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.

Rep. Joe Salazar Eviscerates Trump (And Mike Coffman)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

It’s not often that we cite an opinion piece published on another site, but Rep. Joe Salazar of Thornton penned an op-ed for today’s Aurora Sentinel that’s prompting a lot of discussion–certainly enough to earn a mention in this space.

The subject? Donald Trump, naturally–and Trump’s record’s similarity to that of “moderate” Rep. Mike Coffman. Excerpts:

Congressman Mike Coffman was a loud supporter of the extreme anti-immigrant agenda long before Donald Trump rode his xenophobia to the top of the Republican polls. Trump may be hogging all the attention and crowding out his rivals, but his outrageous views towards immigrants and Latinos are common in the Republican Party. In fact, it is fair to say that Trump is Tancredo/Coffman 2.0.

Unlike Trump, within the past few years Mike Coffman has been awkwardly running/stumbling away from this anti-immigrant legacy as fast as he can. In fact, he started learning Spanish – I know because he attempted to speak with me in Spanish during an event we both attended in 2013. But, despite his newfound bilingualism, the truth is that Coffman is alarmingly similar to Trump… [Pols emphasis]

Although Mike Coffman believes that learning Spanish would endear him to immigrant communities, his rhetoric and record only demonstrate that he is now effective in offending good, hard-working people in two languages. Let us not forget that he also fought to change the Voting Rights Act to ban multilingual ballots in areas with large populations of non-proficient English speakers (telling people they ought to grab a dictionary).

Redistricting threw Coffman into a Congressional district where he had to face the same people he stoked xenophobic fears against. Since then, Mike “Tancredo is my Hero” Coffman has been bottling up his true positions, leaving minority communities in the 6th Congressional District feeling concerned that his xenophobia will soon uncork itself.

In today’s op-ed, Rep. Salazar cites a number of similarities between Trump and Mike Coffman–like Coffman’s recommendation that non-English speaking voters “get a dictionary,” Coffman’s past support for building a wall across the Mexican border, and Coffman’s infamous 2012 assertion that President Barack Obama “is just not an American.” As Salazar points out, redistricting into a diverse and competitive new district, stripping Tom Tancredo’s old base of support from Coffman’s electorate, is the only thing that has prompted even a superficial change of heart.

As we expect Salazar will be telling CD-6 voters from now until November of 2016, it’s superficial as hell. The proof is in Coffman’s own words: far too many words to take back or flip-flop on. All that’s lacking is the will to hold Coffman accountable to that black-and-white record, something our gutless local media and previous Democratic challengers have so far not demonstrated.

Well folks, it really looks like that may be happening in 2016.

Tim Neville Wields a Mighty Wrench in Republican Senate Field

That's a big-ass wrench, Tim Neville.

That’s a big-ass wrench, Tim Neville.

The big (BIG) news today in Colorado politics is State Sen. Tim Neville embarking on a “listening tour” in preparation for a run for U.S. Senate in 2016. Considering the number of events — across the state — that Neville already has planned, it’s a safe bet that he’s already heard enough to convince him to seek the Republican nomination against incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver).

As we wrote earlier today when news was breaking about Neville’s likely candidacy, this is a decision that throws a giant wrench into the entire process by which Republicans had been trying (and failing) to recruit a top-tier Senate candidate for 2016.

Colorado political news in the last week has largely been focused on efforts by Republicans to recruit Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler into the 2016 Senate race. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is among those in the GOP publicly pushing for a Brauchler candidacy, as he told Politico on Tuesday:

“I think if he ran for the Senate, he’d be someone who a lot of Republicans could get behind — including myself,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who unseated Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in a hotly contested race last year. “I think there are a lot of people who are very interested in this race. I think a lot of them are waiting on George Brauchler.” [Pols emphasis]

Republicans have already been through 15-20 different names in their search for a 2016 Senate candidate, so there couldn’t have been a lot of people waiting on Brauchler. We started to hear over the last couple of days that Brauchler was not comfortable being pushed to make a decision on a Senate run after just concluding the Aurora Theater Shooting Trial, and now that Neville has signaled his intentions, Brauchler can bow out of the race without leaving Republicans searching for a candidate.

In fact, we’d go so far as to say that Brauchler probably should decline a Senate bid now that Neville is involved; beating Bennet in a General Election is a big feat in itself, but first beating Neville in a Republican Primary is another matter altogether. Brauchler can run for re-election as District Attorney in 2016 if he doesn’t chase a Senate seat, and then take his time in preparation for a 2018 run for Governor — which is what Brauchler really wants. This option is a no-brainer now that Brauchler can no longer count on a relatively-uncontested GOP Primary for Senate; Brauchler could lose to Neville in a Primary and not even keep his seat as District Attorney, and his political career would effectively be off the rails for years to come. A loss to Neville all but guarantees that Brauchler wouldn’t be able to mount a serious campaign for Governor two years later.

We’ve long thought that it was probably only a matter of time before somebody scratched out the math on a napkin and realized that Neville can win a Republican Primary. With heavy support in bellwether Jefferson County, and with his son, Rep. Patrick Neville, working Republicans in Douglas County, Neville has two of the most important (and largely-populated) counties in his pocket. Neville would almost certainly have the support of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) as well; he has a strong relationship with RMGO head Dudley Brown, and one of Neville’s sons works as RMGO’s political director. Finally, Neville is a darling of the religious right. Any way you look at it, Neville would be the frontrunner in a GOP Senate Primary, where he is far more likely than Brauchler to attract the support of the Tea Party groups and other reliable Republican supporters.

Can Neville beat Bennet in a General Election? That’s an analysis for another day. All that matters right now is that Neville can win a Republican Primary, and his presence may be enough to essentially clear the GOP field.


Bennet Leans “Yes” As Iran Deal Opposition Sputters

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.


Critics of the Iran deal believed the August congressional recess was their best chance to scuttle the nuclear accord, as wavering lawmakers returned home to angry protesters and a barrage of TV ads. The longer the deal hung out there, they figured, the worse it would be for President Barack Obama.

Instead, the monthlong break has been a major bust…

The anti-deal side also enlisted prominent former lawmakers, like ex-Democratic Sens. Joe Lieberman and Mary Landrieu, to head up opposition groups, ginned up letters from retired military leaders and sent well-connected donors and activists to personally meet with Democrats still on the fence.

None of it has worked. Instead, a parade of House and Senate Democrats — even in red states — came out in favor of the deal. That eight-figure TV ad campaign has moved few, if any, Democratic lawmakers, and dovish groups like are experiencing a surprising victory.

Iranian Shahab missile.

Iranian Shahab missile.

Early in the month of August, the question being debated by the pundit class was whether President Barack Obama could marshal enough support for the “P5+1” nuclear weapons agreement with Iran to prevent an override of his veto of what everyone expected would be a motion of disapproval passed out of the GOP-controlled Congress.

Today, a veto override looks completely out of reach, and the question is now whether President Obama will have to veto anything. Key to that question is an undecided ally of Obama’s and Senator from Colorado, Michael Bennet–whose caution stems from being one of the only Democratic Senate seats needing protection in 2016, and may just now be getting comfortable with the idea of supporting the agreement as the opposition fizzles:

Iran deal opponents need only four of 14 undecided Democratic senators to put President Barack Obama in the awkward spot of vetoing an attempt to scuttle a crowning foreign policy achievement. That’s set off a complicated race between hawks and the White House to win over an eclectic group of senators, each with his or her own particular concerns…

The sole vulnerable Democratic senator up for reelection in 2016, Bennet faces an added layer of pressure that’s made him a prime target for both sides ahead of the Senate vote in September.

The first-term senator hinted this week he’s leaning “yes.”

“I have come to the conclusion that there is not a better deal available,” he said at an energy event in Denver, though he added he’s still making up his mind. “We are faced with a lot of bad choices now because we eliminated a lot of choices along the way.”

Bennet’s slow arrival at support for the Iran nuclear agreement may not go down as a profile in courage, but it’s very important to the White House’s whip count going into any vote on a resolution to disapprove the treaty. Even as opponents to this agreement have dramatically ramped up the scare tactics through the August recess, warning in hyperbolic terms of the risks of negotiating with Iran, they have failed to develop the kind of meaningful pressure to either peel off supporters of the deal or turn a sufficient number of undecided lawmakers into opponents.

In the end, if Congress can’t even pass a bill disapproving the Iran treaty, let alone override its inevitable veto, the extreme fearmongering rhetoric used to oppose it is going to look awfully silly. And they’ll have no one to blame but themselves. By failing to stoke enough opposition to kill the deal, and also failing to offer any alternative beyond the broken status quo or war against Iran, the treaty’s mostly Republican opponents have made themselves irrelevant to the final outcome.

An Open Letter to Donald Trump

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.

I am compelled by conscience to respond to your recent hate-filled rhetoric toward immigrants and your call to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the United States.

I must call out your words for what they are: cowardly and immoral. It is cowardice to categorically attack and dehumanize 11 million people to further your own political ambition. Your words are those of a demagogue—a false ‘solution’ that riles up the worst of our humanity.

I must ask you: Did undocumented immigrants make the decisions to shutter thousands of American factories and send millions upon millions of good jobs to other countries? Did undocumented immigrants pass the ‘free trade’ agreements that have ruined both well-paid manufacturing and, increasingly, service jobs in America?  Did undocumented immigrants pass the massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that have showered further wealth upon them and led to public services cuts and extreme deficits? (I could go on and on.)

No, people with enormous economic and political power made those decisions—Wall Street, CEO’s, members of the 1%, and the politicians whom they have bought made those decisions. I will say that again—people with incredible power made those decisions. Yet, you prey upon the considerable economic insecurity that almost all Americans feel today and blame undocumented immigrants—a group that is a far cry from wielding power over the commanding heights over our economy and our politics. This is not courage, sir—it is rank cowardice.

Worse than that, you are attempting the ugly, dangerous, and age-old tactic of scapegoating. We must look at our history—and the history of the world—and remember just how dangerous scapegoating is. I urge you, and every American, to pause for a moment and reflect upon what has happened every time in history when a group that is different is first made to be the ‘other’ then blamed for that society’s problems? The next step on that treacherous path is always a call for their removal from that society—or much, much worse. This perilous call is what you have just issued.

Already, that peril is becoming clear. Two men, apparently ‘inspired’ by your rhetoric, beat a Latino homeless man in the place of my birth, Boston.  Mr. Trump, can you imagine Jesus Christ uttering the hateful words that you have towards undocumented immigrants? In fact the Bible says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) Where in any tradition of any major world religion does it call for such hatred and dehumanization of our fellow man? This is why your words are immoral.


Trump’s stance against birthright citizenship mirrors Coffman’s

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Donald Trump sort of clarified some aspects of his immigration position over the weekend, giving local media a chance to educate us about the illusory stance of Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora.

Trump released a document outlining a number of ideas, but the headliner was his newly articulated opposition to “birthright citizenship,” the longstanding U.S. law granting citizenship to people born on American soil, even if their parents are not citizens.

Coffman has been way ahead of Trump on this one, reaffirming his opposition to birthright citizenship in a Denver Post interview in 2013.

Coffman: You know, I think we should probably adopt the policies of other countries, that you are a citizen of your parents. But the fact is, that we have children who were born under current U.S. law. And therein lies the challenge that I have, particularly in meeting families up in what is a very new district. And that –

Denver Post: You’d see that changed, right? Is that what you’re saying?

Coffman: Sure. I mean, I think we ought to look at that. But , the fact is, what we have to understand, the fact is, we don’t revoke citizenship once it’s given. [BigMedia emphasis]

Trump’s immigration paper, which received substantial attention, also renewed his call for deporting all undocumented immigrants, cattle-car style, back to their country of origin. And then expediting the return of the good ones, but not granting them a path to citizenship.

Like Trump, Coffman has also called for giving a vague “legal status” for adult immigrants, without a path to citizenship. He hasn’t said whether he’d require cattle-care deportation first. Either way, Coffman appears to be aligned with Trump on creating an underclass of workers, in the great tradition of taxation without representation.

High-profile policy pronouncement by celebrity presidential candidates continue to offer a great avenue to educate the public about the positions of their local politicos. I’m hoping reporters jump all over these local angles as we get closer to next year’s election.

Coffman and Rubio’s path away from immigration reform

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), left, with anti-immigrant Rep. Steve King (R-IA).

A good way to understand (or get further confused) about Rep. Mike Coffman’s illusive position on immigration is to compare it to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s. And reporters should consider using this comparison to help explain Coffman’s (non)position to voters.

Back in 2013, Rubio was part of the “Gang of Eight” Senators (including Michael Bennet) who pushed a comprehensive immigration bill that, miraculously, passed the U.S. Senate. It offered major border security, along with a long path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in America.

Despite claiming to be for “comprehensive immigration reform,” Rep. Coffman opposed the Rubio bill and its path to citizenship. And House Republicans, with Coffman’s blessing, never voted on the Rubio bill, and it died a truly tragic death.

Asked why he wouldn’t support the comprehensive-immigration-reform legislation, after he’d thumped his chest in The Denver Post in favor of the idea, Coffman said he didn’t want it all in one bill.

Instead, Coffman said he wanted a “step-by-step,” multiple-bill strategy, telling the Aurora Sentinel that a “comprehensive approach doesn’t have to be a comprehensive bill.”

And Coffman scrubbed the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform” from his website.


Enviros Back Bennet, Because Obviously

Sen. Michael Bennet at Chimney Rock National Monument.

Sen. Michael Bennet at Chimney Rock National Monument.

A press release from the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund today announces that group’s and the National Resources Defense Council Action Fund’s endorsement of Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet for re-election in 2015:

The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund (LCVAF) and National Resources Defense Council Action Fund (NRDC) announced their endorsements of Sen. Michael Bennet’s re-election today, lauding his work to address climate change, protect the environment, champion renewable energy and protect Colorado’s natural treasures.

“Senator Michael Bennet has been a champion when it comes to tackling climate change and protecting our environment, and we are excited to support his re-election,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, LCVAF Senior Vice President for Government Affairs. “Michael has fought for clean air and water, worked to protect Colorado’s natural treasures like the Hermosa Creek Watershed from drilling, and led efforts to increase renewable energy. Earlier this spring, during the Senate’s budget debate, he elevated the economic and national security threats posed by climate change and the need for action. We know Michael will continue to fight for our environment as Colorado’s Senator for years to come, and we look forward to continuing to work with him.”

“We’ve known Senator Michael Bennet for years, and there’s no doubt that he’ll continue the fight against climate change and be a leader working with us to protect the environment and our natural resources,” said Heather Taylor-Miesle, Director of the NRDC Action Fund. “Michael is a clean air hero who has fought against efforts to gut the Clean Air Act. He has led bipartisan efforts to protect the Hermosa Creek Watershed, Chimney Rock and Browns Canyon, and even passed amendments to make the fight against global climate a national security priority. We are proud to support his re-election.”

As the Denver Post’s John Frank reports, and we’re obliged to note having covered it in this space, Sen. Bennet’s environmental credentials are not without a few caveats:

Bennet’s support of the Keystone XL pipeline — a litmus test for ardent environmentalists — led to protests at his campaign kickoff fundraiser in March featuring a sign that read, “We don’t vote for fossil fuel politicians.” And eco-activists also demonstrated against Bennet for his support of a major trade deal in May.

The two big endorsements may help reassure environmentalists about Bennet’s credentials — even if they are unlikely to satisfy all the green activists in the Democratic Party. It also is a reflection that no major alternative — Democrat or Republican — has emerged to challenge Bennet so far.

Despite the disappointment many environmentalists rightly expressed over Bennet’s votes–in the end meaningless votes–for the Keystone XL pipeline, he has a number of actions to point to as positives on this issue as well. Bennet’s spouse Susan Daggett, a longtime former attorney for the environmental legal group Earthjustice, also helps refute the idea that Bennet is soft on the environment.

But above all, there is simply no alternative to Bennet in the mix now or likely to emerge who will be better on environmental issues than he is, and that’s why he got these endorsements so early in the race. In the absence of a strong GOP challenger, we fully expect Republicans to use votes like Keystone to drive a wedge within the Democratic coalition and weaken Bennet as much as possible. We would do the same in their situation out of sheer political expediency.

These early endorsements from credible, national environmental advocacy groups should help nip that in the proverbial bud.

Recalling Coffman’s proposal for English-only ballots, as the Voting Rights Act turns 50

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

coffmantrump3Over the weekend, I enjoyed reading Jim Rutenberg’s piece in the New York Times magazine on how conservatives have methodically dismantled the Voting Rights Act, which turns 50 on Thursday, culminating in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 decision gutting major provisions of the law.

Here at home, one conservative who’s thrown his congressional spear at the Voting Rights Act, widely credited for finally giving African-Americans actual factual access to the voting booth, is Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora.

Coffman, you recall, introduced legislation in 2011 repealing the law’s requirement that bilingual ballots be provided in areas with large numbers of voters don’t speak English very well.

In other words, Coffman wanted to leave the decision about whether to provide bilingual ballots to local authorities, and if you take the time to read Rutenberg’s article, you’ll see that, as much as we’d all like to believe otherwise, local politicians are apparently still trying to keep black Americans from voting. That’s why we need federal requirements for stuff like bilingual ballots–to make sure everyone can participate in democracy, such as it is.

But Coffman, who once suggested that immigrants “pull out a dictionary” if they’re having trouble understanding an English ballot, doesn’t see it that way.

Coffman: “Since proficiency in English is already a requirement for U.S. citizenship, forcing cash-strapped local governments to provide ballots in a language other than English makes no sense at all,” Coffman told the Denver Post in 2011.

Last year, Coffman doubled down on his support for English-only ballots, saying during a Univision debate that he still opposes the Voting Rights Act’s requirements for mailing Spanish-language ballots, because it’s expensive.

But Coffman said it in a more friendly way, “I would hope that every voter will be able to get the information that he needs in a language he can understand.”

Again, most of us have to share Coffman’s hope, but there’s also reality lurking out there, embodied in politicians who care more about self-preservation than democracy. And you can read about it in the New York Times.

Cory Gardner makes lede from Koch Brothers Confab

This is why Michael Bennet should distance himself from Colorado‘s junior senator:

Your Betters get together to save the Little People from themselves

by digby

The Koch pageant is in full effect:

Koch, speaking on a low stage in front of an elaborately manicured lawn at the St. Regis Monarch Beach luxury resort, warned about 450 assembled donors and a slew of Republican elected officials – including Sens. Cory Gardner, Mike Lee, Ben Sasse and Dan Sullivan – of a “life or death struggle for our country.”

“One of the things I ask you to think about over this weekend is will you stand together with us to help save our country. It can’t be done without you and many, many others,” said Koch, who seldom speaks in the presence of reporters.

This address was to a group of multi- millionaires and billionaires who have come together to decide on which of the candidates to spend the almost 1 billion the Kochs plan to raise to buy themselves the presidency— er….”save our country.”

Now I know Michael Bennet doesn’t know how to act “the Democrat”. Though, damned if he doesn’t try. Given that, it should be more than obvious to him, and his advisors, and his supporters, and even those that may vote for him that he shouldn’t try to be Gardner-lite or any such thing that could be thought of a resembling any number of Koch whores.

If he can’t figure this out, then he’s even dumber than he looks.

UPDATE: Trump calls out the moneygrubbers. Heh.

Trump sounds like Coffman on immigration, but (surprise) we don’t know the details

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Reflecting yesterday on Donald Trump’s recent pledge to deport, cattle-car style, each and every one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America–and then expedite the return of the “good ones”– the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent called on reporters to extract detailed plans from the herd of Republican presidential candidates regarding their positions on immigration.

Indeed, one hopes that the moderators of the upcoming GOP debate will see an opportunity in Trump’s cattle car musings: why not ask all the GOP candidates whether they agree with him? And if not, where dothey stand on the 11 million exactly? Remember, Mitt Romney’s big “self-deportation” moment came at a GOP primary debate…

The point is that eventually, we’ll need to hear from all the GOP candidates as to what they would do about the 11 million — beyond vaguely supporting legal status, but only after some future point at which we’ve attained a Platonic ideal of border security. Trump may have just made it more likely that this moment will come sooner, rather than later. One can hope, anyway.

It’s a good idea and has direct application here in Colorado, where Republicans, like Rep. Mike Coffman, continue to slide by journalists with vague and shifting statements about immigration.

Like Trump, Coffman has said he favors some sort of “legal status” for adult undocumented immigrants, but it’s not clear whether he’d boot out everyone first, and then allow the good apples to return–or if he’d skip the cattle-car phase and grant “legal status” to the immigrants here.

Either way, would he wait for seamless border security? And what’s good enough, when it comes to the border?

And then, assuming the border is sufficiently seamless, and whether he chooses the cattle-car or no cattle-car opition, does Coffman really want t0 create an underclass of millions of noncitizens in America, with no voice in government? Would we be looking at good old fashioned taxation without representation? What rights (voting?) and responsibilities (military service? taxes?) would be denied? Even Helen Krieble, a Colorado resident who first proposed the cattle-car option, advocates giving a political voice to undocumented immigrants through citizenship.

Details, details. I wouldn’t want to go there either, if I were Coffman–because he’d get bitten by both progressive and conservative sharks. But that’s not a problem for journalists who should be asking him the questions.

New Coffman® Trumped By Knee-Jerk Immigration Vote

Mike Coffman gets Trumped.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

As the Washington Post reports, don’t ever let it be said again that Republicans can’t get an immigration bill passed:

The House voted Thursday to punish local jurisdictions — known as “sanctuary cities” — that defy federal immigration authorities in order to protect immigrants living illegally in the United States.

The 241-to-179 vote, which was backed by Republican leaders and fell largely along party lines, is the most dramatic action taken by Congress after a spate of new attention on illegal immigration sparked by the July 1 killing of a 32-year-old California woman…

Some law enforcement organizations, civil rights groups and the U.S. Conference of Mayors have pushed back on efforts to crack down on sanctuary cities, arguing that new policies would be counterproductive by undermining the trust between local law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.

In the wake of the tragic killing of Kathryn Steinle by an undocumented immigrant who had been deported from the United States several times, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives rushed a bill to the floor bypassing the normal committee process to punish so-called “sanctuary cities”–jurisdictions that don’t investigate immigration status when working with residents or taking reports of crimes. Supporters of local governments who have made that policy decision say immigrants are more willing to cooperate with law enforcement in investigations of serious crimes if they don’t fear automatic arrest over their immigration status.

City governments, local law enforcement, not to mention millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States are waiting for comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level to resolve the conflicts between federal and local policy, rationalize the broken status quo, and restore functionality to a system that hasn’t served the needs of the nation or immigrants wanting to come to American in many decades. Until then, knee-jerk retaliation against the headlines of the day are all we get on this issue from the Republican-controlled Congress.


That includes Rep. Mike Coffman, whose “reinvention” on the issue of immigration since being redistricted out of his formerly safe GOP seat into a diverse battleground has once again been “Trumped” by his actual vote. Despite Coffman’s repeated attempts to cast himself as a “moderate” on immigration since redistricting, this vote has yet again failed to square with his newfound rhetoric. A good example of this delicate posturing came right after President Barack Obama’s executive order to halt deportations of DREAMer students–when Coffman voted to defund the program, claiming it gave prosecutors “too much discretion.”

Defending Thursday’s vote, Coffman said “it cannot be seen as anti-immigrant, as anti-Hispanic.” But with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump demagoguing the tragic yet anecdotal incident universally cited as the reason for rushing this bill through the GOP-controlled House, making this a focus of a campaign that has already outraged Hispanics over Trump’s unapologetic racist overtures…how can it possibly be seen as anything else?

Give the way Trump is dominating Spanish language news coverage of the 2016 presidential race, it’s an easy guess who Hispanic voters will identify this action with. Donald Trump is driving the agenda in today’s Republican Party–and in Colorado’s most competitive congressional race, Mike Coffman is happy to help him.

Bigots, Birchers, and Islamophobes in Colorado Mainstream Now

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Groups promoting hatred and fear of Muslims, gays, immigrants, unionized workers, and people of color are openly meeting in Colorado. These meetings are being promoted by mainstream Republican activists, and are aimed at influencing policy by informing local law enforcement and legislators of the  “threats” these groups pose. The John Birch Society had an Executive Dinner in Denver July 24.  RMGO is promoting an anti-Muslim training session for law enforcement, community and the public Aug. 13-15.

John Birch Society- the Founding Bigots

The John Birch Society met July 24, at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in North Denver.  Many mainstream GOP activists planned to attend, according to their Facebook pages. The John Birch Society (JBS) has a long history of racism and religious bigotry in the United States, and was where the Koch Brothers learned how to prey upon the fears of the ignorant.

In the JBS world view, communists are everywhere.

The JBS had its origins in the McCarthy era, as an anti-Communist group.  “Birchers” preached that all Civil Rights Movement leaders and actions were Communist-inspired. My father, an editorial writer for the Post, used to rail about the “Goddamn Birchers” who would oppose every piece of civil rights or anti-poverty legislation in Denver, and tried to suppress his editorials in the 1960s.

Although JBS leadership now wears three-piece suits, and meets at $50 a plate fundraising dinners in nice hotel ballrooms, their messaging has changed very little: “Those people” (leftists, feminists, unionists, environmentalists, gays, Muslims, the UN, Democrats, people of color promoting Obama’s “race war”) are conspiring to take away your American way of life,  and they must be stopped, preferably with a hefty donation to the JBS. 

The JBS contributes heavily to “Right to Work” and other ALEC- generated legislation.  Colorado legislators are rated  on the JBS “Freedom Index”. Rated at 70% or higher: Mike Coffman, Doug Lamborn, Scott Tipton,  Cory Gardner, and Ken Buck . It will be interesting to see which of these Republican politicians attended the JBS dinner.

 John Guandalo: RMGO sponsored workshops August 13-15 on “Understanding the Threat” of the Global Islamic Movement