Get More Smarter on Friday (September 8)

In these times of escalating partisan rancor, it’s nice to know that we can all come together in a shared dislike of Tom Brady. 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 this morning gave final approval to a $15 billion disaster relief package in the wake of Hurricane Harvey…just as Hurricane Irma prepares to throttle Florida. President Trump is apparently quite excited that his show of “bipartisanship” this week has attracted so much positive media coverage. As NBC News reports:

Trump expressed that he was thrilled with the positive news coverage the debt limit deal had received, a senior Democratic aide told NBC News.

“The people of the United States want to see a coming together, at least to an extent. We’re different parties, we have different thoughts, different feelings, different ideas. But I think you’re coming to see a much stronger coming together,” Trump told reporters at the White House Thursday.

Earlier in the day he said he looks forward to working with both Republicans and Democrats.

You’re a good wittle President, aren’t you? Yes, you are! 

 

► Anyway, back to the hurricane news…As the New York Times reports, nearly the entire state of Florida is in danger from one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded:

One of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded crescendoed over the Caribbean on Thursday, crumpling islands better known as beach paradises into half-habitable emergency zones and sideswiping Puerto Rico before churning north. It is expected to hit the Florida Keys and South Florida by Saturday night…

…Gov. Rick Scott of Florida urged extreme caution in the face of a powerful storm that could quickly change course. “Every Florida family must prepare to evacuate regardless of the coast you live on,” he said.

Hurricane Irma is the size of France — like, the entire country. Miami could take a near-direct hit by Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, a third potentially major hurricane, Jose, is right on the heels of Irma. And a major 8.1 magnitude earthquake was recorded off the southern coast of Mexico.

 

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) has already dropped his plans to push a discharge petition for a House vote on DACA. As The Hill reports:

Coffman said he made an agreement with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to hold off on gathering support for his discharge petition for the bill, which would extend protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for three years.

Coffman filed the discharge petition on Tuesday, which would need 218 signatures to trigger a House floor vote. Discharge petitions are typically used by the House minority party to bring attention to legislation ignored by the majority-party leadership — but are rarely successful.

For a member of the House majority like Coffman to file a discharge petition was an exceedingly rare move.

If you were cynical about Coffman’s newfound commitment to DACA, well, go ahead and say, “I told you so.”

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman — Mike Coffman’s former spouse — doesn’t want any part of the controversy surrounding President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program for children of undocumented immigrants. Elsewhere, a group of 11 Democratic Governors are urging Congress to take swift action to assist DREAMERS.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Ending DACA: Gardner Dodges, Tancredo Celebrates

UPDATE: As Politico reports in a separate story, Congressional Republicans really have no idea what to do next:

House Republican leaders, already scrambling to avoid a government shutdown and a default on the nation’s debt, are privately hoping to push the immigration battle until at least this winter. [Pols emphasis] They, like the White House, want a down payment on Trump’s border wall with Mexico in exchange for codifying the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — though House Democrats won’t say whether they’d accept tougher immigration restrictions in order to save the program…

…Multiple pro-DACA House and Senate sources have speculated that a legislative fix for “Dreamers” could pass the House with moderate Republicans and Democratic support. But Ryan would take serious heat from conservatives if he were to allow that without getting anything in return.

That’s why Republican leaders, working with the White House, will likely seek a narrow immigration deal that would extend the program while adopting some of Trump’s signature campaign promises on immigration.

—–

Tom Tancredo (right).

Politico reports on today’s announcement via Attorney General Jeff Sessions that President Donald Trump’s administration will indeed end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, putting hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who came here as children at risk of deportation:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s administration is rescinding an Obama-era policy that provided work permits to undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children, with a six-month wind-down period that allows Congress to act on the issue first.

“I’m here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded,” Sessions told reporters, adding that the Justice Department has advised Trump and the Department of Homeland Security to “begin an orderly, lawful wind-down, including the cancellation of the memo that authorized this program.”

“This will enable DHS to conduct an orderly change and fulfill the desire of this administration to create a time period for Congress to act — should it so choose. We firmly believe this is the responsible path,” Sessions said, encouraging lawmakers to “carefully and thoughtfully” pursue immigration reform.

Other than the above comment about Congress acting “should it so choose,” there was little in today’s announcement from Sessions to comfort DACA beneficiaries and their supporters. Sessions in particular validated incendiary right-wing tropes about DREAMer kids “taking jobs” from Americans, for which evidence is dubious at best. Such comments don’t inspire confidence that a legislative solution protecting DACA recipients would be signed into law.

Certainly not if possible Colorado GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo has anything to say about it, as he writes at Breitbart today:

By ending the government’s issuance of new DACA work permits but not canceling them immediately, the president is generously allowing them to expire over the next two years. Thus, Congress can “save DACA” by enacting amendments to current immigration law. But, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details, and — surprise! — there is no consensus among Republicans on what “saving DACA” means or how to do it. The Republican lawmakers who want to give legal status to the 780,000 current beneficiaries of DACA will be at war with others who want to use their fate as the excuse to pass a much broader amnesty affecting millions.

The noxious flavor of the Republican dilemma is illustrated by the political gymnastics of Republican Congressman Michael Coffman of Colorado. Coffman is so desirous of maintaining his “amnesty panderer in chief” status that he says he is going to offer a bill to order President Trump to continue the unlawful Obama program. More astonishing, Coffman is so desperate to save DACA that he has begun threatening to file a discharge petition — which needs 218 signatures — to force his bill out of committee and bring it to a vote on the House floor. Of course, this is just for optics. Discharge petitions rarely succeed and he knows it. Doesn’t matter. He thinks it plays well with the people for whom he is so desperate to prostitute himself and the Republican party.

Herein lies the dilemma faced by not just Rep. Mike Coffman, but any Republican who wants to help save the GOP from major political damage over the issue of protecting DREAMer child immigrants: there’s no consensus in the Republican Party to do that. As we noted this weekend, any attempt to resolve the issue is going to require Republicans to abandon the informal “Hastert Rule” requiring bills to have the support of the “majority of the majority” because there aren’t enough Republicans willing to agree DREAMers deserve protection at all.

A lot of them are in Tom Tancredo’s camp. Including, apparently, Jeff Sessions.

Sen. Cory Gardner paid lip service to protecting DACA recipients in his statement today, though not without playing the blame game:

I’m currently working with my colleagues in Congress about the next legislative steps we can take to ensure these children continue to have the opportunity to be in this country. We are in this situation today because the program was created through executive action by the previous administration instead of through Congress…

In attempting to lay blame for the current situation at the feet of the Obama administration, Gardner deliberately ignores the 2013 immigration reform legislation that passed the U.S. Senate before dying in the chamber he served in–and the more general refusal by the Republican Congress under President Obama to do anything that might be considered good for Obama’s legacy. Blaming Obama for GOP obstruction is of course nothing new for Gardner, though at this point it’s a laughably threadbare point.

Because Democrats aren’t anyone’s problem now. This is about Republicans choosing what their legacy will be.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 5)

A lot of stuff can (and did) happen over the course of a three-day weekend. 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…

► After days of speculation, President Trump made Attorney General Jeff Sessions announce the news on Tuesday: The Obama-era immigration policy better known as DACA is coming to an end. As CNN reports:

The Department of Homeland Security will stop processing any new applications for the program as of Tuesday and rescinded the Obama administration policy, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

“I am here today to announce that the program known as DACA that was effectuated under the Obama administration is being rescinded,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday at the Justice Department.

In the five years since DACA was enacted, the nearly 800,000 individuals who have received the protections have started families, pursued careers and studied in schools and universities across the United States. The business community and education community at large has joined Democrats and many moderate Republicans in supporting the program, citing the contributions to society from the population and the sympathetic fact that many Dreamers have never known another home than the US…

…The administration also announced a plan to continue renewing permits for anyone whose status expires in the next six months, giving Congress time to act before any currently protected individuals lose their ability to work, study and live without fear in the US.

Most Democrats and even some moderate Republicans have largely opposed scrapping DACA, and many business leaders are worried about the impact it will have on reducing the available workforce. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, Trump’s decision on DACA shows just how much the Republican Party has changed in the last few years.

Here in Colorado, the end of DACA is estimated to impact more than 17,000 people, and many local, state, and federal lawmakers are pushing back on the decision. Students across Colorado responded this morning by walking out of classes and staging public protests. Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), who has a mixed history on immigration reform in general, says he plans to enact a motion in Congress to force a vote on legislation intended to protect so-called DREAMERS.

 

► Congress is back at “work” today following its annual month-long August recess. As the Washington Post explains, lawmakers have a lot on their schedule:

If you want to understand the situation facing Congress in September, imagine resolving the thorniest problem you can think of in the space of one month.

Now multiply that task by four and add President Trump.

This is what awaits lawmakers as they return from summer break this week. In the small number of working days between now and the end of the month, Congress faces the following decisions: passing a bill to avert a U.S. debt default, renewing government funding to avoid a partial shutdown, reauthorizing critical programs including the Federal Aviation Administration, extending funds for health insurance for about 9 million children and agreeing on emergency aid for victims of Hurricane Harvey.

And that’s all while trying to anticipate the behavior of an unpredictable president.

Oh, but that’s not all. Not even close:

Trump has said he wants members to start working on tax cuts. There’s a chance Congress will respond if Trump phases out protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, as he is expected to do. Lawmakers are under pressure to fund Obamacare cost-sharing reduction payments before Sept. 27, when insurers have to commit to offering plans on the exchanges next year. The Senate needs to pass a defense authorization bill. Committees are expected to interview members of Trump’s inner circle about Russia. Depending on how Hurricane Irma evolves, Capitol Hill could find itself responding to yet another destructive storm.

 

► Colorado’s air quality is suffering from multiple major wildfires burning in the Western United States. As the Denver Post reports:

Heavy smoke from forest fires in the Northwest has triggered a health advisory for ozone and fine particulates along the northern Front Range through 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Outdoor air quality is at unsafe levels for sensitive groups, such as the elderly and those with health problems. In some areas, particulates are at high levels unhealthy for the public at large, according to the “Action Day Alert” from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The elderly, the very young and those in poor health are urged to remains indoors and to relocate if outside smoke is worsening indoor air quality. Even those in good health should avoid heavy exertion outdoors, such as jogging, until the alert is lifted.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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It Didn’t Have To Be This Way: Rep. Mike Coffman’s Original Sin

With increasingly official word from the White House yesterday that President Donald Trump does indeed intend to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by President Barack Obama to protect undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation, Republicans can be divided into two camps: those who enthusiastically support this harsh crackdown on the least offending group of undocumented immigrants, and every Republican who has at any point been forced to acknowledge a humanitarian interest in protecting this population–which is most Republicans who run in politically competitive districts and states.

Colorado has prominent Republicans in both of the aforementioned camps, from nationally infamous anti-immigrant firebrand Tom Tancredo to GOP politicians considered today to be key “moderates” on the issue like Rep. Mike Coffman. Coffman, as we noted last week when word initially broke of Trump’s intention to end the DACA program, is hopinh to use an uncommon legislative maneuver with hoped-for Democratic support to force a vote on legislation to temporarily continue most DACA protections.

Mike Coffman’s public transformation from the Republican congressman who literally inherited Tancredo’s deep-red district into one of the GOP’s foremost alleged proponents of the rights of immigrants all goes back to the 2011 redistricting cycle, which redrew Colorado’s CD-6 into a diverse and competitive battleground district centered on the city of Aurora. Prior to redistricting, Coffman did his level best to keep up Tancredo’s anti-immigrant rhetoric–declaring in 2010 that “the DREAM Act will be a nightmare for the American people.” Then, after nearly losing his seat in 2012 to an underfunded challenger, Coffman began a public about-face the following year that outraged suspicious Democratic opponents but slowly began to win over the media.

In 2013, Coffman had the chance to take immigration off the table as a political issue, and participate a monumental bipartisan victory on immigration. We’re referring to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013, which passed the U.S. Senate with a huge 68-32 margin of victory–and then died with the Republican-controlled House refusing to move the bill forward.

And who was right there on the same page with House Speaker John Boehner? Rep. Mike Coffman:

“I disagree with the Senate bill,” Coffman said April 25. “What Boehner has said, and I agree with, is that a comprehensive approach doesn’t have to be a comprehensive bill. We’re going to do step-by-step approach with individual bills on individual subject matters. The subject that I’ve taken up is on the military, but that’s certainly not the end all on immigration reform.”

Coffman said he doesn’t support a special path to citizenship for adults in the country who knowingly illegally immigrated to the country, contrary to one of the Senate bill’s main tenants and a contentious topic between Republicans and Democrats…

Sen. Michael Bennet (D).

There are a host of reasons why the hard-won 2013 compromise from the U.S. Senate on immigration reform died as soon as it was sent to the House. One of the biggest, undeniably, was a perceived need to deny President Obama–who Coffman claimed in 2012 “is just not an American”–even the smallest of political victories. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, one of the architects of the Senate bill, has called again this year for Congress to pass his bill; but the idea that today’s GOP-controlled Congress can pass anything even remotely close is wildly unrealistic.

And this is critical to understand: in May of this year, Coffman welcomed the Trump administration’s actions on immigration overall–as a matter of principle and as a catalyst for action in Congress:

Coffman said immigrants in his district “should be concerned” about increased enforcement under the Trump administration.

At the same time, Coffman defended the Trump administration’s actions.

“Where the burden falls right now I think is not on this administration. [Pols emphasis] This administration is enforcing the law,” Coffman said. “They’re making both sides uncomfortable in Washington, D.C. by enforcing the rule of law. Before, it wasn’t enforced– or it was selectively enforced, and both sides were complacent on the left and the right. Now, I think neither side can be complacent.”

“[President Trump] is lighting a fire for Congress to act,” Coffman said.

If you apply these comments in May to what Trump is doing now, you would very reasonably conclude that Coffman supports Trump ending the DACA program instead of wanting to preserve it! Coffman tries to reconcile this sleight of hand by arguing DACA wasn’t passed by Congress, forgetting to mention that the GOP-controlled Congress could never pass the equivalent DREAM Act without Democratic support–and the GOP’s so-called “Hastert Rule” informally requiring legislation to have the support of “the majority of the majority” made that an impossible task. If Coffman does manage to succeed in forcing a vote on this three-year extension of DACA, win that House vote, get the bill through the Senate, and somehow persuade a famously egotistical President Coffman said in a campaign ad last year he doesn’t “care for much” to sign a bill undoing a central campaign promise…

You know what, folks? We don’t even need to speculate about that at this point. If it happens, great–Coffman will have accomplished a tiny sliver of the reform needed, years after it could have happened. In the much more likely event that Congress accomplishes nothing once again, the only thing that will matter is this: Coffman is part of the Republican majority who either helped Trump or failed to stop him. Worse, Coffman had the chance to take this issue off the table years ago, and he refused.

Either way, these are not the actions of “a hero.” This is a man dodging fate.

Get More Smarter on Friday (September 1)

For those of you who haven’t already left town for a “four-day weekend,” allow us to catch you up on your political news. 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…

► President Trump is calling his own bluff — again — on a potential government shutdown. The White House is backing off of Trump’s most-recent threats to “shut down” the federal government if Congress doesn’t appropriate enough money to build a giant wall between the U.S.-Mexico border. As the Washington Post reports:

“Build that wall,” Trump said at the Aug. 22 rally in Phoenix. “Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it. But believe me, if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.”

But shortly after Trump made those comments, White House officials quietly notified Congress that the $1.6 billion would not need to be in a “continuing resolution” that was meant to fund government operations from October until sometime in early December, a senior GOP congressional aide said…

…Trump could still follow through on a threat to shut down the government in December, but this marks the second time he has pulled back from the wall demand in order to allow lawmakers to pass a budget bill. The first time came in May, when lawmakers voted to authorize government funding through September and refrained from including money that would allow for the construction of a new wall.

The OVER/UNDER for the number of times that Trump will threaten to shut down the federal government (in 2017) is now at 3.5.

 

► Governor John Hickenlooper and his new BFF, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, are promoting a healthcare policy plan of their own for Congress to get behind. The key tenets of the “Kasichlooper” plan are to stabilize insurance markets in part through retaining the “individual mandate” for insurance coverage. Governors from Nevada, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Virginia, Louisiana and Montana have also signed onto the plan.

Why is it so important to retain the “individual mandate?” Read this story from the Seattle Times about what happened in the state of Washington when state legislators dumped the mandate (SPOLER ALERT: It didn’t go well).

 

President Trump is expected to rescind DACA — an Obama-era policy halting the deportation of children of undocumented immigrants — a decision that could mark a significant turning point for the electoral hopes of Republicans in years to come. Denver7 provides some Colorado-centered specifics:

They were brought to the U.S. as children of undocumented immigrants and a program called DACA allowed them to stay, to go to school and enter the workforce. But Thursday night, the hundreds of thousands of so-called ‘Dreamers,’ including those living in Colorado, fear their dreams could vanish as President Donald Trump nears a decision on whether to end DACA.

Denver7 talked to a local Dreamer, Monica Acosta about what’s at stake…

…This would essentially deport 17,000 Dreamers in Colorado and 800,000 across the country. Acosta is trying to cope and says she plans to stay put in the only place she has ever called home.

Officials with Denver Public Schools are warning that ending DACA would have “catastrophic” effects on the community as a whole. Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced on Friday that he does not believe President Trump should axe DAVA.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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BREAKING: Trump To Pull The Plug on The American DREAM

UPDATE #2: Politico reports that Rep. Mike Coffman will try to force a vote on legislation to protect DACA beneficiaries next week when Congress reconvenes:

Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) said Thursday he’ll attempt to force a vote on a bill that would extend protections for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors.

When he returns to Washington next week, Coffman said he’ll file what’s known as a “discharge petition” to force action on his proposal, known as the BRIDGE Act. If he can convince a majority of the House — 218 members — to join him, the House will be required to take up the measure later in September.

Coffman’s rarely used gambit comes amid reports that President Donald Trump may roll back an Obama-era program meant to protect undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country as minors. The program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has shielded about 800,000 immigrants from deportation and provided work permits.

Coffman’s move can be expected to pick up Democratic support, but the real question is whether enough Republicans can be persuaded to go along with this to get a majority. If it does, obviously Coffman will get credit for that. But if Republican leadership holds the majority caucus together against it, it’s a futile gesture.

Stay tuned.

—–

UPDATE: From the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR):

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has allowed millions of immigrant young people to come forward and apply for protection from deportation and find opportunities in work and education. Most importantly, it has helped to keep families together and make young people in our community feel safe.

We are hearing that this administration is threatening to eliminate this program – a truly callous and craven move. This would force many people in our community to live in fear. We are disheartened they would even consider getting rid of DACA. Immigrants want to be able to be part of and contribute to their communities and to provide a better life for themselves and their children. It is the archaic and cruel policies that make it difficult for people to do so. We need to fix this broken system and do all we can to keep families together.

—–

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

The Hill reporting–a moment many in the immigrant rights community have dreaded, hard-right anti-immigration demagogues like Tom Tancredo have demanded, and GOP Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado wishes had never come, as word that President Donald Trump will rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, putting hundreds of thousands of America’s most sympathy-inspiring undocumented immigrants–those who came here as children through no fault of their own–in danger of deportation.

President Trump plans to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program “as it exists today” on Friday, Fox News reports.

Under DACA, nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children have received work permits and deferral from deportation.

According to Fox, a senior administration official told correspondent John Roberts that Trump would end the program “as early as” Friday.

The program, instituted through an executive order signed by President Obama in 2012, is facing a legal challenge from Texas and nine other states, which threatened court action to attempt to block it unless Trump rescinds DACA by Sept. 5.

We are awaiting word from local politicos on all sides, and we’ll update with statements as they come in. Rep. Coffman in particular, who once declared “the DREAM Act will be a nightmare for the American people” but did an about-face on the issue after being redistricted into a more diverse district, we assume will be as publicly displeased with this action as possible–along with some other “moderate” Republicans who have paid lip service to protecting DACA beneficiaries.

The reason is simple: although pleasing to a narrow segment of particularly vindictive Americans, stripping these kids, students, and workers of the only life they have ever known is an absolute political disaster for Republicans. Whether or not Coffman’s “Paul on the road to Damascus” conversion on immigration is legitimate or a contrived survival tactic in his new district is now irrelevant. This is an action that will define the Republican Party for years to come with the fastest-growing bloc of voters in the United States.

And Mike Coffman is a Republican. Trump is his President.

Vicente Fox Still Ain’t Paying For Trump’s “F–ken Wall”

Vicente Fox.

The Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports on former Mexican President Vicente Fox’s visit to Denver yesterday–in which Fox kept his now-legendary trolling of U.S. President Donald Trump going with mucho gusto:

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox on Tuesday kicked off his multiday visit to Denver this week by praising the city’s efforts to protect immigrants living in the U.S. illegally and blasting President Donald Trump over his proposed border wall and views on NAFTA…

Speaking to reporters about Trump’s proposed border wall, Fox used an expletive and called the U.S. president’s efforts misguided. [Pols emphasis]

“It’s criminal to separate families,” Fox said of the Trump administration’s crackdown on unlawful immigration.

Denver Business Journal:

Fox said that President Trump’s characterization of the trade deficit as a zero-sum game shows “absolute ignorance on how the economy works.” Companies in North America have increased production, he said, because of their partnerships and a developed global supply chain.

Opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is of course not cleanly partisan, but Colorado in particular is an exporting state that has seen economic growth and jobs from trade with Mexico–making an easier argument here than the Rust Belt for keeping the treaty in its substantially present form. You might not agree with Fox on this point, but it’s perfectly understandable why he’s making the case in our state.

Once you reconcile where you stand on that issue, Fox’s comments about Donald Trump’s basic comprehension skills, and where Trump can stuff his proposal to build a wall on the Mexican border, should enjoy much broader consensus.

Denver City Council: Preserve immigrant rights. Williams: More deportations!

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Denver City Council Chambers  were packed Monday night with an overflow crowd, wearing white to show support of immigrants and refugees, cheering Denver City Council’s passing of the Public Safety Enforcement Priorities Act.   (PSEPA)  The PSEPA ordinance codifies a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Share” policy  for requesting immigration documents, while also preserving exceptions for violent or wanted criminals, and provides for notifying ICE when detainees “of interest” are released. PSEPA is viewed as a compromise which preserves immigrant’s Constitutional  due process rights, while also protecting public safety.

It is the result of months of negotiations between city officials and immigration rights activists.

Here is ovation greeting #DenverCouncil 10-0 vote to pass #immigration ordinance that is don’t ask/don’t share but still notify of releases. pic.twitter.com/v90cHqqneC — Jon Murray (@JonMurray) August 29, 2017

While Denver City Council was debating this compromise legislation, HD15 State Representative David Williams wrote to President Trump and AG Sessions, claiming that Denver is not deporting enough people, and detention / deportation needs to be increased. Williams has called for an investigation into “sanctuary city politicians”, including Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.

Williams’ letter, released Sunday, per reporting by Kasey Kershner of KRDO News13, asks for federal intervention concerning illegal immigration in the Denver area. It specifically calls out Denver City Council’s PSEPA ordinance as a “sanctuary city ordinance”.

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(Almost) Everybody In Colorado Pans Arpaio Pardon

Tom Tancredo, Joe Arpaio.

A press release from local activist group Mi Familia Vota today contains statements from a who’s who of Colorado’s left-of-center politicos, denouncing the pardon last Friday evening by President Donald Trump of former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio:

Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock stated, “There is nothing right about pardoning Joe Arpaio. This is not just. This is not righteous. This is not leadership. And this pardon is neither earned nor deserved. I am disgusted by the seeming approval of racist actions conducted by another elected official. This is politics and pandering to the base in its poorest form. So again we must resist the message the White House is sending to our communities. We must not mistake Joe Arpaio’s racial profiling and abuse of power and people as ‘tough on immigration.’ His actions were wrong and our federal courts ruled as much.”

Colorado State Rep. Joe Salazar stated, “Working with community partners and law enforcement across the state, I led the effort to repeal Colorado’s racial profiling law (Show Me Your Papers) in 2013. Colorado is now comforted in knowing that we will never have Joe Arpaio wannabes in our state. Simply put, we will not tolerate law enforcement in our state that terrorizes communities or violates constitutional and civil rights. “.

City of Westminster Councilwoman Maria De Cambra stated, “Sheriff Arpaio has a track record and was found guilty of unlawfully racially profiling and detaining Latinos in Arizona. By pardoning Sheriff Arpaio, the President continues to show his disregard of the law and his support of discriminatory practices. Sheriff Arpaio’s practices should be punished not rewarded!”

Colorado Congressman Jared Polis stated, “The hasty pardon of Joe Arpaio, a convicted racial profiler, is truly discouraging. The president has again chosen hate over Rule of Law. With this pardon, the president has sent a message to racists everywhere that their behavior is permissible, and he will have their backs,” said Polis. “I am heartened by the bipartisan criticism the president is receiving because of his pardon. We need to unify and send a clear message that we won’t tolerate hate and discrimination. We are a country that values due process and equal protection under the law.”

Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter stated, “Arpaio is guilty of racial profiling and violating the rights of Latinos. The President’s pardon is a terrible decision.”

We’ve reprinted the rest of the quotes from Mi Familia Vota’s release after the jump for posterity. As for statements from Colorado politicos supporting the Arpaio pardon? Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette has some of those:

Some national Republicans criticized Trump for granting clemency to Arpaio, arguing that the pardon “undermines (Trump’s) claim for the respect of rule of law,” as Arizona Sen. John McCain said in a statement, and threatens to diminish law enforcement officials’ responsibility to “respect the rights of everyone in the United States,” as a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said. But Colorado Republicans were either silent or said they supported the president’s use of his pardon power for the first time.

[Sen. John] Cooke said Saturday he thought Trump’s pardon was the right response to a criminal contempt charge brought against Arpaio for “doing his job.”

“I think the judiciary oversteps their bounds,” Cooke told Colorado Politics. “That’s what they did on Arpaio’s case. Sheriff Arpaio was doing his job. The courts are trying to legislate from the bench, and when he didn’t go along with it, they charged him with contempt. The president has that power to pardon, and Trump did it. Certainly, Obama pardoned a lot of people who probably shouldn’t have been, but I think Arpaio, it was more than appropriate.”

“It was great. It was wonderful,” former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, a longtime Arpaio ally, said Saturday. “I think it was totally political from the start, the prosecution was, so the resolution of it should be.” [Pols emphasis]

It’s important to keep a couple of items in mind. First of all, Sen. John Cooke is the former sheriff of Weld County–so it’s not surprising at least from that perspective to see him defending Joe Arpaio. But more importantly, the point to get here is that Colorado Republicans are considerably more hard-line on immigration policy than even many fellow Republicans in other states. The best evidence for that is to compare the condemnation of Arpaio’s pardon from Arizona’s own U.S. Senators to the words of praise Arpaio is getting from Colorado Republicans. Next time you wonder how Tom Tancredo is able to gain so much traction in Republican primaries, it would be useful to remember this.

One other point to make here is that the defense of Arpaio essentially boils down to his “sovereign right” as an elected sheriff to carry out his duties free from “political interference.” The details of the case, Arpaio’s refusal to discontinue enforcement tactics considered to be illegal racial profiling resulting in Arpaio being found in contempt of court, don’t inspire much sympathy among anyone who values the rule of law and the superseding power of the judiciary. Colorado sheriffs who seem to enjoy refusing to enforce laws they don’t like (see: 2013 gun safety laws), on the other hand, will feel empowered by Arpaio’s pardon.

There’s a reason why those whose job it is to enforce the law cannot be free to pick and choose which laws they themselves will follow while enforcing the law. That path, as surely as not enforcing the laws at all, leads to very bad things historically.

More statements follow.

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Donald Trump May Have Lost Control of the White House

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, left, and other staffers during Trump’s Tuesday press conference (Kristin Donnelly, NBC News)

Donald Trump has gotten away with saying more ridiculous things than any President in modern history. With his stunning remarks Tuesday on the violence in Charlottesville, VA, Trump may have finally gone beyond a point that his own staff is willing to follow.

As multiple media outlets are reporting today, Trump’s insane comments seemingly defending white supremacists could lead to a mass exodus of vital staff members.

Here’s NBC News:

To President Trump’s aides, it was stunning. Multiple sources inside and close to the White House described the president’s senior staff as confused and frustrated, caught off guard by Trump’s decision to defend his initial response to the violence in Virginia.

He “went rogue,” one senior White House official told NBC News.

And Politico:

White House aides are wrestling with how to respond to President Donald Trump’s defiant news conference on Tuesday in which he doubled down on his statement that “both sides” are to blame for the Charlottesville violence and offered what some perceived to be overtures to white supremacists.

No aides had yet threatened to resign as of Wednesday morning, according to White House officials and advisers, but a number of White House staffers had private conversations on Tuesday night about how terribly the day went. [Pols emphasis]

White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, who was standing near Trump on Tuesday for what was supposed to be a statement about infrastructure, was particularly displeased, according to people familiar with the matter, as the president launched into a rant about the culpability of the “alt-left” while calling some of the protesters at the white nationalist rally “very fine people.”…

And The Washington Post:

Now that President Trump has reverted to his earlier position that “many sides” are to blame for the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, the dismay of senior people very close to him is suddenly getting smuggled out to the rest of the world, as if by magic. [Pols emphasis] We are told that Gary Cohn, a top economic adviser to the White House, was “disgusted” and “upset.” We learn that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have been urging moderation. We are informedthat Trump’s top aides were “stunned” by Trump’s comments, and that new chief of staff John F. Kelly was “very frustrated” by them.

And the New York Times:

No word in the Trump lexicon is as tread-worn as “unprecedented.” But members of the president’s staff, stunned and disheartened, said they never expected to hear such a voluble articulation of opinions that the president had long expressed in private. [Pols emphasis] The National Economic Council chairman, Gary D. Cohn, and the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, who are Jewish, stood by uncomfortably as the president exacerbated a controversy that has once again engulfed a White House in disarray.

We could go on and on and on, but let’s wrap up with this story from CNN:

Donald Trump always got away with everything.

The most unorthodox candidate and president in history has exhibited a near-mystical capacity to evade the price of blunders that would have felled conventional politicians.

If that is ever going to change, the moment may be now.

Trump’s approval ratings continue to plummet, as does his hope of advancing any sort of policy agenda with Congressional Republicans who are increasingly distancing themselves from the President. The President has already burned through three different Communications Directors in his first 200 days in office; Hope Hicks, who is all of 28-years-old, is the new White House Communications Director. But what happens when critical staff members such as Cohn and Kelly decide that they can longer work for Trump?

At what point does the White House all but cease to function? We may be on the verge of finding out the answer to that question.

Good news! July 1-7, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This diary is about small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine, and categories often overlap.

Attorneys General across the country (including Colorado’s Coffman)  are claiming that they will check Big Pharma’s pushing of opiods, “clear the swamp”, ensure fair voting, and protect transgender people. AGs be aware – people will check to see that you follow through on your promises.

Voting rights roundup

flag with I voted

Image by debaird on flikr

Fourth of July, Fireworks, and the Franchise – what could be more patriotic? Voting seems to be on everyone’s minds right now.

Alabama seeks to inform felons of restored voting rights in jail

Kentucky also ordered the voting rights of 284 felons to be restored.

Kris Kobach, Vice-Chair of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity,  requested that all 50 states send him their voter information by July 14 so that the Commission can create a national voter registry to prevent what he claims is rampant voter fraud.

Unfortunately, rather than creating a process to make it easier for voters to register and vote, the Commission’s goal appears to be to selectively disenfranchise voters. The good news is that 45 states now have refused to provide part or all of the information requested. President Trump is not pleased, and has let us know this in his usual way.

Alison Lundergan Grimes, KY Secretary of State said that there is  “not enough bourbon in Kentucky” to make  Trump’s request seem sensible.

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann suggested that, “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from…”

Floridians are also petitioning to restore voting rights to felons.

Colorado’s Secretary of State Wayne Williams is trying to have it both ways  –  comply with Trump’s request, while still protecting the privacy of Colorado voters by supplying only publicly available information. Many voters are choosing to keep their data confidential by filing a form and paying $5 at the Secretary of State’s Office.

Voters seldom commit fraud in Colorado – but when they do, they are usually Republicans.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (July 3)

You can still get burned if you wear a hat in the sun. 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…

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is back in Colorado this week not holding town hall meetings as Congress takes its annual July 4th holiday recess. Colorado’s cherubic junior Senator has risen quickly in the political world over the last decade by smiling broadly and throwing bombs at Democrats, but his strategy of climbing the partisan ladder at the expense of his home state has turned even once-loyal supporters like the Denver Post against him.

Late last week, the Post published two separate editorials critical of Gardner’s performance. In the first editorial, which appeared in Saturday’s print edition, the Post wrote that it was “ashamed” of Gardner after his office sought to have protestors with disabilities arrested. On Sunday, the Post then published another strongly-worded editorial calling on Gardner to show some actual leadership in the Senate healthcare discussions:

Here in Colorado, the spectacle has placed Sen. Cory Gardner in a most damning spotlight. It’s time for him to exercise his leadership within the party — Gardner runs the National Republican Senatorial Committee — and join the growing bipartisan rejection of the McConnell effort.

Gardner’s silence on what he’d like to see changed in the bill is deafening in a state where a shockingly high percent of voters support a more liberal approach to health care.

Our first-term Republican senator needs to think long and hard about who he represents and what he stands for.

He needs to spend his break telling constituents how he’d like to fix health care and why he’s the right man for the job in D.C. Because now there is clear reason for doubt. While he’s shown himself too skilled at dodging town hall meetings of constituents of late, Gardner can’t escape the public record. Gardner was one of the select members of a working group meant to inform McConnell’s bill…

Nothing about the path he is on will be easy, but if Gardner wants to prove his mettle as a leader, this is his chance.

He ought to take it. [Pols emphasis]

The entire editorial is worth reading (they both are, frankly).

Elsewhere, Politico points out just how big of a problem Trumpcare has become for Gardner.

 

► Senate Republicans remain perplexed by President Trump’s ever-changing strategy (and we use the word “strategy” very lightly here) regarding GOP efforts to repeal Obamacare. As the Washington Post reports:

When congressional Republicans zig, President Trump zags. When they follow suit and zag, he zigs. Nowhere is this clearer than when it comes to overhauling the Affordable Care Act.

Trump jerked the GOP-led Congress around on a puppet string last week when he abruptly tweeted that the Senate should suspend its uphill climb to pass a health-care bill and instead just vote to repeal the ACA without a replacement already lined up.

But that two-step strategy of first repeal, then replace is precisely what the president had convinced Republican leaders not to do earlier this year. 

“I feel that repeal and replace have to be together, for very simply, I think that the Democrats should want to fix Obamacare,” Trump said in a Jan. 10 interview with the New York Times. “They cannot live with it, and they have to go together.”

At a news conference the next day, Trump promised an Obamacare replacement “simultaneously.” “We will be filing a plan,” the president said. “It will essentially be simultaneously.”

Perhaps Trump meant to say that he would be “simultaneously” promoting competing narratives on healthcare.

 

► One Colorado woman profiled by NBC News shows how the healthcare battle over Medicaid spending is deeply personal:

Kelly Stahlman’s twin sons were born 12 weeks prematurely in 1992, and soon after, both were diagnosed with cerebral palsy and other severe health issues that required around-the-clock care.

After two years of constant care with the help of neighbors, friends and au pairs, Stahlman and her husband, Bruce, found themselves nearly broke — both financially and mentally, she told NBC News.

She says their search for assistance to help with the medical bills yielded nothing and even included advice to seek a divorce and give her twins up to foster care so they could receive adequate help.

Both sons required care that private insurance wouldn’t cover at a cost the middle-class family couldn’t afford as the bills reached hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

“We weren’t poor enough” to get financial assistance, she said, “not in the right county. No matter where I went or what I did we couldn’t access anything.”

 

Maine and New Jersey have joined Illinois on the list of states facing massive cutbacks because of decimated state budgets. The causes of these state budget woes are too many to list here, but it’s no coincidence that all three states are led by Republican governors.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Good News! June 16-23, 2017

(Because Lord knows we can use some – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This was a hard week to write “Good News” for. Still, there was some.

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.

This week, it’s all about the heat, voters, immigrant rights, cannabis, and beer. Farmer’s markets. Buying local. No sports news, because the only sports I halfway understand are basketball and baseball. Anything else, I’m the one looking at you to see when to stand up and cheer.

Environmental / energy

It’s freaking hot in Colorado, especially on the western slope , down south, and in Denver, but the head of the EPA won’t say if climate change is a hoax, although his boss says it is.

Good news: It’s not as hot as Phoenix’s 119 degrees . Even AZ Sen. McCain thinks this global warming thing is the real deal.   Plastic mailboxes are melting in Arizona – it’s that hot.  (Photo from reddit, via Buzzfeed)

 

MacGregor Ranch is piloting a program to work closely with the NRCS to cut underbrush and mitigate wildfire risk, since it is so freaking hot in Colorado. Drought and wildfires are the two main hazards Colorado experiences from climate change. Here’s the video from the pilot project.

Virgin Mobile and several other big retailers are planning to conserve energy by running their trucking fleets more efficiently.

Coal India, the world’s largest coal mining company, will shut down 37 of its mines that are no longer economically viable. The lost energy will be replaced mainly with solar.

Clean energy jobs remain the fastest-growing employment sector in Colorado  – with 62,000 added last year.  65% of those jobs are in energy efficiency.   This all helps Colorado to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation at 2.3%.    Rates for youth under 24 were at 6%, and for Hispanics at 5%, still lower than most other states.

There’s still some good fishing around Colorado. Get’em while there’s still water enough to fish in.

And you can drive to your fishing spot on roads you won’t have to pay an extra tax on, per the Colorado Business Coalition. Amendment 267 passed, funding $3 Billion for road repair and maintenance; however, $10 billion was needed. Where will that come from?

The “Dog Days” are  approaching. If you see poor Puddles panting in a hot car, you can break in to save the pet – but not legally,  in Colorado, until August.

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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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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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