Pundits don’t understand Colorado, can’t explain its drift to the right

There’s much consternation among the national keyboard-tapping class who stare moodily westward through their smog-filled skies and wonder what happened to Colorado’s leftward drift.

Some confusion comes from an essential misunderstanding of Coloradans. Many of the people who write about us think spending a ski holiday in Vail for their daughter’s winter break from Brown University qualifies them as sages on Colorado values. Like a romance-novel character, we’re complicated and misunderstood.

Alarms have sounded since the recalls of two state senators over their gun-control votes and the crushing defeat of Amendment 66. That is the rejected tax measure, with its liberal valentine of higher and progressive tax rates, unaccountable spending and centralization of education responsibilities in Denver.

Democrats, who hold the state Senate by only one vote, now have to contend with a recall effort to remove Westminster Sen. Evie Hudak for the same reasons the first two senators were recalled. The difference is, Denver-area Democrats are trying to disrupt the signature-gathering portion of the effort rather than just wait for a recall and then outspend everyone.

In Hudak’s district, the signature gathering is made difficult by the high number of signatures required, since her re-election took place during a presidential year when more votes are typically cast than in off-year elections. That vote determines the number of signatures necessary for a recall petition.

Also, Democrats are much less confident in defeating the effort at the ballot box after two successful recalls.

Furthermore, the outspending piece in recent elections was not as productive for Democrats as in the past. Supporters of Amendment 66 outspent opponents 500 to 1, with a $10 million campaign financed largely by out-of-state oligarchs. But the supporters were never really in the fight. Bell rang — instant knockout.

In other troubling news, school board races in Denver, Jefferson and Douglas counties, which were closely watched and heavily funded by unions and other progressive organizations, were swept by conservative reform slates.

Don’t let all of this make you believe money doesn’t matter a lot in elections. With so many voters already in hardened positions on issues and candidates, the slippery 15 percent to 20 percent who haven’t made up their minds or paid the slightest bit of attention to anything but still may vote, are the group everyone’s looking for at the polls.

Money, enthusiasm and ignorance are the real operational watchwords of political campaigns.

One locates voters apathetic or uninformed on issues and then uses money to lobby them — usually by advertising frightening non-realities or convincing class-warfare messages.

The reason big money didn’t work in some of Colorado’s latest races was because voters were already well educated on the issues and enthusiastic to make a difference on a topic they understood and wanted changed.

Nervous Nellies for the 2014 election are Gov. John Hickenlooper and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall.

Hickenlooper is the most vulnerable, despite what Front Range newspapers would have you believe. His support is seldom above 51 percent in polls, and now, thanks to his missteps on guns, the death penalty and Amendment 66, he is in some trouble. According to a Quinnipiac University poll published by the National Journal, his approval rating is an anemic 48 percent, with a plurality of voters thinking he does not deserve re-election.

This has forced him into the dangerous area of supporting fracking to try and win back some centrist support, but this makes it tough with environmental-group members, who spend a lot of time making sure their electric cars don’t catch fire.

Udall, also up for re-election, should be concerned about being among senators referred to by The Wall Street Journal as the “Obamacare Dozen,” who helped drag the legislation across the finish line on Christmas Eve four years ago.

He has $4 million already in his war chest and, like Hickenlooper, hasn’t been presented with a strong contender from Republicans yet. Both men are likely nervous but not yet threatened.

That could still change. So, I predict in the next few months we’ll see our governor guzzling more fracking fluid and thoughtfully visiting drilling rigs. He’ll probably be accompanied by Udall in bib overalls and a Stetson. They don’t get us either.

Rick Wagner writes more on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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PART 1. While generally agreeing with Rick Wagner’s piece, I couldn’t resist a chance to correct a popular misconception on the so-called “Right”.
Rick’s specific left-vs-right snark I take issue with is his phrase, “environmental-group members, who spend a lot of time making sure their electric cars don’t catch fire.” A dime will get you a donut that Rick has never seen a 10-second electric drag car do a wheelstand off the line (http://bit.ly/17tzoZJ ) or looked at one of the Navy’s new “all electric” destroyers (http://bit.ly/1cLSvSy ) — the actual power source is a 78 megawatt array of four gas-turbine generators — or he wouldn’t have pooh-poohed the technology so easily.
“Environmental group” is another over-simplified misguided “left-vs-right” catch-all phrase. As I have said many times, society has got to drop politically manipulative language and get specific. The exception, of course, is when leftists get so stupid, out of line and destructive — as a preferred propaganda strategy — that rhetorical tit-for-tat is the only politically effective tool in opposition.
Yeh, I know some so-called “eco-freaks” are annoying and coercive. Too many of them are disordered debt-as-money trust-fund babies who believe they can use the violence of government to fulfill their Utopian dreams with the “other guy’s” money. And I say to hell with that. We cannot afford to let the “left-vs-right” dog-and-pony show co-opt perfectly legitimate and useful words such as “environment” and “ecology”. Those words are not about “left-vs-right” politics. They are about centralization versus decentralization, and sustainable behavior/methods versus unsustainable behavior/methods. They are about science.
For example, population numbers DO matter. I can only comfortably get about two dozen chickens into my groovy 70-square-foot, two-stage heated, automatically watered, fully insulated chicken coop. Put too many rats in a box and they start eating each other. Well, the Earth is a finite area which, depending on technology, will only support a certain number of humans and other living critters. So, yes, population IS self-evidently logically relevant to sustainability.
What Adam Smith failed to point out in “Wealth of Nations” is that what you gain in centralization and mass production, you lose in the costs of distribution. Witness the Texas-sized pile of trash floating around in the Pacific Ocean. When you centralize food production, you use a lot of fuel and create a lot of trash in distribution. That’s unsustainability. But if you use technology to grow your own food and preserve the excess in reusable glass jars, that’s sustainability without the trucking costs and trash piles. It is neither “leftist” nor “rightist” to observe and learn from such specific details. As I said, decentralization/sustainability versus centralization/unsustainability is the main issue/to be considered.

PART 2. “Centralized” electric cars can mean professionally manufactured cars (e.g. Tesla, Nissan Leaf, etc.) whose batteries have sometimes caught on fire. Some folks might find those fun to ridicule until the battery fire problem is solved. I have no problem with that. I am not humor-challenged. Or to translate the same idea into libspeak, I am not a “humor hater”.
“Decentralized” homemade internal-combustion-to-electric conversion kits are a different matter. A good one might cost $15,000 or so, including the vehicle. They use a dozen or so regular lead batteries and don’t catch on fire.
Electric motors are fundamentally superior to internal combustion engines in that there are far fewer moving parts to wear out, and you get all your torque immediately instead of at high RPMs which use fuel and put wear and tear on the engine parts. In an electric motor, about all you have to do is change brushes on rare occasion. Even getting an electric motor rewound is relatively inexpensive.
Travel in a decentralized homemade electric vehicle costs about 2¢/mile. How’s that compare with 20¢/mile for your fossil fuels, “right wingers”? Oops! For a second there I forgot technology is neither “right” nor “left”. Sorry!
A homemade electric conversion vehicle would have about an 80-to-100-mile range before needing to recharge. I plan to use a mid-sized pickup with photo-voltaic solar collectors on the tonneau cover to automatically recharge the batteries off the grid on sunny days. Since most folks don’t drive anywhere near 80 miles/day in their around-town travels, a “decentralized” electric vehicle makes perfect sense from both a financial and a fun point of view.
Then there’s centralized “Big Ethanol” versus decentralized “little” ethanol. “Centralized” Big Ethanol is what fossil-fuel propagandists have in mind when they write articles about how ethanol can destroy the prairies and drive the price higher on a commodity that would otherwise be used at a cheaper price as food for “poor people”. (Notice how the pro-fossil-fuel propagandists are suddenly in favor of “poor people” having enough “cheaper” food to eat, and to hell with the corn farmers getting a higher price for their corn. Ain’t politics grand!?)
Grass is the foundation of agriculture and animal husbandry. The ruminants and other herbivores all eat it because it’s the most nutritious for them. The grass and the grazers have a symbiosis. The grass is food for the animals, and the “mowing” and animal manure are good for the grass. The birds eat the maggots in the buffalo dung and spread it around to the benefit of the grass. It took millions of buffaloes millions of years to make all the millions of acres of prairie soil, and if not farmed sustainably, corn can be detrimental to healthy soil building.

PART 3. Interested people who want to learn about this stuff need to read the work of giants like William Albrecht, Charles Walters and others. Personally, I subscribe to “Acres” magazine (http://www.acresusa.com) because it is the best resource I know of on the subject of soil building and sustainable agriculture. Dr. Albrecht made the logic-based scientific case for an agronomy based on healthy, balanced sustainable soil ecosystems rather than simplistic unsustainable chemical inputs. The subject of soil building science in neither “right” nor “left” unless you love Big Brother or happen to be peddling petrochemicals — complete with their oil depletion allowances, poisonous food side effects and Washington D.C. lobbyists.
”Decentralized” Little Ethanol production doesn’t destroy ancient prairie grasslands, and amounts to little more than making “moonshine” with a still in your backyard or garage. There are some great little stills on the market, whether made of copper or stainless steel, and you can easily make cheaper ones out of readily available materials. Cool thing is, you can make alcohol out of almost anything that will ferment.
Backyard alcohol can easily be used to run internal combustion engines which have been converted with a few minor alterations (e.g. increasing the size of your carburetor jets) to run on ethanol. Ethanol has a higher “octane” than gasoline, yet burns cooler and pollutes far less. Since it is entirely possible to run things like pickups, tractors, lawn mowers and rototillers on ethanol, why not free yourself of Arab oil and produce your own decentralized fuel, if that’s what you enjoy? It’s not a matter of “right” or “left” except to the technology-challenged and/or politically manipulative. Actually, it’s much more of a “Rube Goldberg” thing or a learning-adventure thing than a political thing.
It is interesting to note that in their eagerness for the big bucks provided by the global debt-as-money fraud run by transnational criminal oligarchs, Big Medicine and Big Pharma are basically nutrition-illiterate. Also of interest is the fact some of the oligarchs want to use GMO seed patents to control the food supply as a backing for debt-based digital currency. So growing your own non-poisonous food (aka “organic”, except government has co-opted that word) using open-pollination “heirloom” seeds is a great decentralization-based idea and practice.
I absolutely love it that many “leftists” involved in the “food freedom” or “food choice” movements are learning to hate the way Big Govt tries to control the world’s food supply as a means of controlling people and stealing their labor. In many ways, growing your own healthy and nutritious food is the most revolutionary thing a person can do. And growing your own food is certainly neither “leftist” nor “rightist” except when wannabe-clever political propaganda hacks try to make it so.

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