High Noon: The drivers license war; Vice President Bennet; powdered alcohol?!

Susan Greene: Good morning High Nooners. Thanks for joining us.

Let’s start with the Statehouse. The Joint Budget Committee won’t let the Department of Motor Vehicles spend the fees it will take to provide driver’s licenses for non-citizens, effectively cutting off the program at the knees.There are 11,000 people now in line, which is a long line even at the DMV. Is that what the JBC is supposed to be doing? Will Dems on the JBC try to gut a Republican-friendly bill in the same way? Will the Dems be able to rescue the program? Are Republicans unnecessarily making it even harder for their candidates to draw Latino votes?

Dan Haley: In related news, I hear Mexico is also drastically reducing the hours at which Coloradans can get Mexican drivers’ licenses as retaliation for the interminable wait times.

Mike Littwin: It’s been a while – maybe since last year – we’ve had a good JBC tiff. I like this one. You have the JBC basically legislating and you have the Republicans gratuitously giving away Latino votes. The new Obama rules are going to open up driver’s licenses for many of the non-citizens (which is my favorite new PC description). I don’t worry so much about 11,000 in a line. I’m sure I’ve been in longer ones at the DMV.

Jon Caldara: I think it would be a mistake to lump the “Latino vote” into one group. Latinos themselves can be divided on this issue. This alone won’t injure the Republican’s already bad relationship with this truly diverse group.

Littwin: Haley is the first to pull out the old Beauprez “Mexican time” line. Now we’ve got something.

Haley: Don’t you also think this is what happens when the party in power passes unpopular (with the other party) bills without any Republican votes? With a little power in the statehouse, you expect them to fund the program? This bill passed with no Republican votes. Zero. This what happens when the pendulum of power swings back and the minority party gets a little power

Littwin: This won’t hurt the GOP standing with Latinos. But if you can trust the exit polling, Gardner did better than expected with Latino voters. This is just gratuitous stuff, making an issue that most people thought had gone away.

Haley: Not pulling out the “Mexican time” line at all. Pointing out that you can’t walk down to Mexico and expect to get one of their drivers’ licenses.

Littwin: Just kidding, Dan. I would never seriously compare you to Bob Beauprez…

There are rules and there are rules. Apparently the law wasn’t written correctly (shock!), but it is a fee-funded thing that doesn’t cost the taxpayers at all – and means a lot to the lives of people in the shadows. If that’s how the Republicans want to be seen, I’d guess that the Democrats are happy to let them look that way. The question for me is whether this is what the JBC should be doing. It’s often one of the places where the two parties make a point of getting along.

Caldara: The larger issue for the Republicans in the state house will be the perception that they are pushing a social agenda. This, powdered alcohol ban, etc. won’t sit well with swing voters.

Elections do have consequences as I have been reminded over the last two years of hard-core progressive rule. Now a Republican JBC is biting back, a little.

Haley: I don’t think this matters in 2016. At all.

Littwin: Thank God Caldara is here because who else would segue from immigrants’ rights to the rights of those who drink powdered alcohol? We are the state of craft beers, not of Kool-Aid vodka. Don’t we have some pride in this state? I’m thinking that the people who are pushing powdered alcohol may not be voters at all. And they probably shouldn’t have driver’s licenses.

Caldara: Some of us plan to douse ourselves in powdered alcohol as if it were baby powder. So back off.

Littwin: Don’t worry. If you douse yourself in powdered alcohol, everyone will back off. Just hope that nobody offers you a light.

Haley: So, back to these drivers’ licenses, mark this down as problem no. 4384 for what happens when the feds fail to act on immigration

Caldara: Sober or not I’ll agree with Haley. This issue is going to be solved (or not) on the Fed level.

Haley: Can you still do yoga – if it’s properly regulated, of course – after dousing yourself in powdered alcohol? (Just doing my best to make sure we wrap the whole week into this debate.)

Littwin: It’s not the fed inaction. Obama has acted, for better or worse. It’s congressional inaction, where there’s just one party in charge now, so it can pass whatever it likes, or at least that’s what I heard when Democrats were in charge of both houses.

Greene: Moving on from self-immolation, let’s talk death with dignity. Also from the lege, the Democrats have introduced a bill that could possibly pass. The issue has widespread support among the public, according to a poll released today. Five states have similar laws and this bill is modeled on Oregon’s law, which has been in effect for nearly two decades. If it did become law, what would it say about Colorado’s place in liberal/libertarian culture?

Caldara: Remember the leftist motto (occasionally shared by the social right) “What ever it is…Regulate it!”

Littwin: So, if death with dignity becomes law in Colorado along with same-sex marriage and legal pot, will there be heads exploding at Focus on the Family? Is this part of a revolution, or evolution, or what?

Haley: Interesting bill. You need two doctors to sign off on it, and you have to administer the medicine yourself. Are these doctors the same ones who wrote a zillion prescriptions for medical marijuana for 20 year olds with lower back pain?

Littwin: Jon, tell it to the anarchists.

Haley: And what becomes of the person who can’t administer the medicine themselves, but has the same wish to die with dignity? Do they have some sort of legal standing?

Caldara: This one will be a real test for the Senate leadership, should it make it over to that side of the building. While assisted suicide, or whatever the new preferred term is, doesn’t fall on party lines, the fight will be more on the Republican side…

And the anarchists already know it. Why do you think they’re anarchists?

Haley: Indeed. For people who believe in “life” – especially cradle to grave — those  who oppose abortion and the death penalty, this can be a tough issue.

Littwin: Dan, it’s been the law in Oregon for (I think this is right) 17 years, so it’s possible that there’s some actual data on this.

Haley: The impetus for this bill was an amazing piece that appeared in The Post last year. I’d invite people to read it. (Yea, still schilling for my peeps.)


Caldara: Wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes law in Colorado. Colorado is a libertarian (small L) state. It’s just that most Coloradans don’t know that’s the label. Unlike gay marriage, most here know this is an issue they or a family member could easily be facing.

Littwin: I think the reason that they start with people who can make their own decision is to get around the more difficult issue of the family, or someone not in the family, pulling the plug. This is a fascinating issue, though. It goes to the whole right-to-life argument and whether the state can tell me that if I have a disease that is going to kill me and, in killing me, cause me extraordinary pain, that I can’t take what, for many, would be the obvious step…

I’m glad to see you guys are on the right side of this issue. I think it will pass. I also think that if it does, it puts us out there in front as a liberal/libertarian state, while we are, at the same time, the TABOR state. You got to like that mix.

Caldara: I haven’t seen polling on this, but I’m guessing there is strong public support. The thought of terminal people ending their own life without the comfort of real medicine is heart-breaking. I know families that still deal with the trauma of seeing a loved one take his life to end his suffering.

Haley: Just to be clear, I absolutely struggle with this one but don’t think, as a legislator,  I would get in someone’s way if this is how they chose to go out.

Greene: Switching gears to national politics, Politico says our own Sen. Michael Bennet is one of Hillary Clinton’s top two choices for Veep (Tim Kaine is the other). Does anyone think that’s even remotely possible?

Littwin: In the quickest possible answer, no. In the second quickest, no and no. In the third, no an no and hell no.

Haley: I think Michael Bennet has a lot of offer a presidential ticket in terms of smarts and his swing-state background. However, there is nothing else sexy about it. He wouldn’t excite any base that I can think, except maybe aging east coast prep school liberals. And we all know that base never gets motivated for an election.

Caldara: Bennett could be Hillary’s Dan Quayle. Love the idea. Who’d run for his seat on the D side?

Littwin: I’m pretty stunned that Bennet’s name got out there. I thought that if there were a Coloradan in the mix, it would be Hickenlooper, who is a big favorite with the national media. I see Bennet as a Senate lifer, unless the people of Colorado bring him home. If he does stay there, he’s got every chance to eventually be another Western Dem Senate Majority Leader, like Reid or Mansfield or Daschle. That’s more in his skill set

Haley: I’m not sold that Hillary is the nominee to begin with, and if she is, she needs some pizzazz in a running mate…

I already told you, Hick is O’Malley’s VP…

Andrew Romanoff would run for his seat. Obviously.

Littwin: Dan, I think Hillary is the Romney of 2016. There are many reasons she shouldn’t be the nominee, but there’s no one to seriously challenge here. She needs someone who contrasts with her, someone like Julian Castro. I don’t much about him except for the very good speech he gave at the 2012 Dem convention. But that’s apparently one route to the presidency.

Caldara: Damn that’s funny! Go Andrew!  (please)

Littwin: I think Dan has the right answer on Romanoff. The only question would be who he would lose to.

Haley: John Elway. After the Broncos win the next Super Bowl. This is too easy.

Haley: What if Romney and Hillary run together, and promise Jeb a cabinet seat as Secretary of Yesterday’s News and Ideas.

Caldara: Does this speculation matter? Obama is going to repeal the 22nd Amendment by executive order and never leave.

Littwin: Republicans don’t need Hillary. Have you ever seen a longer list of possible semi-credible to actually credible candidates on the Republican side? At this point, it looks like there will be a dozen candidates. Anyone gets to have a favorite son, although not a favorite daughter, unless you want to throw Palin in the mix.

Haley: Not Colorado related but Tim Kaine? It’s not like that would set the world on fire either…

The only ones to ever throw Palin into the mix are the Palins themselves and people trying to get ratings or people out to their events.

Littwin: Speaking of the Super Bowl, let’s have picks. I’m picking the Seahawks because I hate the Patriots, because I love deflategate even if I hate all gates, and I like that Richard Sherman will offend all America again.

Haley: Mitt and Jeb may seem like old news but they are serious and credible candidates…

Super Bowl: I can’t stand either team. I’ve heard it said there’s probably no coincidence that the two coaches most associated with cheating are in the Super Bowl. I’ll  go with the adage that defenses win championships and pick the Seahawks…

And I usually love “gates” but I’m already tired of this one.

Littwin: Candidates: But could the three leading candidates (including Hillary) really be Boomers? I thought we were over Boomers.

Haley: I am. Totally and completely. Of course, I’m still busy paying for boomers but I’m over you.

Caldara: Seattle over-inflates the footballs and wins. New England era ends. Jeb and Milt wed in a gay marriage to form one perfect insider candidate and lose to the non-Hillary Democrat. Speculation about their defeat will have something to do with deflated balls.

Littwin: What percentage of your 1 percenters do you think are boomers? I’d be happy for them to pay more and let you off the hook, Dan…

Ladies and gentlemen, this is why Jon Caldara is Jon Caldara.

Haley: Where have you gone, Paul Ryan, a nation of Gen Xers turns its lonely eyes to you? Damn. Boomer music too. Cant escape it…

Ha! Class warfare is so last week…

Again, more Boomer culture. You prefer “Ballghazi” Jon?

Caldara: Do you realize most people under 45 have no idea where the term “gate” comes from? Yah. I’m calling you old Littwin.

Greene: Ok, enough with football — and all balls, for that matter — already. Let’s get back to politics and 2016. What do you have to say about the whopping $889 million the Bros Koch are planning on spending on that year’s elections. How do you see that money hitting home in our purple state? And what will be the effect?

Littwin: And most people my age can’t remember.

Greene: Easy, Caldara. Didn’t you recently reach the half-century mark yourself? And, in defense of Littwin, he has WAY MORE HAIR than you do…

Moving on to the Koch thing…

Caldara: Eh? Speak up. Eh? Littwin has the best comb-over in the state!

Wonder what Tom Steyer is planning.

Haley: The constitution,  and the high court, allow the Koch Brothers — and Tom Steyer and Pat Stryker – to spend what they want on elections…

Most people get worked up about campaign spending when the “other side” is doing the spending.

Caldara: But “Koch Derangement Syndrome” is sweeping the left. Fun to watch.

Littwin: Here’s what I really enjoyed about the Koch Brothers confab. All the new GOP senators, like our own Cory Gardner, were there to “thank” the donors. And Ted Cruz said that the Democratic attacks on the Kochs were “grotesque.” Marco Rubio had the best line, though. He said that the money had no impact on salary. Apparently, these rich guys, from both sides, don’t have notion or quid or pro or quo…

When Obama broke his promise and went away from federal matching funds, many liberals (including me) criticized him for it. The Kochs are planning to raise as much money as either party. They are effectively a third party. Is that good or bad or constitutional? Those are questions to debate. But what is inarguable is the power that $1 billion represents and whether that is a good thing.

Caldara: I think the biggest of the big individual donors are true believers more than they are out for themselves. Stryker and Gill wanted gay marriage. Kochs want Liberty. Steyer want to destroy energy… None will make more money ( except maybe Pat Stryker investing in Abound Solar and Obama giving it $400 million)

Caldara: And what’s the billions worth of in-kind donations to the left from the media? I’d love to have a spending cap on their campaigning, but there’s that nasty 1st Amendment thingy.

Haley: It’s the system we have. What’s your solution – that doesn’t deny someone their first amendment rights? The courts have ruled that money is speech, right? New justices, I suppose?

Littwin: Yeah, the Koch brothers aren’t interested in how the oil votes go. And they don’t demand that the new senators come to kiss the ring. They just want that capital L Liberty for all. I’m touched.

Caldara: Left’s solution has played out in Colorado – passed restrictive campaign finance laws, exploit those laws, out spend the other side, take campaigns away from the candidates themselves, since they can’t take the money now, and watch the carnage of personal destruction.

Caldara: Not saying they don’t have interests, just suggesting that billionaires on all side can be motivated by their beliefs. Or is that only possible for working people and self-absorbed journalists?

Greene: Thank you, High Nooners. You’ve outdone yourselves. Great insight into the legislature, powdered alcohol, death with dignity, Clinton, Bennet and Kochs and, of course, derangement. Great chit chat. And great weather, too. What’s not to love about this sunny 60-something-degree Wednesday?

Because we’re in a particularly good mood here at Colo Indy HQ, we’re launching a new High Noon ritual. We’re serving up a song of the day, which we’ll be doing weekly. Today, we’ve chosen “Black Betty” by the one-hit-wonders, Ram Jam. It’s from 1977, when gas cost 67 cents a gallon, a three-bedroom home sold for an average of $33,000, the first Apple II computer went on sale and the U.S. returned the Panama Canal back to Panama. Here it is for your listening and viewing pleasure:


To kick off this new weekly ritual, we’re offering a Colo Indy t-shirt to the High Nooner (or reader) who by next Wednesday has memorized the lyrics and sends us a video performing the song most entertainingly

In the meantime, we’re sure this week’s tune will get you hopping this hump day. See you next week.

Caldara: My pleasure. Beats working.

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litwin hnMike Littwin has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow. A rapier wit.

dan haley Dan Haley is vice president of communications at EIS Solutions, a Colorado public relations firm and was Editorial Page Editor at the Denver Post, after being an editorial writer, assistant city editor and news reporter.

jon caldara Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, Colorado’s free-market think tank in Denver. He is a radio and TV host and one of the state’s favorite provocateurs.

sgreeneSusan Greene is moderator today, standing in for John Tomasic. (Thanks Susan!) She is a longtime Colorado journalist, a former Denver Post columnist and the editor of the Colorado Independent.

The Colorado Independent is a statewide online news source operating in a time when spin is plentiful, but factual, fair and unflinching news in the public interest is all too rare. Our award-winning team of veteran investigative and explanatory reporters and news columnists aims to amplify the voices of Coloradans whose stories are unheard, shine light on the relationships between people, power and policy, and hold public officials to account. We strive to report the news with context, social conscience, and soul, and to give Coloradans the insight they need to promote conversation, understanding and progress in this square, swing state we call home.