The Guardian 8/2/16
The unprecedented number of cannabis measures on the ballot in November, including in two swing states, could complicate turnout in the 2016 presidential election, bringing out more voters, but not reliably for any candidate.
At first glance, the traditional demographic of marijuana voters – white, young, male, Democratic – would presumably increase votes for Clinton. But with the Libertarian candidate (and known pot enthusiast), Gary Johnson, having the best chance since Nader to siphon votes away from a mainstream candidate, and the unpredictable loyalty of party-line voters this year, it’s not guaranteed that Clinton will be able to cash in on the momentum of marijuana.
The Guardian 7/30/16
In his first campaign stop after Hillary Clinton formally accepted the Democratic nomination, Trump went on a greatest hits tour, revisiting the headlines of 2015.
In his free-jazz speaking style, Trump criss-crossed his way through a number of topics, doubling down on the violent threat of refugees and immigrants, insisting his RNC speech “wasn’t dark” but “optimistic”, and that Bernie Sanders “sold his soul to the devil”.
Trump’s Denver speech was given while he stood before an enormous B-1 bomber plane, an aircraft known primarily for hosting nuclear weapons, which was an apt dynamic considering Clinton’s statement the night before that “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”
The Guardian 5/30/16
Last week, a former Colorado sheriff turned himself in to police custody following a grand jury indictment that charged him with extortion, tampering with a witness or victim, second-degree kidnapping and three counts of official misconduct. An undersheriff and commander were also booked on various charges.
Terry Maketa was sheriff of El Paso County for 12 years, until 2014. El Paso County is home to the conservative Christian city of Colorado Springs, known for its Republican voters and evangelicals.
The Guardian 5/20/16
A ballot measure in Colorado that would, if passed, make the state the first in the country to have universal, government-run healthcare is facing resistance from a surprising group: state Democrats.
ColoradoCare, as it’s being called, has given ammunition to Republicans looking to attack Obamacare-supporting politicians during the campaign season. That has prompted establishment Democrats to come out against the plan, revealing a split between populist voters who support Bernie Sanders and pro-Clinton politicians, such as Governor John Hickenlooper and US senator Michael Bennet.
The Guardian 4/16/16
An anti-GOP rally in Denver on Friday that Donald Trump predicted would be a “big protest” was weak on attendance, with only a couple hundred supporters on hand, though not short on enthusiasm.
Trump has repeatedly claimed he was cheated of delegates since Ted Cruz dominated at the state convention last weekend, winning all 34 of Colorado’s bound national delegates. Tweets from the presidential frontrunner sought to whip supporters into a collective demand for change.
Between Bill Clinton denouncing the overreach of his own crime policies during the 1990s, and Barack Obama making some refreshingly unequivocal statements about mass incarceration during his historic visit to a federal penitentiary, last week was something of a pivotal moment for criminal justice reform. Yet as we reach the tipping point in the national conversation about the failure of the war on drugs, it’s increasingly frustrating to hear experts rehashing the damages of failed policies—over and again—rather than proposing any solid alternatives.
This glaring problem was on display at Thursday night’s symposium in Denver called “Legalization, the Next Phase in the War on Drugs?”
The Hypocrisy of Jeb Bush’s Admission That He Used to Smoke Pot
In the lead-up to the inevitable announcement that he is running for president, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has followed in the footsteps of our last three presidents and admitted that he used to smoke pot as a kid. In a Boston Globe profile of Bush’s teenage years at the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., the second son of the Bush dynasty was painted as a nihilistic bully, a long-haired jock who cared nothing for politics, the Vietnam war, or getting good grades. According to recollections from his classmates, Jeb Bush just wanted to hit the hash pipe and rock out to Steppenwolf.
Emboldened by the rollout of marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington state, an unprecedented number of US cities and states will put it to the voters tomorrow to decide whether they should follow suit and reform their own marijuana laws.
Most notably, both Alaska and Oregon have measures on the ballot to fully legalize recreational sale and possession of cannabis, while Florida is potentially set to be the first Southern state to legalize medical marijuana (MMJ). Even farther south, the US territory of Guam is aiming to pass a similar MMJ law, and municipalities in New Mexico, Maine and Michigan are all voting to make various reforms to their pot laws.
In July 2010, a homeless street preacher named Marvin Booker was being processed in a Denver County jail when a guard directed him toward a cell. Booker walked in the opposite direction, indicating he needed to grab his shoes. An officer grabbed his arm and Booker resisted, pushing her away. Three more officers jumped on top of him, tasing Booker in the thigh before placing him in a sleeper hold. When the officers stood up, they found Booker limp on the ground, unconscious. He was dead.
Earlier this month, a federal grand jury awarded Booker’s family $4.65 million, the largest police settlement in Denver history. “The fight leading up to that verdict was exhausting,” says Darold Killmer, the Booker family attorney. “The city spent millions defending themselves against charges of excessive force.”
Thousands of the nation’s poorest children under the age of four are being prescribed stimulants like Ritalin and Adderall for ailments they’re too young to even have. A first-ever CDC study estimates that under the Medicaid healthcare program, doctors have given some 10,000 American toddlers a diagnosis of ADHD and treated them with ADHD drugs that have not been shown to be effective or safe in children that young. The news that amphetamine-based drugs like Adderall and the methylphenidate Ritalin are being used to medicate, at a minimum, one out of every 225 toddlers nationwide outraged some medical professionals when it was first announced in May at the Georgia Mental Health Forum.
“It’s absolutely shocking, and it shouldn’t be happening,” Anita Zervigon-Hakes, a children’s consultant to the Carter Center, which sponsored the forum, told the New York Times. “[Doctors] are just feeling around in the dark. We obviously don’t have our act together for little children.”
On the afternoon of September 10, 1969, Chester McQueary laid his belly onto the dirt of rural Rulison, Colorado. A few seconds later, a nuclear bomb two and a half times the size of the one that dropped on Hiroshima exploded less than two miles below him.
As a 33-year-old anti-nuke hippie, McQueary was protesting the blast, an experimental operation attempting to retrieve natural gas from deep below the earth. A five-mile quarantine zone had been set up around the site with the understanding that the blast would not go off if humans remained within the boundary. But the project had experienced repeated delays already, and despite McQueary and his crew setting off smoke flares to announce their presence, the 40-kiloton nuclear device was, in fact, detonated.
When a hardcore Democrat encounters someone who is young, gay, poor, an artist, or a racial minority and who also identifies as a Republican, a confused look of disgust often crosses his or her face, as if an unpleasant and unidentifiable odor just entered the room. The confusion is understandable, since there is statistical evidence that the Democratic Party comfortably holds many of these groups beneath their blue thumb. But Colorado Republican Party chairman Ryan Call believes Democrats often bully people into reinforcing this stereotype. He says his party is not out of touch with creative, young, minority folk and aims to prove it with his #IVoteRepublican campaign.
“We’re approaching issues differently than how our party has in the past,” Call told me recently. “We recognized that there is a disconnect with the way people view the Republican Party and the way the policies we seek to advance impact individual people’s lives… Ours is the party that first supported women’s right to vote, and we have a history in the fight against slavery and the fight for civil rights. Our aim is to create opportunities for the poor and expand the middle class. It’s a profound misperception that ours is the party of the wealthy or the elite.
High school students in suburban Denver are staging protests in response to two major changes proposed by their school board. The first, which has already been adopted, is a pay-grade system that ties teacher salaries to performance reviews. The second is still being considered, but it’s far more controversial: It would modify the AP US History curriculum to, in essence, teach a more right-wing-friendly vision of America’s past.
“Materials should promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials, and benefits of the free enterprise system, respect for authority, and respect for individual rights,” reads the history proposal, presented by newly elected conservative board member Julie Williams. “Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife, or disregard of the law. Instructional materials should present positive aspects of the United States and its heritage.”
During a recent hour-long interview on the subject of marijuana with Katie Couric at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper laid out the details of his upcoming PSA, an anti-pot campaign titled “Don’t Be A Lab Rat.”
“Kids are our highest concern,” he said, exuding his characteristic wide-eyed, Peter Pan innocence. “[Marijuana] has been illegal for so long as a class one narcotic, so scientists couldn’t get access to run tests on it… So we’re spending millions of dollars on a campaign getting to parents, making sure they understand this is a whole different kettle of fish, but also to get to the kids. We’re working on this campaign called ‘Don’t Be A Lab Rat.’ We’re looking to build these large, metal cages with a kind of hamster water-bottle inside, and then put them at bus stops or anywhere close to where kids intersect, telling them ‘don’t be a lab rat.'”
When you live in Colorado, apocalyptic reports about the environment are almost as ubiquitous as economic forecasts about the emerging marijuana industry. Fracking and floods are our bread and butter. The University of Colorado at Boulder produces at least as many articles on the subject of climate change as any other university in the world, and once you contact them as a journalist, press releases about melting glaciers and record-breaking droughts begin to arrive like a doomsday prophet in your inbox each morning.
Surrounded by academics, artists, and anarchists in downtown Denver, it would be easy for me to forget that climate change deniers exist were it not for my conservative family back home in Iowa, who maintain that there’s no definitive evidence of global warming—and that the whole thing is most likely a power grab by greedy liberals. Unlike their positions on gay marriage, war, or poverty, hearing this doesn’t push my partisan buttons. Instead, it soothes me like heroin jazz. Whenever Charles Krauthammer or Sean Hannity laugh about paranoid liberals and their climate-change nonsense on Fox News, I feel no reactionary rage, because deep down I want to believe them. The idea that this is all just a bad dream gives me a maternal euphoria, like the little Irish children being tucked into bed as the Titanic was already half sunk.
Few would disagree that we’re in living in a golden age of political comedy — or at least that politics are more important to comedy today than ever before. When historians write about humor in the early twenty-first century, the names of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Bill Maher will definitely be key players. And just as noteworthy will be the fact that a large majority of this humor has come at the expense of conservatives, and often to the benefit of liberals.
No matter if you’re on the left or right, pretty much everyone agrees that liberals dominate political satire and humorous commentary (at least in popularity), but few have answers about why this is. It’s certainly not that conservatives haven’t tried. From Fox News’ short-lived The Half-Hour News Hour, to “liberal media watchdog” series News Busted, or the recently launched The Flipside, attempts to roll out a conservative version of The Daily Show or Weekend Update have never been in short supply, but without fail every single one has been an unpopular disaster.
The Daily Show Fumbles Criticism of Denver Voters, Accusing Them Of Missing An Election They Couldn’t Even Vote In
Last night a Daily Show report by comedian Jason Jones reported on high levels of apathy among Colorado voters. Looking at statistics as well as conducting interviews on Denver’s 16th Street Mall, Jones found that an overwhelming majority of people (80 percent) did not vote in last September’s recall election, which snatched away the jobs of state senators John Morse of Colorado Springs and Angela Giron of Pueblo.
But there’s a good reason for that low turnout: The recall elections were only held in the districts where those two politicians are from.
The program didn’t make any note of that, however, making it seem as if Denver voters, who didn’t have the ability to cast votes in the recall elections, were to blame. So, was theDaily Show just having some fun at Colorado’s expense, or did the crew screw up? We have calls into both Comedy Central and Morse, who was interviewed by the show, to ask, and we’ll update this post if we hear back.
Yes, it’s true. Over the weekend, one of the interchangeable blond anchors on Fox and Friends reported that, despite the WWII memorial being closed during the government shutdown, “some things are continuing to be funded . . . President Obama has offered to pay out of his own pocket for the Museum of Muslim Culture.” This little nugget of misinformation was delivered as a pre-commercial teaser promoting an upcoming interview with RNC chairman Reince Priebus. Most likely during the break, a standby blone lady working from a crimson bunker at the Fox castle did some fact-checking and discovered the source for this tip: Satirical news blog National Report.
While many of you lefties in the blogosphere see this as another straw on the broken camel’s back of Fox News credibility, for me it only reinforces my sincere, unironic love for the cable-news behemoth.
“I fired a manager after he said to me, ‘Do something crazy and it’ll get on YouTube and your career will take off!'” comedian Christopher Titus told me in an interview this summer. “I looked at him and was like, ‘Really, that’s your plan? Really?'”
While Titus may be cynical about creating a phony exhibition as a method of infiltrating the public consciousness, media-savvy Republican Senator Ted Cruz found success using the same tactic last week when he staged what could be mistaken for a post-modern performance-art piece on the the Senate floor, but has become known as his “faux filibusterer.”
Joshua does not feel guilty about the thousands of dollars he’s stolen. “Taking money from the government — is that stealing? Is that wrong? I don’t think so,” he says. “I don’t think we should have to work hard, making other people money, just to have food and a roof over our head. Some people work for themselves, and that’s different. But the kinds of jobs that a college degree gets you — I don’t see the value in that.”
Despite having a master’s in mathematics from the University of Colorado at Boulder — a degree that can net the recipient a job that pays $90,000 a year — Joshua lives on only a few hundred dollars a month and gets most of his meals out of a dumpster. He lives in a community warehouse space he founded with a few friends in Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe, a place where they live and host music shows and art openings. (Joshua requested that neither the address of the space nor his last name be published.)
On Saturday night, Conan O’Brien took on hosting duties for the second time since 1995 at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and apparently his years on network television have not affected his ability to skewer politicians and pundits with some unrelenting jabs at the most sensitive news of the day. Taking on guns and gays, Mitt and Maddow, Biden and Boehner, this jolly ginger slaughtered every recognizable name and issue in politics today with his spot-on ribbing.
Unlike the trite and predictable Comedy Central roasts, the Correspondents’ Dinner continues to offer relevant, bare-knuckle comedy. Those who’ve made it in Washington usually live in a showbiz shell of pandering and neutrality; unlikely the raunchy celebrities toasted by CC roasts, these guys have something to lose when faced with dark and hilarious truths — which makes for an electric tension during the Correspondents’ Dinner that is unmatched anywhere in live comedy.
It’s news to no one that Mitt Romney is having difficulty finding common ground with the voters in his home state of Michigan. His image as a fortunate son of wealth and privilege often clashes with the down-home, middle- to low-class voters of the Great Lakes state. These coupon-clipping, Walmart shopping attendees of “normal” Christian churches have been struggling with the idea that a toothy millionaire who greases his hair with a pomade that probably costs more than their Christmas dinner could possibly relate to their struggles. Here is a list of five working-class songs Mitt Romney can use to rouse credibility in his blue-collar state.