Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I was happy to participate in an anti-war vigil last night in Asheville in front of city hall that maintained a proper tone of solemnity (I could have done without the maudlin, roaming wooden flute player). There was an interesting mix of people there: Highway blogger Jonas Phillips, Swami Virato, Bill Bailey, one police guy, media photogs, and my favorite old-time mando-playing grey-haired chick.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that:

Some 150 people held a vigil Tuesday night at City-County Plaza, calling on Congress to end the war in Iraq by September. The event, sponsored by the Asheville chapter of and other various peace groups, featured a reading of the names of soldiers killed in what the organization calls an “unwinnable religious civil war in Iraq.”

This nonsense -- the war -- has gone on long enough and no claims of "good news" or of success in this perpetuation of military adventurism can be declared valid.

In an apparent effort to shine light on neglected good news from Iraq, a recent viral email has been circulating which proudly touts this so-called "good news" in the war there:

  • Did you know that 47 countries have re-established their embassies in Iraq?
  • Did you know that 3,100 schools have been renovated, 364 schools are under rehabilitation, 263 new schools are now under construction and 38 new schools have been completed in Iraq?
  • Did you know that 25 Iraq students departed for the United States in January 2005 for the re-established Fulbright program?
  • Did you know that the Iraqi Navy is operational? They have 5 -100-foot patrol craft, 34 smaller vessels and a naval infantry regiment.
  • Did you know that the Iraqi Police Service has over 55,000 fully trained and equipped police officers?
  • Did you know there are more than 1100 building projects going on in Iraq ? They include 364 schools, 67 public clinics, 15 hospitals, 83 railroad stations, 22 oil facilities, 93 water facilities and 69 electrical facilities.
  • Did you know that 96% of Iraqi children under the age of 5 have received the first 2 series of polio vaccinations?

How can any of the above developments be considered success in our defense against Islamic Totalitarianism? They might, however, indicate success if our goal in that country were nation-building. But that was not, and should never be, the goal of military deployment.

Running counter to the so-called “good news,” we also have this information from the Washington Monthly that measures percent of change from Summer 2006 to Summer 2007. Did you know:

  • Iraqi Military and Police Killed - Up 23%
  • Multiple Fatality Bombings - Down 25%
  • # Killed in Mult. Fatality Bombings - Up 19%
  • U.S. Troop Fatalities - Up 80%
  • U.S. Troops Wounded - Up 45%
  • Size of Insurgency - Up approx. 250%
  • Attacks on Oil and Gas Pipelines - Up 75%
  • Diesel Fuel Available - Down 22%
  • Kerosene Available - Down 11%
  • Gasoline Available - Down 24%
  • Electricity Generated - Down 4%
  • Hours Electricity Per Day - Down approx. 14%

All claims of "success" must be placed into context.

We are engaged in a contrived, self-sacrificial, non-defensive war initiated under cloak of trickery. I fully support genuine defensive war. But what legitimate national defense purpose is being served by our continued presence in Iraq?

I don't think I have changed my position on the present war in Iraq. I have always been suspicious of America's ability to wage an actual aggressive war against the enemy instead of a politically-correct war. I think the enemy should be engaged with overwhelming military force. President Bush's problem is that he cannot properly identify the enemy and cannot even fight the wrong enemy correctly. The main source of Islamic Totalitarianism is Iran.

I have always thought it to be good that we claim some air space in the region and I applaud those times when we can disrupt terrorist networks and kill their leaders. If we would just do that, our presence in Iraq could be justified. To the extent that we are not doing that, which is considerable, I cannot pretend to be a cheerleader for military adventurism that serves no national defense purpose.

I differ from other anti-war types in that I am pro-American and carry no particular animus toward George Bush. He has simply failed at home and abroad. Why secure the borders of Iraq and neglect our own? Why bring majority-rule democracy to a nation that embraces primitive anti-Western principles?

President Bush started this engagement with a tough stance saying that if you're not with us you're against us, and that any nation that harbors a terrorist is a terrorist nation. Now we are nation-building, intervening in a sectarian shooting war, appeasing barbarians and building schools, etc. Bush supporters can point to so-called successes that bear no relationship to the goals of national defense. Success, in national defense terms, means eliminating the threat; not playing footsie with warring tribes while American service-members die.

This charade has gone on long enough. Either crap or get off the pot. It is George Bush who is strengthening both the enemy and his critics.

Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute deftly points out:

"President Bush has rejected the lessons of World War II and the goal of U.S. security. Instead of eliminating the threat from states that support the cause of Islamic totalitarianism—particularly its main sponsors in Iran and Saudi Arabia—he sent Americans on a mission to bring the vote to secular Iraq. Instead of crushing and demoralizing our enemies, Bush made our top priority protecting Iraqi civilians, Iraqi infrastructure, and Iraqi religious shrines—sacrificing American troops to that end. Instead of demanding that Iraqis embrace a pro-Western and, thus, non-threatening government, President Bush declared that they have the right to elect a government of their choosing—including a hostile, Islamic state." -Yaron Brook, ARI


WLOS News 13 news coverage of the anti-war vigil, City-County Plaza on August 28, 2007.


"No Substitute for Victory: The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism" by John David Lewis, George Mason University, April 24, 2007

“Just War Theory vs. American Self-Defense" by Yaron Brook, National Press Club in Washington, D.C., March 14th, 2006.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Candidate Forum

Asheville City Council Candidates Forum
Country Club of Asheville
170 Windsor Road
August 23, 2007 at 12:25 p.m.

[Transcript provided by Asheville Citizen-Times]

The candidates are beginning with introductions.

Dee Williams is first up. She says she's an independent candidate, she says, and she's running because we need "principled leadership." The top issue is water, Williams says. We need to resolve the dispute with the county. The other big issue is taxes - they needed to be lowered, she said. She also wants an elected school board.

Selena Sullivan is next. She tells us she's a native and loves her city, but we've got problems. Taxes need to be lowered and fees are overburdening business owners and homeowners. Crime is taking over the city, she says. We also need to emphasize education and economic development.

Lindsey Simerly is running under a long slogan we didn't get, but which is focused on development and slowing it down. She says we need to control the growth here in Asheville. Independent businesses are the best sources of jobs, she says.

Bill Russell lives in north Asheville and owns a local State Farm insurance agency, he tells us. He's been in Asheville 10 years and says he's passionate about helping the city.

William Meredith, who describes himself as a Libertarian, says he's concerned about crumbling infrastructure of the city. He said he was drafted by his friends to run because he talks so much about local issues.

Matthew Hebb says he's running for city council because he thinks the city needs new leadership. He says that we all need to work together to take the city to the next level. It's all about leadership, Hebb says.

Bryan Freeborn, a member of city council, tells us that he's worked hard on the issues he's run on, such as real economic support for small businesses. He says he's reduced a fee for small businesses, and he notes that city property taxes have been slightly reduced in the year and a half since he's been in office. He says city council has worked aggressively on infrastructure, such as the civic center and old water lines.

Jan Davis tells us that CIBO is home, and he feels like small business has gained a greater voice in Asheville. Davis says he's been on city council for four years, and he notes mentors that have come from CIBO. Davis notes he has a kick-off party tonight at the Ritz at 5 p.m.

Dwight Butner says hello. He wants to talk about three big choices: how we're going to govern ourselves; how we're going to grow; and how are we going to treat each other.

Steve Bledsoe tells us that he's from Alabama, spent 33 years in industry in manufacturing and management. He wants to bring a different style, a clear vision and clear leadership. That's what he wants to bring to City Council.

Donna Bateman, who is in a wheelchair, says she is running for handicapped people and to push handicapped issues. She says downtown isn't handicapped accessible. She says she lives in Battery Park Apartments.

Complete Transcript


Asheville Citizen-Times video clips of each question

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Referendum Finalized

A date for the Special Election for the referendum on partisan elections has been set in a 6-1 vote in favor of the date corresponding to the General Election on November 6, 2007. (Jones dissenting.)


Public comment at Asheville City Council on May 22, 2007:

"A committee opposing partisan elections in Asheville has been formed to carry out the task of securing a valid petition that will force the city to hold a public referendum on this matter. That vote of the public, and not city council’s adoption of this resolution, will determine whether or not this proposed change to the city’s charter will indeed take effect." -Tim Peck


Asheville City Council, August 14, 2007. Complete meeting. Discussion and vote on referendum begins at time marker: 03:59:40. (Requires Windows Media 7 or higher. A broadband connection is highly recommended.)

Asheville City Council (excerpt), August 14, 2007. Video clip: Mumpower speaks, Cape walks.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Operation Republican Takeover

Some philosophical libertarians, myself included, have proposed a hostile takeover of the National Republican Party based on the proposition that current neocon leaders have squandered the franchise and Presidential candidate Ron Paul is the only hope to restore its significance in the American political arena.

We envision a spike in Republican registration based on the popularity of Ron Paul among non-Republicans. This can send a signal to old-school Republican party functionaries that support for Paul can translate into party strength and help raise Paul into viability in the electoral process. In the event that this does not occur, Republican Party membership should return to its former levels; if not lower -- much lower.

The concept of special interest group taking over an existing institution is not unprecedented.

You may have heard of the Free State Project. Their motto is “Liberty in Our Lifetime.” Libertarians took over the state of New Hampshire with the Free State Project, where scores of libertarians from across the country moved to New Hampshire and began voting for a more liberty-oriented government.

Evangelicals took over the Republican Party and began electing Presidents, Congressmen, and Governors who promised to tailor public policy to be more in line with their own Christian religious precepts. (Never mind the separation of church and state.)

Both Republicans and Democrats jockey every election season to take over Congress and enact legislation that the each might find more agreeable to their constituency. (Although, actually de-funding the war has eluded the Democrats.)

Right here in this town, Progressives took over the city of Asheville as the “Freak Capital of the South” and began to challenge old money, old ideas and old lifestyles.

Now, with the emergence of the Ron Paul boomlet – no, with the emergence of the Ron Paul Revolution – we think that the opportunity is clear and the time is right for freedom-loving progressives, libertarians and classic liberals to charge the ramparts and take over the Republican Party, force the neo-cons into the farthest possible margins, and infuse new life into an old party with the bloodline of authentic patriots.

The neo-cons and theo-cons have mismanaged the affairs of the corporation in their charge. They have weakened the body-politic of a once-healthy party and have forfeited any legitimate claims on future stewardship of a major public policy-making institution. In doing so, they have turned back the “clock of progress” for all Americans.

We propose a change. We think the time is now. We think it is time to turn the clock radically forward.

We call on all Ron Paul supporters to join the Republican Party, swell the ranks of their membership, and communicate our newfound delight that a major political party has given voice and opportunity to a genuine, freedom-loving, anti-war presidential candidate.

To learn more, go to And, as always . . .


"Take A Stand with Matt Mittan" WWNC 570-AM, August 14, 2007. Operation Republican Takeover: Matt discusses partisanship, political reform, and a Republican party takeover with current and former Libertarian party members Carl Milsted, Bernard Carman, Tim Peck. Hour 2 | Hour 3


"The Antiwar, Anti-Abortion, Anti-Drug-Enforcement-Administration, Anti-Medicare Candidacy of Dr. Ron Paul" By Christopher Caldwell, New York Times Magazine, July 22, 2007.

"County GOP sees influx of Paul backers" By Sam Taylor, Bellingham Herald, December 16, 2007.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Cartoon: Newman v. Peck

Randy Moulton, Mountain Xpress, August 1, 2007:

Let My People Vote

And so they shall.

The Buncombe County Board of Elections reviewed 6,215 signatures on a referendum petition and were able to verify 5,022. This exceeds the requirement of 5,000 valid signatures; therefore, the referendum petition has been declared valid.

This petition nullifies city council's earlier action to make city elections partisan pending a vote of the public. This year's elections will be nonpartisan and now unaffiliated candidates will be able to file as soon as the State Board of Elections or Superior Judge determines when the filing timeframe should be set.

Some members of the "Let Asheville Vote!" coalition composed a press release that has been posted to their website.

Leslee Kulba has turned in an excellent -- and accurate -- article for the Asheville Tribune recapping the events surrounding the petition drive.

"Petition Succeeds" WLOS Channel 13 News, July 31: