New Romanoff Ad Rips Coffman on Abortion

A press release from Democratic CD-6 candidate Andrew Romanoff puts incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman on the hot seat over banning abortion and the Personhood ballot measures:

Romanoff's third TV ad, released today, focuses on Congressman Mike Coffman's long history of denying women the right to choose, supporting the Personhood amendment, and restricting reproductive rights. The ad features Karen, a resident of Colorado's 6th Congressional District, who emphasizes the personal nature of making these decisions and the importance of these rights.

"This is a matter of fundamental freedom.  Women should have the right to make their own health care choices," said Romanoff. "No one should have to surrender her most personal decisions to a politician, an employer, or anyone else."

"These are incredibly personal decisions that every woman must make for herself, but Congressman Coffman has pushed an agenda that takes these decisions out of our hands and puts them into his," said Denise Baron, spokeswoman for the Romanoff campaign.  "For 25 years, he's attempted to restrict our rights by voting to criminalize all abortions, outlaw common forms of birth control control, and restrict access to health care."

Last week, Congressman Coffman launched the first TV ad of his campaign, a brazen attempt to whitewash his decades-long opposition to women’s equality. The Romanoff campaign, along with state leaders, local activists, and CO-06 voters, launched a social media campaign to highlight the more than 50 votes the congressman has taken in the past four years to perpetuate gender discrimination and restrict women's rights.  Romanoff's new ad highlights Rep. Coffman's votes and actions to restrict women's reproductive rights. 

A big research dump of Coffman's anti-choice votes follows after the jump. Republicans surely aren't happy to see this ad, hitting on an issue they're as tired of as they are fearful: but there's a distinct lack of angry responses as of this writing from Coffman's campaign.

The reason may be simple: drawing further attention to this issue just makes it worse.

Mike Coffman's Record Opposing Women's Right To Choose
 
Women's rights and health organizations rate Rep. Coffman's record against women's interests.

 

2014: 0% from Planned Parenthood 

 

 

2013: 0% from NARAL Pro-Choice America

2013: 33% from National Breast Cancer Coalition (2013-2014)

2011: 0% from American Congress of OBGYNs

Coffman has a 25 year history of anti-choice activism

August 2008: Colorado Right to Life wrote, “Mike Coffman also has a decades-long history (20 years or more) of not just support, but active involvement in the pro-life community, over and above what would be expected of any typical Republican official. Mike Coffman has been a good and consistent friend to CRTL for many years, up to and including the last couple of years when even CRTL's strongest legislative supporters (including Harvey) found excuses not to attend CRTL events.” [Colorado Right to Life Blog, 8/11/08]

 

Coffman supported and even donated to the Personhood amendment, which would outlaw common forms of birth control

 

2008: Coffman responded to a Colorado Right to Life Candidate Questionnaire, stating “Yes” in response to the question, “Do you support the 2008 Colorado Personhood amendment effort to define ‘person’ to include any human being from the moment of fertilization?” [Colorado Right to Life, Candidate Questionnaire, 2008]

  • April 2008: Coffman made a personal donation to Colorado Right to Life in 2008, when the organization was leading the effort to get the amendment on the ballot. [Colorado Secretary of State, TRACER database, contribution from Michael Coffman of $75 to Colorado Right to Life Committee, 4/4/08]  
  • June 2008: The Denver Post wrote that the amendment “would go far beyond its intended purpose of outlawing practically all abortions… [Some] forms of birth control…would be classified as homicide under the proposal.” [Denver Post, 6/2/08]

2010: Colorado Right to Life endorsed Coffman for reelection, saying Coffman “supports personhood” and is “pro-life with zero exceptions.” [Colorado Right to Life blog, 10/2/10]

Coffman supports allowing employers to deny birth control coverage to their employees

 

November 2011: Coffman co-sponsored a bill to let employers deny coverage for any service they deem against their conscience. Called the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, the bill "Declares that nothing in PPACA shall be construed to authorize a health plan to require a provider to provide, participate in, or refer for a specific item or service contrary to the provider's religious beliefs or moral convictions." [HR 1179, Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, co-sponsored 11/3/2011

September 2013: Days before the government shutdown, Coffman again voted for a “conscience clause” that would “allow employers and insurers to opt out of preventative care for women which they find objectionable on moral or religious grounds. That prominently includes birth control, which most insurers are required to provide for free under current Obamacare rules.” [CNN, 9/28/13; H. J. Res. 59, Vote #498, 9/29/13]

August 2014: Coffman’s campaign manager told reporters that Coffman supports the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which allows employers to deny birth control coverage to their employees.  [8/14/2014]

Coffman votes to defund Planned Parenthood

 

February 2011: Coffman voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood provides millions of women access to affordable contraception and life-saving cancer screening, as well as nutritional support for millions of newborn babies. [HR 1, Pence amendment #11,  Vote #93, 2/18/11]

  • “So though the fight over Planned Parenthood might be about abortion, Planned Parenthood itself isn’t about abortion. It’s primarily about contraception and reproductive health. And if Planned Parenthood loses funding, what will mainly happen is that cancer screenings and contraception and STD testing will become less available to poorer people.” [The Washington Post, 2/2/12]

February 2011: Coffman voted for a Continuing Resolution that would eliminate all funding for Planned Parenthood. The bill cut more than $75 million from the organization. [HR 1, Vote #147, 2/19/11; New York Times,2/17/11]

April 2011: Coffman again voted to defund Planned Parenthood. [H Con Res 36, Vote #271, 4/14/11; The Hill4/12/11]

 

Coffman votes to restrict women’s access to health care, including birth control

January 2011: Coffman co-sponsored the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, which prohibits HHS from providing federal family planning assistance to any entity unless it will not perform or provide funding to other entities that perform abortions except for in the cases of incest against a minor, rape, or if the mother is in danger of death. [HR 217, Introduced 1/7/11]

February 2011: Coffman voted for a budget proposal that would eliminate the Title X program: “For more than forty years, for example, the Title X program has provided family planning services, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and other preventive health care to low-income women… It also eliminates funding for teen pregnancy prevention, creating yet another barrier for young women in need of resources to help them make responsible decisions about their health and their lives.” [HR 1, Vote #147, 2/19/11; The Hill2/16/11

 

Coffman vehemently opposed abortion in cases of rape or incest

2008: Coffman responded to a Colorado Right to Life Candidate Questionnaire, stating that abortion is always wrong, even in cases of rape. [Colorado Right to Life, Candidate Questionnaire, 2008]

October 2008: Coffman wrote in an email to a local radio host, “Dan, I would deeply appreciate it if, during your show, you could state that I wanted to make sure that my position was clear, unequivocally, that I oppose abortion in all cases of rape and incest.” [Colorado Right to Life, 10/29/08]

October 2010: Colorado Right to Life endorsed Coffman for reelection, saying Coffman “supports personhood” and is “pro-life with zero exceptions.” [Colorado Right to Life blog, 10/2/10]

January 2012: Colorado Right to Life Vice President Leslie Hanks stated that Coffman’s pro-life positions reflected the group’s candidate survey results. Hanks said, “Congressman Coffman answered all our questions correctly to reflect he is a no exceptions pro-life elected official who supports the personhood of the baby in the womb.” [Colorado Independent1/06/12]

Coffman co-sponsors a bill that would redefine rape

 

2011: Coffman joined Rep. Todd Akin in co-sponsoring the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortions Act,” which would redefine a ban on federal funding for abortions to exempt only “forcible rape” and not “rape” generally.  Critics pointed out that "the modifier could distinguish it from other kinds of sexual assault that are typically recognized as rape, including statutory rape and attacks that occur because of drugs or verbal threats." [HR 3 co-sponsors, 112th CongressWashington Post2/01/11]

Coffman voted against necessary funding for Violence Against Women Programs

 

May 2014: Coffman voted down additional funding for Violence Against Women Programs and sexual assault prevention. [CQ, 5/30/14; Vote #268, 5/30/14]

###

 

Sen. Ted Harvey Goes Bonkers Over Benghazi

Sen. Ted Harvey (left).

Sen. Ted Harvey (left).

The New York Times reported Friday about a new book forthcoming about the September 2012 attack on the American diplomatic consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The book 13 Hours, co-written by CIA contractors involved in the response to the attack on the Benghazi consulate that resulted in the death of the American ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and several other Americans, sheds some new light on the events of that day:

The book, titled “13 Hours,” is the first public account of the night’s events by any of the American security personnel involved in the attack. The accusation that the base chief, referred to in the book only as “Bob,” held back the rescue opens a new front in a fierce political battle over who is at fault for the American deaths.

Republicans have blamed President Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the secretary of state, for the security failure.

American officials have previously acknowledged that the Central Intelligence Agency security team paused to try to enlist support from Libyan militia allies. But the book is the first detailed account of the extent of the delay, its consequences for the rescue attempt, and who made the decisions.

The commandos’ account — which fits with the publicly known facts and chronology — suggests that the base chief issued the “stand down” orders on his own authority. [Pols emphasis] He hoped to enlist local Libyan militiamen, and the commandos speculate that he hoped the Libyans could carry out the rescue alone to avoid exposing the C.I.A. base.

Hillary Clinton Newsweek

​In the aftermath of the Benghazi attack, Republicans have strained credibility to make a connection between high-level Obama administration officials and the decisions made on the ground that may have contributed to the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans. This latest version of events from the CIA contractors who responded has reinvigorated those questions from Republicans, despite the fact that they at least partly exonerate the administration–it wasn't then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or anyone in Washington who ordered those operatives to "stand down," it was the CIA's station chief in Benghazi acting on his own authority.

Which beings us to Colorado Sen. Ted Harvey, who runs the national Stop Hillary PAC–and has been beating the Benghazi drum as loudly as anyone. Don't pester Harvey with any of your silly details:

This is an emergency. We just learned the damning truth about Benghazi — the loss of 4 American lives was COMPLETELY AVOIDABLE. 

The key U.S. security team in Benghazi was FORBIDDEN from immediately responding to the attack on the American diplomatic mission. 

That's right…their inside account of what happened the night of the September 11, 2012, Benghazi attack is proof that Hillary Clinton had the means to save her diplomatic team…

Hillary Clinton is guilty of more than just lying. Crippling indecision, or worse, willful inaction were Hillary's death sentence for those 4 Americans who died September 11, 2012. [Pols emphasis]

And that, dear reader, is how the deed gets done. The facts that undermine Harvey's insistence that Clinton has blood on her hands? Forget those facts. Harvey never bothers to mention that it was the CIA station chief in Benghazi who the contractors say "forbade" them from going in. And it doesn't matter than a bipartisan House investigation determined there was no intentional wrongdoing by anyone in the administration.

Of all the attacks that have been leveled against the Clintons in their many years in politics, the Benghazi attack probably isn't the worst. But the disregard for the facts in this case, even after they are refuted by credible investigations, is a good lesson in how for many in politics today, facts just don't matter.

Colorado Sen. Ted Harvey fits that description perfectly.

Radio host would be “shocked beyond imagination” if Beauprez likened Americans to sheep. Well, he did.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“Both Ways” Bob Beauprez (right).

I spoke last week with the radio duo of yore, Dan Caplis and Craig Silverman, who were co-hosting Dan Caplis' KNUS show.

Caplis and Silverman think The Denver Post should have more coverage of Hick's comments on CNN about the death-penalty, despite copious coverage already, including blog posts, letters, a front-page news story, titled "Gov. suggests killer could get full reprieve," and then a pile-on weekend piece, "Colorado's Death Penalty Voters Could Make Hickenlooper Pay."

I pointed out that The Post has yet to even mention many of the most bizarre statements that Hick's opponent, Bob Beauprez, made during his "wilderness years," after he left Congress and started running (and talking) in Tea Party circles, like Beauprez's radio 2010 comments, reported by the Colorado Independent's Susan Greene that we're living "ever closer" to "one world order," and "we're living through what a short time ago was fantasy, Orwell's 1984."

Beauprez: "A lot of people think we're kind of out there, that we're on the fringe, for even talking like this, but the real failure is to not recognize the reality that's around you,"

Yes, that's the word "reality" he used.

I told Caplis and Silverman, among other things, about Beauprez's suggestion, also reported by Greene, that Americans are like "sheep" who'd blindly allow the government to implant microchips in their bodies.

Greene also reported on Beauprez's agreement with the suggestion that states would have more power if the 17th Amendment were yanked from the U.S. Constitution and Senators weren't elected directly by the people.

But Caplis would have none of it:

Caplis: "I would be shocked beyond imagination if Bob Beauprez had taken the position, for example, that our Senators should not be elected or that people are like sheep, etc."

Media figures like Caplis would do well to read Greene's piece so they don't say stuff like that. With any luck, they can read about it in The Denver Post some day soon, too.

New Marist, Rasmussen Polls Show Enduring Udall Lead

UPDATE: Another poll this weekend from CBS/New York Times: Mark Udall 46%, Cory Gardner 43%.

—–

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Noting two polls that came out over the weekend in the Colorado U.S. Senate race, the first polls in several weeks. First, from Marist College Institute for Public Opinion for NBC News, showing incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall up six points over GOP challenger Cory Gardner:

In the contest for U.S. Senate in Colorado, Democratic incumbent Mark Udall leads his Republican challenger, Cory Gardner, by six points among likely voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate.  Udall’s advantage is due to his support among Latinos, independents, women, and young voters…

“Right now, Udall is disrupting GOP plans to add Colorado to its victory column as they seek a Senate majority,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, Director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion.  “To seal the deal, Udall needs to mobilize young voters and Latinos who boosted Barack Obama in his presidential wins.”

…A plurality of Colorado likely voters including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, 48%, supports Udall in the race for U.S. Senate in Colorado.  Gardner garners 42%.  Nine percent are undecided. Udall is bolstered by Latinos likely to participate.  He receives 60% compared with 27% for Gardner. 91% of Democrats likely to vote are for Udall while 87% of Republicans favor Gardner.  Among likely independent voters, Udall has 49% to 34% for Gardner. Udall is strongest among single women where he outpaces Gardner by 29 points, 56% to 27%.  Udall has a 16 point lead among single men. Udall and Gardner are competitive among married women, 46% to 45%.  Gardner has a strong lead against Udall among married men, 55% to 36%.

Here's the full memo on the Marist poll. It's worth noting that Marist showed Udall with a bigger lead in the last round of polling back in July–we'll want to see more polls to know if this is an outlier, or a sign that Udall is starting to pull away. Another poll from historically conservative Rasmussen Reports out Friday has Udall with a much smaller two-point lead over Gardner, 44% to 42%–still ahead after millions in negative advertising dollars expended, but remaining a tight race (and frankly closer to our gut feeling). In the gubernatorial race, Marist has incumbent Gov. John Hickenlooper leading GOP challenger Bob Beauprez 43% to 39%, while Rasmussen has the race in a dead heat–with Beauprez up 45% to Hickenlooper's 44%.

After a curious dearth of polling during the month of August, we expect a flurry of results in the coming days to give us a clearer picture of where these two races are headed.

UN Liberals, Unicorn Bans, and Better Broadband—The Battle for Senate District 5

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Senator Gail Schwartz, who has rather tirelessly worked on behalf of Senate District 5 is term-limited, and the battle to replace her is considered one of the top races this cycle for control of the Colorado Senate.  The contest is between Kerry Donavan, town councilor for Vail, and member of a long time Eagle County business and ranching family; and, Don Suppes the self-proclaimed “most conservative mayor” from Orchard City, an incorporated water district on the southern flanks of Grand Mesa, somewhere roughly between Delta and Cedaredge

The Club 20 debates yesterday not only included the marque races for Governor and U.S. Senator, and the second string races for CD 3 (Tipton, R-Worthless and Tapia, D-Pueblo, again) and CD 2 (featuring George Leing talking to himself), but a number of down ticket races as well including one shaping up to be a major battle in the fight to keep or take control of the state senate. 

Senate District 5–which includes Eagle, Lake, Gunnison, Chafee, Pitkin, and Delta counties–bridges the Divide: at the spine of the continent, as well as in the politics in western Colorado. 

Far from the ‘Republican stronghold’ some imagine it to be—western Colorado actually has classically divided politics: a number of areas are blue and trending bluer, even as the Republican strangleholds on places like Mesa and Moffat County increase.

And there is a strong sentiment toward being non-affiliated: which spans the range from conservative to liberal, and not always in familiar pairings.  A lot of folks like guns, and pot.  Your neighbors might be a changing band of hippies or survivalists bunkering down for the post-apocalypse.  Sometimes its the same group of people.  Its not a new thing and we like it that way.  We can be a little crusty, but most of us are friendly, and we help each other out.  

Both parties, and their allies, have identified this race as key to their state senate strategies.  The now defunct right-wing partisan blog ‘The Colorado Observer’ flagged it as one of seven senate races to watch, describing it in a rare moment of accuracy as:

[A] diverse district that also includes [in addition to Delta] voters in Chaffee, Eagle, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Lake and Pitkin counties. The district is comprised of 26,327 unaffiliated voters, 24,879 Republicans and 21,458 Democrats.

Don Suppes, SD5: Stumping on Agenda 21 

The ‘unaffiliated’ voters on Senate District 5—which includes Club Twitty—outnumber voters affiliated with either party.  They represent not only fringe righties or lefties or the muddled middle; they are—in many cases—either truly non-partisan (their ideas mix liberal and conservative thought), libertarian (both left and right versions), opposed on principal to affiliation, and/or genuinely unrepresented by either (or any) party.  Suppes seems to be going after at least one block of the unaffiliated voters, the wackadoo caucus.  Charles Ashby of the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel covers the action from the debate (article behind paywall, briefly excerpted below):  

Amendment 21 is a non-binding agreement about sustainable development and the environment that was the result of a United Nations conference in in 1992 in Brazil.

“You read Agenda 21, it reads the standard liberal playbook,” Suppes said. “Agenda 21 is just liberalism. If that makes me a conspiracy theorist then … I’m preaching that it’s liberalism.”

The Standard Liberal Playbook–can someone send me this?  I just made it through Rule for Radicals, again, and I’m thinking the two together could really give me some direction.  But I digress…

I'd ask for the link, but broadband in Delta County sucks.  Not that Suppes cares, he's busy fighting a mythical 'fracking ban’ as his solution to economic development, as Ashby reports:

“If I was looking to cripple the economy in western Colorado, I would do two things,” Suppes said. “I would shut down the coal industry and I would ban fracking. That’s what the Democrats are doing.”

Donovan said there are parts of the district, which stretches from Eagle to Hinsdale and Delta to Chaffee counties, that don’t have any broadband service.

Businesses, she said, would move there and create jobs if broadband existed.

Robocalls and Push Polls

Suppes has a robocall in the field right now that uses an elementary school teacher (sounding like one might imagine an elementary school teacher from the 1980s might sound—30 years later) praising Don’s character.  “He was a good boy.”

Now I want to pause here to acknowledge the importance of education, and give a shout out to good students that make a teacher’s job easier and help foster a productive learning environment.  But I am not looking for a polite classmate myself or an obedient student.  So I am not sure of the value of this particular pitch. 

I'm also not falling for the ‘War on Coal’ and ‘Ski Country elitist’ meme that Donavan’s opponents are spewing as Suppes basic angle of attack.  This has been backed up with at least one mailing in the district and a push poll from Magellan Strategies pollster’s Elkhurst Communications firm,routinely pilloried for its bad practices of intentionally phone-spamming voters.  

“I can be that voice. I wear ski boots and I wear cowboy boots” 

Kerry Donavan got off one of the better lines at the Club 20 debates—certainly in the down ballot races.  Challenged on her ability to represent the district she noted her backgrounds—ranching family, skier: “I wear ski boots and I wear cowboy boots,” she quipped.  It sums up the reality of this district and this race, and points to why Suppes is—hopefully—setting himself up for a fail.  

Donavan also talked about the importance of renewable energy to SD5.   This reflects a much deeper appreciation than the myopic view presented by Suppes—of coal mines and gas fields.  Indeed Senate District 5 is already a leader in the state—Paonia is home to Solar Energy International, Amory Lovin’s the Rocky Mountain Institute is just or ‘over the hill’ from there.  

While not considered renewable, it is an innovative and beneficial project that has brought the unlikely pairing of Aspen Ski Company, Holy Cross Electric, and Bill Koch’s Oxbow Carbon together to generate electricity from vented coal mine methane (which continues to vent from closed and abandoned mines for decades). 

Many of the ditches and other irrigation facilities best suited to the type of micro hydro made easier by Congressman Tipton’s legislation are in the 5th Senate District—which includes a run on the Arkansas, the headwaters of two forks of the Gunnison, the Roaring Fork, the Eagle and hundreds of tributaries—all of which feed thousands of irrigation facilities, ditches, pipes, and canals. 

Senate District 5 also includes several communities fighting to keep out incompatible industrial oil and gas development—like the Thompson Divide area and the agricultural heart of the North Fork—Colorado’s premier organic growing spot.

The balanced approach that Kerry Donavan brings suits SD 5 well —unlike the conspiratorial bantering of a ‘War on Coal’ and non-existent ‘fracking bans’ evoked by Don Suppes. 

Kerry recognizes that the path to economic prosperity in SD 5 is to diversify our economy and to provide the infrastructure we need to grow into the future.  Don Supples’ economic ‘strategy’ for is to double down on the kind of single-engine economy that put much of western Colorado in the doldrums to start, and to take inane pot-shots that border on crazy talk.  

Tancrendo to Obama: Get out of the office or face armed rebellion

(Eep – promoted by Colorado Pols)

(Image credit goes to Constantine Report)

 

The word “treason” gets thrown around a lot these days, but in this case the shoe absolutely fits.

Tom Tancredo, a former Colorado Congressman and recent Gubernatorial primary loser, has become increasingly vocal about the idea that if Obama isn’t impeached, or better yet, steps down willingly, there will be an armed rebellion in the United States which forces him to do so. Concern-troll Tancredo doesn’t want to see violence, so he is kindly asking the president to consider taking the first option. In other words: blackmailing the freely elected President of the United States by threatening violence against him and his administration. In other-other words: treason.

Right Wing Watch captured Tancredo’s latest rant against Obama, whom he believes is a tyrant because of things like Obamacare and immigration reform. The former politician told Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association that it is imperative that the Republican party go through with impeaching Obama because it’s the only way to get rid of him “short of armed rebellion that everybody constantly – you know, a lot of people, I guess I should say, think to themselves is either coming or a potential – and God knows that’s not something we want to see.”

More at….

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2014/09/07/former-republican-congressman-tells-obama-get-out-of-office-or-face-armed-rebellion/

Maybe Tancredo is firing up the Tea Party gang to vote for a write-in on Tancredo, maybe? Maybe kissing up to the RMGO folks?

Video: Cory Gardner’s Epic Abortion Pivot Fail

We've got several clips of video from yesterday's debates in Grand Junction hosted by civic engagement group Club 20 to share, but one particularly noteworthy exchange between incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and GOP challenger Cory Gardner last night needed to get in the record right away. In this truly remarkable clip of video, Udall hammers Gardner over his longstanding support for banning abortion, including making abortion a class 3 felony–which could result in health care providers receiving harsher prison sentences for performing abortions than persons found guilty of rape.

Gardner's attempt to pivot away from this issue, as you'll see, did not go well:

UDALL: Congressman. When it comes to a woman's reproductive rights and women's health, how can women and families trust you? You voted for a class 3 felony bill that would punish doctors more than rapists, you voted against providing emergency contraception to rape victims, you supported a bill to defund Planned Parenthood. After you told the, uh, Colorado, the Fort Collins newspaper that you would not do anything of that sort. How can families and how can women trust you when it comes to staying out of their personal health care decisions?

GARDNER: Senator Udall, I look forward to growing an economy that makes sure that women have jobs in this country, the kind of jobs that they are lacking right now. I look forward to putting economic policies together that keep women in this country from struggling to make ends meet as they are under Barack Obama's failed economy. And look, I understand, I understand that you have a concern with my position, I'm pro life, and I believe every life is precious, and I understand that you do not support that policy…

UDALL: Congressman, you didn't answer my question.

GARDNER: But what I think we ought to do is recognize that women around this country deserve a growing economy.

MODERATOR: You should answer his question.

UDALL: Would you answer my question? Would you answer my question?

GARDNER: I answered your question about…

UDALL: How can women and families trust you?

GARDNER: Because I…

(Applause grows)

UDALL: Why are you getting between women and their doctors? Why are you asking, women… (unintelligible) …why should just Washington businessmen, Washington congressmen tell women what they should do?

Sen. Udall's words at the very end of the clip are tougher to understand, mostly because the raucous applause from the audience was drowning him out–please help us correct this transcript if you find any errors. But by that time, Gardner's attempt to pivot off the issue had done more than just fallen flat. Gardner revealed himself as totally unprepared to answer questions about his record on reproductive choice. Gardner's answers up to now to straightforward questions about his record are simply not backed by the facts, and Udall would have been ready for any of them.

So the only choice Gardner has is to pivot to something else. Even when doing so is disastrous all by itself.

Gardner: “There is no federal personhood bill.”

(Once again–the federal Life at Conception Act contains the same operative language as Colorado's Personhood abortion ban. Gardner's distinction according to fact-checkers, is complete BS. – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Cory Gardner's Personhood twist

9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman got one-on-one interviews with both senatorial candidates last week, and the questions he chose to ask Sen. Mark Udall and his Republican opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, should earn him the respect of conservatives and progressives.

One of Rittiman's questions for Gardner has been consistently overlooked by Denver journalists:

Rittiman: How do you square your recent change on personhood at the state level with the bill that you still are on in Congress. The life begins at conception act?

Gardner: Well, there is no federal personhood bill. They're two different pieces of legislation, two different things.

Rittman followed up by pointing out that other co-sponsors of the bill say it it is federal personhood, and asking, "But it's still a piece of legislation that says abortion ought to be illegal, no?"

Gardner: No. It says life begins at conception. Look, Sen. Mark Udall is trying to say that it's something that it's not.

Rather than letting Gardner's false statement slide, Rittiman reported:

Rittiman: At the very least, the bill is meant to set up a legal challenge to a woman's right to choose. [Factcheck.org supports Rittiman's reporting here.]

Rittman also brought up the subject of Gardner's failed healthcare plan, reporting: "9NEWS asked a few times for Gardner to share the details of his canceled healthcare plan, which he has used as an issue in the campaign."

Rittiman: You don't want to discuss the details of your old plan?

Gardner: "Well, look. This is about a promise that Mark Udall made. About being able to choose the health insurance that they liked for their family. Mark Udall didn't tell people that if you had this policy or that policy you might be able to keep this but not that. Mark Udall promised if you like your plan you could keep your plan. He broke that promise."

Rittiman should have explained to his audience that details of Gardner's plan are important because Gardner has ranted about how much more money he had to pay for insurance under Obamacare, which covers pre-existing conditions and preventative care, among other benefits.

If Gardner's old plan was bare-bones, or if it had a giant deductible that would make it too risky for average voters, then his complaint about the increased cost of his Obamacare insurance starts to smell rotten. As it is, the smell of his answer to Rittiman is pretty bad and deserves more scrutiny by journalists. Why won't Gardner release details of his old plan?

As for Udall, Rittiman asked the question that comes up most frequently on conservative talk radio:

Rittiman: Frankly, does Colorado deserve for this campaign to be about more than just about abortion?

Udall: My campaign is about contrasts and comparisons. An election is a choice…. It's my responsibility to bring that to the attention of Colorado voters, and I will continue to do so, but I will also talk about all the other things that I've accomplished.

Rittiman followed up twice by asking Udall about fracking, "They didn't hear you saying specifically where you think the policy on oil and gas should go. Do you think that local governments ought to have the power to full on regulate it, or is it just about giving them meaningful input?"

Udall: Look, I'm gonna let governments speak from their point of view, but I think there's a sweet spot there. You definitely want meaningful involvement, you want meaningful input. And again, there may be places where the local community decides that the use of that land is better directed at a park or a wildlife refuge or subdivisions, versus drilling for natural gas. I think there's broad support for that, including in the industry.

Rittiman reported that Udall "opposed the now-dead ballot questions to restrict oil and gas operations, but still gets support from the environmental lobby."

Club20 Live Blog

(Action in comments, coverage to follow – promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: The first video clip forwarded to us from today's Club 20 debates is of GOP gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, rejecting coverage of pre-existying conditions and making some pretty stark "personal experience" claims about the Affordable Care Act and Colorado's new insurance exchange. Fact-checkers, sharpen your pencils:

BEAUPREZ: What you need is leadership and not just conversation. And that's what we've had. We did all this, all this Obamacare, we did all of that and increased premiums on people, to take care of people with pre-existing conditions, I don't think so. [Pols emphasis] There is a much easier and much cheaper way and much more efficient way to do that. My, my daughter-in-law to be, checked on your insurance exchange, she got her insurance cancelled, and it would cost exactly twice as much to get a new policy as it did before. [Pols emphasis] Therefore, she doesn't have one today. That's a crime, ladies and gentlemen, you want to ensure people, you ought to make it affordable… (inaudible, applause) 

The Denver Post's Joey Bunch reports from the gubernatorial debate:

Beauprez hammered on one of Hickenlooper's perceived strengths: a rebounding economy, citing statistics that painted a dimmer picture than those Hickenlooper has cited for months, including the nation's fastest growing economy…

Beauprez said Hickenlooper had not grown the state's economy as much as the size of its government. He recited his campaign refrain about his disdain for regulations.

"On Day One, I will freeze non-essential regulations," he vowed.

The affable governor responded with uncharacteristically sharp elbows.

"Maybe you should be running for congress if you want to target federal issues," Hickenlooper said. [Pols emphasis]

—–

club20logoclearbackground

Both ways opening, sounds like he got the meds wrong.

OK, big event starting Gardner v. Udall…

READ THIS: The Many Lies of Con Man Cory

(Link rich – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This evening, Rep. Cory Gardner will join Sen. Mark Udall in Grand Junction for the first debate of the 2014 U.S. Senate race. There are a lot of issues at stake in this race, and I wanted to take a moment to recap everything we’ve been talking about so far.

No politician is perfect, but Cory Gardner could truly be one of the most deceptive candidates Colorado has seen in years. Just this week, the Associated Press reported that one of Gardner’s latest TV ads, which you’ve probably seen, claims credit for “launching” Colorado’s green energy industry. The truth is Gardner opposed the landmark 2004 law, Amendment 37, that made Colorado a leader in the renewable energy economy. And the bill that Gardner sponsored never funded a single renewable energy project before being repealed.

Tell Cory Gardner it’s time for the lies to stop.

There’s a reason we call him Con Man Cory. From the moment Cory Gardner entered the race for the U.S. Senate, he has been covering up his long political record–a record that ranked him as the 10th most right-wing member of Congress in 2012, according to National Journal. Days after getting into the Senate race, Gardner claimed to have disavowed the Colorado Personhood abortion bans he’s supported for years, even though he is still sponsor of federal legislation that would do the same thing: ban abortion and many common forms of birth control.

On every issue that matters to women and families, Gardner is not only trying to claim a new position; he is trying to pretend his old votes didn’t happen. Gardner claims today that he "never" supported the disastrous shutdown of the federal government last year, which impeded recovery from devastating floods that impacted our state just days before. But the truth is, Gardner did support the shutdown, voted with his party at every step to shut down the government, and publicly defended the Republican strategy. In addition to impeding flood recovery, the shutdown’s closure of the state’s national parks and monuments cost Colorado’s economy millions of dollars.

It goes on and on. Gardner claims today that he has been vocal for immigration reform, but in Congress and the state legislature, he has repeatedly voted with the Tom Tancredo wing of the Republican Party–even opposing routine medical care and vaccinations for immigrant children. Gardner voted to stick taxpayers with the bill for cleanup of toxic waste sites. Gardner even told a Colorado senior living on a breathing tube, "we got to protect Medicaid," even though he repeatedly voted for Congressional budgets that restrict and slash Medicaid benefits. He said this to her face without flinching.

Gardner claims in TV ads that his health insurance premiums have skyrocketed under Obamacare, but he won’t release the documents to prove it. Gardner talks about over-the-counter birth control on TV, but the truth is this is an empty gesture for many reasons, and he’s even voted to deny women access to Plan B contraception without a prescription.

Cory Gardner’s strategy this year is to inundate the discussion with false claims about his record, hoping the voters won’t find out the truth until it’s too late. His strategy is part of a long con, and hard working Coloradans are his mark.

Gardner’s brazen dishonesty represents a new kind of political challenge: not just to hold him accountable, but to reach the voters he is actively trying to deceive with the facts.

Help us now. Click here to tell Cory Gardner that Colorado deserves better than a serial liar in the U.S. Senate. We are compiling your names and comments to share over the next eight weeks with Gardner’s campaign, the press, and fellow Coloradans. With less that 60 days remaining until Election Day, the time is now to speak out: and make sure everyone you know understands what Cory Gardner would mean for Colorado.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I know it’s a lot of information, but Gardner’s campaign has become so deceptive that a comprehensive response was needed. Please forward this important information to everyone you know. I know in my heart that Colorado deserves better than Cory Gardner, and with your help, by Election Day everyone will.

Sincerely,

Amy Runyon-Harms

Pigeon Pie and Fracking Sage Grouse: On Caring for Our Furred, Finned, and Feathered Neighbors

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A recent story on National Public Radio about the last passenger pigeon’s death in the Cincinnati Zoo – 100 years ago on September 1—raises questions about the role and responsibility of humans in caring for the well-being of other species.

The passenger pigeon was once the most plentiful bird in North America, flocks of which would blacken the sun behind mile after mile of undulating clouds—driven to rapid extinction by human avarice, poor practice, and the absence of professional wildlife management that follows species, and science, even across state lines. 

Those human failures are what we remember the passenger pigeon for, as an article about its recent, sad anniversary in the NY Times noted: 

[We] remember the passenger pigeon because of the largest-scale human-caused extinction in history.  Possibly the most abundant bird ever to have existed, this gregarious pigeon once migrated in giant flocks that sometimes exceeded three billion, darkening the skies over eastern North America for days at a time. No wild bird in the world comes close to those numbers today. Yet 100 years ago this week, the very last pigeon of her kind died in her cage at the Cincinnati Zoo. Her name was Martha, and her passing merits our close attention today.

Martha’s passing merits our attention and reflection because we know better now, or at least we should.  Now we have professional wildlife management. And we have federal laws that can compel action if state management to protect vulnerable species is not sufficient to get the job done.

Although there are several federal laws that directly affect wildlife management, the one most familiar—and with good reason because it has real consequences—is the Endangered Species Act.  The ESA was signed into law by Richard M. Nixon who spoke somewhat eloquently on the value of such a federal law at the occasion.  

[This] legislation provides the Federal Government with needed authority to protect an irreplaceable part of our national heritage–threatened wildlife. This important measure grants the Government both the authority to make early identification of endangered species and the means to act quickly and thoroughly to save them from extinction.

…Nothing is more priceless and more worthy of preservation than the rich array of animal life with which our country has been blessed. It is a many-faceted treasure, of value to scholars, scientists, and nature lovers alike, and it forms a vital part of the heritage we all share as Americans. I congratulate the 93d Congress for taking this important step toward protecting a heritage which we hold in trust to countless future generations of our fellow citizens. Their lives will be richer, and America will be more beautiful in the years ahead, thanks to the measure that I have the pleasure of signing into law today.

It might be difficult these days to find a politician anywhere, especially a Republican and let alone in the highest office in the land, to say such things about this law today.  They are, instead, more likely to grouse about it when given the chance. 

The Greater Sage Grouse

Grouse, indeed–which gets back to the avian world, and one of the latest birds to gain fame for teetering on the brink of extinction—the Greater Sage Grouse.  

The Sage Grouse is one of America’s iconic species—at home on the ‘Sagebrush Sea,’ those broad expanses of high desert sage and grasslands that stretch across portions of eleven western states.  And although its habitat is large, its numbers have plummeted in recent decades, and the Greater Sage Grouse is—by all accounts—a species in grave trouble.   Listing of the bird under the Endangered Species Act is imminent unless there is a viable plan in place quick to bring the bird back from decline and begin to return its populations to the western country where it was once so abundant. 

Since a listing would trigger federal protections it is contentious.  The conflict partly arises from, or is at least complicated by, the shared responsibility by which the federal and state governments manage the lands’ species as a ‘public trust.’  

This means that although certain matters fall under federal jurisdiction—like protection for endangered species and their habitat—generally wildlife is managed primarily at the state level via the various departments of fish and game, like Colorado Parks and Wildlife.  Thus state agencies often find conflict with what they believe to be federal over-reach, grumbling about things like a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, having developed state-based conservation plans.  

Not surprisingly this position finds common cause with special interests that oppose any and all additional regulation, who seem to prefer to take their chance with malleable state legislatures, local commissions, and regulatory bodies, than to abide by the requirements of the Endangered Species Act. And in this case it is the Sage Grouse that gets caught in the middle.   

…and Fracking

Like many of the land use conflicts roiling Colorado, this one too has its roots in drilling and oil and gas.  There are undoubtedly a group of western interests opposed to any additional protections for, well…anything.  This includes the Greater Sage Grouse.  But chief among the opponents are oil and gas companies and the associations that represent them, because, well…everything. 

Much of what oil and gas drillers and frackers care about—which is to say oil and gas—flows from out of the ground.  What is on top is—at the end of the day—an impediment to that.  At the landscape level, oil and gas development represents the largest threat to sage grouse habitat and thus to the species’ survival.

In Colorado sage grouse habitat sits mostly in the Piceance Basin, which itself sits atop large reserves of natural gas that could likely once again be a valuable commodity.  That puts protection of the sage grouse at odds with those that still dream of gasfields stretching from Dinosaur National Monument to the flanks of the Grand Mesa and beyond. 

And since much of this is public land, the federal government is involved in managing large swaths of sage grouse habitat regardless of a listing or in spite of it.  This is particularly true of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s sister agency in the Department of Interior, the Bureau of Land Management. And the BLM in particular needs to step up in its role to prioritize protection of sage grouse habitat.  To get there in Colorado, Gov. Hickenlooper needs to be pushing the BLM to put strong protections in place NOW on federal lands to help avoid any listing. 

Voices that decry any protection will scream of course, as they always do–delicate things that they are.  Which means the governor needs to also show the oil and gas industry that it is in its interest as well to want meaningful protections for the sage grouse; and, that the industry bring real solutions to the table. Or face a federal listing.   

The governor could join a number of conservation, wildlife and other stakeholder groups that have urged the oil and gas industry to do just that in Colorado. 

The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union issued a statement in June, when western governors were meeting in Colorado Springs, about the need to come together and find real solutions to protect the sage grouse and its habitat:
 

It’s a daunting task, but we can do this. A lot of hard work has already been put into developing sage-grouse conservation plans by state governments and federal agencies, but more action is needed.  There’s still time, but our governors and federal land managers must act soon to finish those plans.

 

Tough choices and decisions will need to be made, absolutely. But those solutions need not be a winner-take-all approach. …

 

We can get it done, and now it’s time for other states and the federal government to step up. Finding homegrown solutions now—not several years down the road—keeps the states, and landowners, in the driver’s seat, and gives us the certainty that we need to make our living on the landscape. That’s a good thing. When solutions are built from the bottom-up, they have more buy-in by stakeholders and often better respect their needs.

 

A broad set of stakeholders including the farmers' union and conservation groups have made the offer – but for now the oil and gas industry has rebuked it.   And that’s a mistake that the governor should call it out on because we all have to gain from acting expeditiously to protect the sage grouse.  

 

Our appetite for pigeon pie, for cheap energy, for exported gas, and accumulated profit is a fleeting thing.  And no future generation will look back on politicians of today with kindness because they squeezed another thousand cubic feet from the gas patch while killing off the last sage grouse. 

The NY Times article puts it like this: 

It seems that whenever humans discover bounty, it is doomed to become a fleeting resource. The fate of cod fisheries in the late 1900s mirrors that of the passenger pigeon a century before. Pacific bluefin tuna, down 96 percent from their unfished numbers, may be next in line.

Countless such examples exist around the world, but the good news is that we still have time to reflect on them before their populations dwindle down to their last respective Marthas.    …[There are] clear lessons that — had we followed them in the late 1800s — could have saved the passenger pigeon.

Here’s hoping that the State of Colorado pushes its partners—from the federal government and other states to its fellow stakeholders on the private and public lands, to act now and in a meaningful way to protect the Greater Sage Grouse.  Because the opportunity to take action is also fleeting.  If the state does not get strong protections in place soon, it will get what many think it deserves—an Endangered Species Act listing for the sage grouse.  ​

 

Weekend Open Thread

"A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with his freedom."

–Bob Dylan

What Military Gear Did Your Police Department Purchase?

Do you want to know what military surplus equipment your favorite law enforcement division picked up under the 1033 program? Well, you're in luck! NPR has published its research in nice easy-to-search files on Google Drive. According to their analysis, only three percent of the transfers under the program were weapons – but there are still a lot of weapons in the bunch.

Is your city or county police department suddenly flush with bayonets? (Yes, I'm looking at you, Englewood and La Plata – WTF do you need with dozens of bayonets?!?!?) Did your county sheriff's office acquire more M16A1's and M14's than it had officers? (That might be you, El Paso County, with 44 M16's and 4 M14's…) Did your city find itself severely short of M16A1s the last time it had to control protesters (Colorado Springs – 140 M16's and 14 M14's)?

Or perhaps your department opted for a robot bomb disposal unit (we got a few, but let's give a special shout out to the bombing hotspots of Mesa and La Plata counties for picking up three each!), or what appears to be serious amounts of firefighting equipment (Archuleta seems like it went on a particular spree with intrenchment tools and packs…), or maybe just some utility vehicles.

Colorado's list is all here, sorted by organization. If you'd like it split out differently, or want to peruse other states' data, the complete data set is also available.