Rep. Ken Buck Gets His ISIS News from the Internet Tubes

So, Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley)…

Yeeaahhhhh.

Today Buck tweeted one of the more ridiculous things we’ve seen in quite awhile. His official Twitter account sent out a headline and link to a story that says “ISIS is operating a camp…just 8 miles from the U.S. border.”

Buck will probably say that he didn’t do this himself (the infamous “rogue staffer” excuse) or that his Twitter account was hacked (a favorite excuse from entertainers), but none of that really matters because the regrettable tweet in question came from his “official” Twitter account. If Rep. Buck does decide to take the blame credit for this re-tweet, he’ll probably say something like, “I thought it was interesting…it’s worth discussing even if it is far-fetched…” etc., but that won’t excuse this one bit.

Ken Buck, U.S. Congressman, just tweeted out a link to a story that says ISIS is operating a camp in Northern Mexico, just a few miles from El Paso, Texas, and that terrorists are being smuggled across the border into New Mexico.

Finger on the button.

Do not press send, Ken.

We should remind you here that Rep. Buck should have access to some fairly decent information about this subject; his official Congressional bio notes that Rep. Buck is a member of Judiciary Subcommittees on Immigration and Border Security and Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations. So, either Buck is grossly under-informed, or he knows damn well that this story is a pile of crap but wants to stir up some fear nonetheless.

It is pretty silly on its own when a right-wing news “article” (The Judicial Watch Blog) reports a ridiculous story and eventually lands (some) credibility when a right-wing “newspaper” (The Washington Times) cites it as a reliable source in a subsequent article. But by Tweeting it out from his official account, Buck gives the story credibility it should not have.

Does anyone honestly believe that ISIS is operating a terrorist camp just outside of El Paso, Texas, and nobody knows except for The Judicial Watch Blog??? (Anyone, that is, aside from State Rep. Kathleen Conti, who is pretty sure that Al Qaeda is operating training camps in Colorado).

Anyway, really cool move, Ken Buck. You are quite the statesman.

New Poll Shows Voters Don’t Like Either Coffman

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

A good 3 out of 4 Colorado voters have no idea who this is (hint: Attorney General Cynthia Coffman).

Okay, that headline is a bit misleading, but that was the point; when you’re 18 months from the next election, you can find anything you want from polling a largely uninformed and indifferent public.

There are a few interesting nuggets in the latest poll results from Quinnipiac University’s dart-throwing public polling outfit, but for the most part, results from a new “swing state” poll feature a bunch of different names and numbers that don’t mean much of anything. Let’s take a look at the new updates from Quinnipiac, shall we?

In an early look at the 2016 U.S. Senate race in Colorado, U.S. Rep. Michael Coffman, a Republican, runs better than his wife, State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, against Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

No shit, Sherlock. Congressman Mike Coffman is in his 26th year as an elected official in Colorado, a career that spans five different offices. His wife, Cynthia Coffman, was just elected Attorney General last November. There are probably still people in the Attorney General’s office who have yet to meet Cynthia — why would the average voter know anything about her?

(more…)

Dems, Common Sense Score Small Victory

drivers-license

AP reports via the Fort Collins Coloradoan on the sort-of agreement between Democrats and Republicans in the legislature to sort-of fund the existing program for driver licenses for undocumented immigrants on Colorado roadways:

A compromise to fund a Colorado program granting driver’s licenses to immigrants regardless of their legal status is heading to the governor’s desk…

The Senate gave unanimous approval to the deal Monday, sending it to Gov. John Hickenlooper. The House had already approved it.

The revenue department initially asked for $166,000 to keep open five offices that handle the licenses, and potentially expand the program. Lawmakers readjusted the request to $66,000, allowing for three offices to be open.

Sen. Kent Lambert using night vision scope on the Mexican border.

Sen. Kent Lambert using night vision scope on the Mexican border.

The dispute over funding this program, in the end, was hurting Republicans politically more than it was helping them. After the Joint Budget Committee Republicans led by strident anti-immigrant Sen. Kent Lambert blocked the funding request for this program, the debate shifted from one of immigration policy to one of functional government. Because the law allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver licenses was already on the books, and Republicans did not have the majority needed to repeal it, starving the program of funds was broadly condemned as improper and out of character for Colorado. By reducing the number of driver license offices that could process these applications to one for the entire state, an intentionally broken process would have resulted. Responsible lawmakers aren’t supposed to do that, even if it seems like the norm in Washington, D.C. these days.

So what you have here is a partial win for Democrats and immigrant rights groups, salvaging something like a functional program, and giving hope that the clear public safety benefits of licensing undocumented immigrants–with the attendant testing and insurance compliance requirements in order to drive legally–can still be achieved. Whoever it was among the Republican legislative leadership who decided to pull the plug on this ill-advised grandstand made a wise but belated decision.

Because it would be a lot better to do that before getting beat up in the press.

Bennet and Post’s Matthews further the “Both Sides Do It” meme again

Sen. Michael Bennet is nothing if not press savvy. Most of his press coverage, it seems to me, has been about the dysfunction and disappointment of the institution he so eagerly joined and not about any accomplishments he’s made while a member.

Not to be distracted by anything substantial he could do between now and his (presumed) attempt at getting reelected in 2016, Bennet has gone on the bipartisan offensive again to mildly criticize his senate peers, to try to seem like he’s doing something productive, and to give more credence to his guiding philosophy that “both sides do it” when it comes to political mis- and malfeasance.

The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews gladly serves up the dish, and helps Cory Gardner not look like a nut at the same time:

On Thursday, Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Cory Gardner plan to introduce legislation that would impose strict rules — including the possibility of arrest — on the Senate anytime one or more federal agencies were thrown into shutdown mode.

It’s a situation that nearly occurred this year with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and one that impacted the entire federal government in October 2013.

Under the Bennet-Gardner bill, the Senate would be forced to take attendance roughly once an hour — every day — between 8 a.m. and midnight for as long as a shutdown continued.

The rationale, said Bennet and Gardner, was to keep lawmakers in town to negotiate.

“If someone’s idea is to grind the government to a halt, then members of Congress ought to be darn well sure they’re finding a solution together,” Gardner said. “You can’t do it by flying home. You can’t do it by going to your respective political corners. You can only do it when you’re here together, at work.”

And Gardner says he doesn’t really want to grind government to a halt as part of the majority party in both houses with just that recent and destructive record. It just kinda happened. So that’s how the Post will portray it.

And what else?

For more than two centuries, the Senate has had the ability to compel attendance, but the Colorado legislators’ bill would make clear that an arrest warrant is the penalty for skipping town during a shutdown. “It’s using existing procedure,” Gardner said. “(But) this procedure is a little bit of a hammer.”

So it uses existing procedure. Anyone who’s watched CSPAN for more than 5 minutes is likely to have heard “I call for a quorom” from someone on the floor of the senate. And because Bennet or Gardner clearly do not want to be accountable for holding their fellow senators accountable, they issue a press release instead and pretend they’ll pass a law to do what they won’t do while they’re standing on the floor. 

It’s a dirty job, but someone should be willing to do it; if they want to be bipartisan so bad, they could take turns!

A showy bill

Without question, the bill is a bit showy.

But both lawmakers said they’ve been working on the legislation for months — and that aides have spent hours with the parliamentarian to ensure they got the rules right.

So admittedly it’s a showy bill. Destined for failure. Not gonna happen. 

But the Denver Post writes it up. And Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner get to be bipartisan while pretending both sides are threatening a government shutdown and both sides are equally responsible for the current dysfunction in our government.

Well, both sides, no, all sides, did it in this case: they perpetuated a lie with some of the most lazy and irresponsible governing and reporting possible. And Michael Bennet gets a headline once again while doing nothing for his stature, and nothing for the people he represents.

Is Michael Bennet part of the New Dem/Elizabeth Warren strike team?

I sure hope our Senior Senator, the Esteemed Michael Bennet, isn't part of this bull:

Centrist Democrats are gathering their forces to fight back against the “Elizabeth Warren wing” of their party, fearing a sharp turn to the left could prove disastrous in the 2016 elections.

[snip]

The New Democrat Coalition (NDC), a caucus of moderate Democrats in the House, plans to unveil an economic policy platform as soon as this week in an attempt to chart a different course.

"I have great respect for Sen. Warren — she's a tremendous leader,” said Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), one of the members working on the policy proposal. “My own preference is to create a message without bashing businesses or workers, [the latter of which] happens on the other side."

Peters said that, if Democrats are going to win back the House and Senate, "it's going to be through the work of the New Democrat Coalition."

This is truly laughable. Or cryable.

And if the abject failure of this continued Democratic Triangulation away from its own natural base is not clear to any of those people, then their competence to address politics in any form is reaching nil.

Gabe Horwitz of centrist Third Way told The Hill, “In the last election, Democrats, as a party, offered a message of fairness. Voters responded, and they responded really negatively … Democrats offered fairness, and voters wanted prosperity and growth.”

Actually, Gabe, most analyses said the Democratic message wasn't. The biggest policy gains that would've helped our losing candidates were ignored and the president who ushered them in was given no credit. A prime example of the failure of Third Way's strategy is our own Mark Udall.

“For Colorado, there are some different dynamics in place. We have a fast-growing state, we have growing Latino, millennials and youth populations. That, together with the right message, should help our nominee. At the same time we are going to be fully cognizant that we have got to appeal to middle-class, working-class voters, and we can’t allow Republicans to increase their share of the vote there. The message has been a little challenging. We really need to be talking about where the two parties are different and focus on the economy in terms of job creation and pocket-book issues.”

This is where Warren comes in, from the Digby post:

The Hill notes that the NDC's policy proposal is aimed at pushing back against a progressive agenda announced last week by Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). The Facebook video of Warren discussing the plan and hammering the unfairness of the current economy for hard-working Americans has received just short of 2 million views.

Hey, that's what Udall and Bennet did in 2010.

Colorado’s two freshman senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, are part of a self-described centrist group of 15 Democrats meeting regularly “seeking to restrain the influence of party liberals in the White House and on Capitol Hill,” according to an account in Roll Call.

The group has a “shared commitment to pursue moderate, mainstream and fiscally sustainable policies across a range of issues, such as health care reform, the housing crisis, educational reform, and energy policy,” according to a statement issued Wednesday by the group.

(I should start getting royalties from that link any day.)

Those results should also speak for themselves. They succeeded in their own short-sighted goal, hamstrung the president from the time he took his first oath, and guaranteed that our economy would be moribund for the next 8 years. Huzzah!

Michael Bennet has remained eerily quiet this whole time, despite his term ending soon and the new campaign beginning – if only in its planning stage. Though he did make sure to deflect the blame for his horrible shot at DSCC Strategist-in-Chief.

And yet the New Democrats, Third Way-ers and Blue Dogs persist, despite red flags everywhere.

Warren speaks to kitchen-table issues in plain English working people understand.

My wife spoke last month with a Fox News-watching brother of a friend. He's white, registered unaffiliated, disenchanted with both parties, and didn't bother to vote in the 2014 mid-terms. Neither party has done anything for the working man for 40 years, he told her. Yet he liked "that woman" who's taking on the big banks. He couldn't name her, but thought it a miracle that she's still alive.

(That's Warren he's talking about.-ed.)

He's a conservative from North Carolina, where Third Way's Kay Hagan — running an Obama-style field campaign, but selling herself as the "most moderate" senator — narrowly lost her U.S. Senate seat to "Typhoid Thom" Tillis.

Centrist Democrats, don't be too proud of that political battle station you're constructing.

Word to the wise. And to the blinkered centrists who think Bipartisanship is the solution and that Republicans will start acting rationally any time soon and can be counted on to complete a triangle of equal policy and political dimensions.

NOT. GONNA. HAPPEN.

Buck’s vote with Boehner screws talk-radio hosts

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

How you like me now?

How you like me now?

In standing with House Speaker John Boehner on Friday to avert the shutdown, albeit temporary, of the Department of Homeland Security, Colorado's new Republican Congressman Ken Buck apparently had second thoughts about his pledge to shut down DHS if necessary to stop Obama from allowing some immigrants to avoid deportation.

Asked by KLZ's Randy Corporon in January whether he would resist "public pressure and media assaults" and refuse to fund DHS along with Obama's immigration program, Buck said, 

Buck: "I can tell you this: Ken Buck will. I will make the case, and I will make sure that we are not funding those portions of his executive action that are so repugnant."

In another interview, delivered to KFKA guest host Nancy Rumfelt in January, Buck pledged stand firm against any moderating winds that might emanate from House Speaker John Boehner:

Buck: “Speaker and the leadership team know that they cannot count on me when they move to the middle, that I will be voting against leadership’s efforts in certain areas, especially is true when it comes to the fiscal issues, the appropriations bills and the regulatory issues. And I include Obamacare in that. But absolutely. The people in the 4th Congressional District can count on Ken Buck to be with the conservative votes when it comes to the bills that are coming up in the future.” 

Colorado Springs' Doug Lamborn did what Buck said he'd do, when Lamborn voted against temporary funds for DHS.

Lamborn: “I cannot support funding, even for a short period of time, the President’s unlawful executive action that violates the Constitution,” Lamborn said in a statement, reported by The Denver Post.

BREAKING: House Fails to Support DHS Funding as Deadline Looms; Now What?

SATURDAY UPDATE: Congress passes one-week extension of DHS funding last night setting up a fresh battle for next week, while the immediate story continues to revolve around House Speaker John Boehner's crushing defeat at the hands of conservative House Republicans. Politico:

The vote was 357-60. The Senate approved the stopgap measure earlier Friday evening and it was signed by President Barack Obama minutes before the midnight deadline when the department’s funding was to expire.

The 11th-hour move came after dozens of House Republicans dealt a humiliating defeat to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders. Conservatives teamed up with Democrats to shoot down a Boehner-backed measure that would have funded DHS for three weeks.

Boehner’s allies are concerned after Friday’s setback that his critics inside the Republican Conference may try to oust him as speaker if — as expected — he puts a long-term DHS funding bill on the House floor next week. While Boehner shrugs off such speculation, close friends believe such a move is a real possibility.

Are these the final days of Boehner's speakership? Is the GOP-controlled House totally incapable of carrying out basic responsibilities? All these questions and more will be answered next week! Stay tuned as the embarrassing spectacle that is the 114th Congress continues after a word from our sponsor.

—–

UPDATE #3: Via the Associated Press: "You have made a mess," [Rep. Nancy] Pelosi said to Republicans as debate neared an end on the measure.

—–

UPDATE #2: Twitter is abuzz. Republicans have the largest Congressional majorities since the New Deal…they just can't govern.

Plan B? Looks like Plan B is for Republicans to get slaughtered in 2016.

 

—–

UPDATE: Click here to see the voting live on the House floor.

—–

It appears as though House Republicans may not pass legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in time for the midnight deadline tonight. Voting is happening as we type — we'll update when the final tally is available.

Here's what the Washington Post wrote a few hours ago, when it still seemed as though Republicans would do something in the House.

House Republicans are hoping to pass a stopgap funding bill Friday that would avert a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security at midnight, as the Senate passed its own bill that would fund the agency through September.

The House GOP plan is a fallback proposal Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) put forth to rank-and-file members in a Thursday meeting. He did so because a House-passed funding bill that takes aim at President Obama’s executive actions on immigration has been blocked in the Senate.

The new measure would fund DHS for three more weeks. If approved by Congress, it would continue a standoff between the House and the Senate over more lasting agency funding. The Senate bill to fund DHS through September that would not touch Obama’s immigration directives passed on a 68-31 vote Friday morning.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Feb. 27)

MoreSmarterLogo-Hat1

The dress is definitely bluish-brown. 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).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Today is the deadline for Congress to authorize funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), so what should we expect of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner? If you guessed, "punt the issue for three more weeks," you win the door prize. But as Politico reports, Republicans are merely delaying an answer on a budget problem that is about to get much, much worse:

First the good news: Congress appears to have found a way to avoid a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security for the next three weeks.

Now the bad: March is beginning to look awfully grim for the new Republican Congress that had lofty expectations for legislating in 2015.

GOP leaders appear set to win approval of their short-term solution to the DHS impasse on Friday, hours before the money runs dry. But that will leave the House and Senate just three weeks to bridge their fundamental differences on funding the department for the long term and blocking President Barack Obama’s changes to the enforcement of immigration policy.

On top of that, Congress must update a complicated Medicare reimbursement formula for doctors. And it needs to pass a budget.

This is where we remind you, again, that REPUBLICANS HAVE MAJORITY CONTROL IN CONGRESS and they still can't figure out how to govern.

Mr. Spock is dead.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

 

(more…)

John Boehner is Losing It

UPDATE: It's been animated, because of course:

boehnerkiss

Sorry, folks. It can't be unseen now.

—–

Via NBC News, here's House Speaker John Boehner blowing kisses at a reporter who asks a question about funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Watch the video:

Get More Smarter on Thursday (Feb. 26)

MoreSmarterLogo-Hat1

We've installed fresh batteries in the Colorado Pols Quadruple Doppler (with cheese), which is predicting as much as 10 feet of snow today. Or maybe less. 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).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► With one day left to authorize funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Colorado's Congressional delegation remains divided on how to move forward — no surprise, perhaps, given that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner can't even work things out inside their Republican majority. And what about freshman Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)? Here's Mark Matthews of the Denver Post:

Less clear was the stance of newly elected U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. The Colorado Republican did not agree to an interview. Instead, his office released a statement that spoke less to a legislative solution and more to the actions of Democrats. "Senate Democrats are playing politics with our national security. It's wrong, and they should stop," he said in a statement. [Pols emphasis]

Once again, we remind you that REPUBLICANS HAVE MAJORITY CONTROL IN CONGRESS. Blaming Democrats for this one is like saying it's John Hickenlooper's fault that the Denver Broncos didn't win the Super Bowl. There's no way out of this mess for Republicans now.

Chris Cilizza of the Washington Post explains how Republicans got into this DHS funding mess in the first place.

► The Colorado legislature took a Snow Day on Monday because of poor road conditions, but not again today; there's plenty of legislatin' going on under the Golden Dome of the State Capitol.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Yes, Bennet’s Keystone XL Triangulation Is Stupid

Sen. Michael Bennet

Sen. Michael Bennet

This week, President Barack Obama vetoed a bill passed by the GOP-controlled House and Senate to expedite construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. This legislation would have short-circuited an ongoing State Department review of the project, and trumped court proceedings in the state of Nebraska over the legality of eminent domain takings to build the route. Obama had repeatedly threatened to veto the bill, and the administration has become increasingly ambivalent about the Keystone XL project overall as global oil prices have plummeted, domestic oil production has surged, and grassroots opponents have waged a highly effective publicity campaign.

As we've discussed in this space many times, the case to build Keystone XL, even years ago when these intervening pressures weren't yet a factor, has been consistently overhyped by its proponents. Last year, Cory Gardner insisted on the campaign trail that Keystone would result in "thousands of Colorado jobs," a number that was inflated somewhere in the neighborhood of 100%. The truth is, Keystone XL won't enter the state of Colorado, won't produce a significant number of jobs in our state, won't produce more than a few dozen permanent jobs anywhere once the pipeline is built, and will result in an increase in local gas prices due to the routing of Canadian oil supplies to Gulf Coast export terminals. Even ardently pro-oil Gov. John Hickenlooper agrees with Obama's decision to veto the bill.

With these facts once again established for the record, 9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman reports:

They come from different political parties, but Colorado's US Senators both voted for legislation to authorize building of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner both also confirm to 9NEWS they will vote for a veto override, which is being planned by majority leader Mitch McConnell.

That Sen. Michael Bennet planned to vote for the Keystone XL pipeline was never in question. He's voted for it before, including late last year during ex-Sen. Mary Landrieu's desperate attempt to get Keystone XL passed during her runoff election campaign. Bennet says he thinks Keystone should be "part of a bigger solution" to climate change, a statement that we'll admit makes very little sense to us.

But voting to override the President's veto makes even less sense. Politically, this doesn't win Bennet any supporters who would actually support him against a viable Republican. But worse, Bennet's unapologetic thumbing of his nose at Keystone XL opponents further drives an emerging wedge within the Democratic coalition in Colorado. Even if he got a green light from the White House to vote this way since the override has no real chance of succeeding, this is insult added to injury for Bennet's Democratic base–and has no political upside that we can see.

Though assailed by the GOP as a monolithic party of anti-energy environmentalists, the uneasy truce among Colorado Democrats over support for the oil and gas industry is in fact extremely fragile. Too many Democrats at high levels have convinced themselves that they can openly triangulate on the issue, and keep the Democratic coalition that has mostly dominated elections in this state since 2004 together.

Our response, delivered with increasing urgency: there's a limit.

Senate Close to DHS Budget Deal; Republicans are Screwed

kenbuckonthebutton

Republican Rep. Ken Buck is probably a little less enthusiastic about pressing these buttons this week.

As Politico reports:

The Senate is moving quickly to break a weekslong impasse that has threatened funding for the Department of Homeland Security and paralyzed the Capitol, putting pressure on House Speaker John Boehner on the brink of a shutdown of the national security agency.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid announced Wednesday afternoon that they would move forward on a “clean” $39.7 billion DHS-funding bill — free of provisions targeting President Barack Obama’s immigration policies. McConnell agreed to relent after Reid’s caucus filibustered a House-passed bill on four separate occasions, demanding that Republicans strip the immigration provisions or risk a shutdown of the department.

The Senate voted 98-2 to open debate on the House bill, setting the stage for a last-ditch scramble for Congress to act before DHS funding expires on Friday.

Politically-speaking, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell basically just punted the ball back to House Speaker John Boehner. The story of this funding bill has largely been about dissention among Republicans than about anything Democrats have proposed, and it's hard to see any scenario where the GOP doesn't lose on this one. The House can hold firm on Tea Party principles and refuse the Senate version, but if they do that and refuse to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for political reasons related to immigration reform, they will hand Democrats the undisputed title of "Party that gets to say it cares more about protecting Americans from terrorism."

And for what? It's not like Congress is just going to stop funding for DHS forever. Republicans have majority control of both chambers of Congress, which limits the number of fingers they can point, and even trying to toss this onto President Obama's shoulders isn't going to save them; Obama is in his seventh year in office and his approval ratings are starting to rise as he nears the end of his stay in the White House.

Whatever happens, this isn't going to end well for Republicans. The only question yet to be answered is this: Just how bad will it get for the GOP?

DeGette Skipping Bibi Netanyahu’s Speech

Benjamin Netanyahu.

Benjamin Netanyahu.

Controversy is building in Washington over an address to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled for March 3rd–just weeks before Israeli elections, and not invited by President Barack Obama as a breach of diplomatic protocol. Netanyahu's address, pertaining to negotiations with Iran over that country's nuclear program, is controversial in Israel for the same reason, with a majority of Israeli voters saying the speech should be cancelled. Reuters:

The speech has caused controversy in Israel and the United States, where the Democrats and the White House are angry that the Republican speaker, John Boehner, invited Netanyahu to speak at a sensitive time in the nuclear negotiations between Iran and six big powers including Washington, and only two weeks before Israel's closely fought March 17 election.

Following complaints from opposition parties, election chief Salim Joubran decided that Netanyahu's address should be broadcast with a five-minute delay in Israel, giving news editors time to cut any statements deemed partisan…

President Barack Obama, at odds with Netanyahu over the Israeli prime minister's criticism of the nuclear talks, will not meet him during his visit, saying it is a breach of protocol to receive a foreign leader before an election.

As of now, most members of Colorado's delegation reportedly plan to attend Netanyahu's speech, including all the Republicans, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet, and Rep. Jared Polis. Rep. Ed Perlmutter hasn't made a public announcement yet. The one Colorado representative who has said she will not attend Netanyahu's speech is…well, we just gave it away, it's Rep. Diana DeGette. Rep. DeGette has a scheduling conflict on March 3rd:

Congresswoman DeGette will not be able to attend Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech. She has had a long-standing scheduling commitment that morning to address a clinical research group about her 21st Century Cures initiative, and we just learned this morning that the Prime Minister’s speech is scheduled for 11:00, which creates a conflict for her.

Other than a highly one-sided report in the Boulder Jewish News, DeGette's decision to not attend Netanyahu's address hasn't received much press. We expect that will change as long as the speech isn't cancelled, that others will be given many chances to comment, and that Rep. Perlmutter's decision whether or not to attend will be closely watched. It's a longstanding presumption in American politics that categorical public support for Israel is mandatory for any real political viability. The problem with this address to a Republican-dominated Congress is that Netanyahu is making a partisan issue out of something that historically hasn't been. And it's forcing a conflict of loyalties that American supporters of Israel haven't been made to reckon with.

In Israel, Netanyahu has been roundly criticized even by some of his right-wing allies, mostly for appearing to put his ties to the Republican Party ahead of the close relationship Israel has always had with the United States. [Pols emphasis]

It should be noted that attending a speech is not the same thing as agreeing with it. But insofar as Netanyahu is involving Colorado politicians in Israeli domestic politics without their consent, we're obliged to point out that not every friend of Israel is a Likudnik.

Or, for that matter, a Republican.

Hillary/Bennet 2016: Possibility or Joke?

For a relative latecomer to politics, Michael Bennet sure has led a charmed life. Prior to politics he was a Big Money guy working for one of Colorado's leading Conservatives. Then…

As one of President Barack Obama's early advisers on education issues, Bennet was speculated in late 2008 as a frontrunner for Obama's United States Secretary of Education. He was instead appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Ken Salazar when Salazar became Secretary of the Interior in January 2009. Bennet was elected in the 2010 Senate election where he defeated Republican Ken Buck.

Michael Bennet is now serving his first full term and would be up for reelection in 2016.

Though he is fairly new to public elective office, he has proven to be a consummate insider and competent press manipulator. He played an effective, yet widely criticized role, in the early machinations that led to a Public Option-less Obamacare. He had to lift nothing besides a well timed press release in that effort. Bennet's latest political responsibility has been deemed a failure by many.

As Chairman of the DSCC for this last election cycle, Bennet led Senate Democrats into a historic minority and proved useless in electing his Democratic peer, former Senator Mark Udall. But he was still able to get some favorable press immediately after the losing election.

And the charmed life, or at least the favorable press, continued yesterday as Bennet got a top mention as a Veep possibility for the almost pre-ordained Hillary Clinton presidency:

The potential opposition is so weak that Clinton might wind up not even debating during the primaries, which many Democrats view as a mixed blessing.

Some advisers expect a push for diversity on the ticket. So the shortlist also is expected to include Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and perhaps California Attorney General Kamala Harris, who is running for U.S. Senate.The Clinton team knows it can’t campaign with the swagger of a presumptive nominee because the air of inevitability was so damaging last time around. That said, some advisers are already privately talking up potential running mates, with Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado and Tim Kaine of Virginia dominating the early speculation.

Despite the internal confidence, Clinton won’t enter without substantial concerns and obstacles, some of which are self-evident to her top advisers and are a subject of constant conversation among Democrats during the build-up phase.

The Democratic Party, and its leaders, are going through some public soul-searching after all this electoral excitement. The big, and probably only, question for me is whether Democrats will continue their love affair with Big Money at the expense of The Middle Class or will they start giving priority to those who helped America's economy become the titan it is – the true Job Creators.

Senators like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are clearly on the side of The Middle Class. 

Michael Bennet has been eerily silent since the election. He's surely playing it safe and hoping not to kill any of this flattering VP talk. But his history and his path don't tell of someone who has the same concern for those in the middle of our economy as he does for those at the top of the heap who are on his Favorites list. Can he even contemplate the policies being proposed by Sanders and Warren? Would he dare support any of them?

Michael Bennet, and his benefactors, are going to have to make a critical choice soon about continuing that decades-long affair with 1%-er Democrats at the expense of a declining Middle Class. Those Middle Classers can't afford big campaign donations, and have been less than enthusiastic about voting for a class of Democratic politicians who think they have no where else to go on election day. But even though they don't have the money, they've freely given their votes to Democrats without asking too much in return.

That ask is getting bigger lately, and elected Democrats will have to come up with satisfactory answers that address rising inequality, the effects of austerity on the world's economies, and the base assumptions about who our economy should protect and serve. Those answers need to come sooner, rather than later, and should spell out how the richest among us can start paying their fair share again while taking the load off the hardest working Middle Class on the planet. No joke.

Have We Mentioned That Kent Lambert Doesn’t Like Immigrants?

Sen. Kent Lambert using night vision scope on the Mexican border.

Sen. Kent Lambert using night vision scope to “patrol” the Mexican border.

The Colorado Statesman's Marianne Goodland reports on a bill sponsored by Sen. Kent Lambert of Colorado Springs that's more than meets the eye:

The new chair of the Joint Budget Committee has stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest with a bill that would radically change the mission and admission standards for Metropolitan State University of Denver. And it’s not a change that they sought.

Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, is the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 15-072, which would change Metro’s admissions standards from “modified open” to “moderately selective.”

The state has five standards for granting admissions to its public colleges and universities. Metro currently falls under “modified open,” which means any applicant age 20 or older can be admitted with a high school diploma or GED. Those under 20 must meet additional criteria. Metro is the only higher education institution in the state with modified open standards…

As of press time, Metro officials and Lambert had not yet met about the bill.

MetroStateLogoWeb-304

Kind of strange, don't you think? Why would Sen. Lambert introduce a bill making such a major change to the admissions criteria for one of the state's largest public colleges without even meeting with them?

That's simple enough–Metro State does not support the bill.

Metro spokesperson Cathy Lucas said that Metro was not looking to change to their admissions standards. Initial data from the university shows that about 1,200 students would be affected by the admissions change. That would include 432 students of color…

Metro State serves a key role in Colorado's range of public higher education offerings as what's known as a "college of opportunity"–a chance for returning adult and otherwise "nontraditional students" to obtain a full four-year college degree without the same high admission standards prevalent at most four-year schools. As a consequence, Metro State has a lower graduation rate than many other four-year schools, but that is considered acceptable in pursuit of the school's mission of making a full college education available to everyone.

So why would Lambert want to change Metro State's "college of opportunity" model? As we discussed last week, Lambert is one of the Colorado legislature's most strident anti-immigrant lawmakers. Lambert has taken "fact finding trips" to the Arizona border to meet with anti-immigration extremists like border militiaman Chris Simcox, and ex-Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce of SB-1070 infamy. Metro State was a major advocate of the ASSET legislation passed in 2013 allowing undocumented students who graduate from Colorado high schools to attend college with affordable tuition, and the largest share of ASSET students are students of Metro State. As you can imagine, this did not make Lambert a very happy anti-immigrant lawmaker.

And basically, Kent Lambert is now looking to screw with Metro State. It's important to know this backstory, lest anyone think Lambert's bill is some kind of altruistic pursuit of better educational standards. Be assured, its not.