Weekend Open Thread

“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.”

–Carl Jung

Boulder Abortion Doc To Congress: Get Bent

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).

As the Boulder Daily Camera’s Alex Burness reports:

Warren Hern, the abortion doctor currently being investigated by a congressional panel on “infant lives,” says he won’t comply with the panel’s request for medical documents from his Boulder clinic.

Hern wrote Wednesday in a response to the panel that he feels subjected to a “witch hunt” and called Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, who is chairing the investigation, a “shameless coward.”

Blackburn, a member of the transition team for President-elect Donald Trump, sent Hern — one of the country’s few late-term abortion providers — a letter Nov. 2 informing him that he is the subject of an investigation into “the practices of second and third trimester abortionists.”

Blackburn asked Hern to provide information on care for an “infant born alive” and whether that’s ever happened at his clinic, what happened to the infant afterward, and the names of any people who cared for the infant. She also sought any death certificates or referrals to funeral homes related to the infant.

Dr. Warren Hern is no stranger to the ugly side of abortion politics as the state’s only provider of late-term abortions. Late-term abortions are almost exclusively carried out for urgent medical reasons, related to the health of the mother or discovery of a serious birth defect–which doesn’t fit well into the GOP’s “anti-abortion porn,” as Hern calls it, but it’s the simple fact. As Burness reports, Dr. Hern was also a friend of Dr. George Tiller, the Kansas abortion provider who was shot to death in his church in 2009.

In 2014, Republicans across America and in Colorado spent most of the election season trying to convince voters that despite their records and rhetoric, it would be “impossible” to take away reproductive rights. Voters believed them, and grew to resent Democratic “fixation” on the issue with lots of encouragement from GOP-friendly talking heads.

Then the GOP-controlled Congress spent most of the next two years “investigating” Planned Parenthood, and Donald Trump won the presidency in part on a promise to overturn Roe v. Wade.

So hopefully we’re done denying that this is what Republicans want.

Brown People, Marijuana Industry in Colorado Sweat Jeff Sessions

UPDATE: Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver says “hell no” to Sen. Jeff Sessions:

“As the president’s top advisor on matters of law and justice, the man or woman in this position must possess a firm commitment to civil rights,” DeGette said. “However, Senator Sessions’ regressive record on immigration, LGBT equality and civil liberties, along with his shocking comments on the NAACP and the KKK, make him unequivocally unfit to serve in this role. I urge President-elect Trump not to make this nomination, and instead to make good on his promise to unify our divided nation. And if he does not, members of the Senate must reject Senator Sessions for this critical role.”

Sessions is the U.S. Senate’s leading anti-immigration voice, urging severe restrictions on visas and drastically expanded immigration enforcement while blocking practical reforms to our country’s outdated immigration system. While in the Senate, he has vigorously opposed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and voted for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Earlier in his career, when nominated by President Ronald Reagan to be a federal judge, he was turned down by the Senate amid repeated allegations of racist language, criticism of the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP, and a purported joke about the Ku Klux Klan. While advising the campaign earlier this year, Senator Sessions supported Trump’s suggestion to institute a ban on Muslims entering the United States and his opposition to the 14th Amendment, which confers citizenship on people born in this country.

“This proposed nomination is another disturbing sign of where the Trump administration is headed,” DeGette noted. “If Senator Sessions was not fit to be a federal judge, he’s not fit to be Attorney General. His actions and attitudes on civil liberties make him completely wrong for the job.”


Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

Westword’s Michael Roberts reports, as news breaks today that GOP President-elect Donald Trump wants Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to be the next U.S. Attorney General:

In an interview with Westword, Marijuana Majority chairman and founder Tom Angell also expressed concern about the marijuana views of the person who Trump would choose to fill the position of attorney general in his administration. Among the names floated at the time were New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who’d vowed to crack down on Colorado’s marijuana system during his own failed run for the presidency, and onetime New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, another well-known weed hater.

In the end, neither Christie nor Giuliani made the cut. Instead, Trump has nominated Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, one of his earliest supporters in the U.S. Senate and among those who stuck by him even after the release of an Access Hollywood recording in which the president-elect joked about groping women.

Sessions has plenty of political baggage, much of it owing to what NPR has described as his “history of racially provocative remarks” — one of which had to do with marijuana. After his 1986 nomination as a federal district judge by then-President Ronald Reagan, he was said to have maintained that he thought members of the Ku Klux Klan “were okay until I found out they smoked pot.”

It’s expected that Sessions will strongly deny any racist sentiments during his confirmation hearings in the Senate–where he will face many friendly fellow Republicans, but could also fail spectacularly if the questions about his long record from Democrats get the better of him. As for marijuana, we doubt Sessions will offer the same defense despite the growing number of states that have legalized. Despite Sessions’ conservative ideology at least nominally in favor of “states’ rights,” he can be expected to blissfully ignore the Tenth Amendment when it comes to stopping the spread of the evil devil-weed.

Obviously, Sessions’ history of racism is much more disturbing than Sessions’ opposition to marijuana, but neither is likely to make him a very popular figure in Colorado. Or for that matter California, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, or any other state that has legalized marijuana in recent years.

In a perfect world, the racism would be enough to disqualify Sessions, as it did when he was nominated for a federal judgeship in the 1980s. But perhaps Trump can be persuaded to reconsider Sessions by the money being made on weed?

After all, he is a businessman.

Will Colorado public officials be more careful about spreading fake news?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Republicans did their part in spreading fake news and/or falsehoods on Facebook during the election, as Charles Buchanan has been pointing out on the Colorado Times Recorder.

Below, I’ve pulled together a few examples from Buchanan’s posts (See more here.), and they raise the question of whether public officials, as well as partisan entities, will be more careful, going forward, about fact checking information before they post it on Facebook.

Before and after the election, reporters have been spotlighting fake news and its possible impact on Clinton. Fake news appears to be especially popular among conservative audiences.

In the coming months, I’ll check in with public officials, Republican or Democrat, if they’ve posted or shared fake news or falsehoods on Facebook.

We’ll see if they have sufficient respect for public discourse to remove their inaccurate information, once it’s been proven false.

Here are recent examples, from Buchanan’s work:

In August, Colorado State Sen. Laura Woods (R-Arvada), who lost her seat to Democrat Rachel Zenzinger, shared a false meme that vaccines causes autism.


Tim Ryan Challenging Nancy Pelosi for Minority Leader

Ohio Rep. Tim RyanAs Politico reports:

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan will challenge House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for the top Democratic leadership post, the first real test of her leadership since Democrats lost the House in 2010.

“Vote for me and I will dedicate all of my energy to lead us back into the majority. Our constituents deserve nothing less,” Ryan, 43, wrote in a letter to colleagues Thursday afternoon.

“Under our current leadership, Democrats have been reduced to our smallest congressional minority since 1929. This should indicate to all of us that keeping our leadership team completely unchanged will simply lead to more disappointment in future elections,” he added.

There’s significant unrest within the caucus after Democrats’ poor showing on Election Day, but it’s unclear if that will translate into significant support for Ryan. Pelosi’s leadership has clearly been shaken but the longtime leader has a loyal following in her caucus and many think it would take a near-miracle to unseat her.

The 76-year-old Pelosi has helmed the Democratic Congressional caucus for 14 years, and while it would be considered an upset for Ryan to defeat her, a series of disappointing election results certainly help strengthen his argument.

Jon Keyser’s Failed Senate Campaign Is Back in the News

As Marshall Zelinger of Denver7 tweets:

Jon Keyser is the former half-term state legislator whose brief foray into federal politics earlier this year ended in disaster when questions emerged about the validity of petition signatures used to get his name on the Republican Primary ballot for U.S. Senate. Petition gatherer Maureen Moss got tossed under the bus and Keyser managed to keep his name on the ballot, only to get soundly defeated by eventual GOP Senate nominee Darryl Glenn.

We haven’t heard much of anything about Keyser since he all but vanished just before the June 28th Primary; based on what just transpired with Moss, we’d say things could have turned out worse for Keyser and his dog.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (November 17)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowSnow! Sorta. 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.


► President-elect Donald Trump is preparing to meet his first world leader today when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives in New York. As CNN reports, Trump’s team is already making it clear to world leaders such as Abe that his campaign rhetoric was only that — rhetoric:

It’s not hard to see why Prime Minister Abe wants to get first word with Trump.

The Japanese government was concerned by remarks made by Trump during his campaign about relations between the two countries. In particular, officials were rattled by Trump’s suggestions that Japan, which until last year had a pacifist constitution, should obtain nuclear weapons to protect itself from North Korea…

A special adviser sent in advance by Abe to meet with members of Trump’s transition team said he was told Japan shouldn’t take Trump’s campaign talk literally. [Pols emphasis]

“All the people shared the same opinion — that we don’t need to be nervous about every single word and phrase said during Mr Trump’s campaign,” Katsuyuki Kawai told Japanese broadcaster NHK.

Sorry, Trump supporters: It’s beginning to look like everything His Hairness said during the campaign was just…words.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports on concerns that Trump’s meeting with Abe is taking place before the President-elect has even been briefed on Japanese-American relations:

The 5 p.m. session with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump’s first with a foreign leader since the election, has raised questions among some in Washington’s foreign policy community because Trump has apparently not been briefed by the State Department. Officials said Wednesday that the transition team has not reached out to State.

A former State Department official said such a meeting with a foreign leader would normally be preceded by numerous briefings from key diplomats…

Welp. Here we go…

Oh, never mind. Trump says everything is going “so smoothly.”


► President-elect Trump met with Members of Congress on Thursday and apparently received promises for a short-term spending bill that the Republican caucus doesn’t like at all. From the Washington Post:

House Republicans bowed to his wishes and announced plans to extend government funding through March, despite warnings from top GOP senators that such a spending strategy could wreak havoc on the first several months of his presidency. [Pols emphasis]

The House Appropriations Committee chairman, Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), said Thursday that his staff would immediately begin work on a stopgap spending bill that would keep the government open through March 31 after consultation with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.


► The Colorado Secretary of State’s office has released ballot return data with breakdowns for party, age, and gender. This will be the last ballot return update issued by the SOS until election results are certified on December 8.


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

The Get More Smarter Show: November 16, 2016

This week on Get More Smarter: Jason Bane and Alan Franklin recap the 2016 elections in Colorado, with particular attention to all the things they (and almost everybody else) got wrong. We got some important stuff wrong. Mea culpa. At least we’re honest.

Missed an episode of the Get More Smarter Show? Click here to catch up!

Denver Neighbors Help Clean Up Pro-Trump Hate



A sad story with a happy ending today from Denver7’s Blair Miller:

A transgender woman says she woke up to find her car vandalized with hate speech, a swastika and a pro-Donald Trump message in Denver’s Capitol Hill Wednesday morning, and police are now investigating…

Among the messages painted on her car were: “fag,” “die he she”, “tranny,” and “Trump.” A swastika was painted on the back tailgate.

A message saying, “Not my president,” appears to have been written on her car prior to the vandalism.

Amber Timmons’ story is unfortunately consistent with incidents that have been reported across the nation of vandalism attacks and acts of violence in the name of President-elect Donald Trump. The Summit Daily News reports on another such incident that occurred in Breckenridge:

After the election, on the morning of Nov. 12, a Breckenridge man reported to Summit County Sheriff’s deputies that his house had been targeted with profane, pro-Trump chalk graffiti and phallic symbols.

The man did not have any political signage in his yard and did not know why only his house appeared to be targeted, although he noted that he was concerned “about the current political climate” because he had two African-American children living at his home.

As of this writing, Ms. Timmons’ original Facebook post has been overrun by internet trolls accusing her of faking the incident. But Timmons’ neighbors responded to the crime with a heartening show of support–Denver7:

Timmons wrote on the post that police were called and showed up to investigate. She added that she went back inside her home, and walked back out to find encouraging sticky notes reading, “You are loved,” and “I am deeply sorry…love and peace wins always!” [Pols emphasis]

…By 11 a.m., Timmons posted that a police report had been taken and that her friends had come over and were cleaning the paint off – apparently with quite good success, according to pictures she posted.


And that, dear reader, is more like the Colorado we know. Let the love be the story, not the hate.

Yes, Trump Gets a Colorado Capitol Rotunda Portrait

President-elect Donald Trump.

President-elect Donald Trump.

As FOX 31’s Michael Konopasek reports, to the victor go the spoils:

State officials soon will begin the lengthy process of commissioning a portrait of President-elect Donald Trump to hang in the Colorado State Capitol.

In the statehouse rotunda is a tribute to the American presidency and the 43 men who have served it.

Every day, visitors admire the art by Lawrence Williams, who painted each portrait from President George Washington to President George W. Bush.

Konopasek reports that the artist responsible for all of the Colorado Capitol rotunda presidential portraits died before completing one for President Barack Obama, and the task then fell to a gifted Colorado Springs painter named Sarah Boardman.

Boardman is certainly qualified to paint Donald Trump’s portrait, and we expect she’ll get the job–but it occurred to us there are plenty of them on the market already. And it’s possible others might want to take a (pardon us) fresh crack at it.

Wednesday Open Thread

“In any society, fanatics who hate don’t hate only me–they hate you, too. They hate everybody.”

–Elie Wiesel

Rep. Polis Responds To Stephen Bannon Appointment

Stephen Bannon.

Stephen Bannon.

Here’s a statement from Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder, whose office has been inundated with calls about the announcement by President-elect Donald Trump that controversial political strategist Stephen Bannon will take a high-level advisory job in the new administration:

Today community member after community member has contacted my office about the appointment of Steve Bannon to the Trump administration. I am heartened to serve a community that will not stand idly by. The country needs you now more than ever. They need to know you care and are willing to advocate for the principles and values we hold dear.

While Congress has no authority to stop Trump from appointing Bannon, like you – I choose to use my voice to speak out against discrimination. And like many of you, I find Steve Bannon’s history of racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic rhetoric sickening. That is why I signed onto a letter with fellow U.S. Representatives asking Trump to reconsider. [Pols emphasis]

I assure you that in Congress, I will defend the freedom of all Americans, and advocate on behalf of those who Trump targeted during the election – women, Muslims, immigrants, people of color, and all minorities.

We know the truth. The truth is that our freedom and liberties are all tied together, and none of us can be truly free and liberated while holding back another group.

I still have faith in the American people, and I ask you to keep that faith too. Give your neighbors the benefit of doubt and go out of your way to be welcoming.

I remind you of what MLK said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”