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.

The Clements Murder and Colorado Gun Laws: My Complete Colorado Article

Complete Colorado has published my latest column about the murder of Tom Clements, former head of the Colorado Department of Corrections.

The details of the case are very disturbing; here are my concluding remarks:

Colorado’s prisons contain thousands of “active” gangsters who violently “target” each other while in prison. One of these gangs is the 211 Crew, a group of violent white supremacists that included [Evan] Ebel, that sent a Colorado judge into hiding, and that likely ordered the murder of Clements. . . . Even though Ebel violently assaulted a prison guard—a crime for which he was supposed to serve an additional four years—the government’s “clerical error” released him from prison early. After Ebel broke his ankle bracelet and went on the run, the government did nothing about it. Two days later, Ebel murdered a pizza delivery man for his uniform. Two days after that, Ebel murdered Clements at his home. Two days after that, Ebel nearly murdered a Texas law enforcement officer and attempted to murder many more.

In the midst of this chaos—of this fundamental incapacity of Colorado government to perform its central role of protecting the public from violent criminals—Colorado’s Democratic legislators and Colorado’s governor are largely concerned, not about cleaning up those obvious problems, but with redirecting government resources toward the tracking and monitoring of peaceable gun owners.

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

History of Colorado’s Gun Magazine Ban

Today Complete Colorado published my article reviewing the history of Colorado’s gun magazine ban, “Dems Leave Making Sense of Gun Magazine Ban to Attorney General.”

See also the web page of John Suthers (Colorado’s AG) for his media release and related documentation regarding his “technical guidance” for enforcing the legislation.

The points I make in the article include the following:

  • Suthers offered the narrowest possible interpretation of the ambiguous phrases “continuous possession” and “readily convertible.” This means that gun owners can temporarily lend their 16-plus round magazines to others, and they can possess and transfer 15-minus round magazines that have removable baseplates.
  • The fact that the legislation was poorly written comes as no surprise given its intent: to “spearhead a national gun control campaign orchestrated by the Obama administration and by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.”
  • Suthers’s reading of the legislation runs contrary to the interpretation of the measure by its own sponsor, State Representative Rhonda Fields.
  • The magazine legislation is still bad, in that it “violates the rights of peaceable gun owners to self-defense, to peaceable trade, and to private property.”

Read the whole article.

Image: John Suthers

Complete Colorado Posts: Ignorance among Anti-Gun Legislators, Tax Discrimination

Complete Colorado‘s Page Two recently published two of my articles.

Gun-restriction legislators displayed profound ignorance on subject
“Many of the Democrats supporting gun restrictions displayed profound ignorance about firearms, self-defense, and even their own bills.”

Bipartisan support for tax discrimination in Colorado legislature
“If the legislature wishes to create a business-friendly tax environment, it should establish lower taxes for every business, and make the effective tax rate the same for everyone.”

Censoring Scott McInnis

I imagine the last thought on Scott McInnis’s mind about Complete Colorado is “you complete me.”

McInnis, who appears headed into the Colorado governor’s race of 2010, appeared in scandalous-sounding headlines before even announcing his candidacy — something every candidate no doubt wishes to avoid — thanks to an April 30 exclusive story by Complete Colorado bearing the ominous title, “Voicemail Raises Ethics Questions for McInnis and His Probable Campaign for Governor.”

McInnis left a voice mail with a potential supporter in which McInnis mentioned, “We’ve got Sean Tonner on board… Sean’s doin’ our… 527.” Complete Colorado summarizes, “The mention of Tonner being on the team and also running a 527 could be problematic. It is illegal for a candidate committee to coordinate with a 527 ‘issues’ committee.”

Now that McInnis said the verboten word “527,” it is no doubt time for a full inquiry. All we need now is a smoking gun or a stained dress.

What this story actually illustrates is that the campaign finance “reform” laws are in fact censorship laws. Candidates cannot simply present their message to the public coordinating with willing donors and spokespersons: they can speak only within the confines of elaborate and arbitrary rules that only armies of lawyers can hope to decipher.

A regular person cannot run for office without consulting an attorney. If you want to run for political office, you must learn the politically-correct and lawyer-approved code language for announcing your candidacy and discussing supporters. If you violate these Speech Codes, you can land in deep trouble.

The campaign censorship laws help assure that only political insiders can navigate the election laws. Most normal people are frightened away from running for office or even becoming involved in political causes. The campaign censorship laws facilitate retaliatory lawsuits and campaigns of character assassination.

Meanwhile the campaign censorship laws obviously have not cleaned up politics or gotten “big money” out of politics. The laws have merely thrown the advantage to those with enough lawyers to game the legal system.

I find it astonishing that the recipient of the voice mail — presumably a Republican — sent the voice mail to a conservative/libertarian site in order to damage a Republican candidate. (Josh Penry is also headed into the race on the Republican side.)

A May 1 story by the Denver Post’s Jessica Fender offers useful context. Here is how McInnis defended the voice message:

McInnis, who verified that he left the message, pointed out that he has not officially announced his candidacy or formed a candidate committee, so the rules do not yet apply.

And what he really meant to say was that Tonner, president of consulting firm Phase Line Strategies, is a supporter and is answering questions about potential future 527s, he said.

“I should have said Sean Tonner is the one I’m looking to for answers on this,” McInnis said. “The law doesn’t prohibit you from discussions on ‘This is what’s going to be needed.’ “

So apparently candidates can discuss “potential future 527s” without coordinating with them. McInnis’s interpretation of the inherently ambiguous Speech Codes is as legitimate as any other.

These are in fact censorship laws, as Fender’s following passage illustrates:

McInnis may not have technically broken campaign laws, said Colorado Common Cause Director Jenny Flanagan, but there is one simple rule when it comes to 527s: Don’t talk to them.

“It’s certainly a violation of the spirit,” Flanagan said.

When the law prevents you from talking to others, that is censorship. Such laws violate the Bill of Rights and our fundamental human rights. They are an abomination that must be repealed.

That said, I am surprised that McInnis, a former member of Congress, did not script his message more carefully given his knowledge of the campaign censorship laws.

Complete Colorado did the right thing in running the story. It is important to know how the censorship laws are carried out in order to argue against them.

The fact that Complete Colorado has a political leaning does create a certain awkwardness surrounding the story, as illustrated by a headline above a story from the Daily Sentinel’s Gary Harmon, “McInnis’ voice mail posted at site run by supporters of possible rival.” Harmon notes that Complete Colorado “is owned by Todd Shepherd and Justin Longo,” both of whom work for the Independence Institute. Harmon writes, “ has nothing to do with the Golden-based Independence Institute, where he is employed to research government misdeeds, Shepherd said.” Still, awkward.

However, Harmon’s claim that Shepherd and Longo “are supporting McInnis’ likely intraparty rival, Josh Penry” is completely unjustified, as Shepherd demonstrates in a follow-up article. Shepherd points out that Harmon’s claim is based exclusively on the fact that both Shepherd and Longo “are listed on a Facebook page, ‘Draft Josh Penry for Colorado Governor.'”

But that Facebook association proves nothing. People often join internet lists, Facebook pages, etc. to gain information. Shepherd points out that he is also Facebook “friends” with Democratic Governor Bill Ritter. Moreover, the Daily Sentinel itself is friends with Penry (and I wonder whether this was merely the result of investigating the story).

So we have (fake) scandal and (fake) counter-scandal.

Unfortunately, few are talking about the real scandal: political activists in Colorado suffer under censorship laws and Orwellian Speech Codes. Perhaps journalists should spend a bit of time looking into that.