Trump Public Lands Director Won’t Say Why He Denies Global Warming–And Says He Has Yet to Be “Briefed” on It

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Acting BLM Director William Perry Pendley.

In a contentious exchange with journalists Friday, the acting director of the federal agency in charge of most public lands in the U.S. insisted his “personal views,” which include a denial of global warming and hostility toward immigrants, have no bearing on his job and he repeatedly refused to discuss his opinions on some topics.

But William Perry Pendley, the acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management, contradicted his no-personal-opinion stance by offering strong opinions on other topics.

“You have been clear in the past, on twitter and elsewhere, that you don’t think climate change exists,” New York Times reporter Lisa Friedman told Pendley during a panel discussion at the annual Society of Environmental Journalists’ conference in Ft. Collins. “I’m hoping that you can clarify for us, first, what did you mean by that? What don’t you think exists? Is it, you don’t think greenhouse gases are warming the earth? Is it something else? What scientists do you rely on for those conclusions, and if the answer required is that this is your personal opinion, maybe you could explain to us some concrete things that you’ve done to help inform or discuss this issue and ensure that personal opinions are not at play in making policy decisions.”

“Nope, not going to clarify,” replied Penley, who’d said earlier in the session that, in his role as BLM director, he’d not yet been “briefed” on climate change issues, in his new job, and did not know when he would be briefed. “Those are my personal opinions.”

“I’m a Marine. I follow orders,” Pendley responded, saying his boss, Secretary of Interior David Benhardt, has said global warming exists and humans have an impact. “He’s told me the way it’s going to be, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”

In response to another journalist’s question, Pendley refused to say whether he still thought “illegal immigration is spreading like a cancer,” as he wrote in a 2007 fundraising letter.

“My personal opinions are irrelevant,” responded Pendley, who will be visiting the border next week to inspect BLM land that his agency must clear for use in construction of Trump’s proposed border wall along the Mexican border. “I have a new job now. I’m a zealous advocate for my client. My client is the American people. And my boss is the president of the United States and Secretary Bernhardt. So what I thought, what I wrote, what I did in the past is irrelevant. I have orders. I have laws to obey, and I intend to do that.”

But Pendley was eager to offer his personal opinion on multiple other issues that arose in the session.

When the panel’s moderator asked all the members of the panel for their thoughts on the proposals by Democratic presidential candidates to stop all new fossil fuel leasing from public lands and public waters, Pendley said, “I’ll jump in,” and he slammed the idea.

“I would be absolutely devastating not just to the American West but to the entire country,” he said. “A tremendous amount of the energy we use every day, whether it’s natural gas or oil, comes from federal lands.

“I can give no other word for it than, absolutely insane and a terrible blow to the American people, to the West. We’ll see how that stands up,” he added. “…I think the overwhelming majority of American people would vote against it.”

Pendley’s desire to pick and choose which of his views to discuss leaves much on the table–because he was widely known as a hardened conservative activist, with extreme views, prior to his appointment to his post by Bernhard in July.

He once accused federal land managers and advocates of “tyranny” for “waging war on the West.”

Pendley served under much-criticized Secretary of Interior James Watt from 1981-1984 and was accused at the time of selling coal resources at the Powder River Basin to industry entities at a $100 million loss to taxpayers.

As the long-time Director of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, a conservative advocacy group based in Colorado, Pendley supported Cliven Bundy, the renegade anti-government activist who occupied public lands in a 2014 standoff with the Bureau of Land Management.

On Thursday during an interview on talk radio in Dener, Pendely inched toward supporting folks like Bundy.

The radio host referenced “families fighting with the government” and a “shoot out,” and then asked Pendley about people who feel like the government isn’t on their side.

Without responding directly to the “shoot out” comment by the Libertarian radio host Ross Kaminsky, Pendley framed himself as a defender of the people against government.

“Over the last 30 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with loggers, miners, ranchers, recreationists, canoeists, boaters,” Pendley told KHOW radio’s Ross Kaminsky. “You name it, I’ve worked with them, represented them, gone to the Supreme Court on their behalf. And so, I get their situation vis a vis the federal government.”

“When I was with the Reagan Administration, our desire was to be a good neighbor — [for] the federal government [to] be a good neighbor to local citizens. That’s President Trump’s desire. That’s Secretary Bernhardt’s desire, to be a good neighbor.”

Weekend Open Thread

“It is the false shame of fools to try to conceal wounds that have not healed.”


Is Cory Gardner Done?

JAMES CARVILLE: That poor guy, I don’t think he is vulnerable, I think he’s done. He ought to just drop out of the race.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

In the past 24 hours, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado has transitioned from merely the nation’s most vulnerable Republican Senator up for re-election in 2020 into a living metaphor for the Republican Party’s inability to hold President Donald Trump accountable as Trump’s chaotic presidency barrels toward catastrophe.

Gardner was not the only vulnerable Republican caught giving completely unsatisfactory answers to reporters about impeachment inquiry dominating national headlines, but Gardner’s evasive and increasingly hostile interaction with FOX 31’s Joe. St. George and 9NEWS’ Anusha Roy seems to have struck a nerve like few other moments in Gardner’s career. This was hardly Gardner’s first go-round trying to manage a bad Trump story, but after these two competing reporters tag-teamed to prevent Gardner from changing the subject his “torture to watch” evasions became the functional equivalent of pleading guilty. The Hill’s Jordain Carney captured the moment well:

When the reporter tried to follow up to ask again if Gardner thought it was appropriate, Gardner said that he had answered the question and turned to another reporter.

After the second reporter asked Gardner if his answer was “yes or no,” the GOP senator pivoted to talking about House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry and told reporters they were focusing on politics…

The clip of the back-and-forth between Garner and reporters quickly garnered attention from national media, Gardner’s 2020 rivals and even Trump, who liked a tweet from a Bloomberg reporter weighing in on a video of Gardner’s comments. [Pols emphasis]

Given the extent of the backfire, perhaps Gardner’s performance was worse than pleading guilty.

One of the recurring comments we’ve seen in response to yesterday’s punishing back-and-forth is that it was an “uncharacteristic” reaction from a Senator who has established a reputation for staying composed no matter what he’s confronted with. But yesterday Gardner’s mask slipped, and in addition to getting visibly irritated in the clip now seen by the whole country he had this telling separate exchange with 9NEWS’ Anusha Roy:

Folks, that is not how a happy politician interacts with the press.

In 2014, Gardner powered through scrutiny of his record by audaciously re-inventing himself and successfully turning liabilities into sympathetic backlash against his “overly negative” opponent. Five years later, Gardner can’t count on any of that–and the “message discipline” that helped Gardner eke out his 1.9% win in 2014 is blowing up in Gardner’s face.

Cory Gardner has never faced anything quite like this before. In a way, this problem is worse than Gardner’s underwater poll numbers, since losing credibility with the media makes it much harder to recover lost support. And while we don’t expect Gardner to take James Carville’s advice today…the thought has to have crossed his mind by now.

Alice Madden Dropping Out of Senate Race

Today is Dropout Friday, apparently. Former House Majority Leader Alice Madden is ending her bid for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate:

Madden’s Senate candidacy was really just getting started by the time it became clear that Gov. John Hickenlooper would be entering the race. Hickenlooper’s overwhelming advantage in both name ID and fundraising made it hard for Madden to find a lane for her own campaign.

Crisanta Duran Ends Congressional Campaign

Rep. Diana DeGette (left) and Crisanta Duran

As Ernest Luning reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, former State House Speaker Crisanta Duran is ending her bid to unseat Rep. Diana DeGette in Denver’s first congressional district:

Former Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran on Friday dropped her Democratic primary challenge against U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, saying she believes she can “be more effective in pursuing transformational change through other means.”

Her withdrawal comes just over two weeks after the Denver attorney underwent emergency surgery for what Duran described in a Facebook post as an imminent ruptured appendix her doctor told her was potentially life-threatening.

As she was recovering, Duran posted a photo of herself in a hospital bed and said that she was “taking time to recover and reflecting on much,” adding that there was “More to come. …”

“I’ve always known that purpose is more important than one’s title,” Duran said in an email to supporters announcing that she was ending her campaign, adding: “Words cannot begin to express my gratitude to those who had the courage to support the campaign and demand bold and innovative leadership for the people of Congressional District 1.”

Health concerns aside, Duran’s exit from the race in CO-1 is not much of a surprise. The former Denver legislator has had trouble attracting much interest in her campaign, which failed to raise more than $100k in each of its first two fundraising periods, and there was no clear path for her heading into 2020. The incumbent DeGette took Duran’s candidacy seriously from the start and worked strategically to cut her off at every corner.

Hopefully Duran can use this time to focus on her health. We wish her well.

Ambassador Will Ignore Trump and Testify Before Congress

UPDATE: CNN reports on some eye-opening statements today from Marie Yovanovitch, former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

The White House has been refusing to cooperate with Congress regarding impeachment investigations, but it appears that President Trump’s hands are not large enough to corral all of his underlings. As the Washington Post reports:

U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a key figure in the Ukraine controversy, bucked the State Department on Friday and announced he would appear before House investigators under subpoena next week.

The State Department blocked Sondland from appearing before three panels last week as the White House informed Democratic leaders they had no intention of cooperating with the impeachment inquiry.

Lawmakers also are hearing closed-door testimony Friday from Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who was recalled from her post in May.

As NBC News reports, Sondland may have realized that he had better speak for himself on this matter:

Fiona Hill, who was until recently President Donald Trump’s top aide on Russia and Europe, plans to tell Congress that Rudy Giuliani and E.U. ambassador Gordon Sondland circumvented the National Security Council and the normal White House process to pursue a shadow policy on Ukraine, a person familiar with her expected testimony told NBC News.

Hill’s appearance next week before Congress has stoked fear among people close to the president, said a former senior White House official, given her central role overseeing Russia and Ukraine policy throughout most of the Trump administration…

…Hill plans to say that Giuliani and Sondland side-stepped the proper process for accessing Trump on Ukraine issues, the person familiar with her expected testimony said, including circumventing John Bolton, who was Trump’s national security adviser until September.

It appears that there are plenty of people not named Cory Gardner who have no intention of going quietly under the bus for the Big Orange Guy.

Liberty Oilfield Services CEO Likens Climate Change Science to Eugenics

(Uh… — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Speaking as part of a business panel hosted by Colorado Chamber of Commerce, Liberty Oilfield Services CEO Chris Wright was asked to name the biggest threat to his business. Wright responded by citing a “rising sense of fear and panic,” before giving a detailed summary of eugenics (culminating in the Holocaust), and then comparing it to modern climate science.

The Colorado Chamber’s annual luncheon featured keynote speaker U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO).

The event, titled “Business Elevated: Industries Driving the Colorado Economy,” included a panel discussion, moderated by Denver Business Journal reporter Ed Sealover, among business leaders on key political and policy issues impacting industries in Colorado.

Colorado Chamber Chair Stacey Campbell of Campbell Litigation, P.C. and HCA Healthcare Continental Division CEO Sylvia Young joined Gardner and Wright on the panel. GE Johnson CEO Jim Johnson was initially listed as participating, but did not attend. Both Wright and Johnson are five-figure donors to the Colorado Republican party.

For his first question, Sealover asked the business panelists to identify the biggest threat to their industry. Campbell talked broadly about the rising minimum wage, and Young discussed government interference and overreach in healthcare industry.

Then it was Wright’s turn. He began with the big picture, “We have a rising sense of fear and panic and this is a very dangerous environment for decision-making.” Then he proceeded to give a detailed historical summary of eugenics, noting that it was broadly supported by the academic and political communities of the time. He called that insane and noted that “it was taken too far –to extremes– in Europe” (a reference to the Holocaust). Wright then compared it to modern climate change science.


Friday Open Thread

“Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.”

–Elon Musk

Beginning Of The End? Gardner Implodes on Ukraine Questions

UPDATE #5: AP’s Nick Riccardi reports, Sen. Cory Gardner’s flop sweat is contagious:

On Thursday, two Republican senators — Joni Ernst of Iowa and Cory Gardner of Colorado — repeatedly refused to answer reporters’ questions on whether a president should make such a request of a rival power. “I don’t know that we have that information in front of us,” Ernst said in Iowa, even though the president made the request in front of cameras on the White House lawn.

In Denver, Gardner likewise wouldn’t answer reporters’ variations on the question 12 separate times before an appearance with the Colorado Chamber of Commerce. Like Ernst, he tried to punt to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating the circumstances around Trump’s private call with Ukraine. “It’s an answer that you get from a very serious investigation,” Gardner told reporters when asked about the appropriateness of the president’s public comments…

Ernst and Gardner seemed to follow a pattern set by fellow Republican Arizona Sen. Martha McSally — also a top Democratic target next year. On Monday, McSally also wouldn’t answer whether the president can ask for overseas help, instead referring to the Senate Intelligence Committee probe and taking swipes at House Democrats.


UPDATE #4 (4:10 pm): Gentle readers, the loop of the Ouroboros is closed:

It would appear that Sen. Gardner is now well and truly playing to an audience of one.


UPDATE #3 (3:45 pm): The Colorado Sun’s Jesse Paul:

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner on Thursday repeatedly refused to say whether he thinks it’s appropriate for the president to ask a foreign government to investigate a political rival.

In two sometimes-tense scrums with groups of reporters before and after an event with the Colorado Chamber of Commerce, the normally upbeat Colorado Republican rejected questions, accused a reporter of being biased and then jostled his way out of a downtown Denver hotel. It was an uncharacteristic display of frustration. [Pols emphasis]

The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter:

“This is a partisan exercise that ought to be about the seriousness of the moment,” he added. “I see that you guys are going to continue to drill this. I’ve given you my answer.”

Gardner met with reporters for more than five minutes at the Westin Denver Downtown, at times sounding exasperated by the repeated questions about impeachment. [Pols emphasis] He said more than once that it would be inappropriate for him to weigh in on impeachment before a full investigation has been conducted, even as he criticized the House’s impeachment inquiry.

Mark it down, folks. Today Cory Gardner’s political destiny took a big turn for the worse.


UPDATE #2 (3:40 pm): “Cory Gardner” is trending on Twitter at the moment — at #10 in the entire United States:


UPDATE: Democratic Senate candidate John Hickenlooper twists the knife:


Senator Cory Gardner is going down with the ship.

It was only a matter of time before Sen. Cory Gardner was cornered by a reporter and forced to discuss a subject he’s been doing his level best to avoid–the fast-moving impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump over his manipulation of foreign aid to Ukraine in order to pressure that nation to investigate the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Gardner’s longstanding lip service to defending Ukraine against Russian aggression has made Gardner’s silence on the issue problematic to say the least–but if you’re hoping Gardner was finally ready directly to address the situation, KRDO-TV’s report from yesterday evening after Gardner spoke to them in Colorado Springs will disappoint:

Speaking of the President, we also asked Gardner for his thoughts on the impeachment inquiry. He said the probe feels one-sided, “I’m very concerned this has turned into a partisan circus right now.”

He says some Democrats have even admitted they need to impeach Trump now or face losing the 2020 election. “That is taking this into politics and using a constitutional weapon and that type of political circus doesn’t benefit anybody,” Gardner says.

And…that’s it. No acknowledgement of the seriousness of the allegations against President Donald Trump, or the condemnation of Trump from a growing number of fellow Republicans, or how Trump’s actions affect Gardner’s own stated foreign policy priorities. Nothing but evasion and finger-pointing. This morning at a Colorado Chamber of Commerce event in Denver, Gardner tried the same approach–but instead of getting away with it, Gardner was punished with two minutes of video that every Colorado voter needs to see:

The transcript is almost as brutal as watching the video:


Mike Pence is a Blubbering Idiot on Ukraine

You’re not getting away from this one, Mike

Vice President Mike Pence perhaps still holds out hope that something will prevent President Trump from completing his term in office and allow Pence to at least sit behind the Resolute Desk for a few days. Pence has been trying to lay low amid the latest scandals enveloping the White House, but he apparently hasn’t been spending that time practicing his answers to questions about Ukraine.

As the Washington Post reports, Pence needs some new talking points. STAT!:

…when pressed Wednesday on what he knew and when he knew it, Pence was extremely evasive — and conspicuously so.

Pence has previously said that his meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in early September included no talk about investigating the Bidens, but that they did discuss the broader concept of “corruption.” A whistleblower has also alleged that Trump canceled Pence’s planned trip to Zelensky’s May inauguration and sent Energy Secretary Rick Perry instead — one of several indications that high-level meetings have been withheld for leverage.

So with that as the backdrop, NBC News’s Vaughn Hillyard did yeoman’s work Wednesday pressing Pence on the matter. But Pence declined to directly answer many of the questions he was asked. Most notably, he repeatedly declined to say whether he we even aware of Trump’s interest in getting Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. [Pols emphasis]

Biden? Hmmm…the name sounds vaguely familiar. No, no, I don’t know anybody named “Biden.”

Pence didn’t limit his gibberish to his NBC News interview. As CNN reports:

Vice President Mike Pence is defending President Donald Trump for asking the Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden — even when faced with his past comments on foreign interference in US politics.

In Iowa on Wednesday, CNN’s Randi Kaye asked Pence if he stood by his comments during the 2016 election that foreign governments “cannot participate” in the US political process.

“Well, I do,” Pence replied. “I think that’s why President Trump is so concerned about a foreign interference in our election in Ukraine.” [Pols emphasis]

Speaking of pretending to be concerned about foreign interference in American elections, this is what Pence said back in 2016: “This is basic stuff. Foreign donors, and certainly foreign governments, cannot participate in the American political process.”


CNN political guru Chris Cillizza is baffled by Pence’s double-talk:

…this defense makes zero sense. Like, none. It’s totally clear that Trump was asking Zelensky for help in digging up dirt on the leading Democratic candidate in the 2020 presidential race. He was not simply telling Zelensky that “our country had been through a lot, and then had a question about foreign interference in our 2016 election” as Pence described it. That is simply not accurate. [Pols emphasis]

Cillizza suggests that Pence remains a loyal soldier to Trump because he’ll need the Big Orange Guy to support his eventual campaign for President, but that seems like an odd bargain. By the time 2024 rolls around, Trump’s endorsement probably won’t be worth squat.

Halliburt-Oh No! Big Oil BS Explodes In Local GOP Faces

The last 24 hours have witnessed a remarkable turn of events that has played out mostly on social media, and resulted in considerable embarrassment for local Republicans and the fossil fuel energy industry PR people who they work closely with. The long battle this year over Senate Bill 19-181, landmark legislation reforming the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission that passed this year, has been a story of hyperbole and engineered backlash slowly giving way to the reality of a law that, while reforming regulatory oversight of oil and gas drilling to prioritize public safety over “fostering” more oil and gas drilling, does not represent anything like the disaster for the industry Republicans and industry flacks like the Colorado Oil and Gas Association warned it would be.

Closing the gap between propaganda and reality over SB-181 was part of the reason why the spate of recall attempts mounted by the Colorado GOP in 2019 against various state legislators and Gov. Jared Polis fizzled–in marked contrast to the infamous 2013 recalls over gun safety legislation. As energy companies assured their investors that they were still able to operate under the new regulations and the swift destruction of the industry in Colorado failed to materialize, the outrage evaporated–and unlike the social wedge issues that have kept the far right frothing at the mouth, it’s the energy industry that has the money to actually retaliate if they wished to. And they don’t.

But despite all the news in recent weeks about the energy industry’s success adapting and prospering in the new regulatory environment of SB-181, energy services giant Halliburton announced this week the layoff of 650 employees in four states, including 178 in Grand Junction. The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Dennis Webb:

Company spokesperson Emily Mir said in an email Tuesday that the company “made reductions to its employee workforce in Grand Junction due to local market conditions. Making this decision was not easy, nor taken lightly, but unfortunately it was necessary as we work to align our operations to reduced customer activity.”

She said that across Halliburton’s Rockies region, which includes Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and North Dakota, about 650 employees were affected…

In July, the Houston Chronicle reported that Halliburton cut 8% of its North American workforce as it took fleets of hydraulic fracturing equipment out of the field due to a continued slump in demand for frack services due to low oil prices.

The extremely close relationship between the Colorado GOP and the oil and gas industry means that they regularly coordinate to achieve common goals. Sure enough, Colorado Republicans and energy PR flacks leapt on this story with a ferocity and quickness that strongly suggests they were coordinated. And of course, the acrimony was laid entirely at the feet of Gov. Polis and SB-181:

The hard push from local Republicans and their comms operatives to hype this story against the prevailing narrative on SB-181 shows how desperate they are to inflict political damage on Democrats ahead of the 2020 elections. 2019 is coming to a close for the Colorado GOP as a “lost year” of further weakness after their devastating losses in 2018, and they’re scrambling for any political leverage they can find in the wreckage.

But a funny thing happened after yesterday’s coordinated message offensive against SB-181: notwithstanding FOX 31’s Joe St. George who got duped again, local reporters pushed back just as hard on the GOP’s spin.


Colorado GOP’s “Stop the Madness” Pro-Trump Event Invokes Racial Themes

(Stay classy, Colorado GOP – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Keeping America Great, sort of:

If these half dozen protesters want to “stop the madness,” we suggest they go inside and have some hot chocolate.


Trump Victory, along with Colorado Republican Party leaders, is hosting a “counter-impeachment” press conference today called, “Stop the Madness!” The event is one of many such events across the country, coordinated by the Republican National Committee (RNC), which says its goal is simply “to cause chaos.”

The press conference will call on Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO) to “drop the impeachment inquiry against President Trump,” according to a news release. The event takes place at Crow’s Aurora office at 11:00 a.m. today.

The website features photos of three of the four congresswomen known as “The Squad,” women of color at whom Trump has tweeted racist insults in recent months.

Speakers at the event include: Colorado GOP Vice Chair Kristi Burton Brown, Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) and Congressional District 6 candidates Steve House and Casper Stockham.

Also appearing is right-wing social media personality, Ashley St. Clair, a former Colorado Springs college student who worked as a “brand ambassador” for Turning Point USA until two weeks ago. The far-right group dropped St. Clair after Right Wing Watch’s Jared Holt reported on photos of her partying with white nationalists at an alt-right gathering in Florida last month.

Prior to working with Turning Point USA, St. Clair interned with the Starboard Group, the preeminent fundraising firm for Colorado Republicans, chiefly Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), whose holiday party she attended.

St. Clair was in Aurora back in July to counter-protest the pro-immigration rally that took place at the contract ICE facility.

Trump remains unpopular in Colorado, according to multiple polls, so unpopular, in fact, that former Congressman Mike Coffman blamed his defeat to Crow directly on Trump.

There’s no evidence that Crow’s district is feeling any more warmly toward Trump now.

Still, the RNC is targeting Crow as part of a $2 million advertising campaign for allegedly not “reaching across the aisle” to work with Trump.

As part of this, the RNC has also set up a StopTheMadness website, which will be a “one-stop clearing house to defend the president — including opportunities for people to sign up as a volunteer, details on how to show up to a counter protest, and more.

“The Democrats refuse to accept the results of the 2016 election and are on a never-ending fishing expedition to tear down President Trump,” states the website. “We need your help in standing up to these members of Congress across the nation to stop the madness!”

The site’s centerpiece is a video that links the impeachment inquiry to violence. Besides Pelosi, it features three members of Congress: Rep Maxine Waters (D-CA), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rep. Al Green (D-TX). All three are African-American.

Jason Salzman contributed to this report.

Brauchler Compares Prop CC Ballot Measure to Sex Assault

(It’s so weird that Brauchler failed at running for both Governor AND Attorney General in 2018 🙄 Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“This is the hand on the knee, and if we don’t swat it away, they’re going to come for TABOR with a big, deep, tongue-down-your-throat kiss, here, next year or about a year after that.”

That’s Arapahoe County District Attorney George Brauchler on KHOW radio yesterday (at 43 min 30 seconds), using a sexual-assault analogy to convince voters not to approve a ballot measure allowing Colorado to spend all the tax revenue it already collects.

“Slippery slope,” is a much gentler way of making Brauchler’s argument, and it’s not clear why Brauchler felt the need to use the inflammatory language.

The primary argument that advocates of the ballot measure are making is, the state needs to remove restrictions on its budget so that it can “fix our roads and bridges, improve our schools by hiring and retaining the best teachers, and improve our economy with investments that help all Coloradans.”

Opponents like Brauchler say there’s already enough money.

Do we need to bring up sexual assault to debate this, asked one proponent, pointing out that most Coloradans have already voted at the local level to let the government keep all the taxes it collects. This measure would extend it statewide.

The question, called Proposition CC, on the ballot reads: “Without raising taxes and to better fund public schools, higher education, and roads, bridges and transit, within a balanced budget, may the state keep and spend all the revenue it annually collects after June 30, 2019, but is not currently allowed to keep and spend under Colorado law, with an annual independent audit to show hoe the retained revenues are spent?”

Colorado conservatives have been using sex-assault analogies lately to throw punches in debates about state taxes and budgets. Jon Caldara used a similar date-rape analogy in Denver Post last month in a column headlined, “Why Date Rapists Hate Tabor.”

Given that one in five U.S. women has been raped, the use of sex-assault analogies in political campaigns is risky at best but more likely counter-productive, say political strategists.

Squirrel! Gardner Tries (Poorly) to Draw Attention Elsewhere

Another gold star for Cory.

Earlier this week we wrote about Sen. Cory Gardner’s attempt to appear as though he is taking a very important position on a very obvious policy question regarding President Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Gardner voiced his opposition to Trump’s move but hasn’t done much else of note; Turkey has since attacked U.S.-aligned Kurdish forces in Northern Syria, which means that U.S. allies that had been focused on fighting against ISIS are now instead worried about protecting their own families from the Turkish military.

Gardner’s comments about Syria were interesting mostly because he has said virtually nothing about other recent foreign policy problems created by President Trump’s distressing discussions with Ukraine and China. This is a pretty standard practice by Gardner when faced with pressure to comment on a distasteful situation involving his own political party; it is the equivalent of yelling “SQUIRREL!” and pointing behind someone so that you can run away when they turn their head.

Ol’ Cory is suddenly very excitable about how the National Basketball Association (NBA) may be dealing with free speech issues related to protests in Hong Kong (we’ll get to the hypocrisy of this response in a moment). He’s a bit mixed up about the facts, but Gardner nevertheless Tweeted about the issue yesterday and then followed up again this morning:

Surprise! Gardner’s manufactured angst isn’t supported by recent developments. As Jerry Brewer writes for the Washington Post, the NBA actually did the right thing in this situation, albeit belatedly:

In less than a week, the NBA has been stunned, soft, clumsy and redemptive in addressing a tweet sent by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey that supported pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

After the league initially expressed regret about Morey’s actions and left the impression of an apology, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has clarified the league’s position and refused to back down amid increased pressure from the Chinese government and businesses to make an example of Morey.

On Tuesday, Silver made it very clear that the NBA will not restrict the speech of its employees even if that decision may harm its economic interests in China:

It is inevitable that people around the world — including from America and China — will have different viewpoints over different issues.  It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences.

However, the NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues.  We simply could not operate that way. [Pols emphasis]

Now, here’s where Gardner’s faux outrage gets particularly disgusting. As CNN reported last week, “President Trump promised Chinese President Xi Jinping that the US would remain quiet on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong while trade talks continued.” In other words, Trump did EXACTLY what Gardner is mistakenly berating the NBA for doing. From CNN:

The remarkable pledge to the Chinese leader is a dramatic departure from decades of US support for human rights in China and shows just how eager Trump is to strike a deal with Beijing as the trade war weighs on the US economy. [Pols emphasis]

And like other calls with the leaders of Ukraine, Russia and Saudi Arabia, records of Trump’s call with Xi were moved to a highly-classified, codeword-protected system, greatly limiting the number of administration officials who were aware of the conversation.

Trump’s commitment to China had immediate and far-reaching effects throughout the US government as the President’s message was sent far and wide.

And what was Gardner’s response about President Trump’s direct promise to China to not talk about protests in Hong Kong?

That’s right, Sen. Cory Gardner hasn’t said a damn thing about President Trump’s pledge to prevent U.S. officials from commenting on Hong Kong protests in order to curry favor with China.

“This is what communist dictators do, not the U.S.,” said Gardner in his Tweet today about the NBA — conveniently ignoring the fact that this is exactly what President Trump did just a few months ago. Gardner even traveled to New York City last weekend to headline a Trump re-election fundraiser, knowing full well what Trump had said to China’s President.

Unbelievable? Not if you know anything about Cory Gardner.