Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Southern Vice Chair Report, 2017

It’s been an honor to serve as your Southern Vice Chair for the past three years. I hope you’ve been satisfied or happy or even proud to be a part of this ‘rockin So Cal PARTY, where “you can be different, and still fit in.” I’ve tried my best to be supportive, and to do the activism that I can.

2016 was a good year in Southern California, by many measures. The presidential numbers were more than three times higher than our previous record. A lot of folks were busy campaigning. Our membership grew. Our members were at peace with one another. We found ways to support one another despite our disagreements.  People patched over old wounds, and moved on. When the vibe is good, when we follow our own principles of non-aggression, a lot of good activity blooms.

So there’s a lot to report and I don’t have much time. 2016 was a huge energy pulse that infused new members and a new positivity. I am so grateful to Gary Johnson and Bill Weld for attracting such fine members to us. Let’s multiply that gift, that positivity! Let’s grow those new members!

Aaron Starr fought a dramatic battle in Oxnard that is still ongoing. Susan Marie Weber (on the ExCom) won re-election in Palm Desert. Jeff Hewitt was all over the place for Calimesa. Our Chair Ted marshalled write-in candidates all over the state. Several made it on the November ballot. 4 of them right here in Southern Cal. Mimi Robson got 22% of her state senate district, with a tiny campaign chest. 22%! Baron Bruno ran an inspired, committed campaign in a three-way race in heavily Democrat territory. Both Mimi and Baron volunteered for the ExCom after their campaigns. Mike Everling was also on the November ballot, for state assembly. Alive Free Happy was all over the place, just doing a tremendous job, sending crews to staff booths at colleges and fairs, collecting data, building up infrastructure, building websites for local campaigns, leveraging the Johnson campaign to build up the local Party, too many things to mention. Judd Weiss ran for VP with John McAfee. Alicia Dearn ran for VP and became Chair of the San Diego LP. Angela McArdle ran for US Congress with a team of supporters. Jay Jones and Jill Pyeatt kept working hard to grow regional supper clubs. Mark Herd ran for LA City Council.  I could go on, but you get the picture.  

It’s great to see all that activity, and more than awesome to feel the good vibrations! Something new is blowing in the wind! But if we’re honest with ourselves, we face a long road ahead before liberty prevails over tyranny, before we conquer all the obstacles holding us back.

So let’s start with the fundamentals. If we want to make the world a better place, we’ve got to start by making our party a better place. We’ve got to avoid the venom, de-toxify our environment. I could see that happening all over the place last year. Not that everything was perfect - perfection ain’t possible, folks. If there was infighting anywhere, I didn’t hear about it. A lot of us had a great time campaigning, and doing other stuff together. I already talked about that.

The point is, we win by making this party a nicer place to be. By that metric, we are winning! People will come to a nicer place to be. When that happens, our movement gets bigger and more cohesive. As it swells, we gain political power, and the adversaries of freedom step up their attacks.

Sure, we have a long way to go before the ugly game of electoral politics gets better. But we are winning the culture wars, if you look at the long-term trending. The millennials are far more libertarian, as a group, than the generation before them. California legalized weed. The Cannabis industry is booming, festivals and commerce springing up everywhere. All those people are with us. The crypto movement, open source, gamer, sci-fi, fantasy, maker movements are growing. Take a look at Burning Man. Those people are all with us. The moderate sensible middle class people who liked Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, are with us. The organic natural food, live off the earth people are with us. The homeschoolers and unschoolers are with us. The religious freedom people are with us. The true conservatives are with us. Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach are with us. A lot of people in the entertainment business, a lot of musicians and artists are with us. In the cultural sense. We’ve got to let them know that we are with them.

And we’ve got to build a compelling culture. A culture of mutual respect, first. Add to that mutual support in the game of politics. With that ethical foundation, we’ll win respect for our words and deeds. Activists will have a reason to join, and do their activism with us. Candidates for public office will find meaningful support here. Our politics will be open, fresh, inspiring, respectful, winning!

There’s one very important fundamental that we can’t overlook.  Practice what you preach. We must make this party a nicer place for good people to be. Nicer than any other party; nicer than people imagine a political party can be. By doing that, earn the people’s trust. So people know that we can and will use whatever office we run for to make their home better now and in the long term.

So I’m happy to report that the state of affairs for libertarians in Southern California over the past year was . . . nice. And the forecast for the year ahead is for that niceness to continue and grow. As we become nicer, we will attract new volunteers and allies to help us out in the great work ahead. That great work to make our party the nicest club one could ever hope to join. And by doing that, to win!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

8th Annual Southern California Conference of Libertarian Parties

Last week (this past Saturday, actually) I had the privilege and pleasure of emceeing the 8th Annual Southern California Conference in Santa Fe Springs, California.  It's not a huge affair yet, but there are already more interesting people to meet than time to meet them all, and the speakers typically bring a raw passion to their efforts that is infectious for the types of people who typically attend.  The speeches are always unique; in some years none have been heard elsewhere before and so it is for most of the speeches in the remaining years.  People of all types are welcome and it doesn't cost much.  There's a "linger longer" in the bar and often an after party.  It's a good energizing, fun time.

The speeches this year had an outstanding synergy and sizzle for an event of this size.  Unfortunately, the fates decreed that the spoken words would go unrecorded, so far as I know.  This leads me to record a few of my impressions before time fades them, as a way of remembering the event and honoring the efforts of those who participated.

I made a few opening remarks to kick off the day.  Apart from the thank-yous, those remarks went something like this:

Today we are going to hear from a uniquely inspiring group of speakers.  Each of them was deeply invested in a political campaign last Fall.  Each will tell a different story, and relate lessons learned, from a different perspective.

It was an interesting and high-energy campaign season, with a shocking ending.  Have you gotten over the shock of regime change yet?  Not sure that I have.  It's nice to see a new skepticism of federal power from the Democrats and the left.  It might not last, but there's been nothing like it since the Vietnam War and Nixon.

 On the right, things are cloudier, if not darker.  We are waiting to see if the lower-tax, less-regulation nationalist wall-building crony capitalism pushed by the Trumpers will make up for the oppression of all the people they dislike, plus maybe World War III.  

It's a mixed bag.  There are little impulses towards liberty on both sides.  We'll cultivate those impulses and help them grow, harvesting new comrades in the fight for liberty and justice without aggression.

TRIGGER WORD WARNING! Close your ears if emotionally sensitive.
Trump! Obama. Hil-a-ry. China!China.China? . . . ALLEPPO.

Let's put those words and the negative emotions they provoke out of our minds and focus on softer, more healing phrases: Building communities - FREE communities based on equal justice.  Building interpersonal trust. Empowering citizens to thrive. Ensuring that future generations will have no less opportunity for the pursuit and enjoyment of happiness than we have enjoyed ourselves.

Those objectives (maybe we can call them activities, or even industries) are at the core of true liberty and human thriving.  Those objectives are what we achieve when we campaign together according to the principles we hold.  Increase in those industries is the greatest victory that any political campaign can ever achieve.  So let's hear some stories from campaigns like that!
I have no notes to bolster my memory of the speakers' remarks, so here are some impressions purely from memory, with fervent apologies to everyone mentioned:

Robert Imhoff told a story about how he got involved in the Johnson-Weld campaign.  Robert had no real experience in politics, but did understand how to reach people, and had access to some modest amounts of capital.  He was bitten hard by the campaign bug, and threw himself whole-heartedly into campaigning.  California was not a "battleground" state for Johnson-Weld, so the national campaign mostly ignored him, especially early in the campaign.

Ted Brown introduced three local candidates who made the November ballot via a write-in campaign in the June primary, Baron Bruno, Honor 'Mimi' Robson, and Mike Everling.  Baron and Mimi were first-time candidates.  Mike is one of the old guard who ran to fill an empty ballot line with the libertarian label, being nearly the only registered libertarian in the district.  Mimi is now Secretary of the California Libertarian Party and Baron is contemplating running for the national Libertarian presidential nomination in 2020.

Dan Fishman from Boston Massachusetts told stories of his experience as Northeast (Connecticut to Maine) Regional Director for Johnson-Weld.  The Northeast was a battleground region, so there was more involvement with the top echelons of the campaign, than Robert experienced.  His frustrations were unique, and many opportunities that Dan labored on ultimately went unused.  It's difficult to unravel the full picture in the Northeast hearing only from one perspective, but it is clear that there are stories to tell and lessons to learn from what was experienced there. 

Nick Sarwark,  LNC Chair, led off his talk with an analogy about lobsters and for the most part avoided talking about the campaign.  He exhorted the audience that to grow the party, we are going to have to break out of old comfortable shells.  We are going make room for new kinds of people, who view liberty from a different perspective.  Our party is not about right and left, it's about up and down.  If you are for human liberty, you are a libertarian, whether you are liberal or conservative.  Increase human freedom and love one another.

Matthew Barnes finished up the conference with a short talk about Alive Free Happy and its participation in the Presidential campaign and local campaigns.  By that time, my head was full of what I been hearing all day, but I remember Matt showing pictures of some of the Alive Free Activists at campaign events, talked about tabling with the Nolan chart, building infrastructure by reaching out to voters during the campaign, and not missing the little victories that passionate and persistent effort will undoubtedly keep winning.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Uproar in Heaven (Film Review and Commentary)

Uproar in Heaven is classic Chinese anime' (although this post is based on the 2012 condensed and re-voiced adaptation), and this post contains spoilers of its plot and characters.  Some poetic license is taken, and much of the detail and flourish of the film itself is skipped over, for brevity's sake. I highly recommend watching.  Of it, Wikipedia says:

"Havoc in Heaven, also translated as Uproar in Heaven, is a Chinese animated feature film directed by Wan Laiming and produced by all four of the Wan brothers. The film was created at the height of the Chinese animation industry in the 1960s, and received numerous awards. It earned the brothers domestic and international recognition. The story is an adaptation of the earlier episodes of the Chinese novel Journey to the West."

The film is in two parts, which tell early stories from the novel.  The story of Part I is summarized below, for those who are unfamiliar with it.  This post would have no purpose, if its readers could not glimpse the character and grandeur of the old stories and the power of their protagonist without having to read the book or watch the film.  If you already know those qualities well: congratulations, you're a winner!  Skip down to the moonlit dancing pixie!

The Monkey King, whose subjects frolic in the fruit trees, desires to have a perfect weapon. His advisors impel him to seek the weapon from the Dragon King, who lives under the Eastern Sea.  The Monkey King plunges into the Eastern Sea, subdues the Dragon King's guards, and demands that the Dragon King supply him with the perfect weapon.  The Dragon King complains, but supplies the Monkey King with a spear.  The Monkey King rejects the spear as "not even a weapon," and demands something better.  So it goes through a sequence of increasingly massive weapons, all of which fail to win the Monkey King's approval.  The Monkey King mocks the Dragon King, saying "can't you find a better weapon somewhere in the vast Eastern Sea?"  Being advised of a clever scheme to rid him of the Monkey King, the Dragon King offers him the key to the oceans, left by King Yu to restrain the floods, "if you can take it."

The Monkey King finds the key to his liking, and demonstrates his power by wondrously removing the key, to the consternation of the Dragon King.  The Monkey King returns with the key to his kingdom, causing great excitement and rejoicing in his subjects.  Meanwhile, the Dragon King complains to the Jade Emperor in heaven about the Monkey King, demanding that the Jade Emperor subdue the Monkey King and bring him to justice for robbing the Dragon King of the key to the oceans.  The Jade Emperor's court knows of this Monkey King as a "Taoist monkey born 500 years ago",  who is not to be taken lightly.  The Emperor's advisors counsel appointment of the Monkey King to a minor imperial office, and so, after seducing the Monkey King to visit the Imperial Court, convince the Monkey King to accept appointment as protector of the imperial horses.  Upon taking office and finding the heavenly horses restrained and subdued in the stables, the Monkey King observes "they're treating the horses all wrong," and immediately frees them all.  The imperial horses race around heaven, while the Monkey King nurtures them without imposing restraints.

A superior in the imperial hierarchy moves to discipline the Monkey King for freeing the horses.  The Monkey King defeats his superior, after scorning him by yelling "who the hell are you to tell me what's right and wrong!", while the horses celebrate by running around.  The superior's advocates petition the Emperor, and embroil the imperial court in an uproar that leads, after a declaration of equal sovereignty by the Monkey King, to a furious attack upon him by multilayered imperial forces, that is the climax of the first part of the film.  The Monkey King defeats the attack decisively, bringing peace and prosperity to his people, and so Part I of the film ends.

 Part II veers from the political to the spiritual, and back again, but is still focused on the Imperial designs to subdue the Monkey King.  It is a wild and multi-dimensional ride that reveals different layers of the struggle between self-sovereignty and submission to a higher power, in both political and religious spheres.  It's well worth watching if you appreciate early animation; the animation, the art, the voice acting, and the story are all worthily accomplished, by the standards of the time. There's no need to spoil Part II -- the description of Part I makes the settled character of the Monkey King clear enough for my purpose here.  He never abandons his proud independence, or his role as a protector and benefactor of his people, and so the story retains its consistency without losing its power to surprise.  O.K., one hint of a spoiler ahead: the climax bears a resemblance to a story many in the West know well, that is about as old: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the Fiery Furnace, and the parallel story of that book, Daniel In The Lion's Den.

Uproar in Heaven is an outstanding animated film, and its political story resonates with a kind of libertarian self-sovereignty, masked through a layer of monarchy.  There is much other Asian anime that carries a libertarian message, but this film stands out for its fearlessly libertarian adaptation of classic Chinese literature, during a time when Chinese culture and politics seemed ready to reject any acceptance of anti-authoritarianism.  Ignorant Westerners (such as myself) cannot even imagine that modern or classic Chinese culture could recognize disobedience to authority as a trait of heroes.  Confucius dominated Laozi, we were taught, the Chinese do not value individuality.  This film belies my meager public school education concerning China (no great feat).  The film was produced in Shanghai in 1964, before the dawn of Mao's cultural revolution in 1966.  It's enough to make one wonder how much popular culture such as reflected by Uproar In Heaven had to do with the brutal reaction from China's ruling party, that was the cultural revolution.

The Monkey King - Sun Wukong - has deep roots going back at least to the 16th-century Chinese novel Journey To The West.  I have not read that work, and could only do so in translation; now I  will.  The novel and the film under review draw inspiration from Taoism, which is based on the teachings of Laozi (or Lao-tsu) from the 4th or 5th century B.C.E.  The same Laozi who is credited with saying "When the best leader's work is done, the people say, 'We did it ourselves'" and "Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself," among many other libertarian and spiritual sayings.

But why should this film review appear in a political blog at all?  Just as a reminder that art is political, and the cultural origins of liberty are old and wide.  It would be foolish for us in the West to regard ourselves as the prime carrier of the torch.  We are only one army among many, who have yet to stand in the present day.  When the more than one billion Chinese in the world listen to Laozi again, a miracle of liberty will unfold in the Middle Kingdom and beyond, such as has never been seen before.  This miracle will prove that the tales of Sun Wukong and Daniel in the Lion's Den are true: the power of living freely by each individual's best conscience is indestructible, and can never be defeated.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Can An Anarchist Participate in Politics, Without Dishonor?

I am an anarchist who labors in electoral politics.  I do not believe that winning an office by electoral politics grants any magical powers to rule over others.  So why then do I participate in electoral politics as if intending to win morally meaningless offices?  Just the thought of such dangerous foolishness should make me feel icky.

It doesn't though, because I have learned the light art of holding two contradictory thoughts in my head at the same time.  Not the dark art.  The light art entails understanding arguments on both sides of a moral question, and using that knowledge to make peace and increase understanding of others.  The dark art uses that same knowledge to lead people astray and sow general confusion.   I intend only to shed light: on the one hand, seeking magical powers to rule over others is plainly off the mark for an anarchist.  On the other hand: the enlightened ones do not need to be taught what they have already learned.  It is those who have never understood the message of liberty who need teachers and leaders.  For an anarchist, laboring in electoral politics is missionary work.

The "we-run-to-win" contingent might be heard groaning here, if any are present.  Please be patient.  One can wholeheartedly run to win, while simultaneously believing that the office contested for is immoral.  Of course, others may believe that the office is moral and necessary.  Let's leave the issue of the morality of the office aside for now.  We agree that the act of running for office is not, by itself, immoral.  And we agree that if we are going to run, we should run to win.  Winning is the point of playing the game; if we don't try to win it won't be a game.  We are going to work side-by-side to win, and if we win, you are going to have anarchists in your government, and you are going to better understand and accept what it means to be free.  If we lose, you are going to better understand and accept what it means to be free.  In that sense of understanding and acceptance, you are going to have anarchists in your government either way.  As I was saying, it's missionary work.

A good missionary learns more from the mission than those who are ministered to, and learns it from those who are served.  It's not as if the anarchists have all the answers.  We believe in liberty, but some questions are not yet answered by experimental data, and some expressions of the new order will not be foreseen or planned.  The amazing new orders that will emerge will be informed by so many different people, including by you to whom we bring our message of freedom.  We will learn from you as you learn from us.  Just know that we will never stop pushing for more liberty and justice in human affairs, which will once perfectly achieved dissolve the power of every office of authority that any politician might ever seek.

This missionary work can be done in any political party, or outside of any party.  I labor in the Libertarian party, because I am a convert of this party.  It was not the Republicans, Greens, Democrats, Peace and Freedom, or any other party who converted me.  I did not learn much about liberty in public school.  It was the Libertarians, the people I met at their conferences and conventions, who opened my eyes.  Not everybody has the same motivations or experiences as I, and that's OK.  There are other mission fields to work in.  So thanks for giving me a break, my friend.  It's not easy, being a missionary.
* * *
under Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Saturday, June 4, 2016

In The End, Our Stupidity Will Save Us

At some point, we got really stupid.  We stopped remembering what jerks we can be to each other, and started trusting one another.  That's when we were saved.

Stupid is not good. Stupid is as Stupid does.  We only had to be stupid in one particular way.  We could be geniuses in other ways.  In that funny sense, our stupidity saved us.

"Actually, it was your mutual trust that saved you," you say.  That is true, too.  Mutual trust turned out not to be so stupid, after all.  Once people started trusting one another deeply, they started developing incredibly creative ideas together.  Those ideas solved all sorts of social problems, and made peace where before there had been war.

All that sounds idealistic.  That's how it is intended to sound.  We can also be practical.  When we get practical, we do politics.  And when we do politics, we compromise.

Even when we compromise, we can still vote our consciences.  How is this possible?  By a system of voting that does not deprive us of our voices when we choose the candidate that most closely represents our views, and allows us to switch our vote between rounds.  We are always telling other people to vote their conscience.  We should do what we say.

I am an extreme left libertarian, so I voted for Vermin Supreme on the first ballot, because he was obviously the most extreme left libertarian in the bunch who were running.  It is amazing that there were not more left libertarians among the delegates who saw it that way.  Vestigial fear must have been at work.  It's OK, you can vote the way you want, without being penalized (he says reassuringly).  This is the Libertarian Party!

I might have held to my first ballot, but with only one vote, it didn't really look like Vermin had the momentum to win.  With 49%, Johnson was looking pretty unstoppable already.  So I considered switching.  Not to Johnson, because he seemed too conventional.  Petersen is too right wing for my taste, although I am overjoyed at all the young Ron Paul types he brought in.  Austin and his followers will be a pillar of our Party for many years to come; maybe already are.  Feldman didn't have enough momentum, even though he did have the best rap.  That left Perry and McAfee.  I seem to have a preference for scary (as my sole vote for Vermin attests), so I voted for McAfee.  Although I admit it was a close call.

Johnson got 55% on the next round, and voting ended more suddenly than many would have liked.  Having voted my conscience twice, I compromised.  I accepted the majority selection as the Party's nominee, even though I hadn't voted for it.  So did everyone else, while reserving their rights to protest about the selection, at least until all the complaining becomes too wearisome to bear.

Johnson and Weld have since been given substantial interviews on MSNBC, CBS, and elsewhere.  Gary has never sounded more articulate.  Even while speaking next to the highly articulate, intellectual Bill Weld.  Gary's courage in selecting so presidential-sounding of a running mate speaks volumes about his humility.  If somebody has to sit in the White House, let it be a humble person.  Listening to the two of them go on, interviewed on those liberal channels, the fog cleared to reveal the political landscape.  In retrospect, the Johnson-Weld ticket was the second most left-libertarian proposition that hit the ballots at Convention. So maybe I should have voted for those guys instead, after I deserted Vermin.

Lefties are always getting into trouble for being willing to tax and spend for social issues, and that pretty much describes those two.  To explain a prevalent left viewpoint: the aggression of an imposed monopoly centrally-controlled economic system that enriches a privileged economic class justifies the reciprocal aggression of redistribution by taxation.  We all know it doesn't always work that way in practice; it's just theory.  We would like very much to get rid of the aggressions on both sides, without abandoning the needy.  In two words: we care.

I owe Tobias Knight gratitude for uttering those two words, "we care," when asked the question, "what should the unifying statement of the left-libertarian caucus be?"  I had been thinking we should try to explain something about those darned property rights that people are always divided over.  What a fool I was.  Property rights are important, even though we lefties are always trying to find ways to make them less important, while making a good reputation more important, in terms of social status.  Property helps us discover what is valued and in demand - the scarce resource - and allocate that resource to those who can do the most good with it.  That's the theory, anyway.  We all know it doesn't always work that way in practice.  So why pick a divisive subject for an unifying statement?  "We care" pretty much says it all.

We care when students take on lifelong unforgivable debt, to obtain an education that does not give them the means to pay back the debt comfortably.  We care when health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies get richer and more powerful, as the quality of our health care declines, and its costs go up.   We care when government policies leave people helpless and dependent, unable to take care of themselves or their families.  We care when the least fortunate among us go hungry, without shelter, without supportive society.  We care when isolated teens kill themselves, and when war-traumatized veterans do, too.  We care when the differently-gendered are not permitted to be themselves with dignity and acceptance by others.  We care when ex-convicts of victimless crimes struggle to rebuild their lives after serving time for nothing.  We care when our nation's alliances and commitments abroad cause bombs and bullets to burn civilians, to pierce soldiers, and starve children.  We care when the environment, the gene pool of life, human freedom, and all other good we have been given, are not preserved for future generations. We care enough to make sure that the things we care about get taken care of effectively, and with the least possible amount of prior aggression.  Eventually, with none at all.

We won't let our caring cause us to impose our will on others who choose to live in peace while pursuing a different kind of happiness.  Justice matters, and cannot be done when we place those who we care for in chains.  The law must allow all people to be truly equal before it regardless of the quality of the lawyer they can afford, and to preserve life before property.  Might does not make right, and the ends do not justify the means.  

2016 will be a good year for the left-libertarian caucus of the Libertarian Party.  We are left libertarians, and We Care.  

Monday, May 30, 2016

A Libertarian Guide To Chair Throwing

Earlier this year, delegates supporting Bernie Sanders grew disgusted at proceedings unfolding at the Nevada Democratic caucus.  Those unhappy delegates began throwing chairs and making death threats, or so it has been reported.

Just yesterday at the Libertarian Party's National Convention in Orlando Florida, a large and vocal minority of delegates were similarly dismayed by the nomination of William Weld for Vice President.  Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts, joined the Libertarian Party only two weeks ago.  These delegates did not trust Gov. Weld, and believed there were superior choices for the nomination.    Hundreds of delegates jeered loudly and waved their signs, once the results were announced.  I spotted an inverted chair parading over the heads of the delegates, accompanied by a long black inverted boot floating over a bush of kinky gray hair.  It turned out that Vermin Supreme was registering his displeasure by assertively carrying the chair around the floor.  This was learned from Vermin later, the reason for the floating chair being mysterious to me at the time.

James Weeks, delegate from Michigan and candidate for Chair of the Libertarian Party, registered his displeasure differently.  Granted a few minutes at the podium for his campaign speech, Mr. Weeks used his time to strip down to a jockstrap and shake his bearded Homer Simpson abundance at the assembled delegates and national television audience for what seemed like half of eternity.  He then withdrew from the race for Chair, and was escorted out of the convention hall by hotel security.

The purpose of Mr. Weeks' demonstration was not immediately apparent.  In hindsight, it can be inferred with confidence that it was meant as political protest.

I interviewed Mr. Weeks later that evening, and he confirmed that his striptease act was meant to protest the nomination of William Weld, which so richly deserved the contempt of the Party's radical wing.  Not only that -- and this I only half believe -- Mr. Weeks revealed that he sometimes strips professionally.  This seems incredible to me, but does explain his polished approach and use of professional tools.  I cannot imagine who would pay for services of such nature, but perhaps you can.

Why anyone would choose to protest a nomination by performing a striptease was beyond me.  The targeted effectiveness of Weeks' scud missile of gyrating, heavily bearded flesh became apparent later in the evening, after I heard an offended delegate complaining loudly and angrily that video of the performance was at the top of all the search results for "Libertarian Party Convention."   It was sort of an "aha"moment for me.

Weeks messed up the media coverage!  Righteous anger arises from desire to protect territory against trespass; in this case, the territory trespassed was a hope that the appearance of the convention would be sterile and complimentary.  No such territory exists that can be defended.  And yet, the Politician Weeks somehow managed to violate it, without breaking any of the Convention rules.  He was perfectly justified in exercising his political expression, exactly what the convention was held to do.  So he would receive no punishment.  He was asked to leave the convention hall, to prevent raucous infighting from getting out of hand.  There was a lot of stunned anger among the delegates, at the time.

It may be rumored that Weeks is a plant of the Trump campaign, sent to discredit the Libertarian Party and its nominee, Gary Johnson. This rumor is ridiculous.  From my interview of Weeks, I believe he is an honest, gentle man who has neither the desire nor the need to work for Trump or any other Machiavellian employer.  There is little more that can or need be said on the subject.

Some hope for the day that the Libertarian Party will grow up and become a serious broker of political power.  Not I.  The day that the Libertarian Party operates with great decorum and solemnity is the day I leave the Party.  May it ever be free, unpredictable, fun, and slightly ridiculous.  Only then will I trust that it is capable of performing that greatest political project ever attempted: ending all justifications for the application of coercion and fraud to achieve any social or political purpose.

Without further ado, we arrive finally at the Libertarian Guide to Chair Throwing: . . . don't, unless no one will be hurt by it.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Southern Vice Chair's Report 2016

Dear Friends and Guests:

Thank you all for coming to our little convention in Los Angeles. Many from very far away. From all over the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. It’s been a long trip for some of you. So on behalf of us locals: thanks for coming.

It’s a pretty strange election year, huh? It’s beginning to feel normal for Republicans to parade ten people around through countless debates, with each of the ten vowing to bomb and torture more brown people than the rest. I guess it’s also normal for a strange and unappealing nominee to emerge from that circus. But it’s even stranger when the winner of that process turns out to be someone appearing to be a Democratic mole, who takes the party by storm quoting Mussolini! (Very strange.) Let me tell you another thing that’s strange: A dark horse Democratic Party candidate who appears pretty good on a lot of liberty issues winning against an old money progressive; and doing it in big states.

It is the world turned upside down.  I wouldn’t vote for either of those guys and I am certainly not trying to endorse them, but one thing is clear: The American people are on the verge of a total political realignment. 2016 is the best chance we’ve had in a long time, maybe the first chance ever, for us cap ‘L’’ Libertarians to play a meaningful hand in the duopolistic ritual that is the U.S. Presidential Election. A lot of people are going to be disgusted with the usual choices this year.
Meanwhile - have you been seeing and hearing our Libertarian presidential contenders this year? Did you see the Stossel debate last night? Are you feeling better about the LP than you have in a long, long time? I sure am. I mean, I am feeling really good about 2016. LP, get ready! Get ready to get noticed and get ready to get grown! And I mean now!

With that, I have some great things to report:

2015 was a good year for Libertarians in Southern California. We had our share of high points: We have activated a new affiliate in Kern County, led by Jonathan Hall. Thank you Jonathan.
We also have had a revitalization of our Riverside County affiliate by Jeff Hewitt bringing in a lot of fresh blood. Great job Jeff, we are lucky to have you on the team. Gene Berkman a stalwart for our cause in Riverside for many years is still energetically involved, and will continue to be instrumental there. 
Our region has produced not one, but two Libertarians running for senate: Gail Lightfoot in San Luis Obispo County, and Mark Herd, an activist newly recruited by our Los Angeles County affiliate, who is doing just a tremendous amount of work and shaking up West LA.

LPOC has been revitalized by Brian Kelly and his team. It’s great to see some organization and energy in the OC again.
And San Bernardino County never let hard times get them down. They just keep going, man. A lot of champions for freedom out there.

We did have a sad set back: We lost a strong asset and a great ally with the passing of Mike Benoit, Chair of San Diego County. He left us suddenly, and too early.

San Diego is carrying on. Our Southernmost county elected a new slate of officers at its convention early this year. It remains one of the largest and most active affiliates in California and is strong despite its recent tragedy.

Speaking of moving forward, have you seen Ventura County’s website? Really beautiful and compelling. Classic yet fresh. They are setting a great example for how to put a strong face on our organization.

For a really new approach, ya gotta check out LA County’s website at A team of young Libertarian volunteers designed it, they built it, and they are fine-tuning it to appeal to our future members, people like them. LA has a lot of potential Libertarians who are focused on social justice issues normally owned by the so-called “left.” Our guys are daring to reach out for new members from those who thought the LP had failed them. And you know what? I’m already starting to see evidence that the strategy is working.

To bolster the move, the team is calling for articles that demonstrate Libertarian solutions for tough subjects like “social justice”, “the environment” and “mutual aid” to help people in LA, who sadly have been indoctrinated to only consider progressive-authoritarian solutions, to escape their prisons of thought. 

This is a new direction for outreach, folks; an ambitious jujitsu move. It will be interesting to track our success. There is information on this effort in the hospitality suite upstairs. Check it out! In hand-to-hand combat, libertarian jujitsu - the art of redirecting your opponent's energy towards your own self-defense - provides a tremendous advantage. We are going to learn a lot from the exercise, win some new members, and make some new allies.

LA County is beginning to thrive with six active regions. We are working hard to activate more. In addition we are strengthened by a number of Libertarian clubs and associations. Alive Free Happy, which is active in a number of California Counties, is especially strong in Los Angeles and has brought in a healthy number of new and young Libertarians. The new Venice Beach Libertarian Club is making quite a splash engaging local governments on the West side of the city.
We are also joined by the Society of Libertarian Entrepreneurs, Liberty on the Rocks, the Reason Foundation,, YAL, SFL, Libertarian Law Council, Restore the 4th, Oathkeepers (to name just a few) who we will count as allies and with whose members we will engage in activism. And we cannot forget the Nevada LP, Brett Pojunis and Nancy Neale of Texas, who have been so generous with their time and talents to make this event and others a success.

We will build coalitions and foster cooperation with our allies.

Alive Free Happy. Have you heard of them? They’re the folks in the black T-shirts that read “Alive Free Happy.” Homegrown right here in Southern California. They put boots on the ground, man. And they train. And they work really hard. And they create opportunities for young people (and not-so-young). And they recruit. And they have fun doing it. If you’d like to know more, talk to some of the young people with us today (the ones in those shirts) and learn about what they do. It is a model worth understanding.

I am so proud to say not only about Alive Free Happy but also a lot of others here today: they approach politics as an exercise in welcoming. Every sincere and willing person is welcomed to participate in the fun. And by that participation our future learns the principles of liberty, starting with non-aggression. They show people how to engage the world actively with our principles, never getting discouraged because they count every success as a win.

So I want to finish on that note: Success through Non-aggression. Each of us has certified that we oppose the initiation of force as a means of achieving political and social goals. The art of non-aggression in politics and society can be practiced in a much thicker way. We have members who do that, they practice the art of what I like to call “Anti-Machiavellian Politics”.

What I mean by Anti-Machiavellian politics is this: gaining political influence without using aggressive tactics. Yes - renouncing physical force, the threat of force, and fraud, for sure. But also renouncing the use of fear as a political tool.

Let’s face it, fear is one of the very most effective ways to manipulate people, and often goes hand in hand with lies. Politicians use fear and deceit all the time. So do sales people, and lawyers, and on and on. We are barraged with messages of fear everyday.

It’s surely a challenge to reject fear as a political tool. Compared to the “bad guys” it is a bit like trying to tackle Mammoth Mountain on only one ski and with no poles.

But as snowboarders know, tearing down a slope on one board is completely doable. Maybe even more freeing and exciting that way.

We have to do politics differently than the other guys. We have to tackle the mountain on a differently shaped board but in doing so we are more agile, we are faster, we fly higher, and we have a lot more fun.

When we renounce leveraging fear and work to build a society of self actualized friends in Liberty, amazing things start to happen. People deeply need to belong to a strong and free community. They need to see self-governed societies in action, so that they can let go of the false sanctuaries promised by the Nanny State.
When we provide that at the local level; when we insist on creating a free and welcoming community for ourselves: momentum grows, and the ingenuity of free and fearless people emerges to resolve social issues without force. As Libertarians we promote a healthy and happy society of equals, with mutual aid a-plenty, and we do it without threats or lies. When we do that, we are doing the best kind of politics: the politics of non-aggression. And it works!
All of the wins we have had here in the South, the activity that is growing across the state, and the national presence we are mounting (I mean look at the slate of presidential contenders we have this cycle) gives me great hope. We are spreading the principles of non-aggression.

And who can criticize our goals? We want a society that just works better, with greater liberty and justice for all, where social problems are solved by free speech, free action, and free people, in which the whole participates voluntarily. So let us be bold. Let us insist on our goals! And you know what? Just by trying, we are already winning. And our message of Liberty - it will prevail!

In closing, I have been privileged to witness great wins in the last year, I am humbled by the wins I see going on right now in all of the amazing people in this room, and I am excited for the future. Our movement is growing, it is thriving, with truth and justice firmly on our side... with hard work and determination in our hearts... we are destined to WIN.

...And we are going to have a great time doing it!

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Thanks to Frank Chau for assistance with images, 
and Matt Barnes for editorial insights.