Fact Checkers are Demolishing Gardner Talking Points

UPDATE (MONDAY): Gardner’s pre-existing medical conditions ad is so dishonest that even CBS4 Denver political reporter Shaun Boyd didn’t have anything nice to say (Boyd is well-known in Colorado political circles for her eagerness to toss softball after softball toward Gardner). From a CBS4 “Reality Check”:

There is maybe no provision of the Affordable Care Act that is more popular than protections for people with pre-existing conditions. And that has created a predicament for Republicans like Senator Cory Gardner who has voted repeatedly to repeal the law…

…This ad is meant to convince you Cory Gardner is sincere about his promise to protect people with preexisting conditions… Problem is, unlike the protections in the law he wants to repeal, his protections don’t go far enough.

 

—–

Via Politifact (9/18/20)

Politifact is out with a new fact check on legislation being promoted by Senator Cory Gardner’s campaign that has already been blown to bits by local fact checkers.

Despite spending his entire career railing (and voting) against the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Gardner is campaigning on a 117-word bill that he introduced in late July that is intended to give the impression that he is doing something serious about protecting pre-existing medical conditions. The reason is simple: Protecting pre-existing medical conditions is popular with voters, and Gardner is not.

Rather than concentrate on a TV spot from Gardner’s campaign about his legislation regarding pre-existing medical conditions, Politifact instead skips straight to the meat of the discussion: Does Gardner’s bill do what he says it would do?

A campaign spokesperson reiterated in an email that Gardner’s goal is “to guarantee coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions and ensure they cannot be charged more as a result of their underlying medical conditions.”

Thomas Miller, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank in Washington, D.C., quipped that the main goal might be something else entirely.

“It’s probably about 100 words too long,” Miller said. “It could have said, ‘I’m running for election. I’ll do whatever is necessary.’” [Pols emphasis]

Politifact’s ultimate ruling is consistent with what other news outlets have discovered: Gardner’s bill is crap.

Because protecting people with medical conditions requires many moving parts, the brevity of Gardner’s proposal makes it appear to be a fig leaf for a political problem rather than a means to guarantee protections for people with preexisting conditions. [Pols emphasis]

The legislation is unclear on whether it guarantees that people with health problems will be able to buy insurance in the first place. And, even if they can, they may well find it priced out of reach because the legislation does not bar insurers from varying premiums widely on the basis of age, gender or occupation.

Viewed in its most favorable light, Gardner’s 117-word proposal would only serve as a place holder for larger legislation, upon which more protections would have to be layered to bolster the effectiveness of its guarantee.

In an effort to defend Gardner, his campaign spokespeople have been working really hard to move the goalposts in describing “things that are true.” A spokesperson tells Politifact above that Gardner’s “goal” is to “guarantee coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions and ensure they cannot be charged more as a result of their underlying medical conditions.” That’s a cute bit of wordplay about a “goal” that skips past the fact that this is not what Gardner’s legislation would actually accomplish.

Responding to a Fox 31 News “truth check“, a Gardner spokesperson said, “Insurers would be required to take on and cover individuals with pre-existing conditions no matter what happens to Obamacare.” That’s not what health policy experts say. But our favorite Gardner campaign narrative came in response to a 9News “Truth Test” about his pre-existing conditions TV spot:

In an email, Gardner’s campaign spokeswoman defended the bill.

“One thing is 100% true: Cory Gardner authored the bill and he says it guarantees coverage, which means insurers would be required to cover and take on individuals with pre-existing conditions,” wrote spokeswoman Meghan Graf.

It is 100% true that Gardner authored the bill! It is 100% true that Gardner “says” it guarantees coverage! It is 100% true that Gardner is an actual U.S. Senator!

Here’s one more thing that is true: Gardner’s pre-existing medical conditions stunt is not working.

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The Death of RBG and the SCOTUS Battle Ahead

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The news came late on Friday of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). Soon afterward, stories began swirling about the political impact of a Supreme Court (SCOTUS) vacancy just six weeks before Election Day. There is a LOT of news to unpack after a weekend flurry of reports and updates, so we’re breaking it down — Q&A style — into smaller bites of information to aid in digestion.

 

Q: Before We Get to the Political Stuff, What About the Memorial Service?

The body of Justice Ginsberg will lie in repose outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday. A private internment service will take place some time next week at Arlington National Cemetery.

 

Q: How Soon Will President Trump Nominate a New Justice?

Very soon. Trump says that he will announce a nominee by the end of this week and is encouraging the Senate to act quickly on completing the nomination process before Election Day.

 

Q: But What About Ginsberg’s Final Request?

According to RBG’s family, here’s her final statement: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new President is installed.”

President Trump wasn’t going to worry about this anyway, but on Monday he suggested that RBG’s last words were written by Democrats. So, not only is Trump going to ignore RBG’s final wish — he’s going to pretend it never happened.

 

(more…)

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Trump’s Kisses of Death Rain Down on Cory Gardner

 
Here’s President Donald Trump speaking today with his favorite Fox and Friends in a clip eagerly shared by Colorado Democrats, assuring the morning agit-prop faithful that Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is fully on board with jamming another U.S Supreme Court Justice into Trump’s legacy:

TRUMP: I think it’s going to help. I think it’s going to help Cory, I do. I think it’s going to help Cory Gardner. He’s a great guy by the way and very, very loyal to the party and loyal [to his state].

With that, the expectation is set at the very top! If Gardner “goes squish” now, the 30% of Colorado voters ready to follow Trump to whatever America looks like on the other side turn on him. That’s a scenario wherein Gardner experiences a small moral redemption on the way to certain defeat. The far more likely outcome, of course, is that Gardner recites his own version of Mitch McConnell’s talking points and does exactly what he’s told.

“Very, very loyal to the party.” You’re not going to see that in any pro-Gardner advertising.

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The GMS Podcast: Sen. Leroy Garcia Gets More Smarter

Senate President Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo)

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, we talk with Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia about Pueblo politics, CO-3 candidates, and green chiles.

Your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii also discuss a new poll showing what lots of other polls are showing: Trump and Gardner are losing by double digits and progressives and their policy positions are popular! President Trump knowingly lied about the coronavirus and has blood on his hands (including that of 2,000 Coloradans); and Cory Gardner still hasn’t said jack about it. We also find Cory auditioning for his next career as a luxury car washer and revisit some more old political slogans to see if there’s any wisdom in them.

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast 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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Cory Gardner Isn’t “Mourning” Anybody

Sen. Cory Gardner speaks at Club20 yesterday.

As the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter reports:

Forty-five days before the fight of his political life, and one day after being thrust into a national spotlight by the death of a Supreme Court justice, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner addressed the high court’s vacancy for the first time Saturday but declined to say whether President Donald Trump should be able to choose the next justice.

“I hope that before the politics begins — because there will be plenty of time for that — that we have some time for this country to reflect on the legacy of a great woman who rose to our nation’s highest court and the work that she has done for this nation, whether you agree or not,” the Republican senator told Club 20, a Western Slope business group.

The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby:

“Whether you agree or not, there is time for debate, there is time for politics, but the time for now is to pray for the family, and to make sure that we keep their family in our hearts and prayers as we mourn as a nation.”

On Saturday, Trump tweeted that he intended to go ahead with naming a replacement for Ginsburg despite her dying wish for him to wait…

Coming from Colorado’s famously evasive junior U.S. Senator Cory Gardner, who routinely vilified the liberal justices on the U.S. Supreme Court led by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in the most charitable interpretation this is an obvious dodge of the question which has been dominating nationwide political discussions ever since word broke late Friday of RBG’s death. Politicians on both sides of the aisle are respectfully eulogizing Ginsburg, and also dealing honestly with the inevitable subject at hand: when RBG will be replaced on the Court, and by who.

If you really believe that Cory Gardner is so affected by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg that he can’t comment on the singularly weighty question that follows…well, we’re not going to even worry about it, because nobody believes that. Hiding behind this pretense of mourning, when so many of Gardner’s Republican colleagues are quickly staking out their positions for and against proceeding with a nominee to replace Ginsburg before the next President is sworn in in January, might honestly be considered offensive.

Especially since, as the Sentinel continues, Gardner’s not “pausing” a damn thing:

Zach Hudson, spokesperson for the left-leaning political action committee American Bridge 21st Century, said Gardner is slated to hold a fundraiser Monday with U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who has been on Trump’s short list for the Supreme Court in the past. [Pols emphasis]

“Raising money with a potential Trump nominee for the Supreme Court is a disturbing sign for Coloradans waiting to hear form Cory Gardner if he’ll keep his word and let them have a say before filling a lifetime appointment,” Hudson said. “For once, Cory Gardner needs to stand up to Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump and demand the American people have a voice in choosing the next Supreme Court justice.”

Gardner’s pretense is particularly galling because it’s just a new excuse for the same total inability for Sen. Gardner to show leadership on any issue without pre-clearance from Senate Republican leadership. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already offered up the talking points for the plain hypocrisy of denying Merrick Garland a vote nine months before the election in 2016 versus rushing to replace RBG six weeks before the election in 2020. Gardner’s unequivocal statements in 2016 that the voters need to weigh in on a lifetime SCOTUS pick have already been undercut–it’s just a question now of whether Gardner will admit this to the state he’s losing by double digits.

If Cory Gardner would just cut the shit and say what everyone knows, he’d be much better off.

But even in the dire straits Gardner finds himself, that’s not who he is.

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With a Supreme Court Seat Now Open, Will Gardner Argue for Delay, As He Did Four Years Ago?

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

The Colorado Times Recorder is re-posting this piece, published on the four-year anniversary of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, in light of the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

—-

Exactly four years ago today, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in his sleep at a Texas ranch.

About an hour after Scalia’s death was confirmed, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) told startled reporters that the “American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice” and “therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

Five days later, on Feb. 18, 2016, Colorado’s Republican Senator, Cory Gardner, agreed with McConnell that the appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice should be delayed until after the 2016 presidential election, which was later won by Trump.

Gardner told fellow conservative Dan Caplis, who was on KNUS radio at the time:

GARDNER: “Again, I think we’re too close to the election. The president who is elected in November should be the one who makes this decision.”

“We are deep in the heart of a political campaign, a divisive election, a divisive president, who has done nothing but overreached Congress time and time again,” he added.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s well-known health problems appear to be at bay for now, but the question arises of what Gardner would do this time around if Ginsburg’s or another seat became vacant.

Gardner’s office did not return a call seeking comment, but in interviews at the time, he pointed to Democrats who’d made similar arguments about delaying confirmation of a Justice.

If Gardner follows the same logic of his arguments in 2016, he’d again call for delay.

Back in 2016, Gardner went on to join McConnell and other Republicans in denying Merrick Garland, Barack Obama’s choice to replace Scalia, even the opportunity for a hearing before the Senate.

In fact, Gardner refused to meet Garland at all.

On March 16, 2016, even before Obama finished introducing Garland to the country, Gardner issued a statement that “our next election is too soon and the stakes are too high; the American people deserve a role in the process as the next Supreme Court justice will influence the direction of this country for years to come.” In 2016, Gardner’s refusal to meet with Garland earned Gardner a personal rebuke from Obama.

“Sen. Gardner has not been doing his job as a senator,” Obama told The Gazette in a short interview after the Air Force Academy graduation. “He is perfectly free after having met with Judge Garland to conclude that ‘this is not somebody that I am going to vote for.'”

“If we start getting to the point where the Senate operates in such a partisan manner that even someone like Merrick Garland can’t get the courtesy of a hearing and a vote, then that’s going to start breaking down the system to the point where we can’t get any judges confirmed,” he said. “Our system of justice is going to break down, and that’s going to have consequences for all of us.”

After Obama left office, Trump nominees Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh were confirmed for Supreme Court positions.

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In Which Ken Buck Gets to the Bottom of Antifa

It’s true because I said it.

Ken Buck has it all figured out. Mostly.

The Republican Congressman from Greeley, who also serves as the Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, was a guest this week on the “Brian Kilmeade Show” on Fox News Radio. Buck told the talking muppet from Fox & Friends — whom Fox bills as “America’s receptive voice,” whatever that means — that he knows that “Antifa” has a well-funded leadership structure and that local law enforcement officials are not cooperating with the Department of Justice in making arrests and trying to topple “Antifa.”

Of course, Buck eventually acknowledges that he doesn’t have any specific information about any of this, but because he was a prosecutor for 25 years, he sees the bigger picture unlike the rest of the saps in Congress.

We transcribed Buck’s interview with Kilmeade so that you can get the full experience of Buck’s fearmongering nonsense:

KILMEADE: Why are you the one who has to lead the charge into finding out who’s behind Antifa, and what is their role in places like Portland, Seattle, Chicago, and New York?

BUCK: Well, I tell you, I had the privilege of prosecuting for 25 years, and so I think I look at crime a little bit differently. I think a lot of Members of Congress see individual acts of crime, and I see the organization, the money behind the crimes. [Pols emphasis] Who is funding the folks that are traveling from the West Coast to the East Coast to engage in these violent acts — to commit arson, to beat up people who they don’t agree with? And so, I am really interested in going after the funders as a way to shut down the violence.

SPOILER ALERT: Don’t hold your breath waiting for Buck to mention the 17-year-old man who traveled from his home in Illinois to Kenosha, WI and ended up killing two people and wounding another with his AR-15 rifle. What we really need to figure out is this: Who is supplying the bricks?

KILMEADE: Over in Colorado, Congressman Buck, we’re seeing Antifa everywhere. They seem organized. Some of them have radios. They seem somewhat rehearsed. We watch what they did in New York after George Floyd was killed. We saw bricks being dropped off, bats being dropped off. They have a plan.

BUCK: Absolutely. And I write about it in my book and talk about the fact that the left can’t get to their socialist utopia with our constitution in the way and with our history in the way, and with our values. And so, what they have to do is, they have to try to cancel our culture. They have to try to rewrite history and have teachers ignore history, and adopt the terrible curriculum that was written by The New York Times and try to push this, this…this really, lie, about America out to the public.

Serious journalist person Brian Kilmeade (right)

How did we get from “Antifa” to The New York Times and its “1619 Project“? Get us back on topic, Kilmeade!

SPOILER ALERT #2: Buck doesn’t actually KNOW anything about any of this.

KILMEADE: So, you have this group…who are they? Who finances them, from what you know right now?

BUCK: Sure, well, I don’t know specific donors and I won’t speculate about specific donors, but it’s clear to me that there is, a…while it appears to be a loosely-knit organization, there’s also a leadership structure that is very tightly-knit and is, uh, well-funded. [Pols emphasis] And I think that, if you look at who is funding the Left when it comes to other activities, I think undoubtedly there are the same people who are funding a lot of this activity. And I think they’re trying to disrupt President Trump’s agenda, and I think they’re doing everything they can to scare people. I think it will backfire. What I see in Colorado is that voters are concerned about this and are looking for a strong, steady hand to lead the country. 

Just a few minutes ago, Buck said he was absolutely sure that “Antifa” is a well-funded organization. When pressed for details, Buck has…bupkis. It’s frightening to remember that Buck was the freakin’ district attorney in Weld County for 10 years.

Kilmeade then asks Buck to respond to an unspecified report that a former justice department official is saying that there is some sort of “proof” that these protests are actually organized violence and not just organic actions by a few bad actors. Kilmeade compares “Antifa” to Al Qaeda and ISIS; to Buck’s credit, he at least doesn’t perpetuate this nonsense: 

BUCK: Well, I think there’s a difference between foreign terrorists and domestic terrorists, and I think what we need to do, and I think what the Department of Justice is doing, is conducting a grand jury investigation. I think they are doing their best to gather bank records and other records to determine where this funding is coming from. 

But before we can injure ourselves patting Buck on the back, he crosses a pretty important line. This is where Buck moves from red meat posturing to more dangerous (and highly irresponsible) territory: Accusing local law enforcement officials of ignoring “Antifa”:

BUCK: Really, what it depends on, when you deal with major drug organizations and cartels from outside the country, and other organized crime efforts, like the mafia, you need to make sure that you have state and local officials who are arresting at the local level and then using those folks at the local level to gather information on the organization. The problem here is that we don’t have officials in Portland and other areas who are cooperating with the federal government, oftentimes because of sanctuary city policies and other policies that prohibit that kind of cooperation. And so, I think that the Department of Justice has a more difficult problem than it has in the past. [Pols emphasis]

What is Buck’s suggestion here? That local law enforcement officials should arrest more people on suspicion of being part of something that as far as anyone can tell HAS NO STRUCTURED ORGANIZATION? What would the paperwork say? This warrant is based on the belief that suspect is affiliated with an organization that we can find no evidence of existing?

Buck’s comments are at odds with what actual law enforcement officials are saying about “Antifa.” On Thursday, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the House Homeland Security Committee and told lawmakers that “Antifa” is an ideology and not an organization. From The Associated Press:

Wray did not dispute in his testimony Thursday that antifa activists were a serious concern, saying that antifa was a “real thing” and that the FBI had undertaken “any number of properly predicated investigations into what we would describe as violent anarchist extremists,” including into individuals who identify with antifa.

But, he said, “It’s not a group or an organization. It’s a movement or an ideology.” [Pols emphasis]

Clearly, the FBI Director has not been talking to supercop Ken Buck, who believes that the Department of Justice is collecting bank account information that it can use to tie people to an ideology and prove that George Soros is the mastermind of our discontent.

Does Buck actually believe this crap, or is he just playing a role that serves him well politically? It’s tough to say which is worse: That he would knowingly tout misinformation or that he has completely bought into this baloney. Either way, it says a lot about both Ken Buck the Congressman and Ken Buck the GOP Chairman.

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Cory Gardner Can Run and He Can Hide

Can’t talk now. I have a phone.

Whoever said, “you can run, but you can’t hide,” has obviously never met Sen. Cory Gardner.

Labor Day has come and gone, and Gardner has made no attempt to distance himself from President Trump. Dropping Trump’s electoral anchor is about the only thing that Gardner hasn’t tried to do in order to win re-election in 2020. We’ve argued that it’s too late for Gardner to even try to dump Trump at this point, and it seems that the Yuma Republican has come to the same conclusion.

To get around this problem, Gardner does what he always does: He runs.

As CNN reports today, can’t-talk-itis seems to be contagious:

As Election Day draws near, Trump’s controversies have grown — and so has the Republican indifference to them. For much of Trump’s presidency, Republicans have rarely pushed back at Trump’s self-inflicted controversies and scandals, knowing that doing so would prompt a Twitter attack from the President and a revolt from his vocal supporters — something that GOP lawmakers, particularly in difficult reelection races, can ill-afford.

And with polls showing Trump commands the support of an overwhelming number of Republican voters, GOP lawmakers are in a bind as they try to court swing voters put off by Trump while avoiding criticizing a President who demands total loyalty from his party.

“In a bind,” you say? Here’s how Gardner navigates such a bind:

The White House this week wasn’t full of controversies, given the historic accords between two Gulf nations and Israel — a move that relieved Republicans and earned Trump bipartisan praise. But such moments have been overshadowed by more than three years of controversies and offensive tweets — and Republicans have grown weary of answering questions about them.

This way I don’t have to listen to the dial tone.

Many in difficult reelection races avoid answering questions from reporters, taking back staircases and entrances to avoid areas where the press congregates.

Sen. Cory Gardner, who faces a tough reelection bid in Colorado, was spotted on the phone four times between Tuesday and Wednesday as he entered and exited the Senate through a back staircase, declining to answer questions.

Asked if he could stop and take questions as he left the Capitol after the final vote Tuesday, Gardner said no: “I’m on the phone,” he responded as he headed to a car that pulled up the moment he walked out, a move that kept reporters from approaching him. A spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment. [Pols emphasis]

This leads us back, as it always does, to that infamous commercial from Gardner’s 2014 U.S. Senate campaign:

And when I’m pretending to be on the phone, don’t talk to me.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (September 17)

Today is Constitution Day in the United States; or as President Trump would say “The What?” 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS AND VOTING INFO…

*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 

*Register to vote or get other election-related information:
GoVoteColorado.com

 

► We’re just a few weeks into the 2020-21 school year, and the coronavirus pandemic is overruling well-made plans for safe student instruction. Three days before the nation’s largest school district was set to bring kids back to class, New York Mayor Bill deBlasio — for the second time — delayed in-person classroom instruction.

Here in Colorado, administrators are trying to get a handle on significant outbreaks at universities and colleges. Jefferson Junior/Senior High School in Jefferson County is moving to online instruction after three students tested positive for COVID-19. Half of the students at Cherry Creek High School in Denver are now doing remote learning after an outbreak believed to be related to a weekend party. New data from the State of Colorado shows infection rates trending upward in Colorado.

 

Two new television ads from Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) are being picked apart by fact-checkers and generally not holding up well. The fact that KDVR calls Gardner’s anti-Hickenlooper ad “Gardner’s Maserati Ad” proves exactly what we were saying about the spot when we first saw it last week.

 

► The Federal Reserve says a quick economic recovery won’t happen unless Congress acts on another stimulus bill. On Wednesday, President Trump endorsed a bigger stimulus package than what Senate Republicans have discussed.

 

A new poll shows the race in CO-3 between Democrat Diane Mitsch Bush and Republican Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert to be a neck-and-neck battle:

 

As The Washington Post reports…just read it for yourself:

Hours before law enforcement forcibly cleared protesters from Lafayette Square in early June amid protests over the police killing of George Floyd, federal officials began to stockpile ammunition and seek devices that could emit deafening sounds and make anyone within range feel like their skin is on fire, according to an Army National Guard major who was there.

D.C. National Guard Maj. Adam D. DeMarco told lawmakers that defense officials were searching for crowd control technology deemed too unpredictable to use in war zones and had authorized the transfer of about 7,000 rounds of ammunition to the D.C. Armory as protests against police use of force and racial injustice roiled Washington.

In sworn testimony, shared this week with The Washington Post, DeMarco provided his account as part of an ongoing investigation into law enforcement and military officers’ use of force against D.C. protesters…

…But DeMarco’s account contradicts the administration’s claims that protesters were violent, tear gas was never used and demonstrators were given ample warning to disperse — a legal requirement before police move to clear a crowd. His testimony also offers a glimpse into the equipment and weaponry federal forces had — and others that they sought — during the early days of protests that have continued for more than 100 days in the nation’s capital.

There’s a decent chance someone actually uttered the phrase, “Bring me the heat ray.” This year is so weird.

 

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

 

(more…)

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Fact-Checkers Shred Cory Gardner’s Latest Two Ads

We’ve discussed at length in this space two TV spots running in heavy circulation across Colorado from Sen. Cory Gardner’s re-election campaign–the first released a week ago featuring Gardner meme-worthily washing a Maserati while he makes exaggerated claims about travel expenses incurred by John Hickenlooper as governor, and the second released Tuesday featuring Sen. Gardner’s mother in an especially distasteful attempt to whitewash Gardner’s record on protecting patients with pre-existing conditions.

Last night, 9NEWS and FOX 31 in Denver Truth Tested and Checked respectively these two ads, 9NEWS taking the ad featuring Gardner’s mother and FOX 31 tackling the Maserati carwash spot. And in both cases the ads did not hold up well under scrutiny.

9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger says this may have been his “most difficult” Truth Test ever, because it involved debunking claims made by Sen. Cory Gardner’s mother, a cancer survivor and neither a political nor public figure. The reticence by Zelinger to be impolite to Gardner’s mom shows the by-design difficulty of taking on Gardner’s false claims when made through what amounts to a human shield. Nonetheless, Zelinger soldiers on:

…[W]hat Gardner’s mom doesn’t say in the ad is that Gardner’s bill isn’t necessary at this point because Obamacare — the Affordable Care Act — is still the law. The Affordable Care Act prevents insurance companies from denying you coverage because of preexisting conditions.

It’s not accurate to say “forever.” The Affordable Care Act currently covers people with preexisting conditions and if it’s repealed, a new bill requiring it would need to be signed into law. There’s no guarantee that would happen. Even if Gardner’s bill was needed and signed into law, it could be repealed later. Saying forever is not true.

AD/CLAIM: “No matter what happens to Obamacare.”

VERDICT: This is also not true.

If Obamacare — the Affordable Care Act — were to be repealed, insurance companies wouldn’t necessarily be required to take you on in the first place.

This Truth Test is commendable for a number of reasons, not least being the dignified but thorough rebuttal of the claims about Gardner’s latest bill, and explanation of Gardner’s long record of disregarding protections for patients with pre-existing conditions in his many votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Rather than focus on the emotionally manipulative aspects of this ad, or fall into the trap of disparaging a highly sympathetic figure, Zelinger just lays out the facts of why the claims are false.

From there, viewers can draw their own conclusions about Gardner’s tactics.

FOX 31’s Truth Check takedown of Gardner’s Maserati ad doesn’t have the same emotional subtext, but it’s no less thorough. Four out of 5 claims in this ad were rated misleading or outright false, including the inflation of a ride from the airport in a Maserati to “touring Europe in a Maserati” in the one claim they marked as “true.” In this case, the subject matter is so obscure and the ad is so downright goofy that it backfires every time somebody watches it–especially with the volume down. It just looks like Cory Gardner loves his Maserati.

The combined impression these two unequivocal fact-checks is that Gardner’s ads are not just deceptive, but weak and desperate–and demonstrative of a completely befuddled re-election message. After six years in office, gimmicks to conceal his record and fact-free cheap shots are all Cory Gardner has to offer Colorado voters.

The Truth Tests don’t lie, and neither do the polls.

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Everything Old and Dumb is New Again (And Still Dumb)

Hey, Wyoming, you’ve got a thing hanging from the bottom of your border.

As we learned last month during the Republican National Convention, the GOP does not have a party platform in 2020. This is at least consistent with a Republican President who does not have a plan — for anything — and it seems to be inspiring Colorado Republicans to ignore plotting for the future in favor of embracing failures from the past.

Earlier this week, we learned that a group of Republican activists received approval from the Colorado Secretary of State’s office to begin collecting signatures for another attempt at recalling Gov. Jared Polis. Republicans tried to recall Polis and a bunch of other Democrats in 2019; the end result of all of this effort turned out to be four signatures in a Budweiser box.

But if recalls aren’t your thing, perhaps you could be enticed to join another secession movement.

Recent post from the “Weld County, WY” Facebook page.

There are apparently some folks in Weld County who are working on trying to figure out a way to get adopted by Wyoming. This is not going to happen, but there are 3,390 people who like the idea on Facebook enough to convince “organizers” to start the process of collecting signatures to petition the Weld County Commissioners to bail on Colorado. We can’t tell you why this group thinks the Weld County Commissioners have the authority or ability to move the county into Wyoming, but that seems to be the plan for now.

(Also, doesn’t Wyoming get a say in this transaction? Or do they just have to agree to whatever the Weld County Commissioners command?)

You might be asking WHY Weld County would want to secede from Colorado. That’s a tough question to answer, though there are several reasons listed on the Weld County, Wyoming (WCW) Facebook page:

♦ The (WCW) group links to this video — originally posted to YouTube by Colorado Pols — of the Independence Institute’s Dave Kopel saying that the passage of Senate Bill 181 would “destroy” Weld County by making it economically-unviable. Senate Bill 181 did in fact become law, and as far as we can tell, Weld County still exists. The oil and gas industry isn’t doing great in Weld County or anywhere else, but you can’t blame any Colorado legislation for that problem.

♦ Wyoming is “more conservative” and “elects more Republicans” than Colorado. This is undoubtedly true. Weld County is also not inhabited entirely by conservative Republicans, but, whatever.

♦ Wyoming has a lower cost of living than Colorado. This is also true. Unfortunately, the cost of living isn’t going to change just because you put “WY” after “Weld County.” You could change your address to “Weld County, Indonesia,” but your landlord isn’t suddenly going to lower the rent.

Back in 2013, 11 rural Colorado counties — representing about 2% of Colorado voters — actually voted on a question about seceding from Colorado and forming a new state. That proposal failed miserably, with less than 41,000 people voting “YES.” Perhaps Weld County residents will be more excited about the idea of joining Wyoming instead of creating a 51st state.

It’s not clear why secession is bubbling back to the surface now. Senator Cory Gardner seems to think that secession makes for a good talking point, but any actual attempt at seceding from Colorado is not politically-helpful for the Yuma Republican because it means that his supporters are doing something other than helping him get re-elected.

Recall Polis! Secede from Colorado! Re-elect Cory Gardner! 

In that order.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (September 16)

The Denver Nuggets are in the Western Conference Finals after becoming the first team in NBA history to come back from consecutive 3-1 series deficits. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS AND VOTING INFO…

*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 

*Register to vote or get other election-related information:
GoVoteColorado.com

 

► President Trump is disputing — despite recordings of his own voice — that he downplayed the coronavirus pandemic by inventing himself a new word: “Up-played.” As NBC News reports:

President Donald Trump told a voter that he did not downplay the coronavirus in the early days of his administration’s Covid-19 response — even though he has been heard on tape saying he did — during an ABC News town hall Tuesday.

“If you believe it’s the president’s responsibility to protect America, why would you downplay a pandemic that is known to disproportionately harm low-income families and minority communities?” a voter asked Trump.

Trump responded: “Yeah, well, I didn’t downplay it. I actually, in many ways, I up-played it in terms of action.” [Pols emphasis] The voter appeared to try to follow up and remind the president that he acknowledged having downplayed the threat of the coronavirus in a taped interview with journalist Bob Woodward earlier this year.

During the town hall, Trump said that many people don’t want to wear masks and claimed that “there are a lot of people think that masks are not good.”

Asked who those people are, the president said, “Waiters. They come over and they serve you, and they have a mask. And I saw it the other day where they were serving me, and they’re playing with the mask. I’m not blaming them. I’m just saying what happens. They’re playing with the mask, so the mask is over, and they’re touching it, and then they’re touching the plate. That can’t be good.”

As The Hill reports, Trump also came up with a new turn-of-phrase regarding one potential approach to combating the pandemic:

President Trump defended his assertion that the novel coronavirus would “disappear” with or without a vaccine on Tuesday, saying the United States would develop what he called “herd mentality.”

“With time it goes away,” Trump said during an ABC News town hall in Pennsylvania when pressed by host George Stephanopoulos on his public comments about the virus. “You’ll develop, you’ll develop herd — like a herd mentality. It’s going to be, it’s going to be herd-developed, and that’s going to happen. That will all happen. But with a vaccine, I think it will go away very quickly.”

Trump was (probably) referencing “herd immunity,” which is a different thing than “herd mentality” (you’re on your own trying to explain “herd-developed.”) Medical experts say that “herd immunity” would require both a vaccine and at least one million coronavirus deaths in the United States; “herd immunity” is thus more of a consequence than a strategy.

The Washington Post fact-checked Trump’s ABC News appearance and might have run out of ‘Pinocchios.’

 

 Roughly half of the students at Cherry Creek High School near Denver have been moved to remote learning because of a COVID-19 outbreak being blamed on a weekend party.

 

► The Colorado Springs Independent looks at the potential election fallout from President Trump’s persistent denigration of the military.

 

As The Durango Herald reports, Republican Congressional candidate Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert is having trouble keeping her origin story straight. This may be partially because her talking points don’t make a ton of logical sense.

 

 Tuesday’s Primary Election in Delaware was the last Primary of the 2020 election season.

 

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

 

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Cory Gardner’s Latest Ad Is So Much Worse Than It Looks

UPDATE: Gardner is getting crushed by national media outlets who clearly see the contradictions:

And as NBC News reports:

Gardner campaign spokesman Meghan Graf didn’t respond when asked if Gardner still favors ACA repeal, or why his bill doesn’t include the guaranteed issue provision. She wouldn’t say whether Gardner supports a lawsuit backed by the Trump administration to invalidate the ACA.

Brutal.
—–

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

This morning, embattled GOP incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner released a new TV spot you can watch above. The ad features Sen. Gardner emoting very strongly over his mother’s cancer diagnosis, and his mother is present in the ad to talk favorably about Gardner’s recent 117-word bill meant to redeem a decade of votes by Gardner to repeal the Affordable Care Act without any protections for patients with pre-existing conditions–a bill panned as “horse excrement,” with none of the details in the ACA that actually protect patients, and loopholes big enough to drive an ambulance through. Gardner promises with what look a lot like tears in his eyes to protect people with pre-existing conditions “no matter what happens to Obamacare.”

If you are a Colorado voter not aware of Sen. Cory Gardner’s literally dozens of votes in the U.S. House and Senate over the years to repeal protection for patients with pre-existing conditions as part of repealing the Affordable Care Act, this ad might not immediately send whatever beverage you’re holding flying toward the screen unlucky enough to be showing it. But if you do know that Cory Gardner’s entire career in federal office going back to his original run for Congress in 2010 has been centered on repealing the Affordable Care Act, and in most cases his votes to repeal “Obamacare” made no attempt to protect anyone who has benefitted from the law in any way, you understand as you watch this ad that it is truly one of the most deceptive and outrageous messages ever conveyed to Colorado voters on any subject.

Everyone knows why this is happening. Although Gardner built his career around fact-free attacks on “Obamacare,” going back to his fictitious claims of hundreds of thousands of Coloradans “losing their coverage” while the law in truth drove the rate of uninsured in Colorado to record lows, in 2020 the Affordable Care Act is polling better than it did during all those years of single-minded Republican opposition. Despite the imperfections in the law that Republicans in Congress refused to allow anyone to address in their desire to see the ACA fail, and kicks at the underpinnings of the law like zeroing out the individual mandate, millions of people continue to benefit every year. In 2020, the global pandemic has refocused Americans’ attention on access to health care, and the ACA’s opponents are the ones who look dreadfully out of touch.

After so much of Gardner’s career has been spent trying to undo the very thing he tearfully promises to protect in this ad, all this ad proves is how little Gardner has actually delivered for the voters of Colorado–and how the state’s voters have been poorly served by Gardner’s right-wing agenda.

What Cory Gardner is promising, at long last, is to protect us from Cory Gardner.

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The Most Important Election Ever!

The 2020 election is the most important election ever. We know this to be true, because everybody says so.

Of course, “everybody” said the same thing in 2018, and 2016, and 2014…

We need to get to the bottom of this, so click after the jump to cast your vote.


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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (September 15)

By this time one month from now, you may have a 2020 ballot on your kitchen table. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS AND VOTING INFO…

*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 

*Register to vote or get other election-related information:
GoVoteColorado.com

 

Vulgarity. That’s the difference between President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner. Both Republicans are shameless opportunists who will seek to exploit any issue for their own political gain; Gardner just doesn’t directly say as many awful things as Trump.

Why do we bring this up? Because Gardner is out with a new television ad that is beyond despicable. Gardner is sitting at a table with his mother, who is a cancer survivor, and talking about his legislation to protect pre-existing medical conditions — legislation that doesn’t do anything and is anathema to everything Gardner has always espoused about government health care. But Gardner is trailing Democrat John Hickenlooper in the 2020 Senate race, so he’s flipping his own script.

As NBC News reported over the weekend:

Sen. Cory Gardner ran his first Senate campaign railing against the newly enacted Affordable Care Act, but six years later, the once-maligned law is getting little mention in his bid for re-election.

The Colorado Republican isn’t alone.

After years of campaigning against Obamacare, Republicans trying to retain control of the Senate appear to be conceding that attacking the ACA is no longer politically advantageous, a shift compounded by the millions of people who now depend on the law for their coverage, including protections for pre-existing conditions.

“Now with Obamacare being entrenched into people’s daily lives, they just don’t want their health care messed with, and so it becomes hard for Republicans to articulate on that point,” said Doug Heye, who worked on repeal efforts in 2014 as deputy chief of staff to then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

Shameless.

 

A group of Colorado Republicans are AGAIN trying to recall Gov. Jared Polis, and their timing couldn’t be worse for the rest of the GOP. Instead of spending the next two months trying to get Republicans elected, these recall folks are instead going to be chasing a Nov. 13 petition signature deadline that they cannot possibly meet.

 

Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on the continuing fallout regarding President Trump’s comments to Bob Woodward that he intentionally played down the coronavirus pandemic — including Trump’s insistence in March/April that everything “re-opens” before Easter:

This timeline is brutal for Trump. It makes clear that he knew, even as he was urging the country to reopen and for churches to be packed on Easter Sunday, that the virus was incredibly easy to pass from person to person.

For Trump to say that his entire strategy was to avoid panicking the public by “downplaying” the virus is bad enough.

But to actively encourage the reopening of the country when he knew that the virus was extremely contagious is, in a word, irresponsible. And in two words, dangerously irresponsible.

 

Haze from multiple wildfires in the Western United States is now visible in New York City.

 

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

 

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Of Course There is Another Polis Recall Effort

This calls for the “Quad Facepalm.”

Polling data continues to indicate that Colorado Republicans are in big trouble in 2020. But instead of organizing phone banks or fundraisers in the 50 days left before Election Day, a group of GOP activists have decided to hunker down and focus instead on trying to recall Gov. Jared Polis.

Again.

You may recall that in 2019, Republicans tried to recall a half-dozen different Democrats in Colorado. All of the recall attempts failed miserably — and we do mean miserably. The Colorado Republican Party supported these efforts to varying degrees before eventually calling for a full evacuation from Hurricane Recall. That message was apparently not received by some activists, as Jesse Paul reports for The Colorado Sun:

The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office on Monday approved the petition drafted by “Recall Polis 2020,” which is tied to at least one of the people behind the failed efforts last year to remove the Democrat from office.

The organization has 60 days — or until Nov. 13 — to collect 631,266 signatures to force a special election to decide whether or not Polis, who is halfway through his first term in office, should be recalled.

Thus far, the Recall Polis 2020 issue committee, formed on June 10, reports raising only about $4,000 in cash. Organizer Lori Ann Cutunelli, of Summit County, reported donating more than $7,300 to pay for drafting the petition wording and to make a downpayment on printing costs. Additionally, a GoFundMe campaign has raised about $7,600 from 275 donors.

If you’re still worried that this new Polis recall effort might be successful, go ahead and read this paragraph:

Greg Merschel, one of the people behind Resist Polis PAC — which Coloradans Against Polis was formerly known as — is listed as one of the organizing members of Recall Polis 2020.

We’d love to explain this better, but we’d need an entire office wall and two rolls of red string to map out the lunacy in full.

Efforts at recalling Polis in 2019 did not end well, unless you measure success based on how many people you trick into writing you a check; in fact, you could make a strong argument that the primary purpose of trying to oust Polis was so that a couple of people could earn some extra cash. There were at least two separate groups claiming to be the “real” recall effort in 2019. “Resist Polis” and “Official Recall Jared Polis” sniped back and forth for months, and by the end of their “campaigns” they were openly rooting for each other to fail.

Before she was “Q*Bert,” Lauren Boebert collected Recall Polis petitions at her Rifle restaurant.

The “Resist Polis” campaign eventually held a comical press conference outside of the State Capitol in Denver, where several plastic boxes full of “petition signatures” were piled up on the West Steps as proof that “Resist Polis” did a thing. Organizers claimed to have collected more than 300,000 signatures, though they refused to submit their bounty to the Colorado Secretary of State’s office for verification. We can at least confirm that some of the boxes definitely contained pieces of paper.

Confusion about the recall Polis efforts persisted until the very end. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, now the Republican nominee for Congress in CO-3, literally drove across the state so that she could be there in person when the recall petitions were (not) submitted.

When Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) was asked about the recall efforts last summer, he was perplexed that Republicans would be spending time and resources focusing on work that was completely unrelated to the upcoming 2020 election. As The Denver Post reported in July 2019:

Even the state’s highest-ranking Republican officeholder, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, danced around the question when asked about the Polis recall.

“You know what, we gotta focus all we can on winning in 2020; getting our congressional seats back, getting our state legislature back … ,” Gardner said at a recent Republican Party event in El Paso County. “That’s where I’m at. You may agree or disagree, but boy I think we gotta get our nuts and bolts together so that we can win.”

Gardner wasn’t necessarily opposed to the idea of trying to recall Polis; he was more concerned that organizers were diverting the attention of volunteers and donors when the GOP really needed them for the actual upcoming election. This was definitely a problem for Republicans in 2019, but in 2020 it’s an outright disaster.

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GSG: Trump Down 11, Gardner Down 10

Sen. Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper.

As the Denver Post’s Alex Burness reports as the usual mid-September anxiety sets in over the usual mid-September election year question in Colorado–“sure Democrats are ahead, but is it close?”

After a couple of polls inspired speculation that in Colorado, the race for President and our state’s U.S. Senate seat was “narrowing,” a new survey out today from Global Strategy Group for liberal group ProgressNow Colorado once again shows the Democratic candidates in both these races with the double-digit leads we’ve been accustomed to for months now:

The findings were released by the liberal advocacy group ProgressNow Colorado, which contracted with Democratic firm Global Strategy Group to conduct the survey. The pollsters surveyed 800 likely Colorado voters between Aug. 28 and Sept. 1, with a breakdown of party affiliations — 43% unaffiliated voters, 27% Republicans and 30% Democrats — that roughly mirrors the latest statewide breakdown reported by the Secretary of State’s Office. The poll has a 3.5% margin of error.

The poll finds Joe Biden leading Trump by 11 points in the presidential race. Kanye West will be on the state’s ballot in that race, too, and he received 1% support.

The poll finds that in the U.S. Senate race, Republican incumbent Gardner is down 10 points to Democratic challenger Hickenlooper, the former governor. Other recent polls have shown Gardner within single digits of Hickenlooper, including one released last week that put Gardner just five points behind. Many view Gardner as the most vulnerable Republican incumbent in the Senate, and the outcome of this race could be a deciding factor in whether Democrats can gain control of the chamber.

Read the details here. It’s a poll loaded with good news for Democrats and fans of recent Democratic policy accomplishments like the Senate Bill 217 police accountability law, which is favored by 69% of respondents, and a solid 58% approval of Gov. Jared Polis’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic with 36% disapproving. President Donald Trump’s approval on handling the pandemic is stuck at 40% with 58% of Coloradans disapproving–and in tough news for CD-3 GOP nominee Lauren Boebert, only 8% of Coloradans have a positive view of the “QAnon” conspiracy theory.

Individual polls aren’t gospel, for anyone seeking a clear picture of any race or question polling is about informing averages. But these numbers feel pretty close to reality to us, and they’ll provide some comfort to Democrats riding out the September of their discontent.

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Cory Gardner is Hiding Under a Desk Somewhere

Donald Trump, Cory Gardner in Colorado Springs on February 20th.

FRIDAY UPDATE: CNN’s Manu Raju updates with comment from Sen. Cory Gardner on this very issue on a “tele-town hall” last night:

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who has perhaps the toughest reelection race of any Republican member, was asked in a telephone town hall on Thursday evening whether it was “appropriate” for Trump to “lie to the American public” by publicly downplaying the threat of coronavirus in comparing it to the flu, while knowing that it is more dangerous.

Gardner did not directly answer the question, responding that he “certainly” takes the pandemic seriously and that he worked with Democratic Gov. Jared Polis to obtain tests and masks, according to a recording of the event obtained by CNN.

Instead of addressing the President’s comments, he accused the media and Democrats for not taking the pandemic seriously enough back then. He said that “unfortunately” the first question CNN asked him after he left a coronavirus briefing in January was about Trump’s impeachment during the trial. And he criticized House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for inviting people to Chinatown in San Francisco in February.

In his preferred scripted forum of a “tele-townhall” where staff controls every mic and any follow-up question that is permitted, Gardner appears to have forgotten all about the rally attended by thousands starring himself and Donald Trump on February 20th in Colorado Springs–an event that belies every claim by Gardner that he was “taking the virus seriously” at this critical time. To pivot to Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Chinatown days later without even acknowledging his own folly is so perfectly hypocritical…

It could only come from Cory Gardner. It’s simply ridiculous.

—–

Manu Raju of CNN is working the halls at the U.S. Capitol building trying to get Republicans to comment on President Trump’s OWN WORDS that he always understood the full dangers of the coronavirus pandemic but intentionally downplayed the threat and undersold safety precautions. As you might expect, Raju is getting a lot of blank looks in response.

We don’t know of Raju is still lurking in a hallway somewhere, but it’s fun to think about what Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) might be doing at the moment.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (September 11)

There are 53 days until Election Day. 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS AND VOTING INFO…

*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 

*Register to vote or get other election-related information:
GoVoteColorado.com

 

► Both President Trump and his 2020 opponent, Democrat Joe Biden, are visiting Shanksville, PA today to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The Washington Post looks back at what each candidate was doing on that fateful Tuesday:

Joe Biden was on an Amtrak train on Sept. 11, 2001, when his wife called to tell him about the attacks on the World Trade Center, and when he reached Washington, he grew frustrated that he couldn’t get to the Senate floor for a speech because the U.S. Capitol had been evacuated.

Biden nonetheless found ways to make his point — that institutions like Congress and NATO are bulwarks against such assaults on democracy. “I refuse to be part of letting these bastards win,” Biden said that day.

Hundreds of miles to the north — and four miles from Ground Zero — Donald Trump was sitting in a tower bearing his name, watching CNBC and preparing to call a local TV station to offer his own commentary, including a lament that the stock market was forced to close.

Given the coronavirus pandemic and the racial justice protests, Ishaan Tharoor of The Washington Post wonders if the “9/11 era” is now over.

 

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado is doing a better job than the federal government of preventing fraudulent benefit claims:

More than three out of four claims made for unemployment assistance under a program for self-employed workers and independent contractors since July 18 were fraudulent, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment said Thursday.

“We have prevented $750 million to $1 billion in improper unemployment insurance payments going out the door,” said Cher Haavind, the department’s deputy director during a press call Thursday morning. About $40 million in federal money, however, may have gotten into the hands of criminals.

Revisions to initial claims under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program for the weeks of July 18 to Aug. 22 showed that of the 62,498 initial claims approved, only 14,292 were deemed legitimate, the department said. And in the two weeks since Aug. 22, the department estimates it has been hit with 40,000 to 50,000 fraudulent PUA claims.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance was set up under the CARES Act to help individuals who didn’t pay premiums for unemployment insurance but suffered a loss of income due to the outbreak.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, Colorado will soon begin paying out a temporary — and partial — extension of unemployment benefits related to an executive order from President Trump.

 

As POLITICO reports, Democrats are out to a big lead in early voting across the country:

Democrats are amassing an enormous lead in early voting, alarming Republicans who worry they’ll need to orchestrate a huge Election Day turnout during a deadly coronavirus outbreak to answer the surge.

The Democratic dominance spreads across an array of battleground states, according to absentee ballot request data compiled by state election authorities and analyzed by Democratic and Republican data experts. In North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Democrats have a roughly three-to-one advantage over Republicans in absentee ballot requests. In Florida — a must-win for President Donald Trump — the Democratic lead stands at more than 700,000 ballot requests, while the party also leads in New Hampshire, Ohio and Iowa.

Even more concerning for Republicans, Democrats who didn’t vote in 2016 are requesting 2020 ballots at higher rates than their GOP counterparts. The most striking example is Pennsylvania, where nearly 175,000 Democrats who sat out the last race have requested ballots, more than double the number of Republicans, according to an analysis of voter rolls by the Democratic firm TargetSmart.

Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for President Trump to spend so much time and effort casting doubts about mail ballots.

As The New York Times reports, wildfires in the Western United States are getting perilously close to large population centers:

The wildfire crisis on the West Coast grew to a staggering scale on Friday, as huge fires merged and bore down on towns and suburbs, state leaders pleaded for firefighting help, and tens of thousands of people were told to evacuate.

Oregon, Washington State and California are enduring a wildfire season of historic proportions, with the firefighting effort compounded by the coronavirus pandemic and misinformation online. At least 15 people have died in the fires, with more expected as teams search through burned homes.

The fires have consumed more than three million acres in California, almost a million acres in Oregon and destroyed entire towns in Washington. The blazes have torn through idyllic mountain towns, reduced subdivisions to beams and embers, and spewed foul smoke-filled air across a region that is home to millions of people.

The Mayor of Portland has declared a state of emergency as a wildfire approaches the city’s suburbs.

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (September 10)

This is one of those days where it feels like we’re drinking from a news firehose. So, let’s make sure you’re caught up and so you can 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.

 

CORONAVIRUS AND VOTING INFO…

*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 

*Register to vote or get other election-related information:
GoVoteColorado.com

 

Over the years, political candidates in Colorado have produced television ads of varying degrees of quality and usefulness. Some of these ads are so terrible that you remember them years later. This new spot from Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has joined what we like to call the “Pantheon of Dumbassery,” alongside all-time awful commercials from the likes of Bob Beauprez and Walker Stapleton.

 

► The U.S. Senate voted today on a doomed half-assed coronavirus relief bill introduced by Senate Republicans earlier in the week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is spinning a losing vote as a political victory because he was able to get most of his caucus to support a pointless endeavor. As Roll Call reports, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is not impressed:

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer in his rebuttal reiterated his attack on the bill as “emaciated.” It lacks, among other things, housing assistance, nutrition assistance, aid to state and local governments and funding to build out broadband connections that Democrats insist on, he said.

“It is one of the most cynical moves I’ve seen, a fairly transparent attempt to show that the Republicans are doing something, when in fact they want to do nothing,” Schumer said.

House Democrats passed a $3.4 trillion package in May, but have since offered to meet the Senate GOP roughly halfway at $2.2 trillion.

That last part is particularly important. The House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act in May, and the Senate has been sitting on their thumbs ever since. But today Senate Republicans finally figured out that they should at least vote on something, so they did. Now they’re planning a parade for themselves. As The Huffington Post reports, don’t expect any more help from Congress anytime soon.

Via Vox.com (9/10/20)

 

It didn’t take long for Joe Biden’s campaign to produce an ad featuring President Trump’s own damning words about the coronavirus pandemic, in which Trump admits to lying to Americans about the severity of the problem:

The White House is absolutely flipping out trying to figure out how to spin this away for Trump.

 

As The Colorado Springs Independent reports, a much-maligned TV spot from Sen. Cory Gardner is getting more negative attention because of the embarrassingly-amateur effort that went behind creating a fake environmental group to give Gardner some credibility.

 

You won’t be surprised to learn that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sees his job as less of a public service and more of a Republican Party service. As CNN reports:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was on a mission. It was late February, and two vulnerable Republican senators facing voters this fall were pushing a bill that had generated opposition from conservatives but was important to their states — and their own reelections.

So on the morning of February 27, as Washington was coming to grips with the coronavirus, McConnell took Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Steve Daines of Montana to the White House where they made the case to Trump to get behind a public lands bill. Trump quickly got in line, and quipped to his budget chief, Russell Vought:

“Sorry, Russ,” according to sources familiar with the episode.

Four months later, McConnell set aside precious floor time and scheduled votes on the bill even though it was not on the radar for much of Washington, paving the way for its passage — and for Gardner and Daines to cut campaign ads touting the achievement.

“Not only was it the right thing to do from a good government point of view, but sure — it ought to help Cory and Steve, they did a lot of work on it,” McConnell told CNN this week.

In other words, the big public lands bill that Gardner loves to tout was not because of the Yuma Republican’s persistent work…but because he is in danger of losing his re-election bid in 2020. If you like your politics to be purely transactional, this should be right up your alley.

 

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the State Republican Party Chairman (or vice versa), is running a new fundraising ad that touts his support for NOT wearing a mask AND shooting a gun.

 

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

 

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Cory Gardner Enters the Pantheon of Dumbassery

When Republican Cory Gardner was running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Udall in 2014, his campaign came up with a couple of memorable — if completely disingenuous — television ads that presented the two-term Congressman as a cherubic ball of bipartisan ambition.

Gardner’s 2020 Senate re-election ads have been what we would charitably describe as “not as good,” and that includes his latest spot titled “Only One.” This ad is SO BAD, in fact, that it earns itself a place in the Colorado Pols Pantheon of Dumbassery, alongside Bob Beauprez’s horse’s ass (2006) and Walker Stapleton’s trash can (2018). When you put an ad on the air that makes the exact opposite point that you meant to establish, then you have earned your membership in this dubious club. For example, Beauprez’s infamous “horse’s ass” ad was intended to be a funny bit about how politicians deal with a lot of crap; instead, the lasting image was “Beauprez = horse’s ass.” Stapleton’s trash can ad tried to make a similar argument but failed for the same reason — the lasting impression you got from that spot was “Stapleton = trash.”

This new Gardner television spot, which you can see below, repeats the same attacks Gardner has been pushing for months regarding “ethics problems” for Gov. John Hickenlooper. But it is so poorly produced that it ends up looking like Gardner owns a Maserati sports car (maybe he does, but that’s probably not something you’d want to advertise to voters).

One of the cardinal rules of greenlighting a political ad is that you should watch it once with the sound off and once with only the sound playing; the idea is to help you catch something that might be out of place with your preferred message. Try it yourself — watch this ad without sound and you’ll see what we mean:
 


 

We understand what Gardner’s campaign is trying to do here, but they got too cute and it backfired. Gardner is supposed to be “cleaning the dirt” off of Hickenlooper’s fancy car, but the images are completely illogical for most people. No sane person washes someone else’s car by hand. Even at a quick glance, you immediately assume that this is Gardner’s car because you’ve seen this visual — rich white guy washing his expensive car — a thousand times in your life. Maybe the plan for Gardner’s next ad is to show the candidate drinking $1,000 bottles of champagne.

This blunder of an ad continues a troubling trend for Gardner’s campaign in 2020. Gardner’s first big TV spot of the cycle debuted in June and was immediately ridiculed by politicos on both sides of the aisle. This ad, titled “Delight” (?) by the Gardner campaign, showed Gardner pretending to be a psychiatrist listening to a television running clips of Hickenlooper saying he might not enjoy being a Senator. You probably just remember it for the balls of tissue tossed all over the place.

Cory Gardner’s “Kleenex Ad”

Last month the Gardner campaign rolled out a new spot titled “Beer,” in which Gardner inexplicably reminds voters that Hickenlooper is a former brewpub owner. The message is perfectly on-brand…for Hickenlooper. As we wrote in this space last month:

It’s a pretty solid rule of thumb that if you are talking about one of your opponent’s strengths — in this case, Hickenlooper’s long-spun tale as a brewmaster — then you are most definitely not winning.

And Gardner is most definitely not winning this race. Two recent polls show Hickenlooper maintaining a 9-point lead over Gardner, a consistent lead due in no small part to the fact that the Yuma Republican keeps pounding away on the same ineffective narrative over and over and over again.

As the saying goes (more or less), you can’t shine a turd. You can, however, shine a Maserati. Welcome to the Pantheon of Dumbassery, Cory.

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Written Off: Mitch McConnell Stiffs Cory Gardner Again

Mitch McConnell, Cory Gardner.

Colorado Public Radio’s Caitlyn Kim reports on the “skinny” coronavirus relief package unveiled by the Republican U.S. Senate majority yesterday–which, after months of delays and promises from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner alike, contains much, much less relief than the American economy needs:

The bill, titled Delivering Immediate Relief to America’s Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act, includes $105 billion for education, $16 billion for testing and contract tracing, $20 billion for farm assistance, and $15 billion for child care. The bill would continue the paycheck protection program, which lapsed last month, and send unemployed workers a weekly federal unemployment benefit of $300 — down from the $600 people were receiving until August. It also includes the main priority for Senate Leader Mitch McConnell — liability protection for businesses, schools, and others, in case people get sick from visiting or working on their premises.

It’s about half the cost of the bill Republicans unveiled at the end of July, and trillions less than the House-passed HEROES Act…

First of all, if you want a bill to succeed, never refer to it as the “skinny” bill. As we learned in the Affordable Care Act repeal debate, “skinny bill” is a marketing kiss of death. In this case, two critically important public-facing pieces of stimulus funding, direct aid to states whose budgets have been crushed by the economic downturn and payments to individual Americans which have helped buoy all-important consumer spending in addition to keeping millions of Americans fed and housed, are missing. AP reported Monday that the “skinny” bill left vulnerable Republican Senators like Cory Gardner of Colorado high and dry at the worst possible moment:

McConnell had been a force for a deal but does not appear eager to force a vote that exposes division in his ranks.

Many Senate Republicans are also wary or opposed outright to another major chunk of debt-financed virus relief, even as GOP senators imperiled in the election like Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado plead for more. [Pols emphasis]

As CPR reported yesterday, Gardner is all done pleading, and on to shining McConnell’s turd:

GOP Sen. Cory Gardner is calling on his colleagues from both sides of the aisle to support the bill.

“We have an opportunity to support out-of-work Americans, help small businesses, and provide critical resources to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Gardner said in a statement. “This bill is desperately needed and we must work together to move our country forward.”

But Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet said instead of playing political games, McConnell should come to the negotiating table “in earnest and support American families through this crisis.” Bennet said that McConnell had months to negotiate this next relief package to address “the scale of the public health crisis” and help struggling Coloradans, instead of McConnell “put forward a half measure that’s coming months too late for working families.”

By putting up a bill much smaller than Republicans’ own proposal from the end of July, McConnell has clearly given in to the hard-liners in his caucus over the needs of vulnerable swing-state Senators. Cory Gardner in particular has banked heavily–pun intended–on supporting every kind of economic stimulus measure, well beyond most Republicans, including a second round of direct payments and the full extended unemployment benefits that so many Republicans (including Gardner in front of conservative audiences) have disparaged as a “disincentive to work.”

The fight is not over, of course, and since this proposal is an obvious non-starter with Democrats we’ll have to see what if anything comes out of the next round of face-to-face negotiations. At the very least, though, Gardner has once again demonstrated his own irrelevance in terms of influencing policy among his fellow Senate Republicans. At worst, at least for Gardner personally, it’s a sign that Senate Republican leadership simply doesn’t consider keeping Gardner’s promises to voters a priority.

Which is what you do when you’ve consigned a loser to his fate.

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ATTN GOP: You Are Not Running Against Bernie & Romanoff

The NRSC wanted Andrew Romanoff, but they did not get him.

During the Democratic presidential primary, Republicans from President Donald Trump on down made no effort to conceal their desire to run against Sen. Bernie Sanders in the 2020 general elections–the theory, possibly with merit as Democrats will debate among themselves for evermore, being that Sanders’ hard-left platform would frighten American voters who were disgusted by Trump but not interested in radical change.

In the Democratic primary in Colorado, a similar dynamic played out–Republicans single-mindedly worked to boost underdog Andrew Romanoff in his race against moderate John Hickenlooper, even complaining bitterly about Romanoff’s inability to compete as it became clear the primary would not result in an upset. Key to that strategy was the effort to demoralize base Democrats by highlighting Romanoff’s support for progressive policy goals like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal–both of which Hickenlooper vociferously opposed in his abortive presidential campaign.

How have Republicans adjusted their strategy now that Joe Biden has reeled Democrats back to the Great American Center and John Hickenlooper walloped Green New Dealin’ Andrew Romanoff in the Senate primary?

Apparently they’re just pretending the primary didn’t happen:

GARDNER: People are learning more about what Joe Biden wants to do. He wants to destroy 250,000 oil and gas jobs in Colorado, just like John Hickenlooper. He wants to increase taxes on all Coloradans just like John Hickenlooper. He wants massive regulations and Green New Deals, just like John Hickenlooper, so… [Pols emphasis]

That’s Sen. Cory Gardner on KHOW AM radio a few weeks ago, flat-out fictionalizing Hickenlooper’s position on the Green New Deal–in effect substituting Hickenlooper’s name in the script written for Romanoff. Hickenlooper’s conspicuous lack of support for this litmus test issue for Democratic presidential candidates was a major point of contention in the Senate primary. But it’s more than that: Hickenlooper’s moderation on energy development is such a major part of his brand that Gardner’s contention damages Gardner’s own credibility on a very basic level.

Hickenlooper, as everyone who knows even a little about the man can tell you, does not support the Green New Deal. Plenty of our readers wish Hickenlooper did, but he doesn’t. That’s not Hickenlooper’s position today, and it wasn’t Hick’s position ten years ago. Hickenlooper is also not the climate denier he was painted to be by the left during the primary, and Colorado Democrats who handed Hickenlooper the nomination by a wide margin know that too. But it’s Republicans who seem unable to accept that Bernie Sanders and Andrew Romanoff are not going to be on the ballot in November, and Cory Gardner in particular doesn’t know what to say now that his desired opponent lost the primary.

It’s not Cory Gardner’s only bad sign, but it’s a bad sign.

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Diane Mitsch Bush and Alexis King Get More Smarter

Diane Mitsch Bush (left) and Alexis King

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, we have two great guests: Diane Mitsch Bush, Democratic candidate for Congress in CO-3, and Alexis King, Democratic candidate for District Attorney in Jefferson and Gilpin Counties. Make sure not to miss Mitsch Bush’s record-setting performance on our QAnon-based game, QDonkulous!

Your hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii also talk about Ken Buck’s fashion choices; Dudley Brown’s life choices; and another of many bad choices in general for Cory Gardner.

Catch up on previous episodes of The Get More Smarter Podcast 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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What Would You Like My Opinion to be Today?

Sen. Cory Gardner’s teeth.

Republican Sen. Cory Gardner continues to trail Democrat John Hickenlooper in the polls with two months to go until Election Day. According to new data from Morning Consult, Hickenlooper maintains a 9-point lead over Gardner, with an astounding 29-point advantage among Independent/Unaffiliated voters.

Gardner’s well-worn strategy of trying to be all things to all people doesn’t appear to be convincing many voters to back him for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Anyone who has followed Gardner’s political career is well aware of his penchant for changing his message depending on his audience; all politicians do this to some extent, but few are as blatant about it as Gardner.

Last weekend, Gardner was in Beaver Creek to take part in a COVID-19 panel discussion as part of the Steamboat Institute Freedom Conference Festival. Gardner vomited out an incredibly string of falsehoods to appeal to a conservative audience, including his belief that scientists were “politicizing” COVID-19 and that businesses were being forced to close their doors when competitors were allowed to stay open.

You can watch Gardner’s comments below, but we took the time to transcribe his remarks to give you a better sense of what Gardner is really saying about COVID-19 when he speaks in front of a right-wing audience (Gardner’s fellow panelists were two advisers to President Trump: Dr. Scott Atlas of the Hoover Institution and economist Arthur Laffer).

 

We’ll start with a question from moderator Hadley Heath Manning, who wanted the panel to comment on why the coronavirus response seems to have become so politically-charged. Here’s what Gardner said in response:

Colorado is a place where the work/life balance is what we live for, right? And we fight hard to work. We fight hard to live. And if we lose this economy — the damage will be catastrophic. Yes, we have a health crisis that we have to address and get through it, but we can’t do it while we tell people, Wal-Mart can be open, but you have to be closed.

I can’t tell you the number of people who came to me in tears [and said] I’ve been in business for 40 to 50 years. I’ve lost everything. But the business down the road that’s open? They do the same thing that I do and they’re fine. What have we done?

According to Gardner, the “government” is picking and choosing between competing businesses, allowing some stores to stay open while forcing others to close. It’s important to understand that Gardner isn’t talking about bars and restaurants versus other retailers; he’s saying that two different businesses that offer the same products are being treated differently. Gardner provides no evidence of this other than anecdotal conversations.

Cory Gardner in Beaver Creek last weekend.

Gardner then pivots to another deeply-irresponsible and unproven allegation: That scientists and health professionals are telling Americans that the dangers of COVID-19 are different depending on your political preferences:

You want to talk about trust? Trust is when you hear health experts say, that, ‘I don’t agree with what you’re doing because it’s against the health rules.’ [Turns head as if talking to someone else] ‘But what you’re doing is just fine, because it agrees with me philosophically and politically.’ That destroys trust, and when we’re trying to base things on science, and the same scientists come up and say, ‘Well, if you were just of this political belief, you’d be okay.’ Because to me, and to many Americans, that’s what the message seemed to be for a very long time. That’s not right. That’s not fair. And that…kinda…has to stop. [AUDIENCE APPLAUSE]

What? Gardner says that “scientists” are telling the American people, “If you were just of this political belief, you’d be okay.” Who is saying this? When? Where?

From here, Gardner insinuates rather clearly that the coronavirus pandemic is some sort of political conspiracy — just before he accuses OTHER people of politicizing the virus:

This is something that I am passionate about, because I have more and more people come to me — my 8-year-old came to me and said, ‘Dad, I know when the pandemic ends.’ And I said, ‘You do?’ And he says, ‘Yes, the day after the election.’

Now, he picked that up somewhere or he heard that somewhere, or maybe mom and dad were talking too much around him. This is a serious crisis. A serious pandemic that created a serious economic crisis. We can’t have people toy with it on the national news for their own agendas or outcomes for November 3rd.

This is classic Gardner obfuscation. First he implies that COVID-19 will go away after the November election and then he immediately states that the coronavirus is “a serious pandemic that created a serious economic crisis.” Seriously?

 

(more…)

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