For Gold, Peace, and Freedom


LPStuff Offers 10% Discount, Letter Templates

October 2nd, 2008

lpstuff-bumper-sticker.jpgThe Libertarian merchandise site LPStuff.com sent out its weekly newsletter today, but this time instead of just showing images of the campaign materials, it actually had a significant amount of content. In addition to offering 10 percent off all items in preparation for the upcoming election, the newsletter includes an interesting template for writing a letter to the editor in states where polls show that the presidential election will not be a very close race. There is also a rather humorous template for a writing a letter to members of Congress regarding the proposed bailout of fiscally irresponsible financial companies.

Meanwhile, in case you haven’t figured it out already, if you want to visit the LPStuff.com site, you’re supposed to click the brightly colored banner below.

As Libertarians, we are very interested in getting our message out to others. LPStuff.com plays a vital role in this effort by providing quality products that help spread the word about the advantages of a Libertarian world. Here are two ideas that cost you nothing and you can use at home to help.

Because of the way the Electoral College works, the presidential election is actually decided in very few “swing” states. In all others, such as Kansas (or Massachusetts), the outcome is a foregone conclusion. If you live in one of these many non-swing states, whether red or blue, consider sending the following letter to the editor of your local newspaper:
(Of course you will need to change it for your state and its “color”.)


Don’t Waste Your Vote

As citizens of the Great State of Kansas, we are lucky when election day comes. Because of the Electoral College, Kansans do not need to feel constrained by such base concerns as politics; we get to actually vote our conscience. It’s a form of freedom not shared by voters in the so-called “swing states.”

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Latest Ron Paul Letter Opposes Proposed Bailout

September 24th, 2008

no-federal-bailout.jpgAlthough it’s not exactly a major surprise, Ron Paul’s latest letter to his subscribers earlier today expressed strong opposition to a proposed $700 billion taxpayer-funded federal bailout of several large corporations that managed to get into serious financial trouble by backing questionable mortgage loans and other instruments of debt. Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain both support this unbelievably fiscally irresponsible proposal, with John McCain even going so far as to propose a new federal agency which would create an “intervention system” that would direct the federal government to interfere even more in the affairs of private companies that it already has in the interests of supposedly preventing another such “crisis.” Frankly, I would sooner vote for Obama’s socialism than put up with this piece of garbage!

Fortunately, we do have another alternative. Although Ron Paul correctly identifies the proposed bailout as fundamentally misguided, he is no longer running for president. But Bob Barr is, and he agrees with Ron Paul’s assessment. Bob Barr is the Libertarian candidate for president this year. He is the most qualified candidate we have had in a long time, and he understands that it is blatantly unfair to let major corporations off the hook for their fiscal irresponsibility when smaller businesses and individuals like us are not entitled to be bailed out at the expense of everyone else. You can check out Bob Barr’s campaign website here. Meanwhile, here is the text of Ron Paul’s latest newsletter.

Dear Friends,

Whenever a Great Bipartisan Consensus is announced, and a compliant media assures everyone that the wondrous actions of our wise leaders are being taken for our own good, you can know with absolute certainty that disaster is about to strike.

The events of the past week are no exception.

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Texas Libertarians Running Out of Yard Signs

September 23rd, 2008

libertarian-party-texas.jpgIn preparation for the upcoming 2008 elections, our Libertarian Party here in Texas is busy distributing yard signs, door hangers, and other campaign literature. Unfortunately, it seems that demand has outstripped supply at the moment, prompting executive director Wes Benedict to issue a call to members and other interested parties to contribute funds toward the procurement of additional materials. The current shortage is actually a good thing in some ways because it means that we’re actually getting our message out there and more people are beginning to take us seriously.

Fortunately I have a package of 10 yard signs left over from the 2006 election that I can still use this year because the signs are not dated or aimed at any particular candidate. I just need to remember to get out there before election day and find some appropriate locations for placement that will maximize exposure and traffic. Meanwhile, here is the text of the latest campaign update.

Dear Texas Libertarian:

The 2008 election is approaching FAST. We are trying to order Libertarian door hangers and yard signs, but we SIMPLY DON’T HAVE THE MONEY. We need your help NOW.

We are almost completely out of yard signs and door hangers now, and we do not have enough money to order and ship more.

Yesterday I had to tell two people who called for yard signs that I just couldn’t fulfill their requests. I was able to send them a few of our 30 remaining signs, but not as many as they were willing to put up. I hate not being able to provide materials to willing volunteers because willing volunteers are usually so hard to find.

We’re not totally broke. We have over $7,000 in the bank and a steady stream of funds from our monthly pledgers to keep basic operations going, but we wisely have a rule that requires maintaining a $7,000 reserve in the bank for emergencies. So, we have barely any spendable money.

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Libertarians Celebrate 4th of July with Fundraiser

July 4th, 2008

libertarian-fireworks.jpgEarlier today I received a campaign update from Russ Verney of the Libertarian Party which suggests that the current fundraising drive for July 4th is actually going pretty well. Two days ago, the LP sent out a fundraising letter asking supporters to contribute a symbolic donation of $17.76 toward the current ballot access drive in celebration of the American Independence Day. According to today’s update, it seems that the response was mostly favorable:

Dear friend,

Yesterday, you may have received an Independence Day message from Bob and a request for your support.

I am very pleased to report that many of you responded and it was our best fundraising day since we launched the campaign!

We are only $10,500 away from reaching our goal of raising $88,000 by July 4th!

If you have not already done so, please make a donation today of $25, $50, $100 or even $10 if you can.

If you have already donated, THANK YOU! If you can, please try to contribute another gift today so that we can reach our goal by Independence Day.

Thank you for making yesterday our best fundraising day ever!

In Liberty,

Russ Verney
Campaign Manager
Bob Barr 2008

Meanwhile, before I republish the original fundraising letter below, I might as well leave you with some food for thought. As most of you already know, the 4th of July in the USA is traditionally celebrated with ample displays of fireworks, along with apple pies, barbecues, and other assorted festivities. As my mother was talking about the possibility of fireworks celebrations this morning, I was reminded of the wild celebrations in Shanghai that I posted about back in February when the Chinese New Year rolled around (scroll down the CNY page about halfway and watch the first video to see what I am referring to here). Then my mother mentioned that the police were stopping and ticketing any drivers coming into our city of Corpus Christi who had purchased fireworks from the local vendors who were stationed just outside the city limits. It is currently illegal to even possess fireworks in the city, and people who are caught with them face fines of up to $2,000 for each piece of contraband that is confiscated from them.

As I put the proverbial two and two together, I realized that we are now in a situation where people in a supposedly communist country (China) have the freedom to celebrate with fireworks at will even in their largest cities, yet in many American cities like ours the mere possession of fireworks has been criminalized! And this holds true for the very day on which we Americans are supposed to be celebrating our freedom and independence. Does anyone else find this situation disturbing, or at least a little odd? Does anyone in this blasted country actually care about freedom anymore?

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Libertarian Party Gains Ballot Access in 30 States

June 20th, 2008

libertarian-party-logo.jpgThe Libertarian Party has announced that it has added Illinois to its tally of successful ballot access drives today, making it the 30th state to include the LP candidate. The party is expected to eventually achieve ballot access in 48 states, with Oklahoma and West Virginia being the most likely holdouts. Here is the official update from Chairman Bill Redpath:

Dear Fellow Libertarian:

Thirty states and counting!

That’s right, the Libertarian Party is on the ballot in 30 states across the nation and still on track to be on at least 48 by November.

Thanks to all of your hard work and donations, we are able to finish the ballot access drive in Illinois this week, and are continuing to work in Pennsylvania. In the very near future, we will be turning our sights to Ohio, Alabama, Kentucky and Maine.

But the fight isn’t over yet!

We still have 19 states left to give voters another choice for representation in 2008. While more than half the work is done, we still have a long way to go.

This is why we need your help in making sure the Libertarian Party is on the ballot in November for all voters!

Every dollar you donate to ballot access will be used to help spread the message of liberty to voters desperate for another choice in 2008. To donate to our ballot access drive, please visit our Web site at www.LP.org and contribute at https://www.lp.org/contribute.

We are also still looking for volunteers to assist with ballot access efforts in states that we have yet to get on the ballot. Every signature collected by a volunteer is a signature we don’t have to pay a petitioner to gather. This can save the Party up to $2 per signature!

If you are interested in helping out with collecting signatures to give voters more choice, please sign up at http://www.lp.org/volunteer.

Even if you are unable to gather signatures, you can help the Libertarian Party get on the ballot by donating at https://www.lp.org/contribute.

We thank you for considering donating to ballot access or volunteering your time in order to help the Libertarian Party get our candidates elected, and in turn, bring more choice and freedom to all Americans.


Bill Redpath
National Chairman
The Libertarian Party

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Libertarian Party Website Redesigned

June 10th, 2008

libertarian-pary-logo.jpgUnless you’re a libertarian political junkie, you may not have noticed that the Libertarian Party’s website was redesigned over this past weekend. The new facelift comes at an opportune time, as the LP has recently nominated former Republican Congresscritter Bob Barr as their Presidential candidate for the 2008 election cycle. Although somewhat dependent on the outcome of upcoming ballot access drives, Bob Barr is slated to achieve record-setting vote totals for the Libertarian Party this year. Here is the official announcement from the LP on the new site design:

If you haven’t looked at the LP in a while, you might want to take a look again. We have given the old LP.org Web site a facelift, and are proud to announce our new look for 2008!

The new LP Web site provides the functionality, utility and information needed to make the Libertarian Party even more successful in 2008, and the years thereafter. By existing as a portal to volunteer activities, information distribution and member resources, the new LP Web site will engage visitors in a way that was never possible before.

One of the most noticeable additions to the Web site is a live donation bar that currently is set to track ballot access for the LP. The interactive view, which allows visitors to see their name pop up on the front page of the Web site, makes donating to the Libertarian Party exciting. I personally took a screen capture of my donation to proudly display!

The Web site also makes volunteering easier to do with a simpler way to sign up with our volunteer coordinator. Additionally, it is easier to become a member of the Libertarian Party, or to renew your membership.

You may notice that the new LP Web site looks familiar, especially if you’re coming from the Ron Paul Revolution. That’s because the Libertarian Party was fortunate to retain the services of the SAME PEOPLE who designed Congressman Paul’s presidential campaign Web site!

We’re very excited about our new look, and hope you are too. The praise has already been coming in from many of you, and the Independent Political Report noted that the LP now has, “quite easily, the most functional and best looking website of any third party in the United States.”

Please take some time to explore all the new features that the Web site offers, and while you’re at it, donate to the Party and watch your name come up (or not, there is that option too!) on the front page!

In Liberty,

Andrew Davis
National Media Coordinator
Libertarian Party

Inside Barack Obama’s Iowa Victory

April 29th, 2008

democrat-donkey-logo.jpgThis article by Dominic Nanni provides a political science style analysis of the election results from the Democratic Party’s 2008 presidential primary. As you can tell by reading the article, this was written during the early stages of the primaries before the vote in New Hampshire had concluded. However, the information about the Iowa results still seems relevant because the current race between Obama and Clinton is still very close. For reference, according to the ABC News election results, Clinton wound up narrowly winning New Hampshire in the popular vote count but the delegate race was actually a tie; each candidate received 12 delegates. John Edwards received four delegates in NH but has since withdrawn from the race.

Well, after staying up all night counting votes, 100% of precincts are reporting and Barack Obama has harvested 37.6% of the caucus vote and thus has won the first contest in Iowa. In what seemed an allusion to Howard Dean in the 2004 Election, Hillary Clinton conceded the contest and congratulated Barack Obama. This victory is huge for Barack Obama and his supporters as they steam ahead towards the next contest — New Hampshire. Tackling Hillary Clinton on fourth down days before the Iowa caucus, Barack Obama’s message succeeded in the areas of change, electability, likability, and inspiration.

Upon entering the 2008 Election, Hillary Clinton sold herself as the “change agent”, as Bill Clinton described her. She vowed that, if elected, she would bring the necessary change to Washington and debunk the corruption that has plagued our capital. The only problem is that she was not seen as a change agent and if you look at history she is not a change agent. The last three presidents have been Bush and Clinton. Having another Clinton would not be change; it would be the status quo. Barack Obama took his message of change and cultivated his substantial victory over Hillary Clinton. “We are one nation. We are one people. And our time for change has come”, he said in his victory speech.

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Can Cultural Change Explain the Decline in Voter Turnout?

April 11th, 2008

voter-turnout-decline.jpgThis rather lengthy, well-researched article by Sarah Tenney analyzes some possible explanations for the overall decline in voter turnout in the United States over the past 40-50 years. For those of you who do not want to read through the whole article, you can check out my related news report from last year on an interesting case of voter apathy where literally no one showed up for a city council election and city officials had to address the problem of what to do when there are zero total votes.

In Controversies in Voting Behavior, Richard G. Niemi and Herbert F. Weisberg point out that election turnout in the United States has dropped steadily and significantly from a high point in 1960, when 65.4 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, to 1996, when the absolute level of turnout dropped to below half of the eligible electorate.

Researchers have found this result something of a paradox, given that major events since 1960 should have resulted in increased, rather than decreased, voter turnout. For example, the overall level of education in the United States has increased over the past half century, and higher levels of education have been associated with higher levels of political participation. Similarly, legal restrictions on voting, such as early registration requirements, have been reduced or removed, and the age requirement for voting has decreased. These developments, combined, should have led to increases in the rate of voter turnout. Yet fewer people are going to the polls each election year.

This puzzle has inspired many researchers to study a variety of individual factors that may account for the observed declines in voter participation. It has also inspired debate about the extent to which decreased voter turnout should be seen as a cause for concern.

Based on research findings on demographics and voting participation, many political leaders and scholars believe that any increase in turnout would come primarily from those who are less educated, have low incomes, and are predominately associated with minority groups. However, other researchers, such as Robert Putnam, argue that this is not the case; rather, the group of nonvoters is largely composed of younger and more residentially mobile citizens. Until we have a better understanding of why the rate of voter turnout has declined, it will not be possible to draw firm conclusions about the extent to which it should be seen as a cause for concern.

The quest to solve this puzzle has given rise to intensive research on voting participation in the United States, covering a range of topics, including demographics factors; institutional and legal factors; societal factors, such as negative campaigning; and individual factors related to attitudes and beliefs.

In this latter respect, many researchers have focused on individual factors related to turnout, such as trust in the government and feelings of political efficacy. However, to date, we do not have a complete examination of a broad range of cultural indicators in a single study.

This paper attempts to set forth a range of indicators that could be used to determine whether widespread cultural changes among the U.S. electorate may help explain the decline in voter turnout over the period 1960-1996. As this paper relies on aggregate data taken from the 1996 National Election Study (NES) survey, it cannot capture the important effects of generational replacement highlighted in the work of Robert Putnam. However, it can point to some areas for further study.

In The Civic Culture, Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba studied political attitudes in five nations, including the United States. In 1963, Almond and Verba observed: “If there is a political revolution going on throughout the world, it is what might be called the participation explosion. In all the new nations of the world the belief that the ordinary man is politically relevant—that he ought to be an involved participant in the political system—is widespread.” They set forth a theory that democracy requires a societal political culture that is consistent with its working principles—the decision making functions of political elites, their norms and attitudes, the norms and attitudes of the ordinary citizen, and his or her relationships with government and other citizens.

Against this background, Almond and Verba defined the civic culture as “. . . neither traditional nor modern but partaking of both: a pluralistic culture based on communication and persuasion, a culture of consensus and diversity, a culture that permitted change but moderated it.” They went on to note that scholars of democracy going back to Aristotle have stressed the need for active citizen participation, as well as high levels of education and information holding among the electorate.

In The Civic Culture, Almond and Verba assessed the political culture of five nations—Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Mexico, and the United States—by interviewing a cross-section of 1000 nationals within each country. These interviews focused primarily on respondents’

  1. knowledge of the political system,
  2. feelings about political structures and leaders,
  3. opinions about policy implementation, and
  4. their role as members of the political system.

As the interviews for this study were conducted in the United States in 1960, at the peak of voter turnout, Almond and Verba’s findings can serve as a baseline in investigating whether any widespread cultural changes associated with voter turnout have occurred in the U.S. electorate since that time.

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Do We Really Need a Tax Rebate?

April 8th, 2008

tax-rebate.jpgWith the recent discussion in the media about tax rebates and economic stimulus plans, some people have questioned whether the current proposals will actually provide any significant improvement in our overall economy. This article by John Cassidy argues that the current tax rebate plan may not make much of a difference and suggests an alternative method for stimulating economic activity.

As a standard disclaimer, I should point out here that I do not necessarily endorse the opinions or suggestions of this author personally. If you disagree with the article’s content, you are free to give your rebuttal in the comment section. Better yet, you can submit your own ideas as a separate article through the contact page and have it published right here at Karlonia.com! Doing so will allow you to have your say in the spicy realm of political free speech and can even earn you a free link back to your site if you have one.

It appears our economy is slowing down. Recent trends of consumer spending indicate we may be heading into a recession. In an attempt to prevent this, Congress and the President have agreed to give all of us a tax rebate. The idea is if we get an extra $600 we’ll go back to maxing out our credit cards, which will fuel an economic boom to the delight of Wall Street.

While I’m happy to get an extra $600 I do have a few concerns. There is this deficit thing that has grown so much the last few years. With the tax rebate plan and additional military spending, the deficit is expected to be over $400 billion. Such a huge deficit fuels inflation, puts us further in debt to foreign powers, and keeps us from responding to national problems. Think health care, education, collapsing bridges.

Plus, a measly $600 per taxpayer probably will not do much to prevent a recession anyway. For most people it will amount to a single monthly payment on their credit card debt.

There is a much better way to prevent a recession and it wouldn’t cost the Federal Government a cent. It’s time for trickle-down economics to be made to work. As President Bush has often pointed out, our economy has been growing strongly the last few years. The trouble is that growth has gone exclusively to the wealthy. The rest of us, in the middle class, have seen our wages stagnate or even slip backward. Higher food, medical and fuel costs have further eaten into our disposable income.

For a while we maintained our lifestyles by borrowing money. We’ve run up credit card balances, taken equity out of our homes, or both. Last year, our kids enjoyed another nice Christmas, but we parents woke up on New Year’s Day and realized that we were in financial trouble. We’re paying over 19 percent interest on those credit cards, and the value of our home has dropped so it’s now worth less than what we owe on it.

The only reasonable way for us to respond to this crisis is to tighten our belts and stop spending. No more big-ticket items: drive the old car for a couple more years, get along with the old appliances, eat out less, spend our vacation right here at home. We will have to practice this personal austerity for a couple of years, until we can pay down some of this debt!

But there is a way we can avoid this recession — trickle-down economics. It is time for the wealthy - which have done very, very well during the Bush administration - to start letting some of their huge windfall trickle down to the rest of us. Every employer in America should immediately raise every employee’s wages by five percent. In addition they should increase the size of their work force by an additional five percent. That would prevent a recession. A five percent pay hike for me would make a big difference in my paycheck. I’ve been getting along for the last seven years on one-to-two percent increases, and all of that has been eaten up by the jumps in my health insurance premiums. Give me a five percent increase and I’ll have some confidence in the economy. I’ll pay down my debt AND continue to spend a little. Multiply my extra spending by the millions of other middle class workers and we have an economic boom.

As we spend more, businesses will make more profits and the wealthy will see all their investment come back to them and then some. As Harry Truman once said: “Let it percolate up from the bottom!” For years the Republicans have been telling us that when taxes are cut, more revenue will come in, because it boosts the economy, generating more tax money. Won’t the same be true in the private sector? Won’t giving us all a big pay raise lead to generating more profit? Because, let’s face it, very little has trickled down for the last seven years.

Film Review: The Best Little Statehouse in Texas

April 3rd, 2008

texas-capitol.jpgThe film titled “The Best Little Statehouse in Texas”, narrated by Larry King, provides a unique view of the processes and procedures of the Texas legislature. The video also shows much of the backroom politics and influences that occur behind the scenes before a bill is ultimately passed or rejected. The film is successful in describing some of the personalities and political views of the various senators, representatives, and lobbyists. The video also depicts many of the conflicts and compromises that occur between opposing legislators.

The first section of the film deals with the issue of redistricting and the second part deals with a bill on the interest rate ceiling and briefly describes the power and influence of special interest lobbying groups. Larry King does a very good job of giving a first person perspective on the ways bills are actually turned into laws. From his viewpoint, wheeling and dealing, fierce arguing, compromise, and even personal attacks often are part of the process. Mr. King also illustrates the weight of lobbying groups and political influence on the final outcome of proposed laws.

In the first part of the film, Larry King’s portrayal of the behind-the-scenes events leading to the passage or defeat of a bill is most effective in showing that heated arguments and personal attacks can become part of the process. The first part of the film dealt with the issue of redistricting. Redistricting is done every ten years in Texas and is based on census results. This issue has become particularly sensitive because population shifts among the districts can result in a gain or loss in representatives in the legislature and can affect the distribution of political parties within the legislature.

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Gun Control Topics: Why Gun Bans Are Stupid

January 17th, 2008

gun-control-topics.jpgWhen we think about the topic of gun control, most of us Libertarians would like to see it associated with the proper handling of a firearm, especially if this becomes necessary while defending oneself against a tyrannical government. Most politicians, however, believe that they can somehow control guns by restricting or criminalizing their ownership, resulting in a safer society with less violent crime. Here are 10 quick bullet points (pun somewhat intended) that can be used to defend our basic rights of self-defense against the misguided politicians and uninformed sheeple. Meanwhile, for a good laugh you can also read my report from last August that pointed out why gun buyback programs are just as stupid and ineffective as attempting to ban firearms outright.

1. When it comes to house burglaries, muggings, or even killing a few “undesirables”, gun control makes the job of criminals much easier. Although most anti-gun people remain blissfully ignorant, criminals generally do not obey stupid gun control laws even though their sheeplike victims often do.

2. Historically, authoritarian politicians have really liked the idea of gun control. As with the criminals, their job becomes easier too. Combined with the right dose of propaganda, they can easily oppress the sheeple when the latter have relinquished one of their primary tools of resistance.

3. Although many people may not realize it, there were actually fewer school shootings when gun laws were less restrictive. Amazingly, putting up all of those signs that read “Gun Free Drug Free School Zone” has not created any magical forcefields around the schools that would repel guns or prevent people from “going postal” even though they were entering a school instead of a post office. And of course, drugs have not been magically repelled either.

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