Category Archives: Colorado

When a Democracy Goes Wrong

By: Heather Ellerbrock

The other day while driving in the car with my dad, he told me a story about a 16 year old who upon exiting the highway way to fast, hit a bump and proceeded to flip his car in the air over two lanes of traffic landing on a hill hundreds of feet away from where this all started. We then got into a conversation about how parents, teachers, etc. in response to such reckless driving from teenagers immediately provide a solution of raising the driving age instead if attacking the problem head on (i.e. require drivers ed for all and at least 1 year, from 15-16, of driving with a permit and so on). Then I saw this video made by Protect Families (the group responsible for Prop. 8 in California):

Despite the fact that I think this video is pure propaganda, just like the adults who believe the solution to reckless teenage driving is to raise the driving age, these parents believe banning gay marriage is the solution to ensure their young children are not taught it in school (instead of coming to a consensus with the school board and community, etc that waiting until sex ed to introduce the idea of homosexual marriage is a better idea…as, in the video, the parents themselves say). On a side note, notice these parents say that because gay marriage is legal and they disagree with it, it is only now they are bigots; and how can you teach gay marriage in mathematics?

Moving on…

After the conversation with my dad, and after viewing the video, I looked to a New York Times Article titled, “Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage” and this got me thinking. How can a democracy be the best answer when special interest groups are able to impose their views on an out-group in a totalitarian way? Now, I am in no way suggesting I do not believe in democracy. I am simply stating that it has become too easy for 48% to become an unrepresented minority. Furthermore, through the simplicities of putting  measures on ballots that represent special interests – in this case gay marriage – the line between church and state is becoming more and more gray each passing year. In reference to Prop. 8, a member who was part of the fund raising for the propositions passing had the following to say: “I ask for your prayers that this e-mail will open the hearts and minds of the faithful to make a further sacrifice of their funds at this urgent moment so that God’s precious gift of marriage is preserved.” Many will argue that if gay marriage was the majority, there would still be a ~48% minority that would disapprove of the measure. I say to them that at least they can marry the person they love.

So now, after talking to my dad, seeing the “Protect Families” video and realizing that the main reason Prop. 8 did not pass was in most part because of one special interest group, I then looked to Colorado who in the 2008 election actually tried to address this problem; at least when it came to constitutional initiatives (remember, in 2006 gay marriage was banned in Colorado). As most of you may recall, on Colorado’s ballot this year we had Ref. O which aimed to “make it harder” for constitutional initiatives to make it on the ballot. This would have included (1) a signature requirement amount equal to 6% of votes cast for most recent governor and (2) 8% of all signatures to be collected from each congressional district. Once again, and in a way that can only be seen a sheer irony, the minority that Ref. O was trying to protect lost by 48-52%.

In my opinion and judgment, this all boils down to religion. Now let me preface this with saying I am not attacking religion. I am saying that when it comes to issues that appear on ballots each year concerning gay marriage, abortion, etc., these measures are able to appear on the ballot from fund raising that mainly comes from religious institutions. And since they are not required (at least in Colorado) to gain signatures from all congregational districts, they can then pick and choose where they will most likely get signatures for the measure. Think about Amendment 48, it failed famously but was able to appear on the ballot. 1/6 of all Amendment 48’s “Yes” vote came from El Paso county alone (compare with 1/15 total of “Yes” votes coming from Denver). I wonder where the people who wanted the measure on the ballot focused their efforts?

A democracy goes wrong when we are able to put amendments on constitutions that take away rights from people. Instead of attacking the problem from the inside out and coming to a consensus, a small majority gets to define what life will be for other Americans. Just as most are irrational to think that raising the driving age to 18 will cure reckless “teenage” driving, the same people are just as irrational to think that denying rights to deserving American citizens is their right in our democracy.

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Filed under American Electorate, Colorado, Religion, Uncategorized

Another prediction

On Monday I posted a number of predictions. One of them was Robert F Kennedy Jr. to the post of secretary of the interior. I would like to slightly amend that. I heard some rumors on tuesday night while I was at the sheridan hotel. These have been confirmed. I would like to predict the secretary of the interior position will go to our very own Ken Salazar. The new information I have is closer than third person but I am hesitant to post exactly who I got the information from. An analogy of how I got this new info would be the way that Bernstein confirmed one of the people involved in watergate, hang up if I am wrong. Now that is not exactly how it happened but it was done in a sort of similar way. The second part to this, is that when Salazar is named, Andrew Romanoff will be named by Ritter to fill the senate vacancy. Now I won’t claim either of these as fact but I will take any and all bets that if Salazar is named, Romanoff WILL be the replacement.

Sorry for the lack of links but this is still pretty far off the radar. Remember You heard it here first. (and if you didn’t hear it here first, who else is talking about this because I can find no info about this online)

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Filed under Colorado, Democratic Party, Obama, Uncategorized

Did they call you too?

By Ilasiea L. Gray

So I thought about all the things I wanted to write about for this blog.  Topics like he Colorado Amendments, Senate races, pre-election day coverage, and all kinds of other things filled my head.  Then three phone calls changed my mind.  I remember in class we discussed how in the past there were and possibly still are a lot of voters who are not knowledgeable of polling places and if so may not have transportation, etc.

Yesterday, I got a call from an Obama advocate (as I’m sure other people have), and the man on the phone asked me if; 1) I was voting, 2) for Barack Obama, and, 3) if I knew where my polling place was.  I was skeptical of the man at first especially because he called me from a random number.  After I told him yes to all of the above, he actually told me where my polling place was just in case.  After he told me the place for confirmation, I softened my tone on the phone.  I thought it was so cool that people actually call and encourage you to get out and vote.  I was actually almost amazed for the simple fact that in class we discussed that people in the past weren’t knowledgeable of certain things like when and where to vote.

This year they are really taking initiative.  I got a second call last night, but this time instead I received a voice mail.  This time it was an older man named Walter Wright, and he was “calling on behalf of the Barack  Obama Campaign for Change.”  He sounded confused but very sincere.  He was urging me to vote and hoping that I was going to vote for Obama.  The same smile came across my face as it did when I received the first call.  Thinking the message was over, another thing happened.  At the very end of the message, the person gave a number to call if I needed a ride to my polling place.  I was even more amazed!  That was one point that was brought up when members of the class argued the voter I.D. law case; that some voters don’t even have transportation to their polling places.

Now this is my first time voting in an election and I’m not sure if they always call people and/or always offer rides to polling places, but  I know that made me proud of what this country can do.  That there are people out there not only advocating voting, but also the those who are willing to help those in need with transportation.   In addition to those two calls, I got a message this morning from Senator Barack Obama himself.  Of course it was automated but it was very personable:

Hi, this is Barack Obama.  Tomorrow is the most important election day of our lifetimes, and I’m calling to ask for your support.  We built a nationwide grassroots organization of Americans who are ready for change. As President, I’ll cut taxes for the middle class, create good jobs, lower health care cost, and bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end.  But I can’t do it by myself.  This race will be close.  And that’s why I need your vote tomorrow.  Thanks so much.   Bye bye.

Immediately after Obama was done speaking, a voice came on telling me my poll location.  Once again I was amazed especially that hey, I’m one of the many people that got a voice mail from Barack Obama!  Win or lose, that is something I will never forget.  I can’t wait for tomorrow!  GO VOTE =)

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Filed under Colorado, Obama, Voter Demographics

Musgrave must go!

by Diego Del Campo

musgrave

Will it happen again? Two times now, I’ve anticipated, no expected the voters in the 4th congressional district to give hate-monger Marilyn Musgrave the boot—and twice I’ve been disappointed that she’s been able to convince voters she’s worthy enough to keep her gerry-mandered seat.

Maybe gerry-mandered isn’t the word, since the CD-4 has been traditionally held by a Republican for a very long time. Before Musgrave, a certain person named Bob Schaffer held that seat, and before him, it was Wayne Allard, and before Allard, the seat has held by none other than former CU president himself, Hank Brown. The seat was redrawn after the 2000 census, and parts of Arapahoe and Adams counties were cut out, making ultra-conservative Weld county that most powerful county in that district.

Stan Matsunaka couldn’t unseat Musgrave in 2004 in a race that, surprise, turned really ugly, really fast. The most memorable part of that campaign, at least for me, was the third-party ad that showed a Musgrave doppelganger pick-pocketing soldiers in the frontlines. The ad was supposed to illustrate how Musgrave had voted against the troops by voting against giving them better armor. Instead, the ad made national headlines for the degree of callousness of the ad, and Musgrave squeaked out a six-percentage point victory.

Angie Paccione didn’t fare any better in what otherwise was the Democratic tsunami of 2006. Again, the race turned ugly really quick with Musgrave doing what she does best: demonizing her challengers. In the homestretch of the campaign, Musgrave cut ads making Paccione look like a shady criminal. Musgrave squeaked out another slim victory.

I’m hoping against hope that 2008 is the year that Musgrave finally gets kicked out of Congress. In her 2004 race, Musgrave lamented that she had a “bull’s eye” on her back for being the chief sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment—a proposal that would’ve enshrined discrimination in the Constitution for the first time since the three-fifths compromise—and “pleaded” with donors to help her fight the “homosexual agenda.”

This time, I think (hope) Betsy Markey can pull it off. A poll in August had Markey with a seven-point lead over Musgrave. No doubt the race has tightened since then, but I was surprised to hear last week that the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee had pulled out ad buys it had reserved to protect Musgrave. Meanwhile, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is unusually cash-flush in this decidedly bad year for Republicans, and has been helping Markey with ads:

Throughout the race, Musgrave has resorted to her old, one-tick pony (here), and notice the semantic difference between “approve” and “authorize”:

But, this time, Markey didn’t let up, and fought back, with out lowering to Musgrave’s standards:

In the end, in less than 24 hours actually, we should know whether or not Musgrave can pull out another win, or if Markey proves that third time’s the charm.

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Filed under Colorado, Republican

Oil and You

By: Joe Oglesby

You may be upset at high oil prices and profits, but amendment 58 is not the way to exact revenge. The amendment will hurt the property owners, which is not the oil companies; the amendment will also hurt local governments. Currently half of the severance tax revenue (approximately $122.5 million in FY 2008-09) goes to the Local Government Severance Tax Fund. Under Amendment 58, only 22 percent of the severance tax revenue would go into the local fund. The amendment earmarks funds that would go to local governments. The earmark, however, restricts the spending of these funds to environmental protection rather than allowing the local government to spend the money as the community needs it spent.

Over the summer, with the high gas prices, people began to understand that they could get to many places by riding a bike or using public transportation rather than driving their cars. “A result of record energy costs is that Americans have drastically cut back on their driving this year, reducing their gasoline usage at the fastest pace since 1983.” The article cited above also reported that the Federal Highway Administration latest statistics showed that the number of miles driven has dropped the most since 1979.

Colorado currently has higher taxes on oil and gas than Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. In oil producing states it has the third highest taxes. The graphs below are from a study that compares oil and gas tax burdens on nine producing states.

In gas producing states it has the fourth highest tax collections.

Under amendment 58 Colorado will move up to the second highest and nearly the highest tax collection. Amendment 58 and initiative 113 are the same; the only difference is that amendment 58 became the official title when it was added to the ballot.

Since Colorado’s taxes on oil and gas are progressive, the taxes will continually grow, as prices for these goods increase. These costs will be passed onto consumers. The temperature is forecasted to be almost 3% colder this winter, across the lower 48 states. Colder temperatures mean higher energy bills. These bills will also be compounded by an increase in taxes directly passed onto the consumer. These increases will not only be in personal energy consumption. Higher energy prices will mean that food transportation costs will go up. All of the higher prices will always fall to the consumer.

Amendment 58 is a tax increase and will directly affect the citizens unlike political ads may lead the people to believe. Removing a subsidy is a tax increase. Colorado, with the subsidy, pays some of the highest taxes. Oil and gas is a business. These businesses will recoup their losses. You will pay more for the oil and gas you need.

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Filed under Colorado

Early Voting Going Nationwide?

By Matt Knipple

            I decided to concentrate my most recent blog on voting, in particular early voting.  After going out and performing exit polls on the many people that showed up it got me thinking about the rest of the states and how popular or unpopular early voting is.  To my surprise, as pointed out by this CNN article, early voting isn’t even in every state and in some states that it does occur in, you must have a valid reason to not show up to the polls and may have to get signatures from notaries and so on to prove you cannot make the election date to vote.  Here is a video showing people lining up to register and cast an absentee ballot in Ohio.  It was contested by Republicans saying that people may be performing voter fraud:

            In my opinion early voting should be mandated in all the states in America.  I feel as if people were able to cast mail-in ballots and go to the polls throughout the week prior to actual election day, there would be a much higher turnout at the polls and more people would be encouraged to vote. 

            If you click on this link, it takes you to an interactive map of all the states that have early polls and all that do not.  To my surprise, only 25 states have early polling with data available, six states have early polling with no data available, and the rest of the states do not have early polling.  In Colorado, early voting data shows, as of October 31, that 365,054 in-person ballots have been cast and 1,112,782 mail-in ballots have been cast.  That means a total of 1,477,836 have voted so far, which is roughly 30% of Colorado’s entire population, which also means an even higher percentage of actual voters have turned out since the entire population of Colorado will not and cannot vote. 

            Here is another video talking about the early voting going on in Ohio (you may have to watch a commercial at the beginning that sponsor’s the video, sorry).

            After watching these videos and reading the article, it amazes me why some states do not have early voting.  It seems like it would benefit all of the states and the United States as a whole, to have early voting to get more people out.  In states like New York, it would really benefit them as they have a huge, dense population that it seems pretty unrealistic to get all of those people out to vote on one day.  It would be much more efficient to have early voting and it would give America a clearer answer as to who people wanted as a President because more people, in my opinion, would be inclined to vote.

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Filed under Colorado, Democratic Party, McCain, Obama, Republican, Swing States, Voter Demographics, Women Voters, youth vote

Let’s cut the bull crap and get down to business!

November 1, 2008

By: Melissa Keller

Coloradans have turned in their TV remotes for more useful forms of information since their local television has been taken over by negative political ads. For those watching local news, it’s difficult to decide on who their congressional representative shall be this year when all there is to see are scandals and lies displayed by both parties.

Marilyn Musgrave has been the current congressional representative for District 4 since 2002; so when first time runner Betsy Markey challenged her return to congress it was inevitable that a cat fight wasn’t too far from the picture.

It began when Musgrave noticed her district moving more and more left with each year of being in office, and now that almost 90% of newly registered voters are democrat she’ll do just about anything to keep her seat. Musgrave began this cat fight when she argued that Markey was unfit for office by releasing an ad about her firm wrongly receiving federal contracts while Markey worked for Ken Salazar. In the ad, it blatantly showed Betsy behind jail bars hinting to the idea that she’s a criminal heading straight for prison.

It was obvious that this ad in return upset many loyal democrats who weren’t afraid to fight back. In an interview with Markey, she explained that the GOP statements were “outright lies” and that she would get to the bottom of this. Markey eventually filed a complaint with the Larimer County District Attorney’s office in mid September for airing false statements about her. It is illegal for a politician to knowingly display false statements about their opponent in a political campaign.

In their first local debate on October 9th, Musgrave continued to bring up allegations of Markey’s misuse of power with her company; but when her statements didn’t have much evidence to back them up, she quickly changed her tactics towards Markey’s inconsistent responses about her ownership with the company versus when she ended it.

But trust me, it didn’t stop there.

Musgrave was soon the next to file a complaint against Markey for allegedly telling falsehoods in a recent local commercial. This particular ad misled voters to believe that Musgrave allowed lobbyists to “wine and dine” her and that the Republican candidate sponsored a bill that would have benefited her family by lowering taxes on capital gains from investments in coins and precious metals.

“Musgrave’s personal financial disclosure said her husband in 2007 had between $15,001 and $50,000 in gains from his precious metal investments. The bill Musgrave co-sponsored would have lowered their family tax liability between $2,000 and $6,500.”

Markey’s campaign spokesman, Ben Marter, reacted to the complaint by saying, “Why is Musgrave spending her time disputing an ad that has been documented and proven to be true?”

This wasn’t the first time Musgrave reacted strongly to Markey’s actions. Back in August, things got pretty chaotic when Musgrave responded to Markey’s rejection to a radio debate by making her intern dress as a duck in reference to Markey “ducking” out of the debate.

Although this campaign has been a tiring one with its misled statements about scandals and corrupt politics, it’s always nice to know that our local candidates would rather go out of their way to back stab each other instead of focusing on the real issues that America faces today. I don’t blame Coloradans for being sick of the current negative ads circulating through the news that it wouldn’t surprise me if many of them vowed to refrain from watching television altogether until the election is over, I know I have.

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Filed under Colorado, Democratic Party, Media, Negative Campaigning, Republican