Libertarian Platform Committee Recommends Modest Changes

img_1523_croppedThe 2010 Libertarian Party Platform Committee met in Las Vegas on Dec. 12-13 and adopted a relatively modest set of 24 recommendations to the current “greatest hits” platform that the LP assembled in 2008 from language chosen from nine previous LP platforms.  That complete overhaul in 2008 came on the heels of a revolt by the delegates to the 2006 Portland convention, in which they deleted 46 out of the 61 planks of the 2004 platform and left the platform with massive holes necessitating the 2008 reconstruction.

The meeting seemed to confirm that the LP’s platform wars were ended by the 2008 “Denver Accord”.  That unofficial agreement transformed the Platform from 2004’s detailed 14,000-word recipe for abolishing government to a 2500-word declaration of Libertarian policy principles that neither mandates nor precludes the complete replacement of government with markets.  There was in Vegas no effort to revert to a radically detailed abolitionist platform, nor did the PlatCom recommend adding any new language asserting a proper role for government.

Another sign of platform peace was in the roll-call voting.  Brian Holtz was the editor of the 2008 Platform draft that was chosen in Denver over the detailed radical platform offered by Rob Power, and both Californians are back on the 2010 PlatCom.  In Vegas they voted the same way on 22 out of the 25 platform roll-calls for which both were present.  On one of their three disagreements, Holtz in fact cast the lone “radical” vote (against language to “phase out” Social Security rather than “replace” it).

2008 Chair Alicia Mattson was elected Chair over Power, 16-1, after Power had declared the election a referendum on whether PlatCom can use teleconferencing for formal meetings (despite the absence of any Bylaws authorizing them).  Holtz was elected Vice-Chair with 12 votes to Power’s 3 (and 2 for Adam Mayer).  M Carling was elected Secretary by acclamation.

2008 LP Vice Presidential candidate Wayne Root spoke during the public comments period the first morning, after inviting PlatCom to his palatial home the previous evening for cocktails. Root said that if elected LP Chair in 2010 he will position the LP to take advantage of the Tea Party movement and the growing interest in libertarianism in mainstream politics.  LPNV Senate candidate Jim Duensing was also on hand to pass out 9/11 Truth literature and discreetly show the surgical scars from his recent shooting by the LVPD.

PlatCom recommended rewrites for four planks: Personal Liberty, Rights and Discrimination, Energy and Resources,  and Free Trade and Migration.  The first two rewrites mention “self-ownership” and replace an unqualified parental “right to raise their children according to their own standards and beliefs” with the declaration that “unlike adults, children realize certain rights as they mature and develop the ability to understand and accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions”.

The Energy and Resources plank was so extensively edited from Adam Mayer’s original proposal that he joined the losing side of the 8-5 vote adopting it. It talks about energy being “needed to fuel a modern capitalistic society”, and says “our current dependence on carbon-based fuel has led to our involvement in wars throughout the globe”.

The Free Trade and Migration recommendation qualifies the current immigration screening language to only “credible” threats to health, security, and property. It also says “We invite those not requiring public assistance to come to our country to embrace the American dream.”

No changes were recommended on abortion or foreign policy.  The clause in plank 1.2 about drugs was moved unmodified to plank 1.5.  Opposition to “legal tender laws” was qualified to opposing “unconstitutional legal tender laws”.  Deletions were recommended for subjective language about “moral values” in education, about “bigotry” being “irrational and repugnant”, and contrasting “sensible use” vs. “misuse” of natural resources.

The 24 Recommendations, if not modified by PlatCom at their pre-convention meeting, must be separately approved by 2/3 votes of the delegates to the May 2010 convention in St. Louis.  Most of the recommendations are standalone, but a few may need to be disentangled.  The recommendation to add the drug language to 1.5 will surely be ordered before the recommendation to remove it from 1.2.  A simple recommendation to delete “unrestricted” from the immigration plank might be dropped in light of the subsequent rewrite that seemed to assume inclusion of that word.  Separate recommendations to append individual sentences to the Health Care plank will need to be ordered, if not combined.

PlatCom also voted, over Power’s lone dissent, to endorse the Bylaws Committee’s recommendation about plank retention voting.  The proposal is that plank retention voting by delegates will only happen upon the request of either 4 PlatCom members or 10% of the delegates to the previous convention.

If all of the PlatCom’s Vegas recommendations are adopted, the Platform would be modified like this: http://libertarianmajority.net/2010-lp-platform-vegas.

123 thoughts on “Libertarian Platform Committee Recommends Modest Changes

  1. paulie

    Brian Holtz. The byline is visible on the front page only.

    BTW Trent, if you are reading, I think I have figured out what the problem is with that and how to fix it, but I’d have a much easier time explaining it on the phone. 415-690-6352

  2. Michael H. Wilson

    “We favor restoring and reviving a free market health care system.” This should be deleted.

    It is questionable as to whether or not the U.S. has ever had a free market in healthcare let alone anything else.

    More later.

  3. Michael

    I disagree with the current platform on abortion.

    The current platform is wishy-washy all inclusive BS. It’s not alright to kill your child as soon as their born, how can you justify it before they’re born? To pick some point during the prgenancy before which it’s ok is completely arbitrary. Life begins at conception. There’s a new person with a unique genetic code created at that point. You could make the argument that life doesn’t begin until birth but that is a verky weak argument. Picking some point in between those two makes no sense unless you’re trying to rationalize murder.

  4. Brian Holtz Post author

    PlatCom membership as of Vegas was:

    Joe Hauptmann
    Brian Holtz
    Alicia Mattson
    Adam Mayer
    Rob Power
    Richard Randall
    Jon Roland
    Rebecca Sink-Burris
    Chris Barber: now full member after Stephen Gordon resigned
    Aaron Starr: alternate for absent Susan Hogarth

    CA: Bruce Dovner
    TX: Guy McLendon
    FL: Geoff Scott absent
    OH: Paul Campbell
    NY: M Carling
    VA: Jim Lark absent
    IL: Damon Dillon
    PA: Berlie Edzel
    CO: Debbie Schum
    GA: Jason Pye absent/resigned

    For background on the LNC-appointed reps, see the last two paragraphs of this blog posting.

  5. Michael Seebeck

    A technical question: When looking over 1.3, I noticed that the sentence “Consenting adults should be free to choose their own sexual practices and personal relationships.” Was stricken twice. Was the second one supposed to be an add and simply the wrong style used?

    Other things of note:

    2.3 is kinda weak and needs a better solution statement, and the loss of the government controlling the market statement is bad.

    2.6 needs a statement opposing corporate personhood.

    3.4 has a grammar problem: “who pose” was stricken and is correct, and was replaced by “posing” which is incorrect for the clause in question.

    3.5 has a couple of grammar errors: “Government should neither deny or abridge any individual’s right, nor create or enhance individual privileges, based upon …” should be “Government should neither deny nor abridge individual rights, nor create or enhance individual privileges, based upon …” There was a neither-nor problem there and the rigths and privileges weren’t consistent in quantative tense.

    Also in 3.5, the last sentence should not have been removed–just modified. In its absence the only sentence about paretns raising their children is the funds in 2.8, and nothign about the right attached to those funds that was in 3.5. A modification along the lines of a last clause “so long as the rights of the child are respected and not violated.” is in order.

    Plus, the “obligation upon others” sentence is badly worded, and can be taken to mean that parents have no responsibility to their children. If you’re getting at government-imposed obligations of fulfilling “rights” upon others such as health care insurance, public education taxation, and slavery reparations, then say so.

  6. Brian Holtz Post author

    Mike, good catch on 1.3; I’ve now changed the blue text to underline instead of strikethrough.

    I (and original author Adam Mayer) agree that 2.3 was butchered by the committee. I don’t worry about that recommendation passing, and I’m seriously considering a minority report based on the language in my own proposal (at http://libertarianmajority.net/2010-lp-platform). What happened here is that I moved my language, then Adam immediately moved his proposal as a substitute, so we could put both on the screen to compare. However, the Committee had so many problems with his language, that it spent all 10 minutes — plus 2 or 3 5-minute extensions! — trying to improve it. When the committee finally refused to extend time again on this agenda item, some people may have voted for this language simply because they’d just invested 25 minutes of work on it. During the vote against my original alternative, Starr even jokingly goaded a hesitant Dovner: “What, Bruce, you’re going to vote against it after working on it for half an hour?” The same pattern happened several times, in which the last-moved substitute consumed all agenda time getting amended, and the committee became invested in the language they’d most recently worked on. It’s unfortunate that we can’t call the question under the rules governing committees.

    I’ve yet to see language against corporate personhood that didn’t imply that individuals lose important rights (e.g. speech, property, contract) when they act in groups (e.g. LNC Inc.). I proposed language against limited corporate liability, but couldn’t get it on the agenda.

    In 3.4, “who pose” and “posing” are each grammatically correct. A gerund phrase can be used to modify a noun.

    You’re right on all counts regarding 3.5, though right/rights is more of a style problem than a true grammar error. I had already left for the airport when they worked on this one. I bet this recco won’t pass in its current state, and I don’t rule out a minority report for this one either.

  7. Rob Power

    Note that Brian voting with me on most recommendations did not negate my being on the losing side of the majority of votes. 😛

    Also, note that our reasons for voting against certain planks were very different. Long story short, there will be minority reports, and I don’t think Brian will be joining any of them. I had other committee members approaching me, and not vice-versa, offering to sign a minority report on certain planks. I guess organizing the PlatCom minority will be my job again. 😉

    But I do want to thank the Women’s Caucus for their help in protecting the abortion plank. I had one member actually tell me outside of the meeting that his wife was the one who informed him that any watering down of that plank would have led to an ugly convention floor fight. Other committee members made similar comments during the debate. I truly think that without that pressure from the Women’s Caucus, the abortion plank would have been changed or even deleted altogether in the PlatCom’s report.

    As for the Bylaws recommendation, I want everyone to look closely at that one. Right now, the procedure effectively requires 2/3 to have a ballot to retain/delete planks (then the retention votes on that ballot are by simple majority). This reduces the risk of us having a period like 2006-2008 when the LP had no formal position on important issues like war and other foreign intervention. The Bylaws recommendation, for which I was the lone dissenting vote, would significantly lower the bar for plank deletion, virtually guaranteeing a plank retention ballot at every single convention, thereby greatly increasing the risk of a platform gap like in 2006-2008. If you agree that this would be a problem, please contact your friendly Platform and Bylaws Committee members and tell them so. We will almost certainly have a motion to reconsider this vote at our St. Louis meeting, and if enough committee members have heard significant delegate opposition to this proposal, we may get the majority required to reverse the recommendation.

  8. Carolyn Marbry

    Curious photo… Why are all the women sitting and the men standing? And is that Root in that picture? When did he get elected to the PlatComm?

  9. Brian Holtz Post author

    Michael Wilson, I’m sympathetic to your complaint, but isn’t technically true that in the earliest days of our republic we had a free market in healthcare — leeching, humours, etc.? 🙂

    Other Michael, the LP will never stop being pro-choice about abortion in the first trimester (when 91% of abortions are performed). You’re wrong that there is no principled position to take between conception and birth. The best position is a modified evictionist position:

    Jurisdictions may choose the point during the second trimester at which a healthy fetus starts acquiring rights and must if feasible be left unharmed by a termination of pregnancy.

    Amazingly, a second-trimester-line like this commands majority approval among American voters, but NONE of the five biggest parties (D, R, GP, LP, CP) take this position. Instead, they all pander to their base with the two extremist positions, each of which has only minority support among American voters.

    I’ve long claimed that there is no position that ANY of these five parties could take (but hasn’t yet) where both 60% of their members and 60% of Americans support it and it is not already staked out by any of the other four parties. I repeat my offer of a $200 bounty on this question.

    The opportunity before the LP here is unique in modern American politics, but we will continue to ignore it.

  10. Carolyn Marbry

    I also want to add my thanks to the women’s caucus for once again helping to protect the “abortion” plank, which I really see as more the “it’s not the government’s business” plank.

  11. Brian Holtz Post author

    This is the first I’ve heard of any contact to the 2010 PlatCom from the Women’s Caucus. That caucus — nor any other caucus, except for the hypothetical “Brevity Caucus” I jokingly created with Mik, Bonnie, and Guy in Portland — is not mentioned anywhere among our 997 group emails so far. If that or any LP caucus had issued a statement about the Platform since this PlatCom was formed, I would hope that somebody would have forwarded it to the list.

    Rob, regarding minority reports, I’ll be happy to put my record of platform-related predictions up against yours any day. 🙂 It’s very likely that I’ll be trying to organize minority reports for at least 1.0, 2.3, and 3.5.

  12. Brian Holtz Post author

    Rob, the proposed Bylaws change sets the plank-retention bar to a point higher than it ever was for any convention except Denver. Deletion of any plank by a simple majority of NatCon delegates has been part of the LP’s rules from the very first Bylaws in 1972. If a plank can’t command majority approval from NatCon delegates, why should it be in the Platform?

    Carolyn, my article already explains why Root was in the room. Being in the picture doesn’t mean he was on PlatCom. The group-photo arrangements were an example of spontaneous order. No government rules or Committee votes affected the composition of the photo. 🙂

  13. Carolyn Marbry

    Brian, you’re doing both of us a disservice with that reply.

    I never suggested Root shouldn’t have been in the room, but I wondered why he was included in a picture of the platform committee. The faces are rather small, so I can’t tell if Duensing is in the picture, too. I don’t spot him off-hand. And he was also in the room. Hence my question.

    Likewise, I did not suggest any rule-driven reason why the picture was so … oddly segregated. It was mostly just an observation.

    Women being treated differently within the party is something the women’s caucus has been concerned about for quite a while, mostly with regard to use of first names and things like that , so this strangely turn-of-the-last-century arrangement made me wonder…

    Certainly not a big deal, just a casual note.

  14. Brian Holtz Post author

    Duensing wasn’t in the room when the picture was taken. We were there for many, many hours. Root was there at the beginning, during public-comment and picture-taking time. Jim was there hours later. And then on Sunday, Kevin Takenaga popped in for a few minutes to take a few pictures, but had to hit the road so soon that some people were wondering who the heck he was.

    Libertarians, of all people, should know that things are not always as they seem. Toward the end I remarked to a new PlatCom member that this meeting had been quite cordial. When he pointed out that M and Aaron got quite testy toward each other at a few points, he was shocked when I told him that they are very close friends.

    We work hard, we fight hard, but in the end, most of us know to give Libertarians the benefit of the doubt, and that (as George Phillies preaches) The Enemy Is Not In This Room.

  15. Carolyn Marbry

    Hahaha good old Kevin and his camera. 🙂 Wwhoooooosh! “Who WAS that camera’d man?”

    As far as things not always being as they seem, this is why I asked the question, Brian.

  16. Brian Holtz Post author

    Rob wrote: “Note that Brian voting with me on most recommendations did not negate my being on the losing side of the majority of votes.”

    Rob, in all of its Vegas roll call votes, the committee voted with you 19 times, and against you 11 times.

  17. Daniel Ong

    Brian, I thought you had increased your bounty to $1000 (I do like your abortion position and would draw the line similarly). I think I might have found such an issue this year for your bounty (not the one I publicized in Denver 2008) and am working on it over Christmas break–more later. I would use the bounty for start-up expenses.

  18. Trent Hill

    “and left the platform with massive holes necessitating the 2008 reconstruction.”

    I think this is a bit opinionated, Brian, for IPR. Otherwise, I think this report is GREAT. Thanks for writing it up.

  19. Michael H. Wilson

    @ 11 Brian writes “Michael Wilson, I’m sympathetic to your complaint, but isn’t technically true that in the earliest days of our republic we had a free market in healthcare — leeching, humours, etc.?”

    Brian physicians were licensed in the colonies and have been licensed during much of the nation’s history except for a time from the Jacksonian period when licensing was for the most part repealed until shortly after the Civil War. Then somewhere in the early 1870’s licensing started to make a comeback. Of course during the Jacksonian period medical experiments were conducted on slaves. And as I recall the practice of abortion had come under attack by medical men to deprive midwives of a service they had long provided to expectant mothers.

    Just a couple of examples of the lack of a free market in medical care.

    I could get the specific dates but I have other things to do at the moment. We need to change that wording.

  20. Daniel Ong

    The abortion question boils down to when human life should legally begin.

    Other Michael @5, if you have a fertilized human egg, you still can’t even say how many human lives that represents–fertilized eggs can be frozen at least a decade for later development, and a fertilized egg can divide to produce identical twins, triplets, or more.

    At the other end, most Americans would agree that a viable fetus should receive legal protection as a human being. Many jurisdictions already recognize that death of a viable fetus is death of a human being, at least for purposes of criminal prosecution of vehicular homicide.

    I think the biblical standard was the “quickening” or beginning of movement of the developing fetus in the mother’s womb.

    Another principled (and nicely mirrored) position between conception and birth would use the definition of life similarly to the effective definition of death (ever hear of being “brain-dead”?). A simple rough definition would say that human life legally begins when there is brain activity (“thinking”) beyond that required for repetitive bodily functions (although I suspect that point would be about when a normally developing fetus has a beating heart–about eight weeks?).

    “I think; therefore I am (I think).”

    I partly came up with this position about two decades ago when I read an article about a judge in Colorado who wanted to write his own living will but couldn’t find a definition of death in the statutes (I also got thinking about this when my sister had twins).

  21. M Carling

    Rob, your assertion about the current convention rule provision for a plank retention vote is incorrect. Under the current rule, 4% of the delegates can force a plank retention vote. The plank is then deleted if a majority vote for deletion.

  22. Darryl W. Perry

    I wish someone would have updated the LP website to indicate the meeting started at 8:30AM instead of 2PM. As a Lifetime member of the LP, At-Large Rep. to the BTP & 2016 Presidential candidate, I would have liked to have addressed the Committee during the public comments period.

  23. Robert Capozzi

    Excellent work. I’d vote for this as written. A few comments:

    1.0: Last sentence “…children realize certain rights…” seems an odd concept to me. Might be improved if it said “…children attain rights…”

    1.6 YES! The last sentence is brilliant!

    2.2 Last clause is not true. It would make MUCH more sense to say “our planet’s AIR, WATER, AND climate ARE constantly changing, but THE RULE OF LAW, coupled with environmental advocacy and social pressure, IS the most effective means of changing public behavior.”

  24. Aroundtheblockafewtimes

    Aa I recall there was already a Brevity Caucus at the 1991 convention in Chicago, perhaps unofficially started by a Caifornia delegate named Kate O’Brien. The work of a BC is still sorely needed.

  25. Adam Mayer

    Robert, I agree with you on Plank 2.2. It was cut down a little too much in committee, I will be submitting a minority report to keep the current language. It was one of the lowest passing planks with only 8 votes in favor.

  26. Melty

    My stance on abortion seems to bout match Daniel Ong’s. Draw the line at embryo/fetus. Embryo -no problem. Fetus – you already decided to go through with it (extraneous complications aside). So that’s tween eight weeks and nine. Anyhow, leave it to da several States. . . Abortion’s a cold-button issue for me.

    My hot button issue is English Only – an insufferable stance, and disturbingly popular among yanks.

  27. Robert Capozzi

    AM, godspeed. The sentence as written is nonsense. Leaving the environment unprotected by law means that literally anyone can spew anything into the water and air. Unless externalities are internalized by law, no amount of moral suasion will stop a polluter from polluting. Environmental chaos is NOT liberty, IMO.

  28. Mik Robertson

    @30 “My hot button issue is English Only – an insufferable stance, and disturbingly popular among yanks.”

    It seems to me to be a more popular issue in the south rather than in New England, so to put it correctly it should be that the issue is disturbingly popular among crackers.

  29. The Inquirer

    @32 darn tootin’! If them fellers be wantin’ to come ovah to this heah country, by gum, them aught ta larn to speak English good!

  30. Darryl W. Perry

    The Alabama State Constitution has
    AMENDMENT 509
    English as Official Language of State.

    “English is the official language of the state of Alabama. The legislature shall enforce this amendment by appropriate legislation. The legislature and officials of the state of Alabama shall take all steps necessary to insure that the role of English as the common language of the state of Alabama is preserved and enhanced. The legislature shall make no law which diminishes or ignores the role of English as the common language of the state of Alabama.

    Any person who is a resident of or doing business in the state of Alabama shall have standing to sue the state of Alabama to enforce this amendment, and the courts of record of the state of Alabama shall have jurisdiction to hear cases brought to enforce this provision. The legislature may provide reasonable and appropriate limitations on the time and manner of suits brought under this amendment.”

    Although, it’s not enforced. One can still get State issued forms in any requested language,

  31. Mik Robertson

    @22 “Brian physicians were licensed in the colonies and have been licensed during much of the nation’s history except for a time from the Jacksonian period when licensing was for the most part repealed until shortly after the Civil War.”

    In a piece about Dr. Thomas Young during the American revolution it is noted:

    “The medical profession in revolutionary America was in flux, and there was a lack of licensing. Young supported creating a licensing regime run by state legislatures, and published his defense of the medical profession in a Boston newspaper.”

    So it appears doctors were not always licensed at the beginning of the nation.

  32. Michael H. Wilson

    Maybe this will help clear up the issue of medical licensing a bit. Still my point is that it is safe to say that we never had a free market in medical care, healthcare or whatever one cares to call it.

    “The first law regulating a profession in America was enacted in Virginia in 1639. Its sole purpose was to control physicians, fees… The first law enacted to control the quality of medical service was passed in Massachusetts ten years later. In the late colonial and early independence periods, individual states passed a variety of laws licensing physicians and surgeons” p 11 & 12 The Rule of Experts Occupational Licensing in America by S. David Young

    “…the first licensure law calling for prospective examination of doctors was passed in New York City in 1760” p 40 The Social Transformation of American Medicine by Paul Starr

    I also have the book Of Foxes and Hen Houses around here somewhere and it is all about licensing but I cannot locate it right now. I will continue to look for it if need be.
    MHW

  33. Mik Robertson

    @38 I would agree that we have not had a free market in health care since the beginning of the twentieth century. I also think that is one of the fundamental problems with health care, and moving farther away from a free market will only exacerbate the problems.

  34. Brian Holtz Post author

    Michael H., maybe that “restoring and reviving” sentence should be replaced with: “We support the separation of medicine and State.” Alas, on the 2008 PlatCom I was on the losing side of the argument about whether “separation of X and State” is good rhetoric for our platform. What do Libertarians here think of that question?

    Trent, if you only consider one clause of my article to be opinionated, then I must not be trying hard enough. 🙂

    Carolyn, our not-the-government’s-business dodge is embarrassing for a “Party of Principle”. It’s as if we said:

    Recognizing that enslavement of Africans is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each plantation owner for their conscientious consideration.

    Recognizing that newborn infanticide for gender selection is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each parent for their conscientious consideration.

    Recognizing that in-flight ejection of stowaways is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each pilot for their conscientious consideration.

    I wish someone in the Libertarian Women’s Caucus would explain why it should be illegal to kill a baby girl for gender selection the day after birth, but it should not be illegal two days earlier to destroy that same girl for the same reason.

    Similarly, I wish someone from Libertarians For Life would answer Reason Magazine’s question in Is Heaven Populated Chiefly By The Souls Of Embryos?”: A fire breaks out in a fertility clinic and you have a choice: You can save either a three-year-old child or a Petri dish containing 10 seven-day old embryos. Which do you choose to rescue?

    The American people have already figured this one out. They agree with LP founder David Nolan: pregnancy termination should be discretionary in the first trimester, “for cause” in the second trimester, and must leave a healthy fetus alive in the third trimester. It remains astonishing that none of the D/R/LP/GP/CP has claimed the undefended popular high ground on an issue this significant. Yes, Daniel, I do recall increasing my bounty to $1000 after it had lain unclaimed for almost two years. I’ll be very impressed if you can claim it. (Note that the issue has to be as enduring and significant as abortion; picayune and ephemeral issues don’t count.)

    But I recognize that many in the LP’s pro-first-trimester-choice supermajority aren’t yet ready to overcome their fears of a slippery slope on the abortion question. That’s why in Vegas the only abortion plank change I advocated was to add opposition to subsidies and mandates for abortion — a position that was in the 2004 and 2006 platforms as well as in Rob’s 2008 minority report. The only other change seriously debated on the plank was to vacuously “welcome both pro-choice and pro-life” people to the LP. There was never any danger that the abortion plank would be diluted or deleted, as there would have been at most only about 6 votes out of 19 for such a move. As far as I know, no such motion was ever made in Vegas.

  35. Michael H. Wilson

    Brian I think separation of medicine and the state is an excellent idea and makes good wording.

    MW

  36. Don Lake .......... A Couple More Paul Harvey Moments

    Brian Holtz // Dec 16, 2009: Duensing wasn’t in the room when the picture was taken. We were there for many, many hours. Root was there at the beginning, [Lake: and you wonder why Libs can ‘clear a room’ faster than Socialists and Communists and even Bible Beaters ………. ]

    We work hard, we fight hard, but in the end, most of us [Lake: DO NOT] know to give Libertarians the benefit of the doubt, and that (as George Phillies preaches) The Enemy Is Not In This Room.

  37. Michael H. Wilson

    Brian writes “Alas, on the 2008 PlatCom I was on the losing side of the argument about whether “separation of X and State” is good rhetoric for our platform. What do Libertarians here think of that question?”

    If Libertarians are for economic freedom how would they prefer to state this?

    Long time ago I suggested that we need wording in the platform calling for an amendment that says something like “the government shall make no law abridging the commerce of the people”.

    Thanks Brian

  38. Carolyn Marbry

    Not remotely. Equating women with unwanted pregnancies to slaveholders or pilots who eject stowaways from aircraft or those who commit gender-selection infanticide is completely inappropriate and offensive, especially coming from somenoe who will never face the question himself.

    “Not the government’s business” means no subsidies for abortion, no encouragement of certain demographics to abort or be sterilized, but likewise no laws against abortion — no coercion either way. It also means the government should not be in the business of making medical decisions for people. In this case, specifically women.

    I agree with you regarding first and second trimester abortions. I do believe there are rare cases, as I mentioned elsewhere, where a late-term abortion IS indicated, when it’s a mother’s act of mercy to end the suffering of a child who will otherwise be born with terrible agonizing deformities or live an extremely short and painful life. I know you’re going to go off on infanticide for the same issue, but infanticide is actually pretty common in these instances, too, in the form of “refusal to allow heroic life-saving measures” on the part of a parent post-partum.

    My point is, allowing the government to make a one-size-fits-all medical policy is folly. This is why we should continue to say that medical decisions of this nature belong to the patient and her doctor and are NONE OF THE GOVERNMENT’S BUSINESS.

  39. paulie

    I like the “separation of X and state” language. It applies to a lot of things: church and state, school and state, money and state, etc.

    +1

  40. Carolyn Marbry

    As far as “vacuously” welcoming both pro-life and pro-choice people, I disagree. I believe people can have very passionate feelings on both sides of this issue and articulate them in Libertarian terms.

    Getting into precise details of when we (most of whom are NOT MDs) “believe” life starts, which trimester we are pro-choice and which trimester we turn pro-life and so forth starts harrowing the party down to only those people who exactly agree. We don’t need exact agreement on every single possible point. What we need is to unify ourselves on the points where we DO agree, and where most of us DO agree is that the decision should ultimately be left to the patient and her doctor and that the government should not be dictating medical policy.

  41. Carolyn Marbry

    I like the separation of medicine and state language too, especially because I oppose nationalized health care. Nitpickers might quibble about how it would also mean not licensing doctors and not regulating quality on medications and so on, but that’s easily remedied.

  42. Michael H. Wilson

    Carolyn and all, Jeffrey Flier; M.D., who is or was the Dean of the Harvard Medical School, along with his wife wrote a piece critical of licensing laws and suggested certification. I sent it on to Aarron Starr and asked him to pass it on to Root. I can find it any longer but it is a piece coming from someone with credibility.

    As for the quality, that is a big issue and has been for some time especially since about 1980 when the California Medical Asc study on adverse effects came out and then in 1991 the New England Journal Medicine published the Harvard Medical School study on adverse events. These then became material that the Inst of Med used in their 1999 report on medical errors which noted that 44,000 to 98,000 deaths occur each year from medical errors in hospitals. About the same number occur from hospital borne infections.

    Be nice if we could find a way to address those numbers but I think we are a long way from that. Much to my displeasure.

    Thanks y’all,
    MW

  43. Brian Holtz Post author

    Carolyn, analogizing is not “equating”. Calling an argument “offensive” sounds like an attempt to dodge it. I still wish you could explain to those of us who aren’t women why it should be illegal to kill a baby girl for gender selection the day after birth, but it should not be illegal two days earlier to destroy that same girl for the same reason. Is your comment about do-not-resuscitate orders for sick infants supposed to be an argument against infanticide laws?

    As for “never facing the question”, have you ever held your infant child in your arms as he died? I have. Does that mean that I’m qualified to argue about laws governing neonatal death, but you’re not? If we Libertarians can’t argue against what we call aggression until after we’ve walked the same ground as the alleged aggressor, then we might as well lock the LP’s doors and turn out the lights. The purpose of the LP is to implement and give voice to our Statement of Principles. In those principles we defend the rights of all individuals, regardless of how well we can empathize with people in a position to infringe on what we claim are rights.

    I call “vacuous” the welcoming language rejected in Vegas only because its inclusion in our Platform would not change our policy positions one iota. I obviously agree that we should not draw a bright line on fetal personhood, but surely you must admit that this is exactly what our abortion plank does. Do you deny that the LP Platform opposes any law that would outlaw the aborting of any fetus — right up until the bright line of birth? “Government should be kept out of the matter” is a fig leaf trying to hide that bright line, but it’s there for all to see. There must be something wrong with a stand so embarrassing that we feel the need to try to deny we’re even taking it. If we really think that full-term fetuses deserve no legal protection, then we should have the moral courage to say so. I don’t believe that “most” Libertarians would say that a full-term fetus deserves no legal protections.

  44. paulie

    Do you deny that the LP Platform opposes any law that would outlaw the aborting of any fetus — right up until the bright line of birth? “Government should be kept out of the matter” is a fig leaf trying to hide that bright line, but it’s there for all to see. There must be something wrong with a stand so embarrassing that we feel the need to try to deny we’re even taking it. If we really think that full-term fetuses deserve no legal protection, then we should have the moral courage to say so.

    You are much more of a platform expert/historian than I am, so you can correct me if I am wrong, but my understanding is that the LP platform did say that in the past in no uncertain terms – but the language has been softened in recent years as more pro-lifers have joined the party.

  45. Carolyn Marbry

    Calm down, Brian. You were arguing from emotion in your first post, and with this one, you still are. Maybe you need to take a break for a while so you can get yourself under control.

    You’re picking apart what I said word by word in an effort to discount the overall sense of what I said, which is that it is inappropriate and offensive — in an analogy, you are considering the two situations as comparable, ergo the components of the analogy are likewise to be considered comparable, and they are NOT. I did not say you cannot have an opinion on the matter. But the fact that you will not ever face the question yourself does make the offensiveness of your analogies that much more stark.

    My sincere condolences on your loss. I would also say that yes, you are more qualified to discuss laws and situations involving neonatal death than I am. Does that surprise you? You have suffered that directly, you’ve interacted with the medical staff and the situations directly connected to it, you know the details of what caused your child’s death. I have never faced the situation and would not know where to begin trying to legislate anything about it. More importantly, I WOULD BE A FOOL to try to make an analogy involving slaveholders and those who have lost their infants unless of course my intention was to inflame an argument with them.

    The whole point of the LP platform as it stands is that it doesn’t take a particular stand on that issue. This leaves the pro-lifers free to say every sperm is sacred if they want and oppose abortion and even birth control, but it likewise leaves those who are pro-choice free to define their line where abortion is no longer appropriate for themselves and their activism where they draw the line and if they draw the line.

    I understand where you’re coming from, that you would like to lock it down more precisely, and I would not be opposed to that, provided it was not so precise and restrictive that it alienated half the party. Something else that probably surprises you. But you were so busy attacking me on this point that you never allowed for that possibility.

    My “bright line” is viability. If the fetus is late-term and is not viable, it should still be possible for the mother to choose to end the pregnancy. So it isn’t necessarily a matter of trimesters. This is why I’m not entirely thrilled with defining it down to the first and second trimesters only.

    Just as I don’t believe the government should be trying to dictate a medical policy, I don’t think it’s appropriate for the party to do so, either. I think we should recognize that situations arise where the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work.

  46. Brian Holtz Post author

    Here are the positions the LP platform has taken on abortion, labeled by the earliest platform in which I have a record of them appearing:

    2006: “Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on both sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.”

    2000: “Recognizing that abortion is a very sensitive issue and that people, including libertarians, can hold good-faith views on both sides, we believe the government should be kept out of the question.”

    1996: “Recognizing that abortion is a very sensitive issue and that libertarians can hold good-faith views on both sides, we believe the government should be kept entirely out of the question, allowing all individuals to be guided by their own consciences.”

    1990: “Recognizing that each person must be the sole and absolute owner of his or her own body, we support the right of women to make a personal choice regarding the termination of pregnancy.”

    1976: “We further support the repeal of all laws restricting voluntary birth control or the right of the woman to make a personal moral choice regarding the termination of pregnancy.”

    1972: “We further support the repeal of all laws restricting voluntary birth control or voluntary termination of pregnancies during their first hundred days.”

    1972 temporary platform: [silence]

  47. paulie

    So, it seems that the platforms from 1976-before 1996 did oppose any law that would outlaw the aborting of any fetus, and were not ashamed to say it, no?

  48. Carolyn Marbry

    The last sentence on what I said about the “welcoming pro-life and pro-choice” people got missed in my copy-paste. The last sentence on that paragraph should have read, “That said, I don’t believe we need to say it explicitly.”

    Sorry, I just realized that was why you thought I was arguing FOR it. I’m definitely not. Sorry for the confusion.

  49. Carolyn Marbry

    Something I’d point out is that the language adopted in 08 was in reaction to the proposed plank at the time, which was definitely canted pro-life. It ended up being essentially a slight rephrasing of what was already there.

  50. Brian Holtz Post author

    Carolyn wrote: “The whole point of the LP platform as it stands is that it doesn’t take a particular stand on that issue.”

    Ah, OK, you’re simply misreading our platform. The LP Platform, as written, opposes a law that would outlaw abortion of fetuses in the eighth month of pregnancy — just as it opposes a law that would outlaw an abortificant like RU486. When the Platform says “government should be kept out of the matter”, it’s not saying that the LP has no opinion on abortion. Rather, it’s saying that the LP’s opinion is that there should be no laws about abortion. This is LP Platform 101. If you’re not sure on this, just ask the Women’s Caucus if the LP Platform currently opposes all laws outlawing abortion of eight-month-gestation fetuses.

    Thus you’re simply mistaken that I want “to lock it down more precisely”. The platform currently draws a bright line at birth. I think an optimal platform would draw a fuzzy trimester-wide line between the 1st and 3rd trimesters.

    I’m not arguing from emotion. “Arguing form emotion” is when you say that your possession of a different reproductive organ than mine means you don’t have to address certain arguments. 🙂 I stand by my argument that infanticide and abortion are directly and intimately comparable. I also stand by the relevance of evictionism (pilots) and the disputed ethical status of beings — fetuses, infants, slaves, infidels, etc. In the peer-reviewed literature on the ethics of abortion, nobody would dare argue that such comparisons can be dismissed because they are “offensive” when coming from someone lacking a uterus.

    I coldly and dispassionately disagree with your assertion that my experience of the death of my son gives me any sort of privileged ethical insights about how the law should relate to neonatal death. Unless you’ve experienced such a death yourself, it’s odd for you to claim that I must have insights that you yourself cannot have.

    I used to attach personhood to viability too, but then I realized that the rights of the fetus should not be a function of technology. My use of trimesters is just shorthand for fetal neurological development and differentiation.

    You still haven’t answered my question about infanticide. Is it “dictating medical policy” to have a law against murdering a 1-day-old baby girl for gender selection? If so, then shouldn’t such laws be repealed? If not, then why should it not be murder to destroy that same entity 48 hours earlier?

    This is the question that no “pro-choice” Libertarian can ever seem to answer. By evading it, you’re in good company. 🙂

  51. Brian Holtz Post author

    Carolyn wrote: “the language adopted in 08 was in reaction to the proposed plank at the time, which was definitely canted pro-life.”

    No, the 2008 PlatCom’s proposed plank did precisely what you now claim that Platform does and should do: take no position on the legality abortion. It said:

    We recognize that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on both all sides. Taxpayers should not be forced to pay for other people’s abortions, nor should any government or individual force or disallow a woman to have an abortion.

    The reason this was considered a “pro-life” proposal is that it would have made the LP no longer be absolutely 100% pro-choice.

    I argued against this PlatCom proposal, because 1) the “Party of Principle” should not simply dodge the abortion question, and 2) the LP should be unequivocally pro-choice in the first trimester (which covers 91% of all U.S. abortions).

  52. Brian Holtz Post author

    Yikes, we’ve found another bug in the 2008 convention minutes. The language in the PlatCom report was:

    We recognize that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on both sides. Taxpayers should not be forced to pay for other people’s abortions, nor should any government or individual force a woman to have an abortion.

  53. Melty

    1972 “. . . voluntary termination of pregnancies during their first hundred days.”

    If 2010 would read “or disallow” combined with a number of days, it would be “sensitive.”

  54. Brian Holtz Post author

    Oh, I was looking at an early draft of the convention minutes. The latest and greatest on the LP.org web site have the correct text:

    We recognize that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on both sides. Taxpayers should not be forced to pay for other people’s abortions, nor should any government or individual force a woman to have an abortion.

    The “both/all” and “disallow” differences in the draft were probably editorial vestiges of motions from the floor to amend the proposal after it failed its initial vote. In particular, M Carling was the one who proposed from the floor to replace “both” with “all”.

  55. Carolyn Marbry

    RE: Infanticide, I said earlier that it happens already, all the time, in the form of parents refusing “heroic intervention” in the lives of their terminal infants. Viability again comes into play.

    Outside of China, a parent cannot call upon a doctor to kill a healthy child that is no longer dependent on the mother’s body for its life support.

    Nor do I personally think it’s conscionable for someone to abort and kill the infant during labor or while the child is able to survive outside the womb on its own. Then again, how often does this happen, if at all? I think we’re trying to cover bases that don’t really exist in any kind of quantity that would require us to take a stand on them.

    “Technology” is heroic intervention, and it occurs with parental consent. So again, I don’t see where this is an issue. If the mother does not want her body used as life support, she should be able to stop. If when she decides this it turns out the child can be born and supported without heroic means, her involvement in deciding its immediate survival ends. She’s no longer supporting it with her body, and the child is a sovereign viable entity.

    She is free at that point to turn it over to the tender mercies of the state or raise it herself. But if she decides to kill it, she is subject to the sanctions of the state.

  56. Carolyn Marbry

    Brian, the fact that you have lived through a situation that I have not means you necessarily have a broader base of knowledge to draw from on that topic than I have, all things being equal. You’re probably more interested in the topic than I am, as well. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable thought, considering that all I know of infant mortality comes second-and third-hand.

    So maybe that was another bad analogy. If you had used soldiers and warfare as an example, it would be more obvious that experience counts for a lot. Even the possibility of experience, as in young people arguing against the draft or women arguing for their reproductive freedom.

    Argument from emotion involves trying to elicit an emotion in your audience and play on it. Slaveholders are almost as useful in that regard as nazis, and we all know about Godwin’s Law.

    But enough of this. It’s an emotionally charged topic, and emotions run high. Suffice it to say that on most points, we’re in violent agreement. The only points where we disagree, and I don’t think we need to be snarky about our disagreement on them, is in whether or not we need to define a line for the platform when there’s no clear line even for us as individuals or as Libertarians. Viability doesn’t work for you, dates don’t work for me, and the pro-life crowd is screaming, YOU’RE KILLING BABIES!!

    My only nefarious goal in all this is to be sure we’re presenting the pro-choice side of Libertarianism, to wit, the government should not be making laws to force its citizens to do ANYTHING regarding reproduction. This isn’t by any means the language I would suggest, but the sentiment. The idea of forced sterilizations, forced birth control, forced reproduction (I know, very science fiction, but I have seen a (very) few tinfoil hat types calling for women with high IQs to be forced (at worst) or encouraged with monetary incentives from the government (at least) to bear more children to keep the “unwashed masses” from breeding us out entirely.

    Point is, I’d like our reproductive rights plank to include a more universal statement on all reproductive rights, both male and female. This starts to get into questions of enforced male responsibility to women who insist on keeping a child they didn’t want, minors who want to abort without having to seek parental permission, and so on. There’s a lot more to reproduction than abortion. At least I’d like to think so…

  57. Dean Moore

    there was just a woman in Virginia that killed her newborn daughter as soon as she was born. She is not being charged, and says that she does not regret doing it. Will someone explain to me how that (American) infant girl, who was born in Virginia, of American parents, had her Constitutional rights revoked with no due process, and its OK?

  58. Carolyn Marbry

    Have a link to the story? If the story is exactly as you give it, she should have been charged with murder, so there has to be more to it.

  59. Brian Holtz

    Carolyn, the reason you can’t call on a doctor to perform discretionary infanticide of a 1-day-old girl is that it is illegal. However, killing her 48 hours earlier is not, and there are doctors who will do it for you. Why should the platform advocate that such killing not be illegal? (I know you consider such killing unconscionable, but that’s not the question I keep asking — and that you keep evading.)

    I agree that discretionary infanticide and discretionary late-term abortion are both rare. So is drowning your kids in a bathtub so they will go straight to heaven. Is any of this supposed to be a reason why the LP should oppose laws against late-term discretionary abortion, but not oppose laws against murdering one’s kids?

    You and I have already agreed to a certain extent on an evictionist approach to abortion, but that’s not what the LP platform currently advocates. Instead, it says that the government cannot outlaw killing a baby the day before it is born. Eviction stories are irrelevant to the question of whether the LP platform should oppose laws against such killings — except insofar as the ease of eviction makes opposition to such laws all the more indefensible. (That’s probably why nobody here is interested in defending this aspect of the abortion plank.)

    I’m still not quite sure whether you’re saying the death of my son gives me any sort of privileged ethical insights about how the law should relate to neonatal death. I still completely reject the idea that because I’ll “never face the question” of whether to kill something in my uterus, I’m not qualified to make ethical judgments about when things in uteruses have rights.

    I’d like to confirm whether you, a candidate for Vice-Chair of the LP, understand that the LP Platform draws a bright line at birth on the question of abortion. If a Libertarian candidate advocated outlawing discretionary abortions in the eighth month of gestation, would this or would this not be inconsistent with the Platform’s admonition “that government should be kept out of the matter”?

    That the slave analogy invokes emotions does not mean I was “being emotional” or needed to “calm down”. Nor is the raw power of the analogy a valid argument that the analogy isn’t apt. In both abortion and slavery, an entity whose ethical status is in dispute is having its treatment left to the “conscientious consideration” of the person who has custody of the entity.

    I agree that the Abortion plank should be broadened to be about procreation in general. If we wanted to truly straddle the issue — rather than advocate pro-choice absolutism while pretending not to — we would adopt deliberately ambiguous language like this: “government should neither restrict, nor subsidize, nor dictate the reproductive choices of individuals”.

  60. Carolyn Marbry

    Okay, found it myself.

    http://www2.godanriver.com/gdr/news/state_regional/article/legislators_seek_to_change_state_law_after_newborns_death/16401/

    The problem here is with VA’s law — a perfect example of people trying so hard to define everything so precisely that they left a loophole large enough to drive a truck through — and this woman, knowingly or not, took advantage of it.

    From the link: “Current law calls for three requirements before the state can bring charges against someone in the death of an infant: the child must have been born alive and have had an independent and separate existence from the mother, and the accused must be the criminal agent that caused the infant’s death. ”

    That independent and separate existence apparently hinges on severing the umbilical cord. So all other criteria having been met, the child breathes and cries on its own, as long as the umbilicus is still attached (which is usually a matter of seconds), the child isn’t “separate?” REALLY?

    Here’s the fun part: There are only five states, according to the article, that do NOT have such a loophole.

    I’m pleased to see that VA is acting to close that loophole. Hope to see other states follow suit.

    This highlights the difficulty of finding that perfect definition of where to draw the line. I still maintain, viability ex utero without heroic intervention is the best line I’ve seen so far. This baby girl was viable. She would have been viable probably for the preceding three months.

    Honestly? I would suggest that infant murder should be any situation, outside of a voluntary abortion instigated by the mother, where someone causes the non-accidental death of an infant, unborn or otherwise. ONLY THE MOTHER should be able to decide whether or not she should continue life support for the unborn, and only while her body is required for that support.

  61. Carolyn Marbry

    Ah, but see, the LP does not find it necessary to make a statement against drowning one’s kids in a bathtub, though, or cutting their hearts out on Mother’s Day to get back at one’s husband. Or any of a million other single-instance situations that come along. We don’t need a policy statement in our platform regarding this tragic case in VA, for example. That’s why we need to stick to more generalized cases and recognize that there are exceptions that will no doubt step outside those generalizations.

    I said I find it unconscionable for a specific reason. That’s what I think personally. Remember that my position on viability without heroic intervention would preclude those sorts of abortions anyway. So I believe I not only did not evade the question but answered it decisively.

    Quoting you: “I’d like to confirm whether you, a candidate for Vice-Chair of the LP, understand that the LP Platform draws a bright line at birth on the question of abortion.”

    Yes, I’m sure you would, but that’s not the position I’ve been taking all along here. I already said my line is at viability ex utero without heroic intervention. Where was that less than clear? If we could craft a plank that used the child’s viability ex utero without heroic intervention as the primary criterion I doubt you’d have any problem getting it passed.

  62. Carolyn Marbry

    As far as the EXISTING plank, yes, it does in fact draw the line at birth. That was never in question, was it? My understanding was that in discussing where to put th eline, we were discussing, not what it SAYS but what it SHOULD say.

  63. Brian Holtz

    Good, so we agree that the LP platform does draw a bright line, and it draws it at what you and I agree is clearly the wrong place.

    That’s a platform bug. It should be fixed as soon as fixing it is possible.

    You can’t point to a similar platform bug regarding infanticide. If you could, I’d say it should be fixed too.

    Your proposed abortion bugfix would be a major improvement, but I don’t agree that it would be easy to pass. Too many NatCon delegates are either 1) pro-choice extremists or 2) emotionally invested in not making what would appear to be a concession to pro-life extremists.

    We may get there someday, perhaps in a decade or so. But we won’t get there by May.

  64. Carolyn Marbry

    Just to repeat in paraphrase what I said in the other thread, in case you missed it:

    It occurs to me that we’re talking about two different things here. You’re talking about killing the fetus, and I’m talking about terminating a pregnancy. I think the disconnect here is that I don’t see terminating a pregnancy as necessarily involving killing the child.

    Sure, in the first couple of trimesters, without heroic measures it’s pretty much inevitable, but in the last trimester, it doesn’t necessarily have to be so.

    In the case of a late-term abortion, that is usually what happens, and as I said, sometimes it’s because a mother is ending a child’s suffering. The point is to end the child’s life as well as the pregnancy.

    But in the case where the fetus is viable and otherwise healthy, I don’t see why it can’t be delivered alive and, at the mother’s consent, given to an adoption agency.

    THIS is what informs my “bright line,” this idea that it’s not an “abortion” if the child is able to live on its own. It’s a delivery. Even if the mother originally set out for an abortion.

    What I am trying to avoid is the universal “expiration date” on women’s rights over their bodies, the point at which it’s too late, you’re stuck carrying this child to term. At any point, a woman should be able to end her pregnancy. The result of that decision, however, need not always be the death of the child.

  65. Mik Robertson

    I’m not sure that the LNC is the best body to be working on platform plank changes. Any candidate for LNC Vice-chair probably doesn’t need to develop a position on what any platform plank should say.

    Is the LNC really going to admonish a candidate for taking a campaign position that is different from what the platform says about abortion even if there can be a reasonable argument made that such a position would increase liberty? If not, then why waste energy on the topic now when the plank language can be debated in convention.

  66. Carolyn Marbry

    Hmm, maybe the pro-choice “extremists” could be reasoned into accepting something more along the lines of what I said, that if we draw the line at viability and somehow get across that we support pregnancy termination at the discretion of the mother but that ideally late-term abortions would not necessarily involve killing an otherwise viable fetus blah blah… It gets clumsy and awkward pretty quickly, but I think you see where I’m going.

    If the woman’s right to terminate was unconditionally preserved and at the same time a viable baby’s right to live was preserved, you might be able to draw support from all sides except the hardcore right-to-life folks, and even they might be happier than they are now, without compromising with some wishy-washy non-statement.

  67. Carolyn Marbry

    Mik, if I were running for at-large or a regional rep, my positions on things would be much more important, it’s true. As vice chair, my position will be mostly administrative, handling the business of the party, not the ideology, although I will be expected to represent our positions AS PUT FORWARD IN THE PLATFORM when speaking on behalf of the party. This I can do.

    The fact that I’m pretty well centered in the party ideologically should be reassuring to most since it means I’m not going to push my pet faction’s political agenda through at the expense of someone else’s or support THESE folks with funding and resources but not THOSE folks with whom I disagree.

    So you’re right, my personal political beliefs on this issue are not important to my candidacy as vice chair except that people who agree with me are likely to support me over someone they think is going to do the party harm by pushing for something they find anathema.

    So yes, it’s good to bear in mind that I’m answering as a Libertarian, not so much as a candidate for vice chair, and remember that my actions as vice chair will have little to nothing to do with creating platform planks.

  68. Brian Holtz

    Mik, Bylaws Article 12 says: “The National Committee shall respect the vote of the delegates at Nominating Conventions and provide full support for all nominees for President and Vice-President as long as their campaigns are conducted in accordance with the Platform of the Party.”

    Carolyn, if anybody would be in a position to sell such a compromise to the “pro-choice” wing of the LP, it would be you. That would be a real feather in your cap, in terms of demonstrating the ability to bridge factional divides within the Party. However, I suspect that some of the people who have already endorsed you would be opposed to such a compromise.

  69. Debbie Schum

    As one of the women seated in the photo, I can assure you that there was no patriarchal conspiracy involved. We just pulled up a few chairs to allow others behind us to be seen, and the men present gentlemanly allowed us women to snatch the chairs (not that we gave them much time to snatch one for themselves).

    Re: Abortion–While the plank ended up not being changed, I in fact tried to change it and would still like to see it changed. It is mealy-mouthed in the attempt to remain neutral, which I firmly believe is not possible. IF abortion is murder, then the government should NOT stay out of it. Thusly, our position is decidedly pro-choice. Fine, I end up on the pro-choice side anyway. But I think our attempt to sound “neutral” is lame.

    In my various outreach efforts with the general public who have allowed their rights to be whittled down by the Democrats and Republicans to the ones they feel most strongly about (abortion being a frequent one), I find that many–if not most–pro-lifers are mollified by a CLEAR stance that we are opposed to subsidies of any kind for abortion (and I would include birth control). It can’t just be said elsewhere–it has to be said in this plank.

    Personally, I think all the other stuff (trimesters, etc) can be left up to the candidates.

  70. Mik Robertson

    @77 “Mik, Bylaws Article 12 says: “The National Committee shall respect the vote of the delegates at Nominating Conventions and provide full support for all nominees for President and Vice-President as long as their campaigns are conducted in accordance with the Platform of the Party.””

    As there will be no nomination of a Presidential or Vice-presidential candidate over the next two years, there is still time to address the plank. It will not affect anyone elected to the LNC this term.

    That said, I rather like the bright line at birth. If you are dependent upon another human body for breathing and taking in your food, it is hard to claim the rights of a person, even if life is a continuum from conception until natural death.

    Even if the late-term procedure is extremely rare, why take away someone’s ability to take any measures necessary to defend themselves? Carolyn is right, to make such a mandate is to reduce one to slavery. In this case, only women could be so reduced.

  71. Carolyn Marbry

    Mik, how do you feel about my line at viability, where the woman retains her ability to terminate her pregnancy at her will but that the viability of the fetus (ex utero, no heroic measures) at that time determines its disposition?

  72. Carolyn Marbry

    Brian, I’m certainly willing to try. If I risk losing endorsements for trying to help craft a platform plank that addresses people’s problems with the existing plank, then so be it.

  73. Brian Holtz

    Mik, does mandating that stowaways be evicted only without harm reduce pilots to slavery?

    As Carolyn said, the evictionist position always allows the host to “defend herself” — it just doesn’t grant the arbitrary right to destroy a healthy guest/stowaway that could feasibly be evicted unharmed.

    The “defend herself” and “slavery” rhetoric suggest that the pregnancy was completely involuntary, when that is usually not the case. This point is made at e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_debate#Bodily_rights. The various arguments either way are explored in more detail in this article on Thomson’s landmark 1971 paper: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Defense_of_Abortion.

    The abortion debate is by now so familiar that we could proceed just by exchanging a series of URLs. Libertarian debates on abortion would be far less tedious if people just used the wikipedia URLs for the various standard arguments that we’ve all heard so many times before.

  74. Carolyn Marbry

    The initiation of the pregnancy may be voluntary. The argument isn’t about that. The argument is about the continuation of the pregnancy which, regardless of how it started, should continue to be voluntary.

  75. Brian Holtz

    From the Wikipedia article: “The pregnant woman voluntarily engaged in sexual intercourse foreseeing that a fetus may result, and so has tacitly consented to the fetus using her body. The pregnant woman voluntarily engaged in sexual intercourse with the result that the fetus stands in need of the use of her body. The woman is thus responsible for the fetus’s need to use her body and so the fetus has a right to use her body.”

    The consent dispute here is of course moot for people like me who say that neurological development does not bring personhood until well after the woman has had every opportunity to engage in contraceptive abortion. But you, Carolyn, will have problems if you still hold your non-heroic-viability standard for personhood when, in a few decades, non-heroic technology will make every fetus and zygote as viable as run-of-the-mill preemies are now.

  76. Carolyn Marbry

    No, I won’t have any problem at all since the same standard applies. If we can transplant embryos from one woman to another or into stasis for later transfer, in most cases, there will no longer be any need for those embryos to die.

    See, women don’t get abortions because they relish the notion of killing their unwanted unborn children. They get abortions to free themselves from the pregnancy. If that could be done without harming the unborn, since that’s usually the point where women who get abortions have the most anguish over the whole business, I believe most women faced with the decision would rejoice.

    The one thing we’d have to look at is whether or not a host uterus could be found for the embryo. The child isn’t really viable ex utero without ANYBODY supporting it, so in that case it would probably suffer the same fate as “spare” frozen embryos.

  77. Carolyn Marbry

    Yes, yes, I know that the wikipedia article says that if a woman consents to sex, she’s consenting to signing away 9 months of her life as a breeding ground, but that doesn’t make it true.

    Birth control sometimes fails. If a woman was using birth control, even if it was rhythm method, it seems obvious that she does NOT consent to being made pregnant or giving her body over to the fetus for 9 months, yet there she finds herself.

    The simple fact is, if the woman does not want to be pregnant, she should not have to be pregnant, regardless of how she became so.

    To hear pro-life people talk about how abortion is fine in case of rape or incest demonstrates the hypocrisy of their stance. Is the child “alive” or isn’t it? Is it innocent of its conception or isn’t it? Is their position about protecting the child or is it really about protecting women who have sex voluntarily without the intention of getting pregnant?

  78. Brian Holtz

    If you put one bullet in a 100-chamber revolver, spin the chamber, and then aim it at my head and pull the trigger, are you off the hook for the consequences as long as you vouch that you did not want me to get shot?

    The first sentence of the first plank of the LP platform says: “Individuals should be free to make choices for themselves and to accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices they make.” The word “punishment” isn’t in that sentence.

    Your hypothetical pro-life person is hypocritical only if she says e.g. that the pilot has to give the sole parachute to the stowaway when the plane is going down. But most pro-lifers don’t say that the right not to be killed also trumps the right to life of an unwitting host.

    But again, contraceptive abortion is a non-issue if fetal personhood is recognized to be an inherent property of neurological development, and not contingent on the state of technology.

    The “problem” I mentioned with that contingency is that if technology ever makes it routine to rescue zygotes and embryos that women don’t want, then pro-life zealots would be able to homestead parental rights from a lot of women who wouldn’t necessarily be thrilled with the idea of their biological offspring being raised by some stranger. Of course, those zealots will already have their hands full after some prankster leaves a million viable stem cells on their doorstep. Technology is going to make pro-life zealots put their money where their mouth is.

    For the rest of us, personhood should be about more than just having 46 chromosomes, a cell wall, and technologically-contingent independence from any particular host. Personhood should be about how far you’ve developed along your path toward sentient intelligence.

    We’ll have a brief respite from the personhood wars after technology makes abortion no longer necessary.

    Then will come the robots.

    I wonder what planks will be proposed by the first robot to serve on an LP Platform Committee — assuming we don’t have any serving secretly right now. 🙂

  79. Carolyn Marbry

    Thing is, if a woman goes in for an abortion, isn’t she pretty well relinquishing her right to dictate what happens to that embryo along with the embryo, when all is said and done?

    Contractually arranged embryonic transplantation from the conception mother to a birth mother can be handled entirely as a business transaction, much the way surrogate parenting is handled now, but in the case of someone just wanting rid of it, no and it going to a compatible host, it shouldn’t be an issue.

  80. Carolyn Marbry

    The pro lifer who says the child can be killed if it’s a product of rape but cannot be killed if it’s a product of consentual sex is a hypocrite if their stated reason is that you can’t “kill innocent babies.” It’s still a baby. It’s still a life. But because the mother was made pregnant under ignominious circumstances like incest (which, by the way, may also have been consentual) or rape, we will overlook the innocence of the child and let her kill it. Just this once.

    You don’t see the inherent hypocrisy in that stance? To be fair, there are those who believe that even women who have been victimized should not be allowed abortions because their rape is “god’s will.” I find that stance chilling but logically less hypocritical.

  81. Robert Capozzi

    Separation of X and state works on many, many levels for the LP and its platform.

    I’d like to hear more from Ms. Schum on why it’s “lame” to be neutral on choice/life. I’d say most of L-ism is “neutral” in that we take a live and let live attitude to just about everything.

    There was a time in the 70s that most Ls believed that fetuses were “parasites,” since back then most were Ayn or Murray followers. We’ve grown since then. Unlike the Rs and Ds – both generally intolerant of non-plumbliners – maybe Ls being tolerant of both the life and choose sides is the evolved view!

  82. paulie

    I wonder what planks will be proposed by the first robot to serve on an LP Platform Committee — assuming we don’t have any serving secretly right now.

    That…would…explain…a…lot

  83. libertariangirl

    I am pro-choice but having a third trimester abortion I dont think should be allowed . The fetus is viable , the first two semesters usually not. If your a woman who wants to end her pregnancy , you should damn well be able to make up your mind the first 6 months.

  84. Brian Holtz

    Carolyn, if their stated reason is that one can never ever kill an innocent life under any circumstances, that’s worse than hypocritical — it’s outright self-contradictory. But in a quick web search on “abortion rape incest exception pro-life”, the top four results are pro-life groups who reject even life-of-the-mother exceptions. Either way, cogent ethical thinking is not what I would expect from people who think a cell can be a person.

    Bob, I agree with Debbie that it would be lame for a “Party of Principle” to have no principles on a question like abortion. What’s at issue here is not whether to be “live and let live”, but rather what entities fall under the protective umbrella of that dictum.

    Strictly speaking, questions of franchise — who is a person? who deserves protection equal to the most-protected persons? — are indeed orthogonal to the core libertarian principle of non-aggression among persons. But it would be extremely lame for the LP to punt on all questions of franchise: slavery, women’s suffrage, infanticide, child abuse, spousal rape, immigration, foreign intervention, etc.

    What’s fascinating to me about this subject is that, despite our penchant for ideological consistency, few if any Libertarians are rigidly for or against expanding franchise across all of these issues.

  85. Robert Capozzi

    bh, I’m not a fan of the “Party of Principle” terminology, especially as it’s applied. That may be heretical to some, but many Ls take “principle” to mean that all issues can have a “principled, correct” position, discernible with an absolutist certainty. Since people who consider themselves principled can and do disagree, these results indicate that the model doesn’t work…IMO!

    I have voted for pro-life candidates, even though I’m pro-choice (with restrictions). I’d vote against someone who is anti-Iraq War, even though I am against that form of carnage.

    Someone would have to demonstrate to me that political “principle” is physics, which I’d assert, it ain’t. I have some question about whether physics is physics, since — as you know — there is no spoon, but that’s for another day 😉

  86. Look at your own sins

    Before forcing your views and judging others, remember you will have to face your own sins. It should be between the woman and G-d, her private business not yours.
    1. A woman who has been raped is going to have issues dealing with this, let alone if the family if there is one involved don’t break up due to other issues that also become involved.
    2. Let the pro-lifers have a 50% tax on supporting these unwanted children since they have their belief.
    3. We have children here now, born that can’t even get adopted due to government interference.
    4. We have our men fighting a war losing their lives, limbs and affecting them mentally, coming home from a war a lot of them don’t even believe in, is this a form of abortion? These people come back in such sad positions, families are broken up also due to this.
    5. Which is worse forcing a child to live in slavery of government and with the over population will end up dying anyways due to lack of food, proverty, diseases, it is like rats breeding in a cage, if you get too many what happens then.

    There is no right or wrong answer. This is where the privacy of that person and G-d comes in.
    Those who have not sined can throw the first stones.

  87. PS< other issues to talk about

    This should not be a majority topic, as I see here, you need to get back to the other issues, not abortion as a major topic here.

  88. Mik Robertson

    @95 “Either way, cogent ethical thinking is not what I would expect from people who think a cell can be a person.”

    Clearly a cell can be a person given enough time and the right conditions, as evidenced by all people alive today.

  89. Brian Holtz Post author

    By “can be” I didn’t mean “can become”, but rather “can be considered”.

    I just don’t see how a cell can be considered a person. I also don’t have any intuition that a 12-week-old fetus is a person:

    However, I’ll admit to suspecting that if humans were marsupials, we might have different intuitions about when personhood obtains. People yearn for bright lines on this question, because we have nothing in our wiring or experience that equips us to think about quasi-persons. If chimps were smarter, or Neanderthals weren’t extinct, or Sasquatch were real, that would have interesting impacts on personhood debate.

    Bright lines may also soon also be endangered in the no-longer-uncontroversial question of personal identity. Here is a funny video exploring the question:

    My answer is that you share identity with your closest close-enough continuous-enough continuer. However, I can imagine cases where identity forks, or where “close-enough” and “continuous-enough” are blurry enough that identity isn’t clearcut.

  90. Tom Blanton

    Ground Control to Cadet Capozzi. How can you say the following?

    “There was a time in the 70s that most Ls believed that fetuses were “parasites,” since back then most were Ayn or Murray followers.”

    What evidence do you have that most “Ls” believed that?

    It has often been said that libertarians are pro-choice on everything. To a libertarian, this means that it should not be the government that makes choices for people, regardless of what that choice is about.

    You’re also missing the boat when you say:

    “I’m not a fan of the “Party of Principle” terminology, especially as it’s applied. That may be heretical to some, but many Ls take “principle” to mean that all issues can have a “principled, correct” position, discernible with an absolutist certainty.”

    Unlike the GOP and the Dems, the LP (party of principle) used to fairly consistent message. It was the inconsistency of the major parties that made the LP somewhat consistent. The slogan refers to the LP remaining consistent to its professed principles and not so much about particular principles being correct.

    However, I’m not surprised that your hobgoblin of absolutism would be lurking in the shadows.

    Of course times change. Now LP issues can be based not on any principle, but on what self-styled political strategists think phantom voters want to hear. Neither consistency nor principle can exist in that environment

    Bonus Questions for LP Platform Committee people:

    Where in the U.S. Constitution is the federal government empowered to regulate or prohibit abortion?

    If the federal government is not empowered to regulate or prohibit abortion, why should the NLP be concerned with making abortion a national issue in the national platform?

  91. Brian Holtz Post author

    Should the LPUS concern itself only with federal issues? Good question. My answer is here.

    I don’t really like the “Party of Principle” label. The Green and Constitution parties are just as principled as the LP — it’s just that not all of their principles are libertarian principles.

    The LP Platform is nearly exclusively devoted to the principle of banishing fraud and initiated force from human relationships. There are only two plank sentences in the 2008 platform that are not devoted to that principle, and the 2010 PlatCom has recommended deleting both of them.

  92. Michael H. Wilson

    Brian somewhere along the line I picked up the idea that there was a first principle That since a person existed they had the right to sustain that existence. Maybe I figured that out on my own. Maybe I got it from Spinoza. Whatever! I’ve always figured that was a good principle to start with. And being someone who thinks the ninth amendment is meant for just that purpose I couldn’t find better stuff to work with.

  93. Brian Holtz Post author

    Michael, are you saying that this right to “sustain one’s existence” wouldn’t be be protected if fraud and initiated force were banished from human relationships?

    Also, I worry that this “right to sustain one’s existence” could be used to justify fraud or initiated force as a means to that end, so I can’t endorse that principle as stated.

    It strikes me as an instance of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is-ought_fallacy to say that one’s existence implies the right to sustain one’s existence. Libertarians don’t agree on how (or whether) one can deduce the non-aggression principle from more-fundamental principles, and it would be divisive for the LP to officially take a stand on this philosophical question.

  94. Debbie Schum

    Re: # 92
    I didn’t say neutral positions are lame. I said this is a position that is impossible to be neutral on. Therefore, attempts to appear neutral are lame. Especially the position we are trying to squirm into. Leaving the issue up to the individual is NOT “neutral”. It is pro-choice. Pretending it is neutral is lame.

    Re: # 103 (bonus question) It’s not. Even if abortion IS murder, it doesn’t fall into the federal category. But attempts to make that point in the plank seem to devolve into long philosophical discussion.

  95. Robert Capozzi

    Tb 103, you ask how I can say that there was a time in the 70s that most Ls believed fetuses were “parasites,” …the more precise statement would be “it’s my sense that in the 70s most Ls I encountered were passionate (I’d say dogmatic) followers of Ayn and/or Murray, and both expressed their opinion that fetuses are parasites.” Is this a matter of dispute?

    I’m down with being consistent with one’s professed principles. I’m also down with Emerson’s view of FOOLISH consistency. Thankfully, in recent years, much of the foolish overstatement in the old platform has been taken out. This has the effect of welcoming a broader number of people into the LP, not just NAP/ZAP theorists.

    My take on whether abortion is a national issue, I’d say you could start with the first 3 words…”We the people…” The word “person” appears throughout the Constitution. The 14th Amendment seems quite relevant, too. Pro-lifers generally believe life begins at conception, so it seems appropriate for the platform. It’s also a national issue, therefore germane. All IMO, of course!

  96. Tom Blanton

    Cappozzi asserts:

    “Thankfully, in recent years, much of the foolish overstatement in the old platform has been taken out. This has the effect of welcoming a broader number of people into the LP, not just NAP/ZAP theorists.”

    Can you back this statement up with any numbers? You may feel that the LP is more welcoming of a broader number of people, but is this broader number of people actually showing up to be welcomed? What does the phrase “has the effect” mean? An illusion?

    I know the LPHQ likes to keep membership numbers secret, so it is hard to determine if there is actual growth or growth from a month ago. What are the numbers today compared to ten years ago?

  97. Robert Capozzi

    tb, yes and no. I coul throw a blizzard of numbers out there, but it’s my contention that Boaz’s work on the L voter a pretty good proxy for the LP’s potential. It’s simply my judgment that NAP/ZAPsolutism is highly unlikely to have much electoral sway.

    By “has the effect,” I simply mean that a highly theoretical platform with extreme-sounding positions is unlikely to attract many voters to the LP’s cause. Our message — sans the extremism — is quite popular and respectable in the public square, IMO. Some of the outlier positions that some Ls take is NOT popular and respectable by most.

    All IMO, which ultimately is all we have….

  98. Michael H. Wilson

    Robert we can take that “extreme-sounding positions” point that you make and put it in words that are quite pleasant, if given half a chance, without giving up anything.

  99. Marc Montoni

    LPHQ doesn’t keep membership numbers secret, at least not at the moment. For almost twenty years, Joe Dehn posted a membership analysis called “Libertarian Party Membership Statistics” to various computer BBS’s. See a sample here. He continued doing so until 2004, when Seehusen and the LNC decided to keep the numbers secret. However, they have been published regularly again since mid-2006 or so.

    Membership numbers have been declining fairly steadily since October 2008, with few upward blips:

    2008-10 16099
    2008-11 16079
    2008-12 15358
    2009-01 15178
    2009-02 15004
    2009-03 14892
    2009-04 15059
    2009-05 15068
    2009-06 14566
    2009-07 14303
    2009-08 14094
    2009-09 13787
    2009-10 13618
    2009-11 13963

    Add about 10% for non-member donors.

    Ten years ago, there were almost three times as many members as there are now. November 1999 was the LP’s peak, at over 33,000.

    See a previous analysis of long-term trends here.

    Right now the LP is smaller than at any time since 1994 or so; it competes in fewer elections than it did a decade ago, it gets fewer wins as it did a decade ago, it gets less free media attention, and so on. As the saying goes, “pain is nature’s way of telling you you’re doing something wrong”. The LP seems determined to compound its pain with the same old prescriptions that haven’t done us any good for over nine years. The path was shown to us between 1995 and 2000; we’ve just chosen to ignore it and re-arrange deck chairs instead.

  100. Robert Capozzi

    mm: Ten years ago, there were almost three times as many members as there are now.

    me: “Three times” sounds more impressive than “two times,” but it sounds like you’ve made a math error. Still, for me, the more representative number is 20K. More is better than less, but all the data observations are TINY, IMO.

  101. Marc Montoni

    “Three times” sounds more impressive than “two times”, but it sounds like you’ve made a math error.

    Yadda yadda…. How about “the Party was 2.36 times larger in 11/99” or perhaps “the Party is less than half (.42) of its 11/99 size”. Whatever.

    Maybe after we settle this one, we can address how continued slide in donors jives with “This has the effect of welcoming a broader number of people into the LP”.

    Still, for me, the more representative number is 20K. More is better than less, but all the data observations are TINY, IMO.

    Yeah, they are. And they’re trending towards infinitesimal, despite the new curtains and coat of paint.

  102. Robert Capozzi

    mm: …new curtains and coat of paint…

    me: As you should know by now, Brother Montoni, I’m challenging the foundation of the party, not advocating cosmetic changes. The foundation was built on the sand of NAP-ism. To be sure, some prefer the sand, but I’d like to see the party build on something more solid and serviceable. The draft St. Louis Accord resolution would allow the many paths to liberty to co-exist under the LP banner.

  103. get your facts straight.

    1. Judging from the LP.ORG website, they have more than reach it goal in people giving money.

    2. Wayne Root has gotten a lot of media attention more than the Libertarian has ever gotten in years.

    I think you need to get your facts straight.

  104. paulie

    tb, yes and no. I coul throw a blizzard of numbers out there, but it’s my contention that Boaz’s work on the L voter a pretty good proxy for the LP’s potential.

    Boaz’s work has nothing to do with or say about ballot access, debate exclusion, the “wasted vote” fallacy, and other ways in which all alternative parties are kept down regardless of ideology.

    By “has the effect,” I simply mean that a highly theoretical platform with extreme-sounding positions is unlikely to attract many voters to the LP’s cause.

    No platform is ever likely to attract many voters to any party’s cause. The number of voters who read political party platforms is vanishingly small when compared with the overall number of voters in the country.

  105. paulie

    1. Judging from the LP.ORG website, they have more than reach it goal in people giving money.

    The website fundraising, which is only a fraction of the overall budget, has exceeded its goal.

    The overall party funds are still a fraction of what they were 10 years ago.

  106. powerob

    As far as corporate personhood, just make language that disallows personhood to include anyone/thing that isn’t a natural person. With the word “natural” in there, it takes away entities that are deemed or wish to be deemed people that aren’t a specific human.

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