Ex-Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper enters presidential race
By NICHOLAS RICCARDI
Monday, March 4
DENVER (AP) — Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said on Monday he’s running for president, casting himself as a can-do uniter who’s used to overcoming adversity and accomplishing liberal goals in a politically divided state.
“I’m running for president because we need dreamers in Washington, but we also need to get things done,” Hickenlooper, 67, said in a video announcing his campaign. “I’ve proven again and again I can bring people together to produce the progressive change Washington has failed to deliver.”
He becomes the second governor to enter the sprawling field, after Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced last week, and is trying to cast himself as a pragmatist who can also take on President Donald Trump. Though as governor Hickenlooper prided himself for staying above partisan fights, he has argued his record as a former governor and big-city mayor distinguishes him from a broad field of Democratic presidential aspirants who are backing ambitious liberal plans on health care, taxes and the climate.
Hickenlooper has hedged on supporting Democratic rallying cries like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal to combat climate change. He once worked as a geologist for a petroleum company and was roundly criticized for telling a congressional panel he drank fracking fluid while arguing for the safety of the energy extraction technique.
It was after Hickenlooper was laid off from his geologist position during the energy bust of the 1980s that he inadvertently started on his road to politics. He opened a brewpub in a then-desolate stretch of downtown Denver that unexpectedly took off. That enabled Hickenlooper to become wealthy by building a mini-empire of restaurants and bars. It also led to him making a quixotic run for Denver mayor in 1993. Campaign ads featured Hickenlooper feeding quarters into parking meters to protest the city’s charging for Sunday parking downtown. He won handily.
As mayor, Hickenlooper helped persuade dozens of suburban cities, sometimes led by Republicans, to back a tax hike to fund a light-rail network. He was filmed diving out of an airplane to advocate for a statewide ballot measure to suspend an anti-tax measure passed in the 1990s and allow the state budget to grow. When he ran for governor in 2010, he featured an ad of himself fully dressed, walking into a shower to scrub off negative attacks.
It’s all part of Hickenlooper’s quirky political image — he vows not to run attack ads and has frequently made fun of his tendency to misspeak and wander off political message.
Hickenlooper was supported by some Republicans as governor. His first term was marked by a series of disasters and tragedies, some of which he alluded to in his launch video — record wildfires and floods, the assassination of his own prison chief by a member of a white supremacist prison gang and the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, which killed 12. After that attack and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting massacre in Connecticut months later, Hickenlooper called for gun control legislation and signed bills requiring universal background checks and limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds.
“We’re a purple state that got universal background checks passed,” he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday, stressing how he can “bring people together on the other side and actually get stuff done.”
Hickenlooper backed civil unions for gay couples and signed a law providing them in Colorado in 2013, before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. He announced in 2013 that he opposed the death penalty and refused to execute a quadruple-murderer who was on death row. And, as he prepared to leave office and was openly mulling a presidential bid, he ordered the state to adopt California’s low-emission vehicle standards to fight climate change.
The last move was widely seen as shoring up an area that has long created tension for Hickenlooper — his relationship with the energy industry. Groups opposed to the expansion of energy exploration into Denver’s suburbs often complained that Hickenlooper was too close to the oil and gas business, which remains a powerful force in Colorado politics.
As governor, Hickenlooper opposed ballot measures to limit drilling in populated areas. Hickenlooper’s successor, Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, has been more critical of the industry. Last week, Polis announced he’d pursue a wide range of new policies that would limit energy exploration.
Another potential vulnerability for Hickenlooper is money. As a former governor, he can’t recycle donations from prior campaigns into a presidential account, as can the many U.S. Senators in the field. Hickenlooper’s political committee raised $1 million during the first two months of the year, in contrast to senators such as Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who raised more than that amount in the 24 hours after they announced their campaigns.
Still, Hillary Clinton vetted Hickenlooper as a possible running mate in 2016, and Democrats have spoken about his potential national appeal for years. In his launch video, Hickenlooper says, following images of Trump: “As a skinny kid with Coke bottle glasses and a funny last name, I’ve stood up to my fair share of bullies.”
Hickenlooper is expected to focus heavily on Iowa, where many Coloradans come from and a state where his low-key, genial approach could be potent. In previous trips he’s emphasized his record and how he can bring warring parties together. During a January swing he stopped by a Des Moines brewpub where a customer asked him how he’d win the primary of “who hates Trump the most?”
Hickenlooper responded by rattling off his governing accomplishments.
“Everyone yells at Trump, he will win,” Hickenlooper said. “You have to laugh at him and joke along and say: ‘Hey, this is what I did.’”
Hickenlooper announcement video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QwIk0hUmzk8&feature=youtu.be
Trump claims Cohen hearing may have hurt North Korea summit
By KEVIN FREKING
Monday, March 4
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is suggesting that a congressional hearing Democrats arranged with his former personal attorney may have contributed to his failure to reach a deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Trump left his summit in Vietnam with the North Korean leader last week without reaching an agreement after Trump said he wasn’t willing to give in to Kim’s demand to lift U.S. sanctions at this time.
After sending his national security adviser, John Bolton, to the Sunday talk shows to paint the summit as a success, Trump lashed out at Democrats in a tweet Sunday night, criticizing their decision to hold the hearing featuring his former lawyer Michael Cohen while he was overseas.
“For the Democrats to interview in open hearings a convicted liar & fraudster, at the same time as the very important Nuclear Summit with North Korea, is perhaps a new low in American politics and may have contributed to the ‘walk,’” Trump tweeted. “Never done when a president is overseas. Shame!”
The White House did not immediately respond to questions about why the hearing would have contributed to Trump’s decision not to accept Kim’s terms or whether members of the North Korean negotiating team indicated they were aware of the split-screen news coverage in the U.S.
As Trump wrapped up his trip to the summit last week, he complained that Democrats had scheduled the hearing at the same time as his negotiations. He described it as a “fake hearing” and said having it in the middle of this “very important summit” was “really a terrible thing.” Trump said they could have held it a few days later and had more time to prepare.
During the House Oversight Committee hearing, Cohen, who has turned on Trump and has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress earlier to protect Trump, was harshly critical of his former boss, calling him a racist, a con man and a cheat.
In his Sunday show appearances, Bolton described the summit as a success despite the lack of an agreement providing for verifiable dismantling of the North’s nuclear sites. Bolton, in three television interviews, tried to make the case that Trump advanced America’s national security interests by rejecting a bad agreement while working to persuade Kim to take “the big deal that really could make a difference for North Korea.”
The U.S. and North Korea have offered contradictory accounts of why last week’s summit in Vietnam broke down, though both have pointed to American sanctions as a sticking point.
Bolton said that the leaders left on good terms and that Trump made an important point to North Korea and other countries that negotiate with him.
“He’s not desperate for a deal, not with North Korea, not with anybody if it’s contrary to American national interests,” Bolton said.
Bolton also sought to explain Trump’s comments about taking Kim’s word about Otto Warmbier, the American college student who was held prisoner in North Korea and was sent home in a vegetative state and later died. Trump said he didn’t believe Kim knew about or would have allowed what happened to Warmbier.
“He tells me that he didn’t know about it, and I will take him at his word,” Trump said at a news conference last week.
Bolton said Trump’s “got a difficult line to walk to” in negotiating with North Korea.
“It doesn’t mean that he accepts it as reality. It means that he accepts that’s what Kim Jong Un said,” Bolton said.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., a close Trump ally, broke with the president.
“I think Kim knew what happened, which was wrong,” McCarthy said.
Some have been critical of Trump for letting Kim stand with him on the world stage given North Korea’s poor human rights record. Kim will be able to portray himself to his people and supporters as the charismatic head of a nuclear-armed power, not an international pariah that starves its citizens so it can build weapons.
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, summarized the summit as a “spectacular failure” made all the worse by Trump’s comments on “murder of an American citizen, Otto Warmbier.”
But Bolton said that Trump’s view is that he “gave nothing away.”
And Bolton said Trump has “turned traditional diplomacy on its head, and after all in the case of North Korea, why not? Traditional diplomacy has failed in the last three administrations.”
An example of that non-traditional diplomacy was formally unveiled Sunday when South Korea and the U.S. announced they would not conduct massive springtime military drills and were replacing them with smaller exercises. They described it as an effort to support diplomacy aimed at resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis.
“The reason I do not want military drills with South Korea is to save hundreds of millions of dollars for the U.S. for which we are not reimbursed,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “That was my position long before I became President. Also, reducing tensions with North Korea at this time is a good thing!”
Bolton spoke on “Fox News Sunday,” CNN’s “State of the Union” and CBS’s “Face the Nation.” McCarthy was on ABC’s “This Week,” and Schiff was on CBS.
Opinion: Trump-Kim Aftermath — Not a Failure
By Donald Kirk
HANOI — Call the outcome of the second Trump-Kim summit disappointing or frustrating, but it was anything but a “failure.” The real failure would have been President Donald Trump’s signature authorizing concessions in return for promises made only to be broken. The North’s nuclear program is buried so deeply in the mindset of the Kim family dynasty that he’s absolutely not going to surrender it under the guise of any agreement.
“Trump avoided fake denuclearization,” Kim Tae-woo, retired director of the Korea Institute of National Unification, told me. “We really worried about a bad small deal. We were afraid North Korea would enjoy lifting of sanctions and maintenance of all facilities.”
Or, if the summit could indeed be called a failure, then U.S. negotiators should have known what was coming. “The dispute that led to the breakup could have been managed at the working level,” in the view of Victor Cha, who served on the national security council during the George W. Bush presidency. Trump “should have empowered his negotiators to make more progress before meeting.”
They might not have gotten anywhere either, but Moon Jae-in, elected president nearly two years ago as the liberal darling after nearly a decade of conservative rule, now risks a backlash that endangers his presidency. Moon’s embarrassment was obvious on March 1, the centennial of a short-lived bloody revolt against Japanese colonial rule, when he had to revise a speech that he had assumed would be a great time for touting the results of the summit.
Moon “had a tough day,” said Lee Sung-yoon, a faculty member at the Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Tufts University. “Crestfallen,” was Lee’s word for Moon’s immediate response. He “had planned for a major self-celebration featuring odes to himself” on “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” “inter-Korean reconciliation,” and “Korean independence” while his fans proclaimed “Chairman Kim is the greatest” and chanted, “Yankee go home.”
Now Moon, sensitive to conservative power in a society accustomed to the protection of the U.S.-Korean alliance, has to be careful about maintaining decent relations with the United States while leftists keep up demands for U.S. forces to leave.
“North Korea goes on trying to drive a wedge between allies,” said Kim Tae-woo. “We know that their eventual goal is the destruction of the alliance while many are angry and very much resentful” about Kim’s reluctance to compromise.
In fact, three days after the breakdown of the Trump-Kim summit, U.S. and South Korean defense officials announced a scaled-down joint military exercise with battalion-size units attacking imaginary enemy forces. Called “Dong Maeng,” “alliance,” the exercise replaces much larger war games that Trump halted after his summit with Kim in Singapore last June.
Trump after his summit in Vietnam signaled his desire to scale down this year’s war games when he remarked that a single large-scale exercise cost $100 million and South Korea should be picking up more of the expense. Regardless, Gen. Robert B. Abrams, commander of U.S. forces in Korea, and Gen. Park Han-ki, chairman of South Korea’s joint chiefs, in a joint statement said such exercises were “crucial in sustaining and strengthening the alliance.”
This emphasis on military strength doesn’t mean the end of approaches to the North by the United States as well as South Korea.
Thae Yong Ho, the former minister at the North Korean Embassy in London, who defected to South Korea nearly three years ago, thinks the Americans should talk directly to “the North Korean people.” More and more North Koreans, he argued while the summit was going on, need to learn about a better life in the South from tuning in secretly to South Korean TV and hearing from North Korean defectors.
If that seems far-fetched, so does the prospect of Kim ordering a nuclear strike. The greatest value of nuclear warheads is their use as a bargaining tool, but why worry about denuclearization? Kim is no longer wielding the nuclear threat while nursing hopes for concessions in lower level talks.
On that note, the break-up of the Hanoi summit, bereft of any “Hanoi Declaration,” as the Vietnamese host had proudly anticipated, should close an era of summitry. Trump would appear too preoccupied with issues at home while Kim may not be at all interested in accepting Moon’s repeated invitation to come to Seoul in return for hosting him in Pyongyang in September.
“There won’t be any more summit talks,” said Shim Jae-hoon, former Seoul bureau chief for the old “Far Eastern Economic Review.” “Kim is too busy finding money to feed his people. Trump is too busy fighting waves coming to destroy him.” That leaves it up to the two Koreas to try to sort things out in a process that’s likely to go on for years.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Donald Kirk has been a columnist for Korea Times, South China Morning Post many other newspapers and magazines. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum for Jimmy Carter
Former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, reminds me of the energizer bunny—he just keeps on going and going and going. Pump-a-rum. His drum keeps booming.
Born on October 1, 1924, in Plains, Georgia, Jimmy Carter served as the 39th President of the United States from 1976 to 1981. www.whitehouse.gov/. He included women and minorities in his cabinet.
Graduating high school in 1977, I remember the newspaper photos of his huge, cheesy smile. And stories about his peanut farm on the evening news. He was a deacon at the Plains Baptist Church. Of course, who can forget the antics of his scandalous brother? Billy Beer was brewed in the United States in 1977.
I remember stories about his wife, Rosalynn. From 1977 to 1978, she served as the Honorary Chairperson of the President’s Commission on Mental Health. In 1994, she published her autobiography, “First Lady from Plains.” And she is a lady.
The Carter couple will celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary in 2019. Shazam!
His spunky mother, known as Miss Lillian to her neighbors, was a nurse, a Peace Corps volunteer, an unofficial ambassador and a supporter of civil rights and women’s causes. In 1977, Lillian Carter became the first woman to receive the Covenant of Peace Prize of the Synagogue Council of America.
The hostage crisis in Iran happened during his presidential term. Critics and economists did not speak well of Carter’s decisions in the Oval Office. But, nobody can argue against his steadfast integrity and devoted family values.
Carter’s contributions to the world came after he left Washington D.C. Habitat for Humanity, the Nobel Peace Prize, traveling diplomat for conflict resolution, and the author of numerous books. And so much more.
His book, “An Hour Before Daylight: Memories of a Rural Boyhood” (2001, Simon & Schuster) describes his Depression-era boyhood on a Georgia farm before the civil rights movement. “Our two races, although inseparable in our daily lives, were kept apart by social custom, misinterpretation of Holy scriptures, and the unchallenged law of the land mandated by the United States Supreme Court.”
A man of sincerity with compassion for humanity. His 2014 book “A Call to Action – Women, Religion, Violence, and Power” identifies sexual exploitation as one of the major human rights violations of our time.
Carter’s Human Rights Program works with Christian and Muslim leaders in Africa to explore how religious and traditional institutions can address the mistreatment of women and girls. “Too often, religion has been wrongly used to justify gender-based human rights abuses, including child marriage, female genital cutting, domestic violence, wartime rape, and restricted access to education and economic and political participation. The Mobilizing Faith for Women and Girls Initiative aims to change that by instead putting religious and traditional leaders at the forefront of changing harmful social norms perpetrated in the name of religion.”
The Forum on Women, Religion, Violence, and Power can be accessed at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Forum hosts regular live online conversations bringing together and amplifying voices of those engaged in the struggle for human rights.
The Carter Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia is a nongovernmental, not-for-profit organization founded in 1982 by Jimmy and his wife Rosalynn. In partnership with Emory University, the center is guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering.
The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum is open to the public and in the same location as the Carter Center. www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov/museum/. A road trip is on my Bucket list!
A drum roll, please. The man with the heart for humanity is 95 years old. Let’s show appreciation to Jimmy before he meets his Maker. Shine on Jimmy—until you reach the Pearly Gates. Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in Southern Ohio.