Meanwhile, in Pueblo: Bob Beauprez is Kind of a Dick

UPDATE: Colorado Democrats are circulating this video of the exchange:

FOX 31's Eli Stokols reports:

Hickenlooper’s ire rose throughout his response as he came around to the implied subtext of Beauprez’s comments — the murder last March of Clements, who’d been working to reform the department by limiting the use of solitary confinement, by a paroled inmate, Evan Ebel, who was released just days earlier from solitary confinement.

“We talk a lot about who represents the Washington way and who represents the Colorado way, but to take a question like what we’re discussing, a serious issue about women’s rights to make their own health care decisions and turn that into a discussion about prison reform, which I’m happy to talk about — let’s have that discussion, I’m eager to do that…

“Congressman Beauprez, if you want to talk to me about widows, talk to me — my mother was a widow twice,” Hickenlooper continued. “I know what it’s like to be in a family that’s gone through that.

“I have spent a lot of time with Lisa Clements and her children; they got married in the governor’s mansion. They understand what they were doing. Tom Clements was part of that reform and for you to make his murder part of a political…gambit…I think is reprehensible.”

—–

What’s the difference between these two characters? The horse wouldn’t try to politicize a senseless murder for political gain.

Last night much of the Denver Metro area was focused on the circus that has become the Jefferson County School Board, so you can be forgiven for missing the details on a Gubernatorial debate held in Pueblo. Had you not been distracted by other issues, you might have heard Republican Bob Beauprez putting on a performance that pretty well demonstrated why he isn't likely to be elected Governor.

As Mike Littwin writes for the Colorado Independent, Beauprez was very angry and quite a bit unpleasant on stage, which appeared to be an intentional effort at getting under Gov. John Hickenlooper's skin. Whatever the rationale, this was a bad move for Beauprez — not just strategically, but as a human being:

The debate question was on personhood and women’s reproductive rights. That had caused a bad moment for Beauprez in the last debate when he called IUDs an abortifacient, causing some real outrage among many women.

And so, in the middle of talking about personhood, Beauprez suddenly changed the topic, asking Hickenlooper about “women who are widows who have orphans because of parolees you have let out of state corrections.”

The crowd here for Hickenlooper-Beauprez III responded mostly with loud booing. But Beauprez clearly didn’t get the signal. He went on, talking about the real issue of prisoners moving from solitary confinement to release, but somehow thinking this was the way to get the woman’s vote.

“If women have an issue,” Beauprez said, “I think that issue is trust, trusting that government to somehow be protecting their public safety.”

It got worse. [Pols emphasis]

When the moderator said it was time to move on, Beauprez said, “No, not just yet.” And then he went at Hickenlooper on the issue again, demanding that Hickenlooper answer his question. Hickenlooper came back hard, and that was basically the debate. Everything else that happened was lost in that exchange.

Tom Clements

Former Department of Corrections Chief Tom Clements would have celebrated his 60th birthday on Thursday.

Sadly, this is not the first time that Beauprez has tried blaming Hickenlooper for the tragic murder of Tom Clements. Beauprez essentially blamed Hickenlooper for Clements' death while speaking to a crowd of Republican supporters in early May, as documented by Ernest Luning for the Colorado Statesman. Two weeks later, during a Republican gubernatorial debate at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Beauprez did it again. Here's what we wrote during a "Live Blog" of a debate held on May 20th at Colorado Christian University: 

7:36

Beauprez blames Hickenlooper for releasing Evan Ebel, the man who killed Department of Corrections Chief Tom Clements. That's a pretty awful thing to say. Lots of murmuring in the crowd.

There are moments in life that transcend partisan politics, and the murder of Clements was certainly one of those moments. It is absolutely despicable for Beauprez to even insinuate that John Hickenlooper is somehow responsible for the murder of Tom Clements. But to make that suggestion repeatedly?

Whatever happens in November, this is an absolutely shameful act in Colorado political history.

We'd ask this of Bob Beauprez: Would you vote for the man you see in the mirror?

Reminder, Aurora: Mike Coffman Loves Guns

The National Rifle Association's Political Victory Fund sent a round of mailers last week to households across the state, touting that group's endorsement of the three top Republican candidates in Colorado this year. Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez and Senate candidate Cory Gardner both get a nod:

gardnernra beaupreznra

The content of this mailer seems to be aimed at the (there's no nice way to put this) less rational segment of the gun owning public. That's the only demographic we are aware of where such preposterous notions as the fictional "United Nations Gun Ban Treaty" are taken seriously. Also for good measure, NRA members are reassured that these Republican candidates will oppose "any bans on guns and ammunition," and "requiring government approval for gun sales between lifelong friends and family members"–wonderfully deceptive descriptions of Colorado's new magazine limit and universal background check laws respectively. All arguments we've heard before, with varying degrees of wild inaccuracy, in the long debate over gun safety in Colorado the past two years.

Where the NRA's efforts on behalf of local Republicans gets dicey is this mailer in support of Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora).

coffmannra

Rep. Mike Coffman, as we all know in Colorado and NRA staff should be aware, represents most of Aurora–including the Century Theater that was the site of the 2012 mass shooting now eponymous with the city's name. In addition to that tragedy, the city has seen a great deal of gun violence over the years. In 2005, a witness to a murder named Javad Marshall-Fields was himself gunned down in Aurora to prevent his testifying. That killing resulted in convictions of two of the three men on death row in Colorado today, as well as catapulting Javad's mother Rhonda Fields into public office on a mission to reduce gun violence.

Bottom line? The NRA is free to shovel their "United Nations Gun Ban" nonsense all they like. But it might not have the desired effect in Aurora.

Pueblo Chieftain Smears “Bo” Ortiz for Political Revenge

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Poor Bo. He just can't catch a break from the Pueblo Chieftain.  To inform the public,  Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz voluntarily advised the Pueblo Chieftain about  faulty driver's licenses distributed by  a Colorado Revenue Department vendor, MorphoTrust. The state IDs and licenses were supposed to have a black band across the top, identifying those ineligible to vote, but 524 of these IDs were sent out without the flag. 

The Chieftain chose  to run the ID story on page one, next to a photo of Ortiz, with the banner headline, "Faulty ID Cards Issued", on September 16, 2014. . The teaser subheading on the online edition read, "No concern for voter fraud." Who issued the faulty IDs? Who is unconcerned about voter fraud?  Judging by his photo under the headline, a reasonable reader would infer: Gilbert "Bo" Ortiz.

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Dems Not “Shying Away From Guns” In SD-19

A new Democratic mailer hitting mailboxes in Colorado Senate District 19, where Rocky Mountain Gun Owners-endorsed arch-conservative Laura Waters Woods is facing off against Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, is noteworthy for its subject matter. Voters are getting lots of material from Republicans about the issue discussed in this mailer this election season. Here's one back at them in one of the state's most important legislative races:

woodsgunsmailer

Inside, the mailer calls out Waters Woods–not just for her opposition to the universal background checks on gun sales that are now law in Colorado, but her RMGO litmus-test opposition to all background checks for gun purchases. Anywhere.

woodsmailerinsert

One of the major criticisms of Democrats in the wake of last year's fierce debate over gun safety legislation passed by the Colorado General Assembly has been the perception that Democrats were unwilling to defend the bills they had passed. There is some validity to this criticism–not any unwillingness of individual elected Democrats like Sen. John Morse to go to the mat for these bills, which they were. Morse in particular, who was recalled by a very small margin after fighting valiantly to keep his seat, was and remains one of the most articulate and persuasive spokespeople for Democrats on gun safety. The problem was that political consultants early on had determined that the risk/benefit to "engaging the gun issue" wasn't worth it.

As those consultants discovered, pretending there's no 800-pound gorilla in the room is not a good strategy.

And the fact is, especially on closing the background check loophole, there was never a good reason to shy away from the issue. Polling on universal background checks is overwhelmingly in favor–above the 80th percentile in most surveys. Worse, the failure to respond to the avalanche of Republican misinformation about the gun bills has allowed it to gain a foothold in the public consciousness: to the point where, even as voters say they want universal background checks in overwhelming numbers, a majority say they "oppose gun control."

How can that cognitive dissonance be undone? The message in this mailer is a start.

Pueblo Chieftain Defends Tom Ready, Shoots Messenger

UPDATE: The calls for Republicans who attended Tom Ready's fundraiser last month to disown him continue:

A Colorado independent nonprofit group whose mission is to hold Republican nominee for Governor Bob Beauprez accountable called on Beauprez to renounce his appearance with a Sandy Hook denier who questioned whether the event really took place.

"We call on Beauprez to immediately renounce his association and support for appearing with a radical extremist who questioned whether the Sandy Hook massacre occurred," stated Michael Huttner, spokesman for Making Colorado Great.

—–

Pueblo Commissioner candidate Tom Ready (R).

Pueblo Commissioner candidate Tom Ready (R).

We've had our complaints over the years with the quality of news reporting at the Pueblo Chieftain, which has at times been unforgivably bad. With that said, the Chieftain has done a decent job recently covering the national scandal that has hit the Pueblo County commissioner race, after remarks in a debate by Republican candidate Tom Ready questioning whether the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut in December of 2012 "really happened."

But that's the newsroom. Chieftain managing editor Steve Henson, unbelievably, is standing by Ready–even going as far as blaming Ready's Democratic opponent for bringing the Sandy Hook shootings up:

The exchange between Democratic County Commissioner Sal Pace and Republican Tom Ready regarding the shootings at Sandy Hook was, well, it was ugly.

Before the debate, Pace approached Ready and said he planned to be positive and Ready agreed to do the same. I know that to be true because I was standing right there, behind the curtains at Pueblo Memorial Hall with the two men.

Then, really out of nowhere during the debate, Pace pounced on Ready and attacked Ready’s Facebook page on which there is or was information disputing whether Sandy Hook really happened. Caught off guard, Ready said there were some questions about Sandy Hook and the audience went bananas.

The next day, Ready appeared at The Chieftain for a previously scheduled interview on a different topic and he explained that he knows the children died at Sandy Hook in a terrible massacre, but that he often puts controversial topics on his Facebook page as conversation pieces. He doesn’t necessarily believe in or endorse any of them, he said.

But, he conceded, Pace’s ambush — and make no mistake; it was an ambush — had been successful in hurting him. How successful? We’ll know in November.

Henson's blaming of Democrat Sal Pace for…either Tom Ready's Facebook post, or Ready's appalling answer when questioned at the debate, we're not sure which one Henson means–is of course totally ridiculous. Henson claims that Ready was "caught off guard," as if this was some kind of boxing match instead of a debate about issues. Henson doesn't quote Ready's verbatim answer to Pace's question, which again was, "there is still question about whether it really happened, Sal." What Henson doesn't want to admit is obvious: the audience "went bananas" not because Ready had merely stated there were "some questions about Sandy Hook." The audience became upset when Ready cast doubt on whether the Sandy Hook shootings "really happened."

With that in mind, we couldn't care less if Ready felt "ambushed." Ready's excuse that he "doesn't necessarily believe" what he posts on Facebook evaporated the moment he said himself in this debate that "there is still question about whether it really happened." This is about what Tom Ready publicly said, nothing else–and Henson's attempt to cover for him is so feeble it's really quite laughable.

Or would be, if it wasn't coming from the managing editor of a major newspaper.

Sister of Sandy Hook Victim Demands Accountability From Gardner, Beauprez

SUNDAY UPDATE #2: The Denver Post's story on Tom Ready's comments was corrected late this morning, though their 180-degree misquote of what he said is unfortunately what their print subscribers are reading today:

*Editor's note: The article has been edited to correct the statement "There is still question about whether it really happened, Sal." The previous edit stated 'no question.' Lynn Bartels will follow up with a print correction in a future edition.

Not the fourth estate's finest hour, but we're glad to see the correction. Now if the Post can make sure as many people see the correction as saw the misquote to begin with…

Kidding, we know. It just kind of sucks like that.

—–

SUNDAY UPDATE: As a reader notes in comments, in addition to the Denver Post story published Saturday's failure to mention Republican Pueblo commissioner candidate Tom Ready's recent fundraiser attended by Senate candidate Cory Gardner and gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez (see below), it appears to have severely misquoted Ready's response to questions about whether the Sandy Hook shooting was a "hoax." The Post story quotes Ready responding in last week's debate, emphasis ours:

"There is no question about whether it really happened, Sal," said Ready, when questioned about the Newtown post.

When in fact, as video of the exchange plainly demonstrates, Ready said:

"There is still question about whether it really happened, Sal."

Again, here is the video. The statement in question comes just past the one minute mark:

Obviously, a correction is needed. And the 180-degree difference between the misquoted version and the accurate one is…notable.

—–

prayfornewtown

​Yesterday, we talked about the growing national scandal over the suggestion by Republican Pueblo county commissioner candidate Tom Ready in a debate this week that the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut in December of 2012 may have been faked. One Colorado resident we know of close to that tragic event is Jane Dougherty, whose sister Mary Sherlach was the school psychologist at Sandy Hook Elementary. We speculated yesterday morning that she might not have much nice to say about Ready's theorizing.

We were not disappointed:

My name is Jane Dougherty and I'm from Littleton, CO. My sister Mary Sherlach was the school psychologist killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.  It is appalling that Representative Cory Gardner and Bob Beauprez attended an event at the home of Tom Ready, someone who believes that the tragedy in Newtown was a hoax. This is an insult to me, my family and to the many Coloradans whose lives have been touched by senseless gun violence. These two candidates want to represent the state of Colorado, yet they are willing to take money from an extremist, aligning themselves with someone who has dismissed the lives of six courageous adults and twenty little children. It is shameful and repulsive. I am calling on both of them to immediately disavow this conspiracy theorist and apologize to the Sandy Hook families and the people of Colorado.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut similarly finds this whole business quite detestable:

With the connection of Ready's comments in a relatively obscure county commissioner debate in Pueblo to high-profile campaigns for the U.S. Senate and governor of Colorado, the story has taken on national significance. Concern that Ready could do harm to Republican campaigns well above his level is evident to us in a Denver Post story up now that fails to mention Gardner and Beauprez's attendance at a GOP fundraiser at Ready's home in late August at all. At this point, with the story already spreading on much bigger media outlets than the Post, that's probably not going to contain the damage.

And on a pretty basic moral level, we think Jane Dougherty should not be ignored.

You Shall Know Them By The Company They Keep

UPDATE #2: In today's Pueblo Chieftain, Tom Ready responds…badly.

“I was definitely ambushed, no doubt about it,” Ready said, as The Huffington Post, The Daily Koss and other Internet news services ripped him for his comments…

“I know those kids were killed,” Ready said of Sandy Hook. “But there are some facts that have not been proven. That’s all I was alluding to, period. It’s terrible.”

…Asked whether the comments hurt his chances to gain a seat for Republicans that just one candidate, Jim Brewer, has won in recent years, Ready said, “Well yeah. I had some lady come up to me and say ‘That was the worst thing I heard in my life.’ But it doesn’t kill my campaign.”

Sal Pace isn't sorry:

Pace responded: “Tom Ready set himself up plain and simple. He posted an absolutely outrageous conspiracy theory on Facebook, I called him on it, and he not only didn’t deny it, but he doubled down on it. That’s absolutely shameful, and I’m glad this story is getting the attention it deserves.

“Real kids, the same ages as my kids, died.” [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE: It didn't take long for a photo of Tom Ready and Bob Beauprez to surface.

—–

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

Rep. Cory Gardner (R).

​​As Huffington Post's Samantha Lachman reports, the unpleasant story of Republican Pueblo County Commissioner candidate Tom Ready, whose incendiary conspiracy theorist views on the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting were challenged by Democratic incumbent Sal Pace this week, has now ensnared Republican candidates at the top of Colorado's ballot:

Given that Colorado has had its fair share of mass shootings, the fact that two high-profile Republicans there attended an event with a candidate for local office who has expressed doubts about whether the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting really happened might strike some voters as insensitive. [Pols emphasis]

Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who is running to unseat Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), and former Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-Colo.), who is challenging Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), attended an Aug. 24 Republican Party steak fry at the home of Dr. Tom Ready, a candidate for Pueblo County Commissioner. Photos of the event were shared on Facebook.

Pueblo Commissioner candidate Tom Ready (R).

Pueblo Commissioner candidate Tom Ready (R).

To recap, here is what Tom Ready said at this week's debate in Pueblo:

In a Sept. 10 debate, Ready's Democratic opponent asked him why he had shared an article on Facebook claiming that the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 26 people was actually a hoax arranged by the federal government to advance gun control policies.

"There is some question whether it really happened," Ready responded.

As the crowd booed, Ready explained his theory.

"Some people in the videos, thank you very much, if you recall, there was a picture of a man walking in whose daughter had died. He was smiling and joking. When he walked into the room he turned and all of a sudden had tears in his eyes. Why? I question that."

“I don’t think [the Sandy Hook shootings have] been proven," he added. "And what’s wrong with open discussion?” [Pols emphasis]

Needless to say, this photo is now a significant liability for U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner:

We haven't seen an equivalent picture of Tom Ready with GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob Beauprez, but to be honest, that would be less shocking given Beauprez's lengthy history of similarly wacky on-record statements. It's important to recognize that the Sandy Hook conspiracy theory relies on larger suppositions by gun rights extremists, who believe that the government is working nefariously to deprive them of their Second Amendment rights.

Indeed, there are family members of victims of the Sandy Hook shootings who joined the debate over gun safety legislation at the Colorado legislature last year. One who was prominent during that debate was Jane Dougherty of Littleton, whose sister died at Sandy Hook Elementary. We haven't seen any statement from Dougherty about Tom Ready as of this writing, but we think we know what she would say. And it wouldn't be very nice.

Bottom line: Sandy Hook denialism is just another flavor of the same far-right fringe that has had a disturbing degree of influence in Republican politics in Colorado in recent years. What may be most troubling about Tom Ready's flirtation with this madness is that it is not terribly uncommon. We submit to our readers that such extreme viewpoints were far more common among the organizers of last year's recall elections, which Ready of course supported, than among the general population. Don't get us wrong: we're pretty certain that once Gardner and Beauprez are asked about this, assuming our genteel local media works up the nerve to ask, they will distance themselves from Ready, and any suggestion that the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings were somehow faked to precipitate gun control.

But the damage is done. The connection is in the record. The photo cannot be untaken.

Pueblo Commissioner Candidate Believes Sandy Hook was a Hoax

Pols reader and diarist mamajama55 wrote earlier about debates for Pueblo County Commissioner last night that produced a plethora of interesting statements from various candidates.

But one moment in the debate was so completely ridiculous that we thought it deserved its own post. Republican Tom Ready, who is challenging incumbent Commissioner Sal Pace in Pueblo County, is apparently a believer in the absurd "Sandy Hook Shootings are a Hoax" conspiracy theory. If you are unfamiliar with this particular conspiracy theory, it revolves around the idea that the shooting of 20 students and 6 staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut was a hoax perpetrated by shadowy government figures in order to promote gun control policies. As the "theory" goes, hundreds of people in Newtown, CT were actually actors pretending to have children in school at Sandy Hook, and the reported attack in December 2012 never actually happened…or something like that.

As you can see in the video clip after the jump, Tom Ready is out of his damn mind:

There's some question about whether it really happened, Sal. If you recall, there were two men, walking in, (….) he was smiling and joking. When he walked over, he turned, and all of a sudden, he had tears in his eyes. Why? I question it. ……whether it's all true or not, it's open for discussion. Nothing wrong with discussion.

Um, yes, there is plenty wrong with discussing something with the intent of downplaying a horrible event in American history that has deeply affected the lives of so many people. We think Tom Ready is a complete fucking asshole — hey, nothing wrong with discussion, right?

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Personhood ties run deep in Jeffco GOP campaigns

(Dance with the ones that bring ya – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Laura Waters Woods

Laura Waters Woods

I wrote last week about how senatorial candidate Cory Gardner’s support for Colorado's personhood abortion ban was part of his formula for winning the 2010 Republican caucus process, which was a big step to his being elected to Congress.

If you look at the State Senate races in Jeffco today, you see that the influence of key personhood backers persists, meaning that Gardner would likely face the same pressure to embrace personhood positions today as he did then. Gardner, of course, did not run in Jeffoco, but similar dynamics play out statewide.

The latest campaign finance reports reveal that Jeffco Republican candidates Tim Neville (SD-16), Laura Woods (SD-19), and Tony Sanchez (SD-22) all have notorious GOP strategic consultant Jon Hotaling on the payroll via his company, "Liberty Service Corporation.” Liberty Service Corporation was Sanchez's largest expenditure ($1,750) during the latest campaign-finance-reporting period and the second largest for Woods ($1,000) and Neville ($1,000).

Hotaling’s firm has worked over the years for Rep. Janak Joshi, gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo, and other personhood supporters, most notably for Colorado For Equal Rights, which ran the pro-personhood campaign, fronted by Kristi Burton, in 2008, according to campaign-finance reports. In 2008, Hotaling collected about $12,000 from Colorado For Equal Rights.

Tony Sanchez.

Tony Sanchez.

​So a major consultant for Personhood is deeply integrated into the campaigns of the three Republican senate candidates in Jeffco. Neville, Sanchez, and Woods all support personhood, as defined by Colorado Right to Life, based on their responses to its candidate survey this year.

Using what Republicans themselves called unethical tactics, Woods and Sanchez hammered their Republican primary opponents on the abortion issue during their primary campaigns against Lang Sais and Mario Nicolais.

In one flyer produced by "Colorado for Family Values," Nicolais was pictured next to Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia doctor convicted of murdering babies. The caption read: “Kermit Gosnell and his ‘House of Horrors’ abortion mill operated in secrecy for 17 years before his murderous crimes became infamous. Ask Mario why he won’t publicly defend the unborn? Call Mario…”

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Truthers, Lies, and Clear Choices: Commissioner and Clerk Debates in Pueblo

UPDATE: The story of how Sal Pace outed Tom Ready as a conspiracy nut, who believes that the Sandy Hook school shootings never happened, has gone national, but you saw it here first. Here is a link to video I took of Pace and Ready's remarks, with apologies for the poor quality.

The professional-quality video will be aired by Comcast Channel 19 Community Access TV according to this schedule, starting September 22. If you were smart enough to have thought of recording it, you've got it. But you won't have the priceless audience reactions.

The Commissioner debate began at 6:00 pm.

Steve Henson of Chieftain, moderator, says that there will be no questions from the audience. Only those previously submitted by readers of the Chieftain or Action22 will be asked of the candidates.

No heckling. It is not a rule he enforces against the Ready and Head supporters, who boo, catcall, etc. , pretty much unchallenged, as you will hear and see from the video.

The County Commissioner debate, between incumbent Commisioner Sal Pace, and Republican challenger Tom Ready,  was a very wonky and respectful debate, discussing tax policy, land use, water regulations, jobs and economic development. Sal Pace gave himself some well-deserved props for progress on the Southwest Chief proposal, and a new arts initiative in Pueblo. Ready declined to go after Sal Pace about Pueblo's current County Commissioner email "scandal", for which one Commissioner was fired. This reticence on Ready's part surprised me – but Sal Pace had nothing to do with the emails, so perhaps that explains it.

It was all good – up until the point when Tom went off the rails. He started off by accusing Sal Pace of personally raising utility rates on Pueblo Customers. Sal Pace was a party to the unfortunate agreement that ensconced Black Hills Energy as the town's monopoly customer-gouger, but didn't actually personally throw the switch.  Then Tom went into why coal is cleaner than natural gas, and it kind of went south from there. Sal, appropriately, responded that if Tom wanted to get negative, how about those Facebook posts about how Newtown shootings were a hoax?

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Shocked at the Ray Rice elevator video? Don’t be.

I am not shocked at the NFL Ray Rice elevator video, which shows the Ravens running back punching his fiancee, then dragging her unconscious body out of the elevator.

I am not shocked at the NFL's ignoring the incident and its initial penalty for Rice: a two-game suspension.

I am not shocked at the sudden dramatic reversal in the NFL's treatment of domestic violence offenses – now, a domestic violence offense will be treated more severely than, say, pee tainted with marijuana. A six-game ban for a first offense, lifetime ban for a second.

I wish I could say I was shocked at Ray's then- fiance, Janae Rice, declining to press charges against Rice, and eventually marrying her abuser. I've been there, and I understand.  The average victim tries to leave her abuser seven times before she succeeds, if she succeeds before she is killed or permanently injured.  I think it took me nine incidents before I left for the last time. And for all of the little kids trapped in violent homes, keep in mind that they can’t leave. They are children, who more than likely will perpetuate the cycle of violence as adults because everything they have seen in their lives teaches them that family punch-outs are just the way things work.

The NFL’s waffling merely reflects the way we as Americans deal with domestic violence – we don’t see, we hide, we look away, we blame the victim, we tell couples to “patch it up”, we  promulgate the legal fantasy that “both parties are equally to blame”.  And if there are billions of dollars on the line (1.43 billion is the average worth of an NFL franchise), then why should a woman or two getting beaten steer this financial juggernaut off course?

Sports is big business, and it is a violent business. That is sort of the point. Concussions, traumatic brain and other injury – broadcasters spend thousands of well-paid advertising minutes discussing these finer points of each game.

But what happened on that elevator,  is a crime. It should be treated like any other aggravated assault – indictment, day in court, jail time or other punishment.  Not just being sidelined for a game or six.

Football fans, I have a question for you: Are you willing to allow  more severe penalties for criminally violent football players, even if this means fewer big stars, less violent games, or (horrors) that your favorite team may not win, if the MVP is grounded for battery and assault? Ray Rice was fired from the Ravens team. Does this now fix the problem of violence perpetrated on and off the football field?

Because I think that’s the conflict at the bottom of this.  How addicted are you to football violence? How ambivalent are you about your favorite blood sport? You bought the T shirt – hell, you probably bought all  your kids jerseys, too. Not to mention the season tickets, the team logo towels and mugs and jackets and souvenirs.  Fans make football what it is.

The NFL’s sudden decision to severely penalize players with domestic assaults is, in my opinion, a transparent attempt to woo back their female fan base, to get them to give the fan-franchise relationship a go one more time, to promise that things will get better, that the violence won't happen again, but let's just  keep the dollars flowing.  Will it work?

Real funny, guys: Gamers call in SWAT team via phony hostage call

Nothing could possibly go wrong with this:

Online gamer Jordan Mathewson  wasn't expecting to end his session on the floor with real guns trained on him.

Mathewson and the rest of his gaming collective apparently fell victim to a prank known as "swatting," where hoaxers force an armed police response by calling in a false report on rival gamers.

Mathewson was about two hours into a game of "Counter-Strike" at the collective's office in Littleton, Colorado, when he heard a commotion outside his door. A SWAT team was searching the place, and they were about to charge into his office. As seen in the video, he quickly picked up on what was happening.

"Uh oh, this isn't good," Mathewson said, pausing the game. "They're clearing rooms. What in the world? I think we're getting swatted."

Things got intense fast. The SWAT team stormed into his room, guns at the ready, shouting at him to get on the ground. When Mathewson did so, slowly, with the movements of someone who still didn't quite believe what was happening.

What if Jordan just happened to be a person of color?

"Don't you fucking move," another said.

The Littleton Police Department later told media it had received a call regarding a hostage situation in the building. "The caller claimed to have shot two co-workers, held others hostage, and threatened to shoot them. He stated that if the officers entered he would shoot them as well," the department's statement said, according to local outlet ABC 7News.

Let's see if these kids have to pay for the SWAT team expenses, a la Ferguson. Of face false report charges. My guess is they'll get a slap on the wrist.

Better than 6 live shots, two to the head.

Colorado Republicans Celebrate China’s Quickie Executions

Execution in China.

Execution in China.

​Debate over the death penalty in Colorado continues this election year, as Republican work to make Gov. John Hickenlooper's granting of a temporary reprieve to "Chuck E. Cheese Killer" Nathan Dunlap a campaign issue. A recent interview leaked by a conservative news outlet, as one example, quotes Hickenlooper as considering a full commutation of Dunlap's sentence–along with the governor's growing belief that the death penalty in Colorado (as elsewhere) is no longer a just punishment.

Republicans, aware that this is a divisive issue and that polling shows risk for Hickenlooper's new position, have pounced on the death penalty as a way to divorce independent voters from an otherwise likable candidate. Depending on how you spin it, Hickenlooper's temporary reprieve to Dunlap while he deliberates the efficacy and morality of capital punishment can be portrayed as thoughtful statesmanship or bumbling indecision. Naturally in an election year, Republican opponents are 100% of the opinion that it's the latter.

Yesterday, the Republican news site Complete Colorado reprinted an op-ed from former GOP. Gov. Bill Owens, written in 1993 not long after the Chuck E. Cheese murders. GOP social media surrogates were quick to spread it around:

But when we actually started reading Owens' 1993 Rocky Mountain News guest column, which we had never heard of before yesterday, the "shivers down our spine" were likely for reasons other than GOP operative Kelly Maher's.

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GOP’s Breakdown In Jeffco Increasingly Evident

Beneath the election season bravado.

Beneath the election season bravado.

Vic Vela of Colorado Community Media has an excellent summary of the state of play in Jefferson County legislative races, where Republicans hungry for a win in 2014 have been dealt a major setback via bungled candidate recruitment and insurgent hard-right primary wins. It's a story we've been talking about here for some months now, but as the primary winners for the Republican Party start campaigning for the general election, the problems facing Jefferson County Republicans are increasingly undeniable to even the fairest-minded of journalists:

A Senate seat win in Jeffco in November could flip party control in that chamber. String together a couple of victories in Jeffco House races and things get interesting there.

So why then, with so much on the line, have Republican candidates in Jefferson County been making news of late for all the wrong reasons?

Since June, three Jeffco Republican candidates seeking House and Senate seats have been accused of violating campaign finance disclosure laws — though the allegations at this point are unproven.

Meanwhile, another candidate in a House race has been tangled in a court battle over whether she's even going to be allowed on the November ballot — and that's after the previous Republican hopeful in that district withdrew his candidacy after his ties to white supremacism became known.

And political analysts have wondered since June whether Jefferson County primary voters were wise to pick candidates who might be too conservative to win Senate races in districts that are evenly split in party registration numbers.

Vela touches on a number of Jefferson County races where extremist candidates, unqualified candidates, and late replacement candidates trying to salvage the situation have hobbled Republicans out of the gate. There's HD-29, where Republican Robert Ramirez pulled out of the race at the last minute to be replaced by hard-right movie theater owner Susan Kochevar. In HD-23, where Republicans are still reeling from white supremacist Nate Marshall's aborted candidacy. And of course Republican Senate nominees Laura Waters Woods and Tony Sanchez, both distantly to the right of the mainstream in their swing districts after Rocky Mountain Gun Owners' support helped them defeat more electable contenders.

Right now, the bravado from Colorado Republicans as election season approaches is perhaps at the highest level we've seen at any point since Democrats took control of the state legislature in Colorado almost ten years ago. At the same time, even GOP stalwarts like former GOP chairman Dick Wadhams have flatly stated that candidates like Woods and Sanchez cannot win in competitive Jefferson County. The victory of RMGO's favored hard-right favorites could well result in a terrible disappointment for Republicans on Election Night as winnable races slip from their grasp. And the real twist? The "momentum" claimed by Republicans in state legislative races today is in large part due to gun rights hysteria whipped up by RMGO!

Either way, folks, the GOP is dancing with the ones that brung 'em. So there's not much to pity.

Chaos in Ferguson, MO after Police Shooting

UPDATE 8/16: Governor Nixon called for martial law, a midnight – 5 am curfew.  This was in response to increased looting and unrest. The Ferguson PD is still stalling on providing Officer Darren Wilson's photo or the shooting incident report. Citizens are frustrated. Media is confined by law to a "free speech zone". Some journos are still defying the restriction, using smartphones instead of professional cameras.  At midnight after curfew, about 75 protesters are still defying curfew and a heavy rain. New Black Panthers helped to clear the streets before curfew. At least police are keeping Captain Johnson's promise – no tear gas, no over-militarized response.

UPDATE 8/15: Captain Ron Johnson of the MO Highway Patrol did a great job in resetting the tone and relieving the fears of the community. He demilitarized the operation, and people were able to continue to peacefully protest.  Today, the Ferguson PD released the name of the shooter: Officer Darren Wilson. At the same time, instead of the actual shooting incident report, the PD released a store surveillance video which purports to show the victim, Mike Brown, robbing the store. Community reacted to this as an attempt to smear the victim without a trial. "I am Mike Brown" tribute song by rapper Gage is going viral.

 

UPDATE: Governor Nixon confirms that he will take peacekeeping duties out of the hands of the St. Louis County police force. Peace will be kept by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Federal Department of Justice will investigate the shooting.

 

Is this America?

It looked like a scene that should be shown in old black and white photos from the history books about the Civil Rights movement – lines of African-American citizens, crying, "Hands Up! Don't Shoot!" (the above photo is from the Twitter feed of  Markia Holt. https://twitter.com/MarkiaHolt )

Facing them, grim lines of camo-clad and armored white police, throwing tear gas and shooting rubber bullets from tanks and armored vehicles.  Nobody talking. Nobody negotiating. Chanting: "What do we want? Justice!" Everyone else, grim, silent, running, hiding, ducking behind shrubbery. One man on a bullhorn appears to me to be a provocateur, cursing at the police. (about 5:40 into the KARG video)

Photo, below, of police forces confronting protesters. From the twitter feed of Ryan J Reilly, a Huffington Post reporter who was arrested yesterday: He tweeted: "Overkill in . Officer won't answer my question about why this is needed. " Ferguson police chief Tom Jackson said in an ABC interview that his officers were responding to violence and threats from protesters.

The scenes from Ferguson, Missouri, last night were brutal. Clouds of tear gas billowing over the streets. Reporters on live feed choking and unable to talk, continuing to cover and live-tweet the story. Brave journalists who refused police orders to "shut down your cameras", were tweeting from McDonald's restaurants  that police were rounding protesters up and forcing them into vans, while the protesters screamed and yelled for medical help. Then the journalists started getting arrested.

Flash-bang and stun grenades were thrown at unarmed protesters. You can see this about 11 minutes into the video. Almost all the police are white – what you can see of them behind the camo and the flak vests, helmets, shields.- and almost all of the protesters are black. The population of  Ferguson, a working-class  suburb of St. Louis, is 67% African-American, and complaints of police brutality and discrimination are common.  The Ferguson County Police Chief, Jon Belmar, is choosing to escalate, or doesn't know how to de-escalate, the situation. Meanwhile, according to Belmar, Anonymous hackers are threatening to shut down the police internet. Schools are closed until Monday. People from Gaza are tweeting the residents of Ferguson about how to deal with being tear gassed. 

How did it come to this?  Like the Trayvon Martin shooting, like way too many others, it started with the shooting of a young, unarmed black man.  He was shot by a policeman, and died on the street, where his body lay for hours. The police department closed ranks around its brother, denying the name of the shooter to media and to citizens. The ACLU has filed suit to get it. For five days now, peaceful protests of citizens demanding justice have been met with inaction and stonewalling from the Ferguson police department.

This is the account of witnesses:

On August 9, a young black man, Mike Brown, was walking down the middle of a quiet street, on his way to visit his grandmother, accompanied by his friend. A police car, driven by a cop who has yet to be identified, ordered the young men to move to the sidewalk. They were reluctant to comply, as they were almost at their destination. The cop didn't wait for them to comply. He drove up next to them and tried to open his door. When the door was blocked by one of the young men, the cop reached out, grabbed the kid by the throat, and almost immediately shot him. The child ran, making it 30 feet before he collapsed, face down, hands up, shot again six more times.

This is the police version:

The police gave the young men a lawful order to get out of the street, and they disobeyed. The larger of the two young men assaulted the officer, and tried to take his gun. So the cop shot him. An investigation is proceeding. Citizen witnesses, including the victim's friend, who escaped, have NOT been interviewed by the police to date.

A police chief commentator on Rachel Maddow's show said that "Everyone needs to ratchet it back down." He  said that this could probably have been avoided if the police had just given information, like the name of the police officer who shot Mike Brown, and followed procedure. Instead, decisions to stonewall have escalated into the situation you see now.

For five days, peaceful crowds have rallied and marched during the day, calling for justice. The young man's parents have called for calm and nonviolence.  There has been some looting and crime at night, from isolated individuals, but it was not widespread. The police response to this was way overblown. At least 70, per Huffpost  reporting, have come in to Ferguson, equipped with tanks, armored vehicles with gun turrets, body armor.. Police have pointed rifles directly into the crowds. Tear gas and rubber bullets appear to be how police are communicating and negotiating. Ferguson's police chief, Mr.  Tom Jackson, speaking on the Fox News Network. blamed "outside agitators" for the unrest. He has not called for a curfew.

I think the President needs to send in the National Guard to keep the peace. Otherwise, we'll see more discriminatory violence from poorly-trained police and militias who will flock to the scene.

Unfortunately,1/4  (27 out of 115) of the Missouri Sheriffs are Constitutional Sheriffs, sworn to resist Federal orders that they think are unconstitutional.  This includes Sheriff Oberkorm, President of the Missouri Sheriffs Association.  So that could be another ugly confrontation – between local and Federal authorities here. Interestingly, the Patriot groups, such as the Oathkeepers, who normally have been very vocal about police militarization and the coming confrontations to "take back America", have been silent on what is happening in Ferguson to citizens of color.

Instead of black and white, it is a scene in night vision green and black. And yes, to our shame, it is America.

 

Twitter feeds of reporters:

The best, most up-to-date reporting has been coming from social media and citizen journalists. Right wing commentators may decry liberal bias, but they have been, and continue to be, eerily silent on real-world government oppression of civilians in Ferguson.

#fergusonlivestream

http://new.livestream.com/accounts/9035483/events/3271930

@WesleyLowery @trymainelee @elonjames @mattdpearce @Yamiche @rembert @jbouie @ryanjreilly

http://www.vox.com/2014/8/11/5988925/mike-brown-killing-shooting-case-ferguson-police-riots-st-louis

http://thehairpin.com/2014/08/ferguson-on-day-five

http://www.livestream.com/globalrevolution

https://twitter.com/hashtag/ajam

UPDATE 9/15/14: We are now three weeks into the Grand Jury investigation of the Michael Brown shooting. It is completely closed to the public. Per Dana Milbank's reporting in the Washington Post, Prosecutor McCulloch, as predicted, is looking not to charge Officer Wilson at all, and hoping to blame the lack of consequences  on the Grand Jury itself. McCullough has dumped the huge pile of conflicting evidence, including multiple new eyewitness reports onto the jury with no recommendations for charges of Officer Wilson.

New protests, more distrust between the police and the Ferguson community is being set up even as you read this. Poor choice, Prosecutor McCulloch.