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:

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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:

roupebankrobbery

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.

babyparts
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…

(more…)

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.

—–

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?

—–

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

 

Neville Not “Buckpedaling” on Abortion

(Tim Neville aims to dominate Thanksgiving table talk – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

State Sen. Tim Neville.

State Sen. Tim Neville.

“My name is Tim Neville, and I’m THE pro-Life candidate running for the nomination to take on and defeat Democrat Michael Bennet in November 2016.”

That’s how Neville, who’s considered the frontrunner in the GOP Senate primary, describes himself in a recent fundraising email.

And judging from the email (excerpt below), it’s hard to imagine there’s a more anti-choice candidate anywhere on the planet.

Neville even confirms that the Live at Conception Act is a personhood bill, something Sen. Cory Gardner was willfully confused about.

In contrast to Gardner, who was obviously worried women would revolt against his history of Neville-like positions on abortion, Neville brags that “politicians in both parties” opposed his bill that would have “forced abortion providers to offer women the opportunity to see an ultrasound, saving thousands of babies in the process.” (Translation: women would be required to have an ultrasound prior to having an abortion.)

We know Republicans in Colorado like to modify their positions once they face a general-election audience. See, for example, Gardner, Rep. Mike Coffman, Bob Beauprez, Rep. Ken “Buckpedal” Buck.

But unlike those guys, you get the feeling that Neville really  believes he can win over both primary and general election voters by being himself, regardless of the issue. That will set him apart from recent state-wide Republican candidates. That would make things interesting.

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Missing The Point, Garfield County Commission Edition

Garfield County commissioners Mike Samson, John Martin, and Tom Jankovsky.

Garfield County commissioners Mike Samson, John Martin, and Tom Jankovsky.

The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent’s John Stroud follows up on the amusing unintended consequences of the decision by the GOP-owned and operated Garfield County board of commissioners to cut off a small longstanding grant to the local Planned Parenthood health clinic:

Ashley Johnson never imagined the kind of response she’d get when she launched an online fundraising campaign for the local Planned Parenthood clinic following a politically motivated decision by Garfield County commissioners to cut grant funding.

Her effort that began two weeks ago with a goal of replacing the $1,500 cut quickly gained momentum.

As of Monday, the GoFundMe.com “Hear our voice. Fund women’s health” site had raised $23,450 among 281 donors. Another $325 was donated via a separate Wells Fargo Bank benefit account, according to Johnson.

That’s right–Garfield County’s decision to cut off a $1,500 grant to Planned Parenthood’s resulted in over fifteen times that amount being donated to the organization as a result of local resident Ashley Johnson’s GoFundMe drive. We’re going to go out on a limb here and suggest that is not the outcome that Garfield County commissioners had in mind when they decided Planned Parenthood Votes’ emails defending itself from a partisan Republican Party onslaught were “too political.”

But to listen to commissioner Tom Jankovsky today, you might think he planned the whole thing:

Jankovsky said Monday that he’s glad private donors stepped up to support a service that he said he also believes provides a valuable service in Garfield County.

“I think it’s great that they’re doing that,” he said. “Our decision on funding didn’t mean we didn’t want Planned Parenthood to continue.”

Rather, he said human services grants are intended mostly for locally based, nonpolitical organizations. He said he and the other commissioners felt Planned Parenthood’s state and national affiliates had crossed that line…

The problem with this lame excuse is obvious: if Jankovsky and his fellow Republican commissioners hadn’t cut off the funding, there would have been no impetus for the fundraising drive. Commissioners’ vote to cut off the county’s nominal grant to the organization is what precipitated this presumably one-time fundraising windfall.

And it’s an overwhelming counterpoint to whatever point they were trying to make.

Politically, this was a foolish mistake for GarCo’s GOP commissioners, whose ham-fisted attempt to insert themselves at the tail end of the summer-long Republican Planned Parenthood grandstand completely backfired. With 2015’s witch hunt by anti-choice usual suspects having mostly fizzled out, this result should serve notice to other bush-league elected officials with fiscal authority that the political damage from petty trolling of an organization that communities really do value outweighs any gains.

Better for everyone, not least themselves, to leave well enough alone.

Oh, You Mean THAT War on Women

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R).

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt (R).

The Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports from yesterday’s standing-room-only “hearing” (parentheses explained below) held by the Republican Study Committee of Colorado at the Capitol. The announced subject of yesterday’s all-day public event was something they called “fetal tissue trafficking,” but the event quickly devolved into a free-for-all anti-abortion speechification exercise:

Colorado Republicans on Monday held a listening session at the state Capitol that quickly turned into a trial of Planned Parenthood.

The Republican lawmakers who spearheaded the six-hour packed listening session said the purpose of the event was strictly “informational” in an effort to guide future policy decisions. It followed similar hearings on the congressional level.

Republicans are considering legislation for next year in an effort to crackdown on Planned Parenthood, though such measures would face a tough climb in a Legislature split between Republicans and Democrats.

As CBS4 reports, yesterday’s “hearing,” which was a completely nonofficial event that, as Sen. Chris Holbert took pains to note yesterday, will not result in any state staff time or legislator per diem pay, is nonetheless a prelude to what we can expect to see in the 2016 legislative session:

The Republican Study Committee of Colorado met at the state Capitol to discuss video tapes and legislation in response to them. Eight Republican state lawmakers met for what they called an “informational hearing” on fetal tissue trafficking.

“There’s a problem and we’re trying to get down to the essence of what the facts are here in Colorado,” said Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Larimer County.

The meeting comes after a secretly recorded tape showed a doctor from Planned Parenthood of the Rockies talking about fetal tissue donation. Republicans say it shows the doctor trying to sell fetal tissue for profit, which is against the law. But the attorney general and state health department declined to investigate, prompting Republicans to launch their own investigation.

State Sen. Owen Hill.

State Sen. Owen Hill.

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Megan Schrader writes, GOP lawmakers busily working on gratuitous Planned Parenthood troll-bills for 2016 are shocked, shocked mind you, that nobody wants to have anything to do with this:

Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, has pulled a bill title to defund Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit that provides abortions in Colorado along with other family planning and health screening services. Hill was not at the meeting, but Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, said he had spoken to Hill about the bill.

Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, said he was concerned about the testimony he heard and had questions for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the research facilities at CSU that procure fetal tissue. He said he was surprised that both organizations declined an invitation to participate in the event.

From Planned Parenthood and their liberal allies, while obviously condemning the entire spectacle, an enthusiastic response that signals a willingness, even eagerness to take Republicans head-on:

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Lundberg may try to subpoena witnesses who declined to answer questions at today’s hearing

(Wombghazi! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

With witnesses from across the political spectrum refusing to participate in today’s “informational hearing” on alleged sales of fetal-tissue for research purposes, Sen. Kevin Lundberg may request authority to subpoena witnesses for legislative hearings next year.

“I can go to the Senate and seek permission to have that authority for any specific issue,” said Lundberg, who’s the Senate Republican Assistant Majority Leader, on KLZ 560-AM Thursday (at  18:45 below). “And this may rise to that occasion.”

“I have never seen subpoena powers granted to a [Colorado legislative] committee, but it’s within the rules,” said Lundberg on air, citing his position as chair of the Senate Health & Human Services Committee, which would have jurisdiction on this matter.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado State University, Planned Parenthood, and the University of Colorado have refused to attend today’s 9 a.m. hearing at the state capitol to answer  questions from Lundberg and 20 other conservative state lawmakers, Lundberg told KLZ morning host Steve Curtis.

If they refuse to testify again next year, Lundberg said, he’ll consider seeking subpoena power from his Senate colleagues, who hold a majority.

“I haven’t ruled that out at all,” he told Curtis, adding that it will depend on what information is uncovered at today’s hearing. Lundberg believes, for example, that if fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood were used in scientific research at Colorado Universities, it would violate Colorado’s ban on indirect funding of abortion. Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains maintains that it has no fetal-tissue donation program.

For background on CSU and CU’s fetal-tissue programs see here and here.

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Garfield Commissioners Raise Big Bucks For Planned Parenthood

Garfield County commissioners Mike Samson, John Martin, and Tom Jankovsky.

Garfield County commissioners Mike Samson, John Martin, and Tom Jankovsky.

As the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent’s John Stroud reports, the decision this week by Garfield County’s Republican commissioners to eliminate a small grant to Planned Parenthood in support of a health center in Glenwood Springs is…well, it’s tough to imagine this response from the community is what they had hoped for:

A grass-roots fundraising campaign has raised more than $13,000 for the Glenwood Springs Planned Parenthood clinic in response to a politically motivated decision by Garfield County commissioners earlier this week to cut a grant to the organization.

Organizer Ashley Johnson of Carbondale indicated on her GoFundMe.com webpage that the goal of the campaign is now $15,000. If successful, that would be 10 times the amount of the $1,500 county human services grant that was eliminated by commissioners on Monday.

That decision, led by Commissioner Tom Jankovsky over his concerns about what he referred to as “partisan, political” messages being sent out by Planned Parenthood’s political advocacy affiliate in Colorado, prompted significant public reaction on social media after the story broke in the Post Independent.

The grant that was to go to Planned Parenthood’s Glenwood clinic for cancer screening was part of a package of 2016 county human services grants totaling more than $430,000.

Now, some of you might think, and not without justification, that this successful backlash fundraising drive plays into the hands of Planned Parenthood’s opponents–who argue that the organization “doesn’t need” a dime of public funding for cancer screenings or anything else. But the fact is, these grant funds helped Planned Parenthood perform a valuable service to the local community, which is why they have been distributed to the organization for decades. And without this denial by GarCo county commissioners, there would be no controversy to raise funds off of.

For these reasons, the political damage to Garfield County’s Republican commissioners far outweighs any actual harm done to Planned Parenthood. The cornball excuse from GOP commissioner Tom Jankovsky that Planned Parenthood is sending out “partisan” emails, which he then uses to justify doing exactly what those emails say Republicans do, simply protests his own guilt. And once you factor the community rising up and raising ten times the amount of the grant that was eliminated?

Like the entire summer of “Fetuspalooza,” we just don’t see how any of this is helping the GOP.

Unless their goal really is to help Planned Parenthood.