Category Archives: Civil Discourse

Why You Should Support Ed Byrne For City Council (from the candidate)

Hello. My name is Ed Byrne. In 1981, my wife, Anne, and I moved to Boulder because we thought it would be the best place in the world to raise a family. It was. Conor, Erin and Kathleen thrived at Foothill Elementary, Centennial Middle School and Boulder High, and we’re very grateful. Continue reading Why You Should Support Ed Byrne For City Council (from the candidate)

Secession Proposed by Weld County

June 15, 2013

With a slim majority, Democrats pass some modest gun registration and rural electric energy mix laws and it’s time to form a new state? Seriously? An absence of moderates has few from either party problem-solving together in our current state capitol; how does forming a new one meaningfully bridge this divide?
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Gun Control Initiatives 2013

January 19, 2013

Every time I’ve written about gun regulations in the past, I’ve received a profanity- and threat-laced anonymous e-mail from the same person telling me I better watch my back. Not terribly persuasive, but the caustic missives do underline the need for mental health outreach to the tortured souls in our midst. Ever since Cain and Abel, mankind has wrestled with anger management issues. I don’t believe the NRA’s arms race solution is the answer.
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Byrne on Negative Ads

September 29, 2012

Don’t boo. VOTE! Negative ads are meant to “disgust,” not persuade. They engender a sort of “pox on both their houses” attitude that doesn’t harm the ad sponsors. Negative ads are paid for by supporters of one candidate, not to get you to vote for them,- but to keep you from voting for their opponent.
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TABOR – Our Republic Destroyed by Republicans

August 4, 2012

Douglas Bruce’s anti-government efforts have hogtied the legislature, embarrassed the Republican Party and landed him in jail. He may be the first “Tea Party” philosopher, long before that group even settled on its name. The harm he has caused to our republican form of government has slowly been reversed by communities in Colorado, both counties and cities, that have opted out of – de-Bruced –some of TABOR’s more insidious provisions. The most devastating of them relate not to the “ceiling” (spending caps), but to the “floor” (revenue caps lowered by down economic years),– a poorly-timed automatic austerity plan only a public vote can reverse.
Continue reading TABOR – Our Republic Destroyed by Republicans

Vote – or Else . . .

Vote – or Else . . .
August 13, 2011

We have only ourselves to blame. The answer is simple: VOTE! Hold your nose if you have to, but vote – every time. If negative ads turn your stomach, and both major party candidates use them, vote for the one whose ads you dislike least, or vote for a third party candidate . . . but vote! It matters. The only way to reclaim our democracy is one vote at a time.
Continue reading Vote – or Else . . .

Has the Fourth Estate Been Eviscerated?

Has the Fourth Estate Been Eviscerated?
July 28, 2011

What is the media’s responsibility, if any, for effectively analyzing and reporting on the federal debt and deficit crises? I wonder whether we still have a Fourth Estate capable of fulfilling the role of an educated and objective observer of current events. Has the media become an echo chamber without moorings or a compass, beholden to corporate sponsors and well-funded interest groups or, from a less conspiratorial perspective, is the 24/7/365 news cycle, dependent as it is upon intermittent crises and a constant flow of information and cash, simply unequal to the task?

I’m not surprised that the main stream media is covering Boehner, Cantor and McConnell v. Obama, Pelosi and Reid as a sporting competition with daily updates (who’s winning? losing? who scored points today? who lost points?). However, if truth matters, is this contest truly being waged by equivalent truth tellers? Does it exist within an historical context worth mentioning?

It is truly maddening, given that the lion’s (elephant’s?) share of the spending which created the current federal debt is clearly the direct result of the prior administration’s tax cuts, two unfunded wars, and unfunded Medicare prescription benefits, plus the emergency stimulus spending made necessary by the prior administration’s economic policies, budget decisions, and lack of regulatory oversight – not to mention the now well-proven inability of tax cuts for the wealthy to create good jobs here at home (with the possible exception of the jobs created in the banking and investment industry, which proved, in the end, to be a very mixed bag, indeed) .

After Congress did the bidding of monied interests by privatizing profits and socializing losses, record corporate profits from outsourcing and wage inequity have still added exceedingly few middle class jobs in America, though they do continue to fuel outrageous executive compensation packages, while underwriting outsourced jobs being created abroad. Anti-union campaigns and public sector job losses are helping to destroy the rest of our middle class, the foundation upon which all past economic recoveries have been based. Meanwhile, carefully orchestrated state level redistricting and voter disqualification strategies threaten to distort our electoral process for generations to come and corporate campaign spending increasingly crowds other voices out of our for profit, electronic “public square.”

What is the media’s proper role during a political dust-up of epic proportions with potentially calamitous economic consequences? Where is the in-depth analysis? Who should be responsible for fact-checking and contextual references? When the Republican Party states that their purpose is to ensure that President Obama does not win reelection, should someone question House Speaker Boehner when, with trembling voice, he says, “the president’s worried about his next election, but my God, shouldn’t we be worried about the country? I’m not worried about the next election.”

Really? . . . Really?

God Bless the CWA

April 8, 2011

God bless the CWA. One of the great benefits of living in a university town is the infusion of wisdom and controversy waves of young minds and somewhat older professors wash over us each year. The CWA brings this intellectual cross-pollenization to a head. The most wondrous aspect of the sessions is the audience. In the journalism session I attended on Wednesday (“Long Live the News”), 20% appeared to be students and the remainder constituted a robust cross-section of Boulder’s other residents. I may have to start reducing my commitments during CWA, because the quality of the presentations and the subsequent questions and answers was at the highest level.

“News” is flowing towards us in an ever-growing torrent. Our job, if we choose to accept it (and heaven help us, if we don’t), is to develop Great American Readers and Listeners. Skepticism must always exist in response to a pay-to-play news cycle. Wire services have been steadily pumping stories out since the early part of the last century. The blogosphere is doing the same thing, but at drinking-out-of-a-fire-hose speeds and volume. WE must apply the filters and slow down our “judgment cycle” as the news cycle speeds up.

Some commentators do more old-fashioned journalism than the anchors from other outlets, correcting misinformation, revealing biases, learning from real experts, and placing actual facts in play. Other “affirmation-type” journalists eschew consistent accuracy, compelling prose and thoughtful analysis. We must find ways to feed the former and starve the latter, before it’s too late.

OSMP West TSA Process

February 12, 2011

This is a tough one, made exceedingly tougher by procedures that encourage organizations to be formed to “fight” for members with bikes, dogs, walking shoes or an abiding love for woodland creatures. Instead of discussing how to balance all these legitimate interests, we seem to have orchestrated a demolition derby where everyone sustains damage and no one emerges as a “winner.”

Perhaps, the perception of carnage is derived from the interest group representing organizations whose institutional purpose may be better-served by crying “foul” than by a willingness to compromise. However, another possibility is that our open space decision-making process has historically demonstrated a tendency to respond to the loudest or last voices heard. It may be that the loudest and last voices heard fully and accurately represent majority viewpoints in our fair city and, despite the fact full-throated democracy is a contact sport, our past decisions got it right in the end. If so, there is no escaping these master plan update soul-searching, mind-numbing, patience-testing forays.

I wonder, though, how much of the heat is generated by managing public access to our open space so as to prevent the harm done by 5% of the users who don’t seem to have a clue – whether on foot, with dog, or on a bike – concerning how to behave in mixed company. We should manage for the 95% and, whether due to ignorance or a conscious disregard for the experiences sought by others, develop effective ways to educate or banish the rest.

Citizens United Slam Ads

October 16, 2010

Money may not be the root of all evil, but it sure is threatening to destroy our democracy. There is a limited supply of broadcast minutes for television and radio advertising. The bandwidth for voices heard “in the public square” should not simply go to the highest bidder.

At the very least, the purveyors of political sleaze should be prohibited from operating behind a veil of contributor secrecy. Corporate deep pockets have the potential to suck all the oxygen out of the room, leaving no affordable ad time for dissenting points of view. And boy, howdy, aren’t they trying hard to do it during this, their first untrammeled opportunity?

Based on the current crop of corporate-funded attack ads, the focus group-tested slams and carefully chosen background musical themes have taken fear and loathing to new and unsightly depths. The cringe factor is ginormous. However, mindful of its own bottom line, reliable, balanced truth-parsing by the media rarely occurs. Even when ads have been outed as particularly egregious smears, they continue to run if the checks clear. No holds barred.

Ultimately, I trust the American people to grasp the resulting skew and adapt their voting patterns to correct for it, but we are headed into the rapids, rough waters to be sure, in the near term. Difficult decisions with complex trade-offs must be made correctly, and with some urgency. In a fragile and hostile world, concerned citizens seeking to govern themselves wisely are ill-served by this collossal waste of financial resources.