Sen. Michael Bennet: William Perry Pendley’s Gotta Go

Acting BLM Director William Perry Pendley.

Chase Woodruff reports for Colorado Newsline, who we hope you’ve included in your daily news browsing:

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and all 47 of his Democratic colleagues in the U.S. Senate are urging the removal of William Perry Pendley from his leadership post at the Bureau of Land Management, following the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw the conservative firebrand’s formal nomination to lead the public-lands agency.

A former head of the Lakewood-based Mountain States Legal Foundation, Pendley has led the BLM since being tapped by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a Colorado native and former oil lobbyist, to a senior role at the agency in July 2019. Pendley remains in charge despite the withdrawal of his nomination; while he has not been officially designated as the BLM’s acting director, he has been assigned leadership powers in his role as its deputy director of policy and programs — a tactic that has drawn criticism from congressional Democrats and lawsuits from environmental groups.

In an Aug. 20 letter to Bernhardt, Bennet and his fellow Senate Democrats called on the Interior Secretary to remove Pendley, who has come under fire for a range of controversial views, including his past support for the privatization of public lands, climate change denial and comments comparing undocumented immigrants to cancer.

The withdrawal of acting Bureau of Land Management director William Perry Pendley’s nomination to be confirmed formally by the U.S. Senate, in any rational universe, should have meant the immediate end of Pendley’s acting directorship. That Pendley continues to serve after his nomination was pulled is not a victory for Senate oversight–the Senate’s oversight is being thwarted every day he continues to serve.

Even Sen. Cory Gardner claimed he would have “tough questions” for Pendley in the confirmation hearings about Pendley’s career-long support for liquidating public lands–just the tip of the iceberg of Pendley’s unpalatable record on a wide range of issues. Shouldn’t Gardner be just as angry as Sen. Michael Bennet, now that he doesn’t get to ask those questions but Pendley continues to direct policy at the BLM?

Per usual, Cory Gardner’s inaction speaks louder than his words.

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Cory Gardner Has Nothing Left to Say

Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is up with a new re-election ad today that probably won’t do much to alter his seemingly-inevitable path to defeat at the hands of former Gov. John Hickenloooper.

Gardner’s latest TV spot, which you can view below, continues on his 2020 theme of commercials that are, frankly, pretty dumb. In this ad, Gardner reminds voters (for some inexplicable reason) that Hickenlooper is a former brew pub owner. The implication is that Hickenlooper is the kind of candidate that you could “have a beer with,” which is not usually something that you want to say about your opponent. But Gardner also makes sure to tell voters that he, too, enjoys beer. Neat!

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh would be proud.

 

We’re not exaggerating — this is really how Gardner’s new ad begins.

“Let’s get down to some real differences between me, and John Hickenlooper,” says Gardner. “First, Hickenlooper owns a brewery. And me? I just like beer.”

Uh, okay.

Cory Gardner with his true beverage of choice.

At least Gardner doesn’t go so far as to point out how Hickenlooper’s brew-pub developments have been a big success in cites like Colorado Springs (Gardner’s ad was shot at Bourbon Brothers Tavern in Colorado Springs).

After Gardner reaches for his glass of beer, the ad then cuts to a few shots of Hickenlooper previously claiming that he wouldn’t really like to be a U.S. Senator. Gardner’s campaign is convinced that this is a winning message, nevermind that IT DIDN’T WORK when they tried it back in June. But that was, like, two whole months ago, amiright?

This vapid advertisement might also be an effort to get ahead of negative ads that are surely coming to a television near you at some point: Highlighting Gardner’s attendance at a $1,000-per-bottle Krug champagne soiree in Palm Beach, Florida back in February.

But, but, Cory likes (light) beer!

Whatever the reasons behind this ad, history suggests that Gardner is now firmly on the road to defeat in November. We’re reminded of this (RIP) Rocky Mountain News column from Mike Littwin during the final days of the 2003 Denver Mayoral race:

You can see Don Mares’ problem.

You can see it, in fact, all weekend if you turn on your TV and watch Mares’ belated entry into the world of political humor.

In Mares’ final campaign ad, he’s the one sliding the mug of badly drawn beer across the bar. “I don’t know much about beer,” he is saying, as the mug crashes, off camera, to the floor…

…And yet, in the end, what the ad mainly accomplishes is to reinforce the Hickenlooper phenomenon.

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.

This is the sort of ad that you make when you are teetering on the edges of a double-digit loss and you simply have nothing left to say to argue your case for re-election.

This is quintessentially Cory Gardner.

 

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Hickenlooper: 51%, Gardner: 42%

As Jon Murray reports for The Denver Post:

These are pretty consistent numbers for Hickenlooper that track with what we’ve been hearing on the race. A previous poll announced just after the Primary Election on July 1 showed Hickenlooper with a 51-40 margin over Gardner. The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and Gardner’s campaign have been on a heavy anti-Hickenlooper ad blitz ever since, and it appears they have barely been able to dent Hickenlooper’s previous lead.

If the PPP/GiffordsCourage poll cited above is accurate, that 7% undecided number should be freaking out Team Gardner; it essentially means that Gardner would need to run the table with undecided voters in order to even get close to Hickenlooper by November 3. The NRSC no doubt sees similar internal numbers, which would logically mean that Gardner will continue to be left off the list of endangered Senate Republicans getting big help from national Republican groups.

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The Western Slope Isn’t Irrelevant–Club 20 Is

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

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports on the continuing decline of Club 20–a Western Slope county-based boosterism group whose annual conference was once a regular stop for candidates in election years, but lost relevance as the group’s internal politics skewed right:

The Democrat in the race for the 3rd Congressional District, Diane Mitsch Bush, is the latest to announce that she’s not planning to attend the Sept. 19 candidate debates during the Western Slope advocacy group’s annual fall conference…

Mitsch Bush is the second biggest named candidate to decline attending after former Gov. John Hickenlooper turned down Club 20’s invitation last month, mirroring what now Gov. Jared Polis did in his 2018 gubernatorial bid.

The two aren’t alone. Seth Cagin, the Democratic challenger to Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, for House District 58, also said he won’t attend, saying there’s nothing to benefit…

Back in 2018, now-Gov. Jared Polis’ decision to skip the Club 20 conference was greeted with ominous handwringing from the local pundit class. But despite the warnings that this “affront to the Western Slope” would hurt Polis in the general election, the results in 2018 only helped demonstrate that Club 20’s influence as an organization is on the wane.

In 2020, it’s just a reality to accept:

“The group has been in a serious decline for some time because of their old politics,” [Pols emphasis] [Mesa County Democratic Party vice-chair Scott] Beilfuss said. “While it’s easy for Front Range candidates to swing by and kiss the ring, there is rarely anything of consequence that comes out of their meetings.”

The one thing we will say in Club 20’s favor this year is that for the first time ever, the political debates that do take place at their annual conference will actually be livestreamed so what happens inside the room might possibly be learned about by those, you know, outside it. That’s a positive development, but with so many other ways candidates have to directly reach voters in every part of the state, there’s just no reason to treat this organization as some kind of regional gatekeeper. There hasn’t been in years.

If candidates want to stump at Club 20, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s fine too.

Either way, it’s just another club.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 25)

Happy Liberation Day to all of our francophile friends. 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 Republican National Convention kicked off on Monday with a lot of anger and bluster. The big story of the RNC is more about what’s missing — like previous Republican elected officials (such as former President George W. Bush) and a party platform. That’s right! Republicans literally don’t have a party platform in 2020. Nothing. Nada.

As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, the public portion of the RNC got off to quite the “culty” start:

It has now become widely accepted that President Trump has essentially hollowed out the Republican Party and turned it into little more than a personality cult. But no level of appreciation of this state of affairs could possibly have prepared us for what we’re witnessing at the GOP convention.

What was truly striking about the convention’s first night, in addition to the widely expected parade of white grievance we’re seeing, is the sheer unbridled messianism that’s been on display.

In this telling, Trump’s performance as president hasn’t just been infallible on every front, though of course it has been that. His personal qualities, too, have been a divine gift to the nation, one that should keep us bowed in deep reverence and thankfulness at all times.

Check out this example provided by Sargent of an “elderly nursing supervisor” speaking directly to Dear Leader Trump:

I am so in awe of your leadership. Honestly, I know many people have said often interesting things, but it takes a true leader to be able to ignore all that stuff and do what is right, and not be offended by all the words being said.

Uh…yeah. As CNN’s Chris Cillizza concludes:

Monday night’s festivities were a remarkable demonstration of how the Republican Party at this moment is less a collection of like-minded people gathered around a set of common principles and much more a cult of personality built around the man one GOP delegate called “Donald J. President.” Virtually every speaker — Sen. Tim Scott was a notable exception — dedicated at least some chunk of their speech to fawning praise of the President, often in terms that would make the average person blush.

Colorado Congressman/State Party Chairman Ken Buck stuck to the script from the beginning, praising the Trump administration because “they’ve protected us from a worldwide pandemic.” Just for reference, there have been nearly 6 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States and nearly 180,000 deaths. So, yeah, bang up job!

 

New coronavirus cases are down in Colorado for the fourth straight week, but the virus continues to rage around the country. Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly is concerned about “an alarming trend” in cases in Kansas; at least one person has now tested positive for COVID-19 in every county in the state.

 

We’ve discussed in this space the disgusting political tactics used by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who is pretending to run a bill protecting pre-existing medical conditions even though his entire career has been about eliminating things like pre-existing medical conditions. 9News dismantled all of this in a must-watch “Truth Test” on Friday.

The Colorado Times Recorder has more on the yacht-sized loopholes in Gardner’s bill.

 

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

 

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The Story of the RNC: Everybody Who ISN’T There

UPDATE: On the subject of things that don’t exist at the RNC 2020, you can now include “a party platform.” The Republican Party stands for Trump…and that’s about it.

Via the Republican National Committee

Tim Alberta of POLITICO has more on how the Republican Party is no longer about anything:

I decided to call Frank Luntz. Perhaps no person alive has spent more time polling Republican voters and counseling Republican politicians than Luntz, the 58-year-old focus group guru. His research on policy and messaging has informed a generation of GOP lawmakers. His ability to translate between D.C. and the provinces—connecting the concerns of everyday people to their representatives in power—has been unsurpassed. If anyone had an answer, it would be Luntz.

“You know, I don’t have a history of dodging questions. But I don’t know how to answer that. There is no consistent philosophy,” Luntz responded. “You can’t say it’s about making America great again at a time of Covid and economic distress and social unrest. It’s just not credible.”

Luntz thought for a moment. “I think it’s about promoting—” he stopped suddenly. “But I can’t, I don’t—” he took a pause. “That’s the best I can do.”

When I pressed, Luntz sounded as exasperated as the student whose question I was relaying. “Look, I’m the one guy who’s going to give you a straight answer. I don’t give a shit—I had a stroke in January, so there’s nothing anyone can do to me to make my life suck,” he said. “I’ve tried to give you an answer and I can’t do it. You can ask it any different way. But I don’t know the answer. For the first time in my life, I don’t know the answer.” [Pols emphasis]

—–

The Republican National Convention officially got underway today with a rousing display of fist-shaking anger. This message from a Louisiana delegate should give you a good idea of the general tone for the week:

In case the video doesn’t work for you, the gentleman from Louisiana says, “Joe Biden is hiding in the dark, waiting to take the lives of our unborn babies.”

And, we’re off!

Colorado was represented early by Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the State Republican Party Chairman (or vice-versa). Buck had some very nice things to say about an imaginary White House:

 

Buck’s revisionist history might be the only words you hear from notable Colorado Republicans. The RNC lineup of speakers does include some odd choices, such as the St. Louis, MO couple — Mark and Patricia McCloskey — who got in trouble in June for waving guns at Black Lives Matter protestors, but not a lot of other recognizable names from the GOP’s recent past.

Mark and Patricia McCloskey

As Amber Phillips writes for The Washington Post, perhaps the most notable part of the RNC schedule is about who is NOT participating:

Not speaking for the second time at a convention nominating Trump is the only living past Republican president, George W. Bush — a break from tradition. (All three past Democratic presidents offered remarks at that party’s convention last week.)

We also won’t see a ton of Republican senators and House lawmakers who are running for reelection in potentially competitive races. Republican senators running for reelection from swing states for both the White House and the Senate — such as Colorado, Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia and Maine — won’t be making an appearance to speak on behalf of Trump.

That means Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) will not be making an official appearance. Gardner is tight with Trump, but that’s not really a winning message these days. As Phillips continues:

…many of these lawmakers are facing a difficult political reality in which Trump’s popularity is sinking in their states, largely because of concerns about how the president and his administration have failed to get the novel coronavirus pandemic under control. Voters also give the president poor marks on his handling of racial relations, which is unhelpful to senators representing increasingly diverse suburbs, especially in Southern states.

The conclusion is not to speak prominently at the president’s convention, which would almost certainly make it to their Democratic challengers’ TV ads. The one exception to this is Sen. Joni Ernst (R) in Iowa, who is in Republican leadership and facing a tough reelection but has apparently calculated that speaking will help her.

Normally these senators could use campaigning as an excuse for not being able to make it to the convention. But since it’s a convention where video feeds will be the norm, that excuse doesn’t work.

The rest of the lineup of speakers for the 2020 RNC is heavy on people named “Trump” and light on pretty much everyone else. Donald Trump, Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, headline the speaking lineup for Monday; First Lady Melania Trump will speak on Tuesday, as will Trump offspring Eric Trump and Tiffany Trump; on Wednesday we’ll hear from Lara Trump, Eric Trump’s wife; and on Thursday First Daughter Ivanka Trump will introduce The Big Orange Guy himself.

Thursday won’t be the first appearance for President Trump, however; he’s literally going to speak every day of the convention, which is fairly unusual for a Presidential candidate in general. Of course, it’s also unusual — and possibly illegal — for a President to accept his party’s nomination from the grounds of the White House.

We’ll keep you updated if any Colorado politicos make noise at the RNC this week, but it appears that the plan for most is to stay as far away from Trump as possible.

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Truth Test Plus: 9NEWS Blows Up More Than Gardner’s Record

UPDATE: Let the word go forth: “That is actually horse excrement.”

9NEWS’ Kyle Clark is referring to Cory Gardner’s pre-existing conditions bill (below), but t seems to us this could find its way into an awful lot of content.

—–

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Friday evening, 9NEWS ran a “Truth Test” fact check of a recent ad from Chuck Schumer-connected PAC Majority Forward targeting Sen. Cory Gardner’s record on health care, specifically Gardner’s numerous votes in the U.S. House and Senate to terminate the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that insurance companies cover patients with pre-existing conditions–a provision which despite the decade-long war by the GOP against “Obamacare” has remained so popular that not even Donald Trump himself dared to threaten it as Republicans tried and failed to repeal the ACA in 2017.

With respect to Gardner’s many votes to repeal the ACA with no provision to protect patients with pre-existing conditions, there’s really nothing more than this to say:

BOTTOM LINE: Yes, Gardner has a voting history to weaken the Affordable Care Act, including coverage for those with preexisting conditions. [Pols emphasis] However, voters should have known that when they elected him in 2014 in the first place.

This year, we do expect Gardner’s record on health care to factor more strongly in voters’ thinking than in the GOP wave midterm of 2014–but despite what Gardner says now, it’s true that nobody can deny he has repeatedly voted to do away with protection for Americans with pre-existing medical conditions. It was true in 2014, too.

Although this fact-check substantially validates the basic contention in the ad, which is that Cory Gardner has repeatedly voted against protections for patients with pre-existing conditions,  the more important takeaway from this story is Zelinger’s look at legislation recently introduced with tremendous hype by Sen. Gardner in order to rebut accusations based on his record–S. 4506, “To ensure coverage of pre-existing conditions under private health insurance, and for other purposes.”

The bill text is eight lines long, when you open it in pdf form

It does require insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions, it just doesn’t require an insurance company to take you on in the first place. [Pols emphasis]

“In order to truly protect people who are sick with preexisting conditions, you have to be willing to strictly regulate insurance companies and provide the kind of funding that would keep the insurance market stable. And this bill from Sen. Gardner falls well short of providing comprehensive protections for people with preexisting conditions,” said Larry Levitt, vice president of Kaiser Family Foundation.

Because this legislation is in its most charitable reading redundant to the ACA’s much stronger and more explicit protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, all Gardner has really done with this attempt at a diversion is highlight his many failed attempts to enable exactly what this bill is supposed to prevent. But because under a more thorough examination the absurdly short bill Gardner took days to release the text of turns out to contain a glaring loophole that insurance companies could exploit to deny patients with pre-existing conditions coverage to begin with, it’s even worse for Gardner. Either he knows his bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or he’s that clueless. Either way, it’s a fig leaf over a record no one can honestly dispute.

The truth of Gardner’s worthless bill, a sidebar in this fact check, is something every voter should know.

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Loopholes in Gardner Bill Allow Denial of Coverage to Those With Pre-Existing Conditions

(In other words, this “bill” is worthless — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) is claiming that legislation he introduced this month “would guarantee Coloradans with pre-existing conditions have health insurance coverage protections.”

In fact, his bill does not provide such protections due to multiple loopholes that insurance companies would use to avoid covering people with pre-existing medical conditions, say experts and journalists who’ve reviewed Gardner’s legislation.

The loopholes that insurance companies would exploit are currently closed due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which protects people with pre-existing conditions.

But if the ACA were repealed, Gardner’s bill wouldn’t stop health insurance companies from again using common strategies for denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions that they used before the law was passed, say experts and fact-checkers.

“Big picture, [Gardner’s] bill does include some protections, but when you open up loopholes for insurance companies to avoid covering people with pre-existing conditions, they will take advantage of them,” said Sabrina Corlette, who directs the Center on Health Insurance Reforms (CHIR) at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.

“Effectively, there is no protection at all,” said Corlette.

Corlette outlined four of the loopholes or issues involved in Gardner’s bill in a telephone call with the Colorado Times Recorder.

Denial Based on Health Status

“The biggest, and most glaring is that under this bill there is nothing to prevent an insurance company from just denying you a policy outright,” said Corlette.

“Before the Affordable Care Act, if you were applying for insurance, typically you’d be asked to fill out a health questionnaire, and you’d also have to check a box or say that you would allow the company to go back through your medical history. There’s nothing to prevent the company from doing that under this bill and then saying, ‘We’re not going to issue you a policy. Go somewhere else. If we don’t think you’re an insurable person, we won’t cover you.'”

Insurance Policies Designed for Healthy People

A second loophole in Gardner’s bill would allow insurance companies to design policies that don’t cover people with specific diseases or conditions, said Corlette.

“Prior to the passage of the ACA, insurance companies would design policies that would only work for healthy people,” explained Corlette. “They would do this, for example, by designing a policy that doesn’t cover drugs needed for specific diseases, like HIV/AIDS or hemophilia or cystic fibrosis.

“There’s nothing in the bill that restricts [insurance companies’] ability to design a benefit package that attracts only healthy people.”

Coverage, Yes, As Long As It’s Not Too Expensive

Third loophole: Gardner’s bill would allow insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions but not pay for their care if it got too expensive.

Before the ACA, if you had an expensive medical condition (systic fibrosis, organ transplant, hemophilia), you would hit annual or lifetime caps on your benets. So you’d be left paying with your own money.

“The ACA prohibited those [benefit caps], and this bill does not address that,” said Sabrina. “So, if a plan stated, ‘We’ll cover a full plate of benefits but after $100,000, you’re out of luck,’ it would be allowed. Well, if you have hemophilia, that means this policy isn’t going to do you much good. There are conditions that require a million dollars per year for treatment.”

Incentives to Cover the Healthy

The ACA, Corlette says, incentivized insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, and Gardner’s bill does nothing to keep those incentives in place.

“The ACA included risk-management programs that essentially tried to change incentives for insurance companies to manage risk, instead of avoid it. Bottom line, it tried to shift rules of the game so that insurance companies could take people with heart disease or diabetes, for example, and manage their care in such a way as to be a financial win for them.”

“If the ACA is repealed those incentive programs go away, and so insurance companies to a large degree are going to revert to the days when they win by avoiding risk entirely.”

Gardner Hasn’t Addressed Criticism of His Bill

Gardner did not return a call asking if he sees any problematic loopholes in his proposed law.

The senator has insisted for years that he supports requirements that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions–even as he’s voted multiple times against the ACA, which protects people with pre-existing conditions.

His bill appears to be intended to be part of his response to his critics.

But while he may point to it as a symbol of his stance on the issue, it’s not convincing analysts or journalists that it will make a substantive difference for people with pre-existing conditions, if the ACA is repealed.

Denver’s NBC affiliate, 9News, quoted Larry Levitt, vice president of Kaiser Family Foundation, as saying Gardner’s bill “is missing certain words that requires insurance companies to take anyone.”

9News anchor Kyle Clark was more blunt, calling the bill “horse excrement.”

9News’ Marshall Zellinger reported that Gardner didn’t respond to his requests for an interview.

So it appears Gardner’s only comment on the bill is contained in a news release distributed Aug. 7 when the bill’s title, without any text, was released.

“My bill is simple – it guarantees coverage for people who have pre-existing medical conditions and ensures that people cannot be charged more because of a pre-existing condition,” said Gardner in a news release. “I will continue to fight for pre-existing condition protections as well as measures to lower health care costs, strengthen innovation, and expand access for all Coloradans, including those with pre-existing medical conditions.”

Over 2 million Coloradans have pre-existing conditions, according to one report.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (August 21)

Today is National Senior Citizens Day AND National Spumoni 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 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 

 

Former Vice President Joe Biden is now officially the Democratic nominee for President in 2020. Biden accepted the Democratic nomination in an emotional speech on Thursday night from his home base in Wilmington, Delaware. Dana Milbank of The Washington Post hits on a theme that seemed to be picked up everywhere in media coverage of the last night of the Democratic National Convention — Biden’s humanity:

President Trump has tried every dirty trick in the book — and a few new ones — to cast doubts about the workings of Joe Biden’s brain. But Trump has been focusing on entirely the wrong organ. Biden’s appeal is from the heart.

The Democratic presidential nominee, in the most crucial speech of his long career in public service, had no problem clearing the low bar Trump had set. The evening began with a clip of Biden quoting Kierkegaard and ended with him quoting the Irish poet Seamus Heaney.

But the power of Biden’s acceptance speech — and the power of his candidacy — was in its basic, honest simplicity. The rhetoric wasn’t soaring. The delivery was workmanlike (he botched an Ella Baker quote in his opening line). But it was warm and decent, a soothing, fireside chat for this pandemic era, as we battle twin crises of disease and economic collapse and we only see each other disembodied in boxes on a screen. Biden spoke not to his political base but to those who have lost loved ones to the virus.

While Biden was preparing to deliver his acceptance speech, President Trump was spouting some ridiculous nonsense at a Pennsylvania rally before being interviewed by Sean Hannity of Fox News. Chris Cillizza of CNN looks at some of Trump’s more absurd statements on Fox News.

Elsewhere in Biden news, POLITICO takes an early look at a potential Biden cabinet.

 

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday and exclaimed that it was “outrageous” that anyone would accuse him of trying to hamper voter turnout this fall. Amber Phillips of The Washington Post breaks down 5 big takeaways from DeJoy’s testimony today.

DeJoy will speak to the House Oversight Committee on Monday.

 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is (sorta) speaking up about the dangers of QAnon candidates in the Republican Party. McCarthy is facing questions about his continued role leading the GOP caucus after some members accused him of not doing enough to stop the candidacy of QAnon lover Marjorie Taylor Greene in Georgia. Appearing on Fox News on Thursday, McCarthy took a stronger stance, as The Hill reports:

“Let me be very clear,” McCarthy told Fox News. “There is no place for QAnon in the Republican Party. I do not support it and the candidate you talked about has denounced it.”

Greene also came under fire after videos emerged of her making bigoted remarks and questioning whether a plane crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11, comments she later walked back.

A number of GOP lawmakers have expressed concerns that Greene’s comments and association with QAnon could stain the party’s image and potentially have a negative effect on vulnerable members’ races this year.

McCarthy emphasized Thursday that Greene has distanced herself from the QAnon theory and deserves a chance to prove herself once elected to the deep-red district. [Pols emphasis]

Greene has only pretended to back away from her support for QAnon. Here in Colorado, Republican congressional candidate Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert has made half-hearted attempts to “distance” herself from QAnon, only to continue to repeat some of their most-trafficked conspiracy theories.

 

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

 

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Republicans Desperately Need New Talking Points Against Hick

Generic target of generic talking points.

Former GOP state Rep. Mark Hillman’s career in public office may have sputtered out in the bush leagues of the state legislature, but he continues to lob spitwads into the marketplace of ideas via whatever opportunities are afforded him by local media and sympathetic partisan outlets kind enough to republish him. Yesterday, Hillman wrote in the Aurora Sentinel that rural Coloradans like himself are not into this John Hickenlooper character one bit:

This year has no doubt been a tumultuous one for citizens in Colorado and across the country. Some issues (like a particularly bitter election cycle compounded by a global pandemic and endless protests) are new. Others (like a government that shows little regard for rural communities and citizens) are all too familiar for citizens living east of the Front Range.

Many rural Coloradans believe we’re not being heard by our elected officials and John Hickenlooper has not done much to change our mind.

The former governor recently chose to skip the Club 20 gathering of Western Slope organizations. Hickenlooper seems to think that it’s unfair to have to stand up and be held accountable for taking policy positions which could prove ruinous to Western Slope communities. He’d rather not look into the eyes of the folks he knows will be jobless if he wins. This guilt may explain why Hickenlooper has not graced the Eastern Plains with his presence either…

As readers know, Hickenlooper wasn’t the first Democratic candidate to determine that Club 20 isn’t representative enough of the Western Slope to kowtow to. We could take a further gratuitous opportunity to point out that politicians who want to win elections go where the people are, and on the Western Slope and Eastern Plains of the state, there just aren’t that many people–but it’s not necessary to be rude. Former Gov. Hickenlooper will certainly get out to the hinterlands between now and November. Especially in the middle of a pandemic, this feeble and premature complaint doesn’t hold water.

He’d rather not look into the eyes of the folks he knows will be jobless if he wins. [Pols emphasis]

This particular line, though, is where Hillman goes definitively off the rails. It’s a regular allegation from Colorado Republicans that Democrats are out to “destroy the oil and gas industry in Colorado.” But if there’s any Democrat in the state to whom that label does not stick, it’s John Hickenlooper. After the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) piled on in support of Hickenlooper’s primary opponent over Hickenlooper’s less-than-hostile relationship with the oil and gas industry as governor, Republicans can’t just pivot 180 degrees and claim that Hickenlooper is going to destroy that same industry.

Well actually, of course they can–it’s ridiculous, that’s all. It’s the same dilemma faced by Sen. Cory Gardner, who has stuck to his script of bashing “socialist Democrats” even after Hickenlooper, who ran for President despite much criticism on a platform of “I’m not a socialist,” became Gardner’s opponent. As much as Hickenlooper irritated ideologue Democrats during his presidential run and to some extent the Democratic U.S. Senate primary with his contrarian branding, these pre-scripted talking points from Republicans against “socialism” simply don’t work against Hick in the general election.

They’re talking about somebody, but not John Hickenlooper.

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The GMS Podcast: Cardboard Cory and QAnon Madness

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast

We interview filmmaker Nick Rosen about his new Cardboard Cory documentary and check in with journalist Erik Maulbetsch of The Colorado Times Recorder about a QAnon rally in Denver.

Also, we talk Kamala Harris as the VP pick; we find Sen. Cory Gardner writing empty bills and advertising everywhere but in Colorado; we update the GOP’s war against the post office; check Lauren Boebert’s arrest records, and so much more.

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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Get More Smarter on Thursday (August 20)

Happy World Mosquito Day! Wait…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.

 

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 actual President of the United States of America has now essentially endorsed the QAnon conspiracy theories. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN:

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump did something incredibly dangerous.

Asked by a reporter about QAnon, a conspiracy group that has been labeled a potential domestic terrorism threat by the FBI, Trump said this:

“Well, I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate. But I don’t know much about the movement. I have heard that it is gaining in popularity and from what I hear it’s — these are people that — they watch the streets of Portland — when they watch what happened in New York City in just the last six or seven months, but this was starting even four years ago when I came here. Almost four years, can you believe it?

“These are people that don’t like seeing what’s going on in places like Portland, and places like Chicago, and New York and other cities and states. And I’ve heard these are people that love our country and they just don’t like seeing it.”

…The President of the United States has now said that he thinks a group of violent conspiracy theorists are “people who love our country” and are a sort of antidote to the protests and violence in major cities in the country.

It’s stunning — even for Trump. And it’s extremely dangerous because it emboldens people who have already shown a willingness to act on their wild conspiracy theories in violent ways.

If this doesn’t concern you, then you should be aware of Trump’s endorsement of Florida Republican congressional candidate Laura Loomer. If THAT doesn’t concern you…well, then enjoy your day.

 

Private fundraising efforts to collect enough money to help “build the wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border have turned out to be a giant scam, with help from a couple of notable names in Colorado. Steve Bannon, who was President Trump’s chief political strategist, is among those who have been indicted in the scheme. This leads us to another headline today from The Washington Post:

Via The Washington Post (8/20/20)

On the topic of a border wall, here’s a fun old post for #ThrowbackThursday.

 

The editorial board of The New York Times cuts straight to the point:

Via The New York Times (8/20/20)

 

Vote! Vote! Vote! As The Associated Press explains, Democrats are hammering home a simple message this week at the Democratic National Convention:

Former President Barack Obama warned that American democracy could falter if President Donald Trump is reelected, a stunning rebuke of his successor that was echoed by Kamala Harris at the Democratic Convention as she embraced her historic role as the first Black woman on a national political ticket.

Obama, himself a barrier breaker as the nation’s first Black president, pleaded with voters Wednesday night to “embrace your own responsibility as citizens — to make sure that the basic tenets of our democracy endure. Because that’s what is at stake right now. Our democracy.”

Throughout their convention, the Democrats have summoned a collective urgency about the dangers of Trump as president. In 2016, they dismissed and sometimes trivialized him. Now they are casting him as an existential threat to the country. The tone signals anew that the fall campaign between Trump and Joe Biden, already expected to be among the most negative of the past half-century, will be filled with rancor and recrimination.

Yet on the third night of the Democrats’ four-day convention, party leaders also sought to put forward a cohesive vision of their values and policy priorities, highlighting efforts to combat climate change and tighten gun laws. They drew a sharp contrast with Trump, portraying him as cruel in his treatment of immigrants, disinterested in the nation’s climate crisis and in over his head on virtually all of the nation’s most pressing challenges.

This big news from Wednesday night at the DNC was Kamala Harris’s acceptance of the nomination for Vice President and former President Obama’s complete dismantling of Trump. The DNC’s virtual week winds up tonight with Joe Biden’s acceptance speech for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

 

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

 

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Rick Scott’s Pitch For Cory Gardner Is Terrifying

Sen. Rick Scott of Florida has always struck us as an unusual public figure to say the least, mostly because he looks and talks like a perfect combination of Batboy and Marshall Applewhite:

We’re not sure who exactly Scott is supposed to appeal to. Nonetheless he wins elections in Florida.

This video of Rick Scott delivering a fundraising pitch for Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is hard to watch even by Scott’s ghoulish standards. Terrible quality video and audio is nonetheless dreadfully overproduced, complete with an upbeat music track playing much too loudly. Rick Scott should never be filmed with consumer-grade equipment, because let’s face it–he barely looks human on a good day. Watching this video, we keep wondering when the alien in the Rick Scott suit is going to, you know, pop out.

Here’s hoping Scott raises Gardner big money, because no swing voters will be coming on board from this.

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Fate of Obamacare to be Decided…After Election Day

UPDATE: Gardner’s nonsense bill about pre-existing medical conditions doesn’t even work anyway:

—–

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner (R) want to dismantle the ACA, but not before Election Day — because voters wouldn’t like it.

President Trump, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) and many other Republican elected officials have long campaigned on dismantling the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was signed into law by then-President Barack Obama a little more than 10 years ago. Legislative efforts to dismantle the ACA have failed (thanks, John McCain!), so Republicans are now hoping to kill Obamacare through a lawsuit that will be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court.

As CNBC reports, the highest court in the land will indeed hear the case against the ACA…but not until AFTER the November election:

The Supreme Court announced on Wednesday that it will hear arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of the landmark health care legislation known as Obamacare on Nov. 10, one week after Election Day.

A decision in the case, which could disrupt the health care coverage of tens of millions of Americans, is expected by June of 2021.

The announcement comes in the middle of the Democratic National Convention, which has featured criticism of the president’s muddled health care promises, and could provide a boost to liberal efforts to target Trump on the issue.

But the move to hear the case after Election Day also pulls the notoriously opaque Supreme Court out of the electoral spotlight somewhat, ensuring that the arguments themselves will not influence November’s contest.

Opposing the ACA served Trump well in 2016 and was the driving narrative behind Gardner’s 2014 Senate campaign. But in recent years Americans have consistently expressed support for the ACA (most recently by a 51-36 margin), which puts Republican candidates in a difficult position in 2020 — and no doubt played a role in convincing the courts to wait until after the election to hear the case. In Colorado, for example, Republican congressional candidate Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert is so worried about how the issue plays in CO-3 that her campaign won’t even answer questions about whether or not she supports the ACA lawsuit.

Gardner also does not like to answer questions about this lawsuit or his general opposition to the ACA, despite voting dozens of times to eliminate the ACA or its various protections. Gardner affirmed his support for the ACA lawsuit just a few months ago, though he comically ducked six different questions on the subject in a July interview with Ryan Warner of Colorado Public Radio. Gardner is now trying to inject life into his struggling re-election campaign by introducing a one-sentence bill in the U.S. Senate meant to convince voters that he actually does support things like protections for people with pre-existing conditions (just last month, The Washington Post fact-checked Gardner’s claim that he supports protecting pre-existing medical conditions as false, with its highest nonsense rating of “Four Pinnochios”).

Gardner’s new pre-existing conditions bill is an effort to allow him to look like he’s doing something on the issue, even though there is no chance his bill goes anywhere before Election Day. But actually doing something isn’t the point, just like actually destroying the ACA through the Supreme Court isn’t as important as telling your base that you want it to happen.

Meanwhile, Gardner’s opponent in the Senate race, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, released a new ad today highlighting his work to ensure health care coverage for 500,000 Coloradans. Hickenlooper talks about what he did do to help Coloradans with health care, while Gardner can only discuss what he might do differently. It’s not a hard choice for voters.

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Gardner Proposal On Pre-Existing Conditions Looks Like a Political Maneuver, Say Experts

(If it walks like a duck… — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)

U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) says repeatedly that he wants to protect people with pre-existing conditions from losing their health insurance, yet he’s voted repeatedly to eliminate or gut the federal requirement that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions.

Now Gardner has introduced a bill, the text of which has yet to be released, that would, according to a news release from the senator’s office, “guarantee Coloradans with pre-existing conditions have health insurance coverage protections.”

Experts say Gardner’s legislation appears to be motivated more by politics than substance, especially given that federal law, under Obamacare, as well as Colorado law already requires insurance companies to cover Coloradans with pre-existing conditions.

“Big picture, this seems to me like a late-in-the-day effort to protect the senator politically, given his support for repealing the pre-existing condition protections in the ACA in 2017 as well as public opinion about the Trump administration’s current efforts to undo pre-existing condition protections at the Supreme Court,” said Sabrina Corlette, a professor at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute.

Other health experts agreed with Corlette.

“To me, this is just a political stunt because these protections already exist at the federal and state level,” says Adam Fox, Director of Strategic Outreach for the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative. “This is pure politicking. If Gardner really wanted to help people with pre-existing conditions, he would protect the ACA, denounce the lawsuit against it, and make sure our Medicaid program is fully funded through the health crisis.”

If Gardner and other Republicans were to repeal the ACA (which they were unable to do in 2017 when they had the power to do so) and pass Gardner’s bill (which might narrowly protect people with pre-existing conditions), the “entire health care system would be thrown out of whack,” said Fox, predicting high premiums, millions of uninsured people, and the prevalence of so-called junk insurance, pushed by Trump and Gardner, that doesn’t cover what consumers expect from health insurance.

“If you have the protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but you don’t have some of the other protections, like essential health benefits, no annual and lifetime [coverage] limits, and preventive services, you could end up with insurance that, yes, you technically could buy, but it wouldn’t cover much of what you need without the ACA.”

Gardner has yet to address these concerns.

 

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (August 18)

The Denver Nuggets have a 1-0 series lead over the Utah Jazz in the first round of the NBA playoffs. 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 

 

► There’s big news today on the story of Russian interference in the 2016 election. As The New York Times reports:

Via The New York Times (8/18/20)

A sprawling report released Tuesday by a Republican-controlled Senate panel that spent three years investigating Russia’s 2016 election interference laid out an extensive web of contacts between Trump campaign advisers and Russian government officials and other Russians, including some with ties to the country’s intelligence services.

The report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, totaling nearly 1,000 pages, provided a bipartisan Senate imprimatur for an extraordinary set of facts: The Russian government undertook an extensive campaign to try to sabotage the 2016 American election to help Mr. Trump become president, and some members of Mr. Trump’s circle of advisers were open to the help from an American adversary…

…the report showed extensive evidence of contacts between Trump campaign advisers and people tied to the Kremlin — including a longstanding associate of the onetime Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, whom the report identifies as a “Russian intelligence officer.”

The Senate report for the first time identified Mr. Kilimnik as an intelligence officer. Mr. Mueller’s report had labeled him as someone with ties to Russian intelligence.

This report from the Senate Intelligence Committee — which is CONTROLLED BY REPUBLICANS — pretty well blows up President Trump’s claims of a “witch hunt.” Mike Littwin of The Colorado Sun calls the report “maybe the most shocking moment from the U.S. Senate since John McCain’s thumbs-down vote on ending Obamacare.” The Huffington Post zeroes in on the finding that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was deemed a “grave” security threat.

 

Postmaster Louis DeJoy is scheduled to testify at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Friday about funding requirements for the postal service to handle mail ballots this fall. As POLITICO reports, DeJoy is already bending to widespread criticism:

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced Tuesday that he was suspending “longstanding operational initiatives” at the United States Postal Service, amid fears that the changes could delay election mail this fall in the middle of the pandemic.

“To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded,” DeJoy said in a statement.

Meanwhile, as The Washington Post reports, state governments aren’t waiting for the feds to take action:

At least 20 states plan to file lawsuits this week against the U.S. Postal Service and its new postmaster, Louis DeJoy, seeking to reverse service changes that have prompted widespread reports of delays and accusations of an intentional effort to thwart voters from mailing their ballots this fall.

The suits, expected to be filed in federal court imminently, will argue that the Postal Service broke the law by making operational changes without first seeking approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission. They will also argue that the changes will impede states’ ability to run free and fair elections, officials from several state attorney general offices told The Washington Post. The Constitution gives states and Congress, not the executive branch, the power to regulate elections.

“We’re trying to stop Trump’s attacks on the Postal Service, which we believe to be an attack on the integrity of election. It’s a straight-up attack on democracy,” Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) said in an interview. “This conduct is illegal. It’s unconstitutional. It’s harmful to the country. It’s harmful to individuals.”

“We’re asking a court to make him stop,” he said.

Colorado is among the states filing lawsuits.

 

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Hickenlooper is going after Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) for his silence on efforts by President Trump to defund the U.S. Postal Service as a means of suppressing votes in the 2020 election. As The New York Times reports:

But Democrats running for the Senate in states that rely heavily on the mail made clear they would continue to press the issue. John Hickenlooper, the former Democratic governor of Colorado, took to Twitter in a campaign video to upbraid the impact of the delays and laid the blame squarely on Mr. Trump and his Republican opponent, the incumbent Cory Gardner.

“It just makes me want to pull my hair out, and Cory Gardner hasn’t said a word,” Mr. Hickenlooper said. [Pols emphasis]

Gardner has said some words about the postal service — quite a few of them, actually — but he has yet to offer a coherent public comment about the issue.

 

Day One of the Democratic National Convention is in the books. POLITICO is tracking all of the DNC news, including Monday’s big speech from Michelle Obama. As The Washington Post notes, this speech from the former First Lady is not one that Melania Trump is going to want to borrow. Check out CNN for more analysis on the highlights and lowlights from Monday.

President Trump denigrated Michelle Obama on Tuesday — at an event celebrating 100 years of women’s suffrage, no less — because he is sad that Obama said that Trump was “in over his head.”

 

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

 

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Goddamn Right I’m Sabotaging The Postal Service, Says Trump

MONDAY UPDATE: WTF?

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U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

National Public Radio reports on an admission so jaw-dropping it could only be…an average Thursday in Donald Trump’s train wreck presidency:

While President Trump has long railed against mail-in voting, falsely claiming it leads to rampant fraud, he appeared to confirm Thursday morning that he opposes Democrats’ proposed boost in funding for the U.S. Postal Service because he wants to make it harder to expand voting by mail…

“They [the Democrats] want three and a half billion dollars for something that’ll turn out to be fraudulent — that’s election money basically,” Trump said.

Continued the president: “They want $25 billion for the post office. Now, they need that money in order to have the post office work so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots. Now, in the meantime, they aren’t getting there. But if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.” [Pols emphasis]

First of all, there is no proposal for “universal mail-in voting” at the federal level. For all the discussion about migrating to a mail ballot system during the COVID-19 pandemic, only two additional states have switched to primarily mail ballots in addition to the six states including Colorado that already conduct mail ballot elections.

Trump’s characteristically frank admission that he opposes more money for the U.S. Postal Service because he doesn’t want USPS to be able to handle mail ballots is fully consistent with the reports of new policies within the Postal Service that are slowing down the delivery of mail across the country–policies put in place by Trump’s newly appointed postmaster general Louis DeJoy, a campaign donor and supporter. Taken together, these clearly point to an agenda by the Trump administration to deliberately harm the USPS–and blame any resultant election chaos on the mail ballots Trump is determined without evidence to vilify in advance for his expected defeat at the polls in November.

As you can imagine, Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold is pretty upset…

 

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Trump Yanks Pendley, Except Not Really

Acting BLM Director William Perry Pendley.

Colorado Public Radio reports on what could be considered an admission of defeat by the Trump administration, the announcement this weekend that interim Bureau of Land Management director William Perry Pendley will not be formally nominated for the position–but news that Pendley will continue to run the BLM in the interim capacity he has controversially held for a year now is making this announcement harder to celebrate:

The White House is expected to withdraw William Perry Pendley’s nomination to be director of the Bureau of Land Management, a White House official confirms. The move comes as a chorus of voices have raised objections or concerns about the nomination in recent weeks.

Pendley will remain the agency’s number two. The Deputy Director for Policy and Programs will still continue to “exercise the authority of the director” and lead the public lands agency.

“The President makes staffing decisions. Mr. Pendley will continue to lead the Bureau of Land Management as Deputy Director for Programs and Policy,” a spokesperson for the Department of the Interior said Saturday…

Back in June, despite a lawsuit from the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility demanding that Pendley either be put up for confirmation by the U.S. Senate or replaced, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt indefinitely extended Pendley’s interim directorship via a questionable unwritten order. The Grand Junction Sentinel’s Dennis Webb reported then:

Pendley has been serving as BLM acting director since last July, based on orders by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt delegating the authority to run the agency to Pendley, and then repeatedly issuing orders extending that delegation. Pendley’s latest, monthlong extension ran through Friday…

As acting director, Pendley has overseen the BLM’s relocation of most of its jobs in Washington, D.C., to various locations out West, including its new headquarters in Grand Junction.

Bernhardt notably didn’t issue a new delegation order this week further extending Pendley’s time running the BLM. Pendley remains at the helm based on updated Interior Department succession orders, Swanson said.

Unlike in the case of the past orders from Bernhardt, no expiration date applies to the succession order for Pendley, and Bernhardt issued no written order on the matter.

The announcement by President Donald Trump that Pendley would be formally nominated, the first BLM nominee submitted by the Trump administration after over three years in office, was met by a hailstorm of pent-up criticism–and nervous admissions even from Republican allies like Sen. Cory Gardner that Pendley would face “tough questions” in his confirmation hearing about Pendley’s career-long advocacy for the mass liquidation of public lands.

The good news, obviously, is that Pendley will not be nominated to formally lead the BLM. The bad news is Pendley apparently isn’t going anywhere, and the oversight the Senate is supposed to exercise over this important executive branch appointment remains thwarted. You’d think Cory Gardner would be upset about not being able to ask his “tough questions” of Pendley. After all, haven’t they been valid questions for as long as Pendley has been in his job as “interim” director of the BLM? Shouldn’t Gardner join with Democrats in demanding that Pendley be ousted if he’s not going to be confirmed?

When that doesn’t happen, you’ll know all you need to know.

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Even for Cory Gardner, This is Despicable

UPDATE: It’s been more than 10 days. Still no bill text:

Via Congress.gov

—–

You actually thought I couldn’t go lower?

Politicians can do craven, gutless, despicable things when they are worried about their own re-election. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is on another level entirely.

Today marks the one-week anniversary of the introduction of legislation that Gardner has not talked about other than issuing a brief press release late on Friday. In fact, we didn’t even realize that this had happened until we accidentally stumbled upon a press release from Gardner’s Senate office.

At some point last Thursday, Gardner introduced a bill title — we say “title” because there is no actual bill language to accompany the headline — that was formally read aloud in the U.S. Senate that he calls the “Pre-Existing Conditions Protection Act.”

Really. Let that sink in for a moment.

Gardner has based his entire political career in Congress on his unapologetic opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which as you probably know, ALREADY PROHIBITS INSURANCE COMPANIES FROM DENYING SOMEONE COVERAGE BECAUSE OF A PRE-EXISTING MEDICAL CONDITION.

As a candidate for the House of Representatives in 2010, Gardner unequivocally stated his opposition to any sort of legislation that would protect people with pre-existing medical conditions (video below). Gardner has spent his entire career in Congress trying to dismantle the ACA. He has voted dozens of times to destroy former President Barack Obama’s signature legislative accomplishment, and he acknowledged just a few months ago that he still supports a lawsuit pending with the U.S. Supreme Court that would effectively eliminate pre-existing medical coverage protections for 2.4 million Coloradans. Eliminating the ACA will also end the very protection that Gardner is now claiming to champion.

 

 

So, what changed? Two things: 1) Voters overwhelmingly support policies that protect people with pre-existing medical conditions, and 2) Cory Gardner is in serious trouble of losing his Senate seat in 2020. So Gardner decided to pretend to champion an issue that he has opposed for a decade…but he did it in such a half-assed manner that he couldn’t even be bothered to write a damn bill.

Here’s Gardner’s quote from last week’s press release:

“My bill is simple – it guarantees coverage for people who have pre-existing medical conditions and ensures that people cannot be charged more because of a pre-existing condition. I will continue to fight for pre-existing condition protections as well as measures to lower health care costs, strengthen innovation, and expand access for all Coloradans, including those with pre-existing medical conditions.”

Gardner’s bill is so damn simple, in fact, that it doesn’t even exist. Here’s the current summary available at Congress.gov:

Via Congress.gov

 

Gardner isn’t just completely lying about some longstanding commitment to protecting pre-existing medical conditions — he’s even pretending to have drafted legislation to deal with the issue despite the fact that somebody else beat him to it: North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis introduced the “Protect Act” back in April 2019, though unlike Gardner he actually took the time to write a damn bill and collect co-sponsors. It is telling that Gardner is not among the 27 co-sponsors — ALL of whom are Senate Republicans — on the Tillis bill. Apparently, Gardner was not as worried about his re-election chances 18 months ago.

The Washington Post awarded Gardner “Four Pinocchios” for pretending to support protections for pre-existing medical conditions.

Gardner has recently tried to convince Coloradans that he has always been a huge supporter of protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions, despite his many votes to kill Obamacare (and its associated protections for pre-existing conditions). Last month, The Washington Post featured Gardner in a Fact-Checker analysis about his claims to have long supported coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions. The Post determined, as any functioning human being would conclude, that Gardner is completely full of crap:

Voters deserve straight answers when their health care is on the line, especially in the middle of a deadly pandemic.

Daines, Gardner and McSally have voted to end the Affordable Care Act. People with preexisting conditions would have been left exposed because of those votes; insurers could have denied coverage or jacked up prices for sick patients.

The three senators’ comments about the GOP lawsuit are woefully vague, but they can all be interpreted as tacit support. Asked about the case, a Daines spokesperson said “whatever mechanism” to get rid of the ACA would do. McSally’s campaign “didn’t specifically answer, but pointed to her general disapproval of the ACA.” Gardner avoided the question six times in one interview, but in another, he said: “That’s the court’s decision. If the Democrats want to stand for an unconstitutional law, I guess that’s their choice.”

If this all sounds familiar, it should. President Trump made headlines this week for suggesting that he will sign some sort of executive order to super-duper preserve protections for pre-existing medical conditions. Or as this headline from Axios summed up:

Via Axios (8/8/20)

 

As POLITICO reported:

President Donald Trump on Monday acknowledged a prospective executive order he’s considering to make insurers cover pre-existing conditions amounted to political messaging — and that Obamacare already offered such protections.

“It’s a signal to people … it’s a second platform,” Trump said at a White House briefing. “Pre-existing conditions will be taken care of 100 percent by Republicans and the Republican party. I actually think it’s a very important statement.”…

…Trump’s tacit acknowledgment the prospective executive order was little more than messaging could intensify Democratic efforts to portray the president and GOP as not being serious about having a fallback to the 2010 health law.

In this case, the difference between President Trump and Senator Gardner is that Trump is actually willing to acknowledge that his pre-existing conditions proposal is a nonsense political stunt.

That Gardner is attempting to sell such a ridiculous lie is not a surprise in itself. During his 2014 U.S. Senate campaign, Gardner was widely lampooned for his insistence that “there is no federal personhood bill,” despite the fact that he was a co-sponsor of the legislation. Gardner was trying to convince Colorado voters that he was not an anti-abortion extremist, but the only way to do so was to flat-out lie every time he was asked about it.

 

During a U.S. Senate candidate debate in October 2014, 9News reporter Kyle Clark famously pushed back on Gardner’s baloney. As The Denver Post reported at the time:

Gardner has been repeatedly been asked on the campaign trail about his sponsorship of the federal Life Begins at Conception Act, which, as Clark pointed out, nearly everyone but Gardner agrees would outlaw abortion.

“We are not going to debate that here tonight because it’s fact,” Clark said. “It would seem that a charitable interpretation would be that you have a difficult time admitting when you’re wrong and a less charitable interpretation is that you’re not telling us the truth.

“Which is it?” [Pols emphasis]

Gardner said the bill is “simply a statement that I support life.”

“The personhood bill, congressman, is a bill. It’s not a statement,” Senator Mark Udall countered. “If it became law, it would ban all abortions and it would ban most common forms of contraceptives. Coloradans deserve the truth from you. You have to really give a straight answer.”

“Straight answer” is not in Cory Gardner’s vocabulary.

Gardner has voted dozens of times on proposals to weaken the ACA, including at least 13 individual votes to repeal or defund the program (click here for the complete list), but he’s hoping that Colorado voters will forget about this because he had someone read the title of a nonexistent bill on the floor of the U.S. Senate last week.

What Gardner is trying to do here is disgusting. Full stop.

Gardner lied to Coloradans in 2014 on the issue of abortion, and he’s lying to Coloradans today — about health insurance, in the middle of a global pandemic.

This man wants your vote for another term in the U.S. Senate. In less than two months, you’ll get a ballot in the mail, and you can tell him exactly what you think.

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Gardner Shovels Red Meat To GOP Base On Mail Ballots

Donald Trump, Cory Gardner.

As readers know, Sen. Cory Gardner is generally reported by the press as being “in support” of Colorado’s mail ballot system. It would be weird if he wasn’t, since he was elected to the U.S. Senate in a mail ballot election in 2014, and Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams has become a leading advocate for mail ballots after presiding over the system through two general election cycles.

But like we discovered when we were sent a clip from Gardner on a local right-wing podcast disparaging the very same expanded unemployment benefits he claims in defiance of his party he supports, Cory Gardner says something very different about mail ballots in the private company of fellow Republicans. Westword’s Michael Roberts yesterday:

During recent interviews, Gardner has said positive things about the way Colorado has conducted mail-in voting, and he did so again, more or less, during a forum not meant for public consumption: an August 5 telephone fundraiser. But in a transcript from the event obtained by Westword, he also sought to cast doubts on a nationwide application of the process amid the COVID-19 pandemic in ways that should keep The Donald happy, since his references to heavy-handedness coming out of “Washington, D.C.” are explicitly aimed at Congress…

“Look, protecting the integrity of our elections is job number one when it comes to carrying out free, transparent, secure elections, which we have to have. We know what’s happened in California, where they have voter harvesting laws that allow people weeks and weeks and weeks after the election to change the result of the election. We saw what happened in Florida while the Supreme Court of Florida actually found that state officials had acted unconstitutionally in the way that they were carrying out that election. I’m proud of the work that we’ve done in Colorado. I’m proud of the way that we have carried out our election, but we have to make sure that Washington, D.C., it doesn’t impose some kind of California or Florida style voting regime that impedes the protections of our elections across the country.”

Gardner added: “When Thomas Jefferson and George Washington were arguing about what we should do to make sure we have a strong constitution, the last thing on their minds was if they could tell Utah, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming how they were supposed to vote and the way they were going to carry out their elections. That’s not what this country was founded on. Washington, D.C., needs to stay away from running our elections…”

Folks, this answer is sufficiently ridiculous that it really needs more public scrutiny than we or even Westword can afford it. Gardner’s absurd claim that “vote harvesting” allows people to “change the result weeks and weeks after the election” is a nonsensical retcon of the simple fact that in the 2018 elections in California, a lot of returned ballots took a long time for some areas of the state to count. In Colorado, any voter can drop off up to ten ballots. In California there’s no limit–but since the ballots are all individually signed and sealed by the voters, it doesn’t matter who drops them off.

We’re not sure what specifically Gardner is referring to in Florida, be it the battle over felony disenfranchisement (we hope not) or litigation over absentee ballots expected to be widely requested there for the November elections. But it doesn’t change the bottom line: no one is seeking to “impose” mail ballots on any state that doesn’t want them, and mail ballots are nothing to be afraid of. This entire business about instilling fear in voters about mail ballots has no factual basis whatsoever, and Cory Gardner knows that based on his own state’s experience. But Gardner can’t tell the GOP base the truth about mail ballots while Donald Trump is busy declaring mail ballots to be the greatest extant threat to American democracy.

As a result, the stuff coming out of Gardner’s mouth to pacify his base is getting more and more ridiculous.

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Senate Republicans Fail Americans for At Least Another Month

Race you to the airport!

For the fourth consecutive week, we are discussing on a Friday the failure of Senate Republicans to make any movement whatsoever on another coronavirus stimulus bill.

As CNBC reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has adjourned the Senate for a month-long recess while the rest of America stares back dumbfounded:

The Senate is officially adjourned through Labor Day despite not coming to an agreement on its next coronavirus stimulus package.

Congress and the White House have spent the past few weeks debating what to include in the package, but have been unable to come to an agreement. One of the biggest sticking points: Jobless benefits. Democrats want a continuation of the enhanced unemployment payment of $600 per week, while Republicans say that amount is too high. Democrats are also pushing for more than $900 billion for state and municipal aid, and $60 billion in food assistance, far higher than what Republicans have proposed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the two sides would not strike a deal until Republicans added $1 trillion in aid to their bill.

That means a deal could be weeks away. Meanwhile, around 28 million Americans remain unemployed and many of the relief provisions from the first stimulus package have dried up. President Donald Trump has issued four executive orders to address some of the issues, but experts remain unconvinced that they will be efficient in helping vulnerable households.

McConnell says that he will call the Senate back into session “if” a stimulus deal is reached — though he continues to take virtually no role in the discussions himself. As we’ve noted repeatedly in this space (HERE, HERE, and HERE, for starters), this is not a complicated discussion; the Senate has failed to move on another coronavirus stimulus bill — the House passed the “HEROES Act” in May — and Republicans have majority control of the upper chamber of Congress. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can’t move a bill in the Senate, no matter how much McConnell blames her for his failures.

Remember, Senate Republicans haven’t just failed to advance a much-needed stimulus bill…going on recess at this point is McConnell admitting that they aren’t even trying to get something done.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (August 14)

You’ve probably noticed that the air quality along the Front Range is less than optimal. But on the plus side, it will be a lot harder for anyone to notice that you haven’t showered since Monday. 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 

 

You have more than one reason to wear a mask in Colorado this weekend. As 9News reports:

Governor Jared Polis (D-Colorado) visited the Incident Command Center for the Grizzly Creek Fire Friday morning where he said getting it under control was the top priority in the nation.

He was at the fairgrounds in Eagle at 8 a.m. That is the command center for the fire which has now burned more than 14,000 acres near Glenwood Springs since it was first reported Monday afternoon…

…As of Thursday night, it had burned 69,135 acres and was 7% contained.

 

► If you’re wondering about the latest on another coronavirus stimulus bill, we have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that you can stop speculating on a potential deal, because the bad news is that the U.S. Senate has adjourned UNTIL MID-SEPTEMBER. As The Hill newspaper reports:

The Senate left Washington, D.C., on Thursday until September — the latest sign that a deal on a fifth coronavirus relief package is, at least, weeks away.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had kept the chamber in session this week, which was technically the first in its August recess, as a last-ditch attempt to create space for the administration and congressional Democrats to get an agreement.

But with talks stalemated, senators argue there is little reason for them to keep holding daily, roughly 1 1/2-hour sessions.

McConnell continues to blame Democrats for a lack of progress on coronavirus relief, nevermind that the United States Senate is controlled by Republicans.


Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) appears to be panicking about his re-election chances. Gardner is running fundraising ads around the country touting his “achievements” alongside President Trump — but you can’t find those ads here because Gardner is still trying to convince Colorado voters that he’s not a Trump toadie.

Oh, and don’t be surprised to see a Gardner ad in Colorado soon that touts his “work” on protecting people with pre-existing medical conditions. Gardner has repeatedly sought to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which already DOES protect people with pre-existing conditions, but he is now the sole sponsor of a bill title (sans the actual bill text) he calls the “Pre-Existing Conditions Protection Act.” No, really.

 

 Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold is pushing back against President Trump’s baseless claims that mail balloting is rife with fraud. As Colorado Public Radio reports:

“He’s trying to affect turnout in November by undermining a system that we know works, and works well for Democrats and Republicans and, of course, independents,” Griswold said…

…Colorado is one of several all-mail ballot states to receive letters from the Postal Service indicating that ballots, usually sent by clerks via “marketing mail” but treated like first class, will no longer get that treatment and could be slower to make it to people’s mailboxes.

Griswold said the Colorado election model is “safeguarded” from a possible delivery slow down. Ballots are sent out weeks ahead of time and voters are asked to mail in them back at least eight days before Election Day.

Colorado also has a new law in place this year that requires replacement ballots to be sent via first-class mail.

Trump made it clear on Thursday that he opposes additional funding for the Postal Service because he doesn’t want more people voting for Democrat Joe Biden in November. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on Friday that his caucus is committed to providing sufficient funding for the USPS despite Trump’s objections.

 

 

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

 

(more…)

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WATCH: The Ad Cory Gardner Doesn’t Want Colorado To See

UPDATE: Yeah, right.

—–

President Trump and Sen. Cory Gardner.

Amanda Terkel at Huffington Post reports:

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is running a new Facebook ad, touting his close relationship with President Donald Trump.

“We’re asking patriots nationwide to show that they support the pro-growth, conservative agenda that President Trump and I are fighting for ― will you join them? Sign your name now to say ‘thanks’ to President Trump for delivering REAL results on behalf of ALL Americans!” reads the text of the Facebook ad, which also has a little video featuring pictures of Gardner and Trump side-by-side.

But if you’re a voter in Colorado, you probably haven’t seen it…

The reason? Gardner’s own state of Colorado doesn’t appear to be in the targeted audience:

Now, we are obligated to point out at HuffPo does today that there’s a possibility this ad for some innocent reason hasn’t appeared in Colorado, thus accounting for our state appearing as a bright blank spot on a map showing the ad is running in every other state. That seems very unlikely, but it’s theoretically possible. And rither way, there’s nothing unusual about high profile Senate candidates fundraising in other states.

But the fact remains–President Donald Trump is deeply unpopular in Colorado, and Cory Gardner’s campaign is well aware of this reality. Trump is unpopular in California too, but the benefit of Sen. Cory Gardner using the “Trump and Gardner have delivered for America” message on California Trump supporters is avoiding the negatives from this gushing pro-Trump propaganda being seen by swing voters in Colorado.

And there are bound to be some Colorado voters who remember when Gardner opposed Trump’s wall.

For anyone who understands the dynamics of the 2020 U.S. Senate race in Colorado, with Gardner considered the most vulnerable Republican Senate up in 2020 largely due to Colorado’s politics tracking leftward both before and after Gardner’s narrow 2014 election, it’s painfully obvious why Gardner is running this red-meat ad everywhere but Colorado. Support from the pro-Trump Republican base is crucial, but also toxic to Gardner to the extent it defines him here in his home state.

Hiding this ad from Colorado voters is a metaphor for Gardner’s larger dilemma.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Deja Vu All Over Again and Again

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast

Americans are still struggling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which has surpassed 5 million cases in the U.S. alone and claimed the lives of 162,000 Americans. The economic impact from the pandemic continues to grow amid Senate Republican inaction; President Trump signs executive orders that are probably illegal and definitely inadequate…but apparently no one is listening to Donald Trump anyway;, our 2nd favorite U.S. Senator from Colorado tells people to Take a Hike; and self-proclaimed pro-police demonstrators physically assault Black Lives Matter counter-protesters and film it all themselves!

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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