Afghanistan debacle will haunt U.S.

New presidents often find themselves tested early in their administration; their performance is revealing to allies and enemies alike.

JFK’s failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and subsequent summit with Soviet premier Nikita Kruschev, about which Kennedy remarked, “He just beat the hell out of me!” led the Russians to believe they could place nuclear missiles in Cuba.  The ensuing Cuban missile crisis brought the USA and USSR to the brink of nuclear war.

By contrast, Ronald Reagan’s firing of 11,000 air traffic controllers who illegally went on strike eight months into his first term indicated to the Soviets that he should be taken seriously, a fact noted by Democrat Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill after a visit to Russia.

It’s hard to imagine a failure more completely self-inflicted than President Biden’s botched withdrawal of Americans from Afghanistan. (more…)

Democrats will celebrate – and win – if Colorado GOP snubs unaffiliated voters

Elections are about addition.

In Colorado, neither Republicans nor Democrats can win an election purely by turning out their own base.  To win, each party must add to its own turnout by persuading voters who are unaffiliated, members of “minor” parties or disaffected members of the rival major party.

Consider the share of ballots cast by Republicans and Democrats in the past three general elections:

  • In 2016, Republicans cast 33.4% of all ballots to Democrats’ 32.7%.
  • In 2018, Republicans trailed 31%-33%.
  • In 2020, Republicans trailed 29%-31%.

In the last two elections, Republicans running statewide have started with a turnout deficit, so they needed to persuade more unaffiliated voters than did their Democrat opponents.  But instead of improving their strategy to win the hearts and minds of unaffiliated votes (UAVs), Republicans have been falling further behind.  Barack Obama won 60% of UAVs in 2012; Hillary Clinton won 62% in 2016; Jared Polis won 65% of UAVs in 2018; and Joe Biden won 65% of UAVs in 2020. (more…)

Progressive Dems dare Colorado voters to hold them accountable

Governor Jared Polis and Progressive Democrat majorities at the State Capitol have spent the past three years ignoring clearly-expressed voices of Colorado voters on tax and economic issues.  In fact, Progressive Democrats’ disregard for many of the same voters who elected them has become so brazen that they seem to be daring voters to hold them accountable.

With commanding majorities of 41-24 in the House of Representatives and 20-15 in the state Senate, it’s understandable that Democrats are developing a sense of invincibility.

However, it remains to be seen if the Democrats’ recent surge – in 2017, they held a 34-31 margin in the House, while Republicans had an 18-17 majority in the Senate – is due to their own popularity or because Donald Trump irritated many Colorado voters. (more…)

No help for you! Legislators target employers for even more lawsuits

When the Colorado General Assembly adjourned on June 8, small-business owners and job creators breathed a collective sigh of relief.

After suffering through COVID-related restrictions and closures for most of the previous 12 months, employers were hopeful that legislators would join in their efforts to help get the economy back on its feet.

Maybe legislators in another state, but not in Colorado in 2021. (more…)

The True Meaning of Independence

As we observe the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence this Fourth of July, we should consider the unique form of government for which our Founding Fathers chose to risk “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” against the seemingly-invincible British.

The definitive passage in the Declaration reads:  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

In these 57 words, the Founders established that:

  • Our rights — better understood as “freedoms” — are given to us by a power higher than government. No matter what you believe about the origins of life, it is undeniable that government did not give us life.
  • Government’s legitimate purpose is to protect the rights of the people. Just as government did not give us life, it did not give us our rights.
  • Because freedom is ours as individuals, government’s only legitimate powers are those which the people choose to allow.


Only tone-deaf reporters could be shocked by ‘unfriendly’ designation

Reporters who cover the State Capitol recently learned that the House Republicans’ media office keeps a list of which media outlets are considered “unfriendly.”  To some in media, this was newsworthy.

To anyone on the center-right, this is entirely unremarkable.  It is remarkable that any astute reporter could be truly surprised.

Republicans still hold to the quaint notion that a reporter’s job is to lay out facts and responsibly present arguments by both sides.  Increasingly, however, reporters seem uninterested in the work of examining both sides, especially if doing so puts Democrats in a bad light. (more…)

Country folks can survive – if city politicians will leave us alone

Horses on our farm didn’t get the memo about COVID-19 so in the past year we’ve traveled with them through blue and red states where an inescapable pattern distinguishes rural communities from suburban or urban ones.

Near large cities, people reacted to the pandemic with purposeful social distancing and meticulous wearing of masks.  But in rural towns, evidence of a pandemic was typically two-fold: food-service and store clerks wore masks as directed by employers and advisory mask signs were both ubiquitously posted and frequently ignored.

This isn’t to argue that either approach is better but rather that people and communities can be trusted to adapt to our own unique situations.

This spring, rural Coloradans are increasingly fed up with the onslaught of top-down directives that impose Denver-Boulder “solutions” on every community.  These mandates disregard Coloradans’ competency to govern ourselves.  Even though some have been derailed, the Legislature’s relentless drumbeat of paternalism is creating a swelling tide of resentment.

The assault on agriculture by lawmakers and activists with no stake in our business is especially infuriating. (more…)

Humility, accountability make lawmakers betters

Humility and accountability are two indispensable qualities that separate thoughtful, respected lawmakers from those prone to outrun their headlights in pursuit of the spotlight.

Humility boils down to knowing what you don’t know.  Most everyone who runs for office does so with good intentions and motivated by ideas to make their community, state or country better.

A lawmaker with humility accepts that, beyond one’s own life experience, he or she has a limited knowledge of how the rest of the world works.  For example, until I heard a restaurant owner explain it, I did not realize that operating at 25% or 50% capacity could actually be worse for their cash flow than remaining closed.

Equally crucial is accountability – not just to voters every few years – but to trusted people whom you consult for advice and who know they can speak candidly even when they tell you something you don’t want to hear.  One of my most valued advisors was my predecessor, Sen. Jim Rizzuto, a Democrat respected by both parties. (more…)

Politicians’ dismal record should nix public ‘option’

It’s not hard to understand why people are frustrated with health care.

Electricians, plumbers and mechanics can send us a simple bill with a price for their work, but doctors and hospitals send us bills with sticker-shock prices that they know will be marked down later.

Our health insurance isn’t really “insurance” but rather a system of prepaid financing.  We have few choices except how much we’re willing to pay out-of-pocket.

Few of us still have the same insurance or doctor as ten years ago when President Obama assured us, “If you like (them), you can keep (them).”

Navigating health care customer service is rivaled only by the futility of trying to talk to a real person at Comcast or Century Link. (more…)

How I came to respect centrists

Sticks in the mud.  Overly cautious.  Obstacles to progress.

That’s how I’ve tended to view political moderates – especially those in my own party.  As a 30-something state legislator (1999-2005) deeply committed to individual liberty, limited government and personal responsibility, I often grew frustrated with moderate Republicans who always seemed to move too slowly toward those goals.

I remember telling Republican activists: “The most significant legislation often passes by the narrowest margin” and “nobody is motivated by moderation.”

Today, as progressive Democrats – and some Republicans – say many of those same things to drive moderates to the sideline, my exasperation with “centrist” lawmakers has evolved into grudging admiration – at least for those willing to stand strong for their beliefs.  When emboldened, centrists in both parties serve an important function that benefits the vast majority of citizens who aren’t died-in-the-wool Republicans or Democrats: they slow the pace of change. (more…)