Senate Close to DHS Budget Deal; Republicans are Screwed

kenbuckonthebutton

Republican Rep. Ken Buck is probably a little less enthusiastic about pressing these buttons this week.

As Politico reports:

The Senate is moving quickly to break a weekslong impasse that has threatened funding for the Department of Homeland Security and paralyzed the Capitol, putting pressure on House Speaker John Boehner on the brink of a shutdown of the national security agency.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid announced Wednesday afternoon that they would move forward on a “clean” $39.7 billion DHS-funding bill — free of provisions targeting President Barack Obama’s immigration policies. McConnell agreed to relent after Reid’s caucus filibustered a House-passed bill on four separate occasions, demanding that Republicans strip the immigration provisions or risk a shutdown of the department.

The Senate voted 98-2 to open debate on the House bill, setting the stage for a last-ditch scramble for Congress to act before DHS funding expires on Friday.

Politically-speaking, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell basically just punted the ball back to House Speaker John Boehner. The story of this funding bill has largely been about dissention among Republicans than about anything Democrats have proposed, and it's hard to see any scenario where the GOP doesn't lose on this one. The House can hold firm on Tea Party principles and refuse the Senate version, but if they do that and refuse to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for political reasons related to immigration reform, they will hand Democrats the undisputed title of "Party that gets to say it cares more about protecting Americans from terrorism."

And for what? It's not like Congress is just going to stop funding for DHS forever. Republicans have majority control of both chambers of Congress, which limits the number of fingers they can point, and even trying to toss this onto President Obama's shoulders isn't going to save them; Obama is in his seventh year in office and his approval ratings are starting to rise as he nears the end of his stay in the White House.

Whatever happens, this isn't going to end well for Republicans. The only question yet to be answered is this: Just how bad will it get for the GOP?

Have We Mentioned That Kent Lambert Doesn’t Like Immigrants?

Sen. Kent Lambert using night vision scope on the Mexican border.

Sen. Kent Lambert using night vision scope to “patrol” the Mexican border.

The Colorado Statesman's Marianne Goodland reports on a bill sponsored by Sen. Kent Lambert of Colorado Springs that's more than meets the eye:

The new chair of the Joint Budget Committee has stirred up a bit of a hornet’s nest with a bill that would radically change the mission and admission standards for Metropolitan State University of Denver. And it’s not a change that they sought.

Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, is the prime sponsor of Senate Bill 15-072, which would change Metro’s admissions standards from “modified open” to “moderately selective.”

The state has five standards for granting admissions to its public colleges and universities. Metro currently falls under “modified open,” which means any applicant age 20 or older can be admitted with a high school diploma or GED. Those under 20 must meet additional criteria. Metro is the only higher education institution in the state with modified open standards…

As of press time, Metro officials and Lambert had not yet met about the bill.

MetroStateLogoWeb-304

Kind of strange, don't you think? Why would Sen. Lambert introduce a bill making such a major change to the admissions criteria for one of the state's largest public colleges without even meeting with them?

That's simple enough–Metro State does not support the bill.

Metro spokesperson Cathy Lucas said that Metro was not looking to change to their admissions standards. Initial data from the university shows that about 1,200 students would be affected by the admissions change. That would include 432 students of color…

Metro State serves a key role in Colorado's range of public higher education offerings as what's known as a "college of opportunity"–a chance for returning adult and otherwise "nontraditional students" to obtain a full four-year college degree without the same high admission standards prevalent at most four-year schools. As a consequence, Metro State has a lower graduation rate than many other four-year schools, but that is considered acceptable in pursuit of the school's mission of making a full college education available to everyone.

So why would Lambert want to change Metro State's "college of opportunity" model? As we discussed last week, Lambert is one of the Colorado legislature's most strident anti-immigrant lawmakers. Lambert has taken "fact finding trips" to the Arizona border to meet with anti-immigration extremists like border militiaman Chris Simcox, and ex-Arizona Sen. Russell Pearce of SB-1070 infamy. Metro State was a major advocate of the ASSET legislation passed in 2013 allowing undocumented students who graduate from Colorado high schools to attend college with affordable tuition, and the largest share of ASSET students are students of Metro State. As you can imagine, this did not make Lambert a very happy anti-immigrant lawmaker.

And basically, Kent Lambert is now looking to screw with Metro State. It's important to know this backstory, lest anyone think Lambert's bill is some kind of altruistic pursuit of better educational standards. Be assured, its not.

Kent Lambert Ain’t Funding No Immigrant Driver Licenses

UPDATE: Majority House Democrats react with anger to Joint Budget Committee Republicans' budgetary shenanigans: "That might be what they do in Congress, in Washington. That’s not how we do it in Colorado."

Republicans on the Joint Budget Committee are trying out a tactic that’s new to Colorado – if you don’t like a law, defy the will of the legislature and just deny funding for the law. 
  
This morning, the three JBC Republicans voted for a second time this week to deny $166,000 for a program to grant driver’s licenses to undocumented Colorado residents. 
  
The driver’s license program was authorized by a state law enacted in 2013. The JBC Republicans’ action had the effect of reducing the number of DMV offices offering this type of license to one, statewide. The Denver Post calculated that the change would increase the waiting time for these licenses to 16 years. 

Later this morning, the Republican JBC members – Sens. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, and Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, and Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale — voted against a different public safety licensure program, the Department of Public Safety’s request for an additional $369,000 to administer background checks for the state’s concealed carry firearms licensing program…
  
“Amazingly, with this one motion, Republicans on the JBC are hurting law-abiding gun owners and jeopardizing community safety at the same time,” said Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder. “By boosting the waiting times, you’re making law-abiding citizens wait longer for their concealed carry permits. It’s hard to understand what they were trying to achieve here, because it's really just a lose-lose for everyone.” 
  
“The Joint Budget Committee’s job is to fund programs authorized by Colorado law,” said Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, the JBC vice chairwoman, who voted to preserve the driver’s license program and to assist law-abiding gun owners by cutting the waiting time for concealed carry licenses. “If we don’t like a law, we try to change it through the legislative process. I do not support using the budget process to change existing laws by not funding them appropriately. That might be what they do in Congress, in Washington. That’s not how we do it in Colorado.” 

—–

Sen. Kent Lambert (R), and immigration activist Chris Simcox.

Sen. Kent Lambert (R), and anti-immigration activist Chris Simcox.

As the Durango Herald's Peter Marcus reports:

Republicans on Friday defunded a large portion of a state program intended to provide driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants.

The three Republican members of the state’s budget committee rejected a spending authorization to fund the new program, causing a tie vote that killed the motion.

The move highlighted Republicans flexing their new muscle after taking control of the Senate this year, which created a split Legislature. The GOP opposed providing driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants…

Ulibarri sponsored the measure in 2013 when Democrats controlled both chambers of the Legislature. The bill was framed as a public safety measure, with sponsors pointing out that drivers are more likely to flee the scene of an accident without a license or insurance.

It's important to understand the purpose of the immigrant driver license program, which was not to provide "sanctuary" to undocumented immigrants. Immigrants drive to get to work and elsewhere, but with no ability to obtain a valid license, they can't get auto insurance–and that makes them rolling liabilities to everyone else on Colorado roads. Given the fact that immigrants are here, the intent of this law is harm reduction.

According to proponents, defunding the immigrant driver license program (as opposed to repealing it with legislation) could result in the worst possible outcome: the program remains on the books, but becomes prohibitively difficult to operate. Practically speaking, it means that four out of the five DMV offices currently able to process these licenses will be forced to discontinue the service:

For Durango-area applicants, the news is crushing. Undocumented immigrants already were forced to drive the four hours to Grand Junction to apply for a license. Now they will likely have to drive considerably more.

It's possible that we'll see more of this tactic on other issues, but on anything related to immigration that arrives before the JBC, it should be noted that the new chairman of the JBC, GOP Sen. Kent Lambert, is one of the state's most strident anti-immigrant lawmakers. As a member of the Republican Study Committee of Colorado, Lambert has taken field trips to the Arizona and Texas borders to "survey the situation." In Arizona, Lambert met with anti-immigration extremists like former Sen. Russell Pearce, and accused child molester/Minutemen founder Chris Simcox (photo with Lambert above right).

Because of the effects defunding a program that is not legislatively repealed would have, this is considered bad form. There have been occasions, including at least one instance so far this year, of the Joint Budget Commission unanimously agreeing to drop funding for a line item that has demonstrably failed in one way or another. In this case, using the JBC to grandstand on an issue one party lost legislatively, and cannot repeal legislatively, is an improper use of the JBC's considerable power.

Add it to a growing tally of misdeeds this session.

GOP Talks Immigration, but Only in Spanish-Language Translation of English Rebuttal…Wait, What?

Sen. Joni Ernst

Yes, Senator Ernst, there were apparently two versions of your speech last night.

The Republican Party supports working with President Obama on immigration reform…but only in Spanish?

Republicans chose freshman Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) to deliver the GOP response to President Obama's State of the Union speech last night, which is about where this entire story stops making sense.

Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo was tapped to deliver the Spanish-language version of the rebuttal, which was supposed to be a translation of the Ernst speech…except that Curbelo added a section about immigration reform that Ernst does not actually support. It should be noted here that Sen. Ernst is an advocate of making English the "official language" in the United States; in other words, the GOP Spanish-language rebuttal was intended to be a translation of a speech given by someone who doesn't really think we should be speaking Spanish anyway.

Of course, that's not what actually happened.

To help explain what went down after the President's speech last night, we'll begin with a preview yesterday as reported by Mother Jones magazine:

The GOP has also announced it will be offering a Spanish-language rebuttal, which will be delivered tonight by freshman Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a young conservative from a diverse Miami congressional district. But there's a wrinkle. According to a press release from the House Republicans, Curbelo will not be sharing his own thoughts and words with the public. Instead, he will only be reading a Spanish translation of Ernst's speech.

Curbelo's office confirmed that he will not be delivering his own remarks. [Pols emphasis]

By the way, Ernst has endorsed English as a national language and once sued Iowa's secretary of state for offering voting forms in languages other than English. Her office did not respond to requests for comment.

Congressman Carlos Curbelo

The role of Sen. Joni Ernst was played by Rep. Carlos Curbelo, or something.

Okay, that's a bit strange — but it seems straightforward enough, right? Perhaps, though the plan went awry at some point. As Politico reports:

Republicans sent mixed signals on immigration in their two official rebuttals to President Obama Tuesday night: Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst’s rebuttal made no mention of the topic, but the Spanish-language version of the rebuttal, delivered by Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo, said Republicans wanted to work with Obama to fix the immigration system. [Pols emphasis]

“We should also work through the appropriate channels to create permanent solutions for our immigration system, to secure our borders, modernize legal immigration, and strengthen our economy,” said Curbelo in Spanish. “In the past, the president has expressed support for ideas like these. Now we ask him to cooperate with us to get it done.”

Earlier on Tuesday, House Republicans had described Curbelo’s response as “the Spanish-Language translated address of Sen. Joni Ernst response.” That language was later removed from the release, according to Mother Jones.

Curbelo has bucked many in the Republican Party to support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, while Ernst opposes that.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican majority in Congress! And we didn't even mention Sen. Ted "Eh, Lemme Start Over" Cruz.

Reporters are still letting Gardner play them on immigration

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner took his slippery interview tactics to the national stage of PBS' Newshour yesterday, responding to questions with predictions of the future, not answers to the questions, leaving us thinking we got answers from our new Senator. When we really didn't.

In a re-wind of what we heard from Gardner during his election campaign, the Newshour's Al Hunt asked Gardner about immigration. Hunt acted as if he'd gotten an answer from Gardner, since he didn't follow up, but in reality, he'd gotten little or nothing from him.

Hunt: There are some House Republicans who are proposing now, with the Homeland Security authorization, that they would deny funding for Obama's executive action in November. And some would go and deny funding. And some would go even and deny funding for the DREAMer's action in 2012. Is that helpful? Is that constructive?

Hunt: …You supported the DREAMers' action, didn't you?

Gardner: That will ultimately be part of the solution, but we have to start with a secure border. We have to start with a guest-worker program. Those are things the American people support. They want it to be proven that we can actually handle some of these bigger issues, like border security now.

Hunt: Do you think it's possible to get some kind of accord that includes some kind of legal status or citizenship for almost all of the 11 million undocumenteds who are here.

Gardner: I think at some point that will be one of the solutions that is reached. But right now, I think Republicans should put forward a bill that starts with border security, addresses a guest worker program, because without a workable guest-worker program you do not have border security. Let's put those pieces in place, make sure they work, and then move forward to additional solutions that must be part of the overall fix to immigration.

From reading this, you might think Gardner supports the DREAM Act, as well as offering legal status to undocumented immigrants. But he doesn't.  During the election campaign, he voted against halting the deportation of Dreamers. But throughout his career, he's been against the Dream Act, which would give young undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship through college or military service. Gardner even opposed offering in-state tuition rates to undocumented young people, brought into our country illegally by their parents.

Gardner smiles and says he's in favor of immigration reform, that he wants a "solution," but his record is nearly void of evidence that he's done anything about it, and he even opposed the bipartisan Senate immigration bill. Most recently, he opposed Obama's action to halt the deportation of undocumented immigrants whose children are U.S. citizens.

Gardner fooled Hunt into thinking he got answers. And he fooled Breitbart into thinking he's too moderate on immigration. What a mess.

Reporters can cut through Gardner's obfuscation by pressing the senator about what he'll do, specifically, to advance immigration reform. Will he vote for the DREAM Act? Will he vote for a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants? What does he favor? What will he do?

“Major Confusion” Coffman Does it Again on Immigration

Mike Coffman takes all sides

Go ahead and roll the dice — “Major Confusion” Coffman has every side covered.

Fox 31’s Eli Stokols has the rundown on today’s Congressional immigration battles, and Republican Rep. Mike “Major Confusion” Coffman is picking up kudos after a handful of conflicting votes and mismatched public statements:

[Coffman] voted against the amendment that seeks to end the Deferred Action program and the final bill, which included the amendment.

“The President’s executive actions are clearly unconstitutional and I strongly oppose his unilateral decisions on immigration but my party needs to stop just saying what we are against and start saying what we are for when it comes to fixing our broken immigration system,” said Coffman in a statement.“Under the DACA amendment that passed, young people who were taken to this country as children, who grew up here, went to school here, and often know of no other country but the United States, would not be allowed to renew their status and would face deportation. We should have had an opportunity to pass a version of the DACA program into law.  Moving forward, immigration reform should be about securing our borders, growing our economy and keeping families together and we need to do it all the constitutional way – through Congress.”

Immigration policy is confusing enough without Coffman's help, so stay with us here – this is about to get silly.

Congressman Coffman is a former U.S. Marine. If you’ve spent any time around Colorado politics, you are almost certainly aware of this; Coffman never misses an opportunity to mention his military career and call upon related clichés such as “boots on the ground.” We do not have a negative word to say about Rep. Coffman’s service record. To borrow a phrase from Democrat Andrew Romanoff, Coffman’s General Election opponent in 2014, Rep. Coffman’s military career should be applauded and respected.

His rank as a citizen lawmaker perhaps should be adjusted, however, to include the title “Major Confusion,” because that seems to be Coffman’s strategy when it comes to dealing with the issue of immigration.

While nothing ever actually happens on immigration reform, “Major Confusion” always makes sure to take credit for specific immigration votes while at the same time making sure to so obfuscate his position that it seems like he’s always on your side on the issue (Coffman even issued a statement in Spanish today about how he totally supports DREAMers). This is a pretty clever political tactic, actually, even if it is completely meaningless.

Take a look at this blog entry from Aurora Sentinel editor Dave Perry, who is consistently one of the most understandable and understanding journalists in Colorado, and you’ll see what we mean about the strategy of “Major Confusion.”

Coffman, a Republican, voted against a broad bill what seeks to undo the ability of illegal immigrants brought here as children to find a permanent home in the United States.

Good for you, Congressman. It was an impressive and important move. The vote was nothing but a flagrant political slap to President Barack Obama as retribution for seeking administrative ways to solve immigration problems. But it passed, 236-191 because other Republicans don’t have the temerity and good sense Coffman showed.

If you’re going to slap Coffman on the back here, it’s important to draw the distinction between being a “vote maker” and a “law maker.” Congress is in the business of making laws – or as House Speaker John Boehner routinely crows, not making laws. “Major Confusion” Coffman did indeed cast several votes today on immigration reform, but the votes were contradictory and his actions did absolutely nothing to contribute to “making laws” on immigration. Coffman split his votes on various controversial amendments, which is the real-world equivalent of flipping a coin and calling both “heads” and “tails.”

A press release issued by Colorado immigrant rights and Latino advocacy groups had a different perspective on what took place on Capitol Hil today:

(more…)

Buck: “I don’t owe people who are here illegally anything”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Ken Buck.

Ken Buck.

"I don't owe people who are here illegally anything."

That's Republican Rep. Ken Buck, making us proud just hours before he was sworn in today as a U.S. Representative from Colorado.

One wonders if Buck would have said the same thing about my interred illegal immigrant Italian inlaws (IIIII), but it doesn't matter because Buck is in Washington now, not a hundred years ago.

Buck told The Denver Post's Mark Matthews that he wants to establish a guest-worker program for immigrants and then move on, piecemeal, to deal with the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in our country.

But how will he do this for people to whom he owes nothing?

Does Buck feel he owes undocumented human beings no respect? No compassion, not even some level of honor for the work they do in our country–and for the contributions they make to our communities? Apparently not. Nada.

How about a vaccination or two for the undocumented kids? Does Buck owe them that?

Owing nothing to the undocumented people in Colorado amounts to hating them. What else to call it?

Maybe I'm skewed from too much talk radio, but the hate toward immigrants from respectable people in Colorado, like Buck and State Sen. Vicki Marble (who said they spread "the disease"), seems to be on the rise.

Yet, I don't see reporters noticing. Marble's ugly comment stunk up my blog post and went nowhere else. Buck's line was at least reported, which counts for something, but was left hanging. Ugh.

Watch Out Cory Gardner, The ‘Baggers Are Restless

See ya!

See ya!

A conservative blogger at Politichicks.com describes a Republican Party public event with Sen.-elect Cory Gardner sometime last month in Highlands Ranch that apparently didn't go so well:

With about 100 people at the meet and greet, it was a standing room only event where Gardener spoke for about two minutes and then went to mingle with the crowd. [Homeschool mom Florence] Sebern stated that she and her son stood back so that senior citizens in attendance could meet the senator-elect first.

Sebern described Gardner’s departure as abrupt, leaving the impression that he felt uncomfortable surrounded by people familiar to the campaign who might have had questions on his support for the spending bill which funded President Obama’s mandate for amnesty. Sebern reported that there was no announcement for last minutes pictures or autographs, though there were several people waiting in line to see him.

“Gardner is informing a whole new set of voters,” Sebern said, emphasizing that he sent a message to young people that they are not important enough for him to stay and shake their hands. She described him as being bumrushed out of the room with 10 to 15 constituents in line still waiting to talk to him. She noted that he abandoned two young constituents. One young man appeared to have been hoping for an autograph of a book or magazine. The other one was Sebern’s son—who will be eligible to vote when Senator Gardner is up for re-election.

Activists such as KLZ radio host Ken Clark were stunned that Gardner would leave so quickly without a word to his constituents. On his December 18th radio show covering the Gardener event, Clark said, “I never seen a politician run so fast to get out of the room in my entire life.” Clark also was blocked from access, flanked by Gardner’s aides. He described aides forming a circle around Gardener before he was whisked away in “a very spirited walk.”

Yikes! You hope these party faithful don't find out Gardner used to be a Democrat, right? On the other hand, Gardner ran to the left–or at least pretended to–so many times last year he could have been mistaken for one. And who knows what the next six wild years in Washington may bring? Cory "Nighthorse" Gardner, anyone?

Laugh all you want, stranger things have happened.

Top 10 Stories of 2014: Colorado’s Two-Headed Electorate (#10)

How many fingers am I holding up?

Today we kick off our annual list of the "Top 10 Stories of the Year" in Colorado politics. We start, appropriately, with #10: Colorado's Two-Headed Electorate.

—-

The 2014 Election was unlike the 2012 Election in Colorado.

You don’t need to be a rocket surgeon to have come to that conclusion, but the 2014 Election did indeed confirm a suspicion that arose following the results of 2012: There are two distinct electorates in Colorado.

In 2010 and 2014, Colorado experienced similar results to states around the country as part of a Republican “wave” election (though you can argue that 2014 wasn’t really a wave year, but that’s another subject for another time). In fact, Colorado post-election 2014 looks incredibly similar if not for the collapse of Republican Ken Buck’s Senate campaign in the closing weeks of 2010. This might be understandable as a trend if we ignored Presidential election years, but there’s no question that Democrats were stronger at the polls in 2008 and 2012.

It is not a groundbreaking theory to suggest that Colorado has two different electorates that vary from Presidential to mid-term election years, but in 2014 we saw the extension of a very distinct pattern in Colorado that dates back to President Barack Obama’s election in 2008. Perhaps this pattern will break in 2016 with a different group of Presidential candidates, or perhaps this is a new modern reality in American politics. Everything we’ve seen suggests the latter. Here's why:

(more…)

Anybody Remember Geert Wilders?

Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

The Western Conservative Summit, hosted annually by Colorado Christian University, has become one of the biggest-draw events for Republican politicos, pundits, and their many fans. Three years ago, the WCS featured an address by Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders. Wilders became famous in Europe–some would use the world infamous–for his strident attacks against Muslim immigration into Europe and the religion of Islam in general. As the Colorado Statesman's Ernest Luning reported from the 2012 WCS:

Saturday afternoon’s topic, [Former Colorado Sen. John] Andrews said, would be “the existential threat to the United States of America posed by Islam.”

Pausing for a moment to let his words sink in, he continued. “I didn’t say ‘radical Islam,’ I didn’t say ‘extremism.’ After you hear from Frank Gaffney and our friend from across the Atlantic, Geert Wilders, you’ll know why I just say ‘the threat of Islam…’”

“Your country is facing a stealth jihad, an Islamic attempt to introduce Sharia law bit by bit by bit,” [Wilders] said.

In order to keep the United States from succumbing, Wilders said, politicians have to ignore what he promised would be derision from the liberal media and other quarters and firmly deliver strong medicine. First, he said, Americans have to stop putting up with “multiculturalism,” even as free-speech proponents cry foul. In addition, he said American courtrooms must bar Sharia law and “stop the immigration from Islamic countries.”

Most critically, he said, “We should forbid the construction of new mosques. There is enough Islam in the West already.”

Sen. Kevin Grantham (R).

Sen. Kevin Grantham (R).

Wilder's speech at the Western Conservative Summit attracted remarkably little press attention, but Wilder left Colorado with lots of new fans–like Republican Colorado state Sen. Kevin Grantham:

Regarding Wilders’ suggestion that Western governments ban construction of new mosques, Grantham said it was worth considering.

“You know, we’d have to hear more on that, because, as he said, mosques are not churches like we would think of churches,” Grantham said. [Pols emphasis] “They think of mosques more as a foothold into a society, as a foothold into a community, more in the cultural and in the nationalistic sense. Our churches — we don’t feel that way, they’re places of worship, and mosques are simply not that, and we need to take that into account when approving construction of those.”

Although it greatly upset local Muslim groups, we haven't seen much follow-up to this fairly astonishing quote from Sen. Grantham–which doesn't appear to comport with the First Amendment protections for religious practice we're pretty sure he would defend, at least if applied to Jesus. Who Muslims also revere (this hater stuff gets complicated). But as the UK Daily Mail reports, Grantham might get another chance soon, since his buddy Geert Wilders is back in the news:

Dutch far-right populist lawmaker Geert Wilders is be tried for inciting racial hatred after pledging in March to ensure there were 'fewer Moroccans' in the Netherlands, prosecutors said Thursday…

The case centres on comments Wilders made at a March 19 rally after local elections.
He asked his followers whether they wanted 'fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands?'

When the crowd shouted 'Fewer! Fewer!' a smiling Wilders answered: 'We're going to organise that.' [Pols emphasis]

In a later TV interview, he referred to 'Moroccan scum'.

We know what you're going to say–in America, it's legal to "incite racial hatred!" And that's true in most circumstances. After all, Wilders didn't say exactly how he plans to "organize" fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands. It could be something really nice as opposed to what you're imagining. Think cruise ships, not death marches. Right?

On second thought, let's go ahead and ask Sen. Grantham his opinion anyway.

Some reporters frame Coffman vote as pro-immigrant, when it wasn’t

(Words mean things – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Mike Coffman (left).

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) and Rep. Mike Coffman (left).

Rep. Mike Coffman got a lot of credit from Denver media earlier this month when he voted against blocking Obama's executive order allowing millions of immigrants with family ties in American to temporarily avoid deportation.

The Associated Press, for example, reported Dec. 4 that "Mike Coffman, who has also tacked to the center on immigration, was one of only seven House Republicans to vote to uphold Obama's order from last month." And the Durango Herald offered similar reporting.

But Coffman made it clear in a statement after the vote that he thought Obama's executive order was unconstitutional, and that he was only voting against the legislation because, if passed, the bill would deceive Americans into believing Congress had but a check on Obama's "overreach."

So he managed to cast a pro-immigrant vote, even though he maintained and reiterated his anti-immigrant position in opposition to Obama's initiative.

Some news outlets handled Coffman's duplicity better than the AP did. The Denver Post and Fox 31 Denver, for example, ran Coffman's entire statement, at least giving readers the chance to scratch their heads and wonder about it.

The Post's Nancy Lofholm reported Coffman's vote against blocking Obama's program, but informed readers:

[I]n a statement on his nay vote on the Yoho bill, Coffman made clear his vote had nothing to do with support for Obama's executive orders.

"I voted against H.R. 5797 because, although I strongly believe it is unconstitutional to have immigration policy made through executive orders and without consent of Congress, this legislation will only mislead the American people into believing that we are taking care of the problem when the only way to address President Obama's overreach is either through the U.S. Supreme Court or through the appropriations process," Coffman's statement read

I'm hoping more reporters take notice next time, if Coffman's position on a bill runs counter to his actual vote on it.

Watchdog reporting needed on Gardner

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen.-elect Cory Gardner.

Sen.-elect Cory Gardner.

Yesterday, Rep. Cory Gardner voted to halt Obama's program to defer deportation of millions of immigrants who have children in our country.

Gardner voted in Aug. (during the election campaign) against halting Obama's  program to defer deportations of young immigrants.

The two votes weren't exactly identical, but they're close enough to  make you wonder how Gardner reconciles the two. Yet, I can't find a single reporter who asked him directly about the inconsistency.

Instead,  the Associated PressDurango HeraldFox 31 Denver, the Grand Junction Sentinel,  and The Denver Post all apparently relied on Gardner's self-serving statement saying, in part, that "we owe it to generations past and generations to come to find a solution to our broken immigration system."

It's possible some reporters asked to speak with Gardner himself, but they didn't report this. If so, they should have.

But it's not too late to insist on talking to Gardner, if you're a journalist who has access to him, to cover the basic journalistic function of calling out public officials on their inconsistencies between what's done on the campaign trail and what happens in office.

A baby step in the right direction was provided during a Gardner interview Dec. 3 on SeriusXM's new show, Yahoo! News on POTUS

Host Olivier Knox had the presence of mind to ask Gardner whether his "campaign talk" about making birth control pills available over the counter "can translate into legislative action."

Gardner replied:

It needs to translate into policy action. The FDA has their approval process when it comes to prescription, over-the-counter move. I will certainly continue to support and urge, whether it’s legislative action. We’ve got to figure out the best policy option, the best way forward in making sure we have the continued fight for over-the-counter contraceptives, which I continue and will continue to support and push for. And so, we’ll be talking to the FDA and talking about how best to make that happen. It’s something Gov. Jindal first proposed, ACOG, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, supported the move to over-the-counter contraceptions and it’s something we’ve got to encourage to happen here.

I give Knox credit here for asking the question, even though I'd have pressed Gardner to clarify his plan for implementation of a major campaign promise. Will he seek legislation if necessary? How long will he press the Administration? Etc.

Ditto for Gardner's plan on immigration. If he's against deferring deportations, then what's he for? And how does it comport to his campaign promises?

I'm hoping we get this type of watch-dog attitude from reporters going forward on Gardner.

Immigration Reformers Await Gardner, Coffman Votes Today

UPDATE #2: Salon.com's Luke Brinker:

Endorsing Rep. Cory Gardner’s campaign against Democratic Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado this fall, the editorial board of the Denver Post assured readers that Gardner was not the extremist Udall and Democrats depicted…

It turns out that maybe Gardner didn’t really mean all that stuff about being warm and fuzzy and moderate. Sure, he did what he needed to do during the campaign — voting against a bill, sponsored by Tennessee congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, that would have blocked deportation relief for those who came to the U.S. as youth. But today, Gardner lined up with Tea Party conservatives to support Florida Rep. Ted Yoho’s bill to prevent President Obama from carrying out his executive order granting deportation reprieves to unauthorized immigrants with family ties and expanding the program that allows migrants brought to the country as youth to remain in the U.S.

—–

UPDATE: Rep. Mike Coffman one of only seven Republicans to vote against today's bill symbolically chastising President Barack Obama for his immigration executive order, while Cory Gardner votes yes–FOX 31:

Gardner, who defeated Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and is positioning himself as a moderate within the GOP Senate caucus, voted with a majority of House Republicans in support of Rep. Ted Yoho’s bill that seeks to bar the executive branch from delaying deportations.

Coffman, who pummeled Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff in a re-drawn and newly diverse 6th Congressional District largely on the strength of his outreach to Latinos and other immigrant communities, was one of just seven House Republicans to vote against Yoho’s bill.

Gardner immediately released a statement following the vote, explaining that he opposes the president’s unilateral action but not comprehensive immigration reform overall…

“I voted against H.R. 5759 because, although I strongly believe that it is unconstitutional to have immigration policy made through executive orders and without the consent of Congress, this legislation will only mislead the American people into believing that we are taking care of the problem when the only way to address President Obama’s overreach is either through the U.S. Supreme Court or through the appropriation’s process,” Coffman said.

—–

Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman.

A press release from local immigration reform advocates and the Service Employees International Union challenges Colorado Reps. Cory Gardner and Mike Coffman to align their votes with their campaign rhetoric this year, as the House prepares to vote in symbolic opposition to President Barack Obama's executive order later today:

After two years of failing to take up any attempt at meaningful immigration reform in the House, now Republicans have announced that in response to President Obama’s executive action on immigration, they’ll be voting tomorrow to undo the action. While the vote is largely symbolic as it would not pass in the US Senate, it’s a gesture that Republicans see as a way to express their anger at the President for taking steps within his authority to fix the immigration system on his own.

However, the bill is a direct attack on millions of immigrant families and DREAMers whose lives changed because of this new program and the President’s 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The bill set to be voted on tomorrow was introduced by Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) and it would undo both the programs initiated by the President that have and will allow millions to come out of the shadows and apply for legal status and work permits…

Juan Carlos de la Cruz, SEIU Local 105 Executive Board Member, said “Tens of thousands of undocumented Colorado immigrants have lived here for years, worked hard to provide for their families and do their part. With the President’s new program, they’ll finally be able to get papers and contribute more to this state that’s become their home. I can’t believe that Republicans are already trying to take this away and subject them to deportation all over again. I call on Cory Gardner and his fellow Republicans to reject this extremist bill and stand up for immigrants and their families.”

“President Obama just stepped up to begin solving a problem that Republicans have been refusing to address for years. And, he’s improved the lives of millions by taking action. If Republicans don’t like what he did, nothing is stopping them from passing the bipartisan bill sitting on their desk that would solve this problem once and for all,” said Patty Kupfer, Denver-based Managing Director of America’s Voice. “Cory Gardner has said he’s a new kind of Republican. Well, these are the same old Republican tactics to do nothing and then blame Obama. Tomorrow we’ll see whether or not he’s willing to stand up to his party and do the right thing.”

We haven't heard anything from either Gardner or Coffman on how they intend to vote today, but Gardner's previous statements about President Obama's executive order are not encouraging. Most debate over the legality of Obama's order is among conservatives, including 17 red states that filed suit yesterday–this despite persuasive arguments from legal experts that the executive order was not just legal, but in line with similar actions taken by Republican presidents.

We'll update after today's vote. Did Gardner and Coffman's newfound support for immigrant rights survive November 4th? We're about to get our first indication.

Marble, Lundberg suggest CO should help pay for TX border security program

(But would they give up TABOR refunds to do it? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

As House Republicans are poised to vote to stop Obama's executive order to halt deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants, two Colorado State Senators are saying Colorado should contribute tax dollars to Texas Governor Rick Perry's efforts to secure the southern border.

Calling Obama's action "nuts" and arguing that "you've got to first secure the border," Assistant Republican Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg said in a recent radio interview that Texas has "spent probably $100 million in the last several months helping to show that you can secure the border. I’m all for Colorado stepping up and being a part of the solution."

Tea Party radio host Ken Clark, who asked Lundberg about immigration during the interview, aired Nov. 19 on KLZ 560-AM, responded enthusiastically to Lundberg's idea to give state money to Texas.

"Senator, that is something I would definitely applaud funding. I think that is very important," Clark told Lundberg on air. "I think it affects all of us, even here in the state of Colorado. Senator Marble, what say you?"

"…I agree. It’s exactly the way I feel," responded State Sen. Vicki Marble, who's the new Republican State Senate Caucus Chair.

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Both Marble and Lundberg told Clark they believe Texas is demonstrating to the federal government how to secure the border.

"We could secure the border if the federal government would show some backbone, even as the state of Texas has," Lundberg told Clark.

"If people could just go down [to Texas] and see, and have the opportunity to see what we saw and do what we did, they would understand," Marble told Clark. "This is so critical. And I agree with Senator Lundberg on what he said about the steps to take. I believe it is very necessary."

Lundberg said Texas legislators asked him, during a November fact-finding mission to the Texas, if Colorado could help pay for Texas' border security efforts.

Listen to Marble and Lundberg here:

(more…)

More on why we know immigrants aren’t spreading disease

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Sen. Vicki Marble (R).

Last week I reported that Tea-Party radio hosts Ken Clark (KLZ 560-AM) and Peter Boyles (KNUS 710-AM), along with Colorado's GOP State Senate Caucus Chair Vicki Marble, believe undocumented immigrants, as Marble put it, "bring the diseases. They bring whatever from across the border — things we haven’t seen in decades and thought we eradicated. Our whole country is at risk.”

There's no credible evidence for this, like there wasn't for attacks on immigrants throughout American history, but how do we know this?

"You have to assume that if [undocumented immigrants] get sick they are going to get medical care or die," said Dr. Michelle Barron in the infectious disease department of the University of Colorado School of Medicine.. "There is a long list of diseases that hospitals must report to the health department. Tuberculosis. Measles. Let’s say you came to the emergency room after traveling in Russia, and you have measles. That’s considered 24-hour-reportable. You would then be contacted by the health department and asked questions about vaccinations and where you’ve been. They would identify how big of a scope this would be."

"Public health departments actually report these things," Barron continued. "There's public reporting. The information wouldn’t be hidden in the background because of a political agenda. It’s part of the reporting that has to happen. If there is a trend, that would be investigated."

And, she added, if a serious disease outbreak or threat existed, it would be "all over the news," not left to the investigators on talk radio only.

But what happens if we can’t find the immigrants, I asked.

"The public health department has lots of experience hunting people down," she said. "They will go to your door. There are always the few people who won’t talk or answer the door, but they have their networks of people who will talk, even in homeless communities. Homeless people don’t want to get disease either. They will talk. The public health department is more savvy than people realize."

How to convince skeptics like Clark and Marble?

"Really and truly, you have to trust that the health care workers are doing the right thing," said Barron. "If you have already decided what you feel about this, no matter what evidence you are presented with, you are not going to believe it."

For more information, including a transcript of the Marble interview, click here.