Iraq Comes to Colorado

Raise your hand if you knew Cyndi Lauper was still alive.

Today is a big blustering day at the State Capitol as state legislators debate a resolution on the war in Iraq. As Lynn Bartels of the Rocky Mountain News reports:

Two Colorado parents whose sons fought in Afghanistan will offer vastly different views when they testify at the state Capitol today on a war resolution. John C. Buckley III, a Colorado Springs attorney, is furious over the Democratic-backed measure, which opposes sending more troops to Iraq.

“I almost lost a son in this war, and I still think that, by and large, we have tried to do the right thing,” Buckley said. He said he believes the resolution undermines support for the troops: “This resolution sends a message to every Coloradan who wears a uniform.”

But Gaye Lowe-Kaplan, a retired teacher from Lakewood whose son is scheduled to be discharged from the Marines in July, said she thinks it’s an important issue for legislators to discuss.

“I’m not a pacifist. I think we need to defend our country. But not this way. My kid’s life was offered up for a lie,” she said, and then broke down. “That’s what I can’t get over.”

Both parents said they will testify today before the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee in what is expected to be a marathon hearing. The war resolution states that it is not in the national interest of the United States to deepen its military involvement in Iraq.


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Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that Republicans who continue to side with President Bush on escalating the war in Iraq will not be popular people among the general public. Alliteration aside:

With the Senate poised for a showdown on Iraq today, Republicans along the campaign trail and on Capitol Hill appear trapped between their loyalty to President Bush and growing fears about the war’s impact on the party’s political fortunes.

As Democrats have vigorously and sometimes angrily debated the war among themselves, Republicans have marched in near lock step behind Bush. GOP officials acknowledge that the paucity of dissent, in the face of deep public discontent, could jeopardize their chances of holding the White House and regaining majorities in the House and Senate in 2008.

The party’s quandary comes as the Senate prepares to begin debate today on a Democratic resolution that calls for withdrawing U.S. forces by March 31, 2008, something Democratic leaders describe as a goal, not a firm deadline. Whatever peril the resolution carries for Democrats, the debate will provide a public test of Republican unity.
The lack of debate inside the Republican Party reflects not just loyalty to the president but also a belief that Bush’s policies still offer a chance for success in Iraq, GOP officials said. But that has done little to calm growing fears that Republicans will be punished politically unless there is a dramatic improvement in the course of the war and Americans’ perceptions about it.

“I don’t think there is a lot of Republican anxiety that we’re doing the wrong thing and it’s hurting us,” said Vin Weber, a Republican former congressman from Minnesota. “There’s a lot of feeling that we’re doing the right thing and it’s killing us.”

Sure, okay. Whatever makes you feel better.


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Legislators appear to have finally reached an agreement about what to do with Amendment 41. Lynn Bartels and Alan Gathright of the Rocky Mountain News have more:

Children of government workers would be eligible for scholarships and injured firefighters could receive donations under ethics legislation the House approved Tuesday with one catch:
Voters in 2008 might have the final say on whether the law stays in place.

Lawmakers gave initial approval to a bill that is meant to interpret Amendment 41, approved by voters last November. Among other things, it bans gifts worth $50 or more to elected officials, government employees and their families. The fight over how to implement the law has dogged the legislature for weeks. At issue is whether Coloradans intended for scholarships, donations and such to fall under the measure.

To make the issue even more murky, the Colorado Supreme Court might end up weighing in on the bill. House Bill 1304, by Rep. Rosemary Marshall, D-Denver, defines terms in the amendment such as gifts for “special occasions.” Critics argue the bill second-guessed what voters intended.

To address that concern, the House in an unofficial vote on Tuesday embraced the election provision, which gives voters a say-so on HB 1304. The provision was floated by Majority Leader Alice Madden, D-Boulder, and Rep. Rob Witwer, R-Genesee.

“I can’t think of a more respectful way to deal with the voters than with this (2008 election) amendment,” said House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker.

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Governor Bill Ritter on Tuesday unveiled an education funding plan that would freeze property tax rates. As Berny Morson of the Rocky Mountain News explains:

Gov. Bill Ritter on Tuesday proposed a freeze on property tax rates, a move that would eliminate reductions for some homeowners in order to fund public schools.

For years, a 1994 school finance law has driven down property tax rates. The resulting decrease in local tax revenue has forced the state to make up the difference to close the gap in school district budgets. The portion of the state budget that pays for schools could be more than $100 million in the red by the 2011-12 academic year, Ritter said…

  …Freezing the tax rate will boost local revenue to schools by $84 million per year, saving that much for the state. The money will be used primarily to boost programs for the youngest children, with $65 million going to kindergarten and $12.6 million to pre-school programs, Ritter said.

“If we’re going to cut the high school dropout rate in half over the next decade, we need to take these steps today,” Ritter said of the early-years programs.

You know the real reason that schools have been underfunded in Colorado? Gay marriage.


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Colorado is receiving national media attention for making “Rocky Mountain High” a new state song. As The New York Times reports:

The Colorado General Assembly wants to be quite clear on this point: When the singer-songwriter John Denver praised the joys of Colorado and sang about “friends around the campfire, and everybody’s high,” in 1972, he was not referring to illicit drugs. Definitely not. Don’t even think it. The high in question, lawmakers say, is really about nature and the great outdoors – the tingly feeling you get after a nice hike, perhaps.

“A high is medically the releasing of endorphins in the brain – yes, drugs cause it, but so do lots of other things,” said State Senator Bob Hagedorn, a Democrat from the suburbs of Denver who successfully led the drive on Monday to make Mr. Denver’s anthem “Rocky Mountain High” Colorado’s second state song. The tune will have joint status with “Where the Columbines Grow,” which pretty much everyone agrees is about flowers.

“We could be talking about guys who’ve been fishing all day, or kids pigging out on s’mores, with the chocolate,” Senator Hagedorn said, referring to other endorphin-producing activities. “If I thought there was anything in that song about the use of drugs or encouraging the use of drugs, I would never have run the resolution.”

There’s no truth to the rumor that Republicans offered a counter proposal that would make the new state song “Gin and Juice” by Snoop Dogg.


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Cyndi Lauper is coming to Colorado as part of a tour to support gay rights, which prompted thousands of Coloradans to say, “Wait, Cyndi Lauper is still alive?”

As Nekesa Mumbi Moody of The Associated Press reports:

For some people, Cyndi Lauper’s classic “True Colors” is just another love song.

But as Lauper learned from reading fans’ letters, for others, the song’s lyrics about letting “your true colors shine through” had a much deeper meaning.

“A lot of people were saying that when it came out (in 1986) they were teenagers and they were coming out,” says Lauper, a longtime gay rights supporter. “They were disowned by their family and their friends, and their jobs got all messed up and they were totally alone, and suicidal, and then they heard ‘True Colors’ and it made them feel hopeful.”

So it’s fitting that Lauper, 53, is one of the headliners on the new “True Colors” tour, which will hit major cities nationwide to promote gay rights. Other performers for the 15-city event, which kicks off in Las Vegas on June 8 and ends in Los Angeles on June 30, are Deborah Harry, Erasure and Margaret Cho.

What, Duran Duran wasn’t available?

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Jason Bane

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