Republicans Might Have Backed the Wrong Horse…Again

 

UPDATE #2: And again…

 

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UPDATE: To our point…

Via The Washington Post (7/30/21)

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Could become a popular item (the bag).

Philip Bump of The Washington Post has an interesting new column out today that prodded us to take a new look at a question we’ve long pondered: Are Republicans SURE that following Donald Trump is their best option in 2022? 

Bump notes that Trump is no longer able to drive a national conversation like he once could — in part because of his banishment from major social media sites — and points out that Trump’s favorability ratings among Republicans have been steadily dropping since the Jan. 6 insurrection. Add in the fact that Trump’s endorsement hasn’t been all that effective lately (more on this in a moment), and it leads Bump to conclude the following:

It’s hard to overstate how important it is for Trump to be seen as decisive. It’s why when a political action committee associated with Trump nemesis John Bolton published a poll suggesting that Trump’s grip had weakened, Trump’s team did a full-court press to rebut the insinuation. His then-spokesman Jason Miller sent a flurry of rejoinders insisting that Trump was still as strong as he liked the world to think. (Incidentally, Miller’s replacement by Liz Harrington is in its own way a diminishment of Trump’s ability to hold the party in his grip.) Trump needs people to think he can make or break their careers.

It’s probably true that, for many, he still can. But this week has been a good reminder that such bullying can very quickly fall apart under the right conditions. At some point next year, as primaries unfold, Trump may see his power collapse and see a bunch of Republicans he opposed headed back to Washington — shaking their heads at him as they go, amazed that they had ever feared him. [Pols emphasis]

On Monday, Trump endorsed Susan Wright ahead of a special election in Texas to fill the remainder of her late husband’s term in Congress (Rep. Ron Wright died earlier this year after being infected with COVID-19). Susan Wright went on to lose to fellow Republican Jake Ellzey by about seven points. 

As POLITICO reports, the outcome in Texas’ 6th Congressional District had Trump lackeys running scared:

[Wright’s] loss Tuesday night sent shockwaves through the former president’s inner circle. Many privately concede the pressure is on them to win another special election next week in Ohio, where a Trump-backed candidate is locked in a close primary.

Advisers worry that a second embarrassing loss would raise questions about the power of Trump’s endorsement — his most prized political commodity, which candidates from Ohio to Wyoming are scrambling to earn before next year’s midterms. [Pols emphasis] More broadly, losses could undermine his standing in the Republican Party, where his popularity and influence has protected Trump’s relevance even as a former president barred from his social media megaphones.

A bit later, POLITICO noters that Trump didn’t do much for Wright aside from his generic endorsement rhetoric:

Some Republicans, however, pin partial blame for Wright’s loss on Trump. While the former president sent out statements reiterating his support for Wright and hosted a late tele-rally for her, he did little to help her build her campaign war chest — something he could have done using his vast small donor network. Recently released finance reports showed Ellzey significantly outraising Wright.

Trump has backed Mike Carey for Congress in a special election in Ohio next week, where the story is much the same. Carey is being vastly outspent by a different Republican candidate, former state lawmaker Ron Hood, who is backed by Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and other conservative Super PACs. Trump advisers are right to worry about what it will say for The Big Orange Guy’s influence if his preferred candidate loses what is essentially a Republican primary for the second time in a week.

These are not the only signs that Trump’s influence might not be as strong as his supporters — including Colorado Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert — would like to believe. 

In late Spring, Trump rolled out a new blog called “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” that lasted all of 29 days after proving to be less popular than even lesser-known pet-adoption and recipe websites. Organizers of a proposed winter tour headlined by Trump and former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly are having a hard time selling tickets; consumers are apparently much more interested in paying money to see the likes of comedian Katt Williams or podcast host Joe Rogan

Republicans across the country have stuck with Trump even after his departure from the White House in January, but doubts are growing. Colorado Republican Party Chair Kristi Burton Brown, who earlier this year declared that the State GOP would “never” go back to “the pre-Trump era,” has been walking back those declarations in recent interviews. 

Cool, you’ve got these voters. What about everybody else?

Republicans have been basing their entire 2022 political strategy around support for “The Big Lie,” either because they truly believe that the 2020 Presidential Election was fraudulent or (more likely) because they are terrified that Trump could derail their political careers by supporting a GOP challenger. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is so frightened of receiving a primary challenge that he recently started inventing his own ridiculous election conspiracy theories. After waffling for months on whether or not the 2020 election was legitimate, Buck dove headfirst down the rabbit hole in July to prove his fealty to falsehoods. Was it worth it, politically-speaking, for Buck to avoid the ire of Trump? 

Maybe not.

Politicians such as Buck, Boebert, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have staked their 2022 election hopes on the power of Trump’s influence, an allegiance that has compelled them to speak up more forcefully ON THE SIDE OF THE INSURRECTIONISTS. Historically it has not generally been a good political strategy to openly support terrorists; the upside of remaining on Trump’s Christmas card list might not prove to be a fair trade in 18 months. 

Trump is still the overwhelming favorite to be the Republican nominee for President in 2024, so there’s still reason to believe that keeping your nose in Trump’s butt will be a (politically) rewarding strategy.

But it’s tough to argue that Trump’s influence isn’t trending in the wrong direction…and that should make a lot of Republicans very, very nervous.

Former Governor Dick Lamm Dies at 85

Undated photo of Dick Lamm during his time as Governor of Colorado.

As The Denver Post reports:

Former three-term Colorado Gov. Richard “Dick” Lamm died Thursday night at age 85, his wife said in a statement.

Lamm would have turned 86 next week, but was surrounded by friends and family when he died of complications from a pulmonary embolism, according to wife Dottie Lamm. He had two children.

The former Democratic governor served three terms from 1975 to 1987, the longest in the state’s history, according to the National Governors Association. He also was a state representative from 1966 to 1974.

Lamm may be best known for leading an effort in the early 1970s to prevent the 1976 Winter Olympics from being hosted in Colorado. Lamm later sought the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 1992, losing to eventual Senator Ben “Nighthorse” Campbell (“Nighthorse” would later switch parties to become a Republican). In 1996, Lamm was a candidate for the Reform Party nomination for President.

Information on memorial services is not yet available.

Devastating CNN Report Exposes Boebert’s Deadly Indifference

Last night on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, reporter Gary Tuchman took an in-depth and extremely unflattering look at how freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert’s vitriolic dismissal of the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic is playing out on the ground in Boebert’s district as the Delta variant surges and hospitals struggle to cope.

The result is four minutes of video that would under any normal circumstances end Boebert’s career:

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R).

Tuchman starts with a recap of some of Boebert’s more incendiary Tweets on the pandemic, like calling CDC workers “Needle Nazis” and stating that the solution to the Delta variant is to “vote Republican and turn off CNN.” Tuchman tries and fails to get an explanation from Boebert as she’s entering the Capitol. Tuchman then turns his conversation with health workers at Memorial Regional Hospital in Craig, which was forced to reopen its COVID treatment unit due to the recent surge in cases. And that’s where things get very bad for Boebert:

TUCHMAN: How does it make you feel the way Representative Boebert has treated this pandemic, the masks, the vaccine?

ANDY DANIELS, CEO, MEMORIAL REGIONAL HEALTH: You know, I’m embarrassed for Colorado too, quite frankly. I’m embarrassed that she is my representative.

TUCHMAN (on-camera): So you’re the CEO of an important hospital, her district, and you’re willing to go out on a limb and say that?

DANIELS: I am. I think if you’re going to take a stance on health care policy, you might actually want to learn something about health care policy. [Pols emphasis]

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Dr. Matthew Grzegozewski is the hospital’s emergency department chief medical officer.

GRZEGOZEWSKI: She comes from a position of power being our elected official and I think that people are listening to what she’s saying. And a lot of what she’s putting out there is ideology that isn’t fact isn’t medically sound. And it’s putting a lot of people at danger. And it’s quite honestly costing people lives. And it’s frustrating to have to fight against that.

First of all, you have to admire the bravery of these health care workers. Their denunciation of Boebert’s deadly COVID misinformation in this segment is so compelling that it could raise the ire of her radicalized supporters. The willingness of these health workers to speak out in such clear terms against their own congressional representative tells us that Boebert’s popularity even in the heart of her district is tenuous at best–and much like we saw from Politico’s in-depth look at how Boebert plays in Pueblo in June, Boebert has a serious problem that the local media for whatever reason hasn’t yet acknowledged.

It’s time to acknowledge it. Boebert is doing quantifiable harm to the people of her district and the institution of Congress, and her longsuffering constituents are pleading for all of us to look past her diversionary clickbait bombast and see what is actually happening on the ground.

We owe them our gratitude and full attention.

Friday Open Thread

“The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.”

–Napoleon Bonaparte

So Much For “Needle Nazis”–Who’s Going Door To Door Now?

Rep. Ron Hanks (R) in Phoenix observing the Arizona election “audit.”

As The Dispatch in York, Pennsylvania reports, local police are on alert for activists going door to door as part of a so-called “Election Integrity Project,” approaching voters to question them about how they voted in 2020 and who they voted for:

Various local officials say they have received reports that the group is visiting residents’ homes and questioning how the homeowner voted and who they voted for. The questioning comes as county officials weigh whether to comply with a “forensic audit” of the 2020 election spearheaded by state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin County.

“There is an intimidation factor, and that’s what their intent is,” said Chad Baker, chair of the Democratic Party of York County. “The timing of this doesn’t seem suspect given the recent request of the audit by Sen. Mastriano.”

The individuals claiming to be a part of the committee seem to be targeting Democrats in an attempt to seek out voter fraud, a baseless claim that has cemented itself as a rallying cry for supporters of former President Donald Trump, Baker said.

Despite the thorough process of counting, auditing, and in several swing state recounting the 2020 vote which found no irregularities on a scale that could change the outcome of the election, Republicans continue to pursue baseless theories of election fraud in multiple states. In Arizona, the GOP-controlled State Senate authorized an open-ended fishing expedition by a dubious private contractor which months later has produced nothing but easily-debunked misinformation. Undeterred, other states with dead-ender Trump contingents holding the power to do so are preparing their own so-called audits, because, well, they can.

Going from endlessly recounting the same ballots over and over to accosting Democratic voters in their homes about their vote, however, represents a significant and disturbing escalation–not to mention hypocritical after Republicans lost their minds over misinformation regarding door to door promotion of COVID vaccines. In Pennsylvania, voters targeted were confused, perhaps by design, about whether the “election integrity committee” they claim to work for was in some way official.

The self-proclaimed committee touring southern York County used tactics that were nearly identical to a forensic audit being conducted by a company hired by state Senate Republicans in Arizona. The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, in a May 5 letter obtained by The York Dispatch, accused the firm Cyber Ninjas of voter intimidation because of its door-knocking practice.

You’re probably asking by now–why are we talking about this in Colorado? Unfortunately, there’s a pressing reason. Last weekend, an organization calling itself the U.S. Election Integrity Project with ties to freshman election conspiracy theorist of note GOP Rep. Ron Hanks allegedly began its own door to door “canvass” of voters in the Colorado Springs area:

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (July 29)

Holy hell! We’re almost done with July already. 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 learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

As POLITICO reports, it might finally be time to kick off “infrastructure week”:

President Joe Biden moved significantly closer Wednesday to achieving his massive infrastructure overhaul — the type of bipartisan win he’s dreamed about since launching his campaign for the presidency.

Seventeen Republican senators voted with Democrats to advance a roughly $1 trillion deal that would spend heavily on roads, bridges, broadband and public transit. And though it was a vote merely to start debate, Democrats expressed cautious optimism that a bill would eventually reach Biden’s desk. It was, the White House stressed, a testament to the president’s political skill and persistence. Despite constant fits and starts, grumbling from many in his party, and predictions that negotiations would fall apart, Biden refused to give up on working with Republicans.

Colorado Newsline has more on the details of the infrastructure efforts.

Even Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is getting out of the way on this (for now, anyway). But as The Washington Post reports, former President Donald Trump is trying to get Republicans to scuttle any deal because he’s sad that he couldn’t accomplish something similar during his administration:

Trump warned the GOP last night against cutting a deal, in his latest rhetorical barrage against bipartisan cooperation on a proposal to shore up or upgrade the country’s roads, bridges, ports, access to the Internet and clean water.

“This will be a victory for the Biden Administration and Democrats, and will be heavily used in the 2022 election,” he warned in a statement. “It is a loser for the USA, a terrible deal, and makes the Republicans look weak, foolish, and dumb.”

The former president also explicitly threatened any Republicans inclined to support the notional deal that “lots of primaries will be coming your way!”

What a patriot.

 

Colorado is not announcing new guidelines for wearing masks indoors, but Denver7 points out all of the areas in the state where you probably SHOULD be wearing a mask just to be safe. Not included is anywhere that Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert happens to be at a given moment.

In a related story, 9News looks at how the Delta variant of COVID-19 appears to be circulating more rapidly in Latino communities.

 

 The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC) is speaking up about concerns related to rhetoric heard from one member of Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission. As The Colorado Times Recorder explains:

The Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition (CIRC), an immigration advocacy group, condemned comments about undocumented workers made by Congressional Redistricting commissioner Bill Leone.

The comments were made last week at a Joint Independent Redistricting meeting in Englewood in response to witness testimony about how the commission would count imprisoned populations when redrawing Colorado’s congressional districts. Leone then asked if undocumented workers should be reallocated when looking at population data.

Christie Donner, executive director of the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition (CCJRC), testified to the importance of the commission including imprisoned populations in their home districts, rather than the districts in which they are imprisoned.

 

As The Washington Post reports, right-wing cult leader Charlie Kirk and his “Turning Point USA” group is working hard to stop people from getting vaccinated and/or wearing masks to protect themselves and others from COVID-19:

…the communications by Turning Point USA and its affiliate, Turning Point Action, reflect the increasingly hard line taken by the group, which describes itself as the “largest and fastest-growing youth organization in America” and claims a presence on more than 2,500 college and high school campuses. Its dire warnings about a government-backed inoculation program — now a major theme of its Facebook ads, which have been viewed millions of times — illustrate how the Trump-allied group is capitalizing on the stark polarization around vaccine policy.

Experts say the messages, many of which steer online audiences to donation pages, threaten to undermine vaccine confidence among young people, who have already proved particularly reluctant to roll up their sleeves. And they could incite conflict over vaccine requirements as students return to campuses wrestling with how to safely reopen this fall, with some battling in court to require vaccination.

Not-so-fun fact: Bill Montgomery, who co-founded “Turning Point USA” with Kirk, RECENTLY DIED AFTER CONTRACTING COVID-19.

 

Click below to keep learning stuff…

 

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At Least He’s Not Your Deputy Attorney General

Texas Deputy Attorney General Aaron Reitz (R).

The Hill reports:

Texas Deputy Attorney General Aaron Reitz (R) deleted a tweet calling gymnast Simone Biles a “national embarrassment” and issued an apology to the Olympian after the state’s attorney general came to her defense and criticized “a very inappropriate” tweet made by one of the office’s employees.

In a tweet on Wednesday afternoon, Reitz said he owed Biles, who grew up in Texas, “an apology.” “A big one,” he added, while also attaching a statement saying his personal social media comments “do not represent Attorney General Paxton or the Office of the Attorney General.”

“In a moment of frustration and disappointment, I opined on subjects for which I am not adequately versed. That was an error. I can’t imagine what Simone Biles has gone through,” Reitz said in the statement.

Reading this, we do understand what Simone Biles goes through a bit better.

And we’re as proud of Simone Biles as we are weary of dumbass Texas Republicans.

Thursday Open Thread

“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.”

–John Foster Dulles

Choke On Ozone While Chamber of Commerce Cheers “Leniency”

Breathe deep the gathering gloom.

It’s been a difficult summer already in Colorado for air quality with wildfires across the climate-changing West ramping up earlier in the season. But as CBS4 Denver reported yesterday, much of the air pollution searing the lungs and spoiling the scenery along the Front Range this week isn’t wildfire smoke at all, but homegrown pollution from our internal combustion engines roaring and industrial chemicals cooking away in the stagnant summer heat:

[W]hile limited smoke will still be present in Colorado (including instate smoke from the 6,000 acre Morgan Creek wildfire near Steamboat Springs), most of the haze is being caused by ground-level ozone.

Summer ozone occurs every year but there have been far more Ozone Action Days compared to normal this season. From the start of the season on June 1 through July 27, there have been 35 such days. That matches the average total for the entire season which ends August 30 and helps prove this summer has been particularly bad when it comes to air quality…

High levels of ozone is caused by pullulates from oil and gas production, vehicles, paints and solvents, lawn mowers, and more “cooking” under the summer sun. The more pollutants, the higher the concentration of ozone, and the more adverse the health effects. Ozone can cause stinging eyes and inhaling it can cause chest pains, coughing, and trigger breathing difficulty including asthma attacks.

Colorado Chamber of Commerce.

Even before this year’s especially bad air quality, Colorado has been failing to keep pace with the federal government’s tightening standards for ozone air pollution in recent years, leading to increasingly urgent proposals for stronger emissions rules to avoid federal sanctions. One such proposal the state’s Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) was set to consider in August was a proposal to require large employers to reduce commute miles driven by their employees. But as Michael Booth reported for the Colorado Sun last week, the AQCC has encountered pushback from “employers and their associations” and are now instead only pushing voluntary measures:

CDPHE issued a statement [last] week saying it had run into opposition from employers and their associations, and would shift to emphasizing employer-run surveys of commuting habits and “aspirational” goals for reducing miles driven. [Pols emphasis]

“This new proposal is based on the recognition that lasting and meaningful success will require strong buy-in from employers and employees who are subject to the program, and a pilot phase will facilitate our understanding of real world implementation successes and challenges,” the CDPHE’s statement said.

Naturally,

The Colorado Chamber of Commerce praised the new, lenient direction.

“How Coloradans commute to work shouldn’t be the concern of state government, and a mandatory approach to reducing employee commutes would be overreaching, impractical and inequitable,” said Katie Wolf, director of the chamber’s state governmental affairs, in a statement. “We appreciate that the commission has taken our feedback seriously and will be revising its proposal from a mandatory to voluntary program.”

To be clear, the environmental advocacy groups who pushed for rules with teeth would much rather have a voluntary program than nothing at all. But the apparently successful pushback from large employers is another sign of the emerging “urgency gap” between corporate interests and the science driving environmental policy on a whole range of issues from ozone pollution to climate change. Everyone may agree in the hypothetical on the need for action, but accountable steps and (yes) deadlines are what turns rhetoric into results.

While you’re coughing on your run or squinting for the hills through the gloom from indoors, take a moment to appreciate how great regulatory “leniency” is for the economy! It could always be worse, and if we stick to voluntary, aspirational goals it probably will be.

So we’ll be having this conversation again, and soon.

Police Reform is Working in Colorado

Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson

In June 2020, Democrats in the state legislature pushed through new police reform measures aimed at increasing transparency and accountability for law enforcement. That legislation was prompted, in part, by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Elijah McClain in Aurora, Colorado. The bill in the legislature was followed by policy changes in some municipalities, including Aurora.

This week, a graphic new case of police brutality in Aurora is putting those reforms to the test…and so far, they seem to be working.

As Fox 31 News reports:

The arrest of two Aurora police officers is the latest in a string of Colorado officer arrests since the killing of George Floyd. Floyd’s death and the historic protests that followed inspired a law requiring Colorado police officers to intervene and report excessive uses of force…

…Body-camera video from the incident has already been made public. It’s an action Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, is praising.

“The body camera footage was released right away,” Herod said. “That shows that our law is working, and it is quite frankly doing more than I thought it would be doing, which is changing the culture in some of these departments.”

Westword has more on Tuesday’s release of body-camera footage from last week’s arrest of Kyle Vinson:

On July 27, during a highly unusual press conference, Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson screened excerpts from body-camera footage to show why two of her officers, John Haubert and Francine Martinez, had been arrested for the incredibly brutal July 23 arrest of Kyle Vinson.

In the video, Vinson is choked, pistol-whipped and more by Haubert, gasping out repeated cries of “Help!,” “Don’t shoot me!” and “I can’t breathe!”

CLICK HERE to see the body-camera footage [CAUTION: The footage is graphic and difficult to watch]. Vinson repeatedly says in the video that he does not have a warrant out for his arrest; that turned out not to be true, but it is undeniable that Vinson made absolutely no effort to evade Aurora police officers. Officers Haubert and Martinez have both been arrested and charged with multiple crimes.

As Westword notes, it used to be routine practice in Aurora to NOT release body-camera footage; the very act of the Aurora PD holding a press conference to screen such footage was itself unusual. New police reform policies, and the direction of Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Williams, who was hired last August, appear to have moved things in a better direction.

We certainly wouldn’t argue that Colorado has solved the issue of police brutality, but it’s worthwhile to note that reforms seem to be working thus far. Recognizing progress is an important step in addressing any problem.

Masks Are Back, And Lauren Boebert Is Raging

Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert shows the world what tyranny looks like.

As the Denver Post’s Megan Wingerter reports, hope you didn’t throw all of yours away:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Tuesday that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor public places in counties with “high” or “substantial” spread of COVID-19 — which includes the majority of Colorado.

New coronavirus infections have increased in Colorado in recent weeks, and hospitalizations are trending up, though significantly more slowly than they did during the state’s four previous waves of cases.

The CDC defines substantial transmission as 50 or more COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people over the last week. About 60% of U.S. counties are above that threshold, officials said.

As of this writing, Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado is not planning on reinstating the state’s mask mandate. At least for now, increasing case rates in Colorado are not putting as much strain on hospitals–a sign that vulnerable populations are better protected today than in previous COVID-19 infection waves. In Congress, however, it’s a different story after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi re-imposed a mask requirement on the chamber effective today.

Take a guess how that’s going:

In response to the mask mandate returning to the House, in addition to childishly taking her frustrations with Pelosi’s mask mandate out on a staffer, Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert launched into a Twitter tirade this morning about the “anti-science, totalitarian mask mandate” and went full-on conspiratorial on the so-called “Perma-demic’s” non-medical motives:

Permanent masking. Permanent state of emergency. Permanent control. This will go on until the American people just say enough is enough. The tyrants aren’t giving this up!

So folks, we don’t like wearing masks. We don’t know anyone who does. We don’t want or expect to live in a world of “permanent masking.” As for the emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, at least here in the U.S. this has become a crisis almost entirely affecting the unvaccinated population. Boebert has been openly discouraging her supporters from accepting the “experimental vaccine” from the very beginning, even as Mesa County in her district became the state’s epicenter for continuing spread of the virus.

In short, Boebert is doing everything she can to make this emergency permanent. By encouraging her supporters to go unvaccinated and resist mask wearing–the two most effective steps we can take to reduce the spread of COVID-19–Boebert is helping make her own dark prophecy come true. Except for the nefarious motives, of course, though fortunately for Boebert she never has to prove that part.

If the goal is really to end the pandemic, Boebert is her own worst enemy.  She either doesn’t know that or doesn’t care. Either way, Boebert represents the worst-case scenario for leadership at a moment when leadership is desperately needed.

Wednesday Open Thread

“All anti-abortion protesters should be presented, on the spot, with an application to sign up as foster parents.”

–Kurt Eichenwald

Why Mayor Mike Needs “Mini Mike” So Badly

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman with “Mini-Mike” City Council candidate Dustin Zvonek.

The Aurora Sentinel’s Kara Mason reports on the continuing and maybe illegal deadlock of the Aurora City Council on the matter of appointing a new city councilman to replace councilwoman Nicole Johnston, who resigned last month to take a job in Colorado Springs:

An attempt to appoint a candidate to the Ward II vacancy spanned a third city council meeting Monday, stretching late into the night and into the next day before the lawmakers decided after 3 a.m. to pause the meeting until July 29 at 6:30 p.m…

Council members voted nearly 100 times, essentially along party lines, between candidates Republican Steve Sundberg, who owns a local tavern, and Democrat Ryan Ross, who facilitated the police reform task force, before arriving at the decision.

Council members Francoise Bergan, Marsha Berzins, Dave Gruber, Curtis Gardner and Mayor Mike Coffman once again voted for Sundberg, while council members Alison Coombs, Allison Hiltz, Crystal Murillo, Angela Lawson and Juan Marcano once again backed Ross.

The extreme difficulty the Aurora City Council is having replacing Johnston, a left-leaning member of the nominally nonpartisan body, reveals the closely-divided state of the council under former GOP congressman turned-Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman. With partisan lines in full view despite the nonpartisan pretense, the appointment of Coffman’s favored candidate Steve Sundberg would have the effect of immediately flipping the city council to a Coffman-friendly de facto Republican majority.

The council is up against a July 29 deadline to make the appointment, and the Sentinel reports that an opinion is coming as early as today on whether missing that deadline violates the city charter. Especially if the impasse if eventually resolved in the favor of Sundberg’s opponent Ryan Ross, all attention will turn immediately to the election in November where five seats are up, including the closely watched at-large race in which Coffman’s former congressional aide Dustin Zvonek is running with masks-off GOP support.

After Coffman barely won his fallback job as Aurora Mayor on the rebound from losing his seat in Congress the previous year, he’s been effectively stymied in his attempts to conservatize Colorado’s largest suburban city by a progressive City Council not inclined to turn Aurora into a conservative policy petri dish. But it’s increasingly evident that this check on Coffman’s designs for Aurora is gossamer thin–and Coffman means to do away with any impediments sooner or (not that much) later.

The more Aurora voters understand about these emerging high stakes in the upcoming city council elections, the better for everyone except Mike Coffman. Zvonek prefers to keep it on the down-low too.

Witness The Depth Of Republican Depravity

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik.

Today, the U.S. House select committee investigating the deadly pro-Trump assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th is holding its first hearings, taking witness testimony from U.S. Capitol Police officers who defended the building and helped lawmakers flee to secure areas as insurrectionists stormed through smashed windows and doors.

Outside the hearing, as Fox News reports, Republicans who tried desperately to stop this investigation from taking place at all offered their latest spin on the events of January 6th. We had to read this twice to make sure it wasn’t a parody:

House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and other House GOP leaders blasted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Tuesday morning, accusing her of being ultimately responsible for security failures at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6…

“Dec. 14, the leadership knew there was a problem,” McCarthy said. “Even prior to that, an Inspector General report told us there was failed leadership at the top of the police for the training.” The minority leader noted that no hearing was held to address that report.

House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., echoed this, claiming that in December 2020 Pelosi “was made aware of potential security threats to the Capitol and she failed to act.”

Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, January 6th 2021.

The New York Daily News has the quote from Rep. Elise Stefanik today that has jaws agape from coast to coast:

“The truth (is) that Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as Speaker of the House for the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the No. 3 House Republican. [Pols emphasis]

On January 13th, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stated unequivocally that “the president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.” The insurrectionists who smashed their way into the U.S. Capitol on January 6th were not random tourists, they were there with the expressed purpose of disrupting the certification of the 2020 presidential election in hope that might somehow help defeated Republican President Donald Trump cling to power.

You know that. We know that. Kevin McCarthy and Elise Stefanik know it too.

So what’s going on here? It’s simple, really: the GOP is a party completely given over to post-truth reinvention of history, so turning the story of January 6th on its head to recast the victims as guilty for the attack is as natural for them as it is outrageous to everyone else. By giving voice to the utterly outlandish idea that Democrats somehow brought this violence on themselves, Republican leaders have given Republican voters desperate to reconcile these events with their own values will something–anything–to cling to. And that’s all it takes.

In the end, what “post-truth” Republicans say doesn’t have to make sense. If you’re outraged, you’re just not the target audience for it. Republicans who know what their leaders are saying is preposterous fiction, and they most certainly do exist, cannot say anything for fear of ending up the next Liz Cheney.

Whatever happens next, today marks another low moment: for Kevin McCarthy and Elise Stefanik, for the GOP, and for American democracy as a whole. Unless American voters stop rewarding Republicans’ increasingly diabolical behavior in the era of Trump, we are all debased with them.

Boebert Hates Bicycles, But CD-3 Sure Doesn’t

At first glance, it just seems like another serving of talk-radio red meat from Colorado’s favorite Republican train wreck Rep. Lauren “Q*bert” Boebert–a presumably dead-on-arrival appropriations amendment striking a blow against that most un-Godly of communist contraptions, the bicycle:

Communists, obviously.

On the one hand, it’s easy to understand: Boebert is a big fan of oil and gas, the kind of devoted fan you can really only be if you don’t think about it too much “Drill Baby Drill” style. Naturally, ICE-loving (internal combustion engine, though we assume either works) red-blooded Americans like Boebert don’t ride stinking bicycles.

The thing is, though, a lot of people in Boebert’s district do ride bicycles. In fact, the Colorado Tourism Office says some of the greatest cycling destinations are in Boebert’s own Western Slope district:

Colorado has more gold- or platinum-rated bicycle communities than any other state, according to the League of American Bicyclists. Boulder and Fort Collins are ranked platinum, while Breckenridge, Durango, Crested Butte and Steamboat Springs are gold. Silver status goes to Aspen, Colorado Springs, Denver, Gunnison and Longmont, while Arvada, Carbondale, Castle Rock, Golden, Greeley, Lakewood, Summit County and Vail make the podium with bronze.

Boebert may not value bicycling as a means of getting around, but a whole bunch of tourism-reliant communities in her district value the hell out of bicycles and the visitors Colorado’s magnificent bike trails bring. That’s in addition to the fact that people who ride bicycles are statistically much healthier, and bicycles and emit neither carbon nor coal-roll soot.

In short, Boebert just insulted a big economic stakeholder in her district for the shallow gratification of another.

We can’t see how that makes Boebert, you know, any new friends.

More Things That Won’t Happen on August 13

Pillow enthusiast and amateur political scientist Mike Lindell

The “MyPillow Guy,” company CEO Mike Lindell, has been one of the most outspoken of the Donald Trump supporters in terms of his belief that Trump will yet be “reinstated” as President, or something. Lindell has spent millions of dollars of his own money to create a complicated Excel spreadsheet that “proves” widespread voter fraud stole the 2020 Presidential election for Joe Biden. Lindell will reportedly make that data public at some sort of event in mid-August.

Lindell has claimed for months that Trump would be back in the White House in August 2021 (of course, Lindell has also said that Trump “won” the 2020 election, so it’s unclear why Trump would need to be reinstated as President if he was already President). Earlier this month, Lindell even put a date on it; he said that The United States Supreme Court would reinstate Trump as President on Friday, August 13 (yes, Friday the 13th). Nevermind that the U.S. Supreme Court does not have this authority.

But as Raw Story reports, Lindell has a new, updated theory that still involves August 13:

Lindell speculated this week that President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will resign on the morning of August 13. [Pols emphasis]

Lindell told Real America’s Voice host Steve Bannon that he came to this conclusion after speaking with three Democrats who regretted voting for Biden. The MyPillow CEO claimed that he had convinced the Biden voters that the 2020 election had been stolen from former President Donald Trump…

…”There’s three of them that voted [for Biden] that feel terrible about it,” he continued. “I said you know what? I said you didn’t know about this but you thought you were voting for something. I said you didn’t get to vote. I said China did our vote.”

According to the “MyPillow Guy,” Biden and Harris will resign for the good of the country on Friday the 13th after seeing all of the data that he has accumulated proving that their administration is illegitimate. Don’t tell Lindell, but if this were to happen, the person who would become President is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and not The Big Orange Guy in Mar-a-lago.

Lindell is quite obviously a few sheets short of a made bed, but we’re telling you this so that there can be no confusion that August 13 is THE DAY that the Biden Presidency comes to an end. When that does not happen, and August 13 is just like any other day, then Lindell will probably shift to a new deadline — which is what people who predict the end of the world tend to do on a regular basis.

If you are one of the people who still believe that the 2020 Presidential election was fraudulent and that Trump is — or should still be — President of the United States…well, just understand that you and the “MyPillow Guy” are essentially on the same team. And then maybe reconsider your position.

Get More Smarter on Monday (July 26)

Japan has a slight lead over the United States in the Olympic medal count after the first couple of days of competition. 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 learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

Last week, Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey made it clear that she was sick of unvaccinated Americans preventing the rest of the country from ending the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, “It’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks…it’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

As Dr. Anthony Fauci is warning, new restrictions may be just around the corner BECAUSE so many people are unvaccinated. From The Washington Post:

Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, said Sunday that the United States is in an “unnecessary predicament” at this point in the pandemic.

“We’re going in the wrong direction,” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The latest surge in infections is driven by the highly virulent delta variant, which continues to spread rapidly around the country. Although official guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not changed, Fauci hinted that a return to indoor mask mandates for vaccinated people and booster shots may be necessary to once again curb the spread of the virus.

Doctors, nurses, and other health groups are now calling for vaccine mandates for all health care workers. New York City will require all city workers to either receive COVID-19 vaccinations or take weekly COVID-19 tests. But as The Washington Post reports in a separate story, Republican leaders around the country are actively working against public health guidelines:

GOP lawmakers are rallying around the cause of individual freedom to counter community-based disease mitigation methods, moves experts say leave the country ill-equipped to counter the resurgent coronavirus and a future, unknown outbreak.

In some states, anger at perceived overreach by health officials has prompted legislative attempts to limit their authority, including new state laws that prevent the closure of businesses or allow lawmakers to rescind mask mandates. Some state courts have reined in the emergency and regulatory powers governors have wielded against the virus. And in its recent rulings and analysis, the U.S. Supreme Court has signaled its willingness to limit disease mitigation in the name of religious freedom…

…At least 15 state legislatures have passed or are considering measures to limit the legal authority of public health agencies, according to the Network for Public Health Law, which partnered with the National Association of County and City Health Officials to document the legislative counterpunches. Lawmakers in at least 46 states have introduced hundreds of bills relating to legislative oversight of gubernatorial or executive actions during coronavirus or other emergencies, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The answer, friends, is remarkably simple: Vax, That. Thang. Up.

 

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock delivers his “State of the City” address today.

 

Colorado Newsline reports on Friday’s meeting in Grand Junction with BLM officials and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland:

During her first official visit to Grand Junction, the nation’s first Native American secretary of the interior, Deb Haaland, wouldn’t say whether the Bureau of Land Management headquarters will remain in the city or return to Washington, D.C.

“It’s an open question, but needs to be known soon,” she said.

Haaland was joined on Friday by Gov. Jared Polis, Sens. Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, and Reps. Joe Neguse and Lauren Boebert, who represents the district that encompasses Grand Junction. The Colorado delegation hopes to persuade Haaland to keep the BLM headquarters in Grand Junction, where, in a controversial move, the Trump administration relocated the federal agency from Washington, D.C., in 2019…

…Haaland said she will consider the impact on BLM employees when making her decision whether to keep the headquarters on the Western Slope. Employees were significantly impacted the way the move was implemented, she said. And institutional knowledge was lost after nearly 300 BLM employees left their jobs rather than leave their homes in Washington to come to Colorado.

Colorado Public Radio has more on Haaland’s visit.

If you didn’t yet get a chance, take a moment to caption this photo of Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert flanked by other Colorado Members of Congress during a press conference in Grand Junction.

 

As Colorado Public Radio reports, Lake Powell has reached its lowest water level IN RECORDED HISTORY:

Lake Powell, the second-largest reservoir in the U.S., has dropped to its lowest level on record. The water and power produced by the system supplies millions of people in the West.

On July 23, the reservoir’s level fell to 3,555.09 feet. The previous record low was set in April 2005.

A 20-year megadrought and hotter temperatures with climate change have contributed to shrinking water supplies in the Colorado River.

The Bureau of Reclamation had announced last week that it was likely this weekend that the reservoir would hit its lowest level since first being filled in the 1960s with water from the Colorado River.

The low water levels on Lake Powell are a big issue for Colorado because of a century-long water-sharing agreement.

 

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So Many Captions For One Awkward Photo

Committed to the public domain by Rep. Lauren Boebert’s official Twitter account, from yesterday’s visit by Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (center) to Grand Junction accompanied by (from left) Sen. Michael Bennet, Rep. Joe Neguse, Gov. Jared Polis, and Sen. John Hickenlooper:

There’s a lot going on here, and 90% of it doesn’t need to be said.

Take care of the other 10%, gentle readers.

Hurting The Unemployed: How About No?

Gov. Jared Polis (D).

CBS4 Denver reports on yet another request this week by business interests asking Gov. Jared Polis to cut off the expanded unemployment benefits being paid to workers by the federal government through the first week of September prematurely, in hopes that doing so will “motivate” those workers to return to their pre-pandemic stations:

A group of more than 100 business owners in northern Colorado sent a letter to Gov. Polis, saying the extra weekly payments are disincentivizing people to go back to work, and causing a shortage of workers.

The expanded unemployment benefits that have been flowing to workers for over a year now, already cut in half from the original $600 per week, are set to end in about six weeks. As we’ve explained each time Republicans and business lobbyists have called for the money to be cut off over the last few months, there’s scant evidence that expanded unemployment benefits are slowing workers return to the workforce. This is especially true in Colorado where the minimum wage is well above the federal $7.25 an hour, and is off-base in all cases since workers in every state are required to look for new jobs while they receive unemployment benefits.

In his response to this latest request, Gov. Polis makes the argument even simpler: he would be a fool to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into Colorado’s economy.

“I wish that we could use the money for something else, but this is $600 to $800 million that the federal government is pumping into Colorado,” Gov. Polis said.

Polis said the weekly payments are temporary and helping businesses in Colorado.

“This current money is only here for another month, but if we cut it off, it would be less money for our retail businesses, for our stores,” Polis said Wednesday.

Once you realize that expanded unemployment benefits are not the reason employers can’t fill many entry-level low paying positions, any rational basis for cutting the benefits off disappears. No one who wants Colorado to recover as quickly as possible from the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic should support a single dime of available money to not be flowing into the state–especially money going directly into the hands of working class people who are most likely to plug it right back into the economy.

It seems like an eternity ago, but the reality is that Colorado’s “labor shortage” was in the headlines long before the pandemic. Rather than meanspirited, shortsighted attempts to punitively motivate workers into accepting the status quo ante, maybe it’s time for businesses to make better job offers.

After all, an employee’s job market is a free market too.

Get More Smarter on Friday (July 23)

The 2020 2021 Tokyo Olympics are officially underway. 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 learner, check out The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter

 

CORONAVIRUS INFO…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

*Locate a COVID-19 testing site in Colorado:
Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 

*Coloradans can now get a COVID-19 vaccine at one of six locations without a prior appointment. 

 

More and more Republicans are speaking out about the importance of receiving your COVID-19 vaccinations. One such Republican, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, is even starting to get a little salty about it. From CNN:

Alabama Republican Gov. Kay Ivey on Thursday called out “the unvaccinated folks” for the rise in Covid-19 cases in her state, a remarkable plea at a time when many GOP leaders are refusing to urge people to get vaccinated even as Covid-19 cases surge in many parts of the country.

“Folks are supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down,” Ivey told reporters in Birmingham. [Pols emphasis]

Alabama is the least vaccinated state in the country, with roughly 33.9% of residents fully vaccinated, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Average daily Covid-19 cases in Alabama are nearly double what they were a week ago, and more than four times higher than they were two weeks ago…

…The unvaccinated, Ivey said, are “choosing a horrible lifestyle of self-inflicted pain.”

“We’ve got to get folks to take the shot,” she continued, calling the vaccine “the greatest weapon we have to fight Covid.”

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post has a similar response for the anti-vaxxer Republican crowd: He calls it “Snowflake Syndrome.” Texas Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson appears to have a bad case of “Snowflake Syndrome.”

Vax that thang up, people!

 

The Denver Post reports on the Front Range stop for Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, who will be in Grand Junction today for discussions about the future of the HQ of the Bureau of Land Management:

The federal government intends to provide immediate assistance to water users impacted by the West’s historic drought and develop longer-term strategies to respond to climate change, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland pledged Thursday during a visit to Denver.

Haaland — flanked by Assistant Interior Secretary for Water and Science Tanya Trujillo, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, and Denver Water CEO Jim Lochhead — spoke to the press after meeting with state and local officials at the Denver Water Administration building to discuss collaborating on addressing climate change and water-related issues in the West.

Haaland said the Bureau of Reclamation is working to identify and disperse “immediate financial and technical assistance for impacted irrigators and Indian tribes” while also tackling longer-term climate change responses, including building more resilient communities and protecting the natural environment.

“Being from New Mexico, I know how much climate change impacts our communities, from extended fire seasons to intense drought and water shortages, and I know how important the Colorado River Basin is to these discussions,” Haaland said.

 

The House of Representatives approved a measure — by wide margins — sponsored by Rep. Jason Crow (D-Aurora) that seeks to help Afghan interpreters who assisted U.S. forces in Afghanistan in obtaining visas to come to the United States; the Taliban has pledged to hunt down and kill interpreters who remain in that country.

Crow’s legislation passed the House by a vote of 407-16. Colorado Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert was the ONLY member of Colorado’s delegation to vote “NO.”

 

Colorado Newsline reports on passage of legislation in the House of Representatives that would regulate “forever chemicals” also known as PFAS, which can cause serious health problems when circulating through water supplies.

 

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Sympathy For The “QAnon Shaman?”

Jacob Chansley, the so-called “QAnon Shaman” (center).

One of the more recognizable figures among the 550+ suspects arrested for alleged crimes committed during the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol attempt to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election is the man who’s become known as the “QAnon Shaman” for his bizarre buffalo headdress costume and Mel Gibson-style cries of “freeeeedooooom” that echoed through the halls of the Capitol that day. Two weeks ago, Jacob Chansley was transferred to the FCI Englewood federal prison in Denver’s southwest suburbs for a psychological evaluation in order to determine his fitness for trial after months of pre-trial detention since his arrest in January.

As Reuters reports today, the “Qanon Shaman” is a deeply disturbed individual:

The participant in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots nicknamed the “QAnon Shaman” is negotiating a possible plea deal with prosecutors, after prison psychologists found he suffers from a variety of mental illnesses, his attorney said.

In an interview, defense lawyer Albert Watkins said that officials at the federal Bureau of Prisons, or BOP, have diagnosed his client Jacob Chansley with transient schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety.

The BOP’s findings, which have not yet been made public, suggest Chansley’s mental condition deteriorated due to the stress of being held in solitary confinement at a jail in Alexandria, Virginia, Watkins said.

“As he spent more time in solitary confinement … the decline in his acuity was noticeable, even to an untrained eye,” Watkins said in an interview on Thursday.

First and foremost: confirmation that this individual suspect in an insurrection thousands of people participated in urged on by then-President Donald Trump is seriously mentally ill does not excuse the actions of anyone else. The thorough and unsparing investigation to hold everyone who broke the law on January 6th accountable reflects the seriousness of the crimes committed that day, and is supported by an overwhelming majority of Americans.

The presence of a person suffering from severe mental illness in this crowd of agitated criminal extremists cannot be considered unexpected. Furthermore, the psychological harm done by solitary confinement is very well known here in Colorado, where corrections officials in recent years have eliminated long-term solitary confinement entirely.

Even in a case of insurrection, what makes America great is how we treat even the least deserving of sympathy fairly. The “QAnon Shaman” should be punished, and it does appear that he has been. What he may need more at the end of the day, though, is treatment.

“QAnon Shaman” himself may go down in history as more of a sad mascot than a bonafide threat, but that doesn’t mean we should get complacent about the very real and enduring threat of more violence from Trump dead-enders. It’s the sound of mind who smashed their way into the Capitol, and the man who incited them to violence in the first place, who should not walk free.