Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 10)

Well, then, that’s enough snow for now. 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.



President Trump is escalating his war of words with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker. On Sunday, Corker responded to attacks from Trump with a Tweet that clearly got Trump’s goat, and nothing motivates the President more than a Twitter fight. But as the Washington Post reports, Corker’s claims about a chaotic White House are not at all unfounded:

Frustrated by his Cabinet and angry that he has not received enough credit for his handling of three successive hurricanes, President Trump is now lashing out, rupturing alliances and imperiling his legislative agenda, numerous White House officials and outside advisers said Monday.

In a matter of days, Trump has torched bridges all around him, nearly imploded an informal deal with Democrats to protect young undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, and plunged himself into the culture wars on issues ranging from birth control to the national anthem.

In doing so, Trump is laboring to solidify his standing with his populist base and return to the comforts of his campaign — especially after the embarrassing defeat of Sen. Luther Strange in last month’s Alabama GOP special election, despite the president’s trip there to campaign with the senator.

Sen. Bob Corker’s brutal assessment of Trump’s fitness for office — warning that the president’s reckless behavior could launch the nation “on the path to World War III” — also hit like a thunderclap inside the White House, where aides feared possible ripple effects among other Republicans on Capitol Hill.

As CNN reports, the feud between Trump and Corker is indicative of a broader civil war within the Republican Party:

The first [rule] is that there are now effectively two Republican parties — one dominated by Trump and his uber-loyal followers, for whom his feud with Corker represents exactly the kind of disruption they hoped to see him unleash. The other GOP, meanwhile, is made up of establishment, orthodox conservatives like the Tennessee senator and his Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who want to use their power to legislate and fret about Trump’s global leadership.

The second rule of last year’s Republican primary circus is one that Corker is now daring to confound — namely that no one who gets down in the muck with a brutal political street-fighter like Trump comes out clean or unscathed. Trump’s showdown with Corker, which went nuclear over the weekend, will go a long way to deciding the state of the GOP as it musters for midterm elections next year — at which its monopoly in Washington will be on the line.

As Politico reports, many Republicans are really, really, really wishing that Trump would just stop fanning the flames of the GOP’s problems.


► The Denver Post wonders what happened to Sen. Cory Gardner’s critiques of last year’s nuclear deal with Iran:

When Barack Obama was in the White House, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner was blunt in his opposition to a nuclear deal with Iran — calling it a “tragic mistake” when the terms were implemented at the beginning of last year.

But now Gardner won’t say whether it would be the right move if President Donald Trump decides to take a step back from the international accord. Nor would the Colorado Republican provide a clear answer on whether he thinks Congress should again slap sanctions on Iran if Trump doesn’t certify the deal before an approaching Oct. 15 deadline.

“I think there (are) a lot of pieces that have to be answered before I can affirmatively say that — including whether the president makes the request for those sanctions to be reissued,” Gardner said in a phone interview with The Denver Post.

This is such a typical Gardner response that we could have written it ourselves; it would be hard to be more disingenuous than Gardner on just about any issue.


► The Trump administration’s War on Clean Energy takes a new turn today. Here in Colorado, critics of Trump and EPA Chief Scott Pruitt are out in force.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Don’t Tell Jeff–Colorado GOP Gladly Takes Weed Money

UPDATE: From Jeff Hunt of Colorado Christian University’s Centennial Institute:

Time for a conference call.


Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert (R).

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports, some are calling it a groundbreaking moment while others cry hypocrisy–though we have yet to hear from such authoritative figures within the Republican Party as Attorney General Jeff “Reefer Madness” Sessions or locally the Centennial Institute’s famously anti-weed Jeff Hunt:

All the progress that legalized marijuana has made in Colorado is nothing compared to what is about to happen on Wednesday.

That’s when the marijuana industry will hold a political fundraiser for Republicans, many of whom opposed the legalization of personal use and retail sales of the drug five years ago…

The Republican group co-hosting the event at Denver’s Capitol Hill Tavern is the Senate Majority Fund, a political group that uses its money to support GOP candidates for the Colorado Senate, primarily through advertising.

The group’s aim is to make sure Republicans maintain their majority in the 35-member Senate, even if it’s only the one-vote lead it currently holds.


It’s important to note that, although elected officials on both sides were generally unsupportive of 2012’s Amendment 64, the vote in 2013 in the Colorado General Assembly on the legislation that enabled the constitutional amendment to take effect–House Bill 13-1317–was split closely along party lines in the House. GOP lawmakers like now-Sen. Chris Holbert, who is quoted in Ashby’s story saying Amendment 64 is the law and of course Republicans are duty-bound to uphold the will of the voters, actually voted against the legislation to let said voters’ will take effect.

Politically, it’s impossible to reconcile the Republican Senate Majority Fund holding a marijuana industry fundraiser with the overwhelming present-day consensus that the Republican Party is really not into the “devil weed.” In addition to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ explicit threats to shut down not just recreational but also medical marijuana sales, local influentials like Jeff Hunt of the Centennial Institute have attracted much attention with their claims that legalization of marijuana has “devastated Colorado.” Not to mention 2013 recall agitator Jennifer Kerns’ ludicrous stories in The Blaze about “marijuana crack babies.”

Certainly we understand the marijuana industry’s desire to cultivate support (pun intended) on both sides of the aisle, so don’t mistake this for criticism of their efforts here–or the money they raise tomorrow night for Republican Senate candidates. The real question will be whether the substantial wing of the Republican Party that remains, in some cases fanatically, opposed to marijuana legalization is willing to tolerate Colorado Senate Republicans taking marijuana money.

Vaya con dios.

Tuesday Open Thread

“A sovereign’s great example forms a people; the public breast is noble or vile as he inspires it.”

–David Mallet

Springs Elector seeks to rid us of that pesky Electoral College

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

It’s conventional wisdom that the U.S. Constitution has a few significant flaws. Those flaws aren’t fatal, one hopes, but they are congenital and chronic:

Neither Congress nor the president has the capacity to govern alone, but either can refuse to compromise, and prevent the other from governing. If the system is thought to be indestructible, the temptation to take stands becomes overwhelming. Filibusters, shutdowns, and executive orders multiply. The veneration of the Constitution becomes its undoing.

As we all know ‘round here, one of those congenital flaws that was intended to appease America’s Slave-owning class and to dilute the voting power of individuals in “Free” states is the existence of the Electoral College. In our last election, and one or 2 fairly recent ones before that, it turned the popular vote winner (by close to 3 Million votes) into an impotent witness to the transfer of power on Inauguration Day.

The quite logical urge to rid ourselves of this constitutional quirk was sparked once again, and in a state that has gone Democratic the last several years, it’s a pair of Republican hard-liners in Colorado who have taken a legal axe to that knotty quirk:

Last November, from his downtown Colorado Springs home, local math educator Bob Nemanich, one of the 538 members of the Electoral College, helped launch a movement to try to change the way the United States chooses its president.

Nearly a year later, he is still fighting.

Nemanich is named as a plaintiff in a federal lawsuit filed by national election law expert, Harvard Law School professor and attorney Lawrence Lessig, who briefly ran for president in 2016 before dropping out ahead of the Democratic primary. The suit claims Colorado’s Republican secretary of state, Wayne Williams, intimidated Nemanich and two other electors into voting for Hillary Clinton during the official Electoral College vote on Dec. 19 at the state Capitol in Denver. The suit seeks $1 in damages, plus legal fees.

But the lawsuit is bigger than that.

The legal action, filed in U.S. District Court in Denver, aims to answer a major question once and for all, before the 2020 presidential election: Do members of the Electoral College have a constitutional ability to vote for whomever they want?

The vote of Colorado’s Electors was clouded by a rabid Republican from El Paso County (home of many rabid R’s including Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, and the Meth-ingesting homophobe Ted Haggard whose mega-church was rocked by his actions).


The War on Clean Energy

Scott Pruitt

Former President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is about the get the axe from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. As NBC News reports:

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said Monday that he will sign a new rule overriding the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era effort to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants.

“The war on coal is over,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt declared in the coal mining state of Kentucky.

For Pruitt, getting rid of the Clean Power Plan will mark the culmination of a long fight he began as the elected attorney general of Oklahoma. Pruitt was among about two-dozen attorney generals who sued to stop President Barack Obama’s push to limit carbon emissions…

…The withdrawal of the Clean Power Plan is the latest in a series of moves by Trump and Pruitt to dismantle Obama’s legacy on fighting climate change, including the delay or roll back of rules limiting levels of toxic pollution in smokestack emissions and wastewater discharges from coal-burning power plants.

The president announced earlier this year that he will pull the United States out of the landmark Paris climate agreement. Nearly 200 countries have committed to combat global warming by reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Pruitt is expected to officially repeal the Clean Power Plan on Tuesday. President Trump often promised during the 2016 campaign that he would destroy the Clean Power Plan, and Pruitt is the perfect executioner.

A long legal battle is expected to follow Pruitt’s formal decision, and no matter the outcome, don’t expect to see much of an uptick in coal mining jobs. The world has been moving away from coal power for many years now, with the U.S. alone reducing its coal-fired power by 15% over the last five years.

“Every Dollar Counts”—Special District Pain Stories Begin

Colorado Senate President Kevin Grantham.

After last week’s failure of a special session of the Colorado General Assembly to correct a drafting error in a fiscal policy bill passed earlier this year, an error costing special tax districts millions of dollars combined in lost revenue from marijuana sales taxes, the next phase of reporting is starting to come out—documenting the harm being done to some of these districts due to lost revenue that everyone agrees was not intended.

CBS4 reported this weekend on one such case, the Summit County Combined Housing Authority:

Summit County is a place where affordable housing is nearly impossible to find and every dollar to subsidize housing counts.

“Every dollar does count,” said said Summit County Combined Housing Authority spokesman Jason Dietz. “We are moving forward, we have a lot of projects in the works with our jurisdictions.”

…In July, those pot taxes slated for Summit County added up to about $11,000. That means new housing projects and resources for people desperate to find a home will have to be reevaluated.

Before and during the special session, Republicans tried all kinds of rhetorical ways to minimize the harm that would be done from failing to correct the error in Senate Bill 17-267 responsible for special district marijuana tax revenues going uncollected. RTD Denver could take the hit, they said. The booming economy compensates, they said. Everyone knows that the $500,000 hit RTD is taking every month these taxes go uncollected is not going to shut RTD down. It’s a question of services lost or improvements delayed around the margins. An incremental hardship.

But for the Summit County Combined Housing Authority, $11,000 a month means some people might not get the help they need with affordable housing. The incremental loss counts for much more. For reasons we expect could fill a blog post all by themselves, many special tax districts affected by the loss of marijuana tax revenue seem to be heavily in Democratic-represented areas of the state, one notable exception being the Colorado Springs transportation district. For ideological and perhaps also geographic reasons, Senate Republicans decided that making these special districts feel the pain of a bipartisan drafting error was good politics for them.

Every story like this one, aired in Republican and Democratic legislative districts alike, makes that calculation harder to justify. The only thing that has prevented the failure of the special session from becoming a serious liability for Colorado Republicans is the onslaught of national political news squelching everything else. With that said, the common themes of political treachery and incompetence from Colorado’s special session mesh seamlessly with public perception of Republicans in Washington.

And it’s not a good look.

Cory Gardner Smiles Helplessly As Stephen Bannon Eats GOP

CNN’s Eric Bradner reports–since the victory of hard-right former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore in that state’s special election GOP primary, one of the prime movers in that insurgent win, former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, ambitiously looking beyond that state to other 2018 Senate races in which a strident conservative could oust an incumbent Republican:

In the two weeks since Bannon-backed former judge Roy Moore defeated Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama’s Republican primary, Bannon has expanded his map of targets in the 2018 midterms and ramped up his efforts to establish a donor network to fund his slate of insurgent candidates.

Bannon has added Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch to the ranks of incumbents he plans to take on.

He had already put in motion efforts to oust Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller. Bannon also plans to get involved in the primaries in West Virginia and Missouri, two of Republicans’ top opportunities to pick off Democratic-held seats next year.

And that’s “just a partial list,” a source familiar with Bannon’s plans said.

There is no one in America who should be more worried about Bannon’s insurgency against Republican incumbents that the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado. The NRSC supported Moore’s appointed incumbent opponent Luther Strange in the Alabama primary, but after Moore emerged victorious Gardner immediately pledged the NRSC’s support–and has stayed aboard even after national exposure of Moore’s highly controversial record left moderates across the country aghast.

Bannon’s recent meetings with prospective Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo were reportedly followed up last week by reported meetings with Erik Prince, the Blackwater mercenary corporation founder and brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, as he considers a run for the U.S. Senate in Wyoming. But the real threat to the GOP Bannon poses is in swing states like Nevada, where incumbent Sen. Dean Heller needs to run to the center in order to survive–and won’t be able to with an insurgent challenger flaming him from the right.

And if Heller loses to a far-right Bannon-backed challenger, it’s 2010 all over again.

As we noted after Moore’s victory in Alabama, President Donald Trump is furious after being caught on the wrong side of that primary. We could easily see Trump deciding to run against the NRSC’s anointed candidates, even against GOP incumbents–an unthinkable prospect before Trump took office. The combination of Bannon energizing far-right primary candidates and the possibility of an unpredictable Republican president going rogue is a nightmare scenario for Gardner and the NRSC.

But if it goes down that way, the last person you’ll hear complain is Cory Gardner. Whatever happens, Gardner’s job will be to put a smile on the situation all the way through Election Day 2018. As quickly as Gardner became an apologist for Roy Moore, he’ll be forced to do the same for every one of Bannon’s insurgent candidates who win their primaries. As the GOP is driven farther into the fringe, Gardner’s job as the chair of the NRSC is to cheer it on.

Win or lose, this will not end well for Colorado’s junior Senator.

Get More Smarter On Monday (October 9)

Have a nice Columbus Day/ Indigenous People’s 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.



President Trump said last month that he would not require funding for a border wall with Mexico to be tied to DACA legislation. Of course, President Trump says a lot of things. As the Washington Post explains, that was then, and this is now:

The Trump administration released a list of hard-line immigration principles late Sunday that threaten to derail a deal in Congress to allow hundreds of thousands of younger undocumented immigrants to remain in the country legally.

The administration’s wish list includes the funding of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a crackdown on the influx of Central American minors and curbs on federal grants to “sanctuary cities,” according to a document distributed to Congress and obtained by The Washington Post.

As Politico notes, Trump’s Sunday demands are likely to stop DACA legislation before it even gets moving:

On Sunday, Trump called on Congress to build a wall along the southern border — a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, which was premised on tougher immigration policies. But Democratic leaders left the dinner believing that Trump would not demand a border wall in exchange for signing legislation to provide legal status to immigrants who obtained protection from deportation and work permits under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program…

…The list will certainly turn off Democrats and even Republicans — many of whom have endorsed providing a pathway to legal status for “Dreamers,” or undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as minors. The White House said Sunday it was not interested in providing citizenship to DACA beneficiaries, even though the main proposals for Dreamers on Capitol Hill would allow a pathway to citizenship.


President Trump inexplicably picked a fight with retiring Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker in a Twitter tirade on Sunday — a head-scratching decision that highlights Trump’s apparent inability to govern.

Corker did not hold back in his response:

Corker was also prompted by Trump’s tirade to speak out in an interview with the New York Times about concerns that Trump could be pushing the U.S. closer to war:

Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview on Sunday that President Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”

In an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, Mr. Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”

“He concerns me,” Mr. Corker added. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”…

…Mr. Trump poses such an acute risk, the senator said, that a coterie of senior administration officials must protect him from his own instincts. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Mr. Corker said in a telephone interview.

According to Corker, his views on Trump are most certainly not a minority opinion:

“Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understands what we’re dealing with here,” he said, adding that “of course they understand the volatility that we’re dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road.”


► As part of efforts to influence the 2016 election, Russian wrench-throwers spent big money on advertisements on Google platforms. Facebook has previously disclosed that Russian-connected groups spent heavily on misinformation ads during the 2016 cycle.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


Will you please connect me with Steve Bannon’s room?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Steve Bannon.

Sometimes a journalist tries the most basic research tactics, and they pay off.

That’s what happened to Colorado Springs’ KRDO reporter Chase Golightly last week when he went to the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs in search of right-wing political strategist Steve Bannon.

Golightly went to the hotel, hung around a for a bit, but didn’t see Bannon. He interviewed staff, who wouldn’t confirm anything. He spoke with guests and workers.

Finally he got the idea to call the front desk. He phoned up the hotel, asked for Bannon, and bingo, the notorious Breitbart editor and former Trump adviser was on the line.

Unfortunately, Bannon apparently hung up on Golightly, but confirmation positive. Bannon was at the conference, sponsored by the Council for National Policy.

It’s one of the details you’ll enjoy in Golightly’s piece last week about Bannon’s presence in Colorado. He takes you through the steps he took to try to find the elusive Bannon.

Unfortunately, Golightly didn’t return an email and call seeking comment, but perhaps he’s just seeing what it feels like to be Bannon. So I don’t hold it against him.

The bigger praise goes to The Denver Post’s Mark Matthews, with help from John Frank, who broke the story that Bannon was somewhere in Colorado and, more importantly, had been talking to Tom Tancredo about his possible run for governor.

But without slighting The Post, it’s great to see aggressive and entertaining journalism from KRDO TV’s Golightly.

Because, as Golightly reported himself, the Broadmoor is “no stranger to gatherings of the highest political and financial ranks,” and we need journalists to try to figure out what’s going inside there–and elsewhere in Colorado Springs’ conservative miasma.

Monday Open Thread

“The nose of a mob is its imagination. By this, at any time, it can be quietly led.”

–Edgar Allan Poe

Deja Vu: Redistricting Campaign Defections Begin

Former Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia.

As the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports–eerily similar to the way a similar effort collapsed in a heap ahead of the 2016 elections, cracks are rapidly appearing in the well-publicized “coalition” backing a measure to make byzantine changes to the state’s process for congressional redistricting and legislative reapportionment–in the name of making the system “fairer,” a popular national refrain going into 2020, but in reality moving Colorado in the opposite direction:

Two former Democratic politicians, former Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and ex-lawmaker Abel Tapia, have pulled their names as supporters of a campaign that seeks to change the way Colorado draws its political boundaries…

Garcia told The Colorado Independent it became clear to him that the Fair Districts campaign and its efforts are “more controversial and potentially partisan” than he realized. [Pols emphasis] As president of the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education, Garcia said he has taken pains to avoid public involvement in partisan issues.

The campaign, announced in early September and spearheaded by the League of Women Voters of Colorado, came under immediate scrutiny, Critics say it is little more than a rebranding of an effort that failed to make the ballot last year, and that it did not do enough meaningful outreach to communities of color. The group, anticipating the backlash, says its members did more outreach this time than last.

But critics of the group pointed to a lack of minority support on the Fair Districts webpage of endorsers, which lists more than two dozen supporters. None are black, but four listed on the page were Latino, including Garcia, Tapia, GOP Rep. Clarice Navarro-Ratzlaff and former lawmaker Larry Trujillo.

That was until Garcia’s and Tapia’s names disappeared.

Organizers responsible for this latest redistricting campaign in Colorado spent considerably more time and money on the roll-out than in 2015, and clearly hoped the new effort would not be tainted by the failure of the previous initiative. Unfortunately, the fact that it is essentially the same campaign fronted by the same Republican usual suspects like former House Speaker Frank McNulty and ex-Rep. Rob “The Blueprint” Witwer was impossible to conceal–and once other white dudes working for the campaign like Sen. Ron Tupa started publicly lecturing former Sen. Jessie Ulibarri about how great their “minority outreach” was, the proverbial writing was on the wall.

We fully expect that the pullout of former Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and Sen. Abel Tapia will lead to further disintegration of the so-called “Fair Districts Colorado” campaign. If it does reach the ballot now it will be hobbled by the same taint of political insider game-playing as the Initiative 55 campaign was in late 2015. If this isn’t the death knell for this campaign going into 2018, it’s a very bad prognosis.

Although the issue of gerrymandering is of major importance across the nation after a decade of huge GOP legislative gains and the next round of district-drawing coming up fast, in Colorado the story of the state’s current legislative and congressional maps is very different. Although certainly improvements can be made to the status quo, the emphasis on fair and competitive districts that prevailed in the 2011 redistricting/reapportionment process in Colorado has given the state many close races where candidates had to earn their seats–and division of power that accurately reflects the state’s diverse and evenly divided electorate. That’s not the way it works everywhere, but it’s critical that Coloradans understand that this is yet another way things are different here politically.

Different, and better.

And as long as that’s the case, political usual suspects looking to tinker with the system for their own advantage should be viewed with the suspicion they deserve. Once again, that suspicion is turning out to be entirely warranted.

Weekend Open Thread

“The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

–Albert Einstein

Get More Smarter on Friday (October 6)

Enjoy your weekend — snow is coming on Monday. 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.



► The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is making it easier for companies to deny contraception coverage to female employees on “religious” grounds. As the Washington Post reports:

The Trump administration issued a rule Friday that sharply limits the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate, a move that could mean many American women would no longer have access to birth control free of charge.

The new regulation, issued by the Health and Human Services Department, allows a much broader group of employers and insurers to exempt themselves from covering contraceptives such as birth control pills on religious or moral grounds. The decision, anticipated from the Trump administration for months, is the latest twist in a seesawing legal and ideological fight that has surrounded this aspect of the 2010 health-care law nearly from the start.

Several religious groups, which battled the Obama administration for years over the controversial requirement, welcomed the action.

Women’s rights organizations and some medical professionals portrayed it as a blow to women’s health, warning that it could lead to a higher number of unintended pregnancies.

This is the part where we remind you that elections matter.


► Is the United States about to start a new military conflict? Tune in next week…

From CNN:

While taking photos alongside military leaders and their spouses before a dinner at the White House, President Donald Trump made an ambiguous statement, citing “the calm before the storm.”

“You guys know what this represents? Maybe it’s the calm before the storm,” Trump said at the photo op Thursday night, following a meeting with his top military commanders.
When reporters present asked what he meant, Trump replied: “It could be, the calm, the calm before the storm.”

As Chris Cillizza elaborates for CNNPresident Trump continues to act as though this is all just one big reality TV show.


► A group trying to change the redistricting/reapportionment process in Colorado is losing some of its key supporters, as the Colorado Independent reports:

Two former Democratic politicians, former Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia and ex-lawmaker Abel Tapia, have pulled their names as supporters of a campaign that seeks to change the way Colorado draws its political boundaries.

The campaign, called Fair Districts Colorado, comes as multiple other states look to reform legislative and congressional redistricting and reapportionment and as the U.S. Supreme Court hears a case about whether partisan gerrymandering violates the Constitution

In Colorado, the movement is trying to get three measures on the Nov. 2018 statewide ballot to create a new, more independent commission that would draw legislative and congressional district lines, among other changes.

Garcia told The Colorado Independent it became clear to him that the Fair Districts campaign and its efforts are “more controversial and potentially partisan” than he realized.


► The U.S. House passed a 2018 budget resolution on Thursday, the first step in advancing a nonsensical Republican tax reform plan.


Get even more smarter after the jump…


ICYMI: 20-Week Abortion Ban Passes U.S. House

Let’s hear it for the boys.

It would be impossible to wrap up this frenetic week of political and other riveting news without mentioning this week’s vote by the GOP-controlled U.S. House to pass the so-called Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act–a measure that bans abortions after an arbitrary 20 weeks of gestation. As The Hill reports, the measure is moving to the U.S. Senate after passing the House with all four Colorado Republicans voting yes:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced a 20-week abortion ban in the Senate on Thursday with the support of 45 GOP senators, two days after a similar bill passed the House.

The “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which faces long odds in the upper chamber, would make it illegal for any person to perform or attempt an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy with the possibility of five years in prison, fines or both…

The legislation is likely to face a tough sell in the Senate. A similar bill passed the House in 2015 but was blocked by Democratic senators.

With only a 52-seat majority, it would be unlikely Senate Republicans could gather the 60 votes needed to move the legislation to President Trump’s desk. Graham still said he’s “100 percent confident” Senate leadership would bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman’s 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood’s logo.

President Donald Trump has said repeatedly he would sign this bill if it made it to his desk, so it’s only the Senate requirement of 60 votes to pass most legislation keeping this bill from becoming the law of the land. Trump has also called many times for the Senate to do away with the 60-vote requirement, but an abortion ban bill is probably not the right vehicle for such a radical change, assuming Mitch McConnell ever works up the nerve to try. The bottom line is that the policy is not supported by authoritative science, no matter how many times supporters claim otherwise.

Nevertheless all four Colorado Republican House members voted for the bill, though only the two safe GOP seats issued statements about their vote. Rep. Ken Buck of Greeley was ebullient:

“Science shows us that unborn children not only experience pain but also may have a chance to survive if born at 20 weeks,” Congressman Ken Buck stated. “We have a responsibility to the unborn babies, our families, our communities, and humanity to end the injustice of late-term abortion.”

Rep. Doug Lamborn managed to get just about every canard into a single quote:

“Babies born at 20 weeks are one step closer to protection from abortion now that H.R. 36, the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, passed in the House. I am pleased to vote “yes” on legislation that defends the most vulnerable people in our society. The United States is in the unfortunate company of only six other countries, including China and North Korea, in allowing elective abortion so late in a pregnancy. Science has proven that babies in the womb feel pain more acutely than even adults, and a bill that is estimated to save close to 3,000 lives a year is worth fighting for.”

As The Hill reported above, the legislation has 45 GOP cosponsors. Interestingly that list of cosponsors does not include the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado as of this writing! That won’t be good for Gardner’s flagging credibility with his Republican base, but it does show how Gardner’s repeated stumbles on the issue have forced him into a more muted position–this, after all, being a man who once bragged about having circulated petitions for Colorado’s failed “Personhood” amendments at his local church. So that will be another interesting angle on this to see resolved. Or in Cory’s case, see him dodge right up to the vote.

And no, it’s most likely not going to pass. But it’s going to come closer than ever to passing, with only a Senate rule already under threat keeping this abortion ban bill from becoming law. Therein lies an important lesson about the fragility of abortion rights in America today. And if it doesn’t instill a sense of urgency in supporters of abortion rights going into the 2018 elections, it’s tough to see what could.