No Peace For Cory: ADAPT Disrupts Western Conservative Summit

Denver7’s Oscar Contreras reporting from the Western Conservative Summit in Denver this weekend, where disability-rights activists from the group ADAPT continued their highly visible bedevilment of Sen. Cory Gardner over the GOP’s continuing attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act:

At least two people were escorted out Friday evening as Sen. Cory Gardner gave a speech to a packed house of high-profile Republicans on the first day of the Western Conservative Summit in downtown Denver.

The removal of the protesters happened roughly 20 minutes after Gardner took the stage at the Colorado Convention Center.

“No cuts to Medicaid, save our liberty!” chanted protesters as they interrupted Gardner during his speech.

The protesters were detained, escorted out and later released, according to a Denver Police Department spokesperson.

Denverite’s Erica Meltzer:

This is the same group and many of the same individuals who spent 58 hours in Gardner’s office in late June in an effort to secure a “no” vote on Republican health care efforts from Colorado’s Republican senator. They fear that cuts to Medicaid will endanger the community- and home-based services that allow them to live independent lives…

The activists all wore tags that showed they paid to get into the summit. A day pass costs $120.

The dogging of Cory Gardner by this determined group of activists, whose own disabilities and resultant knowledge of the health care system put them in a unique position to call out harm that would be done under bills that have introduced to repeal Obamacare, has created a liability outside Gardner’s control. Where Gardner could dismiss the large gatherings outside his office since Donald Trump took office as “paid protesters,” the ADAPT activists cannot be pigeonholed. Their concerns with the Republican agenda on health care are based on their own personal experience as long-term care patients. No one is paying them to express their concerns, because for them it is in the most literal sense possible a life-or-death question. That is why the national media found their occupation of Gardner’s offices last month so captivating.

Certainly all the public protest taking place right now matters, but these particular ADAPT disability-rights activists are taking the fight to the notoriously image-sensitive Sen. Gardner in ways that are doing critical damage–to Gardner’s image, as well as hurting support for Republican attempts to repeal Obamacare. Quite simply, they’re the most effective protesters in America today any way you measure it.

And in a nation awash in the biggest protests since the Vietnam War, that’s one hell of an accomplishment.

Weekend Open Thread

“The oblique paradox of propaganda is that the lie in the throat becomes, by repetition, the truth in the heart.”

–John Grierson

Anthony Scaramucci is a Walking, Talking Meme

New White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci in his first press briefing today.

There’s a new Sheriff in town in the White House communications office. If you thought recently-departed spokesperson Sean Spicer was full of crap…wait until you get a load of the new guy, Anthony Scaramucci.

Today the White House held its first on-camera press briefing in weeks to introduce Scaramucci, and — hoo-boy — “the Mooch” is something else. From the Washington Post:

President Trump’s decision to bring Anthony Scaramucci into a top White House role represents a remarkable political ascension for the investment veteran, who had bounced around several Republican campaigns before striking gold as a full-throated Trump supporter.

Scaramucci, known as “the Mooch,” is in many ways cut from the same cloth as his new boss. A brash New Yorker who is comfortable jousting with the media, he is a promoter who some say carries a vindictive streak…

…This would be at least the third job in the Trump administration that Scaramucci has been offered. He was set to be director of the White House’s Office of Public Engagement, but critics within the White House blocked him from ultimately taking that post.

In June, he started working in a senior role at the U.S. Export-Import Bank, but he will have been in that job for only about a month, because he will be transitioning into the White House communications job very soon.

Scaramucci is a former hedge fund executive with little actual experience in “communications,” but he doesn’t appear to have any problem creating his own “alternate facts” about President Trump.

Here in “reality,” President Trump’s approval ratings are historically bad. As ABC News notes:

Americans give President Donald Trump the lowest six-month approval rating of any president in polls dating back 70 years, punctuated by questions about his competence on the world stage, his effectiveness, the GOP health care plan and Russia’s role in the 2016 election.

Just 36 percent of Americans polled in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll approve of Trump’s job performance, down 6 points from his 100-day mark, itself a low. The previous president closest to this level at or near six months was Gerald Ford, at 39 percent, in February 1975.

Trump’s appointment of Scaramucci seems likely to actually increase the level of drama in the White House. Chief of Staff Reince Preibus is reportedly furious about “the Mooch” now taking the role of lead spokesperson, but Scaramucci seems to have figured out that there is job safety in talking nonsense so long as it is what Trump wants to hear:

You Call That A Disclaimer, George Brauchler?

George Brauchler.

An issue that crops up frequently in political races concerns the use of a candidate’s image in military uniform in materials promoting their election–along with information about their service record, rank held, etc. Department of Defense regulations are quite specific about regulating this, obliging candidates for office to clearly state that the use of such images and information does not imply an endorsement by the DoD:

Any such military information must be accompanied by a prominent and clearly displayed disclaimer that neither the military information nor photographs imply endorsement by the Department of Defense or their particular Military Department (or the Department of Homeland Security for members of the Coast Guard); e.g., “John Doe is a member of the Army National Guard. Use of his military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.”

You’ll recall that last year, then-Denver7 reporter Marshall Zelinger caught a bunch of Republican candidates, from Rep. Mike Coffman to Senate candidate Jon Keyser, using service photos with no DoD-required disclaimers whatsoever–which those candidates quickly corrected after attracting that negative press attention.

We’ve had a few occasions recently to cite 2018 GOP gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler as an example of poor online campaign execution. From letting opponents dominate Google search responses from Brauchler via better optimization to other amateurish website problems, he’s just done a crappy job online best practices-wise. With that in mind, you’ve probably seen this banner advertisement for Brauchler’s campaign now playing at the top of our website in heavy rotation:

You’ll notice that the left side of this banner ad contains a photo of Brauchler in a United States Army uniform. Now, of course we know from the above DoD policy that all such photos need to have a “prominent and clearly displayed disclaimer” stating clearly that the photo doesn’t imply any endorsement. If you look closely at the photo in this banner, you can see what looks like text in the photo–text that could be the required DoD disclaimer.

Too bad you can’t read it:

There are plenty of ways to describe this, but “prominent and clearly displayed disclaimer” is definitely not one of them! The Surgeon General’s warnings on cigarettes would have love to have a loophole like this. But seriously, folks–it’s totally illegible, which makes it totally non-compliant with DoD regulations. Yes, we get that it’s an amateurish mistake, just the latest in a series of such gaffes from Brauchler.

In fact, that’s kind of the point. As a district attorney running for governor, attention to detail and playing by the rules should be Brauchler’s calling cards. Instead, Brauchler has lost two high-profile cases since jumping into the political fray, failed pitifully at raising money out of the gate, and now appears to have just stepped on one of the most avoidable landmines (no pun intended) in electoral politics.

If you want to be taken seriously as a gubernatorial candidate, you need to (no nice way to say it) suck less.

Former state representative will consider removing fake news from her Facebook page

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

marsha looper posts fake news about muslim rape 7-17Former state Rep. Marsha Looper (R-Calhan) shared a fake news item on her Facebook page recently, with flat-out falsehoods and exaggerations about a rape that did not occur, as alleged, in Idaho

The Idaho Statesman reported:

The incident touched off months of turmoil in Twin Falls after the story was spun into a fake news account that exaggerated or flat-out falsified many of the details, including that a knife was present, the attack was perpetrated by a Syrian gang of adult men, that a rape had occurred and that the attack was celebrated by the perpetrators’ families as city officials orchestrated a cover-up.

Snopes also determined the item to be “mostly false.

See Looper’s post, from “SilenceIsConsent.net,” above.

Looper, who left office in 2012, told me today that she’d review the fact checks of the item and, if she agrees, remove it from her Facebook page.

Cory Gardner Outdoes Himself

UPDATE: In a separate story in the Denver PostJohn Ingold reports that any Senate decision to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan would virtually destroy the healthcare market in Colorado:

The repeal, as proposed in the Senate, would end in 2020 the tax credits that help many people in the individual market pay for their premiums. Also that year, it would end the extra subsidies that help low-income people pay for deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs.

But insurers, knowing that major changes are coming to the individual market, could begin pulling back this year — or asking to charge even higher rates.

—–

Sen. Cory Gardner doesn’t understand why Senate leaders don’t stand up for what they believe in. No, seriously, he really said that.

We’re not breaking any news when we say that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has been consistently full of shit when it comes to talking about Senate GOP efforts to create the worst-possible healthcare legislation imaginable. Local media outlets have increasingly figured out Gardner’s game on discussing healthcare — which is to pretend that he doesn’t know anything about anything when he gets a tough question — but Gardner is always ready to ratchet up the nonsense to another level.

Gardner spoke to Mark Matthews for a story in the Denver Post, and, well…let’s just say that you should stretch out your eyeballs so you don’t pull a muscle:

Since being named this spring to a 13-member Republican group assigned to tackle the issue, Gardner hasn’t spoken substantially about dueling plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act — not once revealing whether he would support any of the draft versions circulating on Capitol Hill…

Gardner, for his part, said he remains undecided on both proposals, though he voiced a preference for legislation that did more than simply unwind the 2010 health care law. [Pols emphasis]

“I would prefer a solution that would be a replacement for the failing Affordable Care Act,” Gardner said.

He would not say, however, whether he would vote for a straight repeal bill — even if it were a carbon copy of the 2015 legislation that he backed while President Barack Obama was in office with the power to veto it. [Pols emphasis]

“I don’t think I’m going to speculate on that, because I don’t know that’s what would come up and I don’t want to say that I’m going to vote for this, that or the other before I see it and before I know what’s in it,” Gardner said.

Okay, get ready to roll those eyes. Here it comes…

But he echoed other Republican leader in arguing the Senate should vote no matter what, even in the face of likely defeat.

“I don’t see why anybody should be concerned about fighting for legislation that they believe will do better than what we have,” Gardner said. [Pols emphasis]

You read that correctly, folks! Cory Gardner says he doesn’t understand why anyone would be afraid to stand up for what they believe is right…just after he refuses to tell the Denver Post anything about what he believes should be done on healthcare legislation.

We don’t even know what else to say here.

So Long, Spicey

CNN reporting, the long death watch for White House press secretary Sean Spicer is finally over:

White House press secretary Sean Spicer resigned Friday morning, according to three White House officials.

Spicer’s resignation came after New York financier and former Trump campaign fundraiser Anthony Scaramucci accepted the position as White House communications director.

Apparently Spicer wasn’t a fan of hiring Anthony Scaramucci, told Trump so, and resigned. But after half a year as the butt of every late-night joke in America, we have to think Spicer was only waiting for a suitable pretext. Not to mention that the reason the White House decided to end on-camera daily press briefings is pretty much, you know, all Spicey.

He’ll make a great CNN analyst.

Friday Open Thread

“When someone asks, ‘Does success make you into a monster?’ I always say, ‘No, it enables you to be a monster.'”

–Simon Cowell

Colorado Republicans Dismayed by Early Gubernatorial Sparring

GOP gubernatorial candidates: Victor Mitchell, Mitt Romney’s Nephew, and George Brauchler

As Jesse Paul writes for the Denver Post, the race for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018 is starting to get a tad prickly:

Victor Mitchell came out swinging this week in the Republican primary for Colorado governor, questioning the fundraising practices of one GOP rival and irking another by saying attorneys “shouldn’t be anywhere near the executive branch of government.”

It’s one of the first times that a candidate has gone negative in the fledgling fight for governor, and Mitchell, a millionaire businessman who served one term in the state legislature, said he doesn’t regret criticizing fellow Republicans Doug Robinson and George Brauchler.

“We have to be level with the citizens of Colorado,” Mitchell said. “The voters of Colorado deserve honest, straight-talking elected officials. We’ve got to stop pandering and start leading.”

But the barbs have touched a nerve among some Republican insiders, who said Mitchell’s early turn toward the negative does the party no favors.

Politicos regularly groan about the potential negative effects of trading barbs in a primary, while some contend that a heated debate only serves to strengthen the winning candidate heading into a General Election matchup.

What say you, Polsters?

Beauprez-Backed Organization Still Fighting Court Ruling

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

It’s been three months since a Denver judge ordered Colorado Pioneer Action (CPA), a political committee run by former U.S. Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO), to pay a $17,735 fine for violating campaign finance laws and to register formally as political committee, requiring CPA to disclose its donors.

But Beauprez hasn’t produced the cash or the names of the donors. What’s up?

After Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Robert Spencer issued his ruling that CPA failed to register and file reports as a political committee during the last election, CPA appealed, and Matt Arnold of Campaign Integrity Watchdog (CIW), which brought the case against CPA, guesses the case won’t be heard for a few months, at the earliest.

After the appeal was filed, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ office issued an “enforcement order and stay of action.”

“We have stayed the action in CPA pending appeal,” said Suzanne Staiert, Colorado Deputy Secretary of State (SOS), who signed the order, via email. “This is required under our rule. If CPA is unsuccessful, then our practice is to invoice for payment. We have no reason to believe that CPA would not pay if they lost the appeal.”

Arnold thinks Williams office should have invoiced CPA for the fine immediately after the ALJ decision, even though the case was appealed, telling me on Wednesday, “Upon imposition of the penalty, the Secretary of State should have immediately invoiced CPA for the fine, and it’s not discretionary.”

Luis Toro, Director of Colorado Ethics Watch, also reads the applicable SOS rule as only barring “enforcement actions (i.e., lawsuits to enforce the order in district court) and not referral to collections.”

“My opinion is that the Secretary has discretion to file or not file an enforcement action in district court, but that he does not have discretion to refrain from issuing a fine invoice and referring it to collections if unpaid – unless a stay is issued by the ALJ or the Court of Appeals,” Toro told me via email.

“The bottom line is that yes, unless the ALJ or the Court of Appeals issues a stay, the Secretary should send out an invoice for the unpaid fine and refer it to collections if not paid. But CIW is not prevented from filing its own enforcement lawsuit, and in fact that’s what the law contemplates when the Secretary fails to act to enforce an ALJ decision.”

Arnold is concerned that even if Beauprez loses his appeal, filed by high-powered Holland Hart, Williams won’t instruct the state collections office to get the funds from CPA.

Asked if her office has instituted a policy not to collect fines, Staiert wrote, “We do not have a policy ‘not to seek the collection of such fines’, rather we look at the assets of the committee to determine if collection is viable only after a failure to pay.”

Toro pointed out that the letter from Williams’ office “doesn’t say that Matt Arnold can’t file his own enforcement action, in fact, I read it as saying that he can do so.”

The enforcement mechanism, which could compel CPA to pay its fine, register as a political committee, and disclose its donors, is a lawsuit in district court.

Senate GOP Now 0-for-3 on CBO Scores

UPDATE: As Politico reports, Senate Republicans aren’t really getting close to coming up with a plan anyway:

Republicans felt somewhat buoyed by Wednesday’s White House meeting and late-night senators-only gathering, which left them feeling as though they’re making progress and that nearly every GOP senator is trying to get to yes.

But the math is increasingly working against them, with four Republican senators having announced opposition to starting debate — though the bill could further change — and more unannounced but likely nos. Key Senate Republicans were set to meet again on Thursday afternoon, said Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), a critic of the GOP’s latest approach. But Heller won’t be there and said he’d said staff in his place.

Sen. John McCain’s diagnosis of brain cancer also has the GOP one vote down, or at least leaves a huge question mark regarding whether the beloved Arizona Republican would be able to make the trip back to Washington. And Heller said at a GOP lunch on Thursday, there was no clarity from GOP leaders on what the party would even be voting to debate next week.

“We didn’t have a firm commitment at lunch today,” Heller said. “We still can’t figure out what the first amendment is going to be after the motion to proceed.”

—–

Senate Republicans at work on healthcare legislation.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) today released a score on another version of healthcare legislation proposed by Senate Republicans. You’re forgiven if you are starting to find this all a little redundant.

As The Hill reports:

About 22 million people would lose health insurance coverage in the next decade under the most recent revision of the Senate’s ObamaCare replacement bill, according to a new Congressional Budget Office analysis.

Because the legislation retains two of ObamaCare’s taxes, the CBO estimates it would reduce the deficit by about $420 billion by 2026.

The number of uninsured is essentially unchanged from the original draft of the legislation released last month. It’s also far more than the uninsured rate under the Affordable Care Act. [Pols emphasis]

Premiums would rise under the legislation until 2020, when they would be about 30 percent lower than under the current law. But most older people would still face higher premiums than younger people, the CBO said.

Notably, the CBO did not score an amendment added to the bill by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would let insurers opt out of ObamaCare regulations as long as they also sell ObamaCare-compliant plans.

This newest CBO score, experts say, isn’t really worth much because it doesn’t include the Cruz amendment. Without addressing the Cruz amendment, the new-but-not-really-improved-BCRA would be about as devastating to American families as the original version that was scored in late June.

Senate Republicans now have three different CBO scores on three approaches to healthcare legislation — including a score released on Wednesday for a repeal-but-not-replace bill that would leave 32 million Americans without healthcare and would double premiums for just about everybody. The BEST CASE SCENARIO legislation from the Senate GOP would lead to 22 million people losing healthcare access.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (July 20)

Get outside and enjoy the weather — just don’t forget your sunscreen. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

 

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Republicans in Washington D.C. are angry and frustrated over their inability to craft any sort of plausible legislation for repealing Obamacare, and President Trump voiced his displeasure in person during a luncheon at the White House on Wednesday. Later in the day, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its score of a Senate proposal to repeal — but not replace — Obamacare, and the numbers just keep getting worse. This proposal is similar to legislation that Senators voted on in 2015, and as the Washington Post explains, it’s pretty terrible:

Congressional budget analysts estimated Wednesday that a Senate plan to repeal part of the Affordable Care Act with no immediate replacement would increase the number of people without health coverage by 17 million next year and 32 million at the end of a decade. The forecast by the Congressional Budget Office of the impact on coverage of the Senate GOP’s latest health-care legislation is nearly identical to estimates the CBO made in January based on a similar bill that passed both the House and Senate in late 2015 – and was vetoed by then-President Barack Obama.

For those Americans who don’t lose healthcare under this proposal, premiums would DOUBLE within the next few years.

 

► Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is in Denver to take part in the right-wing ALEC legislative conference. As Luke Perkins writes for the Durango Herald:

Hundreds of Coloradans protested U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ visit in Denver on Wednesday, largely criticizing her stance on using tax dollars to fund private schools.

DeVos is in Denver to speak at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 44th annual meeting Thursday. The exchange council is a conservative organization focused on providing “model legislation” for lawmakers across the country. Like DeVos, it supports privatizing public schools.

The protest had hallmarks of a Republican versus Democratic showdown, using DeVos’ visit as the catalyst. It quickly went beyond attacks on the secretary of education and the GOP and to attacks on anyone who had promoted efforts to move funds away from traditional public schools…

…“Betsy DeVos is the worst example of these so called ‘reformers,’” said state Sen. Michael Merrifield, D-Manitou Springs. “She has never attended, worked in nor sent her children to public schools. She has no government experience and no experience in running a bureaucracy or a large organization.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is also making an appearance at the ALEC conference and will stick around to take part in the Western Conservative Summit this weekend.

 

► Attorney General Jeff Sessions is responding to some pretty negative words from President Trump. As CNN reports:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he plans to continue in his job despite President Donald Trump’s comments that he’d have picked someone else had he known Sessions would recuse himself from the Justice Department’s Russia investigation.

“We love this job. We love this department, and I plan to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate,” he told reporters Thursday.

In a New York Times interview published Wednesday, Trump second-guessed his decision to nominate Sessions, an Alabama Republican who was the first sitting senator to back the real estate mogul’s presidential bid.

“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which, frankly, I think is very unfair to the President,” Trump said, referring to himself. “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the President.” [Pols emphasis]

Trump was referring to Session’s decision to recuse himself from overseeing the FBI investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The attorney general made his decision after it became public that he had previously met on behalf of the Trump campaign with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during an event at the Republican National Convention, and later in his senate office.

As Vox.com reports, Trump’s interview with the New York Times demonstrates his complete disregard for the rule of law.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Health Care – The Start of the Republican Civil War

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Today the House Freedom Caucus announced it will seek either permission from Speaker Ryan but if that fails a discharge petition to bring a repeal bill to the floor in September to repeal Obamacare. It is a mirror image of the 2015 bill President Obama vetoed. If they go for a discharge petition, they will need 218 signatures from members of the House. Although the success of the petition is unlikely, it is their purpose that strikes me.

Congressman Meadows (R-N.C.), chair of the Freedom Caucus, wants to put moderate mainstream Republicans on the spot to see if they will vote against the same repeal they voted for in 2015 when they knew President Obama would veto it. Undoubtedly, any moderate Republican who won’t sign the discharge petition or vote for complete repeal on the floor will be targeted by the so called conservative donors and groups in the 2018 primaries.

They are going down this path even though 50% of the public supports Obamacare and far less than half that number want it repealed.

They are going down this path even though repeal will mean 32 million people will lose their health insurance according to the projection from the CBO. Many of those people reside in bright red districts, especially in the South and Midwest.

They are going down this path even though repeal means many rural hospitals in America will be forced to close leaving millions of Americans without emergency hospital services which are absolutely necessary to save lives. In many places, hospital care will be hours away.

They are going down this path even though they know that the newly uninsured will fill hospital emergency rooms which will cause insurance companies to raise the premiums of for those who have purchased insurance just so hospitals in cities can financially survive.

They are going down this path even though they know the free market will not provide affordable health insurance.

That raises the question why in the face of such awful facts, the Freedom Caucus and Mitch McConnell want to vote on a complete repeal of Obamacare which may very well cost them the majority in both houses in 2018? In both the House and Senate the purge is beginning. The so called conservatives will not tolerate or compromise with their moderate members. Any moderate who won’t vote in support of repeal will be targeted next year in the Republican primaries. Blinded by ideology they prefer civil war within the party and defeat in the next general election. It is mindless politics.

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