Yes, Republicans Are Standing Behind JoAnn Windholz

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

The Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland updates the ongoing controversy over freshman GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz’s remarks in the wake of the Planned Parenthood domestic terror attack in Colorado Springs. Readers will recall Windholz very pointedly asserted that Planned Parenthood is the “real culprit” behind the shootings, a statement she later removed from social media but has to this date not apologized for or even publicly commented on.

Windholz’s comments spread nationally with the story of the Planned Parenthood attack, and the backlash has been fairly intense. Windholz won her HD-30 seat by the narrowest of margins in 2014, an election much more favorable to Republicans than 2016 is expected to be. While some Democrats have pushed for a speedy recall of Windholz, more strategic-minded Democrats believe it would be better to face this weakened opponent in the general election.

The unknown variable in this is how Windholz’s fellow Republicans would decide to proceed–by forcing her resignation, or doubling down in support of their incumbent in order to hold a seat they have to hold to retain any hope of flipping the House next year. And that’s where Goodland picks up the story:

Rep. JoAnn Windholz still has her party’s support in the 2016 race after she blamed Planned Parenthood for inciting the Nov. 27 rampage at a Colorado Springs clinic, referring to the health organization as the “real culprit” in the murder of three.

Adams County GOP leaders Warren Main and Gary Mikes lauded her record as a lawmaker. She is very religious and has “high morals,” Main told The Colorado Independent.

And there you have it, folks. Obviously there are higher-level Republicans who might have other ideas we haven’t heard yet, but support from Windholz’s local Adams County Republicans is without a doubt crucial to her thinking going into 2016.

To paraphrase the Sound of Music, how do Republicans solve a problem like JoAnn Windholz? Should they have pushed her to quickly resign, which would have outraged the pro-life Republican base but given them someone else to hold this seat? Are they right to calculate on Windholz being able to “live this down” Cory Gardner-style as these comments from Adams County Republicans suggest? Or is it all just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic, ahead of a 2016 election in a lost-cause district that Republicans should just write off?

The one thing we’re pretty sure of is that none of this is good for them.

Court outburst validates concerns about extreme anti-choice rhetoric, activists say

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

For an RH Reality Check post today, I collected the responses of pro-choice activists to last week’s court appearance by the accused Planned Parenthood domestic terrorist, during which he shouted, “I’m a warrior for the babies.”

Were his outbursts further proof that extreme anti-choice rhetoric contributed to the November 27 murders in Colorado Springs?

“I think Dear’s comments remove any doubt as to what his motive was,” Amy Runyon-Harms, director of ProgressNow Colorado, said in an email to RH Reality Check. “Elected officials who use over-the-top rhetoric in an effort to appease their base need to think twice before doing so and recognize the impact their words have on others.”

Karen Middleton, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, agreed.

“The attacks have gotten worse, and the fact that the gunman repeated the same rhetoric about ‘baby parts’ we’ve heard from abortion opponents is not a coincidence,” Middleton toldRH Reality Check. “Words have meaning, and people inclined to violence can act on that meaning in awful ways. The result here is that an Iraq war veteran, a mother of two, and a police officer lost their lives, and six children lost their parent….”

“We know that words matter,” Vicki Cowart, director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said in the statement. “It is time to put an end to the dangerous rhetoric that has permeated our political conversations. Enough is enough—this violence, whether inflicted with words or with weapons, cannot become our normal.”

You recall that at a December 1 news conference on the west steps of the capitol, activists named three anti-choice politicians, Rep. Mike Coffman, State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, and State Sen. Tim Neville, as using rhetoric that contributed to the shooting in Colorado Springs.

Dr. Chaps Says Planned Parenthood Execs Have “Same Demonic Spirit of Murder” As Terrorist

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Carly Fiorina (right), with Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Carly Fiorina (right), with Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

UPDATE: In response to my question of whether he thinks there’s any difference between the Planned Parenthood domestic terrorist and Planned Parenthood executives, Klingenschmitt said via email, “I’ve been consistent in my statements calling for an end to ALL of the violence, not just half of the violence as the pro-abortionists do.  They remain inconsistent in their calls to end some violence, while they engage in violent behavior against children behind closed doors.”

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“Listen, the shooter was filled with the demonic spirit of murder,” said State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, a Republican, told Colorado Springs radio station KLZ 560-AM four days after the shooting (at 6:20 below). “And yet, the Planned Parenthood executives who call for not just the murder but the profiting from selling aborted baby parts, as we’ve seen from their own lips on the videos of the Center for Medical Progress over the summer, they have that same demonic spirit of murder.”

“Absolutely. Abolutely,” responded KLZ host Steve Curtis, who’s a former chair of the Colorado Republican Party.

Klingenschmitt did not immediately return an email seeking to know if he sees any difference between Planned Parenthood executives and the domestic terrorist.

Other anti-choice leaders have responded to the tragedy by objecting to the abortions at Planned Parenthood as well as the murders committed by the terrorist, but Klingenschmitt went further Dec. 1 by equating Planned Parenthood officials to the terrorist.

Klingenschmitt was one of three Republicans, along with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) and U.S. Senate candidate Tim Neville, whom pro-choice activists accused last week of inciting clinic violence through their use of “extreme” rhetoric.

“Never have I called for violence. In fact, we abhor the actions of the violent shooter,” Klingenschmitt also said during the radio interview (at 4:25 below).

(more…)

Planned Parenthood Terrorist: “I’m a Warrior For The Babies”

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

A dramatic day in court for domestic terrorist Robert Lewis Dear, who leapt to his feet during his arraignment hearing today to confirm his motives for his murderous assault on the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs late last month. AP reports:

In court Wednesday, Robert Dear said the state public defender’s office wants to seal documents and limit discussion of his case to hide what he saw inside the clinic.

Dear shouted, “You’ll never know what I saw in that clinic. Atrocities. The babies. That’s what they want to seal.”

Dear noted that his attorney also represented Colorado theater shooter James Holmes. He says attorney Daniel King “drugged” Holmes, and “he wants to do that to me.”

…The man accused of killing three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic says he’s guilty and that he’s a “warrior for the babies.” [Pols emphasis]

In the immediate aftermath of the attack on Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs on November 27th, abortion opponents flailed wildly trying to distance themselves and their summerlong campaign of lies about the organization from the shooter’s actions. Conservative media, followed by local social media voices and Republican elected officials all the way up to Ted Cruz, clung to any unsourced rumor about the shooter’s motives: that he was a “transgender leftist,” that he was a bank robber “gone wild,” and various other deflections. Even after news reports surfaced that Robert Dear had used the words “no more baby parts” when explaining his actions to police, investigators in ultra-conservative Colorado Springs were unusually slow to “speculate” about Dear’s motive.

After today’s outburst in court, we’d say it’s time to stop speculating.

Colorado Republican leader vows to continue investigating Planned Parenthood

(They just can’t help themselves – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Last week’s terrorism at a Planned Parenthood center won’t stop Colorado state Sen. Kevin Lundberg from conducting hearings on the women’s health organization and pushing for a state investigation.

In a Facebook post three days after the shooting, Lundberg wrote that he took advantage of a budget hearing to ask Larry Wolk, Colorado’s chief medical officer, why Wolk hasn’t launched an investigation into whether the women’s health organization violated state laws relating to fetal-tissue research.

The Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reported on the incident Tuesday:

Despite the tragedy still fresh for the public and victims’ families, Republicans on Tuesday wasted no time, getting right back to the fetal body parts issue. Remarks came during a budget hearing with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

“Will the department be taking some action to deal with this inadequacy?” asked Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, pointing out that the state health department has taken no action against Planned Parenthood on the fetal body parts issue.

Later, Lundberg wrote on his Facebook page that he has “specific questions” that he intends to ask Wolk during the legislative session, and Wolk ageed to testify.

“I finally had a brief opportunity to question the Colorado Health Department director, Dr. Wolk, concerning his department’s failure to thoroughly investigate possible violations of Colorado law concerning fetal tissue trafficking,” Lundberg wrote on Facebook.

Wolk’s told Lundberg at the hearing that he did not see “any connection to Colorado” in heavily-edited undercover videos, some of which featured Colorado Planned Parenthood officials. And he said he’s always available to answer questions from Lundberg.

“This despite his refusal to come or send anyone from his department to the RSCC Fetal Tissue Trafficking Hearing held on November 9,” Lundberg wrote on Facebook.

(more…)

With or Without You: Windholz Faceplant Stymies Colorado GOP

UPDATE: Democratic CD-6 candidate Morgan Carroll slams JoAnn Windholz and pressures Rep. Mike Coffman to, you know, say something:

State Senator Morgan Carroll released the following statement condemning Rep. JoAnn Windholz’s statement and calling on Congressman Coffman to walk his talk and do the same.

“It’s deeply disturbing and dangerous for Rep. JoAnn Windholz to blame Planned Parenthood and the victims of this attack for this atrocity,” said State Senator Morgan Carroll. “She needs to retract her statement with a sincere apology to the victims of this violence or else step down.”

“As an elected leader in this community, if Congressman Coffman meant what he said in his statement, he should join me in condemning the statement of Rep. Windholz and ask for her to retract it with an apology or step down.”

Moral: when you’ve become the stick Democrats use to beat up your fellow Republicans with, you’ve screwed the proverbial pooch.

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GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

As the Aurora Sentinel reports today, GOP freshman Rep. JoAnn Windholz’s unfiltered moment this week, in which she explicitly blamed Planned Parenthood for the actions of a domestic terrorist who attacked the organization’s clinic in Colorado Springs is causing major headaches for local Republican strategists. Windholz’s extremely narrow margin of victory in 2014 makes her highly vulnerable to begin with in the upcoming presidential election year, and with this messaging disaster piled on…well, it doesn’t look real good for her.

And that’s assuming she lasts that long:

Critics have begun an effort to recall Adams County state Rep. JoAnn Windholz following comments she made this week about Planned Parenthood being responsible for a deadly shooting at one of their clinics in Colorado Springs.

Two people both critical of Windholz’ comments became acquainted on social media this week and decided to begin the recall effort, using Facebook themselves to make the recall happen. Leading the process is Steve Cohn of Longmont, and Naomi Bigwood of Adams County, who lives in House District 3o, represented by Windholz…

“…Windholz has NO BUSINESS governing Colorado in any capacity,” Cohn and Bigwood said on a Facebook site dedicated to her recall . “Irresponsible rhetoric like hers is what caused the shooting.”

For its part, the Colorado Republican Party has issued a statement distancing itself from Windholz’s remarks, but according to the Sentinel has no plans to ask Windholz to resign her highly competitive seat:

Steve House, Colorado’s GOP chairman, said the comments Windholz made do not reflect the view of the Colorado Republican Party. He said the party will not ask Windholz to resign because of the comments.

“We have and will continue to condemn acts of violence, regardless of the motivations behind them,” he said in a statement. “Violence, under any circumstance, is never acceptable.”

It should be noted that the statement from the Colorado GOP doesn’t specifically name Rep. Windholz, simply noting that “some” officials have made statements since last week’s shooting that “do not reflect the views of the Colorado Republican Party.” That’s the same boilerplate language that GOP chairman Steve House and his predecessor Ryan Call have repeatedly cut and pasted to respond to grossly impolitic statements from GOP lawmakers like Sen. Vicki Marble and Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt.

Who, we are obliged to note, both remain in office.

What we’ve heard, at least initially, is that there isn’t much appetite on the Democratic side to carry out a recall election against Windholz–since they felt confident after her razor-thin margin of victory in a strong “GOP wave” election that 2016 would be a pickup opportunity. With the addition of this major message disaster to Windholz’s baggage train, it’s reasonable to assume that a defeat in 2016 is even more likely. On the other side, sources tell us Republicans are highly reticent to do anything that might damage Windholz, operating on the hope that she can live this “gaffe” down and retain the advantage of incumbency.

We’d say they’re probably both making the best possible choice from their respective points of view–but Windholz, or even a “generic” Republican candidate (in case the GOP was considering finding one), was most likely going down in 2016 anyway.

For all of these reasons, re-arranging the Titanic’s proverbial deck chairs may not be worth the effort.

Facts vs. Fear As Terrorism Debate Intensifies

san-bernardino011_3516486bThe Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus has an insightful story up today discussing the similarities and disparities between recent fears over terrorism in the United States and last week’s domestic terror attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs–a story already taking on additional relevance as news events elsewhere add urgency:

Members of Colorado’s congressional delegation continue to look overseas to stop terrorists attacks, as groups in Colorado say the spotlight should be placed here in America after last week’s shooting spree at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood.

Perhaps the most vocal member of the delegation has been U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, who called for halting a Syrian refugee program after the Paris terrorist attacks last month, in which at least 130 people died…

But groups in Colorado and across the nation say Congress should also be looking at domestic terrorism.

The calls have grown after last Friday’s Planned Parenthood shootings, in which a police officer and two civilians were killed at a clinic in Colorado Springs. A clear motive has yet to be released by authorities, but reports suggest that the suspect referred to “baby parts” upon surrendering. Reproductive-rights advocates believe the incident should be treated as domestic terrorism against women…

“History has demonstrated that refugees fleeing violence and oppression in other nations are not a threat to the United States,” said Amy Runyon-Harms, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado. “Reasonable measures to ensure security while meeting humanitarian obligations are acceptable.

“But as we tragically learned last week in Colorado Springs, terrorism can be entirely homegrown,” she said. “In both cases, what is needed now is clear-headed responsibility and compassion – not fear and falsehoods.”

Yesterday, yet another horrific mass shooting left 14 people dead and more injured at a holiday party of San Bernardino, California county employees. The case in San Bernardino, as of this writing, may involve “mixed motives” of both workplace violence and a potential connection being reported today to international terrorism.

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

The biggest problem with using yesterday’s shooting in San Bernardino to underscore Rep. Scott Tipton’s argument against admitting Syrian refugees to the United States, as Republicans are quickly seeking to do today, is that the attackers were not refugees. Despite their Middle Eastern surnames, the principal attacker and county employee was a U.S. citizen, and his apparent spouse and co-conspirator came into the country on a fiancee visa. The circumstances as we understand them today, admittedly based on limited available information, do not bolster the case for denying entry of Syrian refugees into the United States in any way. Refugees are subject to vastly higher degrees of scrutiny then people who come to this country on tourist, student, business, and yes, marital visas.

And that means what happened in San Bernardino yesterday, on a practical level, has more in common with the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood terror attack than last month’s ISIS terrorist attack in Paris. It means the remedies needed are domestic remedies, not punitive action against helpless refugees.

Unfortunately, those facts may well be subsumed by public panic if connections to international terrorism in the San Bernardino attack are confirmed. Surnames, skin color, and religion are likely to be as far as many Americans choose to read before rendering a xenophobic judgment. But the truth as we understand it now from San Bernardino does not reinforce Tipton’s demagoguery against refugees. Sen. Michael Bennet, who has sponsored legislation to enhance screening of refugees but does not support a wholesale freeze, is much closer to the levelheaded measures needed–without giving the terrorists the victory of frightening us into rejecting refugees who are in many cases fleeing those same terrorists.

In short, these are the moments when it’s hard to do the right thing. But also the moments when doing the right thing matters most.

Sen. Laura Woods Deletes Freaky Facebook Post

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

The ability to instantly reach a vast audience of people via social media is becoming a real “kiss/curse” for some of the more radical Republican elected officials in Colorado following last week’s terror attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. We’ve talked at length now about the angry screed from Rep. JoAnn Windholz of Adams County, in which she directly blamed Planned Parenthood for the attack on its own clinic. After that posting made national news yesterday, it was deleted–but the quite possibly fatal damage to Windholz’s political career had already been done.

After breaking the Windholz story, the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reported yesterday on another very questionable social media post from a Colorado lawmaker post-terror attack–this time from Sen. Laura Waters Woods of Arvada:

Sen. Laura Woods, R-Arvada, who played a prominent role in the Nov. 9 hearing, posted a Guy Fawkes picture on her Facebook page two days after the attack that stated: “THE MIND OF A SLAVE ASKS IS IT LEGAL? THE MIND OF A FREE MAN ASKS IS IT RIGHT? ”

Fawkes was the 17th century English terrorist who attempted to blow up the House of Lords. The image was originally created by Alan Moore in his anti-government comic book V for Vendetta, which was later turned into a Hollywood blockbuster with a pro-violent-revolution undertone…

Woods did not respond to a call for comment.

Here’s the Facebook post in question:

Screen-Shot-2015-11-30-at-10.41.09-AM

This post is somewhat cryptic in comparison to Windholz’s very direct accusations against Planned Parenthood, but the timing of the post invites obvious questions about what she meant. Woods is a stridently anti-abortion member of the Colorado Senate, and a regular participant in such activities as the Republican Study Committee of Colorado’s sham “hearing” on Planned Parenthood last month. Woods has a lengthy record of immoderate statements via social media since winning her swing SD-19 seat in 2014.

But perhaps most telling of all is that sometime after Goodland’s story yesterday, Sen. Woods deleted the post. And we’re pretty sure that wouldn’t have happened had it not been determined to be, you know, a liability.

Perhaps another reporter will be able to get Woods on the record, since she’s not returning Goodland’s calls.

Coffman, GOP Reel From Planned Parenthood Terror Attack

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman's 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood's logo.

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman’s 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood’s logo.

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick writes today on what is emerging as an enormous political disaster for Republicans at every level of government, after they spent most of the year vilifying Planned Parenthood in the harshest imaginable terms–rhetoric now under intense scrutiny as the motivating factor in the domestic terror attack on Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Colorado Springs last week:

In the days after Robert L. Dear went on a shooting spree in a Colorado Planned Parenthood, killing three people and injuring nine and telling law enforcement “no more baby parts,” many commentators have observed that the blame for this act of abortion terrorism can be placed directly on Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, a GOP committee’s endless investigation into Planned Parenthood, and the maker of a wholly discredited “sting video” intended to show that Planned Parenthood cheerfully sells “baby parts” for profit…

Of course none of the Republicans who have made claims about the baby killers at Planned Parenthood have accepted even a filament of responsibility for the Colorado killings, or for the other five attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics since July, when the first sting videos were released. Carly Fiorina was quick to disclaim any kind of connection between her demonization of Planned Parenthood for its alleged profiteering from “baby parts” and the actions of Dear on Friday.

Lithwick proceeds to nail the problem:

What they are saying is a lie. [Pols emphasis] Every single state to have investigated the Planned Parenthood baby-parts accusations has found nothing. The congressional search has also turned up nothing. The videos cited repeatedly by Fiorina and co. do not prove what they set out to prove. There is no factual or empirical basis from which to believe that Planned Parenthood sells fetal parts for money. Indeed, more and more the candidates, like Trump, hide behind the passive “lots of people are upset about this” language of the not-quite-persuaded.

Yesterday, liberal and pro-choice groups gathered at the Colorado Capitol to denounce the wild rhetoric directed against Planned Parenthood by Republican politicians, after the release of heavily-edited undercover videos falsely accusing the organization of “selling” fetal tissue for medical research. In recent months, Colorado Republicans have seized on these videos to demand redundant “investigations” and make petty, ultimately self-defeating swipes at the organization’s public funding. These attempts have been rejected by state officials at the Colorado Department of Public Health, who are aware that the investigations elsewhere have uncovered no wrongdoing and that the videos underlying the allegations have no objective factual value.

Rep. JoAnn Windholz (R).

Rep. JoAnn Windholz (R).

At the same time liberals and pro-choice groups were holding their press conference, the Colorado Independent was moving a story that powerfully validated their contention: GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz issued a statement flat-out asserting that the “true instigator” of the violence against Planned Parenthood is Planned Parenthood itself. This statement, tacitly excusing the actions of the alleged terrorist and blaming the victims of terrorism for the attack against them, is exactly the kind of rhetoric that supporters of Planned Parenthood say incited the attack. The Independent’s scoop on Windholz has now been picked up nationwide, and is an ugly, damning new piece of a story that already had the GOP on the defensive.

And you know who else is on the defensive? Rep. Mike Coffman. 9NEWS:

The Republicans who were blamed by name Tuesday have all recently said incendiary things about Planned Parenthood.

But, the progressive groups also listed Congressman Mike Coffman, who has moderated his position on abortion over the years.

Coffman is Colorado Democrats’ top target in next year’s elections.

He issued a statement following the rally:

“I’m deeply offended that anyone would try to exploit this horrific incident purely for political gain. Both sides should knock-off the partisan games and name-calling. It is beneath the dignity of our state and country, and a grave disservice to the victims. A horrible tragedy has happened in our state. Our focus should be on the victims, and honoring their lives and supporting their families. And we should focus on achieving justice – this shooting was a premediated atrocity, and absolutely ripe for a death penalty prosecution.”

Voting to defund Planned Parenthood recently with fellow Republicans in response to the doctored video campaign against the organization, Coffman stated that Planned Parenthood “flies in the face of human decency.” 9NEWS’ report that Coffman has “moderated his position on abortion” dreadfully oversimplifies Coffman’s attempt to thread the needle on this issue since redistricting put him into a competitive district. While Coffman votes to defund Planned Parenthood and ban abortions in Congress, he uses the group’s logo in campaign ads (photo top right). All told, Coffman has not “moderated” his views on abortion so much as he has muddied them up.

Defenders of Coffman decry the fact that he is being “singled out” for criticism while other stridently anti-Planned Parenthood politicians like Doug Lamborn have not been to the same degree. But the problem with that logic is obvious: Lamborn never used Planned Parenthood’s logo in a campaign ad.

Bottom line: there are many Republicans today whose extreme rhetoric against Planned Parenthood can be fairly characterized as incitement to violence. But in terms of hypocrisy with regard to Planned Parenthood, Mike Coffman stands alone.

The political fallout from the attack is plain to see at this point–enough that congressional Republicans appear to have backed away completely from threats to force a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood’s funding. This attack has revealed not so much the lies told about Planned Parenthood by Republicans, which were already well-known–but the effect those lies are having on some Americans who hear them and believe them. It’s not a matter of free speech, any more than yelling “fire” in a crowded theater is a matter of free speech. The situation inevitably is different now that three people are dead at the hands of a man who admitted his motive was “no more baby parts.”

And no amount of protesting their own guilt can change that.

Freshman GOP Lawmaker Blames Planned Parenthood For Terrorism Against Planned Parenthood

UPDATE: AP’s Kristen Wyatt:

“Violence begets violence,” Windholz wrote, concluding with a plea to pray for women who get abortions and doctors who perform them.

The lawmaker confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday that the posting is accurate but said she had nothing more to say about it…

The comments sparked and angry backlash from supporters of abortion rights.

“She basically tried to justify the violence against (abortion) providers and Planned Parenthood, and there is no justification,” said Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, which represents about 400 abortion providers.

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GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

The reactions from Colorado Republicans to last Friday’s terrorist attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs have run the gamut, from heartfelt expressions of sympathy for the victims to defensive posturing and continued criticism of the organization. Even Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, who has routinely said things about Planned Parenthood’s “demonic spirit of murder” in the past that could be construed as incitement, unequivocally condemned the alleged terrorist “whatever his motives.”

But in at least one shocking case, as the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reports, a sitting Colorado lawmaker appears to directly blame Planned Parenthood for the mass shooting at their own clinic last Friday. And even harder to explain, it’s one of the most vulnerable GOP freshman members of the Colorado House of Representatives:

Adams County state Rep. JoAnn Windholz blames Planned Parenthood for the Nov. 27 shooting, at its Colorado Springs clinic, that left three dead and nine injured. She is one of the few Colorado Republicans to issue a statement in the wake of the attack.

“Violence is never the answer, but we must start pointing out who is the real culprit. The true instigator of this violence and all violence at any Planned Parenthood facility is Planned Parenthood themselves. Violence begets violence. So Planned Parenthood: YOU STOP THE VIOLENCE INSIDE YOUR WALLS.”

Windholz referenced the Center for Medical Progress video that alleged Planned Parenthood and the Colorado Springs clinic were trafficking in baby body parts, the same video suspected shooter Robert Lewis Dear referred to in his oft cited “No more baby parts” statement after his attack.

“Planned Parenthood has no shame,” Windholz said. “These facts and overall mission of the abortion industry would easily send anyone over the hill who wasn’t rational.” [Pols emphasis]

We’ve posted Rep. JoAnn Windholz’s full statement after the jump. Re-reading it, we keep coming back to these words:

Violence is never the answer, but…

Folks, this is a sitting Republican Colorado lawmaker.

Violence is never the answer, but…

Rep. JoAnn Windholz was elected to her House seat in 2014 by the narrowest of margins, barely defeating incumbent Rep. Jenise May despite the biggest “Republican wave” elections in Colorado since Democrats retook control of the state in 2004. In the previous presidential election year of 2012, May had absolutely dominated the race, defeating her GOP opponent by 15 points.

All we can say is, when these nigh-on unspeakable comments about the Planned Parenthood terror attack find their way into ads and mailers against Rep. Windholz next year, she’s screwed. There is a strong likelihood that we will look back on this moment next November as the moment Rep. Windholz’s brief political career imploded.

(more…)

Progressives, Pro-Choice Activists Demand Accountability For Planned Parenthood Terror Attack

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Apropos, Democratic CD-6 candidate Morgan Carroll calls out the Douglas County GOP for a shocking Tweet today, and asks GOP opponent Rep. Mike Coffman to stand up to them in the name of decency:

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 12.37.01 PM

“It’s deeply disturbing and dangerous for the Douglas County Republican Party to compare Planned Parenthood to a domestic terrorist that killed a mother, Iraq War veteran, and police officer,” said State Senator Morgan Carroll.“As the 6th District’s representative, Congressman Coffman needs to step up and denounce this dangerous rhetoric immediately.”

Congressman Coffman has been an outspoken opponent of a woman’s right to choose, and yet he tries to run away from his own rhetoric when it comes time to run for reelection. He said he was pro-life with no exceptions and supported the Personhood Amendment, which defines would define “person” as any human being from the moment of conception. This year he has voted to defund Planned Parenthood six times.

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In the aftermath of last week’s domestic terrorist attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, joined with NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado and concerned citizens to demand that right-wing politicians in Colorado at every level apologize for their false claims about Planned Parenthood–claims that have resulted in numerous acts of violence against women’s healthcare providers, including Friday’s mass shooting in our state.

“Across the nation and now here in Colorado, the latest smear campaign against Planned Parenthood has directly contributed to violence,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “For months, right-wing anti-choice politicians have leveled extreme and totally unfounded allegations that the organization ‘sells baby body parts.’ News reports indicate these are the same words the alleged killer used last weekend to justify his murderous rampage. The clear link between the false attacks on Planned Parenthood and violence against their facilities in recent months can no longer be ignored.”

“Let’s be clear, when you use fighting words, and you break laws to prove your point, your words and actions appear to condone violence and hate,” said Karen Middleton of NARAL Pro Choice Colorado. “The so-called ‘Center for Medical Progress’ led a three-year campaign, using false information and deceptive editing to gain access and justify their views. The elected leaders holding hearings attacking the largest provider of women’s health care don’t get to say ‘I did not mean it’ when a deranged individual takes action in response to those words.”

Here in Colorado, right-wing politicians have joined in the false attacks on Planned Parenthood, using incendiary rhetoric that could motivate unstable persons to commit violent acts. Sen. Tim Neville, a candidate for the United States Senate, actually claimed that “some of the most disgusting videos of Planned Parenthood murdering, cutting to pieces and selling unborn baby parts were filmed right here in Denver, Colorado.” Jennifer Mason of Personhood USA said in response to the shooting that “the media is failing to report that innocent babies are killed in that very building every day that they are in business.” Nate Marshall, a former Republican legislative candidate, unequivocally praised the shootings, saying “this guy is a hero. Children are not being slaughtered and butchered for profit by left wing scum today.”

“Colorado politicians at every level from Rep. Mike Coffman, who has repeatedly used Planned Parenthood as a political football, to state legislators who held a sham ‘hearing’ to attack Planned Parenthood last month, have contributed to the toxic environment that resulted in Friday’s tragic mass shooting in Colorado Springs,” said Runyon-Harms. “The attacks on Planned Parenthood have been discredited, but that hasn’t stopped politicians from lying about the organization. And now, three people are dead.”

“It must stop, and stop now,” said Runyon-Harms. “We call on right-wing politicians across the state and nation to stop their false attacks on Planned Parenthood, and apologize for lies that are directly contributing to politically-motivated violence in America today. You either stand with women, or you’re standing in the way.”

GOP Absurdly Denies Planned Parenthood Terrorism Culpability

UPDATE: As Think Progress reports, GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz managed to roll up all of the falsehoods about alleged terrorist Robert Dear into one big steamy package of BS:

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is the latest presidential candidate trying to downplay the role anti-abortion rhetoric may have played in motivating the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado Springs Friday afternoon. When a reporter asked him at an Iowa campaign stop Sunday evening about suspect Robert Lewis Dear saying he was motivated by “no more baby parts,” Cruz countered that he’s also been reported to be a “transgendered [sic] leftist activist.”

Cruz explained, “We know that he was a man registered to vote as a woman.” This discrepancy on Dear’s voter registration was first reported by The Gateway Pundit, a self-described “right-of-center news website,” under the claim that he “identifies as [a] woman.” Conservatives have since run with the claim that Dear is transgender.

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Now that Friday’s domestic terrorist attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs has been digesting for a couple of news cycles, we’re seeing the reaction to the attack from Republican politicians and pundits take a major turn–away from vanilla statements of sympathy for the victims, many with no mention of Planned Parenthood at all, to angry denials of even the most peripheral responsibility for alleged terrorist Robert Dear’s actions.

During Friday’s standoff and in the immediate aftermath, wild speculation about the killer on the right sought to put distance between Dear and “normal” pro-life opponents of Planned Parenthood. Early on, some conservative media outlets ran with incorrect information suggesting that Planned Parenthood was not even the target of the attack. This was reinforced by GOP Rep. Kit Roupe of Colorado Springs, who irresponsibly spread this falsehood on social media, doing her constituents a major disservice:

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Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

An apparent error in Dear’s voter registration led to widespread breathless claims that Dear “identifies as a female.” Breitbart News ran with it, and dozens of right-wing media outlets picked it up:

He is registered to vote in Park County, Colorado, and The Gazette reports that his voter registration has him listed as an “Unaffiliated female” voter instead of a Democrat or Republican. Dear’s voter registration on Colorado Voters Info lists his gender as “female.”

Now folks, take a look at that photo. Without any attempt at insensitivity, let us just say that we do not see a person who “identifies as a female.” Anyone with voter file experience knows these kinds of mistakes happen. To run with something like this without any checking is…well, it’s ridiculous.

Leading Republican-aligned website The Federalist’s front page as of this writing is dominated by the mug shot you see above, linking to a story titled “Stop Blaming Pro-Lifers For The Colorado Springs Shooting.”

The pro-lifers praying and swaying and holding their placards are as responsible for this shooting as the Beatles were for Charles Manson’s violence…

Got that? Republican accusations that Planned Parenthood “sells baby body parts” are the same thing as the Beatles song Helter Skelter, which Charles Manson “interpreted” to be a prophecy of a coming race war. The only problem with this theory is that in truth, Helter Skelter was about an amusement park ride.

Friday’s shooting, on the other hand, required no creative interpretations.

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Headline collage via the Colorado Independent

In the coming days, we’re going to hear more, both fact and speculation, about the motivations of Robert Dear from both sides. We understand that both sides in this debate have an agenda underlying their statements that is bigger than this one tragic mass shooting.

Unfortunately for Planned Parenthood’s devoted GOP antagonists-cum-sympathizers, the facts are not on their side. The connection between the bellicose rhetoric against Planned Parenthood in recent months and Friday’s terrorist attack in Colorado Springs, wishing really hard otherwise notwithstanding, is rationally undeniable.

And if this makes Republicans uncomfortable, that’s because it should.

Get More Smarter on Monday (Nov. 30)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218Move over, Peyton, and make room for the Brockweiler. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missedsomething important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Robert Lewis Dear will make his first scheduled court appearance today. Dear is the domestic terrorist accused of killing three people and wounding nine others at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs on Friday.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper called the Planned Parenthood attacks “an act of terrorism” during a media appearance on Sunday, and his call for ending dangerous rhetoric is being widely repeated. From the New York Times:

Several other guests on Sunday talk shows called the shootings domestic terrorism, including Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who is a Republican presidential candidate; the mayor of Colorado Springs; and the head of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

Many, including Hickenlooper, also suggested that it was time to begin discussing how to tone down rhetoric that “is inflaming people to the point where they can’t stand it, and they go out and they lose connection with reality in some way and commit these acts of unthinkable violence.”…

…Mayor John Suthers of Colorado Springs, on ABC’s “This Week,” said the Planned Parenthood clinic appeared to be the target of the attack. In comments similar to Hickenlooper’s, Suthers, a Republican, said the country needed to better identify people with “mental health problems and prevent their access to weapons.”

 

► There’s a new effort to change how Colorado deals with its annual redistricting and reapportionment process, and as Colorado Pols reported last week, the proposed ballot language would probably end up making the process worseMarianne Goodland of the Colorado Independent has more on “Initiative 55,” which critics say could “destroy the Latino vote in Colorado”:

Under the proposed Initiative 55, a commission made up of four Democrats, four Republicans and four unaffiliated members would oversee the General Assembly’s nonpartisan staff in redrawing boundaries for both legislative and congressional districts.

It’s neither the composition of the committee nor the nonpartisan staff assigned to do the redrawing that most concerns critics. It’s that the initiative, as written, would prohibit the staff from mapping districts to augment or dilute the voting strength “of a language or racial minority group.”

Some say the priorities Initiative 55 sets for redrawing districts would violate the Voting Rights Act.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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BREAKING: Multiple Casualties in Terrorist Attack at Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

SUNDAY UPDATE: The Hill reports that Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, a former state attorney general, considers Friday’s mass shooting an act of “domestic terrorism.” As you know, we agree:

Colorado Springs, Colo., Mayor John Suthers said in an interview Sunday that the fatal shooting spree at a Planned Parenthood clinic in his town appears to be an act of domestic terrorism.

“We have, Martha, something that occurs quite a bit. We have a person that’s pretty much off the grid and acting for whatever motivation, very hard to ferret out those folks,” Suthers told Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week.”

From President Barack Obama’s statement yesterday:

We don’t yet know what this particular gunman’s so-called motive was for shooting twelve people, or for terrorizing an entire community, when he opened fire with an assault weapon and took hostages at a Planned Parenthood center in Colorado. What we do know is that he killed a cop in the line of duty, along with two of the citizens that police officer was trying to protect. We know that law enforcement saved lives, as so many of them do every day, all across America. And we know that more Americans and their families had fear forced upon them.

This is not normal. We can’t let it become normal. If we truly care about this — if we’re going to offer up our thoughts and prayers again, for God knows how many times, with a truly clean conscience — then we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets to people who have no business wielding them. Period. Enough is enough.

May God bless Officer Garrett Swasey and the Americans he tried to save — and may He grant the rest of us the courage to do the same thing.

An updated statement from Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains acknowledges the terrorist’s motives as they are now understood:

“Today, we are learning that eyewitnesses confirm that the man who will be charged with the tragic and senseless shooting that resulted in the deaths of three people and injuries to nine others at Planned Parenthood’s health center in Colorado Springs was motivated by opposition to safe and legal abortion. This is an appalling act of violence targeting access to health care and terrorizing skilled and dedicated health care professionals.

“The safety of our patients and staff is our top priority. We have strong security measures in place and work closely with law enforcement agencies, and we also ensure that our doors are open to all people who need high-quality, compassionate health care. We believe the safety procedures we have in place helped reduce the number of lives lost and injuries during yesterday’s events.

“We’ve seen an alarming increase in hateful rhetoric and smear campaigns against abortion providers and patients over the last few months. That environment breeds acts of violence. Americans reject the hatred and vitriol that fueled this tragedy. We do not accept this environment as normal. We should not have to live in a world where accessing health care includes safe rooms and bullet-proof glass.

“We have a saying at Planned Parenthood: ‘These doors stay open.’ It means we don’t back down because of protestors, violent extremists, or anyone else. It means we are a safe, supportive, and welcoming environment for all people who need high quality reproductive health care. Today, in Colorado and across the country, Planned Parenthood’s doors are open and we will continue to provide compassionate health care to people who have trusted us and relied on us for generations.”

Meanwhile, Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz issued a blistering release of her own, hammering the GOP’s latest Planned Parenthood witch hunt and connecting that campaign to Friday’s shooting:

The details that have emerged on Friday’s shootings in Colorado Springs make it clear that the attack on civilians and law enforcement there was an act of terrorism. Tragically, this horrific attack against Planned Parenthood is not isolated to this instance. Since 1993, at least eight people– four doctors, two clinic employees, a security guard, and a clinic escort – have been murdered in the United States in incidents of anti-choice violence, including a doctor shot to death in 2009 while serving as an usher at a church. Since the politically-motivated campaign to defund Planned Parenthood began this summer with the release of a series of misleading and debunked videos, there have been four attacks on Planned Parenthood centers in the U.S. according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Those running for president and those of us in leadership roles in our country’s major political parties have an obligation to denounce these attacks and clearly say that violence and intimidation in the pursuit of ideology are not acceptable in America. Politicians who peddle lies, whether about Planned Parenthood or immigrants, and those who encourage roughing up Americans who have different opinions have a particular obligation and responsibility to denounce these acts of terror. In addition to the attacks on Planned Parenthood we’ve seen assaults on Hispanics, the shooting of Black Lives Matter protesters, and ugly shouts at campaign rallies that have gone unchallenged. No political gain is worth what this reckless, dangerous rhetoric is doing to our country, and it must come to an end.

In the Planned Parenthood case it’s especially troubling that there has been no meaningful reaction from Republican candidates and political leaders. This shameful silence is becoming a theme for Republicans, who are all too ready to denounce a three year old refugee but not acts committed by a domestic terrorist like what we saw Friday.

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SATURDAY UPDATE #3: NBC News reports, the motive you expected beginning to emerge:

Robert Lewis Dear, a North Carolina native who was living in a trailer in Colorado, made statements to police Friday at the scene of the Colorado Springs clinic and in interviews that law enforcement sources described as rantings.

In one statement, made after the suspect was taken in for questioning, Dear said “no more baby parts” in reference to Planned Parenthood, according to two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the case. [Pols emphasis]

But the sources stressed that Dear said many things to law enforcement and the extent to which the “baby parts” remark played into any decision to target the Planned Parenthood office was not yet clear. He also mentioned President Barack Obama in statements.

They’re being awfully careful not to, you know, speculate down there in the conservative bastion of Colorado Springs aren’t they?

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SATURDAY UPDATE #2: 9NEWS reports the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood building has been cleared by police with no additional victims found. Thank goodness.
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Editor’s Note: Defining Terrorism and Terrorists

As news unfolded in Colorado Springs on Friday involving a gunman shooting civilians and police officers, it led to a separate conversation on social media about the proper use of the words “terrorism,” “terrorist,” and “terror.”

After considering the definitions of these words (via Merriam-Webster, below), Colorado Pols has decided to enact an editorial change on this website. Any criminal act in the United States that meets the definition of “terrorism” will henceforth be discussed on this site as a “terrorist act” perpetrated by one or more “terrorists.” 

For example, the man who killed and wounded several civilians and police officers in Colorado Springs will be classified as a “terrorist” rather than the generic “gunman” or “shooter” label. Terrorism is a very real and tragic form of violence that is undertaken for a specific political or intimidation purpose. Terrorism is not defined by skin color, nationality, race, or gender. It is a disservice to the victims of these particular crimes to continue to describe the act as something other than terrorism, just as it would be wrong to falsely classify a “murder” as a “suicide.”

Merriam-Webster definitions:

TERRORISM (noun):  the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.

TERRORIST: (adjective or noun)

TERROR (noun): 

1.  a state of intense fear

2.

a : one that inspires fear : scourge
b : a frightening aspect
c : a cause of anxiety : worry
d : an appalling person or thing; especially : brat

3. reign of terror

4. violent or destructive acts (as bombing) committed by groups in order to intimidate a population or government into granting their demands