Lunch with Three Bloggers — or — Real World Politics (your choice)

If you’re a stickler for purist libertarian philosophy, please don’t read this as it’s likely to piss you off. If you’re a right-leaning libertarian, ditto.

Wednesday afternoon, I had lunch with three bloggers: Blue Gal (personal site, DailyKos), Bitter Old Punk (BOP isn’t all that old), and Loretta Nall (campaign site, campaign blog, USMJ blog, other activities). Generally, my mainstream political activities require me to be around pretenders with corn cobs temporarily shoved up their asses (at least while they are in the public eye) or around non-mainstream libertarians — who tend to be nerdish, withdrawn and philosophical (I resemble that remark). Even though the table tilted to the left a bit, it was very refreshing to sit and discuss things of a political nature with relatively normal, but very bright, people.

Loretta has been described as a left-leaning libertarian, but I’ve known her for years and don’t find this to be the case. She’s what I’d call a populist libertarian — a point which Bitter Old Punk made on his blog. BOP, as he explains in the same entry, is leery of Libertarians. In conversation, he seemed (to use libertarian Nolan Chart terminology) to be socially liberal and economically liberal-to-moderate. Blue supported Dean for president, then had Nader signs in her yard sometime after Dean crashed and burned. She described her hubby as a libertarian law professor who is active in the ACLU. Another party was to meet us. Due to a scheduling conflict, he missed the meeting. Because I’ve known him for years, I know he’s sympathetic to marijuana-related issues.

Lunch was great. I had the stuffed grouper. The crab and shrimp stuffing combined with the creamy sauce was superior to the fish. But the meal isn’t the point. We all seemed to enjoy the trivial chit-chat that accompanies such a meal (and glass of wine — which I rarely drink before evening). This isn’t the point, either.

The point is that all of us were there because we supported a political candidate. While I’m very used to sitting with supporters for Libertarian candidates, I’m not used to (Russo campaign notwithstanding) them all being non-libertarian. I should be.

When I’m sitting in a similar setting with a Republican or Democratic client, there is always a diversity of political opinion. While libertarians may debate comparatively trivial issues infinitum, we pretty much (from the outside of the movement perspective) march in lockstep.

There’s something about Loretta Nall about which we all should learn: Appealing to normal people. She tends to upset the status quo in the MSM, political circles and even within the Libertarian Party. Like Ed Thompson and Aaron Russo, she says what she thinks as opposed to what she’s “supposed to say”. And people respond to it.

To be quite honest, I don’t think Loretta will win. She’s got to face perhaps the toughest ballot access barrier in the county and has little time remaining to get on the ballot. The Alabama Secretary of State just rejected 3/4 of the petitions we just turned in for a state representative race — something which has never happened before locally. As we all know, Loretta’s getting DPed (against her will) by Democrats and Republicans with laws which are intended to keep her off the ballot. The only thing that can help her right now is a lot of money coming in really quickly.

Back to my point, though. Libertarians are great on philosophy, but often suck at developing a coalition of supporters who may not share all of the same philosophical convictions. It’s my view that we need more populist Libertarians if we ever hope for any electoral success. To borrow from our masthead — common sense shove up your elipsis.

While my libertarian/political rant is concluded, if you’e interested in the well-written view of a peaceful person who was busted on a weed charge, check BOP out. Here’s the teaser:

Part of my sentence was to undergo counseling and drug testing. I was also mandated to attend 36 AA/NA meetings. “Counseling” consists of sitting around in an uncomfortable circle with a group of men and women whose lives have fallen into various states of disrepair. Each session is an exercise in futility, as we try and repeatedly fail to convince the group moderator that we’re all better now, having found Jeebus and admitted we were powerless over [insert something fun here].

Being neither powerless, nor addicted, nor enamored of Jeebus, I am not proving to be the most compliant group member. From what I’ve gathered so far, the line for expressing one’s feelings honestly and openly (which we are repeatedly encouraged to do by our Care Bear Inquisitors) ends well before “this is Kafkaesque bullshit” and “how can the state legally make me attend quasi-Christian cult meetings?

If you prefer extreme (somewhat libertarian, but mostly progressive) rants filled with panty pics, here’s your site.

As I’m traveling this weekend, I’ve pre-posted this. Hopefully, I’ve already checked out of my Baltimore (Inner Harbor) hotel and have arrived in DC. If the gods have favored my journey (and I correctly figgered the nuances of Day Light Savings Time combined with swapping time zones), I’m checking into a hotel in Old Town, Alexandria about right now.

Rock on and peace-out.

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. I was just thinking about the same thing this past week. I am speaking, of course of making a populist message or frame the libertarian message in a populist way. I’ve had my best luck with blacks, using the populist method. Most people do not understand the free market and what it truly is. Usually, people react to “free market” with the idea of Wal Mart using emminent domain and swallowing mom and pops. I like to use “market based solution” with people who recoil at the bastardized, cronyist “free market” that the Republicans and Cato/Heritage Institute(s) have foisted upon America.

    As far as getting white conservatives to think, forget about it. Don’t waste your time. Conservatives have absolutely no reason or incentive, let alone the brains to support libertarian ideas or policies. They also utterly hate your guts as if you raped their mother and defecated in her vagina once they find out you hate Bush and everything Republicans stand for.

  2. In the state of Vermont a “carpetbagger” candidate for U.S. Congress may enter the state, rent an apartment, set up residency quickly & collect signatures to get on the official election ballot for 2006.
    It takes 250 signatures for an independent candidate to get on the official election ballot,
    and signatures are turned in in September 2006.
    Independent candidates may chose up to 3 descriptive words rather than have ‘independent’ after their name on the ballot.
    If Loretta Nall doesn’t get on the Alabama ballot, I hope her supporters will help her move to Vermont in time to get on the 2006 ballot here.
    Out of state campaign donations are legal. 1-800-424-9530 Federal Election Commission.
    I was on the ballot twice in 2004, see Cris Ericson MJP.
    I’ll be on the 2006 ballot.
    Please support Loretta Nall’s move to VT if she doesn’t get
    on the ballot in Alabama.

  3. Thank you for your pre-post Stephen.

    Loretta Nall seems uncommonly articulate for a big or small “l” libertarian. What’s not to like? And very, very sad that some people are all talk.

    She’s not on the ballot because no one “supporting” her actually gives a real good goddamned and I wish they’d shut the hell up.

    And I have no doubt she’s been overmatched on this ballot requirement—though I must say, Alabama’s laws sure are not the toughest. They’re bad; not the toughest by any stretch and sure not unreachable. Nor, sadly, as any actual progress been made (judging only from what I”ve read and assuming there is no known horde of sigs already collected).

    I’m fairly mystified by all those taking time to comment on her candidacy, as though they support her candidacy.

    Where are her sig gatherers and/or her contributors?…as opposed to her hot air people; those are not lac Marijuana candidates draw bs support as smoke through the bong.. Acta non verba.

  4. I, too, enjoyed our lunch. And I agree with yr point re populist libertarian candidates. As you mentioned, I’m not a libertarian. Nor am I a Democrat or a Republican (actually, I just took that quiz thingie and found out that I’m a “centrist”, whatever that means.). I’m frustrated by the political Kabuki that passes for constructive debate, and I’m appalled at the state of my state and my nation. But I’m not a political animal. I started a blog to teach myself some XHTML and to blow off a little steam. I never expected to be lunching with political consultants and candidates for public office. That said, I was energized by the experience and I look forward to repeating it. Loretta has no chance of winning, of course, but her no-bullshit attitude is an attractive contrast to the pre-fab homilies that current politicos spoon-feed the voters.

    And, to the dude whose post included the words “raped your mother and defecated in her vagina”: seek professional help. That’s just fucking wrong.

  5. Thanks Steve for this post. I am glad that you see the value in my populist ability.
    I could win this election if I had ballot access….I may even win without it although that possibility is extremely low.

    But I will “win” either way.
    Will I win the Governor’s office his time around?
    No. Probably not.
    Will I accomplish laying the building blocks and a solid foundation for future elections in the state of Alabama?
    Will I gain name recognition?
    Will I make important contacts in the business and private sectors of Alabama?

    Some of the most important bills w/regard to prison have passed and there is a new prison commissioner who seems to have a good head on his shoulders and heart in his chest. I have heard two of the other four candidates get hammered on marijuana laws on the radio and one party tried to buy me out the day I announced and both are courting HARD me to join their ranks.

    So, to me anyway, I am already winning and we have a while yet til November.

  6. BOP said,

    “But I’m not a political animal……”

    Famous last words buddy.

    Remember, I was a housewife before the cops kicked in my door. Other than voting I never held any real interest in politics. Now I am running for the highest office in the state.

    Politics have proven more addictive than any drug I have ever done. I am now officially a poliical junkie. I get this feeling you will be as well before too long.

  7. If you’re a stickler for purist libertarian philosophy, please don’t read this as it’s likely to piss you off.

    Read it. It didn’t piss me off.

    She’s got to face perhaps the toughest ballot access barrier in the county

    Oklahoma is the toughest overall for pure statewide access. Georgia is the toughest for local candidates, although state wide is easy. Alabama has the toughest combination of access and retention (3% for access and 20% for retention) but not the toughest access.

    The Alabama Secretary of State just rejected 3/4 of the petitions we just turned in for a state representative race

    Any luck or info on getting the lists? I am confident I can find 405 good in there if I can get them. The county claimed 356 and the state said 265.

    Many of the signatures may count for Loretta even though they are not district 79. Need a ruling on that. We registered over 400 people and collected 1,043 total signatures although only 807 put Auburn area addresses.

  8. From BOP’s blog

    “I’m generally leery of Libertarians, since they tend to live in a fantasyland where multinational corporations are actually good global citizens,”

    I have the same problem with some libertarians. I would interpret libertarian philosophy as more along the lines of doing away with limited liability and corporate welfare, as well as the tax and regulation regime giving big corporations a major advantage over smaller companies. In effect this would do away with multinational corporations completely.

    “and unfettered anarcho-syndicalism leads to a happy healthy Mad-Max style societal free-for-all.”

    Nothing mad max about it. Both syndicalism (not state socialism) and real markets (not corporate-government collusion) can coexist peacefully. Populism is fine as long as it’s not of the socialist-fascist variety.

  9. Steve,

    If you talk to SOS about getting the list(s) ask them also about whether the signatures can count toward statewide, they never gave me a definitive ruling on that.

    As for how many signatures I have collected for her – over a thousand, if they let them count. Unfortunately there is no money, and I have to make a living (in other states) too.

    Anyone claiming I don’t support her candidacy is wrong. I’ve spent a lot of time sending Loretta suggestions, promoting her in various internet fora, went to campaign events when I was in Alabama, and even sent her a few bucks – something I very rarely do for candidates.

    I would have collected a lot more signatures for her if I could have supported myself while doing it, but unfortunately she did not realize she could get started before this year.

    I am advising her to get started ASAP for 2010. I concur with Loretta’s stated goals for this race in the comments above.

    Those who have done more for her campaign are welcome to criticize

  10. Loretta, your post was really refreshing! Finally someone in politics who has not been seducted by the power itself! Now can somebody from another country make donation? Thanks!

  11. Depending who does the accusing, I’m either a purist libertarian or a right leaning one. (I’m really an Anarcho-Republican, though…) So, what was the part that was supposed to piss me off?

  12. Thanks for the reminder. I sent some money off to Loretta. It just makes me feel good to know she’s out there making speeches that make people stop and think (or feel (whichever one they were lacking).

    Now I have to write a much bigger check to the IRS.

  13. Thank you Sandra for your contribution to my campaign for Governor of Alabama.

    And to David and his question about international contributions….sadly I cannot acept campaign contributions from non-US citizens.
    However, if you support my other work and want to make a personal contribution to me you may send money to me at via PayPal or you can send it via snail mail at

    Loretta Nall
    4633 Pearson Chapel Rd
    Alexander City AL 35010


  14. Thanks Loretta, i spoke to a couple of friends about you and Canada is on your side!

    Thanks for being there!