Colorado Christian U: Gorsuch Our Kind of Hater

Neil Gorsuch.

A fundraising email from Jeff Hunt, vice president of Colorado Christian University, extolls Judge Neil Gorsuch’s “conservative values”–and makes predictions about Gorsuch’s values on the U.S. Supreme Court that Gorsuch probably won’t want to validate during confirmation hearings:

Judge Gorsuch has proven he’s pro-life, pro-family, and pro-religious liberty, which is exactly why the radical Left is rallying against him.

His rulings are very promising from a conservative perspective, which is why it’s critical we rush to his aid immediately and ensure he’s confirmed…

As a native of Colorado and a devoted follower of Christ, we couldn’t be more excited about what Judge Gorsuch will do to help overturn Roe v. Wade, uphold traditional marriage, and protect our religious freedom. [Pols emphasis]

When our past president, Bill Armstrong, was serving in the U.S. Senate, a young Neil Gorsuch even interned for him.

The late Senator Bill Armstrong helped mentor this brilliant conservative legal mind, and now he has the chance to ascend to the nation’s highest court where he will defend our values for decades to come.

We wouldn’t say that any of this is a surprise, although traditionally Supreme Court nominees don’t give specific answers on how they might rule on specific cases. What this message does do, however, is give some perspective on the origins of Gorsuch’s political views.

And if CCU is to be believed, that would be Gorsuch’s anti-choice, anti-gay, pro-bigotry political views (no word on how Gorsuch feels about the new Beauty and the Beast movie).

Bennet Introduces Gorsuch With Praise For Merrick Garland

TUESDAY UPDATE: Sen. Michael Bennet’s introduction of Neil Gorsuch appears to impressed somebody notable:

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Word spread late last week that Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet would join GOP Sen. Cory Gardner in introducing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch of Colorado to the Senate Judiciary Committee today. This afternoon that took place–with Gardner giving his widely-expected glowing endorsement of Gorsuch, and as for Bennet…well?

 

In short, Bennet warmly praises Gorsuch, saying he “exemplifies some of the finest qualities of Colorado.” That and several other statements by Bennet praising Gorsuch in terms that seem to gloss over very serious policy differences between these two men will be enough to make Colorado Democrats quite nervous.

Niceties aside, Bennet did speak out strongly against the treatment of Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee who was denied a hearing by Republicans for almost a year. Bennet makes it clear that he considers “Judge Gorsuch a nominee to fill the Garland seat on the Supreme Court.” With that said, Bennet says that “two wrongs don’t make a right,” and that Gorsuch should receive a fair hearing.

Sen. Bennet didn’t give any definitive indication on how he intends to vote on Gorsuch, and it’s a longstanding tradition for a nominee’s home-state Senators to introduce them. But the first blush of reactions we’ve heard from Democrats are lukewarm at best. Bennet’s vote for or against Gorsuch represents what may be the greatest test of his values since his appointment in 2009, and it will be remembered.

Stay tuned, this drama is just warming up.

A Construction-Defects Compromise For Reals?

As the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning reports, hopes are running high at the state capitol today that a new compromise bill with bipartisan sponsorship on the perennially vexatious issue of addressing defects in multifamily residential construction might finally break a years-long logjam:

A bipartisan group of legislators introduced a compromise bill late Friday aimed at encouraging developers to build condominium projects while preserving the right of homeowners to have their day in court.

The legislation arrives at the end of a week that saw a Democratic-sponsored bill and a Republican-sponsored bill covering much of the same territory both run aground, stoking outrage and frustration that the Legislature might be unable to resolve a problem that has vexed lawmakers for years.

House Bill 1279 incorporates provisions in common between the two ill-fated bills, and its sponsors say they’ve removed offending elements that led Senate Republicans to sink Senate Bill 157 in committee and compelled House leadership to deliver Senate Bill 156 to the chamber’s “kill committee.”

But more importantly, the new bill’s sponsors say it will accomplish enough to restore confidence in the condo market for builders while maintaining a fair process for homeowners.

The word we’re hearing from homeowner advocates is positive about this new compromise bill–creating a process for filing suit against a builder for defects that requires more buy-in than simply the HOA board, without taking away the right to sue completely as a moribund bill from Senate Republicans would have done. This issue is sensitive, or at least should be sensitive for Republicans, since siding categorically with big builders over middle-class families is politically not a wonderful place to camp out. Likewise Democrats have to balance the arguments in favor of affordable housing with rights homeowners should not have to sign away just to buy a condo.

If this bill gets through, it could mark resolution on an issue that has taken up much more time and drama in the state legislature than it probably ever deserved. Whether you believe that the ability to sue developers for defects in construction is hurting housing affordability in Colorado or not, we think everybody’s ready to move on.

Hopefully, this is a compromise that gives all stakeholders enough to do that.

Get More Smarter on Monday (March 20)

Welcome, Springtime! Please settle in as we 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…

► Senate hearings to approve Denver Judge Neil Gorsuch as the next Supreme Court Justice began on Monday. As the Washington Post reports:

Monday brings their newest opportunity since the confirmation hearings of Trump’s Cabinet to take a stand against a young administration that has horrified liberal Americans with efforts to strip away provisions of the Affordable Care Act, impose an entry ban on some immigrants and deeply cut federal agencies.

The left also remains angry about a Supreme Court seat that has been vacant since Scalia died 13 months ago because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) decided to block a hearing for President Barack Obama’s selection for the seat, Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit…

…Gorsuch “is a bit of a puzzle,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an interview last week. “We’re going to try to put those pieces together so that the puzzle is complete and we have an understanding of what kind of a fifth vote will be going on the court.”

As per Senate tradition, Gorsuch was introduced this morning in the Senate Judiciary Committee by home-state Senators Michael Bennet (D-Denver) and Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). The Denver Post has more on the key role that Sen. Bennet will play in the Gorsuch confirmation hearings.

 

► The FBI confirmed today that it is investigating allegations that Russia interfered with the 2016 U.S. elections in order to help Donald Trump make it into the White House. As the New York Times reports, FBI Director James Comey is also making it clear that there is absolutely no evidence to support Trump’s claims that his campaign was “wiretapped” under order from President Obama:

Mr. Comey told the House Intelligence Committee, “We have no information to support” President Trump’s assertion on Twitter that President Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.

“We have no information to support those tweets,” Mr. Comey said, repeating moments later, “All I can tell you is that we have no information that supports them.”

The N.S.A. chief, Admiral Rogers, weighed in as well, saying that he had no knowledge of anyone asking the British or any other ally to wiretap Mr. Trump. That seemed to refute another claim made by the White House.

“I’ve seen nothing on the N.S.A. side that we engaged in such activity, nor that anyone engaged in such activity,” Admiral Rogers said.

 

► Colorado’s economy is doing very well…which means state lawmakers are going to have to make difficult budget cuts. Yay, TABOR!

 

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

Weekend Open Thread

“To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”

–Theodore Roosevelt

Oh, The Inanity!

There are a lot of big issues in the news this week. This is not one of them.

Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute for Manufactured Angst is hopping mad about a new movie in theaters this weekend. According to the Director of the Centennial Institute, Jeff Hunt, the timeless story of a woman falling in love with a water buffalo is being ruined — RUINED! — because one of the minor characters might be a homosexual.

Ernest Luning has the story for the Colorado Statesman:

Colorado’s Centennial Institute is spearheading a campaign urging Christians to boycott Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” because the film purportedly includes an onscreen “exclusively gay moment” and its openly gay director has demonstrated a “hostile approach to the Bible.”

“What was frustrating about this film was we clearly saw there was an attempt to drive an agenda, and an agenda that was offensive to people who embrace and support traditional family values,” Jeff Hunt, director of the Lakewood-based Centennial Institute, Colorado Christian University’s think tank, told The Colorado Statesman…

…The movie — a faithful live-action remake of the animated 1991 Disney classic — has set tongues wagging at reports the character LeFou, the main villain’s sidekick, portrayed by actor Josh Gad, is gay and has a “gay moment” on screen.

According to the online culture magazine Vulture, the “gay moment” occurs when LeFou dances for “two seconds at the most” with a villainous henchman amid a flurry of celebration at the end of the movie. Other reviewers say there might be a few winks and sidelong glances, but some also insist that reports the movie features Disney’s first openly gay character are a stretch at best.

“If this was a film about a woman falling in love with an animal, I’m sure we would have something to say about that.”

You might be more familiar with the Centennial Institute at CCU because of the annual gathering it hosts in Denver each summer called the Western Conservative Summit (WCS). Last July, Donald Trump’s speech at the WCS marked his first visit to Colorado as the likely Republican nominee for President.

The Centennial Institute was founded in 2009 and run by former State Senator John Andrews until he retired last year. Over the years the Institute has grown increasingly militant in its public statements and fundraising pitches, employing fantastical phrases like “the secularist Left” and railing against “radical, anti-God liberals” of the world. We briefly considered ignoring this story altogether, rather than giving them any more publicity, but this protest is so ridiculous that it deserves all of the sunlight and associated mockery that comes with it. Plus, Luning’s story contains perhaps the best quote we’ve read this year:

[Hunt] also brushed aside a joke that’s been making the rounds — what’s the big deal about a gay character when the heroine is falling in love with a water buffalo?  — since the controversy over the movie’s “gay moment” emerged.

“He’s a man first,” Hunt said with a chuckle, pointing out that a spell has turned a prince into the Beast and that Beauty’s love turns him back into a man.

“If this was a film about a woman falling in love with an animal, I’m sure we would have something to say about that,” he added.

Beauty and the Beast is in theaters everywhere this weekend. Go see it twice.

Bipartisan Resolve To Defend Marijuana Proves Sessions’ Folly

Molon labe.

As Brian Heuberger reported for the Colorado Statesman this week, there may be Republicans in Colorado willing to publicly support parts of the new administration’s agenda–but on the subject of Colorado’s legal marijuana industry, which is under direct threat from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, there is no daylight between Colorado Republicans and Democrats:

With U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions hinting that the Trump administration might intensify the enforcement of federal marijuana laws, Colorado leaders from both sides of the aisle have come to the defense of the state’s legal marijuana industry in an uncommon show of solidarity in what many consider to be divisive political times of unmatched proportion.

High-level Colorado politicians like Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper have both publicly defended what has become a lucrative recreational marijuana industry for the state. And many other state officials have joined them in contending that Colorado has a constitutional right to legalize marijuana and that the regulations established by the state have been statistically proven to have been effective so far.

Supporters are quick to emphasize the positive economic impact the industry has had in Colorado and the likely downward economic spiral that would occur should that now-bustling industry be tampered with by the federal government.

Likewise, both Rep. Mike Coffman and Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman are promising to fight any move by Sessions to clamp down on marijuana in Colorado:

Rep. Mike Coffman is suggesting he might use the power of the purse to protect Colorado’s legal marijuana industry…

If Sessions does take action Coffman said he’d “have to fight the Attorney General on this.” He suggested he’d do so through congress’ power to appropriate money for the administration’s budget.

Colorado’s Republican attorney general, Cynthia Coffman—a legalization opponent who says she would defend state law against Sessions—speculated, “It sounds like there is room for states to have legalization … But what it seems to portend is the federal government will be at the borders to stop marijuana from crossing state lines.”

The reason why you have all of these public officials in both parties standing shoulder-to-shoulder on marijuana, despite the fact that most of them opposed legalization to begin with, is that the experience of legalized marijuana in Colorado has rendered the issue moot here. Public support has grown, not declined, since Colorado led the way into a legalization trend that has now grown to numerous states–including all-important California, the most populous state in the nation.

In short, on this issue, our local Republicans and Democrats are responding to the clear wishes of their constituents. They know that to join Sessions on a crusade against legal pot would be politically disastrous for Colorado Republicans at this point. And the fact is, if Sessions does decide to shut down Colorado’s billion-dollar legal marijuana industry and in the other legalized states, Republicans could pay dearly at the polls in the next election all over the country including Colorado–regardless of what local Republicans do to oppose it.

So be at least a bit reassured, stoners. For the moment, both parties have got your back.

House Plans to Vote on Trumpcare on Thursday

(Image via Whiskey Politics)

Multiple media outlets are reporting that House Republicans are going to attempt to vote on Trumpcare at the end of next week. From CNN:

Republican leaders plan a vote Thursday to repeal and replace much of Obamacare, optimistic that President Donald Trump can help them close the deal, multiple House Republican sources tell CNN.

Leaders continue to work toward the 216 votes needed to back the health care bill led by House Speaker Paul Ryan, and believe with some of the changes they are making they are securing additional support.

Friday morning, members of the Republican Study Committee — who have expressed serious doubts about the House’s health care bill — emerged from a meeting at the White House supportive…

…The timeline is still fluid and subject to change, but Republican members are being told that the current House bill is on track and being reworked to include the option for states to impose work requirements for able-bodied adults who are on Medicaid, something the RSC has been lobbying for. The RSC also was told, according to a GOP aide, that states were given the option to receive block grant funding rather than per capita funding.

Given all of the negative press that the GOP Healthcare bill has received — both nationally and here in Colorado — it’s hard to believe that Republicans really think they can come up with enough votes in the House to pass the legislation.

On the other hand…perhaps House Republicans are just hoping to kick this turd over to the Senate and force the upper chamber to decide on the fate of Trumpcare.

Coffman once said it was “very radical” to give health insurance to millions of people who now have it under Obamacare

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) is making conflicting statements on whether he wants to continue to give health insurance to the 400,000 Coloradans, including 14,000 in his district, who got health insurance under Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid.

This raises the familiar question with Coffman, Where does he really stand?

If he decides to phase out the Medicaid expansion, as proposed in the GOP legislation to repeal Obamacare, Coffman would be taking a position that in line with his stance on the expansion when it was first proposed in the Affordable Care Act.

Discussing the Obamacare legislation in 2009, before it became law, Coffman called the proposed medicaid expansion “very radical.”

Coffman: “Although when you look underneath the surface, there are some very radical elements to this bill such as the expansion of Medicaid, a government run healthcare program.”

Coffman’s thinking in 2009 is in line with the Republican Obamacare replacement bill, which would phase out the expansion of Medicaid and which would eventually throw a total of 600,000 Coloradans off the insurance rolls, and is up for a U.S. House vote Thursday.

Coffman said Saturday that he’d vote for the GOP bill “in its current form.” A spokesman subsequently told 9News that Coffman was still reviewing the bill. Then Coffman told a constituents on a telephone call that he supported the GOP health bill but was concerned about the impact on Medicaid expansion.

In a March 7 radio interview, Coffman explained in more detail why he thinks the GOP healthcare bill “does a good job in terms of Medicaid expansion.” Coffman likes how the bill reforms the “entire Medicaid system” and sends it “down to the states.”

Coffman:  Okay.  So what it essentially does, is it takes those who would prospectively be eligible for the Medicaid expansion, going forward, as we phase it out, and it offers them the ability — nobody’s forced in this — to have what’s called an advanceable, refundable tax credit.  And it essentially is  — will pay for, uh, pretty – most of their premium costs.  And will push that population into the individual insurance market.  And so, I get that it is controversial, but is in fact a replacement, of sorts, for the Medicaid expansion…

Coffman:  I — well, you know, I think the bill, in my view, does a good job in terms of Medicaid expansion, from my perspective, you know, but we have to reform the entire Medicaid system, and so we can debate that on the mar–.  You know, is it a block grant, at the end of the day?  Is it some sort of capitated amount per enrollee?  But I think, at the end of the day, we’ve got to stop managing this program out of Washington DC.  We’ve got to devolve it down to the states.

Does Coffman still believe this, in light of conflicting statements in the past 10 days?

Given his position in 2009 when he was up front about his position against Obamacare, plus the fact that the majority of Coffman’s statements, including all the comments that came from his mouth as opposed to a spokesperson’s, point to his support of the GOP bill,  you’d be on solid ground in concluding that, yes, Coffman is ready to take health insurance away from Coloradans who got it under Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.

White House Apologizes to Brits for “Wiretapping” Claims

UPDATE: Or not…

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We wrote yesterday about the completely absurd press briefing at the White House, in which Press Secretary Sean Spicer ignored all facts to the contrary in order to defend President Trump’s ridiculous claims that he was “wiretapped” by President Obama. Over at “The Fix,” they’re calling this a “new low” for the Trump administration, and we’re certainly not going to argue now that the White House has succeeded in pissing off our closest ally.

Give it a rest, will ya?

As CNN reports:

The White House has apologized to the British government after alleging that a UK intelligence agency spied on President Donald Trump at the behest of former President Barack Obama.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster spoke with his British counterpart on Thursday about press secretary Sean Spicer’s comment from the White House podium about a Fox News report that said British intelligence helped wiretap Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign, a White House official said Friday…

…Earlier Friday, a spokesman for May said senior UK officials had protested to the Trump administration after the claims were repeated by Spicer.

“We’ve made clear to the US administration that these claims are ridiculous and should be ignored. We’ve received assurances that these allegations won’t be repeated,” May’s spokesman said. [Pols emphasis]

We wish we could enthusiastically endorse the idea that “these allegations won’t be repeated,” but we are still talking about the Trump administration here.

Colorado Week in Review: 3/17/17

Friday Open Thread

“One is never so dangerous when one has no shame, than when one has grown too old to blush.”

–Marquis de Sade