Get More Smarter on Monday (Aug. 10)

Get More SmarterReady for another Trumpalicious week? It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).


► Friday afternoon’s decision by the Aurora theater shooting jury to not impose the death penalty remains the top discussion item in Colorado today. The Denver Post ran a story specifically on the reactions of Colorado politicos:

“Our thoughts remain with the victims and families who have suffered unspeakable tragedy. No verdict can bring back what they have lost but we hope they begin to find peace and healing in the coming weeks.”

— [Gov. John] Hickenlooper, after the verdict

“Today’s verdict proves again that the Death Penalty is arbitrary. Only people on Death row in CO are Black. It has no place in CO.”

— Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, on Twitter

“First and foremost our hearts go out to the victims and their families, who will never have their lives back and whom we must always keep in our prayers. My hope is that this sentence brings them some measure of closure and solace. I’m not going to second guess the jury’s verdict because this is the way our system works, but I continue to believe that the death penalty should be retained in Colorado as an option for circumstances and crimes that call for the ultimate punishment. Just because this jury, in this case, didn’t believe it was appropriate, doesn’t mean future juries should be denied that option.”

— Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs

► Another big story from the weekend, a huge accidental spill of mine wastewater from an abandoned mine above Silverton that was being worked by the Environmental Protection Agency, is showing signs of improvement, at least for the immediate future as long-term consequences are assessed. Durango Herald today:

Like a comet, the 3 million gallons of toxic water accidentally released from the Gold King Mine in Silverton brought intense but hopefully passing effects.

The fact that the river has not seen any widespread fish or insect dieoffs five days after the initial release is a good reason to be optimistic, he said.

Political fallout from both of these stories is certain to dominate local headlines for at least the next few days. We’ll have more on each in separate posts later today.

Get even more smarter after the jump…


► Just in time for school to start up again, Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is rolling out a $350 billion plan to tackle the problem of college affordability and student loan debt.

► Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders continues to be dogged by Black Lives Matter protesters disrupting his events while Sanders looks on annoyedly. We get that it’s not convenient to have your event co-opted, but the protesters have a point that dying at the hands of a trigger-happy cop isn’t terribly convenient either. Are anti-police brutality protesters burning bridges, or are white progressives not getting it?

► More hearings today over the troubled VA replacement medical center project in Aurora. At a Disabled American veterans conference in Denver this weekend, VA Secretary Robert McDonald defended the agency’s record, and implored Congress to help him get the damn hospital built:

While the VA and Congress have yet to agree on a financing plan, McDonald expressed confidence that they will.

“I don’t know of a single member of Congress who wants to punish a veteran,” he said.

Timed for this weekend’s event, make sure to read the Denver Post’s in-depth story on how the Aurora VA project went off the rails. There’s plenty of blame to go around, including for the chairman of the VA’s Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee, Rep. Mike Coffman.

► Sen. Michael Bennet is sponsoring new legislation to help restore Voting Rights Act protections after the Supreme Court gutted them in 2013.

► The National Conference of State Legislatures passed a statement at their annual convention this weekend in Seattle telling the federal government to butt out of state marijuana policies.

Joyce Rankin, former educator wife of GOP state Rep. Bob Rankin of Carbondale, was appointed Saturday to replace outgoing Marcia Neal of Grand Junction on the State Board of Education–a move that ties the state board’s fractious politics even more tightly to similar fights playing out in the state legislature.


The Interfaith Alliance is just one of a growing number of civic interest groups standing up to defend Planned Parenthood as usual-suspect attacks on the organization continue.

► The Boulder County GOP’s “knock Obama out” beanbag toss game isn’t offensive. Got it, crybabies?


► There’s still no credible threat to military members from supposed “Middle Eastern men” accosting Colorado military families. We await Sen. Cory Gardner’s apologetic press release talking constituents down off the proverbial ledge, but sadly we’re not holding our breath.

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20 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. While I agree that the death penalty no longer has any place in Colorado (or in the country), I feel that Rep. Melton's statement brings up race when it shouldn't. The few people on death row here in Colorado – all Black, as the Representative points out – are all models of sanity compared to the Aurora shooter. And the prosecutor in this case really, really wanted the death penalty – there is not the slightest evidence of racial bias involved.

    We need to be aware that the justice system is heavily biased against Black and Hispanic populations here and throughout the nation, but I'd be hard-pressed to justify our current death row – or the outcome of this trial – based on racial discrimination and bias. So let's not cry "Wolf!" in this case, when there are plenty of racial bias wolves out and about that really need our attention.

  2. I don't understand what #BlackLivesMatter hopes to accomplish by repeatedly interrupting Sanders' events, other than that they get a platform in front of the largest politically active audiences in the nation. As far as I'm concerned, if someone interrupted an event I had taken time to see, I'd be miffed. I'd be doubly miffed if that event was showcasing the guy who started his political career as a Civil Rights activist and who undeniably has the most well-defined and farthest-reaching proposals to begin to deal with the problem of racial inequality and discrimination.

    I know that there are a lot of liberals, progressives, and civil rights activists out there who don't agree with me – that #BLM is doing good in forcing their case into the public eye by disrupting Sanders' events. But, frankly – I can hear and see just fine, and understand the level of impatience built up by decades (centuries) of discrimination. Demonstrating it in this way only pushes me to focus on other groups. There are better ways. Just MNSHO.

    • BlueCat says:

      And why Bernie in particular?

    • mamajama55 says:

      The real Black Lives Matter is an authentic grassroots movement. Sanders is working with them, now, has a press secretary who is dynamite (video below) who is a member of BLM.

      The people who interrupted Sanders latest event in Seattle are not actually Black Lives Matter grassroots people. They are affiliated with the Socialist Worker Organization. Yes, they are Trotskyites, like the old Socialist Workers Party, which disrupted so many grassroots movements in the 1970s.

      See my comment from last Saturday, or my recent comments as mj55 on kos for more clarification and links.  In brief, the reason the Trots are disrupting Bernie's rallies are a) because they can – it's easy to access the stage. b) they see an organizing and recruitment opportunity, both with Black Lives Matter and with the Sanders supporters, and c) they are ideologically opposed to both Bernie's brand of Democratic socialism, and to black activists affiliating with the Democratic party.


      • bullshit! says:

        I'm very curious about this and am Googling to learn more. Links?

      • Were the same people responsible for the NetrootsNation protest? I don't think so. And most #BLM grassroots supporters seem to still be in support of the protests.

        If you're right and these two black activists really are opposed to black people supporting the Democratic Party, then you've got to shout louder – the headwinds are at hurricane strength right now.

        • mamajama55 says:

          bullshit – I don't know about the Netroots Nation protest, wasn't following this then. And I haven't really checked into any of the previous interruptions of Bernie's events. I've avoided writing a diary about it, so far. Partly because I do support the goals of Black Lives Matter, with my writing and with activism within my social circles. I am concerned that these Trotskyite activists are giving them a bad reputation, and probably dividing their groups.

          Other BLM activists interrupted  Bernie's events, but they didn't actually shut the event down. But in Seattle on Saturday, July 8, a Sanders rally of 15,000 people was completely shut down. I felt that was wrong – Bernie should be working with BLM, sure, speaking out about police violence and racial bias in the criminal justice system, but it was just not OK for two people to shut down a rally of 15,000 people, no matter what their agenda was. 

          Then I saw a diary on Kos by kbman, about how the women who rushed the stage and grabbed the mic were members of OutsideAgitators206. (OA206) and that their site linked to writings of Glen Ford, a pretty well known black journalist who works for a Canadian leftie TV network, TheRealNewsNetwork (TRRN).

          I started researching Glen Ford and found the Socialist Worker Organization connections. Marissa Johnson, one of the two mic-grabbers, spoke at a Socialist Worker/ BLM forum.

          SWO split off from Socialist Worker Party (SWP) in the 1980s. This resonated with my own experiences as an activist in the 1970s – SWP ruined the anti-war movement, the local Chicano rights movement, the women's abortion rights movements. 

          I myself was recruited by the SWP as a young high school anti-war and pro-abortion activist, and it took really seeing how they routinely lie and take credit for other people's organizing work, promote divisions within groups, and push the party membership and the party line constantly. Many of them were provocateurs, as well, possibly paid informers – they would try to create confrontations with the law when other coalition members wanted to keep the peace.

          As an example of the lies, the SWP paper had a giant photo of an anti-war rally supposedly organized by the SWP. You had to take a magnifying glass to see that it was the same dozen people, copied and pasted over and over to make up the "crowd".

          I started seeing and observing that the SWP did this with other groups, as well. This was during a period of time when the Soviet Union was falling apart, Communist regimes were failing all over the world, and leftists in the US were really questioning the whole "dictatorship of the proletariat" thing – it looked pretty much like a dictatorship of the elite. Still does, to me. I'm not any kind of a Marxist, these days.

          And I'm seeing these same patterns – of lies, confrontation, co-optation, divide and conquer tactics – being used to divide Black Lives Matter activists from progressive Sander activists, from the Democratic Party, from mainstream black politicians, etc.

          That's the story about why I have no love for Trotskyite socialist groups. Every group they get involved with, they destroy. So, bullshit, here's a couple more links on the actual policy differences that the OA206/Glen Ford / SWO crew have with Bernie Sanders' brand of Democratic Socialism. It explains why they're targeting Sanders instead of , say, Hillary or Trump.

          Glen Ford: Obama is not the lesser evil.

          Glen Ford:On Black and Working Class Political Independence The implications of His Ideas for Supporters of Bernie Sanders

          Glen Ford: The Democratic Party, Death Trap for U.S. Blacks—Independent Labour/Black Political Action”


          • What's BS? Read the kos diaries and you'll see, by and large, support for these protesters shutting down Bernie's speech – including this morning's "blackness" podcast highlighted on the daily Open Thread. Read the commentary in the diaries that aren't specifically about OA206 that are about BLM and Sanders.

            This is a Thing, just like Trump is a Thing with the GOP.

            • Davie says:

              Just guessing, but I think Mama believed she was addressing Mr. B.S. above, not characterizing your comment 😉

              • mamajama55 says:

                Thanks, Davie. Phoenix,I was replying to Mr. Bullshit!, Esq.

                I know that the controversy about the BLM protesting Sanders is definitely a "thing", that is not going to go away.

                FWIW, I think that the first Netroots protest was genuinely grassroots BLM  folks, whose true priority was bringing attention to the plight of people of color constantly getting gunned down by police.

                The Seattle 8/8 interruption that shut down the rally was the Socialist Worker folks,whose priorities are:

                1. Bring attention to racial injustices in policing, same as the grassroots BLM group.

                2. Divide Black justice activists from the Democratic party, from mainstream black politicians, and from Bernie Sanders.

                3. Selectively target Sanders because: They don't protest Republicans or Hillary because they have no hope of being listened to, or having access to the stage.

                O'Malley has a more complete police reform plan, so he gets slightly more props than Bernie – but they really don't like any Democratic politician. If Sanders wins the nomination or the general,then their whole argument about needing a working class revolution to get socialist-type reforms is shot- as is any hope of recruitment to the Socialist Worker organization.

                Trotskyite parties have strict message discipline – they are not going to "negotiate" with Bernie's camp just as they did not return the mic after they had said their piece. And they will vehemently deny that they are under the leadership of a predominantly white, Canadian, Marxist-Leninist group.

                For proof, see the links in my previous post to Mr.Bullshit! on this thread.

                As far as support on Kos, I'm getting shit on by both sides – so I must be doing something right, as my old papa would say.




          • BlueCat says:

            You just hit the wrong "reply", Mama. Need to hit the reply in the box of the comment you're replying to. No matter how far down this winds up, it will be inside your reply box and your comment , the one I'm replying to is in Phoenix's reply box even though you've addressed it to Bullshit.

  3. mamajama55 says:

    Here is the SymoneD Sanders ( no relation?) video. She is Bernie Sanders press secretary, interviewed several weeks ago, hired Saturday 8/8/15.


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