Archive for March, 2009

Monday Pork Funny

Posted by on Mar 16 2009 | Friday's Funny, Government Largess

© 2008, Benjamin Hummel. To see more cartoons like this go to

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It’s not the cash, it’s the Constitution, part VIII

Posted by on Mar 14 2009 | Capitol Crazies, Economics, Government Largess

Apparently this is what the Colorado Supreme Court considers “expedited.”  We organized a class-action lawsuit against Bill Ritter’s mill levy freeze back in 2007.  If you recall our point was simple.  The Colorado constitution is clear, if government is going to raise taxes, or debt, or change tax policy so that government gets more money it must do the one simple thing that all politicians fear – ask the taxpayers.  We won in Denver District Court and Ritter and crew appealed to the Supremes.  Oral arguments took place in early September 2008.  And the Supremes have yet to rule!  This foot-dragging is even unacceptable to the Denver Post.

Speculation is running wild.  The Colorado Supreme Court is generally believed to be the most partisan in the country, which is why most think the taxpayers will lose.  Every TABOR case that has gone to them has lost.  As was overheard being said by one of the law team for the state, “They have the constitution, but we have the courts.”

So why the long, long wait?  Some think it is because of Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey.  Either she is trying to change a swing vote, which could be encouraging to the taxpayers, or perhaps she wants the state budget to grow so dependent on the new revenue that her colleagues just couldn’t rule against Ritter’s cash grab.

Either way we’ll find out soon.  The ruling will finally be made public Monday morning!  SO HERE IT COMES! stay tuned.

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Let’s Talk About Arveschoug-Bird

Posted by on Mar 12 2009 | Government Largess, Idiot Box (TV Show)

Taxpayers are about to get violated again. For roughly 17 years, Coloradans have agreed that the 6 percent spending cap on the general fund was enshrined in the state constitution and only could be changed by a vote of the people. Now some lawmakers claim they don’t need to ask voters to spend more taxpayer money. Is SB 228 constitutional and how will it affect the state budget, especially transportation? Economist and Independence Institute Senior Fellow Barry Poulson and Senate Minority Leader Josh Penry discuss the consequences of SB 228 with me on Independent Thinking. Will on Denver’s KBDI Channel 12, Fridays at 8:30 pm repeated the following Tuesday at 5 pm.

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Sweet Home Carolina

Posted by on Mar 06 2009 | Purely Personal

Our good friend and former deputy editorial page editor of the Rocky Mountain News, Rick Henderson, will be taking over as managing editor of the John Locke Foundation’s Carolina Journal. (John Locke is one of our sister SPN think tanks).  Which is great news for Rick, who just happens to be a former UNC Tarheel.  Now he has the opportunity to uproot from Jeffco and move back east to his home state.  Congrats Rick, we’ll miss you!

Be sure to take a look at Rick’s blog, the Deregulator. It’s good stuff.

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Assault Weapons in Mexico not from US, sorry Bill

Posted by on Mar 06 2009 | Capitol Crazies, PPC, Second Amendment

To get this post you just gotta read the response from the infatuated Bill Menezes.  Ever wondered what it’s like to try to have a rational discussion with someone paid to be constantly offended?

Imagine that you take your eleven-year-old nephew to the aquarium. You’re standing in front of a dolphin tank, and the nephew says “Wow, look at all the big fish!”

You respond, “Well they sure do look like fish, but really they’re mammals.”

“You’re lying!” the nephew shouts.

So you try to explain the differences between fish and mammals. Fish lay eggs; mammals give live birth. Fish breath water; mammals breath air.

“It’s the Big Lie Technique,” he screams. “You’re just repeating a lie over and over so that people will believe it.” Then he throws himself on the floor, crying hysterically that you have hurt his feelings and have offended children everywhere.

Later, you find out that a neighbor Tim pays your nephew a dollar every time he accuses someone of lying, and gives him an extra two dollars if he acts really upset about the “lie.” Now you have the gist of what Tim Gill pays for.

Now let me go into way too much detail. Last week on the radio, I talked about the manufactured claims that Mexico is being flooded with “assault weapons” smuggled from Mexico from the US.  “Assault weapons” are a type of machine gun, and machine guns have been strictly regulated in the United States since 1934, and the manufacture of new machine guns has been banned since 1986. To buy a pre-1986 machine gun now takes months of paperwork, and will cost you at least several thousand dollars.

I suggested that the source of assault weapons in Mexico was probably the same source that the Mexican drug cartels use for their grenades, mortars, and so on: the former Warsaw Pact weapons dumps which have flooded the Third World with AK-47s, ever since the Soviet empire collapsed.

What is an assault weapon? Well, since I know something about guns and I work next to 2nd Amendment super-star Dave Kopel, I use the proper technical definition: assault rifles are “short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachine gun and rifle cartridges.” That definition is from the United States Department of Defense, Defense Intelligence Agency book Small Arms Identification and Operation Guide.  So an assault rifle is a medium size combat rifle; with the selector switch, it can either fire automatically (like a machine gun) or semi-automatically (when you press the trigger, only one bullet comes out).

Now, starting in the late 1980s, the anti-gun lobbies began promoting a national panic about “assault weapons.” They knew that when they said “assault weapons,” the public would think “machine guns.” That is, after all, the correct definition.

But the gun ban lobbies were not trying to ban any type of machine gun. They were trying to ban a bunch of guns just because they looked like assault weapons. Some of the guns looked like an AK-47. Others looked like science fiction weapons. In terms of how the guns worked, they were just like other ordinary guns, but much of the public was duped into thinking these guns were machine guns.

A few states banned these scary-looking guns, and in 1994, the Clinton “assault weapon” ban was passed by Congress. It expired in 2004. Again, the ban did not apply to a single genuine assault weapon (which is a type of machine gun). It just applied to regular guns which looked like true assault weapons.

So anyway, the bogus definition of “assault weapon” is still on the books in some states, and in some regulations created by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE).

Now, these days, when Eric Holder or the New York Times says that American “assault weapons” are being smuggled into Mexico, it’s doubtful that they even know the difference between a machine gun and a semi-automatic. If they’re thinking about real assault weapons (according to the Department of Defense definition), America is not the source. If they’re talking about pretend “assault weapons” (using the definition made up by the gun prohibition lobbies, and adopted by anti-gun government officials), then they’re right; there are a lot of regular American guns, including some scary-looking guns, which get smuggled into Mexico. But they’re not machine guns. They are not assault weapons.

So when I go on the radio, and explain the correct definition of assault weapons, I don’t call Eric Holder a “liar.” He pretty clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about, so he’s not intentionally lying. Besides, if he did know what he was talking about, he could point to the “assault weapon” definition which the gun prohibition lobbies pushed into law. His use of “assault weapon” wouldn’t really be a lie, because it would match with a statutory definition, even if that statutory definition is ridiculous and plainly wrong. (Just like the Washington, D.C., ordinance which banned regular guns like the Colt. 45 semi-automatic and the Ruger .22 caliber rifle by labeling them “machine guns,” even though they were not real machine guns, and could not fire automatically.)

The funny thing is, Bill Menezes is apparently oblivious to the fact there’s a debate over the meaning of “assault weapon.” When I use the correct definition, and explain precisely what I’m talking about, he shrieks that I’m lying. But his only evidence is to point out that anti-gunnies use the incorrect definition.

If Bill wants to argue that the “assault weapon” definition fabricated by the gun prohibition movement is superior to the definition used by the United States Department of Defense, that’s his privilege.

But he really shouldn’t fly into a phony rage because I use the right definition. Even if Tim Gill does pay him a bonus every time he throws a temper tantrum.

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Friday’s Funny

Posted by on Mar 06 2009 | Capitol Crazies, Friday's Funny

© 2008, Benjamin Hummel. To see more cartoons like this go to

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If Not Price, Then What?

Posted by on Mar 05 2009 | Health Care,

When political forces take control of health care, as they have done in Oregon, what gets treated gets politicized. The best lobbying groups with the most effective lobbying efforts can get their pet treatment pushed to the top, along with other flavor of the month, politically popular treatments and diseases. Because Oregon Health Plan officials refuse to let price ration care, they must use another mechanism, and in this case it is a “priority list.” Below is their revised priority list for 2009, with 2002′s priorities for comparison:

It’s difficult to look at something like this and not be disgusted. Someone’s tobacco addiction is a more pressing need than Type 1 diabetes or AIDS?  Lactose intolerance is more urgent than a ruptured spleen or even TB?  Health Care Policy Center director Linda Gorman’s newest article (the PDF is found here) concerns Oregon’s new priority list.

To our knowledge, the Oregon Health Plan is the first government health care program anywhere in the world that has drawn up a formal procedure for rationing. After comment from interested parties, this state health program for low-income people ranks treatment for various diseases and conditions, currently from 1 to 680, in order of priority. The health care dollars available determine which priorities are met. As program costs have grown, the list of covered procedures has become shorter. In 2009, the state will pay only for the first 503 procedures.

Amy Oliver had to hear more about this dry run for nationalized, “single-payer” health care, so she phoned Linda for our latest podcast. Read Linda’s report and listen to the podcast, you will not believe what you discover.

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Bill Menezes Has a Man-Crush on Me

Posted by on Mar 04 2009 | Capitol Crazies, PPC, Purely Personal

As I have mentioned before, Tim Gill’s plaything Bill Menezes, of the paid-to-be-hyper-sensitive Media Matters, sends me the oddest little nasty personal emails.  I can only come to one conclusion – he’s got a man-crush on me.  I’m flattered and suppose I understand a bit.  I had the same feelings once for John Entwhistle, bass player for The Who, after I saw him play live.  Nothing gay.  I just fantasized that we would hang-out, throw back some beers, watch the big game, and jam a little.  It’s a guy thing.  How else would you explain Bill’s last nasty-gram:

The fact you are so ignorant on a gun issue is quite entertaining:

KOA’s Caldara supported false claim that Mexican Cartels’ assault weapons are “not comin’ from us”

Call the local ATF office and see what they have to say about the subject.

Oh, and keep crying; given your steep slide into irrelevance, I suppose there’s not much more you can do.

I stand by what I said on the radio program.  Assault weapons are not going to Mexico via the US.  The problem might be that the left doesn’t like to use the definition of “assault weapon,” which is a select-fire, intermediate caliber gun capable of automatic firing, like a machine gun.  These guns are, for the most part, already illegal in the US.  But again, accuracy isn’t what Tim Gill pays Media Matters for.

As far as my “steep slide into irrelevance,” Bill, when the hell was I ever relevant?

Although given all the attention you pour on me how can I not feel, well, special.  I am finally starting to get the man-crush signals you’ve been throwing my way.  You wrote an entire column about me in the Denver Daily News, comparing me to Archie Bunker (who like me once proudly proclaimed, “My job ain’t got nothing to do with thinking, and I’m very good at it”).

I am sorry Bill.  As flattered as I am, I don’t want you for my Edith. After my heartbreak over John Entwhistle, I am just not ready for a bro-mance right now.

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John Andrews Gets Back to Basics

Posted by on Mar 03 2009 | Purely Personal, The Founders

The Independence Institute, one of the original state-based think tanks, is almost 25 years old.  This effective little organization was the brain child of a young Mr. John Andrews. I am greatly indebted to this man.  Not only has he been a strong friend when times seemed bleak, a fine mentor and a fellow freedom fighter, but quite simply, if he didn’t create Independence back then, I’d likely be flipping hamburgers now. You see, and I know this doesn’t come as any surprise to you, but I have absolutely no employable skills. How I backed into this gig is anyone’s guess.  But if John didn’t create Independence back then, the only thing I’d be saying into a microphone now is “would you like fries with that?”

Well now the former Colorado Senate President is going back to his roots as the director of the Centennial Institute, a new think tank being created by Colorado Christian University. Centennial will work to enhance public understanding of the issues relating to “faith, family and freedom.”  They couldn’t have chosen a better man to lead it.  And, in pure self-interest, this gives me possibility of another job in about 15 years.

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Backdoor Bill Ritter Strikes Again!

Posted by on Mar 02 2009 | Capitol Crazies, Economics, PPC, Transportation

FASTER” is a disaster.

Everyone knows the first couple of paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence, you know, the good stuff about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Fewer people read on to the list of grievances against King George. (BTW if you’d like to listen to the whole Declaration do it here.)  One of the reasons for separation from England listed was “For imposing taxes on us without our consent.”

Here in Colorado, in spirit and in law, “consent” means a vote of the people.  Yet our governor again today is using the backdoor to raise taxes without our consent.  By signing the 67 page Senate Bill 108 into law, Backdoor Bill is raising car taxes by $250 million a year – without a vote of the people.  His excuse is that he calls it a “fee,” not a “tax,” and of course your wallet will be able to tell the difference.  The press keeps calling this a $41 per car “fee” increase, but do the simple math: The $250 million a year will be paid by the 5 million Coloradans in one way or another (businesses don’t pay taxes, people do).  That’s $50 per man woman and child in the state per year, forever, and all without a vote.

To add insult to injury this bill has a “safety clause” slapped on the end.  This prevents the citizens, through the petition process, from putting this bill on the fall ballot for all taxpayers to consider. Why doesn’t he respect citizens enough to ASK FIRST?  Who knows, if it is as good as he says, wouldn’t it pass?

Governor Ritter seems to have developed a nasty habit of supporting backdoor increases in government:

  • The mill levy freeze, costing us $4 billion in increase property taxes, was found unconstitutional by the Denver District Court.  Instead of bringing it to the voters, the governor appealed it to the Colorado Supreme Court.  They’ve been sitting on their decision since September.  Hmmm.
  • Governor Ritter doubled the “renewable” energy mandate for utility companies.  While the original mandate was expensive enough for consumers, at least that went to a public vote.  This is a regulatory tax increase we pay in our electric bills.  Funny how nuclear and hydro-electric aren’t considered “renewable.”
  • On a Friday afternoon, Ritter signed an executive order bringing collective bargaining to state government.  Today over 30,000 state workers are exclusively represented by unions.
  • Governor Ritter hired 1,300 new government employees, including many after he announced a hiring freeze.
  • Governor Ritter gave state workers a bonus day off, for “morale,” during a recession.  I’m sure your boss did the same for you.
  • And now Governor Ritter is considering a bill to end the state 6% budget growth limit WITHOUT a public vote, in direct violation of the State Constitution.
  • Gov, my momma always said gentleman ask first.

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