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.

Gardner Sets Surprise Tele-Town Hall, Internets Respond Contemptuously

TUESDAY UPDATE: Sen. Cory Gardner’s tele-town hall yesterday featured as much excitement as was possible with the ability to mute whatever he didn’t like:

In the video clip above, you can see several of Gardner’s extremely evasive answers to questions about investigating President Donald Trump, Trump’s tax returns, and excessive costs of the President’s travel. In the first clip, Gardner gives a long, rambling response about not having “the facts” to be able to speak about it. In the second, Gardner bizarrely says that everyone in politics should have “the opportunity” to release their taxes–as if they didn’t? In the third, Gardner dodges the question of the frequency and expense of President Trump’s travel by saying all Presidents should have security.

There has been very little reporting about the contents of Gardner’s conference call yesterday, but we expect that any reporter who does dive into what was actually said will find plenty of story to tell here. Once again, Gardner’s fabled coolness under fire doesn’t look so cool on live video–even without the heckling he avoids by not holding face-to-face meeting with his constituents.

—–

An announcement went out last weekend from Sen. Cory Gardner’s office about a tele-town hall meeting he’s holding this evening at 5:45PM:

It doesn’t appear that there was much notice for this event–Gardner’s office has kept a list of prospective tele-town hall participants from the signups to previous events, but the first announcement from Gardner’s office about today’s call seems to have been Saturday afternoon. Needless to say, that doesn’t leave busy constituents with much time to schedule.

Tele-town halls have been Sen. Gardner’s sole means of outreach to ordinary constituents since President Donald Trump took office in January. As of this writing, Gardner is the only member of Colorado’s delegation in either party who has not yet held a face-to-face event with anyone other than invitation-only and/or corporate audiences.

The reason is simple: live audiences don’t have mute buttons.

In response to this latest announcement, the Facebook responses to Gardner have been…well, rather uncharitable:

As of now there are almost 440 such replies to this event posting on Facebook–many featuring language that’s not fit for a family show. Safe to say, Gardner’s half-hearted attempts at “constituent outreach” are not having the desired effect. After Rep. Mike Coffman faced a harsh grilling from his constituents but still managed to say something nice about the experience, Gardner’s refusal to show constituents the same respect stands out even more.

At this point, we don’t get it. Fake accountability like this is much more politically-damaging for Gardner than if he would just simply take his proverbial medicine. That Gardner still can’t see the cost/benefit in doing so may be evidence that he’s just not the political mastermind he’s chalked up to be in many circles.

Maybe Gardner really is a coward.

Get More Smarter on Monday (April 24)

Pop quiz: Name one of two top finishers in Sunday’s Presidential race in France. It’s time to Get More Smarter! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is very angry that he is being judged on the first 100 days of his Presidency, but at least he still has a job. The Washington Post examines the fate of 15 top Trump supporters who didn’t even make it to 100 days in the White House.

 

► President Trump sat down with Julie Pace of the Associated Press for an extensive interview that was absolutely bizarre. Trump is very touchy about any attempts to summarize his first 100 days in office — which have not gone well by any serious estimation — so the President spends most of his time talking about that time he won the 2016 election and about how he is the biggest ratings draw on cable television.

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, Trump is starting to sound awfully similar to Uncle Rico:

At issue for Trump is that he continues to seem more interested in how he won the office than what he will do with the office. An occasional reminder of a time when you won is great. But Trump is bordering on Uncle Rico (of “Napoleon Dynamite”) territory here.  If you don’t know what I am talking about, watch this:

“Back in ’82 I used to be able to throw a pigskin a quarter mile,” Uncle Rico recalls. “If coach would have put me in fourth quarter we would have been state champions….no doubt in my mind.”

The point is: Dwelling too much in the past makes you a prisoner of the past. Trump won a historic upset. No question.  But, now he’s president. So, how he got elected — and how no one called it — is now less relevant than what he plans to do in the office.

Michael Kruse of Politico takes a look at “How Trump Succeeds Without Succeeding.”

 

► “Keyser’s Law” becomes official in Colorado.

 

► Construction defects reform legislation passed out of the State House on a unanimous vote on Monday. It is now up to the State Senate to approve HB17-1279.

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Video: Mariachi Band Serenades Cory Gardner

Via Politico, Sen. Cory Gardner’s invite-only event yesterday held by the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce featured an unexpected musical interlude:

The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Peter Marcus reports:

Three organizations – including two focusing on Latino issues – were behind the musical interruption. Tuesday night, they paid $250 to register as Chamber members and brought six members of a mariachi band from Mexico City to play a “love song” and demand Gardner hold a public forum, said Hilda Nucete, a program director of Denver-based Conservation Colorado.

“It was a gift,” Nucete said, referring to the Spanish song “Where Are You, My Heart?” The song, she said, is about “when the guy really messes up and you’re trying to get back the girl, so we’re trying to get (Gardner) to fall in love with us again.”

As you can see in the video, it was a brief interruption–but long enough to generate another round of unwanted press coverage for Gardner, focusing on his ongoing lack of public engagement during the latest congressional recess. The nonpublic events Gardner has held this recess are not conducive to candid interaction–and are much more literally “paid” attendees than the protesters he demeans by claiming they’re paid.

Which reminds us, has anybody gotten Gardner and Mike Coffman in the same room to talk paid protesters?

Folks, if Gardner is anything, he’s media savvy. The growing bedevilment of Gardner’s every move back home is a serious problem, even if he chooses not to do anything meaningful to address it. Gardner obviously hopes to ride out the discontent, but each one of these negative press events takes a chunk out of Gardner’s beatific public image. And we think he knows it.

In Gardner’s head, the band plays on.

Gardner, who’s voted with Trump 100 percent of the time, speaks out against Trump

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Public Radio’s Allison Sherry reports that U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), who’s in Colorado for a two-week congressional recess “isn’t shy about talking about where he opposes President Trump.”

Sherry reports that “the state’s junior Republican senator spoke out against Trump’s trade policies, his proposed travel ban and the president’s budget priorities that cut diplomatic spending over defense spending.”

Without noting that Gardner has voted with Trump 100 percent of the time so far, Sherry reported:

One of the senator’s recess stops was speaking to employees at CoBank, which provides credit to farmers. Gardner said he was disappointed in the president’s stance on trade, particularly the Trans Pacific Partnership….

On immigration, Gardner said he has continued conversations with Republican Senate colleagues on the need for a comprehensive immigration reform bill that tackled strengthening the border, but also reforming the visa program. He said he wasn’t sure how the Trump administration would greet such a bill, but that discussions were ongoing.

Gardner opposed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill when it was in Congress in 2013.

Gardner’s stop at CoBank is noteworthy, because it continues a string of meetings Gardner has held at private venues. He’s also taken questions on 15 conservative talk radio shows this year.

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Gardner Loves to Appear on Conservative Talk Radio But Not at Town Halls

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner.

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) hasn’t held a town hall meeting this year, but he’s graced the warm airwaves of 15 talk-radio shows, taking gentle questions from some of Colorado’s most conservative figures.

For example, in February, March, and April, Gardner took time to chat with KNUS 710-AM’s Dan Caplis, a staunch right-wing Republican, who begged listeners during the last election to jump on the Trump bandwagon.

A recurrent issue on Caplis’ show is abortion, which he wants to ban. But he’s also a fierce opponent of Obamacare, legalized marijuana, gun-safety measures, and Democrats.

Caplis concluded his most recent conversation with Gardner by telling the senator that he’s “doing a great job back there.”

Gardner took time in February to talk to KNUS 710-AM’s Craig Silverman as well.

Like Caplis, Silverman is a huge Gardner fan, which he made clear by concluding his last Gardner interview with, “You always leave me in a good mood.”

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Mike Coffman Begs Gardner, Colorado GOP To Shut The Hell Up About “Fake Protesters”–And We Think He Means It

In the aftermath of yesterday’s brutal town hall starring perpetually embattled GOP Rep. Mike Coffman of Aurora, the Colorado Republican Party swung into action to denounce the “fake protesters” who “disrupted” the event, preventing “actual voters” from participating–this despite the fact that attendees had been carefully screened to allow only residents of Coffman’s congressional district to get in:

In response to this broadside, 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark asked a simple question–and the Colorado GOP doubled down:

Paying out a little more rope, Clark suggests the obvious–and gets even more smack:

With that, we’re pretty sure there’s no mistaking, this is how the Colorado GOP feels.

Of course, this is fully consistent with Sen. Cory Gardner’s allegation back in February that the throngs of protesters gathering weekly in Skyline Park outside his Denver offices were “paid protesters,” a charge readers will recall he was preposterously unable to defend when asked basic questions about it. Despite this, we haven’t seen or heard any retraction or apology from Gardner–and the state party’s doubling down on the allegation makes it all the more likely we never will.

Until a short while ago this evening, when Clark circled back with Rep. Coffman in a detailed interview about last night’s experience:

00:36 CLARK: The Colorado Republican Party said that the voters in the town hall last night who were booing you were ‘fake protesters.’ Do you think they’re ‘fake protesters?’

COFFMAN: You know, I really don’t. You know, God bless the Republican Party for what it does, but I don’t–the fact is that they had to register for the event because we wanted to make sure that the people were from the district. And so, ah, uh, I thought it was a great event, I thought it was very lively, uh, I thought, I felt they were very committed, uh, to their issues, uh granted the audience leans left relative to the district, but they’re the people who are most concerned. With potential changes, mostly to Medicaid. And so I respect the fact that, you know that they were there, they were voicing their views, and they were not shy about it.

CLARK: You got intelligent, thoughtful questions last night. I mean, they, they weren’t just out there to throw barbs, I felt like you got solid questions, that challenged where you stood on things. More broadly speaking, clearly there are groups of voters who get organized to go to these events t make noise, and your opponents are going to make hay out of that, and conservatives did the same thing when Obamacare was coming down the pike a couple of years ago. Do you wish the folks in your party would just move past the idea of calling them ‘fake,’ or ‘paid,’ and just engage?

COFFMAN: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I mean the fact is that, I think that the reality is, that sure there are some organizers there. But the vast majority of these people are simply committed activists in their own right. Uh, and they are not paid. They are simply, this is where their heart is. And I respect that.

However you feel about Coffman’s performance last night, or the answers he gave (or failed to give) to very specific and thoughtful questions leveled at him, his response is an expression of basic decency in the face of differing views that very many Republicans–not limited to the two examples above–have either forgotten or never possessed.

All the criticism of Coffman’s awful performance last night is warranted, and he’s doing a commendable thing by not trashing his constituents in response the next day. Life doesn’t always fit into a neat little package, and both of those things can be simultaneously true. We’d be inexcusably remiss if we didn’t give Coffman at least a small atta-boy for showing the voters of his district a modicum of respect.

And now, it’s time to “circle back” with Cory Gardner.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 11)

The Colorado Rockies are 5-3 going into tonight’s home series against San Diego, currently one of the worst teams in baseball. Here’s hoping baseball will matter in Colorado this summer. 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…

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) has already drawn a Democratic challenger for 2018. As Brian Eason writes for the Denver PostJason Crow brings a solid military background to the race:

An Army veteran, the 38-year-old Crow served three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, first as a paratrooper and then as a Ranger, before returning to Colorado for law school. Today, he’s a partner at the Denver law firm Holland and Hart, where he advises businesses on compliance issues involving government regulations.

Calling the country’s politics broken, Crow said he wants to focus on the issues that matter to working families and to break through the divisive partisanship that increasingly has come to define Congress and Washington.

 

► With Rep. Ed Perlmutter’s decision to run for Governor in 2018, the race to succeed him in CD-7 is underway. State Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) has already announced her bid, and state Senator Andy Kerr (D-Lakewood) will formally kick-off his campaign on Wednesday.

 

► Voters in Kansas get the first chance to use the ballot box to voice their displeasure with President Trump today. Republicans are nervous about a special election in Kansas’ 4th Congressional District, where Democrat James Thompson is making a late surge to defeat Republican Ron Estes in a fight for the seat that opened up when former Rep. Mike Pompeo was confirmed as Director of the CIA. As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN:

The race was clearly moving in Democrats’ favor over its final days. Noted nonpartisan political handicapping site The Cook Political Report moved the race from “Solid Republican” to “Lean Republican on Monday. “Republicans familiar with recent polling describe extremely high Democratic intensity and very low GOP enthusiasm in what is likely to be a very low turnout special,” wrote Cook House analyst David Wasserman.

A loss here would be a huge problem for Republicans — especially considering that they appear to be no better than an even-money bet to hold Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s now-vacant seat in another special election next Tuesday in Georgia’s 6th district.

President Trump carried this district by 27 points last November, so even a close race would be a major concern for the GOP.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

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.

Colorado GOP Barely Even Tries To Justify Syria Hypocrisy

Last night, President Donald Trump ordered a round of cruise missile strikes against a Syrian government airbase believed to have been the origin of an horrific chemical weapons attack on civilians and rebel-held positions in that country. The response from Colorado Republicans and Democrats to this strike was generally supportive on both sides–but as Denver7’s Blair Miller reports, Republican reactions to the strike are markedly different than a very similar situation in 2013, when President Barack Obama unsuccessfully sought permission to attack Syria after another incident where chemical weapons were used against civilians:

The reaction from many lawmakers to Thursday night’s U.S. attack on a Syrian air base that followed a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens earlier this week stands in stark contrast to their reactions when President Obama called for similar military actions in 2013.

Thousands of Syrians were hit with chemical weapons in a strike purportedly ordered by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Aug. 21, 2013.

As the Obama administration wringed its hands over how to respond to the attack, which was a violation of the Geneva Convention that bans the use of chemical weapons, most members of Congress also fretted over how the U.S. government might respond…

On Aug. 28 of that year, then-Rep. Cory Gardner, Rep. Scott Tipton, and Rep. Mike Coffman signed on to a House letter to Obama that urged the president to “consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria.”

“Engaging our military in Syria when no direct threat to the United States exists and without prior congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution,” the letter said. [Pols emphasis]

Cory Gardner, Mike Coffman, Scott Tipton, and Doug Lamborn.

As the situation developed in August of 2013, Colorado Republicans hardened in opposition to any use of force against Syria in response to the chemical weapons attack on Ghouta, Syria on August 21st of that year:

Coffman tweeted on Aug. 29 of that year, “Pres. Obama must obey Constitution and come to Congress before any military action in Syria,” a day after saying, “Your Colorado delegation agrees, no to war in Syria and yes to transparency from the President.”

…Gardner tweeted on Sept. 4 and 5 of that year that he was “skeptical” of the U.S. getting involved in Syria. On the 4th, he said, “I am not yet convinced of a compelling & vital national interest.” [Pols emphasis]

As for Rep. Doug Lamborn? You can just imagine:

Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., issued a statement Sept. 12 of that year saying, “Nothing I heard from President Obama tonight convinced me that a military strike against Syria is in America’s best interest,” adding that he had “lost confidence in the president’s ability to lead” and that neither classified nor unclassified briefings convinced him he should vote for or against any possible resolution to authorize military actions in Syria – a resolution that never came.

But as FOX 31 rounded up last night, that was then. This is what Cory Gardner says now:

Tonight, the United States of America took action against a treacherous regime whose actions and allies have shown the world the dark edge of humanity. The use of chemical weapons is illegal under international law and the Administration is well justified taking this long-overdue action tonight against a designated state sponsor of terrorism.

And Rep. Mike Coffman, for whom the War Powers Resolution was so critically important under Obama:

Tonight’s actions in Syria come after Assad’s horrific actions against his own people. America must show leadership and I’m thankful for what appears to be an effective response by our military.

And Rep. Doug Lamborn, who told Obama that striking Syria is not in America’s best interest–does he even remember what he said before?

Syrian President Assad continues to act far beyond the norms of civilized leaders. Unlike the previous administration which walked away from similar outrages, [Pols emphasis] President Trump is willing to send a clear signal of U.S. opposition to crimes against humanity.

In Blair’s story, Gardner makes a feeble attempt to justify this clear contradiction, claiming that the situation is worse now, even though many more civilians died in the 2013 chemical weapons attacks. As for Lamborn and Coffman, they don’t even try to make sense of what they said then versus now.

That’s because they can’t. The hypocrisy on display here is simply too much to explain away. The only real difference between the chemical attack by Syria in 2013 and the latest attack is the fact that a Republican is now President. And that means to these politicians, the lives lost and the moral need to respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction against civilians are all just part of the game.

However you feel about this military action, if that is not outrageous, nothing is.

Gardner Called Out on Rockies Opening Day

No letup in the accountability for Sen. Cory Gardner, as Denverite photog Kevin Beaty Tweets from the vicinity of Coors Field on the Rockies’ home opening day:

For those of us who need that zoomed in:

Gardner’s probably not back from D.C. yet after the Gorsuch vote, but he’s got a two-week recess to make good on this request. If he doesn’t, we would expect more attempts to make him regret it.

Writ large.

Cory Gardner “Shakes Up the Senate”

The United States Senate changed forever today when Senate President Mitch McConnell invoked the “nuclear option” in order to force through a confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. The Senate couldn’t reach the 60-vote threshold needed to end debate on the Gorsuch nomination, so McConnell just changed the rules and received the full support of his caucus to make it happen.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) voted in favor of the nuclear option, which reminded us of one of Gardner’s most infamous campaign advertisements from the 2014 election:

Indeed.

Gardner suggests using debt limit to shrink government

(Drown it in the bathtub, redux – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner.

On a conservative radio show yesterday, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) proposed tying any increase in the U.S. debt limit to reducing government regulations, raising the specter of stock market gyrations and economic problems that have accompanied uncertainty about America’s commitment making payments on its debt in the past.

“Why don’t we put a measure in place that says, ‘If you increase the debt a dollar, then you have to decrease the regulatory burden by 15 percent or something like that,'” Gardner told KNUS 710-AM’host Krista Kafer Tuesday (at 48 min 25 sec. here).  “Let’s make sure that we’re able to say, ‘You know what, if you’re going to do this, let’s make real government reforms happen and possible.”

Gardner pointed out that the federal government will  have to extend the U.S. debt limit this summer.

Gardner once suggested linking any increase in the debt limit to cutting Obamacare, even saying he’d force a government shut down to do so. He later backtracked on this stance.

Gardner’s proposal would certainly be controversial, possibly causing anxiety and delay in Congress, and it appears to run counter to Trump Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s desire to raise the debt limit quickly.

“As I said in my confirmation hearing, honoring the full faith and credit of our outstanding debt is a critical commitment,” Mnuchin said recently in a letter to congressional leaders. “I encourage Congress to raise the debt limit at the first opportunity so that we can proceed with our joint priorities.”

During the campaign, Trump said it was “worth a fight” to stop any increase in the debt limit–a position that U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman has also held in the past, once saying he didn’t think it would be a “huge deal” to go over the so-called “fiscal cliff” and not extend the debt limit.

Republicans and Democrats increased the debt limit over 100 times (Bush and Reagan did it) until 2011, when an impasse occurred.

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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