About ProgressiveCowgirl

Colorado native, young professional, progressive cowgirl. 4-term FPE (aka masochist).

Romney Against Women’s Right to Choose, but for Profiting from Aborted Fetus Disposal

Documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission reveal that Mitt Romney was a key player in Bain Capital’s decision to invest in Stericycle, a company that disposes of medical waste, including aborted fetuses and the bodies of animals used for medical testing. Stericycle is a favorite target of pro-life protesters, prompting boycotts related to their operations as recently as this February.

Bain Capital previously denied that Romney was involved in the Stericycle investment, according to Mother Jones:

Coming during the heat of the GOP primaries, as Romney tried to sell South Carolina Republicans on his pro-life bona fides, the revelation had the potential to damage the candidate’s reputation among values voters already suspicious of his shifting position on abortion.

But Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney founded, tamped down the controversy. The company said Romney left the firm in February 1999 to run the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and likely had nothing to with the deal. The matter never became a campaign issue. But documents filed by Bain and Stericycle with the Securities and Exchange Commission-and obtained by Mother Jones-list Romney as an active participant in the investment. And this deal helped Stericycle, a company with a poor safety record, grow, while yielding tens of millions of dollars in profits for Romney and his partners. The documents-one of which was signed by Romney-also contradict the official account of Romney’s exit from Bain.

Exactly HOW those fetuses were sometimes disposed of, and why it’ll turn conservative activists’ stomachs, after the jump.

Stericycle describes its services in appropriately vague and sanitized terms on its own website, but various other sources paint a clearer picture. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for instance, hires Stericycle to incinerate animal carcasses following their use for various forms of medical research. Even more disturbingly, Stericycle was fined by the state of Texas for dumping aborted fetuses in a landfill, in violation of state codes. Specifically, Stericycle:

Failed to dispose of pathological waste according to approved methods of treatment and disposition, in violation of 30 TEx. ADMIN. CODE § 33o.1219Q,)(3), as documented during an investigation conducted on May 12, 2011. Specifically, the Respondent allowed pathological waste, including fetuses, to be  treated by steam disinfection treatment followed by deposition in a municipal solid waste  landfill.

(emphasis mine)

So, Romney’s signature is on documents relating to Bain Capital’s investment in a company that dumps aborted fetuses in municipal solid waste landfills. At the time, Romney was more sympathetic toward pro-choice views than he is now that he’s running for President at a time when there’s a “War on Women” going on around the country. Occam’s Razor dictates that the most acceptable explanation is the obvious one: Romney, tasked with making as much money as possible for Bain Capital, signed off on an investment that he viewed as potentially lucrative and morally acceptable.

The question is, will socially conservative voters see it that way when Romney makes his campaign stops, ostensibly as a pro-life candidate, this fall? Or will it strike a sour note with pro-life activists to see the GOP nominee touch down in their hometowns to stump for his campaign, when they’ve seen Stericycle trucks stop at the very clinics they picket? Let’s be clear: Bain Capital helped Stericyle make a whole lot of money. Bain made a lot of money on the deal. And Romney could have called it off:

Another SEC document filed November 30, 1999, by Stericycle also names Romney as an individual who holds “voting and dispositive power” with respect to the stock owned by Bain. If Romney had fully retired from the private equity firm he founded, why would he be the only Bain executive named as the person in control of this large amount of Stericycle stock?

I don’t have a problem with a privately held capital firm investing in a business that does the the necessary dirty work of disposing of medical waste. However, pro-life voters who use abortion opposition as a litmus test almost certainly will be troubled by Romney’s decision to continue Bain’s investment in a company that trashes human fetuses is municipal landfills.

As for voters who don’t use abortion as a litmus test, there’s the little matter of Stericycle’s safety record and its unfortunate habit of spreading lethal diseases around:

In 1991, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited its Arkansas operation for 11 workplace safety violations. The facility had not provided employees with sufficient protective gear, and it had kept body parts, fetuses, and dead experimental animals in unmarked storage containers, placing workers at risk. In 1995, Stericycle was fined $3.3 million-later decreased to $800,000-by Rhode Island for knowingly exposing workers to life-threatening diseases at its medical-waste treatment facility in Woonsocket. Two years later, workers at another of its medical-waste processing plants in Morton, Washington, were exposed to tuberculosis. In 2002 and 2003-after Bain and its partners had bought their major interest in the firm-Stericycle reached settlements with the attorneys general in Arizona and Utah after it was accused of violating antitrust laws. It paid Arizona $320,000 in civil penalties and lawyers’ fees, and paid Utah $580,000.

We all know that Romney was okay with abortion before he was against it, but conservative values voters should ask him why he let Bain lie about his involvement in the Stericycle deal, and how he feels about his role in generating big profits for a company known to place human fetal remains in landfills alongside household and industrial trash. Even as a pro-choice activist myself, I don’t feel that’s a fitting end for something that once had the potential for human life. Stericycle itself provides a more respectful disposal method for animal carcasses.

Golf with a House Republican for Just $10,000!

Members of the Colorado Republican Party will demonstrate their accessibility to and compassion for the American middle class this Thursday, June 28, with a miniature golf tournament featuring Speaker Frank McNulty and other House Republicans.

The Republican representatives in attendance, whose time, attention, and votes cannot be bought for any price, will play on your miniature golf team for just $10,000. For just $1,000, you can mingle with these defenders of the working man over barbecue food and cocktails. Golf, however, costs at least $5,000 (two entries), a small sum considering the opportunity offered to share what’s on your mind with the folks responsible for defending the working family from the Democratic Party’s destructive agenda of offering workers living wages and the right to bargain collectively.

More details on how you can see for yourselves that Republicans just can’t be bought, after the jump:

Demonstrating Republicans’ commitment to individual rights, the event will offer corporate persons various sponsorship options, ranging from $2,500 to $25,000. These options all include the featuring of a corporate person’s logo in various official materials–or would have, had they not announced the event in an email dated June 26th and carrying the following fine print:

*Logo’s must be received no later than June 25th to be included

Here, the misuse of an apostrophe demonstrates that Republicans aren’t elitists, like those awful Democrats. Only liberal snobs use possessive forms correctly. Ordinary everyday people like Republicans can’t be bothered with elitist socialist grammar. They’re too busy exercising their right to the pursuit of happiness on a golf course, and you, too, can join them, for just a measly ten grand. Cut back on the caviar for a month or two if you must, but don’t miss this exciting event supporting the party of the working American!

Full details follow:

Mini Golf Majority Challenge

Join Speaker Frank McNulty and members of the House Republican Caucus for the best golf tournament of the year.   (ONLY 18 teams available!)  For those of you interested in networking and having a burger or brat hot off the grill, join us beginning at 4:30pm.  

We look forward to seeing you!!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Adventure Golf and Raceway

9650 North Sheridan

Westminster, CO 80031

3:30 pm            Team sponsors and golf participants meet at the Adventure Golf

                        Adventure Club Room

3:45 pm            Miniature Golf Tournament PROMPTLY Begins

4:30 pm            BBQ and Cocktails Begin

5:30 pm            Awards and Remarks

For questions and to RSVP please email Julie Herrmann at julie@julieherrmann.net

or call 720-217-7846

********************

As a 527, the Colorado Leadership Fund accepts Corporate, LLC, LP, PAC and individual checks.  Contributions are NOT tax deductible.

You can bring your checks with you or send your checks in advance to:

Colorado Leadership Fund

PO Box 238, Denver, CO 80201

Make checks payable to: Colorado Leadership Fund, Tax ID# 84-1664434

Or, you may go to www.coloradoleadershipfund.comto make your contribution on line.

***********************

2012 Summer Sponsor Levels

2012  Event Title Sponsor

Logo on Welcome Sign at Tent entrance *

Logo at Entryway of miniature golf course *

Verbal recognition during awards ceremony

Corporate Sponsor Entry for Speakers Club, 2012-2013

One Golf Team – 3 people to golf with Speaker Frank McNulty **

Team Picture with House Leadership

6 entries into Cocktails and BBQ

$25,000

Logo at Entry of Miniature golf course *

Logo on signage at BBQ and Cocktails *

Verbal recognition during awards ceremony

One Golf Team – 3 people to golf with a member of leadership

Team Picture with House Leadership

5 entries into Cocktails and BBQ

$10,000

Logo on signage at BBQ and Cocktails *

Logo at One Hole of 18 hole golf course *

Verbal recognition during Awards Ceremony

One Golf Team – 3 people to golf with a member of the House

4 entries into Cocktails and BBQ

$5,000

Logo on signage at BBQ and Cocktails *

Logo at One Hole of 18 hole golf course *

2 entries to play golf AND into Cocktails and BBQ

$2,500

Logo on signage at BBQ and Cocktails *

Two entries into BBQ and Cocktails

$1,000 – Personal Contribution Level ONLY

One person entry into BBQ and Cocktails

*Logo’s must be received no later than June 25th to be included

**First Company to Commit to Sponsor Level

You may notice that “event title sponsor” doesn’t have a price listed. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

….Okay, I blogged about one of your events, now will whoever is adding me to Republican email lists please knock it off already? I’ve gotten two invitations to meet Mitt Romney in Florida this month! I don’t even LIVE there!

Ann Romney’s Fancy Horse: Myths and Facts

A horse is a horse, of course, of course, unless it’s an unforgivable betrayal of the American working class.

Ann Romney co-owns Rafalca, a mare headed to the London Olympics to compete in dressage. This has sparked no small amount of mockery and even some righteous outrage. How dare Mrs. Romney spend so much money on a dancing hay burner? It’s not like Democratic presidential candidates ever buy $7 million yachts; 28,200 square foot mansions on 100 acres; or private jets, right? And it’s not as if the last Republican presidential nominee had a wife with a drift racing hobby requiring multiple expensive vehicles, right?

Even Barack Obama–one of few presidential candidates in recent memory to neither descend from nor marry into hereditary wealth–has an expensive hobby or two. He recently played his 100th round of golf since taking office.

That said, if you’d really like to object to Ann Romney’s horse habit, that’s your right, but you might as well have your facts straight. Let’s start with the big one:

Myth: Mitt Romney took a $77,000+ tax deduction for Rafalca’s upkeep.

Reality: Mitt took a $50 deduction after reporting $77,731 in losses from “Rob Rom Enterprises, LLC,” a corporate entity formed to own and pay for Rafalca.

Myth: Rafalca will one day earn millions in the breeding shed, allowing Romney to carry hobby losses forward, offset them against future hobby income, and take that $77,000 tax deduction.

Reality: Rafalca is female. At most, she’ll have one foal per year (and maybe a few more by embryo transfer, I guess). Selling foals is a much less lucrative business than selling breedings. A good chunk of mares aren’t even fertile by Rafalca’s current age of 15, so it’s very possible she’ll never foal.

Myth: Ann Romney owns Rafalca.

Reality: Ann Romney co-owns Rafalca with two other women: A “Beth Meyer” and Amy Ebeling, the wife of Rafalca’s rider, Jan Ebeling. The horse’s purchase price is not known, nor is the percentage of the horse owned by Ann Romney a matter of public record at this time. Jan’s wife has been described as a “family friend” of the Romneys. Syndication is common at the upper levels of equestrian sports, in order to share the substantial expense of importing and maintaining a top equine athlete.

Myth: Ann Romney owns Rafalca for the prestige and isn’t herself an athlete.

Reality: After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, Ann Romney took up dressage for its therapeutic benefits, which have been recognized by the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. According to Ann Romney, when she began riding, her condition had weakened her muscles so badly that she could barely sit on a horse. Ann eventually received her gold medal rider award from the United States Dressage Federation. This isn’t a terribly unusual story; many MS patients, including a dear friend of my family who runs marathons, have found that intense and regular exercise is their most successful therapy.

From Dressage Daily:

Ebeling’s partnership with the Romneys began when the couple was living in Utah while Mitt was overseeing the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Jan was traveling to Salt Lake City to do clinics and Ann began to ride with him. At the time, Ann’s multiple sclerosis was so severe she could only ride for five minutes.

Myth: We’ve always been at war with East Asia, I mean always made fun of horse dancing!

Reality: Okay, even us fellow equestrians make fun of dressage sometimes. “Dressage Queens” are a barn favorite for their comedic value, as they carefully pick tiny shreds of manure out of the arena footing on the theory that their precious Hanoverian won’t be able to pirouette in anything less than perfect footing, even as that same Hanoverian is busy voluntarily rolling in manure in her stall. Also, this shit is hilarious:

But not so long ago, many of the same people now dismissing Rafalca as a useless “dancing horse” were oohing and ahhing over this famous dressage performance:

The mare pictured is now deceased and won’t be competing against Rafalca in London, but here are a few comments on her performance:

what a stunning partnership between man and mare and music .. just perfect

This performance is beyond any compliment and I can come up with. I know next to nothing about horses, but the dance he does when the rock music comes on, is so impressive.

Most beautiful thing I have seen .. not just spectacular in the timing and movements – but actually beautiful .. certain sections even brought tears to my eyes

I don’t generally watch this type of thing, but this is truly a thing of beauty.

So basically, dressage is deeply moving and a thing of stunning beauty when we’re passing around YouTube clips, but if the Romneys have anything to do with it, it’s useless horse dancing and just another way to flaunt their wealth. Got it!

Myth: We’d be better off if Ann gave her money to charity.

Reality: Guys, don’t give her any ideas! Shhh! The more she spends on her horse, the less she’ll have for a long list of anti-gay and right-wing organizations supported by the Romneys, whose $3,000,000 in 2010 donations amounted to 15% of their income. More than half of that went to the Mormon church, which requires generous tithing by all members. (To be fair, they did also give to cancer charities, a group building homes for veterans, camps for children with disabilities, and various other laudable organizations, through Romney’s personal Tyler Foundation.)

Myth: All equestrians are rich.

Reality: The average salary of a horse trainer is $34,000. On that money, you kinda need a few out of touch trophy wives to buy and keep up your horses if you’re going to get to the Olympics.

Myth: Jan Ebeling is some kind of out of touch elitist like the Romneys, and/or Rafalca is a dirty secret nobody talks about.

Reality: If you want to know about Rafalca’s personality, dressage scores, or general doings, you can read about it straight from Jan on a regular basis in the Chronicle of the Horse. Seems like a nice guy, at least in writing, and anyone involved in sports will recognize the attitudes and vocabulary of an athlete. There’s also an interesting interview with Jan here, where he discusses his childhood dreams of playing professional soccer, and how he ended up as a horseman instead.

Horses are an expensive hobby. Like yachts, 100 rounds of golf at exclusive courses, private jets, and luxury homes, they’re often out of reach for working class families, unless they’re willing to sacrifice an awful lot (as I have in order to keep my equine kids, who are about as close to the Olympics as I am to being Queen of England).

Ann Romney is an elitist, tone deaf rich bitch who genuinely thinks she’s just like you, despite her family’s estimated net worth of $200 million. Her husband’s economic policies would benefit Ann Romney and harm just about everyone else.

But do Romney’s policies matter, or do his wife’s hobbies matter?

The world’s most generous philanthropist, Bill Gates, spent $28,000,000 on this:

Ann Romney spent some portion of $77,000 plus a purchase price that might be some portion of $150,000 or so on this:

I don’t like Ann Romney any more or any less because of her six-figure horse, any more than I think more or less of Bill Gates, who has personally saved 6,000,000 lives through his charitable works, because of his eight-figure painting of a horse and some people.

Mitt Romney is wrong for America because Mitt Romney is a vulture capitalist, was a terrible Governor, and can’t propose a damn thing that would benefit anyone but the 1% to save his life. His wife’s horse has nothing to do with it, and I hope we’ll get back to talking policy after everyone’s had their laugh. Some more dressage videos, to help you get it out of your system:

Hip-Hop Horse Dancing:

Born this Neigh?:

Just a really good freestyle:

Dressage with no bridle:

Taking “Dressage Queen” too literally:

(Note: I’m not front-paging this myself because it’s more of a personal rant that’s too long for a comment, and this is a pretty small issue in a huge campaign. I just figured I’d put my thoughts down in one diary instead of 10 more comments.)

Tracy Kraft-Tharp Eclipses Ramirez’s 2010 Fundraising and It’s Only June

(crossposting from Jeffco Pols)

Democratic challenger Tracy Kraft-Tharp has blown incumbent Representative Robert Ramirez (R-29) out of the water in fundraising, surpassing the incumbent’s 2010 fundraising total with more than four months left to go in the campaign. Keep in mind that Ramirez unseated a Democratic incumbent, Debbie Benefield, in 2010. If Kraft-Tharp has already raised more than Ramirez needed to win against an incumbent in the last election cycle, could anything short of an act of God keep Ramirez in his seat for 2012?

The press release just gets uglier for the Ramirez campaign:

In just the latest two-week reporting period, Kraft-Tharp more than quintupled the $1,038 Ramirez raised over the same period with over $5,000 raised. Kraft-Tharp also has more than a two-to-one cash on hand advantage.

With a fragile one-seat House majority, Republicans should be sweating bullets. In her first campaign, newcomer Kraft-Tharp has already drawn rave reviews and big endorsements. Her respectable cash flow is a symptom of her success, not its root, as anyone who’s seen Tracy canvass can testify.

I’ve volunteered for most of the Democrats running in Jeffco, and Kraft-Tharp is especially impressive in nearly every area important for electoral success. She connects at the door; she works hard; she makes the right hiring decisions for her campaign; she thinks before she speaks; and she makes anyone who gets involved with her campaign feel truly appreciated and heard. The ability to convey a sense of ownership in a political campaign to hundreds of supporters is something that can’t be bought or taught.

Call those interest groups and issue committees, Republicans, because if you don’t stop Tracy Kraft-Tharp in this campaign, you’re going to have  another Perlmutter on your hands: A popular incumbent who knows everyone in their district and dismantles one of your “rising stars” every two years like clockwork.

[Added disclaimer: I know Tracy. I like Tracy. I also know and like most every other Democratic candidate in the area. Tracy does not pay me to do anything for her campaign and my only volunteer role involves knocking on doors, which I also do for numerous other candidates.]

At Least He’s Not Your Speak–Well, Actually, We’d Probably Be Willing to Trade

Michigan’s Speaker of the House, Republican Jase Bolger (currently under investigation for misuse of public resources), sure has a funny definition of “decorum.” Consider this:

Decorous: Introducing a bill that increases the difficulty of obtaining an abortion and burdens abortion providers with the additional liability of yet another unenforceable criminal law relating to abortion.

Failing to Maintain Decorum: Saying “vagina” while discussing a bill that directly affects one’s own choices concerning one’s uterus, ovaries, and vagina.

If you find that distinction annoying and offensive, you may wish to mail Speaker Bolger a postcard with the word “vagina” on it. Here’s his mailing address:

MAILING ADDRESS

164 Capitol

P.O. Box 30014

Lansing, MI  48933

Details after the jump:

State Reps. Lisa Brown, D-West Bloomfield, and Barb Byrum, D-Onondaga were gaveled down and prevented from speaking in the debate on an anti-abortion bill, which ultimately passed 70-39. Brown’s crime was a pithy comment to supporters of the legislation: “I’m flattered you’re all so concerned about my vagina. But no means no.”

Byrum was ruled out of order for complaining when the majority floor leader did not recognize her to speak on her own amendment to the bill. Analogous to a Republican amendment banning abortions past 20 weeks unless medically necessary, Byrum’s amendment would have required proof of medical necessity for vasectomy procedures.

A statement from the Speaker’s spokesman (what, the Speaker can’t speak for himself?) clarifies his thinking, as much as is possible:

Ari Adler, spokesman for Speaker of the House Jase Bolger, R-Marshall, said it was the prerogative of Majority Floor Leader Jim Stamas, R-Midland, to maintain order and decorum during session of the House.

They “will not be recognized to speak on the House floor today after being gaveled down for their comments and actions yesterday that failed to maintain the decorum of the House of Representatives,” Adler said.

“House Republicans often go beyond simply allowing debate by welcoming open and passionate discussion of the issues before this chamber,” he added. “The only way we can continue doing so, however, is to ensure that the proper level of maturity and civility are maintained on the House floor.”

Funny how it’s acceptable and even encouraged to introduce a whole piece of legislation focused on preventing women from deciding which intimate medical procedures are “necessary” for themselves, but it’s out of order, un-decorous, immature, and uncivil to introduce an amendment doing the same for intimate medical procedures concerning male organs.

I’m proud of both of my sisters for teaching their children to call body parts by the correct names. Good thing none of my nieces or nephews serve in the Michigan state house, where the mature and responsible habit they’re learning would get them gaveled down and condescended to.

Perhaps Speaker Bolger would prefer “hoo-ha,” “vagoo,” or “no-no-square?”

Liberal and Moderate Women Stand with Conservative S.E. Cupp Against Sexual Shaming

When Weird Al Yankovic sings, “I Love Rocky Road,” that’s satire.

When Lord Dark Helmet crotch-zaps someone, that’s satire.

When Hustler Magazine punishes S.E. Cupp for being both an attractive woman and opinionated by putting a Photoshopped penis in her mouth in their magazine, that might be protected as satire, under Larry Flynt’s famous Supreme Court ruling, but it is–“satire” or not–an example of unacceptable, misogynist sexual shaming of an outspoken woman. S.E. Cupp’s opinions may be as repulsive as her use of this scandal to slam reputable women’s rights organizations, but neither her opinions nor her opportunism justify Larry Flynt’s behavior.

The following text accompanied a “Celebrity Fantasy” photo of S.E. Cupp, edited to appear as if Cupp had a penis in her mouth.

S.E. Cupp is a lovely young lady who read too much Ayn Rand in high school and ended up joining the dark side. Cupp, an author and media commentator, who often shows up on Fox News programs, is undeniably cute. But her hotness is diminished when she espouses dumb ideas like defunding Planned Parenthood. Perhaps the method pictured here is Ms. Cupp’s suggestion for avoiding an unwanted pregnancy.

A disclaimer follows:

No such picture of S.E. Cupp actually exists. This composite fantasy is altered from the original for our imagination, does not depict reality, and is not to be taken seriously for any purpose.

Let’s break this down:

S.E. Cupp is a lovely young lady

Cupp is a conservative political commentator employed by Glenn Beck’s GBTV. She is an adult, and her loveliness, while certainly an asset in seeking media commentator jobs, is hardly the first thing one should mention when describing who Cupp, fundamentally, “is.”

read too much Ayn Rand in high school

Pair that with the above, and the juvenile, condescending characterization of S.E. Cupp is clearly based on her gender. “Oh, look at the cute little girl with a high school education trying to talk politics!”

Cupp, an author and media commentator, who often shows up on Fox News programs, is undeniably cute

She doesn’t just “show up” on TV, like a streaker during the Olympics. Cupp is invited to appear as an expert media personality on Fox programs. Her cuteness probably doesn’t hurt her chances of getting an invite, but there are quite a few cute women in the world who are not authors, media commentators, or frequently invited to opine about politics on a national network.

But her hotness is diminished when she espouses dumb ideas like defunding Planned Parenthood.

That’s her real crime, huh, Larry Flynt? Why do cute girls have to open their mouths, anyway? It’s also worth noting that he uses the word “dumb,” not “misguided,” or “morally wrong.” Among all the ways one could characterize a desire to defund Planned Parenthood, “dumb” is one of few that’s also a typical characterization of women by misogynists.

Perhaps the method pictured here is Ms. Cupp’s suggestion for avoiding an unwanted pregnancy.

I doubt one would have to go very far into the Fox or GBTV archives to find Cupp declaring, on the record, that she suggests sexual abstinence as a method of avoiding an unwanted pregnancy. Whether or not one disagrees with her on that point, there’s no need to guess.

As usually happens with this kind of thing, the faked photo of Cupp will spread like wildfire around the Internet, without its accompanying disclaimer. If Cupp weren’t already a seasoned media personality capable of controlling her Google results, it could easily follow her from job application to job application. As it is, a certain number of people will believe it’s a real photo even when told otherwise, or will believe a forwarded email (“LEAKED private photo shows Glenn Beck’s CUTE sidekick putting something tastier than WORDS in her mouth!!!1!”) without bothering to do a quick online search to find out if the photos is legit.  

More disturbing still is the example Flynt sets here. By openly defending this photo as an acceptable satire, he’s suggesting a couple really creepy things:

1. It’s okay to respond to women having opinions you don’t like by creating pornography featuring them without their consent.

2. It’s okay to profit by selling a pornographic image of someone who hasn’t even performed the act depicted while in range of a camera.

The First Amendment gives Larry Flynt the right to publish even material that is offensive, disgusting, and grotesquely sexist. However, Flynt obtained his favorable ruling about obscene satire based on a satire of Jerry Falwell–hardly someone whose theoretical sex life would sell magazines. An image of “undeniably cute” S.E. Cupp with a penis in her mouth? Yeah, that’s gonna move a few issues. Legal though it is, this “satire” is faked pornography with a condescending caption about Cupp’s views slapped on as an afterthought. It’s a blow even to Flynt’s more ethical fellow pornographers, who’ve been working for decades to disabuse the media of its notion that porn always damages women.

Cupp is a misogynist herself, a vituperative anti-feminist commentator, and a tool of Glenn Beck. She does not deserve the respect of progressive women. She does, however, deserve our support as she copes with this unacceptable, sexist attacks. Sign a petition here to send your message to the world: Misogyny is not an acceptable weapon in the political arena, whether you aim it at a liberal, conservative, or moderate woman.


We don’t expect Hustler to change. Degrading women behind a thin curtain of legally-protected “satire” is the way they have sold magazines for decades. But the boundaries of taste and conscience are drawn much more narrowly than the boundaries of legality. We call on women and men, no matter where they are on the political spectrum, to stand with S.E. Cupp against media misogyny against outspoken women. No matter where they are on the political spectrum.  

How Republicans Treat an Independent Thinker: Nikkel Bullied Mercilessly

An interesting FOX31 story details a bullying campaign targeting BJ Nikkel before and after her courageous vote to move Senate Bill 2 forward.

After she cast her vote in favor of civil unions two weeks ago, Nikkel was shouted down by religious protestors at her church in Loveland the following Sunday; and the next week, as the bill continued to move through the legislative process, a rickety old pickup truck circled the Capitol carrying homemade billboards advising “Nikkkel” – yes, it was spelled with three “k’s” – that she was going to hell for her vote.

Mind you, this is the party so averse to “political correctness.” Maybe it’s time to redefine that term. After all, most things to which the phrase currently refers–gender neutral language, avoiding hate speech, etc.–are simply “correctness,” with nothing especially political about it. A counter-proposal follows:

Politically Correct [adj.]: A vote, buzzword, action, or concept deemed by the GOP establishment to be a moral obligation of all Republican representatives, above and beyond their own consciences and capacity for independent thought. A Republican who refuses to vote according to this “politically correct” ideology will be shamed, bullied, harassed, threatened, intimidated, and told she is going to Hell. She will be bullied in church, at home, and at work, until and unless she falls back into step with the far-right leadership.

There, now. Isn’t that much better than confusing “correctness” with “political correctness?” Not being a racist is correct. Voting to keep your own gay son a second-class citizen so that Frank McNulty doesn’t make a mean face at you is politically correct.

Ron Paul Exactly As Likely to Become President As He Was Yesterday

“News” today from the doomed Paul campaign, as the Conngressman ends his active campaign but declines to endorse Mitt Romney.

Instead, Paul will pursue a “delegate strategy” — as seen at the CO GOP state convention already — intended to give his “liberty movement” legs at this year’s RNC.

So, essentially, the status quo continues for Paul. I’m not even putting this on the front page, it’s so non-news.

At Least He’s Not Your Junior High School Bully Masquerading as a Senator

That’s so GAY!” giggled Rand Paul in several places during a special showing of The Avengers. After each reiteration, Paul turned to his viewing companions, elbowed their ribs, and gazed expectantly at them, awaiting the flurry of appreciative chuckles he was sure were deserved by his wit. Favorite targets included Captain America and the Incredible Hulk, both of whom are believed to be heterosexual. Paul was also observed nodding rapidly and repeating, “Am I right, or am I right?”

…OK, not really, but Paul did bring political discourse down to a seventh-grade level at Iowa’s Faith and Freedom Coalition Meeting when he said, “The president recently weighed in on marriage and you know he said his views were evolving on marriage. Call me cynical, but I wasn’t sure his views on marriage could get any gayer.”

Paul followed up this high point of his oratorical career by complaining, “He said the biblical Golden Rule caused him to be for gay marriage. I’m like, ‘What version of the Bible is he reading?'”

Thanks to bible.cc, here are some possible answers to Paul’s question.

English Standard Version:


“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

King James Version (Cambridge):

Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

English Revised Version:

All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them: for this is the law and the prophets.

Biblical scholar Clarke says:


The general meaning of it is this: ‘Guided by justice and mercy, do unto all men as you would have them to do to you, were your circumstances and theirs reversed.’

If anyone was still wondering what’s really behind the Ron Paul “reLOVEution,” look no farther than the juvenile and repulsive behavior of Paul’s most politically successful son, while campaigning for his father’s unlikely presidential bid. In a household that teaches true civil libertarianism, one could expect to find, if not gay marriage proponents, opponents of governmental regulation of marriage in any way, shape, or form. Rand Paul, on the other hand, appears to have been raised to value Christian dominionism–and a brand of it that would embarrass Jesus, Matthew, and most Christians, at that–over liberty.  

What's next for Rand Paul?

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Call on Governor Hickenlooper to Keep Frank McNulty At Work Until His Job Is Done

UPDATE 1:20 PM: Hickenlooper WILL call a special session including civil unions, according to reliable sources including Eli Stokols and Lynn Bartels. Details from the Governlooper’s office at 1:45 PM MST.

I don’t get to go home until I’ve completed my work each day. I certainly don’t get a months-long holiday to work on improving my job security and future career prospects when my job isn’t done. Do you?

I’d wager that most Coloradans would get a pink slip, not a vacation, if they came to work and kept the entire staff waiting for them until nearly midnight, then simply walked off the job, leaving critical work undone. But if Governor Hickenlooper doesn’t act now, Speaker McNulty will get to go home to campaign and fundraise, having killed more than 30 bills just to prevent the Colorado House from granting something resembling equal rights to same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples who prefer civil unions over marriage.

McNulty is leaving his job undone, when 62% of Coloradans and a bipartisan coalition of legislators supported SB2. McNulty proposes to walk off the job and spend the next few months focusing on his reelection, without allowing the House to vote on a bill that passed the Colorado Senate and was supported by no less than three House committees. We can give him the pink slip in November, but first, we have a chance to send him back to his desk right now.

What you can do to keep McNulty at work until his job is done, after the jump:

1. Write to Governor Hickenlooper here. Tell him you’re a Colorado voter calling on the Governor to keep the Colorado House at work until SB 12-0002 has passed or failed by an up-or-down vote of the full House.

2. Call him at (303)-866-2471 and tell him the same thing.

3. Write a letter to the largest Denver paper calling on Governor Hickenlooper to call a special legislative session to prevent Speaker McNulty from singlehandedly circumventing the democratic process, leaving his job undone, and returning home to campaign and fundraise.

4. Write and call your state legislator (find them here and tell them, “I’m a constituent, and I don’t want to see my state representatives at home campaigning and fundraising until they’ve voted on civil unions. Please ask Governor Hickenlooper to let you do your job in a special legislative session.” (In your own words, of course.)

We have a chance to make history. Frank McNulty has already secured his place there, right next to Howard Smith, who in 1963 delayed the Civil Rights Act by refusing to grant it a rule. Even though he was obviously fighting a losing battle, Smith let minorities suffer for an extra year to serve his own ego. McNulty wants to do the same–let’s not let him. Colorado’s place in history is with all those over the centuries who have stood up and said, “Enough!” to politicians whose hubris endangered the institution of democracy.

Let’s do this thing.

“Godfather of Colorado Politics” Paul Sandoval Passes Peacefully

Former Colorado Senator Paul Sandoval, beloved by just about everyone in Colorado politics for the last few decades, died this afternoon. According to Lynn Bartels, Paul passed peacefully. Several weeks ago, Sandoval entered hospice care for pancreatic cancer.

Former Senator Sandoval was a political kingmaker, an effective legislator, a loving husband, and an unsuccessful seminary student (ejected for questioning God’s willingness to allow evil in the world), but he preferred to describe himself as “just a tamale maker.” In 5280’s excellent oral history of Paul Sandoval, the former Senator shared a boyhood memory of selling a paper to then-President Eisenhower for $5, then selling the autographed $5 bill for $10. That business sense served him well later in life, as an entrepreneur; a statesman; a mentor to others in politics; and, yes, as a tamale maker, starting his first restaurant while still serving in the state Senate.

Paul Sandoval received the Colorado Democratic Party’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2012 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. His loving wife, Paula Sandoval, accepted on Paul’s behalf. The room was at a standstill as Paula smiled and laughed about her many happy years with a husband as famous for his sense of humor and devoted friendship as for his political achievements and entrepreneurship.

Memories and tributes are pouring in through social media:

From Representative Casso, on Facebook:

“God’s speed Senator Paul Sandoval. You have and will continue to inspire generations of Latino legislators who have followed your landmark career…”

Terrance Carroll, on Facebook:

“RIP Paul Sandoval. A true giant has passed on. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

Jason Bane:

“RIP Paul Sandoval. I’ll always remember Brkfst Queen mtgs with cigarettes, coffee & bacon for Paul.”

Andrea Merida:

“Thank you for everything, Paul Sandoval. May you rest in peace.”

Women Drive Facebook’s Growth, But Can’t Get a Seat on the Board

(I’m in Colorado and I’m a woman… – promoted by Pita)

As Facebook prepares to go public, 58% of its users lack representation on the world’s largest social network’s executive board. In addition to comprising most of its user base, women are responsible for 62% of sharing through Facebook network. Despite the importance of women to Facebook’s success, there’s still not a single woman on the board, a fact that has prompted new pro-equality organization UltraViolet to circulate a petition demanding diversity on the all-male BoD.

Despite having the well-respected and overtly pro-equality Sheryl Sandberg as second in command, Facebook remains behind the curve on women’s issues.  

For instance, after years of complaints from mothers and their advocates, Facebook still sometimes suspends the accounts of women who post breastfeeding photos. It’s not hard to tell the difference between pornography and feeding an infant, but apparently the distinction frequently escapes Facebook’s content moderation staff. Of course, that staff is allegedly paid $1 per hour to remove offensive images like “camel toes.” (Of course, post a picture of Michael Phelps in a Speedo, and you’re in the clear–only the outlines of female genitals are obscene!)

Facebook’s failure to protect 58% of its users doesn’t stop there. Despite Terms of Use that already prohibit “hateful, threatening” content, Facebook often won’t remove pro-rape pages, and refuses to explicitly state that Facebook prohibits pages condoning sexual violence. In fact, Facebook has actually defended such pages as nothing more than “pub jokes.” I don’t know about you, but my gentlemen friends would have words–if not more–with any fellow in a pub who said something about, “Kicking Sluts in the Vagina,” the actual title of a Facebook page left live for months after initial complaints surfaced.

Would appointing a woman to the board cure these deficiencies overnight? Of course not. If Sheryl Sandberg, known around the world for her support of women in business, can’t make a difference, one female board member won’t. But an all-male board for a company driven primarily by female users is inexcusable in 2012. Appointing women to Facebook’s board isn’t just a step in the right direction; it’s a choice that should be viewed as mandatory, prior to what may be the largest IPO in history.

Spring, when a bored politician’s thoughts turn to…

Silly season has come early this year, as demonstrated by a week’s worth of lewdness by elected officials, those who’d like to be elected officials, and those who like to be thorns in the sides of elected officials. After reading about Senator Brophy’s outrageously offensive comments, and today’s classy contribution from Matt Arnold, it may come as a relief to know that the most recently publicized set of sexually charged comments were merely inappropriate, not frothing-at-the-mouth misogynistic. In fact, Governor Hickenlooper is under fire for turning men into “sexual objects,” according to the largest Denver paper.

But that’s not the funniest, or strangest part. That part comes from Jon Caldara, in a blog post defending Hick:

Given my proclivity for endless sophomoric sex jokes (thus the Independence Institute motto – Come for the Public Policy, Stay for the Sexual Harassment), I know what it is like to unintentionally offend social moralists. Fortunately they always forgive my addiction to junior high raunch.

(What did Hick do, and why is Caldara sticking up for him? Find out after the jump.)

It seems Governor Hickenlooper made a couple of extra-sexy introductions in the last couple weeks. First, in introducing his second in command, Joe Garcia, to elementary school students, Hick called the Lt. Gov. a “rising sex star,” then corrected it to the slightly less bizarre “sex symbol” a moment later. (In all fairness to Hick, I have to say I have heard more than one person refer to Garcia as sexy, and neither was married to or being paid by him. However, neither was an elementary school student, either. Hardly the right audience for that descriptor.)A few days later, the Governor made a joke about what Mayor Hancock’s wife “gives him in the shower.” In context, Hick was referring to a serenade from Denver’s first lady (a much-lauded singer), but the crowd’s laughter probably reflected a different inference.

Hick’s unlikely defender, Caldara, today urged the Governor not to apologize for his remarks. (According to the Governor’s office, the ‘Looper already made amends with the Hancocks.) Another choice quote:

But your sense of humor is one of your greatest political assets. Don’t let a couple of hyper-sensitive prudes pressure you into self-censorship. Self-censorship is to only be experienced by Republican students on college campuses.

Oh, and Guv, welcome to my world.

P.S. If anyone is interested in me in the shower, the mayor’s wife has pictures.         (Um, that’s a joke.)

No, Mr. Caldara, nobody wants to see that. Ever. Unless the Mayor’s wife needs to do some vocal exercises involving hitting notes usually reserved for Victorian dames who’ve sighted a mouse, or an uncovered piano leg.

Kidding aside, I can’t quite figure out what the Governor was thinking in using the term “sex symbol” in front of elementary students, but I suppose the class paid attention. And–words I’ve never wanted to type–Caldara has a point. It’s just not the one he thinks he has.

See, jokes can be legitimately harmful. A “harmless” dirty joke told by someone in a position of privilege can serve to silence or intimidate those without the same privileges. Caldara can tell a “feminists screwing in a light bulb” joke, because feminist anger can be funny to a guy whose reproductive choice is never going to be voted down by someone who thinks it’s funny that feminists are so angry about a little thing like our right to decide when, where, how, and if we have children.

But inauthentic outrage can also be legitimately harmful, and can silence voices who (unlike Caldara) sound off for women’s rights and individual freedom when it comes to a vote. We saw the right wing opportunistically portray Joe Biden as a racist in an attempt to damage the campaign of the black man who had selected Biden as his running mate. We’ll probably see plenty of progressive voices portrayed as sexist as the War on Women continues, because, like it or not, strawman arguments and ad hominems play well in the news cycle.

I’m a feminist, and I’m tired of the “jokes” about my rights. I’m also tired of concern trolling. An inappropriate joke deserves a calling-out (as Hickenlooper got from black ministers, who were careful to clarify that they support the Gov overall) and should, no matter what Caldara thinks, generally prompt an apology. But Colorado’s first lady has put Hick on notice on the home front: He “better not go for a trifecta.”

So, I’ll leave Hick’s sexually charged remarks in her capable hands, and agree with Caldara in hoping that both liberals and conservatives move on. When the Governor runs for reelection, as a feminist, I want to hear about how his policies affected women, sexual liberty, human trafficking, and children’s safety. I don’t want to hear about that time he said something naughty in front of an elementary school class. Let’s have our laugh now, and move on.

At Least He’s Not Your State GOP Director/Lawyer/Parliamentarian

Some politicos apologize for indiscretions on Twitter.

Todd Kincannon, the South Carolina Republican Party’s former Executive Director (stepped down after two months), current Parliamentarian, and frequent General Counsel, makes Twitter-based indiscretion an art form. I’d call him the political Tucker Max, but even Tucker Max finally figured out he needed therapy.

This isn’t news; in fact, when Todd Kincannon did something marginally decent, that was news. Hell, he’s not even exactly beloved in his own party, and apparently has a history of totally weird meddling in party reorganization activities.

My Valentine to you, dear Polsters, is a selection of Kincannon’s finest, beginning with this:





(More below the fold — NSFW language!!!)

On appropriate things to call pioneering women in elected office:

On logical argumentation:

On GOP leadership (he said so himself!):

Dude hates Romney, but they have one point of view in common:

Lengthy rant (read bottom-up, for those who have successfully avoided Twitter so far in life!) about women, abortion, and birth control:

His best Cartman impression:

On his own intelligence:

Responding to criticism on Twitter:

But don’t worry… he’s not disqualified from holding public office.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Pols!

Dog-Loving Colorado Protester Scores Big Against Mitt Romney

How do you prove that Romney’s mistreatment of his Irish Setter was abusive?

You could try demonstrating the same transport method with a toy dog, as one Littleton, Colorado protester did. The result: Littleton police stopped his vehicle on suspicion of animal abuse. According to Dogs Against Romney, the protester goes by “Oredigger” (do we have one of those registered on COPols?) and was on his way to protest a Romney campaign event when police stopped him, thinking that the toy dog crated on his car’s roof was a live pet.

After the jump, learn how you and your dogs can remind voters that Mitt Romney is no friend to pet owners (without getting pulled over).

Disapprove of Mitt Romney’s nostalgic recounting of his terrified dog’s defecation after riding crated on the roof of Romney’s car? Here’s what you can do to help dog lovers around the world keep this story alive.

1. Refresh your memory regarding the facts of the story. The one-sentence version: During a family vacation, Mitt Romney transported his Irish Setter, Seamus, on the roof of the family’s vehicle, confined to a crate; this caused the anxious, frightened dog to squirt liquid diarrhea out of his crate, which Romney rinsed away with a hose at a gas station.

2. Like Dogs Against Romney on Facebook.

3. If you have a dog who you transport humanely, consider displaying an “I Ride Inside” magnet or sticker on the bumper of your car. Several breeds are available, with more coming soon.

Why should this story matter?

In practical terms, it doesn’t. The only witnesses are Romney family members. The “victim” has long since crossed over to a place where dogs are, presumably, never crated at all, much less atop cars. Romney was not charged with a crime, and as far as we know, none of his policy proposals involve encouraging animal abuse.

However, the probable GOP nominee is something of an enigma on a personal level, a perception shared even by journalists covering the race. He tries mightily to be a “regular guy” and “one of us,” but we hear nothing but flub after flub when Romney’s actually confronted, one-on-one, with a regular guy or gal. It seems to be very difficult for Romney to empathize with others, whether human or animal. If there’s a single personality trait that’s important in a President, I’d say it’s empathy. The ability to put oneself in another person’s shoes and “see both sides” of an issue is critical for the POTUS, whether he’s suggesting Social Security fixes or deciding whether or not to bomb another country.

There’s also a legitimate concern about animal welfare raised by Mitt’s past mistreatment of his own pet. The next President may well be asked to sign legislation restricting the operations of “puppy mills.” He’s also likely to be asked to address animal issues including horse slaughter, sale of animal fighting paraphernelia online, and the management of BLM-owned Mustang horses. If Mitt fundamentally is unable to relate to the terror experienced by his own dog, rattling around on top of his car in the wind for hours, will he relate to the abuse and neglect experienced by puppies bred in a “mill” environment? Or the wealthy, $10,000 bet-making financier be more empathetic toward puppy mill operators, who cut animal care costs to maximize their own profits?

The bottom line: I can relate to those who look at the Seamus story as exemplary of partisan silliness and nitpicking, but, as a dog-lover, I also can’t ignore its relevance when considered alongside other incidents in which Mitt has demonstrated a fundamental lack of compassion. As a progressive, I believe in President Obama’s philosophy: Each of us is his brother’s keeper. Romney, unfortunately, wasn’t even effective or kind when serving as his own dog’s keeper.

Denver Affiliate to National Komen for a Cure: Oh, Put a Sock in It

You can’t roll your eyes much louder than this without pulling a muscle. As the national Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation pulled Planned Parenthood’s grant funding this week, its Denver affiliate went rogue, announcing that Planned Parenthood will receive a grant for the upcoming grant cycle, through March of 2013.

According to a Facebook post by the Denver affiliate, Komen has granted its Denver branch a special exemption permitting Denver-area Planned Parenthood health centers to receive funding. Komen grants to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains are used to detect breast cancer and educate patients about breast health.

Full text and more info after the jump:

Here’s Komen’s Denver affiliate’s full-length Facebook announcement. I’ve added paragraphs for easy reading, but you can view the original (and give Denver’s Komen a “like” for supporting women’s health) on Facebook.

Recently, Susan G. Komen for the Cure® has been criticized for changes in its’ grants program criteria that has resulted in Planned Parenthood no longer being eligible to receive Komen community grant funds.

The Denver Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure® has been granted an exception for the Affiliate to fund Planned Parenthood for the grant cycle April 1, 2012 through March 31, 2013 pending the Grant Review Committee and Board of Directors approval of their grant application.

The Affiliate closely monitors all grantees to guarantee the awarded funds are used as intended and NOT used outside the scope of our promise to end breast cancer. The monitoring includes 6-month, 9-month and final reports; site visit; and quarterly coalition meetings.

This year the Colorado’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program, the Women’s Wellness Connection Program (WWC), suffered a budget reduction and nearly 5,500 women will not be able to access services through this life-saving program and 85 cancers may go undiagnosed. The community is looking to Komen Denver Affiliate to provide the services the state can no longer fund.

In 2010, the Affiliate grant awarded to Planned Parenthood was responsible for finding 19% of the breast cancers discovered through Komen dollars. Also, they provided breast health/cancer education to 2,264 women, 601 clinical breast examinations and referred and paid for 57 mammograms. 125 women were referred for additional diagnostics.

Now more than ever Komen Denver Metropolitan Affiliate has a responsibility to support the underserved community and we will continue to help ensure that all women have access to quality breast health care.”

And, as long as we’re quoting things, let’s go ahead and quote Komen for a Cure’s spankin’ new Vice President, former pro-life gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel:

“I will be a pro-life governor who will work tirelessly to promote a culture of life in Georgia…. I believe that each and every unborn child has inherent dignity, that every abortion is a tragedy, and that government has a role, along with the faith community, in encouraging women to choose life in even the most difficult of circumstances…. since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.”

But, of course, the defunding of Planned Parenthood by Komen for a Cure has nothing to do with politics, right, spokeswoman Leslie Aun?

A spokeswoman for the Komen foundation, Leslie Aun, told The Associated Press that the main factor in the decision was a new rule adopted by Komen that prohibits grants to organizations being investigated by local, state or federal authorities. Ms. Aun told The A.P. that Planned Parenthood was therefore disqualified from financing because of an inquiry being conducted by Representative Cliff Stearns, Republican of Florida, who is looking at how Planned Parenthood spends and reports its money.

Okay, then.

I hereby call on any pro-choice Senator or Congressional representative to place Susan G. Komen for a Cure under investigation, and see if they continue spending money on their own work. If any politically motivated “investigation” can bar an organization from providing free and low-cost mammograms with critical Komen foundation dollars, let’s see how serious they really are about following that “new rule,” shall we?

In the meantime, I’ll be sending a thank-you note to Denver’s Komen affiliate for its courage. Please join me:


Komen Denver

1835 Franklin Street

Denver, CO 80218

303-744-2088

Jared Polis Gets Social Media Right

They’re all on Twitter now, aren’t they? If you happen to really, really love dry, prewritten campaign updates and restatements of slogans hammered within an inch of their lives by PR people, you can follow most any Congresscritter of your choice on Twitter and “like” them on Facebook. But Congresspeople who really, really understand social media are few and far between.

Congressman Jared Polis is one of us: The few, the proud, the truly Web-nerdy. I’ll go out on a limb here and bet that he’s at least once closed the Reddit tab in his browser, then ten seconds later thought, “I wonder what’s on Reddit?” and reopened it. Proof: Reddit asks Polis anything, and he answers like a real person, not a conglomerate produced by a communications team.

Selected extra-awesome quotes after the jump:

By way of describing himself:

I also= gay, Jewish, gamer, nerd, baseball fan, retired florist, alfalfa farmer, numismatist, tarot reader, new father, beekeeper

Didn’t know you were a beekeeper, Jared! If you’re out there reading Pols (we know you are… one of us! one of us!) I’d love any suggestions you may have. Thinking of getting a hive myself. Moving on, a Redditor asks:

Is there anyone you look up to in Washington?

Polis replies:

Congressman Joe Crowley (D-NY). I think he’s the tallest Congressman. like at least 6′ 5″

A Redditor pitches a softball:

How do you get away with being so cool and yet somehow so smart?

Polis:

It’s all an act.

Explaining to a non-American what Congress does:

we are responsible for passing all laws, and spending all the governments money, usually more money than the government takes in

In response to an invitation to a meetup:

of course I’ll come to one, but I have to buy my own beer, ethics rules and all.

I think with Boulder and Ft. Collins I will represent the most microbreweries in the country 🙂

On whether or not a question-asker should run for office:

just go for it and run! the worst that will happen is that you won’t win and that’s the same as if you didn’t run!

About Congress’s approval rating:

I am in the ~90% that doesn’t approve of Congress.

And a photo of his dog:

Robert Ramirez Bounces Back to HD 29 Race

Mere weeks after filing to challenge a formidable Democratic incumbent in SD 19, State Representative Robert Ramirez [R-eversing] has executed a U-turn right back into his own race, attempting to defend his seat in HD 29. According to multiple sources, Ramirez made this announcement himself at a recent town hall meeting. Democratic challenger Tracy Kraft-Tharp is attempting to take that post from him, and this flip-flop could certainly make it easier for her to paint Ramirez as indecisive, weak, or simply not committed to HD 29.

Rumors and predictions after the jump:

In his single term as a state legislator, Representative Ramirez has developed something of a reputation for “crocodile tears.” That is to say, he’ll appear conflicted before a vote, but when it comes time to cast his lot, he faithfully votes the GOP party line. One example was previously chronicled here on Pols. But, can you really blame the guy? If he has this much trouble deciding what to run for, it’s no wonder he has trouble voting!

Rumor has it that more went into this decision than a case of cold feet. A primary threat, to be specific: Word is, Lang Sias will run in SD 19, and Ramirez couldn’t talk Sias (last seen getting clobbered by Ryan Frazier in a CD7 primary) into taking on HD 29 instead. So, to avoid a Republican primary, Ramirez left the Senate race and headed back to his own.

Not necessarily a surprising decision; what’s surprising is that he ventured into the Senate race to begin with, particularly if Sias had already made his interest clear. Of course a new candidate with a fair amount of Republican goodwill backing him wouldn’t want to run for a House seat that its incumbent occupant didn’t even care to defend, when there’s a Senate race on the table with plenty of special interest money lined up to attack the Democratic incumbent.

Of course, whether Ramirez ultimately sticks with the House or flip-flops back to the Senate, both he and Sias have a tough climb ahead of them. Ramirez is facing one hell of a determined campaigner in Tracy Kraft-Tharp, and Sias looks to be taking on a popular incumbent with more Jeffco campaign experience than Ramirez and Sias put together. If I had any hand in making the JeffcoPols big line (whenever that’s due to happen), I’d give Ramirez no better than even odds, and call Sias a serious long shot.

Seven Common Misconceptions About Horse Slaughter

In what looks likely to be my last hour before becoming a “lame duck” FPE, and our last hour before congratulating two fantastic new FPEs on their wins, I’d like to discuss a topic that’s as close to my heart as any political issue: The slaughter of horses in the United States for human consumption overseas.

This is a federal issue, but it’s also very much a Colorado issue. Our state is home to approximately 256,000 horses, 70% of which are used for showing or recreation, as well as a rich equestrian heritage. Recently, the BBC recognized Denver’s “cowboy culture” as a major draw for tourists. When national interests wanted to gauge veterinarians’ feelings about horse euthanasia, they polled Colorado veterinarians. The horse industry overall has a $1.6 billion impact on Colorado’s economy annually, and 104,200 Coloradoans are involved in the horse industry, according to the American Horse Council.

After the USDA Appropriations bill passed on November 18th, 2011, a great deal of misinformation began to circulate online about this topic. After the jump, I’ve addressed several common misconceptions (scroll to the bottom for source citations), but let’s start with the most recently propagated one:

Misconception 1: Horse slaughter was banned under George W. Bush and legalized by Barack Obama.

The Facts: Horse slaughter has never been legislatively prohibited at a federal level in the United States. Instead, from 2007-2010, a provision included in USDA appropriations bills prohibited the USDA from funding (mandatory) inspections at slaughterhouses processing equines. This did not shut down any existing processing plants, because the last plants to slaughter horses in the US were shut down by state laws in Illinois and Texas, also in 2007. The 2012 USDA Appropriations bill lacks this provision, but that’s no guarantee that anyone will be slaughtering horses in America in 2012. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners (after the jump):

 

While a plant could open and start processing horses, it should be understood that this appropriations bill is only good until September 30, 2012. In addition, as mentioned above, there are two bills currently in Congress proposing to ban horse processing in the U.S.: H.R. 2966 and S. 1176.

Due to state laws passed in Texas and Illinois, the home of the last plants to process horses in the U.S. in 2007, the processing of horses for human consumption in those states, even with USDA inspections allowed, will not be possible. Horse processing also is banned in California.

Misconception 2: Horse slaughter stopped from 2007-2011.

The Facts: Nothing of the sort happened. Slaughter did not stop, because the funding provision did nothing to address the legality of selling or transporting American horses for human consumption. Instead of being slaughtered in the US, horses were shipped to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. Many animal welfare groups believe that this created additional suffering due to the length of transport (in cramped, crowded stock trailers) and the lack of regulations intended to create a more humane slaughter process, particularly in Mexico. On a personal note, I rescued one horse from slaughter in 2005 and one in 2011. The only difference was that my mare (saved May 2011) would have gone to Mexico, while my gelding (October 2005) was headed for Texas.

According to the Animal Welfare Institute:

The former US-based, foreign owned horse slaughter companies and a handful of trade associations that support horse slaughter have contributed to the continued export of tens of thousands of America’s horses for slaughter in Mexico and Canada either by physically shipping horses to slaughter or by actively opposing legislation banning horse slaughter.

Misconception 3: Slaughtered horses are old, lame, or otherwise in poor physical condition.

The Facts: The USDA estimates that over 92% of slaughtered horses are presented in “good” physical condition. In my personal experience as a lifelong equestrian and horse rescue supporter/volunteer/former board member, most horses sent to slaughter are victims of poor marketing or one or more abusive industries. The horses themselves are no less useful than any other similarly priced equine. Former racehorses are often slaughtered because their very short careers–most high-dollar races are for horses just two and three years old–demand that racing barns quickly dispose of all but the very best racehorses at the end of every racing season. Horses no longer needed for university research programs are also frequently sent to slaughter en masse, as are unsold youngstock from large breeding programs or large herds whose owners die without providing a bequest for the horses’ care. (My gelding is a near-casualty of racing, while my mare was left homeless with over 100 other purebred Arabian horses when her owner died.)

Misconception 4: Horse slaughter is humane euthanasia.

The Facts: When you ask a veterinarian to euthanize your horse, the process is much like that for a pet dog or cat: A lethal overdose of pentobarbital combination solution is administered, stopping the animal’s heart. If you cannot afford chemical euthanasia or intend to use the carcass for animal food, a well-aimed gunshot can also produce a relatively painless and immediate death; in fact, the American Veterinary Medical Association says that a gunshot is a faster method of euthanasia than chemical injection. The average cost of chemical euthanasia and carcass disposal is $200, less than the $225 average cost of keeping a horse for one month.

By contrast, horse slaughter involves a journey of many hours, generally in a cramped stock trailer with no climate control, crowded in with tens of unfamiliar horses, to a slaughterhouse where horses awaiting slaughter can hear and smell other horses dying. A captive bolt gun designed for cattle is used to kill horses in most slaughter plants. The following graphic description from the Humane Society accurately depicts what I have seen when I forced myself, reluctantly, to watch the undercover footage mentioned here (skip this quote if you’re squeamish):

Undercover footage from inside these horse slaughter facilities in the U.S. demonstrated how horrific these plants were-many horses were conscious when they were shackled and hoisted by a rear leg to have their throats cut. There was a history of abuse and cruelty at the U.S. plants, including employees whipping horses in the face and horses giving birth on the killing floors. USDA recently released photos of horses with broken bones protruding from their bodies, eyeballs hanging by a thread of skin, and open wounds all taken at former U.S. horse slaughterhouses.

Misconception 5: Horsemeat is a safe alternative to other meats.

The Facts: Because horsemeat is not sold for human consumption in the United States, horse owners are not subject to the same restrictions of feeding and medication that apply to owners of livestock intended for human consumption, such as beef cattle. The most common analgesic used for horses, “bute,” is a known carcinogen in humans and has been banned for human use since the 1960s.  The FDA issued a ruling in 2003 confirming that bute has been found in the muscle tissue of slaughtered dairy cattle, and reiterating that bute should only be used for horses not intended for human consumption. However, most companion and performance horses are given bute numerous times during their lives. I personally administer bute an average of at least 1-2 times per year for minor muscle and joint stiffness. Here’s what the FDA says about the safety of bute for humans:

Phenylbutazone is known to induce blood dyscrasias, including aplastic anemia, leukopenia, agranulocytosis, thrombocytopenia and deaths. Hypersensitivity reactions of the serum-sickness type have also been reported. In addition, phenylbutazone is a carcinogen, as determined by the National Toxicology Program.

Misconception 7: Slaughter bans result in additional cruelty to and neglect of horses.

The Facts: Two things happened in 2007 relevant to this issue:

1. All US horse slaughter plants for human consumption closed.

2. The US economy crashed.

Refer to the first misconception on this list for a moment. Horses continued to be slaughtered in and following 2007. Therefore, an absence of slaughter could not have resulted in additional neglect, abandonment, or cruelty–there WAS no absence of slaughter.

There was, however, a deep recession. Horses are, for most families, a luxury rather than a necessity or working animal. Horse rescues, like dog and cat shelters, experienced a spike in demand for their services after the 2007 economic crash. Dogs and cats were also abandoned in greater numbers during the recession, even though slaughter has never been an option for those companion animals.

When horse slaughter bans take effect (and remember, there’s NEVER been a federal horse slaughter ban) in healthy economies, guess what happens? There’s no spike in cruelty/abandonment, but there’s a huge drop in horse theft. From the Animal Welfare Institute:

According to numbers obtained from the California Livestock and Identification Bureau, since horse slaughter was banned in California horse theft has dropped by over 34%…

…here has been no documented rise in abuse and neglect cases in California since the state banned horse slaughter for human consumption in 1998. There was no documented rise in Illinois following closure of the state’s only horse slaughter plant in 2002 and it’s reopening in 2004.  Since closure of the domestic plants in the earlier part of 2007 there has been no correlating rise in neglect and abuse cases.  Conversely, horse slaughter engenders indiscriminate breeding and neglect by providing a “dumping ground” for unscrupulous owners.

In Conclusion…

Horse slaughter for human consumption is inhumane, produces an unsafe food product, and increases indiscriminate theft of companion animals and potentially valuable performance horses. However, in my opinion, the US Congress acted correctly in failing to reinstate a funding prohibition prohibiting USDA inspections of horse slaughter plants. The right solution to protect America’s horses isn’t procedural game-playing; it’s a federal ban, such as the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (HR 503).

Citations and Further Reading:

AAEP statement about USDA Appropriations bill

HR 503 full text

FDA statement on “Bute”

AVMA opinion on horse slaughter — this organization tentatively supports slaughter, including their opinion for fairness’ sake

When horse slaughter hits home: Liz’s story

UK stolen horses slaughtered despite comprehensive passport tracking system

The Humane Society horse slaughter FAQ

Animal Welfare Institute Horse Slaughter FAQ

Colorado veterinarians polled on horse euthanasia

Former Sheriff Pat Sullivan Arrested, Held in Patrick J. Sullivan Jr. Detention Facility

Former Arapahoe County Sheriff Patrick J. Sullivan, Jr., has been arrested and is being held on a $250,000 bond at the detention facility bearing his name, numerous media outlets reported tonight. Sullivan, a Republican, is accused of agreeing to trade methamphetamine for sex with a male acquaintance.

Former Sheriff Sullivan will appear in court Wednesday and will be charged with selling a controlled substance, a class 5 felony carrying a penalty of up to six years’ imprisonment.

During his distinguished law enforcement career, which began with the Littleton Police Department in 1962, Sullivan was generally regarded as upstanding, honorable, heroic, and trustworthy, according to most news reports. After the Columbine shootings, he took a prominent role in school security, including a stint as head of Cherry Creek schools’ security department. Sullivan was also nationally recognized as a cyberterrorism expert.

Interestingly, he was also a prominent opponent of medical marijuana, and served as co-chair of Citizens Against the Legalization of Marijuana. The opposition group helped to keep MMJ legalization off Colorado voters’ ballots in  1998.

(More after the jump)

Unusually for a Republican Sheriff, Sullivan was also known to favor gun control. Dave Kopel called the then-Sheriff a “Republocrat” in 1990 for his outspoken opposition to gun ownership by private citizens:


Republicans are supposed to support the Right to Bear Arms.  Yet the most powerful enemy of the Right to Bear Arms in Colorado is a Republican, Sheriff Pat Sullivan of Arapahoe County.  He refuses to grant licensed, trained citizens a permit to carry a gun for self-defense.  He abuses and misapplies federal law in order to harass gun collectors.  And in 1989, he tried to scare the Legislature into banning semi-automatic firearms.  His tactics were classic bait and switch.  Trying to outlaw semi-automatics, he passed out photographs of automatics — weapons that had nothing to do with his bill.

As a law enforcement official, Sullivan of course carried a firearm to protect himself, yet he believed that the same right should not be extended to ordinary citizens. Likewise, he now faces allegations that he carried illegal drugs for his personal satisfaction, but believed that even terminally ill patients should not be permitted to use marijuana for pain relief.

Neither the criminal charges he faces currently nor his possibly hypocritical political beliefs can tarnish the heroic acts performed by former Sheriff Sullivan during his time as a police officer and Sheriff. Notably, he drove his Jeep through a fence to rescue a wounded deputy from a murderer wielding a stolen semi-automatic weapon. (Trigger warning: Link is to a news article on a forum discussing the Columbine shootings.)

Sullivan later (literally) held up the aforementioned shooter’s weapon as an example in advocating for a ban on private ownership of semi-automatic firearms.

Former Sheriff Sullivan is, as is any arrested party, innocent until proven guilty. However, it may not be too much to hope that his arrest sparks a statewide conversation about drug policy.

If Sullivan indeed illegally sold methamphetamine, despite having had any number of opportunities during his law enforcement career to observe the drug’s effects on individuals, families, and communities, one must question the value of deterrence in preventing drug use. Nobody could know better than a former Sheriff the consequences, both legal and personal, of involvement in the methamphetamine trade.

Could it be time to stop treating punishment and fear as the solution to the sickness that is addiction, and begin focusing on healing communities? In Portugal, decriminalization had a  provably positive effect, reducing overdose deaths and causing a sharp drop in HIV transmission by way of needle-sharing. Aversive measures and deterrents have yet to cure any disease, from cancer to obesity to alcoholism to drug addiction. Treatment and prevention may not work perfectly, but they work, and they don’t remove productive citizens or retired law enforcement heroes from their families or communities.  

Texas family law judge shown allegedly abusing disabled daughter

I am not going to embed this video, as it is EXTREMELY DISTURBING. However, as you may have already seen on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites, a Texas family law judge appears to be shown in a 2004 video physically abusing his daughter, who is affected by ataxic cerebral palsy (a physical impairment). She appears to have posted the video herself in response to a confrontation with her father.

Here is the video, if you can stomach it.

I do not recommend watching any more than you have to in order to see that this it is as described; I have a pretty strong stomach and only made it for 45 seconds.

The judge depicted is an elected official who must answer to the voters in his state and the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Here are some links you may find useful in case you wish to participate in the widespread outrage that has already driven so many complaints that the judge’s individual contact information has been removed from the state site:

Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct

Previous allegations of same judge’s alleged tendency to protect child abusers

Page showing he is still on the bench, with photo to compare to video

Another previous complaint

Reddit profile of user identifying herself as the daughter in this video

Although this is a deeply disturbing incident, it does not appear that criminal charges are an option in light of the Texas and federal statutes of limitations on child abuse. However, if indeed this family law judge has protected abusers rather than children, he does not belong in a position of power. I have no special knowledge of the situation, but would recommend that anyone wishing to complain focus their comments on the need for an investigation to confirm these allegations, and his removal from the bench if they are proven accurate.

All indicators point to the veracity of the daughter’s story; however, elaborate hoaxes are not uncommon online, and any “vigilante” action would be unwise and criminal; likewise, this judge’s personal contact information should not be utilized for the purpose of harassment or venting anger, although it is impossible to avoid access to that information since it has been placed in the top comment on the video. Once again, the most productive action if this story rings true to you is a call to encourage the Commission on Judicial Conduct to investigate this allegation in full, especially if the judge does not resign immediately.

PS. I am not putting this on the front page and I ask that it not be placed there by others; it is too disturbing to shove in everyone’s face on FP on a night that should be full of celebration for many.

At least he’s not your family law judge (TRIGGER WARNING: Abuse of a child with a disability)

I am not going to embed this video, as it is EXTREMELY DISTURBING. However, as you may have already seen on Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, or other social media sites, a Texas family law judge appears to be shown in a 2004 video physically abusing his daughter, who is affected by ataxic cerebral palsy (a physical impairment). She appears to have posted the video herself in response to a confrontation with her father.

Here is the video, if you can stomach it.

I do not recommend watching any more than you have to in order to see that this it is as described; I have a pretty strong stomach and only made it for 45 seconds.

The judge depicted is an elected official who must answer to the voters in his state and the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Here are some links you may find useful in case you wish to participate in the widespread outrage that has already driven so many complaints that the judge’s individual contact information has been removed from the state site:

Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct

Previous allegations of same judge’s alleged tendency to protect child abusers

Page showing he is still on the bench, with photo to compare to video

Another previous complaint

Reddit profile of user identifying herself as the daughter in this video

Although this is a deeply disturbing incident, it does not appear that criminal charges are an option in light of the Texas and federal statutes of limitations on child abuse. However, if indeed this family law judge has protected abusers rather than children, he does not belong in a position of power. I have no special knowledge of the situation, but would recommend that anyone wishing to complain focus their comments on the need for an investigation to confirm these allegations, and his removal from the bench if they are proven accurate.

All indicators point to the veracity of the daughter’s story; however, elaborate hoaxes are not uncommon online, and any “vigilante” action would be unwise and criminal; likewise, this judge’s personal contact information should not be utilized for the purpose of harassment or venting anger, although it is impossible to avoid access to that information since it has been placed in the top comment on the video. Once again, the most productive action if this story rings true to you is a call to encourage the Commission on Judicial Conduct to investigate this allegation in full, especially if the judge does not resign immediately.

PS. I am not putting this on the front page and I ask that it not be placed there by others; it is too disturbing to shove in everyone’s face on FP on a night that should be full of celebration for many.

Palin Bailin’

Surprising millions of people living under rocks without television service (preventing them from noticing that the actual candidates started campaigning months ago), Sarah Palin has announced that she will not seek the 2012 Republican nomination for President of the United States.

The carefully wordsmithed announcement suggests that Palin will instead seek a supportive role in other Republican campaigns around the country. It also doesn’t hesitate to stoke vague fears of “fundamental transformation” in the USA, nor does she neglect regressive, declinist rhetoric, carefully signing off with an exhortation to “restore this country!”

Says Palin:

After much prayer and serious consideration, I have decided that I will not be seeking the 2012 GOP nomination for President of the United States. As always, my family comes first and obviously Todd and I put great consideration into family life before making this decision. When we serve, we devote ourselves to God, family and country. My decision maintains this order.

(full text after the jump)

My decision is based upon a review of what common sense Conservatives and Independents have accomplished, especially over the last year. I believe that at this time I can be more effective in a decisive role to help elect other true public servants to office – from the nation’s governors to Congressional seats and the Presidency. We need to continue to actively and aggressively help those who will stop the “fundamental transformation” of our nation and instead seek the restoration of our greatness, our goodness and our constitutional republic based on the rule of law.

From the bottom of my heart I thank those who have supported me and defended my record throughout the years, and encouraged me to run for President. Know that by working together we can bring this country back – and as I’ve always said, one doesn’t need a title to help do it.

I will continue driving the discussion for freedom and free markets, including in the race for President where our candidates must embrace immediate action toward energy independence through domestic resource developments of conventional energy sources, along with renewables. We must reduce tax burdens and onerous regulations that kill American industry, and our candidates must always push to minimize government to strengthen the economy and allow the private sector to create jobs.

Those will be our priorities so Americans can be confident that a smaller, smarter government that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people can better serve this most exceptional nation.

In the coming weeks I will help coordinate strategies to assist in replacing the President, re-taking the Senate, and maintaining the House.

Thank you again for all your support. Let’s unite to restore this country!

God bless America.

– Sarah Palin

Anyone care to place a bet on whether or not we’ll ever see Palin stand for office again? My money’s on “no.” She’s discovered she can make a lot more cash as a media personality, without the restrictions that come with elected office.

Palin's next move?

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Merida Elects to Repay Overages, Raises Questions About DPS Accounting Practices

DPS board member Andrea Merida today retracted a previous statement that she would not repay more than $8,000 in excess spending. Yesterday, Merida claimed that she would not reimburse the district because her spending was for “legitimate community engagement kinds of things and there is a lot of professional development lumped into that.”

The unrepentant Merida has merely been dialed back, not put in a corner entirely, as Merida’s statement on her website this morning shows:

Just a quick note to tell you that I’ve decided to pay back what I overspent from our board allotment.  I want to be very clear, however, that I did not personally benefit from any of the expenses.  There is no personal enrichment here, only spending to outreach to you and to become a better board member.

Perhaps Merida is a Ward Churchill fan, seeing as she’s apparently agreed to do the right thing after trying everything else.

It’s hard to see how there’s no personal benefit from things like restaurant dinners; granted, these may indeed be expenses she would not have otherwise incurred, but constituent meetings can easily be held without spending money.

The board president and I will go over what that amount actually is, since there’s still a lot of confusion about what should be part of the allotment and what is “traditionally” covered as a function of our duties.  Once we get the accounting straightened out, I will know what the amount is and will work to pay it back, however painful.  It’s only right.

This begins to raise some questions that go beyond Merida’s role on the DPS board: Why would any person be given a credit card without a specific and detailed spending policy? Anyone who’s ever held a corporate credit card has likely also had the privilege of reading at length and signing a spending agreement roughly the length of War and Peace.

The board president and I are also working together to put some policy in place.  Nothing should be left to memory, and our procedures need to be put down on paper as we transition for the next board that will be elected in November.  We still don’t have a system to help members track what they’re spending, and it’s not fair to anyone (especially to you) to leave things so loose.

No system to track spending? Really? In the Internet age? DPS watchdogs should investigate this claim and, if it’s proven true, advocate for the implementation of a system to track and control spending on all DPS credit cards. There are numerous software options that would likely pay for themselves within one year if they prevented both the overspending that occurred this year and the resultant PR mess.

Merida’s never been the most popular elected official on this blog, and her arrogance at the outset of this scandal rightly provoked outrage. However, her statement today should not be written off simply due to any personal distaste for Merida. If the accounting issues alluded to are legitimate, Merida’s misbehavior may have revealed a much larger problem.

As a former board member for a local nonprofit, I don’t think it’s improbable that certain spending policies were part of the “oral history” of the board, never committed to writing; in the community service world, it seems this sort of foolishness often is known to be a problem, but there are always other priorities and the can gets kicked down the road until something blows up. DPS observers should watch in the coming days and weeks for a statement from DPS clarifying their accounting practices and, if none is forthcoming, demand it.

The major Denver newspaper shed a little light today, which will not be linked here for the usual reasons, but what has so far been revealed raises more questions than it answers. Highlights include that the policy was last revised in 2002 and does not appear to clearly differentiate between “political work” and “community outreach.” Day care is explicitly paid for from the $5,000, but cell phone expenses (over $2,000 for Merida) are reimbursed separately. The DPS board plans to revisit and revise these policies. Taxpayers deserve clarification and the opportunity to review, at the very least, a detailed summary of the final version.

As for Andrea Merida, it will be up to her constituents to decide whether or not her performance as a board member is good enough to outweigh the air of scandal that tends to follow wherever she leads, and up to her supporters to advocate for her if they genuinely believe that she’s been wronged by this week’s media coverage. Merida should begin by excising from her circle whichever individual advised her to tell reporters she wouldn’t repay the district. If the “damn the torpedoes” strategy was a Merida original, her next batch of “professional development” spending ought to include a course in basic crisis communications.