This Week in Rhetorical Nonsense

John Andrews.

John Andrews.

Listen up, Polsters, we need your ideas!

Politics is full of ridiculous rhetoric, of course, but some diatribes stand out more than others for sheer absurdity. For example, check out the opening paragraph from an email we received this week from John Andrews, outgoing director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University:

Conservatives put the USA first, liberals the UN. This week’s spectacle at Turtle Bay reminds us why. Another divide: conservatives think character is destiny, liberals think biology is. That led to what may be the mainstream media clunker of the year, aimed at, but deflected by, the Formidable Fiorina. Read on & smile.

Is that some fantastic rhetoric, or is that some fantastic rhetoric? (that’s a rhetorical question). We’re almost positive that this is written in the English language, and we have a rough idea of what Andrews is talking about here… but even after multiple readings, this is still difficult to understand.

We’d like to start a new weekly feature whereby we spotlight some of the best rhetoric we can find, and we need your help. First off, we need a name for this feature, so please fire off some ideas in the comments section below. Please also send us your favorite rhetorical nonsenses whenever you find them by emailing us at

Let’s get rhetorical in here!

Get More Smarter on Friday (Oct. 2)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Uh, anybody seen Tim Neville? It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► Is Colorado the future? Newsweek magazine seems to think so, and is devoting its next cover issue to the idea that Colorado is a microcosm of the future of politics (we know, we didn’t realize Newsweek still printed a magazine, either).

► The debate over whether or not Silverton should receive a Superfund Site declaration, which would free up funds to help clean up scores of polluted mines, continues to center around the idea that Silverton has a reputation to uphold anyway. There are about 629 residents of Silverton, but clean up polluted mines could protect tens of thousands of people downstream. You can probably guess where Rep. Scott Tipton comes down on the matter.

Over at POLITICO Pro (behind the paywall), an increasingly bleak assessment of GOP chances at winning Colorado’s 2016 U.S. Senate race after the party’s top choices have all bowed out:

“Not a single person in the current field has a snowball’s chance of defeating Bennet or even giving him a serious challenge,” said one prominent Colorado Republican, but still expressed hope that a “credible candidate” could still be recruited…

But a very long list of possible candidates circulated through Denver this week — including, Ryan Frazier, who lost a 2010 congressional bid, state Senate President Bill Cadman, state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, state Majority Leader Mark Scheffel, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith. “It’s literally back to the drawing board,” said Laura Carno, a local GOP activist.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Tipton Screws Thousands To Save Silverton’s “Reputation”

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

As the Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports, the longstanding debate over how to clean up heavy metal minewater pollution into the Animas River, which took on added urgency after the Environmental Protection Agency accidentally triggered a huge spill of polluted water into the river in August, is starting to expose real gaps between who is genuinely interested in solving the problem–and, well, not:

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton on Thursday expressed concerns with the prospect of federal officials moving forward with a Superfund listing for Silverton near the inactive Gold King Mine.

A divide has emerged over the Superfund question, with some residents and officials of Silverton worried the listing would be a stain on the community. Silverton and San Juan County officials in August clarified their perspective, suggesting that they are open to a listing but that they have not “foreclosed any options.”

In comments before the U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, Tipton, a Cortez Republican, stated: “Designating Silverton a Superfund site … could severely damage the town’s reputation and prove costly to the local economy.” [Pols emphasis]

Downstream along the Animas River, which flows out of Silverton (population 629) and through communities of tens of thousands of people in southwest Colorado and northwest New Mexico, there’s a lot less concern about Silverton’s “reputation”–and more about their own health and their local economy. As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reported from the same Senate hearing:

“The spill makes clear the piecemeal approach of the past isn’t working,” Andy Corra, owner of 4Corners Riversports in Durango, said of cleaning up mine contaminants in southwest Colorado. “It’s an ongoing problem. We need a comprehensive approach to cleaning this up.”

Corra, who favors Superfund designation in the area of the spill, said his business saw a roughly $30,000 loss in revenue after the disaster.

“As a business owner, it makes me reluctant to invest in the future if this is going to happen again,” he said.

Animas River fouled by minewater spill near Silverton.

Animas River fouled by minewater spill near Silverton.

One of the reasons that Republicans lurched into overdrive attacking the EPA following the accidental spill of millions of gallons of minewater into the Animas River was the perceived need to deflect from the underlying true cause of the disaster: pollution that had been building up for years since the mines were closed while mine owners dickered and pointed fingers at each other. Talk about protecting “Silverton’s reputation” from the blight of a Superfund designation is largely a cover for local and multinational corporate desires to resume hard-rock mining in this area. Obviously, if the federal government is spending millions to clean up old pollution, it would be a bit of a problem to create new pollution through renewed mining.

And this is where you realize just how completely Rep. Scott Tipton has abandoned the best interests of the vast majority of his constituents along the Animas River. There’s no question in Durango and points downstream about what’s needed–whatever resources necessary to prevent another devastating minewater release. The way to do that is to bring in the “big guns” to clean up the mess in a comprehensive way. And in the United States of America, that means the EPA’s National Priorities List–a.k.a. the Superfund.

On a purely political level, to choose mining companies and a couple hundred holdouts in Silverton over tens of thousands downstream is stunning to us. Has CD-3 really become such a safe seat for Tipton that a he can disregard the health and safety of an overwhelming majority to keep so few people happy?

It shouldn’t be, folks. It should never be.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (Oct. 1)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Today is October 1st, which means you can stop watching your inbox for more fundraising emails…at least for a few weeks. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► So, uh, how about that Tim Neville, eh?

The big political news in Colorado is the surprise announcement yesterday from Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler that he will not seek a U.S. Senate seat in 2016.

As we reported last week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) was actively pushing Brauchler’s candidacy to top Republican donors and influential politicos, and Sen. Cory Gardner was personally making introductions for Brauchler. At the same time, we also know that Brauchler had been getting a chilly response from some top GOP donors, and state Sen. Tim Neville’s full-steam-ahead Senate campaign no doubt concerned Team Brauchler as well.

Republicans are left scrambling now, trying to figure out if Neville is their guy or if they need to try to convince someone else to run as their third fourth fifth (?) choice. Meanwhile, the NRSC has added to its legacy of failure in Colorado when it comes to pushing their own candidates. Brauchler joins Gale Norton, Pete Coors, Bob Schaffer, and Jane Norton as DC-backed Senate candidates who went nowhere in Colorado.

► Congress waited until the last minute to make a deal, but at long last funding appears to be (relatively) secure to complete the Aurora VA Hospital project. From the Denver Business Journal:

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that will further fund construction of a $1.7 billion Department of Veterans Affairs medical campus in Aurora, as well as an overall spending package that will keep the federal government running until mid-December.

The VA funding bill hit a speed bump Tuesday in the form of an amendment introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller, a Republican of Florida and the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Miller’s amendment sought to take $200 million from VA bonuses to help fund the project, which needs another $625 million to be fully funded…

…But Miller backed off that amendment early Wednesday, after members of the Colorado Congressional delegation stressed the point that stopping work on the project would increase the costs even more.

It should be interesting to see how much credit Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) tries to take for this last-minute turnaround…particularly after he was taken to the woodshed earlier this week by House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller. The real credit for this effort goes to Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, who acted when Coffman and others would not.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Even David Harsanyi Can’t Defend It

David Harsanyi.

David Harsanyi.

David Harsanyi was a conservative columnist for the Denver Post for many years. Up until his departure from the Post to take a job with Glenn Beck’s budding media empire in 2011, we had a few occasions of fun times calling out Harsanyi for making silly factual errors and living a life of walking, talking hypocrisy. And of course, once he went to work for Glenn Beck, we pretty much stopped whatever residual taking seriously of him we had ever engaged in.

But we will take note of Harsanyi’s column in The Federalist yesterday, in which he almost rips apart the House GOP’s embarrassing show trial of Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards this week. It begins promisingly enough:

If for some reason you needed additional evidence that the Republican Party was deeply incompetent, unprepared, uncoordinated, inexcusably lazy, then try watching Cecile Richards’ appearance in front of congress yesterday.

Zing! But this is David Harsanyi, so don’t let that initial red-on-red snarkiness fool you:

Now, I get that these kinds of hearings are normally a waste of time, but in this instance the GOP had some good reasons to project competence. This is, after all, the issue that’s generated so much tension within their party of late. An effective showing—something resembling a smart prosecution—might have allayed a bit of the percolating discontent. Yet there they were, facing a CEO whose organization performs vivisections on humans and harvests baby brains, and the best they could do most of the time was throw her softballs or ensure her martyrdom…

It’s worth pointing out that, unlike most of the GOP members of the committee, Richards actually earns her salary. She exhibits impressive composure and rhetorical discipline, never wandering off her chosen focus for too long, and basically does everything someone like Jim Jordan does not. The Ohio rep looked like he was about to hop over the podium grab her by the arms and demand answers. The optics were horrible, and the trivial gotcha that made him act like a transmuting Bruce Banner—whether Richards had actually apologized for the video tapes or not— was also irrelevant.

He could have tricked Richards into acknowledging she had lied when she said that Planned Parenthood “never claimed” to offer mammograms? That would have taken preparation and research rather than yelling. Republicans never, setting aside all the hysterical parsing of the media, got Richards to admit that Carly Fiorina’s comments regarding human fetuses being delivered intact and alive during abortions was irrefutable.

To be clear, this “criticism” is loaded up with pseudo-extenuating hooey. Planned Parenthood conducts breast exams and files the necessary referrals for mammograms–which means that cutting off their funds could certainly cut off access to that procedure if even they’re not done in Planned Parenthood’s offices. And while David Harsanyi may have an interest in running cover for Carly Fiorina’s blatant falsehoods regarding the content of doctored undercover videos attacking Planned Parenthood, basically nobody else does.

Overall, though, reading Harsanyi’s column on Tuesday’s disastrous hearing evoked sympathy from us. It must indeed be frustrating to watch your partisan allies make such profound fools of themselves on national television, then be required to opine about it in a way that preserves at least some of their collective dignity.

We couldn’t do it.

House Republicans Concerned About New McCarthy Era

Rep. Ken Buck (right), with his gun.

Rep. Ken Buck, right, pictured with Rep. Trey Gowdy, whom John Boehner reportedly recruited to succeed him as Speaker.

Colorado Republican Rep. Ken Buck says that he plans to vote for California Rep. Kevin McCarthy as the next Speaker of the House, which is some of the better news that we’ve seen about McCarthy in the last week.

Congressional Republicans have been less than pleased with the recent actions of McCarthy, the current House Majority Leader, particularly after his comments earlier this week that framed the Benghazi hearings as a purely political stunt aimed at harming the Presidential aspirations of Democrat Hillary Clinton. CNN has more on the blowback:

House Republicans on Wednesday sharply repudiated Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s comments that suggested the Benghazi oversight committee had succeeded by tarnishing Hillary Clinton, saying it undermined their party’s messaging on a key issue and raised questions about his ability to be the GOP’s top communicator…

…Privately, Republicans were outraged by the remarks, saying the House majority leader had given Democrats unfounded ammunition to argue that the committee’s investigation is squarely being driven by politics. Republicans on the committee had tried for months to keep the focus of the inquiry on the administration’s handling of the attacks, avoiding getting into the ins and outs of the various aspects on the email stories.

But in one fell swoop, McCarthy undercut their strategy.

In case you missed it earlier this week, Dana Milbank wrote a scathing article for the Washington Post about McCarthy’s problem using words and stuff:

Kevin McCarthy is about to ascend to the highest office in the House of Representatives and become second in line to the presidency.

But there is a problem: The speaker-apparent apparently still can’t speak.

I have been tracking the California Republican’s valiant but often unsuccessful struggles with the English language for some time now, and I was alarmed to watch him lose another round on Monday during a foreign-policy speech to the John Hay Initiative, a new outfit of the neo-conservative bent…

…In McCarthy’s Monday address, Russia’s hybrid warfare became “high-bred warfare,” and restrictions on U.S. energy shipments became “the band on America.” He spoke of the “beth path forward to safety and security”; he asserted that Syria’s regime uses chemical weapons “to the very day”; he argued that the Soviet Union collapsed “because of America’s leadership and America resolve.” And he memorably rephrased the famous question asked of Republican presidential candidates: “Would you have gone to war if you knew what you knew now?”

Maybe McCarthy just needs some more Vitamin D. Or a tanning bed.

BREAKING: Brauchler Declines U.S. Senate Run

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

UPDATE #4: 9NEWS’ Allison Sylte:

Brauchler, who prosecuted the Aurora theater shooting case, was on the short list of Republican candidates to challenge Democratic incumbent Michael Bennet for his seat.

Brauchler told 9NEWS it was a tough—and close—decision for him.

“I got pretty far down the field,” Brauchler told 9NEWS. “I just couldn’t do it to my family.”

….Speculation about his political future was rampant during the months-long theater shooting trial, which ended in a conviction for the man who killed 12 people and injured 70 others. Brauchler became the target of criticism, however, after the jury failed to make a unanimous decision about the death penalty, meaning that the killer was sentenced to life in prison instead.

This was something the defense offered in a plea deal before the trial even began. [Pols emphasis]


UPDATE #3: Somebody had better get back online — Brauchler’s old campaign site has been down since late August — just two days before was registered online.


UPDATE #2: From the National Journal:

“Des­pite the over­whelm­ing sup­port and en­cour­age­ment that I re­ceived over the past few weeks, I have de­cided that now is not the right time for me and my fam­ily for me to make a run for the United States Sen­ate,” Brauchler said in a state­ment provided to Na­tion­al Journ­al. “I have de­cided in­stead to seek re-elec­tion as the Dis­trict At­tor­ney for the Eight­eenth Ju­di­cial Dis­trict.”

Yeah, right. “Overwhelming” support.


UPDATE: Top Republicans are apparently as surprised by this announcement as everyone else. We hear that potential campaign staffers for Brauchler were being vetted this week.


That’s the word moments ago from 9NEWS’ Jeremy Jojola, we’re seeking confirmation:

We’ll update with details as they come in, but the waters appear to be parting for Tim Neville. We reported last week that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) was actively pushing George Brauchler’s candidacy to top Republican donors and influential politicos, but we also know that Brauchler had been getting a chilly response from some top GOP donors; that lack of universal support, along with Neville’s candidacy, appears to have convinced Brauchler to back away from a Senate bid.

Frankly, this makes a lot more sense for Brauchler than a Senate run with the likelihood of a very difficult GOP Primary opponent in Neville. Brauchler can instead run for re-election as DA and prepare for a 2018 campaign for Governor, which had always been his preferred race.

Neville Rallies GOP Base Against Planned Parenthood

Sen. Tim Neville.

Sen. Tim Neville.

A strongly-worded letter sent to Colorado GOP Reps. Scott Tipton, Doug Lamborn, and Mike Coffman today urges them to resist any attempt to preserve funding for Planned Parenthood–implicitly giving them cover to shut down the government in order to force the Obama administration to the bargaining table. Excerpts:

As members of the governed, we are asking you to put politics aside and focus on the unalienable right to Life. Today, 3000 unborn babies will die due to the butchering effects of abortion. At conception, they are American citizens that require their life to be protected by our government. We ask that you focus on those children and remind yourself of the evil you have witnessed in the ten undercover videos to date.

Therefore, we write to you with great urgency concerning the upcoming Continuing Resolution which includes continued funding for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. As you may be aware, Planned Parenthood performed 327,000 abortions in the last year and has been the subject of many unspeakable undercover videos displaying the sale of fetal body parts for profit. Last year alone, Planned Parenthood received $528 million in taxpayer dollars.

As constituents and leaders in the conservative movement and Republican Party in the state of Colorado, we urge you to stand up for the rights of the preborn, to stand up to our pro-abortion president, and to sign the Mulvaney letter, committing to fully defund Planned Parenthood and oppose any continuing resolution that does not.

Congress must act now with the full power of the purse, draw a line in the sand, and let the Democrats in Congress and President Obama explain to the American people why our tax dollars go to support an organization that will commit more than 70,000 abortions between now and December 11 and deals in trafficking fetal body parts. We cannot, as conservatives and Republicans, allow the President to force our hands and accept continued government funding of abortions in the name of ‘getting something done’ or ‘woman’s health care’.

The letter is signed first and foremost by U.S. Senate candidate Tim Neville and his son Colorado Rep. Patrick Neville. From there, it’s a who’s-who of Colorado Republican Party county chairs, local talk-radio hosts, and grassroots activists.

Because recent events have significantly reduced the threat of a shutdown, with a vote on a continuing resolution to fund the government until December coming later today, this letter underscores Neville’s position as a grassroots leader whose positions naturally align with that of the GOP rank-and-file. John Boehner’s decision to fall on his sword has only delayed the confrontation over Planned Parenthood’s funding until December, after all–and between now and then, Neville can use language like what you read above to whip the Republican base into a heady froth. By December’s vote on the next continuing resolution, Neville will be in a prime position to either triangulate off backsliding Republicans, or take credit for their actions if the government shuts down.

Either way, Neville is rocking the cradle that rules the world. And the 2016 GOP Senate primary.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Sept. 30)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218So long, September. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► It’s beginning to look like Congress won’t be able to come to agreement on a funding plan for the Aurora VA Hospital project. As Mark Matthews writes for the Denver Post:

With only days left to act, federal lawmakers failed Tuesday to reach a deal on how to finish construction of a VA hospital in Aurora that has made national headlines by busting its budget by more than $1 billion.

At issue is the final $625 million the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says it needs to complete the facility. The VA has spent about $1 billion on the $1.675 billion project, but it needs permission from Congress to spend an additional $625 million — and soon.

If Congress doesn’t grant that permission by early October, VA officials have warned the project will run out of money and construction would grind to a halt.

While the Senate has approved a plan to pay for completion of the Aurora Hospital, the effort is being held up in the House by Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, who wants to ensure that he gets his pound of flesh from the VA first. This is not good news for Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), who has been reduced to repeating Rep. Miller’s talking points while the clock ticks down. Coffman may hold the title of Chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee for the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee, but he has done virtually nothing to move along an important project in his own district.


 Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has built his political career on the basis of being a giant pain in the ass in Congress, and his boorish antics are finally catching up to him. Senate Republicans are openly attacking Cruz and setting him up for blame in the event of a government shutdown. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says that Cruz is “pretty much done for in the Senate.”



Get even more smarter after the jump…


Kevin McCarthy Off to a Bad Start as Speaker-in-Waiting

Rep. Kevin McCarthy demonstrates how to count to five.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy demonstrates how to count to five.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is widely expected to be coronated as the next Speaker of the House when his Orangeness, Rep. John Boehner, resigns at the end of October.

If House Republicans elevate McCarthy to Speaker, he will become the least-experienced House Speaker since…wait for it…1891 (Henry Clay is the answer to that trivia question). As our friends at “The Fix” explain, McCarthy’s inexperience could be problematic for a Congress that is already among the least-effective and most disliked legislative bodies in American history.

House Republicans are in the midst of a coronation of California Congressman Kevin McCarthy as the next Speaker of the House. McCarthy’s comments about the motives of the House select committee investigating the attacks in Benghazi, Libya on Tuesday night, however, should give the party pause about whether he’s totally ready for the big job.

Prodded repeatedly by conservative Fox News Channel host Sean Hannity to name an accomplishment for the Republican-led Congress, McCarthy seized on the Benghazi committee and its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s role (or lack thereof) in the handling of the incident during her time as Secretary of State.

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” McCarthy told Hannity. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.” [Pols emphasis]


Yes, indeed. Whoops!

It’s embarrassing enough that McCarthy couldn’t immediately name an important accomplishment for Republicans in Congress, but it’s a mistake made even worse by his eventual answer. In other words, McCarthy thinks the most important accomplishment by a Republican-led Congress is a partisan political committee meant to take down a former Secretary of State. Republicans have held a majority in the House for nearly five years now, and McCarthy wants to talk about how much the GOP has hurt Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers? Really?

When Boehner first announced the Benghazi special committee in early 2014, he was careful to explain that the decision was about “getting to the truth” of the terrorist attack that killed four Americans in 2012. The Benghazi committee was obviously created in large part to damage the Presidential hopes of Hillary Clinton, but Boehner knew very well that he couldn’t frame the entire thing in those terms. “I intend for this select committee to have robust authority, and I will expect it to work quickly to get answers for the American people and the families of the victims,” said Boehner on May 2, 2014. 

As “The Fix” writes today:

While anyone with a brain would have concluded a while ago that the Benghazi committee wasn’t solely about policy, having the man who is about to be the next Speaker of the Republican-controlled House say exactly that is not smart. At all.


Perhaps McCarthy’s statement is exactly the kind of thing that a Republican House descending into anarchy would want to hear. Perhaps not. But for the rest of us hoping to see actual leadership in the Speaker’s office, McCarthy is off to a shaky start.