Candidate Gary Johnson Announces Debate Exclusion Civil Suits at Macalester College

Gary Johnson, Libertarian candidate for President, appeared yesterday at Macalester College, Kagin Commons,  in Saint Paul, MN.  Organized by Macalester Young Americans for Liberty, there were approximately 200 interested voters attending, a mix of mainly students and  “third-party” supporters.  In a brief interview with PNC-MN as he left for the airport, Gary Johnson announced he had just learned he was officially excluded from the upcoming  Presidential Debates. He stated his campaign already had plans to file lawsuits in at least three states to contest the ruling.  Civil suits were reportedly filed late yesterday against both major parties and the Commission on Presidential Debates  based on violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, which prohibits monopolistic practices.

Opening the afternoon was Murphy’s Midnight Rounders, a local folk pagan band, who were well received by the crowd. They played two songs with “hemp” themes which got a rise from supporters of the Grassroots Party , Libertarians,  and other groups who support decriminalization of recreational drugs.

Andrew Ojeda, a Macalester undergraduate running for office  in district 64A as a Republican, and Ms Yer Lor, a representative from “Minnesotans United for All Families” , both gave opening remarks. Lor implored Minnesotans to defeat the marriage amendment. Several local Pagans are supporters of this group,  and the group was active soliciting signatures at Twin Cities Pagan Pride.

During the band performance Gary Johnson slipped into the audience front row, to little notice from the sizable media contingent present. Later, as former Governor Jesse Ventura arrived and sat near the PNC-MN contingent, the main stream media all shifted to front stage, to get shots of the colorful former wrestler in his Jimi Hendrix  T-shirt. It appeared main stream media saw the story as Ventura’s appearance and implication of a 2016 run for President as the prime story over the visit of an existing candidate, polling 6% nationally at this point, Gary Johnson.

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Ventura spoke next and praised Johnson’s efforts as a third-party candidate, and for his Libertarian, fiscally conservative but socially liberal, views.  He suggested Presidential candidates should be required to wear “NASCAR style suits”, with “patches from all their biggest donors, their biggest bribers” .  He said voters  should know, “Who owns them, who has bought them off?”  Ventura encouraged young Libertarians to fight for a constitutional amendment to remove a corporations ‘personhood”,  from having rights of free speech and spending in political campaigns. He said the American political system was threatened as long as unlimited and undisclosed money can flow into political campaigns. He tells people who say a third-party candidate vote is wasted that  “a vote for a Democrat or Republican is a wasted vote, because you are going to get the same thing. ” He encouraged the audience to support free speech even if the content it is not popular, because  the  protection is there to protect unpopular speech. He chided main stream media as being controlled by four major corporations, and no longer a  “watch dog'” of the three branches of government. While he personally is not a technology or even a cell phone user, Ventura supported the internet as the last place where the “truth” can get out, saying, “Thank goodness for the internet”. He encouraged Americans to get out and vote, and stressed the importance of voting for Gary Johnson who is paving the road for future candidates.

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M. Macha NightMare Withdraws from Reclaiming Tradition

On Tuesday, August 6th M. Macha NightMare issued the following press release (excerpted below).

M.Macha NightMare

 I, M. Macha NightMare, Priestess & Witch, aka Aline O’Brien, withdraw from the publicly recognized organization known as Reclaiming Tradition Witchcraft and hereby dissociate myself from further involvement with the tradition.  I make this statement formally and publicly because I am a public figure known to be connected to Reclaiming.

I do not make this decision lightly or without forethought and considerations for potential consequences.     [Read the full Press Release]

Pagans, both within the Reclaiming Tradition, and independently, are struggling to understand the significance of this departure by a co-founder.  Some say it is insignificant, people and traditions change and grow. Others want to characterize the withdrawal as an indicator of crisis within a tradition. Neither is accurate. Macha acknowledges in a statement to PNC-MN :

Macha:   …  over the next weeks and months I’ll be exploring and trying to articulate in an understandable but constructive and non-accusatory way the various reasons that led me to this decision.  It’s much more complex than it might seem to someone not part of the community, and to most who even are part of it, especially those who have no knowledge of our history (which is most everyone).

The Reclaiming Tradition just completed approval of revised Principals of Unity (POU) underway in discussions for several years prior, at the biennial Reclaiming Dandelion Gathering immediately before the release of the press statement of withdrawal by Macha. In a statement from Starhawk, an additional co-founder of the tradition, this change is indicated as a possible cause of the withdrawal.  [The 1997 Reclaiming Principles of Unity can be read here.]

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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.

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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.

Indefinite detention of US citizens? Yes We Can!

While we were out celebrating on New Year Eve, our vacationing President quietly signed the National Defense Authorization Act.  Normally this is no cause for alarm as an NDAA Bill is a yearly Bill which authorizes general military funding.  This year was different.  This year the Bill contained a provision which gives the President of the United States the power to detain terror suspects captured anywhere in the world, even if they are U.S. citizens on US soil, and hold them indefinitely without charges or trial.  How’s that for bringing in the New Year?

Why should Pagans, Heathens, and polytheists care about this?  Isn’t it just aimed at terrorists?  That depends on the increasingly subjective term ‘terrorist suspect.’  Not convicted terrorists, suspected terrorists or suspicion of being a terror sympathizer.  Could you become a suspect for having more than seven days of food stored in your home?  Yes, you could.  Paying cash for a hotel room can also place you on a watch list.  Could simply being part of a marginalized and misunderstood minority, such as Paganism, make you a target?  Glenn Greenwald, a former civil rights attorney and current Salon columnist, had this to say about who governments typically target when they are looking to expand their power, “Typically, new powers are often applied in ways that people will feel comfortable with. So if the government wants to restrict speech they will pick the most hated person in the society and restrict their speech and nobody will care…The problem is that these things proliferate far beyond their original applications, in every instance that’s true. Historically, that’s how power functions.”

A more concrete way Pagans could come under the eye of the Department of Homeland Security is to be part of, or show sympathy for, the Occupy movement.  Although it has been local law enforcement that has cleared out Occupy camps and arrests protestors, it is the Department of Homeland Security that is directing and coordinating the actions to suppress the movement. 

… according to Rick Ellis at the Examiner, a Justice Department official says that the recent evictions of Occupy movement across the country including Salt Lake City,Denver,Portland,Oakland, and New York City were “coordinated with help from Homeland Security, the FBI and other federal police agencies.”

Author and political consultant Naomi Wolf detailed her experience being arrested during an Occupy protest in an interview with the Guardian.  The most troubling aspect of her experience, and there were many, was the Department of Homeland Security’s involvement.

Another scary outcome I discovered is that, when the protesters marched to the first precinct, the whole of Erickson Street was cordoned off – “frozen” they were told, “by Homeland Security”. Obviously if DHS now has powers to simply take over a New York City street because of an arrest for peaceable conduct by a middle-aged writer in an evening gown, we have entered a stage of the closing of America, which is a serious departure from our days as a free republic in which municipalities are governed by police forces.

Another activist area that some Pagans are involved with is animal rights. Recent documents gained under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the is keeping files on activists who expose animal welfare abuses on factory farms and recommended prosecuting them as terrorists.  Included in this list are persons whose crime was to illegally enter factory farms and videotape the conditions of the animals.  The terrorism they engage in is to cause economic harm to the animal owners.  Videotaping horrific conditions in a chicken factory can now redefine you as a terrorist.

But is NDAA 2012 really that bad?
The ACLU believes so.  In a Press Release sent out immediately after President Obama signed the Bill they said, “President Obama’s action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.  The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or internationally.”

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