Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 11)

The World Health Organization has officially classified the Coronavirus as a “pandemic.” It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The race for the Democratic Presidential nomination appears to be nearing its end after another big night for Joe Biden on Better Than Average Tuesday. As The Washington Post reports:

The campaign for the Democratic nomination has moved at warp speed over the past 10 days, and on Tuesday night it reached a decisive turning point. Barring something unforeseen, Democrats now know that former vice president Joe Biden will be the party’s nominee to challenge President Trump in November.

Biden scored a group of victories over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Tuesday, adding to the overwhelming — and unexpected — successes of a week ago on Super Tuesday. He romped in Mississippi, where he was expected to romp. He won handily in Missouri, where Sanders came agonizingly close four years ago. Most important, Biden won where Sanders could not afford to lose, in the general election battleground state of Michigan.

Biden remains well short of the 1,991 pledged delegates needed for a first-ballot victory at the national convention in Milwaukee in July. But with Tuesday’s results, he has solidified his lead in the delegate battle and, with the states that will hold their primaries in the next two weeks, that advantage inevitably will grow. Sanders has little time and few delegates remaining to be selected to have much chance of changing the trajectory.

Here’s more from The Washington Post on Biden’s biggest Tuesday victory in Michigan. Four more states — Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio — will cast ballots next Tuesday. Sanders lost all four states in 2016 to Hillary Clinton.

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, the big question now is about how long Sanders will remain in the race:

The Joe Biden who took the stage in Philadelphia on Tuesday night to celebrate a series of victories including in the critical state of Michigan was a far cry from the exuberant comeback kid who had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat a week earlier on Super Tuesday.

This Biden was more measured, more magnanimous and more conciliatory. There was no gloating or boasting. And everything — from Biden’s tone to the speech he delivered — was all aimed at convincing Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders that the time had come to end his primary challenge.

“I want to thank Bernie Sanders and his supporters for their tireless energy and passion,” Biden said. “We share a common goal. Together we’ll defeat Donald Trump. We’ll defeat him together. We’ll bring this nation together.”

Biden and Bernie Sanders are still scheduled to debate on Sunday in Arizona.

 

► President Trump is getting hammered politically for his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. Even the conservative publication National Review is calling out Trump:

So far in this crisis, Donald Trump himself has obviously failed to rise to the challenge of leadership, and it does no one any favors to pretend otherwise…

…The failures of leadership at the top, however, show no sign of being corrected. In a serious public-health crisis, the public has the right to expect the government’s chief executive to lead in a number of crucial ways: by prioritizing the problem properly, by deferring to subject-matter experts when appropriate while making key decisions in informed and sensible ways, by providing honest and careful information to the country, by calming fears and setting expectations, and by addressing mistakes and setbacks.

Trump so far hasn’t passed muster on any of these metrics. He resisted making the response to the epidemic a priority for as long as he could — refusing briefings, downplaying the problem, and wasting precious time. He has failed to properly empower his subordinates and refused to trust the information they provided him — often offering up unsubstantiated claims and figures from cable television instead. He has spoken about the crisis in crude political and personal terms. He has stood in the way of public understanding of the plausible course of the epidemic, trafficking instead in dismissive clichés. He has denied his administration’s missteps, making it more difficult to address them.

The number of coronavirus cases in the United States has now surpassed 1,000.

Trump is still scheduled to be in Colorado on Friday for a fundraiser to benefit Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma).

 

Columbus Day in Colorado will be replaced with Frances Xavier Cabrini Day, barring an unexpected veto from Gov. Jared Polis. As The Denver Post reports:

The state legislature gave final passage Tuesday to a bill that would replace Columbus Day with a new state holiday, on the first Monday of October, in honor of Frances Xavier Cabrini.

It is believed that the proposed Cabrini Day would be the first paid state holiday recognizing a woman anywhere in this country…

…Lead bill sponsor Adrienne Benavidez, D-Commerce City, has been trying for years to abolish Columbus Day, which she calls “a festering sore.” Previous failed bills proposed to replace with the day with Colorado Day, Indigenous Peoples’ Day or an Election Day holiday, but those and other concepts were met with bipartisan resistance and with outrage from some in Italian Americans who take pride in Columbus Day.

Honoring Cabrini — an Italian American and the patron saint of immigrants — was a compromise palatable to Benavidez, her fellow Democrats and to many of those who’ve opposed previous bills.

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 10)

Happy “Mario Day.” Please don’t celebrate by jumping on innocent turtles. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Today is Better Than Average Tuesday, with voters in 6 states casting ballots to help determine the Democratic Presidential nominee. The big prize is Michigan and its 125 delegates; Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton here in 2016, but a loss to Joe Biden tonight could be a fatal blow to his nomination hopes. Sanders probably needs to put up fairly big numbers in Michigan — winning the state in a squeaker won’t be enough — because Biden is likely to get the lion’s share of delegates in Mississippi and Missouri. As The Associated Press explains:

Sanders has scoffed at suggestions he could drop out if he doesn’t win Michigan, but his travel schedule underscores its importance. He canceled a trip to Mississippi and instead made five campaign stops across Michigan since Friday…

…Sanders is optimistic about Washington state on Tuesday, and Idaho and North Dakota, both states Sanders won in 2016, go to the polls Tuesday as well, though the lack of polling in both states has made them difficult to predict.

But the senator’s team acknowledges he will struggle in next week’s Florida primary, where the senator’s past defense of Fidel Castro looms large. He also could face long odds in Ohio and Illinois — especially if he underperforms in Michigan. Both of those states also vote March 17.

Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, and Washington will also cast ballots today. Based on limited polling, the former Vice President seems to have momentum in Idaho and in North Dakota, though Sanders won both states in 2016. As of now, Washington looks like it could be a nail-biter. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown from Reuters.

Chris Cillizza of CNN runs through three potential scenarios on Better Than Average Tuesday.

Meanwhile, two recent national polls show Biden surging ahead of Sanders. A CNN poll of Democratic voters nationwide found that respondents prefer Biden to Sanders 52-36. Polling from Quinnipiac University found similar numbers, with Biden leading Sanders 54-35.

 

Governor Jared Polis officially declared a “state of emergency” in Colorado because of the Coronavirus outbreak. There are 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colorado, with another 14 cases pending test results. Polis is earning strong marks for his calm response to the coronavirus outbreak.

 

While Gov. Polis is doing a good job managing the coronavirus outbreak, President Trump continues to struggle. As The Washington Post explains:

President Trump confronted one of the most perilous days of his presidency Monday by first erupting in a barrage of commentary that failed to calm the cratering financial markets, struggling to inspire confidence that his administration could stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

But by the time the sun set in Washington, Trump sounded momentarily chastened by the turbulence and previewed a raft of emergency measures to shore up the economy…

…Trump’s overall handling of the converging crises — while spreading misinformation and blaming others — has unsettled many of his Republican allies on Capitol Hill and even inside the White House, where some aides acknowledged that the president is compounding problems with his grievances and conspiratorial mind-set.

The coronavirus and the market meltdown present Trump with a challenge unlike any he has faced as president, and one for which he has no ready solution. At a moment when anxious citizens are turning to the government for facts and assurance, Trump is playing down risks and immersing himself in feuds with Democrats, the media and other perceived enemies.

Trump spent much of the day Monday in Florida — where he was golfing over the weekend — and shook hands/bumped fists at a fundraiser for his re-election campaign. Don’t worry about Trump’s health, however; the White House Press Secretary has been boasting that Trump works 15-16 hour days and never sleeps.

Trump is hearing from advisers about a host of potential actions that the federal government might take, including promoting paid sick leave.

Also, President Trump’s new Chief of Staff might have the coronavirus. Does President Trump have COVID-19? It’s not clear that he’s even been tested.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 6)

Happy “National Day of Unplugging.” If you’re reading this, you’re probably doing it wrong. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► On Thursday afternoon, Governor Jared Polis announced the first two positive tests for Coronavirus in Colorado. As The Denver Post reports:

Polis announced the second case at a Thursday afternoon news conference that had been called to discuss the first case.

The state said Thursday evening that the second patient is an older woman from Douglas County who had returned to Colorado from an international cruise. She is “isolated at her home per CDC guidelines,” the state health department said…

…“At the end of the day we have a very robust health care system in this state,” Polis said. “We’ve been preparing for this moment, we are now in execution mode of this plan.”

Polis was calm and reassuring in Thursday’s press conference, a marked difference from the chaotic federal government response driven by the Trump administration (which continues to demonstrate that nobody is talking to anybody else about how to deal with the Coronavirus outbreak).

On Friday, Trump signed an $8.3 billion spending package for Coronavirus response. Colorado Rep. Ken Buck was one of only three people IN THE ENTIRE CONGRESS who voted to oppose the bill.

The White House is also considering options for helping the tourism industry, which has been getting pummeled because of COVID-19.

 

The Colorado Option has landed!

 

Democrats and Republicans in Colorado will hold their caucuses on Saturday to determine ballot access for races from U.S. Senate down to county coroner. The Denver Post has more on what will be a critical day for Senate candidates not named John Hickenlooper.

On the Republican side, expect some right-wing challenges to candidates who are considered more “moderate,” because the far right in Colorado is still convinced that they need the craziest candidates in every district.

Also, a guy named “Critter” will be seeking the U.S. Senate nomination from the Unity Party.

 

► Presidential campaigns (those of Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, mostly) will be making the rounds this weekend ahead of six more elections on Tuesday. Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, and Washington will hold Primary Elections on March 10, while voters in North Dakota will do the caucus thing. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, Michigan will be the big prize on Tuesday:

On Thursday morning, with much fanfare (and tweeting), former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign announced that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had endorsed his presidential bid.

Within hours, Bernie Sanders’ campaign announced that the Vermont senator would cancel a planned trip to Mississippi on Friday and instead head directly to Michigan.
These things are not a coincidence.

Michigan, which will hold its primary on March 10, is not only the biggest delegate prize of that day (125 delegates) but also hugely important, symbolically speaking, given that it was one of three critical Midwestern states President Donald Trump flipped to his side in the 2016 presidential race.

In the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary, Bernie Sanders pulled out a surprise victory over Hillary Clinton in Michigan.

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 5)

Yeah, that’s right: You get an afternoon version of Get More Smarter today. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The U.S. Senate voted 96-1 to approve an $8.3 billion package for Coronavirus response. Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul was the sole “NO” vote in the Senate.

On Wednesday, Colorado Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) was one of just TWO House Members to vote “NO” on Coronavirus funding. President Trump is expected to sign the legislation into law as soon as it reaches his desk.

 

As Philip Bump writes for The Washington Post, President Trump’s penchant for making up numbers is a particularly bad habit during a global pandemic:

On Tuesday, a World Health Organization official stated that the mortality rate for covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, is at 3.4 percent globally. Asked about it during an interview Wednesday night with his friend Sean Hannity on Fox News, Trump disagreed with that number.

“I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number,” Trump said. “Now, and this is just my hunch [Pols emphasis], and — but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this. Because a lot of people will have this and it’s very mild. They’ll get better very rapidly. They don’t even see a doctor. They don’t even call a doctor. You never hear about those people.”

Trump eventually settled on a number of “way under 1 percent” for the COVID-19 mortality rate. The source for this information? There is no source:

Trump twice admits that he’s simply making up the percentage he’s talking about, calling it a “hunch” and saying that it’s his personal assessment. Yes, he has access to more experts on the subject than your average American, which may inform that personal estimate, but his access to experts didn’t prevent him from reiterating obviously inaccurate information at an event with drug companies earlier this week.

Bump sums up Trump’s manufactured numbers with a sober warning:

We don’t know the mortality rate of the coronavirus in the United States in part because we don’t know the spread of the virus thanks to the government’s slow, faulty start in measuring it. We do know, though, that, by themselves, numbers offered by Trump aren’t trustworthy. That the world he presents is often not the real one.

Swell.

 

 According to data from Public Policy Polling, Americans are very nervous about Coronavirus and very dissatisfied with how the federal government is handling response efforts:

Voters take the virus a lot more seriously than the president does. Only 8% of voters agree with Trump’s claim that the virus is a Democratic hoax, while 82% think the virus is real. Only 16% of Trump’s own voters agree with him that the virus is a hoax.

Trump’s handling of the coronavirus could threaten his reelection. By a 20-point margin, voters say his administration’s handling of the virus makes them less likely to vote for him this fall. Independents say they’re less likely to vote for Trump by 32 points because of how he’s dealt with this issue. Only 37% of voters agree with Trump’s assessment that his administration is doing a “great job” dealing with the coronavirus, while 53% disagree.

 

►  The Colorado Option has landed. As The Denver Post reports:

The long-awaited Colorado bill to create a variation of a public health insurance option — an effort that has garnered national attention and the ire of hospitals — was unveiled Thursday, just before the midway point of the legislative session.

Although Democrats are preparing for a contentious fight about the proposal they’re calling the Colorado option, they say they believe they can pass it.

The bill would provide Coloradans who purchase insurance on the individual market another choice by the state through private insurance at what’s expected to be a more affordable cost by Jan. 1, 2022. The bill targets counties that only have one option to create competition and lower premiums and will require hospitals to participate. If everyone on the individual market opts to use the plan, that’s about 8% of Coloradans, bill sponsors have said. In some rural parts of the state, participation is expected to be higher.

 

Check out this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, and listen to House Majority Leader Alec Garnett explain what might happen next if a legislator or staffer at the State Capitol ends up testing positive for COVID-19.

 

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Whaaa??? Ken Buck Votes No on Coronavirus Funding

THURSDAY UPDATE: By a vote of 96-1, the U.S. Senate approved the $8.3 billion coronavirus response legislation that passed out of the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was the lone dissenting voice in the Senate; he joins Colorado Rep. Ken Buck and Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs as literally the only Members of Congress who refused to support a funding bill to help in the response to the ongoing COVID-19 threat. President Trump is expected to sign the bill as soon as it reaches his desk.

—–

UPDATE #2: This is working out well:

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UPDATE: Here’s Buck’s, uh, rationale for today’s vote. We’re sure it’s not lost on our readers that a guy accusing Democrats of “politicizing” the coronavirus just did exactly that:

Cool. Maybe you can ask the coronavirus to stop infecting people while you have this spending debate.

—–

Rep. Ken Buck (R) pressed the red button today.

There were only two “NO” votes today when the House of Representatives voted to pass an $8.3 billion emergency spending bill for coronavirus (COVID-19) response. As CNBC reports:

The House passed a sweeping bill Wednesday allocating more than $8 billion in emergency funds to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

The vote was 415-2. Republican Reps. Ken Buck of Colorado and Andy Biggs of Arizona were the only members to vote against the legislation. [Pols emphasis]

The emergency funding package, which provides more than $3 billion in vaccine research and $2.2 billion in prevention and preparedness efforts, was unveiled hours earlier following days of negotiations on Capitol Hill.

The coronavirus bill will head to the Senate, where leaders there hope they can quickly bring it to a vote. If the bill passes that chamber, it will move to the Oval Office desk of President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.

Yeah, that part about Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) caused a double-take for us, too. But here’s the official vote count:

We can’t imagine what kind of ridiculous logic Buck will try to use to justify voting “NO” on funding for coronavirus response. Remember that this is the same Ken Buck who is the Chairman of the State Republican Party in Colorado, so he’s really going to have a lot of explaining to do here.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Super Tuesday Spectacular!

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin spend plenty of time trying to sift through Super Tuesday results; we check in on some more odd behavior by Colorado Republicans; Sen. Cory Gardner’s 2020 campaign narrative confuses us; and House Majority Leader Alec Garnett joins us again for an update on the state legislature — including potential actions the legislature could take if the coronavirus seeps into the State Capitol. 

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

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 2)

March didn’t really come “in” like a lion or a lamb — more like a mildly-irritating raccoon.  It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Super Tuesday got a whole lot more interesting over the weekend. Former Vice President Joe Biden won a decisive victory in the South Carolina Primary on Saturday; Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg subsequently suspended his Presidential campaign (as did businessman Tom Steyer).

Biden is certainly riding the momentum wave at the moment, picking up notable endorsements (including from Denver Mayor Michael Hancock) and raising big money since his South Carolina victory. Sanders, meanwhile, continues to throw down monster fundraising numbers. As for Elizabeth Warrenshe’s not dead yet and is rolling out new endorsements of her own. Finally, Amy Klobuchar will make a last pre-Tuesday campaign stop in Colorado today.

Colorado is among 14 states that will count ballots on Tuesday in a Democratic race that might have become a Bernie Sanders/ Joe Biden battle. For more on the local race to the polls, check out this story from The Denver Post. Here’s a look at the latest ballot return numbers in Colorado.

REMEMBER: If you still have a ballot at home, or in your purse, or wherever, DO NOT PUT IT IN THE MAIL. Ballots must be RECEIVED by 7:00 on Tuesday; go to GoVoteColorado.com for more information on where to find a ballot drop-off location.

 

► The outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which is now being commonly referred to as COVID-19, is quickly becoming a significant political problem for the Trump administration. As CNN reports:

Trump’s earlier rambling, contentious and widely criticized first public appearance on the issue last week as well as inflammatory remarks on the virus and Democrats at a campaign rally Friday night threatened to overshadow its mitigation efforts. His previous comments that the number of US cases could soon disappear and that his administration had made “tremendous” efforts to thwart the virus arriving in the US now look premature.

On Sunday night, the President crowed about a poll that he said showed 77% of adults were confident the government could handle the situation.

“Gallup Poll numbers on the handling of this situation are outstanding, the best. Thank you!”

The poll that he was referring to, however, appeared to be one conducted between February 3-16 — well before the deaths on US soil, the spike of new cases and the stock market routs last week that exemplified growing panic about the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Trumpistas continue to insist that mean Democrats and those journalist jerks are at fault for politicizing the fact that President Trump is screwing up:

Vice President Pence defended the President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., for saying that Democrats were rooting for “millions” of Americans to die so the coronavirus could hurt Trump politically. And he complained that the President — who has done more to coarsen public life than any other modern politician — had been the target of “very strong rhetoric” from his opponents and the media.

Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported on the Trump administration’s panicked attempts to get control of a coronavirus narrative.

Here in Colorado, COVID-19 is starting to impact larger events.

 

► The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will take up two cases that could decide the ultimate fate of Obamacare…but probably not before the 2020 election. From Vox.com:

The Republican legal arguments against Obamacare in this case are widely viewed as ridiculous, even by many lawyers and scholars who spent much of the last decade trying to convince the courts to repeal President Obama’s signature achievement…

…And yet, the lawsuit has received very favorable treatment from Republican federal judges. Judge Reed O’Connor, a former Republican Senate staffer turned district judge, ordered the whole Affordable Care Act repealed in its entirety. Two Republican federal appeals court judges reached a somewhat more mild conclusion — striking down a small portion of the law and then sending the case back down to O’Connor to reconsider which other provisions should fall. But, while that holding creates more work for Judge O’Connor, he remains likely to kill as much of the law as he can.

In addition to weighing the merits of the plaintiffs’ arguments, the Supreme Court will need to consider whether any federal court has jurisdiction to hear this case. As a general rule, no one is allowed to challenge a law in federal court unless they can show they were injured by that law. Because the zeroed-out mandate does nothing, it’s highly doubtful that anyone is allowed to challenge it.

In the meantime, Colorado isn’t waiting around to push forward on health care changes.

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Surveys, Sausages, and Sanders

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, we get some fascinating new polling insights from Fawn Bolak (1:10); House Majority Leader Alec Garnett is back to take us through the latest in legislative sausage making (14:16); President Trump makes a bananas visit to Colorado Springs (35:27); and we’re feeling the Bern — whether we like it or not (50:25).

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

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 27)

Happy “National Protein Day.” Go eat a burger, or something. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

As the United States braces for what appears to be an inevitable Coronavirus outbreak, more attention is (rightfully) being paid to Trump administration decisions that have left the country more vulnerable to a pandemic. From The Washington Post:

President Trump insists the United States is “very, very ready” for dealing with the coronavirus. Yet two years ago, his administration undercut its own ability to respond to such an outbreak.

Trump announced in a news conference last night that Vice President Pence will lead the federal government’s response to the deadly coronavirus, trying to reassure Americans amid growing concerns of a global health crisis that has led to tumbling stocks as the virus spreads around the world…

…Trump didn’t mention that there’s evidence the virus could now be spreading within the United States. A person in Northern California has contracted the coronavirus without traveling to regions hit by the outbreak or coming in contact with anyone known to have the infection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last night…

And he didn’t point to the history that is making his administration’s response to this new outbreak more difficult. Two years ago, the administration disbanded two permanent groups formed by President Obama to respond to the 2014 Ebola outbreak one within the White House National Security Council and another within the Department of Homeland Security.

That sounds bad, right? But it’s just the beginning…

That’s not all Trump did. He also proposed cutting the parts of the budgets at NSC, DHS, and Health and Human Services designated for fighting global disease. And in early 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention dramatically downsized its epidemic prevention activities in 39 out of 49 countries because money was running out. 

We should also mention that putting Vice President Mike Pence in charge of Coronavirus response is a dicey choice considering Pence’s history with such efforts; Pence was Governor of Indiana during the worst outbreak of HIV in state history, and he regularly overruled suggestions by health officials on how to handle the problem.

If you are concerned about how to prepare for Coronavirus coming to Colorado, experts say to plan like you might for a big snowstorm. 9News.com has more on separating fact from fiction.

 

► Colorado lawmakers gave final approval to legislation that will repeal the death penalty in Colorado. As The Denver Post explains:

After nearly five hours of debate Wednesday, the state House voted 38-27 for the repeal, with three Democrats joining all 24 House Republicans in voting against the bill.

In total, lawmakers spent about 36 hours debating and taking testimony on the bill since late January, when the bill moved through the Senate.

The bill now heads to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis, who will have 10 days to sign it or allow it to become law without any action.

 

► There had been scant polling information in Colorado related to the Democratic Presidential Primary until recently. A new poll from Data For Progress shows Bernie Sanders leading Elizabeth Warren in Colorado. Republican polling firm Magellan Strategies sees similar numbers.

Meanwhile, Colorado Public Radio reports that more candidates are spending money in Colorado ahead of Super Tuesday…but nobody is dropping more coin than Michael Bloomberg. Of course, nobody seems to be dropping in polls more than Bloomberg, either.

 

 If you still have a mail ballot ahead of Super Tuesday, DO NOT DROP IT IN THE MAIL. In order to make sure that your vote is counted, take your ballot to a drop-off location in your area; go to GoVoteColorado.com for more information. You might also check out this Super Tuesday Q&A from Colorado Public Radio.

Republican polling firm Magellan Strategies updates its ballot return numbers HERE.

 

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Colorado GOP Chairman Sponsors Bill To Punish Colorado

Colorado GOP chairman Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley).

As originally reported earlier this month by Fox News, and we wanted to be sure to mention this before it slips down the memory hole:

Republicans in the House and the Senate are introducing legislation that would block federal funds from states that allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses — the latest move in an escalating fight over “sanctuary” laws.

The Stop Greenlighting Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants Act would block funds to sanctuary states — which limit local cooperation with federal immigration authorities — and those that give licenses to illegal immigrants. Specifically, it would halt Justice Department (DOJ) grants, in particular those awarded under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which is a top source of federal criminal justice funding for states.

The legislation is being introduced in the Senate by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. It is being co-sponsored by Sens. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Mike Rounds, R-S.D. Meanwhile, in the House, Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., is introducing companion legislation. [Pols emphasis] That bill is co-sponsored by 21 other members.

“Tennesseans know all too well what can happen when illegal immigrants are granted driver licenses,” Blackburn said in a statement…

Here in Colorado, as readers should know, we’ve had a law on the books since 2013 (the Colorado Road and Community Safety Act) that allows undocumented immigrants to who meet specific requirements, including an affidavit promising to apply for legal status if they haven’t already, to obtain a state-issued driver license. The licenses issued to noncitizens are clearly marked to not provide evidence of citizenship. “What can happen” when undocumented immigrants are allowed to obtain driver licenses is pretty simple: they get driver’s licenses. That means they’ve passed driver safety tests, and are able to do basic things expected of everyone on the roads in Colorado like purchase auto insurance.

For Colorado’s Rep. Ken Buck, who is leading the unlikely House effort to pass this legislation despite the fact that it would jeopardize federal funding for his own state, this gratuitous attack on a law put in place to protect all Colorado residents from untrained, uninsured motorists is both insult and injury. Since Rep. Buck is incapable of snapping his fingers and making the undocumented population in Colorado disappear, what he’s essentially saying with this bill is that it’s better to have uninsured, untested motorists on Colorado roads. How is that a responsible position for any public official to take?

Especially with one of our own elected lawmakers leading the charge, this attack on Colorado–and every other state trying to develop reasonable policies to manage public safety and immigration issues–is the public policy equivalent of Buck cutting off Colorado’s nose to spite our face.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 26)

Yes, that person you walked by on the street is well aware that they have a black smudge on their forehead. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The Democratic Presidential candidates took to the debate stage in South Carolina on Tuesday, where many a sharp elbow was thrown — most of them aimed at Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Here’s a local perspective from The Post and Courier in South Carolina.

If you’re looking for the obligatory “Winners and Losers” analysis, here’s CNN; The Washington Post; Politico; Vox.com; and The New York Times. Most seem to agree that the biggest “losers” were the inept moderators from CBS News.

As Slate.com writes, the problem with digesting these debates may just be that there are too many candidates in the Democratic field.

 

► Congressional leaders have decided that they can no longer wait for the Trump administration to get off its collective butt and start taking action to deal with the spread of the Coronavirus. From The Washington Post:

Congressional leaders on Wednesday planned to begin designing a large emergency spending package for dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, revealing the wide gulf between lawmakers who have demanded more action and a White House that has sought a more measured response.

Even government officials have been split internally about how to respond, with some health officials urging more public preparedness while a number of political appointees have sought to downplay any risks. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, appearing at a congressional hearing Wednesday, sought to clarify that the near-term risk to Americans was low, but that the number of cases would likely increase.

The White House on Monday evening requested $1.8 billion to deal with coronavirus, and $535 million of that would be rerouted from an account that is designed to deal with Ebola. But Trump administration officials told senators Tuesday that they knew their request would need to grow, said a Senate aide who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe discussions with the White House.

Democrats and a number of Republicans have decried the White House request as insufficient and are aiming for a more robust package.

President Trump, meanwhile, is blaming the media for stoking fears about Coronavirus while many administration spokespeople continue to insist that everything will be just fine. Trump is holding a press conference to address the subject today; there has been talk that the White House might appoint a “coronavirus czar” to oversee the government’s response. The White House also wants to fund some coronavirus response by cutting money meant for low-income heating programs.

On Tuesday, Elizabeth Warren ripped Trump for his slow response to the spread of the virus on the same day that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that it was a matter of “when,” and not “if,” Coronavirus starts spreading across the United States.

CBS4 Denver has more on how Colorado officials are preparing for a potential outbreak.

 

 Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) voted in favor of two more anti-choice bills in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

 

 If you plan to mail your Presidential Primary ballot ahead of Super Tuesday, you should probably make sure to drop it in the mailbox by the end of the day; go to GoVoteColorado.com for more information on ballot drop-off locations. If you are having trouble making up your mind…you’re not alone.

Meanwhile, The Denver Post looks at ballot returns thus far and notes that more Unaffiliated voters are deciding to cast a ballot in the Democratic Primary. Colorado Public Radio breaks down how the candidates stand on health care, which continues to poll as the top issue among most voters.

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (February 24)

We’re one week away from Super Tuesday, which makes today…still just a regular “Monday.” It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Colorado’s votes in the Presidential Primary won’t be will be revealed until next Tuesday, so you still have some time to make your decision (but only a few more days if you plan on returning your ballot by mail). Go to GoVoteColorado.com if you need ballot or voting information. Today is the last day to register to vote and still receive a ballot for the Presidential Primary. Also, remember that 17-year-olds can vote on Super Tuesday as long as they will officially turn 18 before the November General Election.

Elizabeth Warren held a big campaign rally at the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver on Sunday and is making a late push for undecided Colorado voters. Pete Buttigieg, meanwhile, made a campaign stop in Aurora; Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun has more on a cool moment from Buttigieg’s “town hall” meeting.

Bernie Sanders was not in Colorado over the weekend, but his big victory in Nevada gives his campaign yet more momentum. Former Vice President Joe Biden, fresh off a second-place finish in Nevada, gets a big endorsement in South Carolina.

CBS4 Denver takes a different angle on recent candidate visits by profiling a local audio/visual company that makes sure these big events can be heard and seen.

 

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post pens a must-read story on the ongoing loyalty purge being implemented at the request of President Trump:

When Trump demands that the Justice Department do his political bidding and/or rages at it for failing to do so, the press tends to treat this as flowing from an actual belief on Trump’s part: He really thinks a “deep state” cabal is out to get him, and he’s fighting back.

But this is a fundamental error. Trump is raging at officials who constitute an obstacle to his own active, ongoing corruption of the rule of law. And it’s working: The Justice Department actually is carrying out his corrupt bidding in many ways.

Barr actually did work to reduce Stone’s sentencing recommendation. (Even if you think the original recommendation was too strict, this is still not okay, given who Stone is.) Barr actually has opened a direct line to Trump’s private attorney for dirt on Joe Biden. The Justice Department actually did try to help block the whistleblower complaint revealing Trump’s Ukraine shakedown from getting to Congress. Barr actually did badly mislead the country about the special counsel’s findings.

As Aaron Rupar writes for Vox.com, Trump’s rambling explanations for some of the reasons behind his purge don’t make a lot of sense.

 

 Stories continue to filter out after last week’s campaign rally for President Trump in Colorado Springs. Among the more notable storylines: Trump’s completely dishonest claims about wind power, which is a burgeoning industry in Colorado. Republican elected officials in Colorado aren’t batting an eye, but at least one notable Mayor is pushing back at Trump’s wind rage.

 

 As The Denver Post reports, Colorado is getting national attention for coming health care battles:

Colorado has become a national battleground in the health care fight, particularly since Gov. Jared Polis and lawmakers began pursuing a state insurance option. A “dark money” campaign has aired more than $800,000 worth of ads and sent mailers to voters criticizing Democrats’ efforts.

Sponsors are confident they have the votes to pass a bill in the Democrat-controlled General Assembly, but they have made significant changes to the initial recommendations in an attempt to garner more support across the aisle. They’re not proposing a pure public option but rather a statewide health insurance option that would be run by private insurance. Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon, said the sponsors are also willing to consider amendments as the bill moves through the statehouse.

 

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A U.S. Senator Held a Town Hall Meeting; Guess Which One?

Sen. Cory Gardner (left) and Sen. Michael Bennet. You’ve probably only seen Bennet in real life.

The answer to the question in the headline is not very difficult to ascertain, so we’ll just skip to this story from The Denver Post:

On Tuesday evening, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet fielded concerns about the upcoming election during a town hall to a crowd of around 120 at the Peak Community and Wellness Center in Littleton.

“Everyone has to understand what’s at stake here,” Bennet said. “The rule of law is getting shattered.”…

…Bennet discussed the challenges Coloradans face trying to afford health care, housing and higher education. Jo Douglas, a 60-year-old from Littleton, asked Bennet about getting health insurance plans that are more accustomed to the needs of Coloradans.

“We have a broken health care market,” Bennet said. “Part of the problem we have, especially in rural areas, is there aren’t enough people in certain parts Colorado to have a real market to get people insured in a way that’s predictable and affordable.”

Bennet plans to hold two more town hall events this week: in Grand Junction (Thursday) and Steamboat Springs (Friday).

As a candidate for President, Bennet has spent most of the last year campaigning in other states; one week after ending his Presidential bid, he was back in Colorado talking to constituents.

Colorado’s other Senator, Republican Cory Gardner, last held a public town hall meeting on November 20, 2017. He has not been busy running for President.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Gardner on Guard

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin talk about the Presidential candidates as they start filing into Colorado; new polling on impeachment is bad news for Sen. Cory Gardner; and voter and demographic changes hint at more trouble for Republicans.

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

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (February 19)

Today is the 50th day of 2020; please celebrate responsibly. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► We really can’t be far away from Donald Trump declaring himself King of America. As The Washington Post reports:

On Tuesday, Trump granted clemency to a clutch of political allies, circumventing the usual Justice Department process. The pardons and commutations followed Trump’s moves to punish witnesses in his impeachment trial, publicly intervene in a pending legal case to urge leniency for a friend, attack a federal judge, accuse a juror of bias and threaten to sue his own government for investigating him.

Trump defended his actions, saying he has the right to shape the country’s legal systems as he sees fit. [Pols emphasis]

“I’m allowed to be totally involved,” he told reporters as he left Washington on Tuesday for a trip to California, Nevada and Arizona. “I’m actually, I guess, the chief law enforcement officer of the country. But I’ve chosen not to be involved.”

Of course, this is NOT true. The Attorney General is the chief law enforcement officer in the United States, but when the AG just does whatever the President wants…

The president’s post-impeachment behavior has alarmed Attorney General William P. Barr, who has told people close to the president that he is willing to quit unless Trump stops publicly commenting on ongoing criminal matters, according to two administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. It also has appalled several legal experts and former officials, who have said his direct intervention in legal matters risks further politicizing law enforcement at a time of fraying confidence in the Justice Department.

As The Washington Post reports in a separate story, Trump is almost daring Attorney General William Barr to quit his job:

Against the wishes of Attorney General William P. Barr, President Trump continued to tweet Wednesday about the Justice Department, relaying the sentiments of conservative allies that Barr should “clean house” and target those involved in the Russia investigation.

Former Colorado U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer is among many current and former Justice Department officials who think Barr should resign

You can thank Senate Republicans for fully unlocking Trump’s dictator mode. Here in Colorado, voters are well aware that Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) voted for Trump’s impeachment acquittal purely as political protection.

 

The Democratic candidates for President will debate tonight in Nevada, which will also mark the first on-stage appearance of former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Here’s more on how candidates are courting Coloradans leading up to Super Tuesday on March 3:

♦ Jon Murray of The Denver Post breaks down how Bloomberg has been courting politicos in Colorado for decades.

♦ Elizabeth Warren has launched a new ad campaign in Colorado.

 Amy Klobuchar will be in Denver on Thursday. Tulsi Gabbard will be in Colorado Springs and Boulder. Joe Biden will not be appearing anywhere.

♦ President Trump is in Colorado Springs on Thursday with Sen. Cory Gardner. As The Colorado Springs Independent reports, Trump’s expensive visit will be paid for…by local taxpayers.

 

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Iacino Picks Up Big Endorsement in CO-3

Gail Schwartz

Businessman James Iacino, who is running against Diane Mitsch Bush for the Democratic nomination in CO-3 (Western/Southern Colorado) announced a significant endorsement today. From a press release:

Today, former State Senator, and former candidate for the 3rd Congressional District, Gail Schwartz announced her endorsement of James Iacino ahead of the June 2020 Democratic Primary.

From 2007 until 2015 Gail Schwartz represented large areas of the district in the Colorado Senate. from Eagle to Gunnison, and as far south the San Luis Valley and New Mexico border. Expressing her support Schwartz stated:

“I’m proud to endorse James Iacino, Democrat for Congress in Colorado’s 3rd district. A proven leader on sustainability, James also has the track record and solid business experience to help build an economy that works for everyone,” said Fmr. State Senator Gail Schwartz. “Having worked his way from the loading docks to running one of Colorado’s most successful businesses, we can trust James to look out for the hardworking families of Western and Southern Colorado. It is time for a strong voice in Washington who will stand up for the values of rural Colorado. I know James Iacino, and he has what it takes to beat Scott Tipton in 2020.”

Schwartz has long been a visible figure in Democratic politics, even aside from the time she spent in the legislature and as a Congressional candidate (her husband, prominent attorney Alan Schwartz, is also a well-known fundraiser). Gail Schwartz wasn’t able to defeat Republican Rep. Scott Tipton in 2016, but she raised a ton of money and her strong campaign put in play a seat that would otherwise have been largely ignored.

Iacino finished 2019 with impressive fundraising numbers, pulling in $295k compared to just $182k for Tipton. The Schwartz endorsement is a tangible sign of real momentum for Iacino as we move closer to caucus season.

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Trump Unleashed: Acquittal Has “Emboldened” President

Really, really great.

When Senate Republicans acquitted President Trump on two impeachment charges on February 5, some foolhardy souls — like Maine Sen. Susan Collinstried to argue that the impeachment process itself would make Trump more introspective and less authoritarian. That message remained digestible about as long as a container of cottage cheese left out on the kitchen counter.

As Salon.com reports today, Collins can’t run fast enough away from that narrative:

Collins, R-Maine, dodged questions from a reporter Wednesday who pressed her on whether she still believed her claim that President Donald Trump has learned a “lesson” by being impeached.

Collins, along with several other Republicans, defended her vote to acquit Trump in his Senate impeachment trial by arguing that though his actions were “wrong,” he had learned a “pretty big lesson” from being impeached.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) never pretended that Trump would be chastened by his near-impeachment experience (though his acquittal explanation was equally ridiculous), but like Collins, Gardner wants nothing to do with questions about Trump’s behavior since he was officially let off the hook for obstruction of Congress and the extortion of a foreign country for personal gain. That’s because Trump has been an absolute menace in the last 10 days, laying waste to government norms and institutions because he is convinced that he can.

As the Associated Press reports in a frightening story today, Gardner and his fellow Senate Republicans have absolutely made Trump more dangerous — to everyone:

In the week since his acquittal on impeachment charges, a fully emboldened President Donald Trump is demonstrating his determination to assert an iron grip on government, pushing his Justice Department to ease up on a longtime friend while using the levers of presidential powers to exact payback on real and perceived foes.

Trump has told confidants in recent days that he felt both vindicated and strengthened by his acquittal in the Senate, believing Republicans have rallied around him in unprecedented fashion while voters were turned off by the political process,[Pols emphasis] according to four White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

Since then, Trump and his aides have moved with haste to clear his administration of those he sees as insufficiently loyal, reaching all the way back to the time of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Or as Jennifer Rubin writes today for The Washington Post:


Trump isn’t just pushing on Justice Department lawyers — he’s going after the judges, too:

“He’s trying to delegitimize anyone appointed by someone other than him and say that the only people who can be trusted are Trump judges,” said retired federal judge Nancy Gertner in a recent interview.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Cory Gardner.

Some of Trump’s rage-vengeance, like the firing of White House aide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, has been widely covered in the media. Other pieces have not. Again, from the AP:

In recent days, the White House has yanked a senior Treasury Department nomination away from a former Justice Department official who supervised the prosecutions of several of Trump advisers. The administration also fired an EPA official who claims he was ousted because he was deemed too friendly with Democrats. [Pols emphasis]

If you don’t train your dog to go to the bathroom outside, then you sure as hell can’t yell at him every time he pisses on the carpet. Senate Republicans taught President Trump that there were no consequences to his actions. As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer noted on Wednesday, Senate Republicans fully own The Orange Scare:

We’ll give the last word to Rubin in The Washington Post:

…without the cowardice of Republican senators including Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and others, Trump would not be lighting a fire to the Justice Department and the Constitution. Voters must remember this come November.

There aren’t enough reporters on earth for Cory Gardner to blame for this one. For Gardner and Senate Republicans, President Trump is both their leader and their charge.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (February 13)

Happy “World Radio Day.” Please celebrate responsibly. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

►As Jennifer Rubin writes for The Washington Post, President Trump is turning the Justice Department into his own political hit squad — with little sign that Senate Republicans will do anything to rein him in:

President Trump, empowered by acquittal in his impeachment trial and allowed free rein by his Republican Senate allies, has waged a war of vengeance and retribution against those who declined to enable his impeachable conduct. Now he has taken a club to the Justice Department.

The Post reports on the four prosecutors who refused to go along with their boss’s directive to reduce the sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone following Trump’s tweet criticizing the seven- to nine-year sentence recommendation…

…Aside from the Saturday night massacre, we have never seen multiple Justice Department lawyers resign to protest a presidential abuse of power.

Just as Trump tried to engage a foreign government to announce an investigation into former vice president Joe Biden and ordered up a probe of Hillary Clinton (which came to nothing), this is an egregious perversion of the rule of law. The president, like a tin-pot dictator, now uses the Justice Department to shield his criminal cronies, putting his finger on the scale in a way no other president has done in the modern era.

Politico has more on the shockwaves of Trump’s Justice Department meddling, while Vox.com takes a deeper dive into overall problems under Attorney General William Barr.

Meanwhile, CNN Congressional reporter Manu Raju approached Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) for comment on Wednesday. This was Gardner’s response:

“I’m sorry…miss my vote.”

As such, Rubin finishes her Washington Post column with an appropriate hammer:

Coming on the evening of the New Hampshire primary, the latest crisis should remind us of the stakes in 2020 and the necessity that Democrats nominate someone who can beat Trump and stop our slide into authoritarianism. It should also remind us that without the cowardice of Republican senators including Susan Collins of Maine, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Thom Tillis of North Carolina and others, Trump would not be lighting a fire to the Justice Department and the Constitution. Voters must remember this come November. [Pols emphasis]

 

► Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will visit Denver this weekend as he campaigns for the Democratic Presidential nomination, but he won’t be the only top candidate coming through our state. From Jon Murray at The Denver Post:

Sanders, the progressive U.S. senator from Vermont who won the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, has set a rally for 6 p.m. Sunday in Denver, inside the Colorado Convention Center’s Exhibition Halls C and D. Doors open at 4 p.m., the campaign says, and the event is open to the public but an RSVP is encouraged via Sanders’ website. (The location was changed to a larger venue from the convention center’s Bellco Theatre, which has a seating capacity of 5,000, due to high demand.)

Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, placed a close second Tuesday and narrowly beat Sanders in Iowa last week. He will have a town hall in Aurora at 7 p.m. Feb. 22, according to a campaign event page. The location will be revealed closer to that date, but supporters are encouraged to RSVP on his website…

…Sanders has had a small staff in Colorado for months, and Buttigieg’s campaign, hoping to capitalize on its all-volunteer effort here so far, is expected to announce the hiring of its first three staffers in Colorado on Thursday. Buttigieg’s lead staffer here will be Ken Gonzalez, who has shifted from organizing duties in Iowa, a campaign spokesperson said.

Biden, the former vice president, is scheduled to visit Denver on Monday for a private fundraiser hosted by former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. He is alone among the major candidates in not having had a large public event in Colorado so far this campaign, though he has been sending surrogates.

 

► It’s “Hate Week” at the State Capitol. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett explains how that moniker applies to what GOP lawmakers are attempting in the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast:

 

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The GMS Podcast: You’ve Got Questions; These Aren’t Answers

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin preview the New Hampshire Democratic Primary; discuss a wacky vacancy committee for Republicans that doesn’t bode well for their hopes in 2020; and delve into Sen. Cory Gardner’s impeachment debacle. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett joins us once more in our regular “Smart Alec” crossover, talking about kill committees; confusing abortion bills; and how Republican lawmakers are rolling out “Hate Week” under the Gold Dome.

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 Monday (February 10)

Valentine’s Day is on Friday; you’re welcome. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

President Trump is making his swamp…swampier. Still basking in the orange glow of a Republican Senate cover-up for his impeachment crimes, Trump is taking out his anger on administration officials and staffers who dared speak the truth. As The Atlantic explains in a story titled, “The Crime of Doing the Right Thing“:

Trump managed to wait two days after his Senate acquittal before taking care of family business, as Michael Corleone would put it, with respect to those who had upset him in the Ukraine affair.

[On Friday] he removed from the National Security Council staff Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman—along with Vindman’s twin brother, who served as an NSC attorney, for good measure. Lieutenant Colonel Vindman had had the temerity to object to Trump’s “perfect” phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and then committed the unforgivable sin of telling the truth about the matter when the House impeachment investigation sought his testimony. The brothers were, according to reports, escorted out of the White House complex…

…Trump also fired Gordon Sondland, the ambassador to the European Union, who had tried to play both sides—testifying in a fashion that upset Trump while being cagey at first and thus raising questions to House members about his candor. Sondland had managed to please nobody, and his presence on the scene at all was, in any event, a function of his large donation to the presidential inaugural committee. He had bought his way into service at the pleasure of the president and, having done so, proceeded to displease the president.

 

► After spending the end of last week bumbling and fumbling for a coherent message on why he voted to acquit President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) threw some red meat around in an interview with “Fox & Friends.” Gardner needs these softball interviews, because he keeps bombing with local news reporters asking relevant questions.

 

► Voters in New Hampshire cast their ballots in Presidential Primary race on Tuesday; on the Democratic side of the ledger, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders looks like the frontrunner.

Meanwhile, we finally found out who won the Iowa caucuses and associated delegates — well, mostly. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg won the most delegates, while Sanders appears to have won the popular vote. The Sanders campaign is indicating that it will ask for a remcanvass of votes in at least some districts; the current results would assign 14 delegates to Buttigieg and 12 delegates to Sanders. The New York Times breaks down how the Iowa caucuses went so awry for Democrats.

Here in Colorado, mail ballots for the Presidential Primary races will start going out this week; Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun has more on what to expect in your mailbox.

 

► The Trump administration budget is rolling out its new budget proposal, which seeks to cut domestic spending on the backs of Americans relying on Medicaid and food stamps, while also slashing foreign aid by a considerable amount. Via Politico:

As with his previous budget proposals, Trump is once again seeking deep and unrealistic cuts to most federal agency budgets, according to the budget summary tables. The cuts are unlikely to be embraced by Congress.

For example, the administration is seeking an 8 percent cut to USDA’s budget over current funding levels. Trump’s plan would cut the Commerce Department by 37 percent, the Education Department by 8 percent, the Energy Department by 8 percent, the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 15 percent, and the Department of Health and Human Services by 9 percent.

The administration is also seeking a 13 percent cut to the Interior Department, a 2 percent cut to the Justice Department, an 11 percent cut to the Labor Department, a nearly 21 percent cut to the State Department and a 13 percent cut to the Department of Transportation. The EPA’s budget would see a nearly 27 percent chop, the Army Corps of Engineers would see a 22 percent reduction and the Small Business Administration would see an 11 percent decrease.

As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, this seems like an odd election-year strategy for Trump:

This new budget is being widely described as a blueprint for Trump’s argument for a second term. It’s actually a very good argument against a second term.

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (February 7)

Remember that old joke about how your (grand)parents had to walk 10 miles a day to school in the snow, and it was uphill both ways? Yeah, well, your kids won’t be able to use that one. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The 2020 “Thanks for Covering Up for Me on Impeachment” tour is coming to Colorado. President Trump will stump for himself (mostly) and Sen. Cory Gardner in Colorado Springs on February 20. If you’ve always wanted to see the Big Orange Guy bloviate in person, this could be your last chance; Colorado isn’t what you’d call a “winnable state” for Trump in 2020, so he may not be back.

Gardner could use all the help he can get for his re-election bid; he’s getting absolutely hammered in Colorado for his inept explanations about why he supported Trump’s acquittal. As the editorial board of The Denver Post writes: “Coloradans deserve better than Cory Gardner.”

 

President Trump held court in front of a microphone at the White House on Thursday for an airing of grievances related to his impeachment acquittal. As Chris Cillizza of CNN explains, everyone who was in attendance should be ashamed of themselves:

Less than 24 hours after formally being acquitted by the Senate, President Donald Trump riffed for over an hour from inside the White House — a vengeful, angry, fact-challenged spew of score-settling that even for this most unorthodox of presidents was eye-opening in its tone and jaw-dropping in its boundary busting…

…It felt like watching a bully beat up a helpless kid. Sure, the bully is to blame. But the crowd of people surrounding the beating and either cheering or doing nothing at all are far worse.

Trump is Trump. While he stepped beyond where has gone before in many respects during Thursday’s “celebration,” it hard to say that no one saw this coming.

But the complicity of those in attendance — the most powerful people within the Republican Party — is what was truly astounding. Yes, the Republican Party threw in its lot with Trump (and his forced takeover of it) long ago. But to sit by or even celebrate while Trump used the White House as a combination of a campaign venue, or a bathroom wall on which to write his darkest thoughts about those who oppose him, was beyond unforgivable. [Pols emphasis]

Interestingly, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner did not warrant a special shout-out from President Trump:

Meanwhile, President Trump is working on ousting all dissidents — the honest people on payroll — from his administration, as The Washington Post reports.

 

Surrogates for Democratic Presidential candidates are scheduled to tool around in Colorado this weekend. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro is stumping for Elizabeth Warren today and tomorrow. Former “Law & Order” actor Sam Waterston will help open new field offices this weekend for Mike Bloomberg.

Elsewhere in Democratic Presidential candidate news, the campaign for Bernie Sanders is hiring more staff in Colorado and increasing its advertising budget; and State Sen. Julie Gonzales is endorsing Elizabeth Warren.

 

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A Coward and a Liar: Poor Reviews for Gardner on Impeachment

“Coloradans deserve better than Cory Gardner.”

The Denver Post (2/6/20)

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) did what everyone expected him to do yesterday when the Senate voted on two articles of impeachment against President Trump: He covered up for Trump and voted to acquit the President.

What Gardner did not do, however, was find a way to explain his rationale for acquittal in any sort of manner that would make it appear as though he was not just participating in a cover-up. Gardner’s asinine speech on the floor of the Senate was notable mostly for his misinterpretation of Alexander HamiltonGardner’s media interviews on impeachment were, frankly, insulting to Coloradans.

In response to a question from Joe St. George of Fox 31 News about whether the Senate vote set a new precedent for election interference, Gardner had the temerity to exclaim that “foreign interference in our elections is absolutely wrong.”

In an interview with Colorado Public Radio, Gardner argued that the impeachment of Trump was really just a policy kerfuffle. “This is a policy question,” he said. “Does the United States have the ability to investigate how its taxpayer dollars are being spent?”

Gardner’s bullshit was swiftly condemned by lawmakers and media outlets alike. Here’s Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora), who served as one of the House impeachment managers in the Senate trial, speaking to Colorado Public Radio in response to Gardner’s “policy disagreement” explanation:

“The trial showed unequivocally that that’s just not true. Cory Gardner is not telling the truth there.’’

Crow said further that he believed Gardner was “doing what he feels is politically in his own best interest instead of doing what is right and upholding his oath,” and it’s impossible to argue otherwise. Kyle Clark of 9News had this to say on Wednesday evening:

Hundreds of Democrats and Republicans in Congress faced that central question of whether President Trump did something wrong, and they showed the basic courage to directly answer that question for voters…

But the whole impeachment trial has now come and gone without Senator Cory Gardner ever coming up with the basic courage to directly answer that question. [Pols emphasis]

But the unkindest cut was reserved for the editorial board of The Denver Post, which absolutely lit into Colorado’s Junior Senator on Thursday:

Sen. Cory Gardner either thinks it’s OK for a president to pressure a foreign government to investigate a U.S. citizen for personal and political gain or he’s too afraid to criticize this president for doing just that.

We’re not sure which is worse.

Gardner failed to address the issue on the floor of Congress while he was explaining to the public his decision to acquit the president on that very question. In subsequent media interviews where he was asked the question directly, he did the trademark Gardner dodge and weave.

That was just the beginning. Here’s the knockout blow:

Gardner once said he would stand up to his own party. Turns out he won’t even be critical of the actions of a member of his own party. He must believe what Trump did was fine. Why won’t he just say that?

Coloradans deserve a senator who will be straightforward and honest with them. Coloradans deserve a senator with a track record of bipartisanship. Coloradans deserve a senator who will call out things that are wrong and work to correct them. Coloradans deserve better than Cory Gardner. [Pols emphasis]

Ooof. Make sure to take a moment to read the entire Post editorial.

There’s a good reason that even staunch Republicans are sick of Gardner’s crap. He might have helped save Trump’s skin on Wednesday…but nobody will be bailing Gardner out in November.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Impeach the Caucuses!

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Alan Franklin discuss the disastrous Iowa caucuses; the final day of the Senate impeachment trial; and what we learned from a couple of big last-minute campaign finance reports. We also chat again with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett in our regular “Smart Alec” crossover, covering topics including the death of a puppy mill bill; the latest on efforts to repeal the death penalty; legislation that would allow college athletes to get paid; and how Colorado decided to ditch its Presidential caucus system in favor of holding a straightforward vote. It would be impossible to not Get More Smarter this week!

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

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Will Cory Gardner Say ANYTHING on Impeachment?

UPDATE: The Senate has adjourned for the day. Gardner did not speak.

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Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) does not like talking about the subject of President Trump’s misconduct. He doesn’t talk to reporters or constituents. If he gets cornered by journalists, he melts into a puddle of pitiful talking points or blabbers out some nonsense like, “We have a trial.”

Today is the last day of the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump. Many U.S. Senators, including those facing difficult re-election campaigns in 2020, are explaining how and why they plan to vote for Trump’s acquittal on Wednesday.

But not Cory Gardner.

As CNN’s Manu Raju reported on Monday:

A number of Republican senators on Monday dodged questions about whether President Donald Trump acted appropriately with Ukraine, underscoring the internal GOP divide about his conduct even as the Senate is poised to acquit him later this week on charges of high crimes and misdemeanors.

Many Republicans instead are eager to shift the attention away from the President’s conduct and onto House Democrats, whom they argue failed to prove that Trump’s actions warrant his removal from office. Yet they won’t say if Trump acted appropriately in urging Ukraine to announce investigations that would help him politically, highlighting the fine line many are walking as they seek to avoid angering the President while not endorsing his actions…

Colorado GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, one of the most vulnerable senators up for reelection, would not comment about Trump’s conduct after the closing arguments were delivered on Monday. Gardner last week joined 50 of his GOP colleagues in voting to block any witnesses or subpoenas for documents in the Senate trial.

“We’re still in the middle of this trial,” Gardner said when asked if Trump’s conduct was appropriate. “We still have tomorrow to deliberate and consider. I made my comments about witnesses, and I’m not going to go on screen now that I still think we’re in the middle of an important process.”

After a reporter noted that closing arguments had ended, Gardner said he would reserve his comments for the Colorado press. “I’ll talk to them,” he said. [Pols emphasis]

You can forgive local reporters for not believing that #CoverUpCory plans on speaking with them on the subject of Trump’s transgressions. Our guess is that Gardner’s office will issue some sort of statement once the trial is concluded — “We HAD a trial,” perhaps? — and that will be all we hear from the Yuma Republican. At most Gardner will show up as a guest on some small right-wing radio program in Colorado in the next week, or his office will again convince Shaun Boyd of CBS4 Denver to pretend to interview him.

Gardner has made it this far without saying anything of substance about Trump, Ukraine, or impeachment; there is little reason to think he’ll break that streak. On the first day of impeachment hearings in the House of Represenatives, Gardner issued a video statement about…some sort of new committee related to the Olympics.

Gardner knows full well that the central arguments in Trump’s defense are complete horseshit, but he’s cool with it. Late last week — after much equivocating and obfuscation — Gardner finally acknowledged (via statement) that he planned to vote against the introduction of new witnesses in the Senate impeachment trial, all but closing the door on any possibility of a serious accounting of the accusations against President Trump.

We’ll update this post if Gardner actually speaks about his vote on the Senate floor (or anywhere else, for that matter). We don’t need to tell you not to hold your breath.

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