At Risk

The Senate health care bill is not in Colorado’s best interests. Call our Senators and let them know that.

Cory Gardner – (303) 391-5777
Michael Bennet – (303) 455-7600

Get More Smarter on Monday (July 10)

Can we just declare July “Fried Chicken Month?” One day just isn’t enough. 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…

► Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock…President Trump’s Russia problem is only growing larger by the day. The New York Times dropped a bombshell on the story over the weekend with news that Donald Trump, Jr. and other leaders of Trump’s campaign met with a Russian lawyer after being promised “dirt” on Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. As a follow-up story in the New York Times explains:

President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before agreeing to meet with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer during the 2016 campaign, according to three advisers to the White House briefed on the meeting and two others with knowledge of it.

The meeting was also attended by the president’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul J. Manafort, as well as by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Mr. Manafort and Mr. Kushner recently disclosed the meeting, though not its content, in confidential government documents described to The New York Times…

…The meeting — at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, two weeks after Donald J. Trumpclinched the Republican nomination — points to the central question in federal investigations of the Kremlin’s meddling in the presidential election: whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. The accounts of the meeting represent the first public indication that at least some in the campaign were willing to accept Russian help.

While President Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and the Russians, the episode at Trump Tower is the first such confirmed private meeting involving his inner circle during the campaign — as well as the first one known to have included his eldest son.

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) is calling for Donald Trump Jr. to speak with the Senate Intelligence Committee about the reported meeting.

 

► You can set aside the “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” analogy for the moment, because as The Atlantic reports, “If there was no collusion, it wasn’t for lack of trying.” Trump Jr. initially claimed that the point of the alleged meeting was to discuss issues of adoption under the Magnitsky Act…but that was only the initial explanation:

Trump Jr. then changed his story, claiming he’d been promised only information relevant to the campaign, by an intermediary he met at the 2013 Miss Universe pageant, owned by his father and hosted in Moscow. (The Washington Post later identified him as Rob Goldstone, a music publicist who said he was working on behalf of an unnamed Russian client.) Trump Jr. brought his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and then-Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort to the meeting. He said that attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya offered him damaging information about Hillary Clinton, but that when it became clear she did not have the goods, he ended the meeting…

…In other words, Trump Jr. admitted (while acknowledging a prior lie) that he was open to receiving damaging information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian lawyer; he was just frustrated that she didn’t seem to have it. If there was no collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump inner circle, it was not because top Trump aides were against it.

Trump Jr.’s admission here is remarkable. Donald Trump’s tendency to speak unwisely remains one of his greatest weaknesses—his threat to release apparently fictive tapes resulted in a special-counsel investigation that has rocked his still-young presidency—and his children are a chip off the old block. (Eric Trump has admitted, contra claims of separation, that he continues to talk business with his father.)

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has always tried to present himself as a “moderate” or “centrist” Republican, but as the Denver Post writes, the Trumpcare debate has shown Gardner’s true colors — and they are all red. From Mark Matthews:

Though the bill’s final language remains in flux, there is little doubt in Colorado political circles about where Gardner will stand at the end of the day — despite Gardner not taking a public position on the first Senate version when it was released in late June.

“In the end Colorado conservatives know that Cory Gardner is going to vote to repeal Obamacare and when there is a final bill Cory Gardner is going to be there,” said Guy Short, a political consultant and longtime Colorado delegate to the Republican National Convention.

ICYMI, Gardner spoke to a small group of constituents in a phone call on Thursday. Gardner’s answers to several pointed healthcare questions were astonishingly awful.

As for healthcare legislation, Congressional Republicans are back at work this week after the July 4th recess, and there are plenty of signs that Trumpcare is in trouble on Capitol Hill. Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain said over the weekend that the healthcare legislation is “probably going to be dead.”

 

► Don’t miss the newest episode of The Get More Smarter Show, featuring an interview with state Rep. Alec Garnett (D-Denver).

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Darryl Glenn to Join Primary Race in CD-5

Darryl Glenn

The Unicorn rides again! Ernest Luning has the scoop for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, the Republican nominee for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat last year, notified GOP insiders on Friday that he plans to run for the 5th Congressional District seat held by six-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn in next year’s election, Colorado Politics has learned.

“Colleagues, I want to give you a courtesy heads up before the rumors start that I will be jumping into the Congressional District 5 race within a few weeks,” Glenn said in a text message sent Friday morning to prominent Republicans and obtained by Colorado Politics. “A lot has happened over the last week to move me to running. Have a great day. Darryl”

Glenn becomes the third candidate in the race in the GOP Primary in CD-5, just one day after state Sen. Owen Hill announced a record fundraising haul for Q2 in his own bid for Congress.

Incumbent Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) was first elected in this ultra-safe Republican district in 2006. Lamborn has since been re-elected every two years, but he is such an unpopular dolt that he can never seem to prevent a Republican Primary. Hill jumped into the race in early April and seems to be off to a good start…yet, we’ve been here before. Over the last decade Lamborn has always found a way to crawl into the General Election, where there is virtually no chance of a Republican candidate losing in November.

Could 2018 be different? Lamborn may have a more difficult road to re-election now that a third candidate with strong name ID among Republicans has entered the fray. We’ve said many times in this space that Glenn is the worst statewide candidate in Colorado history; you can make an argument for others (we’re looking at you, Dan Maes), but it’s fair to say that you can’t discuss this topic without including Glenn at the very top of your list. However, Glenn should be familiar to Colorado Springs-area voters after serving two terms as an El Paso County Commissioner prior to his surprise GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2016.

Whenever you have a primary with at least three known entities on the ballot, strange things can happen. Enjoy the ride.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (June 29)

Which country will Sen. Cory Gardner visit next week so that he doesn’t have to show his face in Colorado? 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…

► If you’re looking for other reasons for why the GOP healthcare bill is in so much trouble, you won’t be lacking for ideas. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post singles out an interesting moment on Capitol Hill when Republican Senators first learned of the devastating CBO score on their proposed legislation…and were curiously surprised that the news was so bleak:

If GOP Senators expected the Senate bill to achieve “greater distance” from the House bill, then they were either not reckoning with the fundamental underlying realities of what GOP health reform is trying to accomplish, or they were hoping for some magical formula to materialize that would obscure those realities from view. Here is the basic math: If you are going to cut Obamacare’s taxes on rich people by hundreds of billions of dollars, you are going to have to roll back an enormous chunk of the law’s massive coverage expansion…

…Yet the Post report indicates that Republican Senators were surprised to learn that the CBO concluded that their bill would indeed carry out this trade-off. And they responded by dividing into two camps — one that would attack the purveyor of dispassionate, empirical analysis that had confirmed this to be the case; and one that thought this was futile, because the argument could not be won [Pols emphasis], once voters back home learned how many people would lose coverage under their bill. But why did they expect any other outcome in the first place?

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is firmly entrenched in the first camp listed above; Gardner is desperately trying to brush off the CBO score as unimportant.

 

► A separate story in the Washington Post offers a simpler explanation for the GOP’s healthcare woes:

White House officials and Trump loyalists saw a president diving in to patch up strife and save legislation that had been curbed in the Senate. Some seasoned senators, however, saw a president unable to grasp policy details or the obstacles ahead, and talked with each other after the gathering about what they saw as a bizarre scene. That Republican disconnect has been a constant ever since the Senate health bill was unveiled…

…Instead of moving happily toward passage of the party’s rallying cry, Republicans are frozen and unsure of the political cost of passing the Senate bill — especially with swing voters who in many states have come to rely on aspects of Obamacare and its expansion of Medicaid.

As Politico reports, Senate Republican leaders are still trying to salvage their healthcare bill by offering billions of dollars in sweeteners to address the opioid crisis. Critics of such proposals include Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, who has said that a few billion dollars for short-term opioid treatment is a “drop in the bucket” compared the the massive financial losses that would be inflicted by decimating Medicaid budgets.

Here in Colorado, Republicans are having plenty of trouble trying to figure out how to explain why the GOP healthcare legislation is not terrible. Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) either doesn’t understand the healthcare bills — or he is flat-out lying to his constituents — when he says that nobody who qualifies for Medicaid will lose that coverage. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) keeps peddling nonsense talking points about rising costs under Obamacare — while failing to mention the fact that insurance rates would rise significantly more under the Republican healthcare proposals.

 

► As the New York Times explains, we finally have a bit more clarification on how President Trump’s Muslim travel ban will be implemented:

Stepsiblings and half-siblings are allowed, but not nieces or nephews. Sons- and daughters-in-law are in, but brothers- and sisters-in-law are not. Parents, including in-laws, are considered “close family,” but grandparents are not.

The State Department issued new guidelines Wednesday night to American embassies and consulates on applying a limited travel ban against foreign visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries. Enforcement of the guidelines will begin at 8 p.m. Eastern on Thursday.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (June 28)

Few things have become as strange as the daily White House press briefing.  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 are scrambling to figure out their next steps after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell abruptly announced on Tuesday that the Senate healthcare bill (“The Better Care Reconciliation Act”) would not be rushed to a vote before Congress takes its July 4th holiday recess at the end of the week.

As the Washington Post explains, Republicans are having trouble finding a reason to push forward with a terrible healthcare bill:

Amid a revolt against the Senate health-care bill, supporters have seized upon something of a last-ditch argument: Whatever you think of this bill, they say, you owe it to your voters. Republicans have been promising for years to repeal and replace Obamacare, the argument goes, and not passing this bill will mean they will have broken their promise.

There is one big problem with that strategy: The GOP base doesn’t seem to see it that way.

Not only aren’t Republican voters particularly keen on this bill, but polls suggest they wouldn’t even blame their Republican members of Congress for failing to close the deal.

A new poll (Marist/NPR) shows that 55% of Americans disapprove of the Senate healthcare plan, with only 17% in favor of the bill. The polling trend lines have shown consistent downward movement.

As Politico reports, the Senate healthcare bill is not dead…yet…while the editorial board of the New York Times says the GOP’s “healthcare hoax” has been exposed.

 

► Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has been in Washington D.C. alongside a bipartisan group of Governors in opposition to the Senate healthcare bill. Hickenlooper and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, held a news conference on Tuesday that was highly critical of GOP healthcare efforts that would include devastating cuts to Medicaid. Hickenlooper specifically called out Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) in his remarks.

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is pushing back against Republican claims that Democrats are refusing to work with the GOP on healthcare legislation. Bennet took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to hammer this point home.

 

► A group of protestors with disabilities have been camping out at the Denver office of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) since late Tuesday in an effort to persuade Gardner to oppose the Republican Senate healthcare bill. Gardner has been bullish on the Senate bill despite Monday’s awful score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which estimated the legislation would cut health coverage for at least 22 million Americans.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Monday (June 26)

If you’re looking to hire some interns for the summer, please don’t do this. 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…

► Today is another big day in the healthcare policy debate. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected to announce the results of its examination of the Republican Senate healthcare bill, also known as “The Better Care Reconciliation Act.” The Washington Post offers a good primer on what to look for in the CBO announcement.

The CBO score is expected to show, once again, that Republicans are dealing with a math problem — and not a messaging problem — when it comes to healthcare discussions. The looming report is one of many reasons why many Senate Republicans think the healthcare bill won’t be able to advance much further before next week’s July 4th recess.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) spent the weekend at a conservative retreat in Colorado Springs hosted by the infamous Koch Brothers. The big message out of the weekend discussions at the Broadmoor Resort and Hotel centered around concerns from major right-wing donors that the Senate healthcare legislation doesn’t kill enough Americans isn’t more aggressive about eradicating Medicaid. Predictably, Gardner did not find time to talk to a reporter from the Denver Post about the Senate healthcare bill.

 

President Trump’s Muslim travel ban earned its first non-loss from the Judicial Branch. As the New York Times explains:

The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would decide whether President Trump’s revised travel ban was lawful, setting the stage for a major decision on the scope of presidential power.

Mr. Trump’s revised executive order, issued in March, limited travel from six mostly Muslim countries for 90 days and suspended the nation’s refugee program for 120 days. The time was needed, the order said, to address gaps in the government’s screening and vetting procedures.

Two federal appeals courts have blocked critical parts of the order.

The administration had asked that the lower court ruling be stayed while the case moved forward. The court granted part of that request in its unsigned opinion.

This is indeed as confusing as it soundsPresident Trump, meanwhile, is declaring victory.

 

► Elsewhere in Supreme Court news, the case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a gay wedding will finally be heard this fall. From the Denver Post:

The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday that it would review the case of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple because of his beliefs — a legal fight with high stakes for both religious activists and civil-rights advocates.

For months, the high court has vacillated on whether it would hear the appeal of Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, whose refusal of service to Charlie Craig and David Mullins was rejected by the Colorado Court of Appeals and the state’s Civil Rights Commission.

There’s been one significant change to the Supreme Court, however, since the case first landed on its steps — the addition of Justice Neil Gorsuch, a native Coloradan who became its ninth member this spring after his nomination by President Donald Trump.

Gorsuch!

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Friday (June 23)

Trumpcare and Russia: That’s pretty much the extent of the news today, but here are a few more headlines worth following. 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 on Thursday released their plan to kill as many Americans as possible make massive changes to healthcare in this country. Vox.com breaks down the Senate Trumpcare bill — officially called “The Better Care Reconciliation Act” — into a handful of “winners” (rich people) and “losers” (pretty much everyone else). As Sarah Kliff explains in a separate story for Vox.com, the Republicans’ primary argument for supporting its healthcare efforts is a complete sham:

Republican lawmakers consistently claim that the Obamacare marketplaces are collapsing, so they need to pass a bill to repeal and replace the health law…

…The marketplaces, though, have refused to cooperate. They are not working perfectly — but they are far from ruinous demise, experts say. But the Republican replacement plan, introduced Thursday, could change that. It contains several provisions that could accelerate the crumbling of the marketplaces and leave millions of Americans with no health care options.

“Honestly, the marketplaces are in okay shape,” says David Anderson, a research associate at Duke University who studies the individual market. “The amount of competition isn’t where some people would like it to be, but this isn’t collapse.”

Republicans such as Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) are all over the place on their talking points; Gardner, for example, was part of the Senate working group on the healthcare legislation, yet he insists that he never saw any of the bill’s proposed language until it was released to the public. And then there’s this nonsense from Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.

 

► Jennifer Rubin, the conservative columnist for the Washington Post, doesn’t understand what Republicans are doing with Trumpcare:

Instead of getting run over by the right wing of their party, as their House counterparts did, Senate moderates have the chance to strike out on their own and come up with reforms that bolster the exchanges and that improve Medicaid. They can test Democrats’ promise to work constructively across the aisle. Conservatives, meanwhile, should understand that the bill is nothing more than a repudiation of their seven-year fight to repeal the ACA. They will leave a legacy that amounts to: Obamacare, but worse!

 

President Trump announced on Thursday that there are no tapes of his conversations with former FBI Director Jim Comey. Trump Tweeted the news a full 41 days after he first floated the idea on Twitter that such tapes might exist.

The Washington Post does a deep dive into how the Obama administration handled (or failed to handle) information that Russia was trying to influence the 2016 election. Regardless of how Obama handled the information, it is indisputable that Russia’s meddling was intended to help Trump win the Presidential election.

 

► Vice President Mike Pence is in Colorado Springs today to speak at a “Focus on the Family” anniversary event. Not everyone is happy to see the VP.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Bennet Throws Down To Defend Press Access

Sen. Michael Bennet (D)

As the Denver Post’s Jesse Paul reports, a sudden decision by the Republican leadership of the United States Senate to restrict press access to Senators prompted a fierce backlash from Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado today:

Reporters were abruptly barred on Tuesday morning from conducting on-camera interviews at the U.S. Capitol, drawing swift condemnation from reporters and Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.

“The attacks by the president on the free press have been outrageous,” Bennet said in a video statement posted to his Twitter account. “And now for the majority in the Senate to bar reporters from their customary places … is a further attack and it can’t stand.”

As Politico reports, Sen. Richard Shelby of the Senate Rules Committee is in damage control mode after this attempt to curtail press access appears to have backfired:

Senate Rules Committee Chairman Richard Shelby sought to tamp down a media firestorm after television reporters were told by the director of the Senate Radio and Television Gallery that they could no longer film impromptu interviews with senators in Capitol hallways.

On Tuesday morning, Mike Mastrian, the director of the Senate Radio and Television Gallery, which reports to the Rules Committee, told reporters that in order to get approval for a hallway interview with a senator, a reporter must now call the committee’s chief counsel and obtain prior permission from the senator being interviewed…

Shelby (R-Ala.) put out a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying there had been no changes to the existing rules, but suggesting that the new guidelines were a matter of tougher enforcement of existing rules.

“The committee has been working with the various galleries to ensure compliance with existing rules in an effort to help provide a safe environment for Members of Congress, the press corps, staff, and constituents as they travel from Senate offices to the Capitol. Once again, no additional restrictions have been put in place by the Rules committee,” Shelby said.

According to Politico, reporters at the Capitol said they were being hassled in the morning, but by the afternoon “the old procedures were back in place and they were no longer facing any new restrictions.” There’s little question at this point that the attempt to curtail access was made, but a swift retreat under claims of a “misunderstanding” allows Republicans to save face.

The recent open hostility toward the press, led by President Donald Trump but increasingly joined by Republican lawmakers with such high-profile incidents as the violent attack on a journalist by a soon-to-be-victorious GOP congressional candidate, seems to be worse than longstanding complaints from the right about the so-called “liberal media.” Last year in Colorado, Republicans dogpiled on the media in an attempt to defend Jon Keyser from the scandal surrounding his forged ballot petitions–and left them looking like fools after Keyser’s campaign fell apart. Trump’s struggle for legitimacy since taking office has likewise forced many Republicans to trash-talk the media far more than they otherwise would, at profound risk to their own credibility as Trump loses legitimacy on an almost daily basis.

It’s got to end at some point, the question being how many will join in the disgrace before it does.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (June 8)

Slow news day, eh? Well, except for that Comey thing. 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…

► Former FBI Director James Comey testified today in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee about President Trump and allegations of illegal ties to Russia. There’s no shortage of coverage on Comey’s testimony online and in the media, but here’s one take from the Washington Post:

Former FBI director James B. Comey on Thursday essentially laid out an obstruction of justice case against President Trump and suggested senior leaders in the bureau might have actually contemplated the matter before Trump removed him as director.

Comey did not explicitly draw any legal conclusions. Whether justice was obstructed, he said, was a question for recently appointed special counsel Robert Mueller. But he said Trump’s request to terminate the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn left him “stunned,” and senior FBI officials considered it to be of “investigative interest.”…

…Legal analysts have said previously that there was reason to believe Trump might have obstructed justice — both in asking him to shut down the probe into Flynn and then, later, in firing Comey. Comey’s testimony, they said Thursday, clarified and bolstered the case.

Comey testified that he was skeptical of Trump almost from the outset, and he decided to document their interactions because he was “concerned [Trump] might lie about the nature of our meeting.”

This really no sugarcoating Comey’s testimony if you are a Trump ally — this was even more brutal for the President than anyone might have expected. For more on Comeypalooza, here’s another good summary from the Washington Post. More thoughtful analysis is available via CNN and the New York Times. To subject yourself to the entire transcript of Comey’s testimony — which lasted nearly three hours — Politico has you covered.

Locally, the editorial board of the Denver Post didn’t wait long to weigh in on the Comey testimony:

Even if Trump isn’t implicated in colluding with the Russians, even if none of his campaign staffers are found guilty, Comey’s sworn testimony and the known facts about his firing cripple the president’s credibility.

 

► How is the White House reacting to Comey’s testimony? It has been reported that Trump is apoplectic about the entire Russian “cloud” hanging over his presidency, but we haven’t yet heard from the President himself.

Trump’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, is peddling some nonsense about how this actually benefits Trump. Conservative media are also trying hard to make the case that Comey’s testimony somehow clears Trump of wrongdoing, or something. From NBC News:

In the aftermath of former FBI Director James Comey’s highly-anticipated testimony, President Donald Trump’s outside counsel says the president feels “vindicated” and ready to move forward with his agenda for the country.

Marc Kasowitz maintained Thursday in a statement to reporters at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. that Trump never asked Comey for his loyalty, contradicting a key part of the ousted FBI director’s testimony. President Trump’s personal lawyer took no questions and departed the room after delivering the short statement in support of the White House.

“The president also never told Mr. Comey, ‘I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,’ in form or substance,” Kasowitz told reporters.

The White House appears to be trying to deflect Comey’s testimony by hoping to paint the former FBI Director as “one of these leakers.”

 

► According to new poll results from Quinnipiac University, President Trump’s approval ratings have dropped to a new low. Again.

 

► Polls are open in the United Kingdom in what has become a bitter general election campaign. Prime Minister Theresa May is nonetheless expected to maintain control once the votes are counted.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

Bennet says Trump has “hard time” distinguishing between reality and “somebody shooting their mouth off on the internet”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado’s Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet took the fight against fake news to the floor of the U.S. Senate yesterday, saying Trump resorts to “talking about ‘fake news’ when he doesn’t like [journalists’] reporting” and that Trump has a “hard time” distinguishing between “something that is real” and “somebody shooting their mouth off on the internet.”

Bennet did not suggest, as I would have done, that Trump sign the Fake News Pledge for elected officials, but it’s great to a politician stand up for journalists, who are almost as unpopular as politicians themselves. Which is exactly why Trump attack them.

Bennet made the fake news remark as part of a blistering attack on Trump, focused on his firing of FBI Director James Comey but touching on Trump’s overall disrespect for American institutions of government.

Watch Bennet here.

And here are Bennet’s comments on journalism and fake news:

Bennet (at 5:30): And [the American people] remember his attacks on the free press as well, when he doesn’t like their reporting and his resorting to talking about ‘fake news’ when he doesn’t like their reporting. Mr. President, I have had to talk to so many high school students. and middle school students in Colorado over the last four or five months about this whole question of fake news and what the importance is of edited content to our society–and again to the rule of law. The importance that middle school students and high school students place on edited content on curated content, their ability to distinguish between something that is science or something that is real, something that is edited versus somebody shooting their mouth off on the internet. The president has a hard time making that distinction as well.

Senator Gardner Searches for Meaning in White House Field Trip

Colorado Senator Michael Bennet (far right) boards a bus for a field trip to the White House on Wednesday. Most forgot to pack their lunches.

The U.S. Senate took a field trip to the White House on Wednesday for a “policy briefing” on North Korea that was really just a poorly-disguised photo op for President Trump to convince Americans — on the eve of his first 100 days in office — that he really does do Presidential stuff from time to time. As CNN reports:

It was quite the spectacle.

Nearly every member of the world’s greatest deliberative body piling onto buses to take the mile-long ride to the White House on Wednesday afternoon was the definition of a made-for-TV moment…

…Ostensibly the reason for the trip was a classified briefing on the growing threat posed by North Korea and its quest for nuclear weapons. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, led the briefing. (The quartet later briefed House members — on Capitol Hill.)…

…Trump, of course, is far from the only president (or politician) to stage a photo op. It happens all the time. But rarely do you see US senators used as the scenery the way they were on Wednesday.

As with most field trips, it appears that Wednesday’s “Day at the White House” was not much of a learning experience:

“We learned nothing you couldn’t read in the newspaper,” Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley told CNN’s Erin Burnett Wednesday night. “It felt more like a dog-and-pony show to me than anything else,” Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “I guess it has something to do with this 100 days in office.”

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) displays his “serious North Korea face.”

Meanwhile, Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) put on his “Trump Toady” outfit in an effort to spin Wednesday’s spectacle into something more than just political theater (President Trump himself spent just a few minutes at the big meeting). From Peter Roper of the Pueblo Chieftain:

“I came out of the classified briefing with a pragmatic but sober realization that we face a significant threat from North Korea but we are changing course and are going to put more pressure on that regime,” the Republican senator said.

Gardner chairs a Senate subcommittee on East Asia and has become an often-quoted authority on North Korea. [Pols emphasis]

Go back and read those two sentences one more time. Gardner is an “often-quoted authority on North Korea” who chairs a Senate subcommittee on East Asia, but he would like you to believe that Wednesday’s meeting at the White House brought him to the “sober realization” that North Korea is a problem. Denver7 has a separate story citing fellow Senators Marco Rubio and Jeff Flake talking up Gardner as the Senate’s “go-to person” on North Korea.

If Gardner is truly an authority on North Korea, then Wednesday’s meeting at the White House was complete nonsense and a waste of the Senate’s time. Or…Gardner doesn’t really know much about North Korea and needed yesterday’s field trip to learn about the dangers of Kim Jong Un. It’s one or the other here.

What you can do to fight back this week (April 10)

Today, as you probably already know, Neil Gorsuch was sworn in to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Neil Gorsuch is from Colorado, but his record stands in opposition to the values we care about as Coloradans. Gorsuch’s confirmation is a disappointment, and we can only hope that the grave concerns Americans have expressed about Gorsuch’s judgment are proven wrong.

But it could have been even worse. Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado faced intense pressure to support Gorsuch. Elites from both parties, local newspapers, and millions of dollars in ads urged Bennet to vote yes on Gorsuch’s confirmation. In the end Bennet voted against filibustering Gorsuch, hoping to defend the Senate against the so-called “nuclear option.” It was a symbolic vote, since Democrats already had the voted they needed to filibuster and Republicans had already decided to use the “nuclear option” to force a vote on Gorsuch’s confirmation.

Despite all the pressure on Bennet to back a fellow Coloradan, he did the right thing and voted against Gorsuch’s confirmation. Bennet’s vote against Gorsuch proved he puts Colorado values before political expediency. On a day that was bound to disappoint, Bennet did something you can be proud of. And it’s the direct result of actions you took to oppose Gorsuch in his home state.

We’ve got to keep the pressure on our lawmakers. Congress has adjourned for a two-week Easter recess. Cory Gardner continues to hide from his constituents, but other representatives have announced public hearings. It’s vital that Coloradans make their voices heard in these two weeks before lawmakers go back to Washington, where Trump’s destructive budget and many other challenges await.

Here are ways for you to fight back for the week of April 10:


Rally Against Child Abuse

You are invited to join our partners, community leaders, advocates, and volunteers as we come together on the steps of the Margaret Carpenter Park Amphitheatre on Monday, April 10th, 2017 from 5:30 – 6:30pm, to declare April Child Abuse Awareness & Prevention Month. Stand up for the children in our community, make their voices heard, and join in envisioning a bright future for every child.

Where: Margaret W Carpenter Park colorado blvd and112th, Thornton
When: Monday, April 10 at 5:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


Parvais & Saul of The Death Penalty Project

The Distinguished Speakers Board is pleased to announce a free community event this Spring: The Death Penalty Project. Parvais Jabbar and Saul Lehrfreund will speak on April 10th at CU Boulder’s Wittemyer Courtroom in the Wolf Law building. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the event will begin at 7:00 p.m. There will be a Q&A portion with the audience following the event.This is a concurrent event with the Conference on World Affairs.

Where: Wolf Law Building CU 2450 Kittredge Loop Rd, Boulder
When: Monday, April 10 at 7:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Trump, Russia and the Panama Papers

Join us Monday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. as Kevin Hall, the national economics correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, talks about his work covering the “Panama Papers,” the huge leak of files detailing how the wealthy use offshore structures to avoid paying taxes in their home countries. McClatchy was the only U.S. newspaper partner during the yearlong, global investigation. Hall’s Panama Papers work has already won awards from George Polk, the Overseas Press Club, SABEW Best In Business, Scripps Howard, Online Journalism Association, Barlett & Steele and the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

Where: The Denver Press Club 1330 Glenarm Pl, Denver
When: Monday, April 10 at 7:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


CO FAMLI Act Rally & Press Conference

Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act (FAMLI) HB17-1307 is introduced! FAMLI Act is significant! The United States is the only industrialized country in the world without paid family leave. We are thrilled that Representative Faith Winter has sponsored the bill again and is leading with a Colorado solution to ensure the well-being and financial stability of working families.

Where: 9to5 Colorado, 1634 Downing St, Unit A, Denver
When: Tuesday, April 11 at 12:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Final Resist Trump Tuesday–Resistance Recess!

The first Resistance Recess in February was a huge success, and constituent activity has been widely credited with building the power to stop Trump and Ryan from taking away our health care. As Trump remains under investigation and as Congress continues to push Trump’s unconstitutional and dangerous agenda, we must make sure that no one allows the passing of time to normalize this president and his harmful policies.

Where: Skyline Park, 1125 17th St., Denver, Colorado
When: Tuesday, April 11 at 12:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Durango Protest Against the Bombing of Syria

No Justice No Peace!

Where: Santa Rita Park, 2700 Main Ave, Durango
When: Tuesday, April 11 at 4:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


The Frontlines Are Everywhere: Grand Jury Resistance Tour

This Spring #NoDAPL water protectors and the Water Protector Anti-Repression Crew will be facilitating trainings across Turtle Island sharing knowledge about resistance to the grand jury convened against water protectors at Standing Rock. We want to build our capacities for strong movement defense against state repression.

Where: Fort Lewis College 1000 Rim Dr, Durango
When: Tuesday, April 11 at 5:30pm

Click here to RSVP.


NO to Right to Discriminate Bill – Call Night

Join us at the One Colorado office to call our supporters about LGBTQ equality. The Colorado Legislature introduced a bill this week that, if it became law, would legally allow discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Senate Bill 17-283 would allow businesses and individuals to claim that any belief they hold gives them permission to exempt themselves from non-discrimination laws they don’t want to follow.

Where: One Colorado 1490 Lafayette St, Ste 304, Denver
When: Tuesday, April 11 at 6:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


Trump Tax March Comedy Benefit Show

Strengthening Democracy Colorado and the Denver branch of the Tax March for Donald Trump’s Tax Returns is putting on a special show at the Oriental Theater filled with several of the top comedians around Denver! Joining us for the show are comedians Zac Maas, Christie Buchele, Harry Baber, Conner Roma, and Alan Bromwell!

Where: The Oriental Theater, 4335 W 44th Ave, Denver
When: Tuesday, April 11 at 7:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


ACLU of Colorado – Women & Families Wednesday

Join ACLU of Colorado at the Colorado State Capitol for our Women & Families Wednesday!

Where: Colorado State Capitol, 200 E Colfax, Denver
When: Wednedsay, April 12 at 8:15am

Click here to RSVP.


Testify in Support of HB17-1256–Increasing oil and gas setbacks from schools

HB17-1256 requires oil and gas operations yo be 1000′ from school property line. If it is good enough for marijuana dispensaries, oil and gas should be held to the same standard. The hearing will be in room 357 upon adjournment which should be around 10 am.

Where: Colorado State Capitol, 200 E Colfax, Denver
When: Wednedsay, April 12 at 10:00am

Click here to RSVP.


Religious Exemptions In Disguise Press Conference & Hearing

This Wednesday, April 12th, the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee of the Colorado Senate will consider a Right to Discriminate bill that would let individuals and businesses claim ANY of their personal beliefs — including religious beliefs — allow them to refuse to follow non-discrimination laws they don’t like. Join us for a press conference in the West Foyer of the Colorado State Capitol at 12:20 p.m. with a coalition of Colorado business owners, faith leaders, and community groups.

Where: Colorado State Capitol, 200 E Colfax, Denver
When: Wednedsay, April 12 at 12:20pm

Click here to RSVP.


Rep. Mike Coffman Townhall (CO-06)

Right-wing Rep. Mike Coffman is holding a town hall meeting to discuss “all of the critical issues facing our community, state, and nation.” This event is open to residents of Coffman’s district only and registration is required.

Where: Education Building 2 South, CU Anschutz Campus
When: Wednesday, April 12 doors open at 5:00pm

Click here to RSVP.


March for President Donald Trump’s Tax Returns

President Donald Trump’s team has gone back and forth over whether or not they will be releasing his taxes, and no date has been set in the event that they are. We have one demand: President Donald Trump will release his tax returns.

Where: Denver’s Civic Center Park, 101 W 14th Ave, Denver
When: Saturday, April 15 at 10:00am

Click here to RSVP.


Thanks again for everything you are doing to fight back against President Trump and the far right here in Colorado and in Washington. The hard fact is that elections matter, and we’re not going to win every battle. But every time we respond to the latest bad news, and show the world that Trump does not speak for all of us, that’s a small victory we can build on.

America will outlast Donald Trump and emerge stronger. You are the reason why.

BREAKING: Bennet Will Vote No On Gorsuch’s Confirmation

UPDATE: The Hill:

Bennet initially opposed a Democratic filibuster of Gorsuch’s nomination, siding with Republicans in a failed vote to end debate. After Republicans changed the rules and lowered the procedural threshold from 60 votes to 51, he voted against Gorsuch.

Bennet has blamed both parties for the stalemate and added on Thursday that the decision to go “nuclear” does “lasting damage” to the Supreme Court…

With Bennet’s opposition, 45 senators are expected to vote against Gorsuch’s confirmation. Only Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (Ind.) — who are each up for reelection in red states in 2018 — are expected to join Republicans in their support.

—–

Sen. Michael Bennet (D)

Sen. Michael Bennet’s long-awaited statement just released moments ago via the Colorado Independent, Colorado’s senior U.S. Senator will be voting against the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court:

Today’s changes to the Senate’s rules have done lasting damage to the Supreme Court and our process for approving nominees. With these changes, justices may now be confirmed with the narrowest partisan majority. Allowing the judiciary to become a pure extension of our partisan politics is precisely the outcome our Founders feared. Moving forward, lifetime appointments to our highest court could become just another political exercise.

We cannot ignore this new reality, and I am forced to consider President Trump’s current nominee – and all future nominees – in that context.

I am proud Judge Gorsuch is from Colorado. He is a qualified judge who deserves an up-or-down vote. That is the tradition of the Senate, and it is why I opposed a filibuster before the rule change.

Judge Gorsuch is a very conservative judge and not one that I would have chosen. For the reasons I made in my floor speech, I had concerns about his approach to the law. Those concerns grow even more significant as we confront the reality that President Trump may have several more opportunities to transform the Court with a partisan majority.

For all these reasons, I will vote no on the nomination.

Bennet’s decision to oppose Gorsuch’s nomination puts an end to weeks of pressure from both sides, and should go a long way to restoring trust in Bennet among the Colorado Democratic base. Again, Democrats had the votes needed to mount the now-crushed filibuster of Gorsuch without Bennet, which left Bennet free to argue for the preservation of the Senate’s deliberative traditions. That argument was unsuccessful, but now Bennet can claim the high ground as he casts his vote against Gorsuch on the merits.

And yes, barring something no one expects at this point Neil Gorsuch will now be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. It was always really a question of how that would happen, not if, and what kind of resistance would be possible on the way to that inevitability. We’d say opponents acquitted themselves as well as they possibly could under bleak circumstances.

As of tomorrow afternoon, it’s all over–except some shouting, and of course decades of Gorsuch on the court.

Hey Sen. Bennet, These Nice People Found Your Backbone

Since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, there have been weekly protests against Sen. Cory Gardner over the range of issues making headlines from Washington, D.C. outside Gardner’s downtown Denver offices near 17th and Arapahoe.

This week, following the announcement Monday that Colorado’s Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet will not join the Democratic filibuster of Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, the protests moved south–to Bennet’s Denver office at 11th and Sherman:

The hardy group, unfazed by heavy snow that had fallen just hours before in Denver, marched south along Lincoln St. from the Civic Center area to Bennet’s offices:

And delivered a petition calling on Bennet to oppose Neil Gorsuch. A friendly Bennet staffer (below right) accepted the petitions–and something else, too:

You’ll find out on Friday, the day the Senate is set to vote, if Sen. Bennet received the, um, delivery! We’ll update this post with statements and coverage of today’s event as we see them.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 4)

Dreaming of a “White Easter?” 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 is scheduled to embark on a two-week recess at the end of this week, but there’s still the matter of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to consider. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) announced on Monday that he would not support a filibuster of Gorsuch, though he still won’t say whether or not he will vote in favor of Gorsuch’s nomination.

With or without Bennet, Senate Democrats say that they have enough votes to reject Gorsuch and force a filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is thus likely to invoke the “nuclear option” to limit debate and reduce the number of required votes for confirmation from 60 to 51. The editorial board of the Denver Post is encouraging Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) to reject the “nuclear option”:

Better to have the seat unfilled until senators can grow up and do right by the American people.

Trashing the filibuster over a single nominee would be doing a judge of Gorsuch’s caliber — and the nation — a terrible disservice.

 

► There is a growing school of thought among Congressional Democrats that Republicans would only be hurting themselves by invoking the “nuclear option” on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

 

► Congressional Republicans are mulling their next steps as they attempt to undo Obamacare after the House failed to even bring a bill to the floor for a vote in late March. But as the Washington Post reports, there’s little reason to think House Republicans and President Trump could get a new plan past the Senate:

The new proposal would further relax some of the Affordable Care Act’s regulations, to placate conservatives who thought the previous GOP bill didn’t deregulate enough of it. States could seek waivers to opt out of the ACA’s requirement that insurers cover “Essential Health Benefits,” such as visits to the doctor, prescription drugs and maternity care. They could also opt out of the prohibition against insurers charging more from the sick than from the healthy. House conservatives are now saying this might get them on board.

But the problem is that, since this is a deregulatory change, a bill with this feature in it might not be able to pass the Senate by a simple majority under the “reconciliation” process, which is reserved for provisions with a budgetary dimension, according to Sarah Binder, a congressional scholar at George Washington University. This would trigger a so-called “Byrd Rule” challenge from Democrats, and to get around it, Republicans would have to appeal to the Senate parliamentarian.

Republicans may want to make sure that any potential change protects coverage for “pre-existing conditions” created from repeatedly banging your head against a wall.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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