Lawmakers should focus on doing their jobs, not becoming social media celebrities

Even politicians with the largest social media following don’t run campaign ads touting their tweets and posts as a qualification for holding office.  And for good reason.

Last July, Pew Research found that 55% of all social media users were “worn out” by political posts and discussions.  These numbers grew markedly worse over the past four years, but applied to both parties: 63% of Republicans, 49% of Democrats.  Only 15% actually liked seeing a proliferation of political posts.

Mind you, this was a survey of social media users who, by definition, choose to be more politically engaged than the average person.  Yet, even most of these “political junkies” were weary of social media skirmishes.

Some politicians in both parties seem more pre-occupied with building their social media profile than doing the job for which they were elected.  Still others can’t resist using their electoral “fame” as an occasional platform for snarking at the opposition.

Sooner or later, it comes back to bite them. (more…)

Both parties need more level heads, fewer bomb-throwers

Five Americans lost their lives in the riot at the U.S. Capitol.  What makes that tragedy even worse is that it was so unnecessary.  We didn’t arrive at this volatile moment, when loud voices on both sides show contempt for each other, because of the failings of a single political party.

We are here because members of both parties, aided by their respective media cheerleaders and other attack dogs, have rewarded rhetorical bomb-throwers and cultivated distrust at the expense of what we once called “good government.”  Neither party should be proud of its own poor judgment (to be polite) during the past four years.  The problem is that too many “leaders” believe the ends justify the means.

The January 6 tragedy – like the 2017 Congressional baseball shooting – is a reminder that this careless rhetoric, always escalating the stakes, isn’t merely a game.

Consider: (more…)

Coloradans can be proud of Cory Gardner’s accomplishments

By Mark Hillman and Greg Brophy

            As Cory Gardners term in the U.S. Senate draws to a close, its remarkable to note the record of achievement by the dynamic native of Yuma.  With election season behind us, perhaps Coloradans can step away from partisan rancor and appreciate that Sen. Gardner was both a principled Republican and a constructive problem-solver.

            Serving under two presidents – a Democrat and a Republican – Sen. Gardner successfully addressed issues important to Colorado and our nation.

            Piloting the Great American Outdoors Act which Associated Press called the most significant conservation legislation in nearly half a century,” he worked with the late-Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) to secure permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, providing nearly $2 billion a year to address a backlog of maintenance at national parks.

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Social media is tearing us apart, and it’s our own fault

We live in a truly strange and unsettling time in America.  Never before have I seen ordinary, hard-working Americans so on edge, so angry, so spoiling for a fight — about anything or with anyone, even people they recently considered personal friends.

A couple years ago, I asked Charles Murray, author of Coming Apart, if he could think of anything that would unify Americans other than a direct attack on our soil, the Olympic games, or some form of Divine intervention.  He could not; neither could I.  Soon, olympic athletes became a source of political division, too.

In the past, Americans usually were usually able to agree to disagree on most matters.  Today, every disagreement becomes a line in the sand – a reason to boycott, terminate or excommunicate.  Seeking common ground, even where readily available (e.g., defending freedom of speech), is viewed as weakness.  Rather than work through a problem, we immediately choose up sides and declare our rightness or wokeness, while decrying others’ inability to grasp the truth as we know it.

Before, if you had something snarky to say about someone, you might mention it to your spouse or a couple friends.  Having aired your grievance, the flames of anger died down. (more…)

Partisan doubletalk aside, Senate should confirm Barrett

In any other context, it would be fairly unusual to have such an intense political debate about the appointment of such an obviously-qualified candidate for the Supreme Court as Judge Amy Coney Barrett.  But this is 2020 and everything is unusual.

Judge Barrett, a mother of seven, demonstrated exceptional poise and knowledge through three days of grueling Senate committee hearings.  Her exemplary performance under scrutiny, her career as a scholar of the Constitution, and her undeniable brilliance mark her as well-qualified for the court and a role model for young women. (more…)

Overview of 2020 ballot questions in Colorado

In this year’s election, Colorado voters will decide on 11 ballot questions that will amend either the state constitution or statutes.  Following is my attempt to condense sometimes complex issues into a simple statement that explains my thoughts on each question.

NOTE: Constitutional amendments cannot be changed by the Legislature, only by a vote of the people, so if they don’t work as advertised, it’s really tough to make corrections.  Statutes can be amended by the Legislature. (more…)

What it means to be American

One explanation for the contempt and polarization in our country is that many of us never learned what it means to be “American.”

Unlike citizens of most countries, “Americans” do not fit a racial stereotype.  George Washington said that Americans were “a new race,” unlike any other.  American colonists cultivated liberty and self-government.  Immigrants came to pursue religious freedom – the right to follow their own conscience.

Immigrants to France or Germany or Russia can become citizens of those countries, but that doesn’t make them French or German or Russian.  In those countries, immigrants stand out as different and don’t enjoy the same societal status as native citizens.  But immigrants to America, through becoming citizens, contributing to the economy, and engaging in their communities can soon become as “American” as anyone else.  Often, they are an inspiration to natives who forget that life in our country truly is better than in any other.

The genius of America is captured in our motto, E pluribus unum, correctly translated, “Out of many, one.”  From many different countries, backgrounds and beliefs, we come together as one people: Americans. (more…)

Polis, Hancock fiddle as Denver descends into chaos

Once known as The Queen City of the Plains or the Gateway to the Rockies, Denver is rapidly descending into a cesspool of violence and filth.  Fifteen years ago, if I met a friend for dinner in LoDo or went to a game at Pepsi Center, I would walk back along the 16th Street Mall at 10 or 11 o’clock with little concern for my safety.  Today, it’s not worth the risk or the hassle.

Denver’s “progressive” politicians are allowing this once great city to become a rat’s nest that is unsafe for families, inhospitable to businesses, and an embarrassment to all Coloradans.

Since 1894, our State Capitol has been a majestic sight on Denver’s Capitol Hill.  When I worked there, I remember walking along 16th Street early in the morning, viewing the Gold Dome as it reflected the rising sun like a beacon shining beyond the downtown office buildings.

Today, the grand old building stands disgraced as never before by vandalism that began in late May and – due to the inaction of Gov. Jared Polis and Mayor Michael Hancock – has continued for weeks.  Sprayed profanities reach 15 feet high on its marble walls.  Windows have been shot out, and those that remain on the ground level are covered with plywood.

CBS4 reports: “The State Capitol is almost unrecognizable. The granite walls are covered in graffiti, windows and lights are shattered, and monuments and memorials are defaced or destroyed. Night after night, the vandals have come back to cause more damage.”

Never in its 126 years has our Capitol been so disgraced, not only by the mobs who attacked it but by the leaders entrusted to protect it. (more…)

Big Tech, Big Media are strangling intellectual freedom

In its early years, the internet’s strength was the unfettered freedom that allowed countless voices to flourish and let readers choose between established sources of information and newer outlets with varying levels of credibility.  This celebration of free speech leveled the playing field between Big Media and independent voices.

But Big Tech has now teamed up with Big Media, and together they behave like Big Brother from George Orwell’s 1984 – monitoring, influencing and censoring our ability to speak freely and even to consider dissenting views.

Google and its parent company, which also owns YouTube, generated over $170 billion in advertising revenue in 2019 from vendors, large and small, who use Google’s advertising service to reach customers.  Google, Facebook and Amazon control the lion’s share of digital advertising sales.  Each exerts more control over the free flow of information than any media conglomerate in our country’s history. (more…)

Mob violence drives U.S. apart when we were coming together

Most Americans were sickened by the senseless killing George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.  For a day or two, we were unified, asking, “How could this happen?” and “What can be done so it doesn’t happen again?”

But protests soon turned into riots and looting, inflicting untold damage to property and stores usually owned by and providing a living for urban residents.  New York Times writer Nikole Hannah-Jones instructed that “destroying property . . . is not violence” and said she would be “honored” to think that her “1619 Project” – which lies about U.S. history – inspired the riots.

Then came the assaults on public property.  In Denver, shots were fired into windows at the State Capitol which was vandalized with graffiti.  Miscreants sprayed obscenities on the marble marker at the Ralph Carr Judicial Building, ignorant that Gov. Carr had refused to send Japanese Coloradans to internment camps during World War II.  They vandalized memorials to Colorado’s Civil War soldiers and to Armenian victims of genocide.  Gov. Jared Polis and Mayor Michael Hancock did nothing to protect these public landmarks.

Demonstrating rage was all the rage.  Thinking was an afterthought, if that. (more…)