Weekend Open Thread

“If some great catastrophe is not announced every morning, we feel a certain void. Nothing in the paper today, we sigh.”

–Lord Acton

Rep. Klingenschmitt: Homosexuals “Want To Rule You”

Colorado’s most famous (or infamous) sitting member of the state legislature, GOP Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, uploaded a new episode of his Pray in Jesus’ Name Youtube “ministry” program today. Since taking office in January and for some time before, Klingenschmitt’s broadcasts have done a great deal to putrefy the Republican brand in Colorado, as well as make him a national symbol of the general intolerance and cluelessness of the contemporary religious right. Klingenschmitt was even punished by fellow Republicans after he claimed the horrific attack on a pregnant woman in Longmont last March was “God’s curse upon America,” though he was quietly reinstated to the committee assignment he lost just a couple of weeks later.

In today’s episode (clip posted above), Rep. Klingenschmitt launched into an unusually forceful tirade about the rights of gays and lesbians to participate in society, and what that means for “the Christian audience.” Transcribed:

KLINGENSCHMITT: And there has been this branding, this idea that oh, you know homosexual marriage and that movement is all about love. No. There’s a spirit of lust inside some people who are confused about their sexuality and they just lust, and they crave flesh, and it’s not selfless sacrifice or loving your neighbor, you can do that. A man can visit another man in the hospital and show them genuine compassion without lusting for them sexually. So it’s not the same as love.

It’s also not about equality. Oh, they say, oh, we just want equal rights. You already have the equal right to marry someone of the opposite sex. Everyone in this country already had for decades, for generations, the right to marry somebody of the opposite sex if they want to. And just because you don’t sexually prefer, doesn’t mean that you have now a legal right to marry someone of the same sex. That’s not a right, because rights come from God.

Finally, it is, if it’s not about love, it’s not about equality, what is it about? It’s about power. And, and when they push their agenda for the right to reeducate your children in their image, for the right to, uh, recruit or adopt, because they can’t have their own children they want the right to remake society in their own image, and force you to either shut up or shut down. And that’s why they’re trying to pass these ordnances against bakers and photographers and florists, to force you the Christian audience, or force Christian universities to endorse their sin or lose your tax exempt status as we talked about in the previous story. This is about power. They want to rule you. And we need to stand up against that and we need to disobey.

So, there’s plenty to ping the outrage meter with here–but if we had to pick, we’d say that somewhere between declaring that gays don’t experience “the same thing as love” and how they want to “recruit or adopt” the children of straight America, “Dr. Chaps” is burying the needle. Again.

We’ll ask again: how is it not news every time an incumbent Republican lawmaker says these things? He shouldn’t draw a pass in the media on account of frequency. We shouldn’t assume he’s offending his fellow Republicans too. He should be called out loudly, by friend and foe, every time.

Shouldn’t he?

Get More Smarter on Friday (June 19)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218It’s hotter than a stolen tamale out there. 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).


► Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton smacked Donald Trump hard over Trump’s campaign announcement speech yesterday, in which The Donald made some typically outrageous statements about [insert ethnic group here]. Politico:

“We have to have a candid national conversation about race and about discrimination, prejudice, hatred,” Clinton said in an interview with KNPB’s Jon Ralston. “But unfortunately the public discourse is sometimes hotter and more negative than it should be, which can, in my opinion, trigger people who are less than stable.” [Pols emphasis]

“For example,” the former secretary of state added, “a recent entry into the Republican presidential campaign said some very inflammatory things about Mexicans. Everybody should stand up and say that’s not acceptable. You don’t talk like that on talk radio. You don’t talk like that on the kind of political campaigns…”

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump told the audience. “They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some, I assume, are good people.”

Cynthia Coffman is not running for the U.S. Senate, and she really wants you to know she decided that before she started blackmailing people. Meanwhile, Steve House remains chair of the Colorado Republican Party, and rank-and-file Republicans are trying to figure out what the hell is going on since no one in the know will tell them. Like Dick Wadhams says, it’s time to “put up or shut up.”

► The controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement is moving again through Congress after a close House vote. Rep. Jared Polis joined with most Republicans in the Colorado delegation to pass the legislation, with Reps. Diana DeGette, Ed Perlmutter, and Ken Buck voting against.

► State Sen. Mike Johnston’s letter to a local African Methodist Episcopal church in the aftermath of the Charleston shooting is getting lots of attention today:

“By Sunday morning America could blanket these churches with such overwhelming expressions of love that no one could walk through the doors of an AME church without feeling a flood of love and support from white men whose names they don’t know, whose faces they can’t place, but whose love they can’t ignore,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, it’s increasingly clear that the Charleston shooter, described as a “strong conservative,” was motivated by racial hatred–making it harder to downplay his actions as simple insanity.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Dispute about RNC involvement in Colorado dogged GOP chair in recent weeks

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado GOP chairman Steve House.

Colorado GOP chairman Steve House.

Prior to this week’s coup attempt, state Republican leader Steve House was under fire from Tea Party activists for cozying up too closely with the Republican National Committee (RNC).

It’s unlikely that the failed ouster of House was inspired by disagreements about RNC involvement in Colorado, but I’ll offer up some background about the dispute anyway, in case there’s more to it that I don’t understand.

Plus, the details about the relationship between the RNC and the state Republican Party, which emerge in the radio interview below, show that the state party is an important part of national Republican voter mobilization. This counters the argument you sometimes hear about the irrelevancy of the state party–beyond its role in candidate selection and the caucus process.

In a contentious June 3 interview on KLZ 560-AM, House fought off allegations from host Kris Cook and guest Ken Clark that the RNC was planning to implement voter mobilization strategies in Colorado, without cooperating or working with Republican County Chairs. Both hosts express little or no trust in the RNC, because they don’t think the RNC’s goals (e.g., electing Jeb Bush) align with the state party goals of winning the state house and lower ballot races. And they worry that House is allowing RNC to take control in Colorado.

Also floating around in the background is the 2014 campaign by the Republican Governor’s Association to knock out Tom Tancredo during the GOP primary.

In any case, here’s a few samples of House’s response to Clark and Cook earlier this month. (Listen to the entire interview below,)

House: “I would be screaming loudly if I saw anything in [the RNC’s] actions, or our strategy sessions, or conversation, that they’re going to go to Adams County and cut out Anil Mathai. They’re not going to do that. I’m going with them to Adams County […]. “But we also have to hire people who are smart enough and capable enough to execute a strategy that gets us to victory without Jeff [El Paso County GOP staffer] having to hold their hand. The most important part is we’ve committed to the fact that all of these employees that are hired are going to be interviewed by the county leadership, as well. That is absolutely going to happen. And myself.”

House tried to emphasize that the RNC needs the state party and vice versa:

House: “If you think about what happened in ‘14, in ’14 there were 31 field offices created in the state […] called Victory Offices, etc. This time, the decision was made that it was actually more important to have people than offices. So, we may see two, three, four offices in the state. But it’s mostly about the field organization to get out the vote. And, you know, Chariman Priebus and I, and we’ve had conversations along with Matt Pinnel who is the Chair of Chairs, along with Peter Grace who is the APD for our area from RNC, you know, the strategy is, look, you have to execute on the ground so much better than we have in the past to win in a Presidential year. So the strategy in a presidential year is different than it is in the midterm year. And it really involves all these people because the belief is if we don’t enable minority voters, if we don’t get out the vote at a much higher rate, we’re not going to get there. And offices are not going to do that. So, I think it’s coincidence on the primary, Ken. I’ve talked to these guys five times, six times, in the last two days about strategy. I’ve asked the hard questions all along. I don’t believe we’re going to see –. I wouldn’t let it happen! I mean, I really wouldn’t. I mean, we – there’s no reason in the world, and there’s no way the RNC really can run their strategy without involving county Parties in what’s going on, because there’s not enough with 43 or 45 people on the ground to do that. They have to integrate into our volunteer structure and our counties, or there won’t be enough people.

House emphasized that in 2014, the RNC transferred money to the state party to cover the payroll of over 700 people, including staff, walkers, and field directors.

“So it all flows through the Colorado GOP,” he said.


Friday Open Thread

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

–Warren Buffett

BREAKING: Cynthia Coffman Declines 2016 Senate Bid

UPDATE: 9NEWS Brandon Rittiman reporting, Cynthia Coffman sticks to her story about the timing of her decision not to run for the U.S. Senate:

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman confirmed to 9NEWS Thursday she will not run for US Senate, saying it’s a decision she made before this week’s news of her participation in an attempt to oust the new state GOP chairman.

“I have said it repeatedly to anyone who will listen,” Coffman said in an email to 9NEWS. “The party knows it; I told the chair many weeks ago.”

As further evidence that the decision was made prior to this week’s public ruckus over party leadership, Coffman said she informed another Colorado media outlet of her political plans before the dust-up occurred.

Bottom line: it’s certainly possible that Mrs. Coffman told a few reporters or fellow GOP insiders that she wouldn’t run for the U.S. Senate next year–but it really doesn’t matter that much. If Coffman wants to tell the world how no, she really did decide not to run before she started blackmailing people, she’s free to do so. That won’t change the perceptions, and if anything could drive more attention to the story.

Regardless of the timing of Mrs. Coffman’s decision, there’s an easy reason she felt the need to go public about the Senate race today: the same reason she is getting national press right now to begin with. And it’s not a reason that makes her, or fellow Colorado Republicans, look in any way good. Original post follows.


Former Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call, AG Cynthia Coffman.

Former Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call, AG Cynthia Coffman.

We can’t call it a surprise after the disastrous week Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has had in the wake of nationally publicized allegations that she participated in the alleged attempted blackmail of Colorado GOP chairman Steve House, but as National Review’s Alexis Levinson reports:

Colorado attorney general Cynthia Coffman will not run in the state’s upcoming Senate race, she tells National Review.

“I’m not running,” she said. “I thought about it for half a minute. I like being in Colorado, and I love my job. This is where I want to be.”

Cynthia Coffman made headlines earlier this week for her role in what has been described as an attempted coup against the Colorado GOP leadership. The chairman of the party, Steve House, has said that Coffman called a meeting with him where she and two other Colorado Republicans asked him to resign. House has alleged they threatened to publicly accuse him of having an extramarital affair if he did not do so. Coffman, in a statement released Wednesday evening, denied making any such threats. House ultimately declined to resign.

Colorado Republicans say Coffman’s prominent role in what has become a messy, public dispute could damage her political future… [Pols emphasis]

In today’s story, Cynthia Coffman claims to have reached this decision before the scandal over the attempted shakedown of House dominated local political headlines this week, but that’s not consistent with what we were hearing as recently as Monday. Chatter among Republicans in the last couple of weeks about a Cynthia Coffman run for the U.S. Senate was much too widespread to be accidental, and ramped up right after state Sen. Ellen Roberts faceplanted in the national media explaining her shifting views on reproductive choice. Another possible 2016 Senate candidate, Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler, committed a major social media gaffe earlier this month that helped create space for Mrs. Coffman to get in the race.

As of today? Back to the drawing board, Colorado Republicans. Cynthia Coffman’s brief time in the limelight is over.

Republicans: “Put Up or Shut Up” Over Mysterious Allegations Against GOP Party Chair Steve House

“They have a duty to reveal the charges. They need to put up or shut up.”

– Former GOP State Chair Dick Wadhams on the vague allegations put forth by Coffman, Tancredo, and Mizel.

As we roll into Day 3 of “Cynthia-Gate,” the outrageous failed coup attempt against State Republican Party Chair Steve House, it is abundantly clear that Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has no idea how to salvage her now-dead political career.

In a story that first appeared late Wednesday, Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post writes that Coffman is going heavy on the “denial” strategy.

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman on Wednesday disputed claims that she and two other Republicans “ambushed” state GOP chairman Steve House and threatened to accuse him publicly of cheating on his wife if he didn’t resign…

…”There was no joy in this,” said Coffman. “There were no threats, nor was there any desire for the meeting to become public fodder. At the same time, just sort of sweeping it under the rug wouldn’t have been responsible.:

Yeah, you definitely don’t want to sweep things under the rug; it’s always better to try to use extortion or blackmail instead!

Despite these late denials, there is little reason to believe that Coffman, Tom Tancredo, and Becky Mizel did not ambush House on Monday night in an effort to force his resignation; what remains unclear are the details of the alleged charges against House, which Tancredo has cryptically classified as “grave concerns.” Bartels writes that neither Coffman, Tancredo, nor Mizel would provide details about these “grave concerns,” and it’s this refusal to come clean that is only deepening the rift:

Former State Republican Party Chair Dick Wadhams was also critical that the trio hasn’t released what prompted them to demand House’s resignation.

“They have a duty to reveal the charges. They need to put up or shut up,” he said.

Coffman, Tancredo, and Mizel likely are keeping quiet on specifics because they don’t have anything to say that would slow this scandal. A new story today from Politico Pro (content behind paywall) demonstrates an odd sense of almost, well, acceptance from Republican insiders:


Likeness of former State Senator Ted Harvey, left, and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.


“Right now, the Colorado GOP is looking more like a third-world backwater, and if it continues then folks are going to find a way to cut them out of the picture,” a Colorado GOP operative said…

…[Ryan] Call, the former state party chairman who was ousted by House, said it could dramatically impact “the perception as to whether the party can play an active role recruiting a top-tier candidate.”

“This is deeply problematic,” he said. “Every day with this uncertainty, the trust and credibility, which takes years to develop, can be undermined in very short order. And that’s what’s happening right now.” [Pols emphasis]

If you missed yesterday’s considerable updates to the story, things are indeed getting worse by the day hour, and Cynthia Coffman may soon have plenty of company in the political rubbish bin. Her “husband,” Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is now getting thrown into the mix by association. As one unnamed Republican political operative tells Roll Call:

“The Coffmans, both Cynthia and Congressman Coffman, came with a lot of unknowns and risks, and I think that was one of the reasons why it wasn’t a bad thing that they both decided not to run for Senate,” said one national Republican operative. “I think behind the scenes this is sort of a scary public display of what the rumors had been; it’s pretty troubling that the attorney general is going around threatening people.” [Pols emphasis]

As you can see, Republicans are focused less on damage control and more on keeping their distance from the obviously-toxic Coffman (as well as Tancredo and Mizel). Instead of trying to paint the story as some made-up liberal conspiracy, Republicans are independently making the decision to shrug their shoulders while keeping their backs turned to Coffman. The longer that it takes for Coffman and crew to fess up about these mythical allegations against House, the deeper they find themselves stuck in their own muck.


Roberts’ flawed attack on “liberal columnist” spotlights tragic defeat of LARC family-planning legislation

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango).

Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango).

Last month, The Nation magazine’s Katha Pollitt reported that State Sen. Ellen Roberts was opposed to legislation providing funds Colorado’s amazing pregnancy prevention program because Roberts was unconvinced that Obamacare didn’t already pay for the long-acting-reversible contraption (LARC) offered under the family planning initiative.

“Republican Senator Ellen Roberts told me she might have supported the bill if she’d had a good answer for that,” reported Pollitt.

In her column, Pollitt provided the widely-known fact that insurance companies are not currently paying for the services and care provided by the LARC program.

About a month later, The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels reported that Roberts, who’s a Republican from Durango, was unhappy with Politt’s column:

Roberts said she should have been aware she was talking to a liberal columnist, and explained more clearly that she already had told GOP leaders if the bill made it to the Senate floor, she would support it.

If Roberts was opposed to the LARC bill because she thought Obamacare already covered the program, as reported by Pollitt, how could Roberts possibly have promised GOP leaders that she would support the bill if it came to the floor? No amount of clarifying to Pollitt could explain this inconsistency, whether Pollitt was radical communist or a hatchet-wielding or blackmailing Colorado Republican.

And, not that it matters, but Roberts had no excuse for failing to know that Pollitt is a progressive columnist. In an email prior to her interview with Roberts, Pollitt actually factually told Roberts she was with The Nation–and Pollitt says she has the email to prove it. Roberts had plenty of time to type the name “Katha Pollitt” in Google.

Pollitt told me via email: When I emailed Sen. Roberts I identified myself as a columnist with The Nation magazine. (I have the e mail.) If she didn’t know we are a liberal publication — and if she would have said something different had she known that — she could easily have found out. It’s not a secret!

I asked Pollitt if she quoted Roberts accurately and she politely responded with, “I quoted her accurately.”


Get More Smarter on Thursday (June 18)

MoreSmarterLogo-300x218We’ll take the heat over the rain, thank you very much. 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).



► Attorney General Cynthia Coffman has moved back to the “denial stage” of her controversy surrounding a coup attempt against State Republican Party Chair Steve House. It’s a little late to go that route, however; denial will not make Cynthia-gate go away. Here’s a good visual representation of Coffman’s problems.

► Former Congressman Tom Tancredo, meanwhile, appears to be feeling a little lonely sitting underneath the proverbial bus with Coffman and Pueblo County GOP Chair Becky Mizel. Tancredo says now that there were numerous Republican lawmakers who were aware of the plot to overthrow House, just three months into his tenure as Party Chair.

Police have a suspect in custody following the killing of 9 people at a church in Charleston, SC on Wednesday. The attack claimed the life of a state senator, among others, and appears to be racially-motivated. President Obama made some emotional remarks about the shootings and about gun violence in general.

The president said that the FBI is on the ground and will send more agents to assist with the investigation. He cited a statement by Attorney General Loretta Lynch classifying the effort as a hate crime investigation. But though he acknowledged many facts are not yet known, he also said that insufficient gun laws were partially to blame.

“We don’t have all the facts, but we do know that once again innocent people were killed in part because someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting their hands on a gun,” he continued. “Now is the time for mourning and for healing, but let’s be clear: At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.” [Pols emphasis]

Get even more smarter after the jump…


Janet Buckner To Succeed Late Husband In Colorado House

The late Rep. John Buckner and Janet Buckner.

The late Rep. John Buckner and Janet Buckner.

As noted by the Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels:

Soon after Rep. John Buckner died, friends talked about his widow, Janet Buckner, taking his seat in the Colorado House. On Wednesday, she made it official.

Janet Buckner is seeking to be appointed to fill the vacancy in House District 40, which her husband has represented since 2013. The vacancy committee will meet on June 25.

From Janet Buckner’s statement yesterday:

“We are so thankful for the outpouring of love and support over the last few weeks – from John’s family, friends, colleagues, former students, and the community as a whole. Your support has meant so much to our family during this difficult time.

“My husband John was a true public servant. He spent his entire life helping others – his passion for policies that advance education and equity for all people guided his every decision. As his wife and life partner for 45 years, I know how deeply he cared about these issues, and how hard he worked every day to improve the lives of people in our community.

“House District 40 has lost an unparalleled leader and advocate, and I am committed to carrying on John’s legacy of making sure every child has access to a quality education and the opportunity to succeed. I am dedicated to honoring my husband and fulfilling the trust that the people of Aurora have put in him to work on their behalf. John and I moved to Aurora in 1975 — we raised our family here, and became part of the community. I hope to continue to give back to our community in Aurora and to have the honor of serving House District 40 at the legislature.”

Bartels reports that although some other Democrats had expressed preliminary interest in being appointed to HD-40, everyone was on hold to see what Mrs. Buckner would decide. Now that she has decided to seek Rep. John Buckner’s House seat, we expect she’ll encounter little or no opposition. HD-40 is best described as a safe-ish Democratic seat, taken by Buckner in 2012 from former Rep. Cindy Acree. In 2014, Rep. Bucker held the seat against Republican JulieMarie Shepherd by about two thousand votes, a larger margin than the total votes cast for the Libertarian also running there.

All told, a happy ending to a sad story from the end of this year’s legislative session.

The “Church,” Climate Change, and the Decline of the Bees

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Pope is getting all the news today on Climate, having clarified – the faithful are told to believe—that God is not OK with trashing the earth, and that we need to do something about that.

“The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.”

But as Francis has his eyes on all Creation – the World writ large – the sometimes mysterious working of the world in detail are where most of the stuff gets done.  Like pollination.  This week is, after all, also National Pollinators Week

Birds, and bees and others among the panoply of species populating our planet are not just buzzing around your sugary drink, or swooping hotdogs off your picnic table.  They too are doing the Lord’s bidding, in small but crucial ways.  Like keeping three-quarters of the world’s plants alive. 

Most people know by now that bees are in decline and that this is a major problem – for the obvious reasons, because we also like food.  Some important food crops, like corn, are wind pollinated.  But most rely on pollinators

And it is not just the bees that in in trouble. Bees and other pollinators are on decline for a number of reasons.  And across the spectrum, pollinators are suffering: bees, bats, birds and butterflies– all face numerous threats that put survival of many individual species in jeopardy. The National Wildlife Federation notes in an online article:

In addition to butterflies, the NAS report provides evidence of decline in three other pollinator groups: hummingbirds, bats and—especially—bumblebees. A 2008 report from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, a nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon, paints an even bleaker picture of the familiar, fuzzy insects’ fate. Compiling data from more than three dozen scientists and “citizen monitors” across the country, the report concludes that populations of three formerly common species—the rusty-patched, yellowbanded and western bumblebee—have dropped drastically over the past decade. A fourth species, Franklin’s bumblebee (restricted to coastal Oregon and Northern California), has only been seen once in the past several years.

Exacerbating many of these threats is a single issue: Climate Change.  And climate disruption is having other impacts on pollinators that in turn in time are likely to change overall ecology


Tancredo Says Coup Attempt Was Supported by Many Republican Legislators

(Everybody, under the bus! — promoted by Colorado Pols)

BusCrashOn KNUS  radio show this morning, Tom Tancredo said he, along with Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and Pueblo Country GOP Chair Becky Mizel, were “selected” by fellow Republicans to demand the resignation of GOP Chair Steve House.

Though Coffman called the meeting, they acted at the “behest of a lot of people,” he told KNUS 710-AM’s Peter Boyles, adding that they were supported by “state legislators who were supportive of [House] at one time, who are now not.”

Tancredo told KNUS’ Dan Caplis (See transcript below.)

Tancredo: We were strong supporters, and — which is the reason why we ended up being sort of, I don’t know, — selected, asked, whatever you want to say – to confront with him and meet with him, because we wanted – they wanted to — everybody wanted to make sure he understood the seriousness of the issue. And so, I did, but certainly not because I have just a desire to step back into this kind of ugly stuff. I don’t.

Tancredo told KNUS’ Peter Boyles the same thing, in more detail (See transcript below):

Tancredo: I can tell you this:  that the reason that we met with Steve House was to express concerns of a lot of people.  It was not something that I, Cynthia Coffman, and Becky Mizel chose unilaterally to do.  We were asked to do that because we represented the people who were the most supportive of Steve when he ran.  And we certainly were

As you can read below, Tancredo did not specify who selected the group to confront house, nor did he say what the serious issue(s) was, leaving a mystery that will likely be revealed, probably in multiple versions, in the days ahead.