This issue keeps popping up, and it keeps making me shake my head in total disbelief that people can be so, well, politely, dumb. Hopefully this cartoon I’ve created will shine the big spotlight on the dumb.

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I just got through watching the movie Avatar in the theater with my girlfriend, and, even though, from watching its trailers, I didn’t think it would be a movie I’d enjoy seeing, I was most pleasantly surprised by the movie and its not-so-subtle political message that mirrors my own understanding of how huge militaries (incl the U.S.) and troops work in real life.  

At first, I was offended by the mutiple propaganda ads put out by the U.S. military that preceded the movie, some of them repeating themselves in 3D, and some of them stretching out over several minutes [“I’m trying to watch a freakin’ movie here, not attend my own military induction ceremony, for godsakes, thank you”].   But after actually viewing the movie and witnessing its impactful message, I then realiized why those ‘Please, Please support the troops’ pieces were being shamelessly splashed all over the screen:  a frenzical spoon-feeding antidote designed for the viewer,  in desperate hope that the film’s message doesn’t infect movie-going audiences.  

In Avatar, it’s pretty transparent that the Earthling colonizers of the planet Pandora represent the U.S. military, and makes a pretty accurate portrayal of troops-as-assholes-rather-than-heroes, which pleasingly vindicates what I’ve been saying now for years, in the face of all those mindless yet ubiquitous yellow ribbons.   The film adds punctuation to my own feelings on the matter, in that it gives no out or excuse for that tired old “they’re just doing their job,following orders” claptrap I hear ad nauseum, as combat pilot Trudy Chacon (played by Michelle Rodriguez) delivers my favorite, memorable line from the film, “I didn’t sign up for this shit”, and turns her vessel around to fire instead on the imperialistic bullies.   [“Yes! Man, don’t I wish troops in real life were similarly inclined to think for themselves!”]   This, to me, makes free-thinking, conscience-wielding Trudy the real hero of the movie.  

The film is clearly an allegory of what’s been going on in the Middle East (although it undeniably contains a streak harkening back two decades to the maybe-troops-aren’t-worth-supporting Dances With Wolves) what with all the imperialixtic bullying the U.S. Military (and Britain, and Canada, et al) have been stomping around doing over there for years against the indigenous population.   Just visualize the coveted Tree of Souls treasured by the Na’vi as Mideast oil and well, you start to get the picture.   (But gee, doesn’t “Na’vi” and “Omaticaya People” just sound so…American Indian?)

The film’s director, James Cameron, himself had this to say: “So certainly it is about imperialism in the sense that the way human history has always worked is that people with more military or technological might tend to supplant or destroy people who are weaker, usually for their resources. . . . We’re in a century right now in which we’re going to start fighting more and more over less and less.”  

Cameron does such a good job in the film of making audiences fall in love with – and by extension have sympathies for and identify with – the indigenous tribes and their interests, that I imagine that there’s a helluva lot of cognitive dissonance sweeping over movie theaters from coast to coast:  you want to advocate for and champion the Na’vi and bite back against their aggressors…but you’ve been inculcated to support the troops; what do you do? what do you do?

Hence, the Go Army/Air Force: It’s What We Do Every Day/National Guard: Citizen Soldier recruiting antidotes, I mean, ads.   Going to the movies? Have you had YOUR Avatar vaccine yet?

An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow-fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish. “How long it took you to catch them?” The American asked.

“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.

“I make enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.

“But,” The American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, go out and fish a little, play with my wonderful children, take a siesta with my beautiful wife, Maria, and then stroll into the village each evening where I go to the Cantina, sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.” “Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually New York City where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, senor?”

The American laughed and said, “Well, when the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions, senor? Then what?”

The American said slowly, “Then would come the best part: you would be able to RETIRE”.

“Retire, Senor?”

“Yes, retire. You then can be free to move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, go out and do a little fishing, play with your wonderful kids, take a siesta with your wife if you want, and then stroll into the village in the evenings to a Cantina where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”

LCD icon

Libertarian Crusader DiaryLCD pic

   

 

Harry Browne Era of Libertarian Politics

Published by Gary L. Fincher

Volume V, Edition VI – February 28, 2009

Phoenix, Arizona

   

It’s now official:  Archived Back Issues of Libertarian Crusader Diary are available for the first time on the web!

Libertarian Crusader Diary, published by me, Gary L. Fincher, between April 27, 1995 and August 22, 2000, will soon be up and running again, on this, its namesake site.

All fourteen archived regular issues, plus two specials, are now a mouse click away.  Just click on LCD NEWSLETTERS, then click on ARCHIVED ISSUES for a delve into the colorful and historic past of LP activism across America during the Harry Browne era of Libertarian politics.

Libertarian Crusader Diary is a newsletter of travelling, crusading libertarians.  It’s unique in that it blends keen political acumen and sage, experienced activism with refreshing personal tales and tribulations from life on the road.  The first incarnation of LCD involved the teaming with me of Karen “Kay”, my 2nd wife, who also happened to be my “partner-in-crime” for 8 years on the go.  Since Kay passed away in 2002, the next incarnation of LCD will obviously focus on me as a solo warrior for liberty in our lifetime.

LCD Newsletter:

https://libertycrusader.wordpress.com/libertarian-crusader-diary/

Wish You Were Here:  Postcards From All 50 States:

 https://libertycrusader.wordpress.com/libertarian-crusader-diary/archived-back-issues/special-wish-you-were-here-postcards-from-all-50-states/

Finchers Save the Day in New Mexico (Sort Of)

 written by Gary L. Fincher

August 22, 2000

 

As you might recall, Kay and I went to New Mexico in 1998 to manage a statewide campaign that would earn the Libertarian Party of NM major party status in the eyes of the State of NM.  That campaign, the Maurice McDonald for Commissioner of Public Lands campaign, won over 5% of the vote cast for governor.  The chairman of the McDonald campaign, Joseph Knight, assured us that the 5% could be garnered by any candidate, governor or not, as long as it was equal to 5% of the votes cast in the race for governor.  This was why we were brought in in the first place, Kay as fundraising director and I as campaign manager:  to see to it that McDonald won enough votes that were equal to 5% of the votes cast in the race for governor.  This was accomplished in November 1998.

 

 

Registering Libertarian voters at a Kmart in Albuquerque, N.M.,  in Dec. 1999

Registering Libertarian voters at a Kmart in Albuquerque, N.M., in Dec. 1999

 

The other prerequisite for earning major party status, in addition to the 5% requirement, was holding one-third of one percent of the total voter registration in the State of New Mexico.  That meant that we needed a couple of thousand voter registrations, and we already held over 1,000.  In the spring of 1999, when Kay and I were in town for court appearances stemming from getting arrested for wearing Libertarian clothing at the 1998 polls in Santa Fe, we collected about 250 Libertarian voter registrations.  This entailed positioning ourselves in front of a busy store or a prime spot on a college campus and asking NM residents if they would fill out a voter registration containing “Libertarian” in the Party Preference space.

 

The state party down in New Mexico then let most of 1999 go by without making a dent in the registration requirement, while Kay and I delivered motor homes for most of the spring and the summer, and then worked on ballot initiatives in California and in Massachusetts.  The state party members in NM, except for manning a booth at the NM State Fair in the fall, for some reason never were moved to collect the registrations which needed to be completed by January 2000.

 

By October, just as I was receiving my eye disease diagnosis, we were being called by Joseph Knight, who had since been elected chairman of the NM LP, to come to NM. to collect the registrations.  There were in fact only a handful of activists in the entire United States with the expertise to collect Libertarian registrations by the dozens in a day, which was what would be needed in order to make the deadline.  The national Libertarian Party headquarters also was pleading with us to travel to NM, but we couldn’t make the trip right away due to my eye condition and treatment schedule in Indiana.

 

By November, the NM LP needed approximately 1,200 Libertarian voter registrations by early January in order to earn major party status, according to Joseph Knight.  So it was that around Thanksgiving, with my doctor allowing me to leave Indiana for only two weeks, Kay and I drove to Albuquerque right after a heavy treatment on my left eye (it was swollen and sore for a while).  She drove the entire distance, a three-day drive.

 

A local Libertarian who lived in Rio Rancho (15 ml. north of Albuquerque) offered us the use of his pad while we collected voter registrations.  For a couple of days in late November, Kay worked solo at a Kmart persuading shoppers to stop and fill out a voter registration with “Libertarian” already written in (by us) in the Party Preference space.  In early December, when the blurriness in my eye had abated, I joined her in her efforts.

 

Some of those we asked to fill out the form were already registered, with another party, but we persuaded them to fill out another one, a Libertarian one this time.  Many more were not registered at all and we asked them if they would register “Libertarian” as they registered.  Some had been registered Libertarian in another state and were simply renewing their status for N.M.  We used a table, adorned with a laminated display telling New Mexicans that we needed 1,200 additional Libertarian voter registrations in order to qualify for major party status, with the invitation, “Please Help” in plain view.

 

On December 2, Kay and I promptly got sick, coming down with the worst case of flu/pneumonia that we had ever experienced.  This laid us up for over a week, forcing us to face a decision:  stay or go back to Indiana.   We were asked to stay and work on the drive, to finish it before the deadline. So I called my doctor and rescheduled my treatment, reluctantly.

 

 

 

Christmas 1999 in Albuquerque

A day off: Christmas 1999 in Albuquerque

In mid-December, we set about in earnest collecting the registrations, mostly at Wal-Marts and Kmarts in Albuquerque.  We collected anywhere from 50 to 110 registrations per day, or 10-15 per hour, just stopping shoppers on their way into the store.

 

My new treatment date was set for a couple of days before Christmas, but Ron Crickenberger, national political director for the Libertarian Party, called me to ask me if I could reschedule my doctor appointment again, in order to get the drive done on time, which I did, against my better judgment.  I feared there would be health repercussions for doing so, but I also wanted the drive to succeed and didn’t want to let anyone down.

 

A couple of days before Christmas, “all hell broke loose”, as is said when a catastrophic event leads to a degeneration of subsequent events.   At the same time that Ron Bjornstad, NM registration drive coordinator, issued a warning against pre-labeling the forms “Libertarian”, Albuquerque’s NBC affiliate. KOB-TV, carried a story on the evening news that “500 New Mexicans had recently been tricked into changing their registration to Libertarian.”  The story of course, was completely false.  The segment, which aired twice that evening, included an interview with a lady who had signed up at an Albuquerque Kmart but who charged that we told her that the form was a petition rather than a voter registration form.  The newscast even went so far as to show footage of a petition form.

 

Of course, Kay and I operated completely on the “up and up” and never used the word “petition” to describe what we were asking for.  No one was ever tricked or lied to, yet KOB-TV was doing a newscast as if it were fact!  This got our dander up for certain and we called the station to complain and curse the story.  Upon further investigation, we found that 300 registration forms had been mailed to the Bernalillo County Board of Elections on the same day that coordinator Ron Bjornstad hand-delivered 200 of them, creating a total of 500 registrations, all with “Libertarian” in the party space, that the Board of Elections was asked to process.  For reasons still unknown to us, the Board of Elections balked at so many Libertarian registrations and told KOB- TV that they were all fraudulently obtained.

 

That allegation led to a series of bad moves both on the part of the state and on the part of the NM Libertarian Party.  The state, of course, stiffened their resistance to our Libertarian endeavor of registering one-third of one percent of all NM voters.  But instead of sticking up for Kay and me (who had collected 99% of the 500 registrations dumped that day), Joseph Knight made a series of blunders, baffling and annoying Libertarians from coast-to-coast, especially those who know better about Kay and me, our allies in the field.

 

First, Knight acted as if he was in full support of Kay and me – until we had to leave the state on New Year’s Eve in order to return to my Jan. 5 eye appointment in Indiana.  Upon leaving the state, Knight turned on us, hiring a buddy of his from his hometown, a former cop and magistrate judge (see related story is this issue on what cops and magistrate judges are capable of when teamed together to pummel a hapless defendant) turned private detective to “investigate” us, or more accurately, to get testimony second-hand, from those who had registered with us.

 

Unbeknownst to us at the time, an official from the Bernalillo County Board of Elections had come to our site and posed as a prospective registrant.  Although I didn’t know who he was at the time, I kept trying to persuade him to register “Libertarian” when he insisted that registering “Republican” might be good enough for our purposes there.  It wasn’t, of course, and I told him straight that we can only qualify for major party status if he would register “Libertarian”, nothing else.  When interviewed by the PI, the PI used this fact as “proof that we obtained fraudulent registrations.”

Investigative Report – January 7, 2000

Interview:
Robert Lucero
Bureau of Elections Coordinator
Bernalillo County
505-768-4104

Mr. Lucero stated that he had personally gone to the sight [sic] where the Finchers were registering voters and posed as a potential registrant.

Mr. Lucero stated that he had asked the Finchers many questions concerning their efforts and received many answers he considered in violation of the election code.

Mr. Lucero stated that he asked if they were only signing up “Libertarians” or could he sign up as a “Republican” to which he stated that Mr. Fincher told him “that would defeat their purpose.”

Mr. Lucero stated that he had contacted the District Attorney’s office concerning possible violations of the Election Code and that they would be doing an investigation also.

Mr. Lucero furnished me with (2) letters written in reference to the situation and they are included in this report.

Mr. Lucero seemed a little hesitant to discuss an ongoing investigation with this investigator but did say that he had heard that they were “also having problems with the Libertarian Party registration in Las Cruces.”

However, we were astonished to learn, from reading the PI’s report, that it contained the “testimonies” of over a dozen voters, all containing fallacious information that would be very damning to us, had it been true.  We quickly concluded that these “testimonies” were the result of leading questions by an unscrupulous former cop experienced in “testi-lying” and who had the strongest motivation to come back to his client with “something” as opposed to “nothing.”

 

A display on our table even advises voters that they are filling out a voter registration form

A display on our table even advises voters that they are filling out a voter registration form

When the report was released, Joseph Knight issued a press release basically saying that it was the LP of NM’s position that Kay and I did mislead voters, or fraudulently obtain them, which led to the headline that is still unbelievable to me, in the Albuquerque Journal: LIBERTARIANS ADMIT VOTERS MISLED.

 

 

 

The State of NM [made up predominately of Democrats and Republicans] now had fuel for their fire in its war on the LP.  Most Libertanans however weren’t so swayed.

 

LPNM Voter Reg Drive Coordinator Ron Bjornstad, who confirmed that we legitimately registered voters.

LPNM Voter Reg Drive Coordinator Ron Bjornstad, who confirmed that we legitimately registered voters.

 

 

 Michael Morrison, who had flown in from Georgia to help in the registration drive, and who actually was there and watched us in action in Albuquerque, set out on an internet crusade to set the record straight, to tell fellow LPers that we in fact collected all the registrations legitimately.  What followed was an inspiring string of supporters from California to Maine, all vouching for Kay and me, and our straightforward and honest methods.  Soon all kinds of Libertarians were sending e-mail messages to the folks in NM and at national HQ on our behalf.  It was quite moving.

 

Since December, much has been said on the internet, in discussion groups and such, regarding the New Mexico fiasco.  But the bottom line is that, by the time Kay and I left NM on Dec. 31, we had collected 1,100 of the 1,200 registrations needed.  The rest were collected by volunteers and by other pro activists flown in.  But there’s a caveat: in the spring of this year, as the case of major party status went to court, it was ruled that the registrations the State Elections Divisions tried so hard to discount, had to be counted; however, the 5%, it was ruled, had to have been garnered in the race for governor, no other race would count (not even land commissioner).  This begs the question:  why wouldn’t Joseph Knight as chairman of the McDonald campaign, have done his homework and learned of this before he had us make the trip to N.M. in 1998?

 

Related:

 

Watch Kay & me work on the 1999 registration drive in Albuquerque, as Ron Bjornstad did:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdIdgHvILOc