Fort Walton Beach Kiwanis Club Address 10 Jan 2017

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

With only a few days to go to the inauguration, it is time in Washington to fix the wear and tear of the past administration. Three contractors were bidding to fix a broken fence left at the White House. One was from Minnesota, one from Tennessee, and the third from Tallahassee. All three go with the White House caretaker to examine the fence. The Minnesota contractor takes out a tape measure and does some measuring, then works some figures with a pencil and says “Well, I figure the job will run about $900. $400 for materials, $400 for my crew, and $100 profit for me.” The Tennessee contractor does the same measuring and says, “I can do this job for $700. $300 for materials, $300 for my crew, and $100 profit for me.” The Tallahassee contractor doesn’t do anything, but leans over and whispers, “$2,700.” The caretaker says, “You didn’t even measure like the other guys! How did you come up with such a high figure?” He whispers back, “$1000 for me, $1000 for you, and we hire the guy from Tennessee to fix the fence.”

I would like to thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to speak about the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party. I consider it a personal privilege to address as fine a group as the Kiwanis.

This may sound odd to some of you, but the purpose of Kiwanis epitomizes just one of many libertarian ideals; people banding together as they please to perform acts of charity to aid children, free from government interference as long as there is no force or fraud used. Odd how much government wants to control what you already want to do all on your own, and tax you to do it in the process.

As Chair of a local party this does make me think that half the problem with getting people to vote Libertarian is getting them to realize they already are Libertarian.

The libertarian Party has been around for a long time. If you don’t count the Independent Party, we are the third largest Party in Florida. I say “don’t count” the Independent Party because there is more than some testimony out there that many people register to vote and say “I want to be Independent”, and the local registrars puts them in the Independent Party artificially swelling their numbers. The Libertarians were created way back in 1971, by a man named Doug Nolan, and we have the distinction, among others, of having the first woman vice presidential candidate to receive an electoral college vote in the election of 1972 (It was Tonie Nathan, NOT Geraldine Ferraro). The famous Ron Paul was a Libertarian, as was Clint Eastwood for a while, as are Drew Carey and, of course, Gary Johnson. Dick Heller, of the famous Supreme Court case District of Columbia vs Heller, was the treasurer of the Washington DC libertarian Party who won a suit against the City for taking away his right to own a personal weapon. As a Party our star is steadily rising. In the 2016 Presidential election, the Libertarian party had ballot access in all 50 states, the only Party besides the major parties to have such access. Right here at home 4.09% of Okaloosans voted for Gary Johnson. 7.51% of people from Cinco Bayou, not far from here, also voted for GJ. As everyone knows, as goes Cinco Bayou so goes Crab Island.

But let’s move away from history, and talk more about the here and now.

Who are the Northwest Florida Libertarians? We are a locally organized Political Party with the purpose of putting people and money together to elect libertarians to public office. That’s important because we actively try to compete in the electoral process. We solicit funds, and we make quarterly reports with the State in accordance with the Florida Statutes. The NFLP covers the six westernmost counties in Florida that include Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Holmes and Washington Counties containing about 1600 registered libertarians.   Any registered Panhandle libertarian has automatic rights to run for NFLP office and to vote in our periodic elections (BTW, the next one will be by March 2017 for Vice Chair and Treasurer). We offer solutions to problems of governance that do not empty your checkbook nor trade away your rights for security. We will not bribe you with your own tax dollars, nor give America security by becoming a prison. We are the people who know that the most happiness, prosperity, and security comes from government that protects individual rights and property and is kept limited in its powers. Without a doubt, we are the political road less traveled, but we are sure it is the most enjoyable to drive with the least pot holes.

Figures that a Libertarian would talk about pot, right?

We do a lot. We write about issues on our website Libertarianpoc.org, in the social media, and in the local papers and blogs. We regularly have guest speakers such as Paul Craig Roberts (former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan), Karl Denninger (a well-known financial commentator), Lawrence Vance (a religious writer who is also a libertarian) and Kris Anne Hall, among others. We have supported many Libertarian candidates including Alex Snitker for US Senate in 2010, Paul Stanton for US Senate in 2016, Calen Fretts for US House in 2012, Adrian Wyllie for Governor in 2014, Etta Lawlor for Santa Rosa Commissioner, and Bill Fetke for Statehouse One. We supported Mark Wichern in his 2014 run for Congress when he was a no party affiliation candidate. As a Party we appear at public meetings, speak our minds on matters of public importance (such as the Mid Bay Bridge fiasco), attend parades, such Billy Bowlegs and the Pensacola Christmas Parade, and attend libertarian conventions both at the State and National level. In short, we get out and meet people. In the process, we like to have fun. This past May we held a meeting at a local Blue Wahoos game, and we are going to do more of that.

Our vision is one of a healthier America, more voluntary, less compelled by force, less expensive, more prosperous and a better place to let everyone reach their own greatest potential.

How do we think we are going to do that?

Let me make this clear. Libertarians know there are legitimate functions for government. These include defense, dispensing justice, and controlling things like nuclear power that simply cannot be done by the private sector. The question about government, throughout the ages has always been how to keep those who want power over others in check as they increasingly use government to compel you to follow their orders for what they say is your own best interest. Both Republicans and Democrats see government power as fundamentally benign. Libertarians see it for the threat that it is, as our forefathers did. For example, what veteran ever fought for what we have today, fewer rights, massive debt, and endless war?

We are against initiating force, but we are not pacifists. To join the Party we ask people to take the pledge “I will not advocate the use of force to achieve social or political goals,” but defending with force one’s life, liberty or property is morally justifiable, in our view. Criminality must be met with force. No one defends second amendment rights as stringently as a Libertarian.

Libertarians are for personal responsibility. If your actions harm others expect to have the book thrown at you. If not, you should be left alone to personally deal with the consequences. You should own the fruits of your victories without the government taking them from you as much as you must account for your own defeats without the government subsidizing you. You own your own body, no one else.

Libertarians are for competition. Monopolies, politically rigged games and cronyism riddles everything citizens have to deal with nowadays. How can it be that in the USA there truly are entities that are too big to fail, and too big to jail? 2008 saw the biggest financial meltdown in history with documented trillions in mortgage fraud, yet no financial CEO went to jail. John Corzine, former New Jersey Senator, Governor, head of mega bank MF Global, and noted Presidential supporter within the past ten days was finally fined $5,000,000 for illegally taking billions from segregated accounts at his firm. A colleague of mine who managed segregated accounts said if he did the same thing he wouldn’t see daylight for twenty years. Corzine received no jail time. In our own state there are still laws that discriminate against third Party competition, such as the “365 day” rule (you cannot run on a Party ticket unless you’ve been a member for at least 365 days prior to the candidate qualification date). There is a law that allows Republican and Democrat Party Committeemen to be elected on the public ballot while specifically excluding third Parties. Such things happens by the bad habit of lawmakers using the law to get special privilege for one of their benefactors over another. We oppose State monopolies in general as being inferior in quality and expensive, such as the State monopoly in education. Common Core could not be the potential threat it is if education were not centralized under government control.

Libertarians do not agree with the left/right paradigm or the Liberal/Conservative cookie cutter view of the world. Both mindsets enhance State power at the expense of common people while claiming to do the opposite. For example, it is not liberal to take away the protections of the Constitution in favor of who is in charge at the moment, nor is it conservative to build public debt into the mountain it is now. I will remind everyone that a Republican Congress just this past week voted to increase the debt ceiling of our Country 9.7 trillion dollars. That is not conservative.

Libertarians are about privacy, which has practically vanished from the American way of life through the destruction of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. It is a fact that citizens need permission from the government to travel in the USA by public conveyance, and TSA inspections make us give up our Fourth Amendment rights to do so. A society under surveillance can never be a free society.

Libertarians cherish the way of life that the one rule of law for all, respect for property, respect for individual rights, competition in a free market, and a government limited in its powers produced in this country. These Libertarian principles produced the most happiness and prosperity for the greatest number of people. That is the formula that made us great, not overwhelming government power. Other countries have tried that way across the globe for millenia. In our opinion, the dominant Republican and Democrat Parties routinely make laws that attack these principles while saying that they are for them. As a result we have the sad situation today where there is not one amendment in the Bill of Rights that hasn’t become seriously proscribed, limited, or regulated into something less than what it is. It is said that the United States is one of the few places left today where the inherent rights of people are protected by a Constitution and the rule of law. Yes your rights are protected, but that is only if you don’t actually want to use them. It’s almost as if our own government has become afraid of people actually having rights

Libertarians are not afraid of a society made up of individual choice; of our fellow citizens doing what they want as long as they do not use force or fraud on others. The best economy is one that is the result of millions of individual, voluntary decisions, and not a top down command economy run by government. The Affordable Care Act is a classic example of top down economic management. Without a doubt the single biggest player in the US economy is the Federal Reserve which is a government sanctioned cartel of major banks that price fix the cost of money. Instead of controlling the voluntary, non-violent actions of our neighbors, we look forward to the real, sustainable world of people doing what they want, free from the threat of force by government in all its forms. We want the USA to be the land of the free, the home of the brave, and every child to have the chance to be President based on the limits of their own abilities.

Some of our opponents liken us to a conspiracy, and I must confess this is true. We are conspiring to take over the government, and then just leave you alone.

On that note, I will leave you alone. If you are interested in being a libertarian, please talk to me, take a look at our Facebook page, our website, Libertarianpoc.org, or attend one of our meetings. If you care enough to donate, I’d be happy to accept them. Our next meeting will be at Ace’s restaurant, 6350 Caroline Street (hwy 90) in Milton, Wednesday 18 Jan at 6:30 PM. It is open to the public, and I hope to see you there…

Thank you

Any questions?

The Fight For The Chair

It’s not even Christmas, but it is already apparent that the fight is on to elect in May 2017 the next Libertarian Party of Florida Chairman. Marcos Miralles, from Miami, is putting the word out that that he wants to be elected, while Char-Lez Braden, the current Chair, appears set on running again. One can only guess who might be other competitors waiting in the wings. This kind of competition is great, and is exactly what the LPF needs.

It’s important to have strong leadership at all levels of the LPF, but the race for Chair next year is especially attention worthy because it will come on the heels of the terribly divisive Augustus Invictus campaign, and the rudderless Gary Johnson Presidential campaign. After all the sturm and drang of the past year, the Party message, fundraising and manpower are still the forefront state-wide problems in 2017 as they were in 2016. It’s worth it to have a frank discussion as to what it would take to have an effective Chair.

As inegalitarian as this sounds, an effective Chair must have some personal financial independence. Just as you can’t do business with people who have no money, a Chair cannot be part of the public discussion, establish political contacts throughout the state, and generally be where the action is unless there are resources to travel and see people.   Despite the common addiction to iPhones, social media is not a substitute for being at the Florida Chamber of Commerce, high profile conferences, media events where the wealthy and powerful discuss policy, or even having lunch with the Governor. A Chair needs to insert himself into such situations, develop a thick rolodex, and use it for his Party’s benefit. It’s his job. Some sort of LPF travel per diem system for senior Party officials would greatly help to provide this independence.

Another quality the new Chair must have is the ability to focus on commonality instead of differences both within the LPF and with the public at large. The long term success of the LPF depends on our ability to show we want a long term relationship with the people of this State, take action to relieve their pocket books, respect the rule of law, roll back intrusive government, and do this all in a way they know Libertarians are doing it. He has to personally approach those who’s business and personal interests most coincide with Libertarian thought, and get them to donate to us; the only Party that can make their dreams become real. The Chair also needs to focus our own Party member’s energies on the opposition, not fellow Libertarians. Again, this is something that is only accomplished by talking with people face-to-face, not in a twitter message.

Lastly, the Chair must inspire confidence among the citizenry of Florida. The LPF needs a committed base, but it needs the goodwill and receptiveness of the public at large more. Consistent thought and action, administrative foresight, and stability of character all contribute to inspiring confidence, and they naturally lead to more volunteers and donations. Political savvy helps inspire confidence too, because people like competent leaders, even if they are the opposition. I had to laugh when Donald Trump publicly denied making fun of Rand Paul for his hairdo by saying “I never made fun of Rand Paul’s hair, but, you know, there is a lot of material there…” A winning Chair makes people believe Libertarians really are the loyal opposition who bring the real message of happiness and prosperity. Having a little fun in the LPF wouldn’t be a bad idea too.

There are those who think anyone can be the Florida Chair, or that a Chair only needs to have regular phone conferences from their basement with the Executive Committee to keep the Party alive. That sets an extraordinarily low set of expectations when conditions demand we step up our game.   To do the job right requires brains, guts, vision and educated risk taking in varying amounts, and, frankly, not everyone can hack it.  That’s just the way it is.

Let’s see who steps in the ring.

Pete Blome is Chair of the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party and a retired military officer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They Don’t Know

Education in the USA falls on its face when it comes to teaching how to be a citizen. The system may work well enough to give a person the technical training they need to find a job, or make them obedient, but in the day-to-day business of liberty, it actually provides experience that conflicts with what it means to be a free, independent person living their own life.

Clearly, the first twenty years of life for any person are dominated by the state monopoly known as the school. In a State run school, at least until the 12th grade but sometimes longer, the Bill of Rights does not always legally apply. Students in State run schools have far lower standards of legal protection from criminal search, and that includes searching a student’s physical person. A few years back a thirteen year old girl in Arizona was strip searched nude, in front of school personnel, to see if she was hiding drugs (she wasn’t), without her parents even being notified. Free speech is certainly not allowed, not even in school newspapers that are supposed to teach free speech. Much as in prison, school administrators routinely use zero tolerance policies to suspend both perpetrators and victims of infractions, going so far as to punish those making a gun shape with their fingers. Carrying a real gun in your pickup while on school property for hunting after class can lead directly to hard time in the slammer. Under some circumstances, self-incrimination can be legally coerced for a student, and due process is certainly of a different nature than it is for an adult. After growing up year after year like this a person’s view of individual rights gets terribly skewed. It takes an exceptional person to know that this is not how they are expected to live for the remaining decades of their life. The problem isn’t so much that Johnny can’t read, rather he has no sense of self as a citizen.

The results of this kind of education can be seen everywhere in American society. Free speech is often prohibited by administrative rule or reserved for “free speech zones.” The fact there are such zones means there is no free speech. Weapons free zones exist everywhere creating the double whammy of denying unalienable rights while providing ready places for psychopathic criminals to wreak havoc. Millions of travelers are forced to submit to TSA searches in violation of basic laws (sexual battery for one), while some of these unlucky passengers get picked, by government policy, for horrendous full body searches. No fly lists exist, and the due process for determining those lists is still secret, which is no due process at all. Mandatory bank reporting laws made individual financial privacy extinct. Our President has used a “kill list” on American citizens overseas without presenting public evidence, charges or a trial. There are so many laws of all stripes (literally millions) that prosecutors in the local pub boast over drinks how they can criminally convict any person, no matter who they are or what they are doing. Even the Third Amendment can get violated. A Nevada couple refused to allow their home to be used for police surveillance of a neighbor, and were charged with obstruction of justice. The daily litany of outrages certainly doesn’t end there, but most people blithely accept them. They are too busy working or obeying the rules to consider how their rights morphed into serving the government.

The solution is, of course, greater competition in education, but even private, parochial or home schools must currently live under stifling State bureaucracies and taxation that hinder real competition. The essence of Common Core is that it is just another proposal making education even more centralized and dependent on government taxes and bureaucrats.

Americans don’t know about rights. They know something akin to individual rights. As Stephen Colbert might say, they know “rightiness.”

The purpose of education is to fill in holes in experience. In this regard our State run schools are setting a very bad example.

Pete Blome is Chair of the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party and a retired military officer.

 

Pardon Me

Like so many aspects of this past Presidential election, it has become a mantra in the main stream media that our nation is now showing deep divisions.  In order to help “heal the country,” the thinking goes that the former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, should be pardoned of any possible crimes she may have committed prior to the election. Bernie Sanders said that indicting Hillary Clinton would be an “outrage” beyond belief.

The quickest way to spawn divisions among people is to give special privileges to some that others go to jail for. To my libertarian mind, publicly prosecuting Hillary Clinton is actually what the nation needs.

As incredible as it sounds, the good ol’ USA, the land where any child can be President, has become a land of special privileges. Laws are made for personal economic or political gain all the time, and are sometimes ignored simply because the people they affect are something “big.” These are the people known as the too big to fail, and too big to jail.

You do not have to go far to find evidence of what I say. For a century big business has progressively cornered special protections in the law that if done by an individual would land them in jail. The privately owned Federal Reserve instantly creates currency and price fixes interest rates every day. One of the side effects of Obamacare was to create health insurance monopolies in thousands of counties where none existed before, driving out competition, and raising prices. HSBC Bank got the biggest fine in history for money laundering ($1.9 Billion when FBI director James Comey was on its Board, by the way) but none of the responsible officers went to jail. Similarly, the legacy of the trillions of dollars of fraud exposed after the 2008 financial meltdown was that no big company director went to jail anywhere. All of this is a little hard for the average American to take when they can go to jail for simply not getting a permit for a lemonade stand.

The crimes of Mrs. Clinton are even more direct. Any military member knows her violations of security protocols are the fast lane to a jail cell. A former Navy member is now serving hard time after arguing in court that there was no intent to violate security when he took unauthorized photographs. The parallel with the former Secretary of State is obvious. It didn’t help the Navy guy avoid the big house, and yet Hillary walks free.

The Rule of law is a funny thing. With it any country can have unity, even if the laws are draconian.  If the rule of law is based on maintaining individual rights, such as it used to be here, the stage is set for the maximum amount of personal happiness and prosperity. Without the rule of law everyone starts getting into the business of corrupting everyone else. Just look at President Obama who won’t force his Attorney General to act on evidence from an FBI director who cryptically won’t recommend charges about the President’s former Secretary of State, who committed acts that others are in jail for. Go figure.

There is an old military saying that it is good for morale for a general to die in the line of duty every now then. As heartless as that sounds, it makes it clear that everyone in the life and death world of military operations shares the same laws and are subject to the same risks; even those who give the orders. It builds confidence and trust in leadership. It shows that even in war there is a certain amount of equality between the most high and the very low. Although civilian leadership is less stressful, it would still be healthy for the country if Secretaries of State went to jail every now and then.

With all respect to Bernie, it is past time to end the double standards applied in the law in politics, economics or criminal prosecutions.

America needs to show itself, and the world, that it isn’t just the little guy that goes to jail.

 

 

 

What Now, Libertarians?

It’s been no secret up here in the Panhandle of Florida that I’ve been less than enthusiastic about the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign.

From the earliest days of Gary’s public ignorance of things libertarian, to his running mate’s not so hidden infatuation with Hillary Clinton, I advocated that my fellow libertarians and I not put all our credibility eggs in Gary’s basket or risk getting a sidewalk omelet. Events confirmed my caution. In the short span of five months after the 2016 LP convention, Gary’s appeal dropped while my feelings about his run for office went from anticipation, to confusion, to frustration, to dull resignation and finally ended with a sense of betrayal at the wasted opportunities and amateurish execution of what should have been a truly historic, break out campaign.

Now it is over. Let’s ask ourselves what has Gary left the Libertarian Party going forward?

Gary did compete, and win, in an open nomination process that brought literally thousands of Libertarians together like never seen before. He gave our party a glimpse of what it may mean to have ballot access, money, media coverage and compete as a real political force to be reckoned with. That’s a lot.

He raised money in greater amounts than we’ve ever seen ($12 million). That bodes well for other libertarians seeking office.

He increased Libertarian votes nationwide from .99% in 2012 to 3.2% in 2016 and he is the most voted for Libertarian Presidential candidate ever.

It showed the Libertarian Party is actually doing something about becoming greater than where we’ve been, and that we can organize and produce at a level that merits national political attention. That brings new people in, which is critical for the future.

But He also chipped away at the bedrock of what it means to be libertarian. On such varied topics as mandatory vaccinations, banning guns from people on watch lists, carbon taxes, eminent domain, drug legalization, increasing the number of agents for the FBI, and even forcing bakers to work for those they prefer not to, Johnson made Panhandle Libertarians wince. He was apparently not paying attention to promoting a free market, making government the guarantor of individual rights, or reducing the size and influence of government as he should. He reinforced the already skewed public view of libertarians as Republicans who just want to smoke pot.

On top of that, he also allowed strong libertarian themes to be coopted by the opposition. Issues such as how the system is rigged (I can point to laws in Florida), there is no rule of law for the powers that be, immigration, lies in the poll data, lies in the economic reporting, lies in our foreign policy, lies in public testimony and lies by our legislators in general are all identified as Trump issues now. Gary ignored mortgage fraud in 2012 saying “no crimes were committed,” despite massive indictments to the contrary. Well, he ignored important issues again, and that will make it harder to bring in votes.

Lastly, he lacked political savvy, remarkable considering he is a two time Governor and two time Presidential candidate. Panhandle libertarians have to live with Gary actually offering a cabinet job to Mitt Romney; the image of Gary rolling his tongue in an indecipherable and miss delivered joke, and reinforcing his own vacuous image by lightly referring to his own mistakes as “Aleppo moments.” We have to live with him calling Hillary a fine public servant and his running mate literally vouching for her in the national news (as if she would return the favor for Libertarians). He never made a powerful and compelling image for liberty and the benefits thereof. He never made an  economic argument that stuck why libertarian ideas would bring more happiness and prosperity to the average American, especially by getting rid of barriers to entry, monopolies and regulation. All of this hurt his credibility as a leader, and by extension, hurt us.

Gary probably left us a stronger Party, but one where we have to live with a legacy stained by his verbal gaffs, mind farts, non-libertarian ideas, and wasted chances to show reliable, consistent, leadership not based in force or fraud.

Our task now is to keep finding the candidates who can do Gary one better.

 

 

 

 

 

Say What, Gary?

The Northwest Florida Libertarian Party was enthused by the nomination of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld for President and Vice President of the United States. In our view, Libertarian candidates battling it out on the field of political competition are simply the best way to create the most happiness and prosperity for our country.

So it was really tough for the NFLP Executive Committee to then see these candidates making a series of public policy statements that only made us wonder about their Libertarian commitment.  On such varied topics as mandatory vaccinations, banning guns from people on watch lists, carbon taxes, eminent domain, drug legalization, increasing the number of agents for the FBI, and even forcing bakers to work for those they prefer not to, Johnson and Weld made Panhandle Libertarians wince. They are apparently not paying attention to promoting a free market, making government the guarantor of individual rights, or reducing the size and influence of government as they should.

At the same time, they showed a remarkable degree of political insensitivity to their own Party. Mitt Romney, of all people, was fronted as a possible Johnson cabinet member without mentioning any libertarian appointments. Johnson publicly back tracked on several proposed policy positions which always looks bad. Surprising stuff considering his political experience. Worst of all, this insensitivity forces grass roots organizations, like the NFLP, to look out for themselves instead of following the Party headliners lead. Gary and Bill need to know that voting with our feet is always an option.

Since they were duly nominated by convention, the NFLP considers these men to be true Libertarians, which is a distinct and honorable line of political thought, and not just simply as Democrat or Republican lite.  Unlike what they may be used to in those Parties, Libertarians expect candidates to conform to our principles, and not the other way around.

Given all that, at this point, it is still our opinion that there is plenty of good to come from a Johnson/Weld candidacy, and we would like it to prosper. We have high hopes they will tell the country how libertarian ideas would fix an ailing economy, restore the protections of the individual in our society, and generally make America worth living in.

But the candidates have got to get their mind right first.

Pete Blome,

Chair, NFLP

 

NFLP Opinion Poll 18 May 2016

At the 18 May Blue Wahoos game, in Escambia County, a completely unscientific opinion poll was taken about the Libertarian Presidential race, the LNC Chair race, and (for grins) the race between the R’s and D’s. Although 35 libertarians and sympathizers were asked to vote, not everyone did, nor did they vote for all categories. Hey, we’re Libertarians…we vote for what we want when we want to, right? The results are below:

For – President
Joey Berry – SC – 0
Brian Briggs – MS – 0
Thomas Clements – LA -0
Keenan Dunham – SC -0
Marc Allen Feldman – OH – 2
Malisia Garcia – TX – 0
Gary Johnson – NM – 10
John McAfee – TN -1
Kevin – McCormick – AZ – 1
Robert Milnes – NJ – 0
Darryl Perry – NH – 0
Austin Petersen – MO – 4
Derrick Michael Reid – CA – 0
Jack Robinson, JR. – SC – 0
Mike Shannon – IL -0
Rhett Smith – TX – 0
Shawna Joy Sterling – KY – 0
Heidi Zeman – NV – 0
NOTA – 4

For LNC Chair
Nicholas Sarwark – 1
Brett Pojunis
Mark Rutherford – 2
Charles Peralo – 1
NOTA – 6

For Grins
Donald Trump – 8
Bernie Sanders – 3
Hillary Clinton – 1
Satan – 1 – write in

Does The United States Still Exist?

An address delivered to the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party on March 23, 2016 in Destin, Florida

Paul Craig Roberts

To answer the question that is the title, we have to know of what the US consists. Is it an ethnic group, a collection of buildings and resources, a land mass with boundaries, or is it the Constitution. Clearly what differentiates the US from other countries is the US Constitution. The Constitution defines us as a people. Without the Constitution we would be a different country. Therefore, to lose the Constitution is to lose the country.

Does the Constitution still exist? Let us examine the document and come to a conclusion.

The Constitution consists of a description of a republic with three independent branches, legislative, executive, and judicial, each with its own powers, and the Bill of Rights incorporated as constitutional amendments. The Bill of Rights describes the civil liberties of citizens that cannot be violated by the government.

Article I of the Constitution describes legislative powers. Article II describes executive powers, and Article III describes the power of the judiciary. For example, Article I, Section 1 gives all legislative powers to Congress. Article I, Section 8 gives Congress the power to declare war.

The Bill of Rights protects citizens from the government by making law a shield of the people rather than a weapon in the hands of the government.

The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech, the press, and assembly or public protest.

The Second Amendment gives the people the right “to keep and bear arms.”

The Third Amendment has to do with quartering of soldiers on civilians, a large complaint against King George III, but not a practice of present-day armies.

The Fourth Amendment grants “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” and prevents the issue of warrants except “upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” The Fourth Amendment prevents police and prosecutors from going on “fishing expeditions” in an effort to find some offense with which to charge a targeted individual.

The Fifth Amendment prohibits double jeopardy, self-incrimination, the taking of life, liberty, or property without due process and the prohibition of seizing property without just compensation.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees speedy and public trial, requires that a defendent be informed of the charge against him and to be confronted with the witnesses, to present witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of an attorney.

The Seventh Amendment gives the right of trial by jury to civil suits.

The Eighth Amendment prevents excessive bail and cruel and unusual punishments.

The Ninth Amendment says that the enumeration of certain rights in the Constitution does not deny or disparage others retained by the people. In other words, people have rights in addition to the those listed in the proscriptions against the government’s use of abusive power.

The Tenth Amendment reserves the rights not delegated to the federal government to the states.

The Tenth Amendment is a dead letter amendment. The Third Amendment protects against an abandoned abusive practice of government. The Seventh Amendment is still relevant as it allows damages in civil suits to be determined by a jury, once a protection against unfairness and today not always the case.

The other seven amendments comprise the major protections of civil liberty. I will examine them in turn, but first let’s look at Section 1 and Section 8 of Article I. These two articles describe the major powers of Congress, and both articles have been breached. The Constitution’s grant of “all legislative powers” to Congress has been overturned by executive orders and signing statements. The president can use executive orders to legislate, and he can use signing statements to render sections of laws passed by Congress and signed by the president into non-enforced status. Legislative authority has also been lost by delegating to executive branch officials the power to write the regulations that implement the laws that are passed. The right that Section 8 gives to Congress to declare war has been usurped by the executive branch. Thus, major powers given to Congress have been lost to the executive branch.

The First Amendment has been compromised by executive branch claims of “national security” and by extensive classification. Whistleblowers are relentlessly prosecuted despite federal laws protecting them. The right of assembly and public protest are overturned by arrests, tear gas, clubs, rubber bullets, water canons, and jail terms. Free speech is also limited by political correctness and taboo topics. Dissent shows signs of gradually becoming criminalized.

The Fourth Amendment is a dead letter amendment. In its place we have warrantless searches, SWAT team home invasions, strip and cavity searches, warrantless seizures of computers and cell phones, and the loss of all privacy to warrantless universal spying.

The Fifth Amendment is a dead letter amendment. The criminal justice system relies on self-incrimination as plea bargains are self-incrimination produced by psychological torture, and plea bargains are the basis of conviction in 97% of all felony cases. Moreover, physical torture is a feature of the “war on terror” despite its illegality under both US statute and international law and is also experienced by criminals in the US prison system.

The Fifth Amendment’s protection against deprivation of life, liberty, and property without due process of law has been lost to indefinite detention, executive assassination, and property takings without compensation. The Racketer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) passed in 1970. The act permits asset freezes, which are takings. The Comprehensive Forfeiture Act passed in 1984 and permits police to confiscate property on “probable cause,” which often means merely the presence of cash.

The Sixth Amendment is a dead letter amendment. Prosecutors routinely withhold exculpatory evidence, and judges at prosecutors’ requests have limited attorneys’ ability to defend clients.The “war on terror” has introduced secret evidence and secret witnesses, making it impossible for a defendant and his attorney to defend against the evidence.

The Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of excessive bail and torture are routinely violated. It is another dead letter amendment.

It is paradoxical that every civil liberty in the Bill of Rights has been lost to a police state except for the Second Amendment, the gun rights of citizens. An armed citizenry is inconsistent with a police state, which the US now is.

Other aspects of our legal protections have been overturned, such as the long standing rule that crime requires intent. William Blackstone wrote: “An unwarrantable act without a vicious will is no crime at all.” But today we have crimes without intent. You can commit a crime and not even know it. See for example, Harvey Silverglate, Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent.

Attorney-client privilege has been lost. The indictment, prosecution, and imprisonment of defense attorney Lynne Stewart is a good example. The DOJ prevailed on her to defend a blind Muslim regarded by the DOJ as a “terrorist.” She was informed that “special administrative measures” had been applied to her client. She received a letter from the federal prosecutor informing her that she and her client would not be permitted attorney-client privilege, and that she was required to permit the government to listen to her conversations with her client. She was told that she could not carry any communications from her client to the outside world. She regarded all this as illegal nonsense and proceeded to defend her client in accordance with attorney-client privilege. Lynne Stewart was convicted of violating a letter written by a prosecutor as if the prosecutor’s letter were a law passed by Congres and present in the US code. Based on a prosecutor’s letter, Lynne Stewart was sentenced to prison. No law exists that upholds her imprisonment.

Our civil liberties are often said to be “natural rights” to which we are entitled. However, in historical fact civil liberty is a human achievement that required centuries of struggle. The long struggle for accountable law that culminated in the Glorious Revolution in England in the late 17th century can be traced back to Alfred the Great’s codification of English common law in the 9th century and to the Magna Carter in the early 13th century. Instead of issuing kingly edicts, Alfred based law on the traditional customs and behavior of the people. The Glorious Revolution established the supremacy of the people over the law and held the king and government accountable to law. The United States and other former British colonies inherited this accomplishment, an accomplishment that makes law a shield of the people and not a weapon in the hands of the state.

Today law as a shield of the people has been lost. The loss was gradual over time and culminated in the George W. Bush and Obama regime assaults on habeas corpus and due process. Lawrence Stratton and I explain how the law was lost in our book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions. Beginning with Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century, liberals saw the protective shield of law as a constraint on the government’s ability to do good. Bentham redefined liberty as the freedom of government from restraint, not the freedom of people from government. Bentham’s influence grew over time until in our own day, to use the worlds of Sir Thomas More in A man for All Seasons, the law was cut down so as to better chase after devils.

We cut down the law so that we could better chase after the Mafia.
We cut down the law so that we could better chase after drug users.
We cut down the law so that we could better chase after child abusers.
We cut down the law so that we could better chase after “terrorists.”
We cut down the law so that we could better chase after whistleblowers.
We cut down the law so that we could better cover up the government’s crimes.

Today the law is cut down. Any one of us can be arrested on bogus charges and be helpless to do anything about it.

There is very little concern in legal circles about this. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) does attempt to defend civil liberty. However, just as often the ACLU is not defending the civil liberties in the Bill of Rights that protect us from the abuse of government power, but newly invented “civil rights” that are not in the Constitution, such as “abortion rights,” the right to homosexual marriage, and rights to preferential treatment for preferred minorities.

An attack on abortion rights, for example, produces a far greater outcry and resistance than the successful attack on habeas corpus and due process. President Obama was able to declare his power to execute citizens by executive branch decision alone without due process and conviction in court, and it produced barely audible protest.

Historically, a government that can, without due process, throw a citizen into a dungeon or summarily execute him is considered to be a tyranny, not a democracy. By any historical definition, the United States today is a tyranny.

Blatantly Subjective Biloxi

It felt good being in Biloxi Mississippi this 27th of February. This southern gambling town was the place where eleven Libertarian candidates for President strutted their stuff in the Beau Rivage Casino Hotel for the first Presidential debate this election year. The Alabama and Mississippi Libertarian Parties put their heads together, combined their resources, and produced a fine event that has real political impact. Libertarians usually have a very small pool of candidates to choose from, but here would be eleven all in one place.

Now that I’ve seen them, I have to ask myself, who is going to come out on top?

Of course, there is no truly objective way of deciding an issue like this. Objective evaluations of candidates sound good but are mostly meaningless because every voter chooses based on their own subjective criteria anyway, and Libertarians are nothing if not subjective. I’m no exception. I still think Gary Johnson could have gotten a million more popular votes in 2012 if he had simply said he would prosecute (instead of bailout) bank and mortgage fraud. John McAfee made me question his sanity with his hookers and blow campaign start on the web a few weeks ago. This doesn’t make sorting out the potential of these candidates easy. Still, there are some criteria that can help. Can the candidate attract voters? Do they have a track record of success? Have they got the brains and charisma to sway an audience? In short, can they lead?

Subjective? You bet.

Before the debate I was able to walk around and ask basic questions of all the candidates except two. Steve Kerbel, from Colorado, fell ill at the last minute and could not attend, and Tom Clemments who appears to have been added to the stage at the last minute.

The first to speak was Marc Allen Feldman. An anesthesiologist from Washington D.C., he is a Libertarian Party life member and the LNC Region 3 rep. A compact man with horn rimmed glasses, he has a feisty and engaging personality, and looks like he might have been a boxer when younger, though he wasn’t. He speaks well, won’t take a donation greater than $5, and has accumulated $1000 in campaign funds from at least 200 people without the help of any campaign volunteers. He wants to implement dollar for dollar tax credits for things like private charity, but in table conversation I found him remarkably unable to appreciate what a problem it is that it costs more than $10,000 for a candidate for U.S. Senate to file to run in Florida. He truly gave the impression he didn’t care about money, and finding candidates is as easy as asking for them, attitudes that tell me he doesn’t care about winning. During the debate he advocated solving the immigration problem by opening the borders and just letting the welfare state collapse; an answer that made me shift in my chair because it ignores the incredible pain (and violence) it would bring to the country. There has to be a better way than collapse. Flippancy is not something I like in a President, nor in a national party rep.

Next came Cecil Ince, a railroad employee, part time actor and entrepreneur from Springfield, Missouri who has six volunteers working for him and has collected $500 in contributions so far. To me, he looked almost too young to even run for President (that is 35), and jokingly told me to put the word “nudity” in for any answers I needed from him.   He wants the Party under one banner, wants to dismantle the economic system, thinks that the 10th amendment was being violated, and that if elected he would charge his Attorney General to enforce the 10th with legal action. He likes a balanced budget amendment, but would rather repeal the 16th amendment than do a fair tax. He’s a motivated guy, who has a sense of humor, and speaks with confidence if not polish, but has little more than that going for him now.

Then came Gary Johnson, the LP 2012 Presidential candidate from Taos, New Mexico, and former Governor of that state which is something that he mentioned at least 14 times during the course of the debate. His campaign has approximately 1000 volunteers nationwide and he has raised “about” $100,000 so far, which is not bad for a Libertarian. He calls himself an entrepreneur, and recently resigned his position as CEO of Cannabis Sativa Inc., a marijuana supply company he founded, in order to run for office. His message is eerily similar to 2012; government is way too big, costs way too much, and personal liberty is under attack. The answer is to cut government spending, cut the income tax, and get the IRS out of people’s lives.  In 2012 the ACLU gave him 21 torches (out of a possible 24) for defending individual liberty whereas Ron Paul only got 18. He supports the Libertarian Party suing the Presidential Debate Commission for excluding third parties in a joint effort with the Green party. He says he is a natural competitor, climbed the seven highest summits on planet Earth, was already a (Republican) governor of New Mexico, seeks new challenges, and brings real experience to the LP Presidential race. I believe him. Real competition (and persistence) should be what Libertarians are about. However, he needs to raise general public confidence in himself by accounting for his own campaign debt from 2012, and taking a few more risks addressing the privilege of Wall Street types who don’t seem to live by the same laws the rest of us do. On a parting note, he called Donald Trump a “pussy.” Not my words, f’sure.

The surprise of the evening, for me, was John McAFee, the software creator, from Lexington, Tennessee. He calls himself a retired entrepreneur, but is starting a new company while campaigning called Future Tense Central. Remarkably candid about his life, he has been arrested for drug use, he is involved in an ongoing scandal in Belize that includes a murdered man, he was tortured by police authorities while south of the border, and he is convinced the drug war has failed. Creating victimless crimes only leads to creating more pimps and predators in this world. He understands the loss of personal freedom because it was denied him. At 70 years old, he claims he is in this race it to win it, and he has 120 nationwide volunteers in a self-financed campaign of which he is unsure how much he has already spent. I found him courteous and quick witted, with a sense of humor, all of which challenges my first media impression of him. I now have to wonder why he chose to open his campaign in such a way that prejudiced so many against him. The oddest thing is that I found him to be sincere, which was the last thing I thought I’d think. He also addressed that we cannot allow the government to have a backdoor on Apple phones, warned the biggest threat ahead is the coming cyber war with China and Russia, and that the U.S. can pay its bills with travel taxes and park fees while the income tax was eliminated (eh…I don’t know about that one). Overall, he talked like a thoughtful man who experienced the ugly side of life while creating a billion dollar company. However, his kind of baggage, though a personal victory for him, will be a public liability. Will the public trust someone who was so much on the wrong side of the law? Will libertarian rolls grow if he is the candidate? No, because it is already too difficult for the public to see past the crazy to see the good.

Darryl Perry is another young guy (could it be everyone is starting to look young to me?) who is a poised and passionate speaker. An affiliate relations specialist (?) from Keene New Hampshire, he proclaims that he joined the party of principle because it was not about half measures and incremental stuff. For example, cannabis being OK, but no hard drugs, is not a libertarian principle. His campaign has collected $2000 so far, and he may or may not have 12 volunteers, since he first said twelve, but then said he had none. As he spoke I couldn’t help thinking of the Billy Joel song the “Angry Young Man.” He said things like “I will proclaim principles of liberty every chance I get,” and “I have no ideas but proclaiming the ideas of liberty.” Fine sentiments, but he also says “The US government needs to be dissolved,” and “I am openly for succession.” Pity that he has these anarchistic ideas, because he obviously has the brains and presence to do well in politics, but advocates a philosophy that ultimately leads nowhere.

Then there is Austin Peterson from Peculiar Missouri, CEO of Stonegait Corp, and publisher of Libertarian Republic Magazine. He actually may be the youngest candidate because he will turn 35 on the campaign trail. Well spoken, well dressed, and media savvy, the best word that describes him is slick. I wouldn’t doubt that his media connections (a good thing) are what led to John Stossel having the first nationwide Libertarian TV debate to come on his show. He knows that appearances mean a lot, but I think he also knows contacts lead to opportunities. A self-proclaimed son of the Ron Paul Revolution, he became a Ron Paul volunteer and brought in 1200 other volunteers and $1 million in donations for him. As a Libertarian, he “turned the national party into a powerhouse of activism,” and has a plan to get us to 5% of the vote by making allies. At one point he said “If a 10% tax rate is good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.” He advocates abolishing the payroll tax, abolishing the corporate tax, wants to see a generational change in thinking about government, and says he will fight to make the USA a more libertarian republic. He has $25,000 in donations in his run President so far, and 4 volunteers. I don’t think he has the momentum to carry the nomination this year, but let’s see what happens in the future.

Derrick Reid is in an intensely different category. When I asked him what his occupation was he blurted a laundry list of occupations including being an engineer, a patent attorney, and living on the skids. He speaks fervently in conversation, almost feverishly. He claims to have analyzed the social economic structure of the nation, and come up with the solutions to our ills. He said at one point in the debate “I am astonished at the lack of economic understanding on this stage,” and continued with how it would be folly to actually advocate a balanced budget without clearly explaining why. In private conversation he touched on the power of the Federal Reserve, but I am not exactly sure he is against it. Among his quotes for the evening are “If you cannot win in your run for President you cannot change things for liberty.” “Incremental change to make a difference doesn’t work because we are talking about a step function in politics,” and “If nominated, I guarantee victory.” However his most infamous statement from the debates was that he was not only for the death penalty, but he thought 10 year olds should witness public executions, a comment that actually brought boos from the audience. He is from Laguna Beach California and has no financial contributors or volunteers. My advice to Mr. Reid is cut out the caffeine.

Jack Robinson JR, from Winston Salem, NC, is a distinguished looking businessman that owns a patent for a unique form of packaging and runs a heavy machinery manufacturing firm. “I’ve looked at the problems of the country and have a plan to fix the economic problems…” but to me that message was never really filled out in the debate. He did recommend a descending flat tax, which I personally think is more of what we have now, and that he would split up every dollar that comes in to the government so as to make sure at least 25% goes to paying off debt. My favorite line from him…”What’s wrong with open carry?” So far he has no money and no volunteers.

Rhett Rosenquist Smith – from San Antonio Texas, is a private security contractor, and a Navy veteran from 1979-83. He calls what he thinks is an imminent revolution in this country “the libertarian revolution,” and says he will fill the “urgent need to reawaken and rekindle the nation.” Bush, Cheney, Obama and Clinton are destroying our lives. He said we should win battles in economics, but then came out with the idea there should be no sales, property or income taxes for low income folks; a progressive idea that, in my opinion, does not enforce common and equal individual rights, but establishes a class of people who are privileged. He has 5 volunteers and has made no FEC filings yet.

Shawna Sterling is a cheerful woman from Brooksville, KY, who is a non-fee pastoral counselor. She spoke about how she grew up Republican, then turned Democrat to become an Obama organizer. Unfortunately she didn’t seem to have enough time in her opening statement to get a clear idea out about why she is a libertarian now. One thing did come through clearly is that the Affordable Care Act needs to be repealed, and she related how she knows people whose medical insurance premiums have doubled already. “The IRS should have nothing to do with healthcare.” She currently has no campaign donations, nor volunteers.

And last on the stage was Tom Clemments, from Louisiana. His was the only candidate without a name banner, which was because he was a last minute add-on to the debate. He is driven by ideas of unity in the country and the welfare of his grandchildren. He talked about how “It’s just a two party system” but also how the founding fathers did not create this. On other topics he was not so clear, and seemed to dance around the issues. When asked about being for or against the death penalty, he said “that’s a touchy subject” but his point was buried in so much follow on jargon, I’m not sure if he is for or against it. He did say, call your rep and say we need a flat tax both for business and for individuals. Other quotes are “The second amendment protects all others,” and “The EPA is designed to take property.” Perhaps, in time, he will get his ideas out in a clearer fashion.

So, can these candidates attract voters? Do they have a track record of success? Have they got the brains and charisma to sway an audience? In short, can they lead?

I’m sure you’ve already decided on your own.

Regards

Pete