The Get More Smarter Podcast: COVID Conspiracies

We’re a little late this week with a new episode. But then again, days of the week have lost all meaning anyway.

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii talk with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett about everything the state legislature is not doing at the moment; we discuss the many ways in which local Republicans are digging coronavirus holes for themselves; we try to make rational arguments for two coronavirus conspiracy theories; and we find Sen. Cory Gardner unfamiliar with the man in the mirror.

Look out next week for some bonus content, featuring an exclusive new interview.

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

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Get More Smarter on Friday (April 3)

Hey, you made it through another week of this — that’s not nothing. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us 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

 

The Trump administration is struggling to actually implement many of the economic relief measures contained in last month’s $2.2 Trillion spending bill. First, here’s CNN on those stimulus checks that were supposed to be coming right away:

Americans likely won’t begin to see direct payments from the coronavirus stimulus bill until at least April 13 and it could take 20 weeks for all the checks to be mailed, Trump administration officials told lawmakers, according to a House Democratic memo obtained by CNN.

The timeline means tens of millions of Americans will have to wait to get badly needed assistance, despite repeated earlier suggestions from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that the money would go out as soon as April 6.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is also confounding the banks, as The Washington Post reports:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin vowed from the White House podium yesterday that small businesses battered by the coronavirus epidemic could access $350 billion in taxpayer-backed cash quickly starting on Friday. But as the rescue effort debuts, banks are concerned in part about how to assess the risks of small businesses applying for assistance directly to them, even as the federal government is guaranteeing those loans.

JPMorgan Chase, for instance, posted a notice online that it won’t be accepting applications from prospective borrowers. “Financial institutions like ours are still awaiting guidance from the SBA and the U.S. Treasury,” it said.

Banks are asking questions about the length of the loans, the interest rates they can charge, and how much due diligence financial institutions are responsible for performing on borrowers

Take the politicians out of Washington D.C.! Put businesspeople in charge! This is working out great!

 

Is the White House overestimating or underestimating the potential death toll from COVID-19? Nobody knows, because it’s unclear how the White House came up with its projections. From The Washington Post:

Leading disease forecasters, whose research the White House used to conclude 100,000 to 240,000 people will die nationwide from the coronavirus, were mystified when they saw the administration’s projection this week.

The experts said they don’t challenge the numbers’ validity but that they don’t know how the White House arrived at them. [Pols emphasis]

White House officials have refused to explain how they generated the figure — a death toll bigger than the United States suffered in the Vietnam War or the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They have not provided the underlying data so others can assess its reliability or provided long-term strategies to lower that death count.

Some of President Trump’s top advisers have expressed doubts about the estimate, according to three White House officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. There have been fierce debates inside the White House about its accuracy.

There is a non-zero chance that President Trump literally picked these numbers out of a hat.

 

As CNN reports, two top Trump administration officials were publicly voicing concerns about U.S. readiness in the face of a pandemic LAST APRIL:

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Tim Morrison, then a special assistant to the President and senior director for weapons of mass destruction and biodefense on the National Security Council, made the comments at the BioDefense Summit in April 2019.

“Of course, the thing that people ask: ‘What keeps you most up at night in the biodefense world?’ Pandemic flu, of course. I think everyone in this room probably shares that concern,” Azar said, before listing off efforts to mitigate the impact of flu outbreaks.

The Trump administration is facing scrutiny over its preparations for the coronavirus pandemic and its slow response to provide states and cities assistance in testing kits and personal protective equipment. The 2019 summit, hosted by the assistant secretary for preparedness and response in the Department of Health and Human Services to “discuss and solicit input on implementing the National Biodefense Strategy,” offers insights into early awareness of the potential for a pandemic threat.

Transcripts of Azar’s and Morrison’s comments at the summit, which have not been previously reported on, are available on the HHS website.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said no one predicted a pandemic crisis like the one caused by coronavirus. [Pols emphasis]

 

Here’s the latest fact-checking from CNN of President Trump’s coronavirus “news briefings.”

 

► Weld County has surged to the top of the list in Colorado for the largest number of coronavirus deaths. Weld County is represented in Congress by social distancing skeptic Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). Sure, maybe it’s a coincidence.

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 2)

On this day in 1513, the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León first caught sight of land in what is now Florida; nobody was around to tell his cruise ship to go somewhere else. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us 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

 

As The Associated Press reports, jobless claims in the United States are skyrocketing to literally unprecedented levels:

More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week — doubling a record high set just one week earlier — a sign that layoffs are accelerating in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Combined with last week’s report that 3.3 million people sought unemployment aid two weeks ago, the U.S. economy has now suffered nearly 10 million layoffs in just the past few weeks — far exceeding the figure for any corresponding period on record.

 

► It is not hyperbole to say that states with Democratic Governors have generally responded better to the coronavirus outbreak than states with Republicans in charge. There are two stark examples of this in the southeastern United States, where Republican Governors in Florida and Georgia are reacting at the speed of molasses.

As The Washington Post reports, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finally issued a statewide stay-at-home order on Wednesday…much too late:

DeSantis took heavy criticism from state lawmakers for refusing to enact such an order until this week, even as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases have nearly surpassed 7,000 in the state, including at least 85 deaths as of Tuesday.

The daily reports from the Florida Department of Health drive the fact home: The number of people testing positive for covid-19 has accelerated rapidly, nearly doubling in the past four days, with 3,274 new cases, bringing the statewide total to 6,741 as of Tuesday evening.

The state reported 857 people hospitalized and 85 deaths as of Tuesday, with the heaviest concentration of infection in Broward and Miami-Dade counties along the southeast coast and pockets in other areas like Tampa and Orange County, home of Walt Disney World. On Tuesday alone, 14 deaths were reported in the state, according to the Miami Herald.

But DeSantis looks like a damn rocket surgeon compared to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Again, from The Washington Post:

After resisting a statewide stay-at-home order for days, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) succumbed to the pressure and issued one on Wednesday. Part of the reason, he said, was that he had just learned some new information.

Kemp said he was “finding out that this virus is now transmitting before people see signs.”

“Those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad, but we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours,” he said. He added that the state’s top doctor told him that “this is a game-changer.” 

It may have been a game-changer, but it was a game-changer weeks or even months ago. [Pols emphasis] That’s when health officials started emphasizing that asymptomatic people are transmitting the coronavirus. The idea that Kemp didn’t know this is striking. But he’s merely the latest top politician to indicate that he’s unfamiliar with the science even as he’s making life-or-death decisions for his constituents.

Really? Really? Kemp just learned that asymptomatic people are transmitting COVID-19??? Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on the bumbling coronavirus responses of DeSantis and Kemp.

States with Democrats in charge, like California and Washington, are seeing a flattening curve of coronavirus infections thanks to their swift actions.

Governor Jared Polis — who has notably not had the same trouble as DeSantis and Kemp — is asking the federal government for more assistance in procuring personal protective equipment (PPE). From a press release:

On March 28, Governor Polis sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence requesting additional PPE and ventilators to address the severe shortage Colorado is facing.

“We are facing a crisis-level shortage of these essential supplies to protect our health care workers and first responders. Colorado’s COVID-19 death rate is rising faster than any other state right now; the pandemic is spreading so fast that lags in testing are masking the true conditions experienced by Coloradans across the state,” Governor Polis wrote.

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado is working quickly to secure its own medical supplies because the federal government has not been able to answer the call quickly enough. The Department of Homeland Security says national stockpiles of PPE are essentially depleted.

Also on Wednesday, Gov. Polis announced that Colorado schools would remain closed for in-person learning through at least April 30.

 

► Kudos for CNN for its daily fact-checking of President Trump’s coronavirus “news briefings.”

 

► The State Supreme Court has ruled that the Colorado legislature can pick up where it left off when work was suspended last month because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Lawmakers had asked the court to rule on whether the 120-day session language in the state constitution refers to consecutive days or if it can be split up by a recess (in this case because of coronavirus).

 

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

 

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Sorry Republicans, COVID-19 Won’t Break The Legislature

Senator Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Parker).

As Denver7’s Robert Garrison reports, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled yesterday on an important constitutional question regarding the Colorado General Assembly’s 120-day legislative session–after being forced to adjourn for public health reasons as the COVID-19 pandemic ramped up, can the legislature get back to work seamlessly once it’s safe, or does a narrow interpretation of the law require the further disruption of normal life in a public health emergency?

The ruling, fortunately, came down on the side of not making it harder for government to do its job:

The Colorado legislature can pause and pick up where it left off when it was adjourned on March 14 due to coronavirus concerns, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.

Under Colorado state law, the legislative session is limited to 120 days unless the governor calls a special session. But in a 4-3 decision, the state’s high court agreed that the days do not have to be counted consecutively during a state of an emergency, meaning the clock on the legislative session has essentially been paused…

With this ruling, the General Assembly will be able to count only “working calendar days” toward the 120-day limit, in the context of this public health disaster emergency.

As Marianne Goodland at the Colorado Springs Gazette reported a week ago when opposing briefs were submitted to the Colorado Supreme Court, this is not the ruling Republicans in the General Assembly wanted:

A brief filed on behalf of all 40 Republican lawmakers from the General Assembly was submitted Tuesday by former U.S. Attorney Troy Eid, a former cabinet official in the Owens administration.

In that brief, Eid argues that the plain language of the state Constitution, as amended by voters in 1988, says the regular legislative session is 120 consecutive days. He also claims Joint Rule 44(g) which lawmakers adopted in 2009 as a way of dealing with a public health crisis, is unconstitutional because it attempts to amend the Constitution. He also maintains that there are already alternative ways to deal with an emergency, such as a special session called by the governor or the General Assembly…

Eid cited a Colorado Springs Gazette editorial on Nov. 5, 1988, that said “at the very least, if you believe the adage that one’s life, liberty or property are safe when the Legislatures is in session, then Amendment 3 would keep us safe for two-thirds of the year.”

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

GOP leadership in the House and Senate were in unanimous in saying nay to allowing the session to resume without counting the days missed due to the pandemic–which would just happen to have had the effect of derailing most of the legislative agenda of the Democratic majority ahead of a major election, the Denver Post’s Alex Burness reported late last week:

“In November 1988, the People of Colorado overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to limit their state legislature to no more than 120 general session days each year, with each session ending on a date certain,” [Senate Minority Leader Chris] Holbert said in a statement. “That literally means that legislative days must be counted consecutively.”

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, said extending the session would set a dangerous precedent.

After losing their case yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville put out considerably more restrained statements, with Holbert actually claiming to be “grateful” that the Court provided guidance on how to proceed–just the opposite of what he asked for.

Former state Sen. Greg Brophy, however, was not exactly what you’d call restrained. The word is unhinged.

In the end, what we have here is another striking example of the two very different approaches Republicans and Democrats take to governing, in Colorado and elsewhere. Republicans rely philosophically and in practice on often absurdly rigid interpretations of the law to demand outcomes which are plainly at odds with what should be everyone’s goal: government that functions effectively to meet the needs of the governed.

For everyone who doesn’t want to see government “drowned in the bathtub,” this decision is a big win.

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GOP State House Candidate Faces Possible Disqualification

(Oops – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A Republican race for an Arapahoe County legislative seat could be headed toward turmoil, as one of the two candidates is registered as an Unaffiliated voter, potentially disqualifying him from running for office as a Republican under Colorado law.

Steve Monahan and Bill Klocek are facing off for the state House District 3 seat, which covers swaths of Cherry Hills Village, Englewood, and Greenwood Village. It’s currently represented by Democrat Meg Froelich.

It’s Monahan who’s officially an Unaffiliated voter, according to records obtained from the Colorado Secretary of State’s website, which also contains information about rules that prohibit a candidate from running for office with a party without being a member of that party. Colorado law states that a candidate must be registered with the party they are running with by the first business day in January of the election year.

Lack of appropriate party registration isn’t the only element of Monahan’s candidacy filing that appears to be out of order. Each candidate must submit a signed affidavit that lists contact information, including a physical and addresses. Monahan lists a Greenwood Village UPS Store post office box for both sections.

The results of the Arapahoe County Republican Party’s assembly, which was conducted online, are not available on the party’s website. An email to the party chair asking for the results, was not returned Wednesday.

If Monahan loses the assembly vote, then his registration as an Unaffiliated voter is irrelevant.

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Nunes, Johnson Keep Touting GOP Coronanonsense

Thumbs up for terrible advice!

We’ve written a few times in this space about the asinine responses from local Colorado Republicans regarding efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. It is worth noting that this is not a problem restricted to Colorado Republican elected officials.

As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, California Republican Rep. Devin Nunesthe ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee — should stop talking for awhile:

On the same day that President Donald Trump acknowledged that somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans were likely to die because of the coronavirus, California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes went on Fox News to offer a very, uh, different perspective.

“Let’s stop looking at the death counters and let’s talk about how we can keep as many people employed as possible,” Nunes told Fox anchor Laura Ingraham. “That’s the key right now, Laura, because if you don’t, what you said earlier is correct. When you have people staying at home, not taking care of themselves, you will end up with a hell of a lot more people dying by other causes than you will by the coronavirus.”…

…It’s as though Nunes is living in some alternate universe here. In Nunes’ world, kids need to be going back to school. More people will die from staying home than returning to normal and spreading (or catching) the coronavirus! The economy will fail unless we start sending people back to work in two weeks!

Nunes is not — and this fact may surprise you — a doctor. Or an infectious disease expert. All of whom have pushed Trump to extend the social distancing guidelines in place for another month. And who have forced Trump to publicly admit that, even if we follow those guidelines to a T, we could well lose hundreds of thousands of Americans to the virus.

As Cillizza notes in a separate story, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is carrying a similar tune. Check out this Op-Ed penned by Sen. Johnson that appeared recently in USA Today:

Every premature death is a tragedy, but death is an unavoidable part of life. More than 2.8 million die each year — nearly 7,700 a day. The 2017-18 flu season was exceptionally bad, with 61,000 deaths attributed to it. Can you imagine the panic if those mortality statistics were attributed to a new virus and reported nonstop?

This is another example of the “let old people die” argument that has been espoused by right-wing talk show hosts and even the Lieutenant Governor of Texas. It’s a false moral choice, of course, but that isn’t preventing these meatheads from making the same arguments over and over again.

Being unemployed is bad; being dead is definitely worse. We’ll leave it to others to debate how much it matters if you are employed when you die.

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Let The Colorado GOP COVID Backpedal Begin

Rep. Mark Baisley (R).

When considering last week’s round of angry protestations from local Republicans, first vilifying the Tri County Health Department for their enforceable stay-at-home order covering Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties, then Gov. Jared Polis for his statewide stay-at-home order which superseded Tri County Health’s order, the question has not been whether these GOP protests would age poorly–it was a question of how long it would take for Republicans who took part in second-guessing measures to reduce the impact of a deadly global pandemic to realize they have made a terrible mistake, with potentially the worst possible consequence in the form of the deaths of those who listen to them.

Well folks, here’s GOP Rep. Mark Baisley, who joined the misguided call for Douglas County to pull out of the Tri County Health Department in protest, making his attempt to walk things back shortly after the news broke:

Regarding our letter to the Douglas County Commissioners, please understand; the intent of our request is for Douglas County to dissociate from Tri-County Health as the health agency for Douglas County. We have NOT suggested that people ignore the practices recommended by the order. [Pols emphasis]

It makes sense to a civil society that we need to maintain distance in order to slow this new virus that will eventually make its way into our general immune systems. That is why people already voluntarily participate by staying at home as much as possible.

Tri-County Health is under contract with Douglas County to fulfill the county’s statutory requirement to maintain a health agency. They overstepped their role when they included a threat to imprison and fine Douglas County citizens whom they deem to be noncompliant. This threatening order places the government in an adversarial position with the people. We believe that it is wholly inappropriate to entrust an unelected, contracted agency that is headquartered in another county with the power to imprison Douglas County residents…

Rep. Baisley even professes some embarrassment that the public knows about what he did:

As we discussed last week, the power vested in public health departments to enact mandatory orders to protect the public in an emergency were granted to them by the Colorado General Assembly–the body Baisley as a member of which would participate in changing the law if anyone seriously desired to do it. But that apparently doesn’t matter, because Baisley thinks everybody should be doing what Tri County and by extension Gov. Polis have ordered–it just, you know, shouldn’t be “an order.”

We of course have no reason to believe that any sane person wants to see the pandemic fulfill worst-case scenarios, and the view expressed by some conservative media figures that an uncontrolled pandemic would be preferable to the disruption of “freedom” caused by measures to contain is not shared by a majority of the American public.

What we can say with confidence is that the worse this pandemic gets, the worse it will get politically for Republicans who protested and even encouraged resistance to common-sense measures overwhelmingly supported by the public to slow it down. More than any event in our lifetimes so far, this is not a game–and political games at this dire moment will not be rewarded at the polls.

Any political pleasure from this development is undone, however, by the fact that Coloradans are going to die first.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 31)

Happy April Fool’s Day Eve; please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us 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

 

More people have now died in the United States from coronavirus than in the 9/11 attacks. With numbers of infections and deaths on the rise in the U.S., Dana Milbank of The Washington Post asks a very simple question about President Trump:

How does a human being use the phrase “a very good job” in contemplation of the deaths of 100,000 to 200,000 souls?

Worldwide, the number of coronavirus infections has surpassed 800,000.

 

► President Trump can’t change history no matter how much he tries, as CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains:

What Trump is doing now is what he always does about everything: Attempting to rewrite history so that it looks like he was always the smartest guy in the room, the one person who saw this all coming from a mile away.

“I’ve always known this is a real — this is a pandemic,” he said on March 17. “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

That statement is, of course, demonstrably untrue. But Trump doesn’t care. Because his political career has proven to him that if he simply repeats the history he wants to be true, plenty of people will follow his lead. He’ll blame Democrats or the media (or both) for twisting his words or making thing up. Remember that this is a man who said this out loud: “Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. … What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”

But the truth still matters. And the truth is that Trump repeatedly downplayed the threat coronavirus posed to the country, providing Americans with false hope when they needed candor and transparency most of all.

 

Doctors in Colorado are bracing for a surge of coronavirus patients as the outbreak moves inland from the East and West coasts of the United States. Meanwhile, as CNN reports, your odds of surviving the coronavirus outbreak are probably better if you live in a state with a Democratic governor.

 

Governor Jared Polis reiterated on Monday that students in Colorado will likely finish out the school year without stepping foot back inside a classroom. From The Denver Post:

“It is very likely that you won’t be able to resume normal classroom activities this school year,” Polis said during a news conference updating the public on efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak. “The school year hasn’t been called off yet statewide; we’re always hopeful. But districts have been preparing for that. That’s the likelihood.”

Students from many of Colorado’s largest school districts “returned” from Spring Break this week with extensive remote/online learning plans.

 

► Colorado lawmakers expect to get a ruling this week from the State Supreme Court regarding whether or not they can legally extend the legislative session beyond the traditional early May deadline. From CBS4 Denver:

The state legislature reconvened Monday just long enough to go into recess again. Lawmakers adjourned two weeks ago due to concerns about COVID-19. In order to recess again, without calling lawmakers back into session, they purposefully met without a quorum, or a minimum of 33 representatives and 18 senators.

If they don’t have a quorum, they can adjourn for up to three days. Lawmakers are hoping to buy time until the State Supreme Court rules on whether the 120-day session is consecutive, meaning it ends May 6, or whether they can resume at a later date when its safer.

The big question waiting to be answered revolves around whether the 120-day session language in the state constitution refers to consecutive days or if it can be split up by a recess (in this case because of coronavirus).

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 30)

Did you know that it is still March? Anyway, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

► President Trump is backtracking from a proposal to quarantine New York, New Jersey, and parts of Connecticut. On Sunday, he also backed off of his plan to “re-open” the country by Easter (thanks in part to experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci). As Philip Rucker writes for The Washington Post:

Trump beat a hasty retreat on Sunday, announcing from the Rose Garden just before dusk that the federal government’s stringent social distancing guidelines, set to expire on Monday, would be extended through April 30.

More still — as the number of coronavirus deaths in the United States surpassed 2,400, nearly 1,000 of them in New York alone — the president acknowledged that the silent enemy was gaining ground.

Trump said his decision was driven by the science, but he may have been moved more by the personal — seeing body bags carried out of the hospital near his Queens boyhood home and learning that a friend was now in a coma — judging by the emotion with which he spoke about both.

Trump said he was convinced by data modeling presented to him by two physicians advising him on the pandemic — Anthony S. Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator — that the death rate in this country probably will not peak for another two weeks.

Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on Trump’s Sunday Rose Garden press conference:

As the number of those sickened and killed by the virus has soared, Trump has increasingly used these press briefings as a chance to vent his frustrations — at governors, the media and anyone else he can think of.

What he did on Sunday night was, somehow, worse — coarser, more detached from reality — than what he has done before. I went through the transcript of the briefing and pulled out the lines you need to see.

As CNN reports in a separate story, Trump said a number of untrue things on Sunday:

On two occasions during Sunday’s coronavirus briefing, President Donald Trump falsely denied he had said words he had said publicly last week.

When PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor noted that the President had said he did not believe that governors actually need all the equipment they claimed they did, Trump said, “I didn’t say that” — even though he said precisely that on Fox News on Thursday.

Later, when CNN White House Correspondent Jeremy Diamond noted that Trump had said he wanted governors to be “appreciative” of him, and that “if they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” Trump said, “But I didn’t say that” — even though he said precisely that at the Friday briefing.

President Trump says that coronavirus cases will peak in the United States in mid-April…though he has provided no information or data to support that claim.

 

Colorado has secured major disaster relief status from the federal government. Here’s more from a press release via the office of Gov. Jared Polis; here’s a rundown from The Denver Post.

 

► Dirt ≠ people. Despite what Colorado Republican lawmakers would have you believe, representing large parcels of land is not the same as representing large numbers of people. These same Colorado Republican lawmakers are shaking their fists at Gov. Jared Polis and other public health officials for ordering people in non-essential industries to stay at home to stop the spread of COVID-19. The average person does not agree with House Minority Leader Patrick Neville and friends.

As Aurora Sentinel editor Dave Perry writes:

There’s no arguing the point that this is going to be bad — really, really bad. But Neville, Sonnenberg and others simply can’t grasp the difference between really, really bad and much, much worse.

Having to keep businesses shuttered for months rather than weeks is  worse. Having to watch people die in their cars outside hospitals because no one can treat them is far, far worse.

It’s not debatable. It’s common sense.

Common sense did not prevail in Colorado Springs this weekend as Republicans held a drive-thru county convention. On Sunday, TABOR Daddy Doug Bruce held a “You’re Not the Boss of Me” Picnic in Colorado Springs that was attended by a whole half-dozen people.

 

► The Colorado legislature did not reconvene today as lawmakers had initially hoped when the session was suspended two weeks ago. There’s still no good answer on whether the legislature can reconvene and hold a session beyond the 120-mark in early May.

 

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

 

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 27)

We’d wish you a “Happy Friday,” but today kinda feels just like Thursday. And Wednesday. And also Tuesday. Anyway, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

 

► UPDATE: The House passes the stimulus bill. Colorado Rep. Ken Buck voted against the legislation, giving him a perfect 0-3 record on coronavirus-related legislation.

—–

Members of the House of Representatives are heading back to Washington D.C. to vote on a $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill that is in no danger of failing because one Kentucky Republican (and it’s not even Mitch McConnell) is being kind of a dick. As The Washington Post explains:

The House of Representatives prepared to vote Friday on a $2 trillion economic relief package to address fallout from the coronavirus, with scores of lawmakers begrudgingly returning to the Capitol after one GOP member threatened to raise a procedural objection.

With the economy reeling and millions of Americans seeking unemployment benefits, House leaders had hoped to pass the sweeping measure by a “voice vote” that would not require members to show up in person. Those who wanted to could come to the Capitol to speak in favor of or against the legislation that will send $1,200 payments to many Americans and free up large loans for businesses of every size.

If they used a “voice vote,” members in quarantine or who simply did not want to travel would not have to do so. There are now roughly 86,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, and 1,300 people have died just in the past few weeks.

But Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) threatened to raise procedural objections that would require a majority of the House to be present to quash, and so on Thursday evening leadership in both parties began urging members who could do so to return to Washington in order to have the numbers to overcome whatever objection Massie might raise. [Pols emphasis]

Massie may have seriously misread this situation, because President Trump is not happy:

As The Washington Post notes in a separate story, Rep. Massie’s colleagues are not at all surprised that he’s needlessly throwing wrenches:

During his seven years in Congress, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) has established a reputation as a uniquely irascible congressional gadfly — one who is frequently at odds with his own party’s leadership, rarely votes for major bills negotiated with Democrats, and, to make an ideological point, is willing to use the House rule book to inconvenience his colleagues.

In other words, he’s the Kentucky version of State Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs).

Just in case you thought opposition to the relief bill was relegated to some looney from Kentucky…Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) are railing about their own grievances with the legislation.

 

 Eight of Colorado’s 9 Members of Congress are urging President Trump to approve a Major Disaster request for Colorado. Who was the lone dissenter? Hint: His name rhymes with “suck.”

 

► Many of Colorado’s most prominent Republican lawmakers — including Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville — are growing increasingly vocal about their opposition to “stay at home” orders because…tyranny, or something. These actions are bad for their health and the health of their friends and family — and new polling info suggests that these positions will hurt them politically in November.

If you are interested in making specious and dangerous arguments yourself, here’s a cheat sheet to get you started on messaging.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel and the Denver Post have more on the partisan pushback to coronavirus responses.

 

► Not all the coronavirus news is bad news, as The Washington Post reports from the state of Washington:

The suburban hospital that handled the first onslaught of coronavirus patients weeks ago — a crush of seriously ill and dying nursing home residents that signaled the beginning of the national health crisis — is now offering cautious optimism to people across the United States who are searching for an end to the springtime nightmare: They believe they might have flattened the curve here.

At EvergreenHealth Medical Center, two miles from the shuttered Lifecare nursing home where 35 patient deaths were linked to the virus, officials say their rate of new covid-19 cases has remained steady for two weeks, leveling off at a trickle. On some days, doctors here see just one new case and haven’t seen more than four in a single day since mid-March. Few need admission to the intensive care unit, which is now half full, two weeks after overflow necessitated transfers to nearby hospitals…

…“It is a glimmer of hope,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said. “This is suggestive that some of the things we’re doing together is having some very modest improvement. The things we did two weeks ago are now appearing in our hospitals.” [Pols emphasis] 

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 26)

Happy Purple Day, which is probably not what you think it is. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us 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

 

If you are reading this in Colorado, you had better be doing it from home. As part of ongoing efforts to combat the coronavirus, Governor Jared Polis on Wednesday announced a “stay at home” order that takes effect as of 6:00 am today and runs until April 11. The Denver Post has more on the order from Gov. Polis.

♦ CLICK HERE to watch the press conference announcement.

♦ CLICK HERE to read the full text of the Governor’s order.

♦ CLICK HERE for an FAQ guide about the “stay at home” order.

♦ CLICK HERE to read the public health order.

The decision to issue a “stay at home” order for the entire state came as some of Colorado’s most highly-populated areas were issuing similar decrees locally — most recently the Tri-County Public Health Department (Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties), as well as Jefferson County Public Health and Boulder County Public Health (the City of Denver began its stay-at-home order on Tuesday evening).

The statewide order puts a bit of a lid on a controversy stirred up Wednesday by six Republican legislators from Douglas County who would apparently prefer to become a Sanctuary Virus County. Here’s 9News with more on this shameful political stunt:

House Minority Leader Neville also said Wednesday on The Peter Boyles Show that he feels the orders, in general, are leading to a Gestapo-like mentality.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, also a Republican, said earlier in the week that he would defer to the department to make the decision for his city. But Republican State Senate Majority Leader Holbert told 9NEWS he considered it an overreach…

…”For an unelected bureaucrat at Tri-County Health to put out this order and have no accountability to any elected official, that is wrong,” said Republican State Senate Majority Leader Holbert. “It is, in my opinion, against the spirit of our nation and our state it is against our constitution.”

“I’ve advised them to sever the contract as soon as possible. If it costs Douglas County money, what’s the cost of freedom and liberty — it’s probably worth it.”

Just so we’re clear, the Republican Senate Minority Leader and the Republican House Minority Leader would like Douglas County to sever its relationship with the Tri-County Health Department IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

At least one Douglas County Republican is not a complete twit. County Commissioner Abe Laydon supports Tri-County Health and says “Now is not the time to politicize a pandemic.”

Elsewhere, Colorado Republicans across the state are pounding their chests about their brave opposition to social-distancing guidelines meant to prevent people from dying from the coronavirus outbreak.

 

► The Senate finally passed a $2 trillion coronavirus recovery bill late Wednesday. As The Denver Post reports:

The legislation passed by a vote of 96-0, with aye votes from Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, and Sen. Michael Bennet, a Denver Democrat. Both Colorado senators made clear earlier in the day that they supported the massive agreement…

…Before the vote, Gardner and Bennet voted against an amendment from Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., to cap unemployment benefits at a worker’s full salary.

In remarks Wednesday, Bennet criticized Senate Republicans for not including a $600-per-week unemployment insurance increase, which was later added at the request of Senate Democrats. He also credited Democrats with adding money for the health care system, middle-class Americans and lower-class Americans.

“States and local governments not only have to fight this health crisis, they have to pay teachers, police and firefighters, even as their tax revenues collapse,” Bennet said in a lengthy statement. “The initial bill included nothing to help them confront these yawning budget caps. It was ridiculous.”

The Washington Post has more details on the guts of the stimulus bill. Democrats had been pushing for $4 billion to support elections in the wake of the pandemic; they only ended up with $400 million.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the bill on Friday.

 

► Coronavirus deaths in the United States have surpassed the 1,000 mark.

 

► Health officials are sounding the alarm about a second wave of the coronavirus. As The Washington Post explains:

The 1918 flu hit the United States in three waves — a mild outbreak in the spring, the deadliest wave in the fall and a final spike when the virus returned that winter. All told, the pandemic infected a third of the world’s population and killed at least 50 million people, including at least 675,000 Americans.

One of them was the great-grandmother of Debbie Birx, the lead coordinator of the federal government’s coronavirus task force. “My grandmother, for 88 years, lived with the fact that she was the one, at age 11, who brought home flu to her mother … when her mother had just delivered,” said Birx, 63. “She never forgot that she was the child that was in school that innocently brought that flu home.”…

…The 1918 case study weighs on leaders of the public health community as they scramble to ramp up capacity and spur vaccine development in preparation for a sustained war against covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. “We’re dealing with Cycle A right now, not the one that could come in the fall of 2020 – although we’re getting prepared for it by the innovations that are being worked on,” Birx said at the White House on Wednesday evening.

 

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

 

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Darwinism In Action: Colorado Republicans “Resist” COVID Order

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams (R-MGO).

Yesterday afternoon, Gov. Jared Polis took his biggest step yet in the response to the hockey-sticking COVID-19 global pandemic, as cases and fatalities in Colorado rapidly increase–a statewide stay-at-home order obliging most of us to stay in our houses except for designated essential trips. As our readers know, Polis’ statewide order came shortly after Republican lawmakers assailed a stay-at-home order issued by the Tri County Health Department for its jurisdiction of Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas counties. The Denver Post updates the controversy we covered yesterday:

A Republican Douglas County commissioner, however, said authority for such decisions rests with the health department under state law. [Pols emphasis]

The Tri-County order was superseded Wednesday afternoon when Gov. Jared Polis issued a statewide stay-at-home order, but the argument over local control remained.

The six Colorado lawmakers — including Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert of Parker and House Minority Leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock — sent commissioners a letter Wednesday, saying they learned that the health agency was issuing the order despite opposition from at least two Dougco commissioners. Sen. Jim Smallwood of Parker, who said he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, also signed the letter.

Like we said yesterday, the irony of Sen. Jim Smallwood signing this letter after he traveled to California following the adjournment of the General Assembly and contracted COVID-19 somewhere along the way is probably worth its own blog post. What this group of Republican lawmakers didn’t seem to understand is that health departments have the authority to issue such orders under state law–meaning if these lawmakers don’t like health departments having such authority, they’re the ones who can change it. In the end, all this off-base grandstand against Tri-County Health accomplished was to scare Colorado citizens into second-guessing emergency public health orders.

Folks, that’s really bad.

Former GOP Senate President Kevin Grantham.

This is former Senate President Kevin Grantham, responding to Gov. Polis’ statewide stay-at-home order yesterday evening by more or less declaring he’s going to disregard it. Grantham is now running for for a seat on the Fremont County board of commissioners, and we assume he’s decided a little coronavirus civil disobedience is a political net positive. Earlier this week, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville actually invoked the words “civil disobedience” to forecast the response to the statewide order issued yesterday. And up in Weld County, as the Colorado Times Recorder reports, politically promiscuous Sheriff Steve Reams says it even more plainly:

Maybe it’s just me but I’d rather take my risk with the virus then socialism. [Pols emphasis]

After conservative media spent weeks downplaying the threat of the COVID-19 outbreak and echoing President Donald Trump’s repeated denial of the severity of the crisis, by all estimates the pandemic is on a trajectory for the worst-case side of the scenarios that have been plotted by experts looking at the disease’s spread. The economic devastation resulting from the effective shutdown of large parts of the global economy is very serious, but it’s happening because the loss of life from not containing the spread of this pandemic would be far worse. Politically, a campaign to “resist” measures to contain the virus is only sustainable among people who don’t know–or don’t want to know–the truth.

Sheriff Reams’ selective enforcement of the law based on his opinion is well-documented in relation to gun safety laws. But resistance to the emergency orders issued from the governor down to health departments with the clear statutory authority to do so by local Republicans is irresponsibility that could have much bigger destructive impact than refusing to take a suicidal individual’s guns under the “red flag” law.

Some people who take their advice, or their family or friends, will die. It’s not hypothetical, it’s arithmetic. And that escalates this from cheap-shot political rhetoric into something that should outrage every single Coloradan regardless of your politics.

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GOP Lawmakers Push for Sanctuary Virus County

THURSDAY UPDATE: As 9News reports, Douglas County Commissioner Abe Laydon is not the dumb one of the bunch:

While the Douglas County Commissioners are politically aligned with the Republican lawmakers, not all of them agree. Republican Commissioner Abe Laydon supported Tri-County’s mandate.

“Now is not the time to politicize a pandemic,” he told 9NEWS.

Laydon said his focus will be on working within the parameters of an order to keep people and businesses safe.

“Where I stand is — do everything we can do to make sure that hospitals, doctors, nurses, first responders, senior citizens are not decimated by what we’re hearing,” he said.

—–

UPDATE: House Minority Leader Patrick Neville is some kind of jackass:

—–

Letter from Douglas County Republicans

As Denver7 first reported today, Republican lawmakers from Douglas County are hopping mad about a new “stay at home” order implemented by the Tri-County Health Department, which covers Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties. A similar order has also been issued in Boulder and Jefferson counties.

Six Republican legislators who apparently support becoming a Coronavirus Sanctuary County signed the letter addressed to the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners: Sen. Chris Holbert, Sen. Jim Smallwood, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, Rep. Kevin Van Winkle, Rep. Kim Ransom, and Rep. Mark Baisley. You can read the full text of the letter here, but this is the important part:

It has come to our attention that Tri-County Health has issued a “shelter in place” order, which includes Douglas County. As a result of that order, we urge you to terminate whatever contract exists between Douglas County and that organization.

It is our understanding that at least two of you opposed this heavy-handed application of governmental power. To those who did oppose the action, thank you for standing with the constitution and with the majority of your constituents here in Douglas County. We consider it unacceptable that a contracted health agency could somehow ignore the will of a majority of our elected and accountable Douglas County Commissioners.

Sigh. Where to begin?

First off, this is more than just Douglas County Republican lawmakers screeching at one another; Chris Holbert is the Senate Minority Leader, and Patrick Neville is the House Minority Leader, so they are effectively speaking for the entire GOP caucus here. Their message is simple: If health experts don’t do what non-expert elected officials tell them to do, then we should fire them. 

We’re also perplexed that Sen. Jim Smallwood would sign his name here. Smallwood recently tested positive for coronavirus and is currently living at his second home in California. He’s not even IN Colorado at the moment, so how can he make this judgment?

Douglas County Commissioners Roger Partridge, Lora Thomas, and Abe Laydon.

More importantly, the Douglas County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) is represented by three Republicans, none of whom are qualified to make public health decisions of this magnitude. Here’s the official biography for Abe Laydon, who was elected to the BCC in 2018:

Prior to being elected as County Commissioner, Laydon served as a Douglas County Planning Commissioner for two terms, and as the Douglas County Republican Party’s first vice-chairman and treasurer. A graduate of the Leadership Program of the Rockies, Laydon has been involved in philanthropy and civic service his entire life. He sits on the board of many local nonprofits, was an officer and member of Denver Active 20-30 and the Metro Denver Board of Christian Legal Society.

Yeah, let’s put that guy in charge during a global pandemic. Roger Partridge previously owned a physical therapy business, and Lora Thomas is a former trooper with the State Patrol who served as the elected Coroner of Douglas County from 2011-15.

Screenshot from Patrick Neville’s Facebook page

Laydon, Patridge, and Thomas may be very nice people, but none of them are public health experts. In fact, we’re guessing that Douglas County contracts with the Tri-County Health Department in part because they don’t already have a bunch of public health experts roaming the building.

Oh, and to make matters worse, Rep. Neville also appears to be doxxing members of the Tri-County Health Department (see image at right), including the wife of State Rep. Kyle Mullica; you should know that Kyle Mullica is a trauma nurse working on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak, and Julie Mullica is the Systems Director for Infection Prevention at SCL Health.

Finally, it’s important to note that this letter from Republican lawmakers doesn’t provide any sort of alternative suggestion for how to handle the coronavirus outbreak in Douglas County. Holbert, Neville and friends aren’t for anything — they’re just against this for reasons they don’t even bother to explain.

We could go on and on about how irresponsible and shameful it is for a group of elected leaders to be publicly questioning a literal life-or-death health decision in the middle of a global pandemic, but the insidiousness of this letter speaks for itself.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (March 25)

Happy International Waffle Day. Please celebrate privately. It’s definitely 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.

 

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

 

The entire Metro Denver area is nearing lockdown status because of the coronavirus outbreak. Stay-at-home orders have been issued from the Tri-County Public Health Department (Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties), as well as Jefferson County Public Health and Boulder County Public Health (the City of Denver began its stay-at-home order on Tuesday evening). The Metro Denver population, depending on how you measure it, includes about 3 million people — or more than half of the 5.6 million residents of Colorado.

Colorado’s most populous cities without a stay-at-home order include Ft. Collins and Colorado Springs. The City of Fort Collins is apparently waiting on Larimer County to make a decision on a stay-at-home order. Colorado Springs is likewise leaving that decision to El Paso County officials.

A stay-at-home order has also been issued for Aspen; visitors to the resort area have been asked to leave.

 

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) has been self-quarantining for the last week out of concern that he had interactions with people who had tested positive for COVID-19. Gardner says that he has not yet been tested for the virus, but as The Daily Beast reports, he damn well needs to be:

Last week, Sen. Cory Gardner walked up to a group of Capitol Hill reporters to share information with them about bills he was sponsoring to counter the coronavirus outbreak. According to people who witnessed the encounter, in order to separate the sheets of paper, the Colorado Republican licked his finger and thumbed the pages before handing them off to reporters to pass around. [Pols emphasis]

Several hours later, he was in self-imposed quarantine.

Gardner began his self-quarantine on March 17, and now he’s back?

 

► This is President Trump’s Coronavirus. Don’t argue with us — that’s what the White House is calling it.

 

► Senate and White House leaders have reached agreement on a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package. As The Washington Post reports:

The Senate is aiming to vote Wednesday on a $2 trillion stimulus package that is designed to flood the U.S. economy with money in an effort to stabilize households and businesses that have been floored by the coronavirus outbreak.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced the breakthrough on the Senate floor around 1:30 a.m., after a long day of talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other administration officials.

Senate aides were still scrambling to write the legislation, and House Democrats were expected to take it up no sooner than Thursday. Despite a brief burst of optimism about the landmark deal, they were still dealing with extreme pressure from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to make changes, as he alleged his state needed much more aid.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Denver) breaks down the ins and outs of this debate in an epic Twitter thread. Democrats had been negotiating for more money to go to American families and small businesses, while Republicans insisted on bigger checks for big business. Check out this Politico story for more details on differences between a Democratic and Republican bailout plan.

 

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

 

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Agency Criticized by GOP Leader for Delaying Gun Purchases Says It’s Keeping Staff Safe

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).

In response to Colorado House Republican Leader Patrick Neville’s concern about an “unacceptable” two-day delay in issuing background checks required for new gun purchases, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which conducts the background checks, says it’s “balancing our statutory responsibilities with the need to keep our employees safe.”

“Gun purchases are at unprecedented levels, and although we’ve taken all the steps we can to keep up (see previous news release), demand is outstripping our ability to complete the background checks in the 5-8 minutes to which [firearms dealers] and gun buyers have become accustomed,” stated the Colorado Bureau of Investigation in a statement to the Colorado Times Recorder. “Like any prudent business, we staff for normal anticipated demand, and the current load is far beyond ‘normal.’  Right now we’re balancing our statutory responsibilities with the need to keep our employees safe.”

Neville, a Castle Rock Representative, issued a statement last week calling on Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to do “whatever necessary to shorten the lines and expedite the process for a quick checkout.”

“These drawn-out wait times are unacceptable,” wrote Neville.

Neville did not return a call this morning seeking to know if he was satisfied with the CBI’s explanation for the background-check delays as being due to safety precautions and high volume.

In a news release yesterday, the CBI said that it’s faced an “historic volume of request for background checks,” up 227% last week from the same week last year. The agency received 25,468 requests for background checks last week, versus 7,773 during the same week last year, leaving a waiting list of 12,442.

This has resulted in a waiting time of four calendar days, up from two days earlier this month, the agency said.

The agency said licensed gun retailers can release firearms if background checks aren’t completed within three business days, per federal regulations, but the CBI “strongly encourages firearms dealers to hold firearms until background checks are completed.”

“The CBI has implemented changes to address this unprecedented volume of background checks, from expanding internal InstaCheck hours to cross-training specialized staff members to assist in the process; however, these efforts must be balanced with protecting the health and safety of employees and reducing the potential for community spread related to COVID-19,” stated the CBI news release.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 24)

Happy Birthday Affordable Care Actttttt…Happy Birthday, to you! It’s definitely 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.

 

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

 

The World Health Organization says the United States could become the next epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. But President Trump is worried that voters are going to ding him for screwing up both the coronavirus response and the economy, so he’s playing doctor — perhaps benching the actual doctors — and suggesting that he’ll soon relax social distancing restrictions. As The Washington Post reports, Trump don’t need no public health experts to tell him what to do:

As he watches stock prices plummet and braces for an expected surge in unemployment, Trump has received urgent pleas from rattled business leaders, Republican lawmakers and conservative economists imploring him to remove some of the stringent social distancing guidelines that he put in place for a 15-day period ending March 30, according to several people with knowledge of the internal deliberations.

The consensus among experts — including infectious disease expert Anthony S. Fauci and other senior officials on Trump’s coronavirus task force — is that restaurants, bars, schools, offices and other gathering places should remain closed for many more weeks to mitigate the outbreak, the worst effects of which are yet to be felt in the United States.

But Trump has been chafing against that notion and impatient to get American life back to normal.

“If it were up to the doctors, they’d say let’s keep it shut down, let’s shut down the entire world . . . and let’s keep it shut for a couple of years,” Trump said Monday. “We can’t do that.”

“If it were up to the doctors…”

As Dana Milbank writes for The Washington Post, this pandemic isn’t about you — it’s about him:

People are dying. Businesses are failing. Workers are losing jobs.

But above all we as a nation must keep in mind the terrible cost borne by President Trump…

…Trump’s reelection depends on a booming economy.

And so on Monday night he made the ultimate gesture of selfishness: Defying the pleas of scientists and public health experts, he said he would reopen the economy in the next few weeks.

 

► Alex Burness of The Denver Post outlines why Gov. Jared Polis has thus far resisted calls to issue a statewide lockdown or “shelter-in-place” order:

Polis has been walking a tightrope, and he will continue to do so: Measures he takes to force greater social distancing will do economic damage, while leniency on business and other social activities and settings will allow more people to leave their homes, and potentially spread or come in contact with the virus…

…With no statewide stay-at-home order in place, some courts have continued packing dozens into single hearing rooms. Parks are busy and some trailheads are slammed.

Polis not only believes that it’s impossible to enforce these and other behaviors out of existence, but he also has emphasized that there’s “only so much any government can do” in response to coronavirus. He’s repeatedly called on Coloradans to exercise personal responsibility.

A statewide shelter-in-place order is still being sought by some top public health groups.

Meanwhile, local municipalities are pushing ahead with their own measures. As The Colorado Sun reports, the City of Denver will be under a stay-at-home order beginning today at 5:00 pm and running until at least April 10:

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday announced a stay-at-home decree, closing nonessential businesses and banning people from congregating in parks and other public places. The order cuts off the last vestiges of normal social interaction in the city as health officials try everything they can to slow the spread of the new coronavirus…

…Denver parks will remain open for people to walk and hike in, but not congregate or play sports. Playgrounds and most retail stores will be shut down.

Public transit, including Denver International Airport and rideshares, are not affected by the order. Restaurants still will be allowed to deliver food and offer takeout meals. Medical marijuana stores are exempt, as are grocery stores, banks, laundromats, and child care facilities.

Denver’s shelter-in-place order originally included the closure of liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries, and a restriction on construction operations; the order was amended a few hours later to offer exceptions, keeping liquor stores and dispensaries open to the public.

Elsewhere, residents of Aurora are anticipating a stay-at-home order in the near future. Pitkin County and the City of Boulder have now implemented similar orders.

 

► State Sen. Jim Smallwood (R-Parker) has tested positive for COVID-19, but says that he is not experiencing serious symptoms and is self-quarantining at his second home in California.

Also on Monday, Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet (D-Commerce City) announced that she had been misdiagnosed last week as testing positive for COVID-19 and is instead sick with a more common strain of coronavirus.

 

► As Politico reports, the Senate is expected to approve a massive coronavirus relief package today:

Congressional negotiators signaled Tuesday morning that they are likely hours away from clinching a bipartisan agreement on a nearly $2 trillion emergency stimulus package to confront the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic — capping five days of frenetic talks that have consumed a mostly empty Capitol.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to announce an agreement later Tuesday, while President Donald Trump pushes for an immediate vote…

…Schumer and Mnuchin met in person six times on Monday, and their final meeting wrapped up around midnight. The Senate could hold an initial procedural vote as early as Tuesday afternoon if McConnell and Schumer can reach a time agreement.

Both sides were huddling with their legislative staff to review final details, and said they expect to unveil a broad deal within several hours with a vote taking place later Tuesday.

Notice who was NOT a critical part of these late negotiations? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. As The New York Times editorial board wrote on Monday, McConnell is the reason that a relief package hasn’t already been approved.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer appears to be pleased with the negotiations related to unemployment insurance. House Democrats unveiled their version of a stimulus bill late Monday night.

 

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

 

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Colorado’s Death Penalty Is History

Old Sparky.

A major news item yesterday almost got squelched in the rush of updates about the coronavirus pandemic–as the Colorado Independent’s John Herrick reports, Gov. Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 20-100 repealing the death penalty in Colorado for cases beginning July 1. Separately, Gov. Polis commuted the sentences of the three remaining inmates on Colorado’s death row to life imprisonment:

The governor’s clemency orders, which reference the three men by their Department of Corrections ID number rather than by name, was in part based on Colorado’s new law repealing capital punishment.

“The commutations of these despicable and guilty individuals are consistent with the abolition of the death penalty in the State of Colorado,” Polis said.

But Polis also recognized that the death penalty reflects a long-standing bias in the criminal justice system that disproportionately punishes people of color. There are 539 convicts in Colorado who could have been sentenced to death, lawyers say. Only three have been. All three are black men. All went to Overland High in Aurora. And all were prosecuted in the 18th Judicial District, currently represented by District Attorney George Brauchler.

Monday’s order, Polis said, is “consistent with the recognition that the death penalty cannot be, and never has been, administered equitably in the State of Colorado.”

The debate over repealing the death penalty in the Colorado legislature was very dramatic this year as in prior years, and neither support nor opposition for repeal broke cleanly along partisan lines. A few Republicans voicing religious and libertarian objections to state-sanctioned killing were opposed by a few Democratic representatives whose lives have been permanently impacted by the commission of capital crimes–including by some of the very same murderers whose death sentences were commuted yesterday.

With that said, the state has been on course to eliminate the death penalty for years, going back to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s stay of execution for an inmate set to die in 2013. The high-profile failure by politically vociferous DA George Brauchler in the death penalty phase of the Aurora shooting trial was another watershed moment, demonstrating how the death penalty doesn’t work consistently even for the worst of crimes.

Given the personal nature of this debate to certain lawmakers in the Democratic majority, getting to this point was understandably difficult. But in a broader political context, the abolition of the death penalty is less risky in the long term for majority Democrats than allowing the debate over doing so to go on indefinitely.

And now for Gov. Polis it’s another campaign promise kept.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 23)

Today is Monday…right? Anyway, it’s definitely 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.

 

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

 

The U.S. Senate continues to discuss a big stimulus bill aimed at easing economic concerns related to the Coronavirus outbreak. As The Washington Post reports:

Senate leaders and Trump administration officials are resuming talks Monday morning on a giant stimulus bill aimed at propping up an economy hard-hit by the coronavirus, after weekend negotiations failed to produce a deal.

Senate Democrats voted Sunday evening to block the bill from advancing, infuriating Republicans. Democrats have alleged the bill does too much to help prop up businesses without directing enough money to households, hospitals and health professionals. White House officials have acknowledged the unprecedented assistance the legislation would steer toward corporations, but they have said this money would help protect millions of jobs…[Pols emphasis]

…The legislation aims to flood the economy with money, from individuals to small businesses to large industries amid a wave of layoffs and a sharp contraction in consumer spending. It would direct $1,200 to most adults and $500 to most children. It would also create a $500 billion lending program for businesses, cities and states and another $350 billion to help small businesses meet payroll costs.

Senate Democrats are calling the proposed package a “slush fund.” As Politico notes, the Senate is rushing to try to find an agreement on legislation by the end of today.

 

► Governor Jared Polis is taking new steps in response to the pandemic. As Colorado Public Radio reports:

On Sunday, Gov. Jared Polis ordered non-essential businesses to reduce the number of people physically present in the workplace by 50 percent, and more if possible.

He said that while the state was not wielding enforcement authority to keep people at home, there is a more severe enforcement authority that should keep people home for themselves and others: “the Grim Reaper.”

“It is not the threat of you being brought to prison, it is the threat of death,” he said…

…Polis expects private businesses to comply with the order by Tuesday. Businesses that can prove they are able to keep workers at least six feet apart are allowed to keep their workforce in the office…

…The governor also announced the creation of a new team, intended to find innovative ways to address the crisis. The Innovation Response Team Taskforce will focus on creating statewide testing systems, as well as creating services for people in isolation or quarantine such as WiFi or groceries.

As Denver7 notes, Polis is not at all happy with the Trump administration’s Coronavirus response:

“In many ways, I couldn’t have imagined that our nation’s response could have been so slow,” Polis said. “Like many governors of both parties across the country, I’m furious that as the leader of the free world, we’re being forced to close down businesses and restaurants and bars because the United States – unlike [South] Korea and Taiwan – didn’t have enough tests, enough personal protective equipment, or ventilators, to properly manage care for those who would get this virus.”

Governor Polis is also asking landlords and banks to be lenient on tenants and mortgage holders during the Coronavirus outbreak.

 

► Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul is the first member of the U.S. Senate to test positive for COVID-19. Paul may have infected many others with his irresponsible actions, as Amber Phillips explains for The Washington Post.

Senator Paul is trying to defend his actions today, but as CNN reports, he’s doing it wrong:

“For those who want to criticize me for lack of quarantine, realize that if the rules on testing had been followed to a tee, I would never have been tested and would still be walking around the halls of the Capitol,” Paul said in a statement. “The current guidelines would not have called for me to get tested nor quarantined. It was my extra precaution, out of concern for my damaged lung, that led me to get tested.”

Uh…

 

► The Federal Reserve announced aggressive new measures aimed at keeping the United States economy afloat during the pandemic.

 

► President Trump appears to be growing weary already of the country’s (now) aggressive response to the coronavirus outbreak. As The New York Times reports:

President Trump on Sunday night said that the government would reassess the recommended period for keeping businesses shut and millions of workers at home after this week, amid millions of job losses caused by the efforts to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” Mr. Trump tweeted in all capital letters shortly before midnight. “AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD, WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!”

Officials have said that the initial 15-day period for social distancing — limiting close contact between people by banning gatherings, closing schools and offices, encouraging remote work and urging people to maintain a six-foot distance from one another — is vital to slowing the spread of the virus, for which more than 30,000 people in the United States have tested positive. The 15-day period would end Monday.

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Friday (March 20)

The world looks a lot different since Daylight Savings two weeks ago. Maybe we should change our clocks again. Anyway, it’s definitely 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.

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

 

Here’s the big coronavirus updates of the morning, neatly summarized by The Washington Post:

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all workers in his state to stay home, except for those in essential services. The move came after California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered 40 million residents to remain at home. The dramatic measures came after confirmed U.S. cases doubled in just two days, in part because of increased testing. “I applaud them, they’re taking very strong, bold steps,” President Trump said…

…The U.S. tax filing deadline has been pushed back from April 15 to July 15. “All taxpayers and businesses will have this additional time to file and make payments without interest or penalties,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Twitter.

Over in Congress, Senate Republicans are pushing to complete a trillion-dollar stimulus relief package by the end of the day. President Trump announced on Friday that he is suspending payments on federally-funded student loans.

 

 There are some new closures and regulations from late Thursday that you should know about. As 9News reports:

Hair and nail salons, massage studios, tattoo parlors and racetrack betting facilities will be closed through at least April 30, adding to the list of “nonessential services” that already included dining rooms in bars and restaurants, breweries, wineries, gyms, casinos and theaters…

…The order from the Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) went into effect Thursday, the same day Gov. Jared Polis banned “non-essential” medical procedures, including surgeries.

A ban on in-restaurant dining was extended until April 30. Also on Thursday, Gov. Jared Polis opened a special health insurance enrollment period. From The Colorado Sun:

The enrollment period for uninsured Coloradans will begin on March 20 and last through April 3. People who need health insurance can buy plans on the state’s Affordable Care Act’s individual exchange — called Connect for Health Colorado — during that span.

Coloradans who have lost their jobs — or who may lose their jobs in the coming weeks — and find themselves without their employer-based coverage are allowed a 60-day window after their employment ends to enroll in an individual health insurance plan. There is no date restriction for people who fall into that category.

► As Blair Miller reports for Denver7, relief for small businesses in Colorado is on the way:

The state of Colorado and city of Denver both on Thursday announced initial economic relief packages to try to help businesses and workers affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Gov. Jared Polis announced Thursday that the Small Business Administration had granted disaster relief for small business loans in Colorado under the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program – something he had said he was seeking from the federal government in recent days.

The approval will allow small businesses, nonprofits, agricultural cooperatives and aquaculture enterprises affected by the virus outbreak to seek up to $2 million in low-interest federal loans to pay for debts, payroll and accounts payable, the state said.

But wait, there’s more…

Also Thursday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said the city was creating an initial relief fund of $4 million to try to help small businesses affected by the outbreak.

The Denver Economic Development and Opportunity (DEDO) will have a program to give qualifying businesses cash grants of up to $7,500 – with prioritization given to the most-impacted industries, like the restaurant industry.

Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is introducing legislation to make it easier for small businesses to get new loans. The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade is considering diverting incentive funds meant for recruiting new companies to Colorado toward a program that would help current Colorado businesses remain afloat.

 

► North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr apparently gave dire Coronavirus warnings to a small group of people at a private luncheon in late February, at the same time that he was publicly downplaying the threat. But this is peanuts compared to Burr’s real problem right now, as CNBC reports:

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., is facing questions about his decision to sell between $630,000 and $1.7 million worth of stock one week before global financial markets began a historic slide in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A second Republican senator, Georgia’s Kelly Loeffler, also sold large amounts of stock in late January and early February, when U.S. markets were hitting all-time highs.

Both Burr and Loeffler have received non-public information about the global spread of coronavirus from Executive Branch officials, who have been briefing senators regularly since at least January.

Read that again or just pause and let it sink in a bit more. At least four Republican Senators — Burr, Loeffler, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, and Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma — appear to have dumped massive amounts of stock after being briefed on Coronavirus concerns.

Even Fox News talking monkey Tucker Carlson is calling for Sen. Burr to resign immediately. As Greg Sargent writes for The Washington Post, Burr’s insider trading is directly linked to President Trump.

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein is also being scrutinized for selling a lot of stock in mid-February, though she claims that her assets are all held in a blind trust.

 

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

 

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (March 19)

Hey, look: Snow! 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.

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

 

Two down, one to go?

The Senate on Wednesday approved the second major piece of legislation related to the Coronavirus outbreak, allowing lawmakers to fully focus on a massive stimulus bill. From Politico:

With Senate leaders vowing to work at “warp speed” to blunt the financial fallout from the pandemic, the Treasury Department unveiled to lawmakers a plan for $250 billion in direct payments to Americans starting April 6…

…According to the Treasury Department’s proposal, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, the so-called “phase three” proposal would include $50 billion to aid the hard-hit airline industry, $150 billion for other distressed sectors of the economy, two rounds of direct payments of $250 billion each on April 6 and May 18, and the creation of a small business interruption loan program.

The document notably does not mention a payroll tax cut, which President Donald Trump has suggested he wanted to be included in the package. But the idea lost steam in recent days as lawmakers from both parties rejected the idea, citing the need to grant immediate, large-scale relief.

Senator Michael Bennet (D-Denver) voted “YES” on Wednesday; Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) did not cast a vote because he is currently in self-quarantine after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Bennet may have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus but has opted not to self-quarantine. Congress is not currently able to conduct tele-voting, but Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) says that he would be comfortable with such an option.

We posted this here yesterday, but it’s worth repeating for a reminder of the Coronavirus legislation being discussed:

BILL ONE
The first bill, which started in the House, passed the Senate, and was quickly signed by President Trump, dealt primarily with medical and emergency response needs. This was the bill that was opposed by only two House Members, one of who was Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley). In the Senate, only Kentucky Republican Rand Paul voted “NO.”

BILL TWO (Families First CoronaVirus Response Act)
The second bill, which also started in the House, deals with issues like paid family leave and Coronavirus testing and health care regulations (Rep. Buck also voted against this bill). Since the bill passed in the House on Saturday, outside groups have been pressuring Republican Senators to add their support. The Senate approved this measure on Wednesday and President Trump signed it into law today.

BILL THREE
This is the trillion-dollar “bailout” bill that will likely include sending money directly to Americans within the next couple of weeks. As The Washington Post reports:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said the Trump administration is working on a plan that would send most Americans $1,000 within three weeks and an additional $500 for every child as a way to flood the country with money and try to blunt the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the U.S. economy…

…Mnuchin’s comments are part of the rapidly evolving fiscal stimulus plan that the White House and congressional leaders are scrambling to assemble amid growing signs that large parts of the economy are grinding to a halt. House Democrats, meanwhile, are working on their own set of proposals, and negotiations with the White House are expected to begin very soon.

For more on federal legislative efforts and a host of other Coronavirus-related questions, check out this interview from Tuesday with Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County) on The Get More Smarter Podcast.

 

► President Trump spoke today at another Coronavirus press briefing, which German Lopez of Vox.com called “a disastrous failure in leadership.” You won’t be shocked to learn that he made another big mistake:

11:49: *Trump starts playing with ball of yarn

11:51: *Trump threatens to use Marines to invade Coronavirus

11:52: *Trump pulls a piece of meatloaf from his breast pocket and takes a bite

 

► Two Members of Congress have tested positive for COVID-19. Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida) and Ben McAdams (D-Utah).

The first state lawmaker in Colorado (that we know of) has tested positive for COVID-19. Two members of a municipal delegation that recently traveled to Washington D.C. have also tested positive.

 

► Governor Jared Polis ordered all Colorado schools to close until April 17 as part of continuing efforts to contain the Coronavirus outbreak. Polis also ordered a temporary ban of any gathering of more than 10 people.

Most Colorado school districts closed their schools late last week. Polis said Wednesday that it is “increasingly unlikely” that Colorado schools will open again before the end of the school year.

The Denver Post breaks down some of the other “emergency powers” that Gov. Polis could choose to activate.

 

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

 

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Polis Signs Order For Socially Distanced Assemblies

A jolly caucus race!

Among the many developments yesterday in the state of Colorado’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was an order from Gov. Jared Polis, carrying out legislation passed as the Colorado General Assembly got out of Dodge last weekend to allow for party nominating assemblies and conventions to go forward with the appropriate health safeguards. CBS4:

The executive order allows “Colorado’s political parties to amend certain rules and procedures governing the conduct of their assemblies and conventions and to limit in-person contact during nominating assemblies and conventions.”

“During this challenging time, we must continue to work together to ensure Coloradans have every opportunity to participate in the democratic process,” said Gov. Jared Polis. “I thank the state legislature and leadership for their work to quickly send this bipartisan bill to my desk.”

House Bill 20-1359 operates in conjunction with the executive order and allows for parties to provide a remote participation in nominating assemblies and conventions. It also allows “delegates to vote by email, mail, telephone or app, allows an individual who is physically present to carry up to five proxies, and allows the party to reduce the number of participants required for quorum. The executive order directs the Secretary of State to issue emergency rules to allow eligible voters to safely participate in the primary election.”

Here’s Gov. Polis’ full order. Colorado is a vanguard state for all-mail ballots — and we expect many more states to follow our example, boosting turnout in those states in addition to minimizing contagions of all descriptions. This year’s precinct caucuses in Colorado, on the other hand, were less than successful in the confusing immediate wake of our presidential primary–but obviously the process needs to be safely concluded.

Anyway, it’s one less thing to worry about. The socially-distanced show will go on.

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Perlmutter Okay with Tele-Voting, But Congress Isn’t There Yet

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Jefferson County)

Colorado’s legislature has suspended work until March 30 as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, but what about Congress? As Amber Phillips writes today for The Washington Post, we still don’t have much of an alternative to requiring a group of mostly older Americans to continue to congregate in person in Washington D.C.:

Every minute they stay in session to do that, they are putting their own health at risk. More than a dozen lawmakers have self quarantined after brushes with coronavirus. Yet any delay would put Americans’ lives and livelihoods at risk. There is no way to fully do what health officials are calling for — social distancing — while passing legislation.

There has been a bipartisan effort to get all this done as quickly as possible, but politics is also creeping in and delaying action.

Congress does not currently allow for remote or tele-voting in any scenario, which is something you can probably add to the list of changes that will be discussed sooner rather than later.

Congressman Ed Perlmutter was a guest on The Get More Smarter Podcast on Tuesday with hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii. The Jefferson County Democrat discussed a number of questions related to Coronavirus and the federal government response — including this issue. Here’s a snippet of that conversation relating to whether or not Congress could change the way it conducts business:

BANE: The Colorado legislature has suspended work until the end of the month. What is the scenario in which Congress could do something similar? Could you hold votes remotely? Is that even possible?

PERLMUTTER: Well, there is a section of the House rules that deals with voting when there has been some kind of an attack, or a natural disaster, or contagion — it actually addresses contagion. It allows for a lower quorum, but at this point, I think, there is no provision for tele-voting, if you will. 

There’s been a request by a number to have that put into place, but at this point, if we have a big vote, then we’re going to be given, I think, 24 hours notice. Those who can get on a plane will go back and vote. And we’re going to vote not en masse like we ordinarily do, because that seems to be the petri dish for passing this virus. But we’ll [vote] in small groups at a time until everybody who is there can vote and has voted. 

There are a lot of things in play right now, but the Congress is still in session.

BANE: Do you think you would be comfortable with voting remotely, tele-voting? For you personally, are you okay with that?

PERLMUTTER: Yes. Yeah, I would be comfortable with it. 

Obviously we have to make sure that it’s well-secured, and can’t be hacked, but there are a number of ways that we could protect against it. Again, in a situation where there’s an emergency that doesn’t allow people to get back to the chamber. So, I am comfortable with that…

…There are others in the caucus who are not comfortable with that and want us back at the seat of government in the Capitol, or nearby, anyway. 

You can listen to the entire interview at GetMoreSmarter.com, or click on the audio player embedded after the jump below…

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House GOP Chief of Staff Goes Full-On “COVID Truther”

Colorado House GOP Chief of Staff Jim Pfaff.

As the Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson reports:

A prominent Colorado Republican is siding with several other high-profile personalities in attacking America’s response to the novel coronavirus.

Over the past several days, Jim Pfaff, chief of staff for the state House Republican caucus and a Woodland Park City Council candidate, has posted messages on Facebook and Twitter opposing social distancing measures, calling the closures of bars and restaurants “socialist” and mentioning a nationwide effort to “ban Trump rallies.”

…Early Monday, Pfaff posted on Facebook that he agreed with Republican Rep. Devin Nunes’ message encouraging people to go to local restaurants and pubs despite warnings from public health officials. on March 9, Pfaff shared on Twitter a clip from Fox Business anchor Trish Regan in which she accuses Democrats of using the coronavirus to create “mass hysteria to encourage a market sell-off” and to “demonize and destroy the president.”

Despite the fact that even President Donald Trump has stopped downplaying the threat of the novel coronavirus pandemic, and as Swanson reports Fox Business host Trish Regan was benched after she tried to politicize the measures belatedly taken to reduce the spread, Colorado House GOP House Chief of Staff Jim Pfaff didn’t get the memo that downplaying season is over! Every major point of misinformation, after all, inevitably has its faithful believers who never get the message that the proverbial war is over–or if they do, they don’t care. Given Mr. Pfaff’s track record, we feel like we can safely assume the latter is the case.

Speaking Darwinistically, Jim Pfaff is simply on the wrong side of time-honored theory of natural selection–and in this he is far from alone. With that said, it seems reasonable based on this epidemiological blind spot to question Pfaff’s fitness to serve as chief of staff for the Colorado House Republicans.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (March 16)

If you need a new playlist of songs, here are some timely suggestions from readers of Colorado Pols. 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.

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

* For the latest Colorado-related Coronavirus information, go to this website from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

 

The Coronavirus is totally no big deal if you live inside President Trump’s big orange melon. As Chris Cillizza explains for CNN:

While Trump creating his own set of facts — in which he is always the best, always the winner, always the hero of the story — isn’t new, the stakes here are radically different. Now is not a time for happy talk. Now is a time for buckling down, for staying home, for understanding that this virus isn’t something we have ever experienced as a society before.

When the President of the United States gets up in front of the American people and talks the way Trump talked on Sunday, it sends the wrong signal to people. And that wrong signal encourages behavior that is detrimental to slowing the spread of the virus, which we know is vital if we want to protect ourselves.

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post takes this argument a step further in the context of Trump’s “fake news” narrative:

It’s bad enough that President Trump has relentlessly minimized the coronavirus threat for nakedly political reasons, disastrously hampering the federal government response to the crisis, with untold consequences to come.

Determined not to be outdone by his own malice and depravity, Trump is taking new steps that threaten to make all of it worse. He’s telling millions of Americans to entirely shut out any and all correctives to his falsehoods. He’s insisting they must plug their ears to any criticism designed to hold his government accountable for the failures we’re seeing, even though such criticism could nudge the response in a more constructive direction…

…But also note Trump’s declaration that, in a larger sense, the media is not being truthful at a time of crisis. Trump is using his megaphone to tell the American people not to trust an institution they must rely on for information amid an ongoing public health emergency, all because that institution held him accountable for his own failures on this front.

David Leonhardt of The New York Times is keeping track of President Trump’s bag of lies regarding Coronavirus. ICYMI on Friday, Trump definitively stated that “I don’t take responsibility at all” for botching the federal government response to the Coronavirus:

 
The stock market is not responding well to the Federal Reserve’s decision to drop interest rates to zero.

 

Tuesday is another big day in the Democratic Presidential Primary, but Coronavirus is changing some voting equations. From The Washington Post:

Voters, campaigns and election officials in four states holding contests Tuesday are braced for a presidential primary day unlike any in memory, as the surging threat of the novel coronavirus has forced major changes at voting locations, rattled poll workers and left voters worried about how to cast their ballots.

In Arizona, Florida, Illinois and Ohio, election officials have raced to replace poll workers who have said they will not show Tuesday, supply thousands of precincts with sanitizing supplies, and notify voters whose polling locations, many in senior facilities, have been moved as a result of the pandemic.

Voters, meanwhile, have flooded information hotlines. Among their urgent questions: where to vote, how to deliver a ballot if they are under quarantine and how to vote if they registered while attending a college that is now closed.

As the coronavirus spreads, the Democratic Party of Puerto Rico announced Sunday that it would seek to postpone the territory’s March 29 primaries, joining Louisiana and Georgia. One New York election official said Sunday that discussions are underway about whether to delay that state’s contests.

Bernie Sanders is suggesting that perhaps we should postpone all remaining Primary elections.

 

The Colorado General Assembly has suspended work until March 30. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett discussed preparations for such a move in last week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast.

 

The Denver Post has the latest facts and figures on Coronavirus in Colorado, including a special warning for high country residents and others who have recently visited mountain communities. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock updated the city’s Coronavirus response, which includes closing down restaurant dining areas.

 

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

 

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Colorado General Assembly Adjourns Until March 30

UPDATE: The Denver Post’s Alex Burness:

Lawmakers tentatively plan to return to work March 30, but they acknowledge there’s a high chance they’ll have to extend the recess beyond that date.

This step seemed unthinkable to many lawmakers as recently as late last week, when the state’s first known coronavirus case was announced. By early this week, well before the first Coloradan died of coronavirus, it had begun to feel inevitable.

“COVID-19 has gone from a concern to an urgent, pervasive and incredibly important issue for all of us in the legislature to address quickly,” House Speaker KC Becker, D-Boulder, told the chamber Saturday morning.

House Majority Leader Alec Garnett:

After a very hard week, leadership in the legislature has decided to temporarily suspend the General Assembly. We made this decision to protect the public, our state employees and our colleagues. The work we do in this building matters deeply to the people of our state, and this decision was made with the recognition that there is a moral high ground that we must always consider when we are faced with unprecedented situations and decisions like this. We knew that the Legislature needed to set an example for the rest of the state in the face of this public health situation.

Experts have clearly expressed that social distancing is the most important tool we have to prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19. To protect vulnerable populations such as the elderly and immuno-compromised, we must lead by example.

When it is appropriate, we will come back and continue the important work that we were elected to do. We are all closely monitoring the situation and leadership is in close contact with state agencies and the governor’s office. We will continue to be informed by expert opinions and science. We are also closely watching the actions and recommendations of other states and the federal government.

—–

And with that, unfortunate history is made. To be updated.

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