Archive for the '' Category

Amending the Constitution to Save It?

Posted by on Oct 20 2010 |, PPC, U.S. Constitution

It’s no secret the balance of power between the federal government, the states, and the people has been tipping more and more towards the feds. It seems that there isn’t enough power in the world to quench their thirst. What can the states and the people do to reclaim some of that power and restore liberty? The Constitution provides a couple avenues for recourse. One is an Article V “Convention for Proposing Amendments.” This differs from a Constitutional Convention however. In this podcast Professor Rob Natelson explains that important difference, and how an Article V convention can save our great union by restoring liberty for the states and the people, respectively. The research Rob cites is his own from a series of articles published at our sister think tank the Goldwater Institute. In the next few weeks, the Independence Institute will also be publishing Rob’s work. Keep your eye out for that, and keep checking in on Rob’s personal blog here at Independence –

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There’s a New Face Around These Parts…

Posted by on Aug 17 2009 |, PPC, The Founders

It’s a little colder today in hell.  Despite my ego’s protests, I’ve decided to share this wonderful space I like to call the Cauldron with a man much smarter than I.  Drum roll please….. I’d like to welcome senior fellow, Rob Natelson.

Rob has been a Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence at the Independence Institute for many years.  He’s a nationally-recognized constitutional scholar with an awesome publication record – not just in constitutional law, but in many other fields.

Rob also has a wealth of practical political experience in several different states – including Colorado and particularly Montana.  For example, during the 1990s he led a successful movement to transform Montana from a state dominated by a collectivist, anti-freedom mind-set to a state much more respectful of personal freedom.  He ran a statewide radio talk show, and in 2000 he ran second among five Republican and Democratic candidates in the Montana “open” gubernatorial primary.

Before embarking on an academic career, Rob practiced law in Colorado, taught on various occasions at the University of Colorado and the University of Denver, and wrote a regular column for the Rocky Mountain News (RIP).  He spends a lot of time in the outdoors — hiking, skiiing, and sometimes camping and shooting.  He has been an guest several times on some very popular iVoices podcasts.

Rob is particularly known as an expert on our American Founding Fathers and the intent behind the U.S. Constitution, so many of his comments will be about the Constitution.  Expect to see remarks about personal rights, states’ rights, out-of-control judges, and how our government disregards its constitutional limits.  But you can expect him to weigh in on all sorts of topics. (Of course, his opinions are his own – not necessarily those of me, the Independence Institute, or of his current employer.)

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Budget Crisis… What Budget Crisis?

Posted by on Aug 13 2009 | Government Largess,, Media

You can really tell government officials’ priorities best during a “fiscal crisis.”  While some governments look to cut fire and police budgets, Denver is continuing forward with planned public art projects.  Who needs cops when you’ve got great phallic public art?

Our investigative reporter Todd Shepherd uncovered Denver’s strange fiscal priorities in his latest report, “Facing $120M Budget Shortfall, Denver Presses Forward with $4M in Artwork Spending.” I sat down with Todd to discuss the matter further in this podcast.

To each his own, but I would guess most people would rather have an extra cop or two than some of what passes for art in the city of Denver.

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Dave Kopel on Sotomayor

Posted by on Jul 21 2009 |, Kopelization, Media, PPC

What does the Senate Judiciary Committee do when they need expert testimony on a Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor? They ask Dave Kopel, duh. Dave’s legal mind is unmatched when it comes to second amendment issues, and disregarding his thoughts on this nominee would be like brushing aside MacGyver’s suggestions during a life and death situation (use the two match sticks with the cotton balls and duct tape stupid!).

Thus, Dave went down to Washington and delivered his testimony last Thursday, the 16th. Here is the written version and thanks to my favorite channel C-Span, here is the video.

In case you missed it before, here is Dave on Amy Oliver’s radio show (1310 KFKA) a few weeks back offering his initial thoughts and concerns.

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Wednesday Wrap-Up

Posted by on Jun 10 2009 | Events, Health Care,, PPC

    ***Yesterday we received a bumper crop of new interns. This means my front yard and my car will be in tip top shape. Ah, to be young and exploited.
    ***The Investor’s Business Daily also has some fine cartoons too. The Health Care Policy Center especially likes this one:

    ***Senior fellow Jessica Corry’s newest op-ed for Human Events captures the incredibly awkward position the left finds themselves in political free speech. They are ostensibly the “champions” of free speech, but in this case, not so much. Check out the article, it’s a good read — especially my quote at the end.

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Wednesday Wrap-Up

Posted by on Jun 03 2009 | Events, Health Care,, Kopelization, PPC

    ***Ari Armstrong puts the smack down on Senator Mark Udall over controlling the credit market. It’s simple Mark, READ the contract BEFORE you sign it! Duh.
    ***Exploited intern Luke Jackson, between clipping my toe nails and mowing my lawn, somehow had time to research and write about public debt (amazing creatures these interns are). This work turned into our newest Issue Backgrounder titled, Debt Detective. He also had the opportunity to do a podcast on his work with Fiscal Policy Center director Penn Pfiffner. Good job Luke!
    ***In addition to ATF 2009, we’ve got an incredible ATF pre-Party planned for the day before – Friday, June 19th. This is going to be a star-studded nanny panel event at the high class Warwick Hotel in downtown Denver! We will be serving lunch, dinner, and cocktails in between the panels. Keynote speakers include, but not limited to: Radley Balko, David Harsanyi, Dave Kopel, Andrew Breitbart, David Martosko, and Terry Gallagher. Check the event page for an agenda and more information. Seats are filling up fast, do not wait to RSVP!
    ***View 2 minutes on how to party – ATF style!

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Dave Kopel on Nominee Sonia Sotomayor

Posted by on May 29 2009 |, Kopelization

Here it is folks. Exactly what you wanted to hear. Constitutional expert and super human Dave Kopel on Amy Oliver’s radio show discussing his take on Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Audio thanks to 1310 KFKA out of Greeley.

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Wednesday Wrap-Up

Posted by on May 27 2009 | Events, Health Care,, Kopelization, PPC, Second Amendment

    ***How many of you get special thank you notes from Steve Forbes? Yeah, didn’t think so. Health Care Policy Center director Linda Gorman does. Next time, send a check Steve!
    ***Speaking of health care, the Galen Institute is running a video contest intended to showcase videos that break down the ever growing single-payer myths out there. Here’s my favorite video: great analogy, using the idea of “Universal Car Care” to get the point across.
    ***Finally, Dave Kopel continues to Kopelize the country. This time, he managed to infiltrate the heavily guarded New York Times editorial board with this piece on guns in national parks. Which brings me to one of Kopel’s most Kopelized one-liners, “guns don’t exercise free will.” But maybe they do in national parks?
    ***Bonus: While on the topic of gun control, check this out: (click to ENLARGE)

    (courtesy of my friends over at the People’s Press Collective)

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Introducing… Independence Investigates

Posted by on Apr 24 2009 | Government Largess,, Media

“But you’re a think tank! What do you need an investigative journalist for?” I seem to hear that question a lot, but the answer is simple: if not Independence, then who? Investigative journalism is falling by the wayside with the collapse of newspapers and other newsmedia. Unfortunately, this giant investigative hole leaves government with a lot less accountability, and a lot less people snooping around, digging, and asking tough questions. This is where our investigative journalist Todd Shepherd and Independence Investigates steps in. You may remember Todd from his days as Newsradio 850 KOA’s morning reporter. Now he’s with us digging for government waste and malfeasance. And believe me, there’s a lot to be had out there. You can hear all about Todd’s role in keeping government in check in this podcast. We recently sat down and discussed a few of his stories and the overall importance of investigative journalism.

For example, did you know that the Department of Homeland Security lost two forklifts, along with $7.1 million worth of stuff? TWO forklifts!  I’m not kidding.  And what about those “green” solar panels toured by President Obama at the Denver Museaum? How did the museum buy them, and just how efficient are they?  You will be surprised.

Head on over to Independence Investigates and check out the stories Todd has uncovered.  Some of that stuff is really unbelievable.

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It’s not the cash, it’s the Constitution, Part IX

Posted by on Mar 17 2009 | Capitol Crazies, Economics, Government Largess,, PPC

When we filed suit in 2007 we knew the Colorado Supreme Court had never missed an opportunity to rule against the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights in the state constitution.  But nothing has ever come close to the re-writing of the constitution that came out of the high court yesterday.  (Our attorney Richard Westfall, who did an excellent job for us in court, joins me to discuss the verdict and its ramifications in our latest podcast). Vincent Carroll, now at the Denver Post, summed it up better than I could:

The audacity of the court’s claim is breathtaking. There is not one voter in this state who consciously approved the freezing of mill levy rates yesterday, today, and some day in the future when residential property values rebound and start to accelerate skyward again — not one who heard that issue debated at a local election. To the contrary, many were explicitly told their votes would have no impact on future taxes.

Voters merely agreed to forgo any surplus collected by their districts under the existing system, which did not foresee frozen rates.

“It is undisputed in this case,” noted Justice Allison Eid in her dissent, “that, prior to [the 2007 measure], state law prevented local school districts from keeping $117 million in excess revenues that they had collected after conducting waiver elections.” (That’s my emphasis.)

Just so. It is also undisputed — although the court majority naturally doesn’t mention it — that Colorado voters crushed a ballot amendment in 2003 that would have frozen property-tax rates. Amendment 32 would have adjusted the law in other ways, too, so the parallel with the current tax-rate freeze isn’t perfect, but the main reason the amendment failed is exactly on point: Voters feared that if they approved it, their taxes could soar as property values rose.

Given that history, it was strange — indeed, disorienting — to see Ritter, in reaction to the court decision, claim that “all we were doing was giving voice and respecting the will of the voters” by freezing property-tax rates.

The governor knows perfectly well that any measure proposing to put taxes on an escalator tied to inflating housing values — and thus squeeze homeowners whose incomes weren’t rising as fast — would stand no chance at the polls.

By all means, governor, exult in your victory before the court. But don’t pretend “that voters knew what they were doing in every one of those elections.”

Were they soothsayers, then, who foresaw Ritter’s victory in 2006 and his eventual plans for the property tax?

Colorado voters are smart, but they’ve been blindsided by this one — even though it will be years before they fully appreciate the consequences.

The lazy media is also parroting from Ritter’s PR playbook.  I am seeing mis-reports that this money is for “schools,” or “children.”  I encourage you to demand a correction every time you hear that.  Senate Bill 07-199 doesn’t guarantee a single penny to schools or children.  It will however put billions into the state’s general fund for legislator’s to spend as they see fit.  The governor signing it surrounded by kids back in 2007 doesn’t change its wording.

Yesterday the Colorado Supreme Court lived up to its national reputation as the most partisan court in the country.  Rest easy tonight knowing that all three branches of Colorado’s government are so entrenched in their tax-and-spend mandate they are willing collude to turn a blind eye to the constitution.

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