Archive for ‘Libertarian Party’

August 8, 2009

Tom Knapp is a friend . . .

. . . and therefore I will accept his criticism as sincere, even if I think his analysis of the 2008 Libertarian Party campaign is flawed:

And what, pray tell, did we get out of the [Bob] Barr nomination? . . . [T]he fourth-best results (as a percentage of the vote total) of the Libertarian Party’s ten presidential outings. Our reward for taking a flier and running a conservative instead of a libertarian was middle-of-the-pack performance at the polls and incalculable damage to our reputation as a party with principles we weren’t willing to sell for a mess of . . . well, let’s just note that it was a mess and leave it at that.

One might attack Tom’s argument from several directions, but I think the most important point is one which Tom ignores altogether. One of the reasons that the Barr campaign got so much national media attention in Spring 2008 was the widespread belief that, given the strength of the Ron Paul GOP campaign — especially in terms of online fundraising — and furthermore considering an established personal friendship between Barr and Paul, if the LP nominated Barr, he would bring much of Paul’s financial and grassroots support with him.

While this envisioned scenario did not actually develop after the “Dogfight in Denver” (in which Barr fought for six ballots to gain the LP nomination) this does not mean the original hope of Team Barr was misguided.

There has been a good deal of behind-the-scenes finger-pointing among Libertarians as to what went wrong after the LP convention in May, but a falling-out between Paul and Barr (which seems to have happened in June) could not have been anticipated when Team Barr organized its nomination campaign.

Tom and I met as part of the vanload of “smelly libertarians” who made the road trip to the Denver LP convention. Tom represents a sizeable faction in the Libertarian Party who hate and despise anything “conservative” or Republican. And, of course, there are any number of Republican conservatives who use “libertarian” as an epithet.

This is unfortunate, especially since most Republicans I know are, to some degree, libertarians (with a small “l”). And most Libertarians I know have been involved in primary campaigns for libertarian-leaning Republicans like Ron Paul.

Eric Dondero attempts to bridge this chasm by styling himself a Libertarian Republican. My friend Stephen Gordon has been an operative in both the GOP and LP. Personally, I have attempted to describe “Libertarian Populism” as a potential locus for opposition to both Democratic Party progressive statism and the Progressive Lite go-along-to-get-along approach of GOP “moderates,” by offering freedom as the basic answer to populist grievances.

What is at stake in all this is something much more important than divergent estimates of individual candidates or disagreements about campaign strategy. What is at stake is nothing less than liberty itself.

If our nation’s future is to be entrusted to Nancy Pelosi and her ilk, then the disagreements between Tom Knapp and myself are moot, no more relevant to contemporary politics than an historical discussion of how the Whigs self-destructed after 1844.

In the present crisis, friends of liberty must prioritize their efforts and focus on practical activism to stop ObamaCare, Waxman-Markey and EFCA — the Big Three legislative initiatives being pushed through Congress with every resource that can be mustered by the special interests who control the Democratic Party.

The passage of any one of these Big Three initiatives would inflict a damaging blow, perhaps even a fatal wound, to the cause of American liberty. I assume that Tom Knapp fully supports the “angry mob” effort to prevent passage of those initiatives, and therefore do not wish to waste time debating the past.

Let us act now to secure the future of freedom, Tom. We’ll leave the historical debates for some occasion when we can sit down together with cold beverages and each tell the other to his face how completely full of crap he is.

May 24, 2009

Home-Schooling Works:Fencing Champion Dakota Root, 17

One of the questions every home-schooling parent hears is, “What about extra-curricular activities?” OK, even with six kids, I’m still five kids short of a varsity football squad, but my 16-year-old twins sons, for example, are excellent swimmers who just completed YMCA lifeguard certification.

Lots of home-schooled kids not only compete in sports, they excel. The Las Vegas Review-Journal just featured one such athlete, 17-year-old Dakota Root:

“Every time you fence, you have to keep changing your game,” Dakota said. “You can’t just rely on your skills. You have to rely on growing within the bout. You don’t do that in most other sports.”
Dakota has been in the sport only four years, but she is considering attending college at Ivy League fencing powerhouses such as Harvard and Columbia as well as Duke, Northwestern and Notre Dame. There appears to be reciprocal interest. . . .
She has achieved scores of 2,240 on the Scholastic Achievement Test (Dakota still hopes to break 2,300) and 31 on the American College Test. . . .
Last November she traveled to Germany and Austria for 16-and-under World Cup tournaments. Dakota fenced especially well in Germany, making the fourth round of pool play.
Showing that performance was no fluke, Dakota in April won under-19 epee at the Pacific Coast Championships in Long Beach, Calif. She was second in the senior epee, which was open to all ages.
That’s a head-turning rise through the ranks for a relative newcomer. It’s also a rise that could continue, perhaps even to the Olympic Games, with 2016 as the likely target. . . .

You can read the whole thing. Dakota is also a refutation of the stupid claim that home-schooled kids aren’t “socialized” adequately. You want to see poise? Watch this C-SPAN video as Dakota Root (then just 16) nominated her father, Wayne Allyn Root, for president at the 2008 Libertarian Party convention:

I covered the 2008 LP convention, where Wayne made it to the fifth ballot of the six-round “Dogfight in Denver” nomination battle, and then was chosen as Bob Barr’s vice-presidential running mate.

When I saw Wayne at the Georgia LP state convention last month, he spent most of his time bragging on his daughter who — and I hope I’m not spoiling any scholarship negotiations here — is leaning heavily toward Columbia. (She likes the big city.) Wayne also brags on Dakota in his new book, The Conscience of a Libertarian:

To illustrate the remarkable talent, creativity and intelligence of home-schooled children, I offer Exhibit A: My 17-year-old daughter Dakota Root. She is beautiful; well mannered; disciplined; articulate; poised beyond her years; treats adults with respect; maintains a straight A+ average in her studies; scores in the 99th percentile of every national test she takes; devours as man as a dozen books a month (because she wants to, not because she has to); has achieved a black belt in martial arts; and is a world class fencer who has participated in Junior Olympics, Fencing Nationals and World Cup events internationally. . . .
Many adults that have had the pleasure of meeting Dakota have made the comment, “Is your daughter home-schooled?” I always answer, “Yes, but how did you know?” The reply is always the same, “In my experience, only home-schooled kids are this focused, disciplined, well-mannered and respectful of adults.”

It’s true. Hearing one’s children praised for being poised, well-mannered and respectful is one of the joys of being a home-schooling parent. Wayne writes:

Dakota has had the advantage of being taught one on one literally since birth, by people that love her . . . praise her . . . motivate her . . . and expect the very best of her.

The official publication date for Wayne’s book The Conscience of a Libertarian is the Fourth of July (when else?) but you can order it now at

UPDATE: Hey, Wayne’s not the only home-schooling dad who can brag on his kids. And remember, I’m an expert.

April 18, 2009

Extreme youth

You think you’re a right-wing extremist? Meet two young attendees at the Georgia Libertarian Party state convention:

Josiah Neff of Atlanta displays his Gadsden Flag-themed “Don’t Tread On Me” tattoo as he poses with Ileana Zayas of Marietta. But wait . . .

Josiah’s arm tattoo next to Ileana’s back tattoo.

Is that freaking cool, or what? Now a student at Kennesaw State University, Ileana told me she began getting into libertarianism while she was still a student at Marietta’s Lassiter High School, but got totally turned on by Ron Paul. If the coolest tattoo for college kids is the Gadsden Flag, I’m thinking the future of freedom is in good hands.

And now the bonus picture with exit question:

Q.: Which right-wing extremist is sexier?

April 18, 2009

Greetings from Georgia!

(BUMPED; UPDATED) The 2009 Tea Party Rabble Rouser Tour continues today as I speak at the Georgia Libertarian Party state convention at the Hilton Atlanta Northeast in beautiful Norcross. Just talked to Libertarian blog legend Jason Pye, and everyone is awaiting the arrival of Stephen Gordon of the Liberty Papers.

Right now, my opening act, Bob Barr, is warming up the crowd for me. Remember: Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Bob Barr!

UPDATE: We’re now a Memeorandum thread. Also got a link from Pundette. There’s nothing like the smell of rabble in the morning! Smells like . . . victory!

UPDATE II: More linky-love (and some Rule 5 action) from Donald Douglas at American Sexist Right-Wing Extremist Power.

UPDATE III: This place is crawling with right-wing extremists!

Right-wing extremist Benjamin Franklin enjoys an authentic revolutionary 18th-century Camel Light.

Right-wing extremist Bob Barr shares top-secret plans with Georgia Libertarians.

Right-wing extremist Rule 5 with Stephen Gordon’s long-suffering wife Deb and Georgia Libertarian Party “Hottie of the Year” Ashley Petty.

December 3, 2008

Election Day in Georgia

UPDATED & BUMPED: Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Chambliss’s double-digit victory dashed Democrats’ dreams of securing a filibuster-proof, 60-vote “super majority” in the Senate and buoyed a Republican Party battered by staggering losses in the Nov. 4 general election.
“Republicans still know how to win an election,” Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan told hundreds of Chambliss supporters at the Cobb Energy Centre.

The size of the victory (a margin of more than 300,000 votes) is important as a warning to Democrats going forward that the GOP is still a viable opposition. It is also important that Barack Obama diminished himself by refusing to risk his political capital campaigning for Democrat Jim Martin.

I’ve added an analysis of the vote here. Also, Michelle Malkin responds to my defense of Chambliss’ immigration record: “[T]he guy went wobbly went it mattered most — and it took massive resistance and vigilance to set him straight.” OK, but at least he responded to the outcry, whereas Maverick did not.

PREVIOUSLY: Associated Press and New York Times call it for Chambliss. With 93% reporting at 10:15 Chambliss leads 58-42% with a 300,000+ margin. Still 70+ precincts to report in Fulton County and, for some odd reason, only half the precincts in Paulding have reported. I might add an analysis if I can get those numbers.

With 84% of precincts reporting by 9:30 p.m., you’ve got the makings of a solid victory for Chambliss. The key thing to notice is the Republican’s overwhelming majorities in the fast-growing exurban “outer ring” counties. Most of these margins are based on partial reports, but look:

Carroll ………2.2-to-1
Cherokee …..4.5-to-1
Coweta …….2.8-to-1
Fayette …….2.3-to-1
Forsyth ……..5.3-to-1
Hall …………3.3-to-1
Paulding …….3.2-to-1
Walton ……….3.7-to-1

It looks like Chambliss is cruising to re-election. But I’m disturbed to see Michelle Malkin transmitting misinformation, calling Chambliss a “pro-amnesty Republican.” This is false. Chambliss has an A+ rating from NumbersUSA for his opposition to amnesty. Yes, Chambliss supported the bailout, but he’s been a solid conservative vote on immigration issues.

UPDATE: Michelle responds by reminding me that Chambliss was booed at the Georgia GOP convention in May 2007 for defending the guest-worker provisions of the bill that was then pending in the Senate. But Chambliss eventually voted against cloture on S.1639, just as he had voted against S.2611.

I remember being shocked by Chambliss’ May 2007 defense of the immigration bill, since I knew he’d opposed S.2611. I am under the impression that, between the Atlanta business community and the Beltway echo chamber, Chambliss had gotten the mistaken idea that maybe the “enforcement” bells and whistles on the shamnesty bill would be enough to satisfy the base. Getting booed at the convention apparently sobered him up pretty quick.

New York Times reports low turnout in Atlanta:

At the Atlanta Public Library on Ponce de Leon Ave., where more than 1,600 people voted in the general election, only 400 people had voted by noon today.

This is probably good news for Chambliss. Also, Bob Barr has endorsed Chambliss. Will update.

Boosted by Sarah Palin’s whirlwind tour, Sen. Saxby Chambliss appears poised to win today’s runoff in Georgia. Jim Antle reminds us why the runoff was necessary:

Libertarian Party candidate Allen Buckley . . . received nearly 3.5 percent of the vote, running almost 100,000 votes ahead of Libertarian presidential nominee Bob Barr . . .
Many of those voters were fiscal conservatives upset with Chambliss’s vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout — or, as he prefers to describe it, “the financial rescue package.”
“It’s for the people, by the people,” an anti-bailout conservative told the Politico in late October. “I think that 99 percent of the phone calls that Saxby got were for him to vote against the bailout, yet he did it anyway. He’s supposed to represent the people of the state of Georgia.… By far, the vast majority did not want the bailout.”

“Libertarian populism,” anyone?

(Hey, who is Bryan Caplan, and why is he stealing my title without credit?)

November 8, 2008

Who says Libertarians don’t count?

Libertarian Party candidate Allen Buckley got 127,723 votes (3%) in the Georgia Senate race, enough to throw Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss into a runoff with Democrat Jim Martin.

Chambliss voted for the $700 billion bailout. Should have listened to me, senator!

UPDATE: Ace wants his readers to donate to save Chambliss’s seat. I’m having a hard time working up any real enthusiasm for that. His constituents were bombarding his offices with phone calls and e-mails begging him to oppose the bailout. He didn’t listen. He pays the price. And if part of the price is a veto-proof Senate majority for Obama, well . . . whose fault is that?

These out-of-touch big-government Republicans commit political suicide and then come running to the conservative base expecting help. Screw ’em. Sen. Richard Shelby provided a solid argument for his vote against the bailout. Why didn’t Saxby Chambliss listen?

UPDATE II: I’ve been watching this YouTube video of the last debate with Chambliss, Martin and Buckley, and you can see how Buckley (an attorney and CPA) slams Chambliss from the right. Martin — he’s just feeble. Should have been a Buckley-Chambliss runoff. And if I still lived in Georgia I’d have voted for Buckley, who at least tells the truth about entitlements bankrupting the country.

September 30, 2008

Libertarian populism (the column)

Monday’s blog post becomes Tuesday’s full-length column at The American Spectator:

Nobody seemed to notice when Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr adopted as his campaign slogan “Send Them a Message!” — the same outsider theme that animated George C. Wallace’s populist third-party run in 1968.
Leaving aside the vast political and historical distance between the late Alabama Democrat and the former Georgia Republican, Barr’s slogan clearly seeks to tap into an enduring populist conception of the government in Washington as a corrupt insider racket controlled by special interests, in which both Democrats and Republicans are out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans.
The defeat of the Wall Street bailout deal in the House yesterday was an amazing convergence between libertarian ideals and a resurgent populist sentiment. . . .

Please read the whole thing.

UPDATE: The column is linked today by Eric Dondero at Libertarian Republican, Tom Knapp (one of the “smelly libertarians” on the famous van ride to the LP convention in Denver) and the fabulously bewhiskered James Poulos.

September 29, 2008

Libertarian populism

I attended Friday’s event at Reason magazine’s DC office where Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr “debated” John McCain and Barack Obama. Barr viciously mocked the proposed bailout as a boondoggle: “The bailout plan, anyway you slice it, is a bad idea for America.” In doing so, Barr aligned himself with the firestorm of grassroots opposition to the bill — congressional staffers report that their phones are ringing off the hook and practically all the calls are from bailout opponents.

FreedomWorks — the free-market think tank led by Barr’s former GOP House colleague Dick Armey — has a list of “Ten Reasons to Oppose the Wall Street Bailout.” With Big Government coming to the rescue of Big Business, the bailout presents one of those rare occasions when libertarians find themselves handed an issue with widespread populist appeal.

Here’s video of Friday post-debate Q&A with Reason editor Matt Welch, in which Barr addresses foreign policy, the bailout and Ron Paul’s recent endorsement of Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin:

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)

August 15, 2008

Barring Barr in Boston

Jim Antle chronicles how Massachusetts Libertarian Party chairman George Phillies — who placed fifth in the “Dogfight in Denver” — appears to be conniving to keep LP presidential nominee Bob Barr off the ballot in the Bay State:

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit last week to help get Barr a place on the ballot. Unfortunately, the intransigence of state election officials has been compounded by mixed messaging by some supporters of the ACLU lawsuit – especially Phillies himself.
Almost immediately after Barr secured the nomination, Phillies told Reason magazine that the Massachusetts Libertarians might hold a state convention to nominate a separate candidate. “Nominating this man,” he is quoted as saying of Barr, “is the equivalent of nominating an Imperial Wizard of the KKK to lead a party of African-Americans.” He repeated a variation of this statement on the state party’s website shortly afterward.

Phillies and certain other hard-core LP activists basically resent the effort of Barr’s supporters to expand the Libertarian Party beyond its current status as a philosophical debating society and make it a party of major political significance.

This has been an internal tension within the LP almost from the outset, as Brian Doherty explained in Radicals for Capitalism. The “libertarian” label has, unfortunately, attracted a number of fringe flakes who don’t seem much interested in mainstream free-market ideology — deregulation, low taxes, reduction of government bureaucracy — but who are passionate about, inter alia, gay rights and drug legalization.

This drift has resulted in the party becoming a sort of Geek Club whose members take turns nominating each other for state and local offices they don’t stand a chance of winning, and then staging quadrennial “More Libertarian Than Thou” contests for their national conventions.

At a time when the Republican Party appears to have forsaken its Goldwater/Reagan message of limited government, one might expect the LP to be scooping up huge contributions and winning over voters disgusted by the GOP’s abandonment of principle. Yet as the situation with Barr illustrates, when disillusioned Republicans approach the LP, they inevitably find themselves confronted by the Geek Club contingent, whose worst fear is that their private debating society will be taken over by people who aim to actually win elections.