Neville Gleefully Stokes The Fear on Syrian Refugees


A fundraising email appeal from 2016 U.S. Senate candidate and Colorado Sen. Tim Neville yesterday pulls out all the proverbial stops, invoking the prospect of Syrian refugees coming to Colorado as an invitation to an attack on Mile High Stadium (see photo above)–now with an angry President Barack Obama Photoshopped in leading the ISIS terrorists on! Argumentum in terrorem is the order of the day:

Governor Hickenlooper refuses to back down from his plans to bring Barack Obama’s potentially dangerous Syrian “refugees” to Colorado.

An unsecured border and unvetted Syrian “refugees” threaten the safety and security of Colorado’s families…

I’m under fire for daring to stand up to Barack Obama and Governor Hickenlooper.

In fact, ProgressNow — one of the largest left-wing organizations in Colorado — called me the “most dangerous politician in America” because I represent the “no-compromise, take-no-prisoners wing of the Republican Party.”

But the real reason they’re attacking me is because I’ve taken on an entrenched Democrat in a purple district before — and won.

They know I’m the Republican with the best chance to DEFEAT Michael Bennet in November 2016.

They fear me the most.

That last part is a bit confusing, since we were under the impression it was the refugees–excuse us, “refugees”–we were supposed to be afraid of? However you may feel about this message qualitatively, and we know many readers will find it thoroughly contemptible, certainly it would be a mistake to underestimate it in the context of the Republican U.S. Senate primary Tim Neville is running in today.

By most estimates the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris has been very good for Republican presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump’s campaign. Marco Rubio actually said Sunday before sort-of-but-not-really backpedaling Monday that the Paris attacks were a “positive development” if they placed Americans in an appropriately fearful psychological condition. Last year on the campaign trail, now-Sen. Cory Gardner freely exploited xenophobic fears and ignorance from ISIS to Ebola.

So yes, love it or hate it, Tim Neville knows exactly what he’s doing.

Climate Change: Its What’s for Dinner

Norman Rockwell painted a scene of a fictionalized Thanksgiving that still haunts hostesses and hosts to this day.

By now most people are aware that the history that brings us Thanksgiving is not all as sanguine as we may have been led to believe. The subtext of conquest is bitter to swallow for many.

And abundance itself can devolve to gluttony and greed – stampeding consumerism no longer contained to the immediate Black Friday aftermath even, but invading the holiday itself.

So don’t blame me for ruining the day to raise another issue we can fret over even as we count our blessings otherwise – and that is climate change. Specifically what that clear and present climate crisis means for the food system and food security.

As you slather butter on squash and pile high your pie, you might consider that food systems are among the most vulnerable to climate change.  At risk from drought and wildlife, floods and landslides, threatened by declining pollinators and expanding pests, burdened by crashing fisheries. Of the systems that sustain humanity, how we produce and find the food we eat may be the most in jeopardy.

The point with all this isn’t to ruin the feast but to provide a morsel to chew on as the tryptophan kicks in. And may there be many more days of too much deliciousness in your life. But if we care about feeding ourselves and each other we ought to care about climate change and what we can do about it.

Recently I helped convene a group of growers, food advocates, climate crusaders, and local heroes in a series of gatherings and events around local food security and climate change, as reported in High Country News and KVNF community radio.

Pete Kolbenschlag, the organizer of the Paonia panel discussion, knows that food security affects everyone. “If you care about what’s on your plate, and you care about feeding other people and the planet, then we need to care about climate change, because climate change is going to affect our food supply,” he says.

The purpose was to consider what climate change means for agriculture and rural communities on the Western Slope and how we could begin to work collaboratively to address it.

Generally western Colorado is vulnerable to increased periods of drought and extreme precipitation, a snowpack that melts earlier and warmer winters, with freezes into May likely to remain a fact on the elevated slopes on the western flanks of the Rocky Mountains.

Warm winters result in early blooms on fruit trees that are then at risk to late snow and spring frosts.

Accepting some problems such as increased incidences of early bloom coupled with late April freeze, which is a real problem for the fruit producers where I live for instance, will be part of living with a changing climate.

And climate change means several things more broadly for farming and food security in Colorado as well, including:

*Adapting our farming and food systems to a changing climate will be necessary: to create more climate resilience into the design, crop selection, and techniques; and to make wise water use and management, a top priority in all aspects of growing and producing food.

*Adopting better practices in agriculture and in food system, to reduce greenhouse gas contributions – from eating less meat to utilizing techniques that enhances local carbon capture.

*Accelerating the transition to cleaner energy sources and more local power production in agricultural and food production.

Food security and the threats looming to it from climate change is an issue of global significance.  It also matters for us here at home.  And meeting the challenges that climate change poses for Colorado’s food system will take national and state commitment, as well as local action.

Homegrown approaches for rural communities and others that can help us adapt our food system to address climate change,  from sharing local clean energy capacity and installations (‘solar barn-raisings’) to expanding local food networks.

There is tangible value in gratitude. And for most of us there are things for which we are rightfully thankful. Considering these things helps cultivate a positive attitude.

We can be thankful we are removed from troubling global events we see, perhaps. We may be thankful we are not fleeing a war torn cluster of other powers’ making.

But even these situations have roots not only in political upheaval, like in Syria and Iraq, but also in basic needs that are going unmet. The fact is we are all connected. Global security is connected to food supply. And that supply is being directly impacted from climate change.

A stock Thanksgiving meal set unlike any that I have personally experienced, yet with several classic elements.

So if you are fortunate enough to be able to look with thanks upon your table this season, do take time to think about the world beyond your circle. Remember your family and friends that aren’t there. Include the farmers and winemakers, the workers and craft that brings bounty to you.

But also thank Governor Hickenlooper for defending the Clean Power Plan and Senator Bennet for supporting it against Republican rollbacks in the Senate. One little bite at a time, and some perseverance, and we can make a real difference.

Maybe say a little prayer for peace. But also send it to the world’s leaders heading to Paris this week. Ask that they keep the wisdom that reminds: the smart ruler fills bellies while the harvest of an army is a waste of thorns.

If we want peace, we need security. And if we want security then people need to be secure in their food supplies. And to ensure people have full bellies, and secure food supplies, political leaders need to Act on Climate. It really is as simple as the food on our plate.

Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff: Seal Off Colorado?

We’ve seen plenty of reactions from Colorado politicians to the Paris terrorist attacks and subsequent controversy over allowing Syrian refugees into the United States, but this (we hope) ill-thought-out Facebook stream of consciousness from GOP Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff of Pueblo stands apart from even the “usual” crazy talkers like Tom Tancredo and Sen. Laura Waters Woods:



So, uh, did Rep. Navarro-Ratzlaff misspeak here some way, or does she really think we need to “pause on letting anyone into Colorado?” When she says we need to “pause on letting anyone into Colorado,” does this mean refugees? Immigrants? Californians?


That’s the problem with sweeping statements in the era of “Tea Party” crazy talk. They might actually mean it.

Tipton promoting apparent misinformation that Paris attacker had “Syrian refugee passport”

(Rumor doesn’t have it – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

On Facebook Monday, Rep. Scott Tipton posted the apparent misinformation that “one of the bombers involved in the Paris attacks had a Syrian refugee passport.”

This is almost certainly wrong, apparently a so-called false flag, yet the statement remains on Tipton’s official Facebook page.

Newsweek reported: “Serbian officials told The Guardian that they think both the passport found in Paris and on the man they arrested are fake. A source investigating the case told the AFP that the passport belongs to a Syrian soldier who was killed earlier this year. Officials have not made any public statements on the passport confirming or denying its authenticity.”

Tipton on Facebook: The risks posed to our national security by admitting tens of thousands of refugees from a war-torn region that is currently the global hotbed for terrorist activity are very real. The U.S. should immediately stop accepting Syrian refugees…

While most of these people are innocent and victims themselves, all it takes is one ISIS terrorist posing as an asylum seeker to come to the United States and inflict harm…

Given that at least one of the bombers involved in the Paris attacks had a Syrian refugee passport, the threat is very real and the risk is high. [BigMedia emphasis]

Tipton’s post incited these ugly comments, which is another reason he should remove it ASAP.

Esther Scaman: Keep up the good work Scott! Keep all those bastards out of our country! I say pack n carry at all times! And for those opposing you I’ll thank you for them since they are like their president putting America in harms way and won’t accept the truth if it slapped them in the face!!!

Patricia R. Lang: Much like it was in Viet Nam, one can not tell the refugee from the terrorist bent on destroying our country and our way of life. It is sad but all Syrian refugees much be stopped from entering the United States of America

Tipton was on KVOR’s Richard Randall show Tuesday, talking about this topic, but he did not refer to the Syrian passport. Another guest on the show, Andy Pico, a GOP Colorado Springs City Councilman, spread the same apparent falsehood that the Paris attacker was a Syrian refugee. (Listen here.)

Pico, along with Tipton, should walk this comment back in some public venue–because it poisons reasonable debate about the refugees. And reasonableness regarding poor Syrian refugees is under severe attack.

A Colorado governor who fought bigotry–and won in the end

(Past is prologue – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Gov. Ralph Carr (R-CO).

Gov. Ralph Carr (R-CO).

During WWII, the U.S. government forced Japanese Americans  from their homes on the West Coast and moved them to interior states. Kansas Gov. Payne Ratner, reflected the opinions of many governors when she responded at the time with, “Japs are not wanted and not welcome in Kansas.”

With at least 22 Republican governors saying they’ll try to keep Syrian refugees out of their states, Denver University’s Seth Masket wrote a blog post yeserday reminding us of this and pointing out that Colorado Governor Ralph Carr “stood out” among his fellow governors at the time and declared that the forced relocation of the Japanese Americans under Executive Order 9066 was unconstitutional. He also welcomed them to Colorado.

Masket didn’t mention Hickenlooper, who has welcomed Syrian refugees, but the loose parallel between the two Colorado governors isn’t lost on anyone reading Masket’s post, titled “The governor who didn’t give in to fear … and paid a price for it.

Masket: “Obviously, the relocation of American citizens of Japanese ancestry is not the same as accepting refugees from another country,” writes Masket, who’s an Associate Professor of Political Science at DU. “But there are clear parallels, particularly in the political incentives governors are confronting. It’s not just that it’s easy to demagogue against foreign invaders; it’s that it’s sometimes politically risky not to. The governors refusing to take in Syrian refugees today may or may not know Ralph Carr’s name, but they have surely imagined his fate, and they don’t want the same for themselves.” [BigMedia emphasis]

Masket cites the Principled Politician, former 9News reporter Adam Schrager’s much-acclaimed biography of Carr. The book shows the respect Carr has now, in hindsight, even though his stance during WWII ended his political career.


Stay Classy, Tom Tancredo: Blame “Diversity” For Paris Edition

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports today:

Tancredo, a Republican who has long fought for tougher immigration standards, said he was glad to “start a conversation” about the risks of allowing Syrian refugees into the United States.

“I’m referring to the fact that this tragedy (in Paris), this horror, is something you cannot contain to one country is you don’t do something meaningful about immigration — a subject I’ve been involved in for some time — these are the kinds of things that result when you don’t protect your citizens,” he told The Denver Post.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was not amused.

“That’s beyond comment,” he said, dropping his shoulders after seeing the meme during a stop at The Post. “Come on.” [Pols emphasis]


As posted to former Congressman, gubernatorial candidate, and most recently “Coffmangate” co-conspirator Tom Tancredo’s Facebook page a short while ago:


For the record, this isn’t the original image. We’ve digitally obscured what appear to be a number of dead bodies and streaks of blood in the highly gruesome unedited photo Tancredo posted. The photo appears to be the interior of the Bataclan Theater in Paris, France after the terrorist attacks last Friday. The caption on the photo, “Celebrating Diversity One Massacre At A Time,” may or may not have been added by Tancredo personally, but clearly that’s the message he endorses.

We’re pretty sure the original photo violates Facebook’s terms of service, so we wouldn’t be surprised if it disappears at some point soon. But as much as he frequently embarrasses his erstwhile fellow Republicans, Tancredo has a considerable following on the anti-immigrant right–and his views are representative of enough of the conservative movement that he can’t simply be ignored.

And folks, sometimes that is a damned shameful fact.

Profiles In Courage: Hickenlooper Welcomes Syrian Refugees

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

As the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports:

So far more than a dozen governors, most of them Republicans, have said they want to close their state borders to refugees from Syria. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe both, Democrats, however, have said their states will continue accepting refugees.

Colorado Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton said in a statement today he wants to stop refugees from Syria from entering the United States.

President Barack Obama said the United States would continue to accept refugees and called efforts to screen those fleeing Syria based on their religion “shameful.”

In September, Colorado “was preparing to help” as refugees left Syria and other countries in the Middle East, according to CBS Denver.

In a statement today, Gov. John Hickenlooper makes it clear that nothing has changed:

“A few short days ago we witnessed another senseless act of terrorism. Our hearts go out to the families, friends and loved ones of those lost and injured in Paris, and in other acts of terror around the world. Our first priority remains the safety of our residents. We will work with the federal government and Homeland Security to ensure the national verification processes for refugees are as stringent as possible. We can protect our security and provide a place where the world’s most vulnerable can rebuild their lives.” [Pols emphasis]

As the American Civil Liberties Union notes, the knee-jerk response from some Republican governors against taking in refugees from the war in Syria is, in addition to optically quite troubling, most likely not legal:

For our part, we’re reminded of the example of another governor of Colorado, Gov. Ralph Carr, who in the early days of World War II urged the people of Colorado to welcome and respect Japanese-Americans being transported here by the federal government away from the West Coast. Carr paid for his foresight and equanimity with his political career, but is today remembered as one of our state’s best governors.

Today, Gov. Hickenlooper has spoken out in the finest traditions of a state that has witnessed both great compassion and great intolerance in our history. He deserves not just the gratitude of future Colorado citizens with the benefit of hindsight, but to be heeded now as a voice of reason in difficult times.

Good on you, Governor.

Rubio Immigration Tap-Dance Leaves Coffman Stumbling

THURSDAY UPDATE: MSNBC’s Steve Benen talks more about the trouble facing Marco Rubio–and also Mike Coffman:

“In my view, if Republicans nominate for president a candidate who supports amnesty,” Cruz added, ‘we will have given up one of the major distinctions with Hillary Clinton and we will lose the general election – that is a path to losing.”

In fairness to Rubio, it’s worth emphasizing that he dramatically flip-flopped on the immigration issue, betrayed his former allies, and now rejects the very proposals he helped write just two years ago. Maybe that will satisfy Republican voters, maybe not…

Keep in mind, this isn’t just some peripheral issue for many conservatives. A far-right, hard-line stance on immigration is for the Republican base what support for Social Security is for many Democrats – a stance the base simply expects as a commitment to party orthodoxy.

Although Coffman’s hard-line pre-redistricting positions on immigration were a polar opposite to Rubio’s former moderate position, it’s striking how the flip-flopping in both directions on the issue has exposed both men’s vulnerabilities. Coffman’s job of appearing moderate on immigration, while not going so far as to upset his Republican base of support in a swing district, is really not all that different from Rubio laboring to appease the GOP base on an issue he has already “sold them out” on once before.

In both cases voters, albeit different voters, are being asked to swallow big camels and strain gnats–and it may well end with nobody trusting either of them. Original post follows.


Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

NPR’s Steve Inskeep reports on the continuing “evolution” of Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s position on immigration reform, which has “evolved” even further in the last 24 hours:

Sen. Marco Rubio clarified his view on the 11 million immigrants, who are in the United States illegally. The day after a presidential debate, which exposed a continuing divide in the Republican Party on immigration, Rubio told NPR on Wednesday that he favors a path to citizenship for some, though the prospect would be very distant.

“If you haven’t been here very long, or you’re a criminal, you will be deported,” Rubio told NPR’s Morning Edition. “Otherwise, you will have to come forward, pass the background check, learn English, pay a fine, because you violated the law, start paying taxes, and you’ll get a work permit. And that’s all you’re going to have for at least a decade.”

Rubio went a step further. “After 10 years on the work permit, I personally am open to — after the 10 years have expired — to allowing people to apply for a green card, just through the normal process that anyone else would use.”

That means Rubio still broadly backs one of the most hotly debated portions of a 2013 immigration bill that passed the Senate overwhelmingly but could not get through the Republican-controlled House. Rubio helped author the legislation, but later dismissed it as politically unsustainable.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Rubio’s position on immigration reform has been a famously moving target since 2013, when an immigration reform bill he hammered out with input from both sides of the U.S. Senate was pronounced DOA in the Republican-controlled House. In the face of furious objections from the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party, Rubio abandoned the legislation he had previously worked to pass. On the campaign trail as a Republican presidential candidate, Rubio has tried hard to keep up with his opponents’ free-wheeling demagoguery of immigrants while keeping the door open to moderating on the issue for a general election audience Etch-a-Sketch style.

That’s how you get Rubio telling NPR today that he would keep some kind of path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants open, even as he says he would close down President Barack Obama’s DACA program meant to protect thousands of childhood-arrival immigrants from deportation. To be honest, we don’t see how Rubio is going to be able to keep these contradictions from breaking down eventually. But with Rubio trying to position himself as the alternative to the Trump/Carson sideshow that’s presently dominating the Republican primary, he needs to be able to say something.

The real loser in this back-and-forth may not be Rubio, but swing Republicans like Rep. Mike Coffman–who have been dancing between the GOP base’s hard line on immigration, and the needs of a diverse constituency that includes a large immigrant population with and without documentation. Even Coffman’s recent “moderated” opinion on immigration doesn’t go nearly as far as Rubio says today he would. In 2010, Coffman said flat-out that the DREAM Act “would be a nightmare for the American people.” Coffman’s most recent statements about undocumented students and/or military eligible recruits are best described as purposefully confusing, but Coffman certainly has not come out in favor of a path to citizenship for undocumented adults–even a “very long path.”

Up to now, Coffman has been able to use Rubio’s immigration reform bill, more to the point its death, as a means to obfuscate his shifting position on a very delicate issue. The trouble now is that Rubio is under a harsher spotlight then ever before as a presidential candidate, and is going to be forced to spell out clearly once and for all what his agenda on immigration actually is.

And that’s going to leave Mike Coffman with no place to hide.

Robert Blaha Getting Serious About Senate Bid, Hiring Staff

Robert Blaha

Robert Blaha

If you’ve been wondering what’s happening with the promised Senate campaign of Colorado Springs Republican Robert Blaha, the National Journal has you covered [Pols warning: This link also contains the world’s largest picture of Robert Blaha. Seriously. We’re not kidding.] From Andrea Drusch:

Robert Blaha, who pledged to join the race after Ben­net sup­por­ted the Ir­a­ni­an nuc­le­ar-arms deal, has lined up Re­pub­lic­an strategist Jordan Gehrke, ad-maker Fred Dav­is, and poll­ster Gene Ulm to run his po­ten­tial cam­paign. And after spend­ing nearly $1 mil­lion of his own money in a failed 2012 con­gres­sion­al bid, he’s vow­ing to make an­oth­er siz­able in­vest­ment—one his still-un­of­fi­cial polit­ic­al ad­visers hope will ward off po­ten­tial Re­pub­lic­an chal­lengers.

“There’s really no oth­er top-tier can­did­ate in the race, from our per­spect­ive,” said Gehrke, who most re­cently served as gen­er­al con­sult­ant for Sen. Ben Sas­se’s cam­paign in Neb­raska. “Robert is go­ing to seed the cam­paign in a very sig­ni­fic­ant way right up front with a siz­able in­vest­ment per­son­ally just to demon­strate how ser­i­ous he is about this. The way this primary is set­ting up, there’s nobody who is go­ing to be more con­ser­vat­ive than him, and there’s nobody who’s go­ing to out­raise him.”

You may recall that Blaha “announced” back in September that he would “announce” his campaign for Senate in October. Blaha tells the National Journal that he may hold off on a formal kickoff of his candidacy until “after the holidays,” which may also mean, after the PAC supporting my candidacy is ready to roll:

“We con­tin­ue to as­sim­il­ate the team and to pre­pare for 2016,” Blaha said. “I can’t really think of any­body jump­ing in that would de­ter us at all at this point. … We’re not talk­ing about timeline be­cause we’re go­ing to let a little time pass. … The most im­port­ant thing we can do to really get our strategy, our pro­cess, our team.”

Be­cause he doesn’t hold fed­er­al of­fice, Blaha can raise money for a sup­port­ing su­per PAC be­fore join­ing the race. It was a tac­tic em­ployed by pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate Jeb Bush this year and mim­icked by at least one oth­er Sen­ate can­did­ate this cycle.

Col­or­ado Re­pub­lic­an con­sult­ant Patrick Dav­is, who ad­vises Blaha, has said he would likely run the su­per PAC.

Blaha is President of something called Human Capital Associates, which may or may not employ George Costanza, and spent about $800k of his own money in his failed 2012 bid to defeat incumbent Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn in CD-5. Blaha’s team isn’t saying how much money he may invest in his Senate campaign, but Jordan Gehrke tells the Journal that Blaha was “not going to lose because of a lack of money.”

Well, then…Bla-ha-ha-ha-ha!!! [read in spooky voice, because of Halloween and all]

Decoding Mike Coffman on Immigration Reform

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman's 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood's logo.

Still image from Rep. Mike Coffman’s 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood’s logo.

Those who taketh many positions, maketh many confused.      — Colorado Pols

The image at right of Rep. Mike Coffman touting the “support” of Planned Parenthood in 2014 resurfaced in September after Coffman voted in favor of a bill to cut federal funding from the organization. To the unfamiliar, this was a prime example of the kind of doublespeak that seems to fill many politicians these days. But to those who have followed Coffman’s career, what happened next was oddly…perfect. Responding to inquiries from 9News about the apparent hypocrisy from Coffman, his spokeswoman, Cinamon Watson, dropped one of the all-time classic bad political quotes:

“Using Planned Parenthood’s expression of support is not the same thing as saying it’s a good organization,” said Coffman’s spokeswoman Cinamon Watson in an email to 9NEWS.

This really is a terrible response from a political spokesperson, but the response really encapsulates Coffman’s political career in a nutshell: Mike Coffman will say pretty much anything on a sensitive policy issue, regardless of whether it matches up with previous comments, votes, or legislation on said issue. We saw this again on Wednesday, when journalist and media critic Jason Salzman wrote a brief story about Coffman’s ever-evolving position on illegal immigration, pointing out that Coffman does not support the dual pathways to citizenship as outlined in the DREAM Act:

Reporters covering Coffman need to be sure to note that Coffman’s path is single-track, through military service only. That’s in contrast to the Dream Act, which Coffman voted against in 2010. It would have offered young undocumented immigrants a double-track path to citizenship, through military service or education.

The difference is important, because the Dream Act has long been the focus of legislative efforts to help young undocumented immigrants, who know our country as home. The most common version offers a dual-track path, but, in any case, Coffman’s chosen path should be clearly stated.

After this story went up on Colorado Pols, Coffman’s campaign manager/spokesman/overseer Tyler Sandberg took to Twitter to call out Salzman for missing something in Coffman’s immigration thinking. Salzman responded with an update on The Big Media Blog, essentially pointing out that Coffman has said many different things about many different issues — statements that don’t always end up being reflected in Coffman’s voting record.

The truth is, you can find a lot of things with the “Google button,” but a clear position on illegal immigration from Mike Coffman is not one of them. For example, take a look at how Coffman’s position on “comprehensive reform” flips 180 degrees in a 9-month period:


July 22, 2013

Comprehensive immigration reform is good. The Denver Post prints Op-Ed from Coffman calling for “comprehensive immigration reform.” When does he want it? “Now,” says Coffman.




January 17, 2014

In an email to the Aurora Sentinel, Coffman says he “supports” a path to citizenship for college education, but offers his military service for citizenship bill as an alternative to the DREAM Act.



April 28, 2014

Comprehensive immigration reform is bad. Coffman tells the Aurora Sentinel that he supports a “step-by-step” approach, which is the exact opposite of the position he laid out in the Denver Post nine months earlier. Coffman also reiterates that he opposes the bill that passed the Senate; and claims to support Obama’s DACA program for DREAMers, but not the way it was implemented. No mention is given to citizenship through education.



By May 21, 2014, all mention of “comprehensive immigration reform” is scrubbed from Coffman’s official Congressional website. It’s almost as if Coffman never actually supported “comprehensive immigration reform,” except that, well, he did. When Coffman staffer Tyler Sandberg says that his boss supports a “higher ed or military path” to citizenship for illegal immigrants, what does that mean? In Coffman’s carefully-choreographed dance on immigration policy, it could mean just about anything. Coffman has talked before about a “higher ed” option, but he has only ever given support to a “military path.”

Sandberg is walking a thin line here by indicating that prior statements from Coffman are equivalent to actual positions on issues; you can see from the “comprehensive reform” switcheroo above that Coffman’s statements don’t often have a very long shelf life of support from the man himself. Mike Coffman owes it to his constituents to present a clear platform on big issues such as illegal immigration — not the other way around. Even if you were aware of every comment that Coffman has ever made on potential immigration policy, you still couldn’t put together a workable platform; there are too many examples of Coffman flat-out contradicting himself.

Coffman opposes dual pathways to citizenship specified in the Dream Act

(Can’t stop a bullet? No “pathway” for you! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)


UPDATE: Coffman spokesman Tyler Sandberg tweeted me that Coffman does support a pathway to citizenship through education — a position that can be learned by using the “Google button.”  I have even reported instances in which Coffman has uttered a sentence to this effect in media appearances (See for example here.), and I should have included this in my blog post.

But this issue is an example of the problem reporters have in covering Coffman. Does a sentence buried in the middle of a TV interview actually represent Coffman’s position, when that policy can be contradicted by another vote on the record or lost in the conversation around military enlistment, which is the only related bill Coffman’s put forward?

When Coffman took to the Denver Post opinion pages in 2013 to endorse “comprehensive immigration reform,” any number of his supposed policy commitments were left vague enough to give him room to escape supporting the bipartisan Senate bill that actually passed. And by the next year, he had reversed himself on whether “comprehensive” reform needed to be done all at once or in a step-by-step approach. Additionally, all of these back and forth statements on legislative procedure is omitting Coffman voting against President Obama’s deferred deportations for children before reversing and voting for them.

Still, I should have referenced Coffman’s media statements in support of a path to citizenship through education.


Back in 2013, as Rep. Mike Coffman was testifying in favor of allowing undocumented children to gain citizenship through military service, he said:

Coffman: “The first question that we ought to ask ourselves here today is whether or not we believe that the young people, who were brought to this country illegally as children by their relatives, who grew up here, and who went to school here, who probably know of no other county, ought to have a pathway to citizenship and I believe that the answer to that question is yes.”

Reporters covering Coffman need to be sure to note that Coffman’s path is single-track, through military service only. That’s in contrast to the Dream Act, which Coffman voted against in 2010. It would have offered young undocumented immigrants a double-track path to citizenship, through military service or education.

The difference is important, because the Dream Act has long been the focus of legislative efforts to help young undocumented immigrants, who know our country as home. The most common version offers a dual-track path, but, in any case, Coffman’s chosen path should be clearly stated.

So, The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews should have specified the type of path Coffman supports when Matthews wrote over the weekend:

Coffman added that he supports a pathway to citizenship for immigrant children but not adults, although he wanted to create some arrangement for parents, such as “guest worker status.”

Coffman supports a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants through military service. It’s a distinction that means a lot to the young immigrants involved and to those who’ve been pushing for immigration reform for so long now.

Biden Declines Run As Hillary Consolidates Support

Vice President Joe Biden.

Vice President Joe Biden.


Vice President Joe Biden ended months of intense speculation about his political future on Wednesday by announcing he wouldn’t seek the presidency, abandoning a dream he’s harbored for decades and putting Hillary Clinton in a stronger position to capture the Democratic nomination.

With his wife, Jill, and President Barack Obama at his side in the White House Rose Garden, Biden said the period of grieving his family has endured after the death of his son Beau meant that the window for a successful campaign “has closed.”

Still, Biden positioned himself as a defender of the Obama legacy and made clear he views himself as the best possible successor to the President. In tone, the remarks sounded like the kind of speech defending staunch Democratic values that he might have given had he reached the opposite conclusion.

“While I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent,” he said in a speech that highlighted Democratic themes on income inequality along with a call for a national movement to cure cancer. “I intend to speak out clearly and forcefully, to influence as much as I can where we stand as a party and where we need to go as a nation.”

Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton.

The broad consensus in the wake of this announcement is that Joe Biden’s window of opportunity to get into the presidential race closed after Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s strong debate performance on October 13th in Las Vegas. Perhaps most helped by opponent Bernie Sanders’ powerful call for the Democratic base to move past the GOP’s strategy of hyping petty scandals against Clinton, since that debate it’s become much clearer that Hillary has the strength to fight through the kitchen-sink attacks and own the primary.

Biden’s decision to stay out of the race is thus a large momentum boost for Hillary’s campaign, and could be pivotal to helping her consolidate support ahead of the first primary states. Looking ahead, a successful Hillary Clinton nomination and campaign could result in big coattail assists for Democratic candidates–in particular, for self-evident reasons, women like Democratic CD-6 candidate Morgan Carroll, but also for Michael Bennet and others down the ticket. As the opportunity to elect the nation’s first woman president begins to take shape, there is a scenario in which her campaign becomes a game-changing political snowball, with ramifications for American politics even greater than the election of Barack Obama in 2008.

Yes, we know, the Hillary haters in your life do not want to hear this.

Don’t let 80,000 Coloradans down

The following is from Dr. Christine Gilroy of Colorado Health OP:

“I am writing to explain what you will see in the news in the next few days.

The feds have quietly been shutting down co-ops in other states over the last 3 months. New York and Nevada were most recent. I am speaking now, as they have since issued gag orders to these co-ops.

The reason these co-ops were closed was that they were successful in the Individual Market. New York had 200,000 members.

Start up insurance requires 3 years to build Risk Based Capital. Starting Co-ops required an initial start-up loan, the feds promised second year funds to Risk Based Capital, which they reneged on in the CROMNIBUS budget of 12/9/14.

They told us at the same time we could not accept Venture Capital loans or Angel Investor dollars that help other start-ups through their initial capitalization period.

The Feds also promised to support the new individual market for 2 years through Reinsurance of the Risk Corridors. This meant that insurance companies would be incentivized to take all comers through the exchanges, and more insurance companies would participate to dilute the risk.

Today they broke their promise to Colorado, and denied us the Risk Corridor funds we were promised. They offered 12%. This affects every company that participated in the individual exchanges, not just Colorado HealthOP. Colorado HealthOP only needed 35% risk payment, and would have required no further infusions of federal money to be profitable in 2016, and are currently on track to pay back our loans — with interest –before they were due.

Short-sighted partisan politics are harming the people of Colorado.

The ACA was successful in lowering individual health premiums throughout Colorado. The Colorado HealthOP is part of that.

Please, call your Congresspeople. 80,000 Coloradans rely on Colorado HealthOP to provide access to affordable care. Let’s make sure they keep their promises to the people of this state.

Super-Scary Anti-Bennet Iran Ad Parodied In Record Time

UPDATE: AP via the Colorado Springs Gazetteit looks like Advancing Colorado was fudging their buy number for dramatic effect, as if the ad wasn’t enough melodrama:

“With Washington Republicans lacking an opponent in the Colorado Senate race, it comes as no surprise that a secretly funded group with ties to the billionaire Koch brothers is out with a deeply offensive, fear-mongering attack against Sen. Bennet,” said Andrew Zucker, senior communications adviser at the Colorado Democratic Party.

Lockwood, who formerly ran the conservative billionaire Koch brothers’ Colorado young voter outreach organization, said Advancing Colorado is not funded by the Koch brothers, though he declined to disclose donors. He said the ad buy was six figures, including broadcast stations in Denver starting Tuesday, and online and digital. Democrats said the broadcast portion is only $46,000, which Lockwood didn’t dispute, making it a fairly small buy. [Pols emphasis]


Jonathan Lockwood of Advancing Colorado.

Jonathan Lockwood of Advancing Colorado.

A press release from well-funded conservative advocacy group Advancing Colorado this morning announces a “shocking” new ad, criticizing Sen. Michael Bennet for his support for the agreement with Iran to prevent that nation from developing nuclear weapons:

Today, Advancing Colorado launched a six-figure television advertising campaign to alert Coloradans to Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet’s support for the president’s Iran Deal. The launch follows Bennet repeatedly voting to block an up-or-down vote on the disapproval resolution.

The video sequence begins with children counting down from ten in their native languages. The children countdown in English, Hebrew, German, Spanish, Arabic, Italian, Russian, Chinese and Swedish. Then video of a mushroom cloud explosion cuts off the last child as she says, “one,” with intense sound effects and a lasting piercing noise, depicting a nuclear attack from the leading state sponsor of terror.

“A nuclear Iran is a threat to the entire world. Sen. Michael Bennet support’s Obama’s Iran Deal. Sen. Michael Bennet is jeopardizing our safety. Call Sen. Michael Bennet,” the ad declares, featuring Bennet’s DC office’s phone number. “Ask him, ‘Why?’”

It’s a shocking TV spot, for sure, but it’s hardy original: the sequence of cute kids counting followed by a loud, scary nuclear explosion is a direct homage to the infamous 1964 “Daisy” ad produced by Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater. That these historically gripping visuals are being used to campaign against a peace agreement, as opposed to calling out Goldwater’s foreign policy belligerence, is rather Orwellian. For members of the public who know the underlying story of the Iran agreement, this ad could be an offensive backfire.

But that may not be the best part of the story: overnight, before this ad was announced to the public, we were sent a parody version with a request not to post it until Advancing Colorado’s ad was released–but as soon afterward as we could. Don’t ask us what happened here with Advancing Colorado’s internal production process, but the parody is truly hilarious if you’ve seen the original:


It helps if you’ve seen Terminator 2. As long as you have, this turns the six-digit scare into a bit of a punchline.

But don’t worry, folks, Advancing Colorado will “be back!” After all, they’re very well funded.

Anti-Iran Deal Resolution Dies, Local Republicans Get Nasty

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.


In a significant win for White House, Senate Democrats Thursday blocked a Republican resolution of disapproval of the Iran nuclear deal from going to a final vote.

That means President Barack Obama won’t be forced to veto the legislation and drag out for several more weeks an ugly battle with the GOP-controlled Congress over the accord he has fought hard to secure.

The vote on the procedural motion to move to a final vote, which needed 60 votes to pass, failed 58 to 42.

Obama welcomed the outcome in a statement Thursday afternoon.

“This vote is a victory for diplomacy, for American national security, and for the safety and security of the world,” Obama said. “I am heartened that so many senators judged this deal on the merits, and am gratified by the strong support of lawmakers and citizens alike.”

Scary Iran graphic via the internets.

Scary Iran graphic via the internets.

One of the votes to kill the Republican disapproval motion against the nuclear weapons agreement with Iran was Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet. In an AP story yesterday, Bennet opened up about his personal deliberations over the deal, which made him one of the last Democratic Senators to come out in support–deliberations that were influenced at least in part by his own family history:

Bennet’s grandparents smuggled his mother, who was still a baby, out of the Warsaw Ghetto in Poland to escape the Nazis. They, too, had “everyone and everything they knew taken from them in the Holocaust,” Bennet said.

Both senators [Bennet and Ron Wyden] said the Iran deal is a flawed agreement with an adversary that has threatened both the United States and Israel. But both said they strongly believe the agreement offers the best hope of keeping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

“We live in dangerous times, and whether you support the agreement or not, we must develop a cohesive strategy for U.S. policy in the Middle East that addresses the grave security concerns in the region,” Bennet said. “We cannot allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, and we must be crystal clear that we will use force to prevent it from doing so.”

In response to today’s vote, which effectively kills any chance Republicans had to even pass a resolution disapproving the Iran nuclear deal, let alone override a veto as they had hoped for only a month ago, local Republicans fired off a stupefying attack on Bennet–actually attempting to use his family’s history as victims of the Holocaust against him for this vote. Local blog Colorado Peak Politics penned what we must assume will be the new GOP line of attack on Bennet over the deal:

An Associated Press report yesterday noted that embattled U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet was one of two Senators supporting the Iran deal whose family members were victims of the Holocaust. It’s almost as if we are expected to excuse Bennet his bad policy decision that would empower Iran, which has threatened to obliterate Israel, because his family experienced the Holocaust.

Folks, attacking Sen. Bennet for supporting the Iran nuclear weapons deal because his mother is a Holocaust survivor is wildly, offensively inappropriate–and should be condemned across party lines. First of all, it’s opponents of this deal who have used and abused the Holocaust as a way to undermine support for it, not supporters. The likening of Iran to Nazi Germany has indeed been one of the most popular comparisons invoked by opponents of the deal. And again, it is Bennet’s family’s personal experience with the Holocaust that slowed Bennet’s decision, making him one of the final Democrats to come out in support of the agreement.

The deal is not perfect or all inclusive, but that could describe many hard-negotiated agreements that today we consider a success. Above all, this agreement is about reducing hostilities in the Middle East, not escalating them. Even if you disagree, can’t we at least be decent enough to keep Bennet’s mother out of it?

Then again, if this low blow is all opponents have left, maybe the debate is already over.