St. Louis town they’re not welcome.

A man, his girlfriend and her three children recently bought a house in Black Jack in north St. Louis County. But because Toi Pruitt and Joe Pulliam and the children don’t meet the town’s definition of a family, they couldn’t get an occupancy permit.

In 2006, Black Jack revised its definition of a family after initially refusing a permit for Fondray Loving, Olivia Shelltrack and their children. That family had filed a federal lawsuit.

The new ordinance allows unmarried couples as long as the children are related to both. None of the children are related to Pulliam.

The city attorney says he’s willing to fight for the ordinance in court.

To be fair, there are advantages to local power. It’s far easier to oust politicians on a local level, and it’s far easier to leave a locality that doesn’t respect your rights when it’s a city-sized rather than a nation-sized geographical area.

But it can often be harder to change laws like this in local areas, for two reasons. First, these types of infringements occur every day, and often go unnoticed by the media and even fellow townspeople. Because these issues don’t reach a level where the general public is aware, they don’t have the incentive to change the law. Second, simple bigotry may account for a town that democratically prefers to infringe upon the rights of unmarried couples to buy and occupy property. In that case, even if the majority of the town understands that a situation like this is occurring, they may not care.

Remember, “states rights” is but one tactic, that can sometimes lead to greater liberty when it is used in opposition to federal government infringement of rights. But it’s a double-edged sword. Your local government can infringe upon your rights and damage your life just as thoroughly as the federal government can, and it’s just as wrong. Liberty is the end, and we should not lose sight of this goal in our search for tactics that may improve it.

Hat Tip: Radley Balko

The Huckster — “Libertarians Want To Steal Grammy’s Meds!”

It’s obvious to all people with functioning brain cells that the Republican party’s reputation has taken quite a beating over this decade. When it’s been dominated by the profligate spending and mismanagement of the “compassionate conservatives”, Mike Huckabee lays the blame at the people who have been criticizing that profligate spending all along, and makes an utter fool of himself in the process:

What can the party do to reverse course?

Republicans need to be Republicans. The greatest threat to classic Republicanism is not liberalism; it’s this new brand of libertarianism, which is social liberalism and economic conservatism, but it’s a heartless, callous, soulless type of economic conservatism because it says “look, we want to cut taxes and eliminate government. If it means that elderly people don’t get their Medicare drugs, so be it. If it means little kids go without education and healthcare, so be it.” Well, that might be a quote pure economic conservative message, but it’s not an American message. It doesn’t fly. People aren’t going to buy that, because that’s not the way we are as a people. That’s not historic Republicanism. Historic Republicanism does not hate government; it’s just there to be as little of it as there can be. But they also recognize that government has to be paid for.

Huckabee makes two logical errors here.

First, he conflates libertarianism’s goals with methods. The goal is a government that is not providing these services, and a private sector that replaces the government provision of services. The State has been built incrementally over the last century and beyond, and society has grown accustomed to the infringement of their own methods for handling social problems by the government. Most libertarians want to see a dramatic reduction in the State, but understand that the methods must also be incremental. Societies such as post-Communist Russia show what happens when you simply disintegrate heavy-handed state control in a society which does not have the natural infrastructure to support it– the State is replaced by other goons, like the mafia.

Second, he assumes that if government doesn’t provide these social services, all hell will break loose when the vacuum forms. As a Baptist preacher, he above all should understand the amazing capacity that Americans have for voluntary charity. He seems to impugn libertarians with the motives of “well, if all hell breaks loose, it’s too f’ing bad.” Instead, our belief is that the government is an inefficient, uncaring, and ultimately unreliable provider of social services, and that the poor and elderly will be better off and our children will be better educated if we get the government out of the way. After all, government didn’t socialize medicine for senior citizens up until a few years ago, and the world hadn’t ended. Government has constantly been “improving” (read “throwing more money and bureaucracy at”) education for 50 years, and watched as American children have fallen further and further behind our international rivals.

Oh, and I don’t understand what Huckabee’s Republican view of government, “to be as little of it as there can be”, defines him any different from that of a Democrat. His view of “as little of it as there can be” seems to include lots of “compassionate conservative” programs, which sounds like it includes a lot of prescription drugs for the elderly and a big federal education bureaucracy. As is true of most politicians, he’d simply prefer that his team be pulling the strings instead of those dirty liberals.

But, if you can believe it, it gets worse. He goes on to prove that he doesn’t understand a thing about libertarians:

My experience in Arkansas was, a lot of the so-called conservatives said “Let’s cut the budget.” But they wanted to add prison sentences, they wanted to eliminate parole, they wanted to have harsher sentences for various crimes. And I said “OK, that’s fine, but that’s going to be expensive. So which do you want?” You can’t have both

I think most libertarians would tell you that our prisons are FAR too crowded, and that we’re wasting our time prosecuting victimless crimes while actual dangerous people roam free. These “so-called conservatives”– who don’t actually call themselves conservatives, mind you– aren’t usually the ones asking for tougher sentences, mandatory minimums, and fuller prisons. We’re the ones arguing against that!

So it would appear that the Huckster’s main point is that for Republicans to reconnect with electoral success, they need to leave those elements asking for reduction in government behind. Instead, they need to be the party of fiscal responsibility, and not grow government QUITE as quickly as the Democrats want (or spend the money in the same places). Yet government growth hasn’t been a problem over the last 7 years of the Bush administration, and increasing government nannyism has not led to widespread acceptance of Huckabee’s version of Republicanism.

I disagree strongly with Huckabee, if that hasn’t been evident already. It truly says something when potential voters respond to a centrist-libertarian Republican candidate in record numbers, preferring him to an idealized Democrat, even if he isn’t real:

And after the debate, a Zogby poll found that even among the young, liberal-skewing viewers of “The West Wing,” Vinick had crushed Santos. Before the episode, viewers between 18 and 29 preferred Santos over Vinick, 54 percent to 37 percent. But after the debate, Vinick led among viewers under age 30, 56 percent to 42 percent. McCain could only dream of such numbers. Or maybe he should try sounding like Arnie Vinick.

“West Wing” producers were taken aback by the reactions of real live “voters” to their real live debate. After seven years of heroically portraying the honest, decent, liberal President Jed Bartlet–an idealized Bill Clinton who wouldn’t take off his coat, much less his pants, in the Oval Office–they weren’t about to let a crotchety old Republican beat their handsome Hispanic hero. So they conjured up a meltdown in a nuclear power plant that Vinick had supported, and Santos won the election.

I remember thinking that during those West Wing episodes… “Why don’t real Republicans ever sound like this?” If they did, I might have a reason to support them instead of Bob Barr come November.

The Revolution: A Book Review

About half way thought Ron Paul’s The Revolution: A Manifesto, I found myself thinking that he should have written this book before he ran for President, not afterwards, and that his campaign should have handed out as many copies of the book as they could, because it does a far better job of explaining and defending libertarian values and ideas than the candidate himself ever did on the campaign trail.

There’s not really anything original in the book itself; as other reviewers have pointed out, these are ideas that others have written about before and they are, in fact, older than the American Republic itself. That doesn’t mean the book isn’t important or worth reading, however; as Paul’s campaign and recent polls independent of the Presidential race have demonstrated, there still exists an audience that is quite receptive to the ideas like individual liberty, economic freedom, and the idea that things have gone terribly wrong in this country.

In seven relatively short easy to read chapters, Paul touches on issues ranging from economic freedom, to the assaults on civil liberties and personal property that we’ve seen over the past two decades, to monetary policy, and, of course, foreign policy. If you’re looking for a discussion of what’s wrong in America today from a philosophy that focuses on individual liberty, The Revolution is an excellent place to start.

For someone such as myself who has been immersed in libertarian ideas from the day I picked up a copy of Capitalism & Freedom and then moved on to spend the summer after my freshman year in college digesting everything from Atlas Shrugged to John Locke’s Second Treatise Of Government, the ideas that Paul talks about will be entirely familiar, and there will be more than one moment of head-nodding in agreement as you read along. The sad truth, though, is that we don’t live in a country where the majority of the public can really be said to be familiar with the ideas that our nation was founded upon and our Constitution was based upon. And the political leadership isn’t any better; beyond parroting the words of the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July or saluting the flag, politicians on both sides of the political aisle pay little more than lip service to the ideas of the Founding Fathers, especially when they inconveniently interfere with whatever it is they want to achieve, whether that’s health care “reform” or campaign finance “reform.”

But that, I think, is what makes Paul’s book so good. I don’t necessarily think that the American people have given up on the ideals of the Founders, it’s just that they haven’t been presented with a political leaders who even come close to living up to them. That, I think, is why Ron Paul, his faults notwithstanding, attracted the vocal, if small, following that he did during the campaign.

There are some disagreements, of course.

I agree with Paul that our foreign policy has gotten too far out of whack, and that the interventionist and pre-emptive war ideas advocated by the intellectuals who got us into Iraq is both unwise and dangerous. That doesn’t mean, however, that I agree with his suggestion that we merely need to look to the foreign policy advocated by the Founding Fathers in the early years of the Republic to tell us how to manage the affairs of a continent-wide nation existing in a world where destruction can come from the skies in a matter of minutes.

The early Founders, and specifically Presidents Washington, Adams, and Jefferson were concerned primarily with the survival of a small, weak nation on the coast of a continent that sat across the Atlantic Ocean from Europe, where the two most powerful nations on the planet were engaged in a seemingly endless struggle that dated back to the French and Indian Wars. That conflict didn’t end until Wellington defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, and America was constantly under pressure to take sides, especially in the years after the French Revolution. Keeping America neutral was in our interests because either nation, England or France, could have destroyed the new Republic merely by imposing a blockade on shipping. We simply don’t know what policy Washington, Jefferson, or Adams would advocate in today’s world; they clearly wouldn’t support foolhardly adventures to make the Middle East “safe for democracy”, but I doubt that they’d also adopt the idea that America’s vital national interests end at the shoreline, which often seems to be what Paul suggests.

The other weakness in the book is also one that existed in the campaign itself; a lack of specifics. Paul admits that most of the changes he proposes, many of which are clearly necessary, can only be achieved if Congress supports them. That isn’t likely to happen anytime soon, and it would have been nice if the book had touched even a little on how to get there from here.

On the whole, though, this is a solid introduction to the philosophy of freedom, and far better reading than yet another devotional to “hope” and “change.”

Quote Of The Day

Jerry Pournelle on the Texas polygamy case:

Punishing people without charging them with any crime or allowing them any defense is a pretty serious thing. I would say that protection from that kind of arbitrary authority is more important than the alleged protection of no more than a dozen kids among the 400 from the allegations of sexual abuse — allegations, by the way, that now turn out to have been made by an anonymous accuser who may not even exist. It may have been a malicious neighbor.

If we are going to establish that precedent — that I can call the police and allege that you are abusing me and your children — and never come forward to confront you, or give any real specifications, but they will come and take your children for their own protection, I have the power to ruin your life.

You Can’t Believe In Limited Government And Want Barack Obama In The White House

Andrew Sullivan, who has been in the tank for Barack Obama ever since he realized that Ron Paul was pretty much a non-entity, posts about this critique of his support for Obama:

Sullivan, a Burkean by philosophy but a radical by temperament, is the most interesting critic of his former conservative allies, and I’ve learned a lot about conservatism agonistes from reading his blog. He says that conservatism isn’t about solving problems but about recognizing the limits of man’s ability to do so, especially in the form of organized activity called government. His breakdown can’t help stacking the deck: conservatism is modest, skeptical, narrowly focussed on what can be done; liberalism tries, promiscuously, to satisfy everyone’s needs. Sullivan believes that the Republican Party went astray when it forgot its philosophical principles and started throwing more feed at the hogs of the electorate than Democrats. He is, in the terms of my article, a purist rather than a reformist, but his unhappiness with the movement is so great that it’s driven him into the arms of his exact opposite, Barack Obama, who is philosophically liberal and temperamentally conservative.

Sullivan knows that his Oakeshottian version of conservatism is a very hard sell in a country that expects problems to come with solutions, and he seems to acknowledge that its future here belongs with the reformists like David Brooks, Ross Douthat, and Reihan Salam, who are readier than he is to accept that people have a right to want their government to improve their lives, not just to instruct them in the vanity of human effort. I read Sullivan every day, partly to find out how far his disenchantment will carry him in the very strange direction of Obama-style uplift—how long his temperament will win out over his ideas.

To which Sullivan responds:

It’s a little hard to know how to respond to such a perceptive critique. But, yeah, it’s true. Intellectually, I find so much of Obama’s substance domestically to be anathema. (This is not true of his tilt back toward realism and diplomacy in foreign policy, which could be seen as a return to conservative principles after Bush’s Wilsonianism). I haven’t sat through a single Obama speech without ideologically wincing at something. I fear that in the general election, his recourse to liberal tropes will begin to wear thin.

So why do I find myself still longing for him to win?

Because, I can’t see how domestic policy could become more statist and less responsible than the past eight years. Because I want to see such a record punished with electoral defeat for fear they still don’t know what they did wrong. Because I think Obama’s diplomatic skills and public relations brilliance could serve this country very well. And because of what Obama represents in our collective consciousness.

Umm, okay, let’s see how things could become more statist. Increased government involvement in health care to the point where individual choice becomes even more irrelevant than it is today. Increased “social welfare” spending. Increased subsidies to so-called distressed industries. And, oh yeah, let’s not forget the fact that he opposes a free trade agenda that has pretty much defined America since the end of World War II.

Sully goes on:

His candidacy is about renewing what America means to the world and to itself. It is about a collective cultural healing – especially on race. It is about representing the next generation and America’s less domineering but more inspiring place among nations. It is about transparency in government. It is about getting past this brutal cultural polarization for a while. It is about putting reason back into our discourse after the emotional manipulation of the Morris-Rove era. It is about ending torture, restoring Constitutional balance, and adding the power of words, of great words, to restore hope again.

This may sound lofty, but I do not think it is lofty in the way utopian liberalism suggests. It is lofty the way Reagan was lofty and Kennedy was lofty, which transcends ideology. Set apart from their actual achievements in office (on which scale Reagan dwarfs Kennedy), they both recast this country’s self-understanding – and the world’s understanding of America. This shift occurs in the heart, and it is not about promising heaven on earth. It is about being all we can be at this moment in history. It is about us – not policy; our self-understanding – not self-recreation.

Being all we can be ? Is this an advertisement for the United States Army or a debate on where America is headed over the next twenty years ?

Clearly, Sully’s still caught up in the Obama-mania that was sweeping the nation back in February.

Let’s be realistic about this. Barack Obama isn’t going to change the world and he isn’t going to make everything better. In fact, given the fact that he has absolutely no executive experience, it’s quite likely that his first two years in office would be something like the initial years of the Clinton Administration, only more incompetent.

I was with Sullivan when he support Obama as the best way to protect America from another four-to-eight years of Clintonism, but now we’re down to brass tacks.

It’s time to be logical here, folks. Barack Obama is a Democrat, and one brought up in the years when the Democratic Party drifted further and further to the left.

That’s the kind of President he’s going to be.

If you believe individual liberty and think that corporate profits are something other than a source of revenue for Barack and Michelle to launch their latest scheme, then even thinking about voting for him for a second is a tremendous mistake.

Open Thread Question of the Day: Will the Barr/Root Ticket Help or Hurt the Libertarian Party?

I think it’s too early to tell. There are some very legitimate concerns that many Libertarians have about Barr’s commitment to Libertarian principles. Barr defeated Ruwart 54% to 46% and I can tell you from being there that many of the delegates who supported Ruwart were very dissatisfied with the outcome. It’s very unclear to me whether Barr can win their support.

The main concerns Libertarians have (large L and small l) concern his congressional career, namely his support for the USA PATRIOT Act, the Defense of Marriage Act, and his work as a notable drug warrior. Barr has since denounced and apologized for these policies and is working toward their repeal.

The question Libertarians have to ask is whether or not this conversion is authentic or opportunistic. Personally, my approach is “trust but verify.” I am willing to take Barr at his word.

Why? He is a politician after all!

I truly think his conversion is authentic because people CAN and DO change. I have a great deal of respect for both Bob Barr and his running mate Wayne Allyn Root because they both admitted their mistakes and say they want to correct them rather than pretend that they were always staunch Libertarians all along. I’m sympathetic to this because I too have evolved a great deal in my thinking over the last year or so and have made a near 180 degree turn on certain critical issues (I’ll write a complete treatise on this someday soon).

If you believe that this conversion is opportunistic rather than authentic, then by all means I would urge you to not support Bob Barr. If, however; you do think this conversion is real and if you believe he does support the goals of less taxation, less government, and more freedom then I urge you to support Bob Barr in the general election.

Sure, many of Barr’s policies have been very destructive toward these ends but what do we gain by beating someone over the head for making mistakes one has apologized for and promises to make right. Isn’t the whole point of debate to persuade your opponents to your side? And who makes a better argument for a position than the converted?

Inflation Fears Pummel Cocaine Markets

The DEA assumes that if the street price of coke is rising, it is an indication that their interdiction efforts are successful. Well, the price is rising, but might one make another conclusion?

And it says it has spied one: The cost of pure coke rose 44 percent in the United States between January and September 2007. The dea credits its own efforts, of course, along with increased Mexican and Colombian cooperation, for the downturn in supply it says caused the price hike.

But the agency omits an important factor: the plummeting value of the dollar, especially as compared to the soaring euro. Even as the dea has made it more bothersome to bring coke into the United States, the sliding dollar has made importing it less profitable. Both the UN and dea note that a kilo of coke brings in two times as much in Europe as it does in America.

As with any commodity, producers look to maximize earnings by selling in markets with the strongest currencies. But unlike oil, for instance, the value of which is measured in dollars, the cocaine market is more fluid. “The euro has become the preferred currency for drug traffickers,” declared then-dea administrator Karen Tandy at an anti-drug conference last May. “We’re seeing a glut of euro notes throughout South America,” she said, adding that “9 of 10 travelers who carried the $1.7 billion euros that came into the United States during 2005 did not come from Europe…They came from Latin America.”

When many think of “drug dealers” and “drug traffickers”, the thought springs to people with no other options, who have no choice but to turn to illegal enterprises to survive. In reality, we’re talking about savvy, enterprising businessmen, who simple operate outside the established legal framework of industries. They deal with competition, “regulation”, supply chain management, and all the other minutiae of running a successful business and providing value to a customer. They just have a much higher risk tolerance than your average dot-commer (which is then rewarded by very high returns on investment).

They also– because they operate outside the legal framwork– have the ability to be much more agile than many traditional businesses. They don’t have to worry about a government invalidating their business license, or a trading partner closing their borders: they operate past closed borders to begin with. That agility makes it a fascinating market to study, and if they’re dropping the dollar in favor of the euro on a widespread level, what exactly does that say to us about the future of the dollar? If it’s not trustworthy to drug dealers, exactly why should I trust it?

And what exactly does it say about oil prices, a market which is currently captive to trading in dollar terms, that oil is rising in price far more than a typical supply-and-demand curve might justify? Might there be some inflation-related price pressures here?

The Euro: not just for supermodels anymore.

Hat Tip: Radley Balko

Concluding thoughts on the 2008 Libertarian National Convention

First of all, I would like to thank Andrew Davis, the Communications Director of the Libertarian Party for granting the new media in general and The Liberty Papers in-particular full access to the 2008 Libertarian National Convention. To say that attending this convention was a thrill would be an understatement. I had the opportunity to talk to some of the candidates, the delegates, fellow bloggers, and generally be in an atmosphere of people who value liberty (it was very strange to witness a presidential debate where I agreed with most of the statements about policy and philosophy).

Based on the comments we normally receive at The Liberty Papers, I always knew that libertarians (even within the Libertarian Party) are very diverse when it comes to particular views but generally agree on the Lockean principles that we at The Liberty Papers champion: Life, Liberty, and Property.

What I saw at the convention reinforces this belief. The MSM will likely show the, how should I say, the “more colorful” individuals who are part of the liberty movement. What I saw, however, were “normal” people, young and old of every background one could imagine who happen to want to reduce the role of government in all of our lives.

One of the readers asked me to ask the question (paraphrasing): “What has the Libertarian Party accomplished in recent years in advancing the cause of liberty?” Regretfully, I never got around to asking that question but I believe I have the answer. While it’s true that the Libertarian Party has not had a great deal of success at the national level, I discovered that grass-roots efforts of party activists have succeeded in electing Libertarian candidates and passing legislation at the local and state levels which truly advance liberty. During the nominating speeches, one state chairman after the next gave examples of how their efforts in their respective states fought the government and won. The cause of liberty is by no means a lost cause.

With Bob Barr representing the Libertarian Party in this election, I believe he will be a force that John McCain and Barack Obama are going to have to deal with (but especially McCain). No, I was not sold on Bob Barr prior to this convention and he was not my first choice. There were too many unanswered questions. Based on how he has answered those questions and admitted his past mistakes and has promised to correct them, I can honestly say that I can enthusiastically and in good conscious endorse Bob Barr for President of the United States*. This is not something you see everyday in politics or in life.

Will Barr be the next president? Not likely. But I will say that his mere presence, especially if he can get into the debates, will force the Republican Party to rethink their big government policies. They will live to regret nominating John McCain as their nominee as Barr takes votes away from him in November. They will have four years to live life in the minority wondering how they can regain the trust of the American people.

And as for the Democrats? The American people will see that Barack Obama will not have the answers to our problems. We will not be taxed and regulated into prosperity. We will once again be reminded why government is not the answer to all of life’s problems but only makes those problems worse.

The question then will be what are we going to do about it? Only time will tell.

***UPDATE***

The VP Results are as follows:

Vote 1
Root: 269 (49%)
Kubby: 209 (37%)
Williams: 40 (7%)

Vote 2
Root: 289 (51%) **WINNER**
Kubby: 255 (45%)
Williams: 14 (3%)
NOTA: 6 (1%)

Root was my preference but I think he will add a great deal of energy to the ticket (Energy? Root could solve the energy crisis by himself!)

» Read more

Libertarian Party selects Bob Barr as 2008 presidential nominee

Libertarian Party Press Release:

Libertarian Party selects Bob Barr as 2008 presidential nominee

Former Congressman plans to take the White House as Libertarian candidate

Denver – The Libertarian Party has nominated former Congressman Bob Barr as its candidate for president for the 2008 election.

“I’m sure we will emerge here with the strongest ticket in the history of the Libertarian Party,” Barr stated in his victory speech shortly after being selected as the Party’s nominee. “I want everybody to remember that we only have 163 days to win this election. We cannot waste one single day.”

More than 650 Libertarian delegates met in Denver from May 22 till the 26 for the 2008 Libertarian National Convention. After six rounds of voting Sunday afternoon, Barr was selected as the Party’s presidential nominee.

“We’re proud to present to the American voters Bob Barr as our presidential nominee,” says Libertarian Party spokesperson Andrew Davis. “While Republicans and Democrats will fight for their own power in November, Libertarians will fight for Americans. Bob Barr is one of the strongest candidates in the Party’s 37-year history, and we look for him to have an enormous impact in the 2008 race. Republicans and Democrats have good reason to fear a candidate like Barr, who refuses to accept the ‘business-as-usual’ attitude of the current political establishment. Americans want and need another choice, and that choice is Bob Barr.”

The Libertarian Party is America’s third largest political party, founded in 1971 as an alternative to the two main political parties. You can find more information on the Libertarian Party by visiting www.LP.org. The Libertarian Party proudly stands for smaller government, lower taxes and more freedom.

For more information, or to arrange a media interview, please call Andrew Davis at (202) 333-0008 during normal business hours, or at (202) 731-0002 during any other time. For an interview with the Barr campaign, please contact Audrey Mullen at (703) 548-1160.

Live Blogging the Libertarian Convention Vote

To win the nomination, a candidate has to earn a majority of votes. Most likley there will be several rounds of voting. I’ll post the totals from each round.

1st Vote

Bob Barr 153 (25%)

Mary Ruwart 152 (25%)

Wayne Allyn Root 123 (20%)

Mike Gravel 71 (11%)

George Phillies 49

Steve Kubby 41

Mike Jingozian 23

Christine Smith 6

None of the above 2

Total votes 579*

*Ron Paul, Penn Jillette, and Daniel Imperato also received votes but where not considered part of the tally

Jingozian and Smith are eliminated; Jingozian throws his support behind Gravel.

Smith is outraged that Bob Barr has the lead; tells delegates to support “a real Libertarian.”

2nd Vote

Bob Barr 188 (30%)

Mary Ruwart 162 (26%)

Wayne Allyn Root 138 (22%)

Mike Gravel 73

George Phillies 36

Steve Kubby 32

None of the above 1

Total votes 630

Kubby eliminated; backs Ruwart.
» Read more

Post-Debate Press Conference

Stephen and I attended the post-debate press conference last night where candidates fielded questions from media and bloggers. Stephen asked a question to the candidates about pardoning non-violent drug offenders.

The video is divided into two parts. The first is Mike Gravel. He was in the room before the other candidates and kind of took over the podium and took several questions. LP Media Communication Director Andrew Davis politely asked him to let other candidates come up and take questions and Gravel cocked an attitude. I’m not faulting Gravel, but he could have handled it better.

Here is Gravel:

Here is the second part of the press conference video. This has all of the candidates answering questions from the media:

Live Blogging the 2008 Libertarian Presidential Debate

7:06 p.m. Barr admires Ayn Rand.

7:10 p.m. Gravel describes the problems associated with the two party system, incorrectly calls the U.S. a democracy, slams big oil, and champions the Libertarian Party.

7:11 p.m. Phillies says vote Libertarian. Describes himself as “the centrist libertarian.” Slams the Bush Administration.

7:14 p.m. Network Down. Sorry.

7:20 p.m. Jingozian’s philosophical hero is Ben Franklin

7:21 p.m. Mary Ruwart’s philosophical hero is also Ayn Rand.

7:23 p.m. Steve Kubby’s philosophical hero was Nolan.

7:25 p.m. Root’s is Yogi Berra

7:30 p.m. Phillies says we should bring the troops home.

7:31 p.m. Jingozian says war in Iraq will not end if Barack Obama is elected…vote Libertarian.

7:33 p.m. Root says war in Iraq was a mistake. He supported the war in the beginning but now says it was a mistake. All future wars must be authorized by congress.

7:35 p.m. Barr says that we should have a defensive military policy rather than offensive.
» Read more

Interview with Libertarian Presidential Candidate Wayne Allyn Root

Liberty Papers: I’m here with Libertarian Presidential Candidate Wayne Allyn Root and Cornelius Swart of The Portland Sentinel

Portland Sentinel: Okay, so how did you feel about yesterday’s debate based on the rankings?

Root: I don’t think that really had anything to do with it. This is a very different crowd. The debate was not the same crowd as what’s going to be at tonight’s debate. That debate was all the more liberal candidates of the Libertarian Party.

I was the only candidate that is perceived as a conservative that had the chutzpah to show up and face down that crowd and I think they loved it. And I think I will be everyone’s second and third choice in that room. In matter of fact I know I’ll be lots of first choices, I got a whole bunch of tokens there but more importantly I have everybody’s second and third choices and that’s what’s going to win this nomination. No one’s going to win it on the first ballot.

Its going to be won more between the second and the sixth through eighth ballot. And I believe the likeability factor as a second or third choice of conservative Libertarian delegates will absolutely determine the final one. I’m very confident that I’m everybody’s second or third choice, because I’m friendly with everybody and I’m a good guy. And I think that’s very important. I know the issues, I’m the best communicator by far, I’m the best guy to put on national TV. I can put a positive face on this party’s vision and image.

I think everyone knows now for sure that I’m in no way, shape, or form [that I] am really the conservative candidate. I’m actually a moderate, mainstream, Libertarian who’s both right and left. I’m not threatening anyone to the left. I think before last night there were a lot of people who weren’t quite sure which camp I was in. Maybe they were worried I was in Bob Barr’s camp but its pretty obvious I’m not.

Portland Sentinel: How are you different from Bob Barr’s positions?

Root: Well, lets start with a different issue because, I’m not being a typical politician trying to dodge your question but I really mean this. It’s not issues that are going to determine the race. It’s going to be personality that determines the race. And that’s the most important thing you should look at besides the issues. I’m not saying the issues aren’t important but personality is 60% and issues are 40%.

Personality, the proof of that I’ll give you great examples from both the right and the left.

From the right: Barry Goldwater was the original founder of libertarian thought. Lot’s of the people in this party were disciples of Barry Goldwater in ’71 when this [Libertarian] party was founded. They based it on his philosophy. Now I know that there’s also Ayn Rand, Murry Rothbard, and it goes on and on, but the founders of this party, that circle were all Barry Goldwater disciples. Barry Goldwater was a great guy with a great message but he lost in a landslide. Sixteen years later Ronald Reagan took the same message and won in a landslide. Same message.

On the left: George McGovern had a liberal message and lost in a landslide. All these years later, who has the exact same message as George McGovern? Barack Obama, the most popular politician in America. He happens to be my college classmate, class of ‘83 at Columbia University. Barack has a great personality.

So whether you are from the left or the right you have to grudgingly admit it has nothing to do with the message it is the sales ability of the messenger. We are a nation that likes to hear positive message. Ronald Reagan would say things in a positive way and Barack Obama says a liberal message in the most positive way I have ever heard. Most liberals speak in a negative, angry, way. Barack Obama speaks in a happy positive way. He’s the Ronald Reagan of liberals and I’m the Ronald Reagan of libertarians. I did great at every part of the debate except when I brought up Reagan’s name. Mike Gravel went into a tirade about Reagan and blah, blah, blah.

He totally misrepresented my words! I went out of my way to say “I’m not talking about Ronald Reagan’s politics.” I’m not saying I defended what he did in office. I’m just saying that as a communicator, you have to grudgingly admit that the guy was fantastic and that’s the reason he won. It had nothing to do with his views, America liked him.

That’s my message. I can be the Ronald Reagan of this party. Not to say I agree with all of his politics, forget about the politics. Maybe I’ll want to change that for this crowd: I could be the Barack Obama of this party.

[Laughs]

Liberty Papers: But are your policies the same no matter what your crowd is?
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Seven Candidates Qualify for Presidential Debate

Press Release:

Seven candidates qualify for presidential debate

Half of candidates vying for nomination cross threshold for debate participation at the 2008 Libertarian National Convention

Denver, CO – Half of the candidates vying for the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president have qualified to participate in tonight’s presidential debate at the 2008 Libertarian National Convention.

Since the beginning of the convention on May 22, the 12 presidential candidates who made the trip to Denver for the National Convention have been petitioning Libertarian delegates for their support in the form of delegate tokens, which go towards qualifying candidates for certain events at the national convention. Candidates must collect 30 tokens in order to qualify for a 16-minute nominating speech to be given on Sunday before the voting begins. For the presidential debate, candidates had to collect 10 percent of the delegate tokens available by Saturday morning. That number was 57.

The candidates who qualified for Saturday’s debate are as follows:

Bob Barr (94 tokens)
Wayne Allyn Root (94 tokens)
Mary Ruwart (94 tokens)
Mike Gravel (67 tokens)
Mike Jingozian (63 tokens)
George Phillies (62 tokens)
Steve Kubby (60 tokens)

“We’re very excited to have a healthy number of candidates involved in tonight’s presidential debate,” says Libertarian Party National Media Coordinator Andrew Davis. “The competition that it will bring will only improve the political discourse at our convention. Republicans and Democrats could learn a thing or two about the inclusion of multiple voices in presidential debates, which ultimately is better for the nomination process and helps delegates choose the best candidate for the party.”

The debate will take place tonight at 7:00 PM (MST), and will be moderated by Fox News contributor James Pinkerton. The debate is scheduled to be broadcast live by C-SPAN.

As of noon on Saturday, more than 620 delegates had registered for the convention.

A nominee will be selected by delegates on Sunday afternoon.

The Libertarian Party is America’s third largest political party, founded in 1971 as an alternative to the two main political parties. You can find more information on the Libertarian Party by visiting www.LP.org. The Libertarian Party proudly stands for smaller government, lower taxes and more freedom.

For more information on the convention, or to arrange a media interview, please call Andrew Davis at (202) 333-0008 during normal business hours, or at (202) 731-0002 during any other time.

Scenes from the Libertarian National Convention

This first day of covering the Libertarian National Convention has been very exciting so far. I haven’t had an opportunity to spend much time at any of the events but I have been talking to delegates and presidential candidates (interviews will be posted later). Jason Pye has been busy posting his experience and insights at the convention at JasonPye.com.

Booths at the convention

Booths at the convention

Libertarian Presidential Candidates George Phillies and Mike Gravel

Libertarian Presidential Candidates George Phillies and Mike Gravel

Steve Kubby

Presidential Candidate Steve Kubby

Presidential Candidate Christine Smith – I spoke to her briefly before the pre-debate tokens were counted. Smith is not a fan of Bob Barr or Wayne Allyn Root; she thinks they are Republicans running as Libertarians. She did not receive enough tokens to participate in the C-Span debate but she is still technically running.

Libertarian Party platform debate winding down

Stage set for the C-SPAN debate; the last debate of the Libertarian Convention and the 2008 campaign.

“Blog Row” – Spot set aside specifically for bloggers throughout the convention. This was taken during the debate (left to right, myself representing The Liberty Papers, fellow Liberty Papers contribuer Jason Pye, Dave Weigel from Reason, and Drew Ferguson from Liberty magazine.)

Post debate press conference (Left to Right: Dr. Mary Ruwart, Bob Barr, and Wayne Allyn Root)

Barr campaign’s hospitality suite after the post debate press conference

Bob Barr’s first press conference as the LP’s nominee

Looking Backward: The Future Of Libertarian Ideas

James Pinkerton looks at the future of libertarian ideas by pondering where we might be in 2058:

First, true freedom—camouflaged from all-seeing eyes in the sky, hidden even from the all-penetrating Google Grid—can flourish only in a few small and isolated places around the globe, where self-selected populations can gather together as ex-pats and exiles, to live free or die. These places have been mostly small islands, protected by nuclear booby traps, although a few have existed on the poles, or under the sea, or deep underground. Poignantly, one such place was called “Galt’s Gulch,” named after the place where the capitalist strikers hid out in Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. But this time, the strikers were real enough—until, of course, they met their tragic end at the hands of bounty-hunting looters.

So the second lesson: No permanent victories for freedom can be found in this finite physical earth. Hobbes was right: The nation-state—sometimes, the imperial state—is the most effective monopolizer of force, thus the inevitable master of territory.

The third lesson: The true frontier of freedom will have to be elsewhere, not in this physical world as we commonly think of it. Many freedom-seekers have experimented with virtual reality as an escape hatch, or various kinds of nanotechnology. We wish those dematerialized libertarian voyagers well—but, frankly, we don’t know what has happened to them.

The fourth lesson is the keeper: A free world is a new world, the farther away, the better. The next significant victory for freedom—a return to Randianism—will be best realized via transportation to somewhere else, off this earth. Flight beats fight, especially when the freedom-fighter is guaranteed to lose to the statists in the end. The Europeans who came to America found liberty in the empty spaces of the New World; the same was true in Australia. It’s no accident that North America and Australia have traditionally been among the freest countries in the world. And if they are now less free, in the middle of this grim 21st century, that’s because they are increasingly filled up. They have regressed to the regimented condition of the rest of the planet.

Is Pinkerton right ? Is the future of liberty so bleak that we’ll have to hope for the interplanetary space travel of Robert Heinlein, or the alternate realities of Harry Turtledove and S.M. Stirling as the only true hope for creating a free society ?

Does The Libertarian Party Matter ?

Bruce Bartlett doesn’t really think so:

Although this may turn out to be a banner year for the Libertarian Party, the LP is not a real alternative to the Republicans and Democrats. Because of the Electoral College, restrictions on ballot access and onerous campaign finance laws, third parties simply aren’t viable for actually electing candidates. Nor do they pull the major parties toward their position: Ron Paul’s success did not encourage other Republican presidential candidates to even pay lip service to his ideas.

I believe that libertarian ideas would be better promoted by an interest group such as the National Rifle Association than through the Libertarian Party. Such a group could use the limited resources available for libertarian ideas far more effectively by establishing a political action committee, lobbying and advertising than by a political party running futile campaigns for public office. Nevertheless, the Libertarian Party may be an interesting force this year.

Bartlett makes the mistake that many people make when looking at the role of third-parties in America’s political system.

Does Bob Barr, or whoever the Libertarian Party nominates this weekend, have a realistic chance of winning the Presidency ? Obviously, the answer is no — and this would be true even without the Electoral College.

But that’s not the only reason to run a third-party campaign, as long as you have the right candidate and the right conditions. The Green Party received a lot of attention in 2000 because they nominated Ralph Nader; in the end, they received nearly 3,000,000 votes (2.5 million more than the LP candidate) and, arguably, cost Al Gore Florida and the election. More importantly, parts of their agenda, most notably their stands on environmental issues, have become part of the Democratic Party’s agenda.

Imagine if the Libertarian Party could do the same thing in 2008. Let’s say Bob Barr pulled in 1.5 million or more votes — not enough to win, but potentially enough to cause John McCain problems in states like Georgia (15 Electoral Votes) or Virginia (13 Electoral Votes). That alone could be enough to give the election to Barack Obama.

In the aftermath of such a campaign, one would think that smart Republicans would be wondering what they could do to bring the fiscal conservative/libertarian vote likely to be attracted to the LP. And that could be the first step in changing the party for the better.

Bob Barr might not win the election, but a successful 2008 campaign could have a significant impact on where the GOP goes after defeat.

As far as Bartlett’s suggestion that interest groups are better avenues for change than political parties, I’ll admit I’m sympathetic to it. The fact that The Cato Institute has managed to become a part of the public policy debate inside the Beltway without compromising core libertarian principles is, on the whole a good thing. As is the existence of an organization like the Institute For Justice, which is on the way to becoming what the ACLU never was — a public policy law firm that truly defends individual liberty.

At the same time, though, when there’s an opportunity to make an impact in what has already been one of the most historic elections in recent American history, I don’t see any good reason for passing it up.

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