Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 15)

Happy “Global Handwashing Day.” Please celebrate responsibly. Now, 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.


Oh, this is rich. As the Washington Post reports:

President Trump complained Tuesday about a lack of “transparency” in the accelerating Democrats-led impeachment inquiry as House investigators heard from another key State Department official behind closed doors at the Capitol. [Pols emphasis]

George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state responsible for Ukraine, has been summoned to testify about a campaign by Rudolph W. Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, to pressure Ukraine into investigating the president’s political rival, former vice president and 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden, and his son Hunter…

…House Democrats are scheduled to huddle behind closed doors later Tuesday about the status of the inquiry.

The New York Times has more on the latest updates regarding impeachment depositions. The fact that regular updates about impeachment depositions even exist would seem to refute Trump’s “lack of transparency” complaints.

As Politico reports, Trump’s attempts to bar the doors to impeachment testimony is failing bigly:

Donald Trump’s impeachment blockade has collapsed.

The president’s former top Russia adviser, Fiona Hill — the first White House official to cooperate in Democrats’ investigation of the Ukraine scandal — has sketched for lawmakers a trail of alleged corruption that extends from Kiev to the West Wing. In dramatic testimony on Monday, she roped in some of Trump’s top advisers as witnesses to the unfolding controversy.

And on Tuesday, a senior State Department official, George Kent, appeared on Capitol Hill to testify about his knowledge of the episode despite an attempt by administration lawyers to block him, according to a source working on the impeachment inquiry. The House Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena for his testimony Tuesday morning, and Kent complied.

It’s the latest evidence that the White House’s stonewalling against congressional requests for documents and testimony is crumbling — and Democrats are feeling a new sense of momentum.


► Democratic Presidential candidates hit the stage in Columbus, Ohio tonight for the next big debate. Readers of Colorado Pols seem to think that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is in the driver’s seat at the moment. Over at CNN, you can read their list of seven things to watch for in tonight’s debate, including the performance of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had heart surgery just a few weeks ago.


► As the New York Times reports, Russia is plenty pleased with President Trump’s decision last week to remove American troops from Syria:

As the Middle East reels from President Trump’s erratic foreign policy, Russia is savoring a fresh chance to build its status as a resurgent world power and cast itself as a force for stability. The withdrawal of United States troops from northeastern Syria, coupled with Turkey’s incursion, is allowing Russia to play the part of responsible peacemaker and to present a contrast to what many in the region see as unstable leadership from Washington.

It’s too soon to tell whether Russia will be able to manage the new volatility in Syria, just as it’s not clear if the impeachment furor over Ukraine will help the Kremlin’s interests in Eastern Europe. But as Russian President Vladimir V. Putin landed in Saudi Arabia Monday for a state visit to one of America’s most important allies, it appeared clear that Mr. Trump’s moves in recent months were helping him make the case that Moscow, not Washington, was the more dependable actor on the world stage. [Pols emphasis]

Here in Colorado, residents with Kurdish ties are asking Americans to speak out against Turkey’s aggression in Northern Syria.


► Colorado Republicans are going to have to cast a ballot for President Trump in a GOP Primary, as 9News reports:

Trump will face a Republican primary in Colorado, unlike five other states where party leaders canceled contests in favor of automatically assigning delegate votes.

The Colorado Republican Party cannot cancel a primary if a second person is on the ballot. In Colorado, Trump will compete with Robert Ardini, of New York, for the 2020 nomination.

Ardini 2020, or something!


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


Stupid Facts Keep Messing Up O&G Talking Points

The fracking operation shown in this photo does not really exist. Probably.

Facts have a nasty habit of contradicting nonsense.

If you are someone like President Trump, you deal with the intractable fact problem by just ignoring the existence of true, provable information altogether; this approach got Trump a room at the White House, but it hasn’t been as effective since the 2016 election. Trump’s effusive display of non-factual information has nevertheless emboldened a number of politicians and right-wing sycophants eager to use their bullshit currency whenever possible.

During the 2019 Colorado legislative session, many Republicans shook their fists from the mountaintops about Senate Bill 181, an oil and gas regulation bill that opponents claimed would completely destroy the fossil fuel industry in Colorado and turn us all into a bunch of penniless fools destined to stumble around the Eastern Plains with empty gas cans. As it turned out, this was not even sorta true, but the mythology persists: Just last week a large number of fingers were again pointed at SB-181 amid news that energy giant Halliburton was laying off hundreds of workers (including 178 in Grand Junction). Halliburton itself blamed “local market conditions” resulting from low oil prices and a general surplus of oil and gas in the United States, but that didn’t stop right-wing voices in Colorado from yelling about SB-181.

As Ed Sealover of the Denver Business Journal reported last week, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) directed his ire at SB-181 during a Colorado Chamber of Commerce event in Denver:

On oil and gas regulations, Gardner swerved from federal policy to attack Senate Bill 181 — the Colorado law signed in April allowing local governments more control over drilling and requiring state officials to consider public health and safety above other factors in permitting decisions — saying that it is slowing the number of drilling-permit applications, which will lead to a loss of activity and loss of jobs in the coming years. He said he supports an “all of the above” policy of promoting both traditional and renewable energy; when pressed, he said his focus on renewables includes support for increased funding for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden but will not include any mandated percentage of national energy that should come from renewable sources.

“We should increase the percentage of fuel that is clean energy,” Gardner said. “But we should let the market work.” [Pols emphasis]

We highlighted that last part for reasons that will soon become obvious. As Greg Avery reports this afternoon for the Denver Business Journal, the market appears to be working just fine:

Jagged Peak Energy Inc., a Denver-based oil and gas company, is merging with a larger Texas company in a deal worth nearly $2.3 billion that consolidates operations in Texas’ Delaware Basin.

The deal, if it closes as expected early next year, will leave Denver with one less headquarters of a publicly-traded oil and gas company.

So…a Denver-based oil and gas company is merging with a larger Texas company not because of production problems in Colorado, but in order to consolidate operations in Texas.

We all know what’s happening here: Colorado SB-181 is now destroying the oil and gas industry in other states!


Is Cory Gardner Done?

JAMES CARVILLE: That poor guy, I don’t think he is vulnerable, I think he’s done. He ought to just drop out of the race.

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

In the past 24 hours, Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado has transitioned from merely the nation’s most vulnerable Republican Senator up for re-election in 2020 into a living metaphor for the Republican Party’s inability to hold President Donald Trump accountable as Trump’s chaotic presidency barrels toward catastrophe.

Gardner was not the only vulnerable Republican caught giving completely unsatisfactory answers to reporters about impeachment inquiry dominating national headlines, but Gardner’s evasive and increasingly hostile interaction with FOX 31’s Joe. St. George and 9NEWS’ Anusha Roy seems to have struck a nerve like few other moments in Gardner’s career. This was hardly Gardner’s first go-round trying to manage a bad Trump story, but after these two competing reporters tag-teamed to prevent Gardner from changing the subject his “torture to watch” evasions became the functional equivalent of pleading guilty. The Hill’s Jordain Carney captured the moment well:

When the reporter tried to follow up to ask again if Gardner thought it was appropriate, Gardner said that he had answered the question and turned to another reporter.

After the second reporter asked Gardner if his answer was “yes or no,” the GOP senator pivoted to talking about House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry and told reporters they were focusing on politics…

The clip of the back-and-forth between Garner and reporters quickly garnered attention from national media, Gardner’s 2020 rivals and even Trump, who liked a tweet from a Bloomberg reporter weighing in on a video of Gardner’s comments. [Pols emphasis]

Given the extent of the backfire, perhaps Gardner’s performance was worse than pleading guilty.

One of the recurring comments we’ve seen in response to yesterday’s punishing back-and-forth is that it was an “uncharacteristic” reaction from a Senator who has established a reputation for staying composed no matter what he’s confronted with. But yesterday Gardner’s mask slipped, and in addition to getting visibly irritated in the clip now seen by the whole country he had this telling separate exchange with 9NEWS’ Anusha Roy:

Folks, that is not how a happy politician interacts with the press.

In 2014, Gardner powered through scrutiny of his record by audaciously re-inventing himself and successfully turning liabilities into sympathetic backlash against his “overly negative” opponent. Five years later, Gardner can’t count on any of that–and the “message discipline” that helped Gardner eke out his 1.9% win in 2014 is blowing up in Gardner’s face.

Cory Gardner has never faced anything quite like this before. In a way, this problem is worse than Gardner’s underwater poll numbers, since losing credibility with the media makes it much harder to recover lost support. And while we don’t expect Gardner to take James Carville’s advice today…the thought has to have crossed his mind by now.


Alice Madden Dropping Out of Senate Race

Today is Dropout Friday, apparently. Former House Majority Leader Alice Madden is ending her bid for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate:

Madden’s Senate candidacy was really just getting started by the time it became clear that Gov. John Hickenlooper would be entering the race. Hickenlooper’s overwhelming advantage in both name ID and fundraising made it hard for Madden to find a lane for her own campaign.


Liberty Oilfield Services CEO Likens Climate Change Science to Eugenics

(Uh… — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Speaking as part of a business panel hosted by Colorado Chamber of Commerce, Liberty Oilfield Services CEO Chris Wright was asked to name the biggest threat to his business. Wright responded by citing a “rising sense of fear and panic,” before giving a detailed summary of eugenics (culminating in the Holocaust), and then comparing it to modern climate science.

The Colorado Chamber’s annual luncheon featured keynote speaker U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO).

The event, titled “Business Elevated: Industries Driving the Colorado Economy,” included a panel discussion, moderated by Denver Business Journal reporter Ed Sealover, among business leaders on key political and policy issues impacting industries in Colorado.

Colorado Chamber Chair Stacey Campbell of Campbell Litigation, P.C. and HCA Healthcare Continental Division CEO Sylvia Young joined Gardner and Wright on the panel. GE Johnson CEO Jim Johnson was initially listed as participating, but did not attend. Both Wright and Johnson are five-figure donors to the Colorado Republican party.

For his first question, Sealover asked the business panelists to identify the biggest threat to their industry. Campbell talked broadly about the rising minimum wage, and Young discussed government interference and overreach in healthcare industry.

Then it was Wright’s turn. He began with the big picture, “We have a rising sense of fear and panic and this is a very dangerous environment for decision-making.” Then he proceeded to give a detailed historical summary of eugenics, noting that it was broadly supported by the academic and political communities of the time. He called that insane and noted that “it was taken too far –to extremes– in Europe” (a reference to the Holocaust). Wright then compared it to modern climate change science.



Get More Smarter on Wednesday (October 9)

The hashtag #RepublicanCampaignSlogans is trending on Twitter today. Now, 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.


Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is scaling back his Presidential campaign as he continues to recover from a heart attack suffered last week.


Turkey has begun a military offensive against American-allied Kurds in Syria, just days after President Trump announced a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region.


► Former Gov. John Hickenlooper announced on Tuesday that his campaign for U.S. Senate raised an astonishing $2.1 million in just five weeks.


► If you’re having trouble keeping up with the rapidly-changing news on impeachment proceedings against President Trump, we’ve got you covered with a new feature we’re calling “Just Impeachie.”


► Check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast and play the game that everybody is talking about (probably): “Duke or Donald?”

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


Colorado Republican Leader: “Cory Gardner Played Ken Buck”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The leader of the Adams County Republican Party Independent Expenditure Committee says U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) isn’t really liked in Adams County.

He also believes Gardner feared a primary challenge from Congressman Ken Buck (R-CO4) so much that Gardner “stroked his ego,” convincing Buck to run for state party chair in order to take him “off the playing field.”

Ben Nicholas, who also serves as District Captain for the Adams Republicans in House District 35, shared his beliefs with the Jefferson County Republican Men’s Club on Sept. 9.

I believe that Cory Gardner played Ken Buck. I believe that he, somehow, stroked Ken’s ego, to a point saying “you’re the only person that can save the state party. And in doing so, when Ken agreed to run as the chairman, it took him off the playing field as a possible primary contender for his position. Ken Buck’s the only one who had the name recognition, really to challenge Cory Gardner. And Cory Gardner is not really liked in Adams County. Ben Nicholas, Adams County Republican Party District Captain & Founder, Adams GOP IEC

Nicholas’ statements came during a question and answer section following his speech, “Fundraising for Freedom.” In his lecture he explained the reasoning behind Adams County GOP’s decision to follow the lead of former state chair Ryan Call, who created an independent expenditure committee for the Colorado Republicans in order to raise money above the relatively low state limits. Call shared the impact of the GOP IEC with committee members at the same March 30 meeting at which they elected Buck chair.



Hickenlooper Raises $2.1 Million…In Five Weeks

Hickenlooper raised WHAT???

Democrat John Hickenlooper announced today that his campaign for U.S. Senate raised $2.1 million in just five weeks since first entering the race in late August, a ridiculous sum of money that cements his place as the Democratic frontrunner in 2020.

As the Colorado Sun reports:

The Hickenlooper campaign told The Colorado Sun that 95% of the contributions from his announcement Aug. 22 through the Sept. 30 deadline were $200 or less and spanned 59 of Colorado’s 64 counties. He ended the quarter with $1.7 million in the bank.

“Each and every person who chipped in recognizes that Colorado needs a new independent voice, a senator who reflects our values and will work to bring people together and get things done on issues that matter to Coloradans — like expanding access and controlling costs for health care, and tackling climate change head on,” Hickenlooper said in a campaign statement.

The Sun reports that Hickenlooper’s total “falls short” of the $2.45 million raised by incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) in Q3, but Gardner had seven more weeks in which to collect checks for his campaign. Hickenlooper’s hot start is a record haul for a non-incumbent Senate candidate in Colorado (see chart below).

Hickenlooper’s campaign has more cash on hand ($1.7 million) than the rest of the field of Democratic Senate candidates in Colorado combined. That total does not include any leftover funds from Hickenlooper’s campaign for President.


The Impenetrable Trump Base Might Be a Myth

TUESDAY UPDATE: As the Washington Post reports, another new batch of polling numbers look grim for President Trump:

A new Washington Post-Schar School poll shows support for an impeachment inquiry rising to a new high after Democrats formally launched one. The 58 percent who support the inquiry is higher than in any other poll; the 38 percent who oppose it suggests only Trump’s most devoted base is now opposed.

But even that isn’t quite accurate — because it shows some of Trump’s base does support the inquiry and even his removal.

In fact, 28 percent of Republicans support the impeachment inquiry, and 18 percent say they support removing Trump from office, according to the poll. [Pols emphasis] The rise in GOP support for the impeachment inquiry in the poll is commensurate with the rise in support among other groups, according to The Post’s Dan Balz and Scott Clement.


Somewhat realistic

Elected Republicans won’t abandon President Trump because they are afraid of his base of voter support.

This has long been the rationale behind the (largely) unwavering support Trump enjoys from Republican elected officials such as Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). It is a statement that we all “know” to be true primarily because everybody — including President Trump — repeats it so often.

But what if this isn’t true? Much like the Yeti, perhaps Trump’s base is both mostly white and largely fictional. This is the argument made by E.J. Dionne Jr. of the Washington Post over the weekend, and it’s a compelling proposition:

Polls conducted throughout Trump’s presidency show that his critics feel far more strongly about their opposition to him than his defenders feel about their support. [Pols emphasis] The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, found that only 24 percent of registered voters strongly approved of Trump’s performance, while 44 percent strongly disapproved. Significantly, 74 percent of Democratic registered voters strongly disapproved of Trump, but only 50 percent of Republican registered voters strongly approved of him. Which base would you rather have going into this fight — and into 2020?

The 24 percent are the folks you see at the Trump rallies. Trump’s more tepid approvers (17 percent of registered voters in this survey) tend to stay home, take in the news and ask questions about what’s going on.

The big gap between strong approvers and strong disapprovers was very predictive of the 2018 election turnout that gave Democrats control of the House. Those elections showed that many who voted for Trump in 2016 were prepared to vote for Democrats two years later. This was a telling sign that a sizable share of Trump’s voters are not lockstep apologists.

Dionne notes further polling data in recent months showing that Trump’s approval ratings, which are generally not very good, are not accompanied by the unbreakable levels of support that the President believes to exist. In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted last month before the “transcript” of Trump’s Ukraine call was released, “only 30 percent said they had “very positive” feelings toward him, and only 25 percent said they both liked Trump personally and approved of most of his policies.”

We can see some of this disconnect in Colorado in the repeated failure by Republicans to recall Democratic elected officials in 2019. There is no question that there are a number of Colorado Republicans who are very unhappy with Democrats and more than willing to voice that disapproval whenever possible (mostly on Facebook and in the comments section of the Denver Post). It also appears that there are not nearly enough of these right-wing diehards to enact a successful recall campaign anywhere in the state. This is similar to the voter intensity argument that Dionne makes in the Washington Post:

In fact, a lot of Trump’s one-time supporters do not believe everything they hear from him or Fox News. A fair number of them don’t like him very much…

…Those advancing the case for impeachment believe that, whether the Senate removes Trump from office or not, it’s important to make clear how corrupt and dangerous his behavior has been. More Trump voters are listening to these arguments than their pretend-friends want us to believe. [Pols emphasis]

Republican Senators are indeed beginning to back away from President Trump. It’s too late for sycophants like Gardner to find an exit now — not when Gardner has pushed all of his chips over to Trump — but the door is still ajar for the likes of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and others who haven’t completely sold out to the Big Orange Guy.

If we see elected Republicans leaping off of the Trump bandwagon in the coming weeks, it won’t be out of any sort of moral concern. It will instead be a reflection of a massive miscalculation by Republicans about the foundation of Trump’s support.


Today: Cory Gardner Talking To Business Execs In Texas

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)
U.S. Senate Calendar

The United States Senate Calendar lists September 30 through October 14 as a “State Work Period.”

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) is indeed working in a state today, but it’s not Colorado. Gardner is in San Antonio, Texas talking to business leaders at a private luncheon hosted by the Texas Association of Business and several local chambers of commerce.

Senators Gardner & Tillis Keynote Texas Business Event

According to the invitation, attendees will be provided with

“a rare and unique opportunity to continue our advocacy efforts by bringing DC to SA. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet the Senators, hear directly from them on the most pressing issues facing Congress, and fill them in on the issues most important to you.”

The invitation also gives a preview of the topics Gardner is covering:

“Get an outside perspective from Senators Cory Gardner (CO) and Thom Tillis (NC) as they tackle tough questions about military funding, healthcare, homeland security, and the 2020 election… As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, senior Senator Gardner will talk about his efforts to urge for swift ratification of the USMCA. He will also cover his work on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to garner bipartisan support for legislation to protect our country’s energy grid from cyberattacks.”

Joining Gardner is his colleague Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC). Like Gardner, Tillis faces a challenging reelection campaign next year. The Washington Post recently listed the pair as two of the three most vulnerable Republican incumbents. The senators also share a joint fundraising committee, “Gardner Tillis Victory,” which has raised over $96,000 for their campaigns. Both candidates are also listed on five additional joint fundraising committees, according to reporting by the Colorado Sun’s Sandra Fish.

San Antonio has proven to be fertile ground for Gardner’s political fundraising efforts. He received just shy of $20,000 from residents of the Texas city in 2014. Among those contributions were a pair of maximum $2,600 donations From William Eugene Powell and his wife Dana. Gene Powell is a member of the both Greater Chamber of Commerce of San Antonio and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, two of the organizations hosting today’s luncheon.

Gardner will appear at a similar event in Denver later in the week. He’s the keynote speaker at the Colorado Chamber of Commerce’s annual luncheon, which takes place this Thursday at 11:15am at the Westin Hotel downtown. The event is titled, “Business Elevated: Industries Driving the Colorado Economy.”

In addition to giving a speech, Gardner will participate in a panel discussion with CEOs from the healthcare, oil & gas, construction and legal fields. Representing the oil & gas industry is Chris Wright, CEO of Liberty Resources, one of the state’s largest fracking companies. Wright and his wife together donated $20,000 to the Colorado Republican Party last year. Another panelist, GE Johnson CEO Jim Johnson, also donated $10,000 to the Colorado Republican Party in 2018.


This is Getting Ridiculous, Cory Gardner

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you are well aware that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is going to extreme lengths to both hide from constituents and reporters and then later pretend that he held a public event. This morning, Gardner’s official Twitter account was back at it…and once again Gardner got called out for his bullshit.

You can see Gardner’s initial Tweet below, including a response from the Twitter account of “Mister V,” an editorial cartoonist based in Granby, Colorado:

Don’t be ashamed if you weren’t aware that the Grand Gazette was an actual news outlet; we admit that we’d never heard of it until today, either.

Aside from the obvious lesson here, it looks like we’re just a few months away from Gardner literally inventing new publications in order to show how accessible he really isn’t. We look forward to the inaugural issue of the Yuma Daily Gardner-Picayune.


Get More Smarter on Thursday (October 3)

It’s finally time to celebrate Fullmetal Alchemist day. Now, 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.


President Trump is now publicly calling on China to investigate various Bidens for some sort of invented transgression. As NBC News reports:

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.

While Trump said he hasn’t requested Chinese President Xi Jinping investigate the Bidens, the public call mirrors the private behavior on which Democrats are partially basing their impeachment inquiry— using the office of the presidency to press a foreign leader to investigate a political rival.

It is “certainly something we can start thinking about, because I’m sure that President Xi does not like being on that kind of scrutiny, where billions of dollars is taken out of his country by a guy that just got kicked out of the Navy,” Trump said Thursday of asking China to probe the Bidens. “He got kicked out of the Navy, all of the sudden he’s getting billions of dollars. You know what they call that? They call that a payoff.”

Now it’s “billions” of dollars. By this time next week, Trump will be alleging that the Bidens pocketed trillions.

In a related story, CNN’s Chris Cillizza takes us through the transcript of Trump’s bananas press conference on Wednesday alongside the President of Finland.


► Welcome to the shitshow, Vice President Mike Pence. From the Washington Post:

President Trump repeatedly involved Vice President Pence in efforts to exert pressure on the leader of Ukraine at a time when the president was using other channels to solicit information that he hoped would be damaging to a Democratic rival, current and former U.S. officials said.

Trump instructed Pence not to attend the inauguration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in May — an event White House officials had pushed to put on the vice president’s calendar — at a time when Ukraine’s new leader was seeking recognition and support from Washington, the officials said.]]
Months later, the president used Pence to tell Zelensky that U.S. aid was still being withheld while demanding more aggressive action on corruption, officials said. At that time — following Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenksy — the Ukrainians probably understood action on corruption to include the investigation of former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Pence is trying to claim ignorance about the whole Ukraine scandal, but as the Post reports, officials say that “one of Pence’s top advisers was on the July 25 call and the vice president should have had access to the transcript within hours.”

Have fun with this one, Mr. Vice President.


 The battle has been joined! The “YES” on Proposition CC campaign kicked off on Wednesday with the support of Gov. Jared Polis (D-Boulderish).


► Check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Los Angeles Times White House reporter Eli Stokols.

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


No Comment Cory: Dodgy As Ever

Invisible Cory GardnerCory Gardner is a United States Senator. This is a full-time job that fundamentally requires Gardner to take a position on important issues of the day. We assume that Gardner has opinions on things, but it is hard to know for sure because the Yuma Republican goes to such great efforts to avoid discussing…well, anything.

In early August we published a roundup of Gardner’s powers of invisibility that we titled, “No Comment Cory.” Over a period of about one month, we found more than 12 examples of Gardner or his office flat-out refusing to offer comment on a variety of topics. Two months later, we took a look to see if anything had changed.

It hadn’t.


August 9, 2019

The Denver Post wondered what Gardner thinks about a new television ad critical of his refusal to take any sort of meaningful action to curb gun violence in the United States:

Gardner’s campaign had no comment on the ad.

August 21, 2019

Proving that no subject is too inane to be dodged, Gardner was asked by the Washington Post about visiting the Colorado offices of

Gardner stayed mum on Twitter about his Amazon tour, even though he tweeted about visits to Maxar Technologies in Westminster, Colo., and Swisslog Healthcare in Broomfield, Colo., the same day. Gardner spokeswoman Annalyse Keller declined to comment.

August 26, 2019

The Huffington Post wondered what Gardner thought about the rising popularity of Cardboard Cory:

Gardner’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment from HuffPost.

September 4, 2019

The Colorado Sun came this close to getting a comment from Gardner’s office about his decision to again support President Trump’s “emergency declaration” for border wall money:

Gardner’s office did not respond to a request for comment until midday Wednesday, nearly 24 hours after the story of the Peterson impact first broke. In it, the Republican blamed Democrats for the situation leading to the reallocated funds.


September 8, 2019

How about CNN? Would Gardner respond for a story about gun violence prevention measures? You already know the answer to this:

The Gardner campaign did not make the senator available for an interview with CNN for this story and did not respond to questions about whether the senator would support or oppose expanded background check or federal red flag legislation if either came up for a vote in the Senate.

September 11, 2019

Politico wondered about Gardner’s second vote in support of President Trump’s “emergency declaration,” which stalled an $8 million project at Peterson Air Force base:

When asked Wednesday if he’d support the national emergency declaration, Gardner responded: “I haven’t seen the resolution of disapproval, but I mean, the Democrats refuse to fund the border.”


September 19, 2019

The Colorado Sun reported on a story about federal leadership PACs. They tried and failed to get a response:

Gardner’s campaign declined to comment about Project West PAC.


September 24, 2019

What say Gardner about impeachment proceedings against President Trump? As Politico found, not much:

Gardner said Trump’s conversations with the president of Ukraine about Joe Biden and his family as well as a whistleblower complaint about the president’s conversations with a world leader are a “serious issue.” Asked if he still supported Trump’s reelection, Gardner declined to address the question: “Let’s find out what’s happening. Let’s get to the bottom of this.”


September 26, 2019

It’s your turn, Wall Street Journal:

September 26, 2019

As The Hill found, Gardner will go to great lengths to explain why he won’t explain:

Gardner was on his phone and unavailable to comment at a vote shortly before lunchtime. His office did not respond to a request for comment.


September 26, 2019

9News reporter/anchor Kyle Clark had some questions about Gardner concerning his continued support for President Trump’s “emergency declaration”:

For weeks now we’ve been asking Senator Gardner’s staff whether the Senator knew that Colorado could lose money when he was out there publicly promising that Colorado would be spared cuts. We’ve been trying to figure out, did the Trump administration pull a fast one on Gardner, or did Gardner know that we could lose a military project when he seemed to indicate otherwise. Once again today, Sen. Gardner’s spokeswoman would not answer that question.

September 27, 2019

The Denver Post got bupkus when they tried to ask Gardner about impeachment proceedings:

Ditto on a question about Gardner’s thoughts on the Ukraine whistleblower:

Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner called the whistleblower allegations a “serious issue” but would not comment further until more facts are available.


We don’t pretend to understand the political or strategic calculations behind Gardner’s consistent dodginess, but there’s simply no denying that inaccessibility is the Gardner brand.



Gardner Straps In For More “Maximum Pressure”

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

CNN, here we go again:

“I can confirm that US and (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) officials plan to meet within the next week. I do not have further details to share on the meeting,” US State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement Tuesday.

The US special representative for North Korea, Stephen Biegun, will lead the US side of the working-level talks with North Korea, according to a State Department official.

Negotiations on denuclearization have stalled since February, when President Donald Trump cut short his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi. Trump left the meeting with no joint agreement after Kim insisted all US sanctions be lifted on his country.

The last time the two leaders met was in June in the Korean Demilitarized Zone where they agreed to revive staff-level talks.

North Korea, like American relations with Russia, Ukraine, the Philippines, and any number of other flashpoints around the world, is a subject on which Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado has been obliged to tread very carefully since Donald Trump took office. Coming from a hayseed congressional district and the state legislature of a landlocked state, Gardner has worked hard to upgrade his international diplomacy credentials serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Gardner repeatedly chastised Trump’s Democratic predecessor for perceived weakness in relations with traditional American adversaries Russia and North Korea in particular.

Trump’s erratic on-again-off-again engagement with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, as well as the interference by Russia in the 2016 elections to help Trump win, has left Gardner’s hawkishness toward both countries in a very awkward position. Gardner denounces “Russian meddling” when he’s forced to, but without admitting on whose behalf the Russians meddled and why–obvious realities Gardner is politically unable to acknowledge. On North Korea, Gardner has been left to spin events he has no influence over after the fact as best he can, without breaking the cardinal rule of never saying anything on the record that could make Trump mad. Because the moment Trump’s Tweets of love for Gardner turn into nastygrams, Gardner loses his Republican base.

With all of this in mind, stay tuned for the results of this latest round of bilateral negotiations elevating the “Hermit Kingdom” to parity with the world’s greatest superpower! Gardner will be tuned in, too–and with former National Security Adviser John Bolton freshly trashing Trump on North Korea while boosting Gardner’s re-election campaign, we’ll be watching to see how Gardner manages to thread this rhetorical needle.

You know, along with all the others.


Get More Smarter on Tuesday (October 1)

They say “spooky season” starts today; it kinds feels like that’s already been happening. Now, 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.


► The U.S. Department of State apparently plans to ignore Congressional subpoenas related to impeachment proceedings against President Trump. As the Washington Post explains:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo fired a broadside at House Democrats on Tuesday, saying State Department officials scheduled to appear this week before committees conducting the impeachment inquiry would not be made available until “we obtain further clarity on these matters.”

The refusal, in a letter to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), described the demand for depositions by five officials who played a role in U.S. relations with Ukraine as “an attempt to intimidate, bully, and treat improperly, the distinguished professionals of the Department of State.”…

…The statements came as Pompeo’s role in the Ukraine investigation broadened with reports that he was a participant in the July 25 call by President Trump to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, which led to the impeachment investigation.

Before that report, first published by The Wall Street Journal, Pompeo had brushed off questions about the incident, saying last week that he had not yet read the transcript of the telephone call released by the White House, or the whistleblower complaint that it sparked.

It was widely reported on Monday that Pompeo was indeed a participant on the infamous July 25 call with Ukraine. Now Pompeo is accusing Democrats of “bullying.”

The Trump administration appears to be digging in on impeachment at the same time that public opinion is drastically shifting in favor of ousting Trump. As Stephen Collinson writes for CNN, Trump’s impeachment defense strategy has more holes than the Denver Broncos’ roster:

The President seems to be reeling, waiting for the next blow to fall, defended only by his increasingly unhinged tirades, his tweets quoting supporters on cable news and confrontational and conspiracy-laden appearances by aides on TV.

The President’s unaccustomed struggle to control the narrative and to get his opponents to respond to his moves bodes ill for any hopes he has of avoiding a full House impeachment vote.

There is no sign of the organized, disciplined political and legal strategy that for instance helped Bill Clinton emerge from his impeachment trial as a viable President.


 As the New York Times reports, President Trump recently pressured Australia to get involved in helping to discredit the Mueller investigation.


 Democratic Presidential candidates are starting to reveal third quarter fundraising numbers. As CBS News reports Sen. Bernie Sanders raised $25 million in the last three months and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg pulled down $19 million.


► Check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Los Angeles Times White House reporter Eli Stokols.


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


Next Question: Is Cory Still Heading To NYC This Weekend?

TUESDAY UPDATE: Via FOX 31’s Joe St. George, here’s your answer:

Duly noted for posterity. Filed under “fateful decisions.”


Back in late August, we learned of a major Trump campaign fundraising “retreat” scheduled for the first week of October in New York City–the presumption is that it’s being held at Trump Tower though that has yet to be confirmed. Headlining this weekend’s retreat are former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, who are both actually listed ahead of Donald Trump, Jr. in formation on the invite you can see above.

As our readers know, the month of September has been very bad for the Trump administration, starting the month having gummed the Mueller investigation to death but ending today with Democrats moving to impeach the President over a scandal the public wasn’t even aware of when September began. All eyes are now on vulnerable Republicans in general and Cory Gardner in particular for signs of a split from the President to save their own hides. The latest word we have on this front comes from National Journal Friday:

Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado called the transcript between Trump and the Ukrainian president “a serious issue” and declined to commit support for Trump’s reelection. (A spokesman for Gardner’s campaign called National Journal — after this column was published — to clarify that Gardner still supports the president’s re-election.)

Add this weekend’s Trump retreat to your list of bellwethers to watch in the impeachment crisis. If Gardner shows, it’s a sign that he’s standing by Trump no matter what happens. But if Gardner suddenly realizes he has a junket to the Philippines or a surprise swing through the Eastern Plains of Colorado on his schedule this weekend…

You’ll know what’s really going on. Stay tuned.


Cory Gardner Refuses To Shoot Straight On Gun Control

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Only two U.S. senators from blue states have “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association, and Cory Gardner is one of them. He also has a 100% rating from Gun Owners of America and a 0% rating from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

His voting record is unequivocally pro-gun and his campaign donations (nearly $4 million from the NRA) reflect that. Yet Gardner’s public statements about gun violence demonstrate a reluctance to acknowledge his own position on the issue.

When questioned directly by reporters, Gardner becomes a moving target, evading questions and avoiding direct answers, often by claiming he hasn’t yet read legislation that was introduced months or even years earlier.

President Trump’s on-again, off-again support for universal background checks has complicated Gardner’s attempt to avoid the issue. Following Trump’s call for “red flag” legislation following the Aug. 3 shooting in El Paso, 9News anchor Kyle Clark was forced to ambush Gardner on the street to get a comment.

Clark: “Do you support President Trump’s call for “red flag” gun control?”   Gardner: “I’m certainly going to look at it, study it, and make sure it’s something that doesn’t violate rights while it does the right thing for the people of Colorado.”   Clark: “Senator Rubio (R-FL) has had a bill like that for a while, so I assume you or your staff has looked at that, [Gardner nods]. Do you think that’s a good idea?”   Gardner: “Look we have to do what’s right by Colorado and we have to make sure we’re right by the Constitution and do what’s right to prevent this kind of horrific event from ever happening again.”

That same day Gardner refused to give any substantive answer to a local journalist, CNN’s Clare Foran published a feature piece on Gardner and the gun issue. The article cited numerous sources, including the Colorado Times Recorder’s reporting on Gardner’s radio statements that he didn’t think that any version of Colorado’s red flag law (neither the failed 2018 bill nor the law passed this year) were constitutional.




No Escape For Gardner As Impeachment Crisis Consumes D.C.

UPDATE: Well, that escalated quickly:

You’ll want to ask Sen. Cory Gardner, but we’re pretty sure no one in the White House “gets a merit badge” for threatening civil war. It’s tough to imagine this getting much worse, unless of course said civil war were to actually, you know, begin.

If you consider prayer for the nation to be a worthwhile endeavor, now would be a good time.


President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

CBS News reports on another grim milestone reached by the Trump administration today, less then two weeks since the present full-stop crisis over President Donald Trump’s manipulation of the Ukrainian government to investigate the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden began:

More than half of Americans — and an overwhelming number of Democrats — say they approve of the fact that Congress has opened an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. But as the inquiry begins, there is no national consensus on how to assess the president’s actions…

Almost nine in 10 Democrats approve of the inquiry, and two-thirds strongly approve. Prior to the inquiry, some had wondered if taking up impeachment proceedings might divide a Democratic rank-and-file that has been long concerned with other policies like health care and guns. However, these findings suggest that it this is not the case: most moderate Democrats side with liberal Democrats in supporting impeachment proceedings. Of those who say they voted for a Democratic House candidate in 2018, nine in 10 feel this inquiry is necessary.

Characterizing the president’s actions in particular, just under one-third of Americans say the president’s handling of matters with Ukraine may have been improper but were nonetheless still legal. Just over a quarter, including most Republicans, says the president acted properly. Another four in 10, including most Democrats, feel he has acted illegally.

Despite the fact that a solid majority of Republicans believe President Trump’s pressuring of Ukraine to investigate Biden’s son were proper–or at least not impeachment-level offenses–the rapid shift in overall public opinion toward support for impeachment in only ten days underscores the straightforwardness of the case against Trump this time, compared to so many other scandals in Trump’s three years in office that arguably would have consumed less politically traumatic presidencies.

This rapid deterioration in Trump’s political outlook in the last ten days must be viewed in the context of the continuous rain of scandal that even preceded Trump’s election, with many Republicans like Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado abandoning Trump in October of 2016 over the Access Hollywood rapey-tape–only to come crawling back after Trump’s unexpected minority-vote Electoral College victory. From the beginning of Trump’s presidency, fears that he would be in continuous violation of the constitutional Emoluments Clause as his properties raked in cash from foreign sources of influence have been proven right beyond the worst imaginations of his critics, and a lawsuit led by 200 Democrats in Congress is moving forward while Trump’s GOP defenders dismiss the suit as “presidential harassment.”

But as a freshman Senator trying to carve out a permanent place for himself in America’s
“august body” by serving on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, arguably no Senator up for re-election in 2020 has been derailed by Trump’s chaos presidency more than Sen. Cory Gardner. In three short years, Trump has made a joke of basically every foreign policy priority Gardner has laid claim to in office–and Gardner was been unwilling or unable to challenge Trump over any of it. Gardner calls for “maximum pressure” on North Korea, Trump gives Kim Jong Un concession-free binational summits. In a conversation hidden away on the same highly classified server as the conversation with the president of Ukraine, Trump reportedly told the Russians he “didn’t mind” their help winning the 2016 elections. But last April when the Mueller report came out, Gardner was determined to defend Trump at all costs:

“Look, it’s clear there were no merit badges earned at the White House for behavior,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) [Pols emphasis] in an interview downtown here. “You have to focus on the heart of this conclusion, which is there is no collusion, no cooperation. That’s where the focus ought to be and how we prepare for the next elections to protect us from Russian intrusion and interference.”

At this point, if Cory Gardner ever wants to claim he cares about protecting America “from Russian intrusion and interference” again, he has to take back three years of covering for Trump while pretending to show concern about Russian influence on American elections. It’s not possible without straining the bounds of credulity past their breaking point. With the current crisis over Ukraine, Gardner is even more exposed now as a politician who has regularly paid lip service to defending Ukrainian interests. How can Gardner possibly reconcile his support for Ukraine with Trump using hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Ukraine as a bargaining chip for personal political gain?

The answer is simple: Gardner can’t. Gardner’s credibility with all but Trump’s most blindly loyal defenders is hopelessly shot, and the Trump loyalists are already wary of Gardner’s doublespeak. And if Gardner tries to jettison Trump now to save his skin, he’ll alienate the Republican base and seal his political doom.

All of the credibility expended by Gardner in covering for Trump and his innumerable misdeeds, from “petty” offenses like targeting women of color in Congress for openly racist vilification to by-the-book high crimes and misdemeanors, has robbed him of the trustworthiness he needs now that this worst-yet and easily understood crisis of leadership has manifested. This is a moment that for three years, Democrats have eagerly anticipated and Republicans have dreaded.

If it was our job to plot a way out of this for Cory Gardner, we’d resign.


Let’s Not Pretend Republicans Care About Public Opinion Now

FRIDAY UPDATE: The Washington Post reports on the Trump administration’s anti-impeachment strategy, which includes a pretty significant hole:

Trump’s advisers said they envision a “split screen” strategy in the coming weeks. The president is considering stepping up his fall schedule of campaign rallies at arenas across the country to galvanize his supporters outside of Washington and portray House Democrats as liberal insiders who are focused on impeachment instead of governing. [Pols emphasis]

If the House is skirting its governing responsibilities to focus on impeachment, then what is the Senate’s excuse? Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell and friends haven’t been governing for most of 2019.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner yuck it up on the Senate floor.

Senate Republicans are responding to questions about President Trump’s Ukraine scandal — and associated impeachment proceedings — with what you might call “skeptical irritation.” Trump defenders have tried to brush aside questions of impropriety while simultaneously putting on a show about how the Senate should be focused on policy work instead of political squabbles — a particularly absurd position to take considering the fact that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has famously refused to even allow discussions on dozens of pieces of legislation passed by the House of Representatives (McConnell refers to himself as the “Grim Reaper” for progressive policies).

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is taking a typical mealy-mouthed approach in response to mounting questions about the Trump administration, but he has largely settled on the idea that the Senate should be focused on other issues. Gardner was initially noncommittal about his reaction to reports of a whistleblower report, as Politico reported on Tuesday:

Gardner said Trump’s conversations with the president of Ukraine about Joe Biden and his family as well as a whistleblower complaint about the president’s conversations with a world leader are a “serious issue.” Asked if he still supported Trump’s reelection, Gardner declined to address the question: “Let’s find out what’s happening. Let’s get to the bottom of this.” 

“I’m not going to get in front of the facts that I simply don’t have right now,” he added. [Pols emphasis]

Later on Tuesday, Gardner issued a statement calling impeachment a step too far:

Today the Senate unanimously voiced its support for the full release of the whistleblower report and the Senate Intelligence Committee will be conducting a formal inquiry, which I support. Starting an impeachment inquiry to appease the far-left is something the majority of Americans do not support and will sharply divide the country. [Pols emphasis] Instead, we should focus our efforts on finding real, bipartisan solutions to lower health care costs, solve our broken immigration system, and protect our public lands.

If this statement doesn’t raise your blood pressure a bit, then you really haven’t been paying much attention to Congress in the last year. Gardner is saying that Congress should not pursue impeachment proceedings against President Trump because it does not align with public opinion in the United States. Available public polling has generally shown a lack of support for the idea of impeachment, but those numbers are changing as more information comes out about Trump’s Ukrainian shakedown (the latest numbers indicate that voters are split on the topic, which is an increase in support from recent months). Regardless, it is absolutely absurd for any Republican Senator to attempt to paint impeachment as folly because of public opinion polls.

The chart below shows just how much Senate Republicans care about public opinion:

On Wednesday, Sen. Gardner voted for the second time this year to support Trump’s “emergency declaration” for border wall funding, even though only 39% of Americans agree with the idea. Gardner cast this vote the day after issuing a statement opposing impeachment because of a lack of public support.

Senate Republicans who support President Trump are free to oppose the idea of impeachment, but they don’t get to hide behind “public opinion” as a rationale.


Same Vote, Different Day

Right behind you, Mr. President!

As Roll Call reports, the Senate today voted once again to reject President Trump’s “emergency declaration” for border wall money, though it is a largely symbolic move since there aren’t enough votes in the Senate to override a promised Presidential veto:

Eleven Republicans joined 43 Democrats in support of ending the emergency declaration, which allowed the administration to repurpose $3.6 billion in funds appropriated for military construction projects. That money has been diverted to border wall construction…

…Both chambers previously voted to end the Feb. 15 emergency declaration, but without sufficient majorities to override Trump’s veto, which immediately followed the Senate’s passage in March. By law, Congress has the ability to reconsider ending national emergencies every six months, which enabled Wednesday’s vote.

The resolution passed with the support of 11 Republican Senators — none of who are named Cory Gardner. For the second time this year, Sen. Gardner voted in support of President Trump’s emergency declaration for stealing money from other projects, and he’s not done yet:

Senator Gardner will apparently also support the backfill of money stolen from shovel-ready military projects, putting the proverbial cherry on the top of a pretty amazing policy waffle; you may recall that Gardner claimed he was opposed to building a border wall until literally hours before Trump made his “emergency declaration,” and now he’s ready to endorse a giant check for that exact purpose. As the Denver Post wrote earlier this month:

“It’s unfortunate Gardner can’t defend Colorado and the U.S. Constitution at the same time, or even one at a time, or just one or the other.”

Gardner voted “NO” on a similar resolution of opposition back in March, which led directly to the Denver Post’s stunning un-endorsement of the Yuma Republican. When news of this second vote on Trump’s declaration was breaking a few weeks ago, Gardner again pretended that he was undecided, which was transparently silly. In a pitch-perfect response to Gardner’s second vote, ProgressNow Colorado sent out a statement that was basically a cut-and-paste from their reaction last March:

Two can play that game.


As Democratic Party Chair Morgan Carroll said in a statement after the vote: “Senator Cory Gardner had a very clear choice with today’s vote: double down on his support for Trump’s unconstitutional power grab, or prevent Peterson Air Force Base from losing $8 million in funding. Gardner chose Trump over doing what’s right for Colorado.”

Senator Cory Gardner may hail from Colorado, but he’s always going to choose Trump over his home state.


Reminder: Health Care Still An Issue, And Cory Gardner Lied

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

As the Colorado Sun’s John Ingold reports, new statistics from the Colorado Health Institute show the enduring value of the much-maligned Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. “Obamacare,” which has dramatically expanded access to health coverage in our state since passage in 2010:

Bucking the national trend, the rate of people without health insurance in Colorado has held steady this year, according to a major new study released Wednesday.

The every-other-year Colorado Health Access Survey found that a record-low 6.5% of Coloradans are without health coverage, identical to the survey’s 2017 finding and down from the 15.8% of people without insurance in 2011. [Pols emphasis]

That will bring a big sigh of relief from health care advocates in Colorado, who had worried that the state might be following the national trend toward higher uninsured rates after the Trump administration and congressional Republicans weakened key pieces of the Affordable Care Act. Earlier this month, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that the number of people without health insurance in America had risen for the first time in a decade.

The latest report from the Colorado Health Access Survey is not all good news: in some segments of the population the rate of uninsured has actually increased since 2017, and many Coloradans still report financial trouble covering their medical expenses even after their coverage pays in. Republican undermining of the Affordable Care Act is undeniably taking its toll nationally and locally. But there is no question that the expansion of health coverage via the Affordable Care Act, both through Medicaid and the state’s health coverage marketplace, has greatly expanded access to care, and slashed the number of Coloradans without coverage to historic lows.

The drop in the rate of uninsured Coloradans from nearly 16% in 2011 to 6.5% today also disproves once again one of the biggest political lies of the 2010s in all of Colorado politics–Sen. Cory Gardner’s false contention over the course of years that “hundreds of thousands of Coloradans had their health insurance canceled” by the Affordable Care Act. Gardner claimed for years that some 300,000 or more Coloradans had “lost their coverage” after the ACA’s mandated changes to insurance plans took effect. The truth, as the law’s defenders and annoyed fact-checkers have tried to correct Gardner with at every step, is that plans were simply updated to reflect the coverage requirements of the new law.

Hundreds of thousands of Coloradans did not “lose coverage.” In reality, hundreds of thousands gained coverage, and the historic drop in the number of uninsured in the state persisting to the present day proves indisputably that Gardner was lying the whole time. On the other hand, Gardner’s literally dozens of votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act would have had exactly the effect he falsely warned of–losing coverage and not getting it back.

After Republican efforts to repeal “and replace” the ACA fell apart in 2017, the issue has been on the back burner excepting occasional courtroom flare-ups that service mostly to remind voters who benefit from the ACA who is on their side. Republicans have no desire to revisit health care legislatively before the 2020 elections, least of all America’s Most Vulnerable Senator™.

For the rest of us, “Obamacare” still plugging along helping Coloradans is an occasion to celebrate loudly.


UkraineGate: Cory Gardner Still Can’t Say Trump’s Name

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

This morning, Sen. Cory Gardner appeared on the obscure Ross Kaminsky Show on Denver’s AM 630 KHOW radio–the latest case of Gardner avoiding mainstream media outlets and reporters in order to be “accessible” to the tiny sliver of diehard conservatives who tune into the lesser AM talk radio channels from 5-10:00AM.

To Kaminsky’s credit, however, he did ask Sen. Gardner about the budding scandal over President Donald Trump’s alleged abuse of presidential power to pressure Ukraine into re-investigating the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, and received what we believe are Gardner’s first public comments since the story broke in the middle of last week.

Predictably, though, Kaminsky got answers from Gardner that won’t satisfy anyone. Hot from transcription:

KAMINSKY: I do want to ask you about this whole, quote/unquote, “whistleblower” thing going on, because this is leading the news everywhere. In my mind, it’s a special kind of bone-headedness, for a guy who’s just been through three years of what Trump went through, being accused of, quote/unquote, “collusion” with an Eastern European government, to then go ask an Eastern European leader to do something that involves our election. But I think, really, the big question that this might — kind of the linchpin, here, is whether there was some kind of direct quid pro quo regarding money or military aid.

GARDNER: Well, I think what has to happen is, step back from the politicization of this — [the politicization] that you’ve already seen rampant on the headlines. And get the information. I think that is simply what we have to do, follow the process of the Intel Committee which is in an effort right now to get the information, to hold a hearing, and to have a briefing. And I think that’s the kind of thing that we need to do — to get the information — because this is serious, and that’s why it should be taken seriously, and not just in the context of an election.

KAMINSKY: I mean, how serious is it, in your mind?

GARDNER: Well, we have to get the information. [Pols emphasis] I mean, there have been miscellaneous reports about whether the whistleblower was actually on the call, or in the call, or whether he was — whether he or she was receiving this information through a read-out which many, many other people got. So, I’m not going to speculate. But what I do think we need to do is follow the law, follow the process, and make sure that we get the information.

What we have here is textbook “Con Man Cory” evasion, notable mostly for its insulting lack of candor while still managing to employ a large number of generally grammatical words. Gardner waited until an appearance on a conservative radio show to address this growing controversy, but his non-answers won’t make conservatives any happier than liberals. Gardner says he’s not going to “speculate” about the seriousness of the situation, one literal sentence after speculating about whether the situation is all that serious! And of course we mustn’t “politicize” the allegations, even though the entire story is about Trump taking improper actions (wait for it) against a political opponent.

Given Gardner’s long record of advocating for Ukraine’s interests as they try to preserve their independence under the constant threat of Russian domination, Gardner’s lack of concern over Trump essentially turning American aid to Ukraine into a personal political bargaining chip looks especially bad. But it’s Gardner’s willingness to “speculate” about the motives of everyone except Donald Trump that has wrecked his credibility ahead of his re-election campaign, in a state whose voters are motivated to punish Trump’s party and brand for a third consecutive cycle.

It was yet another chance for Gardner to change course. And it’s another chance blown.


Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 24)

Today is National Voter Registration Day; please celebrate responsibly. Now, 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/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.


President Trump’s latest scandal, involving withholding military aid to Ukraine in exchange for that country potentially investigating one of Trump’s political opponents, looks to have tipped the scales on impeachment proceedings. From the New York Times:

House Democrats hurtled on Tuesday toward a consequential set of decisions about the potential impeachment of President Trump, weighing a course that could reshape his presidency amid startling allegations that he sought to enlist a foreign power to aid him politically.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, who has stubbornly resisted a rush to impeachment, appeared to be rapidly changing course, as lawmakers from every corner of her caucus lined up in favor of filing formal charges against Mr. Trump if the allegations are proven true, or if his administration continues to stonewall attempts by Congress to investigate them.

“We will be making announcements later,” she told reporters in the Capitol, declining to discuss her views on impeachment.

One possibility was the formation of a special committee — reminiscent of the one created in 1973 to investigate the Watergate scandal — to look into the president’s dealings with Ukraine and potentially lay the groundwork for articles of impeachment based on the findings.

Colorado Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is among seven freshman Democrats who penned an Op-Ed for the Washington Post making the case for proceeding with impeachment proceedings.

President Trump today confirmed that he made a decision to withhold military aid from Ukraine, though he claims it is totally unrelated to his requests to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.


 If you’re waiting for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) to weigh in on President Trump’s Ukraine scandal…well, you might want to get comfortable.


 Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser is supporting an effort to require federal background checks for ammunition purchases.


► Make sure to check out the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast. Hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin have Ukraine on the Membrane!


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


The Get More Smarter Podcast: Episode 10

Ukraine in the Membrane! Today on The Get More Smarter Podcast, we talk Ukraine and impeachment (1:08), Cory Gardner prepares to explain himself (8:50), the BLM will share an office building with the real decision-makers—oil and gas companies (14:39), climate change gets more popular (18:38), and is the Democratic nomination for president a two-candidate race (23:50)? Host Jason Bane is once again joined by Alan Franklin filling in for Progress Now Colorado bossman Ian Silverii.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is also available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. Thanks for listening!


A Few Words About NRSC Reverse Psychology

A press release from those clever kids at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC):

Tomorrow, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is launching a mobile billboard and Facebook video ad around the University of Colorado Boulder campus featuring Democratic Senate primary candidate Andrew Romanoff and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) as “one and the same.”

“From the Green New Deal to Medicare for All to stricter gun control, Andrew Romanoff and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez are one and the same,” said NRSC spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez. “Colorado deserves an independent, bipartisan voice, not someone who is just going to be a vote for ‘The Squad’s’ radical far-left agenda.”

If you look at the mobile billboard the NRSC deployed to the streets of Boulder during this weekend’s fundraiser for Boulder County Democrats starring Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, you should be able to notice something right away: in Boulder, this isn’t a negative billboard. It’s more of a backhanded love letter.

For some months now, the NRSC has been rolling out ads ostensibly targeting minor Democratic primary candidates with the real intent of boosting their profile versus much better-known contenders. In the same vein, this billboard from the NRSC is obviously intended to boost Andrew Romanoff in his underdog primary bid against Gov. John Hickenlooper–who outpolls Romanoff on the order of 60% to single digits, and is the endorsed candidate of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC).

We of course know there are residual hard feelings among certain Democrats over Hickenlooper’s late-ish entry into the U.S. Senate race, and that the simple arithmetic underscoring Hickenlooper’s strength against Sen. Cory Gardner compared to the rest of the Democratic primary field is not a popular discussion subject in some circles. Democrats will pick their nominee. Republicans want to pick their opponent.

And everyone is looking at the same arithmetic.

Sometimes, and this is one of those times, the messenger says more than the message.