Friday, June 09, 2006

Hoover Kiwanis Club Recap

A couple of months ago I was invited to address the Hoover Metro Kiwanis Club today in Birmingham,AL.

Seeing as how the invitation came only a day or two after my run in with the Hoover law and the gentleman who invited me seemed a tad too excited, I was a little skeptical...paranoid....whatever you want to call it. But, I accepted the invitation and this morning at 7 a.m. I made good on it.

Since I had to be there at 7 a.m. I spent the night in Birmingham last night because it is over an hour drive from my home. I didn't sleep because I was nervous about speaking this morning. Generally, crowds of folks don't make me nervous....but this was a crowd of successful businessmen in one of the nicest neighborhoods in the entire state and I had myself worked into a tizzie thinking that these guys would tear me apart.

As it turns out I had nothing to be worried about.

I arrived about 15 minutes til 7 and went inside to the meeting, which was being held in the back dining room of The Golden Corral on Lorna Rd. I was greeted with a hearty "Good Morning" and led to the coffee. Mr. Lyda (extended invitation) came up and introduced himself and welcomed me to the meeting. I thanked him for the invitation and told him how skeptical I was when I first received it. He laughed and said he had read the story of the traffic stop in Hoover, but that I could rest easy because he was simply very interested in my platform and my story of how I got started in Alabama politics.

He introduced me to another gentleman and told me that he learned about me through him. His friend then explained that a friend of his in San Francisco had emailed asking if he knew me and about my run for Governor. At the time he had not heard of me so he looked me up, read the website and asked the other folks at Kiwanis if they would be interested in hearing what I had to say.

I made my way around the room speaking to everyone and then we all sat down to breakfast and some casual chat before the big speech. The gentleman who invited me suddenly smiled and asked me, "Is that story about you trying to visit your brother in prison really true?"

Me: "Every word."
His smile got bigger.

A few minutes later the meeting was called to order and the first few minutes were spent taking care of business stuff and then I was introduced.

I started out by thanking these gentlemen for inviting me and then I told them about how nervous I had been because of the timing of the invitation and the excitement of the gentleman who extended the invitation. I explained a little bit about the traffic stop and when I got to the part about the tag being held in place by Duck Tape the whole room just howled.

They wanted to know how I got into politics so I shared with them the helicopter/LTE stories, which also drew some hearty laughter.

I then told them that because of Alabama's overly restrictive ballot access laws, my name would not appear on the ballot in November. I talked a little about how third parties are prevented from ever becoming a major force or real choice for voters because we are forced to spend all of our meager resources trying to get the state to acknowledge our existance. I told them that it makes me very upset when I think about Alabama soldiers dying to ensure free and fair elections in Iraq, (where there were 75 political parties and 111 candidates in the last election) when apparently Iraqi's already have freer and fairer elections than Alabama does.

Then I went into drug policy and prison reform. I went over the numbers, the detrimental affect prohibition has on society, how an unregulated market means any kid can get whatever they want, how the laws create the crime and violence, how the spread of deadly diseases like HIV/AIDS, Hep C and things like death from overdose could be drastically reduced if drugs were in a regulated market.

For the prison part I again went over numbers and I told them the story of my brother Randy, the career alcoholic, being given the work release assignment of loading Budweiser trucks while in prison for alcohol related offenses. As always, that story draws the reaction of supressed laughter from those who hear it. You can actually see peoples faces freeze half way to laughing and in their inds you know they are thinking, ("Jesus that is a scream but I am not sure if I am suppossed to laugh!")
It is hilarious. I let them off the hook by acting out what I guessed Randy's reaction must have been when he was given that assignment.

That story serves as a very effective tool for demonstrating just how the prison system is designed to fail those who enter it and what a gargantuan waste of tax dollars it is.

I spoke about the public education system and tax credits for private and homeschool families as well as opting out of unfunded federal mandates like No Child Left Behind.

Next I spoke about the need to keep religion and government separate. This meeting had been opened with a lovely prayer by one of the members and I had some reservations about bringing up that particular topic. However, this group fully understood and appreciated the need for seperation.

I then covered lottery & casino gambling.

When I got to Alabama out of Iraq I stated that my position as a Libertarian is that only defense is legitimate. After all we do not have a Department of Offense or a Department of Pre-Emptive Strike...but a department of DEFENSE. I told them also about my trip to Colombia, South America and how that trip finally made me understand why 911 happened. I said I not only wanted to get Alabama out of Iraq but to hereafter retain sovreignity over them and only send them to war when it is in defense of our nation.

Next, I covered bio-diesel, non-compliance with the Patriot & REAL ID Acts and finally immigration.

I had thought that immigration would be a touchy subject. Hoover police have a very bad reputation for immigrant abuse and there's a very large number of undocumented immigrants in Hoover. I stated why I though mass deportation, imprisonment and militarization of a peaceful border were all really bad ideas and why naturalizing the ones already here and absorbing them into the tax base was the only logical solution. To stop the flow over the border I suggested that we start charging PENNEX one barrel of oil per illegal border crosser...and not entirely in jest...but mostly.

At that time I opened the floor for questions. The gentleman who invited me asked me to talk about trying to visit my brother in prison.

I looked out at the room and said, "I don't wear panties and I am sure that is probably more than you ever wanted to know about me but the story is that my mother and I were denied entry into prison to visit my borther because we weren't wearing any." I said they would have to read the story online because it was too long to tell.

Another gentleman said, "Of all of the things you have spoken about today the one that pisses me off the most is that you can't be on the ballot. And what you said about the soldiers in Iraq fighting for that very It makes me very upset that only two candidates from the same old parties with the same old song and dance will be the only printed choices. What I want to ask is do you think running for office is the best way to address the ballot access issue? Most people don't even know that you are being denied equal status and I think most people do want more choices. Is there another way?"

I told him that a couple of years ago the Libertarian Party introduced a bill to ease ballot access restrictions and that it went no where because it basically boils down to asking the enemy to let you into their house. They do not want competition, especially not competition like me. I also made it a point to name some specific legislators who were and are supportive of more reasonable ballot access laws. I told them that throughout the rest of my campaign I will be drawing attention to those laws in hopes of educating the public to support a bill that would eleminate them altogether or make them the same for everyone.

It was then time to close the meeting so I said my thank you's again and was greeted with a very enthusiastic round of applause. The gentleman who closed out the meeting thanked me for coming and encouraged the other members to stay around if they could and chat with me.

One gentleman came up to me and said, "I completely agree with you on the drug war and I believe many other people do as well. The problem is we are scared to say anything. I just wanted to say thank you to taking on these really tough issues and giving the rest of us a way to be able to change things."

Another said he agreed with home-schooling and the failure of the public education system.

Another gentleman walked over and commented on how he agreed with what I said about the prison system and how he has wanted for a long time to do something in that regard.

Two others walked over and said, "You've got our write-in vote and if you need campaign help here in Birmingham just let us know. We'll place signs..whatever you need."

And as I was writing this recap I received the following email from one attendee,


On behalf of all Hoover-Metro Kiwanis Club members in attendance at this
mornings meeting, THANK YOU for your willingness to address our club on the
most important issues in your campaign for governor. Your talk was
informative, very frank, and in my opinion from your heart! I appreciate
you taking time from your busy schedule to speak to us, and hopefully have a
good time too. I've got to say that I learned more from you in 30 minutes
on issues relative to this years race than all other candidates and their
radio/TV ads. It was refreshing to hear someone speak openly without a
hidden agenda.

Good luck in your race for governor.

Warmest Regards,

I am almost certain that is one of the nicest emails I have ever gotten.

So, who needs ballot access anyway?
If I can get this type of response from a group of Alabama businessmen then just about anything seems possible. I am in this race. I am staying in this race and if my luck holds out I will win this race, ballot access or not. My face was long for a day or two over not getting enough signatures....but this mornings event has washed away all traces of doubt that I will be able to have a positive effect on this election and on politics in general in Alabama.

I had a magnificent time in Hoover this morning. What a great group of people and such a fantastic way to start the day! On behalf of freedom loving individuals everywhere THANK YOU Hoover Metro Kiwanis for the invitation and the incredibly warm, enthusiastic response to my message of REAL CHANGE for Alabama.


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