Rep. Doug Lamborn Hopes Trump’s EPA Screws Over Pueblo

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

As the Pueblo Chieftain’s Peter Roper reports, GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs is appealing to the Environmental Protection Agency–that is, the new EPA under President Donald Trump–to drop a lawsuit filed by that agency and joined by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Pueblo County over the city of Colorado Springs’ mismanagement of sometimes pollution-laden stormwater flowing down Fountain Creek to the Arkansas River in Pueblo:

Pueblo County officials bristled upon learning that Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., is lobbying the Environmental Protection Agency to drop its water quality lawsuit against Colorado Springs.

Pueblo County Commission Chairman Terry Hart said Lamborn has played no role in the years of negotiations between Colorado Springs and county officials over stormwater controls, adding: “He should stay the heck out of it.”

…Hart countered that Lamborn is ignoring the importance of the lawsuit in forging a better relationship between Pueblo County and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers and that city’s council.

Hart said Suthers’ support for spending $460 million over 20 years is a fragile commitment between Pueblo County and the current leadership in Colorado Springs.

“The threat of that lawsuit was critically important in our reaching an intergovernmental agreement with Colorado Springs,” Hart said Tuesday. “We joined that lawsuit to protect our interests and right now, Colorado Springs is doing a good job of honoring its commitment. But the lawsuit would nail down the agreement to withstand the political winds that blow back and forth.” [Pols emphasis]

Lamborn and Colorado Springs argue that their agreement to improve management of stormwater from that city negates the basis of the lawsuit. But Pueblo officials counter that the lawsuit (or the threat thereof) was what motivated Colorado Springs to come to the table at all–and if it were to be dropped before resolution, especially before that remediation work was complete, Colorado Springs might find itself substantially less motivated to care about the polluted stormwater that flows downstream into Pueblo.

With that said, Lamborn’s push to get the EPA to abandon this lawsuit is meeting resistance from fellow Republican Rep. Scott Tipton, who represents Pueblo:

“While Congressman Tipton has been encouraged by the commitment demonstrated by Mayor (John) Suthers to solve this long-standing problem, the lawsuit was filed by both the EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for a reason,” a spokesman said. [Pols emphasis]

It will be interesting to see if Tipton sticks to his guns in the event of an adverse decision by the EPA regarding this lawsuit, but for now it’s good to see him at least paying lip service standing up to Rep. Lamborn and Colorado Springs. Working-class Pueblo has long felt slighted by its larger neighbor to the north, whose military-based economy gives them economic stability as well as population growth that has worsened pollution along Fountain Creek. The promise of new funding to protect Fountain Creek was critical in Pueblo’s approval of the Southern Delivery System, which connected Colorado Springs water supply to Pueblo Reservoir.

All told, it’s just another consequence of the political sea change caused by Trump’s surprise election. Everyone with something to gain from rolling back environmental protections, or for that matter any regulations viewed as impediments to progress as defined by interests favored by the Trump administration, is making their play.

And without vigorous opposition, it’s always communities like Pueblo who will get the shaft.

University still won’t buy fetal tissue from companies “implicated” Planned Parenthood “investigation”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Doug Lamborn.

Two years ago, anti-abortion activists released undercover videos that showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing their program that provides fetal tissue, donated by women who have an abortion or miscarriage, for use in medical research.

In the wake of the release of the highly-edited videos, U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) released documents showing that Colorado State University (CSU) had possibly obtained fetal tissue indirectly from Planned Parenthood, and the university suspended the purchase of such tissue from all suppliers “implicated in the Planned Parenthood investigation pending the outcome of the Congressional investigation.”

Now, about two years later, CSU’s policy is still in place, even though Congressional investigations of Planned Parenthood have stalled or ended and there’s been no proof of wrongdoing or lawbreaking by Planned Parenthood.

CSU’s suspension of purchases from certain fetal-tissue suppliers hasn’t been lifted because “there is no practical need to readdress it,” according CSU spokesman Mike Hooker.

Hooker says the university’s research with fetal tissue has continued “uninterrupted” since 2015, using ADM as its supplier.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 18)

Happy Tax Day, everybody! It’s time to Get More Smarter! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Colorado Democrats are taking the occasion of Tax Day to push legislation that would make it more difficult for politicians like Donald Trump to refuse to release tax returns. As Marianne Goodland writes for the Colorado Independent:

Two days after an estimated 7,000 people took to Denver’s Civic Center Park to demand that President Donald Trump release his tax returns, a House committee okayed a bill to require presidential candidates to make their returns public.

The measure, which is sponsored by Democratic Reps. Edie Hooten of Boulder and Chris Hansen of Denver, would require both presidential and vice-presidential candidates to submit the most recent five years of tax returns. Those who don’t submit those documents won’t appear on Colorado’s presidential election ballot, under the bill.

At least eight other states are working on similar legislation to require those tax returns, Hooten said; six are states carried by Trump in the 2016 election. In other states, although not Colorado, the legislation is referred to as the Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public Act, or TRUMP Act.

Trump is the first major party candidate in 40 years (since President Gerald Ford ran for election in 1976) to not provide his returns, according to Politifact.

At least a dozen Congressional Republicans also agree that Trump needs to release his tax returns before they will take any sort of action on a Trump tax reform plan.

Meanwhile, the Colorado legislature remains gridlocked over the state budget, with both Democrats and Republicans accusing each other of mucking things up. The legislature is scheduled to adjourn on May 10.

 

President Trump is embracing the idea that today’s special election in Georgia could be a referendum on Trump. It’s true that the special election to replace Republican Rep. Tom Price (now President Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services) is being watched closely as a sign of how voters are feeling about the first 90-odd days of the Trump administration. But as Chris Cillizza explains, Trump may be getting louder about today’s election because he could be getting word that Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff is unlikely to surpass 50% of the vote and thus avoid a runoff election with one of 11 Republican candidates.

 

► British Prime Minister Theresa May shocked European political observers — and even those in the United States who even sorta understand how the British election system works — by calling a surprise election on June 8. Here’s a helpful summary from CNN about what happened and why it is such a surprise (and why you should care):

British governments generally last for five years, and the Conservative Party’s administration — then led by May’s predecessor David Cameron — was elected in 2015. The next election was not due to take place until May 2020…

…May, who took over when Cameron resigned in the wake of Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, wants to seek a stronger mandate in Brexit talks.

The UK government formally served divorce papers on the European Union last month, signaling the beginning of the end of a relationship that endured for 44 years.

But her party only has a slim majority in Parliament, and opposition parties have attempted to throw rocks in her path towards Brexit.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Lamborn Not Spared Constituent Backlash As Primary Looms

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R).

As the Colorado Statesman’s John Tomasic reports, the Brick Tamland of Colorado’s congressional delegation Rep. Doug Lamborn has been holding town halls in across the beating red heart of his El Paso County constituency–and like fellow Republicans across the state and nation with the temerity to stick their heads out during the Easter recess, Lamborn got chewed out but good:

Town hall season in Colorado Springs is not only of interest for the way angry crowds are meeting Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn, it’s also of interest for Colorado election politics watchers looking for pregame action by which to gauge a likely top primary race in the state.

Lamborn is gamely wrestling at town halls across his conservative 5th District with angry constituents alarmed mainly by Trump administration bumbling and the Republican health care reform plan.

He was jeered by an overflow crowd at a meeting in Colorado Springs on Wednesday, as the Gazette reported. The crowd mocked him when he said he supported renewable energy. They pushed him on climate change. They shouted out “Affordable Care Act” whenever he said “Obamacare.”

As Tomasic reports, Lamborn is smiling his way through the recess with the kind of indestructible confidence that can only come from a complete lack of self-awareness. Or perhaps not–Lamborn’s very safe Republican seat means the biggest threat he will likely face would come in a Republican primary, not the general election. Hard-right Republican primary challenger state Sen. Owen Hill is a fresh face, but he certainly doesn’t offer anything to appeal to the independent-left voters Trump has mobilized to resistance at town halls.

Bottom line: Lamborn is the poster child of Congress’ 11% approval rating and a 96% incumbent re-election rate.

Get More Smarter on Friday (April 14)

Have a Good Friday. For that matter, have a good Saturday and Sunday, too. It’s time to Get More Smarter! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) has been all over the news in the last few days following a town hall meeting earlier this week that did not go particularly well for the longtime Republican politician. On Thursday, Coffman made some interesting statements in an interview with Kyle Clark of 9News that included a sharp rebuke to Republicans who continue to complain — with no evidence — about “fake protestors” badgering Members of Congress. Here’s the relevant excerpt:

CLARK: Do you think they’re ‘fake protesters?’

COFFMAN: You know, I really don’t. You know, God bless the Republican Party for what it does, but I don’t–the fact is that they had to register for the event because we wanted to make sure that the people were from the district. And so, ah, uh, I thought it was a great event, I thought it was very lively, uh, I thought, I felt they were very committed, uh, to their issues, uh granted the audience leans left relative to the district, but they’re the people who are most concerned. With potential changes, mostly to Medicaid. And so I respect the fact that, you know that they were there, they were voicing their views, and they were not shy about it…

…I mean the fact is that, I think that the reality is, that sure there are some organizers there. But the vast majority of these people are simply committed activists in their own right. Uh, and they are not paid. They are simply, this is where their heart is. And I respect that.

Coffman’s answer here is not only a rebuke to the hysterical nonsense coming from partisan Republicans, but a sharp blow to Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) as well. Gardner has been trying to months to make the argument that people who are disappointed with his actions are “fake” or “paid” protestors, and Coffman’s words make this a difficult narrative to continue.

 

► Not all is well for Rep. Coffman, who is still getting poor reviews for his ham-handed town-hall event on Wednesday.

 

► As for Gardner, he is meeting today with employees of CoBank in Greenwood Village. It’s sorta like a town-hall meeting, except that you can’t come. Gardner took a tour of Devils Canyon in Western Colorado on Wednesday; he’ll go anywhere so long as he isn’t likely to run into actual constituents.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Lamborn would “probably” vote to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO Springs) told a conservative talk-radio host Monday that he’d “probably vote” to get rid of the Environmental Protection Agency, if he had the opportunity, even though he does not think it’s currently “in the cards to get rid of EPA completely.”

“But right now, it’s not in the cards to get rid of EPA completely.  And I would probably vote for that, because I trust states like Colorado to step in and do it anyway,” Lamborn told KVOR radio host Doug Lamborn April 10. “But while we have the EPA, at least have them not destroy jobs, and have multiple layers of bureaucracy, like Waters of the U.S.  That’s a job killer.”

“We had Gina McCarthy of EPA come in front of us,” Lamborn said on air. ” And I told her, ‘You know, in my district and in my part of the world, my part of the country, Gina, people despise you and the EPA. ‘What are you doing wrong that they despise you?’  And she just said, ‘We’re just doing our job.’ She didn’t even understand.”

Lamborn mentioned the Gold King disaster, but he’s also upset over an EPA and Colorado Department of Health lawsuit alleging stormwater violations.

“There is this weird lawsuit that EPA brought against Colorado Springs, even though we’re doing our best to mitigate the storm water issues that affect Pueblo and other downstream users of the water,” said Lamborn, not mentioning the health department’s participation in the suit.

“And, in fact, there are plans – we don’t have a final plan, but there are plans to spend maybe hundreds of millions of dollars to be responsible there.  And yet the EPA sues us, which means money that could have gone to that is going to be tied up with lawyers and paying fines, perhaps.  It doesn’t help solve the problem!”

But Colorado Springs wasn’t adequately addressing the problem itself, according to the he EPA suit, which found longstanding and repeated violations.

(more…)

Colorado GOP Barely Even Tries To Justify Syria Hypocrisy

Last night, President Donald Trump ordered a round of cruise missile strikes against a Syrian government airbase believed to have been the origin of an horrific chemical weapons attack on civilians and rebel-held positions in that country. The response from Colorado Republicans and Democrats to this strike was generally supportive on both sides–but as Denver7’s Blair Miller reports, Republican reactions to the strike are markedly different than a very similar situation in 2013, when President Barack Obama unsuccessfully sought permission to attack Syria after another incident where chemical weapons were used against civilians:

The reaction from many lawmakers to Thursday night’s U.S. attack on a Syrian air base that followed a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens earlier this week stands in stark contrast to their reactions when President Obama called for similar military actions in 2013.

Thousands of Syrians were hit with chemical weapons in a strike purportedly ordered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Aug. 21, 2013.

As the Obama administration wringed its hands over how to respond to the attack, which was a violation of the Geneva Convention that bans the use of chemical weapons, most members of Congress also fretted over how the U.S. government might respond…

On Aug. 28 of that year, then-Rep. Cory Gardner, Rep. Scott Tipton, and Rep. Mike Coffman signed on to a House letter to Obama that urged the president to “consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria.”

“Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution,” the letter said. [Pols emphasis]

Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

As the situation developed in August of 2013, Colorado Republicans hardened in opposition to any use of force against Syria in response to the chemical weapons attack on Ghouta, Syria on August 21st of that year:

Coffman tweeted on Aug. 29 of that year, “Pres. Obama must obey Constitution and come to Congress before any military action in Syria,” a day after saying, “Your Colorado delegation agrees, no to war in Syria and yes to transparency from the President.”

…Gardner tweeted on Sept. 4 and 5 of that year that he was “skeptical” of the U.S. getting involved in Syria. On the 4th, he said, “I am not yet convinced of a compelling & vital national interest.” [Pols emphasis]

As for Rep. Doug Lamborn? You can just imagine:

Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., issued a statement Sept. 12 of that year saying, “Nothing I heard from President Obama tonight convinced me that a military strike against Syria is in America’s best interest,” adding that he had “lost confidence in the president’s ability to lead” and that neither classified nor unclassified briefings convinced him he should vote for or against any possible resolution to authorize military actions in Syria – a resolution that never came.

But as FOX 31 rounded up last night, that was then. This is what Cory Gardner says now:

Tonight, the United States of America took action against a treacherous regime whose actions and allies have shown the world the dark edge of humanity. The use of chemical weapons is illegal under international law and the Administration is well justified taking this long-overdue action tonight against a designated state sponsor of terrorism.

And Rep. Mike Coffman, for whom the War Powers Resolution was so critically important under Obama:

Tonight’s actions in Syria come after Assad’s horrific actions against his own people. America must show leadership and I’m thankful for what appears to be an effective response by our military.

And Rep. Doug Lamborn, who told Obama that striking Syria is not in America’s best interest–does he even remember what he said before?

Syrian President Assad continues to act far beyond the norms of civilized leaders. Unlike the previous administration which walked away from similar outrages, [Pols emphasis] President Trump is willing to send a clear signal of U.S. opposition to crimes against humanity.

In Blair’s story, Gardner makes a feeble attempt to justify this clear contradiction, claiming that the situation is worse now, even though many more civilians died in the 2013 chemical weapons attacks. As for Lamborn and Coffman, they don’t even try to make sense of what they said then versus now.

That’s because they can’t. The hypocrisy on display here is simply too much to explain away. The only real difference between the chemical attack by Syria in 2013 and the latest attack is the fact that a Republican is now President. And that means to these politicians, the lives lost and the moral need to respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction against civilians are all just part of the game.

However you feel about this military action, if that is not outrageous, nothing is.

Owen Hill Auditioning for Same Movie You’ve Seen Before

State Sen. Owen Hill

Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman broke the news on Saturday that state Sen. Owen Hill is mounting a primary challenge against six-term incumbent Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs:

Hill, a 35-year-old Air Force Academy graduate and small business owner, was reelected in November to a second four-year term representing El Paso County’s Senate District 10. He serves as the chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

Hill ran in the 2014 Republican U.S. Senate primary eventually won by Republican Cory Gardner, who went on to unseat Democratic incumbent Mark Udall. Before Gardner entered the race, Hill received endorsements from Ron Paul, the former congressman and presidential candidate, and the Tea Party Express organization.

But Hill, who first ran for office at age 28 — he lost a bid in 2010 in a different state senate district by just 340 votes to Democrat John Morse, then the incumbent Senate majority leader — defies easy political classification.

Hill is an ambitious conservative switchblade enthusiast who has long been looking to move up in the political world — he had been mentioned as a potential candidate for State Treasurer in 2018 — but settling on CD-5 as his ladder of choice is at once an obvious and questionable decision. We suppose that a CD-5 Primary makes more sense for Hill than embarking on a statewide campaign, though it’s fair to question whether it is even possible to defeat Lamborn in CD-5. 

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Worthless)

Despite representing the safest Republican congressional district in Colorado — GOP candidates for President regularly win CD-5 by 20-30 points — Lamborn has only been able to avoid a GOP Primary once since sneaking through a six-candidate GOP circus back in 2006. Of course, this also means that Lamborn has never lost a bid for re-election despite regularly facing difficult opposition from his own party, so you should attempt to read these tea leaves at your own peril.

Republican voters in CD-5 are also not traditionally enamored with the idea of change. Lamborn is only the second person to represent the district in the last 30 years (former Congressman Joel Hefley served CD-5 from 1987-2007). In the past three decades, the Denver Broncos have more Super Bowl trophies than Colorado Springs has had Members of Congress. 

None of this is to say that Colorado Springs residents don’t deserve better representation in Washington D.C. You can make a solid argument for Lamborn as the single worst Member of Congress in the entire country. Lamborn is an incompetent boob with a special talent for jamming both feet in his mouth on the rare occasion when he actually bothers to show up for scheduled events. As 2016 Republican opponent Calandra Vargas memorably explained:

“Doug Lamborn is the worst. He’s just the living worst. People need to know that Doug Lamborn is the worst. He makes Christians look stupid. He makes Republicans look mean, and he doesn’t offer solutions.”

Those are some exceptionally-strong words from a fellow Republican, but Vargas’ venom didn’t prevent Lamborn from more than doubling her vote total in the June 2016 Primary. Among Republican challengers, Bentley Rayburn came the closest to defeating Lamborn in a 2014 Primary (53-47); two years earlier, Lamborn dispatched GOP opponent Robert Blaha by 25 points.

Recent history hasn’t given us any reason to be surprised that Lamborn has drawn yet another Republican opponent…but history also doesn’t give us any reason to think that 2018 will end any differently for Lamborn. Owen Hill may or may not be a better candidate than Rayburn was in 2014. It’s hard to suggest that it even matters.

Trumpcare’s Day of Reckoning

Watch this space throughout the day as new information becomes available on a potential House vote on Trumpcare.

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1:28 pm: The House punts:

 

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1:23 pm: The House has not even begun the process of moving Trumpcare toward a vote on the floor — which by itself can take several hours.

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12:45 pm: The “Freedom Caucus” may have killed Trumpcare — at least for today. As Politico explains:

President Donald Trump and conservative House Freedom Caucus members failed to strike a deal on the GOP Obamacare replacement Thursday, endangering the prospects of passage and all but assuring any immediate vote on the measure would fail.

Negotiations between Trump and the arch-conservatives opponents of the bill reached at least a temporary standstill after Freedom Caucus members were told recent concessions to the far-right were a final offer. The group rejected that, wanting more.

Trump’s inability to clinch an agreement means that Speaker Paul Ryan does not likely have the votes needed to pass the measure. [Pols emphasis] The Wisconsin Republican can afford to lose only 22 votes on the floor. The House Freedom Caucus, however, has three dozen members, who have vowed to block the bill unless they get what they want. Roughly a dozen centrist Republicans also have come out against the bill.

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11:39 am: The conservative House Freedom Caucus says “no deal!”

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11:30 am: New polling numbers continue to show widespread public opposition to Trumpcare. From TPM:

American voters oppose the GOP health care bill by a three-to-one margin, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Thursday.

The poll found that 56 percent of respondents opposed the American Health Care Act, compared to only 17 percent who supported the bill. Twenty-six percent did not know or had no answer.

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10:02 am: Opponents of Trumpcare are literally lining the halls outside House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office today.

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9:55 am: The Washington Post sets the stage for today’s healthcare battle:

The Republican health-care overhaul faces its greatest test ever Thursday as President Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) work feverishly to persuade enough Republican lawmakers to back the measure and push it to a floor vote.

Late Wednesday, the White House and House leaders were still scrambling to boost support, and signaled at the 11th hour a willingness to rework the measure to mollify conservatives. On Thursday morning, House leaders postponed a 9 a.m. meeting of the entire GOP Conference, signaling that negotiations were still underway.

As of late Thursday morning, 36 House Republicans — mainly conservatives — had announced their opposition to the bill, known as the American Health Care Act.

After insisting for weeks that the changes sought by hard-right members would render the bill unable to pass the Senate, White House officials and GOP House leaders appeared to shift their thinking — and opponents agreed to keep working on a deal with the goal of holding a floor vote in the House by Thursday night.

 

Doug Lamborn’s War on Big Bird Resumes Under Trump

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports, the member of Congress perhaps best known for trying to switch the names of Mt. Democrat and Republican Mountain as a Colorado state senator is back to his other cause célèbre–killing off public television:

Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn introduced two resolutions this week that would strip hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding from National Public Radio and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that he says could be better spent on the U.S. military…

Lamborn pointed to a multi-trillion dollar national debt and his perceived need to go to work “rebuilding our military and enhancing our national security” as reasons for again sponsoring such a resolution.

“Republicans and the new Administration need to demonstrate that we take our fiscal responsibility seriously. American taxpayers do not want their hard-earned dollars funding superfluous government programs just because that is the way things have always been done,” Lamborn said in a statement.

He added that the plan wasn’t about the quality of the broadcasters’ programming.

Public television is an easy whipping boy for Republicans looking to demonize “wasteful government spending,” but supporters argue it’s a (comparatively speaking) very small and worthwhile expense. The education and cultural programming on PBS is held to a higher standard than ordinary entertainment fare–and with the possible exception of pledge drive time, it’s hard to find a cross word about PBS from anybody. PBS survived previous Lamborn-instigated attempts to cut off its funding under President Barack Obama, but under the new administration it’s anybody’s guess.

Perhaps we’ve arrived at a time in history when everything you need to know can be found on reruns of The Apprentice?

Ken Buck Only Member of Colo. Delegation to Back Travel Ban

Rep. Ken Buck presses whatever button President Trump prefers.

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) has generally refused to answer reporter questions about his position on Donald Trump’s travel ban for immigrants, leaving local news outlets such as Denver7 and the Denver Post to guess about his position on one of the more pressing issues in the country. But Ernest Luning of the Colorado Statesman will not be denied; as Luning reports, Rep. Buck on Monday offered his unqualified support for the Muslim travel ban:

“Our country has always offered hope for the oppressed and homeless, but hope also requires safety and security,” Buck said. We should not let people into this country unless we can thoroughly vet them. America welcomes Muslims from 190 countries and temporarily bans all individuals from 7 countries. The President’s executive order is a temporary effort that addresses a serious issue with terrorist hot spots.”

Congressman Buck is the only member of Colorado’s Congressional delegation to offer his full support for Trump’s travel ban. Even Colorado Springs Rep. Doug Lamborn made it clear that he opposes Trump’s Executive Order creating the travel ban.

At Least Doug Lamborn Probably Isn’t Your Congressman

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Worthless)

In another edition of our long-running series, “At Least They’re Not Your Legislator,” we take you to the U.S. Capitol, where Republican members of Congress apparently don’t have enough work to do to keep them busy.

As NBC San Diego reports, at least four members of Congress — including Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) — have literally been spending time carrying a painting around the building:

[Congressman Duncan Hunter] personally removed the painting last week from an area designated for finalists in the annual Congressional Art Competition. The piece by David Pulphus, an 18-year-old from Missouri, depicts police officers as pigs, with one aiming a gun at a black panther.

The piece won first place in the Congressional Art Competition in Missouri’s First District. But Hunter said he found the piece offensive, and believes it violates the rules of the art competition.

U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay, D-Mo., and members of the Congressional Black Caucus hung the painting back in place in a hallway in the Cannon Office Building basement Tuesday.

“I do not agree or disagree with this painting but I will fight to defend this young man’s right to express himself,” Clay said. “He is entitled to that protection under the law.”…

After the painting was put back in its position Tuesday, another member of Congress, Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., removed it. Clay confirmed to NBC News the piece was put back minutes later. [Pols emphasis]

We’re not going to get into an argument about whether or not this painting by a high school student — which won first place in a Congressional Art Competition in Missouri — is appropriate to hang in the U.S. Capitol. There’s a larger point to address here: Multiple Members of Congress took time out of their day to literally remove this painting from the walls and return it to the office of Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Missouri).

We can only guess at the number of conversations that took place surrounding this topic, and the amount of time spent lugging said painting around the Capitol, at the same time that the Senate is holding confirmation hearings on Donald Trump’s cabinet appointments and plotting a strategy to eliminate the Affordable Care Act. If you are a constituent of Rep. Lamborn who might have been trying to contact the Congressman today, you cannot rest assured that he was busy doing something important.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (January 4)

Here comes the snow! Maybe. Forecasts along the Front Range call for as much as 2 feet of snow in the next two days…which probably means we’ll get an inch of rain. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The new Republican Congress got off to a curious start this week by attempting to quietly gut the House Ethics Committee before constituents (and Donald Trump) got wind of the plan and expressed their anger. House Republicans quickly backtracked on this idiotic idea, thanks in part to opposition from Trump but largely because voters made their voices heard:

This is a really, really, really, really stupid way for Republicans to start things off in 2017. As Politico explains, this move could sting for awhile:

By early Tuesday morning, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Speaker Paul Ryan and the rest of GOP leadership realized the proposal was about to tank the entire House rules package — and implode the first day of the GOP-led Congress. They convened an emergency closed-door conference meeting around noon to discuss removing the ethics provision — but it was too late. Donald Trump had tweeted his disapproval, and the public outcry had risen to such a crescendo that all anyone wanted to talk about was an obscure House office few people had ever heard of just 24 hours before.

“We shot ourselves in the foot,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who added that the ethics snafu was an unforced error. “Sometimes people have to learn the hard way.”…

…The day left some members shaking their heads. Many, including Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.), left the chamber Tuesday night crossing their fingers that the drama of the first day would not foreshadow the next two years to come.

“I think that there is going to be a lot of tough votes we will have to take and this wasn’t one of the toughest ones, so, I think we should learn from this,” he said. “Once you launch that ship, you’ve got to keep going… We need to go forth with more sense of purpose and direction.”

Fill the swamp! Fill the swamp! Oh, wait, that’s not right…

 

► Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) won’t reveal how he voted on the controversial measure to gut the House Ethics Committee. In other words, Tipton almost certainly supported the effort. Colorado Republican Reps. Doug Lamborn, Ken Buck, and Mike Coffman are all claiming that they opposed the measure. According to reports, 119 Republicans backed crippling the Ethics Committee; we have a sneaking suspicion that this number isn’t going to match public proclamations in another few days.

 

► A media outlet finally got around to asking some of Colorado’s top Republican officials about Donald Trump…though it wasn’t a journalist related in any way to Colorado. Come on, Colorado political reporters! How can you get scooped by something called Gray Television?

As Jason Salzman notes, there may be no more relevant question for Colorado Republicans than to be asked about Trump.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Guess Who Hasn’t Voted Yet?

TUESDAY UPDATE: As of this morning, still no returned ballots for the Coffmans or Sen. Gardner.

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Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) once promised to spill the beans on his choice for President “when ballots go out.” Denver Post reporter Jon Murray followed up with Coffman’s campaign recently to see if and when the Congressman would make his choice at the top of the ticket, and we’re still waiting:

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Denver Post likes Doug Lamborn again! But why?

(Go figure – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Doug Lamborn.

Rep. Doug Lamborn.

I haven’t seen U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn behave any better over the past two years than he has previously, but he’s apparently impressed The Denver Post, which endorsed him yesterday, after eloquently calling for his ouster last time.

The Denver Post in 2014:

Under the headline, “Oust Lamborn, restore dignity to Colorado’s 5th CD,” The Post wrote:

Rep. Doug Lamborn last month demonstrated yet again why he should do Coloradans a favor and find another job…Lamborn was at an event in Colorado Springs recently when someone asked him about support for the military “despite the fact that there is no leadership from the Muslim Brotherhood in the White House.” At which point, Lamborn launched into an astonishing statement.

“You know what,” he said, “I can’t add anything to that, but … a lot of us are talking to the generals behind the scenes, saying, ‘Hey, if you disagree with the policy that the White House has given you, let’s have a resignation. Let’s have a public resignation, state your protest, and go out in a blaze of glory.’ ”

We don’t know what part of that response is more outrageous.

Is it the fact that Lamborn failed to rebuke — or distance himself — from someone who effectively called the president an agent of a foreign Islamist group? Rather than evince concern, Lamborn actually smiled and said, “I can’t add anything to that.” Or is the most distressing part his urging generals to politicize serious disagreements they might have with the president by taking them public in flamboyant resignations?

The Denver Post this year:

Doug Lamborn, who has served the 5th CD in the greater Colorado Springs area since 2006, has been the kind of conservative representative befitting of the district, and voters there have rewarded him in primary challenges. While we like more independent-minded representatives, this is a Republican you can count on if what you want is a reliable GOP vote.

This year’s endorsement not only fails to explain why Lamorn redeemed himself, but it articulates why The Post doesn’t like him–as opposed to why it’s endorsing him. Oh well.

Colorado is First Again

(We like making history – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

flag-decorative-transgender02_1Among the big stories of Tuesday night’s primary, there is a story that I think is a bigger deal than it’s coverage would indicate.

As the New York Daily News reports, Colorado tied with Utah as the first states to nominate openly transgender candidates for Congress.

Two women have become the first transgender candidates to gain a major party nominations to Congress after Democratic primary wins.

Colorado’s Secretary of State website still showed one county left to be tallied in Plowright’s race, though she led Donald Martinez by more than 16 points and local media had called the race for her.

On her campaign website the 33-year-old former Microsoft employee describes herself as “an Army veteran, a self-educated woman, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and a passionate social democrat.”

She will face Douglas Lamborn, a Republican incumbent running for his sixth term in the House who has had a series of easy wins for the positions in general elections and easily defeated a primary challenger on Tuesday.

Misty Plowright defeated Donald Martinez in CD-5, and will now go on to face Doug Lamborn in the general election. Neither of the two candidates featured in the article are likely to win their elections in November, but nonetheless, this is a milestone worthy of notice.

Poll: Who Will Win The CD-5 GOP Primary?

With the June 28th primary election now less than a week away, we’re rolling out informal polls for our readers in a number of races around the state. Safely Republican Congressional District 5 centered on El Paso County, is witnessing an unexpectedly vigorous GOP primary between longtime incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn and challenger Calandra Vargas.

As with all of our polls, we’re interested in knowing who you actually think will win this election–not your personal preference.

Who will win the CD-5 GOP primary?

Caption This Photo: “Dirty Douggie” Lamborn!

Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, not generally known as a rugged manly-man politician, nonetheless got his “man card” renewed with a visit to the Magnum Shooting Center–perhaps a very good idea in advance of his unexpectedly stiff primary challenge from a charismatic young female opponent. Lamborn asks, do you feel lucky?

Well do you, punk?

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Are we the only ones who find that look on his face a little…disconcerting? A few more photos of the all-new Badass Doug Lamborn® after the jump.

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The Legislative Aide Who Almost Deep-Sixed Doug Lamborn

Calandra Vargas.

Calandra Vargas.

As the Colorado Springs Gazette’s Megan Schrader reports, Darryl Glenn’s stunning victory at the Republican state assembly in Colorado Springs this past weekend wasn’t the only surprise–last Thursday, Rep. Doug Lamborn found himself surprisingly and suddenly within a hair’s breadth being out of a job:

A relatively unknown state legislative aide came 18 votes shy of becoming a congresswoman Thursday.

Calandra Vargas, a 32-year-old from Colorado Springs, gave the speech of her life during the 5th Congressional District Assembly and secured 58 percent of the delegate vote.

Congressman Doug Lamborn, a five-term incumbent, received 35 percent. He needed 30 percent of the vote to make the ballot.

Had Vargas won 18 more votes she would have kicked Lamborn from the ballot – and without a Democrat in the race, Vargas would have become congresswoman by default.

As our readers know and isn’t much of a secret along the Ronald Reagan Highway, Rep. Lamborn is a relatively ineffectual and soft-headed member of Congress, who keeps his seat primarily via unquestioning support for whatever the military-industrial interests in El Paso County tell him to support. When Lamborn does make news it’s generally an embarrassment, and his ability to deliver the pork to the Fifth District has not prevented spirited primaries in just about every election cycle.

All of the conventional wisdom suggests Lamborn will face another spirited challenge this year from Sen. Ray Scott’s legislative aide as he has from businessmen and retired military officers alike, and then prevail as he has every time when the votes are counted June 28th.

Of course, the same conventional wisdom was certain Tim Neville would at least make the ballot.

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Don’t let 80,000 Coloradans down

The following is from Dr. Christine Gilroy of Colorado Health OP:

“I am writing to explain what you will see in the news in the next few days.

The feds have quietly been shutting down co-ops in other states over the last 3 months. New York and Nevada were most recent. I am speaking now, as they have since issued gag orders to these co-ops.

The reason these co-ops were closed was that they were successful in the Individual Market. New York had 200,000 members.

Start up insurance requires 3 years to build Risk Based Capital. Starting Co-ops required an initial start-up loan, the feds promised second year funds to Risk Based Capital, which they reneged on in the CROMNIBUS budget of 12/9/14.

They told us at the same time we could not accept Venture Capital loans or Angel Investor dollars that help other start-ups through their initial capitalization period.

The Feds also promised to support the new individual market for 2 years through Reinsurance of the Risk Corridors. This meant that insurance companies would be incentivized to take all comers through the exchanges, and more insurance companies would participate to dilute the risk.

Today they broke their promise to Colorado, and denied us the Risk Corridor funds we were promised. They offered 12%. This affects every company that participated in the individual exchanges, not just Colorado HealthOP. Colorado HealthOP only needed 35% risk payment, and would have required no further infusions of federal money to be profitable in 2016, and are currently on track to pay back our loans — with interest –before they were due.

Short-sighted partisan politics are harming the people of Colorado.

The ACA was successful in lowering individual health premiums throughout Colorado. The Colorado HealthOP is part of that.

Please, call your Congresspeople. 80,000 Coloradans rely on Colorado HealthOP to provide access to affordable care. Let’s make sure they keep their promises to the people of this state.

Local Planned Parenthood Pushes Back Hard On Latest Anti-Abortion “Sting” Video

komen-planned-parenthood4-1The Denver Post’s Elizabeth Hernandez reports–as you’ve probably seen in the news by now, the anti-abortion gotchameisters at the so-called “Center for Medical Progress” paid a visit to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains as well–and a video this week adds to their drumbeat releases of highly edited videos attacking the organization’s alleged tissue donation practices:

Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains is “certain” it has done nothing illegal and that the accusations made against it by an anti-abortion group that posted an undercover, edited video of a PPRM physician seemingly talking about the sale of fetal parts is false.

The video — the third released by the Center for Medical Progress in recent days — shows local Planned Parenthood Dr. Savita Ginde looking at specimens with an alleged fetal tissue buyer.

Fetal tissue cannot be sold for profit but can be donated for research with permission of a donor, and providers can be reimbursed for the cost of the procedure.

Planned Parenthood says it obeys the law. But since the release of the first furtively recorded video, Republicans in Congress have been pressing to bar federal aid to the group.

Now several weeks into a series of undercover videos released by anti-abortion activists in the hope of scandalizing what amounts to routine and life-saving medical research, two things are increasingly undeniable: that these videos rely on emotional manipulation to shock viewers out of thinking rationally, and that they are part of a longstanding campaign by anti-abortion activists and allied Republican lawmakers to discredit and ultimately defund Planned Parenthood–despite the organization’s major contribution to public health in a variety of fields. The Colorado Independent’s Nat Stein provides important context for locals:

This 501(c)3 nonprofit was founded in 2013 by David Daleiden, a famous provocateur in the anti-abortion movement. Also listed as a CMP board member on the group’s registration filing in the state of California is Troy Newman — president of Operation Rescue, which ran a decades-long harassment campaign against Dr. George Tiller in Kansas that only ended after Tiller was murdered in a church in 2009…

Here in Denver, it’s worth noting that PPRM, like most Planned Parenthood affiliates across the country, doesn’t currently have a fetal-tissue-donation program. From the highly edited video, the context of their conversation about tissue sales is unclear, but PPRM President and CEO Vicki Cowart issued a statement explaining that representatives from CMP’s fake company Biomax had approached the clinic about launching a program. [Pols emphasis]

Under pressure from hard-right Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, Colorado State University has announced they will suspend any further acquisition of fetal tissue until Congress completes an “investigation” sparked by the spread of these videos. CSU presently has a single research project that has used fetal tissue samples, working on a treatment for HIV/AIDS. CSU says they did not obtain complete fetal organs, just small tissue samples, and CSU insists they were all procured in accordance with the law.

It’s important to note that, other than the unpleasant subject matter being discussed, none of these videos show anything that appears illegal as the law pertains to voluntary fetal tissue donations. Planned Parenthood doctors covertly filmed repeatedly state that they are following the law, and that it’s “not about the money.” In the end, it is one’s pre-existing views on abortion that principally determine the reaction to these videos. And that means they are most useful for agitating people who already oppose abortion.

For the rest of us, it’s the same old anti-choice crap. It takes just a moment of critical thinking to realize that medical research is in fact a good thing, and doctors talking about their work in terms non-doctors find a bit macabre is hardly a new phenomenon. Once you realize that, these videos are no more worthy of consideration than those lurid rolling billboard trucks covered with bloody fetuses and pocket change. Not to mention the growing possibility that laws were broken filming them.

In the end, it’s (pardon the expression) red meat for the conservative base, and little more. With one possible caveat: to the extent that these videos send social conservatives into yet another public freakout over what most Americans consider a settled law, this could well backfire politically–once again defining Republicans as the “war on women” party just ahead of a major election.

Doug Lamborn Says Burn Those “Baby Body Parts”

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

How else are we to interpret what the Colorado Statesman reported yesterday?

Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn called Friday for Colorado State University to stop using fetal tissue from abortions in its research while CSU defended its work as above reproach both legally and ethically.

In a letter to CSU President Tony Frank, Lamborn cited documents released last week by the Center for Medical Progress showing that the university bought what he described as “aborted babies’ parts” on Jan. 10, 2013, from a Planned Parenthood affiliate in California…

Lamborn asked Frank to explain the purchase, including the date, “the body parts purchased, the source of the body parts purchased (including the abortion clinic which performed the abortion), the price paid by Colorado State University for the body parts.”

“I also respectfully request that, should it be true that the policy of Colorado State University permits the purchase or acquisition of aborted babies’ body parts for experimentation or for other purposes, Colorado State University immediately revoke any such policy and thereafter refrain, cease and desist from any further purchases of aborted babies’ body parts,” Lamborn said in the letter.

And here’s the kicker for those of you who have been following the (latest) Planned Parenthood hidden camera story over the past week: then-state Sen. Doug Lamborn in 2000 actually tried to pass a bill that would totally outlaw any transfer of fetal tissue, even for life-saving medical research. The original text of House Bill 00-1468 made no exceptions, not for reasonable handling expenses or anything else, mandating, apparently, that fetal tissue simply be destroyed:

No physician or institution that performs procedures for the induced termination of pregnancy shall transfer such tissue for consideration or through gift, grant, or donation to any organization or person that conducts research using fetal tissue or that transplants fetal tissue for therapeutic purposes.

Unfortunately for Lamborn (but arguably very good for the rest of us), this language was softened considerably in the final version of House Bill 00-1468 to comport with federal law–adding the key term “valuable consideration” to prohibit only true for-profit exchanges, while allowing the voluntary donation of fetal tissue for medical research to continue:

hb1468revised

Medical waste incinerator.

Medical waste incinerator.

And just so everybody is clear, in the present controversy over hidden-camera videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue donations, the nominal amount of money described is strictly for the allowable handling costs indicated above. Despite the clear attempt to imply otherwise, the subjects of both videos released to date repeatedly state that the amounts are for reasonable handling costs, and that profit is not a motive.

This means that, even though the videos in question are capable of making anybody unfamiliar with the often blunt language of medical practitioners queasy, there’s nothing illegal happening. Colorado State University’s research, and the acquisition of fetal tissue with which to carry it out, appears to be perfectly legal under both federal and state law. And again–the alternative of incinerating this fetal tissue instead of saving lives with it? This whole argument seems to play on the public’s ignorance of medical advances they otherwise take for granted on a daily basis.

Instead of helping clarify what seems to us to be a very straightforward question, GOP Attorney General Cynthia Coffman responded to Lamborn’s request for an investigation of CSU with an encouraging letter stating that she was “forwarding” his request to the appropriate jurisdiction for “enforcement,” the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Because the law in question here is not ambiguous, we fully expect that CDPHE’s investigation (if needed) will clear CSU. In fact, Cynthia Coffman could easily have said as much in her response if the facts mattered more than the politics.

But with the anti-abortion crowd relying on your emotional response overcoming reason, facts just get in the way.

Colorado Republicans Freak Out Over Iran Nuclear Deal

Negotiations_about_Iranian_Nuclear_Program_-_the_Ministers_of_Foreign_Affairs_and_Other_Officials_of_the_P5+1_and_Ministers_of_Foreign_Affairs_of_Iran_and_EU_in_LausanneAs the New York Times reports:

Iran and a group of six nations led by the United States said they had reached a historic accord on Tuesday to significantly limit Tehran’s nuclear ability for more than a decade in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions.

The deal culminates 20 months of negotiations on an agreement that President Obama had long sought as the biggest diplomatic achievement of his presidency. Whether it portends a new relationship between the United States and Iran — after decades of coups, hostage-taking, terrorism and sanctions — remains a bigger question.

Mr. Obama, in an early morning appearance at the White House that was broadcast live in Iran, began what promised to be an arduous effort to sell the deal to Congress and the American public, saying the agreement is “not built on trust — it is built on verification.”

Leading Jewish progressive advocacy group J Street praises the agreement in a statement today:

The deal is complex and multi-faceted, and it will take some time to analyze all its features. However, from what we have seen so far and what we have learned from President Barack Obama and the negotiators, this agreement appears to accurately reflect the parameters set forth in the April 2 framework.

It also appears to meet the critical criteria around which a consensus of US and international non-proliferation experts has formed for a deal that verifiably blocks each of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon.

We congratulate President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the other members of the P5+1 for having the resolve, determination, patience and persistence to bring such a difficult negotiation to a successful conclusion.

It will be important for Congress to carefully review this agreement on its merits and at the same time be mindful of the likely consequences of its rejection: a collapse of diplomacy and international sanctions as Iran pushes forward with a nuclear program unimpeded. [Pols emphasis]

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Don’t tell any of this “diplomacy” stuff to GOP Rep. Mike Coffman, who is vowing to help scuttle the deal:

“The economic sanctions should be strengthened and only relaxed when Iran stops engaging in state-sponsored terrorism,” said Coffman, a Marine Corps combat veteran. “From my experience in the region, watching Iran fund terrorist attacks against my fellow Marines, I have learned that Iran cannot be trusted. I will stand with our ally Israel in opposing this agreement when it comes before Congress.”

Meanwhile, House freshman class president Rep. Ken Buck is more or less having a nuclear meltdown of his own via Twitter:

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Rep. Doug Lamborn Supports Small Government*

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).

The Colorado Springs Gazette's Tom Roeder reports on GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn's speech yesterday to the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance:

In an annual address to area business leaders, Colorado Springs U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn pledged to block attempts to close bases and to continue his efforts to grow the Pentagon budget… [Pols emphasis]

Lamborn faces concerns at home over defense cuts that have driven downsizing, including a proposal to cut up to 16,000 of Fort Carson's 24,000 soldiers. With defense spending making up about 50 cents of every payroll dollar in the Pikes Peak region, Lamborn said boosting the Pentagon budget is a top priority.

To get more cash into military coffers, Lamborn wants to exempt the Pentagon from automatic cuts that Congress approved in 2011.

"We should continue the spending caps, but not at the expense of defense," he said.

Lamborn also pledged to squash Pentagon efforts to trim spending by closing bases.

"That's a nonstarter," he said.

One of the fascinating contradictions inherent to representing the arch-conservative but also economically government-dependent El Paso County is the need to give lip service to "small government" conservative fiscal ideology, while simultaneously working to ensure there are no cuts of any kind to the government presence most important to El Paso County–that is, defense spending. After all, cuts to even totally unnecessary and obscure defense projects are more likely to affect Lamborn's defense industry supporters than anybody else. That's how you get a speech vowing to slash taxes and repeal health care reform, but won't even consider the smallest reductions in the nation's enormous defense budget.

It's good that Colorado Springs has Rep. Lamborn, who doesn't sweat the contradictions they live by.