Archive for May 30th, 2011

Tornado Alley

Tornadoes.  Twisters.  Somewhere over the rainbow and all that.

Living in Denver, I’m at the far western edge of the tornado zone, but on the way back to Omaha, I got to drive right through the western half of Tornado Alley.  It didn’t disappoint.

It was windy, but mostly sunny, at least where I was, and no rain to speak of.  But the wind gusts were moving the Jeep around, which certainly helped my concentration.

I had picked up the NPR station a few miles into Nebraska, and with good reason, the network manager decided that Terri Gross’s interview of Keith Richards would have to fall short of satisfaction, and Performance Today would pretty much have to be Performance Another Time.  It sounded like War of the Worlds, with the network breaking in every 5 minutes or so with new warnings (not watches, mind you, warnings), and the expiry of old ones.

Some of these areas touched I-80, but they all ended before I got to the affected mile markers, so I just kept driving.  Until right about Mile 255 or so.  There was still sun behind me, but I don’t think I had ever seen clouds that black in front of me.  Ever.  Every quarter-mile or so, when you thought it couldn’t get any darker, darker indeed it did get.

And then, as I came upon Exit 263 (Odessa, for those of you keeping score at home), the all-business and imperturbable NPR lady came on to announce that there was a new warning.  Miles 259-290 on I-80.  Ninety mile-per-hour winds.  A TORNADO HAS TOUCHED DOWN SO GET THE HELL OFF OF THE ROAD, YOU IDIOT!

Thanks goodness for Sapp Bros.  Ah, friendly Sapp Bros., with a parking lot big enough for all the refugees who had heard the same warning, a warm cup of coffee, and wifi.  Ah, and a TV tuned to the Don’t Die , We’re Here to Tell You Where the Tornadoes Are, Channel.  We love you, Sapp Bros.

And so now, with all the warnings having expired, and the weather ready to turn in for the night, it’s back on the road.


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Contempt of Constituents

Looking at the events of the last couple of weeks, it’s difficult to escape the conclusion that certain public officials in Colorado hold their constituents in contempt for the sin of not handing over their pocketbooks.

Legislative Democrats, with the cooperation of too many Republicans, have gone along with efforts to water down the state’s initiative process.  And now, for refusing to go along with these plans, the people having spoken, must be punished.

In 2008, they turned down Referendum O, which would have allowed opponents of ballot measures to focus their efforts on any one Congressional district.  And they turned down Amendment 59, which would have lined the teachers unions’ pension plans by gutting TABOR.

This session, the Democrats failed to pass out of the Senate SCR-001, which would have created a hybrid Constitutional amendment-recision process that was clearly too complex for its stated goals.

Now, they have resorted to suing their own constituents in federal court, claiming that the Colorado Constitution is unconstitutional.  The legal precedent here is clear.  The courts have long held that the US Constitutional requirement for a “republican form of government” is non-justiciable, meaning that it’s a matter for the legislature and the people to decide.  The most recent case, in 1912, upheld a state’s citizen initiative process against the very claim they seek to revive.

Remember, for “progressives,” it’s always Three Minutes to Wilson.

This effort is really a matter of politics, not of litigation, and that the plaintiffs are seeking a platform at taxpayers’ expense to make their case against TABOR.

(Let’s be clear: this is a Democrat initiative, and shame to the few officeholding Republicans who’ve given them cover to call it “bipartisan.”  The big names are representatives of the “former” variety, and of the total list of 12, only 6 hold elected office, at the school board or city council level, most of which are nominally non-partisan.)

We’ve also heard that back in 2009-2010, the Colorado Springs City Manager at the time, Penny Culbreth-Graft, had instructed the city’s PR office to intentionally undermine its image, in the national media if need be, to browbeat the citizenry into voting for higher taxes.  I’m sure the folks tasked with luring tourists, students, and businesses to the area were thrilled with this.

So think about this: in the last two weeks, we’ve seen public officials sue their citizens, and undermine the name of their own city.  Why on earth should these people be trusted with more of our money?

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