Tell Us How You Really Feel, Big Oil

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post reported Friday, and we didn't want it to escape mention:

A new campaign ad that features the "Flat Earth Discussion Group," cheese by-products and a man with a sock puppet takes a humorous look at Colorado's fracking battle, but some voters aren't laughing.

The Environmental Policy Alliance launched the 60-second spot this month as a way to counter what it says are are false claims from "radical activists" about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, an issue that has dominated Colorado's political landscape for almost two years.

But in hyper-educated Colorado — which ranks second in the nation per capita for the number of people with college degrees — will the ad backfire? [Pols emphasis]

Because the oil and gas industry has–pardon the pun–money to burn on promoting its agenda, we expect them to shovel every kind of media at Colorado voters for as long as their risk/benefit equations make it gainful. This ad is a lesson in the need to better prescreen the concepts their media department/consultants/meddling executive directors hatch in a moment of heady, undisciplined groupthink. You've been to those meetings.

Meetings where they hatch really bad ideas.

You see, outside the world of the oil and gas industry's vast payroll and legions of politicos and PR firms in their orbit, a large percentage of perfectly reasonable, well educated people have legitimate concerns about drilling–especially now that "fracking" has brought drilling to places it previously was not, residential areas unaccustomed to industrial activity. These are not people who want to ban the practice of fracking outright; but they are persuadable that the industry's invasive status quo, sometimes in neighborhoods like their own, is not satisfactory.

And this ad more or less insults them all.

At the end of the day, the purpose of paid advertising is not to make the people who already agree with you chuckle, it's to persuade persuadables who have not yet decided. This might be a good video to play at oil and gas industry trade conferences to lighten the mood or whatever, but for the purpose of reaching the middle-road segment of Colorado voters who could decide the fate of local control ballot initiatives this November, it's misguided enough to significantly backfire on its creators.

Beauprez’s clarified comments on immigration still in need of clarification

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

In case you missed it, here's gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez's response to criticism of his comments on the radio that states should enforce immigration law, if the feds don't do it, “as Jan Brewer tried to do in Arizona.”

Radio hosts failed to ask Beauprez for details, but Beauprez told former Colorado Statesman reporter Peter Marcus July 14 that his comments were misrepresented by the “radical left.”

“It wasn’t as much about Jan Brewer’s policy as much as Jan Brewer was standing up for her citizens and saying if the federal government’s not going to protect them, somebody needs to,” explained Beauprez. “That was the point.”

As for the comments about blocking busloads of undocumented children if they are transported to Colorado, Beauprez said he was simply repeating comments he had heard.

“That was passed on because somebody in Pueblo told me that that would happen,” clarified the gubernatorial candidate. “That wasn’t me saying it. I said I had heard that from people in Pueblo.

“And that’s the kind of concern, that’s why this president needs to get his arms around this,” Beauprez continued. “You’ve got a volatile society and people are looking for leaders that are willing to address reality. You may not like reality, but you’d better deal with it.

“This didn’t just happen,” he added. “[Texas Gov.] Rick Perry sent the president a letter two years ago that said you’d better get on top of this, and he ignored it. Actions have consequences.”

What I don't see here is Beauprez saying he disagrees with Jan Brewer's law, later found to be unconstitutional, to detain anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant. I also don't see him saying he wouldn't join in blocking buses with migrant children, if they were sent to Colorado. More clarification is needed.

Happy Colorado River Day

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Happy Colorado Day – yep today is the day that 93 years ago the Grand River was renamed the Colorado River. Today that river is America’s Hardest working river in the West– supplying drinking water to 36 million people, supporting 15% of the country’s agriculture and a $26 billion dollar outdoor recreation economy.

We organized an awesome Colorado River Day event in Denver today to highlight progress on water conservation and reuse and outline the work left to do to protect our rivers and our communities and meet future water needs.

The Colorado River flows through seven states and two countries. If we look basinwide, we’re in a crisis – from extreme droughts in California to dropping level of Lake Mead.Here in Colorado, we’re at a critical point as well. With the first state water plan being developed, we need new solutions and bring all the necessary stakeholders into the decision making process – from local elected to Latinos and conservationists to water providers.

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Today In BS: Yes, Colorado Personhood is Federal Personhood

A story from KUNC's Bente Birkeland showcases a key emerging lie from Republicans in defense of U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner. As readers know, Gardner disavowed his longstanding support for Colorado's "Personhood" abortion ban ballot initiatives shortly after entering the U.S. Senate race. Gardner claims that despite supporting Personhood over repeated elections, he never realized the measure could outlaw commonly used forms of so-called "abortifacient" birth control.

Although Gardner has withdrawn his support for the Personhood abortion bans, he remains a sponsor of the federal Life at Conception Act. A big reason is that the process of formally removing one's self as a cosponsor of congressional legislation requires an appearance on the floor of the House–a public statement that would be jumped on by abortion opponents and supporters alike.

Via KUNC, here's what Team Gardner is saying when asked about this contradiction:

Polls show the U.S. Senate race is deadlocked. The Republican Party said Democrats are forcing the issue because abortion isn’t a topic at the top of most voters’ minds this election cycle.

Its job and the economy on the minds of women voters said Owen Loftus, a spokesman for the Colorado Republican Committee. He doesn’t think the personhood proposal will hurt Gardner – even though Gardner still supports a similar federal measure.

“It’s not personhood federally. The Democrats like to say it is personhood, but it’s not,” said Loftus. [Pols emphasis]

Cory Gardner thinks you are, in a word, stupid.

Cory Gardner thinks you are, in a word, stupid.

​As we and others have repeatedly explained, that is a completely false statement. Both the Colorado Personhood abortion bans and the federal Life at Conception Act would ban all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest, as well as commonly-used forms of birth control. The federal Life at Conception Act cosponsored by Gardner reads as follows:

The terms "human person" and "human being" include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, [Pols emphasis] cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.

And once again, here is 2008's Amendment 48, the Colorado Personhood abortion ban ballot measure backed by Gardner:

Person defined. AS USED IN SECTIONS 3, 6, AND 25 OF ARTICLE II OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION, THE TERMS "PERSON" OR "PERSONS" SHALL INCLUDE ANY HUMAN BEING FROM THE MOMENT OF FERTILIZATION. [Pols emphasis]

It is the language in both the Life at Conception Act and Colorado's Personhood amendments conferring rights from "the moment of fertilization" that would result in the same outcome–prohibition of "abortifacient" forms of birth control. It really is that simple. There is no hidden language in the federal Life at Conception Act making the distinction GOP spokesman Owen Loftus suggests exists. H.R. 1091 is three paragraphs long. Colorado's original Personhood initiative, Amendment 48, is the one sentence you see above.

Bottom line: Gardner's campaign is not being honest, and they are counting on the press having neither the time nor inclination to check the facts. It appears that Republicans all the way up the food chain are ready to repeat this falsehood rather than trap Gardner. Even though the facts are not at all difficult to understand.

If it were us writing these stories, we wouldn't stand for being lied to like this.

Coffman still upset that he’s forced to be a square peg in the round hole of Aurora

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

endangeredcoffman

If you follow the 6th Congressional District race, Coffman vs. Romanoff, you know that everything we're seeing, from Coffman's attempts to re-invent himself (abortion, immigration) to Romanoff's decision to run at all, goes back to the 2010 redistricting, which turned the seat from red to purple.

From day one after the new district was created, reporters referenced the question of whether, when it comes to his new district, Coffman is a square peg in a round hole, a bad fit, even a Cuckoo bird* (my friend's analogy). The election will answer this question.

But whether you think Coffman is anything like a Cuckoo bird, you wouldn't expect Coffman, three years after redistricting, to be bringing up the square-peg issue himself, almost hating on his own district.

As Coffman said on the Hugh Hewitt show last week:

Coffman: Well, what they did, is they targeted my seat in the redistricting process. A Democratic judge – you know, certainly his affiliation, I’m sure, — in Denver, signed off on their map, without any amendments, and it certainly is what they call a ‘D+1’ [‘D’ plus one] district. So, it’s a Democrat-leaning district. Obama carried it by five points last time. I’m the number-one target for any sitting House Republican by the Democratic Campaign Congressional Committee. And I’m proud of it. I need the support of all the folks out there who seeks to return to a constitutional government to the United States.

Listen to Coffman's thoughts on redistricting on Hugh Hewitt 7.18.14

Hewitt doesn't know enough about Colorado politics to be expected to correct some of Coffman's facts here, so I'll fill in for him.

First, there's the politics. I read this as Coffman admitting that he's not right for his own district. He's pissed at Democrats for targeting his seat, and he's mad at the "Democratic judge" for approving it. Yet, he wants to be the representative. Fine, but how far will he go (and can he go) not to be the square peg? That's the heart of the matter out there in Aurora.

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Colorado River Basin drying out faster than previously thought

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

What will our Fracker in Chief say about this?

Seven Western states that rely on the Colorado River Basin for valuable water are drawing more heavily from groundwater supplies than previously believed, a new study finds, the latest indication that an historic drought is threatening the region’s future access to water.

In the past nine years, the basin — which covers Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California — has lost about 65 cubic kilometers of fresh water, nearly double the volume of the country’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead. That figure surprised the study’s authors, who used data from a NASA weather satellite to investigate groundwater supplies.

About two-thirds of the water lost over the past nine years came from underground water supplies, rather than surface water.

“We were shocked to see how much water was actually depleted underground,” Stephanie Castle, a water specialist at the University of California at Irvine and lead author of the report, said in an interview.

This water is critical for all aspects of life in the geological area.(No, I will not change my screen name to Captain Obvious.) Fracking, which our governor, a trained geologist, says is harmless, uses enormous amounts of water which in turn affects individuals' water wells. Discarded fracking fluids are now also beginning to affect water tables and aquifers around the nation.

Oh, and did I mention increased earthquake activity in fracking areas?

Here's a map of the Colorado River Basin by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that is in the Post article:

The ease with which our Governor gives his support to the highly disruptive extraction of fossil fuels from our environment never ceases to amaze me. There are many negative aspects of the technology, yet he has remained firm in his support of Big Energy. Maybe this latest piece of evidence will finally catch his attention to the long-term harm fracking will do to Colorado's environment. 

Cory Gardner: So, Cosmo Says You’re Whack…

Cosmo-July14

Guess which key demographic reads Cosmo?

Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal wrote at length on a subject we have been intimately familiar with in Colorado: Congressman Cory Gardner's Personhood problem. It has now been more than 4 months since Gardner first tried to flip-flop on Personhood (but only the "Colorado" kind), and he's had a hell of a problem with the issue ever since. Gardner has tried hard to distance himself from the issue — which was the point of the flip-flop to begin with — but things have gone so bad that 4 months later Personhood is still dogging the Republican Senate nominee. He's now being criticized by Cosmopolitan magazine, which is a problem for a lot of reasons.

Since we all agree that women are probably the key to winning statewide races in Colorado, a new story out today should absolutely scare the hell out of the Gardner campaign — not just for what it says, but for where it says it: Cosmopolitan magazine. Ada Calhoun writes this week about the federal "Life at Conception Act," which Gardner sponsors and which is pretty much the exact same thing as the Colorado Personhood ballot measures:

A bill introduced in the House of Representatives last year has major criminal implications for women. If it passes, women could be prosecuted for seeking an abortion or even for taking a drug and then having a miscarriage. It would also outlaw IVF and any form of contraception that could theoretically prevent implantation of a fertilized egg, including Plan B, the IUD, and the pill…

…More than anywhere else, the debate over personhood is playing out in Colorado, the home base of Personhood USA. There, Sen. Mark Udall, a Democrat, has been pounding his challenger, Cory Gardner, with ads calling him out for his support of personhood. Gardner responded in a commercial that he no longer supports personhood after he "listened" to his constituents. But Udall's campaign launched a website that shows Gardner with a cartoon of the federal personhood bill perched on his shoulder, and Planned Parenthood Votes released an ad calling Gardner "still wrong for women's health." Gardner's campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

"Colorado might be a little unique because Coloradans know what this means," says James Owens, deputy communications director for the Udall campaign. "We've had two ballot initiatives on [personhood] in the last six years, and they've failed by overwhelming margins. So when people hear that there's a congressman running to represent the entire state who still has his name on a federal personhood bill, they know what that means for their access to birth control and safe access to abortion."…

"[Gardner has] built his entire political career on support of personhood," Personhood USA president Keith Mason told Cosmopolitan.com. "I think he's just listening to some bad advice, and he's playing politics." [Pols emphasis]

Whoa. That quote from Personhood USA president Keith Mason is a doozy. When you call out Gardner for basing "his entire political career on support of personhood," it absolutely kills Gardner's hopes of trying to make this look like a reasonable re-think of a controversial issue. And it's not like there isn't a preponderance of evidence against Gardner on this "change of heart."

Cory Gardner's Personhood twist

Cory Gardner is all tied up over Personhood.

Not that we're surprised this isn't going well. Take a look at what we wrote in late April, and notice how you could use the same paragraph months later:

Look, we get it. We understand the idea here. Rep. Cory Gardner was obviously concerned that his longtime support of the Personhood issue — both in Colorado and in Congress — would be a significant problem in his quest to defeat incumbent Sen. Mark Udall in November. From a broader perspective, it probably seemed like a wise move to try to distance himself from his Personhood past. But Gardner and his campaign team didn't spend enough time thinking this through.

Not only has the Personhood issue failed to fade for Gardner, but his clumsy handling of the flip-flop has actually made things worse for his candidacy. And from what we hear, some high-level Republicans are quietly growing nervous about Gardner's silly mistakes.

If Gardner loses his bid for the U.S. Senate largely because of the Personhood issue, he'll have nobody to blame but his own campaign. Personhood was going to come up in this campaign one way or the other, but Gardner's own arrogance at thinking he could just tell people he "changed his mind" has kept this as a top issue as we enter August and the busiest time of the campaign season. He should never have tried to flip-flop on an issue as seemingly black and white as Personhood, but now he's living with the consequences. 

Look, we get it. We understand the idea here. Rep. Cory Gardner was obviously concerned that his longtime support of the Personhood issue — both in Colorado and in Congress — would be a significant problem in his quest to defeat incumbent Sen. Mark Udall in November. From a broader perspective, it probably seemed like a wise move to try to distance himself from his Personhood past. But Gardner and his campaign team didn't spend enough time thinking this through.

Not only has the Personhood issue failed to fade for Gardner, but his clumsy handling of the flip-flop has actually made things worse for his candidacy. And from what we hear, some high-level Republicans are quietly growing nervous about Gardner's silly mistakes.

- See more at: http://coloradopols.com/search/personhood/page/3#sthash.kmsDckbY.dpuf

Chris Christie Still Thinks Colorado Sucks. Vote Beauprez!

Chris Christie and Bob Beauprez.

Chris Christie and Bob Beauprez.

With New Jersey's embattled Gov. Chris Christie safely away from the state of Colorado, here's a brief roundup of the press he left in his wake yesterday while raising funds for the Republican Governors Association and Colorado GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez. 9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman:

"Go to Colorado and see if you want to live there," Christie said in the April broadcast. "See if you want to live in a major city in Colorado, where there are head shops popping up on every corner, and people flying into your airport just to get high. To me, it's not the quality of life we want to have here in the state of New Jersey."

Speaking to the Denver media at Sam's No. 3 Diner, Christie said he meant exactly what he said and that reasonable minds can disagree… [Pols emphasis]

The Durango Herald's Peter Marcus:

Christie laughed that he had been in Colorado for only about two hours when he made the stop in Denver. He said he hadn’t had time yet to explore Colorado’s quality of life. But he still maintained his position. [Pols emphasis]

“I disagree with you,” Christie said to more than 55 percent of the Colorado electorate that legalized retail marijuana in 2012. “The fact is that we’ve got to stop in public life worrying about making everybody happy and faking it by we’re going to agree all the time. … What I’d say to those folks is if you’re looking for a candidate that you’re going to agree with 100 percent of the time, go home and look in the mirror. You’re the only person you’re going to agree with 100 percent of the time…"

AP via the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Christie said he stands by his comments.

"I'm not backing off an inch from what I said. What I said is what I believe," he said.

Given the reaction Christie received back in April when he made these disparaging remarks about Colorado and marijuana legalization–when Republicans and Democrats in this state paused to ridicule the idea that New Jersey's "quality of life" is superior to Colorado's–it's genuinely surprising that Christie didn't soften his stand at least a little. Maybe he calculated that the voters Colorado Republicans are courting this year won't be put off by Christie's unrepentant dissing of the Centennial State, but what he said went far beyond marijuana–"go to Colorado and see if you want to live there," Christie said. Well, as the Herald's Peter Marcus explains:

Colorado ranks seventh for top business states, compared with New Jersey ranking 42nd; Colorado ranks fifth for business and careers, compared with Jersey coming in at 32nd; Colorado ranks second for innovation and entrepreneurship, compared with The Garden State’s ranking at 14; and the Centennial State came in eighth for business climate, compared with 49 for Jersey…

Got it? The governor of New Jersey, a state in the nether reaches of just about every indicator of a healthy economy that exists to rank states by, and who is in the throes of a potentially career-ending political paybacks scandal, thinks Colorado sucks! "This is a much lower turnout of protesters than I normally get," Christie says, like that's a good thing? But since Christie was kind enough to grace our backward state with his presence, he's got a candidate for governor of Colorado he'd like you to consider:

Christie, the chair of the Republican Governor's Association, praised Beauprez and called him "the best chance for change and the best chance for a more positive Colorado." [Pols emphasis]

Like New Jersey, right? It's preposterous, or at least it should be.

How exactly was Christie visiting a good thing for Beauprez and local Republicans? We're not seeing it.

Scandal: Obamacare Forces Insurers To Refund Millions!

obamacareevil

As noted by the Denver Business Journal's Ed Sealover: while the Denver Post's health insurance supersleuth Art Kane continues his ongoing series of one-sided hit pieces "special reports" about the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in Colorado, wherein everything consumers have ever complained about with regard to health care delivery in the United States is laid at the feet of "Obamacare"–health insurers sometimes have billing problems!–consumers are seeing another benefit of the ACA in the form of a check.

Colorado consumers will receive nearly $3 million in refunds from insurance companies that did not spend enough money on patient care last year.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday that nine companies must cut checks to 52,277 customers for a cumulative total of $2,721,701 for violating the medical loss ratio rule established in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The rule requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on patient care and quality-improvement activities or else refund a portion to consumers…

Sealover reports that this year's refunds to Colorado consumers are less than in the first year of Obamacare's "medical loss ratio" rule, which requires health insurance companies to spend 80% of small group and individual premium dollars directly on health care and services to improve care. For large group plans, the requirement is 85%. The lower rebate payout this year can logically be interpreted as compliance.

It's just another example of how the myths surrounding the Affordable Care Act are not being substantiated by voters' experience with the law. Public opinion persistently trends against "Obamacare," even as consumers reap the benefits of individual provisions like the medical loss ratio rule. Millions of consumers are saving big money with subsidized premiums, and for others those subsidies are the different between having insurance and not having insurance. Polling shows that while "Obamacare" is unpopular, the things that the law actually does enjoy broad public support.

We've been saying for years that opposition to the ACA would fall apart once the benefits of the law were generally known by the public, proving once and for all that the horror stories opponents predicted were hogwash. Working against that has been an opposition who clung to this issue well past the point of reason, an effective propaganda dissemination machine untroubled by reality, and a troubled initial rollout of the health insurance exchanges that gave opponents weeks longer to grouse.

But the bottom line hasn't changed. It can't go on forever.

Somebody Throw in the Towel for John Suthers, Cynthia Coffman

Attorney General John Suthers and chief deputy AG Cynthia Coffman.

Colorado AG John Suthers and chief deputy Cynthia Coffman keep marching toward the political abyss.

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers was dealt yet another blow in his ongoing and fruitless quest to defend a same-sex marriage ban in Colorado. From the Denver Post:

Federal and state judges have now declared the law unconstitutional, and Boulder's clerk continues to defy him by issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore rejected Suthers' request to halt proceedings in the case but stayed his decision until 8 a.m. Aug. 25.

That gives Suthers time to appeal Moore's decision to the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals — the same court that found a similar ban in Utah to be unconstitutional less than a month ago.

Moore's ruling marks the fourth time in two weeks that Suthers' efforts have been thwarted by a judge. The attorney general has repeatedly argued that the issuance of licenses continues to stir legal chaos in the state, even though Gov. John Hickenlooper and others have urged him to stop defending the marriage ban.

Lest you might think that Suthers is finally seeing the writing on the wall here, Suthers' office filed yet another appeal with the 10th Circuit less than an hour after yesterday's ruling. As we wrote on Tuesday, Suthers' obsession with defending something that neither the public nor the courts seem to agree with is going to hurt Republican candidates in 2014 — particularly Republican Attorney General candidate Cynthia Coffman, who is Suthers' chief deputy. This entire story is getting even more absurd for Suthers by the day — particularly with news that he has thrown Colorado into another legal challenge over same-sex marriage in Indiana. Really.

From the Indianapolis Star:

The attorneys general of 10 states have joined in Indiana's appeal of a federal judge's ruling that found the state law banning same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

In a filing this week, the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah filed a friend of the court brief alleging it is not the judicial branch's role to determine whether same-sex marriage should be permitted…

…"The only question before the court is whether a rational person can believe that redefining marriage, so as to belittle it to no more than a status symbol or a congratulatory certificate, could damage the institution's longstanding and undisputed role in helping to encourage opposite-sex couples to stay together and raise the children they create" the attorneys general argue. [Pols emphasis]

That sentence above is sadly absurd — rhetoric that is a relic from a much different time in this country. Suthers has been busy filing losing briefs with various courts, so perhaps he hasn't had a chance to check out any of this summer's new TV shows. For example, the reality TV show "Married at First Sight," airing on something called the FYI channel, in which men and women agree to marry each other despite never meeting until the wedding ceremony itself. Because, you know, that doesn't belittle marriage or anything.

We don't see how this ends well for Suthers or Coffman, unless their real goal is to rack up a record number of losses in appeals court. If that's the case, well, good work. Or something.

Coffman is Christie’s ally in saying Colorado going to pot

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Mike Coffman.

Mike Coffman.

It's one thing for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to drop into Colorado and tell us our quality of life is going down the tubes thanks to marijuana legalization.

But it's another for our own elected officials to tell us as much. You recall Rep. Mike Coffman grumped on the KOA radio earlier this year that legal pot may scare giant corporations from coming to Colorado. (Maybe that's a good thing, but that's a topic for another blog post.)

Coffman: “I worry, ‘What about that Fortune 500 corporation that wants to move to Colorado?’ And the chief executive officer has young kids, and to say, ‘Do I want my children exposed to a culture where this is acceptable for adults? And will that influence their behavior as kids?’”

Contrast Coffman's fact-free brain puff with what Christie said in April:

Christie: “For the people who are enamored with the idea … the tax revenue from this, go to Colorado and see if you want to live there."

Coffman is saying Colorado's lifestyle/culture is so diminished by pot that rich people, in particular, may not want to live here.

Coffman stands with Christie.

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