Colorado Bishops declare “neutral stance” on personhood amendment. But how neutral?

October 29th, 2014

Colorado’s Catholic Bishops, speaking through the Colorado Catholic Conference, announced their “neutral stance” last week on Colorado’s latest personhood measure, Amendment 67.

The Bishops’ announcement came in a news release denouncing an anti-personhood media campaign by Catholics for Choice, a national organization that challenges the “Vatican on matters related to sex, marriage, family life and motherhood.”

A spokeswoman for Catholics for Choice points to tacit support by Colorado Bishops for Amendment 67, despite their professed neutrality on the measure, by allowing congregations to organize in support of it. You can find more details on a post of mine today on RH Reality Check.

You wonder what the bishops are thinking and how they justify it. And a trip back four years sheds some light on the matter.

The bishops’ statement of neutrality this year doesn’t get into the details, but back in 2008, when the personhood initiative first appeared in Colorado, they articulated their belief that a personhood amendment, if successful, could undermine the church’s goal of bestowing legal rights on zygotes or fertilized eggs.

The 2008 statement by Colorado Bishops Charles J. Chaput, Arthur N. Tafoya, Michael J. Sheridan, argues that a state personhood amendment is the wrong tactic to achieve personhood, because the federal courts could use it to affirm Roe v. Wade:

We admire the goals of this year’s effort to end abortion, and we remain committed to defending all human life from conception to natural death. As we have said from the start, however, we do not believe that this year’s Colorado Personhood Amendment is the best means to pursue an end to abortion in 2008…

Constructive alternatives to reduce abortions and advance the ultimate objective of ending abortion, however, do exist at the state level.

In the last two years, state level legislative strategies to protect life have included: increased penalties for attacks on pregnant women which result in the death of the unborn child; informed consent and ultrasound legislation which would have required a woman to be notified of her right to receive an ultrasound before an abortion was performed; and a complete abortion ban.

The Catholic Church in Colorado has a long and active history of working, through state legislative efforts and other community initiatives, to protect life from conception to natural death. We will continue through every realistic means to work toward this end. [BigMedia emphasis]

Maybe that’s why Gardner opposes personhood at the state level but supports in in Washington. He thinks it’s a more realistic way to ban abortion and common forms of birth control. That’s speculation, but with Gardner apparently lying about personhood, what else can you do?

After all, like Beauprez, Gardner has said his position is the “same” as Archbishop Chaput’s.

Reporters continue to object to Gardner’s apparent personhood lie

October 29th, 2014

The Denver Post’s Lynn Bartels wrote yesterday:

“Almost everyone but Congressman Gardner agrees that the federal bill is similar to state “personhood” measures that Coloradans overwhelmingly defeated and Gardner supported until just weeks after entering the Senate race in February.

More proof came the night before, when Gardner’s told 7News’ Marc Stewart  (at the 50-second mark here) that the federal personhood bill is an empty symbol, instead of the extreme anti-abortion bill that it is.

Stewart: But your name is still, though, on the personhood legislation, correct?

Gardner: Well, that’s just a statement that I support life.

Gardner’s apparent lie here completes a trifecta of false statements to Denver TV stations, including Fox 31, Channel 9, and now, Channel 7–in addition to all the other news outlets that have endured this falsehood and objected to it, rightfully, sometimes in the strongest possible terms.

 

Panel of reporters to discuss highs and lows of 2014 election coverage

October 28th, 2014

Here’s a chance for activists on both sides of the partisan divide to beat up on journalists (or praise them) at the same time, in the same venue.

Panel Discussion: Colorado Journalism and the 2014 Election

Tuesday November 11, from 7:30-9 a.m.
1380 Lawrence Street, Terrace Room.

A panel discussion with:

Shaun Boyd, Political Specialist, CBS4
Peter Marcus, Denver Correspondent, Durango Herald
Chuck Plunkett, Politics Editor, The Denver Post
Nicholas Riccardi, Western Political Reporter, Associated Press
Eli Stokols, Political Reporter, Fox 31 Denver

The panel will discuss: Did Denver news outlets provide citizens with the information needed to make informed decisions during the 2014 election? What were the journalistic highs and lows during the election season?

Introductory Remarks:

Paul Teske, Dean, University of Colorado Denver, School of Public Affairs

Moderators:

Kelly Maher, Director, Compass Colorado
Jason Salzman, Blogger, BigMedia.org

Doors open at 7:30 a.m. for a light breakfast with coffee

Panel discussion, including questions from the audience: 7:45 – 9 a.m.

University of Colorado Denver, Terrence Street Center
1380 Lawrence, Terrace Room, Second Floor

Free and open to the public. Please share with anyone who’d be interested.

Come with questions for the journalists. You can also submit questions in advance to Kelly Maher at okmaher@gmail.com or Jason Salzman at jason@bigmedia.org.

Sponsors: BigMedia.org, Compass Colorado, University of Colorado Denver, School of Public Affairs

Please RSVP to jason@bigmedia.org. But if you don’t RSVP, just show up anyway.

The panel will discuss: Did Denver news outlets provide citizens with the information needed to make informed decisions during the 2014 election? What were the journalistic highs and lows during the election season?

Questions: jason@bigmedia.org.

On radio, Singleton doesn’t recall Coffman’s “I-Stand-by-My-Statement” interview with 9News

October 27th, 2014

You recall a couple years ago, 9News anchor Kyle Clark caught up with Rep. Mike Coffman at a fundraiser and asked if voters were “owed a better explanation” about Coffman’s statement that Obama isn’t an American “in his heart.”

Using the same kind of cringe-inducing repetitious dodge we’ve seen from senatorial candidate Cory Gardner on personhood, Coffman repeated five times, “I stand by my statement that I misspoke, and I apologize.”

If you’re on the editorial board of The Denver Post, and you’re trying to figure out whether to endorse Coffman, you’d think you’d do enough research to know about Coffman’s infamous 9News interview.

But former Denver-Post owner Dean Singleton, who still votes on The Post’s editorial board, told KNUS radio over the weekend that he didn’t know about the 9News’ interview, even though The Post had just endorsed Coffman, raising questions about how closely The Post’s editorial board examined Coffman’s record.

Singleton: The Post’s endorsement of Mike Coffman shouldn’t have surprised anybody because The Post has always endorsed Mike Coffman.

KNUS Weekend Wake Up Host Chuck Bonniwell: Why do you like Mike?

Singleton: Mike Coffman is one of the hardest working Congressmen in the House.

Boniwell: He’s also one of the dumbest.

Singleton: I disagree.

Boniwell: I’ve spent time around Mike Coffman, and I think I can perceive. The Channel 9 interview, with Kyle Clark, the Mike Coffman interview, where all he could do is endlessly repeat the same one sentence given to him by his handlers. That was one of the more amazing moments in Colorado politics.

Singleton: Well, I don’t remember that.

Boniwell: I’ll play it. [laughs]

Singleton: I’ve known Mike a long time. Mike really works hard for his district.

Singleton could obviously have voted to endorse Coffman even had he known about the 9News’ ambush interview. But it’s a serious entry in the negative column on Coffman’s evaluation, and you wonder how he could possibly have not have known about it. It’s hard to find political types who don’t.

Singleton did not return a phone call this morning seeking comment.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/posts-singleton-doesnt-recall-kyle-clark-interview-with-mike-coffman

Clark’s questions for Coffman in 2012 came after Coffman was avoiding reporters after the release of a video of what 9News called his “birther moment,” when the congressman said he didn’t know whether Obama was even born in the United States. But Coffman said he did know that “in his heart, [Obama is] not an American. He’s just not an American.”

Rand Paul did not appear at Denver conference

October 25th, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky did not appear in Denver this week for the Colorado Renewal Project’s “Rediscovering God in America” event in Westminster, despite widely distributed promotional materials stating that the Kentucky Senator would be in attendance as a “special guest.”

Paul was never planning to come to Colorado at all, Paul’s press office emailed me Friday, referring to organizers of the event.

“That was an error on their part,” wrote Paul spokesperson Sergio Gor.

Paul’s visit to Colorado appears to have been organized by evangelical political operative David Lane, who organizes meetings between Republican presidential contenders and pastors in swing states. Lane is associated with the American Renewal Project, which advocates for more involvement by Christians in politics.

Numerous efforts get a comment from Lane or any organizer of the Colorado event were not successful. It was not clear who sponsored Colorado’s pastor event this week, but similar events in the past have ties to Colorado for Family Values and the Christian Family Alliance of Colorado.

Paul’s visit to Colorado raised eyebrows because Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner has been telling reporters that there is “no federal personhood bill”–and Paul is the unabashed sponsor of a federal personhood bill, called the Life at Conception Act.

Last year, Gardner cosponsored the House version of Paul’s legislation, also called the Life at Conception Act, which would ban all abortion, even for rape, as well as common forms of birth control.

Paul appears to have attended one of Lane’s conferences for pastors last month in South Carolina, along with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who’s been a repeated speaker at Lane’s “Pastors and Pews” events this year.

“We have a constituency that we’re mobilizing. My goal is to restore America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and reestablish a Christian culture,” Lane told U.S. News’ David Catanese in September.

“Huckabee’s done maybe every one,” Lane told Catanese. “He’s been in 10 or 11 states with me. But I invite all of them. I’m an honest broker.”

Media omission: Gun group’s attack ad appears to violate campaign-finance rules

October 24th, 2014

A “Rocky Mountain Gun Owners” attack advertisement, mailed to constituents of State Sen. Andy Kerr, appears to violate a couple of campaign finance rules.

The return address on the ad reads, RMGO SuperPAC, but the disclaimer lists the sponsoring organization as “Rocky Mountain Gun Owners SuperPAC.”

Neither entity has reported a campaign expenditure attacking Kerr, according to campaign finance reports, so there’s almost certain violation of the 48-hour reporting rule currently in effect.

Another problem, “Rocky Mountain Gun Owners SuperPAC,” does not exist on Secretary of State’s website, and sponsoring organizations must file reports. Obviously, this could be a typo-like error, but it’s still a likely violation.

Here’s the text of the ad, with a surprising last line:

When seconds count, Andy Kerr wants to leave you defenseless

Vote No to Kerr in the Nov. 4 Election

Andy Kerr wants to leave you vulnerable to armed rapists when you’re working the late shift to make ends meet

Kerr voted to make YOU liable if you defend yourself at your workplace

Kerr also voted to make women pay a fee and get government pre-approval to borrow or buy a gun for protection against a deranged stalker or violent and abusive ex the next time he violates the “restraining order.”

While criminal gang-bangers run around Denver with unlimited ammo, Young [sic?] voted to cap your firearms to 15 rounds. [BigMedia emphasis]

Click here to see RMGO’s mailer ad attacking mostly Kerr but Young too 10 21-14

So, you can see that in the last line of the advertisement, there’s an abrupt change from outrageously attacking Kerr to outrageously attacking “Young,” possibly meaning State Rep. Dave Young, who’s been the object of attack mail.

It’s a strange strategy to dedicate one bullet point, if you will, in Kerr’s ad to Young, but RMGO’s logic usually escapes me and most normal people.

Dear Jeffco students, sorry if it feels insulting, but you’re “pawns”

October 24th, 2014

After one of the meetings of the Jeffco School Board, I was driving my teenager home from school, and we heard conservative radio host Kris Cook’s analysis of the meeting:

Cook: “They had students saying, ‘Don’t censor my history,’ and taking umbrage at the fact that we, correctly, labeled them as pawns, because they have been made into pawns. I’m sorry students. I know that feels insulting. But your critical thinking skills are not where you think they are. And that is not your fault. Honestly, you’ve been offered a one-sided view for so long that you don’t know how to assess both sides of a situation and come down on what the truth may be.” [BigMedia emphasis]

I looked over at my teenager, who definitely has enough critical-thinking skills to understand a school-board proposal, and thought, why the crass condescension?

And Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez has said essentially the same thing, that teachers are manipulating the Jeffco students.

My kid doesn’t go to the Jeffco schools, but if you’ve ever spent time with teenagers from Denver, Jeffco, or anywhere, or if you’ve ever been a teenager yourself, you know that when they decide to focus on something other than Facebook or Snap Chat, they’re amazing.

So I emailed Cook, who hosts KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado, and I asked why she had such a low view of the intellect of Jeffco teens.

Cook wrote that “no censorship had been proposed by Julie Williams or anyone else on the school board,” and, yet, the “students, by their own admission, were protesting censorship of the AP US History curriculum.”

It is apparent from the students’ statements that they had not read Williams’ proposal prior to making their statements. So where have the students received such a ground of certainty that the proposal was about censoring the curriculum, when such language is in fact the polar opposite of what was proposed?

In order to answer that, I ask myself: who has something to gain by mobilizing the students to protest a censorship that hasn’t even been proposed? The only answer that makes any sense is the union. They have plenty to gain by demonstrating to the school board that they wield the power in Jefferson County as they head into salary negotiations before the August cliff next year. The students have nothing to gain from this (except a day off from school). The parents have nothing to gain. Only the union stands to achieve anything beneficial from this.

Cook went on to write that, prior to the big Jeffco board meeting, students participated in a union-organized rally. And a “supposedly student-to-student Facebook site, JeffcoStandUp” contained pro-union ads and information on how teachers are paid.

Cook is correct that some of the students (and adults) overstated what the board was doing, turning it from a “review” to an actual proposal.

But I disagree that parents and students had nothing to gain from protesting the board’s request for a superfluous review committee that was apparently intended to drive policy changes around curriculum without the support of the Jeffco community.

It’s a huge leap to say all the students are pawns just because they might agree with some of what the union is saying.

That’s like saying Cook or Beauprez is a pawn of school board.

Or that Cook is a pawn of RMGO or one of her advertisers, or Rand Paul, or someone who makes the same arguments as she does on her radio show every afternoon.

Full response of KLZ 560-AM’s Grassroots Radio Colorado host Kris Cook to my question about her comment that Jeffco students are “pawns:”

The students, by their own admission, were protesting censorship of the AP US History curriculum. They felt strongly enough about this to walk out of class and stand on sidewalks holding signs. The curious thing is that no censorship had been proposed by Julie Williams or anyone else on the school board.

Here is the actual text of the “suggested review criteria” from the proposal made by (and later withdrawn by) Williams during the September 4 board meeting:

“Review criteria shall include the following: instructional materials should present the most current factual information accurately and objectively. Theories should be distinguished from fact. Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights. Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage. Content pertaining to political and social movements in history should present balanced and factual treatment of the positions.”

The students’ statements have morphed “Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder” into “The proposal said that they would try to limit events in our history that have been examples of civil disobedience,” one statement among many documented by JeffCo Truth (see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0lAX5OuIoo). As I’m sure you’ll agree, that is not an accurate restatement of the proposal. It is not in the proposal. It is not suggested by the proposal. It isn’t even insinuated by the proposal.

It is apparent from the students’ statements that they had not read Williams’ proposal prior to making their statements. So where have the students received such a ground of certainty that the proposal was about censoring the curriculum, when such language is in fact the polar opposite of what was proposed?

In order to answer that, I ask myself: who has something to gain by mobilizing the students to protest a censorship that hasn’t even been proposed? The only answer that makes any sense is the union. They have plenty to gain by demonstrating to the school board that they wield the power in Jefferson County as they head into salary negotiations before the August cliff next year. The students have nothing to gain from this (except a day off from school). The parents have nothing to gain. Only the union stands to achieve anything beneficial from this.

This answer has been bolstered by evidence uncovered since I made those statements on Grassroots Radio Colorado. Students participated in and spoke at a union-organized rally before the October 2 school board meeting. The supposedly student-to-student Facebook site, JeffcoStandUp, contained an ad for Boots on the Boulevard II, a union-organized protest. This page also contained a very thorough explanation of how the teachers are compensated – not usual fodder for a student-led movement.

As a result of the above, I believe it is reasonable to state that the students have been made pawns of the union by having an inaccurate interpretation of Williams’ proposal communicated to them. Further, the students did not check this interpretation against the actual proposal. My statements flow from this reasoning. I welcome other interpretations and the opportunity to discuss them with you and your readers.

Has Rand Paul ditched his Denver visit, scheduled to start tomorrow?

October 23rd, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul’s office won’t tell me whether he’s still planning to visit Denver for a “Rediscovering God in America” conference tomorrow, beginning at 3 p.m. and running through 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

As of this week, Paul’s name was listed on promotional materials as a “special guest,” along with Sen. Ted Cruz and others.

Paul is the Senate sponsor of the federal personhood bill, which Colorado senatorial candidate Cory Gardner says is nonexistent or symbolic, depending on when you ask him.

If he comes to Denver, with Gardner somewhere in the general vicinity, you wonder if Paul will talk about his legislation, called the Life at Conception Act, at the conference, like he does in this video.

Below is the invitation to the Westminster event, which is targeted at pastors and their wives:

Has right-wing media–and a special booking agency–killed Beauprez?

October 22nd, 2014

The vast collection of bizarre online media programs and bunker-crazy talk-radio hosts has probably cost Bob Beauprez the governor’s office.

Beauprez can’t shake off the digital archive of underground thought that he articulated on these shows beginning after his last gubernatorial loss in 2006 and continuing into this very year. It’s defined him.

Calling Obama “a different kind of American than any I know” on the “Talk to Solomon Show,” saying, on the Talkback with Chuck Wilder Show, that there’s a “growing sentiment” that America might be on the “verge of something very, very bad,” and “folks realize they may need to protect themselves against the government that was supposed to be instituted to protect us,” warning, on the Internet show “Christian Today,” that “I hope and pray we don’t see another civil war but this administration is pushing the boundaries like none I think we’ve ever, ever seen,” expressing his love for the “Tea Party movement,” on KLZ 560-AM’s Wake Up with Randy Corporon, as “the healthiest thing we have seen in very long time in America,” and accusing Americans of being like “sheep” who’d blindly allow the government to implant microchips in their bodies.

It goes on and on, and you can read more here and here. And if you bottom feed on the Internet for a while, you can probably find something new and shocking yourself.

How did Beauprez get there? How did he find all these weird shows?

It’s a good bet that many of them came from Beauprez’s apparent booking agency, called “SpecialGuests.com.”

This outfit’s special guests are truly special, but in the depressing sense, and include a collection of pundits plucked from the right-wing underground. Stars include Gun Owners of America Director Larry Pratt and Phyllis Schlafly, to give you an idea of what’s available today.

On SpecialGuests.com, Beauprez’s description references his right-wing blog, A Line of Sight, which would have certainly attracted the shadowy shows he frequented:

ABOUT YOUR GUEST, BOB BEAUPREZ:

…Since 2007, Bob has published a monthly e-magazine called A Line of Sight (http://www.alineofsight.com/), a public policy and opinion resource on current political issues. Then, in 2009, he authored his first book: A Return to Values: A Conservative Look at His Party…

Bob continues to stay politically active, guest hosting on various radio talk shows, doing numerous media interviews nationally, and maintains a busy public speaking schedule.

Beauprez’s “numerous media interviews,” and the conspiracy-tinged questions he was asked as a “special guest,” are now a special part of his downfall.

Media omission: RMGO funneling money in apparent recognition of toxicity of its own brand

October 21st, 2014

With all the negative attention on Rocky Mountain Gun Owners of late, you’d think the outfit might want to hide its name when it attempts to influence voters. On the other hand, RMGO isn’t known to care about what normal people think.

It appears, though, RMGO has actually gotten the message that its RMGO name scares people. Instead of simply using its independent expenditure committee “RMGO SUPERPAC” to oppose at least one state senate candidate, RMGO is sending money to do so to an entity called “Colorado Liberty PAC.”

Exactly $55,000 of the $60,000 donated to Colorado Liberty PAC comes from RMGO. (The other $5,000 came from the “Colorado Tea Party.”)

And the designated filing agent for Colorado Liberty PAC is Joseph Neville, who runs RMGO in Colorado and serves as its notorious lobbyist here. So RMGO apparently controls Colorado Liberty PAC. Neville did not return an email seeking comment.

In turn, Colorado Liberty PAC is sending mailers attacking SD 22 candidate Andy Kerr, who’s Jeffco district is populated by people whom, RMGO has apparently concluded, don’t like the RMGO brand.

See a Colorado Liberty PAC mailer attacking Andy Kerr 10-2014.

And another one attacking Kerr.