L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 131, July 23, 2001
In TLE #130, L. Neil Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote>
>Republicans in America in 1964 when "Landslide Lyndon" Johnson
To pick a nit, (as I recall) in the electoral college, it wasn't nearly that close, but in the popular vote it was far closer than that. As I recall, Johnson won only about 60% of the popular vote.
Bill Bunn <email@example.com>
RE: Clinton's ExOrd concerning enabling Fed web pages for disabled.
I guess I just don't get it! I mean, there is an alt section for the various meta tags where text is ALREADY supposed to be placed to allow a text description/caption/replacement for the various sound/flash/image components.
You can even embed different 'captions' for each of the sections of a hotspot image thus allowing the descriptive 'text' to change as the mouse pointer moves over the different parts of the image. So, in my mind, the question becomes, why haven't the Fed web page developers put in these comments and why, furthermore, do not all web browsers automatically display these messages as 'captions'!?!
We already have software available for blind users that translates such text into speech as they appear on the screen so that takes care of the can't see it issue. In fact, most blind already have the software if they use computers.
Derk Benner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
FWIW: Mark Penman's webpage
Lots of good information on the website. http://www.loudpipes.com/laissezfirearm/
Damn, I'm so sorry he's dead.
Anonymous Coredump <email@example.com>
The Wisdom of El Neil
i was spending a few quiet moments repeatedly running "fortune" when the following snippett popped up, reminding me of El Neil's essay in the last TLE:
Curt Howland <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Wisdom of El Neil
Note: permission is granted for anyone to publish, forward, or post this message, wherever, provided the whole thing is posted. Copyright 2001 Jim Davidson, all rights reserved. http://www.awdal.com/
Perry Willis says he has taken actions which violated LP party policy he was expected to uphold. He thinks he did so for good reasons.
In so doing, he destroyed the Libertarian Party's process for making decisions, he made the "Party of Principle" betray its principles, and he undertook, on his own authority, to play king maker. Not satisfied with the way in which the LP chooses candidates, Willis chose to make the Harry Browne candidacy the preferred choice.
Admitting as he does that he took his time in leaving his position of authority, that the Harry Browne campaign was in trouble before he "saved" it, and that the LP was in trouble before he "saved" the LP, the pattern is clear. Willis has no guilty conscience about his actions because he does not understand the principles at stake.
Whose candidacies did Willis unilaterally undermine by choosing Harry Browne's book tour extravaganza as the campaign of choice? Willis does not care.
Did Willis get Harry Browne elected? No. In 1996, and again in 2000, Harry Browne polled fewer votes than Ralph Nader. And now, on the Harry Browne web site, Willis is extolling the virtues of underhanded political shenanigans, making it clear to all observers that the Party of Principle is just another political harlot.
So, on the one hand, he failed to save the LP. Instead, he made it as useless and unreliable as any other political party. On another hand, he failed to save the Harry Browne campaign, which lost two elections, anyway. On yet a third hand (and oh, is this monster many-tentacled), Willis killed off many campaigns about which he has no remorse. On a fourth hand, he turned off a great many LP active voters, sponsors, and contributors. In the end, he decided to shape the Harry Browne campaign and the LP in the image of his choosing.
And let the individuals who make up the LP take their opposing viewpoints and go to hell. Whose interests were served? Harry sold a lot of books. Willis forgave $5,000 in billings, but admits to being paid quite a bit for his work. The Greens, Democrats, and Republicans can now point to the Willis .pdf file as clear evidence that the LP is for sale, if one knows who to buy and when. The individuals who make up the LP were screwed to the wall with a moly bolt, and Willis doesn't care.
If the only alternative for the LP to avoid being "a tiny, stagnant party with scant hopes for future progress" is for the LP to be turned into the moral equivalent of a military dictatorship, with Willis playing the part of dictatorial madman, then I would have to vote for a tiny stagnant party. But, the very arrogance which causes Willis to consign the efforts of all other individuals in the party to stagnation is what condemns his actions in "saving" it, and makes him unable to see the infinite horizon of alternatives to these two febrile choices.
Where is the political force that the LP wields? It is not in the national headquarters, it is not in the White House (because Harry keeps losing), it is not in Congress (because the LP apparatchiks like Willis keep focusing on the White House), it is in state and local races. The LP is made up of hundreds of individual activists who do most of the work, thousands of individual contributors who do most of the funding, and a few self-important types like Willis who do all the whining and most of the cheating.
Who is being cheated when guys like Willis disobey the policies of the Libertarian National Committee? Precisely those individuals who chose the LNC to set those policies. Bypassing the policies, bypassing the LNC, necessarily acts to bypass the individuals who make up the LP, do the work, and put in the money to, among other things, pay worms like Willis to help destroy it.
So, I disagree that the conflict of interest policy would have prevented the vast gains Willis imagines took place in the 1990s. Those gains that did take place took place mostly in local races, due mostly to the individual efforts of local activists.
Then we get to the part where Willis measures the harm he did. He says the asset base grew. But, he is not mentioning all the contributors who have sworn never to give another dime to the LP because of the obvious conflict of interest to which he now admits. Nor does Willis mention really useful projects like "Touched by Government" which were ignored because of the pointless focus on presidential politics.
Understandably, he only measures what he wants, because it is important to him to focus on what he believes is important. Namely, his ability to choose for the entire LP who will be the next presidential candidate, for him to choose an unethical course of action and rationalize it, and for the really important people in the party, like Willis thinks he must be, to make decisions for all the little people who, as he indicates, are unable, in his estimation, to make a difference.
Did his actions hurt party morale? You bet your sweet ass they did. Would he recognize morale built on character, principle, and ethical behavior if it were to bite off his shriveled little pecker? Not a chance.
Does moving the offices of the LP to the Watergate complex seem to echo with the actions of any other unprincipled men of recent memory? Please. Basing the LP inside the Beltway is bad enough. Basing it in the Watergate, a term so synonymous with scandal that every Washington scandal since has been named this-gate or that-gate to indicate its scandalous nature, is such a hypocritical action that justifying it goes beyond the pale.
The question isn't whether one can boast of accomplishments. The question must always be: what are you building? And, if you are building an edifice on the shifting sands of expedience, what can you possibly hope to achieve?
It is quite possible that the LP is a bad idea to begin with, since it necessarily involves good people in bad politics. It may be forlorn to hope that one can organize a political party in the United States, have it file FEC reports automated or otherwise, comply with the regulatory madness which is "campaign finance reform," run candidates for political office, win elections, and maintain the integrity of principles. But, if the only way to lose presidential elections is to abandon the policies and principles of the party, then what is the point?
What is the point of a political party like the Greens, Democrats, and Republicans have? Having three such parties around, do we seriously believe we need a fourth? If that fourth party is to be as venal, as craven, as devoid of principle, as whorish in its abandon of policy, and as negligent of the interests of the people who make up the party, then I would say, no, we don't.
If the LP is good for anything, it is good as an example of what people can do without corrupting their principles. It is good as an example of what can be achieved by individuals in righteous defense of their liberties. It is a beacon in the dark, shining a light of conscientious adherence to the principles of liberty.
It cannot be that beacon if it is sullied by contempt for the manner in which the party makes policy, the people who choose those who implement policy, the policy leadership, the policies themselves, and the principles which those policies are designed to uphold. One man cannot make over a party founded on the principles of liberty on a whim, because he doesn't like where the headquarters are located, because he doesn't enjoy the work he's doing, because he thinks he knows better who should be the next presidential candidate, or because he can make enough money to be able to afford to forgive $5,000 in billings.
I'm not convinced by Willis. I suspect him of being a money grubbing political hack who has acted entirely out of expedience. I think his own words are convincing evidence that my suspicions are true.
But, it is worse than that. What of Steve Dasbach and the other individuals in power within the LP who knew what was being done, and not only allowed it to happen, but made it possible? Where were they when it was time to make principled decisions? Perhaps vicariously enjoying the prospects of a future as vendors to the LP.
Who would have benefited had Willis not taken the actions he took? Yes, the other presidential campaigns would have been better off. Yes, the LP would have been better off. Yes, the individuals who chose people other than Willis to set policy would have been better off. Yes, the principles of individual liberty would have been better served by a more principled and ethical conduct on the part of the national headquarters staff. And, yes, morale would have been better.
For one thing, guys like me might still be involved. Instead, I recognized the self-serving crap that guys like Willis were using to excuse their behavior as symptomatic of the LP as a whole, and made myself scarce. Politics as usual is not the solution the LP is supposed to be offering.
And, therefore, a Texas LP candidate for Supreme Court of Texas polled more votes in 1996 than did Harry Browne in either 1996 or 2000. Because nobody in the LP really believes that Harry Browne offers much in the way of change.
Harry's deficits are glossed over by Willis. But Harry has written that he would impose taxes if they were necessary in his estimation. It seems that his views on guns are about as convincing as his views on taxes. And who is this Michael Cloud who figures so prominently in Harry's campaigns? Isn't he the same Michael Emerling or Michael Emerling Cloud around whom so much scandal has been collected?
Willis asks some questions. Let me offer some answers.
"Do the nomination campaigns exist for the sake of the party?" Der. No. They exist for the sake of nominating candidates, campaigning for their nominations, and, ultimately, electing candidates. "Does the party exist to accommodate the nomination candidates?" Der. No. It exists to elect candidates. It does not exist to choose candidates.
Rather, prospective candidates are supposed to choose to run for a nomination, and are supposed to be nominated by the individual members of the LP. If the LP membership is to be bypassed because Willis thinks that the Harry Browne campaign is best for the party, then why bother to have LP members at all? Why not have Willis put up all the money and make all the choices? Why even bother with the pretense of a representative democracy? Put Willis in charge, label the beast a dictatorship, and get on with life in whatever sort of death camp he puts you in.
Ultimately, the LP exists because the individual members of the LP chose to create it and choose to suffer its continued existence. Piss off enough LP members, and there won't be an LP any longer. Or, the LP that remains won't be the LP that was created, it won't be able to do the things for which it was created, and we'll have four useless parties of political harlotry, instead of three.
"Should our nomination candidates audition for the job?" It seems that Willis would like to be king maker, and choose the nominees, without all that messy voting. Forget about principles like "one man, one vote," and the notion that those who pay for the party should get to choose what beer is served, let's have sophisticated Washington insiders like Willis make all the decisions, and screw over the very people who pay his salary.
"Should LP employees or LNC members be prohibited from doing things that benefit the party?" Yes.
Yes? Oh, yes!!! Suppose Willis took it in his head, while still an LP employee, to kill L. Neil Smith in the name of party unity? Could he justify that action as easily as he's justified his other actions? Of course. Would he think it a benefit to the LP? Of course. Should he be prohibited from committing murder? Of course.
What if Willis could have taken a pension fund for LP employees and turned the funds over to the Harry Browne campaign? Would he, in his head, view that as a benefit to the LP? After all, that money was "just sitting there."
Suppose any unethical action were not only not prohibited, but actively encouraged by the LP? Then what good is it to have an LP? If even the most limited action is in fact unethical, it should not be done by LP employees or LNC members, even if it seems to benefit the party in the very near term. It should not be done.
Perhaps it will be done, because people aren't perfect. Perhaps it can be rationalized, because it will bring this result or that. But, if those results aren't to the extent of winning a presidential election, are they worth it? If they are to the extent of winning a presidential election, I would question whether they are worth it.
For, the alternative to ethical behavior is a morass of uncertainty. Did we choose cleverly? Is the expedient purpose for which we took this action worth the web of deceit into which we have been thrown? Is the unethical process worthy of the principled results we seek? Can we hope to improve a political system which has widely abandoned the principles of liberty by ourselves abandoning those very principles?
Perhaps the LP doesn't exist to give all candidates an equal chance at the nomination. But, if it then exists to give preferential treatment to one candidate, shouldn't those terms of service be stated somewhere in the literature? You may wish to donate to the LP knowing that it is going to screw over candidates who aren't named Harry Browne and benefit him with preferential treatment, but I don't.
Worse, it may be a violation of Federal Election law for the resources of the national party to be put preferentially at the disposal of one candidate for the nomination and not others. Not that I care a fig for Federal laws of any stripe, but if the LP is to continue to exist, shouldn't those with official roles within the LP consider those laws? Wouldn't it be just dandy for the Republicrats and Demicans and Red Greens if they could prove violations of Federal Election laws on the part of the LP, in the event the LP ever fielded a candidate worth bothering to discredit? Is an LP that cannot run candidates for federal office because it has violated federal election laws worth having around?
Maybe. It may well be that all this emphasis on federal elections is misplaced. Politics is a local phenomenon, and the LP has been most successful in local, regional, and state-wide races. It has not been exceptionally successful in national races.
Perhaps the whole concept of the nation should be examined. Do we really want to continue propagating the myth that the national elections in which we participate are free and fair, that our votes are actually counted, and that the nation called the USA represents in any fashion the interests of the individuals who live within its borders? I wonder.
I certainly don't see my interests served by promoting the LP, promoting the nation-state, promoting the USA, or promoting the mythology behind election politics. I don't believe that any vote I have ever cast in a national election in the USA has ever been counted. I have seen piles of evidence of election fraud, interviewed dozens of election fraudsters, and have seen no evidence to support the contention that elections can be won by ethical means.
So, as far as I'm concerned, the whole effort is wasted. It is a spectacle which, to be worth while, must be undertaken entirely on the Don Quixote tilting-at-windmills basis: one of principled, convincing passion. Nothing less will do. Harry Browne doesn't have what it takes. Neither does Perry Willis. Nor Steve Dasbach.
Reform isn't likely. It may not be possible. And if we could reform the LP, make it worthy of our efforts, dare we imagine that we could reform the election process and the entire Federal edifice? I think these are way beyond reason.
The USA government isn't run by electoral politics as designed. The passion play in November and December 2000 revealed how little the ballots have to do with the count. Vicious little creatures like J. Edgar Hoover have had much more to say about who got to be president during his lifetime than any other voter, and there is no evidence that his sort of extortionate files are no longer kept by the FBI or the rest of the alphabet soup of agencies in Washington.
Someone knows whether TWA flight 800 was shot down, and works for the National Reconnaissance Office. The FLIR video of the Waco massacre is irrelevant compared to the satellite imagery taken from various KeyHole satellites. And while ECHELON database information is available to the decisionmakers in key campaign contributing companies, it is never going to be available to you and me.
So, while you are considering whether the LP can be fixed, I've moved on to consider whether the USA is worth keeping around. Nor am I alone.
The universe is a very big place. Most of it is outside of our control, outside of our view from day to day, and incredibly interesting in comparison to how we're behaving here on Earth.
When I was young and naive, I thought the USA government was making it possible for people to go into space. When I became somewhat more sensible, I realized that the USA government was not making it possible for people to go into space. Later, I realized that the USA government was actively preventing people from getting into Earth orbit. Finally, I came to the conclusion that for people to get into space, the USA government would have to be eliminated.
Frankly, I don't care who runs the LP, or how. I don't care who runs the USA government, or how. I can't get into space while the USA government continues to exist.
So, I must be an enemy of the state. Not just this state or that state, but of all of them. I am opposed to the very concept of a state.
Which means, Dagny, that I can't help you. I can't help fix the LP, because it is about the state. It says it is about fixing the state, and putting ethical people in control of the state. I don't believe it is or does.
But, even if I did, I don't think the state holds the key to our future. Our future is beyond the state, so to get to our future, the future you and I want, where we are free, where we are in charge of our own destinies, and where we can go anywhere and do anything, harming none, agressing against none, and seeing what we please, we must get *beyond* the state.
For those of you who want to find out what the slimeball says for himself, see: http://harrybrowne.org/policy but be prepared for a .pdf, because apparently the universality of HTML is beyond his ken.
Jim Davidson <email@example.com>
do not view too soon after eating, this works better than oil of ipecac: http://www.bradycampaign.org/activism/heston/movie.asp
By all means, lets all join up ... subscribe ... take everything they send you ... and never give them one dime.
Then we too can 'be a part' of an organization whose members say thing like:
[OK, freedom from fear. That should be easily achievable in our lifetimes. Unless, that is, you're afraid of lots of stuff. Then maybe a little longer. - jct]
[You wanna know what horrifies me? That the majority of HCI members
are white males over the age of 50. I am horrified to think that I am
the demographic supporting this neutering, nutless,
eunuchific(!) claptrap! - jct]
John, good sir, did i strike a nerve? :^)
yeah, they (HCI members) are the ones my mother warned me about. she taught me to shoot.
I saw this pass through one of my mailing lists yesterday and remembered one of the many reasons I moved from Chicago to South Dakota in 1999. (Source: http://www.isra.org/nsnews.htm)
"The Chicago Police Department and the Illinois State Police have teamed up to make good on Mayor Daley's pledge that, if it were up to him, nobody would have a gun. Daley and his elite 'CAGE' unit are apparently taking advantage of gun privacy loopholes to pinpoint certain individuals for inclusion in the confiscation program."
I'm darkly amused that Hizzonner Da Mayor actually chose the acronym "CAGE" for a government agency devoted to confiscating weapons from private hands.
I've heard gun owners repeatedly say that the Revolution starts when they start coming for our guns. Anybody want to bet that, while Hizzonner Da Mayor was the first to figure out a way to confiscate them, he won't be the last?
I'll take other bets that most gun owners hand over their guns like good little sheep.
However, purely as an intellectual exercise, imagine for a moment that gun confiscation actually did spark the Second American Revolution.
I would think that, due to the sheer power available to various governments in putting down insurrection, such a war would be an underground guerrilla war.
In that case, it would be necessary from time to time to attempt to foul an enemy's communcations and to confuse him.
For purely research purposes, therefore, I would point those on this list to http://grc.com/dos/grcdos.htm.
It's a fascinating read -- with implications (if you think about it for a minute) of DDoS attacks against, say, mail servers belonging to Chicago government offices ...
Also, an example of unpatched IIS holes can be found at this URL (built from that mentioned in the link above):
Note that clicking this link absolutely will give you a directory listing of the C:\ drive of bermanprinting.com's Web server. That's ALL it will do, but if you find that unsettling, don't click the link. You've been warned.
From the guerrilla warfare perspective, I suggest imagining the implications of replaceing "cmd.exe" with some other command. Perhaps a particular syntax usage of ping.exe ...
It should occur to you after reading the grc.com article that a small text database of a couple hundred unpatched NT/IIS machines on the Internet coupled with a 20-line shell script and a listing of specific government agency mail servers or Web sites could be used to wreak havoc on an agency that does not obeying the Constitution.
(Not that I'm a Constitutionalist particularly. I've occasionally said that I'd SETTLE for a Constitutional America if anyone cared to resurrect it -- though I actually only consider that a first step.)
In addition to these links, one might educate oneself on the judicious use of anonymous remailers and spam.
At present, I mention all this as simply food for thought.
Also, for those who don't have it, my PGP public key is at the tail of this message. Please feel free to add it to your PGP key ring.
I encourage the use of PGP for all communications. You can get the GNU Foundation's free implementation at http://www.gnupg.org. However, on Windows machines, this does not integrate particularly well. Computer Associates (http://www.pgp.com) has a freeware version of their flagship PGP product, however, that integrates wonderfully.[see also http://www.pgpi.org/ -- KLH]
I also encourage the use of Linux for those particularly interested in cryptography and/or underground revolutionary tactics as an intellectual exercise. While presently unimplemented in the major Linux distribution, there are a number of individuals presently at work on transparent cryptographic filesystems for Linux (and other UNIXes).
The availability of a cryptographic filesystem means that files would be encrypted at the filesystem level -- no user intervention required. In the event that some Federal agency staffed by machine-gun-toting, black-clad, armored individuals were to confiscate such a machine, it would be vastly more difficult -- perhaps impossible -- to decrypt the data on it.
William Stone III <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In L Neil Smith's "Application for Employment" he lambasts the newspaper's writer for saying that "the Daily Telegraph does not to support the doctinaire libertarian argument that freedom is the only good". Now, it may well be that few who call themselves libertarian espouse this particular doctrine, but Smith denies that it is a libertarian argument at all, apparently insisting that he is the only one entitled to define Libertarianism because he's written such a lot about it in the past.
Well, I have some news for him. He didn't invent Libertarianism. Nor did the self-styled Libertarian Party. The word has been part of the English language for more than two hundred years. Here are the definitions given in the OED:
It is clear that the Daily Telegraph's use of the word was entirely consistent with this long-standing usage, as of course is L Neil Smith's own version. However, it is quite illegitimate (and, dare I say, downright anti-libertarian) to proclaim that "no one is a libertarian who does not conform to my definition". At most, one might say that "no one is my sort of libertarian who does not conform to my definition". To which all the other libertarians (many of whom might have nothing whatsoever to do with any libertarian "movement") might reply, "Tough!"
In my experience, very few people who call themselves libertarian actually do believe in the "Non-Aggression Principle". It's a useful rule-of-thumb, but if you push it too hard you can only shore it up by weaselling out of the plain meaning of the words (like the Feds and the US Constitution!). "No one," says L Neil Smith, "has a right to initiate force against another human being for any reason". Even he doesn't believe that, I'm convinced, however much he may protest to the contrary. To forcibly restrain your two-year-old daughter from toddling into the path of an oncoming bus IS "to initiate force against another human being". Your reason -- a very good reason -- is to protect her from harm, ie., for her own good.
If Libertarianism is to be worth anything surely we should allow people to strive after Liberty in their own way, without trying to force Her into a Procrustean bed.
Paul Birch <Paul@PaulBirch.net>
Thought I'd share my feelings about Kate Graham,the Grand Dame of Publishing, recently departed. Having been a lifer here in the D.C. area, I have a unique take on the progressive former publisher of the Washington Post.
Back in the 50's and the first years of the 60's, the Post was the go-to paper for accurate non-partisan news gathering and reporting. Katherine Graham changed all that. Described by her close friends (Senator Holmes-Norton among them) as "progressive", she injected her personal politics into the news process. She created the new function of a "free" press, that of limiting freedoms she felt were inconvenient or a threat to society.
She openly took the stand against the Second Amendment by backing the Gun Control Act of 1968 when riots occurred in major cities across the country after Dr. King's tragic assassination, but paradoxically lobbied for D.C. home rule. She stole Patrick Henry's phrase "taxation without representation (is tyranny)". Home rule advocates still abuse it to this day.
She reported every difficulty NASA ever had with the Gemini and Apollo missions, yet gave her savvy readers no ideas of the benefits that space exploration gave them. She spent her weekends in parties and meetings with other publishing moguls, clicking her tongue about social injustices she felt her paper could correct by manipulating public opinion, on a level not seen since the passing of William Randolph Hearst.
She passed an unseeing eye over abuses by liberals, zeroing instead on Nixon, and his much over reported "break-in".
Who could forget the pathetic reporting on Ted Kennedy and his crash at Chappaquittic? Almost as bad as the job they did with Clinton in the last months of the 20th century.
The TV and Radio are full of the fruits of Kate Graham's diligent work, slanted yellow journalism, agenda based reporting, tabloid style ignorance of facts and data, and the lessons of history again forgotten. Remember Ms. Graham's legacy, the rapine of liberties for societies' own good, lest history repeat itself, yet again.
Jack Jerome <email@example.com>