Get More Smarter on Friday (May 14)

On this day in 1796, the first person was inoculated against smallpox.  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. 

 

Get vaccinated and you can get back to normal. As The New York Times explains:

“We have all longed for this moment,” Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said as she announced the shift at a White House news conference on Thursday. “If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

Fully vaccinated people are still told to cover their faces when flying or taking public transit, when visiting health care facilities, and in congregate settings like prisons and homeless shelters.

The recommendations came as a surprise to many people in public health. They offered a stark contrast with the views of a large majority of epidemiologists surveyed in the last two weeks by The New York Times, who said that until many more Americans were vaccinated, there would be too many chances for vaccines, which are not 100 percent effective, to fail…

…On Thursday, the governors of New Jersey, New York, North Carolina and Virginia, and the mayors of New York City and Washington, D.C., all Democrats, said that they were taking the new guidance under advisement before adopting it. Los Angeles County also said that it and the State of California were reviewing the new guidelines. In deference to local authorities, the C.D.C. said vaccinated people must continue to abide by existing state, local or tribal laws and regulations, and to follow local rules for businesses and workplaces.

The Denver Post reports on how Colorado is reacting to the new CDC guidance:

Colorado’s mask mandate is going to change in the near future to align with new federal guidance that says vaccinated people can safely go without masks in most indoor settings, a spokeswoman for Gov. Jared Polis said Thursday afternoon…

…The new guidance issued Thursday doesn’t have the force of law, so states, counties and other governments will have to decide how they want to respond. It also doesn’t suggest policies for public settings, where vaccinated and unvaccinated people mix.

Meanwhile, Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) says that receiving a COVID-19 vaccine is equivalent to the “mark of the beast” from Revelations.

In a related story, CNN reports that Congressional Democrats have a 100% vaccination rate.

 

Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) is being sued by a former staffer and Marine Corps veteran for promoting an unsafe working environment and forcing staffers to run personal errands for he and his wife. The lawsuit also claims that Lamborn has been allowing his son to live in a utility closet in the basement of the U.S. Capitol.

POLITICO has more on what is shaping up to be a serious problem for Lamborn:

“Well, I don’t care about you guys getting it.” That’s what Rep. Doug Lamborn (R–Colo.) allegedly told a staffer in October 2020, right after discovering that his Capitol Hill office was turning into a hotbed of Covid-19 infections.

It’s one of the many eye-popping accusations in a new lawsuit filed Thursday afternoon in the District Court for the District of Columbia by Brandon Pope, a former Lamborn staffer who says he vocally pushed back on what he called the congressman’s “reckless and dangerous approach” to the pandemic — and was fired for it.

The lawsuit claims that Lamborn ignored congressional pandemic protocols and endangered his own staff, mocked aides who wanted to wear masks, forced staffers to show up for work in person and dismissed social-distancing guidelines. Eventually, those actions resulted in “widespread transmission of the virus throughout both the district and Washington DC offices,” the lawsuit states, leading both offices to shutter for a time.

 

Colorado lawmakers are continuing debate on SB-200, legislation that would lay out specific guidelines for meeting emissions-reduction goals, despite a veto threat from Gov. Jared Polis. As Judith Kohler reports for The Denver Post, a new report should make it harder for Polis to justify a potential veto:

A new report says Colorado will fall drastically short of its goals for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions without more ambitious targets and enforceable limits on pollution, a feature of a bill in the legislature that has Gov. Jared Polis threatening a veto.

The analysis released Friday by Energy Innovation and RMI, formerly Rocky Mountain Institute, says their modeling projects Colorado’s overall emissions will drop from 2005 levels by just 3.4% by 2030 and only 18% by 2050. That’s a long way from the goals of at least 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050 set by a 2019 law and in the “Colorado Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Roadmap” issued by Polis in January.

The state law includes the near-term goal of a 26% decline in emissions by 2025. Supporters of Senate Bill 21-200 say the specific limits on emissions in the new bill are intended to build upon the objectives set by previous legislation and the governor’s road map.

“Our climate goals are only as strong as our plans to execute them. This bill takes Gov. Polis’ climate goals and works to ensure that his plan happens,” said Kelly Nordini, executive director of Conservation Colorado. “If the governor’s team has another way of building more certainty into their road map, we’d love to hear that.”

 
Let’s get caught up on more news from the state legislature, which has about one month left in the 2021 session…

The Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition is calling on Gov. Polis to veto HB-1051.

Colorado Public Radio looks at a long list of transgressions included in new legislation aimed at reforming Colorado’s misdemeanor offenses.

RealVail.com updates on the progress of legislation to fund much-needed transportation infrastructure repairs in Colorado.

The Colorado Sun reports on the advancement of legislation aimed at helping immigrants. In a separate story, the Sun looks at a bill that seeks to require more transparency in how companies track their employees.

The Pueblo Chieftain reports on a positive reception for a media literacy bill in Colorado.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Lamborn Sued by Former Staffer for Long List of Complaints

FRIDAY UPDATE: This story from POLITICO makes Lamborn look really bad:

“Well, I don’t care about you guys getting it.” That’s what Rep. Doug Lamborn (R–Colo.) allegedly told a staffer in October 2020, right after discovering that his Capitol Hill office was turning into a hotbed of Covid-19 infections. [Pols emphasis]

It’s one of the many eye-popping accusations in a new lawsuit filed Thursday afternoon in the District Court for the District of Columbia by Brandon Pope, a former Lamborn staffer who says he vocally pushed back on what he called the congressman’s “reckless and dangerous approach” to the pandemic — and was fired for it…

…Pope — a Marine veteran who started with Lamborn as a Wounded Warrior fellow before being promoted to defense policy adviser — claims in the suit that early in the pandemic, he raised safety concerns to a superior. He suggested teleworking or at least some social distancing in the office after hearing from colleagues who were worried about the health risks of in-person work because of immunocompromised family members. Those suggestions were ignored, Pope says.

According to Pope’s lawsuit, early on in the pandemic, when most congressional offices moved to remote work, Lamborn insisted that his staff continue to operate in-person — allegedly saying that he would not allow House leadership to dictate how he ran his office, and “belittl[ing] any staffer who raised health-related concerns.” When Pope suggested that one staffer with health conditions at least be afforded a “zip wall” to limit exposure to other staff, Lamborn denied those requests.

—–

Definitely a red face day for Rep. Doug Lamborn.

We don’t normally spend a lot of time in this space talking about Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) for obvious reasons. Even though Lamborn has represented CO-05 since 2007, he doesn’t tend to DO anything aside from popping his head up now and then to fire off strange Tweets or pen nonsensical Op-Eds. People in Colorado Springs generally acknowledge that Lamborn is about as useful as a wooden saw.

Thus, if we’re talking about Lamborn here, it’s usually because of something that is not particularly flattering to the eight-term Congressman. Today is no exception.

As NBC News in Washington D.C. reports, Lamborn is being sued by a former staff member for generally being a pretty terrible boss:

The suit alleges the congressman flouted U.S. House safety rules, ignored warnings about unsafe conditions, and required staff to provide personal favors and tasks for the congressman’s family.

The suit also accuses the congressman of sleeping in his congressional office in D.C. after he knew his staffers were exposed to the coronavirus.

The lawsuit also said the congressman allowed his son to live in a storage space in the basement of the Capitol for weeks when his son was relocating to Washington.

In the suit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, former Lamborn military aide Brandon Pope claims he was the victim of retaliation for “seeking to protect employees from unsafe conditions in the workplace.”

Yikes! Where do we even start unpacking this story? The foundation of the lawsuit seems to be that Lamborn refused to allow his employees to wear masks or to take social distancing measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This doesn’t seem unlikely given Lamborn’s dismissive public comments about the pandemic. As The Denver Post reported in October 2020:

Two members of U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn’s Washington, D.C., staff have tested positive for COVID-19, staffers of the Colorado Springs Republican confirmed to The Denver Post on Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile, Lamborn is back in Colorado attending fundraisers and refusing to take a test himself, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. [Pols emphasis]

A few weeks later, Lamborn’s office confirmed that the Congressman was indeed infected with the COVID virus that he didn’t believe existed. Former aide Brandon Pope, who filed the lawsuit, alleges that he was fired after speaking out upon contracting COVID-19 in November.

The lawsuit against Lamborn also contains some interesting accusations about staffers being forced to run personal errands for Lamborn and his wife and being required to buy Christmas gifts for the couple. And then there’s that particularly strange line about how Lamborn “allowed” his son, Luke, to live in a storage space in the basement of the U.S. Capitol.

Brick Tamland and Doug Lamborn (or vice-versa)

Here’s how Lamborn is responding, according to The Denver Post:

Lamborn, from Colorado Springs, issued a statement through his spokeswoman Cassandra Sebastian: “The workplace safety allegations made by Mr. Pope are unsubstantiated and did not result in the termination of his employment. Congressman Lamborn looks forward to full vindication as all facts come to light.”

Lamborn’s seat in CO-05 has been fairly safe ever since he was first elected in 2006, though plenty of Republicans have tried to unseat him in Primary elections. Lamborn has always managed to survive politically with the bare minimum effort — he raised a little over $5,000 TOTAL in Q1 2021 — because he is fairly boring and does just enough work on behalf of the powerful military interests in his district.

But Lamborn is also not particularly well-liked among fellow Republicans and Members of Congress. There won’t be a long line of people queuing up to show their support if Lamborn’s troubles escalate, and that’s where this lawsuit could be a real problem: It gives Republican voters a tangible reason to back a different horse in 2022. Lamborn probably SHOULD be on his way out of Congress after 16+ years of unremarkable representation in Colorado Springs — particularly if the allegations in this lawsuit are true.

Could you do worse than having Lamborn in Congress? That’s debatable, but you could definitely do a lot better.

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Mark Of The Beast, Anyone?

Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R).

If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading Revelations chapter 13, here’s the Bible passage Rep. Lauren Boebert is referring to in the New International Version:

16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads,

17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. [Pols emphasis]

18 This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast,  for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.

Just so we’re clear what’s happening here, this is an elected member of Congress from Colorado seriously suggesting that the choice of wearing a mask or getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is tantamount to what End Times-believing evangelical Christians call “The Mark of the Beast.” For those of you who don’t know the story, that’s as bad as it gets if you believe in the book of Revelations. Anyone who wants you to “take the Mark” works pretty much directly for Satan at this point in the story and if you do take the Mark, it’s lake of fire for you no matter how pious a person you may have been in life. If you die or otherwise suffer persecution because you don’t have the Mark it’s all good, because Jesus is coming back soon afterward to Armageddon things right.

If you’re one of the millions of faithful Christians who has either been vaccinated or wear a mask to protect yourself and others until you are or the pandemic ends, apparently you’re in the service of the devil now! Sorry about that, we don’t make the rules.

In an era of American when nothing seems able to shock the conscience anymore, we’re taken aback once again. It’s not that this kind of talk is new. It’s that it’s coming from Congress, and speaking for Colorado.

That is indeed scary.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 13)

Happy Rotuma Day. Please celebrate responsibly. 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. 

 

 A bunch of former Republican elected officials and Party officers are speaking out against the GOP and pledging to do…something in the wake of the ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney from House leadership on Wednesday. From an Op-Ed in The Washington Post:

The Republican Party made a grievous error this week in ousting Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.) from the House leadership for telling the truth about Donald Trump’s “big lie,” which has wreaked havoc in our democratic republic by casting doubt over the 2020 election.

Cheney rightfully struck back against party leaders and warned about the GOP’s dangerous direction. She is not alone.

Alongside dozens of prominent Republicans, ex-Republicans and independents, we are announcing “A Call for American Renewal,” a nationwide rallying cry against extremist elements within the GOP, and highlighting the urgent need for a new, common-sense coalition.

We urge fellow Americans to join us.

Former Republican Rep. Cole Wist, once the assistant minority leader for the House GOP, is among the local Colorado Republicans joining this cause. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) is not a signatory of the letter, though he did vocally oppose efforts to remove Cheney.

Meanwhile, Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post reports on the ultimate in irony from Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert, who voted to oust Cheney:

“Liz Cheney, she has taken her eyes off the prize,” Boebert told Breitbart News. “Instead of focusing on passing conservative policies, she focused on media hits.” [Pols emphasis]

And then there’s Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), who may not have even understood what was happening on Wednesday:

Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Colorado Springs Republican, did not say how he voted in a statement. Instead, he praised Cheney as “a strong conservative” and “a crucial voice for national security” but said her ouster was about “supporting the will of our voters.” He also blamed the news media for dividing Republicans.

 

As Jennifer Rubin writes for The Washington Post, the exodus from the Republican Party is underway. The New York Times voices similar Republican concerns, while NBC News has more from Rep. Cheney herself:

“It’s a scary thing,” Cheney said in an exclusive interview with NBC’s “TODAY” co-host Savannah Guthrie when asked how Republicans who chose not to remove her from leadership in February supported doing so on Wednesday.

“For reasons that I don’t understand, leaders in my party have decided to embrace the former president who launched that attack,” Cheney said in the interview, which aired Thursday. “And I think you’ve watched over the course of the last several months, the former president get more aggressive, more vocal, pushing the lie.”

 

Tensions in Israel are reaching a boiling point, as The New York Times explains:

Clashes between Arab and Jewish mobs on the streets of Israeli cities have given way to warnings from Israeli leaders that the decades-old conflict could be careening toward a civil war. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the scenes of arson and violence as “anarchy” and appealed for an end to “lynchings.”

When Mr. Netanyahu visited the town of Lod, a mixed Jewish-Arab city, on Thursday, he said that the violence there was motivated by nationalistic rioters and that soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces could be brought in.

“There is no greater threat now than these riots, and it is essential to bring back law and order with these means,” he said. Riot control measures such as water cannons and administrative arrests may also be used, he said. The police have put strict measures in place in Lod, limiting entry into the city from 5 p.m. and instituting an 8 p.m. curfew…

…Israel carried out more airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza, where the death toll rose on Thursday to 83 people since the fighting began early this week, according to the Gaza health ministry. Palestinian militants fired volleys of rockets that reached far into Israel, where seven have died since Monday.

 

Let’s get caught up on news from the state legislature:

Governor Jared Polis will sign three new bills into law today: SB21-167  (Regulation Of Child Care Centers); SB21-013 (Reversing COVID-related Learning Loss); and SB21-059 (Juvenile Justice Code Reorganization).

Lawmakers will not stop Colorado businesses from requiring employees to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. Democrats rejected an effort from Republicans to mandate that the state interfere in private business matters.

As The Colorado Sun reports, lawmakers are advancing legislation that would increase the punishment for threatening an elected official in Colorado.

The big health care bill moving through the state legislature could ultimately deliver Coloradans the lowest insurance premiums in the country.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Pay Attention To Me, AOC!

Reps. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Lauren Boebert.

As the Washington Post reports via The Hill, freshman Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia’s quest to make working class white America look as bad as possible in the eyes of the rest of the world continues with another trademark walk-up accosting–this time targeting Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez of New York, in hope of provoking a verbal sparring match that might miscast them as intellectual equals:

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) office is calling on top lawmakers to ensure that Congress remains “a safe, civil place” for members and staff after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) reportedly accosted her on Wednesday and accused her of supporting “terrorists.”

The incident was witnessed by two Washington Post reporters, according to the newspaper, which reported that Ocasio-Cortez exited the House chamber before Greene shouted “Hey Alexandria” multiple times to get her attention.

Ocasio-Cortez did not stop to address Greene, and the Georgia lawmaker continued shouting while asking her why she supports antifa and Black Lives Matter, claiming they are “terrorist” groups, according to the Post.

Marjorie Taylor Greene harassing Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg.

As she amply demonstrated in her stalking of encounter with a survivor of the Parkland, Florida school shooting outside Congress in 2019, MTG simply doesn’t understand how these kinds of random confrontations in informal settings leaves her as the only party looking bad. There is of course an audience for this kind of boorish behavior, enough to sustain MTG’s ego while she treats left-wing luminaries this way, but to a majority of people including plenty of conservatives she’s just a terrible ambassador for her own cause.

Then this morning as controversy raged over yesterday’s incident, MTG’s “Q-some Twosome” wingperson Rep. Lauren Boebert swooped in to lay down some cover fire:

That appears to be the formula, just like with David Hogg: MTG does the in-person heckling, and Boebert follows on with trollbait for her vast social media following. The whole objective is to keep their names in circulation opposite the GOP’s most vilified boogeywoman of color in elected office–or at least AOC was until Kamala Harris became vice president. By harassing objectively much more qualified colleagues (this is the polite way of saying it) in hallways and on the Twitters, Boebert and MTG hope to bully their way to parity.

The old saying has never been more true than in this case: don’t feed the trolls.

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Republicans Announce Legislation Proving They Aren’t Racist

Here’s a pretty fair assumption that can apply to most situations: Whenever you find both Rep. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene standing behind a podium in front of the U.S. Capitol, it’s a safe bet that they aren’t talking about something good.

Via NBC News

 

On Wednesday, Boebert and MTG joined fellow Republican white people like North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop at a news conference to talk about why there is no way you could call them racist. As NBC News reports:

A group of House Republicans on Wednesday took recent attacks on critical race theory a step further by introducing a pair of bills to ban diversity training for federal employees and the military.

Some 30 GOP representatives have signed on to support both the Combatting Racist Training in the Military Act and the Stop CRT Act, Rep. Dan Bishop of North Carolina said at a news conference in Washington.

The first bill is a companion to legislation introduced by Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas that aims to prohibit teaching “Anti-American and racist theories” such as critical race theory at any academic institution related to the U.S. Armed Forces. The Stop CRT Act works to codify former President Donald Trump’s executive order banning diversity and racial equity training for federal employees — an order President Joe Biden reversed in January.

These federal efforts follow legislation in several states to pre-emptively ban “critical race theory” (CRT), including a fairly substantial bill that just passed in Texas.

Boebert herself spoke at today’s event, which went about as well as you would expect:

From the “Combatting Racist Training in the American Military Act of 2021”

Via “The Recount,” here’s what Boebert had to say today:

Our children are so valuable. Their future is so valuable. And we can not lose it to something like this racist, critical race theory.

Racist Democrats have always been after our children. They pushed for segregation in schools in the ’60s. And now they’re pushing this critical race theory in our schools, which is nothing more than modern day racism. Democrats want to teach our children to hate each other. [Pols emphasis]

“Racist Democrats…pushed for segregation in schools in the ’60s.” We’re not going to bother with explaining why Boebert is WAYYYY off in this regard. It would be a bigger story, in fact, if Boebert actually understood her American History correctly. That discussion, and a broader dive into CRT, is a different post for a different day. In the meantime, here’s a decent explainer on the back and forth of Critical Race Theory from CNN.

For today, we just wanted to point out that Boebert and a handful of other nitwits in her caucus would like you to know that “all men are created equal” because the Declaration of Independence said so and that’s the way it is and pfffttt if you try to argue otherwise.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 12)

Happy Birthday to Gov. Jared Polis, who is 46 years old today. 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 had been expected, House Republicans voted on Wednesday to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) from caucus leadership ranks for the crime of refusing to pretend that Donald Trump actually won the 2020 Presidential election. As The Washington Post reports:

The voice vote to remove her as chair of the House Republican Conference underscored that the party will not tolerate disagreements with Trump, whose active support many argue is needed for the party to win the House majority in the 2022 midterm election.

Cheney, 54, has called her decision to publicly fight Trump a matter of principle, warning that allowing him to falsely claim that the election was stolen amounts to an attack on Democracy and is destructive to the GOP and its values.

“If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person, you have plenty of others to choose from. That will be their legacy,” Cheney told her Republican colleagues Wednesday morning, according to a person familiar with her remarks who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private meeting. “But I promise you this, after today, I will be leading the fight to restore our party and our nation to conservative principles, to defeating socialism, to defending our republic, to making the GOP worthy again of being the party of Lincoln.”

We don’t yet know the results of the voice vote, though it’s safe to assume that Colorado Reps. Lauren “Q*Bert” Boebert (R-ifle) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) voted to oust Cheney. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) appears to have been one of the few dissenting Republican voices on removing Cheney. Said Buck, “Liz Cheney was cancelled today for speaking her mind.”

As Thomas Friedman writes for The New York Times, this is a very big deal:

It is hard to accept that this is happening in today’s America, but it is.

If House Republicans follow through on their plan to replace Cheney, it will not constitute the end of American democracy as we’ve known it, but there is a real possibility we’ll look back on May 12, 2021, as the beginning of the end — unless enough principled Republicans can be persuaded to engineer an immediate, radical course correction in their party.

 

It wasn’t that long ago that Liz Cheney was hosting a fundraiser for Lauren Boebert:

 

In related news, The Associated Press reports that Senate Republicans are pushing back against Democrat efforts to ensure fair elections:

Republicans in the U.S. Senate mounted an aggressive case against Democrats’ sweeping election and voter-access legislation, pushing to roll back proposals for automatic registration, 24-hour ballot drop boxes and other changes in an increasingly charged national debate.

The legislation, a top priority of Democrats in the aftermath of the divisive 2020 election, would bring about the largest overhaul of U.S. voting in a generation, touching nearly every aspect of the electoral process. It would remove hurdles to voting erected in the name of election security and curtail the influence of big money in politics…

…Though it is federal legislation, Republicans are fighting a national campaign against it rooted in state battles to restrict new ways of voting that have unfolded during the pandemic. Just Tuesday, the Arizona Legislature sent the governor a bill that would make it easier to purge infrequent voters from a list of those who automatically get mail-in ballots, the latest battleground state to push through changes likely to take months or years to finally settle in court.

 

Let’s get caught up on news from the state legislature:

Colorado Newsline reports on a “tax fairness” proposal from Democrats that would limit tax breaks for high-income individuals and businesses.

The Colorado Sun examines how Colorado can and cannot spend federal stimulus funds.

El Paso County Commissioners are opposing legislative efforts to create a Front Range rain line.

Denver7 reports on legislation concerning businesses charging a fee when customers opt to pay with a credit or debit card.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Ken Buck’s Lonely Stand For Liz Cheney

Rep. Liz Cheney (R).

As the fully-expected ouster of Rep. Liz Cheney from her leadership position in the Republican U.S. House minority leadership proceeded as planned this morning, one fellow Republican member of Congress, Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado, emerged as one of Cheney’s most visible defenders–leaving fellow Republicans fuming as Buck also publicly refuses to embrace Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was stolen. Forbes:

Lawmakers who were in the room said the vote was decisively against Cheney, with Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) estimating “probably three-quarters” voted to remove her and “one quarter” voted to retain her.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, Cheney’s metaphorical head in hand, says it’s Year Zero for the Republican Party. It was just last year that they appeared jointly at a Denver fundraiser:

Reps. Lauren Boebert, Ken Buck (R-CO).

But as The Guardian reports, Ken Buck was vocally not happy about Cheney’s fate:

Congressman Ken Buck, a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus in the House, described Liz Cheney as a victim of “cancel culture”.

“Liz Cheney was canceled today for speaking her mind and disagreeing with the narrative that President Trump has put forth,” Buck told reporters shortly after the vote to remove Cheney as conference chair. [Pols emphasis]

Buck was one of Cheney’s few defenders in the House Republican caucus going into the vote, and he was the only Republican lawmaker present for Cheney’s defiant floor speech last night, according to CNN.

As for Cheney’s replacement, Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York?

On the underlying issue pertinent to Cheney’s ouster today from her House leadership position, which is the results of the 2020 presidential election, Ken Buck surprised everyone by attempting at substantial political peril to dispel the prevalent myths about the 2020 elections here in Colorado–and by doing so, refuting the case Trump himself was making to his supporters in the buildup to the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Like Liz Cheney herself, Ken Buck’s conservative credentials on the issues are unassailable, and in Buck’s career in office he has outraged Democrats with far more regularly than he ever stood with them. Defending Liz Cheney isn’t about partisan politics, but rather an obligation to the truth that Buck, unlike the vast majority of Republicans today, honors above any one man.

Which means Boebert, Matt Gaetz and his “America First” tour, and the “election truther” who succeeded Buck as Colorado GOP chair will be coming for Buck next.

When Boebert scoffs at the “GOP of the past,” how is she not talking about Ken Buck too?

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Purging Liz Cheney Makes GOP Safe For Lauren Boebert

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY).

The Phil Anschutz-owned Washington Examiner treats us to a feature-length interview with Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, who as readers know is set to become the next U.S. House GOP conference chair as the star of Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming continues to fall:

“I disagree that it’s binary between looking back and looking forward,” the New York congresswoman told the Washington Examiner on Monday as she campaigned to supplant Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming as the No. 3 ranking House Republican. Cheney is expected to be voted out of leadership on Wednesday over her dogged refusal to stop scolding former President Donald Trump for insisting the November election was stolen and that President Joe Biden is illegitimate…

Washington Examiner: Do you agree with Trump that Biden was illegitimately elected and the election was stolen?

Stefanik: President Biden is president, and the focus is on defeating his radical agenda, which I believe we will do in 2024. And we’re going to win the midterms in 2022. I have said that there are election irregularities and an unconstitutional overreach, which is why I objected to certain states. You can refer to my statement on the House floor. I fully stand by that, and voters support the focus on those issues. But the irregularity, the unconstitutional overreach, the lack of ballot security, those are important issues that the American people want to hear solutions from the Republicans on.

Liz Cheney’s impending ouster due to her unwillingness to participate in the “Big Lie” that ex-President Donald Trump was cheated out of a second term in the 2020 presidential elections is a defining moment for the Republican Party, a final rejection of the opportunity afforded by the chaos of the past year to turn the page away from Trump’s cult of personality. This conflict has nothing to do whatsoever with Republican policy goals, which Cheney is firmly aligned with. This is purely about fealty to Trump, and willingness to maintain a false pretense that a majority of Americans have dismissed in order to keep Trump’s 2024 comeback hopes alive.

Axing Rep. Cheney in favor of “election truther” Rep. Stefanik is overall a positive development for Colorado’s Rep. Lauren Boebert, who is facing an ethics investigation requested by Rep. Pramila Jayapal over Boebert’s own role in inciting the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But there’s a twist: Stefanik appears to go quite a bit farther in allowing for the possibility of election fraud than Boebert did in her response to Payapal’s ethics complaint, in which Boebert asserts she wasn’t alleging “election fraud” at all:

The general allegations are that I was involved “ in instigating and aiding the violent riot at the Capitol Building on January 6, 2021” and that I “endangered fellow Members’ lives and pursued a disinformation campaign related to the election results that resulted in an armed uprising.” To be clear, I was not involved in instigating and aiding the riots that took place on January 6th at the U.S. Capitol and there is no evidence that would support further investigation of these unjustified, politically motivated claims. As previously mentioned, my objections to the counting of Electoral College votes in Arizona and Pennsylvania were based on the Constitution and changes to state law that were not made by the state legislature, not election fraud. [Pols emphasis]

Which is, of course, ridiculous:

On the one hand, the more senior figures in GOP leadership who were willing agents in the leadup to January 6th’s violence, the less likely accountability is to reach Boebert’s level as a freshman GOP representative. For the whole party to be on the same seditious page makes it safer for everyone from Stefanik to Colorado’s own Danny Moore to “just ask questions.” On the other hand, Boebert’s defense in the Jayapal complaint relies on a pretense that nobody at this point should take seriously.

Either way, the man who cost the GOP everything wins again.

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BREAKING: CU President Mark Kennedy Will Resign

Outgoing CU President Mark Kennedy (R).

UPDATE: Colorado Public Radio:

Kennedy was censured on April 29 by the Boulder faculty assembly for a “failure of leadership with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion.” Kennedy and his supporters argued that he had made strides on improving diversity among the university’s leadership and was committed to continuing that process.

No timetable was immediately announced for Kennedy’s departure and Board of Regents Chair Glen Gallegos said in a press release that no interim president has been selected. The university will conduct a nationwide search for Kennedy’s replacement.

“The Board of Regents will move quickly to determine our next steps and will work closely with President Kennedy in the coming months to ensure an orderly transition of the presidency. He has led CU though the pandemic and has been making progress on key initiatives we agreed to, so the university is in good position,” said a statement released by the university and attributed to Gallegos and Vice Chair Lesley Smith. ““We appreciate President Kennedy’s contributions and dedication.”

—–

Big news this morning from the state’s flagship university, as embattled University of Colorado President Mark Kennedy, controversially selected by the formerly Republican-controlled CU Board of Regents in 2019, announces he will resign after Democrats retook the Board of Regents for the first time in 40 years last November:

The Board of Regents and I have entered into discussions about an orderly transition of the presidency of the university in the near future. The board has a new makeup this year, which has led to changes in its focus and philosophy. We have made great progress in each of the major areas we identified when I was honored to become president, including strategic planning; diversity, equity and inclusion; online education; and technology transformation. Much of that progress came in the face of the pandemic. I appreciate the many smart and dedicated people who work hard every day to help the university meet its mission to serve its students and the state. CU is on a positive trajectory.

Kennedy was installed by the then-GOP majority on the Board of Regents in 2019 over fierce protests to succeed former CU President and Colorado Republican political kingpin Bruce Benson. Kennedy’s mission was to continue the school’s controversial mission under Benson of imposing “ideological diversity” on higher education–which in practice became a self-funded arm of the university devoted to “conservative affirmative action.” The Bruce D. Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization in its ten years of existence appointed a series of increasingly embarrassing “Visiting Professors of Conservative Thought” that culminated with John Eastman, who helped incite the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

Politically this is a bigger deal than meets the eye, signaling the end of one of the only remaining bastions of Republican power left in the state. But the reality is that CU’s political track under Benson and then Kennedy has been grossly out of step with Colorado’s broader maturation as a Democratic stronghold. For Republicans like Regent Heidi Ganahl who are thinking about higher office, whatever legacy they hoped to capitalize on from the GOP’s longstanding control of CU just evaporated.

We’ll update with more coverage shortly, stay tuned.

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They’re All Orwellian “Just Transitioners” Now

Sen. Bob Rankin (R).

Chase Woodruff at Colorado Newsline has a story up today that everybody in Colorado politics should read, as it explores the meek closure of another wild rhetorical loop from the historically impactful 2019 session of the Colorado legislature. Readers are of course familiar with Senate Bill 19-181, the landmark reform of the mission of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission that Republicans in the legislature warned would “shut down oil and gas in Colorado” and later quietly conceded they could live with after all.

Another major flashpoint from 2019, as Woodruff writes today, was the establishment of something called the Office of Just Transition to help fossil fuel-producing regions of the state cope economically with declining production. Two years ago, Republicans gearing up for half-baked recall attempts against Gov. Jared Polis and targets of opportunity in the legislature hyped the Office of Just Transition into some kind of dystopian horror show:

In a tense, late-night floor debate over House Bill 19-1314, which created a new Office of Just Transition in the state’s labor department, Senate Republicans called the legislation “laughable” and “offensive.” It was an “insulting and egregious bill.” Sen. Bob Gardner, a Republican from El Paso County, advised Democratic lawmakers traveling to the communities impacted by the bill to “leave town pretty quickly,” because “your welcome might be pretty short.”

“I’ll tell you what my people think,” said state Sen. Bob Rankin, a Republican who represents several coal-dependent communities in northwest Colorado. “They don’t want the government retraining them and telling them what they’re going to do, and setting up some committee to feel their pain. They just want you to tell them when they have to move out of this state, and go to Wyoming. That’s what they want. They do not want this bill.”

Rep. Perry Will (R).

But a funny thing happened between 2019 and the present day, and it wasn’t just those recalls turning into a running joke. Republicans who once warned that the Office of Just Transition was a fast track to an Orwellian nightmare are suddenly on the Newspeak bandwagon! The same Bob Rankin who raged about the creation of the office in 2019 is now a sponsor of this year’s legislation to fund it:

Rankin wrote in an email that he had previously opposed the Office of Just Transition because he “believed its creation was simply to provide political cover for an overly aggressive attack on fossil fuel jobs.”

“Perhaps this stimulus funding will actually find its way to help damaged communities,” Rankin said. “I would still prefer that the funds be provided directly to the towns and counties rather than through the state government grant process.”

Other GOP lawmakers who opposed HB-1314 and have since voiced support for just-transition efforts, including Will, did not respond to interview requests. But, with millions of dollars in state funding poised to flow into their communities, their public statements are a far cry from the skepticism they expressed two years ago.

With the political acrimony having for the moment dissipated enough for a reality-based discussion to occur, it seems local Republicans are much more willing to accept that the transition to renewable energy is in fact happening–and the energy-producing communities they represent therefore need the assistance Democrats knew they would need from the beginning. It’s an undeniable sign of how the political climate in Colorado has changed after 2018’s historic wave followed by the successful defense of the Democratic majority in 2020. And it underscores the nonpartisan reality that fossil fuels really are on their way out.

All told, it’s a very good sign for Colorado’s long-term minority party to see them setting aside the crazy rhetoric to do the right thing for their constituents in the state legislature. Who knows? If this newfound pragmatism over political pique gets picked up by our state’s Republican congresscritters, perhaps Republican representation won’t always be a ticket to self-imposed second-class citizenship.

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Flu’s Out For Summer, Lauren Boebert

Who wants to tell Rep. Lauren Boebert that the reason influenza “decided to take 2021 off” is the preventative measures to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic–and that Boebert resisted to the point of having her restaurant shut down–also stopped the flu?

We can’t imagine this was the point Boebert was trying to make, since it’s an implicit admission she was on the wrong side of the biggest epidemiological question of our lives so far. But what else could she have meant?

Sometimes it’s the throwaway lines that say the most, folks.

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Monday Open Thread

“It’s useless to hold a person to anything he says while he’s in love, drunk, or running for office.”

–Shirley MacLaine

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Tell Us Why This Gun Control Bill Is Bad

Colorado Public Radio’s Megan Verlee reports on the passage this week of a gun safety bill introduced in direct response to the mass shooting in Boulder in March that killed 10 people–legislation that would restrict gun purchases to individuals who commit a range of violent misdemeanor offenses, as well as closing what’s become known as the “Charleston loophole” allowing gun sales to proceed if a background check drags on beyond a certain period of time:

If it becomes law, the bill would prevent people from buying a firearm for five years after being convicted of certain violent misdemeanors, including some crimes of child abuse, sexual assault, cruelty to animals, and violating a protection order.

The man arrested for the shooting in Boulder pled guilty to a violent misdemeanor for punching a high school classmate in 2017. Investigators say he passed a background check in order to buy his gun.

“Persons convicted of violent misdemeanors are more likely to be arrested for violent crimes in the future. Communities should not be forced to tolerate risks like this, as the people of Boulder now know too well,” said Peter Fog with Colorado Faith Communities United To End Gun Violence.

The argument against the bill expressed in this story, coming from gun activist Lesley Hollywood, doesn’t seem to have much to do with the bill:

“The more we see ineffective gun control being passed that clearly does not understand current gun law or guns, the more we know this will continue,” said Hollywood.

Again, this is legislation that would disallow gun purchases for specific violent misdemeanor crimes. In addition to the research cited above that violent misdemeanors point to a likelihood of greater violence, the specific circumstances of the Boulder shooter suggest that this restriction would have prevented the shooter from purchasing the semiautomatic assault rifle he then used to kill ten people. The “Charleston loophole” refers the means by which the shooter in the 2015 mass shooting at a Charleston, South Carolina Black church obtained his gun when he would otherwise have been prohibited.

With all of this in mind, our question is very simple: how would this specific piece of legislation be “ineffective,” and in what way does it indicate its proponents do not “understand current gun law or guns?” We look at this legislation and see quantifiable problems being addressed, while the opposition arguments consist of generalizations that don’t seem to apply to the actual bill.

Whoever would like to “gunsplain” this one for us has the floor.

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Match Made In Hell: Lauren Boebert, Meet Candace Owens

Lauren Boebert, Candace Owens.

From a press release announcing next weekend’s Ohio Political Summit, we learn that Colorado’s most notorious freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert is the star of what’s being billed as the Buckeye State’s first major 2022 cycle event to “discuss, share in forum setting, and promote candidates who will work for good government and America First policies.”

Strongville, Ohio (we’ll admit this is a cool name for a town) is very far from Colorado’s Third Congressional District, so safe to say there will be no town halls for Rep. Boebert’s hapless constituents that weekend.

Co-starring with Boebert is a conservative activist whose name we keep thinking we’ve heard for the last time, only to pop up again: Candace Owens, formerly of the “teen fash” right-wing organizing group Turning Point USA:

On May 15, 2021 the Ohio Political Summit will feature Republican Leaders considering a run in 2022 for U.S. Senate, House 16 and Governor (all viable candidates have been invited to the event headlined by Conservative Commentator Candace Owens and Conservative Congresswoman Lauren Boebert).

“I am very excited to escape Fort Pelosi, and come to the Ohio Political Summit,” said Representative Lauren Boebert (R) Colorado. “As a strong voice for freedom, I look forward to sharing thoughts about taking back our country with like minded conservatives; I encourage everyone to participate.”

“We are very pleased to be hosting this watermark event, as of today virtually every viable candidate is participating,” said Shannon Burns, Strongsville GOP President and CEO of WAB Strategic. “Ohio is a bellwether state, and we have an incredible group of candidates. We are very excited to have Candace Owens and Lauren Boebert headline the start of a great season.”

It’s a fair and debatable question which of these two individuals is more discrediting to the other. Although locals have been saturated with Boebert’s non-stop firehose of ludicrous falsehoods and calculatedly offensive pronouncements on every available subject for months now, Candace Owens has been playing the outrageousness for cash and prizes game much longer than Boebert has. From disastrously trying to loop the clueless Kanye West into her bogus “Blexit” movement to suggesting that if “Hitler just wanted to make Germany great” he would have been “fine,” which resulted in the University of Colorado chapter of her own organization calling for her resignation, we were honestly surprised to see Owens headlining any event–much less co-starring with someone with a reputation to defend like a member of Congress.

Looks like it’s time to revise those standards down again.

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Danny Moore, Still Lying About “The Big Lie”

Danny Moore cannot not tell a lie.

The first step to recovery in a typical 12-step program is to admit that you have a problem. In that case, Republican Danny Moore only has 12 more steps to go!

As you may recall, Moore spent one week as the Chair of Colorado’s Independent Congressional Redistricting Committee before his fellow members voted unanimously to oust him from the position because he didn’t bother to disclose the fact that he is a full-on election fraud truther. For a commission with a goal of redrawing Congressional district maps in a transparent manner, it didn’t make a lot of sense to be led by someone who believes that the 2020 Presidential election was fraudulent.

Moore has been unrepentant about the impact of his his election conspiracy theories. He has offered the lame defense that he was just trying to “start a conversation” and even suggested that the real reason he was being ousted as Chair of the Commission was because he is a “black conservative” (an accusation that did not go over well with his fellow Commissioners).

On Sunday, Moore spoke again about his removal as Chair in an interview on something called The Deborah Flora Show on KNUS radio. He didn’t exactly own up to his past comments:

“When things happen to you, you have two choices: You can lay down and take it or you can stand up and and learn from it.”

Moore must have read this off of an inspirational calendar or something, because he didn’t internalize the message. Instead, he decided to go a third route: Lie and pretend that you said something different than what you actually said…

“I never questioned the election. What I did was I had a conversation with a group of friends surrounding the election itself, no different than Bush v. Gore, no different than the Clinton vote, no different than any election that we’ve had in my lifetime. So I…for that…the commissioners voted overwhelmingly to remove me as chair, but I’m still on the commission and serving.

There is absolutely no ambiguity about what Moore said — repeatedly — concerning the 2020 Presidential election. 9News reported on Moore’s own social media posts, as did The Colorado Springs Gazette. Here is but one example:

Facebook post by Danny Moore on January 7, 2021.

 

It’s almost comical that Moore would say, as he repeated on KNUS radio, that “I never questioned the election.” The VERY FIRST SENTENCE of the Facebook post above, which was posted the day after the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, reads: “By any account, the election of 2020 will go down as the most questioned election in our country’s history.”

Danny Moore doesn’t even believe the words that come out of the mouth of Danny Moore. On that, at least, he has finally found common ground with the other members of the Redistricting Commission.

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More than 2 Million Coloradans Now Vaccinated

According to a press release from the office of Governor Jared Polis, more than 2 million Coloradans have now been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus:

Currently, 2,674,623 people have received one dose, and 2,037,137 Coloradans are fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated means 15 days after receiving the second Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or 15 days after receiving the “one and done” Jansen/Johnson and Johnson vaccine. There are currently 4.7 million Coloradans, those 16 and older, who are eligible to receive the vaccine.

“I want to congratulate every Coloradan who has received their vaccine. Not only are you protecting yourself, but you’re powering the Colorado comeback and energizing our economy,” said Governor Jared Polis. “And for everyone who is still unvaccinated, I want you to know that getting the vaccine is free, quick and easy. Make a plan today, and take the first step toward ending this pandemic and protecting your family. Vaccinated Coloradans are experiencing the joy of safely seeing their grandparents again, or finally getting together with friends for dinner without the fear or guilt of endangering their lives. There are even brighter days ahead Colorado, and this lifesaving vaccine is going to get us there.”

Coloradans can receive a COVID-19 vaccine — without an appointment — at one of six community vaccination sites:

♦  Adams County: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park

♦  Denver County: Ball Arena

♦  El Paso County: Broadmoor World Arena

♦  Larimer County: The Ranch

♦  Mesa County: Grand Junction Convention Center

♦  Pueblo County: Colorado State Fairgrounds

For information on mobile vaccination clinics, go to www.mobilevax.us. To find a vaccine provider in your county, go to covid19.colorado.gov/vaccine.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 6)

On this day in 1954, Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in under four minutes. 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. 

 

Consistent with much of the COVID-19 related news over the last several months, there’s good news and bad news to report. The good news, as The Washington Post reports, is that we can finally see a post-COVID world on the horizon:

Coronavirus infections could be driven to low levels and the pandemic at least temporarily throttled in the United States by July if the vast majority of people get vaccinated and continue with precautions against viral transmission, according to a strikingly optimistic paper released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report comes as administration officials and leaders in many states are sounding more confident that the country can return to a degree of normalcy relatively soon. President Biden on Tuesday announced a new vaccination goal, saying he wants 70 percent of adults to have had at least one dose by July 4.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday the modeling results give Americans a road map out of the pandemic — so long as they continue to get vaccinated and maintain certain mitigation strategies until a “critical mass of people” get the shots.

For this to happen, of course, more Americans would need to move forward with getting vaccinated against COVID-19. As POLITICO reports, health experts are concerned that the virus could mutate into more dangerous variants if vaccination rates continue to decline in certain parts of the country. As The New York Times reports, a new survey suggests that we might be reaching the limit of Americans who still plan to get vaccinated.

 

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis continues his Donald Trump impersonation. As The New York Times explains, DeSantis signed into law new voting restrictions in Florida with all the pomp of a campaign rally:

Mr. DeSantis enacted the legislation even after he had promoted Florida’s handling of the November elections. Mr. Trump won the state by three percentage points.

The governor gave Fox News, his preferred major cable news outlet — and Mr. Trump’s — an exclusive to broadcast the bill signing ceremony from West Palm Beach on Thursday morning, in an event that resembled a campaign rally as much as an official act of state government.

Supporters of Mr. DeSantis gathered inside a Hilton near the airport, donning DeSantis and Trump campaign gear. Before they entered, some people waved Trump-DeSantis and DeSantis 2024 banners, according to photos on social media shared by journalists locked outside the doors.

“Right now, I have what we think is the strongest election integrity measures in the country,” a seated Mr. DeSantis told Fox as a rowdy crowd cheered behind him.

In a separate story, the Times details Florida’s new restrictions:

The new bill would limit the use of drop boxes; add more identification requirements for those requesting absentee ballots; require voters to request an absentee ballot for each election, rather than receive them automatically through an absentee voting list; limit who could collect and drop off ballots; and further empower partisan observers during the ballot-counting process. The legislation would also expand a current rule that prohibits outside groups from providing items “with the intent to influence” voters within a 150-foot radius of a polling location.

 

People who regularly say racist things are called racists. At the State Capitol, they are also called “Republicans”. Republican State Rep. Richard Holtorf caused a delay in proceedings on the House floor on Wednesday after he referred to a fellow lawmaker as “Buckwheat.” This came just a few weeks after Republican State Rep. Ron Hanks made a joke about lynching and lectured his colleagues on why their historical understanding of the 3/5ths compromise was inaccurate.

House Speaker Alec Garnett (D-Denver) opened today’s legislative work with a call for decency and decorum from his Republican colleagues.

Let’s dig into more news from the state legislature…

Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun reports on legislation to create a new office of early education to streamline services and oversee programs such as Colorado’s universal preschool program. Alex Burness has more for The Denver Post, including a proposal to create universal pre-K education in Colorado by 2023.

Dave Perry of The Aurora Sentinel likes the idea of empowering local governments to make their own gun safety regulations.

Legislation to close a loophole in background checks for firearms cleared its first hurdle in the House Judiciary Committee.

The Associated Press has more details on a big transportation funding bill introduced this week. Marshall Zelinger of 9News explains the fee vs. tax distinction at the heart of the legislation.

The legislation formerly known as the Colorado Option is being debated on the House floor today.

Legislation intended to speed up bond hearings is moving along.

 

More political (and coronavirus) news is available right after the jump…

 

(more…)

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Colorado Republicans Rage At Facebook’s Trump Ban

This guy again.

As the New York Times reports and you doubtless already know, Facebook’s appointed Oversight Board yesterday declined to lift the company’s ban on former President Donald Trump utilizing the platform, directing the company to clarify its rules and come back in six months for another review:

A Facebook-appointed panel of journalists, activists and lawyers on Wednesday upheld the social network’s ban of former President Donald J. Trump, ending any immediate return by Mr. Trump to mainstream social media and renewing a debate about tech power over online speech.

Facebook’s Oversight Board, which acts as a quasi-court over the company’s content decisions, ruled the social network was right to bar Mr. Trump after the insurrection in Washington in January, saying he “created an environment where a serious risk of violence was possible.” The panel said that ongoing risk “justified” the move.

But the board also kicked the case back to Facebook and its top executives. It said that an indefinite suspension was “not appropriate” because it was not a penalty defined in Facebook’s policies and that the company should apply a standard punishment, such as a time-bound suspension or a permanent ban. The board gave Facebook six months to make a final decision on Mr. Trump’s account status.

CBS4 Denver has the reaction from Colorado’s minority Republican congressional delegation, and they are uniformly on full-tilt outrage. Rep. Ken Buck, whose crusade against Big Tech’s allegedly censorious ways predates Trump’s post-insurrection social media blackout, invoked the nastiest (and most dreadfully overused) comparison in the GOP playbook, Communist Gyna:

Following the news that Facebook Oversight Committee upheld former President Donald Trump’s ban, the three Republican members of Colorado’s Congressional Delegation were quick to react.

Rep. Ken Buck went to the social media platform itself, posting a link to an NPR article about the decision and commenting: “Silencing former leaders is something they do in Communist China, Big Tech has too much power.”

Not to be outdone, Rep. Lauren Boebert apparently thinks someone has been executed?

3rd District Rep. Lauren Boebart voiced her criticism on Twitter, tweeting “The Facebook Oversight Board acted as the judge, jury, prosecutor, appellate court and executioner. Big Tech needs to be broken up.”

Even Colorado’s least charismatic member of Congress, Rep. Doug Lamborn, took a swing:

“Unfortunately, Facebook’s decision to keep the ban on President Trump comes as no surprise. No social media company should have the power to entirely block a public official from communicating with the American people. Facebook’s oversight board is a farce. We must reign in #BigTech.”

Here we come to the central issue, which is the idea as Lamborn falsely suggests that Facebook has the ability to “entirely block a public official from communicating with the American people.” As we saw this week with the much-hyped launch of former President Trump’s blog, Trump is fully able to communicate with the American people online as much as he wants. He’s just not doing it on private commercial social media networks who have the full authority–let’s go a step farther and call it a right–to deny the use of their system to people who misuse it for criminal purposes like inciting a riot.

Though we certainly do not have the reach of a global platform like Facebook, we do have some experience on this blog with regulating the limits of content we consider inappropriate, undesirable, or any other way we might choose to evaluate what our readers post in comments and community blogs. Our standards are liberal enough that we’re generally accused of not policing content adequately as opposed to allegations of censorship, but we absolutely retain the right to moderate posted content and deny access to abusive users. If, for example, readers started plotting in comments to overthrow the state government, we’d feel an obligation to stop that.

In short, there’s a huge disconnect between the “free market” values these conservatives claim to uphold and their allegation that these private companies have committed some kind of unconstitutional suppression of former President Trump’s free speech rights. Free speech is not and has never been an entitlement to somebody else’s broadcast platform to amplify your speech at their expense. The violent insurrection on January 6th directly caused by the refusal of Trump (and for that matter, Boebert and Lamborn) to accept the results of the 2020 elections is ample cause to to permanently ban Trump from any private platform that wishes to.

But that segues into a conversation none of them want to have.

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