Saturday, August 28, 2010

Yes, Buck's Policies Would 'Ban Common Forms of Birth Control'

As reported by Michael Sandoval for National Review Online, Ken Buck's campaign has responded to Senator Bennet's attack ad. It's not clear to me who wrote the text that Sandoval quotes; it uses first-person pronouns while referring to "Ken Buck" in the third-person. Nevertheless, I will consider the text to constitute Buck's approved policy statement.

Neither Sandoval nor Buck deny that Buck wants to ban abortion even in cases of rape and incest. What is at issue is Buck's views on birth control. Here is the relevant text from Sandoval's article:

‘Buck wants to ban common forms of birth control.’

This is a lie. It is difficult to understand where this lie comes from. It may come from Ken’s position that life begins at conception. However, the ‘common forms of birth control’ -- presumably, condoms for men and oral contraceptive pills for women -- do not result in killing a fertilized egg. I am not a doctor, but a Google search brought up this hit about how female oral contraceptives work:

http://womenshealth.about.com/od/thepill/f/howpillworks.htm


Buck is either disingenuous on the issue or else profoundly confused.

As I have reported, Buck endorsed the "personhood" measure, now slated as Amendment 62 for this fall's ballot.

My source was the "Christian Family Alliance of Colorado," which reports on its web page that Buck supports the "personhood" initiative. If for some reason this is mistaken, the Buck should correct the record immediately. I personally would be thrilled to hear that Buck in fact denounces rather than endorses Amendment 62; unfortunately, I don't think that's actually the case.

Nobody thinks Amendment 62 would ban condoms; that's just a diversion. However, according to the sponsors of Amendment 62, the measure certainly would ban any form of birth control that could damage a zygote, and the birth control pill certainly qualifies, as I have noted. Indeed, the pill that my wife took until recently says on its prescription information that it can act by "making it difficult for a fertilized egg to attach to the lining of the womb (implantation)."

Indeed, if we look at the very citation provided by Buck's campaign, it states that, with the pill, "The lining of the uterus is also affected in a way that prevents fertilized eggs from implanting into the wall of the uterus."

Assuming that Buck in fact endorses Amendment 62, then he in fact wants to ban the birth control pill, IUD, and "morning after" drugs. Either that, or Buck lacks the integrity to own up to the consequences of his endorsements. Which is it, Ken?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tipton Wants Economic Liberty, Social Controls

The following article originally was published August 20 by Grand Junction Free Press.

August 27 note: Linn and I had asked for Congressman John Salazar, against whom Scott Tipton is running in Colorado's Third Congressional district, to answer comparable questions before our article about Tipton was published on August 20. We sent our questions via email to Salazar's office on August 12 and followed up with multiple contacts by phone and email. Finally on August 25 we received word from Salazar's office that our initial email was received. Originally we had asked for Salazar's answers by August 18. We still await his reply. -Ari Armstrong

Tipton wants economic liberty, social controls

by Linn and Ari Armstrong

Now that Scott Tipton has won the Republican primary for the Third Congressional race, we expect he'll offer a tough challenge to incumbent John Salazar. Obviously many voters are sick of the Democrats impeding economic recovery with wealth transfers, takeovers, and controls.

But the real question is whether Tipton deserves to win, and mostly that comes down to the ideas and policies he advocates. That's why we gave him a call. (We'll write about Salazar, too.)

Tipton emphasized economics: "We need to be dealing with economic issues; we need to be focused on creating jobs."

Tipton said, "Right now the issues that I think Congress needs to be addressing [concern] getting Americans back to work. We've got to be reducing the size and the expenditures of government. We simply cannot afford the spending coming out of Washington right now."

As some first steps, Tipton suggested reducing discretionary spending by ten percent (except for defense) and "unleashing entrepreneurial investment" by moving to a flat, lower corporate tax rate.

"We need to make American business competitive;" bad federal policies have "been driving jobs out of America," Tipton warned.

Tipton looks to policies "geared toward empowering free enterprise." He said his interest is supporting "people looking out for their families, trying to put a roof over their heads... rather than just paying to sustain government."

Unfortunately, like many Colorado Republicans these days, Tipton wants to reduce liberty in the personal sphere.

Let us preface our criticism with praise for Tipton's openness and accessibility. Tipton's campaign staff immediately put us in contact with the candidate, and Tipton answered his phone right away and agreed to address some tough questions.

Tipton suggested that, when candidates speak plainly and get attacked for it by narrow-minded interest groups that pull quotes out of context, that creates the incentive for candidates to avoid the tough issues. Despite the dangers of going on the record, Tipton answered our questions candidly, and he deserves credit for that.

Yet Tipton worries us with some of his views on social issues.

Tipton expressed an overly narrow view of the significance of the separation of church and state, saying it "keeps the state from annointing one particular religion or one particular church." That's part of the meaning of the separation of church and state, but the broader purpose is to protect government policies from religious dogmas as much as to protect religious worship from the government.

"I do support faith-based initiatives," Tipton said of welfare programs involving churches. What about the teaching of "intelligent design" in tax-funded schools? "I'm a faith-based person. Faith plays a very important part in my life, and I don't think that should be excluded from the school."

Tipton opposes gay marriage, though he added: "I think if somebody wants to have a contractual relationship, we have that opportunity already."

However, Tipton does not support adoption by gay couples; "I would not be supportive of adoption outside a traditional family." Our question for social conservatives is this: would you rather a woman abort a fetus or give birth and let a gay couple adopt the child?

On his web page, Tipton states, "Abortion should be limited to cases that involve rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother." His view is at least more sensible than that of Ken Buck, who said, "I don't believe in the exceptions of rape or incest."

On his web page, Tipton says he wants "a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion." That prompted us to ask whether he also favors a waiting period for women seeking to buy a gun. While Tipton claimed that's "not a fair comparison," we think it's as ludicrous to require a waiting period for either one.

"I would support a constitutional amendment to protect the unborn human life," Tipton states on his web page. What about Amendment 62, the so-called "personhood" measure? He replied, "I'm going to take a look at those. I've not looked at all the ballot initiatives that we're going to have."

Tipton struggled a bit over the question of what criminal penalties would be imposed on women who get abortions and doctors who facilitate them. The question is "worthy of further discussion," he said. It certainly is. Many abortion banners call for lengthy prison sentences or even execution for those women and doctors, which is pure Taliban-style insanity.

If fully implemented, Amendment 62 would ban forms of birth control (including the pill) and fertility treatments that may harm a fertilized egg. But Tipton emphasized, "I think that we need to take advantage of birth control."

We sympathize with Tipton's goal to "not look at abortion as a means of birth control," but his concern does not justify abortion bans.

We like Tipton's pro-liberty stance on economics. We only ask that he more carefully consider why liberty is the right answer when it comes to personal decisions, too.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rush Brings Caravan to Redrocks

Okay, so Rush's introductory video, which was supposed to lead into the first song, cut out early, leaving the band to walk on and start playing abruptly. Maladjusted sound at the outset helped send Geddy Lee into screech mode for a few moments. Alex Lifeson quickly blew a string, causing a momentary guitar lull. And the sound was too blaring for the venue. Upon breaking after the first few songs, Geddy said, "I apologize for [the video]; sometimes the magic doesn't happen."

And sometimes it does. Aside from a few trivial technical problems, Rush's August 16 show at Redrocks -- which Geddy properly called "the most beautiful venue in North America" (see below) -- was pure magic (and that was evident even before the band played "Presto").

Jennifer and I arrived early to beat the traffic, which offered the added advantage of finding a great parking spot right along the road. We each drank a Mexican (real sugar) coke (with a little kick) and ate snack mix as we waited; I read a few pages of Walker Todd's Progress and Property Rights while Jennifer continued reading Stieg Larsson's suspenseful third novel. I had to roll up my window when it started raining, but I wasn't worried, as we had brought our rain gear.

The rain was fleeting, however, and by the time we ascended the stairs to the venue the wind had calmed and the clouds had dispersed perfectly for a sunset. Though I had expected storms, it was the most perfect weather imaginable at the most perfect venue. We sat in row 45, which is close enough to see the band but high enough to see Denver's city lights over the stage. (That said, I would have preferred to sit in the first three rows, but it seems nearly impossible for a normal person to accomplish that.)

The techies quickly adjusted the sound on Geddy's mic, and Geddy sang better and better through the evening. A strip of slightly-chewed paper from my ticket print-out took the edge off of the overall volume.

They played "Spirit of Radio." They played "Subdivisions" and "Closer to the Heart" and the intro from "2112." They closed with "La Villa Strangiato" and "Working Man." In other words, amazing. (See the entire set list.) They played for nearly three solid hours, not counting the break.

I challenge anyone to listen to Rush perform "Workin' Them Angels" and "Caravan" -- from the latest and forthcoming albums -- and spend a single breath defending Rush's continued exclusion from the Hall of Fame. These works, along with numerous selections from Rush's many albums, are among the greatest compositions in rock history. I have never heard anyone seriously question the fact that Neil Peart is the greatest drummer of all time as well as a poignant lyricist. Geddy Lee is among the greatest bassists and a magnificent composer. At this show, because a friend of mine is learning guitar, I spent more time watching the genius guitar work of Alex Lifeson. These are three of the greatest rock musicians performing today, and they play some of the greatest rock music of all time.

They called it the "Time Machine Tour." Part of the setup for the concert was an alter-ego band called "Rash," which allowed the (real) band to start off a few songs in alternative styles, such as oompah (maybe you had to be there). I thought it was a lot of fun.

During the first set, the band struck a definite theme, starting with the song "Faithless" (which I have discussed previously). The meaning of the song is obvious, though it is more touchingly positive than one might initially imagine. The next song in the sequence was the new release "BU2B," which begins facetiously, "I was brought up to believe / The universe has a plan / We are only human / It's not ours to understand." The band followed that with the older "Free Will:" "You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice... / You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill / I will choose a path that's clear / I will choose free will."

The band started the second set with a full rendition of what may remain the band's single greatest album, Moving Pictures. And they nailed it.

One interesting detail is that, after the band closed the encore, they played a video featuring the guys from the film I Love You Man, in which Rush's music played a prominent role. The guys portrayed fawning and slightly silly fans (in other words, themselves as well as many of us in the audience). What's interesting is that, while the video was supposed to usher people out of the theater, practically everyone stayed put until the video concluded and the crew started packing up the stage. It was a long night, but one fans were reluctant to let go.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Why Sam Alexander is Wrong on 'Personhood'

In an August 15 letter to the Denver Post, Sam Alexander offers the following argument in favor of Amendment 62, the "personhood" measure that will appear on November's ballot:

As an obstetrician/gynecologist and reproductive endocrinologist, I can assure [Ed] Quillen [see his article] that human development -- from the embryo to the fetus, infant, child and adult stages -- is an uninterrupted continuum; a human being is always present. We do not value human beings based upon functional capacity, but upon the intrinsic properties which make us human. Consequently, all human beings in a liberal democracy should be treated with the respect due a person, with full rights and dignity.


Alexander ignores two fundamental facts. First, a zygote is a clump of largely-undifferentiated cells without any human organs or capacities. Second, until birth, a zygote, embryo, or fetus is wholly contained within the woman's body and utterly dependent on her body for sustenance. Thus, while there is no doubt a "continuum" of development from fertilization through adulthood, an individual person with legal rights emerges at birth. (Until that point, the law properly supports a woman's desire to protect her fetus from outside aggression, as an extension of her body.) For the more complete case, read the paper by Diana Hsieh and me (or the soon-to-be released updated version of the paper).

I do think it's worth pointing out the obvious logical fallacies that Alexander commits in his letter.

Consider the following statements: "Stubble grows into a beard; therefore, stubble is a beard." "An acorn grows into an oak tree; therefore, an acorn is an oak tree." "A caterpillar develops into a butterfly; therefore, a caterpillar is a butterfly." "An adult human develops into a corpse; therefore, an adult human is a corpse."

Like Alexander's statement, these are all examples of the logical fallacy known as the "argument of the beard" or the "continuum fallacy." Something can in an "uninterrupted continuum" develop into something else and yet be become a basically different thing. That is precisely what happens when an egg is fertilized and develops into a born infant. The obvious fact that a zygote (in the proper environment) develops into a born infant -- a person -- does not imply that a zygote is a person.

Alexander's second logical fallacy is an equivocation on the term "human being." The cited paper explains:

In fact, the advocates of Amendment 48 [now Amendment 62] depend on an equivocation on “human being” to make their case. A fertilized egg is human, in the sense that it contains human DNA. It is also a “being,” in the sense that it is an entity. ...[T]he fact that an embryo is biologically a human entity is not grounds for claiming that it's a human person with a right to life. Calling a fertilized egg a “human being” is word-play intended to obscure the vast biological differences between a fertilized egg traveling down a woman's fallopian tube and a born infant sleeping in a crib.


Finally, Alexander appeals to his own authority, when in fact his expertise shed no light whatsoever on the (faulty) conclusions he draws.

Given the obviously deficient arguments Alexander offers in his letter, might I suppose that he has underlying motives for endorsing "personhood" that he did not mention in the letter?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Denver Post's Snarky Fact Check Fails: Ken Buck and Social Security

Note to Elizabeth Miller of the Denver Post: when writing a "fact check" about political candidates, you should probably try to make sure that your own statements are correct.

Consider Miller's snarky -- and obviously false -- statement about the founders' beliefs: "[U.S. Senate candidate Ken] Buck called the [Social Security] program unsustainable, and said he didn't think the nation's founders intended to have a program like Social Security (let's recall that these people hadn't conceived of a fire department or a postal service, either)."

I do not know the founders' specific views on fire departments, but no serious person thinks they "hadn't conceived of fire departments." [August 17 update: a reader sent in a link about Benjamin Franklin's firefighting efforts.] But regarding the postal service, we have readily available evidence. Perhaps Miller has heard of a little document called the U.S. Constitution, which contains the following line (Article I, Section 8): "The Congress shall have Power To... establish Post Offices and Post Roads..."

A review of the source Miller reviews, John King's interview with Buck, clarifies that Buck made no mention of fire departments or the postal service.

Miller's comment is not only stupid in content, it is wildly out of place. (I suppose it's possible that an editor inserted the comment. If so, Miller, whose name appears on the piece, can take it up with the editor. If the line is indeed Miller's, then her editor should take up the matter with her.) A "fact check" article is supposed to evaluate the claims of a candidate, not insert the writer's own editorial remarks.

In fact, America's founders did not envision Social Security or anything like it. Indeed, they did not envision a federal welfare state, which is almost entirely the product of the past century. Social Security dates from 1935. So Buck's statement on the founders' views is entirely correct, which is all that should concern Miller for the piece in question.

It is true that, at times, Buck has seemed to criticize Social Security per se, as when he said "the idea that the federal government should be running... retirement... is fundamentally against what I believe and that is that the private sector runs programs like that far better." However, it is possible to think that while still advocating reform to save the system now that it is in existence, and that is Buck's stated view.

I'm surprised that Miller does not reference Buck's interview with the Denver Post's own editorial board, which I have reviewed, in which Buck offers a specific plan for reforming Social Security.

To briefly review my own positions, I have indeed called for the privatization of the Post Office. I absolutely oppose the misnamed plan to "privatize" Social Security by transferring a portion of the funds to government-managed investment accounts. Instead, I want to truly privatize retirement planning by slowly phasing out Social Security by incrementally and continually raising the pay-out age. Perhaps Miller will note the difference between stating one's own views and evaluating the views of others.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

McCain-Palin Fail Again

In 2008, Colorado voters went with Obama-Biden over McCain-Palin by a margin of 54 to 45 percent. John McCain and Sarah Palin haven't found much political success here in 2010, either.

In the Third Congressional, Sarah Palin endorsed Bob McConnell over Scott Tipton. The more-experienced Tipton won 56 to 44 percent.

McCain campaigned with U.S. Senate hopeful Jane Norton in Grand Junction and elsewhere. It was a closer race, but Buck won.

Did McCain's efforts actually help Norton? Consider some interesting results from Mesa County, where McCain actively campaigned. True, voters there went with Norton over Buck by a wide margin: 60 to 38 percent. But Norton is (originally) a Mesa County local, so it would have been surprising for Buck to win there. Mesa County voters also favored the loser in the governor's race -- Scott McInnis -- by an even wider margin: 70 to 27 percent. McInnis is also (basically) a local -- he used to hold the Third Congressional seat -- but his campaign imploded over the plagiarism scandal (as well as his general inability to spark enthusiasm among his party's faithful).

I think that's an interesting result. Norton, by all accounts a strong candidate, did relatively worse in Mesa County than McInnis did. Of course there may be some more subtle things going on here, but maybe the Democrats should hire McCain to come back and campaign for more Republicans through the general. (Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Michael Bennet doesn't seem too sure he wants much more of Obama's "help" through the general.)

One lesson that candidates might draw from the primary is that Coloradans don't seem to put much stock in the opinions of outsiders.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review: Book of Eli

Among post-apocalyptic flicks, Book of Eli is among the better ones, though it's not nearly as good as the emotionally gripping The Road. (Both movies share certain features: bleak landscapes, food scarcity, cannibalism, and roving gangs.)

Cinematically, the absolute best part of the film is Gary Oldman's chillingly gripping portrayal of the villain (with shades of Jack Nicholson), though I also quite liked Denzel Washington's performance as the lead (Eli). Some of the landscapes obviously were digitized, which pulled me out of the story a bit.

Don't read any more of this review if you don't want to know about the story.

The upshot is that God tells Eli to travel West (across the U.S.) in order to protect the last copy of the Bible in existence. That premise, of course, is ridiculously stupid for two reasons. First, there have been so many copies of the Bible printed up (and saved digitally) that there is no way that even a concerted effort to destroy every Bible could possibly come close to succeeding. Second, the idea that God would tell this guy to go West with the last Bible is silly. (And why God would choose to save the stilted King James version remains a mystery, given the existence of better and more accurate versions.)

The main theme the film promotes is religious faith. Eli travels West because he literally hears the voice of God tell him to do so. Moreover, God tells him He will protect Eli over the course of the journey. It turns out that God was directing Eli to a sanctuary off the coast of San Francisco where a team of librarians eagerly await the arrival of the Bible so that they can put it to the printing press. Outlandishly silly stuff.

The failed theme of the film is altruism. At one point Eli summarizes the theme of the Bible: "Do more for others than you do for yourself." But he does quite a lot of stuff for himself. For one thing, he brutally slaughters dozens of men who happen to get in the way of his mission. There's no "turning the other cheek" for this God; this is more Old Testament bloodshed.

At one point Eli puts himself and his mission in danger by getting his iPod charged up while he seeks water in an obviously troublesome bar. (Why didn't God just direct him to strike a rock with a stick or something?) True, Eli rescues his new friend, but he's obviously lonely and enjoys the companionship. So, while Eli explicitly preaches altruism, he doesn't exhibit much of it. Perhaps his journey as a whole, to save the Bible, can be viewed as an act of altruism, but in that world his journey seems as safe and personally fulfilling as any other.

It is interesting that Eli formulates altruism as a balancing act; you're supposed to do something for yourself, but you're supposed to do more for others. This recognizes that altruism cannot be consistently followed; you'd quickly die if you never tended to your own needs. (Of course the alternative to such moral pragmatism is a consistent, rational and benevolent egoism as promoted by Ayn Rand.)

Thankfully, the film also delves into a much more interesting tertiary theme: the reliance of tyrants on religious dogmas. The reason the Bible was nearly destroyed, says Eli, is that many blamed it for the war that destroyed the planet. The main villain seeks the Bible because he wants to use its text to subdue the people he rules. Now that is interesting commentary. Of course, the message of Eli is that such treatment of the Bible is misuse of it (and God keeps the text out of the villain's hands), but, in fact, the Bible has been used for thousands of year to justify tyranny and oppression. (It has also been used to justify better causes, which demonstrates only that people can read into religious texts pretty much whatever they want. That is the ultimate nature of faith.)

I also appreciated the fact that the movie's heroes devote their efforts to saving books. The Bible features some great stories and literature -- and it offers poignant lessons about the nature of religion -- and it would indeed be a tragedy to lose it. So here's to post-apocalyptical films that celebrate literacy!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Harry Potter's Lessons for Journalists

The following article originally was published August 6 by Grand Junction's Free Press.

Harry Potter's Lessons for Journalists

by Linn and Ari Armstrong

Journalism plays a critical role in a free society. However, just as politicians and private individuals sometimes do the wrong thing, so can journalists sometimes get their facts wrong or act unethically. Consider a few examples from recent headlines.

After internet writer Andrew Breitbart released a video of Shirley Sherrod, an employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, showing Sherrod making apparently racist comments, she was fired. But the video edited Sherrod's comments out of context; her actual story was about how, many years ago (before her government job), she overcame bias to assist people regardless of race.*

During brief remarks at the Independence Institute's Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) party, U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck said people should vote for him because he does "not wear high heels." Many took his comment out of context, calling him sexist. In fact he was telling a dumb joke in response to unrelenting gender-based attacks from his primary opponent, Jane Norton.

Colorado pundit Ross Kaminsky initially reported that he could not find college records of governor candidate Dan Maes; it turned out the school's database was faulty. Admirably, Kaminsky quickly updated his account and apologized to Maes.

Even good journalists sometimes get things wrong, and some journalists act unethically, recklessly or intentionally distorting the facts.

Fortunately, some great advice about journalistic ethics may be found in the Harry Potter series of novels, soon to gain another round of publicity from movies due out this year and the next. Journalists would do well to read the series, particularly starting with the fourth book.

In the character of Rita Skeeter, the Potter novels offer a great example of how not to do journalism. Skeeter makes up quotes, takes comments and events out of context, and illegally listens in on people's private conversations. She cashes in on Harry's popularity by writing distorted, sensationalistic stories -- just as many media outlets do to real-life celebrities.

In the fifth Potter book, Order of the Phoenix, the Ministry of Magic grows corrupt, controlling Hogwarts school and manipulating the Daily Prophet, the major newspaper for wizards. The Minister of Magic becomes paranoid, fearing Harry and his allies while ignoring the real threat of the evil Voldemort. Thus, the ministry leans on the press to vilify Harry and ignore Harry's evidence about Voldemort.

During this period, Harry and his friends learn to read the manipulated media "between the lines" for tidbits of real news, and Harry also reads the Muggle (non-magical) news for hints.

Over the final two books, the Ministry falls under the control of Voldemort, a vicious tyrant. It is during this period that the controlled media function as the propaganda arm of a dictatorship. Harry's allies use pirate radio to communicate news of the resistance.

Many of Harry Potter's lessons for journalists, then, are negative: don't be corrupt like Rita Skeeter, and fight government censorship and control of media.

However, the Potter books also offer a constructive vision of journalism as a means to tell the truth. During the period of Ministry corruption and censorship, the editor of the Quibbler, a usually-unreliable tabloid paper, agrees to publish an interview with Harry, a first-hand witness to Voldemort's return to power. Harry's friend Hermione Granger conscripts Skeeter to write the account and for once report the truth.

When Skeeter complains that nobody takes the Quibbler seriously, Hermione replies that many readers are smart enough to tell the difference between good reporting and bad, whatever the source. She points out that the Prophet's stories have "gaping holes" in them, leaving readers hungry for "a better explanation of what happened."

Thankfully, in our part of the world, media remain mostly free from government manipulation. Citizens can help keep journalism honest by doing their own research and writing letters, op-eds, and blog posts. Citizen journalists need only recognize that they are ethically bound by the same rules of fair play and contextual reporting of all the relevant facts.

Ironically, despite the Potter novels' constructive view of journalism, a 2008 paper in the American Communication Journal blasts the novels for their allegedly "extremely negative depiction of journalism" that "could have an adverse effect on child readers."

The paper takes quotes out of context and omits important facts about the novels, thereby committing exactly the sort of errors the Potter novels warn against. You can read Ari's complete rebuttal of the paper at http://tinyurl.com/pottermedia, located at the web site about Ari's book, Values of Harry Potter.

The ultimate message of the Harry Potter novels is simply this: the truth matters. To get at the truth, we must consider all of the relevant facts, avoid temptation to omit uncomfortable facts, and consider the full context of a story. If we pursue the truth, whether we are professional or citizen journalists or consumers of the news, we can help build a better, more just society.

* The original video released by Andrew Breitbart does include a segment from Sherrod about changing her mind about not helping a white farmer. Breitbart's post also includes the following addition: "Correction: While Ms. Sherrod made the remarks captured in the first video featured in this post while she held a federally appointed position, the story she tells refers to actions she took before she held that federal position."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tancredo's Pitch

Many in the major media treat Tom Tancredo like some sort of loon. Many voters know only his views on immigration. He's running on the goofy minor American Constitution ticket. So why should anybody take seriously his run for governor of Colorado?

Listen to his presentation last night at Liberty On the Rocks. In his impromptu presentation lasting over half an hour, he was relaxed, confident, humorous, personable, and masterful. In other words, he is everything that the two Republican candidates are not.

Talking to Scott McInnis feels like talking to a pull-string toy. Pull the string, and you'll get some random, often incoherent comment that usually contains some variant of the phrase, "jobs, jobs, jobs!" Plus he often comes across as angry. Dan Maes has the heart but not the experience or ideological depth (or, apparently, much talent for figures).

Tancredo has the experience; as he reminded the crowd, he's served not only in state government but in the Congress. But he also has the intellectual independence. Before he was a politician, he led the Independence Institute, and since then he has remained committed to his ideas. He has been a politician, but he has not become a politician. (Or, in terms the Constitution Party might better appreciate, he was in Washington, D.C. but not of it.)

Tancredo might be easy to hate when he's quoted in the newspapers, but he's easy to love in person. He's just a fun guy. I find him mesmerizing, and I usually disagree with his policies. In the "who'd I like to share a beer with" charts, Tancredo easily competes with John Hickenlooper (the Democrat). (Now I'd LOVE to sit down with the two of them and share a few beers, with my camera rolling of course.)

Just consider how Tancredo handled the thee major questions he took, all hostile. I asked him, given his controversial positions on immigration and the so-called "personhood" measure (which he endorses), how he can craft a message that will resonate with mainstream voters (see 6:17 of the third video). He didn't quite answer the way I hoped he would; I was trying to draw out the other issues he'd emphasize in his campaign. But the answer he gave brimmed with heart and integrity:

"There we go back to this whole idea of what can I say to make people vote for me, even if I have to tell them a lie. I'm not gunna. And if you disagree with me basically on these issues, you will not. That's okay. I am not happy about the possibility of winning an election based on an nuanced campaign. I will leave that to other candidates."

As he was leaving, Tancredo also agreed to talk on camera about education, and his comments are delightful, even though he knows I seriously disagree with him on other issues.

Tancredo has been through the political fire and taken it well. He can handle himself.

In the fourth video, Tancredo replies to Elliot Fladen's pointed questions on immigration. Fladen rightly worries about Tancredo's protectionist justifications for immigration restrictions. (Fladen also doubts that Tancredo's statements of August 4 square with his previous statements on the matter.) Yet Tancredo handled the question well and at least made me believe he knows the relevant criticisms and has grappled with them.

Tancredo also comes off well responding to a question about breaking his term-limits pledge (something that has never bothered me).

I no longer believe that Tancredo will seriously consider dropping out of the race, even if the Republican winner of the primary vote drops out and the party picks a better replacement. Tancredo told me that signing up for a run with the Constitution Party and then dropping out wouldn't be the right thing to do (though I don't recall his exact phrasing). Plus, I think he really enjoys his political freedom and deeply believes in his new party's basic themes. (His campaign manager is Bay Buchanan, sister of Pat, who has worked with Tancredo before on the immigration issue.)

Tancredo is running for governor because he believes in his cause and he has the political strength to fight for it. Allies and adversaries do well to respect him.

Tancredo On Running for Governor

Tom Tancredo attended Liberty On the Rocks August 4 to explain why he's running for governor as an American Constitution Party candidate. (Liberty On the Rocks is nonpartisan and does not endorse candidates. Candidates from other parties have spoken there as well.)

I'll comment about his presentation and candidacy in a future post.







Tancredo On Education

I caught up with Tom Tancredo after his August 4 appearance at Liberty On the Rocks to ask him about his first signature issue: education.



Check back soon for more videos of Tancredo.