Sanity Injection

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Archive for May, 2016

Thoughts on the 2016 Libertarian National Convention

Posted by sanityinjection on May 30, 2016

In a Presidential election year when we have heard so much dissatisfaction with voters’ expected choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the Libertarian National Convention held this weekend assumes greater importance. As expected, the convention nominated former Republican governors Gary Johnson and William Weld as the Libertarian candidates for President and Vice President. Speculation is that the party could have a record performance this year if it picks up votes from Democrats and Republicans unhappy with Clinton and Trump. So what does the party’s convention tell us about who Libertarians are and what chance they have to make an impact in the 2016 election?

I watched about 10 hours of the convention – basically all of it that was covered by C-SPAN. This included a two and a half hour debate among 5 candidates for the party’s Presidential nomination, and the nomination proceedings for both President and Vice-President. For political junkies like myself, the Libertarian gathering stands in stark contrast to the major party conventions, which in my lifetime have been stage-managed, sterile and predictable affairs with less drama than a sewing circle. If nothing else, the Libertarian convention reeked of authenticity. There was little playing to the cameras, apart from some entertainingly cheeky repetitions of the party’s website and phone number (“Point of information, Mr. Chair, I seem to have lost the note where I wrote down the party’s web site, could you repeat that please?”)

And the proceedings clearly were not scripted. Both the Presidential and Vice-Presidential nominations required two ballots, and the proceedings were frequently interrupted by various points of order, information, and personal privilege. I was impressed by the convention chair, Nicholas Sarwark (also the party chairman), who exuded professionalism, patience, and good humor as he attempted to herd a room of about 1,000 cats. Many of the points raised by the delegates were clearly out of order, but Sarwark often chose to allow them anyway, reasoning that it would be faster and simpler to do so rather than standing on parliamentary procedure. This strategy worked well for the most part, but it was when Sarwark had to temporarily hand off the gavel to his deputies that things got a little rowdier. Representing a polar opposite side of the party’s character from Sarwark, one delegate managed to get himself added to theĀ  ballot for party chairman just so that, in lieu of a nomination speech, he could (and did) perform a striptease on the podium live on camera. Perhaps nothing illustrates the party’s deep commitment to personal freedom more than the fact that no one made any attempt to stop this, despite later reactions from aghast and embarrassed delegates.

The contrast is a pretty good metaphor for the party as a whole. It often resembles nothing quite so much as Monty Python’s fictional “Slightly Silly Party”; stretches of serious approaches to the nation’s problems punctuated by eruptions from nutjobs, radicals, and goofballs. Even Johnson, who served two generally well-regarded terms as Governor of New Mexico, has a goofy side to him, as evidenced by a pattern of unexpectedly cheek-kissing debate rivals and even reporters. Yet upon reflection, there are plenty of nutjobs, radicals and goofballs in the major parties also. The difference is that the major parties do a much better job of hiding them from the media.

It would be a mistake to allow the occasional circus-like atmosphere to overshadow the wellspring of intelligence, thoughtfulness, integrity and a deep-seated devotion to the Constitution that burbles at the heart of the Libertarian party. There is no doubt in my mind that the average delegate at the Libertarian convention would destroy their Democrat or Republican counterparts in any contest of civic knowledge. And these are people who maintain their principles so strongly that they would rather shoot themselves in the foot time and time again from an image perspective rather than wear the stain of hypocrisy. If nothing else, that aspect alone offers a refreshing choice for voters in the fall, by which time the party expects to be on the ballot in all 50 states. For the party’s wiser heads, the goal is not so much to win the White House – highly unlikely – but to bring unprecedented media attention to their socially liberal, fiscally conservative platform of minimal government and hopefully expand the membership and influence of the party toward a future role something like Britain’s Liberal Democrats.

The party’s greatest challenge this year is to break the glass ceiling that has usually kept third party candidates out of the presidential debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates, a joint creation of the Republican and Democratic parties, has set a bar of 15 percent support in major polls for the inclusion of any third-party candidate. Johnson and Weld have recently polled around 10 percent (when they have been included in polls at all), so it is not inconceivable that they could pass this bar. Johnson is not a great debater, but the national exposure that comes with being on the debate stage is exactly what the Libertarian party needs.

At the very least, doesn’t America deserve the enjoyment of watching Clinton and Trump squirm as Johnson points out how similar they really are?

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New poll shows Native Americans are NOT offended by “Washington Redskins”

Posted by sanityinjection on May 20, 2016

Remember the big pressure campaign a couple of years ago to force the NFL’s Washington Redskins to change their allegedly “offensive” name? President Obama and 50 Democratic Senators proclaimed their support for this “civil rights movement”. And then, as with so many armchair liberal cause celebres, it just seemed to disappear; the professional protesters moved on to “Black Lives Matter” and suddenly the supposed legions of mortally offended Native Americans didn’t seem like such a compelling issue.

Now comes a clue as to why the pressure campaign hasn’t been revived. A new Washington post poll of 500 Native Americans across the country indicates that 9 out of 10 are not offended by the name “Washington Redskins”. 7 out of 10 said the word “redskin” was not offensive in general, and 8 of 10 said they would not be offended if a non-Native American called them by that term. These results mirror the findings of a previous poll in 2004. Naturally, Native American “leaders” continue to reject these poll findings, as will the mostly rich, white, left-wing politicians who were the prime movers behind the whole issue. (Never mind that these same politicans spend virtually no time advocating for the things that Native Americans say they need, like decent schools.)

The whole thing would actually be comical if it weren’t for the giddy participation of the mainstream media in whipping up hysteria to aid in this phony campaign. (In this regard, kudos to the Washington Post, which remains a faint glimmer of some journalistic integrity amongst the sad detritus of formerly respectable left-wing newspapers, for publishing this poll. See also a thoughtful WashPost op-ed on the issue here.) It should be of concern that the sources from which most Americans still get their news are demonstrably more interested in pushing an ideological political agenda than in any kind of factual reporting. You need look no further than the recent New York Times attack piece against Donald Trump, which went to a great deal of effort to characterize Trump as a misogynist based on his pattern of hitting on women as a rich single man. Keep in mind this is the same publication that consistently defended Bill Clinton for sexually harrassing and having sex with women as a rich married man. See Camille Paglia’s excellent destruction of this pathetic propaganda here.

Meanwhile, if sports teams’ use of cliches offensive to Native Americans is the issue, how come there hasn’t been any fuss at all about the Cleveland Indians’ continued use of the “Chief Wahoo” logo? Why hasn’t their trademark been revoked? Answer: Because the Cleveland Indians kissed the ring: Whenever anybody complains, they hide Chief Wahoo for a while, using alternate logos and uniforms, until the subject dies down. This appeases the professional Left, because what they really want is not actual civil rights change so much as acknowledgement of their power and righteousness. Kiss their asses and they’ll let you off with a slap on the wrist; dare to suggest that the emeperor has no clothes, as Redskins owner Dan Snyder has done, and you reap the whirlwind of attacks from their subservient media allies.

The point is not that the Washington Redskins or their owner, a wealthy successful man and organization, are some kind of sob story. The point is the one made so famously by pastor Martin Niemoller. With apologies to him: “First they came for the Washington Redskins, and I said nothing, because I was not a Redskins fan.” One day it’s a sports team. The next day it’s climate change “deniers”. The target changes with the wind, but the tactics are the same. Always ask yourselves: Cui bono? (Who benefits?)

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