Political Web sites for the insatiable

David Kopel

Rocky Mountain News. August 9, 2008

"Inever get enough. I know I'm never, I know I'm never, I know I'm never satisfied." So sang Michael Franks. If that's how you feel about political coverage, this column is here to help.

Here are some useful Web sites for the politically insatiable. The key criterion is that the Web site must occasionally provide original news. Mere commentary on stories from the Rocky Mountain News, Denver Post, or other mainstream sources is not enough.

At the top are two Web reports that often break important stories. Both are officially nonpartisan, although they have strong political leanings. Pro-Democrat (or more precisely, anti-Republican) is the Colorado Independent, whose editor, Cara DeGette, is the sister of Denver's congresswoman.

Some coverage at coloradoindependent. com is mere partisan cheerleading, such as several articles piling on Bob Schaffer because of some moronic graphics that appeared on his son's Facebook page. But other articles provide useful new information, such as a July 31 piece examining Coloradans for Economic Growth, a group that has been running negative ads against Mark Udall.

The anti-Democratic converse of the Colorado Independent is Face the State, run by Brad Jones. It's a smaller operation than the Colorado Independent but still breaks interesting stories. A July 27 article reported that some DNC delegates were buying carbon offsets from a wind turbine in Wray. The only problem is that the turbine is not functioning, and never has. Find it at facethestate.com

The Grand Junction Sentinel's Mike Saccone writes a weblog called Political Notebook, which should be considered must reading for anyone who wants to pay serious attention to Colorado politics.

On Wednesday, Saccone reported on the donors to A Smarter Colorado, the group promoting a large increase in effective severance taxes for oil and gas companies in Colorado. About two-thirds of the group's money has come from the Nature Conservancy, an organization based in Virginia.

Interestingly, the tax hike campaign also received very large contributions from defense contractor Lockheed Martin and from the Gary-Williams Energy Corp., which is headquartered in Denver. Go to gjsentinel.com/blogs.

For polls on Colorado races, check out pollster.com/polls/co/. There, you can see the results of 19 polls (so far) on the Schaffer-Udall Senate race and 13 on the McCain-Obama contest in Colorado. Polls in the aggregate tend to be more reliable than individual polls, so the trend lines in the Pollster graph are a rough indication of where the race is at a particular point in time.

Politicker.com is a national site that promises "Inside politics for political insiders." Colorado is one of the 15 states for which Politicker attempts to provide extensive local coverage. It does have the kind of news that only a hardcore insider could love, such as the state Democratic Party naming a new communications director. But Politicker is also strong on horse race news for the U.S. House primaries. A recent piece contained the interesting fact that in the 6th Congressional District, Mike Coffman claims to have a 7-1 advantage over Wil Armstrong in last-minute contributions of $1,000 or more.

The Drunkablog specializes in hostile coverage of the extreme left, an important local topic in light of plans for protests at the Democratic National Convention. Last Saturday, the Re-create 68 Alliance organized a tiny rally on the steps of the state Capitol, denouncing U.S. policy toward Iran. The event was too small to merit coverage in the Denver dailies, so Drunkablog performed a useful function by providing pictures of the protesters and their signs, such as "Abort the troops." Read it at thedrunkablog. blogspot.com

Colorado's local version of the Drudge Report is Complete Colorado, a side project of my Independence Institute colleague Todd Shepherd (formerly a reporter for KOA radio). Completecolorado.com has a good collection of links to media of all ideologies from all over Colorado.

On Monday, Complete Colorado reported the role of Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar in Louisiana politics: Louisiana Republicans are trying to tie Democratic incumbent Sen. Mary Landrieu to her "friend" Salazar. A more thorough story might have cited the recent Rasmussen poll finding that 75 percent of Louisianans favor offshore drilling.

A legal term

In my previous column, I used the phrase "illegal alien." A commenter on the Rocky's Web site wrote that alien is a proper legal term, but illegal alien is not, and that the latter term "serves to dehumanize someone."

The commenter is correct that the U.S. Code defines an "alien" but not an "illegal alien." Under Colorado law, however, "illegal alien" is a legal term. For example, section 8-17.5-102(2)(A)(I) of Colorado Revised Statutes requires that government service contracts with private corporations include a provision that the contractor will not "knowingly employ or contract with an illegal alien to perform work under the public contract for services." There is nothing dehumanizing about accurately describing a person's legal status.

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