Work is all you need

(Something I wrote to share with my Facebook friends, many of whom are r*r*l folks. As am I.)

Throwing in a few thoughts on the latest media rave party. You know what I'm talking about — the proposal to make a new 51st state called North Colorado.

Let's get the main question out of the way first. Despite its emotional appeal (and haven't we all had fantasies about having our own state/country/kingdom/clubhouse where only our FRIENDS can play with us?), it's not going to happen. There are plenty of reasons — I know them, you know them, let's just move on.

A real thing that isn't getting much play is the frustration rural people feel about being ignored or dismissed by the movers and shakers in Denver and the Front Range. If any of you city dwellers think it's not THAT rampant, look around at the current coverage and comments.  What percentage is directed at the specific individuals and those who share their political bent…and what percentage is just mocking the "hicks", as though we are all part of a hive mind and can't wait to have a state capitol building that has parking available for our John Deeres?

In reading comments in assorted spots, I HAVE seen people who are all excited about the idea…possibly because it sounds like fun and there's nothing on TV anyway. "Let's you and him fight!" has been a certain type of person's cry since the dawn of time. 

What I am seeing a lot more of, though, are people who admit secession won't work, but ask what can be done instead, because the status quo isn't working either. The trouble is that there's an answer, but it's not an easy one. It's not dramatic and exciting.

It's work.

Not that long ago, Colorado's governor was from Holly. Little teeny tiny Holly, three miles from the Kansas border. You don't get any more rural than that. But he didn't become the governor because he was rural and it was Our Turn. He got involved from a young age, learning the ropes from the ground up. He learned how to work with people, how to get consensus so things got done, and a million other things *I* don't know (probably why I'm not governor, eh?).

A popular old saying goes, "My country, right or wrong." Not everyone knows the second, more crucial, part. "…When it's right, to keep it right, when it's wrong, to make it right." Getting online to gripe and threaten won't accomplish anything. (To be fair, that's a super-common noob mistake that most people eventually grow out of.) 

What WILL work is work. Working to understand how things get done, so you can get an idea of how to change what you don't like. Finding a group that seems to be getting things done and joining up to help. Learning the real enemies: ignorance, fear, greed, hate, and the things people do in service to those emotions.

You can say that I'm a dreamer. I'll take it as a compliment. Just don't leave me hanging as the only one.

In Others’ Words – Black Cowboy History

Black Cowboys of the Old West, Tricia Martineau Wagner. A ‘Twodot’ book from Globe Pequot Press, 2011, 978-0-7627-6071-8

Terrance Carroll posted about this book on Facebook. I bought a (used) copy, since we try to have as large and varied collection of regional history as we can make room for at our bookshop. As the title suggests, it is a collection of ten biographies of black cowboys who were so notable in their careers that the media of the time were compelled to report on it (while totally ignoring even the existence of thousands of other non-white ranch hands, estimated by some historians to be as much as 25% of the total workforce).

There’s good variation in the men chosen: rodeo champions Jesse Stahl and Bill Pickett, and part-time outlaw Isom Dart, as well as  working cowboys whose lives cover a multitude of different locales and specialties.  For example, Charley Willis’s musical inclinations led him to write the iconic song, “Goodbye, Old Paint”. George McJunkin spent years trying to interest the scientists of the day in the “Bone Pit” he discovered after the 1908 flood near Folsom, New Mexico. It took almost 20 years for archeologists to get around to inspecting the site that eventually cemented the concept of “Folsom Man” co-existing with and hunting bison 10,000 years earlier. It took more than 60 years for McJunkin to get official credit for his discovery.

The biography I liked best was of Bose Ikard, who was for all practical purposes Charles Goodnight’s partner, as well as a close lifelong friend. This could be because I know a bit of that history, but also because I consider the “Goodnight-Loving Trail” the best trail name in the history of the world.

What I liked least about the book was the author’s writing style. If I am interpreting the info page about her correctly, much of her experience is in young adult education. I think this is why the writing comes across as research notes that have been homogenized to minimize the risk of giving offense, then punched up to keep readers with a short attention span on the hook.  Not that I mean to imply the writing is bad — it’s not. Just not the style I favor when I am reading history.

I do highly recommend this book for the content, especially as a starting place to learn more about blacks in Western History.  (The bibliography is 14 pages!) After you read it, you can donate it to a middle school or high school library, where it could really do some good!

In Others’ Words – Poll!

Looking for some Pols input here. As you may or may not have noticed, I have been sharing book reviews about works related to Colorado, history, politics, or some combination thereof, and then inviting people to talk about what they are currently reading.  I thought it would be nice to have a regular thread that was, by topic, SLIGHTLY less ripe for flamewars.

After the first two, it occurred to me that having the title stay the same every time might be a bit confusing. Adding a date feels weird to me for some reason, though. So I decided to ask the group mind!

Distinguishing Characteristics - Which are the best?

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In Others’ Words (8.20)

World Corporation, King Camp Gillette, New England News Company, 1910

The so-called socialists some people claim are running rampant today are amateurs compared to the big dreamers of the early 20th century.  

I ran across this book because a guy doing a plumbing job for our beauty salon neighbor dropped in to ask me if I had ever heard of a book called ‘The Human Drift’. He is distantly related to the author, King Gillette, who wrote grandiose visions of utopia while also revolutionizing the shaving industry.

‘World Corporation’ is not only a treatise, but the actual documents of incorporation for this grand scheme.  The corporation filed in what was then the Territory of Arizona and published this book to invite the world to join them. They hoped that eventually all bank and trust companies would be selling their public stocks, with the goal of selling 5 billion shares in the US within 5 years.  The corporation offered Teddy Roosevelt a cool $1,000,000 to come on board as company president. (He declined.)

Simply stated, this group wanted to take over the world, in an open and above board way. All business everywhere would be a part of the World Corporation. The cream of humanity, the most intelligent and hard-working, would rise to the top to run the corporation. This would prove so successful that it would eventually eliminate the need for any other form of government.

Because of it being founded on the share-holder system, this World Corporation would belong to all the people in the world. Supposedly the total lack of competition would remove all inclination to hostility, greed and corruption. (Not sure how the ambition factor of people trying to prove themselves more intelligent than the next guy was going to be dealt with.)

This book is available as a free read on Google books. Definitely worth a look!

In Others’ Words (8.13)

Guide to Subversive Organizations and Publications (and Appendixes), Revised and Published December 1, 1961 to supersede Guide published on January 2, 1957 (Including Index). 87th Congress, 2d Session, House Document No. 398, Prepared and released by the Committee on Un-American Activities, U. S. House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.

Boy, the Government Printing Office used to whip books out like paper grew on trees, didn’t they? Although I’m sure the CoUAA thought this guide was pretty ultra super important….

It didn’t seem to take much to get labeled as a Communist front group and added to this roster. The Committee specifically warns against groups that say they are working for ‘peace’ or ‘civil rights’, because of course they are REALLY just trying to lure Americans to support communism!

Organizations considered “Totalitarian” or “Fascist” were listed in separate indexes.  I note without comment that “Shinto Temples” were in the Totalitarian index. Various names related to the Klan were listed under “Fascist”.

I see that some POD people (Print On Demand publishers) are offering expensive new printings of this book, but it isn’t all that scarce. You can probably find a good copy for under $10 including shipping.

What kinds of subversive things are YOU reading this week?

In Others’ Words

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

An alternate title to this little attempt to start a regular book chat might be, “The Best Books You Never Heard Of!” I’ll start with a short review of something rare or off the beaten path, then other Pols can join in with their own suggestions.

This week I picked:

Colorado’s War on Militant Unionism: James H. Peabody and the Western Federation of Miners, by George G. Suggs Jr. Published by Wayne State University Press, 1972 (Reprinted by the University of Oklahoma Press in 1991)

A detailed and well-researched look at both sides of the union issue during the governorship of James Peabody, 1903-1905. The author is even-handed in his presentation, giving credit where it is due, and blame in the same manner.

Gov. Peabody seems to have truly believed that “Business” and the investment money it could bring to Colorado was a greater good for the greatest number, well worth fighting to protect from the “radicals” who were using violent tactics to raise wages to $3.00 for an 8 hour day in the mines.  The author relies strongly on actual historical records from the officials’ involved, making this a highly useful work for anyone wanting to know more about the history of labor unions in Colorado.


Your turn!

In Others’ Words

One of the best things about having a used book store is the way sorting through potential stock on a regular basis multiples your chances of coming across unusual books. I thought it might be fun to start sharing some of the best finds (that are Pols appropriate) here.

My first bookpost is a kids’ book that tickled me red, white and blue.

How to Bake An American Pie, Karma Wilson, (illus Raul Colon), Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster) 2007, 978-0-689-86506-0

A fantastically fun oversized kids’ book, probably aimed at early to mid elementary grades.  The imaginative watercolor illustrations show a dog and cat chef  working together on making an American Pie. The tale is told as a poem, not overly long but full of truths presented warmly, with memorable imagery.

    “Preheat the world until fiery hot

      With a hunger and thirst to be free.

      Now find a giant melting pot

      On the shores of a great shining sea….”

If you need a new family Fourth tradition, get a copy of this to read aloud to the kiddos before the fireworks fest begins.  It’s fun and appropriate any time of year, though.


So what have you been reading lately?

Remember that Amazon/tax dust up?

I don’t know if people ever fully caught on to what the actual issue was. It seemed to me that most folks thought Amazon was just refusing to pay their taxes on items sold in the various states.

What they were (at least in the beginning) actually not wanting to do was send paper copies of the total of what each individual Colorado customer bought from them, so that Colorado could put the arm on the customers for Use Tax.

The cigar company this guy made a purchase from DID share that info. “Charles Stary was shocked when get got a tax bill from the state of Colorado saying he owed more than $132 in taxes and penalty for his $22 online purchase of a box of cigars.”

More here (I didn’t see this page listed as one of the media people we aren’t supposed to link to):…

Is this the first flake of an anti-consumer avalanche? Is there any way the state can possibly collect enough money to make up for the massive outrage and blowback this kind of campaign will generate?

It’ll be interesting to watch, anyway.

Amazon going with the new flow?

(This might not be easy to make work in Colorado, but Amy Stephens can consider herself at least partway “refudiated” – promoted by Colorado Pols)

An interesting news item hit a bookseller mailing list I’m on.

“Today, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, a bipartisan group of legislators, led by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and Tim Johnson (D-SD), introduced the Marketplace Fairness Act, legislation that would provide states with authorization to require remote sellers to collect and remit state sales tax. Joining as original co-sponsors of the bill are Senators John Boozman (R-AR), Jack Reed (D- RI), Bob Corker (R-TN), David Pryor (D-AR), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).”

It is strongly supported by the American Bookseller Association, which is trying to drum up encouraging letters to senators from its members.

Here’s the part I think Pols will find most interesting: [bold added by me]

Also coming out in support of the bill was  In a statement issued today, Paul Misener, vice president, global public policy, stated: “Amazon strongly supports enactment of the Enzi-Durbin-Alexander bill and will work with Congress, retailers, and the states to get this bipartisan legislation passed.”

We are pleased to hear about Amazon’s support,” said Teicher. “Despite its long record of vigorously battling sales tax equity, we welcome Amazon to the fold. As the bill moves through the legislative process, we hope we can continue to count on Amazon’s support.” (Mee-ow!!) [italics also added by me]

ABA is asking its member booksellers to urge their Senators to support the Marketplace Fairness Act. To make their advocacy outreach easier, ABA has prepared a template letter that booksellers can adapt and e-mail or fax to their senators. To access the letter, booksellers should go to ABA’s E-Fairness Action Kit, scroll down to their state, and click on the link for “Letter Supporting the Marketplace Fairness Act.”

There is an article here… that has a concise explanation of the bill.

My theory is that Amazon has been stonewalling the tax thing partly because there was always a slim chance it would all just blow over. BUT (I suspect) they’ve also been making software preparations behind the scenes for some time, in order to be ready to hit the ground running.

Within the last, oh, couple weeks, a new item appeared in the page a seller uses to sell via Amazon, a category to check off what tax category an item falls under. (!) That bill could pass tomorrow and I am pretty sure Amazon will be able to seamlessly take up the task for not only its own products, but the thousands of sellers who sell through their site. I think being able to say they are good to go, tax-wise, will make them even more attractive to nervous dealers who don’t want to mess up and get the tax boys after them!

Again, the last two paragraphs are just speculation on my part. But interesting, right?

So who has info on DIY renewable energy projects?

I have been mulling the beginnings of an idea for a while. Just went to one of those “Bottom Up” Hickenlooper-promoted forums in Lamar this week, and while many people would really like to see us turn the damn wind into something that would whip up something besides grass fires, a lot of other folks seem stuck on projects they totally love which can’t be implemented without the intervention of the Magical Cash Fairy.

But I digress.

We have a little book shop we started last summer, which has a couple nice meeting tables down the middle. We could start a group or club for people to get together and talk about making (maybe making and selling?) devices that would generate some energy for ONE home, ONE family. It COULD succeed and go viral, stranger things have happened.

What I want to know about are books, plans, projects and experiences that real people have already used in the real world. So I’ve started asking…and Pols is one of the places I am asking. Anybody got a helpful comment?

Another fine Rasmussen poll

(120% of respondents agree! – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Am I wrong, or ARE these the same poll guys some people were promoting to the skies a few weeks ago?

epic fail photos - News Poll FAIL
see more funny videos

Some graduate student level math there, boy howdy!

Who is Helicopter Garcia???

(Another good moment of levity in a tough last week of the election. – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Today I met a REALLY low information voter. I am sorry to inform you all that this incident ended up affording my family much hilarity…so of course now I’m going to share it with you.

I recently won tickets to ride the Royal Gorge train in a Facebook contest. The caveat was that you had to schedule on a weekday, before the end of October.

Between our new business, personal/family events and this being an election year, we have been pretty swamped for the past few months, and will continue to be so for the next couple of weeks. Maybe that was a factor in why we succumbed to temptation and played hookey today….

I did decide that I would at least do a LITTLE something by acting as a walking billboard.

After our highly enjoyable train ride, we bargain-hunted our way home. We were in the Goodwill in Canon City when an older lady came up to me, stared at my shirt, and wanted to know who the heck Helicopter Garcia was.

As politely as I could, I explained the first word on my chest was Hickenlooper.

“Who’s he?” she demanded.

“He’s, uh, the guy running for governor? Well, one of the guys.”

She recoiled with her lip curled, like I’d just pulled a dead fish out of my hair or something. “Oh! Well, okay, whatever….” With an insincere smile, she backed off and hastened away before any of my horrible political cooties could jump off onto her.

Now, when I say we laughed all the rest of the day, I don’t mean we were laughing at that lady (although I have to admit I hope she has volunteered to not be a part of the voting gene pool). See, we have an ongoing family joke that started when a much younger MrMike (far left) kept telling us he wanted to see the new upcoming movie “Manny Nascar” (Madagascar). We decided this movie was about the world’s most famous Jewish race car driver. (I’m pretty sure I would infinitely prefer this imaginary movie to the real one with the right name.)

Manny had a close friend and associate whose name came from a homework assignment about honorariums that MrMike tried to speed-fake his way through: Rabbi Martinez. We think he provides both spiritual guidance and advice on winning race tactics.

Now the guys have a new pal, good ol’ Helicopter Garcia. We think he’s probably the head of Manny’s elite pit crew.

I would still REALLY like to see this movie. Maybe after all the election stuff is done I could try my hand at a screenplay?

An uplifting message about bird-flight

(Something to think about while we wish Aug 11th would just get here already.)

The physiology of bird-flight makes an interesting analogy for our political process.

The whole thing starts with a specialized body part right in the center of the bird–the wishbone. Really. Without that light and flexible fulcrum, flight would not be possible.

The center is also where the strongest muscles are. They provide the power for flight.  Got to have the center!

Lighter muscles in the right and left wings keep the feathers aligned.  If the feathers don’t all go in the same direction and fit snugly together, they can’t create lift. So in the main parts of each wing, cohesiveness and cooperation are key.

Feathers out toward the edge are more flexible than the ones in the main part of the wing. They react to the rapid and frequent changes in the air so as to keep the bird moving smoothly on its course. The edge might be more radical in its action, but when the bird needs a quick response and perhaps a change in direction, that’s where it starts.

And of course out on the far tips of both the left and right wings is where you find the loon feathers.

But hey, they’re part of the steering process too. (Lucky for the bird those feathers can’t manage the flight process all by themselves!)

So when you start to despair, remember: it takes all the parts working together to let the eagle fly.  

Driving 500 miles for a Bennet vote!

I did! Yes I did indeed. I am so noble and committed and jazz like that, that I sacrificed most of my weekend and spent gas money and got a cramp in my leg and a bunch more stuff…because the fate of the world hinges on this election!!!

OK, I’m over-dramatizing. All the above is true…but I actually had a different motive for the drive. One of my brothers is moving and cleaning out his storage unit. He had a bunch of my mom’s stuff, and I went to get it so I could keep it here at my place for her.

It just so happened that because I was briefly in Denver, it was convenient for my truck-driving son to meet up with me there. I brought him his mail, which included his mail-in ballot. It’s now duly filled out (for Bennet) and mailed in, nice and official.

If you are saying, “So what?”, I don’t blame you. That was kind of my reaction to the exciting news flash about Romanoff selling his house.  The spin his group is attempting is a pretty good one…but the prosaic reasons underneath the dramatic top coat are just about as stirring as the reality of a four hour drive across the Eastern Plains and several hours of rooting around in a dusty storage unit. In Andrew’s case, he seems to have been planning to move anyway, and he’s only loaning the cash to his campaign. (Or so he hopes, I bet. Seems to me that could go wrong….)

Oh, wait, something actually a little exciting did happen. MrMike and I got to see some of the Solar Car Race entries on the next-to-last leg of their trip from Dallas to Boulder. Some amazing high schoolers there!

Bennet raises the dead!!!

(Equal time day: We had a bit of fun with StrykerK2’s parody of the new Bennet add a few days back.  Now, NeonNurse strikes back with a parody of her own that’s already sparking good commentary as a dairy.   – promoted by Voyageur)

(Untied Press)– Colorado’s Democratic Party remains divided after today’s surprising revelation of US Senator Michael Bennet’s newly discovered ability to bring the dead back to life.

While many of Bennet’s followers claim they approve of the development, his detractors prefer to point out the potential down side, such as the negative effect his power could have on those trying to make their living in the funeral industry.  Some suggest that raising the dead makes a mockery of science, while others say it only proves he is in league with the forces of darkness.

“If he thinks this makes up for him not using his magical powers to force both houses of Congress to enact a single payer health care bill plus give everyone in the country a pony, he’s sadly mistaken,” said one Romanoff supporter who wished to remain anonymous. “Now we KNOW he could have done it if he really wanted to.”

The formerly deceased individual could not be reached for comment.  

Hey, Kids, Let’s Clean Up Politics!

I’m not claiming to be an expert in all things political, but from what I have seen in our lightly populated rural area and read about elsewhere, it can be really hard to find new people to step up and run for office. There are, of course, a lot of reasons for this, but one big one is the average person’s perception that running for office is a dirty business.  The belief that candidates and their families will be instant targets for the mud-slinging brigade means a lot of good people don’t even consider the possibility of running.

Naturally no one admits to being in favor of negative campaigning. But usually when someone wistfully says it would be nice if we could stick to just the issues, as though we were all reasonable adults or something, those who are seasoned politickers wise in the ancient ways of How It’s Done say, “Yeah, well, it sounds good but you Have To Face Reality.”

As everyone who reads the various Colorado blogs already knows, a key plank in Andrew Romanoff’s campaign is that he is not going to take special interest money because it contributes to dirty politics, and that needs to Stop! Right! Now!  Strangely, if anyone suggests that this particular race for Senate might not be the best one to choose as the kick-off for fiscal purity, the response is basically that it’s always a good time to take a moral stand, even if that means you might lose. So in regards to this issue, Reality remains unfaced.

I know someone who used to love to corner people at parties and espouse anarchism as the ideal form of society. No argument could sway him, and his final fallback position was that it would work just fine…all we have to do is change human nature.

I hope I’m not asking for something as radical as that. But I DO think it would be a good idea if the people who are, by their own statements, gung-ho about the cleaning up political fund-raising thing would also get on board with cleaning up the level of discourse.  If you really want to clean things up, why settle for half-measures?

Tipping — Best (or worst!) word of mouth per $ spent!

(Having grown up in my grandma’s bar and working every job in the B/R business, front and back of the house, I absolutely believe in judging people by their tipping habits.  Shout out to my brothers and sisters clocking the sub minimum wage. – promoted by Danny the Red (hair))

One of my adult offspring is a server at a high-end fun food establishment in the Denver area. (Details withheld to increase paranoia for those I WILL name!)

Seems my offspring has had the opportunity to wait on GOP candidates Ken Buck and Cory Gardner (at different times). This has led my darling to the conclusion that Republicans are lousy tippers.

Maybe it’s the whole nostalgia for the past thing. Or in Cory’s case, maybe in small towns 15% still makes you come across like a big spender. It’s okay for a minimum in some generic big town places, I guess.

But if you spend the meal making a pitch for your server’s vote, you might want to tip like you MEAN it when you say you care about the regular working Joes and Jos.

This doesn’t just go for candidates. If you are wearing buttons, t-shirts, or even just talking up your party where the server can overhear, tip big! You are representing your whole slate, and you don’t want to make them look bad!

Let’s make the math easy and say your bill comes out to $100.  So your minimum for decent service is $15, right?

Add on $5, and when your name comes up in general conversation, your server is likely to say, “Oh yeah, that guy. He’s okay, a decent tipper.”

Add on $10 (25%), and your server will be bragging on you to all the other staff, plus their friends and family — not just that night, but multiple times before the election. It’s a positive word of mouth bonanza for a relative pittance.

If you don’t make tip threshold, or you have clearly figured out your tip to the minimum penny instead of averaging up, well, you still might get your campaign brochure posted on the bulletin board in the break room.

But it might look like the one at my kid’s place of employment, where there’s a balloon coming out of Ken Buck’s mouth saying, “I don’t know how to tip!”

Andrew and me and Andrew

Tonight I went to Las Animas to the annual Tri-County JFK Dinner. I brought along some of the 2D Politicians I made for our Prowers County Assembly Banquet as a donation for their Silent Auction. (I got new higher res shots of both Betsy Markey and Andrew Romanoff at the dinner, so I can make another set for us to display at future events.)

I’m a Bennetisa, but I am posting this pic to prove we can all get along, and even have fun doing it!

Andrew gave a good speech tonight, focusing on his strengths and accomplishments and his goals for the future. No ‘below the belt’ nonsense (and I am qualified to say that, because I was a certified tae kwon do tournament sparring ref back in the day). He couldn’t have been more circumspect and polite about the other donkey in the room if Bennet’s mom had been in the audience.

We Ds really are all on the same side in the long run. We should do our best to win our fights, but still be able to shake hands and walk away with mutual respect afterwards. I’m just sayin’.

Make your own 2D candidates!

We had special guest stars at the Prowers County Assembly Saturday! (Hillary was there too, but she went home with our County Chair, who’s a big fan.)

I used shareware called Poster (you can download it from, free trial, $18 for the full version, no I get no kickback for promoting it) to make your own. The attendees had a blast with them, taking each others’ pictures with their favorites and pretending to chat with them.

I recycled some leftover corrugated plastic signs (h/t Jim Bowen!) and cut them out with a Dremel, but of course thought of easier ways later.

You have to start with the largest sized digital photo you can find. The bigger and sharper it is, the better. Choosing one where your subject is wearing light colored clothes will save you some ink or toner.

The program divides your pic up into a grid. You can print the whole thing, or just the squares you need, as I did here. You can make it as large as you want. I chose a standard height of 3 feet, which accounts for the perspective difference. The idea was to ‘seat’ them at the tables at our banquet.

What I will do next time (besides starting sooner so I will have a better chance of getting ideal photos) is make a first layer by rubber cementing the grid squares (they overlap, by the way) onto poster board. I had a little bleed through problem with the signs in some spots. That way I can cut them out with ordinary scissors. If they need to be more rigid, I will lay them out on cardboard, trace around them, cut the cardboard separately and then glue the pics down. The Dremel cuts fast, but it’s easy to make mistakes.

Really, if I can do it, anyone can! Then you can have fun like we did, as seen in this pic I call Three Mikes, No Waiting!

(That’s my son MrMike, SD-1 candidate Mike Bowman, and of course 2D Mike Bennet.)

Pitt v. Clooney

Here’s the short version of the results at the Prowers County Assembly. The original county totals from Caucus were 26 Romanoff, 13 Bennet and 3 undecided.

We had quite a few who had previous commitments and could not come, plus we lost one couple because the wife had a stroke and will be in a rehabilitation center for quite a while.

The votes did not change much by ratio. None of the Us came. Romanoff ended up with 16 votes, and Bennet had 7. Because our small county only had 4 delegates to choose, we had to ’round off’. So we will be sending 3 delegates for Romanoff and 1 for Bennet (me).

I mention the details because I think it shows how much ‘slip’ there is between original numbers and what the delegate count will be. Maybe I am getting the math processes wrong, but it does seem to me that the rounding-up means the gap between the two contenders is smaller than it appears in the mirror.

But now for the main event! Because I am The Lone Delegate, the guy from our local radio station who was covering our assembly asked me for some sound bites.  I expanded on what I’d said during the assembly, that we have two such good candidates that it is going to be hard to choose, like deciding whether to go on a date with Brad Pitt or George Clooney.

During the long ride home from Holly, I got to thinking. Since I am for Bennet, and since the actor match-up was my idea, do I get to say which actor represents Bennet? Because of the two, I prefer Clooney. But I have to admit that George would be a better match to play Andrew in his bio-pic.

So — should Clooney play the Romanoff role? Should Brad be Bennet? Or are there better matches I’m not thinking of?

Funny Caucus Story

We had such good luck with having a group precinct caucus in 2008 in Prowers County that we decided to do the same thing this time. As the 2nd Vice Chair in Charge of Helping Get Stuff Done (and the only member of the Central Committee with a laptop), I was in charge of using the spreadsheet of registered Dems that State HQ had provided to direct people to their precinct table.

So I was sitting there at a table by the entrance when another member of our CC came bustling up. She wanted to know if I had gotten the email she had forwarded around that morning.

This email was from the Romanoff campaign, warning their supporters about various sneaky tricks they had somehow heard the Bennet people were planning to pull at precinct caucuses. I had read it with interest, wondering why I hadn’t gotten the memo guiding me to nefariousness. (I miss all the fun!)

I told her I had indeed gotten her forwarded email, and that so far I had not seen anything improper happening. I couldn’t resist teasing her a little, though.

“But you know those Bennet people who were going to show up early and pretend to be in charge of stuff?” I waved at myself and my laptop. “I’m afraid I’m one of them.”

Expectations (R v. B)

Here’s a premise: Stress can be caused by unrealistic expectations. In addition, unspoken expectations can cause stress in all types of relationships.

It seems to me we can see this in the current hullabaloo about the Democratic Senate race primary.  I thought maybe if we could list some of the unspoken and/or unrealistic expectations we are seeing — not only the other guys’, but our own too — we could get a start on a dialog that could tone down the extreme rhetoric.

Or maybe I am delusional.  We’ll see.

I’ll start. Feel free to argue mine or add some of your own.

1. Entitlement: This one has already been discussed a lot, but it still pops up — is Romanoff ‘owed’ the Senate seat? Does Bennet ‘own’ it? Are there some entitlement issues going on here?

I have personally seen and heard people make the argument that Ritter should have picked Romanoff instead of Bennet. Back when it happened, I agreed. Today, I think Ritter might have known what he was doing. Bennet has climbed a steep learning curve and done a very good job for someone who never held office before.  I’ve seen him in action with a hostile crowd, and he has excellent skills at listening and creating consensus in that kind of environment. On the other hand, although I believe Romanoff has a superb record of accomplishments, some of his choices in the race thus far make me think he’s having some kind of mid-life crisis. (Been there, done that, wearing the t-shirt of sympathy.)

People have also said that since Bennet is the incumbent he should be allowed to stay. I admit I have had to make an effort to shake free of this one.  I’m of the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ school. But believing in democracy means believing in the freedom of the voters to choose. So no, Bennet should have to get in and scuffle just like anyone else.

Summation: The entitlement expectation is a high stress provoker because it is one of the weakest real life reasons to keep OR replace someone in any given seat.

2.  More progressive than thou: One example of how we are seeing this is in the money question. Does it show higher moral values to refuse certain types of contributions? Some people think so. Other people think in a big and important race like this one, it’s naive not to accept all the help you can get.

I think the expectation here is that REALLY WANTING a good idea to be both true, and workable in the real world, should be enough to make everyone agree to accept it.

Summation: The expectation that everyone SHOULD embrace morally upright ideas automatically BECAUSE they are ‘good’ is definitely going to be a source of stress when those who remain unconvinced resist. This core expectation is at the root of quite a few causes of the morality type that have avid followers on both sides: abortion, gay marriage, etc.

3.  Power: This one is more subtle, and is two-pronged as well, which complicates it.  We want to feel our chosen candidate is going to be powerful in taking action on the matters we care about. We assume that anyone elected to public office has a huge amount of power, because they demonstrably have more that WE do as regular citizens.  Therefore, our unspoken expectation is that, say, Bennet has this extreme power and he could pass the Public Option if he really wanted to.  Since he didn’t do it…there must be some secret reason why he didn’t!! Either that, or he is actually NOT powerful, and thus should be replaced.

Summation: It might be helpful to re-examine exactly what we expect from our chosen candidate, and decide if it is reasonable. Reality-based, if you will. There is nothing wrong with having high standards, but expecting perfection will definitely bring on the stress.

4. The Mirror: You are supposed to be a (Democrat, American, __ ) like me, so you should agree with me! (This one needs no expounding on, right?)

Summation: It can be stressful when someone we thought held the same beliefs as us turns out to disagree with us about something, especially something important. It can make us doubt ourselves, which is usually an uncomfortable feeling.

Conclusion: I’ve taken some time over this post, and tried hard not to be snarky. The reason I shared my own expectations here and there was to give examples,  not to try to lure people over to my side. I’m hoping this can be a useful conversation. It might not change minds, but if it makes each of us more aware of what unspoken feelings are driving us, we might feel less stressed out. I’m also hoping it will help us accept the idea that other people may well be unrealistically expecting us to think the same way they do, and they are mad at us because of that, not because either one of us is bad and/pr wrong.

But what do YOU think?

If Bennet is doing such a bad job…

(Let’s see if I remember how to do this.)

…why is he so high on the list of Dems the GOP hates?

(Click on the little one to see the big legible one.)

See, somehow (by accident I SWEAR) I got onto the NRSC mailing list. Today I got this little beauty of a fundraising email, asking me “Which Democrat running for Senate in 2010 do you want to see defeated the most?”

And just look who is right up there on top!!

Now I’ll bet my favorite dog the Romanoff campaign is NOT behind this. But it really makes you wonder why the GOP is so against our current Senator.

Any ideas?

(X-posted liek woah)

What Schultheis shows us

As you probably already know, Republican State Senator Dave Schultheis shocked the public last week by accidentally saying something he really meant out loud.  

He explained he could not vote in favor (a second time) of a bill that would require HIV testing for pregnant women, because it would help them escape from the consequences of their sexual promiscuity.  Well, it wouldn’t help them so much as their BABIES, but see, dealing with a sick and probably dying child would teach the mother and her family valuable lessons about the right way to act.

What Sen. Schultheis has done, aside from earning the scorn and contempt of anyone with even a modicum of decent human feeling, is give us a sterling example of why separation of church and state is such a good idea.

Where he went so very wrong was in trying to present his faith-based belief as a rational argument. Not ONLY because he’s no good at reasoning through a dilemma and coming to a sensible conclusion that matches his avowed belief system. That part is probably due to lack of practice. Among religious extremists, analyzing beliefs is frowned upon. Hey, they’re called beliefs for a reason — you are SUPPOSED to BELIEVE them without question!

What lies beneath the surface of many faith-based beliefs is an attempt at social control, a desire to make everyone join their world view of shalts and shalt nots and nothing in between. What they claim to want and what they REALLY want are often two entirely different things. Trying to rationally explain a belief like this is likely to result in a bright spotlight blazing directly at how the person of faith REALLY feels. As it did in this case. Oops.

Of course those who freely choose to believe the rules of a given religion and follow it have the fundamental American right to do so. But real life in the real world is infinitely complex. No matter how hard they pretend it isn’t, try to pretend that ALL answers can be found in their holy text, or the words of their religious leaders, the stubborn real world doesn’t give in and simplify itself to suit their need to ignore the hard issues.

That is why making the law, and judging compliance with the law, must stay within the realm of reason as much as possible. It is not the place for wishful thinking, or rigid adherence to one sole way of dealing with the problems of life.

Sen. Schultheis needs to stay in our memories and be held up as a prime example of how dangerous moral conviction without a damn lick of sense can be.

He expressed this hope. “…it may make a number of people over the coming years begin to realize that there are negative consequences and maybe they should adjust their behavior.”

Perhaps he will clue up and see how very strongly these words apply to him.

I may be a rationalist, but I do believe miracles SOMETIMES happen.


Past Posts (Personal, not Political) can be found at The Neon Nurse’s Charting.

Something old, something new

No, no one I know is getting married. I just ran across an interesting link to a page for some people who want to re-start the Whig party.  Interesting stuff!

This could be an idea whose time has come. I’ve seen quite a few online laments in the past few days from Republicans who feel that the Radical Right has swiped the party they thought they knew out from under them. I can understand them not feeling ready to switch over to the Dem side. So maybe a new centrist party is the answer.

What would be needed to make that work, of course, is a radical change in how elections are run (and good luck with THAT). It could be done, though. Ken Gordon from here in Colorado proposed a change only a few years ago that would work well. It’s called run-off balloting.

What that means is that voters could add a second choice to their ballot.  Let’s say in a pretend race we have the A, B, C, D and E parties represented by candidates.

We’ll call A and B the long-time traditional parties, who used to be the only games in town. But the new C, D and E parties have strong core groups of supporters and a lot of fresh ideas, plus it’s something new so they are getting a lot of media coverage.

So when the votes are tallied, wow, shock! NO ONE got over 50%, which is the minimum required to win outright.  It came out like this A: 30%, B: 29%, C: 9%, D: 12% and E: 20%.

The lowest number of votes were for the C candidate, so he’s out. Now the second choice votes of that candidate’s supporters come into play. They are added to the totals of the votes for the other four candidates. Now the count is A: 31%, B: 30%, D: 12% and E: 27%.

Still no 50%, so we go again, now taking off the D candidate and counting the second choice votes.  That brings us to A: 34%, B: 32% and E: 34%. Wow, getting exciting now, eh?

B is now eliminated. (Let me pause a second to say this is an over-simplified explanation, because some of the D 2nd votes might have been for the C candidate in the second round, and some of the B’s 2nd votes might have been for Ds and Cs. So it would take a lot of figuring and rules to work out the details, and probably computers as well, and…yeah. Plus it would come down to individual votes rather than percentages. But let’s press on, shall we?)

Basically whichever candidate, A or E, gets at least 16% of B’s voters 2nd choice votes gets boosted to the magic 50% number and wins the election. Since A and B have historically been rivals, E stands a very good chance of being the winner!

Like I said, a highly simplified version of the process.  I probably won’t see it in my lifetime, but who knows? Fun to think about!