Weekend Open Thread

"Farce treats the improbable as probable, the impossible as possible."

–George Pierce Baker

At Least He’s Not Your Governor

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a darling of conservatives since his campaign to weaken public sector unions after winning office in 2010, has been working to raise his profile lately in advance of a possible run for the presidency in 2016. We took note last week of Walker's comments in response to Rudy Giuliani's statements about President Barack Obama's "love" of America. Yesterday, Walker was asked about his credentials to take on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and his response is drawing a lot of criticism today:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Thursday said his experience undermining labor unions in Wisconsin has prepared him to take on the threat of the Islamic State in the Middle East.

"If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world," Walker told a packed crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference, in response to a question about how he would fight the terrorist group, which has killed thousands in Iraq and Syria.

Walker was referring to protesters who led an unsuccessful recall effort against him in 2012, after he proposed a budget that stripped Wisconsin's public sector unions of their collective bargaining rights. The protests lasted for months and catapulted Walker onto the national political stage.

Likening a vicious terror group currently the target of American airstrikes to the teachers and public employee union members who protested against Walker in 2011 might sound good to attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), but for everyone else it's evidence of either extreme cluelessness, or a malice toward fellow Americans who just happen to be union members that many would call disqualifying for higher office.

And ISIS/union comparisons aren't the only way Gov. Walker is failing to put his best foot forward:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) nearly $70 billion budget proposal deletes language requiring colleges to report their sexual assault statistics to new students and to the Department of Justice, Jezebel reported on Friday.

Well sure, after all, that rape story in Rolling Stone was a hoax! So the kids don't need to know about rape on Wisconsin campuses.

It's early, but Scott Walker is not off to a presidential start here–more of a Rick Perry start.

And we all remember how that ended.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Feb. 27)

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The dress is definitely bluish-brown. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Spock is dead.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

 

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Denver TV reporter goes too far in saying Obama “doesn’t like America” and has “contempt” and “disdain” for U.S.

(Yikes! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Julie Hayden.

Julie Hayden.

It's obvious to me that journalists should no longer be expected not to express opinions, even on the topics they cover.

But, sometimes, if journalists have opinions that are so extreme, so rude or out-of-step with everyday sensibilities, they should refrain from expressing them. And if they do throw out such opinions, reporters should recuse themselves from covering anything related to their extreme/rude/bombastic utterances.

To my way of thinking, Fox 31 Denver reporter Julie Hayden's repeated comments that Obama "doesn't love," doesn't even "like America" and, in fact, has "disdain" and "contempt" for our country, fall into the extreme/rude/bombastic category. And Hayden shouldn't be covering any story related to Obama, federal political issues, and, to be safe, any partisan political topic.

Hayden, who says she once voted for Obama and doesn't cover the president, has been trashing him on her Saturday morning radio show, "Wake Up with Chuck and Julie," which she co-hosts with hubby Chuck Bonniwell, on KNUS 170-AM.

On her radio show last Saturday, in the wake Rudy Giuliani's comments that Obama doesn't love America, Hayden even presided over a debate on the topic of whether Obama likes America, with Hayden and Bonniwell taking the side that he does not.

"To me, it just seemed so obvious he doesn’t like America, and, you know, I think has disdain for it and contempt," said Hayden a typical comment (Listen below at 20:50).

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GOP’s Self-Injurious Abortion Ban Bill Up Today

FRIDAY UPDATE: 9NEWS reports on the bill's eventual death Thursday on a 7-6 party line vote:

Thursday's bill was the second of three anti-abortion bills introduced this year. A bill to increase the regulation of abortion clinics was defeated in committee earlier this year. The third bill, banning partial birth abortions, is scheduled for committee debate next Tuesday.

HB15-1041 would make abortion unlawful with violations resulting in a class 3 felony. An exemption is made for the life of a woman, though exemptions for rape and incest are not included.

Testimony before the house judiciary committee was limited to three minutes due to the number of supporters and opponents signed up to testify…

When pressed by committee chair Rep. Daniel Kagan (D-Cherry Hills Village) about cases of rape and incest, supporters of the bill defended the non-exception saying that abortion often hides incest or causes the women affected to feel victimized twice.

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Photo courtesy NARAL.

Photo courtesy NARAL.

The Colorado House Judiciary Committee is set to debate (and barring unforeseen circumstances, to kill) House Bill 15-1041 Thursday afternoon, the bill sponsored by a number of House and Senate Republicans to make abortion in Colorado a class 3 felony. It's the same essential language that Republicans introduce in most legislative sessions, including and preceding now-U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner's bill to impose the same penalty on doctors who perform abortions in 2007.

A press release from NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado recounts the effort that organization is making, as in previous years, to ensure that the bill not only dies, but politically damages Republicans who sponsored and enabled it:

For the second time in two weeks, anti-choice legislators are wasting time in the General Assembly with HB 1041, yet another “personhood” bill that would ban all abortion and many forms of birth control. This comes after Colorado voters defeated a personhood measure by landslide margins in 2014 for the third time. The bill will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee Thursday afternoon…
 
In 2014, the voters of Colorado overwhelmingly reiterated a belief that they had previously declared in 2012, 2010 and 2008: they believe women have the right to make their own personal, private medical decisions about abortion and that abortion bans are wrong. This is a mainstream value held by the vast majority of Coloradans for decades.
 
The will of Colorado citizens is clear: they want to focus on the economy and other  issues currently affecting our state. Colorado voters appreciate the work being done to reduce the numbers of teen and unintended pregnancy by over 40% and in turn reducing the number of abortions by over 30%, but access to safe and legal abortion is still a necessity for many women.

As everyone knows, this legislation has absolutely no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee today, nor would it pass the House if it made it to the floor–and maybe not even the GOP-controlled Senate, where we have to think there is a moderate Republican vote left to stop a felony abortion ban bill. And of course, Gov. John Hickenlooper would veto it in the worst case. These simple realities have made even some Democrats complacent about opposing–and as a result, publicizing–continuing Republican efforts to ban abortion in Colorado.

Morally and politically, that's a huge mistake. In last year's elections, the principal response to Democratic attacks over reproductive choice from Republicans was that the "war on women" was overblown. Cory Gardner morphed from the sponsor in the Colorado legislature of the same felony abortion ban up for debate today to a supposed "champion" of access to birth control who had only voted for hypothetical abortion bans. Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, who in 2006 had promised to sign a total no-exceptions abortion ban as governor, tried to claim last year that he would not do anything of the kind. Republican surrogates and the Denver Post's editorial board told voters flat-out not to worry about abortion rights.

Well folks, what if Bob Beauprez had won? What if Republicans had picked up just a couple more House seats, and 2014 abortion ban co-sponsor Brian DelGrosso was now Speaker of the Colorado House? We're not talking about big margins in either case. If Democrats aren't out there every day extracting maximum damage from the GOP for these bills, reminding voters every time how close last year's elections were, and pushing back on the GOP's insistence that the "war on women" is mythical with this irrefutable proof that it is not mythical at all…if they're not doing that, they're not doing their jobs. And they'd be missing a priceless opportunity.

Because in addition to being politically expedient, making these bills costly for Republicans at the ballot box is the only way to make them stop.

Friday Open Thread

"The hardest thing in life to learn is which bridge to cross and which to burn."

–David Russell

John Boehner is Losing It

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

boehnerkiss

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

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

Watch the video:

“Dr. Chaps” Laments Death of His Bills (In Song)

9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman captured this remarkable moment on the floor of the Colorado House today, featuring the endlessly entertaining Rep. Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt belting out a procedural motion to the tune of Paul McCartney's Yesterday:

Now I'm in the well, asking why they killed my bills.
Must we read? The journal reminds me of my ills.

What words can we add to this? None, folks. We've got nothing. But we kind of love it.

Take action now to protect Colorado’s land, water, and people

A task force of experts, industry representatives, and citizens appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper to study the conflicts between local communities and oil and gas drilling submitted their final report Tuesday. Unfortunately, industry representatives on the task force stalled any attempt at real reforms to give local governments a say in oil and gas permitting decisions. This issue is becoming critically important for more and more Coloradans each day as hydraulic fracture drilling, or “fracking,” pushes oil and gas development closer to homes and schools along the Front Range.

Colorado Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, one of our state’s foremost progressive leaders, is disappointed that the task force failed to recommend meaningful reforms and has said in news reports that the legislature may need to take action on its own. Take a moment right now to send a message to Speaker Hullinghorst–tell her you’ve got her back as she fights for local control over fracking in Colorado.

This isn’t a fight over “banning fracking.” This is about giving local communities a voice in regulating a heavy industry operating within their boundaries. This is about preserving the rights of homeowners and families to safeguard their health and property. And it’s past time for our elected leaders to get serious about solutions.

Tell Speaker Hullinghorst you’ll stand with her as she takes the next steps to sensibly protect Colorado’s land, water, and people. We’ll share your names and comments with the Speaker’s office, the press, and other public officials.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (Feb. 26)

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We've installed fresh batteries in the Colorado Pols Quadruple Doppler (with cheese), which is predicting as much as 10 feet of snow today. Or maybe less. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

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

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

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

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Yes, Bennet’s Keystone XL Triangulation Is Stupid

Sen. Michael Bennet

Sen. Michael Bennet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senate Close to DHS Budget Deal; Republicans are Screwed

kenbuckonthebutton

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

As Politico reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Localvores, Pick Up Your Forks! Oil and Water Don’t Mix.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

By @ColoFarmFood, crossposted at ColoradoFarmFood.org 

Attention has been focused on Denver, as Governor Hickenlooper’s Oil and Gas Task Force finishes its work, mostly avoiding the contentious issues that surround the industrial realities of oil and gas—noise, pollution, traffic, and impacts to land and existing uses—which led to its formation 18 months ago. 

Many of Colorado’s farmers, and the farm-to-table restaurants, craft breweries, wineries and sundry other businesses along those lines, meanwhile, were thinking instead of the weather.  Glad for snow, and the hope for a decent water year.

But watching the weather on the advent of spring does not mean many were not also watching what came out of the Task Force, and paying attention to oil and gas development generally, especially where it impacts or threatens business and operations.  And they always have an eye on their water.

Earlier this month concerned valley residents packed the Paonia High School to learn about and comment on the proposed Bull Mountain natural gas drilling and fracking project planned in the headwaters of the North Fork of the Gunnison River, and the source of most of the area’s irrigation water. 

GRAND JUNCTION SENTINEL 2/11/15

PAONIA — North Fork Valley residents are rallying again to try and stop oil and gas development involving tens of thousands of acres, but in this case face a daunting challenge because the land already is leased.

Some 200 people turned out at a Bureau of Land Management meeting at Paonia High School regarding SG Interests’ plan to drill up to 146 natural gas wells in the upper North Fork Valley, with many in attendance indicating their concern about the project.

…Residents Tuesday voiced concerns including possible air and water impacts, heavy truck traffic on Highway 133, the potential for harm to the Paonia area’s burgeoning organic farm industry, and whether the local economic benefits are enough to justify the risks. 

…“There’s no reason to use clean water for dirty energy extraction,” Jere Lowe, who owns a local organic farming supply company, said Tuesday.

 

The Bull Mountain Master Development Plan proposes almost 150 new natural gas wells.  In addition to their potential impacts on the valley’s water supplies, they would lie along the world-famous West Elk Scenic Byway in the heart of its aspen country.  

From there, public lands—many that could face future oil and gas development—stretch across Clear Fork Divide, Springhouse Park, Mamm Peak, and over into the Battlement Mesa area, where residents are raising similar concerns. 

GRAND JUNCTION SENTINEL 2/24/15

Among those concerned about both her water and the earthquake risk are Williams’ mom and Gardner’s aunt, Alberta Payton. She lives on a ranch that has been in her family since 1892, and uses her well for drinking and domestic uses. It’s also used to provide water for cows on her property.

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