Get More Smarter on Thursday (September 28)

You can read this standing or kneeling. Or even sitting. 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…

President Trump and Congressional Republicans unveiled their new tax plan on Wednesday, and while the rollout was short on details, some of the major potential impacts are not hard to understand. As Vox.com reports:

Here is what you need to know about the Republican tax plan released Wednesday: It’s not a tax reform plan at all.

It is a sketch of an outline of a preliminary notion of a tax cut for some — and a tax hike for others. The components read like the jumble of ideas you might expect a table of slightly inebriated Chamber of Commerce types to shout out when polled for their tax reform suggestions…

…We can identify at least one taxpayer who will hugely benefit from the proposal: President Donald Trump. We still haven’t seen his tax returns, but thanks to leaked documents we know that at least at some point in the past, the only income tax he paid was the alternative minimum tax (the AMT). We also know that his businesses operate through “pass-through” vehicles (partnerships, LLCs and S corporations). A regular corporation pays tax on its income; shareholders in turn pay tax on the dividends they receive. In pass-through vehicles, by contrast, business income is taxed only in the hands of the owners of the business, rather than at the entity level.

The Republican tax plan eliminates the AMT, which would be a significant benefit to one Donald J. Trump.

Republican rhetoric about their tax plan is oddly reminiscent of Congressional attempts to repeal Obamacare, as NBC News explains. For more of a Colorado-based perspective, check out this analysis from 9News.

 

► Earlier this week, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) challenged former Rep. Tom Tancredo to run against him in a Republican primary in CD-6. Tancredo threw down a different gauntlet in prodding Coffman to run against him in a Republican gubernatorial primary in 2018.

 

► The big election-related news this week was Tuesday’s Republican Senate Primary in Alabama, where Roy Moore ousted establishment favorite Luther Strange by a sizable margin. Moore’s victory is causing much hand-wringing among Republican leaders who worry that right-wing candidates will be emboldened to challenge incumbent Republicans in 2018. But as CNN notes, there were two other important election results this week that portend bad news for the GOP in a General Election:

In Florida, Democrat Annette Tadeo won a Republican-held state Senate district 51% to 47%. In New Hampshire, Democrat Kari Lerner beat a former Republican state representative to fill a state House district that Donald Trump won by 23 points last November.

Those twin wins make it eight Republican-controlled state legislative seats that Democrats have flipped in 2017 alone. (Republicans flipped a Democratic state House seat in Louisiana earlier this year although Democrats didn’t even field a candidate in that race.)

That means that of the 27 Republican-held state legislative seats that have come open in 2017 to date, Democrats have now flipped almost 30% of them — a remarkable number in anycircumstance but especially so when you consider the average Trump margin in these seats in 2016 was 19 points.

Approval ratings for Republicans overall reached a record low this week, and the generic “Democrat or Republican” ballot question now has Democrats with a +9 advantage. If these trends hold, Republicans are in danger of losing both chambers in Congress next November.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Polis Lands Big Endorsement in Governor’s Race

As Joey Bunch writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

In some races, certain endorsements matter much more than others, and Jared Polis bagged a big one early in the Democratic race for governor Wednesday.

Colorado Politics is the first to report that the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers’ Colorado State Conference of Electrical Workers is backing the congressman from Boulder in the nine-candidate Democratic primary. Polis, in turn, cites the union’s role in his energy and infrastructure plans…

…While labor unions aren’t as politically potent as they used to, the endorsement remains coveted in Democratic circles.

This is a big deal for Polis, particularly in a competitive Democratic primary for Governor. Along with SEIU (nurses, janitors) and UFCW (grocery workers), the IBEW is one of the most influential labor unions in Colorado. Labor unions won’t necessarily follow the same path of candidate endorsements in a high-profile race, but landing IBEW certainly gives Polis an advantage in courting support from other labor groups.

Polis is already the frontrunner in the Democratic Primary, and endorsements like this are particularly important because of who doesn’t receive them; this is the kind of support that candidates such as Cary Kennedy and Mike Johnston desperately need in order to differentiate themselves with Democratic voters next June.

Get More Smarter on Monday (September 18)

A lot of stuff happened in the political world over the weekend; let’s get you caught up. 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…

► Senate Republicans are making a last effort at repealing Obamacare before the September 30th deadline to move the legislation under budget reconciliation. But as the Washington Post reports, the GOP still hasn’t solved its biggest issue:

Senators pushing a last-ditch Obamacare repeal effort this week are up against the same old problem: math.

This small group of Republicans — led by Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham — appear convinced they can rework the equation to secure  that ever-elusive 50th vote for their measure, finally passing a bill overhauling the Affordable Care Act with a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Pence and moving closer to their goal of repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s health-care law.

There will be a lot of moving parts to watch this week. Republicans have asked the Congressional Budget Office to rush a score of the Graham-Cassidy bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office confirmed yesterday. McConnell plans to take the temperature of his leadership team and his entire conference over the next few days. They have only two weeks left to scrape together enough support, since the budget reconciliation bill they’re using expires at the end of the month.

But despite all the noise being generated on Capitol Hill, Cassidy and Co. still appear to be shy of the vote total they’d need to succeed. Cassidy says he’s certain they have 48 or 49 Republican votes for his bill. But getting that final, 50th vote is the crucial — and the hardest — part.

 

► Colorado Republican lawmakers have been making plenty of noise lately in response to news that Gov. John Hickenlooper is calling a special legislative session for October 2. The legislature needs to fix an unintended problem related to SB-267 (Hospital Provider Fee) that is costing organizations such as RTD and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (i.e., the Denver Zoo and Museum of Natural History) millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Republicans have been all over the place on their messaging but have generally expressed manufactured outrage at the idea of a brief special session. As Colorado Pols reported late Friday, however, GOP lawmakers already knew about this problem and had even filed draft legislation to fix the error — which pretty well destroys any argument that the special session isn’t necessary.

 

► Corey Hutchins does a nice job explaining the redistricting/reapportionment controversy for the Colorado Independent.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 13)

Go away, (Hurricane) Jose. 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…

► Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is introducing a “Medicare for All” healthcare plan today with significant support from well-known Senate Democrats. As the Washington Post reports:

Sanders’s bill, the Medicare for All Act of 2017, has no chance of passage in a Republican-run Congress. But after months of behind-the-scenes meetings and a public pressure campaign, the bill is already backed by most of the senators seen as likely 2020 Democratic candidates — if not by most senators facing tough reelection battles in 2018.

The bill would revolutionize America’s health-care system, replacing it with a public system that would be paid for by higher taxes. Everything from emergency surgery to prescription drugs, from mental health to eye care, would be covered, with no co-payments. Americans younger than 18 would immediately obtain “universal Medicare cards,” while Americans not currently eligible for Medicare would be phased into the program over four years. Employer-provided health care would be replaced, with the employers paying higher taxes but no longer on the hook for insurance.

Private insurers would remain, with fewer customers, to pay for elective treatments such as cosmetic surgery — a system similar to that in Australia, which President Trump has praised for having a “much better” insurance regimen than the United States.

Republicans will immediately point to projections showing big tax increases under such a plan, but Americans might actually end up saving money in this scenario because of the reduction or elimination of copays, premiums, and deductibles.

On Tuesday, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy announced her support for a “Medicaid for All” proposal in Colorado.

 

► Jefferson County Republicans are mad as hell (at Republicans) and they’re not above issuing toothless threats to prove it! As Ernest Luning writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

The Jefferson County Republican Party is demanding Congress immediately repeal the Affordable Care Act or, if it can’t, to elect new congressional leadership.

A strongly worded resolution adopted unanimously by the county party’s executive committee Monday night maintains that the failure of congressional Republicans to overturn the sweeping health care legislation known as Obamacare “has caused great consternation and angst among registered Republicans in Jefferson County” and put GOP candidates “in great election peril.”

The county party is giving Congress until Nov. 1 to “repeal the abominable legislation,” but if Republicans “fail to meet our demand … and continue in their deceit of the voters,” the Jefferson County GOP want different Republicans in charge of the House and Senate…

…“[I]t is imperative that we differentiate ourselves from the National GOP,” the county party wrote on Facebook Tuesday. “Otherwise, our local and state candidates will be painted with the same brush as the GOP in Washington. Those in Washington are not doing what they promised, and we intend to hold their feet to the fire.”

The irony is strong with this one. By unanimously demanding that Congress immediately repeal Obamacare, the Jefferson County Republican Party has painted every one of its 2018 candidates into a tight little corner.

 

► Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is in Colorado today touring schools, and will finish her visit with a visit to the Air Force Academy this afternoon.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Friday (September 8)

In these times of escalating partisan rancor, it’s nice to know that we can all come together in a shared dislike of Tom Brady. 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…

► Congress this morning gave final approval to a $15 billion disaster relief package in the wake of Hurricane Harvey…just as Hurricane Irma prepares to throttle Florida. President Trump is apparently quite excited that his show of “bipartisanship” this week has attracted so much positive media coverage. As NBC News reports:

Trump expressed that he was thrilled with the positive news coverage the debt limit deal had received, a senior Democratic aide told NBC News.

“The people of the United States want to see a coming together, at least to an extent. We’re different parties, we have different thoughts, different feelings, different ideas. But I think you’re coming to see a much stronger coming together,” Trump told reporters at the White House Thursday.

Earlier in the day he said he looks forward to working with both Republicans and Democrats.

You’re a good wittle President, aren’t you? Yes, you are! 

 

► Anyway, back to the hurricane news…As the New York Times reports, nearly the entire state of Florida is in danger from one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded:

One of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded crescendoed over the Caribbean on Thursday, crumpling islands better known as beach paradises into half-habitable emergency zones and sideswiping Puerto Rico before churning north. It is expected to hit the Florida Keys and South Florida by Saturday night…

…Gov. Rick Scott of Florida urged extreme caution in the face of a powerful storm that could quickly change course. “Every Florida family must prepare to evacuate regardless of the coast you live on,” he said.

Hurricane Irma is the size of France — like, the entire country. Miami could take a near-direct hit by Sunday morning.

Meanwhile, a third potentially major hurricane, Jose, is right on the heels of Irma. And a major 8.1 magnitude earthquake was recorded off the southern coast of Mexico.

 

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) has already dropped his plans to push a discharge petition for a House vote on DACA. As The Hill reports:

Coffman said he made an agreement with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to hold off on gathering support for his discharge petition for the bill, which would extend protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for three years.

Coffman filed the discharge petition on Tuesday, which would need 218 signatures to trigger a House floor vote. Discharge petitions are typically used by the House minority party to bring attention to legislation ignored by the majority-party leadership — but are rarely successful.

For a member of the House majority like Coffman to file a discharge petition was an exceedingly rare move.

If you were cynical about Coffman’s newfound commitment to DACA, well, go ahead and say, “I told you so.”

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman — Mike Coffman’s former spouse — doesn’t want any part of the controversy surrounding President Trump’s decision to end the DACA program for children of undocumented immigrants. Elsewhere, a group of 11 Democratic Governors are urging Congress to take swift action to assist DREAMERS.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Trump Sides with Democrats on Debt Limit Plan

We didn’t see that coming.

President Trump is siding with Congressional Democrats on a proposal to extend the debt limit for a few months. As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump confounded leaders from his own party on Wednesday by siding with Democrats on plans to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling, upending negotiations on a variety of crucial policy areas this fall and further damaging relationships with Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Trump made his position clear at a White House meeting with congressional leaders on Wednesday, agreeing with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) by voicing support for a three-month bill to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling for the same amount of time…

…Republican leaders pushed for a 18 month debt limit hike and then floated doing a six-month extension, according to two aides briefed on the meeting. But Pelosi and Schumer dismissed the six month proposal and Trump then agreed to the three month hike that Democrats put on the table.

Congressional Republicans were hoping to just do one vote on the debt limit that could contain this discussion and prevent multiple different extensions.

 

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 30)

Congress doesn’t return to work until next week, but President Trump’s tax reform proposal is already in big trouble. 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…

► Whether it is a “hurricane” or a “tropical storm,” Harvey continues to batter Texas and now Louisiana; the storm made its second landfall on Wednesday morning, just west of the town of Cameron, Louisiana. As the New York Times reports:

Five days after the pummeling began — a time when big storms have usually blown through, the sun has come out, and evacuees have returned home — Tropical Storm Harvey refused to go away, battering southeast Texas even more on Tuesday, spreading the destruction into Louisiana and shattering records for rainfall and flooding.

Along 300 miles of Gulf Coast, people poured into shelters by the thousands, straining their capacity; as heavy rain kept falling, some rivers were still rising and floodwater in some areas had not crested yet; and with whole neighborhoods flooded, others were covered in water for the first time.

Officials cautioned that the full-fledged rescue-and-escape phase of the crisis, usually finished by now, would continue, and that they still had no way to gauge the scale of the catastrophe — how many dead, how many survivors taking shelter inland or still hunkered down in flooded communities, and how many homes destroyed.

The Mayor of Port Arthur, outside of Houston, said on social media this morning that “our whole city is underwater right now.”

 

► While the response to Harvey is still focused on search and rescue operations, there is a growing political storm brewing for Republican Members of Congress from Texas who opposed federal relief for Hurricane Sandy (which hit the Northeastern U.S. in 2013). New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is not holding back in his criticism of the bunch, as CNN reports:

“I have no sympathy for this — and I see Sen. Cruz and it’s disgusting to me that he stands in a recovery center with victims standing behind him as a backdrop,” he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day.” “He’s still repeating the same reprehensible lies about what happened in Sandy (and) called on Congress Wednesday morning to work fast on a bill to aid Texas after Hurricane Harvey.”

Cruz said Monday he voted against a 2013 Sandy relief bill because it was “a $50 billion bill filled with pork and unrelated spending that wasn’t hurricane relief.”…

…A Washington Post fact check, however, has disputed Cruz’s claim.
“It is wildly incorrect to claim that the bill was ‘filled with unrelated pork.’ The bill was largely aimed at dealing with Sandy, along with relatively minor items to address other or future disasters,” the Post fact check concluded.

“Let me be very clear about this: Sen. Cruz was playing politics in 2012, trying to make himself look like the biggest conservative in the world,” Christie said. “And what I said at the time, both to him and everybody else, was if you represent a coastal state, don’t do this because your day is going to come and you’re going to expect people to help you.”

 

President Trump has promised to end the DACA immigration program enacted under former President Obama, but as Politico reports, Trump has some conflicting emotions on the idea:

The president has waffled between his campaign pledge to kill the policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and his sympathy for the nearly 800,000 people whose lives could be upended if it’s repealed, aides say.

As an unofficial Sept. 5 deadline looms, there are growing signs that Trump will decide to phase out the program. But administration officials say he remains conflicted, trying to find a middle ground that balances his instinct to be tough on immigration and his personal feelings.

Trump’s final decision could drastically change the lives of the country’s “Dreamers.” Participants in the program — which permits some people who were brought to the United States as children to live and work in the country temporarily — worry they could lose their jobs or be subject to possible deportation if the program is suddenly ended.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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So You Want To Shut Down The Government Again, Do You?

UPDATE: As Chris Cillizza reports for CNN, Congressional Republicans know that a government shutdown would be politically devastating for them — but they might not be able to stop it:

The problem is obvious. If Trump goes hard on his demand for border wall funding — White House types insist he is very serious about doing so, but he is also incredibly mercurial and changeable — he would likely have the House Freedom Caucus and a decent-sized chunk of conservative senators on his side. Which would mean that Ryan and McConnell would have to pass a government funding bill with lots of Democratic votes. And that Trump could veto whatever they passed and — wait for it — that they almost certainly wouldn’t have the votes to overturn that veto.

If you’re saying to yourself, “Trump would never do that to his own party,” stop and look back at the last two years. And if you are a Republican, get ready — because the next month is going to be a very bumpy ride.

—–

Denver7’s Marc Stewart tallies the potential damage in the event that President Donald Trump’s threats to precipitate a shutdown of the federal government to force Congress to approve funds for a wall on the nation’s southern border come true:

Data from the Colorado Department of Labor shows roughly 40,000 federal workers in the state could be eligible to file for unemployment.

Such a move could touch everyday life in Colorado…

Rocky Mountain National Park could also be stung in a shutdown.

The natural treasure was closed for more than a week in 2013. It was reopened using money from the state.

“The notion of shutting down the federal government when policy decisions don’t go one’s way is inconceivable. We will be prepared should there be any kind of temporary shutdown that harms Colorado citizens or impacts critical services,” said Colorado governor John Hickenlooper.

The 2013 federal government shutdown could have been far worse for Colorado, coming on the heels of devastating flooding in the state that necessitated federal help–and also further reduced tourism to the state even beyond the cancelled bookings from shutting the state’s national parks and monuments. The state’s extraordinary action to fund Rocky Mountain National Park’s operations during the shutdown was a lifeline to tourism-dependent towns like Estes Park, but the added stress from the avoidable crisis of the shutdown in an already difficult period left bitter memories.

And that’s the just harm most immediately visible to the outside world. The disruption to federal facilities and the lives of federal employees across the state, with their own rippling economic effects, all take their toll.

Who’s ready to shut it down again over Trump’s border wall? We don’t see this going over well in Estes Park.

Rep. Ken Buck – Still lying, but nicely

Representative Buck is a good communicator. His conversational skills were on display in his Sterling Town Hall on July 29, 2017.  He does not always tell the truth, and his point of view is limited to what one would expect from one of the ten most conservative members of the House of Representatives, and proud member of the ultra-right wing Freedom Caucus.  I’ve listed Buck’s lies and lies by omission below.

Buck handles these town halls well – he doesn’t get flustered when confronted, and  stayed in control with a crowd that was at least 50% Democratic and progressive. The impromptu town hall in Longmont got a little rowdier, but Buck still kept his cool.  I’d call the overall tone of the Sterling meeting “polite but firm” , for all parties involved.

Over the course of the  one hour town hall meeting, Buck and his constituents discussed the budget process, the health care bills past, present, and future, education, water law, Bitcoin and “crypto-currency”, renewable energy, constitutional convention, the VA hospital, and civility in politics. I’ve highlighted some of the places in which Representative Buck strayed from the truth.

  • At 22:59, during a renewable energy discussion , Buck said that he’s against mandates, not renewable energy, even though Colorado now gets 24% of its electricity from wind and solar, and wind turbine jobs are the fastest growing job category in the country. . He was unable to justify his statement that renewable energy is hurting Coloradans and costing them money.
  • At 30:00 Buck says he’s against unfunded mandates in education, but doesn’t commit to fund them.
  • At 39:00, Buck lies about how much ACA coverage cost in 2014. (ACA = $1800, wife’s plan =$108 – but not mentioning that the  Federal Government subsidizes all congressmembers health at 90%, so his remaining 10% cost would have been $180/mo). If you recall, Cory Gardner  tried to scam voters with this same BS, and was never able to show any proof that his ACA payment was more expensive than his private plan.
  • At 40:00 Rep. Buck says he wants to drive down costs of premiums & deductibles, but neglects to mention that the House AHCA bill would have driven those way up for consumers.
  • At 49:45 , he says we should encourage people to be healthier and drive down health care costs that way (but the bill he supported would have eliminated ACA’s preventative medicine coverage).
  • Buck told a LIE again at 51:13 when he said that the GOP congress “never attempted to repeal and replace” Obamacare. The GOP Congress voted over 50 times to “repeal the ACA, and Buck personally voted 3X since he was elected in 2014 to repeal the ACA.
  • Again, at 53: 00 when Buck is asked what can be done about the lack of civility in DC, he blames the media for publicizing sensational stories, not a Republican administration which refuses to work across the aisle, nor a President who models terrible and uncivil behavior.
  • At 53:30, Buck is asked about his book Drain the Swamp, and  if it is true that he wants to change the Constitution. He replies that he would like to have a Constitutional Convention, but only to get a balanced budget and term limits. Whew. It’s not like there are any Koch brothers or nuts out there who want a Con-con just to repeal the last two centuries of progress.

Ken Buck apparently also has access to the Trump White House connection to Breitbart public relations  services. Buck’s humorous “Cut the Debt” video

features Trey Gowdy, Mia Love, Ted Cruz, and other Congress members, and promotes his point of view that cutting the national debt is an urgent priority. It was a front page Breitbart story on 3/15/2017.

Ken Buck is still one of the most conservative members of Congress. People running against him need to confront him on policy and votes. He’s not stupid or undisciplined – he’s not going to curse anyone out or get into a sex or money scandal. He’ll be a formidable foe not least because he is so “nice” and “personable”. Candidates running against him need to be prepared to confront him on votes, policies, and facts, stay polite and respectful, but call his lies out when necessary.

Representative Buck has other town hall meetings scheduled. See his website for updates.

Good news! July 1-7, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This diary is about small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine, and categories often overlap.

Attorneys General across the country (including Colorado’s Coffman)  are claiming that they will check Big Pharma’s pushing of opiods, “clear the swamp”, ensure fair voting, and protect transgender people. AGs be aware – people will check to see that you follow through on your promises.

Voting rights roundup

flag with I voted

Image by debaird on flikr

Fourth of July, Fireworks, and the Franchise – what could be more patriotic? Voting seems to be on everyone’s minds right now.

Alabama seeks to inform felons of restored voting rights in jail

Kentucky also ordered the voting rights of 284 felons to be restored.

Kris Kobach, Vice-Chair of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity,  requested that all 50 states send him their voter information by July 14 so that the Commission can create a national voter registry to prevent what he claims is rampant voter fraud.

Unfortunately, rather than creating a process to make it easier for voters to register and vote, the Commission’s goal appears to be to selectively disenfranchise voters. The good news is that 45 states now have refused to provide part or all of the information requested. President Trump is not pleased, and has let us know this in his usual way.

Alison Lundergan Grimes, KY Secretary of State said that there is  “not enough bourbon in Kentucky” to make  Trump’s request seem sensible.

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann suggested that, “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from…”

Floridians are also petitioning to restore voting rights to felons.

Colorado’s Secretary of State Wayne Williams is trying to have it both ways  –  comply with Trump’s request, while still protecting the privacy of Colorado voters by supplying only publicly available information. Many voters are choosing to keep their data confidential by filing a form and paying $5 at the Secretary of State’s Office.

Voters seldom commit fraud in Colorado – but when they do, they are usually Republicans.

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Good News! June 16-23, 2017

(Because Lord knows we can use some – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This was a hard week to write “Good News” for. Still, there was some.

Small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate…that’s what this diary is about. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine.

This week, it’s all about the heat, voters, immigrant rights, cannabis, and beer. Farmer’s markets. Buying local. No sports news, because the only sports I halfway understand are basketball and baseball. Anything else, I’m the one looking at you to see when to stand up and cheer.

Environmental / energy

It’s freaking hot in Colorado, especially on the western slope , down south, and in Denver, but the head of the EPA won’t say if climate change is a hoax, although his boss says it is.

Good news: It’s not as hot as Phoenix’s 119 degrees . Even AZ Sen. McCain thinks this global warming thing is the real deal.   Plastic mailboxes are melting in Arizona – it’s that hot.  (Photo from reddit, via Buzzfeed)

 

MacGregor Ranch is piloting a program to work closely with the NRCS to cut underbrush and mitigate wildfire risk, since it is so freaking hot in Colorado. Drought and wildfires are the two main hazards Colorado experiences from climate change. Here’s the video from the pilot project.

Virgin Mobile and several other big retailers are planning to conserve energy by running their trucking fleets more efficiently.

Coal India, the world’s largest coal mining company, will shut down 37 of its mines that are no longer economically viable. The lost energy will be replaced mainly with solar.

Clean energy jobs remain the fastest-growing employment sector in Colorado  – with 62,000 added last year.  65% of those jobs are in energy efficiency.   This all helps Colorado to have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation at 2.3%.    Rates for youth under 24 were at 6%, and for Hispanics at 5%, still lower than most other states.

There’s still some good fishing around Colorado. Get’em while there’s still water enough to fish in.

And you can drive to your fishing spot on roads you won’t have to pay an extra tax on, per the Colorado Business Coalition. Amendment 267 passed, funding $3 Billion for road repair and maintenance; however, $10 billion was needed. Where will that come from?

The “Dog Days” are  approaching. If you see poor Puddles panting in a hot car, you can break in to save the pet – but not legally,  in Colorado, until August.

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Buck Blasts U.S. Chamber of Commerce

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Ken Buck (R).

The schism between business groups and some members of the Republican Party in Colorado came into sharp focus Saturday when U.S. Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), speaking on conservative radio, lit into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In an interview about his book Drain the Swamp, Buck was asked by KNUS 710-AM’s Chuck Bonniwell about the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Listen, hour 3, at 15 min)

“They are one of the big problems in Washington DC,” replied Buck. “They affirmatively go after conservatives. Tim Huelskamp lost his seat in the western district of Kansas because of the U.S. Chamber targeting Tim as a conservative, and defeating him. They play, and they play very hard. We have some groups on the right, like Club for Growth, that also target folks. But, you know, the Chamber is a corporate cronyist organization that promotes corporate interests at the expense of conservative values. There are a lot of stories to tell about the swamp, and if I didn’t mention the Chamber, they certainly deserve to be mentioned.”

A spokesman from the Chamber promised to return my call with the Chamber’s decision on whether to respond to Buck.

Syndicated right-wing columnist Michelle Malkin, who resides in Colorado, has a similar view of the Chamber, writing in 2014. “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a politically entrenched synod of special interests. These fat cats do not represent the best interests of American entrepreneurs, American workers, American parents and students, or Americans of any race, class, or age who believe in low taxes and limited government. The chamber’s business is the big business of the Beltway, not the business of mainstream America.”

Buck’s comments came after some Republicans in the Colorado General Assembly appeared to anger business groups by voting against a measure that classified a hospital fee as a business enterprise within the Colorado budget, freeing millions of dollars for health, transportation, and other state priorities.

After his vote against the legislation, which passed, State Sen. Ray Scott (R-Alamosa) alleged that the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce was so angry at him that the organization refused to read Scott’s letter about the General Assembly session at an annual breakfast.

Scott wrote on Facebook that he’s either “chopped liver” or, according to Scott, “they wanted to see how many would notice” [his absence from the meeting].

Good news! Week of June 11- 17, 2017

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Small victories, local heroes, sweet stories, random kindnesses, unexpected grace, cold justice served up on a hot plate…that’s what this diary is about. As always, your interpretation of what is “good news” is probably different than mine. And that’s fine. Something I’m missing? Add it in the comments.

LGBT:

Massive Marches may move us, but the  biggest and gayest parade this year in Colorado will be Pridefest, this Sunday June 18. Civic Center Park will host the celebration all weekend. For your daily minimum requirement of fabulousness, go to Pridefest Denver. (Photo from 2016 Pridefest, Wikipedia Commons)

Pridefest Denver 2016 -from Wikipedia commons

LGBT hero: One of the Capitol Police agents wounded in the recent terrorist attack in DC was Crystal Griner, a married lesbian woman. Griner and her fellow officers, including David Bailey , rushed the shooter, taking him down and preventing a massacre.

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At Least He’s Not Your Governor

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

For the last few years under ultra-conservative Gov. Sam Brownback, our neighbors in Kansas have been part of an experiment to see what happens if you do what conservative lawmakers from coast to coast say they want: cut taxes, cut them a lot, and then keep cutting in hope that if you cut taxes enough eventually more money will flow into state coffers to pay for the stuff that matters.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, it didn’t work:

The grand economic experiment on the prairie has ended.

Kansas’ Republican-held Legislature delivered a stunning defeat to Republican Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday, voting to demolish his massive tax cut that led to massive budget shortfalls and sent Kansas into a political tailspin.

It was a Waterloo moment for the conservative second-term governor, who refused to back down from the tea-party-inspired plan he signed in 2012 to promote business growth in the state.

After the Legislature passed a bill Tuesday morning, just after midnight, to roll back most of Brownback’s tax agenda, the governor exercised his veto power to kill it. But a coalition of Republicans and Democrats united Tuesday night to override the veto with a two-third’s majority in both chambers.

You see, rather than fulfilling the long-held conservative axiom that cutting taxes increases overall tax revenue by stimulating economic growth, in Kansas the Brownback tax cuts plunged the state into a fully avoidable fiscal crisis. Instead of growing revenues, the state faced an almost $900 million deficit for the coming fiscal year–a hard reality that forced Republican lawmakers to take action counter to their ideological convictions.

But Gov. Brownback, more or less by himself, refuses to concede he was in the wrong:

“The state has taken a big step backwards,” Brownback said. “I think it’s the wrong philosophy. I just think this is the wrong way for us to go.”

…Brownback said a lot of people mistakenly made the override votes on tax policy about the governor himself.

“But it’s not about me. It’s about Kansas. It’s about the future of the state. It’s about which way we want to go. Do we want to be a high-tax, low-growth or no-growth state? Or a pro-growth state?” Brownback said.

In the end, Kansas decided it wants to be a functional state. It seems to us there is no more important foundation for growth. The “experiment” of Kansas slashing taxes for the sake of slashing taxes is now a cautionary tale, showing again how the excesses of theoretical ideology can prove destructive in the real world.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (June 6)

Do not cuddle up with your chickens. 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…

► President Trump is…ugh. From the New York Times:

President Trump thrust himself into a bitter Persian Gulf dispute on Tuesday, claiming credit for Saudi Arabia’s move to isolate its smaller neighbor, Qatar, which is a major American military partner.

“During my recent trip to the Middle East I stated that there can no longer be funding of Radical Ideology,” Mr. Trump said in a morning post on Twitter. “Leaders pointed to Qatar — look!”

On Monday, Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen broke diplomatic and commercial ties with Qatar, citing its support for terrorist groups. Mr. Trump, who made the cutting of terrorist funding a centerpiece of his trip to Saudi Arabia in May, said he was responsible…

…Mr. Trump’s Twitter messages also appeared to contradict that of the American ambassador to Qatar, Dana Shell Smith, who tweeted earlier in the week that Qatar had made “great progress” in curbing financial support for terrorists. Both Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been previously accused of support for extremist militants.

At the Pentagon, some Defense Department officials said they were taken aback by Mr. Trump’s decision to thrust the United States into the middle of a fight with its close partners, particularly given the American military’s deep ties to Qatar.

We can’t even…

 

 If the Super Bowl and Election Day were held at the same time, it might approximate the level of coverage you can expect to see on Thursday when former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee. All of the major television networks will cover the Comey hearings LIVE, and you can be sure that there will be many hours worth of follow-up news coverage throughout the rest of the day. Corey’s testimony is scheduled to begin at 8:00 am (MST) on Thursday.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) will have dinner tonight at the White House with “Two Scoops” Trump. From the Denver Post:

President Donald Trump plans to discuss foreign policy — including his first overseas trip as chief executive — during a Tuesday night dinner at the White House with U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado and five other congressional Republicans…

…The dinner also could provide a platform for Gardner to talk about his own overseas travels, including a controversial meeting with Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte that Gardner said last week included a discussion of Duterte’s brutal crackdown on drug dealers and users that’s left thousands dead. Trump has praised that bloody approach and has invited Duterte to the White House in the future.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall for this dinner meeting…So, Cory, how about that Duterte fellow?

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…