Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Previewing Obama's State of the Union

On Wednesday, President Obama will deliver his first State of the Union address to Congress.

Most commentators, despite their political affiliations and pedigrees will agree that President Obama has had a rough first year.

There have been other American presidents who have had hard first years too and were able to turn their presidencies around- Ronald Reagan, Teddy Roosevelt are a couple that come to mind.

Mr. Obama has been handicapped by governing inexperience and a leftist ideology which has hamstrung his ability to deliver his election promises so far. That bill with the American voters is coming due quickly (see Massachusetts).

Here is a link to what many liberal Americans are saying right now about the direction the President needs to go. The full text is here:

A lot of commentators on the left think the three-year spending freeze President Barack Obama will announce in his State of the Union speech is a mistake of historic proportions.

The plan is intended to save $250 billion over 10 years and would affect 17 percent of the federal budget, according to administration officials. Military and homeland security spending, international aid and entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare would not be affected.

Obama's decision shows "he'll govern like a hybrid of John McCain and Herbert Hoover for the rest of his term to curry favor with the deficit maniacs," said Firedoglake's David Dayen.

The Moderate Voice's Kathy Kattenburg is another blogger who invoked the 31st president, who failed to pull the nation out of the Great Depression. In a post titled Herbert Hoover Returns to the White House, she raised these questions: "Why is he planning to announce a Republican-style spending freeze in a deep recession? Does he truly imagine Republicans in Congress will support his initiatives now? Why isn't he solving problems and helping people instead of running scared from his own oft-stated beliefs?"

Others are comparing the move to President Franklin Roosevelt cutting back on government spending in 1937. "The results were catastrophic. The economy tanked. And so did the fortunes of the Democratic Party. Predictably, Republicans won 79 seats in the 1938 midterms," Jed Lewison warned on Daily Kos.

"Instead of delivering his State of the Union address this week, Barack Obama may as well hold up a big sign that says, 'I want Democrats to lose Congress,'" a post by desmoinesdem on the MyDD blog complained.

"Perhaps the worst thing about this is how it cedes the ideological ground to the Republicans," added Jonathan Zasloff on The Reality-Based Community.

Some liberal critics of a freeze on domestic discretionary spending are using Obama's own words against him. They point out that in presidential debates with McCain, who called for an across-the-board spending freeze, Obama likened the idea to "using a hatchet when you need a scalpel."

Obama's freeze wouldn't be as wide-ranging as the one McCain pushed. It's more like an overall spending cap, so funding for certain programs considered wasteful -- farm subsidies are often mentioned -- could be slashed while spending for health care and education gets increased. But Congress would have to agree on where to cut and, as The Washington Post's Ezra Klein pointed out, even wasteful programs have powerful supporters on Capitol Hill.

"It's a lot easier for Congress to change the mix than reject the overall freeze. But a freeze is very hard to do right, particularly in tough economic times. Doing it wrong would be a catastrophe," Klein cautioned.

If there's too much wiggle room in Obama's freeze, Daily Kos' Lewison wrote in an update after learning details of the proposal, it could end up "looking like a major political gimmick."

The president will speak to the nation Wednesday night -- just a week after Republican Scott Brown's upset victory in the Massachusetts Senate race doomed Obama's Democratic super majority in the Senate. Mother Jones blogger Kevin Drum wonders whether Obama is pivoting from health care reform to fiscal restraint too fast -- making the spending freeze proposal look like "a panicky and transparent attempt to recover from the Massachusetts tsunami."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Failing to Teach Our Kids

In today's Denver Post, head Post opinator Dan Haley hits the nail on the head.

See the article here.

At issue is the botched state attempt to land millions of federal dollars for public education. At play was nearly 400 million dollars for Colorado, which was a slice (big one) from a huge federal pie/grant of funding designed to improve public education.

The problem is that the state failed to include in its application a key piece: "improving the K-12 teacher tenure process by tying teacher evaluations to student achievement."

Simply, Colorado Democrats in the state legislature blinked in challenging the Colorado Teachers Association (CTA). The CTA has historically been one of the main funders of Democratic political activity in Colorado. They would have fired many bullets at this idea and vehemently opposed any linkage between teacher tenure and student achievement.

So, in our opinion, Governor Ritter and his Democratic legislative allies made a political calculation that they were better off keeping the CTA happy and the political donations coming than improving our kids classroom experiences.

Our kids will be the one to suffer.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Tiger Woods, Brit Hume and Christianity

Last week, former Fox News Anchor now senior news analyst Brit Hume stood Washington, DC on its ear when he made one of the most politically incorrect comments of the year: that Jesus Christ was the only solution to Tiger Woods immense personal problems.

The atheists, pc purveyors and every other anti-Christian group howled.

Speaking on the Fox News Sunday program, Hume candidly and accurately offered his solution for the problems besetting arguably the greatest golfer ever. Woods needed to put down his alleged Buddhist beliefs and embrace the forgiveness offered by Christianity. As an American, Brit Hume had that right. And personally, I agree with him.

In Matthew 10:22, Jesus taught that the world would hate those who followed him. In post-Christian and politically correct 21st century America, there's is plenty of anti-Christian animus. No one should be surprised. The anti-dote? More witness of Jesus Christ.

The Senior Washington correspondent for Politics Daily has come to Hume's defense and I find his remarks refreshing. While I don't agree completely with his conclusions, I find his comments accurate enough to be quoted here.

Here's the link and the entire text below.

Thirty years ago, as she accepted her Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Teresa told the story of a group of American professors who'd come to see her doing the Lord's work in Calcutta. Before taking their leave, they asked for a bit of wisdom to take home with them. "Smile," she replied, "for the smile is the beginning of love."

Mother Teresa's contention was that the first duty of a person who believes in Christ is to show others that you are happy -- that Christianity is working for you. This is the initial step in bearing witness to faith. A second is to enunciate that faith aloud. This would seem to be a requirement of those who follow Jesus; after all, he instructed his followers to give their testimony "to the ends of the Earth."
But the secular world can be as resistant to hearing the "good news" of the gospel as it was in Jesus' time, and few places in modern America are more secular than a big-city newsroom. Just ask Brit Hume, who had the temerity to offer a brief affirmation of his own faith this week -- and was promptly pilloried for it, especially in the media.

In case you missed it, Hume was on a panel of pundits talking about Tiger Woods' troubles. Noting that the great golfer once publicly identified himself with Buddhism, the faith of his mother, Brit Hume said: "I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, 'Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.'"

It was a pretty mild pitch, as these things go, but only if God-talk is familiar to you. It was clearly quite jarring to many of Hume's colleagues. In a typical reaction, Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal Constitution asserted that "faith is a private matter between that person and God, and is not a matter to be judged by some pompous TV anchor." In case Hume was misunderstood, Bookman subsequently called him "rude and crass" and guilty of "bad manners." MSNBC anchor David Shuster maintained that Hume had somehow "denigrated" and "diminished" Christianity. Even knowledgeable religion writers were nonplussed by Hume. USA Today religion writer Cathy Grossman asserted on her blog that the Fox commentator was "talking trash."
Others used the occasion for ad-hominem attacks on Fox News, Hume, and conservative Christians. (A few of these bon mots were clever: My friend E.J. Dionne passed along a quip making the rounds that Fox's new mantra should be: "We report, you convert.") But good natured ribbing seemed the exception. Many of Hume's critics tended to be mean, misinformed, and all-too-willing to engage in the very intolerance they were decrying.

Leading the charge was the Huffington Post, which makes sense in today's environment because it's even more partisan than Fox News -- and on the other side of the political spectrum. But an ideological point of view seems an inadequate excuse for the kind of invective on display at HuffPo. In one post, Hume was blasted for being "sanctimonious" and "distasteful" and "inflammatory." This much was true: HuffPo was certainly inflamed."Beware the Brit Humes in Your Office," blared the headline from another Huffington Post blogger. This one, penned by business columnist Eve Tahmincioglu, included the following passage: "The fact that a journalist -- and I use that term loosely as it pertains to Hume -- would go on a national news show and put down another high-profile individual's faith should tell all of us that religious bigotry, and bigotry as a whole, is a growing problem in this country."

The most steamed scribe may have been Tom Shales, the prominent television writer at The Washington Post. Shales complained in his column that Hume's comparative riff "sounded a little like one of those Verizon vs. AT&T commercials -- our brand is better than your brand -- except that Hume was comparing two of the world's great religions, not a couple of greedy communications conglomerates.""Further," Shales added, "is it really his job to run around trying to drum up new business? He doesn't really have the authority, does he, unless one believes that every Christian by mandate must proselytize?" Shales went on this way at some length, gratuitously (and inaccurately) insulting Calvin Coolidge along the way. Hume's "madness" and "off-the-cuff, off-the-wall" comments were, Shales insisted, destined to be "one of the most ridiculous" public statements of the year."First off, apologize," Shales instructed Hume. "You gotta."

Hume most definitely did not apologize. In fact, he was booked again on Fox News, this time as a guest, telling Bill O'Reilly that "if you speak the name Jesus Christ – and I don't mean to make a pun here – but all hell breaks loose." For those of us who knew Brit Hume before his conversion to Christianity, this droll observation was vintage Brit. It didn't do much for his critics, however. Jon Stewart, who prides himself on his sense of irony, mocked Hume for playing the victim, apparently not realizing that in his sneering segment Stewart confirmed what Hume was saying, which is that you could prescribe almost anything for Tiger Woods without making yourself the target – anything but a spiritual solution.
Certainly no one pushed back when commentators on nearly every network offered up the junk science diagnosis of "sex addiction" for Tiger Woods. You just couldn't tell Tiger to get his ass in church. Lisa Miller, writing in Newsweek, put it this way: "I'm not at all sure why the liberal left is always so shocked that evangelical Christians want other people to become Christians."But even Hume's rare defenders, such as Miller, couldn't countenance his overt comparison of Christianity to Buddhism. This is obviously politically incorrect, and it probably ought to be. I get that. In an era of worldwide sectarian violence, much of it propagated by religious fanatics who shriek "God is great," before killing themselves along with innocent strangers, the emphasis ought to be on ecumenism, not sectarianism.
That said, it's obvious that Hume has no particular animus for Buddhism; he was mainly using it as a rhetorical launching pad. Still, Woods is not known to closely follow any spiritual system, and practicing Buddhists didn't appreciate being used as a foil in Hume's brief sermon. But a funny thing happened when journos called prominent scholars of Buddhism for comment: They tended to confirm Hume's underlying point about the Eastern faith.

Stephen Prothero, a Boston University professor on Buddhism, told Tamara Lush of the Associated Press: "You have the law of karma, so no matter what Woods says or does, he is going to have to pay for whatever wrongs he's done. There's no accountant in the sky wiping sins off your balance sheet, like there is in Christianity." Added James William Coleman, a professor of Buddhist studies at Cal Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif. "If you do what [Tiger Woods] has done, it comes back and hurts you."

In other words, although Hume may have been inartful, he was not necessarily inaccurate: Redemption is a concept flowing out of the Judeo-Christian tradition rather than Eastern thought, although, again I concede that truth is not always a defense to insensitivity. (And, as my esteemed colleague David Gibson noted, polling suggests that American Buddhists are less likely to step out on their spouses than Protestants. So one alternate lesson would be that Tiger Woods ought to embrace his mother's Eastern religion more faithfully.)

Hume's own faith journey.
I first met Brit Hume in the early 1990s when I covered the Clinton White House for The Baltimore Sun and Brit was the senior correspondent for ABC News. He was already an established presence in Washington journalism with an impressive resume, a hefty salary, and the diffident presence of a man confident in his own abilities. He'd sit in the front row in the White House briefing room or on the press plane doing crossword puzzles, seeming not to take the anxieties of the day too much to heart. He was known for a laconic sense of humor that could be earthy at times. One example comes to mind. The 1996 train trip to Chicago for Bill Clinton's second nominating convention was interrupted by the sex scandal of a Clinton campaign adviser named Dick Morris. Hume regaled his colleagues with an imagined scene in which Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, who stayed at the Jefferson Hotel -- where Dick Morris had some of his liaisons -- called the front desk to complain that "the couple with the dog is making noise again." (It was an in-joke, obscure even then, that exaggerated on some of the claims made by Mr. Morris' hired escort).

My point is that Brit Hume didn't take himself too seriously. Once, because the men's rooms in the White House briefing room were occupied and Brit was preparing for a broadcast, I saw him putting on makeup by using the glass reflection on a vending machine. He looked back at me and shrugged, and said with a grin, "Helluva way for a grown man to make a living, isn't it?"

But he always took our craft seriously, which the writers on the beat appreciated especially because Brit had started in print journalism, first at a newspaper in Hartford and then briefly for United Press International before landing at the Baltimore Evening Sun. At a Washington seminar, he met Ralph Nader, who talked him into probing corruption at the United Mine Workers. It was a fortuitous pairing: Hume's work on the UMW culminated in a well-received book, an assignment to write a piece for The Atlantic Monthly, and a job offer with legendary muckraking columnist Jack Anderson.

Eventually, Hume landed with ABC. A solid reporter, he'd initially had trouble learning the ropes of looking natural in front of the camera. By the time I knew him, he'd mastered it, first on Capitol Hill and then at the White House. In 1991, he'd won an Emmy for his coverage of the Persian Gulf War and American Journalism Review twice named him in the "best in the business" at covering the presidential beat. In other words, nobody ever questioned Hume's journalistic chops -- until he went to Fox News.

I didn't know his politics, although I knew he'd had friction with ABC anchorman Peter Jennings. (Much later, Hume told Howard Kurtz of The Washington Post, that he pushed back on an assignment about how the first President Bush "isn't doing anything" by countering "Has it ever occurred to you that this guy's a Republican and Republicans don't believe that government is the solution to all the country's problems?")

In the next administration, Hume chafed under what he thought was a blind spot on the part of the ABC brass, Jennings included, when it came to the flaws of Bill and Hillary Clinton and he eventually jumped to Fox. Interestingly, although he had once lost his temper at Hume in a Rose Garden press conference, President Clinton made a point of saying he thought Hume's coverage was, well, fair and balanced. This happened on Dec. 13, 1996 at Hume's farewell White House news conference for ABC News when Clinton surprised us all by suddenly saying, "Brit, let me say before you leave, I know this is your last White House press conference ... but over the last several years, I think all of us think you have done an extraordinary, professional job under Republican and Democratic administrations alike, and we will miss you. And we wish you well, and congratulations on your new position."

Fourteen months later, however, tragedy struck Brit Hume and his family. On Feb. 22, 1998 his son and namesake, Alexander Britton Hume Jr., committed suicide. Sandy Hume, as he was known, was 28 years old, an up-and-comer in Washington journalism. He'd been drinking heavily one night, was arrested by the U.S. Park Police for driving under the influence, had tried to strangle himself in his cell, and then, inexplicably released by authorities, had gone home and shot himself.
Such a horror is not something you ever get over. But you have to go on, and Brit Hume was able to do so, by his own account, because of the people who reached out to him in God's name. Nearly 1,000 sympathy cards arrived, from strangers as well as friends.

"I read them all," Hume told Christianity Today. "My mailbox would be stuffed with them night after night. I'd weep over some of them. Some of them were prayer cards, some of them would tell me a tree had been planted somewhere. I felt that I was seeing the face of God. I felt people's support and love. To me it was a miracle. I've been trying to face up to the implications of believing in Christ and believing in God ever since."

It only stands to reason, then, that out of this crucible, Brit Hume would want to share that miracle with others who are hurting -- with Tiger Woods, for example. And so, channeling Mother Teresa and not Tom Shales, Hume's first duty is to smile, as painful as that must be some days. His second duty, as he sees it, is to share the reason he's able to smile. So why would anyone begrudge him that?
Well, one reason is excess partisanship. If you're a hater, all you need to see are the words "Fox News" or "Brit Hume" then you are against whatever he's for. I don't get that kind of thinking, and don't have much to say to those who engage in it -- but that isn't the only factor that made some people uncomfortable about Hume's homily. Like Sandy Hume, I'm a second-generation journalist, and old-school besides. There's a phrase we used to recite, a mantra, if I may mix my religious references, and it is very simple: "No cheering in the press box."

A Christian must bear witness to the very ends of the Earth, the Book of Acts tells us. A reporter ought to keep his opinions (and his religious beliefs) to himself. Two noble creeds that are occasionally at odds. Brit Hume came down on one side the other day, and seemed comfortable doing it. I submit that his critics would have more credibility if they toned down their own press box cheering – and their booing as well.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Denver Has More Pot Dispensaries Than Starbucks

No kidding here.

What a badge of honor. Denver is now known by those who advocate and use pot as the cannabis heaven of America.

According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuane Laws, Denver has 390 pot dispensaries which have filed for tax status from city and county of Denver.

Statewide, Colorado has only 208 Starbuck coffee shops.

Compare that to Los Angeles, with four million residents, which has one dispensary for every 4,065 residents. Denver’s population is a mere 598,707, but has one dispensary for every 1,535 residents

How about a cannabis latte to go?

Health Care Taxes Will Impact You

Part of the "sell" job of Obama care was the promise that most middle-class Coloradans would be be severly impacted.

Now, new information is leaking out which torpedoes this misnomer.

Here is the latest story.

The devil is always in the details and we know very little about the details of this health care monstrosity.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Guiding Principles for 2010

Here are our guiding principles for 2010. What are yours?

-Believe and teach that there is a good God who loves us, sent His Son to die and save us, and who has a wonderful plan for our lives.

-Teach that the universe is meaningful and not random chance.

-Teach that the rule of law is essential.

-Promote and defend the value of stable families, which build stable communities which in turn create prosperous and moral communities.

-Firmly establish and maintain private property rights and laws.

-Delay gratification and teach that thrift is good.

Five 2010 Predictions

Happy New Year!

How many resolutions did you make for 2010 and have already broken?

2010 will be an interesting year on many fronts. Here are a couple of predictions:

-The Great Health care debate will continue. Despite the Great Nebraska "Payoff", John Q. Public is white-hot with anger. There will be a price at the voting box in November for our political leaders disregard of their constituents will.

-The war in Afghanistan will grind on. More troops will not solve this thorny problem. It will take years to turn around one of the most backward nation's in the world. I doubt we have the national will and patience to absorb the cost.

-The American economy will continue to struggle and be shackled under a heavy load of government taxes and regulations. Most Americans are still capitalists, though they may not know it. At least, we have all benefited to some degree under our free market economy. Under Obama, it will become an endangered species.

-There will be a tax revolt at some point, maybe not in 2010, but the seeds are being sown right now. The Bush tax breaks which have benefited many Americans sunset this year. In the future,. Americans will have higher taxes and less money to pay them.

-Obama, congressional and local elected Democrats will pay a price this fall. American voters are angry right now. The HOPE and CHANGE many of them though they were getting never showed up. Democrats will be big losers in the November election.

Return the Nebraska Gift

Happy New Year!

In Sunday's Denver Post, Colorado Attorney General Jon Suthers hit the nail on the head regarding the "Great Nebraska Payoff" ie the buyout of US Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson.

In order to secure Nelson's vote, the Democratic leadership in the US Senate inserted a provision to exempt Nebraska from its future financial share of Medicaid-which will expand greatly under Obama Care. The other 49 states would be required to pick up the tab for new Nebraska medicaid recipients.

We think that this action is not only dirty politics at its worst but is illegal.

Here is Suthers entire article. This is an issue that should concern Coloradans from both sides of the political fence.