So why the year and a half break in posting, as those who paid enough attention to my scribblings to care, might also care to ask? Well, as most non-bloggers know, life can be, or become too busy to keep up a journal or collect one’s thoughts (which is probably why they don’t run a blog). Suffice to say, there were a few other preoccupations that became more pressing, even, than politics for me, and a few political objectives that were deemed more pressing than, or warranting a break from this blog, to wit:
Plans and Projects
Among the politically-related activities happening in the interim was my further exploration of the concepts explained in last year’s “growth hacking liberty” article, to find or confirm opportunities existed that matched what was then described. There will be subsequent posts on certain upcoming real world ways to implement getting more Libertarians elected, or achieving victories for liberty. Those current examples involve 2020 to a great degree, and will be discussed in much greater detail presently on this blog. I have also been working on setting up a sister blog (devoted specifically to Christian libertarian, or other cultural and philosophical subjects), and plan to go active with it by the start of the new year. I have also become more fascinated by certain Presidential candidates coming up to represent the Libertarian or voluntaryist way in 2020, from Adam Kokesh to Nic Leobold. More on these campaigns are definitely coming up.
Circumstances have also changed in my own local group (discussed further down) that is moving me into taking a position leading the launch of a NYC-based Libertarian Political Action Committee in 2020 to assist liberty causes and candidates in the new decade. This project will encompass traditional as well as innovative fundraising efforts if successful, and in improving the organization of efforts to curb or reverse the trend towards ongoing gun control, eminent domain abuse, and producing more criminal justice reform or other libertarian goals in the city and state. More details on this project will be explored as the different components of this drive develop.
Many, Many Political Turns
There of course have been many, many crazy, or significant events (or both) dropping since summer 2018, representing a number of changes in the local, national and world landscape. In my neck of the woods, the biggest liberty event by far has been the ballot access victory of the Libertarian Party of New York (or LPNY, the state affilliate of the national LP) achieved by the performance of LP candidate Larry Sharpe in the 2018 race for Govenor. His 96,000 votes or roughly 2% showing in the race gained permanent ballot status for LPNY, allowing the LP to get an officially recognized line on the ballot for every election from 2020 going forward (so long as the party has a similar 1% plus vote total in future gubernatorial elections). This, in theory, should result in an explosion of new enrollments of registered Libertarians in the state, and more candidates (who can now be more easily fielded) to represent the party up and down the ballot.
Nationally, my prediction that the Democrats would face ‘doomsday’ in the midterm elections turned out to be premature, as they attained majority control of the U.S. House in Congress. The Dems’ deathknell was postponed largely due to the phenomenon of rampant election fraud and manipulation across the nation. This was especially true in California, where in every close race where the Democratic candidate lost as of election night, “vote harvested” absentee votes appeared to magically flip traditionally GOP seats Democrat after a few days (or weeks) of extra counting. In Florida the the rigging was so obvious that even mainstream pols like Senator Rubio and state Attorney General Bondi called it out as it was happening, thereby saving the elections of a new Republican Governor and Senator from being stolen.
Despite promising up and down that the Democratic take control of the House would not be used to clog up the legislative calendar with a non-stop “get Trump” impeachment campaign, the Pelosi-led forces (guided by the deep state-controlled intelligence community) has bombarded the schedule with such investigations, with the apparent intent of aggravating or harassing him out of office. The campaign has already crashed and burned with the Mueller Russia-gate investigation coming up snake eyes, and they are currently crashing and burning on Ukriane-gate, another CIA-fanned scandal based on a phantom “whistleblower” floating a phantom bribery/Quid Pro Quo charge against the President. My next post will be going into this craziness in detail. My updated pronouncement is Dem doomsday will result in November 2020, as a result of going down this insane path.
The broader populist revolt against swamp or deep state procedural tyranny has continued, but has in many places run into an “Empire Strikes Back” counterattack, be it the impeach-mania circus in the US, or the maniacal manueveuring going on in the UK and EU to block the implementation of Brexit. The swamp MPs have now played their true hand, and shown they just want more extensions so as to completely prevent ever leaving the EU. The new sort-of pro-Brexit Prime Minister Boris Johnson can use that to get a clean Brexit, or the watered down, rehashed May deal he offered to the EU in October. In the US as in UK, it still comes down to the bottom line of establishment resistance, over which the populist parallel is exact:
-US Democrats still do not respect the results of the 2016 election.
-Remainer MPs still do not respect the results of the 2016 election.
Until the immediate dynamic changes, there will be a problem in attaining a true exit from tyranny, the ongoing demeaning of “the deplorables,” relief from the censorhip of alternatives on social media, or true transition to something that better serves a free people. But the promise of those exits and transitions is now before us, more tangible than ever before, thus should give all of us hope.
The Passing of Stevens, and the Queens Libertarians
And locally, my situation and location (Queens, NY) has been affected by the recent loss of Dr. Robert Thomas Stevens, an attorney and leading figure in LP politics in the borough and region for over a decade. Dr. Stevens was truly the ‘Ironman’ of the “Queens Libertarians” (QL) organization (previously the LP of Queens County or LPQC, a chapter of LPNY). He served over the years in turns as its Chair, Membership Secretary, state rep, and main program scheduler, as part of the successful Libertarian education speaking program QL has run through its 25 year straight history of monthly meetings. Stevens also served as Chair of the Pennsylvania Libertarian Party, as a local GOP leader, and as a Presidential candidate of the Objectivist Party. According to his sister Joanne, “My dear brother and I were together the night before in the hospital and he looked very well and was happy He was talkative and optimistic.
“I have a beautiful snapshot in my mind of his smile as I waved goodbye unbeknownst that this would be the last time we would say we love each other on this Earth. Tom loved life and people and knowledge. He was so smart. He lived a spirited and enthusiastic life and he truly cared about people. Tom had a great sense of humor and touched so very many lives in such a positive way.”
As a result of his passing QL has decided to put me back in charge (as I was a past county chair, and Stevens previously announced he was retiring from activity at the end of the year, in part due to health issues). QL will seek to find out if we can re-orient the group into a fundraising organization or PAC, in addition to spearheading a number of area pro-liberty causes and alliances. We feel we have a role in acting as a hub of libertarian activism at this time, in light of the lack of such an emphasis among the chartered LP chapters in the metro area (who are involved in much administrative minutia transforming the LPNY into a permanent party structure as per the state election law). Given the enormous size of the metro area, where the Queens population alone (over 2 million-plus people) would make it a top 10 city in the US if counted as separate from NYC, there is clearly enough room for more than one active libertarian organization per county. To make New York free again, we need more decentralized activist groups, not less, to handle liberty outreach and projects for such an enormous region.
Well, at least Stevens understood that, as did I, and many long time members and friends of LPQC or the Queens Libertarians. But because this independent sensibility (and some local personalities) conflicted with other mentalities within the state LP, the reputation of the Queens group was savaged over the years. The party is a potato chip compared to other entities, but certain self-declared guardians thought it best to demean, isolate, and eventually de-charter this group, to maintain its absolute control over the potato chip. I have avoided going into this internal matter on my blog for years, but will review the history of the controversy on this one occasion, as itemized below:
The 90s-2006 Era
Many activists in the Libertarian Party of New York (LPNY) who extend back to the 1990s in their involvement with the party have been comfortable with the original ‘hub’ form of organizing. The party centered its activity around the meetings held in Manhattan (under a combined 5 borough NYC Libertarian chapter), Long island, and Capitol District regions, with limited stable party presence anywhere else. After the NYC Chapter disbanded over severe divisions about endorsing Howard Stern for Governor in 1994, individual boroughs in NYC were encouraged to organize as local LP chapters under LPNY. The LP of Queens County, founded by Queens real estate broker John Procida in late 1994, was the first county level chapter to do so in NYC, and was its most successful local chapter through the mid 2000s. Even after local affiliates were established for other boroughs, LPQC maintained parity status with Manhattan LP as the most active chapters in the city for the next ten years, at times having the most members, and running more candidates for office during this period than Brooklyn and Staten Island combined.
As the party considered different means of evolving to grow the Libertarian movement in NY during that time, vigorous debate emerged over scaling up the party’s operations and organizing practices. Among the most vocal about proceeding in that direction were LPQC members Dr. Tom Stevens, who suggested increased professionalism and more alliances with liberty-friendly persons in and out of the LP, and Sam Sloan, who preferred litigation as a means for addressing wrongs. It was suggested that the state party should expand its operations beyond organizing a convention and a petition drive each campaign year, and perhaps pursue forming more ‘hubs’ for activity than the Manhattan, LI and Albany centric approach, where the local population could support it.
LPQC was the primary group advocating for more expansion, and for supporting the autonomy of local chapters to develop or try out effective methods to achieve the same. Old line members (who wanted the more tightly controlled ‘hub’ layout to continue) were resistant to this, and to the approach or “look” of activists like Stevens or Sloan, who were seen at times as too combative. Following Stevens becoming a more dominant figure circa 2005, and with dissatisfaction with the early turnout for a LPQC convention in early 2006, certain state members led the creation of a block vote of the state committee to neutralize Queens and Stevens by de-chartering the chapter in November 2006.
Queens hotly objected to the action, quickly reorganized a new LPQC chapter as per the bylaws in January 2007, and brought their case (led by chapter founder Procida) to the 2007 state convention. The convention body present overwhelmingly voted to reinstate LPQC to resolve the issue, but “the faction” would go on to persist in bad mouthing or trying to isolate the Queens chapter for years, while continuing to plot to neutralize or remove Stevens and Sloan. Their most frequent routine was to 1) repeat fact-free accusations and past smears about Stevens (including one charge that went to trial, that he was acquitted of) issued by a previous organization that wanted to marginalize him, rather than expand or grow. 2) Then upon smearing without proving it, proceed immediately to a punitive action (suspension, de-chartering, etc). Sentence first, verdict afterwards, or never.
The 2010 Suspensions
Several persons running for the LP nomination for statewide positions in 2010 (Sam Sloan, Kristin Davis) and other observers of the 2010 state convention (Tom Stevens) expressed there was undue favoritism (among convention organizers) supporting one candidate for Governor, that came at the expense of other candidates. Stevens posted arguments about this on LPNY discussion boards and in his blog, while Sloan litigated about it as an injured party. LPQC supported Sloan’s right to attempt to get his day in court to seek remedy over the matter, but did not endorse his other actions (such as attempting to get the LPNY line via a separate independent petition process, or suing some specific committee members). Davis elected to run for Governor on another created Libertarian line, which she succeeded in petitioning for. It has been suggested that had Davis not perceived favoritism practiced against her at the 2010 convention, she would not have run on a separate libertarian line. Thus many of her 23,000 votes would have gone to the LPNY candidate, and LPNY would have gained permanent ballot status as of that year.
In response to Sloan’s suit, certain members of the state committee chose to assert that they were the victimized party, accused Sloan of practicing aggression, and cast both Sloan and Stevens as performing “disruption” against the state party. During the summer of 2010 in the middle of a LP campaign season, these members (through behind the scenes mobilizing of a block vote, without prior open debate) put forward surprise motions to suspend the LPNY memberships of Stevens and Sloan under the Bylaws.
The method used gamed the existing procedures—suspensions were designed for dealing with a pattern of disruption, not a single alleged episode or mere disagreement, and were supposed to be considered only after a prior review of a written case made for the severe action, etc. Instead, the written case prepared and presented against Stevens was supplied during the meeting when the motion was proposed, allowing zero time for review, or with insufficient review time in the case of Sloan. The “written case,” upon examination afterward, consisted merely of postings of discussion threads where some members hotly disagreed with the views, tone or approach of Stevens or Sloan. Some members later expressed if they had had the time to review the written case before the original vote, they would not have voted to suspend. Stevens’ lifetime LPNY membership was also revoked without even a partial reimbursement of his dues, a violation of his membership contract.
The rampant bias behind the action was noted by statements from neutral third party LPNY members, who commented on it at the time. Attempts to table the motions due to these objections were disregarded, as was the matter of the conflict of interest involved by certain members involved in litigation with Sloan voting on his suspension. The fact that the court had dismissed Sloan’s case about favoritism on procedural grounds (the initial judge, and appeals courts, ruled he had filed after the deadline for litigating the matter) was spun as “Sloan’s suits had been thrown out” based on the substance, the latter of which never got to be litigated. Sloan has also pointed out that in one of the suits against another committee member that was litigated on the substance, the judge ruled in his favor. This and other mitigating context appeared to have no impact on the faction set against LPQC, and the two wrongfully suspended members. The bias was compounded by the rulings over the dispute by the parliamentarian, who was on record from before 2010 as against the Queens chapter, and whose rulings, then and in following years, were consistently prejudicial against Stevens, Sloan and LPQC.
While the bylaws stated the suspended members could motion to seek final appeal of the vote by the next state convention, it was widely understood the instigators of the cynically composed suspensions, who controlled the convention business meeting, would (in likewise cynical fashion) simply table the motion to “run out the clock” thereby completing the expulsion of the two members. To head off this outcome, LPQC unanimously voted at their county convention of 2011 to issue a formal complaint statement to the LPNY state committee, advocating they vacate the invalidly performed suspensions. LPQC advised the membership status of Stevens and Sloan was unresolved until the issue was addressed, and that LPNY should at least modify the bylaws to clarify members expulsed at the state level could serve as officers at the local level, especially if they were members of good standing at the national level or other states. The basic answer of the state committee, to both the complaint and the bylaws change, was to ignore both issues for years.
The 2016 Issues
While many supported this faction-led committee stance out of opposition to some of Sloan’s litigation activity, which was thought to be potentially hurtful to encouraging people to join the party, its actual effect was to actually destabilize involvement of long-standing members with the party, which discouraged many Libertarians in Queens from continuing to be active with LPNY. LPQC continued to point out that its complaint to the LPNY state committee over the blatantly suspect expulsions had never been properly resolved, and its members therefore continued to elect Stevens and/or Sloan to local officer positions. It also noted that the fact that both members continued to be active LP members nationally or in other LP chartered organizations around the country (Stevens was PA state chair in 2012, and Sloan has served as an officer in the San Francisco LP for several years). Over the course of this period, at least four state Chairs who served multi-year terms sided with LPQC, along with a few national officers (such as Larry Sharpe), a sign that a constructive resolution to the issue was nearing. In 2015, a state committee vote to effectively reinstate Stevens failed due to a tie vote, an outcome further indicating the unreasonable faction was losing its influence.
But when LPQC again announced it would propose the motion once more in 2016, the same faction who engineered the disputed actions of 2010 mobilized, outside of proper open debate at a state committee meeting, to generate a block vote to remove the charter of LPQC, over “violating the bylaws” (by not removing the LPQC officer status of Stevens). LPQC disputed the charge, pointing out the unresolved complaint about the suspension votes, the unreimbursed dues to Stevens, and that he and Sloan were properly elected local chapter officers under the bylaws. Even though LPQC stated the motion to de-charter was out of order, to which the Chair agreed, the block vote assembled overruled him, and the committee voted to remove LPQC’s charter. The intent was to remove LPQC so it would no longer have the standing to reprise the complaint against the suspensions going forward.
Immediately after the vote, lo and behold, the leaders of the removal of the chapters introduced a Queens Republican to the meeting, who had already agreed to serve as a TCC (Temporary County Chair) for forming a new Queens chapter. Neither info on this individual, or the group of members he formed the new chapter with, had ever been provided to LPQC in the months beforehand. This represented a certain “flexibility” and selective attention to the rules the faction had not allowed for, or afforded to LPQC. The new TCC held a founding meeting months later without all members of LPNY in Queens (in particular, the members of the de-chartered chapter) being notified, a violation of the bylaws designed to prevent the disenfranchised Queens members from being represented in the new chapter. In promoting the LP citywide nominating convention in 2017, former LPQC persons who were LPNY members were again not notified, also in violation of the bylaws.
These actions were disingenuous, outrageous and discpicable when they happened, and remain so today. As a result this top-down, divisive approach to chapter building, the new, replacement or “Astroturf” Queens chapter had three years of struggle gaining any traction in the borough. Only with the success of Larry Sharpe in 2018 did a group emerge, under Queens Chair Michael Arcati, that was stable enough to perform the transition into a more viable, now “permanent ballot status” LP chapter under NY Election law. The original LPQC re-formed as the Queens Libertarians by January 2017, and has continued its schedule of “second Saturday of the month” meetings (from 1994 to present), refusing to be defined by the attacks on its reputation and defamation of its long term members. QL is currently transitioning into functioning as a PAC, while retaining its speaker program and monthly discussion based meetings. QL regrets that the new Queens LP had to suffer from being mostly kept in the dark about how the previous group was bullied out of its charter.
Both QL and the new LP of Queens have reached out to each other by the end of 2018, and approved a solidarity motion for the two groups by summer 2019. The joint statement affims essentially that QL recognizes the Queens LP as the “real LP chapter” and recommends its members join it, while LP Queens recognizes the circumstances concerning the treatment of LPQC in the 2010s was never properly resolved by the old LPNY state committee, and has not been helpful to party development in Queens. Sam Sloan was recently elected as Treasurer of the Bronx LP chapter, meaning under the new circumstances following 2018, wrongfully or supposedly “expulsed” LPNY members can and should be able to serve as officers at the local LP level, just as LPQC has steadfastly maintained.
The improvement of the party’s growth and professionalism in New York eventually finally occurred due to the emerging influence of LP leaders from the Western side of the state since 2014, and Queens business consultant Larry Sharpe’s success in obtaining permanent ballot status for LPNY through his 2018 Gubernatorial campaign. These leaders have largely replaced the remnants of the old state committee, who had been so intent on what they called their “good works” of demeaning, excluding or isolating all figures and chapters who differed from them (as with their disenfranchisement of “the Procida group” or LPQC). This remnant still wants to exercise these toxic veto powers, however, and recently complained that the old LPNY organization’s rules (under the old bylaws) should still govern the new LPNY structure that is officially recognized as a party under the state’s election laws. Sam Sloan has named names in calling out the remnants who campaign for permanent “hub” control of LPNY and micro-management of the local chapters:
“…The Blay Tarnoff Group was noted for internal disputes and the efforts of Blay Tarnoff and Gary Donoyan to expel the John Procida Group led by Tom Stevens from the Libertarian Party.
The John Procida Group [LPQC] is by far the longest standing and most continuously active Libertarian group in New York State.
Blay Tarnoff wants to keep out of the Libertarian Party Tom Stevens who he expelled and all the other people he expelled from the party.
In other words, the “good works” he refers to were actually bad things Tarnoff did and that was the reason the party never got more than 50,000 votes until now.
In 2010 the Libertarian Party candidate got 48,359 votes. We easily would have gotten more than 50,000 votes had the absentee ballots been counted.
The reason the absentee ballots were not counted was Blay Tarnoff went on an orgy of expelling people he did not like, especially Tom Stevens. Instead of building up the party he was intent on tearing it down.”
And that, friends of liberty, is the more complete context, or the rest of the story. Peace and Freedom, in the 2020s and beyond!
Instead of a full article this time (since I’m too busy petitioning for Larry Sharpe and working on other matters) I’m posting a video of an interview where the main points of a discourse I previously did for the Queens Libertarians on “growth hacking liberty” are reprised. This came from an episode of Brooklyn Public Access TV’s Hardfire, hosted by recent Manhattan LP Chair Ron Litchman:
If you like that one, let me throw in an older video I did (from 2006) when hosting that program, on the issue of 9/11 as an inside job:
Also, here’s my comment on how the growth hacking liberty theorem bears on the improbable victory of socialist activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over poor Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary for his Bronx-Queens (14th District) seat in Congress. Ocasio-Cortez beat the senior party leader, and now has the inside track to being elected to the House, by employing (or more like stumbling into) several of the tactics I identified can help non-conforming candidates, such as: 1) concentrating on the primary race, not the fall election, to unseat vulnerable incumbents (like the clueless Joe, who insulted his own district by blowing off even appearing at a debate), 2) leveraging local resources (in her case, her fellow Latinos and socialist core voters, who had become the dominant faction in the district), and 3) triangulating issues to attract new voters. Tactics like these, where properly employed can level the field for outsider candidates running against elite-backed swamp incumbents from either major party.
Normally, taking a bluntly principled position approach may energize too many voters to come out against you, but in this case district voters, who thought she had no chance anyway, were jaded into ignoring her. Ocasio-Cortez took the reverse triangulation route of running an on openly socialist (or radical) agenda (free stuff for everybody, etc), and took all the derision that platform invites. While that invited people in general to write her off, the stance ended up energizing her base to come out in droves, which in a low-turnout primary situation resulted in her winning it. She is continuing to voice her Sanders-era, millenial-friendly memes into the election, including a curious anti-government call to abolish ICE. As a matter strictly of viewing eliminating bureaucracies as a good thing, a libertarian could actually support transferring its legitimate role in protecting the borders and the legal immigration process back to the Department of Justice, or to the states. It is thus possible for a pro-liberty candidate to counter-triangulate a progressive running on this issue. But I suspect the real motivation behind the abolish ICE movement has more to do with race-baiting, and new-fangled election rigging, Democrats want to pack the states with as many immigrants (lawful or non-lawful) as possible, beginning with critical ones like Florida, to turn those states permanently blue. The cost of such changes, unfortunately for older, asleep at the switch Dems like Mr. Crowley, will be to get booted out as an old boss, and replaced by the new Latino boss as time goes on.
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.
An update on ‘World War III,’ following up on the note from last year: The neocon empire pushers of the swamp machine finally got to cash in, WWE style, their Warfare In The Bank suitcase with the April 14 bombing strikes upon supposed chemical storage and manufacturing facilities, in response to a gas attack on children near Douma, Syria. As in wrestling, the holders of the magic case waited for the exact circumstance they wanted—in the matter of Syria, an incident involving alleged use or development of Weapons of Mass Destruction—as the righteous moral cover needed to commence raining down the bombs and other US military action. That pretext is needed to overcome certain tiny complications, such as we were not attacked, Congress did not declare a state of war, the country did not authorize us to be in their sovereign territory, the action violates international treaty conventions, the UN did not sanction it, or any other legal or Just War principle. To the self-serving US Empire, the Might Makes Right rule is the same as Saddam Hussein’s: The law is two lines, above my signature.
Fake News and Drumbeat Bombs
Oh and by the way, the “Assad gassed his own people” charge leading to the launch of the missles appears to not be true. Not that this little detail hindered the launch of the strikes, tempered the non-stop hawkish media coverage and analysis, or informed the aftermath of the strikes on US interventionist policy. In fact, as with prior mainstream media war drumbeats, basically only one side got presented 24/7, with one pro-war FOXhead pundit after another presenting the unquestioned attack-Syria/remove-Assad narrative. The non-interventionist conservative or liberty voices of reason (Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, et al) were no where to be seen on the air—no doubt to serve the partisan paradigm that “only weak, anti-American leftists oppose war or question US claims.” In a telling example of this blacklout, host Tucker Carlson put out a dissenting opinion about the bombing—after which, he was mysteriously off FOXNews for the next week! Everything about the rollout of the narrative and its enforcement afterwards backs up the claims of the alternative media about the MSM, and its role as the real purveyor of fake news. Their job, always and forever, has been to promote or defend the establishment rationale, and marginalize all else.
What rationale, in fact? The alleged gas attack video went online during the April 7th weekend, and the President was already tweeting about “the animal Assad” by early Sunday morning. There could not have possibly been enough time to evaluate the video to verify what it claimed. The ‘White Helmets’ (an NGO humanitarian outfit who had been caught before fabricating such evidence and blaming it on the Syrian government) were again involved in the video production, suggesting they might again be pulling the stunt to scapegoat Assad. How, in the wake of the timeline and the known history, could there have been yet another rush to judgment, unless the fix was in to cash in the “he gassed his own people” propaganda suitcase?
The Deep State is responsible for another false flag here (more on this later), and perhaps Trump is on to them. Local hospitals in the Douma area do not report casualties. An MIT professor has disputed that a real gas attack occurred, which was echoed by subsequent independent journalist reports by Robert Fisk, and one done by Germany’s largest TV network. And as per a tweet by antiwar, pro-liberty Congressman Thomas Massie, the Pentagon has admitted they do not have evidence of an attack, beyond social media reports:
As with last year, when another bombing was rushed in the wake of the same shopworn excuse, everybody has been expected to dutifully accept that President Assad would take the opportunity of achieving total victory over the ISIS forces to–of course!—drop poison gas upon children and other civilians. The fact that once again, all independent investigators trying to find evidence of the attack keep coming up snake eyes, is making laughing stocks of the hawks inside and outside of the Pentagon. At this point, even several of the children displayed in the original viral video have been interviewed, have been confirmed to not be suffering from a chemical attack, and have admitted they were involved in order to get food:
Why So Syrias?
In light of this, the deal appears to be the Global Empire’s attempt to destabilize Syria and Iran, two countries the war party is severely behind schedule in for completing regime change. According to Gen. Wesley Clark, the hegemonic plan devised after 9/11 was to use that tragedy as a moralistic battering ram to invade, occupy and ‘liberate’ seven Mideast countries, including Syria and Iran by 2008. What blocked the plan? Some say it was blunders the war-whoopers made, others believe it was the 9/11 truth movement, and some suggest it was Ron Paul (as his presence in the 2008/2012 GOP primary races stopped the neocons from proceeding with new invasions). Whatever the case, since it’s now 2018, the military industrial complex is adamant about working in overdrive mode to at least finish the Syrian part of the project, take its oil pipeline or resources, then finally replace both it and the independent state of Iran with another Western compliant, co-opted regime, run by another Shah-like US friendly puppet.
Trump’s sudden “why so Syrias?” (sorry, couldn’t resist) turn is the showcase mystery aspect of this case. Is he now really one of “them,” AKA onboard with the globalists, when it comes to projecting US military power everywhere? Or, as argued last year, is this just a bad makeup job? As with the limited bombing strikes of last spring, is it another temporary show of shock and awe designed to shut the warhawks up for another period, while Trump prepares for a withdrawal after the midterm elections? Keep track of the scoreboard—is he conducting a full invasion? No. Or creating no-fly zones over Syria? No. Has a new war started, let alone World War III? Not yet. It sounds again like, beneath all the sound and fury, and relentless neocon blusterings of Nikki Haley, that Trump remains a “Jacksonian” in his foreign policy leanings. To recap, this is a form of interventionism, to be sure, but one that commits itself only to big, but interim adventures and “limited strike” demonstrations of US military strength. Trump has NOT given up on executing an exit plan for these interventions during his tenure, and is still on track to achieving that, bad current optics and all. I will stick to my 2017 prediction that “the weight of the above considerations point to there being no World War 3, and possibly no full war at all under Trump’s reign. There will be hawkish theater, and triangulation of both the hawks and the liberty side.”
Meanwhile. the ridiculous machinations engaged in by the regime changers in straining so very, very hard to follow through on a planned sequence of Mideast conquests, have become embarrasingly obvious, however. This is especially true in light of Trump’s recently announced intention that “the US will be exiting Syria very soon.” It seems that as soon as he clearly signalled a withdrawal, the entire appartus of the swamp went into turbo mode to push him back into a vague “let’s stay a while longer (indefinitely)” counter mode. The current sense is that the US will be “subcontracting” a different group to perform combat operations in northern Syria (perhaps the Kurds again, or Saudi troops). This arrangement is as illegal as the variations involving retaining a US troop presence, but it sounds like less intervention because the troops wouldn’t be involved. Overt military ops, contracted ops, covert ops, etc, are each and all war activities not constitutionally declared, UN sanctioned, compliant with treaties, and are violative of Syria’s sovereignty. What are we doing still building bases there, and dictating what forces will be deployed in a territory we have no legal basis in occupying? No wonder why Chuck Baldwin, Alex Jones and others have expressed strong disgust with Trump’s policy vacillations on ending Mideast interventionism. Is he hopelessly compromised at this point, or just crazy, or is he still playing the swamp, and intending to ultimately flip on them?
As for me, I’m hoping that Trump is still that clever guy who got himself past 16 GOP war party crazies (Rand Paul excepted) and Hillary to win. He’s neither crazy or stupid, but crazy like a fox, who 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.
Sex Bombs or Blackmail Bombs?
This suggests the purpose of all the investigations of Trump have not only been to keep him frustrated, but to find the key pressure from somewhere to keep him in line with the war agenda of the deep state—which seems so far to be beating fruit. The most immediate weapons they have employed to intimidate the Donald range from either still more sex scandal-mongering, from charges by porn stars and playmates (that he romped with them a decade ago), to blackmail attempts to discover crimes concerning his past business connections.
If their true focus is on sex, the latest attempts to “Roy Moore” Trump, from Stormy Daniels’ claims, to the dodgy dossier, to new charges that he (like Pres. Grover Cleveland before him) is father to a child out of wedlock, all give off a whiff of the ‘bottom of the barrel’ variety. Yes, desperation, in that given the intense dirt-digging the MSM did on Trump in 2016, there’s no way the NYT, AP, WP and the rest of the anti-Trump gang could not have already known about the illegitinate child allegation. They didn’t publish it then because it was unconfirmed—meaning they’re running it now, because they have nothing left to throw up against Trump, so journalistic standards be danged. This is the same MSM that has taught the public (for 25 years now) to ‘move on’ from religious prudery and disregard the sexual hijinks of major politicians, so long as they do their day job well. So how did they expect a secular-prudish campaign playing up Daniels in 2018 to have any traction?
In addition, the charges lack a certain internal logic. As in, exactly how can Daniels sue for personal injury, over a consensual act (if it happened at all) that involved personal pleasure? Why would she accuse a public figure of violating a non-disclosure agreement, when it’s usually the politician who cares about compliance with a NDA, when it comes to hook ups with porn stars? And why go on 60 Minutes if she wanted to keep things quiet? Please. What the Stormy story was actually about, was 1) an attempt to dynamite away one of Trump’s main pillars of national support, namely white evangelicals. But current polls show they are standing firm in their support of him (at 78%), so the tactic failed. 2) the scandal was meant to keep hawkish pressure on Trump to stay with the program to smear Syria and keep the foreign intervention program rolling. But because of the many holes in the porn star’s story, the Storm is turning out to be just a drizzle.
Beyond covert campaigns, false flag ops are the chief techniques employed to roll the public within, and between nations into emotional conformity with the target policy or war project desired. In the case of Syria, the war party was prepared to wait decades to trot out the “Assad gassed his own people” word magic if needed, until the right false flag could be staged (and they could militarily act fast enough on it, before too many questions got asked), to achieve their objectives. Once the invasion or full bombing commenced, the gas attack pretext could then be used to demand that the ruler (the victim of illegal aggression launched by another country, mind you) be removed and tried for war crimes—thus completing the regime change project. A staged event supporting a WMD threat/gas attack type narrative thus serves as a perfect combination lock framework or VISA card to justify the interventionist “response” by the Empire, the bypassing of legal details, forcing regime change, and the long war/no exit occupying of the area to ‘stabilize’ it afterwards.
The jewel in the crown of false flags in the region remains the bombing of the USS Liberty by Israeli forces just over 50 years ago. This brazen attack on a US ship was meant to leave no living witnesses, so as to be blamed on the Eygptian government, to trigger getting America to fight the 1967 war against that country on Israel’s behalf. But because the surviving sailors fought back and would not comply with a media coverup, the story has been put in a black hole by the MSM, who go on to this day as if the well-documented incident never happened. Episodes like this, along with the JFK et al assasination black ops, and the 9/11 inside job reveal how often government false flags, wet work ops and subsequent MSM official stories are resorted to create a propaganda framework to push for more meddling abroad, and domestic policy changes at home. The legacy (i.e., the corporate and CIA controlled) media is the key device for putting the Deep State’s narrative over following each of these kinds of ops, which is why the mainstream so often attacks the much more independent alternative media and commentators. The alternatives challenge those narratives, acknowledge the use of false flags or covert ops to manipulate policy, and do not cover for statists in the US, Europe or Israel.
Israel’s “greater” good and expansive self-interest appears again and again to be the secondary engine (behind US global hegemony) explaining unending intervention and meddling in Syria and other points in the Mid east. Paul Craig Roberts has summarized deep state/US motives in Syria in precisely this manner:
“Syria is not about any chemical weapons use. Ahmet Uzumcu, director general of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, reported that all chemical weapons had been removed from Syria. “Never before has an entire arsenal of a category of weapons of mass destruction been removed from a country experiencing a state of internal armed conflict, and this has been accomplished within very demanding and tight time frames.” https://www.military.com/daily-news/2014/06/24/last-of-syrias-chemical-weapons-removed.html
Syria is not about dictatorship or building democracy. It is not about the alleged 70 victims of chemical weapons. It would take a complete idiot to believe that Washington and its European vassals, who have killed, maimed, orphaned, and displaced millions of Muslims in seven countries over the last 17 years to be so upset over the deaths of 70 Muslims that they are willing to risk war with Russia.
Syria and Iran are an issue, because Syria and Iran supply the Lebanese militia, Hezbollah, with money and weapons. This support from Syria and Iran gives Hezbollah the capability of preventing Israel’s occupation and annexation of southern Lebanon, whose water resources Israel covets. Twice the vaunted Israel Army has been chased out of Lebanon by Hezbollah. Israel’s military reputation cannot risk a third defeat by a mere militia, so Israel is using its control over US foreign policy and its rock solid alliance with the neoconservatives to use the US military to destabilize Syria and Iran as the US did to Iraq and Libya.”
In short, the Israeli government wants to expand its influence and even territory in the region, wants any local rivals neutralized or neutered, and wants the US Empire to plow the field for them. Whatever one thinks of Israel’s goals, these agenda items are not related to protecting the borders of the US, and do not justify the unconstitutional spilling of American blood and treasure in the Mideast. The US should withdraw from Syria right now, as fast as we can pack our troops and materials on the planes, as well as cease and desist from slandering country after country with unproven “they gassed their own people” charges for regime change purposes.
Assorted Truth Bombs
Speaking of governments gassing their own people, it may help to put things into perspective to remember this is the 25th anniversary since the FBI bombed, ran tanks, played Barry Manilow music over a bullhorn 24/7, and used UN-banned CS gas upon the Branch Davidians at Waco, an unnecessary act that killed dozens of (mostly black) women and children:
You may want to start downloading all such videos you really like quick, as Youtube has been furiously deleting over 8 million videos in the past three months, as part of its purge of aternative voices.
Make no mistake–standing up to the hawks and serial propagandists for war lies requires some courage, but more people are practicing it. We the People are supposed to be running this country, not the cult of the Omnipotent Deep State and its minions pushing for endless war or empire-building campaigns. If we resist the false flag stagecraft and pro-imperialistic narratives, peace and freedom can prevail. We should be fervent droppers of truth bombs to stop the war bombers, as articulated here by Caitlin Johnstone:
“…proponents of US-led military intervention accuse those who question their narratives of being mentally unsound. There is a word for the tactic of convincing someone that they are crazy in order to manipulate and control them, and that word is gaslighting. It is a textbook abuse tactic, and it isn’t okay.
It isn’t okay for these war whore pundits to bully and deceive us so that we will feel unsure of the basis for our skepticism and consent to the longstanding western agenda of regime change in Syria. It isn’t okay for them to try to make people unsure of their mental health in order to pave the way toward public consent for broader bombing campaigns and no-fly zones in a sovereign nation under assault by western-backed jihadists. Never let anyone bully you into thinking that you are the strange, weird outlier for suspecting that a western empire who has sponsored actual, literal terrorist factions in Syria might lie about Iraq’s next-door neighbor like they lied about Iraq.”
The first part of this post is adapted from a talk given to the Queens Libertarians in Whitestone, New York on March 10.
Back in the ’90’s, when I and my fellow local LP members were trying to figure out resource and cost-effective methods of chapter building (to at least further higher meeting attendance), quite by accident, we stumbled across what would later become a more well-articulated, and celebrated developmental methodology. Instead of only trying expensive advertising in local papers, or tedious phone tree calling to get the same folks to come out, we also mailed out “community notice” postcards to the 10 or so key media sources in the area, that summarized the upcoming meeting. We also mailed out a newsletter to current members that reported on our topical meetings (which were merely discussions—we had no regular guest speaker program until later).
The outcome of this initial multi-pronged promotional effort was 1) a solid trickle of new prospects who would visit each month, solely from seeing our notice in the community paper, and 2) steady attendance by other paid members, who kept coming back because they felt they were being kept in the loop via the chapter newsletter. It was the older methods that turned out to deliver only tepid results, so we de-emphasized them to focus more on what was working. By doing so, we inadvertently completed a simple-Simon version of growth hacking, which Wikipedia defines as “a process of rapid experimentation across marketing channels, product development, sales segments, and other areas of the business to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business.” This combination of marketing with testing to determine the best use of old or innovative technology has been the key to building a number of new enterprises, such as Air BnB (whose growth exploded when it tested integrating its business model with Craigslist) and similar ventures.
Liberty-Friendly Innovations, Growth Hacked
The developments and innovations in American politics over the last decade, I maintain, justify considering porting the tactics or dynamics of growth hacking over to the libertarian universe, and more broadly the “liberty movement,” which encompasses individual freedom and free market supporters ranging from the LP, to paleos or constitutionalist conservatives ala Ron and Rand Paul, and other alternative voices. This adaptation is useful in light of the inability of the LP or libertarians in general to gain more ground in terms of our public image, or in achieving major election victories and policy success using the older approaches. One advantage of adopting ideas for which we already have “proof of concept” in place, is that it permits us to skip the experimentation stage, and proceed to scale up our operations without taking on new risks. Certain tested, and now proven methods or tools are already on hand to help liberty, if we will only will ourselves to apply them.
The developments since 2007 that have paved the way for this liberty 2.0 power wave include the Ron Paul ‘R3volution‘ (not a typo, that’s how supporters spelled it), the Tea Party, the populist trend that elected Trump, and even such things as the rise of Mayor DeBlasio (he was, after all, the first Democrat elected Mayor of NYC following twenty years of GOP or Independent incumbents). Each example had benefits and deficits, serving as laboratories on how to do things differently, to achieve something different. Like many things in life, more was learned by the failures than by their wins, depending on the instance. And each case accomplished more in terms of bringing aspects of the liberty agenda to mass public attention, or mainstream acceptance than running the same old-style LP candidacy, comedy-hour membership drives, or issue campaigns of yore. Those traditional efforts are largely forgotten right after they are mounted, with no permanent impact made on the public, let alone the establishment, or “swamp”—how many regular people really remember Gary Johnson at this point, for example?
The Paul campaigns for President showed we could run a high-profile libertarian campaign in the Republican primaries, and use online resources to efficiently organize national grassroots support for the effort. But it turned out to be an incomplete strategy that wrongly assumed the elite-kept media and top GOP party apparatus would ultimately ‘play fair,’ then kindly proceed to fall in line to support a true liberty figure for the nomination. In fact the MSM and leadership used all manner of devices to marginalize Paul in plain daylight, or else disrupt his campaign’s momentum, to protect the elite’s preferred contenders. Paul himself had no apparent plan or inclination to effectively confront this obstacle, or to build a winning voter coalition to overcome it. The Trump and Outsider phenomenon showed how to get a (somewhat) populist-friendly candidate or issue (like Brexit) to succeed against the established order (i.e., run somebody with the independent resources and temperament to bluntly confront it). The thematically pro-liberty aspect of this development, however, has been resulting policy that is, at best, incoherent from an intellectual libertarian perspective, or at times more driven by Trump’s ego than by principle.
The Tea Party showed us that we could succeed in “primarying” or ousting DC incumbents (Dem and GOP) who have participated in the fiscal insanity (of over-spending and constant borrowing) that is tanking the US economy long-term. But the swamp’s response to this originally non-partisan movement was to swiftly repackage it as a conservative subset that was just upset over Democratic overspending (“pay no attention to those Republican over-spenders behind the curtain”). Thus co-opted back into a standard partisan rhetorical box, the neutered movement became much less effective. Finally, DeBlasio demonstrated how an obscure progressive figure could leverage his local base vote in order to win major office, despite being a fatally flawed statist-to-the-max politician as far as his policy record goes.
Four Ways to Hack
One clear pattern emerging from these movements since 2007, is the power of taking on establishment statism along the primary front, where incumbents (and their protection racket) are more vulnerable, and the smaller voter turnout can be exploited. A liberty candidate can make a bigger splash on public reception here than in the fall election, where the media, the big party machine, and the money factor (or lack of such funds) can be counted on to drown out or marginalize alternative voices. In association with having a primary race focus, along with a populist engagement syle, the following relatively new, proven techniques (involving reverse triangulation, the BOSS approach, self-reimbursing campaign financing, creative branding, and leveraging local resources, etc., to advance candidates and causes) have emerged that can growth hack liberty projects going forward:
Triangulation- As discussed in a past article, triangulation is a very useful positioning tool for creating a situation that improves the stature of a targeted figure or viewpoint. In classic use, the target person to be ‘up’ positioned gets a lesser figure (who has safe tenure or is in a safe seat) to state an issue in an inflammatory or ‘extreme’ way, drawing in the political opposition to heatedly respond. The target figure then steps into the flap as “the statesman” and conveys the same view in an NON-inflammatory way, thereby appearing to be “the sensible moderate” or reasonable party. Thus a position that would have been risky for the “statesman” to originally introduce (or act as the rainmaker for) becomes normalized or mainstreamed, following this calculated sequence. Certain voting blocs could be engaged based on a triangulated approach (through a candidate provocatively attacking those opposed to that bloc, thus drawing attacks from those opponents, thereby causing that bloc to lean towards supporting the candidate for being “their champion”).
Since the 2000’s, the alternative movements above described have shepherded in a “reverse triangulation” variation, where the ‘extreme’ party initiates the flap sequence, in order produce such a strong opposition response that the public in general ends up reacting by adopting a more moderate, or ‘common sense’ variation of the original ‘extreme’ position. The key case example of this is in action would be the notorious “(toy) guns for tots“ incident in NYC of 2002. Gun grabbers on the City Council at that time had already banned handguns, and had moved on to ban toy guns that were replicas. When manufacturers then decided to sell brightly colored toy guns that could not possibly be mistaken for real firearms, the grabbers proposed a bill to ban brightly colored toy guns as well. On the day of the public hearing about the bill, members of the local LP staged some street theatre at a Harlem school, handing out brightly colored toy guns to students. This “extreme” stunt set off fireworks at the hearing, and in the NYC media as well, denouncing the LP over the action. But the funniest thing then happened—the public reacted to the flap with a “what, um, why are they banning brightly colored toy guns?”—and poof, a bill that that was going to pass, didn’t pass.
In other words, it was one of the few days the LP actually did its job, and made a real difference, even if the exercise took the brave activists out of their comfort zone. In subsequent years, reverse triangulated controversies have more often been employed at Paul, Tea Party, or Trump rally events to act as the ‘tip of the spear’ to both freak out the establishment, and to spur the public into concurring with the “common sense” aspects of the more liberty-friendly position. The radical side that initiates well-selected flaps in this manner ultimately is investing faith in the mass public to choose liberty, once the issue is properly framed or presented to them.
B.O.S.S. Plan- Also outlined in an earlier post, the Bi-partisan Open Seat Strategy, which I’ll just repeat verbatim:
Most seats are in areas that are not competitive for the purposes of liberty candidates winning the election, that is, they are dominated by GOP or Dem hacks who win with above 55+% of the vote. Recognizing that 95% of seats are gerrymandered to support Republican or Democrat (statist) incumbents, we should focus instead on running in a primary or special election where the incumbent is retiring, passed away, or removed by scandal. Run on a liberty platform to win the nomination of the dominant party in the district or area (say, if it’s a deeply Democratic district, run a Ron Paul Democrat, or if it’s a Republican district, run a Ron Paul Republican).
Field for suitable candidates using the local Campaign for Liberty/pro-liberty meetups and mailing lists, or from the local LP. Upon winning the primary for the vacated seat, the liberty candidate then has the inside track to win the election. An example from a few years ago of how this results in victory is the Kerry Bentivolio case in Michigan (a Ron Paul supporter who won a US House seat by being the only GOP candidate in the primary when the incumbent Republican retired). The BOSS approach should thus create higher percentage opportunities for liberty people to win seats, regardless of which major party way the district rolls.
The best way of enacting this strategy is to use it to concentrate mainly on the 5-10% of races in the country where one could win on a BOSS basis, instead of the usual routine of just running quality liberty candidates in election campaigns against strong incumbents, only to almost certainly lose each race. Executed properly, BOSS sure beats remaining indefinitely limited to only “educational campaigns,” or reacting to fitful banter over political trends from Black Lives Matter, to porn stars suing Trump. Having a local bank of credibly funded, already vetted liberty candidates at the ready to enter into an open seat contest wherever it shows up will vastly improve the LP and other liberty candidates’s odds of actually winning major office. Adopting this strategy will also give the LP an additional purpose, namely, to vet the real, principled candidates needed to run on either the LP line, or on a major line when a BOSS-suitable situation opens up. Our end game should be to get libertarian/liberty-friendly legislation passed or policies put in place. Whether this is done by Libertarians elected through the LP, or liberty candidates who used the R or D label to gain office, but govern as libertarians nonetheless, the bottom line is to get that policy result. A party label is a vehicle, not the destination. Our true political home is a free country, not a major or minor party structure.
Self-Reimbursing Funding- Affluent candidate self funds primary campaign by putting the funds in a corporation, which lends it to the campaign. Upon winning the primary, the loan can be paid off from government matching funds. This tactic could persuade more affluent libertarians to run.
The key example of this, of course, is the Trump candidacy, since the Donald mostly lent himself the $50 million (via one of his entities) he used to fund his way to a primary victory, precisely in order to give him the option of using government matching funds, plus traditional fall fundraising to pay himself back. Trump ended up not exercising that option, and of course the whole “use state funding” scheme can be rejected as un-libertarian. Yet it is a practical and proven means of helping to convince a otherwise reluctant but affluent prospect to a) self-fund their campaign, b) thereby improve their chances of winning, c) avoid the toil of regular fundraising early on, and d) run a primary race while remaining independent of mega-donors or establishment/swamp political infrastructure.
Area/Local Leveraging- Run in a liberty-friendly local district (e.g., college area) for local office. Then use the base vote there to run for a well-selected larger seat (e.g., citywide or Congressional). In the example case of Bill DeBlasio, he rose to power by winning a city council seat, from which he then ran for Public Advocate, one of the three citywide elected positions in NYC. Because fewer people vote in the primary (and still fewer bother to vote for the positions below that of Mayor), most of the votes DeBlasio got for the citywide seat came from his local Park Slope district. Upon winning the 2009 crowded Democratic primary on this basis in an overwhelmingly Democratic city, he had the inside track to win the election for Public Advocate, which later led to his 2013 run for Mayor. Now that’s leveraging.
Putting this all together in one composite example, a prospective candidate who has the means to seriously self-fund (say, to a six or seven figure level), and is a high profile/well branded personality, may be persuaded to run for major office based on mixing up the above proven tactics. An upcoming seat with a retiring incumbent should be targeted, whose primary (of the area’s dominant major party) could be won based on triangulating the most urgent issues identified by voters in the district or area. Based on a self-funding primary effort (set up with an option to reimburse the campaign), the candidate could end up winning it, thereby have the November election already wrapped up, and could then use that local base to later run and win citywide or larger regional office. This can work as a dynamite formula for forging a viable liberty politician’s career, for more and more candidates going forward, providing a solid basis for ongoing liberty action.
One more note: Don’t think that the enemy isn’t busy working on ways to growth hack tyranny, especially after their utterly unexpected loss of the White House in 2016. The Authoritarian Swamp Command has been in overdrive trying to reverse the tide of the outsider wave, using many old, along with some new tactics to re-establish their domination of the political order. They have the money and power to pursue this, and are for doggone sure working hard on it.
For example, the plan of the establishment for the last two years has not been to simply defeat Trump and the populist movement, but to completely ruin both. That’s why they pushed those last minute sexual assault charges against him in the election, and then disgusting hotel sex charges in the dossier. They couldn’t find a way to plant child porn pix on his PC or lure him into having a sex chat with a minor (as they did to frame former UN arms inspector Scott Ritter), but they probably tried. One rumored plan is for Mueller to accuse him of financial crimes by going into his business ventures spanning back decades. Whether he finds anything or not, the Democratic NY Attorney General then plans to dog Trump with the same charges at the state level.
Plus, Hillary keeps on quacking away with excuses about why she didn’t prevail in the election, precisely because her elite military-intelligence industrial complex (MIC) and Soros masters have informed her she would still have the backing of the entire Deep State/NWO cabal (which includes the CIA-kept media) for yet another run. Elite party leaders really think they have figured out or learned from their election rigging mistakes from 2016, and will get the fraud right next time. Expect an extra effort to pack FL with enough Democratic votes to make up for losing by 1% to Trump in ’16. Also expect rigging in the Midwest states to reverse the loss of MH, PA and WI Dems suffered in ’16. They’ve even thought hard about mirroring the unexpected Trump phenomenon by pushing the ultimate counter—floating globalist celebrity Oprah Winfrey as a possible 2020 contender. Anything, it seems, to reverse the results of 2016.
Indeed, sometimes to the exclusion of all else, Democratic plotters seem particularly focused on turning Florida reliably blue, via drop shipping legal and illegal immigrants into the state, among other methods. To repeat, Trump won FL by only 1%, so they’re close. If they then can do the same with Texas, it’s game, set and match for making the electoral college insurmountably blue in all Presidential races going forward. THAT’S why they treat everything else as irrelevant, or as dispensable—they know with the solidly Democratic states they currently control, they just need two more major states in their column, to have a permanent Democrat lock on the White House and the country. This factor alone, in large part, explains why populist pro-liberty folks have been somewhat forgiving of Trump’s frequently un-libertarian flaws, foibles, flips and other flops. The ascendancy of Trump in leading the populist liberty agenda, for better or worse, has kept us from teetering over into a total statist abyss.
Korea Update: Unification Wins
Meanwhile on the national policy front, there have been two gigantic developments, the first being the equivalent of a “Nixon goes to China” moment in American political history—Trump has signaled he would be meeting as early as May with North Korean (NK) dictator Kim Jong-un, pending that country ceding to US will by committing to the complete “de-nuclearization” of Korea. This breakthrough (if it does lead to direct talks) can be attributed to either the intense economic sanctions the US put upon NK to end its nuclear weapons testing, or to diplomatic efforts to re-unify the two Koreas strongly supported by the public, and by South Korea (SK) President Moon Jae-in (as recently displayed at the Winter Olympics), or both.
Naturally, the war party neocons, and FOXNews heads pounced on this news to push the hard line that the outcome was a response showing Trump’s ‘toughness’ on NK was paying off. They pronounced the real problem all along was the prior, Democratic incumbent was (as usual) ‘too weak’ to deal with the ‘rogue’ and brutal nation. They hold the ultimate goal needs to be completely disarming NK (nuclear or conventional), subjecting them to complete subjugation by way of no-warning inspections of all their defense systems, and even regime change to oust Jong-un. (Neocons always forget to mention all the times Democratic incumbents also talked tough against NK, and all the times GOP incumbents were tough with the nation, to no avail in changing NK policy.) In other words, they are re-running the same tired, pugnacious, and destructive playbook that produced the stalemate of the last 65 years, along with the quagmires we still have in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, et al across the Mideast. To the hawks, too much intervention, and confrontational belligerence is never enough, as has been noted by Sen. Rand Paul and others in Congress.
Good for Rand. He and Trump were literally the only GOP candidates in the 2016 primary field who openly repudiated (i.e., rejected those war party swamp projects, not scapegoated the Democrats over ‘mismanaging’) the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and called them the quagmires that they are. If only Trump had not surrounded himself with generals who keep pushing for the very regime change, one-sided ‘diplomacy,’ or long-occupation dogmas he campaigned against. Our nation is supposed to be run by civilians, not generals. It took less than four years each to resolve the Civil war, WWI, and WWII. If there was a military solution to Afghanistan, generals would have figured it out after 17 years—since they haven’t, obviously there is none. Trump should have appointed more generals with a less-interventionist or realist perspective, consistent with the policy he ran on.
The US military is funded to the tune of 700 billion+ a year, and was funded to that level during the Obama years as well. That’s larger than the next 12 nations combined, and is at that level to support the US global EMPIRE, not to protect the borders of our country. One half to two thirds of it could be cut, and we would still meet the requirements to defend this country as per the Constitution. To keep 30,000 troops in Korea after 65 years is but one of the absurd consequences of this “we must dominate everywhere,” Empire-first (instead of America first) approach. That posture has enabled even a brutal dictatorship such as Kim Jong-un’s to plausibly assert it had to develop nukes as a form of deterrence, due to its sovereign right to exercise self-defense. Will the Empire ever acknowledge that its never-ending military build-up and hundreds of bases worldwide, has encouraged other nations to justify retaliatory build-ups? Does the Empire even recognize other sovereign nations do, in fact, have a right of self-defense?
The way out of the NK impasse on its nuclear weapons deployment ability is, ideally, to end sanctions, pullout US troops and to end military exercises in the region, in return for verifiable weapons de-nuclearization by NK. The simplest route to this would be a tightly defined, multi-national agreement to have NK suspend making nuclear weapons, with regular inspections based on the template of the Iran deal. The nations in the region (SK, Japan, Russia, China) all border on North Korea and would agree to have a stake in resolving the issue by participating in monitoring its compliance, following an Iran-style inspection model. In that case, there is no need for “no warning” inspections in a NK agreement, as the wait time (as with nuclear facilities anywhere) is too brief for the country to hide nuke components if they had any. The real ‘teeth’ in the Iran deal was that it kept BOTH sides honest, as violations on Iran’s side would result in the re-imposition of sanctions, as we’ve seen, and the multi-country verification scheme also cuts out the US’s tendency of unilaterally claiming the other party has violated the deal. A true ‘deal’ has to be acceptable to both sides, and not a one-way endless laundry list of things neocons demand, that NK will never agree to.
The FOX heads seem to want an overly broad deal they can then unilaterally, and more easily accuse NK of violating, so as to set up a pretext for US military action (based on a “there, you see, those guys can never be trusted” mantra). Or. they want a ‘deal’ where the US gets everything they want, while NK gets nothing. This is the same prescription for disaster that broke up the NK deal brokered by Clinton in the late ’90’s–the G.W. Bush administration neocon crazies reneged on it, upon which NK in turn withdrew from it, and resumed their nuclear build-up. This led to the war party claiming NK had “violated” what was an already broken deal, so back we went into ratcheting up sanctions, and belligerent “diplomacy.”
The sanctions and tough talk blusterings were NOT working, as both have been going on for years. It was the unification drive (initiated by SK against US wishes) that brought NK to the table. Both Koreas realize the nuclear issue has to be dealt with for unification to happen, using an Iran-like template. A NK nuke deal should be set up the same way (no nuke creation, with multi-national monitoring, in exchange for a lifting of sanctions) to give both sides incentive to accept the agreement. Trump’s main contribution to the breakthrough has been his willingness to enter into direct talks (again, against war party wishes). To his credit, the President has also broached the “shocking” subject of withdrawing US troops from South Korea after all these years, as part of his attempt to get a fair deal with countries on the trade front (more below). Trump’s hawkish advisors should not mess things up by using the negotiations as a one-way bludgeon to create a pretext for war.
Free Trade Nationalism
Second, the Donald also announced he would implement a tariff strategy to bring various countries ‘who have not treated us fairly’ or economically wrecked us to heel for their transgressions, as fulfillment of his long-desired intent to pursue a policy of economic nationalism. While his heart is in the right (anti-globalist) place, this course of action to deal with the culprits presumes 1) it’s the fault of those countries for our economic difficulties, 2) that tariffs will work as a corrective action, and 3) that it is the only way to pursue an ‘America first’ trade policy. The rest of us are scratching our heads wondering, but, um, what if none of these particulars are true, and, what about our bloated big government, the 21 trillion in debt this nation has run up, the monetary distortions brought by Federal Reserve and Wall St cronyism upon our economic system, etc, as more likely suspects?
A tariff is a tax, and it gets passed on to us. A tariff leads to other retaliatory tariffs. In an escalating trade war, everybody loses. This is Economics 101. Just speaking up for the libertarian alternative, integrated with a nationalist perspective: G. W. Bush pushed for tariffs, did that improve the US economy or trade position? Nope. From a market 101 point of view, what happens when costs go up for any business? Don’t they just get passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices? Yep. So aren’t tariffs a prescription for more trade unfairness, rather than less? Yes. The problem is not free trade, but with state-enforced managed or open trade. As in other economic matters, the state should get out of the way, not try to micro-manage it, or set up a ‘fair’ racket that serves as yet another form of corporate welfare.
So one can be a free trade nationalist and oppose tariffs, on the basis that they are bad for the country and the economy. Just as corporate or crony capitalism is a corruption of true capitalism, corporate or managed “free trade” is not real free trade. Mercantilist big corporations misuse these terms to push government policy that create international sweetheart deals for them, while dumping the expenses onto others. The real level playing field should be for all people and companies, big or small, to have the same freedom to trade with others abroad, not for a handful of big boys to use government to force open access to foreign markets, regardless of the details. Tariffs only add to government-caused distortions of the balance, they do not cure it.
As Thomas DiLorenzo summarizes it: “One of the first things Dub-Yuh did as president was to impose tariffs on steel imports. The U.S. steel industry has claimed to deserve “infant industry” protection with tariffs and quotas for at least the past 160 years. Some people never grow up. Trump has followed suit with tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, which will increase the price of everything made of steel and aluminum (i.e., American-made cars), rendering vast portions of the U.S. economy less competitive in international competition.
Thousands of American workers will lose their jobs as a result. It will also loot the pocketbooks of American purchasers of American-made goods that contain steel and aluminum, i.e., Trump’s working-class political base, with higher prices. Other countries will retaliate with high tariffs on American-made goods, causing even more unemployment among Trump voters in the export-related industries. Trump just shot himself in the foot with a bazooka.”
The one positive aspect of Trump’s drive to get a fair deal is that it includes suggestions that trade should be linked to pulling out of all these perpetual troop deployments the US has abroad, that covers the defense needs of foreign nations (effectively giving those countries trade profits without military expenses). That prospect (beginning with pulling out of SK) is tremendously pro-America first, though as Justin Raimondo has noted, don’t expect neocons and beltway libertarians to support it. Bottom line, we don’t need an apparatus of tariffs to make America great again, or to solve trade problems that were created by corporate welfare, the banksters, and by the mass exporting of jobs away from the US. More government force, more bureaucracy is not the answer.
This country started with only 3-4 crimes identified as felonies at the federal level: counterfeiting, treason and piracy (cross-state kidnapping was added later). We operated perfectly well for 140 or so years without all these alphabet soup bureaucratic entities coming along adding tons of new felonies to the books to lock people up over, or classifying 100 million new secret documents each year. We didn’t need spies overseas, the FBI spying on us at home, secret FISA courts, nor wars and meddling abroad. Nor did we need all their additional regulations and army of enforcement agents. Constitutional limited government can, and did survive without all of this. The managerial elite of the total state is NOT, and never will be our friend. I say, undo everything the cult of the omnipotent state has foisted on us, from 1901 onwards. A large part of bringing back liberty in the 21st century, involves repealing the 20th century.