Barney Frank is WYSIWYG
I respect Barney Frank. Beyond CNN sound-bites, I’d never heard him speak until I attended a NAMB legislative conference a few years ago. What struck me about the man is his strong cognitive abilities.
He’s fast on his feet. He knows what he thinks and he’s not afraid to tell you.
I wish for this type of candor from all our elected officials.
Should Sarbanes-Oxley be repealed?
On my radar screen: I don’t have an opinion right now. Suspect this debate will grow over the coming months. Your thoughts?
“You don’t get to vote, You have to” – Ken Gordon
Ken Gordon’s term as Majority Leader of the Colorado Senate is coming to an end. I still receive his email updates even though I no longer live in his district. Sen. Gordon brings humor and simplicity to complicated and oftentimes, humorless topics. Here are some excerpts from his most recent email.
I think the American people have forgotten how to tell a good candidate from a bad one. The worse candidate with more money almost always wins. Mindless name-recognition television ads work. Cheap-shot ads work. Negative campaigning works. These work because many of the American people don’t pay attention to substance, or they can’t recognize it.
I admit that I am a Democrat and have attitudes about this that may be conditioned by that fact, but I don’t believe that an electorate that was paying attention would have re-elected George Bush. Democrats who don’t deserve to win have benefitted by this attention gap as well.
As someone who pays attention to policy discussions, I watched the 2004 election results in horror. The decision we make in a Presidential election, is a life and death matter to thousands of Americans in the armed forces and hundreds of thousands of people in the Middle East. It is crucial to whether we are able to preserve the earth and whether people get to see a doctor when they are ill. There could not be a bigger decision that an American makes than who they elect to public office and yet so many people treat this decision as though it is less important than shopping or going to a movie.
They act as if participating as a citizen in the goals and values of our country, a right for which over a million American soldiers have died, is someone else’s job.
Americans misunderstand the right to vote. They think they “get to vote.” They don’t “get to.” They “have to.” Democracy is not just a benefit. It is a responsibility.
We are a prosperous and powerful nation but primarily that is because of the work of previous generations from which we benefit. My father grew up during the Depression and fought in the Second World War. He kept up with current events and he never missed an election. He knew that prosperity and peace did not just happen.
I’m afraid it is going to take another major crisis to teach contemporary Americans that lack of attention to government can result in a terrible misery. Help show me that this fear is not justified.
We all need to be advocates for the deep-seated values that created this country. Justice, freedom, equality and prosperity do not just happen. If we think that they do, if we think that somehow they are here as a gift, rather than as the compensation for sustained endeavor we will lose them.
Don’t hesitate to write back to me with your comments. Ken Gordon is currently the Majority Leader in the Colorado Senate. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Get out and vote. Advice from Ken Gordon
This was sent to me by Senator Ken Gordon. I’m reprinting it with his permission. I found the anecdote about Columbine sad but insightful.
As we start a new legislative session we can expect elected leaders and special interests to face intense scrutiny. Yet there is an indispensable group that is rarely noticed and whose actions almost never receive any critical examination: the People of Colorado.
It is understandable that politicians are reluctant to criticize voters. Imagine the following, not completely apocryphal, conversation.
Candidate: “Someone criticizes every position I take. The people want small classes, affordable in-state college tuition, a robust health care safety net and well-maintained roads and bridges. They vote for these costly services every time they get a chance, and then they vote for lower taxes every time they get a chance. They are inconsistent. Only half of them vote on a good day. And then they elect candidates who tell them they can have something for nothing. I’m going to tell the people that the reason this country is in such a mess is because of them.”
Campaign Manager: “Mr. Candidate… uh… that would be a good idea if… you were crazy.”
Let’s strike a bargain and consider dividing responsibilities.
Elected officials… will listen to input from the public and experts. They will read the studies, examine the facts and negotiate in good faith with People who disagree. They will be honest, and not hesitate to point out when something is not possible. They will not avoid wrestling with unpleasant facts and tough choices by finding an “enemy” that everyone can blame. They will not sell their souls to special interests for campaign contributions.
The People… will keep up with public events to a sufficient degree to make intelligent choices when they vote. They will not be persuaded by special-interest financed, mindless television ads, where a candidate stands in front of a mountain and says, “I care about Colorado.” They will be logical, and not reward politicians who promise them inconsistent outcomes. They will not support the candidate backed by their own special interest for selfish reasons; they will think about the general welfare as well.
Here is an example that highlights the problem.
Prior to Columbine, buyers at a federally-licensed gun store had background checks to determine if they were felons or had been adjudicated as dangerous to themselves or others. Most People, including many in the NRA, found this reasonable. However, guns were sold at gun shows without background checks. Harris and Klebold bought at a gun show because they were too young to buy at a store, and the 18 year-old woman who accompanied them didn’t want to subject herself to a background check.
After Columbine I sponsored the bill to require background checks at gun shows.
At a social event a woman came up to me and said, “Are you carrying that background check bill?”
“Is it going to pass?”
She got upset. “How is that possible? Everyone knows that the guns used at Columbine came from a gun show. Why isn’t it going to pass?” She was angry and, because I was there, she was angry at me.
“Do you know who your State Representative is?”
“That’s why the bill won’t pass.”
We have a government that doesn’t function like the one you learned about in high school. Leaders rarely take courageous stands against special interests, and the People don’t reward the occasional acts of courage because they aren’t aware of them.
Our leaders need to be more principled-that is true-but the People need to recognize and reward principled behavior.
In a democracy the People will not find their leaders to be intelligent, honest and courageous, if they have not first found those qualities in themselves.
“You can’t count on people voting,” veteran Senator Joe Payne (Claude Rains) explains to rookie Senator Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart) on why politicians have to play ball with corrupt interests, in the movie “Mr. Smith goes to Washington.”
“They don’t vote half the time, anyway.“
Douglas Bruce and the other 72 wasteful legislators…
Is Douglas Bruce the Republican Rep. from Colorado Springs stuffing his hands in taxpayer pockets? Ironic as he is the ‘brainchild’ behind Tabor. Take a look at this news report and the last three paragraphs in particular.
73 Colorado legislators are taking expense reimbursements for time not spent working!
Isn’t that akin to punching in and then sitting on your ass for 8 hours? C’mon people. Smart opponents will be pointing out these shortcomings of character in future elections. I’m sure most of the 73 will say they were ‘too busy’ to review the expenses or like Bruce, will blame it on someone else. Makes me ill.