Get More Smarter on Valentine’s Day (February 14)

Because true love is measured by heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. 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…

► Colorado Senate Republicans somehow managed to figure out a way to enact the worst possible response to claims of sexual harassment against one of its members. After waiting for weeks to take action on the results of an investigation into sexual harassment claims against state Sen. Randy Baumgardner, Senate President Kevin Grantham orchestrated a truly absurd response on Tuesday. This editorial from the Aurora Sentinel sums up the nonsense well:

It was, at best, one of the most astonishing exhibitions of political tone deafness ever to ring out in the State Capitol. More likely, it was an ill-conceived scheme to diminish or dismiss allegations against Baumgardner, which, as told, border on assault. Grantham issued a scathing letter to the press, in which he tries to undermine the investigation conducted by an outside human relations consultant, without ever offering any details or explanation as to why he denounced the process. Then Grantham issued an edict that he considers “the matter closed.”…

Baumgardner should either offer credible proof of his allegations that his accuser is a liar, or that the investigation was rigged, or he should offer a meaningful apology and resign from the state Senate.

Grantham has shown he hasn’t the temperament, the understanding nor the ethical temerity to lead the Senate chamber. He should step down as president now. [Pols emphasis]

Grantham will have a few more opportunities to screw this up even further. An investigation into an allegation of sexual harassment against Republican state Sen. Jack Tate was made available to Grantham on Monday — the same day that second sexual harassment complaint was formally filed against Baumgardner.

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, are pushing ahead with a resolution to expel Baumgardner from the State Capitol entirely.

 

► Republicans are losing fundraising battles all across the country as more evidence of a rising Blue Wave presents itself. As Politico explains:

For the third Florida bellwether election in a row, the Republican candidate lost to the Democrat, giving activists and elites in both parties a sense that the GOP’s political grip is slipping in the nation’s largest swing state heading into President Donald Trump’s first midterm election.

Aside from her big 7.4 percentage-point win, what made Margaret Good’s victory Tuesday night over Republican James Buchanan so significant was that it took place in Florida’s 72nd House District. It had been held by a Republican in Sarasota County, where registered Republicans outnumber Democrats by 12,000, or about 10 percentage points. Buchanan, the son of local Congressman Vern Buchanan, also had an advantage in name ID.

And Trump had carried the district by 4.6 percentage points in a state that he won by just 1.2 points in November.

Have fun with this, “Chairman Gardner.”

 

► Questions surrounding the White House’s coddling of former staff secretary/domestic abuser Rob Porter continue to grow as more evidence suggests the Trump administration made a conscious effort to keep Porter on the job. From the Washington Post:

The White House struggled Tuesday to contain a widening crisis over its handling of domestic violence allegations against a senior official, as it reeled after sworn testimony by the FBI chief directly contradicted what President Trump’s aides had presented as the official version of events.

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the bureau had completed a background report on then-staff secretary Rob Porter last July and closed out the case entirely last month. Wray’s account is at odds with White House claims that the investigation required for Porter’s security clearance was “ongoing” until he left his job last week, after his two ex-wives publicly alleged physical and emotional abuse.

The latest bout of turbulence is exacerbated by the administration’s reputation, earned over 13 chaotic months, for flouting institutional norms and misrepresenting facts to the public — a culture set by the president himself.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Wednesday Open Thread

“We’re male chauvinist pigs, and we’re happy to be because we think that’s what men were destined to be. We think that’s what women want.”

–Rush Limbaugh

BREAKING: Baumgardner Receives Voluntary Wrist-Slap

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s John Frank reporting that Democrats will proceed with a resolution to expel Sen. Randy Baumgardner from the Colorado Senate.

On the heels of Tuesday’s announcement, Senate Democrats pledged to ratchet up the political pressure, telling the Post they plan to introduce a resolution to expel the embattled Republican.

Under the Colorado Constitution, each chamber has the ability to remove one of its members from office for bad behavior by a two-thirds vote. But it has only happened once — the 1915 expulsion of Rep. William Howland in the wake of a bribery investigation.

Without Republican support, the effort’s certain to fail. Each chamber has “considerable discretion” in determining the procedure for doing so, according to an Office of Legislative Legal Services memo.

—–

A few moments ago, Sen. Randy Baumgardner announced what Republican Senate leadership apparently considers to be closure of Baumgardner’s sexual harassment case. Rather than try to explain Senate President Kevin Grantham’s action–or inaction as the majority of our readers will see it–here’s the letter from Grantham to Baumgardner in its jaw-dropping entirety:

After grudgingly noting the conclusion of the Mountain States Employers Council that the allegation against Sen. Baumgardner is credible, Grantham proceeds to attack the investigation’s “inaccuracies, bias, conflicts of interest, and inconsistencies” before acknowledging Baumgardner’s “voluntarily” stepping down as chair of the Transportation Committee. Apparently Baumgardner is voluntarily taking some manner of “sensitivity training.” No specifics about the investigation that led to Grantham essentially disregarding it have been disclosed.

With this resolution we deem the matter closed.

Folks, this is the worst possible response by Colorado Senate leadership to an accusation of sexual harassment that has been found credible. The magnitude of this error cannot be overstated. Politically, it will wreak havoc on Republicans all over the state, and perhaps beyond to the extent the story makes it into national news. Which is likely: all over the country the issue of sexual harassment is disrupting business as usual in state legislatures, like in Arizona where just last week Rep. Don Shooter (R-Yuma) was expelled by a 56-3 vote in that state’s GOP-controlled House.

Sexual harassment by men in positions of power in the workplace is an issue that has exploded into the public consciousness since the election of Donald Trump. Although Trump outlasted the army of women who accused him of sexual misconduct and assault long enough to get elected President, the backlash against men who commit sexual harassment his election provoked has dragged a hidden culture of abuse and victimization at every level of society into the light once and for all. Powerful men have had their despicable behavior exposed to the world, and the revulsion the world responds with is in very many cases career-ending.

But not in the Republican Colorado Senate.

“I know that President Trump and Chairman Gardner can count on you,” says GOP fundraising email

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a fundraising appeal yesterday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC)  invoked Trump and U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner to entice donors to support Trump’s Make America Great Again agenda.

“I know you are dedicated to our Making America Great Again agenda,” stated the email, signed “Sue, NRSC.” “I know that President Trump and Chairman Gardner can count on you.”

“I want to be able to tell President Trump and Chairman Gardner that you are a 2018 Charter Member,” the email continued.

Gardner is chair of the NRSC, which is charged by U.S. Senate Republicans with helping Republican senators win elections.

Gardner once called Trump a “buffoon” but has since voted with Trump over 93 percent of the time in the senate, more than any other senator’s expected support of Trump, based on the Trump’s electoral performance in the senator’s home state. Trump lost Colorado by five points.

The NRSC confirmed that it sent the email.

The appeal offers membership cards for donations of platinum, silver, and gold gifts ranging from $5 to $250 and above. The cards feature images of Trump and Vice President Mike Pence with the slogan, “Strengthening the Majority, Making America Great Again.”

“As a member, we will send you a personalized membership card, and you will be given the opportunity to take advantage of special offers that will only be offered to charter members,” states the email.

Gardner has claimed to part ways with Trump on a few issues, including the enforcement of marijuana laws.

So the first-term senator’s complete embrace of the Trump MAGA agenda raises questions that were left unanswered today, because Gardner’s office hung up on me when I called to find out if Gardner still opposes any elements of Trump’s agenda and, if so, why he’d raise money promising to deliver on Trump’s broad Make-America-Great-Again platform.

When Sen. Randy Baumgardner Harbored a Sex Offender

Republican State Sen. Randy Baumgardner.

Back in 2012, FOX 31’s Eli Stokols wrote a bombshell story about Sen. Randy Baumgardner-harboring an unregistered sex offender on his ranch–a story that takes on a new and unsavory pallor in light of dogpiling sexual harassment allegations:

FOX 31 Denver has confirmed that Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, is currently harboring an unregistered sex offender in his home, a decision that has his neighbors questioning his own values.

“This is an ignorant, arrogant individual who has no place in public office,” one of Baumgardner’s constituents wrote in an email to FOX31 Denver. “If you are running on morals, then have some.”

Michael K. Frierson, 32, is registered as living at Baumgardner’s address on Ridgeway Avenue in Hot Sulphur Springs.

He was arrested at Baumgardner’s home on April 12 for failing to register as a sex offender.

Baumgardner paid the $2,000 to bail him out.

In 2016, the Summit Daily News reported how Baumgardner was unrepentant:

Baumgardner seems unfazed by the scathing campaign, calling it “old news.” He added that he found out about Michael K. Frierson being a convicted sex offender at the same time everyone else did, because the ranch does not do background checks on employees. Frierson had been working on the ranch for more than a year, Baumgardner said. After seeing that Frierson had not caused trouble since his 2004 conviction, Baumgardner felt he was right in giving him a second chance.

“It didn’t make a difference last time, I don’t think it will make a difference this time,” he said, referring to his last bid for election. [Pols emphasis]

Gentle readers, we’re going to need to consider the very real possibility that the lack of consequences, political or otherwise, from Sen. Baumgardner’s harboring of an unregistered sex offender in his home might have affected his judgment about the seriousness of sex offenses in general. When news first broke during the 2012 campaign about Michael Frierson, convicted of sex with a minor under the age of 14, the consensus view was that it was a career-ender. But the antipathy toward Baumgardner’s primary opponent Jean White, in part due to low-life mail pieces that targeted White over her support for civil unions, saved Baumgardner from a scandal that by any objective measure should have literally put the “Capital Cowboy” out to pasture.

Now we know that if Jean White had won, women who were victimized might not have been.

And with that, the sobering realization that this is not a game slams home.

Coffman’s Outlook Clouds As GOP Fundraising Woes Deepen

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

At the end of January, Democratic CD-6 candidate Jason Crow made waves in the perennial pitched battle against incumbent GOP Rep. Mike Coffman after outraising Coffman in the last quarter of 2017–a solid performance in marked contrast to Coffman posting his worst quarterly number since 2011.

And as Vox reported last week, the headwinds Coffman is experiencing are not unique to his race:

Newly released data from the Federal Election Commission shows that at least 55 Democratic candidates in competitive House races are raising more than the Republican incumbents they’re challenging.

More than 80 Democrats running in Republican-held districts had at least $250,000 in cash on hand at the end of 2017, according to the FEC data. Even incumbents were struggling to raise as much as their challengers; more than a dozen Republican incumbents had less cash on hand than their Democratic opponents…

Obviously, 2017 was a very good year to be dramatizing donors’ wallets open for political donations on both sides. Both the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) had record fundraising years, but Vox reports that millions of dollars contributing to the GOP’s total on hand can’t be spent on elections. In reality, the Democratic advantage is considerable. As the 2018 season heats up, the NRCC’s support for Coffman will be crucial to his hopes of holding his seat–yet their pie may be smaller than ever, and divided between more seats in play than Republicans have had to contend with since George W. Bush was President.

And that’s just the beginning of the story. Republican fundraising efforts have been upset going into this year by multiple factors including the collapse of the Breitbart-White House alliance, the Steve Wynn sexual harassment scandal that forced his resignation as finance director of the Republican National Committee, and the general perception of an upcoming Republican bloodbath in November.

While no one should be writing Coffman’s political obituary yet, it’s safe to say that none of is working in his favor.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (February 13)

Mr. Vice President, Jesus is on line one. 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…

► Top intelligence officials in the U.S. told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee today that they fully expect Russia to attempt to disrupt the 2018 midterm elections. From the Washington Post:

Appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats said that Russia will continue using propaganda, false personas and social media to undermine the upcoming elections.

“There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts” to disrupt the 2016 presidential campaign “as a success,” and it “views the 2018 midterm elections” as another opportunity to conduct an attack, said Coats, testifying at the committee’s annual worldwide threats hearing.

His assessment was echoed by all five other intelligence agency heads present at the hearing, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, who two weeks ago stated publicly he had “every expectation” that Russia will try to influence the coming elections.

The committee’s Democratic vice chairman faulted the Trump administration for not preparing for potential Russian interference in the 2018 elections.

 

► The White House under President Trump is setting an historic pace…for staff departures. As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN:

More than one in three Trump administration staffers have left the White House in its first year, a pace that far eclipses the rate of departures in the previous five White Houses, according to a study done by Kathryn Dunn Tenpas of the Brookings Institute.

The pace of resignations, firings and other assorted departures from the Trump White House is twice what it was in George W. Bush’s first year as president and triple that of Barack Obama’s first year in office.

And, it’s not just any sorts of departures; a large number of Trump’s senior-most staff have left in the first year alone.

One in three. Incredible.

 

► Senate President Kevin Grantham continues to sit on his hands regarding sexual harassment allegations in the State Senate. A second formal complaint of harassment against Sen. Randy Baumgardner has now been filed; investigations are complete into an earlier complaint against Baumgardner and state Sen. Jack Tate.

 

$7.1 trillion.

That’s how much the U.S. deficit would expand over the next decade under a budget proposal introduced Monday by President Trump. From Politico:

The result is to exacerbate the nation’s already tenuous fiscal situation. Even if Trump were to get all the spending cuts he wants, plus his ambitious 3 percent growth, deficits over the next decade would total $7.1 trillion. That’s twice what the Office of Management and Budget forecast last spring.

Indeed, the level of red ink could be understated, since all these calculations rest on very favorable economic assumptions and do not include a full accounting of the recent spending increases and additional tax cuts enacted in recent weeks.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Second Sexual Harassment Complaint Filed Against Baumgardner

Republican State Sen. Randy Baumgardner

Colorado Republican Senate President Kevin Grantham says that he will not be rushed into making “snap decisions” about potential discipline for Sen. Randy Baumgardner, who has now been formally accused of sexual harassment for the second time. As KUNC’s Bente Birkeland reports:

Sen. Randy Baumgardner is now facing a second formal sexual harassment complaint at the Colorado Capitol. Megan Creeden, who served as an intern for another lawmaker, said she filed the complaint “hoping it will trigger something to happen.”

An earlier investigation into allegations against the Republican from Hot Sulphur Springs concluded that “it appears more likely than not that Baumgardner grabbed and slapped a legislative aide’s buttocks four times during the 2016 legislative session.”

Senate leadership has had the investigation’s results for about two weeks. Creeden said she made her complaint official because she has not seen Baumgardner held publicly accountable for his actions.

“All I want is for that behavior to not be something aides and interns and legislators in the future have to deal with and put up with,” Creeden said. [Pols emphasis]

Senate President Kevin Grantham

We wrote yesterday about Grantham’s baffling display of foot-dragging on what has become the most prominent issue of the 2018 legislative session. Birkeland’s latest story, which was published online late Monday evening, is another damning indictment of Baumgardner’s oft-rumored behavior and Grantham’s inexplicable paralysis regarding the problem of sexual harassment under the Gold Dome. It should not be overlooked that news of the second Baumgardner complaint also came on the same day that the Denver Post reported on the completion of an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Republican State Sen. Jack Tate.

Senate Democrats have called on Baumgardner to resign from the legislature, but thus far the two-term Republican has maintained his status as a committee chairman and is still the lead sponsor of the top legislative priority for Senate Republicans (quite literally, Senate Bill 1). Grantham said on Monday that he expects to make a decision on Baumgardner’s fate by the end of this week, which would mark three weeks since he first received findings from an independent investigation into the initial complaint against Baumgardner; at this rate, it could be another month before Grantham bothers to take any action regarding the complaint against Tate.

We’ve said it before in this space, but it bears repeating: Choosing not to act is a decision in itself.

Tuesday Open Thread

“A politician’s words reveal less about what he thinks about his subject than what he thinks about his audience.”

–George Will

Grantham Harassment Footdragging Confounds Political Reason

Sen. Grantham’s extremely tough choice re: Sen. Randy Baumgardner.

The Denver Post’s John Frank updates with the latest word from a standoff in the Colorado Senate over the fate of Sen. Randy Baumgardner, a sexual harassment complaint against whom has been found credible by outside investigators prompting every Democrat in the chamber to call for Baumgardner’s resignation:

Senate President Kevin Grantham, the top Republican in the Colorado legislature, said Monday he expects to make a decision by the end of the week on whether to discipline a fellow GOP lawmaker after a sexual harassment complaint.

The movement follows a week when Grantham faced significant pressure to take action against state Sen. Randy Baumgardner, of Hot Sulphur Springs, who faces a substantiated complaint that he slapped and grabbed the buttocks of a legislative aide multiple times during the 2016 legislative session…

The Senate president blasted Democrats for creating a “partisan circus” with the call for Baumgardner to resign and pushed back against those who suggested he is delaying action in the case.

Senate President Kevin Grantham has reportedly been in possession of the investigative report on Baumgardner’s conduct since the end of January. Predating this latest complaint, however, and as we’ve said numerous times since the General Assembly’s sexual harassment scandal first broke, Baumgardner’s alleged behavior toward women with business at the Capitol was very widespread knowledge for many years prior to 2018. Much like with Rep. Steve Lebsock in the House, it’s impossible for Grantham to argue he had no knowledge of Baumgardner’s conduct because everybody else did.

But unlike Lebsock, Randy Baumgardner wasn’t bounced from his committee chairmanship. He wasn’t pulled off prime sponsorship of Senate Bill 1, the chamber’s showcase transportation bill. While Democrats in the House called for Lebsock to resign as the stories about his conduct snowballed, Grantham and Senate Republicans turtled up in self-defense–continuing to promote Baumgardner in the press, and taking no action whatsoever to protect women at the Capitol from further offense. Women who had potentially been victimized by Baumgardner had no choice but to continue to deal with him if they wanted to work on legislation of his or before his committee.

The two weeks that Grantham has sat on a report validating this most recent sexual harassment charge, with no action taken to even prevent it from happening again, demonstrates nothing short of contempt for Baumgardner’s victim(s). There is absolutely no excuse for stalling action so long after this report was issued–and given the possibility of Baumgardner doing this to another woman, every day nothing has been done is a moral indictment of Republican Senate leadership.

And for Grantham to claim injury from Democrats demanding this situation not be allowed to continue is…astounding.

Trump Infrastructure Plan Lands with Predictable Thud

Great plan, Mr. President

We wrote in this space a couple of weeks ago about President Trump’s plan to beef up America’s crumbling infrastructure by moving around some decimal points in the federal budget and then telling individual states to write big checks to cover the rest of the costs. The White House formally unveiled their big plan today to much puzzlement from people who get paid to do the math on these sort of things.

As the New York Times reports:

The proposal, to be unveiled the same day as Mr. Trump’s 2019 budget, faces long odds on Capitol Hill, where members of both parties — particularly Democrats — are skeptical of any plan that fails to create a dedicated new funding stream to address the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Lawmakers are also doubtful that such a small federal investment will be sufficient to spur an infrastructure spending boom…

…The odds of such a bipartisan effort coming together in the current political environment are long. White House officials said the new spending would be offset by unspecified cuts elsewhere in the budget, which are all but certain to be roundly criticized by Democrats.

Many infrastructure experts consider the ratio Mr. Trump’s aides are proposing for a public-private plan — essentially creating $6.50 in private investment for every federal dollar spent — to be largely out of reach. And the president plans to leave it up to lawmakers, who are deeply divided on how to finance any infrastructure effort, to decide on key questions such as whether to enact a gas tax to pay for it or slash other types of spending.

The White House is privately conceding that this infrastructure plan isn’t going to go anywhere with Democrats or Republicans on Capitol Hill on account of it being completely stupid. The Trump plan touts $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending, which is magically created from $200 billion in federal funding and is nothing close to what we actually need (The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the U.S. needs an infrastructure investment of $4.59 trillion by 2025). In short, as Vox.com writes, the Trump plan contains “no actual source of new money.”

Critics say the Trump infrastructure plan is particularly unworkable in rural communities. Here in Colorado, we know that the Trump proposal isn’t workable anywhere. As John Frank explained in a story for the Denver Post in late January:

“On first blush, it sounds like a token effort,” said Ted Ott, the CEO of Colorado Barricade Co., a specialized contractor that works with construction companies.

The early details suggest the plan includes $200 billion in federal spending over 10 years and puts state and local governments on the hook for 80 percent of highway projects — a reversal of the current ratio. Moreover, the proposal appears to prioritize states with a dedicated state revenue source for transportation money, potentially putting Colorado at a disadvantage.

At least the Trump infrastructure plan won’t require Colorado to sell Denver International Airport. As Politico reports:

The Trump administration’s infrastructure plan released Monday proposes that the federal government consider selling off Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport…

…It also includes the George Washington and Baltimore Washington parkways, the Washington Aqueduct and the transmission assets of the Tennessee Valley Authority and Bonneville Power Administration on the list for “potential divestiture.”

The Trump administration also wants to turn the International Space Station (ISS) into some sort of “orbiting real estate venture” overseen by private industry. Even Republicans such as Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are dumfounded by the idea of just turning the ISS over to private enterprise considering that the U.S. government has spent nearly $100 billion on the project.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you when Trump tries selling the moon to the Martians.

Senate GOP Reels After Civil Rights Commission Miscalculation

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Marianne Goodland of the former Colorado Statesman reports on the explosive controversy resulting from last week’s vote by Republicans on the powerful Joint Budget Committee against funding for the Colorado Civil Rights Commission–the same commission party to a major case before the U.S. Supreme Court alleging discrimination by a Lakewood cake-baker against a same-sex couple:

The deadlocked vote last week over funding the Colorado Civil Rights Commission continues to draw reaction, as well as a Tuesday rally to defend the agency. Both the Division of Civil Rights and the Civil Rights Commission are up for a sunset review hearing on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m., the first step in re-authorizing the agency.

In a story first reported Thursday by Colorado Politics, the Joint Budget Committee (JBC) failed to pass a 2018-19 budget for the commission last week with a 3-3 tie vote, split along party lines. For now, that vote means the agency will not be funded as of July 1, 2018.

Reaction to the decision has been swift and angry. Sunday, the Colorado Working Families Party, which backs progressive candidates, issued a statement calling on the Republican members of the JBC to end their efforts to undermine the state civil rights agency.

Goodland directs us to a statement from the Good Business Colorado coalition denouncing last week’s vote, and a rally coming up tomorrow on the Capitol steps:

“The vote to defund the Civil Rights Commission may not seem on its surface to be a business issue — but it truly is because it ensures we have the strong foundation on which we are building the Colorado economy.

“Creating a baseline of respect and dignity for all people is a key component to building Colorado’s economy, one of the strongest in the country. If people don’t feel secure, they can’t work, they can’t spend money, and they can’t support our businesses. The Civil Rights Commission gives our employees, customers, and community the confidence that they can be treated fairly and equally in our state.

“Good Business Colorado urges legislators to quickly repair any harm done to the state’s business reputation by reversing this action to undermine the protection of civil rights.”

The pushback against Senate Republicans over this vote against funding for the civil rights commission appears to have significantly exceeded expectations. Today the Senate GOP released this statement from Senate President Kevin Grantham:

The problem is that nobody is buying this feeble excuse. Two out of three Republican members of the Joint Budget Committee, Sens. Kevin Lundberg and Kent Lambert, are among the most ardently anti-LGBT members of the Colorado General Assembly. Lundberg praised Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis for “abiding by the laws of God” when she went to jail rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Lambert says Colorado’s civil unions law is a “mind-control experiment” to force Coloradans “to believe in homosexual marriage.”

For these and a host of other reasons that everyone knows, the attempt by Senate Republicans to defend this vote against funding for the civil rights commission has fallen entirely flat. It was Kevin Grantham who appointed two of the most homophobic senators in his majority to the JBC. Everybody knows exactly what is going on here and why. If Republicans really didn’t think this puerile attack on the civil rights commission while the commission argues the nation’s biggest LGBT discrimination case before the nation’s highest court wasn’t going to blow up in their faces, they’re more clueless than even we could have imagined.

Because politically, this is just madness. Colorado Republicans who have desperately been trying to turn over a new leaf with tolerant Colorado voters on social issues like LGBT rights have been set back years by this vote. Every day Grantham and company tries to defend their actions only compounds the disaster. So many elections in recent years have punished Colorado Republicans for obsessing with social wedge issues over practical matters, and they just voluntarily saddled themselves with the same baggage once again.

We are honestly surprised this lesson hasn’t been learned. How many more ass-kickings at the polls will it take?

What happened to Coffman’s promise to force vote on a Dreamer bill by March 5?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Republican Congressman Mike Coffman grabbed headlines back in September for promising to try to force Republican leaders in the U.S. House to vote on his bill, called the BRIDGE Act, allowing Dreamers to remain in the U.S. for two more years, while Congress works out a permanent solution.

But just three days later, Coffman announced he’d met with House Speaker Paul Ryan and decided to hold off on his “discharge petition,” which is the mechanism to force such a vote, because the Speaker wanted time to introduce an unspecified long-term Dreamer-protection bill.

The media coverage of Coffman’s backtrack was dimmer, but luckily The Hill reported that Coffman had given House leadership a deadline for taking action on a Dreamer bill.  If Ryan didn’t act, Coffman would, he told the Hill’s Cristina Marcos Sept. 7:

Coffman warned he would renew his push if lawmakers are unsuccessful in reaching a deal once the six-month phaseout period ends in March 2018.

“I said that I would pull back on that to see how [Ryan] would do. What he didn’t want is two efforts simultaneously that are going at the same time, his effort to try to get our bill to the floor, and my effort to try to push a discharge petition,” Coffman said in an interview just off the House floor.

“But if he couldn’t bring something to the floor, then I would push the discharge petition.”

So Coffman promised to act on behalf of Dreamers before the DACA program expires.

That will occur March 5, as explained Sept. 5 when Trump began an “orderly phase out” of the DACA program, which allowed the Dreamers, who were brought into the U.S. as children, to remain in the U.S. and work temporarily.

So where do things stand now? There are about three weeks to go until DACA expires, unless the courts delay expiration further. And no word from Coffman.

Ryan has said he’ll only act on a bill approved by….Trump.

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Gardner’s Pal Rodrigo Duterte: Shoot ‘Em In The P—y

Sen Cory Gardner, Filipino strongman Rodrigo Duterte.

VICE News reports on the latest swashbuckling pronouncement from Rodrigo Duterte, strongman President of the Philippines who appeared on local political radars last year after a controversial unannounced state visit to Manila from Sen. Cory Gardner:

Rodrigo Duterte last week directed his soldiers to specifically target women rebel fighters by shooting them in the vagina, according to local reports.

Addressing a group of former communist rebels, the Philippines president said his armed forces should not kill female rebels but shoot them in their genitals because without them they are useless.

“Tell the soldiers. There’s a new order coming from the mayor. We won’t kill you. We will just shoot your vagina,” Duterte reportedly said. “If there is no vagina, it would be useless.” [Pols emphasis]

An official government translation of the speech, given on Feb. 7, replaced the word vagina with a dash. The transcript says the audience laughed in response…

Duterte is known for violent crudities in his speeches to the troops prosecuting his vicious war against drug smugglers, as well as his comments about women that openly condone and even celebrate rape–but this latest comment combines those two themes into something truly politically toxic to Duterte’s friends in the West, like President Donald Trump.

And of course, local reporters should ask Sen. Gardner for comment too! Perhaps Cory and Rodrigo will have a friendly chat about it next time Sen. Gardner is in town for a photo-op.

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