Commentary From the Mile High City

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Joshua Sharf

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May 10, 2009

The Illusion of Voting Integrity

In the Cowboy trick, an individual from the crowd is given a video camera; Penn says he's going to make a tiny plastic cow disappear from his hand, and he asks the audience member to film the vanish as the feed is projected onto a large screen for the rest of the room. While the mark focuses on Penn's flamboyant hand gestures--and the impertinently nonvanishing cow--Teller rearranges the entire stage in plain view. The audience cracks up; even when the poor sap looks up from the viewfinder, he fails to notice that anything is different.

"The idea for this trick came straight from science," Teller says. "We thought it would be fun to show people how bad they are at noticing stuff." Called change blindness, the phenomenon is illustrated in a video (on YouTube) that inspired the duo. Shot in 2007 by British psychologist Richard Wiseman, it ostensibly documents a simple card trick--the backs of the cards in a deck are magically transformed from blue to red. But during the course of the video, Wiseman's shirt, his assistant's shirt, the tablecloth, and the backdrop all change color, too. Most viewers watch the card trick unspool and miss the other alterations. Attention, it turns out, is like a spotlight. When it's focused on something, we become oblivious to even obvious changes outside its narrow beam. What magicians do, essentially, is misdirect--pivot that spotlight toward the wrong place at the right time.

-- Wired Magazine

Penn and Teller are latecomers to this game.  In the case of preserving the integrity of the voting system, the Democrats got there long before them.  While they keep you focused on all-paper voting, the butterfly ballot, or whether or not this or that Diebold! Diebold! Diebold! system has a paper receipt, they're busily changing the rest of the set.

Merely in terms of basic voting integrity, the Democrats in this legislative session killed bills that would have assured that voters were Colorado residents, that they were citizens, and that they actually were who they claimed to be. 

In the meantime, there was also a bill introduced that would have doled out driver's licenses to non-citizens.

The two big parts to voter security are making sure that 1) the voter has the right to vote in that jurisdiction, and 2) the voter is who he says he is.  The Democrats continue to make it virtually impossible to validate either parts of that equation.

When Secretary of State (Democrat) Bernie Buescher threatened to take people whose latest voting precinct was the cemetery off the rolls, the ACLU, Common Cause, and every other lefty group screamed loud enough to wake those voters.  And there's now a move at the federal to prevent independent organizations from comparing voting records to other public records for validation - the very records that are supposedly good enough for an individual to use as identification at the polls.

Democrats will respond that there's never been a large-scale prosecution of voter fraud.  Well, if you treated accounting the way they treat voter records, there'd never be any prosecutions for money-laundering, either.

The next step is to allow voters to register online.  Of course, every other week we read about Chinese hackers breaking into the electrical grid or stealing the plans for our new fighter jets before they've been finished.  And then, there's the fact that government files are the single biggest source for identity fraud.

So see?  While you're focused on whether or not the ATM you trust your savings with is good enough to count your votes, they're re-doing the entire set.  You don't want to know what it's going to look like when they're done.

May 7, 2009

Conservatism's Not a Dirty Word

At least according to the Denver Women's Republican Club. This Saturday, at the University of Denver's Sturm Hall, they're holding a free forum on the future of conservatism and the Republican party - the two aren't identical - with a free continental breakfast.

It features some terrific speakers: Karen Kataline, Ben DeGrow, Ryan Frazier, Mark Hillman, and others.

See the whole flyer, with directions, the full program, contact information, and further reassurance about the free food.

They've worked very hard to put this together, and it should be well worth the time.

April 30, 2009

The State Backs Loans

Apparently jealous of the Federal government's ability to distort credit markets, the Colorado legislature has decided to get in on the act.  SB-051, which Gov. Ritter signed into law, would extend loans to banks, who would then turn around and loan the money to homeowners and businesses to install solar equipment.  The idea is to smooth out the cash flows, eliminating the up-front cost of the system, up to $12,500.

For the homeowner, and especially for the business-owner, for whom the interest and depreciation are deductible, this is a good deal.

For the government and the taxpayer, not so much.  There's no fiscal note attached, which means that, in theory, there's no cost to the government.  This can't possibly be true, otherwise there would be an obvious arbitrage opportunity for the state.  The state can obviously issue debt for lower interest than the banks will lend it out at.  The state could do that, split the difference on the interest with the banks.

Why not do this?  Because of default risk.  You know, people not being able to pay the debt.  Which under the terms of the bill will almost always result in subordinated liens against the property, with the taxpayer coming out on the short end of the foreclosure proceedings.

Now, where have we heard this story before?

April 8, 2009

The Denver Post on HSAs and Single-Payer

Guess which one gets a better review?

As the Colorado House of Representative took us further down the road to socialized health care earlier this week, Douglas County School are considering moving to a Health Savings Account plan for their employees. Needless to say, the Denver Post finds this objectionable:

Douglas County School District soon may join a growing number of employers pushing workers to manage their own medical spending with health savings accounts, eliminating copays for drugs and doctor visits.

The transition is frightening for many who see it as a reinvention of health insurance as they've always known it.


The plan would work nicely for about 85 percent of employees, who are predicted not to spend more than the $1,000 put into their accounts by the district.

But for the other 15 percent, the change could mean a few extra thousand dollars a year spent on health care.

By the twenty-second paragraph, we find out that the system would actually include all that preventative care that single-payer advocates talk about:

A major component of the new health plan, up for a teachers-union vote at the end of the month, is a push to get employees to eat healthier and exercise more.

The plan comes with free preventive care, meaning no charge for mammograms, well-baby checkups and vaccines. Also, the district wants to reward employees for getting healthier - holding contests akin to "The Biggest Loser" reality TV show.

In-between is a real-life, specific case of financial hardship that the plan might cause.

And then, almost at the end of the article, comes what could well be the most appealing aspect of the plan for middle-class employees:

Health savings accounts are the fastest-growing trend in health care, said Andrew Sykes, chairman of Health at Work, a Chicago company hired by Douglas County to coordinate the possible conversion. The accounts have a triple tax benefit - the money goes in pre-tax, grows without tax and can be taken out without tax penalty to spend on health care.

In fact, the money can eventually be rolled over into a regular IRA, without the health-care-spending stipulation. And the tax implications for that real-life case aren't even discussed.

Compare this with the promise-heavy description of single-payer earlier this week:

During the extended debate on the bill, Democrats argued passionately for a government-backed system covering all Coloradans to replace a current system they said is inefficient and full of holes.

"I think it is our responsibility that every single Coloradan, regardless of their wealth or position in society, get the health care they need," said Rep. Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village. "It is our obligation."

"This system we have right now," said Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, "is completely and fundamentally broken, and there's no amount of patching it up that we can do to provide universal coverage."

Democrats said a single-payer system would save money overall by streamlining the health-care machinery and taking advantage of economies of scale.

Eventually, we get to the Republican response, but the political trumps are saved for the last paragraph:

Last month, the head of the state Department of Health Care Policy and Financing told lawmakers that Ritter is against the bill, noting that Ritter's health-care commission studied a single-payer system and rejected the idea.

There are no numbers given, no estimates of what such a system will cost or what care compromises will inevitably have to be made, no examples of people who would lose treatment because it wasn't deemed cost-effective by the state, only vague Republican accusations of rationing and expense.

In the meantime, a system that the Post admits will work for 85% of employees, that is intended to control costs by having individual rather than bureaucracies make choices, that provides a serious tax shelter for the young and healthy - exactly when we want people to be putting away money for retirement, is described as scary.

Apparently, for the Denver Post, free stuff is an easier sell that freedom.

April 2, 2009

Like They Can Just Print the Money

I'm beginning to think that having put the State Capitol near the Mint was a mistake. I think the Democrats are beginning to think that they can just print their way out of whatever burdens they put on the state.

We found out last month that the Colorado Unemployment Insurance Fund was safe, despite climbing unemployment numbers:

Reforms instituted a generation ago appear poised to keep the system solvent even as other states see their unemployment programs go broke. And work is under way to improve the department's Web site this spring, which should make it more user-friendly and ease the strain on the phone system.


In the 1980s, state lawmakers set out to protect the state's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund -- it is used to pay benefits to people who lose their jobs -- after watching it go broke in a recession.

The result was an additional tax, dubbed a "solvency surcharge," that was designed to kick in whenever the trust fund's balance fell below 0.9 percent of the wages paid in the state. The calculation is made each year on June 30, and in 2004, after three years of recession, the tax kicked in.

The result: Colorado's unemployment trust fund grew to $672 million last fall, just as the latest recession was taking hold. That allayed fears that Colorado could again find its unemployment fund out of money.


"It would take a deep recession that went on for several years before we would go insolvent," [Mike Cullen, Colorado's director of unemployment insurance] said.

His assertion is backed up by various scenarios that have been considered, including a moderate or even severe recession, said Alex Hall, the department's chief economist.

"Certainly with all the information we have available at this time, and what we feel are reasonable scenarios, including scenarios that take us into a pretty deep recession, we feel that the surcharge is providing that stability and revenue for the unemployment insurance trust fund, and that solvency will not be an issue for us," Hall said.

Well, not so fast there, cowboy.

In a state budget outlook delivered week, the Colorado Legislative Council Staff predicted the fund balance "will fall precariously close to insolvency" to just $44 million by June 30, 2010, down from nearly $700 million on June 30 last year.

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment expects a healthier fund at $187 million on June 30, 2010, but still has concerns, said Mike Rose, chief of statistical programs for the department.

"We also consider it possible that the fund might be marginally solvent at periods in 2010 and 2011," he said Wednesday.

Unemployment insurance payouts are expected to total $834.1 million in the current fiscal year that ends June 30 and stay at that level for another year, according to the council forecast.

In the midst of this, the legislature seems poised to pass HB 1170, which would entitle employees who are locked out - that is, they have jobs but are involved in a labor dispute - to receive unemployment benefits.

Here's a chart showing the monthly balance of the Colorado Unemployment Insurance Fund, along with a 12-month moving average of employer contributions and benefits paid out:

The reason I've smoothed out these payments and contributions is that employer contributions are extremely seasonal. They generally see a large jump in May, when the surcharge is assessed. They also tend to have almost no contribution during the last month of each quarter, while the first month of each quarter is the highest.

So, the payouts are still rising, and have just passed the contributions. For the first time since the recovery from the last recession, we've seen an actual drop in the fund's balance. Even if all those conveniently-times stories about how we're hitting bottom are correct, unemployment is a trailing indicator. Since contributions are based on the current aggregate salaries paid, that means that contributions will fall even as unemployment rises. This dynamic refills the coffers during the latter part of recoveries and prosperity, but drains them towards the middle and end of recessions.

Then, there's this:

A state Senate committee took up a bill Wednesday that would make Colorado eligible for $127 million in federal stimulus money for the fund by expanding the definition of who can qualify for jobless benefits. It would cost the state an estimated $14.6 million in the fiscal year that begins July 1 to make the changes, largely to pay benefits for newly eligible residents.

So we'll pick up a net $100 million this year, at the cost of no future returns and nobody-bothers-to-ask how much more in perpetual commitments down the line.

The only way out is to float debt. If we end up having to do this during an inflationary period, it'll mean higher rates and even more trouble down the line.

Unemployment insurance is well-established by now. But I can't help wondering if it wouldn't be better to give it to the employees up front rather than paying to the government for what passes for their traditional definition of, "safekeeping"

March 15, 2009

More Constitutional Objections to HB1299

It turns out there's another potential Constitutional objection to the proposal to turn our electoral votes over to other states - vagueness. There's only a minimal definition of what the term "national popular vote" means, and even less of what criteria are used to determine it.

By turning Colorado's electoral votes over to California and New York, Lois Court has also voted to turn them over to processes not in control of Colorado voters. Neither state has any signification controls against voter fraud. There are no uniform standards, indeed, no real standards at all, to make sure that Colorado's votes aren't diluted by lax procedures in other states, thus the definition of "national popular vote" becomes, I believe, intolerably vague.

Inevitably, this is going to result in a call for a national election authority, fully nationalizing even state and local election laws. In the absence of such an authority, our only recourse would be to sue other states who we felt were guilty of vote fraud. Dangerously, the reverse is also true. If other states decide that our processes are too restrictive, they likely could also sue on that basis, forcing looser, less reliable standards on Colorado.

The bill also states that:

This article shall govern the appointment of Presidential Electors in each member state in any year in which this agreement is, on July 20, in effect in states cumulatively possessing a majority of the electoral votes.

Meaning that the bill could change the rules after the presidential nominating process is complete. If there are a number of states waiting to ratify, then that year's presidential nominating contests will be held without knowing the rules of the general election.

If Bush v. Gore meant anything, it meant that you can't change the rules in the middle of the game. Why do I suspect that it's that, more than anything else, that galls the sponsors of this bill?

March 13, 2009

Interstate Compacts...and Your Vote

Many pixels have been spilt, by Slaptick, Ross, and Amy Oliver (whose job I still want), about the end-run around the Constitution that is HB1299.

I won't bother to repeat their efforts to defend the Electoral College.

What strikes me is the irony of using the Electoral College and the Constitution to undermine them. HB1299 provides that the bill won't take effect until states with a combined Electoral College vote of 270 - enough to elect a President - approve it. The eleven largest states could decide that they want to change how a President is elected, without input from the other states. (In practice, Georgia and Texas, are unlikely to go along with this scheme, so the number of states needed would rise to 14 under current electoral count. Upcoming reapportionment might change it down to 13.) This reverses the Constitutional formula for amending the Constitution, with barely 1/4 of the states able to change things on their own.

When I pointed this out to the last political hack to try this stunt, Ken Gordon, on the air a couple of years ago, he retorted that this was only true because of the Electoral College itself, as those same states could elect a President. Of course, electing a President, who serves for four years, is a far less critical task than changing the Constitution, which changes will likely be with us forever.

The whole maneuver may not even be Constitutional. Article I, Section 10 reads, in part:

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, ... enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

There are numerous interstate compacts, dealing with law enforcement, sexual predators, water rights, and other topics. The Supreme Court has ruled that the State needn't get Congressional approval unless the compact would impinge on Federal jurisdiction, which is why it's located in Article I, legislative powers.

However, the Court also ruled that term limits were an additional requirement for office, and that since Congressmen were Federal officers, the states had no power to impose those eligibility requirements. I wonder if one could make a similar argument about electors. I also wonder if a state has the right to apportion its own electors as it chooses, but cannot sign away that right of selection to other states.

All the arguments about this being an urban power grab are true. What's also true is that it's an unholy mess, which because its effects take place catastrophically, rather than as the states adopt it, is likely to sneak up on us and be settled in court, where so many of our issues are decided, rather than in the legislatures, where the ought to be.

March 12, 2009

What Does Lois Court Have Against Small Business?

Lois Court (D - Economic Cluenessness) joined all four Boulder Democrats in the State House yesterday in voting against Declaring March 9 - 13 Small Business Week. (By the way, Randy, Rep. Fischer from up there in Larimer County also dissed the bill. Raise an extra glass to the Maya Cove's owners next week, will ya?)

This is the sort of pro-forma measure that usually sail through by a combined 100-0, and if anyone pauses to comment, it's usually to sing the praises of whatever group is being honored.

Admittedly, there was a dig in there about the estate tax, but people die in Boulder and east Denver just like everywhere else. Stating that an estate tax can be a powerful disincentive is just stating an economic fact. It's like voting against a resolution honoring the astronauts because there's a clause in there stating that solid rocket fuel is dangerous and should be handled with care.

Maybe they didn't like the line about small business having a harder time getting credit, because it reminds people of all the money we're borrowing.

Maybe this is like voting against a Children's Day, because every day is Children's Day, and under the Dems, they want every business to be a small one.

I really have no idea. There are 59 Democrats up on Capitol Hill, and 48 of 'em were able to make their peace with this non-binding sense-of-the-legislature that wealth comes from entrepreneurial brains, rather than legislative luncheons.

February 22, 2009

How to Amend the Constitution Without Really Trying

What part of "Constitutional Amendment" do the Democrats have a problem with?

Now, they're floating a proposal for an end-run around TABOR using fees and cash funds as a Trojan Horse. You have to put together the various pieces, but there's a point where a piecemeal attack on TABOR turns into a successful nullification.

Warning: Extended Geekery Below

TABOR, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, requires tax increases, or any change in tax policy that would result in a tax increase, to be approved by the voters. But fees can be increased ad infinitum, and according to a recent Supreme Court ruling, can be increased without limit, by the legislature, and the money taken in needn't be spent in any relation to the service on which the fee is levied. This means that money taken in by a vehicle registration fee, for instance, can be used for any purpsoe whatsoever.

Now when TABOR - a Constitutional Amendment - was passed, it stated that any pre-existing spending limits would be made permanent. Byrd-Arvescoug, passed in the late 80s, limited the general fund spending, discretionary spending, to a 6% per year increase. (This was passed as an attempt to head off TABOR, which limits overall spending increases to inflation + population increase, but TABOR passed anyway.)

There are also separate cash funds, supposed to be used for specific purposes, and funded by fees levied on government services and registrations. However, the legislature recently began raiding those funds - supposedly temporarily - to make up the general fund shortfall.

Now, Democrats in the legislature - along with the help of one Republican - are floating the novel legal theory that Byrd-Arvescoug isn't a spending limit, but an, "allocation strategy." This means they'd be able to pass a bill - without going to the people - to increase general fund spending by whatever they want.

And they'd fund that spending by taking the money out of cash funds, and raising fees until people screamed for a "more fair" allocation of the burden.

It seems that even in a recession, the least important thing the government wants to spend money on is more important that the most important thing you'll spend money on.

Progressively More Intrusive. Progressively More Restrictive. Progressively More Expensive.

February 12, 2009

Legislative Watch

It's a big couple of weeks coming up for the State House of Representatives, with some very good bills, and some very bad bills coming up for consideration in committee.

Here, then, are the six bills that caught my eye, along with their committee assignments, and when they're scheduled for hearing, and what room, in case you want to listen online to what your elected reps have to say:

The Good:

1256 - Interstate Purchase of Health Care

2/18 PM Session Room 112 (Business Affairs & Labor)

This bill would set up a structure for permitting Colorado residents to buy health insurance from out-of-state insurers. Sponsored by Cinsy Acree, it's the kind of free-market, trust-people-to-make-their-own-decisions legislation we should all be looking for. If for that reason alone, we can be sure it'll fail on a party-line vote. But it's good to get the Dems on record as believing that Coloradoans are dumber than other citizens when it comes to making insurance decisions.

1258 - Limit Extraterritorial Municipal Condemnation

2/19 AM Session Room 112 (State, Veterans, & Military Affairs)

Finally. After last year's grease fire of a State Supreme Court decision permitting the extra-territorial condemnation of property, the legislature is set to take up a bill putting a straight-jacket on this kind of behavior. Sure, it's one thing when Telluride goes after a developer out in the middle of nowhere, but sooner or later Jefferson and Adams Counties are going to getting into a spitting match over this kind of thing, and someone's going to get hurt.

1264 - Higher Ed Costs for State Inmates

2/16 PM Session Room 112 (Education)

At least, I think it's a good bill. Basically, it would keep prison from becoming a scholarship program for higher ed here in the state. I'm not certain how many inmates are studying Kierkegaard in the slammer (prison sentences must be lived forward, but understood backward), but this seems like a good idea. Just make sure that when the Dems inevitably call for shutting down prisons because they're not reforming inmates, you remind them whose fault that is.

The Bad:

1226 - No-Fault Insurance (Personal Injury Protection)

2/18 AM Session Room 112 (Business Affairs & Labor)

Wow. We're continually being told that we're in the worst economy since the Great Depression. We're about to see Congress pass a spending bill that'll make things even worse. And Anne McGihon wants to return Colorado to the bad old days of high-priced insurance and even higher rates of uninsured drivers. Can't anybody here play this game?

1267 - Higher Ed Pervasively Sectarian

2/23 PM Session Room 112 (Education)

The current law on money going to students revolves around what kind of institution they're attending. So if you're going to a "pervasively secular" institution, but studying for the seminary, you can still get help with interpreters, books, seeing-eye dogs, that kind of thing. This is apparently too much for some folks to bear, so they want to restrict state aid based on what you're studying. Just remember that this one came from the legislature, not from the courts.

1273 - Single-Payer Health Care

2/25 AM Session Room OSC (Business Affairs & Labor)

This is the Big One. It sets up a commission to start working out the details of health care rationing right here in River City. If you don't like your health plan choices now, you may have to change jobs. If you don't like your health care choices in a few years, you may have to leave the state.

January 31, 2009

Dennis Spindle for Bonus Member

Party organization is a weird thing. We have precinct committeepeople, who used to be called precinct captains, but the name was changed in accordance with the Syllable Maximization Act of 2004. We have District Captains, but there's District 6 for organizational purposes within the county, and District 6 which is used to nominate candidates for the house. There's the Executive Committee, which is different from the Central Committee, and the national Committeepeople, who just elected Michael Steele RNC Chair.

Then, we have something called "Bonus Members." Basically, these are members allocated to a county based on its turnout for the party, and their main role is to vote for state officers. This year, Denver got extra bonus members for three disricts, 1, 6, and 9. Dennis Spindle is running for one of these slots, and he's earned it. He's served in party office, and run for office himself.

Now, he's spent an ungodly amount of time setting up district maps for all 107 legislative districts in the state: 65 State House, 35 State Senate, and 7 Congressional districts. For the moment, only Districts 3, 6, and 9 are up, but more are to follow. Sooner than later, he'll be adding the precinct information as well. It's unbelievable that this hasn't been available before now.

I've spoken with Dennis, and frankly, he's more committed than most would-be Bonus Babies to working for the party after the state elections. If we're looking for people to reward and encourage, we could do a lot worse than to start with him.

January 29, 2009

Blog Talk Radio

Tuesday night we chatted with Jan Tyler, who blogs on election integrity at her own site, and at Jan had something to say not only about her own work, but also about the trend towards paper ballots and the risks inherent therein. We also touched on the Democrats' blocking of registration and voter reform here in Colorado.

Our second guest was State Senator Greg Brophy, Assistant Minority Leader and scourge of coyotes everywhere. We talked about his efforts to forestall the hammer coming down on Colorado's energy industries, and proposed protections against eminent domain abuse. We also asked him, as we ask all Republicans who come on the show, what three core principles should the Republican party place front-and -center?

Listen here, or subscribe on iTunes.

Join us next week as we talk to Daveed Gartenstein-Ross of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies about the upcoming elections in Iraq, and where we stand in the fight against Islamist Supremacy.

In the second half, we talk with reporter Mike Saccone of the Grand Junction Sentinel about the Western Slope, the state legislature, and the state of newspapers not named "Rocky."

Listen live at Blog Talk Radio

January 22, 2009

Freedom of Movement

Colorado Democrats are getting ready to spend more money we don't have on a proposal to study ways of extracting more from you. And to watch where you're driving, to boot.

Nestled in the details of a major transportation proposal this year is an idea that could revolutionize how Colorado pays for its road and bridge projects.

The proposal, from statehouse Democrats, calls for pilot projects to study whether the state should do away with its gas tax and adopt a system in which drivers are charged based on how many miles they drive.

"What policymakers are looking at is a sustainable revenue source that they can count on," said Jim Whitty, an Oregon Department of Transportation official who has become a guru of mileage-based fees.

Glenn Reynolds has already made the privacy and efficiency arguments against this idea.

But I particularly like this part:

Whitty said one of the chief benefits of a mileage-based system is its malleability. It can be customized to charge people more for driving at rush hour or less for driving in rural areas. It can tax Hummers at a higher rate than Priuses.

Which means that the real goal here isn't the money, or even taxing in proportion to road wear and tear, it's more government-as-behavior-modification. The reason they're being "forced" to such extreme measures is that high gas prices have pushed people into conserving. In other words, they're already doing what the gas taxes are designed to make them do. So the obvious answer is to find substitutes.

In the future, people will eventually catch onto this game and just keep doing whatever it is they want to do in the first place, as not doing so isn't going to save them any money, anyway.

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Badges!

On a straight party-line vote, the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee, just voted down a bill that would have required a photo ID for voting in Colorado.

The arguments opposed were presented by the usual suspects, arguing an undue burden on those who might not be able to obtain a photo id. The fact is, this problem affects a vanishingly small portion of the population, in large part because of the wide variety of supplemental documents that can be used to obtain a driver's license or a state ID.

In part because of the forgone nature of the vote, the Republicans on the committee did a fairly poor job of going after the opponents of the bill, with the exception of Kent Lambert, who had the legal arguments well in hand. He forced the ACLU into the ridiculous position that Crawford - which permitted photo IDs for voting in Indiana - was a "completely different circumstance" because that was a law being challenged, while this was a similar law being proposed. They would claim that we need to wait until elections are actually stolen - preferably electing legislators ill-disposed to voter ID - before we enact legislation to prevent it. In fact, as Lambert pointed out, the Court made it quite clear that there was no undue burden, and the ACLU in Indiana had used similar "solution in search of a problem" arguments.

A pro-immigrants group made the claim that rural immigrants would have to travel long distances to get their IDs. Nobody asked how many immigrants would be in this position.

Lois Court asked why, if the documents being excised were good enough to get a photo ID, they weren't good enough to vote with. Rep. Summers, the bill's sponsor, essentially conceded the point, arguing for "simplification." Fine enough, but the fact is that utility bills aren't IDs at all, while others would be well beyond the ability of an election judge, with a line out the door, to judge the authenticity of.

The arguments in favor were presented by several county Clerks and Recorders, focusing on their responsibility to ensure clean elections and the validity of the franchise. Court, again, made the point that these Clerks were representing themselves, not the Clerks' association, which has not taken a position on the bill. Using that logic, it should have been fairly easy to dig up a few to oppose the bill, something the Democrats couldn't be bothered with.

In fact, requiring a photo ID would be the first step towards dealing with emergency registration abuse, and would make a powerful argument against the growing vote-by-mail movement, literally a written invitation to vote fraud.

To paraphrase Mark Steyn on another subject, with them, it's always the wrong ID in the wrong state for the wrong election.

"Core Functions of Government"

Yesterday, Senator Moe Keller, who has been working with the Department of Revenue in dealing with Colorado's $600 million budget shortfall for this year, actually said that they were being "forced to examine the core functions of government."

Nonsense. So far, nothing has been considered non-core enough to be cut to zero. In fact, as she pointed out later on in her testimony, 17 or 18 departments receive under 2% of their overall funding from discretionary spending, so cutting their money from the general fund entirely wouldn't barely affect their operations. Clearly, those departments are not subject to this committee's appraisal of the "functions of government."

On the other hand, this kind of rhetoric coming from a Democrat is a gift to Republicans, who ought to be talking this way.

January 7, 2009

Back Into the Fray

I am announcing my candidacy for a Vice Chairmanship of the Denver County Republican Party. The party plans to alter its by-;aws to create up to three co-equal Vice Chairmanships, with the intent of increasing participation.

I am eager to be a part of rebuilding our party in Denvr and across the state. What follows is part agenda and part platform, developed in consultation with current Vice Chairman Ryan Call. Ryan is running for the chairmanship of the Denver Republicans; he is immensely qualified for that role, and I look forward to serving with him on the Executive Committee.

Our job is to help elect Republicans. It is not to dictate the ideology or the platform of the party to the membership. It is to help develop candidates, and to provide the tools for those candidates.

That will begin with presenting core Republican, Constitutional values to the Denver electorate, in a way that is appealing to them. Denver is a challenging electoral environment for Republicans, but our ideas actually deliver the goods that liberals say they want to. We can and must let Denverites know that their true interests lie with the freeing of their own talents, energy, and abilities.

Much of the buzz from the last campaign came from the use of technology and social networking to organiza Obama's supporters. In addition, alternative media - especially with the likely imminent demise of the Rocky - will become even more important in getting out message out. My own experience as a candidate, using blogs, online radio, Facebook, and other social networking devices, as well as my professional career as a web developer, will enable me to help the party into this arena.

We need to be able to run candidates in all districts, at all levels. The party can also be involved in building that farm system. Running for office is a large, complex job, and it gets moreso the higher the position. It can encourage candidates to run for local, non-partisan offices, to get their feet wet and to learn what's involved. In can be involved in identifying energetic candidates who are willing to sacrifice for the unknown.

It also means providing

  • Visibility: Lists of neighborhood and community organizations, along with meeting schedules, where prospective candidates can begin to make themselves known, and to listen to community concerns
  • Money: Denver will always be on its own, but we can improve our internal fundraising
  • Help for self-organizing grass-roots groups; the party can serve as a traffic cop, directing interested activists to grass-roots groups on like-minded activists; it should not and cannot control those groups; it can and should encourage them
  • Guidance: Replicating the national Party's book on compaign structure and deadlines, allowing for what is now Election Month, rather than Election Day
  • Support: Connecting candidates with existing legislators to help them better connect with their prospective electorate

Developing a farm team means making the most use of your talent. We need to reach out to a voter base of many ethnicities, and multiple ideologies. The party leadership should be able to work with - and respect - all elements of the party who are willing to work within the party.

All of this means hard work by the Executive Committee. It means a presence at every monthly District meeting, constant communication, and direct communication with precinct officers, candidates, and office-holders. It means planning, But it's the only way we'll be able to rebuild our party here in Denver.

I look forward to being a part of that, and I hope that the party will see fit to grant me that responsibility.

January 1, 2009

How Not To Invest In Real Estate

Colorado will receive $34 million to buy up distressed properties. Of that, Denver will get about $6 million.

This isn't right, This isn't even wrong.

Look at the path the money follows to get here:

The state of Colorado will allocate the HUD funds, and community development groups, with the help of elected officials, will use the money. NSP money can be combined with HUD's Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program funds as well as other funding resources.

This doesn't even include all the administrative costs; some of the $6 million will go to those, as well. The fingers in the pie include: the IRS, HUD, the state of Colorado, community development groups, local elected officials, who will rely on local bureaucrats, all of whom have incentives to maximize their respective cuts, none of whom have incentives to actually improve neighborhoods. I'd love to see the cost accounting at the federal, state, and local levels for this cash, but none will be forthcoming, I'm sure.

Worse still, $6 million isn't even worth the effort. According to the City Assessor's Office, we can roughly value all the residential real estate, both real property and condos, at about $40 billion. Six million isn't enough to arrest a trend of declining home prices; it is, however, enough to pick favorites and reward allies.

If there are distressed properties for improvement at a profit, there are plenty of investors willing to risk their own money, without having to make the round trip through three different bureaucracies.

Maybe they could even hire some of those paper-pushers to do the framing.

December 31, 2008

Colorado Senate Republicans Start to Get It

With a whole year ahead of us, it seems churlish to take up New Year's with complaints, so I thought I'd point out something good happening here.

The Colorado Senate Republicans are light-years ahead of their House colleagues in PR. I'm not certain if being on Facebook is a requirement for being in the caucus, but at least 4 of them are friends of mine on Facebook, and the web page is consistently kept up to date with committee assignments and legislative agenda items.

They even have a twitter feed, although for the moment, it seems to be mostly a stream announcing media appearances and press quotes. Hopefully, though, they'll find some creative uses for it during the legislative session. It'd be interested to see what Senators tweet during committee hearings.

On February, 13, we'll be having Sen. Mike Kopp on RMA Radio, and new media and social networking will be high on the list of topics.

December 10, 2008

Bailout Exit Strategy

Under what conditions would the government liquidate its proposed stake in the car companies?  In short, what's the exit strategy.

Should the companies become profitable again, there may be considerable pressure for the government to stay in the game and collect dividends.  And even if the car companies wanted to buy out the government, it might never be to their financial advantage to do so.  If the shares are over-valued, it's to GM's advantage to let them drop before buying.  If undervalued, GM's move to buy would be interpreted as such, and the government might well choose to them the shares appreciate.

But the real threat here is regulatory.  The Big Three would find themselves with a friend in government, more able than ever - and with a profit motive to boot - to muck around with the rules to the benefit of rent-seeking auto companies, and with a proven disinclination to defer to market discipline.

Our own Diana DeGette, Congressman for Denver, is Chief Deputy Whip, thus a part of leadership.  She's also the outgoing Vice Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, so will exercise considerable oversight of this monstrosity.

I just placed a call to her office for clarification (1:15 PM Denver time), and am awaiting a reply.

Rebuilding the House of Cards

With its Treasury assets low, the Fed is considering issuing its own debt, something it's never done before, and may be prohibited by law from doing.  The central bank has seen its balance sheet more than double, to over $2 trillion, and is trying to come up with added flexibility.

This is a spectacularly bad idea, so I'd expect to see enabling legislation on the President's desk by next week.

Anyone who buys Fed debt would be basically buying all those risky assets - plus whatever new risky assets the Fed decides to backstop tomorrow.  The market doesn't think much of those securities, which is why the Fed had to step in and buy them in the first place.  On the open market, they'd have insanely high yields and minimal value.  What the Fed is proposing to do is to remarket those securities, in effect as CDOs without the tranches, rebuilding the house of cards that got us into this problem in the first place.

Any difference between the yield those securities would be required to pay on the open market and the interest rate the Fed would have to pay would be - totally and completely - based on the public's confidence in the US Government's ability to cover those costs.  In other words, you and me. 

There are also almost certainly conflicts of interest (so to speak) between the Fed's role as a stabilizer of the debt markets and its role as a participant in them.  It's one reason the Fed has been independent, with the ability to tighten money and drive up borrowing costs largely without interference from the Treasury.  The Fed as debtor may be much less willing to fight inflation.

December 5, 2008

Are Coloradoans Stingy?

"Stingy," was what the UN deputy Secretary General called Americans for our response to the Asian tsunami a few years ago.  His comparison conveniently ignored our private contributions, which dwarf anything governments have to offer, especially in Red States.  (It also ignored the fact that the US Navy was the only instrument delivering anything approaching actual aid, as opposed to notional aid, which consists of meetings about aid rather than aid itself.)

So it should be a matter of concern when the Colorado Non-Profit Association issues a report claiming large declines in Colorado's charitable giving between 2005 and 2006.  The average family's charitable giving declined from $4075 to $4046.

But what goes unmentioned is that, according to the Tax Foundation, the average per capita state and local tax burden rose from 3.1% to 3.4%, and from $3815 to $4185, more than 10 times the putative decline in giving.  The idea that Coloradoans might, in part, have been giving less voluntarily because they were giving more mandatorily doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone.

There are also significant methodological questions.  They claim that Colorado has the 5th highest income, adjusted for cost of living, in the country.  But when I use the BEA's personal income numbers,adjusted by the same state Cost of Living Index they use, Colorado comes in 15th, not 5th.

The study fails to account for volunteer hours contributed.  It's understandable that an organization that defines well-being at least in part by how many paid staff they can afford to hire, would minimize the contributions of volunteers.

The Denver Post's story asks none of these questions, and completely ignores the tax issue and the relevant methodological issues, instead amounting to a press release for the state's non-profits.  Since they tend to support any change in tax policy which allows them to lobby a few state officals rather than compete for fundaising among the state's citizenry, this report and article will almost certainly be cited as the basis for further proposed tax increases.

November 25, 2008

What Was That About the Oil Industry

Governor Ritter and too many legislators have been counting on the oil and gas industry to protect us against a recession. Note that these are the same people who argue against shale oil on the basis of Black Sunday a few decades ago.

Here comes the bad news your mother warned you about:

Energy companies are slashing operating budgets as Colorado's once-booming oil and gas industry struggles with plummeting commodity prices, a tight credit market and an uncertain regulatory environment.

Hiring freezes have been implemented in an industry that just six months ago struggled to fill open positions. The effects of the cutbacks are trickling to other companies, such as law firms that provide service to oil and gas operators.

News flash: it ain't just the law firms. It's trucking companies, hotels, housing, construction, pipeline companies, metalworking, logging, and everything else upstream from the hole in the ground. It's not just severance taxes, guys.

They'll base the budget on a cyclical industry, but won't allow it to grow to take advantage of the upturns.

November 19, 2008

Those Darned Websites

Well, if I'm going to hit the House Republicans for not maintaining their website, I want to give them credit when they do. But remember, it takes at least two data points to make a trend.

(The Dems announced their own committee assignments, and District 6 will be represented on State, Veterans, & Military, and on Judiciary.)

Let's also note the contrast between the Senate Republicans and the Senate Democrats.

November 13, 2008

Gun For Sale. Only Used Once


A group of community activists has raised $1,000 to buy guns from owners to cut down gun violence in Denver.

"We are saying, 'Put the guns down, and stop burying our babies,' " said Alvertis Simmons, president of the Denver Million Family March Organization.

The group will pay $50 per gun at an anti-violence and gun buyback rally set for noon on Dec. 6 at the Martin Luther King Memorial in Denver's City Park.

The guns will be turned over to police, said Denver police spokeswoman Sharon Hahn.

"Anybody can bring an illegal gun in at any time. Any time that illegal weapons are taken off the street, we are pleased," she added.

Right. This only works if the value of the gun to the criminal is less than $50. That's net profits minus the cost of the gun (cap ex), plus the intangible that in his world, it's also probably just a cost of doing business, i.e., staying alive.

In other news, the citizens of Rome continue to negotiate with Alaric concerning the terms of the upcoming sack.

Spot the Difference

The Colorado House Republicans

The Colorado House Democrats

It's not just about getting elected, it's also about governing.

November 12, 2008

PERA-lous Territory

Moral Hazards, everywhere you look. Arnold Kling has been all over that terrible idea, the proposed auto bailout.

A big reason that the auto industry is in trouble financially is that many of its current and past workers have retirement benefits (including medical care) that are defined benefits. That is, the benefits are promised regardless of whether enough money was contributed to provide for them.

And why is this a problem?

This refers to companies with defined-benefit pension plans, which are plans that promise to pay specific benefits, even if the funds in the plans lose money. The companies think that it is onerous that they should be expected to actually have to take steps to keep their promises. Instead, they want to go on as if everything is fine, and leave somebody else to pick up the tab if it isn't.

And who are the tab-picker-uppers? Naturally, the taxpayers, under the Pension Benefit Guarantee system.

Everyone who promises defined benefits thinks that somebody else needs to help them keep their promises. That somebody else is you and me.

First GM, and then PERA, which is less arguable, because those pushing this little piece of socialism will then claim that you and I made the promises to the government employees.

In fact, it's almost as though they're pushing to help GM in order to clear the way for a PERA bailout.

November 10, 2008

Ken Gordon, Our Next Secretary of State?

Back in 2006, John Andrews and I interviewed State Sen. Ken Gordon, who was then running for Secretary of State, and I blogged about the interview at the time. With the election of Mike Coffman to Congress from the other District 6, his views on the proper role of the office are worth reviisitng, since he's liable to be appointed to the position by Gov. Ritter.

November 9, 2008

Denver, and Statewide Strategy

As part of its rebuilding, retrenching, and strategy to win back one branch of the legislature and/or the governorship in 2010, the Republicans will be tempted to redirect resources from Denver to other areas. This would be a mistake.

I ran in Denver because I live here. Running somewhere else isn't possible for me, because I need to live near a shul, and all the shuls are here in District 6. So wearing me out isn't the issue. I have no choice.

Abandoning Denver is the first step to abandoning Westminster, Arvada, and Arapahoe (which isn't safe now, either). It's thinking tactically rather than strategically, and that all the good tactics in the world won't help a rebuild tarnished brand. We want to change the map, not just build walls here and there, and I think to do that, we need to think big. If we abandon Denver, we leave the other party free to do the same thing.

Look at District 6. We managed to get almost 33% - up significantly - and turn out nearly 12,000 votes for our side in a year when the tide was running the wrong way. We did this with a party where barely 1/4 of the precincts had active precinct committeepeople, where we had to spend time reconnecting with Republicans who hadn't been visited, mailed, or otherwise contacted by a local candidate in almost a decade.

There is still a lot of upside to our party here, while I think the Dems have mostly maxed out. When the Denver Return Book comes in, in a week or so, I want to see how the national, state, and local candidates, and ballot initiatives ran, relative to each other, here in Dist. 6. But let's assume for the moment that we all ran in lock-step. If we can even get this district back to 55-45 on a voting basis, that would be important statewide. Had we had 55-45 this year, it would have meant about a 9000 swing; tell me the Amendment 46 people wouldn't have killed for that. Our registration is marginal if we only include actives, but if we include all voters, the numbers are better. So by reaching inactive voters, something we didn't focus on this year, we improve our chances significantly.

Howard Dean - curse him - figured out that the Dems needed to find a way to be competitive in the South, even if that meant finding horses for courses, and tempering the national agenda. Nudge the country to the left over time, and they'll get what they want. We need to do the same thing, nationally in the northeast, and locally, here in Denver, Boulder County (which as a county, is actually less blue than Denver). We can start nudging the state and country back to the right.

November 8, 2008

Progress, Now...More Progress - State House of Reps

So as a numbers guy, I'd be very helpful in redistricting, if, indeed, we ever get a voice in redistricting. Until then, I'll have to satisfy myself with chewing over the results as they are.

A couple of interesting points. Gerrymandering apparently works, although it may have reached the limits of its effectiveness here in Colorado. The Republicans picked up 6 percentage points on the Dems from 2006, going from 55-45 to 52-48 aggregate vote statewide. Yet they picked up only one seat in the voting, going from 39-26 to 38-27. (This will be reported as a two-seat gain, because nominal Republican Debbie Stafford switched parties in the middle of the session, and her safe Republican seat reverted to form on Tuesday.)

Where did the gains come from? Some of it was the increased voter turnout on both sides. A presidential election year is likely to result in more voters, and if the same number of "new" voters shows up on each side, the percentage difference will narrow.

But in this case, the raw difference in votes also narrowed considerably. In 2006, the Democrats won the aggregate vote total 792,600 - 647,355, by 145,245. In 2008, they won 999,377 - 922,627, by 76,750. So the count narrowed by about 70,000 votes, despite unprecedented GOTV efforts on the state Democratic side.

(The newspapers haven't reported the vote totals in the several uncontested districts, so I just guessed based on surrounding districts and assumed a slightly lower turnout. if I'm off, I'm not off by much more than 10,000 votes net, but we'll know in a few weeks as the Secretary of State certifies the results.)

About 41,000 of this can be attributed to the presence of GOP state house candidates in Denver, in districts where none had run in 2006. These were unlikely to result in additional seats, but may have had an effect in GOTV efforts in the statewide totals for other ballot items, such as president, senator, and the various referenda and amendments. All of these numbers are accurate, as by definition, none of the races where Denver Republicans ran in 2008 was uncontested.)

The problem here is that the rising ride only floated a couple of boats. HD-30 and HD-55 changed hands to Republicans, and HD-56 tightened to a point where is might be contested next time, assuming that there's no concerted effort to "educate the idiots" in that district. Let's plan on filing CORA requests on communications between Rep. Scanlan and the Powers that Be on the left early and often.

As for possible pickups next time, there were only 3 seats that were Democrat wins, that also were under 10% difference in vote. All three get better for the Dems, HD-17, HD-27, and HD-38. This was almost certainly strategic on the Democrats' part, and it'll be interesting to see the 527 expenditures in those races. But it means that even if the Republicans manage to close the gap to 50-50 in the vote, they'll still be down 35-30 in the legislature, with some serious changes in at least three other districts. There are five such seats held by Republicans going into the new session.

All of which suggests that while Gerrymandering has worked decisively in the Democrats' favor, its usefulness in extending their gains is probably coming to an end. There just isn't that much more low-hanging fruit to be plucked off by CoDA by shifting voters around.

The bad news is that, barring a major upheaval in the political landscape by 2010, they won't have to.

November 7, 2008

Well, This is Certainly Frustrating

I'm trying to run some comparative numbers from 2 years ago. When I go to the Denver Elections Division website and click on the Returns from the 2006 general election, I get a file named for November 7, 2006, but which contains the information from November 6, 2007.

Yes, I have.

November 6, 2008

Preview of Coming Attractions

Here in Colorado, I'd look for an emboldened Democratic legislature and governor. The margins of victory were larger in the Senate race than in 2004, despite a more liberal, less appealing Democrat, and a more seasoned, more articulate Republican. Salazar had to run as a centrist to win in 2004; Udall felt no such constraints. Combine that confidence with a security that the federal government won't be interfering from the right.

The Power-Perpetuating-Power folks must also be feeling their oats. While the unions couldn't stop Amendment 54, they were able to extort enough money from business to get them to defeat 47 and 49 for them. This was without card check. Like all good extortion rackets, expect the price to go up, until they get to the point where they don't even need to ask.

While raising taxes is beyond the constitution, appropriating everything that's expected to come in, and then crying poor, is a great way to get the citizenry to raise taxes on themselves. PERA's newfound shortfall may be an excellent excuse right there.

At this point, the left probably doesn't feel that it has anything to fear, either from above or below. So look for more regulation, higher "fees," and less and less personal freedom.

Progressively more expensive. Progressively more intrusive. Progressively more restricive.

November 5, 2008

Amendment 46

I have to admit, I didn't deliberately follow the campaign for Amendment 46 all that closely. So maybe, that's actually a good thing when you're trying to examine why something so good came so close to success, but not close enough. Because then you're letting your distance do the filtering for you.

Jessica Corry is a terrific gal, one of the smartest and savviest political-types I know. The last thing I want to do is Wednesday-morning quarterback her efforts. What follows are impressions, not criticism. Anyone with inside knowledge of the reasons certain things were done, and others weren't is heartily invited to hit the comment key.

There are a number of good arguments for doing away with racial preferences.

1) We derive our rights by virtue of being human, not by virtue of being male or female, or by belonging to a government-defined ethnic group.
2) Preferences are unfair
3) Preferences cost money to administer, and cost money in lost productivity and efficiency
4) Preference programs are open to abuse
5) Preferences assume the worst of our fellow citizens - that they can't be trusted not to be racist

One of the more effective arguments against 46 was the slanderous radio ads portraying Ward Connerly as a pocket-lining money-grubber that managed to demonize the issue by association with the advocate. That, combined with a lingering sense that preferences are a small price to pay to set things aright, to correct a much bigger unfairness.

The arguments in favor are of varying degrees of effectiveness, and varying degrees of principle. Personally, in my campaign, I focused on 5), and to some extent on 1). It feels more principled and more like the high road. It pushes the ideas of liberty and equality more openly. But it may well be that 3) and 4) would have been more effective.

For 4), note that Wilma Webb somehow ended up with an affirmative action set-aside for a DIA concession store. Now everyone likes Wellington Webb personally, and he wields a great deal of power, even now. But if they're going to go full Roman on Connerly anyway, you may as well push back. There must be hundreds of examples of this sort of thing statewide. If they can be brought out without violating anyone's privacy, pick the 3 or 4 worst and turn them into poster children for the sort of cronyism and nepotism that always accompanies government giveaways.

Number 3) is a little tougher, but we can get creative. Aside from the direct administrative cost of these programs, there must be ways of measuring the cost of higher dropout rates to the colleges and the individuals, the cost of lower efficiency through lower-qualified employees, and so on. Take that number, divide it by the average cost of employing a full-time entry-level worker, and ask whether it's better to waste the money or to employ these people.

As I said, this isn't to second-guess. I'm just trying to figure out how to get this thing passed the next time.

Initiatives and What They Mean

I believe that we can draw a few conclusions - some comforting, none radical - from the voter

1) There's a fiscally conservative core in the state that understands their own finances
2) There's a way of putting roadblocks into one party's plans of using power to perpetuate power
3) Simpler is better
4) Candidates are easier to demonize than ideas

1) There's a fiscally conservative core in the state that understands their own finances

Amendments 51, 58, and 59, which would all have raised taxes, all failed. Every last one. And they weren't even close. I expected 51 would pass, and while I opposed it, I wouldn't have been crushed by losing on that one. But they all failed. Amendment 50 passed, but because it's a completely voluntary tax on people who are bad at math, it confirms the thesis.

2) There's a way of putting roadblocks into one party's plans to use power to perpetuate power

Amendment 59 and Referendum O were attempts to expand government and limit the people's ability to check that expansion. They both failed. Amendment 54, which will prevent public employee unions from donating directly to candidates, passed. (What's kind of weird about 54 was that I saw no advertising in favor of it, the usual 47-49-54 trio linked in opposiition, plenty of advertising in favor of 49, and yet 49 failed badly and 54 passed.)

3) Simpler is better

So why did 47 and 49 fail? And what about 52? Well, 47 was target of non-stop abuse, financed in part by political blackmail. I'm just not sure that many people understood 49, or saw the need to get involved. I think there's probably some perception that union members are ok with Dues-and-Political-Activism withholding, don't see where anyone's being hurt by it. 52 was a neat idea, but as I found in my own race, vulnerable to the accusation that it would sap money from environmental projects. This was nonsense, of course, but it should have been addressed pro-actively.

I also think the over-complexity of 59 is one reason it failed. You wanna save money? Fine, save money. Why do you need to rewrite the entire budgeting process to do that?

The ones that passed were simpler: unions can't buy candidates; let gamblers pay for community colleges.

4) Candidates and business are easier to demonize than ideas

Pace Bob Schaffer. Even as many of his positions on ballot initiatives were being adopted statewide, he was going down to a not-so-close defeat.

So, what about 46? Where does that apparently-narrowly-defeated amendment fit into this? That's another post.

Bob Schaffer

Last night, after the speeches, after the cameras had left, after the reporters had filed their stories, Bob Schaffer stuck around, talking to supporters, party members, and party-goers.

Bob's unwavering belief in - and advocacy of - the unique animating principles of American life are an inspiration. He's always understood that while winning is the sine qua non of politics, winning on the opponent's terms is as good as losing. He was a friend to my own campaign at its very beginning, breaking protocol to endorse me in the primary. It was an infectious declaration of confidence.

I first met Bob Schaffer through the Leadership Program of the Rockies. On the very first day of the program, he recited by heart, in his own voice, the next-to-last paragraph of Patrick Henry's famous speech to the House of Burgesses:

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest.

Bob is truly a centered man, a poiltician who has not let politics displace from his life that which is truly important. There are no more honorable men in public life than Bob, and I expect we haven't heard the last of him.


While the losses by Bob Schaffer and John McCain are disappointing, we appear to have fared much better on a number of statewide ballot initiatives. Amendments 47 and 49 are going down to defeat at the hands of union-extorted money.

But Amendment 54 appears to have squeaked by 52-48, and it may well be the most efficacious of the three, limiting certain campaign contributions from unions and vendors of sole-sourch serivces to the government.

Amendment 59, which would have gutted TABOR, is failing by a comfortable margin. Outgoing Speaker Romanoff completely sold out to this effort, but the artificially-induced budget squeeze will have to be resolved some other way.

Amendment 58, which would have hiked energy taxes going into a recession, likewise is headed for the ignominious defeat it deseves.

Referendum O, which would have severely limited the ability of citizens to act as a check on their own legislature's excesses, is going to down to defeat as well.

And finally, Amendment 46, which would eliminate all affirmative action from state actors, is failing very narrowly with 80% of the preincts counted. There is still about 20% of the vote to count, and Yes is behind by a little under 20,000 votes. That number has slipped from over 24,00 just a few mnutes ago.

In Other Election News

Those of you following my race here in HD-6 by now know that I was defeated in the general election. The text of my concession is or will soon be up over on the campaign site.

But I wanted to mention a couple of other races around the country that I was following. In Cleveland, Josh Mandel trounced his Democratic challenger. Mandel won his seat in 2006, in a heavily Democrat district by walking, walking, walking. This year, when the marine reservist was recalled to active duty in Iraq, his opponent tried to capitalize by claiming he went AWOL on the citizens of his district. He also claimed that Jewis in the district voted for Mandel because of his Jewish name. Mandel, who had been worried about his re-election, cruised to a 71-29 victory.

And my friend Zudhi Jasser's amendment to the Arizona state constitution, preserving patient choice, appears to have very narrowly failed. That's too bad, but perhaps there will be a recount.

November 2, 2008

PERA-lous Waters

In case you needed another reason to vote for someone who's got a financial, rather than a political, background, you got one this week.

The largest pension fund for state and local public employees lost $10 billion in market value through mid-October, raising the specter of higher contribution rates or lower benefits in coming years if markets don't improve rapidly.

Colorado PERA, which covers 413,000 employees and retirees, saw its assets plummet from $41 billion at the beginning of the year to $31 billion on Oct. 15. That drop was not as severe as some market benchmarks, but it comes on top of a long-term underfunding problem that the Public Employees' Retirement Association had hoped to make up in part through investment gains.

PERA officials have tried to reassure state and local employees that their current benefits are not at risk and that the pension has plenty of cash to weather month-to-month market fluctuations. They said they have no current plans to ask the PERA board or the legislature for changes in contributions or benefits, but the legislature did adjust those levels in 2006 for long-term solvency.

PERA's formula for a 30-year return to full funding depends on an average annual gain of 8.5 percent from its investments.

"Obviously we've got a bit of a bigger hole now," said PERA executive director Meredith Williams.

Gee, ya think? 8.5% Isn't an unreasonable number; the average stock market rise has been 8% over the last 90 years. But they're also invested in bonds, real estate, and overseas markets, and alternative investments.

Some of the T-bond investments - intended not for bond appreciation but for steady income - will have to be rolled over in the next year or two. They'll yield a lot less, which will also have to be made up. Now maybe there's a way of selling off the higher-yielding bonds now, but only if you see higher yields in which to invest.

PERA's going to have a hard time meeting all the promises it's made. Heaven help us if we start making more.

October 25, 2008

Right to Work

Readers of the blog, and those following the campaign, know that I'm a fan of Right to Work, and therefore a proponent of Amendment 47.

I just saw an anti-Amendment 47 ad, claiming that Right to Work would both lower wages and cost jobs. I suppose these are truly bipartisan ads, in that neither Hoover nor Roosevelt seemed to think that employment had anything to do with the cost of labor.

October 17, 2008

Let's Pretend

That seems to be the Democrats' favorite game this year. In Ohio, the Democratic Secretary of State has persuaded the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court requirement that registrations actually be validated by election day. While the Supreme Court - possibly correctly - argued jurisdictional issues, Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner was claiming that it wasn't necessary to validate up to 200,000 registrations with irregularities. I say, "possibly," because I'm pretty sure that a Colorado state court ruled on certain aspects of HAVA four years ago, but it's possible that the issues at stake here are different, and non-justiciable by a state court.

Secretary of State Brunner has already allowed up to 3000 questionable registrants to vote electronically early, making it impossible to retrieve their votes should there turn out to be fraud. But Let's Pretend all those votes should count.

ACORN's been very active in Ohio, registering individuals, both existent and non-, multiple times. But since it'll be hard to make sure all these voters are entitled to the franchise, Let's Pretend there's no problem here, nothing to see here, move along, move along. By dodging the problem now, the Court has set itself up for a much bigger headache later on.

Likewise, my Democratic opponent, Lois Court, on Tuesday, defended the notion of Single-Payer Mandatory Universal Health Care (abbreviated backwards, that's "CHUMPS") by claiming that "I define 'public good' to mean something that's good for the public."

Never mind that that's not what it means, either word-by-word or as a phrase. Let's Pretend that it is. Let's pretend that the only cost is the cost of delivery, not the cost of the product itself.

The problem with Let's Pretend is that sooner or later Mom, or as she's known in this case, The Real World, calls you in to get cleaned up for dinner.

The other side likes to style itself as, "Progressives." They are. They're Progressively More Expensive, Progressively More Intrusive, and Progressively More Restrictive.

October 16, 2008

The JCRC Candidates' Forum

To be honest, mostly a yawner. Diana DeGette did, however, commit the clear howler of the night when she showed herself ignorant - willfully or not - of the investor class. She professed that the people she knew who were making under $250,000 a year weren't the ones worried about capital gains taxes and dividends.

Apparently, the 75% of American households who own stock don't live in her district, which is weird, because they sure live in mine.

Amendment 49

Former Senator Hank Brown, a friend of my own election campaign, has been campaigning publicly for Amendment 49, a proposal that would end the government's role as bag man for unions and their recycling of public dollars into political campaigns. It wouldn't prevent anyone from giving to their union small donor committee, it would just make the unions responsible for their own collections and accounting.

In any event, Hank appeared on the Mike Rosen show to explain why this Amendment is such a good idea for Colorado's political process, and Ben DeGrow has uploaded the most salient clips and blogged about them:

Naturally, the left is having a fit. It's almost as though we were asking them to play by the same rules as everyone else, or something.

September 14, 2008

Referendum O-Oh

There's no question that the Colorado Constitution has suffered from various inconsistent amendments. The primary argument in favor of the so-called SAFE Amendment is that we need some solution to the traffic jam of Amendment 23, TABOR, and the Gallagher Amendment. That's Exhibit A, although it's hard to actually find an Exhibit B.

Now, the Democrats, with considerable Republican support in the state Senate (8 of 15 Republicans supported the bill), are trying to use this vague dissatisfaction to pass Referendum O, a Constitutional amendment making it harder to, well, pass Constitutional amendments.

Referendum O would:

1) Increase the signature requirement by 7,000. Currently, constitutional amendments require 5% of the last vote for Secretary of State. Referendum O would require 6% of the last vote for Governor.
2) Push the deadline back to April from August. Petitions campaigns would have to start before the legislature met, and wrap up before adjournment. For all practical purposes, anything passed by the legislature wouldn't be subject to an Amendment over-turn for over a year. Any effort to pass anything could be derailed by a plea to wait and led the legislature deal with it. And if you believe that...
3) Require that at least 8% of signatures come from each Congressional district. Initially, it would have required 8%.

Here's where we need to do some math. With roughly 93,500 signatures needed, that means that about 7,500 valid signatures would be required from each Congressional district. Realistically, we'd need 15,000 since up to half may get invalidated by the Secretary of State. This won't affect signature gathering in Denver, Colorado Springs, or Boulder (CD-1, CD-5, or CD-2), and probably wouldn't affect CD-6 very much, as it's becoming urbanized, or at least, suburbanized. But take a look at the population distribution in CD-3 and CD-4.

CD-3 has liberal Pueblo, and more-liberal-than-conservative GJ. The population - especially the more Republican population - is much lower density, much more spread out. And it's not even like Grand Junction is that large. According to the Mesa County Clerk and Recorder, at the last municipal elections, there were roughly 21,000 registered voters in Grand Junction.

This, just like Amendment 27, places a premium on organization and money to pay for signature-gatherers, especially for more conservative amendments. Especially as proponents will no longer be able to rely on popular anger over legislative action.

While the Democrats were in a perpetual minority, they made spectacularly effective use of the initiative amendment process, passing Amendment 23, which has helped hamstring the budget, and Amendment 27, which has placed a premium on big money and union organization in campaigns. Now that they are in the majority, the modern-day "progressives" find no end of fault with the only meaningful check the citizens have on a runaway legislature backed by a governor and a compliant State Supreme Court.

This is what the Democratic party is exceptionally good at: using power to perpetuate power.

When Coloradoans passed Amendment 27, they probably didn't realize that in their desperation for "reform," they were actually voting for a Trojan Horse.

This time, there are no excuses.

August 7, 2008

(Not) Lost in Translation II

Rima Barakat Sinclair also found time to opine on Iraq during her candidacy. In the past, at the Big Tent Event on April 10, and at a subsequent Colorado Federation of Republican Women's meeting, Mrs. Barakat Sinclair has expressed admiration for the salutory effects of the regime change on Iraq's women, and the opportunities they now enjoy. She also - at a Colorado Jewish Republicans meeting in June of 2008 - expressed gratitude for the service and good works of an injured Iraqi veteran who spoke there.

However, in the chat session with Al-Arab Al-Yawm, she responded quite differently to a question from an Iraqi expatriate who had returned to the Middle East. Here's his question:

Ms. Rima ... Being an Iraqi I would like to ask you questions that have been so long in the minds of Iraqis for more than five years. Being an American, and in the vicinity of (American political kitchen) I returned to the region convinced that the US desired a return of Iraqi rights, which are still waiting, hoping for the dream of freedom. How is it that America & Britain are unable to find a solution to Iraq's security crisis, economically and socially? Was it the scheme of the freedom promised by the Iraqis that the price of the blood of thousands and thousands widowed and orphaned thousands and displaced millions? Did the U.S. administration expect the events that took place in Iraq? Are things, in a nutshell, in Iraq as expected and planned by the U.S. government, or was what has happened and is happening in Iraq not an unthinkable shock when I returned preparing to enter Iraq? If the purpose of the occupation of Iraq was to find weapons of mass destruction (across continents), then where can't America eliminate the weapons of mass destruction that kill Iraqis daily, in numbers increasing with the growing militia sources, and the processing of enough simple weapons to destroy dozens of Iraqis?

And here's her answer:

When reality contradicts propaganda and theory, logic gives you an honest answer. You have found the answer to your question yourself. What happened and is happening in Iraq does not constitute a surprise. In 1994, Dick Cheney, George Bush's current Vice-President, predicted the expected consequences for Iraq if U.S. troops entered the country. What was said then is achieved today, knowing that Mr. Cheney is still one of the foremost supporters of starting a war against Iraq. He is today also one of the most zealous advocates of waging war against Iran under the same slogan, "weapons of mass destruction" and "protecting Israel."

This amazing video shows that in 1994, Dick Cheney understood the consequences of invading Iraq:

And here, Mrs. Barakat Sinclair provides a transcript in mixed Arabic and English.

No attempt to defend the invasion. No attempt to defend America's performance. An outright attack on the integrity of a sitting Vice President in a foreign newspaper. Tell-tale quotes around "weapons of mass destruction" when obliquely referring to Iran's nuclear weapons program.

In other parts of the chat session, Mrs. Barakat Sinclair is quite fulsome in her praise of America's protection of free speech and civil liberties. The Constitution completely and correctly protects Mrs. Barakat Sinclair's rights as a citizen. I leave it to the reader to judge the use she's putting them to, and her fitness for office.

July 21, 2008

Cooling on Warming

The wall surrounding global warming is beginning to crumble, and not a moment too soon. The American Physical Society noting that:

There is a considerable presence within the scientific community of people who do not agree with the IPCC conclusion that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are very probably likely to be primarily responsible for the global warming that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution. Since the correctness or fallacy of that conclusion has immense implications for public policy and for the future of the biosphere, we thought it appropriate to present a debate within the pages of P&S concerning that conclusion.

The APS declaration confers immediate cerdibility on global warming skepticism, and should act as an immediate brake on the rush to devote tens of trillions of dollars to fixing a problem we may not even be causing. It should also signal governments that they should no longer be one-sided in their grant policies, but should be funding skeptical research along with accepted dogma. We still can't pinpoint the causes of climate change, and grants aimed at finding that out, in accordance with actual scientific methdology, would be money well spent.

Likewise, David Evans who, "wrote the carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia's compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector," now writes that there really is no hard evidence that man-made carbon dioide caused the now-ceased warming:

But since 1999 new evidence has seriously weakened the case that carbon emissions are the main cause of global warming, and by 2007 the evidence was pretty conclusive that carbon played only a minor role and was not the main cause of the recent global warming. As Lord Keynes famously said, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"


There is no evidence to support the idea that carbon emissions cause significant global warming. None. There is plenty of evidence that global warming has occurred, and theory suggests that carbon emissions should raise temperatures (though by how much is hotly disputed) but there are no observations by anyone that implicate carbon emissions as a significant cause of the recent global warming.

Though he is, I think, too sanguine about the political effects of being wrong:

The Labor Government is about to deliberately wreck the economy in order to reduce carbon emissions. If the reasons later turn out to be bogus, the electorate is not going to re-elect a Labor government for a long time. When it comes to light that the carbon scare was known to be bogus in 2008, the ALP is going to be regarded as criminally negligent or ideologically stupid for not having seen through it. And if the Liberals support the general thrust of their actions, they will be seen likewise.

Possible, but the great political strength of the modern environmental movement has been the casting of the movement in religious terms, complete with dogma, doctrine, priests, absolution, detailed regulation of personal behavior, and even indulgences. Pair that with the well-known benefits of hiding the costs while pointing directly at the benefits, and you have a movement that might well be able to survive even economic catastrophe, if left to metastasize any longer.

The wall of media silence concerning our ignorance of the causes of climate change is starting to come apart thanks to the presence of scientists committed to the scientific method. Whether they outnumber those committed to research grants from an intransigent federal bureaucracy, and whether science-by-science is enough to overcome science-by-press-conference, are yet to be seen.

(Hat Tip: Powerline)

June 30, 2008

Of Initiatives Referred and Unreferred

Tonight, Andrew Romanoff and Ken Gordon will be hosting volunteer parties for their Tabor-to-Unions initiative. Sen. Gordon apparently suppressed an urge to write an email detailing the many problems with the political system:

It's annoying that we have to fight elections for our cause The inconvenience--having to get a majority If normal methods of persuasion fail to win us applause There are other ways of establishing authority

and went with something more positive and a little less dyspeptic.

In any event, these are the same folks who are pushing a series of referred measures to severely limit the initiative process here - now that they think they've got a permanent majority in the legislature. Every Democrat on the stage at the CHUN forum voiced this view - opposed to the initiative process on principle, but they'd make an exception in this case. Even my Republican opponent chimed in with the view that the initiative process was flawed - that's what legislatures are for.

And Lois Court noted that, "Representative government is a terrific idea - we should try it sometime," an line echoed in Romanoff's email announcement of the meetings. Nobody has yet asked her what she thinks of recent State Supreme Court rulings, I suppose.

This is a conscious power-grab on the part of the Democrats - they want to remove constraints on how much they can spend, and remove your ability to check that spending through initiatives. I don't think either will pass, but the fact that they're trying tells you a lot about their theories of power.

June 19, 2008

Bob Schaffer & CNMI - The End of the Beginning

Ross Kaminsky has been doing yeoman work, debunking the local Big Blue Spin Machine (tm - SchafferVUdall) and it's opening salvo aimed at of the Bob Schaffer's greatest assets: his reputation for probity.

The Denver Post's Michael Riley published two articles on Bob's visit to the Northern Marianas while he was in the US House, and they're superb exemplars of the detail and homework that has made the MSM what it is today.

Today, Ross serves up the last of the April 10th article au brochette:

Schaffer can truthfully claim to have been instrumental in getting a sweatshop closed down. What can Akaka, or any other Democrat opponents of the CNMI say they've done other than wreck the islands' economy for their own political benefit? Unfortunately since the mainstream media has the same underhanded motivations as did the Democrats and their union puppet-masters, they are incapable of reporting the story of Schaffer in the CNMI as the good deed that it was.

I would suggest that the MSM's motivations are perhaps less underhanded and more blinkered. They're not capable of reporting the story correctly not because they're conspiring to push a storyline they know to be untrue, but because they're incapable of imagining it to be untrue.

Read the rest, and then go help out Bob.

May 17, 2008

Bob Schaffer at the J-GOP

Thursday night, Bob Schaffer addressed the Jewish Republicans, with a version of his stump speech tailored for small audiences. It was a masterly performance, with Schaffer covering almost the full range of national issues, from national security, to energy, to the environment, while mentioning his disappointment with the national party leaderhship in the past, and his willingness to fight within the party for the ideas we all care about.

When the race started, it looked as though Iraq, and the declining Republican brand were going to be the major issues in the fall. Now, with greater success in Iraq, and declining enthusiasm for Democrats, pocketbook issues are more important.

And among pocketbook issues, energy looms the largest. Schaffer made the point that our current energy prices are a combination of increased worldwide demand, and a deliberate policy by liberals, environmentalists, and socialists (er, is there a difference there?) to limit domestic energy production on the basis of aesthetics rather than economics.

So let's see: we turn our food into energy, which is an inefficient use of everything involved in the process: corn, fertilizer, natural gas (which is what you make fertilizer from), energy itself. We prevent drilling in Alaska, offshore, in-state. (Cuba apparently is less environmentally sensitive.) We streamline the nuclear plant licensing process at just the time when materials and design costs are double plant costs. We limit our exposure to the world natural gas market by preventing LNG terminals.

And then we're surprised when the cost of energy, relative to everything else, rises.

As for budget issues, he struck at the silliness of pay-as-you-go rules, which are a mask for preventing tax cuts. He made a pitch for dynamic scoring, which takes into account expected growth spurred by cuts. It indicates a solid grasp of how Washington works, but also a solid grasp of how economics works, something sorely lacking in most elected officials.

In foreign policy, Schaffer clearly is on top of threatening developments in our relationship with China. He mentioned their eyes on a blue-water navy, their ASAT capability, their neo-colonialism in Africa, their missile bases opposite Taiwan, and their computer virus library, a precursor to technological warfare in the event of a crisis.

I particularly liked his comment that in the Cold War, "I like to think they won, too." Meaning not the communist dictators, of course, but the people of eastern Europe. One much say the same about the Axis powers in WWII, and the people of every country whose overlords we have decisively defeated in conflict.

His encapsulation of Israel's relationship to the US is common-sense and clear-headed: the US's interest are best defended when Israel has the political and military ability to defend itself. One might add that this is also to Israel's advantage. After all, it's not much of an ally who's a constant liability. And it's a much stronger formulation than President Bush's echo of the Serbian-Russian alliance: We and the Americans, 307 million strong.

The good news is that Bob's out-raising Udall in in-state funds, The bad news is that very few Senate races are decided by in-state funds any more, and Udall's getting the DC PAC, DSCC, and union money. So when you get a chance, help Bob out. This is one of the few races where the Republicans actually have a chance to improve the brand this fall.

April 13, 2008

Another Run at '31

The Democrats are now in the process of repeating all of the mistakes of the Great Depression.

Pushing for a war on inflation, seeking to increase uncertainty in the housing market, allowing a $2 Trillion tax increase in three years, threatening to go full Smoot-Hawley, and now pushing for artificially inflated wages and artificial - and extremely temporary - job security.

The UFCW Local 7 has introduced a whole raft of ballot initiatives for this fall. While they're the political equivalent of an F- economic grounds, their underlying political agenda is unmistakable.

First, the economics. Ben Bernanke's been taking a beating recently, and on some counts, he deserves it. But this is a scholar of the Great Depression. I'm probably one of the bloggers you'll see who's actually read any of his scholarly papers on the Depression. Bernanke notices two great contributing factors to the Depression: the US's late abandonment of the gold standard, and the stickiness of wages.

One of the dirty little secrets of the Great Depression is that if you had a job, it wasn't so bad. That's because wages often staid at pre-crash levels, even as more of them were being paid by soup kitchens. Why were wages sticky? That is, why, instead of lowering wages, did companies keep them high, even to the point of failure? Because Herbert Hoover wanted it that way, believing that high prices meant prosperity.

These labor initiatives: no firings without specific cause, forcing small business to pay for health insurance, and forcing businesses to match the inflation rate, are the economic equivalent of begging for unemployment. Sure, if you've got a job it's not too bad. But try getting one when the cost of hiring keeps going up relative to everything else.

The cynic will say that this is all part of the plan. Well, it is. First, the unions have seen their membership drop off the edge of a cliff. The majority of their membership is now comprised of public employees, and people are beginning to question the propriety of paying taxes to support a naked political agenda. The unions need to prove that they still have some political muscle.

Another, little-mentioned aspect of their initiatives is that it would let anyone bring suit for alleged corporate wrongdoing. Historically, you actually have to have been hurt in order to have standing in a civil suit. This obvious sop to the other Great Democrat Constituency, the trial lawyers, would be another avenue for corporate shake-down artists to raise the cost of doing business, and to fund their own personal and political cash flow needs from the hard work of others.

Inflation-indexed wages will have yet another perverse effect. Such a rule would act as a subsidy to inflation, both promoting and limiting the incentive to fight it. Which means that pensioners, retirees, and those on fixed incomes will find their own savings stolen from them. Which will become an excuse for another big tax increase to fund those generous retirement programs we've rashly promised our teachers and other public servants.

Today's economy is more inter-connected, more diversified, more entrepreneurial, and more resilient than in was in 1930, which probably means that we'll end up looking more like Japan in 1990 than the US in 1930. But that doesn't mean that the damage to hopes, dreams, and security won't be real.

March 31, 2008

Put The Check Down, And Back Slowly Away From The Table

It turns out that Mrs. Barakat Sinclair has, like any good politician trying to break into show business, been working the ropes, making friends with the movers and shakers in the party, and contributing to their campaigns. In fact, last year, on December 31, she donated $500 to Mike Coffman's Congressional run, and then was listed on the host committee for a reception last Wednesday night.

Well, she'll have $500 more to spend on her own race, if she chooses, since according to Dustin Zvonek, Coffman's campaign manager, they're returning her contribution.

Apparently, once Mike - a strong supporter of Israel and a US Marine - found out exactly what Rima's primary political activities were prior to running for the state legislature, he decided he really didn't want to have anything to do with her.

Can't say that I blame him. Rather feel that way myself. We'll soon see if the voters in District 6 agree.

March 28, 2008

Barakat Transcript

A number of people have asked for a transcript of the Rima Barakat Channel 4 interview. Here it is. It's not worth Fisking, but it certainly is worth reading. Note how, as she warms to her subject, and realizes that she's not exactly going to be subjected to close questioning, she proceeds from distortion to outright lies.

Mrs. Barakat Sinclair claims she wants a respectful and civil primary. But respectful and civil people don't look others in the eye and lie to them.

Q: First of all what is the problem in the region, (inaudible) the conflict going on in the Middle East right now?

A: It is occupation. The imprisonment of 5 million Palestinians in Gaza and in the West Bank. People there have - literally - very little control over their lives. They cannot go out or come back to their homes without controls (sic) of the Israeli soldiers. Plainly and simply, occupation.

Q: And, did Hamas begin this conflict?

A: Well Hamas is not occupying Israel. They are in Gaza and in the West Bank Israel is the one who is occupying Palestinian land. We have been trying and trying as Palestinian people to resolve this conflict peacefully, also that was we got (unclear) was more and more land-grabbing, more and more of settlement, more and more now with the wall that is encircling towns, literally, literally imprisoning hundreds of thousands of people in Bethlehem, in Ramallah, in Gaza, in Jenin, in Nablus, everywhere. It is really tough life there. I just got back from there two weeks ago, three weeks ago, and we cannot even start to imagine the life they live there.

Q: What is the significance of the hole in the fence between Gaza and Egypt?

A: Well, I assume you're referring to the Rafah crossing, It is the border, it is a very internationally recognized border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Unfortunately, since the beginning of this escalation, over 5000 people are trapped there, usually patients, they went to Egypt for medical services. Till yesterday, six people have died waiting to go home. The are prevented by the Israeli soldiers again, to go home. This type of collective punishment against civilians, is in all conventions, any human right accords, is not just in violation of this, but is also basically immoral.

Q: And is there anything that you'd like us to know that we haven't asked you?

A: Yes. We have to be able as a community, as Americans, as Coloradoans, as Sunni and Shiia, to as first, "What is good for America?" Is it good to, uh for America to be involved, and to be so biased in our approach towards these policies, or is it better for America to have an even-handed approach? There are 10,000 prisoners in Israeli jails, most of whom have been there for years, with no charge, including women and children. Women are giving birth in these jails. Nobody, nobody is listening to the cries of the families. To have an equivalence, the equivalent for population, the impact of 10,000 prisoners would be amounting to about 40,000 people in jail for no reason, no charge.

What the Israeli government is doing is basically following the Saddam Hussein...the Saddam Hussein policies of imprisoning families of people who are wanted in order to get revenge on them or to being them in. That is not right. It is not right anywhere. It is not right in the Jewish religion, it is not right in the Christian religion, it is not right in the Muslim religion. It is just immoral.

Q: Will this get better before it gets worse, or will it get worse before it gets better?

A: Well I try to be always hopeful. It hope that it doesn't get worse. It looks like it will. I think the Israeli leaders, and the military - I'm not even talking about politicians - the military are really acting like the bully in the region. Unfortunately, the Israeli soldiers now are known to be just bombing and killing babies.

In fact, and this is a statistical fact, Shin-Bet, which is the equivalent of the security, institution, I think it is the equivalent of the FBI, has already acknowledged that 80% of the people they killed are civilians have nothing to do with any militant group. They admitted that in 2003, we can imagine the ratio today. And this 80% of the 4000 people that are killed since 2000, in any civilized society they were murdered. 80% they admitted, Shin-Bet, had nothing to do with any militant group. This will give you an idea about how bad the scope of things are in the Palestinian area.

March 19, 2008

Rima's Next Move

So, what to do when you've been exposed as a terror apologist with no discernable conservative record who stands accused of lying her way into the nomination?

Never apologize, never explain.

I'm sure one of the papers - or a whole bunch of nervous supporters - will get a letter explaining how

  1. She really wants to get along (see video below for evidence to the contrary)
  2. She really is pro-life, yes, she really is, despite having wished to a reporter for a pro-choice president in 2004.
    Her evidence for #2 will be to cite Muslim law on the issue, which tends to be pro-life. Fair enough.

And completely irrelevant. Because we're not electing an Imam, as the saying goes, we're electing a state representative.

When John Kerry gave that answer, it didn't help him. Hell, when Jeff Hecht gave that answer at District Assembly, it didn't help him. The only question for pro-lifers that matters is, "What's your public policy position on abortion?" And from that point of view, Rima has exactly one data point and it's not pro-life.

That's how the best ones do it. They look you in the eye, deliver a line that they've justified to themselves, that they know you'll interpret however they like, and then move on. They wouldn't even move the needle on a polygraph.

March 18, 2008

In Stereo and Living Color

Our Friend Rima on CBS 4 News from 2006 during the 2nd Lebanon War. Very illuminating.

March 13, 2008

Islamist Trouble In House District 6

The Republicans in State House District 6 in Denver are about to make a terrible mistake.

At their Assembly on March 1, they nominated a terror apologist, and an avowed enemy of Israel, with no credible conservative credentials as their candidate to succeed Rep. Andrew Romanoff. Her name is Rima Barakat Sinclair.

Mrs. Barakat Sinclair is a local Muslim activist, who 1) works to discredit Israel and for its destruction, 2) has a stated goal of getting Muslims involved in the political process, and 3) builds alliances with mainline and liberal American churches, and leftist political organizations. When engaged in anti-Israel propaganda, she usually goes by Rima Barakat. When engaged in broader political work, she goes by Rima Sinclair, as she did at the Assembly.

When asked questions about terror, she responds with moral equivalence, and then proceeds to outright fabrications. In order to discredit MEMRI, practically the only English-language source covering Arab Friday sermons broadcast on state media, she magnifies small discrepancies into malicious conspiracies. She claimed, on air, that the Hamas Charter does not call for the destruction of Israel.

She doesn't merely write. She acts. John and I asked her about MILA, Muslims Intent on Learning and Action, a group with the potentially laudable purpose of getting Muslims involved in the political process, on Backbone Radio on KNUS, December 3, 2006. Instead of simply answering that the group's purpose was as stated, Mrs. Barakat Sinclair lied, claiming that she was only a member, who showed up to meetings, but otherwise had no position with the group. MILA's own newsletter lists her as a member of the Steering Committee, in charge of PR. Typically a PR Chairman uses opportunities such as free radio to discuss her group's activities, not to avoid doing so.

Her activities may not always have been so benign towards America herself. She served as a translator for CNN during the opening weeks of the Iraq War, a time when American and British soldiers and Marines alike were disgusted by the network's coverage ("A Front-Row Seat to the War in Iraq," Rocky Mountain News - April 14, 2003).

In order to get the nomination, she represented herself at the District Assembly as pro-life. However, she has been quoted publicly contradicting that, "Sinclair, too, shares concerns about homeland security. She also likes parts of the Democrats' social platform. 'I would like to have a president who is pro-choice,' she says."("Colorado Muslims Aspire to Become a Political Force" - Rocky Mountain News - August 14, 2004)

In fact, a Google search for Mrs. Barakat Sinclair turns up no op-ed, letter to the editor, or press release, on any subject other than Israel or the Middle East. While it may be fine to have a cause, this monomaniacism seems to have precluded her from any public statements on issues likely to be of interest to Colorado voters in a state legislative election. There is simply no public evidence of a conservative mindset, however defined, or any evidence that she has thought deeply or even at all about such issues as education, immigration, water, health care, taxes, energy, regulation, or individual liberty.

The irony is that she probably could have gotten on the crowded Democratic ballot merely by being honest. On the Republican side, she had to travel in cognito.

This is going to be a difficult year for Republicans, especially Republicans running in heavily Democrat districts such as the 6th. We should have no illusions about the difficulty of capturing that seat. But we also shouldn't write it off and hand our nomination to someone's identity politics, who has misrepresented her true intentions.

Republicans deserve a candidate who has a coherent conservative philosophical grounding for his policy views. They deserve a candidate who has spent years thinking and writing about relevant issues and governing approaches. Republicans deserve a candidate who is in step with their party's unwavering opposition to radical Islam and support of our democratic ally Israel.

Fortunately, the nomination is not yet set in stone, and there is still a chance to petition a more appropriate candidate onto the ballot.

Such a candidate would be able to help build party strength, keep it viable in a difficult season, promote ideas and philosophies we all care about, and perhaps even help in some small way the candidates for statewide and national office.

What we don't need is a Barakat in Sinclair's clothing.

March 12, 2008

Mark Udall, Natural Gas, Iran, and You

Mark Udall - a good, patriotic American - is a threat to national security.

OK, not all by himself, and not any one of his positions, but as part of a Democratic Senate majority, and as a combination of his policy views.


  1. He has repeatedly opposed expanded gas production on the western slope
  2. He has voted against an additional 700 miles of fencing along our border with Mexico

Why is this a threat to national security? Because Iran is almost certainly plotting to disrupt our supply of natural gas from Mexico, And because they may well be trying to insert operatives directly into the United States.

Todd Bensman of the San Antonio Express-News, wrote the series, "Breaching America," and appeared as a guest on Backbone Radio with John Andrews and me. Well, he's back, with a story about Iran establishing a presence in Nicaragua, now run by Venezuela-friendly and decidedly US-unfriendly Danny Ortega.

Make no mistake, this is no humanitarian mission. This is exactly from the Soviet playbook - promise aid to establish a reason for being there. In this case, the aid amounts to a ridiculously ambitious project with little-to-no economic reason for being. Send a high-level delegation, with ministers of electricity, or whatever, providing cover for intelligence operatives. (Note that one of the delegation members is the Iranian Ambassador to Venezuela, also a likely intelligence agent.)

With completely ineffective border security, the Iranians will soon be in terrific position to start slipping agents across borders. And there aren't a whole lot of borders between Managua and El Paso.

More immediately, they may already have tried to blow up the main Mexican pipeline. Or, they may have gotten the idea from that attempt, and want to do it right this time.

If it were an oil pipeline, it might matter less. Oil is easily shipped all over the world, so there's a world market for it. Natural gas is difficult and expensive to ship across oceans, and the US has also resisted building LNG terminals. This means that there is, at best, a continental market for natural gas. And it also means that the best defense against any disruption in supply is...a good, reliable, local supply.

Mark Udall's policies leave us both more vulnerable to an attack, and more vulnerable to the effects of that attack.

February 6, 2008

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

You know, if the Democrats actually cared about the homeless as something other than a political bludgeon, they'd stop trying to create more of them.

Just as New York is phasing out a 60-year experiment in rent control, Democrats on the House Committee for Local Government are proposing to let local governments here try it. I know it's a basic principle of history that nobody ever learns anything, but really, people, nobody's memory is that short.

As with most populist measures, predicated on the notion that I can get the government to get someone else to pay my bills for me, this scheme would only prolong the pain. By keeping rents down, mortgages would have to decline more to reach the historic averages. And with more people selling, and fewer places for them to move into, well, they'd either have to move farther out, or find a bridge with indoor plumbing.

All together now: subsidies create surpluses, price controls create shortages. There's no shortage of gasoline, because the price floats. There is a shortage of gasoline at $1 a gallon. There's also a shortage of bread at 10 cents a loaf, and Maseratis at $5000. Rent controls create housing shortages, because developers aren't willing to build as many apartment complexes when they'll make less money on them. Rent controls reduce the return on such a project, and make other projects more attractive by comparison.

There's never a good time for this sort of intervention, but right now, what's driving it is the number of foreclosures, and thus the number of people involuntarily entering the rental market, driving up rents at the same time that housing prices fall. Now one way to measure how out of whack the housing market had gotten is to compare rents to mortgages. Nationally, mortgages were 43% higher than they should have been, given historical averages. So some combination of house price declines and rent increases is necessary to get the market back into whack.

The irony is that, as bad as things are here compared to 2006, they're not that bad compared to the rest of the country, contrary to what you might have read. The Wall Street Journal shows that Denver's housing inventory actually decreased 3.8% compared to last year, one of only two markets to show a decline. We have 5.7 months supply on hand, tied for fourth-best in the nation, and prices declined a modest 1.8% year-over-year (6th-best nationally, with the 3rd-lowest decline). Denver's 3.71% delinquency rate is below the national average of 3.98%.

All of which means that, while there might seem to be enough of a glut now to absorb any price controls, in fact, we're likely to start feeling that pain a lot sooner than we think.

Even the bill's prime sponsor, Rep. Weissmann, admits that rent control is a "failed economic policy," but puts forth his measure as a nod to local zoning control. But every Democrat on the committee voted for it, save one (who's married to a landlord and developer, so she rightfully recused herself). Makes you wonder exactly what political forces pushed the House leadership to bring this thing to committee.

Progressively more intrusive. Progressively more expensive. Progressively more restrictive.

February 5, 2008

Caucus Night

A word to the wise know-it-alls who run the Denver Republican Party.

Organize. A little.

For one thing, please try to hold the caucuses in a place where there's some parking. Secondly, the Hillary! posters on the outside of the hall were cute, perhaps a reminder of why we were all there. Oh, we got a better turnout than we did two years ago - my precinct showed 8 voters, compared to 3 in 2006. But then, Denver Republicans are a somewhat, anyway.

But of the 8 people there, I was the only one who had gone through the process before, and I was the only one who even vaguely understood what the hell we were voting for, and only then because Dick Wadhams was on the show Sunday night explaining it. I'm still not sure I understand the multi-county vs. single-county State Representative and State Senate Assemblies.

There was absolutely no reason why someone didn't stand up on the stage and explain to the assembled the three-tiered Assembly system, and what the Presidential Preference Poll actually meant. The only reason was that the County party seemingly sent exactly one District official, who was clearly overworked.

You want to build the party? Use the caucuses as a chance to educate those who are there about this 19-Century process we continue to use. I have no objections to using it, but when you leave those who do bother to show up confused and unsure what they just voted for, you're guaranteeing they won't come back next time. By turning what should be an exercise in party-building into an exercise in frustration, the party missed yet another critical opportunity to engage what should be its most active supporters.

November 8, 2007

Free Trade Advances

With the support of all seven of Colorado's representatives (must be those multinationals based in Bailey and the money-center banks headquartered in Grand Junction), the House voted last night to extend NAFTA rules to Peru.

This is a good thing for both the US and for Peru, for a variety of reasons. Peruvian goods basically flow freely into the US, the deal does more to lower Peruvian barriers to US goods than the other way around. It helps serve as a counter-weight to Chavezism-Castroism in Latin America, although some people have never forgiven them for defeating Shining Path. It draws Peru more tightly into US economic orbit. Their #2 trading partner is China, so unless you're expecting to see some of that wealth circle around in the form of campaign contributions, strategically it's probably better to have them trading with us.

From Peru's point of view, their economy is miniscule compared to the US, about 1.5% of our GDP. So anything that helps boost their economy will disproportionately help lift their people out of poverty. Our total trade deficit with Peru is $3 billion annually (or about $1.2 billion at the official exchange rate). Hardly something to be scared of.

Unions Make Inroads

Last week, at 3:00 on Friday, Governor Bill Ritter signed an executive order essentially unionizing state government employees. Government employees comprise an ever-growing percentage of union employees nationwide, since absent slashed tires and sniper rifles, nobody else seems to want to join.

The right to strike as an individual is virtually meaningless. The right to strike as a part of a union, in order to gain benefits under collective bargaining, is significantly more powerful. If such a right exists by Colorado Supreme Court decisions, then it cannot be overturned or even limited by note in an executive order. Such a note amounts to little more than a plea for AFSCME not to strike, at least not now, when it would be embarassing. Especially if you can't confine it to the Friday evening news cycle.

The union would be able to negotiate with the state government as a whole, or with individual agency heads. The incentive here is to pick the agency head deemed most congenial (or potentially most hostage) to their interests, and negotiate a deal to be used as a "model" for deals with other agencies. This is the pattern that the UAW has used in Detroit, with an auto industry that is obviously thriving under the arrangement.

The results of such negotiations would then make their way into the state budget proposals. With the Democrats owing their majority to carefully extorted bundled union money, how likely do you think it is they'll turn down their friends? And when control of the state legislature reverts to Republican control, very likely the first thing they'll face is the threat of a strike. That is, assuming that the legislature hasn't agreed to binding arbitration by then.

Make no mistake, this is a payoff to the union interests which increasingly dictate Democratic politics in this state and across the country. And they're being paid off with your money.

Progressively More Poor. Progressively Less Free.

October 17, 2007

Follow The Money

The latest federal campaign fundraising numbers are in, and at least as far as Colorado goes, they don't hold a lot of surprises, although they do help explain Mark Udall's and Ken Salazar's bizarre behavior in regards to the smear of Rush Limbaugh.

According to the FEC numbers, Obama has outraised Clinton in every three-digit zip code grouping that they share, and is way ahead in the lucrative 803xx grouping, which includes Boulder. There, he leads almost $370,000 to just over $130,000. Even in the more mainline city of Denver area (802xx) Obama has outraised Norman Hsu Hillary, $300K to $140K.

One the Republican side, Romney leads Giuliani, a testament to his high-powered fundraising team, which includes Bruce Benson and other traditional Republican luminaries. Giuliani leads in the Western Slope, with Romney well ahead in Douglas, Elbert, and Arapahoe Counties, and the two basically even in Denver.

But the numbers in Boulder explain a lot. This is the home of the most rabidly anti-War, invested-in-defeat, environmentally radical Democrats in the state. In the 803xx zipcode group, Democrats outraised Republicans $570K to $68K. These are the guys who are calling the shots in state Democratic politics, having decisively put the more labor-oriented Pueblo Democrats in the back seat.

It explains Governor Ritter's impending sellout of affordable energy in the state. It explains Ken Salazar and Mark Udall - both either holding or running for statewide office - jumping on the chance to lie about Rush Limbaugh's comments on his radio show, and an attempt to corral the power of the Congress into doing the same. (It also explains John Salazar's sponsorship of the Stolen Valor Bill, which according to the Sorosians, addresses a problem that doesn't exist, although it might be embarassing for Tom Harkin.)

As someone once said about the Republican version of Hillary Clinton, follow the money.

September 19, 2007

Profligacy Tax Calculator

Mayor Hickenlooper wants more of your money. How much more? Well, based on a conversation with the city Auditor's office this morning, and reports in various news outlets, I've come up with the following handy-dandy Mill Levy and Bond Issue Profligacy calculator:
Actual Valuation: $
Assessed Valuation: $
Current Tax: $
Mill Levy Tax Hike: $
Bond Issue Questions  
Question 2: Refurbishing Buildings $70.1 million
Question 3: Health and Human Services $48.6 million
Question 4: Parks and Recreation Centers $93.4 million
Question 5: Public Safety $65.2 million
Question 6: Streets, Transportation and Public Works $149.8 million
Question 7: Libraries $51.9 million
Question 8: Cultural Facilities $70.0 million
Bond Issue Total: $ million
In Excess of Bonding Authority: $ million
Profligacy Tax: $

September 9, 2007

Down The Memory Hole

Never's a long time, but, "Never Enough" seems appropriate for the state Democrats and their enablers over at the Denver Post. This morning, the paper's Local & Western Politics Blog runs an uncritical story about the desire of state Democrats to raise taxes again ("Seventeen tax proposals under discussion in Colorado").

The two liberal groups quoted, the Bell Policy Center and the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, are not identified as such. Members of Bell campagned with Ref C supporters a couple of years ago. And the CFPI's parent institute, the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, describes its mission as: "The Colorado Center on Law and Policy's mission is to promote justice and economic security for all Coloradans, particularly lower income people. CCLP advocates on behalf of the the poor, working poor and other vulnerable populations though legislative, administrative and legal advocacy." My guess is you'll find about as many free-market types there as you'd find Republicans in CU's Ethnic Studies faculty.

Meanwhile, they quote House Minority Leader Mike May, briefly suggesting other revenues, and former Republican Senator Hank Brown, now Presdient of CU, crying poor for the University again.

House Speaker Andrew Romanoff is given whole paragraphs (and backing by Bell's "outreach director," to make his case for suspending constitutional restrictions in order to overhaul the state's tax code. Naturally, the fact that he won't discuss the nature of that overhaul in advance of voters approving the suspension goes unnoticed.

Also unnoticed is the fact of Referendum C, and the fact that tax revenues, far exceeding proponents' projections, aren't being used as promised. CFPI is full of dire claims for Colorado spending:

The state ranks 49th in the amount it spends per capita covering low-income families on Medicaid. It is 48th in state spending for higher education, 39th in state highway spending per capita and in the bottom third in per-capita investment in K-12 education, according to the institute.

Remember, these are the same folks who brought you the debunked claim (parrotted in at least 49 other states), that Colorado ranked 49th in state spending on education. Needless to say, these claims also go unchallenged.

Well, at least now we know their platform and talking points.

June 17, 2007

Sauce For the Gander

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit Readers! Thanks for coming, and have a look around the rest of the place.

By now, you've probably heard about the trial balloon Green Program that Mayor Hickenlooper has been spending his time on. Good to know that the next elections will run smoothly, the snow will be picked up efficiently, that traffic lights will be timed non-randomly, and that 8th Avenue between Speer and the viaduct won't need a 4WD vehicle to navigate. (The poor Prii that Mayor Hickenlooper wants to populate the streets of Denver with would be rattled apart on that stretch of road.)

The Mayor wants to have insurance companies charge drivers with long commutes more for their insurance (they do already), to have those who use more natural gas to heat their homes pay more for the right (they do already), to give preferential parking to Prii, and to force new housing to be green.

Ah, the Nanny State! So here are few suggestions that our elected officials should certainly be willing to go along with:

  1. There shall be no use of private jets for official travel when commercial service is available; this is a purely green idea.
  2. Reiumbursement for auto travel on official business for all city employees shall be based on the cost-per-mile of the highest-mileage car available on the market.
  3. There shall be no reimbursement for parking at DIA, or for mileage driven to DIA; employees will be reimbursed for the cost of using public transportation to get to and from the airport
  4. City government parking lots, used by city government workers, shall also set aside an increasing number of slots for hybrid and E-85 cars.
  5. Since timely maintenance saves gas, all elected official shall be required to report what cars are used in their households, and to maintain on file with the city up-to-date maintenance records
  6. Since driving uses less gas than idling, the city shall be required to conduct a comprehensive review of its traffic light timing, and to re-time the lights in the most efficient manner

February 14, 2007

Colorado's Kelo

Only without the attractive plaintiffs, which is why this probably won't get the attention it deserves. From the Denver Business Journal (paid subscription required):

The University of Colorado still is wading through a legal morass at its Ninth Avenue and Colorado Boulevard campus that must be resolved before a major in-town retail and residential project can move forward.

CU, which is moving its Health Sciences Center to its new campus at Fitzsimons in Aurora, is using eminent domain powers to condemn a portion of the land at Ninth and Colorado. Condemnation may be necessary to clear the title to part of the 32-acre campus before it can be sold to Shea Properties, which has been chosen to develop the site east of downtown Denver.


The Bonfils family donated the land at 9th and Colorado on the condition that it be used for health or medical purposes. Now that the multiple hospitals there are relocating to the old Fitzsimmons Army base, that land is supposed to be redeveloped. Whatever you may say about the residential/retail complex - and it's probably going to be very nice - it's not medical or health purposes. So the Bonfils family is negotiating for fair value for their land.

But CU can use eminent domain to take the land if they want. This is exactly the Kelo situation, except that the people who are losing the land aren't middle-class families born in their homes, but a relatively wealthy trust. This should, of course, make absolutely no difference. And it's supposed to be prohibited by statute, right former Governor Owens? Which is why you didn't press for a state Constitutional amendment to prevent this sort of wealth transfer, right, former Governor Owens?

Someone needs to ask Governor Ritter and Attorney General Suthgers whether the state has the right to condemn private property and turn it over for private development.

The answer is supposed to be, "no."

January 14, 2007

Water, Water Everywhere

Since all this snow started (and we got a little more today), I've been asking when we'll see the newspaper articles reminding us that it doesn't really help us all that much.

If you had today in the pool, you won!

The Denver Post reminds us that just because we have lots of water, that doesn't mean that we really have lots of water:

"If there were no more storms for this area, we'd probably be better off than we were during some of the worst drought years, but it doesn't exactly keep us out of the woods," he said.

For big metropolitan water users, the snow that's fallen across the Front Range over the past month doesn't guarantee summertime water supplies. Spring snows are more of a boon because they replenish reservoirs drawn down during winter months, water managers say.

When we get those spring snows, I'm sure the Post will explain that it's great that all those new canal and riverboat services have started, but that we're facing an uncertain fall.

All of which means that rain comes where and when you least expect it, so they best thing to do is to have lots and lots of new reservoirs ready and waiting for it. So of course, that's why the Post and the Democrats opposed Referendum A a couple of years back, which would have built just those.

The argument at the time was that the governor's bill wasn't specific enough, and certainly the Governor Bill obliged by specifically failing to try again - ever. If anything signifies the lack of confidence Owens had under the surface, the water issue was it. The left tries referendum after referendum, rewording them until either the voters or the courts agree. Owens shrugged his shoulders and moved on to raising my taxes.

Now, we'll probably be informed that all the best spots for reservoirs just happen to be in the way of wind farm proposals.

January 12, 2007

Salazar on Ethics

So apparently, Senator Salazar, coming as he does from the hog farming part of the state, is a fan of pork. The Senator joined Senator Majority Leader Harry "Oooooh, that land deal" Reid and most of the rest of his caucus in voting against Sen. Jim DeMint's tougher definition of earmarks:

The measure, an amendment to an ethics and lobbying bill, would have adopted a wider definition of "earmarks," specific projects inserted in bills, to include Corps of Engineer water projects, Pentagon weapon systems and items from other federal entities.

The language favored by Reid would require disclosure of only targeted funds directed to nonfederal entities such as city parks, state universities and private contractors. Reid crafted the ethics bill with Republican leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., but McConnell supported Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., the sponsor of the legislation, on the earmarks issue.

"If we're going to go through all this process, if we're going to change the laws and try to tell the American people that now you can see what we're doing, let's don't try to pull the wool over their eyes," DeMint said.

Makes sense to me, but apparently not to our junior senator.

Amusingly, the AP continues its run of innumeracy. The article states that 7 Republicans voted against DeMint, when in fact, only 5 did so. The 46 votes against came from 49 Democrats, minus the 9 defectors, plus 5 Republicans and 1 Indpendent, Bernie Sanders of Vermont. The AP writer probably did the arithmetic in his head, trying to back out the number of Republicans, rather than actually looking at the roll call tally as he did for the Democrats. I don't suppose there's bias in the difference between 5 and 7 Republican defectors, just laziness.

January 11, 2007

Well, They Had to Meet Somewhere

It's official. The 2008 Democratic Convention will be here in Denver. Apparently unfazed by a city in which the ubiquity of Wal Mart is matched only by the lack of union hotels, Hillary, Howard, and the whole motley crew are preparing to descend on us sometime next August.

For those interested, there will be a house available just for that week, at an attractive weekly rate. It's only 15 mins. from downtown driving, and on several major bus lines. Applications are being accepted now.

January 9, 2007


So tell me, when exactly did Denver turn into Narnia? This Friday's scheduled snowstorm has been scaled back to 6", courtesy of some arctic air that's apparently going to stick around for some weekend skiing. Normally, this stuff melts off, but with the bulldozers piling it up in the streets, some of the ice hills around Crestmoor Park will be there until March.

Of course, none of this would be happening if we had signed Kyoto.

Fortunately, my Dad was able to drive back to Geo'gia before the wind swept across Broomfield, turning Boulder into an island. We drove up to Boulder, and then into the foothills near Ward and Nederland on Sunday, and the wind was blurring the mountains even at a distance. Yesterday, it slid down the foothills onto the front range and closed down US-36. I've seen this effect from an office in Broomfield before, and it's pretty spectacular.

The other frightful event today was the swearing in of Bill Ritter as governor. I wish him well, really, and I think he's more of the Romanoff mold than the Fitzgerald. This isn't a day for sourness; it's a day to note that we can have a peaceful transfer of power from one party to the other, and not have half the counties in the state setting up roadblocks and designing uniforms. The color may be blue, but for a long while yet, the institutions are still strong.

November 6, 2006

Campaign Ads: Sources & Incoherence

It's never too late to beat up on the other side's campaign ads. Angie Paccione has been running ads claiming that Marilyn Musgrave is the "13th most corrupt member of Congress." The source for this startling-if-true claim is flashed up on the screen for fewer frames than "RATS," the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW. This is roughly equivalent to Keith Ellison sourcing the UN for his campaign information on Israel.

The second ad isn't dishonest so much as desperate. Ed Perlmutter claims that "Rick O'Donnell wanted to send 75,000 more troops to Iraq," thus making him, as Imus would say, George Bush's butt-boy on the issue. Given that both Bush and Rumsfeld have been arguing for years (incorrectly, I increasingly think) that we don't need any more troops in Iraq, that the military doesn't want any more troops in Iraq, and that we don't really have any more to put there even if we did want more there, this hardly makes O'Donnell simpatico with the administration on the question.

More than that, it shows the Dems' strategy in broad bold colors: nationalize the election by making it about Iraq, then pick whichever local strategy is likely to be more popular. In the 7th, argue for cut-and-run. Elsewhere, argue that we don't have enough troops there. The problem with this cognitive dissonance is that while it may be a recipe for nominal electoral success, it's hardly a recipe for a coherent policy, much less a successful one. When the both-feeters find themselves in caucus with the cut-and-runners, either one side or another or neither will have to win. I suppose they'll try to continue to ride the issue, crying to Charlie Rose that their majority isn't enough to overcome Republican intransigence on the issue.

One hopes the administration calls the Dems' bluff by quoting all those lefties who've said we need more troops, planting another 500,000 over there, and pointing them eastwards.

October 30, 2006

Property Rights

The Taylor Ranch controversy is one of those nasty points of intersection between economics, politics, and the judiciary. In 2002, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that a series of landowners who border the Taylor Ranch had the right to continue doing what they had been doing for about 150 years, namely, freeloading off the Taylor Ranch resources. We had the chance to interview Dick Johnston, author of The Taylor Ranch War, which follows the 40-year (!) series of lawsuits required to resolve this issue.

In essence, the court ruled that the communal rules of the original Mexican land grant from the 1830s and 1840s overrode the American notion of exclusive use.

It hadn't occurred to me before, but is it possible that communal property right could be an answer to the question, "Why is Mexico so poor?"

October 27, 2006

The Last Four Digits

Mike Coffman has been airing radio ads discussing how easy it is to register to vote, noting that you only need to provide the last four digits of a Social Security number, any Social Security number. There's a certain risk in broadcasting how easy registration fraud is to commit, especially for a Republican. You wouldn't necessarily want to run those ads on stations with lots of unregistered, left-leaning listeners. They might decide to exercise that ability in order to protect it.

Ken Gordon apparently has been running whimsical ads obliquely promoting campaign finance reform. It looks as though the choice will be between restricting free speech and protecting ballot integrity.

October 24, 2006

There Are Whistleblowers We Like...

...and those we don't. In the < I>Denver Post's case, they don't llike whistleblowers who leak to Republican campaigns. Of course, they're more than happy to report on the reaction of the Perlmutter campaign to a story planted by that campaign in the Post itself.

The Post ridicules Beauprez's claim that his source is courageous, even as it campaigns for federal shield laws for journalists. It states that Beauprez's source leaked for partisan political purposes, even as it defends the New York Times for publishing information that's likely to get Americans killed, in pursuit of its own political agenda.

Someone needs to remind the Post that "freedom of the press" is a right reserved to all the people, for all political speech, not just to newspapers.

In the meantime, I'm sure the paper will make much of this report by Reporters Without Borders, with the absurd claim that press freedom is eroding in the US:

"Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of 'national security' to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his 'war on terrorism,' " the group said.

"The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 U.S. states, refuse to recognize the media's right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism," the group said.

The fact that relations between an administration and a partisanly hostile MSM have deteriorated is no evidence at all of actual curtailment of press freedom. At this point, the only journalists to serve time in a terrorism-related case did so because of an investigation initiated at the behest of the newspaper that published them. If RWB really believes that the administration has conducted some sort of war against hostile journalists, they've been toting more than laptops back from Columbia. (I would note the scare quotes around War on Terrorism, except that RWB might accuse me of censorship.)

October 18, 2006

Ben's Ballot

RMA blogger Ben DeGrow has compiled a sample ballot, for handy use in the voting booth on 11/7. Of course, given the hysterics from some quarters, you'd think the voting machines were programmed to download it directly from his site.

October 12, 2006

Gotcha Politics in the Colorado 7th

Sure looks that way. The Denver Post this morning essentially accused Republican candidate for Colorado's 7th District Congressional seat of unethical - or at least hypocritical behavior - for accepting a weekend trip to Panama:

Republican congressional candidate Rick O'Donnell, who has blasted politicians who accept perks, took an expenses-paid trip to Panama with his girlfriend arranged by a TV station doing business with a state agency he headed.

O'Donnell took the trip three weeks before he resigned as the head of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education to campaign for Congress full time.

KCNC-Channel 4 gave him the trip, paid for by the CBS network, after the commission purchased television ads encouraging Latinos to attend college, O'Donnell said. Such perks - called incentive trips in the industry - are commonly used for heavy advertisers.

O'Donnell said he did nothing wrong.

This has all the hallmarks of a typical Denver Post election-year hit piece on a Republican. The trip took place over Super Bowl weekend, the first weekend in February, over 8 months ago, a fact which is deliberately obscured in the reporting.

The boilerplate, "O'Donnell said he did nothing wrong," tries to cover for the reporter's lack of due diligence on whether or not he actually did do something wrong. Since Ace here couldn't be bothered to read the code of ethics himself, he could have at least asked one of the experts that journalists are supposed to keep on call for just such a contingency.

In fact, I just spoke with the O'Donnell campaign's Communications Director Jonathan Tee, and he pointed out that the decision to advertise on CBS came about as a result of a consultant's recommendation. The consultant - whose contract was let by competitive bid - concluded that the best way to reach the young, male, Latino target demographic was through Broncos games. In order for there to be a quid pro quo, O'Donnell would have had to rig the bid process, so as to choose a consultant likely to recommend CBS's local affiliate for the ad run. All that for a weekend trip to go see the Canal.

The timing of the release suggests a number of questions, none of which are answered in the report:

  • When did the former commission employee tell the Perlmutter campaign about the trip?
  • Why did the employee not go to the ethics board, if there were a problem?
  • Was the employee "former" at the time he coordinated with the campaign?
  • Was the employee a political employee or civil service?
  • Did the communication take place from his office, or from a government office?
  • When did the Perlmutter campaign inform the reporter about the trip?
  • Why dd the Perlmutter campaign not simply issue a press release?
  • When did the reporter follow up on the tip?
  • When did the reporter ask the O'Donnell campaign about the trip?

At least one question answers itself: the employee didn't go to the ethics board because there was no ethical vioation. Come to think of it, all of the "whys" pretty much answer themselves, don't they?

Don't hold your breath waiting for Perlmutter or the Post to answer the others, though.

September 20, 2006

Owens the Party Builder

No, he doesn't get all the blame. But he was sure quick to assert his prerogatives when intervening in the party's nominating process this year. Here's the Republican share of the aggregate vote for State House of Representatives since 1996:

Notice a pattern? There's a slight rise in 2000, probably because of the Presidential election, but this is a governor without coattails. The 2004 win by the Dems was exaggerated by the Four Horsemen, but this was seizing an opportunity as much as anything else. I'll repeat: Owens at the state level has been to the Republicans what the Clintons are to Democrats nationally: very good for himself, very bad for the party.

September 19, 2006

DeGette on Earmarks

As noted last week, my Congresscreature, Diana DeGette, voted against earmark reform in the House. Despite her opposition, the resolution passed, so with a couple of exceptions, anonymous earmarks are dead in the House.

I called her DC office to ask why, and one of her aides, Mr. Andrew Ginsberg, called back today. I'm happy to report that he was courteous, helpful, and responsive. What he had to say, I was a lot less happy with.

When I ask why she had voted against the rule change, he gave two arguments. First, it didn't do enough, like H.Res.659 and HR4682, both of which she supported. But both of those bills are huge, omnibus bills, seeking to address all sorts of rules problems, real and imagined. Sinking legislation you don't like by adding parts to add opponents is one of the oldest tricks in the parliamentary book. When the Republicans, wanted to pass reforms in 1995 per the "Contract With America," they passed each rule change on a separate vote, getting different majorities for each measure.

Voting against a measure you support because you can't get fifteen other measures is either not believable or petulent.

The other reason was that not all earmarks would be included. For instance, only bills reported out of committee fall under the new rules, and only tax earmarks which apply to one person would apply. But almost all spending legislation originates in committee, certainly all appropriations bills do. Most legislation that tries to originate on the House floor gets referred to committee, since the chairmen wouldn't have it any other way. And in any case, the author of the bill, or of the floor-offered amendment (another exception), knows what's in his bill or amendment, and who proposed it, so there's an address to go to there. Tax earmarks are another story, but an earmark for a large corporation - an example offered by Mr. Ginsberg - would almost certainly benefit or shareholders in many states. An individual's tax earmark is exactly the kind of thing most likely to be proposed by a representative who would be embarassed by the revelation.

We'll see if Mrs. DeGette lets the best become the enemy of the good when it's stem cell research that's up for debate.

As for specific earmarks, it turns out that Cong. DeGette is responsible for at least $600,000 in anonymous earmarks coming back to Denver. These include:

$200,000 for Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, for a naturally occurring retirement communities demonstration project.

I have no idea what this means. "Naturally occurring retirement communities." What, do they put a bunch of 60-year-olds in caves? They need $200,000 for blasting? Actually, it seems to mean what happens when all the kids at Wisteria Lane grow up and move out, and the families don't want to leave. For some reason, Jewish Family Services seems to be a leader in this nationally.

$150,000 to the City of Denver for housing assistance, mentoring, and other services for homeless families and seniors
Hospice of Metro Denver, for the Life Quality Institute
$150,000 to the Denver Rescue Mission for transitional housing for the homeless

Look, all of this is worthy stuff, but it's $600,000. If every man, woman, and child in the city of Denver gave a dollar, the Federal government wouldn't need to be involved in this at all. I don't want to revisit Referendum C, but why is it any better to have these guys hiring lobbyists to beg for them that to run ads and make their case to the people whose support they profess to have?

When asked why these requests were made anonymously, Mr. Ginsberg replied that, well, that's how earmark requests are made, and that there's no process for attaching a Rep's name to an earmark. Well, there is now. And before, these requests could always be offered as amendments.

So here's a question for you. If Mrs. DeGette ends up in the majority, will she vote to roll back this rule change before or after she proposes her still-unpassable omnibus reform bill? And will either of the papers report on it?

September 15, 2006

Dueling Party Websites

The state Republicans have finally got their site up. No doubt, they'll tell me that it was only down a couple of days, that I just happened to catch it while it was down, that the new site is much better, and that I should stop griping. All of the premises are true, but I'd still argue with the conclusion. Extra pit-stops never won anyone a race.

The site still says that there's something new coming, and I hope that has something to do with, oh, candidates. Right now, there's still nothing on the front page that even suggests that there are Republicans running for office this fall. Both of the news headlines are about Ritter, and there's no link to candidates or their websites.

This may be because the Party is concerned about a Common Cause (as in, "make common cause with the Democrats") lawsuit if they're seen as colluding with the candidates. But the Dems have such a link on their page, and sych links are indispensible on the national Senate, House, and RNC pages. Even supposing such a lawsuit were to be feared - and I think it's the headlines that scare more than the suit - the Party should be ready to fight back with suits of their own. Certainly if we can find Republicans willing to sue other Republicans during the primary process, and Republican lawers willing to represent them, we can find Republicans wiling to file countersuits in order to protect the Party's legal rights.

In the meantime, the page is an ad for outgoing officeholders in the middle of an election season.

September 13, 2006

Colorado GOP Under Destruction

I don't think I've seen anything implode this quickly since they set charges to the Kingdome. The latest tactical brilliance comes from the state GOP's website. Here it is:

I mean, here's the entire website.

Yes that's right. In the middle of a statewide election campaign, sitting one seat away from the Senate and a list of Democratic vulnerables away from the House, with redistricting on the line in the governor's race, and Democratic Secretary of State now a real possibility, the state GOP has decided that now would be a good time to take down the website. The filename of the graphic is "cologopundercon," but perhaps "cologopunderground" would be more appropriate.

You don't just decide to redo the website in the middle of the fall campaign on a lark. This kind of incompetence takes lots of planning. The election's been on the calendar since the founding of the Republic. Either the party planned to roll out a site - and therefore be offline - long before September, or Owens and Benson just did their best Mickey Rooney - Judy Garland impersonation. "Hey, whadday say we go out to the web and put up a site?" News flash: the time to figure out rebranding isn't when everyone's looking.

As long as free-spending Bruce Benson is turning into the Peter Angelos of American politics, you'd think he could find a little spare change for a web design firm. On the other hand, that might encourage people to give money. One way to look like the big fish is to shrink the pond.

August 28, 2006

Coffman for Secretary of State

Outgoing State Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon has vocally supported an attempt to repeal the Electoral College by circumventing the amendment process. In this morning's Wall Street Journal, former Delaware governor Pete DuPont explains why this is a terrible idea:

Might not "one person, one vote" allow a national vote to amend the Constitution instead of requiring approval by three-quarters of the states? To restrict freedom of speech, or expand searches and seizures, or modify any of the Bill of Rights?

One wonders if the direct election of presidents is really the beginning of an effort to bring national government under the control of large and liberal states. Common Cause, a Washington-based lobbying group that describes itself as "promoting open, honest and accountable government," argues "how neatly it fits with American tradition." But it doesn't. It contradicts our constitutional republic's state and federal government sharing of powers. Choosing presidents is one of our states' powers, and we should not remove it to begin a centralized national American government.

Ken Gordon appreciates neither the traditions of the country, nor the proper role of the office he seeks. Help Mike Coffman keep this critical office in Republican hands.

August 23, 2006

Beauprez & Business

The Beauprez camp sent out a press release that includes the following:

"Will Bill Ritter veto legislation that weakens Colorado's tort environment, making it easier for lawsuit abuse to hurt Colorado business?

"Will Bill Bitter veto legislation that mandates large (or small) business to spend a stipulated percentage of their revenue on providing healthcare to employees?

"Will Bill Ritter veto legislation that makes it easier for an All-Union Agreement to be forced upon an employer?

"Will Bill Ritter veto legislation that liberalizes Colorado's Workers Comp laws?"

I sure as hell hope this is an attempt to court small business at the wholesale level, because if I'm one of those Chamber of Commerce Republicans who's been hanging around with Blair Richardson, I look at that list and think, "hmmm...barriers to entry...EX-cellent. Smithers, get me Ritter."

UPDATE: And upon further reflection, if I'm Beauprez, I'm thinking that Marc Holtzman's rolodex looks pretty good right about now.

Janet Rowland

We interviewed Janet Rowland, Bob Beauprez's Lt. Gov. choice, on the show Sunday night, and I have to say, she came off extremely well. Naturally, she had the right demographics: woman, blonde, middle-aged, Western slope. But she also got all the talking points right, never stumbled, hit the post twice when she knew we were short on time.

One of the problems with late-in-life politicians is the lack of "seasoning," not having trained themselves to self-censor a little bit. Usually this happens either early on, robbing the candidate of credibility, or the third week in October, so the candidate catches his foot on the chalk at the finish line. Mrs. Rowland still has plenty of time to let fly with one of those candid comments the press loves so much, but the preliminary tests are encouraging, as the pharmas say.

She took the chance to point out differences between Barbara O'Brien and herself, and put the "barnyard" comment in context. Lest anyone think she isn't right about this, the Weekly Standard just this week wrote about the polygamy-to-polyamory lobby. Liberals and leftists (and their fellow travellers, this means you, Mr. Duffy) will sneer at the thought that this is the agenda, but their either being naive or disingenuous. And Jim Spencer (hat tip: To The Right) can talk about state law all he wants. When the Supreme Court decides to change it at its will, he'll be the loudest one cheering.

All the more reason to make sure that it's a Republican appointing the next set of justices.

August 10, 2006

Primary Cliffhangers

Spencer Swalm has been declared the winner in the House 37 race. This can only be a good thing. After all, Betty Ann voted against the tax increase before she voted for it.

And Dan Kopelman has pulled to within 33 votes out of 24,800 cast for Arapahoe County Treasurer. There will have to be a recount there, but it's still excruciating.

August 8, 2006

Primary Night

UPDATE 3: WIth about 3/5 of the vote in, Spencer is edging ahead of Betty Ann. With who knows how much of Arapahoe counted, Dan is within 83 votes of the lead. And with just over 1/3 of his precincts counted, Matt is starting to open a little daylight between himself and Candy Figa.

UPDATE 2: One other race where I've got a sporting interest is the Arapahoe County Treasurer, where my friend Dan Kopelman is running. So far, with almost none of the vote counted, he's down by 129 votes.

UPDATE: Clay reminds me that I'm an idiot. Of course, it's Spencer Swalm.

In four races in which I can't vote, I'm currently running 4-for-5. Hank Johnson took Cynthia McKinney to the woodshed, so to speak, with the voters in my parents' Congressional district apparently deciding that she was too much of an embarassment for them. Again.

Jeff Crank is leading in Colorado's 5th. I can't say I know a ton about the race, but a lot of the right people are supporting Crank, including the local Club for Growth.

Last year's LPR graduate Steve Swalm is beating this year's graduate Betty Ann Habig, with two precincts reporting.

Matt Dunn, another LPR grad and former holder of my seat on Sunday nights, is ahead of Candy Figa (which the Rocky spelled as "Fig") with one precinct reporting.

The only loser is Joe Lieberman. I met Joe personally at the shul we both attended in DC, although he wouldn't remember me. He was a nice guy, who show up at shul to pray, not to gladhand for political support. The world changed there a little bit when he got the VP nomination in 2000, but from all reports, Lieberman didn't big-time anyone during the run.

Sean Hannity's assertion that this is good for conservatives notwithstanding, I think this is a terrible outcome. Perhaps it helps out in the Hosue races in Connecticut. But it energizes a lunatic fringe of the Democratic party, and such movements have a way of being emboldened by this sort of momentum.

Hannity takes it for granted that people will be able to distinguish between the Tom Hayden clones, and the more responsible doubters of the war's conduct. I'm not sure, especially with a media disinclined to draw such distinctions. I'm afraid it will scare even more Republicans into going wobbly on the war effort, at a time when we need to stand together to deal with Iran.

The Democrats have shown exactly zero inclination to take national defense seriously. This sort of a win telegraphs to them that they don't need to.

June 23, 2006

The Governor, the Tsar, and the Duchess

So with the Democrats stamping their feet and threatening to hold their breath until they turn - er - blue, Governor Owens found time to meet with them yesterday about the proposed immigration special session. Since the Republicans are backing the governor on this one, the Dems really have no leverage. They'd need 15 Republicans to support their call rather than the governor's and that's not going to happen.

The Dems, in the meantime, sound less than sincere in their discomfort with the Court's decision:

Fitz-Gerald questioned whether the legislature has the authority to overturn a court decision. She said she didn't think it was the legislature's role to rubber-stamp flawed ballot questions.

No word on what she thinks of flawed Supreme Court decisions. In a statement that was in the initial Rocky report last night, but later edited out, Romanoff said that they could spend all summer overturning State Supreme Court decisions they didn't like.

So which is it, guys? You don't have the authority, or you don't like the idea?

Since the call defines the parameters of the special session, Owens ostensibly called the meeting to find out what the Dems wanted included. When they asked to include employer enforcement, he pointed out that, along with a number of other Republican bills, the Democratic leadership had killed this one on a party-line vote in committee. (Committee votes are significant precisely because they're a way of killing a bill without a floor vote that might put vulnerable members on the record with an unpopular position.)

The Rocky's reporting on this was less-than-stellar. Initially, they stated as fact that the governor was considering including Republican bills that the Dems had committee-killed. A call to the governor's press office revealed that that was only Fitz-Gerald's interpretation of the conversation. The governor's point was that the Dems had the chance to deal with these issues, and decided not to, so to come back now with a raft of half-baked ideas smacks of playing catch-up.

The Rocky took out that paragraph in this morning's draft, but reporting Sen. Fitz-Gerald's comments as fact without attribution is just sloppy at best, and credulous as worst.

June 22, 2006

It's Beauprez v. Ritter

Marc Holtzman's campaign came to an end today, like too many other political campaigns of late, in the courts rather than at the ballot box or at the convention.

Elections should be simple things. You campaign. People vote. You count the votes. You see who has more. There are too many damn lawyers in this process since 2000.

June 20, 2006

The Immigration Debate Expands?

The Republican Study Committee of Colorado is encouraging Governor Owens to expand the terms of his special session to include Official English and proof of citizenship for voting & driving.

The politics are obvious - force the Democrats to take unpopular and unwise positions. It'll be much harder for Romanoff and Fitz-Gerald to bury these issues in committee, and virtually impossible for Democrats in close races to vote against them on the floor. Not if they want to be back in January.

Ken Gordon's already on record opposing proof of citizenship for voting and driver's licenses (which act as id for voting). Now he'll have to vote that way on camera. In the campaign ads, they'll put him in front of a Mexican flag.

The only possible downside is that you give away the issue of the Supreme Court by focusing on substance rather than process.

June 19, 2006

Back To The Robed Masters

So with the Fat Lady warming up by singing September Song for the Holtzman Campaign, it's back to the Supreme Court.

A Denver District Court ordered today that Holtzman's name be removed from the primary ballot in 48 hours unless the Colorado Supreme Court decides to hear his appeal.

"There is no evidence or basis in law to set aside or overturn the Secretary of State," ruled Judge Robert S. Hyatt, referring to the secretary's decision more than two weeks ago that Holtzman did not have enough valid signatures to make the Aug. 8 primary ballot.

Because the judge found Holtzman had "absolutely no reasonable probability of success on the merits" of his case, he would suffer no "irreparable harm" by not being on the ballot. Therefore, Hyatt ordered his name be removed from the ballot pending a 48-hour stay.

Of course, I'm not sure I'd put it past these jokers could rule that the 1500-voter-per-district violtates one-man-one-vote, or something like that.

June 7, 2006

Wiggle Room

Marc Holtzman has finally done something to help out the Republican Party in this election:

During a news conference Tuesday at Holtzman's campaign headquarters, his running mate, Lola Spradley, brought up the issue of Dennis' endorsement of Beauprez. Spradley said going to court would remove Dennis from an awkward situation where her objectivity might be questioned.

"We want to take her off the horns of that dilemma," she said.

Dennis also has been mentioned as a possible running mate for Beauprez.

It's also noteworthy that neither Grueskin, nor Holtzman, nor Spradley, nor Gould said anything to impugn Dennis's integrity, as they had implied in the past. The suit will be filed not because they don't trust Dennis, but for jurisdictional reasons.

By giving Dennis this wiggle room (oh, cut it out), they cut the legs out from underneath the Clear Peak investigation, and also make it thinkable again for her to be on a potential Beauprez ticket in the fall.

Sound move, Marc.

June 6, 2006

Leaving Room For Meddling

As if Democrats weren't already immersed deeply enough in the Republican primary squabble, they're now using the Great Signature Battle as a means to get involved.

A Democratic political group Monday requested documents and communication related to Gov. Bill Owens' appointment of Secretary of State Gigi Dennis to determine if Dennis disqualified gubernatorial candidate Marc Holtzman for personal gain.

John Willard, spokesman for Clear Peak Colorado, said he filed the public-information request because of rumors that Dennis is a potential running mate of Holtzman's Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez. Owens supports Beauprez.

Gee, who do you think started those rumors? I give you two guesses. Of course, if you guess Clear Peak themselves, it won't help you track down the culprits, since they have yet to file an 8872 with the IRS, leaving their funding a mystery. (Remember that the next time Ken Gordon talks about how it's the job of the Secretary of State to reduce the influence of money in politics. Ask him, "whose money?" and see what kind of answer you get.)

So back to the Democrats. This full-court press on the election process can serve three purposes: 1) discredit Dennis so she can't run with Beauprez; 2) keep her tied down at the Secretary of State's office so she can't run with Beauprez; 3) publicly discredit her as Secretary of State, widening this fall's Margin of Litigation for the Democrats.

Note that this creates a no-win situation for Dennis. If she stays, it calls into question the general election. If she leaves, she enters the race as damaged goods.


Peter Blake has already pointed out that while Ms. Dennis might be a great choice for Beauprez's running-mate (just imagine show tune parody opportunities, for one thing), she'll be busy trying to run elections between now and then. She's almost certainly have to resign for practical and political reasons. (No jokes about Governor Owens appointing Mark Hillman on a temporary basis.)

Holtzman is now claiming to have verified the signatures he needs. Well, good for him, if it's true, but could he at least do it without taking a shot at the Secretary of State?

[Campaign Manager Bob] Gould said Dennis's office cost the campaign valuable time because officials failed to give them all the information they needed.

Blake notes that Dennis gave the campaign "access to the signatures," and, when you sign a petition, don't you also have to write out your signature? What exactly is Holtzman claiming here? By bellyaching about the process, to the extent that anyone is still listening, he's only doing Clear Peak's work for them.

In any case, we're headed for a hearing with Holtzman trying to get uncounted signatures counted, and the Beauprez team trying to throw out previously validated ones.

June 3, 2006

Not Over Yet

Marc Holtzman is preparing to challenge the Secretary of State's ruling that he failed to get enough signatures to make it onto the ballot, and it sounds as though he may have a case.

The Rocky also seemed to miss (or perhaps misunderstand) this piece of information from the Holtzman campaign:

Though we had thousands of signatures collected by volunteers, later in the process, we also had professional petitioners assisting us in certain congressional districts.

That firm has assured us that all of their petitioners were registered Republican voters, however, if those folks were newly registered, that voter information would not yet be registered with the Secretary of State.

This is different from claiming that the signatures weren't valid, so either the Holtzman campaign misunderstood the Secretary of State, or the Rocky did.

In any case, the Beauprez and state Republican officials need to shut up and let Holtzman pursue his cross-checking of names and his challenge. That's what the rules are there for. Claiming victory and calling on Holtzman to back out are somewhat understandable from the standpoint of the campaign. Coming from the party establishment, it just looks like bullying.

June 1, 2006

Holtzman Seems To Fall Short On Signatures

According to the Rocky, Secretary of State Gigi Dennis is prepared to announce this evening that Marc Holtzman has fallen short of the number of signatures needed to petition on to the primary ballot. Holtzman appears ready to challenge the certification process:

Holtzman, a businessman and the former State Secretary of Technology, promised to continue fighting.

"We will challenge this all the way up to the Supreme Court of Colorado," Holtzman said. "We believe we've dotted every 'i' and crossed every 't.' We produced more than double the number of signatures statewide."


Holtzman immediately vowed to gather 1,500 signatures from each of Colorado's seven congressional districts, 10,500 in all, to win a spot in the primary that way.

My guess is that there's as much chance of 50% of the signatures being invalid as there is of me being elected Pope. What almost certainly happened was that Holtzman fell below the statistical sampling threshhold in one or more specific Congressional districts, quite possibly the First. It's a district where I suspect Holtzman's support was thinnest, and also has a disproportionately low number of Republicans to canvas.

Beauprez's campaign issued a statement reading:

Marc has run a spirited campaign and I have appreciated his contribution to the debate," said Beauprez. "I look forward to working with Marc to ensure a united Republican Party and a victory this fall."

"I'm gratified and excited to be the Republican nominee and we're looking forward to a positive, issue-based campaign with our Democrat opponent in this race," concluded Beauprez.

Wouldn't hold your breath on that last bit, Bob.

In the meantime, stay tuned...

The Loyal Opposition Replies

In response to my posting below, Jeffrey Sherman, a plaintiff in the case, has sent the following reply:

I am a longtime reader and admirer of your blog, but I think you are incorrect in your post on the DRE lawsuit. I am one of the plaintiffs. I am a registered Republican. I consider myself a hard-core conservative (I can't call myself a Christian conservative because I am Jewish). I voted for and contributed money to President Bush (though not enough money to be disclosed). I became aware of this suit because a friend, whom I would describe as a very serious conservative, is the lead associate at Wheeler Trigg working on this matter.

There is no question that there are liberal-left participants in this suit, too. Perhaps they think there is some short-term advantage to having accurate elections. I can't say I know with certainty what motivates them. I do know that I joined as a plaintiff because I think the accuracy of elections is of critical importance (hopefully this is why my liberal-left co-plaintiffs joined this suit, too). Because I believe conservative ideas are ultimately more persuasive, I want to make sure that the votes of those people who vote for conservative candidates will be counted. Conservatives have been victims of election fraud for too long--dating back to the days of machine politics up through John Thune's (probably fraudulent) loss in 2000 against Tim Johnson in South Dakota. Further, the bogus nonsense about the "stolen" 2000 presidential election does no one any good. It is clear from the media recounts that President Bush would have won whether the Supreme Court stepped in or not. Having new DRE election systems that are subject to tampering and not easily subject to audit will only increase the incentive to cheat or to claim that elections were "stolen."

I was initially skeptical of participating due to the nature of some of the other participants. But, after some research, I think the proposed systems are too badly flawed and fail to meet statutory standards. Further, based on the information I have been given, the Secretary of State's office has patently failed to take the steps required under the Colorado statutes to validate the machines. I am not naïve enough to think that a lawsuit (or even legislation) can eliminate voter fraud, which has probably existed since elections have existed, nor do I favor an active judiciary that legislates voting methods. I simply want the state to abide by its own statutory mandate.

Those of us who are plaintiffs in the suit entered into a joint representation agreement that contains a Statement of Principles Regarding DRE Voting System Litigation. The principles state, inter alia, that "The fundamental right to vote means that each Colorado voter has the right to cast his or her vote in private and to have his or her vote fairly and accurately recorded and counted in a free and open election...The fundamental right to vote means that the methods, machines or systems used to record, compile, count, audit or recount votes shall be secure, accurate, verifiable and accessible to all Colorado voters." This seems to me to be not particularly controversial or partisan in nature.

Finally, I agree with you regarding requiring voters to present identification.

I sympathize with Jeffrey's position, and believe that his desire for an accurate count is clearly, indisputably correct, as far as it goes. My contention is that it doesn't go nearly far enough in order to avoid the impression that there's more at work here on the part of Mr. Finley and his attorneys.

I believe that this lawsuit is an attempt to discredit voting systems in an attempt to preserve a "margin of litigation," within which Democrats can file lawsuits challenging the results of close elections which they lose. Given the role that Democrats have played in opposing ID requirements, for instance, my faith in their desire for accurate elections is, shall we say, faint.

I would point out that it is not merely "some participants," but the organization sponsoring the various state lawsuits, and the firm leading the charge are well to the left of liberal. I don't have time to discuss all the points of the lawsuit right here, but will try to do so on Sunday, after Shavuot.

It's significant that the Florida 2000 case is best dealt with not by joining lawsuts such as this, but rather by arguing the facts of the case, which clearly support Bush. If the basis of this suit is the Myth Of Florida 2000, joining such a suit perpetuates, rather than refutes, that myth. It's also significant that it was a paper-ballot, punch card system, a "old-style" system with a theoretically verifiable paper trail, that led to election officials searching the surface of ballots with laser beams for dimples in order to determine "voter intent."

It's also true that the statement regarding the "fundamental right to vote" omits any mention of the equally fundamental right not to have my vote diluted by illegal voting. It's an open secret in Colorado that nursing home employees "help" their charges fill out their absentee ballots without the required dual-party supervision of the process. That this is the time-honored method by which the Democrats have stolen elections in the past (See Washington State Governor 2004, South Dakota Senate 2000, New York City Mayor 1989, Chicago any year) would suggest that a conservative should insist on equal billing. If that's not the basis of the suit, conservatives should be willing to file their own lawsuits demanding suitable precautions.

I understand why the need for an accurate count is a bipartisan issue. I just don't think this is the suit that will ensure fair elections.

May 31, 2006

Pre-Emptive Election Strike

What is it with Democrats and voting equipment? They seem reflexively opposed to any technology where they can't stick a pencil lead under the clerk's fingernails to, ah, prevent undercounts. Or where the dials can't be, you know, nudged up a little bit before opening.

Now, a Denver law firm is suing nine county clerks over the choice of voting machines for this fall's elections. Because of HAVA and ADA, the number of voting machines out there to choose from is severely limited. (ADA, for instance, requires that the voter can't be given any assistance in voting whatsoever, aside from maybe tilting the machine for him. This in a state where party operatives take bulk delivery of absentee ballots for their Alzheimer's-afflicted nursing home residents.)

The lawyers say they represent a "diverse nonpartisan group of Colorado voters seeking to protect the integrity and purity of elections." The legal action seeks to block the purchase or use of Diebold, Sequoia, ES&S, and Hart InterCivic touch-screen computerized voting systems. The lawyers say the systems have a well-documented history of problems with security, reliability, verifiability, and disability access.

Named defendants in the complaint include Colorado Secretary of State Gigi Dennis and the boards of county commissioners of Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas, Jefferson, La Plata, Larimer and Weld counties.

The Colorado suit is being supported by Voter Action, a nonprofit that provides legal, research, and logistical support for grassroots efforts surrounding elections. Voter Action is supporting similar efforts in Arizona, California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and other states.

Sure, they're non-partisan. Voter Action is non-partisan like Jim Jeffords is non-partisan. Here's the bio for Lowell Finley:

Lowell Finley, Esq., Berkeley, California. Mr. Finley has practiced election law for over 20 years. He is one of the few attorneys in the nation with experience litigating electronic voting issues, having successfully sued Diebold Election Systems, Inc. in a California False Claims Act case that resulted in a $2.6 million settlement. Past cases include blocking newly-elected California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger from soliciting or using special interest campaign contributions to repay an illegal $4 million personal loan; representation of the California Assembly in redistricting cases before the California and United States Supreme Courts; winning ballot access for Chinese-American candidates in San Francisco and successfully suing an Orange County, California candidate for hiring uniformed security guards to intimidate Hispanic voters at the polls. Mr. Finley is a founding member and past president (1992) of the California Political Attorneys Association.

And for John Boyd, their legal advisor:

John Boyd, Esq., Freedman, Boyd, Daniels, Hollander, Goldberg & Cline, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mr. Boyd has been practicing civil rights litigation, first amendment litigation, constitutional law and election law in Albuquerque for over 25 years. Mr. Boyd represented the Democratic Party of New Mexico in the “voter i.d.” litigation that preceded the 2004 election and has participated on behalf of Democrats in redistricting litigation. He has handled a number of cases as a cooperating attorney with the ACLU. He and his partner, Nancy Hollander, are currently representing the Santa Fe-based Uniao Do Vegetal in its free exercise of religion law suit which is now pending before the United States Supreme Court.

Mr. Finley contributed - albeit not very heavily - during the 2004 election cycle to both John Kerry and Mr. Boyd contributed to the Senate Campaign of Jeff Bingaman, one of the more liberal Senators going, and $2000 indirectly to the Kerry campaign. (It's unclear as to whether this is the same John Boyd who contributed to Republican Nancy Wilson's campaign in 1998, but six years is enough time to change your mind.) His partner Nancy Hollander also contributed to Bingaman's campaign. Altogether, employyees of Freedman, et. al. contributed almost $17000 since 2002 to various Democratic PACs, candidates, and party organizations, $0 to Republicans.

Likewise, employees of Wheeler Trigg Kennedy, who specialize in corporate shakedowns, have collectively contributed $5200 to Democrats, $1000 to Republicans, all in the 2004 election cycle. This include $3000 from the case's lead attorney, Paul Hultin, $500 of which went to the Kerry 2004 "If It's Close In Ohio, We Can Cheat," fund.

I'm all in favor of double-entry bookkeeping when it comes to electronic voting machines, too, but remember that these are the same people who think that asking for ID amounts to voter intimidation. I suspect this is an ongoing effort to deligitimize elections in general, throwing more and more of them into the courts on a very selective basis.

CORRECTION: I have been reliably informed that the firm does not specialize in suing firms, but rather in defending them. I clearly jumped the gun in misinterpreting the information on their website.

May 26, 2006

Assembly Notes & Aftermath

Next time, someone needs to write a religious exemption clause into the rules. Unless I can't avoid it, I really try to keep religious issues from becoming someone else's problem. This time, there wasn't much choice.

It started with the ID requirement. Staying at a hotel a mile away from the Arena, well outside the Colorado Springs eruv, I couldn't carry my license to the hall. I called the County Chairman. I called the state party. No dice. I spoke to the communications director, who suggested that I might, "bend the rules." I suggested that they weren't mine to bend, and that she might consider taking her own advice. Eventually, Clay kindly offered to drive my id over to the convention hall.

Ah, but that was only the beginning. When I got there, I was surprised to find hundreds, thousands of Republican party activists and delegates dressed like - Democrats. T-shirts, shorts, jeans. I generally figure that important civic duties demand dressing the part, but I was politely informed that, in general, only candidates wore suits. I'll remember that, lest next time, someone try to nominate me for something, and I end up having to whisper the speech into ear of someone who can use a microphone on Saturdays.

The actual check-in wasn't too bad. An ID. A name. They found my Certified Credential (tm), and off I went into the gaping maw of the political furnace.

The thing was held at the World Arena, Colorado Springs's answer to, well, the DC Armory, maybe the Capital Centre. The whole top level, usually dominated by soft drink vendors, was dominated by soft drink vendors, petition-hawkers, sticker stickerers, and groups handing out new free newspapers. (Cost Control Hint: you're reading this online.)

This year, in order to make sure that they could find all the alternates, they had actual assigned seating. I think that's the first time they've done that. Organizational Hint #1: If you're going to use assigned seats, use the row and section numbers that the space already has. Otherwise, you end up printing maps flipping sections 4 and 6 and confusing everyone. Hint #2: If you aren't going to take advantage of inherited experience, don't let one of the campaigns set up their own poles with their own numbers on them.

I arrived in the hall just in time for "The National Anthem: The Dance Mix." Now I know we're the Party of Patriotism, and that up in Greeley, they were probably singing the Internationale and medleys of old Grange Songs to pictures of Big Bill Heyward, featuring a special satellite feed of Hugo Chavez. But that's no reason to play someone's American Idol audition tape (what, a live singer wasn't in the budget?).

So after we finally got settled, it was the parade of elected officials nominating other elected officials for different elected offices. I particularly liked John Suthers's bloc of time. His daughter accused him of not knowing the words to any songs written after 1975 (I've got him beat by about 20 years), and then Suthers's wife showed up in a pant-suit that, well, Suthers probably knew the lyrics to. Mothballs are a wonderful thing. Also, memo to Bob Beauprez: pumping your arms once is energizing; doing it twice looks like you're shooting your cuffs.

There was a certain amount of back-and-forth between the Holzman and Beauprez campaigns, with the Beauprez people re-enacting the Charge of the Light Brigade into their opponents' confetti cannons.

And then, on to the voting.

Actually, on to the waiting. You've heard plenty about the certification process (and the certifiable delegates it produced). The people who had it worst were the alternates. As a Certified Delegate (tm), I could wander about at will, confident that when Denver was finally called, Shabbat might be over. Poor Ben, who did get to vote, more or less sat rooted to his spot so his hog-caller of an assistant to the County Chairman could be sure to find him.

Every once in a while, someone from the Credentials Committee would come out and tell us that Generalissimo Francisco Franco was still dead.

Fortunately, I was able to pass the time amiably with a few of the several hundred LPR members and graduates who were there. I counted at least 16 class members, which is a quarter of the current class, and who knows how many alumni. At least a couple of them thought it was funny when I feigned surprise that the governor wasn't in Greeley with his new friends, and pointed out that he was wearing an appropriately purple tie.

That was until I realized that not having signed the register on the way in might be a problem. That is, I might get to the ballot station, only to be told that my ID and my Certified Credential (tm) weren't enough. I hurried back to the credentialing station, and looked for someone to sign the register in my name. Eventually: "Oh, sure, I can sign for you. I understand completely. My name's Gabriel Schwartz." *Sigh*. Oy. You see, I can't have another Jew sign for me on Shabbat, because then I'm encouraging another Jew to break Shabbat. Non-Jews have no such obligation, although the rules about asking them to do things are kind of tricky. Eventually, we got someone to sign, with a little notation that it wasn't actually me, which is why the handwriting wouldn't match.

And then, back to the waiting.

Eventually, they called Denver, Larimer, and El Paso counties. Organization Note #3, #4, #5: don't put lines for three of the most delegate-laden counties at the same end of the hall, with the only way out being the way you came. How we managed to get the lines to move without actually passing delegates over our heads to the back of the line remains a mystery of physics.

Ah, the front of the line. The Promised Land. I can see my ballot from here. Organization Note #6: If you're going to make delegates sign again to receive their ballots, please have a religious exception next time. When I suggested that, having seen the ID and the Certified Credential (tm), she could just go ahead and sign my name and nobody would know or care, the El Paso County election official started looking around like a terrorist who had just been assured by President Logan that everything was under control and that Jack Bauer would soon be "taken care of." So, while the delegates streamed around me getting their ballots, voting, and leaving behind a convention full of memories, I stood there waiting for further permission.

One of my LPR class members helped me vote, and then another delegate, with whom I served as an election judge, agreed to drive my ID back to the hotel. When you've been shomer Shabbat for 15 years, you forget that it's a weekly occurrence completely unlike anything that someone who's not Jewish would ever experience.

Most of the time, "I can't do x," is enough, and as long as you're not jerking people around, they're very willing to help out. So here's a thanks to Clay, Ben, Phyllis, Denise, Carolyn, and the unnamed party officials who made sure that the signatures got where they were needed. And kudos to Geoff Blue for being the one non-Jew I've ever met who knew what an eruv was.

(Here's the on-one-foot explanation: on Shabbat, we're not allow to do "work." "Work" in this case, means anything that was done in the construction of the Temple. There are 39 categories of work, and the relevant ones last week were carrying and writing.)

So that's it. And you can guess what I'll be putting down on the party's Convention Survey form.

If Atlas Shrugged Were About Oil... would look like this.

Clear Peak Colorado, a committee that backs Democratic candidates for the state legislature, plans to launch a series of automated phone calls to voters this weekend.

"As you pay record prices for gas this holiday weekend, remember that some of your hard-earned money is paying for partisan politics," the caller says.

The calls claim that Republicans are using oil-and-gas industry money to pay for attacks on Democrats.

"The Republicans have let big oil off the hook for cleaner air and tougher drilling standards. The high gas prices go from your pocket to the Republicans and back to the pump again," the call says.

Talk about the grease calling the oil black. Someone needs to make calls to parents describing how Democrats are using state funds to attack Republicans over schools. Of course, that would take a Republican leadership with the onions to take on the teachers' unions and the lefty non-profits bellying up to the Ref C trough.

Never mind that it's excessive and poorly-designed clean-air regulation, along with bizarre drilling standards that are at least partly responsible for $2.64 gas to begin with. Federal clean-air regulation mandates that several dozen mixes of fuel be sold, balkanizing the refining and transportation process, preventing plants from substituting for each other when they go offline, and creating semi-annual switchover price spikes. Combine that with decades-old offshore drilling restrictions, and you're doing a masterful job of vertically integrating your supply-chain strangulation.

Not that the Post isn't sympathetic:

Already this year, Owens vetoed House Bill 1309, which would have let the state adopt tougher clean-air standards.

"Already!" The legislature has adjourned, and won't be back until there's a new governor, but the Post wants you to think that Owens is ready to run a drilling rig through the middle of the state capitol, and put a refinery in City Park, providing employment displacing the homeless there.

Thereafter follows a list of Trailhead donors who exhale dangerous carbon dioxide greenhouse gases. Including Pete Coors who has had run-ins in the past with state officials over air pollution. Coors, the Post may not remember, actually ran for Senate as a Republican two years ago, at the, ah, suggestion of Owens and Benson. So naturally he's contributing to a Republican party-building 527 because of air pollution.

Bad politics. Bad journalism. Bad economics. The triple threat.

I'm From The Democrats And I'm Here To Help You

When you're enemies are standing on a ledge, preparing to commit suicide, don't interfere. You might even give them a little push. It's better still if you can get a crowd to start chanting, "Jump, Jump, Jump!"

Marc Holtzman's campaign submitted 21,000 signatures yesterday to petition onto the August 8 primary ballot. Him, and his New Best Friend, Democratic campaign attorney Mark Grueskin:

"I don't like it when party bosses tell people not to run," Grueskin said. "It rubs me the wrong way."

Really? That must be why he represented the teachers' unions in their fight to use forcibly-extracted union dues to violate Colorado campaign law. Because after all, we wouldn't want to tell people what to do. (Ben's all over this.)

What really rubs him the wrong way are the words, "Governor Beauprez."

Grueskin has a history of helping sides in Republican intra-party battles (see here for 2004's edition; we know how the elections turned out that year).

Between one side sounding like Democrats, and the other actually hiring them, this is starting to look like the northern Italians inviting in Napoleon to help settle things down.

May 23, 2006

Difficult Decision

Marc Holtzman had a chance to run a campaign of ideas, as he said, and that in order to get taken seriously, he believed he had to play tougher than I would have, or than I thought was necessary. Trying to paint Bob Beauprez as a liberal in Republican clothing was always a mistake.

(That Beauprez's campaign, and some 527s supposedly on his side, have responded by making banking sound like a crime and trying to play guilt-by-association, rather than winning by taking the high road, is well beside the point. Bob Beauprez is no liberal. Could a softie on immigration get Tom Tancredo's endorsement? Really. And now, by standing up to the purple-tie-wearing Owens on the issue of the Ref C overage, Beauprez is showing some of the real spine he'll need to win the general and to govern effectively.)

There was a case to be made - that Beauprez, by blessing Ref C with faint condemnation, by backing Roy Blunt in the first round of the House leadership contest, by taking full advantage of earmarks and pork, is more like Romney than Reagan. It might not have stuck, but there was a case there.

In the process of making that case, Holtzman could have done what he did manage to do - force the Beauprez camp to talk about issues they'd rather have avoided. And he could have done so far less destructively than he has.

Let's leave aside the process issues for the moment. I do think it's poor form to make a big deal of the Assembly, and then, after having the argument in the press, insult the delegates and claim the process was meaningless and rigged against you. ("No, my dog didn't bite you, and anyway, that's not my dog.") Holtzman has had six months to make his case to the party activists, and he couldn't pull 30% in a two-man race. I do not see any reason to think he can win a primary that, if anything, is weighted more heavily to the regulars than the caucus process is. Remember, activists scare the regulars a little bit.

So now, Bob Martinez has asked. Now, 31 Republicans, legislators and candidates have asked.

What they don't understand is that when a man is running against a party establishment, and is in it this deep, there's almost nothing that that establishment can do or say that's persuasive to him. He needs to hear it from close friends and people who've been with him the whole way, not people who were suspicious of him from the start. (This means close friends, not Jewish bloggers who've been sympathetic to the idea of his candidacy.) Ending a campaign before every last option is played out is tremendously difficult; it feels like a personal failure, compounded by a personal failure of nerve.

But if Marc Holtzman wants to play Ronald Reagan's role in 1976, to introduce conservative ideas back into the party discourse, and to be a player in 2010, he should step aside, salvage the many relationships he has within the party, and do the hard work of organizing conservatives within the party over the next four years. Those people exist, and they're hungry for a legislative majority and a Republican governor.

Coming to them as the spoiler who cost them both is a complete non-starter.

Coming to them as a guy who can offer them ideas, hard work, and a pipeline to conservative voters is another matter altogether.

Salazar Gets One Right

No, the other Salazar. John Salazar of the 3rd Congressional district. He voted to lift the decades-old ban on offshore drilling in all but a few places. (Naturally DeGette got it wrong, preferring instead to take my money to pay for someone else's heating.)

Gee, now there's a novel idea. Responding to supply-and-demand issues by increasing supply. Maybe it has something to do with the energy poll results from his Congressional website.

Of course, there's this, from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:

Congressman Salazar remains committed to protecting the environment which is why he opposed the “energy bill” devised by the Bush Administration and oil companies that put profits first and threatens natural preserves and Alaskan wildlife. Rather than promoting oil drilling into our precious lands, Congressman Salazar is a leading proponent for renewable energy sources.

So if Salazar is for drilling elsewhere, but opposes it close to home, what does that say about him? Moreover, if that's what the DCCC chooses to emphasize, what does that say about their energy "policy?"

(Hat Tip:, now comforably Blogrolled.)

May 21, 2006

Long Day

Clay and Ben have already posted on the day's events at the State Assembly. I'll have a somewhat, er, unique perspective up on Sunday.

The quick hits:

  1. I was surprised, given the crowd reaction, that Holtzman polled almost 30%.
  2. The voting rules, adopted in reaction to a badly mangled 2004 Assembly, went overboard
  3. 1 & 2 may have been connected; Beauprez delegates, believing the matter in hand, may have been more willing to walk away from a 3-hour credentialing process
  4. The LPR owns this thing
  5. There's no way that the Holtzman campaign can credibly claim they were cheated, at least not to anyone there
  6. There are a surprising number of Republicans willing to help a guy with a yarmulke keep Shabbat

I'll expand on this, and then we'll also have a chance to grill both campaigns tomorrow night.

May 19, 2006

Ken Gordon's Strange Math

The Democrats want to amend the Constitution without having to amend it. In support of that proposition, another strange claim by Ken Gordon during our interview was that, "if John Kerry had gotten 60,000 more votes in Ohio," he would have been elected while losing the popular vote.

I guess they figure if they keep repeating this, it'll stick. The Ohio margin was 120,000 votes, not 60,000. Sixty thousand people would have had to change their votes, which is a very different thing. If 60,000 people had voted differently in Ohio, they surely would have done so elsewhere, probably making the question moot. And if New Hampshire, which was both smaller and more closely-run than Ohio, had gone the other way, Ohio wouldn't have mattered.

Look, almost every Presidential election is like this. Take a look at the map for 1976. Jimmy Carter won the national popular vote by 2 points. He won 297 electoral votes. So a swing of 29 electoral votes would have swung the election to Ford. Carter won Ohio by 11,000 votes, and Alabama (yes, that Alabama) by 15,000. So by cherry-picking 13,000 votes in those two states, Ford would have won the election while losing the popular vote.

Funny how 1976 never gets mentioned. Maybe if Ford had tried to sue his way back into office...

Colorado's Governor (and Candidates)... learn something from Missouri:

... Medicaid spending was hard to ignore. It covered 16 percent of Missourians and took up 31 percent of the state budget. Blunt decided to investigate the program, deny benefits to those who were ineligible, and tighten the qualifications. He knew he'd be attacked, but the assault was worse than expected. It lasted for most of 2005. "He had his butt kicked over Medicaid," Feather says. Medicaid's share of the state budget, however, has shrunk to 29 percent.

By not flinching, Blunt made himself something of a hero to Missouri Republicans. They tend to gush. "I always come back to the word courage when I think of Matt Blunt," says Dan Mehan, the president of the Missouri chamber of commerce. "He's taken some positions that require a lot of guts," says Mike Gibbons, majority leader in the state senate.

Read the whole thing. Then ask yourself what the hell Bill Owens thinks he's doing.

May 18, 2006

Intramural Wrestling

Good grief:

An intern for the Holtzman campaign, Laura Mendenhall, tried to block a Beauprez staffer, Jory Taylor, from videotaping the event. That outraged the Beauprez campaign, which says it routinely tapes such forums.

"They were shoving him out of the way," said John Marshall, a spokesman for Beauprez. "They totally accosted him. This is just junior high school stuff. It's disappointing and juvenile and not befitting a campaign for the highest office in Colorado."

A spokesman for Holtzman said Mendenhall had made "a rookie mistake" and gotten carried away. "She's very protective of Marc," said Jesse Mallory.


Mallory said the Holtzman campaign apologized for the incident.

"We're sorry the girls in our campaign beat up the boys in their campaign," he said.

That's a very funny line, although there's probably some group out there representing roller derby participants asking for an apology because, after all, why shouldn't girls beat up boys?

Still, it seems that the Holtzman campaign has lost its cool - collectively or individually - before, and that they're making a lot of these rookie mistakes. The press is a little forgiving because, well, it's Republicans beating up other Republicans, and while that may make for good copy, there's no point in taking sides in the other guys' fight. The nominee isn't going to get the same breaks when it's Bill Ritter up there bloviating about photographers.

And notice something else. The debate was supposed to be about returning Ref C dollars that the Ref C campaign said it didn't need but has now discovered that if the state doesn't keep, we're all going to find ourselves leaving for a better life in northern Mexico.

The only substantive ink on the proposal went to Ritter.

So while the Beauprez campaign is helping the Holtzman campaign make headlines with tactics, the Democrats get to make their case. Sure, the reporter could have demoted the scuffle to a line or two, and written a story about the issue, but this was so much more fun, and why give him the excuse?

Nice going, guys.

May 17, 2006

If You Don't Elect Them, They Can't Cheat

On Sunday, I had the chance to interview Democratic State Senator Ken Gordon, who's running for Secretary of State - chief elections officer - this fall. A couple of things stood out.

First, on the subject of illegals registering to vote, Gordon didn't seem particularly concerned about being pro-active, and stated that only once a threat was seen, should we bother to do anything about it. Secondly, on the subject of vote fraud, he seemed willing to support the notion of ID - contrary to what was implied in this article.

(Gordon's article also pooh-poohs concerns about people voting in more than one place, even though this was a concern at a the time in at least one (or two) specific races. Colorado also has a substantial number of people with second homes in New Mexico or Arizona, potentially replicating the problem of Florida acting as New York's sixth borough in more ways than one. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to ask him about this problem.)

Fortunately, Gordon's tacit support of Common Cause came to naught fairly decisively.

What really struck me was a seeming lack of familiarity with the issues. On illegals voting, he stated that requiring proof of citizenship would have a disparate impact on blacks and Hispanics. Possibly on Hispanics, but only on those who aren't citizens. In fact, a driver's license would work well in this state. Colorado requires not only another state's driver's license when moving here, but also a full social security number or proof of rejection when applying for a social security number. That's not foolproof, but it's a system that would require the cooperation of a large number of people for an extended period of time to game.

More importantly, despite his support for IDs to vote, he seemed unaware that merely providing that last four digits of a social security number was enough to constitute ID. With no current statewide vote database, there's almost no way for the clerks to effectively check them. Moreover, someone could show up at the county clerk's office, on Election Day, and with emergency registration, provide their locker combination, be registered, and then turn around and vote on a machine. Not provisionally. On a machine. Because the county clerk's office in Denver will be a vote center.

I managed to find out the current holes in the system through a 30-minute conversation with Denver election officials, and a little digging on the web. You'd think that someone who wanted to be responsble for the integrity of elections could be bothered to know at least as much.

You can listen to the interview through the links below. The first segment is basically John quizzing Gordon about the just-finished legislative session. The second segment we get started on vote fraud. The third segment continues on vote fraud, but also has Gordon getting a little testy over his attempts to circumvent the Constitution.

Segment 1
Segment 2
Segment 3

More Gardening

One of our neighbors has a couple of small dogs who like to have long, erudite evening conversations with Sage. Discussing the latest Animal Planet downloads from iTunes, I'm sure.

The problem is, those other dogs live on the othe side of the fence opposite one of the new lilacs, and Sage, in his eagerness to get the news, had knocked over one of the taller plants. The leaves had already started to look a little peaked, and as any mullah will tell you, you can only go to the Hidden Well so many times. I just discovered this Sunday, and had to re-set the plant with new potting soil and watering. The good news is that the leaves have pretty much recovered, indicating photosynthetic happiness; apparently these really are fairly hardy.

With the lilacs getting established, it's time to finish off that little sidewalk edge towards the front of the back yard. It's mostly shade, and beyond the reach of the soak hose. It's also immediately opposite the house, so I want ground cover rather than a large plant that will impede progress. This and this should do the trick.

I've already got a small spreading of Bishop's Weed, which is living up to its name. It's got some sort of Darwinian advantage over the other, natural weeds, and has slowly been shoving them aside. The only reason I don't use it, is that I'd like some color and a little variety, rather than one big green-and-white carpet there. It'll be a cheap and effective alternative, though, if the Plumbago acts like it sounds.

May 2, 2006

Beauprez's Principles

The Rocky Mountain News has a fine editorial this morning about the intra-party mess that Beauprez is making of the primary:

Colorado law says no person may "knowingly" make a false statement "designed to affect the vote" for anyone running for public office.

We have a somewhat different take on this matter.

If Holtzman wants to employ someone who lies to the press in such brazen fashion, that's his business. Journalists will adjust their reports depending on whether they feel they can trust anything he now says. For some, the answer will be no.

But as for there being an obligation to fire Leggitt, that's nonsense. The Colorado law is - or at least should be - unconstitutional. You can't outlaw false campaign rhetoric, intentional or not. Indeed, we can hardly think of anything more destructive to free speech than inviting courts to rule on political truthfulness and honesty.

Then this, on the "substantive" complaint:

Holtzman appeared in a TV ad attacking Ref C, a 2005 issue campaign in which there were no contribution limits. But those ads did not mention he was running for governor. Why shouldn't a candidate enjoy the same free-speech rights to support or oppose a statewide referendum as any other citizen - whether or not it elevates his public profile?

It's bad enough these laws are on the books. It's worse when a Republican betrays party principle and uses them for their intended purpose - to squelch political opposition.

May 1, 2006

Beauprez v. Holtzman

Am I the only one who notices the multiple ironies in a conservative Republican, ah, encouraging, cough, other conservative Republicans to attack a third conservative Republican using campaign finance laws none of us likes, over his opposition to taxes that, nominally at least, we all opposed?

I'm not the biggest Dick Leggitt fan in the world. But Beauprez has done nothing but confirm his image as someone willing to fight on the politics, but not on the ideas. The fact is, he's tried to short-circuit things at every level, to his and the party's detriment. If he had simply fought a stand-up fight on the issues, he would almost certainly have won the primary vote, regardless of what happened at convention in a few weeks.

Instead, he send out emails with taglines like this:

Prior to his arrival in Colorado, Marc Holtzman was an international financier where, according to his campaign, he "made millions off investments in Eastern Europe."

I know that farmers don't much like bankers, except when they happen to be bankers, but this sounds more appropriate for today's May Day festivities than for an intramural battle among people who know something about how wealth gets created.

The final irony is that in fighting this way, Beauprez is helping to re-open the Schaffer-Coors wounds from two years ago, and to make the primary fight as damaging as he and his supporters predicted when they asked for our support at the outset.

April 27, 2006

It's Official

I finally got mail confirmation from the county party that, following a family tradition (see left), I will be a delegate to the State Republican Convention on May 20. Uncle Joe and I actually had a number of - spirited - political conversations when I was 14 and helped in my own small way to get Ronald Reagan elected President.

Naturally, since the convention is on Shabbat - even a local evangelical minister couldn't understand why they couldn't do these things on Sunday - I'll stay there in a hotel nearby, so I'll get a chance to file a report Saturday night.

Also, apparently the state party charges Denver $15 a head for its delegates for some reason, so I'll need to send a check there. Am I the only one who thinks it's just a very little dumb to put the County Republican HQ on Birch St.? Didn't Bill Buckley work very hard to get rid of those guys?

March 29, 2006

Just Passing Through

Colorado has apparently turned into Staging Area Alpha for illegals coming into the country. Last week, in the middle of the annual tussle between winter and spring, winter got the upper hand on the plains. In the aftermath, a few of the highly-profitable jitneys running illegals from Mexico to points east spun out and closed the interstates.

Now, traffic's bad enough around here without this sort of complication, but it points to Colorado's central position as a collection and distribution point for the free flow of labor across the border. Take a look at a map. Colorado's got I-25 heading north-south, I-70 and I-76 heading east-west, and an hour farther north to I-80. (I-80, where "This is the place," takes on a whole new meaning.)

The inability of local law enforcement to help out is only making things worse. Denver's mayor hasn't exactly made this a high priority; the local latino politicos in Weld County openly oppose an ICE office in Greeley, and, this morning's Rocky details the long-haul meter-free taxi running from Denver to points east:

Law enforcement officials and local residents regularly see vehicles that they suspect are ferrying illegal immigrants to points east and west.

"With the need for agricultural workers beginning to increase, there will be more travelers in the next few weeks," Morgan County Sheriff Jim Crone said. "If we went out and focused on the interstate, I think we could get two or three loads of people a day, with anywhere from 10 to 25 people in a load. And that would overtax our jail."


The Morgan County population was 31 percent Hispanic in the last census, compared to 17 percent Hispanic statewide. But, the sheriff said, some local Hispanics believe the figure is now closer to 50 percent.

Some time ago, Crone said, law enforcement officials planned a week-long sweep in Morgan County to arrest illegal immigrants. However, "They stopped it after two days because they had taken so many people into custody that there was no room (in the jail) for any more."

Tancredo may be right that the protests on Saturday could have been broken up by a few ICE agents checking for papers, but cleaning up the problem that way would require either an armada of C-130s or a holding facility the size of the state.

I have to write this every time, because the issue has at least two parts: for me, this is a question of sovereignty and security as well as economics. We're not going to ship out 11 million people, no matter what Derbyshire says. Steve King can claim that Americans will work for $10 an hour, including employers' insurance, payroll tax, and unemployment insurance costs, but I haven't seen it. We need to come up with a solution that cements the loyalty of those already living here, while cutting off the flow of illegals who undermine that loyalty.

I'm also more than a little worried about importing workers whose intention is to make money and leave. I want people coming in who have a stake in the country and in building a community. There's a strong argument to be made that the reason Mexico is poor has nothing to do with our having stole half their country (and the half with the paved roads, at that), and everything to do with the attitude of the initial settlers.

North of the Rio Grande, people came to build and create. South of that line, people came to pull as much metal out of the ground as they could, and then go home. That's changed, but it's only now that they're starting to get out from under that corruption. I'm pretty sure we don't want to be importing it here, and the only way to prevent it is to limit immigration to assimilable numbers.

The protests in Denver featured many more Mexican than American flags (although the DenPo decided to magnify the latter in its photo). We are rapidly approaching a tipping point, beyond which the politics of the issue will start to resemble that of hijabs in Europe. SB90 is good news, and a start, but without local support, it'll be a dead letter involving years of litigation to prove and enforce, years we don't have any more.

March 22, 2006

Caucus Night

A couple of quick notes and advice from my first caucus night.

First, just because I'm wearing a yarmulker, that doesn't oblige you to comment on it. There were a few blacks there, few hispanics (aside from the party chairman), and a couple of Jews. I've got no brook for formal affirmative action, but repeatedly telling someone, even with good humor, that they look like a fish out of water is a great way to make sure things stay that way. I wasn't offended - the Party clearly sees the need to, er, broaden its base - just annoyed after a while. Successful outreach needs a little less clumsiness, and I've already self-selected.

Second, I'm sure that the older gentleman who read the rules has a history of long and distinguished service to the Party. Evidently that service doesn't include trying to maintain control over a roomful of adults with other obligations, in a hall with lousy acoustics. Get someone who people want to pay attention to. They don't have to be Robin Williams up there, you'd think that people with a lifetime in politics would know the value of public speaking skills.

Third, sell the post-caucus politicking. No, not sell as in, "office accounts," or "replacement for Deanna Hanna." Sell as in, get people debating. Almost everyone in that room ended up as a delegate to the state convention. If we're not just going through the motions, these things matter.

Finally, I think Mike Miles spoiled the party for everyone. If you can organize, organize, organize, pull surprise upsets at the caucuses and the convention, and still get only the votes of you and your mom in the primary, it calls into question the whole process. Maybe things were more exciting in counties where whole precinct delegations couldn't fit in a cupboard. But in trying to defend the process, I got the same feeling that I got from conversations with fellow train-travelers a couple of decades ago.

March 21, 2006

No, But I Got Nominated Real Good

Welcome to the blog of the new Precinct 648 Republican Committeeman, and delegate to the state convention this year.

Hold the applause. This is from Denver, where apparently going to Republican caucuses is one of those jobs that Americans just won't do. About 70 precincts met in the lunchroom of a local middle school, with each table set up for three precincts. There were three people there from my precinct, for three delegate slots. The state convention is on a Saturday, so if there's any writing involved, everyone's going to know who I voted for, if they care.

The fact is, for Colorado, the Republican map is inverted from the population centers. If the caucuses were organized like high schools, Denver and Boulder would house all the single-A schools and 8-man football teams. Kind of like Dennis Quaid's team in The Rookie, where showing up isn't 90% of life, it's closer to 99%.

Colorado has a strange schizophrenic system. There's a caucus, which selects the candidates who appear on the ballot for the primary. Then there's the primary. The caucus system has come under increasing attack as an anachronism, with some justification. But the parties get to pick the candidates, and there's no good reason why that task shouldn't fall to those most involved. The primary avoids smoke-filled room deals, although since the legislature is on the way to outlawing smoking, that's less of a threat now, anyway.

The other thing that the caucuses and conventions do is send resolutions to the national party for possible inclusion in the platform, so it remains the best way to gauge the party's collective wisdom, or, in the Democrats' case, its collective insanity.

Now for the fun. After tomorrow, I'll be on every candidate's mailing and phone list. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Fellow RMA member Clay Calhoun was also elected a delegate from the somewhat more-competitive Elbert County. The RMA begins its Long March to power.

UPDATE: Ray A. Rayburn, delegate from Boulder, has some useful clarifications in the comments section.

March 17, 2006

Holtzman v. Beauprez

With Hugh Hewitt having identified Colorado as one of the purple states we need to keep tilting red, the governor's race this year is turning into one of national importance. I moved out here in part to get away from the hot house of national politics, so I'm feeling a litle like Wilmer McLean, but I'm here, and there's no helping it.

I had a chance to see the first face-to-face debate (although not the first joint appearance) between Marc Holtzman and Bob Beauprez, and my first impression was that it stengthened my previous impressions. Holtzman is more of an ideas guy, while Beauprez has a somewhat more governmental approach to things. Holtzman is less comfortable speaking in public, while Beauprez is polished enough to allow himself some humor. Holtzman, running an outsider's campaign, is working harder to establish contrast, while Beauprez is working harder not to offend anyone just now.

Continue reading "Holtzman v. Beauprez" »

March 15, 2006

Yearning to Blog Free...

Instapundit reports that Bill Frist has introduced HB 1606, the Online Freedom of Speech Act into the Senate. Here's the text of the bill:

Paragraph (22) of section 301 of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (2 U.S.C. 431(22)) is amended by adding at the end the following new sentence: `Such term shall not include communications over the Internet.'.

Colorado Representative Marilyn Musgrave is a co-sponsor in the House. Might make an interesting question for her Democratic challengers.

In Presidential terms, this is going to force McCain to take another stand that likely to be unpopular with the Republican base. Since the announcement appeared on Frist's funraising arm, VolPac, my guess is that the two are not entirely unrelated. It's harder to do this sort of thing in the Senate than in the House, of course, but count on seeing more of this sort of thing.

Of course, the the New York Times has come out against the bill as inimical to its interests fair campaigns

Politicians who chafe under the law's "soft money" ban would be free to run unlimited ads online, empowered by private donors who would not even be required to file campaign records. A similar loophole attempted by the Federal Election Commission has already been struck down in court for inviting "rampant circumvention" of the anticorruption law.

A far preferable alternative measure would fully protect the growing legions of bloggers, but not at the cost of turning the Internet into a tool for the abusive enrichment of candidates. A critical question is whether the Republican leadership will deny the public a fair debate over this issue by bottling up the alternative bill this week.

It is imperative that the courageous lawmakers who supported the McCain-Feingold reform law four years ago stand together against making the Internet a cornucopia of political corruption. Wavering Democrats, in particular, need a strong leadership call to stand fast, despite campaign-year cravings for more money. Voters need to pay particular attention to which lawmakers endorse this unfettered sale of political influence.

One gets the sense that for the Times, as for Gorbachev's USSR, its internal contradictions are finally forcing it to implode. How paying me for a campaign ad on my site enriches the candidate is hard to see. Admittedly, it's a little like office accounts, and we'll be waiting to see what the Denver papers have to say about it. But it's much more like 527 activity, which the Times and the Denver Post only seem to oppose on a partisan sporadic basis.

The call to "wavering Democrats" would have a lot more punch if Harry Reid hadn't introduced an identical bill - SB 678 - last year.

A better alternative wouldn't be HR 4900, but to scrap the whole thing from start to finish, admit reality, and start over with a bill that permits complete political speech and requires disclosure as to who's paying for it. The Times like HR 4900 because it essentially captures Internet speech under the same rubric as the rest of campaign finance law, albeit with some exemptions that can be closed over time.

One problem is the sheer size of the Net. Any enforcement would be spotty at best, and therefore subject to partisan tinkering, or the appearance thereof, which is at least as bad.

Secondly, the Times can afford to hire lawyers to defend itself and its employees, if it chooses to do so, and if you're Judith Miller, you know what I mean. Since most of us do this for the fun and not the money, it raises the cost of compliance beyond what most of us are willing to pay. Sure, the limit's $5000, but why are attorneys and accountants entitled to a cut of anything over that?

Finally, when the Feds walk in and sieze the computer I blog from, they're also taking my business, means of livelihood, family finances, and so on. Try do that to ol' Pinch and see what happens.

Still, HR 4900 does conclude with these soothing words:

Not later than 150 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Federal Election Commission shall publish a single policy guideline for the use of individuals engaging in online communications which describes in plain language the rules and regulations applicable under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to individual Internet activity.

That makes me feel much better.

March 8, 2006

Hanna Resigns

State Senator Deanna Hanna has resigned. Ken Gordon calls it an "unselfish act," which is probably true, but it was still the right thing to do. Hey, it's hard out here for a pimp.

I wonder if she gets to take her office account with her, though.

March 7, 2006

Hanna Barbarians

In case you haven't had to buy a house recently, State Senator Deanna Hanna is working overtime to neutralize the corruption issue for Democrats.

In the meantime, both citizens and the JeffCo DA are starting to circle, initiating recall petitions and investigations.

While Republican Joe Stengel did the right thing by paying back the money and resigning his leadership post, Hanna seems to be stonewalling, claiming that she did nothing wrong, counting on the partisans in the ethics investigation to cover for her "reparations" request.

Maybe they can just make the check out to her office account.

February 27, 2006

Colorado Attorney General's Race

View From a Height has it from, er, reliable sources, that Boulder business attorney Fern O'Brien plans to enter the race for Attorney General as soon as this week.

O'Brien will run as a "privacy in health choices" candidate, code words for abortion, but will also seek to position herself as center-left, citing a long business career prior to entering the law. She's probably helped in that regard by the fact that, despite being from Boulder, she has a career practicing business law, not as a leftist activist.

It's not as though Suthers is walking into this race with a hugh war chest - a search of the Secretary of State's site shows little-to-no activity for 2005Q4. Look for fundrasing to pick up. Heh.

January 30, 2006

Culture of Entitlement

Apparently, state Democrats figure that since they supported the Ref C tax increase, they get to decide how it gets spent:

Republican state lawmakers who opposed Referendum C are lining up with ideas on how Colorado should use the extra money the state will collect over the next five years, raising eyebrows among some of the Democratic leaders who fought hard to pass the measure.

Just two weeks into the 2006 legislative session, several Republican lawmakers who opposed lifting the state's revenue cap and pledged to be the state's fiscal guardians are pushing bills that would use some of that Referendum C money.


That litany has caused some Democrats to complain that those lawmakers don't have the standing to say what should be done with the money.

"These people chose not to be part of the solution," said House Majority Leader Alice Madden, D-Boulder. "Part of me says, 'Too little, too late.' They're a day late and $300 million short."

This explains why Alice Madden isn't House Speaker.

In fact, it also indicates at least the second time that the majority Democrats have had to re-iterate that fact, indicating more insecurity than they'd like to let on. After all, the House rules are such that if the Dem caucus were united, this sort of browbeating wouldn't be necessary. The only way any of these ideas gain traction is if some Democrats support them, making the target of this outburst obvious.

It also suggests that the Republican gubernatorial nominee has a chance to carry down-ticket seats with him, if he chooses to.

January 29, 2006

The War and the Temptations of Electoral Politics

Since the Republicans are right on the War on Radical Islam, and since that is the defining issue of our time, and since, for the moment, most Americans agree, there is a strong temptation to try to ride this issue to victory after victory.

This would be a mistake with potentially tragic consequences for the party, and worse, for the country.

At the most basic level, the war is only one issue, and one that operates primarily (although not exclusively) at a national level. Focusing on the war makes it easier for down-ticket large-government Republicans to recreate the successes of Illinois and Pensylvania. Simultaneously, failing to make electoral tests of free-market economics and conservative social policy puts off serious reduction of government indefinitely - since those issues never win a mandate.

More importantly, though, acquiescing in making the war a partisan issue makes it almost impossible to win the war. Bruce Catton, in a series of lectures, published as America Goes to War, points out that the Civil War - and any war in a democracy, really - is as much a political problem as a military one.

Lincoln understood that the war couldn't be won if it became a Republican War. Lincoln was able to co-opt prominent state and local Democrats through the device of the "political general." Whatever their military shortcomings - and it's far from clear that they, rather than the professionals - did the lasting damage to the war effort - political generals served to keep the war non-partisan, and to keep the country generally unified on the issue.

In allowing the War on Radical Islam to become partisan, and by not co-opting lower-tier Democrats, every election becomes a referendum on the war, even if that's not the issue forwardmost in voters' minds. In means that in order to win the war, Republicans have to win every time, and in a 48-48 (or even 52-48) country, that's just not going to happen.

Now it's no good saying, "the Democrats wouldn't allow that this time - they were too set in their Bush-hatred." Even given that certain elements of their party were beyond hope, it's the President's job to find a way to get as many of them on board as possible. The longer we wait, the more powerful the anti-war voices get within the Democratic party, and the harder the job gets.

January 26, 2006

Salazar on Justice Thomas: "an Abomination"

Sen. Salazar, champion of civil discourse.

Thomas is an abomination. James Dobson is the antichrist. And Thurgood Marshall's on the way to sainthood. Good thing the liberals are around to preserve separation of church and state.

January 16, 2006

Beauprez & The House Leadership Race

As a Congressman, Bob Beauprez usually isn't dealing directly with the same issues he would as governor. Immigration is one counterexample, where he's helped sponsor a tough border control bill. So are taxes, where in 2003, he supported a bill to reduce capital gains, dividend, and income taxes.

Another is the House leadership race. Rep. Beauprez hasn't yet announced a candidate to support, but he's a member of the fiscally conservative Republican Study Committee, led by Rep. John Shadegg. Shadegg is a reliable conservative, fiscally sound, and squeaky-clean ethically. At issue is both what Rep. Beauprez does and what the RSC as a whole does.

Rich Lowry has pointed out that waiting too long to endorse might doom Shadegg's candidacy. It might also provide cover to people who don't really want him elected.

While, as Michael Barone notes, there's little point in handicapping such a race, and the that doesn't mean we can't ask the representatives who they're backing. The vote may be private, but public statements are on the record. If Beauprez were to make a strong public statement in favor of Shadegg, or to argue that the RSC should declare now rather than later, it would make a strong impression on conservatives who want the party to clean up its act for real.

Beauprez does operate at something of a disadvantage, since he needs to deal with practical issues as an elected official, in a way that Holtzman does not. The House leadership race can provide one barometer of where he wants the party to go when it's under pressure.

Cross-Posted at Holtzman v. Beauprez.

UPDATE: A commenter points out that the National Journal is reporting Beauprez as committed to Blunt. The date of the posting is 1/14, which suggests that it was working off a slightly older list than that. This was before, or close to, the time Shadegg actually announced, at a time when Blunt was trying to sell the fiction that he had it all locked up.

Even public committments are next-to-impossible to enforce. Beauprez could argue that he committed too early & he's sorry about that, but that Shadegg hadn't yet entered the race and, after all, it's better to say something publicly rather than do the traditional private-ballot back-stabbing thing and wait until the vote.

January 13, 2006

The Governor's Role in the Nominating Process

The RMA (in the persons of Ben DeGrow, the Kestrel, and me) had a chance to interview Governor Owens after yesterday's State of the State address, and the last question asked was about his role in the ongoing Republican gubernatorial nominating process. In short, whether or not it made sense for him to have a role.

His answer can be summarized (not quoted) as follows: He intends to keep a low profile, but is backing Rep. Beauprez. His main purpose in doing so is to preserve party unity, since he sees a practical need for the conservatives in the party to work with its more centrist members, something that neither side always appreciates. Owens told Holtzman that he was backing Beauprez even before Holtzman decided to get into the race, and that Holtzman shouldn't be surprised. Owens seemed genuinely offended that Holtzman would run his campaign against him, and promised that "human nature would kick in," and he would defend his record. In any event, he'd like to be in a position to help whomever the nominee is to win the general.

Everyone wants to win - the Governor's Mansion and at least one house of the legislature if possible. Still, Owens was largely behind the whole Pete Coors thing in 2004, and in the two interviews we've conducted so far, it's clear that Holtzman has more ideas ready to go than Beauprez does. If John Kerry in 04 or the British Tories over the last decade hold any lesson, it's that electability isn't enough to get you elected.

That's not to say Beauprez can't or won't win. It's not to say that by the time people start paying attention, he'll have enough well thought-out policy proposals to fill Ken Salazar's pick-up truck. But Dick Wadhams - remember Dick Wadhams, Governor? - is a big fan of primaries, figuring it makes a better candidate come October. Getting outside help is liable to fool the nominee into thinking he's a better candidate than he really is.

I'm not sure the Governor should be involved here. (Recall the 1988 Presidential race, where the Republicans held neither house of Congress, and yet Ronald Reagan simply refused to insert himself into the nominating process.) I realize he genuinely believes that Beauprez is the better candidate, and he's certainly got the stronger presence in the state. But a debate about the party's character and direction is more or less inevitable upon the retirement of a popular governor, and using the considerable power of the governor's office to short-circuit that debate is likely to breed resentment rather than unity.

December 23, 2005

Senatitis Comes Early...

... to Colorado's former Attorney General:

"The president could have gotten permission (for wiretaps) from the FISA court," Salazar said Monday, noting the secret federal court was establish for intelligence purposes. "There is a court procedure for this. It's a very important question whether the president has broken any laws in ordering this surveillance and the American public needs to know the truth."

Salazar sent a letter to Specter, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Monday, saying the FISA legislation allowing secret surveillance and searches requires FISA court approval.

"The administration's reported assertion that it did not do so because it was inconvenient to do so at least arguably constitutes a violation of federal law that should be investigated by Congress," he wrote.

On the radio, I also heard a radio snippet of him saying that he didn't know of any legal precedent or statute under which such surveillance would be legal, which is a much stronger statement. Also a much more ignorant one.

Now, this comment came a couple of days ago. But at the very least, it implies a need to issue pronouncements on subjects where the Senator hasn't got a clue yet. I know he claims to be a supporter of the Patriot Act, possibly a holdover from his selective law-and-order days here in Denver. But he's also an attorney, has attorneys on staff, and could at least do a little background research before opening his mouth.

Even if it's only reading this and this. Waiting for the latter would have delayed the Senator's Olympian comments for all of one day, although he would have missed the Sunday papers, to be sure.

December 16, 2005

The Governor Boots Immigration, Too

Governor Owens, trying to get back into the graces of the free-market conservatives whom he abandoned in his rush to raise taxes last year, has now endorsed the idea of a privately-run guest-worker program for the US. The image that comes to mind is that of a plane, having lost hydraulics, trying to steer using engine power, and wildly overcorrecting back and forth.

I'm as free-market a conservative as they come, but even I can see that this is, to be blunt, a horrible idea.

To be fair, this isn't the fox guarding the henhouse. This is the fox being given the keys to the henhouse while the owner goes out recruiting more foxes. Business doesn't want the laws we have now enforced. Their entire incentive is to keep the borders as open as possible. I have no doubt that business could devise a plan that was easy-to-implement. Also easy-to-outlive, outrun, evade, avoid, duplicate, deceive, and corrupt.

Once it became clear that some guy with a box of green paper and a Xerox machine was handing out tickets in Tijuana, the government would have to step in, anyway, and not merely to create its own system, but to ferociously prosecute anyone who had come within a hundred miles of the border, er, system, set up privately.

About the only benefit I can see is that it's given Joan Fitz-Gerald a chance to prove what a fool she is:

Senate President Joan Fitz- Gerald, D-Jefferson County, said the plan appears to favor big business and wealthier undocumented immigrants who can afford to return to their country and go through the process.

This is a woman who clearly has all the skills necessary to serve in a legislature. Her class-warfare instincts are so well-honed that they even extend to dividing up one of her party's core constituencies into haves and have-nots. Or in this case, haves and don't-needs.

She even manages to accept the frankly bizarre notion that anyone already here illegally from Guatemala or Ramadi is going to cheerfully stroll back across the border and literally, not figuratively, stand in line. Suppose he's denied re-entry, especially now that physical border control is supposed to be more effective? Why take the risk dealing honestly with a system that's proven itself with decades of ineptitude?

Admittedly, the Democrats are worse. They're happy to sandbag business with the responsibility of proving that an applicant is here legally, above and beyond checking Social Security numbers, which apparently the government can't certify the integrity of any more. But they only want to shut off the private carrot. Schools, hospitals, public services of all kinds would remain available, across an effective open border. The net result is a system where illegals can freely come across in search of government benefits without even the promise of work. This doesn't merely bankrupt us financially, it imports all the worst aspects of the world the migrants are trying to esacpe.

Whatever border control is, it's primarily a sovereignty issue. We can choose to have an open policy, as we did for many decades, or a closed policy, as we did for many decades after that. But we can't credibly have any policy unless we can control, document, and potentially deport the people coming across. Fobbing off administrative responsibility onto a group whose interests lie entirely in the other direction makes no sense at all.

November 17, 2005

Barone Speaks

I had the pleasure of attending the Independence Institute's Founders Dinner last night. The Institute has been around for 21 years now, and this was a chance for a relative newcomer like myself to get acquainted with a prior generation of conservative and free-market activists, people whose names aren't so well known outside those circles. In part, this is because they were the change, starting their work during a period of high-profile Democratic governors and senators such as Dick Lamm, Tim Wirth, and Gary Hart.

On display was some of the best-known local talk radio talent, including Mike Rosen, Jon Caldera, and John Andrews. Andrews was presenting an award to Ralph Nagel, local architect-turned-campaign donor, and when he finally got to speak, he took it out on Daniel Liebeskind, somewhat to the bewilderment of the assembly.

But the highlight of the evening was Michael Barone. Barone has only recently emerged as a conservative writer, having had to develop his career hiding in the tall grass of the Washington Post editorial page, but his literally encyclopedic knowledge of gives him the tremendous advantage of being able to take the long view.

Certainly he got off the best line of the night, when discussing the effect of Hurricane Katrina on the administration's image. While pointing out that it was primarily the local and state governments that had failed, he suggested that we grade them on a curve because,

they had the same original handicap as Haiti: a legacy of slavery run by the French, which is very difficult to overcome.

Baron's basic point is that as we move to a post-Industrialist economy, we will also move to a more decentralized society, and that it's up to us, the free-marketeers and those with respect for the founders, to make sure that our governmental institutions also reflect that shift.

November 9, 2005

A Week Late and Many Dollars Short

The state audit board released a report showing that the CU Foundation has been spending like drunken sailors, and that CU itself has few, if any structural answers to this mess.

Boy, I'm sure glad we didn't know about this before we voted for Ref C.

November 7, 2005

Holtzman v. Beauprez

Venturing back into the realm of the Group Political Blog, the Rocky Mountain Alliance is today launching Holtzman v. Beauprez, based on Salazar v. Coors and the grandaddy, Daschle v. Thune. Yes, it's hosted here, but it's not like I actually have any control over what gets posted. I do have some control over the layout, so look for some enhancements over the next couple of weeks.

As I mention there, we already disagree about this race, and nobody has yet come out with a formal endorsement. Given that the election itself is over a year away, we can all be thankful for that.

It will have a separate notifications list - although I'll probably be cross-posting all my relevant entries - so if you want to be on the HvB mailing list, let me know, and I'll add you to it.

Looks like it's going to be a close race, too, which should make for better copy.

November 4, 2005

Marc Holtzman Is For Real

Michael, Ben, and I had a chance to sit down with Marc Holtzman yesterday, and I now understand why campaigns organize these things. All three of us were leaning towards Bob Beauprez; all three of us are now reconsidering that not-position.

I don't want to repeat their analyses, so I will just add my own impressions. First off, the campaign is clearly well ahead of normal schedule in terms of organization and ground game. Secondly, Marc really is an ideas guy. And third, there's the Internet: it's not just for email anymore.

I'll start with the ideas. Holtzman is a former VC and investment banker, and he's clearly applying that technical knowledge to the state's budget issues. His arguments in favor of securitizing the tobacco settlement are the kind a finance-type would love, citing interest rate spreads and long-term effects of health education, funded by, er, the tobacco settlement. He makes a strong case that the state will never get a better deal than the one it can get now, and putting that money away to retire debt or for a rainy-day fund can be part of a structural solution to the budget problems.

He also talks about securitizing other state assets such as real estate. His example is the highly-successful REIT that Tony Blair launched in Britain, based on Public Health Service properties. The problem is that politically, it's already been charicatured as selling off the State Capitol, and he'll need to find specific, goofy examples of property that the state owns. I'm sure they're out there.

By comparison, a number of Beauprez's answers seemed sincerely conservative but not yet a governing program. He'll have to come up with something that fits that bill.

As for the ground game and technology, the campaign is impressive. They're already well ahead of where a campaign normally is, in terms of counting heads going into the convention. Holtzman also talked about using a VOIP conference-call technology that captured hundred of voters for over 45 minutes. Cool stuff.

Holtzman is clearly positioning himself as the non-establishment candidate, recalling Ronald Reagan's visit to Republican Party headquarters in 1977. (The Rockefeller Republicans running the party stiffed him. They paid for that later.) So internal rebellions can happen. But the more common career path for a party insurgency is the Howard-Dean-Mike-Miles trajectory.

The good news, from Holtzman's point of view, is that he's a much more substantial candidate than Miles ever was, and a much more serious person than Howard Dean. And while Dean counted on college students in Iowa, Kerry had organization. We know how that one turned out.

Stay tuned folks, this one's just getting started,

November 2, 2005

If You Don't Pass This Bill, We'll Shoot This Blog

The Online Freedom of Speech Act, designed to protect blogs and the Internet from the predations of McCain-Feingold, failed to make it out of the House this evening. Hat tip: Powerline, although it appears that this was a procedural motion to suspend certain House rules in order to move the bill along. The motion got a majority, but not the super-duper-majority (with acknowledgements to Arlen Specter) that it needed.

Colorado's delegation voted 5-2 for it, with only Diana DeGette voting against, it, presumably because it doesn't prevent blogs from price-gouging.

Oddly, the other "no" vote came from the very conservative 5th-District representative Joel Hefley. What's up with that?

Referendum C - What Went Wrong, Where Do We Go?

With Referendum C passing by about 52-48 yesterday, TABOR limits are essentially repealed for the next five years. Regardless of what proponents say (and don't those proponents just say the darndest things?), the money can be used for anything, anywhere, anytime they like. However, the baseline income tax rate will be reduced in five years, and barring any new referenda, TABOR limits will also return then. Naturally, the fear here is that a psychological boundary has been crossed, one that will make it easier to pass new taxing and spending measures in the future.

What Went Wrong? Basically, this loss was a comprehensive, although not massive, failure of Republican and fiscally conservative leadership in the state. Once the Governor gave the game away by not coming up with effective counterproposals, we couldn't count on a unified Republican response. Despite this, the measure still only passed by 4 points statewide, which means that the argument was not only winnable, it was almost won.

The remaining state leadership - the House Republicans, John Andrews, the Independence Institute, and the Club for Growth, failed to work together effectively. Each group maintained its own websites, its own financing, its own commercials, and its own message. One example: I had no idea where to get lawnsigns or bumper stickers. I live on Monaco effing Parkway for crying out loud. You don't think that getting a few thousand cars a day to see a yardsign on private property would have made some difference? When your entire morning commute consists of Red-Yellow-and-Blue-plastered medians, a certain sense of inevitability begins to set in. Even a few black-and-gold signs along the way would have reminded people that it wasn't a thought crime to oppose a tax hike.

Secondly, while political and academic debates about why an idea is bad are terrific for party and ideological health, they're death-on-a-stick for a political campaign, especially one about a ballot measure. A simple irrefutable message, endlessly repeated, is far more effective. That would have required an umbrella organization like the Pro-C forces had, one that could have coordinated immediate responses to Pro-C tactics, and would have reminded those non-profits (and their donors) that they're better off building grass-roots support for their projects than spending money on lobbyists.

And finally, an umbrella organization would have required political leadership to take the helm here. Look, Jon Caldera's a bright guy, but didn't it occur to anyone (other than maybe Caldera) that having the libertarian leader of a think tank be the main spokesman for a Republican cause wasn't the best job fit, as they say? Think tanks are for ideas; they provide intellectual capital, they shouldn't be spending it in advocacy. Can anyone imagine the head of the Heritage Foundation, or the Claremont Institute, or the Manhattan Institute, or the Hudson Institute, or the Hoover Institute, leading a political campaign? The point here isn't to "influence the debate," it's to win the vote. Too many people saw a chance to make headlines, and as a result, we lost the campaign.

So how do we keep a TABOR defeat from turning into the catastrophe we're all afraid of? Long-term planning. If we're afraid of long-term programs building in a structural need for higher taxes, we need to point it out loud and long when it happens. This requires a combination of a legislative, executive, and political program, and it requires years of coordinated effort. It requires a legislative leadership willing to push for changes in how accounting it done, and it requires a governor willing to keep his promises on how the money is spent. And it requires groups like Claremont, the Independence Institute, and the Club for Growth to agree on how to measure this spending.

First, money is fungible. Part of C requires a report on how the extra money is being spent. In the real world, that's called a "budget," but in the new political culture of the state capitol, it will be an excuse to take all sorts of new programs, put them under the budget, and take all sorts of old education-roads-research spending and count it under "new money."

The Republican legislative leadership needs to begin drafting legislation, now, today, to make sure that doesn't happen. If they can't they need to issue their own annual reports conforming to those standards. And the governor need to show a little spine and veto spending bills that don't meet the standard, either. So he loses the override? Too bad. If Owens wants to keep next year's Republican nominee from running against his legacy, he needs to show that the party still stands for fiscal restraint.

Secondly, long-term Fiscal Notes. Right now, any piece of legislation requires a 2-year Fiscal Note, an estimate of its spending and revenue effect on the state. Stretch that to 5 years, to put it into the context of a re-TABORed budget. Then the storyline always becomes the effect on the budget after the new rate comes into effect. You think this isn't powerful? Wait until every new budget item is accompanied by a paragraph about how much more money they'll need to keep it going.

When the Democrats complain that 5 years is too long to estimate budgetary effects, remind the public that 1) they were the ones who sold a 5-year plan in the first place, and 2) businesses do it all the time, when valuing companies or evaluating new projects.

Third, compile 5-year budget estimates. This shows the overall iceberg before we hit it, and is the mirror of the Govnernor's Favorite Chart, showing exactly those projects in order to sell Ref C.

Finally, Porkbusters, Colorado-style. If Porkbusters can scrutinize the federal budget for bridges to nowhere, surely we can do the same here.

Fine, we lost the vote, now we have to deal with the consequences. The question is, are we willing to build for the long-term, in order to avoid the fiscal mess Ref C makes possible?

November 1, 2005

Why Refs C&D Are Like Passover

Passover is a expensive holiday that demands extensive preparation. So a lot of people (usually with a lot of money) decide to go away to a Pesach program, at a hotel, and Leave the Kashering to Them. Some friends of ours run such a program, and were kind enough to have us as guests a few years ago.

The logistics of preparing a tour like this are complex. Not only is there the catering, but also the kashering of the kitchen, the programming, setting up a synagogue in the hotel, programming, children's programming, arranging local tours, and so on. Families want special rates. They need special room arrangements for wheelchairs. Some people arrive in the middle, some people leave in the middle, and some families partially arrive in the middle, and want rooms near each other. D-Day took less preparation.

Now, these programs are pretty expensive, especially for a family. A family of four can easily spend $30,000 on such a trip, and some families do it every year. Which means that when things go wrong - and they always do - people complain. As my friend Avi put it, "when you're paying $30,000 for a vacation, every meal is a $30,000 meal, because that's the number they remember."

And that's where C&D come in. When we were interviewing Bob Beauprez, he recalled a conversation with the police department in Delta, and how desperate they were for their piece of that $3.7 billion. "How much of that do you really think you're going to get?" he asked them, in a conversation since repeated a few hundred times. "I think they thought they were getting the whole $3.7 billon."

In fact, since nobody really knows how much they're going to get, $3.7 billion is the number they remember. So every slice, every nonprofit, ever fair-to-middle Montessouri school in the middle of Montrose turns into Mr. Berger, Esq, from Manhattan, and his family of five. Just as every seder turns into a $30,000 meal, and every broken TV remote turns into a $30,000 call to the hotel staff, every non-existent allocation turns into $3.7 billion.

Remember, there is abosolutely nothing statutory about where this money gets spent, how it gets spent, or who gets to see it. Legislatures can't bind their successors that way. The C&D proponents simply dangled this $3.7 billion number in front of these guys, and they all figured they're get a generous helping. They foolishly looked at the long list of advocates, and thought this must be a good thing. In fact, tonight, if C passes, every name on that list makes each piece that much smaller.

When those guys who put their names on the line for $3.7 billion get a check for $5,000, they're going to be more than a little disappointed. And no, don't expect them to have second thoughts about the process. Expect them to ask for even more money.

Which just goes to show that generous non-profits can be just as short-sighted and selfish as anyone with retained earnings.

October 31, 2005

Salazar's Feelings Wounded

Turns out there's no truth to the rumor that Scalia recommended Alito for the Court just to get his hands on the new justice's Italian recipes, featuring the famous Sauce Alito.

OK, if you're still with me, we can get down to business.

Turns out our new junior Senator has a pretty thin skin. According to the Post, Salazar, sulking outside his office like an Achilles heel (although Achilles didn't usually call press conferences to complain),

Speaking with reporters Monday outside his office in Denver, the freshman senator said he was dismayed that "there was no consultation whatsoever with members of the Senate" over the choice, which he said was part of deal the "Gang of 14" senators hashed out.

"That is disrespectful," Salazar said, noting he learned of Bush's latest choice on TV.

Oh, the horror of it all, having to hear about it on television! The shame, the insult, the embarassment, the sheer humiliation! Maybe Salazar is having a flashback to his prom or Sadie Hawkins dance. There must have been some glitch in the system, because as part of the vast right-wing blogospheric conspiracy, my own personal elk came by at about 5:00 AM Mountain Time. Since I haven't heard anyone else complaining about being dissed, maybe Sen. Ken just forgot to set his clock back, although according to Chuck "The Phish" Schumer, if he's confirmed, Alito will be doing that for the whole country. Maybe with the extra sleep, Salazar won't be such a grouch.

Also note how Salazar thinks that the White House is governed by an agreement among Senators concerning their own procedures. And never mind that there was obviously plenty of consultation in advance of the Miers nomination. I'm sure her name wasn't the only one that came up; it's obvious from media reports at the time that Alito was being considered, so obviously there was consultation, whatever that means, about the Judge. The whole thing looks like an Official Senatorial Temper Tantrum, which I understand is part of freshman orientation.

Salazar also complained that Bush did not nominate a woman to replace Sandra Day O'Connor. At least three suitable candidates are available in Colorado alone, Salazar said - including Colorado Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Kourlis, "a Republican well-versed in western water law."

OK, scratch the part about Sadie Hawkins. Salazar's been pushing Kourlis for months now, but really, neither he nor she is all that important, and with all due respect to western water, it's just not that big a deal, either.

Salazar said he hopes to meet with Alito, as he did with then-chief justice nominee John Roberts and with Miers. Salazar voted for Roberts, but said he hadn't decided on Miers before her nomination "was basically killed by the religious right."

Can the Senator name a single leader of a major conservative or evangelical religious group who came out against Miers? I know this is now part of the established mythology, but the National Review Online was the loudest voice complaining about Miers. They're certainly to the right, and some of them are even religious, but somehow I don't think that's was Sen Ken was trying to allude to.

Other Democrats are questioning Alito's past opinions, saying he could tilt court positions against abortion rights. But abortion for Salazar "is not a litmus test," he said.

One of the standards he'll use in evaluating Alito is the extent to which the judge respects legal precedent and has an ideology to impose on Americans.

Of course, "precedent" and "ideology" are the current focus-group-tested liberal code words for "abortion," there being only one precedent that matters (or, if you're Arlen Specter, "super-precedent," or "super-duper-precedent"), and only one ideology that's acceptable. So this is a little like my saying that I won't hold my food to a kosher litmus-test, but I do check to see if it's got a little O-U on it. I'm far from the Catholic or conservative Christian position on abortion, but any legal position that claims that first-term abortion can only be protected by legalizing infanticide has to be classified as an "ideology."

So Salazar is pouting over invented Senatorial privileges (which really takes some imagination at this point), making up political dynamics, and talking in code like a Navajo during WWII. I think our junior Senator needs to grow up.

October 20, 2005

LPR Reception

We're not supposed to blog about specifics with the LPR, but the official website mentions this evening's class reception at the Governor's Mansion.

Not sure about pictures, but I wonder if I should bring a polarizing filter, in honor of Refs C & D?

October 10, 2005

Denver Post: Free Speech = "Loopholes"

For the Denver Post, First Amendment protections apparently are "loopholes" to be examined.

In an article about free speech campaign finance restrictions, the Post focuses on conservative groups' efforts, while biasing the article in favor of such restrictions in general.

(This isn't the first site to notice the - oddity - of the state Democrats becoming concerned about the new campaign finance laws just as the Republicans begin to figure them out. Apparently the game is to keep the rules moving just fast enough to stay ahead of your opponents in understanding them, while retaining the moral high ground of "reform.")

The Post has not always been so solicitous of public opinion, especially when it comes to illegal immigration and gay marriage.

Even if government lawyers or state legislators come up with ways to better regulate the flow of money...

No, no assumptions here. In an article about "loopholes," "better regulate" means closing those "loopholes," or further restricting speech. won't be in time to impact the 2006 elections. The contests include an open governor's race and an open seat in the 7th Congressional District, 65 state House races and 17 Senate seats. Republicans could regain a majority in the Senate by taking back just one seat.

How, exactly, is this last more relevant than the Democrats gaining a majority of the state's Congressional delegation through tha open 7th District seat? Or the effect of any number of other electoral outcomes? Apparently, the main issue is the tenuous nature of Democratic control of the State Senate.

In 2002, Colorado voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment 27, which overhauled campaign- finance disclosure rules in an effort to get big money out of politics. The measure limited campaign contributions, encouraged candidates to curb their spending and banned corporate and union contributions to candidates and parties.

The unintended effect, say some political observers, has been to encourage interest groups to exploit gray areas in the law and invoke broad constitutional protections such as free speech to continue the activities voters sought to regulate.

Imagine that! People using First Amendment guarantees to safeguard their free political speech.

For instance, the Independence Institute has been accused of running political ads couched as educational material. Critics say the Golden-based think tank should disclose donors who have supported its radio ads about Referendums C and D. The institute says it is merely educating the public.

Apparently, they missed this proclamation by a 501(c)3 in favor of Referenda C and D. This decision has been defended on the grounds that it's a referendum, not a candidate being supported, a distinction that apparently escaped the notice of the Post when writing about the Institute.

In fact, the main abuse of system was by Democrats in the 2004 State legislative campaigns:

Colorado Democrats used the loophole last year, a maneuver largely credited with giving Democrats control of both legislative chambers.

That's the extent of the article's mention of 2004. The fact that not all of these activities were exactly, uh, legal seems to have evaded Mesdames Caldwell and Crummy.

In fact, the article devotes 78 words to Democratic and union groups, and 328 words to offenses - real or imagined - by conservative or Republican groups.

Continue reading "Denver Post: Free Speech = "Loopholes"" »

September 23, 2005

The Alliance Storms LPR

I'm pleased to announce that the Leadership Program of the Rockies has accepted the Alliance's own Ben DeGrow into the class of 2006.

For some reason, I'll also be joining Ben, bringing to three the number of Alliance members who've gone through the program. I'm really looking forward to this.


Power, Faith, and Fantasy

Six Days of War

An Army of Davids

Learning to Read Midrash

Size Matters

Deals From Hell

A War Like No Other


A Civil War

Supreme Command

The (Mis)Behavior of Markets

The Wisdom of Crowds

Inventing Money

When Genius Failed

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Back in Action : An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith and Fortitude

How Would You Move Mt. Fuji?

Good to Great

Built to Last

Financial Fine Print

The Day the Universe Changed


The Multiple Identities of the Middle-East

The Case for Democracy

A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam

The Italians

Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory

Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures

Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud