Archive for November, 2008

Lessons Learned

My part is short. I am starting this topic here because I would like to see a thoroughgoing critique of all aspects of the ballot access initiatives of third party candidates. I am particularly concerned about the failures of the Barr campaign and the Libertarian Party to obtain 50 state ballot access.

It seems to me that libertarians knew going in what states were tough. And not enough was done. But I am not the expert. Paulie and his associates are.

There were failures not only in effect, but in practice. I think there was an ethical failure that Angela O’Dell didn’t get paid for her petition work in West Virginia by the Barr campaign.

There were a number of other failures in regard to petition gathering, ballot access project management, and I’d like to look at all of those failures.

Why? If we learn from the past, while it is fresh in our minds, we can plan better for the future. I’d like to see it.

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A few months ago, after once again trying and failing to help a family member understand my Libertarian point of view, I had the thought that if only there was a really short book, like 100 pages, on the practical basics, I could give it to the interested but skeptical, those who were open to the ideas but not likely to read a 400-page tome. I know there are a couple like this — David Bergland’s book springs to mind — but I decided to try my hand at writing one. I didn’t get very far, since I realized I had nothing new to say, and wasn’t saying the old stuff very well.

I’m a nonideological Libertarian. I’m a member of the LP because it is the established political party closest to my views. I like freedom, but I’m not annoyed by government roads and national parks. Still, the Libertarian book that has influenced me the most is Dr. Mary Ruwart’s “Healing Our World — essentially an anarchist text, but one that presents Libertarianism from a peaceful, humanistic perspective that I found original on first read and still find refreshing.

What are some of the Libertarian books that have influenced you the most? Which would you recommend to a newcomer or an inquirer? Which would you not recommend?

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From AZcentral.com, by Scott Wong

Maricopa County officials’ decision to exclude the Libertarian Party from participating in verifying ballots after the Nov. 4 election has undermined voters’ confidence in the electoral process, a party attorney told a Maricopa County Superior Court judge Thursday.

“There are quite a number of people including many Libertarians, who feel the process in Maricopa County in terms of counting the votes is not an honest process, that there is not sufficient transparency,” attorney Michael Kielsky said in court Thursday.

The county Libertarian Party is suing election officials over their decision to bar the party from hand counting ballots, a process used to ensure that electronic machines tabulate votes correctly. Representatives from the Democratic and Republican parties were allowed to physically inspect ballots.

But county Elections Director Karen Osborne said Libertarians were left out because they didn’t fill out paperwork correctly, failing to designate on forms the names of party participants.

Osborne added that while Libertarians were not able to help randomly select which precincts and races would be scrutinized or handle ballots, they were able to observe the hand counting process.

“Had the Libertarian Party provided people, we would have welcomed them,” Osborne told The Arizona Republic. “We know that we did a good job. We know that we did a proper job.”

The party is requesting that Judge Edward Burke invalidate the recent hand count and order that a new count be undertaken that includes Libertarians. Testimony was expected to continue Thursday afternoon.

State elections law requires ballots from 2 percent of county precincts in at least four contested races to be hand checked against computer tabulations.

Kielsky said the Libertarians’ exclusion from that process was part of a systemic breakdown in election security.

He pointed out that the hand count began before 10 county precincts had reported their results. Hand counting did not take place at the Elections Department’s video-monitored tabulating center, but instead at a county sheriff’s building. And bags containing ballots appeared to have been tampered with.

But Burke seemed disturbed by the allegations in the case, pointedly asking Kielsky: “You’re not saying the Maricopa County Elections Department cheated?” Not satisfied by Kielsky’s answer, the judge followed up: “Are you saying that (Maricopa County Recorder Helen) Purcell, Ms. Osborne and their employees were dishonest in conducting this hand count?”

Colleen Conner, an attorney for the county Elections Department, said the intent of the Libertarians was to disrupt the electoral process. She compared the legal challenge to a recent case where political parties pressured Pima County to adopt new policies requiring ballots and election data to be transported by vehicles due to security concerns.

“This certainly was an honest and very transparent hand count process,” Conner said.

Out of Maricopa County’s 1.7 million registered voters, 10,500 identify themselves as Libertarians.

By the way, I registered some of those self identified Libertarians, and left in March with the assurance that I would be welcome to return. However, Sean Haugh and/or other LP National employees (Kohlhaas, Kraus) have prevailed upon the Arizona LP not to hire petitioners/vote registrars that LPHQ does not green light, even though the AZ LP is using its own money, not national’s.

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OK, so this is a bit off-topic, but since Paulie graced me with the ability to post here, I figured I might as well use it to promote something good.  And it is good, and free, and once complete, will benefit our movement.  So perhaps it’s not that off-topic after all.

Anyway, George Donnelly and I have started a project to create a set of web-based tools for pro-liberty organizations, with a specific focus on LP state and local affiliates.  It should also be easily portable to the needs of organizations such as pro-liberty PACs, other pro-liberty parties, etc.  This will be based on some existing open source software projects, tie them together neatly (single sign-on via a unified authentication backend and use of the same AAA cookies), create a single frontend for installation and management, and add some additional tools targetted at our specific audience.

What we need specifically are volunteers who can write PHP code, XHTML/Javascript/AJAX/CSS, folks with extensive MySQL development experience, and possibly some additional Perl and Ruby experience.  PHP developers with user interface experience are probably the highest priority, followed by folks who can do front-end user interface coding.  Let me know if you’re interested. If you post here, I’ll reply via email.

You can check out the project over at http://developer.berlios.de/projects/lptools/


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There, I said it.  It wasn’t hard.  It didn’t hurt.

Now, I don’t smoke pot like some people I know smoke pot.  I smoke it once in a while, usually socially.  I enjoy it.  I enjoy partaking with friends.  I likely don’t need to state for everyone here the health facts about marijuana use: it’s safer than cigarettes, and the negative effects are vastly less than those of alcohol.  Alcohol and cigarettes contribute vastly more to bad health and other societal problems than does marijuana use.  I’m sure you already knew all of that, though. I’ve never assaulted anyone while high.  I’ve never robbed a bank, nor knocked off a liquor store because I got stoned.  Marijuana has not turned me into a perpetrator of crimes which infringe upon the rights of others.  It does help me relax, it does help me laugh, and the fact is that neither relaxing nor laughter are conducive to going out and infringing on the rights of others.

Let me get to the point, though.  When things become normalized out in the open, acceptance goes up.  It’s worked for achieving less discrimination for queer individuals.  It’s worked for a variety of other communities, causes, and activities, as well.  Once homosexuals started coming out, publicly, it became a whole lot more accepted very quickly.  There’s still room for improvement of course, but I digress.  This is about pot.  I’ve gone to all this trouble to announce that I smoke pot simply because I think it’s important to make it a normal, accepted part of American culture.  Once that happens, legalization will be a vastly easier task.

So I invite you all – regardless of how much or how often you smoke – join me in coming out of the closet.  Tell your family.  Tell your friends.  Post it in a comment here.  Whatever you do, lets make it so ordinary that people in this country smoke pot, that no one even thinks twice when they hear it.

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Next Free Voice

Since I’m trying to make this a group blog, I’ve decided to fuck around with the name of the blog to be less in the way of all about me. I’m hoping it gets some people to sign up to write here, or at least cross-post from their other blogs. Comment if you are interested.

Also, who all likes the name? Who doesn’t? Suggestions for a better one?

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