Good News! June 16-23, 2017

(Because Lord knows we can use some – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This was a hard week to write “Good News” for. Still, there was some.

Small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate…that’s what this diary is about. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine.

This week, it’s all about the heat, voters, immigrant rights, cannabis, and beer. Farmer’s markets. Buying local. No sports news, because the only sports I halfway understand are basketball and baseball. Anything else, I’m the one looking at you to see when to stand up and cheer.

Environmental / energy

It’s freaking hot in Colorado, especially on the western slope , down south, and in Denver, but the head of the EPA won’t say if climate change is a hoax, although his boss says it is.

Good news: It’s not as hot as Phoenix’s 119 degrees . Even AZ Sen. McCain thinks this global warming thing is the real deal.   Plastic mailboxes are melting in Arizona – it’s that hot.  (Photo from reddit, via Buzzfeed)

 

MacGregor Ranch is piloting a program to work closely with the NRCS to cut underbrush and mitigate wildfire risk, since it is so freaking hot in Colorado. Drought and wildfires are the two main hazards Colorado experiences from climate change. Here’s the video from the pilot project.

Virgin Mobile and several other big retailers are planning to conserve energy by running their trucking fleets more efficiently.

Coal India, the world’s largest coal mining company, will shut down 37 of its mines that are no longer economically viable. The lost energy will be replaced mainly with solar.

Clean energy jobs remain the fastest-growing employment sector in Colorado  – with 62,000 added last year.  65% of those jobs are in energy efficiency.   This all helps Colorado to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation at 2.3%.    Rates for youth under 24 were at 6%, and for Hispanics at 5%, still lower than most other states.

There’s still some good fishing around Colorado. Get’em while there’s still water enough to fish in.

And you can drive to your fishing spot on roads you won’t have to pay an extra tax on, per the Colorado Business Coalition. Amendment 267 passed, funding $3 Billion for road repair and maintenance; however, $10 billion was needed. Where will that come from?

The “Dog Days” are  approaching. If you see poor Puddles panting in a hot car, you can break in to save the pet – but not legally,  in Colorado, until August.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (June 23)

Trumpcare and Russia: That’s pretty much the extent of the news today, but here are a few more headlines worth following. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Senate Republicans on Thursday released their plan to kill as many Americans as possible make massive changes to healthcare in this country. Vox.com breaks down the Senate Trumpcare bill — officially called “The Better Care Reconciliation Act” — into a handful of “winners” (rich people) and “losers” (pretty much everyone else). As Sarah Kliff explains in a separate story for Vox.com, the Republicans’ primary argument for supporting its healthcare efforts is a complete sham:

Republican lawmakers consistently claim that the Obamacare marketplaces are collapsing, so they need to pass a bill to repeal and replace the health law…

…The marketplaces, though, have refused to cooperate. They are not working perfectly — but they are far from ruinous demise, experts say. But the Republican replacement plan, introduced Thursday, could change that. It contains several provisions that could accelerate the crumbling of the marketplaces and leave millions of Americans with no health care options.

“Honestly, the marketplaces are in okay shape,” says David Anderson, a research associate at Duke University who studies the individual market. “The amount of competition isn’t where some people would like it to be, but this isn’t collapse.”

Republicans such as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) are all over the place on their talking points; Gardner, for example, was part of the Senate working group on the healthcare legislation, yet he insists that he never saw any of the bill’s proposed language until it was released to the public. And then there’s this nonsense from Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.

 

► Jennifer Rubin, the conservative columnist for the Washington Post, doesn’t understand what Republicans are doing with Trumpcare:

Instead of getting run over by the right wing of their party, as their House counterparts did, Senate moderates have the chance to strike out on their own and come up with reforms that bolster the exchanges and that improve Medicaid. They can test Democrats’ promise to work constructively across the aisle. Conservatives, meanwhile, should understand that the bill is nothing more than a repudiation of their seven-year fight to repeal the ACA. They will leave a legacy that amounts to: Obamacare, but worse!

 

President Trump announced on Thursday that there are no tapes of his conversations with former FBI Director Jim Comey. Trump Tweeted the news a full 41 days after he first floated the idea on Twitter that such tapes might exist.

The Washington Post does a deep dive into how the Obama administration handled (or failed to handle) information that Russia was trying to influence the 2016 election. Regardless of how Obama handled the information, it is indisputable that Russia’s meddling was intended to help Trump win the Presidential election.

 

► Vice President Mike Pence is in Colorado Springs today to speak at a “Focus on the Family” anniversary event. Not everyone is happy to see the VP.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Good news! Week of June 11- 17, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate…that’s what this diary is about. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine. And that’s fine. Something I’m missing? Add it in the comments.

LGBT:

Massive Marches may move us, but the  biggest and gayest parade this year in Colorado will be Pridefest, this Sunday June 18. Civic Center Park will host the celebration all weekend. For your daily minimum requirement of fabulousness, go to Pridefest Denver. (Photo from 2016 Pridefest, Wikipedia Commons)

Pridefest Denver 2016 -from Wikipedia commons

LGBT hero: One of the Capitol Police agents wounded in the recent terrorist attack in DC was Crystal Griner, a married lesbian woman. Griner and her fellow officers, including David Bailey , rushed the shooter, taking him down and preventing a massacre.

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Bennet Throws Down To Defend Press Access

Sen. Michael Bennet (D)

As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, a sudden decision by the Republican leadership of the United States Senate to restrict press access to Senators prompted a fierce backlash from Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado today:

Reporters were abruptly barred on Tuesday morning from conducting on-camera interviews at the U.S. Capitol, drawing swift condemnation from reporters and Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

“The attacks by the president on the free press have been outrageous,” Bennet said in a video statement posted to his Twitter account. “And now for the majority in the Senate to bar reporters from their customary places … is a further attack and it can’t stand.”

As Politico reports, Sen. Richard Shelby of the Senate Rules Committee is in damage control mode after this attempt to curtail press access appears to have backfired:

Senate Rules Committee Chairman Richard Shelby sought to tamp down a media firestorm after television reporters were told by the director of the Senate Radio and Television Gallery that they could no longer film impromptu interviews with senators in Capitol hallways.

On Tuesday morning, Mike Mastrian, the director of the Senate Radio and Television Gallery, which reports to the Rules Committee, told reporters that in order to get approval for a hallway interview with a senator, a reporter must now call the committee’s chief counsel and obtain prior permission from the senator being interviewed…

Shelby (R-Ala.) put out a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying there had been no changes to the existing rules, but suggesting that the new guidelines were a matter of tougher enforcement of existing rules.

“The committee has been working with the various galleries to ensure compliance with existing rules in an effort to help provide a safe environment for Members of Congress, the press corps, staff, and constituents as they travel from Senate offices to the Capitol. Once again, no additional restrictions have been put in place by the Rules committee,” Shelby said.

According to Politico, reporters at the Capitol said they were being hassled in the morning, but by the afternoon “the old procedures were back in place and they were no longer facing any new restrictions.” There’s little question at this point that the attempt to curtail access was made, but a swift retreat under claims of a “misunderstanding” allows Republicans to save face.

The recent open hostility toward the press, led by President Donald Trump but increasingly joined by Republican lawmakers with such high-profile incidents as the violent attack on a journalist by a soon-to-be-victorious GOP congressional candidate, seems to be worse than longstanding complaints from the right about the so-called “liberal media.” Last year in Colorado, Republicans dogpiled on the media in an attempt to defend Jon Keyser from the scandal surrounding his forged ballot petitions–and left them looking like fools after Keyser’s campaign fell apart. Trump’s struggle for legitimacy since taking office has likewise forced many Republicans to trash-talk the media far more than they otherwise would, at profound risk to their own credibility as Trump loses legitimacy on an almost daily basis.

It’s got to end at some point, the question being how many will join in the disgrace before it does.

Watch out for the “Proud Boys” and other violent racists today

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

At the State Capitol now (Saturday, July 10, 2017) at 4 pm. Antifa counterprotesters at the bottom of the hill, #marchagainstsharia protesters at the top, marshalls in between. Via twitter, Anna V Smith, High Country News.

From Unicorn Riot, (@UR_ninja)  pictures of the Proud Boys and others ready to spread hate and fear today:

From Unicorn Riot, photos of Proud Boys, neo-nazis, and other racists at the Capitol today.

Proud Boys, a white supremacist, violent organization of young males , had a rally in Boulder on June 3, 2017, and plan another “Anti-Sharia March” in Denver at the Capitol from 3:30 – 6 pm on Saturday, July 10. EDIT: The Anti-Sharia Marches are organized by ACT for America, (Facebook link here) .  These anti-Sharia Marches are in 19 cities nationwide. A wide coalition of racist, violent, anti-Muslim groups are attending, including ACTforamerica, the ProudBoys, the Oathkeepers, and the Threepercenters (shown below in Atlanta).  The Southern Poverty Law Center is live-blogging them. You can follow the hashtag #hatewatch or #CounterActHate.

Proud Boys in Boulder June 3, 2017

Proud Boys, Boulder 6/3/17
Attribution: Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer, Boulder Daily Camera

On June 3, in Boulder, a dozen or so of  the “Boys” demonstrated at the Boulder courthouse, behind police barricades. They were met by about 250 counter-protesters, including some “AntiFa” (Antifascists) dressed in black, with black kerchiefs covering their faces. At some point during the counter-protest, someone threw firecrackers at the Proud Boys, and one of the counter-demonstrators was arrested.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (June 8)

Slow news day, eh? Well, except for that Comey thing. It’s time to Get More Smarter! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Former FBI Director James Comey testified today in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee about President Trump and allegations of illegal ties to Russia. There’s no shortage of coverage on Comey’s testimony online and in the media, but here’s one take from the Washington Post:

Former FBI director James B. Comey on Thursday essentially laid out an obstruction of justice case against President Trump and suggested senior leaders in the bureau might have actually contemplated the matter before Trump removed him as director.

Comey did not explicitly draw any legal conclusions. Whether justice was obstructed, he said, was a question for recently appointed special counsel Robert Mueller. But he said Trump’s request to terminate the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn left him “stunned,” and senior FBI officials considered it to be of “investigative interest.”…

…Legal analysts have said previously that there was reason to believe Trump might have obstructed justice — both in asking him to shut down the probe into Flynn and then, later, in firing Comey. Comey’s testimony, they said Thursday, clarified and bolstered the case.

Comey testified that he was skeptical of Trump almost from the outset, and he decided to document their interactions because he was “concerned [Trump] might lie about the nature of our meeting.”

This really no sugarcoating Comey’s testimony if you are a Trump ally — this was even more brutal for the President than anyone might have expected. For more on Comeypalooza, here’s another good summary from the Washington Post. More thoughtful analysis is available via CNN and the New York Times. To subject yourself to the entire transcript of Comey’s testimony — which lasted nearly three hours — Politico has you covered.

Locally, the editorial board of the Denver Post didn’t wait long to weigh in on the Comey testimony:

Even if Trump isn’t implicated in colluding with the Russians, even if none of his campaign staffers are found guilty, Comey’s sworn testimony and the known facts about his firing cripple the president’s credibility.

 

► How is the White House reacting to Comey’s testimony? It has been reported that Trump is apoplectic about the entire Russian “cloud” hanging over his presidency, but we haven’t yet heard from the President himself.

Trump’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, is peddling some nonsense about how this actually benefits Trump. Conservative media are also trying hard to make the case that Comey’s testimony somehow clears Trump of wrongdoing, or something. From NBC News:

In the aftermath of former FBI Director James Comey’s highly-anticipated testimony, President Donald Trump’s outside counsel says the president feels “vindicated” and ready to move forward with his agenda for the country.

Marc Kasowitz maintained Thursday in a statement to reporters at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. that Trump never asked Comey for his loyalty, contradicting a key part of the ousted FBI director’s testimony. President Trump’s personal lawyer took no questions and departed the room after delivering the short statement in support of the White House.

“The president also never told Mr. Comey, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,’ in form or substance,” Kasowitz told reporters.

The White House appears to be trying to deflect Comey’s testimony by hoping to paint the former FBI Director as “one of these leakers.”

 

► According to new poll results from Quinnipiac University, President Trump’s approval ratings have dropped to a new low. Again.

 

► Polls are open in the United Kingdom in what has become a bitter general election campaign. Prime Minister Theresa May is nonetheless expected to maintain control once the votes are counted.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

Get More Smarter on Monday (May 22)

Happy Victoria Day! It’s time to Get More Smarter! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► President Trump is in the midst of his first major overseas trip since he took office (or as Trump calls it, “my big foreign trip“). Trump is in Israel today after spending the weekend in Saudi Arabia, where he put his hands on a glowing orb and generally enjoyed not talking about scandals involving Russia.

But then, Trump being Trump, he made sure to bring up “that Russia thing” in a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN:

“Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name ‘Israel’,'” Trump told reporters in Jerusalem. “Never mentioned it during that conversation. They were all saying I did. So you had another story wrong. Never mentioned the word ‘Israel’.”

The story Trump was reacting to was this one, which ran a week ago in the Washington Post. And the thing about that story is that, well, the word “Israel” is never mentioned. Not one time…

Trump is the denying an allegation that, literally, no news organization made. He’s also implicitly confirming that, yes, he did talk to the Russians about classified information. [Pols emphasis] While the president has total freedom to de-classify material, the White House has urged media organizations — including CNN — not to report on the specific information Trump passed along due to how highly sensitive it is.

In a separate story, Cillizza also notes that Trump is regularly contradicting himself on foreign policy. The Washington Post notes the same phenomenon.

 

► Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is expected to invoke his fifth amendment right to not incriminate himself in response to queries from the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding his interactions with Russian officials. From the Associated Press:

Attorneys for Michael Flynn say that a daily “escalating public frenzy against him” and the Justice Department’s appointment of a special counsel have created a legally dangerous environment for him to cooperate with a Senate investigation.

That’s according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press that was written on behalf of the former national security adviser under President Donald Trump. The letter, sent Monday by Flynn’s legal team to the Senate Intelligence committee, lays out the case for Flynn to invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and his decision not to produce documents in response to a congressional subpoena.

The letter says that the current context of the Senate’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election threatens that “any testimony he provides could be used against him.”

 

► The Supreme Court has ruled that Republicans in North Carolina illegally disenfranchised African-American voters in the state’s last round of redistricting. From the Washington Post:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature unlawfully relied on race when drawing two of the state’s congressional districts.

The decision continued a trend at the court, where justices have found that racial considerations improperly predominated in redistricting decisions by Republican-led legislatures in Virginia, Alabama and North Carolina. Some involved congressional districts, others legislative districts…

…In the split decision, Justice Clarence Thomas joined the liberal justices in saying race improperly predominated the drawing of the district. New Justice Neil M. Gorsuch was not on the court when the case was heard, and took no part in the decision.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

“Blowhard Brauchler” Out Over His Skis Once Again

George Brauchler.

On Friday, Gov. John Hickenlooper pardoned Rene Lima-Marin, a Cuban immigrant who had endured a terrible legal ordeal after being released mistakenly, re-incarcerated years later, ordered released again, then picked up by federal immigration agents for deportation as a legal immigrant who committed a felony. Hickenlooper’s pardon removes the underlying basis for Lima-Marin’s deportation, but it remains an open question whether the Trump administration will honor the pardon and halt his removal from the country.

In response to Hickenlooper’s pardon, GOP gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler launched into a Twitter tirade attacking the decision, later issuing a press statement asserting that Hickenlooper’s pardon was not legal–despite the fact that Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly had asked for it.

That’s where the Denver Post’s Danika Worthington picks up the story:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper responded Saturday to criticism from District Attorney George Brauchler of his pardoning of Rene Lima-Marin, rejecting claims that he had acted improperly and broken the law in his haste to act.

The governor’s office said it had given proper notice to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s office, even receiving a lengthy letter in reply. Additionally, the office said it was within the governor’s authority to skip the standard seven-year waiting period typically required for pardons.

But Brauchler responded later in the day to counter Hickenlooper’s claims — another war of words between two frequent rivals, especially now that the district attorney is campaigning for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018.

Brauchler said his office received a clemency application for Lima-Marin, not one for a pardon, as required by law… [Pols emphasis]

The Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning goes down the process rabbit hole with Brauchler…and comes up empty:

Brauchler acknowledged Lima-Marin had filed an application for a commutation of his sentence, and his office had provided input on that to the governor’s office earlier this week.

“But a commutation of sentence is very different from a pardon,” he said. “We never had the victims consulted about a pardon. We never had input with the governor about a pardon. I was caught completely unaware the governor was considering a pardon…”

State Sen. Owen Hill, a Colorado Springs Republican who sponsored legislation last month calling on Hickenlooper to grant clemency to Lima-Marin — the Legislature approved the resolution unanimously — dismissed Brauchler’s complaints. [Pols emphasis]

“Reuniting Rene with his family is the right thing to do for him, his wife and his children,” Hill told The Statesman Friday night.

And the truly absurd part? Brauchler says he supports the hoped-for outcome of Hickenlooper’s pardon. Post:

Brauchler was careful to clarify that he believes Lima-Marin should be released and he opposes the move to deport him to Cuba — even as he objected to the pardon decision. [Pols emphasis]

Again, the reason Hickenlooper had to move quickly is Lima-Marin is by all accounts on a fast track for deportation. Without the pardon, his deportation is more or less automatic as long as the host nation of Cuba is willing and able to receive him–and they say they are. Recent changes to immigration policy toward Cuba and the general warming of relations between the two nations ironically makes it more likely that people in Lima-Marin’s situation, having come to America as children and knowing no other home, will be kicked out.

As for Brauchler, this is just shallow grandstanding. The governor’s constitutional authority to grant pardons supersedes Brauchler’s objections, and Brauchler concedes the moral high ground to Hickenlooper by agreeing that Lima-Marin should be freed. Brauchler clearly wants this to be a political fight over crime and immigration, not process questions–but he’s hiding behind the latter in an attempt to have it both ways.

And except for a few haters who need no encouraging to vilify immigrants, this isn’t going to help Brauchler become governor.

Hickenlooper Pardons Rene Lima-Marin While Brauchler Fumes

UPDATE: Bad news via 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger:

—–

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The Denver Post’s Kevin Simpson reporting, Gov. John Hickenlooper took swift action this afternoon to prevent the deportation of Rene Lima-Marin, a Cuban immigrant whose criminal case became a cause célèbre for state legislators before they realized he was subject to deportation:

Gov. John Hickenlooper said Friday he has issued an extraordinary pardon for Rene Lima-Marin, who was mistakenly released early from a long prison sentence only to be sent back after he had forged a productive new life as a husband and father.

Lima-Marin was freed from his Colorado prison sentence earlier this week and then held by federal immigration authorities. State lawmakers, Lima-Marin’s family and others had urged the governor to act quickly to prevent what they feared would be imminent deportation to his native Cuba…

“We thought it through well,” Hickenlooper said, pointing to bipartisan unity in the state legislature resolution that called for clemency. He added that it would be a “terrible symbol” to snatch away Lima-Marin’s freedom once again.

Asked what he hopes happens to Lima-Marin now, the governor said: “I hope he doesn’t get deported.”

The governor added that with the pardon, he has done everything he can at this point to stop deportation.

We noted yesterday how at least one GOP lawmaker was still fighting for Lima-Marin’s freedom even after it came out that he was subject to deportation for the crime he originally committed–though we were waiting to hear from others to know if this was as unanimous as the original resolution calling for Lima-Marin’s release was.

Post-pardon, GOP gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler is making it painfully clear he does not approve:

So…we assume there’s a big disagreement here between Brauchler and the entire Republican caucus in the Colorado General Assembly? That’s what we have to assume until we see some more statements from Republican lawmakers. It’s going to be difficult for Brauchler to make much political hay out of this unless a bunch of silent Republicans who were in support of Lima-Marin’s freedom come out with a different opinion now.

As for Gov. Hickenlooper, it’s true that he has now done everything he can. If President Trump wants to make a political martyr of a man who has already been through a bizarre and painful mistake in the criminal justice system, it’s his fire to play with.

And now, George Brauchler’s too.

Trump Immigration Crackdown Trips Up Colorado GOP

9NEWS’ Kyle Clark reports on a fascinating development in a story that attracted much attention at the close of this year’s legislative session in Colorado–a prison inmate named Rene Lima-Marin who was mistakenly released early and then re-incarcerated, prompting a bipartisan push from legislators to win his freedom.

Apparently, no one expected what came next:

Rene Lima-Marin is now in the custody of Immigrations and Customs Agents who – years ago – had flagged him for deportation. Lima-Marin’s immigration status and possible deportation were not known to the judge who freed him, the state legislators who rallied to his cause, or the public which was implored to support his release.

Lima Marin’s advocates say he was brought to the US as a child fleeing Cuba. Cubans special status in the U.S. meant he wasn’t at risk for deportation, until he became a convicted felon in 2000. ICE flagged him for possible deportation at that time.

The ruling this week by Judge Carlos Samour did not mention Lima-Marin’s immigration status. A court spokesman confirms the Judge didn’t know he was freeing a man into the hands of ICE agents. He found out on Wednesday.

Fascinatingly, none of the politicians in either party who championed Lima-Marin’s release from prison were aware that, as a Cuban immigrant, he could be deported for his crime despite having been granted permission to remain in the country upon entry as a Cuban immigrant.

A bill in support of Lima Marin had broad bi-partisan support at the state legislature. We talked to two Democratic sponsors – Rep. Joe Salazar and Sen. Dominick Moreno – who said they did not know Lima Marin was flagged for deportation – but that wouldn’t have changed their stance. We haven’t heard back from Republican sponsors – Rep. Dave Williams and Sen. Owen Hill.

Late last night, GOP Rep. Dave Williams, who gained nationwide notoriety for his controversial failed legislation to punish so-called “sanctuary cities” this year, did respond to the news:

I’m committed to ensuring that Rene is not sent back to a communist country that is ruled by a cruel and repressive regime.  I will still do everything I can to help reunite Rene with his family while respecting the rule of law.

To which we can only say, thank goodness the guy’s from Cuba! Because otherwise he’d just be a noncitizen who committed a felony–exactly the kind of person President Donald Trump wants to deport. We’ll be very interested in seeing other Republicans who championed Lima-Marin’s freedom speak out–not least since their greater pull with the Republican administration in Washington could prove much more influential on this man’s behalf than Rep. Joe Salazar and a bunch of state house Democrats.

Whatever local Republicans do next, it’s a very straightforward question now whether they would have voted overwhelmingly to support Rene Lima-Marin’s release if they had known ICE would be waiting to pick him up. Freshman Rep. Williams may be willing to quietly munch on his crow, but we have trouble believing that will be a unanimous response from the GOP caucus.

Not to mention the soul searching. There really ought to be some soul searching.

Bennet says Trump has “hard time” distinguishing between reality and “somebody shooting their mouth off on the internet”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado’s Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet took the fight against fake news to the floor of the U.S. Senate yesterday, saying Trump resorts to “talking about ‘fake news’ when he doesn’t like [journalists’] reporting” and that Trump has a “hard time” distinguishing between “something that is real” and “somebody shooting their mouth off on the internet.”

Bennet did not suggest, as I would have done, that Trump sign the Fake News Pledge for elected officials, but it’s great to a politician stand up for journalists, who are almost as unpopular as politicians themselves. Which is exactly why Trump attack them.

Bennet made the fake news remark as part of a blistering attack on Trump, focused on his firing of FBI Director James Comey but touching on Trump’s overall disrespect for American institutions of government.

Watch Bennet here.

And here are Bennet’s comments on journalism and fake news:

Bennet (at 5:30): And [the American people] remember his attacks on the free press as well, when he doesn’t like their reporting and his resorting to talking about ‘fake news’ when he doesn’t like their reporting. Mr. President, I have had to talk to so many high school students. and middle school students in Colorado over the last four or five months about this whole question of fake news and what the importance is of edited content to our society–and again to the rule of law. The importance that middle school students and high school students place on edited content on curated content, their ability to distinguish between something that is science or something that is real, something that is edited versus somebody shooting their mouth off on the internet. The president has a hard time making that distinction as well.

Trump Deputy Gorka on CO talk show: End nuclear deal unilaterally

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

On Sunday, May 7, 2017,  Trump’s Deputy Assistant “Dr* Sebastian Gorka chatted with KVOR radio host Tron Simpson. I listened, and it raised several questions:

  • Why was a top level Presidential appointee slumming on a right wing talk show in Colorado Springs?
  • Is “*Dr.” Gorka still a part of the President’s National Security Council, or isn’t he?
  • Was a right wing Sunday talk radio show really the best time and place to announce that he wanted the US to pull out of an Iranian nuclear deal, even if Iran complied with the terms of the deal?
  • How does this guy even still have a job as deputy assistant to the President? He was supposed to have been kicked out of the White House because of his associations with a Hungarian Nazi group, Vitezi Rend.

For the first twenty minutes of the 5/7 “Weekend Talk with Tron” segment, host Tron Simpson was predictably Tea Party partisan: Obamacare was horrible, the AHCA will liberate us from tax tyranny, we need a Convention of States to amend the Constitution.

At 21:03, Tron introduced Gorka, the on-again, off-again deputy assistant to the President.

Gorka at CPAC panel 2/24/17

Gorka (3rd from l) on CPAC panel 2/24/17. Gorka representing Breitbart News.  Photo by Gage Skidmore, used with Creative Commons permissions.

Then Gorka began to speak. first praising his boss, Donald Trump, as the “man who changed the geopolitical landscape with just one summit.” Tron was talking about Trump’s dinner with Chinese President Xi (complete with beautiful chocolate cake), after which Trump announced that we had bombed Syria. There was no mention of candidate Trump’s previous denunciations of China as a currency manipulator.

Praising that Syria strike, which may have killed 100 people, Gorka said that we had “Eight years of divisiveness, and now we’ve replaced it with Donald J Trump’s decisiveness.”

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Senator Gardner Searches for Meaning in White House Field Trip

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet (far right) boards a bus for a field trip to the White House on Wednesday. Most forgot to pack their lunches.

The U.S. Senate took a field trip to the White House on Wednesday for a “policy briefing” on North Korea that was really just a poorly-disguised photo op for President Trump to convince Americans — on the eve of his first 100 days in office — that he really does do Presidential stuff from time to time. As CNN reports:

It was quite the spectacle.

Nearly every member of the world’s greatest deliberative body piling onto buses to take the mile-long ride to the White House on Wednesday afternoon was the definition of a made-for-TV moment…

…Ostensibly the reason for the trip was a classified briefing on the growing threat posed by North Korea and its quest for nuclear weapons. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led the briefing. (The quartet later briefed House members — on Capitol Hill.)…

…Trump, of course, is far from the only president (or politician) to stage a photo op. It happens all the time. But rarely do you see US senators used as the scenery the way they were on Wednesday.

As with most field trips, it appears that Wednesday’s “Day at the White House” was not much of a learning experience:

“We learned nothing you couldn’t read in the newspaper,” Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley told CNN’s Erin Burnett Wednesday night. “It felt more like a dog-and-pony show to me than anything else,” Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “I guess it has something to do with this 100 days in office.”

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) displays his “serious North Korea face.”

Meanwhile, Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) put on his “Trump Toady” outfit in an effort to spin Wednesday’s spectacle into something more than just political theater (President Trump himself spent just a few minutes at the big meeting). From Peter Roper of the Pueblo Chieftain:

“I came out of the classified briefing with a pragmatic but sober realization that we face a significant threat from North Korea but we are changing course and are going to put more pressure on that regime,” the Republican senator said.

Gardner chairs a Senate subcommittee on East Asia and has become an often-quoted authority on North Korea. [Pols emphasis]

Go back and read those two sentences one more time. Gardner is an “often-quoted authority on North Korea” who chairs a Senate subcommittee on East Asia, but he would like you to believe that Wednesday’s meeting at the White House brought him to the “sober realization” that North Korea is a problem. Denver7 has a separate story citing fellow Senators Marco Rubio and Jeff Flake talking up Gardner as the Senate’s “go-to person” on North Korea.

If Gardner is truly an authority on North Korea, then Wednesday’s meeting at the White House was complete nonsense and a waste of the Senate’s time. Or…Gardner doesn’t really know much about North Korea and needed yesterday’s field trip to learn about the dangers of Kim Jong Un. It’s one or the other here.

What you can do to fight back this week (April 10)

Today, as you probably already know, Neil Gorsuch was sworn in to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Neil Gorsuch is from Colorado, but his record stands in opposition to the values we care about as Coloradans. Gorsuch’s confirmation is a disappointment, and we can only hope that the grave concerns Americans have expressed about Gorsuch’s judgment are proven wrong.

But it could have been even worse. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado faced intense pressure to support Gorsuch. Elites from both parties, local newspapers, and millions of dollars in ads urged Bennet to vote yes on Gorsuch’s confirmation. In the end Bennet voted against filibustering Gorsuch, hoping to defend the Senate against the so-called “nuclear option.” It was a symbolic vote, since Democrats already had the voted they needed to filibuster and Republicans had already decided to use the “nuclear option” to force a vote on Gorsuch’s confirmation.

Despite all the pressure on Bennet to back a fellow Coloradan, he did the right thing and voted against Gorsuch’s confirmation. Bennet’s vote against Gorsuch proved he puts Colorado values before political expediency. On a day that was bound to disappoint, Bennet did something you can be proud of. And it’s the direct result of actions you took to oppose Gorsuch in his home state.

We’ve got to keep the pressure on our lawmakers. Congress has adjourned for a two-week Easter recess. Cory Gardner continues to hide from his constituents, but other representatives have announced public hearings. It’s vital that Coloradans make their voices heard in these two weeks before lawmakers go back to Washington, where Trump’s destructive budget and many other challenges await.

Here are ways for you to fight back for the week of April 10:


Rally Against Child Abuse

You are invited to join our partners, community leaders, advocates, and volunteers as we come together on the steps of the Margaret Carpenter Park Amphitheatre on Monday, April 10th, 2017 from 5:30 – 6:30pm, to declare April Child Abuse Awareness & Prevention Month. Stand up for the children in our community, make their voices heard, and join in envisioning a bright future for every child.

Where: Margaret W Carpenter Park colorado blvd and112th, Thornton
When: Monday, April 10 at 5:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


Parvais & Saul of The Death Penalty Project

The Distinguished Speakers Board is pleased to announce a free community event this Spring: The Death Penalty Project. Parvais Jabbar and Saul Lehrfreund will speak on April 10th at CU Boulder’s Wittemyer Courtroom in the Wolf Law building. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the event will begin at 7:00 p.m. There will be a Q&A portion with the audience following the event.This is a concurrent event with the Conference on World Affairs.

Where: Wolf Law Building CU 2450 Kittredge Loop Rd, Boulder
When: Monday, April 10 at 7:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Trump, Russia and the Panama Papers

Join us Monday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. as Kevin Hall, the national economics correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, talks about his work covering the “Panama Papers,” the huge leak of files detailing how the wealthy use offshore structures to avoid paying taxes in their home countries. McClatchy was the only U.S. newspaper partner during the yearlong, global investigation. Hall’s Panama Papers work has already won awards from George Polk, the Overseas Press Club, SABEW Best In Business, Scripps Howard, Online Journalism Association, Barlett & Steele and the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

Where: The Denver Press Club 1330 Glenarm Pl, Denver
When: Monday, April 10 at 7:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


CO FAMLI Act Rally & Press Conference

Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act (FAMLI) HB17-1307 is introduced! FAMLI Act is significant! The United States is the only industrialized country in the world without paid family leave. We are thrilled that Representative Faith Winter has sponsored the bill again and is leading with a Colorado solution to ensure the well-being and financial stability of working families.

Where: 9to5 Colorado, 1634 Downing St, Unit A, Denver
When: Tuesday, April 11 at 12:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Final Resist Trump Tuesday–Resistance Recess!

The first Resistance Recess in February was a huge success, and constituent activity has been widely credited with building the power to stop Trump and Ryan from taking away our health care. As Trump remains under investigation and as Congress continues to push Trump’s unconstitutional and dangerous agenda, we must make sure that no one allows the passing of time to normalize this president and his harmful policies.

Where: Skyline Park, 1125 17th St., Denver, Colorado
When: Tuesday, April 11 at 12:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Durango Protest Against the Bombing of Syria

No Justice No Peace!

Where: Santa Rita Park, 2700 Main Ave, Durango
When: Tuesday, April 11 at 4:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


The Frontlines Are Everywhere: Grand Jury Resistance Tour

This Spring #NoDAPL water protectors and the Water Protector Anti-Repression Crew will be facilitating trainings across Turtle Island sharing knowledge about resistance to the grand jury convened against water protectors at Standing Rock. We want to build our capacities for strong movement defense against state repression.

Where: Fort Lewis College 1000 Rim Dr, Durango
When: Tuesday, April 11 at 5:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


NO to Right to Discriminate Bill – Call Night

Join us at the One Colorado office to call our supporters about LGBTQ equality. The Colorado Legislature introduced a bill this week that, if it became law, would legally allow discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Senate Bill 17-283 would allow businesses and individuals to claim that any belief they hold gives them permission to exempt themselves from non-discrimination laws they don’t want to follow.

Where: One Colorado 1490 Lafayette St, Ste 304, Denver
When: Tuesday, April 11 at 6:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Trump Tax March Comedy Benefit Show

Strengthening Democracy Colorado and the Denver branch of the Tax March for Donald Trump’s Tax Returns is putting on a special show at the Oriental Theater filled with several of the top comedians around Denver! Joining us for the show are comedians Zac Maas, Christie Buchele, Harry Baber, Conner Roma, and Alan Bromwell!

Where: The Oriental Theater, 4335 W 44th Ave, Denver
When: Tuesday, April 11 at 7:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


ACLU of Colorado – Women & Families Wednesday

Join ACLU of Colorado at the Colorado State Capitol for our Women & Families Wednesday!

Where: Colorado State Capitol, 200 E Colfax, Denver
When: Wednedsay, April 12 at 8:15am

Click here to RSVP.


Testify in Support of HB17-1256–Increasing oil and gas setbacks from schools

HB17-1256 requires oil and gas operations yo be 1000′ from school property line. If it is good enough for marijuana dispensaries, oil and gas should be held to the same standard. The hearing will be in room 357 upon adjournment which should be around 10 am.

Where: Colorado State Capitol, 200 E Colfax, Denver
When: Wednedsay, April 12 at 10:00am

Click here to RSVP.


Religious Exemptions In Disguise Press Conference & Hearing

This Wednesday, April 12th, the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee of the Colorado Senate will consider a Right to Discriminate bill that would let individuals and businesses claim ANY of their personal beliefs — including religious beliefs — allow them to refuse to follow non-discrimination laws they don’t like. Join us for a press conference in the West Foyer of the Colorado State Capitol at 12:20 p.m. with a coalition of Colorado business owners, faith leaders, and community groups.

Where: Colorado State Capitol, 200 E Colfax, Denver
When: Wednedsay, April 12 at 12:20pm

Click here to RSVP.


Rep. Mike Coffman Townhall (CO-06)

Right-wing Rep. Mike Coffman is holding a town hall meeting to discuss “all of the critical issues facing our community, state, and nation.” This event is open to residents of Coffman’s district only and registration is required.

Where: Education Building 2 South, CU Anschutz Campus
When: Wednesday, April 12 doors open at 5:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


March for President Donald Trump’s Tax Returns

President Donald Trump’s team has gone back and forth over whether or not they will be releasing his taxes, and no date has been set in the event that they are. We have one demand: President Donald Trump will release his tax returns.

Where: Denver’s Civic Center Park, 101 W 14th Ave, Denver
When: Saturday, April 15 at 10:00am

Click here to RSVP.


Thanks again for everything you are doing to fight back against President Trump and the far right here in Colorado and in Washington. The hard fact is that elections matter, and we’re not going to win every battle. But every time we respond to the latest bad news, and show the world that Trump does not speak for all of us, that’s a small victory we can build on.

America will outlast Donald Trump and emerge stronger. You are the reason why.

BREAKING: Bennet Will Vote No On Gorsuch’s Confirmation

UPDATE: The Hill:

Bennet initially opposed a Democratic filibuster of Gorsuch’s nomination, siding with Republicans in a failed vote to end debate. After Republicans changed the rules and lowered the procedural threshold from 60 votes to 51, he voted against Gorsuch.

Bennet has blamed both parties for the stalemate and added on Thursday that the decision to go “nuclear” does “lasting damage” to the Supreme Court…

With Bennet’s opposition, 45 senators are expected to vote against Gorsuch’s confirmation. Only Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) — who are each up for reelection in red states in 2018 — are expected to join Republicans in their support.

—–

Sen. Michael Bennet (D)

Sen. Michael Bennet’s long-awaited statement just released moments ago via the Colorado Independent, Colorado’s senior U.S. Senator will be voting against the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court:

Today’s changes to the Senate’s rules have done lasting damage to the Supreme Court and our process for approving nominees. With these changes, justices may now be confirmed with the narrowest partisan majority. Allowing the judiciary to become a pure extension of our partisan politics is precisely the outcome our Founders feared. Moving forward, lifetime appointments to our highest court could become just another political exercise.

We cannot ignore this new reality, and I am forced to consider President Trump’s current nominee – and all future nominees – in that context.

I am proud Judge Gorsuch is from Colorado. He is a qualified judge who deserves an up-or-down vote. That is the tradition of the Senate, and it is why I opposed a filibuster before the rule change.

Judge Gorsuch is a very conservative judge and not one that I would have chosen. For the reasons I made in my floor speech, I had concerns about his approach to the law. Those concerns grow even more significant as we confront the reality that President Trump may have several more opportunities to transform the Court with a partisan majority.

For all these reasons, I will vote no on the nomination.

Bennet’s decision to oppose Gorsuch’s nomination puts an end to weeks of pressure from both sides, and should go a long way to restoring trust in Bennet among the Colorado Democratic base. Again, Democrats had the votes needed to mount the now-crushed filibuster of Gorsuch without Bennet, which left Bennet free to argue for the preservation of the Senate’s deliberative traditions. That argument was unsuccessful, but now Bennet can claim the high ground as he casts his vote against Gorsuch on the merits.

And yes, barring something no one expects at this point Neil Gorsuch will now be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was always really a question of how that would happen, not if, and what kind of resistance would be possible on the way to that inevitability. We’d say opponents acquitted themselves as well as they possibly could under bleak circumstances.

As of tomorrow afternoon, it’s all over–except some shouting, and of course decades of Gorsuch on the court.