Libertarian Intelligence

Signal Intelligence About The LP

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Monday, November 15, 2021

JudCom Correctly Upholds Unjustified Harlos Suspension

(Disclosure: I wrote a minority opinion in the 2011 Oregon case, and the majority opinion in the 2012 floor fee case. While I was then re-elected to JudCom in 2012, I've since steered clear of LPUS drama, after concluding that the Platform we drafted in 2008 would endure. Instead, I've been serving as Silicon Valley's sole remaining elected Libertarian.)

Chuck Moulton's majority opinion for the Judicial Committee is nearly flawless -- as I would expect from Chuck. The LNC's grounds for suspending Harlos ran the gamut from weak to comical. The only close question here is: at what threshold of for-cause weakness should the JC substitute its judgment for the LNC's?

The only LNC charge rising above comical was "behavior detrimental to the party".  Mary Ruwart's dissent gives good guidance as to how such a charge should have been substantiated. But instead the LNC offered a pile of bland evidence showing various kinds of dysfunction, but with no real evidence of material harm to the party. When 2/3 of the LNC uses such charges to remove an enemy "for cause", the proper venue of recourse is not the JC, but the LNC elections at the next national convention.  The JC's job is to make sure the rules are followed -- not to make sure the rules are used only for good outcomes.

Alicia Mattson's concurring opinion mostly covered the same topics as Moulton's. Less is more, and the majority should try to unite around a single opinion. Mattson should have limited her concurring opinion to the for-cause grounds she thinks are defensible. When your candidate majority opinion loses to another, edit it down so that the majority speaks with as singular a voice as possible.

Many of the arguments deployed by respondents, appellant, and dissenter Robinson are just as weak as the LNC's for-cause case. Proceedings before the Libertarian Party Judicial Committee should show the world how the party's most sober minds can follow the rules to which Libertarians have voluntarily agreed, without government intervention. I'm appalled and embarrassed at the arguments that had to be processed in this case -- even more so than by the LNC dysfunction that motivated it.

C'mon people -- the enemy is not in this room. The cause of liberty is too important. Grow up. 

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Replace 140M Federal Taxpayers With 50

Earnest but moderate LP presidential candidates like Gary Johnson and Jim Gray get themselves into trouble with "hardcore" Libertarians when they advocate policies like the Fair Tax or a negative income tax. These earnest candidates get trapped into specifying exactly how they would raise the trillions in revenue that the unconstitutional federal leviathan currently demands. Instead, they should advocate that in these United States of North America there should be only 50 federal taxpayers: the states themselves.

That's how it was originally specified in the Articles of Confederation: all federal revenue had to be supplied by the several states, and each state could decide how to raise its share of the revenue. With this policy, the POTUS candidate doesn't have to defend a particular tax scheme that states might use. Instead, states would compete on tax policy, and competition would quickly show which scheme was least bad.

The same applies for social insurance policies like the negative income tax, Social Security, and Medicare. There is no state in the union that is so poor that it cannot provide for its own poor. For federal social insurance programs, just divide the assets of their trust funds among the states. (The formula could be by population, by past total contributions, by estimated future liability, or some combination of these. Treat this as a bankruptcy, because that's what it is.)

The first Libertarian POTUS should not feel obligated to advocate even a temporary continuation of the unconstitutional federal nanny state and the federal payroll taxes that finance it. Instead, divide and conquer the federal leviathan, and make each state own its share of the problem. When a Libertarian is in the White House, the District of Columbia should stop being the place where tax and income policy is dictated to 140 million taxpayers. Replace them all with just 50, and de-power D.C.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Questions for Elected Libertarians

Answering an April 18 email from Carla Howell, Political Director of the LPUS:

Dear Elected Libertarians,

Thank you for running for and serving in office as a Libertarian. Your commitment to advancing liberty is greatly appreciated.

In an effort to understand more about what it's like to be a Libertarian in office, I'd appreciate your sending me a quick reply summarizing the key issues you are dealing with, any successes you have had, the major obstacles you face, and how fellow Libertarians might be able to assist you in office.

A few specific questions are listed below - or feel free just to send a quick statement on how you see things.

Thank you for your time, and best of luck advancing your Libertarian agenda!

​Questions for Libertarians service in office​

1. Do you have any specific goals for shrinking government in some way, e.g., repealing an ordinance, cutting a tax, cutting the level of total government spending?

My goal is have Purissima Hills Water District effectively privatize itself, by
  • declining to exercise its compulsory government powers e.g. to regulate water use;
  • passing the district's water costs and purchase rights directly to our owner-ratepayers;
  • declining to request or accept tax-financed aid from other government bodies; and
  • cutting wasteful spending.
2. Have you had any victories with the above?
  • In 2009-2010 I proposed an incentive-based alternative to the state's onerous default water-conservation ordinance, and got my proposal passed by our city council.
  • In 2014 the board was poised to adopt an ordinance imposing new water-use restrictions in case of drought, but I persuaded the board to instead use drought pricing that passes on to retail over-consumers the penalties the district pays for wholesale overuse.
  • When I was elected in 2008, the board was planning a million-dollar permanent facility to use a local lake as an emergency water source. I successfully advocated for a radical downsizing of the project, replacing permanent facilities with inexpensive dual-use portable equipment, and increasing the operating capacity and seismic toughness of our storage tanks.
3. Have you had any victories in stopping the growth of government, e.g. stopping a tax hike; blocking a new municipal building, project, or program; stopping a spending increase? 

See (2).

4. What are the biggest obstacles you face as a Libertarian in advancing your agenda?

The biggest obstacle so far has been the unquestioning acceptance of the ideas that regulation works better than incentives, that any power we have is ethical to use, and that we should treat our customers as our subjects rather than our shareholders.

5. Is there anything that fellow Libertarians in your state or district could do to support your efforts?

Show up!  Pick a local government body, and attend a meeting.  Once you are in the room, your Libertarian instincts will kick in.  You'll find yourself speaking up during public comments,  giving feedback to elected officials and their staff, and volunteering for openings on advisory committees.

If you don't show up, you are guaranteed zero influence. If you just show up, you'll be surprised at the influence you can have.  Politicians assume that for every attendee, there are many many more voters not present who share the attendee's perspective.  The less principled they are, the more power they cede to you and your principles -- but only if you show up.

6. Is there anything you recommend that Libertarians running for office do to better prepare themselves to advance liberty if elected? 

Show up!  (Also, watch any online videos of recent meetings of the body you're running for.)

Sunday, March 30, 2014

2014 LPCA Convention Day 2

9:20 Ballot access hero Richard Winger spoke on Top Two to a highly-interested audience.  He cited the majority Democrat 31st congressional district in which 2 Republicans beat 4 Democrats, disenfranchising the majority party in the November ballot. He cited LPCA RegLib increase from 109K in Nov 2012 to 112.5K in Mar 2014, and pointed out that RegLib numbers are up in 21 out of 25 states that register Libertarians.  California’s increase of 3.5% is 20th out of those 21, just ahead of Oregon’s 3.4% increase to 16K.  The next two states with the most RegLibs were: #8 Pennsylvania up 25% to 45K, and #10 Arizona up 20% to 27K. Winger endorsed Californians For Electoral Reform, which helped him when a state court ordered him a some co-plaintiffs to pay opponents’ attorney fees.
10:20 Dave Curtis, Green candidate for Secretary of State, spoke for a few minutes about his campaign, saying he hoped to represent all alternative parties in the race.
10:30 Treasurer Brian Darby announced that Art Tuma had generously donated $1000 to the LPCA.
10:30 There was informal discussion about how to count how many delegates had (per convention rule 3.3) registered for today’s session.
10:35 2012 LP Presidential candidate Gary Johnson spoke via webcast. Enthusiastic about new California marijuana freedom.  He said Libertarians don’t win elections, but our issues are winning: marijuana, gay marriage, non-intervention. Our America Initiative is suing the presidential debates commission to force inclusion for any candidate registered in enough states to win the electoral college.  90% of the four years spent running for President was “wasted time”, so he’s not repeating those parts of his efforts.  Media is hungry for the libertarian perspective, but need to be corrected that libertarians are not a kind of conservative. “Libertarians are flaming liberals when it comes to civil liberties.”  Starchild questioned the hundreds of thousands paid to Ron Nielson by the Johnson Campaign. Johnson said Nielson’s firm lost hundreds of thousands on the campaign. His Fair Tax plan would cut federal spending by 25%.  If he were dictator, he could cut the 60% of federal spending required by replacing the income tax with nothing.
11:00 Convened with 46 delegates registered. Convention rule 3.3 was suspended and presence on the floor was considered signification of registration for the day.  (Matt Barnes objected that a non-debatable rule suspension was being combined with a debatable rule change, but he seems to have mistakenly thought that the rule change was permanent.)
11:12 Ted Brown nominated attorney (and Attorney General candidate) Jonathan Jaech for Southern Vice Chair. Elected by voice vote with one dissent.
11:24 ExCom voting.  Top 5 win 2-year ExCom terms, 6th finishes a 1-year vacancy, and 7th and 8th become alternates.
2:30 ExCom results announced:
  • 39 Antoine Hage – founder of new California college libertarians group
  • 38 Leon Weinstein – fundraiser; active in the Russian community
  • 37 Kevin Duewel – Ron Paul activist, San Mateo County vice-chair
  • 36 Jim Hoerricks – appointed incumbent; elected water board member
  • 32 Jose Tovar – from Fresno; bilingual
  • 31 Dana McLorn – championed college libertarians; not happy with current LPCA energy
  • 25 Flavio Fiumerodo – worked on web site and Sacramento office; wants to make electronic newsletter more frequent
  • 24 Stephen Blakeman – Yolo County chair
  • 19 Jose Castaneda – long-time LPLAC and LPCA activist
  • 16 David McDonald – will keep county chairs informed; we are the party of capitalism
2:40 Video tribute to Stephen Collette (1954-2013)
2:45 Judicial Committee nominees: Ted Brown, Aaron Starr, Jill Pyeatt.  Accepted by acclamation. They will have to appoint two other members.
2:50 LNC representative: Dan Wiener re-elected 32-25 over Dave Jones.  (Many voters may have thought they vote for both while ranking them, however rankings did not matter.)
3:30 LNC alternate representative.  Mark Hinkle nominated LPCA Secretary Janine Kloss. Gale Morgan nominated incumbent Scott Lieberman.
4:15 Results: Lieberman defeated Kloss 25-20 on 40 ballots cast.
4:20 42 party members were chosen to be delegates to the LPUS convention in Ohio, out of the 120 delegate slots allocated to the LPCA.
4:30 Hinkle proposed a resolution to limit future conventions to San Diego, LA, Orange counties, and the SF Bay Area. Failed for lack of 5 seconders.
4:35 Jose Castaneda proposed a resolution declaring that “running Libertarians as Libertarians is an essential function of the LPCA.”  LPCA has 1 statewide candidate, while Greens have 5, and Peace And Freedom has 3.   Resolution fails
4:48 Endorsed
  • Jonathan Jaech for Attorney General
  • Jose Castaneda for Board of Equalization
  • Michael Stogner for San Mateo County Board of Supervisors
  • Jedediah Biagi for Nevada County Board of Supervisors
4:57 Kelly Mordecai moved to suspend the rules for a straw poll.
5:00 Adjourned

Saturday, March 29, 2014

2014 LPCA Convention Day 1

The Libertarian Party of California convened today in Visalia.

09:15 Came to order with 44 delegates. Kevin Duewel elected Secretary Pro Tem.
09:45 Chair’s report by Kevin Takenaga. Registered Libertarians count is up, surpassing Greens for the first time since c. 1990. Highlighted elected officials and a new College Libertarians group, which held its first convention here yesterday.
10:00 N. Vice Chair’s report by Gale Morgan. Yolo and
MadisonPlacer county affiliates activated. San Mateo county endorsed Doug Radtke for City Council, and has been energized by new Secretary Kevin Duewel. We had 98000 Reglibs in Aug 2013. Set a goal for increase, it’s already been surpassed.
10:11 Treasurer’s report by Brian Darby. $12K operating loss was due to a large donor re-targeting donations to the county level. Switching from DonorPerfect to Neon will cut labor costs from $20K in 2013 to $4500 in 2014. 793 members currently. Cutting convention budget (i.e. floor fees, and thus cutting convention profit from $7000 to $700) did not appreciably increase attendance.
10:20 LNC Representative’s report by Dan Wiener. LNC is purchasing an $825K office ($300K down-payment) to replace Watergate rental office. Will save about $5K/month in cash flow. National convention is in June in Columbus Ohio. LP candidate for VA governor (Sarvis) got 6%. LNC social media outreach is active. Hired Wes Benedict as Executive Director, moved Carla Howell to Political Director.
10:40 College Libertarians founder Antoine Hage spoke. Created 3 campus clubs in 3 months. Focus on local elections.
10:47 Gale Morgan, Treasurer of Candidate Support Committee. Spent $25K fighting Top Two. Donated to several campaigns. Balance is $15K.
10:50 Officer Q&A. Jose Castenada asked about the lack of state-level candidates. Takenaga answered: Top Two. 10,000 signatures needed to waive filing fee, and doesn’t guarantee spot on November ballot. Gale Morgan: RegLib count is high enough that we no longer need 2% in the gubernatorial election.
11:00 Brian Darby: 2012 convention earned $7K profit. 2013 had lower floor fees, earned $700 profit, but no increased attendance. Starchild asked for more spending details.
11:05 Mark Hinkle: we had 3992 members in 1992, but 793 now. Takenaga: RegLibs matter more than paying memberships. LPUS and LPCA used to have joint membership. Hinkle: “you guys are failing”.
11:10 Aaron Starr: Membership revenues discrepency. Brian Darby: page-1 figures are net, combining income and expense. Roughly $6K revenue shared to counties, not shown in data.
11:14 Takenaga explains Coffee Club donor program, says it hasn’t been pushed and has probably gone down.
11:15 Brian Darby: would need a Bylaws change to allow teleconference meetings.
11:18 Q&A extended 10 minutes. Matt Barnes asked what members can do to help. Antoine Hage asked for help for College Libertarians. Darby and Morgan emphasized local politics. Wiener: recruit from new RegLibs.
11:26 Castenada asked about Candidate Support Committee. Morgan: guidelines are: candidate has to be on ballot, endorsed by county, and have a web site.
11:28 Morgan: county chairs association has been meeting by Google hangout.
11:30 Morgan began the Platform report with Proposal 1 to rewrite IV-5 Immigration & Citizenship. Aaron Starr moved to strike 3rd paragraph about “sovereignty of California”. Amendment failed narrowly. Proposal failed 25 for, 14 against.
12:00 Lunch.
2:15 promoted free campaign websites for candidates.
2:20 Libertarian city council members: John Inks of Mountain View, Susan Marie Weber of Palm Desert, Jeffrey Hewitt of Calimesa.
Weber: Everything you do is a chance to promote libertarianism. I’m a tax accountant who tells people that taxation is theft.
Hewitt: I’ve had more libertarian impact as appointed planning commissioner than as elected city councilman, so volunteer for local boards. Libertarians are the mainstream. I’d like to sell legalized drugs and prostitution, but we need to prioritize the freedom to prosper. Told a Tea Party crowd he favored marijuana legalization, and realized he was a libertarian. Got LP donations in his city council race. Planning to bring other candidates into the LP. Once we get one Libertarian in the legislature, then the landslide will begin.
Inks: 5 of 7 current city councilmen in Mountain View did not win first council race. Built resume as commissioner. Staff and colleagues respect my principles. Declined to join Mayors Against Guns, so opponents organized a march against him. Termed out, trying to recruit a replacement.
3:15 Panel of Libertarian water board members Jonathan Hall (Tehachapi Cummings), Jim Hoerricks (West Valley), and Brian Holtz (Purissima Hills). Discussed water supply issues, pricing, and tragedy of the commons from well over-use.
4:00 Platform Proposal 2 to replace IV-1 IV-7 IV-9 and V-8 with a new consolidated IV-1 “Criminal & Civil Laws” plank. Starr moves to not delete IV-9 “Sovereign Immunity”. Votes against his own motion after receiving a clarification, but his motion passes anyway. Amended proposal failed 19 for, 14 against.
4:24 Proposal 3 to replace 11,13 and 14 of IV with a consolidated sub-plank after IV-16 titled “Family, Marriage, and Reproductive Rights”. Starr moved to divide the question, to delete the 3 planks first (by majority vote) before adding the consolidated new plank (by 2/3 vote). Starr’s motion failed, after criticism that it was an attempt to hold the platform hostage. The proposal failed 21 for, 13 against.
4:40 Proposal 4 to delete opposition to laws setting drinking ages and curfews. Starr moves to adjourn because there is not a 2/3 sentiment for approving any platform changes. Motion carries, adjourned at 4:50.
The first 3 platform proposals were major consolidations of multiple planks, but the PlatCom handouts did not include the language being replaced. The full copies of the Platform in the delegate handout did not include plank numbers or section headers, so it was hard for delegates to understand what each proposal was deleting. This may have contributed to the failure of all the proposed platform changes.
Tomorrow: officer elections and Bylaws debate.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

2013 LPCA Convention Day 2

59 delegates convened for the officer elections this morning.  On the last day of his term as Northern Vice Chair before devoting himself to his new job as LPWA executive director, C. Michael Pickens nominated Janine Kloss for Chair.  He praised her for the work she put into strategy and marketing documents for the LPWA.  Kloss told the delegates: "I'm not coming with a plan, but a question: what can the Executive Committee do for you?" A letter from Kloss distributed on the convention floor did not mention any LPCA office or plans, aside from saying "It is now the time to grow the LP by sharing the morality of the non-aggression principle." Her nomination was seconded by Mark Hinkle, who said she also had the support of Ted Brown and Mary Gingell.  (All three are former LPCA Chairs, and Hinkle and Gingell are past LNC Chairs.)

Three-term incumbent Chair Kevin Takenaga spoke on the need for a Chair to build a team and to focus on specific goals.  He said that in his most recent term, fighting Top Two had been a higher priority than increasing dues-payers. He said the LPCA was on course to maintain party status via its increased registration numbers, which was necessary now that Top Two keeps the LP off of the November ballot.  After Takenaga's speech, Kloss supporter Starchild perhaps hurt her chances by moving to suspend the rules so that the candidates could be questioned for ten minutes.  Kloss said under questioning that she had only joined the LP in December, and that she didn't know which California counties were the most active.

Takenaga won by 38 votes to 26, with 3 for NOTA. (More delegates had been credentialed since the start of the session.)  Gale Morgan was elected by acclamation as Northern Vice Chair, and Glynda Perrotte was similarly elected as Southern Vice Chair.  Kloss then narrowly defeated Jose Castenada for Secretary, 33 to 31.  Brian Darby was re-elected Treasurer by acclamation.

Ten candidates were nominated for 6 open at-large seats on the Executive Committee:
  • Jose Castenada
  • Judd Weiss
  • Starchild
  • Grant Huihui
  • Nancy Zardeneta
  • Josh Famestead
  • Brian Thiemer
  • Bill Lopez
  • Shawn Fox
  • Armando Romero

Saturday, April 6, 2013

2013 LPCA Convention Day 1

Libertarian Party of California delegates began their convention in Sacramento this morning with a keynote speech by Steven Greenhut, a Libertarian journalist well-known for exposing abuses of government power in California. Greenhut described the rent-seeking practiced by the two incumbent parties, and said that the LPCA "can be one important vehicle for saving the state" if it unites around libertarian common ground. He cited the 19th-century Free Soil Party as an example of an alternative party that influenced public policy without winning the highest elective offices. (The Free Soil Platform had significant overlap with geolibertarian ideas.)

56 delegates were credentialed as Kevin Takenaga began his Chair's report. He celebrated Gary Johnson's impressive results in California, and two Libertarian wins in city council races: John Inks in Mountain View (pop. 74K), and SusanMarie Weber in Palm Desert (pop. 48K).  He credited some of the 15% pre-election spike in LPCA voter registration to the introduction of online registration, and noted that due to campaign finance laws the LPCA "didn't really have an active voter registration campaign".  Takenaga also cited press coverage of the recent move of the LPCA office: Libertarians move in as CA GOP scales back in Sacramento.

C. Michael Pickens gave the Northern Vice Chair report, and noted that he recently became the executive director of the LPWA.  He cited cloud-based call centers as an example of an LPWA innovation that he hopes to set up for the LPCA.  He hopes that the LPWA bylaws will be changed to allow Libertarian endorsement of candidates from other parties.

The Southern Vice Chair is empty. Treasurer Brian Darby was questioned closely on dues revenue and how dues are split between the LPCA and its county affiliates.  Darby asked the delegates to approve a Bylaws Committee recommendation to simplify the state/county dues split formula.

Inks and Weber joined two Libertarian water district directors (Jim Hoerricks and Brian Holtz) in a panel about Libertarians' service in government office.

Delegates approved all five of the Bylaws Committee recommendations:
  • Make the LPCA membership pledge against force initiation match that of the LPUS, by changing "I do not believe in or advocate" to "I oppose".
  • Require the Secretary to maintain a manual that compiles all procedures created by the Executive or Operations Committees.
  • Remove the route to LPCA membership via government-hosted elections to the State Central Committee.  Because of the new Top Two law, the government no longer hosts such elections anyway.
  • Change the state/county dues split to 50/50, in place of a 60/40 split in favor of whichever side processed the dues.
  • Limit nomination of NatCon delegates to those who have confirmed to the Secretary their acceptance of their nomination.
Tomorrow will be all officer elections, and consideration of the Platform Committee's sole recommendation (about increasing the size of the state legislature).