Get More Smarter on Monday (May 22)

Happy Victoria Day! 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 in the midst of his first major overseas trip since he took office (or as Trump calls it, “my big foreign trip“). Trump is in Israel today after spending the weekend in Saudi Arabia, where he put his hands on a glowing orb and generally enjoyed not talking about scandals involving Russia.

But then, Trump being Trump, he made sure to bring up “that Russia thing” in a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN:

“Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name ‘Israel’,'” Trump told reporters in Jerusalem. “Never mentioned it during that conversation. They were all saying I did. So you had another story wrong. Never mentioned the word ‘Israel’.”

The story Trump was reacting to was this one, which ran a week ago in the Washington Post. And the thing about that story is that, well, the word “Israel” is never mentioned. Not one time…

Trump is the denying an allegation that, literally, no news organization made. He’s also implicitly confirming that, yes, he did talk to the Russians about classified information. [Pols emphasis] While the president has total freedom to de-classify material, the White House has urged media organizations — including CNN — not to report on the specific information Trump passed along due to how highly sensitive it is.

In a separate story, Cillizza also notes that Trump is regularly contradicting himself on foreign policy. The Washington Post notes the same phenomenon.

 

► Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is expected to invoke his fifth amendment right to not incriminate himself in response to queries from the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding his interactions with Russian officials. From the Associated Press:

Attorneys for Michael Flynn say that a daily “escalating public frenzy against him” and the Justice Department’s appointment of a special counsel have created a legally dangerous environment for him to cooperate with a Senate investigation.

That’s according to a letter obtained by The Associated Press that was written on behalf of the former national security adviser under President Donald Trump. The letter, sent Monday by Flynn’s legal team to the Senate Intelligence committee, lays out the case for Flynn to invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and his decision not to produce documents in response to a congressional subpoena.

The letter says that the current context of the Senate’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election threatens that “any testimony he provides could be used against him.”

 

► The Supreme Court has ruled that Republicans in North Carolina illegally disenfranchised African-American voters in the state’s last round of redistricting. From the Washington Post:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature unlawfully relied on race when drawing two of the state’s congressional districts.

The decision continued a trend at the court, where justices have found that racial considerations improperly predominated in redistricting decisions by Republican-led legislatures in Virginia, Alabama and North Carolina. Some involved congressional districts, others legislative districts…

…In the split decision, Justice Clarence Thomas joined the liberal justices in saying race improperly predominated the drawing of the district. New Justice Neil M. Gorsuch was not on the court when the case was heard, and took no part in the decision.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

“Blowhard Brauchler” Out Over His Skis Once Again

George Brauchler.

On Friday, Gov. John Hickenlooper pardoned Rene Lima-Marin, a Cuban immigrant who had endured a terrible legal ordeal after being released mistakenly, re-incarcerated years later, ordered released again, then picked up by federal immigration agents for deportation as a legal immigrant who committed a felony. Hickenlooper’s pardon removes the underlying basis for Lima-Marin’s deportation, but it remains an open question whether the Trump administration will honor the pardon and halt his removal from the country.

In response to Hickenlooper’s pardon, GOP gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler launched into a Twitter tirade attacking the decision, later issuing a press statement asserting that Hickenlooper’s pardon was not legal–despite the fact that Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly had asked for it.

That’s where the Denver Post’s Danika Worthington picks up the story:

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper responded Saturday to criticism from District Attorney George Brauchler of his pardoning of Rene Lima-Marin, rejecting claims that he had acted improperly and broken the law in his haste to act.

The governor’s office said it had given proper notice to the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s office, even receiving a lengthy letter in reply. Additionally, the office said it was within the governor’s authority to skip the standard seven-year waiting period typically required for pardons.

But Brauchler responded later in the day to counter Hickenlooper’s claims — another war of words between two frequent rivals, especially now that the district attorney is campaigning for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018.

Brauchler said his office received a clemency application for Lima-Marin, not one for a pardon, as required by law… [Pols emphasis]

The Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning goes down the process rabbit hole with Brauchler…and comes up empty:

Brauchler acknowledged Lima-Marin had filed an application for a commutation of his sentence, and his office had provided input on that to the governor’s office earlier this week.

“But a commutation of sentence is very different from a pardon,” he said. “We never had the victims consulted about a pardon. We never had input with the governor about a pardon. I was caught completely unaware the governor was considering a pardon…”

State Sen. Owen Hill, a Colorado Springs Republican who sponsored legislation last month calling on Hickenlooper to grant clemency to Lima-Marin — the Legislature approved the resolution unanimously — dismissed Brauchler’s complaints. [Pols emphasis]

“Reuniting Rene with his family is the right thing to do for him, his wife and his children,” Hill told The Statesman Friday night.

And the truly absurd part? Brauchler says he supports the hoped-for outcome of Hickenlooper’s pardon. Post:

Brauchler was careful to clarify that he believes Lima-Marin should be released and he opposes the move to deport him to Cuba — even as he objected to the pardon decision. [Pols emphasis]

Again, the reason Hickenlooper had to move quickly is Lima-Marin is by all accounts on a fast track for deportation. Without the pardon, his deportation is more or less automatic as long as the host nation of Cuba is willing and able to receive him–and they say they are. Recent changes to immigration policy toward Cuba and the general warming of relations between the two nations ironically makes it more likely that people in Lima-Marin’s situation, having come to America as children and knowing no other home, will be kicked out.

As for Brauchler, this is just shallow grandstanding. The governor’s constitutional authority to grant pardons supersedes Brauchler’s objections, and Brauchler concedes the moral high ground to Hickenlooper by agreeing that Lima-Marin should be freed. Brauchler clearly wants this to be a political fight over crime and immigration, not process questions–but he’s hiding behind the latter in an attempt to have it both ways.

And except for a few haters who need no encouraging to vilify immigrants, this isn’t going to help Brauchler become governor.

Hickenlooper Pardons Rene Lima-Marin While Brauchler Fumes

UPDATE: Bad news via 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger:

—–

Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The Denver Post’s Kevin Simpson reporting, Gov. John Hickenlooper took swift action this afternoon to prevent the deportation of Rene Lima-Marin, a Cuban immigrant whose criminal case became a cause célèbre for state legislators before they realized he was subject to deportation:

Gov. John Hickenlooper said Friday he has issued an extraordinary pardon for Rene Lima-Marin, who was mistakenly released early from a long prison sentence only to be sent back after he had forged a productive new life as a husband and father.

Lima-Marin was freed from his Colorado prison sentence earlier this week and then held by federal immigration authorities. State lawmakers, Lima-Marin’s family and others had urged the governor to act quickly to prevent what they feared would be imminent deportation to his native Cuba…

“We thought it through well,” Hickenlooper said, pointing to bipartisan unity in the state legislature resolution that called for clemency. He added that it would be a “terrible symbol” to snatch away Lima-Marin’s freedom once again.

Asked what he hopes happens to Lima-Marin now, the governor said: “I hope he doesn’t get deported.”

The governor added that with the pardon, he has done everything he can at this point to stop deportation.

We noted yesterday how at least one GOP lawmaker was still fighting for Lima-Marin’s freedom even after it came out that he was subject to deportation for the crime he originally committed–though we were waiting to hear from others to know if this was as unanimous as the original resolution calling for Lima-Marin’s release was.

Post-pardon, GOP gubernatorial candidate George Brauchler is making it painfully clear he does not approve:

So…we assume there’s a big disagreement here between Brauchler and the entire Republican caucus in the Colorado General Assembly? That’s what we have to assume until we see some more statements from Republican lawmakers. It’s going to be difficult for Brauchler to make much political hay out of this unless a bunch of silent Republicans who were in support of Lima-Marin’s freedom come out with a different opinion now.

As for Gov. Hickenlooper, it’s true that he has now done everything he can. If President Trump wants to make a political martyr of a man who has already been through a bizarre and painful mistake in the criminal justice system, it’s his fire to play with.

And now, George Brauchler’s too.

Trump Immigration Crackdown Trips Up Colorado GOP

9NEWS’ Kyle Clark reports on a fascinating development in a story that attracted much attention at the close of this year’s legislative session in Colorado–a prison inmate named Rene Lima-Marin who was mistakenly released early and then re-incarcerated, prompting a bipartisan push from legislators to win his freedom.

Apparently, no one expected what came next:

Rene Lima-Marin is now in the custody of Immigrations and Customs Agents who – years ago – had flagged him for deportation. Lima-Marin’s immigration status and possible deportation were not known to the judge who freed him, the state legislators who rallied to his cause, or the public which was implored to support his release.

Lima Marin’s advocates say he was brought to the US as a child fleeing Cuba. Cubans special status in the U.S. meant he wasn’t at risk for deportation, until he became a convicted felon in 2000. ICE flagged him for possible deportation at that time.

The ruling this week by Judge Carlos Samour did not mention Lima-Marin’s immigration status. A court spokesman confirms the Judge didn’t know he was freeing a man into the hands of ICE agents. He found out on Wednesday.

Fascinatingly, none of the politicians in either party who championed Lima-Marin’s release from prison were aware that, as a Cuban immigrant, he could be deported for his crime despite having been granted permission to remain in the country upon entry as a Cuban immigrant.

A bill in support of Lima Marin had broad bi-partisan support at the state legislature. We talked to two Democratic sponsors – Rep. Joe Salazar and Sen. Dominick Moreno – who said they did not know Lima Marin was flagged for deportation – but that wouldn’t have changed their stance. We haven’t heard back from Republican sponsors – Rep. Dave Williams and Sen. Owen Hill.

Late last night, GOP Rep. Dave Williams, who gained nationwide notoriety for his controversial failed legislation to punish so-called “sanctuary cities” this year, did respond to the news:

I’m committed to ensuring that Rene is not sent back to a communist country that is ruled by a cruel and repressive regime.  I will still do everything I can to help reunite Rene with his family while respecting the rule of law.

To which we can only say, thank goodness the guy’s from Cuba! Because otherwise he’d just be a noncitizen who committed a felony–exactly the kind of person President Donald Trump wants to deport. We’ll be very interested in seeing other Republicans who championed Lima-Marin’s freedom speak out–not least since their greater pull with the Republican administration in Washington could prove much more influential on this man’s behalf than Rep. Joe Salazar and a bunch of state house Democrats.

Whatever local Republicans do next, it’s a very straightforward question now whether they would have voted overwhelmingly to support Rene Lima-Marin’s release if they had known ICE would be waiting to pick him up. Freshman Rep. Williams may be willing to quietly munch on his crow, but we have trouble believing that will be a unanimous response from the GOP caucus.

Not to mention the soul searching. There really ought to be some soul searching.

Trump Deputy Gorka on CO talk show: End nuclear deal unilaterally

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

On Sunday, May 7, 2017,  Trump’s Deputy Assistant “Dr* Sebastian Gorka chatted with KVOR radio host Tron Simpson. I listened, and it raised several questions:

  • Why was a top level Presidential appointee slumming on a right wing talk show in Colorado Springs?
  • Is “*Dr.” Gorka still a part of the President’s National Security Council, or isn’t he?
  • Was a right wing Sunday talk radio show really the best time and place to announce that he wanted the US to pull out of an Iranian nuclear deal, even if Iran complied with the terms of the deal?
  • How does this guy even still have a job as deputy assistant to the President? He was supposed to have been kicked out of the White House because of his associations with a Hungarian Nazi group, Vitezi Rend.

For the first twenty minutes of the 5/7 “Weekend Talk with Tron” segment, host Tron Simpson was predictably Tea Party partisan: Obamacare was horrible, the AHCA will liberate us from tax tyranny, we need a Convention of States to amend the Constitution.

At 21:03, Tron introduced Gorka, the on-again, off-again deputy assistant to the President.

Gorka at CPAC panel 2/24/17

Gorka (3rd from l) on CPAC panel 2/24/17. Gorka representing Breitbart News.  Photo by Gage Skidmore, used with Creative Commons permissions.

Then Gorka began to speak. first praising his boss, Donald Trump, as the “man who changed the geopolitical landscape with just one summit.” Tron was talking about Trump’s dinner with Chinese President Xi (complete with beautiful chocolate cake), after which Trump announced that we had bombed Syria. There was no mention of candidate Trump’s previous denunciations of China as a currency manipulator.

Praising that Syria strike, which may have killed 100 people, Gorka said that we had “Eight years of divisiveness, and now we’ve replaced it with Donald J Trump’s decisiveness.”

(more…)

Boulder To Jeff Sessions: Keep The Change

Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The Boulder Daily Camera’s Alex Burness reports:

The city and county of Boulder stand to lose a small amount of budget funding if the Justice Department makes good on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s threat to withhold grant money from so-called “sanctuary” communities.

In a short appearance at Monday’s White House press briefing, Sessions said the Justice Department would require cities seeking some of the $4.1 billion available in grant money to verify that they are in compliance with a section of federal law that allows information sharing with immigration officials.

Boulder, a self-proclaimed sanctuary city, is slated to receive DOJ funding this year, as in 2015 and 2016, in grants that go toward the salaries of two officers through the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office…

Boulder’s “sanctuary” policy, passed shortly before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, promises “no city employee shall inquire into a person’s immigration status,” and formally bans city employees from cooperating with federal authorities with regard to any investigation of a person’s immigration status.

Apparently, the total amount of funding Attorney General Jeff Sessions has the power to threaten Boulder with is somewhere between $23,000 and $25,000. In terms of the total budget for the city of Boulder, somewhere around .007%–small enough to be a rounding error. It’s safe to say the potential loss of those funds will not be enough to deter the city from what it considers a much larger humanitarian obligation.

In fact, it’s a small enough number to serve as a punchline. Chalk it up as the latest Trump administration grandstand that ended with a whimper.

Meet Phil Covarrubias, Colorado’s Newest National Disgrace

Rep. Phil Covarrubias (R).

News this week of a freshman Republican legislator defending the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II didn’t move the needle much in Colorado media, but national outlets jumped on the story you read about here first–credit where due to the exception locally, Denverite’s Erica Meltzer:

The liberal site Colorado Pols (totally unrelated to Colorado Politics) first highlighted Covarrubias’ remarks and uploaded the YouTube video recorded from the state’s official legislative channel.

Then picked up in the Huffington Post:

Covarrubias compared the fears after the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack to the fears Americans have now after recent acts of terrorism, such as in Orlando, Florida, and San Bernardino, California.

“What happened prior to [the camps] that kicked all this off? I think we were attacked at Pearl Harbor,” he added. “I think we need to look at the Americans that are in fear from the terrorism and the things that we’ve seen over the last few years especially.”

Despite Covarrubias’ attempts to kill HB 1230, the bill passed the second reading and is headed to the House floor for a third and final reading before it goes to the Republican held Senate, where it’s chances of passage are slim, according to The Durango Herald.

And then the Washington Post:

“We keep hearing about how things went down with the Japanese people. For anybody that has never been in the heat of combat, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and all of that was going on, there’s no time to ask questions and find out who’s a citizen and who’s not,” Covarrubias said. “You don’t have that moment in time. You need to regroup. It’s easy to sit up here and say this stuff now. But if you’re in that moment, it looks a lot different than being able to be in a nice suit and tie.”

He continued: “I hear people saying that we need to respect other people’s rights, and I agree with that, but what about them respecting our rights and our country and our laws? Because I’m not hearing that up here.”

Later on in the hearing, Covarrubias once again seemed to defend the mass internment of Japanese American citizens by pointing out that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. That attack, he said, was “what happened prior … that kicked all this off.”

And then national NBC News:

CAPAC chair U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) called Covarrubias’ remarks unacceptable.

“It’s outrageous that we have to keep reiterating that the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II was wrong,” she said Thursday in a statement. “History doesn’t repeat itself because we forget. It repeats itself because apologists like Rep. Covarrubias attempt to convince us these atrocious actions were justified.

(more…)

Tom Tancredo Behind Racist Joe Salazar Smear?

UPDATE #2: Salzman still on the case:

For our part, we stand by our original assertion that the Salazar/ISIS graphic was made by the same person who made various graphics for Tom Tancredo shown below. This shouldn’t be that hard to figure out.

—–

UPDATE: Via Jason Salzman, Tom Tancredo denies being the source of this graphic:

So, maybe he needs to call his graphic guy.

—–

House Bill 17-1230, the Ralph Carr Freedom Protection Act, passed the Colorado House yesterday after debate turned nasty–with freshman Rep. GOP Phil Covarrubias defending the internment of Japanese-Americans as a way to disparage Democrats’ choice to name the bill after Colorado’s wartime Gov. Ralph Carr. Carr, as local history students know well, stood up for Japanese-American internees arriving in Colorado under threats of violence.

Today, the bill’s sponsor Rep. Joe Salazar was subjected to a rather shocking racist and xenophobic attack from an anonymous social media source. Pardon our reposting, which isn’t meant to endorse its objectionable message:

So, this graphic appeared on the Twitter #copolitics channel, posted by an anonymous account that seems to be devoted to attacking Rep. Dan Pabon. But if you take a look at the colors and font used to make this Photoshopped image, there’s somebody else out there posting graphics that are strikingly similar–and not anonymously at all:

You can see clearly the same typeface being used in these Photoshopped graphics, produced either by former Rep. Tom Tancredo personally or someone working for him. Also, that’s the same pic of Rep. Salazar in the image above as is Photoshopped onto the ISIS commander in the latest image. All things being equal, this is about as close to being caught red-handed as the anonymous internets allow without a court order.

As anybody who knows his history knows well, Tancredo doesn’t shy away from controversial statements–he’s made a career of them, after all. So it’s interesting to see Tancredo hiding behind an anonymous Twitter troll to lob this kind of nastiness at Rep. Salazar.

Maybe even Tom Tancredo realizes when it’s going too far? Because this latest insult against Rep Salazar certainly does.

Developing: State Rep. Defends Japanese-American Internment

UPDATE: Release from Colorado House Democrats on today’s debate:

In the first real floor fight of the session, the Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act by Reps. Joe Salazar and Daneya Esgar earned initial approval from the House on second reading this morning. The bill protects Colorado state agencies from being forced to participate in overreaching federal programs targeting religious or ethnic communities…

Through several attempted amendments, the House Republicans tried to weaken or alter the bill and to exempt undocumented Coloradans from the protections under the Ralph Carr Act. Had the amendments passed, it would have been a stark departure from settled law that establishes that the rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution apply to everyone in the country, regardless of immigration status.

“The reason that we, the USA, are a beacon of hope for the rest of the world, is because the rights of the United States apply to everyone,” said Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver. “Every single amendment in the Constitution applies to everyone in the United States of America.”

Close to the end of the debate, Rep. Phil Covarrubias, R-Brighton, seemed to excuse the internment of Japanese Americans, including U.S. citizens, during World War II. “We keep hearing about how things went down with the Japanese people—for anyone that has never been in the heat of combat, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and all of that was going on—there’s no time to ask questions and find out who is a citizen and who’s not,” he said.

The Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act prohibits state and local governments from giving information about a Coloradan’s race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, or religious affiliation to the federal government unless it is for a legal and constitutional purpose.

—–

We’re monitoring debate today on the floor of the Colorado House over House Bill 17-1230, the Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act, a bill to protect “Colorado residents from federal government overreach based on a person’s status.” The bill draws its name from Gov. Ralph Carr, the Republican governor of Colorado who stood up for the welfare and dignity of Japanese-American internees during World War II, and gained new urgency after President Donald Trump began making good on his threats to ban travel to the U.S. from certain Muslim nations and rounding up immigrant mothers.

Debate on this bill today in the House has been fierce and ugly. Republicans have led a drive to pull Gov. Carr’s name off the bill, and to insert language from Rep. Dave Williams’ failed bill to penalize so-called “sanctuary cities”–both actions that Democrats found highly objectionable given the bill’s intentions and namesake.

And then freshman Rep. Philip Covarrubias, Republican of Adams County, took it a step beyond:

“We keep hearing about how things went down with the Japanese people. For anybody who has never been in the heat of combat, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and all of that was going on, there’s no time to ask questions about who’s a citizen and who’s not.

“You don’t have that moment in time. You need to regroup. It’s easy to sit up here and say this stuff now. If you’re in that moment, it looks a lot different than being able to be in a nice suit and tie. I hear people saying that we need to respect other people’s rights, and I agree with that. But what about THEM respecting OUR rights, our country and our laws? Because I’m not hearing that up here.”

 

You heard that correctly. That’s Rep. Phil Covarrubias defending the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

And then a little while later, he did it again:

“I’m wondering why the need for the Ralph Carr to explain Japanese-Americans [sic]. What happened prior to this that kicked this all off? I think we were attacked at Pearl Harbor. We need to look at the Americans that are in fear from terrorism, and all of things that we’ve seen over the last few years especially.

“Everybody’s talking about the ‘immigrants’ being in fear, or the other people being in fear. But what about our own people? What about Florida? What about San Bernardino? What about the things that we need to protect and we hold dear here in our own country? We need to take care of our home here and realize that we have plenty of citizens that are in fear. Yes, do we need a better path? Maybe so. But for right now today the way that the law is and the way that it stands, this is where we’re at. I want to protect us. Thank you.”


And with that, Gov. Carr can fairly be said to be rolling in his grave.

Get More Smarter on Friday (March 10)

Fifty. That’s how many days Donald Trump has now been in the White House. Let’s go ahead and see if we can 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…

► Congressional Republicans are nervously awaiting the results of a Congressional Budget Office assessment of Trumpcare. As Politico reports:

The fate of Obamacare may lie in the hands of a number-crunching Republican appointee whose bottom line might single-handedly blow up the GOP quest to repeal and replace it.

Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall was handpicked two years ago by top Republicans in Congress — including now Health and Human Service Secretary Tom Price — to lead a nonpartisan office that will soon release its estimate of how many Americans the Republican health care bill will cover and whether it shrinks or balloons the federal deficit…

…Hall, in the post for two years, has already signaled that his office won’t soft-pedal the coverage assessments. If a health plan doesn’t have comprehensive benefits, it won’t count as coverage. Fearing a bad CBO “score,” Republicans facing backlash in their drive to gut Obamacare are turning the budget agency and its team of professional economic analysts into a punching bag as they try to discredit it. [Pols emphasis]

Republican leaders, meanwhile, are finding that it is difficult to enact new healthcare legislation at the same time that President Trump is sowing widespread confusion with differing remarks on a potential compromise policy.

 

► Colorado business leaders (and the Denver Post editorial board) are praising a potential legislative compromise that could place a tax increase for infrastructure improvements on the November ballot. As the Denver Business Journal reports, that doesn’t mean some conservative Republicans won’t continue to oppose the idea:

Conservative politicians and organizations savaged a bipartisan transportation-funding bill Thursday as offering a burdensome tax hike without commensurate spending cuts, while liberal groups gave it better reviews, despite the proposal containing less transit funding than they had sought.

The reaction — particularly a statement from state House Republican leaders that they will “aggressively oppose” the plan — showed that House Bill 1242, introduced late Wednesday, will have tough roads to travel even to get onto the November statewide ballot.

That path is difficult enough, in fact, that the Colorado Contractors Association, one of the primary supporters of this and past road-funding measures, will go ahead and file its own tax-increase ballot measure on Friday as a back-up plan in the event that the Legislature kills HB 1242.

The Denver Post has more on the predictable knee-jerk reaction from conservative Republicans who don’t have a solution of their own to Colorado’s transportation problems but simply oppose any effort to raise taxes for any reason whatsoever.

 

► Politico takes a look at the prospects for President Trump’s border wall with Mexico, which may or may not end up being built out of Legos:

Trump is claiming that the ambitious — and hugely controversial — construction plan is “way, way, way ahead of schedule,” but in reality, there is growing evidence that Trump’s central campaign pledge is in political peril…

…As the issues mount, several prominent Republicans are making their concerns more explicit.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told constituents during a telephone town hall Wednesday that “billions of dollars on a wall is not the right way to proceed” to secure the border, according to audio obtained by POLITICO on Thursday. “I don’t support a tariff to pay for any kind of wall.”…

…”We shouldn’t just build a wall and add billions of dollars because that’s what somebody said should be done,” Gardner said.

Federal budget gurus are trying to figure out the most cost-effective material for a wall, but they still haven’t even begun to deal with the “eminent domain” problem that could skyrocket the potential price tag.

 

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

“Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act” Answers New Trump EO

Gov. Ralph Carr (R).

A press release from the Colorado House Democratic majority late today, but still in time for the same news cycle as President Donald Trump’s revised executive order barring travel to the United States by persons from several Muslim majority nations–announcing the introduction of House Bill 17-1230, Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act:

Reps. Joe Salazar and Daneya Esgar introduced a bill this afternoon that protects Coloradans against federal overreach targeting various Colorado communities and ensuring the state never has a repeat of its tragic history regarding Japanese internment during World War II.

“The Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act protects Colorado’s state rights by ensuring Colorado does not aid or assist any federal overreach that would set up a registry for Muslims or other religious groups, create internment camps, or attempt to identify individuals by their race, religion, nationality, or immigration status and ethnicity—all of which go against our American and Colorado values and our U.S. and state Constitutions,” said Rep. Salazar, D-Thornton. “We’re not going to allow Colorado communities to be terrorized by federal overreach.” [Pols emphasis]

HB17-1230 is named after Republican Colorado Governor Ralph Carr, who in response to the 1942 Executive Order signed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt vigorously opposed the creation of the Japanese internment camps in Colorado. He is remembered for courageously stating: “An American citizen of Japanese descent has the same rights as any other citizen…. If you harm them, you must first harm me.”

“The Ralph Carr Freedom Defense Act builds upon Carr’s legacy of using states’ rights to protect citizens from federal overreach,” said Rep. Esgar, D-Pueblo. “It was not that long ago that 7,318 Coloradans—mostly American citizens of Japanese descent—were forcibly imprisoned right here in our state. We cannot repeat that shameful period and we must reject any attempt to create a religious registry, create internment camps, or attempt to identify individuals by their race or ethnicity.”

In addition to the obvious message, what this legislation appears to be about is giving Colorado state and local governments a defense to avoid complicity in the commission of illegal acts–to include acts with the force of law that are not constitutional. President Trump’s new executive order, which may or may not have been sufficiently tailored to be “court proof,” makes this bill most timely–but it’s certainly not the only context in which it might apply. Depending on where you get your analysis, some of the possibilities are rather unpleasant to say the least.

With that said, the bill is certain to provoke lively debate on the way to passage in the Colorado House. In the GOP-controlled Senate its prospects are less certain, of course, but given the number if civil libertarian-minded Republicans out there who are increasingly reluctant to go along with the new party line, anything could hypothetically happen.

For today, it’s enough to observe that Gov. Ralph Carr (R) would be proud to see this bill.

Cardboard Cory: The Most Popular Cardboard Cutout Ever


Cardboard Cory.

Denver7’s Oscar Contreras reports from Friday night’s “town hall” for Sen. Cory Gardner at Byers Middle School in Denver–an event that Sen. Gardner declined to attend, but was nonetheless headlined by…we’ll let Denver7 explain:

Hundreds of Coloradans have wanted to speak with Sen. Cory Gardner since the beginning of the year. Friday night, he finally granted them that wish – sort of – as a cutout of the Republican senator made an appearance at a local middle school.

About 1,500 people showed up to an “in absentia” town hall meeting at Byers Middle School, where constituents hoped to talk about pressing issues currently affecting them.

“Over 14,000 people have signed a petition requesting a meeting; hundreds of people have either called or protested outside his office requesting the same. But so far, Senator Gardner has said no,” said Katie Farnan, a lead organizer with Indivisible Front Range Resistance, a progressive group.

That’s right–over 1,500 people showed up on a Friday evening at an urban Denver public school with horrible parking (Washington Park, after all) to share their concerns with a cardboard cutout of Sen. Cory Gardner. And as the Denver Post’s Hayley Sanchez reports, the crowd knew it all along:

“I am not a paid protester,” [Christine Robinson of Parker] said while waiting in line, which wrapped around the block of the middle school. “We’re here to send a loud message — to listen to us. He does not want to.” [Pols emphasis]

Robinson said she thinks many Coloradans oppose some of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet selections — including Betsy DeVos, for secretary of Education, and Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency — but Gardner is voting against his constituents’ wishes.

Here’s the two-hour “town hall” in its entirety, with the main event starting just about 20 minutes in:

Gardner did issue a statement about this event Friday, in which he studiously ignored its existence and praised himself for the generally nonpublic appearances he has made in the past week of congressional recess. It was something for the media to print, but nobody who attended this event, or several other Gardner-less “town halls” held this week will find it very satisfying.

What can we add about the bizarre spectacle of over 1,500 people who turned out to talk to a cardboard cutout? Well, it’s a clever way to point out Gardner’s very deliberate lack of accessibility to his Colorado constituents–a point that has been driven home by huge protests outside his offices, and a dramatic confrontation on video this week as Gardner tried and failed to slip into an office building in Interlocken to meet with somebody “more important” than the constituents waiting for him in the lobby.

There’s no question at this point that Gardner has become the local face of developments in GOP-owned Washington, D.C., and the perception that he doesn’t want to answer for what’s happening to the constituents who elected him is politically very damaging. It has begun to stand out among national political observers that Gardner is well out of step with the desires of Colorado voters. It’s true that Gardner will not be up for election until 2020, the same year President Donald Trump will be up for election again. That extra padding of time for Gardner may give him, even after a difficult week like this one, hope that he can triangulate his way through.

But if thousands of people are willing to show up to put “Cardboard Cory” on notice, that’s a bad sign.

CPAC Conference? Call It The Beau-PAC Conference!

Bob Beauprez (right).

With the upcoming 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington making headlines after disinviting their keynote speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, those of us with Google alerts tracking two-time Colorado gubernatorial loser Bob Beauprez are getting fresh updates. As Politico reported yesterday on the controversy:

Milo Yiannopoulos lost his keynote speaking slot at the Conservative Political Action Conference after tapes surfaced of the right wing provocateur and senior Breitbart editor advocating for sexual relationships between “younger boys and older men.”

“Due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia, the American Conservative Union has decided to rescind the invitation,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the group which sponsors CPAC, in a statement Monday afternoon. The group called Yiannopoulos to “further address these disturbing comments,” but defended its original decision to invite him as a nod to “the free speech issue on college campuses.”

…President Donald Trump, along with Vice President Mike Pence, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, will be headlining this year’s event, along with top White House aides Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus. But the Milo controversy quickly threatened to taint the event and raised questions about what it would mean if other speakers still attended.

CPAC organizers had a conference call at 1 p.m. on Monday to discuss the controversy and how to address it, according to a GOP source familiar with the matter. The decision to disinvite Yiannopoulos was unanimous and did not even need to be deliberated, the person said. Among those on the call were ACU board members Amy Frederick, Bob Beauprez, Mike Rose, Matt Smith, Matt Schlapp and Becky Norton Dunlop, along with Vice Chair of the ACU Foundation Millie Hallow. [Pols emphasis]

To have been a fly on the wall for that conference call! There hasn’t been much coverage of the Yiannopoulos meltdown in local press, which is odd since he just toured through Colorado on a college speaking tour that generated plenty of earned media. But it seems to us that somebody should pick up the phone and ask American Conservative Union board member Beauprez what led to their unanimous decision to ban this guy.

And if you happen to be headed to CPAC this weekend, you can catch Beauprez as the moderator of this truly fascinating panel discussion on Saturday morning:

We can’t explain the ID of Beauprez as the representative of Colorado’s 10th congressional district, since Colorado only has seven congressional districts. Perhaps it’s an acknowledgement of how long Beauprez has been out of office? We digress. Anyway, we are of course very interested in hearing what Beauprez and Rep. Ken Buck have to say about border security.

In…Heaven. Aren’t you at least a bit curious?

BREAKING: Trump Considers Mobilizing Colorado National Guard

UPDATE: The White House denies the AP’s report, while 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark notes the politics:

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National Guard troops in riot gear.

Breaking moments ago from the Associated Press:

The Trump administration is considering a proposal to mobilize as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up unauthorized immigrants, including millions living nowhere near the Mexico border, according to a draft memo obtained by The Associated Press.

The 11-page document calls for the unprecedented militarization of immigration enforcement as far north as Portland, Oregon, and as far east as New Orleans, Louisiana.

Four states that border on Mexico are included in the proposal — California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but it also encompasses seven states contiguous to those four — Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, [Pols emphasis] Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana.

…While National Guard personnel have been used to assist with immigration-related missions on the U.S.-Mexico border before, they have never been used as broadly or as far north.

The report claims that governors in the affected states will have the option to not participate in this mobilization of National Guard forces to round up undocumented immigrants, and it’s our assumption that Gov. John Hickenlooper will have no part in any such plan–despite the enormous pressure we expect would be brought to bear for him to take part.

Readers, the implications of this story–a massive domestic military operation to round up and deport millions of people from the United States–are too great to enumerate in our forum. It’s true that President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail forced us all to contemplate what the fulfillment of his campaign pledges would look like–but even since taking office and attempting to keep some of his worst promises, there was a sense that it could only go so far.

Well folks, as of right now, there is no such firewall. And our worst fears are coming true.

Courts Again Reject Travel Ban; Trump Throws a Fit

President Trump is not pleased that the Judiciary Branch isn’t doing what he wants.

As the Washington Post reports:

A federal appeals court panel has maintained the freeze on President Trump’s controversial immigration order, meaning previously barred refugees and citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries can continue entering the United States.

In a unanimous, 29-page opinion, three judges with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit flatly rejected the government’s argument that the suspension of the order should be lifted immediately for national security reasons and forcefully asserted their ability to serve as a check on the president’s power.

The judges wrote that any suggestion that they couldn’t “runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.”

The judges did not declare outright that the ban was meant to disfavor Muslims — essentially saying it was too early for them to render a judgment on that question. But their ruling is undeniably a blow to the government and means the ban will remain off for the foreseeable future.

Trump reacted angrily on Twitter, posting just minutes after the ruling, “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!” The Justice Department, which was defending the administration’s position, said in a statement it was “reviewing the decision and considering its options.”

Uh, oh. President Trump broke out the “ALL CAPS.”