Friday, December 8, 2006


What is a Corn Flake (besides a joyless processed foodstuff made palatable to millions only by the addition of milk, sugar, and occasionally fruit)?

A Corn Flake is a person who, through his or her public acts, makes everyone in the Libertarian Party look not merely eccentric or radical but absolutely insane by association.

In order to be named a Corn Flake, a person must meet the following criteria:

* That person must say or do something in a public forum or in some form of mass communication. Merely posting to a blog or discussion group is not sufficient- the outside world must be able to get wind of things.

* What the person says or does must demonstrate exceptional levels of stupidity, insanity, hypocrisy, or utter disregard for the consequences of his or her actions.

* That person's actions must be in some way connected to the Libertarian Party, its positions, or its actions. Lyndon LaRouche or David Duke, not being in any way connected to anything Libertarian, are not the LP's problem; let the Democrats and Republicans come up with their own names for those types. A person who does stupid things in the name of tax protest, eminent domain protest, free speech, etc., however, DOES qualify if he's on the same general side of the issue as the LP- even if said person denies being an LP member.

So, that said, who is this week's winner?

Allen Hacker, as campaign manager for Michael Badnarik's run for Congress (TX-1o) in 2006, helped raise over $400,000- more money than any other Libertarian candidate raised without going into his or her own pocket. (Bruce Guthrie emptied his pockets and took out a mortgage on his home to raise the $1.6 million he needed to qualify for the Oregon debates.) However, Badnarik only polled 4.3% of the vote in a three-way race. Granted, this was about two percentage points better than the average Libertarian performance in three-way Congressional races in Texas... but Patrick Warren, running in District 18, polled 4.26%, and Robert Powell in District 27 polled 4.31%... neither man spending a PENNY on his campaign.

This is not, however, why Hacker is this week's Corn Flake. For one thing, the election is over a month gone. For another, Badnarik's race suffered from an unusually high turnout in his district. 176,755 votes were cast in the US House Dist. 10 race- more than cast in any other Congressional race in Texas. Patrick Warren's race, for example, only drew 86,051 votes- half those in Badnarik's race- and Robert Powell's district turned out just under 110,000 votes.

Hacker earned the honor by how he has run the Badnarik campaign. Despite raising almost as much money as the Democrat candidate in this race, Badnarik's campaign never got off the ground. Many blame Hacker for his decision to spend not one penny on radio, television or newspaper advertising, opting instead for three billboards (in a district that stretches from northeast Austin to northwest Houston), some yard signs, and a number of "meet the candidate" dinners across the district. When people questioned this strategy, Hacker said that the campaign's plans were a secret and would remain that way... but that victory was all but assured.

The thing that finally put Hacker over the top happened just this week, though. According to Austin Cassidy's Third Party Watch, Hacker has sent out another fundraising request to the 2004 Badnarik for President donor list... asking for MORE donations to pay the campaign's estimated $215,000 of debt.

Of that debt, $65,000 is for salaries, office rent, advertising buys (mainly ads at the Libertarian 2006 national convention, attended by fewer than a thousand people) and contracts with outside companies. The remaining $150,000 is entirely Hacker's personal salary, held in abeyance until the end of the campaign, for his expert consulting services.

This is in addition to the $134,250 paid out to Hacker's consulting firm, Articulate Campaigns, by the Badnarik campaign.

Hacker has said that, if he is not paid for his services, his report on what is wrong with the Libertarian Party in general will be greatly delayed. Quoting from his email:

We’ve been accused of risking the LP’s future with this campaign. The argument has been that by raising so much money and talking about winning, We have set everyone up for a huge disappointment, which will in turn stall everyone’s fundraising and support for years to come. Balderdash!

What we have actually done in pushing the envelope so far is to peel back the scab hiding the chronic infection that has been keeping the LP anemic and unhealthy all along. By going for the whole enchilada, we aggravated every failure mode the Party has ever adopted. We incurred so much wrath from some unfortunate souls that they actually began a proactive underground counter-campaign to sabotage our fundraising. And they succeeded, too, to the degree that the Party itself has institutionalized their ways of stopping everything good anyone tries to do as a libertarian activist, officer or candidate.

. . .

I’ll be revealing why, even though these people and what they do will be our most difficult problem to solve, they aren’t even close to being our worst problem. That would be the fatally-conflicted value that’s embedded in the libertarian thought process but must be excised if we are ever to succeed. That’s the one that keeps me smiling to myself, remembering the old Confucian admonition, “Your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness.”

. . .

So, what has your money bought, since it wasn’t victory at the polls in TX CD10?

Well, once the bills are paid and I have the freedom of mind to compile everything, you’ve sponsored a final report and a libertarian manifesto for the future. An analysis and a plan, if you want them. From a top consultant in his field, one who routinely doubles and triples his clients’ operations within the first year or two.

. . .

So here’s the deal. First, we pay the debt. Then we build the party and the movement, and ultimately, we take back our freedom.

When you think about it, there’s no way to put a price on that, yet in our case reality has put a price on it nonetheless. That price is simply what it takes to clear the campaign and free my attention so I can deliver on the future instead of forever deal with the past.

. . .

Again, what do you get for your money? You get the solution to our problems as a party. Cheap at twice the price!

. . .

So, let’s get with it. This is not about your hard-earned hundred bucks, it’s about the LP getting the desperately missing knowledge whose absence has been stifling it all these years.

So, not only did he essentially waste every penny of the Badnarik campaign's revenues, but he's promising a magic pill to cure all the Libertarian Party's ills if only you send him about half as much as the Badnarik campaign raised over fourteen months... by the end of December.

And that report, remember, is based on his expertise as a consultant.

And this went out to over 6500 past donors to Libertarian candidates- many of whom, contacted after the election, have said they'll never donate to the LP again after Badnarik's awful performance.

Mr. Allan Hacker, by making everyone who tries to run a serious, high-budget Libertarian candidacy look like a complete nutjob, this week's official Corn Flake!


Bruce Guthrie said...

The total amount of my loan to my campaign was just less than 1.2 million, not the 1.6 million you mention in the beginning of your article. Probably a typo. Also, it was a LOAN. I did not spend this money. Do I LOOK stupid? :)
My campaign spent a bit over $60K, and we ran TV and bus ads. You can watch my "Party Puppet" ads if you search on YouTube under "Bruce Guthrie Senate."

Kris Overstreet said...

Bruce, I didn't say you borrowed $1.6 million; I said you borrowed in order to bring your campaign funds UP to $1.6 million. I didn't say anything about how you spent it, either- I only referred to you as being an exception under extremely unusual circumstances.