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Speed Bumps on the Road to Freedom

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Melinda Pillsbury-FosterLast Sunday the South East Region of the Libertarian Party, comprising the states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, had a teleconference. Teleconferences are much lower in cost than getting together in the flesh and so have come into common usage in many organizations.

The agenda focused on the need to replace the Region’s representative, Mark Bodenhausen, on the National Committee. During the teleconference Bodenhausen decided to resign, reportedly because of health problems. National Committee is the body who sets policy for the Libertarian Party, providing oversight to the National Office and carrying out other duties related to senior decision making. Those functions are entrusted to individuals elected for that purpose by the Party as a whole.

On the call the two main topics were the resignation of the recent Representative and the appointment of a new representative. Those meeting included the state chairs from Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and the Vice Chair of South Carolina. The meeting was adjourned and another meeting scheduled for a vote on a replacement for Bodenhausen the next Sunday.

Early the next Tuesday an e-mail instead scheduled another teleconference that evening. The explanation for this was that someone had ‘leaked’ the rumor that a prominent former Republican was to be elected to the now vacant seat for Regional Rep to the NatCom. The representatives from the States met on line and all eventually voted to invite an individual to serve as Regional Representative for the South East Region. The only NO vote came from North Carolina Chair, Phil Jacobson, who had polled his Executive Committee, this being their standard practice.   The individual elected was invited to serve by letter that evening. He had been asked in advance if he would be inclined to serve and those making contact with him affirmed that he was positive on the question.

The individual is Bob Barr, former Republican congressman from Georgia. Barr spent several terms in Congress and was strongly associated with the NeoCon agenda. He was defeated for reelection in 2002 and returned home to Georgia and to a career as a spokesman on various issues.

Reason interviewed Barr in 2003. In that interview Barr regretted having voted for the Patriot Act, but not very strongly. In that interview he said, “I was hoping at the time that it would not be used as a floor but as a ceiling. But it’s been a taking-off point for expanded authority in a number of areas.” The fact remains that the Patriot Act was opposed by principled people, for instance Ron Paul. The balance of that interview goes to a reiteration of more equivocation that have the virtue of showing how a Gingrich era congressman thinks.

In 2004 Barr endorsed Michael Badnarik for President and this year he endorsed and gave a speech on behalf of Bob Smither, a Libertarian running for Tom Delay’s Congressional seat in Texas. Barr has also paid $2,000.00 for a life membership in the Libertarian Party.

Barr may have moderated his views on the War on Drugs, marriage, gay rights, and other issues. The question of why the former Congressman would want to join the Libertarian Party is valid, however, and each of us should consider all of the possible reasons for this political move. This conversion is taking place at a time when the faction of which he was unquestionably a part, the NeoCons, are sinking fast. Taken as a whole, it may well be that this is an attempt to reposition the Gingrich portion of the NeoCon Cabal, excising its decades long relationship with Bush, Rove, and company and reconnecting to the still respectable Reagan legacy in the minds of Americans.

But the first issue that should be considered is how the decision was made and the lack of transparency in a matter that is normally entirely routine.

The actions of those involved lead the inquirer to consider the possibility that the cache of having a former Congressman of any kind on National Committee has proven to be too heady a drink for those who normally are allotted sips of second hand power of far lower potency. And while this could be hyped to be a major event the fact is that Bob Barr is not the major pundit today that his supporters think he is. His most prominent role in Congress was during the Clinton Impeachment and those events loom small indeed when placed side by side with the havoc that Bush and Barr’s fellow Republicans have wrought.

For those within the LP who support Barr winning seems to have been allotted a far higher priority than simple civility and the essential virtues of honesty and transparency. For as long as I can remember less than open behavior has been associated with the waves of factions that have moved through the LP, leaving havoc in their wakes. The most recent egregious example was expelled at the Indiana Convention in 2002 and included the remnants of the Berlandista, including Perry Willis and Michael Emerling Cloud. Cloud and Willis are reported to be sharing an apartment in Tucson now.

What do those who are acting in this fashion think they can win? Barr is a former Congressman and a former Republican. It is news that he has changed, but not huge news.

Who suggested the election of Barr is an honest question that should have been answered without pause. But that question remains unanswered.   If the seller won’t provide the documentation for the package, don’t buy, is common sense.

The idea for inviting Barr onto the committee seems to have originated with someone outside the South East. No one who was asked, and many were, will specify who that person was. This question was also posed directly by members of the Executive Committee in North Carolina and each of these individuals said that they were uncomfortable with the secrecy demanded and with the lack of information forthcoming from those who insisted that the decision must be made immediately. Eric Smith, Political Director for North Carolina said, “there was a fogginess about the whole matter that left me feeling unclean.” Susan Hogarth, Outreach Director for North Carolina said her questions were treated with hostility by Stewart Flood, the alternate for the South East who is strongly positive about having Barr on the National Committee and asserts that Barr will be personally very active and a positive presence. Flood went on to reiterate, although he was not asked, that Barr’s opinions on specific issues were not relevant because he would not be making statements on platform issues. For more information on what those opinions bobbarr.org.

Frankly, I failed to find anything that persuaded me that Barr had changed his views substantially. He was good on issues of privacy, after having helped cause the problems by voting for the Patriot Act, and he remains good on those issues. That issue and guns does not make you a Libertarian; allowing the use of medicinal marijuana is not enough to move you from Drug Warrior to Libertarian.

Alicia Mattson, Chair for Tennessee, has expressed the opinion that North Carolina should be kicked out of the South East Region because their Chair, Phil Jacobson, refused to over ride the consensus of his Executive Committee and vote to invite Barr to represent them on National Committee.

Bob Barr’s website shows that he has strong opinions. On Chavez, President of Venezuela he said on December 9th of this year of Chavez, “He has since become a magnet for political revolutionaries, dissatisfied agents of change and most importantly, enemies of the United States.

Mr. Chavez’s re-election will cement his position as first among equals among South American “strongmen” who are tweaking President Bush’s nose in the Latin American arena. However, it is more than tweaking that we should worry about after the Venezuelan election. The concern to the U.S. is both economic and military.

Granted, Mr. Chavez is a showman, but he is much more. He runs a country flush with oil wealth and is not shy about spending it in ways that benefit not the growing poverty class in his country but rather arms suppliers in Russia, Europe, China and elsewhere.

Mr. Chavez has made no secret of his disdain for George Bush’s policies. In the fall at the U.N. General Assembly, he got personal — calling Mr. Bush “The devil.” That slapstick venture into international, stand-up comedy made many laugh, but it didn’t do much to calm our allies in Latin America. Nor has Mr. Chavez’s penchant for military hardware.”

Personally, I found this expression startling in someone who now claims to be a Libertarian. It supports the policies of the Bush Administration wholeheartedly, an administration that most Americans now view as criminal; that criminality was undertaken by the Bush Constituency on behalf of Big Oil. Venezuela controls huge oil reservoirs but America has no claim on those unless by open and honorable purchase. Using government to implement policy to benefit oil companies put us in Iraq. Barr evidently does not reject that role for government.

The claim that Chavez does not spend oil money to benefit the poor of Venezuela is unsupported by those who live there. In fact, Chavez is criticized because he uses oil money to benefit the poor instead of giving it to the small cadre of powerful who viewed the Venezuela Petroleum Corporation as their private piggy bank before Chavez was elected. The oil industry was nationalized there in the 70s, long before Chavez had anything to say in the matter.

This phrase in another Barr article on the new make up of Congress also struck me as bizarre. “Whether the Republican leaders will be able to regroup sufficiently to seriously challenge the Democrats for supremacy in 2008 is a question of equal intrigue. Gingrich and his team of neophyte leaders faced the same Herculean task a dozen years ago; a challenge they met with decidedly mixed results. Now, lacking Gingrich’s intellectual power and energy, and having to contend with a president in some respects more “simpatico” with many Democrats than with conservatives in his own party, congressional Republicans will truly be put to the test.”

I would never characterize Bush as more “simpatico” to Democrats than those who still use the word “Conservative” to identify themselves in Congress. Democrats were stealing us blind without starting a war, choosing between the two is a none of the above choice if ever there was one. The “Conservatives,” who include Newt Gingrich, we now know as NeoConservatives. The only voice of conscience is represented by Ron Paul through the last three Congressional terms.

I strongly suggest reading the list of articles before coming to a conclusion on how much Barr has changed. Even more strongly I suggest we look into how this ‘election’ took place.

 

Melinda Pillsbury-Foster is the author of GREED: The NeoConning of America and A Tour of Old Yosemite. The former is a novel about the lives of the NeoCons with a strong autobiographical component. The latter is a non-fiction book about her father and grandfather. Melinda is an associate editor for Liberty For All and can be reached at the.melinda@yahoo.com.

30 Responses to Speed Bumps on the Road to Freedom

  1. Susan Hogarth

    December 15, 2006 at 6:42 am

    Quick correction from a member of the LPNC executive committee: It’s not exactly correct to say that it’s ‘standard practice’ in North Carolina for our chair to ‘poll’ before a decision, nor did Phil poll the executive committee, except in the sense that he asked for opinions and feedback. I’m afraid the word ‘poll’ conveys a sense that no decisions are made without a vote, and that our executive committee is expected to vote on every decision.

  2. Stephen VanDyke

    December 15, 2006 at 10:30 am

    Yay… let’s set up litmus test dunking booths for any Republicans or Democrats who dare come over to the Libertarian Party. I mean, the dude has pretty much had a come-to-liberty moment and is rapidly becoming more of a libertarian ally each year (with actual political experience to boot), but because he’s “tainted” and not 100% pure yet we should pass him up?

    Yeah, that’s logical.

  3. Pingback: mushin no shin » Blog Archive » Further Down the Spiral

  4. John P Slevin

    December 15, 2006 at 12:07 pm

    Melinda, of course it is necessary to work with people who believe as you do. Stephen Van Dyke is correct, moreover, inasmuch as no two people agree on everything. Moreover, Barr has “shown improvement”…when you consider where he’s come from, there is no place to go but up, unless it’s to move over to the LP National.

    If Barr is sane, and I have no reason to think he isn’t, he’ll question whether moving onto the LP National Committee is a productive use of his time.

    Does the LP National have problems? Yes, certainly. Chief among them is that they’ve never elected anyone, to anything. They’re always claiming credit for what individual Libertarians accomplish on their own (Smither and Vermont)…and, they’ll certainly overhype anything if they can con more of the contributors just one more time (Smither and Vermont).

    Barr may be a doer, and on the LP National Board, that would distinguish him. Let’s hope he’s not too lonely.

  5. Eric H. Smith

    December 15, 2006 at 12:40 pm

    Stephen,

    We are not saying Bob has not came to LP views only we have no proof that he has. Bob was in fact a Republican in Congress. Bob Barr is “tainted” and yes we should pass him up until he can prove he is a Libertarian. We need the best activist on the LNC as they represent us on a national level. I am not a fan of libertarian lites to begin with and I certainly do not want them on the LNC.

    In Liberty,
    Eric H. Smith

  6. BetteRose

    December 15, 2006 at 1:02 pm

    Apparently gone are the days where we take someone who was very recently a Republican and run them for president. (Ron Paul and Roger McBride) Gone are the days where following standard proceedure (state chairs filling LNC Regional representative vacancies) are seen as okay. Now we look for conspiracy behind every decision made. If there is one thing that tears our party apart more than anything else, it is the constant shooting at each other for every move we make.

    Those of us who were always libertarian even before we joined the party are very few indeed. Most of you came from one political side of the two sided spectrum. I can still hear the Republican or Democrat voice coming out when you talk, although the ex-republican is less afraid to support Republican causes outloud. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want these people to serve in places of power in the Libertarian Party. We would be a small time party if we rejected those who lean now and again toward their former selves.

    Colorado accepted an elected Republican into their party. They actually let him run again as a Libertarian, although he had served almost 20 years as a Republican. Should they have rejected him? Asked him to stand down and let a ‘real’ Libertarian run? Yes, the seat at the LNC is different than being in office. It has less power and is less visible than being an elected official…. (If you think otherwise, than you don’t understand the power of the LNC or of a single individual on that body.)

    And lastly, we don’t know and no one will tell us who suggested Mr. Barr. You have got to be kidding! Who cares? And why do they care? It was probably something that someone read in an e-mail somewhere and they don’t remember where. But what difference does it make? Are you ready to lynch that person for daring to put forth a name?

  7. Pingback: Jason Gatties » Blog Archive » Bob Barr “Officially” Joining the LP???

  8. The Melinda

    December 15, 2006 at 6:22 pm

    My concerns about Barr are not that he was a registered Republican. Integrity and good character are not created through party affiliation but through the individual acts that fill a lifetime. I do not see any hard choices that took courage in Barr’s life. Comparing him to a man like Roger Mc Bride or Ed Clark ignores what matters.

    Roger McBride was a good friend of mine; his identity was not in a word but in the choices he made. He gave up a possible career in the Republican Party when he jumped ship and cast his electoral vote for Hospers in 1972. He spent his own money because he cared about freedom and his focus was always on helping organize local activism. He was a person of integrity and conviction and operated openly and with transparency. Character matters; we illustrate our character by how we deal with others, not by the rhetoric we emote on issues when we are trying to persuade others to support us. Ideology meets character when we stand up for the principles when that is hard to do. Ron Paul is a Congressman with character, one of a very few. Standing up for our principles measures character when we risk loss, not when it is easy.

    Party labels are just that, labels with no more meaning than the team you root for on Sunday afternoons. How this appointment was done concerns me because we still do not know, and given the propensity for secrecy exhibited by the people who rammed this through, we may never know, the identities of those who decided it would serve their interests. We don’t know who and we don’t know therefore what those interests might be though Eric Rittberg Dondero seems to have let the cat out of the bag. He has recently been working for the Crane – Howie people.

    The whole reminds me, curiously, of the Old Days with Crane and Co. For Newbeys, Ed Crane, Howie Rich and Co., left the LP in ’83 because they were not allowed to run the 84 Presidential Campaign as they had controlled and run the Clark Campaign in 1980. After they left the LP they spent the next ten years trying to get prominent Libertarians, for instance Dick Randolph in Alaska, to change registration and become Republicans. They gave up when they found the Inititiave scam in 1992.

    The fact that Barr served in Congress is not a plus for me. He was, in fact, one of the “Contract on America” Republicans who have broken promise after promise made to the American people going in. He would probably be there now if he had not lost in 02.

    How much contact has there been between those in the National Office and Crane recently? Inquiring minds want to know.

  9. John P Slevin

    December 15, 2006 at 8:56 pm

    Much of the current discussion among Libertarians has focused on the Badnarik campaign and accusations of dishonesty by the campaign manager, Allen Hacker.

    Why no questions of the National LP? It’s alot more money, and it’s been going on for alot longer.

    Before the election, they did a fundraising letter touting the strong chances of what doubtless was an honest candidacy, Smither, in Texas. They also touted the chance to elect 5 in Vermont. None of those races came in anywhere close to victory. How much did National raise with those specific appeals and how much did they spend on the supposedly winnable campaigns?

    Why were the final results the typical distant Libertarian placing?

    THE ONLY reason some people have for criticizing Mr. Badnarik and Mr. Hacker are that they were seen as competing for the bucks. National needs to be asked the same questions as so many are asking (demanding) of Mr. Badnarik and Mr. Hacker.

    I’ve seen the discussions, and I know Hacker hasn’t been real friendly and alot of people have lost any faith in him. Why do those same people have any faith in the National LP? Why do those same people miss the importance of asking National about the great divide between what they were promising was about to happen (wins on election day) and what actually happened, which is distant LP showings?

    It’s curious that Dondero and Barr both were mentioned, repeatedly, in those LP tout letters and emails. Dondero even posted to websites, saying he’d “seen polls” showing Smither could win…What polls? Who’d show them to him? The media, the opposition races? There were no such polls shown to Dondero. Why doesn’t anyone ask about that, instead of harping on Badnarik/Hacker?

    Like many, I thought the Badnarik campaign hopeless, from the start, and yet I recognize that some people had done some great work in fundraising…and I recognize the jealousy,the envy that created. It’s typical in the LP, a party run, at most times, by cabals of slim-witted to no-witted people, plus some in it for the bucks, anyway they can get the bucks. Never, not once, has it been run by people actually doing campaign work. Why not ask questions about that?

    The false claims made by the LP National about Smither’s race, and the 5 in Vermont represent a current low in LP life. I’m sure the candidates and their actual supporters are good LP people, and I know they could have used all the help they could get. Why doesn’t anyone ask where the money went? What polls showed those races could win?

    There were no such polls, and it was known those races wouldn’t win. If National isn’t called on it when the lies are evident, they’ll do it again. We all know they’ve done it before.

  10. Juanita Ramirez

    December 16, 2006 at 12:09 am

    I can only say that Melinda has it right. I can also say that I can proffer a decent suggestion as to who initiated this appointment. It smacks of the same line of politics/organization that has eviscerated the LP of California. If this is the way the Libertarian Party is going then the only vote is to replace/merge the Republican Party with the Libertarian Party. For the Republicans this is a win-win. For the Libertarians this is a compromise of most of the principles that founded this Party.

    I, personally, have been told more than once by our Party leaders in my state that if I didn’t have money I had no voice. Many others in my state have experienced the same. Subsequently, we have withdrawn our little monies and started more grassroots endeavors within our counties to still get out the message. We may be idiots but we still believe in it.

    Thanks, Melinda for bringing this to light.

    Juanita Ramirez, Chair
    San Bernardino County Libertarian Party

  11. Thomas L. Knapp

    December 16, 2006 at 3:09 am

    BetteRose,

    You write “Most of you came from one political side of the two sided spectrum.”

    That’s true.

    On the other hand, most of us didn’t author and sponsor the “Defense of Marriage Act” in Congress. Bob Barr did.

    Even when “leaning toward our former selves,” most of us have not said in public debate that if our mothers were dying of cancer, people who provided them with medical marijuana should go to prison. Bob Barr did.

    Even while having our own religious (or non-religious, or even anti-religious) beliefs, most of us have not thrown a public hissy over the idea that (gasp!) members of the US armed forces might be “allowed” to practice religions other than our own. Bob Barr did.

    I’m not pointing any of these things out to slag Bob Barr. I’m sure he’s a good guy. His record as a US Representative was not wholly anti-liberty and was, in some cases, notably pro-liberty (and contra Melinda, I’ve seen no evidence that he is, or has ever been, a “neoconservative” or anything like one). And, since leaving Congress (after losing a GOP primary in which the LP raised and spent — if memory serves — more than $60,000 to defeat him, his public stands have become increasingly pro-liberty.

    But, it would have been nice to see a public statement of some kind from Bob Barr on his “conversion,” including an affirmation that he’s re-thought some of his past egregiously anti-liberty positions, statements and activities. And it would have been nice to see something like that before seeing the notice that he’d been bootstrapped to a national leadership position in the LP.

    Regards,
    Tom Knapp

  12. Tom Blanton

    December 16, 2006 at 10:58 am

    The Bob Barr situation is further evidence that a faction of the LP leadership seeks to move the LP in a more conservative direction. The Boortzification of the LP continues as many in the LP seem to not know the difference between conservatives and libertarians.

    While some folks are concerned about Barr’s position on the drug war, which is important, I wonder about his position on foreign interventionism – after all, we are involved in a war that one Pentagon mutant predicts will last 50 to 100 years.

    I suspect that Melinda was touching on this by her references to Barr’s statements on Chavez – as opposed to showing some sort of support for Chavez.

    Walter Jones and Dick Armey have both put out limited mea culpas over their support for the Iraq war – where does Barr stand on this issue?

    The war issue has wrecked the LP already due to a soft stance on the war to appease the Boortz cult and a few Objectivists. The war being the central issue of our time (and the main impediment to liberty and limited government), it would truly be a shame if Barr embraces interventionism.

    It is also strange that some see no difference in simply belonging to a political party and serving on a party’s national committee. I suppose these are the same folks that think favoring a tax cut makes one a libertarian.

  13. Stephen VanDyke

    December 16, 2006 at 11:16 am

    Tom Blanton: If he signed the pledge, it’s a moot issue. Even hardline neocans like (Richard Perle) were in Vanity Fair recently saying how the interventionist policy was a bust.

    I have no doubt Barr is more Libertarian than Republican, and that’s the big fat point of his defecting, since the GOP will never admit they have sucked at livinf up to nearly everything they claim to stand for. Even uber-GOP-apologist forum Free Republic is having an UNHEARD OF DISCUSSION of members consider the leap to the LP themselves.

    Barr’s defection to the LP doesn’t mean we’re moving right, it means the GOP has developed a giant sucking sound as disillusioned libertarians head for the door. Barr is a catalyst folks.

  14. Steve Trinward

    December 16, 2006 at 12:51 pm

    Tom Knapp raises the most interesting points here, and I say that not just because he is one of my editor/publishers. How many of the EGREGIOUSLY anti-liberty stances Bob Barr has taken in the past has he now recanted; signing the Pledge should take care of most of them, if he truly understands what “non initiation of force” (or its delegation) really means. Bette Rose Ryan also makes good sense, as always, in noting that taking an LNC position is hardly a stepping stone to power, but is instead a pledge to do (rather thankless) work to help salvage/build the party itself.

    The concern that this may enhance the misnomer that Libertarian means “far right” is also valid, and I only hope that one of the next “converts” is either Barney Frank or Russ Feingold (or maybe one of the Blue Dog Democrats who realizes his party won’t really break ranks, either?).

    As far as Barr’s intentions to run in 2008, it would take him a lot of fence-mending to even have a shot, and an LNC regional rep position is hardly a springboard.

    Meanwhile, most folks I know with real concerns about this issue are more upset with the methodology used in making it happen (secrecy, armtwisting and backroom politics), than with the outcome. I happen to think Bob Barr might be a very good addition to the LNC, bringing awareness of the real political arena, ability to find folks with actual “candidate material” in them … and maybe even the action steps to convert more Rs and independents (and even some Ds?), as well as helping to raise some money to keep the boat afloat.

  15. The Melinda

    December 16, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    Regarding Hugo Chavez: Tom, I do not know the guy but all the reports I could scare up came through mainstream media were highly emotional, irrational and negative. Over the last several years we have come to realize that American’s mainstream media is, shall we say, unreliable? Therefore everything they say has to be taken with a grain of salt. On the other hand usually reliable international sources disagree with the American media on the Chavez issue, giving him good marks as president of Venexuela. I also note that countries localed over large reservoirs of oil are generally demonized by this administrate. While this is not proof it certainly indicates that any conclusion on Chavez must be arrived at only after much more thorough study.

    The reasons I position Barr as a NeoCon is his behavior while in Congress. He was not an entirely reliable member, according to my Republican sources. The same source, someone who worked directly with him, said he was always focused on how he could himself profit, too much so for the NeoCons with whom he was working. The source said that is why they made sure he was not reelected. This was a surprise to me but the source said it is generally known that they dumped him for reasons having nothing to do with ideology but a lot to do with personality. The source is a Goldwater type conservative who does not want to be identified.

    In terms of his pesonal ethics it is known that he persuaded his wife to have an abortion when she became pregnant and he was planning to divorce her. He was already planning to marry someone else, according to that source. I have not checked this out by looking at the divorce records or contacting the ex-wife. If I wrote a story on him I might do that. He was both before and afterwards, militantly pro-life anti-abortion, so that goes to how honest he is personally and professionally.

    I did not mean to indicate that he is not skilled at articulating the ideas of freedom. While in Congress we saw what he did about freedom. Since he is no longer there we only know what he says, remember. This goes to a more fundamental issue than any individual’s rhetorical skills. The Libertarian Party is a tool not for talking about freedom but for making freedom a reality. Individuals who use the rhetoric of freedom to generate an income without ever producing the means to free individuals are part of the problem. I fail to see how Barr works as a tool for returning control to individuals but I agree that Barr has noticed that the LP has the potential to become far more significant politically because of the movement on both sides towards coalition; many Progressives now identifying themselves as Left-Libertarian and Conservatives as Right-Libertarians.

    I repeat the question. Where did this idea originate? Inquiring minds still want to know.

    Regarding the issue of

  16. Brian Miller

    December 16, 2006 at 4:45 pm

    let’s set up litmus test dunking booths for any Republicans or Democrats who dare come over to the Libertarian Party

    There’s a difference between “setting up a litmus test for Republicans and Democrats to join the party” and what actually happened — a backroom deal that elevated a johnny-come-lately to board membership based on his “star power” and that took many seasoned party activists completely by surprise.

    Joining the party is great. Getting assigned to board-level policy positions when one’s own position on the issues is ambiguous (at best) and coming from a lousy place (based on recent voting history) is just backroom payola takeover bullshit.

    The most outrageous thing about this, from my view, is that if they’d nominated Ralph Nader or Hillary Clinton for a similar position (and talked about their “libertarian impulses on the Iraq War and illegal wiretaps”), the same people falling all over themselves to defend Barr would be screaming bloody murder. Despite, of course, that they’d be as “libertarian” as Barr himself.

    There’s something fundamentally rotten with the LP if someone who is not, in any real sense a libertarian, can hop right onto the board after writing a couple of articles that slightly alter his positions from his legislative history — and long-term grassroots party builders who delivered success in the 2006 elections, especially in the west, are told to sit down and shut up.

    Considering the heavy involvement of elements of the RLC in this deal, I am fearing that the LP will be facing a Buchanan-Reform Party situation. All for “instant victory.”

    You’d figure after the Weld and Smither disasters that the party leadership would have learned about the price of getting into bed with Republicans.

  17. Tom Blanton

    December 16, 2006 at 8:01 pm

    Stephen VanDyke said:

    “Barr’s defection to the LP doesn’t mean we’re moving right”

    This may be true, but it means the LP WILL move to the right more than it already has. The influx of Barr, the freepers, and other disgruntled conservatives will most certainly move the LP to the right as they all have social agendas, interventionist leanings, and tons of misconceptions about freedom and economics.

    If there was some kind of back room deal made to get Barr in the LNC, that demonstrates that there is in fact an element of the LP leadership that does seek to move the LP in a more conservative direction. This is not new. While the Iraq War was spinning out of control and civil rights were dropping like flies, the LPHQ was pushing the repeal of the estate tax to woo conservatives.

    The reluctance to even harshly criticize Bush has been in sharp contrast to LPHQ’s position on the impeachment of Clinton. Then there is the whole pro-war, Fair Tax, Neal Boortz thing in the LP. Then there is the LPHQ poster boy Smither who advertised he was the “only conservative” on the ballot. Then there were the dozens of LP candidates that ran for Congress in 2006 that pushed bad immigration policy and the Fair Tax and remained silent over the war on terror, Iraq, etc.

    To claim that the LP hasn’t become more conservative and that a faction of the LP hasn’t spent considerable time and money courting conservatives requires one to ignore lots of evidence to the contrary. To believe that an influx of more and more disgruntled conservatives will not move the LP in a more conservative direction in just naive.

  18. Michael H. Wilson

    December 16, 2006 at 11:31 pm

    I understand that Reason will have a piece on this Monday and perhaps an interview with Barr.
    M.H.W.

  19. The Melinda

    December 17, 2006 at 11:43 am

    It is nice that Reason will jump in and certainly an interview with Barr would allow the question to be asked on whether he would initiate a run for president himself or accept a ‘draft.’ Good to get that in print so it can be cited later when the campaign begins.

  20. Susan Hogarth

    December 18, 2006 at 10:30 am

    My account of the nomination process:

    http://www.colliething.com/2006/12/bob-barr-appointed-to-lnc.html

    “What this is about: The process by which Bob Barr was placed on the
    Libertarian National Committee (LNC) as representative of the
    Southeast (SE) region.

    What this is NOT about: Bob Barr’s suitability for the position he was
    appointed to.

    Essence of the matter: The chairs of the SE region did not act against
    rules in the appointment of Bob Barr to the LNC, but they did act
    inappropriately.”

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  22. Carl

    December 18, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    The LNC does not set the party platform; the convention does. The LNC does handle such things as operations and fundraising. I suspect a former Congressman has an order of magnitude more relevant experience in these areas than many who have sat on that body.

    True, some of the rules that work for Republican will not work for Libertarians. Not all of Barr’s experience will prove useful. But we have plenty of LNC members who have risen through the ranks to provide counter balance.

    Those on the left now have a challenge: recruit someone of similar experience/prestige who comes from the anti-war or civil liberties movements.

    Stop whining about the Boortzification of the LP. The LP should include Boortz types. It should also include antiwar.com types. If the party has no room for internal disagreements, then is should be shut down tomorrow. A political party is either big or pointless.

  23. John P Slevin

    December 18, 2006 at 5:57 pm

    Carl,

    How about shutting down the LP Nat Comm, tomorrow? That would solve problems, plus leave money in the pockets of earnest contributors, money they could devote to just cause.

  24. Tom Blanton

    December 19, 2006 at 1:32 am

    Carl said: “A political party is either big or pointless”

    I disagree, a political party can be both big and pointless. Now,
    a party that is pointless can certainly win elections – it happens
    all the time. The real question is whether a political party filled
    with disgruntled conservatives and liberals can win elections and move America in a more libertarian direction.

    As for crypto-fascist Boortz, you can have him along with his support for a 30% sales tax to support his warfare state. But, I guess if you get paid with defense dollars, Carl, Boortz is a great guy.

  25. Carl Milsted

    December 19, 2006 at 6:38 pm

    Tom: I have my disagreements Mr. Boortz. I don’t think a 30 percent sales tax is workable. I think the Iraq invasion was a mistake in retrospect. I have also taken quite a bit of heat for critizing the war on the local radio.

    The LP could use a reduction in the number of intolerant jerks.

  26. MG

    December 20, 2006 at 9:17 pm

    There is no question the LP has been submerged in many areas by these LRC fanatics and moles, the usual band of know-nothings, and refugees from the GOP purge by the extremists as Governing magazine calls it. The LRC effort at playing elections was a disaster, unless you’re trying to wreck the national LP, in which case they did OK. A lot of people are expecting David Nolan to figure out what to do about it, if anything. I don’t think he has yet. The LP environment has changed greatly from 1971.

    This stuff happens every few years. In 1981 we did an FOIA request and discovered many of our leaders were government agents and informants, leading to the purge. Now their type are back. Two weeks ago I came to my LP local meeting at a local cafe early and found self-described RLC and LRCniks handing people pamphlets telling them there was no meeting and to join their groups. I played dumb, got their patter, and then ejected them with the staff help. A nearby Democratic party chapter member says it is fighting off a Republican takeover of people whose rhetoric is identical to the LRCniks–get rid of our platform, party pledge, only run a few candidates who can win, a real political party doesn’t have educators or activists, send all your money to us, and vote for ‘friendly’ Republican candidates. So our problems aren’t unique. I’m told Green parties have people resigning all over the place complaining of the same stuff.

    Then again, Steve Dasbach used to write articles with rhetoric that made the LRC look like Rothbard. He got his dream of running the LP and some feel he wised up. He discovered the LP founders weren’t so stupid and developing a stable movement wasn’t a matter of money or catchy slogans. He was a very good staff to my mind.

    Re: Barr–I did my part in bringing him into the movement. Without offering an opinion on Bob’s qualifications, I have long advocated creation of an advisory board of eminent persons to shuttle these ‘stars’ so that…

    a)They’re not disheartened by criticism or being expected to understand organizational detail, and members are not outraged by placement of people who have at best a general understanding of LP culture and Libertarian ideology in key positions; and
    b) They and our fundraisers can use their strength–publicity and goodwill–to best effect.

    The Democratic party loves Barbara Streisand. But they are unlikely to appoint her to an executive board or a platform committee.They do appoint her to other goodwill boards.

    By all means we should develop and appoint 100% Libertarians conversant with ideology, practice and organization to the most key positions whereever available. The result of not doing so are ‘leaders’ with limited understanding who therefore de-educate members while proudly re-inventing the flat tire.

    Libertarianism is a body of knowledge, like medicine, to preserve human rights, rebuild bonds through the pledge, and replace coercive government management with the voluntary approach. Anything less is a path to statism, gangsterism. There are plentry of parties advocating less–we should not join them. There is theory and practice. It takes time to acquire. I daresay I’ve met more D & R candidates better trained in Libertarianism than many an LP decionmaker or ‘winnable’ candidate. You don’t want a big tent non-100% doctor throwing darts to figure out what his position on your operation today.

    This does not mean we should not welcome non-100% ers–but as supporters, not members. I’ve led the entire party in generation of supporters. It doesn’t mean we should not work where there is common ground. I’ve done my best to set an example in coalition building. But there is no compromise in the quality of baby-food, the training of Marines, or Libertarianism.

    Michael Gilson
    Region 4 Rep and alternate 2000-2006