('76 Editor) When Scott McInnis, Josh Penry, and Dan Maes faced an audience of almost 300 at Centennial Institute's forum for gubernatorial candidates on Nov. 3, the outpouring of written questions from the floor added up to a comprehensive examination of the rivals' readiness to lead Colorado if elected in 2010. Since our panel was only able to ask a few of the questions that night, we've compiled all of them here for your reference. The order is random, and there has been no editing to avoid repetition or overlap on some topics -- since that serves to illustrate concentrated areas of concern among those who attended. Panelists' questions are listed separately at the end.
1. Colorado public schools are underachieving, despite huge increases in funding. What do you believe are the primary purposes of public education? Social? Intellectual? In preparation for work as entrepreneurs, employees, and employers? How can Colorado do this better?
2. Congressman McInnis, you say now that you are, and have been, pro-life. Yet in 1992 while running for Congress, you said that you were pro-choice and would remain pro-choice. Which are you really, and how can we know that?
3. Do you know the case of Rifqua Bari of Ohio? If the courts return her to her Muslim family, does that put her under Sharia Law? And at risk of beating, deportment, and still possible future death? Would you make a similar case, of a Muslim youth becoming a Christian, or other faith, a ward of the state to protect them? What is your position on school vouchers?
4. What will you do to defend TABOR?
5. What is your position on the I-70 light rail?
6. What is your view of the proposed personhood amendment declaring a fetus a human being from conception.
7. Colorado voted for marriage to be defined as one man and one woman, but I believe we’re paying state employee benefits for homosexual couples, what is your opinion on that?
8. Would you be willing to work (or sign, if the opportunity is given) to repeal the “bathroom” bill – men can use women’s’ bathrooms and vice versa?
9. What is your position on illegal immigration?
10. How do you plan to fix P.E.R.A.?
11. You speak of values, hard work, and integrity. Have you been to the projects (low-income housing) to see the people who are struggling daily? In layman’s terms, how would you explain your agenda?
12. How do you plan to balance environmental awareness with the exploitation of natural resources in Colorado in order to be a good steward of resources as well as provide jobs?
13. How would you rate your knowledge and comprehension of the state budgets in the last two years?
14. How much comprehension of the budget does the next governor need?
15. Do you prepare your own tax return?
16. What is the starting income number on Colorado personal return? How does it relate to a U.S. 1040?
17. Alternative energy is not yet reliable (wind and solar versus nuclear). If Colorado is supposed to be leading the nation in new ideas while providing jobs, how does that work if alternative energy can’t pay for itself?
18. How would you try to correct the damage that has been done by the Ritter administration to the natural gas industry?
19. What is your number one suggestion for how to raise Colorado revenues?
20. How do you believe the legalization of marijuana would benefit and/or harm Colorado?
21. Please summarize what caused the fiscal problems with P.E.R.A., and what the governor and legislature should do to solve the problem?
22. As governor, what would your standpoint on the nation of Israel and America’s support of her be?
23. Is state government currently in a financial crisis or is this simply an expected ratcheting down of government because of TABOR?
24. As governor how would you create new jobs? Please be specific.
25. Transportation statewide is in dire straights. How do you plan on gaining the funding necessary to fix the problem?
26. What is your position on the expansion of Fort Carson?
27. In this era of global economy, what would you do to prepare Colorado businesses to compete in the borderless business between countries? –
28. As governor, what will you do to further America’s fight against Islamic terrorism?
29. How many jobs as Gov. Ritter brought to Colorado with his green energy policy? How many jobs has he lost in the in the oil and gas industry?
30. It will take a solidified effort to win our state and country back. Can each of you get behind one candidate if that is what it takes?
31. This is an open question to any one of you who thinks he can answer it. Can you recite the preamble to the Colorado State Constitution?
32. As governor, what would you do to solve the illegal immigration problem in Colorado?
33. As a voter, I have lost faith in our government. Fiscal responsibility has been abandoned and our founding heritage and future have been compromised. If elected governor, what would you do to restore my faith in government?
34. How would you fix TABOR?
35. Gov. Owens cancelled funding for Planned Parenthood. Gov. Ritter restored that funding. Will you again cut off funds for this pro-abortion organization?
36. Would you support state condemnation for transportation or water projects?
37. Why did Republicans in the past Congress go the wrong direction when we had the majority?
38. What is your message to young people – tomorrow’s leaders – that will compel them to embrace conservative values?
39. The oil companies have worked behind the scenes to prevent us from becoming more energy independent. How are you going to make Colorado more independent and keep the oil companies from derailing this effort?
40. In this tough economy, all parts of state government are having to cut. However, Amendment 23 allows public schools to take more and more. Is there a way to rectify that situation and more evenly balance our funding?
41. Please describe your feelings on the 2nd Amendment.
42. Do you support the three grassroots taxpayer rights initiatives supported by Doug Bruce to control the size of government and repeal fees?
43. Some Republicans are saying it’s inconsistent for the front runner in this race, Scott McInnis, to plead party unity as a reason for avoiding head to head debates, when he himself damaged party unity by criticizing Bob Beauprez’s campaign in 2006 and the Bob Schaffer campaign in 2008. Please ask each candidate to comment. 44. Tonight, we’re finding out in Virginia, and New Jersey, in New York and Maine, what it means to be a Republican and a conservative, including being a social conservative: on issues of life and marriage and justices, and on issues that affect the family. Why is it that none of you seem wiling to talk about social conservative issues in your campaigns? Does that leg of the Reagan conservative triad not matter any more?
Prepared Questions by Student Panelist Chad Ryder:
A. One of the core values of this university is compassion for the poor. Another is limited government and free markets. Many Democrats would say those values are incompatible, and they would charge Republicans with having little compassion for the poor. How would you respond to that charge, and what would you do about it as governor?
B. In the recent past, with such scandals as Gov. Spitzer in New York and Gov. Sanford in South Carolina, the American people have witnessed the effects that poor self-management and skewed personal-values can have on a politician’s career. What are three core-values you uphold in your personal life that will assure you success in your political career?
C. During the 2006 election, the Republican Party lost the race for governor, partially because the tensions during the Republican primaries damaged the party unity in the general election. What practical measures are you taking to make sure the Republican Party does not repeat the same mistakes of the 2006 election?
Prepared Questions by Student Panelist Samantha Scoggins:
A. After talking with college students, I have found that many people my age are concerned that there will not be jobs for them after graduation.According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms and employ 64 percent of all private sector employees. In the current economic climate, small businesses seem to be suffering more than large firms. How do you plan to bolster small businesses and create small business growth in Colorado? B. Many college age students find themselves unable to reasonably pay for college. Many take out large amounts of student loans that they spend years trying to repay. Due to the current economic downturn, most students find it harder to pay for college than in the past. How do you intend to make higher education affordable for students in light of the current economy?
Prepared Questions by Moderator John Andrews:
A. Before coming to the issues of 2010, the Centennial Institute invites each of you to fill out a job application. Tell us specifically what preparation and qualifications you have that the other two Republicans and the incumbent Democrat do not have, making you the best choice to be our next governor. Each of you is at a disadvantage for not having won the Nobel Peace Prize. But you also each have some advantage over the others. Please spell out what that is.
B. With tax revenues falling short in the current recession, Gov. Bill Ritter has relied heavily on onetime federal stimulus money to meet a $271 million deficit in this year’s budget. Do you agree with that approach?
C. The terrorist plot involving Najibullah Zazi of Aurora is one of seven such cases involving radical Muslims in all parts of the country during the past few weeks. Gov. Ritter has called for greater vigilance against the threat of homegrown jihad. What would you do as governor to protect Colorado against Islamic extremism?
('76 Editor) Before Tuesday, only one loss had ever marred Barack Obama’s smooth ascent to greatness. From the Harvard Law Review to the Illinois Senate to the United States Senate to the White House, the charmed young leader rose unstoppably. The lone speed bump was his congressional primary defeat in 2000.
Then came the shellacking of 2009. Governorships in two key states flipped from Democrat to Republican despite the president’s best efforts. Virginia and New Jersey were both solidly blue a year ago. But recession-weary voters proved to be a stingier prize jury than the leftists of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
So much for water-walking on the Potomac. Meanwhile on the Platte, how did these elections treat Bill Ritter? Our beleaguered governor was not on the ballot. But he is under more pressure than Obama, with a budget to balance, no health-care razzle dazzle at hand, and one year left in his term. While clues for the next election from Tuesday’s results were slight, they held little comfort for Ritter.
Maine’s spending lobby may have succeeded in defeating a TABOR-style requirement for voter approval of taxes, with teacher unions doing a $1.8 million ad blitz of lies about Colorado. Former Gov. Bill Owens and former education commissioner Bill Moloney responded as a truth squad, but the dark side won.
At home in Aurora, however, sensible citizens turned down a tax hike for libraries, of all things. Not even motherhood and apple pie could move the tapped-out taxpayers. It’s a sign that Ritter and his government pals will face a tough sell for any “revenue enhancements” in 2010, or for an outright repeal of TABOR in 2011, if he’s still around. No wonder he prefers a flimsy fix for the budget shortfall with federal stimulus dollars.
This governor’s entire persona has morphed from flinty to flimsy since 2006. It’s harder and harder to take him seriously. He has a gravitas gap. His blunders with labor-management issues have made the statehouse “feel like Detroit,” said Republican challenger Josh Penry at a candidate forum the other night. Team Ritter can’t keep their story straight about the Villafuerte scandal, job creation data, or his own hiring record.
Nor was union political muscle, so helpful in Bill Ritter’s victory three years ago (along with “lawbreaker” slurs against opponent Bob Beauprez), fearsome this time out. Teacher-union candidates did tip the Denver School Board their way on Tuesday. But a reform slate defeated four union-endorsed candidates for Douglas County Schools, and conservative Laura Boggs unseated a liberal incumbent in Jeffco Schools.
Last week’s local election results also hinted of a GOP that is regaining its ground game. My party pushed back against the stealth Democratic efforts in those nominally nonpartisan municipal and school board races. Arapahoe Republican Chairman Dave Kerber helped elect Marsha Berzins to the Aurora Council and Ron Phelps to the Centennial Council. Douglas Republican Chairman John Ranson courageously put money and muscle into his county’s board of education fight.
Hearing that some paper had published his obituary, Mark Twain played it for laughs. Republicans at that forum for governor hopefuls (held Nov. 3 at the Centennial Institute) had a laughing optimism seldom seen since 2004. Senate Minority Leader Penry, former Congressman Scott McInnis, and businessman Dan Maes are campaigning as if they missed the memo that this is now a one-party state. And attitude counts for a lot; ask the Broncos and Coach McDaniels.
Twelve months is forever in politics, it’s true. As Obama slumped in the year past, so Ritter may rebound in the year ahead. But his blue crew is reeling right now. Though no great seer – I’m the guy who thought the Beatles were a flash in the pan – my hunch is Colorado returns to red in 2010.
('76 Editor) Beyond Vail, beyond Durango, all the way to the Oregon woods and the West Virginia coalfields, Americans with an appetite for politics got the word about Centennial Institute's forum for Colorado gubernatorial candidates one year ahead of Election 2010. Search-engine maven Jonathan Watters of the CCU University Communications office compiled the following sampler of media coverage:http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_13708744http://www.kjct8.com/Global/story.asp?S=11438579http://durangoherald.com/sections/News/2009/11/04/GOP_gubernatorial_candidates_square_off_in_Lakewood/http://www.businessword.com/index.php?/weblog/comments/2954/http://image.examiner.com/a-2302418~GOP_rivals_debate_in_governor_s_primary.htmlhttp://www.vaildaily.com/article/20091103/NEWS/911039950/1078&ParentProfile=1062http://www.wkrg.com/raw_news/article/gop_rivals_debate_debates_in_governors_primary/502331/Nov-03-2009_10-28-pm/http://www.9news.com/news/article.aspx?storyid=126242&catid=222http://www.gazette.com/articles/gop-64764-one-penry.htmlhttp://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/gci/InsidePage.aspx?cId=delawareonline&sParam=31963235.storyhttp://www.oregonlive.com/newsflash/index.ssf?/base/politics-13/1257308419262060.xml&storylist=politicshttp://www.krdo.com/Global/story.asp?S=11431742http://wvgazette.com/ap/ApPolitics/200911030232
(CCU President) A packed house at Colorado Christian University's School of Music auditorium gave gubernatorial candidates a rousing reception last night, as they spoke at CCU's Candidate Forum, sponsored by the university's Centennial Institute.
Candidates Scott McInnis, Josh Penry and Dan Maes presented their credentials in an hour long televised forum hosted by Centennial Institute Director John Andrews. An audience of 300 was invited to submit questions which were posed to candidates by CCU Seniors Chad Ryder and Samantha Scoggins. Time permitted candidates to respond to only a few of approximately 50 questions submitted, but all audience questions will be posted tomorrow on this website. The questions will constitute a “checklist of citizen concerns,” Andrews pointed out.
Governor Ritter had been expected to participate, but at 5:00 PM Monday afternoon, his office called to say that he was unable to resolve a scheduling conflict.
The forum was captured on video and will be seen statewide on Colorado Public Television and broadcast by Salem Radio stations around the state, including KNUS 710 in the Denver area. The event was covered by Associated Press and The Denver Post. The Post story is here.
A similar forum for US Senate candidates will be held at the same time, same place, next Tuesday evening the 10th of November.
(Washington & Lee Students) Today two important gubernatorial races are climaxing, New Jersey and Virginia. Since our small liberal arts college is in Virginia we have been very much in the heat before the election. Houses around our town have had signs up for different candidates for months but specifically in the past two weeks our town has caught “election fever.”
When looking at the specifics of the election, we can see the two candidates. The first, Creigh Deeds, state senator and Democratic candidate, and his opponent Bob McDonnel, former Virginia attorney general and Republican candidate. While the spot for the Democratic nominee was a tight race, Bob McDonnel was the only candidate to file with the election board for the Republican party. These two candidates have had history running against each other as well which makes it an even more contested race. They both ran for attorney general in 2005 with Bob McDonnel coming out on top.
More importantly, while this election is important for the state of Virginia, it seems that it is even more important for the political climate of our nation as a whole. The Republican party has smartly used both of these elections to push and question the steps that President Obama is taking on healthcare, the economy, jobs and politics. This race has been a tool used in order to test the waters for the Republicans ability to gain control in the future. As one of my professors said in class, this election is a “referendum” for people to express their disappointments with Obama’s ability to make at any of the improvements that he stated he would and it puts pressure on the Democrats to reevaluate who they should vote for.
When looking at this race even more broadly, this race can demonstrate exactly how popular or unpopular Obama has been with the people of Virginia. Bob McDonnel has the edge right now in the polls by at least 13 points. If Bob McDonnel wins, it allows the Republicans to get back into state government control, as well as illustrate the people’s dissatisfaction with Obama’s policy.
While McDonnel has been a strong candidate the entire race, the race in New Jersey has been heating up as well. While the incumbent Democratic governor was expected to win, recently the race has tightened demonstrating just how split the American people are after a few months with Obama in the presidency. I personally believe that many of the voters now feel a little bit disalusioned by Obama’s claims and goals and now realize that they might either need equal representation in government or even new leadership to make changes actually happen in government.
In an audacious power grab, the Colorado Supreme Court recently embraced, by a 4-3 decision, a judicial doctrine that would relegate the other two branches of government — and the voters — to a perfunctory role.
The high court's activist majority used Lobato vs. State not only to intrude on the legislature's constitutional authority to determine funding for public schools; it also self-servingly suggested that no policy decision is off-limits to judicial review.
So much for separation of powers, consent of the governed, or checks and balances. In fact, the Lobato ruling leads to the obvious question: "What's left to check or balance the court?"
The majority opinion, written by Justice Michael Bender, represented such a stark — and sometimes disingenuous — departure from established precedent that Justice Nancy Rice, who frequently sides with the activist majority, instead joined two originalist justices in dissent.
A collection of school boards and parents initiated the lawsuit in 2005, contending the legislature should increase K-12 education spending by as much as $500 million a year — as if the state could find $500 million under the couch cushions.
Two lower courts dismissed their claims, finding that the state constitution provides no quantifiable standard — other Amendment 23, which the legislature has thus far implemented — to determine funding sufficiency. Thus, the courts ruled that K-12 spending is a "political question" which the constitution specifically places within the authority of the legislature and beyond the court's purview.
However, the supreme court's majority selectively quoted and distorted the law and its own precedent. Even more significantly, the majority argued that courts can render judgments even when the law is silent, provides no quantifiable standard or confers specific authority to another branch of government.
Bender's decision devotes five pages mostly to quote law school textbooks and journals — which have no force of law — to argue that the "political question doctrine … should be abolished."
Incredibly, Bender — joined by Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey and Justices Alex Martinez and Gregory Hobbs — reasons that failure to hear the plaintiffs' claims would "give the legislative branch unchecked power." Is the majority so infatuated by judicial supremacy as to forget that the legislature is routinely checked by the governor's veto and by citizens' initiatives?
In her dissent, Justice Rice demonstrates that a judge can be liberal in applying the law while still acknowledging that even the courts must be constrained: "Chief Justice Marshall noted that without the restraints imposed by the political question doctrine . . . the other departments would be swallowed up by the judiciary."
Rice — joined by Justices Nathan Coats and Allison Eid — argues that, when the constitution says "the general assembly shall . . . provide for . . . a thorough and uniform system of free public schools," authority is clearly conferred upon the legislature and not the courts.
She also scolds the majority for twice distorting the court's 1982 Lujan ruling on school finance.
Bender asserts that Lujan explicitly established the court's authority to review public school finance. Rice corrects the record to show that the Lujan court said, "[O]ur sole function is to rule on the constitutionality of our state's system" (emphasis added) not "whether a better financing system could be devised."
Rice goes one better in dismantling the majority's argument that "the Lujan court engaged in a rational basis review of whether the state's system violated the 'thorough and uniform' mandate." She retorts: "This is simply untrue – the Lujan court never references any test for 'thorough and uniform,' uses the words 'rational basis,' or posits any standard of review."
In fact, the Lujan court left those determinations to the legislature because it was "unable to find any historical background to glean guidance regarding the intention of the framers."
That's the important distinction between originalist judges — who believe their job is to apply the laws as written and to seek guidance from those who authored them — and activist judges — who believe their job is to twist the law to suit their own political agenda and to consult unelected, unaccountable academics for inspiration.
Ironically, Bender, Mullarkey and Martinez stand for retention in November 2010. Perhaps then voters will exercise their own "checks and balances."
Mark Hillman served as senate majority leader and state treasurer. To read more or comment, go to www.MarkHillman.com.
Our temptation to prognosticate is nearly insatiable and our media-driven politics exacerbates this tendency. The reliability and value of these predictions is tenuous at best. Poll-driven politics is obsessed with “who’s ahead” and “who’s behind.” Rather than reflecting reasonable scholarship and knowledge, these projections are often either misguided guesses or wishful thinking on the part of a partisan media.
Following the election of President Obama and the increase in the Democrat majority control of both the House and Senate in 2008, numerous articles, television stories, pundits and op-ed pieces predicted that the country was headed towards increased Democratic control for the coming years. With this trend would be the requisite Republican Party decline, followed by years in the wilderness. This assessment concluded of course, that the country had made a significant shift in favor of liberal Democrat policies.
In the past few days, however, new polls have begun to show a resurgence of the Republican Party! The general favorability rating comparing the public’s confidence between Democrats and Republicans shows increasing dissatisfaction with the Democrats, accompanied by either steady ratings or slightly improving ratings for the Republicans. Reviewing specific polling data for both 2009 and 2010 elections, Republicans are leading in key gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia (both states carried by President Obama) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is trailing two potential Republican candidates in his re-election bid.
This recent shift in favorability ratings should not be interpreted as a definitive sign that the Republicans will realize a 1994-like resurgence, although it is certainly possible. Such a prediction at this time would be just as rash as that of those following the 2008 election who said that the Democrats would be in control for an extended period of time.
The United States has been in a fairly steady trend of divided government for the past 30+ years. More often than not, the public have elected the president from one party while favoring the other party with control of the legislature. In most of the elections cycles, either party has had a reasonable chance of electoral success. The events during the 2008 election, of course, were strongly stacked against the Republicans in favor the Democrats, but this was unique in our recent history.
This recent era is distinctive in American politics, for while we have always been a two party system, we have experienced long periods where one party was clearly dominant. For instance, form the 1860 election until the late 1920’s, the Republicans were unmistakably stronger than the Democrats, winning the White House, controlling the Congress, controlling a majority of state governments and leading in party registration. A similar trend existed favoring the Democrats from Roosevelt’s victory in 1932 through the mid-1960’s. Since that time, we have seen a public willing to support either party’s candidates, often willing to split their vote between the parties. Recent elections have been decided more often on individual candidates and/or salient issues during an election cycle.
While pundits seek to make bold predictions concerning polling trends, parties and candidates would be wise to temper their forecasts. Voter memory is short. Apparent trends in November of 2008 or in late August of 2009 may very well be worthless by the time the next election cycle rolls around.
Impending mortality tends to focus the mind, and looming elections tend to focus politicians' ears on vox populi. But just as theologians debate the sincerity of "deathbed conversions," voters should be skeptical of lawmakers who find religion as elections near.
Although 15 months remain until the 2010 elections, Democrats are learning — just as Republicans discovered after their 2004 victory tour — how quickly the political winds can shift for the party in power.
In less than a year, Governor Bill Ritter has seen his favorable/unfavorable margin flip from plus-13 to minus-8, according to Public Policy Polling. Newly imposed vehicle licensing "fees," championed by Ritter, won't make Coloradans with cars or trucks any more charitable, either.
Ritter's beneficiary, appointed Senator Michael Bennet, hasn't impressed many outside his own party during his eight months in office. Bennet's approval/disapproval rating stands at minus-7 (34%-41%) among all voters, but even worse (minus-11) among unaffiliated voters.
Nationally, the trend is no more comforting for vulnerable Democrats: Rasmussen shows the generic congressional ballot favoring Republicans 43% to 38%, while Gallup says voters are souring on President Obama's health care push with 50% disapproving and 44% approving.
Not coincidentally, both Ritter and Bennet sought to induce a bit of voter amnesia recently with tough talk on taxing and spending.
Ritter told a gathering of municipal leaders that he won't ask for a tax hike in 2010. The AP report didn't mention whether Ritter's proclamation was met with audible laughter or just snickering.
Here's a governor who convinced the legislature and the state supreme court that legislation increasing property tax revenue isn't really a tax increase and therefore doesn't trigger the constitutional requirement for a public vote. As a result, property owners will pay some $200 million more this year than they would have without Ritter's "tax freeze."
In the wake of that ruling, Ritter and the Democrat legislature used a new loophole manufactured by the supreme court to enact an additional $125 million in tax increases — also without a vote of the people.
Just this year Ritter championed two new "fees" so large as to make taxes superfluous. First he enacted his famous vehicle fee to raise an estimated $250 million by increasing the cost of licensing almost every vehicle in the state by $41 to $51 annually. Then he signed a "hospital provider fee" that will, when fully implemented, raise $600 million a year from new charges on patient services.
With fees like that, who needs taxes?
Note that Ritter didn't vow to veto any tax increases sent to him by the legislature; he merely vowed not to ask for them.
Bennet's charade is pathetically weak, too, introducing the so-called Deficit Reduction Act of 2009 in an attempt to build credentials as a "fiscal hawk."
Remember that Bennet cut his senatorial teeth by voting for President Obama's $787 billion stimulus package — the one that stimulated very little and really costs $3.7 trillion, including $1 trillion in interest.
Bennet also helped kill a measure that simply sought to limit new federal debt over the next 10 years to no more than the old federal debt accumulated in the previous 220 years. That's right, the amendment would have allowed for a doubling of the federal debt but no more. Even that medicine was just too strong for Colorado's appointed junior senator.
Bennet's fiscal hawkishness is so feeble that he doesn't even bother to suggest that the federal budget should be balanced — only that overspending should be capped at 3% of GDP, not this year or next year or the year after that but by 2013. By that miserly standard, President Bush succeeded at least half the time.
No, Colorado's big spenders aren't changing their ways — just their words.
Mark Hillman served as Colorado senate majority leader and state treasurer. To read more or comment, go to www.MarkHillman.com.
Entertainer Bill Maher commented this week that America is a stupid nation. Of course he is correct: any nation that pays well for this type of comedy is stupid. But this gives reasonable observers a real insight into the liberal mindset. An aphorism I often use is, "liberals are sure they are smarter than we, conservatives are sure they are more moral than we." The former is obviously not true and the latter is for a different discussion. But Maher illustrates the former in action.
Viewing the video does Maher's comments more justice than my paraphrase can. But when he was asked by Wolf Blitzer on CNN, whether Sarah Palin had a chance at becoming president he responded, "I wouldn’t put anything past this stupid country." Blitzer then continues saying that "people are already complaining..." At the word complaining, the left side of Maher's mouth raises slightly in consternation that people are complaining about an obvious truth. At least that is the way I read his body language.
Blitzer then gives Maher a chance to "clarify." Maher seems to be thinking of an answer, but says, "I don"t need to clarify, it is." The absolutely deadpan delivery of "I don't need to clarify" may be a practiced comedian's delivery; if so, he is good. But I suspect it is rather the insouciant reaction of an elite to the masses. Blitzer then asks why he believes we are a stupid county and Maher responds, "Because Sarah Plain could be president.... I mean please, do I have to expand on that anymore?" He finishes with "just because they [the American people] elected a bright guy doesn’t mean they [the American people] are bright."
Two thoughts come out of this: We elected Barack Obama because he was bright and, Maher does not understand the concept of circular reasoning, claiming something is true by repeating the "truth." This fallacy is closely associated with the false authority fallacy. Here, we accept an argument because a certain type of person says it is so. The cult of celebrity, evidenced by Michael Jackson's death, allows for us to believe that celebrities like Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Barbara Streisand are authorities. Conservative talk show host Laura Ingraham wrote an excellent book on the subject, Shut Up and Sing.
Electing a president because he is bright is an old liberal canard. An old Saturday Night Live skit has Jon Lovitz playing Michael Dukakis and the brilliant Dana Carvey playing G.H.W. Bush. Carvey is babbling on and the camera goes to Lovitz who looks pleadingly into the camera, "How can I be losing to this guy?" Jimmy Carter was a nuclear physicist, and Clinton was a Rhodes scholar. Did these presidents govern better because they were smart?
Make no mistake, liberalistas believe they have a secular, are opposed to a divine right, to rule because they are educated. The problem is it is a modern, as opposed to a classical education. Classical education was dedicated to finding man's highest purpose, what was the ultimate good. Not to put too fine a point on it, the ultimate good is freedom. This freedom is of a certain type. In Aristotle's words, freedom is doing something for its own sake. It is what man does in his leisure time, after we have secured our freedom in material senses: secured our borders and secured ourselves economically. Education, then, was the development of the arts, as opposed to the sciences of freedom, war and economics.
The modern idea of freedom comes after Thomas Hobbes's argument that, as Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland, there is no there there. There is no highest good only the baddest bad, i.e., life without an overarching authority to keep us in line. Education then is dedicated to the preservation of life, the expansion of physical comfort and the avoidance of death.
Modern education then becomes, at least in comparative terms, anti-intellectual. Education is a means to power, to expand our power and control over the universe. Thus, modern education is merely a means to power, willing one's way to power. Once in power this educated class forces their conception of freedom upon us.
In a recent column for the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan commented, "We are living in a time in which educated people who are at the top of American life feel they have the right to make very public criticisms of . . . let's call it the private, pleasurable but health-related choices of others. They shame smokers and the overweight. Drinking will be next. Mr. Obama's own choice for surgeon general has come under criticism as too heavy. Only a generation ago such criticisms would have been considered rude and unacceptable. But they are part of the ugly, chafing price of having the government in something: Suddenly it can make big and very personal demands on you."
The deciding question to this logic is in fact simple: has any intelligent president actually made a better president because he is smart? Jimmy Carter, probably America's worst president if you combine his activities in and out of office, would seem to refute that. Is there even one incident in which Bill Clinton's degrees have made the political situation better?
The reverse should also be true. Have "stupid" presidents made things worse? Bush derangement syndrome in which one must hate for hate's sake needs no proof for true believers. FDR has been described as an intellectual lightweight by scholar Bruce Kuklick. Harry Truman did not go to college. JFK graduated from Harvard with Honors because his thesis, later turned into the book Why England Slept, was completed with the assistance of Kennedy's father's staff while Joseph P. Kennedy was Ambassador to the Court of St. James. Young John had a solid gentleman's C while an undergraduate. LBJ graduated from Southwest Teachers College in Texas. And we are back to Carter.
The result of this trip down memory lane actually indicates the opposite of the elite liberal contention: the most successful Democratic presidents have been of average education and intelligence. How 'bout them apples?
Heading into the 2008 elections, the Democratic Party reeled in a whopper of a catch, $385,000,000, from 57 different organized labor unions. In Q&A at Issue Friday on July 17, I misquoted that figure as coming just from the UAW and just to the Obama campaign. My apologies to that day’s attendees for the delay filing this correction; I was searching for the facts.
Several articles, including those noted at the end of this post, provided interesting information on campaign giving (with expectations in return) to the Democratic Party. In fact, according to OpenSecrets.org, the campaign finance monitoring website, that $385 million represents 20% of the total campaign funds raised for all Democrats at the national level. (Totals and percentages derived from this table at OpenSecrets.) One dollar of every five in the party’s overall resources came from union coffers. No wonder Dems have worked so hard on card check and on featherbedding for the autoworkers.
The practice of payola is far from original by any party in political history. Americans must pay attention to the flow of money and votes over time, as the direct relationship will not change while our voting public allows PACs, Lobby groups, NGOs, or interest groups by any name, to act as their representative to our elected officials. A representative democracy is supposed to represent the will of the voters. Yet, how many voting citizens did our trusted representatives ask? Were you asked? I was not. I did not get to vote, nor did I get to voice my opinion.
Not one elected official, their office, their staff, their helpers...NOT ONE asked me how I would vote, or for that matter, asked anyone that I know.
I did not get a phone call, digital message, flyer, comment card, hometown meeting, neighborhood walk and doorbell / hand-shake conversation, brochure, whistle stop, convention, or an airplane banner fly-by at a ball game.... However, I did experience each of these political media formats during the campaign asking for my vote in the election. Therefore, I know the venues exist, and I know my name is on the lists, and I know each of my so-called representatives has the capability use these tools to know the will of the voters in their district. At least, when they care to know.
In fairness to all Americans, this question is critical, “Did you get to vote on the largest government stimulus package in history?” If not, why not? Just who is the democracy that is being represented? It is neither me, nor my neighbors.
Our system allows for this type of ramrod voting, but I would have preferred a public vote. People know best what is best for their needs and will vote in the best interest of their family, friends, employer, and community. People who are empowered to make a difference often do so. People, who know their vote, effort, energy, or money is wasted, often do not bother.
Kudos to any organized group that has figured out how to be represented in this adaptation of a representative democracy. True representation ought not to, should not, cannot, must not, and for heaven’s sake better not be financially motivated – except that... it is. Worse, everyone with access to media worldwide knows this embarrassing truth about America’s current form of democracy.
The distance America has drifted from the original intent of the constitution and truly represented votes is sickening. A call for our elected officials to return to grass roots, hometown-level, look-me-in-the-eye level representation is far past due. What distances did representatives travel by foot or horse-drawn carriage in the early days of American politics to know the will of the people? As far as needed, I suspect. What distance from behind their state office desk or from Washington do they now travel to know even one voter’s opinion that is not in a position to contribute financially? As far as their digital rolodex for the lobbyist’s cell number, I suspect.
Nobel Laureate for his work in Welfare Economics, Amatyra Sen, writes the following in a Wall Street Journal commentary, "Democracy Isn't 'Western'": “In his autobiography, Nelson Mandela describes how influenced he was, as a boy, by seeing the democratic nature of the proceedings of the meetings that were held in his home town: ‘Everyone who wanted to speak did so. It was democracy in its purest form. There may have been a hierarchy of importance among the speakers, but everyone was heard, chief and subject, warrior and medicine man, shopkeeper and farmer, landowner and laborer.’"
How far has America drifted away from democracy? Too far. Embarrassingly far.
Tamara Hannaway, Associate Professor of Economics at Colorado Christian University and Ph.D Student at CU Denver’s School of Public Affairs. Her research areas are governance, corruption, and inequality, and the effects of Soviet influence on human development.
Big Labor has one big hope (and $385 million to sell it) AFL-CIO, SEIU go all out to pass organizing law ending secret ballots By Neil Roland September 1, 2008 EThttp://www.financialweek.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080901/REG/309019974/0/FREE“Given the stakes, it's hardly surprising that organized labor is splashing massive amounts of cash on the election. The AFL-CIO and its 56 member unions plan to spend a whopping $300 million to support Democrats in the presidential and congressional campaigns this fall and produce about 250,000 volunteers. The breakaway Service Employees International Union plans to pitch in another $85 million.”
Big Three Bailout? Not So FastDeclan McCullagh Says A Better Solution Is To Let The Automakers Declare Bankruptcyhttp://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/11/12/politics/otherpeoplesmoney/main4595068.shtml
“One explanation for Washington's haste is that while bankruptcy would alter union contracts, a bailout probably won't. The labor movement spent, according to Financial Week...a whopping $385 million to elect Obama and other Democrats last week. Nobody writes such large checks without expecting something: now it's payback time.”
Development as Freedom, an important book by Sen“Amartya Sen is Lamont University Professor, and Professor of Economics and Philosophy, at Harvard University and was until recently the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. He has served as President of the Econometric Society, the Indian Economic Association, the American Economic Association and the International Economic Association.”URL for Sen’s Harvard site is: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/sen
Stats at a Glancehttp://www.opensecrets.org/index.php “OpenSecrets.org is your nonpartisan guide to money’s influence on U.S. elections and public policy. Whether you’re a voter, journalist, activist, student or interested citizen, use our free site to shine light on your government. Count cash and make change.”