To Democrats: Giving Thanks for the CO 2010 Election

Thanksgiving Thoughts on the 2010 Election: Post-Election Gratitude

They said it couldn’t be done. They said 2010 was going to be the anti-incumbent year, when conservatives would sweep the Senate and House races in every state, all over the nation. Together, we proved them wrong in CO. We not only elected a Democratic Senator, but a Democratic Governor. We retained some Democratic members of Congress, as well. Not every race was a win, and we did get out butts kicked in many local races, but still, we have much to celebrate.

The Bennet race was watched all over the nation, and will become one for the history books. Something magical happened in CO.

It couldn’t have been just the money. Despite Team Bennet raising impressive amounts of cash in the primary and beyond, the SCOTUS ruling allowed corporations to pour huge amounts of money from unknown and foreign sources into our election. And still, the people  won.

It may have been the great team Craig Hughes and Adam Dunstone assembled. Many of the staff members were brought in from other states with Obama election experience. They did an impressive job, but they could not have done it on their own. They needed us desperately — the citizen leaders. We shared our contacts with them, opened up our homes and our wallets, provided volunteers and support — again and again and again and again. No campaign can bring in outsiders and successfully create a grassroots movement from the top-down. They could not have done this alone. Sure, they  organized us, but they didn’t create thousands of volunteers and activists out of thin air.

Despite Dick Wadham’s whining to the contrary, I believe it was all of us that turned the 2010 election. Many of us have been connected since pre-Obama, when we banded together to elect a Democratic President in our previously red state. Using facebook, twitter, list-serves, neighborhood groups, telephone  and email, we not only stayed connected, we built on our previous win. With the help of Organizing for America, Progressive Outreach Colorado, Progress Now, New Era, SEIU, and so many other wonderful groups, we mobilized our forces. Women’s groups, Latino groups, GLBT groups, unions, People of Color, Pro-Choice groups, Interfaith groups, Retirement groups, Environmental groups, and many others — we did this.

We did it despite attacks from the right, the far-right, and sometimes even, the far-left. We did it with no help from corporate-owned “liberal” radio. At some point, we all knew Michael Bennet had a chance, and if we wanted someone left-of-center to win this race, he was our best and only shot.

Despite all the odds against us, all the nay-sayers, and all the money, we kicked Ken Buck’s corporate-interest, fundamentalist, misogynist tushie.

On behalf of all Americans who will benefit from one more left-of-center Senator in the nation’s capital, I thank you. I thank you for the many hours of volunteering you put in — for the phone calls, the emails, the doors knocked, the donations made… for all that you did. You did what they said we could not do. YOU DID THIS.

What’s next?

Conservatives in CO, despite weak leadership, are madder than HELL that we did this. We must keep holding our line. We must always defend our progress. We must work just as hard to keep what we worked tirelessly to attain. How do we do that?

* Stay connected to your “Obama” family.

* Stay connected to progressive groups and progressive friends. (No one else has our interests at heart.)

* Stay informed as best you can.

* Continue to write letters to the Editor of every paper in every town.

* PUSH PRESIDENT OBAMA AND SENATORS MICHAEL BENNET AND MARK UDALL to do your bidding. You elected them. WE elected them. Never let up. We did not work this hard to turn our futures over to ANYONE.

* Call the Congressional switchboard and leave messages for Bennet, Udall, and your member of Congress… often.   1-888-245-0215

*Tell members of the “Party of NO” what you want, as well. Let them know they do not have our support to take this country down the path of corporate-fascism and restriction of individual freedoms.

* Call or write the President. Let him know what you want, how you want it, and when you want it. Tell him when he is doing a great job (he needs to hear that, too!).  http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

Again, “Congratulations”, and from the bottom of my heart, a very sincere, “Thank You”.

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Media Doesn’t Do It’s Job, Buck Lies

What a surprise.  When the revelations about the rape case first came out, the newspapers told us that the call where the rapist admitted the rape couldn’t be used in court.  I challenged this assertion at the time http://www.coloradopols.com/sh…

Nobody wanted to believe me, the Buck apologists challenged me and the media didn’t do its’ job in checking this out.  

Well, gues what folks, I was right!!!

The reality is that the call to the rapist from the victim was totally admissible in court.  It’s just that Ken Buck had another agenda.

How do I, a civil lawyer know this the Buck people will ask?  Well, I will now tell you.

I had the priviledge this week of being chosen to sit on a jury.  Not just in the jury pool, but sit on a jury and decide the fate of a real life defendant and a real life accuser.  I was there.

Guess what, this kind of stuff is used all the time.  The type of call that the victim made in the Buck rape case even has a name.  It’s called a “Pre-Text” call.  The Lakewood Police Department even has a special room for making “Pre-Text” calls and special software to make and record the call.  My guess is that the Weld County District Attorney of the police department in Greeley has the same thing.

Here’s what happens.  The victim sits with a cop in a special room.  The cop dials up a service and enters a code and a case number and the victim’s phone number.  The outside service dials the number of the alleged perpetrator and makes it appear on the perpetrator’s phone like the call was coming from the victim’s cell phone number.  The number of the alleged perpetrator is dialed.  A conversation takes place.  The victim tries to get the alleged perpetrator to admit his crime.  The cop gives the victim questions to ask to make sure that the cop get what the cop needs to make a case.  The call is recorded.  

This is how the call to Buck’s alleged rapist was made. Apparently someone on Buck’s team has fed a line of crap to the reporters that this tape is inadmissible.  This makes it seem like it was less likely that Buck could suceed in his rape case and makes it seem more likey that what Buck did in this case was a judgment call which the DA can make.  

The press, as usual, swallows hook, line and sinker the crap that Buck’s people feed to them.  They don’t even bother to check out whether the tape could be used in court.  They just assume what the Buck people told them was true.  You all assumed it too.

Well guess what, it’s not true.  How do I know this?????

I got put on a criminal jury in an agravated incest case.  Guess what the main piece of evidence was?  You got it, a tape of a “Pre-Text” call between father (alleged perpetrator) and daughter (alleged victim) where the cop was listening in and recording the call.  These calls can be entered into evidence, just like I questioned weeks ago.  The jury listened to this tape several times.  It was a crucial part of the evidence.  Buck, your people fed the press a load of crap and they didn’t do their job.

So, shame on you Colorasdo media for not doing your job.  Buck could have prosecuted this case and had a tape where two times the pepetrator admitted that he had sex with the victim without her consent.   No doubt he at the very least would have plead to some charges or been convicted.  The guy admitted it.

Shame on you Buck.  You have lied.  You got a lot of explaining to do.  Why didn’t you prosecute this case when you had the rapist’s admission that he raped this woman and could have used it in court?  My guess, you didn’t because you didn’t like the victim who had fornicated before marriage and who you thought had had an abortion.

Buck, you are scum.  Media, you are just not doing your jobs.  I am seething.  It was only by luck that I found this out.  

Bennet people, you are stupid for not having followed up on this sooner.  Your commercials on this issue could have been much more forceful and damning.

And to the rape victim, I personally apologize that the system has failed you and that no one would listen to you.  

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Buck: Lose Your House if You Don’t Have Health Insurance

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Time and again, Ken Buck has sided with big business over Colorado families. Now, Buck argues that healthcare reform should be repealed and he has provided only vague details on keeping healthcare affordable for working families.  

During the October 15 ABC/Chamber of Commerce debate, ABC news correspondent Jake Tapper pushed Buck to provide real details of his healthcare proposal.  His response? Scary at best.

Buck’s campaign claims that healthcare reform is a system that, “Infringes on personal freedom, violates states’ rights, will ration medical care and could potentially bankrupt our country.”  Although his critique is baseless, it seems that Ken Buck envisions a system where private, profit-earning insurance companies can violate personal freedom and bankrupt American families.

Hasn’t big business already done enough harm to America’s working families?  Wall Street has destroyed retirement funds, big banks have torn communities apart with foreclosures and now Ken Buck wants to give health insurance companies the power to come after our homes, cars and bank accounts.

Colorado families cannot afford Ken Buck. Literally.

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Bennet’s identity crisis & “I can just buy it” attitude

During the primary I was always clear I supported Andrew Romanoff. Frustrated as I was to see him lose to Michael Bennet I said I would vote for Bennet because we need to hold the seat. But as I watch more of his arrogance and identity crisis I’m rethinking whether I can vote for the guy. Would he be better than Buck on the issues I care about? If I believe what he said while being challenged in a primary, yes. If I watch what he did before and after that, I don’t know. Way better on some critical issues, maybe not much different on a lot of others.

Is it better to have a Dem in office who will vote with the party most of the time (or at least when he thinks people are watching) but has shown he’ll side with big banks and others to do their bidding and water down meaningful reform OR is it better to have a rightwing nut who will be in the minority and give us somebody to rally around defeating next go around. Somebody I think will sell out every progressive value once he has no more need for our support or somebody who is very public about opposing most of what I believe?

I’d like to hear from some of the other former Romanoff supporters about if you’re voting for Bennet and why or why not.

Every time I think I can vote for Bennet instead of leaving that race blank I see something new to remind me that he is everything that’s wrong with the Democratic party.

Let’s take the local daily paper’s ringing endorsement of Bennet which his campaign has been touting, blasting out and posting anywhere and everywhere online. If I read the endorsement it basically says “We’ve known Michael Bennet way longer than most people. He’s not at all the progressive he had to pretend to be to win the primary. He’s actually been a pretty inept Senator who hasn’t stood for much of anything. But we know who he really is and once he doesn’t have you pesky voters to appease he’ll be that guy from Anschutz and DPS that we loved. You know, the guy who put a company billions in debt to line his pocket and give Phil Anschutz a half billion more to fund every right-wing bigoted initiative. That guy who put the DPS pensions at risk, thought experienced teachers are just deadwood and that charter schools are the answer to everything and took marching orders from the billionaire hedgefunds behind DFER and Stand for Children. Trust us. He’ll go back to being that guy so vote for him. If we know him like we think we do he may even go Ben Nighthorse on you.”

Then there’s EFCA. A year of dodging and weaving when he knew giving a straight answer would sink him in a primary. You’re against EFCA? Maybe you should have had the spine to say that all along.

How about his latest ad? “Big oil, the insurance companies and nearly every special interest think Colorado is for sale.” I do at least agree when he says “The special interests think they can get their way.” On the next line “But Colorado’s not for sale” well that remains to be seen. And “I’m nobody’s senator but yours” sure sounds like “a Senator for the rest of us” but his votes have told me what I need to know about whose senator he is. And who is it that these special interests are dumping money into? Isn’t Bennet one of the top takers of money from oil, insurance, banks and “nearly every special interest” who thinks Colorado is for sale?

I know Romanoff said after the primary he was supporting Bennet and asked his people to support Bennet but why have I not heard of a single event where Romanoff was with Bennet campaigning? He’s all over the state campaigning for other Dems but nothing with Bennet. Is that too much for even him to do or is it the Bennet campaign that doesn’t want Romanoff out there with Bennet?

On the topic of former Romanoff supporters, the Bennet team’s handling of tonight’s rally is another thing that has me irritated. A couple weeks ago I got two different emails forwarded to me that were sent out from Bennet field staffers saying that the Clinton rally was a good chance to reach out to the people that had been ignored, slighted or marginalized especially Romanoff supporters since Romanoff would be at the rally so tickets should be offered to known Romanoff supporters. Nice gesture but a couple problems here. First, giving me a free ticket to see the former President that said Romanoff was better is not going to sway me. I need to see something out of Bennet that makes me think he’ll grow a spine and stand up for progressive values. Second and more problematic with this is that Romanoff is not going to be at the rally. I was kind of surprised to see the emails and blasts all over Facebook touting Romanoff being there so I reached out to some of Romanoff’s former staff last week. They said that Bennet’s people had offered free tickets to anybody who attended a house-party for Romanoff Friday night (they’re still trying to pay off the campaign debt) but when they checked about the rally as of Friday Romanoff had not even been contacted by Bennet much less invited to be at the rally. So you have Bennet people telling everybody Romanoff would be at the rally but they hadn’t even invited him. Then I heard that Bennet staffers showed up at Romanoff’s event and wouldn’t leave and at the end some Bennet supporter stood up to lecture the group about how she was with Bennet all along and they all need to get behind Bennet. This was a Romanoff event for his hardcore supporters. Way to stay classy Bennet staff & supporters.

Maybe Bennet thinks all of the Romanoff people will just fall in line because Romanoff said he supports Bennet and after-all Buck is scary so Bennet is the only sane option. Or maybe they figure they don’t need the Romanoff supporters. The DNC and OFA were able to win the primary for Bennet by getting all those infrequent voters and new voters from ’08 to vote so maybe that’s their thinking.

Or maybe the DNC & OFA just figure they went so far out on the line for Bennet that they’ll spend whatever it takes to buy the election and prove they’ve got the juice to pick our Senator. They’ve got the wife of a Bennet staffer as Executive Director of the CDP, the fiancé of Bennet’s #2 (fresh in from Washington this spring) running the coordinated campaign (don’t even try to tell me that wasn’t a rigged hire – I can guess who they were “coordinating” with all spring and summer). Now they’ve sent in some out of state firm to run a shadow field coordinated campaign since the official one wasn’t getting the job done. Check out DemGain. Terra Strategies has been trying to recruit regional organizers and paid canvassers to try to save Bennet. I was told by the coordinated last month that they did not have any paid positions but now I hear this out of state company is paying $1k/week for regionals and $100/day for paid canvassers and are running it totally outside of the BennetCDPCoordinated campaign. The couple Romanoff people I know who they tried to recruit just couldn’t go that far and campaign for Bennet but I have heard that after the DNC sent in a bunch of Terra people from out of state they ended up hiring mostly Romanoff people to run the whole thing. Guess that’s good news for some of them that needed jobs. I tried to find out what they’re doing since there already is a coordinated campaign but the people I know who talked to them said they’ve all been told to keep what they’re doing quiet and are at totally separate offices from the CDP, Bennet campaign and coordinated campaign. Sucks to be a low-paid organizer or volunteer for Bennet when the money is being thrown around to an out of state firm and the old Romanoff field team. At least the Romanoff people are getting some of the cash flying around.

So at the end of it all, I have an appointed Senator who:

1) The people who know him best say he’s nothing like what he campaigned saying he is in the primary

2) Calls himself an education reformer while screwing DPS teachers and selling out to the reform ideas of the billionaires from DFER

3) Sits on the banking committee while protecting the banks.

4) Never introduced the public option he promised he’d reintroduce later

5) Sold out labor on EFCA

6) Rails against special interests but is the biggest depositor of their checks

7) Tells me he’ll be a Senator for the Rest of Us…. I mean rest of Colorado

8) Has a staff and supporters that continue to insult Romanoff

9) Hijacked the CDP, the coordinated and used the county party offices for his & OFA’s activities during a primary

10) Needs the DNC/OFA to come try to save him in the final weeks by trying to buy Romanoff’s supporters and field people

OR I’ve got Ken Buck who is as wrong as you can be on nearly every issue.

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Truely inspirational!

I know this is not what liberals have come to expect from journalism or even more so rape survivors. However, I think we can all agree that Ken Buck has empowered this strong woman to attempt to make the best out of a terrible situation. This is the Ken Buck all of us in Weld County have come to learn and now fully support, not the one portrayed in the desperate nasty misleading attack ads.

Well at least the nasty Bennet attack ads have led to some good, Ms. Corban decided to come forward because she was so tired of seeing her hero falsely slandered.

Please check this out and spread the word of the true Ken Buck.

http://blogs.denverpost.com/th…

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Bennet’s secret identity as Rubberstamp Man revealed by FLOTUS

Despite his concerted effort to run from his supervillian alter ego “Rubberstamp Man” Michael Bennet’s secret identity has finally been revealed by none other than the FLOTUS herself!

http://www.denverpost.com/news…

“We’re going to need people like Michael” Bennet sayeth the FLOTUS.

Why would the appointed senator need a secret identity you ask?  Well, it appears that he has learned during his tenure in Washington that the people of Colorado have buyers remorse over the Obama Presidency (see, Obama approval ratings in the State http://www.rasmussenreports.co…

Despite what the general buzz on Pols may tell you, the people of the Great State of Colorado are not socialist, marxist loving, wealth redistributing success hating idealogues.  No, they are actually right of center freedom lovers like most of the rest of the country (excluding, of course, the People’s Republic of Pelosi).

What’s a politician to do when his secret identity has been revealed?  Should he cry that only reason voters are deserting him is they are too stupid to understand how his desire to be their benevolent leader is good for them?

http://bostonherald.com/news/u…

Or perhaps, they should blame the first amendment for allowing people to speak against them?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

Afterall, political dissent is unpatriotic and no one should criticize the party in power currently when they can’t get things done, right?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

I’m sure that Rubberstamp Man will look to his tutors to guide him in this uncertain time!

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Ken Buck: Privatize the VA, except when I’m talking to Veterans

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Ken Buck is clueless about Veterans issues.

In a state where we have 460,000 veterans, with 4 major military installations heavily involved in two major wars (including the Colorado National Guard) the GOP nominee has yet to put out a single substantive statement on where he stands on National Security and Veterans issues.

Buck STILL does not have any comprehensive National Security or Veterans issues posted on his website, or as a press release. It’s not surprising, since he JUST formed a Veterans advisory committee (consisting of ONE Veteran) and is still casting about for support from the veterans community. His first “Meet and Greet” with Veterans was Monday. No announcement of policy was made at that event.

Well, let me clarify that – he did suck up to the Tea Party by stating that he would privatize the VA:

Buck:  “Would a Veterans Administration hospital that is run by the private sector be better run then by the public sector? In my view, Yes.”

Now, not surprising. Buck will say anything to appease the Tea Party, regardless if he knows anything about that subject or not.

Now, let’s fast forward to the United Veterans Committee (UVC) candidate forum a few weeks ago. As background, the UVC is the an organization that has 50+ Veterans groups as members, from the biggest (AmLegion, VFW, DAV, Paralyzed Vets of America) to the smallest (Jewish War Veterans.) They coordinate their concerns and activism as a unified committee, and present their findings and legislative priorities to the Governor and the Colorado Board of Veterans Affairs.

The UVC is unique in that it is the only one in the United States to work this way – no other state in the US has that kind of veterans organization.

So, the bi-yearly candidate forum is a big deal. The UVC presents it’s legislative agenda that has been set for the year, and asks them to state if they support it, and what are their specific positions on Veteran Issues.

With this as background, every Federal candidate in Colorado attended the UVC Candidate forum this September. (Yes, I know I said I’d do a diary. Maybe today.) They were all presented, in advance, with this Legislative agenda:

http://www.unitedveteranscommi…

( I call your attention to points #2 and #3)

Buck arrived late, but still had the entire committee present to address. His response was this:

“I support all your issues. I don’t have anything prepared to say, so what are your questions.”

???

Now, if Buck was sincere in his statement that he wanted to privatize the VA, wouldn’t this be the opportunity to relate that position?

But he didn’t – he said “I support your positions.”

So, that means one of three things:

1) Ken decided to lie to the UVC on his stance regarding the VA.

2) Ken forgot what he said to the Tea Party, and decided to say whatever he thought the veterans wanted to hear.

3) He lied to the Tea Party and told the truth to the UVC.

I don’t see which possibility is better than any of the others.

Now I know the hooting on the Right will begin about how bad government run health care is. And that’s a debate I’m MORE than happy to have with those posters on this site, esp those who have never set foot in a VA healthcare facility.

So, rather than put up a bunch of links that will be dismissed by the paid shills on the site, let’s just go with the opinion of Veterans who use the site. Since 2000, when the VA started doing a survey regarding the quality of health care that veterans received, it has outranked the private sector EVERY YEAR.

But here’s a link anyway:

http://www.vacareers.va.gov/va…

And if you want to read the report, it’s a .pdf so be warned when it takes a while to load:

http://www1.va.gov/opa/vadocs/…

(I especially like how the VA pharmacy system is rated the equal of Kaiser Permanente, the preferred provider of several Consevative Polsters.)

The point of all this posting is this – Ken Buck is clueless on this issue. It’s clear he made NO attempt to research this issue before he started sucking up to the Tea Party, and it’s even clearer he’ll say whatever he has to if he thinks it’ll help his chances at getting elected.

I don’t appreciate being played for a rube. I know my fellow vets don’t appreciate it either.

And we vote.

The Best Care Anywhere

Ten years ago, veterans hospitals were dangerous, dirty, and scandal-ridden. Today, they’re producing the highest quality care in the country. Their turnaround points the way toward solving America’s health-care crisis.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.c…

Effect of the Transformation of the Veterans Affairs Health Care System on the Quality of Care

A head-to-head comparison in 2003 between Medicare patients who were free to choose their own private doctors and veterans who were covered by the Veterans Health Administration, the New England Journal of Medicine found the latter “significantly better” on all 11 measures of quality.

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/1…

VA Care Is Rated Superior to That in Private Hospitals

The telephone survey, conducted in October, found inpatient care received a rating of 83 on a 100-point scale; outpatient care got a rating of 80. In comparison, a similar survey of patients receiving private care found they rated their satisfaction at 73 for inpatient care and 75 for outpatient care. The survey involved more than 200 veterans who received care at one of the VA’s 154 hospitals or 875 clinics.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/…

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Fiscal Crisis? Too Much for the Buck N’ Bennet show to handle?

Look, On Oct 1, our nation will begin fiscal year 2010. My predications, I could be wrong here, is that the House and Senate will get absolutely nothing done on the budget. I am not a pessimist but a realist, when I say and predict there will be no way Congress will have a budget in place by then. I seriously doubt that lame duck Senator Bennet or any of the Senate will have even the simplest of appropriations even completed.

My point is from past experience both Ken Buck n’ Senator Michael Bennet haven’t done too well with their responsible budgets. Whether, it is as Superintendent of Denver Pubic Schools or DA of Weld County. But that isn’t really the point I am trying to make. I mean who am I to judge, right now my checking account I believe is overdrawn, so if you say give me ten bucks it may get to zero. When I say I am the “little guy” I mean it.

So, for me, I understand that sometimes throwing “good money after bad” doesn’t help. As in what our current adminstration has done, thrown a trillion at a trillion worth of debt.

Now, here’s the point I want to make. Has the Buck N’ Bennet show offered any real means or methods of “Fixing the economic mess?” Is it just me, or is this one of the major issues facing both Colorado and the USA? In fact, as I see it, it’s a world problem. Its number one.

Look, I worked in Banking during the S&L crisis and I really don’t want to go over all of that, no matter how similar it relates to our current crisis. The reason is, none of those matters now. I know that but these two don’t even have a clue to what’s going on or how to fix this mess.

What are they going to say, when people realize that 2011 will be the year of a 3.7 trillion budget deficit, and a national debt approaching 16 Trillion to boot? Your nose bleeding yet?

For me, I believe we can not only balance the budget in four years but we can also reverse our economic downturn in the process and start reducing our national debt load. I will release this plan say after Oct 4th. So, before I offer my solution, I am still trying to figure what these guys are even saying.

Lets do a fast recap, correct me if I am wrong, since some people, cough cough, have been changing their positions more times than a football team on the losing end of salary caps.

The following comes from the Denver Post, 8/22/2010, “Senate candidates Bennet, Buck trade accusations on economy, education” by Allison Sherry.

For Buck, he was about a balance budget amendment.

For Bennet, he fancy names his thing, “Deficit Reduction Act that would do something similar, to cap deficit at 3 percent of GDP with real enforcement mechanisms to lower spending.”

Is that it?!?!

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Bennet Staffer: “Agriculture Department is broken”

Katherine Ferguson, legislative aide to Michael Bennett, said the Agriculture Department is broken.

Ms. Ferguson was on the panel at yesterday’s Agriculture, Conservation and Rural Development Forum in Greeley. There were 48 attendees; four were farmers (harvest time).

One farmer complained that his disaster payments (SURE) were more than a year behind. Jonathan Coppess, an administrator with the Farm Service Agency, explained that reimbursements are based on that year’s crop prices, normally delaying reimbursements 12 to 18 months.

Another farmer complained that Federal loan programs are so inflexible that she prefers to work with private banks. The private bank her sons had worked with collapsed and the rest have less money to lend and stricter criteria; despite a strong application her sons could not borrow money.

An unidentified woman stood to tell the farmers to quit their bellyaching. The rest of the audience quietly agreed.

A Colorado Farm Bureau representative asked if Markey and Bennett will push for repeal of inheritance taxes, repeating the claim that this was chasing the children of farmers off the land. Nobody on the panel was willing to answer the question.

There were general complaints about the cost of environmental legislation. A local politician described the crisis of having to build new infrastructure to comply with stricter laws with fewer tax dollars and uncertain Federal funds.

The panel described the loan and subsidy programs intended to attract people to farming. One farmer said the programs are oriented towards organic and alternative farming, are useless to traditional commodity growers, and do not address the real problems that are driving people off the land.

Ms. Ferguson’s claim that the Agriculture Department is broken was in response to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson’s warning

“farmers to expect ‘fundamental changes’ in the next farm bill because of ‘budgetary pressures’ and public unhappiness with farm programs” [FarmPolicy.com]

She believes that overhauling the Agriculture Department will allow them to do far more with a reduced budget. Would the overhaul increase the already high level of uncertainty that is paralyzing banks and farmers? Maybe.

The farmers broadly agreed that they can afford to stay in farming by selling water and leasing land to oil and gas producers. Two had tried conservation and alternative energy; both had failed.[poll id=”1236″]

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What is the DSCC thinking?

Worst Ad Ever

The DSCC is on the air with another new ad targeting Ken Buck that is so lame it doesn’t pass my smell test, even though I know the ad is factually true.

Scary Narrator Voice: Listen to Buck on whether he’d rewrite the Constitution and our right to vote for our own Senators.

Ken Buck: “The short answer is yes.”

The short answer is yes??? Really? That’s what I’m supposed to “listen” to?

Suppose the narrator had said, “Listen to Ken Buck on whether he’d eat his own baby for a mid-morning snack,” followed by Buck saying, “the short answer is yes.” What gives that statement any more or less credibility than the one in the ad with the context given?

When spending that kind of money, can we at least make it look like we’re trying?

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Buck on Parade: Woman shouts don’t take money from education

(And remember, folks, even this is a “Buckpedal” from his original position–“Buck said that the Department of Education and National Endowment of the Arts could be scratched pronto.” – promoted by Colorado Pols)

I decided to follow Ken Buck as he walked in the Colorado State Fair parade on Saturday. It was a hot and sunny day and I estimate there were three thousand people along the two mile route in downtown Pueblo.

Ken shook hands with three hundred people or so, all smiling. One woman wasn’t smiling as she shouted that Ken wanted to “take money away from education.”

He does, in a way:

DH: Your GOP opponent has set [sic], ‘Let’s abolish the Department of Education.’ It sounds like you’re not going that far.

Buck: I’m not willing to turn the lights off on Day One… At some point, if we don’t need to spend federal money on education, that would be great…

Colorado keeps getting the short end of the stick:

1) We rank 47th out of 52 in Stimulus Bill spending on education ($234.23 per person)

2) We rank 41st out of 50 in Federal spending generally (81¢ for every $1.00 sent to Washington)

Where are Bennet and Udall? If they can’t do better than this we might as well cut spending (and keep our money in Colorado).

Colorado will have more money to spend on schools when we cut out an expensive middleman: the US Department of Education.

Joe Hanel, Q&A with Ken Buck, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Durango Herald Denver Bureau, 7/17/2010 22:45, http://durangoherald.com/secti…

Stimulus spending by state, WSJ.com, 8/6/2010, http://online.wsj.com/public/r…

Colorado Federal Taxes Paid vs. Federal Spending Received, 1981 to Present, Tax Foundation, http://www.taxfoundation.org/f…

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It’s a Fine Line Between Crazy & Extreme or How to Buck-Track on the Issues

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Primaries bring out the crazy in politics, sort of like family feuds around the holiday dinner table. But the primaries are now behind us and candidates like Ken Buck will begin their “low crawl”” back to the middle. And we can begin having fun with all our new words: buck-tracking, buck-pedaling,  

The frenzy and lunacy of the Tea Party movement got behind Buck, who is now saying he was NEVER a Tea Party candidate. Huh? Let’s not forget that Buck owes much of his success to the national backing of U.S. Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, who raised money and support for Buck. Didn’t they invent political crazy in South Carolina?

So the question is: Is Ken Buck crazy or just extreme? Let’s review some of his best hits before you decide:

• Buck called the Department of Education “unnecessary and unconstitutional.” (Colorado Statesman, 1/22/10)

• Buck said that Social Security is a “horrible” public policy. (Republican U.S. Senate debate, Colorado Springs, June 29, 2010)

• “We would be much better off with a closer relationship between church and state.” Buck said on the Jim Pfaff radio show on May 21, 2010.

• “We need to make sure that the American public remembers the global warming nonsense that is going on and how now, over and over, it’s being disproved,” said Ken Buck at the Liberty Forum, February 21, 2010.

• “I am pro-life, and I’ll answer the next question. I don’t believe in the exceptions of rape or incest. I believe that the only exception, I guess, is life of the mother. And that is only if it’s truly life of the mother,” Ken Buck told supporters in Meeker, Colorado on August 2, 2010.

• Buck also supports Amendment 62, a proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution that would give fertilized eggs constitutional rights and ban many common forms of contraception. An almost identical measure was defeated two years ago by Colorado voters 73-27%.

Buck now says he doesn’t remember many of these comments, that they were taken out of context or he just said them during the heat of the primary battle.  Fortunately, they’re all in print or on digital audio or video. So that trip back to the middle is now a voyage.

So – your choice – crazy or just extreme?  [poll id=”1218″]

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Why my Bennet-Bitterness will last a bit longer

Usually, watching Keith Olberman’s Countdown is a guilty pleasure sure to improve my mood after a rough day. Yesterday evening, when I was finally over my hangover and my initial disappointment at Romanoff’s loss, and possibly because I was visiting my parents, who actually own a TV, I decided that turning on Olberman would be a good way to improve my day. Instead, the few minutes of his show that I was able to watch brought home exactly why Bennet’s victory upset me.

Since I’m relatively new to actually writing anything on this site (although I’ve read it quite religiously for some time now), I think I ought to give a bit of information about myself to help clarify why I see politics the way I do. For one thing, I have to confess that I actually care very little about national politics. I’m a fifth generation Coloradan. I’ve only left the state a handful of times, and don’t plan on going anywhere else anytime soon. The issues that I really care about are the environment, gay rights, and the rights of immigrants who contribute so much to our state but receive so little for their efforts, just because they don’t have all the right papers. All of those, at least to me, are policies whose facets are best addressed at the state, rather than the national, level.

For me, then, the right Senator is someone who will devote themselves to the facets of those three issues which do have to be addressed in the national arena: a cap-and-trade bill, repealing DOMA, and the DREAM Act. Both Romanoff and Bennet fit that bill fairly well. Romanoff, in my opinion, fits the bill even better than Bennet (principally due to his stance on federal marriage equality legislation, whatever Voyageur might say). Still, I would (and will) have no problems voting for either of them in a general election, which is why I wanted to get over my sadness at Romanoff’s loss as quickly as possible. At the very least, I could brooding and start canvassing my precinct for Hickenlooper or the No on 60/61/101 campaigns — things I care about a lot more than the Senate race, in all honesty.

Olberman, with his fiery rhetoric, would, I thought, be just the ticket to get me excited about politicking again. Unfortunately, he had just the opposite effect — because one of his lead stories was on the nationwide primaries, including Colorado. In Olberman’s defense, much of my anger could have been diffused if he had simply pronounced the name of our state as ‘Colo-raa-do,’ instead of ‘Colo-rah-do.’ His pronunciation is probably technically considered correct throughout most of the nation, but it couldn’t help but remind me that he is not from our State, and that his commentary is that of an outsider.

The substance, rather than the sound of his speech is what really set me off, however. His entire coverage of the story was simply that Obama had backed Bennet, and Bennet won, and, therefore, Obama won.

Indeed, it seemed like the media’s entire focus on the story was that OBAMA had beat Romanoff — not that Bennet had. The front page story in The-Paper-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named today was guilty of the same sin, focusing so much on Obama that I have a hard time believing that anything about Bennet himself, besides his position as a cog in the national system, really did lead to his victory.

Let’s face it — Bennet is not a particularly distinguished superintendent, public speaker, or Senator. It’s frankly very hard to get excited or emotionally stirred by either his personality or his campaign. When I hear a story about Colorado on the national news, I want it to be about an issue that is relevant to me as a Coloradan — not about how our Senator is more-or-less just a tool of the Obama administration.

Following his coverage of the Democratic Senate primary, Olberman went on to explore the fact that more Republicans had turned out that Democrats in the primary, again focusing on the national implications of the story (Tea Party motivation? Anti-administration bitterness?), rather than the more reasonable local explanations. “Colorado has a ton of independents who will probably swing Democrat in the general,” I shouted at the TV. “And there were two major Republican races, but Democrats only had one big fight.”

Why couldn’t Olberman just try to understand the local issues a bit, instead of framing everything in a national context, I wondered?

And then it struck me — probably because the Romanoff/Bennet story really isn’t a local story. Olberman isn’t the only one that sees the senate race as a product of national, rather than local, politics. He’s in good company with Senator  Bennet, whose rhetoric is so filled with vague national issues that I’m not sure I’ve ever heard him address something that I thought was Colorado-specific, besides Pinon Canyon. So I’m going to let myself be bitter for a little longer. At least until I can come to terms with the fact that our Senate race isn’t about Colorado as much as it’s about Washington.

I must confess that I’ve often disagreed with Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, and Ben Nelson for bucking the national party on issues that I care about to cater to their constituencies. But I’ll say one thing for them — at least they remember that their job in the Senate is to represent the voters of their state, and not the Democratic Party.

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Voting Turnout Differences

Here are the numbers for selected counties, along with percent turnout for each party.  This is using the Senate race on both sides, since the governor numbers were obviously lower.  There are two tables, one for polling place counties and another for all mail.  I helpfully labeled the dominant congressional districts.  

You can try to draw/spin conclusions from the limited data set, or wait until you can see the full results.

I’ll be putting up the primary election results on COMaps.org, and do a second update with maps and pretty figures.  The extent polling place versus mail changed the outcome of the race is probably minimal, but I’ll have to wait and see.

Tables are after the break.

Polling Place

El Paso – 5th

REP 56017 – 35.6%

DEM 20043 – 24.2%

Archuleta – 3rd

REP 1541 – 33.5%

DEM 488 – 22.1%

Moffat – 3rd

REP 2225 – 50.8%

DEM 315 – 22.7%

All Mail

Denver – 1st

REP 19621 – 27.6%

DEM 61580 – 30.2%

Boulder – 2nd (Mostly)

REP 15597 – 35.4%

DEM 31647 – 34.6%

Alamosa – 3rd

REP 1389 – 49.9%

DEM 1462 – 40.8%

Mesa – 3rd

REP 18732 – 44.9%

DEM 7392 – 35.3%

Larimer – 4th

REP 28468 – 38.5%

DEM 20375 – 33.4%

Washington – 4th

REP 1329 – 63.1%

DEM 197 – 46.8%

Douglas – 6th

REP 31822 – 35.8%

DEM 13212 – 32.7%

Jefferson – 7th & 6th

REP 51333 – 40.6%

DEM 44174 – 37.0%

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The Bennet Money Problem

I have about 8 diaries that I’d like to write, but I never have the time. It’s hard enough keeping up with all the commentary on this site, posting thoughts here and there, and holding down one of those “job” things. Honestly, I don’t know how you all do it.

Really, there are just certain subjects on which I’d like the community’s take. One in particular is what I consider Senator Bennet’s upcoming money problem.

In the aftermath of yesterday’s conclusion to an ugly primary season, we’ve already begun to see and hear comments from the Andrew Romanoff supporters that they will never vote for Bennet. Last night, after AR’s concession, I read through the comments on his Facebook post that informed his supporters that he had called Senator Bennet to concede, and many of the commenters shared sentiments that they would never vote for a corrupt corporate fat cat like Bennet – that they’d prefer not to vote at all.

Given time, I’d be very surprised if this predilection remains. Many of the people who supported Romanoff consider themselves the base, and are too politically active to walk away from such an important election year. I believe that most of them, in the end, will pull the lever for Senator Bennet, even if to some degree it pains them to do so.

My concern, however, comes down to money. The message that has been ingrained into the minds of the AR supporters has been very simple: Bennet is rich. Romanoff tried to frame the entire primary election around money – whether it was corporate, personal, or exposing its origins – it all came down to money.

I once wrote in a comment some time ago (before that first negative ad) that Romanoff’s message, although damaging in a primary, couldn’t be used against Bennet in the general by the Republicans. And, for the most part, I still think that is true. Buck’s messaging will be about policy, the Dems’ agenda, and will push the anti-Obama rhetoric down our throats, calling Bennet Obama’s handpicked such and such. He won’t get anywhere by claiming Bennet is in bed with Wall Street because the same can be said about his party. But where Romanoff’s message will hurt Bennet will be within the party. Bennet will need to raise money, possibly a lot more than Buck, to keep the seat. But I fear he will have a hard time doing so because people will assume he already has enough to hold his own.

We all know that the Senate race is the race to watch this season. Bennet v. Buck may be historic for Colorado, especially given the sideshow that the Governor race has become. Money will come flooding in from around the country and the state of Colorado for Ken Buck. He is a Tea Party candidate, but unlike the few other Tea Party nominees, he’s not a complete idiot. He’s made some somewhat ridiculous far-right claims, but he’ll find ways to inch himself back to the middle. And although at times it got rough, the primary against Norton didn’t completely divide the party as many Dems may have hoped. Buck will be a formidable candidate to challenge a vulnerable incumbent, and the national republican party will recognize this. For Buck, raising money will not be a problem.

I very well could be wrong, but it will be interesting to see if Bennet can continue his impressive fundraising, or if we will see it taper off a bit. I think the next 80+ days Colorado will see one of the most expensive and interesting races we’ve ever seen. Hopefully (as a Dem) I am wrong about whether Bennet will be able to raise enough, but if the message Romanoff pushed so hard for those many months stuck, it may do more harm than I originally anticipated.

What say you, polsters?

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Superstitious voters: How many are there?

In the past three days I’ve talked to several people who claim they always vote for the guy they want to lose under the theory that whoever they vote for always seems to lose.

It’s as if they believe there’s some sort of karmic element to elections where if they vote for Candidate A, it will cause two other people to vote for Candidate B.

So here’s my question: How many of these crackpots are there? Have there ever been any studies done on the number of voters who believe the ballot box is actually more like a slot machine and that their karma is going to affect the outcome?

Yesterday I thought it was just a lefty airy-fairy new age thing, but today I overheard two righties in line at the 7-11 discussing the same thing. They both voted for Jane Norton because they want Ken Buck to win.

I tend to believe in things like math. You know, where 51 people vote for Candidate A and 49 people vote for Candidate B, that means that Candidate A wins by 1 point.

But not my neighbor, whose ballot for Romanoff I am about to go deliver because he wants Bennet to win.

If Andrew wins by 1 vote, he and his karma can thank me later.

UPDATE: Tonight’s results will only be proof beyond a reasonable doubt. He voted for Romanoff and it caused Bennet to win. Ain’t superstition grand?[poll id=”1206″]

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Money Train: Point Counterpoint on the DPS Swaps

( – promoted by Colorado Pols)

I’ll readily stipulate that this is a big story.

That said, I don’t know that it’s the nuclear bomb that everyone thinks it is. After reading the story, and reading some earlier stories written before DPS engaged in this latest round of funding, I’m more convinced than ever before that this is a re-litigation of a story that we’ve already seen on this site.

What’s more, as a journalism student and communications professional, it seems to me that if your main source – Jeanne Kaplan – happens to be a supporter and a max contributor to the man running against the subject of your story, you may want to disclose that. I mean, that’s just a small conflict of interest. It took me five seconds on OpenSecrets to find out Kaplan’s donated $4,800 to Romanoff. Seems Gretchen could’ve included, somewhere in the story:

“Kaplan, who in addition to serving on the board is a major supporter of Mr Bennet’s opponent, Andrew Romanoff, feels that greater transparency was necessary.”

That, however, would’ve ruined the portrayal of Kaplan as a selfless steward of the school coffers. But more on her anon.

Without straining everyone’s patience beyond where it lies, here are the points that seemed salient to me.  

The funding instrument was strange or unique, even exotic.



I find this hard to swallow. DPS first did a Pension Certificates of Participation (PCOPs) issuance in 1997. What’s more, eight years later, DPS did a variable rate issuance with a swap – precisely the same transaction that everyone is now claiming was a massive conspiracy.

It’s an odd conspiracy that sees Bennet and Boasberg somehow con the school board even before they arrive!

Why didn’t DPS go with a “plain-vanilla” bond?



Because there’s no such option. Regardless of how you handled the pension debt – whether on a fixed-rate or variable rate – it would’ve still take the form of a pension certificate of participation (PCOP). In 1997, it was a fixed rate PCOP. In 2005 and again three years later, it was a variable-rate PCOP. And in those two occasions, the interest rate hedge that was used in the PCOPs was a derivative – something that’s very common and has now been around for nearly 35 years in the financial sector.

You know where I first learned about derivatives? Believe it or not, Michael Lewis’ Liar’s Poker, first published 20 years ago. It’s a pretty easy read. Jeanne Kaplan should think about reading it sometime.

Wait, Kaplan? She seems like a pretty stand-up person. All she wants to know is where the money’s going, and where it’s been.



Which are great questions to ask! Except that, incredibly, she’s never asked them until after she voted to approve the PCOPs – twice! What’s more, here’s her explanation for why she’s so flummoxed (courtesy Susan Greene, at Denver’s paper of record):

“The resolution was 13 pages, and it has I don’t know how many ‘whereases’ all through it. It’s very complicated stuff,” says Kaplan, revealing her ineptitude both with finance and basic reading.”

“I’m not sure any of us really knew what we were voting on,” Kaplan says. “It’s one of those things. You say the word ‘derivative swaps.’ And come on now, how many people really understand that?

“I admit that I probably didn’t have as much information as I should have,” she says. “That could well be my responsibility.”

facepalm Really? You don’t say? I mean, you couldn’t abstain from voting until you’d done more research? And not only did you vote once to approve the deal, you voted twice without knowing what the hell you were voting for? And she’s the person who won the election?

Wait…she was re-elected? Amazing. Ladies and gentlemen, Jeanne Kaplan: Denver’s own version of Sarah Palin. Just as ignorant, just as dangerous.

And as for how many people understand “derivative swaps”, here’s Wikipedia, with the first result in the magic Google box:

A derivative is a financial instrument – or more simply, an agreement between two people or two parties – that has a value determined by the price of something else (called the underlying).[1] It is a financial contract with a value linked to the expected future price movements of the asset it is linked to – such as a share or a currency. There are many kinds of derivatives, with the most notable being swaps, futures, and options. However, since a derivative can be placed on any sort of security, the scope of all derivatives possible is nearly endless. Thus, the real definition of a derivative is an agreement between two parties that is contingent on a future outcome of the underlying.

I mean, it’s Wikipedia, I know, but still. You mean to tell me that Kaplan, as an elected official with a fiduciary responsibility couldn’t take seven seconds to type in “derivative swaps”? And this is someone in charge of money?

Man, I’m hoping someone’s checking Jeanne Kaplan’s email to make sure she’s not replying to various Nigerian government officials. Can someone check on that, please?

If anything, the combination of her rank incompetence along with her clear conflict of interest is the story here. She’s clearly shown that she’s unfit to be anywhere near a tip jar, let alone a school budget. Between failing to do due diligence, voting twice to approve a deal she didn’t bother taking the time to understand, and then engaging in a political witch-hunt to somehow evade responsibility, Jeanne Kaplan is sure covering herself in glory here.

Wait, there’s more – it turns out that she’s contributed the maximum amount to one of the candidates in the primary: $4,800 to Andrew Romanoff. So, it stands to reason that she might have just the slightest, tiniest, interest in making Bennet look as bad as possible. Just a hunch, there.

Look, this isn’t to say that Bennet and Boasberg don’t deserve scrutiny for their actions. They do – and G-d only knows, there’s been enough of it over the last two years.

The fact of the matter is, though, the whole point of having a school board is for them to exercise oversight over the district administration. And it’s clear, just from a top level glance, that Jeanne Kaplan has been grossly negligent in doing just that, without even getting into the fact that she’s a major supporter of the man running against Bennet. Relying on her as an impartial source for this story is like relying on FOX for a fair and balanced take on Democrats. You’re going to get a take, it’s just not going to be fair and balanced.

OK, OK, I get it. So, what about these termination fees?



They don’t actually exist. What we’re talking about here is what’s referred to as a make-whole provision. In a PCOPs, the only party that’s allowed to end the transaction is DPS – period. The derivative swap is based on publicly quoted Bloomberg rates (Bloomberg is the gold standard of public reporting on markets in the U.S. – that’s how Mike Bloomberg made his billions, by selling the terminals with the rate information. They’re butt-ugly things, orange type on black screens)

How it works is like this: if interest rates go down, and DPS wants to end the PCOPs, then DPS has to pay the banks a make-whole fee, which is also called a termination fee. So, yeah, not an optimal result.

However, if interest rates go up, and DPS wants to end the PCOPs, then it’s the banks that have to pay the make-whole fee.

Either way, the make-whole fee is the same in either direction. And regardless, like I said, the decision lies with the district, not the banks.

Fine, I got you. What do you man by “interest rates”, though? Is it like the ones I pay at KeyBank?

No. The way the deal worked was that DPS entered into what’s called an interest rate swap. In an interest rate swap, each counterparty agrees to pay either a fixed or floating rate denominated in a particular currency to the other counterparty.

The most common interest rate swap is one where counterparty A pays a fixed rate (the swap rate) to counterparty B, while receiving a floating rate (usually pegged to a reference rate such as LIBOR).

LIBOR, by the way, is London Inter-Bank Offered Rate. It’s what’s known as a reference rate, people use it all the time, and it’s based off what banks in London offer to each other.

The deal that Bennet & Boasberg sponsored is what I described above. DPS pays out a fixed rate, and receives a floating rate from the banks in return. In this PCOPs, the fixed amount plus fees adds up to a rate of around 6%. Currently, it stands at 6.1% – which is less than the 7.25% that a fixed-rate PCOPs would’ve cost. Certainly, it’s not the massive, onerous burden that Morgenstern makes it out to be.

Look, it’s a Friday afternoon. We’ve seen this story hashed and re-hashed and re-hashed again. There’s nothing new to see here. But I’ll close with one last point:

Haven’t fewer teachers been hired this year?



Good lord. head-desk

All school districts in this state are facing massive, draconian budget cuts. All around Colorado, you have furlough days and teachers being laid off. And we’re hiring teachers.

Sure, it may not be as many as in previous years, but chew on that again:

DPS is hiring teachers.



If things are as dire and apocalyptic as Kaplan thinks they are, then how in the hell is DPS flush enough to hire teachers?

The answer is that while things are bad, they’re never as bad as they may seem. And that it would seem that contrary to money being wasted away, it looks as if money was prudently managed.

Like I said, it’s Friday. I’m going out for a walk. It’s too beautiful for me to engage in more keyboard smashing.

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15 Shades of Grey

(Very well said and well written. Something all political activists, on either side of the aisle, should keep in mind this time of year. – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Earlier, Old Ben Kenobi posted a diary* that posited a theory of the campaign that I considered to be inaccurate. I wrote a long response as a comment, and I’ve decided to repost it as a diary. It follows after the jump.

*See, there’s the link! 🙂

“Bennet supporters will not see any inconsistency to these votes.”

I could say the same thing about Romanoff supporters not seeing any inconsistency with Romanoff’s record as a politician. The fact that many folks are willing to give him a pass merely on him saying that he’s reading from the right page in the prayer book is just as uncritical.

I’ve supported and worked for candidates like Mike Miles, Ned Lamont, and Paul Wellstone; it takes more than a deathbed conversion for me to grant you absolution, so to speak. Many of the things that Romanoff takes credit for now were initiatives advanced by other legislators, where he either came to the table late or not at all.

While I welcome his conversion to progressive politics, and, frankly, respect that he’s come this far waging the kind of culturally progressive campaign that we, all too often, pay lip service to, I can’t help but continue to wonder where this progressive champion was for eight years in the Colorado legislature; where this progressive champion of, for example, comprehensive immigration reform was when he rammed through legislation that could be rightfully considered the spiritual and philosophical father of Arizona’s SB 1070; and where this progressive champion will be if he is elected to the Senate.

These are all questions that, frankly, have been asked over and over and over again, for the last year, and the only answer we’ve gotten is that he’s seen the light now that it’s convenient for him to do. So you’ll have to color me skeptical on that.

“First, the presumption that this is his [Bennet’s] seat.”

Again, I could just as easily say the same thing about Romanoff supporters. Earlier in the piece, OBK referred to Bennet as an “illegitimate” incumbent. And while, when I challenged him on this, he quickly backtracked, one can’t help but think that had Romanoff received the appointment, very, very, very few people would have considered Romanoff “illegitimate”.

Without getting into the specifics again, suffice it to say that we are engaged in a great contest to ratify the choice that Governor Ritter made. This is as it should be. Both Romanoff and Bennet have had a year to make their cases before the Democrats of this state; in six days, we will render the verdict.

This is the process writ in law. We’re a nation of laws, not men. If people have a problem with the law, and not merely with the man, then there should be a parallel movement to reform the laws so that this doesn’t happen again. Sadly, I suspect that that won’t happen.

“Romanoff has no “political machine.”  His supporters are the people he has talked to and worked with across the state of Colorado for the past 15+ years.  Ironically, Bennet really did have a political machine working for him in the caucuses, Organizing for America.”

A number of things here. First, the idea that Bennet’s experience in politics is equivalent to Romanoff’s experience in politics is just simply laughable. Romanoff served on the Democratic National Committee, then spent eight years as an elected official, the last four as Speaker of the House. He’s the very definition of a career politician. To suddenly act as if he’s just a simple, down-home, just-folks kind of guy is insulting.

Moreover, it becomes even more insulting when Romanoff supporters turn around and use the very same record they just got done insisting wasn’t a mark of a career politician as proof that Romanoff would be more effective than Bennet in the U.S. Senate. Newsflash: you can’t have it both ways. Either he’s a man of the people, virginally unsullied by the mark of the special interest beast, or he’s a smooth operator who’ll excel in the halls of the Senate – but he can’t be both. Pick one.

As for the political machine known as Organizing for America: yes, it’s part of the DNC. It’s also composed of regular people who volunteer because they want to make this a better country. Furthermore, the claim that OFA is a political machine is an attack straight out of the Republican playbook. The claim is that Obama and his minions are engaging in dirty Chicago-style machine politics, as opposed to the clean politics that “real Americans” engage in.

What’s next – that ACORN and SEIU silently whispered to Bill Ritter that he should appoint Michael Bennet? One begins to wonder whether the Trilateral Commission will pop up, or maybe the fearsome Gnomes of Zurich.

For what it’s worth, having participated in Democratic Party politics for half of my young life, I can tell you that many of the Romanoff supporters that OBK sings paeans to as simple, good-hearted folk engage in dirty machine politics every bit as foul as those found in a Chicago alderman’s office.

The attack becomes especially rich when you consider that Romanoff will be the first person asking when the DSCC, OFA and other “political machines” will come to his rescue, should he win the primary. And, again, had he been appointed, no one would’ve been decrying his support by OFA. No one.

Let’s be blunt. When it comes to this primary, we’re looking at about 15 shades of grey. This idea that one guy is sainted, and the other is Satan, is absolutely ludicrous. Michael Bennet and Andrew Romanoff are, in this sense, just like the rest of us: highly gifted in some areas, highly flawed in others. More on this shortly, but I’ll segue to the last bone of contention here.

“The guy who follows Mark Udall around the Senate like a puppy dog?”

Bennet’s a freshman Senator. To be honest, all Senate freshmen have a certain puppy-like attitude about them. They follow people around, they ask a lot of questions – it’s what they do. The Senate, and more to the point, its procedures, are well-nigh impenetrable.

To be brutally honest, the idea that Romanoff is somehow going to waltz into the Senate and start on an orgy of legislating and policy-making is simply ludicrous. It’s also the corollary to the “career politician” point; that despite him being a simple guy who’s just interested in politics, he’s also a skilled legislative savant who’ll dazzle the world with his political legerdemain.

Yeah, not so much. If Romanoff gets elected to the Senate, particularly a Senate with a diminished Democratic majority, he’s going to do what Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer tell him to do, in exchange for which they’ll let him make floor speeches that have the policy substance of a jelly donut. If the Republicans are in charge, you can forget about even that.

That’s not Romanoff’s fault, incidentally; that’s how the system is constructed. In Senate tradition, freshmen are little seen or heard. And while Romanoff has the potential, if elected, to be a great Senator, the idea that he’s somehow a world-historical figure who’ll be the exception to the rule in the Senate feeds into my last point.

“Convert a zombie today.”

And here’s the problem, in a nutshell. No, not the zombie.

When you talk about belief, when you talk about conversion, you’re talking about something deeply personal. You’re also talking about something that anchors you down, and keeps you from going further. As Chris Rock said, you can always change an idea; it’s a lot harder to change a belief.

The other thing about conversion and beliefs is that they don’t really mix well with the free exchanges of a democracy (cue the “it’s not a democracy, it’s a REPUBLIC!” guys. Yeah, yeah. Listen, Patrick Henry called and wants his breeches, three-corner hat and musket back in 1774, ok? Thanks.)

We’ve gotten, lately, into a really bad habit of believing that the political leaders we support are imbued with all manner of good virtues and that the ones we don’t are Hell’s own spawn. You saw it with Barack Obama, and now you’re seeing it with Michael Bennet and Andrew Romanoff.

The problem with doing that is that it forces us to concentrate on the other guy’s flaws, and makes us ignore our guy’s own deep shortcomings. Furthermore, when another person attacks our guy, we feel deep down inside as if we’re the ones being attacked, so we go nuclear on the other guy and his supporters.

But that’s not the the worst thing. The worst thing is, when our guy fails to live up to the inhuman expectations that we place on her or him, we immediately call down the thunder on our guy and scream betrayal to the heavens.

Our guy didn’t betray us; we betrayed ourselves. We betrayed ourselves because we surrendered our power in a democracy to our guy. He didn’t take it; we gave it away, with a pretty little bow on top.

The only way we keep the power is by thinking critically and acting critically. There’s no way to do that if we’re talking about conversion and belief.  And frankly, in this primary, we’ve done that to ourselves and each other far, far too many times.

We have to do better than that.

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Mud in the General?

This primary has gotten nasty on both sides.  In a few days we’ll know whose mud has stuck, what blew back and who was able to hold and rally their troops. We can all speculate and rail or defend candidates here but the primary story is nearly over.  If we thought this had been ugly though, I’m guessing whoever wins on either side, we haven’t seen anything yet!

On the Republican side it actually seems to be more personal. Norton saying Buck isn’t man enough, Buck saying he walks in bullshit and doesn’t wear heels. Somewhere in the background has been the theme of Jane being an insider and Buck being ethically challenged.

On Romanoff and Bennet both have gone pretty far. Romanoff went from just talking about Bennet’s money and suggesting he was corrupt to his all-out assault calling Bennet a corporate raider and the next Bernie Madoff. There was what I think were some valid questions about Bennet’s work for Anschutz but Romanoff went beyond questioning it. Bennet went from having surrogates call Romanoff a career politician and a whiner to full-blown attacks on obscure votes Romanoff made years ago. There were some legitimate questions but when polls turned on him he went way beyond that to calling Romanoff a Republican in hiding who wants to destroy social security and side with Wall Street.

So with all what the Dems & Repubs have thrown at eachother, what will the winner of each primary throw at the other party’s candidate come the general? Who will be the groups playing beside the candidates themselves, the DSCC & NRSC?

If Buck wins, I’d expect the Dem to hammer him for his high-heels comments, his ethical challenges, ties to Tea Partiers and some of the crazy comments he’s been making.

If Norton wins, I’d look for the Dems to hammer her for being a Washington insider, lobbyist and John McCain connection.

If Bennet wins, I’d expect the Repubs to hammer him for being a rubber-stamp for Obama, for the slow improvement at DPS and over Anchutz but more in a populist way than the way Romanoff did.

If Romanoff wins, I’d expect Repubs to call him a career politician who flip-flopped on the things Bennet has been hitting Romanoff for and to say he’ll be just like Bennet only more liberal.

A good look at what will be said by Dems can be read here, on http://www.am760.net and on http://www.squarestate.net and for the Republican ammo, editorial pages of the paper who won’t be mentioned and on sites like the revived http://www.facethestate.com, http://www.rockymountainright.com and http://whosaidyousaid.com

What say you polsters? Without talking about who has been worse on either side in the primary, what do you expect the winners of the primaries to hit their opponent with? Who will be the outside groups who get involved?[poll id=”1189″]

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Bennet criticizes Senate’s glacial pace, rules in New Yorker article

Michael F. Bennet is not happy with the way the U.S. Senate does business.

Colorado’s incumbent junior senator, in fact, seems either dismayed or disappointed about the reality of life in “the world’s greatest deliberative body.”

So things appear if the reporting of George Packer in today’s New Yorker is any indication.

Packer’s examination of today’s Senate, where unprecedented partisan bickering and skyrocketing use of the filibuster and “holds” to block action are now the norm, is a disturbing look at a legislative body that has never been known for its responsiveness to the public will.

Bennet’s comments are blunt and indicate that at least some freshman senators are nearing the end of their patience.

Talking about the experience of sitting in the presiding officer’s chair, Bennet says it’s rare to see too much happening:

Sit and watch us for seven days-just watch the floor. You know what you’ll see happening? Nothing. When I’m in the chair, I sit there thinking, I wonder what they’re doing in China right now?

Bennet also expresses frustration at the Senate’s inability to even discuss, let alone help solve, the nation’s problems. Packer quoted him as follows in the context of several big challenges, including the national debt, the financial sector meltdown, and America’s addiction to oil and coal:

We find ourselves at a moment in our history when the questions are huge ones, not small ones, and where things have been put off for a really long period of time. Yet you have a Senate that’s designed not to advance change but to slow it.

For all of the insight this article gives me into Michael Bennet’s view of the job – and it does provide some surprising hints – the part I found the most disheartening was Sen. Jeff Merkley’s commentary on the Senate’s reputation as the “world’s greatest deliberative body”:

“That is a phrase that I wince each time I hear it, because the amount of real deliberation, in terms of exchange of ideas, is so limited.” Merkley could remember witnessing only one moment of floor debate between a Republican and a Democrat. “The memory I took with me was: ‘Wow, that’s unusual-there’s a conversation occurring in which they’re making point and counterpoint and challenging each other.’ And yet nobody else was in the chamber.”

[poll id=”1187″]

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Charley Miller – Unaffiliated for Colorado US Senate

I grew up in a military family.  After the Korean war, my father met and married my mother in Japan.  I’m proud of the fact that my mother gained her American citizenship by naturalizing.  I grew up hearing my mom all thru the night reciting the pledge of Allegiance.  Like my father, I enlisted and spent 6 years in the Air Force and am proud of serving my country.

In the late 1980’s, I went to work in the banking industry during the savings and loan crisis.  Some of you can recall that.  This was a time when thousands of Americans lost their jobs and 1300 separate financial institutions, big banks,  failed.  I’m proud of the fact that the government did not bail them out. This was before “government bail outs” when banks weren’t considered too big to fail.  For 3 years, I worked with the critical people working with the federal government, from start to finish on resolving the S&L crisis.

However, all this changed in 1991.  I was involved in a near death accident, but by the grace of God, I didn’t die.  However, I was in a coma and suffered a severe brain injury. I couldn’t speak, talk, or walk.  I couldn’t do the simple day-to-day tasks that I did before.  The doctors said I would NEVER be able to learn anything, or do simple tasks and certainly, not be able to go to school.

Every day for 5 year, every day was a personal struggle, where I dealt with severe headaches, irritability, anger and stress, commonly called PTSD, due to the fact that I was physically unable to do even simple things like many of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Folks, I was only in my early 30’s when this happened.  Life would no longer be the same for me.

But I’m a fighter.  I wasn’t willing to accept defeat. I decided to do something that everyone else considered impossible.  Every day I worked on re-learning how to do these simple tasks and hoping each day for any small improvements.  I didn’t give up.  My doctors now say it’s a miracle because they believed that it was impossible to retrain my brain and ever recover from an injury like this.  I didn’t!

Since the accident, I completed 2 Bachelor’s degrees in Arizona and moved to Colorado to attend the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley where I completed a Masters in History.  And, recently completed my Law Degree at DU Law school.  But I’m not a lawyer  And, I also just recently received my Leed AP which is a professional certification for green sustainable buildings.  While in school, I started several small start up businesses and recently created a non-profit 501(3)c, committed to sustainability and green ideas.

Hard to imagine that less than 20 years ago, I couldn’t do the 3 R’s (reading writing & arithmetic).  But I did it!

I’ve come a long way and my political background in limited to just one neighborhood advocacy group I created in Greeley where I successfully defeated a “good-ole boy” network, brought Democrats and Republicans together in a non-partisan effort on a community issue that people said was impossible to defeat.

I know for a fact, from my own personal experience, that we can do what people might call impossible.  With my strong faith in God, perseverance and fighting against all odds, I won.  I stand here as proof of that. The power of prayer is true, God Bless America, and God Bless you.

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DPS as proxy for Romanoff vs Bennet & the conflicts of interest

Watching the proxy battle being waged in the Senate primary, I think it’s time that the players on both side put an end to the conflicts of interest and commit to complete transparency. The clouds hanging over the motives of Andrea Merida, Theresa Peña, Tom Boasberg and to lesser degrees other members of the DPS Board have darkened so much that they make all of them less than credible.

The relationships between Merida and Romanoff on one side and Peña and Bennet on the other side put anything they say or any vote they cast in question of whether it is out of genuine conviction or politically motivated. Boasberg’s conflicts are of a completely different nature but are troubling as well.

Merida, I believe, clearly crossed a line in publishing an OpEd piece questioning Boasberg & Pena and by extension Bennet without clearly disclosing that she was being paid by the Romanoff campaign. I do not think that her questions and blunt words for either had anything to do with being paid by Romanoff but the appearance has damaged her credibility and unfairly tainted Romanoff. To be certain, Merida has been an outspoken critic of Boasberg and the DPS Board majority including Peña since the day she joined the Board and during her campaign for the seat. I have contacted two people I know who volunteer for Romanoff who both told me that her role there is as a field organizer focused on the Latino community and the parts of Denver she represents and organizing the Teachers for Romanoff which apparently is a large group.

So contrary to what the Bennet campaign is trying to stir up I don’t think her OpEd in the Denver Past had anything to do with her job with Romanoff. Having watched how she’s conducted herself, I think she would have written the same piece and would have been raising the questions she has whether she was working for Romanoff or not. If those are her beliefs and the questions she has, I think she not only has the right but the obligation to ask the questions. If there are questions she thinks need to be answered, it is her duty to raise them and to raise them as loudly as possible. The mistake and problem is when she does so without disclosing what could be the appearance of a conflict of interest. A simple “I am a field organizer for Romanoff but am writing this solely in my capacity as a DPS Board member” would have done the job.

Merida created at least the appearance of a conflict of interest and I believe should remove herself from any paid position with the Romanoff campaign.

On the other side of the Senate race, Theresa Peña has crossed the line on several occasions as well. Although her job for Bennet as Treasurer is an unpaid position, she clearly has “skin in the game” and an interest in how the DPS Board handles questions about things that went on while Bennet was Superintendent. For her to publicly attack Merida in the papers and at Board meetings and accuse Merida of having political motivations for raising questions is as rife with conflict and as inappropriate as Merida’s own actions.

There are a lot of questions that have been raised about the financial dealings that went on under Bennet and the impact those are having on the pensions and longterm condition of DPS and PERA. For Peña to dismiss those questions as political is a disservice to DPS, their teachers and all state retirees.

Peña’s close relationship with Bennet and her continued role with his campaign create at least the appearance of a conflict of interest and I believe she should remove herself from any official position with the Bennet campaign.

Tom Boasberg is a lifelong friend of Bennet who was Bennet’s #2 and was closely involved in some of the issues that there are now questions being raised about. Until all of the information is brought into the light and made available for scrutiny, any efforts by Boasberg to hinder that scrutiny create at least the appearance of a conflict of interest. Boasberg’s personal attacks on individual members of the Board border on insubordination and show his lack of understanding of either the role he serves vs that of the DPS Board or of the seriousness of the questions being raised. It has been reported that Boasberg actively fought against an amendment at the Statehouse to subject the DPS financing and condition of the retirement system under greater transparency and open records requirements. Boasberg has said it was not needed and was duplicating existing regulations.

Given his involvement with the financings under question and his personal ties to Bennet, Boasberg should be going out of his way to be as open and transparent as possible and should take extraordinary steps not to give the appearance that he is attacking or trying to undermine Bennet’s critics. He should invite a full public inspection of all of the DPS and DPS pension financing transactions including who was involved, the real costs associated, potential upside or downside and he should call for PERA to release the most recent reports immediately for public viewing.

At the end of the day, the DPS Board needs to get back to doing their work and not be using it is a proxy to attack or support Romanoff or Bennet. If there are legitimate questions about Bennet’s tenure at DPS, they should be asked and answered fully but Merida, Peña & Boasberg do their candidates and DPS families and employees a disservice by allowing their roles to be blurred. They are all entitled to support who they wish and they should all continue to fulfill their obligations to DPS but the conflicts of interest need to be ended and absolute transparency brought to the past financial transactions at DPS, the current condition and outlook for the DPS pension and PERA pension system.

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Gettin’ Possitve on Michael Bennet

I’ve been very negative on Mr. Bennet, so i thought I’d try a new tact, before he starts running attack adds against me! Here goes nothing…

  • Michael Bennet has a winning smile!
  • Michael Bennet cooks Indian food like a pro!
  • Michael Bennet looks  hot sitting in his car waiting for his wife to get buns at the King Soopers on Capitol Hill!

Wow — that felt great!  I never new being positive could feel so good.  It feels just like a Chuck Mangione concert in the late ’70s!  Let’s try some more:

  1. Michael Bennet is the most outside of any Washington outsider!

    (of course, he took more Wall Street money than any other Colorado politician ever and the 5th most of any senator, but Wall Street is in New York so it doesn’t count)

  2. Michael Bennet is the most charitable senator of all time!

    (except in 1999 when he made $11 million and gave $1,900 to charities — way to show the kids charity starts at home, Michael, but we still love ya, man)

  3. Michael Bennet’s wife loves him so much she writes testy e-mails to his opponents about being negative to her “little, wittle candydate”

    (don’t worry, Michael, it’s normal to have your wife stick up for you on the Internet — almost all the Washington outsiders are getting protection these days)

  4. Michael Bennet will do more to hard working railroad employees than any other man alive!

    (that’s why Union Pacific gave Michael Bennet $38,000 — really it has nothing to do with Anschutz’ former ownership of the company)

  5. Of all the president’s friends, Michael Bennet is the most confident!

    (that’s why he’s invested $0.00 in his own campaign — really, Susan, that’s all he’s put in)
  6. No one loves Ben Bernanke’s jokes about Wall Street more than Michael Bennet!

    Senator Bennet Listens to Ben Bernanke

    AND THAT’S WHY WE LOVE MICHAEL BENNET, OUR MAN APPOINTED TO THE U.S. SENATE!

    (Does irony count as negative?  If it does, I apologize to all the Bennetistas on coloradopols)

[poll id=”1167″]

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BREAKING: Bennet gets desperate, goes negative, tries to play on Romanoff’s turf, and fails

The same day that the Bennet campaign sends out an email attacking Romanoff for running a TV ad that talks about Bennet’s money and votes, Bennet releases a new negative TV ad that misrepresents the truth.

Unbelievably, Bennet attacks Romanoff for taking PAC money while in the state legislature.  This comes from the campaign that has taken over one million dollars from Big Banks, Big Oil, Big Pharma, and nearly every other industry that has destroyed our economy and our environment.

Bennet apparently doesn’t want his name tied to the ad, as it is the only ad not to appear on his website.  I caught it on TV during the channel 4 news, and tried to scribble down the language.

I’m Michael Bennet and I approve this ad.

Have you seen Andrew Romanoff’s ads about PAC money?  Take a listen:

(then it cuts over to Romanoff’s first ad where he says “I don’t take a dime of their money)

Career politician Andrew Romanoff has been taking PAC money for 10 years — banks, insurance companies, oil companies.  He even ran his own PAC while campaigning for senate.

Sorry Andrew, now we know the truth

A couple things:

Bennet gets desperate: If Romanoff is really so far behind, as the Bennet campaign wants everyone to believe, why run this ad?  Why engage an opponent that can’t win?  There was a diary last night about a new poll that some were speculating was a Bennet message test.  Well apparently they were really worried about the results for them to do this.

Bennet goes negative: The quick flash of him at the beginning — just a picture with the legally required voice over — Bennet tried to distance himself from the ad.

Tries to Play on Romanoff’s turf: Bennet really wants to engage on PAC money?  This is the same guy who took money from BP, Goldman Sachs, and many more.  I wasn’t surprised he went negative when his internal polling started showing he was losing — I was surprised he thought he could try to take on Romanoff’s main issue.

And fails: Bennet’s ad lies.  He claims that Romanoff ran his own PAC while running for Senate.  This is a really tired Bennet talking point.  Romanoff did take PAC money as a state candidate.  That part is true.  He did run a PAC — that part is true…except that he ran it while he was in state level politics.  The leadership PAC in question has been dormant since 2007.  That’s right.  Romanoff has said many times that he is not the perfect messenger.  He’s said (though I doubt he used these words) that he had his own Damascus road conversion and saw President Obama take the bold leap to forgo the special interest money that is corrupting our government.

In short — Bennet lies.  He wants people to believe that Romanoff is taking PAC money and running a PAC and lying in his ads, when in reality Romanoff hasn’t dealt with PACs for years.

This is a desperate move from Bennet, and one that will surely come back to haunt him as people see it for what it is — a lie paid for with money from Big Oil and Big Banks.

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