Archive for May, 2013

Media Omission: Founder of Black Tea Party group gives State GOP Chair “Almost Human” honors

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Correction 6-4-13: Wilburn gave his “Almost Human” to the Republicans generally, and Ryan Call is emblematic of the Republicans, he told me in a phone conversation.


There’s a talk-radio show in Colorado Springs called “Black, White, and Right.”

“Black” because one of the show’s hosts is the African-American founder of Rocky Mountain Black Tea Party, which has the tough job making the conservatism more appealing to African-Americans.

“White” because one of the co-hosts is a white guy, Robert Blaha, who challenged Rep. Doug Lamborn in last year’s congressional primary in Colorado Springs.

“Right” because both of the show’s hosts are righties. (Note that the show was not called, “Black, White, and Correct.”)

Each week, the hosts name someone as “almost human,” kind of like Westword’s “Schmuck of the Week” or Colorado Inside Out’s “Disgrace of the Week.”

This past Saturday on “Black, White, and Right,” Blaha’s “Almost Human” was a woman in Florida who’s under federal indictment after using embezzled money to throw a birthday party for her boss.

But the African-American host, Derrick Wilburn, surprised me by picking “The Republicans” generally, and State Republican Chairman Ryan Call in particular, for “Almost Human” honors.

Wilburn feels unloved and unappreciated by Call, as you’ll see below, but as a connoisseur of conservative talk radio, I have to say that his attack on Call was so authentic and raw that I recommend it to all of you.

Read it below if you want, but listening here is better.

Blaha: This is dark!  This is just dark!!

Wilburn: I’m in a bad mood!  I’ve had it up to here. Our state chairman embodies “The Republicans,” whoever that is.

Blaha: OK.

Wilburn: I formed the Rocky Mountain Black Tea Party. It’s been almost two and a half years, and we’ve had monthly, on-the-ground meetings every single month for two and a half years.  except once, we got snowed out, this year, March. You know. You come to our meetings. We get 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 people sometimes. We had 600 once.

Ryan Call has never set foot in one of our meetings, ever! [We’ve met] every month for two-and-a-half years in Colorado Springs, every month for a year in Denver. He’s been to one meeting, when he was the invited guest speaker. He knows what I’m trying to do. He’s heard my presentation, as you have, and the plan we’re putting forth to reach out to minorities.

[Call] invites me to come to this meeting with Reince Priebus. Reince Priebus comes to town, and there is a small, unannounced, closed-door meeting.

Blaha: Who, by the way, is the head of the Republican Party for the United States.

Wilburn: He flies in for meeting with about 35 or 40 of us. He has a hard exit. He’s got to leave at 3:30 to catch a flight.

Ryan Call goes around the room, gives the microphone to every white elected official in the state, and lets them go off for as long as they want to. [BigMedia emphasis]

Gives me the microphone at 3:29 and thirty seconds. Thirty seconds left in the meeting, and says ‘I’m sorry,’ and I get thirty seconds to speak to the man.

I get to speak at the State Central Committee meeting. I get invited to speak.  The guy who’s trying to reach out to the young people, whom we know we all need. He puts us up there last! And puts the Doug Lamborns of the world up there first!

These people don’t get it!  They’re almost human.  And if we don’t get rid of some of ‘em and replace them with people who do [get it], we’re in a world of hurt.

Blaha:  You got to your point.  Well, let me make my point to your point:  The permanent political class has got to go, folks!

Ryan Call did not return an email seeking comment, but I’m guessing he’d say he understands that the GOP needs to diversify. But Wilburn’s comments make you wonder what he’s doing about it, when reality pops up and he has to make actual decisions that affect African-Americans, Hispanics, women, young people, etc. Reporters should keep an eye open for what’s going on with Call.

Journalists should note smoke coming from Gessler’s pants, if he runs for governor

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

If you’re a reporter, and you’ve been covering Secretary of State Scott Gessler, it’s been a tough few years, because he plays so fast and so loose with the facts.

That’s an accurate assessment, based on Gessler’s record of distorting basic voter information (Voter Fraud! Illegal Voters!), and has nothing to do with his policy positions.  If you’re a fair-minded person, you’d agree that Gessler is slippery.

So I pity the poor reporters assigned to chase Gessler around on the campaign trail, if he runs for governor, because I can only imagine the pitfalls they’ll hit as they try to fact-check the would-be Governor Honey Badger.

You can see it coming, as Gessler contemplates his gubernatorial run.

On KNUS’ Kelley and Company, for example, May 24, Gessler said that one of his major considerations, as he considers whether to run for governor, is to assess what’s left for him to accomplish as Secretary of State.

Gessler: “What have I done at the Secretary of State’s Office? What else is there left to do? Have we been able to accomplish a lot of what we wanted? To a large extent the answer there is yes.”

Gessler’s first goal as Secretary of State, you recall, was to moonlight for his former law firm, so he could make more money. He failed there, after it became obvious that no one would tolerate such brazen conflict-of-interest by the Secretary of State, of all people.

He filed a slew of lawsuits, including a big one to stop ballots from being sent to registered voters who missed just one election, and guess what? He lost most of his lawsuits at god-knows-what public expense, pissing off judges along the way.

He made several unsuccessful attempts to change campaign finance rules. Chief among them was his effort, which was ruled unconstitutional, to raise the threshold from $200 to $5,000 for an issue committee to report contributions and expenditures. He also tried to change the definition of a 527 committee so that most or all of them would not be required to report financial information.

He tried and failed to get a law through the state legislature giving him legal authority to purge voters. In the process, he unintentionally proved, to the few who might have wondered, that there is no significant problem with noncitizen voting in Colorado.

In a 9News YourShow debate prior to being elected, when listing goals as SOS, Gessler referred first to his plan to institute photo identification in Colorado. Failed there.

Next from Gessler’s lips on YourShow was his opposition to same-day voter registration, which is now law.

Gessler says on KNUS that his “record of achievement” includes a successful 2012 election and better services for Colorado business.

Even giving him this, which was arguably forced on him, you’d have to give Gessler a “pants-on-fire” rating for saying “to a large extent” he’s accomplished what he set out to do as Secretary of State.

If he enters the race, you hope journalists will report the smoke coming from Gessler’s pants–and that the fumes won’t choke the other candidates, like Tom Tancredo and Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Now would be a good time for reporters to contrast post-election immigration rhetoric with real-life immigration bill

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Rep. Cory Gardner said on the radio Thursday that he and other House Republicans will act like a giant fence and stop the Senate’s bipartisan immigration bill from becoming law, unless it’s changed from its current form.

Any journalists who caught the interview would have to agree that Gardner’s tough-guy tone isn’t what you’d expect to hear from a guy who told a reporter the day after the last election that it was “absolutely critical” to bring Latinos into the GOP tent. You’d expect Gardner to be sounding more like Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, but he’s not.

“[A]s the Senate bill is written, there are not the votes for that bill to move in the House of Representatives.” Gardner announced on KFKA radio’s AM Colorado, aligning himself with Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

As for his own problems with the bill, Gardner wants more border security, saying immigration reform “has to start with border security and some kind of a proof or trigger on border security so that it doesn’t happen unless you can actually prove that we have done the – taken the steps and components necessary to implement meaningful security measures.”

Specifically, Gardner cited the need for “additional personnel on the border,” an “e-verify system,” and “additional security, a fence, you name it, on the border.”

“The Senate version has a trigger,” said Gardner, “but it’s like five years into the program [and] then it doesn’t stop anything. It just says, “Okay, study it in a committee and work harder on it. No. We’ve got to prove to American people that, thirty years from now, this system still works.”

The Senate bill allocates billions to border security and sets milestones for enforcement.

Asked by host Devon Lentz what happens if the Senate won’t accept Gardner’s ideas to change the immigration bill, which passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a 13-5 vote last week, Gardner said he doesn’t think there has to be an impasse but:

“I think we have to convince the Senate that if they are truly interested in immigration reform, this is the way it needs to be done.”

So it’s Gardner’s way or the highway back to Mexico?

Reporters should call Gardner out for replacing his post-election happy face with the frowny face we’ve seen from Gardner in the past on immigration.

Media omission: Caldara says his tweet does not mean the Independence Institute is working on Giron recall

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Independence Institute Director Jon Caldara tweeted May 21 that he was “sure” the campaign to recall State Senator Angela Giron needed assistance.

Here’s his tweet:

Jon Caldara ‏@JonCaldara 21 May recall Angela Giron three weeks shy of petition deadline | News – Home … I’m sure they need help #coleg #2A #magban [BigMedia emphasis]

One of the many Twitter-obsessed political reporters in town should have reported whether this meant that the Independence Institute was helping with the petition drive.

“I’ve done petitioning,” Caldara told me.” I know that if they’re trying to get it done, I am certain they need help. It was a tweet all unto my own. I don’t know if they’re doing well or great or whatever. I figure they could use help.”



Will Tancredo’s GOP allies, like Coffman, denounce Tancredo’s anti-immigration views?

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

Now that former Congressman Tom Tancredo is officially running for governor, you wonder how many Republicans will go out of their way to denounce Tanc’s anti-anti-anti (that’s triple anti-) immigration views.

It’s a question reporters should put to Republicans (Are you with Tancredo on immigration?) not only because numerous Republicans are trying to cozy up to Hispanics (See Gardner, Coffman, Penry) but also because many leading Colorado Republicans endorsed Tancredo over the years.

As The Denver Post’s Kurtis Lee tweeted this morning, Rep. Mike Coffman endorsed Tancredo in 2010.

To get an understanding of the bond between those two guys (which goes beyond the fact that Tancredo was anybody-but-Dan-Maes in 2010), watch Coffman praise Tancredo’s true conservative values in this video. (Here Tancredo nominates Coffman.)

As you know if you follow Tancredo from microphone to microphone, Tancredo’s true conservative values start with immigration, which still comes up in one of every ten of his breaths.

On Friday, Tancredo told KNUS’ Steve Kelley, for example, that immigration reform is not only wrong but “impossible” to achieve. His solution, in a word, is e-verify, he told Kelley. Just make it impossible for employers to hire ’em.

Are Colorado Republicans ready to tell reporters how and why they part ways with Tancredo?

No justification for reporters to label Coffman a “moderate”

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

The jaw of anyone who’s followed the career of Rep. Mike Coffman dropped upon reading the National Journal’s characterization of Coffman yesterday as a “moderate who sometimes refers to himself as an independent.”

It’s true that Coffman refers to himself as a moderate. Most endangered politicians trying to appeal to independent voters do so.

But for a reporter to state as a fact that Coffman is a “moderate?” Where’s that come from?

Objectively, the word “moderate” does not come to mind if you look at the majority of Coffman’s record. He’s clearly way to the right on social as well as fiscal issues.

On the social side, Coffman does not hide the fact that he’s against all abortion, even in the case of rape and incest.  (Just last year, Personhood USA labeled Coffman a “statesman” for standing firm against abortion for any reason.) He voted in Congress to change the definition of rape, adding “forcible” as an clarifying adjective.

On fiscal issues, Coffman, who endorsed Gov. Rick Perry for President, has said the flat tax has “tremendous value.”

Coffman has called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme,” and has never retracted the statement.

On immigration, Coffman has expressed an open mind about immigration reform lately. But his record stands in opposition to his recent tone. Coffman introduced a bill mandating English-only ballots, even for areas with large numbers of Spanish-speaking voters who aren’t proficient in English. Coffman has long stood with (and endorsed) Rep. Tom Tancredo, who symbolizes American extremism toward undocumented immigrants and immigration reform.

Coffman has called the expansion of Medicare under Obamacare “very radical.”

Famously, Coffman said doesn’t know if Obama “was born in the United States of America,” but Coffman did know that Obama “in his heart, he’s not an American.” Coffman apologized, but Coffman thinks too big a deal was made of the Obama comment, and it was taken out of context.

If you look at the totality of Coffman’s record, you can say he’s taken an independent view on military spending. But that’s it.

There’s no justification for journalists to label him as a “moderate.”

IRS troubles light up CO Springs talk radio

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

Jeff Crank works for Koch-Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity and doubles as conservative-talk-radio-host poster child, holding forth on KVOR in Colorado Springs.

I offer Crank’s comments below, from Saturday’s show,to illustrate how the troubles at the IRS give echoers like Crank the perfect springboard to reach for their deepest anti-government rhetoric, while demonizing Obama at the same time in the most extreme and shadowy ways.

Crank: “This is the moment to stand up and say we need to rip the IRS out by its roots! Grab it and throw it away and eliminate it! Get RID of the IRS! Throw it out the window! Let it be—throw it on the ash heap of history! Make it be the Soviet Union! Something that we remember in the disant past! No federal agency should be feared like this – and bureaucrats should never ever have this kind of power. It’s sickening! It’s absolutely sickening to see this kind of thing.”

He added that it’s sicker that we don’t have a leader in the White House who will stand up and get rid of these Jack Booted thugs at the IRS. Then later, he got more specific about Obama:

Caller (Mrs. Youngblood): “The reason I thought why the IRS is attacking most of the religious organizations was that to silence them because he [Obama] is wanting to establish a One World Religion…which would be Muslim. These religious organizations just didn’t meet his standards. [he’s trying to] Keep them from growing. I know he’s Muslim.”

Crank: “…Some people will argue, ‘Oh, he’s not Muslim.’ Whatever, I’ll tell you this — He’s no friend of Christianity. When you’re attacking churches left and right and their tax status… there’s not one mosque that’s come forward and said, ‘You know what? The IRS is really attacking us’ Did you notice that, Mrs. Youngblood?”

Asked via Twitter if Crank really thinks Obama is “no friend of Christianity,” Crank replied: “I said there weren’t any Mosques that got an IRS root canal. Christian ministries did. True?”

Lobbyist Radio Host and Lobbyist Guest Express their Scewy Feelings on Internet Radio

Monday, May 20th, 2013

Lobbyist Corky Kyle, who runs the Kyle Group, hosts an internet radio show called “In the Lobby,” which promises to give “you a backstage pass to the heated industry of lobbying and politics.”

Here’s a taste of the backstage heat you got when Kyle had Tony Gagliardi, a lobbyist for the National Federation of Independent Business, on the show May 7 (@24 min).

Kyle:  All right. We’re back.  We’re back, after the exciting first segment of our show.  How’s it feel, Denver, to be a small businessman?  Did you just want to bend over and grab the Vaseline®?  Or maybe they’re not going to use Vaseline ® this time.  I don’t think they are.

Gagliardi:  They’re not even going to take you to dinner.

Kyle:  They’re not even going to take you to dinner!  That’s right!  And, on top of that, they won’t even kiss you!

Gagliardi:  [laughing] I know.

Kyle:  What the heck is going on with this?

Watch here @ 19:30:

Kyle and Gagliardi were upset with the legislative session, generally, but in particular, they didn’t like a bill that would subject businesses with 15 or fewer employees to workforce discrimination lawsuits, even though damages and penalties would be limited.

“I represent 7,500 members in this state and another 2,000 in Wyoming,” Gagliardi said on the show. “And the worst thing I hated to see come out of this session was the lack of respect for those who actually generate the infrastructure in this state, and that’s business.”

But was it ok to compare the legislation and the session to being butt f*cked with no Vaseline or anything more advanced?

I don’t think so. Do you?

“I stand by that, even though it may be a little vulgar,” said Kyle, adding: “If someone can show me where small business was helped, I’ll eat my hat and buy them dinner.”

For his part, Gagliardi told me.: “I would stand by my comment as far as lack of respect [to small businesses]. The question is, was respect shown to the small business community during this session? And the answer would be no.”

But what about the specific wording of the radio conversation?

“In that venue, playing off Corky’s comments, it’s not something I probably would have said in mainstream, but in that venue, given the context, and given what had happened the previous 120 days, I would probably stand by it,” said Gagliardi, adding that on internet radio “they really do push the envelope with more open dialogue.”

He’s right about internet radio (See shows like “Panties.”), but I can’t find any shows, featuring serious lobbyists and legislators, like “In the Lobby” does, that hit such obscene notes.

Anal sex came up the other day on Grassroots Radio Colorado, but the reference point was host Ken Clark’s story about how somebody ” rear-ended me” (as in a car accident). His co-host dropped the line: “That’s what she said.”

I don’t recall Kyle’s “In-the-Lobby” show, which has featured dozens of elected officials, including leadership from both parties, getting so deeply in the gutter before.

I asked Kyle if he was changing his show, trying to be more abrasive, so to speak.

“I think it’s starting to change on me because I just don’t like the way things are going [in the Legislature.]  Before, the whole premise of the show was, ‘if you don’t get involved in legislative process, you get what you get.’ All of a sudden things have gotten very contentious. You have to draw a line, and people want to hear different things. I want legislators on who will express some sentiments…. I don’t like the way it’s going.  Small business is getting the shaft so bad.”

Still, Kyle says that anyone who knows him will say that he’ll treat guests with the respect they deserve.

“I really do try to go down the middle,” he says. “That particular day it got a little stupid. I figure after 32 years, I get a hall pass.”

Post should have spotlighted Morse’s role in passing stoned-driving standard

Friday, May 17th, 2013

I’m late getting to this, but it’s still bugging me.

In The Denver Post’s, “Winners and Losers of the 2013 Colorado Assembly” editorial May 9, Rep. Mark Waller got credit for being “instrumental in getting a bill passed to set a standard for driving while stoned. He also managed to find a few Republican votes in favor of the budget.”

And House Speaker Mark Ferrandino was a winner for leading “his chamber through a highly contentious session with many late nights and long fights. He was heavily involved in brokering deals on the budget and other matters.”

Then how does Senate President John Morse not get similar recognition? He performed the not-so-easy task of getting a majority of Senate Dems to vote for SB1325, the DUI-D bill, that Waller was “instrumental in getting passed.”

The Post obviously liked the stoned-driving standard bill. Fair enough. So why not spotlight Morse’s work on the measure?

Krieble now wants work permits given without requiring immigrants to leave America first

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Connoisseurs of the immigration debate in Colorado are familiar with Helen Krieble’s “Red Card Solution,” which originally envisioned undocumented immigrants marching out of the U.S., getting a work permit from a private company, and then returning to the U.S. And all of this would be handled by the private sector. Krieble’s plan has been getting renewed attention lately by Republicans (Dick Wadhams helps promote it.), as an alternative to comprehensive immigration reform, which includes a path to citizenship. And so Krieble has been fielding a lot of questions, like this one on May 14 from KNRV’s Raaki Garcia:

GARCIA: Helen, my question is, would they need to go out of the country to participate in the Red Card. HELEN KRIEBLE: It is simply a question of whether a bill can get passed or not. The “law and order” people, who are a very strong part of this debate, say you must go outside of the borders of the country to enter legally according to our laws. And that doesn’t mean go home to the Philippines if you’re a Phillippino, but go outside. It would only take a week from anywhere in the United States with a forty-eight hour process to do this, so you’re out of the shadows in a week. But I think times have changed. And if it’s possible to pass a law by letting people get their work permits inside the country, I would love to see that happen.

Listen here to Helen Krieble 05-14-13_0001_0001 Garcia should have asked Krieble why her Red-Card-Solution website states that a great march out of the United States is still part of her thinking. What’s up?