October 18, 2010

Mothers, it's Time to Get MAD

Why wouldn't you be? Our government is spending trillions of dollars and expects your children and grandchildren to pay for it.

Our politicians may not admit this, as their assertion is that it's actually for the children. But the American people and moms in particular are beginning to understand that this mantra is not only wrong, but morally bankrupt.

So what can we do about it?

Plenty. We can start by becoming better educated on the issues, so that we may discuss them with others in a logical and coherent manner.  We musn't stop promoting the principles of freedom just because the election is over, no sir! It is when our ballots are cast and new members (hopefully) are chosen that the true test of our spirit begins. It behooves us to keep a watchful eye on government at all times, no matter friend or foe. And to do that, we must stay connected - to keep each other motivated, informed and in good spirits! So if you haven't already, find a Liberty on the Rocks near you (don't have one? Start your own!) and get to know other freedom-minded thinkers in your community!

To begin your educational journey in becoming an expert on the issues of free enterprise, individual liberties and constitutional government, let me recommend the following video from Mothers Against Debt. It's packed with informative examples of wasteful government expenditures that you can share with your friends and family. And did I mention that it's only a minute and a half? Check it out!

Video: Mothers Against Debt: Public Service Announcement


October 13, 2010

The Cyberbullying of Gay Youth

By Julian Dunraven, J.D., M.P.A.

Honorable Friends:

By now, most of you have heard the sad story of Tyler Clementi. He was that unfortunate freshman at Rutgers University whose sexual encounter with another man was secretly filmed by his dorm roommate and live streamed over the internet. Mr. Clementi then committed suicide by jumping of the George Washington Bridge, having first posted his plans to his Facebook page. The incident captured the attention of the national press, which has since worked diligently to highlight much of the bullying gay youth endure daily.

The Denver Post is no exception. In yesterday’s front page story, “Young, Gay, Bullied,” the Post focused on the high rates of depression and suicide among young gay students who are bullied by or isolated from their peers. Of particular interest is the relatively recent phenomenon of cyberbullying through blogs, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and other online sources. The Post cited several methods of addressing this problem, ranging from additional tolerance education and awareness programs to school administrative punishments to new legislation criminalizing cyberbullying. Such legalistic outcomes, however, would render an already tragic situation truly ghastly.

Do not mistake me. I truly do understand the problem and I do not doubt the plight of these young gay people. During my own time in high school, I was careful not to reveal my bisexuality to more than a handful of trusted friends. I was well liked, and had no desire to sacrifice social status to an identity which would have rendered me an instant pariah. Still, there were always rumors, inevitable suspicions, and occasional confrontations. Some of that was decidedly unpleasant. I was lucky, though. Those friends who did know accepted it without question. Many others would not have cared even if I had told them. And to my family it was a non issue. Not everyone is so fortunate.

Unlike other minority groups, gay students have no natural support network; their parents and siblings are generally straight. Often, families not only have difficulty relating to the problems faced by gay youth, they also actively disapprove of homosexuality. Peers, faced with overwhelming pressure to fit in, will often disassociate from gay students for fear of being labeled with the f- word themselves. Gay people faced with any one of these situations can and do feel incredible isolation and depression. That much is undisputed. Debates among scholars and theologians regarding the causes, nature, and morality of human sexuality, however, can fill volumes. It is not something to be addressed here at the Peoples Press Collective, which limits its scope to issues dealing with individual liberty, the free market, and limited government. Unfortunately, whatever one may think of their intent, many of the proposals listed by the Post to address the cyberbullying faced by young gay people negatively impact all three of those topics.

Focus on the Family correctly points out the danger to the marketplace of ideas and free religious expression with mandatory school programs and penalties specifically tailored to promote tolerance for homosexuality. Many mainstream religious traditions regard homosexual acts as mortal sins. For any public school administration or law to step in to enforce toleration and acceptance of homosexuality would usurp the province of religion to define virtue and thus violate one of the most cherished aspects of the first amendment. According to the Post, Focus on the Family instead would like to see bullying policies that protect all students against all forms of bullying for any reason. Even this, however, goes too far.

Apparently, our society has gotten to the point where at least some believe it is no longer acceptable to make gay people feel excluded or unwanted. Well and good. After all, gay marriage and civil unions are increasingly recognized in the various states and nations of the world. What about stoners though? I recall those semi-dazed individuals who would languish behind the main building of my high school, quietly smoking their marijuana while the rest of us went to class. Many students shunned them and sneered at the foul reek that hung about them. Yet, smoking marijuana for medicinal reasons is now legal in Colorado. California may soon legalize it for any reason. Should we now prohibit any exclusion or derision of such drug use? And what of students who espouse a belief in the doctrines of Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany, or the KKK? Such beliefs are certainly legal. However, at my high school, anyone who publicly stated such beliefs quickly found themselves without a single friend and excluded from all social functions by their peers. Should such exclusion and public derision be prohibited? I think not.

The first amendment also protects the freedom of expressive association. We can choose with whom to associate. We are also free to state the beliefs and values that hold such associations together and exclude and disapprove of those who refuse to meet those values. Sports and athletics are perhaps the most obvious examples of this. While participation is voluntary, you must accept the rules in order to be included. Failure to play by those rules results in censure and exclusion. Though other human associations may not be so clear about their rules, the basic idea is the same. Politicians soon find themselves excluded from their own parties if they take positions in conflict with the party platform. Dinner guests, likewise, do not often receive a second invitation if they forgo the use of any utensils or decorum. Indeed, such behavior, if it becomes publicly known, can even cause a person to lose his employment.

While most of us appreciate our freedom of association, few people acknowledge the importance of disassociation and publicly expressed disapproval. While exclusion does make people feel terrible, it is the best tool we have to regulate social norms and values in a free society. In this way, everyone is free to choose their own social circles, promote the values which are important to them, and exclude those who do not share such values. The only alternative is to have a governmental authority dictate all values and associations. That is completely unacceptable—but it seems many people are calling for exactly that in an effort to address cyberbullying.

Obviously, any responsible school should have reasonable policies prohibiting bullying on its grounds. Name calling and similar behavior is not only rude, it is disruptive to the educational process and should be sharply corrected. In the event of a physical altercation, the law, in addition to any school policy, can bring severe penalties to the aggressor, though all people have a right to defend themselves and others. However, when school policy or legislation extends beyond the school grounds and classrooms into the social lives and online interactions of students, problems arise.

Unless an overt physical threat is expressed, cyberbullying, while often cruel and rude, is often no more than disdainful speech. Any attempt to limit it can run afoul of the first amendment. It has other unpleasant consequences as well.

By interfering in the social lives and expressions of youth, such policies take away any opportunity students may have to express and enforce their own values, and places that responsibility solely on a governmental authority. The proper response to a bully who is rudely or inappropriately deriding a friend in speech or in any online forum is to exclude the bully from social life. Conversely, if someone expresses legitimate condemnation of unacceptable behavior, the object of such condemnation should be excluded. In this way, students learn to stand up for their own values and regulate their own behaviors. It does wonders for their sense of self worth as well. When the state or school authority criminalizes such behavior and usurps all power to regulate associations and interactions, it teaches our youth to rely not upon themselves and their friends to solve problems, but on official authority. In later life, that produces well trained sheep without any self esteem who follow their employers without question and who expect governmental authority, not individual innovation, to solve all of their problems for them. That is not how a free people should live. That is how slaves and serfs live.

Every time law intrudes into the province of etiquette, these problems arise. As a lawyer, I know it for absolute truth that law is seldom the best solution to any given problem. It is vital to remember that the authority of law ultimately issues from the barrel of a gun. Law is force. It takes away any choice or option and imposes a permanent directive which must be followed lest one lose property, liberty, or even life. Etiquette, on the other hand, is wholly consensual, dynamic, and continually adaptable. Merely by exercising our right to associate and disassociate as we see fit, we express and enforce the values which we want to guide our individual lives.

At times, we will all face situations in which we are rudely or perhaps even unjustly excluded and demeaned by those who do not share our values. Certainly, young gay students face this more often than most, and I have the greatest sympathy for them and what they endure. The solution, however, is not to call for the school authorities or state legislature to enforce tolerance and acceptance of homosexuality, or whatever the case may be, upon everyone else.

Any victim of such ridicule should instead seek out a group of peers who share his values and stand ready to defend them and one another. Other students should express their own support of such individuals while publicly censuring and excluding anyone they believe is behaving rudely or inappropriately toward another individual. As families, friends, and community members, we should be encouraging our youth to express and defend our values. When we see others attacked for values we share, we should live by example and speak out in their defense, censuring and excluding bullies from our own social circles and networks. In this way, free people constantly foster and defend the values they live by—not by law, force, and compliance—but by individual choice, responsibility, and virtue. Moreover, unlike law, which imposes one standard on everyone, etiquette leaves each person free to find their own group of like minded individuals.

Having experienced the hardships bullies can impose first hand, I understand the deep desire people have to protect their children from enduring similar circumstances. As a current practitioner of corporate law with its stringent demands for professionalism, I abhor rudeness of any sort. Here at the PPC, we even created the “Political Breath” page to address issues of etiquette in political activism. However, much as I despise bullying and rudeness, I am unwilling to sacrifice my freedoms for the illusion of acceptance. Government cannot legislate social inclusion. It cannot grant self esteem. It cannot force virtue into human hearts. Only individuals have that power, and as individuals we must take the responsibility to do so.

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July 29, 2010

Norton Attack Ad Improperly Taken From People’s Press Collective Video

By Julian Dunraven

Honorable Friends:

This morning, Eileen Mahony, D.C. Bureau Chief for the People’s Press Collective, put up a very amusing piece about how the Norton campaign borrowed rather liberally from PPC to produce their latest attack ad against Ken Buck. Well, borrowed might not be quite accurate. Given that they took video from PPC, edited it to remove the PPC copyright notices, cropped the size of the video to remove the PPC title bar, and then added it to their ad without any citation to PPC whatsoever, some might even call that stealing. Unfortunately, that seems to be the theme of this election.

Judging from the comments in Ms. Mahony’s post, some have mistakenly assumed PPC is favoring Ken Buck in the primary. This is not true. PPC does not endorse in primary elections. However, its members do tend to object when campaigns try to steal their material. It seems they have objected rather strenuously too. PPC has provided access to a series of documents detailing this matter, including the PPC cease and desist letter to the Jane Norton campaign, the Norton campaign’s response, and PPC’s reiteration of its cease and desist demands.

As one of the PPC commentators has already suggested, this incident reveals a disturbing and lack of character in the Norton campaign. Not only did the campaign grossly distort Buck’s words in its ad, it took material from the PPC without permission or even attribution to do so. The PPC’s final letter to the Norton campaign asks, “If even allies of the campaign cannot depend upon it for fair dealing, how is the rest of the state supposed to trust it?” That is a question I think many of us will be considering.

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July 18, 2010

7th Congressional District Primary Enters Final Stretch

**Update from Sias campaign spokesman Sean Walsh:
"We’re hard-charging into the homestretch--Lang is energetic and upbeat . . . the momentum shift that started two months ago continues – Lang handily won the only straw poll held May 17; he came within 17 votes of top line at the May 20 Convention; we’ve received over $10,000 from donors who previously donated to our opponent; our latest fundraising quarter was our best one yet (our opponent was $50,000 short of his previous quarterly mark); in two televised debates Lang demonstrated a greater command of the issues, he’s far better prepared to lead – and he’s the only candidate in this race who will beat career politician Ed Perlmutter. And let’s not forget - Lang has achieved it all despite jumping into the race six months after our opponent – and being outspent nearly 5 to 1. Lang is heading a truly grassroots campaign that has shocked the pundits, the donors and the Colorado GOP establishment.

This isn’t just spin from the campaign manager. It’s all verifiable, relevant and part of the public record. Any 7th CD Republican who is reading this should avail themselves of both debates before voting next week – available for viewing on the Channel 9 KUSA and Channel 4 KCNC websites."
Walsh added that Sias was determined to beat Rep. Ed Perlmutter, regardless of who voters decided to put on the November ballot:
"If Councilman Frazier wins our party’s nomination for this seat, the first person who congratulates and endorses him will be Lang Sias. This race has never been about Lang or any other single person involved in the Republican Party – it’s about winning back this seat for the GOP. Whether as a candidate or in a supportive role, Lang Sias will continue to fight to defeat Ed Perlmutter."

With primary ballots set to hit mailboxes early next week, Republican voters in Denver's suburban 7th Congressional District are getting their last opportunities to learn about Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier and aviator and Top Gun instructor Lang Sias.

"I feel good about where we're at. We've knocked on 33,000 doors to date, made 40,000 phone calls and have been joined by over 2,000 volunteers. The grassroots support has really pulled together, and we're on the right track for August 10," said Frazier.

In three weeks, however, only one of the two men will be the Republican nominee squaring off against Democratic Representative Ed Perlmutter, who won his 2006 and 2008 contests handily.

"Whoever comes out of the race as the Republican nominee needs support, and I am committed to supporting and uniting to win back the 7th Congressional District," Frazier explained, "but I expect to win."

Frazier was attending Saturday's Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Party, hosted annually by the Independence Institute.

Sias' campaign could not be immediately reached for comment.

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels profiled Frazier and Sias earlier this weekend.

9NEWS political reporter Adam Schrager hosted both candidates on "Your Show" this week:



July 17, 2010

Buck Responds to Norton Ad: "She Has Questioned My Manhood"

"You'd think Ken would be man enough to do it himself"--Jane Norton, from her new TV ad

"Why should you vote for me? Because I do not wear high heels. She has questioned my manhood, I think it's fair to respond"--Ken Buck, referencing the Norton ad

Jane Norton's newest ad calls out her opponent and takes aim at the "shady interest group doing the bidding of Ken Buck", Americans for Job Security, that has poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Colorado Senate race on Buck's behalf:

On Saturday at the Independence Institute's Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Party, Ken Buck responded to the Norton ad:

Buck took the shoe analogy one step further speaking, ahem, metaphorically about the state of politics in our nation's capital:
"I have cowboy boots. They have real bullsh** on them. That's Weld County bullsh**, not Washington DC bullsh**."
With a hotly contested primary still three weeks away, it is certain Colorado Republicans haven't heard the last of the two candidates exchanging "pleasantries" in their TV ads or on the campaign trail.

And that's no bull.



July 16, 2010

Threat of McInnis Plagiarism Scandal Extends Beyond Gubernatorial Race

"I’m not getting out of this. They are bullying the wrong guy. I love the fight''--Scott McInnis to The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels

The political ramifications of the plagiarism charges against GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis that came to light earlier in the week have begun to build as the results of new polls, mounting denunciations in state news editorials (including his hometown paper), and criticism from fellow politicians demonstrates a move to abandon the erstwhile Republican frontrunner.

Following perceptions that McInnis badly mishandled the self-described "mistake", which he initially called a politically motivated charge and a "non-issue", the former congressman subsequently appeared to exacerbate his difficulties when his attempts to lay blame for the omitted attributions to a 20-year-old article on water rights on his 82-year-old former research assistant were accompanied by a letter that McInnis hoped would absolve him of responsibility for the alleged plagiarism. Rolly Fischer refused to sign the exculpatory letter admitting any blame, calling McInnis a liar.

Even ameliorating evidence in a second purported incident of plagiarism, this time involving a Washington Post column and its subsequent use by McInnis in his own op-ed and House floor speech, did little to mitigate the furor over the earlier allegations.

McInnis even drew comparisons to disgraced former CU Ethnic Studies Professor Ward Churchill from two Democratic CU Regents who voted for the professor's removal in 2007 after a faculty panel had moved for dismissal. Public officials, according to former Rocky Mountain News Editor John Temple, should not be held to different standards from other professionals when it comes to the issue of plagiarism.

The Hasan Family Foundation called for an investigation into the allegations of plagiarism leveled at McInnis earlier in the week over the 150 pages of water-related "issue papers" he had written as part of a foundation fellowship for which he was paid a hefty $300,000 sum. In a press release issued earlier today, the organization called on McInnis to repay the fellowship fees in full:
It is the finding of the Hasan Family Foundation Board that the work Congressman Scott McInnis performed under the Senior Fellowship was only a fraction of the work he was obligated to perform under the terms of his Fellowship. Of the little work that he did, he has admitted it was neither fully completed by him, nor fully original. In view of the public disclosure by Mr. McInnis as well as by Mr. Rolly Fischer, it is clear that Mr. McInnis has not fulfilled the terms of our agreement, and there is no need for any further investigation by the Foundation.

The Foundation demands he repay all monies paid to him under the Fellowship. The Foundation shall be making no further comment on the matter and will immediately return its full attention to the worthy causes it proudly funds and oversees.

Dr. Aliya Hasan, in an interview on KHOW's Caplis and Silverman show earlier today, indicated that the Foundation's intent was to offer McInnis a competitive, full-time fellowship. McInnis quickly responded, promising complete reimbursement:
"I have said since this matter was brought to my attention that the articles provided as part of the Hasan Family Foundation fellowship were faulty. I explained how this problem arose, and I accepted responsibility.

"I apologized to the Hasans for this mistake, and I expressed my determination to make it right with my dear friends. I will be in contact with the Hasan family to make full payment arrangements. I agree with the Foundation that this brings this matter to a close, and I look forward to continuing to speak on the campaign trail about the critical issues facing all of Colorado, including jobs and economic recovery."

The matter, however, is far from coming to a close.

Canceled appearances on Thursday in Erie and Friday at a prominent fundraising dinner for Denver and Arapahoe counties featuring Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty have also set tongues wagging, coming on the heels of snap polls indicating the McInnis campaign hemorrhaging support as those surveyed showed eroding confidence in their preferred candidate and, more importantly, from voters in both registered Republicans and "likely voters" categories.

Calls to McInnis spokesperson Josh Green about other possible canceled appearances by the campaign in coming days went unanswered.

In both polls, each conducted Thursday, numbers show a staggering loss of support for the embattled Republican. Sixty-four percent of registered Republicans in the Denver Post/SurveyUSA poll who claimed to back McInnis before the plagiarism row indicate a willingness to leave their top choice for an alternative list of speculative GOP gubernatorial replacements, including former Congressman and conservative firebrand Tom Tancredo, current US Senate candidate and former Colorado Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton, outgoing State Senate Minority Leader and former gubernatorial candidate Josh Penry (who is currently the campaign manager for Norton's senatorial bid), and current University of Colorado President and failed former Colorado gubernatorial candidate (1994) Bruce Benson. Only when asked if they would switch to "another candidate"--ostensibly the other name on the already-printed August 10 primary ballots, businessman Dan Maes--did McInnis appear to hold some ground. Overall, 37 percent believed that McInnis should simply drop out of the race, with just under half urging him to soldier on to the primary.

The Western Slope Republican also retains a measure of strong support in his base centered around Grand Junction.

In head-to-head polling with Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper, however, the effects of this week's news is clear. According to Rasmussen, the Denver Mayor has retaken a narrow two point lead (45-43) among "likely voters" for the first time since his post-announcement bounce in February, when current Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter announced his retirement and Hickenlooper's entry cleared the Democratic field.

Pollster.com's Colorado Governor tracking poll

On a more critical front, the McInnis "inner" exodus begins, as members of McInnis' campaign bail on the reeling gubernatorial candidate:
Three key staffers for Republican Scott McInnis quit Friday after a week of plagiarism allegations and accusations of campaign mismanagement battered their boss.

Policy director Mac Zimmerman, political director Dustin Zvonek and regional director T.Q. Houlton packed up and left, according to sources close to McInnis’ gubernatorial campaign.

The disaffected staffers "can no longer defend" the actions of McInnis:
"The turning point in the campaign was the interview with Rolly Fischer," the source said. "Jaws dropped. They couldn't believe Scott tried to pin it on him … It was game, set, match. It was a crusher."

In the meantime, possible scenarios to replace the battered Mcinnis and even his primary rival Maes abound on blogs (also here and  here), in the media, and in the highest echelons of the party. Colorado GOP Chair Dick Wadhams sought to quell questions about possible write-in candidates, vacancy committees, and candidate race-switching, assuring that the primary process had produced two certified candidates, and that the Republican primary voters would have the final decision.

In a video from KDVR Fox 31, calls for McInnis to drop out immediately for the good of the party came from Tancredo, whose name has been widely bandied about as a possible replacement and has given the clear impression of a willingness to run, even as an independent (and who was the subject of much speculation himself last fall when Penry unexpectedly dropped out of the race).

While rumors that the Republican Governor's Association had decided to pull out of Colorado over the plagiarism flap were hastily denied by the group, the Colorado GOP meltdown turned attention to the ongoing US Senate primary for possible replacements. US Senate candidates Ken Buck and Norton remained relatively mum on the subject, saying the decision was in McInnis' hands, and their respective focuses remained on their tough primary battle.

Rampant speculation aside, replacing a candidate (or two, should Maes decide to stay in) with a vacancy committee could be difficult under state law:
The process of trying to get a new candidate is procedurally complicated. First, the Aug. 10 primary ballots are printed and go out by mail Monday. Forty-six of the state's 64 counties are holding all-mail elections. Second, state law is unclear. On its face, it appears to prohibit another candidate getting in the race unless both Maes and McInnis drop out. In that case, a Republican vacancy committee would appoint the nominee.

But Rich Coolidge, spokesman for the Colorado secretary of state, said his office was researching whether it was possible for a committee to replace a second candidate if someone drops out. He expected an answer in the next day or two.

In either situation, there is a strong likelihood that ballots will already be in the hands of voters. It's unclear how votes for a new candidate would be cast.

Even Secretary of State Bernie Buescher (D) declined to issue a "hypothetical" opinion on candidate replacement in a primary race.

Republican activist Nikki Mata, founder of R Block Party, noted that several Tea Party and 9/12 groups had already begun to discuss how much input grassroots conservatives might be able to confer should a vacancy committee become a reality, and possible defections should the process be mishandled:
"In the state where Tea Party and grassroots involvement is the highest in the nation, to go ahead and conduct a closed-doors meeting without outside input and anoint a replacement candidate would essentially amount to political suicide for the party. There is already talk of going to a third party if this happens."

She pointed to the outrage amongst grassroots conservatives last December when a McInnis interview with Neil Cavuto on Fox News dubbed him the "Tea Party candidate" following what appeared to be an establishment-backed clearing of the field as Penry hastily exited the governor's race.

Northern Colorado Tea Party organizer Lesley Hollywood agreed that the political fallout could be disastrous should the Republican party turn a deaf ear:
"If the situation arises where a new nominee will need to be chosen, the Colorado Republican Party needs to tread very carefully. In the year of the Tea Party; the year where one in three Colorado voters belongs to a Tea Party or similar organization; the year in which the energized "base" is not coming from within the GOP, but the pro-liberty movement sweeping the state; it's important for the establishment to bring the grassroots voices to the table.

The ramifications of anything less could be devestating to the gubernatorial race and the 2010 election. Some may lean toward a third party candidate, such as Benjamin Goss of the Constitutionalist Party. There is also the likely possibility of voter revolt, with many choosing to rebel against the establishment choice by not voting at all. And of course, the public outrage could be incredibly damaging to the Republican Party image as a whole."



July 14, 2010

Plagiarism Renders Scott McInnis Unfit to Practice Law or Govern

By Julian Dunraven, J.D. M.P.A.

Honorable Friends:

Yesterday’s Denver Post reported that Scott McInnis plagiarized the work of Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs in articles McInnis drafted for the Hasan Family Foundation. The foundation paid McInnis $300,000 for these articles.

After the story broke, Mr. McInnis blamed a researcher for the problem and claimed in his own press release that the plagiarism was unintentional. This is rubbish.

Mr. McInnis is certainly familiar with academic and professional writing standards; he is a doctor of law, after all. Thus, he should know he has an obligation to review any material submitted by a research assistant. However, he should also know that, if he intends to use whole pages of text submitted by his research assistant, then he has a responsibility to list the research assistant as a minor coauthor and cite his contributions. Mr. McInnis failed to do either of these things. Instead, he claims he took whole passages of text, supposedly submitted by an assistant, added them to his article, and represented it all as original and finished work, but somehow did so unintentionally. In order to believe such acts can be accomplished unintentionally, we have to believe that Mr. McInnis was not in control of his own body or mind. Perhaps he was possessed at the time. Otherwise, he is lying. Which do you suppose is more likely?

Plagiarism represents the height of intellectual dishonesty and reveals a complete lack of academic integrity. Not so long ago, virtually all conservatives and most liberals agreed that a similar lack of academic integrity rendered Ward Churchill unfit to teach at a university. I cannot now find any ethical way to apply a lesser standard to a man who seeks, not simply to lecture a few dozen students in a classroom, but to govern the entire state of Colorado.

During law school, I sat on the faculty’s academic affairs committee as a student member. During one of our meetings, we discussed what to do about a few students who had indulged in plagiarism. The guilty students put up the same defense McInnis now offers. They claimed they did not fully understand that they were plagiarizing and that it was all unintentional.

I had no sympathy for such excuses. The idea that anyone can get into a top tier law school like the University of Colorado and not understand plagiarism is absurd. Thus, I recommended immediate expulsion for these students. The professors, however, did not want to appear unmerciful. They simply gave the students failing grades in the classes in which they were caught plagiarizing. The law school then forwarded a report of the incidents to the Colorado Supreme Court’s Board of Law Examiners, detailing the penalties discussed and imposed. The Board of Law Examiners, however, agreed with me. None of these students were permitted to sit for the Bar Examination—they were not permitted to become practicing attorneys.

Already a practicing attorney, McInnis cannot be prevented from taking the bar exam. Nonetheless, I strongly suspect that the Colorado Supreme Court will soon review McInnis’ actions and sanction him for violating Rule 8.4 of the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct. Anyone seeking to file a complaint about McInnis’ conduct should contact the Attorney Regulation Counsel.

Plagiarism renders a person unfit to teach at a university because academic dishonesty undermines trust in all legitimate scholarship. Plagiarism renders a person unfit to practice law because a person who would lie about a mere academic paper cannot hope to be trusted with protecting both the finances and liberties of his clients—not to mention the integrity of the justice system. The temptation to lie becomes too severe for such an unprincipled person. Yet, neither a professor nor any individual lawyer holds such public trust as a governor of a state.

The Tea Party movement, in its call for accountability in our public servants, reminds us that this issue of trustworthiness is of paramount importance today. The Republican Party is laudably attempting to address these concerns and redeem its past mistakes by demanding responsible limited government always accountable to the people. Mr. McInnis, however, has dishonored himself and proven totally unworthy of the people’s trust. Yet he has the audacity to ask the Republican Party to nominate him as its candidate for governor. After the Republican fury over Ward Churchill, nominating McInnis would be the height of hypocrisy and further alienate already disillusioned voters and Tea Party activists.

For these reasons, I must regrettably join in the call for Mr. McInnis to withdraw from the gubernatorial race in order to spare himself and our Party from further embarrassment. At this point, no ethical Republican could vote for him without shame or with any expectation of reform in government as usual. If plagiarism demonstrates such unprincipled character as to make a man unfit to teach and an attorney unfit to practice law, then it should certainly render a candidate unfit to be the governor of Colorado.

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June 20, 2010


May 14, 2010

No Economic Recovery; Prepare For Inflationary “Meltup”

By Julian Dunraven, J.D., M.P.A.

Honorable Friends:

Your government is lying to you. We are not in economic recovery. We are merely experiencing a cash bubble through printing—inflation—and every day that bubble is in greater danger of bursting. When it does, the American people will face national bankruptcy.

The following video comes to me on the recommendation of Gerald Celente, director of the Trends Research Institute, and The Trends Journal. For those of you who have not already subscribed to his journal, he is one of the best economic forecasters in the world.

To my friends in the Tea Party, this is why you are marching. Simply getting Republicans elected will not be enough to save this nation from economic collapse. Any politician, Democrat or Republican, who does not understand what is in this video must go.

In addition to Mr. Celente, this documentary, "Meltup," features some of the best economic experts available including:

  • Peter Schiff, Austrian School economist, bestselling author of Crash Proof, owner of Euro Pacific Capital, former economic advisor to Ron Paul, and current candidate for U.S. Senate in Connecticut
  • Dr. Ron Paul, Congressman from Texas , former presidential Candidate, bestselling author and voice of the Austrian School economists on Capitol Hill
  • Marc Faber, renowned Austrian School economist.
  • Jim Rogers, investor, author, and financial commentator
  • Tom Woods, historian, bestselling author, and senior fellow at the Ludwig von Mises Institute.
  • And several others.

The National Inflation Association has done a fine job in producing "Meltup." Our liquid fuels crisis, the manipulations and fraud in the precious metals markets, the debt problems and the looming threat of dollar collapse through inflation are all covered in detail. As Celente points out, we are on the verge of the second American Revolution. This video will give you a better understanding of what we face, and what the Tea Party and its supporters MUST achieve if it is to be successful.

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May 13, 2010

Chatting with Tom Wiens: Colorado Republican Candidate for U.S. Senate

By Julian Dunraven, J.D., M.P.A.

Honorable Friends:

Thanks to profligate spending policies, bailouts, stimulus packages, and unprecedented extensions of Federal power, I have a good deal of confidence that Democrats will suffer many defeats in the upcoming elections. I just wish I felt equally confident that the Republicans who replace them will do much better. Unfortunately, after chatting briefly with various candidates in the last few forums, I often had the impression that I was talking to some sort of annoying animatronic devices which, upon sensing motion, would begin to recite a list of talking points: “Drill, baby drill,” “All of the above,” “No more bailouts,” and “I’m against stimulus.” Any questions seeking more information about these subjects just triggered another recitation. If this is the depth of understanding we can expect from politicians, is it any wonder why even many Republicans in Congress voted for the so called Jobs bill—a stimulus by another name? Our Republican candidates have all figured out that they should oppose bailouts and stimulus packages, but if the only way they can recognize a bailout or stimulus bill is if it says so in the title, then we are all in a great deal of trouble.

In chatting with the various people vying for the Republican nomination to be the next U.S. Senator, I was impressed by the enthusiasm and decency of the candidates, but not by their grasp of the fundamental economic issues this country must face. I was almost ready to despair over the state of Colorado politics . . . until I overheard Tom Wiens answering a question about the gold market and displaying a depth of economic understanding I have almost never seen in a politician. I immediately requested an interview and, last week, he was kind enough to sit down with me for an hour and a half to chat about the state of the nation.

Now, I did not bring the PPC film crew to this interview; I did not even bring a voice recorder. I was not interested in sound bites or talking points. I was only interested to know what made Mr. Wiens any different from any other Republican candidate, and why anyone should trust him at all given the abysmal job Republicans have done so far in their half-hearted attempts to support limited government and a free market. Mr. Wiens exceeded all of my expectations and left me thoroughly impressed.

The difference in experience between Mr. Wiens and his fellow GOP contenders is fairly obvious. While his major competitors have spent virtually their entire careers in the public sector, Mr. Wiens, by contrast, has a strong background in the private sector as a Colorado banker, rancher, and entrepreneur. Thus, he knows the costs increased regulation and taxation place on small businesses – not just in money – but also in time and effort.

Of course, these days a strong business background is not always a great recommendation for politicians. Our federal government is absolutely full of private sector businessmen who seem all too happy to use the power of government to influence various industries. Many commentators have noted the unprecedented influence of former Goldman Sachs executives in the Bush and Obama administrations, and with the Federal Reserve. The American people are rightly angry that Wall Street so often persuades Congress to offer advantages to some businesses and industries over others.

Mr. Wiens certainly understands this. Rather than make the usual hollow attacks on special interests, however, he blames Congress for overreaching to the point they have created a business climate that almost requires government involvement. When Congress holds some industries accountable for their errors while providing bailouts to cover the mistakes of others and can be persuaded to create anticompetitive regulations to ensure the survival of favored businesses, it should surprise no one that lobbying has become a blood sport.

To Mr. Wiens, the solution to this is not to try silencing lobbyists and industry. That would just mean Congress could continue to meddle in the economy unimpeded—but with even less information on which to base their ill-considered policies. Congress, he says, needs to massively scale back spending, taxes, and much of its administration if it truly wants to aid the economy. Unfortunately, because so few members of Congress have any proper understanding of economics, even some Republicans can be convinced that stimulus packages and jobs bills are needed to help economic growth. In truth, all the stimulus bills have done is increase liquidity and inflation, pouring cash into an increasingly unstable financial market, without any increase in productive capacity at all.

Mr. Wiens suffers no such confusion about economics. He is an avid student of Austrian School free market economics and can speak eloquently and easily about the long term devastating effects bailouts and stimulus packages will ultimately have on our economy. According to him, if Congress really wants to help, it needs to stay out of the markets, lower taxes, pull back its administrative agencies, and massively cut spending—and not just the tiny bit of the total budget that goes to earmarks.

That is certainly sound policy, but I have heard other Republicans say something similar, then watched them vote on appropriations bills in lockstep with liberals. To this challenge, Mr. Wiens pointed out that, as a state senator, he was frequently the only ‘no’ vote in hearings despite the urgings of his own party. I checked with a few of his old colleagues at the state legislature and they all confirm that, even when every other Republican and Democrat was in agreement, if a bill violated Mr. Wiens’ principles as to the proper role of government, he would vote ‘no.’ This earned him a reputation as a bit of a curmudgeon, but also as a man of integrity and philosophical consistency. Though a smart politician can always feign devotion to principle, it is quite rare to find one who has a voting record to prove it.

All of this is rather encouraging and speaks well of Mr. Wiens. However, his many admirable traits are not what inspired my trust. It was his faults that impressed me most. You see, Mr. Wiens talks too much—far too much for talking points and sound bites. During the course of our conversation, he excitedly proposed a single subject rule for congressional bills, sunset provisions for virtually all laws and agencies, and an evaluation process to determine when an agency is bankrupt or failed and should be closed. He burbled on about the precious metal markets, the housing market, and the sovereign debt crisis of the states and much of the EU in great detail. Finally, we talked about energy policy and the liquid fuels crisis. I was impressed he could speak so fluently about supply shortages, increased usage, infrastructure problems, environmental issues, and national security concerns that affect the issue, and quickly decided we would have to discuss some of these issues in more detail on camera.

At one point, we were briefly interrupted by a member of his staff asking a question about provisions for a party. Mr. Wiens was somewhat irked by the interruption and apologized profusely. However, had it not occurred, I would have never known that, every year, he invites cadets from the Air Force Academy out to his ranch for a small celebration in appreciation of the service they do for this country. It just happened to be going on during our interview. While Mr. Wiens may not have thought to mention it, I was quite impressed.

This is why I did not want a video camera or voice recorder for this interview. When people know they are not going to be on video or quoted directly, they tend to speak more freely and you get a better picture of their true characters. When you get to know him, Mr. Wiens does not seem like a typical politician. In fact, I think trying to hold back his enthusiasm and speak only in prepared sound bites might actually kill him. Considering his passionate interest in free market economics and policy, and after examining some of the dense books on those subjects he reads for leisure, you might even call him a bit of a nerd. A distinctly private person, Mr. Wiens is more at home with his own family and business interests than with the megalomaniac self promotion required by a statewide campaign. I think he would not be running at all if he did not so clearly see the terrible financial storm building over this country and most of the world. Mr. Wiens certainly has the means to ensure he and his family can weather that storm. However, he is also a patriot, and he is trying to offer his knowledge and experience to the people of this state and nation to help them weather it as well. His knowledge, experience, and philosophical integrity impressed me greatly, and his personality is far too enthusiastic and quirky to be anything but honest. He may be exactly what we need. I strongly encourage all our honorable friends to take a good look at his candidacy as we approach the primary. I think you will be impressed. So far, I have yet to meet anyone better.

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April 14, 2010

Denver Tea Party 2010: PPC Livestreaming Coverage

You can follow the latest Colorado are Tax Day Tea Parties at People's Press Collective and Denver Tea Party, both of which will be providing gavel-to-gavel livestreaming coverage of tomorrow's Denver Tea Party.

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February 24, 2010

Colorado Supreme Court Overturns Amendment 54--As I Predicted

By Julian Dunraven, J.D., M.P.A.

Honorable Friends,

In its recent opinion , Dallman v. Ritter, the Colorado Supreme Court overturned Amendment 54 saying that it was "unconstitutionally vague, disproportional, overbroad, or otherwise infirm. Indeed, we find the Amendment’s deficiencies so pervasive that we must nullify the Amendment in its entirety."

As you may recall, Amendment 54 of the Colorado Constitution would have prevented those with no bid government contracts and their families from making campaign contributions for the duration of the contract and for two years thereafter. Supporters claimed it was intended to prevent the appearance of corruption in no bid government contracts. It was passed by voters in 2008.

If you have been a long time reader of the People’s Press Collective or Slapstick Politics, you may also recall that I advised against voting for this amendment, correctly predicting that its restrictions went too far and trampled first amendment rights. I am pleased to see that the Court agreed with me.

Never let it be said, however, the Conservatives are monolithic in their thinking. Many of my colleagues here at the PPC and other prominent conservatives supported this amendment. Though I was unable to join in their enthusiasm for the complete amendment, their stated goal of improving transparency in government is laudable. Indeed, the amendment contained one provision requiring that the state maintain a database of no bid contracts which the public can access and inspect at will. This alone would have addressed issues of transparency adequately, without any of the constitutional problems the rest of the amendment causes. It is also the section of the Amendment the Court found least objectionable. With minimal redrafting, it could be reenacted on its own. Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute has called for the legislature to do just that. Given that this was the only Amendment the voters actually passed in 2008, the legislature would be wise to heed his advice.

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January 27, 2010

State of the Union Attack on the Supreme Court Extremely Inappropriate

By Julian Dunraven, J.D., M.P.A.

Honorable Friends:

After watching the State of the Union address tonight, I notice not much has actually changed in a year. Fashion, for instance, remains a foreign concept in Congress. We were back to the standard assemblage of wretchedly dull red and blue ties for men, and uninspiring cliché shades of red and blue suits for women. One elected official sitting next to John McCain even tried to combine the standards by pairing a blue tie with a bright red vest. Unfortunately, the result was so appallingly garish that I cannot even given him token points for creativity. At least the politician uniform makes them easy to spot and avoid on the street. I suppose I should just be happy that the President chose to forgo the imperial purple he often wore during the campaign; it would have made his tone even more alarming.

Mr. Obama’s policies were also remarkably unchanged. As many other sources will discuss, he held firm to his ultra liberal commitments to impose cap and trade legislation, impose massive government intervention into the economy and financial sector, and remain firm in his efforts to impose a radical government takeover of healthcare.

Nonetheless, I must admit that the speech carried an appealingly strong tone of disgust with Washington, political games, backroom deals, and irresponsible spending. I might be more impressed if I were able to forget that Mr. Obama and the Democrats have controlled both the White House and Congress for over a year, now, and even held a super majority in the Senate until last week. If politics in Washington are a bit dodgy, one can hardly blame the Republicans or, after a year’s time, continue to whine about the old policies of Mr. Bush.

Perhaps the most amusing point in the speech came when Mr. Obama asserted that responsible budgeting and economics required that we do not reign in spending until we are actually in recovery, and until then we should pour more money into a stimulus bill, which we will now call a jobs bill. I was pleased to see I was not the only one unable to contain my laughter at this absurdity. The Republicans in the chamber all seemed to erupt into derisive chuckles. As the Republican response pointed out, the way to recovery is not through increasing government interference in the economy—not financial, not energy, and not healthcare. Nor is it to excessively spend or tax the wealthy, or increasingly grant loans which we then forgive after 20 years. Rather, it is to roll back government in general, lower taxes across the board, and allow the economy to function on its own, free of the favors or penalties of government.

Mr. Obama did mention a few positives. He seemed willing to talk about nuclear power and off shore drilling, for instance. However, if he intends to include these things as part of larger cap and trade legislation, then he poisons the well of energy before we even start drilling it. He also talked about granting gays equal treatment in the military. However, as commander in chief, he has the power to do this at the stroke of a pen. Whatever you may think of the idea, do not expect his talks with Congress and the Pentagon to produce any results on this matter. The Democrats love to assure GLBT people that they should be treated as equals while doing absolutely nothing to support that idea beyond giving speeches. His other prior work on ending torture and closing Guantanamo Bay, while laudable, was not mentioned at all. His utter lack of progress on that goal might have been a bit embarrassing, I suppose, as would his incomprehensible failure to understand how to properly balance an interest in basic human rights with the need to secure against terrorist enemy combatants. Treating them all as if they were domestic criminals is so profoundly foolish that I believe he was wise not to raise the subject.

Commentators seem to be overlooking the most disturbing aspect of Mr. Obama’s speech, though. He openly criticized the decision making of the Supreme Court and allowed the chamber to applaud his remarks on that subject. It is one thing to express disagreement with the Court on matters of policy in his role as the Chief Executive. It is another to publicly censure the decision making capabilities and the very competence of a Supreme Court decision during the State of the Union address. This was a direct attack on the credibility of the third branch of government, the branch that depends entirely upon the respect of the public for its authority. It was completely inappropriate for the President to make such remarks, and I cannot recall the last time a President made such an overt assault on the authority of a coequal branch of government. It may indeed have been FDR. I suppose I should not be surprised by yet another frightening similarity between the two. Coupled with his arrogant demand that Congress deliver a jobs bill to his desk, I am increasingly alarmed at the astonishing imperial attitude which seems to exude from Mr. Obama.

The only true change I spotted this evening was in the Republican response. Delivering the response in front of a live audience in the Virginia House of Delegates was a splendid change this year. Despite the fact that much of the speech was still pre written, it did respond to parts of the President’s address, and did a lovely job of contrasting the approach of the two parties to our national economic crisis: Democrats believe more government regulation with targeted tax incentives is the answer; Republicans believe government in general should be scaled back and taxes should be lowered across the board. Voters will decide in November which approach sounds more appealing. I have little doubt as to which option they will favor.

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January 22, 2010

U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Corporate Political Spending Ban

By Julian Dunraven, J.D., M.P.A.

Honorable Friends:

Do you believe the government should determine what the media can broadcast? Do you believe the government should decide which businesses constitute “media” and which do not? This is exactly what the Supreme Court ruled on yesterday in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. As Justice Kennedy wrote for the conservative majority:

“The law before us is an outright ban, backed by criminal sanctions. Section 441b makes it a felony for all corporations-- including nonprofit advocacy corporations-- either to expressly advocate the election or defeat of candidates or to broadcast electioneering communications within 30 days of a primary election and 60 days of a general election. Thus, the following acts would all be felonies under §441b: The Sierra Club runs an ad, within the crucial phase of 60 days before the general election, that exhorts the public to disapprove of a Congressman who favors logging in national forests; the National Rifle Association publishes a book urging the public to vote for the challenger because the incumbent U.S. Senator supports a handgun ban; and the American Civil Liberties Union creates a Web site telling the public to vote for a Presidential candidate in light of that candidate’s defense of free speech. These prohibitions are classic examples of censorship.” 558 U.S. ___ (2010) at 20.

This law, according to the majority opinion, gives rise to “the dangerous, and unacceptable, consequence that Congress could ban political speech of media corporations,” on a whim. Even the People’s Press Collective, as private corporation not classified as traditional media, could have incurred criminal liability for advocating for or against any candidate within the statute’s time frame. Does this frighten you? It should.

The reason for this oppressive law is that it supposedly protects shareholders from being forced to fund political causes with which they disagree. It also prevents the appearance of corruption and quid pro quo arrangements between politicians and corporate interests. Finally, and most importantly, it allegedly prevents the distortion of the election process by the large accumulations of wealth held by corporations.

The Court swiftly dismissed the first two concerns. Corporate shareholders have the option of divesting if they do not like the actions of any particular company. However, even if this were not the case, limiting political speech only in the days immediately prior to an election but at no other time hardly shows a serious concern for shareholder interests. As to quid pro quo arrangements, we already have anti-bribery laws in force. Attempting to go further and prevent mere access or influence is not only impossible, it is an impediment to representative democracy itself. As it is, the law would continue to permit lobbying by those companies wealthy enough to engage in it, but prohibit other companies from engaging in fundamental political advocacy; hardly an equitable arrangement.

In his dissent, Justice Stevens argued passionately, if not plausibly, that the government has a strong interest in preventing the appearance of corruption corporate wealth can create. He further maintained that, as the First Amendment never mentions corporate entities, they should not be entitled to full speech and press protections. In fact, he maintains that corporate speech is adequately protected in the lengthy procedures set up to create 527 groups, PACs, and the cumbersome and expensive filing, reporting, and maintenance requirements such affiliations entail.

The Court maintains, however, that:

“The First Amendment does not permit laws that force speakers to retain a campaign finance attorney, conduct demographic marketing research, or seek declaratory rulings before discussing the most salient political issues of our day. Prolix laws chill speech for the same reason that vague laws chill speech: People ‘of common intelligence must necessarily guess at [the law’s] meaning and differ as to its application.’ The Government may not render a ban on political speech constitutional by carving out a limited exemption through an amorphous regulatory interpretation.” Id. at 7 (internal citation omitted).

The Court goes on to point out that corporations, as affiliations of individuals, have long enjoyed First Amendment protections. Moreover, the text of the First Amendment itself is not limited to individuals, but protects the freedoms of speech and the press in general. The Court, “rejected the premise that the Government has an interest in equalizing the relative ability of individuals and groups to influence the outcome of elections,” and stated that, “The First Amendment’s protections do not depend on the speaker’s financial ability to engage in public discussion.” Id. at 37 (internal citation omitted).

In short, the First Amendment exists to protect the political speech of citizens, as individuals, groups, or corporations. “By taking the right to speak from some and giving it to others, the Government deprives the disadvantaged person or class of the right to use speech to strive to establish worth, standing, and respect for the speaker’s voice. The Government may not by these means deprive the public of the right and privilege to determine for itself what speech and speakers are worthy of consideration. The First Amendment protects speech and speaker, and the ideas that flow from each.” Id. at 24.

“The censorship we now confront is vast in its reach. The Government has muffle[d] the voices that best represent the most significant segments of the economy. And the electorate [has been] deprived of information, knowledge and opinion vital to its function. By suppressing the speech of manifold corporations, both for-profit and non-profit, the Government prevents their voices and viewpoints from reaching the public and advising voters on which persons or entities are hostile to their interests. Factions will necessarily form in our Republic, but the remedy of destroying the liberty of some factions is worse than the disease. Factions should be checked by permitting them all to speak, and by entrusting the people to judge what is true and what is false.” Id. at 38 (internal citation omitted).

This is as it should be. Despite this, though, the Court still upheld requirements for disclosing donors and issuing disclaimers as to who funds political advertisements. Only Justice Thomas objected to this. He points out the possible chilling effects on speech when activists target political donors with violence and intimidation, saying, “I cannot endorse a view of the First Amendment that subjects citizens of this Nation to death threats, ruined careers, damaged or defaced property, or pre-emptive and threatening warning letters as the price for engaging in core political speech, the primary object of First Amendment protection.” Id at 6 (Thomas, J., concurring) (internal citation omitted). Thus, he maintains we have still one further step to take on the road to truly free political speech.

As it stands, the Supreme Court has overturned the ban on direct corporate political advocacy. Corporations are still subject to contribution limits in candidate campaigns, as are individuals, and they must still disclose their donors and take credit for any political advertisement they produce. Nonetheless, this decision should be celebrated by anyone who still believes in the First Amendment. Here in Colorado, I am certain some enterprising company will use this decision to overturn our own state ban on direct corporate advocacy, which so closely mirrors federal law. I look forward to that day.

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