by Joshua Sharf | 10:15 am, April 9, 2013
As the US Senate begins today’s debate on gun control, Coloradoans can be forgiven for having a feeling of deja vu. That’s because the debate in Congress is intended to mimic the one in Colorado, and because it’s about politics, not about governance.
The one piece of the president’s broad gun control agenda that has survived public scrutiny is background checks on sales. This is a broadly popular idea, and even gun owners support it by large margins in poll after poll. But Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute has shown that in Congress, as in Colorado, while the bill will be sold as checks on sales, it actually does much, much more:
While the woman is out of town on a business trip for two weeks, she gives the gun to her husband or her sister. If the woman lives on a farm, she allows all her relatives to take the rifle into the fields for pest and predator control — and sometimes, when friends are visiting, she takes them to a safe place on the farm where they spend an hour or two target shooting, passing herover gun back and forth. At other times, she and her friends go target shooting in open spaces of land owned by the National Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management.
Or perhaps the woman is in a same-sex civil union, and she allows her partner to take her gun to a target range one afternoon. Another time, she allows her cousin to borrow the gun for an afternoon of target shooting. If the woman is in the Army Reserve and she is called up for an overseas deployment, she gives the gun to her sister for temporary safekeeping.
One time, she learns that her neighbor is being threatened by an abusive ex-boyfriend, and she lets this woman borrow a gun for several days until she can buy her own gun. And if the woman becomes a firearms-safety instructor, she regularly teaches classes at office parks, in school buildings at nights and on weekends, at gun stores, and so on. Following the standard curriculum of gun-safety classes (such as NRA safety courses), the woman will bring some unloaded guns to the classroom, and under her supervision, students will learn the first steps in how to handle the guns, including how to load and unload them (using dummy ammunition). During the class, the firearms will be “transferred” dozens of times, since students must practice how to hand a gun to someone else safely. As a Boy Scout den mother or 4-H leader, the woman may also transfer her gun to young people dozens of times while instructing them in gun safety.
These are not far-out scenarios. Kopel notes that “transfers” are defined very specifically in the bill, with specific exceptions. And lest “transfer” be read narrowly to exclude loans, where someone retains possession, time limits on such transfers are laid out. In order to escape such notice, guns could be “gifted” to family members, but presumably those gifts would be considered taxable events.
The bill does include some exceptions, designed to provide plausible deniability to senators who want to claim they’ve made reasonable allowances. Those exceptions are subject to such severe restraints so as to make them all but meaningless. This was largely the same legislative and debate strategy used here in Colorado, and for fun, count the number of times reference is made on the floor of the Senate to what happened here.
All of these scenarios will fly under the radar. The plan is for the press to continue to repeat the “40% of sales” myth and to deflect attention from the real burdens of the proposed law. Western Democrats will be given enough cover to present their votes as reasonable to the folks back home, and Republicans opposing them will have the Hobson’s Choice of either caving (and dispiriting and disillusioning their supporters) or appearing obstructionist and unreasonable.
It’s the same strategy that the Democrats used with the Violence Against Women Act: take a non-controversial piece of legislation, load it up with partisan baggage, and dare the other side to vote against it. It was a key element in the 2012 campaign theme of a “War on Women,” and it didn’t really have anything to do with governing. Obama and the Democrats now hope to repeat the same trick, and set up the 2014 Congressional campaigns as one of the Republicans against the Suburbs, newly-competitive territory which the Dems see as the key to long-term victory.
The bills, largely written by Mayor Bloomberg of New York, suffer from the same lack of public process, examination, amendment, and debate as Obamacare and the ill-thought-out, and supposedly much simpler, magazine ban rushed through the New York State legislature in the wake of Newtown. That’s by design; while the mayor and the president may be true believers in disarming citizens, President Obama is a greater believer in winning elections.
To thwart this strategy, the Republicans will have to do more than filibuster. Their amendments – and thus the floor debate – will have to be focused on the question of “transfers” and the absurd outcomes that this bill creates. They’ll never have a better time to make their case publicly.
Original Post: View From a Height » PPC
by Eddie | 4:29 pm, April 8, 2013
More than two-and-a-half years ago, the Colorado State Board of Education adopted the Common Core standards. Just this last December the State Board took another careful look at the decision, as this School Reform News article by my Education Policy Center friend notes.
For a number of reasons, the issue has gained greater national notoriety of late. I could link to a number of articles, but two very recent commentaries in the debate present a worthy read. School Reform News editor Joy Pullmann and Heritage Foundation analyst Lindsey Burke raise serious questions that need to be addressed.
To me, the Common Core looks like an empty vessel waiting to be filled up, for good or for ill. Some are more sanguine about where they might lead, despite real criticisms of the standards’ quality. Others are more concerned about the prospects, given the real dangers of federal entanglement. The latter is why next Tuesday, April 16, at noon eastern time, opponents have organized a #stopcommoncore Twitter rally.
In any case, little old Eddie (that’s me!) thinks we should focus mostly on the antidote: school choice. Recognize parental authority to direct their children’s education, promote great ideas like scholarship tax credits, and empower the people. Meanwhile, I’ll try to sort out everything else.
Original Post: Ed is Watching
by amy | 2:04 pm, April 8, 2013
Sponsors excluded from cost of own bill:
Two of the main State Senate sponsors, Senate president John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) and Senator Gail Schwartz (D-Aspen) conveniently carved their own districts out of the bill.
Because municipally owned utilities are excluded from the bill, Morse won’t have to pay the cost of his own legislation. While Schwartz evades the cost because Holy Cross, the co-operative that serves her district, doesn’t meet the bill’s 100,000-meter threshold.
If this government mandate is so good, then why don’t they include all of Colorado — including their own communities.
We care about the environment:
Expanding the definition of what is an eligible resource, including coal mine methane, is a good idea. However, including bio-waste while excluding hydroelectric makes no sense unless claiming it’s for the environment is just a verbal facade
If eco-left progressives really cared about carbon emissions, they would include hydroelectric in Colorado’s energy source mandate. As this blog mentioned just days ago, the EPA considers hydro a renewable resource and the Colorado Energy Office says emissions from hydro are on par with wind and solar. Furthermore, Colorado already gets significant power from hydroelectric:
Colorado has 1169 megawatts (MW) of existing hydroelectric capacity. Of that total, 82 percent is generated at facilities with a capacity over 30 MW—meaning it is not “renewable” unless the facility was built in the past eight years. Unfortunately, most facilities do not meet this requirement
According to the most recently released figures, renewables other than hydro produce 9.8 percent of the total net summer electricity capacity. If the total 1169 MW of existing hydro capacity were considered renewable, hydroelectricity would contribute another 8.5 percent of capacity. Instead, only 4.8 percent of hydroelectric power is considered renewable.
Two percent rate cap:
We’ve proved so many times that the two percent rate cap is a sham for Investor Owned Utilities (IOU), it’s amazing they keep advancing it. Sources from wholesale power supplier Tri-State Generation say this bill could cost anywhere from $2 to 4 billion for capital construction. That equates to $8,000 per meter. That will be a financial strain on the residents of the ten lowest income counties in Colorado that Tri-State covers.
Lastly, we’ve heard from other electric cooperative sources that they weren’t even included in crafting this bill. They simply will have to implement and pay for it.
UPDATE: Colorado’s electric cooperatives have confirmed that not one of them was consulted during the crafting of this bill, which will cost their consumers billions of dollars.
Original Post: Energy Policy Center
by Robt Ball | 8:45 am, April 8, 2013This is not taken out of context, this is a produced promo for MSNBC
Original Post: The Intermittent Blogger
by amy | 5:04 pm, April 7, 2013
Denver area eco-leftists have rural Colorado in their sights.
In a September 2012 letter to state legislative candidates, Colorado Environmental Coalition Executive Director Elise Jones (now Boulder County Commissioner) and Colorado Conservation Voters Executive Director Pete Maysmith implied that dirty air in the Denver metro area may be the result of rural Colorado’s not having a 30 percent renewable mandate:
While our largest utility has a 30% renewable energy target, most rural and municipal energy providers have only made a 10% commitment that is below the national average. Coal-ﬁred power plants and vehicles are contributing to the smog and dirty air in the Denver metro area, and Coloradans statewide continue to be exposed to harmful mercury and other particulate emissions.
Just last week, eco-left progressives in the state legislature introduced SB13-252 to require rural co-ops to comply with a 25 percent mandate by 2020, which is significantly higher than the 10 percent to which they have committed already. And today, Sunday, April 7th, I received this message from the Alliance for a Sustainable Colorado, a Denver-based leftist environmental group:
Did you know that in rural Colorado only 10% of energy is generated by clean energy sources, while other major Colorado utilities are on pace to produce 30% of their electricity from renewable sources before 2020? With abundant wind, plenty of sunshine, and an environment worth protecting, it’s time to recharge renewable energy in Colorado.
The Alliance for Sustainable Colorado is urging the Colorado Legislature to pass Senate Bill 252, which will increase Colorado’s Rural Renewable Energy Standard to 25% by 2020 by large wholesale electric providers who sell to rural electric cooperatives.
It’s important to note that electric cooperatives are very different from investor owned utilities such as Colorado’s largest investor owned utility (IOU) Xcel Energy. In particular:
- Co-ops are private, independent, non-profit electric utilities. While IOUs are for-profit
- Co-ops are owned by the customers they serve. IOUs are owned by shareholders.
- Co-ops are incorporated under the laws of the states in which they operate;
- Co-ops are established to provide at‑cost electric service. IOUs provide electricity with a guaranteed profit margin.
- Co-ops re governed by a board of directors elected from the membership which sets policies and procedures that are implemented by the co-op’s management.
- Co-ops serve an average of 7.4 consumers per mile of line and collect annual revenue of approximately $15,000 per mile of line. While IOUs average 34 customers per mile of line and collect $75,500 per mile.
This bill, if passed, will be wildly expensive for rural Colorado. Perhaps Denver’s eco-left doesn’t understand the cooperative business model, but what is worse is that this eco-left cabal seems to be ginning up outrage directed at rural Colorado.
Original Post: Energy Policy Center
by Randall Smith | 3:19 pm, April 7, 2013
It looks like President Obama is firing the first salvo in the battle to seize the savings of Americans. Their first target? Retirement accounts. The plan, as it's starting to come out, would limit the amount that individuals can keep in these tax-deferred accounts.
Under the plan, a taxpayer’s tax-preferred retirement account, like an IRA, could not finance more than $205,000 per year of retirement – or right around $3 million this year.
Yup. The government is going to decide how much a person needs for retirement.
The proposal would save around $9 billion over a decade, a senior administration official said, while also bringing more fairness to the tax code.
Did you catch the double speak? Confiscating more of your money is now considered government "savings". The money Obama wants to confiscate is the deferred taxes that are granted to those who invest in these types of accounts. IRAs and 401(k)s encourage long term savings by deferring the taxes on money placed in those accounts until it's withdrawn much later. In fact, there are heavy penalties if a person withdraws that money before they've reached "retirement age". Those taxes are not lost.
As an aside, I'd like to note that money in these accounts is not sitting idle. It's invested in companies, helping them to grow and employ more people. Apparently, Obama wants to discourage such investments in our economy.
Now, let's take a look at the other half of that last quote. Again, that magic word "fairness" shows up and once again, it proves that it does not mean what progressives think it means.
Let's consider fairness in sports. The NCAA basketball tournament has been played out over the week or so. Sixty-four teams enter the tournament and compete until one emerges as the champion. Every team competes under the same rules. It would not be fair for one team to have the standard ten foot hoop while the other must use a 20 foot hoop. Nor would it be fair for one team to be allowed 12 players while the other is limited to four.
To apply the logic from the Obama proposal to the basketball court, it would be as if baskets made after a team was more than ten points ahead or had more than 40 points would only count one point no matter where on the court the shot was taken.
Let's come back to the first point about how much a person needs. Progressives love to define need. No matter the topic, when they start drawing a line of need, it means that they will soon start outlawing possession above that line.
Look at the recent gun debates in Colorado and elsewhere. They declared that a person doesn't need magazines that hold more than ten rounds and then started to ban them. They declared that people didn't need rifles with certain features like pistol grips and then started to ban them.
Now look what they're doing with retirement accounts. They are declaring that people don't need more than $205,000 per year. The next step is obvious. They will begin to confiscate any money stored in these accounts above this magic number. The recent actions by Cyprus to seize the money in Cypriots' bank accounts proves that that will be the next step.
Americans have two choices to prevent this (short of revaluation). First, they can vote the looters out of office before such confiscation can take place. Second, the can pull their money out of their retirement accounts and stuff it under a mattress in the form of cash or something of actual value like gold.
Illinois is already taking steps in case people make the second choice. They are starting a statewide precious metal registry. As we've seen in the history of guns, registration leads to confiscation. It's already happened in American history. When private gold ownership was outlawed, the banks were closed while Federal agents raided safe deposit boxes to seize any gold stored within.
Despite the clear evidence to the contrary, President Obama has the gall to claim that citizens don't need guns to defend themselves from the government.
Original Post: Music Free Static
by Michelle Morin | 3:16 pm, April 7, 2013by Michelle Morin here. h/t Alice Linahan Excerpts from Harris-Perry’s own communist manifesto:
We have never invested as much in public education as we should have. We haven’t had a very collective notion that these are our children, so part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to their communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the households, then we start making better investments.This is great, Ms. Harris-Perry, I’m so glad we’ve finally arrived at this collective idea! Since they belong to all of us now, I look and “lean forward” to taking all “our” kids to Bible study with me! ———————————- Michelle Morin a conservative blogger and speaker for freedom and America’s founding principles. Join her for updates here.
Original Post: Michelle Morin » PPC
by T.L. James | 11:36 pm, April 6, 2013
UPDATE: Something apparently got messed up with the PayPal buttons during this past weekend’s database glitch – fixed now.
Yes, it’s that time again — PPC will be conducting training classes for center-right activists on Saturday, April 20 and Saturday, April 27, at Independence Institute in Denver.
The tentative class schedule is as follows:
- Saturday, April 20:
- Understanding Social Media – a short introduction to the sociology and psychology of social media; who uses it, how, and why?
- Twitter Fundamentals – getting started with Twitter, using Twitter to share your information and your views, establishing your voice and credibility, and common pitfalls and how to avoid them
- Effective Communications for Activists – avoid damaged relationships and inconvenient restraining orders by learning how to persuade others without annoying, hectoring, offending, or frightening them; how to handle kooks, crazies, and barking moonbats in political situations…and how not to come across as same
- Legal Issues for the Politically Active – knowing your rights as an activist and citizen journalist in Colorado
- Saturday, April 27:
- Social Media Tactics – a survey of common tricks, tropes, and traps used in social media by The Other Side…how to avoid them, and how to use them to your own advantage
- Blogging Fundamentals – introduction to blogging, including types of blogs, content generation, “blog etiquette”, and general best practices
- Privacy and Speech Law for Activists – what activists need to know about how privacy and speech laws affect them
Faith through Freedom – why social conservatives and churches are better served by the liberty of free markets than by government policy
WHERE: Independence Institute, 727 E. 16th Avenue, Denver - in the main events room (downstairs)
WHEN: Doors will open at 8:00am, with classes running from 9am to 1pm. Refreshments will be provided.
COST: $15.00 per person.
REGISTRATION: Please reserve your spot in advance via PayPal:
|Saturday, April 20:|
|Saturday, April 27:|
by Rossputin | 10:13 am, April 6, 2013
I’m always reticent to use these pages for appeals for assistance, but a friend of mine could use some professional advice that I’m not qualified to give and I’m hoping that someone reading this pages can be of direct or indirect help.
My friend is a Denver-area policeman, and a former commando in the Royal Marines.
He moved to the United States with his family, loves this country, and hoped to make his future here.
He was injured while on duty and suffered a jarring, twisting injury to his head and neck which has apparently caused disc dislocation/damage and perhaps other damage that I don’t fully understand. The disc is now pressing on a nerve which is causing him to lose his grip in his right hand. Losing his grip will end his career as a police officer and, obviously, dramatically limit any future employment opportunities.
He is not a wealthy man.
As it stands, he fears losing his career, his home, and his ability to stay in the United States.
He feels that local officials, the insurance company, and the workman’s comp system are treating him very shabbily, and he doesn’t trust their advice, whether medical or otherwise. So far, based on advice from an overseas friend of his who is a doctor, he has refused spinal fusion surgery. He also refused cortisone injections because when it was suggested to him was just when the news was coming out about the contaminated steroid injections causing meningitis.
If you are, or if you know, an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon or other qualified doctor who would be willing to see my friend and give him expert advice based on a basic examination (I’m not sure if he has imaging available to show), at little or no cost, I would be very grateful.
Please get in touch with me at rossputin(at)rossputin(dot)com if you might be able to offer any assistance.
Original Post: Rossputin.com
by Eddie | 1:41 pm, April 4, 2013
Let’s go over it again: Standardized tests are far from the be-all and end-all of education. But if we’re not going to put money in student backpacks and make schools directly accountable to parents, how can such assessments NOT be used as a key component of measuring student progress, teacher effectiveness, and school quality? If the test is broken, fix it or find a new one.
Nevertheless, the predictable overreactions return as more news this week filters out of Atlanta that shows the city’s terrible cheating scandal was bigger and more systemic than previously reported. I had thought of the comparison to students cheating on tests before, but a national expert picks an even better analogy:
Abandoning testing would “be equivalent to saying ‘O.K., because there are some players that cheated in Major League Baseball, we should stop keeping score, because that only encourages people to take steroids,’ ” said Thomas J. Kane, director of the Center for Education Policy Research at Harvard University, who has received funding from the Gates Foundation.
Now my faithful readers know I’m not a naysaying, “we ain’t never done it that way before” curmudgeon. If we find a better way to assess student learning, let’s go for it. Adaptive online tests offer hope of that someday, along with the promise of more secure systems that could better prevent cheating.
But what if the story has got everyone too fixated on the test itself? Writing at Dropout Nation, Los Angeles teacher Peter D. Ford III makes a provocative case that it’s some of his colleagues in the profession who bear more of the blame for giving students butterflies about standardized exams:
I suspect the Atlanta teachers caught up in the scandal were either not teaching content or curricula or weren’t teaching it well. Thus they felt pressure to cheat. I also suspect administrators were trying to achieve success in spite of the uneven content instruction. So they also felt the pressure to cheat. Improvements in student achievement doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years and a continuum of teachers teaching content to see real, consistent increases in student learning.
National columnist Cal Thomas also weighs in to make an even more radical case:
Instead, as Atlanta would suggest, public school children are subject to all manner of manipulation and disservice by people charged with educating them. Perhaps if parents had the freedom to send their children to a school they believed would offer them a better shot at true success they would fare better. Could school choice be the answer?
Anyone who asks that question is likely to get an affirmative answer from me, and this case is no different. Even in cases where students and parents exercise this kind of choice, they need reliable instruments to tell whether and how much learning has improved. Yet Thomas also makes a compelling argument that the education monopoly’s self-protecting cocoon itself feeds the pressure to deceive and manipulate.
With greater choice is where we will find truer accountability and responsibility. Time to stop blaming the tests, to insist on better overall instruction, and to empower families rather than bureaucrats with the most important decisions that matter. Will that approach eliminate cheating altogether? Certainly not. But it undermines the incentive without also undermining the expectation for better results.
Original Post: Ed is Watching
Praise for PPC From Our Lefty "Fan"
- "Zany-ass bombast-entertainment...Hackneyed weirdo communist pseudo-nostalgia" --Alan Franklin, ProgressNow
PPC Training for Activists
UPDATE: Something apparently got messed up with the PayPal buttons during this past weekend’s database glitch – fixed now. Yes, it’s that time again — PPC will be conducting training classes for center-right activists on Saturday, April 20 and Saturday, April 27, at Independence Institute in Denver. The tentative class schedule is as follows: Saturday, [...]
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