Get More Smarter on Tuesday (February 21)

You have only one shopping day left until George Washington’s birthday. Now, let’s see if we can’t 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 taking a break for its annual President’s Day Recess, but that doesn’t necessarily mean elected officials such as Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) are likely to make themselves available to constituents. As the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports, local residents are so incensed with Gardner’s inaccessibility that they are planning their own town hall meeting as protest. The Denver Post has more on Friday’s town hall meeting (sans Gardner):

Organizers invited U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, who declined, but Farnan said it’s important to hold it anyway so that residents can share their ideas and demonstrate that town halls still matter.

“You should be standing in front of your constituents and hear what they have to say as long as it’s civil and respectful,” Farnan said.

Aides to Gardner said the Republican senator has meetings this week with the Colorado Space Coalition, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Colorado Health Care Association — to name a few — but no public forums. [Pols emphasis]

But they defended his outreach efforts and noted his past use of telephone town halls, a tool that has become an increasingly popular substitute on Capitol Hill.

You may not have any real access to your own U.S. Senator, but if you’re lucky, you might get invited to listen to him talk on the telephone! That’s pretty much the same, right?

Unfortunately for Sen. Gardner, this routine is wearing thin across the state. In the meantime, Colorado residents show no sign of letting up on demonstrations and protests.

 

► Before leaving Washington D.C. last week, House Republicans released a vague outline of a proposal about what to do with Obamacare if they end up repealing the health care law. On Monday, former South Carolina governor and current Rep. Mark Sanford admitted in a television interview that he could not guarantee that the Republican health care plan would allow all Americans to keep their current health insurance coverage.

As The Hill explains, Republicans may have a hard time convincing constituents that this vague new plan is even half-baked.

 

► We all know that campaign finance loopholes are big enough to accommodate whatever metaphor you prefer, but some paid campaigns are so brazenly sketchy that it’s hard to believe they could exist. For example, this barrage of advertisements promoting Walker Stapleton’s campaign for Governor apparent interest in term limits. The intent is so obvious that even Republican-aligned groups like Compass Colorado can’t help but applaud the name recognition boost for Stapleton.

 

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Gardner has had “number of great conversations” with Trump

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Asked by a conservative radio host this morning to “characterize his current relationship with President Trump and his team” and whether Gardner was a “persona non grata,” U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) said:

Gardner: “Oh, I’ve had a number of great conversations with the President. The opportunities to work together are real. He is very, very clear that he wants us to be successful in Colorado and that we have the chance to do things that will make our state a better, stronger place.”

Gardner’s warm comments about Trump come as the President is battling journalists and after weeks of protests in Colorado against both Trump’s actions and against Gardner himself for backing Trump and voting with him 100 percent of the time.

Told by KNUS 710-AM host Craig Silverman that citizens are “clamoring for a town-hall meeting” and protesting, Gardner did not indicate he’ll hold town hall meetings, as requested by citizens who’ve jammed Gardner’s phone lines since Trump took office.

“We’ll continue to reach out across Colorado through meetings and offers to have appointments throughout the eight offices we have in the state–and also making sure we’re reaching out via tele-town halls,” said Gardner, adding that it is “great that people are interested.”

“Tele-town halls provide us with a great way to reach thousands of Coloradans at one time instead of just five or 10 at one time,” said Gardner.

Republicans across the country are turning to tele-town halls, instead of actual town hall meetings, where they’ve been greeted by large numbers of citizens upset about Obamacare, cabinet selections, Planned Parenthood cuts, and more. Images of large crowds and defensive lawmakers have viralized across social media.

Gardner has apparently been irked by some of the protests he’s faced, labeling callers and protesters as hailing from California and New York and as being “paid,” with some hired via CraigsList or tricked into calling via computers and surveys.

Asked if Gardner has the kind of relationship with the President that allows Garder to “kid around with Trump,” Gardner told Silverman, “Oh, absolutely.”

“I think it was on television even, on Tuesday, before the inauguration, the president introduced me to a crowd and talked about being able to work together for the common good of Colorado,” said Gardner on air. “And that’s something we will continue to do.”

“Overall, we have got to make sure that we to come together as a country the way [Trump] talked about on i guess it was Wednesday, November 9, after the Election,” Gardner said.

“You always leave me in a good mood,” Silverman told Gardner at the end of the interview, asking that the Republican to remember him to his family.

Get More Smarter on Friday (February 17)

Have a nice President’s Day Weekend; try the meatloaf. Now, let’s see if we can’t 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…

► As the Associated Press reported this morning, President Trump is considering mobilizing the National Guard — as many as 100,000 troops — to undertake mass deportation efforts across the country. Colorado is one of the states listed in the draft memo obtained by the AP.

Again: The President of the United States of America is considering deploying the military to conduct mass roundups and deportations across the country. This is all kinds of wrong.

 

A “shit sandwich.” That’s how Vice Admiral Robert Harward viewed an offer from President Trump to become the next National Security Adviser — an offer Harward publicly declined — which leaves the Trump administration scrambling to find another candidate for one of the most important jobs in the White House. The resignation of former NSA Michael Flynn highlights a massive credibility problem among national security experts, as the Washington Post explains:

Multiple former national security experts conjectured that the hang-up specifically was Trump’s deputy national security adviser, KT McFarland, a TV commentator who has not served in government since the Reagan era. Few foreign policy professionals consider her qualified for the job. [Pols emphasis]

…Harward certainly knows the struggles that Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson have had hiring their own staff — neither has an announced deputy; Harward was not about to subject himself to the same micromanaging from the White House. Former State Department official and vocal Trump critic Eliot Cohen says, “It makes it very difficult for any serious person to take the job under less reasonable conditions than Harward seems to have demanded, i.e., control of staffing.” He explains, “No sane person would take this extremely important and difficult job without (a) control of staffing, and (b) eliminating or neutering Bannon’s shadow NSC staff.” …

…Harward’s decision reflects how far the president and this administration have fallen in the eyes of esteemed national security experts, including current and former officials. The White House is without an experienced chief of staff or normal internal decision-making procedures. [Pols emphasis]

 

► Congress is preparing for its annual President’s Day recess, which will keep lawmakers out of the nation’s capitol until February 27. Before he skipped out of town, Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) released a video in which he declares that he will not support a repeal of Obamacare without a concurrent replacement plan. The New York Times on Thursday reported on a potential new GOP healthcare plan that would redirect money from the lower- and middle-class to the benefit of the wealthy in America.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 16)

It would certainly be hard for things to Get More Dumber at this point, so let’s see if we can’t 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…

► So…that didn’t go well. President Trump held his first solo press conference as a resident of the White House, and it’s almost like he’s daring someone to declare that he is unfit for office. Put it this way: If you had to place a bet on whether or not Trump would make it through his first term in office, would you really put big money on “YES”?

Did you vote for Donald Trump for President?” could be the most important question for Colorado political candidates in 2018. That’s one big orange albatross we’re talking about.

 

► President Trump has a new nominee for Labor Secretary. Andrew Puzder withdrew his name from consideration Wednesday, on account of the fact that he had no chance of winning confirmation from the Senate. The new nominee is Alexander Acosta, dean of the Florida International University School of Law and a former member of the National Labor Relations Board.

The Washington Post takes a look at how Puzder’s nomination went so completely off the rails, while Politico previews trouble ahead for the new nominee.

 

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) thinks that we should investigate the FBI after the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. From CBS Denver:

Rep. Mike Coffman agrees with Republicanson the House Ethics Committee who don’t think President Donald Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn needs to be investigated for ethics violations following his ouster over interactions with Russian officials…

…Controversy still lingers over the White House’s handling of the brief tenure of Flynn, who continued to advise the president weeks after the Department of Justice warned the administration of Flynn’s conduct on the phone with Russia’s ambassador.

“I want to see that transcript to see if there are other conversations that he had is worthwhile finding out, but I also think it’s important to move on,” Coffman said. [Pols emphasis]

Move along!

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 15)

Welcome, comrades! It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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…

► National Security Advisor Michael Flynn may be gone, but the Russian cloud enveloping the White House isn’t dissipating one bit. As the New York Times reports today in its lead story:

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election…

…The call logs and intercepted communications are part of a larger trove of information that the F.B.I. is sifting through as it investigates the links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russian government, as well as the hacking of the D.N.C., according to federal law enforcement officials. As part of its inquiry, the F.B.I. has obtained banking and travel records and conducted interviews, the officials said.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

As the Washington Post writes this morning:

The credibility gap – maybe chasm is a better word at this point – keeps widening for Donald Trump and his White House.

And what does President Trump have to say about all of this? As Chris Cillizza writes for “The Fix”:

Trump’s response to these serious allegations, which have already cost him his national security adviser and now threaten the foundations of his presidency, has been decidedly flippant.  In a tweetstorm Wednesday morning, Trump blamed the “fake news” media and Hillary Clinton for the stories and sought to pivot the conversation to how the information regarding the contacts between his campaign and the Russians leaked out…

…Given the seriousness of those allegations, tweets about the Clinton campaign or the “fake news” aren’t going to cut it.  Congressional Republicans are getting more and more worried that this situation is spinning out of control and has the possibility to do serious damage to the entire party less than a month into the Trump presidency.

Tick-tock. Tick-tock.

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) — a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — has been rather quiet about the White House Russia scandal. In an interview with Denver7 on Tuesday, Gardner said…well, nothing, really. Gardner seems to be falling apart in general under the strain of his 100% voting record with Trump.

Meanwhile, Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) is pushing for a full investigation into the Trump administration’s ties with Russia. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is also pushing for an official inquiry.

 

► Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is suing Boulder County for its unwillingness to open up its lands for oil and gas drilling.

 

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Cory Gardner Makes Stupefying Ass of Self on “Paid Protesters”


Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Last night, Denver7 aired an interview with Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado that touched on a variety of hot topics–the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and the Trump administration’s ties to the Russian government, as well as Gardner’s recent controversial remarks suggesting that citizens showing up at his offices in Colorado and flooding his voicemail boxes are “paid protesters.”

We’ve covered Gardner’s non-answers on the Flynn/Russia questions, but Gardner’s incredibly feeble attempt to defend these allegations of “paid protesters” is worth a note in the record all by itself:

On Tuesday, he addressed the insinuation he made last month that some people protesting him and calling his office were paid protesters. He clarified that he believes there are organizations that are working to connect politically-active people across the country with various lawmakers in Washington, citing a conversation his wife had with one organization.

“We have a number of Coloradans – a large percentage, if not a huge percentage of the people calling our office who are Coloradans. [They are] people who are concerned about nominations, people who are concerned about the price of their health care,” Gardner said.

“But we do have people from out of state calling the office. In fact, just the other day, my wife was contacted by an organized survey effort. She answered the survey and was immediately connected to my very own office.”

“She was not paid to do that, [Pols emphasis] but somebody was paid to make that connection happen not knowing that was my wife,” Gardner said.

Understand this, folks: Cory Gardner was given a wide-open opportunity to defend his insistence that “paid protesters” are responsible for the demonstrations and flooded voicemail boxes at his offices. But the “example” Gardner cites is not a “paid protester” at all, but one of countless automated contact campaigns run by activist groups connecting ordinary (and unpaid) citizens with their elected officials. There’s absolutely nothing inappropriate about that kind of activity, and the contacts between citizens and lawmakers facilitated by these campaigns are as legitimate as any other.

Presumably, this would include Mrs. Gardner as well.

For a politician known for being cool under fire and ready with a slick answer to any question, Gardner’s justification in this interview for accusing the thousands of protesters converging every week outside his offices of being “paid” is an insult to everyone’s intelligence. Gardner’s out-of-hand dismissal of the growing dissent against the Trump administration in Colorado and nationwide spread widely, and was picked up by conservative mouthpieces here and elsewhere as a way of rationalizing what is happening.

Every American who heard Gardner’s original statement needs to know he can’t defend it.

As #Russiagate Explodes, Gardner Silent

UPDATE #6: Watch Sen. Cory Gardner say absolutely nothing about Michael Flynn in an interview aired moments ago by Denver7:

That really clears things up. Thanks, Cory!

——

UPDATE #5: Via TPM, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado officially punts:

Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) indicated to reporters on Capitol Hill that he was not concerned Flynn had remained in his role for more than two weeks after the Justice Department reportedly warned the White House about the content of his calls with the Russian ambassador.

“That has nothing to do with his judgement,” Perdue said when asked if that time gap made him concerned about Trump’s judgement. “It’s an unfortunate circumstance. It’s been resolved. And we’re going to move forward.”

Asked if there should be an investigation in the wake of Flynn’s resignation, Perdue said he had “no idea.”

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) similarly demurred when asked about the potential for an investigation. He told reporters that Congress needs “to see what the White House says” before determining next steps. Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) told reporters that they would need more information before determining whether a probe is necessary, too. [Pols emphasis]

—–

UPDATE #4: Via Blair Miller, Sen. Cory Gardner releases a statement praising the Trump administration’s policy on Russia with no mention of Michael Flynn:

In Cory’s world, the biggest story of the day didn’t happen. We’ll update if that changes.

—–

UPDATE #3: Still nothing from Sen. Cory Gardner, but Rep. Ed Perlmutter joins the chorus demanding answers:

UPDATE #2: Colorado’s senior Sen. Michael Bennet weighs in strongly:

—–

UPDATE: Local liberals turn up the heat on Cory Gardner:

“So far, the response from Colorado Republicans in Congress has been totally unacceptable,” said ProgressNow Executive Director Ian Silverii. “Sen. Cory Gardner, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has said nothing at all about Flynn’s resignation. What does Sen. Gardner know about the Trump administration’s contacts with the Russian government, and when did he know it? Every day that Gardner remains silent makes him complicit in what has happened.”

—–

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports on the local reactions to the Michael Flynn controversy now dominating national headlines–and in some cases, lack thereof:

[A]mid the controversy and rumors swirling about Washington, Colorado Congressmen from each side of the aisle are pressuring Flynn and the administration for more details regarding the call and say Flynn should resign if he misled the administration.

“As national security advisor, Michael Flynn is responsible to the President, Vice President, and the American people,” Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., said in a statement to Denver7 Monday evening. “It is his duty to be fully transparent and forthright in his actions—anything less is unacceptable. If in fact he purposely misled the President, he should step down immediately.”

Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, also called for Flynn’s resignation if Flynn indeed discussed the sanctions…

Given the swiftly-spreading news yesterday that Flynn’s head was on the chopping block, we can’t give Rep. Mike Coffman credit for anything more than beating the deadline by a few token hours. Despite some opportunistic victory lapping by Coffman boosters after Flynn’s resignation became public, it’s just plain silly to give him credit for causing it. He got word a few hours in advance that it was happening, and put out a statement. It was just-in-time politics, not a profile in courage.

And much more telling is another Colorado lawmaker who hasn’t said a word:

Requests for comment from Sen. Cory Gardner’s office Monday on the matter amid a request for another story went unreturned. [Pols emphasis]

As of this writing Sen. Cory Gardner has not responded to the situation at all, and as the state’s ranking Republican elected official and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, his silence…well, as they say, it roars. Many other Republicans have called for in-depth investigations of the Trump administration’s ties to the Russian government, but not Gardner.

And at this point, whatever he says or does isn’t leadership at all. It’s CYA.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (February 14)

Happy Valentine’s Day! (unless you are in PakistanIt’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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…

► The word of the day week month year is “Russia.” Washington D.C. and the rest of the country are in a tizzy after last night’s resignation from Michael Flynn, who had served as Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor for about three whole weeks. Flynn resigned amid growing concern over his conversation(s) with Russia back in December — which would appear to be a violation of the “Logan Act” that prohibits Americans from working to undermine foreign policy goals.

President Trump’s sort-of-official response is that Trump himself asked for Flynn’s resignation (though this has been contradicted by White House sources, including Kellyanne Conway). This story is now so far out of the bag that calls for a full investigation into the Trump administration’s ties with Russia will grow louder with each passing hour. From the Washington Post:

A top Senate Republican said Tuesday that Congress should probe the circumstances leading up to the resignation of President Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn.

“I think in all likelihood it should be part of the intel committee’s review of what’s happened with Russia, yes,” said Senate GOP Conference Vice Chair Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Here in Colorado, Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) is also calling for a full Congressional investigation (as House Republicans dawdle). Meanwhile, all eyes and ears are on Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who has thus far remained silent on Flynn and the Russian controversy. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Gardner should have direct access to information about this growing scandal.

 

► Check out the latest episode of the “Get More Smarter Show” to learn more about the nomination of Colorado judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

 

► Former one-term Republican lawmaker Victor “Dracula” Mitchell has officially entered his name in the 2018 governor’s race. Mitchell tells the Colorado Springs Gazette that he plans to roll out his campaign with a $3 million contribution from his own wallet. The registered agent on Mitchell’s campaign finance report is former Secretary of State Scott Gessler.

 

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What you can do to fight back this week (February 13th)

Last weekend was supposed to be all about a nationwide protest by anti-abortion conservatives.

Instead, something else happened.

 

“More than a hundred” turned out to protest against Planned Parenthood, reported the Denver Post–and “more than a thousand” converged on Sen. Cory Gardner’s office in Denver to defend abortion rights, and demand Gardner stop his threats to defund women’s health care.

The overwhelming show of support for Planned Parenthood Saturday in Denver is just another example of what we’re seeing across the nation as America rises up to resist the Trump administration and the Republican Party’s disastrous agenda. Sen. Gardner has tried to blame the rallies outside his office on “paid protesters,” but the good people of Colorado are making a liar of Gardner day after day.

The resistance is real. The people of Colorado will not be silent. Donald Trump, Cory Gardner, and their right-wing allies at every level of government ignore you at their peril.

Here are ways you can make a difference this week as Colorado continues to fight back:


 

Be Our Valentine Rally

Come prepared to take action and meet others who are working to resist Trump’s agenda. You can engage in your free time, and there are ways for everybody to participate. We’ll be encouraging our Members of Congress in Senate and House to represent us, not Trump. If we stand together, indivisible, we will win. Welcome to the resistance!

Where: Skyline Park next to Sen. Gardner’s Office, Corner of 17th St. and Arapahoe St.
When: Tuesday, February 14 at 12:00 pm.

Click here to RSVP.


 

Valentine’s Action: Ask Sen Gardner to “Make a Date” with CO!

Senator Cory Gardner has no public events scheduled in Colorado, not even during the Congressional recess during the week of President’s Day. This Valentine’s Day, let’s ask him to #MakeaDatewithCO and schedule public town hall meetings. Plan a party to make your own Valentine cards (or check the discussion board to see if there’s one near you), or participate from home by creating your own Valentine!

Click here to RSVP and get more information.


 

Tell your Colorado legislators to support a national popular vote

Under the current system of electing the President, candidates have won the Presidency without winning the most popular votes nationwide in 4 of the nation’s 57 presidential elections. The National Popular Vote bill, Senate Bill 17-099, would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states.

Where: Colorado State Capitol, Room 357
When: Wednesday, February 15 at 1:30 pm.

Click here for more information and to take action online.


 

Trump Team in Denver: Rally to Protect the EPA!

Bring signs, bring friends, and bring your unyielding energy (and maybe some coffee) to 1445 Market Street this Wednesday! Let’s make sure that our leaders know that we want them to reject Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator, maintain the BLM methane rule, and prioritize our planet and it’s inhabitants!

Where: 1445 Market St, Denver
When: Wednesday, February 15 at 7:00 am.

Click here to RSVP.


We Are One Colorado Tour: Boulder

One Colorado is bringing the “We Are One Colorado” tour to 13 cities across the state to talk about how to build on — and protect — our victories and continue to advance equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Coloradans and their families. One Colorado will also present the findings of their statewide LGBTQ needs assessment that was conducted in 2016.

Where: Jewish Community Center, 6007 Oreg Avenue, Boulder, CO 80303
When: Wednesday, February 15 at 6 – 7:30 pm.

Click here to RSVP.

On Thursday, the We Are One Colorado Tour will stop in Breckenridge. Click here for more information.


 

General Strike Against Trump

On Friday, February 17, 2017, Strike4Democracy will coordinate over 100 strike actions across the United States, and beyond, to plan for a series of mass strikes to stand up for America’s democratic principles. As the nation suffers through ICE raids, travel bans, Trump’s mobilization on the border wall, as well as attacks on the rights of workers, women, people of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and our environment, February 17th provides a beacon to those who are searching for a way to protect and defend our shared humanity.

Click here to RSVP and get more information.


One Billion Rising – Denver: 2017 March & Rally

1 in 3 women across the planet will be beaten or raped during her lifetime. That’s ONE BILLION WOMEN AND GIRLS. Every February, we rise – in hundreds of countries across the world – to show our local communities and the world what one billion looks like and shine a light on the rampant impunity and injustice that survivors most often face. We rise through dance to express joy and community and and celebrate the fact that we have not been defeated by this violence.

Where: Denver Pavilions, 500 16th St, Denver
When Saturday, February 18 at 11:00 am.

Click here to RSVP.


 

Defend Our Constitution March

We have been a broken nation in the past, but the current presidency has divided us and openly stomped on our rights at a new level of deception. The very Constitution that this country was built on is at stake. We must defend our rights before we no longer have any! We must unite to show that we are not to be stomped all over! If anything good can come out of this regime, let it be the uniting of the people. Let their hatred fuel our love and passion enough to truly create a change. Let all minority groups join together to create the majority in our fight.

Where: Denver’s Civic Center Park, Colfax and Bannock
When: Saturday, February 18 at 1:30 pm.

Click here to RSVP.


 

Not My President’s Day Rally Denver, CO

Come stand in solidarity with the masses who do not and will not accept a fascist, morally bankrupt and hateful person as our president. There are sister rallies happening across the nation. Let’s show this administration that Denver will continue to denounce these vile policies. We will not be silenced or tempered. We are here to STAY.

Where: Colorado State Capitol, 200 E Colfax Ave, Denver
When: Monday, February 20 at 5:00 pm.

Click here to RSVP.


Thanks again for everything you are doing to fight back in defense of our shared values. Every week I am blown away by the smart and passionate Colorado citizens I meet at these events. I wish we were coming together under better circumstances, but the unity of purpose and momentum we are building together to stand up to Trump will positively impact our nation long after Trump is a footnote in the history books.

We are doing more than fighting back against one man. We are organizing for a better America, and a better future for all of us.

And there’s no turning back now.

Get More Smarter on Monday (February 13)

No, you are not required to pony up something for “Valentine’s Day Eve.” It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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…

Massive demonstrations and public protests continue to take place in Colorado in opposition to proposals from President Trump and/or constituent indifference from Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

Local media outlets are covering the deluge of constituents trying to reach their members of Congress.

 

► Think your boss is bad? At least you don’t have to report directly to President Trump. As Chris Cillizza summarizes for “The Fix” today, Trump’s staff had better get used to regular votes of no confidence from the boss. Take these two recent example:

1.  A Politico piece headlined “Trump reviews top White House staff after tumultuous start” includes these two eye-opening paragraphs:

Yet Trump’s concern goes beyond his embattled national security adviser, according to conversations with more than a dozen people who have spoken to Trump or his top aides. He has mused aloud about press secretary Sean Spicer, asking specific questions to confidantes about how they think he’s doing behind the podium.

Others who’ve talked with the president have begun to wonder about the future of Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Several Trump campaign aides have begun to draft lists of possible Priebus replacements, with senior White House aides Kellyanne Conway and Rick Dearborn and lobbyist David Urban among those mentioned. Gary Cohn, a Trump economic adviser, has also been the subject of chatter.

2. This Post piece on Trump’s conversation with Christopher Ruddy, a longtime friend of his, is incredible. Check out these quotes from Ruddy on Priebus:

“It’s my view that Reince is the problem. I think on paper Reince looked good as the chief of staff — and Donald trusted him — but it’s pretty clear the guy is in way over his head. He’s not knowledgeable of how federal agencies work, how the communications operations work. He botched this whole immigration rollout. This should’ve been a win for Donald, not two or three weeks of negative publicity.”

It’s hard to over-estimate how demoralizing that is to the people working day in and day out to make the Trump presidency succeed. [Pols emphasis]

Politico has more on potential staff changes at the White House.

 

► State Sen. Ray Scott (R-Grand Junction) has — rightly — earned the scorn of his hometown newspaper after calling a story in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel “fake news.” The owner and publisher of the SentinelJay Seaton, appears to be threatening legal action against Scott.

 

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Huge Gardner Protest Makes For Yuge “#DefundPP” Day Backfire

Yesterday was supposed to have been a nationwide day of protest by pro-life conservatives, answering the weeks of massive demonstrations against the new Trump administration and GOP-controlled Congress’ agenda on that and many other issues with their own call to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding.

But as the Denver Post’s Danika Worthington reports, that’s not how it played out in the Mile High City:

In the morning, more than a hundred people gathered outside Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountain headquarters in east Denver to call for the government to defund the health care service.

They held signs that read “Planned Parenthood lies to you” and “Stop abortion now.” This was one of about 200 protests scheduled across the country.

Then later in the day, more than a thousand rallied outside Republican Sen. Cory Gardner’s Denver office to support funding Planned Parenthood [Pols emphasis] while holding their own variety of signs, including “Girls just want to have fun-ding” and “Nevertheless, she persisted” while chanting “My body, my choice” and “Not the church, not the state, women will decide their fate.”

The estimates we’ve heard for yesterday’s rally outside Sen. Cory Gardner’s office in downtown Denver are all in the thousands. The crowd once again filled downtown Denver’s Skyline Park from 17th to 18th Streets, with more waving signs from adjacent street corners. Attendees lined up to hand-write letters to Sen. Gardner to be delivered this week by protest organizers, noting their local address and unpaid protester status:

One of the high points of yesterday’s rally was state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger of Arvada, reading the satirical pseudo-children’s book See Joan Run to the delight of thousands of rallygoers:

Bob says, “There are too many Dicks in office.”

In the end, the anti-abortion rally outside Planned Parenthood wasn’t completely squelched by the much larger protest to save Planned Parenthood, as evidenced with the news headlines that virtually all talk about the “dueling protests.” But the underlying fact that at least ten times as many people turned out in favor of Planned Parenthood as turned out against the organization, and probably a much higher ratio, cannot be considered anything but another major defeat for the anti-abortion movement–in one of the nation’s most pro-choice states.

In Colorado, #DefundPP was more than a bust. It was a backfire.

The fact that the rally to save Planned Parenthood was held outside Sen. Gardner’s offices also illustrates the growing political threat these actions represent to Republican elected officials here and around the country. Whether Gardner likes it or not–and we suspect he doesn’t like it one bit–he has become the local vessel into which the public is pouring its anger over the GOP’s and Trump administration’s agenda. Gardner’s infamous flip-flops and evasions on the abortion issue in particular on the campaign trail in 2014 have not been forgotten, and stand today as huge liabilities he has made no effort to resolve.

These few short weeks of upheaval cannot tell us what 2020, which is Gardner’s and Trump’s next election, will look like. But if Cory Gardner continues to dismiss what is happening outside his office as the work of “paid protesters” and liberal donor usual suspects?

There is a scenario in which it goes very badly for him.

Get More Smarter on Friday (February 10)

Valentine’s Day is on Tuesday; you don’t have to panic just yet. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. 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…

Treason. That’s the story today and probably for a good deal of time in the near future, after the Washington Post reported late Thursday that National Security Advisor Michael Flynn may have violated the Logan Act by illegally negotiating with a foreign government (in this case, Russia). Vice President Mike Pence might have gotten burned here as well.

 

► President Trump has rejected Rex Tillerson’s choice to be his right hand at the State Department because Elliott Abrams once said some things that weren’t very nice about Trump. From CNN:

President Donald Trump met with Abrams and the sources said that the meeting went well but when the President learned that Abrams had criticized him during the campaign, the President nixed Abrams as Deputy Secretary of State, according to the sources.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson tried to convince Trump to offer the job to Abrams despite the criticism because he felt he needed Abrams’ experience.

Republican sources also say White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Senior Adviser Jared Kushner also strongly supported Abrams, and tried to convince the President to reconsider.

“This is a loss for the State Department and the country and for that matter for the President,” said one Republican source.

 

► Another federal court has rejected President Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban, and the big orange guy is not pleased.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Cory Gardner Gets Obliterated on CNN

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) isn’t a big fan of answering straightforward questions, whether they come from constituents or members of the news media. Gardner has an affinity for dancing around questions — on the rare occasions that local media outlets even bother to ask — but it may be that the surliness of President Trump’s administration is making it tougher for Gardner to get away with his traditional song and dance.

Gardner has gone out of his way to avoid questions about President Trump, even when they are specific to policy ideas that Gardner supports, and until recently he had succeeded in avoiding addressing foreign policy issues surrounding Russia specifically. Gardner doesn’t want to talk about Trump, in part because he doesn’t want to discuss his pre-election opposition to the new President, but as he takes on an increasingly-public role in Senate leadership, reporters are getting tired of his bullshit.

Today on CNNChris Cuomo asked some tough questions of Gardner and took the Colorado Senator to task for pretending to be more forthcoming. It was brutal:

CUOMO: Do you think that your party’s apparent reluctance to call out the President of the United States when he says outrageous things, or does things that are highly controversial, is adding to this imbalance in Washington?

GARDNER: Well, I have certainly done everything I can to speak where I felt it was important to speak…

CUOMO: It is not easy to get you to take a position on what the President does. This interview is proof of that. [Pols emphasis]

Gardner tried to respond by saying something about how he spoke out about Trump’s Executive Order on immigration, blah, blah, blah…but the damage is not repairable.

Gardner Faces Hostile Tele-Town Hall Audience


On Monday, Sen. Cory Gardner conducted an unannounced “tele-town hall” phone conference with a select group of Coloradans contacted by the campaign to participate. The call was held in the mid-morning hours local time, which further limited the rate of participation.

Nonetheless, as you can hear in the recording above, Gardner got much more than he bargained for. Question after question from the audience expressed nervousness about the future, and condemnation of President Donald Trump’s various excesses since taking office. Notably, Gardner doesn’t make an attempt to defend Trump’s cozying up to Russia, and pays solid lip service to the idea that Russia is not America’s friend or partner–even referring to Russia as a “thugocracy.” Gardner also said in the abstract that it’s wrong to attack individual judges, clearly putting distance between himself and Trump’s haranguing of the federal judge who halted his Muslim travel ban.

What Gardner has great difficulty doing is specifically condemning what Trump has said and done. Nearly all of his statements are in the abstract, as if he is having a theoretical discussion instead of responding to the very real actions and statements of the President of the United States.

The unofficial recording above starts about ten minutes into the call. Gardner keeps his cool throughout the session, but the gap between what Gardner had to offer worried constituents and what participants wanted was painfully large. This was especially evident in Gardner’s responses on the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Gardner encouraged callers to look into the “details” of plans offered by Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, but didn’t divulge which of those plans he actually supports. That’s important since Ryan’s plan in particular directly relies on cutting benefits and privatizing the Medicare system, things Gardner has repeatedly promised wouldn’t happen.

You can definitely understand from this recording, which we feel confident Gardner never wants the public to hear, why Republicans like himself and Rep. Mike Coffman are so nervous about holding public events right now. Even in the case of this surprise conference call, which gave usual-suspect political opponents no time to organize a response, Gardner overwhelmingly faced blowback for his and his party’s actions.

The moral of the story? Faking constituent engagement isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Attempted Shutdown of Sen. Warren May Soon Backfire on GOP

As the Washington Post reports:

Mitch McConnell defended his decision to have the Senate formally vote to block Elizabeth Warren from speaking about the nomination of Jeff Sessions to be attorney general. “She was warned,” he said. “She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

The majority leader said the firebrand from Massachusetts broke the chamber’s rules by reading past statements about Sessions from Coretta Scott King and Ted Kennedy. “The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama,” McConnell said, setting up a series of exceptionally rare roll-call votes to silence Warren until Sessions is confirmed…

…The brouhaha will be especially resonant because it touches race and gender, two of the most volatile fault lines in American life. During Black History Month, McConnell specifically cited portions of a letter that the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. wrote to the Senate Judiciary Committee in opposition to Sessions’s 1986 nomination to be a federal judge as a justification for the votes to rebuke Warren. “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens,” King wrote three decades ago, referencing prosecutions he oversaw as the U.S. attorney for Alabama.

If you haven’t had a chance to read it, here is the letter from Coretta Scott King in opposition to Jeff Sessions when the Alabama Senator was trying to secure a federal judgeship.