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(The 2002 Libertarian Party Convention)
by Carol Moore
See my report on 2004 convention

Note: This report includes the version printed in the September 2002 LIBERTY Magazine as well as additional material in italics which was omitted from the LIBERTY article due to space limitations or other reasons, as well as updating comments. See Carol's convention photos.

        Overall the Convention was a lot of fun.  My main regret is not having more time and especially energy to go from delegation to delegation to put more names and e-mail addresses with faces!  And I did miss many of the speakers.  In short, Ed Thompson was great; Gary Johnson was cool; Ed Masters was solid; Otto Guevera was inspiring.

         As a 23-year member of the Libertarian Party, I always tell people you can have a lot more fun with it if you don’t take it too seriously.  Unfortunately, I don’t always take my own advice.
        So at the 2002 National Convention I once again found myself deeply involved in trying to influence the decisions of both the delegates and of the Libertarian National Committee through two groups I helped initiate -- Libertarians for Peace and Pro-Choice Libertarians -- and through running for Secretary against long-time LNC honcho Steve Givot.
       I won a few battles and lost a few -- and have more entertaining stories about the struggles between those motivated by principles and those motivated by prestige, perks, paychecks, promotions and all the other trappings of political power. Jefferson said that revolutions have to be fought at least every 20 years.  In the Libertarian Party, we have to fight them every Convention.


       The pre-convention Libertarian National Committee meeting, with chair Jim Lark presiding, began with the treasurer's report. In the spring of 2001, Deryl Martin took over for LNC Treasurer Mark Tuniewicz, who quit without explanation, prompting speculation that he was disgusted with the staff’s financial shenanigans.  (However, he also gave indications of having soured on politics in general.) At the pre-convention meeting of the Libertarian National Committee, Martin argued that the LNC had to change its culture of budgeting and use more project accounting to avoid continuing budget shortfalls, something I remember being discussed at the December 2001 LNC meeting -- and how many times before that? Martin blamed the drop in membership on the recession, the Sept.11 attacks, members’ refocusing on local activism, and the disappointments from the 2000 elections. He didn’t mention that by losses in membership caused by the “Sept. 11 attacks,” he meant all the people who bailed once they realized the party meant it when it said it was non-interventionist. And he didn’t mention all the Republicans brought in by Project Archimedes who left when George Bush was elected. Nor did he mention those disgusted by presidential candidate Harry Browne’s involvement with former LP Director Perry Willis’s improper work for his campaign -- not to mention those disgusted because Browne was investigated at all. (Many Browne fans hope that once any FEC-related statutes of limitations have passed, Browne will apologize publicly to LP members for this failure of judgement.)
         Given the headquarters’ profligacy ($100,000 a year office space, comfortable salaries for long-time bureaucrats, the ability to fork out tens of thousands of dollars to help LNC or staff cronies in need), some members still worry about the future of the national Libertarian Party. Will those used to prestigious offices and good salaries be willing to downplay principles to keep membership steady and the money flowing in? Are they doing so already?

 * * *
        The Party’s new director of marketing, Mark Schreiber, has 25 years of experience; reportedly, his work for Chi Chi’s restaurant is one of his biggest successes. He said that he sees “potential problems” in developing the LP as a “brand,” namely, the Statue of Liberty logo, the name of the Party (“Liberty Party” might be better), the slogan “the Party of Principles,” and strategies like Politically Homeless Booths. “Replacing these would just make my job a lot easier.”    By that point some of us wanted to replace him!
        At the state chair’s breakfast the next day Mark began the same spiel by telling the sad story of how when he was running for Indiana Lt. Governor he did a long interview with a reporter. The final story focused on the Libertarian Party’s support child pornography, which is how the reporter interpreted the LP national platform. I got disgusted and walked out.
        Later I told Mark that if during his campaign he had stressed to the reporter and the public that the Party supports freedom to do all sorts of things most people don’t approve of – but also supports the freedom in private, voluntary communities to prohibit these things – he would have avoided the “child pornography” problem in the first place!  This is an example of political ideology, not branding, being the solution to a problem faced by many libertarians.
         It seems to me that implementing his proposal would probably mean that a few LNC members and staffers would shape a new LP image –  and then expect us all to kowtow to it. But the LP is not an owner-controlled business that can shape and control a narrow image; it is an organic political body that must allow different state parties and individual candidates to craft the image that best suits them and their constituents.
         Eric Caron, the new director of development, reported that he had raised his whole salary for the year in his first month on the job. Caron, who formerly worked for the Heartland Institute and a D.C. membership association, is calling up dozens of major donors who haven’t been called in years by anyone who knows how to get money out of them. And he is going out and meeting with libertarian think tank-types and libertarian-oriented special interest groups. I’ve asked him what he would do if some major donors offered to contribute only if the LP softened its message on some issue. He assured me he’d make it clear the LP would not sell out its principles -- and try to get their money anyway. His biggest problem is an incredibly clunky database and accounting system. He is looking forward to using the popular development and fund-raising software Raiser’s Edge, which the staff is currently exploring on a trial basis. The Treasurer is leery of the Raiser’s Edge program and warns ominously that it will cost at least $80,000.
 * * *
        LNC member Joe Dehn brought up that he hadn’t received the report on who owed the LP money for more than 60 days. He requested the report at the March meeting and Operations Director Nick Dunbar implied he could get one out. Another LNC member tried to pooh-pooh the problem but Dehn demanded a response. This had been an issue during the year 2000 campaign when Harry Browne had been allowed to pay for LP NEWS  advertisements at his leisure.
        Nick confirmed that the only real debts were those due LP News  and that only Bill Winter knew the answer. Winter was standing in the back of the room, but no one asked him to report. I sensed a heavy blanket of fear and intimidation hanging over the whole discussion.
        Treasurer Deryl Martin said he did not ask for regular reports on this and assumed there were not many LP News accounts receivable overdue. Steve Givot huffed he was against the idea of individual LNC members asking for report because that’s an Executive Committee job. Joe Dehn moved that there should be a regular report of all accounts receivables over 60 days. This passed.
* * *
        Every year the LP hands out the Sam Adams Award for Outstanding Party Activist, the Thomas Paine Award for Outstanding Party Communicator, and the Thomas Jefferson Lifetime Achievement Award. In the past nominations were requested well in advance, through LP News. This time there was only a rather late email from LPHQ.
        Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Carla Howell immediately sent out repeated requests for supporters to nominate her, her partner and fundraiser Michael Cloud, and Harry Browne for the awards--even though Browne and Cloud had each won one previously. Not surprisingly, the three of them got 8 to 10 times as many nominations as the next highest scoring
 candidates. Given the skewed results of the nominating process, the LNC decided to remove the awards from the convention’s agenda.
 * * *
        Steve Givot, who has been trying to gut the platform for years, fantasized out loud in the December LNC meeting about the delegates suspending the rules to vote in the brand new platform -- one he obviously hoped to have a hand in writing. This idea met opposition.  However, the LNC can issue a new party program at any time and had not done so in 8 or 9 years. So Givot satisfied himself with rewriting the program.
        The program that he and the staff came up with was reviewed by the Advertising and Publications Review Committee and other LP members.  They variously thought it was too neo-conservative, too negative, or that it did not talk about LP successes or libertarian solutions. (It’s worth noting that, while the foreign policy section mentions bringing troops home, it mentions nothing about ending foreign aid and alliances.) These advisors cleaned up some of the more dubious language.
        The staff published the LP Program as a glossy pocket-sized booklet given to delegates. One of the rumors circulating at the convention, and relayed to me by an allegedly ?in the know? person, was that it cost $20,000 to print the booklet for convention delegates.  This seems unlikely--$20 a copy would be a little extravagant even for the national office.
       The LNC voted to accept the program, though it authorized changes to be made before it is finalized.    It was not clear to me who would be making the changes--and it will be two to four months before Steve Givot reports that in the even the draft LNC minutes.
    Update Note: In August 2002 all 26,000 odd members received a mailing including the pocket-sized “program”–the same version distributed to delegates.  So evidently the $20,000 amount was correct, my source just did not realize perhaps 30,000 copies had been printed up.  Members must demand that some changes be made in the brochure, especially its failure to mention that the LP wants to end military aid and alliances, as well as bring home all the troops.

          Steve Givot and other LNC big wigs have been promoting the Carver Governance Model but this LNC agreed to let the new LNC decide if it would adopt it.
          The Carver Model sets out logical and consistent principles of Board governance which certain sound like they would be an improvement over the haphazard LNC management of years past.  It helps the “The Board” clearly delineate parameters and lets staff rock out within them.  This is great if you have a narrowly focused organization with a relatively complacent membership, a fairly unified Board and a talented staff with no agenda of its own.
          However, the Libertarian National Committee reflects a range of political and regional interests, includes members with lesser or greater interest in contributing to the process, is laden with conflicts and intrigues and is dependent on members to elect a Chair who can handle it all.   This has lead to a situation where some staffers feel they have no supervision and can do what they want and promote people and viewpoints they prefer – and where others are more like puppets who follow the direction of whatever faction they feel is strongest in order to preserve their jobs.   Can Carver be used to solve the problem – or will it create a bigger problem?
          In application by a political party Carver might be used as a tool by which for any top dog faction of the party can gain and maintain control even more firmly than many feel such a faction does today, further squeezing out party diversity and undercutting “grass roots” desire for a more responsive and accountable LNC.   This issue was burped up in the second LNC meeting, described at the end of the report.


        I came into the Convention in a bit of a snit at the LP press staffers who seem to have the philosophy that if you can't make news, you can at least make jokes, especially sexually oriented ones.   I detailed this phenomena in the “Staff's Embarrassing Political Obtuseness and Pandering” section of my LNC/Staff Controversies web article.
        I was particularly annoyed by recent press releases ranting about Arab terrorism and terrorists, here and in Israel, which mentioned non-interventionism only in the last paragraphs where it is unlikely media people would read the LP’s actual position.  Press Secretary George Getz defended this approach to me at the Convention.  Staff writer Jonathan Trager has done so in e-mails to me.
        Communications Director and LPNEWS Editor Bill Winter, of course, was the author of the LP’s October 14, 2001 resolution issued one week after the United States government started bombing Afghanistan.  It said of the September 11 attack perpetrators "Such criminals must be rooted out and destroyed before more innocent people die. Their training camps and weapons must be eliminated. Their supply infrastructure must be shattered." And made reference to this happening in “Afghanistan and in other nations."  Only later did the press release mention all the Constitutional hoops the U.S. government would have to jump through before it could go a-rooting.  Winter’s LPNEWS headline announcing the resolution, “LNC endorses military strikes,” made clear his biases.  After member outcry he quickly softened it to: “Libertarian National Committee backs "measured" anti-terrorist response.
      Knowing that communications director Bill Winter had given notice that he was quitting his job and that the hunt for a replacement was about to begin did not lessen my annoyance at the small number of press people I initially saw registering.  Note: To apply for LPNEWS Editor, send a resume to Executive Director Steve Dasbach <>, cc: Chair Geoff Neale <>.

        The LP press strategy seems to be sending out press releases, some of them silly, to try to get staffers on usually obscure radio stations. When one mentions they could hold press conferences to pump up press excitement for some libertarian initiative, they just whine that no one comes to their press conferences. Did it even occur to them to even try to hold a Convention press conference with, say, Texas Representative Ron Paul, New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and Wisconsin Gubernatorial candidate Ed Thompson?
        Anyway, it was not surprising that only a few members of the press showed, in addition to the obligatory CSPAN cameraman, Associated Press photographer and a Reuters and an Indianapolis Star reporter.
        I had a skirmish with Bill Winter, asserting that I managed to get lots of publicity as an amateur working the Waco issue. He said: “Oh, but that was a single issue.”  I replied: “And what is the Libertarian Party -- a representative of a couple of hundred single issues!”
        The AP photographer did ask for my name after taking photos of me with my Peace Flag in the background. And one of my two nominators for secretary got his photo on the front page of the Indianapolis Star because he was wearing an amusing hat. Visuals work, folks.
        After the convention Press Secretary George Getz reported that this convention got the best coverage he had seen since his first convention in 1996. He cited its being the first convention that earned coverage by every network affiliate, which was probably more a result of the party holding the convention in a small city. It’s a lot easier to get television coverage in Indianapolis than in Washington or Los Angeles. The convention also got the usual–  or maybe a bit less than usual -- coverage by C-Span and lined up the usual interviews on talk radio. George lived up to the LNC's minimal expectations -- their expectations just are not high enough.
        I believe the press coverage was more a matter of the LP’s curiosity value and the press’s sense of obligatory fairness than of the national party's news value. One of my campaign slogans was: “Issues build movements.”  Parties and candidates who work issues and make a difference generate real news that excite the public's imagination.  If we can't hire libertarians who know how to do that, we should at least hire a few quasi-libertarians who can teach them.
        Bill Winter refused to give a press credentials to James Barnett, whose report is on page 37, presumably because Liberty has published some unfavorable articles about the Harry Browne campaign. Oops!! No critics wanted here. Barnett had to join the Virginia party just to get access to the floor.
        I also heard plenty of complaints that another opportunity for outreach was completely overlooked. A convention of 8,000 delegates involved in the auxiliary ministries (outreach) of the Church of God in Christ were meeting -- and engaging in fervent capitalist activity through dozens of vendors. However, there was no outreach material to pass out to them -- and even if material had been brought, I doubt the old and tired “New Party” leaflet would have roused much interest.

 * * *
        Sarah Lawrence, the founder of the group “Taking Children Seriously, was scheduled for a 9:30 a.m. Friday talk titled ”Is that a Burqua on the Bedroom floor?” Today, she and a woman friend decided to see how Libertarians would react to a Burqua-wearing woman.
          Upon entering the Convention area they were immediately pounced upon by an LP staffer who was not impressed by “VIP” badges.  Because of an alleged terrorist threat to the nearby RCA dome, the security guard asserted that if the Burquas were not being word for religious purposes, the women would have to leave.  Security escorted the women to the women’s room to take off the burquas and then to the escalators and asked them to leave. The next day the LP staffer informed them she had had to report the incident to the FBI.  After the story spread among delegates, LP Executive Director Steve Dasbach apologized to Ms. Lawrence.
        Libertarians really should not let themselves be used like this by the security state.
 * * *
         LNC member Joe Dehn reported that there were 307 delegates at the beginning of the convention. Late this afternoon, he reported that the figure was up to 373. The official convention business opened with a motion to amend the bylaws to explicitly allow the seating of delegates whose names had not been submitted prior to the opening of the convention, but only if approved by a 7-8 vote of the convention. This technical correction was interpreted by many to be part of plot by National Chair candidate Eli Israel to pack the delegations.
          A rumor was circulating that Israel had dozens of Indianan LP members ready to pack various state delegations. Already about 15 Indiana LP members had been placed in Massachusetts to vote for Israel, the Massachusetts party chair and a candidate for national chair who was allied with Indianan Vice Chair Ken Bisson.
         After much contentious debate, the proposal passed by a narrow margin, but only after delegates demanded new proposed additions be listed by whether or not the person was an LP member from their own state or another state.
* * *
        At each convention the delegates vote on whether to “retain” each plank of the Platform. Abortion prohibitionists were ecstatic to note that the Women’s Rights plank passed by only 53%. However, at least one Platform Committee member, helped by several friends, encouraged delegates to vote “none of the above” on the whole platform as a way of showing support for the Platform Committee’s proposal to re-write the platform. Considering that 73% was the highest percentage garnered by any plank, it is likely that this effort cut down the Women’s Rights plank’s vote total by at least ten points. See  for all totals.  So don’t believe any abortion prohibitionist who tries to tell you that delegates almost dumped the plank!   (Visit if you want the government to stay OUT of the abortion issues.)
 * * *
        Treasurer Deryl Martin’s report to delegates was heavy on text and contained no supporting charts, graphs or lists of financial statistics. From the floor, Aaron Starr, Chair of the California Party and a professional CPA, made a number of criticisms of the report from a financial accountability standpoint. George Phillies maintains that an   efficient double entry bookkeeping system still has not been established, especially regarding accounts receivable, something the FEC finds of especially interest relating to federal candidates. Some on the national committee argue that sophisticated financial management is more important than good old fashioned accounting practices meant to capture errors and fraud. I myself don't know much about accounting, but I do know how to spell "Enron" and "WorldCom."

        Two proposed Bylaws changes affected grassroots members’ rights.  The Convention voted to require a statement of the reason for disaffiliation of an affiliate as a way of discouraging factions from using their pull with LNC members to help them take over a party, as many felt was done in Arizona.  Shot down was a proposal to replace the words "national or affiliate member" with "Party member" in Rule 10 regarding nominations for Party offices.  Many feared it would be interpreted to rule out those who only belonged to an affiliate party.
        Less controversial Bylaw changes made were:  deletion of an obsolete reference to ex officio delegates;  elimination of the state-by-state roll calls during elections of officers, except for the first vote for Chair;  requirement that only disbursements up to $100 may be in cash and over should be via check or electronic means; a new procedure for approval of proposals from the Bylaws Committee.
 Proposed amendments we never got to because of the short time allocated to Bylaws included: reversal of LNC decisions if the Judicial Committee fails to respond to any appeal to it;  elimination of delegate allocations based on presidential vote;  simultaneous voting for vice chair, secretary, and treasurer;  a modified version of instant runoff voting for officers and for presidential/vice-presidential nomination;  allowing endorsement of candidates of other parties.

         In a concurrent session, Harry Browne debated acerbic Bill Winter about the party’s response to 9/11.  I forgot to go to the debate, so I bought the tape!  Winter took the position of the LNC hawk faction and staff members who are afraid of more member drop outs: the United States should engage in a "Measured military response," though after jumping through a number of Constitutional hoops--ones the staff usually forgets to mention in its press  releases. Browne made the case for peace. Winter’s contention that Americans are just not willing to listen to arguments that U.S. interventionism led to the attacks sounded like one more excuse for the fact that the LP press office can’t – or won’t -- write press releases or stage press events on foreign policy that garner any press attention.
        Browne, who may have rubbed the truth in a little too hard in the first few weeks after Sept. 11, is on solid ground today when he says libertarians must stand up for principle on this unpopular issue just like they do on other unpopular issues like Social Security and drugs. It’s just one more libertarian cross to bear. Browne argued that support for the war is a mile wide and an inch deep. Standing by libertarian principles means standing up against the war on terrorism and U.S. interventionism.
        Winter jabbed at Browne’s argument that government doesn’t work when it comes to defense. He accused Browne of making a “futilitarian” argument and implied that Browne took a weak, pacifist position that doesn’t work.  “Just ask the Taliban!” crowed Winter.
        Browne replied that one can’t trust that the government?s is really motivated to defend Americans. He used the examples of Wilson’s sending boats to be torpedoed by Germans and Roosevelt?s provoking Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor, used as excuses to enter World Wars I and II, respectively. Browne wondered whether Sept. 11 merely gave Bush more of an excuse than he needed for the war he wanted to fight anyway. Libertarians’s goal must be preventing the next attack, not avenging the last one. And he will not stop saying that in every forum he can.
        Browne and Winter agreed that those who committed the Sept. 11 attacks should be brought to justice, but Browne thought that the U.S. Government is incapable of Winter's "measured military response." Browne said: “giving money and guns to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys,” and once you've done so, it's a little late to say, “I didn't mean for those innocent people to be killed.”
        Audience members had some interesting comments. One elderly fellow remembered his frustration as he watched Roosevelt manipulate the U.S. into World War II and then demanded “unconditional surrender” from Germany, something bound to lead to the deaths of millions more people, as it indeed did. In contrast, Sarah Lawrence (of Burqua fame), an Englishwoman, said she was grateful for America’s help in winning WWII.
        Toni Nathan said we should work harder to support repeal of the Logan Act so Americans can help other countries defend themselves and that the U.S. government only should speak out about injustices in the world -- including the ones the U.S. has caused.
        James Madison of Veterans Teaching Peace in Schools and Libertarians for Peace said he found it is very easy to get people to understand about non-interventionism. He hands out fact sheets and asks them “How would you feel if in another country was occupying or attacking us?” He lets them know that this doesn’t justify terrorist attacks, but finds that most people understand his point.
 One last speaker challenged the notion that either American or Afghan citizens were truly innocent.  “We all allow our governments to do these things and therefore we are part of the problem.”

 * * *
        Thursday evening about 200 libertarians packed a hotel ballroom to hear the candidates debate. Vice chair candidate, incumbent Ken Bisson was dry in reciting his past contributions. Opponent Steve Boone stated he was running on the principle that someone should oppose the incumbent.
        Current secretary Steve Givot boasted about his long, detailed minutes and his promotion and facilitation of the Strategic Plan. As his opponent, I got up and promoted “short minutes, out on time so the members will know what national is up to” -- to a big applause -- and hiring media staffers who know how to work the issues. “As an amateur working the Waco issue, I ended up on Nightline -- why can’t the LP staff get someone on Nightline?” More big applause. If the vote had been held then, I might have won. Unopposed current treasurer Deryl Martin reiterated his slogan: “Martin for Trea$urer. The Only Choice.”

        Of the LNC candidates for the five At Large positions who spoke, Bette Rose Ryan, who emphasized successes with specific organizing strategies, was most impressive.  (She got the largest At Large vote total.)  I was similarly impressed by the energetic Al Anders who did not win, and the straight talking R. Lee Wrights who did.
        Sam Goldstein, who I’ve criticized for believing the U.S. military should defend Americans and their property overseas – in contradiction to the LP platform – gave a rambling and unimpressive account of his Indiana successes.  Similarly, Dan Karlan, a long-time LNC regional representative who always seemed to be on the wrong side of LNC intrigues, gave a lackluster presentation.  Both failed to be elected to At Large positions.

 * * *

        Former Texas Chair and LNC member Geoff Neale was stiff in his introductory remarks, but effective in emphasizing setting goals, efficient planning to reach those goals, and giving activists “chain saws instead of hatchets” to crank out the work. He noted that Texas spent $34 per year to deliver member services but Massachusetts, home of opponent Eli Israel, spent $135 a year.
        Israel repeated his mantra that the party was too small and had to grow -- the same old schtick members had been hearing from his advisor Michael Cloud for years. Israel’s promise to double the party every two years got embarrassingly little applause.
        Later, when specially asked, he only mentioned using direct mail, $10 first year memberships and – finding other means – to enlarge the party. Israel got his biggest applause when he did his rather amusing Kennedy impression at the end.

        Israel’s greatest faux pas may have been when he asked the “New Libertarians”–i.e., those who had been with the party ten years or less -- to stand.  About one-third of the crowd did so.  He praised their new energy and achievements for perhaps two minutes.  Long-time libertarians were beginning to seethe when he finally asked what he called the “Classic” libertarians,–i.e., those who originated and built the party – to stand.  The Classics were perhaps half the crowd.  Israel probably lost 40 votes with that alienating maneuver.

    From what I saw, Eli was his own worst enemy when it came to losing votes, much as his detractors might like to take credit for his eventual loss. (I heard a number of delegates complain about his supporters persistent efforts to sway them.)
     George Phillies surprised everyone by being positively inspiring on issues, strategy, and presentation as he insisted that the Party is not a membership club and that membership will grow as the LP wins more elections. He got lots of enthusiastic applause -- including for his rabid criticism of U.S. military intervention. On that score, Elias Israel -- who had been criticized for characterizing Libertarian Middle East non-intervention proposals as “anti-Jewish” -- finally outlined his position on foreign policy: the military’s role was to protect America and nothing else; he favored punishment of the guilty and protection of the innocent. Geoff Neale was more forthcoming, stating that the United States should not “take our neighbor’s  lawn mower or throw our trash in his yard.”  He noted that even wars declared constitutionally by Congress could be bad wars and criticized the U.S. war in Afghanistan as the wrong way to apprehend the perpetrators.


         Steve Trinward of Tennessee moved from the floor that the Convention give its awards to three recently deceased activists: The Sam Adams Award for Outstanding Party Activist to former Tennessee Chair Richard Pearl; the Thomas Paine Award for Outstanding Party Communicator to long-time activist Bruce Baechler; and the Thomas Jefferson Lifetime Achievement Award to New York City activist and police office John Perry, who died at the World Trade Center disaster on Sept. 11.
         Despite the massive applause from the floor, two delegates from the Massachusetts delegation immediately moved that the Convention vote between these three nominees and the three individuals who had received the most nominations for those positions, without mentioning that they were Carla Howell, Michael Cloud and Harry Browne. Delegates quickly voted this motion down and voted to give the awards to the “Fallen Heroes.”  One person told me he saw most of the Massachusetts delegation walk out after losing the vote.

 * * *
        Friday’s registration count started at 456, including some new, Convention-approved delegates. It rose to 536 by the afternoon as more delegates arrived in town.
        I had sat through much of the July 2nd and 3rd Platform Committee debate. The committee’s main concern was gaining for itself the power to write an Executive Summary of the Platform consisting of one sentence for each plank and the right to develop a proposal for a revised Platform to the official 2004 platform committee . Both Platform Committee proposals passed easily Friday morning.

         Considering the haphazard ordering of the planks themselves, I still suspect the whole platform needs a more radical restructuring.  I may work to offer a widely supported counter proposal to the 2004 convention based on some version of my “Positive Platform.”  See
         July 2 and 3 Committee debates on two proposals were particularly contentious.  One was over language clarifying what the LP means by “no current or foreseeable risk of any conventional military attack on the American people, particularly from long distances.” The Platform Committee proposed adding that “current policy has resulted in our vulnerability to unconventional terrorist attacks like those of September 11, 2001.”
         The other controversial proposal was to add language to the “Immigration” plank: “ the interest of national security, we recognize the need for respectful screening at U.S. borders for the purpose of denying entry to dangerously criminal or medically contagious persons...”  However, after all that debate, there was no time for delegates to address either of these Platform Committee proposals.
         Regarding the always controversial abortion issue, Robert Murphy proposed a stronger statement of the party’s position.  But other members were happy to leave the plank as it was.  One women even quoted from the Pro-Choice Libertarians leaflet requesting the LP do just that.  Both documents can be found at Pro-Choice Libertarians web site.

         Despite all the committee’s work to pass a number of specific recommendations on to the floor, delegates had three hours or less of the allotted four hours to consider proposals. Only five proposals were considered and four approved -- two of them factual updates. Shot down was a proposal to oppose the “death penalty qualification” for jurors. Passed, after some debate, was an addition to the election laws plank mentioning alternatives like proportional voting systems with multi-member districts and Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) for single winner elections.

         Actual Text Reads: “Electoral systems matter. The predominant use of "winner-take-all" elections in gerrymandered, single-member districts fosters political monopolies and creates a substantial government-imposed barrier to election of non-incumbent political parties and candidates. We propose electoral systems that are more representative of the electorate at the federal, state, and local levels, such as proportional voting systems with multi-member districts for legislative elections and instant runoff voting (IRV) for single winner elections.”

        Another proposal concerned replacement of the first paragraph of the”Internal Securities and Civil Liberties” plank which read: “We call for abolition of secret police, such as the Central Intelligence Agency. We support Congressional investigation of criminal activities of the CIA and FBI and of wrongdoing by other governmental agencies.”  Replacing it was an ominous first sentence: “The defense of the country requires that we have adequate intelligence to detect and to counter threats to domestic security.”  Following was some confusing language about under what conditions the CIA and NSA become rogue agencies fit for abolition.  Several members suggested deleting the language. Then a delegate got up, announced he was a former member of the CIA, and said the LP just looked naive calling for the abolition of the CIA under any circumstances. These two arguments swayed delegates to delete all language referring to abolition or oversight of these agencies. Also added was opposition to any Department of Homeland Defense, the Patriot Act and other counter-terrorism infringements of civil liberties.

        The final replacement for the first paragraph reads:
         “The defense of the country requires that we have adequate intelligence to detect and to counter threats to domestic security. Because oversight becomes more difficult with the proliferation and growth of bureaucracies, we oppose the establishment of a new cabinet level Department of Homeland Security.
         “We call for the repeal of the Patriot Act of 2001, the Counter-terrorism Act of 1996, and all other legislation that authorizes secret evidence, holding people without charge, treating material witnesses like convicted criminals, engaging in searches and seizure without Constitutionally issued and executed warrants, and other violations of individual rights under the color of national security.” (Plus the original second paragraph.)

        Maryland delegates, including platform committee member Dean Ahmad were incensed over the removal of reference to abolition of the CIA and NSA and twice managed to bring discussion of new wording to the floor. Both times their proposals were shot down. Meanwhile, I kept grousing: what about abolishing the “Waco Killers” -- the FBI? Like many “hard core” libertarians, I think the party still should call for abolishing all three agencies.  As
 far as I'm concerned the party already implicitly call for the abolition of all three agencies -- under the platform's "omissions" plank which specifies we don't necessarily support any state program we omit mentioning.


        The morning registration count was 615; a figure of 624 was reported in the afternoon -- the high point of the Convention. The day started with Michael Cloud’s standard speech, which sounded to me rather canned and heartless -- in fact, rather like the one Carla Howell gave. Motivational speaker and talk show host Reginald Jones, on the other hand, was heartfelt and exciting and got lots of applause when he kidded the audience about running for President in 2004. The LP sure could use an African-American candidate for a change.
        Someone put out an anonymous quarter page sheet complaining about Israel’s attempt to pack the delegations and urging people to vote for “Anybody but  Eli.”  A button to that effect also circulated.   Considering that every Eli supporter was wearing an Eli button, but many George and Geoff supporters were not, there was a rising level of paranoia on that score.
         An active Massachusetts county chair, Rich Watras, quit his position in disgust over what he considered to be fraudulent attempts at packing and his frustration over the LPMA’s refusal to give him the list of LP members in his district for organizing purposes -- or even to mail members and inform them of contact information for their local county chair. Just one more example of the wisdom of the LP delegates in rejecting Eli Israel for chair.
        After almost a year of fear and loathing among opponents of Israel, the Chair’s race was anti-climactic. Harry Browne nominated Eli Israel with promises of growth, growth and more growth. His speech was met with tepid applause. Chris Azzaro of the Liberty Victory Fund seconded the nomination and got a more enthusiastic reception. Evidently feeling he needed to bolster his failing campaign, Eli seconded his own nomination, but the delegate response again was tepid, except for the obvious centers of enthusiasm in Israel’s Massachusetts, Peter Schmerl’s Arizona and the conservative states of Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio.
        Nominators for both of the other Chair candidates received more enthusiastic applause, and from a larger variety of delegations. Mary Ruwart, Lorenzo Gatzenaga and Fred Collins nominated Jeff Neale. And Illana Freedman, Melinda Pillsbury Foster and Dean Ahmad nominated George Phillies.
        The first round of voting was Neale 261; Israel 178; Phillies 123. Since Phillies would be dropped from the next round, it was assumed that most of Israel-critic Phillies’’?s votes would got to Neale. Israel didn’t have much choice but to do what he did: make a graceful concession speech.  (One person overheard Michael Cloud urging him to concede.) Though not too many people bought Israel’ claim he did so in the name of “party unity,” we were all grateful he saved us another round of voting.

 * * *
        Ken Bisson, long-time apologist for a variety of dubious LNC doings, beat Maryland activist Steve Boone by only 22 votes -- 260 to 238, with six delegates casting their votes for sentimental favorite “None of the Above.” If Boone had worked the floor harder he could have beaten Bisson.
        My race for Secretary was less successful than in 1998 when Steve Givot beat me by only 27 votes. In the past four years, Steve had tamed his obnoxious image (as his nominator Don Gorman pointed out) and facilitated the strategic Plan. Meanwhile, my 1998 image as “Carol who wrote that great book on Waco” had transmuted into “Carol, that trouble making peacenik.”  So Givot beat me handily by 348 to 147.  Thanks to young peacenik James Madison and older peacenik Charles Kennedy who enthusiastically nominated me.  (Note that both voted for Eli Israel!)
        With no opponent, Treasurer Deryl Martin was voted into office by acclamation -- denying me a chance to “write in” George Phillies. However, I’ll keep encouraging Deryl to develop a Phillies-like ability to focus in on questionable LNC and staff financial dealings and accountings.
         These re-elected officers -- and a number of returned LNC members ---- have been part of many of the LNC’s problems of the last few years. We shall see if new Chair Geoff Neale and a couple of the more energetic new LNC members can help steer the Party in a more successful and principled direction.
         A root canal the week before the convention helped dissipate my play money, so I couldn’t afford to attend the $100-a-plate banquet. But I could lurk in the reception area before the banquet. Considering I had been handing out the Libertarians for Peace leaflet which included incriminating quotations from both of the Banquet’s main speakers, Cato President Ed Crane and talk show host Neale Boortz, I figured I might as well ask them about those quotes.
        Crane was in a jolly mood and sporting his 20 year old “Smash the Crane Machine” button. He even gave me a kiss on the cheek.  (We remember each other when we were young, slim and gorgeous.) However, as I began to discuss various Cato publications that strayed from non-interventionist foreign policy, I could see his eyes glazing over and his thinking “Oh, no, not this nitpicking again.”  So I left him alone to enjoy the rest of his evening.  Boortz was more garrulous. When I asked him about a quotation on his web site that seemed to support invading Iraq, he replied: “I don?t think we should invade, I think we should just nuke them!” After laughing heartily, he assured me at length that he really was for a non-interventionist foreign policy and I left 90% convinced.


        National Committee election announcements began the day.  Delegates elected the pragmatic Bette Rose Ryan with 316 votes, followed by the forceful Mike Dixon with 277, the radical Lee Wright with 265, the popular Don Gorman with 259, and the political animal Austin Hough with 257. Four out of five were not at large incumbents. Later revelations of elected regional representatives showed that many of the same representatives were returning but there were a host of new alternates.
        This year there actually was time for Judicial Committee elections. Seven nominees were approved by acclamation: Dean Ahmad, Greg Clark, Rock Howard, Tom Knapp, Richard Moroney, David Nolan, Nick Sarwark, Blay Tarnoff. Voting for these ended more than an hour before noon, leaving lots of times for debating resolutions.
        Libertarians for Peace had announced for months that it would bring a short but strong non-intervention resolution to the floor. It had already garnered almost 350 libertarian signers to a similar petition online. The convention advertisements and booklet listed Resolutions as the final agenda item. On Friday I noted that the staff had moved the Resolutions to Saturday morning on the printed “Agenda as Adopted.” Jim Lark confirmed to me that this was a mistake and “should be re-printed.” I confirmed with Secretary Steve Givot that HE would type up our short Libertarians for Peace resolution so it would be displayed on the large screen at both ends of the hall.
        However, as soon as Judicial Committee voting was finished, and before Chair Jim Lark could more than mumble that Resolutions was the next item on the agenda, two Maryland libertarians jumped up and made rapid fire proposals, first to make the a Bylaws change to adjust the formula for delegate selection, and then to reinsert “abolish the CIA” type language in the Internal Security platform plank.  Both proposals were shot down immediately.
        Thinking he was coming to the rescue of irritated delegates who just wanted to go home, North Carolina delegate (and new LNC alternate) Sean Haugh jumped up and called for adjournment of the Convention. A few individuals started calling “Resolutions,” even as a number of people seconded adjournment. Lark confirmed to the hall that movements to adjourn were not debatable. Delegates quickly voted to adjourn -- missing an opportunity to debate whether members want to make peace and non-intervention a larger part of the national party’s agenda. We peaceniks have to be more aggressive.

Text of Libertarians for Peace Convention Resolution:
        Given that U.S. military aid and intervention was an excuse for the September 11 terrorist attacks; given that the resulting War on Terrorism has become a war on American’s liberty; given that President George Bush is planning to attack Iraq in an necessary war that may kill tens of thousands of American troops;
        The Libertarian National Convention resolves that the national Libertarian Party makes one of its primary issues ending U.S. foreign military aid and intervention, especially in the Middle East.
Signed: Jim Madison, Paula Kaylyn, Philip Health, Carol Moore, Jeff A. Smith, Alice Lillie.

    My consolation was that I got lots of appreciation for my article passed out that morning to a couple hundred delegates.  Titled “Why Libertarians Should Make Community Autonomy And/or Secession Top Issues,” an updated version since has been published by Liberty for All on line magazine.   See that version at

* * *
        The traditional post-convention meeting was chaired by Geoff Neale. Twelve of eighteen LNC members carried over from the previous term. The oldies obviously intended to carry on as if this was the previous LNC; there were but a few objections from new members.
        Re-elected Secretary Steve Givot explained his method of taking minutes for new LNC members: he likes to keep long minutes that reflect all points of views, even though it is difficult to do these. He promised to send them to LNC members about 30 days after the meeting and expects comments by 30 days later; they are then put in draft form on the web page until they are approved at the next meeting. In practice this process often meant Givot did not get even a draft of the official minutes out to members before the next LNC meeting -- one of the reasons I ran against him.
        Mark Nelson requested shorter minutes sent out in a more timely manner so LNC members can review them. But Geoff Neale approved Givot’s modus operandi. Michael Gilson proposed “flash minutes” of decisions with long ones to come later. Nelson formally moved that minutes be short and out quickly. Givot argued against this motion, claiming that even for a two sentence proposal like Nelson has just made, Givot needs to check Joe Dehn’s video recordings to make sure he’s got the right wording! Nelson’s proposal failed by approximately 10 to 6.  As far as I am concerned this decision just cuts members out of the decision-making loop.
        Don Gorman proposed the Executive Committee be abolished. Steve Givot pointed out one would have to make such a proposal listing all alternate language in the LNC Policy Manual that now currently concerns the Executive Committee -- and it may be irrelevant if the LNC adopts the controversial Carver Self-Governance Model (in which the board delineates guidelines under which staff can act at their discretion).  Gorman did not get a second.
        Geoff Neale recommended for Executive Committee the officers, as well as Mike Dixon and Mark Nelson. Joe Dehn and Mark Cenci also were proposed. All were elected. Only Neale and Cenci are new members. All LNC members are invited to participate in executive committee meetings but they usually are not given much notice and often choose not to participate anyway.
     Steve Givot encouraged the new LNC members to read the Strategic Plan and noted that some LNC members had become “champions” of various strategies it recommends.  It was not made clear if new LNC members will be allowed to “get in on” being champions or even whether it is assumed they must tow the last LNC’s line on the plan.
         Lee Wrights seemed the most skeptical and was most insistent new members be given sufficient time to review NEW material. Bette Rose Ryan, the only woman on the LNC, commented that the Strategic Plan has lots of fine long-term goals but what the LNC really needs is short term planning to achieve specific policy goals. This excellent and sensible suggestion was ignored by the rest of the LNC.
         Executive Director Steve Dasbach reported that in year 2000, 1,000 people paid for convention packages. For 2002, the staff budgeted for 900 but it became clear that closer to 500 would end up paying. Nevertheless, Dasbach predicted the financial loss won’t be much worse than in 2000 ($30,000) because they cut expenses this time. He reported that the most common reason cited by non-attending delegates surveyed by LP staffers was the economy. He promised a rough report on income and expenditures in two weeks and a nearly final one in a month.

        Another discussion of LP data base problems was set off in part by the infamous “name tag” debacle at the beginning of registration.  Because of software glitches, new registrants could not get their name tags printed immediately and had to use magic markers.  Worse, delegates badges all described them as Alternates.
        Treasurer Martin complained some more about the lousy database and/or financial accounting system and there was more discussion of the $80,000 needed for the Raiser’s Edge program.  Someone mentioned raising money specifically for the purpose of installing it.  Given that Director of Development Eric Caron needs it, it would have seemed logical to task him to raise the money.

         Steve Givot brought up the subject of the LP News accounts receivables. He noted that Operations Director Nick Dunbar generated reports that indicated that there were more aging accounts receivable than had been thought -- some over four months old. However, he could not generate a final report because they needed to be “reconciled” with information in the D.C. office. Givot intoned: “We could be sued if we gave out the wrong information on accounts receivable.”  Obviously to squash any suspicions, Steve Dasbach jumped up and asserted that the “regular advertisers pay regularly.”  After assuring the body this was not “personal,” Don Gorman moved that the LNC open the position of Executive Director to other applicants. He moved that Dasbach may re-apply for the position and compete against other candidates.
        Some LNC members demanded this be discussed in Executive Session (that is, that it kick the press and non-committee members out of the room). Though Don Gorman said that he wasn’t going to bring up much more than already had been brought up about Dasbach’s alleged shortcomings, and that anyway, members have a right to hear it, the committee voted 10-4 to go into Executive Session.
        After 40 minutes or so members were allowed back in. Michael Gilson said, for the record, that in Florida there is a continual flow of resumes for all paid positions and it should be like that at National -- asking for resumes should not need an Executive Session. Gorman agreed. Dixon announced that the sense of the Executive Session had been that while they weren’t going to formally vote on accepting new resumes, they would allow the Chair to do what he needs to do.
        Chair Geoff Neale said he wanted a meeting as soon as possible to deal with budgeting issues, but August was too soon for several people. Neale suggested early September. Someone remarked that Secretary Steve Givot will be out of the country in September, so the LNC would have to wait until his return. Neale remarked that LNC meetings cannot be scheduled at the secretary’s convenience and a recording secretary can be appointed for that meeting if Givot cannot attend. A few members looked shocked at this comment because Steve Givot has acted as defacto chair so often and for so long. Long time LNC observers chuckled. The LNC soap opera continues . . .


2002 Platform:
2002 Bylaws:
2002 LNC Directory
Joe Dean’s Convention Report:, including votes for officers and Platform Plank Retention:
New Executive Summary of the Platform: