Get More Smarter on Friday (March 27)

Get More Smarter

Stop telling your out of state friends and family about our perfect weather, they’re moving here too fast! It’s time again 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…

► Former Taliban prisoner Bowe Bergdahl charged with desertion, but the story has some twists that could complicate things quite a bit if true:

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl told the military he left his unit in eastern Afghanistan in July 2009 intending to walk to the nearest U.S. military outpost to report wrongdoing, believing he could not trust his own commanders to deal with his concerns, according to sources familiar with the Army investigation. It is the clearest indication yet of the motive behind his decision to leave his post.

Bergdahl was planning to report what he believed to be problems with “order and discipline” in his unit, a senior Defense official tells CNN. A second official says Bergdahl had “concerns about leadership issues at his base.”

This information is part of the report presented to General Mark Milley who this week decided to charge Bergdahl with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. This information outlines what could be a key part of Bergdahl’s defense, which the army is already aware of.

► In Washington, D.C. political news, iconic Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada will retire in 2016.

► Early 2016 states may be giving Ted Cruz the stink eye.

► Turning to Colorado, Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt’s latest outrageous–possibly most outrageous everremarks about the horrific fetal abduction case in Longmont last week are sending his fellow Republicans running for cover.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Leaving local TV news for Politico, Stokols looks forward to never being told “that’s too inside baseball”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Eli Stokols.

Eli Stokols.

Eli Stokols, who came to Denver as a general assignment reporter in 2005, is leaving KDVR-TV Fox 31 Tuesday as one of the state’s top political reporters. He also became a Fox 31 anchor, launched his own public-policy TV show, and wrote nonstop on multiple platforms.

I had coffee with Stokols, and we talked about his ten-year run in Denver and his future job at Politico in Washington DC. Here’s an edited version of our conversation:

Why Politico?

Stokols: I’ve been looking for an opportunity to report on politics from a national platform. I don’t think that’s any secret. And, frankly, part of that is because in Colorado you get a taste of doing that, because every campaign here is nationalized. There is no shortage of great political stories to cover here, which helped me to broaden my work. You come to a point in your professional career when you need a different challenge. On some level, because I’d been here for so long and was considered one of the veterans, a lot of people come to you with information, and it gets easier. And you can find yourself not working as hard because stuff comes to you. Or you find yourself not as excited when the campaign cycle comes around because you’ve done a ton of them.

And what are you going to do there?

I’m going to cover 2016, mostly write about it. I imagine I’ll cover a lot of the presidential candidates early on.

On the trail?

Yeah. I’ll be traveling a lot. That’s going to be exciting. I’ve been joking with people. It’s about time someone gives up statehouse reporting and goes and covers the presidential race, because what America really needs is more reporters covering the presidential race. You understand going into it that it’s going be hard to come up with stories and angles, but it’s exciting. It’s probably a cliche, but if you’re a political reporter, and that’s what you’re interested in, the opportunity to cover a presidential race and be on the trail is a bucket list thing.

Speaking of the state legislature, will Fox 31 replace you?

The upshot is, this was never a position we had because management said we had to cover politics. I don’t know what they will do. [See CJR’s Corey Hutchins’ take on this here.] It’s disappointing. You get this opportunity, and then you leave. And you look at what you built. And I know [9News political reporter Adam Schrager] felt the same way when he left. You want it to continue. And so it’s bittersweet.

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Dr. Chaps calls attack on pregnant woman a “curse of God upon America”

(A new low for Dr. Chaps – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE 3/27: Denver media offered near saturation coverage Thursday of the Klingenschmitt controversy, including multiple interviews with Klingenschmitt, who refused to apologize. On KOA radio’s morning news today, the state representative from Colorado Springs said:

“If you were offended because I quoted the Bible in church, I ask you to forgive me. But I will not apologize for quoting the Bible in church.”

Klingenschmitt was interviewed in the Capitol basement by Fox 31’s Eli Stokols, who reported that the Republican lawmaker was “adamant that what he says as a preacher on his Sunday morning program should be viewed separately from his work as an elected official.”

“I’ve said many times that I wear two hats; and on Sundays, I’m an ordained minister and I preach the gospel and I quote the bible,” [Klingenschmitt] said.

Klingenschmitt directed his own outrage at Hullinghorst and Democrats at the Capitol who have blocked personhood measures that, he argues, would afford adequate justice to Wilkins for the death of her unborn baby.

POLS UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reports on bipartisan outrage over Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt’s latest ugly remarks–but no calls from fellow Republicans to resign.

Several leading Colorado Republicans lashed out Thursday against state Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, saying his act-of-God comments about an attack on a pregnant woman whose baby was cut from her stomach were “disgusting” and “reprehensible.”

The lawmaker, who also is a minister, quoted the Bible in his “Pray In Jesus Name” program Wednesday and tried to link the crime to abortion…

“Gordon does not speak for his caucus,” said [Rep. Polly] Lawrence, the House assistant minority leader.

Steve House, the new chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, said Klingenschmitt under the First Amendment has the right to say what he wants but “he does not represent the Colorado Republican Party.”

Original post follows.

—–

You had the feeling it was just a matter of time until Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt said something, in his position as a lawmaker, that was so grotesque that it should be widely reported and thoroughly condemned. That time arrived today.

The progressive organization Right Wing Watch reported that Klingenschmitt said in an online video that the horrific attack on a pregnant woman March 18 in Longmont is a “curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb.”

It’s a statement along the lines of Pat Robertson blaming abortion and gays for 9/11, and it has the effect of casting Republicans–not just Klingenschmitt–as being completely heartless and cold-hearted mean–unless they thoroughly denounce it. But will they?

Right Wing Watch reported this morning:

On his “Pray In Jesus Name” program today, Klingenschmitt discussed the story and tied it to a passage from Hosea in which God curses the people of Samaria for their rebellion by declaring that “their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open.”

“I wonder if there is prophetic significance to America today in that scripture,” he said. “This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb and part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open”

Friday Open Thread

“We cannot change anything until we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”

–Carl Jung

Gardner promise: Obamacare replacement will be “ready to go”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

The Hill’s Sarah Ferris reported today that Obama is mocking Republicans for claiming to have an alternative to Obamacare, when they obviously don’t.

Five years after the passage of his signature healthcare law, President Obama took a jab at the Republican Party for still lacking its own plan to replace it.

“We have been promised a lot of things these past five years that didn’t turn out to be the case,” Obama said at a White House event marking the healthcare law’s progress. “Death panels. Doom. A serious alternative from Republicans in Congress.”

Colorado’s Sen. Cory Gardner is one of the Republicans whom Obama is mocking. Asked if Republicans would have a plan ready if the Supreme Court rules against the health care law in King v. Burwell, Gaardner said on Fox News Wednesday (at 2:30):

“I think the Republicans not only will have a plan but something the President will accept, because it’s something we have to do,” said Gardner, citing the efforts of GOP Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, Louisiana’s Bill Cassidy, and Nebraska’s Benjamin Sass.

“Republican’s will have a plan in place if the ruling is for the plaintiffs. Our plan will be ready to go,” Gardner said.

The replacement will be ready to go? If that’s true, why has it taken so long? And why wait for the Supreme Court’s decision? Gardner has been voting for the repeal Obamacare for years.

He even advocated for the government shutdown, in an effort to defund the health care program.

So Reporters should hold Gardner to his latest Obamacare-replacement promise, even if the justices uphold the health-care law. It will be ready do go, Gardner promised, so I’d think reporters would be looking forward to seeing it, one way or the other.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 25)

We’re not going streaking! 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…

► The state Senate has approved a school vouchers bill that would also give tax credits to home-schoolers. FOX 31 News gives a brief rundown, with everything you need to understand about this bill wrapped up in one sentence:

As public schools continue to lose funding, many Republicans are now looking to subsidize parents who choose to send their kids to a private school or home-schooling.

That makes…no sense whatsoever. Even if Sen. Kevin Lundberg muscles this nonsense through the Senate, the grown-ups in the State House will almost certainly reject the idea.

► Reporters at the Colorado Springs Gazette could be fired for speaking out against a 4-part series in the Gazette that is little more than a long, extended, editorialized rant against voter-approved legal marijuana. The Colorado Springs Independent has been doing a good job following the controversy from various angles:

According to national media reporter Jim Romenesko, employees at the Colorado Springs Gazette are being told to sit down and shut up when it comes to its recent marijuana series, “Clearing the Haze,” which, as we reported, is plagued with ethical problems.

Learn more about this growing controversy (pun intended) from longtime Pols reader Zappatero.

► Congressional Republicans are nearing final votes on a budget plan that has no hope of becoming law, but they’re doing it anyway because otherwise they’d have to, you know, govern or something. National media outlets are calling this a “make-or-break” week for Republicans; the smart money is not on the “make” side.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Wednesday Open Thread

“Rage only works if it is justified. That’s the trick with rage. You gotta have a reason to be mad.”

–Sam Kinison

Dems, Common Sense Score Small Victory

drivers-license

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 24)

Get More Smarter

Sorry folks, we’ve been filling up on Vitamin D this Spring Break. It’s better late than never 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…

► It’s apparently a significant story on cable news today that Ted Cruz switched to country music after 9/11. Reportedly he was a classic rocker before that terrible day:

“I actually intellectually find this very curious, but on 9/11, I didn’t like how rock music responded,” he said. “And country music, collectively, the way they responded, it resonated with me.”

Okie dokie then.

► In other Cruz news, no one is happier about his presidential aspirations than Hillary Rodham Clinton.

► President Barack Obama is delaying the withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan. Our thoughts are with affected troops and their families.

► For the first time in almost seven years, child poverty is down in Colorado. That’s really good news, because what this economic recovery needs most is to be felt by more kids.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Reefer Madness at Colorado Springs Gazette

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

reefermadness

Colorado Springs is the conservative capital of our dear state. The Gazette, having been revitalized by tons of conservative cash, has been the public spokeswrap and parttime watchdog of the long list of conservatives who made their base here and took their, ummm, special kind of conservatism to Denver and DC. And, as long as I’ve been here, the Gazette has had a SuperConservative Wacko Bird in the Op-Ed Editor position. 

Most notable was Sean Paige, a much smarter conservative than Doug Lamborn, and a much more dangerous conservative than Jon Caldara. He’s slightly less self-promoting than P.T. Barnum, but don’t ask him about that. 

The current Op-Ed Editor at the Gazette is Wayne Laugesen, a former editor of “Guns and Ammo”.

Yes, you read that right.

He does his job and, as with Paige, you can usually write the “I’m agin’ it!” editorial from the headline before reading. It’s doubtful Anschutz has to order his guys to do stuff as Dean Singleton has surely done with the Post. 

But now it looks as if Laugesen has done a really stupid thing as the Gazette goes all “Reefer Madness” on the citizens of Colorado and their perfectly logical desire that marijuana be legalized.

Well, this is embarrassing. It looks like the Gazette accidentally published a bloated anti-marijuana opinion column as news.

To its credit, “Clearing the Haze” does have a vaguely menacing presentation — and, ooh, parallax — but if the organization had any sense of journalistic ethics, the four-day series would never have hit the page.

Let’s start with the way news is supposed to work. The Society of Professional Journalists says reporters should “avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.” …

It’s probably not fair to hold the Gazette to such a standard, because it publicly espouses no such intention, but let’s just do it anyway. Let’s clear the haze.

The four-day series was written by three people: Wayne Laugesen, Pula Davis and Christie Tatum.

None of these people work for the news division of a newspaper. Laugesen and Davis are members of the Gazette’s editorial board, which has written so many diatribes against cannabis, all compositions led by Laugesen, ownership is practically screaming in the woods.

The CS Indy asked some good questions. And got no answers.

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Adams County GOP Chair Says Whites Are Tricking “the Black People”

(Um, yikes? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

adamsgop

KLZ 560-AM’s morning show’s Randy Corporon gets a BigMedia gold nugget for having a liberal guest on the show regularly, messing with the familiar reverberations in conservative echo chamber of talk radio.

On Thursday’s segment of “Have a Liberal for Lunch,” the liberal, Dane Torbenson, told “righty” host Corporon that institutional racism is still a problem in America.

The echo chamber quivered with rarely heard sound waves, stimulating Adams County Republican Chair, Anil Mathai to phone in and say elite whites are using African-Americans as pawns in a war against whites.

“This is a reverse racial discussion being driven by elite whites, especially by those who have never lived in the city, those who have no clue about what black people have to go through,” Mathai told KLZ Wake Up Show listeners. “And the black people [are] also being tricked into this racial discussion, because bitterness is a destructive thing. It’s a good thing to have this discussion, but the reality is, this is racially motivated from the reverse side.”

Who are the whites that are tricking “the black people?” The whites in the Ferguson police department? Which is rotten with systemic racism, according to federal investigators? I’d like to see a list of whites who are tricking “the black people” into thinking there’s racism out there. Will I be on the list for linking to a federal-government report documenting racism?

If blacks were allowed on the list of people tricking the black people, it looks like President Obama would be on it, if you listen to Mathai.

The Adams County Republican leader said we have “a black president and a black attorney general and such, and we’re more diversified than ever before in American history, who’s pushing a racial agenda, a reverse racial agenda.”

“That’s not being discussed,” he said.

If he doesn’t think that’s being discussed, then he needs to listen to more talk radio, which is full of it. It’s the other side, the fact-based side that’s usually missing from talk-radio land. And for its being there for a change, we have Corporon and his liberal guest Torbenson to thank.

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