Lamborn “Encouraging” Generals To Resign: No Takers

SATURDAY UPDATE: MSNBC's Steve Benen, writing for Maddow Blog:

It’s not exactly clear from local reports what it is about Obama’s foreign policy that Lamborn doesn’t like, but under the circumstances, it doesn’t much matter. If a member of Congress has concerns about a president’s approach to international affairs, he or she has a variety of options, including introducing legislation limiting the scope of the administration’s policy.
The options do not include – or more to the point, the options aren’t supposed to include – meeting privately with generals, during a war, to urge them to “go out in a blaze of glory.”

As Megan Schrader of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports today, somebody might have gotten the message by yesterday to Rep. Doug Lamborn that this is kind of a problem:

Someone in the audience urges Lamborn to support the generals and troops "despite the fact that there is no leadership from the Muslim Brotherhood in the White House."

Lamborn smiles after the reference to the Islamic group that was active in the Arab Spring overthrow of Egypt's government and subsequent presidency of Mohammed Morsi and responds…

Lamborn told The Gazette on Friday that he wasn't talking about an organized effort or recent events.

"Nothing like that whatsoever," he said.

Doug Lamborn, everybody–elevating the discourse in Congress since 2007.


Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

A story from the Colorado Independent's John Tomasic is raising eyebrows today:

Colorado U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn said that “behind the scenes” he and other Republican members of Congress were encouraging military officers to resign in protest over President Obama’s foreign policy.

“[L]et me reassure you on this,” Lamborn told a small gathering of so-called liberty voters in Colorado Springs on Tuesday. “A lot of us are talking to the generals behind the scenes, saying, ‘Hey, if you disagree with the policy that the White House has given you, let’s have a resignation.’

“You know, let’s have a pubic resignation, and state your protest, and go out in a blaze of glory. I haven’t seen that very much. In fact, I haven’t seen that at all in years.”

Rep. Doug Lamborn's Democratic opponent, retired Air Force Gen. Irv Halter, is unsurprisingly grossed out:

“It is inappropriate for Congressman Lamborn to politicize our military for his own gain,” [Halter] said in an email. “When I joined the Air Force, I swore an oath to execute policy – not make policy. All of our service members take seriously their obligation to serve our nation honorably and follow the chain of command.

“Our elected officials should not be encouraging our military leaders to resign when they have a disagreement over policy. Congressman Lamborn’s statement shows his immaturity and lack of understanding of the American armed forces. Someone who serves on the House Armed Services Committee should know better.”

It's important to recognize how little Rep. Lamborn has cared for basic standards of decorum since President Barack Obama took office. This is the same Doug Lamborn who talked about not being stuck to the "tar baby" of Obama, and who has never missed a chance to attack the President in the most ad hominem terms he can think of every chance he gets–this despite the fact that Lamborn isn't a very smart man, has accomplished basically nothing in his years in Congress, and his "witticisms" generally come off as cheap off-base potshots. After all the churlish things Lamborn has said about the President, at times wildly hypocritical, it doesn't surprise us at all that he would boorishly tell military commanders they should end their lifelong careers because of how much people like himself dislike Obama.

And while Lamborn laments the fact that none of the nation's generals have taken his advice, perhaps it will become apparent to observers that safe-seat blowhards in Congress are the real problem.

‘Bundy Bob’ and the Great Public Land Swindle

Maybe his new moniker ought to be ‘Bundy Bob Beauprez’ because he shares at least one trait with crazy Cliven the Nevada welfare-rancher that got caught-and-released for ripping off the American taxpayer.  Neither think that America’s public lands ought to belong to the American public.

PHOTO CAPTION: This Republican leader–father of America's National Parks and the U.S. National Forest Service–knew how to pose with a horse, like here on a visit to Colorado.

Now Bundy Bob might not have thought this through, threw out some red meat to the kindly crowd of wizened sagebrush veterans, but it turns out Coloradans—like most Americans—love our public lands, our Rocky Mountain and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Parks.  Our purple mountains majesty, our iconic Wilderness Areas, turned 50 this very year, our National Forests and National Wildlife Refuges.  Not apparently Bob Beauprez who thinks they ought not belong to America at all, but be ‘taken over’ by the state. Go ahead, give the Grand Canyon to Jan Brewer and Zion to a committee of the Utah Legislature.

Americans hate this idea, by the way, which still seems to get  recycled more than Reagan quips at a CPAC function, and polling routinely shows it.  Pretty much whenever the question is asked, like here, and here, and here.

With good reason, when lands are taken out of the national estate, they no longer offer the same small ‘d’ democratic ideal of a public domain. Turns out they cost a lot of money to manage, so selling them off to private interests, developers, frackers, miners, and the like is something a cash-strapped state trying to fund tax breaks for the wealthy can ill afford to avoid. Or so it seems when one bothers to actually track down data.  

<< PHOTO CAPTION: Hard-working American relaxes after earning money to have things like National Parks to visit and enjoy, looks out upon God's glorious creation at the awe-inspiring Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, designated with an Act of Congress sponsored by Republicans Scott McInnis and Ben Nighthorse-Campbell.  Notorious real estate extortionist Tom Chapman once threatened to build luxury homes lining the rim of the Black Canyon.  Apparently he would find a sympathetic ear with Colorado Republican candidate Bob Beauprez who wants to seize America's public lands in Colorado for unknown purposes.  

As the orange men (no, not John Boehner trick-or-treaters or monarchists) appear in our woods and meadows, we can remind ourselves of the economic boon that Colorado’s federal public lands provide the state.  And to the people of the state and to all the states. To all of us and our fellow Americans, that all pay for their upkeep.  We can all feel pride that Colorado helps steward this part of a great American legacy–our public lands.

Bundy Bob is out-of-touch, because most Americans agree that our public lands should not be taken away from Americans.  Nor should they be placed up for political chit by an over ambitious already-failed gubernatorial candidate.  Because both ways means Coloradans get swindled.  

Big Line Updates: Democrats Appear to Have Slight Advantage

As Election Day gets closer and closer, we're updating The Big Line on a weekly basis. Remember: Percentages listed indicate our view of the win/loss outcome only (we are not attempting to guess margin of victory).

You can always access the full Big Line 2014, but below we provide a bit more detail about our thoughts on various races.

Mark Udall (62%)
Cory Gardner (38%)
Senator Mark Udall has seen his momentum slow down of late, but that probably has more to do with the natural tightening of this race as October draws near. Public polling in Colorado has become about as reliable as a Ouija Board, though if the final outcome is within the general margin of error of most voter surveys, the data is largely irrelevant anyway. For Congressman Cory Gardner, the one thing that has yet to change remains his biggest problem: He just has too many bad votes on too many important issues. Gardner's campaign also seems to have no idea how to go after Udall effectively; they've been changing tactics like the rest of us change socks.

When all is said and done (or insert cliche of your choice), we always come back to the same question: If you had to gamble everything you had on predicting the winner of this race, would you really choose Gardner?

Neither would we.


John Hickenlooper (60%)
Bob Beauprez (40%)

This race continues to be one of the stranger contests we can remember because of its relatively low profile. Republican Bob Beauprez hasn't run a particularly strong, or interesting, campaign thus far — but perhaps it's enough to ask that his campaign doesn't crater as completely as it did in 2006. Governor John Hickenlooper, meanwhile, has been largely invisible for the last few months. No matter how you look at the race, it's hard to envision Beauprez actually ending up in the Governor's Mansion.


Cynthia Coffman (51%)
Don Quick (49%)
We've had Quick at the top of the Line for a very long time, so what's different? Nothing, really. In fact, it will be hard (post-election) to explain the outcome of this race no matter what happens in November. If this race were taking place in a bubble, we'd give the edge to Quick. But if Democrats win seats for Senate and Governor, history suggests that voters will split their ballot and pick Republicans for other statewide spots.


Andrew Romanoff (55%)
Mike Coffman (45%)
There may still be a "Coffman" in elected office come January; for the first time in 25 years, we don't think it will be Mike. In their third debate of the campaign, Democrat Andrew Romanoff completely demolished Congressman Mike Coffman. One debate does not a campaign make (or something like that), but the momentum in this race is unmistakably on the side of Romanoff. Coffman's campaign has been insisting that their guy is ahead in internal polling numbers — just don't ask for proof.

Check out the full Big Line 2014 or comment below.


Beauprez says he’d have been put “behind bars” if Making Colorado Great ad were true

In his first response to Making Colorado Great’s ad, now airing on Colorado TV, gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez said if the ad were true, “somebody would have probably prosecuted me and put me behind bars.”

Appearing this morning on KNUS 710-AM radio’s Dan Caplis show, Beauprez said:

Beauprez: “Dan, you’re a lawyer, you understand this. The most recent [ad] essentially accuses me of bank fraud. That’s a very, very serious violation. If there was a shred of truth to it, there would be an FDIC investigation. Somebody would have probably prosecuted and put me behind bars, if there was any truth to it, whatsoever. Of course, there is none. That doesn’t matter to Michael Huttner who put the ad together, and the Democratic Governors’ Association, who’s paying for it. You know, it’s just implications, but I think people are seeing it as just grossly over the top, and really a pretty sad indictment on the desperation of John Hickenlooper.”

Caplis told Beaprez that he hopes Gov. John Hickenlooper will be blamed for the ad, even though the ad was produced by Making Colorado Great, which is by law separated from the governor.

Beauprez: ”Well, I hope so, too. I mean, the stuff that they’re implying, directly accusing me of in the ad is just totally false. [It] couldn’t happen, frankly, in a bank sale that is so scrutinized by regulators, multiple exams, total disclosure. I mean, it’s absolutely ludicrous, the claims that — and I wasn’t even in the bank! I was in a management role in the bank, and still they say this. Yeah, anywhere else in the real world, somebody would be answering to the lies that they perpetrated. This is the crazy world of politics.”

Listen to Beauprez’s thoughts on Making Colorado Great’s ad

It’s Been A Big Week for Climate

(From our Executive Director – Pete Maysmith)


NY Climate March

Several days ago nearly 400,000 people gathered to march for climate in New York City. Nearly 400,000 people told our representatives that enough is enough. They stood up to protest the lack of political action that has jeopardized our the future of our planet. Nearly 400,000 brought the world’s attention to climate change again in preparation for the UN Climate Summit that took place Tuesday. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly the entire population of Colorado Springs migrating to New York to demand change.  

These people came from all over the country to demonstrate that climate change is the defining fight of our generation. We have to act. Now. For our kids and everyone who will come after us.  

But the latest news on climate change didn’t stop there.

Business, entertainment, politics, the general population, and even the fossil fuel industry are in agreement: the argument is over. That was yesterday’s news. Today is about action.

Check these actions out —

The Rockefeller family, a name up until now closely tied to the oil industry, divested their philanthropic organization, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, from fossil fuels. No, you aren’t dreaming — the family whose ancestor founded Standard Oil, the monopolistic oil company that spearheaded a generation of unrestrained extraction and corporate growth a century ago, has taken a stand against carbon pollution for the sake of our environment.

Also from the business world, Robert Murray, CEO of the coal company Murray Energy said Monday that those who believe the domestic coal market will recover are seriously deluded. Even those who benefit most from the fossil-fuel industry are recognizing its day is passing.   

Also this week, after public pressure from numerous arenas, Google dropped American Legislative Exchange Council, aka ALEC. The reason? ALEC denies climate change. Soon after, Facebook, Yelp, and Yahoo joined the #ALECexodus.

Hollywood had its say as well. Leonardo DiCaprio made a stirring case to the UN panel on the moral imperative climate change brings our generation, warning the audience that history will judge us based on how we react to it.

Most importantly, our president has not been blind to this growing movement. President Obama gave a resolute speech at the UN summit that cited the inspiring passion demonstrated in New York and in other cities around the world. He reminded the UN that the science of climate change is unequivocal, and that it is harming us faster than we are responding to it.

The general message of the last several days? The debate is over. The people are speaking. Climate change is about people, not politics. Now is the time to move forward, no excuses allowed — and America needs to lead.

Fortunately, fighting climate change means new, sustainable jobs as we have already seen from Vestas in Pueblo or High Noon Solar in Grand Junction.

Small actions add up. First, submit your comment in support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan before the December 1 deadline. Second, if a local business denies climate change or doesn’t conduct the best sustainability practices, talk with them and tell them they are behind the times. Third, vote.

Voting is the most important thing we can do to act on climate this year. Check out our endorsed candidates — all of them know the debate is over and the time to pass meaningful legislation is now. Your vote means climate deniers won’t make it to office. Your vote pushes climate-deniers closer to the fringe. Your vote fights climate change.

Denial, distraction, and finger-pointing have ceased to be viable options for a long time now. We need to accept the reality that a dire existential threat lies before us and rise to the occasion. Heck, even your beer knows it.

Thanks for all you do.



The Hubris of Julie Williams

UPDATE: The College Board weighs in strongly in support of students protesting against the Jefferson County school board's proposed "censorship" of the AP history framework, via 9NEWS:

"The College Board's Advanced Placement Program® supports the actions taken by students in Jefferson County, Colorado to protest a school board member's request to censor aspects of the AP U.S. History course," The College Board said in a statement.

The statement cites concerns with a portion of the proposal submitted by Jeffco School Board Member Julie Williams which reads "Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law."

The College Board states, "These students recognize that the social order can – and sometimes must – be disrupted in the pursuit of liberty and justice. Civil disorder and social strife are at the patriotic heart of American history – from the Boston Tea Party to the American Revolution to the Civil Rights Movement. And these events and ideas are essential within the study of a college-level, AP U.S. History course." [Pols emphasis]

We have a theory who the kids are going to listen to–and it's not Julie Williams.



Yesterday, FOX 31 caught up with Jefferson County Board of Education member Julie Williams–the member of the new hard-right conservative majority school board responsible for a proposal to "review" new AP history curriculum standards, in hope of ensuring they do not "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law," and "present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage" while promoting "citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system." Her proposal has resulted in massive student protests all week in Jefferson County, as thousands of students walked out of class and took to the streets to demand that history "not be a mystery."

Williams has been difficult to reach by the press in the last few days as protests over her proposal raged, so FOX 31's interview was a big chance for her to set the record straight.

Or to make things much, much worse for herself, which is what happened.

FOX31 Denver’s Kent Erdahl spoke with Julie Williams Thursday night, the board member who is at the center of this controversy. The goal was to find out what she has in mind and what her reaction is to the protests which have been taking place for a week now…

Many say the fear comes from Williams` original criteria for her proposed committee which states … “Materials should present positive aspects of the United States,”  “Promote patriotism” and “should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”

“Basically, what I am asking for is for history to be taught complete, without bias. So the good, the bad, the ugly without bias,” Williams says.

Kent Erdahl asked her, “Isn`t discouraging things like civil disobedience bias?” Williams answer, “I`m not talking about changing the history to not teach that. I`m saying we shouldn`t be encouraging our kids to disobey the law and that`s what`s happening right now. [Pols emphasis] Our kids are being encouraged to walk out of the schools.”

As we've noted a few times while covering the antics of the new Jeffco school board majority, Julie Williams is a member of the Neville "political dynasty" of arch-conservative political activists and politicians, which is very well known both in Jefferson County and at the Colorado Capitol. Williams is the sister-in-law of former GOP state Sen. Tim Neville, once again a candidate for the Senate in District 16. Tim Neville's son is Joe Neville, chief lobbyist for the infamous Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. Joe Neville's RMGO this election season is supporting a number of RMGO-endorsed legislative candidates.

And you know, it's a funny thing: RMGO doesn't have much trouble with people breaking laws.


Remember when Sen. Greg Brophy (R-RMGO) said these words from the well of the Colorado Senate? Brophy was hailed as a champion of freedom by RMGO and the gun lobby after he announced he would not obey House Bill 1224, the magazine limit law enacted last year.

Now folks, we don't know about you, but we'd say Brophy's declaration of "civil disobedience" to Colorado's magazine limit law sounds an awful lot like "encouraging our kids to break the law," doesn't it? Do you think the RMGO's "I Will Not Comply" T-shirts (above right) might be "encouraging" people to break the law?

Does Julie Williams own one?

In a way, this sums up the whole problem with any politically biased "review" of history, to smooth over the unsightly parts and not "encourage disregard for the law." Any time you try to review/rewrite/sanitize/whatever you want to call it history–any time you treat history as something you can bend to the politics of the moment–it comes back to bite you, from the civil rights movement to…well, even Greg Brophy.

And yes, sanitizing civil rights history in the U.S. is far worse than making a hypocrite of Greg Brophy. Almost incomparably worse. But Brophy's and RMGO's open support for lawbreaking does one thing very well: it throws the hypocrisy of Julie Williams into sharp relief.

May this news story never end: McInnis regrets apologizing for plagiarism

(From plagiarism to revisionist history, not a huge leap – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Scott McInnis.

Scott McInnis.

Fortunately for someone like me, who will never get enough of the 2010 election cycle, failed gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis will never stop talking about it.

A great article today in the Grand Junction Sentinel states that McInnis has a big regret about how he handled the plagiarism scandal that torpedoed his gubernatorial campaign: apologizing for it, since he says he did nothing wrong at all.

McInnis, now running for Mesa County Commissioner, told the Sentinel he "should have dug [his] heels in" and "brought up more about the Hasan family."

The Sentinel's Emily Shockley reports:

“I didn’t plagiarize, period,” [McInnis] said. But, at the behest of political advisers, he did make apologies for the situation ever happening. That situation involved a researcher ghost-writing the articles in question, which turned out to have several sections lifted from an old work by current Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory J. Hobbs Jr.

“I would have dug my heels in and I would have brought up more about the Hasan family,” McInnis said.

“I’ve used ghost writers my whole career. I would have said I didn’t make the mistake. I wasn’t dishonest then and I’m not dishonest now.”

If he'd done that, maybe we'd have heard more from McInnis' ghost writer, Rolly Fischer, who spoke so eloquently to Channel 7's John Ferrugia at the time, before he went into hiding.

If McInnis had thrown his researcher even deeper under the bus, and dug in deeper, it would have made an already great news story even better.

Beauprez’s Shame

Just when you thought you knew everything about Bob Beauprez, it gets even worse.

During Beauprez's last run for governor, he proved himself to be hopelessly out of touch on issues that matter to women voters. Beauprez was even forced to apologize for claiming in a Colorado Public Radio interview that 70% of African American pregnancies end in abortion–a claim which is ridiculous, offensive, and bigoted in the extreme.

Another portion of this same interview was published this week. Here is what Beauprez says about abortion, even in cases of rape:

RYAN WARNER: A sixteen-year-old girl is raped. She and her parents want to get an abortion for her. They would pay for it, it wouldn't be state dollars. You would support a law preventing her from getting an abortion under those circumstances?

BOB BEAUPREZ: Yes, and I'll tell you very simply why.

WARNER: Please.

BEAUPREZ: I don't think it's the child's fault. And I think we either protect life — all life, especially the most innocent of life — or we don't. The situations of rape or incest, and pregnancies resulting from, are relatively few…

Tell Beauprez right now: this is totally unacceptable.

Not since Todd Akin said that rape victims "have ways" of preventing pregnancy have I heard such a sickeningly offensive comment from a politician. This morning, I hosted a press call with Dr. Rebecca Cohen, an OB/GYN doctor and Family Planning Fellow, as well as a brave survivor of sexual assault to respond to Beauprez's horrifying remarks. You can listen to the recording here.

"Beauprez's statement that pregnancies resulting from rape or incest 'are relatively few' is both offensive and not backed up by medical science," said Dr. Rebecca Cohen. "In 2012, Congressman Todd Akin claimed similarly that 'the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down' in cases of rape. The truth is, women can become pregnant as a result of the crime of rape as much as any other type of sexual intercourse. To infer otherwise for any reason is offensive in the extreme and demeaning to rape victims."

"It is time that we call rape what it is, an act of degradation and violence, perpetrated on the available," said Emilie C. Ailts, a survivor of sexual assault. "For a gubernatorial candidate to make outrageously uneducated remarks about the outcomes of the act of rape is at least willfully ignorant and at most revealing of his basic belief that this variety of violence against women should somehow be glossed over and accepted as reasonable. A rape is life-altering and an indestructible wound in a man or a woman's psyche and is a burden that needn't be compounded by the blind ignorance and bias of a civilized society."

Here's the bottom line: like other conservatives this election season, Bob Beauprez is trying desperately to cover up his fringe record on women's health and reproductive choice. Beauprez claims he wouldn't try to ban abortions as governor in 2014, but in his last run for governor he campaigned on doing just that.

Tell Beauprez now that we're better than this in Colorado–and reject his radical agenda for women.

Women shouldn't trust Bob Beauprez with our most basic freedoms–and it's too big of a risk to put him in a position where he can carry out his backward agenda of forcing victims to have their rapists' babies. The polls are extremely close. We only have a few weeks left to hold Beauprez accountable to his record before the election. Please take a moment to forward this message to everyone you know in Colorado, and urge them to do the right thing.

Thank you. Basic freedoms are at risk. This is too important to ignore.

Amy Runyon-Harms

Would Beauprez sign Gardner’s personhood bill?

(The next logical question – Promoted by Colorado Pols)


In the wake of this week's revelation that Bob Beauprez once said he'd sign a bill outlawing abortion in Colorado, even for a 16-year-old who was raped, you have no choice but to ask yourself this bizarre question:

If Beauprez were governor, and Rep. Cory Gardner's federal persohood bill successfully overturned Roe v. Wade, as it's intended to do, freeing up the Colorado legislature to send an abortion-ban bill to Beaurprez's desk, would he follow through on his promise to sign it?

Yup, there are numerous hypothetical leaps there, and the leaps are significant, but they are smaller than you might think, and outlawing all abortion, even for rape and incest, is actually factually what both these candidates (Beauprez and Gardner) have pushed for throughout their political careers.

So I'll quickly explain the steps involved in the question.

First, the federal personhood bill, co-sponsored by Gardner last year, would have to clear Congress, which is not so far-fetched when you consider that Republicans could take over the U.S. Senate this year. Then the Supreme Court, whose pro-choice majority is already questionable, would have to overturn Roe, based on the new legislation and other factors. Then, and possibly the biggest hurdle, Colorado Republicans would have to get their act together and take power under the dome. (This is already a reality in numerous other states, where Republican majorities would quickly ban abortion if Garnder's bill had it's intended effect.)

Do me a favor and don't roll your eyes at this blog post, because all you have to do is think of Texas and look at all the places in America where abortion rights are already restricted or threatened. Here's a great summary. It could even happen in Colorado. This is an issue that matters.

Bottom line: Along with their anti-abortion allies across the country, gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez and senatorial candidate Cory Gardner could theoretically work together to ban abortion in Colorado and/or in other states. Gardner could push for the federal legislation allowing Beauprez to sign a state bill giving fertilized eggs (zygotes) the same legal rights as you have.

Friday Open Thread

"The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery."

–Harold Wilson


Another Day, Another Massive Protest In Jefferson County

Photo via Twitter

The Denver Post's Jesse Paul reports, the student protests in Jefferson County over the new conservative school board majority's proposal to "review" new AP history curriculum raged again Thursday:

Nearly one thousand students from Columbine and Dakota Ridge high schools walked out of classes Thursday morning, punctuating the fourth straight day of Jefferson County school protests.

Students from Columbine, Lakewood, Bear Creek and Dakota Ridge high schools all walked out Thursday. It was the largest protest in what has been a week of escalating tensions between students and the school board…

Jefferson County School Board Chairman Ken Witt spoke to reporters near the Columbine protest.

"I think it's unfortunate presently to our students being used as pawns," Witt said. He also said he thought the student protests were a union tool and that students were being misled.

While Jefferson County school board conservatives defend their actions, the Post's Eric Gorski updates today on the broad range of divisive actions this new school board has taken, of which the latest "curriculum review" is the most recent example:

In the face of mass protests from students, members of the Jefferson County school board majority Wednesday defended a proposed curriculum committee and called it misunderstood, while signaling the most criticized elements are likely to be cut.

The proposed panel has emerged as the largest point of disagreement yet in the state's second-largest school district, a perennially high academic achiever that saw a conservative, reform-minded board majority voted in 10 months ago.

Like the election last November of three Republican board candidates who ran as a slate, the curriculum controversy is also an example of partisan politics playing a greater role in public education — in this case, involving a charged debate about changes in how Advanced Placement students are learning American history.

The angry denials from conservative board members in today's stories are severely undercut by the wording of the proposal. They are further undercut by fellow board member Julie Williams' stunning response to the protests, in which decries the new AP history curriculum's "emphasis on race, gender, class, ethnicity, grievance and American-bashing"–a diatribe more appropriate from fringe AM talk radio than the board of one of the state's largest and highest achieving school districts. According to Gorski's report, Williams' conservative colleagues John Newkirk and Ken Witt intend to cut the most offensive language from Williams' proposal: presumably, the stuff about how history courses should "not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law," and "present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage."

But the language in the proposal might be a sideshow to the real problem. Although Jefferson County has had curriculum reviews before, the committees involved were generally composed of education professionals and experts. This new proposal for a review of AP history simply calls for a majority vote by the school board. Since the current conservative majority took office, almost every decision made by the board has been a 3-2 party line vote. That means this committee could very easily be stacked by conservative political activists with no educational qualifications–which, incidentally, perfectly describes the new conservative majority on the Jeffco school board! And in case you're wondering if that's what the right really wants, check out this message sent from a supporter of Williams to prospective review committee members:


It's as bad as it looks, folks. Defensive bluster aside, the facts back up the concerns of the protesters. Last year, a failed education funding initiative brought out legions of conservative voters to vote against it, in the process installing a school board majority in Jefferson County that is distantly to the right of the population they are entrusted to serve. Today, however, the unexpected "bonus" of Amendment 66's crushing at the polls, a far-right school board majority in Jeffco, may blow back hard on conservatives in this electoral bellwether county–doing political damage far beyond anything they had hoped to gain.

Between here and there, we expect a lot more protests.

Gardner’s Personhood Dodge Gets Much Harder

Cory Gardner does the Personhood twist.

Cory Gardner does the Personhood twist.

We've been waiting for many weeks now for the Denver Post to revisit the story of GOP U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner's ongoing support for the federal Life at Conception Act–legislation in Congress with functionally similar language to the state Personhood abortion ban ballot measures Gardner disavowed support for soon after entering the Senate race. As we've discussed in this space repeatedly, the Life at Conception Act contains the same references to rights at "the moment of fertilization" as Personhood–which could have the same effect in terms of outlawing certain forms of so-called "abortifacient" birth control. When the Post last reported on this matter, the Gardner campaign's denial that the two measures would have a similar effect was left unchallenged–even after fact-checkers and experts had long debunked it.

Lynn Bartels at the Post finally revisited this story today, and she worked her way through the spin (for the most part) to get to the facts of the situation:

"I was not right," he said. "I can't support personhood now. I can't support personhood going forward. To do it again would be a mistake."

But critics note Gardner remains a co-sponsor of the federal Life at Conception Act, which implements "equal protection under the 14th article of amendment to the Constitution for the right to life of each born and preborn human person."

Coloradan Keith Mason, president of Personhood USA, said the federal proposal mirrors state personhood efforts, which can be interpreted to mean prosecution for those performing abortions, "which I welcome," he added… [Pols emphasis]

"The federal proposal in question simply states that life begins at conception, as most pro-life Americans believe, with no change to contraception laws as Sen. Udall falsely alleges," [Gardner spokesman Alex Siciliano] said.

But as the Colorado Personhood abortion ban's chief proponent Keith Mason says above, and validates with expert opinion, Personhood and the Life at Conception Act are "mirrors" of one another. Gardner said flat-out when he abandoned support for the state Personhood measures, "the fact that it restricts contraception, it was not the right position." Now to be fair, Mason says he doesn't think either measure would ban contraception. But that doesn't matter: if what Gardner claims about Personhood is true, the same must be true of the Life at Conception Act, because they say the same thing. Again, the operative language in the Life at Conception Act:

The terms "human person" and "human being" include each and every member of the species homo sapiens at all stages of life, including the moment of fertilization, [Pols emphasis] cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.

And the full text of Amendment 48, the 2008 Personhood abortion ban measure:


This is why is was so important for Gardner to have removed himself as a co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act before Congress adjourned last week, which he failed to do. There was no way Gardner was going to be able to get to November without this obvious discrepancy being exposed. Either both Personhood and the Life at Conception Act would result in banning birth control, or neither would. And Gardner has already validated the argument that Personhood would "restrict contraception." In short, Gardner is screwed.

Our friend Jason Salzman also has a post up about today's story, noting an error by Bartels on legislation Gardner sponsored in 2007–legislation that would have, despite one misleading clause, likely restricted the legality of some forms of contraception. It's a valid point that further underscores Gardner's long duplicity on this issue as he tries to please the hard-right champions of this issue while remaining electable to higher office. But it shouldn't take away from the many things Bartels got right in this story, things that voters need to understand about the issue before ballots drop.

Despite his best attempts, this is the needle Gardner couldn't thread. And there will be a high price.

Post story misleads readers about Gardner’s 2007 stance on “contraception”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a piece on Colorado's Senate race today, veteran Denver Post political reporter Lynn Bartels misleads readers into thinking a 2007 state personhood bill, sponsored by senatorial candidate Cory Gardner, wouldn't have banned "contraception" when, in fact, the bill would have prohibited the use of common forms of birth control—as well as all abortion, including for rape and incest.

Bartels wrote:

The Udall campaign didn't mention another part of that bill, an omission that bolsters Gardner's argument that he's not opposed to contraceptives. It reads: "Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the sale, use, prescription, or administration of a contraceptive measure. … "

But Bartels didn't point out that other language elsewhere in Gardner's bill mandates that contraception would have to be used “prior to the time that pregnancy could be determined through conventional medical testing.”

The definition of “pregnancy” in the bill is “the human female reproductive condition of having a living unborn human being within her body throughout the entire embryonic and fetal ages of the unborn child from fertilization to full gestation and childbirth” [BigMedia emphasis].

So, under Garnder's bill, some forms of “contraception,” like a condom or diaphragm, are ok, because they unequivocally don't threaten or destroy fertilized eggs (zygotes) or any fetal stage of pregnancy.

But other forms of contraception, like the copper IUD or some forms of the pill, would not be allowed because they are considered abortifacients by the religious right. They are seen to threaten or destroy fertilized eggs. (In 2007, when the bill was drafted by Gardner, more types of hormonal birth control were widely seen as blocking zygotes from reaching the uterus and causing them, even if they got there, to be unable to implant in the uterine wall.)

Hence Gardner's 2007 bill was carefully written to ban both abortion and certain forms of abortifacient contraception, while freeing women to use non-abortifacient methods to their hearts' content.

In 2009, making his position against the use of certain forms of contraception clear, Gardner voted against the Birth Control Protection Act, which simply defined "contraception," without exceptions, as a medically acceptable drug to prevent pregnancy. And Gardner has a clear record of opposing Plan B, also considered an abortifacient by hardline anti-abortion activists.

The Hobby Lobby decision spotlighted the fact that anti-abortion activists still say they’re in favor of “contraception,” as long as some forms are excluded.

In Bartels' piece, Personhood USA director Keith Mason said the federal personhood bill, which Gardner cosponsored last year, could be interpreted to ban birth control.

Here’s the entire section of Gardner's bill referenced by Bartels:


Here's the section defining pregnancy and other terms:





New Poll: Tax Fairness Breaks Senate Race Gridlock?

UPDATE #2: From today's press release:

“Coloradans from all backgrounds prefer a Senate candidate who supports closing corporate tax loopholes and ending tax breaks for the wealthy,” said Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling. “The tax fairness agenda is supported by Colorado voters more than most other top issues emphasized by the Senate candidates.  That suggests that a candidate who supports tax fairness issues could get an edge in this race.”

“When you look at the strength of these numbers, it’s hard to understand why the candidates don’t focus more on tax issues,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness Action Fund. “Colorado families clearly want a fairer tax system and they are more likely to choose a candidate for the U.S. Senate who will fight for it.”

“The results of this poll show that, yet again, Mark Udall falls squarely on the side of the majority of Coloradans when it comes to the issue of corporations paying their fair share,” said Amy Runyon-Harms, Executive Director of ProgressNow Colorado. “Cory Gardner, on the other hand, has voted time and again to give tax breaks to big business and against the best interests of everyday people in our state.”


UPDATE: The Hill's Alexandra Jaffe reports:

PPP also surveyed Coloradans on a series of hot-button issues, including whether they’d be more likely to support a candidate who wants to “protect a woman’s right to choose,” who “believes we just can’t afford ObamaCare” and who wants “to make sure the rich and corporations pay their fair share of taxes.”

ProgressNow Colorado Executive Director Amy Runyon-Harris said the results of the survey show Udall is on the right side of most of the issues polled, and particularly on tax fairness issues. She suggested, however, more needs to be done to inform voters of his positions.

“We’ve got 40-odd days here left [before Election Day] to educate voters about where Mark Udall stands on these issues and where Cory Gardner stands on these issues,” she said, expressing confidence that once voters learned more they’d support Udall.


Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

A new poll by Public Policy Polling released today for Americans for Tax Fairness and ProgressNow Colorado has numbers you won't be surprised by: a statistical tie continuing in the Colorado U.S. Senate race–Cory Gardner technically up 47-45% over incumbent Democrat Mark Udall with 8% undecided. The poll's margin of error is +/- 3.8%.

But as PPP's analysis explains, those aren't the numbers that really matter:

The poll questioned likely voters on a variety of issues that are central to this Senate race, including important tax issues, and found the following: 

• Colorado voters strongly prefer a candidate who supports a “tax fairness”  agenda. Voters across party lines overwhelmingly support a tax system in which the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share of taxes. 

• Tax fairness issues ranked higher than nearly all other major issues being  debated in the Senate race. 

• Support for tax fairness issues runs so strong across party lines that it appears to  be a core value held by the public. Wide majorities of white, African-American  and Latino voters expressed support for tax fairness. A wide majority of women  and a majority of men expressed support for tax fairness issues. A majority of  self-described moderates and independents also supported these positions.

A total of 10 issues were tested. Three of the top five dealt with tax fairness: 

• 79% of likely voters said they would be more likely to support a candidate who wants to close tax loopholes and use the money to create jobs, including 72% of independents and 71% of Republicans. 

• 73% of likely voters said they would be more likely to support a candidate who wants to make sure millionaires do not pay a lower tax rate than the middle class, including 75% of independents and 55% of Republicans. 

• 68% of likely voters want to end tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas, including 70% of independents and 57% of Republicans.

Here are the full toplines and analysis.

For the past several months, the U.S. Senate race has been locked in a very narrow range according to most polls. Udall has held on to an enduring lead with women voters over Gardner, which has kept Udall strong through a summer of millions spent on attack ads against him. If the numbers in this poll are accurate, the issue of fairness in tax policy is extremely fertile ground for Udall to differentiate himself from Gardner. In the last big debate over tax rates on wealthy Americans, extending the 2003 Bush tax cuts, Udall and Gardner were polar opposites. More recently, Gardner has supported the Paul Ryan GOP budget plans, all of which included large tax breaks for wealthy Americans–again, on the wrong side of what looks like a lopsided majority.

Is this issue a breakout opportunity for Udall in a race way too close to call?