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When Donald Trump Jr. Yucked Up The Aurora Theater Massacre

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s John Frank:

Sandy Phillips, the mother of Jessica Ghawi, who died in the attack, issued a statement saying “this recording shows the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

“This recording goes beyond politics — it’s disturbing and painful,” Phillips said in a statement released by Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

“We’ve already known that his father is a crass, blustery billionaire who cares zero about other people’s struggles or pain,” she added.

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Donald Trump, Jr.

Donald Trump, Jr.

CNN broke a story yesterday about Donald Trump Jr., who was in town yesterday campaigning for his dad, that is just now starting to trickle down into local media–and it’s outraging pretty much everyone in our state who hears it:

On shows like “Opie and Anthony,” the now-defunct “The Six Pack,” and “Opie with Jim Norton,” the younger Trump made a joke about the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, expressed regret he could no longer mock overweight people, invoked Arab stereotypes, and joked about child beauty contestants being abused by their parents…

In July 2012, on the same day a gunman killed 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, Trump Jr. joked about still giving the movie “two thumbs up.”

Trump Jr. made the comment on “Opie and Anthony” after soundbites were played of witnesses speaking about the tragedy.

“Everything was going good until, uh, we saw gas and sparks, and sounded like really strong fireworks, uh, and then you just hear people yelling and actually just a few, uh, rows away from me a girl gets up holding her jaw. I guess she had got shot,” a witness said.

“Overall I give the movie two thumbs up,” Trump Jr. exclaimed in reaction.

Among the first to respond to this story was Morgan Carroll, longtime representative of the vicinity of the Century Theater in Aurora and now a candidate for Congress:

She released a statement about Trump Jr’s comments saying, “The tragic Aurora shooting happened just five minutes from my house, in the district I was elected to represent. Donald Trump Jr. should apologize immediately to the families and victims affected by this terrible tragedy. The loss of life, and horror faced by this community and all in that theater that day, is no joke.”

Through his spox, incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora also expresses a measure of displeasure:

Coffman’s spokeswoman, Cinamon Watson, said of Trump Jr.’s comment, “That’s a filthy, disgusting, lewd, awful thing to say. He should be embarrassed and ashamed.”

We haven’t seen any evidence that Junior is in fact ashamed–or any reports about him at all since yesterday’s abortive whistlestop at The Sink in Boulder, which was moved after The Sink’s owners informed the Trump campaign that they need to have permission to invade their restaurant for a campaign event:

But as you can see from these crass remarks about the Aurora theater shooting and the dozens of our neighbors killed and wounded there, Donald Junior doesn’t just say the word “deplorable.”

He lives it.

Donald Trump Jr. To Talk “Sportmen’s Issues” In Junction

hunt30n-13-webDonald Trump, Jr. kills big stuff.

Donald Trump, Jr. holding an elephant's tail.

Donald Trump, Jr. holding an elephant’s tail.

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Amy Hamilton reports, it’s almost too audacious to be believed:

Donald Trump Jr., son of Republican candidate for president Donald J. Trump, will be drumming up support for policies that benefit sportsmen in the West’s public lands during a talk Thursday night at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.

The event, called “Autumn Fever — A Campfire with Donald Trump, Jr.,” is expected to attract about 4,000 people, said Marjorie Haun, who is helping to spread the word about the event. The effort is hosted through the Colorado Sportsmen “Make America Great” group.

Haun said the junior Trump is expected to talk about sportsmen issues and “issues specific to western Colorado” rather than directly campaigning for his father.

Hamilton didn’t see fit to mention it, but Donald Trump, Jr. is infamous as a big-game hunter, with photos of Junior and his brother with various dead animals having been made a regular issue both before and during his father’s presidential campaign. The Washington Post reported last month about Junior’s love of putting holes in large mammals:

Americans are nearly split when it comes to hunting animals for sport — 56 percent said they oppose it — and they are particularly against big-game hunting. Eighty-six percent of respondents said they disapprove of it, and six out of 10 said they believe it should be illegal. [Pols emphasis]

Donald Jr. spoke in exhaustive detail about his love of hunting for the enthusiast site Bowsite earlier in the year. He explained that he learned to hunt as a boy from his maternal grandfather during summers spent in Czechoslovakia. He said he has been an active hunter throughout his life, that his preferred form is bowhunting, and that he frequently employs it during the weekends to hunt whitetail deer in New York…

He talked of hunting not just as a pastime, but as an important influence on his character. “I owe the outdoors way too much to try to do the usual apologize and hide thing,” Trump Jr. said. “It’s kept me out of a lot of other trouble I probably would’ve gotten into.”

hunt30n-8-webTo be sure, neither we nor we would say most Coloradans are opposed to hunting properly managed by wildlife authorities: especially when the hunt is actually for consumption in addition to sport. Hunting plays a role in regulating animal populations in the West, and the Colorado Parks and Wildlife does a good science-based job administering hunting in our state.

What Donald Trump Jr. does in Africa, killing threatened animals to take crass trophies like an elephant’s tail, bears no resemblance to any kind of hunting that most Coloradans would find acceptable. And that makes Junior’s trip to Junction to discuss “sportsmen issues” more than a little questionable in our minds.

We wouldn’t be surprised to see protesters outside Junior’s event Thursday who agree.

Caption This: Donald Trump Jr. Needs To Return Some Videotapes

A photo from this week’s campaign swing through Denver by Donald Trump, Junior:

trumpjr

According to his Tweet, Trump Junior showed up at Platte River Networks looking for (you guessed it) Hillary Clinton’s emails! Upon discovering that emails aren’t thrown away in dumpsters or stored in any, you know, physically observable way, we assume he left–but not before this photo that we expect would be Photoshopped into pretty funny stuff if Junior merited the attention.

Junior looks like he’s trying to say something else too. Help us figure out what it is in comments.

Tancredo on the Inside Hunt with Donald Trump, Jr.

(Does this mean Tancredo is on the Trump “not naughty” list? — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo spent at least part of Saturday with Donald Trump, Jr., and others hunting pheasants with Steve King, a Republican Congressman from Iowa.

“Hunting pheasants this beautiful day with Congressman Steve King and Donald Trump, Jr. Doesn’t get any better than this! #MAGA,” wrote Tancredo on Facebook.

In the photo on the right, Tancredo is pictured on the top left; Trump, Jr., is top middle.

Tancredo generated recent headlines after he spoke with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon about his possible gubernatorial run in Colorado.

Tancredo has said he’s shot “a lot of pheasants” at King’s annual pheasant hunt before. And he’s schmoozed with fellow anti-immigrant GOP notables at the event, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, whom he met there in 2015.

This year Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas and former Rep. Gill Gutknecht of Minnesota were slated to attend King’s pheasant hunt, along with Tancredo and others.

When Trump, Jr., campaigned in Colorado during the presidential election, he was criticized for hunting animals much larger than pheasants, such as water buffalo.

King’s Col. Bud Day Pheasant Hunt was a fundraiser, and took place Saturday and Sunday at the Hole N’ the Wall Lodge near Akron, Iowa.

King said in a statement that the event includes “good, healthy conversation among conservatives who love America.”

Trump Ministers Wage War on Taxpayers and the Environment

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Trump War on the Environment continues, with a steady barrage of roll backs, anti-science flak, funding attacks, and rhetorical bombast that threaten our most cherished public lands, bedrock public health protections, and century-old conservation laws. Easing the way for corporate interests to profit from the public lands, the Trump administration at the same time is making it harder for the American public to enjoy them. The Interior Department, we just learned, is planning to hike fees for America’s most iconic public lands—including Rocky Mountain National Park—to $70 for a visit, which the administration denies will cause any hardships. Not for human persons anyhow. A few pennies in added costs for corporate-persons, however, doing business on the public lands is a different matter.

Rifle native, top-shelf attorney, and Deputy Interior Secretary Bernhardt doesn’t think he’d have any trouble affording a $70 Park fee, according to media reports.

Although no health, safety, or environmental regulation appears safe from the armies of corporate lobbyists and lobbyists-cum-administrators, a particularly fierce animus has been directed to anything with Obama’s name on it. The Clean Power Plan, National Monuments like Bears Ears, and other Obama-era rules aimed at recouping costs for American taxpayers, clamping down on harmful pollution, expanding public involvement, and preventing waste of resources have all been in Trump’s cross-hairs.

Obama Derangement symptoms may be further sign of the psychological rot at the heart of this administration, may reveal the profound, perhaps existential, threat to our Republic the Trump regime poses.

The need to undo a predecessor’s accomplishments does fit in with the behavior of an insecure autocrat. And either by design, or in the vacuum of leadership a naked emperor brings, the administration’s ministries are following suit, ruling by decree.

Consider how the environmental and land agencies are behaving under Trump. The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Interior, for instance, seem to prefer executive fiat to public process, silence over science, and conflicted interests over competence. Under the Trump regime the media is the enemy and the public interest is elitist.

Trump Secretaries Zinke and Perry looking clean and morally straight in the swamps of DC. Zinke believes questions about government contracts are elitist, and Perry thinks fossil fuels decrease sexual assault, per recent agency communications and  reporting.

It all brings with it the appearance of the swampiest of tin-pot dictatorships. Interior Secretary Zinke, it has been revealed, flies his own flag over the Departmental Palace when he is holding court, handing out coins to his admirers. EPA Administrator Pruitt has an around-the-clock security detail and has built himself a private phone booth.

And this royal demeanor extends, many observe, to the actual management of the public’s lands and treasures—the former seems for plunder and the latter for friends.

Take the Bureau of Land Management’s methane rule, put in place by Obama to prevent the waste of a public resource, widely popular, practical, and effective. Thousands of stakeholders across America, including oil and gas companies and some industry groups, agree that this rule is an effective way to reduce methane waste.

(more…)

In anti-Trump stand, Beverly Belles won’t perform at El Paso County GOP fundraiser

After the Beverly Belles, a group of Andrews-Sisters-style singers, rejected his offer to play at a GOP fundraiser, Joshua Hosler, who’s the newly elected leader of the El Paso County Republican Party, tweeted:

“We asked The Beverly Belles to play an event. They declined b/c they don’t like Trump. No problem. We support their right to choose clients!”

I asked Julia Tobey, who owns the Beverly Belles, why she didn’t want to perform for Hosler’s group.

She looked at group’s website, she told me, and found recordings of Trump officials praising El Paso Republicans. In one voice mail on the website, Donald Trump, Jr., called from “corporate headquarters in New York” to tell the regional field director in the El Paso GOP office that “my father really appreciates” his work, “the family gets it,” and “we’re going to win this thing.”

Tobey said she and her organization, which is based in Denver and Los Angeles, “in no way support Donald Trump” and would not want it to appear as if they were helping raise money for him.

“Since Trump moved into the White House, I am most saddened by his aggressive attack on the rights of our African-American, Muslim, Mexican, LGBTQ, immigrant and refugee American brothers and sisters,” Tobey emailed me, emphasizing that she was speaking for herself and not all the members of her company. “I feel called to stand up and actively support these minorities.

“And also, as a female-run organization, we would never choose to support a president who has a history of blatant sexism and actions that objectify and degrade women. We are heartbroken he has actively pursued policies to strip women of hard-earned rights to make choices about our own bodies and do not support him or his administration in any way.

Asked about the Beverly Belles, the GOP’s Hosler said they are “extremely talented,” and he would definitely have enjoyed their performance, having listened to their style of music as a kid with his grandfather.

But he’s not mad at them, because he supports their right to say, no thank you. “We are a party of liberty and freedom, and it’s their right to choose,” he said.

I told Hosler that I thought his tweet seemed intended to equate the decision of the Beverly Belles not to play at a Republican fundraiser with the Colorado baker who discriminated against a gay couple by refusing to make them a wedding cake.

That wasn’t the “original intent” of his tweet, which was aimed to promote liberty, he said.

Still, he said, “I can see the direct correlation. That is clearly something that was parallel.”

In fact, the baker violated Colorado law by discriminating against gay people, who are protected under Colorado’s Public Accommodations statute. Just as a shop like a bakery can’t discriminate based on race or sex.  But a baker has the right to refuse service to people of either sex who love Obama for political reasons.

As Republican John Suthers, who served as Colorado’s attorney general, said on the radio a few years ago:

And so in Colorado, essentially, sexual orientation has essentially the same protection as race in terms of anti-public discrimination laws.

So, if you have a business, whether it be a motel business, restaurant business, cake shop, and hold yourself out to the public, you must abide by this public accommodations law. And in this case, it was alleged, that a gay couple who’d been married in another state, wanted to have a celebration in Colorado, went into this cake shop, were very frank with the owner about what they wanted to do, and he refused to bake them a cake, despite the fact that they could have walked a blocked and got the cake at another bake store….it does appear this individual violated the public accommodations law, so the case was brought.

As for the event for which Hosler hoped to book the Beverly Belles, it is scheduled for Oct. 27, billed as a Monte Carlo evening. Hosler described it as a “fun fundraiser” without political speeches that “put everyone to sleep.”

“It wasn’t a fundraiser for Trump,” said Hosler. “He wouldn’t get any of the money.”

But didn’t El Paso Republicans help elect Trump and would do so again?

“We are in theory connected to Trump,” Hosler said. “Trump is a Republican, and we are pushing the Republican Party. So in a sense we are building his base of support, but it does not directly support him. It supports the Party.”

The Beverly Belles, of course, not are the only performing artists who’ve rejected Trump-related events.

The list of performers who said they wouldn’t perform at the Trump inauguration included Garth Brooks, Elton John, and Celine Dion.

The Rockettes made it voluntary for their dancers to perform at Trump’s inauguration, after an outcry from some members of the troupe.

In the video below, Tobey and other performers discuss their work–and sing.

Senate Republicans Send Trump Resolution To The “Kill Committee”

UPDATE #2: Peter Marcus at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports:

With little notice, Senate Republicans on Tuesday held a hearing on a Democratic effort to encourage President Trump to rescind temporary refugee and select immigration bans…

Sen. Mike Merrifield, D-Colorado Springs, a sponsor of the resolution, said he was informed about the hearing Monday morning.

Demonstrations in opposition to Trump’s bans have taken place throughout Colorado, especially in Denver, where thousands of people protested the presidential directives.

“There are thousands of Coloradans who feel this way,” said Sen. Lois Court, D-Denver. “I wondered if you knew why we don’t have anymore people here to testify.”

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UPDATE: HJR17-1013 dies in Senate State Affairs as Democratic lawmakers fume:

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After a resolution passed the Colorado House last week condemning President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from numerous Muslim-majority nations, word came late last night the Colorado Senate Republicans were routing the resolution to the State Affairs Committee, where it is likely to die:

A fiery debate is underway right now in this committee, click here to listen in–and if you’re so inclined and positioned, head for Senate Conference Room 357. We’ll update with developments as we get word.

President Trump Nominates Colorado Judge Neil Gorsuch

UPDATE #5: LGBT advocacy group One Colorado:

“Religious freedom is a core American value that we all cherish, and it is already protected by the Constitution. Attempts to give a license to discriminate through religious exemptions are contrary to the notion that we should treat others as we wish to be treated and scores of faith leaders have spoken out against such policies — including last week here in Colorado.

“A Supreme Court that would rule in support of religious exemptions would certainly open LGBTQ Americans up to discrimination and open up a can of worms that could allow individuals to ignore child welfare, domestic violence, or other laws that someone could contend is contrary to their religion.

“The Supreme Court has the potential to shape the future of our nation for generations to come and Supreme Court Justices should be committed to upholding America’s promise of fairness and freedom for all. We call on Colorado’s U.S. Senators Cory Gardner and Michael Bennet to reject President Trump’s nominee.”

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UPDATE #4: Sen. Michael Bennet’s spox, polite but not what you’d call enthusiastic:

“As a fellow Coloradan, Michael congratulates Judge Gorsuch and his family. He takes seriously the Senate’s responsibility to advise and consent on Supreme Court nominations. He intends to review Judge Gorsuch’s record carefully in the coming weeks.”

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UPDATE #3: A healthy dose of skepticism from Rep. Ed Perlmutter:

But Reps. Scott Tipton, Ken Buck, Doug Lamborn and Mike Coffman are predictably all smiles:

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UPDATE #2: The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., in a statement Tuesday night called Gorsuch “one of our country’s brightest legal minds with significant experience as a federal judge and a private litigator.”

“He is an ardent defender of the Constitution and he has the appropriate temperament to serve on the nation’s highest court,” Gardner said. “Judge Gorsuch also adds to the court’s Western perspective, with his understanding of uniquely Western issues like water and public lands issues. I’m enthusiastic about the native Coloradan’s nomination and will work to ensure that his confirmation process is fair, thorough, and expedient.”

But NARAL Pro Choice Colorado is decidedly less positive:

“Judge Gorsuch has a record of ruling in a way that does not reflect Colorado values on reproductive rights. This is a pro-choice state that supports the Constitutional right to abortion enshrined in Roe and the right to privacy enshrined in Griswold – beliefs that are contradicted in Judge Gorsuch’s ruling in Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters.

What’s troubling in Judge Gorsuch’s ruling in Hobby Lobby was his apparent support for “personhood”, the conferring of legal rights to a fertilized egg. He said that, “the mandate compels Hobby Lobby and Mardel to underwrite payments for drugs or devices that can have the effect of destroying a fertilized human egg.”

This is not only unscientific and counter to Griswold and Roe, it is counter to the will of Colorado voters. Coloradans have said in landslide numbers in the voting booth that they oppose personhood, which would outlaw all abortion and many forms of contraception.

As the first state to allow safe, legal abortion in 1967, after Griswold and before Roe, Colorado has a long, bipartisan history of supporting reproductive rights. Judge Gorsuch does not reflect the will of our state or the Constitutional rights of American women and we would oppose his nomination.”

Ian Silverii of ProgressNow Colorado is similarly talking tough:

“Neil Gorsuch is just the latest in a series of horrible choices by Donald Trump,” said ProgressNow Colorado executive director Ian Silverii. “Gorsuch’s fringe views on health care and contraception make him an enemy of Colorado women. On the Supreme Court, Gorsuch would be a vote to roll back women’s rights, environmental protections, and hard-won protections against discrimination in the workplace. Gorsuch has even been endorsed by the founder of the National Organization for Marriage, an anti-LGBT extremist group. Gorsuch may hail from Colorado, but his record stands in opposition to Colorado values.”

“The simple fact is that this Supreme Court appointment was stolen from President Obama last year in a shameful act of Republican treachery,” said Silverii. “No Democrat should in any way cooperate with or otherwise enable Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination, including Colorado Democrats. To do so would only hand Trump another undeserved victory.”

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UPDATE: It’s Gorsuch. Stand by for statements and coverage.

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Neil Gorsuch

The news has been leaking out of Washington D.C. for the past couple of hours: Colorado Judge Neil Gorsuch appears to be Donald Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court vacancy.

Here’s more from National Review:

President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court will be Neil Gorsuch, a well-respected conservative whose legal philosophy is remarkably similar to that of Antonin Scalia, the justice he will replace if the Senate confirms him. He is, like Scalia, a textualist and an originalist: someone who interprets legal provisions as their words were originally understood.

For more background on Gorsuch, check out Politico and Think Progress.

Donald Trump is Officially the 45th President of the United States

President Donald Trump speaks at his Inauguration Ceremony.

Well, this is really happening. As the Washington Post reports:

Donald John Trump was sworn in Friday as the 45th president of the United States, taking office on a day that has featured smaller crowds and more subdued ceremony than previous inaugurations — but still ushers in a transformative shift in the country’s leadership.

Trump, 70, was administered the oath by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. His wife Melania Trump stood at his side. The oath was given using two Bibles — one from President Lincoln’s inauguration, and another that Trump’s mother gave him in 1955.

Trump began his inaugural address by proclaiming that with his victory, “the United States of America is your country.” With now former president Obama and three previous presidents watching from behind him, Trump seemed to condemn them as unfaithful to the popular will, saying that his inauguration signaled that “the people” would rule the country again.

And off we go…

Mike Coffman ‘Doesn’t Know’ If Trump Is a Sexual Predator. Colorado Women Do.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

coffmansmileDenver – Karen Middleton, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, today issued the following statement about Rep. Mike Coffman’s response that he “doesn’t know” if Donald Trump is a sexual  predator during the 9News debate Thursday night:

“Mike Coffman said he doesn’t know if Donald Trump is a sexual predator. Colorado women do. Grabbing a woman’s body without her consent is the definition of sexual assault. This is not difficult.

As the Aurora Sentinel put it in their editorial today, “What Trump did was perverse and criminal. It legally constitutes sexual assault, and it’s morally repulsive.”

…He can’t have it both ways on this issue. Trump’s blatant misogyny and admitted sexual assaults are not debatable political philosophies”

The fact that Mike Coffman seems unclear on this point could explain why he voted to redefine rape. We believe a woman has a right to control to her own body. Mike Coffman’s anti-choice record demonstrates he does not.

This is just one more reason why we support Senator Morgan Carroll for Congress.  She is a pro-choice champion with NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, has a 100% rating on our 2016 Legislative Scorecard, and has been endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America. We know that Colorado women deserve someone who will take the time to listen to them, believe them, and take action.  Morgan Carroll will stand with the women of CD6.  She would never say “I don’t know” about sexual assault for political expedience.”

Donald Trump Junior Grabs Boulder By The P – – – y

UPDATE #3: Via the Boulder Daily Camera:

Donald Trump Jr.’s campaign appearance in Boulder this afternoon has been moved from The Sink to a commercial space on Pearl Street after the owner of the University Hill restaurant complained he had been unaware of the event.

The event is now scheduled to take place at 4:30 p.m. at 714 Pearl St., an unoccupied commercial space owned by developer Stephen Tebo.

Somebody get Junior a new advance man.

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UPDATE #2: Junior’s event in Boulder is still on, somewhere:

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UPDATE: The Sink’s owners put the kibosh on Junior’s campaign event inside their restaurant:

Donald Trump Jr. is welcome to visit the The Sink, but not to hold a campaign event on the restaurant’s premises, owner Mark Heinritz said today.

“If he wants to come in and be a guest, that’s fine,” Heinritz said. “We do not discriminate and we will not discriminate. If he wants it to be a campaign event, he can do that outside.”

Guess he should have asked permission.

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Donald Trump, Jr. holding an elephant's tail.

Donald Trump, Jr. holding an elephant’s tail.

As the Boulder Daily Camera reports, Donald Trump Jr. is making a campaign stop in the People’s Republic on behalf of his pa this afternoon:

Donald Trump Jr. will travel to Boulder on Monday to speak with supporters of his father’s presidential bid and campaign volunteers, the Donald Trump campaign announced Sunday morning.

Trump’s son is scheduled to appear at 4:30 p.m. Monday at The Sink, 165 13th St., following a morning campaign appearance in Centennial, according to an email from the campaign.

Junior’s campaign stop at The Sink appears to be news to…well, The Sink:

Laura Thoman, a manager at The Sink, said Sunday afternoon that no one from the Trump campaign had contacted the restaurant.

“We’ve had a lot of famous people here, but we usually get some advanced warning,” she said.

No other details of the Boulder event have been released.

Contacted later Sunday afternoon, Lydia B. Blaha, the Trump campaign’s Colorado communications director, said the event is expected to take place inside The Sink.

The Sink released a statement that makes little attempt to hide their displeasure over the Trump campaign’s presumptuousness:

The Sink would like to thank the Denver Post and the Daily Camera for making us aware of the Trump campaign’s plans to use our restaurant as a campaign location while Donald Trump Jr. is in Boulder, Colo. Normally, organizations ask permission to use our property–we would like to make clear that the Trump campaign has not asked for our permission or made any attempt to contact us. We did not organize or encourage this event to happen. [Pols emphasis]

The Sink says they will nonetheless accommodate Junior’s unsanctioned presence, because “discrimination is still a primary issue in our society”–and they hope Boulder residents will respect The Sink as “an organization that is willing to remain accessible to all political and personal viewpoints.” Zing!

Why didn’t Trump’s campaign feel the need to even ask permission? You already know the answer, Boulder:

Because when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

Trump Blows Sunshine Up Big Oil’s Kazoo

UPDATE: Pete Maysmith at Conservation Colorado’s statement:

This is just another example on the never-ending list of how wrong Trump is for Colorado and our values. From not being able to articulate a plan for protecting our public lands to saying he would appoint an oil executive to the Interior Department and now this, Trump couldn’t be positioning himself further away from being a leader who will champion and support our Colorado way of life. It’s clear that oil companies and special interests will benefit the most from a Donald Trump presidency, not everyday Coloradans.

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J.R. Ewing.

J.R. Ewing.

Politico’s Elana Schor reporting from the 80s-chic office towers of the Denver Energy Center downtown, where Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump spent this morning assuring the movers and shakers in Colorado’s energy industry that he’s on their side:

Donald Trump huddled Tuesday with oil and gas executives in Colorado, expanding his outreach to an industry that has seen its influence grow in the Republican nominee’s campaign after some early missteps.

Trump told the industry he would reduce regulations, in contrast to the approach of President Barack Obama and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Safety and environmental rules are necessary, Trump told the executives, according to a pool report, but there are also “regulations that are totally unnecessary and put people out of work.” He apparently did not get into specifics in the 10 minutes reporters were allowed to stay in the room…

It seems that even behind closed doors with our local J.R. Ewing set, Trump is still firmly implanted in his own special bubble:

Trump’s meeting in Denver comes as two polls this week showed Clinton with an 11-point lead in Colorado. Trump brought up polls of the state and told the oil executives “we’re doing really well,” according to the pool report. [Pols emphasis]

Do tell! But speaking seriously for a moment, Trump’s off-the-cuff remarks about how local voter control over oil and gas drilling might be a good thing, like most Republicans usually say about “local control,” really hasn’t sat well with Colorado energy interests who find the ever-accommodating Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s oversight just fine thank you! A surrogate’s assurances that Trump didn’t really mean it haven’t helped calm jangled nerves on the subject. Might Trump’s whimsy-driven “populism” turn and bite them in the backside someday?

Relax, you’ve got nothing to worry about, oil guys! Because Trump is doing really well.

The Trump Campaign is STILL Talking About Melania’s Plagiarism

Plagiarism comparisons were front-page news on CNN.com on Tuesday.

Plagiarism comparisons were front-page news on CNN.com on Tuesday.

The big story from Monday night at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland was the allegations of plagiarism in a speech delivered by Melania Trump, the wife of GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump. Various Trump spokespersons spent the next 36 hours trying to downplay the fairly indisputable evidence of plagiarism, much to the confusion of politicos on both sides of the aisle.

Today, after blaming everyone from Hillary Clinton to My Little Pony for the plagiarism story, the Trump campaign finally came clean…sort of. As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix”:

A day-and-a-half removed from revelations that Melania Trump, the GOP nominee’s wife, had plagiarized portions of the speech she delivered Monday night to the convention crowd, the Trump campaign offered up an answer that made sense.

Meredith McIver, an employee of Donald Trump’s company (not campaign) had accidentally used first lady Michelle Obama’s words from a 2008 speech at the Democratic National Convention. Melania Trump had read McIver passages of Obama’s speeches that she liked, and McIver jotted them down without realizing they belonged to the first lady. (McIver’s full letter is here.)…

…The smart thing to do — and the thing that any even marginally traditional campaign would have done — is rapidly figure out that the blame lies with McIver, release this letter overnight Monday and cast the whole thing as an innocent mistake by a longtime loyalist who was simply trying to help her friend Melania Trump.

That approach wouldn’t have squashed the story entirely on Tuesday. But it would have taken a whole lot of oxygen out of it. By Tuesday night — and certainly by Wednesday morning — the talk of the town would have been Donald Trump Jr.’s terrific speech Tuesday night and how momentum was building to Ted Cruz and Mike Pence Wednesday night.

Instead, for some unknown reason, the Trump campaign spent all of Tuesday defending a position that they knew they could never hold.  And then they gave up on it. Inevitably.

Maybe it’s not such a good idea for the Trump campaign to operate without a clear campaign manager or a group of seasoned communications experts.

 

Trump Supporter Who Poisoned Groundwater Places Trump Billboards on I76

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The plains roll on for hundreds of miles  under blank blue skies near Roggen, Colorado. Sage, scrub grass, fracking tanks, and a few cattle dot the vast landscape.  Roggen itself is a ghost of its former prosperity – the town consists of a grain elevator, a telephone co-op,  two churches, a convenience store, and a post office.

Yet, Roggen boasts two new roadside attractions: gigantic “Trump for President” billboards facing west and east, placed to catch the eyes of all travelers along I76.

Trump billboard on Cervi’s land near Roggen, CO

I wanted to find out who felt strongly enough about Mr. Trump’s candidacy to build, paint, and place these monumental political advertisements in this desolate area. I investigated, and found a family saga rooted in the heyday of Colorado political journalism, in the gas and oil boom years, including rodeo circuit stardom and family tragedy, and the criminal indictment and sentencing of the landowner, Mr. Mike Cervi, for violating the Safe Water Act by injecting petroleum wastes into the High Plains / Ogalalla Aquifer from 2001 – 2002.

Cervi’s Journal – the founding Cervi business

Eugene Cervi produced and edited Cervi’s Rocky Mountain Business Journal in Denver from 1954 until his death in 1970.   Cervi’s Journal later became the Denver Business Journal. “Gene” and his daughter, editor Cle Symons Cervi, were both inducted into the Denver Press Club Hall of Fame.   Gene Cervi was twice Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, although he was critical of JFK. Later in his career, the “Journal” became more conservative and more pro-business in viewpoint.

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Ties to GOP Trumped Know-How Among Staff Sent to Rebuild Iraq

This article is a little long, but a good read none the less. I think that there comes a time when the realization must be made that what may be right for America (or wrong depending on your view) is not what is right for Iraq.

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 17, 2006; A01

Adapted from “Imperial Life in the Emerald City,” by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, copyright Knopf 2006

“After the fall of Saddam Hussein’s government in April 2003, the opportunity to participate in the U.S.-led effort to reconstruct Iraq attracted all manner of Americans — restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O’Beirne’s office in the Pentagon.

To pass muster with O’Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn’t need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

O’Beirne’s staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade .

Many of those chosen by O’Beirne’s office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq’s government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance — but had applied for a White House job — was sent to reopen Baghdad’s stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq’s $13 billion budget, even though they didn’t have a background in accounting.

The decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest is now regarded by many people involved in the 3 1/2 -year effort to stabilize and rebuild Iraq as one of the Bush administration’s gravest errors. Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation, which sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people, according to many people who participated in the reconstruction effort.

The CPA had the power to enact laws, print currency, collect taxes, deploy police and spend Iraq’s oil revenue. It had more than 1,500 employees in Baghdad at its height, working under America’s viceroy in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, but never released a public roster of its entire staff.

Interviews with scores of former CPA personnel over the past two years depict an organization that was dominated — and ultimately hobbled — by administration ideologues.

“We didn’t tap — and it should have started from the White House on down — just didn’t tap the right people to do this job,” said Frederick Smith, who served as the deputy director of the CPA’s Washington office. “It was a tough, tough job. Instead we got people who went out there because of their political leanings.”

Endowed with $18 billion in U.S. reconstruction funds and a comparatively quiescent environment in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. invasion, the CPA was the U.S. government’s first and best hope to resuscitate Iraq — to establish order, promote rebuilding and assemble a viable government, all of which, experts believe, would have constricted the insurgency and mitigated the chances of civil war. Many of the basic tasks Americans struggle to accomplish today in Iraq — training the army, vetting the police, increasing electricity generation — could have been performed far more effectively in 2003 by the CPA.

But many CPA staff members were more interested in other things: in instituting a flat tax, in selling off government assets, in ending food rations and otherwise fashioning a new nation that looked a lot like the United States. Many of them spent their days cloistered in the Green Zone, a walled-off enclave in central Baghdad with towering palms, posh villas, well-stocked bars and resort-size swimming pools.

By the time Bremer departed in June 2004, Iraq was in a precarious state. The Iraqi army, which had been dissolved and refashioned by the CPA, was one-third the size he had pledged it would be. Seventy percent of police officers had not been screened or trained. Electricity generation was far below what Bremer had promised to achieve. And Iraq’s interim government had been selected not by elections but by Americans. Divisive issues were to be resolved later on, increasing the chances that tension over those matters would fuel civil strife.

To recruit the people he wanted, O’Beirne sought résumés from the offices of Republican congressmen, conservative think tanks and GOP activists. He discarded applications from those his staff deemed ideologically suspect, even if the applicants possessed Arabic language skills or postwar rebuilding experience.

Smith said O’Beirne once pointed to a young man’s résumé and pronounced him “an ideal candidate.” His chief qualification was that he had worked for the Republican Party in Florida during the presidential election recount in 2000.

O’Beirne, a former Army officer who is married to prominent conservative commentator Kate O’Beirne, did not respond to requests for comment.

He and his staff used an obscure provision in federal law to hire many CPA staffers as temporary political appointees, which exempted the interviewers from employment regulations that prohibit questions about personal political beliefs.

There were a few Democrats who wound up getting jobs with the CPA, but almost all of them were active-duty soldiers or State Department Foreign Service officers. Because they were career government employees, not temporary hires, O’Beirne’s office could not query them directly about their political leanings.

One former CPA employee who had an office near O’Beirne’s wrote an e-mail to a friend describing the recruitment process: “I watched résumés of immensely talented individuals who had sought out CPA to help the country thrown in the trash because their adherence to ‘the President’s vision for Iraq’ (a frequently heard phrase at CPA) was ‘uncertain.’ I saw senior civil servants from agencies like Treasury, Energy . . . and Commerce denied advisory positions in Baghdad that were instead handed to prominent RNC (Republican National Committee) contributors.”

As more and more of O’Beirne’s hires arrived in the Green Zone, the CPA’s headquarters in Hussein’s marble-walled former Republican Palace felt like a campaign war room. Bumper stickers and mouse pads praising President Bush were standard desk decorations. In addition to military uniforms and “Operation Iraqi Freedom” garb, “Bush-Cheney 2004” T-shirts were among the most common pieces of clothing.

“I’m not here for the Iraqis,” one staffer noted to a reporter over lunch. “I’m here for George Bush.”

When Gordon Robison, who worked in the Strategic Communications office, opened a care package from his mother to find a book by Paul Krugman, a liberal New York Times columnist, people around him stared. “It was like I had just unwrapped a radioactive brick,” he recalled.
Finance Background Not Required

Twenty-four-year-old Jay Hallen was restless. He had graduated from Yale two years earlier, and he didn’t much like his job at a commercial real-estate firm. His passion was the Middle East, and although he had never been there, he was intrigued enough to take Arabic classes and read histories of the region in his spare time.

He had mixed feelings about the war in Iraq, but he viewed the American occupation as a ripe opportunity. In the summer of 2003, he sent an e-mail to Reuben Jeffrey III, whom he had met when applying for a White House job a year earlier. Hallen had a simple query for Jeffrey, who was working as an adviser to Bremer: Might there be any job openings in Baghdad?

“Be careful what you wish for,” Jeffrey wrote in response. Then he forwarded Hallen’s resume to O’Beirne’s office.

Three weeks later, Hallen got a call from the Pentagon. The CPA wanted him in Baghdad. Pronto. Could he be ready in three to four weeks?

The day he arrived in Baghdad, he met with Thomas C. Foley, the CPA official in charge of privatizing state-owned enterprises. (Foley, a major Republican Party donor, went to Harvard Business School with President Bush.) Hallen was shocked to learn that Foley wanted him to take charge of reopening the stock exchange.

“Are you sure?” Hallen said to Foley. “I don’t have a finance background.”

It’s fine, Foley replied. He told Hallen that he was to be the project manager. He would rely on other people to get things done. He would be “the main point of contact.”

Before the war, Baghdad’s stock exchange looked nothing like its counterparts elsewhere in the world. There were no computers, electronic displays or men in colorful coats scurrying around on the trading floor. Trades were scrawled on pieces of paper and noted on large blackboards. If you wanted to buy or sell, you came to the exchange yourself and shouted your order to one of the traders. There was no air-conditioning. It was loud and boisterous. But it worked. Private firms raised hundreds of thousands of dollars by selling stock, and ordinary people learned about free enterprise.

The exchange was gutted by looters after the war. The first wave of American economic reconstruction specialists from the Treasury Department ignored it. They had bigger issues to worry about : paying salaries, reopening the banks, stabilizing the currency. But the brokers wanted to get back to work and investors wanted their money, so the CPA made the reopening a priority.

Quickly absorbing the CPA’s ambition during the optimistic days before the insurgency flared, Hallen decided that he didn’t just want to reopen the exchange, he wanted to make it the best, most modern stock market in the Arab world. He wanted to promulgate a new securities law that would make the exchange independent of the Finance Ministry, with its own bylaws and board of directors. He wanted to set up a securities and exchange commission to oversee the market. He wanted brokers to be licensed and listed companies to provide financial disclosures. He wanted to install a computerized trading and settlement system.

Iraqis cringed at Hallen’s plan. Their top priority was reopening the exchange, not setting up computers or enacting a new securities law. “People are broke and bewildered,” broker Talib Tabatabai told Hallen. “Why do you want to create enemies? Let us open the way we were.”

Tabatabai, who held a doctorate in political science from Florida State University, believed Hallen’s plan was unrealistic. “It was something so fancy, so great, that it couldn’t be accomplished,” he said.

But Hallen was convinced that major changes had to be enacted. “Their laws and regulations were completely out of step with the modern world,” he said. “There was just no transparency in anything. It was more of a place for Saddam and his friends to buy up private companies that they otherwise didn’t have a stake in.”

Opening the stock exchange without legal and structural changes, Hallen maintained, “would have been irresponsible and short-sighted.”

To help rewrite the securities law, train brokers and purchase the necessary computers, Hallen recruited a team of American volunteers. In the spring of 2004, Bremer approved the new law and simultaneously appointed the nine Iraqis selected by Hallen to become the exchange’s board of governors.

The exchange’s board selected Tabatabai as its chairman. The new securities law that Hallen had nursed into life gave the board control over the exchange’s operations, but it didn’t say a thing about the role of the CPA adviser. Hallen assumed that he’d have a part in decision-making until the handover of sovereignty. Tabatabai and the board, however, saw themselves in charge.

Tabatabai and the other governors decided to open the market as soon as possible. They didn’t want to wait several more months for the computerized trading system to be up and running. They ordered dozens of dry-erase boards to be installed on the trading floor. They used such boards to keep track of buying and selling prices before the war, and that’s how they’d do it again.

The exchange opened two days after Hallen’s tour in Iraq ended. Brokers barked orders to floor traders, who used their trusty white boards. Transactions were recorded not with computers but with small chits written in ink. CPA staffers stayed away, afraid that their presence would make the stock market a target for insurgents.

When Tabatabai was asked what would have happened if Hallen hadn’t been assigned to reopen the exchange, he smiled. “We would have opened months earlier. He had grand ideas, but those ideas did not materialize,” Tabatabai said of Hallen. “Those CPA people reminded me of Lawrence of Arabia.”
‘Loyalist’ Replaces Public Health Expert

The hiring of Bremer’s most senior advisers was settled upon at the highest levels of the White House and the Pentagon. Some, like Foley, were personally recruited by Bush. Others got their jobs because an influential Republican made a call on behalf of a friend or trusted colleague.

That’s what happened with James K. Haveman Jr., who was selected to oversee the rehabilitation of Iraq’s health care system.

Haveman, a 60-year-old social worker, was largely unknown among international health experts, but he had connections. He had been the community health director for the former Republican governor of Michigan, John Engler, who recommended him to Paul D. Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense.

Haveman was well-traveled, but most of his overseas trips were in his capacity as a director of International Aid, a faith-based relief organization that provided health care while promoting Christianity in the developing world. Before his stint in government, Haveman ran a large Christian adoption agency in Michigan that urged pregnant women not to have abortions.

Haveman replaced Frederick M. Burkle Jr., a physician with a master’s degree in public health and postgraduate degrees from Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth and the University of California at Berkeley. Burkle taught at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, where he specialized in disaster-response issues, and he was a deputy assistant administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, which sent him to Baghdad immediately after the war.

He had worked in Kosovo and Somalia and in northern Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. A USAID colleague called him the “single most talented and experienced post-conflict health specialist working for the United States government.”

But a week after Baghdad’s liberation, Burkle was informed he was being replaced. A senior official at USAID sent Burkle an e-mail saying the White House wanted a “loyalist” in the job. Burkle had a wall of degrees, but he didn’t have a picture with the president.

Haveman arrived in Iraq with his own priorities. He liked to talk about the number of hospitals that had reopened since the war and the pay raises that had been given to doctors instead of the still-decrepit conditions inside the hospitals or the fact that many physicians were leaving for safer, better paying jobs outside Iraq. He approached problems the way a health care administrator in America would: He focused on preventive measures to reduce the need for hospital treatment.

He urged the Health Ministry to mount an anti-smoking campaign, and he assigned an American from the CPA team — who turned out to be a closet smoker himself — to lead the public education effort. Several members of Haveman’s staff noted wryly that Iraqis faced far greater dangers in their daily lives than tobacco. The CPA’s limited resources, they argued, would be better used raising awareness about how to prevent childhood diarrhea and other fatal maladies.

Haveman didn’t like the idea that medical care in Iraq was free. He figured Iraqis should pay a small fee every time they saw a doctor. He also decided to allocate almost all of the Health Ministry’s $793 million share of U.S. reconstruction funds to renovating maternity hospitals and building new community medical clinics. His intention, he said, was “to shift the mind-set of the Iraqis that you don’t get health care unless you go to a hospital.”

But his decision meant there were no reconstruction funds set aside to rehabilitate the emergency rooms and operating theaters at Iraqi hospitals, even though injuries from insurgent attacks were the country’s single largest public health challenge.

Haveman also wanted to apply American medicine to other parts of the Health Ministry. Instead of trying to restructure the dysfunctional state-owned firm that imported and distributed drugs and medical supplies to hospitals, he decided to try to sell it to a private company.

To prepare it for a sale, he wanted to attempt something he had done in Michigan. When he was the state’s director of community health, he sought to slash the huge amount of money Michigan spent on prescription drugs for the poor by limiting the medications doctors could prescribe for Medicaid patients. Unless they received an exemption, physicians could only prescribe drugs that were on an approved list, known as a formulary.

Haveman figured the same strategy could bring down the cost of medicine in Iraq. The country had 4,500 items on its drug formulary. Haveman deemed it too large. If private firms were going to bid for the job of supplying drugs to government hospitals, they needed a smaller, more manageable list. A new formulary would also outline new requirements about where approved drugs could be manufactured, forcing Iraq to stop buying medicines from Syria, Iran and Russia, and start buying from the United States.

He asked the people who had drawn up the formulary in Michigan whether they wanted to come to Baghdad. They declined. So he beseeched the Pentagon for help. His request made its way to the Defense Department’s Pharmacoeconomic Center in San Antonio.

A few weeks later, three formulary experts were on their way to Iraq.

The group was led by Theodore Briski, a balding, middle-aged pharmacist who held the rank of lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy. Haveman’s order, as Briski remembered it, was: “Build us a formulary in two weeks and then go home.” By his second day in Iraq, Briski came to three conclusions. First, the existing formulary “really wasn’t that bad.” Second, his mission was really about “redesigning the entire Iraqi pharmaceutical procurement and delivery system, and that was a complete change of scope — on a grand scale.” Third, Haveman and his advisers “really didn’t know what they were doing.”

Haveman “viewed Iraq as Michigan after a huge attack,” said George Guszcza, an Army captain who worked on the CPA’s health team. “Somehow if you went into the ghettos and projects of Michigan and just extended it out for the entire state — that’s what he was coming to save.”

Haveman’s critics, including more than a dozen people who worked for him in Baghdad, contend that rewriting the formulary was a distraction. Instead, they said, the CPA should have focused on restructuring, but not privatizing, the drug-delivery system and on ordering more emergency shipments of medicine to address shortages of essential medicines. The first emergency procurement did not occur until early 2004, after the Americans had been in Iraq for more than eight months.

Haveman insisted that revising the formulary was a crucial first step in improving the distribution of medicines. “It was unwieldy to order 4,500 different drugs, and to test and distribute them,” he said.

When Haveman left Iraq, Baghdad’s hospitals were as decrepit as the day the Americans arrived. At Yarmouk Hospital, the city’s largest, rooms lacked the most basic equipment to monitor a patient’s blood pressure and heart rate, operating theaters were without modern surgical tools and sterile implements, and the pharmacy’s shelves were bare.

Nationwide, the Health Ministry reported that 40 percent of the 900 drugs it deemed essential were out of stock in hospitals. Of the 32 medicines used in public clinics for the management of chronic diseases, 26 were unavailable.

The new health minister, Aladin Alwan, beseeched the United Nations for help, and he asked neighboring nations to share what they could. He sought to increase production at a state-run manufacturing plant in the city of Samarra. And he put the creation of a new formulary on hold. To him, it was a fool’s errand.

“We didn’t need a new formulary. We needed drugs,” he said. “But the Americans did not understand that.”
A 9/11 Hero’s Public Relations Blitz

In May 2003, a team of law enforcement experts from the Justice Department concluded that more than 6,600 foreign advisers were needed to help rehabilitate Iraq’s police forces.

The White House dispatched just one: Bernie Kerik.

Bernard Kerik had more star power than Bremer and everyone else in the CPA combined. Soldiers stopped him in the halls of the Republican Palace to ask for his autograph or, if they had a camera, a picture. Reporters were more interested in interviewing him than they were the viceroy.

Kerik had been New York City’s police commissioner when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. His courage (he shouted evacuation orders from a block away as the south tower collapsed), his stamina (he worked around the clock and catnapped in his office for weeks), and his charisma (he was a master of the television interview) turned him into a national hero. When White House officials were casting about for a prominent individual to take charge of Iraq’s Interior Ministry and assume the challenge of rebuilding the Iraqi police, Kerik’s name came up. Bush pronounced it an excellent idea.

Kerik had worked in the Middle East before, as the security director for a government hospital in Saudi Arabia, but he was expelled from the country amid a government investigation into his surveillance of the medical staff. He lacked postwar policing experience, but the White House viewed that as an asset.

Veteran Middle East hands were regarded as insufficiently committed to the goal of democratizing the region. Post-conflict experts, many of whom worked for the State Department, the United Nations or nongovernmental organizations, were deemed too liberal. Men such as Kerik — committed Republicans with an accomplished career in business or government — were ideal. They were loyal, and they shared the Bush administration’s goal of rebuilding Iraq in an American image. With Kerik, there were bonuses: The media loved him, and the American public trusted him.

Robert Gifford, a State Department expert in international law enforcement, was one of the first CPA staff members to meet Kerik when he arrived in Baghdad. Gifford was the senior adviser to the Interior Ministry, which oversaw the police. Kerik was to take over Gifford’s job.

“I understand you are going to be the man, and we are here to support you,” Gifford told Kerik.

“I’m here to bring more media attention to the good work on police because the situation is probably not as bad as people think it is,” Kerik replied.

As they entered the Interior Ministry office in the palace, Gifford offered to brief Kerik. “It was during that period I realized he wasn’t with me,” Gifford recalled. “He didn’t listen to anything. He hadn’t read anything except his e-mails. I don’t think he read a single one of our proposals.”

Kerik wasn’t a details guy. He was content to let Gifford figure out how to train Iraqi officers to work in a democratic society. Kerik would take care of briefing the viceroy and the media. And he’d be going out for a few missions himself.

Kerik’s first order of business, less than a week after he arrived, was to give a slew of interviews saying the situation was improving. He told the Associated Press that security in Baghdad “is not as bad as I thought. Are bad things going on? Yes. But is it out of control? No. Is it getting better? Yes.” He went on NBC’s “Today” show to pronounce the situation “better than I expected.” To Time magazine, he said that “people are starting to feel more confident. They’re coming back out. Markets and shops that I saw closed one week ago have opened.”

When it came to his own safety, Kerik took no chances. He hired a team of South African bodyguards, and he packed a 9mm handgun under his safari vest.

The first months after liberation were a critical period for Iraq’s police. Officers needed to be called back to work and screened for Baath Party connections. They’d have to learn about due process, how to interrogate without torture, how to walk the beat. They required new weapons. New chiefs had to be selected. Tens of thousands more officers would have to be hired to put the genie of anarchy back in the bottle.

Kerik held only two staff meetings while in Iraq, one when he arrived and the other when he was being shadowed by a New York Times reporter, according to Gerald Burke, a former Massachusetts State Police commander who participated in the initial Justice Department assessment mission. Despite his White House connections, Kerik did not secure funding for the desperately needed police advisers. With no help on the way, the task of organizing and training Iraqi officers fell to U.S. military police soldiers, many of whom had no experience in civilian law enforcement.

“He was the wrong guy at the wrong time,” Burke said later. “Bernie didn’t have the skills. What we needed was a chief executive-level person. . . . Bernie came in with a street-cop mentality.”

Kerik authorized the formation of a hundred-man Iraqi police paramilitary unit to pursue criminal syndicates that had formed since the war, and he often joined the group on nighttime raids, departing the Green Zone at midnight and returning at dawn, in time to attend Bremer’s senior staff meeting, where he would crack a few jokes, describe the night’s adventures and read off the latest crime statistics prepared by an aide. The unit did bust a few kidnapping gangs and car-theft rings, generating a stream of positive news stories that Kerik basked in and Bremer applauded. But the all-nighters meant Kerik wasn’t around to supervise the Interior Ministry during the day. He was sleeping.

Several members of the CPA’s Interior Ministry team wanted to blow the whistle on Kerik, but they concluded any complaints would be brushed off. “Bremer’s staff thought he was the silver bullet,” a member of the Justice Department assessment mission said. “Nobody wanted to question the [man who was] police chief during 9/11.”

Kerik contended that he did his best in what was, ultimately, an untenable situation. He said he wasn’t given sufficient funding to hire foreign police advisers or establish large-scale training programs.

Three months after he arrived, Kerik attended a meeting of local police chiefs in Baghdad’s Convention Center. When it was his turn to address the group, he stood and bid everyone farewell. Although he had informed Bremer of his decision a few days earlier, Kerik hadn’t told most of the people who worked for him. He flew out of Iraq a few hours later.

“I was in my own world,” he said later. “I did my own thing.”