Our troops deserve our support

In Blog, Capitol Review by Mark Hillman

I have never been more discouraged by the prevailing attitude in our country than I am now as we face serious choices about the war in Iraq and the consequences of failure.

Four years ago, the U.S. Senate voted 77-23 to authorize the war in Iraq; the House followed suit 296-133.  Upwards of 70 percent of us supported removing Saddam Hussein and replacing him with a democratically-elected government.

Today, the poll numbers are virtually reversed.  Majorities of Americans now believe going to war was the wrong thing to do, that sectarian violence cannot be resolved anytime soon, and that President Bush’s plan to send deploy more troops is a non-starter.

It’s not hard to understand why.  The "news" from Iraq is almost never good – perhaps because it’s much easier to report bombings and body counts from the safety of a news bureau than it is to interview regular Iraqis who, in so many parts of the country, are benefiting from schools, jobs and opportunities that wouldn’t exist were it not for America’s intervention.
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Ethics amendment creates an ethical dilemma

In Capitol Review by Mark Hillman

Democracy is the theory that the people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. — H.L. Mencken

Last November, more than 62 percent of Colorado voters supported Amendment 41, the constitutional amendment advertised to crack down on cozy relationships between lobbyists and politicians.

Garnering 50,000 more votes than any candidate, Amendment 41 demonstrated yet again that just because voters give you the keys to government doesn’t mean they want to leave too much gas in the tank.

Amendment 41’s chief proponents, Colorado Common Cause, opted to put the text in the state constitution where the legislature couldn’t monkey around with it.

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How Colorado turned blue

In Blog, Notes by Mark Hillman

What a difference eight years makes – or even four, for that matter. Bill Ritter’s inauguration as governor on Jan. 9 marks a milestone in a political transformation that seemed unlikely, if not virtually impossible, just a few years ago.

Hand it to Colorado Democrats: they’ve done a remarkable job turning our state’s political landscape upside down, despite trailing Republicans in voter registration by some 170,000.
Now, activists and analysts are studying this transformation to see if the Colorado model can be exported to other states, particularly those in the West.

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Jargon

In Blog, Notes by Mark Hillman

During my eight years at the State Capitol, I found that, for people who have a life, one of the more difficult aspects of following news about the Legislature is making sense out of the peculiar vernacular of the Capitol.

Legislators and lobbyists speak in strange tongues about “fiscal notes” and “legislative declarations” or converse in acronyms (like JBC, DORA, CDE, FTE). Such jargon gives legislators an unparalleled ability to cure insomnia.
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