House Republicans Conclude Pointless Filibuster

(For obvious reasons regarding the narrative voice, this post is being published under the name of Jason Bane instead of Colorado Pols.)


So much for that filibuster.

It was at about 2:00 pm on Thursday afternoon when the Republican micro-minority in the State House launched a doomed “filibluster” attempt to delay voting on HB23-1219, a bill that seeks to implement a three-day waiting period for gun purchases. Over the course of more than 12 hours, Republicans babbled about the Second Amendment; read aloud the writings of Dave Kopel and rehashed the Conquistador point of view from Justin Diamond’s classic book “Guns, Germs, and Steel.”  

At roughly 10:30 pm on Thursday night – more than eight hours since their filibuster began – House Republicans rejected a deal to bring their bickering to an end. 

House Republicans accepted that same deal four hours later, finally concluding their pointless stand at 2:30 am on Friday morning. House Bill 23-1219 passed on second reading and moved forward. 


THIS Is Your Great Injustice?

House Republicans drew this invisible line in the sand primarily because the no-compromise gun group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) and its Executive Director, Taylor Rhodes, demanded a “circus.And as we’ve already seen before in this legislative session, when RMGO tells Republicans to dance…they f***ing dance

There was no circus on Thursday and Friday. House Republicans could only manage a small, broken-down carnival atmosphere instead:

♦ Representative Ken “Skin” DeGraaf regularly mentioned data he found from a publication of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), but instead of using the full name for maximum time-wasting efficiency, DeGraaf used a shorthand that he kept pronouncing as “pee-nahs.” 

♦ Rep. Richard Holtorf told lawmakers that he cared more about human life than any of them and would also die for any person in the chamber because…???

♦ Republicans took turns trying to one-up another with melodramatic stories about a woman who might have been assaulted if not for her gun…or the time so-and-so heard a weird noise downstairs that they didn’t check because it was probably nothing and it turned out to be nothing but hoo boy it was a good thing I had my Barrett .50 cal rifle under the bed.


As gun safety bills go, HB23-1219 is fairly benign. Implementing a three-day waiting period for gun purchases is a common sense idea borne of lived experiences. It allows for a “cooling off period,” as State Sen. Tom Sullivan so deftly explained a few weeks ago. Marianne Goodland of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman reported on these real-world examples from a hearing earlier in the week:

Several witnesses recounted the heartbreak they suffered from the death of a loved one, some from suicide, some from homicide, all from guns. 

Kaycie Artus said her daughter, Lindsay, died an hour after buying a gun. She was a language arts teacher in Douglas County who won teaching awards but also battled with depression and anxiety. Lindsay’s children would still have their mom if there had been a waiting period, added her friend, Jenny Gunther.

Kathy Hagan of Erie talked about the death of a friend’s father, who also struggled with mental health issues. He stopped taking his medication and bought a gun. Confronted by his daughter, he locked himself in the bathroom and shot himself.

“It was a cry for help,” Hagan said. A waiting period could have saved his life, she said.

Dr. Maya Haasz, a pediatrician representing the Colorado Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, pleaded with lawmakers to support the bill: “Young people who attempt suicide by firearm do not have the chance to change their minds.” She also pointed out that nine out of 10 children who use a firearm in their suicide attempt will die even though guns are used in only one of 20 suicide attempts.

Okay, fine, said Republicans. We see your real world examples and raise you some entirely theoretical concerns! What if a raccoon needs minigun right away so that it doesn’t get gobbled up by hungry coyotes? What if I get into an argument with a neighbor about the length of their grass lawn and I can’t run to the gun store to pick up something threatening? 

The GOP argument against this legislation is that people should have the right to get a gun RIGHTNOWTHISMINUTE because you never know when the Chupacabra might come through your window and the Chupacabra does NOT respect three-day waiting periods.

But if you really think you need the ability to buy a gun RIGHTNOWTHISMINUTE, then there are two other more pressing concerns that need to be addressed instead:

  1. When people go out and demand a gun RIGHTNOWTHISMINUTE, they have a tendency to use that gun RIGHTNOWTHISMINUTE. And that’s not good for them or the people they love.
  2. If you find yourself in a situation in which you think you need a new gun RIGHTNOWTHISMINUTE, then you are almost certainly in a scenario that requires some very different help. For example, maybe you should be calling the police instead of running around trying to buy a new firearm.




The “Filibluster”

A true filibuster has to have some sort of achievable goal based on opposition to a great injustice, whether that be delaying a vote or preventing one altogether on a controversial piece of legislation. Democrats hold an historically-large majority in the House (46-19), which means Republicans would have needed to flip at least a dozen Democrats in order to achieve a meaningful outcome. 

This was never going to happen, and Republicans knew it. But their filibluster wasn’t about achieving anything. It was just simple angertainment from a caucus that thinks Colorado voters get excited about this sort of thing (spoiler alert: they don’t). 

A true filibuster requires a cause that is just and noble. This is not that cause. Polling continually shows that Coloradans (and Americans, frankly) overwhelmingly support common sense gun safety legislation. 

This bill is so nonthreatening to gun lovers that there weren’t many Republicans who showed up at the Capitol to lend their moral support. If even the gun nuts aren’t excited, then you have to ask for whom this angertainment performance is intended for in the first place.



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The Year of the Lie


Republican Cory Gardner’s campaign for Senate often refers to 2014 as an “historic” election year, for reasons that are as vague as Gardner’s policy positions. Normally I might scoff at the very idea of ascribing such a lofty adjective to this election cycle – after all, 2014 will not be the first year that the United States re-arranges its makeup of white dudes in Congress – but the more I consider the label, the more considerable I find the history. I believe Gardner is correct when he says this is an historic election, but not for reasons that have anything to do with Senate majorities and minorities.

Anyone who engages in politics as career or hobby is destined to feel cynical about the whole process at some point; I recognize this, but it’s not cynicism that has skewed my perception of this election. No, this is about deception. This is dishonesty, fraud, and sham on a level I have personally never encountered before – and from what I read and hear, I am not alone.

I cannot recall another time when candidates so brazenly dismissed their own past and bulldozed their own words with such disregard. I hate to use the word, “lie,” because it has become so cliché to declare that our politicians are a bunch of fibbers, but there’s no other word that is more appropriate here. The lies have been suffocating in their consistency, from candidates who will lie about anything, to anyone, at any time.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, saying stuff.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, saying stuff.

The United States Congress is already the most disliked and distrusted organization that has ever been measured by public surveys. The current Congress has worked less and achieved less than any prior body before. The 2014 election has helped illustrate the problem: How could anyone expect to negotiate with the likes of Gardner when you quite literally have no idea in what he actually believes? You can only guess at the real answer on any subject other than the career ascendency of Cory Gardner. Yet now, here we are, potentially sending a man to the U.S. Senate to represent Colorado even though we really haven’t a clue what he’ll do if he gets there.

I like to think of myself as a generally optimistic person, yet I am confronted with a magnitude of lies that I hadn’t though possible outside of novels and North Korea. I take some relief, I suppose, in knowing that I’m not alone. Kansas City Star columnist Barbara Shelly recently wrote a blistering rebuke of Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who is seeking re-election by any means necessary. Here’s the lede to that column:

All politicians spin. They exaggerate and make selective use of facts and data. These are the tricks of the trade.

But I have never seen a public official lie as easily and as relentlessly as Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. [emphasis mine] 

That sounds harsh, and it is possible that Brownback actually believes his own mythology. But much of what he has told the citizens of Kansas is flat out wrong.

Shelly continues by listing a page of whoppers that Brownback repeats as gospel. It doesn’t matter that most of Brownback’s lies have been debunked a dozen times over—he keeps repeating them, because he knows that there are still plenty of people who want to believe that their elected officials are guided by an actual belief in something.

It’s important to remember that these aren’t opinions we’re discussing. Gardner and Brownback lie confidently about established facts – the kind that Siri or Google could answer in about 20 seconds. Brownback likes to say that there was just $876 in the state treasury when he took over as Governor in 2011. In fact, he has repeated this line in three different state-of-the-state addresses. Shelly says that the story is “complete hokum,” and that Kansas had $251 million in its bank account when Brownback took charge. This information is public record – anybody can look it up.

This is not to discredit politicians in general. I know many elected officials, on both sides of the aisle, who are genuine people with examined positions on important issues. But increasingly we are seeing elected officials the likes of Brownback and Gardner, for whom words are merely a vessel to deliver them to their chosen destinations. These are men who solve a Rubik’s Cube by removing the stickers. They don’t seek the satisfaction of solving a difficult puzzle; their just want you to believe that they solved it.