Get More Smarter on Thursday (January 16)

Happy “National Nothing Day.” We’re not sure if you are supposed to celebrate or not. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► And so it begins. From The Washington Post:

The historic impeachment trial of President Trump got underway Thursday with the arrival in the Senate of the seven House managers to formally present the two charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

John G. Roberts Jr., chief justice of the United States, is headed to the Senate later Thursday, where he is expected to be sworn in to preside over the trial focused on the president’s conduct toward Ukraine. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the trial will get underway “in earnest” next week.

Fallout also continued Thursday from new allegations by Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, that Trump knew of his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine that could benefit Trump politically. The impeachment charges — abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — center on the allegation that Trump withheld military aid and a White House meeting to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, including former vice president Joe Biden.

The Washington Post has more on the latest allegations from Lev Parnas that do not look good for President Trump.

 

► The Government Accountability Office says the Trump administration broke the law in attempting to restrict foreign aid to Ukraine. From the New York Times:

The Trump administration violated the law in withholding security assistance aid to Ukraine, a nonpartisan federal watchdog agency said on Thursday, weighing in on a decision by President Trump that is at the heart of the impeachment case against him.

The Government Accountability Office said the White House’s Office of Management and Budget violated the Impoundment Control Act when it withheld nearly $400 million for “a policy reason,” even though the funds had been allocated by Congress. The decision was directed by the president himself, and during the House impeachment inquiry, administration officials testified that they had raised concerns about its legality to no avail.

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the president to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the G.A.O. wrote. “The withholding was not a programmatic delay.”

“Trump did nothing wrong” was never a sustainable argument, but it has become downright silly now.

 

► Ahead of the Senate impeachment trial, all 100 U.S. Senators will take an “oath of impartiality” given by Chief Justice John Roberts that will go something like this:

Getty Images

 

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to run in terror from reporter questions about impeachment and President Trump, though late Wednesday he veered away from pretending to have not seen the articles of impeachment so that he could pay lip service to the idea of being “an impartial juror.” Meanwhile, it seems even some of the more unflappable Republican Senators are starting to snap under the pressure of trying to support a corrupt President:

 

► Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora) is getting lots of attention as one of the seven House impeachment “managers” appointed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday. You can read more from The Denver Post, The Colorado Sun/CBS4, Denver7, and Colorado Public Radio.

Elsewhere, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) played a part in the historic decision to transmit articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate.

 

 

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (January 15)

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

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The House of Representatives will vote today to send articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the announcement today and introduced the seven House Members who will serve as “impeachment managers.” One of them is Colorado’s own Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora).

The Washington Post breaks down how Crow ended up being among Pelosi’s chosen few:

The Democrat from Colorado is in his first term as Congress. Before Congress, he served as an Army Ranger, leading combat units in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was also partner in a law firm in Colorado. According to the Almanac of American Politics, he wasn’t a prosecutor, but he “conducted internal investigations nationwide, responded to emergency events and handled a wide-range of government inquiries.” He also represents the kind of district — a suburban one in a swing state — that Democrats will need to hold onto in November to keep their majorities.

He is the only manager who does not sit on any of the impeachment inquiry committees, but he had a role in swaying Pelosi to authorize the impeachment inquiry. He was one of seven House freshmen with national security backgrounds who co-authored a Washington Post op-ed calling Trump’s actions on Ukraine impeachable, a move that signaled a significant momentum shift within the Democratic caucus. Pelosi announced the impeachment inquiry a day after that published.

Crow’s selection provides a stark contrast to the impeachment involvement of another key Colorado elected official: Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma). As Justin Wingerter writes for The Denver Post, Gardner just keeps ducking questions about President Trump:

Gardner’s office declined again Tuesday to answer questions from The Denver Post about whether he would support a motion to dismiss the two charges against Trump or vote to allow witnesses in a Senate trial that’s expected to begin next week. Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah have said they want to keep open the option of hearing from witnesses after opening arguments.

CBS reported Monday that the White House expects at least four Republicans will vote to call witnesses in the Senate trial. That “possibly” includes Gardner, according to the report, though he has said nothing to indicate that he will. There are 53 Senate Republicans, and a simple majority of 51 votes will be needed to pass trial rules.

Silence has become the norm for Gardner on the topic of impeachment. His office previously declined to say whether witnesses should be called and whether he agrees with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “total coordination” with the White House.

The New York Times apparently wasn’t able to corner the squirrelly Senator, either:

In the Capitol on Tuesday, Mr. Gardner was making himself scarce. When Republicans wrapped up a luncheon featuring a discussion of trial procedure, he zipped out a back door and headed for a little-used elevator, avoiding a throng of waiting reporters.

“I’m sorry, he’s got to get going,” an aide to Mr. Gardner told a reporter who followed him, as the elevator doors opened and the senator slipped inside. Then Mr. Gardner jumped in, begging off any discussion of whether he could be the elusive fourth vote who could upend hopes of a quick acquittal of Mr. Trump.

 

► Evidence continues to mount against President Trump ahead of a Senate impeachment trial. As Jennifer Rubin writes for The Washington Post:

One can only imagine what evidence we have yet to see during the impeachment proceedings against President Trump. With each new tranche of evidence — including emails regarding the hold on military aid to Ukraine and now documents from Lev Parnas, an associate of Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani’s — the conclusion that Trump abused power and obstructed the investigation becomes incontrovertible…

…Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe tells me the new evidence is ” jaw-dropping” and “highly incriminating of both Giuliani and Trump.”

 

► Candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination met for another debate on Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa — just three weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses. Who won and who lost the big debate? Here are a few takes from The Washington Post, CNN, Politico, The New York Times, and The Des Moines Register.

 

► Today is the deadline for open enrollment for health care coverage through Connect for Health Colorado.

 

 

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Happening: A Bipartisan End To The Death Penalty

Lethal injection chamber.

Denver7’s Blair Miller reports:

Colorado lawmakers on Tuesday introduced their much-anticipated bill to repeal the state’s death penalty – the sixth time such a bill has been introduced in recent years.

SB20-100 , if passed as introduced , would take the death penalty off the table as an option for prosecutors when they take a class 1 felony case to trial – but that would only apply to suspected criminals charged by prosecutors after July 1, 2020…

…[T]his year’s measure also has Republican sponsors and cosponsors, which could help push it over the edge in the Senate, where Democrats hold a 19-16 majority but are expected to see one senator go on maternity leave soon and another seat have to be filled in the wake of the retirement of Sen. Lois Court. The measure is almost certain to pass the Democrat-heavy House.

Democrats looking to repeal Colorado’s death penalty have long had a friend in Sen. Kevin Priola, a Catholic whose opposition to the death penalty for years was the lone exception to a wall of Republican support. This year, two additional Republicans, Sens. Jack Tate and Owen Hill, have padded the margin needed to get the bill out of the Senate and on to Gov. Jared Polis’ waiting desk.

Previous attempts to legislative repeal the capital punishment in Colorado have failed for different reasons. In 2013, an historic progressive legislative session encountered fierce Republican backlash which ultimately led to recalls against Democratic Senators, and at least partly because Democrats had achieved so much that year, it was determined politically necessary to hold off. In 2019, the dissent of one Democrat, Sen. Rhonda Fields of Aurora, resulted in a standoff in the upper chamber that ended when sponsors pulled the bill late in the session.

Although repeal of the death penalty for future cases seems assured this year with this new infusion of bipartisan support, a word of respect for Sen. Fields is called for as this long struggle heads for its inevitable conclusion. Two the three men currently on death row in this state are there for the murder of Sen. Fields’ son in 2005. We of course have not been party to every discussion about this legislation, but it’s been suggested that Sen. Fields has been treated insensitively by some of her colleagues over the years for her difference of opinion on the issue–a difference that no one can fault Sen. Fields for having after her own tragic experience.

The decline of capital punishment is nevertheless a global trend, and increasingly the choice of Americans in recent years as the cost, process, and stigma of judicially sanctioned killing has combined to make it basically unworkable. Colorado’s move to end capital punishment is mostly symbolic given the extreme rarity of its application, but it’s also consistent with the growing consensus that it’s not appropriate as a society to kill people.

And it looks like 2020 is the year it’s going to happen.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 14)

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

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The House of Representatives will vote on Wednesday on the issue of sending articles of impeachment to the U.S. Senate in advance of a Senate trial on President Trump’s misconduct. Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, says he still opposes the idea of calling witnesses in a trial — yeah, read that sentence again — as word leaks that some Republican Senators might support such an idea. From The Hill newspaper:

McConnell on Tuesday knocked talk of calling additional impeachment witnesses, arguing that Democrats want the Senate to go “fishing” during the soon-to-start impeachment trial.

“If the existing case is strong, there’s no need for the judge and the jury to reopen the investigation. If the existing case is weak, House Democrats should not have impeached in the first place,” McConnell said from the Senate floor…

…A small number have suggested they are open to calling witnesses midtrial, but they’re getting public pushback from their conservative colleagues, who warn that if Republicans support calling former national security adviser John Boltonthey also have to support calling witnesses Trump might want such as Hunter Biden or the whistleblower at the center of the House impeachment inquiry.

Democrats are planning to force votes on calling four witnesses, including Bolton and acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. They need four GOP senators to successfully call a witness.

CBS News reported late Monday that Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) might be among those Republican Senators who are supportive of calling witnesses in a Senate trial — though the odds are long that Gardner will do anything other than whatever McConnell tells him to do. A recent poll from Quinnipiac University found that 66% of Americans support the idea of witness testimony from former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

Elsewhere, James Hohmann of The Washington Post ponders 10 questions now that the House is poised to send impeachment articles to the Senate.

 

► A Republican group called “The Lincoln Project” absolutely blasted Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) with a new advertisement on Monday. A subsequent “Truth Test” from 9News was equally brutal.

Says 9News anchor/reporter Kyle Clark: “Calling Senator Gardner a weak, impotent, small man? Let’s assume they’re speaking figuratively, and label that opinion.”


► Candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination (most of them, anyway) will debate once again tonight in Des Moines, Iowa — just three weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Weak, Frightened, and Impotent

The Get More Smarter Podcast drops its 25th episode with a look at a killer new (Republican-led) advertisement against Sen. Cory Gardner; the Trump administration makes Iran foreign policy more problematic for Colorado Republicans; and we preview the first full week of the Colorado legislative session with another discussion featuring House Majority Leader Alec Garnett.

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

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Colorado’s Newest GOP Lawmaker Loves Him Some Cosplay

UPDATE: It’s worth noting that President Trump retweeted the image at right to his many followers this morning. As Chris Cillizza writes for CNN:

Unless you are deeply obtuse, you get the point: Donald Trump is suggesting — to his nearly 71 million followers — that the two top Democrats in Congress are in league somehow with the Iranian regime. Presumably, Trump believes that to be the case because both Pelosi and Schumer have pushed for the administration to offer more detailed information about the supposed “imminent” threat posed by Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani which led to the US military’s killing of him by drone strike earlier this month.

There’s actually one thing wrong with that sentence above. I wrote “Trump believes” that Schumer and Pelosi are in league with the Iranians. That’s almost certainly wrong. What Trump believes is that sharing a doctored image of these two Democrats he will throw red meat to his base, who will eat it up. That it will play into his base’s twin dislikes (or at a minimum distrusts) of a) congressional Democrats and b) Muslims. (Remember that Trump ran openly in 2016 on the idea that Muslims were a violent people who hated America — and that he was the only politician willing to tell the truth about the threat they posed.)

As Greg Sargent notes for The Washington Post, the White House also weighed in on Trump’s Tweet:

After President Trump retweeted a doctored image of Democratic leaders dressed in Islamic garb, the White House offered a curious justification: Trump retweeted that image to send the message that Democrats are on the side of terrorists.

This was apparently intended as a defense.

Which would appear to mean the White House’s official message is now that depictions of Democrats in Muslim garb denote Democratic support for terrorists.

With this in mind, the pictures of Republican Rep. Richard Holtorf (below) will really bake Trump’s noodle.

—–

A photo from origins unknown was forwarded to us, apparently depicting newly-appointed GOP Rep. Richard Holtorf of rural House District 64 in what can be best described as…well, culturally appropriative clothing–photos that were reportedly deleted or hidden from public view recently on Holtorf’s Facebook page:

Now before anyone gets carried away, we’re inclined to give Rep. Holtorf the benefit of the doubt that he is not some kind of closet Muslim “Manchurian candidate” working his way up the ladder of American politics to carry out his sinister sultanic deed. With that said, we’re obliged to recall that when a photo surfaced of former President Barack Obama similarly wearing Islamic-world clothes for a wedding years before his political career began, it instantly became part of the apocryphal body of “evidence” that Obama was a Trojan horse for Mecca.

We’ll leave it to Rep. Holtorf to explain this interesting bit of khaffiyeh cosplay, which we suspect was not meant to offend although it’s always better to be sensitive as a white dude to matters of cultural appropriation (here’s looking at you, Justin Trudeau). And of course, we can’t be held responsible for any misunderstandings with fellow Republicans.

Like President Obama, right? Or maybe there’s, you know, a difference.

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Colo Lawmaker Introduces Anti-Vaccination Bill in Name of Consumer Protection

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This article, which originally appeared in the Colorado Times Recorder, was written by Noah Zucker.

After Tuesday’s vaccine-oriented rally in front of the Colorado State Capitol, a few parents and some of their school-age children filled a committee room in the ornate building’s basement for a town-hall meeting, organized by state Rep. Dave Williams (R-Colorado Springs), to discuss his proposed legislation, called the Vaccine Consumer Protection bill.


Many at Tuesday’s rally held anti-vaccine signs

“If families believe that [vaccination is] a benefit to them, then so be it – take it on yourself,” Williams said, summarizing his bill, which has yet to be released. “But if there are parents and families that know of vaccine injuries that have occurred and they don’t want to have that risk, then that’s fine, too.”

Williams said the proposed legislation would require health care providers to give information about vaccines to patients when requested and report adverse vaccine-related events.

He added that the bill would outlaw government discrimination against those on delayed vaccine schedules or those who outright refuse vaccination.

While the World Health Organization (WHO) does acknowledge there have been some rare cases of adverse side effects associated with vaccines, its page on common vaccine misconceptions completely dispels the idea that vaccine-related health issues are at all common or widespread.

With respect to risks of not vaccinating, Colorado has one of the lowest immunization rates in the country, with only 87 percent of the state’s kindergarteners having received the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine during the last school year. A vaccination rate of 90 to 95 percent is required to achieve herd immunity, meaning that enough of the population is immune in order to prevent the spread of the disease, particularly among those who are unable to receive certain immunizations, like infants.

RELATED: Republican Lawmakers to Host Anti-Vaccination Summit at Colorado Capitol

(more…)

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Get More Smarter on Friday (January 10)

The First Son-in-Law is 38 years old today. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The House of Representatives voted on Thursday to limit President Trump’s ability to take unilateral military action without Congressional approval. As CNN reports:

The vote was 224-194. Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Francis Rooney of Florida crossed party lines to vote in favor while Democratic Reps. Max Rose of New York, Ben McAdams of Utah, Anthony Brindisi of New York, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Elaine Luria of Virginia, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma and Stephanie Murphy of Florida voted against the resolution.

Now that the resolution has passed the House it will next go to the Senate.

Freshman Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, a former CIA analyst and senior Defense Department official, is the sponsor of the resolution, which calls on the President “to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran” unless Congress declares war or enacts “specific statutory authorization” for the use of armed forces.

You read that correctly — Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz voted IN FAVOR of the resolution.

Of course, the Senate is where all good things go to die; it is unlikely that Senate Majority Leader “Moscow” Mitch McConnell will even entertain a vote on the matter if he can avoid it. Some Republican Senators have expressed support for a “War Powers Resolution” after a disastrous White House briefing on Iran earlier this week.

Meanwhile, President Trump may have decided to kill Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani to perhaps appease Republican Senators whose support he needs in a coming impeachment trial.

 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says her chamber may send impeachment documents over to the U.S. Senate as soon as next week. From the New York Times:

In a letter to colleagues Friday morning, the speaker moved to end a weekslong impasse over the impeachment process that had left the president’s fate in limbo. She did not announce the members of the team she will ask to manage the case, but said the House should be ready to vote to appoint them sometime next week.

“I have asked Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler to be prepared to bring to the floor next week a resolution to appoint managers and transmit articles of impeachment to the Senate,” Ms. Pelosi wrote after lawmakers departed the Capitol for the weekend. “I will be consulting with you at our Tuesday House Democratic Caucus meeting on how we proceed further.”

Once the House votes and the articles are transmitted, the Senate’s proceeding, only the third impeachment trial of a sitting president in American history, will begin promptly — as soon as Wednesday based on Ms. Pelosi’s timeline.

 

► If you thought that Republican lawmakers in Colorado might be more reluctant to embrace their lunatic right-wing base after last year’s string of recall failures…well, we know you probably didn’t think that. The GOP still loves itself some lunatics.

Meanwhile, Colorado Republicans made it very clear during Thursday’s “State of the State” address that they have zero fucks to give about immigrants or refugees in Colorado.

For more on Gov. Polis’ “State of the State” speech, check this recap from The Denver Post or this annotated version of the entire speech via The Colorado Sun.

 

► Don’t miss the first 2020 episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an in-depth interview with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett.

 

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: More Smarter Legislating


In the first 2020 episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, we kick off the Colorado legislative session from the State Capitol with House Majority Leader Alec Garnett. We also discuss Iran and impeachment (and how Sen. Cory Gardner is screwed on both), and Rep. Garnett faces off against Ian Silverii in the world’s best worst game, “Duke or Donald.” 

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

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Colorado May Stand with Immigrants, But Republicans Do Not

Republican lawmakers remain seated after Gov. Jared Polis says that Colorado supports immigrants and refugees.

Governor Jared Polis (D-Boulder) today delivered his second “State of the State” address to an audience of Colorado lawmakers and elected officials.

Polis’ speech focused largely on health care issues and providing financial relief for Colorado families dealing with the high cost of health coverage and prescription drugs. Most of today’s “State of the State” remarks received bipartisan applause, but Republican legislators were noticeably stingy with recognition when Polis briefly touched on the importance of supporting immigrant and refugee families in Colorado. Said Polis:

…In the face of unprecedented hostility from this White House toward our immigrant communities, we can say loudly and proudly that in Colorado, we stand with DREAMers and with refugees.

Most of the room stood and applauded after this line, but as you can see from the video below, Republicans quietly sat on their hands instead. It was not a good look…

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House GOP Leadership Welcomes Fringe, Fascists To Capitol

Yesterday’s Opening Day rally at the Colorado legislature featured a motley crew of color-coded far-right activists (we are not making up the color-coded thing), sounding off on a range of issues from opposition to childhood vaccination to the state’s new “red flag” law to protect the public from preventable gun violence–and a range of more bizarre issues in between like conspiracy theories about 5G cell phone service. Also in attendance were members of the Proud Boys, a neo-fascist “pro-Western civilization” group regularly involved in political street violence.

Here’s how 9NEWS’ Kyle Clark summarized the contrast between “the Republicans inside the building” and “the Republicans outside.”

We got a glimpse today of the difficult position that the minority Republicans are in when you compare their stated legislative priorities to what their supporters rally for on the capitol steps.

Republicans inside called for transportation funding.
Republicans outside carried anti-vaxxer signs.
Republican inside linked teacher performance with bonuses.
Republicans outside linked former President Obama and Hitler.
Republicans inside included a call for bipartisanship.
Republicans outside included the Proud Boys, recently featured in a 9 Wants To Know investigation on hate in our state.

So that is the trouble that looms ahead for the Republicans inside the state capitol. They have to answer to the Republicans outside.

The only thing we’re obliged to add is the photo collage at the top, courtesy the Colorado Times Recorder, which closes the loop in this discussion of the Republicans “inside the capitol” versus the right-wing protesters who turned out in force outside to vent their particular flavor of misguided rage. The protesters outside the capitol yesterday were eventually joined by a large contingent of elected Republican lawmakers–including House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, Rep. Dave Williams, Rep. Lori Saine “In The Membrane,” Rep. Susan Beckman, and a number of others.

That’s critical to understand. The Republicans inside the capitol went outside.

Once that happened, it was no longer possible–or necessary–to tell the “inside” and “outside” Republicans apart.

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Rep. Dave Williams, Facing Primary, Goes Hard “Anti-Vaxxer”

Rep. Dave Williams (R), with Congressman Steve King (R-IA).

We wanted to take note of a primary challenge reportedly brewing in Colorado House District 15, the infamously nut-tolerant Colorado Springs safe GOP seat once held by Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt and currently in the possession of Rep. Dave Williams. Williams, who trades on a charming amalgam of Latino heritage and virulent anti-immigrant demagoguery, has always had a less than firm grip on this seat on account of being generally an unpleasant individual–and now, GOP challenger Missy Ward is taking on Williams in a red-on-RMGO proxy war:

It took less than three days after filing to run for State House Representative of HD 15 for the threats from RMGO and their puppets to begin.

An elected official called to tell me that RMGO, Joe Neville and Jon Hotaling are already working their bully tactics against me.

This is exactly what I expected from this group of radical, women hating, abusers.

They SHOULD be threatened by a smart, independent woman and domestic abuse survivor like myself that refuses to be their pawn.

Today, Williams’ supporters were found spreading this message to attendees at the conservative protest rally outside the state capitol:

To the overwhelming majority of Americans who support vaccination and think the law should be much tougher in terms of requiring school-age kids to get their shots, being labeled “pro-vaxx” would be rightly considered a compliment. But it’s crucial to remember that in a GOP primary in a safe GOP seat, the sensibility of the majority counts for basically nothing. Rep. Williams has clearly determined that becoming the face of “anti-vaxxer” politics in Colorado is his ticket to political survival.

And as bad as that may be for the Republican brand outside those super-safe districts, he could be right.

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Crazies Of All Stripes Get Ready For Legislature’s Opening Day

WEDNESDAY UPDATE #2: It’s not a party until the Proud Boys show up with their boots on:

Now that elevates the discourse.

—–

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Via the Colorado Times Recorder, the Colorado Freedom Force Opening Day rally has begun at the state capitol with an estimated 200 protesters sounding off their color-coded conspiracies:

Stay sanitary out there.

—–

With the second regular session of the 72nd Colorado General Assembly kicking off tomorrow, the noisier segments of the local fringe-right are set to make their presence cringeworthily known! First up is another protest hosted by the always-entertaining Americhicks, featuring a cross-section of right wing activists spanning issues from guns to abortion to vaccine conspiracy theories.

There’s even a handy color code to help outsiders sort the freaks out:

Wait, there’s a conspiracy theory for 5G cell service? Yes, gentle readers–there is.

From there, the freakshow heads indoors for a “town hall meeting” with GOP Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs. Williams is apparently the House sponsor this year of something he calls the “Vaccine Consumer Protection Bill.” While school districts and local governments around the country are tightening their vaccination requirements in response to outbreaks of preventable diseases, Williams and the GOP “anti-vaxx caucus” want to go the other way:

For your health and convenience, hand sanitizer is conveniently located throughout the building.

Day 1 of 120, folks. We do not foresee it becoming any less kooky.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (January 7)

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

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► The Colorado legislature kicks off its 2020 session on Wednesday. Right-wing nutcases are descending on the State Capitol in preparation.

State Sen. Lois Court (D-Denver) will not be joining her colleagues in the Senate chambers. Court announced on Monday that she was resigning her seat after being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease known as Guillain-Barré syndrome. From The Denver Post:

Court will step down Jan. 16, and her job will be filled by a Senate District 31 vacancy committee, the caucus said. Court’s seat is up for election this year, and she previously said she would not seek another term.

State Rep. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, declared in October that he’d run for the seat, but he says now that he’ll seek appointment to the seat via the vacancy committee. Another announced candidate for Court’s seat, Maria Orms, also plans to seek appointment via the committee. If Hansen is tabbed to replace Court in the Senate, another committee would have to meet to fill his House seat.

Elsewhere in pre-session preparation news, House Democrats announced new committee assignments and Republicans say they want to focus on transportation funding legislation. The Colorado Sun previews the session with a Top 10 list.

 

As CNBC reports, there is still much confusion about whether or not the United States has agreed to withdraw military forces from Iraq:

Iraq’s Prime Minister said that the U.S. military sent a letter regarding American troop withdrawal from the country, Reuters reported on Tuesday, further deepening confusion over plans for troops in the region.

It’s the latest in a messy string of events sparked by a U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s top general.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said that his country received an English and Arabic version of the letter but that they were not identical. Therefore, Iraq requested clarifications on U.S. plans.

The news comes on the heels of the Pentagon’s admission that the letter informing Iraq’s Defense Ministry that U.S.-led coalition troops would leave Iraq “was a mistake.”

This headline from New York Magazine sums up the entire mess nicely:

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) continues to avoid talking about pretty much anything. We recapped the last three months in the world of #NoCommentCory. As Megan Verlee of Colorado Public Radio notes, reporters have caught on to Gardner’s persistent obfuscation.

Meanwhile, Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo says that Gardner’s silence on impeachment is precisely the reason journalists should keep asking him questions:

Take Cory Gardner. Is he going to come out for a real trial? Probably not. But he’s hiding in the background now because he wants to be able to present himself as independent-minded and moderate next November. It’s folly to give him that chance. Democrats should be focusing on him nonstop, making clear in Colorado and nationally that it really is all up to him. It’s not about some vague thing called Republicans or the Senate GOP caucus. It’s about him. He could change the equation himself, very quickly.

As Politico reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is preparing to move ahead on setting rules for an impeachment trial without the input of Senate Democrats.

 

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Get More Smarter on Monday (January 6)

Welcome back to your desk. There’s a lot happening with the holiday season in our rear-view mirrors, so 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.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Former National Security Adviser John Bolton announced today that he would agree to testify in front of the U.S. Senate on matters of impeachment if called as a witness. Aaron Blake of The Washington Post explains why this is such a big development:

Bolton is among the most potentially significant witnesses who have yet to testify about the Ukraine scandal. He was perhaps the highest-profile voice of dissent internally, objecting to the “drug deal” that he said Rudolph W. Giuliani was cooking up, according to testimony from Fiona Hill, the White House’s former top Russia adviser. Bolton’s attorney has also said that, as of early November, Bolton knew about “many relevant meetings” that hadn’t been testified to. Sources tell The Washington Post that the testimony would be damaging to Trump. [Pols emphasis]

It is not clear if the Senate will actually move forward with a true impeachment trial of President Trump that includes high-profile witnesses, but Bolton’s signal that he is open to testifying could open the door for him to be called as a witness in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. Chris Cillizza of CNN says that Bolton’s statement today puts new pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

 

The U.S. Senate is reconvening today after a couple weeks off, and the topic of an impeachment trial is still at the top of the to-do list. As Justin Wingerter reports for The Denver Post, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) remains as tight-lipped as ever:

Gardner’s every move is being closely watched as calendars flip to 2020, a year that will decide his political future. And in the Senate, where impeachment rules will require a simple majority vote, he can play the role of decider within the narrow Senate Republican majority. But he and his office have not answered questions about his impeachment preferences.

Gardner’s silence dates back months. His public appearances, never numerous in 2019, were rarer still this fall. He has avoided conservative talk radio, once a political safe space, along with most news media. His office agreed to arrange an interview with The Denver Post in Washington, D.C., during the House impeachment process, but later said he was unavailable and instead emailed a statement criticizing that process.

 

 President Trump is reiterating threats to attack Iranian sites of cultural significance amid growing concerns about a potential war with Iran. As NBC News reports:

President Donald Trump dug in Sunday night on his threat to attack Iranian cultural sites if Tehran retaliates for the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani, one of Iran’s top military and intelligence officials.

Speaking aboard Air Force One on his return to Washington on Sunday from a holiday at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Trump said: “They’re allowed to kill our people. They’re allowed to torture and maim our people. They’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people. And we’re not allowed to touch their cultural sites. It doesn’t work that way.”

Trump was responding to backlash over the threat he made via Twitter on Saturday to attack 52 targets if Iran retaliates and his claim in a tweet that those targets would be “at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture,” according to a pool report.

Asked about fears Iran might retaliate, the president told reporters: “If it happens, it happens. If they do anything, there will be major retaliation.”

Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to introduce a war powers resolution in Congress intended to make sure that President Trump does not increase military hostilities with Iran without Congressional approval.

Colorado Public Radio queries Colorado’s Congressional delegation on the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Bold Predictions for 2020

This is it: The final episode of 2019 for The Get More Smarter Podcast. To close out the year, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii discuss the most important Colorado political stories of 2019 and look ahead to 2020 with some bold predictions. Will Democrats take control of the U.S. Senate in 2020? Can Sen. Cory Gardner win re-election? Which one of Colorado’s seven Congressional seats could flip next year? 

And for the first time, Jason plays America’s worst favorite game, “Duke or Donald.” Ian is the current record-holder in the game that nobody really wins, but can Jason take the title in the last episode of 2019?

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify, and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter @MoreSmarterShow. If you have a question or comment, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.

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The Get More Smarter Podcast: Governor Jared Polis

Jason Bane (left) and Gov. Jared Polis

This week on the Get More Smarter Podcast, hosts Jason Bane and Ian Silverii sit down with Gov. Jared Polis to talk about how state government can be more nimble than its federal counterpart; the upcoming legislative battle over a health care public option; and why Colorado can win the great green chile battle. 

Later in the show, Jason and Ian discuss next steps on impeachment; Rep. Ken Buck’s congressional truancy; and President Trump’s claim that he’ll be visiting Colorado “a lot” in the near future.

The Get More Smarter Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Buzzcloud, Spotify,
and Overcast. You can also follow the Podcast on Twitter (@MoreSmarterShow) and Facebook. For questions or comments, hit us up at AngryRants@GetMoreSmarter.com.

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So You “Won’t Comply” With The Red Flag Law, Will You?

This Saturday on the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol, a “We Will Not Comply” rally is scheduled to be hosted by pro-gun activists and Rep. Shane Sandridge of Colorado Springs, “to stand against Colorado’s dangerous & unconstitutional RED FLAG LAW (emphasis theirs) before it goes into effect January 2020.” Pro-gun rallies at the state capitol are common enough (and sparsely-attended enough) that they generally don’t warrant a mention, but with the new extreme risk protection order (ERPO) or “red flag” law set to take effect in Colorado at the beginning of January, Saturday’s rally does have some added significance.

Notably, the event does not have listed as any of its scheduled speakers as of this writing one of the state’s elected county sheriffs who have controversially declared their intent to ignore the ERPO law when it takes effect next month, which could expose those officials to sanctions including contempt of court in addition to allowing potentially disastrous public safety risks with both political and human costs. Colorado is not the only state with a red flag law, but the open defiance of a few local officials here has been a distinguishing feature of the debate.

And that got us to thinking: what exactly does it mean for individual citizens to declare they “will not comply” with the ERPO law? Does this mean they would not utilize the law to prevent a family member from harming themselves? Does it mean they would they not surrender their own guns if ordered to do so via an ERPO? Are they suggesting persons subject to an ERPO should…resist? The legal questions and liabilities are different from those faced by law enforcement, but with the ERPO law about to take effect it’s time to have a sober conversation about what this kind of rhetoric actually translates to in the real world.

Because in a few weeks this law, supported overwhelmingly by the public in every poll, is going to be real.

We predict that a good deal of the rhetoric against the law in the past year will not age well.

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Steve Reams Gets His Border Photo-Op On

It’s a rite of passage for Colorado Republicans aspiring to higher office to take a trip to the Mexican border (needless to say, well outside their jurisdiction) for the purpose of demonstrating their commitment to “stopping the invasion.” Back in 2010, a group of Republican state lawmakers made a now-infamous trip to Arizona hosted by SPLC-listed hate group American Border Patrol to study the impact of that state’s anti-immigrant law Senate Bill 1070, which was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court:

From left: 2010 House candidate (now Senate Minority Leader) Chris Holbert, then-Rep. Kent Lambert, Sen. Scott Renfroe, then-Rep. Laura Bradford, 2010 House candidate Janak Joshi, then-Rep. Randy Baumgardner.

Senator Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Parker)

The 2010 visit to Arizona in particular raised eyebrows due to the contact by Colorado Republican lawmakers with decidedly non-governmental militia groups and anti-immigrant activists. Lawmakers “toured” the border with the so-called “American Border Patrol” openly carrying weapons and playing with night vision equipment (photo right).

In 2014, Republican lawmakers paid another visit to the Texas border, but this time SB-1070 had been repealed and lawmakers confined their visit to official Border Patrol and other agencies. Ironically there seem to have been fewer trips of this kind to the border by Colorado Republicans since Donald Trump took office, or in any event less publicized. We assume that’s because it’s mostly Democrats heading to the border now documenting a humanitarian crisis.

With that said, Trump’s border wall remains very popular with base conservative Republican voters, the exact segment of the electorate the upwardly mobile Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams hopes to rally to victory in a future election for higher office. Reams is promising a big reveal on his Facebook page from his time on the border last week, and even though Weld County is 700 miles from the nearest Mexican border he’ll no doubt rivet his target audience with tales of intrigue and danger and steel slats.

As the most visible of the state’s elected politician-sheriffs, it’s been clear for some time now that Reams has higher ambitions–whether the legislature, the on-again off-again list to succeed Rep. Ken Buck in CD-4, or another more overtly political role than sheriff. We’re not as confident how he’ll fare once he gets there, but the border photo op checks off a telltale box.

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Controversial Former GOP Lawmaker, Judy Reyher, Runs Again for Pueblo House Seat

(For Democrats, the gift that keeps on giving – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

After losing a bitter primary race to fellow Republican Don Bendell last year, former Colo state House Rep. Judy Reyher has thrown her hat into the contest to displace Democrat Bri Buentello, who defeated Bendell in a close race last November.

“You all remember when I posted a few months ago I was stepping away from politics to do something else,” wrote Reyher on Facebook this week, stating that she’d “officially filed” her paperwork to enter the race for the Pueblo-area House seat. “I can tell you it broke my heart to post that sentiment. Should have known better.”

Reyher thanked “Republican House leaders” and others for “all of the approval and confidence I have received.”

Bendell challenged Reyher in the GOP primary in 2018 for the seat, in part because of, as he put it, “mistakes” she’d made.

Asked at the time why he was challenging Reyher, Bendell said: “I had been asked by a few people privately to get involved because they felt like there had been a few mistakes made that are going to be used by the Democrats against us,” Bendell said. “And we can’t lose that seat. And they felt like I would have a better chance to beat the liberal they are running from Pueblo in the general election.”

Reyher’s “mistakes” apparently included Facebook posts, which were first spotlighted by the Colorado Times Recorder, with comments such as, black people are “hatred filled beings.”

Reyer said, after losing the primary to Bendell, that Bendell couldn’t win the general election, due to allegations from his children that Bendell failed to pay child support for 17 years.

Reyher was appointed to the Legislature in 2017 amid a cloud of controversy, narrowly beating GOP activist Tamra Axworthy in a vote by members of a GOP vacancy committee.

The seat had become vacant in 2017 after former State Rep. Clarice Navarro (R-Pueblo) resigned to join the Trump Administration.

Reyher, who did not immediately return a call for comment, lost to Bendell the following year.

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Clock Ticks Down To “Red Flag” Law Taking Effect

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams (R-MGO).

Reporter Alex Zorn via the Grand Junction Sentinel:

With a little more than a month to go before new gun laws take effect in Colorado, law enforcement agencies locally and across the state are finalizing their approaches to enforcing legislation that some of them opposed as it was being drafted.

The extreme risk protection order (ERPO), also known as red flag laws, passed in this year’s Democrat-controlled Legislature. The measure, HB1177, allows law enforcement or family members of troubled gun owners to petition a judge to have those weapons removed under extreme circumstances, but only if the gun owner is deemed a risk to themselves or others.

Several county officials across the state, including some on the Western Slope, spoke against the bill as it was being debated. Some counties went so far as declaring themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries,” such as Weld County.

Zorn reports that Mesa County Sheriff Matt Lewis, who joined with most of Colorado’s elected county sheriffs (with a notable exception in Douglas County) in opposing the state’s new “red flag” law, is still planning on enforcing the law when it takes effect with the new year. All law enforcement agencies in Colorado are required to have procedures in place to handle ERPO cases by December 31st.

As we’ve discussed a few times in this space since the passage of House Bill 19-1177, a long wait for the first ERPO case in Colorado is not expected. Intervention in impending firearm suicides is expected to be a more common occurrence than threats to the public, and in both types of cases family and household members petitioning the courts for an ERPO will start showing up quickly.

Once that happens, the law enforcement agencies who have declared that they will not enforce the ERPO law, most prominently Weld County under Rocky Mountain Gun Owners-owned Sheriff Steve Reams, are going to face a crisis. Attorney General Phil Weiser has stated that sheriffs who refuse to enforce the law face contempt of court proceedings and potentially being jailed. We believe that the moral crisis that would arise from such a refusal to enforce the law resulting in preventable death is a much more proximal concern politically, which is a nice way of saying that an elected county sheriff who lets someone die rather than enforce this law will face strong pressure to resign in disgrace and never run for public office again.

Unfortunately, it’s a question of how many preventable deaths will be necessary to convince our state’s elected politician-sheriffs to do their jobs.

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‘No-Pants’ Pastor Seulean Re-enters State House Race, Says His Party Bullied Him to Drop Out

(Modest Culottes! — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Cory Gardner, Corey Seulean.

Ultra-conservative Longmont Pastor Corey Seulean, who believes women shouldn’t wear pants, has decided to re-enter the House District 63 race after dropping out in September.

In a video announcement on his Facebook page, Seulean harshly criticized “a handful of powerful elites” in his own party who he claims bullied him into dropping out of the race, saying he “did so against [his] will and better judgment.” He blamed the attacks on “the Christian conservative base of the Republican Party.”

Seulean claimed that a “sitting politician” – whom he did not name – told him he was simply a “placeholder,” and that he needed to “be a team player” and “get out of the way” for a better candidate.

That candidate appears to be former state legislator Pat Miller, who announced her candidacy just days before Seulean dropped out. Miller won the endorsement of current HD63 representative Lori Saine, who’s term-limited.

“It is not just the Democrats who are corrupt,” Seulean said. “There are many in our own party as well.”

Despite his harsh criticism of the “mafia mentality” of those who pressured him to step down, however, Seulean pledged to “run a clean campaign” and urged his party to unite against what he views as the real enemy:

“Our enemy is the liberal, socialist, radical Democrats who want to destroy our state, tear up our constitution, make Colorado be like California, strip us of our God-given inalienable rights, kill our babies, take away our national voice in the presidential election, turn us into a sanctuary state and destroy our economy by crippling our oil and natural gas industry.”

If elected, Seulean said he’d “bring God back to our state politics.”

Seulean made national headlines following the Colorado Times Recorder’s reporting on his belief that it’s immodest for women to wear pants, and that they should instead wear either skirts or “modest culottes.” He dropped out of the race a month later, on Sept. 20.

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Angela Williams May Have Gambled and Lost

State Sen. Angela Williams (D-Denver)

If you were the betting type, you wouldn’t likely put a lot of money on the likelihood that State Senator Angela Williams (D-Denver) will be the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in June 2020. Williams entered the race for U.S. Senate in July with a sketchy announcement video and little fanfare; after four months as a candidate, she has less than $50,000 in the bank and no conceivable path toward the Democratic nomination.

When Williams entered the U.S. Senate race, she left the door open for a potential return to the state legislature (she actually filed paperwork for her 2020 re-election campaign to the State Senate shortly after winning election in 2016). But as political reporter Ernest Luning explained in a Tweet today, that door “appears to be swinging shut.”

Last week, state Rep. James Coleman (D-Denver) made it clear that he wasn’t waiting for Williams to re-focus her attention on her state senate district in announcing that he would be running for SD-33. Coleman quickly amassed a number of significant endorsements from Democratic lawmakers, including House Speaker K.C. Becker, Rep. Janet Buckner, and state Senators Jeff Bridges, Jessie Danielson, and Kerry Donovan.

Had Williams been focusing on running for re-election in 2020, it would have been difficult for Coleman to have gained much traction in a Democratic Primary challenge. In fact, Coleman probably wouldn’t have even made a State Senate bid in 2020. Coleman won a Democratic primary to succeed Williams in HD-7 in 2016, which means he could have sought re-election in the State House until Williams was term-limited in 2024.

Williams said last week that she thought she could wait until March 2020 to make a decision on staying in the U.S. Senate race or running for re-election in SD-33, but that seems like wishful thinking with Coleman gathering so much early support. If Williams is serious about winning a second term in the State Senate, she can’t spend the next 3-4 months flailing away at a U.S. Senate bid.

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Welcome Back, Ex-Rep. Judy Reyher!

Filed earlier this month, and the word we’re hearing is it’s for real:

Ex-Rep. Judy Reyher (R).

Readers will remember former Rep. Judy Reyher of House District 47, who was appointed to replace Clarice Navarro following Navarro’s patronage Trump administration appointment in return for campaigning as hard for Donald Trump in 2016 as she did for her own re-election. Rep. Reyher’s appointment to HD-47 quickly became a major embarrassment for the Colorado Republican Party after her extensive social media history of nasty-trending-wacky racist and other objectionable content was reported by statewide media. Responding to the Denver Post, Reyher attempted to defend herself by saying she “hated the black half of Obama as much as” she “hated the white half”–which to Reyher’s surprise did not make things better.

Reyher’s unsavory introduction to public service and ongoing foibles in the House led to a successful primary challenge in 2018 by Don Bendell, whose candidacy for HD-47 itself imploded when Bendell’s estranged children publicly accused him of shirking his child support obligations. Democratic Rep. Bri Buentello was the end result of this ill-fated attempt at red-on-red political euthanasia, but Bendell’s self-destruction has reportedly given Reyher’s brief career a new lease on life among area Republicans.

We’d say Buentello should be fine with that. Like Napoleon said, never get in the way of your opponent’s mistake.

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