Blog Archive

Libertarian Party of Marion County Urges Passage of HB 1008

Indianapolis, IN – Due to the bill’s effort to remove the straight-party device atop the Indiana voter’s ballot, the Libertarian Party of Marion County supports Indiana House Bill (HB) 1008 and asks that you do the same.

After examining voter turnout in Indiana’s 2014 midterm election, the United States Election Project claims that Hoosiers had the lowest turnout of any state in the nation. By the Marion County Election Board’s own figures, voter turnout among registered voters came to less than 25%, a disappointing outcome, considering the large number of races featured on ballots throughout Marion County.

“It’s telling that of eleven states offering a straight-ticket voting option, a majority find themselves near the bottom of states in terms of voter turnout in recent elections,” stated Chris Mayo, Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Marion County. “On the other hand, the states that led the nation in voter turnout did not offer a straight-party voting option on their ballots.”

In a recent Senate Election Committee hearing, proponents of the straight-party voting repeatedly suggested that eliminating straight-party voting would prove “too difficult” for the average voter. Libertarians say they have more faith in their fellow Hoosiers.

With the order of the ballot as it stands, voters choosing the straight-party voting option often overlook the numerous non-partisan races that can be found found near the bottom of the ballot.

House Bill 1008 would eliminate the straight-party option, encouraging voters to identify the candidates competing in every race listed on their ballot. Members of the Indiana Senate Election Committee will hold a hearing on the measure Monday, March 30, and Libertarians request your contact in support to the committee’s members.

The Libertarian Party of Marion County is Indianapolis’ third largest party, and the only one advocating for smaller government, lower taxes, and more freedom. More information about Marion County Libertarians can be found at

All Politics is Local, but It Doesn’t Need to be Personal

(Originally Published by Howey Politics Indiana)

As a young Executive Director for the Libertarian Party of Indiana, I didn’t have an overwhelming amount of experience in grassroots politics. I had left a job as the producer of the Abdul in the Morning show on WXNT in 2008. My communication skills were the basis of my hiring at the LPIN, and knew that I had a deficit in the organizing aspect of politics. I visited every single bookstore in the Central Indiana area looking for books on grassroots politics.

The most impactful book was Tip O’Neil’s All Politics is Local, and Other Rules of the Game. The book is a collection of memories, advice, and illustrations from one of the 20th Century’s most skilled politicians.

The young Bostonian was in the last day of his first campaign for Congress when his former teacher, Elizabeth O’Brien, walked up and said, “Tom, I’m going to vote for you tomorrow even though you didn’t ask me.”

He was astonished. She was his neighbor, former teacher, and he spent years doing chores for her! He replied that he didn’t think he needed to. She countered with, “Tom, let me tell you something: People like to be asked.”

With one simple story, my view of politics changed from a series of news stories, polling data, impersonal formulaic strategies for victory, and issue-oriented politics in to a personal exercise. Politics is the people business. All of our strategies at the LPIN moving forward had to begin with the individual voter in mind, and we had to leave a good impression. In the absence of the money that enabled us to buy votes, our personal connections became paramount.

This strategy was fully realized by Rupert Boneham, the most personable candidate, and person, I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. After his campaign for Governor of Indiana began, he made made hundreds of campaign stops and met thousands of Hoosiers. Most had never heard of the Libertarian Party, but every single person that stood in line to meet him left with the basics of our principles and our party. Yes, I said lines. The average wait was 20 minutes to meet our candidate at a campaign stop. Few grassroots politicians ever see a line that long, and fewer leave the positive impression that Rupert left.

Rupert left that impression on his opponents as well. Every encounter with Mike Pence or John Gregg was warm and positive. It became clear to Pence and Gregg camps at the debates that Rupert was a sincere person with a genuine message. A true rapport developed between our team and each individual camp.

Our opponents respected us. And we respected them. And the friendly nature of our camp towards the sitting Governor would probably mean that Pence would answer Rupert’s call should he have an idea on policy. Rupert’s best work, Rupert’s Kids, is providing vocational education to an underserved population of our society: youth exiting the criminal justice system. Encouraging a return to vocational education was Rupert’s first platform plank. Several months later, it was adopted by the Pence campaign. True to his promise, the Governor has made it a priority in his administration.

Had we treated our political opponents with hostility, I believe our message would have had less influence on policy outcomes. Libertarians run to win, AND to have our ideas stolen.

I am sure that somewhere a Libertarian partisan is cursing me for exposing the horrifying fact that Rupert liked his opponents. Or that Andy Horning had the same relationship with Mourdock or Donnelly. And I say to my fellow party member: get over it.

Rupert, Gregg, and Pence had different ideas about how the state ought to function. Those ideas have serious consequences for our state. We lose the ability to discuss those ideas when we choose to treat politics as if it is another category on TMZ. It leads to bad government.

Politics is exciting when one has a hot piece of gossip to share. Somedays, the, “Where can this information be shared to effectively help my team” game was the bulk of my day. Gossip is natural. It is the people business after all.

This gossip game is the root cause of our broken political discourse. The gossip game breaks down civility. Fear of misrepresentation stops honest people from openly discussing their true opinions.

So I am going to try and do less of it. I am going to make the personal choice to only discuss the names of other politicos when I hear an idea that I can affirm or debate. If I disagree with it, I will make it about the idea and not the messenger.

If enough of those in the political industry choose to do the same, the political class can regain the trust and respect of their fellow citizens. Personally, I am going to do my best to emulate Rupert’s style, and to make the people business less personal.

A Million Little Pieces… Of Government

(Originally Published by Howey Politics Indiana)

Over the last week, terrible and awesome events have grabbed our headlines.

The first was a horrifying accident by Indycar Champ Dario Franchitti. In a hasty, split-second decision, Franchitti made a pass in the Houston Grand Prix, and the move launched his car in to the catch fence, and sprayed the crowd with debris. Fortunately, the spectators and the three-time Indy 500 champ will miraculously survive the crash. Dario’s crash looked brutal because of the thousands of pieces flying away from the driver; carrying with them the force meant for his body.

Franchitti’s accident led me to wondering if our government isn’t headed for a serious crash itself. Our hulking leviathan has continuously grown centralized, and decision-making has become as flexible as Ray Harroun’s Marmon Wasp. The government is still shut down, and we are hurdling towards default with dysfunction at the top. Physics certainly is not the cause, but we have violated the principles as sound as gravity itself.

The larger man-made institutions grow, the less functional they become. The less functional a government becomes, the more harmful it is to those inside. It is my fear that our government has grown so large that it is no longer able to function.

One of the paver stones in our long road to national dysfunction is our collective shift from a nation that sees itself as a collection of states versus a nationalist perspective. It is hard to pinpoint when we stopped seeing our nation as a compact of 50 labs of democracy, and began seeing ourselves as a single nation. When did the United States just become America?

A strong central power was not something designed by our Founders. The states created the federal government, and limited it with a constitution. In it, they outlined 17 specific functions the federal government may exercise. These powers include regulating commerce with foreign nations, coining money, and running a post office. And then in the 9th and 10th amendment, they declared that anything not enumerated in that document is left to each state to decide.

Over time, the nationalist perspective rose, and achieved dominance with Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln is often put at the top of the Presidential rankings. He is regarded as a hero, emancipator, a man of wisdom, and the man who kept the Union together.

It is that last reason that I find him a complicated hero. In an effort to keep the Union together, he greatly grew the power of the Federal government. He suspended Habues Corpus, he issued executive orders that imprisoned journalists and newspaper editors, closed over 300 newspapers, and allocated military spending without the consent of the Congress. These are serious breaches of civil liberties and human rights.

I consistently struggle with the historical question: Every nation ended slavery in that century peacefully. Why were we the ones that fought a civil war where 850,000 Americans died? The idea of succession was meant to give civilized people a peaceful exit from a political institution that no longer represented them.

Jefferson’s idea of the founding was that our Constitution were merely a temporary convenience, and should it no longer be necessary, those binds could be dissolved for something more advantageous. Why not several confederations inhabiting America? That is a far cry from Lincoln’s view that the Union should be preserved by even the worst means necessary.

So why does any of this matter today? Those currently arguing for a stronger central government need Lincoln as a pretext for their own plans. If we need to read emails in a time of war, it is to protect our nation. Even Lincoln did it. We need to detain prisoners of war indefinitely, and it is ok, because even our hero Lincoln did it. The idea is even reinforced each day across the nation as the pledge is said: “one Nation under God, indivisible.”

I am not arguing for succession. In this day and age, no serious political thinker should. I am arguing that State and City governments ought to start thinking independently. Protect us from our dysfunctional federal government.

What can they do to survive without federal grants? What can local politicians do to empower their communities? And voters ought to choose politicians that put their local interests first.

Government power should rest as close to the individual voter as possible. Apathy sets in as individuals have lost their ability to directly influence those making decisions for them.

The modern political class needs to find ways to return power to the local level. If we apply the principles of IndyCar racing to our political history and present, we are all a little safer if things break into thousands of pieces as opposed to one hulking mass.

We Fail To See History Repeating in Our Own Time

(Originally Published by Howey Politics Indiana)

On October 11, 1912, George and Ollie Risley weren’t concerned with the Italo-Turkish war. On that Friday, they were concerned with the difficult task of childbirth on a small family farm in Knox County, Indiana. Lucky for your columnist, all went well, and they welcomed my great-grandfather Miles in to the world. My best guess is that the poor, Knox County farmers never heard of the small conflict that would one day impact their family.

Only seven days later would the small regional conflict come to a close with the signing of the Treaty of Ouchy. For the past 13 months, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Italy had waged war on the lands destined to become modern-day Libya.

What caused the Italo-Turkish War? One must look back 34 years to the Congress of Berlin.

The once-great Ottoman Empire was flashing weakness as its institutions of government began to erode. As a result, the surrounding powers began to annex their lands. Especially antagonistic were the Russians, who repeatedly tried to nibble away at the northern edges of the Balkans and the Caucuses. This sparked the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78.

The policemen of the world, Great Britain and the rest of the 19th century G8, had to intervene to end the conflict. The British went as far as sending a fleet of battleships to Constantinople to stop the Russians from entering the city. At the Congress of Berlin, the Great Powers carved up foreign lands lost by the Ottoman Empire. The “sick man of Europe” was humiliated and broken by the loss. At the end of the Congress, the Italians felt they had not been received their fair share of the ailing Empire.

This was a wrong they intended to right. In 1902, the French signed a secret treaty with the Italians that offered them a consequence-free invasion in to Tripoli on the northern shores of Africa. After an extended propaganda campaign by the Italians, the public shifted their support for the invasion that came on September 29, 1911. (Notably, the most outspoken critic of the war was a young journalist and activist by the name of Benito Mussolini. In September of ’12, he participated in a riot against Italy’s “imperialist war.” For this, the young socialist spent five months in jail.)

Fast-forward 13 months, and the Treaty of Ouchy is signed. The Italians were given the lands of Libya, and the Turks once again humiliated and weakened. This set off a sense in the Balkans that liberation could be theirs for the taking. A sense of nationalism spread, and Serbia, Greece, Montenegro and Bulgaria formed the Balkan League and launched the first Balkan War. This then led to the Second Balkan War. And that led to the Great War.

Pop history teaches that the Great War, or World War I, was caused by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria by the Bosnian Serb Gavrilo Princip on June 28, 1914. The assassination then led to a crisis that led to the invoking of dozens of treaties that entangled the Great Powers in a war that killed 15 million people. If including the Spanish flu, or the Great Influenza, the toll is 65 million.

The spark that led to the killing of 3.6% of the Earths population in 4 years may have been the death of Ferdinand. The cause was imperialism and intervention of the previous 100 years. The Great Powers chose for other nations and states what paths must be followed. This led to revolts. The revolts led to wars. The wars led to treaties that failed to respect those living in the new boundaries. And the cycle began anew. For instance, the Treaty of Versailles led to World War II.

It was in World War II that George and Ollie lost a son, and Miles lost a younger brother. George Risley Jr., 25, was a fighter pilot flying over Normandy on June 7, 1944. He was killed in action.

History has two groups of people. The first are the world-shapers, the heroes and villains, and the notable exceptions. The second are the vast majorities of those in-between that fail to see history happening in their time. The first group rarely sees the effects of their decisions on the second group. And it is the second group that allows it to happen.

Any honest observer of world events today can see that history is happening around us. The governments created by fall of the Ottoman Empire now are crumbling themselves. The Arab Spring was set off by one particular moment. Mohammed Bouazizi was a Tunisian making less than $10 per day. On December 17th 2010, a female inspector slapped him, confiscated his scales, and he snapped. Outraged, he lit himself on fire outside of the local government building. Protests erupted across the nation, and his death two weeks later made him a martyr in the fight over corruption. Tunisia’s leader of 23 years, Ben Ali, fled the country two weeks later.

Was the Arab Spring set off by just this one incident? Do the dictatorial rulers that are being overthrown exist in a vacuum? Or does the imperialist and interventionist mindset still exist today?

I argue that it is softer than in the past, but the Great Powers of the 20th and 21st century manipulated lands they did not own and people they did not have the authority to control. The Great powers toppled governments. Propped up murderous regimes. Provided chemical and conventional weapons to rebel groups that eventually used them on us in future wars.

Now we are told that we “must do something” again. We should not ignore history. Let’s do nothing, and empower those in the second group to become their own world-shapers.

“Thanks to the Communist Party of China, we now know the path to poverty alleviation is Capitalism.”

In 1981, China counted for 43% of the world’s poor. In 2010, China accounted for 13% of the world’s poor. What changed within China? Capitalism.

“Thanks to the Communist Party of China, we now know the path to poverty alleviation is Capitalism.” – Fareed Zakaria

Need some RSS Feeds and Podcasts?

A friend recently asked for my .OPML of podcasts and RSS feeds. I scroll through a ton of material to feed several beasts, and have collected, weeded, and sorted a system of RSS feeds that work for me. I figured I’d share them here in case anyone is interested.


Podcasts – About 200 of my favorites. I use Downcast as my app. –
Tailored RSS Feeds – What I consider the essentials (around 500). I read these with Feedbin. On the iPad I use Mr. Reader. On the Mac, I use Readkit. –
Mega RSS Feeds – This is YEARS of collecting feeds, and it is unkempt. It’s about 3800 feeds. I enjoy the broad view it gives, and I look through them on Feedly. –

If you put these in and have to spend three hours undoing what you did, I am not responsible. LOL

The Self-Absorption of the Syrian Discussion

It is completely self-absorbed and arrogant to launch military strikes on another country to save the credibility of a President, the Presidency, or a nation. This really hit home last night as I watched an interview with a Syrian activist. His message: Save your bombs. You don’t care about us anyways, and you’ve now put us in a terrible position either way.

Video: Former FBI Agent Admits All Digital Communications Are Recorded and Accessible to the U.S. Gov.

In an interview May 1, 2013 on CNN’s Erin Burnett Show, former FBI Counterterrorism Agent, Tim Clemente surprised many by stating that the U.S. Government has access to all digital communications.

This means only one thing, everything we do and say on the phone, text messages, over email, social networking and other digital communications are being recorded. Not only that, but the federal government has access to it ALL.

Spangle: Obama in 2007: No More Wiretapping Of Citizens – LOL

Senator Barack Obama at Woodrow Wilson Center on Terrorism, 8/1/07:

Spangle: How Much Blame should the GOP get for the NSA Scandal?

Republicans, you know how mad you are at Obama for this NSA phone tapping scandal? Let’s look at the politicians you vote for.

Let’s take current Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a so-called champion of liberty. Take a look at this, and then start asking them questions:

“Congressman Pence voted yes on allowing federal government electronic surveillance without a warrant (September 2006), voted against requiring FISA warrants for wiretaps (March 2008), and voted for the REAL ID Act (February 2005). He voted for the USA PATRIOT Act in 2001 and voted to make it permanent in 2005. In 2005 and 2006, Pence voted for the Military Commissions Act, voted for the Electronic Surveillence Modernization Act, and voted against a resolution to ban inhumane treatment (torture) of detainees held by U.S. forces.” -

“The Patriot Act is essential to our continued success in the war on terror here at home.” – Mike Pence

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