Bryant Replies to Article about Stanley

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com

Bryant Replies to Article about Stanley

Editor's note: David Bryant submitted a response to my article, "The Trouble with Rick Stanley" (http://www.freecolorado.com/2002/05/stanley.html). His article follows. Then, I respond to his comments. -- Ari Armstrong

From davidbryant@att.net Mon Jun 03 19:20:26 2002
Date: Mon, 03 Jun 2002 19:13:47 -0600
From: David Bryant
X-Accept-Language: en
To: Ari Armstrong
Subject: Your article "The Trouble with Rick Stanley"

Hi, Ari!

Say, I've just finished re-reading your critique of Rick's campaign style at the co-freedom.com web site.

I don't think it's very fairly presented. It's biased and slanted, and many of your "facts" are wrong.

I've penned a rebuttal, a copy of which is attached to this message.

Since you're interested in objective truth and open and honest debate, I'm certain you'll be happy to post the attachment on your web site soon.

Thanks! dcb

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.freecolorado.com

The Trouble with Ari Armstrong

by David Bryant, June 3, 2002

There was a time when I thought Ari Armstrong was an honest, open, and enthusiastic supporter of the Libertarian Party. I thought he would employ his energy and his curious, inquiring mind to promote the party and its candidates, and that the rocky road to electoral success would be a bit shorter and a lot smoother because of his good efforts.

Those days are behind me now.

During the course of this election year Ari has demonstrated a capacity for guile -- and even mendacity -- that I never would have suspected just twelve short months ago. His recent article, "The Trouble with Rick Stanley," is a case in point.

Ari takes justifiable pride in his journalistic skills. He writes well. He employs an impressive vocabulary. But skillful writing is not the be-all and end-all of good journalism. Objectivity, patience, attention to detail, and accuracy are equally important. Most of all, the journalist must check his facts, and present them clearly, without emotional color or bias. He must show the reader that he has done his homework. And when he expresses an opinion, he should present the facts antagonistic to his point of view as well as those which support it. In short, he should be a journalist -- and not a mere polemicist.

I think that every one of us can benefit from constructive criticism. These remarks are offered in that spirit. To be effective, criticism must be specific. So we ought to spend a minute thinking about the trouble with "The Trouble with Rick Stanley" before we think about the trouble with Ari Armstrong.

My own name figures prominently in Ari's article. I have been just as close to those events as he has been -- perhaps a little closer. I have my own biases and prejudices, just like everybody else does. To claim otherwise would be a lie.

Making allowances for all of that, I still see four areas where Ari's latest piece of character assassination steps way over the line.

  • Many of the facts Ari does present are not presented fairly.
  • He conveniently omits relevant facts that tend to contradict his opinion.
  • His analysis of the facts is incomplete. In particular, his numerical analyses are not analyses at all. They simply are not there.
  • Ari disregards the fundamentals of the electoral process. Because he rarely asks the right questions, he usually gets the wrong answers.

Let's consider Ari's journalistic missteps one by one.

Twisting the Facts

This transgression isn't easy to spot, because Ari's article is long on opinion and short on facts. Let's look at the two most prominent examples of how he twists the facts he does present.

Speaking of a story by Charlie Brennan that ran in the "Rocky Mountain News" on Saturday, May 2nd, Ari says, "The story focused on Stanley's call for Senator Wayne Allard to be hanged for treason." This sentence mischaracterizes what Rick Stanley actually said. Rick said that Wayne Allard should be indicted for treason, and hung when found guilty.

Ari would have you believe that Rick has set himself up as Allard's judge, jury, and executioner. Rick didn't call for a hanging; he called for an indictment. His position is that everyone deserves due process of law. An indictment implies a trial, not summary judgment.

Here's another example. In discussing the Million Gun March petition and the resulting flapdoodle, Ari says, "At first, Stanley was coy on the matter, but then he said he was not in fact calling for armed rebellion."

This is a gross misrepresentation of what actually happened.

When Ari Armstrong first read the MGM petition he reacted in anger and horror. He fired off e-mail messages in every direction claiming that Rick Stanley had issued a call for armed rebellion. He said that Rick Stanley had deserted the Libertarian Party by abandoning its principles, and he pressured party chair John Berntson to issue some sort of public statement saying that the Libertarian Party does not support Rick Stanley (who was then the only contender in sight, but not yet the party's nominee).

And how did Rick react? He was anything but "coy." Paraphrased, Rick said, "I've posted the petition on my web site. I've issued a press release. You can read the petition and the press release. Here's the URL. Don't ask me to explain it to you. Go read it yourself, and form your own opinion."

Now any calm, rational individual who does read those documents (at
http://www.stanley2002.org/mgmpetition.htm and at
http://www.stanley2002.org/release3_27_02.htm, respectively)

will see that Ari's initial reaction to the petition was emotional, and not rational. The petition does not call for armed rebellion. It says the people have a right to revolt against tyrannical government. It says the people have a right to petition the government for redress of grievances. It says the people have a right to keep and bear arms. In sort it reiterates the statements made in the Declaration of Independence and in the Bill of Rights.

Ari would have you believe that Rick Stanley called for an armed rebellion, but then changed his mind after due consideration. That's a patent falsehood. And Ari presents this lie as if it were a fact. That's inexcusable. The fact is, Rick stuck resolutely to his original position while Ari ran around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Sins of Omission

There are so many of these I hardly know where to begin, so I'll begin at the beginning -- of Ari's article, that is. He says, "I was an early supporter of Rick Stanley in his plans to run for U.S. Senate. He was an energetic and photogenic guy with populist appeal."

This statement is almost true as far as it goes. Ari was not an early supporter. He didn't really do anything to "support" Rick's campaign until September, 2001. During the first three months of Rick's effort Ari was conspicuously absent because he was absorbed in the abortive Bob Glass campaign.

Regardless, Ari did in fact offer some support to Rick's campaign last year. He distributed Rick's flyers, and he encouraged others to do so. What he neglects to mention, though, are the many ways in which he opposed Rick covertly while presenting a public image of support. He did not approve of Rick's stance on Social Security, for instance. This led to an extended shouting match in Rick's office one evening, and added fuel to an ugly whispering campaign in Libertarian circles. He never liked Rick's idea for a citizens' Constitutional Court, and refused to write anything about it in the "Colorado Liberty." So Rick bought paid advertising in that publication to get his message out.

In defending his claim to have once been a "Stanley supporter" Ari says, "I wrote two lengthy articles about his act of civil disobedience ... and his two subsequent arrests." But Ari was acting as a paid independent consultant to the Libertarian Party of Colorado when he wrote those articles, a fact he conveniently fails to mention. Since the Bill of Rights rally qualified as news, the fact that Ari wrote a story about it is not evidence of support at all. He was just doing his job. Once again he omits an essential fact.

Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics

Ari's antipathy toward Rick and his campaign strategy is nowhere more evident than in what passes for analysis of the Million Gun March petition. He says, "There is simply no way Stanley is going to find a million people willing to sign his petition." A bit farther along he says, "Let us make the absurd assumption that Stanley could find a million people ..."

Examined closely, one sees that the "analysis" here put forward is no more than an outright emotional appeal -- the kind of appeal Ari condemns when others use the same technique. Can you spell double standard, Ari? Since when do "simply no way" and "absurd" pass muster as calm, unemotional, and logically rigorous analysis?

Ari hasn't done the math, so I'll do it for him. As of Sunday, June 2, 2002, exactly 406 people have signed the MGM petition. The target is one million signatures by May 15, 2003. There are 346 days left to go. A little simple root extraction reveals that the number of signers must grow at the rate of 2.28% per day if the goal is to be reached on time. Since the total is currently growing at a rate of 4 or 5% daily (i.e., 15 to 20 new signers every day) it appears not only that the goal is attainable, but that the MGM petition may accumulate more than twice the targeted number of signatures in plenty of time.

Here's another example of faulty mathematical analysis. In discussing the fact that Rick's name is showing up in publicly available polling data compiled by the Allard and Strickland campaigns -- a fact without parallel in the entire history of the Libertarian Party of Colorado -- Ari makes multiple misrepresentations:

"Bryant has trumped [sic] the fact that Stanley showed up in a poll. It turns out the margin of error in that poll was 4%. A single poll result within the margin of error means little."

You can see the data for yourself at http://www.stanley2002.org/pollsum5_02.htm

In fact, there are four polls that show Rick obtaining 3% to 4% support, not one. Ari would have you believe that a "single" poll result is a fluke. He goes farther by suggesting that the result is meaningless because it's on the order of the "margin of error." And here he demonstrates his utter statistical incompetence. As a professional actuary, I have a more than passing acquaintance with the niceties of statistical technique. I'm a statistician. I know what the often quoted but poorly understood “margin of error” is really all about.

What the "margin of error" really means is that roughly 625 people were surveyed in this particular poll, because the square root of 625 is 25, and 25 divided by 625 is .04, or 4% (cf Multinomial Probability Distribution). Rick got 4% support, so some 25 people said they'd vote for him. The square root of 25 is 5, so classical (i.e., Gaussian) statistical theory indicates that the "true" number of Rick voters out of this sample lies between 20 and 30, with 68% confidence. In other words, the "true" level of support for Rick in this particular study (one of four we know about, and not just a "single poll"!) lies between 3% and 5%, roughly. That may not impress you, Ari. But when one considers that Carla Howell is showing up at 1% in contemporaneous polling data, and that her campaign has spent $800,000 versus Rick's $10,000, the true magnitude of Rick's achievement begins to appear. Far from being an insignificant blip on the radar screen, Rick's consistent strength in early polling data is probably throwing consternation into the Allard and Strickland camps. In fact, they have not released any of their own internal polling data in almost a month. Don't you wonder why?

Political Reality

Twisting the facts, omitting relevant detail, and substituting emotional outbursts for logic would be bad enough. But Ari goes farther. He places his picture of Rick's imaginary flaws inside a frame that excludes the most important consideration in every electoral campaign: To win, a candidate must draw more votes than his opponents do. And the overwhelming majority of voters do not base their decision on logic or rational analysis. They vote for a name they recognize. And they recognize the names to which they've formed a strong emotional attachment.

It's almost as if Ari were proclaiming a startling new discovery. "Look! When I write about somebody I don't like, I can pretend to use logic to arrive at my own conclusions -- conclusions that are actually rooted in emotion. Isn't it reasonable to assume that nobody else thinks like I do? They don't twist facts, or omit them, and they always think calmly and rationally before they pull that lever in the voting booth. They are cold, calculating machines; and the only way to earn their support is by running an entirely bloodless campaign."

By refusing to acknowledge his own shortcomings as a journalist, Ari has committed the greatest journalistic faux pas of all. His analysis of the Stanley campaign is not only based on faulty premises; it is also cast in a totally inadequate conceptual framework. But don't just take my word for it. Let's look at Ari's own words again, to see exactly what I mean.

He almost gets it right when he says, "Some long-time libertarians ... flat-out loathe the man." This illustrates an important fact: that Rick Stanley evokes a powerful emotional response in many people. Sadly, Ari takes this fact and proceeds to run with it -- but in the wrong direction.

In dismissing the all-important factor of name recognition, Ari says, "... somehow I doubt most people will appreciate Stanley's comment about the hanging ..." Well, you may doubt it, Ari. But that doesn't mean you've considered how the "Allard is a traitor" theme is likely to play out between now and November. You're confusing the reactions of your Republican buddies with the reactions among the members of Rick's target audience, many of whom are already convinced that Wayne Allard is a traitor, a sneak, and a thief, and that the government is their worst enemy.

Here's another example. While discussing the MGM petition Armstrong says, "My sense is that most voters don't respond to being called cowards." Really? Have you called anyone a coward lately, Ari? Did your verbal sally elicit a response? In fact, most people react very strongly to the word "coward." It is one of the most emotionally loaded words in the English language. What planet have you been living on, where people don't even respond when you call them cowards?

Here's another one. Discussing the income tax and the federal reserve, Ari asserts "Nor is it true that we are 'enslaved with a tyranny, such as the world has never seen.'"

You're missing the point, Ari. The point of Rick's assertion about being enslaved is not to win a debating contest. The point is to win an election. The everyday Americans who pay income tax, and social security tax, and real estate tax, and gasoline tax, and sales tax -- and who end up holding the bag after the government has devoured all the candy -- have most definitely been enslaved. And they feel that way. And if enough of them get the idea that Rick Stanley knows about their plight, and cares about it, and will actually do something about it, they will turn out in droves and Stanley will win in a landslide.

Political campaigns are all about emotion and name recognition. Truth -- in an academic sense -- has very little to do with it. People create their own political truth out of their deepest emotions. And when you're writing political commentary, Ari, you'd best keep that in mind.

The Trouble with Ari Armstrong

Now that we've seen what's wrong with Ari's article "The Trouble with Rick Stanley," it's time to reconsider the question we started with: What's the trouble with Ari Armstrong? Going beyond the four journalistic errors outlined above, and speaking as his friend, I think I can fairly draw a few conclusions.

Ari has a lot of good points. I can't stress that strongly enough. But he's still young, and inexperienced. Sometimes hubris overtakes him. I'm certainly not immune to that human failing, and neither is anybody else.

Ari is an ardent individualist who rejects the notions of collectivism. He is wise to do so. And yet, in my view, there is some wisdom in consensus. In the right circumstances, group discussions can lead to better decisions than any member of the group would make if left to his own devices. Ari's irritation with the result in Leadville reflects this basic tension. He knows he can't achieve the political goal of America Unchained all by himself. But he chafes under the harness imposed on him by the party. He still wants to have his cake, and eat it, too.

Ari also exhibits a crude form of naturalism in his thinking about other human beings. He has not yet developed the keen insight of veteran political observers who can differentiate between a candidate's genuine feelings and the invective hurled at the opposition. And so he overestimates his own analytical powers while simultaneously misinterpreting both the candidate and the campaign he intends to analyze.

Many have suggested that Ari Armstrong is a loose cannon who harms his own cause because he cannot distinguish his friends from his enemies. They're missing the point.

Ari's real problem is naivete. He hasn't yet learned that you don't send a boy to do a man's job, and you don't take a knife to a gunfight.


David Bryant Only Proves My Point

by Ari Armstrong

June 4, 2002

I will go through David's comments to show why my original article was on-target. David's quotes are indented.

There was a time when I thought Ari Armstrong was an honest, open, and enthusiastic supporter of the Libertarian Party. I thought he would employ his energy and his curious, inquiring mind to promote the party and its candidates...

I remain a supporter of the Libertarian Party. Fundamentally, however, I support libertarianism. The LP is only a part of the libertarian movement. It is not an end in itself. It is a means toward the end of greater human liberty. I owe blind loyalty to no person or organization. However, I've done a lot to promote the LP, and I will continue to do so when I believe that's the best way I can promote libertarian goals.

During the course of this election year Ari has demonstrated a capacity for guile -- and even mendacity -- that I never would have suspected just twelve short months ago.

I don't think that's true of me, though I do think it's true of David. However, that's totally beside the point. Am I correct or incorrect? That's what's at issue.

I think that every one of us can benefit from constructive criticism... I still see four areas where Ari's latest piece of character assassination steps way over the line.

According to David, his article is "constructive criticism," whereas mine is "character assassination." I'll take his article as constructive criticism, though I wish he'd make an effort to take my remarks the same way.

Many of the facts Ari does present are not presented fairly. He conveniently omits relevant facts that tend to contradict his opinion. His analysis of the facts is incomplete.

I disagree with all of David's above assertions, and I believe the details to follow will show him to be off the mark.

Speaking of a story by Charlie Brennan that ran in the "Rocky Mountain News" on Saturday, May 2nd, Ari says, "The story focused on Stanley's call for Senator Wayne Allard to be hanged for treason." This sentence mischaracterizes what Rick Stanley actually said. Rick said that Wayne Allard should be indicted for treason, and hung when found guilty. Ari would have you believe that Rick has set himself up as Allard's judge, jury, and executioner. Rick didn't call for a hanging; he called for an indictment. His position is that everyone deserves due process of law. An indictment implies a trial, not summary judgment.

David's criticism is wholly unwarranted. Yes, Stanley wants a trial *before* Allard is hanged. But the relevant point for my article is that Stanley said Allard should be hanged. Article III, Section 3 states: "No person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court." In the U.S., the very notion of "treason" is bound up with provisions ensuring due process. I had no reason to suspect that readers would ignore this context.

Yes, we should strive to include the relevant facts in all of our arguments. However, we necessarily assume a vast amount of common knowledge. If we did not, every article we wrote would run on practically for ever. Nothing in my original article would warrant the interpretation David concocts.

Here's another example. In discussing the Million Gun March petition and the resulting flapdoodle, Ari says, "At first, Stanley was coy on the matter, but then he said he was not in fact calling for armed rebellion." This is a gross misrepresentation of what actually happened. When Ari Armstrong first read the MGM petition he reacted in anger and horror. He fired off e-mail messages in every direction claiming that Rick Stanley had issued a call for armed rebellion. He said that Rick Stanley had deserted the Libertarian Party by abandoning its principles, and he pressured party chair John Berntson to issue some sort of public statement saying that the Libertarian Party does not support Rick Stanley (who was then the only contender in sight, but not yet the party's nominee). And how did Rick react? He was anything but "coy." Paraphrased, Rick said, "I've posted the petition on my web site. I've issued a press release. You can read the petition and the press release. Here's the URL. Don't ask me to explain it to you. Go read it yourself, and form your own opinion." ...Ari's initial reaction to the petition was emotional, and not rational. The petition does not call for armed rebellion... Ari would have you believe that Rick Stanley called for an armed rebellion, but then changed his mind after due consideration. That's a patent falsehood.

True, I was both angry and horrified that Stanley would issue such an irresponsible statement. My initial reaction to the petition was both emotional and rational. Stanley's petition is ambiguous. One reasonable interpretation is that it calls for armed rebellion if the government doesn't meet the conditions of Stanley's petition. The petition is irresponsible precisely because it allows such an interpretation. Let's review, again, the language of Stanley's "Million Gun March Petition."

***"[N]ecessary to every value of a civilized society is... the Right to meet government's abridgment of Justice with force of arms... [W]e mutually pledge to each other... to peaceable assemble under arms on July 4th, 2003... at or near the District of Columbia... Failure by the government to comply with the petition by July 4, 2003, may result in the activation of the '2nd American Revolution Militia', from the individual citizens of the 'Million Gun March', to insure that the current U.S. government will comply with the boundaries outlines in the Constitution... Should this action become a necessity... we appeal to the United States Military and the various police agencies in attendance... to join with your Constitutional brethren to insure the compliance of YOUR government."***

It's completely reasonable to interpret this language as a call for armed rebellion, if the government fails to meet Stanley's demands. Stanley refers to "force of arms" and an assembly "under arms." According to common language, "militia" is a citizen army. Stanley calls for the "activation" of a "militia" taken from a group that is meeting "under arms." Further, Stanley calls for the military and police to join the "militia" to "insure compliance" of the government. How else could the military and police help Stanley "insure compliance" with respect to his petition, if not by using their own arms toward that end?

Yes, Stanley was initially "coy" with respect to the petition. As David himself paraphrases, Stanley's attitude was, "Don't ask me to explain it to you." According to my Random House, "coy" means "artfully or affectedly shy or reserved." Stanley himself told me the language was intentionally ambiguous so that government officials would think about its meaning. Only later did Stanley definitively tell me that he was not calling for armed rebellion.

The only way to interpret Stanley's petition as a call for totally peaceful action is to assume he only wants the guns present to be carried as an act of civil disobedience, and never employed by those in a "militia." We must assume Stanley is using the term "militia" in a figurative sense to refer only to a peaceful political organization. We must assume Stanley wants the military and police to join him in peaceful political action to implement the policies specified in the petition.

No responsible candidate would leave so much open to assumption on such an important matter. Earlier I said, "[W]e should strive to include the relevant facts in all of our arguments. However, we necessarily assume a vast amount of common knowledge." In this case, the common understanding of a "militia" is an armed citizen army. Stanley's petition is clearly ambiguous, and one reasonable interpretation is that he is calling for armed rebellion, if the government fails to meet his demands. He should not have allowed such ambiguity. Failing that, he should have immediately issued a clarification rather than taken the approach, "Don't ask me to explain it to you."

David claims I "fired off e-mail messages in every direction" and "pressured party chair John Berntson to issue some sort of public statement saying that the Libertarian Party does not support Rick Stanley." I sent off e-mail messages to a few individuals. I also suggested that the state LP board issue a public statement. My only regret is that I did not criticize Stanley's petition more.

[Ari] says, "I was an early supporter of Rick Stanley in his plans to run for U.S. Senate. [I thought he] was an energetic and photogenic guy with populist appeal." ...Ari was not an early supporter.

Yes, I was. Before Stanley even announced his candidacy, I enthusiastically spoke with several LP activists about his potential campaign. David claims I "didn't really do anything" for Stanley's campaign, and it's true I devoted little time to it. But how much effort I devoted to his campaign is not relevant to my point. My point was that I initially thought Stanley would be a good candidate, and then he did a number of things to make me think he might be a poor candidate.

Regardless, Ari did in fact offer some support to Rick's campaign last year. He distributed Rick's flyers, and he encouraged others to do so. What he neglects to mention, though, are the many ways in which he opposed Rick covertly while presenting a public image of support. He did not approve of Rick's stance on Social Security, for instance.

David writes as if we must either unconditionally endorse everything a candidate does, or else totally oppose the candidate. Of course, this is false. For instance, just during the past few days I have sent David a number of suggestions for press releases that Stanley might issue. I called David on the phone and gave him a quote by Wayne Allard for use by the Stanley campaign.

David fails to mention that I agreed to work on a new proposal for Social Security, for use by the Stanley campaign, and that I in fact sent David the text of that proposal.

This led to an extended shouting match in Rick's office one evening, and added fuel to an ugly whispering campaign in Libertarian circles.

David seems to object to the fact that a candidate for U.S. Senate just might be discussed among those in his party. Believe me -- I wasn't "whispering" when discussing Stanley; I was usually speaking quite loudly. If Stanley doesn't want to be publicly criticized or discussed in Libertarian circles, then he shouldn't have run for U.S. Senate. It comes with the territory.

He never liked Rick's idea for a citizens' Constitutional Court, and refused to write anything about it in the "Colorado Liberty."

True enough. It was an ill-conceived idea, and one I haven't heard Stanley mention in some months.

In defending his claim to have once been a "Stanley supporter" Ari says, "I wrote two lengthy articles about his act of civil disobedience ... and his two subsequent arrests." But Ari was acting as a paid independent consultant to the Libertarian Party of Colorado when he wrote those articles, a fact he conveniently fails to mention. Since the Bill of Rights rally qualified as news, the fact that Ari wrote a story about it is not evidence of support at all. He was just doing his job. Once again he omits an essential fact.

David's addition is not an "essential fact," it is totally irrelevant. Nothing in my job description required me to attend or write about any specific event. I chose to attend those events, and I chose to write about them. I didn't have to do so. I didn't have to risk arrest by arguing with the police who arrested Stanley. I didn't have to photograph the event, develop the pictures on my own dime, or send those pictures to the Stanley campaign for its use. I didn't have to sit through Stanley's subsequent trial. But I did. I don't have to write about his trial, but I'm going to.

[Ari] says, "There is simply no way Stanley is going to find a million people willing to sign his petition." A bit farther along he says, "Let us make the absurd assumption that Stanley could find a million people ..." Examined closely, one sees that the "analysis" here put forward is no more than an outright emotional appeal -- the kind of appeal Ari condemns when others use the same technique. Can you spell double standard, Ari?

It's not an emotional appeal, it is simply an abundantly obvious point. The NRA has around three million members. You'd have to get a full third of the NRA's membership to attend. And, as Stanley has pointed out, the NRA doesn't support his project.

The target is one million signatures by May 15, 2003. There are 346 days left to go. A little simple root extraction reveals that the number of signers must grow at the rate of 2.28% per day if the goal is to be reached on time. Since the total is currently growing at a rate of 4 or 5% daily (i.e., 15 to 20 new signers every day) it appears not only that the goal is attainable, but that the MGM petition may accumulate more than twice the targeted number of signatures in plenty of time.

I've heard similar claims in the context of chain letters and Ponzi schemes. There is simply no way the growth rate will remain constant, and it certainly will not mushroom the way David describes.

In fact, there are four polls that show Rick obtaining 3% to 4% support, not one.

Not according to the web page listed (http://www.stanley2002.org/pollsum5_02.htm). There is exactly one poll that lists a result for Stanley. According to the web page, the March 25, 2002 Orvetti Report listed the results of a Garin-Hart-Yang Poll (Paid for by Strickland). The results were as follows.

Sen. Wayne Allard (R) 43%
Tom Strickland (D) 37%
Rick Stanley (L) 4%

I even called Orvetti by telephone to verify these results.

Apparently, David wants to assume that different poll results for "other" and "other candidate" imply support for Stanley. There's no reason to believe that's true.

Incidentally, Stanley's web page claims, "It's likely that Rick's support would be showing up in the 12% to 15% range if these polls were conducted honestly." There's absolutely no justification for this claim.

Ari would have you believe that a "single" poll result is a fluke.

False. I merely suggested it *could* be a fluke. It could be, right, David?

He goes farther by suggesting that the result is meaningless because it's on the order of the "margin of error." And here he demonstrates his utter statistical incompetence. As a professional actuary, I have a more than passing acquaintance with the niceties of statistical technique. I'm a statistician. I know what the often quoted but poorly understood “margin of error” is really all about. What the "margin of error" really means is that roughly 625 people were surveyed in this particular poll, because the square root of 625 is 25, and 25 divided by 625 is .04, or 4% (cf Multinomial Probability Distribution). Rick got 4% support, so some 25 people said they'd vote for him. The square root of 25 is 5, so classical (i.e., Gaussian) statistical theory indicates that the "true" number of Rick voters out of this sample lies between 20 and 30, with 68% confidence. In other words, the "true" level of support for Rick in this particular study (one of four we know about, and not just a "single poll"!) lies between 3% and 5%, roughly. That may not impress you, Ari. But when one considers that Carla Howell is showing up at 1% in contemporaneous polling data, and that her campaign has spent $800,000 versus Rick's $10,000, the true magnitude of Rick's achievement begins to appear. Far from being an insignificant blip on the radar screen, Rick's consistent strength in early polling data is probably throwing consternation into the Allard and Strickland camps. In fact, they have not released any of their own internal polling data in almost a month. Don't you wonder why?

I readily admit that David's abilities in mathematics are vastly superior to my own. However, I did study economics in college, so I did go through the standard statistics classes. (I even earned the highest grade in the class, though I've forgotten much of the material since then because I don't generally work with it.) I was fully aware as I wrote the article that the margin of error would become less meaningful at the bottom end of the poll. I didn't discuss the matter just because it's irrelevant. A result of 25 people in a poll doesn't tell us much, as I said previously. If we saw Stanley pull 4% more than once, then it would tell us quite a bit. Until we see that, I'll remain skeptical. However, I did suggest that the result of 4% is plausible. I wrote, "But even assuming the 4% result reflects genuine support, does this portend a Ventura-style surge? Not if Stanley alienates voters faster than he attracts them."

Twisting the facts, omitting relevant detail, and substituting emotional outbursts for logic would be bad enough.

But David has not demonstrated I've done any of these things.

He places his picture of Rick's imaginary flaws inside a frame that excludes the most important consideration in every electoral campaign: To win, a candidate must draw more votes than his opponents do.

Most of my article explains why I think some of Stanley's tactics will prevent him from winning. Of course, he could always attempt to improve his campaign.

They vote for a name they recognize. And they recognize the names to which they've formed a strong emotional attachment.

But if people associate only bad things with a specific name, they're not likely to vote for that name.

"They are cold, calculating machines; and the only way to earn their support is by running an entirely bloodless campaign."

On the contrary; I've done quite a lot of reading about voter ignorance and irrationality. The Fall 1998 edition of *Critical Review* is titled, "Public Ignorance," and it contains such articles as "Public Ignorance and Democratic Theory" and "Voter Ignorance and Democracy." In fact, I attended a conference hosted by the editor of that journal, Jeffrey Friedman. I am criticizing Stanley in part because I think many of his positions will alienate the voting public rather than attract it.

[Ari] almost gets it right when he says, "Some long-time libertarians ... flat-out loathe the man." This illustrates an important fact: that Rick Stanley evokes a powerful emotional response in many people.

I don't think people who loathe Stanley are likely to vote for him. Also, I have seen little evidence that Stanley has managed to evoke "a powerful emotional response in many people," relative to the total number of voters.

Why do so many politicians resort to negative advertising? It's because a negative feeling about a candidate tends to hurt that candidate.

But that doesn't mean you've considered how the "Allard is a traitor" theme is likely to play out between now and November. You're confusing the reactions of your Republican buddies with the reactions among the members of Rick's target audience, many of whom are already convinced that Wayne Allard is a traitor, a sneak, and a thief, and that the government is their worst enemy.

Most of the negative reactions I've heard have come from Libertarians, the people in Stanley's own party. David is simply making the stuff up about "Republican buddies."

I have seen no evidence that Stanley's message is resonating with a significant portion of the voting population. Nor have I seen evidence that Stanley is getting currently unregistered citizens to register to vote. Ventura did it, but he was a wrestling star. His name recognition was enormously greater than Stanley's is.

I stand by my previous statement: "My sense is that the media attention Stanley is getting will attract some votes for him and at the same time set a fairly low ceiling for his total."

Also, Bryant writes as if Stanley presented the Allard quote only after carefully considering how it would "play out" throughout the election cycle. I'm not convinced that's how Stanley actually proceeded.

While discussing the MGM petition Armstrong says, "My sense is that most voters don't respond to being called cowards." Really? Have you called anyone a coward lately, Ari? Did your verbal sally elicit a response? In fact, most people react very strongly to the word "coward."

Of course the word elicits a reaction. But it's a negative reaction, not one that will cause a person to vote for Stanley. I'll expand my statement: "Most voters don't respond to being called cowards by voting for the person who called them cowards."

Here's another one. Discussing the income tax and the federal reserve, Ari asserts "Nor is it true that we are 'enslaved with a tyranny, such as the world has never seen.'" You're missing the point, Ari. The point of Rick's assertion about being enslaved is not to win a debating contest. The point is to win an election. The everyday Americans who pay income tax, and social security tax, and real estate tax, and gasoline tax, and sales tax -- and who end up holding the bag after the government has devoured all the candy -- have most definitely been enslaved. And they feel that way. And if enough of them get the idea that Rick Stanley knows about their plight, and cares about it, and will actually do something about it, they will turn out in droves and Stanley will win in a landslide.

Hopefully David's prediction will come true despite Stanley's obvious exaggerations. But I don't think everyday Americans believe their plight is worse than that of the victims of Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia. I think when Stanley asserts we are "enslaved with a tyranny, such as the world has never seen," most people will think his statement is foolish.

Of course, it can be difficult to get an accurate read of popular sentiment. I'm pitting my best guess against David's best guess. We'd need more detailed empirical evidence to reach a more solid conclusion.

[Armstrong's] still young, and inexperienced. Sometimes hubris overtakes him. I'm certainly not immune to that human failing, and neither is anybody else.

I suppose it's debatable whether the age of 30 is "young." But it hardly matters. What matters is, am I correct or incorrect? David would have a hard time sustaining the case that I'm "inexperienced" with respect to libertarian politics. I've written hundreds of articles about libertarian ideas. I've read countless books and essays about libertarianism and attended numerous libertarian conferences. I've also worked on numerous libertarian causes. I worked for Families Against Mandatory Minimums in D.C., where my work was published in *The Washington Post*. I worked on the "No On Amendment 22" campaign, which helped build opposition to the initiative from 15% to 30% and lay the groundwork for future gains. I worked on the asset forfeiture reform bill, which was signed into law this past Friday.

Stanley, on the other hand, is totally inexperienced when it comes to politics. David has argued that his experience as a supply shop salesman makes him a good political candidate. I'm skeptical. First, discussions about nuts and bolts aren't as likely to offend people. Second, an ability to sell one product doesn't necessarily translate into an ability to sell another product. Third, a successful businessman need only attract a tiny percentage of the population, whereas a successful politician must attract at least 34% of the voting population (in a three-way race). The only way Stanley can make up for his political inexperience is to get sound advice. Stanley has refused most advice, and I'm not convinced the advice he accepts from David is entirely sound.

[Ari] knows he can't achieve the political goal of America Unchained all by himself. But he chafes under the harness imposed on him by the party. He still wants to have his cake, and eat it, too.

There is no "harness" imposed on me by the LP. I coordinate with other members of the LP in such ways as the parties deem best to further their goals. And the LP is not the entire scope of the libertarian movement. I'm not sure what "cake" David suggests is being eaten. Is it the Libertarian Party? I am not somehow hurting the LP by criticizing Stanley's missteps and encouraging him to change some of his tactics. I am helping it.

Ari also exhibits a crude form of naturalism in his thinking about other human beings. He has not yet developed the keen insight of veteran political observers who can differentiate between a candidate's genuine feelings and the invective hurled at the opposition. And so he overestimates his own analytical powers while simultaneously misinterpreting both the candidate and the campaign he intends to analyze.

Whether or not Stanley was expressing his "genuine feelings" is irrelevant to the issue of whether his tactics will work. Most of my argments criticized the effectiveness of Stanley's tactics. That said, I do believe candidates should tell the truth. That is, their political rhetoric should express their "genuine feelings."

Ari's real problem is naivete.

It's naive to believe Stanley can get a million people to attend his "Million Gun March." It's naive to for Stanley's web page to claim "Rick's support would be showing up in the 12% to 15% range if these polls were conducted honestly." It's naive to believe Stanley can earn a large number of votes by calling people cowards and saying Allard should be (tried first and then) hanged for treason.

He hasn't yet learned that you don't send a boy to do a man's job, and you don't take a knife to a gunfight.

I take it that David is claiming Stanley is doing the "man's job" at the "gunfight." However, Stanley isn't in a gunfight. He's running for U.S. Senate. And that requires an entirely different set of tools.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com