(Denver Post, Mar. 25) To get at the devil, says the young zealot Will Roper in “A Man for All Seasons,” Robert Bolt’s play, “I’d cut down every law in England.”
Thomas More, the wise old churchman, comes back at him: “When the last law was down, and the devil turned round on you – where would you hide, the laws all being flat? Do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?”
That’s the question someone should ask state Sen. Pat Steadman about the now-famous “Get thee to a nunnery” speech, in which he scornfully dismissed the constitutional guarantee of free exercise of religion for Coloradans who may object to same-sex marriage or civil unions.
Persons of faith can “be as judgmental you like” toward homosexual people, said Steadman with biting sarcasm in the Senate on Feb. 8, provided you “go inside your church” and confine your religious practice there. Just don’t “claim that religion requires (you) to discriminate” outside the church walls.
It’s difficult to put ourselves in another’s shoes, especially on something as existential as sexuality. But I imagine that for gays – such as Pat Steadman, with whom I have worked amicably for years – it probably seems as if the age-old antipathy to them is indeed the devil’s doing and, as such, calls for severe measures in return.
But his civil unions bill, signed into law last week without a meaningful conscience clause to protect fellow citizens who believe, for example, that God wants an adopted child to have both a mother and a father, goes too far. Not only does its “cut down all” severity flatten our most precious right, religious freedom.
It also ultimately threatens the life and liberty of every American, gay or straight, atheist or God-fearing, for exactly the reason More gave Roper. Raw majoritarianism, exemplified in Steadman’s absolutist legislation and rhetoric, serves no one’s best interest in a free society – because endless paybacks are sure to ensue, “the laws all being flat.”
We have a constitution with stern prohibitions on what government shall not do to unpopular or outnumbered individuals and groups, precisely because zealous majorities are tempted to tyrannize the minority if left unchecked. This is what led to pastors in Canada and Sweden being convicted for criticizing homosexuality. It’s what led to Catholic adoptions in Boston shutting down, for lack of a conscience clause.
“Do as you like, inside your church,” or convent, or monastery, the terms of surrender proffered to religious Coloradans by Sen. Steadman on Feb. 8, would trade a genuine freedom of religion for a hollow, privatized freedom of worship.
What’s the difference between the two? Freedom of religion allows you to speak and act, in daily life and in the public square, upon your best understanding of what the God you serve requires of you. Freedom of worship only allows you to honor Him behind closed doors, while out in the world you must render totally to Caesar.
That’s “totally,” as in totalitarianism. They never closed the churches in 1930s Germany; clergymen were simply told to stick to their sermons and let Hitler build the Reich. Nor did the Soviets enforce atheism. Worshippers could still gather, but Stalin acidly observed the Pope had no divisions. Reminds you of the civil unions bill sponsor waving away claims of conscience because he didn’t need the Christian vote.
Secularism can be as theocratic as Islam. Gay rights needn’t lead there, but it’s a danger. Kevin Miller diagnoses the tendency in his arresting book, “Freedom Nationally, Virtue Locally.” Americans are increasingly “worshipping the state,” notes Benjamin Wiker in a book by that name, and he warns such political zealotry might finish us. For who could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?
(Centennial Fellow) The culture of Washington is one of compromise. Go along. Get along. Get something done - good, bad or otherwise.
Sometimes compromise is necessary. When the levers of power are divided, reality dictates two choices: live with the status quo or do some "horse trading" in order to make changes that are marginally better.
When Republicans in Congress compromised on the so-called fiscal cliff, they acknowledged that Barack Obama won re-election, in part, by campaigning on the idea of raising taxes on "the rich."
Republicans fared remarkably well on that compromise. By conceding a tax increase on those who make more than $400,000 a year, Republicans secured most of the 2003 income tax cuts that otherwise would have expired.
That brings us to the dreaded "sequester," which President Obama's White House concocted but now wants to disavow. As president, Obama presides over annual deficits of more than $1 trillion - borrowing 30 cents of every dollar spent - but suggests that to cut a mere $85 billion (just over two percent) from a $3.7 trillion budget would result in calamity.
If calamity does result, it will be Obama's choosing.
As a grandstanding senator, Obama voted against raising the debt ceiling when George W. Bush was president, calling it "a sign of failed leadership" and "a signed that the U.S. government can't pay its own bills."
Now that he's increased federal spending by 25 percent, Obama claims, "We don't have a spending problem."
Meanwhile, Speaker John Boehner has wisely drawn a line in the sand by declaring there will be no more tax hikes: "The president got his tax hikes. The issue here is spending. Spending is out of control."
In this case, Republicans have the high ground and must defend it because taxation - particularly excessive taxation - is little more than legalized theft. Americans do not object to being taxed at reasonable rates for essential services, but excessive taxation is an abuse of government power and an infringement on our individual rights.
Today the federal government spends an average of $12,000 for every man, woman and child in America, so surely we are paying for more than enough government by any reasonable standard.
For every dollar the federal government spends on essential services, like national defense, it spends more than three dollars on various entitlement programs and transfer payments. The federal government has become the nation's largest and most inefficient "charity."
Turning government into a charitable leviathan robs the giver of the choice to be charitable and removes from the recipient the opportunity to be grateful to those who voluntarily offer a helping hand.
Consider this: If I'm about to lose my home to foreclosure and you choose to pay to make my mortgage current, I am grateful to you because I know it cost you something. But if government takes money from you, dumps it into the general fund with everyone else's and then says I'm eligible for a government program to avoid foreclosure, I have no one to express my gratitude to except politicians, who deserve it least of all because they were "generous" with other people's money. Worse, as a recipient of government largesse, I am now likely to expect government help in the future, so charity is transformed into an entitlement.
Taxation for charitable purposes is little more than legalized theft -- no matter how noble or popular it seems. If a mob robs you at gunpoint and gives your money to charity, how is that different than a majority of voters raising your taxes to support a government-run charity?
Republicans are right to defend the essential right of hard-working Americans to keep the fruits of our labor and to spend them as we choose, whether to support our family, build a business, or provide genuine charity for others.
('76 Contributor) Very few government programs can claim a positive return on taxpayer investment. The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP) is one of them.
Launched in 2004, the DCOSP provides scholarships of approximately $8,500 for K–8 students or $12,000 for high school students from low-income families to attend private schools of their choice.
According to a congressionally mandated evaluation of the DCOSP, 82 percent of students who received a voucher and used it to attend private school graduated from high school. That’s a 12 percentage point difference between voucher users and the control group that did not use the vouchers to attend private school. Just 70 percent of those students graduated. Roughly 60 percent of students in D.C. Public Schools graduate high school.
Multiplying the number of additional graduates by the value of a high-school diploma yields a total benefit of over $183 million. … [T]he DCOSP cost taxpayers $70 million, so dividing the benefits by the cost yields an overall benefit-to-cost ratio of 2.62, or $2.62 for every dollar that was spent.
University of Arkansas researchers Patrick Wolf and Michael Q. McShane cite the study in National Review Online, commenting: In other words, there is a 162 percent return on each taxpayer dollar invested in the program."
Wolf and McShane also note that the increase of high school graduates yields a decrease in crime, which means lower costs for the criminal justice system. These savings, combined with the increased tax revenue made on the increased income, adds $87,000 to government coffers per high school graduate over the nine years of the DCOSP’s existence.
In their study, Wolf and McShane found that “combining the increased income and financial benefits of longevity and quality of life, a high-school diploma is worth almost $350,000 to an individual.” DCOSP is not only fiscally beneficial, but it also yields more responsible, productive, and happier citizens.
Heritage Foundation policy analyst Jason Richwine found similar results from DCOSP graduates. In a 2010 Heritage report, “D.C. Voucher Students: Higher Graduation Rates and Other Positive Outcomes,” Richwine reports that the DCOSP yields an increase in parental satisfaction, school safety, and graduation rates.
The American dream of opportunity is alive in the DCOSP, showing that freedom through school choice opens the door to a more successful future for the nation’s students.
(Centennial Fellow) Here’s a little exercise for Colorado business owners, managers or anyone else whose job requires that they keep the bills paid, the doors open, and customers satisfied:
• Take a few minutes to read how legislators at the State Capitol want to treat you.
• Then suppress the urge to go out and create a dozen new jobs. (Really, it won’t be hard to do.)
The relentless attack on job-creators spearheaded by the trial-lawyer lynch mob at the State Capitol is breathtaking. Not that it’s surprising that trial lawyers are seeking new opportunities to litigate – that, after all, is what trial lawyers do.
What’s breathtaking is that so many legislators simply do not understand the real-world plight of employers who are too often threatened by dubious lawsuits filed by former employees who may have a grudge but often do not have a legitimate grievance.
Instead, the prevailing attitude among some legislators is that the typical employer is a ruthless goon who routinely treats employees like disposable commodities. That notion, of course, is foolish. Most employers recognize that good, reliable employees are indispensible, so they do everything reasonable to accommodate them.
Colorado Civil Justice League, the business organization I help lead, believes in justice for those who may have been wronged, balanced by fairness for those who may be wrongfully accused. Just as a handful of employers aren’t so thoughtful and accommodating, a few employees cause problems from their first day on the job and can’t be fired soon enough.
In these latter instances, employers simply want to part company and hire someone who will do a better job. On the other hand, some lawmakers want to give the fired employee his or her day in court – largely at the employer’s expense.
The cost of defending a lawsuit isn’t simply writing a hefty check to an attorney to defend you in court. Defending against a lawsuit can mean an absolute disruption of the workplace.
Organizing a cogent defense, even against frivolous charges, disrupts the normal routine of a workplace so that allegations can be investigated, employees interviewed, and records reviewed. After all, employers are placed in the awkward position of proving their innocence to a jury comprised largely of people who identify more readily with the employee than the employer.
Yet many lawmakers are trying to give employees and their attorneys even more incentives to litigate. Barely halfway through the legislature’s 2013 session, employers have been threatened with:
• Criminal prosecution for payroll disputes, and a one-sided loser pays arrangement that always requires losing employers to pay the winner’s legal costs but never requires a losing employee to do the same (House Bill 1227).
• Damages of up to $300,000 for “emotional pain and suffering” from an employee who claims to be a victim of illegal discrimination (House Bill 1136).
• Lawsuits for inquiring about a job applicant’s credit history (Senate Bill 18) or for looking into their social media accounts (House Bill 1046). Fortunately, the sponsors of these two measures recognized that their original proposals imposed an undue burden on employers, so they amended their bills to provide protections for employers and remove the threat of litigation.
The message all these bills send to employers is unmistakable: If you don’t want to be sued, hire the first person who walks in the door, assume that everything he or she tells you is truthful, and don’t ever deny a raise or promotion, much less consider termination, no matter what they do.
Remarkably, many of the same people supporting these bills were talking about creating jobs only a few weeks ago. However, the only jobs these bills create are for more attorneys and human resource managers – or new positions in some other state.
Mark Hillman is former Senate majority leader, a Centennial Institute Fellow, and executive director of Colorado Civil Justice League (www.CCJL.org).
(Centennial Fellow) New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the new Carrie Nation, and that's no small thing because she was no small thing.
Says one biographer, she was the "prime dragoness on a field strewn with the bones of sinners," a hatchet-wielding, epithet-spouting, hymn-singing crusader who broke whatever was breakable and threw bricks at whatever moved. Her purpose was to stymie booze consumption through bar destruction.
She started her demolition derby in Kansas City, Mo., did most of her handiwork between 1900 and 1910, was dubiously a follower of the Prince of Peace and intemperately a leader of the temperance movement that ultimately pushed the nation to Prohibition.
When you saw all 6 feet of her headed toward you, you'd likely get out of the way or call the cops, who stuck her in jail 30 times.
This firebrand figured she knew truths others should heed, and not just about alcohol. She also hated sex, government and tobacco, according to Robert Lewis Taylor in "Vessel of Wrath." Bloomberg seems to have some different attitudes -- he certainly cherishes government -- but is similarly on a mission to save wayward souls with his supposed moral insights.
One of those is that it's devilish connivance to sell sugary drink in containers of 16 ounces or bigger. He said as much last September as he urged the city's health board to limit the horror with a law that's in the news again because it's due to take effect March 12. Bloomberg is ecstatic.
"This is the single biggest step I think any city has ever taken to curb obesity, but certainly not the last step that lots of cities are going to take," he said. "And we believe it will help save lives."
I don't think so. I think sugar pursuers will buy two smaller drinks for more money than one would have cost. Maybe that expense will curtail sugar consumption to some slight degree, but not enough to be noticed, I would suggest, and no lives will be saved, only made more difficult.
What we have here, much as with Prohibition, are good intentions doing no discernible good. Instead, Prohibition did lots of harm -- the outcome again and again of government interventions. Clearly, some regulations are needed for public safety, but we as a nation are now enmeshed in enough, it sometimes seems, to stop every human activity except maybe sneezes if they were effectively enforced. It's no exaggeration to say they sometimes do more to endanger lives than protect them, and meanwhile we are less and less free. The last thing we need is to have states and localities join with Uncle Sam to leave no soda cup unturned.
This, by the way, is hardly Bloomberg's first hatchet job on decisions that should stay private. He banished smoking in parks where the secondhand smoke would drift harmlessly away, limited salt in restaurant food as if that were his business and even got in the way of charitable food contributions he thought might be fattening. He's right, of course, that obesity is an issue in America, but here's a pertinent development on that score.
A federal test showed that children it studied in 2011 had been consuming fewer calories than before but still putting on weight. One guess is they were getting less exercise than they had been, and one thesis is that this was partly because of fewer recesses at schools trying to meet federal demands for better academic performance. It's the age-old story of unintended consequences, but a story our let's-pretend saviors in politics refuse to learn.
Carrie Nation once got her comeuppance when she met a woman with a broom handle, and while I wish no similar whacking for Bloomberg, I would like to see him do what Nation then did: skedaddle from the intrusion.
Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso and Denver, is now a Centennial Institute Fellow and a columnist living in Colorado.
"Spit in the ocean" -- it's a phrase that's well-worn, and for a reason, namely that it sums up so splendidly the idea of something that is itsy-bitsy relative to something very, very big.
"Sequestration" -- it's a four-syllable word referring to across-the-board spending cuts of $85 billion scheduled for automatic implementation with the purpose of reducing deficits and better controlling the federal debt. However large it sounds, the amount is spit next to the oceanic gobs of owed money that could easily drown the American economy.
You'd hardly know as much listening to President Barack Obama. You almost get the idea that sequestration means the military will have to fight off terrorists with bare fists, that lonely students will sit in schools minus teachers, that hospitals will be bereft of caregivers and that no air traffic controllers will be at airports to let your planes take off crash-free for long-planned vacations.
I promise you, it's not as bad as he says, though there are problems. They are mostly Obama's fault. He and his White House gang are mostly to blame for the whole idea and he is the one primarily in the way of doing something about the confusion, inconvenience and worse that will result in the absence of a deal with Republicans to set things right.
The fact is that House Republicans have already passed legislation substituting considered spending cuts for across-the-board, indiscriminate ones and that those refusing compromise are Obama and Senate Democrats. Ideologically fixated on ever-bigger, more controlling government, the president says there will be no bargain without still more tax hikes on top of those he won in the so-called fiscal cliff deal. And while the Republicans really should go along with nuanced tax reform of the pro-growth kind, the first thing should be the spending cuts.
Obama may have figured he could get what he wanted if he said that was the only way Republicans would get what they wanted -- an end to the sequestration's thoughtless spending cuts in defense. Instead, the Republicans have apparently noticed what the Washington Examiner's Byron York has pointed out: Those cuts just slow down the rate of defense spending growth.
Concerning the bigger picture, columnist George F. Will has observed that the overall sequestration cuts in the first year would still leave federal spending 12 percent more than when Obama became president. He says the cuts over 10 years would reduce spending from $46 trillion to $44.8 trillion -- not all that much, especially considering that we borrow something like 40 cents for every dollar spent.
Reported federal figures show government spending has gone up by more than $800 per American since 2008, the year before Obama became president.
For all of this, Obama is still likely to win politically. The wily one has spared no propagandistic effort to portray the Republicans as the heartless, reckless bad guys, and too few commentators have caught up with some of the basics, such as the work of the Washington Post's Bob Woodward. Though hardly saying the Republicans are sweethearts, he has shown through his research how sequestration became a reality and entered common English usage as a consequence of White House conniving.
The Republicans appear ready to negotiate on how the spending cuts are done, but if they don't surrender to the tax bullying, Obama seems determined to just let the sequestration happen, blaming it on them. He will still be a hero to a public that voted him back into office, now gives him high favorability ratings and is proving in polls that it's no toughie to fool lots of people most of the time.
As for the Republicans, they will get blamed for this spit in the ocean and get spit in the face in return.
(Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado. Email SpeaktoJay@aol.com. )
(Centennial Fellow) While it included some reasonably expressed generalities, President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech was also a mix of black swan obliviousness and invisible gorilla syndrome, with some goulash for the gullible thrown in as well.
The worst of it revealed much that's wrong with politics, even as it was delivered in a tone of morally superior wisdom that clearly caused some commentators to forget the test of wisdom. It is found in outcomes far different from a recovery so mangled that average middle-class income per household actually declined thousands of dollars more than during the preceding recession.
Let's review some of the speech by talking first about black swans, moving through my list of other figurative allusions and throwing in a few concrete illustrations among many possibilities.
Black swan theory owes its formulation to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a professor of risk engineering who starts with the obvious observation that there's a lot we don't know. For centuries, people thought all swans were white, and then black ones were found in Australia, he tells us. His notion is that time and again, something wholly unanticipated will pop out of the rushes to make our best-laid calculations go awry.
This theory is important in politics because we too often get vast schemes -- think of "Obamacare," the Affordable Care Act -- that boast of a vast understanding they cannot possibly have, meaning calamity lurks. The answer to avoiding unintended, untoward consequences of major magnitude is to take just one small, prudent step at a time and to remain alert to possibilities not discoverable in expertise never so omnisciently informed as it pretends to be.
That seems unlikely as Obama and Congress plot some new doozy of a program to fix global warming.
As Yale economist William Nordhaus has pointed out, something along the lines of an early Al Gore cap-and-trade proposal could do trillions of dollars more damage than good. There are some nonthreatening, possibly productive actions that might help, such as still more reliance on natural gas. But considering the president's warning in his speech to "act before it's too late" and his overreach already in regulation and pork to the unworthy, I wonder if Katie or Republicans should consider barring the door.
Next we come to an important insight about how the visible can be invisible. Though not originated by cognitive psychologists Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, the idea does owe the gorilla connection to an experiment the two conducted at Harvard University more than 10 years ago.
They had students watch a video with instructions to count basketball passes made by a bunch of players. In the middle of it, a woman dressed as a gorilla walks out and thumps her chest. Half the students tested did not even notice her.
The moral of the story is that people easily miss what is right before their eyes when their attention is primarily directed at something else. In a way, it's the other side of the black swan coin -- instead of understandably not seeing what has never appeared before you, you fail to see what has ostentatiously appeared before you.
Politicians do this all the time, as when they pass minimum wage laws despite considerable evidence showing they do far more harm than good, costing people jobs. These ladies and gentlemen get so diverted by their wish to play the role of widely worshipped intervening angels that they neglect the economic reality thumping its chest directly in front of them.
Is that what Obama did when he called for an increase of the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9 an hour, making it sound as if a great many families are dependent on this income when in fact it mostly goes to a tiny percentage of workers adding to a family total?
I am not sure but suspect he was intentionally feeding goulash to the gullible for political advantage, although I have to concede that, despite its alliterative attraction, "goulash" is not quite the right word. It refers to a nourishing stew, and there was nothing nourishing about this nonsense.
Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado and a Centennial Institute Fellow.
At the recent National Prayer Breakfast, Dr. Ben Carson, the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital gave his solution to our nation’s health care crisis. He said, “When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record, and a health savings account to which money can be contributed -- pretax -- from the time you're born 'til the time you die…And also, for the people who were indigent who don't have any money we can make contributions to their HSA each month…Now they have some control over their own health care.”
Even though 13.5 million Americans are covered by health savings accounts (HSAs), a lot of people have not heard of them. HSAs enable individuals covered by high deductible health plans to save money in tax preferred savings accounts.
When I first heard of HSAs, admittedly I yawned. It wasn’t until I was an HSA holder that I understood the potential for this reform, often called “consumer driven health care” to bring down health care costs while giving patients more control over their health care.
I first took a high deductible plan while with an employer 10 years ago. My employer paid the premium and filled my HSA with $1,000 to cover the deductible. Eight years ago I became self-employed and self-insured and the high deductible plan ($3000) paired with an HSA was the only affordable option. Bear in mind that I’m not one of those of lucky folks that HSA critics allege are the sole users of HSAs; despite my dedication to healthy food and exercise, I’ve had three surgeries in five years and numerous procedures.
Because I pay the first $3,000 of my health care, I pay attention to costs. When I was covered under typical insurance arrangements, I didn’t care about the true cost of services or medication because I paid a small co-pay. I had no skin in the game, or at least I didn’t think I did. Under the HSA model, I have an incentive to find cost savings.
For example, I get tested every two years for glaucoma, the imperceptible destroyer of sight that runs in my family. To save money, I called three eye doctors, compared prices and chose the least expensive. Last year, I went on a new medication for a chronic condition. When the pharmacist told me the price, I researched the drug online, found a generic version, and asked the doctor to call in the new prescription. The incentive to pay less plus the information at my fingertips on the World Wide Web, allowed me to access a cheaper option.
In both cases, my smart shopping had the effect of keeping my health care costs lower. When many people act as smart shoppers, costs in general go down. That’s how the free market works. Conversely when people are willing to pay more, prices go up. Health care costs will start to go down only when more Americans become health care consumers rather can just health care users.
HSA’s aren’t just about lowering costs, of course; they’re also about returning control to patients. Under this model, I don’t have to get permission to see a specialist. I don’t wait in line. Because I am responsible for costs, I am religious about preventative care from glaucoma tests to mammograms to brushing my teeth twice a day. I follow my doctor’s orders to the T. I don’t mess around because I spend less when I take care of myself. My incentive to care for my body and care for my pocket book are aligned.
Interestingly my experience with HSAs is the norm among HSA users. A McKinsey study found that patients like me are twice as likely as patients in conventional plans to inquire about cost. They are three times as likely to pick a less expensive treatment option. Patients with chronic health issues are more like to follow their doctor’s orders with care.
The research and my personal experience demonstrate the tremendous potential of HSAs. Compare this to socialized health care models where patients routinely wait for procedures (the average Canadian waits 22.5 weeks for orthopedic surgery whereas I haven’t waited a day for my three procedures), or our own government-run system, in which too many patients find they cannot see their preferred provider because they’ve dropped Medicaid patients and emergency rooms are jammed with patients because they have no cost incentive to schedule a routine appointment.
Unfortunately, the Affordable Care Act takes us in the wrong direction, to greater government control instead of consumer driven health care. As it goes into effect next year, the ironically named law will force my premium and that of other self-insured people to double and I won’t be able to afford insurance any longer. I just hope the politicians were listening when Dr. Carson prescribed health care reform. Otherwise I don’t have a prayer.
(Centennial Fellow) Like a lot of other people with big names, John Elway got out of his element and made a fool of himself. Right there on CNN with Piers Morgan.
Elway had some magnificent years as the Denver Broncos' quarterback. Now he's that organization's Executive Vice President of Football Operations, their chief football executive. Fine. He recruited Peyton Manning, and in a few short months the Broncos became favorites to win the Super Bowl. Oops. The guys who took home the Lombardi Trophy, the Baltimore Ravens, were supposed to be little more than a bump in the road when they showed up in icy Denver and won their playoff game on January 12.
Twelve days following that Denver debacle, anti-gun zealot Morgan conducted a meandering interview in which, among other things, Elway provided enormous support for the latest crusade to undermine the Second Amendment. The Associated Press reported, “John Elway says he doesn't see why a civilian would need a military‑style rifle like the ones used in recent mass shootings but he wants to hear more about the issue.”
Did Elway simply prepare poorly for the interview and get blind-sided? To gave him an opportunity to "hear more about the issue," and possibly improve his position, I mailed the letter below to Elway at the Broncos' business address. More than a week has passed since the letter was received and receipted. There has been no response.
Dear Mr. Elway: An Associated Press report appearing yesterday in The Gazette (Colorado Springs daily) said, “John Elway says he doesn't see why a civilian would need a military‑style rifle like the ones used in recent mass shootings but he wants to hear more about the issue.” The article can be found here: http://www.gazette.com/articles/questions-150198-rifles-denver.html.
One hopes the last part of that sentence is fair. I made the same mistake when running for office in 1994, though in a private conversation with the sheriff of Los Alamos County, New Mexico rather than an interview on CNN. It didn't take the sheriff more than five minutes to straighten me out: every restriction is a step down the slippery slope, and neither you nor I should put ourselves in judgment of someone else’s enjoyment that doesn't interfere with another’s right(s).
I periodically have my [Chevrolet] TrailBlazer serviced at John Elway Chevrolet in Englewood. Corvettes are sold there. One item I found on the Internet quoted Chevrolet claiming for the 427 convertible that it will “hit 60 mph in 3.8 seconds, run a quarter-mile in 11.8 seconds and hit a top speed of 190 mph.” I believe neither the second nor third can be accomplished legally on any public road in the United States. Please apply to your own business the logic of your statement to Piers Morgan on CNN about military-style rifles, tell me who needs an automobile like that and why Chevrolet should be permitted to manufacture it and you to sell it.
Clue: many more people are killed by automobiles than by guns each year in the United States, and more than half of those killed by guns are suicides. One can argue that you are in a much more lethal business than is any gun seller. You should rethink your position with keen recognition that we live in a free country where one hopes individuals can continue to pursue whatever interests them so long as they don=t interfere with others= rights to do the same. Sincerely, s/ John H. Dendahl
I can't say with certainty that Elway or the Broncos organization hasn't said something subsequently to take the sting out of this Manna from Heaven for gun-grabbers led by President Obama. However, I did conduct an Internet search hoping to stumble onto something along that line but found nothing.
Now the Senate President in Colorado's legislature has introduced a bill that would make gun owners, sellers and manufacturers strictly liable for the death and destruction caused by military-style assault rifles. He needs to talk to Elway about, say, those ridiculously dangerous Corvettes Elway sells to people required to furnish evidence of nothing more than their signatures on big checks.
(Centennial Fellow) Former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel can, and should, be honored for his service in Vietnam. It’s not for his heroism in 1967 and 1968 the nominee for secretary of defense ought to be evaluated, however, but for his analysis of the national security situation facing the nation in 2013 and beyond.
There would seem to be practical reasons for the Senate to seriously consider withholding consent to Hagel’s appointment. His dismal and embarrassing performance during his confirmation hearing suggests he might not be up to the task of handling the defense of Fiji, let alone overseeing what remains the world’s most powerful and sophisticated military. Certainly Hagel’s endorsement of Joe Sestak and Bob Kerrey for their respective Senate seats tells us something of his knack for poor judgment.
But it’s Hagel’s positions and statements on the most pressing security related issues of today — those centering on the Middle East — the American people are most entitled to question.
For instance, his tendentious lack of support for the region’s only stable, reliably pro-western nation, Israel, will prove particularly un-helpful as Syria and North Africa continue to unravel and the Jewish state’s very existence once again comes under threat. But of the many problems smoldering away in that broiling region, the most serious by far is a nuclear Iran.
On more than one occasion Hagel has publically disavowed military action to prevent such an eventuality. Yet, were he to attain the post he seeks, a significant part of his job would be to seriously contemplate and prepare for precisely that. Of course, one can competently plan for that which he abhors. Plans for nuclear retaliation against a Soviet first strike were for years drawn up by men who fervently hoped their designs would never be implemented. But the process works only if the possibility, however remote, of its necessity is recognized. Hagel has seemingly eliminated from the bounds of consideration any thought military action against Iran might be prudent.
But it could well end up the only tolerable option, and blithely discarding the possibility is irresponsible. Iran 2013 is not Iraq 1981, when the Israelis successfully converted that country’s nuclear ambitions into a smoldering pothole. Iran’s nuclear sites are more spread out, and Israel lacks the long-range aircraft to pull off a successful round trip. Any operation would require American assets, and be of a scale that would require serious, careful planning. This ought not be left to a man who thinks the entire concept unworthy of consideration.
On several occasions, then-Senator Hagel compared America’s military venture in Iraq to Vietnam, intending to demonstrate the folly of the Bush Administration’s policy in the former. Like most such analogies, it was a political show. The distinctions between the two conflicts are considerable. There are parallels worth noting, however:
In 2007, Hagel voted to recreate in Iraq America’s biggest blunder in Southeast Asia — the abandonment of scores of people (statistics of which do not even exist to properly account for the enormity of the casualties) to torture and death — by voting against the troop surge that ultimately rescued Iraq from sharing South Vietnam’s fate.
But there’s an even more poignant similarity. In Vietnam, America’s aims were contingent in part upon recognizing distinctions between life under communism and not. In Iraq, America’s aims were contingent in part upon recognizing distinctions between life under Saddam Hussein and not.
Hagel — like President Barack Obama, John Kerry and many foreign policy liberals — fails to adequately make such distinctions. The concept of American exceptionalism is an elegantly simple one: the ideas and principles that gave form to the United States are both unique and universal.Those ideals codified in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, if applied and adhered to, would improve the lives, liberty, prosperity and happiness of people anywhere. We can’t acquiesce to the notion of national or cultural relativism — the idea that George Washington was fundamentally no better than Ho Chi Mihn, Abraham Lincoln than Fidel Castro, or Ronald Reagan (or FDR, for that matter) than Hugo Chavez or, indeed, Israel and the west than Iran.
Sen. Hagel has not gone quite that far. And his patriotism is irreproachable. But he has shown himself to be susceptible to such moral equivalence concerning the most vital security concerns of our time. That alone should be enough to disqualify one from a position whose sole responsibility is to prepare to defend an exceptional United States against those to whom such distinctions ought to apply.