Archive for October, 2012

Telluride Watch deserves credit for informing us about Brown’s future legislative plans

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Rep. J. Paul Brown introduced legislation last year that would have overturned a 1992 ballot initiative banning bear hunting in the spring and summer.

Brown took a lot of heat for this, from all quarters, including environmental groups and the Durango Herald, and his bill died.

But as far as I can tell, no one reported on whether Brown will introduce the bill again, if he survives a tough challenge in his House District 59 race.

That is, until the Telluride Watch’s Samantha Wright reported Oct. 18:

“I’d like to try it again,” [Brown] said of his bear legislation. “It is not my  intention to kill mommas and baby bears. But I know that we’ve got a problem and  if we don’t do something, someone is going to get killed.”

Wright reported that Brown continues to believe that the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife should be deciding how to manage bears, even though the Parks Division didn’t request his bill.

Regardless of the merits of Brown’s bill, the Telluride Watch deserves credit for letting voters know how Brown’s legislative ups and downs will play out again if he’s re-elected.

Radio hosts should tell House candidate that as a personhood supporter, he’s opposed to in-vitro fertilization

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

On KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado last week, Rep. Robert Ramirez complained about a mailer pointing out that Ramirez is opposed to in-vitro fertilization.

Maybe I’m a bit more personhood-obsessed than radio host Ken Clark, but I know that Ramirez, who’s running for House District 29, supports the personhood amendment.

And, as I explain below, a personhood law would effectively ban in-vitro fertilization.

Hence, for those of you who remember your transitive principle (if x=y and y=b, then x=b), Ramirez opposes in-vitro fertilization.

First, here are Ramirez’s comments about personhood to the Colorado Independent:

Ramirez said he does support the personhood amendment.

“I signed the petition, but it has been voted down.” He says if personhood was introduced in the legislature, he would vote against it, because the people have already spoken twice. “I will sign it and I will fight for it every day of the week, but I won’t bypass the voters,” he said.

Yet, on the radio, Ramirez said he has no clue why his opponents would accuse him of being opposed to in-vitro fertilization:

KLZ HOST CLARK:  Well, I’ve seen some of those fliers and I’ve got to tell you, they are appalling—some of the things they’ve tried to , you know, no so subtly accuse you of.

RAMIREZ:  Mmm-hmm.

CLARK:  I mean, give me a break!  I mean, but—

RAMIREZ:  There’s one going out now saying I’m against in-vitro fertilization. Really? I’ve never even been asked.  [laughter]

CLARK: And you make it sound like that matters, somehow.

RAMIREZ: You know, if somebody wants to get pregnant and they go to their doctor and say, “Does this work?”   That’s their business, not mine….

I wish Clark had corrected Ramirez, because it does none of us any good to allow misinformation to hit the air waves unchallenged.

Here are a few passages from a carefully written research paper, co-authored by Colorado’s own Ari Armstrong, on how a personhood law would shut down fertility clinics in Colorado. (Armstrong is an independent blogger and sometime researcher for the Independence Institute).

In a section called “Bans on Common Fertility Treatments,” Armstrong and co-author Diana Hsieh, Ph. D.write:

In the context of a “personhood” law, the basic problem with in vitro fertilization is that often not all of the embryos are transferred to the woman’s uterus. Embryos in the lab could not be allowed to perish, nor languish in cold storage, as they would be considered persons with rights, and frozen embryos remain viable only for a few years. To eliminate such practices would render in vitro fertilization not worth doing for most infertile couples. So the practical result of Amendment 62 likely would be to shut down Colorado’s seven reproductive clinics and put an end to those births.

Finally, consider how Amendment 62 would change the legal status of all the frozen embryos now in existence: they would suddenly become “persons” under the law, with all the rights of born infants. Presumably, women would be forced to implant (or donate for implantation) all their existing embryos–or face criminal charges. Moreover, if the biological parents of a frozen embryo die, presumably the embryo has full rights of inheritance, thereby reducing the share of any born children, though how the frozen embryo will grow up to collect remains a problem.

This fantastical scenario highlights the absurdity of treating an embryo as a person in the law.

Ari Armstrong is on Clark’s radio show every now and then, and I hope Clark will ask Armstrong to discuss this issue next time he has the chance, the sooner the better, to set the record straight for KLZ listeners.

Asked if he’d allow a raped woman to have an abortion, Coffman says he’s “not focused on social issues”

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

When Ken Buck ran for Senate in 2010, he was asked, directly on at least two occasions, why he was against allowing a raped woman to have an abortion.

But, as far as I know, no one has reported Mike Coffman’s extended thoughts on the subject, beyond his statement that he’s “against all abortions, except when it is necessary to protect the life of the mother.”

So I tried to put the question to him at a public event this morning. I didn’t get a chance to discuss the issue with Coffman, or even explain who I was and what I was doing, because he walked away so quickly, but here’s what transpired.

Jason Salzman: Say, on this question of rape and incest, is it really something–would you stop a person from having, who’s been raped, an abortion? [Editor's note: Sorry for being so inarticulate.]

Mike Coffman: You know, we just don’t–I’m not focused on social issues.

(See the video here: Mike Coffman won’t explain why he’s opposed to abortion, even for rape and incest.)

I wasn’t  expecting such treatment from a candidate who promised The Denver Post to give “very specific” answers to all questions. Oh, and to do so “personally.” But he walked away.

The aborted conversation took place this morning prior to the final debate between Coffman, a Republican, and his Democratic opponent Joe Miklosi. They’re running to represent Colorado’s sixth congressional district, regarded as among the most hotly contested in the country. In the country! The entire nation!

As such, you’d think Coffman and Miklosi would  have been pressed by national and local reporters on pretty much every issue out there, particularly on the issues that matter to a swing voting bloc like women.

But, somehow, the details of Coffman’s thinking on abortion, why he’s come to take such a hard-line stance, have fallen through the journalistic cracks.

Outside the auditorium, activists with Colorado Fair Share, Campaign for a Strong Colorado, Colorado Progressive Action, and ProgressNow Colorado,  held signs in support of Miklosi, who’s staked out a clear and detailed pro-choice position, in contrast to Coffman’s anti-abortion stance.

Reporter photographing inflatable "Fat Cat," erected by activists to show Rep. Mike Coffman's ties to wealthier Americans

Reporter photographing inflatable "Fat Cat," erected by activists to show Rep. Mike Coffman's ties to wealthier Americans

“I’m fed up with Congressman Coffman because he just doesn’t represent average people like me,” said Wanda Ramey, an Aurora grandmother and former Republican.  “Medicare and education are important to me, both of which he would cut dramatically – just to pay for even more tax breaks for the richest 1% who don’t even need them.”

 

Personhood leader calls Coffman a “statesman” for standing firm for personhood

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Rep. Mike Coffman stands alone as a major Colorado politician in close election who has not withdrawn his previous support for the personhood amendment, which would ban all abortion, even in the case of rape and incest.

In 2010, Ken Buck walked away from personhood, saying he didn’t understand the amendment, though he stuck to his position against abortion for rape.

And this election, personhood donor Joe Coors withdrew support of the amendment with no explanation, as if he’d never been a backer.

I honestly feel bad for personhood activists who stand there watching these guys flip like this. And I’m not just saying that. It happens on the left side of the political spectrum too. It sucks.

But Coffman isn’t running away from his personhood past. He’s not jumping up and down for personhood. In fact, he says social issues aren’t his focus, but he has yet to denounce it, and he’s maintaining his opposition to abortion, even in the case of rape and incest.

I would have liked to read an article, even an itsy bitsy one, on how personhood folks feel about Coffman. So I asked well-known personhood organizer Leslie Hanks if she was surprised by Coffman’s stance.

“Not at all,” she emailed me. “That’s the difference between a statesman and a politician.”

Hanks, who recently retired as president of Colorado Right to Life, is a veteran personhood leader in the state.

“It’s a courageous stand, especially that district,” said one well-placed national pro-life activist, who didn’t want his name used due to possible political backlash. “It says a lot about Mike Coffman. It pleases me greatly.”

Coffman’s dedication to this issue appears to be longstanding.

Mike Coffman once wrote a letter to Dan Caplis to clarify his position against abortion, even in the case of rape and incest. It was incorrectly announced on the radio show that Coffman was pro-choice when it came to abortion for rape or incest.

Asked about this in August, Caplis emailed me he wasn’t surprised that Coffman went out of his way to be clear that he was against abortion in the case of rape and incest. “Mike has always been such a champion of the pro-life cause that I think the issue was quickly resolved,” Caplis wrote.

Two more great examples of political journalism in Colorado this election season

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

Here are a couple new additions to my list of this election season’s best political journalism in Colorado.

The first is the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning, whose reporting on state legislative races across Colorado stands in a class by itself this election season.  His most recent installment stunned me with it breadth and depth. You’ll love it if you’re trying to figure out what’s up with the leg races this year.

Here’s Luning’s take on where things stand:

Control of the Senate appears likely to stay in Democratic hands after the election, though the party’s margin could dwindle. Republicans would have to win every one of the state’s four competitive Senate seats — and avoid surprises elsewhere — in order to take over the chamber, a feat that appears increasingly less likely as the population of active voters becomes clear. It’s less clear in the House, where every seat is up for election and candidates are looking at a jumbled map following reapportionment.

9News Kyle Clark was on my previous list for his impressive effort to track down Rep. Mike Coffman, who was hiding from reporters after a video emerged showing Coffman telling supporters that Obama is not an American “in his heart.” Coffman also said he didn’t even know if Obama was an American. Clark interviewed Coffman on the street, and the Congressman continued his strange pattern of dodging questions on the topic.

Clark asked Obama a series of tough questions in an interview aired on 9News yesterday. Colorado Pols put it well in a blog post this morning, saying Clark’s journalism “should make both conservatives and liberals proud:”

Clark’s interview with President Obama via satellite yesterday featured a feisty-but-respectful reporter launching immediately into the list of what Republicans consider the most salient attacks on Obama today: the recent terrorism against the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the Department of Energy loan guarantee program for renewable energy that, in addition to its many successes, includes failures like Solyndra and Colorado’s Abound Solar…

Lots of political types spend a lot of time complaining about the state of journalism today. But there’s still plenty of great work being done, and I’m thinking we’ll see more before the election ends.

Reporters should question Coffman on abortion for rape and incest like they did Ken Buck

Friday, October 26th, 2012

In a good story today, Associated Press reporter Ivan Moreno, discusses how the personhood amendment isn’t on the Colorado ballot but it’s nonetheless a big part of this year’s election debate. The Associated Press reported:

An anti-abortion proposal to ban the procedure in all circumstances isn’t on Colorado ballots this year — but the divisive measure is still playing a big role in the state’s political campaigns.

The article goes on to report the details, which I’ll get into below, but readers would have benefited from some background on how GOP candidates in Colorado talked about their ties to personhood in 2010. And compared that to what’s happening today.

Two years ago, U.S. Senate candidate Ken Buck decided to un-endorse personhood, but stuck to his position opposing abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest. Other top-line personhood supporters in 2010, like Rep. Cory Gardner and Rep. Mike Coffman, did not back off their positions.

This time, as AP reports, GOP congressional candidate Joe Coors has apparently un-endorsed personhood, and he’s definitely flipped on his position opposing abortion in the case of rape and incest.

But Mike Coffman is following Ken Buck’s path on personhood, distancing himself from the measure itself, but standing firm with key elements of personhood, including opposition to embryonic stem cell research and abortion for rape and incest.

He told The Denver Post in August, with no elaboration, that he’s against all abortion, except to save the mother’s life.

Today’s AP article points out that Coffman is trying to skirt personhood-related questions by saying he’s not focused on abortion rights.

That’s exactly what Buck tried to do, but reporters and other media types, like KHOW’s Craig Silverman, rightfully wouldn’t let him get away with continuing the dodge. They pressed Buck on the issue, forcing him to explain his thinking fully and openly.

And they were right to do so, as women’s issues are of obvious importance to voters.

Recall this exchange with Buck on KHOW’s defunct Caplis and Silverman radio show:

Craig: Let’s say, god forbid, that a 13-year-old boy impregnates his 14-year-old sister and does it by forced rape. You’re saying that the 14-year-old and anybody involved in the abortion should be prosecuted, if they choose to terminate the pregnancy, either through surgical abortion or a morning after pill?

Buck: I think it is wrong, Craig. I think it is morally wrong. And you are taking a very small group of cases and making a point about abortion. We have hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of abortions in this country every year. And the example that you give is a very poignant one but an extremely rare occurrence.

Craig: Incest happens. I’m sure your office prosecutes it. And we know rape and sexual assault happen all the time, and your office prosecutes it. So it’s not completely rare. I agree that most abortions have nothing to do with that. I don’t know if I’d go with rare.

And during a televised debate on CBS4, Gloria Neal asked Buck, “Will you really make a raped woman carry a child to full term?”

Buck said that “we need to stay focused on the issues that voters in this state care about, and those are spending and jobs.”

Neal responded:

“Social issues are important to the voters in this state. I am one of them. So I need you to answer that question, because in addition to votes and jobs and all of that abortion is very important, and when you start talking about rape and incest, that is important to the voters. So, please, answer that question.”

Buck then said:

“I am pro-life, and I don’t believe in the exceptions of rape and incest.”

This is the kind of questioning we need from reporters when Mike Coffman tries to dodge questions about personhood/rape because these issues allegedly aren’t his current focus, though obviously they have been in the past.

Post promises to post “overlooked” column, spotlighting Joe Coors’ investment failure, on its website

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Update: On Friday, Oct. 26, The Post added the column to its website.

———————

A couple weeks ago, syndicated columnist Al Lewis wrote a devastating piece about Joe Coors, which The Denver Post didn’t run.

That was a surprise, because The Post posts most all of Lewis’ columns online–and usually one runs in the business section of Sunday’s print edition.

Amped up by the election, I was thinking that the plain-spoken destruction of Coors by Lewis might have led to its absence from The Post’s slice of cyberspace.

Lewis’ column raised questions about how Coors can get away with touting his business expertise on the campaign trail when Coors “gave millions in 2002 to a con artist who promised him a 75% weekly rate of return.”

But what added value to this old story was Coors’ refusal to talk to Lewis, a former Post columnist who now writes for Dow Jones:

I would have let him tell the story in his own words, instead of the words in a trail of federal court documents, old news reports, and his adversaries. But his communications director, Michelle Yi, responded to my request in an email, saying that Coors was too busy with his campaign to give me an interview. “We can and will try to arrange something most definitely after the election,” she wrote. [Bigmedia emphasis]

Yi’s response goes down in my annals of public relations strategies as “nice try.” Coors wants to campaign on his record as a great businessman, but like a Las Vegas gambling addict, he only wants to talk about the deals he won.

If I were The Post, that’s the kind of writing I’d beg to have on my website, and in my newspaper. But it wasn’t there. Why?

“I’m happy to answer your question,” Post Business Editor Kristi Arellano emailed me yesterday. “But I’m afraid the answer won’t be nearly as interesting as you would like. We get Al Lewis’ column via email and it is manually dropped into our system and launched online by the editorial assistant in the business section. That individual was on vacation, and the column got overlooked. It was not an intentional decision. Rather, it was an unfortunate oversight caused by short-staffing.”

I told Arellano that, yes, if Lewis’ column had been spiked due to threatening calls from Coors, and intervention from Post Editor Greg Moore, it would have made a better blog post for me. (In fact, such questions about outside intervention were raised in 2010 when a Lewis column, telling the story of how John Elway called Lewis a “scumbag,” was not printed in The Post. Like Coors, Elway had also lost millions of dollars in a ponzi scheme. Here’s Westword blogger Michael Roberts’ 2010 account of this.)

In any case, I asked Arellano if she’d run the column, and she said she’d “circle back” and post it online, adding that the column “fell through the cracks–and that should not have happened.” I’ll update this blog post when the column appears online.

Follow up needed on whether Coffman is giving personal and specific answers to questions from voters, as promised to Post

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

UPDATE: The Post’s Kurtis Lee has posted a Spot blog post, headlined, “Liberal group posts video revealing failed attempts to reach Congressman Coffman,” addressing whether Coffman has, in fact, been answering questions, as promised. Thanks to the Post for following up on this matter.

—————
A recent post in the Spot Blog had a headline that grabbed your attention, if you’ve been following Rep. Mike Coffman’s up-and-down relationship with reporters, a talk show host, and other people who’ve wanted to ask him questions during this election season. The headline read:

“Have a question for Coffman? Reach out, he’ll respond with a ‘very specific’ answer”

A very specific answer? Great!

The article explained:

“Everybody who has a question can come on to my website, at any point and time, and they can get a very specific answer back,” Coffman said.

An answer from the Congressman directly?

“Absolutely,” Coffman said.

A spokesman told The Post that Coffman would take questions by phone and mail and email as well.

Coffman hadn’t been answering my queries, so I got excited after reading this and decided to post some questions that reporters and I could ask Coffman, while Coffman was in the mood for answering questions not hiding (e.g., holding private “town hall meetings” behind the closed doors of large corporations.)

I still got no response from Coffman.

It’s quite a promise Coffman made to personally answer all questions with specificity, when you think about it, especially the answering-questions-personally part, and I was glad Denver Post reporter Kurtis Lee wrote about it.

But now it’s been three weeks, and we don’t know if Coffman has kept his promise. There are signs, including this video and my experience, that he didn’t, but we don’t know for sure, because neither Lee nor any other reporter in town has informed us on how Coffman’s heat-of-the-election-openness-pledge has been working out.

The Post obviously has no obligation to follow up on every blog post, but in this case, given Coffman’s unusual promise, casting him in quite the flattering light, I think The Post owes readers another story assessing whether Coffman’s kept his promise, especially because it was made five weeks before the election and there’s about two weeks left.

Radio host should ask Sampson if he’ll testify against Obama later

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

You recall that Colorado State Senate candidate John Sampson got in a dispute last week on KHOW radio with Orly Taitz, who said she served Sampson with a subpoena to appear at a birther trial in Indiana, aiming to knock President Barack Obama off the election ballot there.

With KHOW radio host Peter Boyles trying to mediate, Sampson told Taitz that he’d not received her subpoena, and he had no plans to testify at her trail, as he’d done previously at a trial in Georgia.

Taitz told Sampson that Sampson would be facing contempt of court charges if he did not appear, and at one point Sampson told Boyles to “put a muzzle” on Taitz, and Sampson threatened on air to sue Taitz for defamation of character.

Now Taitz has posted a fed ex receipt on her website proving, she writes, that Sampson has been officially served with the subpoena to testify.

On her blog, Taitz explained why she posted the receipt:

On Peter Boyle (sic) show John Sampson claimed that a subpoena was defective because it was mailed to his work address. He put his address at issue. Additionally his residence address is at issue, a he is running for office in Colorado and needs to show that he resides in the district.

In response I served him yet again by FedEx and posted the receipt, showing that the subpoena was received yet again at his home address and he does not have any excuse not to show up and not to testify. He can be found in contempt of court and liable to Plaintiffs, if he does not comply with the subpoena and does not show up to testify and authenticate his own sworn affidavit.

Boyles tried to interview Sampson on-air yesterday, but Sampson didn’t come on the show because he was campaigning.

When he comes back on the show, sooner or later, Boyles should ask Sampson if he’ll continue testifying in birther trials like Taitz’s, once Sampson is finished campaigning and has cleared up the other legal hurdles that he mentioned to Boyles last week.

Or has Sampson’s intense dispute with Taitz soured him on his work showing that Obama is using the Social Security number of a man from Connecticut?

 

Boyd, Moreno, Plunkett, Stokols, and Verlee to discuss news coverage of 2012 election on Nov. 9 panel

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

On Nov. 9, a panel of media types will discuss the journalistic triumphs and lapses of the 2012 election–and answer your questions. This is your chance to talk back to some of Colorado’s leading journalists.

The panel includes:

  • Shaun Boyd, Political Specialist, CBS4
  • Ivan Moreno, Reporter, Associated Press
  • Chuck Plunkett, Politics Editor, The Denver Post
  • Eli Stokols, Political Reporter, KDVR Fox 31 and KWGN TV
  • Megan Verlee, Reporter, Colorado Public Radio

Moderator: Diane Carman, Director of Communications, University of Colorado Denver

Friday, November 9, 2012

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

Panel discussion 8 – 9 a.m.

Independence Institute

727 East 16th Ave.

Free and open to the public

Please come with questions for the journalists. You can also submit questions in advance to Ms. Carman at diane.carman@ucdenver.edu.

Free parking available as well as on-street parking

Please RSVP to jason@bigmedia.org

Sponsors:  BigMedia.org, Independence Institute, University of Colorado Denver

For more information, please contact Jason Salzman at 303-292-1524 or jason@bigmedia.org.