Why Do Republicans Do Anything? (feat. Tim Miller)

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with bestselling author, Colorado (almost) native, and former Republican political consultant Tim Miller about why Republicans went off the deep end and whether they can ever find their way back from the wilderness. Miller also talks about the early days of Colorado Pols!

Later, Ian and Jason talk about gun safety legislation in the Colorado legislature and the odd fact that nearly a quarter of all state lawmakers began their legislative careers through “vacancy committee” appointments.

When you’re done listening, go buy Tim’s book: “How We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell.”

Listen to previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Let us have it at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com. Or send emails to jason@getmoresmarter.com or ian@getmoresmarter.com.

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Weekend Open Thread

“Education is our only political safety. Outside of this ark all is deluge.”

–Horace Mann

The Week that Was in the Race for Mayor of Denver

The race to become the next Mayor of Denver is so crowded and difficult to follow that we thought it might be helpful to provide regular updates about endorsements, fundraising, polling, and other items of interest that took place in the last week.

We’ll try to do this every week, including a mini version of “The Big Line” that explains who we think are the top five candidates at the moment. We’ll do our best to present information that we think is particularly relevant, interesting, or entertaining in relation to the first open race for Denver Mayor since 2011.


Voting Information

March 13: Ballots start going out in the mail
April 4: Election Day
June 6: Runoff election if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote



There are 17 candidates on the ballot. Several others are running as “write-in” candidates, but we’re not counting them because they have no chance of winning.


The Top 5 (This Week)

  1. Debbie Ortega ↑
  2. Leslie Herod ↑
  3. Mike Johnston 
  4. Chris Hansen
  5. Kelly Brough ↓

This is our estimation of the top five candidates at the moment. Ortega is well ahead in the only public polling that is available (albeit a poll from Ortega’s campaign) and is racking up big endorsements (UFCW, UNITE Here, Colorado Professional Fire Fighters, former State Sen. Lucia Guzman).

Herod picked up the endorsement of former Mayor Wellington Webb this week. Johnston, Hansen, Herod, and Brough are leading the field in fundraising, which is generally a good indicator of support overall — though voters seem to be generally unfamiliar with Brough (see below).



According to polling data released by the Debbie Ortega campaign, she is well ahead of the rest of the field at the moment. Anybody polling below State Rep. Alex Valdez is in trouble considering that Valdez dropped out of the race last week.

Denver voters might think Mike Johnston and Chris Hansen are the same person:


Internet Tube Troubles

According to this confusing Denverite story, Lisa Calderón is having trouble making sure that voters can access her 2023 campaign website rather than the site she had when she was a mayoral candidate in 2019.

“We have a beautiful new website,” Calderón told Denverite. “I love our website. But we can’t get people directed to it in a way that is going to really help push us forward, at least on the internet.” Are there other places you can access a website aside from the internet?

Calderón’s 2019 website was “lisa4denver.com.” Her new website is “lisafordenver.com.” Calderón’s campaign is blaming the problem on a cybersquatter, but this sort of thing happens when you let your domain name lapse.

Some candidates are having trouble figuring out how to use social media. Kelly Brough’s campaign sent out this unfortunately-worded tweet this week:

“This one is owned by a woman of color.” Oof.

Brough’s campaign also sent out a tweet this week about her “homelessness action plan” that didn’t bother to provide a link to said plan…which sort of defeats the purpose of the entire exercise.

Brough’s plan seems rather incomplete anyway, judging by this story from Denverite. Good luck making sense of this word salad from Brough:

“I think what you do is, we tell people: ‘you can’t camp,’ and we have options though. We’re gonna move you to the shelter, the house … people hear, ‘if you’re not sweeping, then you’re allowing camping.’ No, I’m not.”


WTF Is James Walsh?

James Walsh will be on the ballot and won’t have to run as a write-in candidate, which is good news given his apparent difficulty with the English language:


According to his website, Walsh learns people about history and political science at the University of Colorado Denver.


They Just Can’t Help Themselves, Personhood 2023 Edition

Freshman GOP state Rep. Scott “There Is No” Bottoms (R-HD15).

It was an unexpectedly defeated Republican representative who declared the 2022 elections in Colorado to be an “extinction-level event” for their party, leaving the GOP with their smallest legislative minorities since the Great Depression and breaking the longstanding curse of ticket-splitting that had allowed Republicans to win lesser statewide offices against the state’s overall blueward political trajectory. Thinly (or not at all) repackaged Republican candidates fielded in last November’s elections were kicked to the curb by Colorado voters in an election that served as a referendum on both the direction of the GOP under Donald Trump, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning last summer of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision federally guaranteeing abortion rights.

After nearly two decades in the political wilderness leading to the low point they find themselves in today, Colorado Republicans are very accustomed to losing. As it has in previous years, defeat invariably leads to a period of conflict between the far right who is generally in control of the party at the grassroots level and the “corporate wing” of the GOP who, despite their own immoderate blind spots, realize that a major change in the party’s message and platform is required in order to have a hope of rolling back the tremendous losses they’ve suffered in the last few elections.

And just like it has in previous years, this period of soul-searching ends with a thud the following January as Republican legislators introduce their bills for the session–like House Bill 23-1119, “Abolishing Abortion in Colorado.”

The bill defines a “person” to include an unborn child at all stages of gestation, from fertilization to natural death, as it relates to a private right of action and current homicide and assault provisions.

The bill declares that any existing state law relating to prenatal homicide or assault or regulating abortion or abortion facilities is superseded to the extent it conflicts or is inconsistent with the provisions of the bill.

The bill authorizes the state to disregard any federal court decision that purports to enjoin or void this requirement and subjects a Colorado judge to impeachment or removal if the judge purports to enjoin, stay, overrule, or void the requirement.

While Republican abortion ban bills perennially introduced in recent years by now-departed hard-right lawmakers like former Rep. Steve Humphries have simply declared the performing of an abortion to be a felony, freshman Rep. Scott Bottoms’ approach harkens back to the “Personhood” ballot measures that Colorado voters soundly rejected in multiple general elections–measures that are generally agreed to have damaged Republican candidates sharing the ballot with them. If it were to pass, which of course it won’t being dead on arrival at its first committee hearing, it would rely on a maze of litigation to define its sweeping terms much like the “Personhood” ballot measures would have upended laws well beyond reproductive rights.

Though pleasing to a vocal component of the Republican coalition, the GOP’s perennial abortion ban bills serve pro-choice Democrats much better as a political rallying point–a reminder in this off-year that Colorado Republicans have no desire or intention of moderating their position on abortion, even after the issue played a major role in their defeat in Colorado and lackluster midterm performance across the country. Republicans don’t have to run these bills year after year, they choose to do it and willingly invite the political consequences.

And of course, they’re allowed. If Republicans prefer ideological purity and pandering to a shrinking minority to ever holding majority power again, Democrats should be pleased to accommodate them.

Conservative media figures from “leadership program” promote GOP extremism and election conspiracies

(Garbage in, garbage out – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Bob Schaffer, LPR board chairman..

At least 18 graduates of Colorado’s most prominent conservative training program are media figures who, over the decades, have mostly dragged the Republican Party to the right, initially helping energize Tea Party Republicans to win elections but now contributing to the party’s current isolation, infighting, and increasing irrelevance.

Graduates of the training, called the Leadership Program of the Rockies (LPR), mostly populate right-wing talk radio shows and podcasts.

Two of the first LPR media yappers to have an impact in Colorado were Jason Worley and Ken Clark, who took over KLZ’s Grassroots Radio Colorado in 2011 from founder Jim Pfaff, a hard-right social conservative, and helped shove fellow Tea Partiers toward future Sen. Cory Gardner, who in turn would bear hug the Tea Party on air.

It worked, as Gardner rode the Tea Party/Anti-Obamacare wave into the Senate.

Media Platforms Promote GOP Extremism in Blue State

But it’s been pretty much downhill from there, as LPR graduates in the media have largely pushed conservatives further and further to the right, as the state has veered more and more to the left, culminating in the disaster Republicans currently face: They hold not a single statewide governing body or have any office holder elected in a statewide election.

Bob Schaffer, the LPR’s board chair, says LPR’s goal isn’t to assist the Republican Party anyway. It looks to recruit people with an established “leadership profile” in any area of civic life, including the media, he says.

But the program is aimed partially at spawning media figures, he said. It does this by “empowering individuals to be effective leaders” in civic affairs broadly, including in “health care and academia and ministry and education and — or just, anywhere — in the Scouts, in the nonprofit world or in the media.”


Friday Open Thread

“There could be no honor in a sure success, but much might be wrested from a sure defeat.”

–Ann Landers

Coup Attorney John Eastman Charged By California Bar

John Eastman speaking at the January 6th, 2021 protest to overturn the 2020 presidential elections.

A press release moments ago from the California State Bar announced the filing of 11 misconduct charges against attorney and former University of Colorado Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy John Eastman over Eastman’s role in plotting the failed legal strategy behind ex-President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential elections:

The State Bar of California’s Chief Trial Counsel George Cardona announced today the filing of a Notice of Disciplinary Charges (NDC) against attorney John Charles Eastman (State Bar No. 193726). The 11 charges arise from allegations that Eastman engaged in a course of conduct to plan, promote, and assist then-President Trump in executing a strategy, unsupported by facts or law, to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 presidential election by obstructing the count of electoral votes of certain states.

Specific charges allege that Eastman made false and misleading statements regarding purported election fraud, including statements on January 6, 2020, at a rally in Washington, D.C., that contributed to provoking a crowd to assault and breach the Capitol to intimidate then-Vice President Pence and prevent the electoral count from proceeding.

The Office of Chief Trial Counsel (OCTC) intends to seek Eastman’s disbarment before the State Bar Court.

In March 2022, Cardona invoked a public protection waiver to announce that an investigation of Eastman was underway. Eastman now faces multiple charges that he violated Business and Professions Code section 6106 by making false and misleading statements that constitute acts of “moral turpitude, dishonesty, and corruption.”

“There is nothing more sacrosanct to our American democracy than free and fair elections and the peaceful transfer of power,” said Cardona. “For California attorneys, adherence to the U.S. and California Constitutions is their highest legal duty. The Notice of Disciplinary Charges alleges that Mr. Eastman violated this duty in furtherance of an attempt to usurp the will of the American people and overturn election results for the highest office in the land—an egregious and unprecedented attack on our democracy—for which he must be held accountable.”

Eastman, who after drawing on CU’s payroll inserted himself into Colorado Republicans’ legal squabbles, and association with defeated 2022 gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl accelerated Ganahl’s historic crash and burn, joins former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in facing disbarment over ethical breaches committed while attempting to keep Trump in office past his constitutional expiration date. Both New York and California have robust attorney regulation oversight. Less clear as of this writing is the fate of the third principal attorney who worked closely with Giuliani and Eastman to help overturn the 2020 election, Colorado traffic court lawyer-turned “constitutional scholar” Jenna Ellis of Colorado Christian University. A complaint seeking Ellis’ disbarment was filed almost a year ago with the Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel.

Ellis, who was in on the Trump coup plot up to her eyeballs and authored her own legal strategy for blowing off the results of the 2020 elections, deserves the same sanction. The lack of repentance among all of these figures after their unprecedented and violent attempt to overthrow American democracy cries out for the maximum lawful penalty.

Unless he’s a damned fool, Eastman’s not smirking anymore. And that’s a measure of accountability.

Pettersen Lands Spot on “A-List” Committee

Congresswoman Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood)

Democrat Brittany Pettersen, a freshman lawmaker from Lakewood now representing CO-07, picked up an important committee assignment this week.

As POLITICO explains:

Democrats also named their rosters for the most desired “A” committees — Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Appropriations, and Ways and Means…

…Just two freshmen — Reps. Wiley Nickel (N.C.) and Brittany Pettersen (Colo.) — nabbed a spot on one of the panels. They both landed on Financial Services.

This is a pretty impressive accomplishment for Pettersen to be one of two freshmen — along with the fantastically-named Rep. Wiley Nickel — to earn an assignment on one of the four most influential House committees (Energy and Commerce, Financial Services, Appropriations, and Ways and Means).

Only one other Member of Congress from Colorado sits on one of these top four committees: Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver is a member of the House Energy & Commerce committee.

Congressman Joe Neguse of Boulder was also recently appointed to the House Rules Committee, which is sort of like a “B-Plus Committee” but with the caveat that he’s going to have to deal with a whole lot of crazy; Reps. Chip Roy, Thomas Massie, and Ralph Norman are among the Republican members of the House Rules Committee.

Bennet, Hick Play Hardball Over Space Command

Sens. John Hickenlooper, Michael Bennet.

As Byrant Harris reports for Defense News, the battle over ex-President Donald Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Space Command from Colorado Springs to Alabama as a reward to that state’s MAGA loyalists and a snub to our own state after Trump’s back-to-back defeats, continues with Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper bucking the Biden administration for a course change:

Republican lawmakers spent the last year stalling President Joe Biden’s defense nominees, but the latest threat to filling the Pentagon’s top jobs is coming from the president’s own party.

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said he’s threatening to delay the six remaining Pentagon nominees because Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin refuses to meet with him over the Trump administration’s decision to move U.S. Space Command from its current location in Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Alabama…

Bennet and fellow Colorado Democrat Sen. John Hickenlooper joined Republicans in voting “no” on [Brendan] Owens because their letters to Austin have gone unanswered.

Thomas Novelly of Military.com reports that blocking assistant Defense Secretary nominee Brendan Owens succeeded in getting the DoD’s attention:

Military.com learned Wednesday that Bennet’s office has since been in communication with the Pentagon following the senator’s vote against Owens. [Pols emphasis] The Trump-era call to move Space Command headquarters has been dragging on for two years, with a final decision — supposedly — right around the corner…

In August 2021, while speaking on an Alabama radio show, Trump said the move was his decision, which sparked speculation that the former president may have intervened in the process for choosing the base, something that could have given ammunition to legal challenges.

“Space Force — I sent to Alabama,” Trump told the “Rick & Bubba” radio show at the time. “I hope you know that. [They] said they were looking for a home, and I single-handedly said, ‘Let’s go to Alabama.’ They wanted it. I said, ‘Let’s go to Alabama. I love Alabama.'”

To be clear, nobody is accusing the Biden administration of continuing to prosecute ex-President Trump’s political vendettas. This seems to us to be more a case of bureaucratic inertia, no doubt with some heavy lobbying from Alabama who would very much like the economic lift of Space Command in their state–despite Trump having turned it into a political football right before leaving office in disgrace. Unfortunately for Alabama, Trump’s actions in context have tainted the decision to move Space Command there. Even devoted MAGA toady Rep. Doug Lamborn agrees that Trump’s last-minute act of treachery against Colorado should not be allowed to stand.

Colorado’s interests are being aggressively represented in Washington. Neither side can call that a bad thing.

Colorado Republicans: Still With the Election Fraud Conspiracies

State Rep. Ken DeGraaf (R-ambling buffoon)

Colorado Republicans and their historic new micro-minorities began the 2023 legislative session by demonstrating that they had learned absolutely nothing from their 2022 election drubbing. The problem is particularly bad in the State House, where GOP lawmakers bring up their opposition to abortion rights at every opportunity — a position that is at odds with the vast majority of Colorado voters — and overthink even simple propositions such as their baffling refusal to co-sponsor a completely benign resolution honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Perhaps it should be no surprise, then, that House Republicans are once again talking about election fraud conspiracies. Last week a joint hearing of the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee went off the rails for Republicans when Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold appeared in front of the committee for her regular SMART Act hearing (State Measurement for Accountable, Responsive, and Transparent Government Act). Republican Reps. Ken DeGraaf and Scott “There is No” Bottoms — both of Colorado Springs — used the opportunity to deliver more than 10 minutes of indecipherable rantings about alleged election fraud.

We’re not exaggerating here. Neither DeGraaf nor Bottoms seemed to have much of a grasp on the theories behind their allegations. DeGraaf was particularly nonsensical; at several points, Griswold would have been completely justified in responding, I literally have no idea what you are saying right now.

You can listen to the exchange yourself, or follow along with our transcription below:



DeGraaf begins his ranting with this line:

DEGRAAF: “Questions are not necessarily conspiracy theories.”

This might have been the only cogent thing that came out of DeGraaf’s mouth. What he did not say, but perhaps should have added, is this: But do all conspiracy theories necessarily require serious questions?

DeGraaf’s opening line is one that Republican gubernatorial candidate Heidi Ganahl often used in 2022 when talking about her concerns about election fraud during the 2020 election. Why can’t we just ask questions? she would say. Of course, this isn’t really about asking questions; Republicans are more interested in making statements and tossing around unsubstantiated allegations.

DEGRAAF: What we’re putting our votes into now is a black box. And it’s a black box – we can’t see the code, and we haven’t seen external audits of the code. It should be a very simple code, as Rep. Baisley said.

Yes, let’s definitely cite Mark Baisley’s rhetoric on election fraud. It was about one year ago that Baisley suggested that Colorado should wrap all voting machines in tin foil in order to keep out the aliens block wireless signals from altering votes, or something.


Boebert’s Mom Promotes Conspiracy That Buffalo Bills Player, Who Survived Heart Attack, Is Dead

(“Q-Mom” has some more deep thoughts – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Mocking conspiracy theorists, Hamlin posted this picture with the caption, “Clone.”

The first time Lauren Boebert was asked about QAnon, she tried to brush it off, saying “that’s more my mom’s thing- she’s a little fringe,” before going on to say she herself hoped the conspiracy theory is real and that it could be good for America.

Nearly three years later, it appears that the congresswoman’s mother, Shawna Bentz, is still an avid conspiracy theorist.

She’s currently promoting the ludicrous theory being pushed by Pizzagate promoter Jack Posobiec that the NFL is covering up that fact that Buffalo Bills defensive back Damar Hamlin actually died after collapsing during a game earlier this month and that a body double was used last week when cameras showed him cheering on his team from a suite.

Bentz posted a video of Hamlin waving his arms and asked, “Can this be done with broken ribs?”

In comments on Bentz’s post, she agreed with a man who wrote, “I’ve got a thousand bucks that says he’s been dead for weeks,” before implying that Hamlin’s supposed death was caused by the COVID vaccine.

Bentz replied, “yes, and the NFL made all those players get the JAB they are freaking.”


Thursday Open Thread

“I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific.”

–Lily Tomlin

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Jan. 25)

Enjoy the not-as-cold weather today, because temperatures are predicted to drop significantly by the weekend. Let’s 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 an audio learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.




The Gazette “newspapers,” led by the Denver Gazette, are picking a public fight with The Denver Post in a strange attempt to increase stagnant readership numbers.


Colorado educators are badly in need of more assistance, as Denver7 reports:

The Colorado Education Association released its annual State of Education report and concluded the state’s education system is in a state of crisis.

The largest teachers union in the state — representing 39,000 public educators and school staff — says it is seeing a large number of educators who are considering leaving the profession because of low pay, staffing shortages, work load and safety issues — all problems exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teachers cite safety issues as their number one concern, followed by the consistent problem of low pay for educators. The Colorado Sun has more on the results of the new survey.


As Seth Klamann reports for The Denver Post, Democratic lawmakers at the State Capitol are looking at trying to eliminate bans on rent control in Colorado:

Nearly half of Colorado’s House Democrats have signed on to a bill that would allow local governments to enact rent control, repealing a decades-old prohibition and setting up a potential showdown with Gov. Jared Polis.

HB23-1115 does not institute any rent control or stabilization policies statewide. But it removes a state-level block on local officials rolling out one of their own, and it comes as lawmakers and Polis weigh an array of legislation to address Colorado’s growing housing crisis.

“Rents are too high,” said Rep. Javier Mabrey, a Denver Democrat, eviction attorney and one of the bill’s primary sponsors. “And that does not just mean essential workers like grocery store workers and servers. It’s unaffordable for teachers and nurses.”

Mabrey, a freshman lawmaker, is joined by fellow Democrat Rep. Elizabeth Velasco, of Glenwood Springs, as prime sponsors in the House. Twenty other members — all Democrats — have also signed on. That list includes nearly all of the chamber’s leadership, including Majority Leader Monica Duran, Assistant Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon and the House’s two whips, Reps. Iman Jodeh and Andy Boesenecker.

The Colorado Apartment Association is one of the more vocal opponents of the idea of rent control, because of course it is.


As Colorado Newsline explains, a national debt default could be catastrophic for the economy, but House Republicans are still playing games with demands for spending cuts:

If Congress doesn’t come to an agreement before the default date, expected in early June, economists have warned it could have drastic repercussions for Americans and across the globe. The Treasury would no longer have borrowing authority to pay for the country’s bills in full and on time, which has not happened before in the country’s history.

“Global financial markets and the economy would be upended, and even if resolved quickly, Americans would pay for this default for generations, as global investors would rightly believe that the federal government’s finances have been politicized and that a time may come when they would not be paid what they are owed when owed it,” said Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi and Assistant Director Bernard Yaros in a September 2021 report that came out during the last round of debt limit brinkmanship.

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, a Democrat from Denver, said in a town hall with news reporters that right-wing Republicans don’t want to “exert fiscal responsibility.” She said the debt ceiling was something people on both sides of the aisle always agreed on until the Tea Party Republicans fought raising it in 2011, like she said the MAGA Republicans are doing now.

DeGette said she’s “disturbed” by the rhetoric she’s heard from the far right and how a default could “wreak havoc” on the country’s economy.

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) thinks the debt default concerns are overblown, which says more about Buck than it does about the problem at hand.



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