Inside Mike Coffman’s Cognitively Dissonant “Evolution”

dreamactcoffman

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

We’ve been very excited about the work done over at Denver7’s Politifact Colorado project, working with the Pulitzer Prize-winning national Politifact to provide some desperately-needed critical thinking to the wild claims tossed back and forth by our local crop of prevaricating politicians. It’s yet more evidence of our bellwether swing-state status to see high-profile outfits like Politifact shining a light on Colorado politics.

With that said, it was inevitable that veteran reporter Alan Gathright at Politifact Colorado would write something we need to take issue with at some point. That happened last week with the publication of their latest fact check, “Is Rep. Mike Coffman ‘with Trump’? Coffman says not yet.” This fact check addresses the question of Rep. Mike Coffman’s support for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, both formally and essentially by supporting fundamentally similar positions on issues like immigration reform.

Within this broad question lies some stuff we need to unpack.

Coffman certainly is hedging on his campaign’s previous statement that he would support the GOP nominee, who is now almost certainly Trump.

But do the two candidates line up issue-wise?

The Colorado’s Voice news release pointed to Coffman’s position on immigration legislation. “Colorado already knows Coffman supports the Trump agenda on immigration. He voted … multiple times to deport DREAMers by ending the DACA program. He opposes DAPA, the policy that offers a modest but critical step forward for the parents of U.S. citizens.”

…Here, too, Coffman’s position isn’t cut and dried.

As Gathright explains, Coffman voted against the 2010 DREAM Act, famously declaring “The Dream Act will be a nightmare for the American people.” When Coffman originally ran for Congress, Colorado’s Sixth Congressional District was composed of arguably the most far-right electorate in the state of Colorado, and had repeatedly elected Tom Tancredo to represent them despite his status as a national icon of the nativist anti-immigrant neo-Confederate (you name it, literally) movement.

And then something happened in 2011. We’ve talked about it in this space over and over. And frankly, the whole question of whether Coffman can be accurately said to be “not with Trump,” or anything other than the far-right successor to Tancredo’s extremism, hinges on whether you believe what happened after 2011 was legitimate.

But Coffman’s immigration positions softened in 2011, when his district was redrawn and its population became 20 percent Hispanic. He began taking Spanish lessons to better communicate with his constituents, and in January 2013, he introduced the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act, which sought to provide immigrant children an opportunity to serve in the U.S. military and gain a path to citizenship…

“There’s a narrative out there about Republicans being not just anti-illegal immigrant, but anti-immigrant,” Coffman told the Wall Street Journal in January. “It was very important to me to break the narrative.”

There is no question that redistricting in 2011, which reshaped Coffman’s political universe from Tancredo’s old stomping ground to the enormous cultural and economic diversity of Aurora, presented Coffman with the greatest crisis of his long political career. But it’s important to remember that Coffman did not at first realize how this new electorate would respond to the kind of rhetoric that came so easily before. In 2012, the same year Coffman was caught on camera claiming President Barack Obama “is not an American,” Coffman very nearly lost his seat to an underfunded Democratic opponent.

Since that time, it’s true that Coffman has made many superficial gestures to his newly diverse constituency, including taking some lessons in Spanish so as to debate opponents in the language. But his votes and statements on immigration reform have been far from consistent. His support for allowing DREAMer students to join the military is offset by other votes against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as a whole. Immigration reform advocates are looking for votes, not accountability, so any time they get the smallest concession from a Republican, they are of course obliged to publicly rejoice.

Bottom line: notwithstanding the backpedaled statement from Coffman’s spokesperson, Politifact’s contention that it’s wrong to say Coffman is “with Trump” on the issues rests more or less entirely on the contention that “the congressman’s views have moderated.” But Coffman’s detractors say the evidence for that is inconsistent at best, and could be reasonably assessed as a deceptive campaign to feign support for reform without offending the Republican base. And even when Coffman does make a token vote in favor of sensible immigration policy, the Republican leadership in the House he helps keep in power ensures that nothing remotely close to what the immigration reform movement wants will ever happen.

Respectfully submitted as grist for the fact-checking mill.

Woods joins Trump and Coffman in opposing citizenship for undocumented immigrants born in the U.S.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Donald Trump, Sen. Laura Woods.

Donald Trump, Sen. Laura Woods.

Woods, who has said Trump is her second favorite presidential candidate, “liked” a Facebok post, sponsored by Numbers USA, which read:

LIKE if you agree with Trump. Illegal aliens should not be awarded birthright citizenship!

A graphic shows a photo of Trump with the text, “End Birthright Citizenship.”

Trump’s immigration platform also calls for the rounding up and deportation of  America’s estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants to their country of origin. From there, they’d be free to apply to become U.S. citizens.

Woods’ office did not immediately return a call for comment on whether she agrees with Trump’s immigration policy in its entirety–or whether she’d want to rescind citizenship from millions of immigratns who’ve become U.S. citizens under America’s birthright-citizenship law.

Most other Colorado politicians have been silent on birthright citizenship, but as recently as 2013, Rep. Mike Coffman confirmed his opposition to the policy, in an interview with The Denver Post, saying “sure” he’d like to abolish birthright citizenship.

Both Woods and Coffman represent swing districts where anti-immigration positions could turn off immigrant voters. About 20 percent of Coffman’s district is Latino.

Woods won her Westminster seat by about 650 votes in 2014, while Coffman has been seen as vulnerable since his district was re-drawn after the 2010 census. Coffman narrowly defeated a Democrat in 2012 and won by a larger margin in 2014.

Racist or Liar? Progressives Condemn Keyser/Tancredo Unholy Alliance

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: As the Denver Post’s Mark Matthews reports, Tom Tancredo isn’t the only endorsement Jon Keyser announced today, but it’s the one everybody is talking about:

[T]he most intriguing of the bunch is the thumbs-up from Tancredo, the on-again, off-again Republican who ran an insurgent race for president long before Donald Trump tried it.

Said Tancredo in a statement released by the Keyser campaign: “Jon brings an unparalleled level of national security experience to this race and I have no doubt he will secure our southern border and bring Colorado common sense to Washington, D.C.”

Tancredo did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, though it’s not surprising that he mentioned immigration in his statement — as that issue was Tancredo’s often-controversial calling card during his political career.

—–

Tom Tancredo.

Tom Tancredo.

After the announcement this morning that former state Rep. Jon Keyser has accepted the endorsement of Colorado’s foremost anti-immigrant radical politician Tom Tancredo, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, condemned Keyser joining forces with a national symbol of racism to win right-wing primary voters.

“Tom Tancredo is one of America’s most notorious anti-immigrant demagogues, and it is outrageous that Jon Keyser has joined forces with him to further his political career,” said ProgressNow Colorado political director Alan Franklin. “Tom Tancredo’s racism has no place in any responsible political campaign, especially with the hate-filled rhetoric we’re seeing around the country. But not only did Keyser welcome Tancredo’s endorsement, Keyser actually sent out quotes from Tancredo in a press release celebrating his support.”

“Does Jon Keyser agree with Tancredo that we should launch a nuclear attack against the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina?” Asked Franklin. “Does Keyser agree with Tancredo that Miami is a ‘Third World country?’ Does Keyser support Tancredo’s longstanding ties to racist groups like the League of the South? Does Keyser endorse the Republican Party’s ‘palace coup’ last year that Tancredo participated in?”

“For Jon Keyser to celebrate the support of a racist demagogue like Tom Tancredo raises very serious questions about Keyser’s integrity,” said Franklin. “Either Keyser shares Tancredo’s racism, or he is a liar willing to say anything to win an election.”

Ex-Rep. Spencer Swalm Loves Him Some Donald Trump

Former Rep. Spencer Swalm (R).

Former Rep. Spencer Swalm (R).

Rep. Spencer Swalm represented an affluent suburban Arapahoe County district in the Colorado General Assembly for the full eight years our state’s term limits allow ending in 2014. Swalm was one of the principal wonkish voices of the insurance industry in the legislature, but was also capable of full-throated conservative rhetorical broadsides when called for.

Anyway, Spencer Swalm wants you to know he is all in for GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump! Here’s former Rep. Swalm’s guest opinion piece as published by the Denver Post last night:

On a whole range of issues, I, along with millions of others all across this country, see a lot to like in the Donald.

Let’s begin with political correctness. He is willing to take the heat for speaking out on issues that millions agree with but are so cowed that they are afraid to say what they are thinking. Trump speaks for us, and the more he is attacked for doing so, the more the average guy likes him. My advice to the PC crowd? Keep it up.

And then there’s immigration. It’s stunning to me that Trump was attacked by his Republican presidential opponents for daring to suggest that there be a complete pause in Muslim immigration while things were “sorted out” after the horrific Paris attacks. Did we “pause” German and Japanese immigration during World War II? I think so. And although I would certainly like to see us get out of endless and futile Middle East conflicts, the grim reality is that we are pretty much at war with the Muslim world. Why not a pause until peace breaks out again?

A wall on the Mexican border? Absolutely. Especially one that is paid for by Mexico…

Swalm goes on about how Donald Trump will kick the illegals out, raise wages for blue-collar America, save the middle class, and deal with whatever other objection you might have to closing this deal right now. He’ll even throw in the floor mats, because that is what Ronald Reagan would have done.

We scoff while we can, since there’s a good chance other Republicans will be cribbing from Swalm very soon.

Fort Morgan’s Cargill Plant Fires 150 Muslim Employees in Dispute over Religious Freedom

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

On December 23, 2015, Cargill Meat Solutions Plant in Fort Morgan fired 150 mostly Somali Muslim employees after forbidding Islamic prayers at work, saying, “If you want to pray, go home”. The employees are not eligible to be rehired for six months.

Screen capture of ABC news video

Cargill employees fired for praying at work. Attribution: Denver Channel, 12/30/15

The meat processors, some of whom had worked at the plant for 10 years, had been allowed, under long-standing policy, to take five minutes to pray during their own unpaid lunch and break times, in a “reflection room” provided by the plant. This policy, in place since 2009,  allowed its employees the freedom to pray at work, and allowed the company to produce meat products profitably and on time. Six hundred of the 2100 workers at Cargill’s Fort Morgan plant are Somali Muslims.

Then, suddenly, according to CAIR’s Hussein, Cargill cracked down and stopped allowing Muslim prayer at work. Members of other faiths, presumably, are still allowed to use the company “reflection room” to pray during break time.

(more…)

Local Vet Makes Colorado Look Good, Trump Look Very Bad

Donald Trump.

Donald Trump.

There’s no nice way to say it: Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s hotly controversial call to bar the entry of all Muslims into the United States has a surprising–the better word may be disturbing–amount of support among American conservatives according to polls taken since terrorist mass shooting attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California. While polls of the general public show Americans reject Trump’s demagoguery as unconstitutional, it has given Trump new strength in GOP presidential primary polls after opponent Ted Cruz began narrowing the gap in recent weeks.

Trump’s enduring dominance in the Republican presidential primary has legitimized a segment of American conservative political opinion that, while we’ve always known it was out there, has truly significant implications for America’s reputation as a global moral leader in human rights and equality when brought into the light of day. Trump’s campaign has ripped the proverbial scab off the ugliest manifestations of not just the “Tea Party,” but decades of divisive politics American that has its roots in the Southern Strategy of the 1960s and the racist realignment to the GOP that strategy produced.

Needless to say, what’s happening could make for a very long blog post. And it is very bad for America’s moral authority.

But instead, ABC News reports this Christmas week on a lifelong Denver resident Iraq War veteran with a campaign in response to Trump that’s going viral:

Veterans and current service members are using social media to reassure Muslim Americans that they will fight for their rights as citizens.

On Facebook and Twitter, military service members and veterans have started using the hashtag #iwillprotectyou after one mother’s post went viral about her daughter’s fear of being kicked out of the country.

Melissa Chance Yassini posted about her daughter’s reaction to hearing proposals by Donald Trump to ban Muslims from entering the country.

“She had began collecting all her favorite things in a bag in case the army came to remove us from our homes,” Yassini wrote on Facebook about her daughter Sofia. “She checked the locks on the door 3-4 times. This is terrorism. No child in America deserves to feel that way.”

Iraq War veteran Kerri Peek.

Denver-area Iraq War veteran Kerri Peek.

Melissa Chance Yassini’s post about her daughter’s fear of being deported for being Muslim caught the attention of local veteran Kerri Peek:

Kerri Peek, an Army veteran saw the story on social media and was horrified.

“I was up all night, it bothered me,” Peek told ABC News. “I’m a mom, for mother to mother … I know you want to protect your children from everything.”

Peek said she was especially upset that Sofia was worried about soldiers coming to take her away.

“What’s a way [for her] to know that soldiers are not going to come to her door,” Peek told ABC News, who eventually sent her a picture of herself in her Army uniform.

Peek’s response to Yassini was picked up by the national social sharing site Upworthy on Friday, and from there is making its way into national media today. You can follow the hashtag #iwillprotectyou on Twitter and Facebook to see the trending nationwide response, which as of this writing has many more veterans and supporters than pro-Trump “trolls.”

From our vantage point watching over Colorado politics, and with Christmas coming later this week, we can’t think of a better response to Trump than this story–maybe even a validation of the principles that make America a great place, even as Trump besmirches them. Here’s a local Iraq War veteran doing a lot more to defend American values from the Donald Trumps of the world than some others we know in much higher places.

Latinos To Cruz, Rubio: No Habla Por Nosotros

Sen. Ted Cruz, with Tom Tancredo (L) and Rep. Steve King of Iowa (R).

Sen. Ted Cruz, with Tom Tancredo (L) and Rep. Steve King of Iowa (R).

The Washington Post’s Mary Jordan reports today on the liberal pushback underway against Republican “Latino outreach” efforts ahead of the 2016 elections. As the GOP and allied major funders like the Koch brothers pour millions of dollars into bettering their performance among America’s fastest-growing demographic bloc of voters, the Latino activists the community has grown up with have a simple message:

“It’s not comfortable for us to do this, to call out members of our own community who don’t reflect our community values, but we have no choice,” said Cristóbal Alex, president of the Democratic-backed Latino Victory Project.

At a Monday gathering in Nevada of Democratic Hispanic leaders, ahead of tonight’s GOP debate in Las Vegas, photos of Cruz and Rubio were plastered alongside Trump’s picture, as all three were criticized as anti-Latino. A press release noted, “While Trump continues to grab headlines with his hateful anti-Latino, anti-immigrant language, the positions and records of the two Latino presidential candidates in the race are equally dangerous for Nevada communities.”

Dolores Huerta, an influential labor leader and civil rights activist, called Cruz and Rubio “sellouts” and “traitors” at the gathering and said the Hispanic candidates “are turning their backs on the Latino community.”

The latest nationwide polls show GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump with a commanding lead over the rest of the GOP field. With that once again noted for the record, a considerable segment of the GOP party activist class sees Marco Rubio and (to a less rational extent) Ted Cruz as the most electable candidates in the pack. A large part of that perception rests on their Cuban-American heritage–a curious embrace of the “identity politics” Republicans generally claim to shun.

Here in Colorado, Rubio’s campaign in particular is organizing as much as is practical with a state party that has rendered its own Republican caucuses meaningless. The Koch-funded Libre Initiative has an office in lower Highlands in Denver, ready to chase the Latino vote in the general election for the GOP. On paper, it all sounds like a formidable strategy.

The problem, as community icon Dolores Huerta and a who’s-who of recognized names among Latino voters are here to tell you, is that the appeal of these candidates is–and there’s no nice way to say ths–literally skin-deep. Other than an ability to converse in the native language, Marco Rubio simply has nothing tangible to offer Latino voters on the issues that matter to their daily lives. Rubio has abandoned the central policy plank on which he could have won over Latino votes, and running rightward in this primary, he can’t articulate any real plan for improving the personal economics of Latino families. As for Cruz?

You see the picture of him with Tom Tancredo and Steve King, right?

There’s no question that as a large and growing bloc of at least theoretically swingable voters, Latinos are going to be aggressively courted by anyone who wants to win elections.

For Republicans, this is a necessity that’s perilously likely to backfire.

Coffman/Trump Faceplant Gets Even Worse

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Roll Call reports today–you think Democrats are being unfair to Rep. Mike Coffman by linking his past words and votes to controversial Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, do you?

Well folks, Coffman’s doing his best to make it stick like glue:

In Colorado’s 6th District, where Rep. Mike Coffman is facing a competitive re-election, his likely Democratic opponent, state Sen. Morgan Carroll, accused him Wednesday evening of sharing Trump’s “anti-Muslim affiliation” for having spoken at an Act for America conference, which Carroll called an “anti-Muslim advocacy organization.”

And Democrats seized on Coffman’s Tuesday statement reacting to Trump, saying it didn’t go far enough.

“I put out a statement yesterday that I represent all the constituents in my district, including Muslims, and I think my record speaks for itself,” Coffman told Roll Call outside House chambers on Wednesday afternoon.

His original statement did not mention Trump.

Pressed about whether he’d support Trump if he were the Republican nominee, Coffman said, “I’m not going to go there. Thanks.” [Pols emphasis] Several seconds later, about to board an elevator, Coffman added, “He’s not going to be the nominee.”

“I’m not going to go there?” Given the enormous damage that Trump is doing to the entire Republican brand as his headlong descent into straight-up hate speech and demagoguery rolls on, Coffman’s non-response to these questions is absolutely stunning. We’re inclined to agree with Coffman that Trump is unlikely to win the Republican nomination, though he is already positioning himself to run as an independent in that event. But if anything, that should make Coffman more willing to call out Trump, not less.

So what the hell is going on? Honestly, we’re not completely sure. It may be that Coffman is looking at polling numbers that say he cannot go against Trump publicly for fear of losing votes he must retain to keep his seat. It may be that Coffman authentically likes Trump, or something that he has said–though you’re not going to hear that publicly. Given Coffman’s silence on the matter, it may be that Coffman actually agrees with Trump.

Whatever the reasons, we have to think that Coffman failing after repeated chances now to denounce Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric is going to damage him significantly in swing CD-6. Just wait until voters in the district are reminded how Coffman can’t bring himself to do what so many other Republicans are not just willing, but desperate to do.

Unfortunately for Coffman, Trump is making himself the focus of every political discussion. And there’s no escape.

Neville Gleefully Stokes The Fear on Syrian Refugees

denvernextparis2

A fundraising email appeal from 2016 U.S. Senate candidate and Colorado Sen. Tim Neville yesterday pulls out all the proverbial stops, invoking the prospect of Syrian refugees coming to Colorado as an invitation to an attack on Mile High Stadium (see photo above)–now with an angry President Barack Obama Photoshopped in leading the ISIS terrorists on! Argumentum in terrorem is the order of the day:

Governor Hickenlooper refuses to back down from his plans to bring Barack Obama’s potentially dangerous Syrian “refugees” to Colorado.

An unsecured border and unvetted Syrian “refugees” threaten the safety and security of Colorado’s families…

I’m under fire for daring to stand up to Barack Obama and Governor Hickenlooper.

In fact, ProgressNow — one of the largest left-wing organizations in Colorado — called me the “most dangerous politician in America” because I represent the “no-compromise, take-no-prisoners wing of the Republican Party.”

But the real reason they’re attacking me is because I’ve taken on an entrenched Democrat in a purple district before — and won.

They know I’m the Republican with the best chance to DEFEAT Michael Bennet in November 2016.

They fear me the most.

That last part is a bit confusing, since we were under the impression it was the refugees–excuse us, “refugees”–we were supposed to be afraid of? However you may feel about this message qualitatively, and we know many readers will find it thoroughly contemptible, certainly it would be a mistake to underestimate it in the context of the Republican U.S. Senate primary Tim Neville is running in today.

By most estimates the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris has been very good for Republican presidential primary frontrunner Donald Trump’s campaign. Marco Rubio actually said Sunday before sort-of-but-not-really backpedaling Monday that the Paris attacks were a “positive development” if they placed Americans in an appropriately fearful psychological condition. Last year on the campaign trail, now-Sen. Cory Gardner freely exploited xenophobic fears and ignorance from ISIS to Ebola.

So yes, love it or hate it, Tim Neville knows exactly what he’s doing.

Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff: Seal Off Colorado?

We’ve seen plenty of reactions from Colorado politicians to the Paris terrorist attacks and subsequent controversy over allowing Syrian refugees into the United States, but this (we hope) ill-thought-out Facebook stream of consciousness from GOP Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff of Pueblo stands apart from even the “usual” crazy talkers like Tom Tancredo and Sen. Laura Waters Woods:

 

navarroclosetheborder

So, uh, did Rep. Navarro-Ratzlaff misspeak here some way, or does she really think we need to “pause on letting anyone into Colorado?” When she says we need to “pause on letting anyone into Colorado,” does this mean refugees? Immigrants? Californians?

coloradowall

That’s the problem with sweeping statements in the era of “Tea Party” crazy talk. They might actually mean it.

Tipton promoting apparent misinformation that Paris attacker had “Syrian refugee passport”

(Rumor doesn’t have it – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

On Facebook Monday, Rep. Scott Tipton posted the apparent misinformation that “one of the bombers involved in the Paris attacks had a Syrian refugee passport.”

This is almost certainly wrong, apparently a so-called false flag, yet the statement remains on Tipton’s official Facebook page.

Newsweek reported: “Serbian officials told The Guardian that they think both the passport found in Paris and on the man they arrested are fake. A source investigating the case told the AFP that the passport belongs to a Syrian soldier who was killed earlier this year. Officials have not made any public statements on the passport confirming or denying its authenticity.”

Tipton on Facebook: The risks posed to our national security by admitting tens of thousands of refugees from a war-torn region that is currently the global hotbed for terrorist activity are very real. The U.S. should immediately stop accepting Syrian refugees…

While most of these people are innocent and victims themselves, all it takes is one ISIS terrorist posing as an asylum seeker to come to the United States and inflict harm…

Given that at least one of the bombers involved in the Paris attacks had a Syrian refugee passport, the threat is very real and the risk is high. [BigMedia emphasis]

Tipton’s post incited these ugly comments, which is another reason he should remove it ASAP.

Esther Scaman: Keep up the good work Scott! Keep all those bastards out of our country! I say pack n carry at all times! And for those opposing you I’ll thank you for them since they are like their president putting America in harms way and won’t accept the truth if it slapped them in the face!!!

Patricia R. Lang: Much like it was in Viet Nam, one can not tell the refugee from the terrorist bent on destroying our country and our way of life. It is sad but all Syrian refugees much be stopped from entering the United States of America

Tipton was on KVOR’s Richard Randall show Tuesday, talking about this topic, but he did not refer to the Syrian passport. Another guest on the show, Andy Pico, a GOP Colorado Springs City Councilman, spread the same apparent falsehood that the Paris attacker was a Syrian refugee. (Listen here.)

Pico, along with Tipton, should walk this comment back in some public venue–because it poisons reasonable debate about the refugees. And reasonableness regarding poor Syrian refugees is under severe attack.

A Colorado governor who fought bigotry–and won in the end

(Past is prologue – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Gov. Ralph Carr (R-CO).

Gov. Ralph Carr (R-CO).

During WWII, the U.S. government forced Japanese Americans  from their homes on the West Coast and moved them to interior states. Kansas Gov. Payne Ratner, reflected the opinions of many governors when she responded at the time with, “Japs are not wanted and not welcome in Kansas.”

With at least 22 Republican governors saying they’ll try to keep Syrian refugees out of their states, Denver University’s Seth Masket wrote a blog post yeserday reminding us of this and pointing out that Colorado Governor Ralph Carr “stood out” among his fellow governors at the time and declared that the forced relocation of the Japanese Americans under Executive Order 9066 was unconstitutional. He also welcomed them to Colorado.

Masket didn’t mention Hickenlooper, who has welcomed Syrian refugees, but the loose parallel between the two Colorado governors isn’t lost on anyone reading Masket’s post, titled “The governor who didn’t give in to fear … and paid a price for it.

Masket: “Obviously, the relocation of American citizens of Japanese ancestry is not the same as accepting refugees from another country,” writes Masket, who’s an Associate Professor of Political Science at DU. “But there are clear parallels, particularly in the political incentives governors are confronting. It’s not just that it’s easy to demagogue against foreign invaders; it’s that it’s sometimes politically risky not to. The governors refusing to take in Syrian refugees today may or may not know Ralph Carr’s name, but they have surely imagined his fate, and they don’t want the same for themselves.” [BigMedia emphasis]

Masket cites the Principled Politician, former 9News reporter Adam Schrager’s much-acclaimed biography of Carr. The book shows the respect Carr has now, in hindsight, even though his stance during WWII ended his political career.

(more…)

Stay Classy, Tom Tancredo: Blame “Diversity” For Paris Edition

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports today:

Tancredo, a Republican who has long fought for tougher immigration standards, said he was glad to “start a conversation” about the risks of allowing Syrian refugees into the United States.

“I’m referring to the fact that this tragedy (in Paris), this horror, is something you cannot contain to one country is you don’t do something meaningful about immigration — a subject I’ve been involved in for some time — these are the kinds of things that result when you don’t protect your citizens,” he told The Denver Post.

Hickenlooper, a Democrat, was not amused.

“That’s beyond comment,” he said, dropping his shoulders after seeing the meme during a stop at The Post. “Come on.” [Pols emphasis]

—–

As posted to former Congressman, gubernatorial candidate, and most recently “Coffmangate” co-conspirator Tom Tancredo’s Facebook page a short while ago:

tancparis_blur

For the record, this isn’t the original image. We’ve digitally obscured what appear to be a number of dead bodies and streaks of blood in the highly gruesome unedited photo Tancredo posted. The photo appears to be the interior of the Bataclan Theater in Paris, France after the terrorist attacks last Friday. The caption on the photo, “Celebrating Diversity One Massacre At A Time,” may or may not have been added by Tancredo personally, but clearly that’s the message he endorses.

We’re pretty sure the original photo violates Facebook’s terms of service, so we wouldn’t be surprised if it disappears at some point soon. But as much as he frequently embarrasses his erstwhile fellow Republicans, Tancredo has a considerable following on the anti-immigrant right–and his views are representative of enough of the conservative movement that he can’t simply be ignored.

And folks, sometimes that is a damned shameful fact.

Profiles In Courage: Hickenlooper Welcomes Syrian Refugees

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

As the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports:

So far more than a dozen governors, most of them Republicans, have said they want to close their state borders to refugees from Syria. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe both, Democrats, however, have said their states will continue accepting refugees.

Colorado Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton said in a statement today he wants to stop refugees from Syria from entering the United States.

President Barack Obama said the United States would continue to accept refugees and called efforts to screen those fleeing Syria based on their religion “shameful.”

In September, Colorado “was preparing to help” as refugees left Syria and other countries in the Middle East, according to CBS Denver.

In a statement today, Gov. John Hickenlooper makes it clear that nothing has changed:

“A few short days ago we witnessed another senseless act of terrorism. Our hearts go out to the families, friends and loved ones of those lost and injured in Paris, and in other acts of terror around the world. Our first priority remains the safety of our residents. We will work with the federal government and Homeland Security to ensure the national verification processes for refugees are as stringent as possible. We can protect our security and provide a place where the world’s most vulnerable can rebuild their lives.” [Pols emphasis]

As the American Civil Liberties Union notes, the knee-jerk response from some Republican governors against taking in refugees from the war in Syria is, in addition to optically quite troubling, most likely not legal:

For our part, we’re reminded of the example of another governor of Colorado, Gov. Ralph Carr, who in the early days of World War II urged the people of Colorado to welcome and respect Japanese-Americans being transported here by the federal government away from the West Coast. Carr paid for his foresight and equanimity with his political career, but is today remembered as one of our state’s best governors.

Today, Gov. Hickenlooper has spoken out in the finest traditions of a state that has witnessed both great compassion and great intolerance in our history. He deserves not just the gratitude of future Colorado citizens with the benefit of hindsight, but to be heeded now as a voice of reason in difficult times.

Good on you, Governor.

Rubio Immigration Tap-Dance Leaves Coffman Stumbling

THURSDAY UPDATE: MSNBC’s Steve Benen talks more about the trouble facing Marco Rubio–and also Mike Coffman:

“In my view, if Republicans nominate for president a candidate who supports amnesty,” Cruz added, ‘we will have given up one of the major distinctions with Hillary Clinton and we will lose the general election – that is a path to losing.”

In fairness to Rubio, it’s worth emphasizing that he dramatically flip-flopped on the immigration issue, betrayed his former allies, and now rejects the very proposals he helped write just two years ago. Maybe that will satisfy Republican voters, maybe not…

Keep in mind, this isn’t just some peripheral issue for many conservatives. A far-right, hard-line stance on immigration is for the Republican base what support for Social Security is for many Democrats – a stance the base simply expects as a commitment to party orthodoxy.

Although Coffman’s hard-line pre-redistricting positions on immigration were a polar opposite to Rubio’s former moderate position, it’s striking how the flip-flopping in both directions on the issue has exposed both men’s vulnerabilities. Coffman’s job of appearing moderate on immigration, while not going so far as to upset his Republican base of support in a swing district, is really not all that different from Rubio laboring to appease the GOP base on an issue he has already “sold them out” on once before.

In both cases voters, albeit different voters, are being asked to swallow big camels and strain gnats–and it may well end with nobody trusting either of them. Original post follows.

—–

Rep. Mike Coffman.

Rep. Mike Coffman.

NPR’s Steve Inskeep reports on the continuing “evolution” of Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio’s position on immigration reform, which has “evolved” even further in the last 24 hours:

Sen. Marco Rubio clarified his view on the 11 million immigrants, who are in the United States illegally. The day after a presidential debate, which exposed a continuing divide in the Republican Party on immigration, Rubio told NPR on Wednesday that he favors a path to citizenship for some, though the prospect would be very distant.

“If you haven’t been here very long, or you’re a criminal, you will be deported,” Rubio told NPR’s Morning Edition. “Otherwise, you will have to come forward, pass the background check, learn English, pay a fine, because you violated the law, start paying taxes, and you’ll get a work permit. And that’s all you’re going to have for at least a decade.”

Rubio went a step further. “After 10 years on the work permit, I personally am open to — after the 10 years have expired — to allowing people to apply for a green card, just through the normal process that anyone else would use.”

That means Rubio still broadly backs one of the most hotly debated portions of a 2013 immigration bill that passed the Senate overwhelmingly but could not get through the Republican-controlled House. Rubio helped author the legislation, but later dismissed it as politically unsustainable.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).

Rubio’s position on immigration reform has been a famously moving target since 2013, when an immigration reform bill he hammered out with input from both sides of the U.S. Senate was pronounced DOA in the Republican-controlled House. In the face of furious objections from the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican Party, Rubio abandoned the legislation he had previously worked to pass. On the campaign trail as a Republican presidential candidate, Rubio has tried hard to keep up with his opponents’ free-wheeling demagoguery of immigrants while keeping the door open to moderating on the issue for a general election audience Etch-a-Sketch style.

That’s how you get Rubio telling NPR today that he would keep some kind of path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants open, even as he says he would close down President Barack Obama’s DACA program meant to protect thousands of childhood-arrival immigrants from deportation. To be honest, we don’t see how Rubio is going to be able to keep these contradictions from breaking down eventually. But with Rubio trying to position himself as the alternative to the Trump/Carson sideshow that’s presently dominating the Republican primary, he needs to be able to say something.

The real loser in this back-and-forth may not be Rubio, but swing Republicans like Rep. Mike Coffman–who have been dancing between the GOP base’s hard line on immigration, and the needs of a diverse constituency that includes a large immigrant population with and without documentation. Even Coffman’s recent “moderated” opinion on immigration doesn’t go nearly as far as Rubio says today he would. In 2010, Coffman said flat-out that the DREAM Act “would be a nightmare for the American people.” Coffman’s most recent statements about undocumented students and/or military eligible recruits are best described as purposefully confusing, but Coffman certainly has not come out in favor of a path to citizenship for undocumented adults–even a “very long path.”

Up to now, Coffman has been able to use Rubio’s immigration reform bill, more to the point its death, as a means to obfuscate his shifting position on a very delicate issue. The trouble now is that Rubio is under a harsher spotlight then ever before as a presidential candidate, and is going to be forced to spell out clearly once and for all what his agenda on immigration actually is.

And that’s going to leave Mike Coffman with no place to hide.