Sunday, April 29, 2007

Grim Old Party
New York Times

At the University of Chicago there’s a group of scholars who are members of what is called the Rational Expectations school of economics. They believe human beings tend to anticipate unpleasant future events and seek in advance to avoid them. Their teachings do not apply to the Republican Party.

The Republicans suffered one unpleasant event in November 2006, and they are headed toward an even nastier one in 2008. The Democrats have opened up a wide advantage in party identification and are crushing the G.O.P. among voters under 30.

Moreover, there has been a clear shift, in poll after poll, away from Republican positions on social issues and on attitudes toward government. Democratic approaches are favored on almost all domestic, tax and fiscal issues, and even on foreign affairs.

The public, in short, wants change.

And yet the Republicans refuse to offer that. On Capitol Hill, there is a strange passivity in Republican ranks. Republicans are privately disgusted with how President Bush has led their party and the nation, but they don’t publicly offer any alternatives. They just follow sullenly along. They privately believe the country needs new approaches to the war against Islamic extremism, but they don’t offer them. They try to block Democratic initiatives, but they don’t offer the country any new ways to think about the G.O.P.

They are like people quietly marching to their doom.

And at the presidential level, things are even worse. The party is blessed with a series of charismatic candidates who are not orthodox Republicans. But the pressures of the campaign are such that these candidates have had to repress anything that might make them interesting. Instead of offering something new, each of them has been going around pretending to be the second coming of George Allen — a bland, orthodox candidate who will not challenge any of the party’s customs or prejudices.

Mitt Romney created an interesting health care reform, but he’s suppressing that in an effort to pretend to be George Allen. Rudy Giuliani has an unusual profile that won him a majority of votes on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, of all places, but he’s suppressing that to be George Allen. John McCain has a record on taxes and spending that suggests he really could take on entitlements. But at least until last week, he suppressed that in order not to offend the George Allen vote.

And just in case any of these George Allen wannabes weren’t George Allen enough for voters, Fred Thompson may enter the race as the Authentic Conservative, even though deep in his heart he’s no more George Allen than the rest of them.

The big question is, Why are the Republicans so immobile?

There are several reasons. First, there are structural barriers to change. As it has aged, the conservative movement has grown a collection of special interest groups that restrict its mobility. Anybody who offers unorthodox tax policies gets whacked by the Club for Growth and Americans for Tax Reform. Anybody who offers unorthodox social policies gets whacked by James Dobson.

Second, there is the corrupting influence of teamism. Being a good conservative now means sticking together with other conservatives, not thinking new and adventurous thoughts. Those who stray from the reservation are accused of selling out to the mainstream media by the guardians of conservative correctness.

Third, there is the oppressive power of the past. Conservatives have allowed a simplistic view of Ronald Reagan to define the sacred parameters of thought. Reagan himself was flexible, unorthodox and creative. But conservatives have created a mythical, rigid Reagan, and any deviation from that is considered unholy.

Fourth, there is the bunker mentality. Republican morale has been brutalized by the Iraq war and the party’s decline. This state of emotional pain is not conducive to risk-taking and free and open debate.

In sum, Republicans know they need to change, but they have closed off all the avenues for change.

The tale is not entirely hopeless. McCain seems now to be throwing off his yoke. Newt Gingrich is way ahead of his colleagues when it comes to new ideas and policies. The libertarians and paleoconservatives have been losing for so long they are suddenly quite interesting. There are even a few of us who think it is time to revive the Alexander Hamilton-Theodore Roosevelt legacy.

Change could, miraculously, come soon. But the odds are it will take a few more crushing defeats before Republicans tear down the self-imposed walls that confine them.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hugh Hewitt met with we Denver Republicans at the University Club tonight in a very motivational talk.

He told us he's made his mission keeping the topic of winning the war in Iraq the #1 issue in the 2008 Presidential campaign.

This is his profile from his website: Hugh Hewitt is the host of a daily nationally-syndicated talk radio show heard in more than 100 cities across the county. He is a Professor of Law at Chapman University Law School, the Executive Editor of, and one of the country's most widely read bloggers at Hewitt is the author of eight previous books, including the New York Times' bestseller "If Its Not Close, They Can't Cheat" and "Blog: Understanding The Information Reformation That Is Changing Your World," and the recipient of three Emmys during his decade as an anchor of a nightly news and public affairs show for the Los Angeles PBS affiliate, KCET. He served six years in the Reagan Administration in a variety of posts including in the White House Counsel's office. He is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Michigan Law School and lives in Southern California. He can be reached at

Hewitt compared the current Presidential election campaign to the 1864 election, and he recommended that we all read his old professor Doris Kerns-Goodwin's Team of Rivals.

He also recommended Lawrence Wright's The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11
which documents the history of Al-Qaeda from it's start (in Ft. Collins, Colorado!) to today.

Denver could hold a GOP Presidential debate and all the candidates would show up, he suggested. It would be best if only those candidates raising at least 20% of the total funds raised by the front runner be allowed to participate.

I just posted this on Guy Kawasaki’s website in response to his interview with Seth Godin about his new book The Dip:

Dear Guy,

"Pain is the touchstone of all spiritual growth." Bill Wilson 12X12

Have you taken a look at Amar Bhide's Origin & Evolution of New Enterprize?

The publisher of Inc. Magazine has called it the most important book ever written about start-up. Bhide's has sent his students to take a look at how successful businesses actually got started.

What he has found is that they don't spend resources trying to figure out the future.

Looking back, we can see the dip in almost every startup. If we could plot it in advance, we would have a planned economy rather than a free-market economy.

Seems to me the dip is descriptive, not prescriptive. And just as most boxers come from the gutter, most new enterprises start from pain.

John Wren

Monday, April 23, 2007

The American Business Revolution
30 years ago, huge corporations dominated the business world. Read about the seismic shifts that turned America into a nation of entrepreneurs.
By Carol Tice
Updated: 12:00 p.m. MT April 23, 2007

The late 1970s were a time of bright miniskirts, mirrored disco balls and platform shoes. But the wild changes taking place 30 years ago weren't all in music and fashion.

Inside office suites, workers were learning to type memos into their Altair personal computers while hoping to become an important cog in a big, corporate wheel. But as the 1980s arrived, career goals were shifting for those who found cubicle life stifling and who were bold enough to take risks.

An entrepreneurial age was coming, fueled by social change, new sources of capital and new technologies. While some jumped at the chance to start a business, others were pushed by mass corporate layoffs, mergers and growing anxiety about job security.

Whatever the reason, entrepreneurship has become a popular aspiration. A September 2005 Baylor University study reports that since 1980, more than 5 million jobs have disappeared from Fortune 500 companies, while 34 million new jobs were created at small businesses.

Also, the number of small businesses increased from 14.7 million in 1977 to nearly 32 million last year, according to IRS tax returns. Today, one in 12 adults is actively involved in starting a business, and more than 60 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds say they aim to own their own business.
Donald F. Kuratko, executive director of the Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Indiana University in Bloomington, perhaps summed it up best in the Baylor study: "Entrepreneurship," he wrote, "has emerged over the last two decades as arguably the most potent economic force the world has ever experienced."

Power to the Business People

So how did we go from a nation of corporate drones to a nation of entrepreneurs? It couldn't have happened without the changes brought about by the civil rights and women's movements of the 1960s, says Carol Kuc, president of the National Association of Women Business Owners. New laws opened doors for women and minorities who had previously faced high hurdles to business ownership, particularly when it came to funding.

Women, for instance, were scorned by skeptical bankers who discounted their income. "You could get pregnant and stop working," Kuc recalls one banker telling her in the late 1960s. It was also difficult for a woman to get a credit card on her own or to establish a credit line separate from her spouse's until the Equal Credit Opportunity Act guaranteed that right in 1974. Credit cards soon became a vital source of business capital for women wanting to strike out on their own, Kuc adds.

Similarly, nonwhite loan applicants often got the cold shoulder until the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 required financial institutions to serve all segments of their communities. These laws were a major force in smoothing the road to business ownership for previously disenfranchised groups.

The result? "There was a huge movement of women and people of color into business ownership in the 1970s and 1980s," Kuc says.

Today there are more than 10 million women-owned businesses. Approximately 57 percent of women business owners have a business line of credit, and 82 percent report they have a satisfactory banking relationship. For the past two decades, women-owned businesses have grown at twice the rate of all businesses, the Center for Women's Business Research reports. "At this growth rate, women will be the majority of business owners [fairly soon]," says Kuc. "We still have a ways to go, but the walls aren't as high."

For minorities, the creation of the federal Office of Minority Business Enterprises in 1969--now the Minority Business Development Agency--helped foster growth in minority-owned businesses, says John F. Robinson, president and CEO of the 350-member National Minority Business Council. The creation of "set-asides" in federal contracts opened what had been an all-white boys' club to minority business owners.

In the 1960s, many minorities operated tiny, usually one-person businesses, often started on a shoestring by people shut out of good jobs by discrimination and lack of education. As affirmative action spurred the admission of more minorities to colleges and universities, these new grads left school better equipped to become big-time entrepreneurs.

They often first worked at major corporations, Robinson says. Then, armed with both business experience and more sophisticated education, they set out to start their own businesses. The results were stunning; the number of minority-owned businesses exploded, growing more than 600 percent since 1977. Current lists of top-earning minority businesses include companies with revenues that top $1 billion.

One big opportunity for minority businesses: As the U.S. minority population increased, major corporations grew more concerned about reaching these consumers, so they often turned to minority-owned firms for help with everything from product design to marketing. The growing black and Hispanic populations were also a gold mine for entrepreneurs who understood subcultures Fortune 500 firms were ignoring. One example is Russell Simmons' hip-hop music, media and fashion empire, Rush Communications, founded in 1990.
Business BoomWhile equal opportunity was fueling an entrepreneurial boom, the world of small business was changing in other ways as well.

Until the 1970s, franchising had been a rather limited and expensive route to business ownership. And before 1979, when the Uniform Franchise Offering Circular went into effect, it was also an industry rife with scams.

Today, there are more than 2,500 franchise companies, with business models that span 80 industries, from accounting to weight control. While most franchises used to involve operating a store, many franchises now can be started part time or from a kitchen table for $50,000 or less.
Home businesses, in general, began to evolve as well. As personal computers and printers got cheaper, home businesses of all kinds were able to grow from modest, usually one-person operations into sophisticated, high-earning businesses, says Rudy Lewis, president of the National Association of Home Based Businesses.

One of the cheap ways to get into business--often from home--had always been direct mail. In the 1970s and '80s, shipping, paper and printing costs were low, recalls John Schulte, president of the National Mail Order Association. The catalog industry boomed, going from $29 billion in sales in 1980 to $109 billion in 1999.

As paper and mailing costs soared, another option appeared: the internet. From the mid-'90s on, it was cheaper than ever to connect with buyers across the country or the globe.

Home businesses saw explosive growth, from about 6 million in 1984 to 23 million today, Lewis says. But the size and sophistication of home enterprises is even more impressive. With internet communications and research at their fingertips, he says, global businesses are routinely being run from home. Lewis' own home based companies do training in 20 countries, import eyeglass frames from China and develop condominiums, among other things.

"[Home businesses] accelerated in the late 1990s and 2000s and really became fashionable," Lewis says. "It used to be I'd say I had a home business, and people would look at me weird. Now they say, How can I do it?"

Getting SchooledAs more entrepreneurs began launching new enterprises, colleges and universities sensed a hunger for information. The institutions soon created courses and whole new training centers to help this new generation of entrepreneurs learn business skills. From the first MBA entrepreneurship program launched at the University of Southern California in 1971, entrepreneurship education grew fast.

By the early 1980s, more than 300 universities had courses in entrepreneurship and small business, the Baylor study found. Early entrepreneurship centers found an immediate and enthusiastic audience, says Rudy Lamone, founder of the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland, which opened in 1986. "We were just overwhelmed with phone calls and requests to come speak and to help solve entrepreneurial problems," he recalls.

Networking breakfasts and workshops initiated by Dingman in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. corridor were mobbed, as hundreds of new and would-be business owners sought to learn from and do business with each other.

Today, more than 2,200 entrepreneurship courses are offered at nearly 1,600 schools nationwide, according to the Baylor study.

College campuses weren't the only places entrepreneurs could go for help, either. For instance, the SBA's Office of Women's Business Ownership, added in 1979, began testing the idea of women's business centers in 1988 to help women achieve business ownership. The initial half-dozen centers were so successful that nearly 100 centers now operate nationwide.

Whether you start a business in a skyscraper with big-money backers or in your bedroom with money from your savings accounts, you'll be able to pursue your dream of business ownership free from much of the conformity, prejudice and technological barriers of the past. There's no telling where the passion and drive of the next generation of entrepreneurs will take American business next.

Copyright © 2007, Inc.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A follow up mailing to my email (below):


It really depends on the specific population. For the chronic homeless male, the numbers can be higher. But for the chronic homeless female, they tend to be lower on substance abuse and higher on mental health. Overall for the homeless population in general, it is around 40% that are on the streets due to substance abuse and mental illness. This will seem low, until you factor into the equation that 43% of our homeless are women with children.

I am familiar with your program and would invite you to become part of the efforts to end homelessness. All of our meetings are open to the public. The Implementation Meeting has about 60 agencies in attendance at each meeting. All the meeting times and places are listed on the website.

Hope this provides some additional clarity. Roxane White
I just sent this email to the head of the Denver Homeless Project in response to her email to me (see below):

Dear Ms. White,

Thanks very much for your email. Seems to me 40 to 60% alcoholic/addict is still
very much on the low side if we look at those on the street, those who most people
think of as homeless. What would you estimate for those folks?

I have a couple of meetings I attend at Trinity, that's my only connection there. For
the last couple of years I've been the manager of 1311 York Street Club are you familiar with it?

Mayor Hickenlooper will easily be reelected, and it will be interesting to see how
the course is set for the next four years.

One thing we can certainly all agree on, the people on the streets in Denver are
a real, tragic problem for us all. The deaths far exceed those we see in any school
shooting, but they get over looked because they happen one at a time. Thanks for
your hard work to help find a solution.

John Wren

Mr. Wren:

I am confused about the quote you attribute to me. I don’t recall ever having said that only 13% have a problem with alcohol or drug abuse. I wonder if someone else misquoted me or if it was a reference to a specific subset of homeless but this number doesn’t make any sense. There are a lot of statistics on, but this shouldn’t be one of them. Depending upon the specific populations (chronic homeless for example), the number can be as high as 40%-60% of the homeless having serious substance abuse or addiction problems. The numbers are much lower for the children and families on the streets, but I am not familiar with any statistic that is 13%. The only 13% number I have is for 2005 when the % of people on the streets who were Veterans was at that point in time 13% but that was not in relation to substance abuse or addiction.

I noticed your involvement with Trinity and have had the good fortune to speak there several times. We appreciate the support from Trinity for the ongoing work at St. Francis Center and for the help with the mentoring program. Trinity is certainly a leader in helping end homelessness.

I hope this helps and if you have more specifics about the quote, I will try to figure out exactly what the reference was.

Thanks, Roxane White

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Researchers explore scrapping Internet
By ANICK JESDANUN AP Internet Writer

NEW YORK- Although it has already taken nearly four decades to get this far in building the Internet, some university researchers with the federal government's blessing want to scrap all that and start over.

The idea may seem unthinkable, even absurd, but many believe a "clean slate" approach is the only way to truly address security, mobility and other challenges that have cropped up since UCLA professor Leonard Kleinrock helped supervise the first exchange of meaningless test data between two machines on Sept. 2, 1969.

Friday, April 13, 2007

This is a fantastic experiement. What happens when one of the world's best musicians plays for free as a street musician. Do the people value the music? Take 20 minutes and read through this and listen to the wonderful music on the videos. Really interesting. What does this teach us?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

Self-Reliance (1841)
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I called into the Peter Boyles show this morning (KHOW AM630 here in Denver.)

The topic at 5 a.m. was Don Imus (fired for racial slur against Rutgers women's basketball team), I wanted to talk about the Denver elections so the screener wouldn't let me through. So I called back, said I wanted to talk about Imus in light of Daniel Bell's book The Cultural Contridictions of Capitolism. What? Imus will know the book and understand I said.

Long talk about the Roman circuses, the decline and fall of all great empires, and what it means when no Denver talk show is focusing on the elections as we all get our ballots in the mail. At the end of the call Peter said, "good call, very well thought out." We'll see if it effects the show in the morning.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

We Will Re-elect Mayor Hickenlooper. He is absolutely unbeatable. It would be a complete and total waste of energy to continue to promote a write-in campaign against him.

What a brilliant insight, right?Everyone else could see this months ago, but not me. It finally sunk into my thick skull when last night I attended the first of a series of meet the Mayor events that are being held around the city.The next one’s in South Denver tonight, but I think I’ll pass. If you want to go, see

The event last night was highly orchestrated to prevent any exposure for those in the audience who might want to announce a write-in campaign. Questions were only taken in writing and then screened. I asked a couple of tough questions that weren’t selected.

Dennis Gallagher should be reelected as City Auditor. I like Bill Wells very much, but it is clear that Dennis will be in a much stronger position to provide the guidance that the Mayor will need in his next term.

Wellington Webb's daughter Stephanie O'Malley is running for Denver Clerk and Recorder. It looks like she will be the people's choice, as her lone opponent has not mounted a campaign.

There is no opponent in my City Council district. Ike Kelley has announced in District 4 and seems to be attracting support in his tough race to beat a popular incumbent.

The Denver GOP is rising from the ashes under the leadership of Mary Smith. Let's all do what we can to help her build a grassroots organization that can field strong candidates by 2011. If you aren't sure how to get involved, attend our next New Denver Republican Meetup, RSVP at

Like good discussion? Join us for Socrates Cafe this Thursday, 7 p.m. at Trinity Church, 18th & Broadway. RSVP at

Starting a new business or new business project? Get help turning your idea into effective action at the Denver IDEA Cafe each Friday afternoon. More info at

Monday, April 09, 2007

I just sent this to the Denver Post:

Ballots are being mailed out this week for the Denver elections,
but there is nothing in your paper this weekend about the local
races. All politics is local, but it seems the focus of the Denver
Post political news is state and national!

John S. Wren
960 Grant St. #727
Denver, CO 80203
cell (720)495-4949

Note: (not for publication)
I'm encouraging people to run as a write-in candidate for
Mayor. My barber Walt Young at the Upper Cut Barbershop
figures he can get 400 or so votes from his customers.

Here's the flier I've been distributing:

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Did you see my comment this morning's Rocky Mountain News?:

Ballots being mailed out this week in Denver,
only thing I can see in the paper this morning
is an endorsement of 1A and a mention of the
1931 Mayors race.

Have you thought about running for Mayor?
My barber says he is, and he expects to get
400 or so votes. If we can get 100 or so like
him, we can at least get Mayor J-Hic's attention,
maybe force a run-off election with the top vote-
getter and beat him!

Would you attend a news conference next Tueday
to announce an Anyone but J-Hic campaign?

I'm going to make a final decision at the New Denver
Republican Meetup. Join us! Get location and

Forward this email along to your friends who care
about Denver!


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Google Earth has just announce new features that make it much easier to create custom maps. For details see

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I have spent quite a bit of time with Peter Boyles over the last 24 hours.

This morning I listened to his 5 a.m. radio show on KHOW AM630 here in Denver, and yesterday I not only listened but also called into the show.

When I called in we talked about the Fred Brown column Sunday that talked about my Anyone but J-Hic campaign

Then yesterday he spoke at our Denver Lions Club. Great talk about how he got into radio, some of his experiences and insights. New media is dramatically changing the way we get our information. Talk radio, community newspaper, books, and of course the Internet are exploding, the large daily papers like the Denver Post are going on the ropes, about 1 per day across the country is failing he says.

In the Q&A I asked him why there is so little coverage of local events and so little criticism of the Mayor. He said, "I cover them. As far as the large daily papers, you'd have to ask Mr. Singleton."

So I tuned into his show this morning, thinking for sure he'd be talking about the May 1 Mayorial election and local issues. No such luck.

Why is it there is so little local news coverage? What is the solution? Seems to me there is a great need for a Denver News Wiki.

I'm going to the Rockies game with my son. Has been a tradition with us since they came to town to see one of the opening games of the year.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

I just sent out this email to a few of my friends:

(Please forward to anyone who might be interested
in helping me decide what to do next that will be helpful to
the Denver GOP, OK? Ask them to send me their
thumbs up or thumbs down on going ahead with
this. Thanks! John)

Did you see this on p 4E in today's Denver Post?
Entire column by Fred Brown devoted to the
Anyone but J-Hic idea:

My barber has committed to running. He figures he
can get about 400 votes from his customers.

If Everyone Runs for Mayor we might be able to
force a run-off. There will be no extra expense because
there is going to be a run-off anyway for many of the
city council seats where there are more than two

Seems to me this could really energize the GOP in
Denver. Which District Captain can get the most votes
from his or her District? How many votes can Mary Smith
get? Will a very substantial candidate emerge we can
all get behind? What a great way to get all the precinct
and block worker positions filled by May 1.

What's our best next step?

Here's my idea:

I'm going to invite the Mayor to a news conference next
Wednesday or Thursday at the State Capitol where we
will announce a series of weekly forums. Everyone running
as a write-in candidate will be given 2 minutes of time at
the mike, and a table where he or she can distribute literature
and/or talk with people. The Mayor will be given the final word,
as much time as he wants to respond to what he has heard.

Here's my questions to you:

1) If the Mayor agrees to do it, would you attend the news conference?

2) Should I invite Mike Rosen to MC?

3) Is this the best next step, or should I put my energy into something else
in your opinion? If something else, what?

Thanks very, very much for your feedback.


de gustibus non est disputandum"
In matters of taste there is no disputing."

John S. Wren, MBA+
Grassroots Educator & Consultant for Startups.
Inspired action since 1979.
960 Grant Street, #727 Denver, CO 80203
What's new? See John Wren's eJournal

Denver Socrates Cafe
Good discussion about interesting topics.
2nd Thursdays, 7 p.m., Trinity Church, 18th & Broadway
Possible topic at our next meeting: Who should govern us?

Denver IDEA CafeHelp to turn your inspiration into action.
Fridays, 2 p.m., Panera Bread, 13th & Grant
Brainstorming topic at next meeting:
"How to get the most votes as a write-in candidate."