Put Down Your Pen and Empty the Ink

Maybe Scooter Libby can share a jail cell with Paris Hilton.

Put the pen down, and back slowly away with your hands up.
Governor Bill Ritter formally ended the 2007 legislative session yesterday by sheathing his bill signing (or bill vetoing) pen for the year. As The Associated Press reports:

Gov. Bill Ritter signed the last bills awaiting his decision Monday, wrapping up a 2007 legislative session that some analysts are calling one of the smoothest in years.

Ritter went to Colorado Springs to sign bills providing more help to the families of military servicemen and women and to address rural health care needs.

Before the session ended May 4, Ritter was able to get his renewable energy package passed, carrying out a campaign pledge. He also won approval for bills on health care, public education and transportation, measures he said were needed to encourage the state’s fledgling renewable-energy economy.


Amendment 41 continues to be more confusing than a book of Chinese poetry. As Vimal Patel of The Denver Post reports:

Colorado’s existing ethics code remains in place in light of a judge’s decision that Amendment 41 violated free-speech rights, Gov. Bill Ritter and Attorney General John Suthers reminded the state’s employees in a letter Monday.

“The touchstone of Amendment 41 was that public officials and government employees must not violate the public trust for private gain,” their letter stated. “We encourage each of you to honor the will of the voters by abiding by the spirit of Amendment 41 in performing your jobs.”

A district judge Thursday issued a temporary injunction halting enforcement of the gift-ban provisions of Amendment 41, which critics said was broad and a violation of the First Amendment.

The state plans to appeal the decision.

The letter sent to about 60,000 state employees said Colorado law prohibits accepting gifts that would “improperly influence a public official or government employee to depart from an impartial discharge of his or her duties.”

Amendment 41 was intended to restrict the amount of influence lobbyists have over public officials, but Denver District Judge Christina Habas wrote in her ruling that the measure went beyond its intention.


Scooter Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, will now need is own advice on things such as how not to pick up the soap in the shower. As The Associated Press reports:

Former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison Tuesday for lying and obstructing the CIA leak investigation.

Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, stood calmly before a packed courtroom as a federal judge said the evidence overwhelmingly proved his guilt.

“People who occupy these types of positions, where they have the welfare and security of nation in their hands, have a special obligation to not do anything that might create a problem,” U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton said.

Libby was convicted in March of lying and obstructing an investigation into the 2003 leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity.

The highest-ranking White House official convicted in a government scandal since the Iran-Contra affair, Libby has steadfastly maintained his innocence…

… Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald called on Libby to serve up to three years in prison.

“We need to make the statement that the truth matters ever so much,” Fitzgerald said.


Mike Saccone of The Grand Junction Sentinel says that Western Slope lawmakers did well during the 2007 legislative session:

Western Slope lawmakers largely succeeded this year in pushing their bills, memorials and resolutions through the Legislature, according to records from the General Assembly and governor’s office.
All 11 of the Western Slope’s legislators, from Rep. Dan Gibbs, D-Silverthorne, to Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, to Rep. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, had at least 57 percent of their measures signed into law.

Five lawmakers – Roberts; Reps. Bernie Buescher, D-Grand Junction; Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison; Sens. Jim Isgar, D-Hesperus; and Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village – had at least 90 percent of their bills signed or passed into law.

Gov. Bill Ritter had until Monday to sign, veto or allow bills to go into effect.

“As a group we’ve done a very good job representing of the Western Slope,” Buescher said. “Everybody works hard.”

Buescher attributed his success in passing 96 percent of his 51 bills and the region’s lawmakers’ success in passing 86 percent of their 211 individual bills to proper

“You don’t introduce a bill unless you have the support to get it passed,” Buescher said. “The real work is before you introduce a bill: You develop the bill, you develop consensus.”

Rep. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, agreed, noting that building relationships and consensus at the Capitol was essential to getting his “problem-oriented” bills through the process.

I don’t know what “problem-oriented” means, but it sure sounds good.


America needs saving, and in a time of extreme crisis, you don’t need Spider Man or Superman. You need…Immigration Man!
As The Associated Press reports:

Presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo said today he will work against fellow Republicans who support an immigration bill he considers a sellout.
Tancredo aides said the campaign would start a petition drive and volunteer network to help voters campaign against senators who support the White House-backed immigration plan. The bill, which provides a pathway to citizenship to the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already in the United States, has split Republicans in Congress.

The Colorado congressman announced his “Save America Campaign” hours before he and nine other candidates were to meet for the first Republican debate in the state with the earliest presidential primary.

“I am going to use my presidential campaign as a vehicle to rally the millions of law-abiding Americans who oppose the Kennedy-McCain-Bush sellout of America,” Tancredo said in remarks prepared for a news conference outside Republican Sen. Judd Gregg’s Manchester office.

Tom Tancredo for President! He’s against illegal immigration, and he doesn’t believe in evolution. What else do you want in a leader?


Rocky Mountain News columnist Paul Campos takes a swipe at former gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez today, which really isn’t that hard to do:

A well-known urban legend has it that after Richard Nixon defeated George McGovern in a landslide in the 1972 presidential election, New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael claimed to be shocked by the result, since she didn’t know anyone who had voted for Nixon. (There’s no record of Kael actually having made such a remark, and the same quip is sometimes attributed to Katharine Graham or Susan Sontag, among others).

Although the quote itself is probably an invention, the attitude it illustrates is common enough. Indeed, it’s just this attitude that’s helping Republicans continue to sail toward a McGovern-style disaster in next year’s election…

… A perfect illustration of what life is like inside this bubble is provided by Bob Beauprez, who as the Republican candidate for governor of Colorado was crushed in a McGovernesque landslide last November.
Beauprez took exception to my column last week, in which I pointed out that the only reason we’re still in Iraq is because the American elites have almost no personal investment in the war. His response, which the Rocky Mountain News published on Saturday, helps explain why his political ambitions were terminated with extreme prejudice last fall.

To Beauprez, I’m a “leftist” who is “on the extreme left of the political spectrum.” The only two pieces of evidence he provides for this characterization are that I’m opposed to the Iraq war, and that I think George W. Bush is a terrible president. By this definition, 72 percent of the American public is currently “on the extreme left of the political spectrum.”

Regular readers of this column will recognize that I’m a radical leftist in the same sense that Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid are radical leftists. In other words, it’s the kind of definition that makes sense inside the hermetically sealed bubble inhabited by Beauprez, but which sounds nuts to people living in what might be described loosely as “reality.”

Members of President Bush’s rapidly shrinking fan club describe moderate Democrats as leftists in the same way that people like Hugo Chavez or Ralph Nader describe us as “right-wing.” In other words, if you’re an ideological extremist, any sort of political moderation will seem extreme to you…

… The extent to which people like Beauprez are out of touch with political reality is best illustrated by his complaint that, contrary to my claims, “many” members of Congress have children who are serving or have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact there appear to be only a half-dozen such people, i.e., about 1 percent of the legislature.

Indeed, if I were Beauprez, the last topic in the world I would choose to debate is the extent to which the American elites are prone to support wars they themselves do everything to avoid. Beauprez himself secured three draft deferments during Vietnam, and, when those expired, managed to get himself declared “medically unfit” to serve.

Now that he’s well beyond military age, he’s become a ferocious proponent of the so-called war on terror. What a surprise.

Wow. Um, Mr. Beauprez, you may consider not talking for a few months years to give people time to start taking you seriously again.


Wyoming Sen. Craig Thomas died last night. As Mary Clare Jalonick of The Associated Press reports:

Wyoming Sen. Craig Thomas, a three-term conservative Republican who stayed clear of the Washington limelight and political catfights, died Monday. He was 74.

His family issued a statement saying he died Monday evening at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He had been receiving chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukemia.

Just before the 2006 election, Thomas was hospitalized with pneumonia and had to cancel his last campaign stops. He nonetheless won with 70 percent of the vote, monitoring the election from his hospital bed.

Two days after the election, Thomas announced he had just been diagnosed with leukemia.

Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a Democrat, will appoint a successor from one of three finalists chosen by the state Republican party.