Get More Smarter on Friday (December 6)

Saturday is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day; Gov. Jared Polis has ordered flags to be lowered to half staff from sunrise to sunset tomorrow. It’s time to Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.


► Will President Trump and/or his attorneys participate in impeachment hearings in front of the House Judiciary Committee? As The Washington Post reports, Trump has until 5:00 today to make that decision…but might choose to wait until the issue reaches the U.S. Senate:

A White House spokesman said Friday that Trump “welcomes” a trial in the Republican-led Senate and plans to bring forward “serious witnesses,” including the anonymous whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), and Joe and Hunter Biden.

“If it goes there, he wants a trial,” White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said during an appearance on Fox News. “He welcomes it. He wants the American people to see the truth. . . . He absolutely wants to bring forward serious witnesses, like the whistleblower, like Adam Schiff, like Hunter and Joe Biden. It they’re going to do this, if the Democrats want this fight, it’s something the president is willing to have.”

“He welcomes it.” That seems like a bit of a stretch.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she had instructed her Democratic colleagues to begin preparing articles of impeachment. Justin Wingerter of The Denver Post wrote up one of those “here’s what officials on each side have to say” stories that doesn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know.


 Former New York City Mayor and newly-minted Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg was in Aurora on Thursday to discuss his plans for addressing gun violence in the United States. As the Associated Press reports, Bloomberg is “calling for a ban on all assault weapons, mandatory permits for gun purchasers and a new position in the White House to coordinate gun violence prevention.”


► At least four people are dead after a shooting at a naval base in Pensacola, Florida.


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


Kirk Widlund: The Nazi In 710 KNUS’ Closet?

Brought to our attention yesterday though it’s been out for a few days apparently–the Colorado Springs Anti-Fascists, yes that means “Antifa” but before you pass judgement understand that this particular group has successfully exposed more than one local-area neo-Nazi via straightforward online sleuthing methodology, including an Air Force master sergeant at Schreiver Air Force Base who was demoted based on the group’s exposure of his white nationalist organizing on the side, appears to have caught another one.

And this one’s on the radio, at a Denver right-wing talk radio station that’s been in the news lately:

Kirk Widlund is a Neo-Nazi and the host of the Keeping America Great podcast, as well as Executive Producer for the Steffan Tubbs ShowThe American Veteran’s ShowThe Craig Silverman Show, and Bird Talk, on the Denver conservative talk radio station 710 KNUS, owned by Salem Media. Kirk lives with his parents in Aurora and is a registered Republican. Additional information about Kirk Widlund can be found here.

Kirk fronts as a typical MAGA chud on air and on his publicly facing social media – he stans for Donald Trump, stands with ICE, condemns Black Lives Matter, all the typical conservative stuff.

Kirk’s posts take a slight turn to the right on the Russian social media website VK, which is a hotbed for Neo-Nazis as they don’t enforce hate speech violations…

So, um, yeah, Kirk Widlund’s VK content leaves little to speculate about.

KNUS host Steffan Tubbs, KNUS producer Kirk Widlund.

In the Colorado Springs Antifa blogpost you can follow how they tracked Kirk Widlund from a social media connection to a known local white nationalist by the name of Lucas Martin. A host of details including matching birthdates and comment threads between Martin and Widlund seems to indicate it’s the same Kirk Widlund currently employed as a producer at 710 KNUS–the same right-wing AM radio station that made national news a couple of weeks ago when they pulled the plug on host Craig Silverman in the middle of a segment of Silverman’s show criticizing President Donald Trump.

Before we go whole hog sounding the “Nazis on your AM dial” alarm, we do want to see this information confirmed, which we expect can be done easily and will be done shortly–we’ll update when we see that. But if this is right, and this source’s track record gives them undeniable credibility, talk radio in this town has taken an even nastier turn than anybody imagined.

Stay tuned–to us, not them.


Friday Open Thread

“There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true.”

–Winston Churchill


Warren Campaign Deploys To Colorado

A press release from Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign today announces the hire of a state director for Colorado and field offices set to open:

Today, Warren for President announced that PaaWee Rivera will serve as Colorado State Director for the campaign.

Rivera is a longtime political operative with extensive electoral organizing and community engagement experience. Prior to being named Colorado State Director, Rivera served as the Western States Desk based out of the Warren campaign’s Boston headquarters. Rivera served as a Special Advisor to Warren’s 2018 Senate re-election campaign. Previously, Rivera worked on the 2016 coordinated campaign based out of Florida and worked in a number of roles at the DNC.

Rivera is originally from New Mexico and is a Tribal citizen of the Pueblo of Pojoaque. He has been on the ground since September 2019.

The campaign plans to open a series of offices across Colorado later this month, including in Denver and Boulder…

Warren has earned endorsements from a host of key Colorado leaders, including State Senators Kerry Donovan, Faith Winter, and Mike Foote, along with State Representatives Dominique Jackson and Chris Kennedy.

The latest Real Clear Politics polling average of the Democratic presidential primary shows a continuing three-way race for the nomination, with former veep Joe Biden the candidate to beat and Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren battling for the role of the “Biden alternative.” Sanders and Warren are extremely close in the RCP average, separated by just over one statistically insignificant percentage point. Sanders easily won the Democratic caucus in Colorado in 2016, but in the 2020 Super Tuesday presidential primary it’s anybody’s game according to the polls–and it’s states like ours the “Biden alternative” will be counting on.

March 3, 2020 is coming fast.


Silly Ethics Complaint Reaches New Level of Ridiculousness

Tweet via Denver Post reporter Justin Wingerter.

As we noted last month, a still-pending ethics complaint targeting former Gov. John Hickenlooper is a complete and total nothingburger. But don’t take our word for it…and don’t rely on the opinion of the The Denver Post’s editorial board, either. Just take a look at what happened today when the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission gathered once more to discuss the matter.

As Alex Burness writes for The Denver Post, today was another meeting about possibly scheduling another meeting:

A hearing on the pending ethics complaint concerning former Gov. John Hickenlooper’s travel on private planes might not take place until after Democrats’ caucus to select candidates for the U.S. Senate race.

Hickenlooper, who’s running for the seat, has filed motions to dismiss the allegations, as he and his team continue to characterize them as politically motivated. Colorado’s Independent Ethics Commission, however, didn’t rule on those motions at Thursday’s meeting — the first since the group’s November release of a report on the complaint.

Instead, members tentatively set the hearing for March 17, though staff promised to try to find an earlier date that works…

…Hickenlooper’s attorney, Mark Grueskin, pushed for an earlier resolution, but the commission’s staffer advised that January is too soon for a hearing and that he has been unable to find an available conference room for the commission’s scheduled February meeting. [Pols emphasis]

“As we’ve said before, the most sensational accusations [in this complaint] are easy to dismiss.”

— Denver Post editorial (November 9, 2019)

This ethics complaint against Hickenlooper was filed in October 2018 by a newly-formed group called the Public Trust Institute, which is helmed by former Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty. The crux of McNulty’s argument surrounds a handful of trips that Hickenlooper took before he finished his second term as Colorado’s Governor in January 2019. As The Denver Post has previously pointed out, there’s not much here that would be of any concern to, well, anyone.

Today’s hearing of the Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) all but confirmed that belief. If this complaint was really about a serious ethics violation, as Republicans would have you believe, then surely someone would be able to locate an available conference room before March 2020.

Of course, the entire point of this complaint was never about addressing serious ethical concerns. The goal here was always to harm Hickenlooper’s political fortunes, whether that entailed his brief run for President or his current campaign for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

With that in mind, McNulty’s “Public Trust Institute” probably doesn’t mind that this case faces another 3-4 months of limbo for Hickenlooper. McNulty’s plan was to throw a bunch of crap at the wall in hopes of generating some sort of news headline that could fit into a negative advertisement against Hickenlooper — which is precisely what happened earlier this week. Whatever else happens from this point forward — and we’re not holding our breath that anything will happen — is just gravy for Republicans.

This story has gone on for too long already. Now, about that conference room shortage…


33% Approval: Another Poll Shows Gardner Circling Drain

Sen. Cory Gardner literally standing behind President Donald Trump.

Healthcare advocacy nonprofit Healthier Colorado released a new poll yesterday conducted by Keating Research, principally focused on concerns voters have related to the group’s eponymous mission:

A majority of Coloradans are concerned about the rising costs of healthcare and prescription drugs, and prefer a public option to enroll in Medicare or Medicare for All over the current system, according to a statewide survey by Healthier Colorado, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health of all residents throughout our state’s diverse communities.

The poll was conducted November 6-9, 2019, among a sample of 650 active voters, with an oversample in West Slope counties. Roughly half of voters surveyed (45%) said the cost of healthcare is unaffordable, while an overwhelming majority (82%) believe the cost of prescription drugs and medication is too high. When presented with the option to keep the current system in which health insurance is purchased through one’s employer or privately, or move to a public option or Medicare for All, only one-third of voters prefer to keep the current system. The other two-thirds were evenly split between wanting a public option and Medicare for All.

Useful information for the upcoming debate in the Colorado legislature beginning next month on a proposed public option coverage plan. But at the bottom of the release announcing this poll, right before the link to the full results at Keating, our readers will find the question we’re most interested in today, with all due respect to Healthier Colorado:

Overall, a majority of Coloradans (52%) believe Colorado is headed in the right direction. When asked about elected officials running for election in 2020, only 37% have a favorable view of President Donald Trump, while 60% view him unfavorably. Senator Cory Gardner, currently running for his second term fares less favorably, with 33% favorable, 45% unfavorable. [Pols emphasis]

If this poll is accurate, Sen. Cory Gardner is not just America’s Most Vulnerable Senator™. Gardner is in a downward spiral that there may well be no coming back from. This is the second poll this fall showing Gardner’s approval rating below 35%, several percentage points short of President Donald Trump’s own dismal 37% approval in Colorado and 12 points south of Gardner’s 45% unfavorable rating, clearly reflecting Gardner’s weakness among base Republicans–in addition to the state’s compounding wholesale rejection of Republican candidates that accelerated in last year’s historic Colorado Democratic landslide.

It’s hard to imagine Gardner losing the general election next November by the margin a 33% approval rating suggests, not least because many of those disaffected Republican voters are sure to hold their noses and vote–but to call these numbers bad news for Gardner’s re-election prospects is a considerable understatement.

While we can’t pronounce Cory Gardner a political dead man walking on the strength of one poll, these numbers are undeniably what that looks like.


Everybody Does Impeachable Things, Says Ken Buck

You’ll never catch me, logic!

Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley), who moonlights as the Colorado Republican Party Chairman (or vice-versa), has been struggling to come up with a coherent and consistent defense of President Trump in the face of mounting evidence for Trump’s impeachment. While Buck has been critical of the impeachment process and protective of President Trump, he also hasn’t bothered to actually attend most of the impeachment hearings to which he has been invited. After listening to Buck question witnesses on the first day of impeachment hearings in the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, it’s fair to argue that both he and Trump would have been better served in Buck’s absence.

In recent months Buck has offered various explanations for excusing Trump; he’s even been a public proponent of what has come to be called “The Sideshow Bob Defense,” which tries to excuse President Trump of wrongdoing based on the idea that his attempted bribery of Ukraine’s President didn’t work as intended. This is a particularly absurd defense from Buck; as a former prosecutor, he knows damn well that “attempted” robbery and “attempted” murder are criminal matters regardless of the outcome of the offense.

Buck took a different approach in his Trump defense on Wednesday, arguing that EVERY President — other than William Henry Harrison, who died 32 days into his first term in the White House — has committed what House Democrats would call an impeachable offense.

“The other three witnesses have identified this amorphous standard for impeaching a President,” said Buck in addressing Professor Jonathan Turley, the Republican-called legal/constitutional expert (CLICK HERE for the full clip of Buck’s ranting). Buck then listed off numerous “impeachable” offenses committed by everyone from Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama. It was as if to say, Who among us hasn’t committed an impeachable offense?

Buck concluded with this perplexing high-horsed statement:

Now isn’t the difference, Professor Turley, that some people live in an ivory tower, and some people live in a swamp, and those of us that are in the swamp are doing our very best for the American people, but it’s not pretty.

Turley responded with an attempted joke about living in an ivory tower within a swamp. Immediately following this exchange, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) began her time at the microphone by saying, “I don’t believe the people’s house is a swamp.”

Social media users were equally perplexed with Buck’s line of questioning:

Fortunately for Buck and Trump, the Greeley Congressman wasn’t quite the disaster that he was when he was questioning Robert Mueller last summer. Instead of countering his own argument — which is what happened last July — Buck followed the script of his own version of a Chewbacca Defense.

To paraphrase the debate moderator character from the movie “Billy Madison,” everyone is now dumber for having listened to Ken Buck.


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

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

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

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

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

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


Get More Smarter on Wednesday (December 4)

Today is “National Cookie Day.” Please celebrate responsibly. Now, 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.


► The House Judiciary Committee today began its role in impeachment hearings by hearing testimony from prominent legal experts as to whether evidence unearthed thus far constitutes impeachable conduct by President Trump. Today’s hearings come one day after the House Intelligence Committee released a thorough report on findings from weeks of impeachment hearings and investigations. From The Washington Post:

“Ultimately the reason the Constitution provided for impeachment was to anticipate a situation like the one that is before you today,” Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman testified. “If we cannot impeach a president who uses his power for personal advantage, we no longer live in a democracy, we live in a monarchy or a dictatorship.”

The questioning had the air of an introductory constitutional law class focused on impeachment – including a featured chart listing the A, the B, and the C of high crimes and misdemeanors: Abuse of Power, Betrayal of National Interest, and Corruption of Elections.

House Democrats’ committee counsel Norm Eisen asked the law professors to explain whether it was necessary for Trump to have committed a statutory crime to be impeached. University of North Carolina law professor Michael Gerhardt said no. The scale of Trump’s obstruction was an abuse, he stressed, because it “torpedoes” the separation of powers in the Constitution.

“If what we’re talking about is not impeachable, then nothing is impeachable,” he said.

One of the more dramatic moments in early testimony came after Republican Rep. Doug Collins questioned the knowledge and preparation of the legal experts testifying today. Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan was incensed at the suggestion:

“That everything I know about our Constitution and its values and my review of the evidentiary record and here, Mr. Collins, I would like to say to you, sir, that I read transcripts of every one of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing because I would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts, so I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts.”

Colorado Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) are both members of the House Judiciary Committee and were in attendance this morning…though Buck must have had something more important to do later:

It was revealed last week that Buck, who also serves as the Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, blew off most of the prior impeachment hearings that he was invited to attend as a member of the House Judiciary Committee.


President Trump is making a fool of himself and the United States at the NATO summit in London, and foreign leaders are having a hard time ignoring the circus. As CNN explains:

After President Donald Trump called him “two-faced,” Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, admitted Wednesday that he and other world leaders were talking about the US President when they were caught on camera at a Buckingham Palace event the night before.

The video, which has gone viral, shows British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, Trudeau and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte appearing to have a laugh about Trump’s behavior during the summit. But none of the leaders explicitly named Trump.

“Last night I made reference to the fact that there was an unscheduled press conference before my meeting with President Trump. I was happy to be part of it but it was certainly notable,” Trudeau said during a Wednesday press conference.

As The Washington Post adds, Trump was clearly stung by the reaction of his counterparts:

Trump was later caught on an audio recording bragging to an unidentified summit attendee, “That was funny when I said that guy was two-faced.”

CLICK HERE to watch the video of foreign leaders expressing exasperation with Trump during a conversation at Buckingham Palace.


► North Korea is making vague threats toward the United States about expecting a “Christmas Gift” in the upcoming weeks. From CNN:

The ominous comments, which some have interpreted as a sign that North Korea could resume long-distance missile tests, comes as the clock ticks closer to the country’s self-imposed end-of-year deadline for nuclear negotiations with the Trump administration.
Talks between the two sides have appeared to be in a rut in recent months, with North Korea conducting several shorter-range missile tests.

In a statement translated on the state news agency, Ri Thae Song, a first vice minister at the North Korean Foreign Ministry working on US affairs, accused US policy makers of leveraging talks with Kim Jong Un for domestic political gain.

“The dialogue touted by the US is, in essence, nothing but a foolish trick hatched to keep the DPRK bound to dialogue and use it in favor of the political situation and election in the US,” Ri said, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“It is entirely up to the US what Christmas gift it will select to get,” added Ri.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), the self-professed “leader in the Senate” on North Korea, STILL hasn’t said a public word about this or anything related to strained U.S. relations with South Korea.

Gardner also won’t comment on Trump’s claims of election interference by Ukraine, but he will still say that Russia should be labeled a “state sponsor of terror.”


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


The Free World Laughs At Donald Trump

The Independent (UK) reports:

Donald Trump has reacted furiously to footage of world leaders apparently making fun of him, calling Justin Trudeau “two-faced” then cancelling a press conference and cutting short his attendance at a Nato summit.

The US president was asked whether he had seen the clip in which his international counterparts appeared to joke about his explosive press conference with Emmanuel Macron, and his erratic diplomatic style, at Tuesday night’s Buckingham Palace reception.

“You just watched his team’s jaws drop to the floor!” Mr Trudeau apparently said of Mr Trump while speaking with Boris Johnson, Mr Macron, Mark Rutte and Princess Anne.

The entire conversation between these leaders and NATO allies isn’t audible, so we don’t know as of now what the context of this particular snippet was, and what exactly made Team Trump’s “jaws drop to the floor.”

But like the rest of the civilized world, we most certainly know the feeling.


“Overwhelming” Case Against Donald Trump Released

UPDATE: Rep. Joe Neguse weighs in:


Donald Trump.

The Hill reports, it’s all out in the open now:

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released a lengthy report on Tuesday outlining their weeks of evidence-gathering as part of the impeachment inquiry, laying out in granular detail their allegations that President Trump abused the power of his office.

The 300-page report does not recommend specific articles of impeachment — a task under the charge of the Judiciary Committee — but it paints a damning portrait of Trump’s dealings with Ukraine and hints strongly that those actions merit his removal from office…

“The evidence is clear that President Trump used the power of his office to pressure Ukraine into announcing investigations into his political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and a debunked conspiracy theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election,” three House Democrat chairs said in a statement.

“These investigations were designed to benefit his 2020 presidential reelection campaign.”

Rep. Joe Neguse, Colorado’s Democratic point man in the impeachment process on the Judiciary Committee, is in Madrid for the United Nations climate change conference, but we expect to hear from him as soon as it’s appropriate. We’re settling into our easy chairs with the full 300 page report, but the executive summary’s first paragraph makes it clear that Democrats don’t consider this to be a close case:

The impeachment inquiry into Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States, uncovered a months-long effort by President Trump to use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election. As described in this executive summary and the report that follows, President Trump’s scheme subverted U.S. foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favor of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential reelection campaign. The President demanded that the newly-elected Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, publicly announce investigations into a political rival that he apparently feared the most, former Vice President Joe Biden, and into a discredited theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 presidential election. To compel the Ukrainian President to do his political bidding, President Trump conditioned two official acts on the public announcement of the investigations: a coveted White House visit and critical U.S. military assistance Ukraine needed to fight its Russian adversary.

With Republicans already out with their pre-buttal of this report’s conclusions, the lines are clearly drawn for the next step, which is to draft articles of impeachment to be voted on by the full House. Democrats got everything they hoped to and more from November’s public hearings, validating the substance of their allegations and more broadly making a compelling case that what happened here indeed was a high crime worthy of nation’s highest political penalty.

Whether or not the Republican Senate has the will to acknowledge, let alone act on these findings is less important now to Democrats than ensuring every swingable voter in America knows the score before elections now less than a year away. The better Democrats prove their case now, the worse it will be for Republicans politically when they vote to protect Trump as we all expect them to do.

And this is where we note perforce that some unexpected turnabout could always be lurking.


National Republicans Empty Couch Cushions for Gardner

The NRSC making it rain…sort of.

You may have missed this story in The Denver Post last week about the half-assed re-election campaign efforts underway on behalf of Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma), who is widely considered to be the most endangered incumbent Republican Senator in the country in 2020. As Justin Wingerter wrote for the Post just before Thanksgiving, there is a conspicuous lack of resources being expended for Gardner in Colorado:

As special interests and dark-money groups spend millions of dollars to criticize him on several fronts — guns, health care, impeachment, climate — a year before his re-election, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner’s campaign and Republican allies in Washington have responded with an unusual tactic: near-total silence…

…One year out, the Gardner campaign is content to bide its time and stash its cash for what promises to be a contentious 2020 endeavor.

Wingerter’s angle on the lack of support for Gardner is that it is a strategic decision to lay low at the moment, which may very well be true. But it’s also possible that things are quiet for Gardner because national Republicans aren’t convinced that Gardner’s seat can be saved in 2020. Gardner’s poll numbers are absolutely brutal – Republicans don’t even like him – and early indications are that Coloradans will not be receptive to the re-election pitch from President Trump at the top of the ticket.

On Monday, we got another hint that Gardner’s hide may not be particularly important to national Republican groups. As Marianne Goodland writes for the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) this week launched a rather anemic paid media effort for Gardner that might literally be worth thousands of dollars:

The campaign, which begins Monday evening, includes a digital ad and a mock travel agency brochure for the “Joyride John Travel Agency,” poking fun at Hickenlooper’s use of private jets for travel, which is at the heart of the ethics complaint currently awaiting action from the state Independent Ethics Commission.

The four-figure digital ad buy will run on Facebook in Denver throughout the week, according to NRSC spokeswoman Joanna Rodriguez. The NRSC declined to identify the specific amount for the ad buy. [Pols emphasis]

A “four-figure” ad buy? The NRSC can’t even wrangle $10k to help Gardner? This is peanuts in a U.S. Senate race, even for a digital ad buy. For comparison’s sake, consider that Rocky Mountain Gun Owners spent $2,150 in May on a radio ad buy for a recall campaign that they never actually commenced.

Big spenders

Perhaps the NRSC played it stingy with its “four-figure” ad buy because it isn’t completely comfortable with the message (see “SIDE NOTE” below), or perhaps it decided that its money was better spent in states like Arizona, Iowa, and Maine. Whatever the reason, spending a couple thousand bucks on a digital ad when Gardner is getting hammered by $4 million in opposition spending shouldn’t make any Colorado Republican feel particularly hopeful about 2020.


SIDE NOTE: Last month we took note of an odd bit of phrasing in a story about an ethics complaint against former Gov. John Hickenlooper, now a candidate for U.S. Senate, that was subsequently picked up by 9News. The complaint was filed long ago by an organization created by former Republican House Speaker Frank McNulty, and it is substantially light on substance — the editorial board of The Denver Post essentially dismissed the merits in early November — which is why groups like the NRSC pitched Wingerter on a different angle just before the Thanksgiving holiday. This new approach was to claim that Hickenlooper’s legal defense is being paid out of “a federal fund meant to help the state after 9/11,” which is a remarkable revision of actual history. As we wrote on November 21:

You haven’t heard of this “post-9/11 recovery fund” because nobody ever called it that. What Wingerter is referring to is the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, otherwise known as the “Bush Tax Cuts.”

Of course, the 2003 Bush Tax Cuts did pass through Congress “post-9/11.” In that regard, every piece of legislation that has been approved since September 11, 2001 could also be called “post-9/11.” This executive order from Gov. Bill Owens in 2003 — which is linked in the Post story — makes no mention whatsoever of “9/11.” The money allocated in the Bush Tax Cuts went to all sorts of purposes, including immunization programs and charter school construction. Nobody would characterize the 2003 Bush tax cuts as “9/11 relief” because that’s not how they were sold even at the time.

In this case, the Bush Tax Cuts were categorized as a “post-9/11” fund by Republican operatives in hope that it might generate a news clip that could be used in a negative advertisement against Hickenlooper…which is exactly what happened. “Money for Hickenlooper’s attorney is from federal fund meant to help Colorado economy post-9/11” was the headline of the Denver Post story that the NRSC cites prominently in its digital advertising. This isn’t accurate, but once the headline was printed, the NRSC had everything it needed to move ahead with its ad production. Media outlets love to “fact check” political advertisements; they’re less excited to admit when misleading ads are born from misleading news stories in the first place.  




Kamala Harris Exits Presidential Race

UPDATE #2: Politico:

“Eleven months ago at the launch of our campaign in Oakland I told you all: ‘I am not perfect.’ But I will always speak with decency and moral clarity and treat all people with dignity and respect. I will lead with integrity. I will speak the truth. And that’s what I have tried to do every day of this campaign. So here’s the truth today,” Harris wrote in a note to supporters.

“I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life. My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue .”

Harris, who spent Thanksgiving in Iowa with family, took a deep look at the campaign’s resources over the holiday and decided she did not have a path to the nomination. A Harris campaign aide said the expected impeachment trial in January further complicated the situation.


UPDATE: Tough to argue with Colorado Sen. Julie Gonzales:


Sen. Kamala Harris (D).

CNN reports, the winnowing continues apace:

Sen. Kamala Harris is poised to withdraw her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination, two sources familiar with the decision tell CNN.

The California Democrat informed her senior staff of the decision Tuesday morning and is planning a public announcement later in the day.

There’s no word yet on an endorsement from Sen. Kamala Harris of any of the frontrunners, but we’ll update when her public statement is released. Harris had momentum early on in the race, but her campaign quickly receded into the background as the three-way battle at the top consolidated and her prosecutorial record as California attorney general came under scrutiny from the left.

And then there was…well, one less. But it remains possible we could see Harris again.


Get More Smarter on Tuesday (December 3)

There are 21 shopping days left until Christmas; you may officially begin to panic. In the meantime, 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.


President Trump was talking to reporters in London today alongside French President Emmanuel Macron when he announced that there is no end in sight to his trade war with China. You could literally watch the Dow Jones tick downward as Trump was speaking. From CNBC:

U.S. equities sank on Tuesday after President Donald Trump suggested he may want to delay a trade deal with China until after the 2020 presidential election.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 400 points in morning trading, led lower by trade-vulnerable Apple, Caterpillar and Boeing. The S&P 500 slid 1% amid losses in chip stocks like Nvidia, Micron and Advanced Micro Devices. The Nasdaq Composite lost more than 1%…

…“In some ways, I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal, but they want to make a deal now and we will see whether or not the deal is going to be right,” Trump told reporters earlier on Tuesday.

When asked if he had a deal deadline, he added: “I have no deadline, no … In some ways, I think it is better to wait until after the election if you want to know the truth.”

When informed about the damage inflicted by his comments, Trump later told reporters that he “doesn’t watch the stock market,” which is pretty silly.

► As The Washington Post reports, President Trump made sure to hurt American diplomacy as much as he was harming the stock market today:

President Trump on Tuesday slammed as “very, very nasty” and “very disrespectful” recent comments by his French counterpart about the diminished state of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance.

Referring to comments President Emmanuel Macron made last month in an interview with the Economist magazine — in which Macron described the “brain death” of NATO resulting from America’s failure to consult with its allies — Trump attacked Macron on the first day of the NATO 70th anniversary summit in London, calling the comments “very insulting.”

“You just can’t go around making statements like that about NATO,” Trump said, sitting next to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at a one-on-one meeting between the two leaders Tuesday morning. Though Trump himself has long been a vocal critic of NATO — a combative stance that has alarmed Western allies and seemed to prompt Macron’s comments — Trump took umbrage at the French assessment of the alliance, and he depicted France as the beneficiary of American largesse.

Macron, for his part, was fact-checking Trump in real time as the discussion unfolded in front of reporters.


► The House Intelligence Committee will likely vote today to move its impeachment inquiry report to the House Judiciary Committee as the latter prepares to begin drawing up articles of impeachment.


► “Nuh-uh!” That’s essentially what House Republicans are saying in their latest defense of President Trump. As Politico reports:

According to a draft copy of the GOP’s formal rebuttal, Republicans will assert that Democrats failed to unearth evidence that Trump committed impeachable offenses when he asked Ukraine’s president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden.

The Republicans’ 123-page report largely reiterates their previous defenses of the president and blasts House Democrats for pursuing impeachment, painting the effort as an attempt to reverse the results of the 2016 presidential election. The report forms the basis of their response to allegations that Trump abused his power to solicit foreign assistance in the 2020 election…

…House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) dismissed the GOP report’s conclusions as “intended for an audience of one,” and said it “ignores the voluminous evidence” against the president.

In response to Schiff’s comments, House Republicans declared, “I know you are, but what am I?”

The Denver Post, meanwhile, has more on how two Colorado Congressmen are about to take a center stage in the impeachment inquiry.


► Check out this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, with Alan Franklin filling in for Ian Silverii and Jason Bane filling in for dead air.

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


The Get More Smarter Podcast: No Defense? Just Make Stuff Up!

This week on The Get More Smarter Podcast, ProgressNow Colorado Political Director Alan Franklin joins Jason Bane to talk about a new phase in impeachment proceedings that includes a Colorado connection; legislative plans to push forward on gun safety measures; and how Sen. Cory Gardner’s big BLM deal just keeps looking worse. Later, Alan performs well in “Duke or Donald,” the game that nobody can really win.

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


Tuesday Open Thread

“Democrats never agree on anything, that’s why they’re Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they would be Republicans.”

–Will Rogers


Cyber Monday Trump Grifting

What do you get for that person on your holiday shopping list that you secretly despise? Trump crap!

These “handmade Trump Christmas ornaments” are not a fundraising gimmick for President Trump’s re-election campaign or the Republican Party in general. You can only get this junk from, which calls itself “the official retail website of the Trump Organization.”

It’s good to be the king President.


Bennet Shows What Accountability Looks Like, Warts and All

Sen. Michael Bennet at a 2017 town hall meeting.

Colorado Public Radio’s Natalia Navarro reports on a town hall held by Colorado’s senior U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet in Denver last Friday–harkening back to the days when Colorado’s Senators routinely advertised in advance for anyone who wants to show up and lay on the hard questions in a public forum:

Sen. Bennet was in Colorado for his first constituent event in months Friday at the Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church in Denver. He said the only way to make meaningful progress on issues from climate change to immigration is to boot Trump from office.

“We can’t act on climate as long as we have a climate denier in the White House,” he told the crowd of about 200 people.

Much of the town hall focused on his presidential campaign, but Bennet said it’s not affecting his ability to serve Colorado as its senior senator.

“I follow what’s going on in Colorado when I’m here and when I’m not here,” Bennet said. “I think that I’ve continued to represent the state well and that will always be my first priority.”

The Denver Post’s Conrad Swanson:

He also offered his endorsement of former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who is now vying for the Democratic nomination in the race against the state’s vulnerable Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.

Bennet said the country should provide a public health care option, a route with more public support than the plans of several of his Democratic opponents, namely Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

“What I don’t want to do is spend the next 10 years fighting a losing battle for Medicare for all,” he said.

From missed votes in the Senate to Bennet’s controversial disparagement of leading Democratic presidential candidates while pursuing his own longshot run, base Democratic voters had plenty to take issue with, and by all accounts they did–holding Bennet’s feet to the fire for over an hour in Friday’s town hall. Despite fielding hard questions from the mostly left-leaning Denver audience, Bennet impressed the crowd with strong answers on impeachment, stating he is a “likely vote to convict,” and unequivocally making the case for robust action on climate that can only begin once Donald Trump is out of office.

Although Sen. Bennet has arguably been spending lots of time with voters as a presidential candidate, we’re very glad to see him hold a town hall back home, even if not all of his answers were likely to satisfy the audience. Bennet’s willingness to be held accountable by the voters he represents throws the refusal of Sen. Cory Gardner to afford Coloradans the same courtesy into harsh relief. If Bennet can stand and deliver even the unpopular answers as a 2020 candidate, there’s absolutely no reason why Cory Gardner can’t.

In so doing, Bennet’s example hurts Gardner more than anything Bennet himself could say.


Cory Gardner’s BLM Bad Deal Gets Even Badder

Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

The Hill reports, with a hat tip to Michael Karlik of the Colorado Springs Gazette:

A new internal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) website designed to answer employees’ questions about the agency’s upcoming relocation out West says staffers should expect a drop in their overall pay.

The information was included in an internal page available to staff seen by The Hill that contained questions and answers about the controversial plan to move most D.C.-based BLM employees and establish a new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colo…

Locality pay in Washington boosts base salaries by nearly 30 percent. Locality pay in many other parts of the country increases pay by about 15 percent. [Pols emphasis]

A question about whether employees can keep the locality pay that contributes to their current salary, the answer is a simple, “No, this is not an option.”

For something that vulnerable incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner has staked high-profile claim to as a big success justifying his re-election against the prevailing political trends in Colorado, the relocation of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to Grand Junction has in practice rewarded Gardner with one negative headline after another.

First, the small number of positions relocating to Grand Junction shrank the perceived economic benefit. Then public lands experts condemned the move as a brazen right-wing engineered plan for weakening the BLM’s power. Then employees rebelled to the extent they were able. Then came lawsuits and the selection of office space in Grand Junction literally in the same building as oil and gas producers.

Now, affected BLM employees can look forward to a pay cut for their trouble too. While it’s certainly true that the cost of living in the Washington, D.C. area is higher than Grand Junction, a pay cut is a pay cut–and for employees who we assume are not living hand to mouth today, the loss of income could easily exceed the benefit of Grand Junction’s lower cost of living. There’s nothing here to improve employee morale here either way, which at this point most people understand is a feature not a bug in the plan.

Congratulations all around, especially Colorado’s junior U.S. Senator.


How Today’s Nazis Beat The High Cost of Living

James Mason, the Nazi “welfare queen” of Denver.

We wrote earlier in the holiday weekend about the story of an “Antifa brawl” in Pueblo, an incident comically failed to withstand the scrutiny it never got in the retelling by conservative media. But on the other hand, if you’re looking for real-life According to Hoyle Nazis, right here in Denver and without any embellishment necessary, NBC News via 9NEWS’ Jeremy Jojola has got you covered:

A fan of Charles Manson and follower of Hitler, James Mason published essays in the 1980s that now act as the inspiration for a militant neo-Nazi group linked to multiple murders in the U.S.

“Revolutionary discipline must mean that WE will be the single survivor in a war against the System,” Mason wrote in 1985. “A TOTAL WAR against the System.”

But nowadays, Mason isn’t waging war with the system. He is, in fact, dependent on it.

The 67-year-old white supremacist lives in a government subsidized apartment in Denver and eats at soup kitchens. [Pols emphasis]

Through Jojola’s local report a week ago on neo-Nazi “thought leader” James Mason, we learned for the first time about a new-ish Nazi group known as the Atomwaffen, which the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) tells us are most definitely what President Donald Trump would call “very fine people.”

AWD is organized as a series of terror cells that work toward civilizational collapse. Members, who can be fairly described as accelerationists, believe that violence, depravity and degeneracy are the only sure way to establish order in their dystopian and apocalyptic vision of the world. AWD’s chief influences are James Mason, Charles Manson, Joseph Tommasi and William Pierce. Their strategy for promoting and establishing national socialism can be traced back to The Order, the violent and capable white supremacist terror cell founded by Robert Jay Mathews in the 1980s.

You might be asking yourself, “why would a Nazi accept public assistance?” That seems a bit off message for one of America’s leading Nazis.  The answer is, we strongly expect, that being one of America’s leading Nazis has a profoundly negative effect on one’s employability. The public benefits available to qualifying needy Americans do not make ideological exceptions, and as distasteful as it may be for taxpayers to know they are paying a leading Nazi’s room and board, that’s probably not a policy anyone should want changed. With that said, in Mason’s individual case, suggesting that if his fellow neo-Nazis are going to kill people they should “do it right” might be enough to warrant a second look at his taxpayer-funded living on public safety grounds.

It is telling, one way or another, that while conservative media outlets like The Blaze ran hard with an as-it-turns-out fictional story about an “Antifa brawl” in Pueblo, there’s not a peep that we’ve found in any conservative media about Denver’s very real “Nazi welfare queen.” In fact, since these two stories aired on local and then national NBC News, Jojola has been bombarded on social media from the right–not with congrats for exposing a Nazi on the dole, but demanding to know why Antifa doesn’t get “the same” coverage.

For those of us following the local news headlines, this “whataboutism” is even more laughable.


Today in BS: The “Pueblo Antifa” Brawl That Wasn’t

With imagination and a little Photoshop, “Antifa” can be everywhere!

As KRDO-TV reports, you can’t believe anything everything you read on right-wing media:

According to large online conservative news outlets like The Blaze and Red State, it was a member of Antifa blocking traffic in a political protest that was seen in a viral video being thrown down and punched by an SUV driver last week in Pueblo.

But that’s not what happened, according to the Pueblo Police Department, and Sgt. Frank Ortega says there’s concern about the video being used as “propaganda.” [Pols emphasis]

Here’s how The Blaze, paragon of truth in media Glenn Beck’s disturbingly popular website, described this epic struggle between freedom and leftist thuggery that went down right under our noses in Steel City:

Last week, video surfaced showing an alleged Antifa member attempting to block an SUV in the road and harass someone before getting taught a lesson he won’t forget anytime soon.

The video, originally posted on LiveLeak, shows the agitator wearing the usual black mask getup seen on Antifa members and wielding some sort of weapon reminiscent of a baseball bat. Whatever it is, it ends up being completely useless to him…

Blocking roads, disrupting traffic, and carrying bludgeoning weapons has been the modus operandi of Antifa members over the last several years…[t]his time, the alleged Antifa protester picked on the wrong guy.

Except, back to KRDO’s story, this account has been, shall we say, dramatized:

According to Pueblo police, the driver told officers the altercation started because the masked pedestrian was blocking drivers from turning west onto 4th Street if they weren’t using a turn signal. [Pols emphasis]

So, in a way, the pedestrian was protesting — but the video got picked up by so-called conservative outlets to push a warped narrative…

[I]f the SUV driver’s statement to police is accurate, the only protest taking place was one against bad traffic habits.

So, we’re not going to endorse the practice of individuals upset about drivers not using their turn signal blocking traffic to make a point about safety, since that appears to be a great way to attract more trouble than this particular gentleman bargained for. We’d say there are better ways to express one’s displeasure over turn signal use, like maybe a letter to the editor. We certainly don’t endorse punching people who are only causing a momentary inconvenience either.

But if you’re looking for the latest battle in Antifa’s slap-happy struggle against global capitalist oppression, and the “very fine” Based Stickmen who vest up to brawl with them–the street protest equivalent of a self-licking ice cream cone–you’ll have much better luck in Portland than Pueblo.

And per usual in the outer orbits of conservative media like The Blaze and RedState, the banal truth is a few days behind the fake headline.