With Winds Like These, Who Needs Cyclones?


Somehow -- I don't really recall how, but I'm promiscuous like that -- I ended up on Erick Erickson's mailing list. I usually don't open the emails because internal Republican hair-pulling just isn't my thing, but this one caught my eye:

The Winds Appear to Have Shifted In Ted Cruz's Favor

Why did it catch my eye? Well, it's usually just not the kind of thing you see about someone who went oh for five in primaries three days ago. So I wondered what Erickson had on his mind.

I have to admit, Erickson turns quite a trick by fashioning two things -- one, that everyone who's talking about Cruz hates him; two, that most people (including Drudge) aren't talking about Cruz at all -- into a case for CRUZMENTUM.

And he seems to attribute this massive shift, of which the symptoms are that nothing at all seems to have changed in any way, to one thing: Cruz picking a failed CEO who got beat like a red-headed step-child in all three elections she's ever contested (California for US Senate, Iowa and New Hampshire for the GOP presidential nomination) as his running mate.

I'm not convinced.

Home Stretch Questions for Gary Johnson #4


Former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson spe...
Former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia)

Governor Johnson,

In a recent debate with fellow Libertarian presidential aspirant Austin Petersen in Oregon, you said "So I have a political arm, Our America Initiative, and we've been more outspoken regarding the Patriot Act perhaps than any other organization, writing editorials constantly about the Patriot Act and the infringement that it poses to all of us. As governor of New Mexico, I would have never ever established the Department of Homeland Security. I think it's incredibly redundant." You make that claim starting at about 26 minutes, 10 seconds into this video:

The National Governors Association says otherwise in its reprint of the New Mexico Department of Public Safety's Homeland Security Strategic Plan:

In January 2002, Governor Johnson appointed the Department of Public Safety (DPS) Cabinet Secretary, Thomas L. English, as his Homeland Security Advisor. Mr. English immediately established the Office of Emergency Services and Security (OESS) to carry out homeland security functions and requirements. In July 2002, Mr. English established the DPS, Special Investigations Division, CounterTerrorism Intelligence Section (CTIS).

The strategic plan describes an aggressive intelligence and surveillance plan, to include expanding New Mexico's war on drugs under cover of the war on terror, in direct contradiction to your public statements indicating a desire to pare back the drug war:

The State's Homeland Security Advisor created a counterterrorism intelligence section within the Department of Public Safety, Special Investigations Division. This section will train law enforcement officers statewide in basic terrorism concepts and procedures in developing useful counter-terrorism intelligence. Another focus of this unit will be on identifying sources of drug funds and repositories for drug proceeds. It is believed that drug monies are being utilized to fund terrorist organizations.

The record says that you actually did exactly what you now say you never would have done, not just on the broad issue of "Homeland Security" but with respect to the war on drugs and police militarization (as of the strategic report, using federal grants of more than $5 million for equipment purchases).

What other parts of your actual record as governor of New Mexico are the exact opposite of the claims you make about that record today?

Home Stretch Questions for Gary Johnson, #3


Former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson spe...
Former Governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson (Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia)
Governor Johnson,

Most governors and other high public officials with significant wealth put that wealth in "blind trust" while in office. This involves liquidating known assets and having a trustee invest and manage wealth without the official knowing the details.

Your "blind trust" was a little different: It involved retaining ownership of your construction company, Big J, turning putative management of that company over to your campaign treasurer, allowing the company to bid on state projects run by your administration while claiming that it didn't, attempting to remove two New Mexico Tech regents who had the gall and temerity to choose another contractor over Big J for a state-funded project, and hiring Big J's former president on a no-bid contract under which he was paid $20,000 to write a ten-page report suggesting that you be more "bold" and "dramatic" as governor.

That record, combined with your 2012 presidential campaign's dishonest finance reporting, its outstanding debt of between $1.5 million and $1.9 million, and its tendency to function more as an instrument for the care and feeding of "political consultants" than as an actual campaign, raises two questions:

First, was your problem from 1995-2012 that you were ethically challenged, or that you were not a very competent executive, or both?

Second, is there any reason to believe that you've become more honest and/or more competent since 2012, especially given that your current campaign is once again spending the bulk of its money on the same "political consultants," operating from the same address, only under a new company name?

Crowdfunding Some Travel Assistance...


[This post is manually "pinned" to the top of the blog's main page at the moment for obvious reasons - TLK]

Let's try this again.

I'm trying to raise $500. If that's all you need to know, the button is at the bottom of this post, and thanks. If you'd rather read a messed up story first, here we go:

Earlier this morning, I tried to create a crowdfunding campaign for upcoming travel expenses using a service called Fundrazr. Complete nightmare -- they advertise that they support PayPal withdrawal of donations, but once you start setting up, they try to corral you into another service (WePay), and if you spend 15 minutes finding the PayPal option, it turns out that only works if you have a PayPal business account. The instructions on how to edit and delete campaigns bear zero relation to reality. When you try to unlink your social media accounts and just get off the service altogether, it demands MORE information (setting up an email address, password, etc.).

I don't recommend Fundrazr. I've sent them a nastygram asking how I get out of their house of horrors. Maybe I'll hear back. Maybe I won't. I've also deleted the Facebook post advertising the campaign and asked people who might want to donate to NOT donate through that if they've already seen it and clicked through, bookmarked, etc.

So, why am I trying to raise $500, and what will donors get for helping me do so?

Well, it's like this: I have some travel coming up and it's going to punch a bit of a hole in the ol' family budget.

From May 11th thru the 18th, I'll be traveling from Florida back to Missouri to visit my parents and my oldest brother. They're 82 (my parents, not my brother) and in the process of selling their house and moving. I haven't seen them in 3 1/2 years. My OTHER brother and I will be traveling together -- he used some points he's accrued to buy me a plane ticket from Jacksonville, Florida to Milwaukee, Wisconsin (he lives in Racine), and we're going to drive down to Missouri, spend a few days, drive back to Wisconsin and I'll fly home.

Then over Memorial Day weekend, I'll be traveling a mere 120 miles to Orlando, Florida for the 2016 Libertarian National Convention. This will be a working trip for me, and a couple of days of it will be a vacation trip for Tamara and Amelia (Tamara wants to visit old Libertarian Party friends, Amelia wants to attend a science fiction convention next door to the Libertarian event).

I'm raising the money to help take the edge off things like hotel room rental, road food, etc.

I really only have two things to offer in return for your help:

- I'll be glad to give you public thanks/appreciation here on the blog and/or on the podcast. Just hit the contact form up top and let me know if you'd like that.

- My intent is to blog, podcast, possibly livestream video, etc. from the Libertarian National Convention. You'll read, see and hear that stuff here, at Independent Political Report, etc. (I'll be trying to get together some kind of "LP convention central media HQ" thingie to point you to -- there may be Instagram photos, Periscope videos, whatever; I'm working out the tech now). So a little bit of what you're buying with your support is "hopefully better and more detailed coverage of the convention that usual, above and beyond C-SPAN's, for those who can't actually be there." Among the POSSIBLE budget holes to cover will be buying a wi-fi package or hot spot if there's not good "free" Internet access from the convention hall.

So, that's what's up. Thanks in advance!

A Couple of Questions for Dr. Richard Ebeling


In an essay on "the bathroom wars" published yesterday at Epic Times, Dr. Richard Ebeling writes:

In government accommodations in such places as, say, courthouses, and in spite of the additional taxpayers' expense, matching toilet facilities for men and women, there also should be "transgender" facilities of some sort. There must be accommodations for taxpaying citizens who would feel uncomfortable in satisfying biological functions in the same limited space with those they define as members of the opposite sex, and at the same time for there to be facilities for those who are indifferent or who consider it "right" for transgender individuals to share such facilities with them.

Interesting perspective. Let me see if I'm understanding him correctly.

I take it Dr. Ebeling supported the "public" (i.e. government-run, although through a contractor) bus line in New York City that made "accommodations" for taxpaying male Orthodox Jews who "would feel uncomfortable" having women ride in the front of the bus with them, by requiring women to board through the back door and remain in the back of the bus, right?

Breathing and drinking water are "biological functions." Am I entitled to have, just for example, the public courthouse segregated by race if I "would feel uncomfortable" breathing the same air or drinking from the same fountain as African-Americans, Dr. Ebeling?

Just wondering.

[hat tip: Nick Manley]

Libertarian National Convention: A Couple of Bylaws Notes


The Libertarian Party's bylaws committee is circulating a survey soliciting opinions on various proposals. On the assumption that said proposals will end up in the committee's final report and be voted on by delegates to the national convention, I'd like to make the case for voting against a couple of them.

First, we have a proposal relating to relations between the Libertarian National Committee and the presidential campaign. The bylaws require the LNC to support the campaign, but not vice versa. In recent years, the LNC has attempted to make its support contingent on contracts that require the campaigns to do certain things, e.g. turn over their contact lists so that the party, as well as the campaign, can communicate with supporters. That hasn't always worked out. Here's a proposal for an addition to Article 15 of the bylaws:

Not less than six months prior to each Presidential Nominating Convention, the National Committee shall publish the contract specifying the terms by which the Party and the Presidential and Vice-presidential campaign shall assist and support each other. The Chair shall sign on behalf of the Party with each person who otherwise qualifies and desires to be our candidate. Only those persons who have signed prior to the close of nominations and are in compliance with the contract shall be recognized as candidates and be eligible to be nominated for President or Vice-President.

I recommend a NO vote on this proposal. Would it be a good thing for the presidential campaign to work closely with the LNC to build the party instead of just being a one-off, one-election-cycle project that disappears after the first Tuesday in November? Sure.

But that's something to be settled by appeal to the national convention delegates to support or oppose this or that candidate, not something to be settled by using the bylaws to hold campaigns hostage to whatever the LNC might happen to demand in its contract offer.

Secondly, we have yet another "intellectual property" ploy. A number of years back, the LNC filed a frivolous and fraudulent trademark application, claiming to own the name "Libertarian Party" even though it neither invented nor was the first to use that term, and even though the LNC was created BY the previously existing state Libertarian Parties as a mutual affiliation mechanism. It's sort of like the recently hired janitor claiming to own the stock symbol of the company where he mops floors. Because that trademark claim clearly wouldn't last 30 seconds in court, they're back trying to use the bylaws to gain "ownership" of a name that is not and never has been their "property" (even if intellectual property was conceptually compatible with libertarianism -- it isn't):

No person, group or organization may use the name "Libertarian Party" or any confusingly similar designation except the Party or an organization to which the Party grants affiliate party status or as otherwise provided in these bylaws. An affiliate that does not have on file with the Party a signed standard agreement acknowledging that the affiliate’s use of the Libertarian Party name is contingent upon it remaining an affiliate, that affiliate shall not be eligible to:

  • send delegates to any Regular Convention;
  • join a representative region;
  • receive resources from the Party;
  • appoint anyone to serve on any Party board or committee.

The first sentence in the above is risible but unfortunately already pollutes the bylaws. The new language is the party beginning with "An affiliate that does not have on file with the Party ..."

Once again, clearly something to vote NO on. The LNC should never be supported or rewarded in attempted fraud.

Initial Thoughts On Amazon Prime Instant Video


If you're a streaming movie and TV buff, you've probably heard the latest: Amazon is taking two steps to put itself into more direct competition with Netflix, at the same time that Netflix is preparing to piss off a bunch of its most loyal and long-time subscribers, including me.

Amazon Step #1: Making it possible to subscribe to the company's Prime service on a monthly, rather than annual, basis.

Amazon Step #2: Making it possible to break out one component of the Prime service -- streaming video -- at a lower price ($8.99 per month) or get the whole ball of wax (streaming video, streaming music, a crap ton of free books for Kindle, and free two-day shipping on physical stuff) for a little more ($10.99 per month).

Dumb Netflix Move: Jacking up a previously "grandfathered" monthly price of $7.99 to $9.99 for long-time subscribers (like me) who want to be able to continue streaming to two devices at once (I've got kids; people who are good with only one stream can stick at $7.99). The price increase starts rolling out in May.

So, I started my free one-month trial of Amazon Prime on Friday.

And I like it.

Every now and again for the last several years, I've Googled terms like netflix vs amazon prime and mulled making the switch. The comparisons vary wildly by criteria. But mostly Amazon just seems to have ... well, MORE. The main problem with the decision is original programming. I can't watch "Orange is the New Black" on Amazon. I can't watch "Bosch" on Netflix.

Right now I'm leaning toward Amazon on content considerations. That's not really a reflection of quality. It's just that I'm tired of "Orange is the New Black" and just now getting started on "Bosch." But OK, I can see where the decision might be difficult.

Where it's not difficult is on interface. Amazon's is just better. When watching Amazon video on my computer, I can mouse over the screen and BOOM -- a list of every actor in the scene I'm watching pops up, as well as information on e.g. what music is playing and so forth. And I can click thru for more info and even pop right over to IMDB.

How cool is that? Well, here's how cool: Every time Tamara and I watch something, anything on Neflix, we see someone we think we recognize but can't quite place, and one of us ends up yelling "hit pause! I have to go see who that is!" and then spend ten minutes tracking down the episode name and looking through the cast to find out who it is we're looking at. On Amazon, it's mouse over, click, done. Instant gratification.

I can get Amazon Prime video for a buck less a month than Netflix is going to be charging me. Or for a buck more than Netflix is going to be charging me, I can get video, and music, and books, and free shipping.

Unless something changes in the next 25 days or so, Netflix is gone. I kind of hate that because I've been with Netflix for a decade and a half or so and haven't really had any complaints until now. But hey, I'll get over it. I've got t-shirts older than that.

Brief after-note: I've watched the first four episodes of "Bosch," and love it. Now I'm waiting for Tamara to catch up (we've both read all the Bosch novels and love them). While I'm waiting, I'm binge-watching a show I always knew I would like but couldn't watch on Netflix: "The Newsroom." Call me sappy a secret com-symp, but consider Aaron Sorkin a national treasure.

And short after-thought, a few minutes after initial posting: I think that Marcia Gay Harden may be the most attractive woman working in film and television today. Yes, even more so than Christina Hendricks, Kirsten Vangness or Scarjo. And if you don't agree, well, you're stupid and I don't care what you think.

A Grudging Bit of Respect for the Johnson 2016 Campaign


Over the past week or so, I've emphasized the importance of opposition research in political campaigns and bemoaned the near absence of it in Libertarian political campaigns.

Earlier this morning, I found out that Gary Johnson's presidential campaign has a private Facebook group apparently dedicated to one side of the oppo research equation: Figuring out what might be used to attack the candidate so that it can be headed off.

The group is called Troll Patrol GJ2016. Obviously I'm not a member of it. In fact, I'm presumably not supposed to know it exists (neither are you unless you're a member of it).

For obvious reasons, I'm of two minds on the subject.

On the one hand, it's nice to see a Libertarian presidential campaign doing one of the things it needs to be doing. Congrats to the Johnson people on being proactive there.

On the other hand, I'm on the general catch-all anti-Johnson team, so if there are any turncoats lurking in Troll Patrol GJ2016 who'd like to share what's been posted there and what gets posted there in the future you know where to find me.

The KN@PP Stir Podcast, Episode 77: Yippie Yi Okyay ("the") and the Gary Johnson Death Match


This episode of The KN@PP Stir Podcast is brought to you by Darryl W. Perry:

In this episode:

  • Thanks For Asking! (my sad fiction career);
  • The word "the" and why Raquel Okyay flipped out and blocked me on Facebook;
  • Gary Johnson's bizarre record on the death penalty.