“Dr. Chaps” Says The Lord Will Heal You, So Quit Worrying

Raw Story's Eric Dolan with another preview of what awaits us on next year's Colorado House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee–Rep.-elect Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt, just weeks from taking office, gives us his prescription for health care reform:

“We ought to look to the Lord for our health care,” Klingenschmitt said during his PIJN News program [Thursday].

“He said, ‘If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you,’” he continued, quoting Exodus 15.

“Isn’t that inspiring? I personally prefer to look to almighty God as my healer and not to the government as a substitute god or substitute healer,” Klingenschmitt added, before praying. “Father in Heaven, we turn away from the idolatry that so many have in their hearts, that they think government is a better healer than Jesus. But, Jesus, we know you are the healer.”

Also, "Dr. Chaps" says it's time to repent for worshipping President Obama "as a god." But that's just a sidenote–think of how much money the state of Colorado is going to save by shutting down Medicaid and letting The Lord take care of people's health care! That's a health reform plan which, if you think about it, has worked very well throughout history–including the entire period of history before we had health care.

Once again: Chaps should be a joke. In any other context, he would be a joke. But he's not. He's actually been appointed to the Colorado House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee. Which means that before you laugh at Rep.-elect Chaps again, there will a be a period of time in which he will be no laughing matter.

Okay, you can still laugh a little.

Associated Press Expands State Government Reporting

Good news here in Colorado and around the country: The Associated Press is beefing up its state government reporting. From "The Definitive Source," the AP news blog:

Building on The Associated Press’ unmatched presence in all 50 U.S. statehouses, we are adding to our competitive advantage by creating a team of state government specialists.

As announced today to the AP staff, the specialists will collaborate with statehouse reporters, as well as on their own projects and stories focused on government accountability and strong explanatory reporting. Their over-arching goal will be “to show how state government is impacting the lives of people across the country,” said Brian Carovillano, managing editor for U.S. news.

Here's how Carovillano explains what this means in terms of how state government is covered by the AP:

Let’s say there’s a trend emerging from several statehouses that our folks on the ground identify. The state government team will work with reporters in those states — and with the data team, if necessary — to bring depth and a national perspective to that issue and show how it’s playing out across the country.

They’ll be a resource to our statehouse reporters looking for help broadening the scope of their reporting, and a projects team that will partner with folks in the states to pursue bigger and more ambitious enterprise on the business of state government. And the focus really needs to be on how that impacts peoples’ lives. We don’t cover state government for the state government; we cover it for all the people of the state. The message here is that state government coverage is essential to AP and its members, and we are doubling down on that commitment, which should benefit the entire cooperative. [Pols emphasis]

This is good news all around, but particularly in states such as Colorado where the number of reporters covering the state legislature alone has dwindled to just a handful of people in the last 5 years. As we've seen in the aftermath of the demise of the Rocky Mountain News, there are fewer and fewer reporters able to focus on state government stories that really do affect a majority of Coloradans — whether they realize it or not. Robust reporting is crucial to maintaining good government and keeping a watchful eye on our elected and appointed officials.

Auctioning Access: You Think This Was a Bad Idea? Maybe?

AG-elect Cynthia Coffman.

AG-elect Cynthia Coffman.

Associated Press reports–oops!

A Colorado business group on Tuesday said it would back out of a lunch with the state's new attorney general after questions were raised about it winning the meal at an auction.

The Colorado Automobile Dealers Association won the lunch with Cynthia Coffman after bidding $500 at an auction at the Colorado Lincoln Club's holiday gathering, which it hosted at its Denver offices last week. On Tuesday, however, association president Tim Jackson said he would give the lunch away to another organization or person. He said the group bid on the meal solely to help out the Lincoln Club and did not need special access to Coffman, a Republican…

The auctioning of access to Attorney General-elect Cynthia Coffman by the GOP-aligned Lincoln Club of Colorado's annual holiday party was originally reported last week by the Colorado Statesman's Ernest Luning. And Luning reports that Cynthia Coffman was not the only Republican politician selling off personal access at this party:

The top bids went for lunch with State Treasurer Walker Stapleton after two competing consortiums, led by former Secretary of State Mary Estill Buchanan and Lincoln Club board member Barb Piper ramped bidding up to $725 for the honor, at which point Wiens and Stapleton decided he’d have lunch with each group for that sum…

The club also auctioned off lunches with state Sen.-elect Tim Neville, R-Littleton, and state Rep.-elect Kit Roupe, R-Colorado Springs, who was joined by neighboring state Rep.-elect Gordon Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, to sweeten the deal. State Rep.-elect Jon Keyser, R-Evergreen, was called away on duty with the Air Force Reserves so was unable to take part in a planned live auction, though lunch with the new lawmaker was sold in the silent auction.

As for Tim Jackson and the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, according to Luning he did have an agenda for his lunch with AG-elect Coffman, before the whole idea of it became…well, you know, scandalous:

Jackson told The Colorado Statesman that he plans to take the opportunity to discuss the importance of automobile dealerships with Coffman, part of a continuous outreach effort with policy-makers and elected leaders. A full 20 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue is generated from the sale of new and used cars, Jackson noted…

Well now! That would have been rather productive lunch after all. Of course, no one is alleging that the Republicans who auctioned access to themselves to the highest bidder did so for personal financial gain. But just so everybody's clear about what the Lincoln Club is, from their own "About Us" page:

The Lincoln Club of Colorado is Colorado's oldest Republican Organization.  Based on the humanitarian principles of President Abraham Lincoln and founded in 1918, the club's mission has always been to promote the educational and social programs of the Republican party and to support the election of Republican candidates.

Bottom line: it may not be illegal, or even unprecedented, but the optics of lobbyists bidding for access to GOP politicians to fund a GOP campaign organization are about as bad as it gets–and CADA was wise to immediately cancel once word got out about it. If the other GOP politicians named in this story have any sense, they'll follow suit quickly.

Luis Toro, executive director of Colorado Ethics Watch, said he did not know if the meals were legal, but he said it was inherently questionable. "It is literally paying for access," he said. [Pols emphasis]

Next time, just hold an old-fashioned fundraiser.

“Dr. Chaps” Makes GQ’s “20 Craziest Politicians”

UPDATE: Rep.-elect Klingenschmitt keeps the hits coming post-election, Right Wing Watch:

On Friday's "Pray In Jesus Name" program, Gordon Klingenschmitt was trying to make the case that male-on-male sexual assault in the military has increased as a result of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and, in doing so, pointed to former Petty Officer Third Class Brian Lewis, who testified last year about having been assaulted when he served in the Navy.

Of course, the assault against Lewis took place back in 2000, more than a decade before DADT was repealed, so we are not sure how that helps to prove Klingenschmitt's point. Nonetheless, he demanded that the military reinstate DADT in order to push gay people "back in the closet, [Pols emphasis] especially if they're so flagrant that they want to violate one another when they're openly serving."

—–

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

In the just-released January 2015 issue of GQ magazine, there's a freshly updated list of "America's 20 Craziest Politicians"–updated, we assume at least in part, because Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt has won his election to represent Colorado Springs in the Colorado General Assembly. Coming in at #8 in this national list of political freaks and ghouls, here's what GQ has to say about the Colorado GOP's new unwanted poster child:

JUST HOW CRAZY?

Has repeatedly bragged about performing a gay exorcism (he's a former Navy chaplain) to rid a woman of "the foul spirit of lesbianism," and also tried to perform a long-distance exorcism on President Obama because of something about the NSA. Believes that Obamacare "causes cancer" and that Obama's former FCC chairman was driven by the Devil to "molest and visually rape your children."

ACTUAL THING HE SAID:

"Father in Heaven, we pray against the domestic enemies of the Constitution, against this demon of tyranny who is using the White House occupant, and that demonic spirit is oppressing us."

FUN FACT:

Calls himself Dr. Chaps, which is not the least bit creepy.

How crazy? That crazy, America! Our readers know all about "Dr. Chaps," but each new segment of the American public introduced to him gets to experience the rude shock all over again. It remains bewildering to us how much national coverage "Dr. Chaps" is getting–while the local media basically ignores Klingenschmitt, and the fact that he won his election by almost 70% of the HD-15 vote.

But in January, Honorable Representative Klingenschmitt will be harder to ignore.

House Republicans Announce Committee Assignments

Rep. Janak Joshi (R).

Rep. Janak Joshi (R).

A press release from the Colorado House GOP Minority Office today announces that party's assignments to legislative committees fot the 2015 session. Some interesting selections here to say the least:

Today, House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland) announced committee assignments for members of the House Republican caucus.
 
“We are fortunate to have so many talented new and returning members in our caucus,” said DelGrosso. “Our members’ wealth of knowledge and experience from the private sector will be an invaluable contribution to the legislative process and help us achieve a more prosperous Colorado.”

In terms of "knowledge and experience," some of these committee assignments make sense. Rancher and miner Don Coram is a good fit as ranking member of the Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee–much more so than fellow committee member J. Paul Brown, who allegedly transported horses to Texas for slaughter before the practice was outlawed. Likewise, former Ford Aerospace VP Rep. Bob Rankin should serve well as ranking minority member of the House Appropriations Committee.

One appointment we can't say anything good about, however, is Rep. Janak Joshi as ranking member of the House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee. For those who don't know, Rep. Joshi was once a practicing physician, but was forced to surrender his medical license in 2008 after refusing to take remedial training–following a determination by the State Board of Medical Examiners that Joshi failed "to properly evaluate and adequately treat a patient." To say that Joshi is unqualified to serve as ranking GOP member on this important committee is, depending on how forgiving you are of medical malpractice, a considerable understatement.

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

In other news, Rep.-elect Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt drew an assignment to the same House Health, Insurance and Environment Committee, where presumably he will advise on how Obamacare causes cancer and exorcism is a worthwhile treatment for all kinds of ailments? "Dr. Chaps" was also appointed to the House Local Government Committee–please don't ask us why, because we have no idea.

There are plenty of other appointments here that could prove entertaining next session: Lori "Chickengate" Saine as ranking member of Local Government, or Libby Szabo as the top Republican on the Business Affairs and Labor Committee. We'll have to wait and see who among these makes headlines first and why.

But for Democrats, safe to say this will be, like Tom Cruise said in Top Gun, a "target-rich environment."

Jenise May’s Soft Landing a Win-Win

Rep. Jenise May (D).

Rep. Jenise May (D).

Lynn Bartels at the Denver Post reports that outgoing Rep. Jenise May, narrowly unseated this year as part of an anomalous Adams County "mini-wave" for Republicans, is taking an advisory job with the House Majority staff where her experience can remain useful:

May said she wouldn’t have taken the position if she didn’t think she could be “helpful or productive” for the House Democratic caucus. She’s a retired state employee who served as deputy director of the Colorado Department of Human Services, and most recently was one of six members on the powerful Joint Budget Committee.

The Democratic majority's fiscal expertise took a hit with the loss of Rep. May this year to Republican JoAnn Windholz. There's nothing untoward about retaining Rep. May's skills for the upcoming session, and there is precedent for the rehire of outgoing legislators–more often term-limited legislators, trying to compensate for the continuous loss of institutional memory term limits result in.

In this case, it's an expert legislator who wasn't supposed to lose.

ALEC: Keeping Kevin Lundberg Relevant (Among Other Things)

ALEC_Logo

David Weigel writes at Bloomberg Politics about an organization we've talked about quite a bit in this space, possessing a great deal of underreported influence in the Colorado General Assembly–the right wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which just concluded its annual meetings in Washington:

"I'm fairly satisfied with the oil and gas industry's treatment," said Colorado State Senator Kevin Lundberg. "When they're doing it for themselves, they do a good job."

It's December 5, and Lundberg is standing in the emptying ballroom of the Hyatt near Capitol Hill. The American Legislative Exchange Council's 2014 Washington summit, a post-election tradition, has just ended after a speech by former Secretary of Interior Gale Norton, who now runs an eponymous firm that helps businesses overcome "regulatory challenges." Lundberg, whose Republicans took back the state Senate in November's races, is telling me the story of how a drilling company once goofed on his family's  property — they put up two wells after fumbling the first one — then fixed it themselves. That contrasted with the ways national and local Democrats had tangled up businesses.

"One of the first things [former governor Bill] Ritter did was expand the oil and gas commission from nine to 13 members — oh, and by the way, he got to appoint the extra four — and regulation got tighter and tighter," recalled Lundberg.

The Coloradan, unsurprisingly, was very representative of ALEC membership's mood. The 2014 elections were very good to Republican state legislators, and to the party's state attorney general candidates…

The article goes on to discuss a host of new ALEC policy initiatives to "fight back" against regulation of the energy industry. As we've discussed before, ALEC has a highly influential role in policymaking in the Colorado legislature, a role set only to grow as longtime ALEC member and incoming Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman prepares to take over one chamber of the General Assembly next month. ALEC's friendlier climate in Colorado next year, as with so many states where Republicans made significant gains in this year's elections, comes despite the fact that the organization is hemorrhaging corporate sponsors after years of scandal. ALEC's role in controversial gun legislation caused a major exodus of corporate partners in 2012, and more recently the organization's stance against climate change has alienated major tech company members like Microsoft, Facebook, and Google.

Indeed, it seems the only place ALEC still wields much influence today is in Republican-controlled state legislatures across the nation. We can't speak for its role in other states, but in this state, ALEC has also been a haven for…there's no nice way to say this, some of the less effective members of the Colorado legislature–like Sen. Kevin "Crazypants" Lundberg, or former ALEC state co-chair Rep. Libby Szabo. Honestly, we've never been able to understand why ALEC doesn't get the kind of media attention in Colorado that it does in other states, especially as the organization's influence has become nationally scandalous.

But each new session is a fresh opportunity.

Air…Water…Health…and Accommodation.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Today and tomorrow Governor Hickenloopers' Blue Ribbon Panel on Oil and Gas policy is meeting in Rifle to discuss the future of drilling and fracking in Colorado. Not many people I know have high hopes this will result in any groundbreaking policy suggestions, but it could. If the Commissioners are willing to set aside a century old principle for a few minutes and consider that we are living in 2014 and not 1872…and that consideration points the way to only one conclusion.

It is time to effectively incorporate the Rule of Reasonable Accommodation into COGCC policy, taking into consideration the advances in technology and practices used by the modern extraction industry.

When Congress split mineral and surface estates in the 19th century, it was done for reasons that seemed appropriate and necessary, at the time. But times have changed, and it is imperative that the "Blue Ribbon Panel" understand and act upon those changes. Since the beginning of the separation of the two estates, the mineral estate has generally considered to be dominant. The rationale for the mineral estate being dominant was that the ownership of minerals would be meaningless if the mineral owner could not access and extract those resources through the surface. That seems reasonable enough, and for a very long time, difficult to argue.

With advanced technology, specifically directional drilling, the Rule of Reasonable Accommodation becomes a much more flexible vehicle. The Rule, as set forth in CRS 34-60-127, states:

"An operator shall conduct operations in a manner that accommodates the surface owner by minimizing intrusion upon and damage to the surface of the land."

As used in this section, "minimizing intrusion upon" can include "selecting alternative locations for wells" among other measures as long as they are "technologically sound, economically practical, and reasonably available to the operator". With modern drilling practices providing the industry with the capability to reach out, literally and laterally, for miles, there is no longer any need for an operator to sit atop or even close to a mineral resource in order to gain access.

(more…)

Republican Recount Agitation Fizzles

Marilyn Marks.

Marilyn Marks.

The Pueblo Chieftain reports today on a swift abort to talk of a paid recount of two (not really) close races there:

The local GOP had by the end of the day on Monday to deposit $17,000 into an escrow account to pay for the recount, a figure quoted to the GOP by County Clerk and Recorder Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz and disputed by the party.

Becky Mizel, chairwoman of the local GOP, said her members came close to raising the money and lamented that part of Ortiz’s quote included an outside consultant to be on hand to answer any questions about the tabulating machinery when the GOP asked for that during the actual election.

“Ethically, I can’t justify spending the hard-earned money of my membership on this,” Mizel said. [Pols emphasis]

This comes after a lengthy period of nit-picking by Pueblo Republicans and eccentric former Aspen mayoral candidate Marilyn Marks, who insisted without evidence–even as they appear to have not hurt Republicans a bit–that mail ballots were wreaking havoc with Colorado elections.

Likewise, the Denver Post's John Aguilar reported this morning about a push to recount Adams County races we first broke word of last Friday:

Gary Mikes, chairman of the Adams County Republican Party, said Monday he suspects that invalid ballots were turned in by voters during the Nov. 4 election in the race for House District 31, in which Democrat Joseph Salazar ended up with a 221-vote lead over Republican challenger Carol Beckler. The same goes for the Adams County commissioner race, in which Steve O'Dorisio, a Democrat, bested GOP candidate Joseph Domenico by 597 votes, Mikes said.

In an email to Adams County elections officials earlier today, Adams County GOP chairman Gary Mikes withdrew that request with an apology "for any inconvenience." As for Pueblo, the margins in the two races in question, one House race and the county clerk race, were significantly larger than the extremely narrow races in Adams County–which themselves still fell outside the allowable range for a recount paid for with state funds.

What we've heard, as with Pueblo, is that the "concerns" in Adams County boiled down to baseless James O'Keefe speculation about vote fraud, none of which has been substantiated anywhere, and as we've discussed at length would have been impossible to pull off due to the safeguards clearly outlined in last year's election modernization law. Overall Republicans did very well in this year's elections, to include surprisingly strong performance in traditionally Democratic Adams County. If anything, we can imagine why Republicans wouldn't want to start looking under rocks up there, lest they endanger some of their own close wins.

Bottom line: the real problem may be that reality in our elections this year completely failed to live up to conspiracy theorists' hype, and they've just been a little slow to catch on to this fact. But when it comes time to put your money where there mouth is, reality has a way of snapping back into focus.

Another Fake “Concerned Citizen” Celebrates Fracking

Longtime oil industry employee Michelle Smith.

Longtime oil industry employee Michelle Smith.

A press release from energy industry advocacy group Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development yesterday discusses a pro-fracking ad (above) that's been playing for a couple of weeks in Colorado:

Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development (CRED) has released a new television commercial featuring Michelle Smith, an organic based farmer from Elbert, Colorado, who relies on income from oil and natural gas development to help sustain her family farming operations. In the advertisement, Smith shares with viewers: 

“Mineral rights make all the difference to our small organic based farm.  Like many Colorado farm-to-table businesses, if we can’t offset operating costs with our minerals, then we’re out of business. Organic operations are expensive. People like us rely on those payments for their family’s healthcare or their kids’ education. An attack on fracking is essentially an attack on landowners like us. Those who would ban fracking ignore our rights, and that just gets my goat.”

…Beyond her message in the commercial, Smith has shared that “as a rancher in Elbert County, Colorado, my family’s livelihood relies on the quality of the pasture that our livestock grazes on. That’s why every decision I make, I make with my ranch’s future in mind,” she says.

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post gave this ad favorable treatment in a blog post last month:

A new ad promoting fracking in Colorado features an Elbert County couple who raises goats and farms organically.

The idea of pairing organic farmers and fracking comes from Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development.

But there's more to the story of Michelle J. Smith, registered Republican of Elbert County, than either CRED or Bartels saw fit to explain:

The Quiat Companies is an innovative investment company, which is comprised of approximately fifty real estate and oil & gas holdings throughout the United States…with over 33 years of professional experience in the oil and gas business, Ms. Smith has been with The Quiat Companies since 1992 focusing on acquisitions, divestitures, and coordinating successful drilling joint ventures. [Pols emphasis] As Land Manager, she is instrumental in managing the nationwide assets of our fifteen oil and gas limited liability companies.

Ms. Smith’s professional experience includes Davis Oil Company (Denver, Colorado) and Anderman Oil Company (also in Denver) as well as acting as an Independent Land Negotiator. She is the president of the National Association of Royalty Owners (NARO) Rockies chapter, a member of the American Association of Petroleum Landman (AAPL), Denver Association of Petroleum Landmen (DAPL), board member of Vital for Colorado and a graduate of Cypress College (California).

Just a salt-of-the-earth Colorado farmer–an organic farmer at that–trying to hold down the farm, right? Wrong. Much like the Republican political activists trotted out by Americans for Prosperity to tell their dubious "Obamacare horror stories," "organic farmer" Michelle Smith is about as unbiased a source on fracking as an oil and gas industry lobbyist–which makes sense, since she basically is one.

Your friends seeing this ad on TV probably ought to know that.

Dr. Chaps’ alleged friendship with Rand Paul raises questions

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), state Rep.-elect Gordon Klingenschmitt (R).

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), state Rep.-elect Gordon Klingenschmitt (R).

Maybe you think Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt, who will be joining the Colorado General Assembly in January, is easy to ignore because he's so far out there, given his comments about performing lesbian exorcismsObama is a demon, etc.

But if you believe Klingenschmitt, he's got at least one friend in a high place. That would be GOP presidential hopeful Rand Paul.

In an April broadcast of his regular "Pray In Jesus' Name News," Klingenschmitt tells us (9 min 25 seconds into it) that he's friendly with the Kentucky Senator.

"Help pass Senate Bill 583, The Life Begins at Conception Act," Klingenschmitt urges his three listeners, not counting me. "This personhood bill, introduced by my friend, Senator Rand Paul, can actually defend life and overturn Roe versus Wade."

Nothing wrong with Dr. Chaps and Rand Paul being friendly. But you wonder, has Paul objected to Klingenschmitt's craziness?

And it raises the question of whether Klingenschmitt's soon-to-be legislative colleagues will speak up during the legislative session when, inevitably, Klingenschmitt grabs the media spotlight by opening his mouth.

Navy’s Discharge of “Dr. Chaps” Upheld

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Our friends at Right Wing Watch have the latest update today in the continuing story of Colorado's nuttiest Republican Representative-elect, Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt of Colorado House District 15. As followers of a story that has made the trip from fringe sideshow to poster child for the incoming Republican Class of 2014 know, Klingenschmitt is a former Navy chaplain who was discharged after (among many other things) wearing his service uniform to a political media event in contravention of specific orders. Klingenschmitt's discharge from the Navy became part of his campaign message, claiming it was the result of his "praying in Jesus' name" at a demonstration across from the White House in 2005.

Except it wasn't.

Gordon Klingenschmitt, the right-wing televangelist who recently won a seat in the Colorado General Assembly, built a career out of making wildly inaccurate claims about anti-Christian persecution in the U.S. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Klingenschmitt’s entire career as a conservative activist is also based on a persecution story that is completely made-up.

Klingenschmitt, who goes by “Dr. Chaps,” has based his political activism on his own personal story of persecution, claiming that the military censored and fired him because he said the name of Jesus in his prayers as a chaplain. He filed a lawsuit to protect his First Amendment rights and has used his story to win persecution points from the Religious Right and raise lots of money for his group, the Pray In Jesus Name Project.

But as Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State reports, Klingenschmitt lost his lawsuit last week…because the incident never happened.

As we’ve known for several years, Klingenschmitt was not dismissed for using the name of Jesus in a prayer, but for wearing military garb at a political event, in violation of military regulations, among other reasons that had nothing to do with the fact he delivered Christian prayers.

The ruling is worth a read all by itself, including an unflattering description of a Klingenschmitt fire-and-brimstone memorial service while serving aboard the USS Anzio, horrible reviews from fellow sailors–"worst CHAP I have seen in 17 years" reads one–and the details of Klingenschmitt's defiance of orders prohibiting him from speaking to the media in his military uniform. The court concludes:

[T]he Court finds unpersuasive Dr. Klingenschmitt’s argument that his First Amendment right to practice his religious beliefs was infringed by Captain Pyle’s Order that he not wear his uniform to the media event held in Lafayette Park in March 2006. Captain Pyle’s Order was based on Navy regulations that prohibit the wearing of a uniform in connection with political activities…

In short, the record fails to support a showing of any causal connection between any protected activity and Dr. Klingenschmitt’s separation. For that reason, and because his other challenges to the lawfulness of the recertification process are without merit, the Court concludes that the Navy’s decision not to recertify Dr. Klingenschmitt, which resulted in his administrative separation from the Navy, was neither arbitrary, capricious, nor contrary to law.

Klingenschmitt's troubles, based on our experience in the past years or so, would seem to have more to do with his own extreme combative ramblings than anything else. This is a man who claims that both Barack Obama and defeated Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis are "demons," and that only people who are "going to heaven" deserve equal rights from government. Klingenschmitt claims that "Obamacare causes cancer," and before apologizing suggested that Rep. Jared Polis wanted to "join ISIS in beheading Christians."

We always assumed stuff like that was coming out of "Dr. Chaps'" mouth in his Navy days, too.

The upside? Klingenschmitt's story should pair well with another Republican from Colorado Springs, Rep. Janak Joshi, who lost his license to practice medicine before being elected to the legislature in 2010.

Take pride, El Paso County! "Dr. Chaps" looks forward to representing you next.

Clock Still Ticking on the Greater Sage-Grouse

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Among the news-you-didn’t-hear leading into the holiday weekend, which got buried by other things—some worthy of attention and reflection, others the typical media noise—was a recent poll on the Greater Sage-Grouse.  It shows sportsmen in Colorado (and across the other 10 western state where the bird occurs) favor protecting its habitat. 

This is noteworthy as the federal government just announced it is listing the bird’s smaller relative the Gunnison Sage-Grouse as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  This story was posted online by the Public News Service – Colorado:

Earlier this month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it is classifying the Gunnison sage grouse as threatened. Under a court-ordered agreement, the agency will decide by next year whether to list the greater sage grouse.

Meanwhile the online news service ‘Environmental Protection’ reports:

The National Wildlife Federation on Nov. 19 released results from a poll of sportsmen and women in 11 states in the heart of greater sage-grouse country, with a majority of the respondents supporting efforts to protect the bird and the sagebrush landscape that supports it. A majority backed restrictions in important habitat to save the bird and avoid its placement on the federal Endangered Species List. Such a listing probably would lead to more stringent, long-term constraints on activities as hunting, fishing, recreation, and grazing, said John Gale, NWF's national sportsmen's campaign manager.

"First and foremost, it's critical that we save this iconic Western wildlife species," he said. "We can do that with strong conservation plans that protect key greater sage-grouse habitat while allowing responsible energy development, grazing, and other activities on other public lands."

He pointed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announcement last week that it is classifying the Gunnison sage-grouse as threatened to keep it from going extinct. The Gunnison sage grouse is smaller than the greater sage-grouse and now is found in portions of Colorado and southeastern Utah, which represent only 7 percent of its historic range, according to NWF.

The Durango Herald reported on the Colorado angle

According to survey results, nine out of 10 hunters believe it is important to take action to protect sage-grouse habitat. Almost as many believe protecting the animal will benefit other game species.

(more…)

Oh Frack! OPEC Calls Shale Bluff, Sends Oil Prices Into Free Fall

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

It seems that faced with declining profits of their own, as the frenzy to drill in American shale plays sent stockpiles skyrocketing and prices crashing, that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) decided to call the shale drillers’ bluff.  Reuters is reporting:

Saudi Arabia's oil minister told fellow OPEC members they must combat the U.S. shale oil boom, arguing against cutting crude output in order to depress prices and undermine the profitability of North American producers.

For at least a couple of years a few observers have pointed to how over-leveraged most shale-heavy oil and gas drillers are, that shale oil–no matter how abundant hydraulic fracturing makes it appear–is an expensive prospect that cannot sustain itself.  Over-leveraged with a need to drill more and more and more at an ever higher ‘break-even’ cost, some astute observers have noted that shale bears all the hallmarks of a classic ‘bubble.’

“In 2016, when OPEC completes this objective of cleaning up the American marginal market, the oil price will start growing again,” said Fedun, who’s made a fortune of more than $4 billion in the oil business, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “The shale boom is on a par with the dot-com boom. The strong players will remain, the weak ones will vanish.” 

As with bubbles in the recent past, shale contrarians have been met in the manner of all naysayers during halcyon days of hype and hucksters.  But many have nonetheless steadily insisted that shale is not the panacea and ‘revolution’ its barkers want those seemingly born daily to believe.  And now, it appears likely, that the other shoe is about to drop: the shale bubble is about to POP

Investors have wiped more than $50 billion off the value of Europe’s biggest oil companies after OPEC members rejected calls to cut their oil output. 

Go ahead, seems the message sent by OPEC, make our day: See how long you can “Drill, Baby, Drill” with a mountain of high-interest debt and oil prices collapsing. And as with bubbles in the past—like booms in the western energy fields—any observer of history should already know how it ends. 

The only question: will this be the time we learn better?

 

 

 

GOP Majority’s Priority One: Killing Colorado Jobs!

Sen.-elect Cory Gardner.

Sen.-elect Cory Gardner.

As the Pueblo Chieftain's Peter Roper reports, a story with great significance to Colorado's economy:

The federal wind power tax credit, which Vestas and other windturbine producers rely on to support sales, is back in the cross hairs of conservative energy groups that want it eliminated…

The wind credit was one of the high-profile issues President Barack Obama campaigned for in 2012, the last time it was set to expire, and bipartisan supporters in windpower states extended the tax credit through 2013 after that election.

That extension allowed Vestas and other windpower companies to enter multiyear production contracts that are still fueling production at their factories, including the Vestas plant south of Pueblo.

The Hill reports that national conservative organizing group Americans for Prosperity, which has a large budget in Colorado, is leading the charge against the renewal of the wind production tax credit:

The conservative Americans for Prosperity (AFP) is publishing advertisements pushing individual Republicans to oppose tax credits for wind energy.

The ads launched Monday in the hometown newspapers of 15 GOP representatives in eight states who have not given clear positions on the wind energy production tax credit since it expired at the end of last year…

“It’s important that these members go on the record to let their constituents know that even during the little-watched lame-duck session of Congress, they’re committed to opposing needless corporate handouts at taxpayer expense,” Brent Gardner, AFP’s top federal lobbyist, said in a statement Monday.

Americans for Prosperity played a significant role in get-out-the-vote operations for Republicans this year, and funded a lavish ad campaign in support for Sen.-elect Cory Gardner. With that said, at least on the issue of renewing the wind production tax credit, Gardner is not quite giving this Koch brothers-funded organization their money's worth:

A spokesman said Gardner noted the congressman backed the 2012 extension and still supports extending it again — but ramped down over time.

At least not yet! This isn't the first time that Gardner has had to thread the needle between supporting Colorado's renewable energy industry, which he is obliged to do as any kind of responsible representative of the state, and conservative dogmatic opposition to any kind of "government subsidy" of this or that particular energy source. Groups like Americans for Prosperity say they're for eliminating all tax credits and so-called subsidies of energy production and "letting the free market decide." It's a convenient position to take as long as actually stripping the traditional energy industry of its many tax credits and subsidies remains politically impossible, which it of course is. In the meantime, AFP can make their hypocritical case against wind power tax credits without appearing so colossally hypocritical.

All of which works fine in states that do not have thousands of jobs tied to the wind power industry. Here in Colorado, these tax credits have a direct, tangible value in high-paying manufacturing jobs–the kinds of jobs that support many more jobs. Jobs we can't afford to lose.

That is why Gardner wants to "ramp down" these tax credits to keep his benefactors happy–just not right now, for the sake of pesky constituents back home who depend on them. That might make mortgages and college educations harder to plan for, but now that he's Colorado's junior U.S. Senator, Gardner can straddle this issue without conseqeunce for at least a few years.

And that appears to be what the voters want, folks.