Friday, October 21, 2005

My Libertarian Party Cruise Convention Concerns

I'd like to raise some questions regarding the upcoming cruise, which some on this list may be able to answer.

(First off, just for the record, I am ambivalent about the cruise. Undecided as to whether it's a good idea.)

But here's some issues I worry about:

* TIME FACTOR. At our last state convention, many resolutions submitted by the Platform Committee and Program Committee never made it to a floor vote, because of lack of time.

I later heard grumbling from some delegates that other delegates had intentionally delayed the floor votes by raising endless trivial questions and objections and suggestions. This was because these delegates feared they would lose the vote, so they killed resolutions by preventing them from coming to a vote.

This is not good. Delegates should have the opportunity to vote on every resolution, and not lose that opportunity due to the clock.

Now I see that during this cruise we'll only have one day for business. Partially, I suppose, because people want to have fun on a cruise. Which means still less time for business. Not good.

* QUORUM FACTOR. A few times at the last convention it looked as though there may not be enough delegates on the floor for a quorum. In which case, no business could get done.

Apparently, many delegates kept wandering off to attend hotel convention events.

On a cruise, there'll be many more events to compete for delegates' attention (and please don't assume that won't happen just because there'll only be one day of business).

What if more delegates than usual show up, hoping to have fun on a cruise (which already shows you why they're there), but an even greater percentage of them don't show up for business. Will we have a quorum? Maybe not. Again, not good.

As I said, I'm undecided about this cruise, but it seems we need to consider the LACK OF TIME to do adaquete business, and a LACK OF QUORUM that may also ensue.

Whatever we do, I strongly urge the party to insure that there is adaquete time for all convention business, even if it means extending the business session for several hours or even another day.

-- Thomas M. Sipos, Vice Chair, L.A./Westside Region.

Orange County Libertarians Oppose Cruise Ship Convention

The below message was posted on the Los Angeles County LP listserv by Norm Westwell:

>> I encourage other Central Committees to adopt this resolution and send a clear message that whatever the LPCA intentions, we are a party of inclusion, not exclusion.

Norm Firecracker Westwell
On 10/19/05 the Orange County Central Committee adopted the following resolution:

Resolution to oppose the 2006 California Libertarian State Party Convention from convening outside the state of California upon a ocean vessel bound for the country of Mexico

Whereas the Libertarian Party of California is now scheduled to hold our upcoming 2006 Annual Convention on a cruise ship bound for a foreign land and

Whereas the vessel contracted is not a vessel of the United States fleet and

Whereas in order to attend this convention, members in good standing will be unduly and unnecessarily encumbered to obtain passports in order to participate in official party business and

Whereas Libertarian Party members in good standing who are prone to sea sickness are not likely to participate and

Whereas Libertarian Party members in good standing who are afraid of transport on an ocean going vessel are not likely to attend and

Whereas Libertarian Party members in good standing who cannot lawfully travel to a foreign land will not be able to participate in official party business and

Whereas Libertarian Party members in good standing who refuse to travel to a foreign land will not be able to participate in official party business and

Whereas these things all tend to exclude rather than include Libertarian members in good standing from participating in official state party business,

Be it resolved, the Libertarian Party of Orange County admonishes the Libertarian Party of California for its action to cause the 2006 Libertarian Party State Convention to be convened upon a cruise ship bound for a foreign land (Mexico) and hereby opposes the event and

Resolves itself to work toward preventing the 2006 Libertarian Party State Convention event from occurring on a vessel at sea and

Resolves itself to work toward having the 2006 Libertarian Party State Convention in a hotel on dry land in the state of California in the United States of America as in previous years and

Resolves itself to removing from office any California Libertarian Party officer who does not oppose the event and participates in party business on the vessel as scheduled.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Don't Blame the Devil This Halloween

On December 7, 1982, Richard Delmer Boyer of El Monte mur­dered an elderly Fullerton couple, stabbing Francis Harbitz 24 times, his wife Aileen 19 times. During trial Boyer blamed his actions on drugs and horror films. Apart from consuming whiskey, speed, marijuana, and cocaine on the day of the murders, he said that while visiting the Harbitzes (his employers), he'd experienced an LSD flashback of Halloween 2, rendering him unable to distin­guish between reality and the slasher film. Boyer was convicted in 1984 and again in 1992 (the first conviction having been over­turned on appeal).

Boyer's excuse follows a long tradition of blaming the media in court. In 1928, Robert Williams killed his maid, saying he'd been possessed by a vision of horror actor Lon Chaney from London After Midnight. More recently, after the 1999 Columbine massa­cre, victims' families sued Time Warner, Palm Pictures, and 11 videogame makers, accusing The Basketball Diaries and the video­games Doom, Duke Nukem, and Redneck Rampage of contributing to Harris and Klebold's school shootings. The Basketball Diaries, the videogames Quake, Doom, and Castle Wolfenstein, and porn web­sites were also blamed for a less famous 1997 school shooting by gunman Michael Carneal.

Blaming the media rarely works in court, largely due to our First Amendment. Yet blaming Hollywood is no less rational than other "devil made me do it" defenses, whether the devil takes the form of drugs, guns, or psychological "syndromes." It's not that the devil in question hasn't influenced or facilitated the viol­ent crime. It's what?!

Media--like drugs and guns and cars and much else--can kill. Advertisers spend tens of billions yearly thinking that their 30 second ads will influence our behavior. Activists present media awards for positive plugs. Minority groups monitor the media to discourage negative portrayals of their constituents. Clearly, everyone believes that media influences behavior, so it's disin­genuous whenever some media executive or star whines, "Hey, if you don't like it, just change the channel!" They only believe that until it's their pet group that's being gored.

The issue is not whether media affects behavior (of course if does), the issue is liberty. And that includes the freedom to consume whatever media--and ingest whatever drugs, and possess whatever firearms--one wishes. The flip side is responsibly. Rapists and murderers shall not be permitted to blame porn sites or slasher films or guns or psychological "syndromes" for their violent crimes. Even if drugs were involved. You don't ban hor­ror films just because Boyer thought he was reenacting Halloween 2. Nor do you ban cars just because Texas housewife Clara Harris intentionally ran down and killed her husband. Nor do you ban drugs or guns just because some individuals misuse them.

Sure, Rosie O'Donnell may disagree. She's said that if ban­ning guns "saves even one life" it'd be worth it. Yet banning all cars (emergency vehicles excepted) would result in vastly more lives saved--but at what cost to liberty?

Unfortunately, Americans increasingly shun responsibility. They demand freedom, but when they misuse their freedoms they're quick to blame drugs (legal and illegal), guns, postpartum de­pression (Andrea Yates's excuse for murdering her children), videogames, porn sites, slasher films, Adopted Child Syndrome, Chronic Lateness Syndrome, UFO Survivor Syndrome (I'm not making those up; visit for dozens of "syndromes" used in American courtrooms so far), anything to evade blame.

Victims and their families often oblige criminals' ridicu­lous excuses, seeking the deeper pockets in the ensuing lawsuits. Lawyers and therapists likewise support this nonsense, the latter earning money as "expert witnesses" and scribblers of the next trend in psychobabble books. Worst of all, government is quick to intervene, eroding our freedoms in order to ban or regulate something else for the "safety of the children."

Do you wish to be free? Or do you just like the way it sounds when politicians say "freedom"? Because if we are to pre­serve our liberty, if we are to prevent government from trans­forming our society into a padded playpen for adults, where bad things are confiscated by the teacher but no child is punished for being bad, then we must demand that everyone take respon­sibility for their actions.

If the devil is omnipresent, if people are weak and prone to syndromes and easily forced by Satan to do bad things, then it follows that the state must be likewise omnipresent to protect us weak mortals. Conversely, free people can be trusted with grown-up things, like drugs and guns and explicit lyrics, because they control their own demons.

Friday, October 07, 2005

What if they Made A Propaganda Film and Nobody Noticed?

What If They Made a Propaganda Film

and Nobody Noticed?

By Brad Linaweaver and J. Neil Schulman

On March 30, 1981 outside the Washington Hilton Hotel, an insane young man named John Hinckley, Jr., in an attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, shot the President, the White House press secretary, James Brady, Secret Service Agent Timothy McCarthy, and DC Police Officer Thomas Delanty.

The president’s life was saved by emergency surgery at George Washington University Hospital, as were Agent McCarthy’s and Officer Delanty’s. Press Secretary Brady suffered incapacitating and permanent brain injury.

When asked why he attempted to kill the president, Hinckley claimed he was trying to impress actress Jodie Foster. These are all historical facts.

Now. We’re writers of “what if” novels, short stories, and screenplays.

What if we screenwriters were to portray in a major motion picture reminiscent of the cold war thriller, The Manchurian Candidate, that Jodie Foster had seduced and brainwashed John Hinckley, Jr., into shooting President Reagan?

Since our movie would be clearly labeled as fiction, should anyone take our movie seriously? Should Jodie Foster have a cause of action against us for portraying her inaccurately and negatively in a movie? Would public rebuke and protests be forthcoming? Should we have an expectation that the movie studio releasing our movie would receive loud protests from Nancy Reagan and Sarah Brady?

Let’s ask another “what if.”

It’s 1943, and the United States is at war with Nazi Germany.

Walt Disney Studios releases an Alfred Hitchcock-style thriller in which German Americans on a cross-country air flight are wrongly suspected of sabotaging the plane, and it turns out the saboteur is actually an American soldier engaged in an elaborate robbery scheme.

Would President Roosevelt have considered such a movie to be Nazi propaganda? Would the House UnAmerican Activities Committee have subpoenaed Walt Disney to explain why Nazi propaganda was appearing in an American wartime movie?

Would American pilots have been painting over the Mickey Mouse cartoons on their warplanes, and the American public boycotting Dumbo?

Would Walt Disney have ended up in prison, charged with sedition during wartime?

Of course, except in our imaginations, none of this happened.

In real life Jodie Foster never had anything to do with the insane John Hinckley’s fixation on her, and in real life Walt Disney spent World War II producing patriotic films such as Victory Through Air Power and Private Pluto.

Then why, during a War on Terror that began on September 11, 2001, when a cabal of Arab terrorists hijacked four American commercial passenger jetliners, destroying the planes, murdering all passengers, bringing down the the World Trade Center in New York City, and severely damaging the Pentagon – murdering thousands -- do Jodie Foster, the Disney Studios (as Touchstone Pictures and Buena Vista Pictures), and the others involved with the production of the Number One Box Office hit, Flightplan, believe that it’s not enemy propaganda to portray a United States Federal Air Marshal and a flight attendant aboard a flight from Germany to New York as conspirators willing to commit murder, child kidnapping, and acts of terrorism, while the Arab passengers aboard the flight are portrayed as innocent victims of unfair suspicion and bigotry?

We asked this question of David M. Adams, Special Agent in Charge, Office of the Director, United States Federal Air Marshal Service.

Agent Adams told us, "The producers of Flightplan intially inquired whether the Federal Air Marshal Service would provide input to the portrayal of Air Marshals in the film. We agreed to do so but they never got back to us. … The inaccurate portrayal of Federal Air Marshals in Flightplan is unhelpful in that its negative portrayal of what I know to be dedicated law-enforcement professionals may potentially undermine domestic and foreign airline passengers' confidence in our mission to safeguard passengers and crew from terrorist threats."

So why has there been not one word of protest against what during World War II would have been called enemy propaganda, and during our current War on Terror is, at the very least, a vicious slander against the soldiers on the front line of defense – the Federal Air Marshals?

Why, apparently, do no prominent figures see it as their mission to identify and protest enemy propaganda when it hits the number one spot in box office revenues? Where’s the President? Where are the victims of the 9/11 attacks? Where are Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Bill O’Reilly?

Don’t tell us that “it’s only a movie.”

Hitler and Stalin both understood the ideological value of Hollywood movies. The original mission of the House UnAmerican Activities Committee included rooting out Nazi propagandists. It’s only when World War II ended and the Cold War began that HUAC’s focus shifted from Nazi Party members conspiring to aid the Third Reich to Communist Party members conspiring to aid the Soviet Union.

And, yes. We’re aware that this article contains a spoiler, revealing the “plot twist” of Flightplan.

Isn’t attempting to financially hurt the supporters of terrorist propaganda supposed to be part of the War on Terror?


Brad Linaweaver and J. Neil Schulman are award-winning science-fiction writers working in Hollywood. An early article by Linaweaver was praised by Ronald Reagan in a radio broadcast that is in print in the book Stories in His Own Hand: The Everyday Wisdom of Ronald Reagan; and many of Linaweaver’s stories have been praised by Ray Bradbury. Schulman’s books have been praised by Charlton Heston, Milton Friedman, and Anthony Burgess. Schulman wrote one of the best remembered Twilight Zones and Linaweaver is co-author of the Doom novels.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Cindy Sheehan May Oppose Hillary -- As a Libertarian!

The chair of the NY Libertarian Party has asked Cindy Sheehan to run on the LP ticket against Hillary Clinton. Details: