Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 12)

The Glorious Twelfth! 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.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that he has selected California Sen. Kamala Harris to be his running mate. As The Washington Post reports, Republicans are a bit confused about how to attack Harris:

At 4:45 p.m., Trump campaign aide Brad Parscale tweeted that the pick meant that the “Bernie Bros get burned,” pointing to a story about liberal resistance to her candidacy.

Around exactly the same time, though, Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said something quite different. “Kamala Harris’ extreme positions … show that the left-wing mob is controlling Biden’s candidacy, just like they would control him as president,” McDaniel said in a statement.

But by late that evening, the RNC was back to making a very different case. “Liberals revolt against Biden, Harris ticket,” an RNC news release said. It pointed to Bernie Sanders supporters and others who attacked Harris as insufficiently progressive. “Even if Joe Biden’s campaign handlers gave their base the same notes they gave Biden for his video chat with Kamala D. Harris, it’s highly unlikely the left’s reception of Kamala would have gone any better,” it said. “Talk about embarrassing.”

Trump backers’ response to Harris’s selection has been somewhat dizzying. They have mostly painted her as the kind of radical that McDaniel did, even labeling her a socialist. But as with the man whose ticket Harris is joining, they have offered mixed messages by also suggesting she is a disappointment to Sanders supporters and even a tool of Wall Street.

As Annie Linskey and Vanessa Williams write in a separate story for The Washington Post, the selection of Harris was an emotional moment for many Black women in America. POLITICO takes a look at the history of selecting female running mates and why 2020 might turn out different than in the past:

Female vice presidential candidates appeared on major party tickets in 1984 and 2008, and in 2016, a woman headed the ticket. Each time, headlines heralded the historic choice; each time, for any number of reasons, the ticket lost. Those races also gave us a window into how women running for executive office are treated in the U.S.: The candidates were more likely than men to be questioned about their spouses; their attire and looks often became a part of the story; they had to make extra effort to show they were “tough” enough to serve.

Now that Senator Kamala Harris has become the third female VP candidate on a major-party ticket in history, POLITICO Magazine asked some smart female political observers to tell us: How will things be different for this VP choice, for this woman, and for this race? Or has nothing changed at all?

 

There were several interesting Primary outcomes in a couple of states on Tuesday, but the biggest story is in Georgia. As POLITICO explains:

Marjorie Taylor Greene has won the GOP nomination for a deep red congressional seat in Georgia despite widespread condemnation from party leaders over her videos where she expressed racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic views.

Greene, who is also a believer in the QAnon conspiracy theory, defeated neurosurgeon John Cowan in a primary runoff election on Tuesday for the deep-red Northwest Georgia district, where the GOP nomination is tantamount to a seat in the House.

A businesswoman who self-funded much of her campaign, Greene won the first round of the primary by a 19-point margin. But a week after, GOP leaders including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), who chairs the House Republican campaign arm, took the rare step of disavowing her candidacy after POLITICO uncovered hours of videos where she demeans blacks, Muslims and Jews.

Greene, who has said that Black people are slaves to the Democratic Party, has been likened to longtime Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who lost his own GOP Primary race this year in part because of his racist past (President Trump naturally Tweeted a congratulatory message, calling Greene “a future star.”) Greene also embraces QAnon conspiracies, which will bring more attention to Colorado’s own conspiracist Congressional candidate, Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert. This whole mess should be a concern for all Republicans, writes Chris Cillizza of CNN.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar held off a well-funded Primary challenger in Minnesota. For a look at other notable outcomes, check this page from The New York Times.

 

The New York Times looks at a school re-opening in Georgia, where the early COVID-19 results are not good:

Altogether, more than 900 students and staff members in the district have already been ordered to quarantine. On Tuesday, one high school closed its doors until at least Aug. 31.

While many of the nation’s largest school systems have opted in recent weeks to start the academic year online, other districts have forged ahead with reopening. In Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Indiana and elsewhere, some schools, mainly in suburban and rural areas, have been open for almost two weeks.

Their experience reveals the perils of returning to classrooms in places where the coronavirus has hardly been tamed. Students and teachers have immediately tested positive, sending others into two-week quarantines and creating whiplash for schools that were eager to open, only to consider closing again right away.

CNN has more on the problems in Georgia following its effort to reopen schools.

 

 There’s still no news on progress regarding a potential stimulus bill. The House of Representatives passed a $3 trillion measure in May, but Senate Republicans haven’t been able to even come up with a plausible bill of their own. As CNN reports:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol Wednesday that she doesn’t want stalled negotiations for another round of coronavirus relief to drag until the end of September, when government funds are set to expire.

“I hope not. People will die,” she said…

…Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, blamed Democrats for the stalled talks.

This is the part where we remind you, again, that McConnell ISN’T EVEN IN THE ROOM FOR NEGOTIATIONS ANYMORE. The Senate is the only Congressional chamber that has not moved forward on another relief bill; the Senate is controlled by Republicans.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, the loss of extended unemployment benefits is about to hit Colorado HARD:

An emergency federal program had been paying $600 a week to unemployed people, but it expired late last month. With the change, state economists expect that Coloradans will reduce their purchases by 6 percent —  which could knock $20 million a month from the state’s tax revenues, state budget director Lauren Larson told top state lawmakers at a meeting on Tuesday.

“We’re very concerned that we need Congress to act and act quickly,” Larson said.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Cory Gardner’s JBS Testing Fiasco Isn’t Going Away

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

As the Denver Post’s Shelly Bradbury reports:

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet on Monday called for an investigation into the federal government’s response to the spread of the novel coronavirus in meatpacking plants across the country.

In a Monday letter to the inspector generals at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Labor, Bennet asks the agencies to investigate whether the outbreaks — like one at the JBS USA Greeley beef plant where nearly 300 people were sickened and six died — were made worse by federal actions…

Nationwide, at least 16,200 workers in meat and poultry processing plants in 23 states contracted the novel coronavirus by the end of May, and 86 died, according to a July report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Colorado, at least seven meat processing plants have reported outbreaks infecting about 450 workers. The outbreak at the JBS Greeley beef plant is one of the largest in the state.

The COVID-19 outbreak at the JBS beef packing plant in Greeley that killed 6 and sickened hundreds of workers in April was a major failed test of the Trump administration’s pandemic crisis management, as it became obvious that the virus would not simply “go away” as President Donald Trump had predicted. While plant workers in unsafe conditions feared becoming infected, Trump was worried that the supply of meat could be interrupted. Trump eventually invoked the Defense Production Act to declare meat plants essential infrastructure that could not close–but before that, Sen. Cory Gardner and Vice President Mike Pence made promises to rigorously test JBS plant workers in Greeley and keep the meat flowing.

In a blistering press release yesterday, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 asks the question they’ve been asking since April: “Cory, where are the tests?”

Since April, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner has continued to brag to the media that he secured 5,000 COVID-19 tests for meat-processing plant workers at JBS Greeley in Greeley, Colorado. The problem? The tests were never made available to workers. The JBS Greeley plant became one of the first outbreak sites in Colorado and continues to lead the nation in meatprocessing plant worker deaths. Now, JBS USA has notified the Union it will increase JBS workers health care premiums by more than 30 percent—as much as $800 more a year per family member.

UFCW Local 7 is calling on Sen. Cory Gardner to explain where the 5,000 tests have gone after specifically claiming he leveraged his relationship with Vice President Mike Pence to acquire them in order to keep the plant running.

At this point it’s more a question of accountability, since eventually the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment stepped in to test JBS workers. With that said, with COVID-19 testing (not to mention timely results) still in short supply, we suspect the promise Gardner made to JBS workers for 5,000 tests would nonetheless be gladly accepted, and useful since testing negative once doesn’t mean anyone is safe.

The unfortunate reality is that among a veritable ocean of broken promises from Trump and Republicans during the nation’s historic failure to effectively confront the COVID-19 emergency, a few dead meatpacking workers in Greeley are easy to forget about. Far more Americans, either consciously or not, cared about the free flow of meat at market prices than the frequently immigrant and otherwise disadvantaged populations who find work in American meatpacking plants.

But the fact remains: these workers got screwed, and Cory Gardner played a central role in screwing them. The promises made to Greeley JBS meatpacking workers weren’t about helping those workers at all, but rather assuring the American consumer. And as soon as Trump declared the meatpacking industry “essential infrastructure,” forcing the plants to stay open, Cory Gardner stopped caring about the workers.

And that should trouble meat-eaters’ conscience at least as much as an extra portion.

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Club 20 Lashes Out Like Jilted Lover

We are SO over…unless you want to try again.

It’s been almost two weeks since the campaign for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper made it clear that it would not be participating in the annual “Club 20” debate on the Western Slope of Colorado. Club 20 is apparently having trouble moving on.

On Monday, Club 20 did the political equivalent of posting a sad breakup video to its Instagram page. Six whole people — all of whom are Republicans — from the Western Slope political/business/civic group stood on the steps of a courthouse building in Grand Junction to lament that Hickenlooper was no longer returning any of their calls or text messages.

As Joey Bunch reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman:

Western Slope business and community leaders reminded former Gov. John Hickenlooper of his work to bridge the rural-urban divide Monday as they urged him to reconsider his decision to snub the Club 20 debate in Grand Junction next month.

The executive director of the business and civic coalition, Christian Reece, said organizers were “astonished” that he would bypass the Western Slope event that traditionally signals the homestretch of campaign season. Moreover, the event is online this year, Sept. 18-19.

Club 20 officials noted they have gone to “great lengths” to accommodate health concerns around the COVID-19 outbreak by moving the political debates online and offering them free through streaming produced by Colorado Mesa University.

Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush (left) and Republican Rep. Scott Tipton debate issues at the 2018 Club 20 forum underneath a gigantic Chevron banner.

That’s very nice that Club 20 has gone to “great lengths” to accommodate COVID-19 health concerns, but this is sort of like responding to your spouse’s complaints about your behavior by getting a haircut. As we wrote last month, Club 20 marginalized itself by always using a stick and never a carrot in its political dealings with Democrats, and over the years its annual election year gathering became more of a gripe session for oil and gas interests than anything else. In 2018, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis became the first major statewide candidate to skip the Club 20 debate; despite predictions of electoral doom from Club 20 supporters, Polis went on to win the race for Governor by 11 points. Polis even did pretty well in Western Colorado.

As Eric Washburn, a fifth-generation Coloradan who lives in Steamboat Springs, told Joey Bunch in an interview:

“I don’t think this reflects an animosity toward Club 20,” he said. “It’s a sense that Democratic politicians have that they certainly want to plug in to the West Slope and attract West Slope voters.

“I don’t think they’re convinced Club 20 is the way to do that.” [Pols emphasis]

Club 20 is trying hard to convince folks that dissing its membership is the same thing as ignoring the Western Slope, but it’s not working. Club 20 doesn’t represent the Western Slope any more than your dog represents all canines in Colorado, so perhaps they should look inward instead. Alas, self-reflection is not a strength for this group. Club 20 is still in that post-breakup stage of blaming all of its problems on the other person (or party, in this case).

 

 

As Charles Ashby reports today for the Grand Junction Daily-Sentinel, this breakup with Club 20 was a long time coming:

…state Sen. Kerry Donovan, a Vail Democrat whose district includes Delta County, said it’s because Club 20 isn’t what it used to be.

The group that touts itself as the “Voice of the Western Slope” has increasingly become less of a general voice for people on this side of the Continental Divide, and more concerned about conservative ideals, including not addressing such things as climate change, she said…

…Rick Ridder, a Denver-based political consultant who solely works for Democrats but isn’t on anyone’s payroll at the moment, said not only has the group’s debates become one-sided to favor Republicans, but the group itself no longer seems to speak for the Western Slope.

“Democrats have increasingly shied away because it’s become a gotcha forum, and the issues that are directed are not the ones that they’re hearing on the streets of the growing areas of the Western Slope,” said Ridder, who has attended Club 20 events for more than 30 years. “It’s a very different environment now. There are very different agendas from a political standpoint from the old Club 20. It’s become a little bit of a hostile environment when those who seek questions on their issues are not necessarily reflective of the issues that candidates are hearing in other situations.” [Pols emphasis]

Hickenlooper’s 2020 opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Cory Gardner, is trying to make it look like he is the true debate warrior and that Hickenlooper is ducking him…which conveniently ignores the fact that Gardner has thus far only agreed to attend one debate at the same time and location as Hickenlooper (in Pueblo in October).

As for Club 20, they can make an effort to be more inclusive and see where that leads them in the future…or they can just keep writing mean things in all capital letters in their diary. The latter may make them feel better, but it’s not going to change anything.

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Senate Republicans Fail Americans (Again, and Again…)

Senate Majority “Leader” Mitch McConnell

For the third consecutive week, we have a Friday story with the same headline…because it’s the same story.

The U.S. Senate has left town — again — despite not coming anywhere close to figuring out a plausible path forward on a new coronavirus relief/stimulus bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Thursday that the Senate would recess for the time being — though not for its previously-scheduled August recess — and told CNBC that he believed that there would be a deal “at some point in the near future.” McConnell said this despite the fact that he’s not even involved in the discussions anymore; he continues to blame Democrats for the fact that a Republican-controlled Senate can’t come up with a relief package, even though the House of Representatives passed one in May.

In the meantime, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin are still negotiating a legislative proposal with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. As POLITICO reports:

At a news conference Friday, Pelosi and Schumer said that Democrats offered to reduce their ask by $1 trillion if the White House went up $1 trillion, only to have the administration reject it. They added that any deal below $2 trillion would not get Democratic support.

“We are trying to compromise,” Schumer said. “Basically what’s happening is Mr. Meadows is from the Tea Party, you have 20 Republicans in the Senate greatly influenced by them and they don’t want to spend the necessary dollars to help get America out of this mess.”

In a series of closed-door meetings over the last two weeks, Mnuchin, Meadows, Schumer and Pelosi have made progress on narrowing their differences on unemployment insurance but remain far apart on state and local aid, election security funding and help for renters, among a host of other issues.

“The situation has also left Senate Republicans up for re-election…with the unappealing prospect of facing voters in less than three months without having acted to address their most pressing economic and public health needs.”

   — The New York Times (8/5/20)

Earlier this week, Carl Hulse of The New York Times tried to explain how it is that McConnell and Senate Republicans have punted on the only issue that really matters to most Americans right now:

Mr. McConnell has only himself to thank for his predicament.

While Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed through a sweeping, $3 trillion recovery measure in May and Democrats demanded for months that Republicans join them in mapping out a next phase of federal pandemic relief, Mr. McConnell instead hit the pause button, which he and his fellow Republicans said was necessary to assess how the nearly $3 trillion in aid already approved was working…

…But the delay meant that Republicans did not even present their aid proposals until days before expanded unemployment benefits that were cushioning millions of Americans from the worst of the recession were to expire. They lapsed last week with no ready replacement, and a small-business program considered crucial to preventing a total economic collapse is set to expire on Friday, leading Democrats to accuse Mr. McConnell of acting irresponsibly.

“He’s not even sitting in the room,” Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, said on Tuesday, suggesting that Mr. McConnell was unaware of the substance of the talks. [Pols emphasis]

This is bad news for all Americans. Politically-speaking, it’s also terrible for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). According to a new Public Policy Poll released this week, the majority of Coloradans surveyed believe that Congress should either renew or increase the $600 extended unemployment (UI) benefit; additionally, 36% of respondents said they would look at Gardner “much less favorably” if he voted against a proposal to extend the extended benefits. Gardner is surely aware of this predicament, which is why he doesn’t say much of anything publicly but makes sure that his Senate office continues to convey the idea that he is all things to all people.

Will we be writing this same story again one week from today? We sure hope not…but we can’t pretend to have any confidence otherwise.

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Everything To Everyone: Gardner Even Makes Socialists Happy

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Last week, we took note of Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado’s comments on a local conservative podcast, in defense of the HEALS Act proposal from Senate Republicans which would have slashed the extended unemployment benefits 330,000 Coloradans are currently receiving by two thirds, from $600 to $200 per week. Recapping what Gardner told local Republican waterboy Jimmy Sengenberger so there’s no confusion:

GARDNER: Yeah, I think both Republicans and Democrats alike want to make sure that we’re helping people in need, uh, but not creating an unfair competition between the government and the private sector… [Pols emphasis] [t]he people who don’t have a job right now, they want to work but let’s not make sure, let’s make sure we don’t put the government in the place of the private sector in terms of unfair competition.

This is the answer that Sengenberger was looking for, having prefaced Gardner’s response with his own flat-out assertion that the extended benefit is “a bit of a disincentive to work.” When Gardner says the government shouldn’t create “unfair competition” with private business, he’s talking about paychecks–and validating the reasoning behind the GOP’s proposal to slash the benefit.

But today, with Republicans in Washington is disarray and Democrats holding firm to their objectives as expressed in the $3.4 trillion HEROES Act which passed the U.S. House weeks ago, and even President Donald Trump on the nominal bandwagon for extending the full benefit, the Denver Democratic Socialists of America (DSA)–yup–Tweets video of Gardner’s office staff committing to support for the full $600 a week extension:

Although the irony of the Democratic Socialists of America leaving Gardner’s office happy is delicious to consider (Gardner’s Republican allies may disagree), nobody should be under any delusion that this statement represents a bonafide commitment by Gardner to stand up to his party leadership. Gardner is obviously sending different messages to different siloed communities as he pleases–and as long as the listeners of Jimmy Sengenberger’s podcast don’t overlap much with the followers of the DSA’s Twitter feed, nobody is the wiser. Once you are aware of what he’s saying to these different audiences, however, Gardner has a serious credibility problem.

All that will matter in the end is what Mitch McConnell and Trump tell Cory Gardner to do.

If you know that, you know all you need.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 6)

Happy Independence Day to our friends in Bolivia and Jamaica, respectively. Please celebrate responsibly. 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.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

The New York Attorney General has filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association (NRA) because of widespread fraud. As The Washington Post reports:

The chief executive of the National Rifle Association and several top lieutenants engaged in a decades-long pattern of fraud to raid the coffers of the powerful gun rights group for personal gain, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the New York attorney general, draining $64 million from the nonprofit in just three years.

In her lawsuit, Attorney General Letitia James called for the dissolution of the NRA and the removal of CEO Wayne LaPierre from the leadership post he has held for the past 39 years, saying he and others used the group’s funds to finance a luxury lifestyle.

She also asked a New York court to force LaPierre and three key deputies to repay NRA members for the ill-gotten funds and inflated salaries that her investigation found they took.

James accused the NRA leaders of flouting state and federal laws and signing off on reports and statements they knew were fraudulent, while diverting millions of dollars away from the NRA’s charitable mission to benefit themselves and their allies.

But wait…there’s more!

Meanwhile, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced Thursday that his office filed a separate lawsuit against the NRA Foundation, which is based in Washington. Racine accused the organization of being a puppet of the NRA, despite legal requirements that it independently pursue charitable purposes. Instead, Racine found, the foundation repeatedly loaned the NRA money to address its rising deficits.

The NRA will no doubt fight this lawsuit…with whatever money they have left:

 

For the third week in a row, Senate Republicans will likely be headed home — this time for a longer break — without making any progress on another coronavirus relief bill. As POLITICO reports:

The Senate will technically stay in session next week but will not hold any votes unless there is a breakthrough in coronavirus negotiations. That means senators — like their House counterparts — will be back home, waiting for word from the leadership whether a deal has been reached…

…The senators’ departure from Washington despite a tentative Friday deadline signals just how far apart Democrats and the White House remain on reaching an agreement. The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 157,000 Americans, while tens of millions more are unemployed. The Labor Department reported Thursday that 1.19 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week in state programs, a decline from previous weeks but still a sign that the economy is showing little sign of improving.

The report was the first since a federal $600 weekly unemployment benefit allocated in March’s $2 trillion CARES Act officially expired.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is still blaming Democrats for his chamber’s failure to come up with any sort of a relief plan…even though McConnell himself somehow isn’t even involved in the negotiations anymore.

For the “glass half full” types out there, a planned meeting on Thursday evening may break the deadlock somewhat.

 

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the State Republican Party Chairman (or vice-versa) is using the Colorado GOP mailing lists to sell copies of his new book. Drain the swamp, indeed.

 

 The Get More Smarter Podcast reached its 50th Episode this week. Tune in below:

 


More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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The GMS Podcast: Future Taiwanese Lobbyist Cory Gardner

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, we’re celebrating Episode #50!

Senate Republicans keep shouting “O’Doyle Rules!” as their car flies off the coronavirus cliff; we find our second favorite U.S. Senator boning up on his mandarin in preparation for his next job; QAnon makes it to the White House; we weigh the relative merits of a little spray paint against all of the horrible things visited upon this nation since 2016; and we interview yet another Jason Bane for our ongoing series, “The Jason Bane Focus Group,” marking the first time the podcast has gone INTERNATIONAL!

If you missed our last episode, click here to catch up or scroll through all of our past episodes at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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The Beginning of the End Has Arrived for Gardner

Peace Out!

As POLITICO reports, Senate Republicans are making a big spending commitment in five states in hopes of preserving their Senate Majority in 2020:

Republicans’ chief Senate super PAC is launching a new $21 million TV and radio ad buy in August across five races as the party continues to fight to protect its majority against massive Democratic spending.

Senate Leadership Fund, the outside group with ties to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will launch ads starting next week in Montana, Georgia, Iowa and North Carolina, and will also go up in Arizona later this month, according to details shared first with POLITICO. The August wave represents an earlier-than-expected launch for the super PAC, which had previously booked $90 million in ads set to run across the Senate map starting after Labor Day.

Eagle-eyed readers will note that Colorado is NOT included on that list of states getting big money support in order to save the Senate Majority — and they’re not even waiting for Labor Day to say goodbye.

Senate Republican spokespeople will no doubt insist that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner is definitely not being left behind as they focus on trying to hold GOP seats in Georgia and Montana, but the writing is on the wall now. Gardner’s poll numbers have been awful in Colorado, and we’re not a state that is going to be competitive in the Presidential race (unlike, for example, Arizona), so there’s no secondary rationale for spending money to prop up Gardner.

Outside groups are still spending money in Colorado on Gardner’s behalf, but we would expect those ad buys to be quietly altered as Labor Day approaches. We’ve said for awhile in this space that Republicans can only throw good money after bad in Colorado for so long before strategic realities force some tough decisions.

It would appear that the end is near here.

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Boebert Makes “So-Called Candidates,” Like Gardner, Look Awful to Boyles

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Lauren Boebert (R-ifle).

One funny side effect of congressional candidate Lauren Boebert’s rise to fame is that she makes other Republican Party candidates in Colorado look awful–at least in the eyes of conservative hardliners who must vote nonstop if Cory Gardner has a prayer to win in November.

Don’t take it from me. Hear it from the king of the bottom-feeding right-wingers himself: KNUS radio host Peter Boyles.

“This young woman brings the most excitement to the Republican party in the state of Colorado since I don’t know when,” said Boyles on air Monday.

But instead of turning this into a plus for the Republicans, Boyles contrasts Boebert with “so-called candidates” like…Cory Gardner!

“We’ve been through Bob Beauprez and Bruce Benson and the Coors brothers and, I mean, [Walker] Stapleton and this–Cory Gardner,” said Boyles. “You have infused more excitement, more speed, into the Republican party than any of those other so-called candidates.”

In other words, life would be great if only Gardner vanished, poof, and Colorado had Boebert all day every day, on every harvestable mail-in ballot in the state.

Boyles explained that no other worthless top Republican was in Denver last year, as Boebert was, carrying her gun and telling Beto O’Rourke “hell no” she wouldn’t give up her gun if his dangerous idea of a mandatory buyback of all assault weapons became law.

“I did that because I didn’t see anybody else doing it; I didn’t see anyone standing for freedom,” said Boebert on air, triggering Boyles.

“I didn’t see Cory Gardner standing there, or Mike Coffman, or Walker Stapleton, or any of the above–the establishment,” Boyles yelped.

“And you’re not a big woman–I’ll say tiny woman, but I don’t mean to offend anyone,” said Boyles, who says he’s “in love with” Boebert. “You’re not very tall.”

You may find that offensive but the Republicans who must go to the polls and vote for Gardner mostly don’t. It’s refreshing to them, harmless, and its message is clear.

Gardner, in Boyles own words, is a “weenie,” a weak, word-sloshing piece of political scrap, destined of course for a high-paying lobbying job with a reciprocal smile and a pat on the back, thank you very much.

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (August 5)

Happy “Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and the Day of Croatian Defenders” day. Please celebrate responsibly, or whatever. 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.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

Several states held Primary Elections on Tuesday, but perhaps the most significant outcome came in a Democratic-held congressional district in St. Louis, MO. From The Washington Post:

Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush lost by 20 points two years ago in her primary challenge against Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.). With higher turnout, despite the novel coronavirus, Bush beat Clay in a rematch on Tuesday by three points.Clay, the 64-year-old chairman of the House Financial Services housing subcommittee, has represented the St. Louis district for 20 years. His father, Bill Clay, held the seat for 32 years before him. He touted endorsements from high-profile establishment figures, especially Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)…

…Bush, 44, talked on the stump about her experiences getting evicted as a single mother of two and tear-gassed in the streets as a protester. She did not get involved in politics until 2014, after a Black teenager had been fatally shot by a White police officer in Ferguson. Bush has been a frequent presence at demonstrations that grew after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody on Memorial Day, and she pledged to keep taking to the streets if elected. During the campaign, she contracted covid-19 and spoke of that experience, as well.

POLITICO has more on some of the more notable results from Tuesday, including two big wins for Republicans in Kansas:

Democrats haven’t won a Senate race in Kansas in more than 80 years, but Kris Kobach as the GOP nominee threatened to make the state an improbable toss-up. Instead, Rep. Roger Marshall won the primary, giving the GOP a much more electable candidate to go up against a strong Democratic recruit.

In one of Kansas’ key congressional districts, indicted Rep. Steve Watkins was looking like a juicy target for House Democrats — but they won’t get the chance to run against him after state Treasurer Jake LaTurner ousted the freshman in a primary, boosting Republican chances of keeping the seat.

Watkins went down just weeks after being charged with voter fraud during the 2019 Topeka-area municipal elections.

Also notable from Tuesday: Missouri voters approved a Medicaid expansion proposal over the objection of Republican leaders.

 

You can count Democratic Senate candidate John Hickenlooper among the Coloradans frustrated at Senate Republicans and their inability to make any headway on another stimulus bill. As we wrote on Tuesday, multiple studies have shown that a $600 extended unemployment benefit that expired in July was absolutely not preventing Americans from seeking work.

As The Associated Press reports, Gov. Jared Polis is urging Congress to do think big on providing federal help to Americans:

Polis is urging Congress to go beyond simple renewal of earlier federal pandemic assistance and provide a more extensive package of aid to blunt the economic fallout of the coronavirus.

Polis, a Democrat, said he wants food stamp benefit increases, home heating and child care assistance, support to meet anticipated surges in Medicaid demand and an automatic extension of immigrant work visas for workers in health care and agriculture.

The requests, in a Tuesday letter to the state’s congressional delegation also signed by Democratic Treasurer Dave Young, also ask for more U.S. financial support for water projects, clean energy and public lands infrastructure — key initiatives of Polis’ administration.

Polis insisted Tuesday that the initiatives would be long-term job generators and said Congress should “use this opportunity to invest in resilient, climate-focused solutions as our communities recover” from the pandemic.

As CNN reports, discussions about another coronavirus stimulus bill seem to be at last moving forward in Congress. You’ll note that Senate Republicans are still nowhere near the negotiating table:

The Tuesday meeting between Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and the top White House negotiators, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, was by far the most productive of all the meetings up to this point, according to both sides.

Schumer said both sides made concessions and, most importantly, the talks had gone beyond identifying areas of disagreement or even topline points of overlap and have now moved to trading actual paper proposals between sides. It seems minor or just an obvious step in the process, but the trading of paper means things are getting real, finally.

 

Citing coronavirus concerns, former Vice President Joe Biden will NOT travel to Milwaukee, WI to accept the Democratic Presidential nomination later this month. Biden will instead deliver his acceptance speech from his home state of Delaware.

Meanwhile, President Trump’s re-election campaign is considering violating the Hatch Act a scenario whereby Trump accepts the Republican Presidential nomination with a speech from the South Lawn of the White House. As The Washington Post reports:

The South Lawn, which can be subject to intense heat and afternoon thunderstorms in late August, is one of several sites under consideration for the week of festivities, including the Trump International Hotel in D.C., which the president leases from the federal government, officials said. Any costs incurred by the government to host the events would be repaid, said the Republican, who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Several hundred Republican delegates plan to gather for a pared-down session of official meetings on Aug. 24 in Charlotte to nominate Trump. That will be followed by three more days of speeches and programming from undetermined sites, culminating in Trump’s acceptance speech on Aug. 27.

In a press briefing last month, Trump dodged a question about holding the acceptance speech in the White House.

Listeners of The Get More Smarter Podcast may recognize that we literally predicted this would happen in the latest episode:


More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Surprise! Republicans Have No Good Reason for Doing Nothing

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is here to help…but only about this much help.

Guess what? Senate Republicans have STILL not made any progress on renewing some form of extended unemployment insurance benefits for 20-25 million Americans who are out of work. Americans are desperate to pay rent and buy food for their families, but Senate Republicans still can’t get past the idea — which, as you’ll see, is based on no actual facts — that extended benefits were preventing people from getting jobs.

Let’s recap quickly: In May, the House of Representatives passed a massive coronavirus relief bill — dubbed the HEROES Act — that includes a renewal of extended unemployment (UE) benefits. That legislation has been taking up space on Senate Republican desks for months while they half-heartedly argue about whether or not to take significant action to boost an economy that is, by all accounts, in deep shit.

Two weeks ago, Senate Republicans had a lovely Louisiana-inspired lunch and then left town for a three-day weekend without doing anything about the soon-to-expire UE benefits. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised that they would return in a few days with an actual bill to discuss…which they did. But their proposed legislation was such a convoluted mess of unrelated crap that it was declared dead on arrival by pretty much everyone in Washington D.C.

Last Thursday, after flailing away for a few days, Senate Republicans AGAIN left town for a three-day weekend without doing anything to address what had been the last financial lifeline for millions of Americans. Senate Republicans were by now so disassociated from even contemplating this critical decision that journalists were left asking HOUSE SPEAKER Nancy Pelosi to provide them with an update. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer were left to continue negotiations with the White House Chief of Staff and the Treasury Secretary.

“We have to do things to ensure people’s safety and make them feel confident to go back out. Spend what you need to do it.”

— Doug Holtz-Eakin, a former economic adviser to George W. Bush and John McCain (7/30/20)

Extended unemployment benefits for more than 20 million Americans officially expired on Saturday, though for most of those affected, their final check arrived a week earlier. So, what’s the holdup on a new package? As Paul Waldman explains for The Washington Post:

Let’s be clear: The main holdup is that the White House and congressional Republicans can’t agree on what they’re seeking. They know they don’t want to be as generous as Democrats do, but beyond that, they seem all over the map. For their part, House Democrats passed their rescue bill back in May.

While there are a number of disagreements — how much help to give states, whether to give the Postal Service an infusion of cash — the biggest sticking point is the now-expired enhanced unemployment benefits, which were giving the 30 million or so Americans receiving benefits an extra $600 a week on top of payments from states.

Democrats want to revive and continue those enhanced benefits as long as the crisis lasts; Republicans are consumed with the idea that millions of lazy Americans might be sitting at home when they could be out working. So they’re playing around with various complex formulas (what if we replace 70 percent of people’s former incomes or give them $200 a week?) but can’t come up with a single position.

”[We] want to make sure that we’re helping people in need, uh, but not creating an unfair competition between the government and the private sector.”

— Sen. Cory Gardner (7/29/20)

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is among the Senate Republicans who are mindlessly repeating talking points about the idea that extended unemployment benefits might be causing a disincentive for unemployed Americans to find a new job. But why are Senate Republicans so convinced that extended unemployment benefits are preventing people from seeking jobs?

Let them drink champagne!

For no reason, apparently. As Waldman continues:

The truth is that multiple studies have now found that people are not refusing to work because their unemployment benefits are too generous. Not only that, but the added $600 benefit has boosted consumer spending, helped people pay for housing and otherwise kept the economy from getting even worse. [Pols emphasis]

Oh, reaaalllyyy??? For more on this development, you need to follow the link to this story from Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post. Rampell cites five recent studies (from big names such as Yale, the University of Illinois, the University of Chicago, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Pennsylvania, and even the Federal Reserve Bank of New York) that all — separately — found the same results:

Using a variety of government and private-industry data sets, they all concluded the same thing: The $600 federal supplement does not appear to have depressed job growth.

As the Yale economists summarized: “We find no evidence that high [unemployment insurance] replacement rates drove job losses or slowed rehiring.” [Pols emphasis]

Not only is there no evidence to support the idea that extended unemployment benefits are a disincentive to find work…there is also ample evidence that the extra $600 benefits were directly boosting the economy in general. In other words, it should be a no-brainer decision for Senate Republicans to immediately renew extended unemployment benefits.

So, what is Gardner thinking today? Nothing about this. As POLITICO reports:

“U.S. Senators Doug Jones of Alabama and Cory Gardner of Colorado … introduced the American Dream Down Payment Act of 2020. The bipartisan legislation would help prospective homeowners save for a traditional 20-percent down payment by creating special tax-advantaged savings accounts for eligible housing costs”

The New York Times spoke last week with a woman who has been unemployed since April and is absolutely terrified about what comes next for her family now that extended UE benefits have expired. But worry not! Senator Gardner has a plan to help her save money that she doesn’t have for a traditional 20-percent down payment on a new house she can’t possibly afford!

If Gardner were a medical doctor, he’d suggest removing some of your teeth in order to alleviate the pain from a sprained knee. But at least in that case, he’d only be harming one person instead of 25 million Americans.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 4)

Happy “Barack Obama Day.” Please celebrate responsibly. 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 on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

As The Denver Post reports, the number of new coronavirus cases in Colorado saw a recent drop after six weeks of increases:

The number of new coronavirus cases in Colorado dropped 18% last week, marking the first week-over-week decline since confirmed infections began increasing in the state a month-and-a-half ago.

The state health department recorded 3,243 new COVID-19 cases between July 27 and Sunday, down from 3,961 cases the prior week.

The drop in new cases comes after Colorado saw infections rise for six consecutive weeks following a long decline, as more residents left their homes while the state reopened, which can increase the chances of exposure to the novel coronavirus.

Colorado also is seeing a decline in hospitalizations and the rate at which COVID-19 tests come back positive. The former is an indicator of the severity of the pandemic, while the latter provides insight into the transmission of the disease within the community.

Patriots Wear Face Masks!” That’s the new line from President Trump, who had long been an outspoken opponent of mask-wearing.

 

► President Trump’s insistence on re-opening public schools is drawing opposition from his own advisers, as The Washington Post reports:

Deborah Birx was at a vacation home in Delaware when White House communications staffers called to say they needed to put her on the Sunday shows. Ever the good soldier, the coordinator of President Trump’s coronavirus task force appeared remotely on CNN’s “State of the Union.” Asked whether schools should fully reopen, Birx answered: “If you have high caseload and active community spread … we are asking people to distance learn at this moment, so we can get this epidemic under control.”

Administration officials say Birx has been arguing this privately, citing recent studies to make her case, but saying so publicly was one of the factors that put her crosswise with Trump. The president responded to the interview by calling her “pathetic!” in a tweet on Monday morning and continued his aggressive push to fully reopen schools during an afternoon news conference, disregarding warnings against doing so from a chorus of public health experts while ignoring mounting evidence that this could lead to potentially deadly outbreaks.

 

As Colorado Public Radio reports, the November ballot keeps growing in size:

Colorado voters will have many decisions to make in November, and not just about their elected officials. The state will also decide on topics ranging from abortion to voting and taxes. And with the deadline now passed for groups to turn in signatures to the Secretary of State’s office, the list of ballot measures could rise to an even dozen.

Five initiatives made it in by Monday’s deadline and will now have their petitions reviewed by state officials. Under Colorado law, a campaign needs at least 124,632 valid signatures for a measure to make the ballot.

Denver7 has more on the various measures that will be added to the ballot for 2020.

 

 Details are still emerging following a tremendous explosion in Beirut, Lebanon earlier today. As The Associated Press reports:

Massive explosions rocked downtown Beirut on Tuesday, flattening much of the port, damaging buildings and blowing out windows and doors as a giant mushroom cloud rose above the capital. Witnesses saw many people injured by flying glass and debris.

An Associated Press photographer near the port saw people lying injured on the ground, and hospitals called for blood donations, but exact casualties were not immediately known.

Miles from the scene of the blast, balconies were knocked down, ceiling collapsed and windows were shattered.

The cause of the blast was not immediately clear.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Trump Leaves Cory Gardner’s Backside In The Breeze


Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Last Wednesday, as the Republican coronavirus relief legislation faced overwhelming condemnation for being totally inadequate even as a starting point for negotiations with Democrats, GOP Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado appeared in the cozy confines of local conservative talking head Jimmy Sengenberger’s podcast to defend the GOP’s proposal to slash the expanded unemployment benefit 330,000 Coloradans are currently relying on to pay their bills:

SENGENBERGER: Senator Cory Garner, one of the questions that people have been discussing is the unemployment provision. The previous CARES Act had $600 a week that was given additional to the basic unemployment amount to people. Now the Republican proposal the HEALS Act is $200, Democrats are saying that’s not nearly enough. What’s your take on that? Because we have seen this show to be a bit of a disincentive to work. Some people saying that ah, I’m making more money on unemployment than going back to work.

GARDNER: Yeah, I think both Republicans and Democrats alike want to make sure that we’re helping people in need, uh, but not creating an unfair competition between the government and the private sector. [Pols emphasis] So, let’s continue to help those people in need it, let’s create jobs and help people get into the workforce without a disincentive–the people of Colorado want to work. The people who don’t have a job right now, they want to work but let’s not make sure, let’s make sure we don’t put the government in the place of the private sector in terms of unfair competition.

In a moment of classic Cory Gardner doublespeak, Gardner explains that although “Coloradans want to work,” the expanded unemployment benefit could create “unfair competition between the government and the private sector.” This statement is inherently self-contradicting–and that’s by design, as Gardner doesn’t want to answer the question so much as cushion the answer everybody knows in language that isn’t as toxic to swing state voters. This answer on an obscure conservative podcast is also a brazen contradiction of what Gardner told Colorado Public Radio in a story that ran literally the next day:

Gardner said he supports extending the unemployment benefits that were part of the CARES Act.

“COVID-19 has affected our entire state and we must continue working to ensure relief is reaching those in need, including through extending unemployment benefits,” Gardner said in a statement.

That’s right, folks! In less than 24 hours, Cory Gardner was on record taking both sides of the biggest issue in domestic American politics. And then, as AP reports, it got worse: Gardner and the Senate GOP got sideswiped by President Donald Trump.

The White House and its GOP allies appear to be retreating from their opposition to a $600-per-week supplemental unemployment benefit that has propped up the economy and family budgets but is expiring Friday.

President Donald Trump is eager to extend the benefit, undercutting his GOP allies on Capitol Hill who have spent considerable effort devising an alternative that could unite Republicans…

Republicans in the Senate had been fighting to trim back the $600 jobless benefit in the next coronavirus package, but their resolve weakened as the expiration of the popular benefit neared — and as Trump undercut their position by signaling he wants to keep the full $600 benefit for now.

In the friendliest of venues, Gardner was asked to take a firm position on a crucially important question. Gardner came about as close as he ever does to doing so, bracketed by platitudes though it may have been. And it’s not what he told the mainstream media at all.

Two days later, Trump blew up the debate. In the process, Trump left Cory Gardner and the rest of the GOP Senate majority looking like the villains. If you’ve ever wondered why Cory Gardner is almost always the last public official to comment on the news of the day–when reporters can catch him, that is–here’s one of the better examples. This time Gardner got caught lying to somebody, either his base or the mainstream media, and then Trump salted the wound by undercutting the more conservative of Gardner’s contradictory positions.

No matter what happens next, Cory Gardner loses.

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McConnell To Vulnerable GOP Senators: Maybe Abandon Ship?

Donald Trump and an adoring Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

CNN reports on what could be rightly considered an inevitable development as we close in on three months before the fateful 2020 presidential election–GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has given the signal that vulnerable Republican Senators up for re-election in November alongside an imploding President Donald Trump can, if they determine it is politically expedient to do so, make for the lifeboats:

In recent weeks, the Senate majority leader has become so concerned over Republicans losing control of the Senate that he has signaled to vulnerable GOP senators in tough races that they could distance themselves from the President if they feel it is necessary, according to multiple senior Republicans including a source close to McConnell.

That could mean breaking with Trump on the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and the continued efforts by the President to paint an optimistic picture despite rising cases and deaths across parts of the country, especially in many Republican states in the South and Midwest.

The process of staking out daylight between the campaigns of vulnerable Republicans and Donald Trump is well underway in some races around the country, best evidenced by Sen. Susan Collins’ ever-so-slowly escalating criticism of the President in recent months. In Colorado, however, Sen. Cory Gardner has made no effort to undo the basically locked-in perception at this point of Gardner as one of Trump’s closest allies. This week’s reassurance by Gardner that despite what Trump suggested, there would be no delaying the election over Trump’s fictitious concerns about mail ballots, notably did not include a defense of Colorado’s mail ballot system–which Gardner has defended in the past, but not directly in response to Trump as he had the opportunity to do on Thursday.

The problem for Gardner’s is that his image as a principal ally of Trump–Trump told cheering crowds in Colorado Springs last February how Gardner showed “no waver” in his commitment–is so firmly embedded in the public consciousness that to pivot only 90 days from the election, after so many opportunities moral obligations to do so, would be broadly identified for the shameless act that it is. Not to mention, CNN continues:

While this may give some senators the flexibility to draw a distinction between themselves and the President, it also forces them to walk a tightrope. Trump remains enormously popular with the Republican base, and any attempts to undercut him risks alienating those voters. [Pols emphasis]

“These vulnerable senators can’t afford to explicitly repudiate Trump,” said one senior Republican on Capitol Hill. “They just need to show they are independent on issues important in their states.”

Even if Mitch McConnell gives Gardner a hall pass to start disagreeing with Trump on various minor points of controversy, this carries with it the grave risk of alienating the Republican base. In Colorado, that base overwhelmingly remains loyal to Trump, is already not real keen on Gardner, and on guard for exactly the kind of “disloyalty” McConnell is opening the door to. There’s no realistic hope for Gardner to split the ticket with anti-Trump voters, so to lose Republicans would leave Gardner without any core base of support at all.

If Gardner could ever have “jumped ship” and saved himself from going down with Trump, the moment was six months ago–at least. If Gardner tries it now, three months from the election and only after the all-clear has been given from Republican leadership to do it, Gardner action is neither loyal nor courageous.

It is what Sun Tzu called “the noise before defeat.”

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Senate Republicans Fail Americans. Again.

UPDATE: As The Washington Post and POLITICO report, the White House is trading barbs with Democrats over whose fault it is that nothing is happening…which somehow overlooks the fact that the holdup is in the SENATE, which is controlled by Republicans. From WaPo:

“We anticipate that we will have a bill, but we’re not there yet,” Pelosi said.

Eager to avoid blame for Friday’s expiration of enhanced unemployment for some 20 million jobless Americans, Republicans have increasingly coalesced around the idea of trying to pass a short-term fix. But Democrats have repeatedly rejected that approach and continue pushing for a wide-ranging $3 trillion bill the House passed in May. That bill would extend unemployment benefits through January.

“We put forward what we need for the American people because we recognize the gravity of the situation. They don’t,” Pelosi said.

In order to get an update on the progress of legislation in the Republican-controlled Senate, it is apparently necessary to now ask the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t even mentioned until you get at least halfway through reading each of the stories linked above.

Should you place blame for relief inaction on a) The White House, or b) Democrats? Well, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed another relief bill back in May, so you can’t accuse them of not doing their job. The White House isn’t doing a lot of leading, but the real blame here goes to the one group of elected officials who continually duck out the back door: Senate Republicans.

—–

Just keep walking and don’t make eye contact.

One week ago today, we wrote this headline: “Senate Republicans Fail Americans.” The Senate adjourned for a three-day weekend last Thursday without so much as a back-of-the-napkin plan for a coronavirus relief package…fast forward one week, and this paragraph works just as well today:

The House passed a massive coronavirus relief package in May called the “Heroes Act.” The Senate has not taken up this legislation and has instead tried — and failed — to craft something of its own. Extended unemployment benefits passed by Congress in March will expire at the end of this month, but Senate Republicans were unable to come up with a plan to help the 20-25 million unemployed Americans who desperately need this assistance. So they went home for a 3-day weekend, saying they’ll try again next week.

That’s right: Senate Republicans adjourned AGAIN on Thursday evening for another three-day weekend without making any headway on a badly-needed coronavirus relief bill and no movement on extended unemployment benefits, which officially run dry today.

As Roll Call reports:

“We just don’t think they understand the gravity of the problem,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said after a two-hour meeting with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

“I think they understand that we have to have a bill, but they just don’t realize how big it has to be,” Pelosi said. [Pols emphasis]

President Donald Trump earlier this week floated the possibility of renewing supplemental unemployment benefits temporarily, as well as extending an expiring moratorium on evictions from federally backed housing. Democratic leaders rejected a similar offer at a meeting Wednesday, and it wasn’t immediately clear what new ideas Mnuchin and Meadows brought to the table Thursday…

It was the fourth meeting in as many days between the four principals, which haven’t included the top Republicans on Capitol Hill, who for now are leaving the negotiations to Trump’s deputies. [Pols emphasis] More talks are set for Friday and possibly Saturday as well, Mnuchin said.

Senate Republicans have become so impotent that Democratic leaders are once again negotiating directly with White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t even in the room. President Trump is too busy trying to undermine the 2020 election.

On Monday, Senate Republicans finally unveiled their version of a coronavirus relief bill, but it contained so much extraneous nonsense that the legislation was labeled a non-starter by Senators from both political parties. Meanwhile, economists from both sides of the political spectrum are practically begging the Senate to act in order to stave off economic disaster. As The Washington Post reports:

The nation learned Thursday that the U.S. economy endured its worst slump on record this spring, but a larger problem now looms: The nascent recovery appears to be faltering in July, and lawmakers are more divided than ever over what to do about it.

The risk is growing that the economy is going to backslide, a painful scenario where workers who regained jobs in May and June lose them again, and businesses that had started to reopen are forced to shutter, possibly forever. It’s already happening in parts of the country that are seeing a spike in coronavirus cases.

Once the downward spiral starts — more job losses leading to less consumer spending leading to more business closures leading to more job losses — it can lead to an even deeper downturn that permanently damages the economy for years to come. Economists say the United States is not spiraling yet, but the nation is at an inflection point.

With a vaccine still months away, there’s a growing consensus among economists that the best tool the nation has to prevent a long, ugly downturn is for Congress to go big on another relief package [Pols emphasis].

And to those Senate Republican leaders, including Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul, “right-leaning economists” say: “Now is not the time to worry about the debt.”

As Roll Call notes, vulnerable Senate Republicans seem to understand how bad it looks for them to be leaving town (again) without making progress on a relief package:

Before senators began trickling out of town for the weekend Thursday afternoon, [Arizona Sen. Martha] McSally went to the floor to try a last-ditch unanimous consent effort to renew the $600 benefit for seven days. Schumer blocked the move, saying “a one-week fix can’t be implemented in time and the senator knows that.”

Many Americans have already received their last extended unemployment benefits check, and state unemployment agencies would struggle to implement an extended benefit that only lasts for a few more days.

But at least McSally is kinda paying attention. As for Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner? He’s worried about…other things:

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Q-Donkulous!

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, there are less than 100 days until the biggest election ever ever ever; Senate Republicans want everyone to become homeless and then sweep them off the streets; we find Sen. Cory Gardner not in Washington doing his job, but at a ridiculous photo op with handbag designer and black bean enthusiast, Ivanka Trump; 9News fires an antifascist (and it’s not Ian this time); Aurora Mayor and vanquished former congressman Mike Coffman reminds us why we worked so hard to beat him in 2018; and the podcast turns one year old!

Plus, we introduce a new game: “Q-Donkulous!” Play along and see if you can do better than Ian.

If you missed our last episode, click here to catch up or scroll through all of our past episodes at GetMoreSmarter.com.

Questions? Comments? Complaints? Hit us up at AngryRants@getmoresmarter.com.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn

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Film Review: Cardboard Cory Is about Booting Gardner. But It’s Also a Paean to Political Activism

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

“Cardboard Cory: the Documentary” tells the incredible story about the life and times of a cardboard cutout of Republican Sen. Cory Gardner and the political activists behind the cardboard.

There’s a perception out there of activists as lonely, angry people who you try to slide away from at parties. This film does a beautiful job of debunking that stereotype, showing that activism and activists are about community-building and fun.

But the 15-minute film is also an organizing tool.

And it’s the organizing-tool part that really excites the folks who are promoting the film and want more than anything to see Gardner exit the U.S. Senate.

“We’re fewer than 100 days out from the election. To win in 2020, we need to work together to save our future,” says Katie Farnan, of Indivisible Front Range Resistance (IFFR), which created the cutout along with other local indivisible groups. “The Cardboard Cory documentary inspires us to celebrate our movement’s leaders and past victories and then get to work on the election of our lifetimes.”

The documentary’s release “party” on Tuesday was actually less of a party and more of an action step, timed with Indivisible’s Unity Week of Action, which began Monday.

“After watching the film, viewers were given the tools to call voters directly as well as resources for doing more electoral work in the 97 days remaining in the 2020 election cycle,” stated a news release about the documentary that was headlined, “Viewers make commitment to motivate voters as part of a week of national electoral action.”

But please take a 15-minute break from political organizing and watch this film by Nick Rosen and paid for by the Payback Project, which is Indivisible’s national campaign focused on 11 vulnerable senators.

(more…)

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The Truth Hurts: Club 20 Isn’t Politically Relevant

Sad Club 20

Once upon a time, Club 20 was one of the more influential political groups in the State of Colorado. Formed in 1953 as a coalition of Western Slope business leaders, Club 20 eventually came to represent the interests of 22 rural counties in Western Colorado. The annual Club 20 debates, which took place in August of every election year, were a consistent stop on the campaign trail for candidates from both political parties.

But not anymore.

As The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reports, the top statewide Democratic candidate in Colorado is skipping the Club 20 debate for the second consecutive election cycle:

The Hickenlooper [for U.S. Senate] campaign confirmed in an email Wednesday that Hickenlooper will not attend the Club 20 debate — Gardner has said he would — saying that Grand Junction voters would be able to watch a live Oct. 13 debate in Fort Collins that is being sponsored by several media outlets, including the Grand Valley’s two television stations.

The campaign for Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has not yet agreed to the Oct. 13 debate in Fort Collins, but this is more about Club 20 than it is about a debate schedule. As we wrote in February 2019, Club 20 has permanently branded itself as politically-hostile to Democrats and more trouble than it is worth to engage:

Club 20 has long presented itself as the voice of the Western Slope, which might have been true at one point; but in the last several election cycles, Club 20 has consistently favored right-wing candidates and oil and gas interests at the expense of all other constituents. When Club 20 zigged right, it never bothered to turn around to check if anyone else was following along. It is true that the annual Club 20 debates were once a key date on the election calendar; people also used to wear leg warmers in public. Things change.

Last summer, Club 20 complained loudly about Polis’ decision to skip their gubernatorial debate – at one point, calling the decision “simply outrageous” – but the absence of the Democratic nominee did little to hurt his General Election hopes. The Republican Governor’s Association later tried hard to spin the Club 20 snub as a broader diss of the Western Slope…which also went nowhere.

During the 2018 election, the campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Polis raised a few eyebrows by skipping the Club 20 debates. Club 20 was very sad about this decision, but the election results validated the decision by the Polis campaign. Polis went on to defeat Republican Walker Stapleton by 11 points; final results showed that Polis was competitive in Western Colorado despite Club 20’s frantic fist-shaking.

Results from the 2018 Governor’s race in Colorado, via The New York Times

As Charles Ashby writes for the Daily Sentinel, Club 20 at least seems to understand that it has no political leverage anymore:

Still, Club 20 Executive Director Christian Reece is holding out hope that Hickenlooper might change his mind, saying she doesn’t want to see a repeat of two years ago when Democrat Jared Polis declined to debate Republican Walker Stapleton during the Club 20 fall meeting in the 2018 gubernatorial race, which Polis won.

“This is going to be the only debate in western Colorado,” Reece said. “I appreciate that you don’t have to have western Colorado to win statewide election, but in order to be a good elected leader, you have to represent the entire state and not just the Denver metro area.”

You’ll notice that this language is much softer than the “simply outrageous” tone taken by Club 20 after Polis dissed the group in 2018. As we wrote in this space in 2019, Club 20 isn’t “Western Colorado” — it’s just a group of people IN Western Colorado. Democratic candidates like Polis and Hickenlooper don’t need to go through Club 20 in order to talk with Western Slope voters.

There will no doubt be a few Republicans who will again declare that snubbing Club 20 is a diss to all of rural Colorado, but as we saw in 2018, Colorado voters aren’t listening.

Colorado has changed a lot in recent years. Club 20 has not. Sometimes it’s just that simple.

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Trump Shrugs Off Russian Bounties on U.S. Troops

Russian President Vladimir Putin

As The Washington Post and others are reporting, President Trump says flat-out that he didn’t even MENTION reports about Russia offering bounties on U.S. troops in a recent call with Russian President Vladimir Putin:

President Trump said in an interview broadcast Wednesday that he has not spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin about U.S. intelligence reports of Russian bounties given to Taliban-linked militants to kill U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan.

“I have never discussed it with him, no,” Trump said during a taping of “Axios on HBO.” He said he did not bring up the issue during his most recent conversation with Putin, which occurred in the past week and which Trump said was “a phone call to discuss other things.” [Pols emphasis]

The Trump administration in recent weeks has questioned the veracity of the intelligence. But some of Trump’s own senior intelligence officials viewed the information as credible enough to warn the Pentagon and allies so they could ensure they had measures in place to protect their forces in Afghanistan and to begin developing options for responding to such a Russian operation, national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien said earlier in the month.

As CBS News notes, Trump tried dodging a similar question earlier this week:

The president’s admission comes after he refused to divulge whether he discussed the Russian scheme with Putin when asked about the call Monday. Mr. Trump told reporters during a trip to Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in North Carolina that “we don’t talk about what we discussed” but called the conversation with Russia’s president “very productive.”

Here’s the full clip of the Axios interview with Trump that was first made public today:


Earlier this month, Colorado Public Radio asked Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) about concerns — first reported by The New York Times — that a Russian intelligence agency was secretly offering Afghan militants financial incentives to kill American troops. Here’s what Gardner said:

Asked whether Trump should retaliate against Russia, Gardner said, “I think we should always go after people, whether it’s Russia or anyone else, who is trying to attack U.S. soldiers or interests.” [Pols emphasis] He noted he previously introduced legislation to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism.

We’ll update this post if Gardner says anything at all about this latest news on Trump’s refusal to even broach the subject with Putin. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for a response.

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Let’s Talk About This Senate Republican “Relief” Bill

Senate Republicans finally unveiled some semblance of a plan for coronavirus relief legislation on Monday, 10 weeks after the House of Representatives approved a plan that has been gathering dust while the GOP enjoys a second bowl of crab bisque. The Republican plan appears to be going absolutely nowhere, however, and on Wednesday President Trump began advocating for a short-term fix on extended unemployment benefits and eviction protections.

There are some significant differences in the House-approved ‘HEROES Act‘ and what the Senate GOP calls the ‘Heals Act’ — particularly when it comes to extended unemployment benefits (the Senate wants to cut the amount by two-thirds). Senate Republicans rejected Trump’s idiotic insistence that a “payroll tax cut” be included in the bill, but there’s still plenty of other nonsense that made it through to the final draft that is thus far preventing badly-needed relief from reaching suffering Americans:

 

Billions of Dollars for Trump’s Border Wall

Since everybody else can get past the wall, why can’t Senate Republicans?

As The Washington Post reports:

The GOP Senate’s new $1 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill restores hundreds of millions of dollars in Pentagon spending that the Trump administration redirected to help pay for President Trump’s border wall.

Navy planes and ships and Air Force aircraft that the Trump administration canceled earlier this year so the money could go to pay for the wall have reappeared in the GOP bill that was introduced on Monday. The programs are part of $30 billion in defense spending in the GOP bill that Democrats are already objecting to. Republicans are defending the spending as important to protect jobs and help the Pentagon cope with impacts of coronavirus.

Senate Republicans will argue that there is no money in this bill dedicated to building a border wall, but what they’re doing here is basically treating Trump’s wall like a layaway program. If Congress is going to backfill funding for projects raided for the wall, then they might as well just allocate money directly to the wall in the first place. This is sort of like asking your mother and your father for $20 and then pretending that the source of the money is somehow different; regardless of how you receive the money, it’s coming out of the same bank account.

As you may recall, Congress balked — repeatedly — at President Trump’s demands to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, so Trump basically just stole (er, “re-directed”) billions of dollars from military programs that had already been approved; this move essentially de-funded dozens of shovel-ready projects, including an $8 million improvement slated for Peterson Air Force base in Colorado.

 

New Deductions for “Business Meals”

But where are the space travel deductions?

From The Hill newspaper:

Under a section of the package offered by Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), taxpayers would be able to deduct 100 percent of the costs of business meals through the end of the year, up from 50 percent under current law, if the food and beverages are from restaurants.

Ahead of the measure’s release, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said in an interview with Fox Business Network the package would include “increased business deductions for meals and entertainment.” However, Scott’s, provision focuses specifically on meals and does not apply to entertainment expenses…

… But the idea of increasing the business meals deduction has been criticized by Democratic lawmakers as well as tax-policy experts across the ideological spectrum.

Increasing available deductions for business meals and other entertainment expenses has been a priority for President Trump since celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck whispered it into his ear. But what’s the point of increasing deductions for activities that don’t really exist at the moment for very good COVID-related safety reasons? While they’re at it, maybe Senate Republicans could quadruple the deduction for meals enjoyed on the planet Saturn.

 

Billions for a New FBI Building

A new FBI building needs to be close to this hotel…for, uh, security reasons.

Here’s a sentence that has never been said in the history of ever: In order to ease the incredible financial strain on Americans related to a global pandemic, we should build a new FBI headquarters!

From POLITICO:

Several Republican senators were stunned in particular by the new FBI funds, which Democrats said were intended to boost profits for President Donald Trump’s hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, located across the street from the proposed FBI building. Though both parties agree that the FBI needs a new headquarters, several lawmakers had been pushing for the facility to be constructed in Virginia or Maryland. The White House on Monday said the building should remain near Justice Department headquarters downtown.

This has also been a longtime obsession for President Trump, though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems unwilling to play along. It is odd, however, that Senate Republicans didn’t seem to know how the proposal even made it into their own bill.

 

Liability Protections for Employers

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell counts to 3

This is apparently a big deal for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, so it’s a big deal for you, too. As CNBC reports:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he will not pass a coronavirus relief bill in the Senate which does not include liability shields.

“We’re not negotiating over liability protection,” he told CNBC’s Kayla Tausche as Congress looks to craft a pandemic rescue agreement. He noted, however, that the GOP is open to compromise on other issues…

…Democrats have generally opposed the legal shield because it could take away a recourse for workers who return to an unsafe workplace as the pandemic spreads around the country. McConnell contended “there’s no chance of the country getting back to normal without it.”

McConnell’s fears of a mass of coronavirus-related lawsuits are not based on any actual facts, as POLITICO explains:

Yet data suggests that coronavirus-related litigation isn’t very contagious.

Of the 3,727 coronavirus-related cases that have been filed since March, just 185, or less than 5 percent, fall into the personal injury category that McConnell describes — plaintiffs claiming fear of exposure, potential exposure or exposure to Covid-19, according to an analysis by the American Association for Justice of a litigation tracker run by law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth. Instead, the bulk of the legal actions deal with insurance claims and civil rights, including people challenging stay-at-home orders…

…That rate of filings is relatively low, labor law experts and advocates say, considering that more than 4 million cases of coronavirus have been reported in the U.S., and some 145,000 people have died.

 

—–

We’ll leave you with the editorial board of The Los Angeles Times:

At the moment, Congress has two tasks more important than any others: Providing the resources and leadership needed to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, and helping the country climb out of the deep recession that the pandemic triggered. Sadly, the long-awaited coronavirus relief package that Senate Republicans released this week falls far short on both fronts [Pols emphasis]…

Some Republicans have balked at the idea of providing any further federal aid because of the record-setting deficit. Such fiscal responsibility would have been more welcome when the economy was growing and the GOP was cutting taxes and throwing money at the Pentagon. The human and economic problems caused by COVID-19 are enormous and ongoing, and they demand a commensurate response.

The Senate is still scheduled to take a month-long recess beginning on August 10.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (July 29)

Happy “International Tiger Day.” Please don’t try to have a beer with a tiger. 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 on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

As The New York Times reports, the United States has surpassed 150,000 deaths from COVID-19.

 

Senate Republicans and the White House can barely agree on what to eat for lunch (though it’s either hamburgers or meatloaf), so they’ve made little progress on a new coronavirus stimulus bill as extended unemployment benefits are about to run dry. As The Washington Post reports, President Trump is now talking about a mini-bill:

President Trump called for a quick fix Wednesday to address expiring unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions, saying the other parts of the GOP’s $1 trillion relief bill can wait.

“The rest of it, we’re so far apart, we don’t care, we really don’t care,” Trump told reporters outside the White House, referring to divisions between the two parties.

Democrats have repeatedly rejected the idea of a piecemeal approach that would involve a stand-alone unemployment insurance bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has not embraced the idea either, insisting any bill must include a five-year liability shield for businesses, health-care providers and others — a non-starter for Democrats.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking alongside Trump, said the two sides were “very far apart.”

This is the part where we remind you that the House of Representatives passed a coronavirus relief bill (the “HEROES Act”) in mid-May. Senate Republicans have been sitting around drawing doodles in their notebooks for more than two months now.

On Tuesday, Gov. Jared Polis laid out a list of items that Colorado needs Congress to provide ASAP:

Polis warned of dire consequences to the economic welfare of millions of Coloradans and to the state’s ability to contain the pandemic in a letter sent to the state’s congressional delegation as the U.S. Senate begins deliberating the next phase of coronavirus relief while infections surge across the nation.

“The continued uncertainty regarding the extension and funding of key federal programs for Coloradans is making many of our neighbors contemplate extremely difficult choices regarding their financial futures,” Polis said.

 

Governor Jared Polis on Tuesday also called on all Coloradans to be more smarter about protecting themselves and others from COVID-19. From The Denver Post:

Coloradans who attend large events, don’t wear masks and don’t follow social-distancing guidelines are not only putting themselves but others at risk, Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday in response to concerns about a large event in Weld County over the weekend.

concert and rodeo in Weld County on Sunday drew about 2,000 people during the coronavirus pandemic in a county that has resisted the governor’s orders for wearing masks and other restrictions to prevent the spread of the deadly virus.

Although county commissioners may believe they don’t have to enforce orders from the governor, Polis rejected the claim at a news conference Tuesday, saying it’s the law and the way to fight it is through the courts…

…“Attending large gatherings doesn’t just put yourself at risk but also puts your job and your family and your loved ones at risk,” Polis said. “No government policy can force anybody not to be stupid, but I’m calling on Coloradans not to be stupid.” [Pols emphasis]

 

Attorney General William Barr testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, delivering a masterful performance…assuming you were expecting a disgustingly corrupt and indifferent stance on just about anything he was asked. Vox.com explains how Barr has helped to make Trumpism possible in the United States. Dana Milbank of The Washington Post marvels at Barr’s clear-eyed support for meddling in U.S. elections.

Today, the House Judiciary Committee will hear from leaders of the nation’s four biggest tech giants: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google.

 

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Yay Putin! Trump Pulls 11,000 Troops From Germany

President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

CNN reports while the caviar and vodka party begins at the Kremlin:

The US is moving forward with President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from Germany, a decision that has attracted bipartisan congressional opposition and roiled key allies who see the move as a blow to NATO.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper acknowledged the plan will cost billions to execute when he formally announced the decision on Wednesday from the Pentagon. US defense officials said it will take years to relocate the troops.

The plan to pull US troops from the long-time NATO ally has been met with broad bipartisan opposition amid concerns that it will weaken the US military’s position vis a vis Russia, however the Trump Administration has decided to proceed with the move.

Trump defended the decision Wednesday, saying the troop drawdown was taking place because Berlin was not spending the NATO target of 2% of its GDP on defense and because Germany was taking “advantage” of the US…

As is typical, there’s some confusion: although President Donald Trump says the motive is to punish Germany for their perceived failure to pay for their own defense, Defense Secretary Mark Esper says no, it’s not about punishing one of our closest allies at all:

The Pentagon chief, who previously publicly opposed Trump when he considered deploying the military to quell domestic protests, pushed back Wednesday on recent assertions from the president that the U.S. will withdraw forces from Germany as punishment for being “delinquent” in its “payments” to NATO. That repeated claim from Trump misrepresents a goal the allied countries set in 2014 to each dedicate 2 percent of their own domestic budgets to defense spending by 2024…

Once again we’re left with the choice of believing the President of the United States, or a top-ranking official subordinate to the President who disagrees with him. Although the U.S. will still have significant forces stationed in Germany after these troops depart, and the U.S. is still required to defend Germany and all other members of NATO in the event of attack, there’s no question that Trump’s capricious attacks on these closest of allies have badly damaged America’s once unquestioned leadership of the world’s most powerful military alliance.

The principal beneficiary of infighting within NATO is of course President Trump’s original supporters in Russia, who have along with China been eagerly asserting leadership into the global vacuum left by Trump. Moving these troops out of Germany is not going to lead to Russian tanks rolling across the North European Plain by itself, but it’s bad enough that Republicans and Democrats alike fiercely criticized Trump’s plans back in late June when originally announced.

But not Sen. Cory Gardner, Colorado’s man on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee! You can imagine the hue and cry from Gardner that would have ensued had Barack Obama acrimoniously pulled 11,000 troops out of a key NATO ally, but once again Gardner has to keep his head down lest he upset the ever-watchful big boss.

Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, is seeing a return on his investment beyond the best-case scenario.

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Lindsey Graham Headlines Gardner Fundraiser Today

(Besties! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s “Special Guest” at a “Video Conference” fundraiser that costs $1,000 for political action committees and $500 for personal attendance.

The event starts at 5 p.m. today via a Zoom link.

Graham is the latest Republican who’s raising money for Gardner recently.

Efforts learn more about the event from Gardner’s office were unsuccessful.

Last month, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell urged fellow Republicans to chip in to Gardner’s campaign and, “Help him fight off Schumer and the radical left.”

In a recent fundraising email, Gardner not only spotlighted his support from McConnell but also Donald Trump, Jr., U.S. Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona, and Joni Ernst of Iowa—all of whom implored Gardner backers to donate to his campaign now or risk seeing the Democrats take over the U.S. Senate.

Graham, who’s become known as one of Trump’s staunches defenders, was once a harsh critic of Trump, just as Gardner once was.

Gardner once promised not to vote for Trump, and Graham once called Trump a “race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot.”

Now Gardner votes with Trump 89% of the time; Graham is with Trump on 87% of votes.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (July 28)

Happy “World Hepatitis Day.” Please, um, celebrate responsibly. 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 on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

*Daily Coronavirus numbers in Colorado:
http://covid19.colorado.gov

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

 

Attorney General William Barr is testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee today. The Washington Post previews the fireworks:

As he makes a highly anticipated appearance before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Attorney General William P. Barr is expected to face critical questions from Democrats about the government’s response to anti-police brutality protests across the nation, his controversial interventions in high-profile cases and an array of other matters.

Barr will tell the House Judiciary Committee that President Trump has not inappropriately intervened in Justice Department business — even though Barr has more than once moved in criminal cases to help the president’s allies — and he will defend the administration’s response to civil unrest in the country, according to a copy of his opening statement.

Barr, according to the statement, will take a defiant posture as he testifies before the panel for the first time since Democrats took control of it, alleging that they have attempted to “discredit” him since he vowed to investigate the 2016 FBI probe of possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign, and the media has been unfair in covering unrest.

Two Members of Colorado’s Congressional Delegation sit on the House Judiciary Committee: Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, the word of the day will be “obfuscation.”

Click here for live video and updates on Barr’s testimony.

 

► After recessing for a three-day weekend, Senate Republicans returned to Capitol Hill and introduced their half-baked proposal for a new coronavirus relief package. Vox.com explains the details:

The GOP bill arrives as Congress faces a pressing deadline: Enhanced unemployment insurance (UI) is set to expire this week, with millions receiving their final federal unemployment payments allotted by the Cares Act this past weekend. A federal eviction moratorium has also elapsed, and state and local governments increasingly feeling the strain of both dwindling tax revenues and rising coronavirus costs are looking to Congress for help.

Republicans have long chafed at spending more money on stimulus, and this reluctance is apparent in the new bill. Currently, UI recipients are receiving an extra $600 per week on top of their standard benefits, an amount Republicans would like to cut to $200 through September. Additionally, GOP lawmakers have prioritized the inclusion of liability protections for businesses, which would shield them from coronavirus-related lawsuits, while appearing to shy away from more funds for state and local governments.

Republicans introduced their stimulus bill, dubbed the Heals Act, 10 weeks after House Democrats passed their version, the Heroes Act, in the lower chamber. While the two proposals have some overlap — including support for another round of $1,200 stimulus checks — lawmakers have many other differences they still need to work out.

The headline here is that Senate Republicans are seeking to cut the amount of money provided for extended unemployment insurance by two-thirds. Colorado Public Radio looks at the impact on the Senate’s failure for some 330,000 Coloradans.

 

 The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is making a fool out of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) by deciding to keep running a controversial TV ad centering on the explosion of a home in Firestone in 2017. The NRSC had agreed to pull the ad last week after multiple complaints, including a half-hearted plea from Gardner himself to drop the spot.

Gardner, meanwhile, is facing a new set of campaign finance complaints related to his appearance at a $1,000-a-bottle champagne tasting in Palm Beach, Florida in late February.

 

► Colorado hit a new weekly high for COVID-19 cases, but it is unclear if these numbers indicate a troubling trajectory. Elsewhere, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock warned in his annual State of the City address that the battle with COVID-19 is far from over.

 

 New polling in Colorado shows Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden with a double-digit lead over President Trump. The same poll shows Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper maintaining a solid advantage over incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). Hickenlooper also boasts a 13-point advantage over Gardner among Unaffiliated voters in Colorado.

As Morning Consult explains, Democrats are leading Republicans in key races across the country.

 

If you’re looking for political news that isn’t about Coronavirus, it’s available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Morning Consult: Biden Up By 13, Hick Up By 6

Sen. Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper.

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports:

The latest poll in Colorado’s U.S. Senate contest shows a tightening race, with Democratic candidate John Hickenlooper ahead of Republican Sen. Cory Gardner by six percentage points.

The Morning Consult survey of more than 600 likely Colorado voters shows less of a contest in the presidential race. Democrat Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by 13 percentage points, 52% to 39%, in the Centennial State.

Polls dating back to last year have consistently shown Hickenlooper, a former governor, with a double-digit lead over Gardner. Tuesday’s poll shows a much narrower contest between the two political heavyweights with 98 days to go. Hickenlooper received 48% of support to Gardner’s 42% in the poll…

Although this poll does indicate a somewhat closer race that most other polls of Colorado’s U.S. Senate race up to now, it’s not really accurate to claim that Morning Consult or any other individual pollster shows a “tightening race” until a second poll with consistent methodology establishes that trend. Tightening observed in other polls with prior results to compare to would bolster the argument, but that hasn’t happened yet. Otherwise you could just as easily say that Gardner is losing ground from a poll in 2015 that showed him doing well…but that would be silly.

Until then, what we have is another poll showing the Republican incumbent down by a substantial margin, with less than 100 days before the election. In the absence of corroboration this poll is an outlier in Cory Gardner’s favor, and he’s still losing.

The poll also has plenty of good news for Hickenlooper. Not only does he lead the incumbent Gardner as July comes to a close, but unaffiliated voters who were polled favor Hickenlooper over Gardner by 13 percentage points, 48% to 35%.

In the very difficult situation Gardner is in today, anything that can be even remotely construed as good news is going to be hyped relentlessly by the GOP as evidence of shifting momentum. But the dynamics of this race have not changed: an incumbent running in a state that has “walked away” from Gardner’s party and political agenda in every election since Gardner narrowly won, holding on tightly to the coattails of a President loathed by the voters Gardner somehow must persuade to split their vote.

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