How The Hell Can You Oppose This Bill?

The Schlagetters.

The Schlagetters.

The Colorado Independent’s Nat Stein reports on legislation co-sponsored by Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, along with Reps. Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis in the House:

Sen. Michael Bennet joined 21 other senators to introduce a bill on Monday that would reinstate honor for the estimated 100,000 military service members discharged since World War II for their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Restore Honor to Service Members Act has 97 co-sponsors in the House version, including Democrats Reps. Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter. An identical bill failed along party lines last session.

Before the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2010, service members outed as LGBT were forced out of the military with the status of “other than honorable,” “general discharge” or “dishonorable,” depending on the situation. Without honor, these veterans don’t have access to certain benefits they earned, such as health care, the GI bill and military burial. An other-than-honorable-discharge status is treated as a felony in some states, making it impossible to vote and nearly impossible to find employment.

“‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was a backward looking policy that undermined our national security and stood contrary to our national values,” Sen. Bennet said in a release. “It’s time to take steps that will help ensure these men and women receive the benefits they rightfully earned.”

The bill would correct the record by forcing the Department of Defense to remove mention of sexual orientation from discharge, reissue personnel records and hear oral testimony from people who experienced discrimination in the military. The move is more than symbolic — it would legally restore the rights that LGBT veterans have been denied.

With the end of the military’s much-reviled “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Policy,” along with changes in civilian law like the recent Supreme Court ruling striking down bans on same-sex marriage in the states, restoring/upgrading the discharge status of thousands of military members who were discharged over the years due to their sexual orientation seems like a no-brainer. We would compare such an action to the government’s apologies to segregated minority servicemen, or even Japanese internees–all similarly victims of past discriminatory policies that have now been repudiated. Of course we should do this.

Unfortunately, this measure by all accounts has very little chance of passage in the fully GOP-controlled Congress. Without at least a few Republican Senators willing to buck prejudice within their party and help move this bill forward, it remains what seems like a no-brainer, but in the present reality is a nonstarter.

And despite everything LGBT Americans have to celebrate today, that really sucks.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (July 14)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Forget sanctions — we should just threaten Iran with more letters from Congress. 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 United States and a handful of other world powers have agreed on a plan regarding sanctions on Iran and its nuclear weapons program. From Politico:

The United States and five other world powers have reached a deal with Iran that would place strict limits on Tehran’s nuclear program in return for ending sanctions on its economy, the culmination of years of delicate diplomacy pursued by President Barack Obama despite warnings the agreement could strengthen Iran’s Islamist regime and leave it dangerously close to a nuclear bomb.

The historic accord, reached by Secretary of State John Kerry and his international counterparts in Vienna on Tuesday after 18 days of intense negotiations, now faces review from a hostile Republican-led Congress, opposition from every GOP presidential candidate, from Israel’s government and from Sunni Arab monarchs. The deal’s long and complex implementation process also leaves it vulnerable to unraveling.

Warm up the printers! Congressional Republicans should be busy drafting new letters to send to Iran.

► It should come as little surprise that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was the top overall fundraiser among Republican Presidential contenders during the first six months of 2015, but you’ll never guess who checked in at number two: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is the top non-Bush fundraiser in the GOP field.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

 

(more…)

Bennet Raises Another $2 Million, Warchest at $4.3 Million

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver)

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver)

Colorado Republicans have had a difficult time trying to recruit a candidate to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2016, a task that grows more difficult by the day. As Lynn Bartels reports for the Denver Post, Bennet raised $2 million for his re-election for the second straight quarter and is now sitting on a warchest of more than $4.3 million.

Optimistic Republicans like to point to the fact that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) defeated Democrat Mark Udall in 2014 despite waiting until the end of February to launch his campaign, but that’s more footnote than foreshadowing when it comes to 2016. Bennet has a well-deserved reputation as one of the top fundraisers in Congress, but it’s still an impressive feat even when you know it’s coming.

 

 

 

You’re the Next Contestant on “Somebody Please Run for U.S. Senate”

Republicans are trying to recruit former Solicitor General Dan Domenico to run for Senate in 2016.

Republican Dan Domenico.

Dan Domenico, come on down!

Republicans continue their search for a decent candidate for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Michael Bennet in 2016, and they appear to have narrowed their recruitment efforts — for the time being, at least — on the former Solicitor General under Attorney General John Suthers. 

Domenico is not well-known outside of small political circles, but Republicans think he could be a decent candidate to challenge Bennet’s re-election efforts after the GOP’s top tier — and second and third tier — took a pass on 2016 (sorry, Greg Lopez and Darryl Glenn, but you’re still a few levels down on the list).

Domenico has been rumored as a potential candidate in the past, and with few other options on the board, he just might be the next-best name for Republicans. Domenico has a good resume, no voting record to exploit, and is pretty photogenic; perhaps more importantly, his wife is a professional fundraiser who could help ease the financial burdens facing Republicans as they try to hold onto control of the U.S. Senate in a tough election year (Domenico’s wife is currently helping to raise money for GOP Presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina).

The downside to Domenico as a candidate is his background with the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, where he took the lead on arguing Colorado’s case against allowing same-sex marriage in our state. This wouldn’t have been as much of a strategic concern as recently as last year, but 2016 is definitely not the year to be running for office as a noted opponent of same-sex marriage.

That’s not the only wrinkle to a potential Domenico campaign for Senate, however. If Attorney General Cynthia Coffman ends up leaving office early because of the Coffmangate scandal, which we continue to hear is not unlikely, Domenico is probably the GOP’s best candidate to put forward as her replacement. Would Domencio really roll the dice on a Senate campaign now that the AG’s office may suddenly open up for another Republican candidate? Domenico spent the last few years working under former Attorney General John Suthers, and we hear that the AG’s office would be his preference if he had the option.

On the other hand, if Domenico has ever considered running for federal office, this is probably the best opportunity he’s ever going to have; if Domenico doesn’t jump at the race in 2016, he’ll have to wait until at least the year 2022 because Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is up for re-election in 2020. The odds are slim that Domenico might still be in a position to be wooed by Republicans in another six years.

Republicans Find Senate Candidate Willing to Run in 2016…Sort Of

Greg Lopez, apparently.

Greg Lopez, apparently.

UPDATE: Longtime Colorado politicos may remember that Lopez ran for State Senate (SD-30) back in 2000 and lost to John Evans after a pretty meek campaign.

—–

Republicans have unearthed another candidate for U.S. Senate in 2016, as Lynn Bartels reports for the Denver Post blog “The Spot”:

Greg Lopez, the former director of the Small Business Administration in Colorado, announced Monday he plans to run for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Lopez said he’s not worried that other Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora and state Sen. Ellen Roberts of Durango, have already said “no” to challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet next year.

A former Mayor of Parker, Lopez tells Bartels that “His Democratic friends have told him they would back him publicly and financially if he ran for office,” though we can’t imagine those friends ever thought Lopez might run for United States Senate. Lopez is bilingual and has served 10 years on the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and along with his time with he SBA, he has an interesting resume…on paper.

Lopez is probably a better Republican candidate than Darryl Glenn — though that isn’t a very high bar to clear — but he’s certainly not a game-changer who will pose a serious threat to Democratic incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet. Put it this way: If your campaign announcement for Senate is only picked up by the political blog of the Denver Post, you’re obviously not generating a lot of buzz or excitement.

It also doesn’t help Lopez that he left the U.S. Small Business Administration in April 2014 “because of clashes with his bosses in Washington over the Veterans Administration hospital project in Aurora that was beset by cost overruns…” Being involved in the mess that is the VA Hospital project in Aurora should be a big bonus!

Beer Wars: Coal, Water, Smelt, and the Great Beer Boycott of 2015

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Forget about buying New Belgium Craft Beer in Craig, Colorado. Most of the liquor stores, and some of the bars, just aren’t selling it anymore. The boycott is a reaction to New Belgium’s support of the work of the Wild Earth Guardians (WEG). WEG has successfully promoted an environmental lawsuit halting expansion of the ColoWyo coal mine in Moffat County near Craig, and some local coal miners fear that their livelihoods will be sacrificed for an environmental cause or an endangered species. In an article in the Craig Daily Press, Lori Gillam, an owner of Stockmen’s Liquor store, said, “We pulled those beers because their support of WildEarth Guardians… who said their ultimate goal is to shut down coal mines. Craig is a coal mine town.”

These fears are being relentlessly inflamed in the right wing blogosphere, and on right wing talk radio. On June 9 and 10, Ken Clark’s Freedom 360 show was all about the so-called “War on Coal” in Craig, Colorado. 

New Belgian Beers on Tap

New Belgium Beers on tap, from National Journal article by Matt Berman. Photo by Quan Ha

 

  

“They’re coming after Colorado!,” Ken Clark breathlessly reported at 8:39 minutes into his 6/9/15 Freedom 560 show. From 5:23 to 8:20, Clark made the following statements about Wild Earth Guardians:

  “These are the same folks that created all this havoc in California. [They] .. are the whack jobs that shut down all of the irrigation to these farmlands in order to protect that smelt, that fish. . . They pretty much killed California and their farm production.  Fresno County – the unemployment rate’s 47%. These are the same guys. . . .They have set their sights on Colorado. They are coming here.  And now they’re coming after us.” 

 

Factually, Clark is just plain wrong here, although he wisely left wiggle room by saying that his “friend told him so”, and he plans to “check it out”. Fresno’s unemployment rate in 2014 was 11%, not 47%. California is obviously suffering from drought, and farmers, tourists, developers, businesses, and wildlife are all struggling and negotiating for the use of the same diminishing pool of potable water. The only reference to environmental regulations and fish in the Fresno Bee article was the mention of how water is being kept in Lake Shasta to keep  salmon and trout alive. 

(more…)

Taking The Sting Out Of The Next Government Shutdown?

Photo via the Wilderness Society

Photo via the Wilderness Society

As the Durango Herald’s Mariam Baksh reports, Colorado Rep. Scott Tipton (R) is teaming up with Sen. Michael Bennet (D) to get our state reimbursed for the costs of keeping economically vital national parks open during the 2013 shutdown of the federal government–a shutdown, as you’ll recall, instigated by Republicans in an attempt to force the repeal of the Affordable Care Act:

During the 2013 government shutdown, Colorado used its own funds to keep its national parks open.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, agree that Colorado should get this money back from the federal government…

Colorado spent about $367,000 keeping Rocky Mountain National Park open.

Colorado would receive its share of the $2 million [Sen. Jeff] Flake is proposing the Department of Interior return to the states that gave money to the agency to keep national parks open.

GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona was a consistent opponent of shutting down the government over Obamacare in 2013, which makes sense given the enormous importance of federally-funded tourism destinations like the Grand Canyon are to his state. Here in Colorado, most Republicans initially embraced the shutdown, or at most half-heartedly claimed to not like it while voting to make it happen. That includes Rep. Scott Tipton as well as now-Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who since being elected to the Senate has generally supported proposals that would make government shutdowns harder–a sign that perhaps Gardner learned a lesson from the lasting political fallout for the GOP after the 2013 shutdown.

Tipton co-sponsored a bill that then-Rep. Cory Gardner introduced that would require the Department of Interior to return money to states that used their own budgets to keep federal parks open.

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Is there any responsible lawmaker who would oppose repaying states for funds spent keeping national parks open during the 2013 shutdown? We’d assume not. But the easy question of whether to make states whole for their shutdown expenditures sidesteps the original question of responsibility for the shutdown. In 2013, the public lopsidedly blamed the GOP, though many voters would be hard pressed to remember the details today. But at least until Barack Obama leaves office, the dynamic of future fiscal debates, and potential government shutdowns, will be driven by congressional Republicans choosing to instigate one. Republicans led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said there would be no more shutdowns, at least implicitly citing the political damage caused by the last one. But if they were to succeed in taking the sting out of a future shutdown, would that promise hold up?

And the question remains: is this kind of dysfunctional brinksmanship any way to do business?

Bennet said he supports the U.S. Department of Interior giving money back to the states, but he takes issue with legislation aimed at mitigating the effects of a future shutdown when lawmakers should instead be focused on passing appropriations bills that fund the entire government and avoid a shutdown to begin with.

It seems to us that anything that would mitigate the impact of a shutdown, especially while allowing so many other functions of government to come to a halt as this limited proposal would, is basically guaranteed to increase the chances of another harmful shutdown. Without serious consequences for everyone responsible, there is no reason for the brinksmanship that has typified recent budget standoffs to be resolved. Every such consequence therefore becomes leverage to bring both sides to the bargaining table, and a reality check against unreasonable obstruction by factional interests on either side.

With all that in mind, yes, give our state back the money. But don’t make the next shutdown less painful.

Instead, let’s just not have any more shutdowns.

Get More Smarter on Monday (June 8)

Get More SmarterThis doesn’t seem very fast to us. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is pushing for a major overhaul of campaign finance reform. We all know that campaign finance laws are pretty useless at the moment — hell, GOP Presidential contender Jeb Bush has been openly breaking the law for months.

► The Veterans Administration is promoting a new plan to help pay for completion of the Aurora VA Hospital. A three-week extension on funding construction is set to expire this week.

► The deadline for Gov. John Hickenlooper to veto legislation from the 2015 Colorado Assembly came and went on Friday with no new vetoes. Hickenlooper vetoed three bills from the prior session: two red-light camera restriction bills, and nonsense legislation that would have allowed predatory lenders to drastically increase interest rates. Good on ya, Gov.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

2016 Won’t Be Like 2014 (Or 2010)

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.

Sen. Michael Bennet, President Barack Obama.

Famed political analyst Stuart Rothenberg has a smart writeup at Roll Call today on the state of play in Colorado ahead of the 2016 U.S. Senate race–with some perspective that’s quite valuable if you’re using past performance as a predictor of future results:

Republican strategists have not given up hope of recruiting a top-tier challenger, such as Rep. Mike Coffman, who might be able to mount the sort of come-from-behind effort then-Rep. Cory Gardner did to upset Democratic Sen. Mark Udall last cycle.

But even knowledgeable Republicans wouldn’t tell you the Colorado Senate race is close to a tossup now. And in their most candid moments they might even tell you the race may never get any closer than where it is now — leaning in Bennet’s favor…

Colorado voters who wanted to send a message of dissatisfaction about the president could only do so by voting against Bennet, and subsequently Udall. That is a different dynamic from the one that occurs in presidential election years, such as 2016.

Next fall, voters won’t automatically see the Senate race as a way to make a statement about the presidential race, and the GOP won’t have a strong voter turnout advantage, the way the party did in 2010 and 2014.

The last U.S. Senate race in a presidential election year in Colorado was 2008–the year when Mark Udall blew out Republican Bob Schaffer, in a race where Schaffer was hobbled by ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and generalized dissatisfaction with the Republican brand after eight years of George W. Bush in the White House. In 2010 and 2014, election years where Democrats in Colorado fought uphill battles, presidential-year turnout ebbed, and conservative voters in this state surged to the polls. Even at the height of the 2010 GOP wave, Bennet managed to come out ahead of the decidedly out-of-the-mainstream GOP nominee Ken Buck. In 2014, Cory Gardner’s audacious con job airtight message discipline powered him past Udall’s uninspiring single-issue negative campaign.

In 2016, there is no Cory Gardner Colorado Republicans can turn to for a fresh start, and Bennet will not face the same kind of “Teflon” opponent Udall did. As Rothenberg correctly notes, presumed 2016 U.S. Senate frontrunner Mike Coffman has his own long record of immoderation, like in 2012 when he told attendees at a GOP fundraiser that President Barack Obama “is just not an American.” While Coffman has managed to keep his job since that major on-camera gaffe three years ago, Rothenberg is absolutely right that “Democrats undoubtedly would use that sound bite to introduce him to voters statewide.” Bennet may not be the left’s biggest hero today after spurning them on issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, but Coffman has enough fringe ugliness in his background for Bennet to show a clear distinction with the broad center of Colorado voters.

Rothenberg concludes, and from our view there’s nothing with which to disagree:

Democrats have plenty of reasons to keep Colorado on their radar screens, and Republicans have plenty of reasons to look for a strong challenger who can take advantage of the state’s fundamental competitiveness.

But right now, it is much easier for Democrats to defend the seat than it is for Republicans to win it back from Bennet.

These hard facts are a big reason why we’re waiting to see if Coffman makes the jump to the 2016 U.S. Senate race at all, especially with a strong Democratic challenge for his CD-6 seat threatening from Colorado Senate Minority Leader Morgan Carroll. Whatever momentum Colorado Republicans may feel after 2014 is, looking ahead today, fraught with uncertainty–with a very different electorate than the last two U.S. Senate races here, and no “ace in the hole” lying in wait to change the game.

Naturally, we’ll let you know if we see one.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 14)

Today’s forecast calls for possible sightings of the sun. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) joined fellow Republicans in voting to approve a 20-week abortion ban. Colorado Springs Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn is one of the primary sponsors of the legislation.

► The Senate passed a measure yesterday to move forward on votes for President Obama’s trade deal. From the Huffington Post:

“The announcement [Wednesday] will drive home the importance of the message that the pro-trade Democrats sent yesterday,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who helped craft the compromise after he helped filibuster the trade bill that he supports. “That enforcement, enforcement of the trade laws is a prerequisite to a modern trade policy, a trade policy that sets aside once and for all the NAFTA playbook. Suffice it to say that was the message conveyed yesterday by pro-trade Democrats.”

► Colorado Senators Michael Bennet (D-Denver) and Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) offered joint support for medical marijuana legislation. As Mark Matthews of the Denver Post reports:

The proposed Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act would lift federal prohibitions across the country on using marijuana strains that are medically beneficial to prevent certain seizures.

Gardner, a Republican, and Bennet, a Democrat, announced the bill with Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Johnny Isakson of Georgia at the Capitol in Washington on Wednesday.

Because of federal prohibitions, some families who are seeking the help are forced to relocate to such states as Colorado, where they can obtain the medicine, the lawmakers argue.

What, no cool acronym for this bill? The THMAA?


Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Ellen Roberts Floats Her Name for U.S. Senate or CD-3

Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango).

Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango).

As Peter Marcus reports today for The Durango Herald, state Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango) is hoisting up a trial balloon for a potential new job in 2016 — be it for the U.S. Senate or in CD-3:

Roberts spoke to The Durango Herald on Friday, two days after the legislative session ended. She said she has time now to consider the massive 2016 undertaking.

“I recognize it would be a long-shot,” Roberts said. “But to be in the U.S. Senate, that would be something that I am in the process of thinking about.”…

…One rumor that has been circulating is that U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, is considering a run for U.S. Senate. In that case, Roberts also could vie for that 3rd Congressional District seat. But Roberts said she is less interested in that seat, and a spokesman for Tipton said, “Congressman Tipton is very happy to be serving Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”

We’ve heard Sen. Roberts’ name mentioned for higher office here and there, though we’d agree with Roberts herself that a U.S. Senate run “would be a long-shot.” As Peter Marcus noted in the Herald, Roberts is coming off a particularly tough legislative session that saw her take several difficult votes sprinkled in with some eyebrow-raising statements (including her off-the-reservation admission that SB-268 was, indeed, a bill about creating Personhood).

Congressman Scott Tipton was floating his own name for U.S. Senate back in January, though a spokesman was intentionally vague in responding to Marcus for this story. Running a campaign for Congress in CD-3 would seem more logical for Roberts, if Tipton did indeed decide to take a shot at Democrat Michael Bennet in 2016. Roberts has not had to run a serious campaign herself since winning election to the State House in 2006, and the Colorado Republican Party is a lot different today than it was 10 years ago. Unless Republicans were to completely stand down for Roberts, we don’t see how she’d ever make it out of a Primary; even if she did, Roberts would be forced to move so far to the right that she’d never be able to get back to the middle before a General Election.

Roberts also would need to overcome the political detriments of being relatively isolated in Durango. She has no name recognition along the Front Range, and Roberts has not built up any sort of donor base that could jump start an undertaking as ambitious as running for U.S. Senate. Any Republican candidate in 2016 will be compared to Sen. Cory Gardner in some respect; it is important to remember that Gardner had been carefully cultivating a broad base of Republican support for years prior to his sudden entry into the 2014 Senate race last February.

If nothing else, today’s news from Roberts should prod the likes of state Sen. Owen Hill (who also ran for U.S. Senate in 2014) to get moving, and it will probably shake loose a few more potential Republican names for 2016.

New Poll Shows Voters Don’t Like Either Coffman

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

A good 3 out of 4 Colorado voters have no idea who this is (hint: Attorney General Cynthia Coffman).

Okay, that headline is a bit misleading, but that was the point; when you’re 18 months from the next election, you can find anything you want from polling a largely uninformed and indifferent public.

There are a few interesting nuggets in the latest poll results from Quinnipiac University’s dart-throwing public polling outfit, but for the most part, results from a new “swing state” poll feature a bunch of different names and numbers that don’t mean much of anything. Let’s take a look at the new updates from Quinnipiac, shall we?

In an early look at the 2016 U.S. Senate race in Colorado, U.S. Rep. Michael Coffman, a Republican, runs better than his wife, State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, against Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

No shit, Sherlock. Congressman Mike Coffman is in his 26th year as an elected official in Colorado, a career that spans five different offices. His wife, Cynthia Coffman, was just elected Attorney General last November. There are probably still people in the Attorney General’s office who have yet to meet Cynthia — why would the average voter know anything about her?

(more…)

Bennet and Post’s Matthews further the “Both Sides Do It” meme again

Sen. Michael Bennet is nothing if not press savvy. Most of his press coverage, it seems to me, has been about the dysfunction and disappointment of the institution he so eagerly joined and not about any accomplishments he’s made while a member.

Not to be distracted by anything substantial he could do between now and his (presumed) attempt at getting reelected in 2016, Bennet has gone on the bipartisan offensive again to mildly criticize his senate peers, to try to seem like he’s doing something productive, and to give more credence to his guiding philosophy that “both sides do it” when it comes to political mis- and malfeasance.

The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews gladly serves up the dish, and helps Cory Gardner not look like a nut at the same time:

On Thursday, Democrat Michael Bennet and Republican Cory Gardner plan to introduce legislation that would impose strict rules — including the possibility of arrest — on the Senate anytime one or more federal agencies were thrown into shutdown mode.

It’s a situation that nearly occurred this year with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and one that impacted the entire federal government in October 2013.

Under the Bennet-Gardner bill, the Senate would be forced to take attendance roughly once an hour — every day — between 8 a.m. and midnight for as long as a shutdown continued.

The rationale, said Bennet and Gardner, was to keep lawmakers in town to negotiate.

“If someone’s idea is to grind the government to a halt, then members of Congress ought to be darn well sure they’re finding a solution together,” Gardner said. “You can’t do it by flying home. You can’t do it by going to your respective political corners. You can only do it when you’re here together, at work.”

And Gardner says he doesn’t really want to grind government to a halt as part of the majority party in both houses with just that recent and destructive record. It just kinda happened. So that’s how the Post will portray it.

And what else?

For more than two centuries, the Senate has had the ability to compel attendance, but the Colorado legislators’ bill would make clear that an arrest warrant is the penalty for skipping town during a shutdown. “It’s using existing procedure,” Gardner said. “(But) this procedure is a little bit of a hammer.”

So it uses existing procedure. Anyone who’s watched CSPAN for more than 5 minutes is likely to have heard “I call for a quorom” from someone on the floor of the senate. And because Bennet or Gardner clearly do not want to be accountable for holding their fellow senators accountable, they issue a press release instead and pretend they’ll pass a law to do what they won’t do while they’re standing on the floor. 

It’s a dirty job, but someone should be willing to do it; if they want to be bipartisan so bad, they could take turns!

A showy bill

Without question, the bill is a bit showy.

But both lawmakers said they’ve been working on the legislation for months — and that aides have spent hours with the parliamentarian to ensure they got the rules right.

So admittedly it’s a showy bill. Destined for failure. Not gonna happen. 

But the Denver Post writes it up. And Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner get to be bipartisan while pretending both sides are threatening a government shutdown and both sides are equally responsible for the current dysfunction in our government.

Well, both sides, no, all sides, did it in this case: they perpetuated a lie with some of the most lazy and irresponsible governing and reporting possible. And Michael Bennet gets a headline once again while doing nothing for his stature, and nothing for the people he represents.

Is Michael Bennet part of the New Dem/Elizabeth Warren strike team?

I sure hope our Senior Senator, the Esteemed Michael Bennet, isn't part of this bull:

Centrist Democrats are gathering their forces to fight back against the “Elizabeth Warren wing” of their party, fearing a sharp turn to the left could prove disastrous in the 2016 elections.

[snip]

The New Democrat Coalition (NDC), a caucus of moderate Democrats in the House, plans to unveil an economic policy platform as soon as this week in an attempt to chart a different course.

"I have great respect for Sen. Warren — she's a tremendous leader,” said Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), one of the members working on the policy proposal. “My own preference is to create a message without bashing businesses or workers, [the latter of which] happens on the other side."

Peters said that, if Democrats are going to win back the House and Senate, "it's going to be through the work of the New Democrat Coalition."

This is truly laughable. Or cryable.

And if the abject failure of this continued Democratic Triangulation away from its own natural base is not clear to any of those people, then their competence to address politics in any form is reaching nil.

Gabe Horwitz of centrist Third Way told The Hill, “In the last election, Democrats, as a party, offered a message of fairness. Voters responded, and they responded really negatively … Democrats offered fairness, and voters wanted prosperity and growth.”

Actually, Gabe, most analyses said the Democratic message wasn't. The biggest policy gains that would've helped our losing candidates were ignored and the president who ushered them in was given no credit. A prime example of the failure of Third Way's strategy is our own Mark Udall.

“For Colorado, there are some different dynamics in place. We have a fast-growing state, we have growing Latino, millennials and youth populations. That, together with the right message, should help our nominee. At the same time we are going to be fully cognizant that we have got to appeal to middle-class, working-class voters, and we can’t allow Republicans to increase their share of the vote there. The message has been a little challenging. We really need to be talking about where the two parties are different and focus on the economy in terms of job creation and pocket-book issues.”

This is where Warren comes in, from the Digby post:

The Hill notes that the NDC's policy proposal is aimed at pushing back against a progressive agenda announced last week by Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). The Facebook video of Warren discussing the plan and hammering the unfairness of the current economy for hard-working Americans has received just short of 2 million views.

Hey, that's what Udall and Bennet did in 2010.

Colorado’s two freshman senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, are part of a self-described centrist group of 15 Democrats meeting regularly “seeking to restrain the influence of party liberals in the White House and on Capitol Hill,” according to an account in Roll Call.

The group has a “shared commitment to pursue moderate, mainstream and fiscally sustainable policies across a range of issues, such as health care reform, the housing crisis, educational reform, and energy policy,” according to a statement issued Wednesday by the group.

(I should start getting royalties from that link any day.)

Those results should also speak for themselves. They succeeded in their own short-sighted goal, hamstrung the president from the time he took his first oath, and guaranteed that our economy would be moribund for the next 8 years. Huzzah!

Michael Bennet has remained eerily quiet this whole time, despite his term ending soon and the new campaign beginning – if only in its planning stage. Though he did make sure to deflect the blame for his horrible shot at DSCC Strategist-in-Chief.

And yet the New Democrats, Third Way-ers and Blue Dogs persist, despite red flags everywhere.

Warren speaks to kitchen-table issues in plain English working people understand.

My wife spoke last month with a Fox News-watching brother of a friend. He's white, registered unaffiliated, disenchanted with both parties, and didn't bother to vote in the 2014 mid-terms. Neither party has done anything for the working man for 40 years, he told her. Yet he liked "that woman" who's taking on the big banks. He couldn't name her, but thought it a miracle that she's still alive.

(That's Warren he's talking about.-ed.)

He's a conservative from North Carolina, where Third Way's Kay Hagan — running an Obama-style field campaign, but selling herself as the "most moderate" senator — narrowly lost her U.S. Senate seat to "Typhoid Thom" Tillis.

Centrist Democrats, don't be too proud of that political battle station you're constructing.

Word to the wise. And to the blinkered centrists who think Bipartisanship is the solution and that Republicans will start acting rationally any time soon and can be counted on to complete a triangle of equal policy and political dimensions.

NOT. GONNA. HAPPEN.

Yes, Bennet’s Keystone XL Triangulation Is Stupid

Sen. Michael Bennet

Sen. Michael Bennet

This week, President Barack Obama vetoed a bill passed by the GOP-controlled House and Senate to expedite construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. This legislation would have short-circuited an ongoing State Department review of the project, and trumped court proceedings in the state of Nebraska over the legality of eminent domain takings to build the route. Obama had repeatedly threatened to veto the bill, and the administration has become increasingly ambivalent about the Keystone XL project overall as global oil prices have plummeted, domestic oil production has surged, and grassroots opponents have waged a highly effective publicity campaign.

As we've discussed in this space many times, the case to build Keystone XL, even years ago when these intervening pressures weren't yet a factor, has been consistently overhyped by its proponents. Last year, Cory Gardner insisted on the campaign trail that Keystone would result in "thousands of Colorado jobs," a number that was inflated somewhere in the neighborhood of 100%. The truth is, Keystone XL won't enter the state of Colorado, won't produce a significant number of jobs in our state, won't produce more than a few dozen permanent jobs anywhere once the pipeline is built, and will result in an increase in local gas prices due to the routing of Canadian oil supplies to Gulf Coast export terminals. Even ardently pro-oil Gov. John Hickenlooper agrees with Obama's decision to veto the bill.

With these facts once again established for the record, 9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman reports:

They come from different political parties, but Colorado's US Senators both voted for legislation to authorize building of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner both also confirm to 9NEWS they will vote for a veto override, which is being planned by majority leader Mitch McConnell.

That Sen. Michael Bennet planned to vote for the Keystone XL pipeline was never in question. He's voted for it before, including late last year during ex-Sen. Mary Landrieu's desperate attempt to get Keystone XL passed during her runoff election campaign. Bennet says he thinks Keystone should be "part of a bigger solution" to climate change, a statement that we'll admit makes very little sense to us.

But voting to override the President's veto makes even less sense. Politically, this doesn't win Bennet any supporters who would actually support him against a viable Republican. But worse, Bennet's unapologetic thumbing of his nose at Keystone XL opponents further drives an emerging wedge within the Democratic coalition in Colorado. Even if he got a green light from the White House to vote this way since the override has no real chance of succeeding, this is insult added to injury for Bennet's Democratic base–and has no political upside that we can see.

Though assailed by the GOP as a monolithic party of anti-energy environmentalists, the uneasy truce among Colorado Democrats over support for the oil and gas industry is in fact extremely fragile. Too many Democrats at high levels have convinced themselves that they can openly triangulate on the issue, and keep the Democratic coalition that has mostly dominated elections in this state since 2004 together.

Our response, delivered with increasing urgency: there's a limit.