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!

Post interview spotlights Brauchler falsehood that he was “one vote away” from getting death sentence in Aurora trial

(Comes to light just days after Brauchler bailed out? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler.

Excellent reporting today by The Denver Post’s Jordan Steffen, who breaks the news that three jurors in the Aurora theater trial voted affirmatively for life in prison, according to one of the three jurors, who was previously thought to have been undecided.

Steffen’s interview is beautifully written, giving you a great sense of the juror’s struggles and a journalist’s experience talking to her, but what caught my eye, as someone who listened to prosecutor George Brauchler repeatedly say he was “one vote away” from getting the death penalty, were these three paragraphs:

“There were three,” [the juror] said. “Not one.”

…Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler has said he wouldn’t second-guess his decision to pursue the death penalty because of one juror’s position that led to the life sentence.

Last week, he said all of the deliberating jurors he’s spoken with have indicated that Juror 17’s account was accurate. He conceded that he hadn’t met with all of them.

More of an explanation from Brauchler would have been nice, because you have to wonder why a man of his intelligence and intensity would deliver rotten information about the jury count, without at least saying he wasn’t sure or acknowledging, as  juror 17 had clearly said after the trial, that juror 17 was against the death sentence and two jurors were undecided. That’s obviously three, not one, votes away from conviction.

Maybe Brauchler, who subsequently announced he wouldn’t challenge Sen. Michael Bennet, was just trying to make himself look good? But as a veteran prosecutor, he had to know that his misinformation could be hurting real people.

Steffen reported that the juror he interviewed ended “her silence because she could no longer bear to watch the weight of public scrutiny — what she described as a ‘witch hunt’ — fall solely on the shoulders of her fellow juror.”

Brauchler was partly responsible for the witch hunt, as today’s Post piece makes clear.

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…


The Carbon Bubble is Here. Will We Just Let It POP! ?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The news from the North Fork Valley in western Colorado hit hard.  Again.  Another 80 hard-working men and women at the Bowie Resources coal mine will be laid off.  And although coal company executives, industry PR types, and their compensated politicians might like to point fingers at Obama, environmentalists and a ‘war on coal,’ the writing is on the wall.

Coal is in decline, and not just in the United States. And its not only coal. The big news on the drilling front last week was Shell pulling out of the Arctic.  Which is, again, not the only news troubling oil and gas investors.

What were recently ‘boom towns’ are now becoming ghost towns – in the Bakken and elsewhere as the fracking, unconventional energy, and shale industries rapidly contract.  More Halliburton layoffs in Grand Junction, Chesapeake laying off workers nationwide, jobs rapidly disappearing in Weld County, at the edge of the eastern Colorado plains and just recently ground zero for the Niobrara’s brief boom.

Here is the reality, looming large across all fossil fuel markets and regions: There is a “Carbon Bubble” that more and more economists, market analysts, and investors are warning about.

Among the latest sounding the alarm bells is the UK’s central banker, addressing the global insurance company Lloyd’s of London, as reported in the International Business Times:

The head of the Bank of England took a step few other central bankers have yet taken. He acknowledged climate change.

In a speech this week, Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, said fossil fuel investments could impose “potentially huge” losses to investors as carbon assets become increasingly off-limits in a world attempting to stem catastrophic climate change.

Carney’s comments came on the occasion of the Bank of England’s first report examining the financial implications of climate change, which described how a heating world with rising oceans could wreak havoc on British insurers.

“Once climate change becomes a defining issue for financial stability, it may already be too late,” Carney was quoted saying in the Financial Times.

The issue is hardly relegated to the U.K. According to the British environmental group Carbon Tracker, which has pushed central banks to grapple with the issue, nearly 10 percent of the New York Stock Exchange’s $18 trillion market capitalization is tied up in fossil fuel companies, which would almost certainly take a hit in a stranded-asset scenario.

The issue worrying investors is that given the reality of climate change and the increasing costs borne broadly across all sectors of the economy from its impacts, already felt and only predicted to rapidly escalate, is the high likelihood of  ‘stranded investments’ in the already heavily leveraged fossil fuel economy, as Bloomberg reports:

In a stunning analysis this week, Goldman Sachs found almost $1 trillion in investments in future oil projects at risk. They looked at 400 of the world’s largest new oil and gas fields — excluding U.S. shale — and found projects representing $930 billion of future investment that are no longer profitable with Brent crude at $70. In the U.S., the shale-oil party isn’t over yet, but zombies are beginning to crash it.

To put it in the terms of an older wisdom: Eventually we will have to pay the piper.

Climate change is real and it is impacting us now.


Adams County GOP chair seethes at “cowardly, traitors known as ‘Republicans'”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Adams County GOP chair Anil Mathai.

Adams County GOP chair Anil Mathai.

Journalists aren’t reporting the seething anger of Colorado’s Tea Party conservatives at their Republican leaders for allowing the federal government to continue operating and/or for caving on what they see as GOP priniciples.

It’s an important story not only because it offers a tangible angle to explain the rise of The Donald and his ilk, but also because it shows the stress within the Republican Party  here in Colorado, as state party chair Steve House continues to face intense criticism from within.

I write a lot about talk-radio hosts, but but it’s not just the talk-radio hosts who are mad, but also folks like Anil Mathai, Chair of the Adams County Republican Party. He had this to say on Facebook:

MATHAI: The Republican Party in Washington DC has just passed a spending bill – understand they would rather Hussein Obama get everything he wants including funds to kill thousands of unborn children. WE HAVE THE HOUSE AND SENATE AND OBAMA GETS EVERYTHING HE WANTS – WHAT UTTER MADNESS!!!!! The Republican Party has become no different from the Democrat Party! Instead of supporting most of its voters, they decide to support evil and corrupt cronies. If the leadership and direction doesn’t change ASAP, we will have a Communist President in Nov 2016 and the cowardly, traitors known as “Republicans” will have the party collapse because of their arrogance. It is time to primary every RINO right now, it is time to clean house by demanding “republicans” actually support the US Constitution and the Republican platform. Sick and tired of the democrats in our party!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!! 3000 more children will die today because there is no Republican party who will help them and follow our written documents of first defending LIFE then LIBERTY then Pursuit of Happiness but instead must avoid a “government shutdown”!! GOVERNMENT over LIFE – TREASONOUS!!!!! Time for pitch forks and removal of “leaders” starting first with Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, and every Republican that voted today to fund abortion instead of “shutting down the government” and listen to most Americans on ending the evil Planned Parenthood. CORRUPT COWARDS!!!! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!! [BigMedia emphasis.]

Mathai is the Republican leader of one of the most important counties in the state going into next year, in light of its surprise tilt toward Republicans in the last election.


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.

With collapse of Rand Paul, Dudley Brown may be cash cow for Tim Neville

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

Journalists have raised doubts about whether State Sen. Tim Neville, who’s expected to announce his campaign against Sen. Michael Bennet today, can raise the $10 million or more required to unseat the well-financed Democratic uncumbant. It’s a reasonable question, for sure, but recent political shifts could be opening bank accounts for Neville that were locked just months ago.

Colorado’s own Dudley Brown has had close ties to the collapsing presidential campaign of Sen. Rand Paul (See joint photo.). Paul has signed fundraising appeals for Brown, which so pissed off the National Rifle Association (NRA) that the NRA didn’t even invite Paul to an NRA Leadership Forum, which was attended by 12 GOP presidential hopeufls in April.

Sen. Tim Neville.

Sen. Tim Neville.

Brown may now be looking for a new gun-loving federal candidate prop up with millions of dollars. And that lucky candidate could be Neville, whose close ties to Dudley are not in dispute as you can read below if you need to.

But does Dudley have that kind of money? Well, he’s president of the National Association of Gun Rights (NAGR), which raised over $16 million in 501c4 political-attack funds, according to its lastest-available federal filing. It’s impossible to know how much of that dark money could be diverted to Colorado’s Senate race, but the money is big. And for what it’s worth, back in 2013, Dudley said his organization would spend at least $1 million on campaigns.


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.