Charges of false imprisonment, kidnapping against Maketa should stand

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Terry Maketa,   former El Paso County Sheriff,  resigned under pressure in 2014 after local  journalists began writing exposes of his sexual harassment misconduct and financial malfeasance.  His sheepish, wanna-be sexy shower selfie became a national laughing stock. Maketa’s reputation is shot; he will forever be the corrupt, sleazy, “shirtless sheriff” in the public’s mind. However, two of the charges in the indictment show a darker side: Maketa was an apologist and enabler of domestic violence by one of his employees.

Maketa was indicted by a grand jury on charges of extortion, official misconduct, witness tampering, kidnapping and false imprisonment in May of 2016 and he served one day in prison. The shower selfie was replaced by a mug shot. (Left, 5/26/16, from the Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office). Maketa

Terry Maketa Mug Shot, Gilpin County Sheriff's OfficeMaketa’s trial was postponed until June 6, 2017.

This week, George Brauchler, Colorado District Attorney, gubernatorial candidate, and special prosecutor in the Maketa case, has recommended that two of the nine outstanding charges against Maketa be dismissed. Why? Not for lack of evidence; the 11 page indictment leaves no doubt as to the facts of the case. Perhaps Maketa’s $10 million lawsuit against any organization that said anything negative about him from 2014-2016 might just be part of the reason Brauchler is pressing to dismiss the charges. Perhaps a deal has been made.

The charges in question are for kidnapping and false imprisonment of a female jail employee, who had complained of being beaten by her police officer boyfriend, a Deputy under Maketa’s supervision. The 11 page indictment relates how the woman was pressured to recant her testimony against her abuser, and was held in jail. Per Kirk Mitchell’s reporting in the Denver Post:

Her boyfriend, a deputy, had been arrested and later fired for beating her. Maketa allegedly told the woman to recant her statement and “tell investigators that she instigated the incident in order to allow (the deputy) to get his job back,” the indictment said. He later ordered her arrest, the indictment says.

The officer who arrested the woman felt that there was insufficient evidence to hold her, but had herself been pressured to make the arrest to protect the accused Deputy. Maketa’s co-defendents, fellow officers Paula Presley and Juan San Agustin, were  also indicted for kidnapping, false imprisonment, and tampering with a witness.

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Good news! Week of June 11- 17, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate…that’s what this diary is about. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine. And that’s fine. Something I’m missing? Add it in the comments.

LGBT:

Massive Marches may move us, but the  biggest and gayest parade this year in Colorado will be Pridefest, this Sunday June 18. Civic Center Park will host the celebration all weekend. For your daily minimum requirement of fabulousness, go to Pridefest Denver. (Photo from 2016 Pridefest, Wikipedia Commons)

Pridefest Denver 2016 -from Wikipedia commons

LGBT hero: One of the Capitol Police agents wounded in the recent terrorist attack in DC was Crystal Griner, a married lesbian woman. Griner and her fellow officers, including David Bailey , rushed the shooter, taking him down and preventing a massacre.

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It’s “Too Soon”–But Not To Fundraise!

THURSDAY UPDATE #2: New York Daily News:

A prominent Colorado politician decided to use Wednesday’s shooting on a GOP baseball practice as a fundraising opportunity.

“The left is out of control. Their violent actions are un-American, and it needs to stop!” reads an email signed by Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville.

The fundraising note went out just hours after gunman James Hodgkinson opened fire on a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., where congressional lawmakers were practicing for Thursday’s Congressional Baseball Game.

—–

THURSDAY UPDATE: 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark reports:

Raw Story’s David Edwards:

Neville insisted to KUSA-TV that letter’s main purpose was not to raise funds even though it asks for contributions of at least $25.

“I wouldn’t consider it a pure fundraising email,” Neville said. [Pols emphasis] “The main purpose was to encourage people not to be silenced by fear.”

—–

Local Daily Beast contributor Dave Maney directs us to a fundraising email sent earlier today from GOP Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, invoking today’s shooting at a Republican congressional baseball team practice in Alexandria, Virginia today as the tragic situation was still more or less live news. Excerpted:

Unruly protesters trashing Civic Center Park and clashing with cops in the streets.

Mock beheadings of President Trump by Kathy Griffin.

And now an ASSASSINATION attempt on Republican lawmakers!

The hate-inspired violent rhetoric against conservatives and Republicans was already at an all-time fever pitch before today, but now it just got very real.

The left is out of control. Their violent actions are un-American, and it needs to stop!

Earlier today, a radical anti-trump protester opened fire on Republican staff and lawmakers at a practice for the congressional baseball game in Virginia…

Today’s attack is tantamount to political terrorism aimed at shutting up Conservatives, Republicans, and Americans like you.

Frankly, I lay the blame squarely at the feet of “tolerance-preaching progressives” and their accomplices in the media who allowed violent rhetoric to get so out of control. [Pols emphasis]

I’m talking about so-called “journalists” like Kathy Griffin and other hollywood-elites who incentivize violence against Republicans by staging beheadings and celebrate fictitious assassinations as “artistic expression.”

No wonder why the socialist piece of trash who tried to kill Republican lawmakers today thought his deranged actions were justified…

Here’s what you can do to help:

First, join me in praying for a speedy recovery for Congressman Scalise and the staff and law enforcement who were wounded in today’s attack.

Second, join me in calling on the media to denounce horrific attacks like this and to call for an end to the violent political rhetoric on the left that they’ve inspired.

Finally, if you can, please show us that you’re not backing down by chipping-in $50 or $25 to Colorado Liberty PAC today so we can retake the State House in 2018. [Pols emphasis]

Your contribution today will help us advance our conservative values through passionate and peaceful civil discourse that makes our country great.

For Freedom,

Patrick Neville
Republican Leader
Colorado House of Representatives

The aftermath of high-profile shooting incidents in the United States very quickly turns into a political debate, as gun rights supporters struggle with gun control proponents to cast the emerging details in terms favorable to their stand on the issue. A meta-debate almost always takes place alongside this discussion, arguing whether the timing is right to talk about the overarching political issues in the immediate aftermath of a tragic event–while survivors are still grieving, or even while the event is still unfolding. Activists on the issue joke that it’s always “too soon” to talk about guns, right up until it’s “too late.”

In both of these debates, Neville and Republicans he supports via the Colorado Liberty PAC have ceded the high ground. They have politicized this man’s horrific actions in exactly the way they refused to accept with countervailing examples–like the man who walked into a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs in November of 2015 and started shooting. We feel very confident that as many or more liberals are looking inward today at their own anger than conservatives re-examined their rhetorical excesses after the Planned Parenthood shooting.

And that rank hypocrisy still wasn’t enough. They tried to make money off it.

It’s too far. It’s too much. And we don’t want to hear how it’s “too soon” ever again.

Trump Officially Under Investigation For Obstruction of Justice

Via the Washington Post, President Donald Trump now officially on the hot seat:

The special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election is interviewing senior intelligence officials as part of a widening probe that now includes an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice, officials said.

The move by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III to investigate Trump’s own conduct marks a major turning point in the nearly year-old FBI investigation, which until recently focused on Russian meddling during the presidential campaign and on whether there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Investigators have also been looking for any evidence of possible financial crimes among Trump associates, officials said.

Trump had received private assurances from former FBI Director James B. Comey starting in January that he was not personally under investigation. Officials say that changed shortly after Comey’s firing.

This can’t be called unexpected, since FBI Director James Comey’s revelations about his final meetings with President Trump before being fired very plainly told a story consistent with the crime of obstruction of justice. Comey’s firing only further confirms Trump’s intentions, which Trump was in turn quite happy to confirm to Russian diplomats shortly afterward.

In short, it would be much harder to explain after all this why Trump shouldn’t be personally under investigation than why he is.

Majority Whip Steve Scalise Shot, Colorado Delegation Okay

Horrible story out of Washington D.C. that’s going to occupy most of the day’s news, as the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports:

No members of Colorado’s congressional delegation, or their staffs, were hurt in Wednesday morning’s shooting at a congressional baseball practice, which left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and several others wounded.

The shooting happened in Alexandria, Virginia, where the GOP congressional baseball team was practicing. No Colorado Republicans play on the team, and the state’s congressional delegation has reported their staffs are OK after conducting a full roll call.

The shooter has been identified as James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, whose social media profiles contain lots of anti-Donald Trump and pro-Bernie Sanders material. Hodgkinson apparently has a lengthy criminal record. Previously reported to be in custody, it’s since been reported that Hodgkinson was killed in an exchange of gunfire with responding police.

Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is in stable condition at a local hospital, and a congressional aide who was also wounded is expected to recover.

With that, we wish Rep. Scalise a speedy recovery, and implore everybody on both sides to be more thoughtful about the consequences of our mutually incendiary rhetoric. It’s no less true when a right-wing crackpot shoots up a Planned Parenthood clinic than when a left-wing crackpot takes aim at a Republican elected official. Our politics are only better than this…until they aren’t anymore.

And none of us wants to see what that looks like.

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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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.

Pressure Builds Over Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill

Updating one of the final lingering points of contention from this year’s legislative session, as the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports:

The ACLU of Colorado has sent a letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper urging him to sign a bill that changes how officers and sheriff’s deputies seize money and property suspected of being tied to illegal activity, saying he should not “stand in the way of bipartisan reform.”

“Civil asset forfeiture reform passed the legislature by a combined vote of 81 to 19. It was supported by Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, progressives and just about everyone in between,” wrote Denise Maes, the group’s public policy director. “Coloradans want and deserve stronger protections when property is taken by police…”

“Opponents argue that House Bill 1313 will make crime-fighting more difficult because if there are less forfeiture actions under federal law, local law enforcement agencies will get less money and, therefore, not be able to fight crime,” Maes said. “This position is untenable and frankly, I’m surprised this argument is asserted with such vigor.”

Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk Taylor.

But as the Pueblo Chieftain’s Ryan Severance reports, police agencies are arguing exactly that:

“If the governor does not veto this bill, it will have an adverse impact on local law enforcement and local jurisdiction period,” [Pueblo County Sheriff Kirk] Taylor said. “It will affect our ability to dismantle the large criminal organizations that we’ve done in the past and it will literally decimate some of the smaller agencies out in southeast and southwest Colorado.”

Denver7’s story today has the same justice-vs. cash for cops argument playing out:

“Local law enforcement is actually selling property before someone is even showing up to trial. That’s a huge problem and so we need to make sure we have reporting, transparency and yes we need penalties for local law enforcement agencies that abuse the process,” said bill sponsor Representative Leslie Herod, a Democrat.

The County Sheriffs of Colorado agree with the need for transparency, but do not agree on how they say it could limit task force resources throughout the state.

“A lot of the counties don’t have the money to put the supplemental budgets in there to make these drug task forces go, and so that leads to decreased ability to do drug investigations and human trafficking investigations,” said Chris Johnson, Executive Director of the County Sheriffs of Colorado.

Politically, this is a bill that Gov. Hickenlooper should definitely sign. The self-interested case from law enforcement that they need the money sidesteps the real problem, which is that assets should not be seized from innocent people. In a civil asset forfeiture case, persons who have had their property seized have no right to legal counsel as in a criminal case. As a Denver7 report last year explained, prosecutors are under time constraints to file the civil forfeiture case, which leads to subsequently exonerated citizens having to wage costly legal battles to recover their property.

The bill in question does not end civil asset forfeiture in Colorado, requiring only greater transparency and a requirement that smaller seizure cases use Colorado’s tighter standards instead of the federal program. The reason law enforcement is resorting to scare tactics in demanding this bill be vetoed is they really don’t have a rational case to make here.

The reason this legislation passed the General Assembly this year with lopsided bipartisan support is simple: there’s no good reason to oppose it. If there was ever a case when Hickenlooper should set aside inside-baseball pressure and do both the right and politically expedient thing, this is it.

Smart Democrats Don’t Let The GOP Own Civil Asset Forfeiture

UPDATE: ACLU of Colorado urges Gov. John Hickenlooper to sign HB17-1313:

The Colorado Legislature came together in 2017 to pass a bill reforming civil asset forfeiture (HB 1313), but Governor Hickenlooper is being pressured by police and sheriffs to veto it.

HB 1313 brings civil asset forfeiture into the light of day by increasing transparency into police forfeiture activities. Under HB 1313, officers will have to detail to the public when they use civil asset forfeiture and tell what was taken and what ultimately happened to the property. Law enforcement will also have to report if the person from whom the property was taken was ever charged with or convicted of a crime.

The bill also closes a loophole in state law that police have used extensively to bypass state-level due process protections by teaming up with federal agencies and seizing property under federal law.

—–

Rep. Leslie Herod (D).

As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, Gov. John Hickenlooper is under pressure to veto a bill regulating civil asset forfeiture by police agencies–a controversial issue that local Republicans have identified in recent years as good political ground to grandstand on:

Law enforcement and local government groups across Colorado say hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in crime-fighting dollars could be lost if Gov. John Hickenlooper signs legislation that changes how officers and sheriff’s deputies seize money and property suspected of being tied to illegal activity.

Supporters of House Bill 1313 say the measure would add accountability to the controversial practice, called civil asset forfeiture, and better protect Coloradans’ rights to due process. Opponents say that while they support aspects of the bill that add oversight, the money that could be siphoned away would curtail important law enforcement investigations — and they want the legislation vetoed.

“I think this is a solution looking for a problem,” said Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey, who is among the top law enforcement officials in the state urging Hickenlooper to reject the legislation. “I don’t think our senators and our representatives understand.”

It’s generally agreed that Colorado laws on civil asset forfeiture by police are somewhat more honest than horror stories that have been profiled in other states. With that said, the fact that assets can be seized, distributed and spent by Colorado police agencies with no criminal charges being filed against the individual whose property is seized, or charges being dismissed but the seized assets never being returned, is a serious problem that legislators in both parties in Colorado have tried to solve in recent years. Prosecutors say the law requires them to file the civil suit to seize assets before the criminal case is resolved, while defendants complain they either aren’t notified about the civil suit or have no means of defending themselves from one.

And when the system has such a conflict, it’s the little guy who loses his property.

It should be noted that a lot of the pressure to reform civil asset forfeiture in Colorado in recent years has come from Republicans. Ex-Sen. Laura Woods of Arvada in particular made reform of asset forfeiture laws a major issue. Other Republicans have highlighted the problem as an example of government overreach and abuse of power. In 2017, freshman Rep. Leslie Herod took up the issue in the Colorado General Assembly, and is the prime House sponsor of House Bill 17-1313.

This legislation would not reform the civil asset forfeiture system in Colorado to the extent activists on the issue would prefer. The bill would require better reporting by police agencies on asset forfeiture and require that small-dollar forfeiture cases use a more rigorous state procedure than the more permissive federal law. It would lead to a better understanding of how asset forfeiture is used in Colorado, and set the stage for reducing abuse of the program in the future.

State Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, said lawmakers worked with district attorneys and other stakeholders to create the legislation. There were just a handful of “no” votes for the bill and Herod — one of the legislation’s main proponents — called it “extremely frustrating” that there is so much opposition now.

She also noted that the bill’s legislative process included testimony from people about problems with forfeiture process in Colorado and added that the legislation has public support, including from people who have sent notes to Hickenlooper urging him to make it law.

Politically, this is an issue that could be very advantageous to politicians who come down on the side of not taking property from innocent people. Defenders of law enforcement run into trouble very quickly trying to explain how residents can lose their property without being charged with a crime, and resort to threats of harm done from loss of these seized assets to law enforcement programs as a way to justify the status quo.

But if the money is not rightfully theirs, it doesn’t matter what it’s spent on. To voters this is a no-brainer.

BREAKING: Comey To End Trump?

CNN reporting, fired FBI Director James Comey is set to spill the beans on President Donald Trump’s alleged obstruction of justice in attempting to influence/thwart the agency’s investigation of ties between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government:

Fired FBI director James Comey plans to testify publicly in the Senate as early as next week to confirm bombshell accusations that President Donald Trump pressured him to end his investigation into a top Trump aide’s ties to Russia, a source close to the issue said Wednesday.

Final details are still being worked out and no official date for his testimony has been set. Comey is expected to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia during last year’s presidential election…

Since his firing last month, dramatic accounts have emerged in the New York Times, CNN, and elsewhere about the tense confrontations with Trump that Comey memorialized in memos afterward. A week after he took office in January, Trump allegedly demanded Comey’s “loyalty” if he kept him on as FBI director, and he urged Comey to drop his ongoing investigation into Michael Flynn, Trump’s fired national security adviser, in a separate, one-on-one meeting.

The source said that Comey is expected to stand by those accounts in his testimony.

Confirmation that President Trump did indeed pressure Comey to end his investigation of former national security advisor Michael Flynn before firing Comey could be the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. Much additional evidence of Trump’s goal of obstructing the FBI’s investigation exists, including Trump’s own statements to Russian diplomats that he had fired “nutjob” Comey to take the pressure off the Russia investigation.

No matter what Comey tells the U.S. Senate when he testifies, it’s very unlikely that Trump will have a bug-out bag packed. With that said, Comey is in a position to confirm some of the most explosive allegations against Trump possible short of proof of outright collusion with the Russian government: sworn testimony that Trump illegally pressured and then fired Comey for the purpose of quashing the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia.

As the old saying goes, “the coverup is worse than the crime.” In this case that might not be accurate, the crime may be much, much worse–but the coverup may be still enough to bring down Trump’s presidency.

BREAKING: FBI Director Comey Fired by Trump

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Washington Post:

The startling development comes as Comey was leading a counterintelligence investigation to determine whether associates of Trump may have coordinated with Russia to interfere with the U.S. presidential election last year. It wasn’t immediately clear how Comey’s ouster will affect the Russia probe, but Democrats said they were concerned that his ouster could derail the investigation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that Comey’s deputy, Andrew McCabe, would be the acting director of the FBI. As a presidential candidate, Trump explicitly criticized Comey and McCabe for their roles in the Clinton probe while at other points praising Comey for his “guts.”

And as Denver7’s Blair Miller reports, crickets from Colorado Republicans:

Colorado’s Republican members of Congress sat silent Tuesday after President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been in charge of the investigation into whether Russia colluded with administration and campaign members to influence the U.S. election.

The state’s Democrats all called for an independent investigator or commission to be appointed to continue the investigation, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from, then was part of the decision-making team that worked to fire Comey…

Sen. Michael Bennet (D) said that the timing of Comey’s firing “raises many questions.”

“The next FBI director must be independent and relentless in seeking the truth,” Bennet added. “This underscores the need for an independent special prosecutor to investigate Russian involvement in the 2016 election and connections to the Trump campaign and Administration.”

—–

UPDATE: Politico:

President Donald Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey—a move that comes as the FBI is probing contacts between Trump’s campaign aides and Russian officials ahead of last year’s presidential election.

“The president has accepted the recommendation of the attorney general and the deputy attorney general regarding the dismissal of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Tuesday afternoon…

Comey, who was appointed FBI director by former President Barack Obama in 2013 to a 10-year term, has come under fire for his handling of both the Trump campaign probe and the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

—–

A huge developing story out of Washington this afternoon–FBI Director James Comey has been fired by President Donald Trump:

Stand by for updates.

Get More Smarter on Monday (May 1)

If someone left a bouquet of May Day flowers on your front door today, we want to hear about it. Seriously. 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…

► Congress has come to agreement on a budget proposal that will keep the federal government funded through September. As the Washington Post reports, President Trump got absolutely rolled on the negotiations:

Perhaps the best negotiators are not the people who tell everyone that they are the best negotiators.

A spending agreement was reached last night that will keep the government funded through the end of September. This will be the first significant bipartisan measure passed by Congress since Donald Trump took office.

The White House agreed to punt on a lot of the president’s top priorities until this fall to avert a shutdown on Friday and to clear the deck so that the House can pass a health-care bill…

…But Democrats are surprised by just how many concessions they extracted in the trillion-dollar deal, considering that Republicans have unified control of government.

 

► Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, are casting this week as the last real chance to approve a potential plan to repeal Obamacare. The White House is taking its usual blustery stance about having enough votes from Republicans to pass a bill out of the House, though the outlook is not so rosy when you ask Congressional leaders. It is unclear whether House Republicans have enough support from moderates to pass something along to the Senate, and there is little reason to believe that any potential legislation could move at all if it were to land in the Senate.

The main sticking point in the current healthcare negotiations revolves around pre-existing conditions. Trump maintains that any new Obamacare repeal “will be every bit as good on preexisting conditions as Obamacare.” But in order to gain the support of right-wing Republicans, such as the Freedom Caucus, Congressional Republicans are actually trying to gut protections for pre-existing conditions.

 

► By the end of the day today, there will be little evidence left of a weekend snowstorm in the Denver metro area. But it did snow — quite a bit, in fact — and the weather didn’t stop a huge crowd from turning out in Denver in support of efforts to combat Climate Change. Thousands of people showed up at Civic Center Park on Saturday to take part in a march and rally that was also happening simultaneously in more than 300 cities around the world.

 

► Republicans in the State Senate are crowing about a new budget proposal in an effort to pretend that they are actually interested in governing. From John Frank of the Denver Post:

Colorado’s top lawmakers are negotiating a far-reaching measure in the final days of the legislative session that is designed to save hospitals from major budget cuts, generate $1.8 billion for road repairs and lower the state’s spending cap.

Senate President Pro Tem Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, unveiled the details early Monday after days of closed-door negotiations with top Democratic lawmakers. But moments after he announced an agreement on the legislation, an aide passed him a note from Democrats that declared no deal.

We don’t doubt that many Democrats aren’t happy with this latest funding proposal, considering some of the nonsense included in Sonnenberg’s bill:

The latest negotiations include requiring the maximum federal co-pay for Medicaid, the government-funded health care program for people with low-income, as well as a cut to the business personal property tax for small business owners, up to $25,000. Other provisions would change how TABOR refunds are issued and funnel more money to rural schools.

Republican lawmakers continue to insist that there is plenty of money hidden away in government coffers that could pay for everything if they could just move some decimal points around here and there. Note also how Republicans would include a tax cut for businesses alongside a big new financial burden for low-income Coloradans.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Sen. Tim Neville Abuses Armenian Genocide To Grind Gun Axe


Earlier today in the Colorado Senate, Sen. Tim Neville (R-MGO) spoke in support of SJR17-042, a resolution honoring victims of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Turkish government during World War I. But simply honoring the victims of genocide wasn’t enough for Sen. Neville, who turned the discussion into an argument against “gun control.” As the story went from Neville, the Turks confiscated the guns of the Armenian population, which left them “defenseless” when the Turks started rounding Armenians up and forcing them on death marches through the Syrian desert.

A little Googling will reveal the story that Turkish gun control laws “left Armenians defenseless” in the face of genocide is an article of faith among American gun rights supporters. Similar arguments are made about the Nazis’ supposed gun control campaign before the Holocaust–a campaign Politifact says never happened. The truth is, there is little evidence to support the idea that small arms would have made any difference with regard to either the Armenian or Jewish genocides of the 20th century.

This is a photograph of Armenian partisans defending themselves from Turkish forces in 1915.

Note the guns.

In reality, Armenians were confronted with overwhelmingly superior military force, against which small arms afforded little more than token resistance. Armenians had no means of resisting Turkish forces employing artillery and other heavy weapons against them. The myth of small-arms resistance against a modern military force simply breaks down in the face of this reality. In response to the regular suggestion from pro-gun politicians and pundits that could could have saved the Jews from the Nazis, the Anti-Defamation League is unequivocal:

The Anti-Defamation League “has always strenuously objected to the use of Nazi analogies to advance any kind of political debate, including the gun control debate,” said Deborah Lauter, the group’s civil rights director. “We believe it’s historically inaccurate and incredibly insensitive, particularly to Holocaust survivors and their families.”

Beyond that, she said, it’s just a false comparison.

“In no way could armed people have stopped the totalitarian power of the Nazi state,” she said, noting that some European Jews had access to a small number of firearms. “There could be symbolic resistance, as we saw in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, but it would not have stopped the Nazis.”

Look, we understand that these kinds of historical myths are very seductive to Americans looking to apply them to contemporary political questions. That’s because when it comes to human tragedy on the scale of 20th century genocides, most Americans don’t have a clue what they’re talking about. We apply these events from world history to our political debates without proper context, or even a rational basis.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to transport Sen. Neville back to eastern Turkey in 1915–so he can see for himself how ridiculous these militiaman fantasies really are.

BREAKING: Bennet Will Vote No On Gorsuch’s Confirmation

UPDATE: The Hill:

Bennet initially opposed a Democratic filibuster of Gorsuch’s nomination, siding with Republicans in a failed vote to end debate. After Republicans changed the rules and lowered the procedural threshold from 60 votes to 51, he voted against Gorsuch.

Bennet has blamed both parties for the stalemate and added on Thursday that the decision to go “nuclear” does “lasting damage” to the Supreme Court…

With Bennet’s opposition, 45 senators are expected to vote against Gorsuch’s confirmation. Only Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) — who are each up for reelection in red states in 2018 — are expected to join Republicans in their support.

—–

Sen. Michael Bennet (D)

Sen. Michael Bennet’s long-awaited statement just released moments ago via the Colorado Independent, Colorado’s senior U.S. Senator will be voting against the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court:

Today’s changes to the Senate’s rules have done lasting damage to the Supreme Court and our process for approving nominees. With these changes, justices may now be confirmed with the narrowest partisan majority. Allowing the judiciary to become a pure extension of our partisan politics is precisely the outcome our Founders feared. Moving forward, lifetime appointments to our highest court could become just another political exercise.

We cannot ignore this new reality, and I am forced to consider President Trump’s current nominee – and all future nominees – in that context.

I am proud Judge Gorsuch is from Colorado. He is a qualified judge who deserves an up-or-down vote. That is the tradition of the Senate, and it is why I opposed a filibuster before the rule change.

Judge Gorsuch is a very conservative judge and not one that I would have chosen. For the reasons I made in my floor speech, I had concerns about his approach to the law. Those concerns grow even more significant as we confront the reality that President Trump may have several more opportunities to transform the Court with a partisan majority.

For all these reasons, I will vote no on the nomination.

Bennet’s decision to oppose Gorsuch’s nomination puts an end to weeks of pressure from both sides, and should go a long way to restoring trust in Bennet among the Colorado Democratic base. Again, Democrats had the votes needed to mount the now-crushed filibuster of Gorsuch without Bennet, which left Bennet free to argue for the preservation of the Senate’s deliberative traditions. That argument was unsuccessful, but now Bennet can claim the high ground as he casts his vote against Gorsuch on the merits.

And yes, barring something no one expects at this point Neil Gorsuch will now be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was always really a question of how that would happen, not if, and what kind of resistance would be possible on the way to that inevitability. We’d say opponents acquitted themselves as well as they possibly could under bleak circumstances.

As of tomorrow afternoon, it’s all over–except some shouting, and of course decades of Gorsuch on the court.

Neil “McPlagiarist” Gorsuch, Anyone?

Scott “McPlagiarist” McInnis.

Politico reporting on a story that could shake up the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation battle over Judge Neil Gorsuch–but may not, given that Republicans in control of the U.S. Senate have locked down in determination to confirm him come hell or high water:

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch copied the structure and language used by several authors and failed to cite source material in his book and an academic article, according to documents provided to POLITICO.

The documents show that several passages from the tenth chapter of his 2006 book, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” read nearly verbatim to a 1984 article in the Indiana Law Journal. In several other instances in that book and an academic article published in 2000, Gorsuch borrowed from the ideas, quotes and structures of scholarly and legal works without citing them.

The findings come as Republicans are on the brink of changing Senate rules to confirm Gorsuch over the vehement objections of Democrats. The documents could raise questions about the rigor of Gorsuch’s scholarship, which Republicans have portrayed during the confirmation process as unimpeachable…

We learned a great deal about what academically constitutes plagiarism back in 2010, when it was discovered that GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Scott McInnis had extensively plagiarized articles on water policy authored by former Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs. Like Justice Hobbs in 2010, the original author of the work allegedly plagiarized by Gorsuch is being quite gracious about it–even suggesting that Gorsuch’s reuse of her words is acceptable, which is a bit farther than Hobbs went for McInnis.

What we can tell you is that the examples of apparent plagiarism citied by Politico do not appear to be close cases:

Apparently, Gorsuch attempted to conceal the plagiarism by citing not the article he copied and pasted from, but the sources cited by the original author. That, combined with the unmistakably identical reused verbiage with only very minor changes, is a major red flag for deliberate plagiarism. If Gorsuch had been in school when this article was published, we find it hard to imagine that he would escape severe academic sanction.

So what does it mean for Donald Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee? That depends on how Republicans in control of the U.S. Senate respond to these revelations. Obviously Democrats already lined up to filibuster need no further convincing–so the question is whether any Republicans Senators recall from their college days that plagiarism is a really bad thing for scholars and especially Supreme Court nominees to do.

And who have the courage to speak up at the eleventh hour.