A baker, who discriminated against a gay couple, is very happy that U.S. Supreme Court will hear his case, lawyer says

(What Jesus would do? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Since 2012, conservative talk-radio hosts and lawmakers in Colorado have wrapped their loving arms around a baker who refused to sell a wedding cake to a gay couple.

A federal appeals court, as well as a string of Colorado courts, have found Masterpiece Cakeshop’s action in violation of  Colorado’s public accommodations law, which bars discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to hear the Masterpiece case, and the baker’s Colorado lawyer, Nicole Martin, said on KNUS 710-AM Monday that she “did a little jig” when she heard the news.

Asked by host Dan Caplis how the baker, Jack Phillips, reacted, Martin said, “He was very happy and I think humbled, and he always had faith in God’s plan. And that showed. But, yes, it is a profound moment for him, as you could imagine.”

“I think we have an excellent shot at winning,” said Martin on the radio. “I do.  Even with Kennedy, we feel that we will be vindicated. And, you know, at the end of the day, it is compelling that Jack will finally have his day in court.  When you start  in an administrative body, especially when you’re dealing with complex issues of First Amendment jurisprudence and Free Exercise jurisprudence, and you’re starting in a local Colorado administrative court, it is very hard to feel like you ever had your real day in court. It is very hard to feel that you ever had actual due process. So, this is an important vindication, that the Colorado Supreme Court, I think,  passed up a great opportunity. This is an important vindication that these issues need to be decided by judges that have the wisdom, experience, and expertise to decide these types of cases.”

In a news release Monday, a coalition of progressive groups, called Freedom for All Americans, spoke out against the Masterpiece baker’s discriminatory actions.

“As people of faith from many traditions, we are grounded in a common teaching, love your neighbor as you love yourself,” said Amanda Henderson, Executive Director, Interfaith Alliance of Colorado. “In our communities and in our country, all people should have the right to be treated equally under the law, and served in any establishment no matter who they are, what they believe, or who they love.”

Laura “Pinky” Reinsch, Political Director at One Colorado, added: “All hardworking people, including those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer, should be treated fairly and equally under the law. When they walk into a business that’s open to the public, they should be treated like anyone else and not be discriminated against. Let’s be clear, the Masterpiece Cakeshop case is about a business turning customers away simply because they were gay, which violates longstanding Colorado law.”

In Colorado, in the wake of the Masterpiece controversy, GOP lawmakers tried repeatedly to pass legislation allowing discrimination against gays and others.

(more…)

CBO: Senate Trumpcare Bill Reduces Insured By 22 Million

UPDATE: 

—–

New York Times with the bad news for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Cory Gardner, and maybe you:

The Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act would increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026, a figure that is only slightly lower than the 23 million more uninsured that the House version would create, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Monday.

Next year, 15 million more people would be uninsured compared with current law, the budget office said.

The legislation would decrease federal deficits by a total of $321 billion over a decade, the budget office said.

The release of the budget office’s analysis comes as a number of reluctant Republican senators weigh whether to support the health bill, which the majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, wants approved before a planned recess for the Fourth of July…

Before the budget office released its report on Monday, the American Medical Association officially announced its opposition to the bill, and the National Governors Association urged the Senate to slow down.

Now, the budget office’s findings will give fodder to Democrats who were already assailing the bill as cruel. It could give pause to some Republican senators who have been mulling whether to support the bill — or it could give them an additional reason to come out against the bill altogether.

Savoring every morsel of disaster.

And for all that, as the Washington Post reports, the reality might be even worse:

For the Senate bill, the CBO’s estimates of insurance coverage and federal spending are influenced by the fact that its forecast covers a 10-year window and the legislation’s most profound changes for the nation’s health-care system are tilted toward the latter part of that period.

The bill would, for instance, leave in place the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid through 2020. After that, it would begin a three-year phaseout of the federal money that under the ACA has paid almost the entire cost of adding 11 million Americans to the program’s rolls in 31 states…

Over the weekend, the senior Democrat on the Senate subcommittee that oversees the CBO said in a tweet that he had asked the budget office to estimate the Senate bill’s effect on insurance coverage over a longer time horizon. “GOP is hiding the worst Medicaid cuts in years 11, 12, 13 and hoping CBO stays quiet,” wrote Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) [Pols emphasis]

Regardless of any clever accounting that might have been attempted to reduce the visibility of the pain, it’s clear now that the Senate’s Obamacare repeal legislation is no more defensible than the House’s bill. With only a small fraction more Americans protected, there’s little worry now about Republicans forcing us to debate between the House’s “worse” measure and the Senate’s “bad” one–they’re both really bad. That means the comparisons will be to existing law, meaning the status quo under the Affordable Care Act. The possibility that Senate Republicans might have gained leverage with a bill substantially less harmful than the House’s was one of the few real opportunities to break out of the present stalemate, but that is not what happened.

What we have now is legislation that almost certainly cannot pass the Senate. In his interview last week with Denver7 in which he admitted not being as involved in the drafting as we were led to believe, Sen. Cory Gardner laid out several conditions that the then-forthcoming bill would have to meet to gain his support: that the legislation reduce the cost of insurance, create “stability in the insurance markets,” and make Medicaid “sustainable.” It’s very difficult to argue that reducing the number of insured patients by tens of millions will bring “stability” to the market. As for making Medicaid “sustainable?” Unless that represents an abandonment of Gardner’s previous stated desire to protect Medicaid expansion patients, this bill won’t meet that test either.

The CBO’s estimate is bad enough that it could well doom this legislation before a vote even takes place, much like the CBO’s estimate of the first House bill forced Speaker Paul Ryan to pull that bill without a vote. At this point, the most politically face-saving outcome for Gardner would be for the bill to be pulled, which would leave Gardner in a position to say whatever he wants to say.

Otherwise, Gardner must take a vote that either damages GOP Senators he must defend next year as head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, or damages Gardner personally. Either way, today’s news just underscores the folly of this whole effort. Ending the GOP’s seven-year campaign to destroy the Affordable Care Act would have negative long-term consequences for Gardner, since he has invested disproportionate political capital into vilifying the law.

But at this point, keeping his promise could be Gardner’s worst choice.

Get More Smarter on Monday (June 26)

If you’re looking to hire some interns for the summer, please don’t do this. 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…

► Today is another big day in the healthcare policy debate. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected to announce the results of its examination of the Republican Senate healthcare bill, also known as “The Better Care Reconciliation Act.” The Washington Post offers a good primer on what to look for in the CBO announcement.

The CBO score is expected to show, once again, that Republicans are dealing with a math problem — and not a messaging problem — when it comes to healthcare discussions. The looming report is one of many reasons why many Senate Republicans think the healthcare bill won’t be able to advance much further before next week’s July 4th recess.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) spent the weekend at a conservative retreat in Colorado Springs hosted by the infamous Koch Brothers. The big message out of the weekend discussions at the Broadmoor Resort and Hotel centered around concerns from major right-wing donors that the Senate healthcare legislation doesn’t kill enough Americans isn’t more aggressive about eradicating Medicaid. Predictably, Gardner did not find time to talk to a reporter from the Denver Post about the Senate healthcare bill.

 

President Trump’s Muslim travel ban earned its first non-loss from the Judicial Branch. As the New York Times explains:

The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would decide whether President Trump’s revised travel ban was lawful, setting the stage for a major decision on the scope of presidential power.

Mr. Trump’s revised executive order, issued in March, limited travel from six mostly Muslim countries for 90 days and suspended the nation’s refugee program for 120 days. The time was needed, the order said, to address gaps in the government’s screening and vetting procedures.

Two federal appeals courts have blocked critical parts of the order.

The administration had asked that the lower court ruling be stayed while the case moved forward. The court granted part of that request in its unsigned opinion.

This is indeed as confusing as it soundsPresident Trump, meanwhile, is declaring victory.

 

► Elsewhere in Supreme Court news, the case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a gay wedding will finally be heard this fall. From the Denver Post:

The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that it would review the case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple because of his beliefs — a legal fight with high stakes for both religious activists and civil-rights advocates.

For months, the high court has vacillated on whether it would hear the appeal of Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, whose refusal of service to Charlie Craig and David Mullins was rejected by the Colorado Court of Appeals and the state’s Civil Rights Commission.

There’s been one significant change to the Supreme Court, however, since the case first landed on its steps — the addition of Justice Neil Gorsuch, a native Coloradan who became its ninth member this spring after his nomination by President Donald Trump.

Gorsuch!

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Obamacare Replacement Legislation Aims to Block 30,000 in CO from Accessing Planned Parenthood Clinics

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) President Vicki Cowart announced figures last week that the Senate’s Obamacare-replacement bill would “block more than 30,000 women, men and young people in the Rocky Mountain region alone from accessing the trusted reproductive health care they rely on.”

“We will not stand by while politicians play these types of political games with the health care and livelihood of more than one third our patients,” said Cowart.

In a move long backed by anti-abortion groups, the Senate bill would cut federal funds that account for about 40 percent of Planned Parenthood’s budget.

“The expectations of the pro-life movement have been very clear: The health care bill must not indefinitely subsidize abortion and must redirect abortion giant Planned Parenthood’s taxpayer funding to community health centers,” Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List, and Tony Perkins, president of the right-wing Family Research Council, said in a statement, quoted by the New York Times.

Beginning around the time the House passed its Obamacare replacement legislation in May, PPRM has enlisted 800 new Planned Parenthood activists, organized monthly events, and targeted U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner with letters and petitions demanding that he stop the GOP Obamacare-replacement bill.

The Planned Parenthood defunding effort may prove to unwind the Republican legislation, as GOP Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have strongly objected to it. If three GOP Senators vote against the health care bill, it would lose, as Senate Democrats unanimously oppose it.

Senate rules may block the defunding effort, according to PPRM and some political observers.

Monday Open Thread

“If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.”

–Charles Darwin

Cory Gardner: Stuck Between The Kochs and a Hard Place

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

As the Denver Post’s John Frank reports from the swanky Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, this weekend playing host to a convention of top donors to the Koch Brothers’ network of powerful conservative advocacy organizations–where Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, if the latest reports are true, faced a major backlash from conservative funders over Gardner’s own stated desire that the health-reform repeal legislation now being considered by the Senate protect the newly-insured population in Medicaid expansion states.

Surely he did, right? Right?

The leaders of the conservative Koch network on Saturday blasted the latest health plan alternative drafted by the Republican-led U.S. Senate, saying it doesn’t go far enough to dismantle President Obama’s health-care law.

“This Senate bill needs to get better,” said Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity, the network’s political arm. “It has to get better.”

…The Koch forces are particularly concerned that the bill isn’t conservative enough and it doesn’t do more to shrink the size of Medicaid, the government program that provides health care coverage to low-income adults, children and disabled people. [Pols emphasis]

Since the release of the U.S. Senate’s draft health care legislation on Thursday, several Republican Senators have come out publicly against the bill. Critically, however, they have not done so for the same reasons. Hard-line right wing Senators like Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, like the Koch Brothers and their allies, think the bill doesn’t go far enough. On the other hand, Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada opposes the legislation because it will throw too many Americans off the coverage rolls–especially, like Colorado, in his own Medicaid expansion state.

In an interview with reporters, Phillips said the Senate bill represents only a “slight nip and tuck.” But Gardner has expressed concerns the bill curtails Medicaid’s expansion [and] moves too fast. He was not available for an interview at the event. [Pols emphasis]

Because Sen. Gardner is not commenting on what discussions he is having at the Broadmoor this weekend about the repeal of Obamacare and with whom, we’re left as news consumers to speculate. And for honest debate’s sake we have to allow for the possibility that Gardner is running around the Broadmoor this weekend, begging the wealthiest conservative donors in America to reconsider their consensus that this bill doesn’t cut Medicaid enough. That instead of cutting off the millions who have gained access to care under the Affordable Care Act Gardner has vowed to repeal for going on seven years, we should protect those patients.

But folks, how likely is that, really? And if Gardner is not confronting the hard-right consensus that this bill does not go far enough to dismantle the Medicaid expansion, at this gathering where Republican politicos kiss the rings of their biggest donors, what exactly is he doing there?

It’s untenable. When we say Gardner’s two-faced politics are teetering on the brink of destruction, this is why.

The moment of truth is almost here.

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.

(more…)

Weekend Open Thread

“The ambition and focus that propel you to success can also be your downfall.”

–Judy Smith

This is a Math Problem, not a Message Problem

Would I still be smiling like this if I really wanted to take away your healthcare?

Sally has two apples. Mitch comes along and takes both of those apples. How many apples does Sally have now?

The answer, obviously, is none. Sally has no apples. This is not a complicated story problem.

But, wait! Suppose that Mitch informs Sally that he is only implementing an “apple reallocation strategy” in relieving her of her two apples. Now, how many apples does Sally have after this “reallocation?”

Yup. Still no apples.

You can probably see where we’re going with this. You could tell Sally that her apples have been “reallocated.” You could tell Sally that her apples were stolen by the Russians. You could take Sally’s apples and offer no explanation whatsoever. However you go about removing Sally from her apples, the result is the same: Sally once had apples, but now she has none.

Republicans have been getting positively blistered by media outlets across the country ever since Senate leaders introduced their healthcare legislation on Thursday. Senate leaders are calling it “The Better Care Reconciliation Act” (BCRA) and in describing the different facets of the legislation, they are employing numerous adjectives and phrases to make their plan sound less horrible than it really is.

The Senate healthcare proposal is a breathtakingly mean-spirited and awful piece of legislation that would be devastating to any American who is not rich and/or young and healthy. Poll after poll shows that Americans disapprove mightily of the central tenets of BCRA. Republicans are being deluged with protests, letters, and phone calls from people who are legitimately scared of the harm that this proposed legislation would cause.

Republicans seem to understand that their healthcare proposal is not being well-received, yet they appear completely oblivious as to the reasons why. In fact, when you listen to Republicans such as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner discuss the bill, you get the distinct impression that they think they are merely facing a “messaging problem” with their healthcare proposal.

Take a look at this Thursday story from Denver7:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said Thursday that he was taking his first look at the Senate’s version of the replacement for the Affordable Care Act, which he helped craft, and that the bill “deserves serious debate, not knee-jerk reaction.”…

…He said he was “beginning to carefully review” the bill and to look at ways to “rescue” Colorado from what he called the “negative impacts” the Affordable Care Act across the U.S.

Senator Gardner is a member of the “working group” that was assigned to craft the Senate healthcare legislation. Gardner would like you to believe, however, that he hadn’t seen any text of the proposed legislation until it was released to the public on Thursday. Gardner has acknowledged being a member of the healthcare “working group,” and unless he participated in these discussions while wearing a blindfold, it is inconceivable that the language was a complete surprise to the Yuma Senator.

You can see how individual Senators such as Gardner are trying to spin, spin, spin their way out of this problem. As the Washington Post writes on Friday, this is also the strategy for the bill as a whole:

Republicans have gone to enormous lengths to obscure the plan’s profoundly regressive features. They have endlessly told the lie that no one will be worse off (because everyone will have “access” to affordable coverage), and they’ve developed numerous cleverly designed talking points designed to create the impression that, by slowly phasing in the loss of coverage for millions over time, this will create a painless transition to … well, to a blissful state in which everyone, again, has “access” to affordable coverage. Among these: “Smooth glide path.” “Rescue mission.” “Bridge to better health care.” “Soft landing.”

But it’s important to understand that this scam has multiple layers. The slow phase in isn’t merely about creating the impression of a painless transition. It’s also about deferring accountability. This is particularly the case with the Senate version of the bill, which must appear softer than the House bill in order to get the support of key Republican moderates who represent states with large Medicaid expansion populations.

Approximately 1 in 5 Americans rely on Medicaid for healthcare. If the current Senate bill ultimately goes into effect, literally millions of people will lose healthcare. Republicans are arguing over how long of a period they should stretch out the death of Medicaid – they call it a “transition period” – but the end result is that many people who have healthcare coverage today will not have it at some point in the near future.

Republicans are desperately trying to come up with new ideas to explain their Medicaid cuts as a “bridge” to something else, but there’s only one thing on the other side of that abyss: Fewer people with health care. If you had something before – like, say, apples – and you don’t have it later, it can be described as a “reduction” or a “cut” or whatever other phrase tickles your fancy. But it doesn’t make any difference what phrase you employ, because no words will change the math here.

The GOP isn’t dealing with a “message problem;” they are dealing with a “people are going to die so that we can cut taxes for the wealthy” problem. If you make life worse for most Americans, they aren’t going to console themselves in your boast that you repealed Obamacare.

As the headline of that Washington Post story referenced earlier states, this is “How Trump and Republicans may get away with hurting millions of people.”

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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Colorado Week in Review: 6/23/17

Your deliberately oversimplified glance at what happened in Colorado this week.

Gardner Desperate To Control Trumpcare Damage

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

The past few days leading up to the formal release yesterday of the U.S. Senate’s so-called Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, the latest version of long-sought legislation to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 health care overhaul the Affordable Care Act, have been a major disaster politically both for the Republican Party generally and the highest-ranking Republican in Colorado, Sen. Cory Gardner.

Gardner was once considered one of the prime movers in a select panel of Republican Senators drafting that chamber’s version of an Obamacare repeal after the House’s much-celebrated bill was declared DOA owing to its…well, for lack of a better term, its casualty count. The failure of Republicans to craft legislation to repeal Obamacare without doing tremendous harm to the millions who have directly benefitted from the law is a growing political nightmare for Gardner, who campaigned heavily on the whole slate of factually-dubious arguments against Obamacare that were popular during the Tea Party movement of 2009-2010.

Yesterday, as Denver7’s Blair Miller reports, the bad news continued to rain down on Gardner:

Gardner told Denver7 Wednesday he hadn’t seen a text version of the bill despite being one of a handful of Republicans working in small groups to craft the bill. Senate Republicans wrote their own bill after the House of Representatives passed its version, the American Health Care Act, in early May…

Gardner slammed those who he said were jumping to conclusions about the bill without fully analyzing it.

“It’s frustrating that instead of actually reviewing the legislative text some have decided to immediately oppose the bill before it was even introduced,” Gardner told Denver7 in a statement. “This deserves serious debate, not knee-jerk reaction.” [Pols emphasis]

First of all, after the first six months of Donald Trump’s presidency have been dominated by debate over the repeal of Obamacare, it’s absurd to claim that any reaction to this latest bill is “knee-jerk.” Everyone following this debate understands what Republicans are working toward here, and the overwhelming public opposition to basically every part of this repeal process is not going to be quelled by the relatively minor differences from one bill to another.

Somewhere in the midst of yesterday’s busy news cycle, it appears Team Gardner realized that “knee-jerk reaction” statement was itself not very well thought out. We quoted yesterday from a Denver Post story by reporter Mark Matthews, which frankly questioned Gardner’s complaints in the context of his purported leadership role in the drafting effort. Sometime yesterday afternoon, the story we quoted from was completely removed from the Denver Post’s website, and replaced with a new story at the same URL that contains none of the previous story’s context. Gardner’s “knee-jerk reaction” quote is nowhere to be found in the new story, in which Gardner is now quoted as wanting to slow down the process–and implying without any real confirmation from Gardner that he might oppose the bill he allegedly helped create.

What happened here, you ask? It’s pretty obvious, really, and we want to be clear that we’re not trying to beat up Matthews in calling this out. In the business of politics and political journalism in particular, a common tactic is known as “working the refs”–aggressively either courting or lambasting journalists as needed to cast a story in the most favorable frame possible. Matthews’ original version, which we have reprinted in its entirety after the jump for educational purposes, clearly did not please Gardner or his aides, and they took action to get it replaced.

Prevailing upon a reporter to completely rewrite a critical story into a much less critical one, especially after thousands of people saw the original, to us demonstrates clearly how nervous Gardner and his team is over this legislation. Gardner’s swiftly-eroding approval in his home state is most certainly weighing heavily on his mind, even with re-election still a few years away. As the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), Gardner can also see the damage this is doing to candidates he has to get re-elected next year. This is not just a needle has has to thread for himself, but for his whole party. We’ll never know if Team Gardner was nice to Matthews about it, but to the news-consuming public, that’s not what matters.

The only thing that matters is what they read in the paper today. The original story in question follows.

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Friday Open Thread

“The great proof of madness is the disproportion of one’s designs to one’s means.”

–Napoleon Bonaparte

Don’t Go Away Mad, Eric Nelson, Just Go Away

Eric Nelson impersonating a U.S. Air Force major in an undated photo.

The Aurora Sentinel’s Ramsey Scott updates us on the…well, not exactly sad, more like pathetic story of Aurora Public Schools board member Eric Nelson–who was exposed last year as a serial fabricator of virtually all the details of his background, from fake degrees to appearing in a fake U.S. Air Force major’s uniform:

Publicly discredited APS board member Eric Nelson is pondering another run for school board and said this week he never lied about or embellished his resume — an issue that resulted in his censure by his fellow board members last year and calls for his resignation among school and Democratic Party officials.

A 2016 investigation commissioned by Aurora Public Schools and Superintendent Rico Munn last year revealed Nelson’s resume was full of inaccurate claims. The report found Nelson fabricated all four educational degrees he claimed on his biography. He represented himself as a decorated officer in the Air Force, but the inquiry revealed he was only an enlistee for several weeks. The APS investigation and stories by The Aurora Sentinel and other Denver media also revealed that Nelson misrepresented his involvement with various businesses and organizations.

One year after the scandal, Nelson remains on the board, attends community events as a school board member and is pondering running for re-election. He has since changed his resume credentials, still maintaining a hefty list of academic honors.

According to the Sentinel, Nelson’s updated academic history consists of “degrees” from non-accredited theological colleges–including one that gives out “Life Experience Degrees” to anyone who can pony up $100. That’s a small step up from the crude Photoshopped fakeries Nelson tried to pass off on reporters and his colleagues on the Aurora school board last year, but needless to say it’s hard to call Nelson any kind of educational role model. Nelson’s fake history came to light last year after he filed to run as a Democrat in House District 42. Following those revelations Nelson lost that primary, but can’t be removed from the APS board without a vote–and nobody has seen fit to invest the money in a recall campaign.

The fact that Nelson remains on the Aurora school board after being found to be such a complete fraud brings discredit on that institution. But as we all learned in Jefferson County in 2015, even school board recalls are an incredibly expensive and fraught process. In this case, the judgment seems to have been that Nelson simply wasn’t worth the effort.

If Nelson does run for re-election, and we think he may just be bullheaded enough to try, hopefully the community will end this embarrassment once and for all.