Combs Spouts Off

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Caution: legislature at work

Posted by Richard on January 23, 2007

I don’t usually read (and certainly don’t subscribe to) The Denver Post. It’s a depressingly predictable liberal rag. They’ve never met a tax increase they didn’t like, they reflexively endorse 90+% of Democratic candidates (throwing in just enough "thoughtful moderate" Republicans to justify their claim to being non-partisan), and they positively swoon over phrases like "government initiative," "investing in our future," and "public-private partnership."

But I’m going to have to start dropping by their website regularly to read the columns of David Harsanyi, which seem to be consistently iconoclastic, humorous, and more than a little libertarian. Check out, for example, his wonderful Dec. 21 column, "Liberals confused over charity," which opens with the line, "Anyone can be compassionate with other people’s money."

Today’s column is a follow-up to his Jan. 11 column about the latest installment of Denver’s plan to "end [sic] homelessness." They’re throwing vast amounts of money at a non-profit organization with a long history of defaulting on government loans so that it can build housing units for the homeless (at $250,000 apiece, not counting the parking garage for the cars the homeless don’t have). This is the latest such project targeting a recently revitalized neighborhood that’s getting a bit sick of being the preferred location for various "affordable housing:" and "group home" projects. Harsanyi pointed out that powerful city councilwoman Debbie Ortega, appointed executive director of the Mayor’s Commission to End Homelessness, is also the president of this profligate non-profit’s board of directors, and furthermore, is associated with its for-profit arm. How convenient.

But I particularly want to draw your attention to Harsanyi’s Jan. 18 column, which provided a brief — and funny — overview of the plethora of paternalistic legislation our lawmakers introduced in the first few days of this legislative session:

How about Rep. Anne McGihon’s crucial HB 1126, "concerning the authority of physical therapists to perform physical therapy on animals."

Gross.

Then there’s this paternalistic absurdity called HB 1006, sponsored by Rep. Paul Weissmann. He wants to double penalties for moving violations when the driver is "knowingly distracted."

How is one "knowingly distracted," exactly? By living?

For the purposes of Colorado law enforcement, "knowingly distracted" includes, but is not limited to, cellphone use (even hands-free), grooming, reading, eating and drinking. In other words, it gives police almost unlimited pretext to issue double fines.

Listen, no one should be reading a novel while driving. But should sipping a cup of coffee or eating a bagel be a crime?

Speaking of treating parents like children, every year, Democratic Sen. Bob Hagedorn is good for at least one solid intrusion. This year he’s babysitting by sponsoring a bill that prohibits "the use of an artificial tanning device by a minor unless specifically prescribed by a physician."

That bill seems less weird when you check out HB 1082, apparently sponsored by Rep. Andy Kerr and Mr. Spock. It would make it a crime for an individual to be implanted with a microchip. If citizens want to install microchips in their (untanned) teenage daughters, isn’t that their creepy concern?

Then there’s Rep. Jim Riesberg, who is co-sponsoring a bill that would create a new bureaucracy at your gym.

The "Athletic Trainer Practice Act" requires athletic trainers to obtain a valid license issued by "the director of the division of registrations in the department of regulatory agencies" before engaging in the practice of athletic training or representing himself or herself as an athletic trainer.

Republican Sen. Tom Wiens has joined the fun. He’s sponsoring a bill that "clarifies" the ins and outs of "whether to wear a helmet while participating in equestrian events called ‘gymkhana."’ Gymkhana, I believe, is derived from the Hindi phrase that translates to "stay the hell out of my business."

Amen, David!

To be fair — and to further illustrate Harsanyi’s sense of humor — I should quote his correction today of an error in the above:

Note: I owe an apology to state Rep. Andy Kerr, whom I accused in my last column of conspiring with Mr. Spock to pass a bill outlawing human microchips. It was Rep. Mary Hodge. And she is in league with the Cylons.

Regarding distracted driving, by the way, I’m happy to report that the Libertarian Party of Colorado (which seems to have stopped promoting insane 9/11 conspiracy theories) came out solidly against the bill and got a fair amount of local media attention for doing so. To date, however, they haven’t addressed tanning by minors, microchips, athletic trainer regulations, or any of the other pressing matters Harsanyi mentioned.

I can only hope the microchip issue doesn’t set off the moonbat wing of the LPCO.
 

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