Very interesting times for fomenting greater peace and freedom, have indeed emerged by the middle of 2018, as shown by the holding of history making summits between the US and North Korea, or further post-Brexit rattlings as more European nations like Italy try to shake the off the chains of EU eurocratic bondage. Even a few of the Supreme Court’s left-authoritarian Justices (part of the cabal I previously christened the Devil’s favorite demons) have just rendered a decision deeming Christian bakers worthy of not being treated with hostility, by granting that they may not be forced to decorate their cultural enemy’s cakes. And the specter of 4% economic growth nationally appears to be the direct result of recent tax and regulation reductions, largely releasing the economy from choke holds that were holding back the free market.
The LP’s Sharpe Turn
But the nicest trend by far has been the rise in prominence of more black commentators, candidates and public figures who are either putting forth a flatly pro-liberty message, or who have otherwise broken the bonds of neo-slavery enough to speak their minds irrespective of the caste system set up by US major party politics. For example, I am pleased to state that as of last month, I am now no longer the only African-American Libertarian to have run for Governor or US Senator in New York state. Business consultant, entrepreneur and activist Larry Sharpe (who previously contested for the LP nomination for Vice President in 2016, losing to William Weld) was nominated for Governor by LPNY at its April convention. He is an entirely sound mainstream LP candidate and official (having served on the party’s National Committee), and is informally considered one of the LP’s national superstars as of this cycle.
More importantly, Sharpe has demonstrated some of the rarest of Libertarian gifts—the ability to raise serious money (his early fundraising reached six figures by early February, which is unprecedented for a LPNY candidate), to build a real staff (45 or more, as of this writing), and to commit to circumventing the usual major media blackout by doing numerous local news interviews and funding his own polls, to ensure his name is mentioned in the survey results. In short, he’s demonstrating he’s a somewhat “next generation” LP politician who is aware of the traditional obstacles to third party success, and has shown a willingness to execute effective solutions to (perhaps) overcome them:
In my conversations with the candidate, Sharpe comes across as super lucid, clear-minded, articulate, and oh well, sharp, meaning he’s one of the best candidates we’ve ever backed for office. Sharpe is quixotically aiming to win, but his immediate goal (as usual for Libertarians in this state) is to secure regular or permanent ballot status for the LP, by getting at least 50,000 votes in November (the number required by the state’s election law). The latter is quite doable, but I advise caution in light of the LP’s failing track record in NY to date. Having over $100,000 to work with may make achieving permanent ballot status easier than ever, but it may take half a million to guarantee the result. While having dozens of staffers is a breakthrough, is that enough organization to get 50,000 votes?
When I once talked to the late Roy Innis (the founder of CORE) about possibly running for Governor for the LP back in the 2000s, he replied he was open to it if the party could supply him with 500 activists across the state. Gulp! Perhaps that’s more than what’s really needed to secure ballot access, but the point remains the logistical expectations of regular politicians about what is required to win (at whatever level) usually exceeds what the LP can muster at this point. Can the party succeed in NY this time, given the promise of the Sharpe campaign? We’ll see what happens.
On the Congressional side, Aaron Commey was nominated by LPNY for US Senate. Mr. Commey has previously distinguished himself by running as the LP candidate for NYC Mayor in 2017. Commey has overcome many personal obstacles and trials (including running up against the excessively punitive criminal “just us” system) to become a speaker and leader for liberty. He is principally running on the prisoner rights initiative (restoring their voting rights) and other aspects of justice system reform. Candidates like Sharpe and Commey have found the Libertarian party to be a much sounder vehicle to promote such reforms than trying to do so from either the Democratic plantation (who simply use the issue to demonize cops, or even whites in general, for election purposes), or the Republican ‘tent’ universe (who use the issue to demonize the left, or even minorities in general, for election purposes).
Only libertarians reliably stick to the civil liberties core substance of the matter, and so avoid the deliberately divisive demagoguery that attends addressing the prison industrial complex problem. We need more liberty people in office like Commey who will seek to solve these problems as well as to restore more rights and liberties, instead of thinking the answer is to cynically lock more people up (over less and less, for longer and longer), to thereby “look strong” and win more elections. In that light, I heartily endorse both Sharpe and Commey this November.
In fact, the current President’s penchant for closure, to actually seek to solve problems, is likely what has contributed to a crop of black public figures and celebrities electing to speak out in a non-herd mind way. Say what you will about the strange “dragon energy” alpha drive bonding the hip hop mogul Kanye West to the Donald, but the rapper has noticed that more can be achieved starting from a stance focused on individual rights or responsibility, than from racial finger pointing. West has described former President Barack Obama as the “opioids” of the black community on the TMZ show, who “made us feel like everything was good,” even although he accomplished virtually nothing. In addition to apologizing to GW Bush for his 2005 comment that “Bush doesn’t like black people,” and outright praising rising black conservative stars like Candace Owens, Kanye even suggested that “slavery was a choice” for blacks in American history (well, maybe he jumped the shark on that one).
The connecting tissue behind all these utterances is Kanye’s definite move away from the race-obsessed or race-centric rhetoric that so dominates the ‘hack-black’ Democratic group think. While remaining black conscious, West is repudiating the collectivism and statism glued to it for decades by the white privileged, slave master controllers of the Democratic narrative. West instead wonders why it took Trump, of all people, not Obama, to reduce record black unemployment, why he himself built up a net worth of $141 million if there’s so much white privilege stopping him, etc., etc. This has caused West to now embrace working with whomever it is who is in power on issues where there is agreement, in order to make tangible progress on those fronts, over and above playing race-baiting games. This embrace extends to Kanye committing the ultimate heresy—wearing the red Make America Great Again, or MAGA cap in public!
This new emphasis on relying more on individuals of whatever stripe to get things done, and less upon the next election, immediately put Kanye in the doghouse with all the usual suspects, who trotted out the one-trick pony vicious tactic of weaponizing the entire social media matrix of modern culture to “de-platform” or bankrupt him, beginning with advocating the boycotting of his latest CD and other ventures. Unfortunately for the PC crowd, that trick only works when the target is still dependent on such monetization to support their livelihood or ability to get their message out—whereas West is already too wealthy to be neutered by such attacks. Sales of his new CD Ye have in fact gone through the roof, with all the tracks on it becoming Top 40 hits, thereby earning him his eighth consecutive number one album on the Billboard 200. Black comedians like Kevin Hart have likewise recently survived attacks (by professional Trump-bashers like Kathy Griffin) shaming him for not joining in on the bashing. Horrors. How dare these black entertainers not choose to be openly political, and in exactly the race-mongering way their white masters demand?
It’s not as if Kanye has changed his party enrollment (he actually still speculates about running for the White House himself come 2024, as a Democrat), but it’s simply a matter that he’s more interested in actually working on issues, than in wholesale bashing people on the other side. “Black people have a tendency to focus and march when a white person kills a black person or wears a hat, but when it’s 700 kids being killed in Chicago it’s O.K….There’s been more focus and more marches about whites killing blacks than kids in Chicago killing each other,” West stated to TMZ. “Ninety percent of black people being killed are killed by other blacks.” This short-circuits the elite’s constant divide and conquer approach of getting folks worked up about demonizing each other on partisan (or racial) lines, to such a degree that neither side notices that no progress has been made. Other black Democrats who have a true progressive’s “issues first” mentality understand this, such as Van Jones, who below explains why he is now also working with Trump (via Jared Kushner) on prison reform:
In a nutshell, individualism-centered activism works to tackle issues better than demonizing. This kind of wall-breaking collaboration is both pro-liberty, and progressive, and appears to be the wave of the future, given the failure of the establishment to produce results for African-Americans. In terms of the emerging black liberty as just described, the stats are in: 93% of blacks voted for Obama in 2012, but only 88% voted for Clinton in 2016. That shows at least 6% woke up in 4 years. Progress is possible. The old Obama model of “whatever makes me look good, and the black base vote feel good, even if nothing is achieved” is giving way to a “let’s get somewhere on this or that front, no matter who gets the credit” mindset. A prime example of how the old model held up progress comes from the experiences of NBA great Dennis Rodman, who did a revealing interview about how he learned the North Korea (NK) President was interested in possibly denuclearizing his impoverished regime five years ago, yet the Obama administration didn’t give him the time of day when he tried to bring this to their attention. Trump, however, did pay heed, even if the messenger was a lowly basketball star. You’ll notice Rodman now also bares the dreaded MAGA cap:
Rodman’s tearful recollections of being forced to “hide out” due to the horrendous media treatment (and death threats) he received shows how dangerous their marginalization or de-platforming campaigns can be. Otto Warmbier, among other prisoners, might still be alive today (or released sooner) if the prior POTUS had acted on Rodman’s lead, so as to warm up relations with Kim Jong Un earlier on. Instead, Obama decided to “look strong” by continuing the confrontational stance toward all nations not under the orbit of the US global empire, to keep the swamp establishment’s war party happy.
Instead of breaking with the Bush era loony neo-con, no-diplomacy-ever approach to NK, Obama’s obsession with optics led to him doubling down on it, despite occasional lip service given to talks. He likewise succumbed to Hillary’s push to war with Libya, in violation of the security deal the US had made with Muammar Gaddafi years earlier. I would define this optics-driven, militarism first stance as the mark of a WEAK leader, leading a screwed up government. Misusing our military and breaking US promises is weakness. Obama went after Libya to make himself “look strong” for the 2012 elections. The result was Benghazi, arms flowing to ISIS, and yet another Mideast quagmire.
Yet this is the kind of pro-Empire, 24/7 pro-meddling environment anti-war liberty people have to navigate in, in order to somehow move things in a non, or at least less interventionist direction. It accounts for Obama’s caving in to the war party, Rand Paul’s (at times brilliant) attempts to verbally finesse foreign policy during his Presidential run, and it explains Trump’s half-neocon, half-not cross-signaling. As I wrote last time, Trump “puts out conflicting statements and short-term gestures to please both the anti-war and pro-war side alike, while planning to pull out of most of the conflicts long term nonetheless. This creates a very frustrating present, but holds out a hopeful future where he turns around to match his campaign rhetoric with policy.” Umm, something tells me the progress made with the NK negotiations confirms this perspective exactly. As with other issues, Trump is pursuing closure to the NK nuke issue, and not perpetuate an endless ceasefire to a Korean conflict that should have been finally put to bed decades ago. Trump risked having the current negotiation efforts fall on its face, to get to that historic handshake moment with Kim on June 12. But he got it!
The war hawk John Boltons of the world were never in support of this effort, as they like the status quo, which gives them their pretext for advocating an ongoing military dominating presence in the region. But because Trump brilliantly brought people like Bolton into the administration at just this moment, they are compelled to be onboard, and have skin the game. The war party will want to know if they can take credit for a successful ‘denuclearization’ deal, so Trump is giving them that. But Kim also wants to know whether the US assurances and promises contained in this deal will outlast the Trump years. That’s what’s behind “the Libyan model” issue. Gaddafi ended his nuke program under GW Bush in exchange for security guarantees. Then under Obama, war hawk Hillary talked him into bombing Libya anyway, leading to Gaddafi’s savage demise. That is the albatross Obama has put around future Administration’s necks. Trump can make all the assurances he wants, and (maybe) can be trusted, but why should the other nation enter a deal, knowing the next POTUS might freely chuck it? For all they know, the US may snap the sanctions right back, singing the “we got the whole world, in our hands” hymn of military self-deification.
The Kim-Trump handshake sets a precedent for resolving a long standing conflict and attaining peace in our time, subject to the President getting Congress to certify a final deal through legislation. That would assure NK that the accord will hold up after the Trump era is over. But wait, say the war hawks, what will become of our talking points demonizing that government, or the basis for our retaining over 30,000 troops at the DMZ? Well, perhaps after 65 years, the US shouldn’t still be in the Korean region or hemisphere, with our provocative war games and troop presence. Time to bring the boys home, and to stop supporting massive big government (in the form of a military global empire) while pretending that’s “conservative.” Let’s support Pacific Peace instead, and applaud a President who finally risked “looking weak” to get it. That will be an awfully big achievement, for something that got started off a tip from a celebrity ball player.
The political progress is looking so good with celebrities, why stop with Kanye, when his just as famous wife is available? One of the queens of self-promotion herself, Kim Kardashian, has actually dropped by the White House to make an appeal to Trump to advance the cause of prison sentencing reform, and in particular to get a commutation arranged for Alice Marie Johnson, a great-grandmother who was serving a sentence over drug charges. Kim should have put in a word for decriminalizing drugs altogether, the major engine behind most of the excess sentencing going on. But the key point is a so-called bimbo celeb is driving a conversation that should be led by legislators, but hasn’t been, because of partisan politics. Both major parties benefit from the War on Drugs, either because it makes pols look “tough on crime,” or because they are flat out receiving donations from the prison lobby, or both. In this atmosphere, it takes a ‘brainless’ Hollywood type to get something done, to bring justice to the over-incarcerated.
Indeed, there may be money in being “brainless like a fox.” Kardashian is worth tens of millions, on up individually, not counting the wealth acquired by her sisters or by her marriage to Kanye. Likewise, Jessica Simpson may not know that chicken does not come from the sea, but she sure figured out how to pile up a billion dollars from merchandising deals. The Bella twins are both multi-millionaires after years of marketing their brand outside of a wrestling ring. And so on. The fact that some celebs are giving back by being rainmakers for needed reform should be welcomed, as an instance of them exercising individual responsibility with their fame.
By contrast, with US pols, everything is subordinated to the elections. Dems have plainly been stretching out the Russian collusion/Trump obstruction narrative to first and foremost win back control of the House in November. only secondly in order to impeach or prosecute. Republicans and the White House are just as plainly waiting to announce any prosecutions against Comey, McCabe, et al witchhunters until later in the year, in order to ruin the Democrats’ fall election chances. It’s all about doing things for maximum election impact, not to effect maximum justice. However things fall out, it increasingly appears that Democratic Doomsday is coming in November. I expect the GOP to pick up about a net 5 seats in the Senate, and lose no more than about a net 5 seats in the House.
Finally, the issuance of pardons and commutations has been traditionally something politicians only do as they are ‘stepping out the door’ or leaving office, precisely in order to not take the heat for those decisions. Trump is, amazingly, doing provocative pardons early on during his tenure, including one just given to the first black boxing champion, Jack Johnson (at the request of actor Sylvester Stallone, who also took the trouble to visit the White House). Perhaps the Donald should challenge those celebrities who keep bashing him to show they actually care about something beyond the sound of their voice, and come to the White House to make their case in person for a pardoning somebody, or other real cause, just like Kasdashian and Stallone did? Van Jones could give them some pointers. In fact, why in the world didn’t President Obama (who did at least do his share of commutations, though late in his term) ever get around to pardoning Johnson? Does Obama even care about black people? Oops, now I’m sounding like Kanye circa 2005, time to stop typing.