Trump’s Criminal Enterprise: A Time For Choosing

Comic book villain Roger Stone.

The New York Times reports on last night’s commutation of the sentence of close Donald Trump campaign associate Roger Stone, the latest act in the administration’s accelerating disregard for the rule of law in the interest of self-preservation:

For months, senior advisers warned Mr. Trump that it would be politically self-destructive if not ethically inappropriate to grant clemency to Mr. Stone, who was convicted of lying to protect the president. Even Attorney General William P. Barr, who had already overruled career prosecutors to reduce Mr. Stone’s sentence, argued against commutation in recent weeks, officials said.

But in casting aside their counsel on Friday, Mr. Trump indulged his own sense of grievance over precedent to reward an ally who kept silent. Once again, he challenged convention by intervening in the justice system undermining investigators looking into him and his associates, just days after the Supreme Court ruled that he went too far in claiming “absolute immunity” in two other inquiries.

Democrats condemned the commutation of Mr. Stone’s 40-month prison term and vowed to investigate. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling the move an act of “staggering corruption,” said she would pursue legislation to prevent the president from using his power to protect those convicted of a cover-up on his own behalf, although that would face serious constitutional hurdles and never be signed into law by Mr. Trump…

Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, as of this writing the Senate GOP majority’s last remaining shred of conscience, found the words few other Republicans could manage:

Donald Trump, Cory Gardner.

Responding today in a Washington Post op-ed, Special Counsel Robert Mueller recapped Stone’s crimes, saying “remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.”

Congress also investigated and sought information from Stone. A jury later determined he lied repeatedly to members of Congress. He lied about the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks. He lied about the existence of written communications with his intermediary. He lied by denying he had communicated with the Trump campaign about the timing of WikiLeaks’ releases. He in fact updated senior campaign officials repeatedly about WikiLeaks. And he tampered with a witness, imploring him to stonewall Congress.

The jury ultimately convicted Stone of obstruction of a congressional investigation, five counts of making false statements to Congress and tampering with a witness. Because his sentence has been commuted, he will not go to prison. But his conviction stands.

Russian efforts to interfere in our political system, and the essential question of whether those efforts involved the Trump campaign, required investigation. In that investigation, it was critical for us (and, before us, the FBI) to obtain full and accurate information. Likewise, it was critical for Congress to obtain accurate information from its witnesses. When a subject lies to investigators, it strikes at the core of the government’s efforts to find the truth and hold wrongdoers accountable. It may ultimately impede those efforts.

Even Attorney General William Barr, who has richly earned his reputation as Trump’s “getaway driver” as opposed to the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, told Trump that commuting Stone’s sentence was wrong–and after Barr’s intervention into the case to lower the requested sentence before it was commuted, no one has done more on Stone’s behalf than William Barr until Trump made the ultimate “intervention” yesterday.

From what we can see, the only full-throated defense of this action is coming from the most hard-core supporters of the President, who embrace without question the administration’s baseless counter-narrative that the real bad guys of the 2016 Russian election interference campaign were the victims, President Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and especially Hillary Clinton–and because they were the real bad guys it was somehow okay for Roger Stone to lie to protect Trump.

The last time Cory Gardner was asked about Roger Stone back in February, he ran away from the reporter asking the question. Running away from the hard questions about Trump is so routine for Gardner now that he gets seriously off balance when cornered. But even then, Gardner is totally unable to show even a token degree of independence from Trump, and after a few repetitions this is understood to be complicity by all sides. Gardner knows it, and more importantly Gardner’s boss knows it.

For most Americans paying attention, commuting Stone’s sentence only further establishes guilt that no one seriously questions at this point. Everybody knows now what the Russians wanted out of 2016, how that coincided with what Trump wanted, and through Roger Stone how Trump’s campaign came to know the Russian game plan. The only thing that matters in 2020 is this: are you on the side in American politics willing to embrace a criminal enterprise in the White House in exchange for lower taxes and wedge issues, or are you not?

Cory Gardner has made his choice, and now you’ve got to make yours.

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A Few Words On Rich White Suburbs Behaving Badly

Two stories on separate issues out of the wealthy southern suburbs of Denver, Colorado today tell a story together that we think says a lot about the disconnect between political conservatives in America today and reality–political and otherwise–going into the 2020 general elections.

The first, as the Denver Post’s John Aguilar reports, is from Greenwood Village, one of the richest (and whitest) suburbs along the Front Range:

Backlash has been swift since The Denver Post reported Wednesday that Greenwood Village’s elected leaders had passed a resolution stating that the city would “in all cases defend any police officer in any suit or proceeding brought under (Senate Bill 217) and pay or indemnify its police officers against all expenses” incurred from a legal challenge to officer conduct.

The suburb south of Denver, through its attorney and mayor, told The Post that it would never find a police officer to have acted in bad faith. Greenwood Village is seeking to protect its officers from personal liability even in cases when officers knowingly behave unlawfully — in contradiction to the new police reform law, which says officers can be on the hook for up to $25,000.

Greenwood Village’s highly controversial decision to swear off a key trigger for police accountability within their municipal boundaries was swiftly condemned by Attorney General Phil Weiser, and Marianne Goodland at the Colorado Springs Gazette reports that Black Lives Matter protesters descended on the city soon afterward:

Greenwood Village is 84% white, less than 3% Black and about 5% Hispanic. But on Thursday, the latest edition of Black Lives Matters protests came to this community of just over 15,000, where the median income is more than $127,0000 and the median home price is just shy of $900,000…

The resolution is illegal, said activist Terrance Roberts, a representative of the group Front-Line Party for Revolutionary Action of Aurora, who also claimed that Black people are not welcome in Greenwood Village.

Up until Greenwood Village took this provocative action in defiance of the law just passed in Colorado to address the front-and-center issue of police brutality, there were no significant protests in the city. There have historically been some troubling cases of police disregard for the rights of city residents, like the destruction of the home of city resident Leo Lech during a police pursuit of a criminal with only token compensation. But if the voters of Greenwood Village are upset at the sudden attention their quiet little ritzy suburb is getting, their first call should be to the elected officials who made their town a lightning rod.

Meanwhile across County Line Road in the bastion of COVIDiocy that is Douglas County, the time has finally come to throw off the tyrannical yoke of the Tri-County Health Department after the department instituted a mask “mandate” that municipalities can override if they want to. Ever since the pandemic first reached Colorado back in early March, Republicans in DougCo have raged over every kind of restriction necessary to contain the spread of the disease, to the point of inciting repeated acts of vandalism against Tri-County’s offices. But despite the resurgent growth of COVID cases in Colorado and across the nation, as the Aurora Sentinel’s Grant Stringer reports, a not-really mask “mandate” is the breaking point for DougCo commissioners:

Commissioners for the two counties covering almost all of Aurora have quickly thrown their support behind a region-wide mask mandate public health experts ordered Wednesday. The third county is threatening to divorce itself from the group.

The mask mandate, a work still in progress, prompted the Douglas County board of commissioners to now focus on leaving the long-standing, three-county health department and create one of their own.

“My fellow commissioners and I have directed staff to leave (Tri-County Health) and develop a public health department to meet the needs of our residents,” Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas said in a tweet Thursday. “We will also opt out of a mandatory mask order.”

That’s right, DougCo residents! The Republican governor of Texas may have ordered everyone in the Lone Star State to wear masks or face a $250 fine, but your board of rock-ribbed conservative Republican county commissioners are pulling your county out of the local health department and (apparently, it’s not clear yet) standing up a new health department, in the middle of a pandemic–because they think a mask “mandate” they are opting out of anyway is too much of an imposition.

The moral of these two stories? Within just a few miles of each other on the south side of the Denver metro area, you can find the worst possible official responses to the news events dominating the headlines on ready display. And though the issues may be very different, there is one common thread.

Horrifying tone deafness.

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It’s Official: 2020 Is Killing The Party of Trump

President Donald Trump, Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Politico reports, and it’s very, very bleak news for Republicans at every level as November looms on the near horizon:

Support for President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has hit an all-time low, according to a new survey, with a similarly substantial majority of Americans also disapproving of his response to widespread racial unrest.

An ABC News/Ipsos poll released Friday reports that a record 67 percent of respondents now disapprove of “the way Donald Trump is handling the response to the coronavirus,” while only 33 percent approve — the widest gulf in public sentiment since ABC News and Ipsos began surveying on the pandemic in March…

As for everything else going on?

The same percentage of respondents, 67 percent, also say they disapprove of “the way Donald Trump is handling race relations” amid protests against police brutality and racial injustice that began in late May after the killing of George Floyd. Just 32 percent of respondents say they approve of Trump’s handling of race relations.

These approval numbers on the central issues driving the news in 2020 are of course politically devastating for Trump and downballot Republicans assuming they translate into votes in November–and with all of 2020’s societal breakdowns and disruptions coming back to leadership that Trump has either failed to provide or villainously disregarded, this extremely high rate of public dissatisfaction is going to translate into votes. These numbers are another indicator that Trump’s total failure of leadership in the nation’s time of greatest need has set the entire Republican Party on a course for destruction in November. This is the “why” underscoring every poll showing Democrats from Joe Biden downward expanding their double-digit leads, and competing in places they shouldn’t be competitive.

Absent some deus ex machina no one can foresee today, there’s no coming back from this politically.

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Lauren Boebert’s “I Am Not A Witch” Moment

About a week before the June 30 Primary Election, we noted in this space that Republican congressional candidate Lauren “Yosemite Samantha” Boebert was really excited about the possibility that many of the “QAnon” conspiracy theories might someday turn out to be true. Ever since her surprise victory over incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton in last Tuesday’s Primary Election, Boebert has been trying — sort of — to downplay her love for QAnon conspiracies.

As Keagan Harsha reported for Fox 31 News on Monday:

While she may not be trying to distance herself in any way from the President, she is trying to separate herself from a far right wing conspiracy theory movement called QAnon.

Boebert has been criticized for appearing to sympathize with the movement, which has supported debunked theories that the Clintons and several other prominent Democrats are involved in a human trafficking and child sex ring, and that there’s a deep state working to undermine President Trump.

“I believe there are people working in the administration that at least appear to be actively undermining President Trump,” Boebert said.

However, while she supports a few of QAnon’s theories, Boebert says she is not a QAnon sympathizer.

“No. I’m not a follower. This is just a fake attack from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee,” she said. “QAnon is a lot of things to different people. I was very vague in what I said before. I’m not into conspiracies. I’m into freedom and the Constitution of the United States of America. I’m not a follower,” she said. [Pols emphasis]

Boebert and her new team of political advisers no doubt understand that her sympathetic views toward QAnon conspiracy theories make her look…well, a tad crazy…so it’s no surprise that she is furiously backpedalling now that she is officially the Republican nominee in CO-3. Former State Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams tried to help out in an Op-Ed for The Denver Post today by promoting the idea that Boebert didn’t say what she is already on record saying:

Washington, D.C. leftist groups are already unfairly and inaccurately painting her as a right-wing extremist; she must not be pulled into discussions of conspiracy theories such as QAnon.

Sorry, Dick, but that ship already sailed. Nobody is “inaccurately painting” Boebert as a QAnon supporter; Boebert was captured ON VIDEO making her pro-QAnon comments in an interview with the “Steel Truth” show in May.

Here’s what Boebert said about QAnon in response to a direct question about the “movement”:

“Honestly, everything that I’ve heard on ‘Q’ — I hope that this is real, because it only means that America is getting stronger and better, and people are returning to conservative values. And that’s what I am for. And, so, everything that I have heard of this movement is only motivating and encouraging and bringing people together, stronger, and if this is real, then it could be really great for our country.”

Boebert can argue over whether she is a “supporter” or a “sympathizer” or a “follower” of QAnon, but that’s a distinction without a difference.

With any luck, Boebert’s QAnon conspiracy problems will eventually lead to a television ad like this infamous spot from Christine O’Donnell, a Republican Senate nominee in Delaware in 2010 who tried — and failed — to push back on accusations that she was an actual witch.

 

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Republicans Disown House District 34 Primary Winner

HD-34 GOP nominee Mark Bromley.

Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog reports, the snakebit follies of Adams County Republicans in House District 34 continue as the party announces they will not support the winner of the primary election in that district, Mark Bromley:

The House District 34 Republican Central Committee announced recently it would not support the winner of the June 30 primary, Republican Mark Bromley of Northglenn.

The July 3 announcement cited Bromley’s threats against fellow Republicans and other candidates, and his “abject failure to exhibit beliefs that are consistent with the Republican platform, along with his indecent means of doing so.”

Those threats and other comments came through a series of now-deleted Facebook posts in which Bromley called a home-schooling parent “Home Hitler.”

Not that we would endorse characterizing home-school parents or most anyone else as a “_____ Hitler” unless they are, you know, actually a Nazi–which does happen, of course–but it’s especially bad for Republicans seeking higher office to refer to home-school parents as Nazis, since that’s an overwhelmingly Republican constituency. There’s nothing to suggest that Bromley is a moderate when it comes to education or any other issue, since he avidly promotes all of the current Republican conflict theories and even calls himself a supporter of homeschool education.

It appears that Mark Bromley is just an asshole, to friend and foe alike.

House District 34, in theory a competitive district, has been a frustration for Colorado Republicans since they were handed the seat by outgoing Rep. Steve Lebsock–who switched to the GOP as a parting shot to Democrats after being expelled from the House for his unrepentant sexual harassment. Lebsock’s GOP-appointed replacement Rep. Alexander “Skinhead” Winkler served one of the shortest terms in state legislative history before losing the seat by a wide margin in 2018 to the current incumbent Rep. Kyle Mullica. Mullica, who distinguished himself in his first term fighting to improve Colorado’s dismal child vaccination rate against thoroughly unhinged opposition, was in a good position to hold this district for Democrats comfortably going into November of 2020.

With Republicans now fleeing their own nominee, the anti-vaxxers are going to be sorely disappointed.

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Believe It Or Not, Stuff Happened Before Trump was President

As The New York Times reports, Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden is pushing a new slogan intended to encourage voters to “Buy American”:

Joseph R. Biden Jr. will lay out a populist economic vision to revive and reinvest in American manufacturing on Thursday, calling for major new spending and stricter new rules to “Buy American” as part of an effort to more aggressively challenge President Trump on two of his signature issues: the economy and nationalism.

In a speech in the battleground state of Pennsylvania, Mr. Biden is expected to slash at Mr. Trump management of the economy while framing his own economic agenda around the campaign’s new tagline of “Build Back Better.”

Mr. Biden is expected to say his plans would leverage trade, tax and investment policy to spur domestic innovation, reduce the reliance on foreign manufacturing and create five million additional American manufacturing and innovation jobs, according to a preview outlined by senior campaign officials.

This news has aggravated some Republicans who were of the belief that President Trump was the first person ever to think of promoting American-made products. Here’s a “hot take” from Kristi Burton Brown, “Personhood” genius, Vice-Chair of the Colorado Republican Party and now “lead policy adviser” for Republican Congressional candidate Lauren “Yosemite Samantha” Boebert:

Donald Trump invented “Buy American” in the same way that Ivanka Trump was personally responsible for creating 10% of all American jobs.

The “Buy American Act,” which required the U.S. government to prioritize purchasing U.S.-made products, was approved by Congress in 1933. More recently, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 — a stimulus package passed by Congress in response to the Great Recession — included a separate “Buy American” provision. Congressional Republicans even tried to get then-President Obama to roll back the “Buy American” section because of concerns that it was slowing down the progress of recovery programs.

Former President Ronald Reagan was criticized for his protectionist trade policies in the 1980s, as was his successor, George H.W. Bush. Former President George W. Bush encouraged the “Buy American” idea in his 2006 State of the Union speech. Former President Bill Clinton wrote an entire chapter about the importance of buying American goods in a book published in 2011.

We’d mention Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, but you get the idea.

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At Least They’re Not Your COVID-Carrying Lawmakers

UPDATE: Since we’re on the topic of #COVIDiots, it’s worth noting that President Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is going back to prison because he’s an absolute moron. From NBC New York:

Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former personal attorney later jailed for fraud, has been taken back into federal custody after allegedly violating the terms of his COVID-related release, his attorney said Thursday.

Earlier this month, Cohen was captured in photos by the New York Post dining out at a Manhattan restaurant.

Cohen’s attorney told NBC News that those photos may have prompted his return to custody.

——-

Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn of Mississippi

In another edition of our long-running series, “At Least They’re Not Your Legislator,” we take you to Mississippi, where a bunch of state lawmakers who refused to wear masks have learned the hard way that the coronavirus doesn’t care about your political statements.

As The Clarion Ledger reports:

Gov. Tate Reeves is warning the public to get tested for coronavirus if they have been in contact with a state lawmaker.

The number of coronavirus cases linked to an outbreak at the Capitol has grown to 36, which includes 26 legislators, according to the state’s top health official.

Many politicians flouted recommendations to wear a mask inside the Capitol in recent weeks. Now, about one in six of Mississippi state lawmakers have tested positive for the coronavirus [Pols emphasis]

…The leaders of both chambers — Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann — have tested positive for coronavirus. On Wednesday, the Enterprise Journal reported that Rep. Sam Mims, R-McComb, had tested positive for coronavirus. Mims chairs the House Public Health Committee.

Wearing a mask isn’t just about protecting others; new research shows that wearing a mask in public can reduce YOUR risk of contacting the coronavirus by as much as 65%.

Republican lawmakers who refused to wear masks despite working indoors in close proximity to others ended up becoming the latest example of why wearing masks is so critical to combating COVID-19.

Funny how that works.

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Dudley Brown’s Downfall Sidesteps Bigger GOP Dilemma

Dudley Brown.

9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger tallies the damage for the once-feared “no compromise” gun rights advocacy group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, infamous over the course of many years for its ruthless bullying of fellow Republicans and backing a slate of fringe primary candidates in safe Republican seats, in last week’s primary elections–and there’s little question the 2020 Republican primary was a wipeout unlike anything the organization has experienced before:

In last week’s primaries, RMGO went 1-5 in backing candidates in contested Republican primaries.

In Senate District 23, which includes eastern Fort Collins, and straddles Interstate 25 by Longmont and Loveland, RMGO-supported Republican candidate Rupert Parchment lost to Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer. She defeated Parchment 55%-45%, to be the Republican nominee on the November ballot…

Four House candidates in northern Colorado and Jefferson County, supported by RMGO, also lost. Candidates Pat Miller and Grady Nouis, as well as current state Senator Vicki Marble (who ran for a House seat) and former Rep. Justin Everett, were all defeated in Republican primaries.

As the Denver Post’s Saja Hindi reports, longtime RMGO executive director Dudley Brown, once one of the most imposing figures in far-right Colorado Republican politics, is stepping down in considerable disgrace after the organization’s chosen candidates in the 2020 GOP primary were routed:

The group has had significant influence on Colorado politics over the years, blocking some gun legislation and getting its favored candidates elected. But RMGO has suffered some recent blows, including the 2019 passage of Colorado’s red flag gun law and a June state Supreme Court ruling upholding a large-capacity gun magazine ban. Most recently, many of RMGO’s candidates did not win in contested GOP primaries for statehouse and county commissioner seats last week.

The organization has faced some criticism — even from within the GOP ranks — for its tactics. The family of House Minority Leader Patrick Neville has been closely aligned with the group, and recent RMGO losses could add steam to talk of removing him as caucus leader…

It’s too early to tell if this significant change of fortunes for an organization that has traditionally wielded tremendous influence within the Colorado Republican Party represents a long-term shift in direction of the party, or a momentary nadir for the party’s still very powerful hard-right faction. A major nexus of RMGO’s influence over the Colorado GOP lies in the Neville family political machine, and the support for House Minority Leader Patrick Neville in the House minority caucus that survived the disastrous 2018 election and innumerable embarrassments committed by Neville since then.

The Neville Clan needed RMGO’s candidates to not lose. Dudley Brown’s downfall is very likely Pat Neville’s too.

Without question, there is a significant wing of the Colorado Republican Party deeply unhappy with the dominance of RMGO and the Neville Clan in GOP primaries, understanding that their choice of candidates is ruining the party’s chances with general election voters:

“They’re single issue,” said Will Sander, Weld County GOP chairman. “I think it’s a combination of that and people just realizing that there’s a history of RMGO candidates being successful in the primary and then not winning in the general election, and I think Republicans are tired of that and they’re ready to take back the House and take back the Senate.”

Ridding the legislature of such profound embarrassments as Vicki Marble, who did damage to the Republican brand far outside their districts, is a goal that has been long held by more than a few Republicans dismayed by the party’s decline. But looking at the current leadership of the state party, from Rep. Ken Buck as chairman to RMGO ally in the failed recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown and down through the ranks, it’s clear that the problem runs much deeper than any one figure or group. The Colorado Republican Party’s lurch to the irrational right in recent years is consistent with the party’s evolution nationally. In Donald Trump’s Republican Party, the pressure to radicalize comes from above and below.

At some level, you can’t purge your nature. Dudley Brown is a symptom of a larger disease.

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Why Hickenlooper Beat Romanoff

John Hickenlooper, Andrew Romanoff.

A few days after the 2010 U.S. Senate Primary Election, in which Sen. Michael Bennet defeated challenger Andrew Romanoff by 8 points, we took a long look at how and why Bennet emerged victorious despite not being particularly well-known among Colorado Democrats. Most of what we wrote on August 13, 2010 holds up remarkably well in comparison to the 2020 Democratic Senate Primary race between Romanoff and former Gov. John Hickenlooper, which Hickenlooper won by about 18 points.

Ten years ago, we cited four main reasons as to why Bennet beat Romanoff: 1) Ballot chasing, 2) Messaging, 3) Romanoff getting mired in details, and 4) Fundraising. The 2020 election is not an apples-to-apples comparison, of course, but the point here is that Romanoff made many of the same mistakes he made in 2010. Ballot chasing was less relevant in 2020 because of campaigning restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that Colorado is now an all-mail ballot state. The other three points are all pretty similar when you look at the two Senate Primary races. With that in mind, we’ll drop the first item from 2010 and add a different explanation:

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World, Meet Lauren Boebert–But Don’t Eat The Sliders

CD-3 GOP nominee Lauren Boebert.

Lauren Boebert, the novice political candidate out of Rifle who pole-vaulted to the national spotlight after dispatching 5-term incumbent GOP Rep. Scott Tipton in the Colorado CD-3 Republican primary, is now getting the kind of scrutiny that congressional major-party nominees should always get.

And as the Daily Beast’s lede makes painfully clear today, it’s not going well:

In 2017, a Colorado restaurant’s tainted pork sliders poisoned dozens of attendees at a local rodeo, who came down with symptoms ranging from nausea to bloody diarrhea. Now the restaurant’s proprietor is running for Congress on her small-business-owner credentials…

The county health office began investigating, and quickly discovered that the event had been catered by “an unlicensed temporary retail food establishment associated with Shooters Grill.” The meat served there “was smoked at Smokehouse 1776, a retail food establishment located in downtown Rifle, Colorado across the street from Shooters Grill and owned by the same person.”

The main culprit was found to be the pork sliders, and those who ate them reported symptoms including bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and chills. Health authorities determined that the tainted pork was caused by “improper food safety practices of the unlicensed food providers.”

We took passing note back in May during Boebert’s battle to prematurely reopen the “COVID Cafe” of the reports back in 2017 that Boebert’s restaurant had sickened dozens of customers at a local rodeo where they were providing unlicensed food service. The prevalent local rumor was that some 80 people were afflicted with “Boebert’s Revenge,” also known as Clostridium perfringens, which causes a generally brief but exceedingly unpleasant condition readers know by such colloquial names as the “backdoor trots” or “Hershey squirts.”

Boebert herself denies the number of infected patrons was anywhere near that many, but we tend to think if you’re a restauranteur explaining exactly how many customers actually tested positive for Clostridium or not, you’re losing.

It’s just the tip of the iceberg, we’re told, for an unprepared candidate dreadfully out of her depth–but now that she’s the nominee in a district full of Republican voters no one can ignore, she’s sharing the stage with the biggest names in Colorado Republican politics. As was the scene yesterday in Fruita when Sen. Cory Gardner came calling for an obligatory photo-op with Colorado’s newest GOP luminary:

The time has come, for good or ill, for Republicans to pose like a team!

But everybody is responsible for their own meals.

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Hickenlooper or Gardner?

Sen. Cory Gardner and John Hickenlooper

We regularly offer up completely non-scientific polls here on Colorado Pols, and our wise readers are often pretty accurate in their estimations. Don’t believe us? Check out the results of last week’s poll on the predicted outcome of the Democratic Senate Primary.

Now that the 2020 Primary Election is in the books, it’s time to look ahead to November. Who is going to win Colorado’s marquee race? Senator Cory Gardner or former Governor John Hickenlooper?

As always, we want to know what you think will happen here — not what you want to happen or who you personally might support. If you had to place a bet — right now — on one of the following options, what would you select?

Click after the jump to cast your vote…

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (July 8)

Happy birthday to retired Chinese basketball player Wang Zhizhi! Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

► The United States has surpassed 3 million coronavirus cases.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling today that will finally make right-wing Republicans happy. From The Washington Post:

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration may allow employers and universities to opt out of the Affordable Care Act requirement to provide contraceptive care because of religious or moral objections.

The issue has been at the heart of an intense legal battle for nine years, first with the Obama administration sparring with religious organizations who said offering contraceptive care to their employees violated their beliefs, and then with the Trump administration broadening the exemption, angering women’s groups, health organizations and Democratic-led states.

Wednesday’s decision greatly expands the ability of employers to claim the exemption, and the government estimates that it could mean that 70,000 to 126,000 women could lose access to cost-free birth control.

And the Trump campaign wonders why female voters are abandoning him in droves.

There should be another big Supreme Court announcement on Thursday — whether or not congressional committees and a New York prosecutor should be allowed to see Trump’s personal financial records.

 

► President Trump says that any hesitancy to re-open schools in the fall is about trying to make him look bad, or something. Now he’s threatening to cut off federal aid for school districts that don’t just open up regardless of the health risks. Chris Cillizza of CNN thinks this is a bad move for Trump:

Via CNN (7/8/20)

“We don’t want people to make political statements or do it for political reasons,” said Trump. “They think it’s going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed. No way. So we’re very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools, to get them open.”

The “why” here is simple: Trump’s poll numbers — and chances at winning a second term this fall — have taken a huge hit as the country has turned on how the President and his administration have handled the ongoing pandemic. (Trump’s job approval was at just 38% in a new Gallup poll released earlier this week.) He desperately wants to kickstart the economy and needs people to feel as though they are returning to “normal,” and getting kids back to school is, he believes, one of the best ways to do just that.

The problem is that Trump is so focused on his political imperatives that he is losing sight of the bigger picture here: Forcing — or pressuring — schools to fully reopen will jeopardize the health of teachers and could well boomerang back on him from both a public health and political perspective.

Attempting to “force” schools to open could have a cascading effect that ends up “forcing” schools to close altogether:

…if a USA Today/Ipsos poll conducted in May is any indication, plenty of teachers will walk away from the profession rather than risk their health. That survey showed that 1 in 5 teachers said they would not return to the classroom if schools reopened in the fall, a number that could well cripple any attempts to reopen schools anyway.

The reality is that school opening decisions are made by governors and local officials, not the President of the United States. And, even if schools do reopen, it’s not at all clear that enough teachers will show up to make it feasible.

Earlier this week, Florida’s Education Commissioner announced that he would require all schools to be open for in-person learning five days a week.

 

Sticking with the subject of education, international students in Colorado are facing more questions than answers about resuming classes in the fall. From The Denver Post:

International students at Colorado universities are worried about their educational futures following a new directive from federal immigration officials that would require them to change schools or leave the country should their institution revert to full online learning this fall.

The new guidance is meant to encourage schools that closed their campuses and moved online due to the pandemic to physically reopen, Ken Cuccinelli, acting deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, said in a CNN interview Tuesday.

“If they don’t reopen this semester, there isn’t a reason for a person holding a student visa to be present in the country,” Cuccinelli said. “They should go home, and they can return when the school reopens.”

Tanya Roussy, a University of Colorado Boulder graduate student from Canada who is researching physics, said Tuesday that she felt it was “pretty clear with this government that cruelty is the point.”

 

You’re going to be reading a lot about businesses that received PPP loans from the federal government now that data has been made public. The list of businesses that received loans of at least $1 million is…frustrating.

Irony? Yeah, there’s that, too.

 

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

 

(more…)

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Casper Stockham’s “Mask Burning Challenge”–Yes, Really

Republican perennial congressional candidate Casper Stockham, presently serving as the GOP’s sacrificial lamb running against longtime Democratic incumbent Rep. Ed Perlmutter in suburban CD-7–not least for the paycheck he’s allowed to draw from his campaign contributions–has found his gimmick for 2020!

The “Mask Burning Challenge.” It’s just what it sounds like. Find a face mask, and instead of putting it on your face like the Deep State tells you to, burn that sucker! Paper or natural mask fibers are recommended for this demonstration of personal liberty, unless you like huffing plastic fumes. Some receptive to this message may be into that, it’s true.

And above all, pics or it didn’t happen freedom fighters:

Move over, Tide Pods! This is the now dumbest “challenge” on the internet.

As everyone even casually familiar with Casper Stockham knows, this over-the-top ridiculousness isn’t about going to Congress. Casper Stockham is never going to Congress. In fact, if Casper Stockham were to ever find himself with a serious chance of going to Congress, Republicans would intervene to stop it from happening.

But as was once famously said on the Titanic, we believe you may get your headlines Mr. Stockham.

They won’t be good headlines, but Stockham won’t know the difference.

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“Yosemite Samantha” Hires Crack Team Of Local Crackpots

Lauren Boebert (R-ifle).

Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports on news today from the campaign of surprise CD-3 Republican congressional nominee Lauren “Yosemite Samantha” Boebert, and Democrats who were worried Boebert’s campaign would find its professional footing after unexpectedly ousting incumbent Rep. Scott Tipton can relax, because that’s not happening:

Boebert, the restaurant owner and first-time candidate who defeated five-term U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton in the primary, has added lead policy advisor Kristi Burton Brown, finance director Shana Kohn Banberger and communications director Laura Carno to her team, her campaign said.

Carno told Colorado Politics that the campaign won’t have a traditional campaign manager but will instead be managed by a team…

A campaign by committee! That is the most small government-y thing we’ve heard all day.

Kristi Burton Brown, as readers know, is the young Republican activist best known for fronting the failed “Personhood” abortion ban measures in previous Colorado elections, and more recently serving as the Colorado Republican Party’s vice-chair–in which her most notable act was to file the disastrously ill-advised recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan that fell apart in disgrace last summer. Laura Carno is an unremarkable gun rights talking head out of Colorado Springs, whose glitterati days as a public face of the 2013 recalls faded into the rear view with the death of NRATV.

As for the “finance director?” Boebert will need to find some finances, yes. True that.

Although Luning gamely attempts to portray these hires as a sign of a formidable forthcoming campaign from Boebert, we’re inclined to see the opposite–a political neophyte taking terrible advice from our usual suspect crew of local losers. Let us know when the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) intervenes, because we suspect they’ll need to soon if they want to hold this once-safe seat.

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Pat Neville Compares Killing Elijah McClain To Super Glue

Colorado House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R).

Nell Salzman reports for Westword on a “debrief” webinar hosted by Colorado Christian University on the recently passed landmark legislation in Colorado tightening accountability for police who commit violent crimes of their own in the line of duty–featuring two local hard-right conservative public figures, Arapahoe County DA George Brauchler and GOP House Minority Leader Pat Neville.

Neville, who was in on initial discussions of the police-reform bill, said he wouldn’t have endorsed it without certain amendments, but he ultimately supported it, as did the vast majority of the state’s legislators. Even so, the law primarily addresses a “big-city” problem, he explained, adding that many of the state’s police departments won’t be affected by it. “Most of the police forces out there are doing what’s in this bill as passed,” he said. “By and large, if there were any issues, it was usually in Denver and Aurora, places like that.”

It’s not the first time that Neville has blown the “big city” or “urban” dog whistle in order to make his point that a given problem is faced by, you know, “others.” Like Neville’s mistaken racist supposition about where COVID-19 was hitting hardest in the state, with the highest case rates actually occurring in rural and agricultural areas, Neville is wrong about where police brutality happens too. It happens everywhere.

As bad as that is, Neville managed to make it even worse:

Neville, too, said he’s bothered by the power of political pressure. Back in January, he noted, protesters interrupted the governor’s State of the State speech and the Denver district attorney decided not to prosecute them. How, he asked, is this different from not prosecuting the Aurora police officers involved in the Elijah McClain case? [Pols emphasis]

“We like to criticize Dave Young [DA for the 17th District] for not prosecuting, but then on the other hand we see when Beth McCann, a liberal DA, doesn’t prosecute people for a crime, they’re cheering that,” he said. “It’s rather disturbing.”

Minority Leader Neville is referring to a brief and nonviolent (though admittedly noisy) protest that occurred during Gov. Jared Polis’ State of the State Address back in January. A total of 33 people were arrested in that incident for chanting slogans from the gallery in opposition to human-caused climate change. The closest this came to a violent act was one individual who super glued his own hands together around the gallery railing, necessitating a stern yank from a state trooper to separate them. Because the protesters in most cases spent the night in jail for their trouble, Denver DA Beth McCann decided they had been sufficiently punished.

This is where we realize with no small amount of revulsion that the Republican leader of the Colorado House has just equated the killing of Elijah McClain by Aurora police, which has sparked nationwide controversy and helped inspire Colorado’s new law to combat police brutality, with a nonviolent political stunt pulled by a few climate activists during a political speech. Whether you’re a Black Lives Matter activist or a civil liberties-loving Rand Paul Republican, the comparison is so outrageous that it would be laughable–that is, had it not been claimed in all seriousness by one of the state’s highest ranking elected Republican officials.

All we can say is, it requires a deeply twisted view of the world for this to make any sense.

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (July 7)

There is no coronavirus. There is no coronavirus. There is no coronavirus. [Opens eyes] Shit, there is still coronavirus. Let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

BECAUSE CORONAVIRUS…

*Colorado Coronavirus info:
CDPHE Coronavirus website 

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

*How you can help in Colorado:
COVRN.com

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

 

► Experts say that we are still in the first phase of the coronavirus outbreak because we have not yet reached a point of lower infection rates — and that first phase is still raging. Melbourne, Australia (the country’s second-largest city with 5 million residents) is locking down for another six weeks in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. The United States might not be far behind. As The Washington Post reports:

Hospitals across the Sun Belt continue to be inundated with coronavirus patients, with Arizona reaching 89 percent capacity for intensive care unit beds on Monday, as Alabama, California, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas also reported unprecedented numbers of hospitalizations. For the 28th day in a row, the country’s rolling seven-day average of daily new cases shattered all previous records, although the number of deaths has remained relatively stable.

The United States is “still knee deep in the first wave” of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Monday. Unlike Europe, “we never came down to baseline and now are surging back up.”

At least 2,926,000 coronavirus cases and 127,000 deaths have been reported nationwide since February. The Trump administration hopes that Americans will grow inured to the growing death toll and accept the tens of thousands of new cases being reported each day as the new reality, three people familiar with the White House’s thinking told The Washington Post. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Meanwhile, CNN reports that even longtime Trump allies are privately admitting that people should be wearing masks everywhere they go:

Three months after reversing course and recommending masks — a move officials later conceded was confusing and awkward — top Republicans and allies of the President are only now coming to the realization that mask-wearing will be an essential element to containing a still-raging pandemic. [Pols emphasis]

White House officials are discussing taking a more active role in encouraging masks as they shift to a strategy of preparing Americans to live long-term with the virus. After appearing at a string of events without social distancing and where masks were scarce, Trump’s campaign said Sunday it would host a New Hampshire campaign rally where attendees will be “provided a face mask that they are strongly encouraged to wear.”

Yet Trump’s willingness to shift personally on the issue is far from clear. While he likened himself to the “Lone Ranger” on one of the few occasions he wore a mask in private, he has not used his powerful social media platforms to encourage his supporters to do the same. And in meetings with advisers, Trump has stated that more strenuous calls to wear masks might send the wrong message as he attempts to move on from the virus.

So, let’s see if we can parse out this logic: If we ignore the coronavirus, it will go away…which is why we can’t wear masks, because then the coronavirus would know that we aren’t really ignoring it? Don’t make eye contact with COVID-19!!!

And since we’re on the topic of ignoring the coronavirus, here’s an interesting bit of news via POLITICO:

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for Covid-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity.

Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and speaking to reporters in capital Brasilia.

 

► President Trump seems to be dead-set on playing only to his base as he gears up for the last few months of his re-election campaign. But as Chris Cillizza writes for CNN, this makes absolutely no sense:

What Trump is doing at the moment — judging from the Gallup numbers — is running a very effective primary campaign. He is consolidating his base behind him using fear and overt racial appeals. (Trump’s tweets on Monday calling on NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace to apologize are the latest evidence of that purposeful weaponizing of race.)

The problem, of course, is that Trump doesn’t have a primary problem. He has a general election problem. And by running a primary when a general election is what’s called for, Trump is making it harder and harder for himself to ever make the turn to a more traditional general-election strategy of outreach and inclusion.

Why? Why cut off your nose to spite your face? Because Trump can’t help himself.

As for those new Gallup numbers, Trump’s approval rating is holding steady at a not-so-robust 38%.

 

Faithless electors, repent! As The Denver Post reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that states can require electors to vote for the winner of the state’s popular vote for president in the Electoral College.

The decision was made based on two cases — one in Colorado and one in Washington State.

Delivering the court’s reasoning for both cases in Chiafalo v. Washington, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that nothing in the U.S. Constitution prevents states from punishing so-called faithless electors — members of the Electoral College who don’t vote in accordance with the people of their state. Justice Sonia Sotomayor recused herself from the Colorado decision because of her friendship with Colorado elector Polly Baca.

 

You’re going to be reading a lot about businesses that received PPP loans from the federal government now that data has been made public. The list of businesses that received loans of at least $1 million is…frustrating.

Irony? Yeah, there’s that, too.

 

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

 

(more…)

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The End Is Near for the Neville Clan

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville’s collar grows ever tighter.

Last week’s Primary Election was an anti-climactic affair at the top of the ticket, but the rest of the ballot told a very interesting story. As we wrote last week, significant Republican Primary losses portend another GOP wipeout in Colorado come November, and the fallout could lead to the last gasps of the Neville Clan.

Rumors are growing that House Minority Leader Patrick Neville could be in danger of losing control of the GOP caucus after another poor showing at the polls last week. State Rep. Hugh McKean is now in a strong position to challenge Neville for Minority Leader after victories on Tuesday by Colin Larsen (HD-22), Tonya Van Beber (HD-48), Mike Lynch (Hd-49), and Dan Woog (HD-63) — all of whom defeated candidates backed by the Neville Clan and their close friends at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO). The Nevilles and RMGO also lost badly in SD-23, where their support of Rupert Parchment wasn’t enough to stop Barbara Kirkmeyer from cruising to a double-digit victory.

Our back-of-the-napkin math shows Neville with only seven remaining supporters among House Republicans, equal to the seven GOP House members who would likely side with McKean. Depending on how the General Election shakes out, that leaves about 8 Republican Representatives to determine the 2021-22 leadership battle. This could be a significant moment for Colorado Republicans, because a good number of their recent failures can be attributed directly to decisions made by the Neville Clan.

The Neville family have been fixtures in Colorado Republican politics for much of the last decade, beginning with State Sen. Tim “Pa” Neville’s narrow victory in Jefferson County in 2014. Tim Neville is the father of Pat Neville and GOP political consultant Joe Neville, whose consulting firm Rearden Strategic has overseen many Republican races in recent years (Tim Neville is also the brother-in-law of former Jefferson County School Board Member Julie Williams, whose brief run in Jeffco was a disaster all its own).

Sen. Cory Gardner and former state Sen. Tim Neville, circa 2015.

Tim Neville quickly rose to the top of the Republican food chain in Colorado as a conservative social issue warrior, becoming the de-facto leader of the Senate Republican caucus in the state legislature (Neville was basically the Senate President at one point) and a bonafide contender for statewide office. He looked to be on his way to becoming the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in 2015, and by Spring 2016 he seemed to be accumulating enough support to take the top line at the State GOP Convention.

But Tim Neville’s political demise was as swift as his ascent. Colorado Republicans held their state assembly in April 2016, and Neville completely bombed, losing to little-known Darryl Glenn by a 4-to-1 margin. Neville then turned his attention toward running for re-election to the State Senate in 2018, where he was out-worked by Democrat Tammy Story en route to a 14-point loss that contributed to Republicans losing majority control of the state senate. Neville later blamed his defeat on poor campaign strategies enacted by outside groups, which was ironic considering how his son’s strategic blunders torpedoed GOP chances around the state in that same cycle.

Tim Neville was actually preceded in the state legislature by Patrick, who was elected to the State House in 2014 and became House Minority Leader following the 2016 election. Together the Nevilles championed the causes of anti-abortion activists, gun lovers, anti-vaxxers and opponents of a functioning government. With Joe Neville overseeing the outside political operations for many Republican candidates — and with financial support from RMGO head honcho Dudley Brown — the Neville Clan kept the State Capitol stocked with loyal but questionable characters such as former State Reps. Justin Everett and Tim Leonard. You might remember Leonard as the only person in recent history to serve time in jail while a sitting member of the legislature; the Leonard debacle paved the way for Democrats to take control of what had long been a safe Republican seat in 2018.

The 2018 election cycle was a pivotal year for Colorado Republicans who were TROUNCED in races across the board — many of which were overseen by the Nevilles and/or Rearden Strategic. One particularly pathetic effort in Jefferson County exemplified the poor return on investment that 2018 candidates received from Rearden Strategic.

Pat Neville has been driving the COVID-19 Stupidity Train in recent months.

Despite those heavy losses, Neville retained enough caucus support to keep his post as Minority Leader, but the cracks were starting to show. A few months later, Marianne Goodland of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman reported on grumblings about the Neville’s dubious political strategy and a generous payout structure for Rearden Strategic.

Last year, the Neville Clan followed up their poor 2018 by directing misguided efforts to raise money from gullible donors in a feeble attempt to recall multiple Democratic elected officials. Warning signs should have been apparent to the GOP after a questionable decision to go after Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan left the Nevilles and RMGO with mostly egg on their sad faces.

This time last year, we wondered again how Neville still managed to remain House Minority Leader despite a consistent record of incompetence. The 2020 legislative session didn’t help Neville’s cause, and the June Primary exposed yet another rift between Neville and Colorado Republicans — many of whom were tired of a heavy-handed approach that included Neville’s Chief of Staff, Jim Pfaff, regularly threatening other Republicans.

Colorado Republicans aren’t going to take control of the State House in 2020, and it is also unlikely that they will wrestle away the State Senate from Democrats. But if this is the year that the GOP finally rejects the influence of the Neville Clan, then perhaps Republicans can start to creep back toward relevance in 2022.

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Everybody Loves Ken Salazar, Who Loves Joe Biden

Ken Salazar with former President Barack Obama.

Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports on a familiar face back in action with presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s campaign on the summertime upswing:

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign has named former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as a co-chair of the presumptive Democratic nominee’s Latino Leadership Committee.

Salazar, a former U.S. senator and Colorado attorney general, was an early endorser of the former vice president’s White House bid. He joins fellow Obama cabinet alum former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis heading the campaign group, the Biden campaign said…

The other Colorado members are former Denver Mayor Federico Peña, who served as secretary of energy and transportation in the Clinton administration; state Senate President Leroy Gracia, D-Pueblo; and state Rep. Bri Buentello, D-Pueblo.

Former Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado on the stump for Biden is like getting the band back together again, and naturally invites speculation about whether Salazar might be tapped to serve in President Biden’s Cabinet–at Interior or another role for which Colorado’s “senior Salazar” would be well qualified. Back in 2016, before our universe veered off on this bizarre alternate timeline in which Donald Trump is President, Salazar was picked by then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton to head what would have been Clinton’s presidential transition team.

Here’s a political mulligan we think history will allow.

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Supremes Crush Dreams of Colorado’s “Faithless Electors”

UPDATE: Statements from Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold and Attorney General Phil Weiser:

Secretary of State Jena Griswold:

“Today’s unanimous decision by the United States Supreme Court reaffirms the fundamental right to vote of every American and ensures that when we cast a vote for President of the United States, our voices will be heard. The will of a few unelected presidential electors should never supersede the will of the people, and today’s landmark decision rightly protects Americans’ right to vote and to self-governance. The fact that the Justices were unanimous in their decision further illustrates their realization that electors not bound to the will of the people needlessly opens up our entire election system to corruption and outside influence. I applaud the Court’s decision and am thankful that the Justices were willing to hear the case and make a determination in time for the 2020 General Election, which will give every voter the peace of mind that they will have say in who gets elected to be our nation’s next president.”

Attorney General Phil Weiser:

“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously affirmed that the States, and the States alone, have the exclusive authority to appoint and, if necessary, remove presidential electors when they violate their pledges. The Court’s historic opinion ensures that presidential electors will follow State law when they cast their Electoral College ballots in presidential elections and not act as free agents. With this issue decided before the 2020 election, we can avoid uncertainty, chaos, and confusion in the Electoral College, and protect our nation’s democratic principles and system of stable governance.”

—–

Colorado “faithless elector” Micheal Baca.

The Denver Post reports on a unanimous 9-0 smackdown delivered by the U.S. Supreme Court to Colorado’s “faithless electors,” overturning a lower court ruling that threatened chaos in the upcoming presidential elections and helping ensure that the nation’s creaky Electoral College system holds together:

In the unanimous decision based on a Colorado case, Justice Elena Kagan wrote that nothing in the U.S. Constitution prevents states from punishing so-called faithless electors — members of the Electoral College who do not vote in accordance with the people of their state.

The decision comes four months before the next presidential election.

Colorado’s case concerned several electors who tried to vote for Republican John Kasich instead of Hillary Clinton — the state’s winner — in 2016 in an effort to keep Donald Trump from becoming president. One of the electors, Micheal Baca, was punished for his dissension.

Baca and his attorneys had argued the state had no power to punish members of the Electoral College, who are free agents with the power to vote for whomever they choose. When the case was argued before justices May 13, two questioned whether Baca could have voted for Frodo Baggins or a giraffe is he wanted to.

Former Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams was severely exercised over the effrontery of Colorado’s “faithless electors,” and today’s decision certainly represents a vindication for Williams on this matter as well as his Democratic successor who agreed on the question of whether electors could be replaced, locked up, etc. if they refuse to carry out their sworn responsibility. A contagion of faithlessness that might have arisen after the practice was legitimized would have piled yet another destabilizing factor on an already very contentious election, so everyone who comes down on the order side of the essential order versus chaos debate can breathe a sigh of relief.

With that said, the unanimous decision to provide certainty to this one component of the Electoral College shouldn’t be interpreted as a unanimous endorsement of the entire undemocratic system, which delivered Donald Trump to the White House in 2016 despite losing the national popular vote by unprecedented millions. We’re still talking about the mechanics of a system meant to unequally weight the votes of supposedly equal Americans, and that system in a much more general sense is up for a vote this November in Colorado.

If “faithless electors” endanger democracy, let’s apply the same test to the Electoral College as a whole.

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Americans Will Stop Worrying And Love The COVID?

Donald Trump.

According to the Washington Post, President Donald Trump’s strategy for managing the political fallout of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is now pretty rudimentary:

The goal is to convince Americans that they can live with the virus — that schools should reopen, professional sports should return, a vaccine is likely to arrive by the end of the year and the economy will continue to improve.

White House officials also hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day, [Pols emphasis] according to three people familiar with the White House’s thinking, who requested anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Americans will “live with the virus being a threat,” in the words of one of those people, a senior administration official.

There’s a time-honored validity to this assumption as horrifying as it may sound at first blush: much like America eventually became “numb” to Trump’s almost daily deluge of disqualifying statements and actions as President, the “hope” is that perhaps they’ll get to the same place of resignation about the pandemic’s death toll. For those keeping score, yes, that’s the same pandemic Trump assured us was over before it even began, and has now killed and infected more Americans than any other nation on Earth.

The strategy does work. At length, it does become difficult to find fresh words to describe the horror.

We can’t wait to hear what Sen. Cory Gardner thinks of this, knowing we most likely never will.

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