LLR Pages

Monday, September 29, 2008

Congress Votes Down The $700 Billion Paulson Bailout Bill

In a bold, shocking historic act on Congress' part, Capitol Hill voted down on the $700 billion Paulson bailout bill. The vote, incidentally, was 205-228.

Here's the entire story from the Wall Street Journal in its entirety (subscription to the site is required, by the way):

Bailout Bill Fails in House Vote
Amid Defections in Both Parties

WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan group of U.S. House lawmakers defeated a $700 billion rescue plan for Wall Street on Monday, rejecting pleas from the Bush administration and congressional leaders from both parties of the potential dire consequences of policymakers not acting to help financial markets.

The 205-228 vote against the plan sent stocks plummeting, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down around 500 points as news of the vote spread through Wall Street.
The Bailout Deal

* Vote: Should the House have approved the bailout plan?
* Deal Journal: Wall Street Works the Phones as Dow Drops
* Earlier: U.S. Seals Deal for Financial Bailout
* Full Text of the Draft Bill | Summary
* Rescue Will Help Borrowers Keep Homes
* Bailout Tests Bush's Conservative Legacy
* Real Time Econ: Bailout Bill Assists Fed

The defeat came despite House leaders holding open the vote for well beyond the 15-minute time limit, supporters were unable to convince enough members of either party to switch their votes against the proposal.

The defeat is a massive setback for the Bush administration, specifically the Treasury Department, as well as lawmakers who have been working throughout the last week on the legislation in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings as well as the government's bailout of American International Group Inc. and its takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The White House expressed displeasure with the defeat of financial-market bailout legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, and said President George W. Bush will meet with his economic team later Monday to determine the way forward.

Obviously we're very disappointed in the outcome this afternoon," Mr. Fratto said. "There is no question that the country is facing a difficult crisis that needs to be addressed."

Mr. Fratto said President Bush will meet with his team Monday afternoon and be in touch with congressional leaders.

The $700 billion rescue plan for Wall Street was defeated by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in a 205-228 vote. The vote, which was expected to be tight, is a sharp repudiation of the Bush administration and congressional leaders, who warned that failure to act would have dramatic implications for financial markets and the U.S. economy.

Earlier Monday, the White House said it believed it had the votes necessary for the rescue bill to pass.

President Bush, who tried to rally support for the package with a televised statement early Monday, had a list of a "couple dozen" lawmakers to call before the vote, Mr. Fratto said before the vote.
—Henry J. Pulizzi contributed to this article.

Write to Michael R. Crittenden at

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kinsella "Intellectual 'Property'" Interview by Lew Rockwell

A fifteen-minute interview by Lew Rockwell: Podcast #32; MP3 file (8.2MB). As Lew's site describes it, "Stephan Kinsella podcast on phony rights vs. real ones." We discussed mainly the moral, libertarian, propertarian, and state-related aspects of patent and copyright, and why there has been confusion about IP among libertarians.

More detailed discussion of these issues can be found on my libertarian publications page; see also my monograph Against Intellectual Property; and my speech and presentation, The Intellectual Property Quagmire, or, The Perils of Libertarian Creationism.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Fed Bails Out Money Markets

The Fed, in its collectivistic fashion, bails out the receding money market industry, costing taxpayers $180 billion.

As F.A. Hayek once noted, one intervention leads to another intervention. When will we ever learn from this mess?

September 19, 2008
Fed Offers $180 Billion for Ailing Money Markets
Reflecting concerns about the health of the global financial system, the Federal Reserve and the world’s other major central banks significantly escalated their assistance to global markets on Thursday, making almost $200 billion available after bank lending came to a near halt and threatened the global economy.

In a statement released at 3 a.m. in Washington, just as the markets opened in Europe, the Fed said that it had authorized a $180 billion expansion of its temporary reciprocal currency arrangements, known as swap lines, to allow banks to borrow more dollars in money markets at a lower rates.

Paul Mortimer-Lee, head of market economics in the London office at BNP Paribas, said the move reflected concerns that the financial markets now appeared to be facing their gravest problems since the Depression.

“We’re high on a mountain, with a thin rope and holding on by our fingertips,” he said. “Are policy makers scared? They should be.”

The concerted central bank action follows the rout on financial markets this week as the bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection, the brokerage firm Merrill Lynch lost its independence and Washington announced an $85 billion bailout of the American International Group, the insurance giant.

The move seemed to cheer equity investors, who reversed part of the earlier deep slide in Asian markets and bid stocks up in Europe. American stock indexes opened with strong gains, with the Dow Jones industrials rising more than 100 points in early trading.

The central problem is that, lacking confidence in one another’s ability to repay, banks have slowed their lending to each other via the money markets. The short-term rates at which they borrow have surged as they seek to keep cash on their books.

Besides the Fed, the coordinated action involved the European Central Bank, the Bank of Japan and central banks in Canada, Switzerland and Britain.

Analysts are starting to talk about the need for much more intervention from Washington, warning that Thursday’s move would not provide a quick fix to unlock bank lending.

Writing in The Financial Times on Thursday, Kenneth S. Rogoff, the former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, said the United States would have to spend 5 to 10 times as much as it already has on bailouts, an amount closer to $1 trillion to $2 trillion.

The monetary fund had estimated in April that the losses related to the crisis, which started in mortgage markets in the United States, would be $1 trillion.

Such a rescue would dwarf the huge bailout of the American financial system in the 1980s by the Resolution Trust Corporation, a government-owned, asset-management company charged with liquidating assets of thrifts and the Japanese government’s mass purchase of bad debts from banks during the 1990s.

“We are moving from a monetary solution to a fiscal solution,” said Richard McGuire, a fixed-income strategist at RBC Capital Markets in London. He said that while the central banks’ moves had helped, other efforts would be needed.

Traders usually look at spreads in the money markets to measure the health of the money markets and judge whether banks are willing to lend to one another — and ultimately to consumers. Spreads are the differences between interest rate charges overnight and those charged over a longer period.

After the fund injections by the banks, the cost of borrowing dollars overnight fell, with the benchmark Libor rate falling 1.19 percentage points, to 3.84 percent, Bloomberg News reported, citing the British Bankers’ Association.

But the gap between three-month United States Treasury yields and the three-month London interbank, or Libor, rate — known in the market as the TED Spread — narrowed only slightly, to around 299 basis points at midday in London, from just over 300 basis points Thursday. A similar slight narrowing of spreads was seen in sterling and euro markets.

“The dust may settle and the market may take a more sanguine view in time,” Mr. McGuire said, “but for now, it looks like a palliative rather than a panacea.”

In its statement Thursday, the Fed said that as part of the infusion, it had also authorized increases in the existing swap lines with the European Central Bank, up to $110 billion, from $55 billion, and the Swiss National Bank, up to $27 billion, from $15 billion. Similar arrangements were announced with the Bank of England and the Bank of Canada.

“The central banks continue to work together closely and will take appropriate steps to address the ongoing pressures,” the European Central Bank said in a statement.

Smaller central banks were also active on Thursday in providing extra money to their country’s financial systems so as to make sure that banks and other financial institutions could find money to borrow without having to pay exorbitant interest rates.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, for example, injected 1.556 billion Hong Kong dollars, worth $200 million, into the territory’s banking system on Thursday afternoon, John Tsang, the financial secretary of Hong Kong, said.

The monetary authority acted after the interest rate that Hong Kong banks pay to borrow money overnight from one another suddenly tripled shortly after lunchtime, to 4 percent, and threatened to rise further.

The maneuver appeared to be successful, with overnight interest rates falling through the rest of the afternoon. Central banks in Japan, Australia and India pumped tens of billions more into money markets, while China’s central bank said it had lowered the rate at which it conducts bond repurchase agreements.

Analysts said the central banks were doing what they could.

“This is clearly a very significant help and central banks are showing decisive leadership here as risk aversion is hitting the private sector,” said Julian Callow, chief European economist at Barclays Capital in London.

Still, noting that the Fed left its benchmark short-term rate unchanged this week, analysts said that the cash infusions did not necessarily mean that central banks would lower their benchmark short-term interest rates.

“If anything,” Mr. Callow said. “this sends the signal that they are trying to achieve stability via money markets rather than by cutting short-term rates.”

Heather Timmons contributed reporting.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Fed Bails Out AIG for $85 Billion

The Fed, which is a Leviathan-constructed enterprise, has bailed out the faltering American International Group (AIG) juggernaut at a cost to taxpayers in the amount of $85 billion. This move will only compound the problem of malinvestments in the financial services industry, which happens to be a welfare queen to the nth degree.

Here's AIG's statement on the Fed bailing it out:

Addresses Liquidity Issues and Policyholder Concerns

NEW YORK--Sept. 16, 2008--The Board of Directors of American International Group, Inc. (NYSE:AIG) issued the following statement in response to today's announcement by the Federal Reserve Board that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is providing a two-year, $85 billion secured revolving credit facility to AIG that will ensure the company can meet its liquidity needs:

"The AIG Board has approved this transaction based on its determination that this is the best alternative for all of AIG's constituencies, including policyholders, customers, creditors, counterparties, employees and shareholders. AIG is a solid company with over $1 trillion in assets and substantial equity, but it has been recently experiencing serious liquidity issues. We believe the loan, which is backed by profitable, well-capitalized operating subsidiaries with substantial value, will protect all AIG policyholders, address rating agency concerns and give AIG the time necessary to conduct asset sales on an orderly basis. We expect that the proceeds of these sales will be sufficient to repay the loan in full and enable AIG's businesses to continue as substantial participants in their respective markets. In return for providing this essential support, American taxpayers will receive a substantial majority ownership interest in AIG.

"We commend the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department for taking this decisive action to address AIG's liquidity needs and broader financial market concerns. We thank them for their leadership during this critical time for the global financial markets. We also thank Governor Paterson, Commissioner Dinallo, Commissioner Ario, the other state Commissioners, and the Office of Thrift Supervision for their willingness to assist AIG.

"Policyholders of AIG companies around the world can rest assured that AIG's commitments will continue to be honored."

It should be noted that the remarks made in this press release may contain projections concerning financial information and statements concerning future economic performance and events, plans and objectives relating to management, operations, products and services, and assumptions underlying these projections and statements. It is possible that AIG's actual results and financial condition may differ, possibly materially, from the anticipated results and financial condition indicated in these projections and statements. Factors that could cause AIG's actual results to differ, possibly materially, from those in the specific projections and statements are discussed in Item 1A. Risk Factors of AIG's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2007, and in Item 2. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations of AIG's Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the period ended June 30, 2008. AIG is not under any obligation (and expressly disclaims any such obligations) to update or alter its projections and other statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

American International Group, Inc. (AIG), a world leader in insurance and financial services, is the leading international insurance organization with operations in more than 130 countries and jurisdictions. AIG companies serve commercial, institutional and individual customers through the most extensive worldwide property-casualty and life insurance networks of any insurer. In addition, AIG companies are leading providers of retirement services, financial services and asset management around the world. AIG's common stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, as well as the stock exchanges in Ireland and Tokyo.

American International Group, Inc.
Charlene Hamrah (Investment Community)

Nicholas Ashooh (News Media)

This is definitely economic fascism to the core. Fascism is a profit system, in which the private enterprise's profits are private, but the losses are socialized. Laissez-faire (free market) capitalism is a profit-and-loss system, in which both profits and losses are private, and the taxpayers are not footing the bill for either one. The former should be condemned and opposed, while the latter should be embraced. This isn't a matter of oversimplifying the issue; this is a matter of the Left, including the vast majority of the American public, being ignorant and uneducated on free market economics, particularly the Austrian school of thought.

Having said all that, there's a dime's worth of difference between the systems, and the Left has gotten laissez-faire all wrong. Not only that, they're both ignorant and arrogant about it. Ignorant because they choose not to look at the economic models in depth and understand how they truly work. Arrogant because they think they know everything there is to know about economics, and yet they know nothing.

So much for tolerance, open-mindedness, and diversity in the world of progressive liberalism.

The Fall of the Financial Markets

The crumbling of the U.S. financial markets have begun. Tragic yet not a surprise.

September 18, 2008
Stocks Slump as Investors Run to Safety
The financial crisis entered a potentially dangerous new phase on Wednesday when many credit markets stopped working normally as investors around the world frantically moved their money into the safest investments, like Treasury bills.

As a result, the cost of borrowing soared for many companies, while the stocks of Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley that only a couple of weeks ago were considered relatively strong came under assault by waves of selling. Investors were so worried that they snapped up three-month Treasury bills with virtually no yield and they pushed gold to its biggest one-day gain in nearly 10 years. Stocks fell by nearly 5 percent in New York.

The stunning flight to safety, away from other kinds of debt as well as stocks, could cause serious damage to an already weakened economy by making it more expensive for businesses to finance their daily operations.

Some economists worry that a psychology of fear has gripped investors, not only in the United States but also in Europe and Asia. While investors’ decision to protect themselves may be perfectly rational, the crowd behavior could cause a downward spiral with broader ramifications.

“It’s like having a fire in a cinema,” said Hyun Song Shin, an economics professor at Princeton. “Everybody is rushing to the door. You are rushing to the door because everyone is rushing to the door. Clearly, as a collective action, it is a disaster.”

Faltering confidence could have an infectious effect in Asia, whose savings has essentially bankrolled America for decades. “Asia, perhaps more than other markets, is a bit more volatile, a bit more based on sentiment,” said Dan Parr, the head of Asia-Pacific for brandRapport, a consulting firm with an office in Hong Kong. “It doesn’t take much for the man on the street to become very, very concerned.” In early trading in Japan, the Nikkei index fell 3 percent.

Despite government efforts to reassure investors over the last 10 days by rescuing some giant institutions — Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and American International Group — many investors remain worried that the financial system has been badly battered and that more firms may fail as Lehman Brothers did.

The Federal Reserve has greatly expanded its lending to banks and securities firms this year and is continuing to relax rules that govern financial companies in hopes of alleviating the credit squeeze. Central banks globally are also injecting more money into their economies and lowering reserve requirements for their own institutions out of concern that the problems in the American financial system will inflict further damage.

If the problems in the financial system persist, businesses will have less money to put to work, job cuts will spread and consumers, already fearful, will have less money to spend, knocking the economy down another notch. High borrowing costs will further weaken the housing market, which is still struggling. The Commerce Department reported Wednesday that housing starts fell to their lowest level since early 1991.

Flashes of fear were evident Wednesday as investors clamored for government debt. When investors bid up the price, the yield falls, and it sank on three-month Treasury bills to 0.061 percent, from 1.644 percent a week ago. The yield was the lowest in more than 50 years.

In the stock market, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell 4.71 percent, to 1,156.39, the lowest close in more than three years. Worries over financial investments hammered even the well-regarded Wall Street firms of Goldman Sachs, whose shares fell nearly 14 percent, to $114.50, and Morgan Stanley, whose shares dropped more than 24 percent, to $21.75. Now, both firms are reconsidering what their best strategies might be in such a fearful market.

In addition to shares of financial companies like Bank of America, those of other bellwethers like General Electric have also tumbled.

Responding to this pressure, the Securities and Exchange Commission proposed new rules on short selling, or betting on falling share prices, and even suggested that hedge funds and others might have to disclose short positions, a proposal that is likely to meet stiff resistance.

One key overnight lending rate was above 5 percent on Wednesday, more than double its level a week earlier. GMAC, the auto finance company owned in part by General Motors, had to pay interest of 5.25 percent on Wednesday for a form of short-term financing known as one-week commercial paper, up from 4 percent the previous day.

Businesses, stung by high interest rates, may be forced to trim expenses, an ominous turn in a slowing economy with unemployment rates on the rise.

“This is throwing sand in the gears of the economy,” said G. David MacEwen, chief investment officer for the bond department of American Century Investments. “The economy depends on credit to finance homes, automobiles, student loans, and inventories.”

Local governments and other enterprises will feel pressure, too. The city of Chicago and Lincoln Center in New York postponed debt offerings because they would have to pay such high interest rates to investors, said Daniel S. Solender, director of municipal bond management at Lord Abbett & Company.

Money market funds braced for possible fallout from the disclosure that one big fund’s net assets fell below $1 a share, because it had held securities issued by Lehman Brothers. It is so rare for money market funds to fall below that threshold that many investors consider them as safe as cash or a checking account.

Some mutual fund companies reported that customers were moving money from broader money market funds that have had higher yields to more conservative funds within the same company, Peter Rizzo, a senior director of Standard & Poor’s, said late Wednesday afternoon. The overall effect is to reduce the appetite for securities of companies with anything other than the most stellar reputations.

Governments around the world stepped up their efforts to ease the strain on the global financial system. The Bank of England extended a special bank lending program for three more months, while central banks in Japan and Australia injected more money into their banking systems. Russia injected money into its banks and lowered reserve requirements.

In New York, the Federal Reserve on Tuesday night said it would extend an $85 billion credit line to the insurer A.I.G. and receive the rights to a nearly 80 percent stake in the company. The deal came just after the government refused financial support to Lehman, leading it to file for bankruptcy on Monday.

The Treasury and Fed also said they would auction more Treasury bills. The Fed will use the securities to manage its balance sheet and inject more money into the financial system. Because the Fed has expanded its lending to banks and securities firm this year, some analysts had grown concerned that the central bank might run out of Treasury securities to conduct its operations. Mark Gertler, an economics professor at New York University, said the Fed was trying to balance two interests: protecting against a crisis but telling the market that it will not bail out every troubled institution. Despite the stress in the markets, he said, the Fed’s actions may have averted a worse outcome.

“Maybe this is being Pollyannaish, but they have been successful in signaling that the bailouts are no longer automatic, and thus far they have prevented a market meltdown,” Mr. Gertler said.

The dramatic events of the last year have called into question much of what policy makers, economists and investors once espoused about the financial system. As recently as the spring of 2007, many in Washington and New York continued to say housing prices could not fall across the board and that most of the bets made by Wall Street traders were inherently safe.

Now, there are signs that psychology is driving a reverse line of thinking. People are assuming that things will get worse and that any move by the Fed or the Treasury is a step down, not a step closer to improvement.

“There has been a tremendous amount of denial over the past two years, three years,” said Barry Ritholtz, chief executive of Fusion IQ, an investment firm, and author of The Big Picture blog. “The list of really, really bad decision making and poor analysis from Wall Street is legendary.”

The Treasury’s benchmark 10-year note rose 6/32, to 104 28/32, and the yield, which moves in the opposite direction from the price, fell to 3.41 percent from 3.44 percent late Tuesday. Following are the results of Wednesday’s auction of 35-day cash management bills:

Diana B. Henriques and Hilda Wang contributed reporting.

Diana B. Henriques and Hilda Wang contributed reporting.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

LNC Treasurer Aaron Starr's Anti-Ron Paul Resolution

Here's Libertarian National Committee (LNC) Treasurer Aaron Starr's anti-Ron Paul resolution, which died at the LNC due to a lack of adequate votes (the same with LNC At-Large Rep. Mary Ruwart's anti-Bob Barr resolution). I figured those wondered what the resolution says; well, here it is:

September 13, 2008

The Honorable Ron Paul

Committee to Re-Elect Ron Paul
837 W. Plantation
Clute, TX 71531

Dear Dr. Paul:

The Libertarian National Committee is disappointed to learn that you have recently urged those in the freedom movement to vote for the likes of Ralph Nader, Cynthia McKinney and Chuck Baldwin, none of whom truly grasp the meaning of Liberty.

More than before, we remain committed to our nominees for President and Vice President, Bob Barr and Wayne Root. We believe both of them boldly present the ideals of limited government, lower taxes, lower spending, and more freedom to the American people.

We invite you to restore your commitment to Liberty by supporting the only candidates on the ballot this year who understand the Constitution and are prepared to restore our republic to what the Founders believed.

Toward Liberty,

The Libertarian National Committee

[H/T to my good friend LNC At-Large Rep. Angela Keaton and El Nino's Mom of the Last Free Voice blog who both reported on this matter. ENM's report can be found here.]

Pink Floyd on Government Education

After blogging about the death of Rick Wright, I've decided to blog about Pink Floyd a bit further by noting that the band is heavily anti-government, particularly in the area of government education. This is one of the best lyrics from The Wall (which inspired that excellent surrealistic movie of the rock opera of the same name).

Here's some of the band's best anti-government lyrics on government schooling by Roger Waters, taken from the song "Another Brick in the Wall" (which is a three-part tune featured on The Wall):

We don't need no education
We dont need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it's just another brick in the wall.
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.

We don't need no education
We dont need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it's just another brick in the wall.
All in all you're just another brick in the wall.

Update: Here are two different versions of the band's music video "Another Brick in the Wall." Please enjoy them; I have.

This one is the original first video clip of the tune:

This second one is a video clip taken from the film version of the rock opera:

Michigan Chapter of ACORN Tied to Voter Fraud in Michigan

Michigan's branch of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a grassroots political organization allegedly geared towards communities of low- and middle-income people and families totalling over 400,000 members, apparently is in legal hot water with the state. According to a recent Detroit Free Press piece, ACORN has been discovered to have submitted fraudulent and duplicate voter registration forms to state officials. The group, which is based in Detroit, enrolled over 200,000 voter applications with the state with approximately 200,000 paid, part-time employees on its payroll.

Here's the article in its entirety:

September 14, 2008

Bad voter applications found

Clerks see fraudulent, duplicate forms from group


Several municipal clerks across the state are reporting fraudulent and duplicate voter registration applications, most of them from a nationwide community activist group working to help low- and moderate-income families.

The majority of the problem applications are coming from the group ACORN, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which has a large voter registration program among its many social service programs. ACORN's Michigan branch, based in Detroit, has enrolled 200,000 voters statewide in recent months, mostly with the use of paid, part-time employees.

"There appears to be a sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications," said Kelly Chesney, spokeswoman for the Michigan Secretary of State's Office. "And it appears to be widespread."

Chesney said her office has had discussions with ACORN officials after local clerks reported the questionable applications to the state. Chesney said some of the applications are duplicates and some appear to be names that have been made up. The Secretary of State's Office has turned over several of the applications to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

The U.S. Attorney's Office on Friday declined to confirm whether an investigation was taking place.

In recent years, ACORN's voter registration programs have come under investigation in Ohio, Colorado, Missouri and Washington, with some employees convicted of voter fraud.

ACORN officials said they were looking into the problem.

"We'll do an investigation to see what's happening," said David Lagstein, a spokesman for the Detroit office. "If it's really as many as that, it warrants further investigation."

In Pontiac, where several thousand applications have been submitted by ACORN in the last few weeks for the November election, the clerk's office is finding that numerous applications are sometimes filed under one name.

"What it causes is a slowdown of our operations," said Pontiac City Clerk Yvette Talley. "They're steadily coming in, and we are finding a huge number of duplications."

Talley said she could not provide an exact number.

Clerks are required to check their records against a statewide database of all registered voters within their jurisdiction, so it would be unlikely that duplications would allow voters to cast their votes more than once, Talley said.

"We catch them all, but it's taking up a lot of our time," she said.

In Oak Park, clerk Sandra Gadd said they have been seeing "lots of duplication" from ACORN in recent months but were reassured by ACORN officials that the group was working to correct the problem.

"They've been very cooperative," Gadd said. "I spoke with them this week. They called me, and they're willing to go door-to-door to do whatever they have to do to take care of this."

ACORN is the nation's largest community organization for low- and moderate-income families. Created more than 30 years ago, it has branches in 100 cities and claims 350,000 families as members. It works to help create affordable housing and health care, and to improve job conditions and neighborhood schools.

Lagstein said ACORN's Detroit office has hired dozens of employees for the voter registration program and that any problems likely stem from sloppiness or incompetence -- not an intent to let people vote more than once.

"We're proud of our efforts to increase voter registration, and we have aggressive training for our staff to make sure the cards are filled out appropriately," he said.

ACORN has a method to track the workers who filled out individual registration cards, which will allow investigators to question the workers, Lagstein said.

"We certainly do our best to keep the duplications as low as possible, so we'll have to evaluate what's happening here," he said.

Contact L.L. BRASIER at 248-858-2262 or

The article conveniently leaves out the allegation that Obama is behind the voter fraud with the help of ACORN. Not only that, the Press also leaves out recent investigations into ACORN's voter registration practices in Wisconsin, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and a number of other states. Moreover, Obama's associations with ACORN is said to be very deep.

Now, with all of this information out, is anyone really ecstatic about voting this year, especially in those states?

Hilarious SNL Impersonation of Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton

Check out this hilarious impersonation of Palin (portrayed by Tina Fey) and Hillary Clinton (portrayed by Amy Poehler). SNL was spot on with the idiotic statism of both Palin and Clinton. Even many of Fox News' Palin-McCain sycophants love the skit.

Palin's $600 Million "Other" Bridge Boondoggle

Sarah Palin's public opposition to using state funds for the Alaskan Bridge to Nowhere will be nothing compared to the latest story that's broken today so far. Apparently, Palin supports a bridge being constructed in her home state of Alaska, one that will be connected to her hometown of Wasilla. This state-subsidized boondoggle will cost Alaskan taxpayers approximately $600 million, linking the state's largest city to her home town with a population of 7,000 residents.

Here's more on the story:

Palin supports $600 million 'other' bridge project

The Associated Press
Tuesday, September 16, 2008; 6:58 AM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Gov. Sarah Palin may eventually have said "no thanks" to a federally funded Bridge to Nowhere.

But a bridge to her hometown of Wasilla, that's a different story.

A $600 million bridge and highway project to link Alaska's largest city to Palin's town of 7,000 residents is moving full speed ahead, despite concerns the bridge could worsen some commuting and threaten a population of beluga whales.

Local officials already have spent $42 million on plans to route traffic across the Knik Arm inlet, a narrow finger of water extending roughly 25 miles northeast of Anchorage toward Wasilla. The proposal exists thanks to an earmark request by Republican Rep. Don Young, whose son-in-law has a small stake in property near the bridge's proposed western span.

A Democratic council member in Anchorage will try Tuesday to spike the city's sponsorship of the project, which Palin supports with some reservations.

"This is basically an incredibly expensive project that doesn't help commuters, doesn't help create jobs and may drive whales to extinction," said Justin Massey, an attorney advising environmentalists opposed to the proposal. "It is also a project that serves the area where the governor is from, which is near and dear to her heart."

The Knik Arm was one of two bridge proposals in Alaska awarded more than $450 million from lawmakers who requested money for special projects in 2005, when Young chaired the House Transportation Committee. Young, Alaska's 18-term congressman, has said Alaska still lacks basic roads, railroads and bridges that were developed long ago in older and less spacious states.

At the time, Palin's running mate for the Republican ticket, Arizona Sen. John McCain, derided both projects as wasteful. He called Young's highway bill a "monstrosity" that was "terrifying in its fiscal consequences."

"I want no part of this," McCain said in a July 2005 statement. "This legislation is not _ I emphasize not _ my way of legislating."

The governor initially championed the first so-called Bridge to Nowhere, which would have connected the southeastern Alaska town of Ketchikan to its airport on nearby Gravina Island. She later pulled the plug on the project after it became a national symbol of extravagant federal spending.

Palin's record on the Bridge to Nowhere has emerged as a central point of controversy in the campaign over her recent public claims that she had opposed it, aligning herself with McCain's anti-earmarks philosophy.

Palin still supports the second bridge, officially named Don Young's Way in honor of the congressman. She called for a review of the bridge's financing plans and raised concerns about its financial risks for the state. Still, the planning process is marching forward.

"Governor Palin's demand for accountability and transparency around this project is exactly what she has called for across the board to ensure taxpayers' dollars are being used wisely," spokeswoman Maria Comella said.

Dianne Keller, who succeeded Palin as mayor in Wasilla, has said the new $600 million crossing could lower traffic congestion in the fast-growing community. A Federal Highway Administration study shows the project would cut down some area commutes, but could add to others as more people move to the suburbs.

The average commuter trip to work for Wasilla residents is 34 minutes, compared to an average of 25 minutes for the rest of the United States, according to 2000 Census figures, the most recent available.

The bridge is popular with property developers _ including a group comprised of Young's son-in-law, the former legislative director for indicted Republican Sen. Ted Stevens and three others _ who own land across from Anchorage on the inlet's western side.

The National Marine Fisheries Service is evaluating whether the isolated beluga whales that breed and feed in the waterway's strong tides should be listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Palin has publicly urged the government not to list Cook Inlet beluga whales as endangered.

Anchorage Assembly members Patrick Flynn and Matt Claman, both Democrats, plan to introduce a proposal to kill the bridge on Tuesday. They argue the money would be better used to set up commuter van pools and fix Alaska's existing highways, some of which are so rutted that cars go skidding off the road.

"She clearly hasn't said 'no thanks' to this particular bridge," Claman said. "If money were not an issue and we had no limits, maybe we'd build a bridge. But this is not a pragmatic or efficient way to spend scarce resources."

So much for Alaska's great governor being a "fiscal conservative," as many of her Republican colleagues, including John McCain, claim she is.

R.I.P. Pink Floyd's Rick Wright

Rick Wright, the founder and keyboardist of the psychedelic and space rock bank Pink Floyd, passed away from an undisclosed type of cancer yesterday. His death has sent an enormous shockwave to the music and entertainment industries, although it's no secret that he had been ill for quite some time.

I remember when I was approximately four or five years old, my brother Brian and his then-girlfriend (now his wife) Barb, both of whom had been high school sweethearts, were heavily into Pink Floyd with their friends. At that time, the band's monstrous hit rock operaThe Wall had already hit the rock music scene, and it already had secured itself a number-one hit entitled "Another Brick in the Wall" in the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and many other countries.

I recall one day, as a young kid, I wandered into my brother's room where Brian, Barb, and their friends were hanging out. I saw them painting the back wall, copying the cover of the band's album. I even partook in it (painting the wall that is), and I do remember them smoking pot in those days. When I first heard the song in that room, I fell in love with it. Obviously, at that age, I didn't exactly understand it, but I loved it. It wasn't until my later years that I came to appreciate the song for its anti-government school, pro-human liberty stand on education.

Thank you, Rick Wright, David Gilmour, and Roger Waters for a wonderful time. It was great. I will never forget that experience for as long as I live.

Here's a great clip of Rick singing a solo version of "Breakthrough," which, as a studio tune, was originally arranged to have another singer on vocals. This is the only time he sang it by himself.

[H/T to Tom Woods of the LRC blog for blogging about this last night.]

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Left Brings Back the Culture War

The biggest problem that the Left, including "libertarian" Real Time host Bill Maher, has is that it has played right into the GOP's hand of demonizing the culture war, which has always been a Republican talking point. Their recent attack of Sarah Palin on her family background (including Bill Maher's obtuse and not-so-funny smear conflating Palin's Down Syndrome-stricken infant son Trig with former Senator John Edwards because of his infamous affair with a campaign employee which he later admitted but denied being the father of her child) and claims that the "lack" of government regulations on Wall Street, corporations, and business in general is tantamount to "lawlessness" and all free markets are inherently evil are just moronic to the nth degree.

As of recent they have been idiotically bashing Palin's retort on Obama's alleged experience as a community organizer, saying, "Well, Jesus Christ was a community organizer and Pontius Pilate was a governor." Come on now! Is this the best they can do in a politically-charged climate, thanks to the government media's over-hyped election season?

Do leftists really want to lose this race? In a predictable fashion the rightist pundits have berated the Left for this, asserting that the liberal talking point per se is highly strange, unnecessary, and implausible. But, as I seem to recall, the Right was doing the same thing when they deified Bush by comparing him and his troops in Iraq to Jesus and His sacrifices, all the while implying that the Democrats were equivalent to Satan. Apparently, as Anthony Gregory pointed out on the LRC blog, there is a clear-cut double standard here, like so many other culture wars.

My advice to the Left is this: please shut up! You're egging on the Right to moan about the culture war, which seems to be its favorite past time. Stop pushing it! Just stop for once!

Fed Finally Bails Out Wall Street

Following the recent fall of the government-subsidized financial industry, the Fed's claim that it wouldn't bail out Wall Street has been short-lived.

NEW YORK: Global markets plummeted on Monday after investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection, rival Merrill Lynch agreed to be taken over and the Federal Reserve threw a life line to the battered financial industry.

As a deepening crisis took new, bigger victims, The U.S. Federal Reserve said for the first time it would accept stocks in exchange for cash loans and 10 of the world's top banks agreed to establish a $70 billion (39 billion pound) emergency fund, with any one of them able to tap up to a third of that.

As always, the government (and the Fed is a big part of it) will willingly continue to process worthless fiat called "money" and disperse loans in its guise. Message to Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke: the problem has nothing to do with liquidity but has everything to do with colossal malinvestments that need to be liquidated.

Shattered AIG

In the wake of the fall of Wall Street's banks, the American International Group (AIG), this ridiculously government-leveraged insurance firm, has been downgraded by Moody's Investor Service from Aa3 to A2 and Standard & Poor's from AA- to A-.

Bloomberg, which reported on this latest move, also points out:

S&P said it cut the rating of the largest U.S. insurer by assets because of a "combination of reduced flexibility in meeting additional collateral needs and concerns over increasing residential mortgage-related losses."

S&P also lowered AIG's short-term counterparty credit rating by two levels to A-2 from the top A-1+ rating, and cut its counterparty credit and financial strength ratings on most of AIG's insurance operating subsidiaries by three notches to A+ from AA+. The ratings remain on watch for a possible further downgrade, S&P said.

I think S&P's rating is highly unrealistic, simply because it's far too moderate. Moody's is somewhat more sensible than S&P's. Here's my rating for AIG: SHATTERED. That seriously destroys the illusion that the government, especially the Fed, can "save" free enterprise. Considering Leviathan and the Fed are not bailing out Merrill Lynch and the Lehman Brothers (or at least those organizations say they won't do it, at least not directly), the people who had those accounts with those banks or had FDIC securants and would have otherwise lost their deposits would have the Fed create that money out of thin air and deposit it into another bank, despite the fact that money had already been created out of thin air in the first place. Interestingly enough, the FDIC has already approached the Treasury and said they need more money because they can't insure all the deposits.

This political and financial quagmire shows the reality of the damage done by the Greenspan-Bernanke boom. How exciting it is to see the Fed and the Treasury being helpless to "save" their biggest subsidized pals!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Fall of Wall Street's Banks

It now appears that the mortgage and housing crisis is hitting the fan big time. Merrill Lynch, the pro-corporate welfare, pro-state banking and mortgage powerhouse which has been in financial turmoil simply by teetering on bankruptcy, has now been sold to Bank of America for approximately $50 billion in an effort to avert another financial meltdown -- a debacle that has been plaguing the housing, financial, and mortgage industries for quite some time. This comes at the same time that another government-subsidized financial juggernaut Lehman Brothers is looking to bankruptcy protection over its failure to secure a buyer. All of this comes on the heels of Obama and McCain collectively agreeing to a bailout of Freddie Mae and Freddie Mac, another powerhouse that's been on the verge of financial collapse as well.

With Obama and McCain agreeing to "save" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Merrill Lynch being placed under another government-subsidized banking entity, and Lehman Brothers filing for bankrupty protection, isn't there any wonder that corporatism (or fascism, if you really want to call it) allows allies in the financial and political sectors (including the Republican and Democratic camps) to rob from the poor and give it to the rich? Talk about reverse income redistribution at its worst!

With friends (that is, collusions between government and its politically-connected firms like Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch) like those, who needs enemies?

Here's the New York Times piece on the fall in its entirety:

September 15, 2008
After Frantic Day, Wall St. Banks Falter
This article was reported by Jenny Anderson, Eric Dash and Andrew Ross Sorkin and was written by Mr. Sorkin.

In one of the most dramatic days in Wall Street’s history, Merrill Lynch agreed to sell itself on Sunday to Bank of America for roughly $50 billion to avert a deepening financial crisis, while another prominent securities firm, Lehman Brothers, said it would seek bankruptcy protection and hurtled toward liquidation after it failed to find a buyer.

The humbling moves, which reshape the landscape of American finance, mark the latest chapter in a tumultuous year in which once-proud financial institutions have been brought to their knees as a result of hundreds of billions of dollars in losses because of bad mortgage finance and real estate investments.

But even as the fates of Lehman and Merrill hung in the balance, another crisis loomed as the insurance giant American International Group appeared to teeter. Staggered by losses stemming from the credit crisis, A.I.G. sought a $40 billion lifeline from the Federal Reserve, without which the company may have only days to survive.

The stunning series of events culminated a weekend of frantic around-the-clock negotiations, as Wall Street bankers huddled in meetings at the behest of Bush administration officials to try to avoid a downward spiral in the markets stemming from a crisis of confidence.

“My goodness. I’ve been in the business 35 years, and these are the most extraordinary events I’ve ever seen,” said Peter G. Peterson, co-founder of the private equity firm the Blackstone Group, who was head of Lehman in the 1970s and a secretary of commerce in the Nixon administration.

It remains to be seen whether the sale of Merrill, which was worth more than $100 billion during the last year, and the controlled demise of Lehman will be enough to finally turn the tide in the yearlong financial crisis that has crippled Wall Street and threatened the broader economy.

Early Monday morning, Lehman said it would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New York for its holding company in what would be the largest failure of an investment bank since the collapse of Drexel Burnham Lambert 18 years ago, the Associated Press reported.

Questions remain about how the market will react Monday, particularly to Lehman’s plan to wind down its trading operations, and whether other companies, like A.I.G. and Washington Mutual, the nation’s largest savings and loan, might falter.

Indeed, in a move that echoed Wall Street’s rescue of a big hedge fund a decade ago this week, 10 major banks agreed to create an emergency fund of $70 billion to $100 billion that financial institutions can use to protect themselves from the fallout of Lehman’s failure.

The Fed, meantime, broadened the terms of its emergency loan program for Wall Street banks, a move that could ultimately put taxpayers’ money at risk.

Though the government took control of the troubled mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac only a week ago, investors have become increasingly nervous about whether major financial institutions can recover from their losses.

How things play out could affect the broader economy, which has been weakening steadily as the financial crisis has deepened over the last year, with unemployment increasing as the nation’s growth rate has slowed.

What will happen to Merrill’s 60,000 employees or Lehman’s 25,000 employees remains unclear. Worried about the unfolding crisis and its potential impact on New York City’s economy, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg canceled a trip to California to meet with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Instead, aides said, Mr. Bloomberg spent much of the weekend working the phones, talking to federal officials and bank executives in an effort to gauge the severity of the crisis.

The weekend that humbled Lehman and Merrill Lynch and rewarded Bank of America, based in Charlotte, N.C., began at 6 p.m. Friday in the first of a series of emergency meetings at the Federal Reserve building in Lower Manhattan.

The meeting was called by Fed officials, with Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. in attendance, and it included top bankers. The Treasury and Federal Reserve had already stepped in on several occasions to rescue the financial system, forcing a shotgun marriage between Bear Stearns and JPMorgan Chase this year and backstopping $29 billion worth of troubled assets — and then agreeing to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The bankers were told that the government would not bail out Lehman and that it was up to Wall Street to solve its problems. Lehman’s stock tumbled sharply last week as concerns about its financial condition grew and other firms started to pull back from doing business with it, threatening its viability.

Without government backing, Lehman began trying to find a buyer, focusing on Barclays, the big British bank, and Bank of America. At the same time, other Wall Street executives grew more concerned about their own precarious situation.

The fates of Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers would not seem to be linked; Merrill has the nation’s largest brokerage force and its name is known in towns across America, while Lehman’s main customers are big institutions. But during the credit boom both firms piled into risky real estate and ended up severely weakened, with inadequate capital and toxic assets.

Knowing that investors were worried about Merrill, John A. Thain, its chief executive and an alumnus of Goldman Sachs and the New York Stock Exchange, and Kenneth D. Lewis, Bank of America’s chief executive, began negotiations. One person briefed on the negotiations said Bank of America had approached Merrill earlier in the summer but Mr. Thain had rebuffed the offer. Now, prompted by the reality that a Lehman bankruptcy would ripple through Wall Street and further cripple Merrill Lynch, the two parties proceeded with discussions.

On Sunday morning, Mr. Thain and Mr. Lewis cemented the deal. It could not be determined if Mr. Thain would play a role in the new company, but two people briefed on the negotiations said they did not expect him to stay. Merrill’s “thundering herd” of 17,000 brokers will be combined with Bank of America’s smaller group of wealth advisers and called Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.

For Bank of America, which this year bought Countrywide Financial, the troubled mortgage lender, the purchase of Merrill puts it at the pinnacle of American finance, making it the biggest brokerage house and consumer banking franchise.

Bank of America eventually pulled out of its talks with Lehman after the government refused to take responsibility for losses on some of Lehman’s most troubled real-estate assets, something it agreed to do when JP Morgan Chase bought Bear Stearns to save it from a bankruptcy filing in March.

A leading proposal to rescue Lehman would have divided the bank into two entities, a “good bank” and a “bad bank.” Under that scenario, Barclays would have bought the parts of Lehman that have been performing well, while a group of 10 to 15 Wall Street companies would have agreed to absorb losses from the bank’s troubled assets, to two people briefed on the proposal said. Taxpayer money would not have been included in such a deal, they said.

Other Wall Street banks also balked at the deal, unhappy at facing potential losses while Bank of America or Barclays walked away with the potentially profitable part of Lehman at a cheap price.

For Lehman, the end essentially came Sunday morning when its last potential suitor, Barclays, pulled out from a deal, saying it could not obtain a shareholder vote to approve a transaction before Monday morning, something required under London Stock Exchange listing rules, one person close to the matter said. Other people involved in the talks said the Financial Services Authority, the British securities regulator, had discouraged Barclays from pursuing a deal. Peter Truell, a spokesman for Barclays, declined to comment. Lehman’s subsidiaries were expected to remain solvent while the firm liquidates its holdings, these people said. Herbert H. McDade III, Lehman’s president, was at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York late Sunday, discussing terms of Lehman’s fate with government officials.

Lehman’s filing is unlikely to resemble those of other companies that seek bankruptcy protection. Because of the harsher treatment that federal bankruptcy law applies to financial-services firms, Lehman cannot hope to reorganize and survive. It was not clear whether the government would appoint a trustee to supervise Lehman’s liquidation or how big the financial backstop would be.

Lehman has retained the law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges as its bankruptcy counsel.

The collapse of Lehman is a devastating end for Richard S. Fuld Jr., the chief executive, who has led the bank since it emerged from American Express as a public company in 1994. Mr. Fuld, who steered Lehman through near-death experiences in the past, spent the last several days in his 31st floor office in Lehman’s midtown headquarters on the phone from 6 a.m. until well past midnight trying to find save the firm, a person close to the matter said.

A.I.G. will be the next test. Ratings agencies threatened to downgrade A.I.G.’s credit rating if it does not raise $40 billion by Monday morning, a step that would crippled the company. A.I.G. had hoped to shore itself up, in party by selling certain businesses, but potential bidders, including the private investment firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and TPG, withdrew at the last minute because the government refused to provide a financial guarantee for the purchase. A.I.G. rejected an offer by another investor, J. C. Flowers & Company.

The weekend’s events indicate that top officials at the Federal Reserve and the Treasury are taking a harder line on providing government support of troubled financial institutions.

While offering to help Wall Street organize a shotgun marriage for Lehman, both the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, and Mr. Paulson had warned that they would not put taxpayer money at risk simply to prevent a Lehman collapse.

The message marked a major change in strategy but it remained unclear until at least Friday what would happen. “They were faced after Bear Stearns with the problem of where to draw the line,” said Laurence H. Meyer, a former Fed governor who is now vice chairman of Macroeconomic Advisors, a forecasting firm. “It became clear that this piecemeal, patchwork, case-by-case approach might not get the job done.”

Both Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke worried that they had already gone much further than they had ever wanted, first by underwriting the takeover of Bear Stearns in March and by the far bigger bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Outside the public eye, Fed officials had acquired much more information since March about the interconnections and cross-exposure to risk among Wall Street investment banks, hedge funds and traders in the vast market for credit-default swaps and other derivatives. In the end, both Wall Street and the Fed blinked.

Reporting was contributed by Edmund L. Andrews, Eric Dash, Michael Barbaro, Michael J. de la Merced, Louise Story and Ben White.

Sarah Palin: Bush Has Attempted to "Rid This World of Islamic Extremism"

Or says Palin during her first ABC interview last Thursday.

LNC Rejects "Snubgate"

The Libertarian National Committee (LNC) has rejected to remove Bob Barr from its presidential ticket. Apparently this latest story, which broke on IPR tonight and serves as a response to "Snubgate," pertains to the grassroots move to eliminate Barr from the ticket. However, not a single member of the 17-member body was willing to make a motion to vote on it.

Interestingly enough, LNC At-Large Representative Mary Ruwart (who ran for president on the LP's ticket this year and lost to Barr) presented her resolution calling for Barr to "apologize" to Dr. Ron Paul. LNC Treasurer Aaron Starr, who's leading the "pro-Barr faction," counters that with a resolution of his own -- one that berates Paul, simply because Ron didn't hand his endorsement to Barr and is responsible for "splitting the Freedom Movement."

Neither resolution passed, simply due to a lack of adequate votes.

[H/T to IPR for making this report available.]

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sarah Palin's True Colors

One of Sarah Palin's biggest problems is that she tries too hard to be very libertarian on the issues, but she doesn't even accomplish that very well. Her recent two-part interview that she gave to ABC News' Charles Gibson last Thursday should be any indication to libertarians and even many conservatives about her neoconservative, Bush-esque stands on the issues. At first it seemed as though she was very libertarian on a number of issues, including her past support for the Alaskan Independence Party of which she was a member. Not only that, she stood by its advocacy of secession, which is now a matter of public record.

However, if you dig beneath the surface, you'll find that she's not as libertarian as many "libertarians" like Eric Dondero Rittberg and conservatives like Matt Drudge would like you to think she is. Let's be quite blunt about this. She's a social conservative. Her stands on social and some economic issues are hardly pro-freedom; in fact, they're more statist than ever. Her public opposition to abortion, especially in cases of rape and incest, epitomizes that record of hers and is hardly pro-freedom. Another anti-freedom position of hers is that she opposes gay marriage, simply parroting the typical "traditional marriage" conservative line. If she were truly libertarian on the issue, she would have called for government to get out of the marriage industry at the federal and state levels once and for all. But she doesn't do that; thus, that is where her social conservativism goes off the deep end.

When Gibson asked her whether she could tell the country whether she had "the experience" to not only be vice president but perhaps also be president, she bluntly said:

PALIN: I do, Charlie, and on January 20, when John McCain and I are sworn in, and if we are so privileged to be elected to serve this country, we'll be ready. I'm ready.

This statement alone has raised a lot of eyebrows in the political establishment. The fact that she thinks she is "experienced" to do the job as the vice president is troubling on all accounts. No one is qualified to be president or vice president or even hold any political office for that matter. Her brief record as governor, while hailed by many conservatives and libertarians (because of her libertarianesque positions, although they're not as libertarian as they appear to be) and denounced by many liberals (because of her inexperience and her role as a mother of five children), is substandard and mostly bad. Her problem is not that she has too "little experience," but rather too much experience in government. As a newbie and a McCain acolyte, she's learning the political trappings of Washington and its cronies. Is that someone to look up to? Is that something that you would want to aspire to be?

And what is this "privileged" nonsense? What makes her think that John McCain and she "are so privileged" to rule the United States? There's nothing that is "privileged" about it. She is truly learning the political tricks of the trade here. When she talks about "being so privileged," what she really means is that McCain and she are politically adulated and deified to sit on the thrones of the state. In politics, the term "privilege" is a code word for government worship of the rulers by the ruled. There's nothing truly glorious and sacrosanct about this sentiment. She, along with McCain on the GOP, Barack Obama, and his running mate Biden are looking to be graciousy accepted and welcomed by the ruled via the political tools of campaigning. These candidates are nothing more than wanna-be rulers who are coercively ensuring that voters of all stripes partake in this governmental process of "electing their leaders." Moreover, this is especially when the "leaders" (the pluralized term rulers is more like it) are going to win by default, whether the voters get involved in the political process or not.

And this claptrap about "serving the country" needs to be debunked once and for all. Palin, along with McCain, isn't looking to "serve her country" if and when she's elected to the vice presidency. She's looking to have individual Americans "serve" her. This claim that she would be "serving" the nation is far from the truth. She's simply serving the interests of her special interests and buying votes, while putting on an act to make it look as though she cares about "serving" the people. She will impose her political and religious will on individual Americans and support McCain's neoconservative doctrine, especially when it's not even discernible from the Bush Doctrine. After all, she blatantly admitted that she was on board with Bush's insane intervention in Iraq and even a possible intervention in Iran, and she's on especially on board with McCain's plan for miring us in the Iraqi occupation for 100 years. Those actions are in direct contrast to a foreign policy of non-interventionism.

Her concession to not having met foreign heads of state is a double-edge sword, politically speaking. On one hand, it is good that she has never met them, because the less politicians get involved in matters of foreign affairs, the better. While diplomacy is better than war, the real libertarian position is scrap our current foreign policy of interventionism and replace it with one of non-interventionism. On the other hand, since she has never dealt with the foreign policy issue, it shows that her naivete is showing. If she pushes for a pro-war policy and carries out McCain's 100-year war, then the United States will be mired in it neck-deep for decades to come. Even her ignorance on the Bush Doctrine is unsurprising but inexcusable. There's no reason for her not to be aware of what that policy is and how deleterious it has been to our country.

Moreover, her support for the war in Iraq, while not a surprise, is unjustifiable. Her comments to her church's congregation that national leaders are sending our sons and daughters "on a task from God" to Iraq are heavily theocratic. This zealotry coming from her is indicative of the ideological influence coming from the Religious Right base of the GOP. She posits that she is borrowing from what Lincoln said in a similar fashion:

Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right. -- Abraham Lincoln.

But Lincoln was talking about the country being on "God's side," not the other way around. He was merely speaking about the War Between the States in a ponderous fashion -- that is, whether the Union should be "on God's side." (Not that Lincoln was innocent, as he, with strong support from the Union, nationalized the railroads and shut down enterprises, including newspapers, that didn't agree with him on the War.) However, this entire talk about the "task from God" is seriously a distraction, because it focuses too much attention away from the real issue: government too much in our lives, in our economy, and in the Middle East and the entire world.

Besides, her fundamentalist religious views have no place in government as much as govenment has any place in the church. Such collusions seriously weaken and harm the separation of church and state. Doesn't she get that at all?

Even her opposition to marijuana, even for medicinal use, showcases her anti-libertarianism on a strong note. (Guess what? She tried and didn't like it, although she did inhale it.) While she was right on refusing to use state monies to complete the construction of the Bridge to Nowhere at a price tag of $398 million, she hypocritically supported the funding initially before Congress pushed for the funding and then came out against it. She didn't even try to "marketize" (truly privatize) the airport to which the bridge would have connected and the ferry boat system, which made access almost impossible. How are any of these stands libertarian at all? They are typical of a staunch social conservative Republican. She even supported taxing windfall profits of oil companies that were looking to do business in Alaska. That's hardly libertarian at all. Plus, the allegation that she fired a Wasilla librarian for removing books is a serious charge. (Even that controversy might not necessarily help McCain and the ticket, but it's a very strong possibility.) However, it shows that government should not be funding libraries, and they ought to be in the province of the free market, not bureaucrats and politicians.

It's obvious that Palin's true colors have been shining brightly. While it was a good political move for McCain to choose her in order to draw away attention from Obama, the Left, and their cronies from behind-the-scenes and in the media, it was a bad philosophical move, because Palin is not going to be against the establishment. Actually, she is the establishment now. Whatever hopes that "limited-government" conservatives might have had simply have gone up in smoke.

Support Comrade Palin and Neo-America!

Someone is having a ball with illustrating the true nature of Sarah Palin and the "Party of the People." For Party, the State, and the Motherland!!!

[H/T to Charles Featherstone of LRC and Mark of Mark a reformed Patriot from whom I got this pic and information.]

WikiNews Covers "Snubgate"

WikiNews, the populist-controlled free news source which is a division of online encyclopedia Wikipedia and is an alternative to the corporate-controlled mainstream media, has just covered the infamous "Snubgate" affair.

It looks like it's not looking good for Bob Barr and his Republicanesque cretins, is it?

[H/T to Tom Knapp of KN@PPSTER and as IPR's LP correspondent who covered this blurb.]

Friday, September 12, 2008

Movement Launched to Remove Barr and Root from LP Presidential Ticket

It seems that there is an enormous amount of pressure to remove LP presidential nominee Bob Barr and LP vice presidential nominee Wayne Allyn Root from the LP ticket, in the aftermath of Barr's stand-up of Ron Paul at his press conference. This pressure is being used to push LNC members to "un-endorse" Barr and Root and either replace them with alternatives or keep the ticket empty. Many proponents of this move are justifying it by saying that this is the only way the LP can be saved after the disastrous snub that Barr handed to Paul last Wednesday morning.

On a grassroots note, an activist has launched an online petition that calls for the removal of Barr and Root from the Party's ticket.

This is what the petition says in its entirety:

We, the supporters of freedom and liberty hereby petition you to immediately remove Bob Barr as the Libertarian Party nominee for President of the United States. Furthermore, we request that he not be replaced by the current vice presidential nominee Wayne Allen Root, but by another, less divisive candidate.

This request is not made lightly, but with much seriousness. The actions, track record, and history of Bob Barr has divided libertarians and other liberty leaning individuals across the nation.

WHEREAS the primary goal and purpose of the Libertarian Party is and has always been not conservatism but liberty,

WHEREAS Robert Barr has, not only refused to participate in the 10 September 2008 press conference of Rep. Ronald Paul of Texas and the Campaign for Liberty but has deliberately sabotaged this event with a false RSVP,

WHEREAS Robert Barr's campaign has simultaneously called for Rep. Ronald Paul of Texas to be its vice presidential candidate and called him a thief, demonstrating either gross incompetence or a deliberate attempt to undermine the drive for liberty,

WHEREAS refusal to participate in a promising avenue for the enlargement of the party and the advancement of the cause of liberty is not in the best interests of the Libertarian Party, and

WHEREAS the Libertarian Party was not founded and does not exist for the aggrandizement of Robert Barr,

WE THE UNDERSIGNED hereby affirm that we are registered voters in the several United States of America, and do petition Robert Barr to step down from his position as candidate of the Libertarian Party for President of the United States; we do petition the Libertarian Party to renounce its support of Robert Barr's candidacy for the office of President of the United States; or both.

The Death of the Bob Barr Campaign Part II

The fall-out from the infamous Barr "no-show" at Ron Paul's press conference Wednesday morning is gaining momentum. And it's getting down-right ugly. It serves Bob Barr, Russ Verney, Shane Cory, Mike Ferguson, LP Acting Executive Robert Kraus, LP spokesman (and recent college graduate) Andrew Davis, and all the other cronies working on behalf of and supporting the Bob Barr Campaign for President.

Andrew Davis, another Barr backer, opined on the ruckus. He said that Barr didn't want to share the stage with "with people like McKinney." In his original yet brief statement, Davis wrote:

The real question is why Bob, who is a major player in this election, want to be on stage with people like McKinney, who stands against everything the LP does, and Baldwin, who is barely on enough ballots to have a statistical chance of winning.

Barr is not a minor party candidate. Barr is a major player this year.

He is holding his own press conference right now.

The good news -- at least for Ralph Nader -- is that Davis left him out, having no unkind words for him. Gee, the LP certainly picked a winner to be its spokesman, now didn't it?

Paul backer Don Rassmussen even reported:

I just sat in stunned silence as Bob Barr blatantly lied to the national press corp (or the half dozen members that bothered to show up). He stated that he had not committed to attend this press conference. This is patently false. He was fully committed to attend until 30 minutes before when Russ Varney called Jesse Benton and said that Barr was out. This man has not one ounce of integrity in his body.

Adam Kokesh stood up during the press conference, denounced Barr and withdrew his support. Several others in the room quickly followed. Great job Adam!

I asked Barr Communications Director Shane Corey after the event why they pulled this stunt and was told to go f*** myself.

So how is this looking for Bob Barr in the grand scheme of things? Not well, quite frankly. Arthur Torrey, an anti-Barr presidential elector, went on record, saying that he would substitute Barr for LP presidential candidate George Phillies, who will be on the ballot in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. In his announcement, he stated:

I have sent the following message to the Mass. Secretary of States Office and the attorneys representing our side in the litigation concerning the substitution of Barr/Root for Phillies / Bennet. Essentially it means that if I have anything to say about it, Bob Barr will NOT be on the Ballot in Mass. I am deleting some addresses, otherwise it is as sent…

To whom it may concern;

I am one of the Presidential Elector Candidates for the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts (LPMA). As such I feel that it is necessary and appropriate that I express my feelings concerning the ongoing litigation concerning the right of the LPMA to substitute the names of the National Libertarian Party nominees for President and Vice President for those of George Phillies and Chris Bennet whose names currently appear on the LPMA petitions for the offices.

I wish it to be known that as a Presidential Elector Candidate, while I support the RIGHT of the LPMA and it’s electors to make a substitution, I am no longer willing to do so in the case of Bob Barr and Wayne Allen Root. I will NOT pledge to vote for Barr / Root in the event that their ticket wins the vote in Mass. and I will NOT sign any agreement to authorize the substitution of their names on for those of Phillies / Bennet on the presidential ballot.

This decision is due to actions taken by the Barr / Root campaign subsequent to this litigation being filed and, in my opinion, does not impact the basic facts of this case. While it is very true that there are considerable differences between Barr / Root and Phillies / Bennet as the Secretary of State alleges in the defense document, this is properly a matter for the members of the Libertarian Party to decide, not the Secretary.

I firmly believe that the basic circumstances of the case, which are that the LPMA initiated its petition drive with Phillies / Bennet under the advice of the Secretary of States Office that *IF* the LPMA desired to make a substitution, then this would be permitted. It is manifestly unfair for the Secretary’s office to change the “rules of the game” in the middle of the petitioning process.

As both a voter and taxpayer I would pray that, while I do not support substitution in THIS instance, the Court will see fit to rule that the electors have the right to substitute a candidate if they so choose, and direct the Secretary of State to develop fair and consistent rules for doing so. This would help to avoid the trouble and expense of future litigation on this topic.

Thank you,


Arthur Torrey
LPMA Operations Facilitator
LPMA Presidential Elector, who will NOT vote for Barr!
Town Meeting Representative
Speaking only as myself unless otherwise indicated!

The fall-out is reaching mass proportions. Chris Brunner of the Blog
conveniently tore Barr into pieces, stating:

By committing to attend Congressman Paul's press conference only to declare minutes before hand that "it just isn't worth it." This is according to Don Rasmussen, Events Coordinator of the Campaign for Liberty.

Bob Barr has been slamming Dr. Paul publicly since he won the formerly-libertarian party nomination, but this seems to have offended more Ron Paul supporters than anything he has done so far.

For those who don't know, Barr spent much of his life jailing people on behalf of the federal government for possessing substances that the state disapproves of, before recently "seeing the light". Even since his supposed revelation, he has praised the troop surge, argued for intervention in Iran and South America, advocated a national sales tax, and voted for the PATRIOT Act twice. This just scratches the surface, of course.

With that said, it's probably for the best that he didn't show up today.

It just keeps getting worse for Barr. His campaign manager Russ Verney spewed some venom at Paul and his supporters, claiming that the Campaign for Liberty "was not about promoting a liberty agenda; it was about promoting a man" and that President George W. Bush "incredible leadership as he stood atop a fire truck amidst the rubble of the twin towers to rally America," even as he compared it to the "leadership" provided by Wayne Allyn Root for illegally offering his VP spot to Paul. Here's the entire text of his letter for reprinting:

Dear Friend,

Before I move forward with an important report for today, I would like to recognize and remember the 2,819 men and women who lost their lives seven years ago. As a result of the attacks of September 11th, Americans came together, setting aside differences in order mourn our shared losses and assist our neighbors in need.

May we never forget . . .

In times of crisis, strength in leadership requires boldness of character, clear direction and firm resolve. As we witnessed after the attacks of September 11th, President George W. Bush showed incredible leadership as he stood atop a fire truck amidst the rubble of the twin towers to rally America.

While the quality of leadership is rare enough, principled leaders are few and far between. Those who do appear to posses the traits necessary to lead, for reasons only known to themselves, frequently choose not to stand on principle.

Yesterday, our vice presidential candidate, Wayne Allyn Root, offered to step aside to allow Congressman Ron Paul an opportunity to serve on the presidential ticket of the Libertarian Party and move the agenda of Liberty forward.

On the surface, a simple offer was extended. In fact it was principled leadership at its finest.

Wayne Allyn Root showed his deep commitment to the principles of our cause. Without hesitation or regard to the effort, time and personal funds he has committed to the issues of freedom, smaller government, less taxes and the Libertarian ticket, Wayne offered to step aside to allow another leader to step up.

I could not be more proud of his actions and selflessness.

As America is hurling towards crisis on many fronts, we need principled leaders like Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root. We have no time to waste on anything other than spreading the message of smaller government, less taxes, and more personal freedom issues across this nation.

That brings me to my next point.

Today our campaign is being criticized by a few people for my decision to not attend a press conference sponsored by Ron Paul’s political action committee. I thought I would take a minute to explain to you why I made that decision.

It became evident to me after meeting with Ron Paul’s staff that this media event was not about promoting the liberty agenda; it was about promoting a man. That’s not what we’re in this for.

After rumors were spread in advance of the news conference that Bob Barr was dropping from the race - just to hype the event - I became even more hesitant to attend. Those tactics were unacceptable and when asked about it, Ron Paul’s staff simply smiled and said it would attract the press.

When I was provided a copy of Ron Paul’s prepared remarks just hours before the start of the planned news conference it became clear to me that the message Ron Paul intended to deliver was essentially to scatter the votes for the liberty agenda to the four winds.

His remarks not only encouraged anyone listening to support any one of four candidates, he also applauded ‘non-voters’. To me encouraging people not to vote is not principled leadership for the Liberty agenda.

I made the decision that attending that news conference was not consistent with Bob Barr’s principled leadership for the Liberty agenda.

Once I informed Ron Paul’s staff of my decision I was rudely informed that my decision would have permanent ramifications, I was personally threatened and Bob Barr was politically threatened. That’s a far cry from principled leadership.

One thing that did occur as a result of yesterday’s events is a clear separation of certain factions. Up until now, we have been dealing with two groups, those who want to advance the issues of liberty and those who have been drawn into a cult of personality.

There are those who support a specific politician and then there are those who support the liberty agenda regardless of standard-bearer.

Bob Barr, Wayne Allyn Root and the Libertarian Party stand for the issues of personal freedom and responsible government. As they have proven, both Bob and Wayne are willing to lead or follow for the advancement of our issues.

Now is their time to lead.

As we move into the final 50 days of the campaign we are in place to make a strong impact on the future of our country.

At the end of the day, the number of votes cast in support of the Liberty agenda in the General Election will influence the national political agenda of the next four years.

If we do our jobs, work hard and give us much as possible until Election Day, our voices will be heard and our agenda of smaller government, lower taxes, more personal freedom and government accountability will be on the table for years to come.

I appreciate your commitment and dedication.


Russ signature

Russell Verney
Campaign Manager columnist and blogger Anthony Gregory exhibited his disgust towards Verney's statement, calling it "a bizarre accusation." Here's Gregory's post from the LRC blog about this:

In a statement today, the Barr campaign manages to attack Ron Paul yet again (while somehow finding an excuse to praise President Bush for his "leadership" on 9/11). They say that Ron Paul's meeting yesterday was all about promoting himself, and yet it was also supposedly about "scatter[ing] the votes for the liberty agenda to the four winds." Bah. Barr would be very lucky to get 1/4 of Paul's supporters to vote for him. The Barr campaign release also attacks non-voters.

This is really amazing. The same campaign that was willing to praise Jesse Helms, Al Gore and now George Bush, a campaign that has flip-flopped on global warming, gay marriage, the drug war and other issues, is now attacking the most popular libertarian activist movement in modern history, and attacking Ron Paul the person for caring more about himself than spreading the message of freedom – perhaps the most bizarre accusation one could make.

When Barr first got the nomination, I predicted he would not break 700,000 votes, despite hysterically optimistic estimates of millions of votes. Now, I would be somewhat surprised if he got more votes than Michael Badnarik.

Even Tom Woods, a Rothbardian, a Misean, and even a writer and blogger for LRC and the Mises Institute and author of The Politically Correct Guide to American History, attacked Verney, calling his statement "sheer stupidity." He wrote:

Bob Barr's campaign manager, Russ Verney, sure is funny: "Today our campaign is being criticized by a few people [my emphasis] for my decision to not attend a press conference sponsored by Ron Paul's political action committee...." A few people, probably just those who are part of what he calls a "cult of personality" around Ron Paul.

How can this be topped for sheer stupidity?

As for attending vs. not attending, hasn't Barr (who was recently booted from the ballot in West Virginia) encountered some of the same frustrations all third parties do, and like a decent man wouldn't he want to join them in standing up against that kind of treatment? What am I missing?

Iraq Veterans Against The War member and independent blogger Adam Kokesh, who was at Bob Barr's press conference lambasting the LP presidential nominee and was nearly silenced by Barr campaign manager Russ Verney, described his experiences at the conference with the following:

I attended Ron Paul's press conference yesterday expecting Bob Barr to be there. It was going to be as close to an endorsement as Barr could get from Paul. I almost came with a sign that said "Veterans For Barr." Boy, am I glad I didn't.

Ron Paul had decided to throw some of his now considerable weight behind the electoral issues that marginalize third party candidates and got all four major third party candidates to endorse a four-point platform that included libertarian positions on foreign policy, privacy, the national debt, and the federal reserve.

When I think of the freedom movement, I think of it as broadly as possible. Everyone who thinks the government is too big, too intrusive, too burdensome, and not representing our will abroad with the current interventionist foreign policy is part of the freedom movement. We are a diverse group, and we do not need to be uniform in all of our beliefs to be unified against a government that is out of control. What Ron Paul did was put that down into four points of agreement and got a team united behind them in a very powerful way. It may not have been as dramatic as some people were hoping, but it was beautiful. Our founders would have recognized the importance of what Paul was doing, or as Benjamin Franklin said, "We must all hang together or most assuredly we will all hang separately."

Bob Barr just had to ruin it for everyone for his own selfish reasons. He had agreed to the platform, and agreed to be at the event, only to withdraw thirty minutes before it happened. There was an empty seat for him on the stage. Paul was gracious and kind, saying things like, "if he can make it," but behind the scenes he was angry and hurt.

I went to Barr's own press conference right afterwards still giving him the benefit of the doubt. I had hoped that he had a good reason for not being there that I was not aware of. Maybe he would say he had a personal issue. But instead, I sat there and listened to him prattle on about Ross Perot and getting votes and forcing policy issues and "principled leadership." Then he asked Ron Paul to be his VP.

I was fuming. I had reservations about Barr before publicly endorsing him, but I even offered my support in a letter that was delivered through the LP staff which was ignored by the campaign. I thought his transformation was genuine and that it was a powerful sign for the LP to elect a newcomer, as if to say "we will embrace anyone who comes around to our principles." Unfortunately, we picked Barr instead. He has since shown himself to not fully comprehend or endorse the philosophy, having praised the troop surge, argued for intervention in Iran and South America, and advocated a national sales tax. He has also run as far from the LP as possible, and there is still no link to the LP on his website. His lack of willingness to work with other people on key issues (issues any true libertarian would be passionate about) is very revealing.

I raised my hand and stood up to speak when Russ Verney acknowledged me. Maybe he realized who I was when I did not claim any press credentials, but he interrupted me and tried to get me to sit down. One of his staffers actually got up and stood next to me, looking like he was ready to carry me out. I guess he realized that was not a good idea. I ignored him and pressed on, despite Verney's continued interruptions. I don't remember exactly what I said, but what I was trying to say went something like this:

"What Ron Paul was doing today was taking leadership on some issues that I know you agree with and your lack of willingness to be a part of a team and work with others on these issues is telling. You have spoken a lot just now about leadership and unity, but it is clear you care about neither, except when you are the leader, and people are united behind you. Good leadership includes good followership and today, you showed your lack of both, and a complete lack of integrity. I am retracting my endorsement."

The freedom movement is bigger than any one party, and any one leader. The revolution of which I speak is a revolution of values, of political culture, and of the understanding of the responsibility of being a good citizen. When that happens, it will be reflected in our political system one way or another, be it through the Republicans, Democrats, Green Party, Constitution Party, or an independent candidate. As a moderate libertarian, I still believe that the Libertarian Party will be the mechanism by which our movement will come to fruition and I will remain an enthusiastic lifetime member. More than the party or any one candidate, I am committed to this movement, my country, and my principles.


I have signed a petition to have Bob Barr removed from the Libertarian Party ticket. Please click here and sign this petition to join me in this effort. Please forward this to everyone you know who cares about the future of this movement and the Libertarian Party.


Russ Verney is full of crap. Click here to read his response to the events of the last day in which he praises Bush's leadership, exploits 9/11, and claims that Ron Paul's press conference was "about promoting a man." Maybe their campaign strategy goes something like, "Screw liberty, screw the issues, screw the principles of the party of principle. If we can just get enough votes this year, we can get Bob back on the ticket in four!" He was right about Wayne Allen Root though: it was gracious of him to step off the ticket for Ron Paul, but of course if Barr gave a crap about the movement, he would have offered Ron Paul the top spot on the ticket.

Andrew Davis issued a statement on the LP's news server, speaking out against a thirty party alliance. The entire blog reads as follows:

Third-Parties and the Philosophy of Liberty
posted by Andrew Davis on Sep 11, 2008
Perhaps it is the acrimonious environment of a two-party system, or simply a "strength in numbers" struggle that makes strange bedfellows among third-party candidates in today's politics. Whatever the cause, third-party candidates often reach out to others for support and assistance in the mutual struggle against the tyranny of the duopoly. Be it in pooling resources, or simply an extra hand in meeting ballot access requirements: Third-parties are a band of political outcasts struggling for a right to compete for the votes of American people, the same as Republicans and Democrats.

This semblance of unity, of overcoming political differences in the pursuit of greater competition in elections, is certainly something to appreciate and encourage. Third-parties alike face the monstrosities of corrupt ballot access requirements in their attempt to place candidates on the ballot, and it is only natural for de facto alliances to spring up in this pursuit.

In many cases, these political competitors can even find common ground in their political positions, such was the case with the recent Libertarian, Green, Constitution, and independent party endorsements of a quartet of issues compiled by Republican Congressman Ron Paul. Such a consensus is rare in partisan politics, and the willingness of these candidates to come together represents a refreshing change of pace from the refusal of Republican and Democrats to address the issues that Americans face.

Though a positive step in politics, there is a hidden danger in attributing too much worth to this showing of solidarity among political parties that differ so greatly. An oppressive two-party system presents a clear need for reform and change, but a mutual agreement on issues between political parties is not necessarily indicative of an overall similarity or compromise between parties.

There are very real, and very diametric differences between the Libertarian Party and all of its other political competitors. Agree as they may on issues like civil liberties, war and economic reform, the philosophy of each political party is distinct and unbending. While the Libertarian Party certainly claims no absolute monarchy on all the avenues to freedom, we believe our platform and positions are most consistent with that of the true meaning of liberty in the United States.

This is the philosophy of liberty.

To dismiss this philosophy in the pursuit of consensus is a dangerous trend that third parties must avoid at all costs. To do so, for whatever reason, is to abandon the very core identity of the political party. Just as the soul is the essence of a person, the political philosophy of a political party is the foundation on which its platform is built. While the platforms of different political parties may overlap on some issues, the quintessential philosophy of each is wholly unique.

The maintenance of this philosophy is more important than any political coalition or victory. For without our philosophy, any victory will be hollow, and any coalition empty of meaning.

For every question, there is an answer, and individuals may arrive at this conclusion through many different means; some right and some wrong.

Libertarians may agree with Greens on the need for a foreign policy based on nonaggression, but it is for very different reasons. And Libertarians may agree with independents on the need for ending welfare reform, but again, for very different reasons.

The appeal of banding together with other third-parties may seem appealing on the surface, but such a compromise of the very basic values of the party would be no better than Republicans or Democrats and the compromises they make.

Only in the Libertarian Party is the principle of individual sovereignty, limited government and lower taxation the core philosophy of our beliefs. While we may share some issues with other political parties, we do not share our philosophy. It is ours, and ours alone.

Working with other parties on electoral reform and eliminating anti-democratic ballot access laws is advantageous for all involved; however, at the end of the day, we are still competitors vying for individual votes of Americans. A vote cast for any other political party than the Libertarian Party is a vote the Libertarian Party will not receive, no matter how well intentioned.

The power of a third-party does not lie in coalition building—at least for the true purpose of a political party. By the very nature of politics, political parties are competitors, regardless of ideological congruity or cooperation. Greens, Constitutionalists, Independents, Republicans and Democrats are all competing for the same votes as Libertarians. Coalitions may be beneficial for specific goals, such as electoral reform, or may make for good publicity; however, in the end, the restoration of the Constitution in the United States will come from a single third-party's rise in prominence that keeps the true philosophy of liberty at heart.

The liberty movement needs a single leader, not a nebulous consortium of strange bedfellows.

Trading the tyranny of a major party for the tyranny of a minor party is no desirable end. Only in a libertarian society will people be truly free, and only through the Libertarian Party with its libertarian principles will this society exist. No other political party has the platform or philosophy that would bring it about.

To assume that somehow a coalition of third parties will effect this change is to somehow assume all other third parties will abandon their own philosophies in accepting ours.

If we are not willing, then why do we assume they will?

Agreeing on a handful of issues is far from agreeing on the same basic philosophy of freedom in the United States, and it is only the philosophy of freedom that is truly important. It defines us, and will serve as a template for freedom as it has served in framing the Constitution.

There is only one party dedicated to the principles of the Enlightenment, and those principles that founded the American society: the Libertarian Party. Only through our candidates will true freedom be restored.

Until the philosophies of the other parties change, we must never accept any substitute for the freedom for which the Libertarian Party calls. Working with other political parties on electoral reform is a great idea, but there can be no substitute or compromise in our pursuit of political reform.

The Libertarian Party can never follow the beat of any drum other than its own.

As if the situation couldn't get any worse, LP co-founder David Nolan wrote an op-ed on the website, observing that the Barr's presidential campaign is over as of yesterday. He urged LP activists not to waste any time to remit money to the campaign, but urged them to support North Carolina's Michael Unger and New Hampshire's Morey Straus.

As of yesterday afternoon, Bob Barr's Presidential campaign is effectively over. There were signs of serious trouble even before yesterday, but his "no-show" at Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty news conference -- followed by an insulting suggestion that Ron should join Barr on the LP ticket in the VP slot -- demonstrated just how out-of-touch the Barr campaign is, and how poor Barr's vote total is likely to be.

In earlier articles here on I tried to give Barr every benefit of the doubt. I observed that in theory he should be one of the Libertarian Party's stronger Presidential candidates. I opined that while his pronouncements on the campaign trail were hardly hard-core libertarian, they were mostly to-the-point and well stated. I did not support him for the nomination, but I was more or less comfortable supporting him once he became the LP nominee.

Nolan, however, is planning to vote for Bob Barr and urges Libertarians to do the same.

By all means, vote for Bob Barr in November. I plan to, and I urge every Libertarian to do likewise. Whatever vote Barr receives will be seen by most people as "the Libertarian vote" and we want that to be as high as possible. And if you want to campaign for Barr locally, then do so. Print up flyers, put up homemade campaign signs, etc. But do not, under any circumstances, send any money to the Barr '08 campaign. Most of the money will be wasted, and the rest will be spent muddying the waters about what genuine libertarianism is all about.

Because of what Barr did the other day, this has signaled the death of the Bob Barr for President Campaign. The Barr train hasn't been pushed over the edge -- it's gone off the tracks and flipped over the ground. It's now in ruins. No amount of PR spin from the campaign, Barr, and the LP will repair all and any of this. The sensible course of action for Barr is to drop out of the race and apologize to Paul and his supporters while he's at it. The LP needs to forgo running a presidential slate this year and live with the political consequences once and for all. This is the price Barr and the party must pay, as they brought this mess onto themselves. Now it's their responsibility to clean it up themselves.

I agree with everything that Nolan said, except for his urging the LP faithful to vote for Barr. Why do you want to vote for a man who is NOT a Libertarian by any means? What do you hope to gain from this? This will certainly do nothing to help the Party and voter outreach. All of that has been destroyed by the Barr campaign. Any glimmer of hope that was once there is now gone. It's not coming back. Barr is an unprincipled, anti-freedom opportunist who does not care about the message of liberty. He has never seen and does not and will not see the light. That is a fantasy. Let go of it. You are only deluding yourselves if you keep believing it.

If the LP and its supporters had spines, they would drop Barr like a hot potato and forget about the LP presidential race, because there's no reeling back from this mess. Not for the longest time.