Radio interviewers should have questioned Coffman when he compared Veterans officials to ISIS

June 16th, 2015

On Friday, after Rep. Mike Coffman suggested that if leaders of the Veterans Administration were put in charge of ISIS, they would be too incompetent to keep track of beheadings, neither of the radio hosts who conducted the interview questioned Coffman about whether Coffman’s comments were appropriate.

Instead, Steffan Tubbs and April Zesbaugh, the co-hosts of KOA 850-AM’s Colorado’s Morning News, reacted this with:

Tubbs: I don’t know what they’re putting in your orange juice back there.
Zesbaugh: [laughing] He’s on a roll! …It felt like a little stand-up there from the Congressman for a little bit.

Asked whether he thought he took Coffman’s comments too lightly, Tubbs emailed me:

Tubbs: “I was surprised by the Congressman’s remark at the very end of our interview, thus my comment. If someone is concerned with what Congressman Coffman said, they should contact his office.”

Tubbs, who’s a serious advocate (on and off the air) for American troops, was right to express his surprise at Coffman’s comments, which have been criticized by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

But he also should have questioned Coffman directly about the appropriateness of the remark. Tubbs has shown he’s not shy of asking tough questions, once asking Coffman,who was avoiding reporters at the time, about Coffman’s comment that Obama is not an American “in his heart.”

As it is, in part because Coffman wasn’t questioned during the KOA interview Friday, we’re now only hearing from a Coffman spokesman who told Buzzfeed that Coffman’s VA-ISIS comments were, “a controversy only with liberals and the Washington outrage machine. His sarcastic point was obvious – the VA is an organizational disaster.”

During the KOA interview, Coffman said:

Coffman: It’s too bad we can’t take VA leadership and export it and give it to some of our adversaries around the planet. Let them suffer under the VA’s leadership. Can you imagine if the VA was in charge of ISIS? They’d probably say, “Well, you know it wasn’t quite 2,000 that we beheaded – it was really 24 is the accurate number. We’re sorry that, in fact, they were all our own terrorists that were beheaded because they got missclassified in the system as Christians. I mean, that would be [chuckles] the VA, that would be the VA in charge of ISIS.

Yesterday, the Department of Veterans Affairs issued a statement saying Coffman’s comments “do not belong in our public discourse.”

“Veterans and VA employees find [Coffman's comments] highly offensive,” said the VA’s statement on the matter. “(VA) Secretary (Robert) McDonald has spoken to Representative Coffman,”

Tubbs and Zesbaugh should have Coffman back on their morning show to discuss the controversy over the Congressman’s “sarcastic point,” as his spokesman put it.

Radio interview spotlights Nevilles’ views on guns and beyond

June 15th, 2015

The legislative branch of the Neville family made a joint appearance on conservative talk radio last month, rehashing a host of unpleasant issues in long-form fashion (audio below).

Rep. Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock), and father Sen. Tim Neville (R-Littleton), started by talking guns, without noting that brother Joe Neville is the Lobbyist for Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the uncompromising anti-gun-safety organization.

Tim Neville told the story on air of attending a “caucus luncheon” at the conservative/libertarian Independence Institute.

Tim left in the middle of the event, but not before confronting Independence Institute Director Jon Caldara directly.

“I asked [Caldara], is this a 30-round magazine? Is this where you want to stop?” Tim told KLZ host Ken Clark referring to Caldara’s idea of easing the magazine limit from 15 to 30 rounds.  “And [Caldara] mentioned, ‘No. Make it a thousand rounds.’ And I asked, ‘Which is it going to be? He went into this diatribe that he presented. Again, blaming Republicans. It’s your fault. You’re standing in the way of this. Frankly, I had had enough, and it was time to leave.”

You don’t have to track the Nevilles very closely to know how they feel about guns. But the father-son dual stands out when it comes to social issues too. As Tim Neville explained on air:

“You have people in the [Republican] Party say, if it’s a social issue, you shouldn’t talk about it,” said Tim on air @21:30 below. “And of course if you go back the last few years, That’s pretty much everything the Democrats and progressives have pushed are social issues. I mean, even the minimum-wage law is a social issue for them. So, to not engage on social issues, to me, is ludicrous. But if you look at the same people who stand strong on the second amendment and social issues, those are the same people who stand strong on fiscal issues also.”

And so it is, but it’s actually an understatement to say that the father-son Neville team is standing “strong on social issues.” They stand extreme.

Tim received a failing 29 percent on the Women’s Lobby of Colorado scorecard, which rated legislators on a variety of votes on women’s issues, and on Patrick tied for lowest-score-in-the-entire state legislature with 9 percent.”

Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado was more blunt, giving Tim Neville the first place award for “worst all-around” legislator for women’s health in 2015, according to a 2015 “Colorado Women’s Health Wall of Shame.

“Neville sponsored four out of the six anti-choice bills introduced in Colorado’s legislature this year,” wrote Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado. “Not only did he sponsor two bills that would have inserted fetal personhood language (giving legal rights to fertilized eggs) into Colorado’s statutes, but two others that specifically targeted abortion providers and women seeking abortion care.”

“Nipping close at his father’s heels is Representative Patrick Neville, who also proudly sponsored four bills whose goals were to intimidate doctors out of providing abortion care,” wrote Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/representatives-everett-saine-pat-neville-with-senator-tim-neville-on-freedom560-may-182016

Talk radio hosts sees leftists tainting Jeffco school board

June 11th, 2015

During a radio broadcast last month (See below), KOA radio host Ross Kaminsky goes on and on passionately about how most everyone is against the conservatives on the Jeffco School Board.

In fact, the only folks Kaminsky left out of the alleged cabal attacking the Jeffco-school-board conservatives were the students, parents, and community that has organized to hold the school board accountable.

On the radio, Kaminsky mentioned that the Jeffco-school-board conservatives, specifically John Newkirk, are under attack by Democrats, “union-pawn liberals on school boards everywhere,” other liberals, leftists, “stupid reporters,” more unions, 9News anchor Kyle Clark, and others.

Kaminsky, who was subbing for KOA’s Mike Rosen, said these types of people are supporting board members like Jill Fellman, whom Kaminsky calls a “leftist.”

Kaminsky: “And by the way, I say [Fellman] is a leftist because the teachers union loves her, and because I went and looked online at her political contributions, and 100% of them are to Democratic candidates in the Colorado Democratic Party.”

As a leftist, I know that donations to the Democratic Party and its candidates are not a good measure of one’s leftyness. The Democratic Party itself would not be called lefty. Would you call Hick a lefty? Bennet? Obama? No. More like centrists. Also, the teacher’s union gives to centrist Democrats as well as progressives.

I asked Kaminsky for a response to this criticism, and he replied:

Kaminsky: I don’t know Jill Fellman is as far left as you or others might be, but between her political contributions and — more importantly — her utter fealty to the teachers union at the expense of children, as well as her opposition to public negotiation of contracts between school districts and teachers unions, she meets my definition of leftist. I realize that to a self-described leftist such as yourself, Ms. Fellman may not quality for that same adjective, though I also think you don’t know exactly where her politics lie. Therefore, I think your criticism is more petty than your usual disagreements with me.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/koas-ross-kaminsky-goes-after-jeffco-school-board-member-jill-fellman

Reporters need to hold Gardner accountable on his birth-control promise

June 10th, 2015

Yesterday, Senate Democrats, including Colorado’s Michael Bennet, introduced a bill that Sen. Cory Gardner should have co-sponsored as well–at least if you believe what Gardner said during last year’s campaign.

Last year, Gardner repeatedly told reporters that oral contraception should be available over the counter — and be covered by insurance policies.

In one one exchange, Fox 31 Denver’s Eli Stokols specifically challenged Gardner to explain how his proposal for over-the-counter birth control could be less expensive than what’s offered to women under Obamacare, which requires insurance companies to provide birth control for free

Stokols: You say it’s cheaper… Politifact says that’s ‘mostly false,’ that under the Affordable Care Act, two-thirds of women get their birth control for free.

Gardner: Well, they’d still be able to find an insurance policy and use their insurance to pay for it. That’s why we need to fix Obamacare.

That’s what the bill introduced by Sen. Patty Murray of Washington would do. It would not only make FDA-approved contraception available over the counter but mandate insurance companies to pay for it, like they’re required to do now.

But Gardner’s bill, introduced last month, simply allows FDA-approved contraception to be sold over the counter–without requiring insurance plans to cover it. Insurance companies could decide to cover the pill out of their love for women. But not likely.

Or, under Gardner’s bill, women could use health savings accounts and flex accounts, if they have them, to buy contraception. But those are savings accounts, set up voluntarily by individuals!  They are not the insurance promised by Gardner repeatedly.

Reporters need to go beyond allowing Gardner to write off these real-life concerns as partisan politics.

As Gardner told The Denver Post yesterday: “It’s unfortunate they have decided to bring partisanship to an issue that could have brought support on Capitol Hill but we are pleased they are following our lead.”

The substantive differences between what Gardner advocated on the campaign trail and what he’s offering women now should be spotlighted by reporters who allegedly love to hold elected officials accountable.

A comparison o f Murray’s birth-control bill versus Gardner’s tells you all you need to know about Gardner’s broken campaign promises.

 

Reporters should find out why Gardner didn’t deliver on his promised legislation to “fix Obamacare” and require insurance companies to pay for over-the-counter birth control

June 8th, 2015

Last year, then U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner had a nice-sounding proposal: offer birth control over the counter, easy and quick.

But… more expensive, journalists pointed out, because under Obamacare, birth control prescribed by doctors is free. Insurance companies are required to cover it.

Not to worry, replied Gardner. He promised to fix an “obscure provision” in Obamacare and require insurance companies to pay for over-the-counter birth control.

Women should “still be able to find an insurance policy and use their insurance to pay for it,” Gardner told Fox 31 reporter Eli Stokols Sept. 28 (at 15 seconds in the video).  “That’s why we need to fix Obamacare.”

Women “will have an insurance policy that covers it,” Gardner promised a skeptical Stokols.

“We should change Obamacare to make sure that insurance can reimburse for that over-the-counter contraceptive purchase,” Gardner told reporter Lynn Bartels (at 50 seconds in the video) during The Denver Post debate against Democrat Mark Udall. Gardner even attacked Democrats, telling the Denver Post during the campaign: “If Democrats are serious about making oral contraception affordable and accessible,” Gardner wrote, “we can reverse that technical provision [in Obamacare].”

Once elected, however, Gardner didn’t deliver on his promise. He introduced a bill that simply offers incentives to drug companies to gain FDA approval to sell contraception over the counter.

Nothing in the bill mandates that insurance companies would be required to cover birth control that’s sold over the counter. Instead, the bill allows Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts to be used to purchase over-the-counter medications. Those are savings accounts, with tax advantages, that individuals can set up. That’s not anything like insurance coverage.

News coverage of Gardner’s OTC bill has noted that women’s health groups, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have condemned the freshman senator’s proposal as insufficient and expensive for women. Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado’s statement that the bill is a “sham” has been duly noted.

But reporters have yet to spotlight the fact that Gardner did not deliver on the pledge he made during the campaign. The question is, why? Was he lying? Did he change his mind? Did he determine that his original promise was unworkable?

Reporters should find out.

Partial transcript of Sept. 28 Fox 31 interview with Cory Gardner:

Gardner (@ 15 seconds): We ought to talk about access. We ought to increase access to oral contraception. We ought to make it easier, 24-hours-a-day, around the clock availability. That’s why I’ve supported making it available over-the-counter without a prescription. We need to change the provision of Obamacare that would prohibit insurance to be paying for it. That’s an obscure provision. Those are the things we can do to make it easier to access.

Stokols: You say it’s cheaper that way. Politifact says that’s mostly false, that under the Affordable Care Act, two-thirds of women get their birth control for free.

Gardner: Well, they’d still be able to find an insurance policy and use their insurance to pay for it. That’s why we need to fix Obamacare.

Stokols: How though, if you repeal Obamacare, about 27 percent of women, I believe, actually use the pill. So you make the pill available over the counter. Still, about three out of four women use another form of birth control. If you repeal Obamacare, what happens to their coverage?

Gardner: They will have an insurance policy that covers it.

Coffman does little to promote immigration reform besides create the appearance of support for it

May 28th, 2015

In response to my post yesterday urging reporters to spotlight Mike Coffman’s weak advocacy for immigration reform, Coffman’s spokesman Tyler Sandberg told me via Twitter that “Google is Your Friend,” and directed me to an instance when Coffman said he was “deeply disappointed” with House opposition to a resolution allowing young immigrants to gain citizenship via military service.

Google is my friend, and it confirms my larger point that Coffman does little to promote immigration reform besides create the appearance of seriousness without the much substance at all.

Coffman has expressed disappointment, yes, and I regret writing that he didn’t use the word, but he hasn’t seriously challenged Boehner, who’s arguably been the biggest obstacle to immigration reform in the country.

Where was Coffman’s disappointment when the Senate’s bipartisan immigration legislation, with Marco Rubio’s name on it, died in the House. Coffman didn’t even support a vote on the bipartisan and comprehensive bill, despite Coffman’s public statements in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.

And what did he do instead? Nothing on comprehensive reform, except scrub his website of the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform” and to tell the Aurora Sentinel, “What Boehner has said, and I agree with, is that a comprehensive approach doesn’t have to be a comprehensive bill.”

Coffman’s legislation for young immigrants and his alleged support for a guest worker program fall short of comprehensive reform no matter how you wordsmith it, and they’ve failed, in part, because Coffman goes to a fundraiser with Boehner at the Brown Palace and doesn’t talk about immigration on the same day Coffman’s bill is being killed by Republican leadership in Washington.

Via Twitter, I asked Coffman’s spokesman Sandberg to write a blog post explaining how his boss has pushed Boehner for serious immigration reform–and better yet, to show us how it’s done.

There’s no public record of the kind of effort we’ve seen from Coffman on other issues. Nothing close. Google it.

Ambush in the Public Interest

May 28th, 2015

In an online Denver Post op-ed yesterday, I urged reporters to seek out and interview hiding politicians. I gave some recent Colorado examples, like Rep. Mike Coffman hiding from reporters after he said he wasn’t sure Obama was an American.

On Twitter, former CU regent Tom Lucero told me I left out instances of Democrats hiding from reporters, but he won’t provide me with any examples, saying he doesn’t want to do my “job.”

Too bad because I’d like to see his examples, and I’m sure they exist. But I couldn’t think of many in recent memory (I mentioned Udall)–and my piece focused on Colorado reporting.

In any case, Lucero should join me, because if journalists did this more often, it would benefit all of us. The ambush interview shouldn’t be relegated to showboaters like Bill O’Reilly and consumer reporters, like (mostly) the investigative units at 9News and channel 7.

In my piece, I quoted Eli Stokols, who told the Columbia Journalism Review in March that among Colorado reporters, “There seems to be a reluctance to hold people accountable for policy positions.”

What’s not to like about that suggestion, regardless of where you sit on the partisan spectrum? But how to do it?

One simple way is to not let public officials hide out and avoid answering questions. Journalists should track them down and force them to respond.

For example, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton is under fire for telling conservative radio-host Mike Rosen he did not support a proposed law to bolster Colorado’s public pension program when, in fact, he did support the legislation.

What are some other examples from any politician in Colorado?

Next time Coffman says he supports immigration reform, ask him if he’s even talked with Boehner about it

May 27th, 2015

Rep. Mike Coffman has spent years telling reporters how much he cares about immigration reform.

But what would it look like if he really wanted to pass an actual factual immigration-reform  bill? Instead of just talking about one? Or writing an op-ed about it? Or even attending a press conference about it.

Last week we saw what Coffman looks like when he’s actually trying to convince his Republican colleagues of something. This is not the Coffman we see during immigration debates, despite his claims of support for reform.

The Hill reported May 20, as House Republicans appeared ready to halt construction of the Veterans Administration hospital in Aurora:

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) said he has been “shuttling back and forth” between meetings with McDonald and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to work out a deal.

9News reported May 19, in a piece headlined “Coffman: Speaker Must Act to Save VA Hospital:”

“I’m disappointed in the VA for their mismanagement. I’m disappointed in the speaker, for in my view, not showing appropriate leadership so far,” Coffman told 9NEWS in an interview Tuesday. “I hope I can convince [Boehner] to understand that our veterans should not be the casualty.”

CBS4 reported May 20:

Coffman said he’s “greatly disappointed” in Boehner for not approving a short-term increase to allow more negotiation time and avoid the shutdown.

But have you heard Coffman say he’s greatly disappointed in Boehner over immigration? Even for blocking Coffman’s own bill? Nope. Last week illustrates a standard for pushing Boehner that reporters should hold him to.

 

Fiscal hawks squawk happily about throwing billions mindlessly at border security

May 26th, 2015

Conservative talk-radio hosts present themselves as fiscal conservatives, until they land on something they want to mindlessly throw money at.

So Colorado’s newbie Congressman, Ken Buck, was right at home on the radio last week when he disclosed that a bill will be introduced by House Republicans “doubling or tripling” the amount of money to be spent on securing the U.S.-Mexico border.

The current border-security budget is about $12 billion, if you just count border patrol, fencing, surveillance, and ports of entry, according to Marc Rosenblum Deputy Director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute.

“We’ll leave that up to the experts,” Buck told Kafer, explaining how the additional border-security money will be spent and adding that there are “certainly a number of miles of fence have not been built.”

The fact that Buck had no clue what would be done with $12 to$24 billion in additional border security funding, doubling or tripling the current border-security budget, didn’t bother KNUS 710-AM’s Krista Kaffer, a proud fiscal hawk.

Such fiscal prudence!

For what, all these billions of dollars? “There’s very little evidence that the border is out of control,” Rosenblum told me, explaining that if you exclude the recent surge of child migrants, apprehensions at the southwest border have plummeted in recent years to a 40-year low.

Still, in addition to more fence, there are drones, more agents, radios, and more that have been proposed in the past.

Buck disclosed that a “number of bills” will come before the House Judiciary Committee during the next “month, month-and-a-half,” including the border-security measure, “a temporary farm worker program, another guest-worker program,” and a “high-tech visa program.”

“We are considering a border-security bill that will double or triple the amount of money to be spent on border security on our southern border,” Buck told Kafer. “There are certainly a number of miles of fence that have not been built. There’s a question over what’s the most efficient way to secure the border, and I think we leave that up to the experts. But the funding will be there for border security and the guest worker program. And I think the two of them go hand-in-hand.”

“We don’t trust the government,” said Buck explaining why Republicans like him oppose comprehensive immigration reform and want to focus on border security. “If we solve the problem of what to do with the 11 million people who are here illegally, then the government will not have border security and a guest-worker program that works.”

But, in reality, if you only focus on border security and guest workers, you’ll get nothing, because comprehensive immigration reform unites enough Democrats and Republicans to actually pass a bill. Remember the Senate’s comprehensive bill passed last year, only to die in the border-security-crazed House, where Colorado’s Republicans, including Rep. Mike Coffman, opposed the Senate’s comprehensive reform.

So keep trying to throw money at border security, Ken Buck, and see where that takes us.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/congressman-ken-buck-on-kelley-company-may-20-2015

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/congressman-ken-buck-on-kelley-company-may-20-2015

Radio host fails to ask state senator if she’s concerned about a primary challenge

May 22nd, 2015

You need only to stick you toe into Colorado’s talk-radio world to know that state Sen. Laura Woods is a superstar on the Tea-Party airwaves, regularly receiving love from KLZ 560AM’s Ken Clark, KNUS 710 AM’s Peter Boyles, and others.

The last thing these guys want is to lose Woods in a primary next year, funded by deep-pocket Republicans. So you’d think they’d want to rally their listeners to stop this before hit happens. And Woods seems to be hinting that it will, judging from her continued criticism of establishment Republicans.

For example, in a May 14 interview with Clark, Woods said there’s “not a lot of difference” between mainstream Democrats and mainstream Republicans–raising the question of whether Woods thinks Colorado Republicans will field a primary candidate against her. But Clark didn’t ask the question.

Woods (at 4:15 below): “I think that for the establishment Republicans, and there is no doubt in my mind that Cory Gardner is one of them. and Democrats, there’s not a lot of difference. Where we see a difference is between conservatives and that group of people.”

Earlier in the interview, at two minutes, she referred to “squishy Republican committees,” further showing her displeasure with the GOP in Colorado.

I’m not saying this is unexpected, given Woods’ ride to power on the back of Tea-Party supporters, but I’m surprised the radio crowd doesn’t talk openly about the obvious possibility of a primary and how to prepare for it.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/laura-woods-is-a-guest-on-freedom-560-am

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/laura-woods-is-a-guest-on-freedom-560-am