Its the usual half-hour of public-affairs television excellence on Devil’s Advocate this Friday night, but in two segments. First, Il Mondo Vecchio owner Mark DeNittis sits down with me to describe how the USDA recently put his Denver-based artisan cured meats company out of business. That’s right, two Italian guys talking about sausages. Then Bob Berry of USAmends.com swings by to discuss the so called “fiscal cliff” and how the debate around sequestration has been distorted by both sides of the aisle. That’s Friday night at 8:30 PM on Colorado Public Television 12.
Archive for November, 2012
One of the reasons Freedom is in retreat is that the Left creates the narrative. They tell the stories. They write the songs. They make the jokes. Our culture’s entertainment is almost solely the purview of the Left. And hidden inside those stories and tunes and jokes are the messages of collectivism and political correctness. Artists and entertainers have become the greatest sales force for command-and-control authoritarianism.
For the most part we on team Liberty just suck at entertainment. I mean we stink at it, and for a whole bunch of reasons: our team is prudish, stale, peevish and as easy to be offended as a Women’s Studies professor. We are great in communicating within our own team. We like to sing to our choir. News flash: our choir keeps getting smaller. And we keep losing.
But the biggest reason we can’t sell our message in entertainment is that when we try, we lead with the message and then attempt to make the entertainment fit around it. Think of the failed Fox News’ Half Hour News Hour or the comedy movie An American Carol. If you haven’t seen them or even heard of them, I rest my case.
The Left knows how to lead with entertainment first, not message. The humor and jokes, the compelling tale, and the great music come first. Then they slip in the message, insults and whiny lyrics. “30 Rock” and “Saturday Night Live” go for the yucks first. If that doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter what the message is;- no one will hear it. (By the way, I want to become Jack Donaghy. Damn Alec Baldwin.)
Freedom, however, has at least one outlet in Hollywood that makes people laugh and, maybe by no intentional way, weaves in pro-liberty messages – South Park.
This raunchy animated show on Comedy Central does what almost no one on the Right does: it reaches people who might not consider themselves limited-government fans, then convinces them that they just might be.
South Park‘s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, like me, survived the fascist political correctness and forced liberalism of the University of Colorado. That compelled me into politics. It drove them into show business. I’d submit they do a better job illustrating the danger of overly burdensome government than I do.
So, here it is, the list of all lists, the one you’ve been waiting for – the top 10 free market, limited government, stop-the-nanny-state episodes of South Park. WARNING: this show is immature, childish, highly offensive, and just plain gross. I wonder why I like it. Did I mention it’s offensive? Watch at your own risk.
The federal budget plan of Rep. Paul Ryan has been repeatedly characterized as “extreme.” (I Googled, “Ryan plan extreme” and got over 43,100,000 hits.) Among those making the charge have been the editorial writers over at the Denver Post.
In reality, several Western democracies have enacted far more “extreme” deficit elimination plans in recent years—and with great success. In the early 1990s, Canada was laboring under about as much debt as the U.S. now is, measured as a share of the economy. In a new article, former Canadian prime minister Paul Martin (a Liberal Party prime minister, no less) tells us how his government cut federal spending in absolute terms, balanced the budget in about five years, and lowered taxes.
The Canadian reforms were preceded by similar successes in places like Alberta, New Zealand, and Great Britain. All required absolute drops in spending, with no sacred cows. Everyone has to feel that he or she is making a sacrifice for all.
Ryan’s plan would only slow the increase in spending, not cut it. It would exempt people over 55 from Medicare changes, a political as well as a budgetary mistake. And it would not balance the budget until at least 2040—if at all.
In other words, a fundamental flaw of the Ryan plan is that it is not sweeping enough.
You can expect Lefty activities to throw dirt on any plan that would curb even minimally the out-of-control welfare state. But the Post editors—who write for Colorado’s newspaper of record—need to exercise more discretion.
There are some good reasons to get high on pot.
The Independence Institute held no position on Amendment 64, legalizing recreational marijuana. And I know not everyone is thrilled about Colorado becoming the Amsterdam of America. But like it or not, it is in our state constitution.
So let me throw out this idea – even if you hate pot being legal, there are some great victories for limited government hidden inside this issue.
First, we finally have a state-rights issue that the Left can, must and will understand and fight to preserve.
Marijuana is still very illegal by federal law, but now it’s protected by our state constitution. I am no legal expert on the U.S. Constitution, but I don’t see anything in it that gives the Feds power over Colorado on this one. But what the hell do I know? I didn’t see anything in it that could let the Feds tax us for not buying health insurance.
Pardon me for stealing this phrase, but, this is a great teachable moment. This is a massive opportunity for those of us who fear the growing central authority in D.C. Some portion of the Left will now agree with us. We need to embrace this challenge and take a lead in educating Coloradans about the Tenth Amendment before the Left tries to pervert it somehow.
In order for those who support pot to keep in legal in Colorado, they MUST embrace the Founders’ ideal of Federalism. And I believe we need to help them understand the power of this simple ideal, and why it applies to a whole lot more than weed.
But if you hate Amendment 64 and wish it smothered out of existence, the only way that can happen now is if you embrace what the Left embraces: federal power trumping the expressed wishes of a sovereign state. Perhaps, like health insurance, the Feds can tax us for not purchasing dope, but they’ll have to pervert the Constitution (again) to override the vote in Colorado.
Here’s the second little prize in Amendment 64. Legalized pot MIGHT force some on the Left to face their hypocrisies, like their confusion on property rights and freedom of association.
In Colorado, it is illegal for an owner of a private establishment to allow tobacco smoking in their bar or restaurant. No one here is free to enjoy a cigar and a steak, or a cigarette and a cup of coffee, in the same place and time. Smokers cannot freely associate with other smokers, enjoying their legal product, in private establishments. Smokers are treated like lepers. My elitist hometown of Boulder is about ready to make smoking outdoors on the Pearl Street Mall illegal. Now that about 65% of Boulder voted for pot, will pot smokers and their business owners be treated like their tobacco-smoking brethren?
Tobacco is taxed at an exorbitant rate, regulated to the point of making it a controlled substance. State cigarette tax windfalls are spent on childhood reading programs and building sidewalks. Will the state heap wild sin taxes on pot and spend that money in ways that have nothing to do it?
I am looking forward to owners and customers of pot businesses opening their eyes (if they can pry their baked eyes open) to how abusive regulation destroys what they are trying to build.
We have a problem getting our message of limited government outside of our own echo chamber. If you doubt that, I’ll remind you of the last election. Well, here’s an uncomfortable opportunity to try something different.
Let’s channel our best Voltaire: I disagree with your decision to legalize pot, but I’ll defend to the death your state’s right to do it.
I’m sorry that it has taken me nearly a week to share a few of my thoughts about the election, but I have only been recently released from suicide watch. As a complete aside, the Hemlock Society sadly only assists the terminally ill, not those who desire end-of-life services due to politics. Apparently, you have go to the Republican Party for that.
Anyway, thanks to a fair amount of self-medication via scotch and Little Debbie’s Swiss Rolls, I am able to communicate today. Like you I am baffled over the course of human events in our nation conceived in Liberty.
I know there will be months of second guessing about what went wrong and what should have been done. So here’s my quick take, and keep in mind it might just be the scotch talking.
I believe the elections of 2012 sadly proves the very premise from which we work at the Independence Institute – the right loses because they are all-consumed with the “next election.” The left wins because they are consumed with the next decade. And they have been consumed for decades.
The left wins because they control the narrative. They control the narrative because they invest their resources, their years, and a ton of our money, to build systems, organizations and institutions that tell the stories they want voters in the middle to believe. Capitalism hurts the country. Hydraulic fracturing is an environmental danger. There is a war against women. Blah, blah, blah…
As all of us divorced men know, WE HAVE NEVER made any mistakes in our past decisions. So that of course gives me the authority to say what everyone else did wrong in this election. So here we go. The right’s donors invest too often in personality, not political infrastructure. They invest for the short term.
It is so disheartening to think of the billions of dollars and countless man-hours that were wasted in vien to elect Mitt Romney and take back the senate. Only two states switched away from Obama compared to four years ago, and we lost, not gained, in the senate. Imagine if only that amount were put towards building a permanent infrastructure to leap-frog the Left. Imagine if that amount were spent years ago instead of this year. Imagine what could have been.
I find this somewhat baffling. People on the right understand the importance of investing in and building institutions that will pay dividends in the long term future. As you know I lost my daughter and my son has Down Syndrome. He has needed ten surgeries in his eight years of life. If it weren’t for the long-term thinking donors who gave so much so many years ago to build the Children’s Hospital, I would have lost another child. These donors know the importance of building churches, universities, efforts to end sickness and so much more where the real pay-off might not be seen in their lifetimes.
But in the realm of politics, many on the right can’t see farther than about a year. The money goes to candidates or their support systems. By then it is usually too late. The left has built unions, think tanks, media operations, opposition research groups, voter registration machines, legal harassment firms and so much more.
The sex-appeal and excitement for elections years and personalities drives our side. Winning drives their side.
Until we can better convince investors and activists that the fight for liberty, the fight against the constant allure of socialism’s “guaranteed outcomes,” is a long term, never-ending battle. But it is one we most certainly can win.
We at Independence have worked for nearly three decades on that very premise. We know that ideas have the greatest consequences. Politicians come and go, but the principles of liberty are everlasting. It is our goal to market our ideals far better than the left sells their guaranteed outcomes.
We have created a great start. And this election only serves to tell us we are on the right track. Now we need to do so much more.
The path to fixing Washington is to first fix Colorado. We are more determined and committed to that goal than ever in our 27 years.
Let’s shake off this awful hangover and get to it. Be our partner in this fight.
The November 6 election outcome has many friends of the Constitution dispirited. As so often before, they hoped that by defeating federal candidates contemptuous of constitutional limits and replacing them with others, they could help restore our Constitution.
Obviously, that decades-long strategy has failed—spectacularly.
They also have long hoped that by appointing the right people to the U.S. Supreme Court, they could win case decisions restoring constitutional limits. But after 40 years, that campaign has produced only indifferent results. Actually, worse than indifferent: When, through the 2010 Obamacare law, federal politicians overreached further than they ever had before—by imposing a mandate ordering almost everyone in the country to buy a commercial product—the Court didn’t even hold the much-weakened line. Rather, the Court upheld the mandate.
The fundamental fallacy behind the federally-centered strategy lies in assuming federal politicians and federal judges will somehow restore limits on federal power. That is implausible as an abstract proposition. And practical experience over many decades also shows that strategy to be a failure.
There are several reasons for the failure of the federal election strategy. First, for this approach to work, you have to elect a majority—actually a super-majority (at least 60 in the Senate)—of constitutionalists to Congress. You also have to elect a person of similar views to the presidency. And you have to do this so they are all in office at the same time.
Second, constitutionalists face inherent handicaps running for federal office: Most are by nature non-political, and therefore don’t make good or persistent politicians. Their views prevent them from promising farmers more subsidies, seniors more health care, or students more loans. And those views also discourage campaign contributions.
Third, even when constitutionalists do achieve federal office, a critical proportion of them forget or weaken their commitments amid the enticements of Washington, D.C. and the fleshpots of power.
The Founders foresaw this sort of thing. That’s why they inserted in the Constitution’s Article V language allowing the states to respond to federal abuse by amending the document. At the behest of 2/3 of the states, all convene together to propose constitutional amendments, which 3/4 may ratify.
This provision was designed explicitly to enable the states to bypass federal politicians.
Incredibly, however, the convention method of proposing amendments has never been used. This largely explains why our governmental system is so unbalanced today.
Year after year, well-meaning people have rejected the convention approach in the vain hope that federal elections are the answer. In the light of Tuesday’s results, they need to re-assess. This reassessment is now more urgent than ever, because even more than the Constitution is at stake. So also is our national solvency.
Post-election blues got you down? Go ahead and and stay curled up in a ball on the couch for Devil’s Advocate tomorrow night as I am joined by Denver Post editorial page editor Curtis Hubbard and Colorado Springs Gazette editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen for a dissection of what happened on Tuesday and what it might mean for Colorado in 2013. That’s Friday night at 8:30 on Colorado Public Television 12.
As reported by the Second Amendment Foundation, this morning the Obama administration joined a U.N. majority which called for convening a new conference to create a global Arms Trade Treaty.
Only reporting results which represent a change.
U.S. Senate. Gains: Indiana (Donnelly replaces Lugar). NM (Heinrich replaces Bingaman). ND (Heitkamp replaces Conrad).
Senate losses: Mass., Warren defeats Brown (-.5 with NRA C-rated Senator replaced by an F). Virginia, Kaine replaces Webb.
Senate net: +1.5. Ted Cruz’s win in Texas won’t change Senate voting patterns, but the former Texas Solicitor General will be an outstanding and very well-informed leader on Second Amendment issues.
House losses: AZ 9. CA 7 (C-rated Lungren ousted), 26, 36 (Mary Bono Mack), 41, 52. FL 18 (Alan West), 22 (Bloomberg-funded extremist wins), 26. Il 8, 18. MD 6. MN 8. NH 1 & 2. NY 18, 24.
House gains: AZ 2. IA 3 (incumbent vs. incumbent). NC 13 (F-rated incumbent retired). OH 16 (incumbent vs. incumbent).
House net: -12.5.
Governor Loss: Montana (although not officially called yet; winner Steve Bullock has a B- rating). Waiting for results in WA, a possible gain.
Ballot issues. Strengthen Louisiana state right to keep and bear arms, to require strict scrutiny. Win, very important reform, that will be a model in other states. Constitutional right to hunt and fish passes overwhelmingly in Kentucky, Nebraska, and Idaho.
In short, as Barack Hussein Obama, the Juan Domingo Peron of the 21st century, leads America to fiscal collapse, you can at least keep your guns.