Susan Greene: Hello Colorado. Welcome to this week’s “High Noon,” when our in-house opinion columnist and favorite ”vagrant lurker” Mike Littwin — whose mother raised him to be a one-man think tank and to, at all costs, avoid mowing lawns and brewing his own coffee — will take on two much younger and better coiffed men whose mothers I’ll leave out of this intro other than to say they, like Mrs. Littwin, instilled in their sons an unusually high level of self-righteous swagger. “High Noon” is an ideological battle, an online debate between left and right, a lively exchange of political pluck in which the shoot-out is waged not with 15-round magazines (the preferred ammo among certain news-making Coloradans) but with quickly written words, ideas and wit spanning the political spectrum.
Today we welcome back two of Littwin’s favorite sparring partners — Dan Haley, a government relations guru at EIS Solutions and our former colleague at The Denver Post, where he ran the editorial page, and Jon Caldara, president of the free-market Independence Institute who has a statue of Thomas Jefferson outside his office, Ayn Rand books lining his bookshelves and Star Trek memorabilia on his walls. Jon, if you could see us, we’re sending a big Vulcan peace sign to you in this month of mourning.
Enough with the introductions. Let’s, as Trekkies say, “Make it so.”
Sen. Cory Gardner defended his signing the “Tehran 47” letter by saying he’s working hard to form bipartisan cooperation. Meanwhile, The New York Daily News called Gardner and the rest “TRAITORS” in a front-page headline. And in a Tweet, Jared Polis called Tom Cotton, who wrote the letter, “Tehran Tom.” What do you all make of this story, Gardner’s “bipartisan cooperation” reasoning and how the letter may or may not come back to bite Republicans — especially if they take back the White House?
Mike Littwin: This should be good. There’s nothing I like more than an in-depth discussion of the Logan Act. So, boys, what do you have to say in defense of bipartisan Cory?
Dan Haley: Wow, that’s quite an intro. I love news stories like this because they cause people to breathlessly defend laws they hadn’t heard of until yesterday, such as the Logan Act. It’s been on the books for 216 years and has never been prosecuted. But this letter has lots of folks suddenly worried about the Logan Act.
Is bipartisan Cory supposed to act in a bipartisan manner at all times to win in Colorado in six years? Unlikely. I don’t recall Udall or Bennet being 24-7 bipartisan guys.
Jon Caldara: There is no Vulcan peace you hippies. It’s a Vulcan greeting, or salute, like a handshake or bowing. Live Long and Prosper, which requires property rights. Vulcan are libertarian you know.
Caldara: Logan Act? Anything to do with Logan’s Run, which I can’t believe has never been remade. Sorry, Spock on the brain.
Haley: ^^^ Nerd ^^^
Anyone else think Caldara spent a lot of Friday nights as a teen at home watching Star Trek on his VCR?
Littwin: Beyond the Logan Act, let’s get serious. Who in his right mind would send this letter? The Republicans have a Hillary mini-scandal brewing, and they take the heat off Hillary and put it all on themselves. I mean, when you’ve got a mainstream of-the-people tabloid like the Daily News calling you traitors, that’s a problem.
Haley: Here’s why I think Republicans may regret sending that letter: Before the letter, the focus was on the president and whether he was making a bad deal with Iran. Now the focus is on Republicans and whether they broke the law. Gimme a break.
Littwin: No, I don’t think Cory will be bipartisan at all, unless people are looking. I’m just saying that refusing to sign an obviously terrible idea of a letter would have set him apart, made him look like a strong appealing guy. Instead, he looks like a non-thinking follower. If you look at Cory’s facebook page right now, it has been bombarded by “friends” who call him a traitor. Again, I don’t think this is in any way traitorous — just hypocritical and dumb — but it’s not a good look when people are saying that about you.
Caldara: A letter detailing how international agreements are ratified is a lesson that maybe the Prez should learn. Hardly a big deal.
Littwin: I’m sure he spent a lot of weekends at home. Alone.
Caladara: Anyone else think Caldara still spends a lot of Friday nights alone home watching Star Trek on his VCR?
Haley: What happened to Congress being an equal branch of government? So much of the fuss over Netanyahu speaking before Congress made me think that somewhere along the way we forgot that Congress doesn’t have to seek the president’s permission to govern.
Littwin: Think Tank Jon, according to Jack Goldsmith, Harvard law professor, they got the constitutional part wrong. But more to the point, most people aren’t talking about the Logan Act, unless you’re reading Facebook. Most people are talking about hypocrisy and impropriety and stupidity. The real point is that, if anything, this letter will push Iran to take the deal because Republicans have promised them they’ll never get a better one.
Littwin: Congress is co-equal. You might want to read the Constitution, however, about executive powers. I’m sure you have one in your pocket. Isn’t that required?
Caldara: I love how the left loved dissension when W was in office. Wasn’t it a high virtue then. Now it’s treason.
Haley: I remember when so many Democrats called Nancy Pelosi a traitor for going to Syria to meet with Assad against the Bush administration’s wishes.
Caldara: I don’t think the letter hurt Republicans at all. It shows that they are willing to stand up to Obama and weigh in on foreign policy. It’s not like they sent it from their private server at home.
Littwin: Don’t want to disappoint anyone, but the Daily News isn’t the Left. It endorsed Romney in 2012. But good try.
Haley: I found a pocket Constitution in my car just this weekend. That’s how I roll. I probably should get an updated one though, since we’ve been getting newly revised definitions of executive power over the past decade or so.
Caldara: I didn’t know endorsing Romney was the litmus test for conservatism. I learn so much from you, Mike.
Littwin: No, I said it was a litmus test for not being liberal. Close, but not the same thing.
Jon, this may be why you are so often on the losing side. Of course this hurts Republicans. The idea of telling your enemies to ignore the president and that he can’t be trusted to make agreements is not exactly what people want to hear from a Congress they already hold in deservedly low regard.
Haley: I think the way this hurts Republicans is that they’re now the focus of the news, and not a bad deal with Iran.
Littwin: Dan, I’m glad you said the last decade or so on executive power. As you know, Dick Cheney was the real executive power guy. And then there were all those Republicans who were so in love with their boy Putin. How’d that work out?
Caldara: I am most often on the losing side. But I am always on the right side. And Republicans are rarely right.
Haley: Bush expanded executive powers. Obama decried it on the stump in 08 then doubled down and more. The trajectory is not good.
Caldara: Great! Let’s all agree both W and O have pushed their executive powers too far. But only one of them is in office NOW. Let’s work on stoping his abuses, um, maybe now.
Littwin: You’re right, Dan. A lot of Democratic senators don’t like the deal. And now Republicans have forced them to back Obama in a fight. Tom Cotton — the young Senate hotshot who looks like he’s planning to challenge Cruz, Rubio and Paul for the new Republican look (sorry, Cory) — writes the letter, which is perfectly understandable. But how did the grownups not see this was both provocative and unproductive?
Caldara: The bigger issue is O’s foreign policy. The letter only puts attention on that in the long run, whether or not it is good for Republicans.
Littwin: If we are to grant that in some cases he has pushed executive power, we should also grant that this letter has nothing to do with that. No one seriously argues that he doesn’t have the power to make this deal. I know the Senate demands ratification. But since the 1930s, according to the New York Times, 94 percent of pacts with foreign countries have been made by executive authority.
Caldara: Provocative and unproductive? Really, Mike? Turning on Israel and working with Iran is provocative and unproductive, not a letter.
Littwin: You can call attention to Obama’s foreign policy without embarrassing yourself. At least I think you can.
Caldara: 94 percent of pacts with foreign countries haven’t been with terrorist states trying to build the bomb.
Haley: They were doing just that with the Netanyahu visit.
Littwin: As I said, the letter, if it accomplishes anything, would only push Iran to make a deal with Obama, knowing that Republicans say they can’t get a better deal. The letter is not only a bad idea, it might push Iranians to do exactly what Republicans don’t want them to do.
Caldara: Ah Mike, always worried about getting Republicans good PR. Give it time, the letter might well prove good PR for the Republicans. In the meantime, it’s a piece of paper stating constitutional facts. Good lesson for us all.
Littwin: I think, again, with the Netanyahu visit, they assured that Obama could keep a veto-proof number in the Senate. Terrible strategy.
Caldara: You mean make a deal with Obama that the Senate won’t ratify. Kyoto Accords, anyone?
Again, what’s with the left’s turnaround on dissent and free speech? Good during the W years. Bad now.
Greene: Speaking of PR, let’s move on to Hillary’s isn’t-that-convenient email news conference yesterday. Do you buy her explanation? And if not, why do you think she did do it?
Caldara: We’re thinking alike Susie… Come to the dark side… Yes, let’s get to a real scandal. Hillary. And I’m not talking her cankles.
Haley: Great press conference yesterday. I suppose it all depends on what your definition of “device” is.
Caldara: What a complete bullshit explanation. Sweet irony that Hillary started her political life working against Nixon on the Watergate issue, not making public tapes, and now she’s hiding emails.
Haley: If you think the Republicans’ letter was a bad PR move, Mike, you have to think this press conference was a disaster, right?
Littwin: Are you leaving it to us lefties to slam her? This is all about the Clintons, their belief that their right to privacy trumps the country’s right to know. She has gotten herself in trouble like this all the time. Republicans are already jumping on Benghazi like there’s some email that says, “I’m so glad we lost four people in that raid.” They think it’s the Nixon tapes. That isn’t the issue. It’s transparency. And at the same time Obama is going after reporters for governmental leaks, we get this. I’m going to say that’s not how liberals are supposed to roll.
Caldara: The only way she would be able to clear herself of tampering with emails is if a third party takes her private server and re-creates all the email.
Haley: I love that she said she deleted her personal emails, which involved things like prep for her mother’s funeral., ie., none of your business! How dare you ask about my mother’s death!!
Littwin: I do think the press conference was a disaster. It brings up every bad memory of Clintons from the 1990s. I loved the smile, which as one writer put it, was cemented on her face. You didn’t have to dig very far down to see her anger at the media for having to do the news conference. As I said the other day, though, for worried Democrats, it’s too early to worry and it’s too late. She’s the nominee. There isn’t anyone else.
Caldara: Again I ponder… didn’t the left used to scream for transparency. Or was that in the Evil Spock parallel universe?
Haley: There is something so House of Cards about that Clintons. Can’t you just see them sharing a cigarette at the window near their server, plotting how to crush the little people in their way to power.
Greene: Now guys, leave the dead mothers and the cankles out of it. Low blow.
Caldara: Who’s to say the tapes Nixon didn’t want to turn over weren’t about his daughter’s wedding??? Oh yeah, wait.
Haley: Yes, Jon, and this was to be the “most transparent administration in history.” Yet the president never raised an eyebrow when he sent emails to email@example.com
Littwin: Of course, if Hillary had two devices, she still would have chosen which emails to put on her private emails and which ones to put on her government email. She would have been deciding that in real time instead of years later. So that’s not really the question, unless you think all emails to all officials should be public. I assume you don’t.
Caldara: I said it WASN’T about her cankles.
Haley: Is there a Rose Mary Woods, deleting all of those emails?
Littwin: Can I get an answer to the question about dividing on two devices? And do you think people like her and Colin Powell should turn over all private emails?
Caldara: Didn’t the Post sue to get to Gov. Ritter’s other phone? Ah… those were the days.
Haley: Yes, and we were hammered by the left. Has anyone asked about Hick’s cellphone?
The real story that came out of all this is that Bill Clinton, apparently, has only sent two emails his entire life. I’d love to know what those said?
Caldara: No, Mike. Elected officials should have private emails. On a private email account. But even under Colorado’s open records law, emails on govt business, no matter what email address, are public.
Littwin: I’m not getting my question answered, but I’ll go to another point. That this is, of course, all about politics. Which is fine. I love politics. And it’s all about how, of the Clintons, there’s one great politician and one not so good politician. There’s one Clinton who made many mistakes and survived them all. There’s one Clinton who is tied with the other and has never quite figured out how to deal with it on her own. You remember the Obama line to Hillary about how you’re likable enough? This is the question facing her in 2016, and hiding emails isn’t the way to resolve it.
Caldara: Maybe the Senate letter was or wasn’t good PR, but a private server where all her email goes doesn’t pass the smell test. Gmail has every stupid email I have ever written. Convenient she didn’t use gmail. At least the NSA would have them.
Haley: Ha! The feds have all of our emails, but not their own. Power to the people.
Greene: I can see y’all want to talk Colorado (y’all meaning Dan and Jon. Mike wants — and isn’t getting — his question answered). Let’s go more local. Denver’s mayoral election is less than two months away and nobody’s challenging Mayor Michael Hancock. What do you all make of this? Is Hancock’s doing such a great job to merit no re-election race?
Littwin: I blame the Denver Post. And the rest of the media – including the beloved Colorado Indy — but particularly the Post. We’re not getting a real coverage of Hancock as a mayor. No one really has any idea whether he’s doing a good or bad job because there’s so little reporting being done. I think Hancock has done very little so far as mayor, and that for a major city that is one of the hot cities in the country, there should be more innovative ideas being put in place.
Caldara: I believe I did answer Mike’s question. If the Post really went after the Denver Sugar story, he wouldn’t have been elected to begin with.
Unlike when Hick or even Webb were mayor, I don’t think half of Denverites could name the mayor.
Haley: Remember when the two papers had three or four reporters covering City Hall? That extra scrutiny was good for Denverites but also good for the mayors. They had to produce. I was thinking about Hancock as I read the story about cops and cameras. That’s an issue that could be exploited by another strong candidate.
Littwin: I’m afraid that’s wrong, Jon. Since I was involved in the reporting, I know a lot more about that than was reported. The story broke just before the election, and there was never enough evidence — although a full team was immediately put on the story — to come to a conclusion either way.
Haley: What WAS Mike’s question? All I saw was a bunch of whining about how it wasn’t answered.
Caldara: BTW, weren’t we supposed to have ended homeless in Denver by now? Hick’s ten-year road home. Another great government success story, right there with Fastracks.
Haley: Jon, you’re not supposed to remember stuff like that.
Caldara: YEAH! Answer that question Mike! Stop avoiding the question on what was the question! Huh?
Littwin: I hate to say this, but Dan and Jon are both right. The camera story — in which the cops have body cameras, but apparently don’t often actually turn them on — is a great story. And you’re right about Webb and Hick and the attention the public paid to them. I think it’s hard to be an effective mayor unless you can get that attention. In Denver, all the big issues seem to happen at the Capitol and very few at City Hall.
Caldara: How come the city can always turn on its red-light cameras, but not its police cameras?
Liiwin: Look, it was Dan who endorsed Hickenlooper. Not me. Actually, Hick and Webb were both very effective mayors who are great arguments for effective government. Do you think it’s an accident that Denver is, by nearly every measure, one of the hottest cities in the country. Maybe you should move here, Jon. You’ve been everywhere else.
Haley: I suppose the cameras are only good when they’re turned on, eh? Reminds me of the police footage of the kid, from Pueblo I believe, who was beaten by an office and it was captured on camera until the camera the camera suddenly panned back and jerked away. Don’t want to see that!
Caldara: Hancock could be challenged by his lackluster performance and problems with the police. And, yes, a real media here could make that the issue. But once mayor, you’ve got it for two terms. that’s reality, sadly.
Haley: Well, we were going to endorse Dan Maes until that whole UN bike plot thing blew up.
Caldara: Apparently Hancock keeps the camera files on his home server. That’s why we only have a fourth of them. It’s convenient though.
Littwin: I love how the cops say the monitor has it all wrong, as if he didn’t do the study and couldn’t do the math. It’s always the cops saying, don’t believe your lyin’ eyes. Now, they’re trying to say they were too busy to turn on the camera. They’re the only people in the country not into selfies.
Caldara: Where voters need me… I shall be there (superman stance)
Haley: But Mike just said Denver is one of the hottest cities in the country, and he’s right. That’s another reason why Hancock is not being challenged. And we’ve all grown accustomed to Denver not plowing its streets, so that won’t hurt him.
Littwin: You win the best line, Jon.
Haley: I predict that selfie comment finds its way into a yet to be written column.
Caldara: Gawd. Can this be over. I want to go back to mourning for Lenard Nimoy
Haley: But first, a quick question: Star Wars or Star Trek?
Caldara: “Live Long and Prosper due to Limited Government” was what Nimoy originally said. Damn liberal Gene Roddenberry left the good part on the editing room floor.
Caldara: Trek. Original Trek. Easy.
Greene: TIme’s up, people. Jon needs to sign off to resume mourning Spock. Dan apparently has a snow removal complaint to get off his chest with the operators at Denver’s 3-1-1. And Mike has some sort of fancy citrus fruit from Whole Foods whose navel he needs to ponder. Thanks to you three for your thoughts on this big news week.
As loyal readers know, we here at Colorado Independent HQ like to leave you tapping your feet at the end of each High Noon with a musical pick. This week, the choice was easy — Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up,” the 1977 piece of R&B deliciousness that a jury decided yesterday was copied by singers Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams in “Blurred Lines,” the biggest hit song of 2013. Tuesday’s $7.4 million jury award to Gaye’s estate marked a victory for creative folks who don’t like their work ripped off. It also gives us a chance to remember Gaye whose last album, “Midnight Love,” has been in my cassette deck, cd player and playlist continuously since 1982. I’ll never stop loving it. RIP Marvin. You’re still the prince of soul.
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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.