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February 10, 2010 12:10 AM UTC

The Eternal Delusions of Colorado Springs' Right-Wing Minds

  • by: davidsirota

(We continue to be fascinated with what has happened in Colorado Springs. If you haven’t been following, Colorado Springs is actually finding out what happens when you cut taxes and cut spending indefinitely (hint: it ain’t good) – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Springs councilman Sean Paige has a funny – and telling – screed up defending Colorado Springs from, well, the basic facts. He accuses my recent column and the Denver Post’s recent front-page story of “slurring” his city by reporting on the draconian budget cuts its anti-tax zealotry are now compelling.

I’m not quite sure how simply recounting cuts to police, firefighting, park services, road maintenance is a “slur,” but then, I’ve learned not to try to make sense of the eternal delusions of a right-wing mind. What I can, however, do is point out some of the “tells” – the poker term for a bluffing player’s giveaways:

– Paige says Colorado Springs attracts new residents and economic growth “by actually putting America’s limited government ideals into practice.” In this, he asks us to forget that one of the city’s biggest employers is the defense industry – that is, an industry that has absolutely nothing to do with “limited government” and everything to do with the hugest of Huge Government. Here’s the Colorado Springs Business Journal:

One of every three residents of the Pikes Peak Region depends directly or indirectly upon the military. According to the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce, the total economic impact of the military in Colorado Springs is $4.58 billion. This represents more than one third of the total regional economy.

That’s right, one of every three people living in the Colorado Springs area “depends directly or indirectly upon the military” – ie. upon Huge Government. Add in city, county and state workers, and you are probably approaching half of the entire Colorado Springs economy relying on the government. In that sense, Colorado Springs is an American version of almost pure Marxism: a city that is as close as any major city in the United States to being a full-fledged ward of the state (only one that is now planning to stop its road/park maintenance, cut police/firefighting forces, etc.).

Whether you support this kind of Huge Government or not – whether you think a city relying so heavily on military spending is a good or bad thing – that spending’s size and centrality to the Colorado Springs economy is undeniable, as is it’s antithesis to the concept of “limited,” small or efficient government. You don’t have to trust me, the guy who Paige calls a “statist” (do people even use that red-baiting McCarthy-esque word anymore?). You can look at the bloated $700 billion annual defense budget, or you can look to people John McCain and Don Rumsfeld who have repeatedly noted just how wasteful the government’s defense budget really is (I wonder if Paige believes McCain and Rummy are “statists,” too?).*

– As evidence that Colorado Springs is a great place, Paige cites magazine fluff rankings, many from right-wing business publications like Forbes. Frankly, I never said Colorado Springs wasn’t a good and decent place, and didn’t have real potential, nor do I wish it ill will. Quit the opposite: I simply argued that its tax and spending decisions are tragically threatening some of the very social fabric that would help it fulfill its potential. Maybe he believes that a city that will now severely slash its basic security and firefighting forces and its road maintenance (to name just a few things) is a way to preserve a city’s future – but my guess is many mainstream business people and voters would disagree.

– Hilariously, in puffing out his chest with fake outrage, Paige actually concedes the very fundamental point of my column and the Denver Post’s article. “Voters could have helped the city out several months back, by approving a property tax increase,” he writes. Yes, Paige correctly says voters could have helped their city out by doing that. And yet, he then says its a “slur” to say, um, exactly that. Odd…or, really, beyond odd. Insane.

So what to make of Paige’s incoherence? I’d say it’s a reflection of the incoherence of conservative ideology in general. The right will desperately paint the biggest of big government as “limited government,” attempt to change the subject, and then – preposterously – argue that it’s somehow a “slur” to argue something that the right quietly concedes. These are the eternal delusions of the right-wing mind – and as I said to start, it is a fool’s errand to try to make sense of them.

* To those right-wingers who might argue that the Constitution specifically calls for the funding of defense, and therefore massive Pentagon spending represents “limited government,” let me add two things: 1) The Constitution does not specifically call for a defense budget so wasteful that the Pentagon has literally lost $2 trillion (and here’s hoping nobody will actually argue that the Founding Fathers would be happy with that sad state of affairs) and 2) The Constitution has a “general welfare” clause, too – and yet, I don’t hear conservatives saying that, say, municipal police, fire fighters, roads, parks, etc. (much less national health care) represent “limited government.”


27 thoughts on “The Eternal Delusions of Colorado Springs’ Right-Wing Minds

  1. ….with my buddy who’s a CPT at Fort Carson. We had about 4 other Joe couples watching the game, with the associated kids, dogs, etc.

    One of the toddlers present managed to swipe a cell phone, active the pad AND dial 911. The parent was left to deal with the resulting fallout with the operator once he regained control of the phone.

    We were discussing what would happen next, and it was decided that since it was a 911 hangup, someone (cops) would be coming by the listed address for the phone.

    I joked that since we were in Somalia Springs, that no cops would be coming by. THAT got a stern reply from all the Joes present that THEY live in Fountain, not CoSprings, and would NEVER EVER live there, thanks to all the cutbacks.

      1. I was supposed to be in CoSprings around noon, but I spent the majority of the afternoon trying to rebook my Monday flight to DC….something I never succeeded in doing that entire day. For some reason, Southwest insisted I go to DIA to their counter, loudly state I would give up my seat on that next morning’s flight, and THEN they would rebook me later in the week at no cost.

        I got to Fountain at 1630, just barely in time for the kickoff. I then spent the remainder of the day catching up with my former enlisted partner-in-crime for many many many beers.

        NEXT time, I promise. If not, come and see me in DC the next time your political movement has a protest there.

  2. Somehow that sounds right for what is ailing them. They are the biggest charlatans the world has known in a long time. I feel bad for the normal people that have to live there.  

    1. .

      Folks here aren’t complaining, or even noticing, nearly as much as out-of-towners.  Lack of bus service for the low income residents is a scandal.  But the rest of it is mostly not essential, not right now.  


      SSG Dan had an anecdote about how the police didn’t respond to a 911 hangup, but also explained that it wasn’t an actual hangup, and that it wasn’t actually in Colorado Springs.  


      Sirota complains that we benefit from having a large, stable employer just south of town.  

      While this town was hostile to GI’s when I was growing up, it treated Zumiez like little Princes, whoever they are.  

      I have a poor memory, but I cannot shake the recollection of a gang of jock thugs from Palmer High – 6 beefy football players – stomping a lone skinny GI to death right in front of the Post Office downtown, just for fun.  

      I have been refused service at a Colorado Springs establishment (Winchell’s Donuts) because I was wearing an Army uniform, while airmen in uniform were seated and served.  

      So, yeah, this town doesn’t deserve to benefit from having Fort Carson contribute to its economy, in some respects.  But the town has put a lot of effort into courting the Army, despite the love-hate dichotomy.  

      But Sirota’s point is that he is jealous of Colorado Springs having the foresight to court a big, stable employer, and I concede his point that he is jealous.

      I’m not seeing the connection / conflict that he sees between a small government orientation and

      35,000 GI’s earning a paycheck, and 55,000 retirees getting a pension,

      unless he thinks they didn’t earn it.  If he believes that being in the Army is just another form of entitlement handout, free money, something for nothing, welfare, Social Security, whatever, then I do see his point, and he is wrong.


      Final note: Sharon, there are no “normal people that have to live” here, unless you mean those incarcerated in the county jail.  Everyone else is free to leave.  


        1. What I find most hypocritical is the rage that Focus on the Family fosters against those less fortunate. For example a mother whose husband has been killed in Iraq collecting welfare while they condone and promote capitalistic and corporate welfare.  One cannot compare the cost of corporate welfare vs. the cost to help a single mom; corporate welfare is at the top of the food chain. This in my opinion is morally bankrupt.

          Capitalistic and corporate welfare, the two evil twins are destroying our country and yet those on the right continue to ignore the fact that we do not live in a free market society where there is competition for corporations.  Our corporations are protected with our tax dollars from the ravages of competition while we force the poor and middleclass to compete for food, shelter and clothing; you know the basic necessities of life.  Indeed corporations are a protected class of citizens in our ever evolving remake of our democracy to a fascist state.  We protect these rogue companies by picking up the tab for their environmental waste and negative externalities and through regulation we protect them from competition. The government infrastructure built on the backs of the middleclass taxpayer dollars protects them through the issuance and enforcement of patent laws and through the regulation of insurance companies and banks while we force our seniors to purchase drugs at the highest cost imaginable. And we allow them to plunder our resources while the middleclass are left holding the bag.  

          It is for this reason that I have to disagree with you Barron X in your assessment of the people of Colorado Springs and why I agree with David.  As a former military brat who has lived on military bases from California to Maine I find the exploitation of our military for personal gain appalling all the more so because it is a FANATICAL religious cult profiting from the military in their back yard while dismissing the role that taxes play in our society.  Yes charlatans, impostors, fraudsters and quacks all come to mind when I think of those who partake in this sham.    

          1. .

            I understand that the basic reason that corporations exist is to make money.  I’m OK with that.  They have to provide something of value to get paid.  

            I understand why corporations don’t like competition.  It cuts into profit margins.

            I understand why corporations lobby politicians: to be protected from competition, regulation, fair taxation, in short, to get preferential treatment.  

            All of this makes sense to me.

            What doesn’t make sense is why any voter would vote for any major party incumbent, unless they are getting their money’s worth back from the bribes they are paying.  

            Republican politicians are all corporate owned tools.  sure.

            Ditto for Democratic office holders.  

            Just different corporations.

            While the two parties differ greatly on espousing specific policies and values, that’s just talk.  When it comes time to vote, politicians take care of those who have purchased them.  The rest is histrionics.  

            Get over the inconvenient fact that the ACP was founded by Christian fundamentalists who have no sympathy for your concern for the GBLT.  Overlook their apparent repudiation of social justice for illegal immigrants.

            Here’s the cold, hard bottom line – the ONLY way to get even a little bit of the hope and change that was promised in 2008 is to throw the bums out.  All of ’em, GOP and Dem both.  And the only way for that to happen is for people, a LOT of people, to vote for the same 3rd party candidate.  

            The Greens are nowhere this election cycle.  Your best interests, both the best interests of flaming liberal progressives AND the best interests of right wing nut reactionaries, is to rally behind a 3rd party that can actually win a couple of seats.  In 2010, only one 3rd party has a shot.  

            I guarantee you, if 5 seats in the US Senate and 15 in the House go to 3rd party candidates this November, the two major parties will sit up and take notice.  They will only respond to your concerns when they have no alternative.

            Otherwise, vote for one of those 2 corporate owned parties and you will get just what you deserve.


            1. But in the Democratic Party there is a small chance of electing honest candidates who represent the people.  I don’t see this in the Republican Party or these other parties that currently exist.  

              Personally I’d like to see more Independents like Bernie Sanders; now there’s a politician that truly represents all of us.  

  3. It doesn’t matter if it is a DailyKos poll or ColoradoPols commenting on conservative legislators introducing dead bills, the automatic response is outrage, blind frothing outrage, and we’re all suppose to quiver and apologize that the little wingers got upset.  I guess they believe that outrage will cover up for their lack of logic.  Raw lip quivering emotion is their magic talisman and get out of jail card.  

    Colorado Springs would be a mighty different place if had to live without all those government worker paychecks and federal construction dollars.  Colorado Springs conservatives hate government about as much as they can hate anything but they suck on its teat with all the gusto of a new born calf.  Political Sybils every one of them.

      1. I said you are little crybabies who get all outraged when anyone calls you on your hypocrisy like being anti-government in a city that is as big a government welfare town as there is in the world.

        Sirota was responding to the frothing outrage of one of the locals but now you are pretending that conservatives don’t play the outrage card.  Nice try Barron.  You’re not evil.  Just phonies who suck up government dollars without a second thought and then turn around and bash government as a bad thing.  Colorado Springs is a classic representation of the conservative movement.  Totally dependent on wasteful government (war is wasteful) but convinced that government should not help the poor.  What inglorious bastards.

      2. How about Colorado Springs is whore camp for the military?  Does that spell it out for you or should I come over and write it on the palm of your hand?

      3. who service the various government installations in the area, there are probably more government handout paychecks deposited in local Colorado Springs banks then anywhere else in the state.  The city stays afloat economically because of government handouts.  And the real kicker is that these oh so self righteous conservatives can stand in the middle of all this government Sodom and Gomorrah and proclaim themselves the patron saints of capitalistic enterprise.  What funny jokers they are.  Who believes that these keystone cop, culture war characters aren’t just pulling our legs with their funny pronouncements from the heart of government land.

          1. they receive their money from the government.  And at one time you were against the invasion of Iraq as a waste.  What a gigantic flip flop when it comes to lining your city’s pockets with government money.  

            What you are saying then is that some people getting money from the government are good but others are bad and you are the one who gets to decide which government programs are good and which ones are bad.  I have to disagree with you that bloated military programs which do little to actually secure peace around the world or make our country safer are worth spending hundreds of millions of dollars in your creepy anti-government town.  The point is you people hate government but rely on it almost exclusively for your economic base.  I don’t think Republicans are capable of blushing anymore over their rank hypocrisies.  

            1. .

              while I DO think the Iraq War a terrible waste of money,

              I don’t recall citing that as a reason to oppose that war.

              The whole thing, from the President transparently lying about the causus belli, to the President declaring war instead of the Congress, to using the US military to terrorize a civilian population –

              what else could “shock and awe” mean –

              that is one anti-American, unconstitutional endeavor.  

              But how do you blame anyone below the rank of Colonel for any of that ?  Those people either follow orders or they refuse to follow orders, but they don’t decide strategy or national goals.  

              I agree that our military is too big, and I cite as proof the use of our military to try to subjugate foreign peoples and make them abandon their traditional values through the application of kinetic military power.  

              I think that we should only use our military power after other alternatives have been tried and failed, and only to attack and destroy actual enemies or actual threats.

              I’d like to think that, if we didn’t have such an excess of military capability, then Presidents wouldn’t dare risk our national security by starting unnecessary immoral wars in order to aid their re-election campaigns.  

              Where I guess I have to disagree is that I hold the Colonels and Generals and politicians responsible for the misapplication of the military, not the folks in the ranks.  

              Neither you nor I begrudge a soldier, following orders as his oath requires, getting paid a fair amount for his time and effort, do we ?  Or collecting retirement benefits if he is wounded ?  

              I think we both agree that military service, particularly in the lower ranks, is genuinely service to the community (nation,) as opposed to holding political office, which generally isn’t serving the community so much as it is serving oneself.  


              I don’t agree that this town is being hypocritical by opposing big federal government, but then taking advantage of opportunities created by a too big government they oppose.    

              Maybe we are hypocritical as a community in opposing big government and then wanting a military big enough to rule the world.  I don’t feel that way, but many here do.  

              You may not believe this, but many communities do not want military installations near them.  


    1. .

      You askin’ me to buy you lunch ?

      OK.  Time & place ?

      Anybody else ?

      As far as that health department angle, I think I can tell a well-run restaurant from one that’s not.  While heath department inspections are a GOOD thing, whether or not a restaurant is a safe place to eat is really up to the management.  

      “All problems are management problems.”

      W. Edwards Deming


      1. I think I can tell a well-run restaurant from one that’s not.

        When we’ve had inspections reported in our local paper, I’ve boggled at many of those with poor and seriously poor inspections. Never would have guessed.

        What happens in the kitchen is definitely not always apparent out in front.  Bugs in open cans of food, used cleaning rags in the middle of the “clean dish” rack, open containers of food not refrigerated. All this and more in supposedly top-notch eating places.

        Do you take a 20-minute tour of the kitchen of every restaurant before you order?  

        1. .

          While I have been in the kitchens of several local restaurants, it wasn’t to inspect them.  

          While both my supervisor and I have worked in an industrial kitchen, and have obtained food handler certificates, that level of experience is not needed.  

          If you want to eat food prepared in a clean kitchen, do not go to a place that competes for the cheapest customers.  

          Don’t eat at a chain with 2,000 locations nationwide, because there is nobody in that facility with the authority to fix process problems.  Or any interest in fixing them.

          My favorite restaurant in Colorado Springs happens to be the best one, and that’s no coincidence.  There are 2 owners, and at least one of them is there every day.  After 20+ years, they still care about the dining experience of every patron.  If the Health Department reported something negative about this establishment, I would take that as an indication of a problem with the Health Department, not the restaurant.


          By the way, this advice applies to plumbers, attorneys and brain surgeons, too.  My advice is to make an assessment of the way an operation is managed.  That will tell you more than either an inspector or Zagat ever could.


  4. And I was cracking up laughing as I streamed it on my Blackberry at work.  Others who heard me laughing probably thought I was nuts but it was entertaining to hear a hypocrite get nailed over and over again.  And the guests mostly from Colorado Springs were as hard on the appointed City Council Member as you David and that says a lot about how informed your listeners from Colorado Springs are.

    Great show one of your best.

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