Ken Buck Plays Both Sides in Red-on-Red War in Congress

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Ken Buck presses everyone's buttons

Ken Buck presses everyone’s buttons

Colorado Rep. Ken Buck snapped at his fellow House conservatives, telling a Denver radio host Oct. 9 that any new Republican House speaker is “immediately going to be cast as someone who is compromising.”

On the radio, Buck likes to present himself as a hard-core Tea Partier, all about principles all the time, but in reality, Buck likes to have it both ways.

Buck previously voted for House Speaker John Boehner, who resigned under pressure by uncompromising Republican warriors. And Buck was set to vote for Rep. Kevin McCarthy, a compromiser-to-be, who was under pressure by the same uncompromising Republican warriors when he withdrew from the race to replace Boehner as House speaker.

Buck told KHOW 710-AM’s Mandy Connell that the current situation is so difficult, with Boehner and McCarthy out, that some House Republicans are considering “forming a coalition government” that would keep conservatives “out of the mix in terms of choosing a speaker.”

“Be careful what you wish for,” Buck condescendingly told Tea Party Republicans who might have been listening:

Buck: “I have to tell you though, be careful what you wish for, because we’ve gotten rid of John Boehner, and Kevin McCarthy has decided not to do it. There are Republicans now, because they are so frustrated with conservatives holding this up, talking about forming a coalition government, talking about working with Democrats to create a majority and keep the conservatives out of the mix in terms of choosing a speaker… It would be horrible. It may very well form a 3rd party. And I strongly believe, if you split the Republican Party into two parties, and the Democrats win for the next  [inaudible] years. Listen to Buck on KHOW 10.9.15.

Interestingly, Buck apparently doesn’t consider conservatives like himself among those who’d be iced out, since Buck voted for Boehner. Neither did Buck say on air how many Republicans were considering a move against the uncompromisers.

But he indavertantly made the case for dumping Tea Partiers (not him though), which he said he was against doing, when he told Connell how difficult the coming weeks will be for the next House speaker, if he or she is elected by the Republican caucus.

Buck (@11:25) : “The next month or month and a half will be a very difficult time for whoever is in that position. I say that because we’ve got a debt-ceiling vote that President Obama has moved up specifically because, not because we are running out of money, but specifically because John Boenher has stepped down. And he knows that the Republican House is in dissaray at this point and he wants to take advantage of that. And we have other votes. We have an omnibus vote on Appropriations that’s coming up. So we’ve got some very difficult decisions to make, and whoever steps into this is immediately going to be cast as someone who is compromising and it’s going to be tough.” Listen to Buck on KHOW 10.9.15.

Mike Coffman Salutes More Planned Parenthood “Committees”

If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is around to hear it, does it still make a noise? If you can answer that question, maybe you can solve this one as well: How many special/select committees can Congress create to investigate the same subject?

As ThinkProgress reported last week:

House Republicans have created a new committee specifically tasked with investigating the women’s health organization, despite the fact that months of scrutiny have failed to turn up any evidence that the group is actually breaking any laws.

The special committee formed on Wednesday brings the total count of congressional committees investigating Planned Parenthood up to five. There are already three in the House and one in the Senate…

…Republican lawmakers say the special committee will help consolidate the ongoing probe into Planned Parenthood under one legislative body. Though they acknowledge that they cannot definitively say the national women health’s organization has violated the law, they argue that doesn’t eliminate the need for further inquiry into fetal tissue research — a scientific practice that has come under fire following the release of several inflammatory videos accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally profiting from the sale of aborted baby parts.

As we noted on Friday, one of these “PP Committees” ended up producing very little aside from rhetorical nonsense; Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, admitted that his Committee’s investigation turned up, well, nothing.

“Did we find any wrongdoing? The answer was no,” Chaffetz said.

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

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

Nothing? Oh. Well, good thing there are still four PP Committees that are still investigating. Last week the House voted to establish a Select Investigative Panel of the Committee on Energy and Commerce to look into the nonsense allegations against Planned Parenthood. Plenty of Republicans voted in favor of creating this committee, including Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)…who used Planned Parenthood’s logo to imply an endorsement of his campaign in 2014.

You may recall from a few weeks ago that Coffman also voted in favor of cutting federal funding from Planned Parenthood, even with the knowledge that such a vote could derail negotiations hoping to avoid a government shutdown for the second time in three years. The explanation for that vote and the contrasting use of the Planned Parenthood logo for his campaign led to this classic response:

“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.

Republicans in Colorado have been trying hard to stoke the flames of manufactured anger over Planned Parenthood, and Rep. Coffman has happily joined in at every step — nevermind his 2014 campaign claims. But after Rep. Chaffetz’s frank comments that his Planned Parenthood investigation turned up nada, how can Coffman and other Congressional Republicans continue to promote more investigations? If another committee does try to push some sort of “evidence” involving Planned Parenthood, the first casualty will be the Republican members of Rep. Chaffetz’s committee; they’re going to look pretty incompetent if another committee claims evidence of wrongdoing after they reluctantly admitted running into a dead end.

But…if all five of these Committees fail to produce anything meaningful, will Coffman support the creation of a new Committee to investigate those other Committees? It only seems fair.

Blowhards: Springs Road Tax Haters Make Fools Of Selves



As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Billie Stanton reports, Republican Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers’ campaign to pass the city Ballot Issue 2C, a modest increase in the city’s sales tax rate to fund desperately-needed street repair projects, is meeting fierce opposition from national conservative group Americans for Prosperity–and also from the ubiquitous Laura Carno, a Springs-based conservative paid political activist with ties to former gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez.

As Stanton reports, the opposition is fierce, but unexpectedly shallow:

“Any politicians raising taxes anywhere – prove to me that that is the only way,” Carno said. “It is our money. When voters say no, government tightens their belts like we have to.”

She points to a report by a certified public accountant, hired by AFP, who said the city budget has enough money to rebuild roads without raising the sales tax.

“I don’t think I need to have any financial acumen to be a taxpayer saying they have not proven to me that they need to do this,” Carno said…

Laura Carno.

Laura Carno.

Followed by this frank admission:

“I am not a CPA. I am not an expert. My big fear is that they haven’t proven it to us.” [Pols emphasis]

For many Springs residents, the “proof” Carno is looking for can be found in a ten-minute drive on the city’s crumbling streets. But Carno also relies on a report commissioned by Americans for Prosperity from a certified public accountant named Jay Anderson, whose past includes a stint as budget director for Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas. The major fiscal problems in Kansas caused by large tax cuts recommended Anderson under Brownback are a matter of record, and the state passed a budget this year that was forced to raise some taxes again to close a massive “unexpected” deficit.

You have to wonder how much of Anderson’s “creative” math from Kansas went into his report on how easily Colorado Springs can fix the roads :

His 23-page report reflects several basic misunderstandings of the city budget.

For example, he urged the city to recover more than $20 million in property taxes lost through exclusions. But only churches, nonprofits and the military are excluded. If they were taxed, it would add only $4.3 million to the city’s $20 million in property taxes this year, Mayor John Suthers said.

“Do you think the citizens of Colorado Springs would vote to tax churches and nonprofits? We’d be the only jurisdiction in Colorado that did that,” he said.

In addition, Anderson “recommended” the city slash its funding reserves far below the level considered prudent. Given Anderson’s recent experience in Kansas, and the obvious damage done by that state’s irresponsible fiscal decisions, he’s probably the last person anyone should be taking fiscal advice from. But not only are we being asked to do that, you have Carno backing him up with what’s become her trademark nasal-voiced snarky catchphrase presumptuousness–never mind the fact that she’s, in her own words, “not an expert.” In fact, as Stanton reports in this story, Carno spent 14 years at a credit card issuer that was forced to pay almost half a billion dollars in fines over its predatory lending practices.

All of this adds up to make the opposition to Colorado Springs Ballot Issue 2C look not just rationally unsound, but also fairly…well, contemptible. Unfortunately, however, this is Colorado Springs–so none of these facts may matter to the outcome.

But folks down there deserve to know the whole story of what they’re being told, and by who.

Get More Smarter on Monday (Oct. 12)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Happy Columbus Day. Or not — your call. 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).


► It’s mail ballot time in Colorado. Ballots for the 2015 election should be arriving in your mailbox this week. Go to to check your voter registration status or to print out a sample ballot.


► Looking for real issues that will dominate the 2016 election cycle? Ensuring fair wages and rewarding the hard work of Americans will be a key theme, say economists. From Aldo Svaldi of the Denver Post:

The issues of stagnant wages and wealth inequity will dominate the discussion before next year’s presidential election — and unleash some unusual political dynamics, predicts a leading labor economist.

“It will be one of the main topics in the presidential election next year,” said  Lawrence Mishel, who has closely studied the issue…

…Since 1973, worker productivity has risen 73 percent, according to an EPI analysis. Higher productivity should result in higher wages, Mishel said, but that link is broken, a reflection of deliberate policy decisions by both parties over several administrations.

Median worker wages, adjusted for inflation, are up only 9 percent over the same period, with most of that coming in the late 1990s. Millennials are the most educated generation in U.S. history, yet they earn less than previous generations and struggle to find jobs in their fields. [Pols emphasis]

You hear that, Millennials? You can still vote with your wallet even if it’s empty.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Bernie Rocks Boulder, Because Of Course

FOX 31 reported from yesterday’s big, big rally for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the People’s Republic of Boulder:

Nestled under the picturesque Rocky Mountains, where the political landscape is much less diverse than the ever changing fall leaves, a stampede of more than nine thousand people converge on Boulder’s University of Colorado campus.

“I think Boulder is a spark plug of a town,” said Lee Nemerowicz, a small business owner who lives in Boulder.

“This is like, amazing to see,” said Molly Cooper, who drove eight hours from southwest Colorado for Saturday’s rally.

The Boulder Daily Camera’s Alex Burness described what has been broadly reported via attendees, both avowed supporters of Sanders and ideological fellow travelers who nonetheless back the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, as an electric scene:

Before an estimated crowd of 9,000, standing on a stage on an outdoor running track that was backdropped by the sun-soaked Flatirons, the longtime Independent senator from Vermont-turned-Democratic presidential hopeful delivered his wildly popular manifesto to an audience that loved every word of it.

He said like to pass comprehensive immigration reform with policies that are “humane, sensible and keep families together.” He spoke of the country’s “grotesque” income inequality. He reminded his fans that his campaign is fueled not by a Super PAC or his private wealth, but rather by hundreds of thousands of individual donations that average about $30.

When he said that a bank “too big to fail” is also “too big to exist,” some in the crowd seemed to mouth the punchline along with him, like concertgoers giddy at the chance to hear a favorite song in person, at last.

The die-hard support Sanders has inspired across the country is a reflection of the sort of race the 74-year-old wants to run.

Bernie Sanders in Boulder yesterday.

Bernie Sanders in Boulder yesterday.

As the nation’s foremost proponent of an unapologetically progressive agenda today, Sanders has undeniably sparked a countermovement to the “Tea Party”-based rightward pressure that has dominated American politics for Barack Obama’s entire presidency. And for all the visual spectacle on a perfect afternoon in Boulder yesterday, yesterday’s rally wasn’t even that big compared to other recent Sanders events held in major sports arenas and convention center spaces across the nation.

He’s a very big deal, and no one should underestimate this campaign’s significance.

As the kitchen-sink attacks on Clinton continue to blow back on congressional Republicans, the latest being a high-level member of the congressional investigation into the Benghazi consulate attack denouncing the effort as a partisan political exercise, she appears increasingly likely to weather the storm and remain the Democratic frontrunner going into the early primary states–pending variables like Tuesday’s upcoming debate of course. But the huge groundswell of support for Sanders from the Democratic base and non-aligned left-leaners is both space created for Democrats to be Democrats, meaning not be afraid to stand up for their agenda, and a warning: that to not do so risks squandering important new momentum taking shape in American politics.

Hopefully, the footage of Bernie’s big crowds will help this important point sink in where it needs to.

Weekend Open Thread

“In this business, until you’re known as a monster you’re not a star.”

–Bette Davis

That Cow Don’t Hunt – And Other Fracktured Facts from Your Friendly Frackers

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Mouth of Sauron

Energy In Depth spokesman

Energy in Depth mouthpiece (twitterer, primarily it seems) Randy Hildreth was serving up some Texas-sized bullshit in his recent de rigueur hit-piece.

CELDF Threat of Bankrupting Communities with Fracking Bans Comes to Colorado

The short of it is local communities paying to defend their own ordinances and going bankrupt is because groups like the Western Energy Alliance or some such similar are suing them.

Get it? The oil and gas industry is suing local governments over ordinances those governments enact, then is blaming the local community members and city councils.

Colorado’s Oil and Gas lobby responds to the state’s tepid suggestion that maybe they play a little more nicely, please?

Furthermore, all this is happening in the context of the state just issuing draft rules for siting some certain very limited number of oil and gas facilities.

Or rather the state has issued draft regulations for maybe talking with local governments about siting facilities.

Predictably, like flies on dung, the oil and gas folk–led by former Denver Post editorial page editor Dan Haley–are decrying the idea of having to interact with local governments as draconian over-regulation bound to ruin some 200,000 jobs and plunge the state into eternal darkness. To paraphrase, but only slightly.

Meanwhile the good people actually living among the flaming wells, fracking sites, traffic, noise, fumes, air pollution, dust, spills, mishaps, and it-really-was-no-big-deal-everything-is-fine reality of the gaspatch have pointed out the regulations fall far short of what is actually needed.

Leslie Robinson, president of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance in Garfield County, said in a news release, “We’re getting thrown under the bus here. We saw this process as an opportunity to address the problem of big oil and gas facilities being sited close to homes and communities. Instead, the (oil and gas) Commission is proposing to basically enshrine companies’ right to keep doing exactly that.”


Latest Planned Parenthood Witch Hunt Fizzles

komen-planned-parenthood4-1Huffington Post reports–remember that crazy hearing in Congress a little over a week ago that featured a bunch of Republicans practically leaping over the rail to attack Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood? A hearing so ugly to watch than even Glenn Beck wingnut and ex-Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi was unable to defend it?

The Republicans in charge of that hearing hope you forget it:

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Thursday that the GOP’s investigation into Planned Parenthood’s use of federal funds hasn’t turned up anything.

“Did I look at the finances and have a hearing specifically as to the revenue portion and how they spend? Yes. Was there any wrongdoing? I didn’t find any,” he said during a Judiciary Committee hearing on the family planning provider.

Chaffetz, a candidate for House speaker, grilled Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards during a five-hour hearing last week. He questioned her salary, asked about the organization’s expenses and revenues, and pressed Richards on why the group had revenue of $127 million last year if it’s a nonprofit. (Nonprofits put their revenues back into their programs.)

But after all that, he concluded that Planned Parenthood isn’t doing anything sketchy with its money. “Did we find any wrongdoing? The answer was no,” Chaffetz said. [Pols emphasis]

After the spectacle of this much-hyped hearing, in which an unflappable Richards was personally lambasted over a range of allegations against Planned Parenthood both related and separate from heavily-edited videos released over the summer, Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s anticlimactic admission that there’s no “there” there in any of this latest trolling of Planned Parenthood makes us wonder what the plan ever was. Numerous local investigations of Planned Parenthood in the wake of those videos have turned up no violations of the law. Here in Colorado, our GOP attorney general has declined to go after Planned Parenthood despite considerable pressure from legislative Republicans.

In our experience, the Republican Party’s recurring war on legalized abortion, which is sometimes identified as part of a larger “war on women” by Democrats, is much more of an off-year pursuit than something seen during election years. Supporters of so-called “Personhood” abortion bans keep trying regardless of the season, of course, but by and large Republicans tend to put abortion on the back burner during contested elections–even to the point of shamelessly flip-flopping, or dissing their erstwhile allies who aren’t smart enough to know when this issue is useful politically to the GOP and when it needs to be squelched. After all, who wants to be the next Todd Akin?

Well, folks, it’s mid-October in an off year! So it’s just about time for abortion to go back on the proverbial shelf. There’s always the chance that this time, our media and pundit class will figure the game out and not get played like a fiddle in 2016 like Cory Gardner did to them in 2014. We hope so, but based on experience, we can’t count on it.

Republican EPA Bashers Jump The Gun Over “New Disaster”

UPDATE: Spill downgraded even further for the record:


Standard Mine Superfund site near Crested Butte.

Standard Mine Superfund site near Crested Butte.

As the Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports, Republican usual-suspect haters on everything the Environmental Protection Agency has ever said or done went on a tear yesterday, after word spread of another spill of minewater from an old Colorado mine in the presence of an EPA crew:

News Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency was responsible for another mine spill, this time near Crested Butte, came with a quick political punch…

The Standard Mine spill included gray-colored sediment from a holding pond at the mine. The contractor was de-watering the pond containing un-mineralized sediment and water from the lower mine adit.

The water and sediment was treated to a pH of 7, which is considered normal. The treated water from the pond was being discharged into Elk Creek. But a vacuum truck pumping water from the pond accidentally dipped into the gray-colored sediment, which led to the discharge into Elk Creek.

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

The Denver Post’s Bruce Finley reports, Republicans are so…damn…mad:

“They told us things were going to be different. Now we have a spill. … We’ve apparently got a real challenge with the EPA, not only with notification but their accountability and their ability to adequately execute these types of cleanup projects,” [Rep. Scott] Tipton said. “They’ve got resources. They’re the ones in charge of the program. And they’ve had two spills in my district alone. Is there a better way to approach this?”

…Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who threatened legal action after the Gold King disaster, said she’ll do all she can to protect state resources and hold the EPA responsible.

“Once again the Environmental Protection Agency has apparently endangered Colorado’s waterways while drilling at an abandoned mine,” Coffman said. “I continue to be concerned that the EPA wants to zealously regulate Colorado’s resources but refuses to be accountable for their own activities when they negatively impact our state.”


Who’s Dropping Out Next?

The Republican field for President in 2016 is (very) slowly shrinking, and we may see more movement in the next couple of weeks in the lead-up to the October 28 GOP debate at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

In the meantime, what say you, Polsters? Who will be the next Republican to abandon hopes of becoming President in 2016? Cast your vote after the jump…


Get More Smarter on Friday (Oct. 9)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Today is Leif Erickson Day, apparently. Go Vikings! 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).


► While everybody wouldn’t mind getting a little More Smarter, it would be hard to get More Dumber than Jefferson County School Board President Ken Witt. On Thursday, Witt held a press conference in Lakewood to make a “big announcement,” presumably about something that had to do with the Jeffco School Board recall election. As it turned out, Witt wanted to alert the media that he was filing an ethics complaint…against himself…and he didn’t even do that correctly.

If Witt’s goal was to really anger the local media, he succeeded beyond his wildest expectations. If not, the only thing Witt managed to do was make an impressive case for his own recall, while generating one of the weirdest headlines in recent memory.


► We’re gonna need a bigger thesaurus to adequately explain the complete mess that Republicans have made of Congress. Just moments before an official vote was scheduled on Thursday to select new leadership in Congress, California Rep. Kevin McCarthy abruptly withdrew his name from consideration for the next Speaker of the House — throwing the entire institution into an entirely new level of chaos. The quote of the day comes from Wall Street, where a representative from Guggenheim Securities called Thursday “the political equivalent of a dumpster fire.”

Many Republicans are trying to convince Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan to run for Speaker, though he continues to resist the siren call of what has become one of the shittiest jobs in Washington.


Get even more smarter after the jump…