Friday, February 23, 2007

Out Of Their Depth

One has to wonder why those on the Left never seem to recognize when they are just plain out of their depth on issues. [courtesy CO Senate News]

Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon, D-Denver, lashed out today at U.S. plans to boost troop reinforcements in Iraq and drew a stern rebuke from Senate Republicans . . .

Gordon, speaking at a Capitol news conference hosted by the liberal, anti-war group, Colorado Progressive Coalition, also expressed dismay that “trillions of dollars" are being spent on the Iraq war effort. The entire U.S. fiscal year 2008 budget is approximately $2.9 trillion. . .

Gordon, who was joined at the news conference by freshman Democrat Rep. John Kefalas of Fort Collins, blamed war spending for domestic woes, including Colorado’s inability to fund services like higher education and roads. . .

“It’s very difficult to bring democracy to a country while you are killing, even inadvertently, many of the civilians that live there,” Gordon said. “Although we’ve had 3,000 Americans die, we have also participated in creating a situation where over 100,000 Iraqis have died.”

Perhaps it's because a fawning press never bothers to ask the obvious questions. Like . . .

1. "Mr. Senator, are you suggesting that Iraqi civilians would NOT be dying now if the U.S. had not invaded Iraq?"

2. "Mr. Senator, can you show us where, in the federal budgets for the last five fiscal years, federal spending on roads has been re-categorized for the supplemental military expenditures?"

3. "Mr. Senator, in opposing the President's plan to augment troop levels currently in place in Baghdad and Anbar, is it your belief, contrary to the understanding of every military mind who has spoken on the problem, that civilian casualties in Iraq would be reduced if America maintains the current situation, or even pulls out?"

Of course, the answers to those questions are, in order: we know that Saddam murdered AT LEAST 10,000 Iraqi civilians every year, on average, during his reign; um . . . .no; and every expert who has ventured a guess has used phrases like "genocide" and "3,700 dead in a night" to describe a post-U.S. Iraq.

But Senator Gordon gets to stumble blithely forward in his cocoon of ignorance, imagining himself a great statesman, because NOBODY COVERING THIS EVENT BOTHERED TO QUESTION HIM.

I wonder if a Republican would get the same treatment.

[cross-posted at BestDestiny]

Monday, February 19, 2007

UdallWatch I: First Edition

From time-to-time as Rep. Mark Udall (D-People's Republic of Boulder) gears up for a run at Colorado's open Senate seat in the 2008 election, Slapstick Politics will bring you a round-up of Udall's public statements, policy talking points, and general political views on issues affecting Colorado and the nation. Inevitably the updates will become quite regular, but for now will remain periodic (weekly-ish) until the race really gets going later this year. We'll leave the commentary and the snark for later as well and just let Udall do the talking for now (unless he says something really blogworthy). We'll also quote the stories in case they disappear (links can and do go bad) or in the event the candidate decides to change his mind or deny his previous statements.

Here goes:

Udall responds to President Bush's State of the Union address (Jan 2007):
"The president expressed a willingness to achieve common ground with the new Democratic Congress. Now is the time for this president to prove that he's truly committed to results and not just rhetoric. Coloradans and Americans are hungry for leadership to bring a responsible end to the war in Iraq, for energy independence, health care reform, and fiscal responsibility.

Iraq: Despite misgivings by respected leaders in his own party like Senator John Warner, President Bush is still gambling on an escalation of military force in the Iraq. I am very skeptical that this late effort will work in the context of an emerging civil war and is also too little, too late. Our strategic goal should be to lighten the American footprint in Iraq, not make it heavier. I do not support cutting off funding for our troops in Iraq, but the new Congress has a responsibility to insist on oversight and accountability.

Energy Independence: Last year, the president said that America is addicted to oil, yet today we are not closer to energy independence. Our addiction to foreign oil threatens our national security, our economy, our environment, and our way of life. The president needs to translate his words into action and he can start by fully funding renewable energy and energy efficiency programs, which will help the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, CO. It’s admirable to set goals, but if the president doesn’t set them high enough or provide the necessary resources, his words tonight will remain just what they have been through several State of the Union speeches – words.

Health Care Reform: I share the president’s goal of covering the uninsured, but I don’t think we do that by taxing families and individuals that have good coverage in order to provide incentives to those who don’t have any coverage. It’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul. If you talk to anyone in my district they will tell you that they are paying higher costs for fewer benefits and less choice. I support measures to cover every child in America, to provide coverage to people who have pre-existing conditions and meaningful tax credits to help the uninsured buy insurance. The biggest cost we’ll have is if we don’t act at all."
Udall questions commitment to energy independence (and potential cuts to funding for Colorado's National Renewable Energy Laboratory:
"Where is the balance in this budget, and where is the dedication to energy independence?" asked Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo. "The president needs to walk his talk, and if he will not, I will work with the new Congress to increase funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. Energy independence is so critical to our national security, our energy security and our economy that we cannot afford to shortchange programs that will move us forward."
Udall believes US must plan for Iraq failure:
Rep. Mark Udall told Secretary of Defense Robert Gates today that President Bush's plan to increase the number of U.S. troops to police the streets of Baghdad was "more of the same" failed policy, and that the administration needs to plan for the possible disintegration of Iraq.

"There have been increasing discussions about the rise of a Shiite strongman...or in the worst case, perhaps, some sort of anarchic fragmentation of power in the region that we call Iraq," Udall told Gates at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, asked Gates to discuss U.S. contingency plans, especially since "we all acknowledge that we poorly planned to win the peace... after the initial invasion of Iraq."

In answering the question, Gates told Udall that the administration believes its "surge" of troops will bring more security to Iraq, allowing political and economic progress.

"That said, I think that it would be irresponsible of me not to be looking at alternatives, should these expectations and hopes not prove to be fulfilled," said Gates. "Without getting into any details...I have asked that we begin to look at other contingencies and other alternatives."

Udall said that "there's always a tension between immediate passions and long-term strategic needs" but that "in this case the American public both have the wisdom and the passion and they understand - their wisdom is that we can't stand in the middle of a civil war."

Udall asked Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, if the U.S. counter-insurgency doctrine is applicable to a situation like Iraq, where sectarian violence between warring factions has become the chief cause of bloodshed, rather than a classic insurgency.

"In fact we really are, if not in the middle of a civil war, in the middle of five very complicated wars," said Udall. "The counter-insurgency doctrine...doesn't necessarily apply to a civil war situation."
Udall declares debate closed on "climate change" following the IPCC report:
"All research and evidence indicates that climate change is happening. Ask farmers about their crop yields. Ask the ski industry, which depends on snowfall to run the slopes. The IPCC report released last week further solidifies the scientific opinion about climate change - the planet is getting warmer and human activity is responsible for this change. With the scientific questions settled, Congress must address what policy changes our nation will make in response. This bill reaffirms the need for continued strong federal support for research and maps out a new emphasis on producing information needed to inform everyday decisions," said Udall.
Udall on Russia, Putin, and a new "Cold War":
Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, was sitting a few yards away from the podium at the 43rd Munich Conference on Security Policy when Putin accused the United States of "almost uncontained" use of force.

Putin said the United States had "overstepped its national borders in every way," prompting other countries to seek nuclear weapons.

Udall, who was part of a bipartisan congressional delegation at the conference, said he did not take it as a start of a new "Cold War."

But he said Putin's rhetoric is a sign that the United States needs to solve sticky issues like Iraq in order to preserve its position of strength in the world.

"The Russians have always felt they weren't fully respected ... In some ways, they're mourning the end of the Soviet Union," Udall said. "They're flush with oil and gas revenues and they want the world to know it."

"They see the United States as (being) on its heels -- if not weak, then certainly distracted in Iraq -- and facing other challenges," Udall said. "They're not loathe to throwing a few punches our way."

"The strong message is, until we can as a country ... determine the way forward in Iraq, it will not only dominate our psyche, it allows other countries a way to chip away at us," Udall said.
. . .
Udall said that should prompt the United States to become more "self-reliant" when it comes to energy, so it's not subject to global pressure.

As for reviving the old tensions that marked much of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, "The Cold War is not about to be rejoined again," Udall said. "It's a totally different world."
Udall's remarks on the Iraq resolution:
Madam Speaker, this debate is long overdue.

It is our first extended and substantive debate on the war in Iraq since Congress gave the president the authority to invade more than four years ago.

But if we do nothing more than debate the president’s escalation plan, we will not keep faith with the American people, who rightly expect this new Congress to begin to bring our costly involvement in the Iraq war to a close.

And while the resolution before us is a largely symbolic and non-binding expression of Congressional opinion, it can be - and I think it should be - the opening part of a longer, thoughtful debate about our long-term national interests not only in Iraq but the entire Middle East.

So, this resolution is a start - and I will vote for it because I agree with the message it sends.

The resolution expresses disapproval of the president’s sending more troops to Iraq - an action that is contrary to the wise advice of the Iraq Study Group, critical members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and experienced military commanders like former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The president’s escalation is probably too small to be effective. And adopting new counterinsurgency tactics comes two years too late.

In addition, the President is calling on General Petraeus and our troops to operate under a complicated joint command structure, involving Iraqi forces and politicians, that is unprecedented in America’s military history.

I think the resolution represents the correct response to these facts - it expresses support for our brave men and women in uniform, but disagreement with a policy of military escalation.

Madam speaker, as we speak the death toll in Iraq rises and the war continues to drain our national treasury, stretch our armed forces, and weaken our capacity to effectively counter Islamic terrorism.

Even as the Administration plows ahead with its “surge” in Iraq, war still rages in Afghanistan and the security situation there is getting more perilous.

Congress needs to send the message that things must change.

I opposed the Bush Administration’s decision to go to war in Iraq and I have never once regretted that vote. But today we must focus on the future.

We cannot move the clock back, but we need to avoid making a bad situation worse.

We should not be scaling up our military mission in Iraq - we should be scaling back.

We need to make the U.S. military footprint lighter - not in order to hasten defeat or failure in Iraq, but to salvage a critical measure of security and stability in a region of the world that we can ill afford to abandon.

As a Member of the Armed Services Committee, I know about the pressures on our active duty and National Guard and reserve soldiers.

They lack enough equipment and training. They are experiencing multiple or extended deployments, and limited time at home between deployments.

But to be successful, our men and women must be properly trained, equipped, and ready to quickly deploy worldwide. Shortfalls in personnel, equipment, or training increase the risk to our troops and to their mission.

In short, the Administration’s policies have brought us to the point where we not only are not able to sustain an escalation in Iraq but also are not fully prepared for other contingencies.

But that is not the only reason I oppose the escalation.

I don’t think the president’s rationale for it makes sense, no matter our readiness levels.

The just-released National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq agrees that the term “civil war” accurately describes aspects of the Iraq conflict - and suggests that the conflict may in fact, be worse than a civil war. Putting more American troops at risk is not a recipe for victory.

As a new Foreign Relations Council report notes, we bear responsibility for developments within Iraq, but are increasingly without the ability to shape those developments in a positive direction.

So what should be the way forward? How should Congress respond?

I favor a reduction of military forces in Iraq, and a phased redeployment of our armed forces to border regions in places like Anbar province and the Kurdish areas of Iraq.

That can give us flexibility to act militarily in Iraq if necessary, but will also increase the pressure on the Iraqi government to move toward political reconciliation and stability.

I do not think an immediate withdrawal of American forces or setting a date certain for withdrawal makes sense.

As bad as the situation is in Iraq, we must work to avoid a collapse in the region - not only because we have a moral obligation to the people of Iraq, but also because our national security has been so badly compromised by the Bush Administration’s failures there.

We should adopt the main policy recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, including stronger efforts at diplomacy in the region and internationally.

It is not in the interests of any nation to have Iraq descend into further civil war and chaos. As challenging as diplomacy is in the Middle East, I believe the sacrifice of our soldiers demands that we engage in serious regional talks, including talks with our adversaries, Syria and Iran.

Finally, I am convinced we must reach for bipartisanship in crafting our policy in Iraq.

The President misguidedly rushed us into war. We must not compound that error by turning a debate on Iraq into a partisan game of one-upmanship where legitimate disagreement with the Administration’s plan for escalation is called a betrayal of our troops or where resistance to immediate withdrawal is called war-mongering.

For my part, I will speak out loudly and often for a responsible military disengagement from Iraq, but I will also offer proposals that are aimed at finding common ground. In this regard, I will be introducing legislation that looks beyond the “surge” and toward the necessary and inevitable contingency planning that will be needed if we are to avoid deeper and more catastrophic scenarios in Iraq and the region.

Madam Speaker, the stakes in Iraq are very high. The outcome in this region will have consequences for future generations that will long outlive those of us who are in Congress today.

We should adopt this resolution to send a signal, but then we must try to rise above our partisan instincts and salvage what we can from a terrible and deteriorating situation.

Nations make mistakes. Great nations acknowledge mistakes, learn, and chart a new course. For the sake of future generations and to keep faith with the generations that built America, let’s be a great nation.
Whew! Stay tuned for more on Senate-hopeful Mark Udall in future editions of UdallWatch.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sen. Bentley Rayburn?

This came out over the weekend--he ran third in the 2006 GOP primary for Colorado's 5th CD, but if former Rep. Bob Schaffer bows out of the GOP primary, the retired Air Force general might toss his hat in the ring:
A retired military man might be marching toward the 2008 U.S. Senate race.

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Bentley Rayburn, a political rookie who made a surprising showing in a Republican congressional primary last year, said he is being urged to run to replace the retiring Sen. Wayne Allard.

"We’re considering it. We’re talking to a lot of people," Rayburn said in a telephone interview Friday. "If I decide it’s right to get into that fight, I need to get in right away."

Rayburn said one factor he is considering is his admiration for another Republican who is considering the race, former Congressman Bob Schaffer, a Republican.

"If he was to tell me tomorrow (that) he was going to run, that would completely change around my decision process," Rayburn said.
Sounds like a plausible alternative to former Rep. Scott McInnis, but the military record provides some leverage against his relatively low-profile politically:
Rayburn, who describes himself as a "social conservative" and "fiscal conservative," said his military experience makes him uniquely positioned to run right now.

"First, I’m not a politician," he said. "Second, obviously war is a big deal, and there is not, in my opinion, enough credible military experience in both the House and Senate."
What, John Murtha doesn't have the nation's military men and women's--needless to say the whole country's--best interests in mind?

Perish the thought.

Rayburn's X-factor race, should he run, will only be viable with the promise of adequate fundraising. The GOP will need strong cash reserves in the range of $5-10 million to even dream of holding the seat. McInnis has his own record to run against and Rayburn could ease by if an impeccable personal record and stature as a military expert, combined with strong conservative credentials, makes him an attractive candidate for the general election against Rep. Mark Udall (D-People's Republic of Boulder).

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Bob Schaffer Speaks Out

The thoroughly accomplished former Congressman Bob Schaffer - a man of great character, integrity, and insight - was the guest on the most recent edition of the Aaron Harber Show. It's too late to catch the televised broadcast, but I highly recommend that anyone interested in the political culture and direction of Colorado and our nation catch the episode online (note: current version of Windows Media Player needed).

In my opinion, Schaffer accurately diagnoses the causes of the 2006 Republican defeat in Colorado. He also clearly explains how the primary reason for recent GOP shortcomings relates to the guiding factor weighing on his current decision whether to run for U.S. Senate in 2008. I sincerely hope that he finds the conditions right to throw his hat in the ring to replace Wayne Allard. I don't think the Colorado GOP could nominate a better candidate.

So if you haven't seen the episode, it's time to go watch it already. What are you waiting for?

I'd love to hear your feedback, especially as this blog begins to delve into the dynamics of the 2008 U.S. Senate election. As one who likes to discuss political matters in terms of real alternatives and likelihoods, let me first assert that the choice here is not between a Schaffer candidacy and an uncontested primary, for if Schaffer declines to run, it's almost certain someone else would fill the vacuum - for the right or wrong reasons. So let the debate begin, and let's keep it clean.

Cross posted at Mount Virtus

Ignore Blogs, YouTube At Your Peril In 2008

Republicans have been slower than their liberal/Democratic counterparts in adapting to the new media--blogs, vlogs, and the internet in general. Estimates of 1 in 5 voters in the 2004 election gleaning their political information from blogs will only increase by 2008. Mitt Romney already has his own facebook profile, but has been dogged early on with the release of video from earlier campaigns that appear to show Romney as a "flip-flopper" on his own political positions.

Last year, George Allen felt the power of YouTube with the endless rehashing of his monumental gaffe that not only destroyed a strong Senate reelection campaign but also dashed any hopes of presidential aspirations in 2008, after much touting as a GOP frontrunner. Slate has a video that neatly sums up the power of the internet, blogs, and YouTube and the likely effect on all future elections. Anyone with an internet connection can set up a blog for free, and with a digital camera and some basic video editing software make John Edwards "feel pretty", capture Hillary Clinton's mangled and tone deaf rendition of the national anthem, recall Rudy Giuliani in drag being pursued by Donald Trump, or revisit Joe Biden's slip-of-the-tongue. Every moment spent on the campaign trail will be recorded and edited and repackaged (by supporters as well as opponents).

Just this past week, the John Edwards blogging brouhaha exhibited all the characteristics of the blogosphere--quick and sharp attention brought to the public by bloggers investigating the hires made by a presidential candidate attempting to spread his message via blogs. Whether the publishing legacy of a campaign staffer exists only on the internet or any other media, literally hundreds of independent investigators are simultaneously unleashed to discern an allegation's veracity or research a person's history. The MSM can only do so much, and often unintentionally (and sometimes intentionally) overlooks certain points of view or facts in question. The media uproar did not come from the media itself, but from the stirrings on the blogs creating a buzz over Edwards' newest mouthpieces.

Instead of a story receiving its 15 minutes and then being forgotten almost immediately, blogs and video sites can perpetuate a story (for good or bad) long after the MSM expiration date. The permanence of such records will make it more difficult for candidates to evade or equivocate on past comments, political views, or actions. Even if this quality trends toward the negative side in terms of unintended consequences, the reality is that it will undoubtedly become a permanent part of the political landscape for years to come.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Ritter Vetoes Union Bill

At first it appeared this bill was a done deal, now Gov. Ritter reveals that he has vetoed the pro-union legislation, protecting Colorado's business community:
Gov. Bill Ritter said Friday he has vetoed a bill that would have made it easier to set up all-union workplaces.

The bill would have eliminated one of two worker elections required to form an all-union workplace. In an all-union shop, all employees are required to pay fees to the union whether or not they join.

The bill angered business groups, who said it would discourage new employers from coming to Colorado.

Business has hotly objected to the bill, questioning Ritter's business bona fides. Democrats say the bill eliminates antiquated law and makes it easier to eliminate union "free riders" who get the benefits of union representation but do not pay.

The bill emerged from the Senate this week after an eight-hour Republican filibuster Feb. 2.
This decision will, no doubt, produce much hand-wringing and rending of garments from the unions and their Democratic supporters as nothing more than bending to the business community and other assorted right-wing special interests. Whatever his motivation, he should be applauded for weighing the interests of all parties over the narrow focus of the unions.

**Update from the Denver Post:
The Democratic governor campaigned as a pro-business moderate but also indicated to labor that he would sign such a measure.

"We are obviously extremely disappointed that Gov. Ritter felt it necessary to break a campaign promise under pressure from big business," Steve Adams of the Colorado AFL-CIO said in a release. "We hope this is not a harbinger for what lies in store for the working men and women in this state."
Governors must govern, not recreate a patronage system where loyal supporters are rewarded with in-kind legislation they support. Ritter demonstrated a great deal of intestinal fortitude for a Democrat in breaking with one of the pillars of the party's support. The "honeymoon" for an all-Democratic Colorado legislature and executive branch has come to an early end.

ColoradoPols has the text of the Governor's letter explaining the reasoning for his decision to veto the bill:
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am returning to the House of Representatives House Bill 07-1072, "Concerning the Elimination of the Requirements for a Vote Ratifying an All-Union Agreement." I vetoed this bill as of 2 p.m. today and this letter sets forth my reasons for doing so.

As governor, I take seriously my obligation to represent as best I can all of the people who reside in the great state of Colorado. It is my solemn duty to approach the challenges facing us today with a broad view, to take into account different perspectives, and place the highest priority on what's best for the people as a whole.

I committed in my first State of the State speech just a few weeks ago, and I promised the people of Colorado over the last two years, that I would work tirelessly to bridge traditional divides, to bring together groups that often find themselves at odds: Republicans and Democrats, business and labor, developers and environmentalists. I vowed to listen to a wide range of views, to unite and to build consensus around a public policy agenda that speaks to the common good.

I am proud of the coalition that honored me with election to this office: rural and urban, mountain and valley, agricultural and industrial, wealthy and poor, Republican, Democrat and unaffiliated. It was a coalition of small businesses, big businesses and working families.

My sympathies lie with Colorado's working families. My father was a heavy-equipment operator and a member of Operating Engineers Locals 3 and 9. I worked my way through college and law school as a pipe layer and a member of Laborers Local 720. I understand the struggles of Colorado's working families. I have lived those struggles myself.

During the campaign, two labor organizations asked me in written questionnaires if I would support an amendment to the Colorado Labor Peace Act that eliminates the second organizing election ratifying an all-union agreement. I indicated that I would, believing that requiring a second super-majority election seems, on its face, undemocratic. It also injects government into what should be a private negotiating process between employer and employee.

I recognize how deeply disappointed my friends in organized labor will be with this decision. I know that members of my own party in the legislature stood firm in the face of outrageous, unprecedented and shameful partisan rhetoric done only for political sport.

But I strongly believe that the way we do the people's business is as important as what we do. And I am obligated to judge legislation by its consequences, intended and unintended.

Over the last several days, I have listened intently to people I respect who worried deeply about the impact this change would have on our ability to attract new business to Colorado, to create new economic opportunity for all. I am persuaded by their argument that changing long-time Colorado law relating to business and labor negotiations in this manner, in the atmosphere with which it was debated, is not now in the best interests of our state.

From the beginning, this was a bitter, divisive and partisan battle. Opposite sides dug in, refusing to consider reasonable compromises. It demonstrated precisely why so many people have grown so cynical about American politics. The bill's proponents made no effort to open a dialogue with the opponents. At times, the opponents were neither respectful nor civil. It was over-heated politics at its worst.

How we govern is important to me as governor and to the people of Colorado. The spirit of cooperation and collaboration embodied in the passage of FasTracks, Referendum C and other initiatives offers a perfect example of how we as a state can join forces, forge coalitions and move Colorado forward together.

Creating the New Energy Economy, reforming health care, funding education, and building a 21st century transportation system requires that kind of spirit and commitment.

The rhetoric surrounding House Bill 07-1072 damages that spirit, threatening our goals and sinking us into cynical politics.

For these reasons, I have decided to veto House Bill 07-1072.

As we move ahead, my table will always have seats for labor and for business. I am confident they will join me, work with me, and with each other, to move Colorado forward. This is the heart of the Colorado Promise, of how we govern well, and of how we give cynics reason to hope once again.


Bill Ritter, Jr.

Ritter decries the partisanship that characterized the debate over the union bill, and given today's political climate this hardly comes as a surprise. Democrats were giddy with power and expected nothing less than an unimpeded path to victory; Republicans were attempting to shore up some credibility in the business community they hoped to woo back to their side. Ritter played the middle--just as Sen. Ken Salazar has done--to continue the appearance of being a moderate. As long as harmful legislation can be vetoed as a result of "playing to the middle", keep it coming!
When Even The Post Notices . . .

there must be a bit of a problem.

Gov. Bill Ritter may have been surprised by the speed with which a controversial bill to change state labor law hit his desk. But he certainly knew it was coming - his campaign promises helped set it in motion. . . .

It's a pledge that apparently was well-known in labor circles but nowhere else, sparking the fury that has dominated the Democrat's first month in office and set up one of his first official acts as a high-profile test of loyalty.

This article is rich in foolishness. Somehow, the Post managed to recognize that Ritter, ironically, managed to garner the support of some in the business community over Bob Beauprez, the pledge notwithstanding.

"Business never asked me about it," Ritter said in a recent interview. . . .

"We never asked him about the issue because we had no reason to believe they were going to strike through a 60-year-old provision of the Labor Peace Act that no one had ever mentioned to us was a problem," said Bill Ray, spokesman for the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.

So tell me, o wise and all-seeing Denver Post, didn't YOU think to ask about labor-related issues when you were doing the research that led to your endorsement of Ritter? Oh, of course not.

But that's not even the funniest part of this article. Later on there's this nugget:

On Monday, the beginning of the fifth week of the session, the Senate sent the proposal to Ritter. Details on exactly how the bill came to be one of the first agenda items of the session vary, depending on whom you talk to.

So, does the Post bother to pursue the speculation put forward last week by Republican Colorado House Caucus? You know, the part where this labor bill is sent through the legislature in record fashion to appease the labor interests that are holding up the Democratic National Convention?

Of course not. That might be responsible journalism.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

You Fill In the Issue

From 9News, regarding today's hearings at the state house about a bill before the Senate.

"We understand ******* is something you choose to do, but I want to take away that choice," Leitz said. "I don't think we should give people an opportunity to make a choice that we know is wrong. We don't allow someone under 18 to smoke a cigarette because we know that it's wrong."

From further in the story:

The measure advanced on a 5 to 4, party-line vote with the Democrats in charge of the committee voting in favor.

Now, try to imagine what the issue at hand is. Let's see--government intervention in a personal choice. Boy, it seems I've heard that language once or twice before. Now, what was that issue? Was it . . .no, . . . but, maybe it was--was it abortion?

No, of course not. Nothing so serious as life or death.

No, your state legislature is going to intervene to prevent teenagers from using tanning beds.
Anybody else find the language use ironic? Or is it just me?

Cross-posted at Best Destiny

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Hickenlooper Wastes Money Plowing Ice A Month Too Late

A few days ago, we criticized Mayor Hickenlooper for choosing to do something about the paralyzing ice covering Denver's streets over a month after the first blizzard hit.

Now with a moderation in temperature, the city plans to spend millions not only plowing whats left of the ice--and there is still a lot, mind you--but renting giant snow melting equipment. Even the left thinks this is nuts.

Note to Mayor Hickenlooper: the sun melts snow each year for free. Nobody in Denver complained about the ice piled in local parks, seeing as they couldn't easily reach them due to the ice in the streets . . .

No doubt the Hick and the city council members feel the heat from the pressure of their constituents to accomplish their duties in a timely manner. This overreaction meant to quell criticism is itself being attacked as a foolish way of spending city funds, especially a contingency fund designed for emergencies, not CYA gestures.

Then there's the potholes.

Buckle Up Or Else--Seat-belt Primary Offense Bill Threatens Liberty

The Rocky Mountain News sees the primary offense seatbelt law as a "pretext to stop just about anyone".

In a bad neighborhood? Driving in the early morning hours? Friday or Saturday night? With the excuse of seatbelt enforcement, police can pull a driver over on suspicion of not wearing a seatbelt.

Even those not driving under the influence or otherwise committing a legal infraction know the inconvenience and stress of being pulled over. This is not to put any blame on the officers themselves--their inconvenience will be having to enforce an extremely minor infraction while potentially ignoring more threatening behavior that truly endangers drivers and leads to motor vehicle fatalities.

Drivers should know the consequences of driving without a seatbelt. Voluntary observance should be the standard, and would not be objectionable as the secondary violation as it currently stands. Police officers should focus on those drivers who run red lights, speed, and appear to be under the influence or committing road rage.

Just ask yourself--can you tell, especially at night, if those around you are wearing a seatbelt? How would police be any more able to discern this fact, for example, in winter when everyone wears bulky coats that for all intents and purposes swallows the seatbelt behind folds of fabric.
"We're just committed to trying to save lives," said the bill's sponsor, Sen. Peter Groff, D-Denver. "A tougher seat-belt law will generate more (federal) funding for the state. It's the right thing to do."
Most support comes from the Democrats, although the most vocal opponent, also a Democrat, fears police harassment and racial profiling. In most instances we would disagree, but in this particular instance the representative has a point. And does the state need additional racial profiling lawsuits--no doubt an unintended consequence of the overreaching legislation?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Mayor Hickenlooper Vows To Plow Denver--A Month Later

Where the hell was this "contingency" plan a month ago (video), Mayor Hickenblooper?
The city of Denver cried uncle Friday and announced that it's no longer just relying on its own crews to clear the ice and snow from residential streets -- it's hiring contractors.

. . .

Half of the residential streets still have not been plowed.

On Friday, Mayor John Hickenlooper said he's heard from many the residents who have vented their frustrations.

"We're going to call in additional contractors, both with manpower and equipment," he said.

He outlined a strategy that is narrowly focused, so instead of clearing the snow and ice from curb to curb on all of the residential streets, the snowplow crews will focus on clearing a 10- to 12-foot lane.

. . .

"We don't control the weather. The weather deals the card, and we play the hand," Hickenlooper said.
We are calling Hickenlooper's bluff. Denver's plowing plan--not the plows or operators themselves, who have worked hard over the last six weeks--was abominable. Relying on January thaw that never came, Denver and other suburbs allowed snow, packed from two consecutive storms, to turn into sheets of ice inches deep. The ruts followed, and the minimal melting from meager sunlight only served to harden the ice even more. So much for a plan.

Even main streets cleared after the storm saw so much excess snow piled up on the curbs and sidewalks that many are still impassable as of early February. North facing areas shaded by buildings are especially encrusted by excess snow and ice.

The mayor does not control the weather--however, the city does control the planning and execution of snow and ice removal, and should have drawn up plans to hire independent contractors and gather more equipment weeks ago, and at a far smaller cost. The weather may eventually warm, but Hickenlooper's missteps may stick around longer than the ice he has so far failed to clear.

Udall's "Anti-Corruption" Legislation Just An Election Ploy

It would be believable as legitimate legislation had Rep. Mark Udall (D-People's Republic of Boulder) introduced the bill outside the context of a potential run against an opponent specifically targeted by the bill's intent:
Rep. Mark Udall fired a warning shot in the 2008 U.S. Senate race on Thursday by co-sponsoring "anti-corruption" legislation that reminds people of a past controversy surrounding one of his potential Republican rivals, former congressman Scott McInnis.

Udall, D-Eldorado Springs, agreed to co-sponsor a bill by Rep. Phil English, R-Pa., to prohibit candidates or their immediate family members from drawing salaries from campaign committees for campaign-related work.

McInnis drew media scrutiny and complaints from Democrats in 2004 and 2005 over the tens of thousands of dollars his campaign has paid his wife, Lori, to work as campaign manager — including after he announced he would leave Congress to become a lobbyist.
Proposing legislation to prohibit something because of the inherent potential for abuse is one thing; introducing bills with the intention of discrediting a potential opponent is pure politics. Is this what we're to expect from Udall in the Senate?