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  • MMR to play at Presidential candidate’s rally at Macalester on Friday

     Gary Johnson is speaking to needs and changes that affect Pagans and sub-cultures that are related to it. Because the more we stand up and address those needed changes, the more will get done. Because it’s time for us all to get up off the couch and stop barking at the TV. – Brad Murphey, Murphey’s Midnight Rounders
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    Murphey’s Midnight Rounders are performing at a rally for Libertarian Presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson on Friday.  The rally is part of Gov. Johnson’s nationwide tour of colleges.  The event takes place at Hill Ballroom starting at 12:30 pm.  PNC-Minnesota will have coverage of the event and was able to catch up with Brad Murphey, of MMR, about how he feels about performing at a rally for a Presidential candidate and why Third Parties are worth taking a look at by Pagans.  The following is the full statement:

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    Murphey’s Midnight Rounders

    For me, this election is going to be decided by the issues. Yes, important issues come up in EVERY presidential election. But this time, there are issues that are important to the Pagan Community. There is a movement in this country, to marginalize Pagan thought, beliefs and practices. That, alone, tells me that we are making an impact. If we were not, there wouldn’t be such vocal resistance to it.

     
    The Wiccan Rede tells us “An ye harm none, do what thou wilt.” Whether one is Wiccan or not is not my point. It’s still a good philosophy. Paganism tends to embrace and defend many sub-cultures that have been marginalized by (dare I say it?) mainstream thought. “If it’s not hurting anyone, why not live the way you want to live?” It’s not an entitlement, it’s a right. There should be NO REASON why someone should not be allowed to live the way they want to, if it’s not hurting anyone. Who is it hurting if two men or two women (or more, for that matter) want to bond together as mates? According to the laws in this country, there are rights and privileges that are afforded them for this commitment.
     
    There are many who believe that any Pagan philosophy or religion should be, at best, a second-class belief system and therefore the First Amendment to the Constitution does not apply to them. There is no such classification in the Constitution. But, instead of accepting it verbatim, they want to CHANGE the wording so that Pagans are…again…marginalized. Acceptance is not taught or encouraged…let alone, defended. Instead, too many of the people who believe in this marginalization are our lawmakers and judges who were brought up to fear that which they refuse to understand. There’s an old song from the musical, ‘South Pacific’ that goes like this: “You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear, You’ve got to be taught from year to year, It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear, You’ve got to be carefully taught.”
    We, as Pagans, tend to profess acceptance (or at least tolerance) of individuality and lifestyles that we may not subscribe to. Those lawmakers, judges, priests and ministers, politicians and just plain everyday folk who are so vocally resistant are really saying, “We will not tolerate acceptance. We will not embrace any who do not live like us. We would rather re-write law and society in our image than allow change and evolution of that same society.”
     
    There is a war on drugs that has been actively waged in this country for many decades. It’s been waged on legal grounds, economic grounds, social grounds, medical grounds and religious grounds. The trend in this war has been to pick on Marijuana as the leading culprit and responsible for all the societal ills we can name; addiction, divorce, educational dropout rates, homelessness, joblessness, laziness and anything else you can think of. This war on marijuana has been based on four things: misinformation, outright lie, ‘power over’ and greed.
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    We have pumped TRILLIONS into this war when there’s no way to win it. When I say trillions, I’m not exaggerating. 25% of this country’s population is currently or has been incarcerated. A HUGE percentage of that population is there on drug-related convictions. I’m not talking about the heroin addict who robs someone to pay for his habit; I’m talking about someone who was arrested with an ounce of pot in his pocket. Our taxes go to law makers, law enforcement, prisons, court personnel, attorneys, medical labs and more, just to pay for this war. But substance prohibition does not work. That was proven in the US in the 1930’s.  To make matters worse, the health and economic benefits of marijuana HAVE been studied and proven. Now, we can bandy all day about who is to blame for the war; who benefits from the war and the prohibition…big pharma, the cotton industry, myopic religious leaders, whatever. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the American people have been lied to for generations about marijuana and only a relative few benefit from this war. It hasn’t stopped people from smoking it…just like Prohibition didn’t stop people from drinking. I could go on and on. But, legalizing it and federally taxing it would help the economy to the tune of BILLIONS every year. And that’s just ONE of the benefits.
     
    The two-party system is broken. That is proven every time a candidate other than a Republican or Democrat is elected into any office. People vote for whomever they believe will defend their needs and rights as citizens. That has been proven by the fact that there are more than two political parties. Period. Having more than the two ‘major’ parties is proof that democracy CAN work…as long as we stop trying to break it. If we are to evolve, as a civilization, we must have a government that evolves with us. But what seems to happen is that the two-party system is more concerned about keeping the status quo, rather than changing to meet the needs of the people. What worked 50 or 100 years ago only continues to work through more stringent regulations and formidable resistance. But if we have a Constitution that says we have an effective voice, it’s time to use it. Sitting at home and barking at the TV set does not bring change. Getting on Facebook and barking about politics does not bring change. Historically, the only way change has been effected in this country is to get out in public and change it. When enough people stand up and say, “we demand change,” government will listen. The stronger that voice; a) the more initial resistance there will be to change and b) EVENTUALLY, those who govern will listen and change with those needs.
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    So, why did I agree to play for the Gary Johnson Rally? Because Gary Johnson is speaking to needs and changes that affect Pagans and sub-cultures that are related to it. Because the more we stand up and address those needed changes, the more will get done. Because it’s time for us all to get up off the couch and stop barking at the TV.
     
    Murphey’s Midnight Rounders is not a Pagan Band, per se. We are a Folk Band (we like to call it ‘Power Folk’). Our music addresses what we feel and who we are. At the same time, all of us in the band are Pagan, so a big percentage of our music speaks to that subject: honoring Deity, tradition, and approaching the goddess with mirth and reverence. That being said, for a band that is all Pagan and sings about Pagan issues, it was an honor to be asked to sing at a rally for a presidential candidate. It says a lot about him, that, as a candidate, he is more open and supportive of the Pagan religions.
    Rally for Jobs, Opportunity, and Diversity
    Featured Speaker:  Libertarian Presidential Candidate Gov. Gary Johnson
    Macalester College, Hill Ballroom, Kagin Commons
    12:30pm to 3pm
    The event is free and open to the public
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    Editor’s note:  PNC-Minnesota Co-Editor Cara Schulz is a Johnson volunteer for this event.

    A Day with Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson

    Note from the Editor: On Thursday I was able to do something few have the chance to do: spend the entire day with a Presidential candidate.  Two-term Governor of New Mexico and likely Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson came to Minnesota for a fundraiser.  What I learned during our time together reinforced the idea that this candidate means it when he claims to represent all Americans.  

    Gov. Gary Johnson, from the GQ article “Is This the Sanest Man Running for President?

    Gary Johnson doesn’t pander to religious extremists. He also shrugs off the conventional wisdom that associating with religious minorities, such as Pagans, is a bad idea.  Back in October, he participated in a Pagan Media Town Hall, at the time when mainstream media most loves to write derogatory fluff articles about Pagans and “real” witches.  Johnson was roundly mocked for his participation by the mainstream press. Even after that, he still accepts me, an open Pagan,  as his Minnesota host.

    I meet Johnson at the airport on Thursday; he’s dressed casually with a backpack slung over one shoulder.  It  looks natural on him, an avid outdoors man.  Paragliding, climbing Mount Everest, ironman triathlons, are all part of his life.  His fitness can only help him: his schedule has him running from one event to the next for the next five days, with a schedule that spreads from 4 am to very late at night.

    IMG climber and former governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, on the summit of Everest with his guide Dave Hahn. photo credit International Mountain Guides

    At the baggage claim we talk about safe subjects like weather, the flight, losing your luggage.  I can’t help teasing him just a bit.  I ask, “So, have you ever been picked up by a crazy cat lady with six cats waiting for you in the car?”

    He stops scanning the carousel for his bag and looks at me, “Do you have six cats waiting for me in the car?”

    I laugh, assuring him no cats await him in my car.  This sparks a discussion of a bill put before him during his time as the Governor of New Mexico.  It sought to limit the number of animals a person could own in an attempt to stop animal hoarding.  He vetoed the bill because people should be able to have as many pets as they can care for, and if the pets are not cared for, animal welfare addresses that.  He notes that animal hoarding is a mental illness; no bill can cure someone of mental illness and this bill would have made that illness a crime. His views on illness extends to drugs.  “Drug addiction is a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue,” he says. Johnson favors legalizing marijuana and commuting sentences for persons incarcerated on non-violent drug charges.

    After grabbing his bag we head to the cat-free car and drive to Hyatt Place South Minneapolis.  There, like most everywhere we go, Johnson acts like an average citizen.  His unassuming demeanor and lack of entourage grant him anonymity. Also contributing is the 7% to 9% he’s at in the polls, the reason that brings him to Minnesota.

    Continue reading

    Minnesota precinct caucuses tonight

    Republicans in Minnesota have their chance to help select the GOP presidential nominee tonight at precinct caucuses across the state.  State GOP officials expect high turnout.

    At tonight’s caucus, Minnesota GOP voters are choosing between Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.   Unlike a primary where voters walk in, vote, and then leave, a caucus is more like a meeting.  Speakers are encouraged to speak on the merits of favored candidates and voters discuss  public policy positions should be adopted as part of the party’s platform.   A straw poll is taken, but it is nonbinding and the results may not match the eventual way Minnesota’s delegates are eventually awarded at the Republican National Convention.

    The caucuses are the first step in the process to awarding Minnesota’s 40 delegates.  Precinct delegates from the 4137 local meetings continue on to county conventions where a similar process takes place, thinning the ranks of delegates.  This is followed by another vote to winnow the delegates at the congressional district conventions, and finally to state and eventually national conventions.

    Minnesota Republican Party Chairman Pat Shortridge is predicting a high turnout at tonight’s GOP precinct caucuses.  “Folks are pretty motivated,” Shortridge said. “For Minnesotans, this is really their first opportunity to cast their vote against the Obama agenda, and it’s their opportunity to cast a vote to start the process of making Barack Obama a one-term president.”

    Democrats are also caucusing tonight to show their support for President Obama’s re-election campaign and to voice their opinion on  issues such as voter ID.

    Minnesota’s precinct caucuses are Tuesday, February 7, at 7:00 p.m.

    Minnesota Caucus Finder: http://caucusfinder.sos.state.mn.us/

    More information on Minnesota caucuses:  (From the Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State)

    Q: Are there restrictions on meetings and events on caucus nights?

    A:

    There are restrictions for some governmental and school events after 6 p.m. on caucus nights:

    • No school board, county board, town board, or city council meetings
    • No U of M or MnSCU events without permission of the Board of Regents or MnSCU trustees
    • No public elementary or secondary school may hold a school-sponsored event
    • No state agency, board, commission, department or committee may hold a meeting

    See M.S. 202A.19 for details.

    Q: What is a precinct caucus?

    A:
    A caucus is a meeting organized by Minnesota’s political parties where citizens can engage each other in a conversation about which candidates to support in the next general election and what public policy positions should be adopted as part of the party’s platform.
    Q: Who can attend a caucus?

    A:
    Precinct caucuses are open to the public and participation is encouraged by the political parties. In order to vote, offer resolutions or become a delegate at a precinct caucus, attendees must be eligible to vote in the next general election, live in the precinct, and be in general agreement with the principles of the political party.
    Q: Are caucus meeting locations accessible to individuals with disabilities?

    A:
    Most caucuses are held in accessible buildings. Anyone needing interpretive services or caucus materials in alternate formats should write or e-mail their political party’s state office in advance for further assistance.
    Q: What do caucus attendees do?

    A:
    • Discuss public policy issues and pass resolutions
      Caucuses provide a forum for citizens to engage their neighbors in a conversation on a wide range of public policy and political issues. Attendees  may also offer and vote on resolutions to shape the party’s platform.
    • Vote in a straw poll
      Political parties may conduct a straw poll to gauge caucus attendees’ candidate preferences for state or federal elected offices.
    • Elect precinct officers
      Caucus attendees elect officers who will be responsible for organizing political activities within the precinct.
    • Elect delegates
      Caucus attendees elect delegates and alternates to represent their precinct at the political party’s county or district convention. District convention delegates in turn, elect delegates to the political party’s congressional and state conventions. Delegates influence which candidates and policy positions their party ultimately endorses.
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