Archive for January, 2012

Radio hosts find Senate candidate’s link to Georgia birther trial, but let him deny his birtherness

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Conservative talk radio is all aflutter about a trial underway in Georgia to determine whether President Obama is eligible to appear on the election ballot there.

A Georgia law requires all candidates to prove they’re eligible for office, and this means presidential candidates must prove they’re U.S. citizens.

Such laws, now on the books in a handful of states, are the cutting edge tactic of the dregs of the birther movement, which will not accept that Obama is a U.S. citizen.

The case has a local connection in the name of John Sampson, a former immigration officer who retired in 2008 and also a candidate for Colorado Senate District 25, facing Sen. Mary Hodge.

Sampson told his story to an adoring audience on KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado on Friday.

Sampson said on the radio that he was retained by a leader of the birther movement, Orly Taitz, whom he met in Lake Charles Illinois in November 2009, to investigate President Obama’s Social Security number, and he determined that Obama’s Social Security number was issued to a Connecticut resident in March of 1977.

Sampson tried hard but can’t find evidence that Obama was a citizen of Connecticut, ever.

“Why is [Obama] utilizing a Social Security number that was issued to somebody who was apparently living in Connecticut at the time it was issued?” Sampson asked on KLZ Friday.

Sampson flew to Georgia to present his evidence at the administrative court hearing, compelled, he says, by a subpoena to do so. He testified in court that there is “credible evidence to warrant further investigation” into Obama’s Social Security number and birth certificate. He also testified that he’d investigate Obama’s passport history.

Sampson was in court when another person who was subpoenaed failed to appear. That would be Obama, whose lawyers contend the President is under no legal obligation to testify. 

As a souvenir for his trip to Georgia, Sampson got his photo in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a step up from the publicity he’s used to getting in the birther underground. He makes an appearance in Jerome Corsi’s Where’s the Birth Certificate, for example, he said on the radio. (See a video of Sampson testifying in Georgia here.)

Asked on Grassroots Radio Colorado why the birth certificate released last year by Obama did not put the matter to rest, Sampson responded by saying another expert at the hearing said the birth certificate was fake.

Sampson also said his own research raised “concerns” about the legitimacy of Obama’s birth certificate, as well as Obama’s Social Security number.

“I’m not prepared to tell you whether he was born in the United States, not born in the United States,” Sampson stated on KLZ. “I’m not what you would consider a birther, per se. This is an issue of constitutionality. This is an issue of whether or not the provisions of the Constitution requiring a natural-born citizen to be President of the United States have been violated or not.”

Hmmmm. I wondered what he meant when he said, “I’m not a birther, per se.” But the radio hosts weren’t thinking along the same lines, and KHOW’s Peter Boyles, who’s sharp as a knife on this issue, and proud of it, wasn’t there to clarify things.

In any case, Sampson explained on the radio that the Georgia hearing continued without Obama. The administrative law judge is scheduled to rule Feb. 5 on whether the sitting President meets Georgia’s citizenship requirements, and at that point, the Georgia Secretary of State will determine if he’s eligible to appear on the ballot–again.

Asked by a caller, who turned out to be yet another conservative talk show host, Jimmy Sengenberger, whether the birth-certificate issue was worth raising, with unemployment and other issues plaguing the country, Sampson pointed out he was hired to investigate the Social Security number and subpoenaed.

Sampson also said: “I am a very firm believer in the Constitution. In June of 1981, I raised my right hand for the first time of many and swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. And to paraphrase what Lt. Col. Allen West has said, that oath did not come with a statute of limitations or with an expiration date. And that’s the only reason I’m involved in this. I have not and do not have sufficient evidence that would warrant me to make a statement as to whether or not he is eligible or not eligible.”

This satisfied Sengenberger and the Grassroots Radio guys, who told Sampson he was 100 percent behind him.

But would you be satisfied? I thought a birther was someone who doesn’t believe Obama is a citizen. That’s what Sampson is saying when he testifies that he doesn’t know if the President is a citizen. Same thing. A birther.

I mean, the entire birther movement is about not being satisfied with the citizenship documentation provided by Obama. Where’s the birth certificate?

That’s exactly what our own John Sampson is saying.

And when the birth certificate is produced, you have to guess, though we don’t know for sure, that Sampson, like his fellow birthers, will find some other reason not to know for sure if Obama is one of us.

Radio hosts fail to query State House candidate after he tells them state audit led to his business failures

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Even if you’re a die-hard Tea-Party radio host, you’d think you’d try to clarify things when an ideologically-sympatico political candidate tells you on the air that he abandoned his business because of the Colorado Department of Labor’s efforts to enforce employment rules.

That’s what Colorado State House candidate Brian Vande Krol told KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado Jan. 20:  

In fact, I’ve heard you guys talk about unemployment insurance before, and it just so happens that as of the first of the year, my swimming coaching business basically is no more. I still call it a business, but because the Colorado Department of Labor is pursuing what they call misclassified employees, the place where I coach said hey, we can’t have you here as an independent contractor. You can no longer be a businessman here. You have got to be an employee.  So I’ve basically lost a business.

Obviously, there’s no proof here that Vande Krol did anything wrong, but how could you not wonder what happened, especially because this guy is running for the state legislature (HD 35). (He narrowly lost to Rep. John Soper in 2010.)

So I did the Grassroots Radio hosts’ job for them and called Vande Krol, and he answered my questions via email. (See his answers in their entirety below.)

Vande Krol believes he did nothing wrong.

For both of my businesses where I’ve run up against this problem, I absolutely meet the definition of independent contractor. I meet all nine of the requirements specified in Colorado Statutes for one business, and the preponderance (as also specified in statute) for the other business.

But, he wrote me, a Colorado Department of Labor audit of the business Vande Krol worked for apparently thought differently:

Despite that, one of the businesses I contract with was threatened with large taxes and penalties by an auditor who chose to interpret the statutes as she sees fit, presumably justifying her salary. She then negotiated the amount down to the point of being a nuisance, told the business they could take it to court, but precedence was on her side. The business paid the tax rather than hire a lawyer and risk further scrutiny by government agencies that are clearly overstepping their bounds. If this were done in the private sector, it would be called extortion.

The Colorado Department of Labor performs the types of audits to which Vande Krol refers to enforce state laws protecting workers.

Basically, if an employer classifies a worker as an “independent contractor” then the employer is not required to provide the worker the same protections as the employer would if it classified the worker as an “employee.” 

These protections include unemployment insurance, for workers who get laid off, and workers’ compensation, covering injuries sustained on the job. Employers also contribute half of an “employee’s” Social Security tax.

If an “independent contractor” were not required to meet specific criteria, then employers would be free to pay all their workers as independent contractors, stripping them of worker protections that are now mandatory.

Vande Krol believes he met the definition of an “independent contractor,” but on the radio, his anger seemed to go beyond his specific case.

So I asked him if he believed the government should allow businesses to decide for themselves whether to classify workers as “employees” or “independent contractors” and therefore let businesses decide whether to pay for their workers’ Social Security taxes, workers comp, and unemployment insurance.

He answered that employers should be able to classify their employees as they see fit, and employees should likewise be able to classify themselves as they want to:

If a person is freely willing to give up the protections offered by an employer/employee relationship, he or she should be allowed to do so. If an employer is freely willing to give up the control offered by the employer/employee relationship, it should be allowed to do so. Of course, either relationship is based on the idea of a mutually beneficial exchange of service for compensation. Government interference in private contracting cannot eliminate the right of people to decide for themselves – it can only impede the ability to legally do so, and hamper meaningful job creation in the process.

Clearly, voluntary participation in workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance, and Social Security would mean major changes for these programs, and for society as we know it.

But Vande Krol writes, “If social security is a good deal for the individual, why is it not managed by individuals according to their individual needs?”

Below is Vande Krol’s entire written response to my questions:

Why didn’t you meet the definition of an independent contractor, under government regulations?

Let me clear up what appears to be a misunderstanding. This is about a government agency using broad regulatory and auditing powers to remove freedom of choice from the individuals of Colorado, adding unnecessary burdens to small businesses, and resulting in less real employment. For both of my businesses where I’ve run up against this problem, I absolutely meet the definition of independent contractor. I meet all nine of the requirements specified in Colorado Statutes for one business, and the preponderance (as also specified in statute) for the other business. Despite that, one of the businesses I contract with was threatened with large taxes and penalties by an auditor who chose to interpret the statutes as she sees fit, presumably justifying her salary. She then negotiated the amount down to the point of being a nuisance, told the business they could take it to court, but precedence was on her side. The business paid the tax rather than hire a lawyer and risk further scrutiny by government agencies that are clearly overstepping their bounds. If this were done in the private sector, it would be called extortion.

The other business I contract with decided to change me from a contractor to an employee simply to avoid the risk of audits and penalties.

Colorado statutes are already more restrictive than federal statutes regarding independent contractor status. However, Colorado statute does allow that a contract between businesses is sufficient to evidence independent contractor status. This provision that allows an individual to freely choose is ignored by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. According to the CDLE, 14% of workers in Colorado are “misclassified” as independent contractors. The CDLE is threatening to go after that 14%, which is a direct threat to their livelihoods and those that use their services. That’s one in seven workers. That’s not a recipe for expanding real employment in Colorado.

 Now to your question.  I do meet the definition of independent contractor. That did not prevent the CDLE from extorting money from one of my “employers”. Nor did it prevent the other from changing my status. In the second instance, employees are often more expensive than independent contractors because of government burden, so my employer reduced my compensation. I dropped my liability insurance since I’m now covered by their policy. The cost to provide that insurance is more than the revenue I typically generate outside of my contract with the employer, so I will also quit working outside of my relationship with that employer.

Do you think the government should require businesses to provide “employees” with worker’s compensation and unemployment insurance, as currently required? As you know, the government does not require businesses to do this for “independent contractors.”

My concern is that government is removing the right of people and businesses to freely associate on terms they choose. Worker’s compensation policies makes good sense for employees because they may not be covered for on the job injuries by other insurance plans. It’s good business sense as well – businesses limit their liability to an injured employee by providing worker’s compensation insurance. Independent contractors, however, freely give up access to worker’s compensation insurance and unemployment insurance. That independent contractor should be allowed the freedom to make that choice based on what’s best for them.

Do you think the government should be required to pay half the Social Security tax of their employees?

(I assume the intent of your question is “should government require businesses to pay half the social security tax of their employees”. That’s the question I’ll answer).

Businesses are the ones that write the checks, but they don’t pay the taxes. Social Security taxes are a business cost. Businesses pass costs on to their customers, employees, owners, shareholders or investors.

A more interesting question is about the recent “tax holiday” for social security taxes. Did the federal government point out that future benefits will be reduced by the tax holiday? Did they suggest or allow that individuals could invest more in their own social security retirements by not taking advantage of the tax holiday, and paying more than is required? If social security is a good deal for the individual, why is it not managed by individuals according to their individual needs?

Do you think the government should allow businesses to decide for themselves whether to classify workers as “employees” or “independent contractors” and therefore decide for themselves whether to pay for their workers’ Social Security taxes, workers comp, and unemployment insurance?

I believe that people are far better able to make decisions for themselves than the government. If a person is freely willing to give up the protections offered by an employer/employee relationship, he or she should be allowed to do so. If an employer is freely willing to give up the control offered by the employer/employee relationship, it should be allowed to do so. Of course, either relationship is based on the idea of a mutually beneficial exchange of service for compensation. Government interference in private contracting cannot eliminate the right of people to decide for themselves – it can only impede the ability to legally do so, and hamper meaningful job creation in the process.

These questions flow from your apparent view, expressed on the radio, that the government had no business telling your employer that you could not work there as an independent contractor.

Again, it was the employer who made the decision to change my status. They did so based on the threat of the CDLE to pursue one out of seven Colorado workers and their “employers”. I met the most important criteria – I provided my own tools, training, liability insurance, marketing, medical insurance, etc. However, I could not protect my employer from the danger of an overly aggressive audit by a government agency that was $500 million dollars in debt to the federal government in February of 2010.

The federal government pressured the CDLE to pay back loans for the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. The state legislature responded by raising rates on businesses who can ill afford it. These rate increases fall disproportionately on the businesses who have fewer unemployment claims. The CDLE is pursuing small businesses with their power of audit to coerce legitimate businesses to pay unemployment taxes that they do not owe. As a result, resources that could be used to expand hiring and boost the Colorado economy are being diverted to the federal government, and one in seven Colorado workers is directly threatened by CDLE.

That’s not a recipe for job creation.

Below is a partial transcript of Brian Vande Krol’s statement on KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado, Jan. 20.

Brian Vande Krol: I’ve had a sky diving coaching business, a swimming coaching business. My first business was actually Paradise Rock Gym. That was probably the most capital intensive and labor intensive business.  It actually set the standard for other climbing gyms across the country. I’ve got a floor installation business currently, quite a few businesses. I’ve always found things that I’ve really enjoyed doing and pursued those activities. In fact, I’ve heard you guys talk about unemployment insurance before, and it just so happens that as of the first of the year, my swimming coaching business basically is no more. I still call it a business, but because the Colorado Department of Labor is pursuing what they call misclassified employees, the place where I coach said hey, we can’t have you here as an independent contractor. You can no longer be a businessman here. You have got to be an employee.  So I’ve basically lost a business. But now I count as a new hire in Colorado’s jobs statistics and so my experience of one person may not swing things one way or the other, but basically that’s probably the way it will work out. I’m a new hire in Colorado. That will show up somewhere, I assume, in their statistics. And I’m no longer a business owner for that particular business. …

KLZ host Jason Worley: What is your main platform?

My main platform is economic freedom. The founders told us all men are created equal, and that means no man was born to rule over another man. And out of that it unleashed two powers that changed the world forever: liberty and responsibility. And government’s responsibility is to secure the blessings of liberty. They’ve clearly gone way beyond that. They are hampering economic freedom, and that’s hampering job growth. It’s hampering economic development in Colorado. We have to change that. Like I said, it’s about economic freedom.

Kaminsky leaves Backbone Radio to host Sunday KOA talk show

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Denver blogger and radio host Ross Kaminsky leaves will leave Backbone Radio, aired on KNUS and KZNT, to host a Sunday KOA show that will “frequently” pre-empted by sports. Jimmy Sengenberger, a fellow conservative who hosted a show at Regis University, is interim Backbone host.

Kaminsky, who once blogged on the Denver Post’s “Gang of Four” website, was careful, in announcing his show, to point out that you won’t find him on KOA every weekend:

“The show will frequently be pre-empted in whole or in part by sports programming,” Kaminsky wrote, “as KOA is the voice of the Colorado Rockies, the Denver Broncos, and the University of Colorado ‘Buffs.’ (I have a feeling that a Broncos game is slightly more profitable for the station than the Ross Kaminsky Show will be, if just barely.)

So, I won’t be on the air (at least not on Sundays) during most of football season, and during much of baseball season the show will either be pre-empted entirely or else will run just an hour or two. (Frankly, as much as I love being on the air, especially on ‘the blowtorch,” this schedule is perfect for me as it will allow me to talk to you – my listeners, readers and friends – for much of the year but also allow me some full weekends to spend with my wife and family.)”

Tips for reporters trying to sort out Romney’s position on personhood in advance of Sat. Prez forum in Florida

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Reporters are having a real hard time sorting out Mitt Romney’s position on personhood. Here’s a quick and easy way for journos to think about the issue, and Romney’s evolving stance on it.

Personhood has two tracks: federal and state. At the federal level, proponents are trying to pass a law giving fertilized eggs (or zygotes) the legal rights of a “person,” under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. constitution. At the state level, the personhood campaign wants to pass amendments to state constitutions defining life as beginning at conception.

Romney on federal personhood. Romney has made it clear that he’s currently against federal personhood. This is a flip from his position in 2007, when he stated on national TV that he favored a GOP platform position supporting a “human life amendment” to the U.S. Constitution, which would ban abortion at the federal level. When Romney said this, he believed, like he does now, that life begins at conception, so Romney’s federal ban on abortion, based on his definition of “life,” would have met the requirements of Personhood USA for a national personhood law. But last year at a GOP prez forum, Romney abandoned this position because now thinks adding personhood to the U.S. Constitution could set up a “constituional crisis.”

Romney on state personhood. In October, Romney told Fox News’ Mike Huckabee that he “absolutely” would have signed an amendment to the Massachusetts constitution establishing that life begins a conception. Later, Romney’s spokespeople backed up this position by telling Politico’s Ben Smith and other reporters that Romney supports “efforts to ensure recognition that life begins at conception” and that “these matters should be left up to states to decide.”

Summary:  Romney isn’t completely clear on this issue (I’m rolling my eyes as I write that), but  it’s fair to say that Romney has flip flopped on personhood during his career. It’s also a fact that he’s currently against a federal personhood law but for state-based personhood amendments (consistent with his “life-begins-at-conception” belief and his statement to Huckabee).

One prominent journalist who’s clear on Romney’s personhood stance is Curtis Hubbard, editorial page editor of the centrist-right Denver Post. He qualifies as an expert on personhood, having directed news coverage of the personhood ballot initiative in Colorado in 2010. He recently stated on Colorado Public Television, KBDI, “Romney already came out for personhood at the state level.”

Reporters nationally will have a chance to clarify Romney’s views on personhood Saturday, as they report on Florida’s Personhood USA-sponsored presidential forum. Gingrich, Paul, and Santorum will attend.

Romney will not attend the event, replicating his pattern of skipping such forums in South Carolina and Iowa, but reporters can contrast his views with personhood promoters Gingrich, Paul, and Santorum.

Personhood USA may also hold a prez forum in Colorado, prior to its Feb. 7 caucus. Personhood USA legal analyst Gualberto Garcia Jones emailed me yesterday, in response to my query, that Colorado is a “definite candidate” for a personhood forum.

Lamborn says other Congresspeople didn’t show up at SOTU speech, but radio host didn’t ask who?

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

On KNUS radio this morning, Rep. Doug Lamborn told host Steve Kelley that he wasn’t the only Member of Congress to skip President Barack Obama’s SOTU speech yesterday, implying, perhaps, that he was being singled out unfairly.

“The President didn’t know or care if I was there. And actually I know of others who were not there. I happen to be one who said in advance I wasn’t going to be there.” [laughs]

I called Lamborn’s office to find out whom Lamborn was thinking of. And were the other no-shows protestors?

“There’s no roll-call vote taken,” Lamborn’s Communications Director Catherine Mortensen told me “If someone shows up or doesn’t show up, there’s no record of it.”

She didn’t know which lawmakers Lamborn had in mind, but she did tell me that she’d read press reports that Rep. Tim Scott of South Carolina had considered skipping the event.

Scott was thinking about watching the speech with his brother, but he ended up attending. His idea to be a SOTU no show was not a protest, according to local press reports.

Kelley didn’t ask Lamborn how he knew that Barack Obama didn’t care if he attended the SOTU, but he did ask Lamborn if he thinks he made a difference by not being there:

Lamborn said: “I did get a chance to tell people why I oppose the President so strongly…I feel better.”

I wish KOA had continued to allow Caldara to waste his time on the radio

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

I’ve always thought Jon Caldara was wasting his time, in terms of advancing his political agenda, by spending three hours a day, from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m., doing his KOA talk radio show.

You’d think he could find a better way to advance evil for three hours every do, wouldn’t you?

Now Caldara, who’s the President of the libertarian Independence Institute, will have those three hours back, since KOA terminated his radio talk show, in favor of a faceless national feed.

I asked Caldara if he thought the radio show was the best use of his time. (He’s said it didn’t pay much.)

“Talk radio is complimentary to what I do as an activist,” he said. “There’s a synergy.”

I asked for specifics on the synergy, but he couldn’t define it, except to say, “I learn more on talk radio than most things.”

I asked Caldara how big his audience was.

“The average size was about 230-250 pounds,” he said. “There’s a lot of fat asses listening to AM radio. What was great was the coverage, because it blasted around the western United States.”

As such, Caldara’s show amped up the right-wing buzz machine sometimes, and being a talk-show host might have shined up Caldara’s image a bit, making him part of the “media.” Maybe this impresses right-donors, but not sane people. They know blasting radio waves doesn’t win very often, which might be part of the reason the GOP likes to form circular firing squads, as Caldara likes to say.

I don’t mean to trash Caldara as a talk-show host. He was funny and pretty well informed without getting lost in the mud below the weeds. He connected well to his three listeners (four, if I checked in).

Too bad he didn’t have more guests on the radio, because his direct questions can be revealing.

This sounds a bit like I’m writing Caldara’s media obituary, which I’m not. Caldara still has his KBDI show, Devil’s Advocate, which should be interprested as literally “advocating for the devil,” as opposed to taking an opposing view. And Caldara has other media projects too, like Complete Colorado and the Colorado News Agency, that he controls at the Independence Institute.

I asked Caldara if  losing his slot on KOA would hurt him politically?

“I don’t think so,” he told me, “because my radio presence isn’t going to go away.” (He’ll be subbing for Rosen, Boyles, and others, and he’ll have a Sunday evening show on KHOW.  Plus he’s “entertaining offers from Playgirl” and “tweeting in his pants right now.”

Asked for the name of the KHOW show, Caldara replied, “Home Gardening Tips with Jon Caldara.”

Had enough? Maybe so if you hate Cadara’s political agenda, but these days, anytime we lose a local voice it’s bad. It’s a shame KOA dumped Caldara.

You can’t blame media reports for confusion over Ramirez’s stance on Asset bill

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Sometimes one media outlet says one thing, another says something else, and you’re left saying, WTF.

That’s what happened last week when we heard different news about whether Rep. Robert Ramirez would back legislation this year reducing college tuition for some children of illegal immigrants. The bill is often referred to as a Colorado version of the Dream Act.

The Associated Press reported Monday that Ramirez might support the bill, as long as no tax money goes to students.  Ramirez was working with Democrats and  even writing amendments to try to pass the bill, according to the AP.

Then, on Thursday, three days later, Channel 8 in Grand Junction, delivered a different picture of Ramirez’s thinking. The “actual bill” would “give the right of a citizen to a noncitizen,” Ramirez was quoted as saying, and he opposes this.

Channel 8 mentioned nothing about Ramirez working on amendments, and the piece left you with the impression that Ramirez would definitely vote against the legislation, as he did last year.

He told Channel 8: “I have not seen the new bill, I just have heard what the changes are but they’re so minimal that I don’t think they’ll make a difference.”

So I called Ramirez to find out if he’d soured on the bill during the week, of if the media got something wrong.

He told me both AP and Channel 8 were accurate. How could that possibly be?

Ramirez says the phrase “in-state tuition” means, by definition, that government funds are included. So that’s why he told reporters only citizens should receive in-state tuition.

Ramirez favors tuition breaks for illegal-immigrant students, he told me, but he doesn’t want to call it “in-state tuition.”

“Charge them the actual expense,” he told me. “You don’t have to charge them the exorbitant out of state expense.”

But no matter how you define “in-state tuition,” illegal-immigrant students won’t get any tax money as part of their tuition reduction, under SB-15, which is this year’s version of the “Colorado Asset” bill. “Previous concepts” of this legislation did not remove all tax dollars from the tuition rate that would be offered to illegal immigrants, according a website promoting the bill. This year’s bill does this.

But Ramirez told me that his decision on whether to support Colorado Asset does not hinge solely on the issue of tax dollars. He said there are “other things,” but he didn’t specify what they are. He says he has not seen the bill yet.

Ramirez’s position on the Colorado Asset bill is under scrutiny not only because he could cast a critical vote on the State House education committee, as he did last year, but also because he’s Latino.

Ramirez says his Latino heritage is irrelevant to how he’ll vote on the legislation. He told me he’s American and doesn’t want to “re-segregate” as a Hispanic.

He drives the point home by joking that he didn’t know he was “Latino” until he “started running for office.”

“Prior to that, I was just Bobby Ramirez,” he said on Art Carlson’s online radio program last May 14.

“All of a sudden, it’s a big deal that I’m Hispanic,” he told me. “But I consider myself an American.”

Perhaps it’s this perception of himself that makes him unconcerned about some racial slurs toward Hispanics.

Asked about a story he told on the radio about being called a “wetback” when he was a child, he said:

“I don’t care if someone calls me [a wetback].  I don’t think it’s appropriate. It’s a slur. But I’m not offended by it. It doesn’t bother me. To me that shows your ignorance.”

Ramirez says he’s “very proud to be Hispanic,” as he told the AP in the article Monday.

Not that he thinks Hispanic culture is perfect. He told Carlson in May that some in Mexico are the “nicest people in the world.” But he also said:

“But god forbid [when you are in Mexico] you talk to somebody from Puerto Rico, because they are just horrible people, and they [Mexicans] won’t have anything to do with them. So they are the most divisive group of people. We still fight each other. It’s amazing.”

“Depending on how much money you make, and what part of Mexico you are from, and your bloodline, [Mexicans] are vile to each other,” he said.

Ramirez, whose father is a Mexican immigrant, told Carlson that illegal immigrants are lazy.

“I don’t blame them for trying to come here,” he said. “What I do blame them for is when they get here, they’ve gotten here illegally and expect everything for free. They don’t want to work for it.”

Still, Ramirez understands why companies want to hire Mexicans at a lower wage, and he wants to help them employ Mexicans to work legally in the U.S. by setting up an employment office in Mexico. Responding to a caller on Carlson’s, Ramirez said:

“Or let’s just open up an employment office on the other side of the border. You know? For any of these companies that want to hire people at the lower wage, they go through this employment company who makes sure all the paperwork is processed correctly in the United States, before somebody comes in here. There’s a lot of things we can do that will make enough little changes than can fix our problems. It’s just that nobody is willing to step up and say it or do it.”

Carlson, a conservative, didn’t respond to Ramirez with the how-dare-you-propose-draining-American-jobs line that you might expect from a conservative. Maybe that’s because Ramirez told Carlson stuff like, “Our laws and lawmakers, and the people of this country, are trying to make it easy for everyone in this country but Americans.”

Still, if I were Carlson, I’d want to know how that sentiment squares with what Ramirez told the New York Times back in October:

“We can’t pretend the Latino vote doesn’t exist. It’s time we became the party of inclusion.”

Asked about this, Ramirez said, “I think some kind of compromise  [on Colorado's Asset legislation] is part of making the GOP the party of inclusion.”

On radio, Tipton not asked to explain why he thinks stricken Japanese reactors “held up reasonably well”

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Rep. Scott Tipton said in a radio interview last week that Japan’s Fukushima nuclear reactors “held up reasonably well” after being struck by an earthquake and Tsunami.

So they could have been flattened, yes. But did they really hold up reasonably well?

It’s widely agreed now that the disaster caused a meltdown in three Fukushima reactors. Over ten thousand people were evacuated, and the fate of dozens of plant workers who experienced serious radiation exposure is unknown but of serious concern (at least three died, but not due to radiation exposure). Elevated levels of radiation have been found in rice, beef, milk, spinach, and tea. Leaks of radioactive material to the ocean and land still threaten fish and wildlife. The reactors remain vulnerable to earthquakes, and cleanup is estimated to take 40 years.

In his Jan. 12 KVNF interview, Tipton wasn’t asked how bad the Fukushima disaster needed to be in order for the reactors to move, in his view, from the “held-up-reasonably-well” category to the “collapsed-horribly-badly” category.

I called Tipton’s office to find out, but I didn’t get a call back.

Tipton made his comments about the world’s second-worst nuclear accident in a discussion of a proposed uranium mill for western Colorado. Tipton supports the mill.

He argued that nuclear power shouldn’t be held back due to the “big fear factor” caused by the Japanese disaster, which, he said, could be avoided if proper attention were paid to geography and safety.

“You know, as you go over into Europe, France is an example, there’s an abundance of nuclear power plants that are providing reliable energy,” Tipton told the KVNF audience. “The big fear factor, which we all understand, was after the tsunami in Japan. Those plants, for the most part, given multiple tragedies, earthquakes and Tsunami coming in, held up reasonably well. We can’t afford to have any sort of uranium leak, obviously. But we can design those plants with due consideration to where they’re going to be put, in terms of the geography that’s there, and to be able to provide reliable energy. I signed the letter in the State Legislature being supportive of the development of the [uranium] mill. When you get on the west end of Montrose County, these are good jobs. And again, we’re taking advantage of new technology, new protective measures, that are able to be put in place to be able to do it in a proper fashion to be able protect all of our varied interests. So it’s something I will be supportive of.”

KNUS’ Kelley scores Tebow blurb, with Tebow-like scrappiness

Friday, January 13th, 2012

“Hey everyone, this is Tim Tebow. And you’re listening to Kelley and Company on KNUS.”

You hear that on KNUS’ Kelley and Company many days, and you wonder, did Tebow mean to say, “KHOW.”

That’s Dan Caplis’ radio station, where Caplis promotes Tebow as if he were god.

Or did Tebow mean to say “KOA,” which is the radio station that almost certainly pays big bucks to have Tebow on the air Mondays.

So I called Steve Kelley, who recently returned from a three-day stint in Iowa, to find out how he scored the Tebow promotion, and it turns out Kelley landed Tebow himself to do the blurb for his show.

Around June, Kelley told me, Tebow was promoting his autobiography, Through My Eyes.

“Obviously he wants to get on some of the Christian stations speaking to his audience,” Kelley says. “I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”

“Salem is a Christian-owned group of stations, and so there’s already a built-in network on the Christian side,” Kelley told me. “And KNUS is on the secular side of Salem Communications.”

Tebow was scheduled to speak on Denver’s KRKS, owned by Salem, which bills itself as offering “life-changing Christian radio broadcasts.” (Salem is known as a right-wing broadcaster.)

“But there were no live shows on KRKS  at the time Tebow was able to call,” Kelley told me. “I was hanging out, and so it was like, hey, it’s Tebow on the line, do you want to do an interview with him. I thought sure, I’ll talk to the kid. He wasn’t nearly as popular as he is know, at least as a Bronco.

“I said, hey Tim, would you mind doing a quick liner for me, because it’s a new show and it would be a great favor, and I’d appreciate it. And sure, he did it. He was gracious in doing it. I don’t know if he got himself in trouble. Or if someone would say, You can’t use Tebow. He’s ours!”

“KOA has a franchise on the Broncos,” Kelley pointed out. “But they don’t have the franchise on Tim Tebow necessarily.”

That’s the kind of thinking Tebow would love.

You have to hope the person most proud of Kelley is Dan Caplis.

Factcheck.org should have clarified that Romney would agree with Gingrich ad alleging Romney expanded access to “abortion”

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

If you’ve ever tried to “fact check” a political ad, you know it’s a lot harder than it looks. What do the ads’ sparse words mean? What do the candidate’s vague positions include? At what point is an ad untrue, or three quarters of the way to the right on the pants-on-fire meter?

But to you journalists out there who are trying to fact check ads having anything to do with Mitt Romney and abortion, get ready for your head to explode.

Take for example Newt Gingrich’s ad attacking Romney for allegedly expanding access to abortion.

Respected journalists Lori Robertson and Robert Farley at Factcheck.org concluded that it was “highly misleading” for Gingrich’s ad to state that Romney “expanded access to abortion pills.”

The “abortion pills” in question are what most people would call “contraception.”  Known as “Plan B” or morning-after pills, they are high-dose birth-control pills that can prevent a fertilized egg (or zygote) from thriving in the uterus. In 2005, Romney allowed expanded access to Plan B in Massachusetts.

Factcheck.org reported that because “abortion” was not actually involved, but instead “contraception” pills, then Romney cannot be credibly accused of expanding access to abortion.

I personally would agree with Factcheck.org, and its conclusion is in keeping with current law, but Romney himself would not agree.

Romney, like Gingrich, has stated that life begins at conception, and Romney told Mike Huckabee just this year that he’d “absolutely” favor a personhood amendment in Massachusetts’ constitution defining life as beginning at conception.

So Romney himself would define Plan B as an “abortifacient,” which is the word that anti-abortion activists use to describe “contraception” and other things that cause “abortions.” And he’s written as much.

Therefore, using Romney’s own definition of abortion, he expanded access to abortion by giving the green light to morning-after pills. And to be consistent, Romney would have to call them “abortion pills.”

To be fair to Gingrich, Factcheck.org should have stated this as they panned the Gingrich ad. Gingrich and Romney should define “abortion” and “contraception” the same way, because they both believe life begins at conception.

But Factcheck.org did offer some key context:

To be sure, some abortion opponents have pushed for a so-called “personhood” law declaring that life begins at the moment a human egg is fertilized, which could make the “morning-after” pill illegal, and arguably an “abortion” pill. But an effort to pass such a law by ballot initiative was recently rejected by more than 55 percent of voters in Mississippi. And of course, it wasn’t the law in Massachusetts.

Our view is that the language in the ad misleads voters into thinking Romney expanded access to RU-486, which – there’s no debate about it – induces abortion.

Nationally, journalists have had a hard time sorting out Romney’s position on personhood, with some reporters incorrectly stating that Romney has no position on the issue.

But here in Colorado, possibly because he’s had plenty of time to ponder the issue during past election cycles with personhood amendments, Denver Post Editorial Page Editor Curtis Hubbard has correctly concluded that Romney has come out for personhood. (Romney has flipped his position of federal personhood, but he’s stated that he’s for it at the state level.)

Just this week, Hubbard re-stated his view on Jon Caldara’s Devil’s Advocate television show on Colorado Public Television, KBDI:

“Romney already came out for personhood at the state level,” Hubbard told Caldara. “So if Romney is the nominee, he’s going to be asked that same question [about personhood]. It’s going to be difficult.”

Difficult for Romney would be seeing the doctor in the Bennet TV ad saying Romney wants to outlaw birth control, which, by Romney’s and Gingrich’s definition of “abortion,” and given their support of “personhood,” would be deemed by fact checkers as absolutely true.