Archive for April, 2011

Hart said increased revenues also part of the federal budget fix

Monday, April 18th, 2011

In a short article in Saturday’s Denver Post about a bipartisan forum on the federal debt/deficit, former CO Sen. Gary Hart was referenced as saying that, to close the budget gap, federal leaders should focus on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the military.

As the Colorado Statesman pointed out in a longer article about the event, Hart also said that increasing revenues should be part of the equation.

This may seem minor, but at the same forum, former GOP Sen. Alan Simpson called for a tax increase, as the Statesman pointed out. This was picked up nationally.

Hart’s agreement with Simpson on a tax increase should be noted here in Colorado and nationally.

In tough interview on talk radio, Tipton says he’s lost trust in Boehner

Friday, April 15th, 2011

A lot of my friends tell me how difficult it must be for me to have to listen to conservative talk radio as part of my job.

But they don’t know how interesting it can be, and I’m guessing you don’t either. Some of the better conservative hosts can be fearless questioners, even if their queries have everything to do with their political agenda and nothing to do with exposing the whole truth. Here’s an example from yesterday’s “Cari and Rob Show.”

Co-host Rob Douglas had Rep. Scott Tipton on the program to discuss the budget bill passed yesterday by Congress cutting $38 billion from the federal budget and funding the federal government through Sept. 30.  A Congressional Budget Office analysis concluded that the bill would cut non-war federal “outlays” by $352 million, meaning that most of the $38 billion is cut from planned spending, not this year’s budget.  Tiption voted against the bill, along CO Congresspeople DeGette, Gardner, Lamborn, and Polis. 

Douglas gave a brief hello to Tipton then asked:

Douglas: We’ve gone from in essence a Pledge to America, that I’m holding in my hand, of $100 billion in cuts, that became $61 billion in cuts, that became a $38.5 billion cut as of last Friday night, that is now scored by the Congressional Budget Office, we are told by numerous sources, as only reducing what will still be increased spending in 2011 by $352 million. Did the Pledge to America mean anything?

Tipton: “Well, we have not followed through for only cutting $352 million as a body…. Three hundred fifty-two million dollars is far short, obviously, of the $100 billion, and what we’ve likened it to time and again, even $100 billion when we’re looking at the massive debt, deficit and even the spending during this fiscal year, $3.7 trillion….”

Douglas: “Scott, you probably recall, I think you were even in studio one of the times with us, when we expressed to you our great concern with John Boehner becoming Speaker of the House. The language I’ve used time and time again is, why would we put somebody who’s been at the scene of the crime of the spending binges in Congress in charge of the House of Representatives. Erick Erikson of Redstate has called on any member of the House who votes with Boehner on this today to be, well, probably language we don’t want to use too much on air, but basically to be publicly flogged and that they should have a primary challenger. Now we know you are going to vote no on the bill today but why should Speaker Boehner continue?… Now we know that a $100 billion pledge meant nothing and it turned out to be $352 million this year. I’ve got to imagine that the level of trust between the House Freshman and the Speaker has been damaged perhaps I would argue, beyond repair. Why should he not be removed as Speaker of the House by the House of Representative Republicans forthwith?”

Tipton: “There’s going to be a lot of frustration…because the one thing that you have that you value to the best of your ability is, what you’re saying is the truth. And I think the moving shell game, and it’s the problem I have with the CR [temporary budget extension supported by Tipton] is originally, and you kind of ran through the numbers Rob, $38 billion, well, not really. Then it was taken down to about 20. Now we’re all the way down to $352 million, according to the CBO. I think there needs to be some questions answered.”

Douglas: “The 64-billion-dollar question, or should I say the 100-billion-dollar question, instead of the old game show, is. was Speaker Boehner straight with the conference? More specifically, do you think he was straight with you? Do you trust Speaker Boehner going forward given what this has turned out to be?”

Tipton: “Yah, I’ve got a lot of questions. I’m not trying to stick up for him at all in this sense. They are dealing with some different sides, but you get a sense of the politics as usual that are going on.  And we’ll just keep playing with the numbers until they say what we want them to say…I can’t think of a defense for going down to $352 million.”

Douglas: “Finally, as clear as you can say it, I guess, yes or no, has your trust in [House] Speaker Boehner been damaged?”

Tipton: “You know, I would say yes, but I will give him the caveat as I always give somebody an opportunity to explain. And I want to hear how we went from $100 billion down to $352 million.”

Douglas: Let us know when you get that explanation…On behalf of the Liberty Movement, I think i can say with great confidence that I hope the folks there in Congress, particularly the 87 freshman that we just sent down there, are cognizant of how angry the atmosphere is out here, and how much people feel that we got to the first major test in the House of Representatives, after backing you all, and that this is a complete failure.”

Here’s the section of the Pledge for America Douglas referred to above:

Cut Government Spending to Pre-Stimulus, Pre-Bailout Levels
With common-sense exceptions for seniors, veterans, and our troops, we will roll back government spending to prestimulus, pre-bailout levels, saving us at least $100 billion in the first year alone and putting us on a path to begin paying down the debt, balancing the budget, and ending the spending spree in Washington that threatens our children’s future.

Former CO supporters of Romney have differing views on whether to support him now

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who launched his presidential exploratory committee yesterday, would be President now, if the Colorado GOP had its way in 2008.

You recall, Romney won big here in the GOP’s caucuses over Sen. John McCain, with major Republican support from people like Sen. Wayne Allard, Rep. Bob Beauprez, Sen. Hank Brown, Gov. Bill Owens, and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers. GOP State Senators Andy McElhany, Shawn Mitchell, and Nancy Spence all supported him. As did, among others, CO State Rep. Kenneth Summers, Weld Country District Attorney Ken Buck, executives Bruce Benson and Alex Cranberg, and Colorado GOP chair Ryan Call.

Not to be left out, The Denver Post selected Romney in the GOP primary.

Reporters haven’t asked what these folks think of Romney now, about three years later. So I checked in with some of them.

“I’m inclined to think we need a fresh face,” McElhany told me. “I was a strong early supporter of Mitt Romney in 2008, and I think he had his chance at that time, but I’m encouraged to look other places.”

I asked McElhany about the health care law Romney signed into law in Massachusetts, mandating that state residents purchase insurance.

“I don’t think the health care thing helps him,” McElhany said. “Certainly it’s a huge issue, and his support of the Massachusetts law will weigh on him heavily.”

Attorney General Suthers and Colorado Sen. Spence are both still supportive of Romney.

Through his spokesman, Suthers said:

“America is in need of an economic turnaround. No one has the credentials he does in terms of producing an economic turnaround.”

“Of the names in the race so far, I’d still support him,” Spence told me. “Now that doesn’t mean if Superman jumped in, I wouldn’t change my mind. But that’s where I am right now.”

Asked whether the health care issue affects her view of Romney, Spence said, “I supported him last time—and there was the health-insurance and right-to-life stuff then. He did what he had to do in Massachusetts.”

Colorado Rep. Ken Summers hasn’t made up his mind. “Maybe it will be like in 2008 when it was easier to keep track of who wasn’t running than who was,” Summers told me.

Romney’s support of the Massachusetts health care law is not a deal breaker for Summers, who added that he (Summers) was “fully supportive of the health-care exchanges here in Colorado, and he told Rep. Amy Stephens that his “name would have been on that bill if it was introduced.”

“As Republicans go, Romney was doing what he had to do in Massachusetts,” Summers said. “It’s baggage that he’ll have to overcome, just like Tom Tancredo had to do with immigration. But Tom didn’t want to.”

Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck is remaining neutral.

“I am staying neutral in the presidential race for a while,” Buck told me. “I am the national co-chair for the Pass the Balanced Budget Amendment. We are trying to get candidates together for a presidential debate sometime this fall, and the leadership is staying neutral until we can get that accomplished.”

Pestiferous Independence Institute President Jon Caldara, who was not listed among Romney’s supporters in 2008, gave me his opinion on Romney:

“My guess is, it’s going to be very, very difficult for him to win support in a GOP primary given his support for what is essentially Obamacare,” said Caldara. I don’t know how he dislodges himself for that. On the bright side, he’s got great hair, and for that I am most envious.”

 Caldara cohort Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute added:

“I would say that Romney’s chances of winning would be much, much higher if Romneycare did not exist, especially because Obamacare will certainly be one of the biggest issues in the 2012 Presidential election, and perhaps the biggest issue,” Kopel emailed me. “The Sunday that the U.S. House voted for Obamacare, the biggest political loser in the nation was Mitt Romney.”

President Barack Obama has been praising Romney’s health care law of late, reportedly saying in a Feb. speech at the National Governors Association:

“I know that many of you have asked for flexibility for your states under this law. In fact, I agree with Mitt Romney, who recently said he’s proud of what he accomplished on health care in Massachusetts and supports giving states the power to determine their own health care solutions. He’s right. Alabama is not going to have exactly the same needs as Massachusetts or California or North Dakota. We believe in that flexibility.”

Yesterday the DNC distributed a photo of Romney signing the health care law—with Sen. Ted Kennedy in the photo looking on approvingly. Democrats have also been eating birthday cake and pointing out that today is the five-year anniversary of the enactment of the Mass health-care bill.

Romney did not mention his health care law yesterday, when he announced the formation of his presidential exploratory committee, but he’s said previously that he supports the rights of states to craft their own health care laws.

Post had no intention of publishing Gessler’s list of possible illegal voters, as Gessler claimed

Monday, April 11th, 2011

I reported Saturday that Secretary of State Scott Gessler was on the Mike Rosen Show April 8, and he had some harsh things to say about The Denver Post.

Asked by Rosen about The Post’s request to review Gessler’s list of 4,947 people who could possibly have voted illegally in recent years, as well as the 106 people Gessler believes are likely to be actual illegal voters, Gessler said:

“It’s just crazy to publish people’s names. I mean, I can’t even believe The Denver Post even asked for that. I mean, they want to get the names of these people and then start calling them. I don’t know if they want to post them on their website and publish the names as well. If you have someone who’s suspected of being a noncitizen and improperly voting, the last thing you do is immediately publish their name publicly and try to embarrass and humiliate them. I’m not in that type of business. I’m just amazed, and it’s not just The Denver Post, I mean, the Huffington Post as well, and I think there’s another newspaper too, and they wanted names of people so they could start calling them and publishing their names.”

I speculated Saturday that Gessler had apparently assumed The Post planned to publish these names. But maybe that’s what The Post told his office?

I mean, I was pretty sure The Post wouldn’t want to mindlessly embarrass and humiliate people. But I thought I’d check.

So I emailed Nancy Lofholm, the Post reporter who wrote that she asked Gessler’s spokesperson for his lists of names.

She sent me a response from her editor, Chuck Murphy:

“Thanks for the opportunity to respond. At no time did we ever even contemplate simply publishing a list of names. We are interested solely in reporting on whether these individuals are former green card holders who have since become citizens and lawful voters, as immigrant rights advocates surmise, or unlawful voters as Secretary Gessler has implied to both the US Congress and the Colorado General Assembly.

Had Secretary Gessler or his staff ever asked whether we intended to publish all the names with no effort at verification of citizenship status, I would have happily told them no.”

Lofholm wrote:

“We wanted to find proof that there are illegal voters in Colorado – or proof that Gessler’s fears about these voters are unfounded. We thought that next step should be taken given that proposed legislation hinges on numbers that thus far have not been corroborated by looking at individual cases.”

So it turns out, as you probably suspected, that all The Post was trying to do was get the facts are on the table, so lawmakers and the rest of us could make informed decisions about what should be done.

As it is, not even Gessler is willing to say definitively that a single person on his long list voted illegally. If The Post could review Gessler’s lists and dispose of even a tiny bit of the pervasive uncertainty that’s underlying Gessler’s numbers, it would just be doing its job, helping clarify the debate, which you’d think would please Secretary Gessler.

Follow Jason Salzman on Twitter @bigmediablog

Rosen Pats Gessler on the Back, Even after Gessler Admits He Doesn’t Need Legislation He’s Pushing

Saturday, April 9th, 2011

Secretary of State Scott Gessler’s spokesperson, not Gessler himself, spoke to The Denver Post for a story Thursday reporting that Gessler doesn’t need legislative approval to make sure noncitizens aren’t voting in Colorado elections.

But Gessler found time Friday to join Mike Rosen on KOA radio for a friendly chat on his radio show about the article.

Rosen said The Post story read more like a editorial than a news story, though he never proved this, and he asked Gessler about some of the points raised in it.

He started by asking if Gessler was familiar with the studies, referred to in The Post, which show that noncitizens don’t vote illegally in significant numbers, because the penalties (e.g., deportation, 10-year prison term) are so severe that voting isn’t worth it to them.

“You know, I’m not familiar with these studies,” answered Gessler. “I’m sure they dug something up. But I can tell you something. That conclusion is absolutely untrue. In Colorado alone, in the last few years, we had over 150 people who were noncitizens who were registered to vote. Some of them actually voted. And then they withdrew their registration. They voluntarily realized that they had goofed up, and they withdrew their registration. So, I mean, that’s absolutely untrue, that conclusion in this news story.”

Rosen did not ask Gessler why he wasn’t familiar with the studies, given that he’s launched a time-consuming initiative to stop the very problem that the studies claim is not significant.

Neither did Rosen ask Gessler if he’s sure the 150 weren’t citizens by the time they voted, of why Gessler’s not working with county clerks make sure noncitizens are not voting.

Rosen then asked Gessler whether Rep. Charles Gonzales (D-TX) was correct when he told Gessler that Gessler’s claims were unsupported and his case about illegal voting would not hold up under legal scrutiny.

“Well, that’s just silly,” Gessler told Rosen. “I would suggest that people go up there and look at the exchange between myself and Congressman Gonzales. And he said, you can’t prosecute someone on this evidence. And I said, of course not. That’s not why we’re doing this. I’m not looking to prosecute people. This is an investigative tool. We’re looking to administratively make sure that our voting roles are clean. I mean, I started off as a prosecutor. And I think at the end of the day Gonzales looked a little bit silly with his questioning.”

Rosen told Gessler that The Post reported that Gessler does not need legislative approval to investigate whether noncitizens are voting.

“Well, that’s really sort of interesting,” said Gessler. The backdrop behind that, I went into The Denver Post editorial board, and they sort of beat me up during the interview, and they said, why don’t you just do this already, and I explained the legal framework.  And their editorial the next day was, this was a power grab by Gessler. First they suspected I should just do it. Then they called it a power grab. And now they are reporting, as a matter of fact, that I have the tools to do it. So, I guess I should take that article and go forward and do whatever I want.”

Gessler implies here that he does not, in fact, have the power to identify noncitizens on the voter rolls, as The Post claims he does.

To his credit, Rosen followed up with a direct question: “Do you think you have the tools to do it?”

“You know, it’s ambiguous,” said Gessler. “We may, but there’s couple areas here. You have the civil rights aspect of it. You’ve got the privacy of information. And in part, that’s why we have not done anything right now, because we get this information from the Department of Motor Vehicles, and we really have to keep that stuff private. There’s a lot of rules governing that, too. And then, of course, you have the controversy of reaching out to people and asking for more evidence and placing them in a suspended status or if you have clear evidence that they are not citizens, removing them from the roles. So there’s a legal thicket here, and we’re working our way through it. My thumb in the air, not thumb in the air, but our initial analysis is pretty ambiguous. And so I think there’s a pathway where we can do that [BigMedia emphasis], but I’d much rather have legislative authority and just clear things up and go forward and do it.”

So, it took a while, but Gessler confirmed the thesis of The Post’s piece.

Rosen asked Gessler about The Post’s assertion that Gessler would not provide the names of the 4,947 people who, according to Gessler, may have voted illegally.

“It’s just crazy to publish people’s names,” said Gessler, apparently without knowing whether The Post actually planned on publishing them. “I mean, I can’t even believe The Denver Post even asked for that. I mean, they want to get the names of these people and then start calling them. I don’t know if they want to post them on their website and publish the names as well. If you have someone who’s suspected of being a noncitizen and improperly voting, the last thing you do is immediately publish their name publicly and try to embarrass and humiliate them. I’m not in that type of business. I’m just amazed, and it’s not just The Denver Post, I mean, the Huffington Post as well, and I think there’s another newspaper too, and they wanted names of people so they could start calling them and publishing their names.”

Rosen went on to day that “the game that The Denver Post is playing here is the Joe McCarthy card…This is what The Post is trying to do to you: ‘Gessler claims 4,947 people voted illegally. I want their names. We want to know who they are.’”

Rosen made a mistake here, smearing The Post really, because The Post never made this claim. It accurately reported Gessler’s statement that 4,947 legal immigrants may have voted illegally.

Overall, as you can see, Rosen was off his game with Gessler on his show Friday.

Normally, Rosen’s show is much better than many conservative shows, and even Friday, Rosen, who’s smart and sometimes reasonable (even if he’s at times a gratuitous bully) asked a few decent questions.

But the Mike Rosen Show did not deserve to be named “Best Talk Radio Show” for 2011 by Westword. That honor should have gone to the Caplis and Silverman show, which arguably played a role in changing the course of Colorado history last year.

Unproductive media criticism at

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

I’m hoping ColoradoPeakPolitics succeeds at being an intelligent blog on the right, like ColoradoPols is on the left.

It’s off to a decent start, with writing that keeps you awake, but its recent critique of a blog post of mine displayed media criticism at its worst, long on platitudes and short on specifics.

My post provided evidence that the The Denver Post opinion page is more ideologically balanced now, at least in terms of in-house columnists, with David Harsanyi gone. I counted columns by Post columnists and proved this.

ColoradoPeakPolitics acknowledged my diligent work with an “abacus,” thanks very much, but didn’t refute my numbers. The best it could come up with was an irrelevant statement that more journalists give money to Democrats than the GOP, which is irrelevant because my focus was on opinion columnists who aren’t trying to be fair anyway. (In fact, it also doesn’t matter whom journalists give money to. It’s their writing, their product, that matters, and there’s no study showing news bias at The Denver Post.)

Then ColoradoPeakPolitics wrote that I left out the editorials, which are “overwhelmingly liberal.” That’s funny, because I said they were right-leaning. And Post Editorial Page Editor Dan Haley, in his response to my blog post, defended them as centrist.

I had to acknowledge that I really didn’t know which direction The Post’s editorials lean generally. I wrote I’d do a deeper bean count later, over a defined period of time like maybe six months, to determine if the newspaper’s editorials lean left or right. My view was just an impression, like that of ColoradoPeakPolitics. Impressions make bad media criticism, so I’ll try to get some data on the table that we can all debate in a meaningful way.

I’d suggest to ColoradoPeakPolitics that we do this analysis together but the unfortunate anonymity of ColoradoPeakPolitics precludes this.

ColoradoPeakPolitics went on to say I was using “fuzzy math” but at least I showed my work.

Then it concluded that Haley wasn’t buying my argument that a new Harsanyi was not needed. But what does ColoradoPeakPolitics think of Haley’s comment: “Locally, as of next week, we will have two main op-ed columnists (Carroll/Littwin) who will write 12 columns a month from the right and left. That’s balance.”


So, dear ColoradoPeakPolitics, it’s great to have you around but please, if you’re going to be a media critic, slow down and try to be more specific and focused. Then we can have a productive discussion, like you might find on ColoradoPols.

On radio, Stephens agrees that civil-unions debate hurt GOP

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Ross Kaminky’s “Backbone Radio” may have a silly name, but the show is often a good place to find conservatives airing out their differences in an intelligent fashion.

Kaminsky has guests with different views, mostly nuances of conservative opinion, but still. And Kamninsky himself, though usually falling in line with the GOP establishment, isn’t always predictable. And he’ll ask his guests uncomfortable questions.

For example, on his show Sunday, he interviewed Rep. Amy Stephens about SB 200, the insurance-exchange bill that now appears to be dead. He had a Tea Party activist on as well, in a different segment, to give his conservative audience red meat of various cuts.

But at the end of his interview with Stephens, Kaminsky decided to ask Stephens about the civil unions bill, which Republicans in a State House Committee killed in a party-line vote last week.

Stephens repeated her standard line on civil unions, which is that the issue should go to the ballot.

But then Kaminsky said to Stephens:

“I do think in the long run, I think this issue is going to end up hurting Republicans. I mean, not you and not where you live, but when we need to get independent voters, and we keep spending so much time on what looks like, you know, gay bashing, I think it’s bad news.”

Stephens essentially agreed with Kaminsky that issue will hurt Republicans.

“Oh, I hear you. I hear you. Right. And if you look at SB 200, the actual opposite could be said too, right. Will it hurt you in a conservative district where TPs [vote in larger numbers] and be great in Arapahoe or whatever.  These are the things you and I talk about. Is it good policy bad politics? I’m up there to try to craft something good, and work hard at it, and come up with solutions. You’re the same way. I mean, you’re a solution-oriented person. The politics are rough.”

This is the kind of honest debate that you can find on Kaminsky’s show sometimes.

If reporters don’t care about basic political expression, more people will stop caring along with them

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

As someone who’s organized many a rally, I’m biased in favor of any group of people who can turn out around 1,000 people for any political cause, whether it’s the Tea Party’s agenda or a union’s.

But it’s a bias you’d think journalists would have as well. I’d say any self-respecting news outlets should cover big political rallies, even if they’re just another rally with speakers and such.

Maybe rallies are boring at face value, but a journalist or photographer should be able to find some excitement among 1,000 people.

So it was great to see that Denver’s Fox News and The Denver Daily News covered yesterday’s pro-union rally at City Park, which was organized to show that the basic goals of unions (fair pay, decent working conditions, healthy economic growth) are broadly supported, according to promotinal materials.

But where were Denver’s other TV stations and media outlets? The Denver Post ran a brief AP story about the rally before it occurred, and the newspaper deserves credit for this.

But there was no coverage of the event itself from The Post or channels 4, 7, or 9.

If reporters don’t care about legitimate political expression, then you can be sure that more and more people will stop caring along with them.