Barr launches “exploratory committee”

Steve Gordon is in Kansas City this weekend, attending the Heartland Libertarian Conference. Presumably he’ll be providing coverage of conference events for TPW’s readers ASAP.

From the outside looking in, here’s the news on the front that everyone seems most interested in:

According to bloggage at the New York Times (confirmed by other sources), Bob Barr announced today that he’s (drum roll, please) ... forming an exploratory committee.

Barr’s newly launched web site also bears the “exploratory committee” label.

Don’t know about y’all, but I’ve never heard of a prospective presidential candidate forming an “exploratory committee” weeks after his party’s only primaries, less than two months before his party’s presidential nominating convention, and only seven months before the general election.

Then again, I’ve never heard of a two-term former US Senator and Democratic presidential candidate jumping the partisan fence one day and declaring for his new party’s presidential nomination the next day, either.

It’s turning into a very strange election year indeed.

222 Responses to “Barr launches “exploratory committee””

  1. Richard Winger Says:

    Plenty of important new/minor party presidential candidates didn’t enter the race until later in the year, in the past. Robert La Follette in 1924, Congressman Bill Lemke in 1936, Strom Thurmond in 1948, and Congressman John Schmitz in 1972 didn’t get into the race until June or July.

  2. Phil Says:

    His website is using the same money counter technology as the Ron Paul website did. Is this evidence that they campaigns are in cahoots?

  3. Mike Gillis Says:

    Not a bad bit of media coverage. Certainly dwarfs all of the press that Root likes to brag about getting.

    Barr’s getting more press in a few hours than any other third party challenger, short of Ralph Nader’s independent run.

    And they’re doing one thing with Barr that they’ve also only usually done for Nader. They ask the major party candidates and their reps what they think of the Barr candidacy.

    Clearly he’s viewed by the GOP and the McCain camp as something of a factor. That should be a sign to Libertarians that he’s doing something right.

    The Green Party leadership has already made the mistake of not backing Nader this year and backing an under-the-radar campaign that gets little to no press.

    I hope that the Libertarians don’t make the same mistake.

    I’m a hardcore lefty and certainly no libertarian, but Bob Barr is clearly the best candidate for the LP this year.

  4. Mike Says:

    Phil, the websites are created by the same company. I’m not sure if it means anything but that is the case.

  5. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Richard,

    Acknowledged … but that’s just the thing. Barr isn’t “entering the race.” He’s forming an “exploratory committee.”

    The usual purpose of an exploratory committee is to “test the waters”—to determine what level of support there might be for a candidacy. Barr has been “testing the waters” for more than a year, traveling around the country speaking at LP events and dodging “the question” of whether or not he will run. To the extent that polling is done on Libertarian races, he’s already been included in that polling for some time now.

    Today is April 5th. On or around May 25th, only 50 days from now, the LP will choose its nominee, and Barr is only just now admitting that he’s decided to start “exploring.” He’s also got hands-down the most mealy-mouthed set of position papers I’ve ever seen up on his web site.

    It almost looks like Barr is trying to screw this up as badly as possible. If so, he’s succeeding. But if he doesn’t want to run this year (smart move), why doesn’t he just say so instead of playing the Mario Cuomo game?

  6. Eric Dondero Says:

    Think about this from a historical perspective. Never before in the 36 year history of the Libertarian Party have you seen so many top-notch candidates seeking the LP’s Presidential nomination.

    This is astonishing. Let’s review:

    1972 – John Hospers (no competition)

    1976 – Roger MacBride vs. John ??? (A Gay guy from California – forget his name?)

    1980 – Ed Clark vs. Bill Hunscher

    1984 – David Bergland, Earl Ravenal, Gene Burns & Mary Ruwart

    1988 – Ron Paul vs. Russell Means

    1992 – Andre Marrou vs. Dick Boddie

    1996 – Harry Browne vs. Jacob Hornberger

    2000 – Harry Browne vs. Don Gorman

    2004 – Michael Badnarik, Gary Nolan & Aaron Russo

    2008 – Bob Barr, Mike Gravel, Wayne Root, Mary Ruwart, Steve Kubby, Michael Jingozian, & George Phillies

    Nothing compares to 2008. 1988 is not bad. 1980 was okay too. But not even in the same ballpark as the 1988 LP Presidential Nominating race.

    We do indeed live in exciting times.

  7. Mike Gillis Says:

    He’ll run.

    People who form exploratory committees nearly always run. The only person I know of that did and didn’t run was Donald Trump in 1996 for the Reform Party nomination. And he had to fall flat on his face and get zero support for that to happen.

    Barr clearly has a great deal of support within the LP and as we saw in the last polls, he could immediately become the frontrunner upon announcing his candidacy. Hell, he’s raised more money from individual donors than any other LP candidate in the few hours since announcing. (The only acception is Gravel, who has been running as a major party candidate for well over a year).

    I’m not exactly sure why he doesn’t just announce, unless he wants to do so on a national stage, rather than at an LP conference. But he’d be better off just announcing already.

  8. Mike Gillis Says:

    Dondero, you forgot to list Imperato and Milnes for 2008. :)

  9. The Libertarian Guy Says:

    Man, could the 2008 dog’n’pony show get any more interesting?

    Maybe not. The press will bend over forwards to either ignore or demonize Barr, or whoever the LP picks. Of course, the Republicans will bitch and gripe about “stealing votes” just the way the Dems are over nutcase Nader.

    Bread and circuses time. I’m stocking up on beer.

  10. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Eric,

    Yes, it is interesting that we have so many candidates vying for the nomination this year (and that so many of them possess some level of credibility). Thanks for putting together that timeline and candidate list.

    One of the things I find most interesting about the list is that the hands-down highest vote-getter was the candidate who ran the most “leftist” campaign.

    Ed Clark called himself a “low-tax liberal.” He ran on a platform that included unilateral nuclear disarmament. And one of his premier endorsers—appeared in his campaign ads, wrote the forward for his campaign book, etc.—was Democrat Eugene McCarthy, the anti-war candidate who drove the sitting incumbent, LBJ, out of the 1968 Democratic nomination race by pulling 42% of the popular vote, and 20 of 24 delegates, in the New Hampshire primary.

    Yeah, Clark had more money than other LP candidates, but I’m beginning to wonder if that was really the secret of his success. I’m beginning to thing that perhaps where the LP has failed is in its insistence on running Republican Retreads and trying to out-conservative the conservatives.

  11. Skyler McKinley Says:

    What’s funny is that two “candidates” in third parties both had roles in the same movie.

    Alan Keyes and Bob Barr were in the film ‘Borat.’ I know that Congressman Barr isn’t technically a candidate yet, it’s still an interesting fact.

  12. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Phil,

    I noticed that about Barr’s web site, too, and as someone mentioned it’s probably an artifact of the fact that the same web company—Terra Eclipse—did both Paul’s site and Barr’s.

    I don’t think it necessary reflects any “collusion,” though—I seem to recall that Terra Eclipse gave a presentation at the LSLA conference in Vegas in February, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a number of LP candidates using them for web site creation/management. They did a great job with Paul’s site, after all.

  13. Peter Orvetti Says:

    Here are a few more press links on Barr:

    AP
    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5jGwp22QlX2kmePoy02e4pTBLwWwAD8VRUCDO0

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution
    http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/metro/stories/2008/04/05/barr_0406WEB.html

    The Hill
    http://thehill.com/campaign-2008/barr-launches-presidential-exploratory-committee-2008-04-05.html

  14. Alex Peak Says:

    This is probably as good a time as any to mention that the Libertarian Party presidential candidate for 2008 will certainly either be Dr. Mary J. Ruwart or Mr. Bob Barr. No one else running for the Libertarian nomination has a shot. :)

  15. Alex Peak Says:

    That smiley makes me seem happy, whereas my intention was to imply politeness. Eh. :)

  16. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Alex,

    Right up until today, I’d have said “if Barr’s in, it’s over.” I was also looking forward to working as hard as I could to support him after the nomination (even though I wouldn’t be supporting him for the nomination).

    Now I’m not so sure. Barr’s still playing Mario Cuomo with the whole “exploratory committee” thing. I don’t think that non-committal will play well. The hour is getting late.

    And on the issues … where the hell’s the beef? Talk about lukewarm, milquetoast, non-inspiring pablum. The only thing he really comes out FOR, ANYWHERE, is the “Fair” Tax. That happens to be a 100%, no-compromise dealbreaker for me. I’m sure it isn’t for many others, but neither do I think that Libertarians (even those who mistakenly support the “Fair” Tax) will find it particularly inspiring to have a candidate who very carefully stands for nothing in particular except that.

  17. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Barr’s website is amazing for its near-total lack of specificity in its issues section. Trying to grok it is like trying to carefully dissect a feather pillow. The one place where he does take a solid stand is to support a national sales tax. How is that Libertarian, exactly?

  18. David F. Nolan Says:

    I tend to agree with Alex Peak, but I don’t think you can count Root out just yet. He’s been campaigning hard, and is more libertarian than Barr on some issues—see his recent statement about legalizing drugs, which is far more hard-line than Barr’s stance. If he’d just ditch that idiotic phrase “Islamo-Fascism” and shape up on foreign policy, he’d be a pretty decent candidate. Not great, but pretty decent.

    My projection as of today: Root and Barr will duke it out at the convention for the support of the party’s “right wing,” and the winner of that fight will face off against Ruwart for the nomination. Winner: ?????

  19. Susan Hogarth Says:

    “...which is far more hard-line than Barr’s stance”

    What IS Barr’s stance? Does anyone have it in writing?

  20. Robert Milnes Says:

    Ok, I’ve had time to think about this. I’m VERY suspicious, almost convinced that there is a government/Ron Paul/Bob Barr thing going on. Whether they or one is a dupe or complicit I’m not sure. Probably Paul dupe, Barr complicit. The purpose is to sabotage the LP presidential nomination. The Reason: to sabotage a possible progressive alliance victory. I’m having computer problems so I’ll continue this.

  21. Laura Says:

    I would have liked for Bob Barr to just announce that he is running rather than this exploratory committee status. I hope he announces really soon.

    I understand why he’s taking a mainstream approach to his stands on the issues. He is not going to allow the media to paint him as a fringe candidate. He is serious about getting the most votes possible.

  22. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Laura,

    He’s not taking a “mainstream” approach to his stands on the issues. He’s just avoiding taking any stands on the issues at all. Big difference.

  23. Hugh Jass Says:

    I was supporting Barr until that advocacy for the “Fair” Tax was put on his campaign website. Now, I’m undecided between Barr and Ruwart, whose principled but not as likely to capitalize on the Paulite vote.

  24. No Longer a Reform Party Member Says:

    Barr and the Seven Dwarfs….

  25. Phil M Says:

    There’s a very simple reason why Barr’s going the exploratory committee route: more press time. He’s going to need all he can get.

    As to him being very general on the issues, that’s my one big problem with his campaign: he’s trying to be everything for everyone. He thinks he can be the anti-McCain for disillusioned right-wingers and the libertarian at the same time. Paul tried that in New Hampshire and it failed horribly. I do think that he will stop that or at least do it more subtlety as the convention draws nearer and he realizes that the nomination of the party that nominated Michael Badnarik is not going to be so easy for him to get.

  26. Thomas M. Sipos Says:

    Dondero: “Never before in the 36 year history of the Libertarian Party have you seen so many top-notch candidates seeking the LP’s Presidential nomination.”

    It’s not because they’re necessarily Libertarian. It’s because they covet our excellent ballot access.

    That’s why I don’t trust the newbies. Do they love us for us—or are they gold-diggers after our ballot access?

    Milnes: “I’m VERY suspicious, almost convinced that there is a government/Ron Paul/Bob Barr thing going on. ... The purpose is to sabotage the LP presidential nomination. The Reason: to sabotage a possible progressive alliance victory.”

    Yes, of course. Because you’re so close to snagging both the LP and Green nominations, after which the White House is as good as yours. No wonder the feds focus so much attention on you and your sure-fire winning strategy.

  27. Robert Milnes Says:

    phil, mike & Tom, you notice the Paul & Barr websites are by the same company. Tom, you offer your observation that by far the best campaign votes was a left campaign, Ed Clark 1980. This is consistent with the progressive alliance strategy of deliberately seeking the leftist vote. The display of donations similar. The effect of all those donations will also be similar-a diversion of funding & support (volunteers) FROM the REAL LP candidates, particularly ME. Just for the record, my trailer is across a stretch of highway leading to a N-S interstate & a bridge to Pennsylvania. It is higher than the ground it goes over (elevated). Recently a LOT of trees were cut down between the highway & my trailer creating a clearing. It crossed my mind that somebody could have a clear close advantageous-looking down, shot at my trailer from there. One other thing, after the way I was treated by the FBI & U.S. attorneys, I have great anger & hatred for them festering in my heart. My judge was a dupe, federal defender also. On the other hand, at least one headshrinker in FCI Butner was concientious. & my parole officer was a genuine caring good guy. Tough but cool by me. & I don’t particularly give a rat’s ass what you loser/critics say.

  28. Phil M Says:

    And to those complaining about Barr’s position statements, you should look at Ruwart’s, especially this gem:

    “As president, I will jump-start the economy by drastically slashing wasteful government spending.”

    As someone who has just finished taking an introductory macroeconomics course, that really makes me cringe.

  29. Phil M Says:

    Milnes, read this from Terra Eclipses website:

    “This morning TE launched a new exploratory committee site for Mr. Bob Barr, who is potentially seeking the Libertarian nomination for President. This should be a great endeavor!Bob Barr Mr. Barr is an incredibly sincere and friendly guy, having already called us personally on multiple occasions to thank us for the hard work. Also much thanks to Jennifer Chambrin & Steven Gordon, who have been working hard with us all week to get the site launched. We at TE look forward to the general election where we hope to send another strong message of “Liberty for America.””

    Did you catch that about “Steven” Gordon? I think we’ve finally uncovered the TRUE mastermind of this conspiracy!

  30. Jim Lesczynski Says:

    I am very disappointed in the “Fair Tax” nonsense making it into Barr’s issues. I hope someone can talk some sense into him. I’ve been cautiously excited about the prospect of his Barr campaign; I’ve been hoping that a couple of years hanging around the LP would have caused some libertarianism to rub off on him by now. I’m thinking if he doesn’t start throwing some meat to the LP base, the honeymoon will be over before the nominating convention.

    Maybe that’s why he’s going with an Exploratory Committee. He knew he wanted to run a middle-of-the-road, libertarian-extra-light campaign, and he wants to see if there will be any backlash before risking the possible embarrassment of losing the nomination.

    Come on, Bob. It’s not too late to stiffen your spine and stake out some real libertarian positions.

  31. Robert Milnes Says:

    Lunatic fringe losers.

  32. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Phil,

    Gordon has never hidden the fact that he’s been involved in a possible Barr campaign. He’s held some of the goings-on a little close, but shared what information he felt he could share without violating confidences.

    For that matter, I’ve been less forthcoming on that kind of thing than Steve has—I’ve been directly involved with at least four of the presidential campaigns, at least to the extent of writing some portion of the material they’ve used on their web sites, and two of those campaigns are exactly the LAST ones you’d expect.

  33. Thomas M. Sipos Says:

    I think a national sales tax is preferable, not as an end in itself, but as a temporary replacement of the current tax system. It’s less discriminatory and offers greater privacy.

    Here, I explain why this is so.

  34. Jared Says:

    Barr’s website makes it look like he’s running for the Republican nomination.

  35. Phil M Says:

    Tom, I’m just fooling with Milnesey.

  36. Susan Hogarth Says:

    “...a national sales tax is preferable, not as an end in itself, but as a temporary replacement…”

    HAHAHAHA. Hoo, boy, that’s funny!

    And people say radicals are unrealistic!

  37. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Thomas,

    Actually, the “Fair” Tax would offer less, not more privacy than the current system. Under the current system, at least some people don’t fill out returns. Under the “Fair” Tax, every man, woman and child in the US would be enrolled in the welfare program (the “prebate”) that’s part of the program—and naturally there would have to be an investigative/enforcement unit to combat fraud.

    There’s no way in which the “Fair” Tax is a pro-liberty improvement over the income tax. It’s allegedly neutral with respect to revenue. It advertises itself as even more “progressive” than the income tax. As the price of “eliminating the IRS,” it would create at least 52 new intrusive government bureaucracies (50 at the state level to collect the tax, plus the welfare administration program, plus a federal gang to handle interstate tax fraud). And that’s before we start talking about its opponents lying about the actual rate of the tax (30%, not 23%), the raid-upon-liquidation it would impose on savings/investments made before the tax, and the complete wreckage it would create in the manufacturing sector for durable/resaleable products like cars and homes.

    The “Fair” Tax is a big government welfare scam, period, end of story. It’s not libertarian, it’s not close to libertarian, and it’s not even soft-line “smaller government.”

  38. Nigel Watt Says:

    I got way less enthusiastic about Barr when I saw that he supports the FailTax.

  39. Thomas M. Sipos Says:

    Actually, Susan, most of my critics consider me a radical. I’m even planning to vote for you at the convention, because of the war and platform restoration issues.

    Yes, that’s right. You have Fair Tax supporters among your voting base. Go figure.

  40. Mark (Libertarian for Obama) Says:

    Thomas Knapp said:
    “I’m beginning to think that perhaps where the LP has failed is in its insistence on running Republican Retreads and trying to out-conservative the conservatives.”

    I tend to agree with you. While I’m sure that there are a lot of conservative Republicans who agree with the LP on many issues, conservative Republicans value loyalty and love to rally around a winner. People who vote for third party candidates are more likely to be iconoclasts and free thinkers – i.e. liberals.

  41. Robert Milnes Says:

    Phil M., S.G. is more the dupe type IMO.

  42. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Actually, Thomas, I also consider you (mostly) radical. This FT thing totally amazes me. It’s a side of you I never expected.

    But thanks for your vote, and I hope to see you in Denver. I hope you’ll be voting for Ruwart!

  43. Alex Peak Says:

    Mr. Jass:

    I believe Dr. Ruwart has as much potential to reach out to Ron Paul supporters as Mr. Barr.

    I must admit, though, that I do wish Dr. Ruwart would adopt the same donation-counter as Paul and Barr. She should get in touch with Terra Eclipse. Her website need work.

    Mr. M:

    I see little value in macroeconomics. They waste so much time “teaching” Keynesianism, cramming his silly notion that increased government spending can bring us out of a recession and his silly notion that inflation is good, that I’d recommend people just not take such courses. One’s time is better spent reading a book by Henry Hazlitt.

    Cheers,
    Alex Peak

  44. G.E. Says:

    Erggh… National sales tax? I wish I would have read that before I made a small donation.

  45. G.E. Says:

    Yeah, he’s also wrong to say “the Fair Tax would require the repeal of the 16th amendment that authorizes Congress to levy an income tax.”

    This is not true on several counts.

    1) The Fair Tax would NOT require this, and one of the “best things” [sic] about the Fair Tax is that it wouldn’t require a constitutional amendment, which is seen as too onerous.

    2) Repealing the 16th amendment would only strike down Congress’s ability to tax rental income. Taxes on wages and salaries have been ruled indirect taxes, and thus, Congress had the authority to tax them prior to the 16th.

    What’s needed is a constitutional amendment that strictly limits Congress’s ability to tax; not merely a repeal of the 16th.

  46. G.E. Says:

    It just dawned on me.

    Barr is not going to be the nominee.

    His support for the Fair Tax will do him in, imo.

  47. Thomas M. Sipos Says:

    Susan, I may vote for Ruwart. I’m lukewarm in favor of Kubby, Ruwart, Phillies…and I’m open to listening to Gravel and Barr. But my real passion is still reserved for Ron Paul or Karen Kwiatkowski.

    The Fair Tax is flat. It can’t manipulate the economy with deductions and such. This would go far in disempowering the State, since much of the State’s power (and bribe money from lobbyists) comes from its power to punish unfriendly businesses and reward friendly ones.

    A Fair Tax doesn’t require filing (except by businesses), so it’s pro-privacy.

    It’s non-discriminatory (married and singles, gays and straights, those with or without children) pay the same % tax.

    As for the criticism that it’ll only be a new tax, not a replacement. Well, I wouldn’t support the Fair Tax unless there was a simultaneous elimination of the income, capital gains, corporate, and gift & estate taxes. A tradeoff.

    As for the criticism that you don’t gain on privacy because of prebates, I don’t like the prebates part. There are many Fair Tax variations, and I’d prefer no prebates. But it’s the carrot to get “progressives” on board. Even so, you wouldn’t be required to apply for prebates. The govt won’t force you to file to accept money. Not like now, where you’re a criminal if you don’t file on the income tax.

  48. G.E. Says:

    Phil M – You just took a course in Keynesianism. It will take a while for you to be deprogrammed.

  49. Brent Burk Says:

    Robert Milnes,

    You wonder why most people ignore you? A conspiracy by Paul and Barr to sabotage the almost non-existent Progressive vote in the Libertarian party? Really now.

  50. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Thomas,

    You write:

    “The Fair Tax is flat. It can’t manipulate the economy with deductions and such.”

    Yeah—for five minutes after it’s passed. It might take that long for the special interests to swing into action to secure exemptions for their “essential” products and services.

    “A Fair Tax doesn’t require filing (except by businesses), so it’s pro-privacy.”

    Except that it is levied on new, and not used, products, and it would take maybe a week before the state governments cited a compelling interest in close auditing of all sales to ensure that “new” products didn’t magically/fraudulently become “used” products. And another week for the federal government to discover the wonders of turning “new” products into “used” products by buying them wholesale in one state and selling them retail in another.

    “It’s non-discriminatory (married and singles, gays and straights, those with or without children) pay the same % tax.”

    A 30-megaton nuke is “non-discriminatory,” too. Inquiring minds want to know if you’re interested in deploying one of the military, rather than economic, variety against the US economy for that reason.

    The “Fair” Tax isn’t a tax elimination, it isn’t a tax cut, and the minor concessions it makes to privacy are peanuts compared to the price—hitching every man, woman and child to a government welfare program that will instantly become an even more untouchable entitlement than the architects of previous “put’em under the yoke with a check and then milk’em dry and count the votes” schemes ever dreamed they might be able to put over on us.

    And let’s save the worst for last: The worst thing about the “Fair” Tax is that seemingly otherwise sensible Libertarians keep falling for it. I can see the case for incrementalism in reducing and eliminating taxes, but the “Fair” Tax is exactly the opposite of that—it’s an intentional strengthening of the tax system in order to make it impossible to reduce or eliminate taxes.

  51. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Thomas,

    Yes, a sales tax might be the things you say… if it was implemented exactly as proposed (it would still be unacceptable to me, but for the sake of discussion…). But even so, the essence of politics is compromise – so setting forward a plan and saying “If it’s implemented exactly like this, we will be somewhat better off,” is hopelessly utopian.

    Our goal should be always to press for improvements that even if bastardized by the political process will leave us better off. Spending cuts fit this test. Tax cuts do too, but they should probably be less emphasized than spending cuts by the LP right now, I think. Introducing another tax entirely does NOT meet this test.

  52. G.E. Says:

    To all Fair Tax advocates, I say this: Why not work to repeal the 16th and replace it with a proportional tax on the states. Then let the states decide how they came up with the money to send to Washington. If your Fair Tax idea is so great, then let 50 states choose it. But if some states would prefer another method, why won’t you let them?

  53. Thomas M. Sipos Says:

    I consider the whole Fair Tax vs. No Tax debate to be hopelessly utopian, because I realize that a proper Fair Tax (one that would remove, or at least seriously lessen, the State’s ability to manipulate the economy) would never pass Congress.

    I’m open to any LP candidate who proposed either a Flat Tax, or Fair Tax, or Less Tax as an incrementalist alternative to what we have now. Sure, I’d prefer No Tax, but if the candidate’s antiwar, anti-empire, and pro-civil liberties, any of the above incrementalist approaches is acceptable to me.

  54. G.E. Says:

    Sipos – The Fair Tax makes every American into a welfare recipient. This is NOT an improvement.

  55. Thomas M. Sipos Says:

    G.E., I regard the old “proportional tax on the states” system another improvement on our current tax system. Fine with me.

  56. Susan Hogarth Says:

    What I (and others) have been trying to explain is that the Fair Tax isn’t incrementalist. It could only be imagined to be so if it was implemented exactly as proposed, and even then I could make an easy case that it was step back. It’s certainly not a step forward.

  57. Eric Says:

    Ummm. If you are hoping to snag the Republican defectors this fall, reminding them of Huckabee’s Fair Tax will surely nauseate them. It’s got me a bit queazy.

    I don’t think the disaffected hard-line social conservatives of the Huckabee crowd will turn this direction unless they can’t read. Then again, maybe they can’t….

  58. Robert Milnes Says:

    Brent Burk, how did you manage to disengage yourself from this fascinating discussion about the Fair Tax? Sadistic little kick Bob when he’s down? You got it almost right. Paul & Barr are screwing up any chance of the LP getting the huge available progressive vote. How much is just fool politics & how much is US govt. FBI/CIA/National Security Agency super computer think tank operations, I do not know.

  59. Wes Benedict Says:

    First, I’ll disclose that I’m a Bob Barr for president supporter. I’ve contributed $1,000 to his campaign. I’ve also contributed $500 to Mary Ruwart and $250 to Wayne Allyn Root; okay, also $825 to Ron Paul.

    As far as the exploratory committee thing, I think in some cases that’s done in the short term to make FEC compliance easier although there may be some other benefits.

    I don’t like the Fair Tax. I suspect Barr mentions it for political support reasons and very well may stick to it throughout his campaign. I’d prefer he drop the concept altogether, but if he feels compelled to hold onto it, I’d hope that he’d always mention that reduced taxes and spending is far more important than whatever method of taxation is imposed whether it be a flatter income tax, sales tax, etc.

    Bob Barr is no perfect Libertarian. But consider the others: Kubby condoning global warming hysteria, Phillies (make a list), Root (islamo-fascist hysteria), etc.

    Ruwart would make a great VP. The VP would have lots of radio and some TV opportunities and Ruwart would be a great communicator in this role. I just watched a one hour interview of Ruwart tonight on Austin-area TV (it’ll probably be available online in a few days) and I’m convinced she’ll do very well for the LP in that capacity and far better than any others I can think of.

  60. Susan Hogarth Says:

    For those of you still up, I’ve love suggestions on this VERY rough draft of a tax day flier I’m working on:

    http://picasaweb.google.com/hogarth/LibertarianOutreach/photo#5186011385859329554

  61. Wes Benedict Says:

    Go, Susan!

  62. Thomas M. Sipos Says:

    Susan, who’s the flier aimed at? It’ll please purist libertarians and anarchists. “Progressives” may insist, “But what about paying for things we need?”

    You may wish to insert something about the historically superior efficiency of private charities and the market. Not that it’ll convince most “progressives,” but still…

  63. Dylan Waco Says:

    Worth noting that Gravel is a fair-taxer too, and I would not be surprised if this move by Barr isn’t intended to guarantee that the very active Fair-Tax grassroots movement backs him over Gravel should it come to that.

  64. Robert Stacy McCain Says:

    The “exploratory committee” route is being done for legal/practical reasons. I don’t have any inside info, but the logic is pretty obvious: Unlike other candidates for the LP nomination, Barr is neither independently wealthy (like Wayne Allen Root) nor interested in running a shoestring word-of-mouth sort of candidacy. He wants to raise some serious Ron Paul-style cash for a campaign that will have a real impact in November. The “exploratory committee” allows Barr to raise big money without having to put aside the kind of media/business opportunities available to a non-candidate. Assuming that he hits his quarter-million-dollar online fundraising goal (and that’s chump change compared to what Ron Paul raised), Barr is in, and he’s in to win.

  65. silver Republican Says:

    There’s alot of support for the fair tax among Republicans, especially from folks who supported Huckabee rather than McCain. As such its a great inroad to another political group. In the end, going a little to the side on one issue will probably still have a very possitive impact when it comes to spreading the Libertarian message as a whole. Remmember, the biggest chance the party has to be sucessful is to have some of your views be accepted by the main stream. And they will be dilluted. But it will be a victory.

  66. Frank Rizzo Says:

    The Fair Tax is an abomination, but it does have non-trivial grassroots support. No doubt Barr is hoping to capitalize on it like the Huckster did.

    This is another example of why Barr will have a tough time getting many Paul supporters. One of the things that drew people to Paul was his uncompromising and principled approach, backed up with a voting record going back 30 years. Even if you didn’t agree with him 100%, you knew exactly where he stood and that he wouldn’t compromise his principles to pander to a particular special interest group. You can’t say the same for Barr. I don’t see the idealists who were attracted to the Paul campaign being similarly inspired when they examine Barr’s record and platform.

    The fact is Ron Paul supporters want to support Ron Paul. There simply isn’t another Ron Paul on the national political scene.

  67. silver Republican Says:

    And I would point out that Huckabee, a fair tax supporter, did significantly better than Paul.

  68. Derek Says:

    Remember, Democratic voters in FL and MI are almost certainly not going to get their voices heard. We need to reach out to them, that’s almost 4 million voters who must be pissed at the Democrats. And these votes could take the Libertarian Party to the next level if we know how to play the game. 3% of the 2004 Presidential election voters might swing the 2008 election. Just imagine: unsatisfied Republicans, unsatisfied Democrats (especially the ones in FL and MI plus some more if Hillary steals the nomination from Obama at the DNC) and independents. If we use the fiscal conservatism with the unhappy Republicans and social liberalism with the unhappy Democrats, you never know.

  69. Chuck Moulton Says:

    The Fair Tax and a national sales tax are severable issues. I agree that a sales tax is preferable to an income tax for many reasons—main among them privacy. That doesn’t mean I support the Fair Tax though with its horrible prebate welfare. And I’d be skeptical of any national sales tax replacement proposal due to the very real chance we could end up with both.

  70. Robert Milnes Says:

    Wes Benedict, of course you support Barr like a good goose stepper reactionary. You as a fool follower of the Paul/Barr mislead are an example of the problem. Entrenched reactionary mentality. Unfortunately there are a lot of you. Ronulans. Poor Teddy Roosevelt. When he tried to run again for president this sort of reactionary nonsense intruded, like bad weather. Speaking of which I hope you go on a scenic cruise in the arctic & a glacier falls onboard. I don’t know what your feud with Phillies is/was, but it sure is in the cards. Until Gravel, he was my pick as the most leftist/progressive possibility.-other than me of course. The best you rightist Ronulans can do is be spoilers & elect the democrat. Ha! I guess that could be seen as your just deserts. Enjoy!

  71. Jerry S. Says:

    Barr and Boortz must be golf buddies in an Atlanta suburban country club.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qI5lC4Z_T80

    the way it normally works, we’ll wind up with both…

  72. Laura Says:

    I’m a Ron Paul supporter who supports Bob Barr. I don’t like the Fair Tax but Paul’s “No Tax” position made him seem fringe and cost him votes.

    The most important issues for me are safeguarding civil liberties, ending torture, ending the empire, and protecting national sovereignty. If Bob Barr thinks it’s best to court the Fair Taxers, it doesn’t bother me.

  73. Bill Woolsey Says:

    Barr’s statement on foreign policy is good. I would like something specific about withdrawing from Iraq. I would like something skeptical about war with Iran too. But perhaps generalities are better than trying to list everywhere a war does not appear justified.

    I don’t like the fair tax proposal, but it is tolerable if combined with a smaller budget and lower rates.

    Barr isn’t going to win the Presidency and implement the Fair tax. So, worrying about what bad things might happen if the Fair tax is implemented is foolish.

    While I didn’t like the writing on Barr’s website much, I think it is clear that he is saying that the 16th amendment should be repealed as part of the implementation of the Fair Tax.

    There is no such thing as a tax that cannot be “screwed up.”

    I think Barr believes, correctly, that there is too much blind hatred of the income tax among Libertarians to get the LP nomination by advocating smaller government and lower income tax rates. So, it less spending, and a switch to a national sales tax.

    In my view, the key “anti-libertarian” aspect of Fair tax advocacy is the notion that government spending can be maintained at current levels with little pain. That absence of pain is a fantasy, but it is that position that is the problem. It is much the same problem with “supply-sider” tax rhetoric.

    But combined with a smaller government and so a lower rate, not so bad.

    As for political support, there was a Fair tax rally in Columbia, SC last fall. I went to a straw poll for Ron Paul. All my old LP friends showed up at the straw poll. They had all been at the Fair tax ralley.

    Personally, I think Barr has the best chance of getting Ron Paul’s support.

    In fact, it looked to me like his positions are based on the key elements of Paul’s message. (except the fair tax.)

    And, like I said, I don’t think that will hurt him.

  74. Eric Dondero Says:

    Tom, you’re welcome.

    You could be right. Maybe it’s best for the LP to run to the Left. But it’s not best for the entire libertarian movement.

    Doing so would just alienate the Right-wing libertarian voters, the Republican Liberty Caucus, Club for Growth, Economic libertarian types who are not as strident in opposing the War on Terror as some of the Lefty Libertarians seem to be.

    But then again, that could very well be your strategy. Knowing you as long as I have unity does not seem to be high on your priority list.

    I’m largely ambivelant. If the LP wants to split the libertarian movement in two with a Hard Left Presidential campaign, giving Right-wing libertarians no other option than to vote for McCain, so be it.

    That’s what happened in 2004. And a hastily organized Libertarians for Bush effort seemed to prove successful.

    With much more planning this time around, a “Libertarians for McCain” effort could have a greater impact.

    One would hope it wouldn’t have to come to that, though. Cause a united Libertarian movement would be much stronger in November, and could bring the LP millions upon millions of votes.

    A divided Libertairan movement, could keep the vote total back in the 400,000 to 500,000 range.

  75. Eric Dondero Says:

    Davie Nolan’s right. Perhaps “Islamo-Fascism” is an “idiotic” phrase.

    It’s much more accurate to call these Radical Muslims who want to force our girlfriends/wives to wear an ugly black burqa from head to toe, cut off the heads of American Jews in front of video cameras, jail our marijuana smoking buddies for life, shoot Muslim women who stray outside their doors unaccompanies in the back of the head in soccer stadiums, outlaw drinking and gambling, censor free speech rights of cartoonists and newspaper editorialists and stone prostitutes in town squares, better to cal these people what they are…

    Islamo-Nazis.

    Thanks for pointing that out Davie.

  76. Eric Dondero Says:

    Sipos this was an utterly stupid statement from you:

    “It’s not that they’re real Libertarians, it’s just that they covet our ballot access.”

    Wow! You really show your Newbie status there.

    Newsflash: The LP has had really good ballot access status since the late 1980s.

    The Party has not dipped below 46 states since 1988.

    Harry Browne had all 50 in 1996. (Dropped down to 48 in 2000).

    Wouldn’t it be more logical that following the 1996 campaign, going into 2000, the LP with their full ballot access would have been an even more hot commodity?

    Instead 2000 gave us Harry Browne vs. Don Gorman. (Niether mediocre candidates, but not as top-notch as the current crop of Root, Barr and Gravel.)

  77. Eric Dondero Says:

    So, there you have it. Sipos comes clean.

    He’s favoring the entrance into the race of the Lyndon Larouchie candidate Karen Kwiatkowski.

    For those who are unaware, Kwiatkowski is a former Larouchie publications editor and writer. Now she’s turned into a Ron Paul-type Lew Rockwell Paleo-conspiratorialist. Still ranting and raving about the evil (Jewish) “bankers” of course.

  78. Robert Capozzi Says:

    Coupla short takes:

    • Exploratory committee seems wise, though Barr should convert it pretty quickly. It’s a good way to test the waters, and creates 2 media events.
    • FAIR tax is not what I’d advise. I disagree with Knappster, however, on privacy. On balance, the FAIR tax is less intrusive for most. Yes a few can avoid the current system, but I prepare to base the analysis on the net incidence of coercion.
    • Agree again with Knappster that the LP should not come across as R retreads, which is why I find Barr/Gravel compelling in concept. If we only want Rothbardians as standardbearers, I’m for Hogarth/Starchild.
  79. Red Phillips Says:

    If Barr is smart, he should use half his resources to secure the CP nomination for neocon interventionist Alan Keyes. Then he will have the non-interventionist right vote all to himself.

  80. Dave Williams Says:

    You go Red.

  81. Dave Williams Says:

    Steve LaBianca

    HAHHAHHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAA….More living proof…

    Wes Benedict Says:
    April 6th, 2008 at 1:03 am

    First, I’ll disclose that I’m a Bob Barr for president supporter. I’ve contributed $1,000 to his campaign. I’ve also contributed $500 to Mary Ruwart and $250 to Wayne Allyn Root; okay, also $825 to Ron Paul.

  82. Eric Dondero Says:

    There’s a report that Wayne Root actually beat Bob Barr, by a few votes in a straw poll at the Heartland LP Convention post debate.

  83. dodsworth Says:

    He’s favoring the entrance into the race of the Lyndon Larouchie candidate
    For those who are unaware, Kwiatkowski is a former Larouchie publications editor and writer. Now she’s turned into a Ron Paul-type Lew Rockwell Paleo-conspiratorialist. Still ranting and raving about the evil (Jewish) “bankers” of course.

    Dondero hits a new low. This is a total lie from top to bottom. Notice, like Al Sharpton, you scream bigot against any and all opponents. BTW, because you worked for a “racist” for over a decade (at least according to you) does that make you a racist too?

  84. The Dylan Says:

    Look, this is great news for our party. We have a number of fine, principled candidates for the LP nomination and soon, hopefully, we’ll add a former Congressman and a true Libertarian leader to the list. In truth, Ruwart, Kubby, Phillies, even Root, would have more influence as Bob Barr’s running-mate than they would as the standard-bearer. So, let’s get behind our strongest ticket and shake the establishment in 2008!

  85. Dave Williams Says:
    1. Eric Dondero Says:
      April 6th, 2008 at 9:04 am

    There’s a report that Wayne Root actually beat Bob Barr, by a few votes in a straw poll at the Heartland LP Convention post debate.

    No shit?

  86. Green in Brooklyn Says:

    a year ago, there was much discussion about 2 or maybe 3 candidates from New York (Hillary, Giuliani-time and Bloombucks).

    Instead, we may end up with w former Congresscritters from Georgia. Who’d a thunk it?

  87. Dave Williams Says:

    Red Sox in Boston says: Yo whad up G?! I’m down wit joja! Yaea…crunk.

  88. Thomas M. Sipos Says:

    Dondero: “Doing so would just alienate the Right-wing libertarian voters … who are not as strident in opposing the War on Terror as some of the Lefty Libertarians seem to be.”

    What’s a “Lefty Libertarian”? What’s a “Righty Libertarian”? Dondero thinks Ruwart and Paul are lefties. Milnes thinks Ruwart and Paul are righties.

    Dondero: “You really show your Newbie status there. Newsflash: The LP has had really good ballot access status since the late 1980s.”

    Maybe it’s a “newsflash” to you. I voted for Clark in 1980, and have been aware of the LP’s strong ballot access ever since. Curious, how you try to twist and tease false meanings out of your opponents’ words.

    Dondero: “Instead 2000 gave us Harry Browne vs. Don Gorman. (Niether mediocre candidates, but not as top-notch as the current crop of Root, Barr and Gravel.)”

    I don’t see how Root, an infomercial host, is any more “top notch” than Harry Browne.

    And the “Kwiatkowski is a LaRouchite” lie is very old. You’ve hurled it before. You were called on it. Yet you hurl it again.

    BTW, Kwiatkowski was a Pentagon officer, so it seems you’re attacking our troops. So tell me, Dondero, why do you hate our troops? Why do you hate America?

  89. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Eric,

    Kwiatkowski has never been affiliated with the LaRouchies in any way, shape, manner or form that I can determine (and I spent several hours researching the issue a couple of years ago). She was once interviewed by a LaRouche publication (Executive Intelligence Review, which often interviews government and military personnel, up to and including cabinet officials).

  90. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    I just got informal word from the Heartland Conference that matches Mr. Dondero’s and Mr. Cohen’s: Root allegedly won the conference straw poll by two votes over Barr, with Gravel coming in third and Ruwart fourth.

    So far, it sounds like a pretty damn dark day for the LP.

  91. Andrew Murphy Says:

    Thomas,

    Kwiatkowski stories are pure fiction. If as she claims she has “proof” of a neocon cabal running the Pentagon, why didn’t she go running to the New York Times of the Washington Post with her story but instead her first interview was with LaRouche toadies at the Executive Intelligence Review.

    She can’t even get her basic real estate down correctly. She claims the Office of Special Plans worked out of the Pentagon basement which is incorrect it was located on the first floor.

    Furthermore, one has to be skeptical about how somebody who worked at the Pentagon’s Near East and South Asia directorate has all this detailed knowledge about what went on in the Office of Special plans, an offcie she didn’t work in and evidently didn;t even know where it existed judging by her statement that it operated out of the basement

  92. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Andrew,

    The Executive Intelligence Review interview was not only not Kwiatkowski’s first outing, but it seems that interview was never even published after she disputed the interviewer’s version of her comments. Prior to the EIR interview, Kwiatkowski had written an anonymous series of columns (prior to her retirement) for Colonel David Hackworth’s whistleblower site, an article for the Ohio Beacon Journal, a series of articles for Lew Rockwell’s site, and had done an interview with Asia Times.

    As to the veracity of the factual claims she makes, those are of course disputable based on evidence. Andrew Murphy’s claim that the OSP was on the first floor strikes me as no more obviously correct than Kwiatkowski’s claim that it was in the basement.

  93. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Ah, some explanation:

    Wayne Allyn Root prevailed by two votes over Bob Barr in the Heartland Conference straw poll … before Barr’s “announcement speech,” and after a candidate debate in which Barr did not participate.

    To put it a different way, Barr placed a close second in a poll in which he was not a candidate.

    Still a dark day for the LP when two Republicans and a Democrat, one of whom is a warmonger and two of whom are “Fair” Taxers, take the top three positions in an LP straw poll. If a Libertarian can’t do better than 4th in a Libertarian poll, we’re screwed.

  94. Andrew Murphy Says:

    Thomas,

    I know people who work in the Pentagon, the location of the Office of Special Plans was not secret. It was on the first floor with “Office of Special Plans” on the door.

    Ok she went to Lew Rockwell with her story and the Ohio Beacon Journal, but not CBS, NBC,ABC,CNN or the NY tImes, Washington Post, International Hearld Tribune.

    Just interesting

  95. Jared Says:

    I thought when Barr “converted” to the Libertarian Party I was under the impression he was actually a Libertarian. Now, according to his own website, he isn’t. The “Fair Tax” is one of the biggest frauds ever created. I can’t vote for anyone who panders/supports it. No vote for the LP this year with either Root/Gravel/Barr/Phillies for me. Writing in “Ron Paul” looks better every day…

  96. Andrew Murphy Says:

    Jared,

    While I disagree with you on Ron Paul, you are correct. the Fair Tx is a joke and as Bruce Bartlett has pointed out, the origins of the FairTax came out of the Church of Scientology

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB118800635034508655.html

  97. Baldur Kostadin Says:

    Root’s an Arab hating racist. You are arguing over whether some fucking office is on the first or second floor when you jacktards are going to put a racist as your nominee. Same fucktards who were crying when the Ron Paul newsletters come out. Root is so good on tv. So is David Duke.

    Barr at least gave money to fags Lindsey Graham and Larry Craig to make up for DOMO you Arab hating shits.

  98. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Andrew,

    Let me see if I have this right:

    The fact that you “know people who work in the Pentagon” magically makes your knowledge of the location of particular offices in that building superior to the knowledge of people who, um, worked in the Pentagon themselves.

    Do I have that right?

    As far as whom Kwiatkowski “went to” with her story, I doubt that you know anything about that, either. The venue of eventual publication is not necessarily the same as the venue which is orginally approached. Neither you nor I know whether or not the New York Times or the Washington Post received early submissions from Kwiatkowski. All that either of us knows is that they didn’t publish such submissions.

    All of which is neither here nor there. Kwiatkowski has not entered the LP’s presidential nomination race, and I’ve heard nothing indicating that she’s likely to do so. If she did, I can think of several already declared candidates whom I’d support rather than her.

  99. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Sipos worte:

    Susan, who’s the flier aimed at? It’ll please purist libertarians and anarchists. “Progressives” may insist, “But what about paying for things we need?”

    You may wish to insert something about the historically superior efficiency of private charities and the market. Not that it’ll convince most “progressives,” but still…

    Thanks for the comments. I may indeed want to insert something like that, but most progressives, it seems to me, have very little faith in private charity. sigh. At any rate, it’s way too long as is.

    It seems to me that outreach materials can take either of two strategies: to identify people who are libertarians but don’t know about the LP (the ones who’ll read that draft and say ‘Hell, yeah! How cool that other people think this way!’, or to try to persuade folks who aren’t libertarian to be (more) Lib. Mostly we try to accomplish both with one handout, which may not be the best strategy. Of course there should be aspects of both approaches in each piece, but to try to make an outreach piece appeal equally to both ‘already there’ libs who just need to find the LP, and to make people think “You know, maybe there’s something to this… worth checking into…” is really difficult.

    The former seem to me to be more likely to become activist Libertarians, and one of my big goals is to increase the number of those. But the latter are more likely to consider voting Lib when they don’t like the current choices.

    It’s difficult! Thanks for listening to my think.out.loud session :)

  100. svf Says:

    re: “fair” tax…

    kids, be real. the LP nominee will not win, but must get as many votes as possible to make an impact. you cannot do that taking the “extremist/pure” libertarian line on all issues. the “fair” tax has some credibility among the general voting public thanks to Huck, Boortz, etc. most people just plain don’t believe we can ELIMINATE the income tax flat out. Ron Paul’s failure to convince just about anyone of this is a case in point.

    to not support Barr simply because he advocates a vaguely mainstream alternative to the Income Tax vs. the absolutist “abolish the IRS” position is again paving the way for an irrelevant, less than 0.5% of the vote LP campaign. get real.

  101. Andrew Murphy Says:

    Thomas,

    My point is EVERYBODY at the Pentagon knew it was located on the first floor. Yet Karen claims she has all of this knowledge about the day to day operations of what went on in the OSP, if she really knew all this stuff, why doesn’t she know where the damn office was located when even the smallest peon in the Pentagon knew the location.

    I am not expert on the OSP but neither was she. Her knowledge of the OSP is obviously more gnostic then real

  102. Steve LaBianca Says:

    Fair tax, national sales tax . . . all this effort even discussing such ridiculous proposals misses the most important aspect of taxation . . . SPENDING Rearranging the basis of the current level of taxation is ludicrous. Tax cuts and tax elimination MUST be coupled with spending cuts/elimination. The so called Fair tax proposers do not anticipate the intrusions that will be necessary as the special interests fight over exemptions, credits, rates, etc, etc. The current “Fair Tax” proposal will very quickly become just as intrusive, and likely more so than the current “income tax” within 3 years of being enacted.

    Mr Knapp, you are right . . . if a Libertarian (Mary Ruwart) can do no better than 4th at a LIBERTARIAN conference, we have problems. However, the delegates at the National convention will decide, not attendees at a multi state LP convention. Calling all Ruwart supporters . . . GO TO DENVER and be a delegate

  103. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Also, while I’m busy self-promoting, I’m looking for three more peeps to pledge $10 each to buy shares in a $100 raffle ticket for the LPNM. You could win hundreds of dollars and give the LPNM thousands! Deatials here:

    http://www.en-gb.pledgebank.com/LPNM-Harley

    Only three more spots left!

  104. Andrew Murphy Says:

    Other whoppers by Kwiatkowski for you Thomas

    1) She claims Larry Hanauer was purged out of the Israeli desk office, yet doesn’t point out that Larry left the desk chair because he got a PROMOTION to be special assistant to Jay Garner.

    2)She calls her former boss Bill Luti, a “chicken hawk” yet Luti served in combat in the first Gulf War and had 26 plus years of commands of an aviation squadron, an amphibious assault ship and an amphibious ready group.

  105. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    svf,

    You write:

    “to not support Barr simply because he advocates a vaguely mainstream alternative to the Income Tax vs. the absolutist ‘abolish the IRS’ position”

    First of all, one of the main promotional claims of the “Fair” Taxers is that it would—ABOLISH THE IRS.

    Secondly, this is the second time in this thread that someone has attempted to posit an “only two possibilities” argument, where it’s either the “Fair” Tax or no taxes at all. Nice trick if you can pull it off, but you can’t. There are other tax proposals out there from other LP presidential candidates and from other non-presidential-candidate Libertarians.

    Let’s start with the fact that the income tax constitutes 58% of government revenues—so an elimination of it would probably cut government revenues by less than half after revenues from the other taxes (tariffs, excises, etc.) increase due to people having a lot more money left in their pockets to spend. So even the position of “eliminate the income tax and replace it with nothing” doesn’t amount to “no taxes.”

    Secondly, at least one presidential candidate (Steve Kubby) has stated that he’d LIKE to eliminate the income tax but that in the short term he’d SETTLE for bottom-up cuts to it (the “Fair” Tax doesn’t offer a cut—it claims to fully replace the revenues of the taxes it would be substituted for).

    Thirdly, the geolibertarians have staked out a reasonable position that if there are going to be taxes, they should be taxes on bads (for example, pollution) rather than on goods (for example, work).

    If the “Fair” Tax represented a tax cut, or a weakening of the tax system as such, I could understand why some Libertarians might treat it as an incremental improvement. However, it represents neither. It strengthens the tax system by tying it to a welfare program that once begun will be incredibly difficult to even cut, let alone end, and it doesn’t attempt to cut the amount of money which is taken out of people’s pockets and transferred to government. It simply has no libertarian or “smaller government” hooks at all. It’s a big-government gimmick, and no candidate who supports it is worthy of Libertarian support.

  106. Steve LaBianca Says:

    Mr. Nolan, the major problem with W.A.R.’s stance on drug prohibition, is that he is a “conservative” in his approach. I applaud anyone who sees the futiity of drug prohibition and supports repeal of such drug laws. However, does W.A.R. understand, the fundamental right of self-ownership, a libertarian concept? Or is his belief that the war on drugs is just a “failure”? Without core libertarian beliefs such as self-ownership, it leaves the likely possibility that a “conservative” like W.A.R. could support a different, coercive government approach to reducing drug use.

    By all means, libertarians ought to promote the futility and destructive consequences of the drug war, but such support on ONLY consequential grounds is powerless to rebut the innovative drug warriors who will promote a different government, coercive approach. This is just another example of consequentialist approaches to solving America’s problems being benign without core libertarian principles behind them.

  107. Andrew Murphy Says:

    Thomas,

    Don’t forget either about the FairTax that their is a ton of ambiguities that the supports have yet to address.

    1) No nation in the world has ever supported a national sales tax that high, most studies by the World Bank and the IMF find that retail sales taxes reach their a level of diminishing returns around 10% or so. Most countries that now have a VAT tax orginally had retail sales taxes but went to a VAT because the retail sales tax was not generating enough revenue and was casuing an increase in black market and smugglings

    2)Who charges the FairTax? Does the teenager who cuts your grass have to charge you a FairTax on his goods and services? Why not? A corporate lawn service will have to charge it for it’s services. Do babysitters count as “goods and services”

    The FairTax will be a just as complex as the income tax in the end. Also, they say it will eliminate lobbyists but how do they really figure that. I can already hear the egg,bread,auto,meat,homebuilders etc- getting ready to claim they are an “essential” industry and should not be taxed at such a high level.

  108. Wes Benedict Says:

    Do they have Diet Dr. Pepper in the vending machines at the Pentagon?

  109. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Diet Dr. Pepper ROCKS!

  110. Michael Seebeck Says:

    OK, lot of things to ponder here.

    1. Fair Tax: I used to like it. It sounds good on the surface. Then you research it, and it sucks. Progressive tax is worse than Flat tax is worse than No Tax as far as income goes. Income tax is worse than sales tax is worse than No tax. Property Tax just sucks, period. But the overall truth is that no matter how or how much is collected in slavery tribute, the problem is the politicians who waste it. Cut spending first.

    2. Barr in the race: He presents an interesting problem. It’s no secret that I think an LP Prez candidate needs to be able to properly market the LP to people, and that should be their primary role as the odds of them winning 1600PA are about as good as mine, and I’m not running. Of the current candidates, I think that Dr. Ruwart has the best shot at that because she has the demonstrated ability to couch libertarian thought in left-PC wording and not get caught up in eggheaded, long-winded, eyes-glaze-over explanations. That’s important for marketing in today’s Short Attention Span Theater world. Barr, OTOH, assuming he quits the Columbus role and actually runs, presents a different issue. He has enough name recognition that he can give the GOP major heartburn, and they admittedly deserve it. With Barr as the LP Prez candidate, the calculus is not marketing per se but screwing the GOP, which they deserve 4,000 times over at a minimum for their utter incompetence and stupidity in the Iraq mess. Barr would be in a tactical position to help the nation by two things: put Obama, the least of the three evils, in the White House, instead of the middle evil in Hillary or the worst evil in the Panamanchurian Butcher of Black Mesa (check Tannim’s blog on that one!). I’m fairly sure that Barr would drop or quietly change gears if Dr. Paul were to pull the nomination by some miracle. Fact is, the Democrats are heading into veto-proof land in this year’s House election, and they have an outside shot of filibuster-proofing the Senate as well. Some may say that is an argument to vote McCain and create gridlock. I disagree, since McCain is so liberal that he would rubberstamp democrat proposals worse than Bush did. It took Bush 6 years to find his veto crayon. McCain’s would probably be tossed into the trash completely. Barr could pull enough of the Paul vote and other unhappy R’s away from McCain to make his being thrown under the bus even more of a disaster for the GOP. The problem though, is that he doesn’t appeal to the left-of-LP-center as well as he does to the right-of-LP-center. Ruwart does, and if anything, she might have the opposite problem.

    So to summarize that, each has advantages and disadvantages, and which way the LP decides is up to Denver.

    3. Root: Sorry, but the guy is too Romneyish for me. By that I mean too polished, too veneered, too rehearsed, too slick. He reminds me more of Joe Isuzu than an LP standard-bearer, and to someone like me where the harder you sell the harder I fight it, that’s disconcerting.

    4. Campaigning right v. campaigning left: It depends on where you are. Usually in areas where one D/R party is dominant and the other sucks, it is best for us, the LP center, to campaign in the opposite direction—beat the little guy to compete against the big guy. We did that in Colorado Springs for years with good success against the GOP there because the local D’s were a joke. Since we moved, the GOP has weakened and the D’s have grown, but not from us as that trend was already going on. The point is that the LP, being in the center, needs to offer itself as the alternative to the dominant party. In the few toss-up areas there are anymore, the center LP becomes the kingmakers and stays exactly on message in the center, with marketing both directions. It does work. The CO state senate campaign I managed in 2002 pulled 9.1% in a three way race that decided control of the state senate; a race that both the utter fools D and R spent over $1M each on (for a spot that pays $30K) and the R won by 0.6% (screw the protest margin, we blew that away!); and we did it all on $35 and three weeks notice before the general election, campaigning from the center. We got into three debates, a radio show, and minimal newspaper and TV coverage. We also pulled the highest 3-way LP percentage of any race in the nation that cycle. I’m proud of that one because we used it to test the center-sway theory, and it worked wonders. If we had been on the ball earlier we would have done even better. Our only handicap was our very late start.

  111. Aaron Starr Says:

    I agree with Susan Hogarth!

    Diet Dr. Pepper ROCKS! I probably average two cans per day.

  112. Aaron Starr Says:

    If even Gravel—who advocates socialized medicine?—can beat Ruwart, whose claim to fame is being an articulate advocate of the free market for health care, does this mean that the left-leaning Libertarians are lost in the wilderness somewhere? Now, I’m wondering whether she could even win a VP slot. She lost the nomination for the VP slot in 1992, right?

  113. Aaron Starr Says:

    I heard the order of the results from the Heartland Conference straw poll were Root, Barr, Gravel, Ruwart, and then a tie between Phillies and Kubby, who wasn’t even in attendance. Jingozian was last.

    What surprised me the most was how horribly Ruwart reportedly did—Root receiving twice the votes of Ruwart.

    Does anyone have actual tallies from the Heartland Conference straw poll so we can confirm the above?

  114. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Aaron,

    I think I will use this quote from you on my LNC campaign page:

    “I agree with Susan Hogarth!”

    Maybe I’ve leave out the DDP part…

    ;-)

  115. Steve LaBianca Says:

    Aaron Starr has heard “reports”. I certainly would be very disappointed if W.A.R. received “twice the votes of Ruwart”. However, if this is a reasonably accurate “report”, why is there no mention of Christine Smith? Or did you, Mr. Starr just forget to type her in? I too, would like to see real results of the straw poll before before drawing any conclusion from it.

  116. Michael Seebeck Says:

    Diet-any-soda is an EWW! with the worst being (I kid you not, this does exist!) Caffeine-free Diet Mountain Dew (a.k.a. “What’s the Point? Soda”).

  117. Baldur Kostadin Says:

    Starr, you hate Arabs too like Root? Good for you.

  118. Baldur Kostadin Says:

    You Root dick suckers are racists fucks. The Libertarian Party is pro-WAR, pro-war and anti-Arab.

  119. Aaron Starr Says:

    Steve LaBianca,

    I’m only reporting what I heard. I wasn’t in attendance.

    However, I see Chuck Moulton writes:

    “I attended the Heartland Libertarian conference. I didn’t write down the straw poll numbers, but the following is my recollection:

    Wayne Allyn Root: 22
    Congressman Bob Barr: 20
    Senator Mike Gravel: 15
    Dr. Mary Ruwart: 12
    Michael Jingozian: 8
    George Phillies: 7
    None of the above: 3
    Christine Smith: 2
    Barry Hess: 1

    No one else received any votes (including surprisingly no votes for Steve Kubby). The ballots listed all currently declared and rumored presidential candidates (including Bob Barr). They were randomly ordered with 17 different ballot configurations each listing the 17 candidates in all possible slots. Unfortunately it was not done by IRV, so all we know is the first round results, not the likely runoffs.”

    Assuming the above is reasonably accurate, I’d be curious to see what conclusions other people draw from this.

  120. Brian Holtz Says:

    I heard the totals were Root 22, Barr 20, Gravel 15, Ruwart 12. Ruwart’s surprisingly low total is consistent with her understated performance in the debate. In fairness, radicals might claim that her problem was she didn’t muster the self-righteousness (if not outright anger) that Christine Smith exhibited, and failed to stand up for the flagship radical positions of personal secession, immediate non-enforcement of anything that looks like taxation, and privatization of all streets.

    Aaron, I too had assumed Gravel was for socialized medicine (and education), but it turns out he’s for vouchers on both. He advocates competition and consumer choice, and criticizes the monopoly sought by teachers’ unions. Gravel’s candidacy is exciting because he can help unite and grow an LP in which a vocal minority of left-leaning radicals/anarchists claim that to disagree with them is to make the LP an arm of the GOP. A Barr/Gravel or Gravel/Barr ticket would go a long way to demonstrating that the LP is open to both Democrat and Republican refugees who believe in market-based alternatives to the nanny state.

  121. Steve LaBianca Says:

    Mr. Starr,

    If I may also respond to your characterization of Ruwart and her supporters, from the straw poll, “If even Gravel—who advocates socialized medicine?—can beat Ruwart, whose claim to fame is being an articulate advocate of the free market for health care, does this mean that the left-leaning Libertarians are lost in the wilderness somewhere?”

    I and many people I know, who support Mary Ruwart’s campaign for the LP presidential nomination, especially people who I would not be at liberty to disclose, are not “left-leaning libertarian”.

    Regardless of how this LP nomination turns out, I believe that you Mr. Starr and others do a disservice to Libertarians by characterizing Ms. Ruwart’s support and supporters as “left-libertarian”. The fact that she can reach left leaning libertarians, as well as outright lefties much more effectively than virtually everyone else in this contest, is not in any way indicative of left, right, center, etc of the Libertarian Party, or Ms. Ruwart’s supporters. Ms. Ruwart can reach all libertarians.

    I am somewhat inclined to believe that some combination of “star power” and a prevalent conservative outlook in “the Heartland” is what gives W.A.R., Barr, and Gravel the edge over Ruwart in Kansas City. I will reserve judgment until I learn of actual straw poll results.

    BTW, Isn’t a straw poll one where people pay to participate?

  122. Susan Hogarth Says:

    I too had assumed Gravel was for socialized medicine (and education), but it turns out he’s for vouchers on both.

    And vouchers are not socialized … how, exactly?

    There’s an argument to be made that they are less socialized than some other proposals, but vouchers aren’t by any stretch of the imagination free market.

    It’s talk like this that leads people to associate libertarianism with fascism (“Let’s give taxpayer money to Christian schools! And to ‘private’ hospitals!”). Friedman et al. may have helped the Reagan-crowd in the short run (“Our Big Government is better than Your Big Government”), but may have also done serious damage to the long-term understanding of libertarianism.

  123. Aaron Starr Says:

    Steve, cool your jets. We’re probably more in agreement than you realize. I happen to like Ruwart and believe she brings a lot to the table. I own a copy of Healing our World.

    My point is that she appeals to left-leaning libertarians and probably not so much to right-leaning libertarians.

    I believe we need both.

    My question is where are they (the left-leaning libertarians)? It appears they weren’t at the conference in any significant numbers. Maybe it’s a question of location and this is just peculiar to the Kansas City area.

  124. Baldur Kostadin Says:

    Spin that Racist, boy, spin it. Root’s looking like road kill and starting to smell like it there too.

  125. Michael Seebeck Says:

    Aaron, you have to remember that Kansas City is in the heart of conservative country. It’s no Boudler or Berkley by a long shot, but it’s not Colorado Springs either. It is expected that not a lot of left-libertarians would be there.

    But I agree, we do need both left-leaning and right-leaning libertarians. we are the political center, after all.

  126. Susan Hogarth Says:

    But I agree, we do need both left-leaning and right-leaning libertarians.

    Certainly.

    we are the political center, after all.

    Eh? Are you trying for irony here?

  127. Steve LaBianca Says:

    Mr. Starr,

    Thanks for your feedback, though I find the “cool your jets” comment a curious opening. If I’ve mischaracterized your comments, as you appear to be indicating that I have, I appreciate the clarification.

    My point however, is still valid for others, as W.A.R. had said in an email to me that Mary could only appeal to new agers. Hogwash, I say. It is possible that Ruwart’s appeal to so-called left wing libertarians may be a bit more effective that to so called right wing libertarians (if there really are such “wings”), and it seems that conservatives abound (W.A.R., Barr) near the top of the popularity list, which would cut into Mary Ruwart’s ability to reach those so inclined to conservatives.

    After our candidate is chosen, and I hope it is Ms. Ruwart, she could appeal to some on the right who oppose the U.S. government wars, and appeal to some on the left who oppose U.S. government wars, as well as all who oppose encroachments of privacy and encroachments on enterprising activities. I think all the “top” candidates can do this to some extent (except W.A.R. regarding, yep, WARS) but Ruwart can do this, I believe best.

    We shall see what the delegates prefer. I do know dozens of national delegates who are supporting Ruwart. I am hoping that this is an indicaton of her delegate support nationwide.

  128. Andrew Murphy Says:

    Susan, you sound like a Rothbardian with this anti-voucher stuff. If you had a choice between a Canadian or British NHS service or a voucher system(and no you have to pick one of them) which would you prefer? Friedman was no sell out, he was a pratical man who saw vouchers as a pragmatic attempt to put libertarianism into action. By the way, WIC vouchers are given out every month to low income mothers and soon to be mothers to buy eggs, bread etc- Do governments run your local Kroger or Safeway grocery store?

  129. Brian Holtz Says:

    Susan, socialized medicine is government ownership of hospitals, government employment of doctors, government pricing of medicine and insurance, government rationing of treatments, government licensing of care-givers, etc. Vouchers socialize merely the financing of health insurance, rather than socializing the entire healthcare chunk of the GDP. If vouchers are provided only for the poor, they arguably meet Brian Doherty’s definition of “libertarian” in that they correct for the market failure of fr