Category Archives: Colorado

The Klingenschmitt Conundrum: Why Colorado Republicans Keep Losing Big Races

gordon-klingenschmittNow, not only do top Colorado Republican candidates Bob Beauprez (governor) and Cory Gardner (U.S. Senate) have to contend with a so-called “personhood” measure on the ballot, they have to share the stage with Gordon Klingenschmitt, Republican candidate for House District 15.

Klingenschmitt recently made the following remarks, as Fox31 reports: “The open persecution of Christians is underway. Democrats like Polis want to bankrupt Christians who refuse to worship and endorse his sodomy. Next he’ll join ISIS in beheading Christians, but not just in Syria, right here in America.”

I disagree with Polis’s position on laws forcing business owners to act against their judgment; for some of my reasons, see my recent blog post for the Objective Standard. But Klingenschmitt is not here expressing reasoned disagreement: He is expressing bigoted hatred. Some of Polis’s proposals are relatively bad in the context of American politics (and some of them are relatively good), but comparing him to the butchers of Islamic State is just evil. (Colorado Republican chair Ryan Call denounced the comments, as Fox31 reports.)

In an “apology” video—in which Klingenschmitt bizarrely mixes his version of the “ice bucket challenge”—Klingenschmitt says he was using hyperbole to “exaggerate to make a point.” He accused Democrats of lacking a sense of humor. How ridiculous. He has made a point, alright, although not the one he intended to make.

Consider a couple other off-the-wall remarks this Republican candidate has uttered:

• “I looked into [a woman's] eyes as she began to weep and I said ‘you foul spirit of lesbianism, this woman has renounced you, come out of her in Jesus’ name’ and she began to wrestle with that and suddenly her eyes began to bug out. . . .”

• “The Bible defines spiritual discernment, and the ability to see invisible angels or demons, or the Holy Spirit, influencing human morality. . . . Julius Genachowski, the outgoing FCC chairman . . . has not enforced decency standards. . . . There’s perhaps a demonic spirit of tyranny or immorality inside of him. . . .”

In Colorado’s primary election, 3,472 of Klingenschmitt’s fellow Republicans voted for him over his opponent to put him up to replace Mark Waller, a Republican who ran for Attorney General (until getting trounced in the primary).

Yes, these Colorado Republicans offered a bigoted exorcist as a candidate for the Colorado legislature—and then Republicans wonder why metro, women, and nonsectarian voters routinely hand big elections to the Democrats, despite the Dems’ many problems.


Aurora Theater Shooting “Foreseeable,” Federal Judge Rules

U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson declined to toss lawsuits against Cinemark regarding the 2012 mass murder at the Century Aurora 16 theater on the grounds that such an attack was “foreseeable,” John Ingold reports for the Denver Post. Jackson wrote, “Although theaters had theretofore been spared a mass shooting incident, the patrons of a movie theater are, perhaps even more than students in a school or shoppers in a mall, ‘sitting ducks.'”

I tend to agree with Lenore Skenazy’s views on the matter, as expressed for Reason:

The judge seems to be saying that because we do not live in a perfect world, free of all violence, all businesses open to the public should be constantly on guard against psychopathic killers. . . . [T]he ruling . . . endorses what I call ‘worst-first thinking’—dreaming up the worst case scenario first (‘What if someone comes in and shoots up our book club?’) and proceeding as if it’s likely to happen. Worst-first thinking promotes constant panic. The word for that isn’t prudence. It’s paranoia.

That said, Cinemark’s no-guns policy did render the movie patrons “sitting ducks” and almost certainly made the theater more enticing for the psychopath against whom the no-guns policy obviously did nothing.

Do Colorado Police Really Need 1,160 M-16s and 8 Mine-Resistant Vehicles?

Kudos to Chris Vanderveen and Denver’s 9News team for reporting this important story: “Colorado’s law enforcement agencies have acquired a vast arsenal of military-grade weapons, vehicles and equipment since 1999 under a Department of Defense program. . . .” Among other things, Colorado police have acquired “1,160 M-16’s and eight mine resistant vehicles.” Do we seriously expect the police to keep the peace when they’re outfitted for war?


Denver Deputy Punches Out Inmate, DA Declines to Prosecute

A Denver sheriff’s deputy was caught on video walking up to an apparently non-aggressive inmate and violently punching the man to the ground. The inmate had said something to the officer (I know not what), and stood up when the officer walked over to him. As far as I can tell, the officer punched out the guy because he was irritated with him. If you or I acted that way, we’d almost certainly see the inside of a jail, and we’d almost certainly be prosecuted for assault. But not the cops! “DA investigators determined that an unjustified use of force could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” Noelle Phillips reports for the Denver Post. But why not put the matter to a jury? Watch the video and decide for yourself.

Fort Collins Passes Bag Tax (that’s Not Really a Tax)

Image: Norman Ack

Image: Norman Ack

The city government of Fort Collins, Colorado, just passed a five-cent tax on disposable shopping bags, set to be implemented on April 1, 2015. Only, legally, they can’t call it a tax, or they’d have to get voter approval, so it’s a “fee.” See the Coloradoan for details

For a second I thought maybe talk about “consent” might mean that shoppers could decide whether they wanted to pay the fee, but of course that’s not what “consent” means in this context. According to a Q&A by the Coloradoan, the language means merely that the store has to tell you it’s charging you for a bag. You are free not to “consent” to the fee—in which case you don’t get the bag.

The most onerous part of the ordinance might not even be the fee; it might be the records requirements for merchants. According to the Coloradoan:

Retailers will be asked to record the bag fee charge and the number of disposable bags provided on customers’ receipts. They should maintain such books, accounts, invoices and documents necessary to verify the implementation of the charge, the ordinance says. The retailer should keep and preserve those records for three years and make them available during any inspection or audit by the city.

In other words, retailers are supposed to track every bag that leaves in the hands of a customer. I suspect that that burden alone will cause smaller retailers to stop offering bags altogether.

For more on why the bag fee is a terrible idea, see my June 20 op-ed for Complete Colorado. (Note that, as amended, the ordinance lets retailers keep the proceeds of the bag “sales.”)

Denver’s “Affordable Housing” Mandates Made Housing More Expensive

As Randal O’Toole writes for Complete Colorado, Denver’s so-called “affordable housing” ordinance has made housing in Denver less affordable for most people. As O’Toole explains, when the city forces developers to sell some of their residential units for below the cost of production, developers have to make up the funds by charging others more. And people who buy the “affordable” units are saddled with absurd restrictions, so they’re not really such a good deal. I suspect that the ordinance also results in a net loss of development, as it’s less attractive to do business in a city whose politicians and bureaucrats are openly hostile to your efforts to earn a profit.

Gaylord and the Sickening Politicization of Development

Aurora’s efforts to facilitate the development of the Gaylord Rockies hotel illustrate the far-reaching influence of city politics on commercial development. The Colorado Springs Gazette reports, “The city of Aurora invented an incentive tool called an enhanced taxing area to levy higher admissions and lodging taxes, imposed a general improvement district with a 40-mill property tax levy, and declared agricultural land blighted to use urban renewal tax incentives.” In many cases development is now a matter of regional governments muscling landowners through threats of arbitrary “blight” designations and taxing different business owners at radically different rates to “manage” development.

Hickenlooper: Bloomberg “One of the Greatest Mayors” in History

Is it any wonder that Colorado Democrats are taking marching orders from Michael Bloomberg? Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper write a “fawning letter” to Bloomberg and called him “one of the greatest mayors, not just in New York, but in the history of the United States.” See Todd Shepherd’s report for Complete Colorado for details. Bloomberg is one of the nation’s most prominent nannyists who advocates gun bans, restrictions on soda, and more. Of course, Bloomberg’s replacement, Bill de Blasio, is a far greater enemy of liberty.

Boulder County Puts “Little Liz” Out of Work

Boulder County bureaucrat Carrie Haverfield thinks there’s an “ick factor” to carnival goers having their photos taken with “Little Liz,” “a 29-inch-tall woman from Haiti,” so the county shut down the sideshow, the Longmont Times-Call reports (hat tip to Complete Colorado). As fair coordinator Laura Boldt told the paper, the move puts Liz “out of work and unable to pay any medical or living expenses for those three days.” Apparently Boulder hates little people and wants them to be poor. But why is this even a political issue? “The county owns the fairgrounds,” the Times-Call notes. How about we get government out of the entertainment business? (Although obviously Boulder bureaucrats would make excellent clowns.)

New Wikimedia Commons Images of Colorado Political Figures

As a regular user of Creative Commons images from Wikipedia and Flickr, I make an effort to share my own images in the Commons. When going through some prints recently, I found some nice images from the Independence Institute’s 2002 banquet (see my write-up). I scanned and uploaded images into Wikimedia Commons of Dinesh D’Souza, Hank Brown, Bill Owens, Mike Rosen, Douglas Bruce, Jared Polis, and Mike Coffman. Of the images I’ve shared in the Commons, the one I’m proudest of is a 2005 photo of Christopher Hitchens, in my opinion the finest photograph of Hitchens available in the Commons.

Beauprez, Fracking, and More Colorado News for 8/8/14

Here are some of today’s important news items in Colorado:

Governor’s Race: Bob Beauprez, the Republican candidate for governor in Colorado, has released his “Stronger Colorado Plan,” which, at first glance, seems like a decent proposal to trim regulatory burdens and increase transparency (among other things). I still have a lot of reservations about Beauprez, but he may yet end up on top of my “lesser of evils” list.

Fracking: “A Larimer County judge overturned Fort Collins’ five-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing Thursday,” Ryan Maye Handy reports for the Coloradoan. That’s good news. (As an aside, I think the appropriate term is “Coloradan”; no “o.”)

CU Boulder: The philosophy department at the University of Colorado, Boulder, has been accused—fairly or unfairly—of tolerating sexual harassment. The latest development, as reported by the Daily Camera, is that the university is trying to fire a tenured professor for writing a report critical of the university’s handling of sexual assault allegations. I don’t have enough information to make any clear judgments about the case.

Sports: And the Broncos beat the Seahawks last night in the first pre-season game—at least a small taste of victory after the horrible Superbowl loss.

Udall’s Half-Truths about Gardner’s Birth Control Stance

Over at, Katie Pavlich writes, “In an ad released today attacking his opponent, Republican Congressman Cory Gardner, Udall claims Gardner wants to ‘ban common forms of birth control.’ This statement is completely false.” The headline calls Udall a liar. But if Udall is a liar for telling half the truth, then so is Pavlich. So let’s get to the bottom of things.

Udall’s ad cites Garder’s “8-year crusade that would ban common forms of birth control.” Did Gardner lead such a crusade? Yes, he did, insofar as the so-called “personhood” measures he actively supported would have had that effect if passed and fully implemented. Gardner even circulated a “personhood” ballot initiative, as Personhood USA brags. For details about the impact of “personhood” on birth control, see the 2010 paper by Diana Hsieh and me. But, more recently, Gardner decided “he was wrong to support previous personhood efforts” because of their possible impact on birth control, reports Lynn Bartels for the Denver Post. In June, Gardner wrote an op-ed advocating the legalization of “oral contraception for over-the-counter purchases by adults.” That’s a very bold and a very pro-liberty move, and not one I’ve seen Udall support. Of course, Gardner still supports abortion bans.

So Pavlich misrepresented Udall’s claims about Gardner, but in his ad Udall did not reveal important facts about Gardner’s change of heart. “Half the truth is a great lie.”

Dems’ New Taxes and Regulations Hit Colorado Tomorrow

A media release from Colorado House Republicans reports that two of the Democrats’ onerous, rights-violating laws go into effect tomorrow: “Senate Bill 029 will impose more than $13 million in fees on retail paint products to fund a new paint recycling program,” while “Senate Bill 103 . . . will phase out the sale of traditional plumbing fixtures, such as [for] toilets and shower heads, and mandate only low-flow products be sold in Colorado.” I’m still angry over the Democrats’ idiotic Amazon tax. Is there any reason for me not to vote party-line Republican this year? It seems like every day Colorado Democrats create some new reason for me to loathe them.

The Problem with Gun-Owner Welfare

A media release today from Colorado House Republicans states: “House Bill 1275, which authorizes the state of Colorado to purchase property to build a multi-use shooting facility in Mesa County will go into effect. The shooting facility is projected to attract more than a 100,000 visitors annually along with world-class competitors from around the world.” Insofar as the purpose of this tax-funded venture is to provide opportunities for recreational shooting, it is a form of welfare for gun owners, and therefore a violation of individual rights. People who do not shoot guns recreationally, or who do not even like guns, ought not be forced to finance the recreational shooting of those who do. Now, there is  an element of this that probably supports the state’s constitutional mandate that government establish a general militia and store “public arms”—a mandate the state almost entirely ignores—so there is some aspect of the bill that comports to some extent with the proper purposes of government (i.e., to protect rights). However, any state expenditure in this area should be strictly tied to militia purposes. Otherwise, recreational shooting facilities should be tax-exempt, private enterprises with due protections from abusive litigation.

Colorado DMV Expects to Issue Thousands of Drivers Licenses to Illegal Immigrants

“Colorado is one of eight states that enacted laws in 2013 allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for [drivers] licenses,” Jennifer Oldham reports for Bloomberg, and the “DMV expects to process 9,551 applicants through September.” Hat tip to Melissa Clouthier. I’m on record as supporting open immigration for rights-respecting people who pass through appropriate check points; I have no developed opinion regarding the state programs in question. The obvious concern is that states may be issuing official government licenses to people whom the federal government has not cleared as posing no threat to others.

Colorado Senator King Faces Felony Charges over Time Cards

Until recently, Colorado state senator Steve King was running for Mesa County sheriff as his legislative term winds down. But, amid accusations that he falsified time cards while contracting with the sheriff’s office, he dropped out of the race; a vacancy committee found a replacement. Now, as Nancy Lofholm reports for the Denver Post, King has been charged with “three felonies and two misdemeanors for allegedly falsifying time cards, theft and failing to report income as required of state legislators.” As a Denver Post editorial pointed out, King seems not only to have billed over sixty hours per week at one point, but he seems to have asked for mileage and reimbursement on days off. Maybe there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for the apparent discrepancies, or maybe King played fast and loose with his paperwork. At any rate, at least Mesa County will hire a new sheriff who is not to my knowledge operating under a legal cloud.

A Final Conversation with Ken Gordon

Ken Gordon was always baffling to me—how could such an intelligent man be wrong about practically everything? Gordon was one of my favorite Democrats despite our frequent disagreements, and I was saddened to learn that he passed away suddenly Sunday.

If memory serves, I first met Gordon in the political aftermath of the horrific Columbine High School murders, when he wanted more restrictive gun laws and I defended people’s right to keep and bear arms. Among other things, Gordon wanted additional liability for gun owners; I argued the laws he proposed would be used to persecute gun owners and that existing laws adequately addressed such matters as child endangerment.

More recently, Gordon and I tangled over the campaign finance laws; you can view a first and second debate between us.

Just a couple weeks ago Gordon and I exchanged emails on the subject. Sadly, that is the final conversation we will share. I thought I’d reproduce it here in his honor.

On December 10, Gordon sent out an email to a list to the effect that people don’t like big money in politics. I thought I’d get in a quick dig by pointing out that, in the recent recall elections in which two Colorado Democrats lost their seats in the state senate, the politicians lost despite huge spending advantages. I wrote, “Yes, isn’t it just wonderful that Morse, Giron, and Am. 66 lost despite radical spending advantages?”

He responded:

You are cherry picking examples to suit your position. In the vast majority of cases the most well funded candidate wins, and you know this. Are you in favor of unlimited contributions and expenditures in campaigns? If so you are in favor of a Congress similar to the current one which cares more about the capital gains rate than it does about hunger, because that is what the funders care about.

A libertarian philosophy leads to vast concentrations of wealth and political power in the hands of the few and the destruction of the concept of political equality.


I wrote back:

“You are cherry picking examples to suit your position.”

I wasn’t making an argument here; I was merely responding positively to your point that many people do not respond to high-dollar campaigns.

“In the vast majority of cases the most well funded candidate wins, and you know this.”

In most cases, a candidate is well funded because the candidate has a lot of popular support. To a substantial degree you’re reversing cause and effect.

“Are you in favor of unlimited contributions and expenditures in campaigns?”

Yes. If contributions are limited, then who is doing the limiting? The answer is government. When government forcibly prevents people from spending their own resources on speech, then that’s censorship, and I oppose censorship.

“If so you are in favor of a Congress similar to the current one which cares more about the capital gains rate than it does about hunger, because that is what the funders care about.”

That’s a non-sequitur. (As a matter of fact, I think Congress should be involved with capital gains at the same level that it is involved with hunger, which is to say not involved at all.)

“A libertarian philosophy leads to vast concentrations of wealth and political power in the hands of the few and the destruction of the concept of political equality.”

a) I’m not a libertarian. b) My political philosophy calls for minimal political power, such that it can be concentrated neither in the hands “of the few” nor in the hands “of the many.” c) I advocate equal legal protection of individual rights, not coercively achieved “equality” of outcomes.

Thanks, -Ari

He replied:

Well I think we agree on some of this.  I don’t want coercively achieved equality of outcomes. I want equal opportunity, including the opportunity to fail.  To me this seems to be an argument for a good public education system.  How do you feel about this?


I thought we’d already had a pretty ambitious email exchange for one day, and I didn’t want to get into a deeper discussion about “public” education, so I let the matter go.

I was always pleased when I helped beat Ken in his political battles and always sorry when he beat me. But I was honored to trade barbs with him, and I’ll miss the opportunity to do so again.

A Conversation with State Senator Nancy Spence

Last week I saw State Senator Nancy Spence at an Independence Institute event. She agreed to sit down for a video interview. Mostly we discussed “public” education and Colorado politics.

Obviously I don’t always agree with Spence—and there are quite a few tough questions I did not ask during this interview—yet I appreciate Spence’s long-standing commitment to Colorado politics. I wish her well as she leaves the legislature and begins new projects.

Is McInnis Exonerated?

The basic facts of the plagiarism scandal that brought down Scott McInnis’s gubernatorial campaign have not changed since they were reported last fall. The Hasan Family Foundation paid McInnis $300,000 for a series of articles on water and related speaking engagements. McInnis paid Rolly Fischer “a few hundred dollars per article” to do much or most of this work. Fischer, claiming he thought McInnis just wanted background material, handed in text largely written by Judge Gregory J. Hobbs.

In short, McInnis turned in the work of somebody else, compiled by somebody else, under his own name, for a $300,000 paycheck. The best that can be said of McInnis’s behavior is that was a complete scumbag whom voters were quite sensible to reject. The only bright spot is that McInnis “has since repaid the foundation the full amount,” the Denver Post reports.

But did McInnis do anything illegal or anything that should cost him his license to practice law? The Colorado Supreme Court Attorney Regulation Counsel sensibly says no. In letters signed by John Gleason, the Counsel describes the following findings:

“In 2005, Mr. McInnis instructed Mr. Fisher [sic throughout] not to plagiarize any work in the articles he drafted… Mr Fisher did not and does not believe that such use was plagiarism, as he believes Justice Hobbs’ article is part of the ‘public domain.’ Mr. Fisher did not disclose to Mr. McInnis that he had imported the work of Justice Hobbs into his article. … Mr. McInnis did disclose his retention of a research assistant to Ms. Hasan in writing in 2005, contrary to the Foundation’s representation in its press release in 2010.”

So, in other words, McInnis didn’t know “his” work contained large sections of uncited material, and McInnis told the Foundation that he had a “research assistant” (who apparently did practically all the work for a tiny fraction of the pay).

If that’s a “vindication” or an “exoneration,” I’d hate to see a conviction! In the words of the Counsel, “[T]here is not clear and convincing evidence of a violation of the disciplinary rules.” Just so.

In seeing some conservatives rush to praise McInnis (and, in some cases, to castigate the Hasans), I can’t help drawing a contrast to the conservative reaction to Bill Clinton’s sex scandal. In a certain, twisted sense, Clinton “did not have sex with that woman” (because an Oval Office blow job arguably doesn’t count as “sex”) and “there’s nothing going on between us” (because “it depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is”).

It is in that Clintonian sense that we may boldly declare: “Scott McInnis did not have plagiarism in that paper, ‘Musings on Water.'”

Churchill, McInnis Team Up for Plagiarists Anonymous (Humor)

Today in Liberty Toastmaters, I played the role of humorist. I’m not much of a comedian, but thankfully the Colorado Republican Party has made the job a relatively easy one. Here are the results:

Notice that all of the details I discuss in the first part of the talk are true, though obviously Ward Churchill has not actually teamed up with Scott McInnis or offered to help him.

Especially due to the nature of the talk, I figure I should exhaustively list my references.

The Ward Churchill story is several years old, so I don’t recall all of the media I’ve read about that. It’s a well-known and easily researched story. The Denver Post broke the story about the water articles for which McInnis was paid that were partly plagiarized, and again many other news outlets have reported it. People’s Press Collective has the video of Ken Buck’s attempt at a humorous reply to Jane Norton. A follow-up video by Norton’s campaign replies to Buck. While I concocted the imaginary group “Plagiariasts Anonymous” independently, I since discovered that the title is not original with me; a Google search yields 32 existing results for it. I borrowed my joke about Tom Tancredo’s cowboy boots from my previouspost, which also discusses Tancredo’s conditional pledge to run for governor. I borrowed the Monahontas joke again from myself; I used it first in a 2005 talk. Everybody knows who painted Mona Lisa; my wife added feathers for this year’s joke purchased from (see below).

Also, neither Toastmasters nor Liberty Toastmasters has sanctioned or endorsed the contents of the talk nor those of any of my other works.