Veep Pence Loves Him Some Focus On The Family

Vice President Mike Pence.

The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Steve Rabey reports, it’s a family reunion over at James Dobson’s old stomping ground along the Ronald Reagan Highway:

Vice President Mike Pence will speak at Focus on the Family’s 40th anniversary celebration June 23, but concerns about security and capacity have scotched plans to welcome the public.

“At the time we announced plans for the event, we were not anticipating the vice president was going to come,” said spokesman Paul Batura. “We regret the change but are honored to host a sitting vice president and man of faith who shares our ideals.”

Focus, which started with a 15-minute weekly radio show, shares a long history of cooperation with Pence, who had a radio talk show he described as “Rush Limbaugh on decaf” before he was elected to Congress in 2000.

“Rush Limbaugh on decaf” is a new one on us, but it describes Vice President Mike Pence amusingly well. And of course, it’s not all niceties and Ward Cleaver advice columns at Focus on the Family:

Pence has been a consistent supporter of Focus’s pro-family agenda, opposing abortion as well as greater rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Focus on the Family Action, the ministry’s lobbying arm, petitioned Democratic members of Congress in 2011 to support then-Sen. Pence’s Broadcaster Freedom Act, which a Fox News report said “would ban the FCC from forcing broadcasters to give free airtime to opposing sides on controversial issues.”

As most readers know, speculation is widespread that Pence is relatively far along in planning for ascension to the presidency in the increasingly likely event that President Donald Trump flames out. We wouldn’t place bets on that happening before June 23, but we fully expect it will be a subject of conversation between Pence and the leadership at Focus on the Family when he arrives.

And yes, it’s a big part of why Trump’s ouster from office is only so exciting a prospect to liberals.

CD-2 GOP Primary: Nikkel vs. Lundberg?

Former Rep. BJ Nikkel.

With Rep. Jared Polis now running for governor of Colorado instead of re-election to his CD-2 seat, Republicans can be reasonably expected to mount a more vigorous challenge in 2018 than they might have otherwise. In 2014 and 2016, Rep. Polis faced two Republican challenges who could best be described as “minor candidates,” and defeated them both by substantially wider margins than the partisan spread for voters in the district.

With Polis now trading up, speculation for a Republican CD-2 challenger is focusing as of this writing on two possible candidates: state Sen. Kevin Lundberg, the arch-conservative state lawmaker who lost against Polis in 2012, and former state Rep. BJ Nikkel. Nikkel, who earned praise on both sides of the aisle for her support for civil unions legislation in 2012, was a major local proponent of now-President Donald Trump’s campaign–a gamble that could pay off now in the form of high-level support if she were to run for Congress, though it leaves her vulnerable with the anti-Trump majority of voters in general.

To be clear, Republicans are not deluded about their chances of winning in this Democratic-leaning district, and privately acknowledge that a destructively bitter Democratic primary is one of the few viable paths to competitiveness here. Given Sen. Lundberg’s propensity for just plain wacky fringe-right public statements, we would argue that Nikkel is the candidate of choice for any Republican looking seriously at competing in this race.

Or, you know, somebody else. But at this point it’s tough to see who that might be.

CD-2 Suitors Include Two Gun Safety Luminaries

Shannon Watts.

The Denver Post’s Jesse Paul and Mark Matthews reporting–after Rep. Jared Polis’ announcement yesterday that he will run for governor of Colorado in 2018, a bevy of potential Democratic successors is already lining up–including two names familiar to everyone in Colorado who has followed the debates over gun safety legislation in recent years:

Within about a day of U.S. Rep. Jared Polis formally announcing his run for Colorado governor, two Democrats — Ken Toltz and Shannon Watts, both gun-control advocates — have already said they are eyeing the Boulder Democrat’s congressional seat.

It’s unlikely to stop there, however. Several other hopefuls soon could join a race that likely will be settled in the Democratic primary. The 10-county district includes the cities of Boulder, Fort Collins and Vail, and Democrats have a big edge in voter registration.

Other potential candidates for Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District include Joe Neguse, who served on the University of Colorado Board of Regents for that seat, and Dan Gibbs, a Summit County commissioner.

Ken Toltz ran for Congress a number of years ago, and has been a fixture at debates at the Colorado state capitol over gun safety legislation as the head of Safe Campus Colorado. Shannon Watts, on the other hand, has nationwide name recognition as the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America–one of the highest-profile groups advocating for tighter gun laws following several mass shootings around the country–though she has only lived in Colorado for a few years.

Toltz and Watts are close enough policywise (and personally as friends) that it’s likely that only one of them would mount a serious bid for the CD-2 nomination–and of those two Watts almost certainly has the stronger shot. With well-known and popular Democrats like Joe Neguse and Dan Gibbs now looking seriously at the race, it may well take more than single-issue politics to grab this nomination.

“I want to be a ‘person of interest,'” writes Colorado Trump official

(Career aspirations! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

UPDATE: Former Colorado Trump Campaign staffer Dede Laugesen replied to my request for clarification of her Facebook post below: “Facebook is a place of friendly comments and such, and I was just making an off-the-cuff remark about what it must be like to be a celebrity like Nigil Farage,” said Laugesen. “That’s all.”

——

At this point, you’d think no one in the Trump campaign is running around saying, “I want to be a ‘person of interest.'”

But wait, there is such a person, and her name is Dede Laugesen, the Trump Campaign’s Colorado Coalitions Director.

She’s been on Facebook promoting the June 17 appearance in Colorado of Nigel Farage, the Brexit leader who’s reportedly a “person of interest” in FBI’s investigation of Russian meddling in the last election.

In one post promoting Farage, obtained from a source,  Laugesen wrote, “I want to be a ‘person of interest’! That’s why I’m going to learn from the master himself. Nigel Farage visits Colorado June 17.”

Laguesen did not return a call seeking clarification, so I’m forced to speculate here, but if Laugesen is joking, it symbolizes the extent to which the Trump campaign itself isn’t taking the FBI investigation–or the attack by Russia on our elections–seriously.

U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) showed the same indifference when he recently told a conservative radio station that journalists are “inventing this Russia story.” So did U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) when he suggested in February that the FBI should be investigated for Russia-related leaks.

If it’s not a joke, then you wonder if Laugesen knows why Farage is reportedly a person of interest. After all, she says she wants to learn from him. I mean, Laugesen was Trump’s Colorado coalitions director. Did the coalition include Russia?

That’s a serious question for a Trump official who’s telling the world she wants to be a person of interest in the FBI’s investigation of the president’s election campaign. I’m sorry, this is not a joking matter.

Donald Trump is the Greatest President in the History of History

President Donald Trump.

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, the White House just keeps getting weirder, and weirder, and weirder…

Donald Trump did something very different in his Cabinet meeting Monday.

First, he reviewed the various alleged successes of his first 143 days and made this remarkable claim: “Never has there been a president….with few exceptions…who’s passed more legislation, who’s done more things than I have.” [Pols emphasis]

Um, ok.  While Trump has signed a number of executive orders and actions — the most high profile of which, the so-called “travel ban” was, again, blocked by a court on Monday — what he hasn’t really done is pass actual legislation through Congress. The health care bill is tied up in Senate machinations. Tax reform hasn’t moved an inch. Funding for the border wall hasn’t happened. And so on…

…But, that wasn’t even close to the weirdest part of the Cabinet meeting!

Once Trump finished touting his administration’s accomplishments, he turned to several of his newly-minted Cabinet secretaries like Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. Each of those Cabinet secretaries lavished praise on Trump, which he accepted without comment but with a broad smile.

At first, I thought Trump was just going to have the new members of the Cabinet spend a few minutes praising him. NOPE!  It soon became clear that Trump planned to have every Cabinet member speak. And when I say “speak” what I really mean is “praise Trump for his accomplishments, his foresight, his just being awesome.”

Cillizza quotes White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus as saying the following about President Trump: “We thank you for the opportunity and blessing to serve your agenda.”

This is probably going to get worse before it gets anywhere close to better. If you are a member of Trump’s cabinet or senior staff, how do you look yourself in the mirror?

Monday Open Thread

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”

–George Bernard Shaw

Jared Polis Shakes Up 2018 Governor’s Race


Big news this Sunday morning from the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews: Congressman Jared Polis of Boulder will run for governor of Colorado in 2018, setting up the biggest Democratic primary in Colorado politics since…well, Polis’ last primary in 2008:

Congressman Jared Polis plans to join the crowded race for governor this week, and in doing so, the Boulder Democrat will advocate a vision for Colorado that tests how far to the left the state has shifted politically in the last decade.

In an interview with The Denver Post, the fifth-term lawmaker said his platform will focus on three initiatives: getting Colorado to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2040, ensuring parents can access free, full-day preschool or kindergarten for children age 3 and older, and encouraging companies in the state to provide stock options to employees.

“This is a campaign of big, bold ideas, and I’m trying to make them happen,” Polis said. “We want a Colorado that works for everybody.”

Rep. Polis’ run has been anticipated by Democrats for some time, but the final go/no-go was kept pretty close to the vest until this past week. It’s a decision that Polis surely didn’t make lightly, and most certainly reflects polling he’s done showing this race to be winnable for him.

Polis’ great wealth gives him a built-in advantage in any race, but there’s more to a primary between Polis and nominal frontrunner Rep. Ed Perlmutter than who can raise the most money. Polis’ bold campaign theme of 100% renewable energy could resonate with a segment of the Democratic base that’s been discontented for a number of years in Colorado as the battles over oil and gas development along the urbanizing Front Range have escalated. Polis has been a leader in that complicated and fractious battle, and if he retains the trust of the environmental left going into this race it could be a crucial edge.

Obviously, Polis’ entry into the 2018 gubernatorial race forces all of us to reset our calculations here. But the biggest takeaway for today is the fact that Democrats are feeling very good about 2018, and there’s going to be healthy competition for what could be the fruits of an historic victory. Between Jared Polis and Ed Perlmutter, Democrats have a choice of two of the biggest names in Colorado politics–and that’s got to feel better than a primary between a district attorney and a couple of unknown rich guys.

Game on, folks.

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

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

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

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

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

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

Proud Boys in Boulder June 3, 2017

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

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

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Weekend Open Thread

“There are persons who, when they cease to shock us, cease to interest us.”

–F. H. Bradley

Hickenlooper Signs Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, a big win for the ACLU of Colorado as Gov. John Hickenlooper signs legislation to reform the controversial civil asset forfeiture process in Colorado:

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Friday will sign into law a controversial bill seeking to change how officers and sheriff’s deputies seize money and property, against the urging of the Colorado law enforcement community and local government groups who say it could hamper crime fighting efforts.

The Democrat’s decision came within about an hour of his deadline to sign or veto measures passed during the legislative session. It was announced by the state Senate GOP and state Senate Democrats…

Those supporting the legislation, from the ACLU of Colorado to ProgressNow, say it provides greater due-process protections to Coloradans and would add accountability to the controversial practice.

State Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, and state Sens. Tim Neville, R-Littleton, and Daniel Kagan, D-Cherry Hills Village, were the bill’s prime backers in the legislature.

The bill’s prime Democratic sponsor Rep. Leslie Herod Tweeted this clip from the signing ceremony in celebration:

House Bill 17-1313 passed the General Assembly with strong bipartisan support, but Hickenlooper immediately came under intense pressure to veto the bill from the Colorado Chiefs of Police and other pro-law enforcement interests. Some comments from Hickenlooper as he deliberated signing seems to indicate he might veto the bill, but today its bipartisan proponents are celebrating together–a special event indeed between opposites like Republican Sen. Tim Neville and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman.

Today is one of those rare Fridays in Colorado politics where almost everyone goes home happy. Enjoy.

Caption This Photo: Cory Gardner Shown To Scale!

A photo that appeared on the Twitters this week, from a middle school tour of the U.S. Capitol hosted by Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner–like putting a quarter (or a banana) into a photo to provide some objective measurement of size:

Never realized Gardner was such a “small businessman,” did you? After all, it’s so rare to see him in public.

Well folks, now you know. Big hair. Small Cory.

Get More Smarter on Friday (June 9)

The President is not a liar.” Welcome to the history books, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. 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…

► Donald Trump’s Twitter account, which may or may not be making autonomous decisions about the fate of the free world, finally responded to FBI Director James Comey’s testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee. As the Washington Post explains:

President Trump broke his public silence Friday morning on former FBI director James B. Comey’s testimony to Congress in the Russia probe, accusing him in a tweet of lying under oath and calling him a “leaker.”

A day after he had allowed surrogates to respond for him, Trump took to Twitter to attack Comey directly, writing: “Despite so many false statements and lies, total and complete vindication … and WOW, Comey is a leaker!”

Trump’s statement came as surrogates fanned out to defend the president and his personal lawyer was preparing to file a “complaint” early next week over Comey’s testimony to the Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s Office and the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to a person close to the legal team.

A spokesman for the Justice Department Inspector General declined to comment on the matter, which was first reported by Fox News and CNN.

Trump’s personal lawyer is preparing to file a “complaint,” eh? Nothing screams innocence like a strongly-worded letter. There will be exclamation points!!!

And what about other high-profile Republicans? Incredibly, they appear to be sticking by Trump’s side.

 

► President Trump will take a few questions from reporters today — theoretically, anyway — when he holds a joint press conference with Romanian President Klaus Iohanni at the White House. Chris Cillizza of CNN has a list of eight questions he’d love to ask Trump. One of the biggest questions on that list is whether or not there are audiotapes of Trump’s Oval Office discussion with Comey. The former FBI Director certainly hopes they exist.

 

► Colorado politicos reacted to the Comey hearings along largely partisan lines, though Senators Michael Bennet (D-Denver) and Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) agreed on the need for further investigations into Trump’s Russian ties. The three Colorado Democrats running for Attorney General also weighed in on the story.

Elsewhere, the Colorado Independent takes a look at how Colorado media outlets reported on Comey’s testimony.

 

► Voters in the United Kingdom dealt a serious blow to Prime Minister Theresa May and her Conservative Party on Thursday. May’s decision last month to call a snap election backfired bigly, as The Guardian explains:

Jeremy Corbyn said the face of British politics had changed and called on Theresa May to resign after her snap general election left Britain with a hung parliament 11 days before Brexit talks begin.

Speaking as he was returned as MP for Islington North, the Labour leader declared: “Politics has changed. Politics isn’t going back into the box where it was before. What’s happened is people have said they’ve had quite enough of austerity politics.”

Corbyn said May had called the election to assert her authority. “She wanted a mandate. Well, the mandate she’s got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support and lost confidence. I would have thought that is enough for her to go.”

The Conservative leader appeared crushed as she accepted her victory in the constituency of Maidenhead with a shaky speech in which she repeated her resolve to provide the stability the country needed before Brexit talks.

Heavy losses by Conservative candidates left May without a true majority in Parliament, forcing the Conservative leader into a coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party to maintain her tenuous hold on the top job in England. The New York Times has more coverage on the U.K. election results and what it means for the United States.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

Good News! Week of June 3-June 10

(Get More…Gooder! – promoted by Colorado Pols)

This diary, which I hope to publish every Friday, will be all about small victories in the big battles: People doing the right thing for the right reasons. Stories of bravery, generosity, caring, and integrity. Where possible, I’ve connected this to Colorado politics and stories.

This is a selfish project for me – I need to see those small victories and uplifting stories just to keep going as an activist. Without them, it’s too easy to be overwhelmed by the flood of bad news and attacks on democracy and civil rights, and simply stop trying to keep politicians accountable.

There are many “good news” items I haven’t covered; more possible categories for good news are: Race, discrimination, justice, bizarre news, animals, marches, town halls, community organizing, “the resistance”. Where another organization such as ProgressNow Colorado reports on “How to fight back this week”, I’m not going to duplicate coverage. As always, add your own “good news” stories and commentary.

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