Buck Wants to Weaken DC Gun-Safety Laws, Calls Colorado Pols “Knuckleheads”

(Eh, we’ll take “knuckleheads.” — promoted by Colorado Pols)

After being investigated by Washington DC authorities for having an AR-15 assault rifle in his Washington office, freshman Republican Congressman Ken Buck said he intends to use his congressional committee assignments to weaken DC gun-saftey laws, which are among the nation’s toughest.

Asked on NRA News’ “Cam and Co” Show April 23 if he now has “added impetus” to address DC’s gun laws, Buck replied, “Yes, it does,” noting that the issue falls under the jurisdiction of two committees on which he sits: the Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform Committees.

“It’s something I will look at,” said Buck on the podcast, noting that it’s not “on the top of the heap,” but he’s already talked to other Members of Congress about it.

“There is going to be an effort to look at what DC does and to try to rein in the really irrational–if you’re an honest law-abiding citizen, you want to have a means to protect yourself,” Buck said on air, discussing Washington’s gun-safety laws. “And it’s just unbelievable that people in DC believe that honest people should not be able to protect themselves. They should be victimized.”

Buck revealed the presence of the assault weapon in his office last week, when he tweeted a photo of it along with: “My friend Trey Gowdy stopped by the office — had to show him my AR-15 to commemorate the occasion.”

The tweet was first reported by the progressive blog ColoradoPols, which Buck referred to as “knuckleheads” in his NRA news interview.

“There were some knuckleheads back in Colorado that decided they wanted to cause some problems, and so they forwarded the picture to the Attorney General here in DC,” Buck said, when asked how Washington authorities became aware of the assault weapon in his office.

It appears that Buck did not break Capitol-Police rules by having the weapon in his office, but the Metropolitan DC Police have apparently not commented. The Washington DC Attorney General looked into the matter and referred it to the DC police,

“As conservatives, we are more cautious [with their weapons], because we understand that there is a double standard,” Buck said on air. “But in this case they ate crow, and I hope they continue to eat crow for a long time. I hope other Congressmen see that they can have a gun in their office and follow the lead.”

“I have a very patriotic AR15 hanging in my office. It hangs directly above my Second Amendment flag,” Buck said in a statement, as reported by The Denver Post.

Who Ordered a Cake with “Homosexuality Is a Detestable Sin” Written on Top?

(Mmmm…cake. – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

It’s not for everybody, but if you’re me, you can’t help but be curious about a guy who asks Azucar Bakery, on Broadway in Denver, to make cakes shaped like an open Bible with the these messages:

One cake: God Hates Sin, Psalm 45-7. Homosexuality Is a Detestable Sin, Leviticus 18-22.

The other cake: God Loves Sinners. While We Were Yet Sinners, God Died for Us. Romans 5-8.

It turns out that Bill Jack, the man who placed this cake order, is also a sometime talk-show host, which gives a radio aficionado an opening to find out more about him.

After listening to a few hours of his shows on “Generations Radio,” a fundamentalist Christian outlet, and talking with him on the phone, I would describe him as a deeply religious individual who feels so besieged and alienated by cultural norms that he has to carve out an extreme path to function in everyday society.  His path has an internal logic to it, but to the rest of us, it can be hateful and discriminatory.

For example, on a podcasted “Generations Radio” show in January (below), Jack and co-host Steve Vaughan got angry about Planned Parenthood teaching sex-education in public school. (more…)

Get More Smarter on Monday (April 27)

MoreSmarter-RainToday’s forecast calls for rain, or something. 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…

Opening Statements begin today in the Aurora Theater Shooting trial, nearly three years after the attack at a late-night screening of The Dark Knight Rises. The Associated Press takes a look at what to expect over the next several weeks as attorneys attempt to deal with an “insanity” plea. Aurora Sentinel editor Dave Perry has a very thoughtful take on what is sure to be an unpleasant summer for all involved with the trial.

► The Office of Consumer Counsel is a hot topic this week in the legislature. Democrats in the House have introduced legislation to re-authorize the OCC without stripping it of authority over the telecommunications industry.

► The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a “field hearing” in Denver on Friday to discuss the myriad of problems associated with construction of a new VA Hospital in Aurora. Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) also attended the hearing, which came on the same day as a new report showing that Coffman hasn’t done much “oversight” despite being the Chairman of the House VA Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Mike Coffman and the Aurora VA Hospital: Coffman’s Part of the Problem

(Right back at ya – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

As Rep. Mike Coffman appeared in Aurora today to grandstand at a U.S. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee field hearing about the troubled VA Hospital project in Aurora, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, released a new report documenting Coffman’s own oversight responsibility over the project, and failure to take action for years despite knowing that massive cost overruns were occurring.

“We all know the situation with the VA hospital in Aurora,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms, “a project that will drag on for years beyond its target completion date and is currently estimated to be a billion dollars over budget. But there are some key facts in this situation that have been conveniently overlooked.”

“Representative Mike Coffman, who represents district where the hospital is being built, has recently become very outspoken about this issue,” said Runyon-Harms. “Coffman can be outraged. He can be frustrated. But he cannot be shocked or surprised when as Chair of the Oversight Committee, he had known this information for years–and until recently has done almost nothing to fix the problem.”

In a report summarizing Rep. Coffman’s statements and actions in response to the Aurora VA Hospital’s cost overruns, ProgressNow Colorado finds that Coffman knew that the price of the new hospital would exceed a billion dollars, hundreds of millions over its original budget, since at least 2013. Coffman participated in the drafting of legislation to address problems identified in early 2013 by the General Accounting Office, but admitted delaying the bill for 16 more months.

Read the report in full here.

“As chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Oversight Committee, it has always been Coffman’s responsibility to do something about the problems at the Aurora VA Hospital project,” said Runyon-Harms. “But up until this point, all we’ve gotten is finger pointing, grandstanding, and even attempting to fundraise off of this catastrophe for his re-election. There is plenty of blame to go around for this budget-busting debacle, but Mike Coffman has spent over 5 years on the Armed Services Committee, and over 2 years as the Chair of the VA Oversight Subcommittee. So instead of political grandstands, we call on Coffman to take some responsibility for this problem, and offer real solutions instead of slogans to get it fixed.”

“Coffman is fond of the words ‘lead, follow, or get out of the way,'” said Runyon-Harms. “It’s time for Coffman to take his own advice.”

Get More Smarter on Friday (April 24)

Today is not the anniversary of anything particularly important, as far as we can tell. 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…

► The U.S. Senate is coming to Colorado…some of them, anyway. Members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee will be in Aurora today for a field hearing regarding the ongoing problems with construction at the Aurora VA Hospital.

► The State Senate gave preliminary approval on Thursday to legislation intended to reduce student testing requirements in Colorado. The State House is scheduled to discuss a similar bill today.

► Republicans are going to have a tough time continuing to pretend that so-called fetal homicide Personhood legislation is anything but a purely political attempt to restrict abortions in Colorado; some of the language used in SB-268 is exactly the same as wording used in model legislation proposed by the group Americans United for Life.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Friday Open Thread

“I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”

–President George H. W. Bush

By Hook or by Crook: Colorado GOP’s Attempt to “Seize” U.S. Public Lands

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Old Fuss and Feathers defeated the Mexican general Santa Anna leading to the acquisition by the United States of lands in Western Colorado.

The story in my family is that General Winfield Scott is a grandfather.  My own connection, I suppose, and not yet seven generations removed, to the tragedy of ‘Manifest Destiny.’

Scott was a colonel when he marched the Cherokee to Oklahoma on the Trail of Tears.  And he was a general when he took Mexico City, and the United States took half of Mexico in what has long been considered an unprovoked and unjust war.

Where I sit today, along the arroyos that sweep down from the flanks of the Grand Mesa, maybe right atop where Friar Dominguez stood to look at the plain of the North Fork of the Gunnison 80 years before my forebear marched against Santa Anna, and when the valley was still claimed by Spain; this was all part of  Mexico, and ceded at the point of a bayonet in the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848.

Of course the land only ‘belonged’ to Spain and then Mexico in the sense that they claimed it, their explorers and traders and trappers passed through most certainly on occasion, as had the Spanish friars in 1776, not too far from what became one leg of the Old Spanish Trail

And other people already lived here too.  The Spaniards did not discover it. Indeed in western Colorado, and right here in the North Fork, people have made their home for 12,000 years or more.  

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There’s just gotta be better ways to advance the conservative agenda on talk radio than holding the hand of Lisa Pinto

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call, Jefferson County Communications Officer Lisa Pinto.

Former Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call, Jefferson County Schools Communications Officer Lisa Pinto.

One wonders if the GOP’s Leadership of the Rockies Program, which schooled GOP operative Lisa Pinto, needs to add a class on how to gracefully ignore anonymous tweets.

In her job as Chief Communications Officer for the Jefferson Country  School District, Pinto has massively more important problems on her plate than complaining about tweets directed at her. Yet, she’s wasting time on conservative talk radio whining about her tweets.

You’d any right-leaning talk radio program, normally home base for the get-over-it approach to personal problems, would boot her off the show, but KNUS host Krista Kafer wrapped Pinto in a warm blanket, introducing a April 3 segment on the tweets:

Kafer: “So there are these people out there. I don’t know. Do they not work? Do they not have a hobby? Do they not garden? I don’t know, but apparently they have a lot of extra time just to be mean. I guess being mean is a hobby.”

This opened the floodgates from Pinto, who emphasized that she took time on vacation to discuss the tweets on KNUS 710 AM, not on the taxpayer dime. (Listen below.)

“Thanks for taking up this really important topic,” Pinto told Kafer. “It’s really crazy that this is going on in this day an age in Colorado.”

Really important? Crazy in this day and age?  She’s a communications pro? Maybe she’s under the spell of the Independence Institute, which found recent tweets about Jeffco-School topics so important that it established a website, MeanGirlz.org, to promote them. Read more about this in Westword.

Anyway, Pinto went on for the next 20 minutes or so, making me wonder if she knew anything at all about the content of Twitter.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 23)

By the end of the week, the black market for carnitas will be booming. 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…

► After five months of waiting, the U.S. Senate is finally on the cusp of confirming President Obama’s nomination of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner announced this morning that he planned to vote NO on Lynch’s confirmation. Seriously.

► There is a concerted effort underway in Jefferson County to “destroy” the teacher’s union, as Colorado Pols reported late yesterday. Jon Caldara and the Independence Institute may need to work fast — Julie Williams and the right-wing Jeffco School Board might just “destroy” the entire school district first.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Senator Gardner’s flip-flop on state control raises questions about his conservation credentials

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Senator Cory Gardner’s first month in the Senate was marked by some encouraging decisions for Westerners who value a balanced approach to natural resource management, including his opposition to extreme plans to transfer control of national public lands to the states.

However, Sen. Gardner’s plan to delay decisive action on the Greater sage-grouse listing for six years is the same kind of power grab as Sen. Murkowski’s land grab bill.

Judging by the industry groups who have lined up to support this bill, Sen. Gardner seems to be saying his position on transferring control to the states depends on who’s asking, and he certainly didn’t consult with the folks on the ground who have been working on this issue for years.

A male Greater sage-grouse.

A male Greater sage-grouse.

Sen. Gardner must have forgotten he represents the people and the business of Colorado, not just special interests. A recent Pew poll found that 80% of Coloradans believe it is important to protect the sage-grouse, and 72% percent of Coloradans support strong plans from BLM. Additionally, a report done by the Western Values Project found that over $76,700,000 is contributed to Colorado’s economy through outdoor recreation that takes place on sage-grouse land. Unfortunately, this legislation makes it seem as if Sen. Gardner is more concerned with pleasing special interests than the Coloradans he represents.

Sen. Gardner’s plan doesn’t recognize that the state-specific management he’s touting is already being done successfully through unprecedented collaborative efforts by stakeholders from all stripes in the 11 western states containing Greater sage-grouse.

The Department of Interior just announced a plan to keep sage grouse off the endangered species list, right now.  Not in six years.  That¹s the kind of action folks in Colorado and throughout the West would like to see from their leaders in Washington.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 22)

GetMoreSmarter-EarthHappy Earth Day! Or, if you’re into that kind of thing, Happy Administrative Professionals’ Day. 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-Angry) is the Chair of the House Veterans’ Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. It is supposed to be his job to provide oversight for stuff like, say, a complete mess of a VA Hospital project in Aurora. Coffman may not have much in the way of solutions for the VA’s problems, but that isn’t stopping him from raising money off of the scandal. Coffman’s spokesman had a bunch of gibberish to say in response to these allegations, but the best line of the story — which was picked up nationally — comes from Lynn Bartels in “The Spot” blog:

Less than six months ago, Coffman posted on his congressional web site an opinion piece thanking him for not being one of the members of Congress using the VA problems for fundraising.

D’oh!

Fetal homicide Personhood legislation will be introduced today in the State Senate.

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) apparently doesn’t think the Sage Grouse is so greater. As Bruce Finley of the Denver Post reports:

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner will introduce legislation in Congress on Wednesday that would bar the federal government from listing greater sage grouse as endangered and give western states six more years to revive grouse populations on their own…

…”We have an obligation to future generations to conserve and recover this species,” [said Gardner]. “But we can do it on our terms. Let’s put Coloradans in charge, let’s put Westerners in charge of the West.”

“Let’s put Westerners in charge of the West!” Who comes up with this crap?

 
Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Mike Coffman Raising Money Off VA Hospital Scandal He’s Supposed to Oversee

What, you expected more of me?

What, you expected more of me?

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. It is, ostensibly, his job to have done something — anything — to prevent the disaster that has become the still-under-construction VA Hospital in Aurora.

Coffman hasn’t done much of anything in the way of “oversight,” but he sure moves quickly when it comes to using the VA Hospital scandal to raise money for his re-election campaign. As Buzzfeed explains:

“The outrageous mismanagement of the Colorado VA Hospital in Aurora is just one example of how the VA is failing our veterans and placing their basic needs at risk,” reads the page on Coffman’s site linked from the Google ad. “For more than a decade, Colorado’s veterans have been promised the state-of-the-art healthcare the hospital will provide – and yet it still sits unfinished and massively over-budget.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee slammed Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema for fundraising off of the VA scandal in the last election.

If you find Coffman’s actions more than a little bit distasteful, well…shame on YOU, says a Coffman spokesman (who is totally not overreacting or anything):

Of course the left wing flacks over on Maryland Ave. who are pitching this story don’t want Mike to talk about his leadership on the campaign trail. The brass over at the VA is kind of hoping Mike shuts up about it too. But let me break the bad news to both – Mike Coffman is going to keep pounding away on the VA’s corruption, whether he is at work in Washington, or whether he is campaigning in Colorado, whether he is driving on Floyd Hill, or running on his tread mill. And the VA page is a petition page, not a fundraising page. Sleazy attacks don’t work on Mike Coffman, people. They just don’t. [Pols emphasis]

Got that? Anybody who complains about this is just sleazy. Mad Mike Coffman is totally not sleazy, and he’s totally not raising money off of the VA’s problems. The link on his website just happens to take you to a page where you could give Coffman money, but that’s not necessarily fundraising, right? Heh heh. Right?

Denver Post shouldn’t forsake its own opinion page

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

You’d be excused for assuming, from all the talk about The Denver Post being in free-fall, that the newspaper is shedding writers like my cat sheds hair in springtime (now).

But it turns out, when you do the bean counting, that The Post has pretty much maintained its editorial staff over the past year or so. If you count two positions that are apparently waiting to be filled, the departed staffers equal the hired/filled positions.

Many veterans have left, leaving serious memory loss, but some excellent reporters have been hired as well (e.g., the newish politics reporters: John Frank, Mark Matthews, Jon Murray.)

You can argue that the journalistic stability at The Post, such as it is, is the owner’s, Digital First Media, transparent attempt to prop up a sick business that’s currently for sale.

Against a backdrop of stability, even if it’s manufactured, you wonder whether the newspaper has plans to replace opinion writer Alicia Caldwell, who left last month. I asked Post Editorial Page Editor Vincent Carroll about this.

“The position that Alicia vacated has not been filled, and I am not currently looking for a replacement,” Carroll told me via email on Thursday. “Alicia was a valuable colleague and I regret that she moved on, but her new job sounds like a great opportunity for her.”

That sounds bad to me.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 21)

We’ve been up early celebrating 4/21. 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…

► The U.S. Senate may finally get around to voting on President Obama’s nomination of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General. If you had “five months” in the pool for “How long will it take for Republicans to approve a new Attorney General?” you might win some money.

► Look on the bright side, Rep. Ken Buck. You almost made it four whole months in D.C. without breaking the law. Don’t forget, Polsters: You read it here first.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Inconsistency mars Post’s Personhood editorials

(Pretty much ridiculous – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Vince Carroll, Denver Post editorial board.

Vince Carroll, Denver Post editorial board.

At the heart of Thursday’s Denver Post editorial supporting State Sen. Bill Cadman’s personhood bill is the argument that Colorado needs a new law to penalize people like Dynel Lane, who faces over 100 years in prison for her horrific attack on Michelle Wilkins, who was pregnant and lost her fetus.

But just last year, The Post argued that existing Colorado law, specifically addressing crimes against pregnant women, was sufficient for cases like Wilkins’.

The 2013 Crimes-Against-Pregnant-Women law balances severe penalties for crimes harming fetuses with the preservation of abortion rights and the protection of pregnant women from criminal investigation.

Here’s what The Post said last week in its editorial endorsing Cadman’s bill:

A 2013 law made it a felony to unlawfully terminate a pregnancy, but it is a Class 3 felony with a sentencing range of 10 to 32 years unless the mother dies — when it becomes a Class 2 felony. The Class 3 felony is utterly inadequate.

But when The Post opposed last year’s personhood amendment, the newspaper argued that even a “horrific incident” did not justify a new law because “the state legislature already made the necessary statutory fix.” Here’s what The Post wrote last year:

The horrific incident laid bare a gap in Colorado law that did not allow authorities to charge the drunken driver with anything for the loss of Brady [an eight-month-old fetus].

The Yes on 67 campaign attempts to capitalize on this circumstance, saying the amendment is needed to protect pregnant mothers from violence. Proponents conveniently ignore the fact that the state legislature already made the necessary statutory fix.

It’s because of this 2013 “statutory fix” that Lane faces the 100-year prison term, because the 2013 Crimes-Against-Pregnant-Women law allows charges to be added on top of one another, over and above the Class 3 felony.

The severe penalties of Colorado’s 2013 law were apparently good enough for The Post last year, but now the statute is suddenly inadequate? What gives?

Clearly, both Cadman’s bill and Amendment 67 are attempts to take advantage of nightmarish incidents to pass different versions of “personhood.” Colorado’s 2013 law, considered the gold standard in balancing women’s rights with criminal justice, was a good argument against Amendment 67, as The Post understood at the time.

Newspaper editorials are supposed to be consistent and above-the-fray, so you’d expect The Post to point again to the 2013 Crimes Against Pregnant Women law and argue against Cadman’s personhood bill. But, alas, no, and the logic of the inconsistency escapes me.