Commentary From the Mile High City

"Star of the conservative blogosphere" Denver Post

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Joshua Sharf

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April 21, 2009

Ranking Colorado's Tax Burden

Rep. Lois Court sent out her blast email yesterday, trying to put in a few bullet points the fiscal tangle we're in.  Give her credit, she did mention Amendment 23.  But the bulk of the bullet points were about Bird-Arvescough, TABOR, and a claim that the Tax Foundation says we're 6th from the bottom in state tax burden.

Look again.  Maybe we're 6th from the bottom in state tax burden only, or in per capital dollars taken in by the state.  But what counts is state and local tax burden, since a large proportion of state outlays go to localities.  Unless you're freezing property taxes, local taxes can replace state funding, and vice-versa.

  • In 2008, according to the aforementioned Tax Foundation, Colorado wasn't 46th (counting DC), it was 34th in percentage of personal income taken for state & local taxes
  • According to a calculation I made from Census Bureau data, we were 40th in per capita dollars
  • According to Governing Magazine, in 2006, we were 20th in dollars, and 38th in percentage of personal income taken for taxes
Lois also stated that "we can't borrow our way out of the problem."  No, but the state can - and has - issued debt to pay for capital projects.  Oh, has it ever.  Also according to governing, we're 6th in the country in state & local debt as a percentage of state & local revenue at 97%.  According to the American Legislative Exchange Council, we're 48th in debt service as a percentage of the state budget, at over 11%.

No, we can't borrow our way of the problem; we've borrowed our way into the problem.

Finally, Lois claims that "Taxes + Fees = Revenues = Services."  Well, sort of.  A number of programs and departments have done little more than hire more staff, and a considerable amount of state government goes not to providing services but to writing and enforcing regulation and to re-distributing wealth.

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 5, 2008

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 30, 2008

How Swede It Is

I had the pleasure of chatting with Carl Kangas of the Swedish Social Democrats this evening on the Sharf for Colorado Blog Talk Radio show. Carl is with the communications staff of the party, and is over here looking specifically at ways to leverage the Internet for direct contact with voters.

During the broadcast, I mentioned some trade figures for Colorado exports to Sweden. Here's the source. (You want to click on Export Product Profile to a Selected Market.)I also mentioned the Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom. For more basic information about the country, here's Sweden's World Fact Book entry.

After the show, I called Mr. Kangas to thank him, and we had a further discussion about the Swedish electoral system. While Sweden has public financing of campaigns, there are no actual restrictions on party fundraising, and the ruling Conservatives (one can't properly call them, "Tories") have raised about $10 million over this election cycle. To put this in perspective, Mr. Kangas noted that about $15 million would let you compete effectively as a party in national elections.

He also mentioned that Sweden has a closed primary system, so only party members choose the candidates, and that the long-ruling, now-brooding socialists, only have about 100,000 members nationwide. He said that one delegation was in Orlando, studying the use of volunteers, and the possibility of students getting college credit for pushing socialist ideas during election time. Hmmm. How novel.

We also got to discussing the differences between his party and the ruling Conservatives. Mr. Kangas noted that they had successfully positioned themselves to the middle, by appealing to workers. He also mentioned that the top marginal tax rate was probably about 45%, quite high by US standards. But then, the government consumes 56% of GDP, and the country has been able to get by with only 1.5% of GDP going to military spending. (This means that yes, Sweden has a navy, but that it's not exactly responsible for fending off pirates through the Straits of Malacca.)

Thirty minutes wasn't nearly enough time; I would have liked to ask him about differences between Sweden and the other Scandanavian countries, something about Swedish history, immigration, and the modern Swedish economy. Ah well, maybe when I do the remote from Stockholm.

October 29, 2008

Tails From the Trail

So I see where we've passed 7,000 voters visited. At this rate, the the Dow and I will pass each other by Election Day...

I also checked the site statistics for the campaign site. Turns out that the number one search phrase leading people to the site is, collectively, variations on "colorado ballot cheat sheet." Number two is "Joshua Sharf" or "Josh Sharf." Gives you a little sense of perspective...

Phone calls are almost as good (almostl, but not quite). If you keep it short, and don't try a hard sell - which I'm not any good at, anyway - people seem genuinely pleased that you called. This is good, because people don't open their doors after dark, which is geting earlier and earlier...

Village Inn has done a nice job of remodeling their interior. Kind of like what Howard Johnson's would do now...

October 25, 2008

Stockholm Syndrome

Boy, you never know what's going to come up as a candidate, do you? Turns out that next Sunday, I'll be chatting with what looks like the largest Swedish expeditionary force since Gustavus Adolphus, a delegation from that country's Social Democratic Party, who will be here to observe the tail-end of the US election campaign up close and personal.

Yes, that's right; I'll be spending next Sunday morning talking with a group of actual, real-live socialists. And I didn't even have to contribute hundreds of dollars under an assumed name in order to do it!

They're sponsored by the State Department, the Swedish embassy, the local branch of the Institute for International Education, and something called the Meridian International Center (whose DC home is right next door to one of my favorite parks in the city).

Actually, we probably won't be talking much about policy. This particular group is especially interested in our use of new media, including the radio show, the Blog Talk Radio show, the blog, and our use of social networking. I'm still hoping to lasso one of them for an appearance on the BTR show next week, but nothing's definite yet.

October 23, 2008

Joshua's Wry Bread - III

October 20, 2008

Joshua's Wry Bread - II

October 19, 2008

On The Trail

So Friday evening, I came home, fed the dog, lit candles, and lighted out for the Cherry Creek Homeowners' Association wine tasting. Parked the car someplace less likely to get a ticket for staying parked over Shabbat, and headed over to the Bank Farthest Away From Where I Live.

It was a fun event, even though I could have neither wine nor chocolate, enjoyed meeting people, most of whom don't make nearly enough for Diana DeGette to think they need to worry about capital gains or dividends.

Did I say Diana DeGette? She was actually there, and we had a pleasant conversation, a little about our respective races, and then some about the gold standard. She seemed like a genuinely pleasant person, although for some reason she expected me to disagree with McCain's assessment that Obama's a socialist. Someone please name one Obama policy that any left-wing party in Europe would disagree with. If you can find any left-wing parties in Europe still in power, that is.

(Side note: a promo for Life on Mars, wherein someone from our decade gets the joyous experience of reliving the 70s, apparently to teach all of us how far we've come since then. And yet, how far we have left to go.)

And today, it was walk walk walk. Which, on a torn calf muscle, I gotta tell ya, was just great fun. I walked home Friday night, and probably aggravated some mis-step I made when looking at the walking list instead of the sidewalk.

It's funny how much you remember from when you walked the neighborhood the first time, in the primary. I'm meeting Independent voters and reminding Republicans, and I remember a surprising number of people I met the first time through. Often it's the name, often it's the house, and sometimes it's a combination of both. It's almost always someone I had an actual conversation with, and I can frequently remember the question they asked me that started it off.

You wouldn't think that, meeting literally thousands of voters and constituents, any one would stick in your mind like that, but they do. So I guess there are lessons here for both candidates and constituents. if you want to be remembered, ask questions. And if you want to get elected, pay attention.

Joshua's Wry Bread - I

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 10, 2008

Ways to Help Without Amendment 51

We all agree that there's a huge role for the state government in taking care of developmentally disabled individuals. While we need to guard against mission creep - identifying marginally disabled as needing the full range of care, for instance - we wouldn't even be talking about making these folks productive members of society if the state hadn't begun deinstitutionalizing 20 years ago. So the state has a historic role in helping these individuals, and shouldn't be shirking that.

That said, if this is more important than other things we've been spending money on, we ought to take money from those less important things and fund the waitlist, rather than raise taxes going into a recession.

So, what to do? Well, for those of you looking to make private donations, Jewish Family Services and Catholic Charities each run local group homes.

That helps now. But many parents of developmentally disabled children face the distress of knowing their child will have to face the world without them one day. The Wall Street Journal this morning discusses estate planning especially for such families. Most, after all, are middle class, and should be doing estate planning anyway. They provide a few links for families who want to set up special needs trusts:

  • Academy of Special Needs Planners Professional group of lawyers knowledgeable about estate planning, government benefits and other disability-related concerns.
  • MassMutual SpecialCare Program provides financial products and advice for special-needs families. Agents get special training in disability planning.
  • MetLife MetDESK MetLife's Division of Estate Planning for Special Kids offers products, financial advice and resources for families with disabilities. Web site also features a cost-of-care calculator.
  • Special Needs Alliance Nonprofit group that provides referrals to experienced special-needs lawyers and other disability resources.

They won't obviate the need for a safety net, but they can certainly reduce the number of people who'll need it.

Special BTR Today

I'll be doing a special noon-time BTR show today about the financial crisis with King Banaian of SCSU Scholars, and William Polley of, ah, William Polley.

Hopefully, we'll all learn something.

October 8, 2008

Nice, Guys

This, along with the stolen McCain/Palin bumper sticker, has convinced me that fears for one's property for having a Republican sign up in Denver are not unfounded.

Even paranoids have enemies.

October 6, 2008


Promises, promises.

During last week's Blog Talk Radio show, I promised a whole bunch of links. Here they are.

First, I promised to link to information about solar and alternative energy IPOs, as well as a particular alternativ energy stock index. I can't find the particular index I mentioned right now, but there's a ton of informaion about Solar and Alternative Energy Indexes, so here are two of them:

One's an ETF family, which means you can invest directly, the other is an index, but I'm pretty sure there's an ETF associated with it as well. The laser company I mentioned, whose stock has gotten crushed in the last couple of years, is Newport (NEWP). Only a portion of their business is lasers, but they had been banking heavily on solar, as lasers and optics are used to cut the solar panels and solar cells.

Naturally, none of this is an investment recommendation. It's been a long time since I looked at Newport, and I've done little (er, no) research on either of the ETFs. But it's a good place to follow what the market thinks of solar and alternatives.

And no fair investing, and then begging the government for subsidies or special breaks. (Hear that, Mrs. Pelosi?)

The DOE also has a site on oil shale. I'd strongly recommend printing out and looking at the PDFs on the various issues, including reserves, recoverability, environmental effects, and so on.

And finally, amidst all the talk about the rescue plan, here's a contrarian view, not merely that it's a bad execution of necessary help, but that the whole idea is flawed. These guys are from the fast-rising George Mason University econ department. They're good, and worth reading on a regular basis.

For a well-informed read from the traditional, "we're doing this to prevent 1930-1940 all over again" point of view, which is clearly where Bernanke & Co. are coming from, you can't do much better than these guys.

I'm going to try, but can't promise to pull off, a discussion between these fellows with me as the moderator over on BTR.

And BTR is at a special time this week: 9:30 on Thursday rather than our regular 9:00. I need a little recovery time from the Yom Kippur fast on Thursday.

September 23, 2008


Support Your Local Gunfighter

State Television, er, Denver Government's Channel 8, is filming a series of candidate forums and debates this week and next week. They have room for about 100 in the studio audience. The studio is at 8239 E. 23rd Ave. near Stapleton, (23rd goes through from Monaco and from Quebec, so it's a straight shot from either of those).

Here's the schedule for our Denver candidates:

Tonight (September 23):
6:00 p.m. - State Senate District 35, Joyce Foster and Bob Lane
7:00 p.m. - State Representative District 2, Mark Ferrandino and Thomas C. ‘Doc’ Miller
8:00 p.m. - State Representative District 3, Anne McGihon and Paul Linton

Wednesday, September 24
7:00 p.m. - State Representative District 5, Joel Judd and J.J. Swiontek

Thursday, October 2
6:00 p.m. - State Representative District 6, Lois Court and Joshua Sharf
7:00 p.m. - State Representative District 9, Joe Miklosi and James Landauer
8:00 p.m. - RTD Board District A, Laura Yribi, John Maslanik, and Bill James

I believe it'll be possible to embed the video from these into websites, but I'm not sure when Channel 8 is going to begin broadcasting them.

Regardless, show up and support our Denver candidates. It's one of the few opportunities we'll have to go head-to-head with our better-funded opponents.

September 11, 2008

Blog Talk Radio II

Tonight was installment #2 in the campaign's Blog Talk Radio show, and we talked about Health Care and, on the anniversary of September 11, Homeland Security.

Here are the links and graphics we discussed:

Robert Wood Johnson on High-Risk Pools
Cover Colorado
Robert Samuelson's article on health care in the US
Gary Burtless, the poverty expert who came up with those surprising numbers

And the three charts I described, a la LaGuardia reading the comics:

And lastly, from our discussion with Capt. Jennifer Steck of Denver's Urban Area Security Initiative, Ready Colorado. Be Prepared!

September 5, 2008

How Palin Plays in Douglas County

First words out of Steve Terry's mouth this morning at the Douglas County First Friday Breakfast:

"Sarah Palin!"

Followed by a hearty mock cheer, that was repeated by just about every speaker.

People are not fools. They understand the humor, as well as the very real effect that Gov. Palin's nomination has had on this election. But they also understand that she's the Vice-Presidential nominee, not the Presidential nominee. Her nomination may turn out to be game-changing, and people have real affection for her, but are also capable of keeping things in perspective.

In the meantime, it was strange to be at one of these breakfasts where the majority of speakers were elected officials rather than candidates.

August 19, 2008

Hospital Transparency; It's Not Just For Gowns Any More

If expanded markets in health care are going to work, then we need informed consumers. I can spend hours looking for the best tour package, comparing hotels, finding what airline will save me $10 on a seat if I walk down the ramp backwards flapping my arms. But if I had to pick which hospital to direct the ambulance to when I have my coronary bypass, I would probably have said, "Rose, Jeeves."

Silly me.

Markets only work if parties have real information to base their decisions on. Without feeling sorry for insurance companies, it's possible to admit that part of their premium comes from asymmetrical information: applicants lie. Likewise, it's tremendously difficult to act like health care consumers because we don't have the information that we have when we're buying vacations or melons.

Now, comes a Colorado company, HealthGrades, which seeks to provide just that information to health care consumers - outcomes for hospitals, comparisons for physicians and nursing homes. This is exactly the kind of company that, if allowed to pursue its business, can help change the world.

Right now, the revenue model seems a bit...muddled. It appears to be a combination of selling reports and selling Google ads. I'm sure they've done much more market research than I have, which is none, but it seems a bit steep to ask a consumer to pay for this sort of report, when they're already putting up money up front for an HSA and its deductibles. On the face of it, it seems that the best bet would be to seel licenses to insurance companies, who could then market access to the information as part of an HSA.

And note that the only government action required is to get out of the way.

August 13, 2008

The Morning After

Well, of course, you can always go read what the campaign has to say.

By now you know that the result was 71% - 29% in our favor. You also know that Lois Court won over on the Dem side against Liz Adams and Josh Hanfling, 44-38-18, respectively. What was interesting was that the preponderance of the vote was early (in our case, about 1800 of 2500 total votes were cast early). We won 75% (yes 75%) of game-day voters, but it barely nudged the overall percentage.

The early mail-in results were reported as 70% of precincts reporting, which meant, in this case, 70% of the vote. (The precincts apparently called in the number of votes cast, but Election Division had to count the paper ballots back at HQ.) So we had mathematically clinched by the time the first couple of precincts came in. And yet, the habit of watching the percentages, and watching them move, is so ingrained that it overrode the hard numbers.

A side note about the East Side Kosher Deli, which did a terrific job catering the event, with veggies, a chicken-finger variety pack, all sorts of beverages, and delightful crescent rolls.

Afterwards, Mark, his kids, and I went down to the Election Division to watch the process and the count. It was painfully slow. The central counting of paper ballots has some virtues - accuracy and a permanent records, mostly - but speed isn't one of them. The boxes have to come in, be correlated with the precinct, leftover ballots accounted for, etc. Then they're entered into the system, and finally counted. There's a whole conflict-resolution-escalation process in the event that the hyper-sensitive scanner spits them out.

The whole experience was a bit like going on a factory tour for Tillamook cheese. Yes, you get to watch it from a safe distance, and it all looks good. But if someone's systematically poisoning the product, you'd have no way of spotting it. I don't think anyone's doing that, but it just means that the only way to make the process truly transparent is to also make it truly invasive.

To their credit, at 11:00 at night, Alton Dillard, Stephanie O'Malley, Michael Scarpello, and Tom Mann were alert, friendly, and informative. I had probably been up longer than they, but still, to be that chipper that late just isn't natural. A particular thanks to Alton, who was ultra-responsive to requests for data over the course of the primary. I know, he was only doing his job. But there's doing your job, and then there's Doing Your Job.

Now, we have to start studying the numbers for the general. This is gonna be fun.

August 12, 2008

Primary Day

And oh the expectation
The sublime anticipation
He must feel about Election Day to come

Yikes. Out of my hands now. It's all about the voters - those who have voted and those who haven't - and the most I can do is to take a tour of the precincts, maybe make a couple of calls. But mostly, it's a day of preparation rather than activity. Shave & a Haircut. Two Bits. Shine shoes. Pick up the two suits and 14 ties that are over at the dry cleaners.

Oh, and get up at 5:00 to be on a 6:00 AM conference call for a code launch here at work.

Fasten your seatbelts.

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.

August 6, 2008

(Not) Lost In Translation

More from Rima Barakat Sinclair's big adventure, the email chat session with the Jordanian newspaper Al-Arab Al-Yawm . The following is a translation of one of her answers to a question from a reader, and consists entirely of her own words:

We are aware that the Arab media influence on Western society is limited, and we also know that the Arab issues are not fairly covered in the western media. There are many Arab American organizations that provide activities aimed at the definition of truth and justice the Palestinian cause.

The source of activities in non-Arab countries, which were founded some 20 years ago, has remained limited within the point of view and vision of the founding members of those organizations. Most have focused their efforts in Washington DC, leaving their influence on public opinion and American media deflated.

There are several factors affecting the ability of Arabs to launch publicity campaigns to explain the issue and win the American people to their side. One of them was the lack of interest by Arab tycoons or companies in producing films or television program available for worldwide sale. This is the reverse of the actions taken by a number of wealthy Jewish supporters of Zionism like Robert Maxwell and Conrad Black and Rupert Murdoch. So media campaigns advocating for Arabs or Muslims in America are limited to the efforts of individuals or small enterprises that suffer most from financial difficulties and limited distribution.

The reality of a Western media hostile to Arab and Islamic issues will not change as long as Arabs are only waiting for the West to see the "right," one day, without developing an integrated effort to deliver their message. A dialogue of religions is needed, and part of the Divine message is that the powerful should have compassion for the weak.

Ideally, morality starts with tolerance of others and self-understanding. If people applied this principle in their own lives, it would solve many of their problems. What applies to individuals applies to relations between nations. But reality dictates that the strong decide what is "right." It is the duty of the victim to remind the strong that he didn't consider the effects of his unjust abuse. Therefore, it remains important that one talk with a strong knowledge of his thinking and point of view. This does not mean forgetting or abandoning the right.

The Saudi Madrid initiative has received wide and positive media coverage, especially by the one rabbi invited to the conference. And since Saudi Arabia began and will continue this initiative, it is preferable to encourage religious scholars and Islamic institutions to study and support such initiatives, instead of having the positive reaction only or participating in conferences organized to discuss Islam by non-Muslims.

Well, at least it isn't the weird paranoid theories about McCain and Obama conspiring to turn Jordan into a holding cell for Palestinians.

Note also the purpose of the interfaith activity. Some of us have been called some pretty nasty names for bringing this up. Some of us are owed an apology. None of us expects one.

On the other hand, it does have that bit in it about the Jews running the media. It might be a little more convincing if she had found some actual Jews. Maxwell, yes, but Murdoch & Black, no.

You know, one time I was in Johnstown, Pa., site of the flood, for work. I took the afternoon off and went to a local very minor league baseball game. Of course, I was wearing the yarmulke. So two guys come down, sit on either side of me, and say, "You're not from around here, are you?"

Frequently, those words, directed towards someone wearing a yarmulke are quickly followed by, "and would you please go back." In this case, it turned out to be a couple of local yiddin who worked sports for the local radio station and newspaper. They wanted to let me know about the minyan.

"So," I said, "it's true. We really do control the media."

Back then, it was funny.

UPDATE: The newspaper has been named, and it has been made clear that all the indented comments are Mrs. Barakat Sinclair's own.

August 4, 2008

Campaign Details Nobody Ever Tells You About

For instance, strangers asking how they should vote on ballot issues and other candidates. They're not the local Republican equivalents of Obamatons, but people really want to know what you think.

So, for the record:

Denver Question 100: NO. It's a good idea, taking away the vehicles from illegal aliens. But there doesn't seem to be an out for someone who loans his car to a friend, where that friend has let his license lapse or has a problem. Most people don't go poking around their friends' driving records. This contigency won't happen often, at least not innocently, but there's no reason not to close this loophole and resubmit.

Denver Question 1A: NO. At first glance, this appears to be an attempt to substantially reduce citizens' rights to put questions on the ballot. I know we're all a little frustrated about the number of issues showing up on the ballot, and I know the government is particularly frustrated at having itself second-guessed by the people it works for. Too bad. Explain to me what problem this is supposed to solve, and I'll think about supporting it next year.

CD-1: George Lilly. George has been quietly and personally supportive of my campaign without openly taking sides. And when I had the chance to see him and Mr. Crain side by side in the HD-6 forum, he came across as the more solid of the two. Now George is a completely committed Ron Paul guy, so know what you're getting, but know it's much better than the alternative.

"Public Good"'s Just Other Words For Nothin' Left to Choose

With apologies to Mr. Kristofferson.

Proponents of a single-payer health care system here in Colorado have taken to referring to health care as a "public good." In theory, this means that everyone is entitled to the service. In practice, it means that choice in the system - from insurance to actual health care, will disappear virtually overnight.

Advocates of Single-Payer compare medical services to police and fire protection. Indeed, as a humane society, we're not simply going to allow people to die in the street, which is why we fund ambulance services to go along with the hook-and-ladder. By analogizing these to a generalized "right" to health care, the single-payers wearing the checkered sportcoats are hoping that you won't notice that the creampuff they're trying to sell you is up on blocks and has no engine.

We have a police force because we have laws, and someone has to enforce them. We have a public fire department in part, because fires have a tendency to spread, and because private companies had have a tendency to have the crassus of manners.

And we still supplement police forces with security services and fire departments with sprinkler systems.

There are issues that could be qualified as public health problems. But these tend to be epidemiological in nature, the sort of thing where, if you get sick, then I and a thousand of my closest friends get sick. Or let's all agree to get our kids vaccinated against the mumps. The obvious power of these arguments is the main reason for mislabeling things like eating, drinking, and smoking as "epidemics," rather than genetics or self-control.

The implications of misclassifying normal health care as a "public good" are a dramatic and inevitable loss of freedom. If the government is responsible for paying for your health care, then it can also ban transfats, ban fast food restaurants (from neighborhood apparently too benighted to take care of themselves), and John Edwards can plausibly claim that citizens should be legally required to get annual physicals.

The food sold at restaurants becomes a "public good." There's no logical reason why the food sold at your local grocery shouldn't be subject to the same scrutiny. We'll just be expected to be grateful when it isn't.

August 1, 2008

Rima Campaigning in the Foreign Press

The following appeared in Watan, an Arabic-langauge American Newspaper, describing an email interview that Mrs. Barakat Sinclair gave with the Al-Arab Al-Yawm Newspaper in Jordan. It is a quick translation of the article, but for all that, it's a translation by a friend of mine, who is a native Arabic speaker, and is fully correct in its substance.

According to Rima Barakat Sinclair, a candidate for the state House of Representatives in the American state of Colorado, Jordan would be transformed into being a substitute nation for the Palestinians sometime in the next few years.

The idea of Jordan being a substitute homeland for the Palestinians isn't a new idea. It is said that McCain will declare Jordan as a Palestinian state, and that Obama will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This is proof of the warming of public opinion's support for the Israeli position in American politics. It is also proof of a disgraceful lack of support for the honorable and united Arab positions. This has been known to many people.

Talk about Jordan as a substitute homeland has been growing every day. The neocons, and especially Elliott Abrams, the "nation builder," has called for quite a while for a substitute homeland in order to relieve the problem of the presence of the Palestinians in Palestine.

At the present, Jordan is going through difficult time. The prices of food, oil, and diesel are much higher than in past. The people are hungry and afraid of a dark future, and pressure on them grows like throwing kerosine on top of gasoline. All of the tribes, the Syrians, the Sharkas, Armenians, Palestinians, need to be watchful, and not to allow this conspiracy to happen. History shows that any attempt to pass the Zionist designs were preceded by attempts to take away from the citizens the hope for a generous and respectable life. It is followed by a game of blame between one segment of the people to another, and worse than that also happened.

In my personal opinion, if things remain the same, Jordan will be transformed into being the substitute nation for the Palestinians in the coming few years. Support for this idea has been expressed in the American Congress.

The gift that keeps on giving. I'm not going to waste time on the equivalent of arguing that the Royal family aren't the humanoid form of alien space lizards.

The point is, either Mrs. Barakat Sinclair's fevered imagination honestly believes this stuff, or she's pandering to the culture of paranoid conspiracy theories that frolics in the petri dish of Arab society over there, by attacking both major party candidates and the body politic.

I realize that, post-Clinton, it's de rigeur for national Democratic candidates and office-holders to slight the US on foreign soil. I hadn't realized that it was now acceptable for candidates for state office to campaign overseas.
She is, quite obviously, using her status as a candidate to enchance her credibility within the Arab world.

Mrs. Barakat Sinclair clearly sees herself as a representative from the Arab world to the US, and from the US to the Arab world. May I suggest that each could do better.

July 31, 2008

How a Campaign is (and isn't) Like a Startup

As a result of the campaign, I've been invited to chat with the local IDEA Cafe, basically a support group for aspiring and recovering entrepreneurs. Since it's a decidedly non-political group, I'll be talking about process, rather than policy. Basically, a campaign is a startup, and the campaign and entrepreneurs probably have a lot to learn from each other.

How so?

Well, for one thing, you had better have done your research before you start running. Your product is a combination of positions and proposals. (To some extent, your product is also your positioning relative to other candidates, but more about that later.) If you think you're going to have time to do research and refine the product once the campaign is underway, good luck with that, as they say. Part of a campaign is working on and refining message, but the basic product, and the principles underlying it, had better be settled before you start to run.

Probably the piece of the campaign that people are most familiar with is the marketing aspect - segmenting the market, and then trying to position yourself into (and your opponent out of) favor with those juicy segments. Here's where your brand - i.e. party - can either help or hurt. Trying to get yourself in front of as many voters as possible also matters, and there are free forums and so-called earned media that are less available to entrepreneurs, by virtue of the process.

And then, there's funding. Like any good enterprise, a campaign needs to show the prospect of a return on an investor's money in order to raise funds. And like any good pie of investors, the target group can be divided into more and less risk-averse. The great risk-takers will help fund the petition drive. But many folks won't contribute until you're past the primary.

Here again, the value in funding a candidate can vary from race to race. An investor in a candidate in a safe district might be seen as looking for access once the person's elected. A contributor in a close race is looking to boost that party's prospects for control. A candidate in a more difficult district can still raise money by broadening the theater: after all, votes in his district count towards state totals on things like ballot initiatives and Senate and Presidential races. And every candidate can sell the longer-term, multi-cycle business of fighting the battle of ideas in the trenches.

And then there's the Exit Strategy. Campaigns usually have a series of well-defined exit strategies; they're called, "elections." Although, if you think of the operation in terms of a political career, and not just one campaign cycle, then it more closely resembles and ongoing operation. The problem is that way, way too many candidates and politicians do exactly that...

Continue reading "How a Campaign is (and isn't) Like a Startup" »

July 30, 2008

Profiles 'n' Courage

I like Project VoteSmart. A lot. I've liked them ever since I discovered the, as a Gopher site, 14 years ago in the 1994 election cycle. They keep track of voting ratings by lobbying and interest groups, which means that Tom Daschle can't be a liberal in Washington and a conservative at home. Nor, one hopes, can Mark Udall.

They ask candidates to fill out both a profile, which ought to be relatively harmless, and a Political Courage Test, which is largely vanilla for state candidates, but covers the waterfront on issues. You're allowed to leave up to 30% of the test blank and still qualify as having completed it.

Now I can see why candidates might consider this sort of thing a trap. Even though you're given a chance to 'splain yourself, stark multiple-choice answers, or checkboxes, and the kinds of things candidates abhor. And yet, when asked by the Denver Post whether or not they'd fill out the test, every one of 'em said, "yes." Presumably, they've thought long and hard about their positions, and are prepared to defend them.

So far, of all the Republicans, "Republicans", and Democrats who are running for House District 6 here in Colorado, one has.

July 25, 2008

Courting Trouble

Last night, I'm leaving a brochure on the door of an apprently unoccupied home, when I hear fron across the street, a voice call out, "Yeah, you'll find lots of Democratic (sic) houses on this street."

You talking' to me? You must be talkin' to me, 'cause I don---. Oh. Wait. And there's Lois Court, walking the same precinct. Well, "walking," loosely used. Because whereas I tend to park the car and use it as a base, Lois apparently fires up the gas-guzzling greenhouse-gas-belching Jeep Grand Cherokee of hers evey half-block or so.

"Hey, Joshua!" (What, you're reporting a private conversation between candidates on the blog? Any conversation that takes place across the street at Wagnerian voice levels that start the neighborhood dogs barking stretches the definition of, "private.")

Me: "Hey, Lois!"
She: "I was worried until I realized we weren't hitting the same houses."
Me: "No, not yet, anyway."
She: "No, not ever!"
Me: "..."
She: "Looks like it's going to be me and you running against each other in the fall!"
Me: "You think so?" (I have no idea how to handicap their race, and for all I know, she says that to all the Republicans. In any event, whenever anyone tells me I've got the primary locked up, I gently ask them what the Patriots' record was last year.)
She: "Yeah, it'll be fun. We'll get a chance to really mix it up."
Me: "Well, that is, if you'll debate me."
She: "Oh, I'll debate you. Nobody will come, but I'll debate you."

Nobody will come? Oh Lois, that's just wishful thinking on your part. Anyway, you're on record now as agreeing to a debate. You sure you want to do that?

Later, she offered to let me sign the SAFE Initiative, but twice refused a friendly wager on whether or not it would pass. You know, that's just the kind of thing political futures markets like to know about....

Oh, the Fall's going to be fun indeed.

July 24, 2008

Breakin' the Cartel

Windsor Gardens is a nice retirement condo community out on the east end of the District. The buildings there are closed, you can't go door-to-door, you can't leave literature, and you have to get permission from the office to put up notices on the bulletin boards.

The Democrats are very organized, with reps in every building. The Republicans haven't had an event in years.

So naturally, after Burt Walker spent weeks getting the event put together, and volunteers spent a number of evenings calling as many Republicans as they could, after the Republican Club was r-established, and volunteers put flyers in every building, I got a call the day before the event.

Blocked Caller ID
Me: Hello?
She: Who is this?
Me: Who is this?
Brief, petulant pause
She: I'm (name withheld), and I'm a Democrat over at Windsor Gardens. I'm trying to reach the Joshua Sharf campaign.
Me: Well, I'm Joshua Sharf
She: Nothing like going to the top.
Me (mildly sincerely): Well, I hope we haven't done anything to upset you.
She: (A long explanation of how she found flyers(!) on the bulletin board(!), and how we must have broken the rules to get them there.
Me: No, we've been very careful about following the rules. Why don't I give you Burt's phone number?
She: Thank you. Now, could I come to this event?
Me: ...
She (defensively): I wouldn't be disruptive or anything.

I leave it to the reader to understand why she would assume that I might believe that a Democrat might disrupt a Republican event.

Me: Certainly, it's open to everyone.
She: Oh, ok.

Basically, the woman called up to try to intimidate me, and to put me on notice that the Democrats wouldn't suffer dissent lightly. Oh I know that. Can't tell you how many people won't put up yard signs, citing relations with their neighbors. Don't think the Democrats have such concerns.

Look, these guys are the A team, the majors. They've had Windsor Gardens to themselves for so long they probably think that the Democrat party holds all the mortgages. A simple event, drawing about 50 people to Centerpoint, paralleling a similar event the night before, was enough to draw their ire and their fire.

Just more evidence that Hugh Hewitt was right.

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)

July 17, 2008


Yes, it's been a little busy around here, and the blogging has suffered. And will continue to, at least for a day or so.

In the meantime, check out the new branding on the YouTube site.

Funny the things you notice when you're walking. The other evening I walked past the Knight Fundamental Academy, which didn't even seem to have any stables. Not the kind of place you'd think would be big enough to teach the basics of swords, lances, and horses. Turns out it's a magnet school:

Our school was begun in 1982 with a Back-to-Basic's approach to learning. Our student’s curriculum is based on Math, Reading , Writing, Spelling, Composition, Grammar,Science, Discipline, and Citizenship. While our students thrive in a teacher-based learning environment we enrich the curriculum with Music, Art, Computer, Library/Research and daily physical Education/dance.

Apparently, they're not so hot on punctuation and capitalization. Apostrophes, commas, and capitals are 6th-grade subjects. Indeed, looking at that list, it makes one wonder what the non-magnet schools are teaching. On second thought, I really may not want to know.

July 10, 2008

In Their Own Words

Tuesday night, the HD-6 Republican party hosted a candidate forum. The CD-1 candidates and Bob Lane, candidate for the State Senate, provided the undercard. My opponent and I provided the main event. The rest of the videos from that performance are on the way, but for the moment, here's my opening statement, and both of our closing comments.

There's a little bit of ambient noise, and the video could have been shot from the MindEraser at Elitch's, but, hey, it's not like we're NBC here...

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 29, 2008

First Thursday Redux

BUMPED. Welcome Backbone Listeners!

Rima was apparently at the State GOP Convention, where they were using candidate speeches to fill some extra time. When they ran out of time to fill, she hadn't yet spoken, but they had to move on. Naturally, it was a conspiracy not only against her, but against, well..

First Thursday Breakfast

"everything called legal immigrant, everything called Arab American, and everything called Muslim." And not only the State party, including Bob Schaffer, but the national party. Wow, they must really be taking her seriously.

This was recorded at the Macaroni Grill, at the last Denver County Republican First Thursday Breakfast, on June 5.

UPDATE: The embedded sound file was evidently causing problems with some older browsers, so I've replaced it with a link to the sound file.

June 22, 2008

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

Rima was apparently at the State GOP Convention, where they were using candidate speeches to fill some extra time. When they ran out of time to fill, she hadn't yet spoken, but they had to move on. Naturally, it was a conspiracy not only against her, but against, well..

First Thursday Breakfast

"everything called legal immigrant, everything called Arab American, and everything called Muslim." And not only the State party, including Bob Schaffer, but the national party. Wow, they must really be taking her seriously.

This was recorded at the Macaroni Grill, at the last Denver County Republican First Thursday Breakfast, on June 5.

UPDATE: The embedded sound file was evidently causing problems with some older browsers, so I've replaced it with a link to the sound file.

June 17, 2008

CHUN Candidates' Forum Post-Mortem

A good time was had by all. We had a crowd of about 50, but probably 10 of those were directly related to candidates, and it seems as though everyone was there for District 6. Apparently the organizers were disappointed that nobody was sticking around for District 8.

As for the organizers, they did a very nice job, and I want to thank them for their efforts. They had both water and Coca-Cola (the sore throat's elixir of youth) available, kept the proceedings moving, rotated our responses fairly. The timekeepers were polite but insistent on their time limits. I might have preferred 1:30 reponses rather than 1:00, especially when the question is about health care. But with five of us up there, anything else would have been unfair to the audience.

I operated under the assumption that most of those present were Democrats, so while I did make a nod to party affiliation, and the fact that the party needs to regain its branding, I did have a job to engage the Dems rather than my primary opponent.

For instance, it was telling that the Dems all support Romanoff's proposal to ditch TABOR in favor of the teachers' unions. Of course, it was also telling that, now in control of the legislature, they have a sudden disdain for the initiative process. An initiative process that was put in place, as a check on the legislature, by their namesakes, the "Progressives." And they all expressed the absolute need to fully fund and finish FasTracks. I may be mistaken, but I believe that was also in response to my own, ah, skepticism of large, sprawling, inflexible capital spending.

As for my opponent, at times it sounded as though I was the only Republican on the platform.

  • In response to a question about vocational education, she expressed sympathy for state funding of post-high school vocational training. (There are already many private schools doing this sort of thing, and companies will pay for the skills and pay for the training.)
  • She also expressed opposition to the ballot initiatives, not out of hostility to their goals, but out of fear that they were bypassing the legislature.
  • She stated that, "right-to-work" appears to be "hard on the middle-class," despite plenty of studies showing that labor benefits from a free labor market.
  • She claimed that subprime lending was "predatory" and contributed to the "devastation of our economy." This is a populist statement that ignores the fact that the government created the subprime market in the first place.

    For someone who claims to be about smaller, smarter government, we've got four statements here that support exactly the opposite.

    In the end, it was a terrific way to start the Candidate Forum Season. We got to draw some distinctions, and we got to lay out the themes of our campaigns.

    Again, my strength is in answering questions rather than the set-piece intros, but sooner or later, the two-minute egg-timer stump speech is a must.

  • June 16, 2008

    Health Care...and What To Do About It

    Finally, the long-awaited Health Care plank is up! And to save you the click:

    Health care in the United States is among the best in the world, but practically nobody likes the system. Our private insurance system is incomprehensible. Our public systems - accounting for fully half of healthcare spending - are expensive, restrictive, inefficient and unfair.

    As a result of IRS rules, dating from WWII wage-and-price controls, exempting employer-paid insurance from income tax, many people even make job decisions based on the availability of health insurance.

    Some have used this discontent to push for even greater government interference in the system. Calls for mandates, single-payer insurance, even socialized medicine, have become commonplace. The Governor's 208 Commission was stacked with members pre-disposed to further state intervention. The Commission rejected the one free-market proposal presented to it.

    In addition, insurance is expensive because we're over-insured. If we bought car insurance like we buy health insurance, we'd have coverage for oil changes, and all have special truck-bed insurance, even for our sub-compacts. Typical health insurance cover routine needs that, for the most part, we could easily afford. And we are required to buy services that we will likely never use.

    The government is simply not capable of determining what insurance best fits each of us. We are.

    And for these services, we're not spending our own money. We see absolutely no monetary benefit from making smart consumerist choices in our health care. Therefore, there is no incentive for us to save money. Thanks to services like WebMD, we are increasingly consumerist when it comes to our treatment; there is no good reason why we can't adopt similar consumerist attitudes when it comes to payment.

    The problems with our health care system stem not from too many market forces, but from too little. The solutions to our health care lie in re-introducing market forces.

    Health Savings Accounts, combined with high-deductible catastophic insurance, provide the most efficient, most affordable combination of coverages.

    While Medicare and prescription drug reform will have to wait for Federal action, there is much we can do at the state level to make insurance and care more afforable for our citizens.

    We can:

    • Change Colorado's Medicaid to more closely resemble HSAs, along the lines of South Carolina's reform;
    • Encourage the use of Health Savings Accounts;
    • Allow Coloradoans to buy out-of-state health insurance plans to encourage competition;
    • Remove restrictions on walk-in clinics to allow Target, Costco, Wal-Mart to provide affordable basic medical care;
    • Require hospitals and clinics to make outcome data available for informed consumer comparison.

    June 12, 2008

    Wonkfest 2008

    So yesterday was Issue Day. (One issue was whether or not anyone would challenge the petitions, which they did not. Another procedural hurdle passed.)

    The other issues were presented at the Independence Institute Candidate Briefing. Along with a 3-ring binder, suitable for masonry work, we got a day's worth of briefings on various topics of interest to state and local candidates. This included a slightly incoherent discussion of education by the RMA's own Ben DeGrow, previously seen schlepping Diet Coke out of the conference room into the office area.

    It's this kind of a day that makes me think it might be more fun to work there than to run for office, a calculation that Caldera apparently made years ago. These folks cover the waterfront, and just about every session had some tidbit suitable for candidate consumption.

    The briefings were at a variety of different levels, but it'd be fair to say that they assumed a certain familiarity with the principles behind them. For instance, when Lin noted that it's philosophically incoherent to refer to health care as a, "right," because it's a product, it assumes an understanding of 1) scare resources, 2) what Rights are in the Constitution, and 3) the qualitative differences between the two.

    The group was mostly Republicans, although there were a few capital-L Libertarians. This isn't really the time to be sniping at them, what with the Republican coalition ready to shake itself to bits along that fault line, bringing down itself, the party, and the Republic in one fell swoop (no, not really). But it's interesting to note where their attention lay, and how they differed from some of the Republicans.

    One fellow, during Jessica Peck Corry's discussion of higher ed, couldn't resist carping that Constitutional education should begin at the White House. (Jessica pulled double-duty, by the way, trying to cram property rights and higher ed into 30 minutes total. Good luck with that.) For the budget, he seemed mostly concerned with the cost of prisons, although that's probably actually a proxy issue for the number tenants.

    Another fellow, in an after-hours education/school choice website tour, pointed out that parents don't actually have to have their children inoculated. Perhaps his slogan should be: A Childhood Without Mumps is Like a Day Without Orange Juice! On the other hand, he had a valid point about electronic toll roads, and the toll-collection systems being able to track your movements. Personally, I do find that a little creepy myself.

    For my own race, Lois and Liz probably understand the budgeting process fairly well, and I'm not so sure about Josh Hanfling. But they also fell back last night on...questionable...numbers like "49th in education funding," and "800,000 Coloradoans without access to health care," both of which are demonstrably untrue. They may go over well with the CHUN crown on Monday, but the election is all about the debate, and yesterday's briefing is designed to make that a hell of a lot more fun.

    June 11, 2008

    Crestmoor Homeowners

    The first of the real candidate appearances this evening, and a reminder of how hard it is to fill three minutes intelligently. I used to do it all the time at the Hall, but I'm a bit rusty, and honestly, it showed. Admittedly, I did something that none of the Democrat candidates for the office did - I tried to tailor the remarks to the audience. (Rima was a no-show.) Josh H., Liz, and Lois all gave what sounded like pretty well-worn stump speeches, but didn't really display any understanding of the district or of the precincts.

    Still, when I practice, I'm a pretty good public speaker, and over time, that'll come to the fore. I'll have another shot facing the liberals up at the CHUN forum next Monday.

    June 5, 2008

    Officially Sufficient!

    I just received word from the Secretary of State's office that I have an official "Letter of Sufficiency." According to the letter, of the 910 signatures we turned in (apparently there were some issues that kept about 50 of the 958 we turned in from being admitted), 707 were sound, and we needed 605.

    This means that there will be a primary and that my name will be on the ballot.

    Once again, a huge thanks to the volunteers who did all the real work, and let's gird ourselves for the 10 weeks until Primary Day.

    May 30, 2008


    Finally. In a fit of simultaneous relief and and anticipation, we turned in 958 signatures to the Secretary of State yesterday, and will, barring some unexpectedly catastrophic turn of events, be on the primary ballot come August 12. The SoS seemed to think it would only take a couple of days to check each signature line-by-line, and while they have until June 13 to finalize the ballot, we'll know for sure by the early part of next week.

    For larger petitions, for say Congressional or statewide seats office or initiatives, they'll do a statistical analysis first, and then when the loser complains, they'll do a more thorough analysis. But in this case, a concerted effort would take a day or so to manage. Since I'm not the only candidate or initiative petitioning onto the ballot (just the only one I'm writing about), it may take them more that a few hours to finish the job.

    In the event, 25 people helped to gather signatures, some having an evening to gather a handful, and some having seemingly endless amounts of time, and bringing in over 100. Every last one of them mattered - which is also clearly a lesson for the primary and the general. Some will be moving on to other pursuits, although most have made it clear that they want to help out in whatever way possible for the rest of the campaign. A heartfelt and sincere thanks to them all.

    UPDATE: Well, naturally it was a "fit" of relief, not a large coniferous vegetation of relief.

    May 22, 2008

    Walking the District

    I'm not going to pretend it's not a lot of work walking the precincts. Going door-to-door, asking people to sign for you, it's a lot of work. But it's an education, and it's actually fun once you get into it.

    One lady said that, "it's terrible what they make you do to get on the ballot." Well, I appreciated her sympathy, but the fact is, it makes sense. If your can't get 30% at Assembly, then you should have to prove that there is a significant number of party members who want you on the ballot.

    People have, in general, been very nice, even when they don't sign. And the number who won't sign is very, very small. This being a heavily-Democrat district, many Republicans are simply happy to see a fellow Republican aggressively running a well-organized campaign. Hugh's right that regulars are suspicious of activists, but well-groomed candidates are the kind of activist everyone likes.

    About 3/4 of homeowners have dogs. And about 1/2 the owners are scared their dogs will bolt out the front door. I haven't worried about that too much, ever since I accidentally left the gate open and Sage ran away to the front porch.

    I've had a great team of signature-gatherers. They've been tireless, and some of them don't seem to have any other extra-curricular activities. But the fact is, I'm my own best advocate, and I think I get a better reception than they do, not out of any great talent, but because people seem to respect someone out there walking for himself. I certainly respect the help I've had.

    You also get to see how diverse the district is. There are precincts that are apartment buildings, precincts with small, medium, large, and palatial houses. But with few exceptions, people are friendly in all of them.

    So far, I've walked my own precinct, some neighboring ones, a couple down in the southern part of the district, and one out east. Next week, I'll probably try to visit the western part of the district, where I haven't been yet.

    And this is only the beginning.

    May 16, 2008

    Clash of the Joshes

    So the dog goes nuts, I go to the door, and it's...Josh Hanfling, who's also petitioning onto the ballot, on the Democratic side. Susie used to be registered as a Democrat here in Colorado, before she became that increasingly rare bird, a New York Republican. So Hanfling was here for her signature, not mine.

    He seems like a nice fellow with a winning personality, who's genuinely more interested in policy than politics per se, but who's also clearly too liberal for the state. It'll be fun debating him in the Fall, carving up his policy proposals, and showing that if he really wanted to get elected, he should have stayed a Republican.

    He also doesn't seem like the sort who would have the time (he's petitioning on, remember) or the inclination to play games by sending over his people to support my opponent in a primary dust-up. Which raises the question: who exactly is supporting my primary opponent, if not Republicans?

    May 6, 2008

    White Water

    Apparently, the crews are working overtime to clear Independence Pass this year by Memorial Day.

    Actually, that's not snow. It's the styrofoam we put out in the winter, and then hire the college kids to slowly remove and store inside the mountains during the summer.

    Which means that it won't be melting, causing flooding and then disappearing down to Arizona because we don't have enough storage to keep it here in Colorado.

    Most of the comments on the Rocky article are of the "Thank goodness for global warming," variety, which is understandable, given that this winter saw record snowfall in China, cold snaps in Canada (that's news?), extremely heavy snow here in Colorado, and snow in Iraq. (And given the Mahdi Army's recent performance, maybe they ought to go ahead an adopt the snowflake as their symbol.)

    Look, long-term trends don't get undone by one cool, wet winter. But let's keep an open mind here. My money's still on the sun, not on us, and if it does start to get cooler again in the next few years, we may regret having turned so much of our food into fuel.

    April 23, 2008

    Prominent. Heh.

    So, according to Westword, I'm a "prominent Colorado blogger."

    Indeed, the most prominent Colorado blogger-turned-candidate other than Bane is Republican Joshua Sharf, who aspires to serve as a state representative in the 6th District. (Sharf authors a blog called "View From a Height" and has contributed to the Denver Post's site, home of the so-called Gang of Four, in addition to co-hosting a KNUS talk show with former state senator John Andrews.)

    The article is actually about Jason Bane, co-founder of Colorado Pols who's now running for office as a Democrat in Jefferson County. They link RockyMountainRight, conservative blog and friend of this blog and my campaign. But instead of linking to the story about Bane, they just link to the blog. (I haven't researched the accusations about Bane, so I have no position on their truthfulness or relevance, just for the record.)

    C'mon, Westword. Link to the blog posting in question instead of making people search. You should be "progressive" enough to know how that works.

    April 16, 2008

    Read My Lips...

    ..No New Taxes.

    This morning, I signed both the Americans for Tax Reform Tax Pledge, and the Colorado Union of Taxpayers Pledge. I'm not big on too many of these pledges in general. They tend to be somewhat absolutist documents that seem more designed to trap politicians than to actually promote a particular agenda. But the no-tax stand is so central to the Republican branding, and so critical in achieving the goal of limited government, that it makes sense both as politics and policy.

    It's interesting to note the differences between the pledges. The ATR pledge is a simple statement not to raise taxes. It has the advantage of being simple, fitting in well with Grover Norquist's goal of restoring the Republican brand as the low-tax party.

    The CUT pledge reads more like a platform than a principle, dealing with the nuts and bolts of what it means not to raise taxes: making choices. Of course, it also has the disadvantage of making you think about the implications of not bleeding every last dime out of the citizenry.

    April 13, 2008

    Steyn - As Only Steyn Can Be

    One of the arguments for hate crimes legislation is that it will deter hate crimes. But of course, this is absurd on the face of it. The drunken gang that's headed out the door to go string up some gay student in Wyoming isn't going to stop at the door and say to themselves, like the cows in a Far Side cartoon, "Hey guys, you know, this is a hate crime..."

    The goal here is that minority groups can claim special protections under the law. And the problem is that all groups aren't created equal. Jews think that they'll get protection from Nazis and Islamists, and end up being told to bug off, because the other groups push harder.

    In 2002, a brick was thrown through the window of the CU Hillel House, and its sukkah had a swastika painted on it. Nope, the Boulder police, doing their best Lt. Frank Drebbin impersonation, decided that this wasn't a hate crime, nothing to see here, please move along.

    On July 4, 2002, an Egyptian living in Los Angeles walked up to the El Al counter at LAX and started plugging bullets into everything in sight. Turns out he had some rather provocative Islamist literature hanging around his apartment and on his front door. Nope, wouldn't want to call this an act of terrorism or anything. Probably upset his family couldn't get a direct flight to Tel Aviv from Cairo.

    Just recently in Brooklyn, an orthodox Rabbi had his yarmulke snatched off his head by a group of "youths" shouting "Allah hu-Akhbar." He chased after the gang, and one of them ended up in the middle of the street where a passing car administered its own form of rough justice. New York's finest didn't see anything odd here, just some kids who probably didn't know what "Allah hu-Akhbar" meant. This is the same mentality that would find the violation of Clean Air Colorado regulations the most offensive thing about a cross-burning.

    In fact, hate crime laws are unnecessary. I've got as much to fear from someone who beats me up for my wallet as from someone who beats me up for my religion. If there are groups promoting this sort of violence, then there are already conspiracy and RICO laws on the books. And if there's a Moseley hanging around with a full-fledged political movement behind him, a little thing like a hate-crime law won't stop him. Like disarmament treaties, they only work where they're not needed.

    But don't just listen to me. Watch Mark Steyn make the case, as only he can.

    And then look at who's speaking in favor of the federalization of thought crimes.

    April 12, 2008

    Talk About Fairy Tales

    It's symptomatic of Rima's integrity gap that she needs to invent things nobody has said in order to discredit references to her own well-documented history.

    This morning, at a Republican Women's meeting, my opponent claimed that, "within a day," I was calling her a "terrorist," a "terrorist sympathizer," and, "anti-semitic."

    Well, one out of three ain't bad.

    This is typical Rima in all her, making up stuff in order to play the victim. Of course, she can't prove that anyone has called her a terrorist or anti-semitic. Because nobody has. All I've done is to compile and quote her own record of activism and over-the-top anti-Israel statements back at her.

    April 10, 2008

    The Big Tent Groans Under the Snow

    Tonight, the J-Goppers are having their Big Tent meeting, in association with:

    • Colorado Black Republican Forum
    • National Asian Indian Republican Association
    • Jewish Republicans of Colorado
    • Log Cabin Republicans
    • Republican National Hispanic Assembly
    • Member groups from the Colorado Federation of Republican Women (CFRW)

    It'll be at:

    Mr. Panda Chinese Buffet
    2852 South Havana Street
    (Across from Lithia Cherry Creek Dodge)
    (Look for the large American Flag!)

    Dick Wadhams, now running Bob Schaffer's campaign, will be there, as will I, and the non-identity-identity candidate, Rima Barakat Sinclair.

    Naturally, there will be about 5 inches of snow on the ground. Ah, Springtime in the Rockies...

    April 9, 2008

    Hijinks in HD-6

    Apparently, a substantial number of Rima's "supporters" at last night's Republican HD-6 meeting claimed to be Democrats who are supporting Josh Hanfling in the general.

    Either these people were telling the truth, and were interfering in the other party's primary process, or they actually were Rima Republicans trying to disguise their numbers. Either case would be par for the course.

    House District 6 Kickoff

    Last night was the House District 6 Kickoff, with appearance by candidates for US House District 1, Colorado Senate District 35, and by my opponent and me.

    During my presentation, I spent the time discussing the principles I hold and the things that - current administration, Referendum C or not - ought to hold us together as Republicans. I'll have a copy of the prepared text, which the actual speech more or less followed - up at the site today.

    The speech and Q&A went well, very well; so well that afterwards, Rima Herself decided to stand up and address something I hadn't raised at all: her dubious record. She'd like to run away from this stuff.

    Frankly, even without it, I'd be a better candidate than she is. Certainly a more Republican one.

    April 3, 2008

    Deadline Push

    One of the thrills about working in a building with a roof under renovation is that thing constantly sounds as though it's going to come crashing down on you. Today, that could have happened.

    I went off to a portrait shoot for the campaign, and came back to an evacuation. Apparently, a structural beam started to buckle, and they ordered everyone out.

    You know, we're on a tight deadline on this project, but that's a hell of a way to get an extension.

    Keep Those Cards And Letters Coming

    I cannot tell you how gratifying it is that people are inquiring as to where you may send campaign contributions, and we have finally set up a campaign committee, "Citizens For Joshua Sharf." The address is:

    Citizens For Joshua Sharf
    c/o Treasurer Mark Makowitz
    PO Box 24926
    Denver, CO 80224

    In a state house race, even a little goes a long way, so thanks to everyone who sees fit to drop a few bucks in the mail.

    April 2, 2008

    They Say There's No Such Thing... bad publicity. From this morning's Rocky:

    Congressional candidate Mike Coffman's campaign on Tuesday informed Sinclair they were going to return her campaign donations because of an interview she gave where she called Israel "an occupier."

    Which is like saying that some Democrats are upset about a church meeting where Jeremiah Wright wore a suit. It's technically true, but it misses the point.

    Here's the transcript. "Occupiers," is the least of it. "Baby-killers," "Saddam Hussein," better describe the tenor of the piece.

    There is also video of the interview. The whole thing's worth watching, but the real fun starts around 2:30 or so.

    You want proof? This is Barakat's record. The original post that started it all, link-filled with references to her activities is here.

    I don't blame Lynn Bartels for not wanting to get into the tall grass of the Israel-Palestinian dispute. She's a political reporter, not on the foreign desk. But there is much, much more to Barakat's activities than one arguable statement in one interview.

    I can be reached at

    April 1, 2008

    Politicker CO Picks Up, Er, The Check

    Jeremy Pelzer, at, a new non-partisan political blog owned by the New York Observer, has picked up the story of Mike Coffman's campaign returning Rima Barakat Sinclair's check. It's a just-the-facts-ma'am piece, but it's worth reading, anyway. He also links to the video.

    March 31, 2008

    Hitting The Trail

    So, after casting about for a candidate to challenge Rima Barakat Sinclair, looking for a candidate who's a legitimate conservative, reasonably articulate, with a history in the party, and a record of promoting free markets, personal liberty, and limited government, a group of us has finally hit, me.

    Yes, I'll be spending my summer just about the last way I thought I would, petitioning on to the ballot to force a primary, and then going on to represent the party in the fall election.

    No, the blog's not going away. If anything, it's going to become more important, as a sounding board for ideas and issues. And as important as this race is to me, what profiteth it man if he gain the nomination and lose his personality?

    If you'd like to contribute time or, eventually, money, drop me a line here or at my email,, and you can be plenty sure I'll get back to you.

    The adventure begins.

    UPDATE: The adventure begins with a little editing. Thanks to all of you who are better proofreaders than I. Maybe there is something to this Army of Davids thing!

    I cannot tell you how gratifying it is that people are inquiring as to where you may send campaign contributions, and we have finally set up a campaign committee, "Citizens For Joshua Sharf." The address is:

    Citizens For Joshua Sharf
    c/o Treasurer Mark Makowitz
    PO Box 24926
    Denver, CO 80224

    Or by PayPal:

    In a state house race, even a little goes a long way, so thanks to everyone who sees fit to drop a few bucks in the mail.

    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.


    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