Category Archives: Elections

Top Six Reasons I’m Glad the Recall Pushed Evie Hudak to Resign

The three successful recall efforts in Colorado politics this year are unprecedented. On September 10, voters recalled Democratic state senators John Morse and Angela Giron and replaced them with Republicans. On November 27, the third target of a recall election—my state senator Evie Hudak—resigned rather than face the voters and risk the Democrats’ advantage in the state senate. (With Hudak’s resignation, a vacancy committee will replace Hudak with another Democrat, maintaining the party’s 18-17 member advantage.)

In an article for Complete Colorado, I point out the absurdity of Hudak’s supporters claiming that the recallers—the very people engaged in democratic action to gather signatures and seek a recall vote—are somehow undemocratic. I note, “Although lawful, Hudak’s decision to resign replaces a democratic recall election with a profoundly anti-democratic decision by party elite.” Read the entire article.

There is more to say, however, about why it’s a wonderful thing that Hudak is no longer my state senator—even though she has denied me a voice in choosing her replacement. Here are my top six reasons.

1. Hudak supported the rights-violating, badly drafted anti-gun legislation heavily promoted in the state by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Obama administration.

2. Hudak heartlessly insulted a rape victim on the floor of the state senate—while invoking bogus statistics to browbeat the poor lady.

3. Hudak suggested that another legislator should “flip a coin” to decide a vote. State Senator Owen Hill asked Hudak, “How can I vote on it if we can’t have a little bit more discussion?” She replied, “Take your best shot… Here’s a coin you can flip.” Hill sensibly responded, “I didn’t knock on 20,000 doors so I could flip a coin.”

4. Hudak supported the Amendment 66 tax-hike proposal, a measure that voters thankfully rejected by wide margins.

5. During important legislative hearings, Hudak spent her time on social media.

6. Hudak’s supporters distributed a nasty, misleading flyer in an attempt to suppress the democratic recall effort, and, to my knowledge, Hudak did not condemn the flyer or those responsible for it.

Hudak was arguably the least competent legislator in Colorado. I for one rejoice that she’s out of office.

Democrats Versus Democratic Recalls: My Complete Colorado Article

On September 10, voters in Colorado recalled two state senators, John Morse and Angela Giron. The next day, I Tweeted, “The reason Dems hate Constitutional recalls in CO: Recalls favor those with deep convictions over those with shallow, transitory opinions.” My suggestion was met a quick rebuke from someone I know and respect, who called my claim “intellectually dishonest” and “vapid.” But, as I replied at the time, “Clearly recalls favor the most committed voters.” And even various Democrats admit as much.

I wrote up a much longer version of my argument, and Complete Colorado published the resulting article on September 18. I argue that Democrats didn’t criticize the recalls merely as a matter of partisan cheerleading or because recalls are somehow an “abuse of the political process.” Instead, I argue,

The reason Democrats dislike recall elections—particularly when they involve a clash over guns—is that fewer people tend to vote in them. Thus, recall elections tend to favor voters with deeply held beliefs and strong political commitments—the type of voters who will go out of their way to participate in an election on an unusual day involving a single race.

Along the way, I show that the recalls involved no “voter suppression.” (I had also Tweeted that, to today’s Democrats, “voter suppression” seems to mean “That nefarious force always and everywhere at work whenever Democrats lose.”)

Read the entire article.

Did Colorado Senator John Morse Claim that Gun Owners Have a “Sickness” In Their “Souls” that Needs to Be “Cleansed”?

In my latest Complete Colorado op-ed, I argue:

In context, [State Senator John] Morse does seem to imply that gun owners—at least those who robustly campaign for gun rights—have sick souls. If he meant something different from that—if he is prepared to say that rights-respecting people who own their guns of choice and who campaign for gun rights are perfectly moral to do so—now would be a great time for Morse to clarify his remarks.

I quote extensively from his March 8 comments in that article. If you still wonder about the complete context or the tone of his remarks, I have now put his entire speech on YouTube.

August 1 Update: Complete Colorado has published my follow-up article about Morse’s remarks. Morse did offer additional comments about his March 8 “sickness” speech with a March 13 release of the video of that speech. I summarize: “Although these additional remarks clarify that Morse was not claiming that all gun owners have a sickness in their souls, they do not retract Morse’s insinuation that many gun owners—namely, those who own the types of guns and gun magazines of which Morse disapproves and who campaigned against the Democrats’ anti-gun legislation—do have a sickness in their souls, in Morse’s view.” Read the complete follow-up for details.


Image: Wikimedia Commons

Colorado’s “Personhood” Candidates Take a Beating

In the previous two election cycles, Colorado voters defeated so-called “personhood” measures—intended to outlaw all abortion from the moment of conception and also restrict birth control and in vitro fertility treatments—by overwhelming margins. In 2010 the measure went down 71-29; in 2008 it lost 73-27. If failed to make the ballot this year, but it was still very much a live issue in the 2012 elections. Democrats used the issue effectively to push its allegations that the GOP wages a “war on women.”

Paul Ryan took continual heat for his support for “personhood”; for but one example see an article by Colorado Pols. And Democrats hammered down-ticket Republicans relentlessly on the issue.

Joe Coors, who challenged incumbent Democrat Ed Perlmutter, got badly beat, 53-41 percent. Now, I don’t think Coors would have won even had the “personhood” issue not been on the table, and elsewhere Mike Coffman won despite his support for “personhood.” Nevertheless, the Democratic Party distributed the following mailer knowing it would move votes:

In my state house district, the Democratic challenger trounced the incumbent, Robert Ramirez, 51-43 percent. The left hit Ramirez with a relentless onslaught of mailers hammering him for supporting “personhood,” of which the following, distributed by an outfit called Fight Back Colorado, is an example:

There is no doubt that “personhood” shifted votes to Democrats up and down the ticket in Colorado, though of course it’s hard to say if that one issue made the difference in any given race.

Democrats honed this campaign strategy in 2010, when it defeated Ken Buck in the U.S. Senate race by attacking his abortion-banning stance.

As I’ve been pointing out for some time, Colorado demographically tends to be the type of place where people want government out of our wallets and out of our bedrooms. Unfortunately, the Republican Party in this state is dominated by a religious right that wants to outlaw all abortion and discriminate against gays—and that explains to a large degree why Democrats now control the entire state government, again.


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Congressional Challenger Kevin Lundberg Discusses Political Activism

Months ago I interviewed Congressman Jared Polis about activism related to congressional politics. Although he replied promptly, I delayed in publishing his answers until yesterday. (Sorry!) Because Polis now faces a challenger for his seat, Kevin Lundberg, I thought it was appropriate to ask Lundberg a comparable set of questions. His answers follow.

Disclaimer: Those I interview do not necessarily endorse any of my views or writings. (Nor does this interview imply I agree with Lundberg’s positions.)

Please see my “activism” category for additional interviews and discussions about political activism.

Ari: In general, how much do members of Congress tend to bow to party politics, and how much to they tend to make up their own minds based on their independent research and ideological convictions? How do you intent to deal with party pressures should you win the seat?

Kevin: My experience is at the state legislative level, and that is enough to know that the normal trend is for legislators to go with most of the flow. I have spent ten years resisting that trend. It is not a good idea to be a lone ranger, for all legislative issues require a lot of group effort, but one must find likeminded people to help withstand the pressures of establishment politics. In Colorado I helped found and run the Republican Study Committee of Colorado to provide a viable alternative to the establishment trends that inevitably grow more government. In Washington I intend on joining the Republican Study Committee, and similar alliances. I also have learned that it is essential to know what is negotiable, and what are non-negotiable principles, and stick with those principles.

Ari: By the time somebody gets to Congress, many of his or her views and commitments are already set. To what degree is it worthwhile for somebody trying to advocate a set of ideas and policies to interact with members of Congress? Should they instead focus on educating other activists, the general electorate, and lower-level candidates still formulating their worldviews? Obviously you have expressed strong convictions on various matters. How to do plan to weigh the views and advice of constituents in light of your established views?

Kevin: It is always a balance between one’s personal ideals and the district’s overall needs and opinions.

The best way to influence elected officials is before the election. I am honest and forthright with the voters before and after the election, but that is not always the case for every candidate. Before this election is over I trust careful voters will examine my principles for good government and weigh it against the values of my opponent. Remember, now is the time for this conversation.

After the election I will not change my tune. I intend to listen as carefully as I can and then cast my votes according to that information I have gathered and the principles of good government I have clearly outlined during the campaign season.

Ari: How do you plan to interact with constituents?

Kevin: Even as I have tried to do in Larimer county with my state legislative duties, I need to spend as much time here in the district and not in D.C.. I also will make constituent services a high priority for my staff.

Ari: What are the best forums for somebody to interact with a member of Congress? Town halls? Letters? Phone calls? Fundraising events? What are the best ways to interact with you now and should you win the seat?

Kevin: Town halls, and other public meetings are the most effective, but letters, calls, and to a lesser extent, emails all have an impact. I have attended a Monday morning breakfast in Larimer county just about every week of the year for all of my legislative career. It was the event Congressman Bob Schaffer started when he ran for Congress. He attended most weeks while in Congress. I hope to continue that tradition. In addition, I know I must conduct town halls all around the district, and keep an open door policy, even as I have as a state representative and state senator.

Ari: What approaches and arguments work best with a member of Congress? Which ones prove ineffective?

Kevin: For me the most effective arguments are: Is it constitutional? Will it really be in the best interest of the people in the district? Will it reduce government and enhance liberty? Telling me that some big contributor wants something is about the last thing I want to hear and has little effect on my opinion.

Ari: “Public Choice” economics talks about the problem of “concentrated benefits, dispersed costs.” How will you distinguish between special-interest appeals (at the cost of everyone else) and policies truly in the best interests of the country as a whole? How do you hope other members of Congress do that? Or is the problem intractable?

Kevin: From my vantage point I cannot judge other members of Congress, but, as I answered in question five, special-interest appeals do not hold much weight with me. Ask any full-time lobbyist in Denver, they can confirm that I do not bend to accommodate some special interest if it is not first, and foremost, the best choice for the people in my district.

Congressman Jared Polis Discusses Political Activism

Last year I asked Congressman Jared Polis to answer some questions about politics and activism, and he was kind enough to reply. Unfortunately, I got behind on my projects and kept delaying the publication of the interview. I am pleased to make it available now. Obviously, I am aware of the fact that Polis is now locked into his next reelection campaign, so, I will pursue the possibility of asking Polis’s opponent, Kevin Lundberg, a comparable set of questions. (Incidentally, with the recent redistricting, I was drawn out of Polis’s district and into that of Ed Perlmutter.)

Over the next few days I’ll release several other interviews about activism. I have already published an interview with Melissa Clouthier about Twitter activism. Please see my “activism” category for more.

Disclaimer: Those I interview do not necessarily endorse any of my views or writings. (Nor does this interview imply I agree with Polis’s positions.)

Ari: While you’re a “Boulder Democrat,” you also show an independent streak, in that you criticized the auto bailout, you’ve attended free-market events, and you’ve suggested liberty-oriented solutions to immigration and drug policy. But obviously there’s a lot of pressure to conform to the party line in DC. In general, how much do members of Congress tend to bow to party politics, and how much to they tend to make up their own minds based on their independent research and ideological convictions?

Jared: Currently, all members of Congress are nominated by parties in their districts. In most districts, selection by the majority party is tantamount to election due to the gerrymandering. In more competitive seats, the champions of both parties battle it out in a general election.

Most behavior I see is less about towing the “party line” than it is about the fact that members of Congress are products of the districts that elect them. Members are a product of the communities they hail from, and have similar values to most members of those communities.

With resources like the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, my staff and I have access to a significant amount of independent research to help us inform decisions, but we are also avid consumers of media, as well as students of public opinion.

Ari: By the time somebody gets to Congress, many of his or her views and commitments are already set. To what degree is it worthwhile for somebody trying to advocate a set of ideas and policies to interact with members of Congress? Should they instead focus on educating other activists, the general electorate, and lower-level candidates still formulating their worldviews?

Jared: We are far from experts on every topic, so most likely if a constituent approaches us about a policy or idea it will be one worth considering. I sign onto bills frequently that are brought to my attention by constituents and that I might not know about otherwise. Obviously a visit with a member of Congress will not likely result in them changing their value system, but try to pitch the policy based on their existing value system. For instance, if the member is extremely religious, theological arguments may be most effective. If the member makes decisions based on science, use science and data in your presentation. It always helps to show how an issue directly affects a member’s constituents.

On most issues, politicians are followers of the general electorate so surely moving the general electorate is the most effective way to move elected officials.

Ari: How many letters do you receive on average during a month? How many of those does a typical member of Congress actually personally read?

Jared: I have received anywhere from 100 (slow month) to over 1,000 (in the midst of health care debate) per month. A summary of what the letters are about is prepared including a tally on each issue and presented to me weekly (including phone calls to the office and emails from constituents). If the letter has a new legislative idea or relates to something important in the district, I generally see it.

Ari: What are the best forums for somebody to interact with a member of Congress? Town halls? Letters? Phone calls? Fundraising events?

Jared: All of the above. Activists shouldn’t limit themselves. Most members will schedule a meeting with constituents who are visiting DC. Showing up at town halls and other public events can also be effective but not as much if the same person shows up at five town halls. For it to look like a movement it has got to involve different faces and voices.

Ari: What approaches and arguments work best with a member of Congress? Which ones prove ineffective?

Jared: It is best to research the member of Congress you are approaching so you understand their values and decision-making process. The wrong approach can backfire and move the member in the opposite direction.

Ari: “Public Choice” economics talks about the problem of “concentrated benefits, dispersed costs.” How do you and other members of Congress distinguish between special-interest appeals (at the cost of everyone else) and policies truly in the best interests of the country as a whole? Or is the problem intractable?

Jared: Let me know if you figure this out! One example is tax reform. The vision is that a revenue neutral reform that eliminates loopholes and limits deductions could bring would create a substantially lower, flatter and simpler income tax rate for individuals and corporations. The difficulty in getting there is that, while most people would appreciate a lower rate and not having their decisions centrally incentivized out of Washington, each one of those loopholes and deductions has its own constituency that tries to preserve it. Thus the only likely approach is all or none, once some exceptions are made for tax expenditures then it is harder to make excuses about why others are not included. Tax reform was successfully accomplished in 1986 but the tax code has grown by leaps and bounds since then.

The challenge to free market conservatives is to attack tax expenditures—the loopholes and deductions—as vociferously as they do traditional spending. Whether you’re giving someone a special benefit through the tax code or through a direct flow of cash, they’re both spending. They both come with a cost to the Treasury. Yet many conservatives insist that there’s a distinction.

How Abortion Cost Ken Buck the U.S. Senate Race

Ken Buck’s anti-abortion stance cost him the U.S. Senate seat in Colorado.

True, Buck had other problems. He made a few gaffes, as when he jokingly said he should win because he he doesn’t wear high heels (a response to his primary opponent’s many references to gender), and when he likened homosexuality to alcoholism. The left unfairly attacked Buck for his prosecutorial work on a gun case and a rape case. Moreover, the Democrats did a good job getting out the vote for Michael Bennet.

But Buck’s anti-abortion position made more difference than any of those other things, alienating many women and independent voters. And it was only in the context of Buck’s perceived antagonism toward women’s right to control their own bodies that the “high heels” comment and the claims about a mishandled rape case gained traction.

A couple of claims Buck simply could not rebut, because they were true: he opposes abortion even in cases of rape and incest, and he initially endorsed Amendment 62, the so-called “personhood” measure, even though he later backtracked and said he wasn’t taking positions on state ballot measures.

The result? Bennet “led Buck with female voters, 56 percent to 40 percent, according to the [exit] polls, and… Bennet beat Buck among unaffiliated voters in the polls, 52 percent to 41 percent.” Moreover, “Bennet also did better among Republicans than Buck did among Democrats in the polls.” My guess is that the number of Republican women to voted for Bennet or at least declined to vote for Buck was substantial.

Buck whined after the election, “I wasn’t going to derail my message to have an election decided on abortion, or any social issue, for that matter.” But when you endorse a ballot measure that would totally ban abortion (along with various forms of birth control and fertility treatments), what you’ve done precisely is make the election largely about abortion.

Consider some of the other relevant news about the issue.

“Gov. Bill Ritter… agreed [with Republican Mike Rosen] that Republican Senate candidate Ken Buck’s hard-line stance on abortion helped cost him the election.”

“Ken Buck Hit Hard On Birth Control, Abortion In New DSCC Ad.”

Bennet ran partly on “protecting [women's] rights to safe, legal abortion.”

“Rape, incest victims rally against Buck.”

“Ken Buck: Opponents rally rape and incest survivors to decry his abortion policy.”

“Dem ads on reproductive rights aim to sharpen Sen. Bennet’s appeal to women.”

Bennet “seems to be the only candidate that’s not anti-abortion… I’m not really excited about him as a candidate — he’s kind of overspent in Washington.”

Or consider a first and second ad hammering Buck on his anti-abortion stance and related issues.

Or consider a few of the flyers mailed to my wife, an unaffiliated voter. These mailers, paid for by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, take some unfair shots at Buck but effectively hammer him on abortion. And they clearly link Buck to Amendment 62 and note that Bennet opposed the measure.





Election Reflections from the Bailey and Beezley Party

This edition of Free Colorado News features comments from Republican candidates Stephey Bailey, who lost his congressional race against Jared Polis, and Don Beezley, who won in State House District 33. Various activists also share their thoughts on the election.

Bailey hopes Polis’s constituents will help pry him away from the Obama machine, especially now that the Democrats are in the minority in the House.

Beezley notes that we need more capitalism and freedom to get us out of the economic mess caused by statism.

State Senator Shawn Mitchell explains that on election night voters pushed back against political controls over their lives. However, he cautioned, activists must take the fight to the state capitol if they wish to advance the cause of liberty.

Penn Pfiffner reviews a project he’s working on with the Independence Institute on finding real solutions to the state’s budget problems that involve targeted and substantial spending cuts.

Yvonne Iden talks about why she supported Bailey’s congressional run, and notes his opposition to abortion controls enabled her to support him.

Though at a Republican election night party, Kelly Valenzuela said that, while she likes Bailey, she voted for John Hickenlooper for governor because she disagrees with Tom Tancredo and Dan Maes on immigration and abortion.

Check out what these and other activists have to say on the video!

Colorado Election Notes

Here are some trends and lessons from the Colorado elections, based on preliminary results available early Wednesday morning.

1. The majority of Colorado’s Congressional delegation is now Republican. Whereas the Democrats previously held five of the seven seats, now Republicans hold four. The Republicans had a realistic chance of picking up three seats, and they picked up two. In the Third District, Scott Tipton beat John Salazar (brother of former Senator and current Secretary of the Interior Ken). In the Fourth District, Cory Gardner trounced Betsy Markey in a traditionally Republican district. The only Republican loss in a competitive Congressional race was for Ryan Frazier, who went down to incumbent Ed Perlmutter.

Republicans Mike Coffman and Doug Lamborn held on to their seats, as expected, as Democrats Diana DeGette and Jared Polis held on to theirs. However, Stephen Bailey performed relatively well against Polis in the Boulder-centric district, passing the 40 percent mark in early returns.

2. Coloradans rejected the anti-abortion measure by a wide margin. In 2008, Amendment 48 got 27 percent of the vote. I figured this year’s vote for Amendment 62, the follow-up measure, would be higher because of higher Republican turnout. Early returns indicate the percent in favor will be higher, but not by as much as I had imagined — perhaps 30 percent.

Maybe in 2012 the idiots behind the measure will run it again, so as to again drive Democrats to the polls, tempt self-destructive Republican candidates to endorse it and thereby alienate unaffiliated voters, and ensure the elections will be largely about social issues rather than economics.

3. Ken Buck struggled because of social issues. With 85 percent of precincts reporting, 9News reported that Buck held less than a 4,000 vote lead. He should have easily walked away with this election. Senator Michael Bennet is not a good communicator. He was hand-picked by an unpopular governor so that Ken Salazar could go to work for a (now) unpopular president. (One of the many ironies of the race is that the Democrats beat up Buck for questioning the direct election of Senators, when Bennet himself was appointed.)

It is true that Buck suffered many unjust and misleading attacks. It is also true that Buck said some unfortunate things about high heels and alcoholism that made him look clumsy at best. But two lines of attack struck their mark. Buck endorsed Amendment 62 before backing away from it, and he said he would outlaw abortion even in cases of rape and incest. It was these positions that made Buck’s “high heels” comment and his actions as a prosecutor regarding a rape case seem to add up to a very frightening picture especially for many women.

4. Coloradans reject Governor Crazy. The possible good news for Republicans is that Dan Maes may actually cross the ten percent mark, maintaining “major party” status for the state GOP. But John Hickenlooper still outperformed Maes and Tom Tancredo combined. (I reluctantly voted for Tancredo, but there are many reasons why I’m happy he lost, even if I’m not thrilled that Hickenlooper won.) As an aside, Sarah Palin endorsed Tancredo, which only adds to her loss record here.

But let’s not forget the real story of the Colorado governor’s race: after driving other candidates from the field, Scott McInnis saw his campaign train fall off the cliff of a plagiarism scandal. If McInnis hadn’t entered the race, the Republicans would have chosen a competent candidate, and that candidate probably would have won. But it’s probably a tossup whether Republicans should hate Maes or McInnis more.

5. Fiscal restraint is no excuse for badly written laws. Ballot measures 60, 61, and 101 went down by wide margins. They would have restrained taxes and spending. (I voted for only the last of the three.) The measures were poorly written. The campaign for them was ineffective, while the campaign against them was well-funded and very effective.

6. Health Care Choice got drowned out. The opponents of Amendment 63 ran a very effective campaign against it without having to trifle with debating its merits. They simply asked voters to vote no on the numbers, which was with this major exception a pretty good strategy. My wife and I also received a flyer claiming that, like the spending measures, Amendment 63 was simply too confusing, and voters should oppose things they don’t understand. (If the Democrats were actually serious about that criticism they’d repeal the greater portion of the Colorado Revised Statutes.) Nevertheless, even though Amendment 63 had to fight uphill against the other ballot measures, and even though its proponents lacked major funding, it came close to winning. So the vote on Amendment 63 hardly reflects an endorsement of ObamaCare in Colorado. Interestingly, Oklahoma voters approved a similar measure.

7. Gridlock wins. The federal government is now blessedly gridlocked. I personally could use a break from all the far-left “change.” At 11:55 p.m., Ben DeGrow wrote, “I’m feeling very confident that the GOP will win the state house.”

2012 cannot come too slowly.

Open Letter to Tom Tancredo

Dear Mr. Tancredo,

While it still seems unlikely that you will overtake John Hickenlooper in the governor’s race, especially given that Dan Maes likely will pick up a few percent of Republican voters, you’ve done surprisingly well in the polls and created at least the possibility that you could win. Therefore, I feel I need to evaluate my vote for governor more thoroughly and explain to you and any other Coloradan who might be interested the reasoning for my vote.

I reluctantly endorse Tom Tancredo for governor, and I plan to vote for you tomorrow.

I have nothing against Hickenlooper. In normal times, I think he would make a very adequate governor. He has good leanings on civil liberties, I like his business background, and he has offered some nice rhetoric about limiting taxes and environmental controls. But these are not normal times.

The primary reason I am voting for you, Tom, is that you recently stated, “When I’m governor I will launch a Tenth Amendment revolution.” That Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Why is that important in today’s world? The Democrats in Congress have undermined what remains of America’s free market economy much more aggressively than I thought they would. They passed ObamaCare. They saw Bush’s bailout and raised by a “stimulus.” They appear to be preparing to aggressively inflate the money supply.

While you, Tom, shamefully and inexcusably voted for the Bush bailout, I believe you have the background, the fortitude, and the free-market leanings to fight the broader federal expansion of economic controls. Your experience in Congress and in state government makes you uniquely qualified to grasp the relevant issues and do something about them to the extent that a governor is able.

The secondary reason I am voting for you is that I think you will try to repeal the repugnant, unconstitutional tax measures the Democrats imposed on us, including the “Amazon tax.” I frankly don’t think Hickenlooper has the spine to buck his fellow Democrats on such matters.

There are many, many reasons why I will have a difficult time voting for you. Giving any additional attention to your newfound party sickens me. Recently you endorsed discriminatory taxation, even if you were “leery” about doing so; this is indicative of your frequent disregard for free-market principles. As Elliot Fladen has pointed out, your war against immigration has gone far beyond respectable conservative arguments about welfare funding and assimilation.

The main reason why I hesitate to vote for you, however, is that you have endorsed the absurd and monstrous Amendment 62. For my complete argument against the measure, I refer you to the paper by Diana Hsieh and me, The ‘Personhood’ Movement Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters that Rights Begin at Birth, Not Conception.

Whereas Ken Buck has backed away from his endorsement of Amendment 62 — thereby allowing me to vote for him — you have emphasized your endorsement. For example, in an October 22 debate, you said about Amendment 62: “Yes, I signed the petition. Yes, I voted for it.”

That is the main reason why I seriously considered voting for Hickenlooper — and why I very much understand if others do so.

Yet I am so frightened by the Democratic expansion of political economic controls that I am even going to go back on my word. On March 18, I wrote: “I want to make something clear at the outset, just so no Republicans are surprised later on: I will vote against any candidate who endorses the monstrous ‘personhood’ measure. That is, I will not abstain from voting, I will vote for the Democrat, as my strongest available statement.”

It was only a few days later that Obama signed the Democratic health bill into law.

So what can justify me going back on my word by voting for you, despite your endorsement of Amendment 62? First let me point out that making a unilateral statement of intent is not like a contract binding two parties. Second I will note that a statement of intent depends on one’s predictions of the future. Plans must change as circumstances change. Voting in times like these, when no candidate save Stephen Bailey has actually earned my vote, can only be a matter of strategy.

While it appears likely that Amendment 62 will gather more votes than it did last time, it appears more likely that it will fail miserably, again. What concerns me is that we will likely see the measure yet again in 2012, and I very much do not want the governor of the state promoting the measure. I guess that’s when we will meet the real Tom Tancredo (on the off chance that you actually win).

I want to state clearly here that I am voting for Tom Tancredo in spite of his endorsement of Amendment 62, not because of it. I think the same holds true for many people voting for Tancredo in this very unusual year.

I agree with the basic reasoning of Leonard Peikoff on the matter (though I disagree with a couple other positions Peikoff has taken lately):

The Democrats for decades have been mostly the typical, compromising pols of a welfare state, making things worse, but relatively slowly, thereby leaving us some time to fight the theocracy-in-waiting [of the Republicans]. But Obama, the first New Left President, has introduced a new factor into his Party: a crusading egalitarian nihilism that is subverting and destroying the U.S., at home and abroad, much faster than anyone could have imagined a year ago. …. [T]he country’s loud rejection of the Democrats will certainly help to quell the Obama-ites for a while. And there is a more specific, albeit short-range benefit of a Republican win: two years of governmental paralysis — gridlock! when it is most desperately needed. … In short: vote for the Republicans in order to have the time to defeat them.

My appeal to you, Tom, is that, should you win, you govern soberly and reflectively by free-market principles. My appeal to John Hickenlooper, should he win, is that he think seriously about the erosion of economic liberty in our state and in our nation — and govern to restore individual rights across the board.

Tomorrow I will smile twice while casting my ballot. Once when voting for Stephen Bailey, and again when voting for Amendment 63, “Health Care Choice.”

When I vote for you, Tom, I will grimace. But I will do it all the same. I just hope you pay some attention to the reasons for my vote.

Ari Armstrong



Ben November 1, 2010 at 8:03 PM
At least Tancredo is for marijuana legalization. Hickenlooper is not. Hickenlooper also kept the lid on the rampant gang attacks on Lodo bar patrons during(approximately)the of 2009. I don’t endorse, but 62, but was less reluctant to vote for Tancredo.

Let It End!

This photo shows the political flyers we received in the mail just today!


Thankfully we don’t have a television — though every time I pass a TV in public there’s some hyperventilating attack ad playing.

But, just remember this: if stupid ads work, it is only because many voters let them work.

Election Update: Free Colorado News

In this edition of Free Colorado News, I discuss some reasons why Ken Buck is having trouble maintaining his lead. For one thing, he is continually attacked for his terrible views on abortion, which he opposes even in cases of rape and incest. I also review Buck’s recent comments on homosexuality. Update: Buck clarified his position by saying he wasn’t likening homosexuality to alcoholism, except that both are influenced by genetic factors (which is true, as it’s true for heterosexuality).

I briefly summarize the Colorado effort to contribute to the Ayn Rand Institute’s Books for Teachers program, which places Rand’s novels in schools. So far the Colorado effort, led by Anders Ingemarsen, has raised over $18,000, with a goal of $20,000.

Finally, I review the support for the so-called “stimulus” package expressed by Senator Michael Bennet and Representatives Betsy Markey and John Salazar. I suggest they read Henry Hazlitt’s Economics In One Lesson.

Colorado Ballot: Free Colorado News

In this episode of Free Colorado News, I interview Mike Krause of the Independence Institute about Amendment 63, “Health Care Choice.” I discuss how I’m going to vote, and I interview Todd Shepherd and Justin Longo about Complete Colorado.

Here’s what Krause had to say:

Amendment 63 does two very basic and important things. First, it amends the Colorado constitution to say that the state of Colorado cannot force its citizens to purchase a public or private health insurance product against their will.

That means that we can’t have a Massachusetts-style RomneyCare here in Colorado, and it also means that the state of Colorado can’t help the federal government enforce the federal mandate passed as part of ObamaCare.

The second thing this does is it simply protects your right to pay cash out of pocket for the health care you want, when you want it. …

So it’s a preemptive strike against a single-payer system in Colorado, and even if we eventually end up with one, you’ll be able to operate outside of the system if this is in place.

What Amendment 63 doesn’t do is it doesn’t interfere with the state’s ability to regulate or license doctors or regulate health care…
It just guarantees a right to health care choice, and what could be more important than that?

So how am I voting? Obviously I’m voting yes on Amendment 63.

Equally obviously, I’m voting no on Amendment 62, the so-called “personhood” measure.

What about the so-called “Ugly Three” spending-cut measures? I didn’t develop a position on these until my dad and I wrote up an article for Grand Junction Free Press, due out this Friday. I’m voting no on Amendment 60, because it would backfill local tax spending on education with state tax spending. I’m voting no on Amendment 61, regarding state and local debt, because I want to debate spending issues directly, and I think the mechanism of spending can be debated on a case-by-case basis.

However, I’m voting yes on Proposition 101, a straight-forward tax cut on income tax, vehicles, and telecommunications. Regarding roads, so long as they’re government owned, I think they should be funded through dedicated use taxes, such as the gasoline tax. (Or, even better, they should be funded by tolls wherever feasible.)

I’m voting no on Proposition 102, regarding bail bonds, for reasons explained by the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition.

I’m voting for Ken Buck, because, while he’s horrible on abortion, at least he’s backed away from Amendment 62, and he’s the right candidate to help restore fiscal sanity in Washington, D.C. Plus, as I note in the video, “Senator Michael Bennet is a tax-and-spend tool of the Obama administration.”

I’m probably not voting in the governor’s race. While I like Tom Tancredo and appreciate his straight talk (not to mention his deep policy knowledge), he’s vehemently opposed to immigration, and he actively supports Amendment 62. (Plus, his new party, the American Constitution Party, is absolutely insane.) Anyway, Democrat John Hickenlooper is so far ahead it probably doesn’t matter how I vote.

As I say in the video, “For U.S. Congress, I will proudly vote for Stephen Bailey, who truly understands liberty and the concept of individual rights, and I’m convinced will fight to achieve that.”

I’ll let Todd Shepherd and Justin Longo of Complete Colorado speak for themselves; their interviews begin at minute 3:46 of the video.

Free Colorado News 10/5/10

In this episode of Free Colorado News, I review the latest polls for the Colorado races for governor and U.S. Senate; criticize Rep. Debbie Benefield’s energy policies; review ballot measures 60, 61, and 101; praise Aurora Health One, and show a few clips from the Denver zoo and aquarium.

Update: A new Rasmussen poll out today shows Buck leading 50 to 45 percent. Meanwhile, the Rasmussen governor’s poll shows John Hickenlooper leading Tom Tancredo by 43 to 35 percent. (I misstated Hickenlooper’s figure as 42 percent in the video.)

Salazar Wants Economic Controls, Personal Liberty

The following article by Linn and Ari Armstrong originally was published October 1 by Grand Junction Free Press.

Mainly we want to talk about Congressman John Salazar. However, one bit of news regarding Ken Buck’s campaign for U.S. Senate is so extraordinary that we must briefly address it.

In our last column, we hammered Buck for endorsing Amendment 62, which would, among many other nefarious things, ban the birth control pill. We are pleased to note that, since the publication of that column, Buck has withdrawn his endorsement of the measure. He told the Denver Post that he didn’t realize it would ban common forms of birth control.

There are some who disingenuously condemn any politician who changes his mind. While we are the last to endorse shifting one’s opinions to conform to public sentiment, we strongly encourage politicians to reevaluate their positions in light of fact-based reasoning. All of us can make mistakes. The right move is to recognize a mistake and correct it, and we respect Buck for doing so in this case.

We’ve always thought Buck was the right candidate to help restore fiscal sanity in D.C. By distancing himself from the insanity of Amendment 62, Buck signals that he’s more interested in reining in out-of-control spending than he is in trying to run our personal lives.

Unfortunately, while Congressman Salazar would leave us free in the personal sphere, he has promoted President Obama’s economic controls and big-spending programs.

We asked Salazar some tough questions, and he responded with some thoughtful answers. We appreciate that. Indeed, his answers are so thorough that we can’t do them justice here; please see for his complete comments.

We like Salazar’s general approach to church-state issues: “I believe one of the greatest threats to our religious freedom is for the State to attempt to favor one faith over another, or impose undue restraints on an individual’s freedom to worship.”

However, Salazar is simply wrong when he claims that “Church-State issues have been minimal.” What about faith-based welfare? Or tax-funded abortion? Or prayer and creationism in tax-funded classrooms?

We’re pleased to see that Salazar supports civil unions (though not marriage) for gay couples. He supports stem-cell research. He also replied, “Although I am personally opposed to abortion, I support a woman’s right to choose.”

We only wish Salazar would show some consistency. He thinks the choice about whether to get an abortion “should not be made by legislators,” but by individuals. It’s too bad he doesn’t trust individuals to make their own economic decisions, too.

True, Salazar voted against the $700 billion bailout under President Bush. However, he voted for the $787 billion stimulus package under Obama. What explains the seeming contradiction?

Salazar said he opposed the “bailout of Wall Street” because he was “concerned about using taxpayer dollars to bailout those who gambled recklessly with investors’ money.”

Okay, then why did he gamble with people’s money with the Obama stimulus? He said, “It was critical that Congress passed a stimulus package early last year to put a floor under an economy that was in a free fall.” But that is just balderdash inspired by British charlatan economist John Maynard Keynes.

In reality what Salazar voted for was legalized theft. All his split vote tells us is that he’s a man of party, not of principle. His only concern was who was doing the looting.

The principles of a sound economy have always been the same: a free market, full protection of individual rights (including rights to keep the product of one’s labor), and a government that otherwise leaves people free to act on their own judgment and associate voluntarily.

Federal politicians are the ones who put the economy in “free fall” in the first place by promoting risky loans and easy money. Salazar’s “stimulus” vote merely added new layers of destructive federal controls.

Salazar also voted for ObamaCare, and for that we can never forgive him. As the health bill unfolds over the coming years, it will result in more forced wealth transfers via manipulated health insurance premiums, politically induced demand for more “free” health care leading to skyrocketing costs, and bureaucratic rationing.

Do not let anyone tell you that ObamaCare was necessary to correct the failures of the free market. There has been no free market in health care for many decades. All of the problems involving health care and especially health insurance leading up to ObamaCare can be traced directly to decades of federal controls. (See the essay by Dr. Paul Hsieh and Lin Zinser at All Salazar accomplished was to again add more layers of destructive federal controls.

We think it’s time to elect members of Congress who understand the need for economic liberty and who will fight to achieve it.



Anonymous October 2, 2010 at 10:54 AM
“Buck has withdrawn his endorsement of the measure. He told the Denver Post that he didn’t realize it would ban common forms of birth control.”

Sigh….another politican who does not pay attention.
(Some have solid research staff to brief them.)

Keith Sketchley

Anonymous October 29, 2010 at 5:12 PM
Salazar no more believes in individual liberty than he does in economic liberty – as you point out, he believes only in the party line. None of these issues you cite as “personal liberty” are ones which are held strongly by Salazar – they are simply the party’s position. Salazar DOES believe in one more thing – the importance of the power and wealth of the Salazar family. Thus, he is no different than any other Tranzi, from Prince Charles and Otto von Hapsburg to Al Gore and the Kennedy family.

Free Colorado News 9/28/10

This four-minute video features brief interviews with Republican candidate Stephen Bailey, Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks, Kenneth Clark of Liberty Ink Journal, Dr. Jack Cassell, Tea Partier Paul Johnson, Chuck Plunkett of the Denver Post, and WWII vet Seymour Glass.

Read more:

Tea Party 9/12 March on Washington Video Interviews

Tea Party Prodded by Denver Post’s Chuck Plunkett

WWII Vet Seymour Glass of the 445th Bomb Group

The ‘Personhood’ Movement Is Anti-Life
* ‘Personhood’ Blue Book Challenge Lacks Merit
* Am. 62 Would Ban the Pill and Endanger Women (Ken Buck’s position)

Glass: Communist Groups Rally for Islamic Center

Rep. John Salazar Addresses Bailout, Church and State, and Abortion

Below are substantive answers by Congressman John Salazar to questions about the economy, the separation of church and state, and abortion and related matters. My father Linn and I sent a set of questions to Salazar’s team on August 12, and we received the answers via email on September 10. Our goal was to solicit Salazar’s answers to questions comparable to those answered by Scott Tipton (Salazar’s Republican opponent) for our article published by Grand Junction Free Press on August 20.

As readers will see, Salazar does a pretty thorough job of answering the questions, though he skips a couple. Following the questions are Salazar’s unedited comments. Because we will not be able to address his views until our October 1 column with the Free Press, Linn and I discussed the matter and decided to release Salazar’s answers early, and save our commentary until later. – Ari Armstrong

1. What are the main policy issues we face in this election?

2. What is your view of federal bailouts and “stimulus” spending?

3. What is your view of the current level of federal spending?

4. What do you believe is meant by the “separation of church and state,” and do you endorse it?

5. Should religious institutions receive tax dollars for providing welfare or other faith-based services?

6. Should the teaching of creationism or Intelligent Design be subsidized by tax dollars?

7. Do you support gay marriage or domestic partnerships?

8. Should gay couples be allowed to adopt children by the same standards as heterosexual couples?

9. Do you believe that abortion should be restricted by the federal or state government?

10. What is your view of Amendment 62, the “personhood” measure on this year’s ballot?

11. Do you believe that types of birth control, including the pill, and fertility treatments that may result in the destruction of a fertilized egg should remain legal?

Comments of Congressman John Salazar

I believe that the important issues facing us include economic growth and job creation, reigning in the budget deficit, and protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare. It was critical that Congress passed a stimulus package early last year to put a floor under an economy that was in a free fall, shedding 700,000 jobs per month. The economy has now begun to stabilize, so we should pair reductions in spending with providing tax credits for small business, along with incentives to encourage banks to provide credit to small businesses seeking to grow in order to create an environment for job creation. We should also consider extending the Bush tax cuts for one year to give us time to review the report and recommendations of the Deficit Reduction Commission, which are due on December 1.

I did not support the bailout of Wall Street. I was concerned about using taxpayer dollars to bailout those who gambled recklessly with investors’ money. I was also concerned that the bailout bill before Congress failed to address the necessary reform issues – it simply provided taxpayer dollars to those who created the problems leading to the collapse without any conditions or assurances that taxpayers would ever be paid back, or with establishing new structural reforms to prevent what happened from every happening again.

My view of Church-State separation issues – I believe one of the greatest threats to our religious freedom is for the State to attempt to favor one faith over another, or impose undue restraints on an individual’s freedom to worship. We are a nation founded on the view, as embodied in the Bill of Rights, on the freedom to believe, or not believe, as we see fit. As a Catholic, I do not want the State interfering with my right to worship. Fortunately, Church-State issues have been minimal as this right has generally been respected. But as with any right guaranteed by our Constitution, it is a right that we must be vigilant to ensure that we don’t allow any encroachment.

While I believe marriage is between a man and a woman, I do support civil unions or domestic partnerships in order to recognize certain state legal rights between same sex couples.

Although I am personally opposed to abortion, I support a woman’s right to choose. Today, our Constitution guarantees this right, and that right must be respected. The Supreme Court has recognized that some restrictions, such as parental notification, don’t unnecessarily burden the right of a woman to choose. I also agree that taxpayers should not be funding abortions. But the basic decision to terminate a pregnancy should not be made by legislators, but should be left to the woman and whatever network of family, friends, medical and faith groups she wishes to consult.

I do not support Colorado Proposition 62.

The question concerning the destruction of embryos resulting from fertility treatments really gets, in my view, to the issue of stem cell research. As you know, a federal judge recently overturned an executive order issued by President Obama that loosened restriction on embryonic stem cell research. I have supported stem cell research in the past, and will do so again should legislation be brought before the House to permit the research. Congress had passed stem cell research legislation twice in the past, but both times the legislation was vetoed by President Bush. This research holds great promise for addressing a wide variety of diseases, from diabetes to Parkinson’s disease. As long as ethical guidelines are in place and the practice is monitored to ensure only approved lines are used, I believe stem cell research should be allowed.

Lessons from the Maes Fiasco

Dan Maes didn’t exactly “win” the Republican primary for governor; he took advantage of scandal-plagued Scott McInnis losing it. But Maes did earn the support of many Tea Party activists through hard work and amendable rhetoric. He is now losing much of that support. Now, even if Tom Tancredo does not split the conservative vote, Maes has little chance of pulling off a victory. So what are the lessons?

First, being an “outsider” is not enough. Indeed, merely lacking political experience is no qualification whatsoever. The problem with McInnis was never that he was an “insider” (a former congressman), but that he held no stable or well-articulated positions, he seemed to routinely tell people what he thought they wanted to hear, and he made some unethical decisions in his work on the water papers. While it is true that “power tends to corrupt,” it is also true that any given individual in power need not grow corrupt. Moreover, the powerless also can suffer corruption. (Indeed, some people remain “outsiders” simply because they are corrupt.)

Second, what matters most is ideas, not status. I’ll pick a credible candidate with good ideas every time, regardless of that candidate’s level of political experience. The critical issue is simply this: does a candidate understand and support individual rights? Does a candidate endorse freedom of speech and religion and liberty in economics? Frankly, Tea Partiers were so worried about Maes’s “outsider” status that they neglected to check whether his rhetoric reflected deep principles or a calculated effort to win.

Third, credentials do matter. Please notice the qualifier “credible” in the paragraph above. No, political experience is not necessary to successfully hold political office. However, a candidate — especially one for so high an office — needs an established and credible resume. Maes lacks that. Not only has Maes’s experience in business and as a police officer provoked some tough questions, but Maes has, so far as I can tell, devoted very little of his life to the study of political philosophy.

As they tend to do, Republicans probably have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in glorious fashion. Democrats everywhere are on the ropes, and Governor Ritter has put in a lackluster performance. John Hickenlooper, while a nice guy and a credible candidate, remains the mayor of Denver. Practically any high-profile Republican could have beaten Hickenlooper: Shawn Mitchell, Hank Brown, Mark Hillman. If the race continues on its present course, Maes and Tancredo will split the conservative vote and Hickenlooper will skate to an easy victory.

Of course, this race has already taken more odd turns than anyone could have predicted. So perhaps it will take some more.

Tipton Wants Economic Liberty, Social Controls

The following article originally was published August 20 by Grand Junction Free Press.

August 27 note: Linn and I had asked for Congressman John Salazar, against whom Scott Tipton is running in Colorado’s Third Congressional district, to answer comparable questions before our article about Tipton was published on August 20. We sent our questions via email to Salazar’s office on August 12 and followed up with multiple contacts by phone and email. Finally on August 25 we received word from Salazar’s office that our initial email was received. Originally we had asked for Salazar’s answers by August 18. We still await his reply. -Ari Armstrong

Tipton wants economic liberty, social controls

by Linn and Ari Armstrong

Now that Scott Tipton has won the Republican primary for the Third Congressional race, we expect he’ll offer a tough challenge to incumbent John Salazar. Obviously many voters are sick of the Democrats impeding economic recovery with wealth transfers, takeovers, and controls.

But the real question is whether Tipton deserves to win, and mostly that comes down to the ideas and policies he advocates. That’s why we gave him a call. (We’ll write about Salazar, too.)

Tipton emphasized economics: “We need to be dealing with economic issues; we need to be focused on creating jobs.”

Tipton said, “Right now the issues that I think Congress needs to be addressing [concern] getting Americans back to work. We’ve got to be reducing the size and the expenditures of government. We simply cannot afford the spending coming out of Washington right now.”

As some first steps, Tipton suggested reducing discretionary spending by ten percent (except for defense) and “unleashing entrepreneurial investment” by moving to a flat, lower corporate tax rate.

“We need to make American business competitive;” bad federal policies have “been driving jobs out of America,” Tipton warned.

Tipton looks to policies “geared toward empowering free enterprise.” He said his interest is supporting “people looking out for their families, trying to put a roof over their heads… rather than just paying to sustain government.”

Unfortunately, like many Colorado Republicans these days, Tipton wants to reduce liberty in the personal sphere.

Let us preface our criticism with praise for Tipton’s openness and accessibility. Tipton’s campaign staff immediately put us in contact with the candidate, and Tipton answered his phone right away and agreed to address some tough questions.

Tipton suggested that, when candidates speak plainly and get attacked for it by narrow-minded interest groups that pull quotes out of context, that creates the incentive for candidates to avoid the tough issues. Despite the dangers of going on the record, Tipton answered our questions candidly, and he deserves credit for that.

Yet Tipton worries us with some of his views on social issues.

Tipton expressed an overly narrow view of the significance of the separation of church and state, saying it “keeps the state from annointing one particular religion or one particular church.” That’s part of the meaning of the separation of church and state, but the broader purpose is to protect government policies from religious dogmas as much as to protect religious worship from the government.

“I do support faith-based initiatives,” Tipton said of welfare programs involving churches. What about the teaching of “intelligent design” in tax-funded schools? “I’m a faith-based person. Faith plays a very important part in my life, and I don’t think that should be excluded from the school.”

Tipton opposes gay marriage, though he added: “I think if somebody wants to have a contractual relationship, we have that opportunity already.”

However, Tipton does not support adoption by gay couples; “I would not be supportive of adoption outside a traditional family.” Our question for social conservatives is this: would you rather a woman abort a fetus or give birth and let a gay couple adopt the child?

On his web page, Tipton states, “Abortion should be limited to cases that involve rape, incest, or threat to the life of the mother.” His view is at least more sensible than that of Ken Buck, who said, “I don’t believe in the exceptions of rape or incest.”

On his web page, Tipton says he wants “a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking an abortion.” That prompted us to ask whether he also favors a waiting period for women seeking to buy a gun. While Tipton claimed that’s “not a fair comparison,” we think it’s as ludicrous to require a waiting period for either one.

“I would support a constitutional amendment to protect the unborn human life,” Tipton states on his web page. What about Amendment 62, the so-called “personhood” measure? He replied, “I’m going to take a look at those. I’ve not looked at all the ballot initiatives that we’re going to have.”

Tipton struggled a bit over the question of what criminal penalties would be imposed on women who get abortions and doctors who facilitate them. The question is “worthy of further discussion,” he said. It certainly is. Many abortion banners call for lengthy prison sentences or even execution for those women and doctors, which is pure Taliban-style insanity.

If fully implemented, Amendment 62 would ban forms of birth control (including the pill) and fertility treatments that may harm a fertilized egg. But Tipton emphasized, “I think that we need to take advantage of birth control.”

We sympathize with Tipton’s goal to “not look at abortion as a means of birth control,” but his concern does not justify abortion bans.

We like Tipton’s pro-liberty stance on economics. We only ask that he more carefully consider why liberty is the right answer when it comes to personal decisions, too.