Saturday, October 17, 2009

'I Ain't Got Time to Bleed'

Action-movie fans will remember that line spoken by Jesse Ventura's character in Predator, and it characterizes my attitude right now regarding the political situation in general and Doug Hoffman's NY-23 special election campaign specifically.

My friend Eric Dondero of Libertarian Republican has pointed out that, in 2006, my friend Erick Erickson of Red State (like many other conservatives) refused to support Libertarian candidate Bob Smither in Texas.

Like the NY-23 race, that 2006 Texas congressional election was a unique situation -- long story, no time to explain now -- and many people misunderstood it. My good buddy Stephen Gordon was on the Libertarian Party national HQ staff at the time, and he was in that Houston suburban district up to his eyeballs.

Gordo made it clear to me that the GOP's idea of running a hand-picked write-in candidate (lonnngg story) was a guaranteed loser, a harebrained scheme that would surely fail. If conservatives wanted to stop a Democrat from winning that seat, their only viable option was to support the LP candidate, Smither, who was a solid citizen, not any kind of radical wacko, and much preferable to the Democrat Nick Lampson.

However, unless you knew the specific on-the-ground details (which Gordo spent hours explaining to me in phone calls from Texas), any conservative Republican might reasonably think that Tom DeLay and the local GOP bosses knew what they were doing.

But they didn't, and Lampson stomped the crap out of DeLay's handpicked successor (who had a hard-to-spell hyphenated last name, a big reason why the idea of her as a write-in candidate was so ROTFLMAO ridiculous). The Democratic pick-up could have been avoided, if any influential conservative at the national level would have listened to Gordo. Three years ago, I was even less inlfuential than I am now, and no other conservatives of greater influence were listening to Gordo and so . . "For want of a nail," as they say.

Erick Erickson was not alone in making the mistake he made. So I have no problem with Erickson for not having backed Smither. A mistake is not necessarily a sin, and Erickson's willingness now to back the Conservative Party candidate Hoffman in NY-23 might indicate that he's learned from the mistake he and others made three years ago.

Whether there might be future occasions when similar calculations of principled pragmatism lead Erickson to back an LP candidate, who knows? We'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Whatever happens in the future, or whatever happened in the past, it is absolutely vital in this time of crisis that all friends of liberty focus laser-like on doing now the things that must be done now. I can't fix what went wrong in 2006 and, if there is still any bad blood between my friends Dondero and Erickson, I don't have time to negotiate an armistice.

Right now there is a battle being waged in upstate New York that may, to some important extent, determine the future of this nation. Meanwhile, in Washington, a tooth-and-nail struggle rages over the ObamaCare abomination. There is too much important work to be done now for anyone who is a genuine friend of liberty to be engaged in intramural score-settling.

There are now 17 days until Nov. 3. Let us lay aside everything incidental and focus all our efforts on doing what must be done now, or our common cause is surely doomed.

Like that squad of commandos in the jungle, faced with a deadly and relentless foe, we are in a fight for survival. And I ain't got time to bleed.

UPDATE: Rhymes With Right, a Texas GOP activist, puts a more detailed account of the 2006 Sekula-Gibbs fiasco in the comments. He makes mention of a meeting where the GOP "leadership" declared that it would be "out of order" to make a floor motion in favor of LP candidate Bob Smither who was already on the ballot. My man Gordo was on the phone telling me all about this, live from the scene, when that dirty little deal went down.

This is how the "Establishment Insider" crowd operates, see? Just like the House GOP "leadership" forced Jeb Hensarling to walk the plank for Scozzafava, the GOP "leadership" in Texas forced the local parties to walk-the-plank for Sekula-Gibbs. And this is just what Cornyn and the NRSC want to do by shoving Crist down the throats of Florida Republicans.

This kind of crass manipulation of the GOP mechanism by the insiders is absolutely deadly, in terms of destroying grassroots enthusiasm, and that's what Not One Red Cent is about: Fighting back against this kind of corrupt, crooked, backroom "kingmaker" crap.

As for the inside-libertarian-baseball criticisms from my friends Mr. Knapp and Mr. Dondero, it is beyond the scope of my influence to convince Erick Erickson or anyone else of what course of action they should take. Nobody in the GOP has ever solicited my advice, and on those rare occasion I've played armchair strategist by volunteering my advice, they always ignore me and do the opposite.

So none of this is my fault. If you're looking for a scapegoat, Blame Erik Telford. (I always do.)


  1. In what respect is Hoffman a "genuine friend of liberty" or deserving of the support of same? His self-selected trump card -- featured in his intro and at the top of the issues list on his front page -- appears to be the fact that he's anti-liberty, while his opponent is pro-liberty, on marriage.

    Scozzafava actually has a record in the state legislature of voting against bloated budgets. Hoffman targets his comments on spending at "pork and earmarks," which are a) the same thing and b) an infinitesimal portion of the federal budget.

    On taxes, Scozzafava very explicitly lays out her support for keeping the Bush tax cuts, permanently repealing the "death tax," and permanently fixing the Alternative Minimum Tax to keep it from extending its reach down the income ladder. Hoffman, on the other hand, holds the line at being against tax INCREASES, and even then only conditionally ("Before we even consider raising taxes we must first bring spending under control").

    They both advertise themselves as pro-gun. Hoffman's pro-life, Scozzafava's pro-choice ... and abortion is an issue on which "genuine friends of liberty" split over conclusions of fact (e.g. at what point personhood inheres in an unborn child), making it pretty much a wash for purposes of candidate evaluation.

    Conservative (and Conservative Party) support for Hoffman versus Scozzafava doesn't appear to feature any significant "genuine friend of liberty" component.

    That's not to say that conservative revolt against "the GOP establishment" isn't warranted on other grounds, but why try to make it into something it isn't?

    If Hoffman is elected, or prevents Scozzafava from being elected, libertarian-leaning Republicans who threw in with Hoffman in response to arguments like yours will realize, at some point, that they got fooled and used ... and that will make them less likely to listen to you in the future when there's a race with a real "genuine friend of liberty" factor involved.

  2. We need to push the Republican party to start backing some of these Independents and Conservatives. Hoffman could run under fusion voting in NY if the party would back him.

  3. I cannot believe that me - a staunch Rightwing Libertarian - is on the same side of the Nation's most well-known Leftwing Libertarian Thomas "Knappster" Knapp on this.

    You see what you've done Conservatives? You've royally pissed off us Libertarians to the point that the two most passionate spokesman for the opposite wings of the Libertarian movement, are on the same side of this political battle.

    Y'all's blatant hypocrisy has done this to us.

    Let me say straight out: I have absolutely nothing against Mr. Hoffman. He seems like a fine candidate. (In this Knapp and I disagree.)

    What I have a problem with is the damned double standard you Conservatives are taking on this race.

    You screwed us Libertarians royally back in 2006 with Bob Smither. We had the perfect candidate. We gave you Conservatives the perfect opportunity to once and for all throw your Libertarian buddies a bone.

    And Smither was no "whacky Libertarian" drug legalizer, prostituion-seeker type. He leaned heavily to the Conservative end of the Libertarian spectrum: Pro-Life, Christian, Crime Victim's advocate, local Hero (his daughter had been brutally murdered by a local Houston douche-bag which sparked a city-wide volunteer effort to hunt for her body.)

    No, we Libertarians especially us Rightwing Libertarians would be most inclined to support Hoffman in this race.

    But payback's a bitch.

    We'll support Scazzofava just on the principle of the thing.

    Unless you all come forward right now and pledge to your Libertarian friends, that in the future you will give greater consideration to Libertarian Party candidates in such special circumstances, than I - as the titular head of the Rightwing Libertarian movement - will happily join in with my Leftwing Libertarian buddy and sometimes foe Tom Knapp to publicly and enthusiastically endorse DeDe Scazzofava for Congress.

    Eric Dondero, Publisher
    Libertarian Republican
    Fmr. Senior Aide, US Cong. Ron Paul 1996-2003
    Founder, Republican Liberty Caucus
    Fmr. Libertarian National Commitee member
    25+ Year Libertarian Party member

  4. Mr. Dondero that kind of attitude is childish. What will your payback get you? On a petty point, you're willing to let the Left score a triumph--the same people that are, as we speak, seeking to destroy everything this country stands for. One reason many have been reluctant in the past to throw support behind Libertarian candidates is because, in fact, it has usually been the 'sell the streets' types who have run for office [my brother was actively involved in the Party in the Northeast from the late '70's through the mid-90's and I attended many an event]. That has changed, and, I must say, I've been very happy about that. Libertarians keep conservatives honest; conservatives keep libertarians feet on the ground. We also now, unlike in 2006, are facing the greatest threat to our freedoms and liberties since the Founding. We have to put aside all bad feelings, we libertarians and conservatives, and work together or we shall all hang separately. There is no principle involved in supporting a RINO. There is a principle involved in saving America from the destructive force of the Left.

    The Battle Rages On...

  5. This site'll make you a sexual Tyrannosaurus

  6. Dondero, of course, leaves a lot of stuff out about what happened in 2006 -- and proved himself to be unserious as well.

    Let's look at what happened in 2006 from the perspective of one of the precinct chairs who helped select that GOP candidate in CD22.

    1) DeLay screwed us all in 2006, seeking one last electoral attaboy in the primary when he knew he was going to withdraw -- and in doing so killed the candidacy of Tom Campbell, who was a strong Reagan conservative and would have made the good candidate in the fall.

    2) Delay's antics kept us from putting a candidate on the ballot for the fall -- unless he were to die, renounce his citizenship, or be convicted of a felony (I personally suggested sending him six feet of rope and instructions on how to use it).

    3) Prior to being told we could not place a candidate on the ballot, the grassroots leadership of the district (all of us precinct chairs) had vetted candidates and narrowed the choice to State Rep. Bob Talton and City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs. It appeared Talton would be the candidate (I backed Shelley). After the courts ruled against a replacement candidate, Talton indicated his lack of interest in the race because he would need to resign a safe legislative seat.

    4) On the afternoon of the meeting, I spoke to Smither and was comfortable with him getting the GOP not. I was even going to try to get him included in the endorsement event, as I agreed that he was our best option.

    5) RPT leaders and the county-wide officials from the four counties were not receptive to this idea -- I was told that I would be ruled out of order if i made a motion to endorse Smither, and would be escorted from the hall if I attempted to appeal that ruling to the entire body.

    6) Once Shelley Sekula-Gibbs was selected as the designated run-off candidate, there was no chance that Smither could win the election. Sekula-Gibbs, after all, did have a great deal of grass-roots support and was a sufficiently conservative candidate for the GOP to unite behind.

    CONCLUSION: All of this stands in contrast to the situation in New York, where the GOP candidate is not a conservative and there was significantly less vetting and public discussion of the candidate before her selection.

    But I will agree with Dondero on one thing -- bob Smither was a good guy and should have been the GOP choice.

  7. One correction:

    Mr. Dondero thinks that Hoffman is a "fine candidate" and that I disagree.

    That's not correct.

    I see some positives from Hoffman (his immigration position is reasonable, for example -- he's not a wild-eyed Know-Nothing xenophobe). I personally find Scozzofava a little more palatable, mostly on the marriage issue, but I'm not trying to put Hoffman down as such.

    Thing is, as far as I can tell, neither candidate is the obvious choice for libertarians. We're being asked to pull for Hoffman not because he's the "more libertarian" candidate, but because conservatives are rebelling against the GOP Establishment and want our support.

    Well, that should be a two-way street. When libertarians say "hey, conservatives, you should join with us on X," even if we throw you a bone, the response is sickly at best and often completely non-existent. But when conservatives say "hey, libertarians, you should join with us on X," all too often we do so even though we know you'll turn on us as soon as you get what you want.

    Case in point: Last year, conservatives did almost nothing but bellyache about John McCain, and that was part of what incentivized the Libertarian Party to hand its presidential nomination to a conservative.

    Did you say "hey, they're helping us out here, giving us a place to go?" Nope. By November, 99% of conservatives were holding their noses and voting for McCain out of party loyalty. He wasn't going to win the election, you KNEW he wasn't going to win the election, but rather than take a stand with libertarians when it would cost you NOTHING, you supported the GOP Establishment. And now you're begging us to help you re-start your on-again, off-again rebellion.

    Dudes ... come back when you're serious, and after you've PROVEN you're serious. Libertarians have given conservatives the benefit of the doubt for far too long and over too many instances of you proving you can't be trusted to run with it when you get it.

  8. Stacy,

    I understand why it's easy to dismiss my statements as "inside libertarian baseball criticisms," but it's bigger than that, and if it's not specific to you, it's at least relevant to your own project.

    Over time, you've repeatedly asserted common ground on the part of conservatives and libertarians, and you've couched pleas for cooperation in terms of that assertion (e.g. "There is too much important work to be done now for anyone who is a genuine friend of liberty to be engaged in intramural score-settling").

    Now, even though I'm a "left" libertarian, I can acknowledge the truth of the "common ground" claim, even though I may disagree with you on the location and extent of that ground. There are certainly cases where conservatives and libertarians will find themselves on the same side of issues, and when that's the case I don't see any reason why we shouldn't cooperate.

    But, like I said, this seems to generally be a one-way street. Libertarians are supposed to set aside their pet issues (in this case, same-sex marriage and perhaps abortion) to "help the conservatives fight Obama-Pelosi," but ask conservatives to set aside theirs (take the same two) in a particular instance because the alternative is worse, and they harumph about their principles and default to GOP party loyalty rather than throwing in.

    While I personally think that a libertarian-conservative alliance would be a dead-end street, I also think that if conservatives want such an alliance they should be willing to ante up themselves instead of expecting all the "give" and "slack" on issues and principles to come from the libertarian side.

    That's especially true given the conservative record of pissing away the support they do get from libertarians instead of actually using that support to good effect. Hell, last year the Libertarian Party gave its presidential ballot line to the conservatives and they threw it right down the crapper instead of making good use of it.

    If conservatives a) offer nothing to libertarians and b) piss away what libertarians offer them, what's the point of a "coalition?"

  9. Rhymes,

    Do you know what, if any, role Tina Benkiser had with the selection of Sekula-Gibbs? A friend, who is a former GOP state chairman, has been curious about this.

  10. Actually, Tina WAS NOT on board with Sekula-Gibbs during the first phase of the CD22 fiasco. She and the insiders were all backing Bob Talton. I was part of the group of Shelley insurgents trying to secure the ballot spot for her.

    After the courts declared there could be no replacement, Tina and company jumped on the Shelley bandwagon -- based upon the assumption that there MUST be a candidate with an official endorsement who was running under the GOP banner. And let's just say that if you look back to my references to the role of RPT (Republican party of Texas) leaders, Tina's role should be quite obvious, since she was there orchestrating the whole thing.

    Interestingly enough, what did Shelley Sekula-Gibbs get for her trouble? Six weeks in office won in the special election, a pre-planned mutiny in which all of Delay's staff immediately quit , and the same RPT leadership who ran the meeting finding a candidate with inside-the-beltway credentials to anoint for 2008 rather than backing someone who had proved she was a serious challenger to the Democrat carpetbagger Lampson. Suffice it to say that I was not sad that Tina Benkiser quit as state chair recently to go work for Rick Perry's campaign -- and that is simply one more reason I won't be backing him in the 2010 primary.

  11. The key here is that the Conservative is the real spoiler for the Republican. Libertarians have little real political influence in this race or region.