Shaffer Rips LPCO Critics
[For more material about Mark Brophy's Libertarian nomination for the Colorado legislature, along with commentary about the Liberatrian Party of Colorado, please see Mark Brophy Updates.]
[Editor's note: Bo Shaffer distributed an e-mail titled, "Ari, Lloyd and Ralph......RIP," on June 4, 2004. Following his comments, Ari Armstrong replies. Ralph Shnelvar replies in a separate piece. Readers are encouraged the read the replies as a corrective to Shaffer's numerous errors of fact.]
Bo Shaffer, June 4
I'm making a very brief response to three articles (from FreeColorado, 6/3/04 [by Ari Armstrong, Lloyd Sweeny, and Ralph Shnelvar]) at once. Although it may seem a bit personal, the philosophies and motives of those involved are paramount. More substantial discourse is available on a one to one basis......you have my number.
Three articles from three people who might as well be dead for all the use they are to the LP.
First, Mr. Armstrong.....
Ever since being fired from his *paid* position for the LP, Ari has been the LPCO's harshest critic.
This position was filled by a volunteer at first, who was overwhelmed at the new job, but performed admirably. However, Ari insisted he be paid a substantial amount, or he wouldn't do it, even though it was an order of magnitude easier for him to do the job.
Then he goes and writes about the Convention happenings....and he wasn't even there!
Never bothered to vote.....
Never bothered to make any comments during a time when he could be answered.....No, he goes and writes in his little private forum and makes all sorts of outlandish statements.
Like not wanting another Stanley......after Ari supported Rick so strongly.
(In fact, Ari got all over my case as County Chair, when I made a decision not to support Rick Stanley at the LPBC's outreach booth in 2002.....but now he's singing another tune.)
Ari takes every little thing he can and twists it to make his point. Berating Mark Brophy for statements made on a confusing and multiple double negative questionnaire......and pulling his comments out of context. This is responsible journalism?
Was Ari there at the Convention when Mark Brophy spoke? Was Ari at the Banquet with Mark Brophy and his wife talking to them and finding out they are very nice people and very nice Libertarians? No....he takes sides with known Libertarian bashers (RMGO) and trashes everybody in the LPCO and other libertarians who are actually out there working on making a difference, just because they are not "perfect libertarians."
So, Ari would rather make everybody think like *he* does, rather than allow some free thinking Libertarian to possibly get elected. (And printing someone else's praise for your story does not justify it.....even though you think it does) Yes, Ari, you might as well be dead, for all the help you are to the Libertarian Party.
And then there's Lloyd Sweeny...... Now, there's a useful member. By his own admission, he refuses to financially support his Party in their time of need....for years! A Candidate that has his own personal views on one part of the Libertarian Philosophy doesn't think exactly like him....and now, Lloyd will no longer support *any* candidate. that's pretty useful, too..... And, of course, to him, there are NO Libertarians left....... So, what are the rest of us.....chopped liver? No, Lloyd......YOU died as far as the Party was concerned YEARS ago.... Those of us that *do* care, are still in there.....trying to make a difference and make this world a MORE Libertarian place to live and raise our children.... It doesn't have to be *perfect*...... (A pretty subjective thing, anyway.....) So, for you, it's my way or the highway, eh? Dead and gone......long ago.
Last, and least......Ralph. Another dead weight body...... Never at meetings..... Never volunteering for anything but his *own* agenda items. Not at the Convention, where he *could* have had his voice heard and engaged in meaningful dialogue..... No, he also selects the power of the written word, without the ability to be refuted, too. If Ralph *would* have been at the Convention, where all the Libertarians who cared enough to come, engaged in meaningful and up to the minute repartee......he would have heard that the general consensus was that the line holder was useful two years ago to get the Libertarian name out in front of people on the ballot.....no matter what the Candidate. But now that Libertarians *are* taken seriously and make it in the news media all the time (due pretty much to the Candidate blitz of 2002)....Now we need Candidates with substance and desire. Notice we have less than half of the Candidates we ran two years ago....Why? Lack of qualified candidates. So, Ralph's whole rant is on something that the Party has changed....something he would have known if he would have been around at all. And he also talked about how ineffective the Party was....and how he and Ari work so hard to build it up. Please! Blasting the Party at every opportunity and never being there to do the work in the trenches....... This is helping? Dead and useless.....
So, IMHO, these three libertarians should look long and hard at the reasons for the failure of the LP to progress..... It's mostly due to people not doing their part to help the Party......like each of them. Quick with the pointing of fingers.....but curiously lacking on any commitment, whatsoever. Whether you agree or disagree......the Party is still the Official organ of the Libertarians. If you work within the Party to make it what you think it should be.......you have every right to speak up and criticize. If you abandon the Party and then complain that no one is doing it your way......you might as well be dead. There are still a few of us who welcome free thinking and value people for their *whole* philosophical outlook. Not nitpicking and finding fault in every little word and nuance. So, to the three of you, I say.....
If you ever want to shed your Zombie shroud and become one of the Living, get off the fence.... feel free to pitch right in and help make a difference.
I don't mind working with people having a little different viewpoint than me...... Otherwise......R.I.P.
(my couplet runneth over....;-)
Ari Armstrong, June 9
Bo Shaffer claims to discuss "the philosophies and motives of those involved." Unfortunately, he does not address philosophy at all. Instead, he discusses only motives, which he claims are "paramount." Of course they are not. As anyone with even a passing familiarity with logic understands, a person's motives are completely irrelevant to the strength of the case being made. Even if one accepted all of Shaffer's personal criticisms of Ralph, Lloyd, and me, one would still have to consider the criticisms against Brophy's nomination -- along with other problems within the Libertarian Party of Colorado -- on their own merits.
But Shaffer does not consider those criticisms. He instead ignores them, and pretends that by attacking the messengers he can get away with it. Yet, as the documented evidence demonstrates conclusively, Mark Brophy, now a Libertarian candidate for the Colorado legislature, expressed support for anti-freedom gun laws, in direct contradiction to the core values and principles of the Libertarian Party and the libertarian movement. (Brophy recently issued a new statement about his positions on gun policy.) Shaffer ignores this issue, along with my subsequent criticisms of the positions of some LPCO leaders. Shaffer similarly ignores the distinct issues raised by Ralph and Lloyd. (Ralph, Lloyd, and I have each expressed a different perspective, and our views ought not be conflated, though obviously we make some of the same criticisms.)
Shaffer blames "the failure of the LP to progress" on "people not doing their part to help the Party." But why should libertarians support the Libertarian Party of Colorado when the leaders of that party directly undermine libertarian values? It's obvious the LPCO is losing support precisely because and to the degree that it is losing its principles. The blame for the LPCO's current problems is with Norm Olsen, Bo Shaffer, and other LPCO "leaders" who have set aside libertarian principles.
That said, Shaffer presents a false alternative. He seems to suppose that a member of the LPCO either must support the present board, the nomination of non-libertarian candidates, etc., or completely leave the LPCO. Some have decided to take one path or the other, but the third path is to support individual Libertarian candidates who also happen to be libertarians (such as John Berntson) and participate in other activities outside the direct control of the present "leaders."
Shaffer also gets his historical facts almost completely wrong. His distortions about me are so numerous and so egregious that they raise serious questions about his ability to competently represent the Libertarian Party of Colorado at any level, much less as the head of a major county affiliate.
Shaffer claims, "Ever since being fired from his *paid* position for the LP, Ari has been the LPCO's harshest critic." The implication seems to be that I consistently supported the board's decisions when I was paid by the LPCO to produce the newsletter, then, as soon as I was "fired," I regularly began to criticize the board. Shaffer's suggestion is completely false.
As I have explained, my departure from the newsletter position followed several board members' hostility to my reasoned criticism of an expenditure of party funds by the board. My newsletters have widely been regarded as among the best ever produced for the Libertarian Party of Colorado.
Note that I was critical of the board before I was "fired," as well as after. Since then, I have also written positively of Joe Johnson's local victory. I have written positively about Travis Nicks's campaign for Arapahoe County Clerk. I -- unique among all Colorado media -- have republished press releases from the Libertarian Party of Colorado. I have also published essays by others supportive of the Libertarian Party of Colorado.
Shaffer claims, "This position was filled by a volunteer at first, who was overwhelmed at the new job, but performed admirably. However, Ari insisted he be paid a substantial amount, or he wouldn't do it, even though it was an order of magnitude easier for him to do the job."
Paul Tiger produced the "Second Quarter" 2003 edition of Colorado Liberty -- which was mediocre at best -- then I produced the next two. Tiger stepped aside because he realized just how time-consuming a task producing a quality newsletter is. And Steve Gallant, Publications Director, hired me, with funds approved by the board, to produce the newsletter. I produced the next two editions, prior to the "bus bench ad" controversy. Deb Hamm produced the last edition, distributed earlier this year, at the same rate of pay. Originally, Gallant offered me $800 per issue to produce the newsletter. I made a counter-offer to do it for $400 -- hardly a "substantial amount" given the time required to do the job.
Shaffer writes as if I somehow have an obligation to work for free for the LPCO board. I have no such obligation. If the board can find a volunteer to produce the newsletter, great. However, it's an enormous chore -- especially to do it right.
In fact, from March, 2000, through May, 2001, I worked part-time-plus for the LPCO, for free, to produce 12 editions of the newsletter. In effect, I donated many thousands of dollars worth of my time to the party -- to my own personal financial hardship. After that, I simply could not afford to work for the party for free -- nor did I have any desire to do so. Nor does Shaffer have any right to ask me to do so.
Next, Shaffer points out I did not attend the convention. However, I did conduct interviews with others who attended. I also relied upon written comments by Mark Brophy and others. Since Shaffer raises the point, one important reason I did not attend is that the business meetings were spread out over two days, creating a serious hardship for members who wanted only to attend the business meetings.
Notably, Shaffer does not attempt to point out even a single, specific error in my reports. Instead, he attacks me rather than addressing the substantive problems with Brophy's nomination. It is not my fault that the LPCO nominated problematic candidates -- it is the fault of those who endorsed them and voted for them.
Shaffer claims that I "[n]ever bothered to make any comments during a time when he could be answered.....No, he goes and writes in his little private forum and makes all sorts of outlandish statements."
Shaffer's claim here is false -- and he knows it. The articles of the Colorado Freedom Report are available to anyone on the internet. In addition, I send out an e-mail alert with links to the articles, and Shaffer is on that list, as are others who attended the convention. In fact, Dudley Brown announced the results of Brophy's survey on April 15, 2004, more than a month before the convention. Olsen, the state chair, read Brown's critique, as is obvious by Olsen's reply. Then, more than a week before the convention, I released follow-up commentary about Brophy's positions on gun laws. The information was available -- but Shaffer, Olsen, and others simply chose to ignore it.
Shaffer claims that "Ari supported Rick [Stanley] so strongly." However, I was Stanley's most vocal critic, as everyone familiar with the race knows.
Similarly, Shaffer's claim that "Ari got all over my case as County Chair, when I made a decision not to support Rick Stanley at the LPBC's outreach booth in 2002," is false. While I was vaguely aware of some disagreement about that, I never got in the middle of the dispute. (I was, however, mildly critical of Shaffer's complaint about Stanley's peaceful carry of a gun.)
So Shaffer distorts the truth about me, then he has the gall to claim (without evidence) that I "twist" the facts.
Shaffer suggests that Brophy had difficulty answering a "confusing" survey. Horsefeathers. To his credit, Brophy did back off from his initial support for the so-called "assault-weapons" ban, as I have recognized. However, Brophy affirmed his support for Brady registrations at gun shows. I have not taken any of Brophy's comments out of context, as Shaffer alleges, but have instead given Brophy every opportunity to clarify his views.
Shaffer says Brophy is "very nice." Well, I'm sure he is. But so what? The purpose of the Libertarian Party is not to run "very nice" candidates. I know plenty of socialists who fit that bill. Instead, the purpose of the LP is to run libertarian candidates. If they're "very nice," that's, well, nice, but it certainly isn't sufficient.
Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners has indeed often criticized Libertarians -- just as he has often criticized Republicans and Democrats. So what? That's not relevant. I have not trashed "everybody in the LPCO;" I have thoughtfully criticized those who deserved to be criticized, even as I've praised those who deserved to be praised.
Finally, in attributing to me an advocacy of nominating only "perfect libertarians," Shaffer is attacking a straw man. I've never claimed the appropriate standard is perfection. I have, instead, claimed that the appropriate standard for Libertarian candidates is that they be libertarians. Those self-proclaimed Libertarians who reject that standard are, in fact, damaging the Libertarian Party of Colorado.