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May 15, 2018 09:00 AM UTC

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 15)

  • by: Colorado Pols

At least your employer isn’t telling reporters that you haven’t really retired yet. 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 a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.



► Today is Election Day in four states looking to pick their nominees for key November races. Voters in Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon, and Pennsylvania head to the polls today. Pennsylvania is one of the more interesting states to watch today because candidates for Congress are running for nominations in newly-drawn districts; this includes the return of Republican Rick Saccone, who lost a Special Election earlier this spring to Democrat Conor Lamb and is now running in a new district.


► Students are back in school after teachers in Pueblo agreed to a new two-year contract.


► President Trump’s pick to be the next Director of the CIA is taking a stronger position opposing torture, as CNN reports:

Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next CIA director, says in a new letter that the CIA should not have conducted then-President George W. Bush’s interrogation and detention program where waterboarding and other brutal interrogation tactics were used on detainees.

In the letter to Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Haspel takes a position she wasn’t willing to state publicly last week, writing that the interrogation program “is not one the CIA should have undertaken.”

“While I won’t condemn those that made these hard calls, and I have noted the valuable intelligence collected, the program ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world,” Haspel wrote in the letter, which was obtained by CNN. “With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken.”

Haspel’s written comments go further than the statements she made during her public confirmation hearing last week. At the hearing, she said she would not permit the CIA to resume an interrogation program, but she also would not condemn the CIA’s post-9/11 interrogation program beyond saying she supported the “stricter moral standard” that is now the law.


► Some of President Trump’s staunchest 2016 supporters are expressing a growing frustration that they were bamboozled. From the Washington Post:

Small business owners who voted for Trump might be forced to shut down because the president is making it harder for them to hire guest workers. Here’s a story that appeared over the weekend in the Herald Leader of Lexington, Ky.:

“Eddie Devine voted for [Trump] because he thought he would be good for American business. Now, he says, the Trump administration’s restrictions on seasonal foreign labor may put him out of business. ‘I feel like I’ve been tricked by the devil,’ said Devine, owner of … Devine Creations Landscaping. ‘I feel so stupid.’ Devine says it has been years since he could find enough dependable, drug-free American workers for his $12-an-hour jobs mowing and tending landscapes for cemeteries, shopping centers and apartment complexes across Central Kentucky. So for years he has hired 20 seasonal workers, mostly from Guatemala, through the U.S. Labor Department’s H2-B ‘guest worker’ program. Importing these workers for a few months cost him an additional $18,000 in fees and expenses beyond their wages, which must be the same as he pays American workers. But that’s the only way he could serve his customers.

“Restrictions on guest-worker visas, which began during President Barack Obama’s second term as immigration became a hot issue for conservatives, have gotten worse under Trump. And it’s even more of a problem now that the unemployment rate is the lowest it has been in years. Devine says he lost a $100,000 account because he didn’t have enough men to do the job.


► Politico reports on another big scandal brewing from the Environmental Protection Agency:

Scott Pruitt’s EPA and the White House sought to block publication of a federal health study on a nationwide water-contamination crisis, after one Trump administration aide warned it would cause a “public relations nightmare,” newly disclosed emails reveal.

The intervention early this year — not previously disclosed — came as HHS’ Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry was preparing to publish its assessment of a class of toxic chemicals that has contaminated water supplies near military bases, chemical plants and other sites from New York to Michigan to West Virginia.

The study would show that the chemicals endanger human health at a far lower level than EPA has previously called safe, according to the emails.

“The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge,” one unidentified White House aide said in an email forwarded on Jan. 30 by James Herz, a political appointee who oversees environmental issues at the OMB. The email added: “The impact to EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful. We (DoD and EPA) cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be.”


Get even more smarter after the jump…



►Right-wing provocateur James O’Keefe has been prowling around Colorado.


► The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that states can decide on their own whether or not to legalize sports betting. Denver7 ponders whether Colorado will be among the states to eventually seek entry into the sports wagering marketplace.


► Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill cruised to victory in 2012 when Republicans nominated an awful candidate in Todd Akin. As Politico reports, it may be happening all over again in 2018, but for different reasons:

Yet as the campaign season kicks into high gear, many Republicans worry that Josh Hawley — who openly admits he had no intention of running for Senate until he was pressured into it — is squandering his shot.

In interviews with more than two dozen senior Republican strategists, donors, lawmakers and local officials, Hawley was depicted as a lackadaisical candidate who has posted sluggish fundraising numbers, turned down interviews with conservative radio show hosts, and spurned traditional GOP events considered a rite of passage for a potential U.S. senator.

“I am personally baffled and disappointed that the guy I’ve had on my show numerous times over the last four years and have been supportive of has been MIA,” Mark Reardon, a veteran conservative radio show host in St. Louis whose program Hawley has shunned in recent months, said in an interview. “I’m pissed. I’m frustrated.”


► Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is on a four-state tour of the Rocky Mountain region this week.


 Bloomberg follows up on its story about political influencers and celebrities being appointed “volunteer sheriff deputies” so that they can legally carry a gun wherever they travel in the United States (Yuma County, Colorado was featured in the initial story last month). Here’s the latest from reporters Zachary Mider and Zeke Faux:

The bizarre roster of this ersatz police department illustrates the unintended consequences of a 2004 federal law that granted nationwide concealed-carry privileges to cops, trumping local gun restrictions. Because full-time officers and unpaid volunteers get the same privileges, hundreds of high-end bodyguards, gun-industry honchos, politically connected donors and celebrities are joining the rolls of police departments and sheriff’s offices, sometimes in exchange for cash. These so-called badge factories are fueling a booming gray market.

That’s not what Randy “Duke” Cunningham had in mind when he stood in the Roosevelt Room of the White House and watched President George W. Bush sign the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act. The Republican congressman from San Diego had been pushing for nationwide concealed-carry rights for cops since the early 1990s, arguing it would help them protect themselves and the public. Cunningham said in an interview that he never realized the bill he sponsored would apply to volunteers who didn’t go through regular police training.

“These are pretty serious benefits that you get, and they’re to support the public,” said Cunningham, who resigned from Congress in 2005 after admitting to taking bribes and served time in prison. “You don’t just hand these things out like candy.”


► The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent reports on last week’s debate in CD-3 between three Democratic candidates seeking to unseat Republican Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez). 


► Here’s another story about Gov. John Hickenlooper maybe probably possibly considering a run for President in 2020.


► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is praising President Trump over talks with North Korea that are following a similar script to those he bashed under President Obama.


► Mail ballots in Colorado will start going out in about three weeks, and Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton is taking to the airwaves for his first major buy of the 2018 cycle.


Drought conditions are already prompting water restrictions in Colorado, as CBS4 reports.


► Democrat Levi Tillemann managed to pull off quite an absurd political stunt on Monday. Tillemann’s refusal to reveal a poll that he had been touting for days makes him look ridiculous, but not as much as the handful of reporters who were convinced that this was somehow “news.”




Your Daily Dose Of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 


► President Trump is totally not lacking in self-esteem or anything. As Politico reports:

President Donald Trump wasn’t planning to attend the recent National Rifle Association convention – that is, until he learned that Vice President Mike Pence would be giving the keynote address.

That led to a change of plans in the West Wing, according to two people familiar with the arrangement, and nearly a week after the NRA announced Pence would speak, the president was added to the schedule to speak moments after Pence.

It wasn’t the first time Trump has changed his plans to one-up the veep. It was originally Pence, not Trump, who planned to travel to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. But upon seeing who else would be attending, Trump decided to make the trip himself instead, bumping Pence off the schedule, according to a person familiar with the matter. A White House official said that neither scheduling decision was based on the vice president’s plans.

And Trump is elbowing Pence out in other, smaller, ways: on Tuesday, the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List announced Trump would be headlining their annual Washington gala this year, after Pence gave the keynote address last year. An official said that plan was weeks in the making.

It takes a Herculean effort to make Mike Pence appear as a sympathetic figure in the White House, but Trump is up to the task.


CNN takes a close look at the personal phone ban in the White House.



► Rest in peace, Steve Hogan.



Click here for The Get More Smarter Show. You can also Get More Smarter by liking Colorado Pols on Facebook!



8 thoughts on “Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 15)

  1. Ahead of Vote on Gina Haspel, Senate Pulls Access to Damning Classified Memo

    As the Senate prepares for a Wednesday vote on whether to confirm Gina Haspel as director of the CIA, the Senate Intelligence Committee has restricted access to a classified memo that Democratic staff put together, detailing Haspel’s role in advocating for torture and later destroying related evidence. 

    On Monday morning, Elizabeth Falcone, a senior aide for Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top-ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, announced the decision to restrict access in an email to Democratic legislative directors. The memo had previously been available for senators and staff with security clearances to review in a Secure Compartmented Information Facility housed within Congress. Staff will no longer be able to review the document, and senators will only be able to do so upon request. It has been removed from the SCIF.

    The decision to restrict access to the memo is especially unusual given that Warner just last week criticized the CIA for an “unacceptable” lack of transparency in the run-up to Haspel’s hearing.  […]

    Warner’s move has heightened fears among Haspel opponents that Warner is preparing to vote to confirm Haspel.

    1. Ah, there it is!

      Key Democrat backs Haspel for CIA director after she says interrogation program should not have been started

      In announcing his support for Haspel, Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-Va.) said Tuesday that he had asked her to write down her views because he believed that in one-on-one meetings she had expressed greater regret, and more resolute moral opposition to the agency’s interrogation program than she had communicated during her confirmation hearing last week.

      “I believe she is someone who can and will stand up to the President if ordered to do something illegal or immoral — like a return to torture,” Warner said in a statement, citing his past interaction with Haspel and the overwhelming support for her among the agency’s rank and file and the wider intelligence community. He added that he also had “respect” for those “who have made a different decision” about her nomination.

      Who says committing war crimes won't get you anywhere?  #Resist

      1. Did you notice how quickly Cheney popped up to defend torture when Haspel started her hearings? He must really be worried about being prosecuted for war crimes. – or maybe he just wants to take a European vacation someday.

  2. Haspel's letter … " “While I won’t condemn those that made these hard calls, and I have noted the valuable intelligence collected, "

    The Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA Torture, a $40 million dollar, 6,000-page report

    … produced 20 key findings. They are, verbatim from the unclassified summary report:

    1. The CIA's use of its enhanced interrogation techniques was not an effective means of acquiring intelligence or gaining cooperation from detainees.

    So, how does Ms. Haspel credit the positive accomplishment of getting information and the Senate Intelligence Committee say it was not effective?


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