There's something about February -- it's cold, it's gloomy, the days are short, and pessimism reigns. It's not a month for falling in love, starting a new business, changing jobs or solving problems.
It's a month to hunker down, put on heavy jackets, read 19th-century novels, and watch junk sports on TV. And now that the Olympics are all finished, we can't even watch delighted Scandinavians triumph in obscure competitions (taped, between commercials).
And in politics, it's not a time to come up with brilliant new solutions to old problems, or fight new battles, or rant and rave. It's time to look at the good stuff, accept the bad, and rejoice in the mediocre. With that in mind, let's be calm, acquiescent and philosophical -- a regular Stepford columnist, as it were.
First, let's talk about guns. Much to the dismay of right (or left)-thinking progressives like myself, our amiable Sheriff John Anderson has given out about 5,000 concealed weapons permits in the last few years -- about one for every 75 adults in El Paso County. A lot of us thought that there'd be dozens of tragic incidents, wherein armed paranoid geezers would gun down obnoxious teenagers, or aggressive drivers, or outspoken liberals ... whatever!
In point of fact, nuthin' happened. Score one for the Right to Bear Arms Crowd. That said, maybe it's time to pay less attention to firearms generally. There are, as we have pointed out before, tens of millions of 'em in private hands. They're cheap, indestructible, easily concealable, and a lot of us think that the Constitution explicitly guarantees the right to own 'em. So speaking only for myself, I'm through worrying about 'em.
Next, Joel Hefley. He's arguably the least effective member of the U.S. House of Representatives. As a conservative Republican from Colorado Springs, he supports programs that are, in my opinion, utterly disastrous for this state and nation. But what are you gonna do? Last election, Joel cruised in with 83 percent of the vote. And after all, he's a perfectly nice guy, whose view of reality happens to be a little skewed.
And for those of us who remember some of his predecessors in office (Ken Kramer, Bill Armstrong and J. Edgar Chenoweth come to mind), Joel looks like a liberal environmentalist by comparison. And Joel, I could totally respect your hesitancy to get a congressional Web site and an e-mail address, thereby respecting the 18th-century roots of that institution.
And I'm through worrying about sprawl, too. Between a quiet suburban neighborhood, where the kids can play, the dogs can run free, and you can have cookouts, gardens, decks and two-car garages on the one hand, and a totally cool downtown loft on the other, which would you choose?
If you're a God-fearing, Hefley-supporting, gun-owning, and garden-cultivating American, you'll choose the former. And if you're single, cute and female, or a lazy old geezer who doesn't want to drive I-25, or a quirky, irrelevant liberal, you'll choose the latter. Everyone gets to choose their habitat; that's what makes America great for liberals, conservatives, and wandering moose.
And I don't care who Dick Cheney did/did not meet with while formulating the administration's energy policy. Does it really matter which antediluvian geezers have his ear? And why does the administration bother to hide it? Unless, of course, the visitor log includes Heidi Fleiss and Monica Lewinsky ... now that'd activate the ol' Cheney pacemaker!
And let's admit that Mary Lou Makepeace may have been the best mayor that this seedy little tourist destination has ever had. Look what she's accomplished: SCIP, Confluence Park, the renovated City Hall, thousands of acres of open space preserved, downtown revival, a booming economy, and a City Council that, for a few years, she kept under control and under her thumb.
It looks like things will revert back to the bad old days in a year or so, when term limits kick in for Mary Lou. We'll have an exasperated mayor (whoever he/she may be), and a quarrelsome, ineffectual Council. But that's OK; Mary Lou and her allies accomplished enough in four years to last for 20.
And finally no more ranting and raving about elected loonies, like MaryAnne Tebedo, or Charlie Duke, or Betty Beedy, or even non-elected loonies like Doug Bruce. We need more leaders like Charlie and Betty -- antic, thoroughly committed and utterly nuts. They're a lot more fun to write about that the current bunch, who are mostly mean, sour and boring.
And to end on the happiest note of all, Jim Mullen, like Generalissimo Francisco Franco, is gone, and he ain't comin' back.