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.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"Liberty, Freedom, Good Times for All"

The first debate in the 4th District Congressional race was held today at the Stamford Marriott. Summarized in six words:

Farrell: Nasty.
Shays: Angry.
Maymin: Funny.

The debate followed League of Women Voters rules, taking questions from a three-person panel and allowing only 15 minutes total speaking time for each candidate. True to prediction, the first question out of the gate was about Mark Foley. Farrell began by thanking the sponsors — then immediately spewed venom across the stage like some kind of spitting cobra. "My daughter served as a page!" she cried. She too could have been lured into consensual cybersex with a creepy old pervert! "I'm tired of the hate!" Shays yelled. "I don't want to go back to Congress if that's the person you want there!" Besides, he said, some Democrats knew about it too!

The candidates calmed down but the panel wouldn't let it go: the next panelist demanded Shays give back the money raised for his campaign by Speaker Dennis Hastert. A full 13 minutes of the one-hour debate were spent on the Foley scandal, Farrell and Shays bickering in the kitchen like some kind of married couple, Farrell sneering her accusations — you could almost imagine her chopping carrots — while Shays, the volcanic dad, raised his arms over his head like a gorilla slapping jungle brush. Maymin stood there smiling, drinking water, gulp gulp, while the other two wound down their clocks. From Maymin's grin (he looked close to losing it, as I already had in the back of the room), it was clear all was going according to his own precognition.

"Mr. Maymin, feel free to jump in," said the moderator.

"I'd just like to point out," said Maymin, "That plenty of Democrats and Republicans have been involved in sex scandals with underage people, but not a single Libertarian congressman — " The rest was lost in the laughter.

It finally got around to Iraq, but I won't bore you with the details. Suffice to say Shays defended his recent call for a timeline as being consistent with his worldview and having nothing to do with a certain Democratic primary and damn what the newspapers write — it was a lack of will demonstrated by the Iraqis on his last trip that was the final straw. But even this was a tacit agreement of Maymin's point that the Iraqis have no incentive to take control of the situation as long as the United States is doing it for free. And true to form, Farrell offered nothing real about Iraq, talking a little about undefined benchmarks but spending an awful lot of time deconstructing Shays' "passive" language in a letter he wrote to Bush as being, well, limp and impotent. This set off a new round of yelling from Shays: "I show this administration no mercy!" Farrell's plan is to bring in a third party to negotiate a ceasefire, which Maymin promptly dissected. "A political solution is nothing," said Maymin, because each faction will always want more than the others are willing to give. "The only solution is getting out." This and a number of Maymin's comments brought loud applause, even from the old coots I was sitting with in the plebe section.

There were a few more questions, including one about the debt (money quote from Chris Shays: "If we took out the war and Katrina, we'd almost have a balanced budget."). The best was the final question to Maymin about the Libertarian solution to I-95, "one of the worst sections of road in the US." Maymin said that with any transportation infrastructure question, you had to ask what jurisdiction it fell in — the state was responsible.

"But they're federal highways," said the panelist.

Yes, said Maymin. But why should decisions about highways in Hawaii be addressed in DC?

"There are federal highways in Hawaii," said the panelist in a Gotcha! tone.

"That's what I just said," said Maymin. (Laughter). "You're presuming there is a federal responsibility and I would like to address your presumption." It was eerily similar to a conversation I had a number of years ago with a lefty professor friend who thought libertarians wanted to abolish the three branches of government and create a wise council of elders to rule the country.

At the end, Maymin had four minutes of time to the one minute each left to Shays and Farrell. Farrell attacked Shays, Maymin called for less government and a return to original principles, and Shays told us, "If you want to throw away all of my good work and all of my experience," then do so because "I don't care about the press!"

What is wrong with me that I go to these things and have so much fun?