Denver Archbishop: Shun Candidates Supporting Planned Parenthood

(Yeah, and the “War on Women” is a liberal thing — Promoted by Colorado Pols)


You wouldn’t know it, because they were essentially ignored by Denver media (except Channel 7, Denver’s ABC affiliate), but thousands of anti-choice protesters rallied on the west steps of the state capitol Saturday in frigid weather, marking the 43 anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

In speeches, spiked with attacks on Planned Parenthood, rally-goers were exorted to take action on “life” issues–banning all abortion and preventing the legalization of physician-assisted suicide.

The big-cheese speaker at the March for Life event was Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila, who promised, “We will not be silenced,” after telling the crowd to call and email their state legislators–and to attend Colorado’s March caucuses, where political parties select candidates and hash out party platforms.

“Bombard [legislators] with emails,” Aquila said at one point.

Following the lead of his predecessor, former Dener Archbishop Charles Chaput, Aquila promotes political activism by Catholics. He hasn’t gone so far as Chaput did, recommending that faithful Catholics vote against one presidential candidate (Kerry) and for another (Bush). Aquila was nonpartisan on Saturday, urging the protestors to look at candidates through the filter of “life” issues, without mentioning a political party.

But one of the issues that most clearly divides the two parties these days is abortion, with Democrats mostly being pro-choice and Republicans mostly not. Among the presidential candidates, the division among the two parties is shocking.

So Aquila’s decision to focus the attention of Catholics on “life,” issues, rather than, say immigration, poverty, or climate change, puts him in the pocket of Republicans–especially given that he made no mention of the death penalty on Saturday, which is a big issue here in Colorado. Aquila’s priorities are GOP priorities.

You can see this in Aquila’s attitude toward Planned Parenthood, which was slammed at the rally. Ninety-seven percent of Planned Parenthood’s work has nothing to do with abortion but instead with providing women, many of them low-income, with basic health care and family planning.

So does Aquila think Catholics should support candidates who support Planned Parenthood? For an RH Reality Check post, I asked Aquila this question after the rally.

“No,” he told me,”I believe that we really need to give witness to life, and Planned Parenthood does not give witness to life.”

Co-opting the legacy – The Conservative Disneyfication of Martin Luther King

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

@ColoSenGOP took a brief respite from lobbing its normal stream of vitriol and invective at any and all who disagree with its narrow agenda, to praise Dr. Martin Luther King on the day many Republicans fought tooth and nail to never see made a federal holiday.

Today is the day we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s life and mission: to challenge oppression, fight for the downtrodden, and call all of us to bold action in fighting injustice.

Although you might not know it from the social media feeds, the creation of this holiday in 1986 was not warmly embraced by American conservatives. In the revision of history Dr. King’s legacy has been watered down and de-radicalized, just as it has been warmly embraced by right-leaning politicians and pundits.

Meanwhile, King’s popular image—transmitted in elementary school lessons for the holiday—has been drained of its radical social critiques and has instead become a generic symbol of equality and kindness to all.

Take the tribute posted by the highly partisan twitter account of Colorado Senate GOP @ColoSenGOP — highlighting the need for equal justice.

And on his Facebook feed Senator Cory Gardner was also quick to appropriate Dr. King’s legacy.

Sen. Gardner praises Dr. King’s values without noting that King called on all people to make those values tangible in bold action.

Yes, Dr. King embraced the virtues singled out by Gardner, respect, tolerance, and love. But he was not just an eloquent speaker who mouthed nice words. Dr. King was an activist and he professed the need for radical action and not just happy talk and platitudes.

Unlike the conservatives of his time Dr. King stood for public sector unions, against the war in Vietnam, for racial and economic justice.

As part of his Poor People’s Campaign, Dr. King advocated for a social and economic bill of rights which included a right to a minimum income and universal healthcare coverage.

Every man, woman and child should be guaranteed adequate healthcare under the social security system.”

Today calls for a higher minimum wage, universal healthcare, and other economic justice reforms are met, often by the same folks ‘honoring’ King’s legacy, with derision and ridicule.

Much as they were in King’s time and in the 1980s when the holiday was being debated:  “Communism,” they call it, “handouts,” and “identity politics.”


Questions about the hospital provider fee? Read this

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Reporters have struggled to find a short-hand description for the “hospital provider fee,” because  it’s impossible to describe briefly. And lengthy descriptions of it often require multiple readings. And that’s without trying to understand the intracacies of why it’s such a big deal.

So the Colorado Independent did us all a favor by dedicating a full article to: “What you need to know about Colorado’s biggest political battle. It’s called the hospital provider fee, and it’s complicated. Let’s break it down.”

You should take a few minutes to read the entire piece, by the Independent’s Corey Hutchins, but here are a few paragraphs:

The hospital provider fee is a state program requiring hospitals to pay money each year depending on how many patients stayed in hospital beds overnight and how much outpatient services they provided. That money is then used, among other things, to help Coloradans who can’t afford insurance plans get care, and to help the state pay for people who are on Medicaid, which is a government healthcare program for low-income Coloradans and their families.

Each hospital pays a different amount — some pay a lot, some pay nothing — and the fee hauled in nearly $700 million last year. This money is then matched almost dollar for dollar by the federal government to expand Medicaid, provide health coverage for Coloradans who are using emergency rooms for non-emergency treatment, and reimburse hospitals for care. The more money the fee brings in the more money the feds give Colorado to make sure people who can’t afford healthcare get it. Since 2009, the program has helped more than 300,000 people get insurance coverage….

Democratic Sen. Pat Steadman, who sits on the state’s budget committee, explains it like this: Picture a bucket with water pouring in. The incoming water is state revenues, and when the bucket fills to the top (or hits its TABOR limits) water starts pouring over the edge— and that overflowing water (money) goes back to taxpayers in the form of rebates. Now, picture rocks in the bottom of the bucket. One of those big rocks is money from the hospital provider fee. It’s money that takes up space in the bucket, and those who want to take a big rock out can do so by reclassifying the hospital provider fee into an enterprise…

The context of AFP’s [Americans for Prosperity, which opposes the measure] involvement is that it’s a big-time, strategic pressure group with loads of resources and activists that will keep certain lawmakers holding the line on this issue, especially at a time when they need backing to run for re-election.

Meanwhile, the business lobby in Colorado is speaking in a near-monolithic voice for reclassifying the hospital provider fee into an enterprise, as have editorial boards at some of the state’s regional newspapers.

Malheur Yeehawdists Aim to Give Grand Junction Back to Mexico

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

NEW NORTH MEXICO – Hooboy.  #YallQaeda spokesman reveals intent of bird refuge occupiers.

The Citizens for Constitutional Freedom hold daily press conferences to complain about the heavy burden of Uncle Sam from their free-to-them, federally funded, tax payer equipped facilities in the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, designated in 1908 by GOP President Theodore Roosevelt.

The Oregonian is reporting:

BURNS – Protesters holding the bird sanctuary southeast of here want every county in the U.S. to start a process giving back federal land to the previous owners.

They expect that process to start in Harney County with a citizens group processing deeds, according to Ryan Payne, a self-styled militiaman and a key leader of the refuge occupation that started two weeks ago.

In an interview, Payne provided the most clear statement yet about what the occupiers want to achieve. They now call themselves Citizens for Constitutional Freedom.

The public lands in western Colorado and New Mexico, a corner of Wyoming, and all of Utah, California and Nevada–prior to being part of the “federal estate” (or shrinking treaty lands) within the United States–were part of Mexico. As I wrote in another diary about the lands in the North Fork Valley, Colorado:

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.

Britain, France, Mexico and dozens of First American Nations will no doubt be thrilled to know they will soon again have title to vast tracts of the American West. No word yet on if Putin will rear his head in Alaska.

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.

This means that if the Bundy Boys are successful and avoid an extended stay in Florence, they may be surprised when they get back home to find their overseer is no longer a federal employee but a Federale.

Meanwhile, someone better contact Sen. Ray Scott and the Mesa County Commission. As much as both like to kvetch about the burdens of having to protect our shared public lands, clean air, and water supplies they might want to start brushing up on their Spanglish.

Then they can more effectively complain to Mexico City.

Coffman declares immigration reform dead for this year

Appearing on KOA 850-AM’s Morning News Jan. 13, Rep. Mike Coffman first said he doesn’t “see anything happening on immigration reform” in Congress this year.

Then he told radio host April Zesbaugh, “Certainly, I’ve worked hard in my congressional district to break that narrative” that “Republicans are anti-immigrant.”

So he declares immigration reform dead and says he’s not anti-immigrant.

The irony is, if Coffman and his fellow House Republicans weren’t anti-immigrant, immigration reform wouldn’t be dead right now. It would be moving forward, as laid out in the comprehensive immigration reform bill that Coffman opposed and was killed by House Republicans in 2013.

Millions of law-abiding immigrants would be starting to come out of the shadows and living like my own immigrant grandparents did. They’d be paying more taxes, working their asses off, and no longer living in fear of deportation. We’d be spending tens of billions more on border security and have 20,000 agents on the border, too, fwiw. The Chamber of Commerce would be happy. I would feel proud of our country, not guilty, when I see my daughter’s friend holding hands with her immigrant father.

Coffman would no doubt be standing up his his district and saying he actually accomplished something on immigration. As it is, he’s defined by what he’s not done and what he still opposes: birthright citizenship, bilingual ballotscomprehensive immigration reform, a path to citizenship.

With his Spanish lessons and criss-crossing votes for modest reforms, maybe Coffman has worked hard, in terms of rhetoric and smoke screens and cover up, to create a perception of hard work on  immigration, but he was a roadblock to actually accomplishing anything when it really mattered most.

Robert Blaha Makes Senate Bid Official


Not Robert Blaha

And then there were…seven? Or is it eight?

Republican businessman Robert Blaha finally announced his U.S. Senate campaign today after months of fooling around. Blaha “announced” back in September that he would eventually “announce” that he was running for Senate, and here we are at last.

John Frank (again) has the news for the Denver Post:

Republican Robert Blaha officially announced his U.S. Senate bid Thursday with a pledge: “If I am not able to reduce illegal immigration by 50 percent, drastically cut the deficit, and help fix this horrific tax system, I’ll voluntarily leave after one term.”

“We actually making what we call a product guarantee and we are calling the Robert Blaha Product Guarantee,” the Colorado Springs businessman said in an interview with The Denver Post minutes before his official announcement on Fox News radio 600 KCOL. “We are asking to be held accountable and we are laying some very specific criteria up there. You either perform or you leave.”

Yeah, sure, whatever.

This is Robert Blaha

This is Robert Blaha

Regardless, we can’t completely dismiss Blaha because he has proven in the past that he is willing to write big checks to his own campaign (Blaha spent about $800k back in 2012 in a losing bid to knock off Congressman Doug Lamborn). Blaha is going to need to get money from somewhere, because he already has a pretty sizable staff:

His team includes campaign manager Katey Price and consultant Jordan Gerhke, who worked on the 2008 Republican presidential campaign and drew criticism for his work with a direct mail firm. The pollster is Gene Ulm with Public Opinion Strategies. The communications director is Rachel Keane.

So many Colorado Republicans have talked about a 2016 Senate race that we’re having a hard time keeping track of the total count. We’ll call it 8: Tim Neville, Darryl Glenn, Robert Blaha, Ryan Frazier, Jon Keyser, Greg Lopez, Peggy Littleton, and Don Rosier. Former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham may still get in the mix as well.

Raise your hand if you want to take a shot! There’s still time for Ryan Frazier to include your name in his next internal poll.

“I picked Planned Parenthood because it’s murdering little babies.”

During his first media interview since allegedly killing three people at a Planned Parenthod clinic in Colorado Springs, Robert Dear said:

“I felt like they were going to get me, and so I am going to pick where I want to make my last stand. And I picked Planned Parenthood because it’s murdering little babies.”

Dear also told KCNC-TV’s Rick Sallinger that the FBI has been tracking him for 22 years and that agents told police at the scene that he was armed. There’s no evidence that the FBI has ever tracked Dear.

Setting himself up for a shot at an insanity defense, Dear also told Sallinger he made a “spur of the moment” decision to commit the act of terror.

“It wasn’t planned, as far as that goes. It was just a spur of the moment that… okay. They wanted, they wanted to slay, to come for me, they wanted to start a war, and so that’s why I did it,” said Dear.

A couple days before Dear called Sallinger from jail, Colorado State Senate President Bill Cadman told Colorado Public Radio that Republicans will continue investigating Planned Parenthood during the upcoming legislative session. As I reported in a longer piece for RH Reality Check today:

“What we really want to pursue is making sure that taxpayer money doesn’t pay for abortion,” Cadman said when asked by Colorado Public Radio whether he’ll push to defund Planned Parenthood in 2016. “That’s the bottom line. And frankly that’s what our law provides and that’s the protection we want to ensure.”

State Republicans told the Durango Herald last month that they’ll push bills requiring women seeking abortions to be advised of burial and disposal options for their fetuses, and to prevent fetal tissue from being used in research. Another bill has already been introduced that could ban all abortion in Colorado.

Shortly after the Planned Parenthood terrorism in November, Gov. John Hickenlooper said that “inflammatory rhetoric” may drive “emotionally unstable or psychologically unbalanced” people to “commit these acts of unthinkable violence.” He asked people to done down the rhetoric.

Pro-choice activists made the same point later in a widely publicized news conference.

Top 10 Stories of 2015 #3: The Rise of Tim Neville

Could this be the makeup of Colorado's U.S. Senate delegation in 2016?

Sen. Cory Gardner (left) poses with state Sen. Tim Neville. Could this be the makeup of Colorado’s U.S. Senate delegation in 2016?

With the right algorithm, you can calculate almost anything correctly. Using the correct combination of data and logic, a statistical junkie can crunch numbers to make fairly-accurate predictions and analysis about everything from NFL games to business profits and losses.

Politics is different. You can gather all the data you want about politics, but it’s much more difficult to account for the power of perception. Power perceived is power achieved, which is a nice way to sum up one of the biggest political stories of 2015: The Rise of Tim Neville.

Neville served one year in the State Senate in 2012 (he was appointed by a vacancy committee) before reapportionment left him a legislator without a district. In 2014, Neville ran for Senate in SD-16, defeating Democratic incumbent Jeanne Nicholson in one of the most competitive races of the cycle – and helping Republicans capture a one-seat majority in the State Senate.

When the 2015 legislative session convened, Neville wielded the gavel as the Chair of both the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Technology Committee, but he was not selected by his caucus to an official leadership position. Neville lacked the seniority to earn one of the top six positions in the Senate caucus (President, President Pro Tempore, Majority Leader, Assistant Majority Leader, Majority Caucus Chair, and Majority Whip), but that didn’t prevent him from taking control.

By the time the 2015 session came to an end, Neville still didn’t have a cool leadership title – but he had something better. Neville had become the true leader of the Republican caucus, in both chambers, and he had the juice to force Senate President Bill Cadman to grant a late-bill exception for a politically dubious piece of legislation requiring ultrasounds for women considering an abortion. As we wrote in this space in late April, Tim Neville is the Real Senate President:

Neville has emerged as the most prominent Republican of the 2015 legislative session, leading the charge on the controversial anti-vaxxer “Parent’s Bill of Rights,” among other lost causes. The Neville Nutters have been positioning themselves as something of a political “dynasty” in recent years, including Tim’s sons, Rep. Patrick Neville, and Joe Neville, a top lobbyist for the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (whose Executive Director, Dudley Brown, thinks he owns the Senate); as well as sister-in-law Julie Williams of the Jefferson County School Board. It’s probably not a coincidence that all of the sponsors of SB-285 are also known backers of RMGO.

Senate President Bill Cadman does the bidding of state Sen. Tim Neville.

Senate President Bill Cadman does the bidding of state Sen. Tim Neville.

Thanks in part to his uncompromising right-wing beliefs, no Republican lawmaker made more headlines in 2015 than Neville. Senate President Bill Cadman is term-limited in 2016, and if Republicans are able to keep control of the State Senate, we wouldn’t bet against Neville becoming Senate President in title as well as action.

That is, of course, unless Neville finds himself in a different Senate body next January.

When Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) announced in June that he would not run for U.S. Senate in 2016, we suggested in this space that Neville could be an interesting candidate for the Republican Senate nomination and the right to take on incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver):

We have no idea whatsoever if Neville has even contemplated a U.S. Senate campaign, but it’s not difficult to see how you could make an argument for him here. Neville received more publicity than any other Republican in the Colorado legislature this year, and he doesn’t have to worry about re-election until 2018. Neville has a good base of conservative support from the religious right and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), so he’s already well positioned to win a Republican Primary — and once you become the GOP nominee in a competitive state like Colorado, there’s always a chance that national groups take notice and decide to jump onboard. Look at this from Neville’s perspective…what’s the downside?

Lo and behold, by the end of the summer, Neville was moving confidently in the direction of the U.S. Senate at the same time “establishment” Republicans continued their frantic search for a candidate who matched up well against Bennet. While Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler was hemming and hawing about a potential Senate bid, Neville quietly announced a statewide “listening tour” to lay the groundwork for a U.S. Senate campaign of his own.

When Neville formally kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign in early January, he made it clear that he would be running as a right-wing Republican in right-wing Republican clothing, promising to focus his campaign on divisive issues such as abortion and gun rights. Neville can do this because he has spent years cultivating relationships with hard-right groups and individuals who share his zeal and ideals. He is a less bombastic version of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who has risen to the top tier of Republican Presidential candidates because he so openly defies any attempt at bipartisanship in the U.S. Senate.

Neville has strong support from the religious right and hardline conservatives (including Tea Party enthusiasts), and he has the financial backing of prominent anti-abortion and gun rights organizations. That may not be enough to win a General Election against Bennet, but it’s more than enough to capture the Republican nomination in the June Primary. The field of GOP candidates for Senate is rapidly increasing (we’re up to eight, at last count), but none of those candidates can lay out a strategy for getting past Neville first.

It would be difficult to name another Colorado politician who had a better year in 2015 than Tim Neville. If all goes according to plan, it will be difficult to name somoene who had a better year in 2016, either.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Jan. 13)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowLet’s get this legislative party started! 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).


► The Colorado legislature is back in session today for a day of speechifying and rhetorical table-setting. Governor John Hickenlooper spoke with reporters on Tuesday in advance of today’s opening day, and as Charles Ashby reports for the Grand Junction Sentinel, Hick publicly endorsed Peyton Manning for quarterback of the Denver Broncos…and also talked about budget stuff:

“I’m pretty optimistic that once they have all the facts, they will write an opinion that confirms what we’ve been working on,” the governor said. “But we’re going to be having to look at the budget and say, ‘Well, we might have the hospital provider fee and we might not.’ At least in the first month or so, we’re going have to assume that we don’t have it … and we’ve got to be discussing what our priorities are.”

The issue is that the provider fee, which is expected to reach more than $750 million this year, has come up against TABOR’s strict revenue limits, forcing a mandatory refund to taxpayers even though taxpayers don’t pay that fee.

Taking that money out from under TABOR and turning the provider fee program into a government-owned business, or enterprise, which the 1992 constitutional allows, would free up more money for other services, the governor said.

Not doing it would mean cuts to such things as higher education, human services, K-12 spending and transportation, the governor said, adding that it could end up costing individual taxpayers more than they would get in a refund.

Elsewhere, a group of Colorado mayors spoke out on Tuesday about the need to “de-Bruce” from TABOR.


► President Obama delivered his seventh — and final — “State of the Union” speech on Tuesday evening. Obama deviated from the traditional SOTU speechifying standard of listing a bunch of policy priorities to instead talk about America’s strength and growth in recent years, and to warn Americans about listening too closely to “election year cynicism.” Obama also talked about Congress being a workplace that is wholly unlike anywhere else in the country; he could have been talking about Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora).

Colorado’s Congressional delegation responded to Obama’s speech pretty much exactly how you would have guessed they might. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley delivered the Republican response to the SOTU, and her speech was widely panned by the right-wing.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


President Obama Could Have Been Talking About Mike Coffman Last Night

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

There’s a local angle on Obama’s comment last night that “some of the only people in America who are going to work the same job, in the same place, with a health and retirement package, for 30 years, are sitting in this chamber. For everyone else, especially folks in their forties and fifties, saving for retirement or bouncing back from job loss has gotten a lot tougher.”

The local connection was sitting in front of Obama in the form of Mike Coffman. He’s part of an even smaller number of people who’ve fought to abolish retirement packages, like the ones Members of Congress get, even though he’s receiving a $55,000 retirement package (from the state of Colorado) while, at the same time, drawing a $174,000 salary as a U.S. Congressman.

As the National Journal’s Shane Goldmacher reported in 2013 when Coffman was urging Members of Congress to give up their pensions:

If there’s one thing I learned in both the United States Army and the Mar­ine Corps about lead­er­ship, it was lead­ing by ex­ample,” Coff­man lec­tured them, point­ing to his chest at a com­mit­tee hear­ing. “Nev­er ask any­one to do any­thing that you your­self would not be will­ing to do.”

What Coff­man left un­said that day in a speech about his bill’s “sym­bol­ic” im­port­ance was that he was col­lect­ing a $55,547 state-gov­ern­ment pen­sion in ad­di­tion to his con­gres­sion­al paycheck. Hav­ing spent two dec­ades as an elec­ted of­fi­cial in Col­or­ado, he has re­ceived re­tire­ment be­ne­fits since 2009, the year he ar­rived in Con­gress.

But, Goldmacher asked Coffman later, doesn’t the Aurora Congressman realize he’s taking a defined-benefit pension, like the one he’s opposing?

“I am,” he told Goldmacher. “I am.”

At the time, I hoped reporters would ask Coffman directly, does Coffman see any hypocrisy in his own actions? And if so, what does he think he should do about it and why?

No one asked him, but it’s not too late.

Cowliphate Goes Full Sovereign Citizen – With CO Ties

(It was probably inevitable that #YallQaeda would try to invent their own legal system — promoted by Colorado Pols)

Judge Dredd is not really a judge.

Judge Dredd is not really a judge…or a real person, for that matter.

According to local paper The Oregonian, the bunch of yahoos staking their claim on the Malheur Wildlife Refuge have now found themselves a self-proclaimed “United States Superior Court Judge.” Bruce Doucette has arrived from Littleton, CO, where he supposedly has “retired” as a “judge” to do computer repair work.

Doucette claims the Bundy Bunch have shown him “significant” evidence of crimes committed by the Federal government, and that he will certify the charges after they’ve been formally brought by a “grand jury” consisting of members of a local committee that’s been formed called the “Harney County Committee for Safety”.

All of this, of course, is udder cow-patty nonsense. There is no US official titled ‘Superior Court Judge’, and Doucette has no law degree nor even a lick of common sense. He does, however, have an interesting history as a “judge”. His name turns up on a number of Sovereign Citizen blogs and even news posts – always with the same “Superior Court Judge” title he’s claiming now.

He has appointed himself to defend Sovereign Citizen “Judge” Steve Curry of Montrose, who “filed” a $249 trillion “US gold dollar” lien against the American and International Bar Associations as well as the US Government. Curry was jailed for selling fake meteorites on eBay with claims that they were 80% tax deductible (and also making a supposed $58 million donation of “meteorites” to the local historical society) – not sure how the lien thing fit in with Doucette’s representation of him – the blog post was more interested in the so-called lien…

Doucette also offered to “represent” landowners in Costilla County this year over off-grid residency. He was brought in by another convicted thief (and child abandonment convict), Rodger Marsh, founder of a group called Operation Patriot Rally.

It’s not much of a surprise that the clueless yahoos currently involved in the armed takeover of Federal property in Oregon are aligned with the Sovereign Citizen movement. Even before this development they were “somewhere along the sliding scale” that leads toward the bamboozling Sovereign Citizens. Doucette’s arrival and acceptance by the group does little more than cement just how far down the scale they are…

State of the Union Open Thread

Polsters,  this is President Obama’s final State of the Union address. You can watch it live here. on PBS, or here on Huffpost. He is expected to urge Democratic candidates to carry on his policies, and he is expected to critique the hate and fear mongering from the right.

State of the Union, with Ryan dyspepsia.

It’s not known if he will talk about the ten American sailors being held captive in Iran.

The Congressional Black Caucus chose to make a statement by lining the aisles to greet and cheer for the President. Knowing that the right wing already has their talking points tweeting out about “weakness”, “ineffectiveness”, etc, they want to stand up for this President, and what he has managed to get done.

Like a good professor, Obama tells his audience what questions he will answer.

  1. How do we give everyone a shot at opportunity in this new economy?
  2. How do we get technology to work for us and not against us, especially given climate change?
  3. How do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman?
  4. How can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?

On the economy, he touts the fact that the American economy is strong, the jobless rate is down. He promotes the free pre-K for all, two free years of community college. He sounds a lot like Bernie Sanders.

Health insurance benefits should be portable, which was the point of the Affordable Care Act. And no, he’s not promoting a single payer program, even with the risk-free lame duck status.  A shame.

On technology, he announces a new National Health Institute research program to cure cancer. Joe Biden is in charge of “getting it done”.

He says that if you still want to debate the science of climate change, “Have at it. But you’ll be pretty lonely.” He’s promoting clean energy tech big time. Good call.

“In fields from Arizona to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than coal.”

“We’ve gotta accelerate the transition away from old, dirtier energy sources.”

Wow. It sounds like he’s advocating for a carbon fee. Go Obama.

So on to safety. “These days, we’re threatened less by evil empires, and more by failed states.” Nice.

Um, none of the generals in the audience is applauding. That can’t be a good thing.

“We don’t need to build up ISIL. We need to stop promoting the lie that somehow they are representative of one of the world’s largest religions.”

Paul Ryan is practicing his skeptical pose. He tries tilting his head first to one side, then the other. Now he’s trying a chin stroke. Perhaps he misses his beard.

“If you doubt the United States determination, or mine, just ask Osama Bin Laden. Ask the leader of Al Qaeda in Yemen. Ask the leader of the Benghazi attack.”

He reminds us that US forces saved millions of lives by halting the spread of Ebola in Africa.

Now he’s promoting TPP.  A reminder that he is a corporate centrist, and not a union supporter, in spite of the support unions have given him.

Reminder that he opened relations with Cuba – yes, another accomplishment.

He claims that we are on the verge of ending HIV/AIDS, and wants to do the same with malaria.  Can this possibly be true?

On to the meat of how our politics need to bring out the best, and not the worst, in us.

Trey Gowdy looks like the ghost of David Bowie with acid reflux. He is not feeling this “poltics bring out the best” deal.

A plea to stop targeting Muslims and immigrants.

Up to now, he’s been Reasonable Obama, pleading for sense and rationality from the irrational. Now on to the rhetoric of the Obama we know and voted for. Winding it all up with “We the people”. All of us. A better politics doesn’t mean we agree on everything.

His basic themes of unity and common interest, bipartisanship, the basic decency of the American people.

“Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get all the attention.” I have no doubt that a President with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have managed to bridge the divide. And I’m gonna keep trying to get better, as long as I hold this office.”

“We have to reduce the influence of money in politics”.

“We need to make it easier to vote, not harder. We need to modernize elections. This is America. We want to make it easier for people to participate.”

Changes in our political process – not just who gets elected, but how they get elected, depends on you. (paraphrased)

I’m convinced that Paul Ryan has an itch on the back of his neck, and is trying to scratch it by rolling his head back and forth.

Our future depends on your willingness to uphold your duties as a citizen. To vote, speak out, especially for the weak. Especially for the vulnerable. We need every American to stay active in our public life, not just at election time, so that our public life reflects the decency that I see every day.

Now he’s evoking the diverse American lives  – the student, the teacher, the protester, the police officer, the boss, the worker, etc.

Now he sounds like Walt Whitman, evoking the America we love. Clear-eyed, big-hearted, optimistic that unconditional love will bring us through.

And he’s winding it up.

Well, at the risk of rotten cabbages flung from the left and right, I liked this speech. I’m proud of our President, with all of his shortcomings and might-have beens. I think that he has been a leader who has kept us from going over Bush’s brink, has managed to buy us a little more time to save life on the planet.

Publisher of Glendale Cherry Creek newspaper says Obama “doesn’t like” Christians

President Obama gives his last State of the Union Address tonight at 7 p.m.

Presaging the type of sophisticated criticism we’ll see of the speech on talk radio, KNUS 710-AM’s host Chuck Bonniwell, who’s also the publisher of the Glendale Cherry Creek Chonicle, accused Obama Saturday of disliking Christians.

“He’s a left-wing secularist,” Bonniwell said on air of Obama. “He grew up in a country, Indonesia, part of his life, from which he got  a favorable view of Islam, because he went to a school that had a favorable view. And since then, he’s the same secularist. But he knows what he doesn’t like, and that’s Christians. That’s the one group he knows did the crusades and everything awful.” [BigMedia emphasis] Listen @ 26 minutes here.

Bonniwell is trained as a lawyer, but he doesn’t think much of Obama’s legal mind either.

“I’d hate to have taken a class from that idiot,” said Bonniwell on KNUS, referring to Obama’s tenure as a professor of constitutional law. Bonniwell hosts a Saturday morning show on KNUS 710-AM with co-host Julie Hayden, his wife and a Fox 31 Denver reporter. He didn’t return a call for comment, even though he’s in the newspaper business.

Whoops! Jon Keyser’s Own Words Trip Up Campaign Announcement

State Rep. Jon Keyser (R-Morrison), sans feet-in-mouth.

State Rep. Jon Keyser (R-Morrison), sans feet-in-mouth.

Freshman state Rep. Jon Keyser formally launched his campaign for U.S. Senate on Monday. It was quite an inauspicious start for the half-term lawmaker from Morrison.

As Peter Marcus reports for the Durango HeraldKeyser’s campaign wasn’t even a few hours old before Keyser ran into trouble over his own words:

ProgressNow Colorado on Monday filed a complaint with the Judge Advocate General’s Corps for the Air Force, alleging that Keyser violated Air Force rules by engaging in politics while on active duty.

Keyser is a major in the Air Force Reserve.

ProgressNow highlighted a Dec. 10 report by The Colorado Statesman, which interviewed Keyser regarding his likely candidacy. Keyser told The Statesman, “right now I’m focused on national security and serving our country in uniform as a member of the Air Force Reserve.”

The article – citing an unnamed source – also noted that Keyser attended a luncheon on a day off from military duties, where he received $3 million in commitments to back his campaign.

The Judge Advocate General’s office had not received the complaint as of Monday afternoon. Generally, such complaints are handled through an internal investigation through the accused’s command post. The Inspector General of the Air Force could also investigate.

The National Journal was among the media outlets to pick up on the Herald story. Keyser supporters were quick to try to dismiss the complaint as partisan politics, but Keyser has only himself to blame for his inexplicable statements to the Colorado Statesman last month. Take a closer look at Keyser’s comments from the Dec. 10th Statesman story [all emphasis is ours]:

“I’m strongly considering it,” Keyser said in an interview with The Colorado Statesman this week. “Right now I’m focused on national security and serving our country in uniform as a member of the Air Force Reserve.”

Keyser, who holds the rank of major in the Air Force Reserve, has been deployed on a training mission in Florida this month as part of a mission to combat terrorist and transnational criminal networks in Central and South America, a spokesman said. He returns to Colorado next week.

“There’s not a campaign yet,” Keyser. “But as I spend a few weeks serving in the military, I think now more than ever, our nation is at a crossroads and the threats we face are enormous. This is a pivotal time in our nation’s history.”…

…Following a recent visit to Washington, D.C., where Keyser attended the Republican Jewish Coalition’s presidential forum luncheon last week as an invited guest on a day off from his duties, he received $3 million in commitments of soft money to back his campaign, said a source familiar with the matter.

If you’re scoring at home, you can mark this down as an “unforced error” by Keyser.

The Keyser Senate campaign is clearly intending to focus on his military background as a primary selling point, but Keyser really stuck both feet in his mouth with his comments to the Statesman. This wasn’t just a one-off thing, either; Keyser talks about “serving our country in uniform” in the same breath as a potential Senate bid, and he does so in two separate quotations.

The U.S. Military has specific rules about combining politics with military service. It is too early to tell if Keyser’s words will lead to a formal investigation by the Air Force or Department of Defense, but regardless of the outcome, it’s important to repeat that Keyser is being tripped up by his own words here. This was a completely avoidable and unnecessary mistake by someone who will need to defend himself against Republican critics who worry that Keyser is too inexperienced for such a big leap in elected office.

This isn’t the first time that Keyser has made a weird, unforced political error, either. In October 2013, when Keyser was first running for his state House seat, he falsely alleged that there was a problem with Colorado’s voting system because he received two ballots instead of one. Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson, a Republican, immediately noticed that Keyser’s “second ballot” was not a duplicate, but a separate ballot for a special taxation district election related to property Keyser owned outside of Jefferson County. Go back and read the story before you try to argue that this was an innocent mistake by Keyser and not an intentional lie.

Keyser is going to need to run a tight campaign if he hopes to defeat state Sen. Tim Neville in a Republican Primary in June. These are the kind of boneheaded moves that will only add to the perception that Neville is unbeatable with GOP voters.

Donald Trump CAN Be the GOP Nominee; What Does That Mean for Colorado?

Hair by Donald, head by Coffman.

Hair by Donald, head by Coffman.

Republican critics of Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump have often used some variation of the line that “Trump won’t be the nominee” as an excuse to avoid offering an opinion on some of the more bombastic statements from His Hairness.

Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) — who for some reason is absolutely terrified of saying anything about Trump — has used this very excuse himself as he ducks and dodges repeated attempts by reporters to get him to talk about Trump. This is odd for a number of reasons, as we’ve written before, not the least because Coffman has already publicly endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for President. As our friends at “The Fix” reported over the weekend, not only can Trump win the GOP nomination for President…recent history suggests he’s in the catbird’s seat:

But the fact that Trump is ahead nationally and that he is running first or second in Iowa and New Hampshire is meaningful, argues Sam Wang over at the Princeton Election Consortium.

Wang’s argument is that based on recent electoral history and where Trump stands in polling today, the real estate billionaire actually has a very good chance at being the Republican nominee.

Here’s the historical comparison from Sam Wang, with Trump’s current poll positions factored into the equation:


As Wang says about the numbers: “This emphasizes the fact that based on polling data, Donald Trump is in as strong a position to get his party’s nomination as Hillary Clinton in 2016, George W. Bush in 2000, or Al Gore in 2000.”

State Sen. Tim Neville.

State Sen. Tim Neville.

Trump “won’t be the nominee?” We’ll see — history would seem to suggest otherwise. If Trump is the GOP nominee, it’s going to make things mighty awkward for Coffman when if reporters ask why he ducked Trump questions for so many months.

Should Trump capture the Republican nomination for President, it will also have a significant effect in Colorado’s increasingly-crowded GOP Senate Primary. The main argument that critics make against Sen. Tim Neville — still the odds-on favorite to win the June Primary — is to question Neville’s “electability” in a General Election matchup with incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver).

National polls have shown that potential GOP voters aren’t concerned about the question of “electability” in a General Election, and a Trump victory would prove that point. If “electability” doesn’t hurt Trump, it becomes a much weaker argument to use against Neville in advance of the June Primary.