Terror Grips Colorado Republicans

eiffel-111415As the world comes to terms with the horrific terrorist attacks on Paris, France this past Friday evening, responses from Colorado Republicans run the gamut from level-headed to…well, not so much. We’ll start with a rare moment of praise for Sen. Cory Gardner, whose statement in the immediate wake of the attacks showed commendable restraint:

“The people of Colorado and the United States stand firmly beside our oldest ally, France. We mourn those lost and pray for their families. And we are united with all Parisians as they unite against this senseless violence.”

Rep. Mike Coffman, unfortunately, couldn’t resist taking a potshot at the Obama administration on FOX News:

From Sen. Laura Woods, set to compete in Colorado’s hottest state senate race next year, more or less full-blown panic:

And don’t even get Jonathan Lockwood of leading local conservative group Advancing Colorado started:

Really, please don’t get him started:

It should be noted that the latter outburst from Lockwood is apparently in response to President Barack Obama arriving a few minutes late for a moment of silence in honor of victims at the G-20 conference in Turkey. To characterize Mr. Lockwood’s reaction to that minor infraction as over the top is a considerable understatement.

It’s not our intention to belittle any genuine shock felt over the terrorist attacks in Paris, which given the nature of events there is to a significant degree completely understandable. We understand that an attack of this magnitude will certainly be a factor in many debates about American policy, and the role of Colorado politicians in shaping that policy. The number of current stories this event affects that we’ve been talking about in this space range from the debate over the threat posed by ISIS to the transfer of detainees from the Guantanamo Bay prison to facilities in Colorado.

But there is some rhetoric that, we should all be able to agree, simply does not help anybody.

Get More Smarter on Friday the 13th

gmsfriday13thHappy Friday the 13th, knock on wood! 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).


Politico reports that the U.S. Supreme Court will review the constitutionality of onerous new abortion restrictions in Texas, a major development in the nonexistent “War on Women.”

The timing of the decision, likely next June, is expected to drive voter turnout, galvanizing those on both sides of the abortion debate to turn out for a presidential candidate who shares their views on one of the nation’s most polarizing social issues.

The case, Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, is expected to turn on whether the Texas law — which imposes sweeping construction requirements on abortion clinics and requires providers to have hospital admitting privileges — is “an undue burden” on women’s access to the procedure.

Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the clinics, called the case the “most important abortion rights case in nearly 25 years.”

► GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump continued his withering rhetorical assault on his closest competitor Ben Carson this week, but as The Hill reports, the good somnolent doctor is not returning fire:

Speaking at a press conference after a town-hall event in South Carolina with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Carson repeatedly passed on opportunities to kick back at Trump, who has sought to frame the retired neurosurgeon as deranged and has mocked the stories Carson has told about his temper as a young man.

Responding to questions about Trump’s attacks, Carson said voters are “sick and tired” of the “politics of destruction,” and sought to redirect the line of questioning to more substantive issues.

Oh come on, our popcorn isn’t even ready yet.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Klingenschmitt says Gardner is doing the “Bob and Weave Dance”

(Finally some fireworks in the race to succeed Bill Cadman – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt likes to come out swinging at his various targets, including, now, his Republican opponent for state senate, Rep. Bob Gardner.

Showing off his media skills, Klingenschmitt posted an entertaining video today, labeling Gardner a “liberal” and featuring Gardner doing the “Bob and Weave Dance.”

Klingenschmitt: My opponent for the race for State Senate District 12, Bob Gardner, has just started performing this Bob and Weave Dance to perfection! Here’s a quick example. If you’re following this Colorado Springs election, you know we’re both Republicans. And I’m actually conservative and Bob Gardner is a liberal who pretends to be a conservative.

Klingenschmitt’s undercover video features Gardner saying he supports the principles of liberty, but Chaps points to the Principle of Liberty website, which lists Gardner as receiving an F in 2013 2014.

“Don’t believe ratings systems that are odd, distorted,” Gardner apparently says in Chaps’ undercover video.

Chaps calls that statement an examaple of the Bob and Weave Dance–and he wants an apology from Gardner for allegedly calling Chaps a liar.

Chaps concludes with, “Unlike you, Mr. Bob-and-Weave Gardner, I don’t dance.” (But we know Chaps does throw poop.)

County Commissioner again accuses Obama of promoting charter schools with ties to Turkish cleric

(What a swell primary this is going to be – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.

El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.

A Colorado Springs county commissioner, who’s considering entering the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, is again alleging that President Obama backed a national education program, in part, as a way to establish U.S. charter schools linked to a Turkish Islamic cleric.

“One of the reasons that President Obama was actually looking at and amenable and actually kind of agreeable to, if you will, Common Core was, that would be a way to influence and infiltrate and open up charter schools to able to have the Fethullah Gulen charter schools, which were bringing teachers over from Turkey,” said El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton Monday on KLZ 560-AM.

Littleton did not cite her evidence for this, but it reflects what she said at a conservative conference in March, as reported by Scott Keyes of ThinkProgress.  It’s not clear what Common Core, which is an education curriculum, has to do with establishing charter schools in the United States.

Followers of the reclusive Gulen, many with Turkish ties, have opened charter schools worldwide over the past decade, including over 100 in the U.S.  They focus on math and science, in keeping with Gulen’s notion that devout Muslims should not teach religion but science instead. “Studying physics, mathematics, and chemistry is worshipping God,” he sermonizes, according to a CBS investigation.

CBS discussed allegations that the Gulen schools are exploiting foreign-born teachers and the charter-school system for profit–and that the schools are secretly “promoting an Islamic agenda.”

CBS interviewed a teacher who claimed she was exploited, but CBS couldn’t confirm these accusations regarding Islam, reporting that “we looked into this and Islam is not taught at all.”

But Littleton implies that religious education is taking place at a Colorado charter school, which she allegedly visited, with ties to Gulen.

Littleton: “When I went in, it was apparent to me that the some of the pictures and things had been taken off in the walls. And they practiced, you know, some of the Muslim practices that are taught in the Koran, is what I observed when I was there.”

In March, Littleton told ThinkProgress that these charter schools teach students to “hate Americans.” This may or may not connect with her belief, expressed at a Alliance Defending Freedom Conference in July in Colorado Springs, that churches should prepare to “respond biblically” to disasters like “martial law.”  Anyway, when I hear back from Littleton, I’ll ask her about this, too.


Gitmo Follies: The Sheriff Who Wouldn’t Sign

La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith.

La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith.

In our discussion of the campaign promise by President Barack Obama to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and settle the status of the remaining 112 “enemy combatants” imprisoned there since the Bush administration, we would be remiss if we didn’t point out the Durango Herald’s report yesterday–about La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith, and his decision not to sign a letter penned by right-wing Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith (no close relation we know of) opposing the transfer of any Gitmo detainees to federal facilities in Colorado:

On Monday, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith made public the petition, which states the sheriffs are “concerned that utilizing current civilian prisons in our state would significantly – and unnecessarily – endanger our citizens.”

The letter goes on to say that housing the detainees from Guantanamo, started in 2002 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, would attract terrorist “sympathizers who would mount an attack … or commit other acts of terror.”

“[Sean Smith:]…We’re very far removed from it. I’m focused on what’s going on with the citizens in our county. If I felt like it would create adverse risks for us, I would get involved.”

Supermax already holds some of the nation’s most dangerous terrorists, including Ted Kaczynski, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Ramzi Yousef, who coordinated the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. [Sean] Smith said the presence of those high-profile criminals has never posed a danger to La Plata County.

County sheriffs from all corners of our state signed Justin Smith’s letter. The letter cited a range of concerns from the logistics of transporting the detainees to the risk that the facilities might be subject to terrorist attack. But as this story does a better job of pointing out than many other recent reports, Colorado is already host to some of the world’s worst terrorists at the Florence “Supermax” federal prison.

The other problem with the sheriffs’ objections to transferring Gitmo detainees to Colorado is, as La Plata County Sheriff Sean Smith points out like Captain Obvious, that Colorado is a really big state, and most of it is not anywhere near anything relevant to this question. La Plata County has nothing to fear–and neither does Sedgwick County or Mesa County. Or Routt County or Yuma County or…you get the idea, right?

In its way, all of these dozens of elected politician county sheriffs signing this letter, including many whose jurisdiction would be in no way adversely impacted by the transfer of Gitmo detainees to Colorado, betrays an underlying political motive that significantly undermines their credibility. After all, Sheriff Justin Smith was one of the ringleaders in the so-far unsuccessful Independence Institute-powered lawsuit by many county sheriffs against the 2013 gun safety bills–along with former El Paso County Sheriff “Shirtless” Terry Maketa, who we’re not supposed to talk about now that the county is settling the lawsuits left in his wake.

Anyway, with Larimer County’s Sheriff Smith making headlines with his splashy but meaningless letter, we wanted to acknowledge this act of profound sensibility by La Plata County’s Sheriff Smith. Our sheriffs in Colorado may be politicians, but they don’t always have to act like it.

Friday Open Thread

“Being slightly paranoid is like being slightly pregnant–it tends to get worse.”

–Molly Ivins

Ryan Frazier is Running for Senate, For Some Reason

UPDATE #2: Local conservative blog Colorado Peak Politics is very excited about the diversity of the growing field of GOP Senate candidates–perhaps a bit too much so? Their post on Ryan Frazier’s entry into the race originally stated:

Republicans now have recruited two blacks, [Pols emphasis] one Hispanic, a woman (maybe), and a fresh face (maybe)…

Since edited to read:

Republicans now have recruited two black guys, [Pols emphasis] one Hispanic, a woman (maybe), and a fresh face (maybe)…

We assume because we stopped referring to African-Americans as “the blacks,” you know, several decades ago. This is the same blog that assigned the label “Hispanic” to a candidate from Calcutta, India last year, so we guess this racial stuff just isn’t their strong suit.

We’re happy they’re happy, though.


Who has one thumb up and no chance at winning a U.S. Senate race? This guy.

Who has one thumb up and no chance at winning a U.S. Senate race? This guy.

UPDATE: This is Ryan Frazier in a nutshell. His campaign announcement video says that “after nearly 8 years, Senator Michael Bennet has only made things worse for you.”

Um, Bennet was appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2009. Math is not our best subject, either, but we’re pretty sure that 2015 minus 2009 equals not eight.


Politics is often a discussion about possibility and potential, largely because there are so few certainties that we can rely upon in our arguments.

And then there is Ryan Frazier.

The former Aurora city council member has reportedly decided to enter the Republican field for U.S. Senate in 2016, telling 9News that he will kick off his campaign with a video announcement on Thursday.

It would be hard to get too excited about his candidacy if you are a Republican, because we already know what happens when Frazier runs for higher office: He loses, badly. Frazier’s last two campaigns (CD-7 in 2010 and Aurora Mayor in 2011) both ended with double-digit losses, and 2010 was a very good year to be a Republican candidate.

Colorado Pols first reported back in August that Frazier was having discussions about a potential Senate run, but we were skeptical that he might really jump in the race; we didn’t think we’d ever see Frazier running for another office after his second consecutive drubbing in 2011. Here’s what we wrote back on Aug. 12 when we first heard that Frazier might be considering a run for Senate:

We don’t have many details on the “Frazier for Senate” rumor, but in some ways, it almost doesn’t even matter if the story is true or not. If anybody is seriously considering getting behind Frazier in 2016, it is a clear indication that Republicans are essentially conceding the seat to incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

Late last month, Frazier left his part-time “political analyst” position at 9News because he was apparently getting serious about the Senate race, but even then we had a hard time taking the story too seriously. Ryan Frazier is not good at running for office, and we doubt he could even win a Primary against state Sen. Tim Neville. Check that — Frazier will not beat Neville in a GOP Primary.

It is unclear who exactly is behind the idea of a Frazier campaign for Senate, but this isn’t going to end well for him.

Gitmo: How the Denver Post Endorses Against Itself

(We couldn’t have said this any better – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: Liberal group ProgressNow Colorado calls on all sides to step up and do what needs to be done to close Gitmo:

“Our nation’s reputation as a moral leader in world affairs has been severely damaged by the illegal imprisonment without trial of hundreds of people rounded up by the Bush administration in the months after the 9/11 terror attacks,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Amy Runyon-Harms. “Closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center was a campaign promise made by President Obama eight years ago, and it’s the right thing to do today. Colorado already has some of the world’s worst terrorists imprisoned at the Supermax facility in Florence. There is no greater danger to Coloradans from transferring Gitmo detainees to our state, and we [have] so much to gain from doing away with one of the worst examples of abuse of basic human rights in American history.”

“Republicans attacking the President for trying to close Gitmo’s detention center are hoping to cover up an ugly history of torture and imprisonment without trial that they themselves share guilt for,” said Runyon-Harms. [Pols emphasis] “But it is also very disappointing that so few Democrats in Colorado are willing to stand with our President and do our part to end the shame the Guantanamo Bay prison has brought on our nation. As a Coloradan, I am not afraid of doing the right thing to restore America’s good name in the world. It’s time for our leaders on both sides to summon up the backbone needed to close Gitmo–and restore the rule of law to American foreign policy.”


Gitmo detainees.

Gitmo detainees.

When the Denver Post editorialized last September that politicians like Sen. Cory Gardner were fear-mongering on the closure of the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, I remember telling a few liberal friends, who were forwarding the piece around, that one of two things would happen next: 1) the Denver Post would likely file it away and then avert their eyes when Gardner didn’t change course; or 2) the editorial board would figure out a way to give Gardner political cover.

Well look no further than Wednesday’s editorial on Guantanamo to see Option 2 on full display. Every politician who by the Post’s own description had been engaging in “baseless hysteria” and “nonsense” gets one more tsk-tsk before the attention gets turned to the Obama administration for merely considering other options before announcing a plan.

You instantly grasp the intended effect of today’s editorial by the glee with which the Gardner and RNC flacks began promoting the story after it went online late Tuesday. The Post stood silent for nearly two months as Gardner and congressional Republicans jammed the Gitmo issue into the must-pass defense authorization bill, against the Post’s own editorial position, before wading in again after the legislative fight was over.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

Sen. Cory Gardner.

The editorial is a bit of a repeat of a move the Post made last March when they wrapped Gardner across the knuckles in an editorial short for “grandstanding” on the Iran deal by signing an open letter to the mullahs, then inexplicably followed up with a much longer piece the very next day to dismiss the whole controversy as not a big deal.

This is classic “centrism” from an editorial perspective, but timed to give Gardner the outcome he wants. The Post can “deplore” the politicians who blocked Guantanamo’s closure in Congress, but the headline is reserved for the president trying to act. And nothing the editorial board “deplores” ever threatens to affect the process determining the newspaper’s endorsements.


Seize this Opportunity to Reform 1872 Public Lands Mining Law

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Senator Micheal Bennet joined with several of his counterparts to introduce mining reform legislation that could help avert future events like the Gold King spill.

Lost in election news, perhaps, and over-coverage of the 2016 horse race, there was not enough attention paid to a significant development in the decades-long effort to reform the antiquated law still governing hardrock mining on America’s public lands.

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) joined his New Mexican counterpart Senator Tom Udall, and others, to introduce legislation that would begin to reform the General Mining Law of 1872 that still governs this activity on public lands. The release from Sen. Bennet’s website states:

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) along with Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Edward Markey (D-MA) introduced a bill to reform the nation’s antiquated hardrock mining laws. The Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2015 will ensure mining companies pay royalties for the privilege of extracting mineral resources from public lands.

The recent tragic mishap that led to the spill of acidic mine water into the Animas River has drawn new attention to the legacy left behind from tens of thousands of abandoned hardrock mines around the West.

Gold King mine above Silverton dumped a load of acidic mine waste into Cement Creek and the Animas River, when a colossal error by the U.S. EPA breached the dike holding back the toxic water.

Unlike oil and gas or coal gotten off the public lands, which are subject to royalty fees that go to the U.S. treasury, hardrock mining–which includes uranium, gold, silver, copper, molybdenum, etc.–is not subject to such a payment back to the American people that own the public lands.

And since hardrock mining pays no royalty there are no funds specifically earmarked to address the mess historic mining left behind. The reform legislation will help make sure that taxpayers are not left to pay for cleaning up these abandoned mining sites, as the Senator’s release notes:

The bill helps ensure that taxpayers aren’t on the hook for cleaning up abandoned mines, many of which are continuously leaking toxic chemicals into rivers and streams and have the potential for catastrophic disasters like the recent Gold King Mine blowout. The Gold King Mine accident spilled 3 million gallons of toxic wastewater into the Animas and San Juan rivers, and communities in New Mexico and Colorado are still struggling to recover from the impact to businesses, farms, and local governments.

In 1872 there was bipartisan support to fulfill the “manifest destiny” to complete the settlement and development of the West. In the wake of this mania, tens of thousands of mines now lie abandoned across the American West. And now there are towns and populations settled across the region.


Get More Smarter on Thursday (Nov. 12)

Get More SmarterSo much for that snow. 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).


► Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio has been maniacally tap-dancing around the issue of immigration reform, and his latest “position” on the issue is pretty damn far from the Senate legislation that he once drafted in 2013. This is obviously a political problem for Rubio, but as he backs away from his own policy ideas, he’s leaving other Republicans with nowhere to turn. We’re looking at you, Rep. Mike Coffman.

► We might need another clown car. Republican Ryan Frazier is running for U.S. Senate, and fellow Republican Jon Keyser is also close to joining the fracas. Neither candidate can likely defeat state Sen. Tim Neville in a GOP Primary.

Meanwhile, incumbent Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday. The meeting is significant, because Bennet’s support of President Obama’s Iran policy has caused plenty of tension with the AIPAC crowd.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Make Room In The Senate Clown Car For Jon Keyser

We heard you need a U.S. Senator?

We heard you need a U.S. Senator?

While the Colorado political world digests the entry today of perennial loser Ryan Frazier into the Republican primary for the 2016 U.S. Senate race, we’ve received word of yet another ambitious small-timer who may throw his hat into the ring. Rep. Jon Keyser of Morrison is reportedly making the rounds with Republican high-rollers in an effort to convince them he is worth backing for a run for the U.S. Senate.

Our readers will remember Keyser from the controversy he stirred up as a House candidate after receiving “two ballots” for the 2013 elections–which he then took to social media to denounce as evidence of a “failed system,” with all the attendant hand-wringing about the horrors of mail ballot election fraud. It soon emerged that Keyser owns a plot of land in Delta County, and the “second ballot” he received was just for a local ballot measure there. It is all but certain in retrospect that Keyser knew all of this, and was eager enough to assist in the GOP’s baseless trolling of Colorado’s new mail balloting system to, you know, completely bullshit people.

As for a run for the U.S. Senate, any backing Keyser might get for this race signals to us a real uncertainty on the part of high-level Republicans on how to proceed. Keyser is well connected to the 17th Street legal/finance class that includes many of the state’s most powerful Republican donors and kingmakers. We don’t doubt his ability to articulate a good case for support, but he’s just not a heavyweight candidate for this marquee 2016 race. Certainly not more than the experienced and grassroots-friendly Sen. Tim Neville, or even a usual suspect like Frazier who at least has a media footprint.

Who’s next, folks? Because Keyser certainly won’t be clearing the field.