To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Report From the 2006 CT Libertarian Party Convention! Huzzah!

Last night at the annual Libertarian Party of Connecticut convention, Phil Maymin debuted a 30-second ad he's running on local Channel 12 and the Fox News Channel. Maymin hopes to edit four more and buy time on CNN. When I asked Courtenay Hough, Phil Maymin's Assistant Campaign Manager, if they chose FNC over CNN and MSNBC because Fox's audience in the 4th District might be more receptive to a libertarian candidate, he told me they went with Fox simply because they were the cheapest.

Maymin was the keynote speaker at the convention of some 30-odd souls (white, male, and over 50), held at the Holiday Inn in delightful downtown Bridgeport, CT (which I recommend, by the way, if you ever want to vacation inside a Richard Stark novel). Andrew Rule, LPCT Treasurer, told me they usually hold the convention in Hartford or thereabouts but this year they deliberately scheduled it in the 4th because of Maymin.

Maymin gave his talk on the libertarian strategy toward the War on Terror, beginning with a basic outline of personal rights (self-defense in case of attack or imminent attack) transposed large onto the state. Maymin has been honing his message in the weeks since I saw him in Greenwich, adding a PowerPoint presentation and keeping his wheels firmly on the macadam; the only time there was even a hint of the Crank Factor was when he suggested the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki could perhaps be considered terrorism. An ex-Navy man called him on it, and Maymin responded that the two could discuss it "offline." But then, later, apropos of nothing, he said he would have supported the bombings. It was like he woke up and realized there was no point in getting strung out on weird idiosyncrasies or historical conspiracy theories.

Because the weird idiosyncrasies and conspiracy theories were duly provided by the attendees. The first man to stand at the conclusion of Maymin's speech complained that the problems of the world were fundamental to Islam and that no Muslim had ever contributed anything useful to American society (except, you know, those Muslims in the US who live and work and raise their children and actively NOT kill people). He also admitted he consumed a steady diet of Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin, at which point Bridgeport Animal Control was summoned and he was shot full of tranquilizers and dragged off to the pound for immediate destruction. Another old guy wandered in during Maymin's talk wearing a suit too big for him and his head half-shaved from electroshock therapy to spin some shaggy-dog story about the John Birch Society, the Greek consulate in New York, and the perfidy of the Council on Foreign Relations. Maymin stood there patiently through all this, with Richard Lion, the LPCT Chair, standing next to him staring off into space with a lonely "These are my subjects and I am their king" dismay. It went on like this, with general argument and then somehow Lion began disseminating postcards showing Israel's expansion over the years (which they may want to cease and desist since two of the upcoming debates are hosted by local temples) and I began inching toward the door.

Conspiracy talk at a political convention is not limited to LibertariansTM or even third parties; what Enron and blood for oil is to Democrats, the gay menace and godlessness are to Republicans. But the Holiday Inn, while supplying delectable tiramisu, had furnished neither gong nor sheepherder's crook; who amongst us would take a stand and kneecap these guys?

"Psst!" I said to Zak Maymin, Phil's dad. "This is what I mean when I talk about the 'Crank Factor.'"

"I live for moments like these," said Zak.

Anyway, Maymin's essential point about Iraq is that we came, we KA&TN, and now we need to vacate. To say setting an exit date encourages the terrorists/insurgents and it will be worse after we leave is to suggest the insurgency is somehow holding back; to say the Coalition is the gatekeeper between Law and Chaos only underscores the need for the Iraqis to assume the role. Maymin noted similarities between the Iraqi constitution and the platform of the American Communist Party. Encouraging communism abroad, even if it's democratic communism, isn't a good idea; and Iraq will have a civil war regardless because fisticuffs over commonly held property (oil) is inevitable when everyone has already demonstrated an inclination for violence. Lock a bunch of bank robbers in a room with a table full of guns and money and somebody's going to be draining spaghetti.

Maymin will be an integral part of shaping the Iraq conversation in the upcoming debates. Shays will brim with anecdotes from his 14 trips and Farrell will sputter at Shays because that's all she's good for (every mailer I receive is about Chris Shays -- regardless if it's from him or Farrell). But with Maymin filling the anti-war role, Farrell will melt into the shadows. The debates -- while they linger on Iraq at least -- will be between Shays and Maymin because they're the only two with anything substantial to discuss. The popular wisdom is that libertarians suck votes away from Republicans. But my suspicion is that Maymin may do more damage to Farrell than to Shays.