Americans Die, @ColoSenGOP Yucks It Up

SS El Faro, American cargo ship believed sunk.

SS El Faro, American cargo ship believed sunk by Hurricane Joaquin.

NBC News reports on the increasingly desperate search for the SS El Faro, an American-flagged cargo ship lost at sea during Hurricane Joaquin somewhere between Florida and the coast of Puerto Rico:

A cargo ship missing since Thursday with 33 crew members board was believed to have sunk 15,000 feet in the teeth of Hurricane Joaquin, which began strengthening and moving closer to its path almost as soon as it set to sea…

The Coast Guard planned to focus on findng “people in the water,” Fedor said. “We are not looking for the vessel any longer.”

The 790-foot ship, the El Faro, was likely swallowed by the Category 4 hurricane two days after it left Jacksonville, Florida for San Juan, Puerto Rico. When it set off on Tuesday, Sept. 29, Joaquin was just a tropical storm with wave swells of 7.5 feet and sustained winds of 65 mph.

Hurricane Joaquin.

Hurricane Joaquin.

The Chicago Tribune reports on damage assessments just beginning to take place in South Carolina, after moisture from Hurricane Joaquin collided with a cold front headed southeast across the United States to create a “1,000-year flood event.”

Charleston Mayor Joe Riley said he’s never seen flooding as bad in his 40 years as mayor.

“This was a record storm,” he said. “You know the amount of rainfall that we have experienced is unprecedented. I feel very fortunate that we were able to get through this as well as we have.”

At least seven weather-related deaths have been reported since rains began spreading over the Eastern Seaboard, which appeared to dodge the full brunt of Hurricane Joaquin as it veered out to sea.

It’s an horrific situation for the families of American merchant sailors awaiting word on the fate of the El Faro, and the citizens of East Coast states who have lost their lives in this massive storm. Coloradans still recovering from 2013’s devastating floods along the Front Range have some idea of what folks down there are going through today.

But unfortunately, the Colorado Senate GOP Majority Office is rather short on empathy.

While most of America, especially official America is expressing condolences to the families of the dead, the official Twitter account for the Colorado Senate Republican Majority is laughing it up–about a supposed “hurricane fizzle” that they think discredits those darned “climate alarmists.” Never mind that the storm appears to have killed several dozen Americans, on the El Faro and on the East Coast. To the Colorado Senate GOP, that the hurricane’s most damaging winds have moved away from the coast after sinking an American ship and killing Americans in South Carolina “rains on [the] parade of ‘extreme weather’ hucksters.”

In short, the Colorado Senate GOP’s desire to score political points via Twitter has now trumped common decency at a very basic level. Does Senate President Bill Cadman approve of this? Because it surer than hell reflects on him.

And in an objective, nonpartisan sense, it’s really disgusting.

Clinton’s Colorado Campaign Ramps Up, Tackles Big Issues

Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton.

As the Colorado Stateman’s Vic Vela reports:

Volunteers for Hillary Clinton’s Colorado campaign this week received an education in “how to win a caucus 101,” laying the team’s groundwork for winning votes that won’t be cast for another five months.

“If we win Colorado, that puts Hillary in the best possible position to win the Democratic nomination,” Brad Komar, Clinton’s Colorado campaign lead, said in a call to volunteers Tuesday evening. Komar invited the press to listen in during the call…

In an interview with The Colorado Statesman following the call, Komar said many Colorado Democrats who have lived in the state for a long time know the caucus system “like the back of their hand.” But others might not have lived here or been eligible to vote in 2008, the last time a competitive Democratic caucus was held here — the same year then-candidate Barack Obama defeated Clinton for the nomination.

Komar, who ran Gov. John Hickenlooper’s successful re-election bid last year, said the organizing effort is just getting started but adds that Clinton has built-in advantages here.

“Hillary has a lot of institutional support in Colorado,” he said. “We have a lot of elected endorsers, just a lot of folks who want to help her. And that’s important in a caucus.”

Sources tell us that Colorado is taking a major role in Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s caucus and general election campaign strategy. Despite a summer of Republicans throwing the proverbial kitchen sink at her, Clinton remains the broadly-anticipated Democratic nominee for president, and her campaign views the caucus in Colorado as an opportunity to organize rather than any kind of political make-or-break. A press release from Clinton campaign chair Brad Komar today announced Hillary’s campaign leadership team in Colorado, headed by a face you’ll recognize:

“Coloradans are pioneers who collaborate from instinct,” said Governor Hickenlooper. “We were the first state where the people gave women the right to vote. That is why we are excited to finally crack that glass ceiling by electing Hillary Clinton as the first woman president of the United States.  From fighting for the rights of women and children across the world as Secretary of State to helping create SCHIP as First Lady which now provides health insurance to 8 million children, Hillary Clinton is a champion that has delivered results.”

That’s right–the same Gov. John Hickenlooper who made headlines last week after tossing out some throwaway speculation about the extremely well-publicized private email server Clinton used while serving as Secretary of State. Hick pulling his foot out of his mouth long enough to sign on to Clinton’s leadership council should help put that gaffe in its proper perspective. That’s Hick for you.


At Least She’s Not Your County Commissioner

Blount County (TN) Commissioner Karen Miller.

Blount County (TN) Commissioner Karen Miller.

It’s been awhile since we refreshed one of our longest-running features here at Colorado Pols: “At Least They’re Not Your Legislator…”

For today’s example, we take you to Blount County, Tennessee, where this is happening tonight:

A Tennessee county plans to take up a resolution begging God for mercy and asking that the deity not smite their community “like Sodom and Gomorrah” because of the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage.

The “resolution condemning judicial tyranny and petitioning God’s mercy” was written by Blount County commissioner Karen Miller and will come up for consideration at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Miller’s resolution claims the “so help me God” part of the oath taken by lawmakers means they are committed not only to upholding the U.S. Constitution but also “higher Natural Law.”

As such, the resolution calls on lawmakers throughout the state “to protect Natural Marriage, from lawless court opinions, AND THE financial schemes of the enemies of righteousness wherever the source AND defend the Moral Standards of Tennessee.”

Hat tip to Pols reader BlueCat for the story.

Get More Smarter on Monday (Oct. 5)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218The Broncos are undefeated, and the Rockies are finally done flailing away. 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).


► State Sen. Tim Neville is officially in the race for U.S. Senate, but that hasn’t prevented Republicans from continuing to seek out another potential candidate for 2016. As you can tell from this story in the Loveland Reporter-Herald, people are just throwing darts at walls at this point. Heck, things are so fluid that Dan Caplis is even doing his annual “maybe I should run for Senate” thing.

But back to the Loveland Reporter-Herald…here’s the best sentence of the entire story:

[Justin] Smith said in a previous  Reporter-Herald story that if elected, the issues he plans to tackle are the economy, national safety and international policy.

Why doesn’t Smith just say this instead: “If elected, I promise to focus on issues.”


► Vice President Joe Biden may decide on a 2016 Presidential bid as soon as this weekend. As Politico reports, confidants of Biden are starting to think he’s leaning toward getting into the race.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Tim Neville Wastes No Time, Announces for U.S. Senate

U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, left, and Tim Neville Saturday in Denver. Gardner had been pushing Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler as his preferred candidate for 2016, until Brauchler dropped out last week.

Over the weekend, the U.S. Senate campaign of Colorado Sen. Tim Neville kicked into high gear after (presumed, we didn’t see any photos) launch on Thursday–though perhaps delayed by Thursday’s mass shooting incident in Roseburg, Oregon. Either way, on Friday Neville’s new Senate campaign Twitter account announced his run, and Neville attended GOP fundraising events in Denver and in Jefferson County over the weekend. In Denver, he had his photo taken alongside U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (above). In Jeffco, he served up barbeque with close political ally Sen. Laura Waters Woods:


As we’ve noted in the past, one of Neville’s biggest strengths in the 2016 Senate primary is a strong knack for “retail politics.” Neville is very much at home in one-to-one interactions with prospective voters, and is by all accounts an energetic field campaigner who will tirelessly knock on thousands of doors in search of the votes he needs. Combined with a strong conservative reputation that has already preceded him with a large percentage of Colorado GOP primary voters, it’s a big reason why the race for the Republican nomination is, as of this writing, Tim Neville’s to win.

We would kind of like to know what he’s thinking in that photo with Sen. Gardner, though.

Monday Open Thread

“We all know what Parliament is, and we are all ashamed of it.”

–Robert Louis Stevenson

This Week in Rhetorical Nonsense

John Andrews.

John Andrews.

Listen up, Polsters, we need your ideas!

Politics is full of ridiculous rhetoric, of course, but some diatribes stand out more than others for sheer absurdity. For example, check out the opening paragraph from an email we received this week from John Andrews, outgoing director of the Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University:

Conservatives put the USA first, liberals the UN. This week’s spectacle at Turtle Bay reminds us why. Another divide: conservatives think character is destiny, liberals think biology is. That led to what may be the mainstream media clunker of the year, aimed at, but deflected by, the Formidable Fiorina. Read on & smile.

Is that some fantastic rhetoric, or is that some fantastic rhetoric? (that’s a rhetorical question). We’re almost positive that this is written in the English language, and we have a rough idea of what Andrews is talking about here… but even after multiple readings, this is still difficult to understand.

We’d like to start a new weekly feature whereby we spotlight some of the best rhetoric we can find, and we need your help. First off, we need a name for this feature, so please fire off some ideas in the comments section below. Please also send us your favorite rhetorical nonsenses whenever you find them by emailing us at

Let’s get rhetorical in here!

Get More Smarter on Friday (Oct. 2)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Uh, anybody seen Tim Neville? 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).


► Is Colorado the future? Newsweek magazine seems to think so, and is devoting its next cover issue to the idea that Colorado is a microcosm of the future of politics (we know, we didn’t realize Newsweek still printed a magazine, either).

► The debate over whether or not Silverton should receive a Superfund Site declaration, which would free up funds to help clean up scores of polluted mines, continues to center around the idea that Silverton has a reputation to uphold anyway. There are about 629 residents of Silverton, but clean up polluted mines could protect tens of thousands of people downstream. You can probably guess where Rep. Scott Tipton comes down on the matter.

Over at POLITICO Pro (behind the paywall), an increasingly bleak assessment of GOP chances at winning Colorado’s 2016 U.S. Senate race after the party’s top choices have all bowed out:

“Not a single person in the current field has a snowball’s chance of defeating Bennet or even giving him a serious challenge,” said one prominent Colorado Republican, but still expressed hope that a “credible candidate” could still be recruited…

But a very long list of possible candidates circulated through Denver this week — including, Ryan Frazier, who lost a 2010 congressional bid, state Senate President Bill Cadman, state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, state Majority Leader Mark Scheffel, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith. “It’s literally back to the drawing board,” said Laura Carno, a local GOP activist.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Tipton Screws Thousands To Save Silverton’s “Reputation”

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

As the Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports, the longstanding debate over how to clean up heavy metal minewater pollution into the Animas River, which took on added urgency after the Environmental Protection Agency accidentally triggered a huge spill of polluted water into the river in August, is starting to expose real gaps between who is genuinely interested in solving the problem–and, well, not:

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton on Thursday expressed concerns with the prospect of federal officials moving forward with a Superfund listing for Silverton near the inactive Gold King Mine.

A divide has emerged over the Superfund question, with some residents and officials of Silverton worried the listing would be a stain on the community. Silverton and San Juan County officials in August clarified their perspective, suggesting that they are open to a listing but that they have not “foreclosed any options.”

In comments before the U.S. Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, Tipton, a Cortez Republican, stated: “Designating Silverton a Superfund site … could severely damage the town’s reputation and prove costly to the local economy.” [Pols emphasis]

Downstream along the Animas River, which flows out of Silverton (population 629) and through communities of tens of thousands of people in southwest Colorado and northwest New Mexico, there’s a lot less concern about Silverton’s “reputation”–and more about their own health and their local economy. As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reported from the same Senate hearing:

“The spill makes clear the piecemeal approach of the past isn’t working,” Andy Corra, owner of 4Corners Riversports in Durango, said of cleaning up mine contaminants in southwest Colorado. “It’s an ongoing problem. We need a comprehensive approach to cleaning this up.”

Corra, who favors Superfund designation in the area of the spill, said his business saw a roughly $30,000 loss in revenue after the disaster.

“As a business owner, it makes me reluctant to invest in the future if this is going to happen again,” he said.

Animas River fouled by minewater spill near Silverton.

Animas River fouled by minewater spill near Silverton.

One of the reasons that Republicans lurched into overdrive attacking the EPA following the accidental spill of millions of gallons of minewater into the Animas River was the perceived need to deflect from the underlying true cause of the disaster: pollution that had been building up for years since the mines were closed while mine owners dickered and pointed fingers at each other. Talk about protecting “Silverton’s reputation” from the blight of a Superfund designation is largely a cover for local and multinational corporate desires to resume hard-rock mining in this area. Obviously, if the federal government is spending millions to clean up old pollution, it would be a bit of a problem to create new pollution through renewed mining.

And this is where you realize just how completely Rep. Scott Tipton has abandoned the best interests of the vast majority of his constituents along the Animas River. There’s no question in Durango and points downstream about what’s needed–whatever resources necessary to prevent another devastating minewater release. The way to do that is to bring in the “big guns” to clean up the mess in a comprehensive way. And in the United States of America, that means the EPA’s National Priorities List–a.k.a. the Superfund.

On a purely political level, to choose mining companies and a couple hundred holdouts in Silverton over tens of thousands downstream is stunning to us. Has CD-3 really become such a safe seat for Tipton that a he can disregard the health and safety of an overwhelming majority to keep so few people happy?

It shouldn’t be, folks. It should never be.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (Oct. 1)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Today is October 1st, which means you can stop watching your inbox for more fundraising emails…at least for a few weeks. 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).


► So, uh, how about that Tim Neville, eh?

The big political news in Colorado is the surprise announcement yesterday from Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler that he will not seek a U.S. Senate seat in 2016.

As we reported last week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) was actively pushing Brauchler’s candidacy to top Republican donors and influential politicos, and Sen. Cory Gardner was personally making introductions for Brauchler. At the same time, we also know that Brauchler had been getting a chilly response from some top GOP donors, and state Sen. Tim Neville’s full-steam-ahead Senate campaign no doubt concerned Team Brauchler as well.

Republicans are left scrambling now, trying to figure out if Neville is their guy or if they need to try to convince someone else to run as their third fourth fifth (?) choice. Meanwhile, the NRSC has added to its legacy of failure in Colorado when it comes to pushing their own candidates. Brauchler joins Gale Norton, Pete Coors, Bob Schaffer, and Jane Norton as DC-backed Senate candidates who went nowhere in Colorado.

► Congress waited until the last minute to make a deal, but at long last funding appears to be (relatively) secure to complete the Aurora VA Hospital project. From the Denver Business Journal:

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that will further fund construction of a $1.7 billion Department of Veterans Affairs medical campus in Aurora, as well as an overall spending package that will keep the federal government running until mid-December.

The VA funding bill hit a speed bump Tuesday in the form of an amendment introduced by Rep. Jeff Miller, a Republican of Florida and the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. Miller’s amendment sought to take $200 million from VA bonuses to help fund the project, which needs another $625 million to be fully funded…

…But Miller backed off that amendment early Wednesday, after members of the Colorado Congressional delegation stressed the point that stopping work on the project would increase the costs even more.

It should be interesting to see how much credit Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) tries to take for this last-minute turnaround…particularly after he was taken to the woodshed earlier this week by House Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller. The real credit for this effort goes to Senators Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner, who acted when Coffman and others would not.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Even David Harsanyi Can’t Defend It

David Harsanyi.

David Harsanyi.

David Harsanyi was a conservative columnist for the Denver Post for many years. Up until his departure from the Post to take a job with Glenn Beck’s budding media empire in 2011, we had a few occasions of fun times calling out Harsanyi for making silly factual errors and living a life of walking, talking hypocrisy. And of course, once he went to work for Glenn Beck, we pretty much stopped whatever residual taking seriously of him we had ever engaged in.

But we will take note of Harsanyi’s column in The Federalist yesterday, in which he almost rips apart the House GOP’s embarrassing show trial of Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards this week. It begins promisingly enough:

If for some reason you needed additional evidence that the Republican Party was deeply incompetent, unprepared, uncoordinated, inexcusably lazy, then try watching Cecile Richards’ appearance in front of congress yesterday.

Zing! But this is David Harsanyi, so don’t let that initial red-on-red snarkiness fool you:

Now, I get that these kinds of hearings are normally a waste of time, but in this instance the GOP had some good reasons to project competence. This is, after all, the issue that’s generated so much tension within their party of late. An effective showing—something resembling a smart prosecution—might have allayed a bit of the percolating discontent. Yet there they were, facing a CEO whose organization performs vivisections on humans and harvests baby brains, and the best they could do most of the time was throw her softballs or ensure her martyrdom…

It’s worth pointing out that, unlike most of the GOP members of the committee, Richards actually earns her salary. She exhibits impressive composure and rhetorical discipline, never wandering off her chosen focus for too long, and basically does everything someone like Jim Jordan does not. The Ohio rep looked like he was about to hop over the podium grab her by the arms and demand answers. The optics were horrible, and the trivial gotcha that made him act like a transmuting Bruce Banner—whether Richards had actually apologized for the video tapes or not— was also irrelevant.

He could have tricked Richards into acknowledging she had lied when she said that Planned Parenthood “never claimed” to offer mammograms? That would have taken preparation and research rather than yelling. Republicans never, setting aside all the hysterical parsing of the media, got Richards to admit that Carly Fiorina’s comments regarding human fetuses being delivered intact and alive during abortions was irrefutable.

To be clear, this “criticism” is loaded up with pseudo-extenuating hooey. Planned Parenthood conducts breast exams and files the necessary referrals for mammograms–which means that cutting off their funds could certainly cut off access to that procedure if even they’re not done in Planned Parenthood’s offices. And while David Harsanyi may have an interest in running cover for Carly Fiorina’s blatant falsehoods regarding the content of doctored undercover videos attacking Planned Parenthood, basically nobody else does.

Overall, though, reading Harsanyi’s column on Tuesday’s disastrous hearing evoked sympathy from us. It must indeed be frustrating to watch your partisan allies make such profound fools of themselves on national television, then be required to opine about it in a way that preserves at least some of their collective dignity.

We couldn’t do it.