Hat tip to blogger at Independence Institute for acknowledging health-insurance cancellations didn’t leave people bereft of health insurance

April 23rd, 2014

With more and more ads implying that Coloradans lost their insurance under Obamacare, and senatorial candidate Cory Gardner saying directly that “335,000 Coloradans…lost their health insurance” thanks to Obamacare, it’s worth a trip to the archive to see if conservative bloggers agree with fact checkers, like 9News political reporter Brandon Rittiman, who noted that getting an insurance-cancellation notice due to Obamacare was “not the same thing as losing insurance.”

So I extend a good-on-ya to Todd Shepherd, who blogs for the conservative Independence Institute. Shepherd reported back in January:

Shepherd: Without question, 249,000 health care policy cancellations did not mean 249,000 Coloradans were left completely bereft of insurance coverage.

I’d prefer Shepherd use a contextual statement highlighting the renewals and new-and-improved insurance options available under Obamacare, but, still, Shepherd’s formulation is something closer to the truth than the simple words “lost” or “cancelled.”

Shepherd did not respond favorably to phone and email requests for comment.

Conservative talk-show hosts frustrated that Coffman isn’t talking to them

April 23rd, 2014

Journalists should let us know more often when politicians are ducking them.  Or when they only talk through spokespeople.

After a week or two goes by, and a public official still refuses to talk, reporters should tweet it, if nothing else.

On March 28, KNUS radio’s Steve Kelley and co-host Bill Rogan chose to talk openly about their difficulties landing Rep. Mike Coffman and Rep. Cory Gardner.

Kelley: Congressman Coffman and Gardner are not talking, apparently.

Rogan: Ducking us. And I don’t like that.

Kelley: Well, that’s what it feels like at this point. So we’ll give them one more day, and then look, the clubs are coming out.

Rogan: They’ll come on Saturday, and we’ll do a special edition of Kelley and Company, just to accommodate Coffman and Gardner.

Kelley: See, I don’t know.

Rogan: I’m not too happy with these two.

Kelley: At this point, I’m not either. We can say that. It’s a free country.

Strongly anti abortion, Kelley told me last week he’d been trying to reach both politicians since they flipped on personhood.

Gardner finally appeared on Kelley’s conservative talk show, “Kelley and Company,” last week. It turned out that Gardner had changed cell phones, and he shuffled press contacts, so it was all a misunderstanding, Kelley said on air.

Coffman, however, is still not returning calls from Kelley’s producer, Kelley said, noting that Rep. Diana  DeGette and Sen. Mark Udall don’t return his calls either.

But Coffman’s lack of response surprises Kelley, who sees his conservative KNUS show as a friendly audience for Coffman, even if he asks a challenging question on occasion, Kelley told me.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/radio-host-frustrated-that-mike-coffman-wont-return-his-calls

How should a raped woman get an abortion, if not from a doctor?

April 22nd, 2014

Eli Stokols reports that senatorial candidate Cory Gardner is defending his co-sponsorship of a 2007 bill that would have banned doctors from performing an abortion for rape and incest.

Stokols reports:

When he was a state lawmaker, Gardner signed onto Senate Bill 143 as a co-sponsor — he did not carry the bill himself, his campaign points out.

The measure would have outlawed all abortions with the exception of cases that is “designed to protect the death of a pregnant mother, if the physician makes reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of her unborn child in a manner consistent with conventional medical practice.”

Gardner’s campaign pushes back: “the bill only prohibited the performing of an abortion (with an exception for life of the mother). It specifically exempted women from prosecution: ‘A pregnant mother upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted shall not be guilty of violating this section’.”

Stokols did not tell us how Gardner thinks a raped woman should get an abortion, if not from a doctor?

Garnder’s push back is correct. His bill did not make it a felony for women to get back-alley abortions. But a doctor would face felony charges.

So Stokols or another reporter should find out where Gardner thinks a raped woman should get an abortion–and from whom?

In assuring radio host he’s still “pro-life,” Gardner says his record “speaks for itself.” But what is it?

April 22nd, 2014

On conservative KNUS radio last week, GOP Senate candidate Cory Gardner assured listeners that he remains “pro-life” even though he recently un-endorsed the personhood amendment, which would ban abortion in Colorado.

“I remain a pro-life legislator who believes that my record actually speaks for itself while I’ve been in Congress,” Gardner told KNUS radio host Steve Kelley.

If his record speaks for itself, does Gardner stand behind it?  Because left out of the radio conversation was the annoying fact that Gardner’s legislative record in Congress includes his endorsement of federal personhood legislation, which he has yet to un-endorse. His name is still right there, having joined as a co-sponsor in July of last year.

Gardner also told Kelley:

“If you look at my record, it is a pro-life record. And that will always be on my record, and continue to be a part of it. So, I think that that is something that we have not been trying to turn away from.” [Bigmedia emphasis]

Gardner’s “pro-life” record, which (in case you missed it) he says “will always be on my record,” also includes co-sponsorship of bills in Congress aiming to de-fund Planned Parenthood and to re-define “rape” to include only the “forcible” kind. (Gardner later said his effort to redefine rape was a misunderstanding.)

His “always-on-my-record” record at the state legislature includes sponsorship of legislation banning all abortion, even for rape and incest, as well as other anti-abortion bills, like one mandating ultrasounds prior to abortion. These have yet to be un-endorsed.

Gardner’s response to Kelley, touting his anti-abortion credentials to receptive ears, sounds like Gardner’s statement at a Tea Party forum in 2009, when he was running for Congress for the first time.

Gardner was asked if he’d carry legislation banning abortion, and he replied, “Yes. And I have a legislative background to back it up.”

Gardner later told journalists he would not carry anti-abortion legislation in Congress. Then he did it.

 Partial transcript of appearance of Rep. Cory Gardner on KNUS’ Steve Kelley Show, April 16, 2014.

KELLEY: .. Are you pro-choice? Are you pro-life?

GARDNER: Well, if you look at my record, it is a pro-life record. And that will always be on my record, and continue to be a part of it. So, I think that that is something that we have not been trying to turn away from.

KELLEY: So, no ambiguity, you’re still pro-life, but — and your votes support that. But as senator, will you continue in that vein?

GARDNER: Well, again, I’m not – I remain a pro-life legislator who believes that my record actually speaks for itself while I’ve been in Congress.

KELLEY: So, does the Personhood Amendment, –and again, just to refresh folks’ memories, there was a change, not only you but Congressman Coffman, as well. What was the turning point? When you looked at it for what we’ll be voting on. What changed your mind?

GARDNER: Well, if you look at the number of people who do not support Personhood, I think it might even come as a surprise to many people who aren’t as studied on the issue as we have become, but groups like National Right to Life, groups like the Eagle Forum have raised serious questions if not outright opposing, uh, the effort. L0ok, I think there are things we can agree on, things we can disagree on. But the bottom line is, how do we find those common areas where we can agree and, and, actually make policy — good policy choices that we can all work together on.

KELLEY: It’s been suggested that that would be political – not political suicide, but it is a strategically wise move. Because it’s much different being a senator than a congressman, and that you’ve got to appeal to wider swath of people, here. Was it strategic?

GARDNER: Well, again, I think if you, if you – people who have brought that question up, we brought it up before the Republican assembly. So, clearly we wanted to make sure that we were true to our record and true about our record, and not letting the, the opposition – Mark Udall, in this case – destroy my record.

Journalists should note that Archbishop believes “godlessness” in Colorado is comparable to Nazi Germany

April 21st, 2014

In a recent radio interview, Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila compared Colorado’s “godlessness” to Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Russia and said it portends a government that will “eventually fall.”

Citing the growing number of atheists and agnostics here, Aquila also said godlessness in Colorado engenders a “lack of respect for the goodness of the human person.”

Soon after making this bigoted comment against atheists like me, Aquila became the face of opposition to a bill, killed last week, that would have barred state and local governments from interfering with reproductive healthcare decisions.

An April 15 rally, led by Aquila, galvanized opposition to the bill and got saturation local media coverage.

Reporters cited a letter, signed by Aquila, which called on Catholics to “pray for the conversion of the heart and mind of those who support such irrational, unscientific, and a denial of conscience legislation.”

Fair enough. His opinion. But if Aquila is going to jump up and down about science, journalists should cover Aquila’s unscientific views, including his anger at the media for failing to cover Satan, who is “real.”

KNUS’ Dan Caplis asked Aquila on April 3 what’s surprised him here in Denver, since he took over as Denver Archbishop in 2012.

Aquila responded that the “godlessness that is present here [in Colorado]” has been a “very real challenge.”

AQUILA: [Godlessness] opens up all sorts of opportunities for evangelization, for helping people and reaching out to them, but it’s also a real challenge in terms of seeing the lack of respect for the dignity of human life, the lack of respect for the goodness of the human person.

CAPLIS: What forms do you see this godlessness – this secular godlessness taking?

AQUILA: I think in terms of, first of all, the numbers that claim to be atheist today, or agnostic, certainly are up in percentage of people. Also is the almost just total pushing of God from the public square. And we know that was not true 50 years ago. That God was, and certainly in the founding in this — of our democracy and all, God was very much a part of that. And very much — it was religious beliefs that this country was founded upon. And when you look at history, when you read the founding fathers’ statements, even when you read the Declaration of Independence, there is the recognition of a creator. And when you look at the buildings that were built a hundred years ago – a hundred and fifty years ago, whether it be the Supreme Court or other buildings in Washington D.C., they have the Ten Commandments on them.

CAPLIS: Right.

AQUILA: And people did not blink an eye at that. And when one studies history, whether it be salvation history or whether it be history – even in the last hundred years, we can see when a country or a people remove God from the equation, they eventually fall.

CAPLIS: Right.

AQUILA: And whether it was Nazi Germany, whether it was Stalin, whether it was other governments.

Caplis concluded his Aquila interview with a great suggestion for a future show that might help fill in the media gap left open after last week’s one-dimensional coverage of Aquila:

AQUILA: Well, you are known as a man of action, and very much appreciate your time. I’m hoping we can get together on a regular basis. I’d love to – for example, I’d love to do one show just on the devil – heaven, hell, the devil. And get your take on that. As you say, it’s something we don’t talk about a lot. Probably, people like me don’t want to think about it a lot. But it would be one of those things that would really be great to dig into as we head into the political season. You know, just talk about – and I’ve heard you speak so eloquently and bravely on this before, — you know, the obligation of people to carry their faith in all aspects of their life, including the political process. [I] would love to do a show just on that.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/archbishop-says-godlessness-in-co-is-comparable-to-nazi-germany-4314

Hat tip to editor for posting scrubbed information but his reasons for deleting article still make no sense

April 18th, 2014

Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett wrote a blog post yesterday titled, “No Facts Hidden From Coffman Story.”

The most effective way to convince us that no facts were hidden would be for Plunkett to explain his thinking as well as re-publish the entire Coffman article, which Plunkett removed from The Post’s website Tuesday night. The article, which offered new information about Coffman’s abortion stance, is readily available on the web anyway.

But in two blog posts, yesterday’s and in one the day before, Plunkett has instead been offering up key facts from the article, and to Plunkett’s credit, all the new information contained in Kurtis Lee’s original article is now living on The Post’s website. That’s good.

What’s still inexplicable, is Plunkett’s logic in spiking the article in the first place.

In trying again yesterday to explain his decision to remove the article, which was newsworthy for eight big, fat reasons, Plunkett wrote:

When I discovered near our print deadline that Coffman had been on the record for months with some of the same information we gained in a recent interview, I had to act quickly.

It’s true, Coffman supported an anti-abortion House bill, allowing for abortion-for-rape-and-incest, even though he’s opposed this exception throughout his career.

And at the same time Coffman continued to be on record (for years) in support of the personhood amendment, which bans abortion-for-rape-and-incest. He didn’t un-endorse personhood when he decided to support the House bill.

Given the totality of Coffman’s anti-abortion record, you’d still conclude that Coffman was opposed to abortion-for-rape-and-incest, even though you found out he voted for the House bill.

That is, until Post reporter Kurtis Lee asked Coffman about it on Saturday and wrote his deleted article, which was headlined: “Mike Coffman adjusts abortion stance in cases of rape and incest.”

In his blog post Wednesday, Plunkett suggested The Post might “write a different story,” based on the Coffman interview.

That’s a good idea, particularly if the article would go deeper into Coffman’s thinking about abortion, getting into why such a passionate anti-abortion advocate could have such a serious change of heart, as well as explaining what Coffman’s abortion position is now.

Eight reasons why a Denver Post reporter’s blog post, deleted by his editor, was newsworthy and should be re-posted on The Denver Post’s website

April 17th, 2014

CORRECTION: This post describes the piece scrubbed by The Post as a “blog post.” It was actually  an article planned for the print edition.
——————

Here are eight reasons why Denver Post reporter Kurtis Lee’s blog post, quoting Rep. Mike Coffman about personhood and abortion-for-rape-and-incest, was newsworthy and should not have been deleted from The Post’s website.

1.  It was news! The core of Denver Post Politics Editor Chuck Plunkett’s written explanation for scrubbing the piece is that it was basically old news. But Lee’s piece advanced our understanding of Coffman’s thinking both on the personhood amendment (he opposes it under any circumstances; see number four below.) and on abortion-for-rape-and-incest (he supports it beyond he previous narrow support of it in a specific piece of legislation; see number three.)

2.  It was the first time Coffman made a public statement himself about un-endorsing the personhood amendment and withdrawing his longstanding opposition to abortion-for-rape-and-incest. These are major flips, and journalism is all about providing a record of actual statements by public officials, not their mouthpieces.

3. Lee’s deleted piece, for the first time, informed the public that Coffman has completely changed a long-held position and now broadly favors allowing a woman raped by her father to have an abortion.  Last year, as Lee noted in his piece, Coffman supported a provision in a bill allowing abortion for rape and incest. But this anti-choice bill focused narrowly on banning abortions 20 weeks after fertilization, and no news outlets covered Coffman’s position. It was completely unknown, until Lee asked Coffman about it, if Coffman favors broad rape-and-incest exceptions to his overall extreme opposition to abortion. It turns out his flip was complete. So Lee’s headline for his post reflected actual news: “Mike Coffman adjusts abortion stance in cases of rape and incest.”

4. Lee’s deleted piece reported, for the first time, that Coffman is opposed to any version of the personhood amendment, even of it were narrowed. In his deleted piece. Lee reported that “Coffman said there is no language he would change in the ballot initiative that would make him support it.” This advances Lee’s March 25 story, which quoted Coffman’s spokesperson, Tyler Sandberg, as saying only that Coffman did not support the personhood amendment in 2012 or this year, and the matter is settled because voters rejected it (not that Coffman’s thinking had changed).

5. Coffman has been avoiding abortion issues for years, and so any elaboration on his near silence takes on added value and newsworthiness. During the last election, the only substantive statement Coffman made on abortion that I can find was this comment to The Post: “I am against all abortions, except when it is necessary to protect the life of the mother. Given the fact I’m running for federal office, I will not be endorsing nor opposing any state or local ballot questions.” Frustrated by the lack of media coverage in 2012, I asked him about abortion for rape and incest, and Coffman replied with his pat, “I’m not focused on social issues.” This is what he would also say in debates that year, and reporters didn’t insist that he elaborate.

6. Lee’s direct interview with Coffman, which Lee described as “brief,” might inspire other journalists, who manage to snag Coffman for a longer interview, to go deeper and find out more details about Coffman’s abortion stance, like what is it? Does he support Roe v. Wade? Why did Coffman flip on these deeply and long-held positions? Does he support the personhood concept but not the amendment? What was the evolution of Coffman’s thinking?

7. Lee’s article made The Post look good. I know other media figures in town have been trying to ask Coffman more about his personhood stance, since his spokesperson was interviewed by Lee on March 25, and Coffman has not made himself available. Lee showed enterprise by tracking down Coffman at the Republican assembly and asking him substantive questions about these serious issues. That kind of reporting earns The Post respect and subscriptions.

8. With dwindling staff and resources, the newsworthiness of an accurate and informative news story, once it’s been written, is greater than it used to be. In other words, the old newspaper adage that “the greatness of a newspaper can be judged by the stories that don’t see the light of day” is sadly part of a bygone era. The piece was not only written but already on the website! Why delete an accurate news story?

And finally, a reason why the story is even more newsworthy today than when Lee originally wrote it: Now that Plunkett has deleted the piece, a much larger number of people are curious about it. This adds to its news value. Not a ton, I know, but reader interest is a consideration of newsworthiness.

Obviously, Plunkett didn’t rob Kurtis Lee of a Pulitzer by deleting his blog post from The Post’s website. It wasn’t an earth-shattering piece, but it advanced, in its small way, an issue that’s important to a lot of real people as well as political elites.

Plunkett should re-post Lee’s piece immediately.

Media Omission: Tancredo and Beauprez get better treatment than Norton

April 16th, 2014

The Colorado Independent’s Sandra Fish reported April 14 that gubernatorial candidates Tom Tancredo and Bob Beauprez were present at the GOP assembly in Boulder Saturday.

Fish reported:

Tom Tancredo, who’s already petitioned his way onto the gubernatorial ballot, was grinning as he left Coors Events Center a couple of hours before results were announced.

“I feel great,” he said. “It’s especially good for me. I’ve got a base that stays strong. The rest of these folks have to split up the rest.”

But neither Fish nor any other reporter explained why Tancredo and Beauprez, who are taking the petition route to the GOP primary ballot, were allowed to attend the event, while U.S. Senate candidate Jane Norton, who also petitioned on the ballot, was banned by GOP Chair Dick Wadhams in 2010.

Referring to candidates like Norton who were petitioning on the primary, Wadhams told Denver Post’s Allison Sherryat the time, “If the convention is not good enough to participate in, it’s not good enough for them to have a presence. That’s their decision.”

Post reporter is first to interview Coffman directly about personhood flip

April 16th, 2014

The Denver Post’s Kurtis Lee has done what no other reporter in Colorado could manage to do for three long weeks since Rep. Mike Coffman’s spokesperson sort of told Lee that Coffman had un-endorsed the personhood amendment.

Lee tracked down Coffman at last weekend’s Republican assembly and asked him to confirm his new-found opposition to the personhood amendment and to explain why his stance had changed:

Coffman: “There are parts of it that are unintended. … I think it’s too overbroad and that the voters have spoken.”

Lee noted that Coffman received high praise from personhood organizers in the past. (It’s true, plus personhood supporters don’t point to any elements of their amendment that are unintended, and Coffman didn’t point out any unintended consequence less than two years ago, when he was last lauded by personhood organizers.)

Lee also asked Coffman whether he opposes abortion, even in the case of rape and incest. Coffman has never personally backtracked from his steadfast opposition to abortion under these circumstances.

In fact, Coffman went out of his way in the past to underline his opposition to rape-and-incest exceptions.

But he told Lee that he now supports abortion for rape or incest victims, putting an exclamation point on an about-face that started last year when, as Lee points out, his office put out a statement saying Coffman supported such exceptions in a House bill. Still, this is the first time Coffman has talked about his flip himself.

Lee described his Coffman interview as “brief,” and there are still big questions hanging out there for the next reporter that manages to snag Coffman. These include: What is Coffman’s current abortion stance, beyond being “pro-life?” Does he support Roe v. Wade? If he still believes life begins at the zygote (fertilized eggs), does he oppose forms of birth control, like IUDs, that threaten zygotes?

The headline of Lee’s article reads, “Mike Coffman adjusts abortion stance in cases of rape and incest.”  Trouble is, we still don’t know what his abortion stance is.

Media omission: Tancredo sees public education as government mind-control

April 15th, 2014

ColoradoPols has called on gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo to address rumors that “GOP power-brokers” are pushing for him to be Superintendent of Jefferson County Schools.

Pols didn’t get into whether Tancredo, who’s currently leading the gubernatorial GOP primary field, would be a logical selection for the Tea-Party-controlled Jeffco School Board. No need to fall off your chair because yes, unfortunately, Tancredo’s views on education are thoroughly right-wing.

He’s not only a consistent supporter of diverting public-school funding to private schools through vouchers, but he also sees the public school system as a way for public officials to control the small minds of America’s children.

Tancredo: “Why we can’t at least give kids in those [poverty] circumstances, a key to that door – called a voucher. Tell me, why it is so important to keep them locked into a government school system. Well, we know why they want to. They want to determine how those kids view the world, as we just got done explaining.

Where’s the evidence that public-school education is about anything but freedom from indoctrination? Teachers wouldn’t tolerate it. They don’t want to indoctrinate their students. They want to teach them to understand how the world works and ask questions about it. American public education is about mind control?

Tancredo expressed these views on the Peter Boyles show April 1, with Chuck Bonniwell subbing for Boyles.

Jeffco teachers, supported by community members, are at an impasse with the Jeffco board, whose current leaders would certainly applaud Tancredo views, as stated here:

TANCREDO: That’s for sure! And what a great debate to have over the implementation of that. I just – I relish the opportunity to debate that issue with the governor, or with the CEA, the teachers union, and all the people that are opposed to such an idea. “What?” you know, they say. “What? Are you some sort of chauvinist–”

BONNIWELL: Racist pig.

TANCREDO: “– suggesting that America is actually a better place to be than anywhere else?” Yes! The answer to that is, “Yes!” And it’s empirically prove-able. This is not subjective. You have—you have – when – as I remember my old boss Bill Bennett used to say, “When you open the gates, all over the world, people only run one way, and that is a pretty good indicator that there is something better they’re going to. People don’t leave hearth, home, kith, or kin to go to something as good or worse. They only leave all of that for something better. We have it. We have to — We have to maintain it. Because if you do not teach children what is good about this country, instead of all of the stuff that they read constantly about, you know, how – about the negative things. And I don’t mean to whitewash this. I don’t mean that children should not be told about the problems we have had. But, you know what? In comparison to what we’ve accomplished, in comparison to what we have provided for so many millions, that — you know, those problems pale in comparison to the great things America has done, and the idea of a republic, and what those founders did, how they put it together. Yeah, I want to debate this, whether or not kids should be taught that, and taught to actually appreciate it. That’s the important part.

BONNIWELL: That would be – that would be a great debate with Hickenlooper, who is the head of the NGA [National Governors’ Association] – he’s head of the NGA this year, and I assume is a Common Core supporter. That would be a great – a great debate.

TANCREDO: It certainly would, and I intend to make it a very important part of our agenda and of our campaign. I mean, there—even – because, for one thing, it is a responsibility of the state. You know, so many things really aren’t, and yet the government gets involved. But, this one is. I mean, the Constitution talks about providing a free, thorough, and uniform system of education. And that doesn’t mean, however, you have to own the system. It doesn’t mean that you have to build the buildings, hire the teachers, and determine the curriculum. You know. And so, yes, you can provide choice. And here is another thing I want to debate. I want to debate whether or not Hickenlooper agrees that if you are a child who is from a family that is below the poverty line, or locked in[to] a school that is failing, that you should you be forced to stay there because you’re too poor to make any other choice. I want to just go ahead and debate that — why we can’t at least give kids in those circumstances, a key to that door – called a voucher. Tell me, why it is so important to keep them locked into a government school system. Well, we know why they want to. They want to determine how those kids view the world, as we just got done explaining.