Get More Smarter on Monday (July 20)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Depending on where you stand on conspiracy theories, today is the anniversary of the day that the U.S. government released footage from the first pretend moon landing in human history. Let’s 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…

► There’s a lot of buzz today about State Sen. Morgan Carroll (R-Aurora) after her appearance on the 9News show “Balance of Power” on Sunday, where she provided a preview of her campaign for Congress in CD-6 against incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Coffman.

Today is inauguration day in Denver. Mayor Michael Hancock will be sworn-in for a second term, and many new city council members will also mark the official beginning to their first term in office.

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Morgan Carroll Takes Coffman To Task: “It’s On His Watch”

This morning, 9NEWS aired Kyle Clark’s latest Balance of Power interview with Colorado Sen. Morgan Carroll, who is running for Congress against Rep. Mike Coffman in the swing Sixth District. In today’s must-watch interview, Carroll gave an able preview of the issues in this race, demonstrating a willingness to go directly after Coffman that will cheer longsuffering Democrats looking to finally unseat him. Click here if the video below doesn’t appear:

Sen. Carroll begins by going through a long list of bad votes Coffman has taken over the years on a range of issues. At about the 3:40 mark, Kyle Clark turns the discussion to the drastically overbudget VA medical center project in Aurora, noting attacks Coffman has received from the left over his role as chairman of the oversight committee responsible for the project. Carroll doesn’t let Coffman’s first response to these criticisms, generally consisting of a photo of Coffman in uniform, stop her from calling him out as part of the problem:

CLARK: Let’s jump back to the VA hospital. There are some liberal groups, Progress Now included, that say Congressman Coffman shares some of the blame for the failures with that project. Do you agree with that?

CARROLL: I believe there’s a lot of blame to go around for everybody. The concern I have with this project is that it has been in the making for years. It is a broken promise to veterans. And so, Mike Coffman is on the oversight committee, and the time to ask questions when you’re overseeing public projects for veterans with taxpayer’s money isn’t after it’s already overbudget and behind schedule, it’s beforehand.

CLARK: So you’re saying he does deserve some of the blame for what’s happened.

CARROLL: It’s on his watch. It’s absolutely on his watch. It’s his responsibility, representing his district, and it’s happening on his watch. [Pols emphasis]

It’s one thing for a blog to write about it, or for an opposing political group to send out a press release. Carroll’s willingness to directly confront Coffman on his own responsibility for the Aurora VA hospital project means that for the 2016 campaign for CD-6, Coffman’s supposed “strong point” on veteran’s issues will not be off-limits. Coffman’s recent grandstanding on this project’s failures, downplaying his own role in oversight of the project, isn’t going to go unopposed. We’ve long believed that attacking Coffman where he is strongest, or at least thinks he is, will be absolutely necessary for Democrats looking to defeat him–as long as he draws an opponent who is willing to take his supposedly inviolate record on such issues head on.

Looks like Democrats might finally have one, folks.

Donald Trump Is An Unspeakable Asshole

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.

We’re going to take just a quick moment to note the latest offensive nonsense to emanate from GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s mouth:

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he does not owe John McCain an apology for saying the Arizona senator is only a war hero “because he was captured.”

Trump told Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week” that he won’t be pulling out of the presidential race over his comments, which he made Saturday during a campaign event in Iowa. Trump said he left to a “standing ovation” after speaking at the Family Leadership Council summit.

“When I left the room, it was a total standing ovation,” said Trump. “It was wonderful to see. Nobody was insulted.”

At this point, rational Republicans are turning on Trump in droves, even as he captivates the more excitable segments of the GOP primary electorate with his ability to offend, you know, just about everybody–something a fair number of angry white male ardent Republican voters wish they had the skyscraper-size pile of money Trump has to do the same with.

But seriously, attacking Sen. John McCain for being shot down over Vietnam, and held as a prisoner of war under conditions that Trump can’t even possibly imagine in all of his 24-addled psychotic torture-loving fantasies…it’s just too damn much, folks. It is totally unacceptable no matter how many billions and billions of dollars you have.

Since “The Donald’s” campaign is apparently a billion-dollar wrecking ball that can’t be stopped by anyone, we feel there’s an obligation for everyone of conscience to say so.

Woods Lets No Bogus FOX News Report Go To Waste

Yesterday, in the immediate aftermath of the tragic attacks on a military recruiting station and a separate reserve post near Chattanooga, Tennessee, Colorado Sen. Laura Waters Woods of Arvada swung into action on Facebook:

woodschattanooga

The biggest problem with this claim, says Media Matters for America, is that it isn’t true:

Four Marines were killed when a shooter fired on two military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Fox News reported that the attacks may be connected to ISIS because an ISIS supporter purportedly discussed the shooting on Twitter before it happened. Fox host Sean Hannity repeated the false claim on his radio show.

In fact, the tweet Fox News referenced was posted well after the shooting had already occurred. Mashable editor Brian Ries first pointed out the discrepancy.

On Your World, Fox’s chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge reported, “the last investigative thread I would mention at this point is that we’re taking a hard look at a Twitter account — an ISIS-linked Twitter account — that seemed to have foreknowledge of the shooting in Chattanooga. The tweet went out at 10:34 with the hashtag Chattanooga referring to American dogs and a likely shooting. This of course was about 15 minutes before the shooting took place.”

A few hours later:

At the end of the Factor, Special Report anchor Bret Baier clarified the timing of the tweet, saying that “all indications now are that it came out after the attack.” When O’Reilly asked if that meant the ISIS tweet story was “a bogus situation,” Baier replied, “yeah.” [Pols emphasis]

So much for that! Of course, the investigation into the Chattanooga shootings is in no way complete, and we would also be wrong to speculate about the shooter’s motives and affiliations. It’s true Sen. Waters Woods will probably need look no further than the shooters Arabic name, but that’s just not the proof positive a Tweet from before the shootings would be. Better to wait for investigators to do their jobs.

As for allowing military members to be armed “ALWAYS EVERYWHERE” (emphasis hers)? Excepting authorized forces on prescribed law enforcement duties, there are a lot of good reasons to not do that. Has Waters Woods run that suggestion by her excitable “liberty movement” friends tracking the Jade Helm 2015 military training exercise? Something tells us they might not like the way that sounds.

Bottom line: defund Planned Parenthood! Now back to your regularly scheduled program.

Get More Smarter on Friday (July 17)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Hey, it beats Getting More Dumber. Let’s 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 Aurora Theater Shooting trial lasted 49 days. The jury deliberated for less than 13 hours before returning with a “GUILTY” verdict on all charges (and there were a lot of charges — 165 in total). Next week, jurors return to the courtroom for the sentencing phase of the trial, as the Aurora Sentinel and the Associated Press report:

The verdict came after 2 1/2 years of legal skirmishing between prosecutors and Holmes’ public defenders and 11 weeks of grueling testimony. The upcoming sentencing phase could easily take another month.

“I’m glad we’re at this point, but at the same time, we have a long way to go,” said Marcus Weaver, who was injured in the attack and whose friend Rebecca Wingo was killed.

Experts say the sentencing phase could prove even more emotionally wrenching as survivors describe the impact of the shooting on their daily lives. It will be a harder decision for jurors, who will have fewer instructions to guide them, said defense attorney Karen Steinhauser, who is not involved in the Holmes case. That jurors swiftly rejected Holmes’ insanity defense doesn’t mean they’ll come to a speedy conclusion about his punishment.

All 12 jurors must agree on the death penalty for James Holmes; if there is even one dissenting juror, Holmes will instead be sentenced to life in prison.

► The Coffmangate Scandal is making waves nationally after a front-page feature story in the Washington Post on Thursday. Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Coffman turned in his worst fundraising quarter in nearly four years in reports filed on July 15.

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Friday Open Thread

“Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”

–Reinhold Niebuhr

BREAKING: Aurora Theater Shooting Suspect Found GUILTY

THE VERDICT IS IN: After roughly 13 hours of deliberation, the jury finds the defendant, James Holmes, GUILTY on all charges of murder. The trial will now move to a sentencing phase where Holmes will face the death penalty.

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UPDATE: The verdict is expected to be announced at around 4:15 p.m.

—–

We’re waiting, along with everyone else, for the jury’s announcement. From the Denver Post:

Jurors told Judge Carlos Samour Jr. at about 1 p.m. that they had reached a decision. The verdict will be announced in Arapahoe County District courtroom 201 at 4 p.m.

The Denver Post will live stream the announcement at www.denverpost.com/theatertrial. The Post will also provide live updates on a verdict tracker.

 

“Colorado Scandal”: Washington Post Digs Into Coffmangate

Washington Post, July 16, 2015

Washington Post, July 16, 2015

“You can’t stop it, you can only hope to contain it.”
       – Unknown origin

If you close your eyes and squeeze them tightly…if you hold your breath and hum loudly to yourself…for a few moments, then, you can make the Coffmangate Scandal go away.

But just for a moment.

In today’s Washington Post, the Coffmangate Scandal gets the full front-page, feature-length treatment, with 2,400 words from reporter Ben Terris detailing a story that just gets worse by the week for Colorado Republicans:

If House — who swiftly denied the affair allegations — has been bruised, so too has Coffman. The wife of Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.), she had been widely viewed as a likely contender for governor in 2018. Now commentators across Colorado are wondering aloud if the state attorney general committed blackmail.

“The allegations that have been levied against me, and I am the top law enforcement officer in the state, are criminal in nature,” Coffman said in an interview with Denver’s CBS affiliate. She fiercely denied wrongdoing and flat-out accused House of lying about the threats. (House declined to be interviewed for this story. Coffman and her staff members did not respond to multiple calls and e-mails.)

This was not how Republicans wanted to start the election cycle.

There is not a lot of new information in the Washington Post story, which is written as a blow-by-blow recount of everything that has happened with the scandal up until now, but it is still a must-read for politicos from Washington D.C. to Colorado. It also exposes a much larger audience to the scandal that is engulfing the careers of Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and her husband, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), making it damn near impossible for Coffman supporters to downplay the story’s significance.

[Click here for more background on the Coffmangate Scandal.]

Mike Coffman Has Worst Fundraising Quarter in Four Years

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Fundraising reports from the second quarter of 2015 are now becoming available publicly, and the most surprising figure we’ve seen thus far comes from the campaign of Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora).

From April through June, Coffman’s re-election campaign raised just $271,163, the worst quarterly fundraising amount from Coffman since Q3 in 2011.

In fact, Coffman has raised a total of just $615,065 in all of 2015. These are not terrible numbers for a Member of Congress, but Coffman hasn’t performed this poorly in fundraising since the boundaries of CD-6 were re-drawn in advance of the 2012 election. The numbers are particularly striking when you compare Coffman’s fundraising to that of Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver); Coffman was thought to be the GOP’s top challenger for the 2016 Senate race, yet Bennet has now raised $2 million in successive quarters. Heck, Coffman had a highly-publicized breakfast meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell back in May — you would think he would have picked up some big checks just because of that meeting.

It’s possible that the Coffmangate Scandal is really starting to impact Mike Coffman’s ability to raise money, or perhaps Coffman’s grandstanding on the Aurora VA Hospital is having an adverse effect on his public profile. Whatever the reason, it would seem that Coffman’s campaign was not exaggerating when it sent a fundraising email on July 8 that said “Mike is in trouble”:

Yesterday, Mike told you about our Democratic challenger, Morgan Carroll. And now, political analysts have changed this race to a “Toss Up” due to Carroll’s connections with big-spending liberal groups. That means Mike is in trouble — and we have to fight back now.

Rep. Mike Coffman's lowest quarterly fundraising totals since 2011, the year before CD-6 boundaries officially changed.

Rep. Mike Coffman’s lowest quarterly fundraising totals since 2011, the year before CD-6 boundaries officially changed.

 

 

 

Cory Gardner Helps Vote Down Anti-Bullying Bill


Sen. Cory Gardner.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

The Washington Post’s Lyndsey Layton reports on the defeat yesterday of an amendment from Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota to protect K-12 LGBT students from bullying and discrimination:

In its first vote affecting gay people since the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, the Senate Tuesday rejected a federal prohibition against discrimination and bullying in K-12 public schools based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Fifty-two Senators voted for such a provision, while 45 opposed it. But Senate rules required 60 votes, and the measure fell short.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), the sponsor of the amendment, had made an impassioned argument that gay and transgender students needed the same federal protections as other historically persecuted groups.

“If a black child was referred to by a racial slur at school, would we say kids will be kids?” Franken said on the Senate floor as debate began Monday. “If a Jewish student got beat up because he wore a yarmulke to school, would we wave it off and say boys will be boys? If a shop teacher told a female student she didn’t belong in his class, would we be fine if the school just looked the other way? No, we would not. In fact, there are federal civil rights laws that are specifically designed to stop this kind of conduct.”

As Buzzfeed’s Dominick Holden reports, there was bipartisan support for Sen. Franken’s amendment:

Introduced by Sen. Franken of Minnesota, the amendment before lawmakers on Tuesday had 42 sponsors, including one Republican — Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois. At least five more senators from the GOP — Sens. Kelly Ayotte, Susan Collins, Dean Heller, Lisa Murkowski, and Rob Portman — joined Kirk in voting for the amendment.

Missing from the list above of moderate Republican Senators who joined with Democrats to vote to stop LGBT student bullying is Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado. We haven’t seen a statement from Gardner yet explaining his vote, but the general excuse offered by Republican “no” votes seems to be that “the matter” of LGBT students being bullied is best “left to local school districts.”

Assuming that was Gardner’s reasoning as well, we can’t help but recall the recent controversy in Jefferson County, in which majority school board member Julie Williams posted materials on Facebook directing followers to join a protest against LGBT students on campus, and against teaching “children to support and embrace the unnatural and unhealthy homosexual-bisexual-transsexual agenda.”

Honestly, it’s hard to imagine a better argument to refute Gardner’s vote for “local control” of LGBT student bullying policies than Julie Williams. We’ll be very interested to see if local reporters ask Gardner to reconcile his vote with her behavior.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (July 15)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Bartels!!! Let’s 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…

► Veteran political reporter Lynn Bartels is taking a buyout offer and leaving the Denver Post and journalism after 35 years. Colorado is better off because of her dedication to political reporting.

► The Aurora Theater Shooting Trial concluded on Tuesday after 49 days. The 12-person jury begins deliberations today on whether or not they agree with the defense’s argument that alleged killer James Holmes should be declared not guilty be reason of insanity. If the jury agrees with the insanity plea, then Holmes will be remanded to a state mental hospital; if the jury finds Holmes to be guilty, the case moves to a sentencing phase where jurors will discuss the death penalty.

Colorado’s Republican Congressional delegation is going bananas over a foreign policy deal between the U.S., Iran and five other nations. Many, many Republicans immediately jumped to condemn the Iran deal — even if they admittedly hadn’t even read it yet.

 

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