Sunday, July 31, 2005

Blog News

There are two great new blogs by LP State Chairs, Indiana's Mark Rutherford and NC's own Thomas Hill. Rutherford's is an especially welcome entry. They are acting like a real political party up there, and Mark's blog puts their success stories on display. I know I'll be stealing plenty of material from that source. Thomas' blog has plenty of political opinion with a heavy dose of rallying the local troops. It's nice to see some more purely positive examples of LP news and commentary in the blogosphere.

Not to take anything away from anyone else. If you actually go over to Greg Dirasian's Small Government blog you'll find his arguments and experience laid out in a more reasonable fashion that the blog comment literary form generally allows.

This blog of mine is restricted to news and analysis about the Libertarian Party and Liberty For All, which is still my main electronic gig. That leaves all of my general political musings for my personal blog Genus Haha. If you really want to get to know me and where I am coming from politically, you are invited!

And finally, Tim West of Liberty For Sale keeps making noise about going to Kansas City for the next LNC meeting. If he is able to make it, I'm really looking forward to the possibilities. The whole reason why I do this is so an informed membership can better run their own party. If we start getting more press at these meetings, that will take this service to the membership to a whole new level.

Now I feel like I am slighting all the other boffo Libertarian blogs which have simply been consistently excellent lately. If there's one you know about which is not in the links column, please bring it to my attention. Thanks.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Administration Adopts Libertarian Exit Strategy

Looks like the plan worked! Donald Rumsfeld spoke today about pulling US troops out of Iraq at a fast pace starting next spring. All that's left to do he says is to finish training Iraqi security forces. This is dependent on the insurgency not expanding any further.

So, where have we heard this plan before? From the Libertarian Party! Let's rush to take credit!

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Folks, looks like I'll have to do some serious fundraising if I'm going to make it to Kansas City next week. My car has lost 5th gear and I'll have to buy a new one for such a long trip (the repair is worth far more than the car itself). I have some money now, but that was set aside for the KC trip expenses. As an added incentive, I am the guy who gives Lee Wrights a ride to LNC meetings, so if you want the membership represented at the table please help out.

Sorry I'm not set up for credit cards, but I do take checks and good ol' cash. Please send your donations to:

Sean Haugh
1821 Hillandale Rd #1B-332
Durham NC 27705

or call me at 919-286-0152 if you have any questions. If you are sending something, please drop me a line to let me know. Thanks!

It's your generous support that allows me to perform this service for the membership. Whether you have given to my LNC Meeting Report fund before or not, I could use your help now more than ever. (I always have to work that last phrase into a fundraising appeal, haha.)

Also, if you live near Durham NC and have a car to sell, I'd be interested in hearing from you too. Thanks.

Monday, July 25, 2005

There is No Other

New at LFA this weekend...

"The first problem comes when we think of anybody else as the other. The first thought should be that they are human, just like us, and so probably driven by the same human needs and desires that also motivate us. As soon as we see people as being, first and foremost, something other than ourselves, we are able to treat them as less than a human being."

Also check out Richard Evey's front page essay on Real Heroes.

Joe Seehusen's legacy

I just posted this as a comment to the previous post, but after writing it I'd like to give my thoughts a little more prominence.

The legacy Joe Seehusen leaves us is that under his watch, the LP finally engaged the public policy debate in Washington DC. The importance of this cannot be understated. The purpose of a political party is to change public policy, and Joe was the first guy we ever hired who truly got it.

The number one criterion we need to look at when hiring his replacement is to continue the outreach programs he and his staff instituted.

In the long view of history, no one is ever going to remember databases or website redesigns or any other internal mechanics. What is going to be remembered is whether or not the basic purpose of the organization was advanced. On that score, Joe can leave the scene assured in the knowledge of a job well done.

I have also gotten to know Joe as a person, and he really is a beautiful human being. He is always upbeat, to the point where I've never caught him saying a bad word about anybody. He has engaged others around him with love and joy in his heart for both the cause of Liberty and his fellows. His attitude has served us very well. I wish him well in all his future endeavors, and for our sake I hope they remain within the Libertarian movement.

Joe Seehusen Resigns

August 25, 2005

To: Michael Dixon, Chair
Michael Colley, Chair, Employment Committee
CC: State Chairs
CC: HQ Staff

I am resigning my position as Executive Director of the Libertarian National Committee, Inc. My last day will be Friday August 5, 2005. I am appreciative of the confidence the board has shown in my work by its 11 to 3 vote at the Dallas 2005 board meeting to renew my contract. Thank you. I am honored to have served the board and to have played a leadership role in the parties turnaround. Under my administration the LNC has:

1. Gone from financial insolvency to solvency
2. Made UMP payments on time and in full
3. Increased membership after four years of decline
4. Built a powerhouse web site which has eclipsed both the Republican and Democratic parties as measured by web traffic
5. Entered the arena of legislative action at the national level
6. Significantly lowered overall costs including payroll and vendors
7. Issued a major position paper offering the American people a viable exit strategy for the war in Iraq
8. Rebuilt the back office in accounting and database
9. Personally raised significant donations to the party from major donors as Executive Director
10. Developed an outreach program including CPAC, Freedom Fest, Heritage Resource Bank and National Taxpayers Union
11. Successfully promoted the Libertarian brand in political and activist circles in Washington
12. Raised the overall profile of the Libertarian Party to represent a credible alternative to the Republican and Democratic Parties

Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas and former Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate) said “Joe Seehusen has raised the visibility of the Party on Capitol Hill, where voices for liberty are in short supply.”

My thanks go to the champions on my staff, who are the people that stand tall and do the work, namely Robert Kraus, Jessica Neno Wilson, Shane Cory, Sam New, J. Daniel Cloud, Chris Thorman, Matt Dailey, Gladis Douwopka, Susan Dickson and Rod Severson.

My thanks also goes to the LNC members, past and present, for their thoughtful leadership in moving this party forward namely; Michael Colley, George Squyres, Bob Sullentrup, Ken Bisson, Emily Salvette, Austin Hough, Rick McGinnis, Jeremy Keil, Chris Farris, Bill Hall and Ed Hoch.

And special thanks to former Chair, Geoff Neale, for the role he played as the chief architect of the party’s turnaround.

With Best Regards,
Joe Seehusen
Executive Director
Libertarian National Committee, Inc.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

LNC Executive Committee Meeting 7/21/05

I was not able to attend this conference call since I was busy doing real politics that evening. However I do have the minutes and have been able to speak to a couple LNC members who were in attendance.

The highlight was a resolution which praised staff for their work on fixing our database since their last meeting. The original motion, submitted by At-large Representative Mark Rutherford, rescinded the freeze on salaries and on working on anything else until the database work was complete. However an amendment offered by Region 2 Representative Aaron Starr deleted that part, keeping the freeze in place. The amendment passed 6-1, with Rutherford casting the sole opposing vote. The amended motion then passed 5-1-1, with Treasurer Mark Nelson opposed and At-large Representative BetteRose Ryan abstaining.

In other matters, Chair Michael Dixon informed the committee that Communications Director Shane Cory is one to two weeks away from issuing the next white paper, this one giving our plan for ending the war on terror. While I have not seen a draft, what I have heard about it leads me to believe that this salvo will be deemed far more acceptable to those who were critical of the Iraq Exit Strategy.

Nelson reported he is still having trouble getting accurate information from staff about payables and receivables. He and Starr will work together to clarify their precise needs. In my opinion, it is good to see the opponents for the Treasurer position last year now working together for a common cause. This speaks well for both men, as they are obviously placing the needs of the party as they perceive them first.

Nelson also noted a drop off in pledge and direct solicitations and requested feedback from staff to explain it. Executive Director Joe Seehusen should come to the next LNC meeting in two weeks in Kansas City prepared with this information. I have heard plenty of speculation as to why this might be happening, but to date I have seen no actual evidence whatsoever that would move any of these hypotheses out of the realm of pure speculation.

At-large Representative Michael Colley reported that the office move is proceeding "excruciatingly but positively." Apparently there are still some issues regarding previous renovations of the new space that are not up to code, and who is responsible for fixing them.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Support Don Meinshausen

Readers of LFA may be aware that one of our writers (and a friend of mine of over 20 years) Don Meinshausen recently began a 46 month sentence in federal pen for selling ecstasy. We're hoping to continue publishing his work while he's in prison, even if I have to transcribe his handwritten notes (which I have done before back in the days of FreFanZine). (Mostly I just mention this so old FreF members can find me on google.)

Anyway, thanks to Tom Knapp we have an address for Don. The rest is cut and pasted from Tom's blog.

correspondence for libertarian POW Don Meinshausen should still be sent to:

Don Meinshausen
Inmate number 08496-050
PO Box 7000
Ft Dix NJ 08640

while money orders for libertarian POW Don Meinshausen can be sent to:

Lockbox, Federal Bureau of Prisons
Don Meinshausen, Inmate Register number 08496-050
PO BOX 474701
Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001

Money for federal prisoners has to be sent in the form of a money order or money gram. No personal checks, and there doesn't seem to be any direct electronic payment mechanism.

Happy Bastille Day!

Today is a great celebration of freedom! Not just for the French, but for everyone!

The spirit of storming the Bastille lives now more than ever. Today we call it the people power revolution. The storming of the Bastille is a reminder that an angry mob armed with nothing more than pots, pans and maybe a few pitchforks can not only cause governments to fall, it works more often than not.

Just in 2005 alone, four governments have fallen because the people stormed their Bastille. Ukraine, Kyrgyzistan, Lebanon and Bolivia are all freer today because the spirit of the French Revolution lives. Whether they can retain and expand upon their new freedom for a time or will simply fall into the arms of the next despot that comes along (as did happen in France) remains to be seen. They need our prayers and support today.

So, when are we going to storm our own Bastille?

Sunday, July 10, 2005

New Issue at LFA

The latest issue of Liberty For All is up. Always nice to see my smiling face of the front page. :-) But there's lots of other great stuff up there too, so check it out.

Questions raised by the Exit Strategy

I have received a fair amount of email in response to my view (see below) on the LP's Iraq Exit Strategy. And I have to admit, my support of it is cautious at best. Mostly my motive is to give a vote of confidence to our staff, who overall is doing an excellent job spreading the Libertarian message and who truly do mean well. Even if I eventually decide I can't go with this, I'd still couch my criticism in the recognition that they're at least trying instead of outrage over their alleged lack of principle. As we like to say here in NC, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

The document is unlike anything that has ever been issued by the LP office before, and raises a lot of questions about our outreach which I would like to throw open to all assembled. I'm not sure about any of the answers.

Does every policy suggestion made by the LP have to be perfectly in agreement with our platform? Or is it OK for our staff to advocate any plan that moves in the direction of Liberty even if it doesn't conform with the platform?

Should such major policy pronouncements have the prior approval of the Chair and/or the LNC? Or is it OK for staff to do this work on their own?

Does every document we issue have to give a holographic view of the party, that is, must it be something that fully explains the Libertarian view and allow the intelligent reader to see or at least easily deduce our principles from it? Or is it OK to advocate plans that simply move in the right direction without putting our principles front and center?

Is it wise to engage DC policymakers on their terms, using their language? Or are we better off if we only address policy on our terms, insisting on our own language?

Of course, the question of whether or not this plan actually does advance Liberty remains a legitimate one too.

Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

I Am Free

We seem to have forgotten an essential aspect of our freedom. We speak of freedoms lost or gained. We fear for how much we will be able to leave for our children. We keep agitating for more freedom and protest our governments when they try to take it away from us.

It is right that we do so. These are important concerns and necessary actions. But they ignore the most essential aspect of our freedom, and losing that would be the greatest shame of all.

Freedom is not something we petition governments to receive. Freedom is our birthright. You have your freedom simply because you are. Freedom is our natural state and we always retain possession of it.

I am free. I don’t care what anybody else says. I was born free, I am free, and I will die free. I am free right now, and the next time somebody asks, I’ll be free then too.

All life is choice. Yes, there are many authorities in your life telling you what they want you to do. Many of them are loving and wise and quite often it would be in your best interests to listen to them. Most appear to be much larger and more powerful than ourselves, whether they be parents, churches, governments, whatever.

But you always are the one who must decide who or what to follow, and who or what to reject. You must choose. No one else can choose for you.

Everyone must use whatever resources they can muster, physical, mental and spiritual, to enable their own choices. Each individual has to do it on their own. They often ask for help, and help given and received is a beautiful thing. But no matter how involved others become in your life, it is still your life.

We are all free, each one of us, all the time.

The music of the civil rights era provides a great lesson. The voices of that black gospel are so strong, so sure of themselves, so joyous. I had to ask myself, how can they be so darn happy when they are singing about being attacked by dogs and water hoses and then thrown into Birmingham jail? It’s because they never forgot the most essential aspect of freedom. I am free!

What do we say today to those who would oppress us and keep us separate? What do we tell them about our freedom?

What do we say about the Supreme Court telling us that anybody can get your local government to take your home for any reason they fancy? We say that my property is mine. If I own something it’s because I earned it, I paid the price for it, and I’m not inclined to just give it to you. That’s your greater social good right there. I am free.

What do we say about every level of government always wanting to increase our taxes? We say that it’s my money. I earned it, and I will decide what I will spend my money on, thank you very much. If you have something worthwhile to offer I’ll be happy to buy it from you, but it’s still my money. I am free.

What do we say about the national ID card? We say, I am not a number, I am a free man. I will do what I please and go where I want to go. I really don’t want anyone cataloging my every move, especially not you. I am free.

What do we say about all these wars fought in our name? We say this is not my war. The Iraqi people or the Afghani people or the Iranian people or any other people I can think of have never done anything to me. I love my country because of its freedom, not because it’s the biggest bully on the planet. I am an American and I am free.

We weren’t put on this planet to fight each other. Those who would oppress us, those who have this mistaken notion that somehow they can limit or take away our freedom, have to keep us separate to succeed. They need us fighting each other, whether its Americans and Iraqis, or blacks and whites, or citizens and immigrants, or men and women or whatever.

We were put on this planet to be free. When we take possession of our own freedom, we understand and accept that this is the birthright of every human being, to be free just like me. When we assert our freedom, we command respect. The more people there are in this world claiming their freedom, the more obvious it becomes that in order to get my freedom, I have to let you be free too.

We weren’t put on this planet separately. We were brought here together. We arrived here free. We do not have to fight anyone for our freedom. We just need to accept the gift.

As the old gospel song says, I am on my way to Freedom Land. There is nothing you can do to stop me. Your slavery won’t stop me, your dogs and water hoses, your profiling, your SWAT teams busting down my door, your eminent domain, your taxes, your jail, none of that will stop me. I am free.

Nothing can stop a free people. Over and over we see governments fall just because the people filled the streets and said they have had enough. Just in the first half of this year alone we have witnessed three people power revolutions in Asia and seen a government collapse in South America. All because the people chose something other than what the government was offering them. All because they had the guts to proclaim that they were free.

So yes, let’s protest and petition and negotiate with all those who would force their choices upon us. But know this, the very thing they fear the most is your freedom, and they cannot take it away from you. They know that nothing can stop a free people.

Human progress only happens when we are free. Free to produce, free to create, free to make our dreams reality. Everyone already know this. And yet, we seem to be on the verge of forgetting it.

A free people begins with one woman or one man. You. Me. I say we proclaim our birthright of freedom and move forward together. Don’t forget your freedom, don’t feel like you have to go get it from something or someone else. It is time to remind those who think they can grant or withhold our freedom that they are mistaken, for we have retained all of our freedom all along.

I am free.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Schism in Movimiento Libertario

Like many US Libertarians, I have been a huge fan of Movimiento Libertario (ML). They basically took all the positive lessons of the US Libertarian Party (LP), stripped away the ideological shoegazing, set themselves to the real work of politics and elected real live Libertarians to their national assembly.

Now comes sad news of a schism over the latest slate of candidates. So far I've only been able to find the opinion of one side of this dispute, so reasonable conclusions are hard to come by. It seems that the faction led by Otto Guevarra was narrowly successful in recruiting and nominating candidates that in one estimation are "only 70% Libertarian" and in another are simply politicians of all ideologies who simply wish to avoid the taint of corruption that other party labels carry in Costa Rica.

The blog of Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey has the most complete news on this I could find. Apparently she is in regular contact with many of the folks involved. There you can also find further illumination on the statements of Jorge Cordina and Ricardo Mendez, and much more material if you can read Spanish.

Without knowing much more, I can still relate much of this to our own experience. The struggle between so-called "pragmatists" and "purists" is endemic to any movement. The crying shame of this is that the conflict is unnecessary. It is most practical to stick to your guns, or as we say in NC, you dance with what brung you. The fact that we have principles is precisely what makes us appealing to voters, and we must maintain them in order to set ourselves apart from our opponents and give voters a reason to switch from more popular parties to our side. If we want to actually bring about real Libertarian solutions, it is self defeating to stop talking about them.

And yet it seems to be human nature that the greatest temptation to sell out to "real world libertarianism" or whatever it is called today comes just at the point where you are beginning to taste success. The danger of losing one's way is greatest at this point. Sorry folks, but success on our terms takes hard work and perseverance, and some apparent short cut to success not on our terms is no success at all.

And yet we must make choices. As I said two posts below, there are times when we have to stand with non-Libertarians. These situations need to be well defined. It is always right to support anyone while they are doing the right thing, but it is always a bad idea to unquestionably support someone just because sometimes they do right. We have to draw the lines when we select our candidates. Obviously, you don't have to be in 100% ideological lockstep with the Platform or the collected wisdom of Murray Rothbard or some other detailed litmus test to be a great Libertarian candidate. You can even disagree on some relatively major points, as long as you run on Libertarian issues. So the debate within ML seems natural on the surface.

But we have received plenty of comeuppance when we have been overeager to embrace non-Libertarians as our own. I personally supported a Republican candidate for Congress in 2004 who I thought was one of those 70% Libertarians, but he turned out to be just another hard right Christian conservative in his campaigning. I still am honored to know the guy, and he does have a lot of Liberty in his heart for sure, but backing him was a mistake I won't repeat.

I have found I am much happier when non-Libertarian candidates come crawling to me hat in hand for our help, while trying to latch onto a non-Libertarian candidate in a quest for relevance only leads to not respecting yourself in the morning.

Opening up our process so that people can run as Libertarians from a variety of views is healthy for the party. Opening it up so much that people who couldn't reasonably be described as Libertarians can claim our banner is doom. From the reports I've read, it appears that ML has chosen the later course.

I'll also point out from our own experience that schism is not necessarily a bad thing. It all depends on whether Liberty burns enough in your heart that you will not give up, no matter what comes. The largest schism in the LP was when a bunch of so-called pragmatists left and founded CATO Institute, which is clearly one of the greatest things that ever happened to the American Libertarian movement. I thank God for that schism every time I think about it. I would urge the losers in ML's fight to look to CATO's example and find a way to keep expressing their view in Costa Rican public policy.

All is not lost for ML either. This is but one event, one swing of the pendulum, and that by a narrow vote. The party is not over, it never is unless you let it die. I have provided a blueprint for taking back your party in my article When State Parties Attack. I would urge people who want to keep ML truly Libertarian to keep their memberships and not give up. This is but one battle.

Freedom Rocks July 4th

In my other life I am a volunteer DJ at WXDU in Durham. As the calendar would have it, I am playing the first full show on WXDU on Monday July 4th, 2-5am EDT. Click on the link to listen over the web. Three hours of freedom songs from all over, but mostly rockin'. I mean, you just can't stay still when you are singing about freedom. I'll try to post the set list in real time on my personal blog.

LP: Iraq Exit Strategy

The link in the title will take you to an Adobe (.pdf) file which is the LP's Iraq Exit Strategy. It works for me on two levels, both as a serious public policy suggestion and as a sign of the current activities of the national office.

In short, the position paper begins with the premise that American troops have accomplished the main objectives of the war. Iraq is well on its way to becoming a stable and secure country. Our troops should be withdrawn from Iraq over the course of a year and deployed in the Middle East, at home, or wherever the ruling neocons want to be strong in the War on Terror. Some significant amount of foreign aid should be sent specifically for rebuilding infrastructure.

That's basically it. The rest is evidence and detail to make their case. What you don't see in there is too much Libertarian chest beating over ideology. This document is written solely as a practical suggestion.

The reason why it works for me is that this is an external document, not an internal one. The target audience is not other Libertarians. It is a direct message to the President, Congress and those actually running the war, and by extension, to the opinion makers of Washington DC.

We're trying to give them the graceful out. It is not a purely Libertarian solution, but it is one the current administration could undertake right now and save face. It's a step in the right direction that could start right now.

There is one aspect of the proposal that rubs me the wrong way as a Libertarian. I don't like moving US troops from one occupation to another. I want them all home yesterday. And in other places the national party does need to speak to this eventual goal of the United States having a true national defense, instead of the international offense we have practiced since World War II.

Interestingly enough, when I served on the now decommissioned Advertising and Publications Review Committee (APRC), we ruled on this very point. The national party had issued a press release for the Badnarik campiagn where he was quoted as supporting pulling back US troops in Iraq to other Middle Eastern countries. We found that this was in direct violation of the platform and asked that they don't say that again. If the APRC still existed and I was still a member, I'd feel duty bound to reach the same conclusion.

This raises the question of whether the national party is bound to the specifics of the platform in every public statement. I've obviously already given them a pass on that one. It's causing me to think that we need to allow ourselves some flexibility. We need to promote the principled stands enshrined in our platform, no doubt. But we also need to be able to offer practical solutions that move us in the direction of Liberty.

I'm willing to put this document in a context that our staff's continuing public policy initiatives will provide. If they do as good a job of promoting our principles and our goals as they have with this effort, I'll be happy.

If Libertarians are to be political players in DC, we have to be willing to be seen in public with non-Libertarians. Here in NC for example, when we see one of our Congressmen, Walter Jones, standing next to Ron Paul calling for an exit strategy, I say we have to stand next to him. Jones is a true conservative, so sure he takes some stands we couldn't support, but where conservatives and Libertarians agree he is strong. I have to tell you, and I'm not ashamed to admit it, when I saw Jones as one of only four Congressmen who had the guts to say what they said, it made me proud.

My genius wife Pam immediately grasped an essential point about the current debate. She noted that the Republicans were all over Clinton for an exit strategy out of Bosnia, so why is it so darn unpatriotic to have one now?

Ron Paul and Walter Jones put the issue on the table. Now the Libertarian Party has offered a detailed plan. If you've wanted the LP to make themselves politically relevant, here's your chance.

I'm signing in support. Feel free to join me.