An Open Letter to Hillary Clinton

Dear Secretary Clinton:

With all due respect, please consider a little advice from a 68 year-old white man who grew up in a working-class Illinois town not far from your hometown.  While I support Bernie Sanders, I’ve committed to vote for you if you win the nomination.  And since I’m not naive, it is pretty clear to me that you have the inside track on winning that nomination.  With that said, I want to offer some suggestions that will hopefully help you win by a large margin in November, regardless of who your opponent is.  So here we go.

You don’t have a messaging problem – you have a position problem.  Frankly, your positions on so many important issues are too vague and nonspecific.  Here are some examples and suggestions for improvement:

• Your position on fracking is ridiculous.  Just say you’re opposed to it.  It pollutes our air, threatens our water supply, and causes earthquakes.  Our planet can’t take any more abuse.

• Your support for a healthcare public option is so weak, it’s laughable.  Instead of suggesting that you would support individual state efforts (which are doomed to fail), state unequivocally that you will push for a federal public option during your first term.

• Stop pretending that you will be tougher on the big Wall Street banks than Sen. Sanders.  Nobody believes you when you say that.  Yes, I’m sure you have some good ideas that may differ from Sen. Sanders positions.  That’s fine.  But nobody is buying your current argument.  I would strongly suggest that you state in no uncertain terms that you will reinstate Glass-Stegall in your first term.

• Your attack on Sen. Sanders “opposition” to the auto bailout was so lame that it actually made you look desperate.  The voters aren’t stupid.  We know better than to think that Bernie would take such a position.  The fact that he opposed the idea of wrapping the auto bailout into the giant bank bailout bill rather than attaching it to the stimulus makes a lot of sense to a lot of people.

• State that you agree with Sen. Sanders’ goal of making college at state-supported schools tuition-free as well as his method of paying for it, a financial transaction tax.  Drop the line about not paying for rich kids to attend college for free.  Most people don’t care.  They figure rich kids go to Ivy League schools anyway.

• Put more distance between yourself and President Obama.  Yes, most of us think that he did a good job of bringing our country out of the financial mess of 2008.  But many of us also believe that he also has some major stains on his resume as President.  No banksters went to jail under his watch.  His trade deal is atrocious and needs to be soundly defeated.  His foreign policy positions are too hawkish for many.  I could go on and on, but I’m sure your advisers know the list of grievances by heart.

In closing, there is no doubt that you have secured the backing of African-Americans and most Latinos.  But you have a long way to go to secure the backing of older, white, working class voters like me.  In fact, you will probably have to fight just to get them to listen to your ideas if Mr. Trump is the Republican nominee.  But I do believe that you will ultimately secure the nomination and I really want you to win in November.  I’m just not sure that your Washington inside-the-beltway advisors are telling you what you really need to hear.

Is Michael Bennet Re-Electable?

I don’t know where ColoradoPols gets its numbers for “The Big Line -2016,” but I have a feeling that somebody is way off the mark when it comes to Sen. Michael Bennet’s chances of getting re-elected in 2016.  The most recent Quinnipiac poll showed voters say 40-32 percent that he does not deserve reelection in 2016.  If you go to his Facebook page and read his posts you may note that he spends a lot of time trying to work with Republicans.  There he is out in a wheat field with his pal, Koch-Republican Corey Gardner, touting  “bipartisanship the Colorado way.”  A little further down he proudly proclaims how he’s working with Voucher King, Orrin Hatch, to adopt successful educational programs and “invest in what works for kids,” a Republican code word for giving taxpayer money to for-profit corporations and charter schools.   Just read the comments that Colorado citizens write in response to Sen. Bennet’s posts.  People are angry.  And they’re fed up with being told that as a purple state in a center-right nation, it’s necessary for Democrats like Sen. Bennet to reach out to Republicans in order to get elected and, then reelected.  That’s nonsense.

The folks who publish this website spend a lot of time and energy telling us what we already know – that Republicans in Colorado are out to destroy public education, marginalize women minorities, and feed the rich at the expense of everybody else.  But I rarely see you take a fellow Democrat to task.  And if anybody deserves it, it’s Michael Bennet.  Just this year he has voted for a bill to build the Keystone XL pipeline and to override the President’s veto of that bill.  He has voted to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership bill.  And he has joined Senate Republicans to stifle the Obama administration’s efforts to secure a deal that would stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons.  I won’t be a bit surprised if he votes with Republicans again to kill the deal altogether.

Somebody needs to tell Sen. Bennet that he needs to start acting and sounding like a Democrat if he wants to get re-elected in 2016.  And I’m calling on the editors at ColoradoPols to do more, much more, to push him in that direction.  Colorado has already lost one Democratic senator.  We can’t afford to lose another.  But that is exactly what is going to happen unless Sen. Bennet changes his ways.  One can only hope it’s not too late.


Michael Bennet: What Are You Thinking?

I have to hand it to Senator Michael Bennet.  The guy has balls.  I mean, how else do you explain how the guy can:

• vote for the Keystone XL pipeline, then;

• vote to override the President’s veto of the same bill;

• vote to undermine the administration’s efforts to get a nuclear deal, and then;

• top it off by voting with Republicans in the Senate to fast-track this terrible trade bill, the TPP?

Pure balls.  He might as well just stand up and give the finger to all of the progressive voters who sent him to Washington in 2008.  I can only assume that he figures we’ll all be back in 2016 to rubber stamp his reelection bid.  And, not wanting to look too liberal in the eyes of all those “middle-of-the-roaders” back home, he’s decided to cast some votes with Senate Republicans on a few issues.

And while it might have taken balls to cast those votes, I’m not so sure that it took brains.  Because I believe that those decisions might just come back to haunt him and ultimately cost him his Senate seat.  According to a recent Quinnipiac poll of 1,049 Colorado voters, Bennet’s job approval is just 39%, and just 32% think he deserves to be re-elected.  Even among Democrat’s it stands at only 53%.  Even Mark Udall posted better numbers prior to his reelection defeat last fall.

What he’s doing is an old, Bill Clinton technique called triangulation.  He’s trying to position himself to look neither too liberal nor too conservative, hoping to attract voters closer to the center of the political spectrum.  But I think he’s taken it too far.  What that means is that he’s lost the support of those on the left – people like me.  He’s made the mistake of assuming that we will be there when he needs us.  But he’s wrong.  And, while he’s counting on getting center-right voters to come over to his side rather than vote for some ultra-right, Tea Party conservative, I believe he’s wrong again.  Those folks inevitably vote like lemmings for the guy with an “R” next to his name.

I have a funny feeling that what happened to Mark Udall is very likely to happen to Michael Bennet in 2016.  And if it does, the Colorado Democratic Party will deserve much of the blame.  Instead of kicking his ass, it appears that all they do is kiss his ring.  Some of them who have the Senator’s ear need to let him know that his voting record is killing his job approval with his base.  But they won’t.  And I can only conclude that they agree with him and with the positions he’s taken, which is one of the reasons why I left the Democratic Party.  If our elected officials are going to ruin our great country, let it be the Republicans who do it, without the help of Republican-lite, Michael Bennet.

Bennet votes with Republicans to Override Keystone Veto

Well, he did it.  Sen. Michael Bennet had the nerve today to vote with the Republican majority and a few other Democrats to try to override President Obama's veto of the Keystone XL pipeline project.  Fortunately, the effort failed.  I was holding my breath and hoping that Sen. Bennet would have the good sense to reverse his previous position and support the President on this issue.  But it appears that the oil and gas industry has more lobbyists and a lot more cash to hand out than I do.  I hope that the good, progressive folks who reside in our beautiful state get together and find someone to challenge Sen. Bennet in next year's primary, someone whose views better reflect the views of the people who put him into office.  Because, it is my personal belief that Sen. Bennet needs to go.  And I also happen to believe that he will go in 2016 one way or the other – either by being ousted in the primary by a more progressive Democrat (my wish) or by a Republican in the general election (my prediction based on how he is polling).  In any case, I plan to do whatever I can to continue to support progessive candidates and to expose "corporate" Democrats like Sen. Bennet.  Colorado deserves better.


The Senate narrowly defeated a bill calling on the President to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.  While the bill was introduced by Democratic Senator, Mary Landrieu, it got the vote of all the Senate Republicans and only a couple of Democrats.  But one of them was none other than our own, Michael Bennet.  Is this website going to even mention that fact?  Are you going to take a position on Sen. Bennet's vote.  I anxiously await your response.

Where are Udall and Bennet?

Twenty-nine senators signed a letter to President Obama recently urging him to leave Social Security and Medicare “off the table” when dicussing  budget cuts and deficit reduction with Republicans.  Their concern is that Obama will try to strike some kind of “bipartisan grand bargain” in an effort to avoid going off the fiscal cliff.  This sounds troublingly familiar and I hope the President does not go there.  But so far two important  names have not been affixed to that letter:  Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall.  So, I’m asking the two of you here to sign on now.  If you can’t do that, then please have the good sense to know that voting in favor of any kind of “hard-fought compromise” will be met with a huge backlash that will not be pretty for your political futures.  Just saying……

Union Busting in Douglas County

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

On Sept.5, the Douglas County Board of Education passed a resolution to no longer negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the teachers’ union, the DCF. This is just one more example of the nationwide Republican plan to break public employee unions. Some time ago the union asked the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to intervene in the dispute, but so far they have done nothing.  So the time has come to tell Gov. John Hickenlooper to direct the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment to intervene in the dispute as the union has requested.

That’s why I created a petition to Governor John Hickenlooper, which says:

“Gov. Hickenlooper, It is time for you to take a stand for workers’ rights by ordering the Colorado Dept. of Labor and Employment to intervene in the dispute between the Douglas County School Federation of Teachers and the DCSD Board of Education, and put an end to their union-busting tactics.”

Will you sign my petition? Click here to add your name:…  

Douglas County Teachers Need Our Help

I made a call on Wednesday to the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.  I wanted to ask Executive Director, Ellen Golombek, whether she plans to involve her office in the dispute between the Douglas County Board of Education and the teachers’ union, the Douglas County Federation.  The Federation has formally asked for their help.  This is how far I got:

Recording:  “You have reached the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment general information line.  If your call is regarding an unemployment insurance claim, please hang up and call 303-318-9000.  For all other questions, please press 1 now.”  (The message is then repeated in Spanish.)

I press 1.  It rings once, twice, three times, four times.  Oh boy, I’m finally going to get to talk to a live person!  My palms are sweating in anticipation.

Recording:  “You have reached the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.  If you are trying to reach unemployment, please hang up and call 303-318-9000.  You will not be able to leave a message at this time.  Please try your call again later.  Thank you.”

That was it.  So much for my input as a citizen.

But I was undaunted in my mission.  So I called the Citizens’ Advocate office in the Governor’s office and explained what happened to the nice person who answered the phone.  He took my name and number and promised that someone from the Citizens’ Advocate’s office in the Department of Labor and Employment would get back to me with a number to call.  Sure enough, Thursday morning there was a message waiting for me.  It was the phone number I was waiting for, 303-318-8020. With great anticipation I called it and this is what I heard:

Recording:  “You have reached the Executive Director’s office of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.  If your call is related to an unemployment insurance claim, please listen to this message in its entirely.  Otherwise you may bypass this greeting by pressing the ‘pound’ key now.”

Since my message was not related to unemployment insurance, I pressed the “pound” key.  This is what I heard:  

(BEEP…………………………..Silence).  Finally I realized that I was supposed to leave a message.  So I quickly gave my name, address and phone number and stated that I had two questions.  First, why can’t the Department of Labor and Employment have at least one person in their office who can pick up a telephone and answer a question?  Second, I want to know if Executive Director Golombek is going to involve the Department in the dispute between the Douglas County Board of Education and the Douglas County Federation since the Federation asked for her office’s involvement.

That was at 11:00 a.m. Thursday.

4:00 p.m.: Still waiting for that call back.

Friday, 4:00 p.m.:  Still waiting for that call back.

I guess you get my point.  They won’t be calling me back, today or any day.  And I find that very troubling for a couple of reasons.

The first is that this is a department of our state government that evidently doesn’t think it’s important to communicate with its citizenry.  Leave a message and we’ll get back to you (just kidding – we really won’t) is not my idea of being accountable to the public.  They can’t assign one person in the office to answer the phone?  Give me a break!

The more important question, however, has to do with the subject matter of my inquiry.  In the past few months, the Douglas County Board of Education has totally turned its back on any serious negotiation and interaction with their officially recognized employee union, the Douglas County Federation.  Most recently they have dropped their support of funding the DCF leadership positions and collecting union dues from employees.  The Federation has asked the Department of Labor and Employment to intervene in this dispute and has been met with as much silence as I have when I leave my telephone messages.

I don’t understand this.  Ellen Golombek, the Executive Director of the DLE is a former SEIU president and past president of the Colorado AFL-CIO.  She’s a union person.  She was appointed by a Democratic governor.

Ah, yes, the “Democratic” governor.  That would be John Hickenlooper, right?  Do you suppose he has something to do with Ms. Golombek’s silence on this issue?  Like his predecessor, Gov. Hickenlooper doesn’t appear to be a big supporter of organized labor.  Has he made a decision to just duck this issue, stay out of the limelight, and let the Republican school board in Douglas County break the back of this union?  Does he think that that’s the politically expedient thing to do?  It sure looks that way.

On Monday, I’m going to attempt to speak with Ellen Golombek in person in her office in downtown Denver.  I’m going to ask her if she plans to honor the request of the Douglas County Federation.  We’ll see how it goes.  In the meantime you can go to the Facebook page entitled, “SPEAK for DCSD” and read what folks in Douglas County are saying about the state of this once great school district.

Gun Control Not A New Issue

The issue of gun control is in the news a lot right now.  But gun control is not a new issue.  It’s been around a long time.  For example, in 1881, Tombstone, Arizona had an ordinance that prohibited anyone from carrying weapons within the town limits.  One day a group of cowboys, looking for a fight, flaunted their weapons openly around town, essentially daring the town marshal to take them away.  The town marshal at the time was a guy named Virgil Earp.  He took the bait and deputized his two brothers, Wyatt and Morgan, as well as an alcoholic gambler by the name of Doc Holliday, to join him in disarming the cowboys.  They found them loitering in an empty lot behind a local livery stable.  When the cowboys wouldn’t give up their weapons, the shooting began.  It became known as “The Gunfight at the OK Corral.”  Just thought you ought to know.

President Obama’s Call for Tax Fairness

President Obama just made his pitch to Congress and the American people to extend the Bush tax cuts for the middle class, but not for folks making $250K a year.  Mitt Romney and the Republicans promptly countered with their call to extend the Bush tax cuts for “all Americans.”  To which I say, “Wait a minute.”

Aren’t Republicans always whining that 49% of Americans don’t pay any federal income taxes?  If that’s the case, then “all Americans” will not benefit from extending the tax cuts across the board for everyone.  As I see it, a tax cut for people who don’t pay any federal income taxes is no tax cut at all.  I remember when the Bush tax cuts went into effect.  I joked that I was going to take my family out for a pizza with the amount of money I “saved.”  So if the cuts expire, we’ll have to do with a frozen pizza at home.  But letting those cuts expire for people making over $250 a year will do a great deal to bring down our budget deficit.

My guess is that Congressional Republicans are scheming at this minute to come up with a way to sabotage the President’s plan rather than find a way to compromise of this issue.  They will claim that his plan will raise taxes on the “job creators.”  To which I say two things.  First, one must learn how to speak in Republican code.  Whenever you hear them say, “job creators,” substitute the words “rich people.”  Then you get their real message.  Secondly, if the Bush tax cuts were supposed to create jobs, where are they?  Oh yeah, Mitt Romney and friends created them alright – in China and India.

As I understand it this plot is only going to thicken in the coming months.  Unless Congressional Democrats and Republicans can come up with a budget/deficit compromise in the next few months, there will be hell to pay come January 2, 2013 – at least if you’re a Republican member of Congress.  A so-called “sequestration” budget will kick in automatically.  The Bush tax cuts will expire and massive, automatic spending cuts will kick in.  The defense budget will be particularly hard hit with almost fifty percent of the cuts while Social Security and Medicaid would be spared entirely.  So my question to Democratic legislators is, “Who needs to ‘give’ the most in this situation?”  It seems to me it’s the Republicans for one very simple reason.

When the automatic spending cuts take effect in January, the biggest bite will come out of one of the Republicans’ most sacred cows, the defense budget.  Lots of useless projects will be scuttled and thousands of war profiteers will be out of work.  They may even have to cut back on their lobbying budgets and and their campaign contributions.  Oh, well.  As it stands right now, Republicans in Congress won’t even cut programs that the Defense Department doesn’t want, so let the automatic cuts do the work for them.

Finally, the most positive outcome of the sequestration will be to our growing budget deficit.  The deficit will shrink.  President Obama and Democrats in Congress can take credit for being the fiscally responsible ones in Washington.  And Republicans will face the prospect of some very unhappy constituencies back home.

So where is the pressure for any compromise in Congress when it comes to  the Bush tax cuts?  It doesn’t seem to me that it rests on the Democrats.  Let’s hope they stand their ground.

Mitt, Republicans and Medicare

I went on Medicare yesterday.  You know Medicare – the single-payer healthcare system for America’s senior citizens.  I like Medicare.  I gives me peace of mind – not just because I know I  won’t have to file for bankruptcy if I should someday get really sick and not be able to pay for treatment.  More importantly, I don’t have to worry that someday my kids won’t have to possibly choose between helping me pay for that treatment or helping their kids pay for college.  Mitt Romney and Republicans in Congress want to do away with Medicare as we know it.  They have already voted to approve the Paul Ryan budget in the House of Representatives which does just that.  Fortunately it couldn’t pass the Senate.  But Mitt Romney has said that as President, he would approve the Ryan budget.  If that happens, it’s good-bye Medicare.  I’m not rich enough to live in Mitt Romney’s America.  I hope more people realize that they aren’t rich enough either.

Let’s Stop the Legalized Bribery

I don’t know about you, but I am extremely concerned about the corruptive influence that campaign contributions are having on our political system.  As I see it, our current campaign finance system amounts to nothing more than legalized bribery.  So I am writing with a question, and perhaps a suggestion, about another way to approach the problem.

What I see happening right now is a battle between those who think there need to be limits placed on the donors and the recipients of campaign donations.  The idea is to stem the flow of cash going to politicians.  This is countered by those who think that such limits represent a curb on their “freedom of speech.”  And, in light of the recent Citizens United decision, it appears that they are winning the debate.

My question to you is, has anyone tried approaching this problem from a different direction – as a matter of ethics?  It seems to me that when a politician accepts campaign donations from a group or individual and then turns around and votes on issues that directly affect that group or individual, that represents unethical behavior.  So my proposal would be this.  Through the ballot initiative process, pass a law that requires a politician to recuse himself from voting on any issue that would have a direct impact on the interests of a campaign donor.  In fact, I would go so far as to make it a felony if they don’t.  This would immediately dry up the amount of special interest money pouring into campaign coffers and pave the way for public funding of elections.  It’s a simple idea that would be very effective in curbing the corruptive influence of money in politics.  In fact, just this week I watched as our own senator, Michael Bennet, someone who has taken large amounts of campaign money from Wall Street banks, vote to continue to allow banks to charge excessive debit card fees that ultimately hurt middle class Americans.  Had such ethics legislation been in effect, he would not have been allowed by law to do so.

I would appreciate hearing from you about this idea.  Please understand that I have absolutely no experience in these matters.  I’m simply a retired guy with time to think about the terrible direction that I see our country heading and would like to do something about it.  It seems to me that we may not be able to limit the cash going into the system, but we can limit the votes going out.

Whether you tend to lean to the left or to the right, I look  forward to hearing from you.[poll id=”1357″]

Douglas County Votes for Vouchers

Sometime in the near future, the Douglas County School District is going to ask the State Board of Education for about $2 million in addition to what they would normally be allocated for next year.  “And what are they going to do with this extra money?” you ask.  They’re going to turn around and give it to parents, in the form of a voucher, so they can send their kids to pricey private and parochial schools.

Where Douglas County thinks the state is going to get this money is anybody’s guess, especially since Gov. Hickenlooper just announced that he will recommend that the state cut  $322 million to the K-12 education budget next year.  I personally find it outrageous that, at a time when districts everywhere are scrambling just to make ends meet that the wealthiest district in the state decides to put greed ahead of need.

I hope that ColoradoPols readers from around the state will ask themselves one question.  What could our school district do with an extra $2 million next year?  Do you really want to see tax money, or should I say your money, spent in this way?  I don’t think so.  I urge you to call on your elected representatives in the Colorado legislature and tell them to put a stop to this misguided, wasteful, and irresponsible effort before it starts.

When Will the Denver Post Get It Right?

I don’t understand why the Denver Post editorial board insists that Governor Hickenlooper repeal Governor Ritter’s decision to allow state workers to organize and collectively bargain.  

It sounds as though they are saying that state workers are the reason for the fiscal mess that we’re in right now.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Why don’t they go after the true cause of our problem and insist that President Obama order the justice department to begin investigations into the Wall Street bankers who stole hundreds of billions of dollars from our treasury and left middle class workers, including public employees, stuck with the tab?  Maybe they should shine a little light on the politicians who take their money and do their bidding before they talk about taking away collective bargaining rights.  I’d like to see a few of the real culprits frog-marched out of their thief dens with the cameras rolling.  It was their criminal behavior that was the source of this problem.  There were many things that Gov. Ritter did (or didn’t do) that I didn’t agree with.  But he got it right on this issue.  The Post just doesn’t get it.