The Get More Smarter Podcast: What the Buck?

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss two polls that spell doom for our second favorite U.S. Senator from Colorado; everything is totally under control with the coronavirus as cases mount well past one million; Republicans still want to kill Obamacare (even though it’s one of the few things actually helping during this pandemic); and the chairman of the Colorado Republican Party commits at least one crime.

If you missed last week’s episode, check it out when you’re done here.

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

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Rep. Patrick Neville, Walking Talking Public Health Hazard

UPDATE #3: Governor Polis does exactly what he should be doing:

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UPDATE #2: The Tri-County Health Department is not amused by the antics of C&C Breakfast and Korean Kitchen. As The Denver Post reports:

The Tri-County Health Department on Monday ordered a Castle Rock restaurant that opened to Mother’s Day crowds Sunday to close until it complies with the statewide COVID-19 public health order limiting dining establishments to take-out and delivery services.

Tri-County said it warned C&C Coffee and Kitchen on Friday not to open for Mother’s Day, but the restaurant opened for dine-in services anyway, according to a statement from the department.

“If the restaurant refuses to follow Governor Jared Polis’ public health order, further legal action will be taken that could include revocation of the restaurant’s license,” the statement said.

The Post story does not yet include the expected gnashing-of-teeth comments from restaurant owners or Neville himself, but they are no doubt dressing up in their martyr costumes as we write this update. #MakeAmericaBrunchAgain!

Don’t tread on them, or whatever:

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UPDATE: House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s (literally) in-house political front group, Values First Colorado, could use a rebrand:

You’re welcome, let us know where to send an invoice.

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Denver7’s Ivan Rodriguez reports from (we hope) a safe distance from Castle Rock restaurant, which has emerged as the latest front line in the ill-considered campaign by a vocal fringe to throw the doors open on the economy despite a raging pandemic:

While hundreds of restaurants across Colorado continue offering take out and curbside service in accordance with the standing public health order, C&C Coffee and Kitchen in Castle Rock had other plans for Mother’s Day.

Video taken inside the coffee shop by Colorado Community Media shows booths packed, tables filled and a line snaking out the door. The owner of C&C Coffee and Kitchen declined to speak on the record with Denver7.

As the Denver Post’s Shelly Bradbury reports, Gov. Jared Polis is displeased as expected by this latest act of self-endangering defiance of both public health orders and common sense, which makes sense since every public poll shows Americans to be much more concerned about the unscientifically rapid pace of reopening than the economic pain and inconvenience of ongoing social distancing:

Gov. Jared Polis’ office on Sunday issued a statement calling such conduct illegal and dangerous.

“These restaurants are not only breaking the law, they are endangering the lives of their staff, customers, and community,” said the statement by deputy press secretary Shelby Wieman. [Pols emphasis]

“Under Safer at Home, restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, and other similar places of public accommodation offering food or beverage for on-premises consumption are still closed. Delivery and drive-up service is available. Coloradans can contact their local public health department if they believe someone is violating Safer at Home.”

But 9NEWS updates that the cops did more reporting than enforcement, as least yesterday:

The Castle Rock Police Department said an officer reported to the Tri-County Health Department that the cafe planned to reopen. The health department said they plan to follow up, and released the following statement:

“We are disappointed that Cookies and Crème has decided to ignore the Governor’s Safer at Home order and open up today with no attention to social distancing. This decision runs the risk of undermining the impact that other Douglas County businesses and residents have achieved over the last seven weeks by taking various social distancing measures. As the entity charged with enforcing the Governor’s statewide Safer at Home Public Health Order, we will follow up with this restaurant to ensure that they, like other restaurants in the county, take appropriate steps to protect the public health, by limiting service to curbside and take-out service.”

Despite the near-universal condemnation of this restaurant’s decision to reopen to dine-in service, the establishment does not appear to have been shut down by law enforcement while the crowds were present yesterday. The over-capacity throng, which included the area’s state house representative House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (see photo above), was big enough to make shutting the place down problematic for all kinds of reasons–not least the desire to avoid exposing police officers to infection.

Perhaps second only in our state to Rep. Ken Buck, Minority Leader Neville has become the point man for turning the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic into a partisan political campaign–infamously accusing officials of developing a “Gestapo-like mentality” and openly encouraging residents to flout orders by the governor and public health authorities. This latest protest backed by Neville goes even further, encouraging disregard for the most essential best practices we should all be following even after these businesses are allowed to reopen. It’s a degree of willful irresponsibility that should shock the conscience of every Republican with a functioning brain in Colorado.

In the meantime, every Colorado legislator at least can sigh with relief that the legislative session has been pushed back another week, giving Pat Neville the opportunity to self-isolate for the recommended 14 days after doing something this stupid during a pandemic. Unfortunately we doubt he plans to do so, and hope he has not just become another preventable transmission vector. To the extent possible, if you find yourself in an enclosed space with Minority Leader Neville for the foreseeable future we suggest you make use of the nearest exit.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (May 8)

It’s almost the weekend! Remember when we had weekends? 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 unemployment rate in the United States has reached a level not seen since the Great Depression. As Vox.com reports:

The US shed 20.5 million jobs, and the unemployment rate surged to 14.7 percent in April, according to preliminary data released by the US Department of Labor Friday morning — worse than any unemployment rate on record in modern data, and higher than anything experienced since the Great Depression.

To make matters even worse, this figure almost certainly understates the true situation. April unemployment numbers are released in May based on surveys that took place during the week that contained April 12. And since April 12 in the US, things have only gotten worse: The initial unemployment insurance claims figures released in the final two weeks of April indicate that the labor market continued to deteriorate at a rapid pace, albeit slightly less rapidly than in the first weeks.

Ernie Tedeschi, a labor market economist, projected Thursday based on real-time data that the current unemployment rate is actually 20 percent. And in the jobs report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said it believes murky classification of temporary unemployment in the household survey caused the official number to be about 5 percentage points lower.

As Denver7 reports, about 420,000 Coloradans have filed unemployment claims in the last seven weeks.

 

►  Don’t worry too much about the current state of affairs, because The Economy Fairy is here to save us! From Greg Sargent at The Washington Post:

President Trump’s campaign has already telegraphed its argument along these lines. And at its core is one of Trump’s biggest and most insulting lies yet.

The claim is that, having once created the most spectacular economy in the known universe, he will now do so a second time.

“We built the greatest economy the world has ever seen,” Trump intones in a major new ad campaign. “And we’re going to do it again.” That ad heralds “the greatest comeback story,” which in truth signals an extraordinarily audacious and propagandistic rewriting of recent history.

For all of you who already understand full well that Trump had virtually nothing to do with the pre-coronavirus economy, this is your stop:

Trump didn’t build the pre-coronavirus economy he hails as his own. He inherited its major trends. This is true by just about every major metric, such as job growth and the decline in the unemployment rate, both of which had been steady during the Obama years and carried over into Trump’s presidency.

 

The Donald Trump Justice Department announced on Thursday afternoon that it was DROPPING ITS CASE against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn…even though Flynn has repeatedly admitted guilt for his crimes. Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post calls it “another corrupt act by the most corrupt attorney general ever,” in reference to AG William Barr. National Public Radio tries to understand how this is even happening, while Charlie Savage of The New York Times sums things up with a single lede:

The Justice Department’s decision to drop the criminal case against Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, even though he had twice pleaded guilty to lying to investigators, was extraordinary and had no obvious precedent, a range of criminal law specialists said on Thursday. [Pols emphasis]

The New York Times reportedly separately on Thursday that the White House had been preparing for President Trump to issue a pardon for Flynn, but advisers urged Trump to let the Justice Department do it for him wait a little longer.

 

 Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the State Republican Party Chair (or vice-versa) is caught trying to force a local Republican official to put a candidate on the Primary ballot who failed to qualify through the caucus/assembly process. Conrad Swanson of The Denver Post updates a story that is quickly going from worse to worser for Buck:

Kris Cook, chair of the Denver Republican Party, found out about it Wednesday only to hear hours later that Buck canceled a committee meeting that had been scheduled for Friday.

“We’re touching on something here that’s not quite clean, and it’s not quite the image I have of what the party ought to be,” Cook said, later adding: “I think it’s worth questioning whether him in that role is going to have a negative effect on the rest of this cycle.” [Pols emphasis]

We’ll go ahead and answer that one now: Yes.

 

 

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

 

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Accused Domestic Terrorist Testified Against “Red Flag” Law

Bradley Bunn, alleged “Reopen Colorado” domestic terrorist.

CBS4’s Rick Sallinger continues the investigation into Bradley Bunn, a “Reopen Colorado” far-right activist who was arrested with pipe bombs after attempting to organize a failed illegal armed protest at the Colorado state capitol building last Friday. In March of this year, Bunn testified in a legislative committee in favor of legislation that would repeal the state’s new “red flag” law, which creates a legal process to temporarily remove firearms from persons ruled in court to be a threat to themselves or the public.

This latest development is, needless to say, dripping with irony:

The Red Flag law is a controversial statute that allows for the removal of guns from those mentally disturbed if approved by a judge under certain conditions. Bunn’s family members described him as mentally disturbed after returning from Iraq where he said he was injured in combat.

Testifying before the Colorado House Judiciary Committee Bunn said, “I was going to end my life with a Glock 40 caliber to the heart. You only get to experience death once so I wanted to experience all of it to take it to the heart.”

On his Facebook page there is a seal that reads, “When tyranny becomes law rebellion becomes duty.”

It appears that in the course of testifying against the state’s new extreme-risk protection order (ERPO) law, Bradley Bunn became an unwitting testimonial for exactly why such a law is needed–both in terms of protecting the public, as well as those at risk of dying by suicide who this law is equally intended to protect. ERPOs can be requested either by family and household members of a person at risk or by law enforcement, but the standard of evidence of a substantial threat required to obtain an order from a judge is high enough that we don’t think this testimony itself would have risen to the level of justifying one.

But as it turns out, Mr. Bunn was broadcasting his crimes, and desire to commit more crimes, every way he could. Testifying before the legislature he later proposed to storm, as insane as that may sound, doesn’t seem to have been out of character. And we’ll be watching now for more on Bunn’s connections to Colorado’s greater hard-right political activist hordes.

We do hope, of course, that there are not too many more like him out there…

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 5)

Happy Cinco de Mayo; 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

 

We’ve said it again and again in this space, but it bears repeating: The vast majority of Americans DO NOT want the country to open up too quickly because they are still afraid of COVID-19. As The Washington Post reports:

Americans clearly oppose the reopening of restaurants, retail stores and other businesses, even as governors begin to lift restrictions that have kept the economy locked down in an effort to combat the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll.

The opposition expressed by sizable majorities of Americans reflects other cautions and concerns revealed in the survey, including continuing fears among most people that they could become infected by the coronavirus, as well as a belief that the worst of the medical crisis is not yet over…

…Americans continue to give President Trump negative marks for his response to the outbreak, while offering widely positive assessments of their state governors, a trend that has been consistent throughout the pandemic.

Meanwhile, as POLITICO reports, federal government workers are slow to return to their offices, in part because they have no idea what President Trump wants them to do:

The Trump administration last month laid out guidelines for reopening government offices and bringing operations back to normal, looking to gradually reduce the number of employees who are teleworking across the country. But the memo from the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management did not set any time lines or mandates, leaving significant discretion to the individual agencies. Democratic lawmakers, labor leaders and more than a half dozen federal employees POLITICO spoke to complained there has been little transparency or clear guidance from the agencies about the way forward.

 

CNN reports on a potential bombshell of a story about a whistleblower, coronavirus, and the Trump Administration:

Dr. Rick Bright, the ousted director of the office involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine, formally filed an extensive whistleblower complaint Tuesday alleging his early warnings about the coronavirus were ignored and that his caution at a treatment favored by President Donald Trump led to his removal. [Pols emphasis]

Bright had led the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority since 2016 until last month, when was reassigned to a narrower position at the National Institutes of Health.

In his whistleblower complaint, Bright says he raised concerns about US preparedness for coronavirus starting in January but was met with “indifference which then developed into hostility” by leaders at the Department of Health and Human Services.

 

►  TABOR + COVID-19 = Bummer for Colorado.

 

The Denver Post reports on local decisions about extending (or not) stay-at-home guidelines:

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock will not extend his stay-at-home order past Friday, his office said Monday — instead, he will begin to slowly relax restrictions that have been in place for well over a month.

Details about the next phase of reopening have not yet been provided, except that face masks will be required in public places beginning Wednesday. Hancock and other city officials will discuss guidelines for reopening businesses and progress on coronavirus testing at a 1 p.m. Tuesday press conference.

In addition, Tri-County Health Department will make an announcement Tuesday about Adams and Arapahoe counties’ stay-at-home orders, a representative for that agency said.

Colorado Public Radio has more on how Colorado is gradually moving to re-open.

 

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 and May the Fourth Be With You

Happy Star Wars Day; 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

 

Governors around the country — including Colorado Gov. Jared Polis — are reporting that they have had to literally hide shipments of emergency medical supplies from the federal government. As Gov. Polis told Colorado Public Radio last week:

On buying more than 100,000 COVID-19 tests from South Korea, but not announcing they’d arrived:

“We kept it under wraps. We simply didn’t know if anybody would swoop in. I mean we didn’t want another state or the feds or anybody. … We don’t want to give the competition, which could mean other countries, could mean our own country, could mean other states — we don’t want to give them a heads up of what we’re doing.”

Republican governors in Massachusetts and Maryland have reported similar practices. Last week, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock called out Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) for not doing more to help Colorado in this regard.

Meanwhile, as Marianne Goodland reports for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, the Trump administration is pushing back on claims from Governors that medical supplies have been snatched up by the federal government.

 

President Trump is trying to fire the acting inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services because she did her job and reported on supply shortages and testing delays.

 

As The Washington Post reports, President Trump is being advised on coronavirus response strategies by “experts” who don’t really know what they are talking about:

The span of 34 days between March 29, when Trump agreed to extend strict social-distancing guidelines, and this past week, when he celebrated the reopening of some states as a harbinger of economic revival, tells a story of desperation and dysfunction.

So determined was Trump to extinguish the deadly virus that he repeatedly embraced fantasy cure-alls and tuned out both the reality that the first wave has yet to significantly recede and the possibility of a potentially worse second wave in the fall.

 

How’s this for irony? The coronavirus appears to have killed the “public option” — at least for now. As Jesse Paul reports for The Colorado Sun:

Democrats in the Colorado legislature announced Monday that they are setting aside their contentious effort this year to pass a bill creating a public health insurance option.

The prime backers of the legislation, House Bill 1349, say the coronavirus crisis has made it impossible to ensure that all of the relevant stakeholders — hospitals, doctors and insurance companies — can be involved in the lawmaking process.

But the Democrats pushing for the measure, which is a priority of Gov. Jared Polis, say the pandemic has highlighted the need for the public option, which was set to really be a private insurance plan that’s offered through the state with strict regulations.

While COVID-19 may have illuminated the problems with our current healthcare system, the chaos of the pandemic has made it extremely difficult for the legislature to tackle bigger issues like a public option. Last week lawmakers also announced that legislation to create a paid family leave program in Colorado was also put on hold because of coronavirus.

 

 The Denver Post helps explain which businesses can re-open in Colorado beginning today, with an important caveat:

The relaxed measures do not apply to counties where stay-at-home restrictions have been extended until May 8: Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Gilpin and Jefferson.

 

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

 

(more…)

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: U.F…Oh, Who Even Cares?

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast…we talk about UFOs! No, seriously. Hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii also discuss the latest on coronavirus; Sen. Cory Gardner poppin’ bottles; a potential ballot initiative nightmare this November; and an update on a couple of important stories that we’ve discussed before. House Majority Leader Alec Garnett joins us later to talk about how and when the legislature will return to work.

If you missed last week’s episode with Rep. Joe Neguse, check it out when you’re done here.

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

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

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At Least It’s Not Your State Capitol

FRIDAY UPDATE: It’s more than a little disconcerting to bring you this update, but the President of the United States has thrown his lot in with the armed protesters who stormed the Michigan state capitol building yesterday.

We’re not sure what to say about this right now, except that we hope it’s not a preview of Election Day 2020.

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Protestors try to enter the Michigan House of Representative chamber in Lansing, Michigan on April 30, 2020. (Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

NBC News reports on a frightening scene today outside and inside the Michigan state capitol building in Lansing:

Hundreds of Michigan residents protested outside the state Capitol building in Lansing on Thursday, with some pushing inside while the Legislature was debating an extension of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s state of emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Protesters held signs, waved American flags and even carried firearms while some chanted, “Let us in!” and “This is the people’s house, you cannot lock us out,” and others tried to get onto the House floor but were blocked by state police and sergeants-at-arms, according to WDIV-TV, an NBC affiliate in Detroit.

A state police spokesman told NBC News that it is legal in Michigan to carry firearms as long as it is done with lawful intent and the weapon is visible…

Still, men carrying semiautomatic long guns in the galleries of the legislature shouting threats down at lawmakers can only be considered a highly alarming development for anyone who’s a fan of representative small-d democracy, and we hope that’s all of our readers. We acknowledge the (we hope) small fraction of Americans who think elected officials work better when being personally threatened with violence, but we think a majority will agree this isn’t how we do things in America even in a pandemic.

Here in Colorado, it’s not legal to openly carry weapons in the city of Denver where our capitol building is located, and inside the only people allowed to carry concealed weapons are lawmakers who controversially consider themselves exempt from the ban on firearms everyone else must observe. Last Sunday, a “Reopen Colorado” protester openly carrying a gun across the street from the building had to relearn Denver’s gun laws the hard way.

With that said, there are certainly those among our local pro-COVID “freedom fighters” who would do this if they could.

Let’s hope they all got the memo last Sunday and know better than to try.

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Republican Senator Thrilled With Massive Budget Shortfall

As Colorado Public Radio reports, state lawmakers are starting to consider where to make cuts in the state budget because of a coronavirus-related revenue shortfall of somewhere between $3 billion and $4 billion (out of a total budget of around $34 billion):

Since the start of the pandemic, personal income and sales taxes have plummeted. The committee has to undo much of the budget that was nearly finalized before the coronavirus ground state revenues to a near halt.

“I think those 10-20 percent scenarios of reducing the budget are fairly realistic,” said Democratic Sen. Dominick Moreno of Commerce City, the vice-chair of the joint budget committee. He said the cuts couldn’t come at a worse time, as the state tries to recover from COVID-19 and help Coloradans who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and the economy shutting down.

“I think everyone’s worry is getting rid of that safety net. So many people are relying on it. The most sinister piece of all of this is when the state encounters revenue declines, that’s when government services are needed the most,” Moreno said. “It’s really a sinister cycle we’re embarking on.”

Non-partisan budget staff released a range of proposals for the legislature to consider depending on how deep the budget cuts must go. The committee expects Colorado will need to budget to the deepest proposed cuts.

State lawmakers are required by Colorado’s Constitution to balance the state budget every year — even in the face of an unprecedented global pandemic that is gutting the world economy. The legislature needs to finalize a state budget by the end of May because Colorado’s fiscal year starts on July 1.

It’s fair to say that most lawmakers are not looking forward to making agonizing decisions such as suspending property tax exemptions for seniors, or cutting grants for K-12 school construction projects and mental health programs. But not every legislator is bummed about budget cuts, as The Colorado Sun reports, Sen. John Cooke (R-Weld County), the Assistant Minority Leader for the Republican caucus, is damn near giddy:

“I’m happy it will cut back their agenda by quite a bit. I think there is going to be pain for both sides, but more on the Democrat agenda than ours.”

The Republican legislative “agenda” in recent years has been almost entirely focused on simply opposing anything that Democrats propose under the Gold Dome…that is, when they can be bothered to pay attention at all. Senator Cooke, a former Weld County Sheriff, has never been shy about blurting out his opposition to pretty much any forward-thinking policy. He’s even proposed ignoring laws that don’t agree with his personal politics.

Within this context, Sen. Cooke’s comments are not a complete surprise, but they’re still ghoulishly inappropriate.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 28)

Happy National Superhero Day; 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

 

► Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to be softening on his resistance to providing federal aid to local municipal governments decimated by the coronavirus. McConnell has spent much of the past week in vocal opposition to helping out local governments, which has not been a popular stance. As The Washington Post reports, McConnell and President Trump may be getting the message:

As states across the country see their budgets decimated by the coronavirus pandemic, attempts by President Trump and top Republican lawmakers to paint the issue in partisan terms have been directly challenged by a growing cast of voices from across the political spectrum.

Republican and Democratic governors are warning of financial calamity if Washington doesn’t provide relief, some GOP lawmakers have joined with Democrats to call for a massive aid bill, and budget experts contend that leaving states to fend for themselves will only prolong the nation’s recovery from the economic shock brought on by the pandemic.

Still, Trump has pushed the idea that a federal aid package would largely benefit fiscally irresponsible states run by Democrats. It’s the latest attempt by the president to cast a partisan frame around a crisis that has ravaged much of the country with little regard for political affiliation.

Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Boulderish) is the sponsor of The Coronavirus Community Relief Act, a measure to assist local governments which has broad bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate. Neguse discusses this legislation in the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast.

Check out CNN for more on McConnell’s shifting stance on this issue.

 

The White House is not happy that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) is advising Senators and candidates to avoid defending President Trump on his coronavirus response. From POLITICO:

On Monday — just days after POLITICO first reported the existence of the memo — Trump political adviser Justin Clark told NRSC executive director Kevin McLaughlin that any Republican candidate who followed the memo’s advice shouldn’t expect the active support of the reelection campaign and risked losing the support of Republican voters.

McLaughlin responded by saying he agreed with the Trump campaign’s position and, according to two people familiar with the conversation, clarified that the committee wasn’t advising candidates to not defend Trump over his response…

…The 57-page memo, which was authored by a top GOP strategist, was perceived by Trump aides as giving candidates leeway to avoid backing the president on what could be the defining issue of the 2020 campaign. And they held a series of conversations on Friday and over the weekend figuring out how to respond.

The memo urged GOP Senate candidates to stay relentlessly on message with attacks against China, where the coronavirus originated, when pressed about the pandemic on the campaign trail. When asked about Trump’s response to the pandemic, the document advised candidates to pivot to an attack on the authoritarian country rather than offer an explicit defense of Trump’s response.

It’s hard to argue with the NRSC’s logic here. How do you defend the indefensible?

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) apparently got the memo.

 

Colorado is joining forces with other Western states on a shared path toward reducing stay-at-home guidelines. As Denver7 reports:

The Western States Pact is a group of governors from the western states that have a shared vision for modifying the stay-at-home orders and continuing to fight the novel coronavirus. The governors have pledged that health outcomes and science, and not politics, will guide their decisions regarding COVID-19.

The Western States Pact is centered around three core principles: 1) Prioritizing the health of residents, 2) Relying on science, not politics, in making decisions about reducing restrictions, and 3) Working together with other states on a common rollout. Colorado joins Nevada, California, Oregon, and Washington in The Western States Pact.

 

Governor Jared Polis is reminding Coloradans that we could return to “stay-at-home” status if the new “safer-at-home” program doesn’t slow the coronavirus.

 

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 Thursday (April 23)

Today is definitely Thursday; we triple-checked. 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

 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell thinks that state and local governments should just declare bankruptcy and stop bothering Congress for help. From POLITICO:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday insisted that flailing state and local governments should be able to “use the bankruptcy route” rather than receive aid from the federal government — signaling renewed opposition to a top Democratic demand for the next coronavirus relief package.

In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, the Kentucky Republican also expressed concern about adding billions more to the national debt in addition to the nearly $3 trillion Congress has already sent out the door to combat the economic and public health challenges of the pandemic…

States do not have the ability to declare bankruptcy under current law, and modifying the bankruptcy code would likely be a heavy lift in Congress. [Pols emphasis]

Oh, so NOW McConnell is worried about the national debt; he didn’t seem too concerned about this when Republicans were ramming through a massive tax cut for the wealthy.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives is debating today on a $484 billion coronavirus relief package that has already passed the Senate; the legislation does NOT provide financial relief for state governments.

 

President Trump totally agrees with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s aggressive plans to re-open his state. Or he definitely disagrees. It’s hard to know, really. From CNN:

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence both called Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday night and expressed support and praise for the Republican’s move to reopen businesses in his state starting Friday, a source familiar with the call said. Trump later said the opposite — that he told Kemp he disagreed “strongly” with the decision.

The call came as public health officials warned that Kemp is moving too quickly, some business owners said they would keep their doors closed and mayors said they feared Kemp’s action would deepen the coronavirus crisis in their communities…

…But the President said during Wednesday’s news conference that he told Kemp he disagreed “strongly” with the governor’s decision to reopen some businesses in his state.

As CNN’s Chris Cillizza explains further, it does indeed seem that Trump is tossing Kemp under the bus in a major way:

It’s an absolutely remarkable bit of political blaming — made all the worse (or better depending on where you stand) by the fact that Kemp likely went into Wednesday night’s coronavirus task force press briefing believing that, even while criticism was mounting, he still had Trump’s support to fall back on. It’s like a trust fall exercise where the person behind you assures you they will catch you and then not only lets you fall but stomps on you when you are on the ground.

For Kemp, it’s a painful lesson to learn: Loyalty is a one-way street for Trump. [Pols emphasis] Trump expects totally fealty — he was not happy with Kemp when the governor passed over Rep. Doug Collins for the appointment to Georgia’s vacant Senate seat — and feels no real need to reciprocate. You need to be loyal to him. He will be loyal to you — as long as it serves his interests.

 

The OVERWHELMING majority of Americans continue to believe that governments should move slowly in reopening society and are worried more about the health crisis than the economy.

Via Navigator Research

 

Denver7 offers more clarity on Colorado’s new “safer at home” coronavirus response plan:

While Gov. Jared Polis announced the safer-at-home plans on Monday, he explained in more detail at a news conference Wednesday about what life will look like in Colorado beginning next week.

Polis used two Colorado analogies to summarize the new phase. For skiers, we’re moving from the bunny slopes to the greens, Polis explained. For hikers, we’re at a trailhead with 14,000 feet to go.

“If we fall down on green, it’s back to the bunny hill,” Polis said.

The safer-at-home phase, Polis explained, is a step forward for some businesses to re-open and employees to return to work. But many of the practices and measures enacted during the stay-at-home order will still be strongly encouraged.

 

Looking for GOOD news related to the coronavirus outbreak? Here’s a heartwarming story.

 

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

 

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In Fundraising Email to “Fight Leftist Propaganda,” Patrick Neville Understates COVID Hospitalizations by Half

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

In a political fundraising email sent yesterday, statehouse Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock) underreported the number of Coloradans hospitalized with coronavirus by half. He claims “fewer than 900 people” have had hospital stays, but publicly available state data put the total at over 2,000.

Total COVID-19 hospitalizations as of April 21.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment updates and publishes COVID-19 related data daily online.

Neville’s email asks for donations to fight “the Polis Police State and his leftist propaganda media.”

“Nearly 300,000 Colorado residents are out of work and struggling to provide for their families, while less than 900 people statewide have been hospitalized with Coronavirus.

…Take Back Colorado is fighting to reopen Colorado and get people back to work, but we’re up against the Polis Police State and his leftist media propaganda machine that wants every Colorado resident to be entirely beholden to the Government.

I know times are tough, but your DONATION right now will help us take our fight to reopen Colorado directly to every resident who is fed up with the Polis lockdown and wants to get back to work….

Sincerely, 

Rep. Pat Neville” [emphasis added]

Neville sent the email just after midday Tuesday, so it’s possible the totals on the state’s COVID-19 website weren’t yet updated. Even if that was the case, the previous day’s total listed 1,880 hospitalizations.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 22)

Today is the 50th anniversary of the first “Earth Day.” 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

 

Chris Cillizza of CNN highlights a very important moment from Tuesday that might be getting lost because of coronavirus news:

The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is chaired by Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, released its long-awaited 156-page report detailing its investigation into allegations that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 election.

And what did their investigation find? That Russia engaged in a deep and broad effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 race, aiming to help Donald Trump win. “The Committee found no reason to dispute the Intelligence Community’s conclusions,” said Burr in a statement on his committee’s findings…

…Here’s the thing that the Senate Intelligence Committee report should drive home for Trump — and everyone else: it is now entirely and completely beyond dispute that Russia sought to interfere in the last presidential election to help Trump and hurt Clinton.

In order to not believe that, you have to accept that the entire intelligence community, Mueller and his entire team and the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee are ALL in on some sort of elaborate and incredibly well-coordinated scheme to deceive the American public because, uh, they all don’t like Trump or something? [Pols emphasis]

 

The director of the CDC, Robert Redfield, is warning that a winter round of coronavirus could be much, much worse. From The Washington Post:

“There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in an interview with The Washington Post. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean.”

“We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he said. Having two simultaneous respiratory outbreaks would put unimaginable strain on the health-care system, he said. The first wave of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, has already killed more than 42,000 people across the country. It has overwhelmed hospitals and revealed gaping shortages in test kits, ventilators and protective equipment for health-care workers.

In a wide-ranging interview, Redfield said federal and state officials need to use the coming months to prepare for what lies ahead. As stay-at-home orders are lifted, officials need to stress the continued importance of social distancing. Officials also need to massively scale up their ability to identify the infected through testing and find everyone they interact with through contact tracing. Doing so prevents new cases from becoming larger outbreaks.

Asked about the appropriateness of protests against stay-at-home orders and calls on states to be “liberated” from restrictions, Redfield said: “It’s not helpful.” [Pols emphasis]

True as it may be, that last line probably means that Redfield won’t get to talk to reporters again for awhile. Saying mean things about President Trump gets you put into “time out” in this administration.

 

 Colorado Public Radio digs into the differences between “stay-at-home” and “safe-at-home” as Colorado takes cautious steps toward relaxing social distancing guidelines.

 

Here’s your daily CNN fact-check of President Trump’s coronavirus briefing.

 

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 Tuesday (April 21)

The Flint, Michigan water crisis began on this day in 2014. Yes, 2014. 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

 

Governor Jared Polis on Monday outlined a path forward for Colorado to begin to return to normal life after more than a month of stay-at-home orders, though critics worry that there is still a severe shortage of coronavirus testing in our state. As Denver 7 reports:

Colorado public health officials said Monday that even once the governor begins to lift the stay-at-home order next week, strict physical distancing measures, the wearing of masks and better COVID-19 case detection and containment will be needed for months to avoid overwhelming the state’s ICU hospital beds.

Gov. Jared Polis said Monday afternoon he would allow the statewide stay-at-home order to expire Sunday, but plans keep those strict measures discussed by health officials in place as the state gradually begins to reopen through what Polis said would be “safer at home” guidance.

Polis said retail businesses could begin curbside delivery on Monday, April 27. Elective surgeries will be allowed beginning that same day. Large workplaces will be allowed to open at 50 percent capacity beginning on May 4. Polis says he hopes bars, restaurants, and clubs can reopen by mid-May but warned that more data was needed before he can make that decision.

 

There are conflicting stories about the progress of another coronavirus stimulus bill in Congress. As The Washington Post reports:

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Tuesday that lawmakers and the White House have reached a nearly $500 billion deal to replenish a small business lending program slammed by the coronavirus and to boost spending on hospitals and testing…

…However, a Senate GOP leadership aide cautioned that a deal was close but not yet completed as it awaited final sign-off from GOP leaders. The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private negotiations.

Democrats have been demanding that more money is included to provide relief to local governments and municipalities.

Meanwhile, The Colorado Sun breaks down Colorado’s $7.4 billion share from the first round of funding for the Paycheck Protection Program.

 

CNN once again fact-checks President Trump’s daily coronavirus briefing.

 

 We’ve mentioned before that nearly 8 in 10 Americans DO NOT AGREE with the narrative being pushed by protestors who are mad about stay-at-home orders. Now, a new poll shows that the majority of Americans believe these protestors are wrong. From Newsweek:

The latest survey by Yahoo! News and YouGov found that 60 percent of the U.S. public opposed protesters calling for an immediate end to social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders designed to protect public safety.

Less than a quarter of respondents (22 percent) said they supported the rallies calling for America to be “reopened” while a further 18 percent said they were “not sure” how they felt on the matter.

The coronavirus also disagrees with these protestors. The state of Kentucky saw a surge in coronavirus cases a few days after rallies from right-wing meatheads who are mad about stay-at-home orders.

 

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

 

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Even More Republicans Just Making Stuff Up

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

As the old saying goes, it’s not what you don’t know that gets you into trouble–it’s what you know for sure that just isn’t so. Western Slope Republicans are proving it’s still as true as ever. Congressman Scott Tipton, to kick things off, heard a rumor! And on the basis of that rumor made some very stern demands of Gov. Jared Polis:

“I am writing to seek more information on how the state of Colorado will allocate the approximately $1.7 billion it will receive under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to county and local governments. Rumors [Pols emphasis] that you plan to use the entirety of the federal aid to balance the state’s budget, and neglect to distribute the funds to smaller county, tribal and municipal governments for which they are intended, are deeply troubling…

I am extremely concerned about information I have received that indicates your office plans to use all of Colorado’s CARES Act funds to balance the state’s budget, [Pols emphasis] rather than allocate a portion of the funds to county and local governments to help offset their revenue losses and unforeseen expenses related to the pandemic. This decision would be completely unacceptable, against Congressional intent for these funds, and I request an immediate response from you or your office on this matter.”

“Several state and federal elected officials are telling local ones things that may not be true.”
Grand Junction Sentinel, 4/18/20

The full text of the letter has since been deleted from Tipton’s website, and there’s a good reason. Any of you who know who Colorado’s budget-setting process works, or for that matter we believe this process works across the country, should have by now taken note of a very basic problem. As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby reports:

In his regular COVID-19 press briefing, Polis said he spoke to Tipton and reminded him that as a former member of the Colorado House, he should know that it’s the Colorado Legislature, and not the governor, who controls the state’s purse strings, [Pols emphasis] so it’s up to them to decide how that money is to be spent.

You see, governors do not pass the budget. Governors recommend a budget, but budgets are assembled and passed by the legislature–the state legislature in Colorado that Rep. Scott Tipton used to be a member of, and the federal legislature we call “Congress” that Tipton is a member of today. Some of the money is earmarked in the federal CARES Act to go to larger population centers, but that’s of course not the same thing–and the exact opposite of what Tipton and the “rumor” he was acting on believed. Apparently Tipton’s “rumor” was a mistaken email from Colorado Counties Inc., but Tipton as a federal official has an obligation to vet allegations before they become the subject of official correspondence. Especially when the allegation is so wrong it’s silly.

After all, Tipton voted for this bill.

From here, Ashby documents how the lie traveled around the Western Slope while the truth was still getting its proverbial pants on:

The CCI email spurred Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese and state Rep. Janice Rich, R-Grand Junction, to repeat the false news on social media Friday.

“Shocker!,” Pugliese wrote on Twitter. “It appears the Polis Administration made the decision to use the state and local government CARES Act funding, almost $1.7 billion dollars, to balance the state’s budget.”

Rich later corrected her Facebook post after checking the matter with the U.S. Department of the Treasury… [Pols emphasis]

Seriously folks, doesn’t any Republican legislator west of the Divide understand how their own jobs work? Sen. Bob Rankin serves on the Joint Budget Committee and definitely knows better than this. Two seconds’ consultation with Rankin might have spared Tipton and Rep. Rich a lot of embarrassment. We assume he was not on the Zoom call.

The real problem, of course, is that this kind of misinformation always travels farther and faster than the subsequent correction. Social media misinformation in particular can exponentially outrun the mainstream media’s less captivating reality, like a self-selected virus. Despite the best efforts of the Grand Junction Sentinel, voters on the Western Slope will go into the election season convinced that Jared Polis swiped their cash to balance his big-city budget.

We can only hope not too many, and other voters who don’t like being lied “rumored” to outnumber them.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (April 20)

Smoke ’em if you got ’em. 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

 

Remember earlier this month when President Trump fired the inspector general who was supposed to oversee the distribution of coronavirus stimulus funds? It turns out that this was not a good idea!

As The Washington Post reports, the small business loan program ran out of money because a giant chunk of it went to not small businesses:

The federal government gave national hotel and restaurant chains millions of dollars in grants before the $349 billion program ran out of money Thursday, leading to a backlash that prompted one company to give the money back and a Republican senator to say that “millions of dollars are being wasted.”

Thousands of traditional small businesses were unable to get funding from the program before it ran dry. As Congress and the White House near a deal to add an additional $310 billion to the program, some are calling for additional oversight and rule changes to prevent bigger chains from accepting any more money…

…In all, more than 70 publicly traded companies have reported receiving money from the program, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Executives at Shake Shack, a $1.6 billion company, returned a $10 million dollar loan it had received after criticism from small business owners.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration and Congress are hammering out details on another coronavirus stimulus bill that could inject another $470 billion into the small business loan fund. Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is pushing locally for more money to go into the Payment Protection Program.

 

 President Trump held another off-the-wall press briefing over the weekend that included defamatory comments toward the FBI and an open admission that he snubbed Utah Sen. Mitt Romney for a new committee purely out of spite. Then this happened:

 

The actual President of the United States of America is literally cheerleading for anti-government protestors. As Maggie Haberman writes for The New York Times:

Via The New York Times (4/20/20)

Whether his latest theme will be effective for him is an open question: In an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released on Sunday, just 36 percent of voters said they generally trusted what Mr. Trump says about the coronavirus.

But the president, who ran as an insurgent in 2016, is most comfortable raging against the machine of government, even when he is the one running the country. And while the coronavirus is in every state in the union, it is heavily affecting minority and low-income communities.

So when Mr. Trump on Friday tweeted “LIBERATE,” his all-capitalized exhortations against strict orders in specific states — including Michigan — were in keeping with how he ran in 2016: saying things that seem contradictory, like pledging to work with governors and then urging people to “liberate” their states, and leaving it to his audiences to hear what they want to hear in his words.

Right wing protestors mad about stay-at-home orders yelled at the State Capitol on Sunday. The most enduring image from Sunday was a few unidentified nurses who took a break from working at a nearby hospital to make their own statement:

Marianne Goodland has more on Sunday’s circus:

Maybe half of those at Sunday’s protest wore masks. Few practiced social distancing.

As a reminder, nearly 8 in 10 Americans DO NOT AGREE with the narrative being pushed by these protestors.

 

As Will Bunch writes for The Philadelphia Inquirer, these anti-government protests look and smell a lot like the 2009 Tea Party — which was not the grassroots organization that it claimed to be:

I’d be something of a hypocrite to criticize the fact that people are writing about or broadcasting these protests because a) I’m here this morning writing about them and b) a decade ago I was so fascinated by a right-wing protest movement with similar, sometimes irrational demands and similar nebulous origins — the Tea Party —that I wrote an entire book about it, The Backlash. But what I learned back then is why I’m troubled by the way the Times, cable TV and other outlets are covering 2020′s “spontaneous”-not-really-right-wing rallies, because the real story is who stands behind them, and why.

 

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is the subject of an ethics complaint related to a $1,000-a-bottle champagne tasting party he attended in late February in Palm Beach, Florida. The pictures from the event are not a good look for Gardner.

 

 

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

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Just Stay Home and Listen

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss big news in the first quarter fundraising numbers for federal campaigns; ponder whether Republican House Minority Leader Patrick Neville might be the worst person in Colorado; and try to understand why anyone would be protesting against efforts to prevent them from being killed by the coronavirus.

If you missed last week’s episode, check it out when you’re done here.

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

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

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Get More Smarter on Friday (April 17)

Boulder, CO is officially the snowiest city in America this winter. Can we blame El Niño? 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

 

► It won’t shock you to know that President Trump is again behaving like an irresponsible jerk, but even this seems like a bit much for The Big Orange Guy. As The Washington Post reports, Trump took to Twitter on Friday morning to ENCOURAGE protestors who are mad at state governors for not letting them die of coronavirus.

 

We wrote yesterday about the sheer ridiculousness of these “protest” rallies, which do not at all reflect the opinions of the vast majority of Americans as indicated by numerous public polls. Does President Trump think that state governors are acting inappropriately? Probably not, but any opportunity to goose his base must not go un-seized.

Meanwhile, POLITICO looks at President Trump’s three-part “strategy” to re-open the country amid the coronavirus outbreak, which is mostly about telling the nation’s governors to take the lead. Trump also announced the creation of the “Opening Up America Again Congressional Group” that includes every Republican U.S. Senator except Mitt Romney. This is different (we think) than the “Council to Reopen America” that counts first son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka Trump among its members.

Here in Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis says that social distancing measures won’t be relaxed until more widespread coronavirus testing is available.

 

As Vox.com reports, the Texas Attorney General is literally threatening criminal prosecution against any groups that advocate for people to request a mail-in-ballot because they are worried about COVID-19:

On Tuesday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s (R) office released a letter arguing that a Texas law governing who may obtain an absentee ballot must be read very narrowly — so narrowly that it could potentially disenfranchise millions of voters during the coronavirus pandemic.

The letter went even further than that, threatening criminal prosecutions against activists who encourage many younger voters to vote absentee.

The next day, a state trial judge in Austin rejected Paxton’s reading of this absentee ballot law, holding that Texas voters should have broad access to absentee ballots during the pandemic. But it is far from clear that Judge Tim Sulak’s order will survive contact with higher Texas courts.

All nine State Supreme Court Justices in Texas are — SURPRISE! — Republicans, so if when Paxton appeals this case, it will be heard by friendly ears.

 

Erik Maulbetsch of The Colorado Times Recorder goes into great detail in examining how Republican operatives manufactured a “scandal” that they have used as the basis of expensive and misleading advertisements:

The groups have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into amplifying a single misleading news headline that created a false impression that an obscure line item in the governor’s budget has something to do with the terrorist attacks of 2001.

That misnomer about 9/11 has not been repeated by the mainstream media since first appearing in print last fall, but that has not stopped the groups from airing that attack for weeks.

 

The Denver Post looks at the last gasps of the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which ran out of money this week. Colorado officials are already pushing for more small business support in the next big Congressional relief package.

 

 

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

 

(more…)

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The Protests Are Coming…Whether They Make Sense or Not

FRIDAY UPDATE: Oh, neat. President Trump is now ENCOURAGING this behavior.

—–

Views from a MAGA rally/government protest in Lansing, Michigan on Wednesday

Right-wing Republicans across the country are shaking their fists at stay-at-home restrictions because the coronavirus wouldn’t respond to their complaints. As a result, this week has seen ridiculous protests in places like Michigan, and Colorado is next on the list.

Organizers are planning an event called “Operation Gridlock Denver” (we’re not linking to any of this nonsense) that will take place on Sunday. Yes, you read that correctly. “Gridlock” on a Sunday. Planners of this event are stressing that people who attend should remain in their cars to protest stay-at-home orders, because you are obviously more likely to get infected by COVID-19 if you are out milling around with other people. If you don’t already understand the irony here, then we certainly can’t explain it any better.

Before anyone gets too carried away in thinking that these “protestors” represent more than a small percentage of like-minded morons, there are a few important points we’d like to address:

The Vast Majority of Americans Absolutely Do NOT Agree

A new poll from POLITICO/Morning Consult shows that 8 in 10 Americans are in no hurry to end social distancing practices because they are (rightly) scared of COVID-19:

More than eight in 10 voters, 81 percent, say Americans “should continue to social distance for as long as is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus, even if it means continued damage to the economy.” Only 10 percent say Americans “should stop social distancing to stimulate the economy, even if it means increasing the spread of coronavirus.”

Those poll numbers track with what Gallup has been following. Even after government restrictions on social contact are lifted, 71% of Americans would “wait to see what happens with the coronavirus” before resuming “normal activities.”

Via Gallup

 

Across the country, the Governors who have been leading the way on issuing stay-at-home guidance are viewed exponentially more favorably than President Trump, whose approval ratings are plummeting. In our state, 75% of Coloradans approve of the way that Gov. Jared Polis has responded to the coronavirus outbreak, compared to about 43% who approve of how Trump has handled the situation.

 

Protest Arguments Make No Logical Sense Whatsoever

This interview with a protestor in Michigan should speak for itself:

In case you can’t see the interview, it features a guy wearing a mask covering most of his face saying that coronavirus concerns are overblown. You don’t have to be House Minority Leader Patrick Neville to say something stupid about social distancing measures.

As we know from multiple failed recall attempts by a small band of right-wing grifters, the most outspoken of protestors don’t necessarily ply their trade with logic. Nevertheless, it’s important to point out the flawed reasoning here. Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, artfully explained for POLITICO why arguments opposing social distancing are lunacy:

A good example of the genre is an op-ed co-authored by former Education Secretary William Bennett and talk radio host and author Seth Leibsohn . It is titled, tendentiously and not very accurately, “Coronavirus Lessons: Fact and Reason vs. Paranoia and Fear.” Bennett and Leibsohn are intelligent and public-spirited men whom I’ve known for years, but they’ve got this wrong, and in rather elementary ways.

They cite the latest estimate of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Washington state that the current outbreak will kill 68,000 Americans. Then, they note that about 60,000 people died of the flu in 2017-18. For this, they thunder, we’ve scared Americans and imposed huge economic and social costs on the country.

This is such an obviously flawed way of looking at the question, it’s hard to believe that Bennett and Leibsohn don’t realize it.

If we are going to have 60,000 deaths with people not leaving their homes for more than a month, the number of deaths obviously would have been higher—much higher—if everyone had gone about business as usual. We didn’t lock down the country to try to prevent 60,000 deaths; we locked down the country to limit deaths to 60,000 (or whatever the ultimate toll is) from what would have been a number multiples larger. [Pols emphasis]

By Bennett and Leibsohn ’s logic, we could just as easily ask: Why did we expend all that blood and treasure fighting Hitler when he couldn’t even take Britain or conquer Moscow? Why did we adopt tough-on-crime policies, when crime rates are at historic lows? Why did we work so hard to find a treatment for HIV/AIDs, when so many of the people with the disease now have normal life expectancies?

Of course, it was precisely the actions we took that caused those welcome outcomes.

It’s probably not just top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway who believes that “COVID-19” means there were 18 other “COVIDs” that came before it.

There are definitely a few people who will head to Denver on Sunday to yell at the Capitol Building, and they absolutely have the right to do so. Let’s just not pretend that they represent the majority opinion of Coloradans on staying protected from COVID-19.

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GOP Leader Patrick Neville Has Ties to Group Promoting Protest to Open Businesses

(COVID4America! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado Citizen Press, an anonymous conservative blog whose sponsors include Take Back Colorado, a political committee tied to Republican State House Leader Patrick Neville, published an item this morning that promotes two protests on Sunday calling on Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) to allow businesses to open, despite the ongoing threat of COVID-19.

Yesterday, Colorado Citizen Press emailed a “special message from our sponsor,” Take Back Colorado, stating, “If you agree that Polis has done enough damage to Colorado’s economy… please chip in to help us elect conservatives who will support economic and personal freedom.

The Take Back Colorado email linked to a donation page featuring a “POLIS POLICE STATE SURVEY” that asked, “Do you think it’s time for Polis to lift his lockdown order and let Coloradans get back to work?”

Take Back Colorado is run by Rearden Strategic, widely known to be run by Patrick Neville’s brother Joe Neville.

Efforts to find out if Patrick Neville plans to attend the protest–and for comment on this article– were not successful.

A Facebook page for one of Sunday’s protests, called Operation Gridlock Denver and set for 1 p.m. at the Capitol, shows 323 people going and 1,400 as interested. It’s hosted by the Libertarian Party of El Paso County, Victoria Reynolds 2020, and Peace, Love, and Hippie Juice.

Several Colorado Republicans have either RSVP’d or indicated interest in attending, including House Minority Caucus Chair Rep. Lori Saine (R-Firestone), Rep. Shane Sandridge (R-Colorado Springs), Republican candidate for HD63 Pastor Corey Seulean, and former legislators Ted Harvey and Gordon Klingenschmitt.

The second event starts at 2 p.m at the same location and is hosted by the Libertarian Party of Colorado. A Facebook page for this event shows 72 people going, 268 interested.

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 15)

Hey, at least your taxes aren’t due today. 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

 

President Trump and many Republicans still really want to open up the country around May 1. This makes scientists and health experts very nervous, as The Washington Post reports:

A draft national strategy to reopen the country in phases, developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, emphasizes that even a cautious and phased approach “will entail a significant risk of resurgence of the virus.”

The internal document, obtained by The Washington Post, warns of a “large rebound curve” of novel coronavirus cases if mitigation efforts are relaxed too quickly before vaccines are developed and distributed or broad community immunity is achieved…

…The framework lays out criteria that should be in place before a region can responsibly ease guidelines related to public gatherings: a “genuinely low” number of cases; a “well functioning” monitoring system capable of “promptly detecting” spikes of infections; a public health system able to react robustly to new cases and local health systems that have enough inpatient beds to rapidly scale up in the event of a surge in cases.

This would seem to necessitate ramping up testing and production of personal protective equipment at levels not currently being done.

Polls continue to show that the vast majority of Americans are not at all enthusiastic about rushing back to “normal” life. As Vox.com explains, the Trump administration is actually pretty freakin’ far from being ready for the country to reopen.

 

Late Tuesday, President Trump announced that he was cutting off funding for the World Health Organization because he needs a scapegoat for his coronavirus response failures. House Democrats don’t believe that Trump can legally make this decision, but “laws” aren’t really a concern for this White House.

Trump is also holding up the distribution of stimulus checks so that the “memo” line of the checks can include the name “Donald J. Trump. No, seriously.

 

Today is the filing deadline for political campaigns to report Q1 fundraising numbers.

 

As The Denver Post reports, state officials are cautiously optimistic that social distancing and stay at home orders have dramatically slowed the transmission of COVID-19 in Colorado. Here’s more from Denver7 and 9News.

Meanwhile, Colorado wants the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to cover most of the costs for the construction of temporary field hospitals in Denver and Loveland. As Colorado Public Radio reports:

The costs of the facilities are split between the states and the federal government under the federal Stafford Act. But Polis and other members of the National Governors Association think that’s an unfair expectation during an unprecedented outbreak.

“We believe that the unprecedented size, scale and duration of the COVID-19 impacts far exceed the response capabilities of the states and territories and warrants the full force and support of the federal government. Waiving the cost-share requirements will ensure that states and territories are able to adequately and rapidly respond to and support the American people,” read a letter from the NGA to President Donald Trump.

Polis has described the facilities as preparation for a worst-case scenario. They’ll hopefully see only dozens or hundreds of patients, he said. The Denver and Loveland facilities are for “Tier 3” patients who don’t need the full medical care of a hospital.

Colorado is also planning out how to respond to a potential second wave of coronavirus cases by preparing more medical facilities around the state.

 

CNN dutifully fact checks another of President Trump’s coronavirus briefings:

Another coronavirus briefing. Another series of false claims.

Speaking Tuesday in the Rose Garden of the White House, President Donald Trump denied making a comment he did make. He criticized the World Health Organization for the same thing he has done before. He wrongly suggested he was the only national leader to impose travel restrictions on China. He claimed he was “authorizing” governors to lift coronavirus restrictions even though this power always belonged to governors. He falsely claimed, again, that “nobody ever thought” there would be a crisis like this. And he repeated some of his favorite false claims about his tariffs on China.

It’s probably fair to say that CNN has had enough of Trump’s crap. We are all CNN.

 

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 Tuesday (April 14)

Happy Pan American Day; 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

 

Damage control! Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) and President Trump are both attempting to re-spin last week’s version of coronavirus pork barrel politics, in which Trump approved 100 ventilators for Colorado only after receiving a personal call from Gardner (and after Gov. Jared Polis said the federal government snatched up 500 ventilators that Colorado had already ordered). Click here to read more.

 

► President Trump held a 2 1/2 hour press conference on Monday afternoon/evening in which he mostly talked about what a great job he was doing as Commander in Chief and denigrated the media in general; one CNN story called it a “Presidential tantrum.” Ashley Parker of The Washington Post has a great rundown of Trump’s horrendously self-serving diatribe. Chris Cillizza of CNN breaks out 39 of Trump’s most ridiculous statements, including his early foray into media bashing:

“Now, with that, I have a couple of interesting — we have a few clips that we’re just going to put up. We could turn the lights a little bit lower. I think you will find them interesting.”

At this point, the President of the United States ran a propaganda reel/campaign ad touting how great he has done on dealing with the coronavirus. It ran on the White House grounds while Trump was in his official role as President of the United States. If you don’t have a problem with that, you aren’t paying attention.

Trump also made sure to mention that he has the sole authority to “reopen” the country regardless of the input of state governors. This is not true. At all.

“The authority of the president of the United States having to do with the subject we’re talking about is total.”

It just isn’t. Trump cannot rescind executive orders made by governors in states related to school closures or stay-at-home orders. Also, isn’t Trump a Republican? And didn’t Republicans build their party on a limited federal government and expansive state governments? Doesn’t anyone notice this? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

Governors across the country are pushing back on Trump’s 10th Amendment ignorance.

 

Last week Wisconsin held a shaky Primary Election after the conservative-majority State Supreme Court overruled the Governor’s request to delay voting on account of coronavirus. In a remarkable bit of karmic electoral magic, a Democrat managed to knock off a Republican running for re-election on the very same State Supreme Court. As The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

Dane County Circuit Judge Jill Karofsky won the race for Wisconsin Supreme Court, narrowing the conservative majority after a tumultuous election conducted in the midst of a global pandemic, according to unofficial results released Monday.

Karofsky’s victory marked the first time in a dozen years that a Supreme Court challenger beat an incumbent — and just the second time in more than half a century. Her win over Justice Daniel Kelly will shift conservative control of the court from 5-2 to 4-3.

Appearing by video conference from her home with her son and daughter behind her, Karofsky thanked her family and supporters and decried the decision to hold the election during the coronavirus outbreak.

“Look, we shouldn’t have had the election on Tuesday,” she said. “It was an untenable decision (on whether to vote), but the people of the state of Wisconsin rose up.

 

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 (April 13)

“April showers bring May flowers.” What’s the rhyme for “April snow…”? 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

 

Politico looks at how states around the country are confused about how to get medical supplies from the federal government. Colorado is now the canonical example for this new form of pork barrel politics:

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis was pleading with the federal government to send ventilators.

The state was starting to see hundreds of new coronavirus cases pop up each day, and Polis, a Democrat, worried that hospitals wouldn’t have enough life-saving ventilators to deal with the looming spike.

So he made an official request for ventilators through the Federal Emergency Management System, which is managing the effort. That went nowhere. He wrote to Vice President Mike Pence, leader of the White House’s coronavirus task force. That didn’t work. He tried to purchase supplies himself. The federal government swooped in and bought them.

Then, on Tuesday, five weeks after the state’s first coronavirus case, the state’s Republican Sen. Cory Gardner called President Donald Trump. The federal government sent 100 ventilators to Colorado the next day, but still only a fraction of what the state wanted.

Arizona Sen. Martha McSally, who is also one of the most endangered Republican Senators in the country, was also awarded with 100 ventilators by the federal government over the weekend. Meanwhile, states continue to struggle with getting and maintaining help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

 

The big story of the weekend was a stunning expose from The New York Times detailing exactly how the Trump administration failed to prepare for the coronavirus outbreak.

Via The New York Times (4/11/20)

Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — from top White House advisers to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action.

The president, though, was slow to absorb the scale of the risk and to act accordingly, focusing instead on controlling the message, protecting gains in the economy and batting away warnings from senior officials. It was a problem, he said, that had come out of nowhere and could not have been foreseen…

…Unfolding as it did in the wake of his impeachment by the House and in the midst of his Senate trial, Mr. Trump’s response was colored by his suspicion of and disdain for what he viewed as the “Deep State” — the very people in his government whose expertise and long experience might have guided him more quickly toward steps that would slow the virus, and likely save lives.

Chris Cillizza of CNN breaks down this incredibly damning story.

The President is not taking the criticism well, as you would expect, raging in every direction as he looks for people to blame who aren’t named Trump. There are growing concerns that Trump may be looking to oust Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of the nation’s foremost experts on coronavirus. #FireTrumpNotFauci was trending Monday on social media platforms.

 

Weld County now holds the top spot for the highest number of coronavirus-related deaths in Colorado. It can’t help that Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) keeps questioning the advice of health experts.

 

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

 

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GOP House Candidate: Get The Kids Sick!

GOP HD-61 candidate Kim McGahey.

Kim McGahey, former Summit County school board member and county GOP chairman now running for the Colorado House in HD-61, has got this whole coronavirus pandemic thing figured out! His drop-what-you’re-doing letter to the editor at the Summit Daily News, and we all know newspaper letters to the editor are the gold standard for peer-reviewed cutting edge science, lays it out:

I implore the town councils, county commissioners and Colorado governor to rescind the countywide and statewide lockdowns and allow, even encourage, low-risk COVID-19 people to return to work, open businesses and give our local and regional economies a fighting chance to resuscitate and not languish indefinitely in the current emotional and financial downward spiral. Surely, there must be a way to protect the high-risk group while not sacrificing our constitutional freedoms in the process. We must certainly protect the 3%, but a quarantine on the 97% is misguided over-reach.

According to experts, the low-risk demographics, which include most of Colorado’s population, would recover quickly or not show any symptoms after contracting the virus. The relatively small high-risk group (those older than 70 with underlying conditions like heart or lung ailments) should be excluded from the general population with all due precautions.

But the youthful majority should be allowed to return to work so that at some point 40% to 70% of that population will become naturally immune.

So to be clear, HD-61 GOP House candidate Kim McGahey is in real estate, not medicine. But he’s another textbook example of Republican armchair epidemiology, in good company from Rush Limbaugh’s “it’s the common cold” to Donald Trump’s “it’s a miracle drug.” McGahey read the Wikipedia article on herd immunity and suddenly the solution was obvious: we have to let the kids infect each other!

Dr. Peter Raich of Dillon, an actual doctor, responds to McGahey today:

The concepts expressed in the letter to the editor by Kim McGahey in the April 10 Summit Daily News are misleading and dangerous. Herd immunity does work for certain infectious diseases, primarily through effective immunization programs. When allowed to occur naturally (by allowing children to infect each other), it can also work, but at a high physical and mental cost, such as polio leading to much disability and measles leading to deaths, heart disease and deafness.

Trying to build herd immunity for infectious diseases such as COVID-19, SARS or MERS does not work for various reasons. [Pols emphasis] With a fatality rate of at least 10 times that of influenza, also including many nonelderly who become infected, letting such a disease infect the entire population at once is both irresponsible and dangerous…

The moral of the story: if you’re taking pandemic advice from the letters to the editor section of your local newspaper or your local Republican Party, or even worse both, please refine your own editorial standards.

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Get More Smarter on Good Friday (April 10)

Have a nice “Good Friday” and a Happy Easter. If we work together, maybe we can convince President Trump to pardon a turkey on Sunday. 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

 

► President Trump cherishes few things more than the opportunity to stand at a podium and see if he can construct new sentences out of mismatched words. But as The New York Times reports, an increasing number of Republican advisers are worried that Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings are doing far more harm than good — and not just for the country:

As unemployment soars and the death toll skyrockets, and new polls show support for the president’s handling of the crisis sagging, White House allies and Republican lawmakers increasingly believe the briefings are hurting the president more than helping him. Many view the sessions as a kind of original sin from which all of his missteps flow, once he gets through his prepared script and turns to his preferred style of extemporaneous bluster and invective.

Mr. Trump “sometimes drowns out his own message,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has become one of the president’s informal counselors and told him “a once-a-week show” could be more effective. Representative Susan Brooks of Indiana said “they’re going on too long.” Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia said the briefings were “going off the rails a little bit” and suggested that he should “let the health professionals guide where we’re going to go.”…

One of Mr. Trump’s top political advisers, speaking on the condition of anonymity so as not to anger the president, was even blunter, arguing that the White House was handing Mr. Biden ammunition each night by sending the president out to the cameras. [Pols emphasis]

Anybody who has watched even a snippet of one of Trump’s coronavirus briefings can understand these sentiments. Of course, Trump wouldn’t give up the opportunity to air his grievances on national television if the microphone was made entirely of coronavirus particles.

 

As The Denver Post reports, Colorado officials are urging residents and small businesses to act swiftly in order to collect federal stimulus money. Meanwhile, the Colorado Springs Independent points out that the federal government is bailing out on coronavirus testing in local areas:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has ended support for community COVID-19 testing sites effective April 10, leaving in doubt the future of the drive-up test site in Colorado Springs.

Dr. Leon Kelly, El Paso County coroner, said county Public Health is trying to find supplies and personnel to help run the testing site.

UCHealth, which established the site in a tent off South Parkside Drive, said Thursday it hopes to continue operating the site without FEMA support.

 

 Vox.com weighs in on the “ventilator patronage” story that broke in Colorado this week.

 

As The Washington Post reports, city and state governments are bracing for serious economic trouble:

The economic carnage unleashed by the novel coronavirus nationwide hasn’t just shuttered businesses and left more than 17 million Americans seeking unemployment benefits — it has also threatened city and state governments with financial devastation, according to local leaders, who say their ability to maintain roads, schools and basic social services is at risk at a time when their residents need help most.

Many states and cities, which were already cash-strapped, are now in dire straits, facing plunging tax revenue and spiking costs.

“I do think cities across the country are looking at some degree of austerity,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg (I), who predicts his municipality will face as much as a $100 million shortfall. “This is a reckoning for us.”

Colorado lawmakers are worried that the state budget could take a hit of some $3 billion.

 

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who will be the Democratic nominee for President, announced new policy proposals for expanding Medicare and forgiving student debt.

 

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

 

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