Today Marsha Looper of Colorado Citizens for Property Rights responded to some of my questions about the eminent domain initiative. (My questions were prompted by a Denver Post article by Chris Frates that reported today: "A proposed constitutional amendment to prevent governments from taking land for economic development purposes could be killed today unless major changes are made, the sponsor [Al White] said Wednesday.") Looper's answers are in italics.
1. How many signatures have been collected to date?
We should have a count on signatures within a week.
2. When are the signatures due?
Signatures are due June 14th.
3. Have paid petitioners been used to date? Will they be used in the future?
4. How much money is currently available for the petition drive? How much additional money is anticipated?
5. Have any efforts been made to follow up with volunteer petition gatherers?
Yes, efforts continue daily to follow up with petition gatherers.
We are exploring paid petitioners.
Yes, we will need to use paid petitioners to get the number of signatures required.
We are currently working on sponsors for the petition drive. If one does the math, signatures are around $3.00 each, we need 110,000 signatures to submit to the SOS. Since we will be counting signatures next week I can give you more information next week on how many more we need.
6. Are any volunteer signature gatherers doing things like standing in front of grocery stores, going door to door, etc.? Is CCPR encouraging such activity?
7. A useful strategy for the opponents of reform would be to stall the legislative referral as long as possible, then kill it. Is there any evidence that such has been an intended strategy? Do you believe the legislative referral has hindered the collection of signatures?
Yes, I believe the leadership intentionally stalled the vote of the referred measure, and
have tacked on amendments that water down the bill!
Yes [the legislative referral has hindered the collection of signatures].
(Kathy Fauth, another activist with the group, adds, "[W]e have never slowed down or stopped collecting signatures in hopes of being saved by the resolution. We have made it clear all along that we must work hard for both the resolution and the signatures.")
8. Realistically, what are the chances of successfully gathering enough signatures? What is needed to ensure success?
100% Chance. What is needed to ensure success? 110,000 signatures turned into the
secretary of state by June 14th.
Executive Director, The Colorado Citizens for Property Rights
Notes on Islamic Totalitarianism
Dan Simmons, a local novelist, has written a short story (see his April 2006 message) that has provoked praise and harsh criticism. The thesis of the story is that, in the future, Islamic totalitarians will grow in strength and draw the U.S. into a deadly, long-term conflict. Is this possible? While I hope things won't get as far out of hand as Simmons fears, it is clear that Islamic totalitarians -- and there are a lot of them -- want to spread theocratic rule throughout the world. And Iran continues to threaten Israel, persecute its own more-secular citizens, and develop nuclear weapons.
Today Robert Tait reported for The Guardian: "Iran's Islamic authorities are preparing a crackdown on women flouting the stringent dress code in the clearest sign yet of social and political repression under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad... Offenders could be punished with £30 fines or two months in jail. Officers will also be authorised to confront men with outlandish hairstyles and people walking pet dogs, an activity long denounced as un-Islamic by the religious rulers. The clampdown coincides with a bill before Iran's conservative-dominated parliament proposing that fines for people with TV satellite dishes rise from £60 to more than £3,000. Millions of Iranians have illegal dishes, enabling them to watch western films and news channels."
Of course, the job of the U.S. government is to protect the rights of U.S. citizens. Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) predicted that "nation building" in Iraq would not serve that aim, and would in fact distract the U.S. from its proper purpose. Brook was right. Now he argues (with Alex Epstein): "While we have taken Saddam Hussein out of power, we have neither eradicated the remnants of his Baathist regime, nor defeated the insurgency that has arisen, nor taken any serious precaution against the rise of a Shiite theocracy that would be a far more effective abettor of Islamic Totalitarianism than Saddam Hussein ever was. In terms of ending the (limited) threat posed to America by the respective countries, the 'war' in Afghanistan was a partial failure, and the 'war' in Iraq is a total failure. Our leadership, however, evaluates these endeavors not primarily in terms of whether they end threats and dissuade other hostile regimes from continuing aggression, but in terms of whether they bestow the 'good life' on the Middle Eastern peoples by ridding them of unpopular dictators and allowing them to vote-in whatever government they choose (no matter how anti-American)."
Ukraine's Orange Crushed
Ukraine's "Orange Revolution" seems to be turning a sickly green. Andrew Osborn reports for today's Independent: "Efforts to revive the romantic spirit of Ukraine's "orange" revolution and reform a pro-Western government have descended into acrimony... To the general disbelief of orange supporters, the two figureheads of the revolution, President Viktor Yushchenko, and former prime minister Julia Tymoshenko, are struggling to form a government and have instead become embroiled in tit-for-tat recriminations."
On August 25, 2005, Boulder Weekly published an article of mine in which I quoted a couple of Ukrainians. One of them wrote in an e-mail, "Corruption is the same -- names had been changed..." I'm sorry to hear that the pessimism of the Ukrainians I contacted seems to have been warranted. Will a new day bring renewed hope of an orange sunrise?
The Fountainhead: An Appreciation
I've been reading Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead again lately. It's a better book even than I remembered.
Often critics of the book claim that it is interesting literarily but not intellectually, or vice versa, or that the book is flawed on both grounds. I was already convinced that the ideas conveyed in the book are correct. But what struck me is how engaging is the story in terms of its plot and characters.
Part of the problem is that my mental image of both Howard Roark, the protagonist, and Dominique Francon, his love interest, had been tainted by the stilted performances of the film. Now I find both of these characters to be nuanced and their relationship to be charming. I also appreciate the way that Rand introduces the characters of Dominique and Gail Wynand. From the beginning of the book, Rand sets us up to think of Wynand as a bastard (he does not appear in person until deep into the book), which makes our developing relationship with him all the more surprising and enjoyable.
While Roark's architecture manifests independence and purposeful planning, Peter Keating is a prime example of a "second-hand man." Here's how Rand describes Keating (page 72): "He spent long hours in the library of Francon & Heyer, selecting from Classic photographs the appearance of his house. He felt the tension melting in his mind. It was right and it was good, that house growing under his hand, because men were still worshiping the masters who had done it before him. He did not have to wonder, to fear or to take chances; it had been done for him."
I was flipping through The Denver Post on Sunday (April 16), and I found an amazing quote (on the front page of Section R, the real estate section):
"We're so opposed to suburban mutt-style homes. You can trace all of our homes to a recognizable architectural style." -- Mark Adcock, architect