Sunday, September 28, 2008

My friend Kevin just posted a comment on my entry here from yesterday:

Kevin, can't the church and others encourage non-college educated to vote? The question is not so much what has been, but what could be. And no other institution can bring neighbors together like the caucus. In a way, it is like jury duty. It is a civic duty. What's wrong with that?

And as far as statistics about who attends, why should we trust them?

The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls by David W. Moore

Beware of polls. That’s the message of this new book from a former executive with Gallup Polls.


John Kane, a Religious Studies prof at Regis, explain in the school newspaper why it’s ok for Catholics to vote for Obama. Click here

This is the comment I posted:

I'm a recent (10 years) Catholic convert and a very recent Democrat (this year).

My first vote for President was for a Democrat, and I have always liked the emphasis on community of most Democrats. But when I went back to graduate school during Watergate, I fell under the spell of two attractive young women at the College Republican recruiting table at registration, and then under the spell of Karl Rove when he led a Student Fieldman School (what the Washington Post called a dirty tricks school) here in Colorado, and even more so when I helped Rove conduct similar schools around the county.

Since then, I've always voted a straight party ticket for my GOP "team."

Now I'm having second thoughts about both these decisions. That's why I'm no longer a Republican, and that's why I no longer feel an obligation to only vote for the candidates of one party or to see my party as the source of salvation for the country.

Now my loyalty is to my God and my Country, not my political party.

A political party is useful to me as a Catholic citizen when it is a megaphone that helps me express my informed, and hopefully inspired, will.

Colorado Democrats for Life was not allowed to have a table at the Colorado Demoratic Convention in Colorado Springs. All Catholics should be outraged by that fact.

Why remain a Democrat in face of that unjust discrimination? Because I think I can make a difference. C.S. Lewis says Christians should take up the fight in the thinnest part of the line, right now for me that means being a Democrat.

It seems to me that Catholics in Denver can best serve by being involved in our local neighborhoods through our neighborhood caucus system and to elect party leadership in 2010 that is more inclusive.

For more about our Colorado Caucus, the tool that can enable us to bring about real change if we develop the political will for it, see my comment posted on Mark Stricherz's Sept 19 post on his

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mark Stricherz is the author of Why the Democrats are Blue: Secular Liberalism and the Decline of the People's Party (Encounter Books). His stories have appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Chicago Tribune, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, Commonweal, and Crisis. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife and daughter.

He gave a very interesting talk this week at the John Paul II center here in Denver. My problem with it was not his definition of the problem, how seculars are taking over the political process, but with one of his proposed solutions, getting rid of our wonderful neighborhood precinct caucus system.

Here are the comments I just posted on his blog (blog address above):

I was able to attend your appearance here in Denver, thanks for the very thought provoking talk.

It was disturbing to hear you encourage the demise of what is seems is the last place in America that the voice of the common person has an impact, the precinct caucus.

Outsiders still have a chance of getting elected with the caucus system, Mike Miles is an example here in Colorado. He almost won, and his grassroots organizing resulted in the election of our current State Chair, much to the dismay of Chris Gates and the Democratic establishment.

And look at Barck Obama: There is absolutely no way to call him the insider in the primary and to keep a smile off your face.

You say the primary is fairer because more people can vote. If people can’t arrange their schedule to get the day off, do they really want to participate? And in our representative system, we take turns serving. There is no need for everyone to participate; there is just the need that the system be open and available to everyone. Our founders had a deep fear of the sort of direct democracy you seem to envision.

Francis Schaeffer warned that making moral issues like abortion subject to a popular vote of the people in the post-modern pegan society that we’ve become would be a fast track to disaster. The caucus has been an effective tool for pro-life Republicans, there is no reason it can’t work just as well for pro-life Democrats if we develop the political will between now an 2010.

We get a much higher level of accountablity from our representative with the caucus system. When we were distributing literature at one of the state conventions here in Colorado in 2002 as part of our fight against Amendment 29 which would have killed our Colorado Caucus, a man who had moved here from California read the flier and then said to me:

“Yes, I’ll support what you are doing to save the caucus. You people here in Colorado don’t realize what a great system you have. I moved here from California, and out there candidates just hire people to circulate petitions and then run advertisements. Candidates don’t have to talk with the voters. With the caucus, they have to talk with us and we know who is representing us.”

We get better candidates with the caucus system. Most start with participation in their neighborhood caucus, and they learn to use the system to stay in touch with voters after they are elected.

For Catholics, there’s another big reason to support the neighborhood caucus system vs. the impersonal primary exercise: How can we love our neighbor if we don’t know our neighbor’s names? With the decline of what Robert Putman calls “social capital” we need to preserve things like the neighborhood caucus that force us out of our cocoons.

I hope you’ll rethink your position the wonderful neighborhood caucus system, one of Teddy Roosevelt’s progressive reforms and what I think is the full flowering of what our founders intended. We need to encourage more states to adopt it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I usually don't like these business startup checklists, but this one seems to be particularly helpful, at least to me as I'm thinking about how I'm using the Internet to build my business. What do you think of it?

Top 10 Suggestions for Online Business Startup Success:

1. Take a clean-sheet approach to an idea, and try and come up with a truly original or unique idea, or a spin on an existing idea that will be instantly appealing to people.

2. Sketch out your idea to its fullest, without looking at any possible competition. If you want to lead, you have to assume the horizon is endless and everyone is behind you, not in front of you.

3. Turn your idea into something of substance with a demonstration of it that actually works as soon as possible. Long before a business mode or business plan, a working demonstration shows you (and others potentially interested in your idea) what’s possible.

For the other 7 suggestions, click here.

I gave a talk yesterday at the Pikes Peak chapter of the Business and Professional Women and was asked what I thought of the current Wall Street crisis and proposed solution. I said, what solution? When is one of the Presidential candidates going to speak out against it? David Harsanyi says it better this morning:

Politicians flail in face of financial crisis
By David Harsanyi, Denver Post click here for entire article.

Politicians expend a considerable amount of energy trying to prove they are just like you or me. Well, it turns out, they aren't lying. Just like you and me, they have absolutely no clue what's going on.

And watching these people endeavor to "rescue" us from financial apocalypse only crystallizes, once again, that Washington is the preferred destination of the ethically disabled...

I posted this comment on the above article:

Fellow citizens!

Whether you are reigistered as a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green Party, other party, or Unaffiliated, I hope you will join us for one or more of these meetings in the next few days! Sometimes being in a face-to-face discussion leads to new insights that just aren't possible online or in exchanges of the written word.

I'm going to bring the current financial crisis up as a topic at these free, open group meetings this week. I hope you can join us:

Denver Socrates Cafe, Thursday (Sept 24), 7 p.m., Trinity Church, 19th & Broadway. More info and RSVP

Denver IDEA Cafe, Friday (Sept 25), 2 p.m., Panera Bread, 13th & Grant. More info and RSVP at

Denver Speakers Corner, Sunday (Sept 27), 4 p.m., Civic Center, North Pavilion on Colfax across the street from the Denver Newspaper Agency. More info and optional RSVP at

The elite don't seem to be doing so well with this crisis, let's see what the grassroots here in Denver can come up with!

I'll post a summary of what's discussed on my blog next Monday morning, where you'll also be able to post your further comments.

You can help by attending yourself, and also by copying and pasting this message into an email you forward along to your friends who might like to join us in this imporant effort.


I hope you'll join us for one of these meetings and that you'll help us spread the word about the meetings. Then check back here to see my summary of the discussions, and to post your comments on the problem.

I'll be forwarding the result of our work to the White House and both leading Presidential candidates.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


I just saw the Cohen Brother's new film Burn After Reading in the great tradition of their previous films from last years No Country for Old Men to Fargo and Raising Arizona.

Once again the Cohen's make us laugh at selfish, self-centered people and the life they create for themselves. "Don't sweat the little stuff, and it's all little stuff." Little stuff like marital fidelity, humility, and following the rule of law.

Upton Sinclair (it's his birthday today 1878-1968) would approve.

Thursday, September 18, 2008 is a new website that will provide: news on ballot initiative activity across the country; the capacity to search for information by state or issue; historical information and context; and research and resources on the ballot initiative process.

Some think that initatives are undermining our representative form of government, with sledge-hammer direct democracy that gives too much power to certain individuals who are to profit from their ablity to gather the resources required to force issues onto the ballot and then pass them with massive advertising expenditures.
“All the news that is fit to print.” Slogan of the New York Times, which was founded on this date in 1851 as the New-York Daily Times, by journalist and politician Henry Jarvis Raymond, who had been fired from the New York Tribune and bitterly wanted to drive them out of business, and former banker George Jones . The paper changed its name to The New York Times in 1857. The newspaper was originally published every day but Sunday, but during the Civil War the Times, along with other major dailies, started publishing Sunday issues. The paper's influence grew during 1870–71 when it published a series of exposés of Boss Tweed that led to the end of the Tweed Ring's domination of New York's city hall.

It's lucky Raymond & Jones didn't have the "benefit" of the government programs designed to help new businesses get started. They were all on parade yesterday at the annual SBA small business fair at the Denver Public Library. I'll be talking about the day, and comparing it to what I've learned about the startup process since 1979 and recent research findings on the startup process in my talk tomorrow at the Denver IDEA Cafe, 2 p.m., Panara Bread, 13th & Grant. It's at least worth the price (free), hope you can join us. More info and RSVP at or check back here over the weekend for a copy of my remarks.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Today is Constitution Day in the United States, because it was on this day in 1787, at the old State House in Philadelphia, that the final draft of the U.S. Constitution was finalized and Ben Franklin gave a talk urging the states to adopt it.

There is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and (I) believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other. Ben Franklin

SMALL BUSINESS FAIR The U.S. Small Business Administration will hold a free Small Business Resource Fair and Expo from 10:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. today (Sept 17) at the downtown Denver Public Library, 10 W. 14th Ave. Parkway.

Commercial lenders, angel investors, business-assistance organizations, chambers of commerce and government agencies will offer counseling on starting, building and expanding a business. There will also be panel discussions on finding startup capital, choosing a lender or investor and winning government contracts.

I’ll attend to ask the startup panel my annual question: "Who has read Dr. Amar Bhide’s The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses, what the publisher of Inc. Magazine has said is the most important book ever written about startup." Last year finally the business librarian at the Denver Public Library said yes she had read it, “only because you ask that same question every year.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

David Skaggs, executive director of Colorado's Department of Higher Education, who from 1987 to 1999 represented Colorado's 2nd Congressional District, writes in today’s Denver Post:

The creation of an informed and engaged citizenry was a core reason for founding universal public education. Twentieth-century education reformer John Dewey reiterated the public education system's commitment to the civic mission of schools: "Democracy must be reborn in each generation," wrote Dewey, "and education is its midwife."

Despite this commitment, education for and about democracy has suffered over the past generation. As the emphasis on literacy and math has dominated school reform discussions, schools are offering fewer required classes in social studies, civics and government.

Here’s the comment I just posted on Skagg’s column:

Every two years we get a chance for a state-wide civics lesson with our Colorado Caucus.

How about a program to send high school Sophmores to observe and report on every caucus meeting in the state starting in 2010. They could then return as Seniors to vote, on a "learners permit" if they weren't yet 18.

The Colorado Press Association through their members across the state could provide training for the Sophmores, and compile the Sophmores caucus-night observations into an overnight report that would provide valuable, much needed information to the media while providing great experience for the students in civic participation and journalism.

In the mean time, I hope Colorado students will take advantage of the free lessons in civic participation that are provided each week at Denver Socrates Cafe and Denver Speakers Corner Both of these could be spread across the state with just an encouraging email from Mr. Skaggs.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Have you seen Tim Berry's surprising new book The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan? It's available for free right now online at:

I say it's surprising because it is in part an apology for much of the work he's done over the last decade or so in being part of the "you must write a business plan" choir. Tim is the founder and president of Palo Alto Software, the manufacturer of Business Plan Pro, the best selling business planning software, and he has published books and written many magazine articles on planning.

I've gotten to know Tim over the last couple of years through an exchange of emails and a couple of telephone conversations.

On my first phone call to Tim, I said that it seemed to me that much of what the Small Business Administration and others have to say about planning is just plain wrong.

I asked him if he had done formal market research and if he created a written business plan before he'd started his business. "No" he said, and I like to think that is part of what got him thinking about what has resulted in this new book.

There is no mention of me in the book, and that's OK. But it's hard to understand how he could fail to cite the important work of Dr. Amar Bhide who I have repeatedly drawn to his attention. Dr. Bhide has written what the publisher of Inc. Magazine has called the most important book every on the topic of business startup, The Origin and Evolution of New Businesses.

In it, Dr. Bhide makes the case that successful businesses don't start the way that the Small Business Administration and most academic programs say they should start, with formal market research and formal strategic planning. If planning worked that well we'd have a planned economy and not a market economy.

I'll be digesting Berry's new book, and also the manuscript of Dr. Bhide's new book which he recently sent me, The Venturesome Economy this week and be talking about them, along with my own advetures in startup, at the IDEA Cafe this week. More info about the free meeting and RSVP at

Sunday, September 14, 2008

RINOs & DINOs Unite!

The Denver Post has an article this morning about the Palin phenomena, see and I posted this in response:

RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) and DINOs (Democrats In Name Only) unite!

Party loyalty is just a form of mental illness, in my opinion.

It will not be the end of the world if either Obama or McCain is elected, either one will do about the same thing, and that's the way it should be.

And because of that, party loyalty is not a virtue but rather a vice. Kool-aide Democrats and kool-aide Republicans with their politics of hate are what is killing this country. They are the cause of the negative ads that sane people hate.

At their best, both political parties are just tools for the grassroots, platforms for we the people to express our will. In the long run it does not matter which political party you pick, just that you choose one and participate.

I have NO respect for the people who hated Obama right up until the time it became clear that Hillary was not going to get the nomination. Same with the pre-nomination McCain haters. These fools are what's wrong with our potentially wonderful two-party system.

This year is a water-shed year for our country not because of what happening at the top of either ticket, but because the millions of new people who have been drawn into the grassroots. We have a chance for the renewal, but only if people who love their country more than their political party get involved.

Each major political parties over the next election cycle will either take us further into the hate and confusion of kool-aide leadership, or start the renewal of the reasonable and a return to true hope and real change.

As a conservative Democrat who was a state delegate for Clinton, I'll wait until after the debates to make a final decision about who I'll support in the privacy of the voting booth. And no, please don't pass the kool-aide.

Do you want to be an agent of real change? Join us this afternoon in Civic Center for the Denver Grassroots Rally. RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) and DINOs (Democrats In Name Only) unite!

For more information and optional RSVP see

What do you think? Is party loyalty just an easy substitute for thinking?

I hope you’ll join us this afternoon for Denver Speakers Corner! More info and optional RSVP at

Thursday, September 11, 2008

We all remember where we were 7 years ago. Where will we be in 2015? Life is short, let's get started! How may I help you?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Colorado History Museum is doing a living history project, here’s a video they have produced of my friend Walt Young:

Here’s a video I made of Walt a few months ago:

Yes, Walt, life is sweet. Thanks for making it just a bit sweeter for so many of us.

If you'd like to join me and Walt at our Thursday evening Socrates Cafe, there's more information at

Would you do me a favor? Please forward a link to this along to people on your email list you think would be interested. They will thank you, and so will I if you'll let me know what you've done.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." To have a happy family “…one should live so as to have the best for oneself and one's family." Leo Tolstoy, who was born on this date in 1828.

From today’s Greeley Tribune:

We are living in a historic time. We have the opportunity and the necessity to envision a new way of living that will fulfill the promise of the founding brothers of our nation. What will matter is not that they were Christian, but that they had a vision of governance that eschewed wealth and power of the few for the power and dignity of "We the People."

We are at a crossroads in our nation wherein the promise of our ideals is in jeopardy and the vision of this country is nearly bankrupt. We need a debate on what we want for the future of our children and grandchildren. We must get beyond our propensity to react to events and work to envision the life we want. The process of creating this nation is not nor ever was finished with the writing and ratification of the Constitution. We must do our part in our time to ensure the continuation of the ideals we hold to be self-evident, "that all people are created equal and entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Our visioning process needs to include at least three levels. Our families are the rock on which our society stands. They cannot stand alone, however. Human society has always been about helping each other survive, so we formed communities, cities and nations. In our time, we are facing global problems that cannot be solved by a single nation. We are in this together, and our vision of community must broaden to include every living thing on this planet -- human, animal and plant. This is the vision that our Native American brothers and sisters have always held sacred.

What vision do you want to see for your community, your world? We have evidence every day in our lives of the vision of greed and the idolization of wealth. We have become a nation of rapacious consumers, addicted to getting more and more stuff. We are complacent about corporate greed that puts money profits over people's lives. Didn't it disturb you to read in this paper that people are dying in the California fruit and vegetable fields for lack of shade and water because the owners are oblivious to the suffering of their laborers? That is the obscenity of our current way of life. Where are the "Christian" values you so like to talk about?

What vision do you see for your nation? Is it the vision that the lust for power wins every time, that lies and dirty tricks are OK as long as the "right" party is doing it? Is it the vision that as long as I have my house, car, toys, "I've got mine," and you can go to hell?

There is another way to be and relate to our world, and ultimately it is old-fashioned and very American. This is the vision of purpose, national purpose. We are in this together. We are the people. We are each other's neighbors. We are each other's keepers. When there is a vision for a society that is based on compassion, our resources and our will to accomplish justice for all is possible.

What will it take to get there? Rigorous honesty, as they say in Alcoholics Anonymous. We need to become a nation that faces our dishonesty and hypocrisy, our lies and our addictions to wealth and power. We are not exceptional because we have a powerful military. It is our American ideas that are powerful. To truly value democracy, we must return to the Founders' ideas that wealth and power are anathema to good governance. Take this opportunity at this historic moment and think about what you really want for this country and for this beautiful planet we all call home.

Claire Barta teaches violin and viola lessons, plays in the Greeley Philharmonic, and is a photographer. She is also a political junkie and 12-year Greeley resident.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Happy Grandparent’s Day!

I’m the grandfather of 4 now, up from just 1 this time last year! My oldest daughter Regan and Tim here in Denver just adopted their 2nd this time a beautiful girl, and daughter Brooke and Ned in Houston had twin boys in March.

I never knew my grandfathers, they both died before I was born. But my pop’s mother, my Mamaw, and my mom’s mother, my MyrnaMom and my step-grandfather Daddy Mack, all in Amarillo, Texas, were big influences on my life for which I’m very grateful.

Where 2 or 3 are gathered…

The Denver Post today has an editorial about the election that is only 8 weeks away.

I posted this comment:

Would you like to join the live debate?

Then I hope you'll join us this afternoon or any Sunday afternoon for Denver Speakers Corner. Take a turn on the soapbox or just listen in as others share their passion about issues, causes, concerns, and candidates.

Denver Speakers Corner, each Sunday, 4 p.m., Denver Civic Center, under the pavilion on Colfax, across Colfax from the Denver Newspaper Agency. More info and optional RSVP at


Join us for the Denver IDEA Café, each Friday, 2 to 3:30 pm at Panera Bread, 13th & Grant St. in Denver. Free and open to all. More info at or call (303)861-1447. Speakers next Friday (Sept 12) Ian Kernan and Gretchen Bryant

Since 1994, we invite successful entrepreneurs to share their experience and we brainstorm.

SORRY, NO MULTILEVELS. If the only reason you want to attend IDEA Cafe meetings is to recruit for your multilevel (or other) sales organization, or to find customers, please don't. That really takes away from our mission, to try and help people find their own unique calling. Yes, I know that maybe joining your sales organization is what some people are being called to do, but they are not the kind of people we are trying to help with this group. We are trying to help the person who wants to make their own unique vision a reality, please respect this purpose.

Here are recent comments about the IDEA Café:

Every Friday for the last 10 years, local business consultant John Wren has infused the city with entrepreneurial spirit by hosting Idea Cafe, a conversation group for anyone starting a new career, business, or campaign. 5280 Magazine

“ It is an opportunity for people to get ideas about something they might be stuck on relating to their business and if others can put in constructive criticism you can possibly come to a solution and get un-stuck. ” — Alicia Persich (Jun 16, 2008)

“ If you don't know what your going to do next, do this! ” — brent (May 23, 2008)

“ Other people should join if they have an interest in hearing entrepreneurial stories and in brainstorming - for themselves or other people in the group. I received great brainstorming assistance today! ” — Mike Kraft (May 2, 2008)

“ Motivation to get your business going, lots of ideas for your key problem area you need to address, meeting like minded people going through the same start up or growing pains you are experiencing. ” — Davyd Smith (Apr 19, 2008)


Finally, I’m forming a new, and final, Franklin Circle here in Denver. It will be comprised of people who want to help strengthen the grassroots here in Denver with the free, open forums of Denver Speakers Corner and the IDEA Café. We’ll meet once a month for the mutual support of these two projects, and to help provide peer support for each other in our business and political ventures. If you’d like more information, contact me at or (303)861-1447.

Let’s get started!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Texas Observer RNC blog on John McCain’s acceptance speech last night:

The speech may not have wowed the delegates, but, lockstep as they are, it might not matter. What matters is how viewers around the country receive his words: as a sincere invitation to join him, or as shallow hucksterism at the 11th hour?

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

I give up. After several attempts to get the entire video to upload, here is the first 5 minutes of last Sunday's Denver Speakers Corner. It's very much worth watching, hopefully by next Sunday I'll have solved the technical problem and you'll be able to see the whole thing. Here's what I was able to upload:

For more information and optional RSVP for next Sunday, go to

Luke Bodley will be with us Friday at the Denver IDEA Cafe, he's very creative and will be a great brainstormer after we hear his startup story. RSVP at