Thursday Open Thread

Our server was under a brute-force attack this morning, says our web host. They have taken countermeasures.

We blame Russia until further notice.

Attorney General Coffman Opposes Open Records Reform

Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

As the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition reports via the Colorado Independent, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s office is coming out against proposed legislation for 2017 that would streamline compliance with the Colorado Open Records Act–removing some bottlenecks that have cropped up that have allowed some state agencies to deny otherwise reasonable records requests:

After months of work by stakeholders, proposed 2017 legislation is taking shape that would modernize the Colorado Open Records Act and provide an alternative to litigation for resolving CORA disputes.

Despite the progress, however, a formidable roadblock surfaced Friday when the Colorado Attorney General’s office announced that it will not support the most recent bill draft.

“We think the bill … creates more problems than it cures” and will make CORA “more complicated and more vague,” Chief Deputy AG David Blake wrote in a statement read aloud during a meeting of the CORA Working Group…

The 2017 proposal also would establish a three-year trial period for resolving open-records disputes through mediation. In Colorado, unlike in many other states, going to court is now the only legal remedy afforded records requesters who believe that a government or agency has violated the open-records law.

One problem that individuals filing CORA requests have discovered is often data that is stored in a searchable format, such as a database, is rendered into paper printouts or other non-searchable formats for delivery–which makes data that could be easily sorted through with a database far more difficult to work with. It’s even been alleged anecdotally from time to time that CORA requests are deliberately being stymied in this manner. Other problems have arisen from data that includes confidential information, which the new bill would clarify can be redacted.

Improving the state’s responsiveness to open records requests has been a longstanding goal of information-freedom watchdogs, and this proposal only scratches the surface of what many consider to be a system riddled with loopholes–and sometimes just plain noncompliance by government entities who know there isn’t oversight to keep them honest. There is a general consensus that Colorado’s open records law is broken as it stands today, and must be modernized to stop technological changes from being excuses for noncompliance.

With all of that in mind, why would AG Coffman’s office oppose this bill to update CORA hammered out by stakeholders? Her office wasn’t specific in their statement, only claiming the bill “creates more problems than it cures.”

Maybe that’s true–or maybe AG Coffman’s office is just another “government entity” who likes the broken status quo.

Adele Arakawa Rails Against Fake News

Longtime 9NEWS anchor Adele Arakawa announced yesterday that she will be retiring in 2017 after over four decades in the business, and if you haven’t seen her commentary yesterday about “fake news” and rumors about her departure from the station, it’s worth watching:

Recently, there’s been a lot of attention put on “Fake News”.

It’s ugly, insidious and undermines the very values I’ve worked hard to exemplify for my 40 plus years in this business.

It’s bad for elections, too.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (December 7)

It’s colder than a penguin’s bellybutton* outside. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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.

*This statement should not be considered an endorsement or a criticism of penguin bellybuttons, if indeed penguins have bellybuttons. 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► President-elect Donald Trump continues to arrange his cabinet in advance of taking office next month. Trump has selected retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly to serve as head of the Department of Homeland Security. Trump also wants Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad for U.S. Ambassador to China. As the Washington Post explains, Branstad has a homie in China:

Branstad has extensive ties to China and a personal friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping that dates back decades. If his nomination goes through, the move could help reassure China’s leadership that Trump understands the importance of healthy relations with Beijing…

…China’s Foreign Ministry did not confirm the report, but reacted warmly.

“First of all, I would like to say that Mr. Branstad is an old friend of the Chinese people and we welcome him to play a greater role in promoting Sino-U.S. relations,” spokesman Lu Kang told a regular news conference.

 

► President-elect Donald Trump’s Twitter Account, which may or may not be making autonomous decisions about the free world, totally f’ed up Boeing’s stock on Tuesday with a fact-free tirade about the price of the new Air Force One upgrades.

 

► President Obama and millions of Americans are recognizing today the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. From CNN:

The President noted that he would be making a historic visit to the USS Arizona Memorial later this month with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“As a testament that even the most bitter of adversaries can become the closest of allies, I look forward to visiting the USS Arizona Memorial later this month along with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,” he said. “This historic visit will stand as a tribute to the power of reconciliation and to the truth that the United States and Japan — bound by an alliance unimaginable 75 years ago—will continue to work hand-in-hand for a more peaceful and secure world.”

Abe is the first Japanese leader to visit the site since the end of World War II.

Just about every Colorado news outlet is covering local angles on the 75th anniversary of the attack.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Secretary of State Wayne Williams Rips “Faithless Electors”

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports on a lawsuit filed by two Colorado members of the Electoral College, both Democrats, seeking to switch their votes to a Republican candidate other than Donald Trump in a last-ditch bid to deny Trump the presidency:

Two of Colorado’s nine national electors are taking Colorado to federal court today, challenging a law that requires them to cast their Electoral College votes for Hillary Clinton since she won the state.

The electors, both Democrats, are former state Sen. Polly Baca and Colorado Springs math teacher Bob Nemanich.

In the lawsuit, the first of its kind, according to Electoral College experts, the electors argue the U.S. Constitution allows them to vote their conscience instead of being bound by a decades-old state statute to vote for the candidate who won the state— Clinton, in this case. All 538 national electors will cast their official votes for president in their respective state capitols on Dec. 19.

Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams fired back with a statement that could be the most strongly-worded of his political career:

Instead of honoring the will of the Coloradans who voted for them, these two faithless electors seek to conspire with electors from other states to elect a president who did not receive a single vote in November. Indeed, the very Federalist 68 they cite cautions us that “every practical obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption.” Yet that is exactly what the electors here have succumbed to: cabal, intrigue and corruption. The court should reject this illegal conspiracy.

Make no mistake, this is not some noble effort to fight some unjust or unconstitutional law; rather, this is an arrogant attempt by two faithless electors to elevate their personal desires over the entire will of the people of Colorado. And in so doing, they seek to violate Colorado law and their own pledges. The very notion of two Colorado electors ignoring Colorado’s popular vote in an effort to sell their vote to electors in other states is odious to everything we hold dear about the right to vote. It is this type of evil that President Franklin Roosevelt warned us about when he cautioned that voters — not elected officials such as these faithless electors — are “the ultimate rulers of our democracy.”

Ouch! Do you think he’s mad?

It’s very unlikely that this attempt will succeed of course–and given the ugly potential consequences of the Electoral College upending the will of the voters in this manner, we’d say that most Americans, even the majority of Americans who voted against Trump, would not want this if they thought it through. A more legitimate method of denying Trump his Electoral College victory is through the recounts proceeding in several “Rust Belt” states, and that effort does not appear to be headed for success either.

With that said, one way this suit could be impactful to future events is to further delegitimize the Electoral College system in general, exposing another defect in a system widely criticized after a second Republican won the presidency while losing the popular vote. In Trump’s case, we’re talking about losing by millions of votes, and causing more Americans to question the process than ever before.

Bottom line: when both sides game the system, one to win and the other to try to stop them, maybe it’s the system that’s the problem.

Boeing Survives Trump Twitter Onslaught–This Time

UPDATE: MarketWatch tallies the damage:

—–

President-elect Donald Trump.

President-elect Donald Trump.

President-elect Donald Trump’s Twitter account, which may or may not be making autonomous decisions about the fate of the free world at this point, struck again early this morning with an outburst directed at one of America’s most important worldwide export businesses, aircraft manufacturer Boeing:

Donald Trump on Tuesday called for the cancellation of a Defense Department contract with Boeing to build the next generation of presidential aircraft, decrying the deal as too expensive.

“Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!” the president-elect wrote on Twitter.

As it turns out, Trump’s Twitter tirade against Boeing came in response to comments from the CEO of the company that were apparently not supportive enough of the incoming President’s trade policies:

Trump’s tweet came just 22 minutes after the Chicago Tribune published comments by Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who said he worried that Trump’s promises of a more protectionist trade policy could hurt his company, which does robust business with China. Muilenburg told the Tribune that he would urge the president-elect to take a warmer stance toward the kinds of trade deals he railed against on the campaign trail, warning, “If we do not lead when it comes to writing these rules, our competitors will write them for us.”

Per usual, nobody knows where Trump got these numbers from, as Yahoo! News’ Michael Walsh reports:

It’s not clear how Trump, who frequently tweets exaggerated or baseless claims, arrived at that number. Reuters, citing budget documents, reported that the “budgeted costs for the Air Force One replacement program are $2.87 billion for the fiscal years 2015 through 2021.”

The aircraft manufacturing company issued a statement clarifying that it is currently under contract for $170 million to determine the capabilities of the new aircraft.

But who cares? The message Trump wanted to send was sent.

Boeing stock slumped Tuesday morning in the wake of the president-elect’s remark, [Pols emphasis] but rebounded somewhat as the morning progressed.

Yes, Boeing’s stock price rebounded once the market realized Trump’s attacks were baseless, but Trump’s ability to hurt Boeing’s market valuation just by Tweeting about them is a warning that very few CEOs in America will miss. The nexus of President-elect Trump’s celebrity influence and the real power he is about to have as President is producing something new in our politics.

And if Trump is going to use it to silence his critics, it’s both new and scary.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (December 6)

Get More SmarterToday is Colorado Gives Day; if you have an email account, you’re probably well aware of this already. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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…

► You’d have better luck finding someone who actually likes fruit cake than hearing that Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is actually being asked substantive questions about…well, about anything.

 

► Serving on President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team may be one of the more pointless endeavors in Washington D.C. As Politico reports:

While Donald Trump dines on frog legs with Mitt Romney and meets with a parade of lawmakers and governors in his gold-plated Midtown skyscraper, most of his transition staff are hunkered down in Washington, D.C., writing detailed governing plans for his first 100 days.

But so far, Trump and his inner circle have largely ignored those plans as they focus on top appointments and lean on the advice of politicians, CEOs and donors, rather than on their transition staff, say sources close to the transition.

The president-elect, meanwhile, has been more likely to set policy on Twitter than through consultation with his D.C. advisers.

“The senior people are all focused on Cabinet appointments,” said a Republican official involved in past transitions. “I wonder how much time, attention and decision-making is being allocated to the rest of the government. … It is not a recipe for smooth governance.”

In a separate story for PoliticoAlex Isenstadt writes that President-elect Twitterer is gradually taking over the Republican Party.

 

► The 2018 race for Governor will be the marquee event on Colorado’s political calendar for the next two years, and the scuttlebutt has already begun to, uh, scuttle.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Tuesday Open Thread

“If you leave the smallest corner of your head vacant for a moment, other people’s opinions will rush in from all quarters.”

–George Bernard Shaw

Democratic ’18 Guv Race a Two-Plus Affair (For Now)

Ken Salazar, Ed Perlmutter.

Ken Salazar, Ed Perlmutter.

Veteran political reporter Peter Marcus opens some speculation about the 2018 Colorado gubernatorial race over at Colorado Politics, and there are a couple of points worth reinforcing even at this early stage of the game:

Ken Salazar and his inner-circle have been quiet about what the San Luis Valley Democrat’s intentions are, though many say he is first considering the impact a run would have on his family. Salazar has already had a long career in politics, so he might just want to retire, his friends say…

Another name that keeps popping up is U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Golden, a strong campaigner who has the ability to bridge the party.

“I think he’s thinking about it, he’s trying to decide how he can best serve the state and what we need to do for the future of Colorado,” said state Rep.-elect Chris Kennedy, a Jefferson County Democrat who is close with Perlmutter.

“The biggest thing we need to take away from the election is that authenticity matters, and that’s a place where Ed Perlmutter is really strong,” Kennedy continued.

Other Democratic names in the mix for discussion purposes in Marcus’ story include former Colorado Treasurer Cary Kennedy, Sen. Michael Merrifield of Colorado Springs, and Sen. Michael Johnston of Denver–the latter being a relatively “dark horse” contender who even most political insiders don’t realize is interested in the race.

Despite a healthy field of well-qualified potential Democratic candidates, at this point serious discussion has to boil down to former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Golden. Either of these candidates are top-tier in terms of qualifications and name ID. For many years now, there has been a presumption among insider Democrats that the successorship to Gov. John Hickenlooper was Salazar’s to turn down, but Marcus is correct that this presumption may be wearing thin with the passage of time. Salazar has served at high executive levels, but he has been out of any kind of office for several years. Salazar’s most recent work with Hillary Clinton’s abortive transition team may not freshen his resume enough to clear the field for the 2018 gubernatorial race.

One other point to consider is that Perlmutter moving up to the gubernatorial race would free up a “logjam” of qualified Jefferson County Democrats to ascend–into his seat, and then into seat(s) vacated by successor candidates. It’s to Perlmutter’s credit that he has proven such an able representative in CD-7, there has never been any real dissatisfaction among Democrats with him–let alone a primary challenger. But if Ed moves up, there are lots of able young Democrats who would be ready to move up with him.

We’ll be watching closely to see what both Salazar and Perlmutter decide.

Maybe Somebody Should Ask Cory Gardner

Wanna hide from the media? Just stand next to Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), seen here not being asked relevant questions about anything.

Colorado Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has had an interesting few months in what has been a fascinating time in American politics. You might not be aware of this, because we only seem to hear from Gardner via prepackaged nothing burger statements with no meaningful follow-up from relevant media outlets.

For example, take Gardner’s answer over the weekend about President-elect Donald Trump’s questionable decision to have a conversation with the leader of Taiwan. From ABC News:

Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asia and Pacific affairs, said he looks forward to working with the president-elect to find ways to “strengthen our relationship with our ally and friend, Taiwan.”

“The friendship between our two countries is important, and I am glad to hear the president-elect is committed to that friendship,” Gardner said in a statement.

That’s…it? Really? Nothing else about how the call might affect U.S. relations with friggin’ China?

Today the Denver Post has a story — via the Washington Post — with more specifics about the Trump-Taiwan call, including the fact that the “protocol-breaking” phone call was “an intentionally provocative move” by the incoming administration. We don’t need to tell you that you shouldn’t bother looking for a quote from Gardner in this story, nevermind that Colorado’s junior Senator is the CHAIRMAN ON THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS.

It hasn’t exactly been difficult to locate Gardner in the last couple of months. When he wasn’t busy trying to convince people that Hillary Clinton was dead, Gardner spent most of his time in the final stages of the 2016 election traveling around the country helping Senate candidates in tough re-election contests (so long as they weren’t named Darryl Glenn). Gardner’s Senate-stumping paid off after the election when he was named as the new head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which puts him in charge of Republican efforts to maintain their Senate majority in 2018.

On the topic of the biggest political issue in the country world — the election of Donald Trump as President — Gardner has skated along without having to answer any real questions from reporters. Gardner half-assedly endorsed Trump for President in August but quickly called on the GOP nominee to drop out of the race altogether after multiple stories emerged about Trump sexually harassing women. Gardner has been mostly silent since Trump’s surprise victory, but don’tworryeverythingisfine. As Bloomberg News reports today:

Another group of former Never-Trump senators is trying to move past the campaign, including Cory Gardner of Colorado, one of several Republicans who unendorsed Trump after the “Access Hollywood” tape on which he bragged about groping women. Early on, Gardner referred to Trump as a “buffoon.”

“I’ve had several conversations with Trump and the Trump administration and look forward to working with them,” said Gardner, who will head the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm for the 2018 cycle.

Uh…okay. That’s it? The election has been over for nearly a month now, and we still haven’t heard anything substantial from Gardner about Trump. That’s not okay.

Just last week, Mark Matthews of the Denver Post made a point to chastise Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulderish) for refusing to comment on the election of Nancy Pelosi as House Minority Leader. It was silly for Polis to not just pause and answer a question — we’re certainly not excusing Polis here — but where is Matthews’ dogged determination in following up with one of Colorado’s two U.S. Senators on issues that are much more relevant to most Coloradans? What about asking Gardner to explain how he supports “bailouts” for the insurance industry in repealing Obamacare when Gardner has railed on exactly this subject for years?

No elected official in Colorado regularly gets away with saying nothing quite like Cory Gardner.

Prof Apologizes for Comments Attacking “Snowflakes” Wearing Safety Pins to Class

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

An assistant professor of legal studies at Colorado Christian University apologized Friday for “any offense” she might have caused in stating during a radio show Wednesday that she’d fail students who “wear a safety pin and ask for a safe space.” She also said on air that she’d “tear” safety pins from students.

“I would like to apologize and clarify the comments I made while co-hosting KLZ 560 talk radio this week in my personal capacity, and not on behalf of Colorado Christian University. I certainly did not intend to offend anyone, and my comments were not intended to be taken literally,” said Jenna Ellis, an assistant professor of legal studies and leadership at CCU in a statement. “Please accept my genuine apology for any offense I might have caused. CCU is an institution that values free thinking, discussion, debate, tough questions, and our students are encouraged to think critically and creatively.”

Asked by KLZ radio host Dan Meurer Nov. 30 if there were “safe spaces” at CCU, Ellis said:

“No, there are not, and if any of my students wear a safety pin and ask for a safe space, I will tear it off them and fail them in my class,” replied Ellis, with a partial laugh. “And they know it too. We have no snowflakes on campus.”

Ellis’ comments refer to safety pins worn being worn by some people in the wake of the presidential election, symbolizing support for groups, such as Muslims and undocumented immigrants, who have said they feel threatened by Trump.

Ellis first declined to comment on her radio remarks but later provided a comment via email.

CCU’s website states that Ellis sees “biblical truth” as the place “where we begin, and integrate the learning of law and leadership into our Christian worldview.”

CCU, which is located in Lakewood, does not hide its conservative orientation, with past university leaders, such as former GOP Senator Bill Armstrong, being high-profile Republicans. Armstrong died this year.

But CCU is also known for holding open and public debates –via its conservative Centennial Institute and elsewhere–about current political issues.

Get More Smarter on Monday (December 5)

Get More SmarterHell hasn’t frozen over — as far as we know — but Hawaii is expected to get up to six inches of snow. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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…

► If you aren’t paying attention to Republican plans surrounding Obamacare, it’s time to get serious. As we wrote in this space over the weekend, Republicans are eager to dump Obamacare and replace it with…basically the same thing, only with a different name and with massive public bailouts of the insurance industry attached. Mother Jones has a good explanation of this entire mess.

 

► President-elect Donald Trump has officially selected former neurosurgeon Ben Carson as his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. As CNN reports, you have reason to be concerned about Carson’s ability to direct a big government agency (don’t take our word for it):

Carson’s name had been attached to multiple cabinet-level positions throughout the transition process, most significantly the position of Health and Human Services secretary. But, according to Carson aide Armstrong Williams, the veteran neurosurgeon turned down an offer of that position due to his lack of experience running a federal agency.

“He’s never run an agency and it’s a lot to ask. He’s a neophyte and that’s not his strength,” Williams said.

And to think: Ben Carson made a reasonably-effective run for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016.

 

► After weeks of baseless claims about election fraud, North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has finally conceded his re-election bid to Democrat Roy Cooper. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to push that nonsense transgender bathroom bill in North Carolina, eh, soon-to-be-former Governor McCrory?

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Monday Open Thread

“Both read the Bible day and night, but thou read black where I read white.”

–William Blake

Weekend Open Thread

“Voting is completely important. People in America think democracy is a given. I think of it as an ecosystem, and what gets in the way of it is politicians and apathy.”

–Henry Rollins