jane norton

Freedom at the tipping point

(Denver Post, Apr. 18) “The British are coming,” Paul Revere’s alarm to the Massachusetts countryside on this day in 1775, conveys an urgency you don’t get from the equivalent warning of 2010, “The bankruptcy is coming.” Fact is, though, fiscal implosion threatens the aging United States of today as grimly as the redcoats threatened the newborn nation of 235 years ago. The question is whether Americans will come awake as the patriots did on that historic night, or sleepwalk into the abyss. I fear for our country, optimist that I am, because the answer is not clear. To stop blindly expanding entitlements we can’t fund and borrowing what we can’t repay, the country has to snap out of politics as usual. We need a brutally honest self-appraisal, AA-style. The Tea Party movement is doing that, but so far the old-line Democratic and Republican parties are not. America’s genius for self-correction has never been more needed.

We must save ourselves from a terminal case of debtor’s disease state by state, with Washington dragged in last. It will be Massachusetts setting a good example with Scott Brown after setting a bad one on subsidized health care. Illinois passing pension reform while California remains in denial. New Jersey’s Chris Christie stepping up as a budget-balancing governor as our own Bill Ritter whiffs.

In Colorado neither the legislative session nor the election campaign has yet risen above politics as usual. Democrats raised taxes rather than discipline spending. Republicans went for higher electric rates on dubious environmental grounds. Both settled for a bandaid on the PERA pension cancer. The House Speaker favors an ACORN election bill. Bipartisan senators plan another strike at petition rights.

Constitutional amendments initiated by the people, you see, are part of what ails Colorado in the view of some elected politicians. They want to make it twice as hard for you and me to revise our own charter of government. Such restraints on power as term limits in 1990 and tax limits in 1992 couldn’t be so readily imposed in the better future these visionaries offer us. No thanks.

In the US Senate race, meanwhile, Democratic momentum is with Andrew Romanoff, a friend of the big unions that worsen our fiscal and economic woes, and the Republican field is led by Jane Norton, who supported the easy-spending Referendum C back in 2005, sugar for Colorado’s budgetary diabetes. The Democrats’ likely nominee for governor, Mayor Hickenlooper, is an habitual taxer, yet his opponent Scott McInnis won’t sign a no-tax pledge. Come on, friends, pick it up a notch.

My colleague Richard Bishirjian of Yorktown University contends that part of the problem in Colorado is a “brain drain” due to term limits. The deficit I see isn’t brains but backbone – a spine decline. We’re in danger of being systemically corrupted as a whole people, as the Independence Institute’s Dennis Polhill put it.

Today’s imperative – sober up and man up, or the Chinese will own us – is less galvanizing than a midnight cry to wake up or King George will tyrannize us. But make no mistake, freedom is again at a tipping point. The ascent from bondage to faith to courage to liberty to abundance, traced by historian Alexander Tytler in the 1770s, tilts quickly from abundance to complacency to apathy to dependency, returning then to bondage. Ask yourself where we are on that scale.

The balance our Founders sought, wrote James Madison, was to “first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” Two centuries on, badly under Bush and still worse under Obama, Americans are getting little of the one and way too much of the other. We have to turn this around. Will 2010 be the year?

Long road to November

(Denver Post, Mar. 21) Political inexperience was the gold standard among 30 of my neighbors at a precinct caucus in Centennial last week. Fellow Republicans viewed the 2010 contenders for senator and governor with the hard eyes of swindle victims or jilted lovers. The less involved a candidate had been with our party’s time in state and national office over the past dozen years, the more acceptable he or she seemed for nomination this year. Caucus night in March was only the first step on a long road to election night in November, 225 days from now. But it dramatized the “once burned, twice shy” distrust of government that will shape the choices made by Colorado voters in GOP, Democratic, and independent ranks. Trust when broken is hard to restore. That’s the penalty box our whole political system is in right now. Unpredictable new forces are in play as this campaign unfolds. The Tuesday meeting at a school library near our house was older, white, and mostly men. Rainbow America we were not, but we gathered with a love for this land of liberty and a desire to make a difference. Before things started, there was laughter and applause when someone pointed to a presidential book display featuring Barack Obama and George Washington and quipped, “The goal is a government with less of him and more of HIM.”

In the precinct straw poll for a nominee to regain the US Senate seat from Democrats Michael Bennet or Andrew Romanoff, Sedalia businessman and former state Sen. Tom Wiens took 40%, followed by former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton with 37% and district attorney Ken Buck with 23%. In the trial heat for governor, Evergreen businessman and rookie candidate Dan Maes got a notable 44%, trailing former congressman Scott McInnis, the prohibitive favorite, who had 56%.

Our tiny sample largely tracked the statewide Republican tallies, though it was Ken Buck who ran close with Jane Norton in the overall count. More striking to me than the percentages was the mood in the room. A burly guy named Larry spoke for many with his warnings of the tax-and-spend taint attaching to an ex-congressman and an ex- lieutenant governor. Countering him with the case for McInnis and Norton was the more youthful and smooth-spoken Cole, but you could see many skeptical frowns.

I’m uncommitted in both races, and cast a secret ballot that night. Any of the GOP contenders, whatever their shortcomings or the party’s past lapses, would obviously work harder for limited government – the imperative right now, before our country goes bankrupt – than would a Sen. Bennet, a Sen. Romanoff, or a Gov. John Hickenlooper as liberal Democrats. That’s why my party must not self-immolate in the 2010 primary as we did in the 2006 gubernatorial bloodbath. The prize is November.

Dems actually face a tougher task with this year’s fed-up electorate than my side does. Their Colorado ticket will be a pair of entitlement-peddling, union-bought insiders by whatever names. Our nominees can definitely take outside position against that. Whether Republicans are ready to use power more responsibly this time, if trusted with it again, is another question. Bluntly acknowledging that question would be a good start; frontrunners take note.

Nothing can be taken for granted. Lent is a far piece from Halloween. What if an autumn house of horrors found America at war with Iran? The incumbent party might benefit decisively from a rally to the flag. Half a year is an eternity in politics, we’ve learned again and again.

“I’m giving the Republicans one more chance,” Doug told our caucus. Bitterly disillusioned by McCain after 2008, he’s back as a delegate this spring. As buyers’ remorse with Obama deepens, will voters similarly gamble and grant the GOP a do-over?

Bennet & Obama: Misery Loves Company

It's either pathetic or funny to see Sen. Michael Bennet desperately embracing President Obama for a Feb. 18 campaign event in Denver. (Read his manager's breathless email below.) The two out-of-touch liberal incumbents, each dropping like a rock, must hope they can defy gravity by holding hands. Bennet just fell further behind GOP front-runner Jane Norton, now trailing her by 14 points in the Rasmussen poll. Worse, his underfunded primary challenger Andrew Romanoff is only 7 points down to Norton in the same poll.

After Obama's impotence in campaigning for Dems in VA, NJ, and MA the past 100 days, what can he do in CO but make things worse for Bennet anyway?

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Thanks again for your support during this campaign, and I hope you'll be able to join us on February 18 for this great event.

Sincerely, Craig Hughes Campaign Manager Bennet for Colorado

Why won't GOP call jihad by name?

David Petteys of Act for America, Denver chapter, and Michael Del Rosso of the Claremont Institute recently compared notes on the strange reluctance of Republicans running for office to identify our jihadist enemy in plain language. Here is their exchange: PETTEYS: Our friend Michael Del Rosso recommended that the following question be asked of every candidate: “In your opinion, what is the greatest threat to our country and what would you do about it?”

Recently I had the opportunity to actually ask this question of Jane Norton, the front running GOP Senatorial candidate here in Colorado. I am happy to say her response was this:

“Islamic Terrorism, and we need to get over this idea that the rights of terrorists have priority over the lives of American citizens.”

Although I would prefer the term “Islamic Jihad” as opposed to Terrorism, it is a step forward. Certainly preferable to the answer you’d get from most Democrats who would talking needing to "save the planet from climate catastrophe by cracking down on the evil oil companies”.

I’m also happy to report my Congressman Mike Coffman’s office notified me today that he was joining Sue Myrick of North Carolina’s “Counter Terrorism Caucus” as a result of my suggestion.

DEL ROSSO: Dave, I would NOT accept Terrorism as an answer from this candidate.

A couple of weeks ago I put the following query to three of the seven Republican candidates attempting to reclaim Virginia's 5th District US House of Representatives seat for the GOP: "America has been in a shooting war for over 8 years with over 5,000 KIA, tens of thousands wounded, and a trillion dollars spent, with no end in sight. Who is our Enemy, what is their Doctrine, and what is their Objective?" Each time the exchange went generally this way:

Candidate: “We’re fighting Terrorists.”

Me: That makes as much sense as saying “Our Enemy is Tanks.” Terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy.

Candidate: “We’re fighting Muslim Extremists.”

Me: “How do you know their Extremists? How do you know they are not actual Mainstream Muslims?”

Encountering a bewildered look and no response I further asked “Have you ever read the Quran? Any book on Islamic jurisprudence and doctrines? Have you read the 9-11 Report?”

Every time, the candidate's answers to all three were “No.”

So I informed each of them: “You just admitted that you have no basis in fact, you have no knowledge, in making any claim about who are enemies are. How can you presume to ask me to vote for you to be my Representative when you have not even taken the trouble to identify our enemy 8 years into a war?”