by Mike Spaniola – Guest Commentary
Californication is a song by The Red Hot Chili Peppers, a somewhat ominous ode to a self-absorbed society bent on self-destruction with such lyrics as “… tidal waves couldn’t save the world, from Californication.” Today, it defines a decade of unsavory politics that have Democrats closing in on the Californication of Colorado.
Some political observers will point to a mass migration of Californians to Colorado in the mid 1990s, just as the Golden State was experiencing a surge in taxes and crime and a downturn in housing. With all the fervor of someone proved wrong once, some of these new arrivals set out to save Colorado from itself.
Prior to the 2004 election, the duly elected GOP-controlled Colorado Legislature had passed a redistricting plan, one showing slight favor to Republicans – as is the custom of the party in control, but Colorado’s Democrat-controlled Supreme Court overruled the plan in a nearly unprecedented decision. State Democrats knew well that state media would defend the court’s politically contrived decision and thereby dampen the ensuing protests. The U.S. Supreme Court, still under heavily partisan criticism for the court’s Gore v. Bush decision, declined to hear an appeal filed by state Republicans.
Around this same time, as reported in the Washington Times, numerous attempts by Democrats to woo then-Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a Republican, into the private sector succeeded. Also, popular GOP legislator Rep. Scott McInnis (Dist. 3), who had received more than 70 percent of the vote in the 2002 election, suddenly left politics despite his stated desire to run for a U.S. Senate seat, which Campbell’s departure made available to him. It was also noted at the time that McInnis would have made a great Republican gubernatorial candidate. (But, as we saw this year, the Democratic machine easily maligned and defeated McInnis in the gubernatorial primary and is now using the same basic script to vilify GOP candidate Dan Maes, who beat McInnis.)
Of course, the removal prior of the two aforementioned and prominent GOP Congressional members to the 2004 election did not ensure their seats would go to Democrats; in this case, however, that’s what happened. Massive voter registration fraud in the Denver area leading up the 2004 election aided in that outcome. Despite being a function of the far-left group ACORN, nary a media report at that time mentioned the Democrats by name. Only when pushed did a couple media outlets mention that “liberal” or “progressive” groups were behind the voter registration fraud.
Worse yet, Ken Salazar (who was state attorney general at the time) refused to step aside and allow an independent investigation of the alleged registration fraud despite the fact that he was running as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Campbell! (Salazar won and was ascended to a cabinet level as Secretary of the Interior once Obama took office.) The reliably Democratic state media reported Salazar’s clear conflict-of-interest quite casually and even defended his unethical handling of the situation.
Motivating Democrats back then was a fear of school voucher legislation, which the GOP-controlled Legislature passed in 2004 but the Democrat-controlled state Supreme Court ruled “unconstitutional.” In addition, David Horowitz, a leading advocate of free speech in academia, had been working with state GOP members to expose and to propose remedies to inculcated anti-American bias at the university level. (Think CU’s Ward Churchill.)
After winning control of the statehouse in the 2004 election, Democrats forged a ballot measure that allows Colorado state government to retain sales tax refunds of $5 billion previously refunded to tax payers. They did this by claiming incongruously that the state was in a recession at that time (despite housing that was selling at all-time highs) while simultaneously defending illegal immigration as necessary to meet escalating employment needs.
There was also a little matter of an $11 billion shortfall in the state pension fund, PERA, but no one really seems to understand what happened, as the media simply reported it as a problem that retention of the sales tax refund would help to solve, and so let’s move on. Given the cavalier treatment of this serious issue, one can only conclude Democrats had a lot to hide, and perhaps gain, from this murky financial transgression.
For placing political correctness above the law, former Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter became the Democrats’ gubernatorial candidate and, on Nov. 7, 2006, was elected governor of Colorado. During the campaign, records revealed that as Denver District Attorney, Ritter used an obscure plea bargain of trespassing on farmland to free criminals who should have been deported. Ritter blamed immigration officials and others. As Denver DA, Ritter had no qualms pandering to feminists and charging two brothers with felony child abuse after one of the men’s girlfriend stabbed her 3-year-old daughter during an altercation. One of the brothers was even asleep at the time of woman’s attack. Ritter proudly called this New Age approach to justice “novel.” (The charge was so outrageous that even The Denver Post deemed it worthy of coverage.)
Shortly after the 2004 election, a Denver judge virtually ensured the Californication of Colorado. Denver District Court Judge Larry Naves ruled the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles could no longer require driver’s license applicants to produce two or more documents to prove legal residence. Naves claimed this rule discriminates against the poor and caused undue harm. Naves was appointed in July of the previous year by the chief justice of Colorado’s Democratic-controlled Supreme Court, and his decision was widely supported by the media, which largely ignored that Naves’ wife was Bertha Lynn, a longtime and influential news anchor at Channel 7 in Denver.
On behalf of Colorado’s Democratic political machine, a joint operating agreement (JOA) between The Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News was proposed in the late ’90s. The Rocky Mountain News was the more moderate of the state’s two major newspapers. (Remember RMN’s common sense, populist columnist and associate editor Clifford May? Few people do today and that makes the Post crowd smile big.) At the time, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno promised people in Colorado that any JOA would take up to three years to gain approval from her Justice Department and plenty of public discussion would take place in the interim. Well, when Gore lost in 2000 and Reno was on her way out, her “Jurassic” Dept. quickly approved the Post’s takeover of the News after just six months. Complaints were quickly swept under the rug. That, of course, was phase one. As is the case with most of the stealth that Democrats do, there was an appropriate waiting period then the demise of The Rocky Mountain News was announced.
(A similar coup took place in this region when, in the late ‘90s, a Georgia-based media group, Morris Communications, bought a few local papers from Rifle to Glenwood Springs to Eagle and had planned to buy a paper in Aspen and to start one in Vail as well. The group was severely maligned by deep pockets in Aspen who started a free newspaper in Glenwood that undermined Morris’ central holding – the long-time Glenwood Independent – and staunchly opposed Morris’ plan to buy The Aspen Times. The Aspen coalition vilified Morris and blamed the company for riffs that developed. After a couple of costly years and damage to the company’s reputation, Morris pulled out of Colorado. Guess who bought the papers? The owners of the Vail Daily. So, there’s a partial window into behind-the-scenes manipulation that have saddled us with a monopoly in print media.)
In return for all the aforementioned derring do and more, Democrats chose Denver for the party’s national convention in 2008, which featured a massive socialist-style rally at Invesco Field that summer and the Red Hot Obama (as in the Soviet’s favorite color).
So, while the song by The Red Hot Chili Peppers was popular among Coloradans who once sought to curb the state’s population growth, today it has much broader meaning. This same crowd along with many converts are now curbing our right to free elections, a free press and limited government and taxation.
Mike Spaniola writes political commentary that counters the oxymoron known as mainstream media. He lives in central Minturn.