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

 

 

 

 

NFLP Disavows Augustus Sol Invictus

The Northwest Florida Libertarian Party Disavows Augustus Sol Invictus as Libertarian Candidate for U.S. Senate

Augustus Sol Invictus, a registered Libertarian from Orange County Florida, seeks to win the U.S. Senate seat from Florida in the 2016 election. Normally, the Northwest Florida Libertarian Party (NFLP) welcomes the real competition and real solutions that Libertarian candidates bring to Florida elections.  However, in this case, the Executive Committee voted unanimously to neither condone nor support the candidacy of Mr. Invictus on the Libertarian Party Ticket.

Libertarians eschew the use of force to achieve social or political goals, and justify  force only in defense of ones rights, property or person.   Through his writings, video presentations and personal appearances, Mr. Invictus has advocated for civil war, as well as advocating for a state run eugenics program that would weed out what he would consider the weakest, the mentally infirm and the most diseased.   The NFLP echoes the popular sentiment from across the political spectrum that such attitudes are abhorrent. They are completely in opposition to what Libertarians stand for.

Unfortunately, the LPF is powerless to prevent Mr. Invictus being on the ballot.  In 2007 the Florida Legislature removed provisions of FS 96.096 that allowed political parties to approve of who ran under their banners.  The LPF officially opposes this law. Unless he is opposed by another candidate in a primary election, a matter that requires a great deal of money and an additional candidate, Mr. Invictus will bear the Libertarian name on the ballot before the voters.  The law removed First Amendment protections from all political parties, major and minor alike, to decide who represents them, and invites political mischief from anyone with a checkbook that can pay the candidate filing fee.  Libertarians would no more advocate that Republicans or Democrats be forced to accept candidates they do not want than we would have to accept such candidates ourselves.

The NFLP strongly urges Mr. Invictus to remove himself from the Libertarian Party of Florida and find a group more in line with his ideology.

Pete Blome

Chair, Northwest Florida Libertarian Party

What A Deal

What A Deal

On October 1st the Mid Bay Bridge Authority (MBBA) will raise tolls on the Bridge and Bypass so that a round trip from Crestview to Destin will cost a “non frequent” user $12. If a person uses the bridge more than 40 times a month, their toll stays at $7 round trip, but if they use it 39 times or less using Sunpass, they’ll pay $9. Just a few years ago people would have scoffed at the notion of such high tolls. Perhaps we all should be thankful they aren’t higher.

When the government is called upon to provide services, which should always be the last resort, they should provide the greatest amount at the least cost. What Okaloosa has now are tolls that cost workers who use the Bridge and Bypass even part time at least a $1000 a year. That isn’t chump change, nor does it help economic growth. How did something as simple as managing a bridge get so out of hand?

First, from early on, and in typical government fashion, the Bridge Authority relied on debt instead of using cash. The bridge was originally built for $65 million dollars, but after 20 years Bridge Authority debt now officially stands at a whopping $285 million. For at least a decade the cost of the bridge operators was deferred as debt with the State of Florida. Every new road spur and toll booth was funded with debt, as was the Bypass road. All of that debt was funded with bonds issued under the exclusive control of the MBBA, the value of which now sit perilously just above junk. This coming October’s toll increase is directly linked to keeping bond ratings up for the bond issue that happened this past May.

Next, in the crucial years just before Bypass construction, the MBBA seemed to have bought into the idea that the number of cars using the bridge would grow to the sky. No one in authority seemed to ask “What if there are fewer cars?” The volume of cars using the bridge peaked around 2006. Since then, the average yearly number of cars is about one million less than at the peak. It’s doubtful that the new tolls will make more people want to use the bridge.

Then came the blind eye by the only government agency given any responsibility by law to oversee the MBBA, the Okaloosa County Commission. It’s routine for them to not ask a single question about the MBBA operating budget, even though they have this power. Furthermore, many years ago, the past County Legal Advisor, John Dowd, interpreted that law to mean that only the MBBA Executive Director’s office budget was subject to County oversight. Figuratively speaking, he said the County Commission could only argue over how many secretaries the MBBA has. As questionable a legal opinion as that is, that is only about $800,000 out of an $18 million dollar yearly budget. To whom is the remaining $17 million accountable? No one but the MBBA themselves.  By the way, the past Executive Director got paid at least $250,000 a year for his services from the MBBA budget.

Taken altogether, you have a lot of borrowed money being financed by a smaller number of vehicles crossing the bridge, run by a government agency that is essentially responsible to no one, that used over-optimistic growth projections, being pressured by outside bond underwriters demanding higher tolls to service debt on new bonds, and backed up by a County Commission that never asks any questions. Is it any wonder why tolls went up?

What’s clear is the MBBA is unaccountable. In the meantime, the average Okaloosa citizen will painfully pay for this unaccountability with their labor, not just now, but forever. What a deal.

Pity. Everyone in Okaloosa would have been better off if the Bridge Authority simply focused on paying off its debts.  Imagine how the local economy would be helped if it cost 50 cents instead of $8 to go back and forth cross the bridge each day.

Now that would have been the real bargain.

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

If You Were Free

 

By Joshua Joscelyn, Secretary NFLP

I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” –Harriet Tubman

Every July 4th, Americans partake in a rather confusing and disturbing exercise in denial. Big and small, black and white, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, the overwhelming majority of Americans take a day off from the job they spend 40-60 hours a week at, bring together the family they never otherwise spend time with, fire up the grill at a home they probably owe thousands of dollars on, just three months after they sent up to half of their income to the government, and spend the day congratulating each other on how free they are.

Euphoric Delusion

Americans are languishing in a euphoric delusion of freedom that arrests progress by propagating apathy and self-righteous indignation when anyone dares to question the status quo. Logical fallacies are typically substituted for rational, thought-provoking discussion – fallacies like, “America: love it or leave it” or “America is the freest country in the world – and if you don’t agree, move to North Korea.” This is not rationality. This is an emotional reaction to rationality based in fear of admitting the truth: that America is not free. America hasn’t been free in any meaningful sense for many decades.


Truth is Treason

But to make this statement is to commit a kind of treason. George Orwell said it best when he stated, “Truth is treason in an empire of lies.” It’s like the boy in the children’s story by Hans Christian Anderson who said what no one else could bring themselves to admit: the emperor has no clothes. Everyone had gathered for a parade and celebration of the emperor’s new clothes, just as Americans host parties and parades for their freedoms. But the freedoms they celebrate are as fictional as the clothes that supposedly adorned the emperor’s back.

Truth Will Set You Free

Why we lost our freedoms is a topic for another time, but in a nutshell, sin is what has robbed this once great nation of the freedoms she once possessed. In Proverbs 28:2, the Bible tells us, “For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof” – and I might add, many are the laws thereof. And in fact, according to Harvey Silvergate, who wrote Three Felonies a Day, the average American adult commits three felonies every day without even knowing it. A society of people who refused to govern themselves by God’s laws has been turned over to an overwhelming onslaught of impossible statutes and regulations to entrap and enslave them, and the solution is to first acknowledge that the problem exists and then accept the truth of Jesus and His Word. Christ pointed this out to the sinful leaders of the Jewish society who were at that time occupied by and under tribute to Rome in a very interesting exchange:

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

I spent the last 4th of July thinking about this staggering level of denial that pervades our society as it apparently did the Jewish society under Roman rule, and I typed out just what society would look like if we really were as free as we deceived ourselves into thinking we were. In no particular order, I noted 100 things that would be different if we really were free like the digitally lobotomized, mentally-enslaved morons of today say we are. I could have noted 100 more quite easily, but for the sake of brevity, I limited the list to 100 things that each represent a smoking gun, and taken as a whole scream out, “the emperor has no clothes!”

This is a wakeup call.

100 Things That Would Be Different

  1. If we were free, taxation wouldn’t steal about half our earnings.
  2.  If we were free, the national debt would be zero.
  3. If we were free, the laws in this country would not be too numerous to count…literally. Look it up. No one knows just how many we now have in the USA. We’ve lost count. Over 40,000 were added to the books in 2010 alone.
  4. If we were free, we could fish for our supper without asking and paying the government for permission.
  5. If we were free, we could pick up a bird feather from the sidewalk without fear of committing a felony in the event it was from a protected species.
  6. If we were free, we could hunt to feed our families without paying the government for permission or going to jail for getting the wrong animal in the wrong season.
  7. If we were free, the police wouldn’t resemble an occupation military force.
  8. If we were free, our right to keep and bear arms would not be limited, infringed, and subject to permits.
  9. If we were free, we could sell milk.
  10. If we were free, we would be allowed to own any of the herbs bearing seed that God gave us.
  11. If we were free, we wouldn’t have the largest prison population on the planet with 25% of all prisoners in the world incarcerated in the US.
  12. If we were free, 90% of our prison inmates would not be in prison for non-violent crimes.
  13. If we were free, we could remodel or add onto our homes without paying the government for permission.
  14. If we were free, we wouldn’t have to pay the government for permission to feed our families in most occupations.
  15. If we were free, the bulk of federal revenues would be from small tariffs (and not the protective tariffs that subsidize favored industries and businesses).
  16. If we were free, our right to defend ourselves would also be honored in parks, schools, airports, post offices, federal buildings, court houses, military installations, etc.
  17. If we were free, we could shoot off any kind of fireworks we wanted.
  18. If we were free, we would not have occupation forces in virtually every country of the world.
  19. If we were free, states could secede when they deemed it in their best interest without fear of genocidal military invasion, subjugation, and forced occupation.
  20. If we were free, the government would not rob us to pay lazy people not to work.
  21. If we were free, we would not be extorted for driving faster than an arbitrarily determined limit.
  22. If we were free, the federal government would not own 28% of all land in the United States.
  23. If we were free, we would be allowed to collect our own rainwater.
  24. If we were free, we could choose whether or not to have auto insurance.
  25. If we were free, we could choose whether or not to have health insurance.
  26. If we were free, we would not have to pay the government for permission to drive our own vehicles.
  27. If we were free, we would not have to pay the government for permission to cross national borders.
  28. If we were free, we could hire who we wanted to, regardless of their citizenship status.
  29. If we were free, we could choose who we did business with on any basis of discrimination.
  30. If we were free, we could build a shed on our own property without paying the government for permission.
  31. If we were free, we wouldn’t care nearly as much about who was running for president.
  32. If we were free, we would know more about our state legislature than about Kim “The Trash Can” Kardashian.
  33. If we were free, street preachers wouldn’t be arrested for using amplification or failing to pay the government for permission to be on public property.
  34. If we were free, we could sell prepared food without paying the government for permission and getting a second, commercial kitchen.
  35. If we were free, the government wouldn’t be reading our emails, storing our phone data, listening to our phone conversations, and monitoring social media posts.
  36. If we were free, we could sell our airline tickets to our neighbors and friends.
  37. If we were free, we could board an airplane without being groped, radiated, and digitally undressed in Nazi-style turnstiles like cattle.
  38. If we were free, we could opt out of the Ponzi scheme known as Social Security.
  39. If we were free, we wouldn’t have individual inventory numbers, like cattle, under the guise of a mandatory retirement program.
  40. If we were free, our government wouldn’t define marriage.
  41. If we were free, we would formulate ideas independent of those given us by the talking heads in the mainstream media.
  42. If we were free, we wouldn’t be under the impression that voluntary sterilization was a good idea.
  43. If we were free, our first thought when wanting to do something major would not be, “Who do I need to get a permit from for that?”
  44. If we were free, we wouldn’t have to turn in our vehicle deeds in exchange for government tags.
  45. If we were free, there would be no federal funding for local police agencies.
  46. If we were free, families wouldn’t live in fear of having their children taken from them.
  47. If we were free, you wouldn’t need to opt your children out of mandatory vaccination programs.
  48. If we were free, we wouldn’t automatically be medicated with fluoride in the water supply.
  49. If we were free, anyone could live on their land in a camper trailer or tent if they so chose.
  50. If we were free, anyone could live off grid, whether in city limits or not.
  51. If we were free, we could work for whatever wage we agreed to with our employer.
  52. If we were free, we could work for as many or few hours as we agreed to with our employer.
  53. If we were free, we could sell anything the market demanded, even if frowned on by the majority (drugs, guns, etc.).
  54. If we were free, we could use midwife services freely.
  55. If we were free, we could have home births without the risk of losing our children or facing penalties should something go wrong.
  56. If we were free, we could practice homeopathic medicine without paying the government for permission or being persecuted by the FDA.
  57. If we were free, anyone could study and practice medicine without a formal degree and government license.
  58. If we were free, anyone could study and practice law without a formal degree and government license.
  59. If we were free, you could buy electricity without a government inspection of your hookup.
  60. If we were free, homeowners wouldn’t be tried for firing in self defense when police conduct no-knock raids at the wrong address.
  61. If we were free, we wouldn’t have sobriety checkpoints.
  62. If we were free, we wouldn’t have immigration checkpoints, especially those 50 miles from the border.
  63. If we were free, jurors would judge the law as well as the facts.
  64. If we were free, we could educate our children as we saw fit without asking the government for permission or complying with standards set by bureaucrats.
  65. If we were free, the government couldn’t assassinate you with a drone before a jury of your peers convicted you.
  66. If we were free, we could buy sinus medication without showing a local driver’s license.
  67. If we were free, we could own a shotgun with a barrel shorter than 18 inches or fully automatic weapons.
  68. If we were free, there would be no such thing as a gag order.
  69. If we were free, you could conduct transactions with your bank in amounts greater than $10,000 without getting reported to the IRS.
  70. If we were free, you could travel overseas without having to tell the government your private business in order to get back into the country.
  71. If we were free, we could build a business next to or onto our home, regardless of zoning.
  72. If we were free, you couldn’t be imprisoned on charges of conspiracy for living in the same house as someone who does drugs.
  73. If we were free, we wouldn’t lose half our buying power every decade to inflation
  74. If we were free, our money would be worth something, rather than being backed only by the threat of government.
  75. If we were free, our money would not be confiscated and used to pay off other countries to the tune of billions of dollars every day.
  76. If we were free, you couldn’t have your child taken away for choosing natural cancer treatments over cancer-causing radiation and chemotherapy.
  77. If we were free, we wouldn’t have to give our entire life history just to get a driver’s license that registers us in a federal database.
  78. If we were free, our money wouldn’t be taken from us to bail out private corporations.
  79. If we were free, we could gamble online if we so desired.
  80. If we were free, our firearms would not be seized during hurricanes or other disasters.
  81. If we were free, there would be no governmental “no fly” list.
  82. If we were free, we wouldn’t need “free speech zones.”
  83. If we were free, you could give an impromptu tour of Washington DC without going to prison for 90 days.
  84. If we were free, we could let our children play in the yard unsupervised without going to jail and/or losing our children.
  85. If we were free, the world wouldn’t hate us. We used to be free, and they flocked to and loved us.
  86. If we were free, we could own a pet deer without going to jail.
  87. If we were free, we wouldn’t be required to file paperwork with the IRS every year disclosing all our most intimate financial data.
  88. If we were free, ministers could solemnize marriages in which no government license was purchased without fear of being prosecuted by the government.
  89. If we were free, we could host Bible studies in our own homes without being locked up for 60 days for violating zoning laws.
  90. If we were free, we could grow vegetables in our front yards, and not just grass lawns.
  91. If we were free, we wouldn’t be eight times more likely to be killed by a cop than by a terrorist.
  92. If we were free, you couldn’t be arrested for attempting to pay a highway toll with cash.
  93. If we were free, the federal government would not be allowed to imprison us indefinitely without so much as formal charges.
  94. If we were free, the federal government would not reserve the “right” of “extraordinary rendition,” by which they can transport US citizens to other countries to torture them, since torturing citizens here might pose certain legal obstacles.
  95. If we were free, there would not be a surveillance camera mounted on nearly every telephone pole, street corner, and traffic light.
  96. If we were free, public school students across the nation wouldn’t be required to wear RFID tracking chips.
  97. If we were free, students wouldn’t be arrested for burping in class or drawing guns.
  98. If we were free, the president of the US would not claim the power to choose if a US citizen is to be tried in a military tribunal or in a jury trial.
  99. If we were free, you wouldn’t have to register your pets with the government.
  100. If we were free, police would not be setting up fake cell towers called “Stingrays” to collect your cell phone data without a warrant, thus localizing the surveillance state and adding yet one more to the list of government bodies spying on your every move and communication, making you that much more a prisoner and slave.

Face Facts

It’s time to stop rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and gushing over the latest celebrity presidential candidates. It’s time to face facts. Americans need to come to grips with the bleak reality in this country: We’re NOT free in this country. Everything would be different if we were. Instead, everything is illegal. This country cherishes statism and tyranny. And we’ve passed the point of political reform. Our only hope is in acknowledging the problem and calling out to God for mercy. Americans need to cancel the fireworks and seek after the Lord. He alone can save us from this bondage.