Cliven Bundy-Loving AFP Spox Lands Colorado Senate GOP Job

AFP-Bundy

Sean Paige.

Sean Paige.

The local arm of national conservative advocacy group Americans For Prosperity has made a lot of noise in the last couple of years, which is to be expected for a well-funded and staffed group set up by the Koch Brothers to organize the "conservative grassroots." In the last year, though AFP Colorado has run into frequent trouble with our local media–from fact checks of their anti-Obamacare ads that didn't even try to be truthful, widespread condemnation of the group's misuse of photos from the aftermath of the Aurora shooting in a political ad against Mark Udall, and also a bizarre incident last year involving the Nevada standoff between the federal government and rancher Cliven Bundy.

In mid-April of last year as the standoff in the Nevada desert between Bureau of Land Management officials and Bundy raged, AFP Colorado joined its Nevada counterpart in a vigorous defense of Bundy's "right" to graze his cattle on federal land without a grazing lease. A few days later, Bundy launched into a nationally televised rant about "the Negro" that precipitated a dramatic loss of support. Not long after, AFP Colorado deleted the Tweet you see above supporting Bundy along with several others, and for good measure several complete months of their Twitter history–including their defense of using the aforementioned Aurora shooting photos in their ads.

The spokesman for AFP Colorado at that time was longtime Colorado Springs conservative activist and sometime radio host Sean Paige. AFP Colorado and Paige's Twitter accounts were often posting the same items simultaneously in those days, but that ended after the Cliven Bundy mass deletion incident–and sometime after that, Paige himself and AFP Colorado parted ways.

Fast forward to today, as the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

That's right, folks! The very same Sean Paige is now the press secretary for Bill Cadman's Colorado Senate Republican majority. At first blush, you might consider this to be a big mistake on the part of the Senate GOP–whose media operation is already hard-pressed to run cover for the antics of members like Vicki Marble, Kent Lambert, Laura Waters Woods, and Kevin Lundberg while they push "Anti-Vaxxer Bills of Rights" and other such publicly repellent agenda items. Is Paige really the right man for this job?

And that's when it hits you–of course he is.

Who Is Paying 2013 Recall Spox To Tell Tall Marijuana Tales?

GOP spokesperson Jennifer Kerns.

GOP spokesperson Jennifer Kerns.

Longtime readers will remember the name Jennifer Kerns, the California-based public relations flack hired by the recall campaigns against two Colorado state senators in 2013. Although the recall elections were successful, Kerns herself failed rather spectacularly in her role as spokesperson after claiming that mail-in ballots "from Chicago" were fraudulently being turned in for the recall elections. Surprised inquiring journalists were, safe to say, not impressed with Kerns' basically nonexistent justification for this–as if we need to tell you–thoroughly bogus assertion.

Since then, we haven't heard too much from Jennifer Kerns. In October of 2013, Kerns announced a recall campaign against legislators in California over that state's gun safety laws, though the effort appears to have fizzled since then. But it looks like Ms. Kerns has a new gig–spreading some pretty outlandish stories about the effects of marijuana legalization in Colorado. This morning, Kerns published a guest column on the right-wing news site The Blaze titled Colorado’s ‘Pot Pregnancies’ Birthing New Generation of Crack Babies, which is provoking fierce discussion today:

Colorado health professionals are coming forward to report an emerging trend: expectant mothers who are addicted to pot.

The emerging health crisis is creating what is undoubtedly our generation’s version of 1980s “crack babies.”

Health practitioners specializing in the field of Obstetrics & Gynecology spoke to me on condition of anonymity to report an alarming rise in pregnant patients showing up in emergency rooms and doctors’ offices and presenting mysterious complications including abdominal pains, cold sweats, shakiness, insomnia, weight loss and a host of psychological problems…

In order to treat symptoms as well as help alleviate the pain of the withdrawal process, the physicians in Colorado report they have had to reintroduce doses of THC to expectant mothers, which of course leaves their babies susceptible to addiction and the complications above which often must be treated in neonatal units.

The emerging situation is not unlike babies who are addicted to crack. [Pols emphasis]

Now folks, we don't want to be accused of trying to cover up any legitimate problem that may be created/worsened by the legalization of marijuana. Beyond the revenue it generates for our badly cash-strapped state government, we have no stake in the issue one way or the other. We would of course be concerned if there were evidence that marijuana legalization had created a real public safety problem in the state, but there is no evidence we have seen anywhere to suggest that it has. Recent public polling shows that Colorado voters do not regret the decision to legalize marijuana in 2012, even though not as many Coloradans have made the personal choice to partake in newly-legal marijuana as some pre-legalization predictions. As a result tax revenues from legal weed, although a welcome boost for the state's bottom line, have not kept pace with expectations.

So, those are the facts we know about marijuana in Colorado. What we have not seen anywhere, and we're pretty sure that there are better qualified local sources than Jennifer Kerns, is any evidence whatsoever of an epidemic of marijuana-addicted pregnant mothers. For starters, there is no evidence to suggest that cessation of marijuana smoking causes "violent or painful withdrawal" in the manner of crack concaine. We can't imagine anyone suggesting that smoking pot while pregnant is a good thing, but there's no evidence that it causes anything like the major withdrawal symptoms and lasting health effects experienced by so-called "crack babies."

The biggest problem for Kerns is, much like her preposterous warning of ballots being mailed "from Chicago" in the 2013 recalls, she doesn't have any sources to back up her claims. These doctors Kerns, a California-based Republican political spokesperson, is allegedly talking to…don't want to talk to the local press? Because we feel confident that if anything like what Kerns describes was actually happening, those doctors would find a better (or at least a real) news outlet to tell their stories to. In the absence of a credible source, we have to assume this is as bogus as Kerns' last Colorado fish story.

The only question that remains for us is, who is paying Kerns to write this crap? Because as a professional paid spokesperson, somebody is.

Rep. Doug Lamborn Supports Small Government*

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

The Colorado Springs Gazette's Tom Roeder reports on GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn's speech yesterday to the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance:

In an annual address to area business leaders, Colorado Springs U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn pledged to block attempts to close bases and to continue his efforts to grow the Pentagon budget… [Pols emphasis]

Lamborn faces concerns at home over defense cuts that have driven downsizing, including a proposal to cut up to 16,000 of Fort Carson's 24,000 soldiers. With defense spending making up about 50 cents of every payroll dollar in the Pikes Peak region, Lamborn said boosting the Pentagon budget is a top priority.

To get more cash into military coffers, Lamborn wants to exempt the Pentagon from automatic cuts that Congress approved in 2011.

"We should continue the spending caps, but not at the expense of defense," he said.

Lamborn also pledged to squash Pentagon efforts to trim spending by closing bases.

"That's a nonstarter," he said.

One of the fascinating contradictions inherent to representing the arch-conservative but also economically government-dependent El Paso County is the need to give lip service to "small government" conservative fiscal ideology, while simultaneously working to ensure there are no cuts of any kind to the government presence most important to El Paso County–that is, defense spending. After all, cuts to even totally unnecessary and obscure defense projects are more likely to affect Lamborn's defense industry supporters than anybody else. That's how you get a speech vowing to slash taxes and repeal health care reform, but won't even consider the smallest reductions in the nation's enormous defense budget.

It's good that Colorado Springs has Rep. Lamborn, who doesn't sweat the contradictions they live by.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Feb. 24)

Get More Smarter

Put down the snowman and get back to work. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Today the Senate Judiciary Committee will discuss regulating "unmanned aerial vehicles," more commonly known as "drones." Don't tell Vice Chair Kevin Lundberg, but staff at the Capitol expect to be regaled by testimony from tiny little pilots.

No Homeland Security funding for you! Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to figure out what to do after the Senate voted for a fourth time to block funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) because Republicans are still mad that President Obama tried to do something about immigration. Congress has until Feb. 27 to approve appropriations to continue funding DHS. From the Durango Herald:

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has warned that an agency shutdown would result in 75-80 percent of staff members being forced to work without pay, as their jobs are deemed vital to national security. An additional 30,000 would be furloughed.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

 

SHOULD YOU FIND YOURSELF STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…

► The editorial board at The Durango Herald tees off on "right to discriminate" legislation, firing heavy criticism at two bills being sponsored by Republican lawmakers:

House bills 1161 and 1171 would extend constitutionally protected religious liberties far beyond those that hold them, so much so that such liberties could compromise the safety, health and access to goods and services of others…

…Neither bill is appropriate for Colorado and would be a disheartening retreat from the anti-discrimination advances the state has made in recent years. The Legislature should swiftly and decisively kill HB 1161 and 1171.

► The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear arguments today on whether or not Colorado should ban powdered alcohol, which is still awaiting federal approval to be sold in stores. The State House has already voted in favor of a ban.

► Politicos are still buzzing about Patricia Arquette's acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress at Sunday's Academy Awards presentation. Arquette used her time on stage to speak out against pay inequity in America.

► Freshman Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Vail) gets an early lesson on the political perils of "triangulation".

► Ace political reporter Eli Stokols is leaving FOX 31 for a job with Politico in Washington D.C.

► After a two-hour meeting in executive session last night, the Aurora City Council emerged with noe decision on whether to get rid of embattled City Manager Skip Noe.

► Tomorrow is the NARAL Pro-Choice America National Day of Action, which comes as Colorado Republicans prepare to debate yet another bill that looks a lot like Personhood.

 

OTHER LINKS YOU SHOULD CLICK

► If you swallow a watermelon seed, you will not grow a watermelon in your stomach. If you swallow your gum, it will not stay inside your body for 7 years. If you swallow anything, it will not end up in your vagina. Just so we're clear, because Idaho Republican Rep. Vito Barbieri wasn't sure about that last one.

► Guess which Colorado city is asking residents to respond to a "Resiliency Survey?" If you guessed Boulder, well, duh.

► Colorado Senators Michael Bennet (D-Denver) and Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) have asked the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to hold a hearing at the Denver VA Medical Center in Aurora. Hopefully the meeting will also address adding more words to the VA center's name. We suggest "Denver VA Medical Center in Aurora, which is in Colorado in the United States." 

 

ICYMI

► Republican Senate candidate Darryl Glenn needs to work on his definition of a policy statement.

Alaska is now officially the third state to legally sell recreational marijuana.

 

 

State-funded Science Institutions Host Keynote by Fringe Anti-Science Guy

(Seriously? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The wires are abuzz about the latest example of fossil fuel influence attempting to bend science, another Climate Change Denialist hero has been shown as seriously besotted by sooty cash, but failed to note the connection.  His ‘science’ was—in fact—“deliverables” to dirty energy powerhouses, from utilities, coal, oil and gas, the Kochs.

Meanwhile in western Colorado, the Energy Forum & Expo is also creating a stir. 

This annual event hosted by Colorado Mesa University, Colorado Mountain College, and the John McConnell Math & Science Center (along with the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, Club 20, and the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado) is known to include a lot of industry cheerleading.  

The purpose of the Energy Forum & Expo CO's is to educate Colorado citizens on the role we can play in meeting our energy needs today and into the future. 

That the ‘Energy Forum & Expo’ of Grand Junction organized, hosted and sponsored as it is,revolves around Old Energy boosterism is not a new realization, but this year it is something else that is attracting criticism. 

This year the keynote is being given by a fringe climate change denier (and ‘earthquake predictor’), who is a favorite on the Tea Party circuit, wingnut radio, and whose ‘expert opinions’ populate articles, between ads for gold, testosterone boosters, and bunker supplies on sites like NewsMax.

The Energy Forum & Expo is a private event, sponsored by a broad range of energy companies and associations, business groups, and educational institutions.   According to a  letter to the editor that ran in the Grand Junction Sentinelthe speaker was selected by a small group that included long-time oil and gas enthusiast Kathy Hall and Bonnie Peterson, head of AGNC and former director of Club 20. 

But here’s the thing.  Even in a ‘Forum & Expo’ clearly geared toward promoting the energy industry and opportunities of western Colorado, the quality of the information ought to be of top concern. Especially with prominent hosts being the local university, a regional college, and an educational science center. And in that regard the event fails, and badly.  The author of the letter above writes of the keynote speaker:

He has a couple of “reports” linked at the bottom of this page… One of them was “pal-reviewed.” 

Richard Alward, a local scientist-for-real and a commissioner on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, recently raised his concerns in a Sentinel guest column, writing about Casey:

…  he provides no evidence on this website that he obtained any education in engineering or climate science, or that he has been awarded any engineering certifications, or that he has published any research of any kind in any scientific journal.

Rather than a resumé of qualifications, Casey promotes a book he self-published in 2011, provides links to two amateurish “reports” that have never been published outside of his website, and devotes two pages of his website to cataloging five-years of press releases.

Alward blasts the Casey keynote, presented at an event that claimed education:

This is unfortunate, disturbing, and insulting.

All three things are true.  It is unfortunate that an opportunity to provide real education appears squandered.  It disturbing that state funded and other public institutions are 'host' to such a charade. And it is insulting to real science and efforts to offer quality information around critical issues facing Colorado. 

 

 

Huge loss for Denver as Stokols departs from Fox 31

(We'll miss him – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Eli Stokols.

Eli Stokols.

Denver journalism sustained a body blow yesterday, when Fox 31 political reporter Eli Stokols announced he's leaving for a job at Politico in Washington DC.

Quoting a memo from Fox 31 news director Holly Gauntt praising Stokols, Westword's Michael Roberts reports:

Contacted via e-mail, Stokols confirms the move while stressing the difficulty of the decision to take the leap.

"For a political reporter, Colorado is fertile soil," he writes. "I've been lucky to have had strong support from Peter Maroney and my bosses at KDVR Fox31 to focus on that beat year round, even when it wasn't campaign season and a lot of producers would probably have preferred to have me chasing snowstorms or shootings."

He also makes reference to his hosting duties on #COpolitics: From the Source, a public-affairs show that launched last year; to read his preview of the program for Westword, click here.

"I couldn't have asked for more in this job: opportunities to launch a weekly show that has devoted serious air time to serious, substantive conversations about politics, policy and broader issues; opportunities to anchor newscasts five nights a week, something I've actually had a blast doing alongside Aristea Brady on KWGN Channel 2; and opportunities to write longer pieces about Colorado politics for other outlets," he points out.

Stokols covered the day-to-day grind of politics like a newspaper beat reporter, producing daily stories, often about political developments that are seen as too boring for television news. This quickly earned Stokols the admiration of attention-starved partisans on both sides of the aisle.

He pushed out large volumes of information on multiple platforms, making Fox 31 easily one of the go-to sources of political news in Colorado. On top of that, he freelanced long-form pieces for 5280 and op-eds for Politico.

During the last election, Stokols earned the respect of his peers for his direct questioning of Cory Gardner regarding his support of a personhood bill at the federal level but his rejection of personhood amendments in Colorado.

New Jersey Court: Pension ARC Must Be Paid. Colorado PERA: Unnecessary.

Coverage of today's New Jersey Superior Court Decision:

"(New Jersey Governor) Christie has said the pension cuts (failure to pay public pension 'actuarially required contributions, ARC') were necessary to balance the state’s budget and that 'there are no alternatives' to such reductions. At the same time, he has backed record amounts of new corporate tax subsidies — some of which flowed to Republican campaign contributors. He has also vetoed legislation to increase taxes on income above $1 million. That legislation was projected to raise $1.1 billion, which proponents said would have allowed the state to make its required pension contribution."

http://coloradopols.com/diary/66484/colorado-pera-fiduciaries-severely-underfunded-but-see-no-problem

http://www.ibtimes.com/chris-christie-court-overturns-new-jersey-governors-pension-cuts-1825710

Today (2/23/2015), the Superior Court of New Jersey forced the State of New Jersey to abide by a recently enacted statutory requirement that public pension ARCs be paid. In Colorado, the issue of the payment of the Colorado PERA pension ARC isn't even on the table. Colorado PERA's Executive Director recently testified to the Colorado Joint Budget Committee that the PERA ARC need not be paid, i.e., he stated that, although the PERA ARC has not been paid for thirteen years in Colorado, and is not currently being paid, the PERA pension fund needs no additional contributions. As far as I can tell, Colorado PERA is the lone public pension system in the United States taking the position that public pension ARCs need not be paid. See the following article for Greg Smith's testimony:

http://coloradopols.com/diary/66484/colorado-pera-fiduciaries-severely-underfunded-but-see-no-problem

Link to the complete New Jersey court opinion:

http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/pension_payment/FINAL%20decision%202-23-2015.pdf

A few interesting excerpts from the New Jersey Court's opinion:

"And, history has shown that the public pension system and its members routinely have been targeted by administrations of both parties when budget problems arise."

"See Berg v. Christie . . .describing a 'series of Executive and Legislative policy decisions' that 'resulted in underfunding of the pension systems' and deciding whether a legislative act suspending cost of living adjustments for current and future retirees violated the contract clause."

"Now, for the first time, Chapter 78 expressly provides that members of the public pension systems 'shall have a contractual right to the annual required contribution amount being made by the member’s employer or by any other public entity.'”

"The Legislature directed that the required contributions be made annually on a timely basis 'to help ensure that the retirement system is securely funded and that the retirement benefits to which the members are entitled by statute and in consideration for their public service and in compensation for their work will be paid upon retirement.'”

"Indeed, the Governor himself characterized this pension legislation as constituting 'historic reforms' that 'bring to an end years of broken promises and fiscal mismanagement by securing the long-term solvency of the pension and benefit systems.'”

"Under the statutory framework requiring employer contributions, the State is required to make an 'annually required contribution' (ARC) which is composed of the 'annual normal contribution' and the 'annual unfunded accrued actuarial liability contribution' (UAAL)."

"The State has failed to pay its full ARC every year from FY 1997 to 2012."

"The State’s continued failure to make the full ARC payment results in exponential growth in the UAAL through both lost contributions and lost expected return on the investment of the contributions."

"Courts in New Jersey have consistently viewed pension payments as a form of 'deferred compensation' that an employee earns for prior service. ('Deferred compensation benefits have been earned by an employee and are no longer considered a gratuity.”)

“Pension statutes should be liberally construed . . . because they represent deferred compensation for a government employee’s service.”

"Despite the broad reach of the doctrine of sovereign immunity, there are several exceptions to the doctrine. For example, the doctrine does not apply if a plaintiff seeks relief from state laws that violate the Federal Constitution."

"This court and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey previously held in a similar suit brought by the NJEA, challenging Chapter 78’s suspension of the COLAs and seeking enforcement of plaintiffs’ contracts with the State, that these types of claims essentially seek specific performance of their contracts with the State."

"As these two decisions explain, actions seeking specific performance of a contract do not fall under Ex parte Young’s exception from the doctrine of sovereign immunity, largely because they seek retroactive, rather than prospective, relief."

"Notably, both the Federal and the State Contract Clauses speak of a violation of the Clause’s guarantee as an 'impairment.' Consequently, when the Legislature chose to use the term 'impairment' in Chapter 78, it did not intend to limit plaintiffs’ constitutional protections to the New Jersey State Constitution."

"Like any private party to a contract, then, the State may repudiate a contract, as long as it is willing to pay the damages resulting from the breach."

"Consequently, although plaintiffs’ Federal Contract Clause claims are not necessary to the outcome of this case, the court concludes that plaintiffs have properly asserted claims arising under the Federal Constitution, which support their parallel claims arising under the New Jersey Constitution."

"The court is unwilling to rely on what has now become a succession of empty promises. Defendants’ assertions about the health of the fund also do not take into account the fact that the State’s failure to make its payments in a timely fashion results in the loss of interest on the investment of money that otherwise should have been put into the pension funds. The continued failure to make timely payments therefore causes the unfunded liability to increase exponentially."

"Further, after a State binds itself in a contract, 'a State is not completely free to consider impairing the obligations of its own contracts on a par with other policy alternatives.U.S. Trust Co."

"Although a state’s asserted justifications for impairing private contractual obligations are typically given significant deference by the courts, less deference is accorded to a state in regard to public contracts because a state’s self-interest is at stake."

" . . . a contract impairment will be considered unreasonable if the State considered impairment of the contract right “on a par with other policy alternatives. U.S. Trust"

"The court cannot allow the State to simply turn its back on its obligations to New Jersey’s public employees–especially in light of the fact that the State’s failure to make its full payment constitutes a substantial blow to the solvency of the pension funds in violation of plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, and due to the fact that the terms of the UAAL payments were set forth–and even publicly endorsed–by the Governor himself."

"The complaints raise a number of other claims that were not argued by plaintiffs either in the moving briefs or in the reply briefs. For example, the complaints allege estoppel, unconstitutional taking, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing . . ."

http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/pension_payment/FINAL%20decision%202-23-2015.pdf

"Friend" Save Pera Cola on Facebook. Put an end to official deception by Colorado governmental agencies.

Um, That’s Not a “Policy,” Darryl Glenn

Darryl Glenn military

El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn was the first official Republican candidate to announce a campaign for U.S. Senate in 2016. He'll always have that to remember, we guess, since it's not likely that he'll be the last remaining GOP candidate. So enjoy him — and his bizarre campaign logo — while you can.

Here's Glenn's latest email to supporters, titled "My Policy Statement on Use of Force." You may notice, as we did, that Glenn's "policy statement" doesn't…actually contain…a policy. The full email text is available after the jump, but here's the heart of the non-policy policy statement (bold text is how it originally appears):

The politicians in …Washington DC and other nation’s capitals do play a necessary role in providing funding, resources, and intelligence to their military commanders. However, a politician fighting a war through policy dictates thousands of miles away has never been successful as history teaches time and again.

The rapid advancement of Islamic jihadists throughout the Middle East is a significant threat to national security interests of the United States and other nations. My policy is to create the dialog among the politicians, military leaders, and US citizens to examine and decide the best use of military operations against Islamic jihadists. We must clearly define our goals and operational objectives, the scope of the radical Islamic threat and then give our military commanders the flexibility to complete the mission.

Sounds good! Er, whatever.

 

My Policy Statement on Use of Military Force
Protecting Your American Dream by Protecting Our Homeland

Dear Friends and Supporters:

Regardless of whether we manage military operations under the War Powers Resolution of 1973, the AUMF of 2002, or the proposed AUMF of 2015, the best solution to eradicating the Islamic jihadists is to empower the military commanders to use the multi-national resources available to them and eliminate the threat. The politicians in …Washington DC and other nation’s capitals do play a necessary role in providing funding, resources, and intelligence to their military commanders. However, a politician fighting a war through policy dictates thousands of miles away has never been successful as history teaches time and again.

The rapid advancement of Islamic jihadists throughout the Middle East is a significant threat to national security interests of the United States and other nations. My policy is to create the dialog among the politicians, military leaders, and US citizens to examine and decide the best use of military operations against Islamic jihadists. We must clearly define our goals and operational objectives, the scope of the radical Islamic threat and then give our military commanders the flexibility to complete the mission.

If you want to help me spread this message, I need you help today.

Would you please consider contributing to my campaign for U.S. Senate? Please take a moment and make a donation to my campaign to help Restore Your American Dream. Please consider contributing monthly either $5, $10, $20 or $100 to help move us forward toward spreading our message to the voters of Colorado. If you have the ability to make the maximum contribution of $5,200, it would greatly help move our campaign forward. You can contribute by visiting my website: ElectDarrylGlenn.com or by returning your check to:

The Committee to Elect Darryl Glenn, P.O. Box 62667, Colorado Springs, CO 80962. I know and believe that America is the greatest nation on this earth and we must fight to defend our freedoms.

I cannot do it without your support. Thank you for taking the time and making the commitment to Restore Your American Dream.

Regards,

Darryl Glenn
U.S. Senate Candidate

Patricia Arquette Oscar Speech Timely for Colorado

Patricia Arquette Oscar

This is the face we imagine Patricia Arquette would make after listening to Colorado Republicans dismiss pay equity concerns.

In case you missed it last night, actress Patricia Arquette gave a rousing acceptance speech that put equality issues front and center. As The Daily Beast explains:

"It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!" the actress proclaimed.

It was the Oscars moment that caused Meryl Streep to jump out of her seat, jab her finger in the air, and scream, “YES!” over and over again.

The 87th annual Academy Awards had reached a critical lull in the proceedings. But the snooze-worthy broadcast was momentarily salvaged by journeywoman actress Patricia Arquette, who delivered a rousing speech upon accepting the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Boyhood.

First Arquette thanked her fellow nominees, the cast and crew of the 12-year project Boyhood, and her friends and family, “who all work so hard to make this world a better place.”

Then she brought the house down.

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” shouted a fiery Arquette. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

The entire place—Streep and seatmate Jennifer Lopez included—rose to their feet for the night’s biggest standing ovation.

Last month, Senate Republicans effectively killed off the Colorado Pay Equity Commission when they used a Party-line vote to prevent renewing the Commission. Senate Republicans' skill for poor timing brought more attention to the issue; the vote against the Commission came one day after new numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that women on average will earn about 77.9% of what men earn. State Rep. Jessie Danielson (D-Wheat RIdge) has since announced her own legislation (HB-1133) to continue the work of the Pay Equity Commission.

If you're wondering why anyone would be opposed to pay equity for women, well, you're not alone. But by 11:00 this morning, conservative activist Jessica Peck had already published an Op-Ed in the online version of the Denver Post in which she said…this:

Time and again, studies and data and antecdotes show that we do have gender equality in the United States. That is, when women act like men, we make as much or more money than men. Here's what we have to do: leave our babies in the hands of others and immediately return to work post-birth; leave our elderly parents in the hands of others to age — and die — so we can work; and aggressively negotiate salary and wage increases…

…Now, let's negotiate wages like the boys and we've got the rest covered. I run my own business. It's tough at times, but never have I ever had a male client suggest I should demand a lower wage just because I'm a girl. [Pols emphasis]

Uhh, come again? Does Peck want to be paid a lower wage because she is a woman?

Arquette's speech should only bring more attention to Rep. Danielson's legislation, and it's going to make a House vote on HB-1133 pretty interesting. Democrats can pass this bill out of the House on their own, but how could any Republican in an even halfway competitive district go on the record with a 'NO' vote now?

Freshman Democrat Learns Triangulation Stings A Little

Sen. Kerry Donovan (D).

Sen. Kerry Donovan (D).

As the Aspen Times' Scott Condon reports, newly elected Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail is taking heat from her Democratic constituents–otherwise known as her base–over her co-sponsorship of the GOP's bill to repeal the 15-round gun magazine limit passed in 2013:

Donovan, a Vail Democrat, came under fire at a town hall meeting at the Aspen Square Condominiums for signing on as a co-sponsor on a Senate bill to repeal a law that banned possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines. The controversial 2013 law limits magazines to 15 rounds or less…

“This is a very controversial, passionate issue,” Donovan said. “Yes, my signing on has caused friction.”

She acknowledged that her position has “pissed off” part of her diverse district — primarily residents in the liberal strongholds of Aspen, Vail and Crested Butte. But nearly all residents in the rest of the district — which includes Delta County, San Luis Valley, Leadville and Buena Vista — supports the repeal of law, she said.

And then, as Condon reports, Donovan let a little realpolitik slip:

Donovan also seemed to downplay her support of its repeal by noting the bill will likely face a quick death in the House if it advances, as expected, from the Senate. Democrats hold a slim edge in the state House. Republicans control the state Senate by one vote.

“I don’t believe it makes it out of the House,” Donovan said of the bill. [Pols emphasis]

That didn’t placate the Aspen crowd…

So no, it was not wise for Sen. Donovan to use the likely death of a bill she is co-sponsoring at the hands of fellow Democrats to deflect criticism for her co-sponsorship of said bill. The average voter, and especially more literate voters who show up to town hall meetings, actually really hate excuses like that. It should be noted in her defense that Donovan made a promise to vote to repeal the 15-round limit during her campaign, though there were plenty of other issues in her race last year against Republican Don Suppes for voters to chew on besides guns. It's anybody's guess how many votes Donovan may have picked up by opposing the magazine limit–but we're inclined to believe single-issue gun voters in SD-5 voted Republican no matter what she said. And obviously, not enough did.

In the long run, we don't think this will hurt Sen. Donovan politically, mostly because we don't think gun magazines will be an issue by 2018 when she is back up for election. Guns didn't factor in 2014 enough for Colorado Republicans to perform over mean even in a national wave year–not enough to take both chambers of the legislature, or take down our incumbent governor. That's why the magazine limit isn't going to be repealed.

So maybe it's good to learn the limits of triangulation now? Because you can't win without your base.

Does Obama “Love America?” Coffman Ought To Know This One

coffmannotanamerican

Over the last week, Republican luminaries including a couple of 2016 presidential short-listers got caught up in an interesting debate over a pressing political question–does President Barack Obama love America? Not in some abstract sense–when that Alan Jackson song about 9/11 comes on the radio, does it make President Obama cry?

Rudy Giuliani.

Rudy Giuliani.

Okay, you're right. This is neither an interesting debate nor a pressing political question. Nonetheless, GOP-leaning PJ Media reports that conservative minds want to know:

Every Republican, especially those with an eye on 2016, is now being asked to confirm or repudiate the opinion of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on President Obama’s feelings toward America.

“I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country,” Giuliani said at a Wednesday dinner in Manhattan with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker…

President Barack Obama, with close ally Satan (right).

President Barack Obama, with close ally Satan (right).

Now, it's been a long time since anybody seriously thought of the once-popular Rudy Giuliani as "America's Mayor," and in truth he's been sliding into irrelevance for some time, apparently trying to compete with fellow washed-up New York blowhard Donald Trump for who can utter the most outrageous statement about black people. Graded on the curve, Giuliani's rant about Obama not "loving America" isn't really all that noteworthy.

What gets a little harder to explain, though, is when much more politically viable Republican politicians, including some who might actually want to be President themselves someday, voluntarily start trafficking in the same shallow invective as the Giulianis and Trumps of the world. Washington Post:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a prospective Republican presidential contender, said Saturday he does not know whether President Obama is a Christian.

“I don’t know,” Walker said in an interview at the JW Marriott hotel in Washington, where he was attending the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

Told that Obama has frequently spoken publicly about his Christian faith, Walker maintained that he was not aware of the president’s religion…

TIME Magazine:

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal stood by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s criticism of President Obama Wednesday.

“The gist of what Mayor Giuliani said – that the President has shown himself to be completely unable to speak the truth about the nature of the threats from these ISIS terrorists — is true,” Jindal, a likely GOP presidential candidate, said in a statement to TIME. “If you are looking for someone to condemn the Mayor, look elsewhere.” [Pols emphasis]

As the gratuitous questioning of President Obama's faith and "love of America" ramped up last week among allegedly serious Republican politicians, our thoughts travelled back–to a May 2012 dinner hosted by the Elbert County, Colorado GOP. Rep. Mike Coffman responded to a loaded audience question about President Obama's citizenship, saying "I don’t know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don’t know that. But I do know this, that in his heart, he’s not an American. He’s just not an American."

Within a few days, Coffman was in full damage control mode, and his robotic "I misspoke and I apologize" answer delivered over and over on camera made him a nationwide laughingstock–not a career-ender as it narrowly turned out that year, but without a doubt the greatest public embarrassment of Coffman's long career in politics.

Well folks, so much speculation by high level Republicans about Obama's love of country should make Coffman's views on Obama's American-ness relevant all over again. Don't you think? At the very least, Coffman could give his colleagues a lesson in how not to apologize! Either way, it does appear this strange xenophobic uncertainty about America's first black President is still a problem for Coffman's party.

Which means it's still a problem for Coffman.

Get More Smarter on Monday (Feb. 23)

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Snowy enough for 'ya? The Colorado Pols Quadruple Doppler (with cheese) predicted snowfall totals somewhere between 2 inches to 17 feet, so we were right on target. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Colorado Legislature is out today due to inclement weather and poor road conditions. In Washington D.C., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will push for another budget vote in an attempt to avoid a partial government shutdown that could have broad impacts across the country. As Politico reports:

The Kentucky Republican could cave to Democrats’ demands and abandon the GOP’s attempt to tie the Department of Homeland Security’s funding to an attack on President Barack Obama’s immigration policies. But pushing through a short-term continuing resolution for DHS would bring howls from the right, postpone the immigration showdown for only a couple of weeks or months, and most likely fail in the House. McConnell would gain nothing even if he could pass such a CR, which is far from a sure thing.

Or, as some conservatives outside the Senate want, McConnell could employ the “nuclear option” to abolish the filibuster on legislation, allowing Republicans to pass the $39.7 billion DHS bill with a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than 60. But that would mean destroying the Senate traditions he’s vowed so loudly over the years to protect — and Obama would still veto the bill.

► State Governors are also in Washington D.C. today to blame their problems on President Obama. The Associated Press reports on the annual winter gathering of the National Governor's Association (NGA), where a showdown over the $40 billion Department of Homeland Security budget should be the main topic of discussion. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is the Chair of the NGA, and will try to steer conversations at the White House in a positve direction. Says Hickenlooper, "When we go to the president our goal is to try to be more constructive."

Get even more smarter after the jump…

 

SHOULD YOU FIND YOURSELF STANDING NEAR A WATER COOLER…

► Powdered alcohol, drones, and gun magazines will be on the agenda when the Colorado legislature returns to the State Capitol. Or, as Dudley Brown might call it, "Block Party!"

► Senate Republicans approved legislation on Friday that would punish communities for trying to exert local control over oil and gas drilling. The move comes ahead of an expected report this week from a Colorado oil and gas task force.

► Colorado may join Calfornia and New Jersey in enacting a statewide ban on so-called "gay to straight conversion therapy." Rep. Paul Rosenthal's HB-1175 is based on the idea that mental health is a scientific field, and should therefore be held to scientific standards (The American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973). The Iowa state legislature is currently debating similar legislation.

► As Eric Gorski of the Denver Post reports, Colorado Republicans are having trouble figuring out where to position themselves on education issues now that they have control of the State Senate:

Colorado Republicans are backtracking on their support for existing standards and state-mandated tests, fueled by more conservative lawmakers, the politicizing of the Common Core state standards and testing backlash that puts Republicans on the same side as teachers unions.

► Former Republican state Rep. Jared Wright, (you may remember him for leaving a loaded gun in a House committee room, among other things) is the new publisher of the Colorado Statesman.

 

OTHER LINKS YOU SHOULD CLICK

FOX News broadcaster Bill O'Reilly did not take home the award for Best Actor at the Academy Awards last night.

► Tomorrow is Election Day in Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to win re-election even as he loses supporters.

President Obama's approval ratings are on the rise in Colorado.

 

ICYMI

► Republicans will vote for State Party Chair on March 14, with incumbent Ryan Call facing a tough challenge from former Adams County GOP Chair Steve House. Over at the Colorado Statesman, Ernest Luning looks at the endorsement list for each candidate. Freshman Congressman Ken Buck, who was elected to serve as the Freshman Class President in Congress, is showing his leadership skills by sitting on the fence.

► The next Mayor of Colorado Springs is likely to get a pay raise. Former Attorney General John Suthers is the frontrunner in that race.

 

Former GOP State Rep. Jared Wright says he’ll “strive to be fair” as publisher of Colorado Statesman

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Jared Wright.

Jared Wright.

The Colorado Statesman, which reports the nitty gritty of politics that's loved by junkies and is hard to find these days outside of partisan blogs and radio shows, has appointed  a former Republican politician as publisher: Jared Wright,  former state representative from Mesa County.

In a touching good-bye column Friday that conjured a fading era in local journalism, current publisher Jody Hope Strogoff announced her departure from the newspaper.

Over the weekend, Wright answered a few questions via email regarding his new job.

Jason Salzman: I was glad to read that Judy Hope Strogoff thinks that you’re “aptly qualified” to run the Statesman. But, still, you’re obviously known as a partisan Republican, albeit with a libertarian streak. Will you assure readers of the Statesman that you’ll try, as publisher, to be fair to all sides, and why should we believe you?

Jaered Wright: Thanks for your questions, Jason. First, just as a point of clarification, The Statesman’s long-time publisher’s name is Jody Hope Strogoff. [Jason Salzman: I've made the same mistake before, and I regret the error.]  I have a deep respect for Jody’s long-time dedication and contributions to The Statesman and Colorado political reportage in general. Jody is not going away and will continue to be a mentor to me, a contributor to the newspaper and certainly an asset to this institution.

Yes, readers can be assured that I will strive to be fair. When I was an elected representative, my job was to represent the people of my district – a largely conservative district at that. My role has now changed significantly. Now, my duty is to deliver objective, balanced and complete news reporting to the people of this state, something The Statesman is known for as an institution, and something I take very seriously. For proof, keep reading The Statesman and you will see it within our pages.

Also take a look back at some of my political cartoons. In my artwork, you will see I don’t pull punches from either side of the political aisle editorially.

As publisher, I have full respect for the divide that must exist between the business side of the publication and its editorial department.

Having been on the other side of the microphone as an elected official, I know what objective reporting looks like. I also know what biased, agenda-driven reporting looks like. The former is what we must strive for. It is vital for a free society.

Salzman: Many were way surprised that you got the publisher job. Do you want to explain how it came to pass that you were named publisher?

Wright: I was surprised too! Sometimes life delivers unforeseen opportunities, and this was one I could not pass up. I have always been an avid reader of newspapers and an ardent consumer of political media in general, so I count this chance to contribute directly in the field of journalism an exciting opportunity, and one that I take very seriously.

Salzman: What are your plans, on the editorial side, for the newspaper? Do you have a vision for the Statesman beyond what we’ve seen in recent years?

Wright: My two biggest goals for our editorial department are modernization and growth. The Statesman is truly an institution in this state – it’s been around since 1898. My vision for the newspaper is to carry forward its history of fair, objective and unique, insider-oriented Colorado political reporting while also rejuvenating it to better serve modern news consumers – people who are busy professionals reading their news on their smartphones while taking RTD into work, reading a quick story on their laptop on lunch hour, catching up on the latest chatter under the gold dome while at their kid’s soccer match, etc. Providing this distinctive, high-quality news content to a growing, diverse and sophisticated audience throughout Colorado is the focal point of my vision for The Statesman

Salzman: Do you plan to make the newspaper more web-friendly?

Wright: Yes, as you know, a simple, robust, well-designed website is absolutely key to media success in the 21st century.

Salzman: What political publications and political reporters do you admire?

Wright: In feel lucky to be working now for a publication where our lead reporter also happens to be one of my longtime favorites. Ernest Luning is a very talented reporter with investigative acumen – well connected, fair, and a tremendous writer. I’ve read his stories in The Statesman for years now, and he does a great job.

Salzman: Sources tell me that the loss of legal ads have put the Statesman’s future in jeopardy. Is it true that the newspaper is on shaky financial ground and, if so, do you have any specific plans to solidify things?

Wright: It’s no secret that the print industry has been in the midst of some turbulence and will continue to face challenging times ahead – no matter what the publication – but I also see big opportunities within grasp so long as we have positioned ourselves on the cusp of the wave. Being quick on our feet and adaptive to technological changes and trending methods of media consumption will be vital.

Salzman: Sources tell me that Larry Mizel almost certainly owns a majority share of the newspaper. Can you tell me if this is true?

Wright: As with many other well-known, privately owned publications and media conglomerates across the country – many of which deliver premium, award-winning news content – it is not our policy to give out the names of our investors.

Salzman: Any other comments?

Wright: Yeah, yeah – I know. I’m the guy that made the stupid mistake at the Capitol. I’m not perfect. [Jason Salzman note:  Wright is best known for leaving a loaded gun in a House committee room.] I’ve screwed up a time or two in my life. And when I do, I admit it, fix it, learn from it and move on. The future of The Colorado Statesman is very important to me. I only look back to learn from my missteps. Otherwise, I’m looking 100% forward.

Salzman: Thanks again

Wright: Thanks for your contributions to Colorado’s media landscape, Jason, and for participating in what is clearly not always an easy or profitable career. I appreciate the opportunity to interview with you.

Legislative Snow Day Postpones “Gunmageddon II”

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As many of our readers already know, the Democratic-controlled Colorado House and GOP-controlled Colorado Senate both agreed to stay home today, owing to the inclement weather over the weekend that dropped anywhere from 5 inches to two feet of snow across the state. As it happened with this storm, Denver itself saw comparatively less snowfall than many western suburbs, not to mention the mountains–so anyone you see whining about the legislature being wussies…well, they're probably in Denver.

Closure of the legislature does mean the postponement of a few important scheduled hearings scheduled for today, and public rallies prior to those hearings. The House State Affairs Committee was set to kill two bills including one from Rep. Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt to expand "conscientious" rights to discriminate, prior to which a coalition of groups led by LGBT advocacy organzation One Colorado was set to rally in the West Foyer. But without question the big loser from today's closure is the gun lobby, which was planning a major show of support for their Senate bill to repeal the 15-round magazine limit passed in 2013. Dudley Brown implored his members to show up today to testify rain or shine:

If you can brave the weather safely, I hope you’ll plan on attending the hearing, because we need your support…

Even though Democrats in House leadership have vowed to kill any pro-gun bill this year, they know that RMGO members like you have them backed in to a corner. 

They remember very the historic political consequences of backing Bloomberg-inspired gun control laws in Colorado. 

Thanks to the activism of RMGO members and supporters like you — holding gun grabbers accountable — we have an opportunity to repeal these gun control schemes. 

But in order to succeed, we need to keep up the pressure.

So, if you can make it, please mark your calendar for Monday at 1:30pm.

As we've discussed and news reports have commented on this year, the gun lobby has had surprising trouble replicating the crowd of angry supporters they were able to draw to the Capitol in 2013. The most obvious reason for this is that the actual effects of the gun safety bills passed two years ago have not lived up to the hyperbolic predictions. Even the most ardent dues-paying Rocky Mountain Gun Owners member can see today that gun ownership in Colorado has not been "effectively banned," and that they can still buy magazines for their firearms–despite Jon Caldara's promise that "if this law passes, almost all guns in Colorado will never be able to get a magazine again." Now that these wild predictions have been debunked by reality, it's understandably harder to keep the outrage at fever pitch.

Today was another chance for the gun lobby to show their strength, and they got snowed out. It's not Dudley Brown's fault, but will all of his members who made arrangements to testify today be able to reschedule? It's surely not going to help.

Just remember, it was a bipartisan decision.