Miller Hudson Archives - Colorado Politics

Ernest LuningErnest LuningFebruary 22, 201718min182

Three months after Democrats were stunned by the results of the presidential election — and just three weeks into the Trump administration — the party’s Denver County central committee turned out in record numbers for its biennial reorganization meeting. And if there was a common message, it was that the stakes were immense, and the party’s organizers, volunteers and officials were eager to get to work.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonJanuary 17, 20179min1620

I was discharged from the U.S. Navy in July of 1970. After picking up a new Toyota Land Cruiser for $4,100 (a deal made possible through a purchase program available only to returning troops), my wife and I drove coast to coast with our two month old son, Byron, in a crib that slid neatly between the two lengthwise bench seats in the back of the Cruiser. We spent a month visiting relatives and touring national parks. It was the kind of vacation you only attempt when you are young and slightly stupid. Fortunately, Byron was the kind of baby that lures you into having another — quiet, rarely crying and willing to sleep through the night in a tent and strange motels. It was at Jenny Lake in Teton National Park that I first encountered the mechanized, American family expedition. A large GMC pickup with a camper shell, a motorbike hanging in a rack on the front bumper, a fishing boat with Evinrude motor secured upside down on top of the camper and towing a small Jeep, pulled in next to us with four squealing kids.


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonMay 19, 20166min1640

RTD’s cumbersomely named University of Colorado A Line — it cost CU $5 million for the “branded sponsorship” — is an A Train linking Union Station with DIA, covering 23 miles of commuter rail that can be traversed in 37 minutes. With its April opening, Denver joined a growing number of American cities where travelers can take a train to a plane and back. Not all of these have proven a success. San Francisco’s BART extension provides access to nearly 10 million Bay Area residents, where daily commutes are frequently horrific and ridership has been high. Philadelphia, by contrast, runs virtually empty cars several times an hour.


Ernest LuningErnest LuningMay 19, 201611min152

Thirty-Five Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … Some of the money allegedly embezzled from the Central Bank for Cooperatives in Denver by Eve Lincoln, a former coordinator for Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan’s 1980 Senate campaign, could have been used to help finance Buchanan’s petition drive to get on the ballot, the Republican’s former campaign manager said. Under federal election law, if that’s what had happened, it could have counted as an illegal corporate campaign contribution, said Curt Uhre, who helmed Buchanan’s bid. He explained that was why the campaign had reimbursed the bank $2,591 just six days before


Ernest LuningErnest LuningMay 12, 201612min145

Thirty Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … The Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Gary Hart — he wasn’t seeking a third term — was warming up. Democrats had decided on U.S. Rep. Tim Wirth as the party’s nominee, but Republicans appeared to be roughly evenly divided between U.S. Rep. Ken Kramer, state Sen. Martha Ezzard and businessman Terry Considine.

Jared WrightJared WrightApril 13, 20162min1570

By TCS Publisher and Editor in Chief Jared Wright @_JaredWright_ DENVER — Good morning and Happy Wednesday. A crazy political world we live in: All it takes is one day of Matt Drudge exaggeration to rile up the natives back home. Stay safe out there. "Shame on the people who think somehow that it is right to threaten me and my family over not liking the outcome of an election." — Steve House Now, your substrata feed straight from Colorado's politics pipeline: Smallwood makes ballot in Senate District 4 — Yesterday, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office notified Jim Smallwood of his campaign’s success in acquiring a ...


Miller HudsonMiller HudsonApril 12, 20168min1460

“Close only counts in horseshoes.” The old adage is nowhere more meaningful than at national political conventions. This round, Democrats are salivating at the opportunity to run against Donald Trump in November; but, truth be told, he is becoming increasingly less likely to emerge as the Republican nominee. One minor historical fact consistently overlooked is that never has a frontrunner been nominated at an “open” or “contested” American political convention of either major party on the first ballot. Colorado Republicans just made such a situation a little more likely in 2016. Think about it. If Trump fails, as appears increasingly likely, to secure 1,273 delegates before arriving in Cleveland, he will almost certainly return to New York as a footnote — albeit a lengthy one — to the 2016 Presidential race.


Ernest LuningErnest LuningFebruary 11, 20168min161
Thirty Years Ago this week in The Colorado Statesman … I’d Rather Be in Denver — Dale Tooley’s Own Story, reached the top of the local best-seller lists just a few weeks after its release, according to both The Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News. The former Denver district attorney had completed his autobiography […]

This content is only available to subscribers.

Login or Subscribe


Miller HudsonNovember 21, 20158min1300

While there is satisfaction in Colorado’s hipness — the first state to retail legal marijuana, younger and healthier on average than our 49 compatriots and the No. 1 destination for migrating millennials — we tend to repress our history as the site of both the Columbine High School killings and the Aurora movie theater slaughter. The Columbine victims have a tasteful memorial, as may the Aurora dead one of these days. Discussion of these events is regarded as rather tasteless at chamber of commerce luncheons. The rest of the world has not forgotten, however. In the past month three very different publications, Mother Jones, The New Yorker and the London Review of Books, have published articles examining the germinal role that Columbine has played in subsequent assaults around the globe, aided and abetted by a social media fascination with Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris.

In “Inside the Race to Stop the Next Mass Shooter,” Mother Jones writer Mark Follman identifies 72 plots and attacks in 30 states “whose suspects and perpetrators claimed to have been inspired by the Columbine massacre.” Police averted 51 of these, while the 21 attacks that took place resulted in 89 deaths and 126 casualties, as well as nine perpetrators dead by their own hands. If we expand our focus to include non-school shootings, like James Holmes and the Aurora theater murders, the numbers climb to 486 dead and 557 wounded during the 15 years since Columbine in 1999. This carnage has prompted police departments, colleges and high schools to deploy “threat assessment” teams. Virginia, Illinois and Connecticut have passed laws mandating such teams for their universities and colleges. As Follman points out, “Virtually every one of these attacks, forensic investigation show, is a predatory crime, methodically planned and executed. The weeks, months, or even years when a would be killer is escalating towards violence are a window of opportunity in which he can be detected and thwarted.”

The story of Eric Ayala, who was identified as a threat at a California high school and smothered in “wrap around” counseling services for five years, is a sobering reminder that while a threat might be contained, it is not necessarily eliminated. Following high school, when his classmates were protected, Ayala moved away and eventually gunned down a group of teenagers at a dance club before killing himself. The shooters’ cultural meme has been embroidered some since Columbine. They often kill roommates or family members before launching out into the public square in order to push up their kill quotient.

Both Andrew O’Hagan in the London Review of Books and the bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker point out these shooters are virtually always male and, undoubtedly to the consternation of many parents, have usually been identified with Asperger’s syndrome or have exhibited behavior falling somewhere on the autism scale.

O’Hagan examines the growing pattern of shooters leaving behind manifestos outlining their grievances against the world. In the case of Christopher Harper-Mercer at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, earlier this year, he chose a single student, saying, “You’re the lucky one,” to hand-deliver his diatribe to police before proceeding to kill everyone else in the class.

It was Dylan Klebold who wrote, “Life is a punishment.” But whether it was Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik, who killed nearly 100, mostly children, or Vester Flanagan, the Virginia newscaster, who filmed his murders and then posted them on the Internet, social media postings had evidenced their propensity for violence months before they acted.

Perhaps the most disturbing of these recent commentaries is Gladwell’s recent “Thresholds of Violence: How school shootings catch on.” Gladwell examines the findings of Stanford sociologist Mark Granovetter, who has spent his career attempting to explain how a person does things seemingly at odds with who they are or what they think is right. Granovetter’s research extends to the behavior of mobs and the decision to riot. What prompts people who aren’t inclined to destructive violence to join in looting, throwing rocks or worse? As Gladwell reports, Granovetter concluded, “A riot was a social process in which people did things in reaction to and in combination with those around them. Social processes are driven by thresholds — which he defined as the number of people doing some activity before we agree to join them.” Gladwell proceeds to hypothesize that the growing frequency of mass shootings in the United States might be a question of thresholds — that what we are actually witnessing is a slow-motion riot that could be acquiring greater momentum. Chew on that concept.

Earlier this month, an “open-carry” monster killed three bystanders in downtown Colorado Springs. Within a week, Colorado Springs police, who dismissed 911 calls regarding the initial assailant, shot down a mimic. Copycat or coincidence? If Gladwell is correct, we could soon find ourselves living in a garrison society, much like Israel. The terrorist attacks in Paris provide yet another reason for worry. The Colorado Legislature should consider mandating threat assessments for all public facilities. Several years ago, I was traveling on horseback through rural Ireland, when one of the riders asked our guide, “Why did they build so many castles?” The reply: “Because it was dangerous to remain outside the walls after dark!”

Gladwell’s closing admonition is chilling. “In the day of Eric Harris, we could try to console ourselves with the thought that there was nothing we could do, that no law or intervention or restriction on guns could make a difference in the face of someone so evil. But the riot has now engulfed the boys who were once content to play with chemistry sets in the basement. The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts.”

Miller Hudson is a public affairs consultant and a former state legislator. Reach him at