Archive for December, 2011

Zappolo mixes light touch with tough questions in interview with Coffman about Social Security, flat tax

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

In late September, on KNUS’ Kelley and Company, Rep. Mike Coffman said Social Security was “obviously” a ponzi scheme.

Kelley let it fly by, but I thought this should have been picked up by journalists, since it came from Coffman, especially given that Rick Perry, who was surging at the time, had just called Social Security a ponzi scheme.

After I posted it on my blog, Coffman’s comment was reported by national blogs and, later, by a Post columnist, but not a single reporter asked Coffman to comment further.

Or so I thought.

Unfortunately, I missed an subsequent interview in October with Coffman on Fox 31’s Zappolo’s People, a weekly interview program that airs Sundays at 10 p.m. on Channel 31.

Fox 31 anchor Ron Zappolo usually asks his guests tough questions, so the show has an underlying edge, but his questions are often sufficiently surrounded with light chatty stuff that his interviewees don’t get defensive; they answer with more honesty than they otherwise might, like on a lot of talk radio.

In this segment of the Coffman interview, Zappolo begins by shaking his finger at Coffman and smiling to Coffman and into the camera, as if Coffman were an old friend:

Zappolo: You are never afraid to say controversial things.

Coffman: It’s true.

Zappolo: I’ll give you just a couple. You went on somewhere the other day and said that Social Security is a ponzi scheme. You’ve also talked about how all ballots should be in English. Correct?

Coffman: Right.

Zappolo: Do you ever think about, as a politician, some of these things, I might be better off steering away from?

Coffman: You know, no. [smiles] My staff wishes I would. [laughs]

Zappolo: The honesty comes out. [laughs]

Coffman: But I don’t. The thing with Social Security. I think it is, although I agreed with ponzi.

Zappolo: You scared people in your district who are 65 and over.

Coffman: I think a lot of people, and I made my best effort to get them to understand. Quite frankly, the program is going to be there for them. It’s just the younger generation that it’s not going to be there for. And so the sooner we can reform it, and I think if we reformed it it now, I think there are analyses that say for people 55 and older, we can leave it the same. For 55 and younger we are going to have to phase up the age up to age 70 to make it work. And so I think we can certainly make it work.

Zappolo also gently raised the question of whether Coffman supports a flat tax, another controversial topic:

Zappolo: What do you think of the candidates who believe in a flat tax?

Coffman: I think the flat tax has tremendous value.

Zappolo: You don’t think it hurts the lower income—

Coffman: No, I don’t think it does because I think there are, the way that it’s defined, or there’s a provision in there that has to be defined, and that is where is there an exception on it, in terms of lower income people. So you can easily do that. But I think we are at a point now where about half of Americans have an income  tax liability, and then it’s very progressive from that point forward.

Zappolo’s show isn’t always political, which makes for a great change for a person like me who takes in too much politics. As a general newsmaker show, his program stands out locally among TV interview show, most of which are focus more narrowly on politics or sports.

Mike Coffman talks about Social Security with Zappolo:

Mike Coffman talks about the flat tax with Zappolo:

Talk show host says progressives are lying evil doers, so I’ve invited him to coffee

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Read (or listen here) how 560-AM KLZ’s Ken Clark said good bye to his listeners, including me, last night:

You know ladies and gentlemen, it’s been a great show. It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been very, very interesting. But I cannot stress enough that we need to get involved. We all need to get involved…. We need to become evangelical about this. We are in the fight of our lives. The Democrats, the liberals, the progressives, they lie. They are lying to you. It’s going to get a lot worse. You have got to study the issues. You have got to get involved. There are a ton places to go do that…They cannot win in a battle of ideas, because we always have the right ideas. On a national level, they cannot beat us in a battle of ideas. So they are going to lie. They are going to spend over a billion dollars in the next year, lying to you, making you believe that they are the good guys. They are not. Pure unadulterated evil. They are progressives. They are socialists. They have got to be defeated at all costs. This is Ken Clark, as always, good night, Colorado.

I sent the following email to Clark this morning. I’ll post any reply I get in its entirety.

Dear Ken:

You’ve make a big deal out of Rep. Amy Stephens calling you Tea Party people “anarchists.” I don’t blame you on that. It’s rude.

But now look what you’re doing, basically one upping her, calling people like me lying evil doers. I’m not evil, Ken. Ask my kids (on good days). Ask my friends. Ask people who’ve worked with me, conservatives even. Ask my Republican mother-in-law.

Maybe I’ve done an evil thing or two, but I’m a lot like you insofar as I try to figure out what’s right, and then do stuff, make things happen.

And you know what; I actually admire you for your activism. I’m not lying. I wish more people got involved, even if they join the Tea Party. Apathy is killing your side and mine.

And you can’t blame apathetic people for being apathetic if they stumble on your show and hear you  say you “always have the right ideas.” Are you kidding? I admire your passion, truly. I felt that way too when I was a kid. But please, do you really believe that? I don’t think you do.

You Tea Party people are losing ground because the word leaks out, from Congress down to your show, that you think you’re always right and you think those who disagree with you represent “unadulterated evil.”

How about we have a cup of coffee? I promise I won’t poison you. I’ll buy it, as a tiny sign of my non-evilness. Let me know if you’re up for it.


Post Columnist scoops news department and reports Gessler allegation of actual election fraud in Colorado

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

If you’ve been reading The Denver Post over the past year, you know Secretary of State Scott Gessler likes to talk about possible fraud in Denver elections, as he did when he filed a lawsuit trying to stop counties from mailing ballots to inactive voters, and as he did when he was waving lists of possible illegal voters.

(My mistake, he didn’t wave these lists; he just talked about them and refused to make them public.)

But, if you’ve been reading The Post, you may not know that Gessler has alleged real-life, actual, happening-now fraud. That’s of course a far more serious allegation, but not a word of it has graced the pages of The Post.

That is, until Saturday, in an opinion column by Fred Brown, who scooped the entire news department.

Brown’s column was the first piece of any kind, news or opinion in The Post, stating Scott Gessler’s view that there is actual election fraud in Colorado.

Brown wrote:

“He [Gessler] rode into office in 2010 on a wave of Tea Party insurgence and immediately began warning everyone, from Coloradans to congressional committees, about election fraud, which he says is widespread but most others, including Meyer, say is a minor problem.”

In an email exchange with me, Brown wrote that he didn’t talk to Gessler directly about this. 

Brown wrote that he relied on other sources, including Gessler’s congressional testimony, which was quoted in The Post but does not quite allege fraud. Gessler testified,  “We know we have a problem with possible noncitizens on the voter rolls.”

But Gessler said on the radio: “So we know fraud exists. The question is, what’s the extent and what’s the proper balance.”

And to the Pueblo Chieftain: “Signatures vary a lot, and sometimes people’s signatures don’t match what’s on file. Some are fraud, some are innocent mistakes.”

Because Brown didn’t talk with Gessler directly, a door is wide open for a Post reporter to get out in front of the commentary section, track down Scott Gessler, and ask him, “Where’s his evidence for fraud in Colorado elections?”

And if he has none, why does a laywer like him, much less a man who’s got the title of Secretary of State, play fast and loose with the F word?

Talk-radio hosts shouldn’t simply nod as Ramirez accuses Carrera of drawing legislative maps out of spite and retribution

Monday, December 5th, 2011

We all know the process of hammering out new state legislative districts is difficult for everyone involved: the governor, legislators, judges, and regular people, as well as the journalists reporting on it.

So even conservative talk-show hosts, like Jason Worley and Ken Clark on KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado, should at least make a pass at presenting the issue with some measure of decency and fairness.

I know, it’s talk radio, but still.

This should start with Worley and Clark mentioning, however briefly when they discuss this issue, the fact that Democrats and Republicans agree that competitive districts are good for Colorado, because competition makes politicians on both sides of the aisle more responsive to their constituents, so they’ll do the things they want them to do, like create jobs, boost education, and listen to each other at least as well as my 14-year-old listens to my 11-year-old.

As has been reported previously, it’s not just the Democrats who recognize that competitive districts are desirable, but it’s also former GOP Chairs Dick Wadhams and Bo Callaway. Also, in December, then GOP Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp told the Colorado Statesman, “Citizens want a fair and open process with competitive districts.” The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported that Rep. Amy Stephens wants competitive districts, as does Sen. Steve Ward, R-Littleton, who told the Associated Press (April 24, 2008),“It’s the lack of competitive districts that have led to the polarization of politics.”

And both Republicans and Democrats can find aspects of the new legislative maps, currently under review by the Colorado Supreme Court, that increase competitiveness. So key elements of both parties would agree that this is a good thing, though, obviously, many leading Republicans believe that the latest set of maps give Democrats an unfair advantage overall.

But, as The Denver Post reported Sunday, not all Democrats are happy with the new districts either, and hearing their fellow Democrats say that the maps were drawn to meet the Supreme Court’s requirements to keep more counties whole doesn’t seem to satisfy them either.

But Worley and Clark failed to tilt their rhetoric anywhere near fairness and decency during a broadcast Tuesday.

Regardless of where they stand on this issue, Worley and Clark do no one any good when they nod, like Soviet generals, as Rep. Robert Ramirez, with no evidence, accuses reapportionment committee chairman Mario Carrera Tuesday of approving maps that would allegedly hurt Ramirez’s chances of re-election because of their old dispute over whether to allow undocumented children of illegal immigrants to qualify for in-state college tuition.

Retribution and spite, that’s what was motivating Carrera on the maps, Ramirez told told Grassroots Radio Colorado.

I mean, no matter where you sit on the political spectrum, you have to hope that a baseline level of evidence and facts are required before talk show hosts engage in a conversation like this one, which occurred on Grassroots Radio Colorado Nov. 29:

RAMIREZ: You know, its funny because the one vote this year that you guys actually praised me on, and we have seen different eye to eye on a couple things, was the ASSET vote. The in-state tuition for undocumented…. or illegals.  And he [Carrera] actually came to visit me the morning before that vote, brought me a letter and basically said please vote for this. It’s really important and I really want it. And I think we need to do this. It’s good for the Hispanic people. Blah blah blah blah. And really I went into that vote open-minded, thinking okay let’s see if there is something constitutionally we can do here. And they never found that. It was never there. Well then I hear…I overheard a Democrat [sic] commissioner talking to another commissioner hearing that while they were working on the maps, Carrera was discussing with people that he was upset with my vote on ASSET. And then I heard from a couple commissioners that he directly told them that he was mad about my vote on ASSET. So when I got my first map drawn, the primarily adopted, I am like wow ok so this is true, it’s working. But the new map with Carrera, and they dumped a 70 percent Democrat [sic] voting margin group in and took out my highest Republican voting margin. It was very obvious that he was playing the partisan game.

CLARK: So not to put words in your mouth. I’ll let you finish this Rep. Ramirez, but in your opinion you believe that pretty much everything he has been doing has been from a I’m mad at you for this, I’m mad at you for that, how dare you question me on this, and moving towards vindictiveness. And he is using the maps to get back at people he’s mad at.

RAMIREZ: Well, if you look, Ken Summers originally the only people that were really badly damaged that he could do anything with on the original maps were Republicans who had voted against the ASSET bill. And now it’s just, how dare you go against my word, so I’m really going to mess with you. I think it is. I think his pride has got in the way. And it’s unfortunate because I truly thought that he was a man of integrity. And he is proving that not so.

WORLEY: So now we can use M for Vendetta. M for Vendetta, we’ll have a new movie title going. Mario for Vendetta.

RAMIREZ: The main thing I wanted to say was, I wanted to thank Mario Nicolais. I wanted to thank the people who were actually trying to do their job. The Republicans that are on there. And it’s not a just a partisan thing. I’ve watched them, I’ve listened to them. And when you go to one of these meetings and you see the eye rolling of Atencio, Web, Matt…oh gosh…Matt Jones and Carroll. I mean literally, whenever a Republican or a conservative or a non-Democrat would say anything at these meetings they just [sign noise], roll their eyes, and really disrespect them. You never saw that from the people on the Republican side. They would get back at them.

WORLEY: I have heard Ms. Atencio is kind of nasty.

RAMIREZ: Oh absolutely. Without saying. I want to say that I appreciate the commissioners that are in there really trying to really be honest and hold true to the Constitution. Because the original map they gave me wasn’t a better map. It was a little worse than when I ran last year. But it was an honest map. And it followed the rules like you guys were saying earlier. We follow the rules. We go out there and try to do what’s right and then every time the Democrats…and we know they are going to do it, sweep in the last minute with lies.

Your blogger with arm around Brent Bozell

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

I discussed media bias today on a panel with Jason Bane, Dan Caplis, Stephen Keating, and Dave Kopel at a forum organized bvy the Centennial Institute as part of its “News in the 21st Century” project.

Last time I went to a Centennial Institute event, the views were narrow, with speakers Walker Stapleton and Scott Gessler on a predictable war path against progressives and Democrats like John Hickenlooper, with lots of heads nodding.

Today’s event, in contrast, had views from people like Mike Littwin, who was on a panel addressing whether the “media is simply giving the public what they want,” to Brent Bozell, who gave they keynote talk.

Some students thanked me for coming out and said they don’t hear different opinions all that often. (Maybe they need more liberal professors out there?)

I hear opinions different from my own most often on talk radio, and in print. But I had a good time talking to conservatives in the flesh today.

And I even got my picture taken with Brent Bozell, with John Andrews in the background. What more could you want from a visit to Colorado Christian University?

Jason Salzman and Brent Bozell at Colorado Christian University Dec. 2

Will Tea Party radio play a role in promoting Coffman’s and Bachmann’s idea that China, with no safety net, is economic model for all?

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

I like watching how Tea Party radio plays a role in the care and feeding of radical ideas. Here’s a small example.

This summer, I had a good honest conversation with Ken Clark, co-host of Grassroots Radio Colorado (KLZ 560AM), about what would happen to kids if the state of Colorado required their parents to pay more for their children’s government health insurance.

Clark agreed with me that there’s a risk that some kids’ health would suffer, but he said there are risks with running up more government debt too. (Sen. Greg Brophy has said the same thing.)

Then my on-air conversation with Clark moved to the bigger picture. He talked about how individual generosity, not government, should replace the safety net in America. That’s a theme you hear a lot on conservative talk radio, and often Ayn Rand’s name gets tossed in the mix.

Around the same time I had my conversation with Clark, Rep. Mike Coffman published an op-ed in the Littleton Independent taking a similar stand, but pointing to a place, a model, where the economy is booming in the absence of the economy-killing safety net.

Coffman refers to the China, which he presents as a model free-market economy, saddled unfortunately with political repression.

Here’s what he wrote in the Independent May 22 about a trip he took to China:

Coffman: “No doubt, it felt strange to travel to a country that is the largest holder of U.S. debt, continues to expand its industrial base at the expense of ours, and has enjoyed sustained economic growth based on the free market principles that we have long abandoned in favor of the redistributionist policies of a welfare state. The ruling elite of China are communists in name only but cling to power based solely on an ideology of economic growth that most of the population accepts in exchange for a complete lack of political freedom. The government knows that if they are unable to sustain economic growth then the Chinese people will question their authoritarian rule and unrest will follow. The Chinese are nationalistic in their pride; in only three decades this economic experiment has already lifted a third of their nation out of abject poverty.

Coffman voted for the Ryan budget, which, among other things, phases out Medicare, but this sounds like Coffman wants to go further, to the Grassroots-Radio-Colorado zone, where freedom means the poor and sick and lowly folks rely on donations.

And, lo, who picked up on Coffman’s point in early November? Michele Bachmann! For those of you who haven’t been paying attention to her lately, here’s what she said:

Bachmann: “The ‘Great Society’ has not worked, and it’s put us into the modern welfare state. If you look at China, they don’t have food stamps. If you look at China, they’re in a very different situation. They save for their own retirement security…They don’t have the modern welfare state and China’s growing. And so what I would do is look at the programs that LBJ gave us with the Great Society and they’d be gone.”

Bachmann puts more meat on Coffman’s China concept. No Social Security. No food stamps. No pesky Great Society programs to sink the economy and hold back the poor from thriving.

Now I’m expecting Grassroots Radio Colorado to start talking about the beauty of economic freedom in China, to bring things full circle in the Tea Party echo chamber.