Archive for February, 2013

Politico incorrectly reports that Coffman now backs “pathway to citizenship for immigrants residing in the country illegally, and for their children”

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

On Feb. 10, at a public forum in Aurora, Rep. Mike Coffman told the crowd (See video here.):

“I haven’t resolved the question about a pathway to citizenship for (adults) who’ve overstayed their visa or crossed the border illegally,” Coffman said.

Coffman also said that 1) he supports granting undocumented children, brought to America by their parents, a pathway to citizenship (through military service) and also that 2) he supports granting “legal status” (not necessarily citizenship) to undocumented adults.

Since then, a number of news outlets reported Coffman’s new positions on immigration, and they speculated that he’s modifying his views because he’s now vulnerable (or desperate) in his new district with a large Hispanic population.

But some journalists and bloggers are creating the false impression, or actually misreporting, that Coffman supports a path to citizenship for undocumented adults, when as far as I know, he does not.

Yesterday, for example Politico’s Alex Isenstadt reported, in an article with the misleading headline of “Mike Coffman Does a 180 on Immigration:

“[Coffman] came out in favor of establishing a pathway to citizenship for immigrants residing in the country illegally, and for their children.”

I’ve requested a correction from Isenstadt, but he didn’t immediately respond.

In a blog post last week, I spotlighted a misleading headline atop a blog post by Denver Post Editorial Page Editor Curtis Hubbard. It read, “Four Reasons why Rep. Mike Coffman, (R-Aurora), Saw the Light on the Dream Act.”

In fact, Coffman supports one of the DREAM Act’s two paths to citizenship (military enrollment) not the other path (high school or college graduation). So, he hasn’t seen much light on the DREAM Act. As of today, he’d vote against it, as he did in 2010.

I have to say that in a previous blog post, I also overstated Coffman’s new position on the Dream Act, and I tweeted that he flipped when he hadn’t. Long ago, I guess, I convinced my own self that he was sure to flip at some point, and when it looked like he did a 180, I rushed to my keyboard. But actually, he just modified his position, as explained above.

I corrected my blog post. I hope the bigger, badder journalists out there correct their stories or stop misleading us about, as AP put it, Coffman’s “change of heart” on immigration.

Gun group aims to eliminate all background checks on gun purchases

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Even before the bill requiring universal background checks on gun purchases clears the State Legislature, as expected, the head of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, Dudley Brown, is promising to challenge the law in court.

No surprise there from an organization that puts “no compromise” atop its website. But it deserves reporting because of the sweeping impact that Brown says he lawsuit could have.

Brown says his organization will use a legal strategy that would not only overturn the would-be universal-background-check law, but also the existing Colorado Brady Act, which requires limited background checks. So all background checks would be eliminated.

Brown made these comments on KFKA radio’s Scooter McGee show last week:

Scooter (@13:20): Unfortunately, the fight is not working. They are going to pass this. Conservatives are now saying, well, even if it passes, it won’t work in the courts. Well even if it goes–

Brown: I disagree. Look, I was quoted in the McDonald decision by the United States Supreme Court, directly quoted by Justice Alito in the majority decision. I will tell ya that some of those decisions, unfortunately, both Heller and MacDonald, justify gun control. You’ve been told a lie, if you think that Heller or MacDonald, are going to overturn any of these bills. I don’t believe they are. Is it possible that we could overturn the expansion of Brady in the universal background checks because of Article II, Section 13, that says ‘the right of no person to keep and bear arms shall be called in question?’ Well, we’re going to try. But it’s not just going to just repeal that bill. It’s going to repeal the entire Colorado Brady Act, if it’s actually successful. Because we don’t believe that you should be required to go through a background check. The truth is, the NRA isn’t going to supoort us on that. They never have. They’ve actually been in favor of Brady checks–and expand Brady checks, including mental health provisions. And here’s a news flash to you, Scooter, if they have mental health provisions, you’ll never be able to pass a Brady check, because they will call you crazy.

Scooter: News to you, Dudley?

Brown: So will they me. So will they Kevin Blake, who is listening. So they will most gun owners.

Scooter: They are going to do it to all of us, and that is ultimately the crux of this…

I’m hoping McGee treats his conservative audience to a conversation with the NRA about its legal plans if the background-checks bill passes, and he invites Brown to keep things interesting.

Headline on Post blog stretched the facts in asserting that Coffman “saw the light on the DREAM Act”

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Last week, The Denver Post’s Curtis Hubbard wrote a blog post with the headline, “Four reasons Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, saw the light on the DREAM Act”.

But Coffman has not seen the “light” on the DREAM Act. He may be inching his way toward the light, but he’s still in the dark.

The Dream Act of 2010, which Coffman voted against, would have granted a citizenship path to some undocumented immigrants brought to this country as children, who graduate from high school or enroll in the military. (Other versions of the DREAM Act would make citizenship contingent on military service or graduating from college.)

Now Coffman is saying he supports one of the DREAM Act’s paths to citizenship (military enrollment) not the second path (high school or college graduation). So, he hasn’t flipped on the DREAM Act. Based on his current positions, he’d vote against it again.

In fact, on the key issue of citizenship, Coffman hasn’t moved much from the position he took last year, when told The Post:

“I certainly don’t support a path to citizenship for those that have violated our laws.”

Coffman doesn’t support a citizenship path for our country’s 10 million undocumented adult immigrants, preferring the approach of giving them “legal status” and thus creating an underclass of workers with no political voice.

And his citizenship path for young immigrants, through military enrollment, appears to be unworkable, because, based on the numbers of undocumented immigrants who might enroll, the armed forces could probably not handle so many new recruits. Which makes the argument for two citizenship paths (education and military), as envisioned in the DREAM Act, even stronger.

Here’s the bill summary from 2010 DREAM Act, which Coffman voted against. I include it partially because I reported it incorrectly in a recent post of mine.

This bill would establish a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants under the age of 29 who were brought to the U.S. by their parents before the age of 16 and have graduated high school or promise to serve in the military. Applicants for citizenship under the DREAM Act would have to meet certain criteria designed to prevent the bill from being exploited and to weed out applicants that have been in trouble with the law. Immigrants granted conditional citizenship under the bill, pending final status adjustment, would not be allowed to receive federal benefits like food stamps and Medicaid.

In coverage of gun-safety debate, Post should have explained reference to “Japanese internment camps”

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

In an article Tuesday, The Denver Post described the gun safety debate in the State House this way:

Monday’s discussion in the House, while far shorter than the 12-hour debate Friday, was distinguished by speeches that quoted “Hamlet,” invoked images of Japanese internment camps and cited the example of Mahatma Gandhi — in this case in favor of gun rights.

If you read this, you were probably wondering what distingished speeches referenced “Japanese internment camps.” I mean, you can guess what was said about Hamlet, but what could possibly be the connection between guns and internment camps?

The article didn’t say, but it turns out that Rep. Kevin Priola compared the rounding up and jailing of Japanese Americans during WWII to proposed legislation prohibiting large-capacity ammunition magazines:

Priola stated:

Priola: When American men and women were killed, and the public’s anger was so strong that they asked politicians to do something, ‘We must do something for public safety. It’s about public safety. And we must do something.’ But after the threat has passed, and time had healed wounds, we reflected on what we had done. Had actually taken away freedom from those American citizens, and with hindsight we can now be remorseful. What am I speaking of? Think about it. The Japanese interns. In 1941 and 42, Americans were asking politicians: ‘This group over here. They are a threat to public safety. We must remove them from the coasts because they’ll sabotage ships and they’ll blow up our navy ships.”

Speaker: Rep. Priola, can we keep it on House Bill 1224.

As I read this, Priola is equating the “freedom” you lose when a wave of bigotry lands you in jail to the “freedom” lost when concerns about gun safety spawn legislation banning large-capacity magazines, when you still have your small-capacity ones plus you still have your guns (notto mention your actual freedom).

Priola’s position is, objectively, so extreme that The Post should reported his full remarks.

Birther talk-radio host fails to test depth of CO State Senator’s birther-related views

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

You’d think KHOW’s Peter Boyles, who’s probably the leading birther talk-show host in America, would at least stop and say ‘thank you’ when a State Senator tips his hat to Boyles’ relentless efforts to expose President Obama’s Social Security number as phony.

Boyles had his chance Tuesday, when State Sen. Greg Brophy told Boyles on air that media corporations “shut down” the debate about Obama’s Social Security number because such a debate might be “toooo disruptive” and cause the media companies to make less money.

Boyles @17:10: I don’t know if you’ve seen this, Come and Take It. It’s a wonderful video by this guy coming up Steve Vaus. He’s won some Grammy’s and he’s done this video. They can’t get anybody to let him buy time, including the company I work for, won’t let him buy time. So we put him up. We put him on the air… It’s interesting, as he’s pointed out, the big media corps, they are as afraid of the President, or in bed with these guys because they are looking for bailouts, so they don’t want any problems. But the same stations that would not take Vaus’ ad will take ads from the people with Gabby Giffords. Does that make any sense to you as an elected official?

Brophy: Of course it doesn’t. But I guess, on the one hand, they just want what’s good for business. They’re not ideological. That’s why they shut down all that talk about, that you worked so hard on, the President’s Social Security number. Exact same thing. Let’s not talk about the stuff that might be toooo disruptive because, ‘we all got to make some money here.’

If I’m Boyles, and I hear this from Brophy, I’m thinking, “Ah ha! I’ve got a fellow birther on the phone. And he’s a State Senator! I should ask some questions and test the depth of his birtherness.”

But Boyles, who ranks as Colorado’s number one birther, according to Denver Post Editorial Page Editor Curtis Hubbard, let it slide by, without asking Brophy if he thinks the origin of Obama’s SS number is a legitimate issue that truly deserves more media scrutiny.

So I did Boyles’ work for him and asked the amiable Brophy, a Republican from Wray, whether he thought Obama’s Social Security number is fake.

“Call Boyles and ask him,” he responded. “He did extensive work on it.”

Questioned further, Brophy wrote: “Peter makes a great case, and I have not heard a rebuttal. Do you have a good one.”

I referred Brophy to Snopes and media fact checkers.

Talk-radio callers should fact-check the hyperbole and misinformation on gun safety

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Conservative talk radio is reverberating with misrepresentation, confusion, and falsehoods about the gun safety legislation moving through the State Legislature.

Now would be a good time for fact-based listeners to call into these fear-based shows to straighten out the hype-based hosts and their back-scratching guests.

For example, Sen. Kevin Lundberg said the following on KFKA’s Amy Oliver Show Feb. 11:

“You know, I remember decades ago, somebody said, ‘I will not give up my gun rights, you know, until you pry my cold dead hands away from it.’  We all thought, ‘Well, That will never happen.’ Well, boy, we are so close, so close to that.”

I hope Sen. Lundberg isn’t digging a bunker in preparation for his own death in a final righteous gun battle, which he believes to be “so close.”

In reality, no proposed bill in the Colorado Legislature would make it illegal for Lundberg to own a gun. Ditto for any law-abiding Republican talk-show host, despite the cries you’re hearing on the airwaves.

Lundberg continued:

“PBS NewsHour asked me: ‘Can’t you find a middle ground?’  And my answer was, ‘Yeah, it’s what we have in place now.  We have a concealed/carry law. We don’t have a Vermont-style carry, where every citizen is allowed to carry, just by virtue of being a legal citizen.  But So we have a permit system.’  Okay.  I can accept that as being a middle ground.  But the Left believes the only solution is pretty much a total ban on everything.  And so they’re just going for everything they can get.  It’s a very, very extreme position.”

Heading toward similar extremes, House Minority Leader Mark Waller told KHOW’s Michael Brown Wed.:

“And there’s no evidence that universal background checks, in any way, enhance public safety.”

No evidence? Zero?

Last month, the Washington Post’s Brad Plumer interviewed a University of Chicago Professor who studied the issue in-depth and concluded that universal background checks would likely enhance public safety, by requiring checks on the gun buyers who aren’t currently required to get them (up to 40% of gun purchases. The NRA believes the figure is 10%, but, still, Ludwig’s argument, below, still holds up.)

Ludwig cited studies in the late 1980s showing that 80% of people who committed a crime with a handgun acquired it from an unlicensed gun dealer and therefore didn’t have a background check.

“Most people who own guns are middle-class, law-abiding citizens,” he says. “If you tell them to do a background check, I think they’ll do it voluntarily.” And for those who prefer to evade the law, the government might have to provide more resources for police to do undercover gun buys on the secondary market—in order to ensure compliance. “That’s never going to be perfect, but anything you can do to tighten the secondary market will help.”

That’s fact-based, common sense. It makes a good starting point for a reasonable discussion on costs and benefits of background checks.

Waller’s and Lundberg’s hyperbole sends us in the opposite direction and should be called out by talk-radio hosts–or you, if you listen in.


Freshman GOP lawmaker rejects advice not “to go to meetings, and not fill out surveys, and not really take strong stances on anything”

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

Denver Attorney Randy Corporon is one of those Tea Party activists who thinks Republicans are losing elections because, as he said on the radio recently, they’ve “gotten away from the conservative values that make Republicans win.”

If that’s true, then why not talk about “conservative values” until you turn red, and Colorado reddens up right along with you?

Maybe it’s because Republicans are listening to consultants who tell them to shut up about what they really believe.

When he arrived at the Legislature, freshman State Rep. Justin Everett was told not “to go to meetings, and not fill out surveys, and not really take strong stances on anything,” Everett told Corporon last month on KLZ radio’s Grassroots Radio Colorado.

“Obviously, I didn’t do that,” Everett said on the radio in January, saying essentially that he won’t be silenced and pointing to issues he discussed right there on Grassroots Radio Colorado as proof that he will continue to speak out. (Apparently, other GOP lawmakers whose legislation was featured in a Denver Post article over the weekend, won’t back down either.)

You’d think the good folks on Grassroots Radio Colorado would want to know who told Everett to tone it down at the Legislature, because it sounds like the Grassroots Radio Colorado hosts are the ones whom Republicans are trying to keep guys like Everett from chatting with. But the question wasn’t raised, so I asked Everett who told him to avoid meetings, not take strong positions, etc.

“I think it was some of the consultants that were hired,” he wrote, adding that he filled out every survey he had time for, and attended every meeting he could possibly make.

“I’m not going to turn my back on Tea Party people,” he said in one interview during the campaign, during which he certainly came out with some strong positions against, for example, providing grade-grade school education to undocumented children.

Everett said on the radio Jan. 11: “We’re going to go through this battle every two years, about, ‘Yeah, we need to move to the Left, further left, further left.’ And then of course, there will be those of us who will push back. ‘Actually, we need to move further right,’ because it seems that we’re always compromising with the Democrats, much to their side, and that’s how we end up with $17 trillion deficits, and you know, our Constitution basically being used as toilet paper.”

The Constitution as toilet paper? Ouch.

“And all those [state legislative] races that were supposedly competitive races ended up not being competitive races because our candidates just weren’t taking strong stances, on anything,” Everett told Corporon, who was a guest host on Grassroots Radio Colorado.

Everett’s comment about being advised not to fill out surveys might explain why so few Republicans bothered to fill out The Denver Post’s 2012 candidate survey, which had basic questions about candidates’ stances on key issues, during the last election. Do GOP candidates plan on ignoring The Post’s basic voter guide again? (Hint: If I’m The Denver Post, I might want to check on this.)

Everett, by the way, filled out The Post’s survey, and my guess is he’ll do it again. Listen for him on Grassroots Radio Colorado.


Does Coffman agree with Krieble that new immigrants should, someday, have a political voice?

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

The idea of having a voice in government is so central to the ideals of America that you wonder how politicians like Rep. Mike Coffman can contemplate giving millions of undocumented workers “legal status,” without offering them the hope of becoming citizens and participants in the democracy that surrounds them, such as it is.

But reporters apparently haven’t asked Coffman the question of whether an underclass of workers should reside in America with no political voice. It would be interesting to hear what he has to say.

When questioned on this topic, conservative Helen Krieble, who advocates the “Red Card” guest-worker program for undocumented immigrants, surprised me by saying that political representation for immigrants is necessary but, she said, it can wait, perhaps years.

On KBDI Channel 12’s Studio 12 program last week, in response to Attorney Aaron Hall’s assertion that this class of workers needs a voice, and access to representation, and that citizenship would give them this protection, Krieble said:

(@ 48:45) I couldn’t agree with you more on that. I just think that it’s important to have that citizenship piece – it’s just so broken, and it is such a very serious issue, that there will be huge numbers of regulations and requirements that are associated with that….

(@ 53:45) Citizenship will be the tough part. At least a year more, two or three years, to get the citizenship part right. Work permits can be addressed this spring or fall… Let’s get this done. There is a pathway to citizenship currently, it is not linked to guest worker program. The pathway to citizenship is coming, but we’re going to take our time to get it right.

Recognizing the need for a path to citizenship is new territory for Krieble, whose plan has been endorsed by GOP strategist Dick Wadhams. There’s no mention of it on her website, and a recent Denver Post article explicitly points out that a path to citizenship is not part of her plan.

Krieble, who resides in Parker, said on KBDI that the need for legal workers is so great, and the complications of figuring out how to offer citizenship so numerous, that we should get going with work permits.

If you’re looking for proof that delaying a decision about citizenship will smooth things out, you better erase from your mind the debate about immigration reform over the past decade or so.

Still, especially in light of Krieble’s new thinking, it’s worth finding out what Coffman and others who are opposing a path to citizenship think about Krieble’s point, that new immigrants deserve a political voice.

What does America with an immigrant underclass actually look like?

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Reporting on town a hall meeting in Aurora on Sunday, The Denver Post’s Nic Turiciano did a nice job focusing on what’s emerged as the central issue in the immigration debate: whether to grant a path to citizenship to the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States.

Turiciano reported that Rep. Jared Polis supports a path to citizenship, with or without beefed up border security, Sen. Michael Bennet said he wants border security and a “real pathway,” and Rep. Mike Coffman said he supports offering citizenship path to children brought to the U.S. illegally, but is still mulling over what to do about the adults.

After voting as recently as 2010 against citizenship for the so-called dreamers, who are children brought to America illegally by their parents, Coffman has now proposed legislation that would grant citizenship to them after they complete basic training for U.S. military duty (not for going to college).

If all the eligible undocumented young people took Coffman up on his proposal, he’d be looking at 1.4 million new recruits, potentially swamping the U.S. military, which currently has about 1.5 million active-duty personnel. So, how does Coffman’s proposal work, logistically?

But even if Coffman comes up with viable path to citizenship, and let’s hope it’s a highway, for undocumented young people, he’s still got to deal with the 9.5 million adults whose citizenship fate he’s mulling over.

Right now, Coffman is ready to give these 9.5 million people legal status, which essentially means he’s giving them the right to taxation without representation. (So you’d hope, that the Tea Party would be dumping their mini-Constitutions all over Coffman’s door matt.)

That’s the next layer of reporting that’s needed on the immigration beat. What does America look like with an underclass of 9.5 million?

It’s not apartheid, to be sure, or Jim Crow. It’s not straight-up slavery or indentured servitude. It’s kind of like the relationship between South Africa and the country of Lesotho post-apartheid, when the Lesotho miners would go to South Africa to live and work. But the closest model might, ironically enough, be the colonists, though it’s an imperfect fit.

In any case, what does a guy like Coffman have in mind? How would it work? What rights and responsibilities of citizenship would be granted? And what rights (voting?) and responsibilities (military service? taxes?) would be denied?

The picture of millions of “legal” immigrants with no voting rights gets ugly, doesn’t it, when you start thinking about it in the context of those pesky American values, like democracy.

Or maybe not? Maybe this is what American opportunity looks like to Coffman (and Tipton, Gardner, and Lamborn, all of whom oppose the path to citizenship). Maybe legal status is good enough.

If so, fair enough. But let’s hear about their vision of what America looks like with an entire class of pseudo-citizens who are fundamentally unequal to the rest of “us.”

Republicans in CO talk-radio land pissed at Rove for pushing plan to back allegedly more winnable GOP primary candidates

Friday, February 8th, 2013

You probably heard that GOP strategist Karl Rove pissed off lots of fellow conservatives this week when he unveiled a plan to prop up Republicans deemed more electable by Rove, when Rove’s candidates are under attack in primaries from more conservative upstarts

The New York Times Jeff Zeleny reports:

The strategist Karl Rove and his allies are under withering criticism for creating the Conservative Victory Project, their effort to help rebuild the Republican Party and win control of the Senate. Their pledge to take sides in primary races in an effort to pick candidates they see as more electable has set off a fierce backlash from conservative activists.

“This is not Tea Party versus establishment,” Mr. Rove said, defending his new project on Fox News. “I don’t want a fight.”

Yet a fight has broken out this week across the conservative media spectrum, with Mr. Rove drawing the ire of Tea Party leaders and commentators who suggest that he and other party strategists are the problem, rather than the solution, to the challenges facing Republicans.

Here in Colorado on Wed., former Larimer Country GOP Chair Tom Lucero reflected the sentiments of other conservative talkers when he told his listeners on KFKA’s “AM Colorado:”

“I think what Karl Rove is doing is absolutely, incredibly wrong-headed…The beltway politicians, those guys are telling Steve King, ‘You better not run for that Senate Seat in the state of Iowa. We will get behind the other guy.’ …I think Steve King would be a great U.S. Senator.”

Added Lucero’s co-host Devon Lentz, also a former Larimer County GOP official:

“Well, we’ve seen it in CO, when the establishment tries to vet the candidates, there is a lot of backlash, and that never ever benefits the party as a whole.”

Lentz continued on air that it’s unfair for the Republican establishment to focus on derailing conservative candidates because “any candidate can say something stupid.”

Lucero, a former CU Regent, responded:

“Thank you! Exactly! That’s the point. That’s why people are upset right now with Karl Rove and this group, trying to say, ‘We will determine the candidate most electable in a primary…’

But the reality of it is, –Let’s be honest about this, candidates all over the place — Joe Biden does it all the time, but the mainstream liberal media protects him. It’s when a Todd Akin or a Richard Mourdock says something stupid that the mainstream liberal media jumps all over it and tries to bury those candidacies. So there’s a double standard when it comes to ‘opening mouth and inserting foot.'”

Lucero then referenced an article by Matt Lewis in the Daily Caller, titled “Really Want to Stop the Next Todd Akin:? Don’t Attack Conservative Candidates, Train Them.”

Lucero liked Lewis’ suggestion that Rove and Company offer basic candidate training to all Republicans on how to answer questions, talk to the press, and not make “idiotic” comments like Missouri’s Todd Akin made [about “legitimate rape,” your recall].

“Wouldn’t that be the better solution than starting an intra-party war between conservatives and establishment?” Lucero asked.