Posts Tagged ‘Gary Johnson’

 

Gary Johnson for President

On election eve, Iowa Freedom Report offers you our official endorsement for the Presidency in 2012.  Iowans concerned about the runaway growth in government at all levels have but one option this year, to elect Governor Gary Johnson as President and Judge Jim Gray as Vice President.

Governor Gary Johnson ably served his constituents for eight years as New Mexico’s Governor and left his comfortable retirement to serve the freedom movement as Presidential candidate.  Despite serving as nominally a Republican, Johnson always governed as a libertarian and in so doing, advanced the movement in the public square in a way that no one else has done.  While Dr. Ron Paul is better known as a advocate for liberty, it is Johnson who actually has experience implementing our ideas.  Johnson’s time in office proved conclusively that the principles of liberty, realistically applied, do indeed result in economic growth and political popularity.  Johnson’s term in New Mexico saw greater job growth than the term of any other former executive in the race for President – including (and especially) better known contenders Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, and Tim Pawlenty.

Some in the movement have criticized Johnson’s moderation and the handful of his policy proposals that defy libertarian orthodoxy, but let’s be honest, who would have done better given the situation.  Johnson’s entrance into politics itself was a long shot.  Big government Republicans in New Mexico tried to dissuade his gubernatorial campaign.  Democrats held a 2-to-1 registration advantage and held the governorship with a popular incumbent.  The state’s mainstream press eviscerated him when he proposed medical freedom and school choice.  His own officials in the administration worked to undermine him (Johnson once fired his entire Racing and Gaming Board when they went behind his back on a casino deal Johnson promised to veto.)

In response, Johnson didn’t merely hold the line against big government, he built a firewall against it by vetoing 750 bills and used the line-item veto (allowed under New Mexico’s constitution) hundreds of times, saving taxpayers millions.  Unable to cut wide swaths out of state government, Johnson applied his managerial experience to operations, using an attrition strategy to reduce the state payroll by 1,000 employees without even having to directly fire any worker.  Awarded the name “Governor Veto” or “Governor No,” Johnson moved New Mexico forward.  By expanding the role of the private sector in provision of infrastructure New Mexico under Johnson added hundreds of miles of paved roads without any increase in budgets.  So much for “but who will build the roads!?” right?  The budget was balanced all eight years but never once did taxes go up.

Compared to this record, what alternatives could there possibly be?  There are some in the last few years who have attached themselves to our movement and have returned, like a dog to its vomit, to the Republican candidates and expect us to do the same.  Mitt Romney is not perfect, they’ll say, but we must beat the black guy, err, ah, the Democrat, because he’s sooo bad!  And also black.  But there is no pro-freedom case for Romney at all.  In four years as Governor, Mitt Romney dramatically expanded the role of government in the private lives of individuals and “Taxachusetts” wasn’t exactly Galt’s Gulch when Romney took over.  As Governor, Romney introduced a costly and intrusive health care plan that Obama would later adopt nearly verbatim on a national scale.  As a candidate, Romney talks spending cuts but his only specifics have been on what he’ll increase – military spending, drone strikes, and Medicare expenses.  The Romney/Ryan budget borrows heavily from South Park’s Underpants Gnomes, essentially boiling down to “cut taxes/increase spending>???>balanced budgets.”

Regarding Mr. Obama, there were some in our movement who talked themselves into a false hope that Obama would be better, at least on civil liberties, than Bush era Republicans.  But Obama doubled down on every thing bad about the Bush years.  Promising to close the Gitmo prison, Obama instead signed legislation allowing him to send anyone he wants there without trial.  Obama also took it upon himself to create a secret “kill list” of those persons he claims authority to execute at will.  Even being an American citizen doesn’t excuse you from the list, as Obama’s drones killed a 16 year old American boy in Yemen.  Asked to defend this, Obama’s spokesman could only answer, “he should have had better parents.”  On domestic issues, Obama seems to think that he himself should act as our parent – Obamacare, bailouts, literally laughing off the idea of individual liberties – he has been an unmitigated disaster for liberty.

Now if you’re reading this site, you probably don’t need convincing that the Obama/Romney status quo is not working for America, so what of your alternatives?  Most years, there are at least two national candidates promoting slightly differing versions of the limited government message – the Libertarian Party candidate and the Constitution Party candidate.  This year however, while the Libertarians have Johnson, the Constitution Party standard bearer is former Independent, Democrat, and Republican Congressman Virgil Goode.  Goode is an unrepentant advocate of foreign wars, not only voting for the initial invasion of Iraq but invoking the worst right-wing talking points in advocating for supplemental financing.  Whereas the 2008 nominee Chuck Baldwin was a defender of a separation of powers, Goode has supported federal overreaches such as the ban on online card playing and raiding state-licensed medical clinics.  Goode is better than some alternatives and the Constitution Party has advanced some admirable principles, but Goode cannot even live up to the standards of his party and does not deserve your vote.

Some among us have despaired of any of the actual choices and are electing to write in Congressman Paul.  Let me try to explain why that is a bad idea.  Now, recall that IFR endorsed Congressman Paul before the Iowa Straw Poll and reiterated our support before the caucuses, so this the advice of a friend.  Casting a write in ballot achieves nothing.  Just 2% of the vote for Johnson will place the Libertarian Party on the ballot in 2014 and give them major party status.  It is an investment in a better future, or at least in a stronger outlet for protest votes when freedom candidates lose future Republican and Democrat primaries.  For those who believe that Paul’s supporters must be good Republicans but have enough integrity to shun Romney, consider this – if Libertarians have to spend their limited time and money getting on the ballot in 2014, they will have that much less time and money to help Ron Paul Republican candidates in their local races and conventions.  We can’t state this strongly enough – not voting for the movement’s best standard bearer will weaken the movement as a whole.

As the Libertarian Party nominee, Governor Gary Johnson is the best choice to carry the cause of peace, responsible government, and individual liberty in 2012.  For the last few months, Johnson’s has been the only voice challenging entitlements, challenging the wars, and providing an alternative.  The stronger we make our alternative tomorrow, the more our agenda must be reckoned with.  Look at Johnson’s record.  See what he has done and then listen to what he says.  You will be proud to give him your vote for liberty in this election.

 
 
 

Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes

Iowa Republican Leaders Decry Exclusion in Tampa While Excluding Gary Johnson in Iowa

In 1968, Riceville elementary teacher Jane Elliott used her third grade classroom for an intriguing and controversial experiment.  One of the objectives:  to see if a group that had been harshly discriminated against in the past would be magnanimous in power or treat their lessors with the brutality they had experienced as an underclass.  On one day, Ms. Elliot segregated her classroom and awarded privileges to the blue eyed children based on a fabricated claim of blue-eyed superiority.  The azure-irised in the class quickly turned haughty and lauded their position over the darker.  The next day, Elliot announced that oops, she’d made a mistake, the brown eyed were actually superior and the blue eyed worthy of revulsion.  The tables thus turned, the browns gave back as bad as they’d gotten the previous day.

If you’re a regular reader of IFR, then doubtless you’ve read the reports by now coming out of the pre-convention meetings of the Republican National Committee.  Before the whole body of delegates assembles Monday (weather permitting), various committees meet to set internal party policy for the next four years.  Representatives of the Romney campaign have rammed through several changes that will have far reaching effects.  Chief among those for us Iowans is that national delegates will no longer be elected independently, but rather will be chosen to represent the candidate who won the popular caucus vote.  Penalties for moving ahead of the Iowa Caucuses on the nomination calendar, while never before enforced in practice, are now gone completely.  What this means is that it will no longer be possible to run a grassroots campaign focused on retail politics and winning over delegates.  Not only does this mean no more campaigns like Ron Paul 2012, it’s likely the death knell to social conservative operations that tend to be cash-poor and volunteer-heavy.  Then, just to pile on, the Mittiots went ahead and invalidated the results of the Maine delegate selection process, dumping any delegate who supported Paul in February.  Not only would liberty-oriented grassroots Republicans be shut out in the future, they were silenced in the present.

Iowa Republican leaders are understandably upset.  Party Chairman A.J. Spiker told Radio Iowa that he was “shocked” by the divisive move.  National Committeeman Steve Scheffler took to facebook to urge a fight “to see what we can do to reverse some bad stuff that shafts grassroots folks. We are NOT going to be silent!!!”

All of which brings us back to Iowa.  At the same time Iowa Republican leaders are pushing for inclusion at their convention, they are working to force Governor Gary Johnson off of the ballot in the general election.  Earlier this month, Libertarians filed 2,000 signatures on petitions to secure a place on the ballot.  Iowa law requires just 1,500 to make the ballot so 133% of the requirement was a substantial cushion.  In fact, no candidate’s petition which exceeded the statutory requirement had been invalidated in Iowa history.  But Matt Schultz is no ordinary Secretary of State.  We tried to warn Iowans in 2010 when we endorsed Jake Porter that hyper-partisanship in this office would damage the integrity of our electoral process.  With the flimsiest of logic, Schultz simply threw out the Libertarian petition.  In its place, the Secretary of State’s office offered to let Johnson and the LP on the ballot if they could fulfill two requirements – hold a public “caucus” to nominate Johnson and gather an additional 250 signatures.  Apparently this process has been tried before, its how Gloria LaRiva made the 2008 ballot as the Party for Socialism and Liberation candidate.  Alerted to the goings on, the Republican Party of Iowa has filed a challenge and retained the largest law firm in the state.  Against a highly-paid legal team in a court judged by a corrupt Republican official, the Libertarians have only truth, precedent, and a pro-bono attorney.

So to update Ms. Elliot’s question forty-four years later, what happens when a group that’s experienced being kicked around, bullying, exclusion, and discrimination takes over the Republican Party of Iowa?  Well, teacher, if you’re A.J. Spiker and his cronies, you’ve borne the burnt of the battle in a past political life as a liberty advocate, apparently you look for the next smallest guy in the fight and take it out on him.  But maybe its not the color of your eyes that matters.  It’s the partisan blinders you’re wearing over them.

The Gary Johnson campaign takes a little less poetic license that we here at IFR perhaps, but their press release lays out a good timeline of the case.  Their attorney is a friend of the site and was kind enough to lay out the legal arguments favoring the LP, but we’ll save those for the recap.  If you’re able to make it to Des Moines, there will be a rally held at the Secretary of State’s office at 1pm, this address:  Iowa Secretary of State’s Office, 321 E. 12th Street, Des Moines, IA 50319.  The official release is as follows:

REPUBLICANS TRY TO KEEP LIBERTARIAN GARY JOHNSON OFF THE IOWA BALLOT
Romney Supporters File Challenge Urging Secretary of State to Exclude Libertarian
Nominees from the Ballot in November

Jay Kramer, a Mitt Romney campaign operative from Washington D.C., filed a
challenge on Friday to keep Libertarian candidate for President, Gary Johnson, from
appearing on the ballot in November. The Romney campaign hired the largest law
firm in Iowa, the Des Moines based, Nyemaster Goode PC, for the challenge, which
will be heard by Iowa Secretary of State Matt Shultz on Monday at 3 pm.

“This is clearly a set up,” said the Johnson campaign’s attorney, Alicia Dearn.
“Romney can’t beat Johnson on the debate stage, so he has resorted to cronyism.
The Libertarian Party had two thousand petition signatures and should have been
on the ballot without challenge, as they have always done in the past. But
Republican Shultz [Iowa Secretary of State] – in violation of longstanding Iowa law –
rejected the petition and required the Johnson campaign to caucus at the state fair.
There, the Romney campaign surveilled the Johnson campaign’s activities for the
sole purpose of bringing this eleventh-hour challenge,” Dearn said.

The Romney campaign’s challenge was filed Friday afternoon and set for a hearing
on Monday afternoon. The 106-page challenge includes pictures of Johnson
supporters asking fair-goers to support having Gov. Johnson and the Libertarian
Party offered as a choice on the ballot.

The challenge claims that the state fair signatures should be thrown out because the
signers are not Libertarians. “The challenge is legally frivolous,” asserts Dearn.
“You don’t have to be a registered Libertarian to want a third choice on the ballot.
Iowans deserve to choose for themselves who to vote for, which is why Gov. Johnson
should be on the ballot and allowed to debate Romney and President Obama.
Democracy suffers when voices are silenced.”

Unlike other states, Iowa has a perfect history of allowing third-party candidates
onto the ballot and is known for its independent-minded voter. “Iowa is one of the
very few states that has never kept any general election presidential candidate off
its ballot,” said ballot access historian Richard Winger. “It is a policy that saves
money and work for elections officials, because Iowa doesn’t need to tally write-in
votes for presidential candidates when all such significant candidates are on the
ballot.”

Republicans fear that Johnson, a former Republican two-term Governor from New
Mexico, will siphon votes from Romney and create a victory for Obama. It is a claim
that Governor Johnson does not shy away from. In a YouTube video titled, A
Freedom    is    Never    Wasted, Johnson says, “They deserve to lose your vote.” Iowa is
expected to be a battleground state this election.

According to Dearn, the Romney campaign is using similar tactics to keep Governor
Johnson off the ballot in Michigan and Pennsylvania, and is pressuring the
Commission on Presidential Debates to exclude Governor Johnson from the
televised national debates. The Romney campaign has also been accused of fraud
and bullying of Ron Paul delegates in several lawsuits throughout the country and
protests by Ron Paul supporters are expected at the Republican Party convention in
Tampa later this week. “Paul supporters were treated really badly in Iowa by the
Romney campaign,” Dearn said.

As the Libertarian candidate for President, Johnson promises to submit a balanced
budget to Congress in 2013 and to reduce wasteful spending, advocates for reducing
government intrusion into the everyday lives and liberties of Americans, supports
the Constitution, and advocates for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Johnson will be on the ballot in all 50 states and has been qualified by the FEC for
Federal matching funds. His running mate is retired California Superior Court Judge
and former Naval officer, Jim Gray.

###

If you would like more information about the legal proceedings in Des Moines,
please contact Alicia Dearn at 858-750-5800, aliciadearn@garyjohnson2012.com.

If you would like more information about Governor Gary Johnson’s 2012
Presidential campaign, or to schedule and interview with Gov. Johnson or Judge
Gray, please contact Joe Hunter, 801-303-7924, media@garyjohnson2012.com or
Natalie Dicou, 801-994-0321, nataliedicou@garyjohnson2012.com. Press kits may
be found at www.garyjohnson2012.com/media.

 
 
 

Vote June 5!

Just a quick reminder, primary elections are tomorrow, Tuesday, June 5.  While Libertarians and the Constitution Party nominate by convention and we don’t know of any worthy Freedom Democrats in Iowa, there are several excellent Republican candidates scattered throughout the ballots statewide.  On Friday, wrote our primary primer and included our endorsed candidates – Will Johnson in SD-50, Kevin Wolfswinkel in HD-1, Josh Davenport in HD-2, Tom Shaw in HD-10, Tony Seliquini in HD-36, Matt DeVries in HD-37, as well as recommended candidate Jake Highfill in HD-39.

Today, we’ll throw out a few more last minute recommendations.  These are not “endorsements” per se, but if you remember our endorsement policy, a “recommendation” is our way of saying, “well, this guy is probably better than the other guy, you might want to look into him.”  We use it when there is no clear liberty candidate in the race, when we have reservations about someone, or when we just don’t know enough about him/her to endorse.

Iowa Senate District 6 – Matthew Ung

With a primary challenge to an incumbent lawmaker in Chris Rant’s district, Ung has marked himself as a rising star in the Iowa GOP.  He says a lot of the right things and has a lot of the right endorsements (Kim Pearson, Iowa Gun Owners, ect.) while the incumbent is a run of the mill mainstream Republican.  He tries to base his ideas on the Constitution, but tends to have a bit of the rose colored glasses syndrome towards his party and could get lost in the weeds bashing gays instead of fighting government encroachment when he gets to Des Moines, but based on what we know, we’d rather have him there than return Ron Jorgensen.  IFR doesn’t usually have much coverage in the desert that is western Iowa, so maybe our readers in Steve King Country could enlighten us as to Ung’s credibility.

Iowa House District 81 – Rick McClure

No website, no twitter, no facebook page, no money raised – IFR sincerely hopes Mr. McClure has been more active door knocking in Ottumwa than he has been knocking out blog posts and web ads because we just heard about him minutes ago and he sounds great.  McClure is an Air Force veteran and John Deere worker who is politically independent and was inspired to get involved by Dr. Ron Paul’s campaign.  Straight party voting is the reason he joined the GOP.  “Voting straight party at the ballot box is as irresponsible and lazy as casting a straight party vote on any bill up in Des Moines,” McClure told his hometown paper when asked why he joined the GOP.  Sounds like the kind of man we need in the State House.  We’re keeping this a “recommends” only because we haven’t had time to properly vet him.  Networking, people.

U.S. Congress District 1 – Rod Blum

Much of the freedom movement in northeast Iowa has been all atwitter – and all over twitter – about Mr. Blum for several months now.  But under the surface, there is a lot of uncertainty.  We’ve held off writing anything at all about Blum until election night eve out of fear of stirring things up one way or the other.  Go to Blum’s issue page and there’s virtually nothing to disagree with.  But this wasn’t always the case.  Blum is no new face on the scene, as a columnist for the Dubuque Telegraph Herald, Blum has been carrying the water for big-government Republicans for a long, long time.  During the Bush administration, Blum proudly declared that he “doesn’t know what all my rights are” and that it was a moral imperative to invade random Middle Eastern countries.  While we encourage people to move from fascism to freedom in their thinking, one should always be wary of a politician who comes to you and says, “oh, dude, it’s totally different now!” right before an election.

We at IFR have a bit of a personal issue with this.  You see, your editor was on the front lines of recruiting Bob Barr to run for President in 2008, to the point where leading Libertarians (including past national staff members of the LP) fingered him as “the guy who got Barr into the race” because no one wants to be the one holding that bag.  How did Bob Barr repay us (including us personally)?  By endorsing Space Cadet Gingrich and abandoning the LP to prostrate himself on the pro-war, pro-big government altar of the GOP.  You’ll currently see him cheering whenever Mitt Romney shows up to campaign in Georgia.  Let’s hope Blum’s fortuitously-timed conversion is genuine because one person who hasn’t changed is Ben Lange, Blum’s opponent.  Lange is again looking for a way to return to the center of power, this time (thank God) minus the whole “Congress-should-decide-if-you-can-build-a-church-or-not” issue that attracted so much of Bruce Rastetter’s money to the 2010 race.  We were Lange’s harshest critic back then when we had a real dog in the fight.  Click his name at the bottom of the post, it all still applies.

So here’s our bottom line on Blum:  in the words of Stewie Griffin, “huzzah for the lesser of two evils!”

And in other news. . .

While it is quite unfortunate that State Representative Kim Pearson declined to run for re-election, she’s not getting out of politics completely.  After a few days of rumors following Kim Lehman’s decision not to see reelection, Pearson made it official – she will run for the position of Republican National Committeewoman.  Each state and territory is represented on the Republican National Committee by one man and one woman.  Iowa’s committeepersons will be chosen at the state Republican convention on June 16.  Pearson will compete with two announced statists, with other nominations possibly to come from the floor.  If you’re reading this site, you already know what we’ll be doing but for what it’s worth, Iowa Freedom Report hereby gives Representative Pearson our full endorsement.

After you vote tomorrow (assuming you have a candidate on the ballot worth the trip to the polls), be sure to catch Governor Gary Johnson on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  While Stewart is essentially a Democrat Party spokesman (perhaps the only credible one they have), lately his monologues have been leaning toward liberty and he is clearly respectful of our position and engages it in good faith so he’s certain to give Johnson a fair shake.  With a lot of disillusioned young voters up for grabs in the election, this could be Johnson’s breakout moment.  If you’ve been too busy with Republican caucus politics to think ahead to November, let this be your introduction to the man who proved that the moderate application of libertarianism to government is not only possible, but can be wildly successful and popular.

 
 
 

Platform Debates, Guest Speakers Set the Stage for LP Debate

Day two of the Libertarian National Convention here in sunny Las Vegas was again devoted primarily to internal party business.  With by-laws mostly out of the way, Libertarians took up the issue of revising the party platform.  Unlike the Democrat or Republican conventions you might be used to back in Iowa, there was little of substance for freedom fighters to advocate for, as most proposals sought to re-word or modify the already libertarian principles contained in the document.  For those not willing to devote their time to wordsmithery, the convention offered several breakout sessions featuring current and past party leaders.  Manny Klausner of the Reason Foundation gave a talk on using lawsuits to challenge big government.  His presentation ran the gamut of issues from affirmative action to ObamaCare.  Dr. Nancy Lord, the LP vice-presidential candidate in 1996 spoke on her area of expertise, medical research.  The FDA’s incestuous relationship with major drug companies, she told delegates, results in good medicines being tied up in the bureaucracy  whilst dangerous ones are rushed to the public.  From a past to a current candidate, one of the LP’s most promising challengers, Rupert Boneham of Survivor fame told a personal story of his path to libertarianism and his campaign for Indiana Governor.  By appearing in the debates, Boneham claimed, he was going to get not only his state but the nation talking about the ideas of liberty.

The convention is currently recessed to allow for setting up the stage for tonight’s Presidential debate.  In contrast to past conventions, only the top two candidates qualified to take the stage.  Governor Gary Johnson and Lee Wrights will square off live in front of a nationwide audience on CSPAN.  To determine eligibility, the LP uses a unique system of polling its delegates.  When registering, each delegate is given a “token,” actually a small postcard, on which they write the name of the candidate they’d like to see in the debate.  Only those candidates with a certain percentage of tokens gets a seat.  Johnson’s campaign has hustled for tokens from the beginning, urging supporters to get them in early.  Wrights’ campaign on the other hand, gathered them up and dropped them in the ballot box en masse this morning.

Make sure you tune into C-SPAN at 8pm Iowa time to catch the debate.  As always, we’ll be tweeting from the floor @IAFReedomReport using the hashtag #lnc2012 and will give you a recap as soon as we sober up from tonight’s parties, err, ah, have time to compile a full report.

 
 
 

Libertarians Try Debating By-laws, Give Up and Go Clubbing

The afternoon portion of day one of the Libertarian National Convention was devoted to a debate on bylaws of the party.  Much of the debated devolved into conflicts between the various factions and strong personalities within the party.  Without delving into the specific characters (some of whom we hope to introduce you do in future posts), we’ll look at a few which have relevance to our Iowa readers.  One interesting topic brought up for debate was the idea that the entire membership of the party should vote on either party leaders, bylaws, or both by means of e-mail balloting.  Currently, party leadership is voted in at each biennial conventions and bylaws adopted at the same time.  This of course means that only those Libertarians with the time, money, and interest to travel to a national convention run the party.  On the one hand, this is problematic as the vast majority of Libertarian activists have no say in how their party operates.  On the other, those who demonstrate an interest in party business  should logically have the most say.  If you suggest otherwise, you’d be joining our friends over at The Iowa Republican who are trying to push the idea that Santorum and Romney supporters should be rewarded for their unwillingness to attend GOP meetings by gaining national convention delegates vastly out of proportion to their desire to participate in the process.  All such motions were defeated on the floor, but all those interested in internal party politics (regardless of party) should take a look at the possibilities, good and bad, of this sort of thing coming down the pike.

Also of interest to freedom fighters in Iowa was a heated debate over what to do about those people who are not registered as Libertarian voters but who wish to take leadership positions in the party.  Again, both sides raised valid points.  To survive as a party, the Libertarian Party must have people committed to it in exclusion of all other parties.  Yet, to further the “small-l” libertarian movement as an ideological force, many Libertarians changed their party affiliation to support Ron Paul in the Republican primaries. Indeed, the mere mention of Paul’s name elicits more cheers from the floor than anything else that could be said.  Ultimately, a reasonable compromise was reached:  Party leaders must be registered Libertarian voters (if their state allows) but rank and file delegates would not be excluded if they crossed party lines on Paul’s behalf.

The Iowa delegation swelled to its full strength of six members with the late arrival of some who elected to drive the entire distance from the Hawkeye state.  With bylaws debates dragging on late into the afternoon, most of the Iowans decided to try their luck elsewhere in Vegas.  A mixer was held by Americans for Prosperity at a local pizza joint owned by a Nevada LP member.  While AFP is often considered to be a partisan Republican group (and indeed, the Iowa chapter is lead by a noted gay-basher) staffers on-site assured Iowa Freedom Report that they are interested in issues, not parties.  At least not political parties, as their shindig was lively and well-attended, including by about half the Iowans.

The chief party starter of this evening is the star of the show, Governor Gary Johnson himself.  Johnson’s fundraiser/rave features a cash bar and a prominent local DJ.  For a more intellectual evening, there will be a debate between candidates for Libertarian Party Chairman in a penthouse suite hosted by a prominent Massachusetts LP leader.  The current chair, Mark Hinkle has provided the party with steady leadership for two years but has angered some who feel he has rammed through a more moderate agenda at their expense.  Ironically, his only prominent challenger also hails from the moderate wing of the party.  Mark Rutherford has held various party offices and worked independently as a campaign consultant.  Either would serve the party well, so it will be interesting to see how contentious their competition becomes.

The Presidential race is still the main event and is always in the background of the proceeds.  At this point the race seems to have come down to Governor Gary Johnson and Lee Wrights.  Johnson is the favorite of the “reform” faction who wishes to see the party put forth its most experienced and credible member.  Wrights is favored by the “radicals” who believe that for the party to grow, it must distance itself for the duopoly as far as possible, and cannot accept Johnson’s compromised positions on such things as the Fair Tax and certain military interventions.  Johnson is the frontrunner, but is taking nothing for granted, sending emissaries to poll every delegate in the room.  Rumor has it that Wrights is already thinking of throwing his hat in the ring for the Vice Presidential nomination, though his support from his home state of Texas gives him a lot of fans here.

We’ll be back to give you more reports tomorrow.  Be sure to follow @IAFreedomReport on twitter for shorter updates throughout the night.  Finally, a big shout out to all the IFR readers we’ve met at the convention.  While we have a statewide focus, its great to see we already reach a nationwide audience.

For more LP convention coverage, don’t forget our friends at Independent Political Report.

 
 
 

That’s What We Get For Waking Up in Vegas

Iowa Freedom Report is on the road this week in the Silver State embedded with the Iowa Libertarian delegation to bring you reports from the LP national convention.  We had hoped to publish a full primer, but we’ve been too busy with crucial convention business.  So instead, we’ll bring you sporadic coverage from the floor, leading up to the selection of the Libertarian candidate for President on Saturday night.  Be sure to follow our twitter feed @IAFreedomReport for more up to the minute coverage.  There will also be regular updates from our friends at Independent Political Report, whom we may or may not get pressed-ganged into writing for at some point.

On the first formal day of business, tempers flared and much time was wasted as the convention debated the Credentials Committee report.  Normally, this is uncontroversial, but a split in the Libertarian Party of Oregon led to two different factions showing up in Vegas to represent their state.  We won’t go into the excruciatingly boring detail, but one side is the recognized affiliate party and approved by the LP national Judicial Committee.  Inexplicably, the Credentials Committee elected to seat the other faction.  After an hour of debate, the Credentials Committee won out and the official/renegade faction has been dispersed amongst the other states.

Our Hawkeye State delegates are much less contentious.  Five are on the floor now with the remainder due to arrive later this evening.  Delegates have heard a keynote speech from Michael Cloud, a fundraiser and campaign manager whom Libertarians have dubbed the “greatest Libertarian communicator.”  Cloud’s speech focused on helping candidates and activists make the case for liberty in their hometowns.  When you ask someone how much they think government wastes, then tell them the Libertarian Party is fighting it, their only question is “where do I sign up?” Cloud claims.  Most of the Iowans then filed out to a breakout session in which the party’s Executive Director Carla Howell recounted her efforts to repeal the Massachusetts income tax.  A simple message back by promises of specific actions are the key to promoting Libertarian solutions, Howell says.

The two main contenders for the Presidential nomination, Governor Gary Johnson and longtime LP leader Lee Wrights are making the rounds.  Johnson’s campaign is throwing a bash tonight that we’ll certainly attend and may or may not report from.

Stay tuned to IFR, and we’ll be back with more updates as the convention proceeds.

 
 
 

Libertarians Seek to Open Minds

Keynote speaker Beth Cody of Iowa City explains how she uses fiction to introduce Libertarian ideas to a skeptical public.

The famed patriot John Adams once declared that it did not take a majority to prevail, only a tireless minority dedicated to setting brush fires in the minds of the public.  When, some twenty or so such patriots gathered this weekend at the Hilton Garden Inn in Johnston for the 2012 Libertarian Party of Iowa convention, opening minds was the topic of the day.

Party chairman Ed Wright encouraged delegates that libertarian voices are growing.  He mentioned movements like the tea parties and Occupy that, while not wholly dedicated to liberty, were at least standing up and challenging the statist quo.  Wright urged Libertarians to educated themselves, reading up on the founding documents, and not relying on a government school system to teach resistance to government.  Once educated, he exhorted Libertarians to “urge others to come to terms with the solutions that freedom brings.”

Keynote speaker Beth Cody, a columnist and author from Iowa City, demonstrated how she turned to fiction writing to broaden her outreach to those who would not be interested in her political columns.  “Time and free markets can make everything better,” she told the crowd, “even political systems.”  With fiction, new ideas can be introduced, to show people that a better way is possible.  Her new book, Looking Backward, does just that.  The novel is a take-off on the utopian socialist fiction of 19th century writer Edward Bellamy.  In Looking Backward, Bellamy’s Professor Julian West wakes up, not in a worker’s state but in a glorious libertarian future circa 2162.  For those not literary-minded enough to be familiar with Bellamy, its essentially Futurama but with Earth ruled by the disembodied head of Ron Paul rather than Richard Nixon (and no Zoidberg).

The convention also featured a surprise guest speaker in Gary Roeve, who was one of the founders of the LPIA in the 1970s.  Appropriate for a party celebrating its 40th year, Roeve gave an impromptu speech on the early days of Libertarian activism.  Inspired by Ayn Rand, Roeve began to work with Ben Olsen to start an Iowa chapter of the newly-minted LP in 1972.  Finding others brought on board by the presence of an Iowan on the top of the ticket, a chapter was formed in Ames in 1975.  Roeve would go on to work on policy for the 1976 Roger McBride and 1980 Ed Clark Presidential campaigns as well as several local races, before despairing of the task moving the state towards freedom.

Awards were given to party members who competed in local 2011 elections.  Nick Taiber won re-election to the Cedar Falls city council and Roger Fritz was elected for a non-consecutive term as Roland mayor after his neighbors wrote him in.  2010 CD2 Congressional candidate Gary Sicard lost his race for Robins city council in a multiple candidate field, but was optimistic that the experience he gathered would propel him to victory in a one-on-one mayoral race this fall.  LPIA Executive committee member Casey Head of Des Moines hailed the candidate’s efforts stating that in the LP, “if you have a will to make change, you can do it.”

The Presidential race also featured prominently in the days activities, although no campaigns had a formal presence, unlike in 2011 when then-candidate Roger Gary appeared and Lee Wrights deployed his campaign manager as a surrogate.  Governor Gary Johnson dominated the straw poll with 13 votes to 1 for publisher Sam Sloan and one for perennial LP vote-getter NOTA, an 87% randslide victory for the LP frontrunner.

No other candidates for 2012 were announced, other than Sicard’s mayoral race, though there are rumors that Libertarians may field two Congressional challengers.  IFR will hold off on publicizing them until they officially enter, but suffice to say, they are two somewhat prominent refugees from the statist parties.  With some money in the bank, the Libertarian Party will be in a position to make some incumbents sweat out their positions in the fall.

 
 
 

Last Minute Endorsements Target Iowa

National figures in politics and foreign policy have weighed in with last minutes endorsements for Ron Paul over the past week, directing their remarks to Iowa voters.

CIA veteran Michael Scheuer, who headed the unit charged with tracking down Osama bin Laden under the Clinton and Bush administrations, posted his endorsement on his website on December 31.  Scheuer made clear what he called “Iowa’s Choice” between Ron Paul or more bankruptcy and more deaths:

“only the gentleman from Texas speaks for the Founder’s non-interventionist vision of America’s role in world affairs and for plain common sense. In the Founders’ non-interventionist design for U.S. foreign policy that is championed by Dr. Paul, Iowans will find a proven road to the maintenance of America’s sovereignty, independence, peace, and prosperity. In the realm of common sense, Dr. Paul beats his fellow candidates, the Obamaites, and the media hands down. Dr. Paul challenges the interventionists in both parties on their plans for spreading secular democracy — and causing wars thereby — on historical grounds that are irrefutable because they are just good commonsense.”

Former Republican and current Libertarian candidate for President Governor Gary Johnson also urged his remaining Iowa supporters to caucus for Paul.  We at IFR have covered Johnson’s efforts since 2010 and have been granted unprecedented access to his campaign.  Right on all the issues, unfortunately Johnson’s aborted GOP efforts proved that the party simply doesn’t have enough supporters of smaller government to sustain more than one candidate with that message.

Closer to home, Paul picked up two prominent crossover Democrats recently as well.  Francis Thicke, the organic farmer from libertarian hotbed Fairfield, posted on his facebook page that he will join the “Republican for a Day” movement in order to “keep Ron Paul’s voice for peace in the presidential debates as long as possible, so he can refute the warmongering rhetoric of the other Repbulican candidates.”  Thanks to Bleeding Heartland for the tip.  Plenty of small government supporters backed Thicke in 2010 for his vision of agriculture as a series of small, family owned enterprises in contrast to the taxpayer-subsidized corporate farming advocated by Secretary Northey, so its nice to see him return the favor.

Two former Democratic State Representatives also came out for Paul.  Joel Brown, who represented suburban Des Moines during the 1990’s spoke about his support for Paul on the Fallon Forum on December 22, citing the toll on the republic taken by years of war and overspending.  Fallon himself, who long has urged his followers to crossover in the caucuses offered a blanket endorsement for the “less extreme” candidates, whom he identifies as Dr. Paul, Jon Huntsman, Buddy Roemer, and Fred Karger.  Of those, only Paul and Karger have campaigned in Iowa.

That is independents, Libertarians, and Democrats coming together around one candidate.  Be sure to join us at the caucuses tonight, we’ll be a pretty big and diverse group!

 
 
 

Echols Reports from Strong America Now’s Deficit Summit

With this article, Iowa Freedom Report would like to introduce our newest contributor.  Brandon Echols is an energetic young freedom activist from eastern Iowa.  His organization is Republic Now and we’ve covered their activities here before.  Mr. Echols is the Deputy Chair of the Libertarian Party of Iowa, but he still gets out to freedom events across partisan boundaries.  You can expect firsthand report in an easygoing style from our new contributor, as you’ll see in his recap of the Strong America Now conference held in Des Moines last month.

Hello Freedom Fighters and Lovers alike. I wanted to take a breif moment to introduce myself as this is my first time posting here with Steve Hoodjer’s Iowa Freedom Report.

My name is Brandon Echols and I am a near-lifelong Iowan. I have lived in Anamosa since I was one year old, originally being born in Rolla, Missouri. And, yes, I have a produceable birth certificate I can share.

I am a Deputy Chair of the Libertarian Party of Iowa, longtime Ron Paul supporter, and founder of the Eastern Iowa activist group, Republic Now (www.RepublicNow.tv)

What I am writing to you about today is the Strong America Now Summit on June 18 that I, and many friends and allies, attended. What follows is a step by step break down with plenty of home-spun humor to keep it lively.

If you are unfamilar with Mike George’s Strong America Now program and his plans to defeat the deficit, please go to www.StrongAmericaNow.com and take a quick glance for further reference.

I, Brandon Echols, am the Jones County Coordinator for Strong America Now (SAN from here on out) and yet I found myself as the only coordinator on the chartered bus taking us to the event. Which meant I was in charge. With responsibility in one hand and my bullhorn in the other, it was going to be a fun trip.

I went down the bus manifest, checking off the raised hands with the help of my right-hand man, Alvin Whitcher, and on the other side of the aisle, my second-hand man, CJ Flynn. CJ is a member of the Libertarian Party of Iowa’s Judiciary Committee (as well as Steve Hoodjer and Casey Head) and Executive Director of Iowa Parkour: Premier Parkour & Freerunning Club (www.CRPKMovement.com).

After the bus got moving and the head count was taken, it didn’t seem very long before we pulled into Marshalltown to board the rest of our passengers for the day, including a good-ole-boy named Orbille who would personally accompany the three of us throughout the day’s events.

After many lively chats with people of all different views and opinions, the bus came to a halt outside of the convention center and we began to unload.

Tim Grover, our state coordinator, waited for us in the lobby behind a bank of tables, along with many SAN workers. I was able to shake his hand and put a face to the voice over the phone I’ve been in weekly contact with leading up to this event. I turned in the bus manifest containg Marshal, Linn, and Jones Counties.

Working our way through the lobby and dodging campaign staffers rushing to push their agenda’s onto us, the group fanned out into smaller groups. We hit the tables filled with scones and coffee and devoured them greedily.

And then we ran into Rose.

Rose is an At-Large Representative of the Libertarian Party and the three of us had just met her at the LPIA’s State Convention in May. Rose will play an important part of our experience at the Summit later on.

Finally, we wandered off as a group and found our seats. We viewed a video on the lean-six-sigma process and how it applies to the Hummer-replacement for our troops, the MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected). Since 2008, Mike George and his organization using Lean Six Sigma have saved over one thousand of the lives of our servicemen and women by replacing the older hummer design with these.

Mike George impressed many when he came out on the stage and declared, “Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and Independents have made this possible!”

Then came a rapid-fire presidential candidate speak-and-go as one hit the stage after another.

Tim Pawlenty made it out first and took stage to moderate applause and cheers. His speech was very “ra-ra”, canned, and full of open promises without sincerity.

Before we found our seats, we had bumped into a Pawlenty staffer in the lobby. In fac,t several. They were everywhere, with PA WLE NTY scrawled across their SAN name badge. And we were invited to a special meeting with Tim Pawlenty in Room 204, which we turned down in order ot hear Mike George’s opening speech, paraphrased above.

After Pawlenty bowed-out, Herman “Deep Dish” Cain charged into center stage. Although simple in his statements, a raw, primal power rippled through his voice. I almost wanted to become…a Cainiac!

He rocked us like a Herma-Cain.

We began to think…Yes We Cain.

And then we woke up. Well, some of us did when he declared, “Of course I support an audit of the Federal Reserve.”

This author lost control of himself and shouted, “Liar!”, to which their was no reply, as I’m sure he has heard it before. That is probably why he is flip-floppin’ like flipper the dolphin.

Earlier in the lobby, after narrowly escaping Pawlenty’s boys, we ran into Herman Cain’s only staffer at the top of a bnak of escalators. A curly, red-headed Irishman. And he quickly set to work stickering us with “Yes We Cain!” labels.

The third presidential speaker came as a suprise to me as I did not know he was going to be there. Governor Gary Johnson took the stage, and then he took the crowd.

With a down-to-earth look and feel, Governor Gary Johnson skipped out to the front of the podium and our row of people cheered!

He very expertly and successfully brought the house down around our ears as this candidate spoke truly from the heart, and had no sacred cows he wouldn’t put upon the altar of public display.

Slinging a startling dose of “Get out of Iraq”, and followed it up with, “Nation Building is not conservative”. All of which met with cheers from the conservative crowd. Finally, the Governor pleaded with the crowd to please consider taking a look at repealing marijuana prohibition, to which the crowd seemed adequately impressed, and some even nodded and clapped.

Lunch time! We filed out of the large auditorium and before filing into an adjoining room for our meal, our group noticed a man selling candidate buttons at one of the tables. Alvin and I wandered over and saw they were 2 for $5. Pooling our cash, Alvin and I walked out with Ron Paul and Gary Johnson buttons, respectively.

Lunch was promptly served, deli sandwich of our choice of meats, chips, cookie, and a beverage of our choice. Sitting around a table, the four of us engaged each other in conversation and got to know one another. It was a great experience. CJ Flynn helped himself to seconds and even drank my soda on accident!

As soon as Lunch concluded, we ended up meeting back up with Rose but CJ and Rose were separated from Alvin, Orbille, and I during the second half of the presentation. They ended up sitting two rows behind and a little to the right. Then began this author’s quest to stay awake!

One Iowa Republican after another took the stage to use and abuse Mike George’s platform.

Republican Party of Iowa Chair, Matt Strawn took the stage and…I dozed off. Waking up, Representative Latham was on stage and droning on about something, but then Rep. Steve King came out of nowhere and i sat up to take notes.

Representative Steve King began speaking of restoring “constitutionality” to government, whatever that would mean from big Government, Patriot Act, Neo-Con wannabe Steve King.  Even though he voted for the bailout [Bush’s stimulus plan, he voted no on TARP – Ed.], he bashed Keynesian Economics (which was a common theme throughout the Summit – thank you Ron Paul 2008) and he also flaunted his solid history of “free-market economics”.  Then he borrowed once mroe form the Ron Paul campaign in 2008 and stated, “We should always preserve Liberty and Freedom over Security.”

My hopes were then dashed upon rocks forever when he declared American Exceptionalism.  The idea that god has blessed America above all other nations, which sounds good on the surface, has a very ungodly theology behind it. It is also a great stepping stone to Theocracy. The ground is level at the foot of the cross for all of god’s children…except Americans. They have a small hill they sit on as a throne next to the cross, right?

I looked back and CJ Flynn and Rose were gone. Awhile later, we got some air in the lobby and met back up to find that CJ had been “talked to” by a staffer outside for laughing at some remarks during one of the speakers. Leave it to us troublesome Libertarians!

Although I certainly did not agree with a lot of the Iowa Republican speakers as I am not willing to trust them on a whim, but the Summit overall was amazing, Strong America Now is sincere, and this author urges everyone reading this to go to www.StrongAmericaNow.com and sign up with the pledge.

Thank you for reading and God bless,

Brandon Echols.

www.RepublicNow.tv

 
 
 

Johnson, Tea Party Bus Tour Roll into Cedar Rapids

Backed by tea party banners, Governor Gary Johnson addresses the crowd at a Tea Party Bus Tour stop in Cedar Rapids.

Last week, Iowa Freedom Report told you about the Tea Party Bus Tour currently crossing the state promoting limited government and the gold standard.  Tonight, we chased down the bus (it’s an RV, actually) as it rolled into Cedar Rapids with freedom candidate for President Gary Johnson in tow.  This was the sixth stop for the Bus and the second to include the famous Governor “Veto Johnson.”  Johnson recounted his biography for the crowd, how he promised New Mexicans that he’s run the state the way he’d run his business - looking at the bottom line and getting value for cost.  This common-sense approach led to him vetoing hundreds of bills, thousands if you count the line-items he struck from the budget, saving taxpayers billions of dollars and enabling the state to go eight years without a single tax increase.

We’ve covered Johnson from his first visits to the state last summer, and he has clearly grown as a candidate in that time, laying out the specifics of his proposed entitlement reforms:  means-testing for social security so that the wealthy don’t get out more than they paid in, indexing increases to inflation rather than wages, raising the retirement age, and block-granting Medicare and Medicaid dollars to the states.  Johnson challenged Republicans on health care reform, agreeing with the party line that ObamaCare is unaffordable but that the 2oo3 version of the “Paul Ryan Plan” – the Medicare Prescription Drug Plan passed by Republicans was unaffordable as well.  Johnson also touched on foreign policy, framing it in an economic context, noting that the interest alone on debt owed to China is sufficient to pay for their entire defense budget.  Johnson noted that he, “didn’t get the memo that we were supposed to be financing China’s defense.”  Johnson also didn’t get the memo that he was to wrap up his speech at a given time, but it was so well received by the crowd of 40 or so activists plus media and Bus Tour staff that Tea Party leaders urged him on for several minutes so that he could hit every major issue.

Johnson was followed at the mic by Jeff Bell, a former Reagan staffer who lost the internal battle to get Reagan to move on the gold standard.  Bell now continues to fight as a lobbyist for American Principles in Action and their Gold Standard 2012 campaign.  Bell urged Iowa tea partiers to take up the fight for sound money, saying that Presidential candidates would not here the message from Washington, but would be forced to listen in Iowa.  He contrasted the failures of fighting for sound money in Washington with successes at the state level, where Utah has passed a law allowing gold and silver as legal tender and similar states have attempted to follow suit.  In Iowa, freedom legislators Kent Sorenson and Kim Pearson have introduced a bill to that end.

Speaking to Iowa Freedom Report after the presentation, Bell expressed his disappointment that many candidates, such as Federal Reserve bankster Herman Cain will pay lip service to a gold standard but not champion it.  Of the two pro-gold candidates, he offered Dr. Ron Paul the advice to focus less on the Federal Reserve and more on promoting the positive institutions that have worked in the past.  He needled Johnson to be more outspoken on the issue.  Johnson told Iowa Freedom Report in January that he would sign off on a competing currency bill and would back a return to gold given the opportunity, but he felt a narrow focus on the budget would hold more electoral appeal.

The Bus Tour goes on to Dubuque and Quad Cities this weekend.  Johnson is on his way to Des Moines for the Strong America Now Deficit Free America Summit.  We won’t be there to cover it, but hope to here good things from our friends in the movement.  It is not known for sure when Johnson will be back around as he has trips in the works to the other early-voting states of New Hampshire and Nevada.  A Johnson staffer informed Iowa Freedom Report that plans for RAGBRAI remain fluid as Johnson is expected at a major Young Republicans conference that week, but we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we do.

And in case you missed it elsewhere on the series of tubes, Johnson took some time after his Monday stop in Council Bluffs to tape a response to all the questions asked at the CNN debate from which he was excluded.  You can hear the answers that the statist media didn’t want you to hear at the Governor’s website.