Thursday, December 30, 2004
You figure, Belarus has lost their previous games by a combined score of 19-4, and the US had beaten the teams that had beaten Belarus, so it should be a walk in the park.
Wrong. When you fail to play defense, you lose. The US dropped their game in the World Junior Tournament, 5-3. They slide to 2-1 in the standings, with a game against a very good Czech team tonight.
Still no word from ESPN on future programming for the Tournament. It probably depends on the USA's seeding.
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
This is usually the most fun time of the year for sports viewing, but with the NHL still in their pathetic lockout situation, my fun is greatly diminished.
Fortunately, there is some hockey to watch, as the World Junior Tournament is going on right now. The US team has won their first two games, and plays Belarus tonight. ESPN2 will air the game at 9:30pm (EST), and I'll be in front of the set. Unfortunately, there aren't any other games scheduled yet. Maybe ESPN is taking a wait-and-see approach to scheduling more games. Hopefully, the ratings for this game will be high enough to bump a re-run of the World Series of Poker.
I like the World Series of Poker, by the way. Texas Hold-Em is a great game, and it's fascinating to watch the pros play. It's just that they've aired the 2003 & 2004 tournament to death.
The death of Reggie White was startling. He was only 43, and unlike jocks who die young due to substance abuse problems, such as Ken Kaminiti recently, this just makes you shake your head. He was playing in the NFL just four years ago. ESPN Classic will air a day of tribute on Friday. It's just another reminder that you don't know when your time will come, and to take advantage of every minute.
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
OK, I was a tad harsh on the Mayor with yesterday's post on the agreement with the Colts on a new stadium. Since the plan is clearly not going to be tax-funded, I will today give him credit for that. Good show!
On the other hand, I still think that the quest for funding could be done better than by using gambling revenue. The possibility of using gambling revenues as the source of funding is as troubling to some as using taxes is to others. Fortunately, three good options are available that are enormous civic pride opportunities.
1. Join a consortium of investors
2. Purchase shares of stock in the project
3. Purchase bonds in support of the project, a la WW2-era War Bonds
By using these three methods, the funding is achieve solely by the choice of the participants, and directly so, as opposed to the gambling funded method. People will choose to get involved because they believe in the project. They will have a stakeholder interest far beyond the guy who drops ten bucks on pull tabs and loses.
Civic projects can and should be a source of pride to as many people as possible. Using funding that people will be eager to provide is an excellent way for everybody to come out a winner.
Good so far. Make it better.
Is the sale of stock in a stadium a good way to raise money? In 1998, the Cleveland Indians sold shares of stock in an IPO at the initial offering price of $15/share. This raised $60 million, selling out the stock in rapid fashion. That's not a huge percentage of the $800 million or so needed to be raised. No problem. Set the amount to be raised by this device to $150, with a higher initial offering price tag, and this can be achieved easily.
Will the stock be worth anything to the investor? Possibly not. There is always the risk of a crash when investing in the stock market. Many subscribers will be glad to simply buy the stock certificate as a piece of history and something to frame and hang in the den. The 1998 Indians stock certificate goes for $150 on collector sites. Others will treat it as a business and look for a dividend, or to sell if the price rises with the success of the complex. The story of the Indians stock had a happy ending.
War Bonds sold phenomenally well because the public believed in the cause. I think that enough people in Central Indiana would buy Stadium Bonds because they believe in it. Pie in the sky guess? I think $150 million could be raised from investors on this.
Monday, December 20, 2004
So, Mr. Irsay got the City of Indianapolis to shell out some money to build him a new palace, so that he can make some more money, thus preventing (for the next 5-10 years) Colts from taking the moving van night express down the interstate, just as the Baltimore Colts did back in the early 80s.
I can't say I blame him for having asked. So many cities give the moon. City officials always cite jobs, but are also always certain to insist that the prestige of the city would dive if a major sports team left.
I'm a big sports fan, but I'm also a big fan of classic and exotic automobiles. I drive a 1997 Saturn, which is neither of these things, but it sure gets me from-A-to-B. It's a reliable car, and gets very good fuel economy.
Just the same, I'm thinking that I'd like to have a Rolls-Royce... and a Ferrari... and a Maserati. These would look really good in my driveway, and I would look and feel much better about driving them than I do about my Saturn.
I'm thinking that I'd like everyone on my block to pay for these luxury automobiles. Heck- it will improve the prestige of my neighborhood if out-of-towners were to drive down my street and see the Rolls. My neighbors will enjoy the benefit of this enhanced prestige, and it will only cost them each a little bit. They'll hardly notice how much it is.
I'm even thinking that about 10 to 12 times a year, I will allow my neighbors to take a spin with me in the Rolls or the Maserati. They can pay me admission to ride in my car, getting the direct benefit of having purchased the cars for me. Sometimes they can even ride shotgun. Of course, you don't always get to sit on the 50-yard line, so sometimes, my neighbors will have to ride in the trunk. Heck, though- the tickets are almost half price!
Maybe they can't afford the price of tickets for the whole family to ride. Well, they can stand on the sidewalk and watch as I drive by with those who can afford the price of admission. Still- they're getting the enormous benefit of having created a sense of civic pride and prestige for our neighborhood, thanks to my cars. Of course, I'll only let them stand on the sidewalk if I've sold out the admissions to all of the seats, including the trunk. I'm not kind of idiot who is going to let people watch for free from the sidewalk when I have empty seats!
So, hats off to Jim Irsay. He sold his bill of goods lock, stock, and barrel. I'm impressed with his moxie.
I'm less impressed with Mayor Peterson. He gave away the store and gets very little in return. He'll claim it was great leadership to keep the Colts here. Great leadership would have included a stadium that was fully privately funded.
This is not impossible. Look at the Brickyards or Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio for good examples of privately built arenas that were built with private funds and are thriving.
While the Mayor or Mr. Peterson may not have been able to locate a single source of funding, think of the extraordinary opportunity to build civic pride that was lost. They could have built a consortium of local business who would have invested in the project, thus taking a real stake in the success of the project. They could have sold shares of stock to Colts fans and raised a huge sum, rather like the Cleveland Indians did a few years back.
Nope. Easier to tax or to create a government monopoly casino to pay for it.
Maybe it's time to ask for that Rolls Royce.
Monday, December 13, 2004
Excellent news for the Libertarian Party of Indiana, with the re-affiliation of Allen County. This county is home to Fort Wayne, one of the largest cities in Indiana, and traditional a power base of fine libertarian activism.
I am looking forward to seeing Allen County rival LaPorte, Monroe, Wayne, Hamilton, and others for #2 county status amongst the LPIN. It is conceivable that with the momentum they create today, they could have the second-greatest number of Libertarian candidates in 2006.
Of course, we here in Hamilton County will give them a run for their money. Watch us grow, while the other parties hibernate!
Sunday, December 12, 2004
Well, my fellow fiscal conservative! You come knowing that it is a well-known fact that the state of Indiana faces an $800 million structural deficit. You are desperately hoping that spending cuts are the means to solving this problem rather than tax hikes.
Bummer for you: the Republicans lack the will to cut spending.
They do not lack the tools. The GOP inaugurates a governor next month and will usher in majorities in the both houses. There are the tools. They will sit in the woodshed while the spending tools will be used. From an editorial in today's Indy Star:
Tax increases cannot be ruled out? Why not?
"Indiana's structural deficit stands at near $800 million. The state also owes schools and universities more than $700 million in deferred payments. The rainy day fund has been largely depleted, dropping perhaps to only $46 million by the end of this fiscal year.
Factor in eventually repaying the $380 million borrowed from the Pension Stabilization Fund to keep the state afloat for the past two years. Plus rising Medicaid costs, potentially another $300 million in additional spending. Plus $160 million the state will pay out in property tax relief.
It all adds up to what some legislators are describing as, in Kenley's words, "the session from hell." Tax increases certainly cannot be ruled out. Spending cuts are likely. Kenley, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, says he's preparing for a flatline budget -- meaning no extra money for schools. Others wanting more money likely will be turned away as well."
Spending cuts are likely, yet Kenley is preparing for a flatline budget? Cuts and a flatline are two different things.
Instead of really cutting spending, this is how Republicans plan to close the gap on the deficit, per the Star:
That's all very nice and commendable, and should serve as an excellent start towards fiscal health at the state level. The other very necessary component is a real cut in spending.
"But there's also opportunity. It starts with reforming the maze of 74 agencies and 319 boards that is Indiana state government.
Gov.-elect Mitch Daniels has proposed a government reorganization plan that must be pushed forward at the same time Espich and other lawmakers are shepherding the budget through the Statehouse."
I am calling for a baseline 10% cut in spending. I'm not calling for a radical slash-and-burn. I'm calling for something that can be done without the usual accusation that the Libertarian solution will leave the state in ruins. I urge my readers to write the editors of their newspapers and their representative to urge a baselline 10% cut. Make sure to tell them that you are a fiscal conservative and that you expect this sort of action from a GOP majority, and that if you don't get it, you'll vote Libertarian in the future.
If the GOP proceeds as they plan to, this will indeed be the session from hell- not for poor Luke Kenley, but for fiscal conservatives across the state.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
My son Alex will be 13 this January. 13! I'm planning to visit him in Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain for his birthday. We visited there last year while he still lived in Rota.
I just discovered that I can upload pictures (duh!), so here's one of us there:
As with last Wednesday, I enjoyed another replay of some old-time hockey with FoxSports Midwest's airing of a 1986 St. Louis Blues playoff game. With the NHL lockout appearing to be an endless proposition, these re-runs have been a welcome sight.
This time, the Blues won Game Seven of the Norris Division Finals, defeating Toronto 2-1. More observations on how the game has changed:
There were two fights... during power plays... in the first period! In today's NHL, you wouldn't see two fights in a playoff game at all, unless it was late in the game and something stupid inspired it. These were just de rigeur scraps.
The goalie equipment was so small! And the pads were brown leather! No team colors on the pads.
The games were desperately played, with an emphasis on offense. Today's playoff games only have that feel when it's a one-goal game and in the latter half of the third period.
A Sutter was on the ice instead of behind the bench.
FoxSports will show more games so long as the lockout continues:
2004-05 FSN Midwest Schedule of Classic Blues Games
Air Date Time (CT) Game Game Date
Wed., Nov. 24 7 p.m. Pittsburgh at St. Louis April 14, 1981
Wed., Dec. 1 7 p.m. St. Louis at Minnesota April 15, 1986
Wed., Dec. 8 7 p.m. Toronto at St. Louis April 30, 1986
Wed., Dec. 15 7 p.m. Calgary at St. Louis May 12, 1986
Wed., Dec. 22 7 p.m. Detroit at St. Louis April 16, 1991
Wed., Dec. 29 7 p.m. Detroit at St. Louis Jan. 23, 1993
Wed., Jan. 5 7 p.m. St. Louis at Toronto Nov. 29, 2000
Fri., Jan. 14 7 p.m. Dallas at St. Louis May 3, 2001
Missed that old Pens' game, when they still wore blue uni's, prior to the Mario Lemiuex era, but I won't miss that game with Calgary!
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
That's the question I hear over and over again from my non-libertarian friends with regards to Michael Badnarik's involvement with the Greens in Ohio, requesting a recount.
What's the point? Kerry has conceded.
What's the point? It won't change the outcome.
What's the point? It won't move Badnarik any higher, so it won't bring the Libertarian Party of Ohio (LPO) the automatic ballot access it craves.
The point is, says Badnarik, is to make sure that every vote counts so that people believe in the system. This is an excellent principle, and a fine reason to participate. So who has complained that they feel left out? Not sure. The answer gets vague there, and that's a surprise. You would expect a whole lot of Democrats to be clamoring. But, they're not. Is Badnarik representing any constituency? It seems not. There are a handful of voters on the complaint, along with Badnarik and Green candidate David Cobb.
So Badnarik, who struggled mightily to raise $1,000,000 nationwide is now trying to raise $100,000 for a recount. It would have been far more valuable in my estimation to raise that extra $100,000 before the election, spending it on TV ads. The recount effort would be worthwhile if it were generating good will. It is doing the opposite, and reinforcing the idea that the LP is a bunch of kooks. We aren't even getting good press out of it from friendly sources. WorldNet Daily's article quotes the Green spokesperson, but not a Libertarian, which is typical of the articles.
I had the opportunity to interview Badnarik on the radio 10 days ago. I asked him if the recount effort was being done to support the LPO, who fights some of the toughest ballot hurdles in the country. His answer? "No." It seemed that it hadn't even occurred to him.
That leads me to ask, what's the point?
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
With the NHL in day 75 of its' lockout situation and the temperatures dropping, I've really begun missing watching hockey on TV. So, it was a very pleasant surprise to be channel surfing this evening and to happen upon a St. Louis feed to Fox Sports.
There, in fuzzy splendor was a re-run of an original CBC broadcast of Game Five of the 1986 Norris Division semi-finals between the Blues and Minnesota North Stars!
Egad, the players I hadn't seen play in ages- former NHL Cleveland Baron Dennis Maruk; young Dino Cicerelli and Brian Bellows; promising prospects that never emerged, like Brian Lawton and Doug Wickenhiser; future NHL head coaches Craig Hartsberg and Curt Giles; yeoman players that ended their careers in the minors such as Greg Paslawski and Scott Bjugstad; the coming-out party of Doug Gilmour, with a five assist game.
Thanks, FSN! I felt like a man in the desert who found an artesian well. I miss the NHL. I hope all involved come to their senses soon enough to salvage a season.
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Hamilton County Libertarians will gather informally for happy hour tomorrow night to kick back and discuss sports, work, and oh, maybe a little politics.
Meet us at Barley Island right in the center of Noblesville, from 6 to 9pm... or maybe longer. It all depends on you. Everyone is welcome to join us- Republicans, Democrats, Marxists, independents, you name it.
A note on Barley Island. I come from Cleveland, home of the mighty Great Lakes Brewery, which is easily one of the five best in the world. That's no stretch. They have the medals to prove it. So, when I say that Barley Island's brews are pretty wonderful, you have something to base my compliment on. If for nothing else, stop in and have a pint.
Sunday, November 28, 2004
On the surface, the analysis of this recently concluded election cycle is easy to cast. The Republican Party ran the table with victories high and low. From the Presidency to the houses of Congress, from the Governor's mansion to the Statehouse, Republicans enjoyed a November like few before.
New majorities have been borne of these victories, and with them come rare opportunities. Conservatives can look ahead to January, when a great deal of business can be accomplished through new legislation and policies. It is a safe bet that the opportunity will be taken advantage of.
This is not breaking news. Pundits have spent much of the last month making the case for pity on the sad sack liberal, who has only anguish and trepidation for the near future. Liberals will helplessly look on as conservatives chart the course of this state and of the country. While certain that bad policy will be the rule of the day for now, liberals can only dream about 2006 and 2008, and hope Democratic leadership crafts a winning plan.
This is the kind of pain that delights most conservatives. For now, the whole range of conservatives are smiling.
But, behind some of the grins, there is a group within the broad spectrum of conservatives that is gritting its clenched teeth behind a half-hearted smile. While excited for the possibilities Republican majorities bring, this group shares a great deal of the anxiety liberals have in anticipation of the first wave of new policy that will soon greet us. This group is the fiscal conservatives.
It was not a series of referendums on capping budgetary growth that swept George W. Bush to re-election. It was a series of referendums on gay marriage. It was not a promise of lower spending that Mitch Daniels gave Hoosiers in addressing the $800 million budget deficit he will inherit. It was... What was it? There must have been more to it than Joe Kernan's negativity. Was it really sufficient that Daniels wasn't a Democrat?
For most fiscal conservatives there is a precarious balance between three pressures. Fiscal conservatives trust Democrats to do one thing- to increase the size of government, so they can't vote Democrat. Most fiscal conservatives couldn't bring themselves to vote for Libertarian candidates for fear that Democrats might win. They want to vote Libertarian, but they just can't do it yet, especially because the possibility of a Republican majority was imminent. Their trust in the GOP is waning, but fiscal conservatives were willing to give them one more shot.
This thinking is rooted in the past. It used to be that Republicans grew government, but at a much slower pace than Democrats. This was still troubling for fiscal conservatives who wanted their government to shrink, but these days, as the Bush Administration has shown, Republicans actually grow government faster than Democrats. It used to be that Republicans said, 'Only we can cut the size of government. Just give us the tools!' Now?
Well, now they actually have the tools. Fiscal conservatives want to see the chain saws blazing and front end loaders scooping out pork, but are afraid they will only see the penknife and the tweezers, if they see any cutting at all.
This leaves fiscal conservatives with a daunting prospect. If there isn't any cutting, but only more public sector growth, where should fiscal conservatives turn in 2006?
There isn't even the slightest chance that disaffected fiscal conservatives will turn to the Democrats. If their wishes are ignored, fiscal conservatives may finally part ways with the GOP and turn to the Libertarians.
The Republican Party's largest base constituency is on the line. Since Ronal Reagan left office, fiscal conservatives have put up with a lot of disappointment in the quest for one last great opportunity for the GOP to prove its' worth to them. Is a 10% reduction in spending across the board too much to ask? Is it genuinely impossible to find the courage to find a few redundant offices and departments and to eliminate them with the power of majority on your side?
If Republicans won't do the job of reducing spending this year, with their majorities at home and in Washington, fiscal conservatives will know that it is time to look for a new political home. They will have no choice but to conclude that if spending won't be cut this year, it never will so long as Republicans are in charge.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
I haven't watched CBS' Evening News for years because of Dan Rather. He's just always rubbed me the wrong way, with his biases pretty apparent, and not much to my liking. It isn't just Rather, though. I don't care much for Peter Jennings or Brokaw, either. I haven't watched 6 O'Clock news broadcasts for years, because these three men have anchored the broadcasts for years.
So, the welcome news is that Rather will soon be history, and the news will be presented by someone new. I'll be glad to check out his replacement to see if there is any appreciable change, along with Brokaw's replacement.
Friday, November 19, 2004
Being a fairly rational person, I believe that the most pressing problems before a government should be addressed first. I know, that means heavy lifting now, but it means smooth sailing later.
I'm going to guess that a recent Royal Decree- yes, her Majesty in England is still the ultimate authority in Canada, with the assistance of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario- has not addressed Ontario's most pressing issue when She banned dwarf tossing.
Yes, dwarf tossing.
As Sheri Sharlow Conover points out to me, there is a gret flaw in this Decree. While it specifically bans dwarf tossing, I still appear to be free to toss midgets when next I am in Toronto, Sudbury, or Brantford, without the slightest threat of prison of a $5,000CDN fine.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
I've been itching to be behind the mic for quite some time now, so it's with great pleasure that I will sit in on Abdul in the Mornings on WXNT 1430-am this Friday, from 6:00-9:00am.
It's a one-day Libertarian takeover, with LP Political Director Brad Klopfenstein at the helm, Al Barger and myself as the supporting cast. Abdul is taking a day off.
It's all subject to changes based on the news that breaks between now and Friday morning, but the show should look a little like this:
6:00-7:00 Indiana elections recount-o-rama. Problems in Franklin & LaPorte Counties, and in Congressional District 9
7:00-8:00 Will the GOP be fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, both or neither in the upcoming legislative session?
8:00-9:00 Special phone-in guests. Big secret. Can't tell you. Have to listen to find out.
Be sure to listen and to call in on 317-228-1430!
I thought for sure that if I only dropped a few key words into the blog, I would get mega hits. So, about 20 minutes after Scott Peterson received his verdict, I posted an item dropping his name and others.
It didn't work. I was advised that I would have had some success if I used words like "Britney Spears naked", or "Paris Hilton naked", or, name any popular, young female entertainer and the word "naked".
In fact, I might start to get the hits now that I've done so! On the other hand, the blog could get screened as prono...
Saturday, November 13, 2004
I've had a few conversations with bloggers over the nature of hits on the blog sites. It's always disappointing to see that some toss-off comment about some innocuous pop culture tidbit gets more traffic tot he site than anything else, especially in light of the fact that the blog is primarily about libertarian politics.
I would have expected that of all the key words that might have led people to this site, "libertarian" should rank way up there. It doesn't. Way up at the top is "Victoria Snelgrove". She wasn't a candidate for office. She was the unfortunate college student killed by police in an attempt at crowd control after the Boston Red Sox eliminated the New York Yankees from the playoffs about a month ago.
I'm not one to get too hung up on this issue. Sure, it's dismaying that more people were interested in some tidbit about an innocent bystander than, say, insider insights on a candidate for governor, but that's our culture. Most bloggers who've been around long enough have as their number one draw the Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident. They may have said as little as, 'gosh, I don't know what all the fuss is about Janet Jackson's exposure on the Super Bowl'. The right words on a google search, and enough links to other websites, and voila! Your blog is at the top of the google search results!
Very well. Let me say the following with nothing more than an eye towards google traffic:
I don't give a rip about the Laci Peterson case. I don't care that Scott Peterson was found guilty yesterday. Don't get me wrong- if a man is guilty of killing his pregnant wife, I have a tiny feeling of satisfaction that the criminal justice system works. It's just that I find it incredibly dismaying that as many people were hanging on to the outcome of this trial as to the outcome of the Presidential election. I loathe the fact that so many people remained glued to the sets sufficient that CNN, Fox News, and CNBC have shown wire-to-wire coverage and analysis of these high-profile idiot cases, from OJ Simpson on to this wretched case.
Let's see what kind of traffic flows.
Friday, November 12, 2004
The most significant bit of analysis comes out of counting noses. The GOP won going away.
New Governor: Republican Mitch Daniels
State House majority: GOP
State Senate majority: GOP
For years, Hoosiers have heard the following from Republicans regarding taxes and spending:
"Give us the tools, we'll do the job".
OK, you got the tools. Let's see what you can do, GOP.
My money is on the job not getting done. My bet is that nothing will be cut. Programs and bureaus will not go away. The Republican Party simply is not serious about being fiscal conservatives. Those Hoosiers who are will be sorely disappointed that their votes failed to bring the lower taxes they wanted.
There is only one true home for fiscal conservatives in Indiana: the Libertarian Party.
This will be proven over and over again in the next four years. Mark my words.
Monday, November 08, 2004
There is much analysis that has been running through my mind in the wake of the recent elections. I could blog the major party stuff, but why bother? It's all been done to death elsewhere. I'm happier to present analysis that won't be available elsewhere.
To wit, hadn't anyone in the Badnarik For President team ever seen the Austin Powers movies? One of the classic moments in the film is when Dr. Evil hatches his first crime plan after 30 years in the freezer. He looks for a ransom of, say it with me while raising your pinky finger to your lips, "one millllllllion dollars".
Team Badnarik made a big deal about their 'massive' fundraising hitting the 'magical' figure of, say it with me while raising your pinky finger to your lips, "one millllllllion dollars".
Throw me a frickin' bone! Had Team Badnarik been frozen for 30 years? The major party candidates for Attorney General in Indiana raised more than our presidential candidate. Crimony!
Team Badnarik did give us some excellent stats, though. They showed how much each candidate 'paid' per vote. From the Badnarik website:
Bush/Cheney $4.40 per vote
Kerry/Edwards $3.86 per vote
Nader $3.19 per vote
Badnarik $2.88 per vote
What you see is that the costs per vote are very similar. What you must deduce is that you get what you pay for.
If Badnarik raised $10 million dollars, I have no doubt that he would have received far more votes than the paltry sum recorded. It might not have been a direct correlation of 10 times more money = 10 times more votes. But heck, 10 times more money = 5 times more votes = a new record for votes for a Libertarian presidential candidate.
In 2008, it CANNOT be enough to nominate a candidate who simply wins the debate at the convention. It MUST be a serious focus that the nominee is committed to 21th Century fundraising, rather than 1960s level fundraising.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
The presidential election is obviously going to be close. The polls have consistently shown Bush ahead in the popular vote, but as we've arrived at this day, that lead has been slipping. In the past day or so, polls have been showing Kerry ahead in the projected Electoral vote.
We could be facing a most interesting scenario should Bush win the popular vote, and Kerry win the Electroal vote and the Presidency.
After four years of Democrats wailing about how unfair it is that a man can become President via the Electoral College while losing the popular vote, can we expect:
1. Democrats would now say that the process works and is fair?
2. Republicans would keep their mouths shut after four years of telling Democrats that it was fair in 2000?
I'm afraid that the closer this thing is, the worse the country will be for it. I can't imagine either Bush or Kerry coming away with a whole lot of confidence from the people, let alone a mandate. No matter who wins, it appears that there will be lawsuits and bickering a-plenty. No matter who wins, the other side will say 'selected, not elected'. I see the printing of 'Re-defeat Kerry' stickers happening tonight, hitting websites tomorrow morning.
There was something honorable in Richard Nixon's withdrawl from the process in 1960 after John F. Kennedy defeated him by a razor-thin margin. Nixon backed away immediately, conceding to Kennedy on the grounds that a challenge would have been bad for the country.
I already know that it is too much to ask of either the Bush or Kerry camps to have as much honor as that. Yet another reason to do the King Solomon thing, and vote Libertarian!
Monday, November 01, 2004
Too often, I have been told by people that they really do agree with most of what the average Libertarian candidate says, but they just can't bring themselves to vote Libertarian because that candidate has no chance of winning, making it a wasted vote.
If every person who has ever told me that actually voted Libertarian, there would be some radically different outcomes, and you wouldn't see it as a wasted vote. You would wish you had done it sooner.
If you do largely agree with the LP, but are picking Bush or Kerry, Daniels or Kernan, or any Democrat or Republican instead of voting Libertarian because who you are picking is not his opponent, you will be sorely disappointed if your fall-back choice does win. Small-government voters who vote Bush instead of Badnarik will get bigger government anyway. Anti-war voters who vote Kerry will get war anyway. Etc.
Worse, you will have sent the message to the parties that they don't have to change a thing. They have your support, and the proof is your vote. In fact, the only way to tell them that they need to change is to vote Libertarian. In fact, the only vote that is truly wasted is one cast for a candidate you can only begrudgingly support.
Indiana's gubernatorial race is exciting for the object lesson that will come of it. Democratic incumbent Joe Kernan has stated his unwavering support for the construction of a new section of I-69, through new terrain, including wetlands. There are many voters who hold the environment as their number one issue, and they normally vote Democrat. These voters are deeply disappointed by Kernan's position. Some will waste their vote, and support Kernan anyway. Those who are disgusted enough by Kernan will vote for Libertarian candidate Kenn Gividen, the only candidate to oppose the new highway. The message will be sent to Kernan and the Democrats that environmental voters must not be ignored. When Kernan loses by 1-2%, and he sees that he lost 3% to Gividen, he and his party will get it. No longer will Democratic candidates for Indiana governor ignore the environment.
One thing to remember is that no matter if you are a Democrat, a Republican, or a Libertarian, you probably do not agree 100% with your candidates. Libertarians generally agree on principle, but that's no wonder, as there is a libertarian philosophy behind the Libertarian Party. Still, I will scratch vote rather than go straight ticket Libertarian. The argument for scratch voting is more compelling for liberals and conservatives, because the choices are less clear due to the great variety throughout the major parties. For instance, Democratic Senator Evan Bayh from Indiana is easily more conservative than Ohio's Republican Governor Bob Taft. Indiana Democrats can vote for Kerry and Bayh, but why would they? Heck- Bayh advertises how much he voted with the President! Actually, it's pretty easy to waste your vote going straight ticket Democrat or Republican.
Win or lose, voting isn't about picking a winner, although you hope your views are in the majority. Voting is about exercising your conscience.
To all of the people who voted for Al Gore in 2000? Was your vote wasted? You know that your candidate didn't win, so, would your vote have been better placed if it had been cast for Bush? Didn't think so. No, your conscience was with Gore. You made the right choice, even if it did end in defeat.
Vote your conscience. Let the results fall as they may.
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Myth: If a Libertarian is elected, government will devolve into anarchy and chaos.
Let's start large. Let's get way out there in the hypothetical and say LP presidential candidate Michael Badnarik pulls the greatest upset in the history of the Republic, and wins a majority in the Electoral College. What happens next? Libertarians are opposed to most government spending. Won't it immediately stop?
No. While the President has the ability to veto any spending bill that crosses his desk, President Badnarik would face the very strong possibility that the Congress would override his veto. The words President Badnarik chooses to explain his veto would be crucial. If he says, "I will veto any bill that does not eliminate 90% of all spending," he can be assured that his veto would be overriden. The Democrats and Republicans at long last would sing "Kumbaya" on Capitol Hill with a new sense of common ground. However, if Badnarik took a much more reasonable approach, saying, " I will veto any bill that does not reduce spending by 5%," he would probably win the day. The Congress must be negoiated with, no matter which party the President is from. This is one of the checks and balances.
The same logic applies to any states gubernatorial races. If Kenn Gividen should win in Indiana, he would have very little ability to turn the place upside down. A Libertarian President or Governor would have little choice but to work in coalition with the other parties on an issue-by-issue basis, or he would suffer being run roughshod over by the various houses of the legislatures.
Let's go to the Congress. Let's say Libertarian Senatorial candidate Al Barger pulls the upset of the century, snagging38% of the vote, with Evan Bayh (D) taking 37% and Marvin Scott (R) getting 25%. Unless there are other upsets-of-the-century in other states, and assuming that all other seats stay the same (less Bayh's loss), there would then be 1 Libertarian, 1 Independent (Jeffords), 47 Democrats, and 51 Republicans. List of US Senators. You could expect virtually no change in policy outcomes. Any time the GOP wanted to vote strictly along party lines, it could still arrive at a simple majority, so long as their Senators played along. Barger could make life interesting by introducing bills, or by speaking on the floor. Simply introducing a bill does not assure that it would ever be voted on. If there aren't enough co-sponsors, or isn't enough general support, it might never come out of committee- assuming it got that far at all.
At the House of Representatives, one Libertarian is even more diffused, as there are 435 US Reps.
By now, rather than potential chaos at the hands of a Libertarian, you probably see futility. That's one of the beautiful things about the nature of American government. No one person can run much of anything through alone.
A President needs the broad backing of the legislature and the American people, and it doesn't matter what party that President comes from. A maverick President cannot be. The President must build coalition and win support. President Clinton learned this lesson early in his first term. He tried to make an issue of gay Americans serving in the military, but he quickly found out that he did not have broad support. No matter the depth of his convictions, he could not have ram-rodded policy into place. His own party heard from the citizens back home and let Clinton know that he was barking up the wrong tree. President Bush is seen as a go-it-alone President, but the fact is, he had enough support in the Congress and with the American people to take the country to war. If the legislators from either party- Republican or Democrat- had heard sufficient opposition to the war, they would have reacted accordingly: Democrats emboldened, Republicans weak at the knees. That it hasn't happened even yet explains why Bush marches on, and Kerry describes his 'anti-war' approach as adding more troops, spending more money, and bring more nations on board.
So, why bother voting for someone who can't run an agenda through? Because there is more to the game than running an agenda in immediately.
The President has the bully pulpit. When he speaks, people listen worldwide. Ronald Reagan taught any President how to defeat the Congress: Take your plan to the people first. If they support it broadly, the Congress is in a tough spot to be against it. Astute Presidents select slam-dunk issues in their first 100 days so as to build trust with the Congress and the American people. President Badnarik would have to be more politically astute than any President to have proceeded him because you have to bet that both parties would relish the opportunity to take him down. It might involve building coalition with a majority party in one of the houses. It might be acting on extremely safe initiatives- if any could be called that.
A Badnarik victory would send a huge message to Democrats and Republicans. It could mean that there was an issue Badnarik enunciated more clearly than the others; or he was on the side of an important issue both of the other candidates were on the other side of (the war again comes to mind); or the major parties alienated their bases sufficiently that enough went to Badnarik in protest. In any case, the strategists for the parties would have to analyze why things went as they did. They would learn to re-claim the issues they muffed, or the bases they alienated. They would have to, or lose them forever.
Of course, there is the craziest reason to vote Libertarian of all: you believe in the libertarian philosophy, and would exercise your conscience.
Libertarians can win high office, especially if that happens.
Now that the Boston Red Sox are on the verge of their first World Series victory since 1918, I thought the time was right to point out that the Red Sox are merely the Evil Empire little brother of the New York Yankees. Sacrilege? Keep reading.
The Yankees are rained down with scorn and derision for what? Their great success? Yes, but in large part because Yankee Boss George Steinbrenner has paid top dollar for top talent. The accusation is that the Yankees buy Penants and Series wins.
If this was the basis for rooting for the Red Sox, or more accurately, against the Yankees, take a moment to look at the Red Sox line-up. None of their top players were drafted by Boston, or have come up through the Red Sox farm system. Schilling, Martinez, Ramirez- all came via high dollar free agency signings, which is exactly how the Yankees build. Only lower-profile players Jason Veritek and Trot Nixon are Red Sox lifers.
If you are a true fan of the underdog, heaven help you. You are stuck with the Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers. These teams will wait far longer than the Red Sox have had to for their World Series victory, due to the way of baseball economics.
I am not a true fan of the underdog. I have no pity for Bostonians or Red Sox fans. I actually like star-studded teams like the Yankees and Red Sox. I've been an Indians fan for years, and I've tasted some pretty horrible baseball in my life. The late 90s were a welcome relief to, well, all of the previous years of my life, suffering through the likes of Rich Yett, Jerry Dybzynski, and Larvell Blanks. The Sox may not have won it all, but at least they have fielded some great players- Williams, Yaz, Fisk, Rice, Martinez- and generally competitive teams throughout their history. They have scarcely done penance as compared to fans in some cities like Arlington, Cleveland, Milwaukee, and Montreal. Sorry, Montreal! You go from Purgatory to Limbo!
Boston is hardly a suffering sports city. The Patriots have won two of the last three Super Bowls, and 20 games in a row. The Celtics dynasty ranks with the top sports dynasties anywhere, anytime. Prior to the Bruins recent woes, they had made the NHL playoffs 27 seasons in a row. Cleveland has to be first in line on a misery scale.
Of course, the Yankees had a 3-0 lead on the Red Sox just last week...
Thursday, October 21, 2004
I'm not quite sure where or when the notion came to pass that victory by your team meant license to become temprary anarchists. It's high time the victory intoxicated mob nonsense came to an end.
The response to the improbable series comeback by the Boston Red Sox over the New York Yankees was actually relatively tame as modern mob celebrations go. That's sad commentary, because in addition to the setting of small fires and general rowdiness, there was a fatality. Per ESPN:
Victoria Snelgrove, a 21-year-old journalism major at Emerson College, was among 16 people hurt in the revelry. The injured also included a police officer.
Most of the injuries were minor, but Snelgrove suffered a severe head wound as police tried to subdue the crowd, authorities said.
This next quote ranks up there with the Bushisms.
Mayor Tom Menino told WBZ-AM that Snelgrove, of East Bridgewater, was struck by a "non-lethal weapon," but he did not elaborate. The Boston Globe reported that Snelgrove was hit by a "bean-bag" bullet. After Snelgrove was found lying outside Fenway Park bleeding from the head, the Globe reported she was taken to Brigham and Women's Hospital, which said she died at 12:50 p.m
Mr. Mayor, if someone dies at the hands of a weapon, it is most certainly not a non-lethal weapon.
The idiocy was not limited to Boston. Since some of the Sox players are Dominican, people on the island took it as an excuse to fire their guns into the sky.
The Red Sox's victory prompted raucous celebrations across the Dominican, home to Pedro Martinez and ALCS MVP David Ortiz. Shooting in the air is customary during sports celebrations in the Caribbean country.
A sleeping 13-year-old boy was shot in the leg when a bullet tore through the zinc roof of his home in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo, police spokesman Gen. Simon Diaz said.
One other person was injured in Santo Domingo, as were two in the central city of Santiago and two in the southeastern coastal city of La Romana, Diaz said.
I'll never forgt my own experiences living in a Cleveland slum neighborhood. In 1997, the Indians defeated the New York Yankees in the AL Championship, earning the team's first trip to the World Series since 1954. Folks from around the 'hood celebrated similarly, firing their weapons in the air, some of them fully automatic. I stayed in the basement for several hours. It was one of many experiences that led me to furiously save my money so that I could escape that place.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Libertarians are often blown off as a trifle or a distraction, accused of being not serious candidates.
The Democrats and Republicans. These are the gold standard. This is what you should aspire to!
One of the serious Democrats got into serious trouble recently in Wayne County. It seems that Wayne County Council candidate Alex Calkins was arrested after stealing some items from the local WalMart.
Truly a Democrat, he admitted to trying to steal some bagels, but that the alcohol and cleaning supplies were the work of an accomplice. Richmond Pal-Item report.
Truly not serious, Calkins is quoted as saying, "I still hope to get this position".
I hope the voters have more sense than that in Wayne County.
Sunday, October 17, 2004
After all of the wrangling about trying to be included in the second Indiana Gubernatorial debate, the event has now come and gone, and Libertarian Kenn Gividen acquitted himself well. First impressions time.
Two main differences come immediately to mind:
- Kenn is the only candidate running a clean campaign
- Kenn is the only candidate willing to say that he stands for cutting the size and cost of government
Daniels surprised me with his willingness to leave the possibility of raising taxes on the table when faced with the problem of repairing the budget deficit. Kernan did not surprise me by dancing around the question of how to pay for things.
Kenn's closing statements were terrific. He used the analogy of two cars on the wrong side of the road representing the Democrats and Republicans. One is going slower than the other, but both are going the wrong way. He made the case that for anyone wanting real changes, a vote for Ds or Rs is the real wasted vote, and that the only way to send the message is to vote for him and to vote Libertarian.
Couldn't agree more.
Friday, October 15, 2004
The idea was to shut out Kenn Gividen and the Libertarians. The result was to give us more positive, sympathetic press than we could have bought with a million dollars. Observe:
First news report headline: "It's Kernan vs. Daniels in round 2". LP response: "Outraged Libertarians say they are considering a lawsuit. "This is horrible," said Brad Klopfenstein, executive director of the Indiana Libertarian Party. "We're not going to take this lying down." Indy Star report.
Later that day, the Star filed a report on the reversal. "Libertarians protested the exclusion of their candidate, with Gividen saying he believed voters were being cheated out of hearing from all those on the Nov. 2 ballot. "The voters need to hear our message," he said Tuesday. "As of last night we thought we were kicked out of the debate." Tuesday morning, though, he said he turned on the radio "and all they were talking about was me."
Both the Ds & Rs tried to take credit for wanting Gividen included, and blamed the other side. "I just want to make it very clear to the Libertarian Party: I've always thought it was fine for Kenn Gividen to be in the next debate," Daniels said. Tew then blamed Daniels. "Those guys tried to keep him out of the first debate. They're doing the backstroke better than Michael Phelps," he said. "We wanted him in from the beginning." Star article, Parties Now Say Three's Company.
Editorial headline from the Richmond Pal-Item: Inviting all candidates is right choice. Body: "The campaigns for Democratic Gov. Joe Kernan and Republican Mitch Daniels were correct to reverse an earlier decision that would have excluded Libertarian Kenn Gividen. Although it took demonstrations in Indianapolis by Libertarian Party members to bring about the change, it was the right thing to do. They should not have tried to exclude Gividen in the first place. Any party that is able to successfully show it has the needed support to get on the statewide ballot deserves full consideration for its candidates."
Editorial text from the Muncie Star Press: "Indiana's gubernatorial camps have again admitted the Libertarians to their exclusive club, thus avoiding further embarrassment over their "back-of-the-bus" treatment of the party's governor candidate, Kenn Gividen. Gividen had appeared at the first governor's debate, along with Democrat Joe Kernan and Republican Mitch Daniels. His inclusion didn't seem to harm the debate, and might have improved it in isolated spots. But the major-party forces wanted to ban Gividen from the second (and final) debate, Sunday in New Albany, preferring to keep all attention directed at themselves. Outraged Libertarians complained, sent angry letters to newspapers and said they were considering a lawsuit. "The voters have been cheated," Gividen charged. "The Republicans and Democrats are playing the same old game." Even Indiana University Southeast at New Albany, host of the debate, wavered over the fairness issue, at one point indicating it might deny use of the building unless Gividen was included. Public facilities, by their nature, dislike exclusionary tactics. The same concern caused the public broadcasting station involved in debate negotiations (WFYI, Channel 20 at Indianapolis) to side with the Libertarians."
Lafayette Journal and Courier headline: Keep room for three in governor's debate. Text: "The setup, as Daniels and Kernan envisioned it, might have been pragmatic. But it was lame, too.
Libertarians worked diligently in the past two decades to organize and guarantee their place on the state ballot. They have been equally diligent to field competent candidates who can articulate their views without so much of the flaky aftertaste attributed to Libertarians of the past. Gividen is proof of that, holding his own and offering some logical solutions to state problems that Hoosiers should hear -- even if they're inclined to think a Libertarian vote would be a wasted one. Gividen deserves a place at the debate on Sunday. Kernan and Daniels should have known that all along."
Thanks, D's & R's! Couldn't have done it without you!
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
The Republicans and Democrats conspired to exclude Libertarian candidate Kenn Gividen from the second televised gubernatorial debate after including him in the first. The idea, no doubt, was to crowd out interesting, fresh ideas to Indiana's problems.
This strategy backfired on them. The Libertarian publicity machine was underestimated. The message was simple: dignify the deomcratic process and included Gividen, for the benefit of the people of Indiana and for the LP. Press releases went out, letters went to the editors of newspapers across the state, and talk radio stations were flooded with calls. Calls went to the hosting university and TV stations, along with the HQs of the Daniels and Kernan campaigns. Had the debate included Gividen from the beginning, he would have appeared and that would have been that. Instead, the exclusion of Kenn Gividen was the story of the day. The LP was the sympathetic character, and the Democrats and Republicans the evil conspirators. The LP got a huge publicity bump that they couldn't have purchased.
LP Executive Director Brad Klopfenstein quickly called for a press conference for Noon today, to be held on the Monument downtown. It was well attended, adding to the sympathetic publicity.
Quickly, the two other camps have caved to the pressure. Gividen will be included after all. First Indy Star story.
Observe the nonsense Kernan and Daniels wring hands over- risers to make the two men appear as tall as Gividen. Pathetic.
Monday, October 11, 2004
The Democrats and Republicans have a nice little game going. They control the action, excluding anyone that sounds remotely outside their narrow, marginally differentiated products, trivializing these (all sneer now) fringe, third-party radicals at every turn. Libertarians, Greens, Socialists, Constitution Party advocates- you are all RC Cola to the domination of the Coke and Pepsi that are the Republicans and Democrats.
The 2004 Presidential debates have been the exclusive domain of the R's and D's. In their frustration, Libertarian Michael Badnarik has staged debates with Green David Cobb, with the Socialist and CP candidate. The frustration level peaked for Badnarik and Cobb such that they were arrested in St. Louis together, trying to crash the recent debate. Didn't hear much about it? The press is in on it, too.
Indiana is a little different. The Libertarian Party has automatic ballot access and polls consistently better than any other third party in the US. In the LPIN's 2002 ballot access race, Rebecca Sink-Burris earned just under 5% of the statewide vote, gaining better than 7% in four Hoosier counties.
So, it was not surprising when the LPIN gubernatorial candidate, Kenn Gividen, was included at a recent televised debate at small Franklin College. It was surprising that Republican challenger Mitch Daniels complimented Gividen five times during the debate.
Apparently, the Democrats took sharp notice of that. The second Indiana gubernatorial debate is scheduled for this Sunday, to take place in little New Albany, on the campus of IU southeast. This time, Gividen has been excluded in a decision driven by the incumbent Democratic governor, Joe Kernan, and agreed to by the Daniels campaign. The exclusion was so thorough that Gividen wasn't even part of the negotiations. He had to learn about it from the manager of the PBS affiliate hosting the debate.
It's curious that at once the Libertarian party is trivialized by the D's & R's, and yet, we're great enough a threat to shut out. Of course, Gividen was getting great press. A prime example is new-terrain I-69. Long-time Democrats furious with Kernan for failing to protect the environment, proposing a new highway through wetlands, woods, and farmland. From Monday's Indy Star, in an article titled "Environmental Concerns Taking a Back Seat":
"The only major point on which the candidates differ is how to pay for the new road -- Kernan says he'll fight for more federal funding; Daniels said he might consider toll roads.
But if the new roadway is not a campaign issue for the two major candidates, it certainly is for many Hoosiers -- some of whom are supporting Libertarian candidate Kenn Gividen, who opposes the route.
John Smith is director and founder of COUNT US!, a Solsberry-based group that opposes the route. "This is the first year I've not called myself a Democrat, and I'm a third-generation Democrat," Smith said. "I've looked at this issue for three years now, and I'm opposed to it on the same grounds as most people: It doesn't make sense to me."
John Maier lives in Hardinsburg, in Orange County -- nowhere near the proposed route -- but he's so angry that it would cut through environmentally sensitive areas that he may vote for Gividen. If he decides to vote for one of the major candidates, however, Daniels is probably his man, simply because he wants to send a message to Kernan."
When you're a governor up for re-election, the prospect of losing a constituency you thought you could take for granted can wreck your whole day. What to do? Honor the democratic process? Or crush the opposition like an ant under your heel?
It isn't merely the Libertarians who are being ripped off by two campaigns taking the low road. The public loses, as the issues that Gividen has given sole voice to, such as opposition to new terrain I-69, public school reform, and cutting the size of government, will disappear.
All sorts of ethical questions are raised by this insult to democracy:
Don’t the people of Indiana have the right to hear the positions of all three candidates on the ballot from the same stage?
Kernan and Daniels are candidates for Governor, the highest office in the state. Shouldn’t these men have more respect for the Democratic process in order to be fit to lead?
Should publicly funded property, such as IU Southeast, be offered up to Kernan and Daniels as a campaign contribution?
Shouldn’t public PBS broadcast outlets such as WFYI and WTIU put the public interest of the voters first instead of accommodating Kernan and Daniels? These two already buy millions of dollars worth of commercial time and air infomercials. Is there any shortage of exposure for them?
When business conspires in the way Kernan and Daniels have, it is called collusion, and it is illegal. When two candidates for Governor do this, it is beneath the prestige of the office they seek, and it is ugly.
Accountability is necessary, and it is the job of the Secretary of State to ensure fair elections. Secretary of State Todd Rokita has an obligation to investigate the collusion of the Kernan and Daniels campaigns and to reverse the exclusion of Gividen.
Again- it isn’t merely the Libertarians who are being ripped off. All Hoosiers have a right to hear each candidate in the debate. All people who believe in fair elections and the democratic process will eagerly action from Mr. Rokita.
These principles apply in all 50 states. Demand the inclusion of all candidates who are on the ballot in all debates!
I can generally tell who I am talking to by how they peg me. If I am called a right-winger, I know that I have someone on the line who self-identifies as a left-liberal. Same thing the other way. Problem is, it doesn't work. I'm neither left nor right. I'm a libertarian.
David Nolan, founder of the Libertarian Party, recognized this shortcoming in the left-right political spectrum and devised what is often now referred to as the Nolan Chart. Rather than being a linear device, it is diamond shaped. It includes the traditional "left-liberal" and "right-conservative", but adds "centrist", "libertarian" and "statist".
Adding these three designations makes the identification process imminently more useful. Consider: Using the old left-right spectrum, would you call Hitler a left-winger or a right-winger? Given only those two choices, I would answer, "Yes". Hitler was obviously an authoritarian statist.
The Advocates for Smaller Government host "the World's Smallest Political Quiz". I plot libertarian, but to the left side of the libertarian designation, 100-90.
Take the Quiz and see if the left-right approach hasn't in fact let you down in terms of your own self-identification.
Friday, October 08, 2004
Bush and Kerry debate again tonight, and I'll be watching this time- mainly because I'll be in the Fox-59 TV studios watching, and then giving opinions on the performances of the two after they conclude.
It should be another nice chance to let people know that there are more than two Presidential candidates on the ballot in Indiana, and across the US.
Thanks for visiting my blog. I'm betting that most visitors are here as a result of my recent Blogcritics debate with Natalie Davis.
If you agreed with the things I said, and the Libertarian perspective, I'd like to ask you to do some things:
- Vote for Libertarian candidates on Tuesday, November 2, in the General Election
- Join the Libertarian Party and become active in your local party
- Get yard signs and bumper stickers promoting Libertarian candidates and display them
- Consider running for office as a Libertarian candidate in the next election cycle
I'm doing all of these things, and I find it very rewarding. If you agree with the Libertarian perspective, I have no doubt that you will derive great value and satisfaction as well.
Here are some Indiana LP links: Gubernatorial candidate Kenn Gividen; LPIN Central Committee District 5 Rep Chris Ward's blog; US Senate candidate Al Barger's (L-IN) candidate page; the Libertarian Party of Indiana page; Indiana candidates.
Thursday, October 07, 2004
The debate took place, and there was a lot of agreement between Natalie Davis (and independent who represented the Green Party) and myself. It wasn't total agreement, of course. Where there was disagreement, it was sharp and nearly diametric opposition. Still, to those only aware of left-right, Republican-Democrat, our positions had to be eye-opening. The transcript, with site visitor comments.
We covered a lot of ground: Iraq/foriegn policy, unemployment/outsourcing of jobs, war on drugs, human rights/equality, democracy, and even the Pledge of Allegience. I wish we had gotten into health care, but you can't solve all the world's problems in one sitting.
Thanks to Blogcritics' Dawn Olsen for inviting me to participate and for moderating. Thanks to Natalie for a spirited, even-handed debate.
Wednesday, October 06, 2004
My New York friends make fun of me for living in what they alternately call 'flyover country' and 'Indianowhere'. I tend to fight them tooth and nail, reminding them we have some fine advantages here. For instance, it is not a liability to own a car here. Monthly parking can be paid for with coins instead of the equivalent of my mortgage payment.
Sometimes, the locals do things in support of your team that make you think, "I wish they were on the other side". Fortunately, it has been increasingly the case that the other teams have been caught being ridiculous far more than us. The latest? A Bedford, IN Kerry supporter who offered to place an anti-Bush tattoo on her head for the highest bid on Ebay.
I have been invited by the moderators of the Blogcritics website to represent the Libertarian view in an online debate with a member of the Green Party. I am a contributor to their site, and often post comments advocating libertarian solutions to policy issues.
Just like with the Presidential "debates", I guess I would prefer a round of debates that puts a Libertarian along with the D's and R's, because these are the three parties on the ballot throughout the US. But hey- I'm not complaining. Any chance to further the libertarian message with a significant audience is a great idea in my book.
This will probably happen on Thursday evening. Check Blogcritics for updates!
Sunday, October 03, 2004
Libertarian Presidential candidate Michael Badnarik's personal touch has improved enormously since his 2nd 2004 Indiana visit back in April (this one was his 4th), where he scarcely mingled throughout the room to ask people for their support and votes. Now he does just that, seeking out every person he hasn't yet spoken to. He joked about how he has media in four locations claiming him as their own, with local-boy-does-well stories.
Of course, he was on the trail, giving his stump speech, seeking financial support. Badnarik's entire presentation was extemporaneous. He has Iraq as his top issue, with the economy as his second. Unlike Kerry's "opposition" to Bush, Badnarik in unequivocal in the Iraq adventure as a mistake, not to be corrected by a lengthier, more expensive stay, but by getting out. He took questions from the crowd, and would have done Q&A all night had I allowed him to go on.
A nice event yesterday. A couple drove all the way from St. Louis to see Badnarik, along with another couple from the southern Indiana border. A full room, with many LP candidates and state officials present, along with other supporters.
I had the honor of introducing him to the crowd, reminding them and the reporters present that unlike Bush and Kerry, Michael Badnarik is still campaigning across the 50 states, not just Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.
I thanked him for his visit and told him that it was important to me as a county chair that he is continuing to go to non-swing states like Indiana. After all, a visit like this boosts the state and local parties, and especially the local candidates. That's what matters to a county chair. Pity the D's and R's here, who couldn't get their candidates to visit Hamilton County under any circumstances.
Friday, October 01, 2004
I received a pile of emails asking my opinion of the debate. Bummer- I didn't watch. I actually had some fairly pressing business to attend to.
Even if I had the time, though, I wouldn't have watched. Simple reasons: The "debate" wasn't going to be a debate, but rather, a two-headed infomercial. Libertarian Michael Badnarik, despite being on the ballot in 48 states, wasn't included.
Collusion isn't pretty when business does it to rip off the public. It's even uglier when two candidates for President do it.
Thursday, September 30, 2004
Libertarians from Indiana, and even central Illinios and Ohio will have a chance to meet and support LP Presidential candidate and native Hoosier Michael Badnarik in Noblesville this Saturday, October 2 at 7:00pm. Badnarik will be winding down his 2-day tour through Indiana at Lutz's Steakhouse on SR32 about halfway between downtown Noblesville and Westfield. The event is free and open to the public, although there is a suggested minimum donation of $25. There will be a cash bar and hors d'eouvers. While not required (anyone can drop in!) the state party is looking for RSVPs from those planning to attend. Call 317-920-1994.
Several other LP candidates and officials will be on hand, including Michael's mother, Elaine Badnarik. Elaine is the LP's candidate for Lieutenant Governor.
I'm glad that Badnarik is coming here now, because here we are in the thick of the campaign season, and national issues aren't being as hotly discussed in Indiana as they are in Ohio, Florida, Iowa, and New Mexico. Nothing wrong with Indiana, but everything wrong with how campaigns wind down, and a bit of a criticism of the Electoral College system. Both Bush and Kerry know via polls that Indiana is a red state. Nothing Kerry does or says will change this, so he has given up on campaigning here. Bush is comfortable enough that he won't bother campaigning here either. It makes perfect sense for them to chase after the close states and ignore the ones that are certain. There is no advantage in taking a 60-40 victory in Indiana and turn it into a 70-30 win. It's still 11 electoral votes, and Bush and Kerry know they belong to Bush. Great strategy, but not so great for a population to be utterly ignored by the top of the ticket. Thank goodness for Badnarik.
It will be interesting to hear the issues he chooses to discuss. He doesn't seem to favor any one over another. If I had my druthers, I'd have him hammer away on taxes, spending, and the economy. We'll see.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Sure, I'm biased. That doesn't mean that I can't say that Libertarian candidate for governor won his debate with sitting Governor Joe Kernan (D) and Mitch Daniels (R). He did. He struggled at first, thanks to an uncooperative sore throat, but once he hit his stride, Kenn was on. Of course, as a former preacher, he feels at home behind the lecturn. C-Span footage. Debate transcript. Review.
Gividen's ideas struck many observers as novel and innovative. (It struck me as odd, though, that Kenn was the only candidate to tout his own website.) In fact, Kenn was convincing enough to have Daniels compliment him during the debate five times. This is a big deal.
Traditionally, Democrats and Republicans marginalize Libertarians and other third party candidates by ignoring their presence. Kernan took this tack, only acknowledging Kenn once, and then strictly as an opponent. But Daniels said plainly that he felt that Kenn had good ideas in his approach to education.
This makes Daniels the runner-up. It isn't because he was the nice guy to my guy. It's that he isn't so full of himself to think that he is the only one with a good idea, nor too stuck up to give nod to an opponent. Nobody has it all right or all wrong, and I appreciate the reality check Daniels provided.
The acknowledgements could not have gone unnoticed, which should do wonders for our credibility.
Another way Kenn won was in strictly presenting his ideas as worthy of consideration, never criticizing his opponents personally. Meanwhile, Kernan and Daniels were increasingly negative throughout the debate, leaving Kenn above the fray. Negative campaigning has done nothing but hurt candidates here in Indiana. The display of Kernan and Daniels could benefit Kenn significantly.
At least, that's my hope. For now, I'll savor Kenn's showing.
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
I'm going by what I saw and heard in Denmark, without any fact checking research, so take it with a grain of salt. These are just a handful of quick-hitters.
The Danes have a parliament and a monarchy, and seem to like it that way. Monarchy seems terribly outdated to most Americans, since that's the kind of government we overthrew in 1776. The Royal Family are figureheads, just like the British Royal Family: well-paid, un-taxed, and truly hyper-priveleged. It's a source of national pride to Danes, and they want to keep the system in place. The recent divorce hoopla surrounding the Prince and Princess has done nothing to diminish support for the monarchy.
The average Dane loses 78% of his income to taxes. They are the most highly taxed nation on the planet. They like it that way. American readers are now bewildered. In exchange for this tax rate, there is true cradle-to-grave assistance, in everything from health care to education, including university studies.
For those who would point to the Danish free health care system, you should know this: well-off Danes don't use the free system, just as well-off Americans don't go to Wishard in Indy, unless it's a dire emerency. They go to private doctors for faster, more reputable care. The majority of Ame's Danish relatives are doctors, by the way, and Ame toured a hospital.
For my libertarian friends expecting stories of filthy, tubercular corridors in a callous, soviet-style barracks hospital, forget it. The average medical care is actually quite good, and the hospitals not unlike our own. I frankly expected worse. The questions I kept asking myself were surrounding the motivation. If it's all 'free', why bust your hump? What I observed is that the Danes have an outstanding work ethic and a thirst for learning. I'm know that there are welfare mooches in Denmark, especially in Copenhagen's Christiania, but not nearly to the extent you find in American cities. The sense of entitlement is there, but it is different in that the sense of wanting to contribute to society in order to earn the entitement is very strong.
Gasoline. They call it benzin there, pronounced "benzene". To fill a 12-gallon tank, you will spend $90 US dollars. Next time you want to wail and moan about the high price of gasoline here, remember that. I'll never forget it. I took a picture of the pump when I filled up.
Cars are not manufactured in Denmark, and the government is interested in directing traffic from cars to bicycles. If the price of benzin isn't high enough to pedal, maybe the tax on a new car will. It's 180%. That means a car that would have been $10,000 if tax-free costs $28,000 in Denmark. I marvelled at every Audi and Porsche I saw.
Americans sometimes complain about corporate dominance. Today it's Wal-Mart. Five years ago it was Microsoft. In five years, it will probably be some other entity. For the last 100 years or so, Maersk has been the undisputed top corporation. Maersk is a shipping giant, with a fleet of boats rivaled only by the US Navy. Of course, the Maersk fleet is made for shipping containers, the kind you often see eventually on rail cars and then pulled by trucks to their final destinations. How large is Maersk? The owner self-funded an opera house in Copenhagen as a gift to the nation, with the price tag said to be better than $400 million US dollars. I did not hear a single complaint about Maersk, even though I discussed the company with several people. It seems the Danes understand the value of a giant corporation.
Monday, September 27, 2004
Before Ame & I met with her grandmother, Virgie, and began our journey to Denmark so as to meet some of the relatives Ame had only ever heard about, Virgie read to us from an email. It laid out something of an itinerary for meeting various familie over the first five or six days of the trip. It had a tongue in cheek line along the lines of, "by then you will have tired of the Danes and will want to do some sightseeing".
That was all very amusing, but even though these are not my blood relatives, and I had really not even heard of any of the individuals, I did not tire of the Danes. I found them all extremely warm and hospitable, and enjoyed their company very much.
For me, the highlight of the trip was a dinner at a Copenhagen restaurant called Pedersen's. It is not far from the center of the city, located around the corner from the zoo. 33 relatives came from all over Denmark and even from Germany and Norway to share a meal and good cheer with their distant American cousins. Dining at this location was sentimentally important to Ame. Now that she has eaten at Pedersen's, six generations of Langmacks have done so.
I marvelled at how this extended family has kept in touch, considering the family tree. The connection between Ame and the Danes is her great-granfather, Holger Langmack. Holger and his wife emigrated to the US in the early 1920's, leaving five brothers and sisters behind. One of Holger's sisters married into the Glenthoj family. It was the Glenthoj's we were meeting. It can be hard enough keeping in touch with your siblings and the next generation sometimes. It is remarkable how the third generation after Holger's siblings are keeping in touch.
The Langmack US-Denmark connection remained strong. Holger Langmack is credited with starting the first Boy Scout troop in Denmark. Holger's son, Ame's grandfather Sven Langmack, was the Royal Danish Consulate in Cleveland. Now Sven's son, Ame's uncle Chris Langmack, is the Danish Consulate in Cleveland.
Chances are that with visits like these, the connection will remain strong. At Pedersen's, there was a call for a show of hands for all of those who had been to the US and stayed with Sven and Virgie in Cleveland. About 80% of the hands went up. Now they have a new destination, as everyone has been invited to stay with Ame & I here in Indiana.
Monday, September 13, 2004
Friday, September 10, 2004
DC two weeks ago, where to next? Denmark!
I never would have considered Denmark as a destination if it were not for Ame's Danish heritage. I still haven't been to England, after all, and would probably have chosen Italy, Switzerland, and Germany first. No matter. We fly to Copenhagen on Tuesday and will relax and meet extended family members she has never seen before.
It will be good to leave the politics behind for a short while prior to the big dance on November 2. As a county chair and state secretary, it's easy to get caught up in the action on a daily basis. As a non-candidate, I can't help but recognize that it comes at the expense of other things.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
Libertarian Kenn Gividen is running a fine campaign for Indiana Governor. For a third party candidate, the usual major obstacle is ballot access. Just ask Ralph Nader. Of course, here in Indiana, the LP has managed that issue. The next greatest obstacle is inclusion.
Kenn is being included in the only gubernatorial debate, along with incumbent Joe Kernan (D), and fellow challenger Mitch Daniels (R). Indy Star article. The debate will be held at Franklin College on Tuesday, September 28 at 7pm. They will air on WFYI-TV and WFYI-AM.
Interestingly, the Kernan campaign is taking credit for lobbying on behalf of Kenn:
"Kernan's campaign, (campaign manager Bernie) Toon said, insisted on Gividen being included, since Libertarian candidates were included in debates in 2000 and 1996."
Of course, the conventional wisdom is that any Libertarian candidate takes votes away from an Republican candidate, so I'm sure that this is the real motivation. That's fine. We'll take it.
Gividen's opponents take their own inclusion for granted. Being Coke and Pepsi will do that for you, I suppose. So what do they do with their own automatic inlcusion and dominance? One of today's Star editorials reveals that Kenn is the only gubernatorial candidate to have completed the Project Vote Smart's National Public Awareness Test. It isn't that the other guys are too busy. They're afraid to answer. Per the Star:
"It's not that either side claims bias in the survey or partisanship on behalf of Project Vote Smart. Political consultants in both parties, however, are advising their clients not to be specific about issues for fear of alienating voters or providing fodder for their opponents.
Such a dodge is unacceptable. Candidates must be willing to answer questions that reveal their stands on key issues. Voters should demand it."
Then again, voters should demand total inclusion. Alas... It takes time. A third party has to be three times as good in order to overcome the usual two-party-system biases held by the average American just to get to credibility. Kenn has done some things to help gain credibility with people that usually don't look to LP candidates to back.
Prime example is on the issue of new terrain I-69. Both Kernan and Daniels are in favor of it, while Gividen is against it. Environmental supporters are furious with Kernan for his position, and many are turning to Gividen.
Third parties with ballot access offer the opportunity to shake up the status quo. If not for Gividen, I-69 would be a dead issue. Sure, the Greens could try to make it a live one, but they lack ballot access, so Kernan and Daniels can ignore them out of hand. In league with the LP, the opponents of I-69 have a voice- one that must at least be observed and weighed carefully before being dismissed.
I'm still looking for Gividen to hit a home run on an issue where D's and R's are in agreement. I'm afraid that while I-69 is a good issue to build new bridges on, being seen as a regional issue, it does not hit home with all Hoosiers. In the meantime, I'm delighted with the new ground his campaign is covering.
Wednesday, September 08, 2004
It may seem incredibly premature, but I have declared my candidacy for Secretary of State in 2006.
Why so early? This is the single most important race to the Libertarian Party of Indiana, as it is the ballot access race. The LP's SoS candidate must earn at least 2% of the vote in order to assure automatic ballot access for the subsequent four years. I have no doubts about the ability to get 2%, either for myself or my party. After all Rebecca Sink-Burris got 4% in 2002.
My top objective is to become the prohibitive favorite to win the nomination as early as possible. In this way, the efforts behind this race become unified and focused as early as possible. No sense diverting time, energy, and dollars just in an attempt to win the nomination at the April '06 convention. I'd like to make it so that none will take an interest in facing off against me. To secure it early, I will have to built a top-notch team and build a formidible war chest. I can do these things now without interfering with current campaigns, looking for support from family and friends who are not involved in '04 campaigns.
First blush campaign goals: New records for an LPIN candidate in a statewide race: Minimum 10% finish, minimum $100,000 raised, minimum 10 new county affiliates brought aboard.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
One of my favorite aspects of the recently concluded Olympiad in Athens concerned the make-up of the various national teams. I enjoyed seeing NBA stars don the jersey of their native country and play the style of game they play at home. As the NBA gradually becomes more international, the flavor of the game improves.
Of course, the NBA has nothing on the NHL in terms of international flavor. The top pro hockey league may play in North America, and be the Canadian national pasttime, but no longer do the majority of players come from Canada. Europe contributes more players than the United States, and not mere role players, but superstars such as Peter Forsberg, Marian Gaborik, Jaromir Jagr, Sergei Federov, and Mats Sundin.
Prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain, Olympic hockey watchers knew they were seeing awesome teams from the Soviet Union, Sweden, and Czechoslovakia, but really didn't know the players. If you were a hockey fan watching Olympic play just 15 years ago, you were watching one set of flag-inspired jerseys skate against another, as the unknown American & Canadian amateurs skated against the unknown Soviet Bloc pros. Now there is an intimacy of knowledge of all teams, as generally the top two lines and the goaltender are NHL stars.
This would make watching this year's World Cup of Hockey exciting enough for the average hockey fan, but with the NHL and its players union lacking a collective bargaining agreement, the 2004-05 season is in serious jeopardy, giving the real possibility that the Cup series may be the only top-level hockey we'll see until September 2005.
All eyes are on Mario Lemieux, the player-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins who is the captain of the Canadian team. Now age 38, Lemieux has gone through a huge range of physical maladies, from hip and back problems to Hodgkin's Disease, and has persevered lately just to keep his team alive. Without a season ahead, Lemieux might call it quits for good after this Cup.
The games air in the US on ESPN2, and in Canada on CBC. The games run through Tuesday, September 14's championship game at 7pm (EDST).
One excellent aspect of this Cup is that games are hosted around the world- in Helsinki, Prague, Cologne, St. Paul, Montreal, and Toronto- reducing inherent home-ice advantages.
It figures that I am extremely busy with, well, everything right now, but I will be watching as much as can!
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Washington DC has never been among my favorite major US cities. New York is far and away the tops, for every reason: the magnificent sense of scale, the skyline, the wonderful food, the depth and range of cultural choices, Central Park... I could rave on and on. In that distant second tier, I rank San Francisco, Seattle, and even Indianapolis ahead of DC in terms of spirit and energy.
DC is frankly very depressing to me. Being the seat of such sprawling bureaucracy alone makes DC intellectually oppressive. But the negative vibe present on the street could crush a sensitive idealist such as myself, had I not been prepared for it. There is no city that is quite so narrow-minded as DC, or as polarized by political affiliation. The liberal grafitti use of the swastika on all things illiberal demonstrates well the irrational hyperbolic demonization the Left uses to smear the Right. The Right counters with the equally irrational and hyperbolic, but at least more positive, "Bush is God" stickers- on every light post and newspaper box. There are plenty of midwestern folks I disagree with on issues, but I tend to believe that I could still reach most of them with a well-reasoned position. I do not have that sense about anyone in DC. Add to this atmosphere of general filth and grime (despite a lack of industry), a huge schizophrenic and/or strung out homeless population, and you have me watching Olympic soccer in the hotel in the middle of the afternoon.
Fortunately, DC is still offers history, and that alone can sustain me through such despair. Showing it all to Alex made it a very satisfying experience, and one I still recommend to families.
The first thing to do is to contact one of your Senators. Don't let it get in the way if you are not a supporter of your Senator, or vote for another party. Their office staff doesn't care. Heck, the staffers can just as easily support another party, too. The reason for contacting your Senator's office is that the only way to tour the White House and other landmarks is to do so on a Senatorial tour. Thanks to security concerns, you can no longer walk up to the White House and get in. The earlier you schedule, the better. I gave it two months lead time and was still closed out of the White House. Fortunately, we did get to tour the Capitol with Richard Lugar's office.
Monday, August 30, 2004
My son has an in-the-moment outlook that works very well for him, that at times I wish I had. He's flying back to Spain tomorrow and very much looking forward to it. I'm happy for him, but I'm not terribly excited to know that he will be an ocean apart from me.
We had a terrific summer together, with adventures ranging from this past week's DC trip to a white water rafting and camping trip on the New River in West Virginia. I'm hoping that we have a few more summers like it before his Papa Bear is too uncool for him.
Friday, August 20, 2004
Next week, I’ll be in the Nation’s Capital with Ame and Alex. This is exciting because Alex, world traveler that he is, has still not visited Washington DC.
The Smithsonian is the top destination for us. Alex is especially excited for the aviation displays and the two IMAX screens. I could spend a month in the Smithsonian, but the railroad and other transportation goodies are the main draw for me.
I highly recommend contacting your US Senator or US Representative in advance of any DC trip. Some of the notable landmarks are difficult to get tour access to, because the number of tourists is restricted due to security and other concerns. Walk-up access is virtually a thing of the past, unless extremely lucky. I contacted Senator Lugar’s office about a month ago, and was able to secure tour access to the Capitol Building and the Bureau of Printing and Engraving.
Providing this kind of access to citizens is one action by our elected officials I happily endorse. Alex spends most of the year living on a military base overseas. He ought to get a good look at the places policy is made. It would be even better if he could meet Senator Lugar and some of his colleagues.
The media coverage has continued on this item, with small stories in the Noblesville Ledger, Fishers Topics, and an excellent front page article in the Noblesville Daily Times.
Now that the word is out, the team building is under way. If you would like to get involved at any level- from the actual petitioning on down to simple moral support, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
I don't flinch nearly as much as the average Libertarian when rocks are cast our way. While folks usually throw gravel, I tend to believe we deserve #9 aggregate dropped overhead by a front-end loader. Why? The usual public M.O. for a Libertarian candidate or official is to loudly squawk about how things are wrong, unfair, suck, or stupid... and then go on to the next complaint. We've come to recognize to obvious her in Indiana- complaining only goes so far, offering an alternative will make you viable.
So it came to pass that an amalgam of regional leaders- mayors, county and city councilors- came together to agree to begin the funding of light rail system. After much negotiation, they unanimously agreed to get behind a starter system that would run from downtown Indianapolis to Fishers, a well-to-do suburb on Indy's northeast side in Hamilton County. The idea was to get the starter up and running with the intention of adding to it in the future towards making a more complete network.
The cost for the starter system? $850 million. The cost was proposed to be bourne by everyone in the country. It is hoped that up to $425 million in Federal money can be earned when the regional leaders make their pitch to a variety of Federal agencies for grant money. The rest of the money, which could be anywhere from $425 million to $750 million, would be supplied by the counties of Central Indiana- Marion (Indy), Hamilton (Fishers), Hancock, Shelby, Morgan, Johnson, and Hendricks via property taxes; also by a hike in the gasoline tax, statewide.
The rationale for the system is that the trains would take car traffic off of the highly congested stretch of I-69 in Fishers, not only to relieve congestion, but to improve air quality. The anticipated usage would result in, optimistically, the diversion of 1% to 4% of commuters from cars to the trains.
This is where the usual Libertarian complaining would come in. Let me try my hand: "1% to 4% of cars dispalced? For nearly a billion dollars? Are ye mad? Back to the drawing board!" -or- "It is unfair and unjust to levy taxes against the good people of Johnson and Hendricks counties for the purpose of providing a benefit to a very small percentage of the people in Marion and Hamilton counties".
While this rhetoric is a useful tool in showing the people of these other locations that Libertarians are the ones defending them while the Democrats and Republicans are the ones taking advantage of them, it won't make a bit of difference towards stopping the proposal. We will win the war of words and lose the battle of the budget. I am not a man of zero sum games! I want to win both battles!
In response, The Libertarian Party of Hamilton County held a press conference to offer an alternative.
We pointed to the corridor chosen for the route. It is the old Nickel Plate railroad, and it still has track on it. We asked the question, "Is light rail the best possible use for this corridor?" We said no, that the best use for the corridor is to convert it into a trail and greenway.
Regional leaders never considered the best use of a resource they govern. They looked at it only as a solution to a problem- congestion and pollution.
We pointed to the extremely successful Monon Trail, running from Indy to Carmel. The Trail is on the former Monon railroad. It has transformed a significant area from a run-down, trash and graffiti catching slum into some of the most desirable real estate in Indianapolis. It elevated hot property in Carmel to ultra-hot. Neighborhoods have been revitalized and small businesses have bloomed along the Monon. The Trail is jammed full of bicyclists, joggers, skaters, and families, all participating in healthy activity.
We asked the question, if it was good for the Monon, why not bring this benefit to the Nickel Plate?
We expect a huge response. We had excellent media coverage for the press conference, with the state's largest radio station (WIBC) and TV covering. We have launched a petition drive designed to show that the Nickel Plate Trail idea has greater support than the light rail system. This is a democracy, isn't it?
Oh, that's right. The regional leaders didn't bother to ask the people who live and own businesses near the corridor which they would prefer. The Libertarians are doing this. Bridges are already being built between us and the supporters of parks and green space. You thought that never happened, didn't you?
Please do continue to cast your rocks at the LP affiliates in other states. They are rhetorically correct, but words do not win the war. Superior policy proposals that are pitched correctly are hard to ignore.