Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Feb. 24)

Get More Smarter

Put down the snowman and get back to work. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Today the Senate Judiciary Committee will discuss regulating "unmanned aerial vehicles," more commonly known as "drones." Don't tell Vice Chair Kevin Lundberg, but staff at the Capitol expect to be regaled by testimony from tiny little pilots.

No Homeland Security funding for you! Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to figure out what to do after the Senate voted for a fourth time to block funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) because Republicans are still mad that President Obama tried to do something about immigration. Congress has until Feb. 27 to approve appropriations to continue funding DHS. From the Durango Herald:

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has warned that an agency shutdown would result in 75-80 percent of staff members being forced to work without pay, as their jobs are deemed vital to national security. An additional 30,000 would be furloughed.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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State-funded Science Institutions Host Keynote by Fringe Anti-Science Guy

(Seriously? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The wires are abuzz about the latest example of fossil fuel influence attempting to bend science, another Climate Change Denialist hero has been shown as seriously besotted by sooty cash, but failed to note the connection.  His ‘science’ was—in fact—“deliverables” to dirty energy powerhouses, from utilities, coal, oil and gas, the Kochs.

Meanwhile in western Colorado, the Energy Forum & Expo is also creating a stir. 

This annual event hosted by Colorado Mesa University, Colorado Mountain College, and the John McConnell Math & Science Center (along with the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, Club 20, and the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado) is known to include a lot of industry cheerleading.  

The purpose of the Energy Forum & Expo CO's is to educate Colorado citizens on the role we can play in meeting our energy needs today and into the future. 

That the ‘Energy Forum & Expo’ of Grand Junction organized, hosted and sponsored as it is,revolves around Old Energy boosterism is not a new realization, but this year it is something else that is attracting criticism. 

This year the keynote is being given by a fringe climate change denier (and ‘earthquake predictor’), who is a favorite on the Tea Party circuit, wingnut radio, and whose ‘expert opinions’ populate articles, between ads for gold, testosterone boosters, and bunker supplies on sites like NewsMax.

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Huge loss for Denver as Stokols departs from Fox 31

(We'll miss him – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Eli Stokols.

Eli Stokols.

Denver journalism sustained a body blow yesterday, when Fox 31 political reporter Eli Stokols announced he's leaving for a job at Politico in Washington DC.

Quoting a memo from Fox 31 news director Holly Gauntt praising Stokols, Westword's Michael Roberts reports:

Contacted via e-mail, Stokols confirms the move while stressing the difficulty of the decision to take the leap.

"For a political reporter, Colorado is fertile soil," he writes. "I've been lucky to have had strong support from Peter Maroney and my bosses at KDVR Fox31 to focus on that beat year round, even when it wasn't campaign season and a lot of producers would probably have preferred to have me chasing snowstorms or shootings."

He also makes reference to his hosting duties on #COpolitics: From the Source, a public-affairs show that launched last year; to read his preview of the program for Westword, click here.

"I couldn't have asked for more in this job: opportunities to launch a weekly show that has devoted serious air time to serious, substantive conversations about politics, policy and broader issues; opportunities to anchor newscasts five nights a week, something I've actually had a blast doing alongside Aristea Brady on KWGN Channel 2; and opportunities to write longer pieces about Colorado politics for other outlets," he points out.

Stokols covered the day-to-day grind of politics like a newspaper beat reporter, producing daily stories, often about political developments that are seen as too boring for television news. This quickly earned Stokols the admiration of attention-starved partisans on both sides of the aisle.

He pushed out large volumes of information on multiple platforms, making Fox 31 easily one of the go-to sources of political news in Colorado. On top of that, he freelanced long-form pieces for 5280 and op-eds for Politico.

During the last election, Stokols earned the respect of his peers for his direct questioning of Cory Gardner regarding his support of a personhood bill at the federal level but his rejection of personhood amendments in Colorado.

Um, That’s Not a “Policy,” Darryl Glenn

Darryl Glenn military

El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn was the first official Republican candidate to announce a campaign for U.S. Senate in 2016. He'll always have that to remember, we guess, since it's not likely that he'll be the last remaining GOP candidate. So enjoy him — and his bizarre campaign logo — while you can.

Here's Glenn's latest email to supporters, titled "My Policy Statement on Use of Force." You may notice, as we did, that Glenn's "policy statement" doesn't…actually contain…a policy. The full email text is available after the jump, but here's the heart of the non-policy policy statement (bold text is how it originally appears):

The politicians in …Washington DC and other nation’s capitals do play a necessary role in providing funding, resources, and intelligence to their military commanders. However, a politician fighting a war through policy dictates thousands of miles away has never been successful as history teaches time and again.

The rapid advancement of Islamic jihadists throughout the Middle East is a significant threat to national security interests of the United States and other nations. My policy is to create the dialog among the politicians, military leaders, and US citizens to examine and decide the best use of military operations against Islamic jihadists. We must clearly define our goals and operational objectives, the scope of the radical Islamic threat and then give our military commanders the flexibility to complete the mission.

Sounds good! Er, whatever.

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Patricia Arquette Oscar Speech Timely for Colorado

Patricia Arquette Oscar

This is the face we imagine Patricia Arquette would make after listening to Colorado Republicans dismiss pay equity concerns.

In case you missed it last night, actress Patricia Arquette gave a rousing acceptance speech that put equality issues front and center. As The Daily Beast explains:

"It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!" the actress proclaimed.

It was the Oscars moment that caused Meryl Streep to jump out of her seat, jab her finger in the air, and scream, “YES!” over and over again.

The 87th annual Academy Awards had reached a critical lull in the proceedings. But the snooze-worthy broadcast was momentarily salvaged by journeywoman actress Patricia Arquette, who delivered a rousing speech upon accepting the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Boyhood.

First Arquette thanked her fellow nominees, the cast and crew of the 12-year project Boyhood, and her friends and family, “who all work so hard to make this world a better place.”

Then she brought the house down.

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” shouted a fiery Arquette. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

The entire place—Streep and seatmate Jennifer Lopez included—rose to their feet for the night’s biggest standing ovation.

Last month, Senate Republicans effectively killed off the Colorado Pay Equity Commission when they used a Party-line vote to prevent renewing the Commission. Senate Republicans' skill for poor timing brought more attention to the issue; the vote against the Commission came one day after new numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that women on average will earn about 77.9% of what men earn. State Rep. Jessie Danielson (D-Wheat RIdge) has since announced her own legislation (HB-1133) to continue the work of the Pay Equity Commission.

If you're wondering why anyone would be opposed to pay equity for women, well, you're not alone. But by 11:00 this morning, conservative activist Jessica Peck had already published an Op-Ed in the online version of the Denver Post in which she said…this:

Time and again, studies and data and antecdotes show that we do have gender equality in the United States. That is, when women act like men, we make as much or more money than men. Here's what we have to do: leave our babies in the hands of others and immediately return to work post-birth; leave our elderly parents in the hands of others to age — and die — so we can work; and aggressively negotiate salary and wage increases…

…Now, let's negotiate wages like the boys and we've got the rest covered. I run my own business. It's tough at times, but never have I ever had a male client suggest I should demand a lower wage just because I'm a girl. [Pols emphasis]

Uhh, come again? Does Peck want to be paid a lower wage because she is a woman?

Arquette's speech should only bring more attention to Rep. Danielson's legislation, and it's going to make a House vote on HB-1133 pretty interesting. Democrats can pass this bill out of the House on their own, but how could any Republican in an even halfway competitive district go on the record with a 'NO' vote now?

Freshman Democrat Learns Triangulation Stings A Little

Sen. Kerry Donovan (D).

Sen. Kerry Donovan (D).

As the Aspen Times' Scott Condon reports, newly elected Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail is taking heat from her Democratic constituents–otherwise known as her base–over her co-sponsorship of the GOP's bill to repeal the 15-round gun magazine limit passed in 2013:

Donovan, a Vail Democrat, came under fire at a town hall meeting at the Aspen Square Condominiums for signing on as a co-sponsor on a Senate bill to repeal a law that banned possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines. The controversial 2013 law limits magazines to 15 rounds or less…

“This is a very controversial, passionate issue,” Donovan said. “Yes, my signing on has caused friction.”

She acknowledged that her position has “pissed off” part of her diverse district — primarily residents in the liberal strongholds of Aspen, Vail and Crested Butte. But nearly all residents in the rest of the district — which includes Delta County, San Luis Valley, Leadville and Buena Vista — supports the repeal of law, she said.

And then, as Condon reports, Donovan let a little realpolitik slip:

Donovan also seemed to downplay her support of its repeal by noting the bill will likely face a quick death in the House if it advances, as expected, from the Senate. Democrats hold a slim edge in the state House. Republicans control the state Senate by one vote.

“I don’t believe it makes it out of the House,” Donovan said of the bill. [Pols emphasis]

That didn’t placate the Aspen crowd…

So no, it was not wise for Sen. Donovan to use the likely death of a bill she is co-sponsoring at the hands of fellow Democrats to deflect criticism for her co-sponsorship of said bill. The average voter, and especially more literate voters who show up to town hall meetings, actually really hate excuses like that. It should be noted in her defense that Donovan made a promise to vote to repeal the 15-round limit during her campaign, though there were plenty of other issues in her race last year against Republican Don Suppes for voters to chew on besides guns. It's anybody's guess how many votes Donovan may have picked up by opposing the magazine limit–but we're inclined to believe single-issue gun voters in SD-5 voted Republican no matter what she said. And obviously, not enough did.

In the long run, we don't think this will hurt Sen. Donovan politically, mostly because we don't think gun magazines will be an issue by 2018 when she is back up for election. Guns didn't factor in 2014 enough for Colorado Republicans to perform over mean even in a national wave year–not enough to take both chambers of the legislature, or take down our incumbent governor. That's why the magazine limit isn't going to be repealed.

So maybe it's good to learn the limits of triangulation now? Because you can't win without your base.

Does Obama “Love America?” Coffman Ought To Know This One

coffmannotanamerican

Over the last week, Republican luminaries including a couple of 2016 presidential short-listers got caught up in an interesting debate over a pressing political question–does President Barack Obama love America? Not in some abstract sense–when that Alan Jackson song about 9/11 comes on the radio, does it make President Obama cry?

Rudy Giuliani.

Rudy Giuliani.

Okay, you're right. This is neither an interesting debate nor a pressing political question. Nonetheless, GOP-leaning PJ Media reports that conservative minds want to know:

Every Republican, especially those with an eye on 2016, is now being asked to confirm or repudiate the opinion of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on President Obama’s feelings toward America.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country,” Giuliani said at a Wednesday dinner in Manhattan with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker…

President Barack Obama, with close ally Satan (right).

President Barack Obama, with close ally Satan (right).

Now, it's been a long time since anybody seriously thought of the once-popular Rudy Giuliani as "America's Mayor," and in truth he's been sliding into irrelevance for some time, apparently trying to compete with fellow washed-up New York blowhard Donald Trump for who can utter the most outrageous statement about black people. Graded on the curve, Giuliani's rant about Obama not "loving America" isn't really all that noteworthy.

What gets a little harder to explain, though, is when much more politically viable Republican politicians, including some who might actually want to be President themselves someday, voluntarily start trafficking in the same shallow invective as the Giulianis and Trumps of the world. Washington Post:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a prospective Republican presidential contender, said Saturday he does not know whether President Obama is a Christian.

“I don’t know,” Walker said in an interview at the JW Marriott hotel in Washington, where he was attending the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

Told that Obama has frequently spoken publicly about his Christian faith, Walker maintained that he was not aware of the president’s religion…

TIME Magazine:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal stood by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s criticism of President Obama Wednesday.

“The gist of what Mayor Giuliani said – that the President has shown himself to be completely unable to speak the truth about the nature of the threats from these ISIS terrorists — is true,” Jindal, a likely GOP presidential candidate, said in a statement to TIME. “If you are looking for someone to condemn the Mayor, look elsewhere.” [Pols emphasis]

As the gratuitous questioning of President Obama's faith and "love of America" ramped up last week among allegedly serious Republican politicians, our thoughts travelled back–to a May 2012 dinner hosted by the Elbert County, Colorado GOP. Rep. Mike Coffman responded to a loaded audience question about President Obama's citizenship, saying "I don’t know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don’t know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he’s not an American. He’s just not an American."

Within a few days, Coffman was in full damage control mode, and his robotic "I misspoke and I apologize" answer delivered over and over on camera made him a nationwide laughingstock–not a career-ender as it narrowly turned out that year, but without a doubt the greatest public embarrassment of Coffman's long career in politics.

Well folks, so much speculation by high level Republicans about Obama's love of country should make Coffman's views on Obama's American-ness relevant all over again. Don't you think? At the very least, Coffman could give his colleagues a lesson in how not to apologize! Either way, it does appear this strange xenophobic uncertainty about America's first black President is still a problem for Coffman's party.

Which means it's still a problem for Coffman.

Get More Smarter on Monday (Feb. 23)

MoreSmarterLogo-Hat1

Snowy enough for 'ya? The Colorado Pols Quadruple Doppler (with cheese) predicted snowfall totals somewhere between 2 inches to 17 feet, so we were right on target. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Colorado Legislature is out today due to inclement weather and poor road conditions. In Washington D.C., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will push for another budget vote in an attempt to avoid a partial government shutdown that could have broad impacts across the country. As Politico reports:

The Kentucky Republican could cave to Democrats’ demands and abandon the GOP’s attempt to tie the Department of Homeland Security’s funding to an attack on President Barack Obama’s immigration policies. But pushing through a short-term continuing resolution for DHS would bring howls from the right, postpone the immigration showdown for only a couple of weeks or months, and most likely fail in the House. McConnell would gain nothing even if he could pass such a CR, which is far from a sure thing.

Or, as some conservatives outside the Senate want, McConnell could employ the “nuclear option” to abolish the filibuster on legislation, allowing Republicans to pass the $39.7 billion DHS bill with a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than 60. But that would mean destroying the Senate traditions he’s vowed so loudly over the years to protect — and Obama would still veto the bill.

► State Governors are also in Washington D.C. today to blame their problems on President Obama. The Associated Press reports on the annual winter gathering of the National Governor's Association (NGA), where a showdown over the $40 billion Department of Homeland Security budget should be the main topic of discussion. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is the Chair of the NGA, and will try to steer conversations at the White House in a positve direction. Says Hickenlooper, "When we go to the president our goal is to try to be more constructive."

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Former GOP State Rep. Jared Wright says he’ll “strive to be fair” as publisher of Colorado Statesman

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jared Wright.

Jared Wright.

The Colorado Statesman, which reports the nitty gritty of politics that's loved by junkies and is hard to find these days outside of partisan blogs and radio shows, has appointed  a former Republican politician as publisher: Jared Wright,  former state representative from Mesa County.

In a touching good-bye column Friday that conjured a fading era in local journalism, current publisher Jody Hope Strogoff announced her departure from the newspaper.

Over the weekend, Wright answered a few questions via email regarding his new job.

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Legislative Snow Day Postpones “Gunmageddon II”

snowycapitol

As many of our readers already know, the Democratic-controlled Colorado House and GOP-controlled Colorado Senate both agreed to stay home today, owing to the inclement weather over the weekend that dropped anywhere from 5 inches to two feet of snow across the state. As it happened with this storm, Denver itself saw comparatively less snowfall than many western suburbs, not to mention the mountains–so anyone you see whining about the legislature being wussies…well, they're probably in Denver.

Closure of the legislature does mean the postponement of a few important scheduled hearings scheduled for today, and public rallies prior to those hearings. The House State Affairs Committee was set to kill two bills including one from Rep. Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt to expand "conscientious" rights to discriminate, prior to which a coalition of groups led by LGBT advocacy organzation One Colorado was set to rally in the West Foyer. But without question the big loser from today's closure is the gun lobby, which was planning a major show of support for their Senate bill to repeal the 15-round magazine limit passed in 2013. Dudley Brown implored his members to show up today to testify rain or shine:

If you can brave the weather safely, I hope you’ll plan on attending the hearing, because we need your support…

Even though Democrats in House leadership have vowed to kill any pro-gun bill this year, they know that RMGO members like you have them backed in to a corner. 

They remember very the historic political consequences of backing Bloomberg-inspired gun control laws in Colorado. 

Thanks to the activism of RMGO members and supporters like you — holding gun grabbers accountable — we have an opportunity to repeal these gun control schemes. 

But in order to succeed, we need to keep up the pressure.

So, if you can make it, please mark your calendar for Monday at 1:30pm.

As we've discussed and news reports have commented on this year, the gun lobby has had surprising trouble replicating the crowd of angry supporters they were able to draw to the Capitol in 2013. The most obvious reason for this is that the actual effects of the gun safety bills passed two years ago have not lived up to the hyperbolic predictions. Even the most ardent dues-paying Rocky Mountain Gun Owners member can see today that gun ownership in Colorado has not been "effectively banned," and that they can still buy magazines for their firearms–despite Jon Caldara's promise that "if this law passes, almost all guns in Colorado will never be able to get a magazine again." Now that these wild predictions have been debunked by reality, it's understandably harder to keep the outrage at fever pitch.

Today was another chance for the gun lobby to show their strength, and they got snowed out. It's not Dudley Brown's fault, but will all of his members who made arrangements to testify today be able to reschedule? It's surely not going to help.

Just remember, it was a bipartisan decision.

Monday Open Thread

"The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one's designs to one's means."

–Napoleon Bonaparte

Caption This “Dr. Chaps” Photobomb

From the conservative Leadership Program of the Rockies' annual retreat this weekend at the swanky Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. The lovely couple Rep. Clarice Navarro is posing with are innocent bystanders–at least that's what Rep. Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt thinks! One can never be too cautious. After all, look at their potentially demonic glowing red eyes:

chapsphotobomb

Perhaps we should exorcise all of them just to be safe.

Former Olympian Throws Himself into GOP Madness

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

bremerx

The mud wresting is so intense in the battle to lead the state GOP that Republicans may now think that candidates with brute strength, rather than intelligence, are needed to put down their opponents and win.

Enter former Pentathlete Eli Bremer. Pointing to his he former Olympic prowess, the former El Paso Republican Chair announced today that he's running for vice chair of the Colorado Republican Party.

Unfortunately, Bremer is probably too weak to overpower current vice chair, Mark Baisley, a tea-party candidate who shocked his talk-radio supporters when he aligned himself with current GOP chair Ryan Call, who's seeking his third term.

But who knows? What we do know is the craziness of the characters involved in the race, no matter who wins, has probably already scared big-time GOP donors to such a great extent that they'll be sending their money to outside 527's, forsaking the state party altogether and relegating it to irrelevancy.

In a letter formally announcing his long-rumored candidacy, Bremer wrote:

I spent 12 years competing at the international level representing the United States around the globe and at the Olympic Games.  One of the greatest lessons I learned is that success takes years of preparation and hard work.  It took me over a decade training at an elite level before I qualified for the Olympics.  It was a difficult journey and required constant dedication and sacrifice.  In the same way, the next five years will be incredibly important for Colorado Republicans; but we will work together to achieve our goal of unifying for conservative governance of our great state and nation….

Four years ago, I was elected GOP Chairman in El Paso County.  My prior political experience was as a grassroots organizer founding a Young Republican club that rapidly grew to one of the largest grassroots clubs in the state.  I was the youngest chairman in the state, and I was tasked with overseeing the largest party in the state, serving roughly 20% of all Republicans in Colorado.  I took over an organization bruised by a difficult election, torn by conflict, and sitting on the verge of collapse.  

 In two short years, I got our party out of debt, standardized and professionalized our operations, overhauled our IT system, and grew our fundraising by nearly 10 fold.  Because of our success, I was asked by and assisted numerous other local county parties with fundraising and organizational development.  When my successor took office, he assumed control of an organization ready to perform and grow which it does to this day….

Politics are also about results, and it is important to always see if actions lead to results. Despite nationally abysmal showings by Republicans in 2012, El Paso delivered strong numbers for all our Republican candidates. The true organizational strength was demonstrated the following year when we successfully recalled State Senator John Morse. In a carefully choreographed effort, El Paso County Republican Party played an enormous role in electing Bernie Herpin to replace John Morse and showed that the campaign machine my staff and I created was working as designed. In recognition for our efforts in the recall and the turnaround I conducted in El Paso that helped breed a culture of success, Bernie Herpin has enthusiastically endorsed me.