Archive for the 'Blogs' Category

Colorado GOP chair appears to side with those who think Trump doesn’t need magic number of delegates to win on first ballot

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Former Fox 31 Denver political reporter Eli Stokols writes that GOP operatives see Donald Trump winning the GOP nomination if he gets close to the magic number of 1,237 delegates.

Colorado GOP Steve House appears to agree, according to Stokols’ post yesterday:

When the convention opens in Cleveland in mid-July, roughly 200 delegates will arrive as free agents, unbound by the results of primaries or caucuses in their states. Trump’s campaign is confident they can win as many of them as they must in order to get to 1,237 on the first ballot.

“Trump has to get to 1,237, but there’s a lot of talk about, ‘What is the real number?’” said another RNC member. “Whatever half the uncommitted number is, that’s probably a reasonable number.”

“I think a lot of people think if he gets within 50 to 100 [of 1,237], he’ll be able to carry it,” said Steve House, Colorado’s GOP chairman and an unbound delegate already being courted by the Trump and Cruz campaigns.

House hasn’t said how he’d vote, but he validates the point that Trump has a serious shot a locking up the nomination during the first round of voting at the GOP national convention in Cleveland, even if he doesn’t arrive with all the delgates he needs.

This is a substantial departure from the narrative you hear most often in the news, that Trump has to have the full 1,237 going in to win on the first ballot.

Breitbart should state that Woods likes Trump, making her involvement in pro-Cruz shenanigans unlikely

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Breitbart’s Julia Hahn reports that four Colorado lawmakers, who are members of Ted Cruz’s “Colorado Leadership Team, voted against a 2015 bill that would have created a presidential primary in Colorado.

Trump has said the absence of a primary or caucus vote helped Cruz trounce Trump in the race for Colorado delegates. And Hahn’s story implies that Cruz supporters in Colorado’s legislature might have been working to squash Trump as early as last year, when they voted against a bill establishing open primary that might have benefited Trump.

“Social media posts, along with Cruz’s campaign website, reveal that Sen. Ted Cruz supporters in the Colorado Republican Party were responsible for crushing an effort to give Colorado the ability to vote in a state primary…The four Republicans who voted against the initiative were Sen. Kevin Grantham, Sen. Kent Lambert, Sen. Laura Woods, and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg.”

The trouble with this conspiracy theory is that Woods is actually factually on record as saying Trump is one of her top two favorite presidential candidates. As such, Woods is the only elected official in the state to affirmatively say she likes Trump.

Woods “narrowed the field” after watching the GOP prez debate in Boulder, and she concluded that her “favorites are Ted Cruz and Donald Trump” (here at 25 min, 50 seconds).

Later, Woods “liked” a Facebook post by The Conservative Update, which stated:

‘Like’ if you would vote for Donald Trump if he were the 2016 GOP nominee.

So if Woods was secretly in the tank for Cruz last year, when she voted against the presidential-primary bill, she, at a minimum, had a change of heart after being wowed by Trump at the Boulder GOP debate. But, more likely, she voted against the prez-primary bill for other reasons.

In any case, Hahn should update her post with the fact that Woods praised Trump and said he was one of her favorite candidaates along with Cruz, before she jumped on the Cruz boat.

Bartels’ blog: Smart PR? A partisan problem? A new kind of journalism?

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

When political reporter Lynn Bartels left The Denver Post last year for a communications job at the Secretary of State’s (SOS) office, it appeared she’d left journalism.

But it turns out, maybe not completely—depending on your definition of journalism.

As the communications director for Colorado Republican SOS Wayne Williams, Bartels is writing a blog with some of the same types of stories that you saw her write at The Post and, before that, at the Rocky Mountain News.

Titles of recent Bartels posts, for example, include: “Senate Republicans embrace the past and future at pre-session fundraiser,” “Back by popular demand! Sarah Moss’ State of the Union bingo!,” “More babies! Colorado politicos celebrate!,” “OnSight Public Affairs’ holiday card is outta site,” “Wayne Williams: Colorado secretary of state and good Samaritan,” “Secretary of State Wayne Williams outlines agency’s goals, achievements at SMART act hearing,” and “Sen. Cory Gardner, ‘our environmentalist,’ addresses CACI.”

Some of this is good PR for Williams and his office. Some of it is human-interest journalism. Some of it is soft political reporting.

Regardless, it’s quickly become part of Denver’s journalism mix, in the era of disappearing reporters and starved political junkies.

And Bartels’ blog comes with a caveat that most other blogging flaks in the world can only dream of, “The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not of the office.”

When she started her new job, Bartels explains, she told her boss, “The Post and the Rocky used to have people assigned to the Secretary of State’s office. And they don’t have that anymore. It’s just part of generic government. Some of this stuff you’re just not going to get promoted, if you don’t promote it yourself.” He signed off on the concept.

But why all the posts that have nothing to do with the SOS office?

“When I started, someone from the Secretary of State’s office said, ‘This is going to be solely about the Secretary of State’s office, isn’t it?’ And I said, ‘No, who would read it?’ And Wayne burst out laughing and said the same thing.”

So for those of you who might hate the idea of Bartels doing Christmas-card stories on the taxpayer dime, she makes a good PR case for it, I’d say. And hey, her blog is featured number one on the list of “costumer favorites” on the Colorado SOS home page.

Bartels blog could possibly be a model for how PR at a state agency could compensate, in an itsy bitsy way, for diminished journalism.

But you run into trouble when a state-sponsored blog is used for partisan purposes. Or even if it’s perceived that way. That’s yuck bad.

Bartels acknowledged the problem with, “If the secretary of state were Scott Gessler, people would be blowing a rod.”

As it is, Bartels says one of her posts was used by a Democratic candidate for fundraising (without Bartels approval or knowledge, she says). A handful mention candidates, giving them a de facto PR boost.

Bartels wrote a partisan-looking post Jan. 12 titled, Senate Republicans embrace the past and future at pre-session fundraiser. This post is basically a GOP fluff piece, going out of its way to name Republican candidates and saying “at times” Senate President Bill Cadman is “pretty close” to being as funny as Bill Murray.

But if you look at her blog, it’s clear Bartels, who says she’s a Republican herself, isn’t blatantly pushing Republicans over Dems (outside of her boss). She’s written favorable posts about Democrats Sen. Kerry Donovan and former Lt. Governor Joe Garcia, for example. Still, I think Bartels should stay away from mentioning candidates, potential candidates, and highly partisan stuff.

As for breaking news, one of Bartels’ tweets broke a story about a GOP candidate entering the governor’s race. One blog post broke news about the death of a well-liked Republican consultant.

“If I wanted to break political news on that blog, I could break it a lot. It’s not my goal,” she says, adding she’s too busy anyway. “I could have broken the Jon Keyser story, but I didn’t.”

“I’ve used the blog to promote our office, to promote county clerks, to promote things that we’re doing,” Bartels says, adding that the blogging results in long hours for her. “The county clerks love it.”

“If groups invite Wayne to speak, I’ll write something,” she said. (But I’m guessing fewer Democrats than Republicans will want to hear Williams.)

It makes you wonder, are PR folk pitching stories to Bartels, like they did when she was at The Post?

Not really, she tells me, sounding a little vague.

“Hey, I’ve got to take this call,” Bartels said, ending our conversation. Some things never change.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that a Republican used Bartels’ blog post for fundraising purposes. It was actually a Democrat, according to Bartels. 

GOP critic fires back: Is the Colorado Republican Party trying to hide something?

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

Some Colorado Republicans aren’t happy about the state vice chair’s request that fellow Republicans stop publicly dissecting the work of State Chair Steve House “word-by-word, line-by-line in an effort to demonstrate his incompetence (at best) or corruptness (at worst).”

In a sharp response to GOP Vice Chair Derrick Wilburn’s Dec. 28 open letter, longtime Republican activist Marilyn Marks asked Wilburn for specifics about why her scrutiny of House should be curtailed.

“My over-riding question here—Did I write something inaccurate, or untrue?” asked Marks in a letter to Wilburn. “Or are you objecting to my writing true statements that the party does not like seeing published?”

Marks: “I see party officers here acting with irrational emotion because they are criticized for false financial reporting, financial mismanagement, flawed election processes, disparate application/violation of bylaws, and poor personnel decisions. If the criticism is unfounded, then answer it with facts. If the criticism is valid, then remedy the problem—don’t attempt to just shoot the messenger. If I am wrong, tell me where I’m wrong on the facts I allege. I make plenty of mistakes. I’ll correct errors immediately if you point them out.”

After being challenged on Facebook by Marks and others, Wilburn wrote in another post:

Wilburn: “Steve House is our boy. Whether I like it, you like it, Juan Valdez or Pope Francis likes it or not is moot. He’s carrying the baton on the final lap of this race. Watching closely is fine and good, but for Republicans to be actively sticking our feet out in an effort to trip him, I would argue, is counter-productive. When we show up at his speeches, record them, then post onto the internet with commentary that’s something we’d expect from ColoradoPols – we’re doing COPols’ job for them. The old ‘with friends like this who needs enemies?’ comes to mind. This is not helpful.”

Wilburn’s comments come after years of upheaval within the Colorado Republican Party, as it has slowly lost power in the state, as chronicled not just by liberal ColoradoPols but all media outlets in the Colorado.

Grassroots GOP activists claim that Republican Party mismanagement, in addition to unprincipled candidates, backed by powerful but clueless establishment interests, are the root cause of the GOP’s problems.

Other Republicans argue that GOP activists and GOP base voters in Colorado, who take ardent conservative stands on an array of issues, are out of touch with mainstream Colorado opinion. These so-called liberty activists, they argue, scare off the swing voting bocs, like Hispanics and women, needed to win elections in this state.

 

A Colorado governor who fought bigotry–and won in the end

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

During WWII, the U.S. government forced Japanese Americans  from their homes on the West Coast and moved them to interior states. Kansas Gov. Payne Ratner, reflected the opinions of many governors when she responded at the time with, “Japs are not wanted and not welcome in Kansas.”

With at least 22 Republican governors saying they’ll try to keep Syrian refugees out of their states, Denver University’s Seth Masket wrote a blog post yeserday reminding us of this and pointing out that Colorado Governor Ralph Carr “stood out” among his fellow governors at the time and declared that the forced relocation of the Japanese Americans under Executive Order 9066 was unconstitutional. He also welcomed them to Colorado.

Masket didn’t mention Hickenlooper, who has welcomed Syrian refugees, but the loose parallel between the two Colorado governors isn’t lost on anyone reading Masket’s post, titled “The governor who didn’t give in to fear … and paid a price for it.

Masket: “Obviously, the relocation of American citizens of Japanese ancestry is not the same as accepting refugees from another country,” writes Masket, who’s an Associate Professor of Political Science at DU. “But there are clear parallels, particularly in the political incentives governors are confronting. It’s not just that it’s easy to demagogue against foreign invaders; it’s that it’s sometimes politically risky not to. The governors refusing to take in Syrian refugees today may or may not know Ralph Carr’s name, but they have surely imagined his fate, and they don’t want the same for themselves.” [BigMedia emphasis]

Masket cites the Principled Politician, former 9News reporter Adam Schrager’s much-acclaimed biography of Carr. The book shows the respect Carr has now, in hindsight, even though his stance during WWII ended his political career.

I asked Schrager, who retweeted Masket’s post, about the similarities–or lack thereof–between Carr’s stance and the situation today.

Schrager: There are some similarities and some differences with the Syrian refugee situation as it’s not a true apples-to-apples comparison, primarily because the “refugees” in question in 1942 already lived in the U.S. They simply weren’t citizens, and as students of Executive Order 9066 will point out, even citizenship did not matter to President Roosevelt and, at that time, to the U.S. Supreme Court, which originally upheld the de facto jailing of American citizens of Japanese descent in addition to those who weren’t.

The other major difference between the times is that Gov. Carr was basically alone in his stand. Nowhere in the country at that time do you find a politician of equal stature both agreeing to help the U.S. government “win the war” by housing/incarcerating people of Japanese descent as well as defending the Constitutional rights of Americans citizen with that heritage to remain free. One of the things that’s always struck me about Gov. Carr is how lonely he was, going against friends and relatives, who didn’t understand where he was coming from. As inflammatory as some may believe the rhetoric is today, consider that Wyoming Gov. Nels Smith said in 1942, “If anyone of Japanese descent were sent to his state, they’d be found hanging from every pine tree.” (Source: http://www.heartmountain.org/lifeincamp.html)

In today’s situation, while there are a number of politicians who are “refusing” to allow Syrian refugees into their states, there are also a number who are more accepting.

The major similarity is that, in both times, state leaders, must have known then and currently know now, they really have no authority in this area. It’s the federal government which determines immigration policy and politics aside, there’s really not much a state can do to stop a resettlement inside its borders. Sure, they can try to stop funding, but courts at the highest levels of our country have determined that even illegal immigrants are entitled to emergency care, education, etc. From reading the sentiments of 1942 leaders, including people like Earl Warren, there’s no doubt in my mind they were legitimately afraid and their comments reflect that. However, a sober approach and a conversation with their states’ respective attorneys general, would have alerted them to the realization they were powerless to stop what the federal government was proposing.

My gut reaction when I heard about this actually surrounded a couple of other situations in recent history, both of which I have little knowledge of, but I think might prove to be a more direct correlation to the topic of Syrian refugees, but even they don’t seem to fit exactly. The first also dates back to World War II when the federal government actually created Prisoner of War camps throughout the interior of the country to house mostly German and Italian soldiers captured overseas. I wonder how communities back then reacted to that.

The second and maybe slightly more relevant surrounds the resettlement of the Hmong, also largely here in the Midwestern part of the country, after the Vietnam War. Again, I have no direct knowledge of any type of xenophobia related to that situation, but I’d imagine—even though in that case you had people who had fought with us—I’m guessing there were fears of welcoming people who looked like those we had spent years fighting to communities.

In his blog post, Masket quotes Carr:

“The Japanese are protected by the same Constitution that protects us. An American citizen of Japanese descent has the same rights as any other citizen… If you harm them, you must first harm me. I was brought up in small towns where I knew the shame and dishonor of race hatred. I grew to despise it because it threatened [pointing to various audience members] the happiness of you and you and you.”

 

 

Trump puts media spotlight on immigration policies of Colorado politicians, like Coffman

Friday, July 31st, 2015

Reflecting yesterday on Donald Trump’s recent pledge to deport, cattle-car style, each and every one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America–and then expedite the return of the “good ones”– the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent called on reporters to extract detailed plans from the herd of Republican presidential candidates regarding their positions on immigration.

Indeed, one hopes that the moderators of the upcoming GOP debate will see an opportunity in Trump’s cattle car musings: why not ask all the GOP candidates whether they agree with him? And if not, where dothey stand on the 11 million exactly? Remember, Mitt Romney’s big “self-deportation” moment came at a GOP primary debate…

The point is that eventually, we’ll need to hear from all the GOP candidates as to what they would do about the 11 million — beyond vaguely supporting legal status, but only after some future point at which we’ve attained a Platonic ideal of border security. Trump may have just made it more likely that this moment will come sooner, rather than later. One can hope, anyway.

It’s a good idea and has direct application here in Colorado, where Republicans, like Rep. Mike Coffman, continue to slide by journalists with vague and shifting statements about immigration.

Like Trump, Coffman has said he favors some sort of “legal status” for adult undocumented immigrants, but it’s not clear whether he’d boot out everyone first, and then allow the good apples to return–or if he’d skip the cattle-car phase and grant “legal status” to the immigrants here.

Either way, would he wait for seamless border security? And what’s good enough, when it comes to the border?

And then, assuming the border is sufficiently seamless, and whether he chooses the cattle-car or no cattle-car opition, does Coffman really want t0 create an underclass of millions of noncitizens in America, with no voice in government? Would we be looking at good old fashioned taxation without representation? What rights (voting?) and responsibilities (military service? taxes?) would be denied? Even Helen Krieble, a Colorado resident who first proposed the cattle-car option, advocates giving a political voice to undocumented immigrants through citizenship.

Details, details. I wouldn’t want to go there either, if I were Coffman–because he’d get bitten by both progressive and conservative sharks. But that’s not a problem for journalists who should be asking him the questions.

Has Cynthia Coffman aired all her grievances about Colorado’s Republican Chair?

Monday, July 20th, 2015

During her June 26 testimony before a Republican committee, which was investigating numerous allegations against Colorado’s GOP chair, State Attorney General Cynthia Coffman was unable to present “significant facts” because of time restrictions.

That’s the allegation in a post today on the conservative Politichicks blog. In the post, Kathryn Porter claims to have had an exclusive interview with Coffman, during which the Attorney General reportedly said she was unable to lay out all her concerns about Steve House, the Chair of the Colorado Republican Party. Porter reported:

“I galloped through my prepared chronology of events but was not able to finish in five minutes. I felt I had to leave out significant facts,” Coffman said.

But Porter, who is a Republican activist and blogger, did not disclose the facts that Coffman omitted or whether the facts might have swayed the Republican executive committee, which ended up supporting House by a 22-1 vote, to denounce the state chair.

“Coffman broke her silence and exposed a stunning disregard for decorum in its treatment of both elected officials and party activists by the executive committee,” wrote Porter.

Porter’s post, titled “Behind Closed Doors in the CO GOP: From Bedrooms to Boardrooms,” outlined the chaotic atmosphere at the June 26 meeting, which was conducted under adverse conditions and unclear guidelines.

As reported previously, former Congressman Tom Tancredo and former Pueblo GOP Chair Becky Mizel were allegedly prevented from distributing a lengthy list of grievances against House, but it’s not clear who wrote Tancredo’s document.

And it’s also not known whether all of Coffman’s “significant facts” were included on the document.

Those are questions worth investigation by reporters.

Reporters should recall another reversal by Stapleton under pressure from conservatives

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

State Treasurer Walker Stapleton apparently caved to pressure from conservatives earlier this month, when he claimed not to have supported legislation that he helped draft and later promoted.

It was a weird reversal–but not the first time Stapleton has walked back a moderate position after hearing from his conservative allies.

In January, in an interview with Colorado Public Radio’s Ryan Warner, Stapleton clearly stated he was open to not returning TABOR refunds.

Asked by Warner if he would support  “something that you felt was responsible and meant the state held on to the TABOR refunds,” Stapleton answered:

Stapleton: “Absolutely. TABOR is the popular whipping post, but Gallagher and Amendment 23 have also created a Gordian Knot of automatic ratchets in the budget and we need to free ourselves of automatic ratchets and get more control over where we spend dollars and more results-oriented spending for our budget going forward in the future. But I’m not opposed reflexively to anything, other than I’m opposed to anything that doesn’t give taxpayers a voice in where their money is being spent.”

Sounds kind of reasonable, doesn’t he, like he did in supporting a common-sense bill to bolster Colorado’s public retirement system. That is until conservatives got to him.

Same thing happened to his reasonable attitude toward TABOR. It disappeared.

Shortly after I blogged that Stapleton was open to not returning TABOR refunds, Peak Politics, a right-wing blog, came out with a piece headlined, “TWISTED WORDS: Liberals Distort Treasurer’s Remarks in Service to Their Own Agenda.”

The post quoted Stapleton’s spokesman, Micheal Fortney.

Stapleton Spokesman: “Walker never said he was for tax increases or Coloradans not getting their refund, only that he was for Coloradans’ right to vote on any proposal that raised taxes. Big difference. Walker was for a full statewide hearing on Amendment 66, the largest proposed tax increase in CO history to date. And Walker weighed in when he led the fight to defeat that wasteful spending initiative. He believed the people’s voice should be heard back then and still does.”

Right, so how did I twist Stapleton’s words by writing that he “was open to not returning TABOR funds”? And why didn’t Fortney say his boss is open to backing such a tax increase?

Looks like the righties at Peak Politics somehow got Stapleton to twist what he was actually recorded as saying–just as conservatives somehow convinced him to deny supporting a bill he helped draft.

Lawmaker’s view that the attack on a pregnant woman is a “curse of god upon America” should be widely reported

Thursday, March 26th, 2015

You had the feeling it was just a matter of time until Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt said something, in his position as a lawmaker, that was so grotesque that it should be widely reported and thoroughly condemned. That time has arrived.

The progressive organization Right Wing Watch reported that Klingenschmitt said, in an online video, that the horrific attack on a pregnant woman March 18 in Longmont is a “curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb.”

Right Wing Watch reported this morning:

On his “Pray In Jesus Name” program today, Klingenschmitt discussed the story and tied it to a passage from Hosea in which God curses the people of Samaria for their rebellion by declaring that “their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open.”

“I wonder if there is prophetic significance to America today in that scripture,” he said. “This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb and part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our pregnant women are ripped open”

This is the kind scream for media attention that Klingenscmitt used to launch regularly, before he was legitimized as a state representative from Colorado Springs. He’d brag about performing an exorcism to root out the “foul spirit of lesbianism” from a woman. He’d rail against abortion and gays.

But since he joined the Colorado state legislature in January, Klingenschmitt, who goes by the name of Dr. Chaps, has been somewhat restrained. Sure, he compared Planned Parenthood to ISIS, but at least he did it in a somewhat round-about way. Perhaps that’s why it was reported by left-leaning media entities, and mostly ignored by other news media.

But how can Klingenschmitt’s latest statement possibly be ignored? It’s along the lines of Pat Robertson blaming abortion and gays for 9/11.

Dr. Chaps isn’t another right-wing nut on YouTube. He’s an elected official making laws under the gold dome in Denver. Where’s the outrage by reporters and other watchdogs?

And what about his fellow Republicans? His statement has the effect of casting all Republicans–not just Klingenschmitt–as being completely out of touch and cold-hearted mean–unless they thoroughly denounce it. But will they?

If Klingenschmitt is going to politicize a horrific tragedy in the name of his anti-choice agenda, he should be called out by reporters and denounced by anyone with a brain. Ignoring him is the wrong way to go.


State representative calls progressive blog “not relevant,” yet talks on and on about it on radio show

Monday, January 26th, 2015

During an obscure appearance Jan. 16 on KLZ 560-AM’s nooner show, Freedom 560, State Rep. Justin Everett and host Ken Clark lit into the progressive blog, ColoradoPols, for its recent blog post listing fictitious names for Republican-sponsored bills in the state legislature.

Everett and Clark spent a good chunk of the show bashing the most-excellent Pols post, which, for example, offered names like “The ‘Right to Discriminate’ Act,” SB 15-069 (Sen. Laura Woods) and “The ‘Felons in Child Care’ Act,” SB 15-070 (Sen. Kevin Lundberg).

They read the make-believe names of the bills. They laughed. They got mad at “the left.” They patted themselves on the back.

Everett addressed Pols directly on air: “[Pols is] very good at spinning things to make them into something they are completely not. All these things, especially the guns bills here on ColoradoPols, it should be ‘Restoring Freedom Act.’ That would be a better definition. ‘Restoring Personal Liberties.’ But apparently you guys are pretty far off the reservation, but we’ve known that, and that’s why you’re not relevant. 

So, they choose to dedicate a segment of the show to Pols, and they say the blog isn’t relevant? How does that work?

Maybe they lump themselves in the non-relevant category, too, allowing them, as non-relevant entities, to focus on another non-relevant entity without worrying about their own relevancy?

I doubt it. Those two are awfully head strong to see themselves as lacking relevancy. So maybe they secretly think Pols is relevant? I called and emailed Everett to find out, but he didn’t get back to me, leaving me feeling no more or less relevant than usual.