Archive for September, 2012

People come to the Liberty movement from a number of directions. Among our number, there are many lifelong conservative Republicans, Christians, Libertarians, and even Independents and Democrats who have been attracted to the message of protecting civil liberties, ending the corruption of the Fed, restoring a sane approach to foreign policy, and Ron Paul’s uncommon integrity and sincerity, a rare thing in politics at any level. Because there are so many backgrounds, it is sometimes difficult to predict how a certain message will be processed, which creates something of a challenge for any speaker not named Ron Paul.

An interesting example of this occurred the weekend prior to the RNC. Two major events had been planned for that weekend. The P.A.U.L. Festival had invited speakers like Tom Woods, Lew Rockwell, Chuck Baldwin, John Dennis, Peter Schiff, and Gary Johnson, and other famous personalities in the movement were also there, like Adam Kokesh, Wayne Paul (Ron Paul’s brother, ), and even Vermin Supreme showed up. The event had a definite Libertarian tinge to it as Gary Johnson signs were everywhere, and he made a speech that was very much tailored to Paul supporters in order to solicit their votes.

Meanwhile, due to what it deemed the ‘fringe elements’ present, the Paul campaign decided not to take part in the Paul Fest, opting instead to have their own shin-dig at the Sun Dome on Sunday, August 26th. While Tom Woods was apparently not invited to the Paul rally, there were a lucky few who got tapped by both events for speaking engagements. Among these was a curious man who I had not heard of before, one Walter Block, a professor of Loyola University and the Von Mises Institute. Professor Block is apparently a strong Libertarian academe, and the speech he gave on his theory of Evictionism as an alternative to abortion, was decidedly an exercise in Libertarian scholarly thought. The theory tries to find middle ground between, on one hand, Libertarians who say that a woman’s right to her body precludes the state’s right to protect the unborn, and those on the other hand who believe that all life is God-given and therefore it is not anyone’s right to terminate it. Block’s pragmatic solution is, in effect, to ‘evict’ the foreign ‘intruder’ from the womb and then try to save it via the latest medical advances.

The good professor gave his speech at Paul Fest to mostly a quiet crowd. There were audible rumblings from among people around me as I listened, but I detected no discernible booing. The next day at the Paul rally was quite another matter. As soon as Block started talking about evicting babies from the womb, many among the 11,000 or so in attendance began booing and heckling him. He asked repeatedly that people listen to his theory, saying at one point, “If an intellectual libertarian can’t come to a place like this without getting booed or hissed, that’s a disgrace!” Eventually, after several more painful minutes of attempting to resume his speech, he was yanked by the higher-ups. He writes about this experience on the Lew Rockwell blog . The next one to the stage was singer Jordan Page, who began his set by telling the audience, “Let’s be clear: evicting babies from their mothers’ wombs is not something we are advocating here today.” He proceeded to pull out a camera and take pictures of the crowd for the benefit of his wife and kids.

Liberty and Justice for ALL

What observation can be taken from this instance about those who identify themselves as Ron Paul supporters? Like the man they support, they are strongly pro-life and are not willing to yield on that issue to satisfy that branch of Libertarianism that appears to see nothing miraculous in the formation of another human. These are not the cold intellectuals that gathered in Ayn Rand’s parlor to wax on about Objectivism and the virtues of self-interest. No, these people are led by a doctor who delivered 4000 babies and who brings his children and grandchildren and wife of 50+ years in tow to every stop. Professor Block made a mistake when he assumed that these people were motivated primarily by property rights and creative forms of compromise.

Dr. Paul’s own position on abortion has been sullied in recent months as a result of a vote he made on a poorly thought-out bill attempting to put a Federal ban on the thought-crime of gender-based abortion (as opposed to regular abortion, which would still be legal?). The responsibility for dealing with those who take the life of another human is reserved for the States in the Constitution. He spent some time explaining on the House floor why he was voting against the unconstitutional bill, but, of course he was still slammed for it by Republicans who have themselves done very little to stem the tide of infanticide in the United States. Even in Clark County, I have heard from a couple of people in totally different contexts that our state committeeman has made a practice of bringing up this vote as a means to denigrate both Ron Paul and his supporters in the county. Ironically, Dr. Paul introduces the Sanctity of Life Act every few years in Congress, only to watch it fail to gain the support of these amazing champions of the Pro-Life cause. Our own congresswoman, Jaime Herrera, failed to co-sponser this bill in its most recent incarnation in 2011 (no word on whether Mr. Hart is also denigrating her in public).

The Life issue will continue to be an area of disagreement between some Libertarians and Conservatives, but I left Tampa with no doubt upon which side of the issue the Ron Paul supporters across the country fell, and neither, I think, did Walter Block. Rule #1 of the Speaker: Know Thy Audience.

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Columbian: Sign Thief Faces Charges

Posted: September 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

The Columbian is reporting today that John Ellis-Reisdorf, the man caught on video allegedly stealing a PCO Liberty Alliance sign, will be charged in District Court with a misdemeanor. Every time I start to feel sorry for this guy, I remember that he actually went back and took the replaced signs the evening after we took the video. If there was not media coverage all over the place about this fellow, he would still be out stealing signs and costing campaigns hundreds of dollars. Hopefully, the example that is made of him deters other would-be sign thieves as well.

To Catch A Thief – Epilogue

Posted: September 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

One really fun part of the PCO campaign that I never covered, mostly because it was so widely reported  elsewhere (see here and here ) was the incident involving John Ellis, the alleged political sign thief.  Mr. Ellis had apparently made it his mission in life to comb his neighborhood and rid it of political signs, wherever they might be posted on both public and private land. A number of campaigns, including those for Paul Harris and David Madore, had noticed a serious problem of missing signs in one area of East Vancouver that encompassed several precincts. They were at a loss in terms of a way to combat this problem, and so were content to chalk it up to unidentified Democrats and hang up new signs every few weeks.

Enter the PCO Liberty Alliance!

As three PCO candidates in that area had also found their signs missing and reported it, the PCOLA campaign leadership decided to invest in a camera and do a small experiment in a place where signs had been stolen on multiple occasions. Because most of the signs from the candidate in question had already been stolen, we had to make one out of spare parts (which was a comical process in itself). We set the camera up in an inconspicuous place, fixed directly on the makeshift sign. Schedules for staking out the location for the next several days were set up as well, but as it turned out, they were not necessary. Our Mr. Ellis took the bait the very first morning, only about eight hours after we had installed the camera. David Hedrick was also fortuitously in the area that morning and watching the sign and was able to follow the man and get further footage (see his video here ).

Once the video was taken, and Mr. Ellis recognized by people living nearby, PCOLA turned the information over to the police, who questioned him at his gym.  Apparently his story was that he was cleaning up the neighborhood of ugly political signs, and the police let him off, since this particular sign was posted on public property (those of us who saw the nearby site where he dumped all the stolen signs were a little more skeptical of this explanation). The media, including Victoria Taft, was less lenient, and Mr. Ellis found himself rather famous for a number of days thereafter.

The epilogue to this story is that since this incident and the following days of media coverage, that area of East Vancouver has once again become safe to hang signs. Paul Harris, who had lost a large number of his trademark yellow and red signs in that neighborhood, told us that he has had no issues there since ‘The Sting’. There has been a lot of inter-party consternation regarding PCOLA and their goals to change the party, but curiously, there has also been a steady stream of requests from among party regulars to borrow our camera.

I have long thought that once PCOLA’s goals have been given a fair hearing and tried, most in the party will actually be thanking us for making changes that others have always been hesitant to undertake. Hopefully, this is the first example among many. Perhaps there will even be cause to look forward to county conventions someday? One can always hope.

A Tale of Two PCO Meetings

Posted: September 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

This week, as a follow-up to the recent elections, we had not one, but two PCO gatherings. The first was hosted by the PCO Liberty Alliance, and the second by the Clark County Republican Party. As near as I could tell, the invitation list was roughly the same: all sitting and newly-elected PCOs, as well as the interim CCRP Executive Board™ members, and candidates for public office in Clark County.

The first meeting, on Thursday night, was fairly well attended by all three groups: PCOs, board members, and candidates. A healthy number of PCOs who did not run under the PCOLA banner came to hear the speaker, Christian Berrigan, and PCOLA’s plans going forward. The audience patiently listened as Christian explained the organization’s perspective on the local party, and as he laid out a few possible strategies for helping candidates, and voices from both sides of the political divide were heard.The consensus seemed to be that the meeting was generally positive, and many expressed amazement that so many PCOs were interested in helping, and that so many different factions were meeting and talking in a fairly positive manner.

A few points of contention did keep the meeting from being a unanimous G.O.P. lovefest, however. A request was made for voter data that has thus far been withheld from PCO-elects, apparently on the grounds that they might use the data against moderate Republicans (more on this later). Another voice in the crowd was concerned that the newly-elected PCOs were stepping on the territory of those who were finishing out their term, which ends in December. I was rather mystified by these charges, particularly given the repeated requests by the party for help from those same newly-elected PCOs, one of which appears in the letter from Stephanie McClintock that I posted below – the one that starts, “Hello PCO’s!” Any reasonable person reading that letter would conclude that Stephanie is not interested in waiting until December for the newly-elected folks to start doing the job they were elected for. The fact that the current batch of PCOs has been notoriously absent from joining and helping with campaigns also makes the accusations seem rather disingenuous. The candidates themselves seemed to be champing at the bit to get the help, and at one point one of them even offered his own data to PCOLA if the party continued to stonewall.

The second meeting was a picnic on Sunday afternoon. I confess that I was expecting a stronger message from Chairwoman McClintock to PCOs, and instead I got…a picnic. The attendance was less than at the Thursday meeting, and even a few of the board members who were at the PCOLA affair missed the Sunday gathering. There was some good opportunity for discussion both with other PCOs and with candidates, and generally most people seemed to be having a good time. It was both pleasant and…anticlimactic. Perhaps this is the best way to play what could be a divisive situation, in light of the fact that the candidates need help right now, and the party elections don’t happen until December.

Who is running this party, anyway?

The real issue of contention is not data sharing, or the feelings of outgoing PCOs. It is control. The moderate wing of the party has grown accustomed to calling the shots and having the support of the PCO body as a matter of course. They are also used to setting the agenda, telling PCOs where to go and what to do, and otherwise keeping PCOs completely in the dark about the direction of the party.  They are the arbiters of our participation and they are the ones who communicate with the candidates, and pick new candidates for us to work for every two years. Our job is to fall in line behind those candidates, to help develop the data for the party, and not to ask too many questions. Oh, and to keep voting them onto the board every two years. I have been told by a couple of conservative elected officials recently that the party is a worthless entity, that while they worry about maintaining their control and position, candidates are left to fend for themselves. I also heard from several establishment sympathizers that Christian and PCOLA are trying to supplant the party chair. In their mind, the establishment are the only ones allowed to have ideas, to have communication with the rest of the PCOs, and to speak to candidates directly. Anyone else attempting to have a voice is a usurper and an interloper.

These terms are being redefined with the advent of PCOLA. The candidates and the PCOs will henceforth have more direct contact, and there will be more direct accountability. It is already happening. The board will become what it always should have been: facilitators of the needs of the precinct leaders and the candidates. They will decrease in influence and increase in usefulness. One suggestion in the Thursday meeting was that instead of PCOs begging for data and info from the board, the executive director should provide the data without even being asked, as a service to new PCOs. This idea was so foreign to them, they had no response to it, except to think to themselves, “what leverage will we have against the PCOs in that case?”. A significant culture shift is going to take place, and some will welcome it while others will kick and scream and make accusations. The latter group will not prevail, they will only out themselves as self-seekers and power-hungry elitists. A party that is for small government and individual rights has no place for such people.

RNC summary

Posted: September 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

I assume by now that most have read what occurred at the Republican Convention last week. Among others, Matt Dubin did a great job of updating the action. What follows are just my own experiences/observations.

Going into the convention, the ‘Ron Paul strategy’ in the Washington delegation amounted to acting as ambassadors for the movement and engaging those who were willing in political discourse, while voting for the candidate to whom they were pledged. There was no plan to cause any kind of ruckus, and the delegates knew they didn’t have the votes to win, obviously. The internal conversations stressed decorum and a certain level of deference to Romney, given that he was the presumptive nominee.

The plan to mix with the rest of the delegation got off to a bit of a bad start when the intention to attend a Washington Delegation event on the Sunday before convention was nixed in favor of a Ron Paul rally that was scheduled for the same day. We had hoped to go to both events, but the Secret Service folks told us that there would not be time to give our bus the once-over in between. Given that Ron Paul was not being allowed to speak at all during the convention, this was the only opportunity to celebrate with the candidate that our delegates were pledged to. The choice was an easy one for us, but some of the Romney folks took umbrage at our absence at their Sunday events.

That evening, we all went to the hotel restaurant and began conversations with some of the Romney delegates there. Unfortunately, several of them had been there awhile and had started drinking without us, so that by the time we met them, they were both inebriated and resentful of our presence. This led to a few ugly conversations having to do with why we were not falling in line behind their candidate. Eventually, a few of the Paul delegates excused themselves, but one of them was cornered by the WSRP National Committeewoman who was in his face yelling ‘Romney! Roooommmneeeey!’ It was an inauspicious beginning to our week, and I think that some among our number were loath to renew that company.

We did have some good conversations with many of the Washington folks in the hospitality suite; and I met several who seemed genuinely glad to meet and speak with me. As with the party folks in Clark County, just sitting down and talking with people often reveals much more common ground than perhaps we thought going in. There was a definite faction of militant Paul-haters, but they usually just turned and talked to their friends when they saw us coming.

The news about the infamous rule changes came out over the weekend, and it definitely changed the tenor of the interaction for the rest of the week. The Romney campaign had essentially declared war on the Paul supporters, despite their overwhelming numbers. They had already disqualified a number of Paul delegates in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Maine and replaced them with Romney delegates in a rather arbitrary fashion, but then to change the rules to fill the delegation with only party officials, etc. was really over the top. Even many among the Romney delegates, particularly in Texas, were incensed over the Romney power grab. This decision did not reflect well on the Republican nominee, and I suspect he will lose some votes over it, despite the damage control that is being performed now in the party.

There were other examples of the Romney campaign’s ‘pre-emptive strike’ on the Paul delegates. There seemed to be a coordinated effort to keep Paul delegates from sitting next to each other. One rather comical instance of this in the Washington delegation was when Trevor Winton got up from his seat next to another Paul delegate, only to find a Romney supporter in his seat when he turned around. He patiently asked for his seat once business began again, but the woman was insistent that it was her seat. Trevor appealed to those sitting around them, and eventually the woman got up in a huff and went back to her seat. On another occasion, a few of the Paul delegates asked for people to scoot down so they could sit together, and were flatly denied by a Romney delegate who informed them that she ‘knew what they were up to, and she wasn’t going to help them’. A literal example of the divide-and-conquer strategy that we have seen so many times among the establishment. Treating Paul people like terrorists on one hand and then demanding their vote on the other is a curious strategy.

Of course, the brouhaha on Tuesday after Boehner railroaded through the new rules via his voice-vote decision was cast in the media and among the Romney delegation as the Paul insurrection they were expecting. I was asked on several occasions, including by various media, what the Paul people were upset about and why they were acting like spoiled brats. My response each time was that perhaps they should look into how many of the Texas delegation were actually Paul supporters, given that they were leading the shouts in unison for a ‘point-of-order’. The Texas delegation was filled to a large extent by Romney supporters, but even they could see the injustice in calling the voice-vote for the ‘ayes’. Their calls for division were completely ignored, as was the minority report that had been filed. Welcome to establishment politics. Only yesterday, the mayor of Los Angeles did the same thing at the DNC, but it took him three voice-votes to summon up the courage to ram his agenda through over their protests. The Republicans are a much more determined lot.

After Tuesday’s unseating of the Maine delegates and rules change railroading, many of the Paul delegates seemed to give up on their diplomatic friend-making plan in favor of an appeal to the media, who was only too happy to report on any unrest among the ranks of the G.O.P.  They held a press conference, and staged a delegate walk-out complete with chants of ‘As Maine goes, so goes the Nation!”  There seems to be a divide on this strategy that I think will continue to be manifested in the Liberty movement. Some will choose to publicize the unfair treatment at the hands of the establishment, and others will seek to mend fences from within via diplomatic means. Like any populist movement, there will be mistakes made by some, but ultimately, demographic statistics suggest that the Moderate wing’s hope that the Liberty movement will just go away is pure fantasy. The pendulum can swing to the left only so long before it swings back again.

I’m back from Tampa and have much to say about the RNC that I did not have time to chronicle during the long days of activities and late nights of listening to mostly vacuous, insipid speeches. Several people have asked me about the fireworks on the floor last Tuesday, and I will do my best to relay those events in the next few days.

Meanwhile, at home, one curious recent development in the CCRP that you should know about was that interim CCRP Chair Stephanie McClintock and Co. have decided to host a PCO picnic. The follow-up invitation arrived in my email while I was in Tampa:

Hello PCO’s!

Just a few things to update you on:

First, I have attached a PCO manual for you to read through. It is part of your job as a PCO to help Republicans get elected and I can’t think of a more important election than this! Our greatest need at this time is getting volunteers into the Victory Office making phone calls! The office is located at 9901 9th Ave #C-119 (this is in Hazel Dell behind Bortolomi’s Pizza) and is open from 10am-8pm Monday through Saturday. Please stop by and help out!

Second, our PCO Picnic is Sunday, September 9th at 1:00pm at Kline Line Park in Salmon Creek. Please RSVP so we know how much food to buy! Families are welcome! Thank you to Brad Palmer, Julie Longoria and Lynn Costello for offering to help with this event.

Third, I have received many questions about a PCO meeting on September 6th. For clarification, this is not a Clark County Republican Party sponsored event. Meaning that no one from the CCRP leadership is leading or organizing this meeting of PCO’s. Because of this, no official business can take place since there is no one leading this meeting that has a leadership role at the CCRP.

Lastly, I want to introduce you to the new board for the Clark County Republican Party that has recently been appointed:
Ryan Hart-State Committeeman
Anna Miller-State Committeewoman/Office Mgr
Sharon Long-Secretary
Dan Barnes-Treasurer
Julie Longoria-CCRW President
Mike Gaston-Executive Director
Mary Graham-18th LDD
Kelly Stoner-17th LDD
Margie Ferris-49th LDD
Justin Reilly-Parliamentarian
Tom Hann-Political Director
Garret Delano-Website/Tech Team
Peter Gilmour-Website/Tech Team
Chuck Miller-Initiatives/Fundraising
Dick Sohn-Office Admin/Signs
Lynda Wilson-Events/Fundraising
Lynn Costello-Office Admin/events

Thank you all for your work and dedication! I look forward to seeing you at the picnic! Please contact me if you have any questions.

Stephanie McClintock

 

 

I am told by long-time PCOs that this is the first time a picnic of this sort has ever been arranged by the CCRP. It appears that the party is very concerned about messaging and control in the wake of the PCO Liberty Alliance’s recent election success, and is attempting to assert its own leadership at the outset. If one of our long-standing goals was to make the office of PCO more central and relevant to the operations of the local party, I cannot but think that we have achieved that on some level, and we are only beginning.

One of the interesting things that Stephanie points out is that “it is part of your job as a PCO to help Republicans get elected”. I have had a few conversations with campaigns who tell me that they get very little help from the current body of PCOs. Ironically, many PCOs are having a tough time getting voter data from the party as well. Asking Precinct Officers to help in campaigns without furnishing them with voter data is akin to asking them to make bricks without straw. Why is the party withholding this data from its own PCOs?

The awkward commentary regarding PCOLA’s public meeting on September 6th also raised eyebrows. Were people actually asking Stephanie if  ‘official business’ was happening there, or does Stephanie feel threatened when PCOs gather in other contexts than CCRP-sanctioned events? The purpose of that meeting, among other things, is for local candidates to present themselves before the PCOs that they are asking for help from. Most new PCOs have received several emails from candidates soliciting help for various campaigns, but several of these candidates have had no dealings at all with either PCOLA or the individual PCOs. In the wake of the Unity Slate debacle, the terrible convention, and now the Romney power grab at the RNC, there is a lot of uncertainty among the grassroots that those in charge, including elected officials, are actually working on behalf of the people they purport to represent. PCOLA is working hard to provide a means by which these various groups can communicate with each other directly. Hopefully, this meeting will resolve any questions that PCOs may have about candidates so that they can feel good about volunteering for and supporting those candidates.

It was interesting to scan through the new Executive Board and once again find no Paul supporters on it. Requests to Stephanie for clarification as to why a group that garnered 28.5% of the straw vote in Clark County and just under a third of the new PCO body has zero representation on the board have thus far gone unanswered. I seem to recall having the same issue when trying to ask former CCRP Chair Brandon Vick questions, so perhaps it is a problem with the email system at GOP headquarters. Hopefully, we can get this problem and others straightened out by December.