Fort Morgan’s Cargill Plant Fires 150 Muslim Employees in Dispute over Religious Freedom

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

On December 23, 2015, Cargill Meat Solutions Plant in Fort Morgan fired 150 mostly Somali Muslim employees after forbidding Islamic prayers at work, saying, “If you want to pray, go home”. The employees are not eligible to be rehired for six months.

Screen capture of ABC news video

Cargill employees fired for praying at work. Attribution: Denver Channel, 12/30/15

The meat processors, some of whom had worked at the plant for 10 years, had been allowed, under long-standing policy, to take five minutes to pray during their own unpaid lunch and break times, in a “reflection room” provided by the plant. This policy, in place since 2009,  allowed its employees the freedom to pray at work, and allowed the company to produce meat products profitably and on time. Six hundred of the 2100 workers at Cargill’s Fort Morgan plant are Somali Muslims.

Then, suddenly, according to CAIR’s Hussein, Cargill cracked down and stopped allowing Muslim prayer at work. Members of other faiths, presumably, are still allowed to use the company “reflection room” to pray during break time.

(more…)

Local Vet Makes Colorado Look Good, Trump Look Very Bad

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.

There’s no nice way to say it: Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s hotly controversial call to bar the entry of all Muslims into the United States has a surprising–the better word may be disturbing–amount of support among American conservatives according to polls taken since terrorist mass shooting attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California. While polls of the general public show Americans reject Trump’s demagoguery as unconstitutional, it has given Trump new strength in GOP presidential primary polls after opponent Ted Cruz began narrowing the gap in recent weeks.

Trump’s enduring dominance in the Republican presidential primary has legitimized a segment of American conservative political opinion that, while we’ve always known it was out there, has truly significant implications for America’s reputation as a global moral leader in human rights and equality when brought into the light of day. Trump’s campaign has ripped the proverbial scab off the ugliest manifestations of not just the “Tea Party,” but decades of divisive politics American that has its roots in the Southern Strategy of the 1960s and the racist realignment to the GOP that strategy produced.

Needless to say, what’s happening could make for a very long blog post. And it is very bad for America’s moral authority.

But instead, ABC News reports this Christmas week on a lifelong Denver resident Iraq War veteran with a campaign in response to Trump that’s going viral:

Veterans and current service members are using social media to reassure Muslim Americans that they will fight for their rights as citizens.

On Facebook and Twitter, military service members and veterans have started using the hashtag #iwillprotectyou after one mother’s post went viral about her daughter’s fear of being kicked out of the country.

Melissa Chance Yassini posted about her daughter’s reaction to hearing proposals by Donald Trump to ban Muslims from entering the country.

“She had began collecting all her favorite things in a bag in case the army came to remove us from our homes,” Yassini wrote on Facebook about her daughter Sofia. “She checked the locks on the door 3-4 times. This is terrorism. No child in America deserves to feel that way.”

Iraq War veteran Kerri Peek.

Denver-area Iraq War veteran Kerri Peek.

Melissa Chance Yassini’s post about her daughter’s fear of being deported for being Muslim caught the attention of local veteran Kerri Peek:

Kerri Peek, an Army veteran saw the story on social media and was horrified.

“I was up all night, it bothered me,” Peek told ABC News. “I’m a mom, for mother to mother … I know you want to protect your children from everything.”

Peek said she was especially upset that Sofia was worried about soldiers coming to take her away.

“What’s a way [for her] to know that soldiers are not going to come to her door,” Peek told ABC News, who eventually sent her a picture of herself in her Army uniform.

Peek’s response to Yassini was picked up by the national social sharing site Upworthy on Friday, and from there is making its way into national media today. You can follow the hashtag #iwillprotectyou on Twitter and Facebook to see the trending nationwide response, which as of this writing has many more veterans and supporters than pro-Trump “trolls.”

From our vantage point watching over Colorado politics, and with Christmas coming later this week, we can’t think of a better response to Trump than this story–maybe even a validation of the principles that make America a great place, even as Trump besmirches them. Here’s a local Iraq War veteran doing a lot more to defend American values from the Donald Trumps of the world than some others we know in much higher places.

Latinos To Cruz, Rubio: No Habla Por Nosotros

Sen. Ted Cruz, with Tom Tancredo (L) and Rep. Steve King of Iowa (R).

Sen. Ted Cruz, with Tom Tancredo (L) and Rep. Steve King of Iowa (R).

The Washington Post’s Mary Jordan reports today on the liberal pushback underway against Republican “Latino outreach” efforts ahead of the 2016 elections. As the GOP and allied major funders like the Koch brothers pour millions of dollars into bettering their performance among America’s fastest-growing demographic bloc of voters, the Latino activists the community has grown up with have a simple message:

“It’s not comfortable for us to do this, to call out members of our own community who don’t reflect our community values, but we have no choice,” said Cristóbal Alex, president of the Democratic-backed Latino Victory Project.

At a Monday gathering in Nevada of Democratic Hispanic leaders, ahead of tonight’s GOP debate in Las Vegas, photos of Cruz and Rubio were plastered alongside Trump’s picture, as all three were criticized as anti-Latino. A press release noted, “While Trump continues to grab headlines with his hateful anti-Latino, anti-immigrant language, the positions and records of the two Latino presidential candidates in the race are equally dangerous for Nevada communities.”

Dolores Huerta, an influential labor leader and civil rights activist, called Cruz and Rubio “sellouts” and “traitors” at the gathering and said the Hispanic candidates “are turning their backs on the Latino community.”

The latest nationwide polls show GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump with a commanding lead over the rest of the GOP field. With that once again noted for the record, a considerable segment of the GOP party activist class sees Marco Rubio and (to a less rational extent) Ted Cruz as the most electable candidates in the pack. A large part of that perception rests on their Cuban-American heritage–a curious embrace of the “identity politics” Republicans generally claim to shun.

Here in Colorado, Rubio’s campaign in particular is organizing as much as is practical with a state party that has rendered its own Republican caucuses meaningless. The Koch-funded Libre Initiative has an office in lower Highlands in Denver, ready to chase the Latino vote in the general election for the GOP. On paper, it all sounds like a formidable strategy.

The problem, as community icon Dolores Huerta and a who’s-who of recognized names among Latino voters are here to tell you, is that the appeal of these candidates is–and there’s no nice way to say ths–literally skin-deep. Other than an ability to converse in the native language, Marco Rubio simply has nothing tangible to offer Latino voters on the issues that matter to their daily lives. Rubio has abandoned the central policy plank on which he could have won over Latino votes, and running rightward in this primary, he can’t articulate any real plan for improving the personal economics of Latino families. As for Cruz?

You see the picture of him with Tom Tancredo and Steve King, right?

There’s no question that as a large and growing bloc of at least theoretically swingable voters, Latinos are going to be aggressively courted by anyone who wants to win elections.

For Republicans, this is a necessity that’s perilously likely to backfire.

Coffman/Trump Faceplant Gets Even Worse

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Roll Call reports today–you think Democrats are being unfair to Rep. Mike Coffman by linking his past words and votes to controversial Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, do you?

Well folks, Coffman’s doing his best to make it stick like glue:

In Colorado’s 6th District, where Rep. Mike Coffman is facing a competitive re-election, his likely Democratic opponent, state Sen. Morgan Carroll, accused him Wednesday evening of sharing Trump’s “anti-Muslim affiliation” for having spoken at an Act for America conference, which Carroll called an “anti-Muslim advocacy organization.”

And Democrats seized on Coffman’s Tuesday statement reacting to Trump, saying it didn’t go far enough.

“I put out a statement yesterday that I represent all the constituents in my district, including Muslims, and I think my record speaks for itself,” Coffman told Roll Call outside House chambers on Wednesday afternoon.

His original statement did not mention Trump.

Pressed about whether he’d support Trump if he were the Republican nominee, Coffman said, “I’m not going to go there. Thanks.” [Pols emphasis] Several seconds later, about to board an elevator, Coffman added, “He’s not going to be the nominee.”

“I’m not going to go there?” Given the enormous damage that Trump is doing to the entire Republican brand as his headlong descent into straight-up hate speech and demagoguery rolls on, Coffman’s non-response to these questions is absolutely stunning. We’re inclined to agree with Coffman that Trump is unlikely to win the Republican nomination, though he is already positioning himself to run as an independent in that event. But if anything, that should make Coffman more willing to call out Trump, not less.

So what the hell is going on? Honestly, we’re not completely sure. It may be that Coffman is looking at polling numbers that say he cannot go against Trump publicly for fear of losing votes he must retain to keep his seat. It may be that Coffman authentically likes Trump, or something that he has said–though you’re not going to hear that publicly. Given Coffman’s silence on the matter, it may be that Coffman actually agrees with Trump.

Whatever the reasons, we have to think that Coffman failing after repeated chances now to denounce Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric is going to damage him significantly in swing CD-6. Just wait until voters in the district are reminded how Coffman can’t bring himself to do what so many other Republicans are not just willing, but desperate to do.

Unfortunately for Coffman, Trump is making himself the focus of every political discussion. And there’s no escape.

Neville Gleefully Stokes The Fear on Syrian Refugees

denvernextparis2

A fundraising email appeal from 2016 U.S. Senate candidate and Colorado Sen. Tim Neville yesterday pulls out all the proverbial stops, invoking the prospect of Syrian refugees coming to Colorado as an invitation to an attack on Mile High Stadium (see photo above)–now with an angry President Barack Obama Photoshopped in leading the ISIS terrorists on! Argumentum in terrorem is the order of the day:

Governor Hickenlooper refuses to back down from his plans to bring Barack Obama’s potentially dangerous Syrian “refugees” to Colorado.

An unsecured border and unvetted Syrian “refugees” threaten the safety and security of Colorado’s families…

I’m under fire for daring to stand up to Barack Obama and Governor Hickenlooper.

In fact, ProgressNow — one of the largest left-wing organizations in Colorado — called me the “most dangerous politician in America” because I represent the “no-compromise, take-no-prisoners wing of the Republican Party.”

But the real reason they’re attacking me is because I’ve taken on an entrenched Democrat in a purple district before — and won.

They know I’m the Republican with the best chance to DEFEAT Michael Bennet in November 2016.

They fear me the most.

That last part is a bit confusing, since we were under the impression it was the refugees–excuse us, “refugees”–we were supposed to be afraid of? However you may feel about this message qualitatively, and we know many readers will find it thoroughly contemptible, certainly it would be a mistake to underestimate it in the context of the Republican U.S. Senate primary Tim Neville is running in today.

By most estimates the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris has been very good for Republican presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump’s campaign. Marco Rubio actually said Sunday before sort-of-but-not-really backpedaling Monday that the Paris attacks were a “positive development” if they placed Americans in an appropriately fearful psychological condition. Last year on the campaign trail, now-Sen. Cory Gardner freely exploited xenophobic fears and ignorance from ISIS to Ebola.

So yes, love it or hate it, Tim Neville knows exactly what he’s doing.

Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff: Seal Off Colorado?

We’ve seen plenty of reactions from Colorado politicians to the Paris terrorist attacks and subsequent controversy over allowing Syrian refugees into the United States, but this (we hope) ill-thought-out Facebook stream of consciousness from GOP Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff of Pueblo stands apart from even the “usual” crazy talkers like Tom Tancredo and Sen. Laura Waters Woods:

 

navarroclosetheborder

So, uh, did Rep. Navarro-Ratzlaff misspeak here some way, or does she really think we need to “pause on letting anyone into Colorado?” When she says we need to “pause on letting anyone into Colorado,” does this mean refugees? Immigrants? Californians?

coloradowall

That’s the problem with sweeping statements in the era of “Tea Party” crazy talk. They might actually mean it.

Tipton promoting apparent misinformation that Paris attacker had “Syrian refugee passport”

(Rumor doesn’t have it – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

On Facebook Monday, Rep. Scott Tipton posted the apparent misinformation that “one of the bombers involved in the Paris attacks had a Syrian refugee passport.”

This is almost certainly wrong, apparently a so-called false flag, yet the statement remains on Tipton’s official Facebook page.

Newsweek reported: “Serbian officials told The Guardian that they think both the passport found in Paris and on the man they arrested are fake. A source investigating the case told the AFP that the passport belongs to a Syrian soldier who was killed earlier this year. Officials have not made any public statements on the passport confirming or denying its authenticity.”

Tipton on Facebook: The risks posed to our national security by admitting tens of thousands of refugees from a war-torn region that is currently the global hotbed for terrorist activity are very real. The U.S. should immediately stop accepting Syrian refugees…

While most of these people are innocent and victims themselves, all it takes is one ISIS terrorist posing as an asylum seeker to come to the United States and inflict harm…

Given that at least one of the bombers involved in the Paris attacks had a Syrian refugee passport, the threat is very real and the risk is high. [BigMedia emphasis]

Tipton’s post incited these ugly comments, which is another reason he should remove it ASAP.

Esther Scaman: Keep up the good work Scott! Keep all those bastards out of our country! I say pack n carry at all times! And for those opposing you I’ll thank you for them since they are like their president putting America in harms way and won’t accept the truth if it slapped them in the face!!!

Patricia R. Lang: Much like it was in Viet Nam, one can not tell the refugee from the terrorist bent on destroying our country and our way of life. It is sad but all Syrian refugees much be stopped from entering the United States of America

Tipton was on KVOR’s Richard Randall show Tuesday, talking about this topic, but he did not refer to the Syrian passport. Another guest on the show, Andy Pico, a GOP Colorado Springs City Councilman, spread the same apparent falsehood that the Paris attacker was a Syrian refugee. (Listen here.)

Pico, along with Tipton, should walk this comment back in some public venue–because it poisons reasonable debate about the refugees. And reasonableness regarding poor Syrian refugees is under severe attack.

A Colorado governor who fought bigotry–and won in the end

(Past is prologue – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Gov. Ralph Carr (R-CO).

Gov. Ralph Carr (R-CO).

During WWII, the U.S. government forced Japanese Americans  from their homes on the West Coast and moved them to interior states. Kansas Gov. Payne Ratner, reflected the opinions of many governors when she responded at the time with, “Japs are not wanted and not welcome in Kansas.”

With at least 22 Republican governors saying they’ll try to keep Syrian refugees out of their states, Denver University’s Seth Masket wrote a blog post yeserday reminding us of this and pointing out that Colorado Governor Ralph Carr “stood out” among his fellow governors at the time and declared that the forced relocation of the Japanese Americans under Executive Order 9066 was unconstitutional. He also welcomed them to Colorado.

Masket didn’t mention Hickenlooper, who has welcomed Syrian refugees, but the loose parallel between the two Colorado governors isn’t lost on anyone reading Masket’s post, titled “The governor who didn’t give in to fear … and paid a price for it.

Masket: “Obviously, the relocation of American citizens of Japanese ancestry is not the same as accepting refugees from another country,” writes Masket, who’s an Associate Professor of Political Science at DU. “But there are clear parallels, particularly in the political incentives governors are confronting. It’s not just that it’s easy to demagogue against foreign invaders; it’s that it’s sometimes politically risky not to. The governors refusing to take in Syrian refugees today may or may not know Ralph Carr’s name, but they have surely imagined his fate, and they don’t want the same for themselves.” [BigMedia emphasis]

Masket cites the Principled Politician, former 9News reporter Adam Schrager’s much-acclaimed biography of Carr. The book shows the respect Carr has now, in hindsight, even though his stance during WWII ended his political career.

(more…)

Stay Classy, Tom Tancredo: Blame “Diversity” For Paris Edition

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports today:

Tancredo, a Republican who has long fought for tougher immigration standards, said he was glad to “start a conversation” about the risks of allowing Syrian refugees into the United States.

“I’m referring to the fact that this tragedy (in Paris), this horror, is something you cannot contain to one country is you don’t do something meaningful about immigration — a subject I’ve been involved in for some time — these are the kinds of things that result when you don’t protect your citizens,” he told The Denver Post.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was not amused.

“That’s beyond comment,” he said, dropping his shoulders after seeing the meme during a stop at The Post. “Come on.” [Pols emphasis]

—–

As posted to former Congressman, gubernatorial candidate, and most recently “Coffmangate” co-conspirator Tom Tancredo’s Facebook page a short while ago:

tancparis_blur

For the record, this isn’t the original image. We’ve digitally obscured what appear to be a number of dead bodies and streaks of blood in the highly gruesome unedited photo Tancredo posted. The photo appears to be the interior of the Bataclan Theater in Paris, France after the terrorist attacks last Friday. The caption on the photo, “Celebrating Diversity One Massacre At A Time,” may or may not have been added by Tancredo personally, but clearly that’s the message he endorses.

We’re pretty sure the original photo violates Facebook’s terms of service, so we wouldn’t be surprised if it disappears at some point soon. But as much as he frequently embarrasses his erstwhile fellow Republicans, Tancredo has a considerable following on the anti-immigrant right–and his views are representative of enough of the conservative movement that he can’t simply be ignored.

And folks, sometimes that is a damned shameful fact.

Profiles In Courage: Hickenlooper Welcomes Syrian Refugees

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

As the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports:

So far more than a dozen governors, most of them Republicans, have said they want to close their state borders to refugees from Syria. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe both, Democrats, however, have said their states will continue accepting refugees.

Colorado Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton said in a statement today he wants to stop refugees from Syria from entering the United States.

President Barack Obama said the United States would continue to accept refugees and called efforts to screen those fleeing Syria based on their religion “shameful.”

In September, Colorado “was preparing to help” as refugees left Syria and other countries in the Middle East, according to CBS Denver.

In a statement today, Gov. John Hickenlooper makes it clear that nothing has changed:

“A few short days ago we witnessed another senseless act of terrorism. Our hearts go out to the families, friends and loved ones of those lost and injured in Paris, and in other acts of terror around the world. Our first priority remains the safety of our residents. We will work with the federal government and Homeland Security to ensure the national verification processes for refugees are as stringent as possible. We can protect our security and provide a place where the world’s most vulnerable can rebuild their lives.” [Pols emphasis]

As the American Civil Liberties Union notes, the knee-jerk response from some Republican governors against taking in refugees from the war in Syria is, in addition to optically quite troubling, most likely not legal:

For our part, we’re reminded of the example of another governor of Colorado, Gov. Ralph Carr, who in the early days of World War II urged the people of Colorado to welcome and respect Japanese-Americans being transported here by the federal government away from the West Coast. Carr paid for his foresight and equanimity with his political career, but is today remembered as one of our state’s best governors.

Today, Gov. Hickenlooper has spoken out in the finest traditions of a state that has witnessed both great compassion and great intolerance in our history. He deserves not just the gratitude of future Colorado citizens with the benefit of hindsight, but to be heeded now as a voice of reason in difficult times.

Good on you, Governor.

Rubio Immigration Tap-Dance Leaves Coffman Stumbling

THURSDAY UPDATE: MSNBC’s Steve Benen talks more about the trouble facing Marco Rubio–and also Mike Coffman:

“In my view, if Republicans nominate for president a candidate who supports amnesty,” Cruz added, ‘we will have given up one of the major distinctions with Hillary Clinton and we will lose the general election – that is a path to losing.”

In fairness to Rubio, it’s worth emphasizing that he dramatically flip-flopped on the immigration issue, betrayed his former allies, and now rejects the very proposals he helped write just two years ago. Maybe that will satisfy Republican voters, maybe not…

Keep in mind, this isn’t just some peripheral issue for many conservatives. A far-right, hard-line stance on immigration is for the Republican base what support for Social Security is for many Democrats – a stance the base simply expects as a commitment to party orthodoxy.

Although Coffman’s hard-line pre-redistricting positions on immigration were a polar opposite to Rubio’s former moderate position, it’s striking how the flip-flopping in both directions on the issue has exposed both men’s vulnerabilities. Coffman’s job of appearing moderate on immigration, while not going so far as to upset his Republican base of support in a swing district, is really not all that different from Rubio laboring to appease the GOP base on an issue he has already “sold them out” on once before.

In both cases voters, albeit different voters, are being asked to swallow big camels and strain gnats–and it may well end with nobody trusting either of them. Original post follows.

—–

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

NPR’s Steve Inskeep reports on the continuing “evolution” of Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s position on immigration reform, which has “evolved” even further in the last 24 hours:

Sen. Marco Rubio clarified his view on the 11 million immigrants, who are in the United States illegally. The day after a presidential debate, which exposed a continuing divide in the Republican Party on immigration, Rubio told NPR on Wednesday that he favors a path to citizenship for some, though the prospect would be very distant.

“If you haven’t been here very long, or you’re a criminal, you will be deported,” Rubio told NPR’s Morning Edition. “Otherwise, you will have to come forward, pass the background check, learn English, pay a fine, because you violated the law, start paying taxes, and you’ll get a work permit. And that’s all you’re going to have for at least a decade.”

Rubio went a step further. “After 10 years on the work permit, I personally am open to — after the 10 years have expired — to allowing people to apply for a green card, just through the normal process that anyone else would use.”

That means Rubio still broadly backs one of the most hotly debated portions of a 2013 immigration bill that passed the Senate overwhelmingly but could not get through the Republican-controlled House. Rubio helped author the legislation, but later dismissed it as politically unsustainable.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Rubio’s position on immigration reform has been a famously moving target since 2013, when an immigration reform bill he hammered out with input from both sides of the U.S. Senate was pronounced DOA in the Republican-controlled House. In the face of furious objections from the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party, Rubio abandoned the legislation he had previously worked to pass. On the campaign trail as a Republican presidential candidate, Rubio has tried hard to keep up with his opponents’ free-wheeling demagoguery of immigrants while keeping the door open to moderating on the issue for a general election audience Etch-a-Sketch style.

That’s how you get Rubio telling NPR today that he would keep some kind of path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants open, even as he says he would close down President Barack Obama’s DACA program meant to protect thousands of childhood-arrival immigrants from deportation. To be honest, we don’t see how Rubio is going to be able to keep these contradictions from breaking down eventually. But with Rubio trying to position himself as the alternative to the Trump/Carson sideshow that’s presently dominating the Republican primary, he needs to be able to say something.

The real loser in this back-and-forth may not be Rubio, but swing Republicans like Rep. Mike Coffman–who have been dancing between the GOP base’s hard line on immigration, and the needs of a diverse constituency that includes a large immigrant population with and without documentation. Even Coffman’s recent “moderated” opinion on immigration doesn’t go nearly as far as Rubio says today he would. In 2010, Coffman said flat-out that the DREAM Act “would be a nightmare for the American people.” Coffman’s most recent statements about undocumented students and/or military eligible recruits are best described as purposefully confusing, but Coffman certainly has not come out in favor of a path to citizenship for undocumented adults–even a “very long path.”

Up to now, Coffman has been able to use Rubio’s immigration reform bill, more to the point its death, as a means to obfuscate his shifting position on a very delicate issue. The trouble now is that Rubio is under a harsher spotlight then ever before as a presidential candidate, and is going to be forced to spell out clearly once and for all what his agenda on immigration actually is.

And that’s going to leave Mike Coffman with no place to hide.

Decoding Mike Coffman on Immigration Reform

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman's 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood's logo.

Still image from Rep. Mike Coffman’s 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood’s logo.

Those who taketh many positions, maketh many confused.      — Colorado Pols

The image at right of Rep. Mike Coffman touting the “support” of Planned Parenthood in 2014 resurfaced in September after Coffman voted in favor of a bill to cut federal funding from the organization. To the unfamiliar, this was a prime example of the kind of doublespeak that seems to fill many politicians these days. But to those who have followed Coffman’s career, what happened next was oddly…perfect. Responding to inquiries from 9News about the apparent hypocrisy from Coffman, his spokeswoman, Cinamon Watson, dropped one of the all-time classic bad political quotes:

“Using Planned Parenthood’s expression of support is not the same thing as saying it’s a good organization,” said Coffman’s spokeswoman Cinamon Watson in an email to 9NEWS.

This really is a terrible response from a political spokesperson, but the response really encapsulates Coffman’s political career in a nutshell: Mike Coffman will say pretty much anything on a sensitive policy issue, regardless of whether it matches up with previous comments, votes, or legislation on said issue. We saw this again on Wednesday, when journalist and media critic Jason Salzman wrote a brief story about Coffman’s ever-evolving position on illegal immigration, pointing out that Coffman does not support the dual pathways to citizenship as outlined in the DREAM Act:

Reporters covering Coffman need to be sure to note that Coffman’s path is single-track, through military service only. That’s in contrast to the Dream Act, which Coffman voted against in 2010. It would have offered young undocumented immigrants a double-track path to citizenship, through military service or education.

The difference is important, because the Dream Act has long been the focus of legislative efforts to help young undocumented immigrants, who know our country as home. The most common version offers a dual-track path, but, in any case, Coffman’s chosen path should be clearly stated.

After this story went up on Colorado Pols, Coffman’s campaign manager/spokesman/overseer Tyler Sandberg took to Twitter to call out Salzman for missing something in Coffman’s immigration thinking. Salzman responded with an update on The Big Media Blog, essentially pointing out that Coffman has said many different things about many different issues — statements that don’t always end up being reflected in Coffman’s voting record.

The truth is, you can find a lot of things with the “Google button,” but a clear position on illegal immigration from Mike Coffman is not one of them. For example, take a look at how Coffman’s position on “comprehensive reform” flips 180 degrees in a 9-month period:

CoffmanHead-12

July 22, 2013

Comprehensive immigration reform is good. The Denver Post prints Op-Ed from Coffman calling for “comprehensive immigration reform.” When does he want it? “Now,” says Coffman.

 

 

CoffmanHead-3

January 17, 2014

In an email to the Aurora Sentinel, Coffman says he “supports” a path to citizenship for college education, but offers his military service for citizenship bill as an alternative to the DREAM Act.

 

CoffmanHead-6

April 28, 2014

Comprehensive immigration reform is bad. Coffman tells the Aurora Sentinel that he supports a “step-by-step” approach, which is the exact opposite of the position he laid out in the Denver Post nine months earlier. Coffman also reiterates that he opposes the bill that passed the Senate; and claims to support Obama’s DACA program for DREAMers, but not the way it was implemented. No mention is given to citizenship through education.

 

 

By May 21, 2014, all mention of “comprehensive immigration reform” is scrubbed from Coffman’s official Congressional website. It’s almost as if Coffman never actually supported “comprehensive immigration reform,” except that, well, he did. When Coffman staffer Tyler Sandberg says that his boss supports a “higher ed or military path” to citizenship for illegal immigrants, what does that mean? In Coffman’s carefully-choreographed dance on immigration policy, it could mean just about anything. Coffman has talked before about a “higher ed” option, but he has only ever given support to a “military path.”

Sandberg is walking a thin line here by indicating that prior statements from Coffman are equivalent to actual positions on issues; you can see from the “comprehensive reform” switcheroo above that Coffman’s statements don’t often have a very long shelf life of support from the man himself. Mike Coffman owes it to his constituents to present a clear platform on big issues such as illegal immigration — not the other way around. Even if you were aware of every comment that Coffman has ever made on potential immigration policy, you still couldn’t put together a workable platform; there are too many examples of Coffman flat-out contradicting himself.

Coffman opposes dual pathways to citizenship specified in the Dream Act

(Can’t stop a bullet? No “pathway” for you! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

coffmantrust

UPDATE: Coffman spokesman Tyler Sandberg tweeted me that Coffman does support a pathway to citizenship through education — a position that can be learned by using the “Google button.”  I have even reported instances in which Coffman has uttered a sentence to this effect in media appearances (See for example here.), and I should have included this in my blog post.

But this issue is an example of the problem reporters have in covering Coffman. Does a sentence buried in the middle of a TV interview actually represent Coffman’s position, when that policy can be contradicted by another vote on the record or lost in the conversation around military enlistment, which is the only related bill Coffman’s put forward?

When Coffman took to the Denver Post opinion pages in 2013 to endorse “comprehensive immigration reform,” any number of his supposed policy commitments were left vague enough to give him room to escape supporting the bipartisan Senate bill that actually passed. And by the next year, he had reversed himself on whether “comprehensive” reform needed to be done all at once or in a step-by-step approach. Additionally, all of these back and forth statements on legislative procedure is omitting Coffman voting against President Obama’s deferred deportations for children before reversing and voting for them.

Still, I should have referenced Coffman’s media statements in support of a path to citizenship through education.

——

Back in 2013, as Rep. Mike Coffman was testifying in favor of allowing undocumented children to gain citizenship through military service, he said:

Coffman: “The first question that we ought to ask ourselves here today is whether or not we believe that the young people, who were brought to this country illegally as children by their relatives, who grew up here, and who went to school here, who probably know of no other county, ought to have a pathway to citizenship and I believe that the answer to that question is yes.”

Reporters covering Coffman need to be sure to note that Coffman’s path is single-track, through military service only. That’s in contrast to the Dream Act, which Coffman voted against in 2010. It would have offered young undocumented immigrants a double-track path to citizenship, through military service or education.

The difference is important, because the Dream Act has long been the focus of legislative efforts to help young undocumented immigrants, who know our country as home. The most common version offers a dual-track path, but, in any case, Coffman’s chosen path should be clearly stated.

So, The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews should have specified the type of path Coffman supports when Matthews wrote over the weekend:

Coffman added that he supports a pathway to citizenship for immigrant children but not adults, although he wanted to create some arrangement for parents, such as “guest worker status.”

Coffman supports a pathway to citizenship for young immigrants through military service. It’s a distinction that means a lot to the young immigrants involved and to those who’ve been pushing for immigration reform for so long now.

Rep. Joe Salazar Eviscerates Trump (And Mike Coffman)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

It’s not often that we cite an opinion piece published on another site, but Rep. Joe Salazar of Thornton penned an op-ed for today’s Aurora Sentinel that’s prompting a lot of discussion–certainly enough to earn a mention in this space.

The subject? Donald Trump, naturally–and Trump’s record’s similarity to that of “moderate” Rep. Mike Coffman. Excerpts:

Congressman Mike Coffman was a loud supporter of the extreme anti-immigrant agenda long before Donald Trump rode his xenophobia to the top of the Republican polls. Trump may be hogging all the attention and crowding out his rivals, but his outrageous views towards immigrants and Latinos are common in the Republican Party. In fact, it is fair to say that Trump is Tancredo/Coffman 2.0.

Unlike Trump, within the past few years Mike Coffman has been awkwardly running/stumbling away from this anti-immigrant legacy as fast as he can. In fact, he started learning Spanish – I know because he attempted to speak with me in Spanish during an event we both attended in 2013. But, despite his newfound bilingualism, the truth is that Coffman is alarmingly similar to Trump… [Pols emphasis]

Although Mike Coffman believes that learning Spanish would endear him to immigrant communities, his rhetoric and record only demonstrate that he is now effective in offending good, hard-working people in two languages. Let us not forget that he also fought to change the Voting Rights Act to ban multilingual ballots in areas with large populations of non-proficient English speakers (telling people they ought to grab a dictionary).

Redistricting threw Coffman into a Congressional district where he had to face the same people he stoked xenophobic fears against. Since then, Mike “Tancredo is my Hero” Coffman has been bottling up his true positions, leaving minority communities in the 6th Congressional District feeling concerned that his xenophobia will soon uncork itself.

In today’s op-ed, Rep. Salazar cites a number of similarities between Trump and Mike Coffman–like Coffman’s recommendation that non-English speaking voters “get a dictionary,” Coffman’s past support for building a wall across the Mexican border, and Coffman’s infamous 2012 assertion that President Barack Obama “is just not an American.” As Salazar points out, redistricting into a diverse and competitive new district, stripping Tom Tancredo’s old base of support from Coffman’s electorate, is the only thing that has prompted even a superficial change of heart.

As we expect Salazar will be telling CD-6 voters from now until November of 2016, it’s superficial as hell. The proof is in Coffman’s own words: far too many words to take back or flip-flop on. All that’s lacking is the will to hold Coffman accountable to that black-and-white record, something our gutless local media and previous Democratic challengers have so far not demonstrated.

Well folks, it really looks like that may be happening in 2016.

An Open Letter to Donald Trump

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.

I am compelled by conscience to respond to your recent hate-filled rhetoric toward immigrants and your call to deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living and working in the United States.

I must call out your words for what they are: cowardly and immoral. It is cowardice to categorically attack and dehumanize 11 million people to further your own political ambition. Your words are those of a demagogue—a false ‘solution’ that riles up the worst of our humanity.

I must ask you: Did undocumented immigrants make the decisions to shutter thousands of American factories and send millions upon millions of good jobs to other countries? Did undocumented immigrants pass the ‘free trade’ agreements that have ruined both well-paid manufacturing and, increasingly, service jobs in America?  Did undocumented immigrants pass the massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans that have showered further wealth upon them and led to public services cuts and extreme deficits? (I could go on and on.)

No, people with enormous economic and political power made those decisions—Wall Street, CEO’s, members of the 1%, and the politicians whom they have bought made those decisions. I will say that again—people with incredible power made those decisions. Yet, you prey upon the considerable economic insecurity that almost all Americans feel today and blame undocumented immigrants—a group that is a far cry from wielding power over the commanding heights over our economy and our politics. This is not courage, sir—it is rank cowardice.

Worse than that, you are attempting the ugly, dangerous, and age-old tactic of scapegoating. We must look at our history—and the history of the world—and remember just how dangerous scapegoating is. I urge you, and every American, to pause for a moment and reflect upon what has happened every time in history when a group that is different is first made to be the ‘other’ then blamed for that society’s problems? The next step on that treacherous path is always a call for their removal from that society—or much, much worse. This perilous call is what you have just issued.

Already, that peril is becoming clear. Two men, apparently ‘inspired’ by your rhetoric, beat a Latino homeless man in the place of my birth, Boston.  Mr. Trump, can you imagine Jesus Christ uttering the hateful words that you have towards undocumented immigrants? In fact the Bible says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) Where in any tradition of any major world religion does it call for such hatred and dehumanization of our fellow man? This is why your words are immoral.

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