Saturday, June 10, 2006

Rob Place's DC Report

As mentioned several times previously, Campaign Manager Rob Place attended the recent Campaigns & Elections seminar, "The Art of Political Campaigning" in Washington DC.

This was an incredibly valuable seminar for Rob and for the Kole Campaign, as we have come away with a streamlined plan for the months ahead. I have every confidence that what Rob learned will help us work smarter, and that we will see the results in November.

Here is Rob's report:

“Campaigns & Elections magazine put on a very professional conference. I was able to meet numerous other campaign operatives and political consultants from all over the country and quiz them on specific aspects of the Kole campaign. Most of the attendees were Republicans and Democrats, though there were a few independents and even some from other countries here to learn a few tricks of the trade.

Some of the messages were obvious – campaigns need three things: money, money, and more money. In today’s world consumers are bombarded with advertising on a constant basis, and the only way for them to hear your message is to reach out to them in a concerted, repetitious manner. This takes money – and lots of it. I’ve picked up a few good fundraising ideas, and you’ll be hearing about those in the weeks and months ahead. That being said, if you’d like to save us all some time you can just donate on Mike’s website right now.

Of course, the power of earned media shouldn’t be minimized and I’ve picked up a few tips on how to communicate effectively with reporters. Robert Trayhorn (of Sen. Rick Santorum’s campaign) and Flavia Colgan (of MSNBC) provided attendees with some excellent ideas on reaching out to reporters so that Mike is covered, but covered. Of all the workshops in the conference, this provided me with the most useful information.

The internet was another hot topic, and Joe Trippi (of Howard Dean fame) filled us on using websites and blogs to get a campaign’s message out. Mike’s been doing a great job with his blog already, and I would expect his opponents to follow his lead as the election season shifts into high gear. But will Todd Rokita and Joe Pearson allow public comments on their blogs? I doubt it, and they will be sending the message that they’d rather not have a frank discussion of the issues with Hoosier voters; unlike Mike, who is always happy to discuss the tough questions. In Joe Trippi’s playbook, score one for Mike.

I don’t want to go into specific ideas on strategy that I picked up, for obvious reasons. But needless to say, the trip was very informative, and really helped focus how successful campaigns need to be waged. I want to thank the Kole supporters who made this happen, and I hope to make you all proud in November!”

-Rob Place

I hope supporters will agree that this was a valuable, smart investment. If you haven't made a contribution in support of Rob's attendance at this seminar, please click through this link to make a donation. Contributions of even $10 go a long way.

It is gratifying to see letters like this one, in the South Bend Tribune:
I noticed in the May 23 Tribune it was reported the Democrats have named Joe Pearson as their candidate for Indiana secretary of state.

The article then went on to report that Pearson will be challenging Todd Rokita, the current holder of this very important office. The Tribune does a disservice to its readers, however, in failing to report Pearson and Rokita are also up against Mike Kole, the Libertarian candidate.

Furthermore, the Green Party is working to get Bill Stant on the ballot for secretary of state, something The Tribune recently reported.

The Tribune should stop pretending voters have only two choices come election time and tell the whole story every time.

Kathleen Petitjean
South Bend

I don't know Ms. Petitjean yet, but I'd like to. She knows the ballot status exactly, as newspaper reporters should, too. More voters would become better educated voters, as she is, if the whole story were told every time. You might even see better turnout at the polls.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

IBJ Interview

I was interviewed by Chris O'Malley of the Indianapolis Business Journal earlier this morning. The subject was light rail and the possible project on the old Nickel Plate corridor that roughly parallels Allisonville Rd from Fishers to the Fair Grounds.

I've been making the case against the light rail for a few years now. Here are the bullet points:
  • This project would cost a billion dollars without any overruns.
  • A billion dollars gets about 4% of cars of I-69, on its best days, per MPO.
  • IndyGo has an operating loss of nearly 80%, made up for by subsidies. Why extend this failure?
  • A single corridor is hardly a network. How do you get around once de-trained?
  • Indy is not a walking city, nor has the density where light rail works, as in NYC.
  • Light rail isn't even the best use of the corridor. A trail & greenway would be.
  • Light rail decreases adjacent property values while trails increase it.
  • The people owning properties adjacent to the corridor haven't been asked what they want.

Mr. O'Malley indicated that the article would run in July. I can't wait to see it. Mainly, a lot of ranking Republicans- State Senator Luke Kenley, Hamilton County Commissioner Christine Altman, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, and Noblesville Mayor John Ditslear- are in favor of this boondoggle, and there has been very little questioning of the plan. The numbers are atrocious, and yet, there's the GOP going rah-rah. This is why Libertarians are firm that the Republican Party has nothing to do with fiscal conservatism.

Indianapolis once had a network of rails for commuters. It closed up shop in 1952, because it was losing money, even with a complete network. Why not open a bus line along this route first and see if it can hold its own? It would cost so much less than a billion.
Fighting To Claim Libertarians

It's funny- I almost wrote an entry on this thought a few days ago, when I noticed a Dionne column that used the word 'libertarian' in a positive light. Dionne isn't the first person I think of when I think of us, meaning libertarians. In fact, he's one of the last.

That's been happening a lot lately. I know, because I do searches in 20-50 media sites every day on the word 'libertarian' to see what comes up. More often than not in the past, the word 'libertarian' appeared alongside the word 'civil'. Now it seems, when a writer is ascribing virtue, they are describing someone or some policy as 'libertarian'.

Earlier this year, Mitch Daniels was describing himself (with the help of George Will) as a libertarian, and cited Virginia Postrel's book "The Future and its Enemies" as one of his guiding influences. Postrel is the former editor of the foremost libertarian monthly Reason.

Earlier today, Markos Moulitsas explained in great depth that he is a 'Libertarian Democrat'. For those who somehow don't know, Markos is "Kos", as in "Daily Kos"- the foremost political blog in the US, and the carrier of the chevron for many on the left in this country. Kos is featured in Time this week.

I don't think it is any coincidence that there is a very mainstream battle for libertarians. A recent report from the Pew Research Center, announced that only 9% of Americans are libertarians philosophically. So, the rest are liberal or conservative, right? Wrong. 15% are conservative, while 18% are liberal. The lion's share are ambivalent (42%).

That's useful information with the elections only 150+ days away, and Democrats and Republicans looking for ways to earn the edge. I don't know how you go about reaching people who are ambivalent. I do know how you go about reaching people who self-identify as clearly as libertarians do. You point out areas of agreement in order to lure them in. If either side can win that 9% libertarian bloc, they win in November.

Both left and right have the capacity to reach out to libertarians, because libertarians agree with those on the right who believe in economic liberty, while we agree with those on the left who believe in personal liberty. Expect a whole lot of pandering to us in the next 150 days. It's a good thing. It screams, "relevance".

The Kos entry is very telling. The first thing he does is bitch-slap the Libertarian Party. Harshly. That's because the one thing- the logical thing- that those who self-identify as libertarians should be doing is backing the Libertarian Party. Both left and right will be working hard to classify the LP as strictly irrelevant while singing the praises of our philosophy. That's quite a song and dance when you break it down. From Kos:
And what is the common thread amongst these candidates?

They are all Libertarian Democrats.

Ack, the "L" word! But hear me out.

Traditional "libertarianism" holds that government is evil and thus must be minimized. Any and all government intrusion is bad. While practical libertarians (as opposed to those who waste their votes on the Libertarian Party) have traditionally aligned themselves with the Republicans, it's clear that the modern GOP has no qualms about trampling on personal liberties. Heck, it's become their raison d' etre. (Emphasis is mine.)

What Kos points out about the GOP is correct. The thing he wants you to gloss over is that Dems haven't delivered on the civil liberties end either.

See, there's a reason I put the current poll up about wasted votes and failure to deliver. People are looking for alternatives this year like no other since 1974. Democrats really want to capitalize on flailing Republicans and lure new voters to undo Republican majorities. For their part, Republicans just want to hang on. Both will trot out the Wasted Vote Syndrome to thwart votes going to Libertarian candidates.

Indeed, this year, the biggest challenge I see for the Libertarian Party is to at last demolish the myth of the Wasted Vote Syndrome.

Mainly, there are wasted votes each November. If you are a libertarian and you wanted smaller government and less spending so you voted Republican, you wasted your vote. If you are a libertarian and you wanted more personal freedoms and you voted Democrat, you wasted your vote.

Once people realize that the only way to get what they want is to vote for candidates of the only party committed to libertarian principles, they will finally begin to get them.

Republicans enjoy burying libertarians in their Liberty Caucus, and why there is such a thing as the Log Cabin Republican is utterly beyond me. So, let's see what bogus holding corporation the Dems create for libertarians to be buried in this year, because you know they aren't going to go straight to the policy-making positions in the DNC any more than we did in the RNC.

The Kos post is getting a lot of comment among Libertarian bloggers: Cato-at-Liberty #1; Cato-at-Liberty #2; Reason Hit & Run; Hammer of Truth.

Jeff Pruitt asked me what I thought of Kos' take on Libertarianism. I think Kos gets some part of it, mainly the individual liberty part. That's the part I really expect the left to get. Remember, my roots as a youth were as a Democrat, because I believed strongly in the First Amendment and was opposed to a draft, and the Democrats were speaking my language on those things. Then Tipper Gore got involved with the PMRC, and it was all downhill from there with the Dems and me. It's true indeed that we have plenty of common ground, and I really am delighted to see Kos shine light on it. But, forgive my cynicism on the battleground. I've been taken for granted too many times in my short life thus far.

Stephen Gordon from Hammer of Truth says very well what I might say about Kos' take on corporate power and government:
That’s right, [Kos] actually said that government is a check on corporations’ power! Hello! Wake up and smell the reality. Government is the source of corporations’ power. Corporations have gotten very good at getting government to empower them to do whatever they want. Without government, corporations could not exist. And the less power government wields over the people, the less power the corporation can leverage to its own ends. (Emphasis original.)

There is nothing to be feared more than the government-business partnership. Government wields unlimited literal physical power, while business holds limited but vast financial power. Put them together and the little guy will be crushed like so much ant crap under the heel of a polished boot. The government-business partnership is precisely what gave us Kelo v. New London, a taxpayer funded Colts stadium with NK Hurst hanging on for survival, and thousands of other outrages.

Kelo wouldn't have been fighting to save his home without a developer partnered with the City of New London. NK Hurst wouldn't have had to fight to preserve their building if the Colts built their stadium on their own. Both would have told the developers, "Not interested!", and that would have been that. Only government has the power to evict. Corporations partner up to tap into it.

Government a check on corporate power. Sheesh. On that note, I could get going on the 'who is the utopian loon?' angle, but I think the point is made.

Update: The Kos post has more than 850 comments. They're worth skimming. While there is the Libertarian/fiscal conservative bashing and way-off descriptions of what a libertarian is, as you might expect, there is even more thoughtful dialogue. It's a glorious thing seeing libertarian ideas getting a serious hearing in a place like Daily Kos. Here's one particularly astute comment:
I think if you ask any libertarian to rank their trust of "government authority" in order from local, regional, state and federal choices, local would rank highest and federal lowest. So when you hear libertarians bashing government, most of the time it's the centralized federal government they're talking about. We all agree that all politics is local, but the Dems for some reason ignore that tenet to rush up to Washington to try to solve specific problems in a broad, one-size-fits-all approach which leads to massive bloat, waste and inefficiency. Libertarians I believe would rather the local/regional community address their issues in their own way, in ways that are most productive and relevant for their own communities, and look to their state level government for assistance only if needed. The federal government would be the LAST place they'd turn to solve problems in their communities. For Dems, it's the first place they turn, every time.

Got that right! Libertarians are not anarchists, as is often misstated. We fear centralized power, so when you hear a Libertarian describe Democrats as 'evil', 'completely wrong', or as 'opposite to Libertarian', understand that it's hyperbolic speech, but mainly a reaction to centralized government power.

Hat tip to Jeff Pruitt for the original Kos post, and to Andrew Lee for this comment.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

How's Your Poker Face?

As many of you know, I enjoy playing poker. I have no idea if I have a good poker face or not. Here are some funny commercials from pros that were rejected by TV networks for air. Link.

I don't know- I think the one with Eric Siedel is airable.

Just a reminder: For those wanting to host a fundraiser at their home, I'm delighted to do Texas Hold 'Em nights.

Hold 'Em is an easy event to run because of its structure. There is no buy-in because that would be illegal gambling. There is a donation to the campaign, and then we play for fun using chips. You can find out whether or not I have a good poker face.

I'm available to do this almost every Friday night from now until Election Day. Contact Jenn Bradshaw by email to set it up.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Regulating Fun Out of Existence

In our quest to minimize potential harm to Americans, but especially to children, we have gone a long way towards squeezing the fun out of youth. The latest threat? Discussions about squirt guns. Check this out, from the Indy Star:
"I don't like squirt guns," said Mendez, 45, of the Northside. "I think toy guns send the wrong message, because what's next? I don't even like my daughter to touch them."

What a load. With that reasoning, let's ban driving 20 miles per hour, because it sends the wrong message. What's next? 55mph? 65?

In order to eliminate all the things that could potentially lead to other things, should we ban all the video games, the TV shows and the books? How about banning butter knives, because they could lead to cutting people, or, banning fire, because someone might think of burning someone. Good grief!

Squirt guns are just like anything on TV. It requires a parent to sit down with the child and explain. With toy guns, you explain to the child that real guns can kill, and that the toy gun, the squirt gun, is made for fun. You don't aim it at another child's face. You squirt each other to cool off, or to play tag, but not to hurt another. That's it.

I know that's really hard for many of today's selfish auto-pilot parents to get their arms around. Selfish, because they don't take the time to be parents, to talk to their kids. Don't leave parenting up to the government. Be the parent. You'll help preserve freedom in this country, you'll preserve your child's fun, and who knows, you might even draw closer to your child in the process of talking to them about how to use objects properly.