Former Republican talk-radio host poised to jump into U.S. Senate race

September 3rd, 2015

On Facebook this morning, former talk-radio host and former Colorado Springs congressional candidate Robert Blaha writes that he will challenge Sen. Michael Bennet, if Bennet endorses President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran.

“If Colorado Senator Michael Bennet votes to support this deal, he must be defeated in 2016 and I will announce my candidacy for U.S. Senate. If he votes against the deal, I will stand down – Period,” Blaha wrote on Facebook, without mentioning state Sen. Tim Neville and DA George Brauchler, who are also testing the Senate waters.

Blaha’s radio show on KZNT was called Black, White, and Right, and his co-host was Derrick Wilburn, who’s now vice chair of the Colorado Republican Party. The pair didn’t disappoint those who wanted to hear from the “right.” This Muslim bashing in this segment, for example, caught my ear back in 2012.

Wilburn would often stake out ground even further to the right than Blaha. Wilburn for example, once gave “almost human” honors to mainstream Repubicans, while Baha didn’t quite go that far.

No word yet on whether Tancredo, also a former talk-radio host, will join Blaha in running for U.S. Senate. Maybe Blaha will encourage him. I loved it when Tancredo told Bob Beauprez to jump in the gubernatorial race last year: “Listen buddy, get in! The water’s fine. It will be fun.” Little did Tanc know how hot Beauprez would make water for Tancredo, due to attack ads from national Republican groups. These ads were credited with knocking Tanc out of the race, opening the door to Beauprez to lose to Gov. John Hickenlooper in November.

Blaha isn’t the only local talk-radio host who’s jumped to partisan politics. Jimmy Lakey, who hosts a morning shoe on KCOL 600-AM in Ft. Collins, ran for Congress in Colorado Springs. Tancredo hosted a show on KVOR in Colorado Springs. KVOR’s Jeff Crank was almost elected to Congress. KLZ’s Ken Clark is the Second Vice Chair of the Denver Republican Party.

 

 

Media omission: Brauchler sees himself more like Ken Buck than Cory Gardner

September 1st, 2015

Who’s most like you, Sen. Cory Gardner or Rep. Ken Buck?

Many see Buck and Gardner as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, one wearing a smile the other seething with anger. But if you’re a Tea-Party activist in Colorado, the answer is “Ken Buck.”

So it’s not surprising that Tea-Party radio host Chuck Bonniwell would put this question to failed theater-shooter prosecutor George Brauchler, who’s considering a U.S. Senate run: Are you more like Ken Buck or Cory Gardner?

Brauchler’s answer, according to Bonniwell, was, “Oh God, Ken Buck!” Here’s Bonniwell’s story, told with co-host Julie Hayden, who’s also a Fox 31 Denver reporter:

Julie Hayden (@4:40 below): We were at a function and Chuck, in Chuck’s way [laughs]. Standing-around-drinking-wine-just-put-it-to-you way, said to George, “Okay. Who do you like better – Ken Buck or Cory Gardner?”

Bonniwell: No, that’s not what I said!  I said, “If we put a gun to your head, and said, ‘Who are you closer to on the continuum of  Ken Buck to Gardner. Shich one?  You have to choose one.  You can’t sit. And to his credit, I mean I expected a kind of weasely answer, he said, “Oh, God! Ken Buck!”

Hayden: And Chuck went, “Yea!”…He didn’t hesitate at all, nor did he mince any words. He didn’t put conditions on, like “Ken Buck on Tuesday. Cory Gardner on Thursday. No, he said, “Ken Buck.”

Bonniwell: Ken Buck.

It would be interesting to know what issues draw Brauchler to Buck. Good fodder for a future radio show.

Listen to Bonniwell and Hayden discuss George Brauchler on KNUS 710-AM Saturday:

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/knus-hosts-praise-brauchler-for-preferring-buck-to-gardner

Media omission: Pueblo County GOP race attracts two well-known candidates

August 31st, 2015

A couple candidates have announced their intention to run for the Pueblo County GOP chair, recently vacated by Becky Mizel, who resigned.

First, there’s Dr. Thomas Ready, who wrote, according to a Facebook post by Brian Matar:

“I am running to be the Pueblo County Republican Party Chairman. My goal is to bring the party back together and to include all that want to be there. I’m asking for your support at the next election. Thank you in advance. Tom”

Ready made headlines last year when he asserted, during a debate, that there’s no proof the Sandy Hook school shooting happened at all. At the time, The Pueblo Chieftain quoted him as saying:

“I don’t think (the Sandy Hook shootings have) been proven. And what’s wrong with open discussion?”

Ready didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment and verification.

But you wouldn’t think Pueblo Republicans would let an election go by without a fight.

Yesterday, former State Sen. George Rivera announced he’s also running. Rivera, you recall, took the seat from Sen. Angela Giron in a recall election in 2013. Leroy Garcia defeated Rivera last November.

Trump comment should put media spotlight on Coffman’s position on raising debt limit

August 28th, 2015

The Donald, whose trick to political success is never playing defense, continued his offensive stance (pun intended) this week telling Bloomberg TV that congressional Republicans should fight to stop an increase in the debt limit.

And in doing so, The Donald sounded almost exactly like … Rep. Mike Coffman.

You may recall that the last time Republicans fought an increase in the debt limit, the economy teetered and America’s credit rating was actually factually downgraded by Standard and Poor’s for the first time, mostly because of the political sparring, not the state of our economy.

But no mention of these little problems by Trump and Coffman:

First, The Donald this week:

Presidential candidate Donald Trump on Wednesday said he thought it was “worth the fight” for congressional Republicans to threaten not to raise the U.S. debt limit as a way to pressure the Obama administration to agree to spending cuts.

“I would say that it’s worth the fight,” Trump said on Bloomberg TV. “Honestly there is so much fat in Washington that if you had the right people in there you could cut it.”

Next Coffman in 2013, as reported by Fox 31’s Denver’s Eli Stokols at the time:

But Republicans, having agreed to put off decisions about spending cuts, now view the looming debt ceiling as leverage — and they’re promising to use it….

Coffman: “I don’t think going over the fiscal cliff would have been a huge deal. Temporarily, the markets would have been aggravated until the next Congress could have passed new tax cuts and ironed things out.

“But the real big deal is what’s upon us and going past the debt limit. I have to see a way out of this, real spending cuts, before I vote to raise the debt limit.”

Sounds a lot like Trump, doesn’t he? So did Sen. Cory Gardner.

As I reported before, the two sound a lot alike on immigration (here and here) as well.

I know reporters don’t have time to hook every national political development to our humble locale. But they should give it their best shot, because the stakes are so high.

Republicans and Democrats increased the debt limit over 100 times (Bush and Reagan did it) until 2011, when disaster struck.

Trump gives us a chance to air the issue out again, in advance of the crisis and in front of the public.

.

Gazette should have offered op-ed in support of Planned Parenthood

August 27th, 2015

In an op-ed in the Colorado Independent yesterday, Colorado State Sen. Michael Merrifield writes:

On Sunday, Aug. 9, the Colorado Springs Gazette published an editorial that contained many of the same falsehoods about Planned Parenthood that are being spread by the extremists who made the hoax video.

I submitted a column to correct the record about the work Planned Parenthood does for Coloradans and nationally. The Gazette refused to run it — a disservice to its readers and the community I represent. I’m glad the Colorado Springs Independent has higher standards for public discussion.

It’s true that the Gazette’s editorial was full of misinformation at best, lies at worst. The Gazette didn’t even come close to informing us that no evidence exists showing that Planned Parenthood has broken any laws.

Instead, the newspaper quotes directly from undercover videos that are so altered that they have no use as evidence against Planned Parenthood.

The newspaper musters up the audacity to state Planned Parenthood has an “apparent practice of selling the organs of aborted babies.” Even if you accept what you see in the full videos, there’s no evidence that Planned Parenthood does anything other than offer fetal-tissue for research purposes for the cost of processing. That’s legal.

Next, the Gazette claims there’s an “overwhelming and growing body of evidence” that abortion providers “solicit the sale of human organs.” There is no such body of evidence much less a growing one. There’s no evidence that the tissue is provided by donors on anything but a voluntary basis.

The Gazette seems to have let its heartfelt opposition to abortion get in the way of sweet reason–which is why it should have published Merrifield’s op-ed. It explained, in plain language, the benefits of research on fetal tissue:

Merrifield: If you’ve ever gotten a polio or measles vaccine], you benefited from the type of research condemned by these dishonest, deceptive, heavily edited videos. Fetal tissue research has been common medical practice since the 1930s, was instrumental in the development of the polio vaccine and has been federally funded since 1993. At that time, both of Colorado’s U.S. senators, Hank Brown and Ben Nighthorse Campbell, voted for it. Today it’s used to help find cures for Parkinson’s, HIV/AIDS, macular degeneration and other chronic illnesses.

Merrifield concludes by reciting statistics on the women’s health services provided by Planned Parenthood, only a tiny fraction of which have anything to do with abortion, as well as the fact that 1 in 5 American women will utilize Planned Parenthood during her lifetime.

It’s a shame the Gazette didn’t publish the piece, especially because the anti-Planned Parenthood view dominates the commentary page’s official content. And, god knows, the folks in Colorado Springs should hear the other side’s opinions too.

Media omission: GOP activists raise questions about state party finances

August 26th, 2015

Republican activists blasted GOP State Chair Steve House today for failing to provide basic information about the party’s finances.

In a letter to House, Nick Lundberg, Dick Childress, Ken Clark, and Randy Corporon raised questions about numerous instances when Steve House referred to financial problems plaguing the state party, including one instance when he called the financial situation so “dire” that it should be concealed from party donors.

The letter stated, in part:

We are concerned about the fairness and accuracy of financial disclosures in state and federal campaign finance reports and the “quarterly financial statements” based on statements you have made about the party’s financial reporting…

The reputation of the Colorado Republican Party is at stake, and confidence of members, donors, and candidates will continue to erode unless the party is complying with financial disclosure requirements.

House dismissed these concerns on KNUS 710-AM today:

“I don’t think the party is on the same page, but you have to go through a process,” House told host Steve Kelley (at 38:30 hour one Aug. 26). “…Yeah, it was a little bit painful for a couple of months, but at the same time I thought it was very very enabling,”

Asked how fundraising was going by host Krista Kafer, House said (at 43 min 45 seconds here), “It’s been going great!” He added that every state party in the country “that’s not 100 percent red” has some debt right now.

“We are very comfortable with where we are,” House said. “The first thee months were records. The next two months, we beat our budget by 25 or 30 percent.

“I’m very happy with where it’s going and where the donors are in supporting us.”

Brauchler misrepresents jury decision to loving talk-radio hosts

August 24th, 2015

Journalists have been careful to report, as The Denver Post’s John Ingold and Jordan Steffen did today, that nine jurors apparently voted for the death penalty in the Aurora shooter’s trial, two were undecided, and one voted for life in prison. So the prosecutors were three votes short of the unanimous decision needed to put the murderer to death.

George Brauchler appears to present different versions of the decision, depending on the audience. If he’s talking to talk-radio hosts, who apparently aren’t concerned about the basic facts, Brauchler whines that he was only one juror away from winning the case.

“We were one vote away from getting what I thought was the just sentence on this,” Brauchler told KHOW’s Mandy Connell shortly after the trial ended. (Listen here at the one-minute mark.)

Talking to KNUS 710-AM’s Craig Silverman, Brauchler delivered similar misinformation at 36 minutes, uncorrected by Silverman.

Brauchler: It was one juror. You and I both know [former State Rep. Jovan Melton]. You know him better than I do. But it is such an outrageous blanket statement on an entire law based on the decision of one juror, who by the way found this guy sane, found the he committed this crime with aggravators, found that the aggravators outweighed any mental health issues or any other mitigators, and then hung up on that very last phase. And from that one decision, not only do you have Jovan calling the application of the death penalty racist, but you got The Denver Post backing him up and going crazy with their comments as well. And it’s an indictment of a system you can’t prove is racist….

Later in the same interview, at 53:55, Brauchler puffed:

Brauchler: But for this one juror, I think folks would have said roundly, ‘Men, you did this case perfectly.”

Yet, in talking about the decision to The Denver Post, where reporters are actually factually concerned about reality, Brauchler tells a different story.

The Post reported: “To Brauchler, [the 9-2-1 decision) is evidence that he was right to go to trial and seek the death penalty. After all, he said, he convinced at least nine jurors of his position.”

It’s a good example of why reporters are important. Brauchler apparently knew he wouldn’t get away with spinning them like he can loving talk-radio hosts.

Forget the corpse flower. Smell the putrid fungus.

August 22nd, 2015

The corpse plant over at the Botanic Gardens is getting viral love because it’s supposed to be so stinky. But it turns out to smell quite mild, as articulated in tweet from Denver Post reporter Kirk Mitchell: “Early visitors to Denver #CorpseFlower disappointed by lack of stench.”

If you want stench, you should check your yard for the stinkhorn mushroom, Plallus impudicus. While he corpse flower allegedly smells like rotten meat, this mushroom smells like something in between skunk, semen and moldy cheese. It’s the star of stink.

It’s guaranteed to small awful, and it’s common in Denver lawns, so you won’t have to wait in line like all those wanna-be sniffers at the Botanic Gardens.

As we write on our UrbanMushrooms.com website of the stinkhorn:

With their long white shafts and slimy greenish head, these penis-shaped mushrooms emerge from what looks like a smooth pinkish golf-ball.

It’s one of the few mushrooms that you often smell before you see. Noted mycologist Charles McIlvaine called the odor “aggravatingly offensive, attracting blow flies in quantities.”

Seriously, if you can find this in your yard, or a nearby park, why bother with the crowds at the Botanic Gardens. And this, you can actually eat! That is, if you’re the kind of person who likes to eat grasshoppers.

If you can’t find it, head over to the Denver Botanic Gardens Sept. 6 for the Colorado Mycological Society’s Mushroom Fair. It runs 11 am to 5 pm.

As you walk into Mitchell Hall, where the fair takes place at the Gardens, you’ll find a nice display of “City Mushrooms,” including, of course, the stinkhorn! Smell it until your craving for the foulest of odors subsides.

Also, bring along any mushrooms you find in your yard or the mountains. Expert mycologists will be on hand to identify them. And check out the huge display of wild mushrooms, as well as other mushroom exhibits for kids and adults.

Sure, the corpse flower has turned into a celebrity, but the poor Phallus mushroom is more deserving of attention as a reliable stinker.  Trust me on this.

Fact Check: Despite Gardner’s claim on the radio, people in Colorado would suffer if Planned Parenthood were defunded

August 19th, 2015

After he voted to defund Planned Parenthood, Sen. Cory Gardner hopped on the radio said, not to worry, no one in Colorado will suffer if the health organization loses federal funding.

“We voted to take the money from Planned Parenthood and distribute it to the community health clinics around the state of Colorado,” Gardner told KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis Aug. 13, vowing that the investigation of Planned Parenthood in Congress will continue. “There are nine times more community health clinics than there are Planned Parenthood clinics, and so they provide more access to women and men across the state.” (Listen to Caplis belowAug. 13 and also on Kelley and Company here on Aug. 10.)

It’s true that there are many more community health centers than Planned Parenthood clinics in our state. But this doesn’t mean that throwing more money at the community health clinics would provide equal or greater access to healthcare than what’s available now.

First of all, studies have shown that the community health center (CHC) network and federally qualified health center (FQHCs) network don’t offer all types of birth control and reproductive health care. That’s why many large community health centers actually factually refer patients to Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood specializes in reproductive health care–while community health centers offer a wider range of services.

So it’s not surprising that even though Planned Parenthood operates just 10 percent of all publicly funded family clinics, 36 percent of patients seeking family-planning services turn to Planned Parenthood.

Poor people on Medicaid go disproportionately to Planned Parenthood for these services, and it’s unlikely that the safety net and the health care system, as currently configured, could absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients. This means that defunding Planned Parenthood would weaken our country’s already weak safety net.

Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado blogged this in response to Gardner’s radio remarks (and discussed the issue with The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch here):

In Colorado, Planned Parenthood serves over 80,000 people each year. Including helping 57,000 women get their birth control, 11,000 women get breast wellness exams, and 56,000 Coloradans get STD tests. These are services people need — usually immediately. And these services are being provided by PP most often to low-income and rural Coloradans. Three-quarters of Planned Parenthood’s patients are low-income, making less than $37,000 a year for a family of four. In Colorado, Planned Parenthood has 20 health centers, many of in rural communities, like Granby, Salida, La Junta and Alamosa. Women in all communities need reproductive health care, and Planned Parenthood provides it.

Furthermore, it is harder and harder for low-income people in this country to find a provider, even though they may now have coverage because of the Affordable Care Act. According to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office only 41 percent of OB/GYN’s in Medicaid managed care networks are even taking new clients. Without Planned Parenthood thousands of Colorado women, and millions around the country, would have no place to go when they need care.

Finally, you cannot write about the impacts of extracting Planned Parenthood from our communities without saying this: the debate about defunding Planned Parenthood is also about choice. Planned Parenthood is barred by law from using federal money for abortion, just as community health clinics are. But Planned Parenthood offers this option through other funding sources, while the community health clinics do not.

So, when an anti-choice politician like Gardner tells an anti-choice radio host like Caplis that our life in Colorado will be better off without federal funds for Planned Parenthood, you don’t have to dig too deep to find out there’s another side to the story.

Listen below to Sen. Cory Gardner on KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis Show Aug. 13, 2015.

https://soundcloud.com/bigmedia-org/gardner-explains-why-he-wants-to-de-fund-planned-parenthood

Reporters need to dog Stapleton for answers

August 18th, 2015

Update: Colorado Independent reporter Nat Stein’s answer to my question of whether Stapleton’s office gave her a reason for declining comment: “His comms guy pretty much hung up on me, and three emails went unanswered,” tweeted Stein. “I just wanna talk!!”

——–

When a public official starts to develop a reputation for stonewalling the media, the trend should be highlighted, especially now that fewer reporters are out there to ask public officials anything at all. Every reasonable question should be cherished. And every denial called out.

No long ago, State Treasurer Walker Stapleton declined to take questions from the evil Denver Post about why he withdrew his support from a bill aimed at making money for PERA, the state’s public retirement program. Then Stapleton shamelessly called the resulting article “completely misleading,” even though he’d refused to talk to the reporter about it.

Now Stapleton declined to comment on a softball request by the Colorado Independent’s Nat Stein about a #BlackLivesMatter campaign to change the name of the Stapleton neighborhood, because former Denver mayor Benjamin Stapleton was a member of the KKK.

Stein reports:

The Stapleton legacy — or its name, at least — still lives on in state government. Republican Walker Stapleton is currently serving his second term as state treasurer. His press office declined to comment on this article.

And as for the obvious question — well, what should Stapleton be named instead? — Pullen said Black Lives Matter 5280 hopes Stapleton could be renamed after a woman of color who made significant, historical contributions to Denver.

Nat Stein did not respond immediately to a request via Twitter to explain why Stapleton’s office refused to address questions about his family’s KKK history. I mean, how hard can this be for Stapleton to answer?