Donald Trump is Officially the 45th President of the United States

President Donald Trump speaks at his Inauguration Ceremony.

Well, this is really happening. As the Washington Post reports:

Donald John Trump was sworn in Friday as the 45th president of the United States, taking office on a day that has featured smaller crowds and more subdued ceremony than previous inaugurations — but still ushers in a transformative shift in the country’s leadership.

Trump, 70, was administered the oath by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. His wife Melania Trump stood at his side. The oath was given using two Bibles — one from President Lincoln’s inauguration, and another that Trump’s mother gave him in 1955.

Trump began his inaugural address by proclaiming that with his victory, “the United States of America is your country.” With now former president Obama and three previous presidents watching from behind him, Trump seemed to condemn them as unfaithful to the popular will, saying that his inauguration signaled that “the people” would rule the country again.

And off we go…

Trump Makes Final Cabinet Choice Hours Before Inauguration

President Donald Trump has finally nominated someone for every cabinet position.

At this time yesterday, soon-to-be-President Donald Trump had selected someone for all but one top-level cabinet post. As the Huffington Post reports, Trump made his final big “You’re Hired” announcement Thursday evening:

President-elect Donald Trump named Sonny Perdue, the former Republican governor of Georgia who famously prayed for rain during a 2007 drought, to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday

“Sonny Perdue is going to accomplish great things as Secretary of Agriculture,” Trump said in a statement. “From growing up on a farm to being governor of a big agriculture state, he has spent his whole life understanding and solving the challenges our farmers face, and he is going to deliver big results for all Americans who earn their living off the land.”

Perdue’s nomination comes less than 48 hours before Trump’s inauguration ceremony and completes the president-elect’s proposed Cabinet, which does not include a Hispanic member. Reports of the nomination circulated Wednesday night…

…Perdue, 70, is well known for leading a prayer service at the state Capitol in Georgia in hopes of bringing an end to a 2007 drought.

The paywall falls at the Colorado Statesman

The subscription page of the Colorado Statesman, a political weekly newspaper, says you’ll stay “in the dark” if you don’t subscribe to the publication. Not true.

You can now access the Statesman’s content free, online, anytime.

Gone is the pesky paywall that buried stories, stifled debate, and, most importantly, apparently didn’t generate enough money to justify its existence.

Launched in conjunction with the publication’s 118 birthday last year, the Statesman’s subscription-only business model required you to pay $159 to access the print and most online content, forcing frustrated reporters to tweet screen shots of articles in a desperate effort to stay relevant.

At the time, Statesman Editor Jared Wright, a former Republican state lawmaker, told me he hoped his publication would generate funds, like a trade journal. At the state level, he pointed to the Arizona Capitol Times as a model. An effort to offer a portion of the publication as an insert in The Denver Post apparently didn’t make economic sense and was abandoned.

Wright did not immediately return a call to comment on the elimination of the paywall.

I have to hold my nose as I write this, which means I’m reduced to one-handed typing because I lost my nose clips, but I still think those who can afford it should subscribe to the Statesman. It provides coverage of local politics, especially campaign and insider tidbits, that you can’t find anywhere else.

The hold-my-nose part comes from the not-secret secret that Republican King-Like businessman Larry Mizel, who chaired Trump fundraising events in Denver last year, owns a controlling interest in the Statesman. But even though this is a well-known fact, Mizel and Wright won’t talk about who owns the paper–a problem compounded by Wright’s partisan background and his sometimes strange copy editing and staffing decisions, like hiring a Tea Party activist as an editor and sometimes using the newspaper’s morning-email briefing as an apparent amplifier for Republican messaging.

In any case, with some excellent and trustworthy reporters still freelancing for the Statesman and its commitment to state political reporting, it’s great to see the paywall fall and the newspaper become more relevant and timely to more people.

(P.S. Make sure you’ve subscribed or donated to The Denver Post, CPR, KGNU, the Colorado Independent, and all your local outlets before you pony up for the Statesman. Mizel can carry the Statesman on his pile of money, you’d hope, without much help.)

It Feels Like Christmas

Today, it feels like Christmas. The gift we are given today is, once again we have access to liberty and freedom.

America says goodby to an angry President with a chip on his shoulder. A President that coned a hopeful population with platitudes of hope and change. You remember, “if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor, if you like your plan you can keep your plan, premiums will go down by $2500, using chemical weapons would cross a red line, I heard about Hillary’s email server on the news, the police acted stupidly”, and it continues.

The President is leaving behind a world on fire. His opening world apology tour to Americas friends and foes set the tone that the teacher had left the building. In Iran, Obama stood aside as the democracy movement was crushed by the ayatollahs, and liberty was extinguished. In Iraq and Afganistán he signaled our lack of commitment by setting withdrawal dates. In Libya he allowed an incompetent Secretary of State turn it into as Islamic terror network. In Israel he interfered with the Israeli election process to defeat the Prime Minister. Obama and his current incompetent Sec of State supports a viscous group of terrorist that has a goal to kill all Jews. He resets the relationship with Russia and tells them he will be more flexible after the election, Russia takes him at his word and occupies The Crimea and sets up a cyber warfare capability aimed at America. The Chinese build fortress islands in the Pacific to threaten Taiwan and Japan. North Korea extends it nuclear offensive capabilities. Massive Islamic immigration is tearing apart the fabric of Europe.

This is the world and legacy of Obama. Now the Democrats want war with Russia because their poor candidate was defeated when voters were able to look behind the curtain and expose the massive corruption of the Clitons.

With our military depleted, down to pre WW11 levels, we are in great jeopardy from the evil that stocks the earth. The John McCain’s and Lindsey Graham types will stir the march to war. The body bags that return will be the legacy of a successful President Obama and the Democratic Party.

Today it feels like Christmas, tomorrow it will feel like cleaning up from, Pearl Harbor and 911.

Colorado Latin@ Lawmakers Tell Trump To Leave DACA Kids Alone

Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran.

A release from Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran a short while ago asks President-elect Donald Trump for some compassion for undocumented students in the United States through no fault of their own:

Speaker Crisanta Duran, Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman and the seven other members of the Latino Democratic Caucus issued a letter this morning to President-elect Donald Trump asking that he declare Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients will be allowed to remain in the U.S. under his administration.

“We are simply asking that the president-elect put an end to the fear and uncertainty of the 742,000 men, women and children, and the millions of our fellow Americans that know them as our friends, neighbors, family members and coworkers,” stated Speaker Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, the first Latina Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives. “We are talking about keeping families—children and mothers and fathers—together. This is their home and they are a part of us.”

“Hard-working Coloradans, from the Front Range to the San Luis Valley, have made so many positive contributions to the communities they grew up in. Yet, now they live in fear of being torn apart from their families. The President-elect must send a message that the American dream is open to them, and commit to keeping DACA in place,” said Senate Minority Leader Lucia Guzman, D-Denver.

In Colorado, undocumented students who have graduated from our state’s high schools are able to attend state colleges and universities at essentially in-state rates–a privilege undocumented students don’t enjoy everywhere. The program is a rough equivalent to the federal DREAM Act, which stalled in the Republican-controlled Congress and is now a non-starter under Trump. Colorado’s ASSET law eliminates a formidable barrier to these kids maximizing their contribution to the American economy.

Which is of course all they want to do. It’s worth noting that children who registered under the DACA program did so in good faith, under the promise that they would be spared from deportation and given work authorizations. Unfortunately for DACA registrees, they are now the best-documented undocumented residents of the United States. Which means if Trump decides to throw them out now, they’ll be much easier to find than most undocumented immigrants. In that event, those trying hardest to play by the rules would pay the highest price.

About the only thing we can say confidently is that whatever happens won’t be long now. We hope it’s an outcome that all Americans can be proud of.

GOP Shower Stall Showboating Backfires

Rapper Birdman’s golden toilet.

The Denver Post’s Jennifer Brown reports on a Colorado budget line-item raising hackles among Republican lawmakers:

A request for $235,109 to make nine bathrooms at a state mental-health hospital suicide-proof is prompting outrage from Republican lawmakers who suggest it is evidence of wasteful government spending.

The reaction to the proposal in the context of a $28 billion budget illustrates the intensity of the spending battles expected in the 2017 session as Colorado lawmakers negotiate a deal to find more money for big-ticket priorities, such as a potential $500 million bond to improve roads and transit…

“Are you using the same contractor that the feds and military does that costs us a million (dollars) a toilet?” asked Sen. Jerry Sonneberg, R-Sterling. “You simply do the math, it’s $20,000 a shower. Couldn’t you remodel a whole bathroom for that?”

Sonnenberg later took to Twitter to say of the request: “You can’t make this stuff up.” He included a photo of the budget request document and wrote “NO” at the top.

As the Post reports, this budget request stems from a suicide attempt last year at the Pueblo state mental hospital. That attempt identified a need to change the design of showers at the facility to make it harder to tie off a noose. Of course we’re not talking about your home bathroom, which would likely cost less than $20,000 to remodel. These are bathrooms in a secure facility, designed to be tamperproof and to protect mentally ill Coloradans from self-harm. The changes would continue existing suicide-proofing that has already occurred at other state facilities.

Rep. Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan, suggested the price tag is too much and remains unconvinced it is necessary, even as he acknowledges that preventing suicide “is a great thing.” [Pols emphasis]

We haven’t heard yet if this request was approved today by the Capital Development Committee, but we’ve heard that Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg’s public disparagement of this line-item is making at least some fellow Republicans politically uneasy. The amount may sound excessive at first glance, but in the proper context it’s not really unreasonable at all.

And suicide prevention is just not something we would advise grandstanding against.

Of Course Rick Perry Doesn’t Know Squat About Energy Secretary

Rick Perry, our next Secretary of Energy (whatever that means).

As revealed yesterday in a stunning piece in the New York Times, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry — Donald Trump’s choice for Energy Secretary — doesn’t really have any idea what his potential new job actually entails:

When President-elect Donald J. Trump offered Rick Perry the job of energy secretary five weeks ago, Mr. Perry gladly accepted, believing he was taking on a role as a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry that he had long championed in his home state.

In the days after, Mr. Perry, the former Texas governor, discovered that he would be no such thing — that in fact, if confirmed by the Senate, he would become the steward of a vast national security complex he knew almost nothing about, caring for the most fearsome weapons on the planet, the United States’ nuclear arsenal…

…Mr. Perry, who once called for the elimination of the Energy Department, will begin the confirmation process Thursday with a hearing before the Senate Energy Committee. If approved by the Senate, he will take over from a secretary, Ernest J. Moniz, who was chairman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology physics department and directed the linear accelerator at M.I.T.’s Laboratory for Nuclear Science. Before Mr. Moniz, the job belonged to Steven Chu, a physicist who won a Nobel Prize.

And…now we have Rick Perry. Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine sums up Perry and the Department of Energy with a simple Tweet:

Gardner Disses Obama Hard One Last Time

As caught on camera by The Hill yesterday, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is snarling mad at outgoing President Barack Obama over the commutation of whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s sentence as the clock ticks down toward Donald Trump’s inauguration:

REPORTER: And what about the Manning commutation?

GARDNER: The, I’m sorry?

REPORTER: The Chelsea Manning commutation.

GARDNER: Uh, look. The last actions Barack Obama has made is to stab Israel in the back with passage of the U.S. resolution, now he’s stabbed the American people in the back by pardoning a traitor. [Pols emphasis]

It could have been worse, we suppose. We’ll refrain from speculating how lest we give Gardner any ideas.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 19)

It’s your last night in the White House, so you know what that means…who is picking up the keg? It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Congressional Republicans continue to push ahead in trying to repeal (and possibly replace, maybe) Obamacare despite the fact that public opinion polls regularly show rising support for the Affordable Care Act. As the Washington Post reports, this has led to a political strategy whereby GOP elected officials go out of their way to avoid talking about the issue to other people:

After Sen. Thom Tillis said he would be talking to constituents live on Facebook Wednesday, more than 200 people submitted questions — many of them pointed queries about his views on health care.

While Tillis’s office had advertised a 30-minute event, the senator ultimately appeared on camera for 11 minutes, answering eight questions read to him by a staff member…

…Tillis did not acknowledge any of the follow-up questions that popped up in the comments alongside his video, including requests for more details on the GOP replacement plan. But he did avoid the sort of viral spectacle that many of his fellow lawmakers have encountered over the past week as the debate over repealing the Affordable Care Act got underway in Washington…

…Seven years after unruly Democratic town halls helped stoke public outrage over the Affordable Care Act, Republicans now appear keen to avoid the kind of dust-ups capable of racking up millions of views on YouTube and ending up in a 2018 campaign commercial. Only a handful of GOP lawmakers have held or are planning to host in-person town hall meetings open to all comers — the sort of large-scale events that helped feed the original Obamacare backlash in the summer of 2009.

There is definitely a very good plan somewhere, so don’t you worry about that. Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) wouldn’t lie to you, now would he? Jason Salzman calls on Colorado media outlets to be specific in their questions for Republicans about actual replacement specifics.

 

► Congressman Tom PriceDonald Trump’s choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services, took a heavy grilling on Capitol Hill on Wednesday in his first batch of Senate confirmation hearings — with a good deal of discussion focused on Obamacare and the mythical Republican “replacement plan.” Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) sounded fed up with this vacant talk of a replacement plan and absolutely went off on Price.

 

► If you are planning on attending the “Women’s March” in Denver on Saturday, the Denver Post has some suggestions for navigating the event. More than 40,000 people are expected to descend on Civic Center Park on Saturday morning.

 

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

A Colorado county Republican chair apparently deletes controversial Facebook meme

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

drake-castration-meme-1-2017Richard Drake, the chair of the Saguache County, Colorado, Republican Party, has apparently removed an meme from his Facebook page depicting a castration device with the statement, “Make’em think twice before entering the ladies room. Share if you know what these are used for.”

Drake’s decision to delete the meme came after the Colorado Times Recorder first reported that he’d shared the image on his Facebook page.

LGBTQ rights advocates, including One Colorado, spoke out aganst the meme, pointing out that one in ten transgender people reported being physically accosted last year, and about half say they were verbally harassed.

Last year, Delta County, Colorado, Chair Linda Sorenson resigned in the wake of an uproar over a meme she shared on her Facebook page. The meme compared Obama to a chimpanzee.

A call today to the number listed for Drake on the Saguache County GOP website was not returned. Neither were previous calls and an email to Drake, who was elected to his position by fellow Republicans in Saguache County.

Thursday Open Thread

“We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.”

–Martin Luther King, Jr.

Reporters should press Colorado’s Congressional Republicans on replacement for Obamacare

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (left) and Rep. Mike Coffman.

The Colorado Republican congressional delegation is talking a lot about a “replacement” for Obamacare, as if they have something in mind, without actually pointing to an actual factual replacement–or even any details leading in the direction of a replacement.

Reporters should be extra careful to point out that Republicans have no replacement plan, because all the talk about one can easily confuse already confused people into thinking that Colorado Republicans have a plan.

As an example of how Republicans try to disguise their absence of a plan as a plan, check out this passage from a Jan. 13 Denver Post opinion piece, authored by all of Colorado’s GOP members of Congress (with the glaring exception of U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner.)

And speaking of replacement plans, the narrative that Republicans have offered no plan to replace Obamacare is false. Republicans have introduced multiple alternative health care plans since 2010, and we encourage you to review them. The most recent replacement plan was offered by the Republican Study Committee, called the American Health Care Reform Act. The Empowering Patients First Act was a plan put forth in the 114th Congress by future Health and Human Services Secretary, Dr. Tom Price. Our Better Way Agenda also includes a blueprint for replacing Obamacare that is centered on more choices, lowers costs, and greater flexibility.

Many plans does not mean you have a plan. Gentlemen, which plan do you favor, if any?

Even though Gardner didn’t join his colleagues in the Denver Post opinion, he made a similar statement on KOA 850-AM Jan. 13 (audio below):

Gardner: We have introduced several bills — hundreds of bills, really — small and big over the past several years to replace Obamacare. Some are very targeted, some are much more comprehensive: legislation by Tom Price –soon to be the Secretary of Health; legislation by Dr. Grasso, a Senator from Wyoming who is a physician; legislation from Bill Cassidy, a physician himself from Louisiana that will be introduced next. These are all going to be considered as part of the replacement once it’s repealed.

Hundreds of bills! Small and big! Very targeted! All will be considered! (But, alas, still, no plan.)

But, it’s worth noting, and it’s in fact newsworthy, that  Colorado’s congressional Republicans are saying the Price plan is in the mix, because analysts say that millions of people would lose their health insurance under Price’s proposal. And Price is Trump’s nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Cassidy plan, also mentioned by Gardner, would leave millions of people uninsured or underinsured, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

(more…)

Betsy DeVos Bombs in Education Sec. Confirmation Hearings

Betsy DeVos might want to do a little homework before she next talks to the Senate.

Holy crap, Betsy DeVos! President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education had her first Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday evening, and it did not go well was an absolute train wreck.

As the Washington Post reports (as well as Mother Jones, Slate, and a number of other media outlets), DeVos might be the most ill-prepared cabinet nominee we’ve seen in quite some time:

At her contentious confirmation hearing as Donald Trump’s nominee to be education secretary on Tuesday, Betsy DeVos was asked a question by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) about an important education debate involving how student progress should be measured. The query essentially rendered her speechless as she appeared not to know how to answer. When Franken told her he was upset she didn’t understand it, she did not protest.

That was just one of several moments during the hearing in which DeVos either displayed a lack of knowledge about education fundamentals or refused to answer questions that Democratic members of the Senate Education Committee believe are critical to her fitness for the job.

When Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) asked her whether she would agree that guns don’t belong in schools, she said: “I will refer back to Sen. [Mike] Enzi and the school he was talking about in Wyoming. I think probably there, I would imagine that there is probably a gun in the schools to protect from potential grizzlies.”

Guns in schools protect kids from grizzly bears? Amazingly, this wasn’t the worst comment DeVos made on Tuesday. DeVos seemed completely unfamiliar with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; she declined to agree with Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) that all schools that receive public federal funds should be held to the same standards of accountability; she botched a question about gainful employment regulations; and she seemed clueless about the debate over measuring student growth through test scores, which seems like a pretty obvious topic for discussion.

DeVos didn’t even have an answer for Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) when he asked her about lessons learned from failures in trying to implement public charter schools in Detroit (DeVos is a Michigan native who was a primary architect of Detroit’s charter schools plan). This answer to this question should have been right in her wheelhouse, but instead DeVos tried to respond to Bennet by outlining a history of Detroit.

Ladies and gentlemen, your nominee for Secretary of Education!