Hal Bidlack: Colorado’s next congressman

By Phil Plait | March 30, 2008 9:00 pm

My very good friend Lt. Colonel Hal Bidlack is running for Congress.

He’s running for a seat in the House of Representatives for Colorado’s 5th District. This is Colorado Springs, home to conservative icons like the Air Force Academy and (shudder) Focus on the Family. This is not a stereotypically progressive place.

Hal’s running as a Democrat. And I think he can win.

The incumbent, Doug Lamborn, is a Bush lackey, and a neocon of the worst sort. His votes on the Floor align with whatever Bush wants virtually every single time. That will be quite the dead weight come November. His voting record speaks for itself. The guy has to go.

Hal, on the other hand, is someone who can think for himself. As he said to me recently, he’s a western Democrat: he thinks the government should stay out of our business when it doesn’t belong there, that the Second Amendment is a pretty good thing, and that we shouldn’t spend money when we don’t have it. Radical, eh?

You can read all about Hal’s excellent qualifications on his Wikipedia page and his campaign site (you can join his fan base on Facebook, too). But they don’t tell you everything about him, of course.

I met Hal at Randi’s first Amazing Meeting in 2003. He struck me as an upright guy: smart, funny, warm, and, oddly, polite. We hit it off pretty quickly. He was the MC for the meeting, and during a panel I was on he gently teased me, and I gave it right back to him.

But it was what happened earlier that solidified Hal in my mind. About an hour before I was to speak, the Space Shuttle Columbia broke up upon re-entry over Texas, killing the astronauts and putting NASA into a tailspin itself. I was rocked, as was everyone, of course.

Hal was asked to announce this at the meeting, minutes after it happened. With only moments to prepare, this is what Hal said:

The space shuttle Columbia was lost a few minutes ago. At 200,000 feet over Texas, NASA lost contact and images from the ground show the shuttle breaking up and impact is reported north of Dallas.

Now listen to me. I’m a career military officer. This is a tragedy. But these people were doing exactly what they wanted to do, in exactly the place they wanted to be. When Dave Scott set foot on the moon on Apollo XV he said, “Man’s fundamental nature is to explore, and this is exploration at its greatest.” Gus Grissom gave an interview a week before the fire on Apollo I and he said, “if there’s an accident, for God’s sake, don’t let it stop the program.” This is a tragedy, but they understood, and that’s what we do in the military.

We’re going to take an hour break. We’ve got TVs in the lobby. We’re going to try to put a TV into this signal and of course you can go up to your rooms if you wish. And in an hour; let’s call it 11:30, that’s an hour and 15, we’re going to continue the conference because I believe that it would be an insult to their memory to deny this audience the information that we want to give it. We can mourn, and we shall, but with dignity and grace, and remember that the space program is an amazing thing. I know astronauts. They were where they wanted to be.

Hal Bidlack stood up and gave that speech without notes, just saying what needed to be said. It speaks of a sharp mind, a grasp of reality, as well as a human viewpoint that showed in its own way our ability to overcome even major obstacles and succeed. In that short speech he was able to convey the sorrow we would all feel once the shock wore off, but he was also able to turn it into inspiration.

That’s just how Hal is.

I don’t live in Colorado’s 5th District, so I can’t vote for Hal. If you do live there, I encourage you to investigate the issues and vote as you see fit.

But if you don’t live there, you can still help put a good man — one of the few — into Congress. If you are an American citizen, please consider donating to Hal’s campaign fund. You know how very rarely I ask for something like this, so I hope you understand how important this is.

Hal deserves to get a chance to make things right in this country, just as much as we deserve to see them made right. That’s why I am officially endorsing Lt. Colonel Hal Bidlack for Congress, representing Colorado’s 5th District.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NASA, Piece of mind, Politics, Skepticism

Comments (69)

  1. GAZZA

    You know, to be honest I’ve never been a big fan of Hal’s (having met him at a TAM). But I have to say – Phil is absolutely right here; he WOULD make an excellent Congressman, due to many admirable qualities.

  2. Hal is a wonderful, beautiful person. If there’s anyone on the planet with more heart and sincerity than him, I’ve never met him.

  3. Stephen

    Phil, I hate to burst your bubble, but there is doubt that Lamborn is even going to get the nom for the Republicans. So, while Hal would be a good matchup against Lamborn, it might not even happen. Both Jeff Crank and Bentley Rayburn (another former military man) have strong primary campaigns running. Besides, this is Colorado Springs. We’d vote for a dog wearing a hat as long as it had an (R) next to it’s name.

  4. I don’t know a thing about him, apart from what is written here. But that response on the Columbia disaster was inspiring.

  5. Christian X Burnham

    He sounds great!

    I’m sorry, but I feel compelled to point out that part of our problem as a species is that we still revere images of people in military uniform in front of a billowing flag.

    It’s a delicate matter, because the people who serve *are* heroes, but such images have been used for eternity to gain support for dangerous and foolish military adventures abroad.

    We need to appreciate that a photo of a nurse, or a school-teacher or a fireman, or a scientist! is in many ways a greater affirmation of our culture and values than a photo of a soldier in front of a flag could ever be.

  6. Reed E

    Christian: in case it’s not clear from Phil’s post, Hal actually is an educator. He has been teaching American government at the USAF Academy, at least until stepping into the political ring.

  7. Caleb Turberville

    I couldn’t help but point out that the Lt. Colonel looks a helluva lot like KURT RUSSELL!

  8. Kimpatsu

    @Stephen:
    “We’d vote for a dog wearing a hat as long as it had an (R) next to it’s name.”

    And an incorrect apostrophe in its sentence?

  9. I wish I lived in Colorado to vote for him. I am an American though, I’ll see what I got in the piggy bank.

  10. Sheldon

    I’d like to know where he stands on Gay Rights. I’m a single-issue voter here in CA, and I don’t give money to people unless I know where they stand on that.

    Is there someplace I can get this information?

  11. Quiet Desperation

    He’ll get elected and… nothing will change.

    Sorry, folks, but I sold my rose colored glasses a long time ago. The sun could be shining out of his ass and I don’t think I could muster a single “Rah!”

    His web page has a lot of generalities. I’m 42 and encrusted in jade veined with black hearted cynicism. I paid $54,200 in taxes last year only to watch most of it go to fund utter bull****. I need more to be impressed.

  12. Quiet Desperation

    I’m a single-issue voter

    Yeah, good luck with that strategy. It’s worked so well in the past.

  13. Stephen

    Kimpatsu:

    Sorry, I didn’t proof read. You’ll live.

  14. I am officially endorsing

    I had to laugh. I think you’re tongue-in-cheek here, but if not, what part of this blog is unofficial?

  15. Alex Lyman

    As a 5th-Districter, I’m going to have to agree with Stephen on this one. The dog in the hat takes it. Of those that wouldn’t go for the (R) next to it’s name, most of the folks around these parts would vote for the one with a hat.

  16. Darren

    @Quiet Desperation:

    Like Michael Moore or not, sometimes he lends a comment worth something. In Sicko, he pointed out that France has a high voter turnout. The government is afraid of the people and as such listens to the people. The US government isn’t afraid of the people. The people don’t elect government officials, special interest groups do, because not enough people are getting out to vote. Instead people feel that their lot in life won’t get any better, so why stir things up.

    Thomas Jefferson thought that a little rebellion was good in a democracy. It lets the government know that they need to heed the will of the people. The civil rights movement, the labor movement, the women suffragettes brought changes in the US because the politicians became afraid of what the people would do.

    I’m an American living in Canada and I have seen the United States slip into a quagmire of fear and desperation under the Bush administration. Crossing the border into the US has become a nightmare because of extra security measures to keep the US safe. I traveled to TAM in Las Vegas and every time that I had to pass through security I was randomly picked for a thorough check. That was likely because I bought my tickets while in Canada.

    Americans need to rise up and let their voices be heard again. Forget Brittany Spears and Lindsay Lohan. Our children won’t be safe until we the people are running the United States of America again. Congressional leaders need to listen to us, not the corporations and special interest groups that are financing the election chests of our congressmen.

  17. BMcP

    he’s a western Democrat: he thinks the government should stay out of our business when it doesn’t belong there, that the Second Amendment is a pretty good thing, and that we shouldn’t spend money when we don’t have it. Radical, eh?

    To be frank, I am only going to believe that when I see a Democrat already in Congress stick to those principles, I need evidence, proof, not their words. Words of politicians mean nothing.

  18. Radwaste

    I can’t agree that “Our children won’t be safe until we the people are running the United States of America again”. Not only is it a tired thing to bring up the “for the children!” scare, you obviously only have to look at what “we the people” are doing to wonder where their brains went. They can’t even figure out how to look at voting records – a far more reliable indicator of a candidate’s worth than election-day rhetoric.

    Those of you who want to know just how NASA let the astronauts down – it’s pretty disgusting – can look at the Columbia Accident Investigation Board report.

  19. Mark

    Hal would have a chance if voters actually listened to the candidates and learned what they stand for. Unfortunately, the majority of voters just look for that little letter after the candidates name.

  20. He sounds like a great guy and wonderful candidate! If I lived in Colorado, I’d definitely vote for him.

  21. KC

    BA:

    I’m worried about something: Today’s campaign laws are so arcane that it’s easy not to know where the lines are. To me, anyone should have the right to endorse a friend; really, anyone should have the right to endorse whomever they please. But the law might see things differently.

    If you haven’t already done so, please enlist the aid of a Colorado lawyer and find out what is and isn’t permitted under things like McCain-Feingold. Maybe you’ve already done so and are in the clear, and if so, carry on. If not, I’d really, really check which an attorney.

    I would *think* what you posted is okay, but I’m not a lawyer, and what I think in regards to the law isn’t worth a hill of beans. I don’t have a clue whether this is okay or not, but a lawyer should. It would probably be a good idea to keep yourself covered.

  22. TheProbe

    He has an uphill fight. With numbers regarding vaccine uptake in the Denver Post editorial, it does not seem that the populace is pro-science:

    http://origin.denverpost.com/opinion/ci_8733138

    Hope I am wrong.

  23. “The government should stay out of our business when it doesn’t belong there” – yeah, because hands-off deregulation worked so well for the financial markets.

    I would argue the government should stay out of our personal lives and not infringe on our personal liberties, but businesses clearly need to be regulated.

  24. Pete

    If elected, Hal should enter Congress dressed as Alexander Hamilton.

  25. Blu-Ray-Ven

    i would vote for him, but i live in indiana.

  26. @Cyde:

    “The government should stay out of our business when it doesn’t belong there” – yeah, because hands-off deregulation worked so well for the financial markets.

    Uhh… how does “stay out of our business”, which to me translates to one or both of, “protect personal privacy” or “protect states rights”, depending on the context, have anything at all to do with deregulation?

    Or, are you, as it would appear, simply bringing up your own pet peeve in the guise of a pretty strawman in a jaunty hat just so you can firmly knock it down?

  27. Gary Ansorge

    I will vote for ANY scientist or techno nerd running for office. They may be no more effective than any other individual but at least their errors are correctable, something which can’t be said for a conservative fundie.
    Since I live in Georgia, all I can do is send Hals campaign $ 25.00. Hope it helps,,,

    GAry 7

  28. Sheldon, email him. I’m sure he’ll reply when he gets a chance.

    Cyde, I agree with Brett. I phrased that sentence carefully: government should stay out of business where it doesn’t belong. Given that deregulation has been an unmitigated disaster, government obviously belongs there. The Invisible Hand of the market sometimes needs the government to slap it.

  29. Daffy

    I would vote for him of I could…a long while ago he had HUGE amounts of abuse flung at him from some very childish cretins over at Randi.org…and he handled it all with extreme grace and professionalism.

    Good on him…I hope he makes it.

  30. Matt Garrett

    Other than the fact that you’re obviously a fever swamp MoveOn.Org type, can you please move beyond your Bush Derangement Syndrome and SPECIFY why the current Congressman has to go? Linking to his voting record only shows he voted yes or no to resolutions and provides no DETAIL about that those resolutions are about. As such, you’re declaration that he “has to go” has little meaning, BA.

    I know you want to support your friend, but for a guy who prizes information and fact over rhetoric, you sure have gotten lost in it.

  31. Matt, providing a link to Lamborn’s voting record gives people an opportunity to see how he voted. That’s the point. I could make a long list of the Orwellian things he has voted for, but there’s no need, because I provided a citation. Sometimes it’s up to the voters themselves to do a little work.

    Bush Derangement Syndrome. That’s funny. Orwellian as well, but funny.

    Nice ad hominem, too, by the way.

  32. Aerimus

    Matt Garrett Said:
    “Linking to his voting record only shows he voted yes or no to resolutions and provides no DETAIL about that those resolutions are about.”

    I’d go one further. It’s not enough to know how they voted and the information on what the measure was about, but you need to know WHY they voted that way. Sometimes good bills get marred with poor mechanisms for implementation, or additional, unwanted additions. Sometimes congress-critters vote down what appears to be good legislation, but for good reasons.

  33. Gary Ansorge

    Competition AND cooperation, the essential tools of social progress and evolution are a great part of this blog. David Brin has a lot to say about that in his book EARTH. He also points out that it works best in an open environment of discourse and may be what can save both humanity and most(or perhaps just many) of the indigenous species of this planet.

    I highly recommend his writings,,,

    GAry 7

  34. Irishman

    KC, I don’t see why Phil should have any legal issues over endorsing poliltical candidates or goals on this site. It would matter if this was a 501.3c non-profit, or other type of non-profit, but as far as I can tell, this blog is just a personal page. Ergo, no legal issues with posting an opinion or an endorsement.

    Vagueofgodalming said:
    > I had to laugh. I think you’re tongue-in-cheek here, but if not, what part of this blog is unofficial?

    You mean “officially a position of Phil Plait”? Or official in some other manner, like endorsed by NASA?

    As for Phil’s statement, that’s a turn of phrase that means “I am publically declaring my endorsement”.

  35. Aerimus, normally I’d agree with you. but Lamborn votes the Bush party line almost 100% of the time. His agenda is pretty clear; he’s not a compromiser.

  36. Wayne

    He sounds almost libertarian, which is usually a good thing for me. If more Democrats said (and believed) the things you cite, then I’d probably vote for them more often.

  37. @Brett, do assume a little good faith there. Somehow I managed not to see the word “our”, and yes, its presence there does make the meaning of the sentence a bit different.

  38. KC

    Irishman:

    You’re probably right. Just in this day and age it doesn’t hurt to dot the “i’s” and cross the “t’s.”

  39. fos

    He definitely sounds like a candidate I could vote for!

    However: “he thinks the government should stay out of our business when it doesn’t belong there, that the Second Amendment is a pretty good thing, and that we shouldn’t spend money when we don’t have it. Radical, eh?”

    That is diametrically opposed to most democrat leaders, particularly the two running for the highest office.

  40. Daffy

    fos,

    I immediately disregard the opinion of anyone who uses the Rush Limbaugh technique of deliberately mispronouncing/spelling the proper term for “Democratic.” It’s childish and deceptive.

    Unless you also use the term “Republic Leaders.”

  41. People have been using the term “Democrat” for decades.

    It wasn’t until recently that certain individuals began to take this practice and turn it into a childish pejorative.

  42. Quiet_Desperation

    Cyde: yeah, because hands-off deregulation worked so well for the financial markets. …but businesses clearly need to be regulated.

    And this is why rigid ideologies ***FAIL***.

    You are using one example to decide for all situations, not to mention misrepresenting the current situation.

    All your example proved is that certain, specific financial markets need a different level and/or type of regulation than they currently have. That’s it.

    BA: but Lamborn votes the Bush party line almost 100% of the time.

    Correlation does not equal causation. ;-)

    Gary: I will vote for ANY scientist or techno nerd running for office. They may be no more effective than any other individual but at least their errors are correctable, something which can’t be said for a conservative fundie.

    So many different flavors of Kool-Aid here, but they are all, in the end, poison.

    How do you know their errors will be correctable? That’s such a vague statement it’s almost meaningless.

    This is why I laugh at those who say “we the people need to take back the power” because that’s not going to fix anything. “The people” are dumber than the politicians (who aren’t really dumb- just selfish). So do we have government from greed and megalomania (politicians), or government from the marching morons (the people)?

    This is why I plan to retire as far away from all this as I can get and still have indoor plumbing.

    Darren:Americans need to rise up and let their voices be heard again. Forget Brittany Spears and Lindsay Lohan. Our children won’t be safe until we the people are running the United States of America again.

    You need to realize that the celebrity gossip circuit is supported by a rather small minority of the population. The media just caters to it because it’s oddly lucrative.

    And the intertoobs have more people speaking up now than ever before, and it isn’t helping.

    We get a populist candidate that clearly can’t understand why having a hatemongering racist as a “spiritual advisor” for *20* years is a problem to many people.

    We get a female android being operated by a murder of crows hidden inside who, when they get up a head of real self-righteous steam in a speech, makes you want to jam ice picks in your ears so as to never hear it again.

    And then there’s McCain- guaranteed to get us into a war with every other country on the Earth, including Vatican City, the Marshall Islands and the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.

    Feh… a pox on all of ya! :-P

  43. Doc

    QD, you’re being a cynical butt again.

    Yes, the situation is dire, the people are idiots, the politicians are lying slime. So how do “we” fix it? We need to encourage the idiots to put limits on the government. We need to encourage the slime to police each other. Most of all we need to keep trying, otherwise we’ll have more of the same or worse.

    If you’ve truly given up then quit grousing and go retire already, otherwise you’re just making people reach for the ice picks yourself. If you haven’t given up then how about something constructive? I don’t think anyone here would care how far-fetched an idea was, as long as it was plausible and vaguely positive.

  44. Daffy

    Hi, Cleon.

    What Limbaugh and others so is use the term “Democrat Leaders” as opposed to “Democratic Leaders.” As I said, it would be akin to using “Republic Leaders” as opposed to “Republican Leaders.”

    I believe it actually started with Newt Gingrich. In any case, I stand by my comment that it is childish and deceptive. They do it to disassociate the Democratic party with the term “Democratic.” Of course, all they really accomplish is making themselves sound illiterate and ignorant.

  45. OtherRob

    Col. Bidlack wrote an incredibly powerful letter to Montel Williams about Sylvia Brown’s frequent appearances on his show. It’s a must read:

    http://www.stopsylviabrowne.com/articles/openlettertomontel.shtml

  46. Doc

    @OtherRob

    Ouch! My respect for Col Bidlack has just jumped a huge amount!

    What disturbs me is that Montel Williams hasn’t answered or publically renounced Sylvia in the year (years?) since that letter was written. Sounds to me like his question has been answered.

    Funny, but since I’ve started reading “Atlas Shrugged”, I can see all around me exactly what Any Rand was talking about. I don’t agree with her conclusions, but some of her observations were spot-on.

  47. Quiet_Desperation

    QD, you’re being a cynical butt again.

    It’s the way of my people.

    Yes, the situation is dire, the people are idiots, the politicians are lying slime. So how do “we” fix it?

    Oh, this should be good. :-)

    We need to encourage the idiots to put limits on the government.

    What? And give up their government checks and cheese and whatever else they get?

    Meanwhile I can’t anyone to even come look at the chasm in the street near my house caused by the tree root from Hell, and I live in a high tax bracket area.

    We need to encourage the slime to police each other.

    You mean slime like Fabian Nunez, the current Speaker of the California Assembly, when giving a press conference on the 9 BILLION dollar state deficit, said, “We’re not spending too much.” You mean guys like that? The ones living in reality distortion bubbles so dense that it’s a wonder they get enough oxygen?

    Come to think of it, maybe they aren’t…

    And how do I “encourage” people like that do do that?

    Without firearms and/or blunt instruments, that is.

    Most of all we need to keep trying, otherwise we’ll have more of the same or worse.

    [cue star_spangled_banner.mp3]

    I, and many I know, tried for the last 25 years. It still got worse. The sane people are weeded out by the system even before the primaries.

    If you’ve truly given up then quit grousing and go retire already,

    Well, I can afford it yet because I pay more in taxes each year than most people even make.

    otherwise you’re just making people reach for the ice picks yourself.

    As long as they are going to chip some ice for my gin & tonic.

    http://www.google.com/products?q=ice+pick&btnG=Search+Products

    If you haven’t given up then how about something constructive?

    Already tried, as I said, for decades.

    I don’t think anyone here would care how far-fetched an idea was, as long as it was plausible and vaguely positive.

    Let the whole thing go down in flames and rebuild anew?

    Start a real Galt’s Gultch?

    Honestly, I’m out of ideas. What have you got other than general notions?

  48. Quiet_Desperation

    I can see all around me exactly what Any Rand was talking about.

    Just any Rand, or Ayn Rand specifically? ;-)

    Sorry. Couldn’t resist. :)

    Did you get to John Galt’s 700 page soliloquy yet?

    I can take or leave Ms. Rand, but I do covet one of these:

    http://www.thevastrightwing.com/shirts/rearden_steel/back_big.jpg

    Or one of these:

    http://www.johngaltgifts.com/prodimages/BlackAisAShirt1a.jpg

  49. “he thinks the government should stay out of our business when it doesn’t belong there, that the Second Amendment is a pretty good thing, and that we shouldn’t spend money when we don’t have it. Radical, eh?”

    And he’s running as a democrat?

  50. Keep this discourse civil, people. I’m looking at you, Doc. Name-calling comments will be deleted on sight.

  51. eigenvector

    Forget Congress, forget Democrat. McCain is desperate for a VP and I’d vote Rep. if this guy was on the ticket!!!

  52. Poor Phil. I know you must have better things to do than moderate another political flamewar like this.

    Anyway, Democrat is the noun form and Democratic is the adjective form. It’s really that simple. If you use “Democrat” as an adjective, as in “Democrat leaders”, then you’re just revealing a basic ignorance of grammar. Kids learn about adjectives in elementary school.

  53. Gary Ansorge

    Why are you in desparation, QD? HAs life become such a chore you have no desire left? Well, if you’re anywhere near as old as me, take heart. In only a few more years, you’ll be dead and all these travails will be done. Then perhaps the young, those who still have dreams, can find a cure for our social inadequacies.

    Peace,

    GAry 7

  54. Quiet Desperation

    In only a few more years, you’ll be dead and all these travails will be done.

    Wow! What a wonderful human you are, Gary. I love you, too. :-P

    I never said life was a chore. In fact, I make a great living and I’m on track to retire very early.

    I’ve just given up on the political system in this country, and I tire of the same old platitudes and useless blather.

    Especially when the blather is from people who call themselves skeptics, but are just as blind when it comes to politics as a Young Earth Creationist is on evolution and geology.

    Peace,

    Truly heartfelt, I’m sure.

    OK, I’ll turn over a new leaf just for you. :)

    Go America! Yeah! Power to the people! Rock the vote! Obama will lead us to the promised land! We can make a difference! We shall overcome! I had a dream! Make my day! We don’t need to stinking badges! Open the pod bay doors, Hal!

    To quote the great Kurt Vonnegut, “And so on…”

  55. Quiet Desperation

    Name-calling comments will be deleted on sight.

    Unless they are directed at me, of course.

    But I’m a big boy. I can take it. I’m a 20 year Usenet veteran. ;-)

    All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second, it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self-evident.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

    Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain, Notebook 1904

    Sanity is not statistical — Being in a minority, even a minority of one, did not make you mad.” – Winston Smith, from George Orwell’s 1984

    True Terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country” – Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

  56. Quiet Desperation

    Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.” – Plato

    And people give the prophetic street cred to Nostradamus…

  57. Tom

    Glad to see that all the silliness of “I only go into politics when it relates to science” got dropped for a pure political endorsement.

    It’ll win cheers from some, but not others.

    (Anyone who wants to remind me that it’s Phil’s blog and he can do what he wants can save their effort and electrons. I know that.)

    All that said, he seems like a potentially good guy. If he gets in, I hope he can stay that way.

  58. Aerimus

    @Tom:
    “All that said, he seems like a potentially good guy. If he gets in, I hope he can stay that way.”

    Ain’t that the truth. It seems like our system of government has gotten so bad that it either attracts the weasels in our society or makes quick work of turning decent people into weasels.

  59. Doc

    BA & QD,

    Mea culpa, sorry. I didn’t intend to cross the line. Sometimes I agree with QD, sometimes I don’t. The repeated posts of “the country is going south in wicker” was really getting on my nerves.

    QD – I’ve been thinking a lot about our system of government, and on the whole I think our founding fathers did a pretty impressive job in setting things up. The checks and balances generally work – they don’t always work with the greatest efficiency, but they have prevented all sorts of troubles in the past.

    That being said, there are some tweaks that could be made to correct the “workarounds” that politicians have put in place over the centuries in order to circumvent some of those checks, and I think such things can be done without revolution, collapse, or even constitutional amendments. We just need enough people to push in just the right places, and drumming up support of the masses is one tool to use.

    You don’t like the pothole on your street? Then do something about it. Are you on the town/city council? Have you spoken to anyone on it? How about going down to the hardware store, buying a bucket of the appropriate goo, and patching it yourself – it’d get the job done, and would call public attention to the issue (thus putting pressure on the politicians to do the job properly).

    Oh, and no, I haven’t got to the soliloquy yet – I’m only about a fifth of the way through the book so far.

    I did see a “Taggert Transcontinental, Inc” bumper sticker last Saturday though.

  60. Quiet_Desperation

    Sometimes I agree with QD, sometimes I don’t. The repeated posts of “the country is going south in wicker” was really getting on my nerves.

    Oh, all right. I’ll lighten up. Honestly. I’ll probably pick up Super Smash Brothers Brawl this week. That’s allow me to unload some of the rage against the machine. :-)

    HUG TIME!

    {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Doc}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

    You don’t like the pothole on your street? Then do something about it. Are you on the town/city council? Have you spoken to anyone on it?

    Well, yeah, I have. Or tried to. That was my point.

    How about going down to the hardware store, buying a bucket of the appropriate goo, and patching it yourself – it’d get the job done, and would call public attention to the issue (thus putting pressure on the politicians to do the job properly).

    And probably get me sued or fined or both.

    Were you kidding here? You really think a private citizen can go alter a public road in any way shape or form without a permit (not that I could even get one) and not suffer a negative consequence? Especially in this Patriot Act age. Look at what some blinking LED signs advertising a cartoon did to Boston.

    Not to mention that commercial hardware stores don’t really carry proper road building materials. I also have no experience operating a jackhammer. It’s not just pouring “goo” in a hole (or, in this case, a rift valley).

    Here you go: a story about a couple who were *ordered* to trim some trees by their city’s Fire Department, and then fined by the same city for trimming the trees. How much? $347,000!

    http://www.glendaletreefines.com/wp/

    And this was stuff on their own property.

  61. Robbie

    Bad Astronomer: “Cyde, I agree with Brett. I phrased that sentence carefully: government should stay out of business where it doesn’t belong. Given that deregulation has been an unmitigated disaster, government obviously belongs there. The Invisible Hand of the market sometimes needs the government to slap it.”

    From Wikipedia: “The Community Reinvestment Act is a United States federal law that requires banks and thrifts to offer credit throughout their entire market area and prohibits them from targeting only wealthier neighborhoods with their services, a practice known as “redlining.” The purpose of the CRA is to provide credit, including home ownership opportunities to underserved populations and commercial loans to small businesses. The CRA was passed into law by the U.S. Congress in 1977 as a result of national grassroots pressure for affordable housing, and despite considerable opposition from the mainstream banking community.”

    “The 1995 revisions were credited with helping to substantially increase the amount of loans to small businesses and to low- and moderate-income borrowers for home loans. Part of the increase in the latter type of lending was no doubt due to increased efficiency in the secondary market for mortgage loans. The revisions allowed the securitization of CRA loans containing subprime mortgages. The first public securitization of CRA loans started in 1997.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_Reinvestment_Act

    Damn this deregulation causing problems.

  62. Doc

    QD,

    Yeah, it probably would get you fined – though you might be able to get local and national news coverage on the whole deal and get the fines dropped.

    I suspect that pushing your local government more – and getting yourself elected to local government – would be less expensive.

    You could also sue them for damage to your car caused by said pothole. I’ve heard of that actually working in some cases.

    On a slight tangent, I managed to find a URL for an article I read a while back about an artist who made an unauthorized correction to a California highway sign.

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2002/05/10/MN88075.DTL&type=printable

  63. Quiet Desperation

    I suspect that pushing your local government more – and getting yourself elected to local government – would be less expensive.

    Ha! Don’t be so sure. ;-) How much have Hillary and Barack spent for ther POTUS race? Something like $500 million billion just for the primaries? (I’m estimating here) That level of expense, I’m sure, is trickling down to lower level elections. The last set of local races had some really snazzy color mailings on heavy card stock.

    Anyway, here’s a picture of the pothole on my street.

    http://tinyurl.com/38rtws

    You’d think we could get someone to look at it, you know?

  64. @ eigenvector …

    I too Thought about Voting for John McCain, that is Until I Heard him Bragging, ‘Cause he’d Supported The Failed Arizona Initiative to Ban Gay Marriage …

    As a Jewish Person I Simply Refuse to Vote for a Bigot, Regardless of The Group so Being Targeted; It CAN Happen Here!

    :-S

  65. I have to agree with Daffy (and how often do you hear that from me?) about the use of “Democrat” as an adjective. In addition to being grammatically wrong, it’s clearly a put-down.

    If it becomes okay for Republicans to refer to “Democrat candidates” and “Democrat positions” and so on, I recommend we Democrats start referring to “Stupid Republican candidates,” “Stupid Republican positions,” etc. “The Democrat Party” can be met with “The Stupid Republican Party.”

    You can see how the GOP has evolved over the decades. There was a time — the 1960s — when folks like William F. Buckley actually defended the idea that the US was a republic and not a democracy per se, so that calling the DP the “Democratic Party” was descriptive.

  66. Doc writes:

    [[Funny, but since I’ve started reading “Atlas Shrugged”, I can see all around me exactly what Any Rand was talking about.]]

    As Olaf Stapledon wrote, “Gordelpus.”

  67. QD: Go out at about 3 AM and fill the hole with pebbles or sand. Pour it from a car or pickup truck so you can do it fast and get out. Buy the material for cash in another neighborhood and destroy the receipt and any container materials.

    It’s not a fix but it might prevent car damage, at least temporarily. I know the wheels would spin the topmost material right out again, but we’re talking mitigation versus doing nothing at all.

  68. Brian

    I have done my research as any responsible voter will do and have found some discrepencies in Hal Bidlack’s TV ads. House Resolution numbers appear at the bottom of the screen to refer to what is said; however, that is not the case. H.R. 2776 appers talking about forclosure protection for troops at war, but it is a bill dealing with tax incentives for renewable energy and energy conservation. Nothing about troops and their homes.
    H.R. 3221 is a bill to Provide Needed Housing Reform. If you go to Congres.org to look this one up it will drive you batty. All I can say about it is politicans getting their dirty hands on everyone elses business and making a mess of it. And people wonder why forcolosures are happening?

  69. Brian, then I suggest you take this up with Hal. He is one of — if not the most — scrupulous and intensely honest people I know.

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